Church says protests are response to government failure

Church says protests are response to government failure Bishop Stephen Lepcha

Campaigns by the ethnic Gorkha people for a separate homeland in the Darjeeling area of eastern India are based in real grievances, according to the local Church.

The area has witnessed violent clashes since June 8, and although Darjeeling’s Bishop Stephen Lepcha said: “The Church is not directly involved in the protest,” he has added, “but the Church is with the people.”

Explaining that the locals want autonomy as the West Bengal government have not attended to their needs, Dr Lepcha,  said: “The problem arises here again because people do not see the government helping with any development in this hilly region. People suffer unemployment and poverty. The administration has failed miserably.”

Although Catholics are a small minority in the area, he said they were in a good position to work for peace. “We are in a process to find out some ways to help bring peace back to the region,” he said.