Morcha spares board selections

Darjeeling, Nov. 10: The annual examinations in hill schools will be deferred by at least a week to facilitate students’ participation in the movement for Gorkhaland being spearheaded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

The student agitation, which includes relay hunger strikes from tomorrow, is likely to continue till the third week of November when the tripartite talks on Gorkhaland are held in Delhi.

However, examinations of the primary section and selections for Classes X and XII board tests will be held according to schedule. With the annual exams being delayed, winter vacation in most schools is likely to start later this year.

The education institutes will be closed on November 13 to demand action against ABGL supporters who had allegedly pointed a pistol at a student rally brought out by the Morcha here on Saturday.

The decision to postpone the exam was taken at a meeting between the heads of almost 50 institutions and the Morcha leaders, including their chief Bimal Gurung, today.

“We had kept in mind the movement where students would be in the forefront,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha.

The students’ wing of the Morcha has decided to start a relay hunger strike of college and school goers from tomorrow in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik. The details of the school students’ participation in the movement are being worked out.

Apart from the fast, a rally will be organised by the students in Kalimpong, Mirik and Kurseong on November 12, 13 and 17 respectively.

“Because of these events, the decision to postpone the exams for at least a week was taken,” said Giri.

Annual examinations in most schools in the hills start from November 17. However, institutions like St Joseph’s (North Point) have their exams (see chart) in December.

Basant Kumar Rai, the principal of Ramakrishan Siksha Parisad, justified the involvement of the students in the movement. “Students in the hills have no future. There are neither medical or engineering colleges nor a university in the hills. That is why we need Gorkhaland.”

Keshav Raj Pokhrel, the general secretary of the Morcha student wing, today said the inspector-general of police (north Bengal), K.L. Tamta, would not be allowed to enter the hills to “protect Madan Tamang”.

In response to a Morcha call, all DGHC offices were shut today. Last week, around 7,000 of its contractual workers started a pen-down strike demanding permanent jobs.

“The indefinite shutdown has been called not only to stop tenders but also to support the contractual workers’ demand for regularisation of work,” said Giri.

Most Group A employees of the council — mostly deputy magistrates with additional charges as executive officers of the DGHC —worked from their chambers located in the district magistrate’s office. (The Telegraph)

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Buddhadeb Holds Talks With GJM Representatives

“We have no problem with the convening of a tri-partite meeting over Darjeeling developments with the participation of the state Left Front government, the union UPA government, and the agitating groups: however, there must be a bipartite consensus between the state government and the agitationsists first.’  

Thus, said the Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at the Writers’ Buildings, after he had met a delegation of the separatist outfit, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) recently.

Speaking to mediapersons after the meeting, Buddhadeb said that “all of us in Bengal, whether of the hills or of the plains have been together in the past, and can certainly remain as one in the days to come, in an ambience of amity, coordination, cooperation, and above all, peace.”  There is really no need for a separatist state, a small separate entity.

However, said Buddhadeb, ‘there remains much scope yet of further development of the hill areas of the Darjeeling district in particular.’  Economic, financial, and administrative powers in greater measure could be devolved on the Gorkha Hill Council, which already enjoys a large degree of autonomy.  


NO TO PARTITION

Buddhadeb said that he was ready to discuss all the issues with the representatives of the agitationsists. The consensus, however, should be reached within the provisions of the Indian Constitution and not outside of it, he stressed.  Unless there was such a consensus reached, Buddhadeb saw the tripartite meeting yielding little concrete results beyond becoming a cosmetic exercise.  The Left Front government would not agree to a partition of Bengal, he asserted.

The representatives of the agitationsists told the media that they would not ‘stop short of a separate ‘Gorkhaland’ state’.  The agitation, they declared would continue, but would hold an onerous silence when asked as to the form the movement / agitation would take. The agitationsists had earlier told Buddhadeb that they would make their views known to him after a ‘consultation with the higher leadership up in Darjeeling.’  ‘We want ‘Gorkhaland’‘ was their muttering, worrying chant in the corridors of the Writers’ Buildings as they left for the hills.


GURUNG TO GO UNDERGROUND

In the hills, in the meanwhile, a slightly ominous-sounding development has unfolded.  Addressing one of the innumerable PR meetings that Gurung holds every day, with various social and professional groups in the hill sub-divisions, he said that he ‘would have to go underground’ before the Gorkhaland would be born.  He was addressing, at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, a group of teachers of the many schools and colleges that Darjeeling is proud of, including such nationally noted educational institutions as the St Paul’s of Darjeeling town, the Dowhill School in Kurseong, the Loreto convent and the Loreto college at Darjeeling town, St Joseph’s and Darjeeling government colleges, and Dr Graham’s Home in Kalimpong that are quite famous all over the country for their high degree of professional teaching methods, and where a great many children from outside of the Darjeeling district study.

At that meeting, Gurung said that ‘Gorkhaland is a certainty, this way, or that, by 2010, but I shall be underground for six months and that will be the signal that ‘Gorkhaland’ is coming.’ He would not elaborate further on this oddly-cryptic uttering, giving rise to an apprehension of violence in the days ahead. Gurung also ordered all the teachers of the district to deposit one day’s pay every month from now on, in the funds of the Morcha.  The teachers told us that they feared the worse. (People’s Democracy)

(B Prasant)