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Ministry our due, we’ve more demands: Soren

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren on Friday sought infrastructure and other benefits for the State.

“My desire is not to just get the Coal Ministry. That is our bakaya (due). We have several other demands,” he told newspersons after a meeting with four other party Lok Sabha MPs here.

The five-member group voted in favour of the trust motion moved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after an agreement with the UPA leadership that the Coal portfolio would be restored to Mr. Soren.

Asked whether he felt the government might go back on its word, he said, “That [Coal Ministry] must be given without our asking for it. There should be an understanding on many other issues.”

Mr. Soren hinted that the JMM could compromise on the demand for a greater Jharkhand comprising areas of other States but sought Scheduled Tribe status for tribals of Jharkhand-origin living in other States.

Flanked by student leaders from Assam, Mr. Soren pointed out that the British had forcibly settled tribals from Jharkhand on tea estates. These people were being referred to as tea tribe or ex-tea tribe. “This term is insulting as a community cannot be related to a plant or bush. This derogatory terminology has deprived us of ST status,” said All-Adivasi Students Association of Assam secretary Joseph Minz.

The JMM also wanted the Centre to focus on developing roads and rail links and to set up a power plant in Jharkhand.

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