DARJEELING: The state government and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha seem headed for a direct confrontation in Darjeeling, with the administration relentless in its crackdown on GJM cadres and the Gorkhaland activists warning that the situation in the Hills could go “out of control”.
Morcha chief Bimal Gurung is likely to meet Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in Delhi in a day or two to place his demand for a Gorkhaland state, say GJM sources.
Police have arrested 111 Morcha activists, including at least 26 Gorkhaland Personnel, during the current wave of unrest, sending out a strong signal to the GJM leadership. Sixteen GLP cadres, all of them women, were arrested from Gorubathan in Kalimpong on Monday. They were charged with blocking roads and cutting phone wires and remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody.
Home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, who met police officers and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) principal secretary R D Meena at Richmond Hill here on Tuesday evening, is learnt to have instructed the authorities to deal sternly with law-breakers and reopen old cases against Morcha leaders and activists.
The Morcha is seething against the crackdown. “Innocent people are being arrested and framed in false cases. This is a sinister tactic to provoke more unrest and create panic in order to disturb our peaceful movement. If this continues, the situation will go out of control,” said GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang. He warned that the atmosphere in Darjeeling could get charged up and “anything could happen” under such circumstances.
What kept passions aflame in the Hills on Tuesday was the arrest of GJM central committee member and Bimal Gurung’s close aide Anit Thapa late Monday evening. Police said Thapa, a GTA member from Kurseong, was wanted in six cases, including a non-bailable one. He has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The spate of arrests brought thousands of protestors out on the streets in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong on Tuesday. “The police are forciblyarresting innocent people and leaders and implicating them in false cases. We will be left with no option but to intensify the agitation,” said Tamang.
GTA deputy chief executive and GLP in-charge Colonel (retired) Ramesh Allay accused the government of trying to “provoke the agitators to give the movement a violent turn”. “The GLPs arrested on Monday were merely posted at the construction site of Gorubathan Degree College. The government is provoking us and trying to test our patience,” he said.
Sources said that the home secretary asked the police to continue with the crackdown on GLP personnel. Banerjee wanted to know the situation in GTA after Gurung’s resignation and asked Meena to submit a report on the possible alternatives to keep GTA functioning without Morcha participation. (Source:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/West-Bengal-govt-Gorkha-Janmukti-Morcha-on-collision-course/articleshow/21665221.cms )
.All Party Delegation to New Delhi : An Appeal After the declaration by the UPA Government to carve out the state of Telangana as the 29th State of India, the century old demand for a separate state comprising of Darjeeling and Dooars has become an imminent possibility. The long cherished aspirations of the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars including that of the people in the hills like the Gorkhas, Bhutias, Lepchas and others and people in the plains like the Adivasis, Bengalese, Rajbongshis, Biharis, Marwaris and others and all religious groups like the Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are now likely to be fulfilled. A separate state will bring identity to its people; massive development for all in the hills and plains; ensure and strengthen national security in this region with four international boundaries; safeguard the cultures, history and heritage of our region; conserve natural resources and environment and connect our youths and institutions with national and global world. It will bring large number of national and global educational, heath, environmental and professional institutions to this region. It will also correct the historical injustices done to the people and the region. All our children and youths will have huge and diverse career opportunities. All the professionals and tea and cinchona workers and NGO activists will reach their professional heights. Huge public, private and foreign investments will flow and business-industrial ventures will thrive. It will be a tax free state like Sikkim and the North East region. And this new state will be one of the best states in the country. Bengal and the North East states and all other neighbouring states will gain. India will benefit. Today the situation in the hills is deteriorating which requires instant attention and the state government has to come above its usual role of maintaining law and order and governance. The State Government has to rise above its parochial thinking and accept this long pending demand. This is where the political sagacity and inclusive democratic values of the present Government will be tested. At the moment, the critical priority is to bring the hills back to peaceful normalcy. It is against this backdrop we propose a delegation of all political parties from Darjeeling district and Dooars to meet the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. The likely date of the meeting will exclusively depend on the office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. Depending upon the response of the political parties an effort would be made to seek the audience with the Hon’ble Prime Minister during 20-30 August 2013. It is a very critical moment for all of us to stand united both in the interest of our region and the country. We urge all the national and regional political parties and their esteemed leadership in Darjeeling district and Dooars to rise above the usual political bickering, parochial thinking, partisan actions and one-up-manship attitude. We appeal them to show that when it comes to a common cause like the Statehood demand we all are one and one only. We ought to respect a united platform. We also appeal to all the political parties, social and community organisations to maintain peace, tranquillity and stability for which we the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars are traditionally known for. In this proposed delegation, all the political parties will be represented by their distinguished Presidents and Secretaries. We would also appeal to all the present and former Members of Parliament and all the present and former Members of Legislative Assembly of Bengal to join this delegation. Political parties may kindly contact the following civil society members for their participation in the delegation. A comprehensive memorandum is being prepared for presentation before the Hon’ble Prime Minister. This will be circulated before hand to all the political parties to read and ratify. We also propose that this delegation is led by two senior most retired Army Officers, one from the hills and the other from the plains. This far reaching initiative would certainly bear fruits.
BK Pradhan, Darjeeling : Ph 9434045521
Bishnu Chettri, Kalimpong : Ph 9332044626 E mail : <firstname.lastname@example.org> Bharat Prakash Rai, Darjeeling Ph 9832031234 E mail : <email@example.com> Jiwan Nath Adhikari, Siliguri, Ph 9832388092 E mail : <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mahendra P Lama, New Delhi, Ph 09818686637 : <email@example.com> ——————————————————–
Proposed ALL Party Delegation to New Delhi Dear All, Warm greetings from New Delhi ! Let us start working on the modalities of organising and sending the delegation. Since it is a high level delegation only the heads of the political parties are included in the same. This is besides the MLAs and MPs both sitting and former. The following are the basic norms : i) we shall not provide any air/train/taxi fare ii) we shall not provide any accommodation. However we could arrange reasonably priced accommodations on payment basis. iii) we shall send the memorandum to be submitted to the Prime Minister much ahead of the meeting so that the parties could give their comments. iv) since the PMO may give appointment at a very short notice, all the political parties should be ready to reach Delhi at a very short notice. v) political parties from both the hills and the plains and also MPs and MLAs of all the parties from the hills and the plains. I hope there will be adequate response to our initiative. Please circulate this APPEAL NOTE to as many political parties as possible. Warm regards Mahendra P Lama”
THE HIMALAYAN BEACON [BEACON ONLINE]
BY BARUN ROY
I met an old friend from Calcutta today who asked me why I was so doggone interested in praying for people who were determined to divide Bengal. The friend who is a regular traveller from Calcutta was also disturbed by the strikes because it spoiled his vacation in Darjeeling. I was greatly saddened by my friend’s view on the present situation. However, what he thought or believed was symptomatic of what and how Calcutta viewed about things taking place in Darjeeling Hills. They believe that the demand for the state of Gorkhaland is a racist demand intended to break up Bengal. They say that since people from all ethnic backgrounds live in Darjeeling Hills, the demand for Gorkhaland (with implication on the state being called the land of the Gorkhas) is against the ethos of the Constitution of the nation. They further say that the district of Darjeeling is far better than other districts in the state. They also imply that Gorkhas have no rights to demand a state of their own in India because they have a country, Nepal. A section further goes on to imply that while they have tried to offer some restitute to the Gorkhas, the Gorkhas have proved, that they cannot rule themselves as witnessed by the functioning of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
I am afraid, the Calcutta centric politicians and elitists have begun losing grips over reality. What ails Darjeeling Hills today has spread over half of Bengal. Bengal is the only state today where people are demanding for the formation of 3 separate states. The rise of the Maoists insurgency has been greater than it ever has as there are daily gun battles being fought in the Central and Southern Bengal. There are villages and places merely 50 to 60 kilometers from Calcutta, where the villagers have not yet seen a public transport. And while the Calcutta centric politicians and the elitists engage in an unending debate drinking Darjeeling Tea, they forget that the Bhadralok’s version of Bengal only exists inside the Coffee Houses of Calcutta and beyond that there is nothing but deprivation, dejection and poverty. And the marks of the fangs of this serpent of poverty, dejection and deprivation can be seen on the necks of Bengalis, Tribals and Gorkhas and more so the tribals, whether they are Oraon, Totos, Santhals, Kochs, Yakthungbas, Khambus, Dhimals, Danuwars and so on spread across South, Central and North Bengal.
Today, the aboriginal people feel that the elitists and the politicians based in Calcutta have failed them. They have failed to understand their problems and above all failed to want to understand their problems. Wrapped in their imaginary wonder world they have forgotten that while those in Cities might be living the dream, those in the millions spread across the villages and tea gardens are living a nightmare, with no hope of the same ever ending.
In Darjeeling Hills, the Gorkhas want the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland. They believe that the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland will not just give them the right to self determination, it will once and for all the lay to rest the question of their identity. They further believe that much like in Bengal, where people of all race and caste and religion live even though the state is named Bengal and by meaning thereof, a state belonging to Bengali people, people of all race and caste and religion could live amicably in Gorkhaland. They further argue that if the demand for the formation of Gorkhaland is a racist demand and against the ethos of the Constitution, why then is the existence of such states as Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Orrisa etc, a Constitutional travesty if by name they suggest they are the land of Bengalis, Tamils and Oriyas respectively. Certainly, the name of these states should immediately be changed into for example West State, South State or South Western State if the ethos of the Constitution were to be upheld rendering the demand of the separate state of Gorkhaland or at least the name in which it is demanded redundant. But would that be possible? Would the names of the states based on Linguistic denominations be transformed into more involving democratic states? In all probability, the Bengalis in Bengal, the Tamils in Tamil Nadu or the Oriyas in Orissa would rise up in arms stating that any such attempts would spell an end to their existence. Why then, the Gorkhas argue, the demand for the state of Gorkhaland be deemed as a racist demand.
The issue of the citizenship of the Gorkhas has been put to the rest by the Gazette Notification of the Government of India. As for the infiltration of the Nepali citizens into Bengal, the Gorkhas stress could be easily taken care of by initiating visa system for travel between India and Nepal. In fact, the Gorkhas have been demanding the revision of the 1956 Indo Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, closing the border and initiating visa system for travel. This is also vitally important in the present terrorist threats to the nation. The open border between India and Nepal are being used by Terrorists of all shades and hues including those with affiliation with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and of course the Maoists insurgents who have racked havoc in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal and of course Nepal itself. Nepal too has suffered due to the open border. With the border closed and visa travel system initiated, the Gorkhas in India with proper papers would be much like Bengalis in Bengal easily distinguishable from a Bangladeshi. The Gorkhas, as bona fide citizens of India, have every right to demand from their Government any political or administrative right guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Gorkhas in the district of Darjeeling along with their fellow citizens from other communities and ethnic background from the region believe that the potential of the district spread across Darjeeling Hills and the Dooar Terai is immense and if indeed the full potential of the District was ever reached the District would rank second only to Calcutta, turning it into a most prosperous district in the state and probably the entire north east of India, which actually it was until after the first decade of the independence of the nation.
The Gorkhas further argue that the Calcutta centric politicians and elitists have actually gone contrary to the aspirations of the people of the region and economic theories of Macro-Economy by establish Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) dedicated to the development of the city of Siliguri and the parts of the district of Jalpaiguri overlooking the parts of the subdivision of Siliguri, and the subdivisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling. The rationale of the same has also been the “washing off hands” from the responsibility towards Darjeeling Hills and parts of Darjeeling Dooars through the formation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The Gorkhas argue, “The politicians in Calcutta ask us what you have done with the money sent for Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. If the Government was so concerned that the money was being misused or that the developmental works were not being carried out or their efforts not reaching the people, why did they not for once in the last 23 years of the DGHC’s existence audited its finance. The Government of West Bengal was responsible for the functioning of the DGHC as the DGHC was established by an Act of the State Legislative Assembly which gave the over all power over the DGHC to the Government of West Bengal. Indeed the State Government could make and break the General Council of DGHC as and when it desired. But it did not do so because; it wanted Subash Ghisingh, the GNLF Supremo to rule over Darjeeling Hills on its behalf. It was only forced to remove Subash Ghisingh after a mass popular movement rose up against Ghisingh. True that the Tea Gardens and the Cinchona plantations are on their deathbed and a lot of factors are responsible for the same, the Government of West Bengal and the particularly the Calcutta centric politicians and elitists who sip their morning cup of Darjeeling chai think all is well as long as they are served their morning cup of Darjeeling.”
The Gorkhas argue while all the districts in the state deserve equal treatment and attention by the Government, there are some who need and deserve more attention because they are special – Much like some parents having to care more and offer more attention to a special child, so that that special child could grow and support the parents in the future and make them proud and happy. Districts like Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri if developed to the fullest extent could support developmental activities in other districts and thereby add to the revenue and the general well being of the entire state itself.
In all the Calcutta centric politicians and elitists who read reports on newspapers and remind themselves of things they have heard or the experiences they have had during their childhood in Darjeeling and formulate their opinions based on the same fail to understand that much like the British they have become Colonialists looking down upon their own people as half educated, half rated people, who live as they do because that is all they are good for and who dream what they dream, because dreams are for dreaming… they have forgotten that what ails Darjeeling Hills is symptomatic of what is ailing the entire state.
The Calcutta Centric politicians and elitists must wake up and realize that Calcutta is not the Capital of the British Empire and they are not the British ruling over a colony. They must wake up and hear the cries of the mothers in Bankura, Midnapore, Hooghly, Nandigram, Murshidabad, Purulia, Nagarkata and Darjeeling. Whether these mothers are mourning the death of their son, who had been forced to join with the Maoists and rebel against the state, or a Gorkha to demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland or just an grief consumed man who could not take the atrocities of the Government and rose up to protest… before it is too late…
The Calcutta Centric politicians and elitists must get out of Calcutta and venture into the real Bengal. They must reach out to the people in the villages and tea gardens. All the people spread across the state be they Santhals, Oraons, Totos, Dhimals, Danuwars, Gorkhas and Bengalis and others must be given their rights, a chance to grow to their fullest potential so that they could serve the state and the nation and the entire humanity. Else it might be too late, and what we experience today might merely be the beginnings of a great storm, a storm of revolution, gathering itself in the horizon – A storm that could engulf not just a few parts of the state but the entire state!
(The Himalayan Beacon)
“The Bharatiya Janata Party does not support the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland.” West Bengal Pradesh Committee (Bharatiya Janata Party)
THE HIMALAYAN BEACON [BEACON ONLINE]
DARJEELING: Ritabrat Bandhopadhyay of the West Bengal Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party has refuted BJP Darjeeling Member of Parliament Jaswant Singh’s statement that “The state of Gorkhaland must be formed to resolve the long standing demand of the Gorkhas”. Bandhopadhyay said, “Jaswant Singh is known speak out of line. Whatever, he has said, is his personal opinion and not the official stand of the party on the issue of the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland. The Bharatiya Janata Party does not support the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland. Our party manifesto of 2009 does not specify anywhere that we support the formation of the state of Gorkhaland. It was mentioned that we would work for the rights of the Gorkhas and other tribal people in the region.”
Bandhopadhyay’s statement has brought about in open the difference in stand between the Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party and some of the national leadership of the party including the party MP from Darjeeling Jaswant Singh. Singh was not available for the comment.