August agitation for Chattrey and tea

Darjeeling, Aug. 10: A series of strikes and agitation programmes have been lined up in the hills for August, including a 12-hour shutdown on the 22nd and a tea strike tomorrow.

While the August 22-bandh has been called by the CPRM, the call for the tea strike to protest against the planters’ refusal to accept proposed wages for workers is from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Going by its earlier assurances to keep the hills strike-free till Pujas for tourists, the Morcha has promised that tomorrow’s protest will not spill out of the gardens.

Bimal Gurung’s party, however, said it has got nothing to do with the 12-hour shutdown on August 22. “The CPRM has been observing this day for several years and this time around we will not interfere in any way,” a central committee member of the Morcha said.

The bandh has been called by the youth wing of the CPRM to mark Betrayal Day.

“It was on this day in 1988 that Subash Ghisingh had signed the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council accord which sealed the fate of the demand for a separate state. We have decided to protest against the Betrayal Day through a general strike. The strike has also been called in support of Gorkhaland,” said D.S. Bomzom, the spokesperson for the CPRM.

The bandh is also a demand for the speedy trial of Chattrey Subba, who has been accused of masterminding the assassination attempt on Ghisingh in February 2001 and has been lodged in Jalpaiguri District Correctional Home since then.

“We want the trial to be completed as soon as possible. It is unjust to lock up someone for seven years without completion of a trial,” said Bomzom. The token strike in gardens tomorrow has been called by the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, a Morcha affiliate, which has also lined up several agitation programmes.

“We will start a 24-hour relay hunger strike in the gardens from August 13 after which a fast-unto-death will begin from the 16th,” said Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the union. “The agitation will not spill out of the gardens.”

The union has also decided to stop the garden managements from lifting made-tea from August 16 as part of its protest against the failure of the wage revision meeting held in Calcutta on Friday.

Industry sources said the gardens in the hills currently have a stock of 2.2 lakh kg of made tea. The meeting, which was called by the state labour department, failed to break the deadlock despite seven rounds of talks since July 1. The revised wages were supposed to have been implemented from April this year.

Labour unions from across the state are demanding an increase of Rs 15 in the daily wage of garden workers to be spread over a period of three years. The planters, however, have refused to agree to the hike. The current wage of permanent garden workers in the hills is Rs 53.90 per day.

On July 30, the Morcha chief had assured the Darjeeling Gorkha Hotel Owners’ Association that his party would not “disturb” the festivities. “Puja is an important festival when a large number of tourists come to Darjeeling,” Gurung had said.

The same assurance was repeated on August 6 when the Morcha told tourism minister Manab Mukherjee that it will refrain from calling strikes during the festival season, although it did not rule out the possibility of holding rallies and dharnas. “The relaxation is for the festival season and it stays. The tea strike has nothing to do with it,” Binay Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, said today.  (The Telegraph)


Frequent Highway bandhs proving to be expensive for the State: CM

GANGTOK, August 08: The Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today said that the signature campaign for a separate state of Gorkhaland, which was carried out by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Sikkim does not make sense at all in the State and should instead be carried out in Darjeeling and other parts of the country.
He was speaking during the Tendong Lho Rum Faat celebration at the Sikkim Government College auditorium here today.
While condemning the GJM-imposed bandh of the National Highway 31A yesterday, the Chief Minister said that Sikkim has been bearing the brunt of frequent bandhs called by poltical outfits from neighbouring states since 1986 with huge revenue loss.
“The Gorkhaland demand is purely a matter between the West Bengal Government and the Central Government. We have nothing to say on this and we should not be unnecessarily harassed in the event,” he said.
“The State suffers a loss of Rs 3 crore, 7 lakhs every day whenever the NH31A is forced closed,” he said.
On the seat reservation issue, Mr. Chamling maintained that no one will snatch away the 12 Bhutia-Lepcha reserved seats.
The Chief Minister also informed of his recent visit to New Delhi during which he met with the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and brought before them the immediate issue of Limboo and Tamang seat reservation.
Talking about the construction of an express highway in the State, the Chief Minister informed that the State Government has written a letter to the American Embassy in India requesting for a report on the authenticity of the Star Universal Inc, the company who has been shown interest in the mega project.
Mr. Chamling said that the Prime Minister has assured that Rs 1800 crores would be sanctioned for the double laning of the National Highway. The construction of the airport will also begin shortly, he said.
On the efforts of his government towards conservation of the State’s cultural heritage, Mr. Chamling talked about the construction of the ‘stairway to heaven’ in Daramadin, West Sikkim and said that the work is incomplete as no engineers could provide a design of his expectation. At the same time, the Chief Minister called for more research works from the Lepcha youth in terms of culture, tradition and literature. “The State Government has also plans to set up a Lepcha museum near the structure of the stairway, he added. (Sikkim Express)

GJM announces one-month sabbatical from strike, bandh

Kolkata, July 5 Period between July 7 and Aug 7 to be utilised for groundwork for tripartite talks
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has decided not to impose bandhs and strikes in Darjeeling from July 7 to August 7. During this period, efforts will be intensified to prepare the ground for a tripartite meeting with the state and Central governments over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland. The decision was taken at a central committee meeting of the GJM on Saturday.

GJM spokesman Roshan Giri said the Nepali community in Darjeeling holds prayer meetings in July and August. And in view of this, the central committee had unanimously decided not to organise any bandhs and strikes during the one-month period.

The GJM’s boycott of government offices, however, will continue. Timber movement from forests will also not be allowed. There will be no work done at the DGHC office, too. Post offices, banks and Food Corporation of India godowns will be exempted from the boycott on Mondays and Fridays.

Giri claimed that GJM’s programme of introducing GL (Gorkahaland) number plates for vehicles will be implemented from July 7. In the first phase, only GJM’s central committee members will change the number plates of their vehicles. In the next phase, government vehicles will be asked to do the same and finally, the public will be asked to shift to GL number plates. When told that the district administration had threatened action if car registration numbers were tampered with, the Morcha leader said: “The state government and its administration are free to take any action.” (Expressindia)

GJM further relaxes indefinite bandh in Darjeeling

KOLKATA: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) today further relaxed the indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling hills, which was to resume from tomorrow, till August 7.
“The relaxation is to pave the way for tripartite talks for a separate Gorkhaland state,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
During the relaxation period, people in the hills would hold prayer meetings in support of Gorkhaland, he said.
From tomorrow, however, the GJM would enforce closure of all central and West Bengal government offices, hill council offices and hydel projects in the hills, but banks, post offices and FCI offices would be allowed to function on Mondays and Fridays, Giri said.
This was decided at the party’s central committee meeting presided over by GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
The indefinite bandh began on June 16, but a 60-hour relaxation was given from 6:00 pm of June 22, which was further relaxed till July five.
Reiterating its demand for a tripartite meeting in Delhi, Giri said Bimal Gurung had written yesterday to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his reply was awaited.
On enforcing ‘Gorkhaland'(GL) numberplate on vehicles from July 7, he said those of GJM central committee members would first adopt it, which would be followed by those of government and private vehicles and taxis. (Economic Times)