Darjeeling became a district in 1866

nepali Journal from Kurseong

Scanned map from Gorkha Times: nepali Journal from Kurseong

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Greatest Atom Bomb happens to be the Himalayas and it is Switched On. Any Slightest Ignition Would Spell Doom`s Day

Greatest Atom Bomb happens to be the Himalayas and it is Switched On. Any Slightest Ignition Would Spell Doom`s Day

Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams: Chapter 11

Palash Biswas

http://www.troubledgalaxydetroyeddreams.blogspot.com/

Every one in the Himalayas happens to be a Sleeping Dynamite! It may explode anytime, any where! The State power doesn`t have any clue of it and has no solution except Military. Since Himalayas have to be ruled to exploit its manpower and natural resources, the State power has no language to deal with it except the language of continuous repression and persecution! It is happening in Darjeeling once again. Bengali Communalism is reincarnated to bail out the Marxist Gestapo ruling Hegemony from its self employed , suicidal Ways of Capitalist Development resulting in Nandigram and Singur Insurrections and afterwards duster in Panchayat elections threatening its very existence!

Ashok Bahattachary, the Urban development Minister of West Bengal government was looking on Darjeeling and Hill affairs for the Chief minister Brand Buddha Brand Yuddha! Ashok Babu first called all the tourists not to visit Darjeeling. Now, he ahs branded the leader of Gurkha Janamukti Morcha, spearheading the latest version of the movement as anti social!

Who created this Bimal Gurung?

We all know who created Jarnail Singh Bhinderwala. We all Indian had felt well the heat of Khalistan Movement. While the extreme general violence that marked the Gorkhaland movement is now a memory, political violence continues to dog and destabilise these hills.

We witness that. And, forgive me we have to witness this thanks to Ashok Bhattacharya and Buddhadev Bhattachary along with Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Somnath Chatterjee, Sunil Gangopaddhyaand Pranab mukherjee. All of these gentlemen belong to elite Bengali Brahmin castes!

I shared the Himalayan experience as I am destined with my community. I am born and brought up in Uttarakhand and I spent my young life in Nainital during intense Chipko Movement. I was also destined to witness the Changes across the Himalayas all over from Kashmir to Nepal, Sikkim to Tibet, Gorkhaland to Nagaland and Bhutan. Himalayas has been victimised all the time and the Himalayan people happen to be the ultimate displaced and disturbed, indigenous Community as a whole where every road happens to be vertical as the rivers are. They flow to the Plains as the Manpower and the Women! I feel the hearts and mind all the time.

In 2002, in the month of September, I visited Darjeeling and Sikkim amidst heavy rain. I had to witness a Bharat Bandh and was stranded in Siliguri before landing in Darjeeling. At that time I tried my best to contact Subas Ghising. But he was not reachable. I visited the Darjeeling Press club where my journalist friends told me all about the Power caucus of Ghising! He was losing the grip since then. The Marxists could not realise the facts of the open secret. Marxists continued the Deal with Ghising and went in accordance with Ghising directives at the cost of the Entire Gurkha population!

Gorkaland is the name given to the area around Darjeeling and the Duars in north West Bengal in India. Residents of the area, mostly Gorkhas have long demanded a separate state for themselves to preserve their Nepali identity and to improve their socio-economic conditions.

It is raining heavily in West Bengal. The State Machinery is busy with ensuring civic facilities to the stranded Metro Privileged people. The crisis is dealt with urgency. This essence of Urgency or priority has been quite absent all these years since the first of Gorkhaland agitation, full two decades. It is as similar as the continuous influx of refugees from the other part of Bengal in West Bengal and all the North east states. Rather the Brahmins of Bengal en-cashed the tragedies of millions of indigenous people uprooted in the power game and bargaining in the best interest of the South Asian ruling class. The Government of India never tried to chalk out a Refugee Policy as far as the East Bengal Refugees are concerned. The Bengali Marxists got the political mileage with a strong Refugee vote Bank. Demographic Balance for the Brahmin dominance was the topmost priorities to hold on state Power for the Brahmins. thus, it became mandatory to export SC refugees out of Bengal to deny Dalit Muslim combination in future. But the refugee influx continued as it proofed a tasty meat for the ruling parties ruling different states. East Bengal refugees proved to be pet and mobile Vote Bank. When they tried to get back in Bengal with Marichjhanpi movement initially initiated by Comrade Jyotiu Basu to constitute a favourable vote bank, Marxists were already at home in the Writers Building. It took no time to massacre the refugees.

Thus, with continuous insurgency problems in Kashmir and North east, Nationality uprisings everywhere, neither the Government of India nor the Sate Governments ever tried to make a Himalayan Policy.

Instead, they chose the Himalayas for continuous Rape. All the concerned Sate Powers of Asia including China and India are habitual to be engaged in this gang rape.

Hence, all political parties ally to crush any movement in Himalayas.

Left Congress combine as well as the Centre and the West Bengal government are speaking in the same language. The language is quite trendy to tame the slaves.The issue of Gorkhaland has come back with a bang this time amidst much protest from Nepalis and Non-Nepalis alike. The Gorkhaland issue was not just a fight for a separate state but it was a battle of identity for the Gorkhas of Darjeeling. The people in the hills of West Bengal have been very touché about the separate identity that they have been craving for, since the early 1900’s.It of course did not help that some leaders both regional as well as national in the shadow of ignorance, one would like to believe have called the Gorkhas “illegal immigrants”.

If some indigenous nationality or community chose to break the sickles of this infinite slavery the result happens to be the same as it turned out to be in Nepal and Sikkim!

Once the master of the Hills and harbinger of the Gorkhaland movement in the late eighties, Gorkha National Liberation Front chief and former administrator of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Subash Ghising is now a lonely man.

Even as the demand for a separate state has been revived, throwing the Hills into a turmoil all over again, the man who started it all remains cut-off from the agitation.

The Gorkhaland Movement which started in the mid 80s had a major impact on the whole social structure of Darjeeling.During this movement which lasted for a few years,Darjeeling saw the finest of schools closing down for months in a row because of strikes ,night life ceased to exist and almost all public activities came to a sudden halt.This also had an impact on the music scenario in Darjeeling and the musicians had to go through the darkest period in the history of Darjeeling.Thus started the downfall of music and the social structure of Darjeeling.

Confined within the four walls of his palatial house on Gandhi Road, a stone’s throw from Lal Kothi, the Gorkha leader is now a recluse and doesn’t meet people other than a handful of die-hard followers who haven’t deserted him.

For the rest of the Hill folks, Ghising is a traitor who bartered their cause and allowed himself to be a puppet in the hands of the state government.

The giant gate leading to the bungalow is manned by a few people who glance at passers-by with suspicion. There’s no one else to be seen – a stark contrast from the late eighties and nineties when hundreds would queue up to meet the leader. They included leaders, ministers, party workers and the common people. With DGHC losing its credibility among its own people, Ghising’s fall from grace was quick. The Gorkhaland movement died out and the people around him soon disappeared.

The West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) have agreed on tripartite talks involving the Centre on the contentious issue of a separate state of Gorkhaland.
But the GJM has ruled out withdrawing the indefinite strike that it began in Darjeeling on Monday.It says such a decision would depend on the outcome of the tripartite talks.

“We will not call off the bandh. We are for a tripartite meeting and the question of withdrawing the bandh will depend on the course of discussions in a tripartite meeting,” GJM President Bimal Gurung was quoted as saying by PTI in Darjeeling on Tuesday.He said West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had earlier set precondition for talks with GJM saying discussion could be held keeping aside the separate statehood demand but now he said the government did not have any precondition for talks.

Officials of the Sikkim government have decided to refrain from commenting on the Gorkhaland issue. The Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha had appealed to the Sikkim government on Sunday from its meeting at Tribeni in Kalimpong sub-division to press the Centre for the creation of Gorkhaland. Mr BB Gooroong, adviser to the Sikkim chief minister said: “It would be too early to comment anything in this contest,” is all what he offered.
Mr Goorong said: “We want to see Darjeeling prosper and are ready to help. We want the Gorkhas to have their own identity and we morally support them.”
The Sikkim government has pleaded the Centre and the West Bengal government to ensure that the National Highway connecting the hill state with the rest of the country remains open and is not blocked due to the turmoil in the Darjeeling hills.
The state chief secretary Mr ND Chingapa has also sent letters to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and appealed to the Union cabinet secretary, West Bengal chief secretary and home secretary to ensure that the NH-31A, which is the lifeline to Sikkim, is kept open for the supply of essential commodities and services to the state.
“If the bandh in the Darjeeling hills continues, the situation in the state would be unmanageable,” Mr Chingapa said. “As part of the emergency measures to meet any eventuality that may occur during the indefinite bandh convened by the GJMM in the Darjeeling hills, the state food and civil supplies department has been asked to ration petrol and LPG and stock up essential foodgrains,” he added.

Earlier, in March this year, the Sikkim Legislative Assembly had adopted a resolution demanding compensation from the West Bengal government and the Centre for the frequent snag of NH-31A.

The Darjeeling town wore a deserted look today following the indefinite bandh convened by the GJMM. Hundreds of Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha activists took out a rally along the Mall shouting slogans in support of Gorkhaland.
A rally participant, Mrs Anjana Sharma today said that despite the shutdown the party activists would continue to stage rallies everyday to keep the spirit of the movement alive. “Staying quiet would send wrong signals to the state government and the Centre. Our commitment to the cause is fixed,” she said.
The crowd dispersed leaving the town desolate. The people chose to stay indoors as it rained incessantly throughout the day. The bandh, however, passed off peacefully without any untoward incident reported from anywhere in the town

The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland sharply divided parties on regional lines on Tuesday, with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reiterating there will be no Gorkhaland at an all-party meeting in Kolkata, while Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung — at another ‘all-party’ meet in the Hills — flaunted the Hill representatives of 13 parties, who not only attended the meet but also endorsed Gurung’s demand.
Bhattacharjee said a political dialogue was the only way out, hinting that a tripartite meeting between the state, Centre and the GJM could be arranged to talk things over. Of the 16 parties invited to the meeting, 12 sent their representatives to the Writers’ Buildings. Those who kept away were the Trinamool Congress, the SUCI, the GNLF and Naren Hansda’s faction of the Jharkhand Party.

The unanimous resolution passed in this meeting read: “More efforts should be made to enhance the standard of living of the people of Darjeeling as well as to improve the economic and social conditions of the people there. Without changing the geographical contours of West Bengal, the issue of expanding the administrative and financial powers of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council can be considered with sympathy.”

Meanwhile, Gurung’s meeting decided the GJM would ask the Centre to create a separate Gorkhaland, comprising areas of Darjeeling and those contiguous to the Dooars.

Hill representatives of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and even the CPI have ratified this demand, the GJM claimed. However, except for the state leadership of the BJP, no other party highcommand was too happy about these men.

Trinamool Congress general secretary Partha Chatterjee said, “Party member Gopal Singh Chhetri, who attended Gurung’s meeting, was not authorised to do so by the Kolkata headquarters.”

Meanwhile CPI’s Mohan Singh Rai — the party leader in Darjeeling and a former MLA from Kalimpong— is staring at an angry leadership because he had not taken permission to attend Gurung’s meeting. The party’s state secretary Manju Majumder said, “He has violated the party’s decision and we shall take action against him.”

Congress’ Dasmunsi said, “The politician who attended the Hill meeting, saying he belonged to the Congress, is not even an office-bearer.”

However, BJP’s Rahul Sinha said, “Our representative was sent to attend the meeting, though what he said was entirely his personal opinion.” The BJP favours smaller states, he said.

A copy of the GJM’s resolution has been faxed to the President, the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and all important central leader— ¿ both in government and in the Opposition. Chief Minister Bhattacharjee has also got one, GJM’s publicity chief Benoy Tamang said.

Assam, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand, all these states suffered most for the Bengali ruling Hegemony. Even the Dalits and Muslims, the tribals and backwards turned to be the slaves of Brahmins in bengal. East Bengal based dalits were driven out of Bengali History and geopolitics without any resistance.

Thus, the ruling Marxists in West Bengal underestimated the Militant Gorkhas and never expected any change in the Hills. Famine in sick tea gardens was denied. Unemployment never addressed. No serious attempt was made to develop the Hills. For Bengalies all the Himalayas regions including Darjiling happened to be tourist spots or hillsatation with spellbound landscape. They are totally detached with the Humanscape. The story is not different in other parts of Asia, including the Maoist Dragon, China.

Gorkhaland Agitation followed by end of Monarchy in Nepal and a violent uprising in Tibet exposes the Himalayan psyche. You can not kill it. you have to deal with it. But the ruling hegemonies are never habitual to behave.

Gorkhaland is the latest battlefield in this divided bleeding subcontinet where nationalities along with indigenous and underclass people are enslaved for time infinite. Whenever any attempt is made to break the oldest sackles, Ethnic Cleansing and Genocides happen to be only answer from the ruling Hegemony. It happened in Tibet. It occured in east pakistan, now Bangladesh. It continues to happen all over the Himalayas by different State Powers. Sometimes it is Military Islamic Rule. Sometimes it is some great spirit, say ideology as Maoism and Marxism. Sometimes it is Manusmriti and Castebased Hindutva. Sometimes it is colonisation and Imperialism. Sometimes Monarchy and Religion. Sometimes Globalisation, Privatisation and Liberalisation. Sometimes it is War and Civil War. Now it is pure marxism playing Havoc in the Himalayas!

The story is always same. The result is always same.

The West Bengal government on Tuesday hinted it was not averse to discussing the Gorkhaland issue with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, saying more power for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council may be considered, even though an all-party meeting convened .

The crucial Left-UPA meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the India-US nuclear deal has been postponed by a week till June 25 but the Communist parties are not changing their opposition to the agreement.The official reason for the postponement was that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee was busy with the delegation of visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but sources tell CNN-IBN the Government is buying time to arrive at a consensus with the Left parties.

The four-party Left Front has refused to allow the Government to finalise the India-specific safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it believes that the move would put the nuclear agreement with Washington in “auto pilot mode”.

Mukherjee, who heads the 15-member UPA-Left committee, tried hard to convince CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat about the nuclear deal when they met on Monday night and Tuesday night but to no avail.

Sources told CNN-IBN that the Government had again conveyed that it wanted to go ahead with the talks with IAEA but the Left Front wasn’t convinced.

Meanwhile,the deadlock between the Rajasthan government and the Gurjars has finally ended with the community getting a special category reservation of five per cent from within the existing Other Backward Castes (OBC) quota.The government also announced five per cent quota for Rebaris and Banjaras.The stalemate ended at the end of the fifth round of talks between Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Gurjar leader Colonel (retd) Kirori Singh Bainsla in Jaipur on Wednesday.Raje expressed satisfaction that the talks have been fruitful and that will put and an end to the agitation that has been on for about a month now.

Raje made the announcement in the presence of Col Bainsla and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Das Agarwal who had led the government side in the talks with the Gurjars.

The Himalayas is not a Geographical or Geological entity only. It is live. Absolute statepower never understands this. Thus, whenever the Statepower addresses the Hiamalayas is is always a military solution. Thus, we have to bear with AFPSA for full Six decades.

Latest play of Gorkhaland Politics is a classic example how the Ruling Hegemony treats the nationalities, indigenous people, dalits, tribals, backward classes and minorities. There is a rule of silent terror and intimidation in West Bengal under the Brahminical Marxist Rule for long thirtyone years! Bengal is one of the first states in india which came in contact with the British and imbibed their Imperialist Culture.It is an classic example of feudal communal imperialist system under Caste Hindu hegemony.

They divided India to establish Caste Hindu Brahminical Hegemony . Bengali ruling Class was most instrumental in Partition as they had no hope for governance in United bengal ruled by muslim and dalit majority. Hindu Mahasabha played the key role igniting Communalism and Muslim League politics of two nationalities.

It is well exposed that the West Bengal based Indian Marxist movement banks heavily on West Bengal brand Brahminical bengali Communalism. Thus, they rule. This continuous Communal Mobilisation and Vote Bank Equations with havoc Demographic Readjustment has been halted by Nandigram Singur Indigenous Peasant Uprising. Encashing on peasant movements from preindependence era particularly Tebhaga and Food Movements the Marxists in West Bengal captured Writers Buildings. They enabled Land Reforms and it followed with Rural development. With introduction of Panchayati System, Marxist Gestapo esclated its roots on Grass root level. But Insurrection in Nandigram and Singur undermined the timetested Votebank and demographic equations as Muslims as well as Dalits crossed fences to oppose the marxists. Marxists were able to hold on the most of the district boards, but the results in Gram Panchayats and Gramsabha turned to be alarming as the Left front lost half of the Gram sabha seats. Once again the East Bengal based militant Dalits, the Namoshudras and Paundras in North and South 24 Pargans, Nadia, Howrah and East Midnapur took the initiative to change the power equation allying with Muslims.
It is quite reminscent with Interim Governments while Fazlul haq, Nazibullah and Suharawardi held the helms of power!

Marxists always used its best tool of Bengali Brahminical Communalis against other castes, groups and communities to ensure nonchallangeable dominance of Hundred or Two hundred ruling Brahmin families in every sphere of life. With introduction of Gorkhaland movement, it was successful to strike a deal with Subas Ghising, then the greatest Gorkha Icon. darjiling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council was established and the power was transfered to GNLF supremo, Ghisning. he ruled the Hills with lietinents like Bimal Gurung, Subba and others. it was perfect deal to share power without addressing the Gorkha Nationalities and the genuine problems of Hills. The ploy was on despite continuous strategic and security warnings of the Centre.

No one looks on the Himalays beyond Religious salvation, Expedition, Tourism, Sex, Military recruitment, domestic help and security and the exploitation of resources.

Ruling Class of India is never concerned with the so called Myth of National Integrity, Unity, sovereignity, Democracy , Human rights, Environment, the Himalayas itself with its strategic importance and the Himalayan people beyond its vested intest. Thus the Brahminical media highlights only on revenue losses, not on the plight of Himalayan People.

Turning down Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s request to hold talks with West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha on Saturday reiterated it was open to a tripartite dialogue involving the Centre only if the central issue was Gorkhaland.

GJM secretary Roshan Giri said, “We haven’t received any formal communication from the external affairs minister. But we have made our point clear. We are interested in a tripartite meeting and nothing else. We will go to Delhi for talks on a one-point agenda – Gorkhaland. We will go to Delhi to meet Central government leaders and tell them our grievances.”

Earlier in the day Mukherjee gave a shocker to GJM leaders when he rejected the demand for Gorkhaland. “There is no question of creating a separate state of Gorkhaland. The Centre doesn’t want further disintegration of the state.” But, he said, the UPA government was open to talks with agitators without any pre-condition.

Later in the day, Union minister and West Bengal Congress chief Priya Ranjan Das Munshi spoke in a similar vein. “We are against division of our state. GJM chief Bimal Gurung may have some genuine issues that he wants to sort out within the ambit of the constitution.

We can always have a discussion on such issues like giving more economic power to the Hill authorities.”

With the GJM not invited for talks, and main opposition party Trinamool Congress staying away from the Tuesday’s all-party meeting, Buddhadeb isn’t likely to make much headway in breaking the impasse in the Hills despite main parties like Congress and BJP too rejecting the demand for a separate state.

The Gorkha protests have hit tourism in Sikkim and North Bengal badly and haven’t spared the tea industry too. The political uncertainty in the region has affected the best season for Darjeeling tea, which is another blow to the industry already struggling with problems like labour unrest and rising input costs.

It is said that Darjeeling tea is to India what Champagne is to France. It’s also West Bengal’s big revenue earner.

This is the time for second-flush tea which fetches anywhere between Rs.800 to Rs.8,000 per kilogram in the West. But in the last six days alone the industry has incurred losses of over Rupees three crores.

”This is the real time when the gardens make profits that will help them carry on their operations for the rest of the year. If they miss out on the high realization for this time of the year, Darjeeling gardens at the end of the year will end up making losses,” says Aditya Khaitan, Chairman of Tea Association of India.

Its bad news for a tea industry grappling with increasing costs of production and labour unrest. This political instability now threatens to cripple it. (shots of tea gardens)

It is not just the big players. There are several small tea growers also who are affected. Tea can’t reach Kolkata until the bandh continues.

”Exports have been hampered in a big way, and over all the image of Indian tea in the sense of giving commitments also has suffered a set back, ” says Roshni Sen, Deputy Chairman,Tea Board of India.

The effects of a strike in India’s Darjeeling hills over demands for autonomy have spread to the mountain state of Sikkim, scaring away tourists and causing huge losses to hoteliers, officials said on Wednesday.

Thousands of tourists flock to Sikkim every year, also known as the “Land of Mystic Splendour”, nestled below Mount Khangchendzonga, the third highest mountain in the world.

The state is popular for the grandeur of the mountain peaks, its lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers.

The strike has been called by ethnic Nepalis or Gorkhas living in the Darjeeling hills to demand a separate “Gorkhaland” state be carved out of the eastern state of West Bengal.

Strike supporters have forced tourists out of Darjeeling, a Himalayan resort town, shut down hotels and also blocked a key national highway that connects the state of Sikkim to the north with the rest of the country.

The northeastern state, nestled high in the Himalayas, between Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, depends on one connecting road from the plains below for supplies. Government officials said tourists were not able to reach the state.

“Sikkim is losing at least 100 million rupees ($2.3 million) every day from the agitation in Darjeeling,” Jasbir Singh, a senior government official, said.

“The strike has crushed us,” said Raj Kumar Chettri, manager of Denzong Inn, a hotel in Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital.

The strike has badly hit the tea industry in the Darjeeling hills, the mainstay of the local economy, and a tea industry official warned exports of premium Darjeeling tea could fall 20-25 percent this year.

On Wednesday, India’s defence officials said their soldiers deployed in Sikkim were not getting supplies from the plains. Hundreds of Indian soldiers guard Nathu La, a Himalayan border pass with China, at 14,200 feet (4,328 metres).

“The strike has cut off supplies of fuel, rations and other items to the forward locations guarded by our soldiers,” Ramesh Kumar Das, a defence spokesman said from Kolkata, eastern India’s biggest city.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government on Tuesday suggested it was not averse to a tripartite meeting with Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, which is spearheading an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland, and the Centre on the Darjeeling issue and made an unconditional offer of talks with the Gorkha group.

Asked if the government would be ready to discuss a separate Gorkhaland state as demanded by GJM, the Chief Minister told reporters here after an all-party meeting that “in my earlier letter to GJM for talks, we did not set any condition. We still do not have any pre-condition.”

Bhattacharjee said he would inform the Centre about the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting and ask the political parties which attended the meeting to make efforts in initiating dialogues with the GJM for a solution.

In reply to a question, Bhattacharjee said that he did not have any objection to a bipartite or triparite meeting with the GJM.

“We want a solution to the problem, be it through a bipartite or tripartite meeting. But this requires preparation of the ground. For this, there is a greater need to exchange views with the Centre as also with the agitators,” the Chief Minister said.

Appealing to GJM to call off its indefinite bandh in Darjeeling Hills, he said “we will have to stand together and convince the leaders of GJM that bandhs will not solve any problem. What we need is a political dialogue.”

He said the meeting, attended by the Congrees, BJP and Left Front partners, unanimously resolved to find a political solution to the impasse through dialogue “with patience and tolerance.”

Source: gorkhaland – Palash Speaks

WB govt for more autonomy for Darjeeling Hills

Ruling out a separate state of Gorkhaland, the West Bengal government on Sunday said that the Left Front was “in principle” against any fragmentation of the state but preferred more autonomy for the Darjeeling Hills.

“The Left parties are, in principle, opposed to the creation of smaller states, be it Gorkhaland, Vidarbha, Telangana etc,” Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya said reporters, ruling out the  fulfillment of the demand of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

Bhattacharya, who was here to attend a meeting of the CPI-M’s state committee meeting, said the stand of the West Bengal government has been consistent that it was opposed to the creation of a separate state out of West Bengal.

All mainstream political parties of West Bengal have adopted a resolution in the state assembly opposing the fragmentation of the state on any ground, he said and claimed that even the Centre was not favourably disposed to the idea of carving out of more smaller states in the country.

Referring to a proposed tripartite talks, involving the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM, on the sensitive statehood issue, Bhattacharya hoped that the “just” demands of the people of Darjeeling hills and adjoining regions would be addressed.

On the Left Front’s vision for redressal of the grievances of the Darjeeling hills, he said the state government would like a speedy socio-economic development of the hill region which may be expedited by giving more autonomy to the Darjeeling Hills Development Council (DGHC). (Newsx)

Budhdha not to participate in talks with GJM

Ruling out speculation that chief minister Budhdhadeb Bhattacharjee would personally join the proposed tripartite meeting, his closest colleague Siliguri MLA and state urban development minister claimed that there is no such possibility.
WEST BENGAL (WB) state urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharjee on Wednesday (July 6) ruled out speculation that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would himself take part in the proposed tripartite talks, including Union government and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to settle the impasse in the hills of Darjeeling. Moreover, he claimed that the state government would also not allow any attempt by the GJM to include the demand for separate statehood as one of the agenda for the proposed meeting.

Bhattacharjee, who is also CommunistPartyofIndia (Marxist) (CPI-(M) MLA from Siliguri said this at Kantaganj community hall in Gayeshpur in Nadia following handing residential accommodation to the poors under special scheme.
Speaking on the proposed meeting, he said: “As per customary, chief secretary and home secretary would most probably lead the team of the state government to begin the process of dialogue with the GJM.” Statement of Bhattacharjee bears significance as he reiterated that the talks would be ‘unconditional’ as per the decision of the all party meeting held earlier. He said: “The state government expects the GJM leadership would attend the meeting leaving all their prejudices.”
Speaking on the proposed meeting he said, “The agenda of the meeting is yet to be finalised, but surely it would not include the demand for the statehood of Gorkhaland.” Because, we will not allow any attempt to split the state of West Bengal, he claimed. (Merinews)

Gorkhaland tri-partite meet likely in Delhi this month

A tri-partite meeting between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, the West Bengal and the central government on the issue of a separate Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling hills is likely to be held in New Delhi later this month, state Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said here Friday.

 

“The centre has agreed to hold the meeting in Delhi. The date and agenda are yet to be finalised, but most likely it will be held in the second week of this month,” Chakraborty told reporters.

The home ministry’s communication to this effect was received by state Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb, who would represent the West Bengal government in the discussions.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, meanwhile, held a series of meetings with Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya and senior officials on the Darjeeling issue Friday.

The GJM, led by its president Bimal Gurung, has been spearheading a movement in the hills for a separate Gorkhaland state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that offers greater autonomy to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

The GJM had demanded the tripartite talks.

The party had organised an indefinite shutdown in the hills twice over its demand for a separate state, severely hitting industry and tourism – the bread and butter of the region. (Freshnews.in)

A Case for Gorkhaland, the socio-economic perspective

By Udaya Mani Pradhan

Why Gorkhaland?

India’s tryst with destiny began at the stroke of midnight on 15th August 1947. It ushered in a new era wherein the belief that everyone is born free and has a right to fulfill one-self in human dignity was no longer a myth.

The framers of the Indian Constitution in their collective wisdom drafted Article 3 enshrined in which is the recognition of the fact that every community with different cultural and linguistic background has the inherent right to self determination, and to develop itself according to its own EHOS thereby enriching the cultural heritage of the community and enhancing its integration in the national mainstream. But little did they realise that for the Gorkhas ‘living in the Darjeeling, Dooars and the Terai region of North Bengal, the dawn of freedom was just a dream too far. It was only a change in the Colonial masters – from the British to the Bengal Raj – where exploitation and subjugation was many fold worse than before.

The contribution of the Indian Gorkhas in the making of a New India can never be undermined. The blood, sweat and sacrifice – be it in safeguarding the security and integrity of the frontiers or in maintaining peace and harmony in strife torn towns are forever etched in the history of the nation.

However, time and again, the Indian Gorkhas have been labeled by National as well as Regional political leaders as foreigner immigrants, secessionists and also as refugees. The very identity of the community is being questioned. In the presence of such a strong undercurrent, the ONLY solution is the creation of the state of GORKHALAND, within the Indian Union.

The demand for Gorkhaland is a corollary to the natural democratic process in India. In this demand is contained the aspirations of the community and its quest for the Right to Self Determination.

The issue confronting us is not a question of Development as envisaged by the Bengal Government. Economic packages and financial considerations – no matter how lucrative – are merely carrots being dangled before us with the intention of distracting us from our ultimate goal – Self Governance.

SELF GOVERNANCE – THE ONLY PATH TO SELF RELIANCE

It is only through self governance that sustainable development can take place. Development in the true sense of the term is not merely a creation of social capital by constructing roads, bridges and buildings. The most essential ingredient is PARTICIPATION of the people in determining its own priorities and actualizing felt needs. It is based on understanding the Ethos of the people. Development does not imply a situation where people are mere recipients. This is Charity and we are not beggars seeking alms.

We must be empowered to determine our fundamentally basic felt needs and on the basis of which Priorities, Plan, Budget, Finance, Execute and Administer ALL BY OUR-SELVES. We must have the authority to do what we think is the best for us. It must be remembered that responsibility without authority is meaningless. And PARTICIPATION denied is Development denied.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY OF GORKHALAND

Sitting in its own ivory tower, the Writers Building, the Government of Bengal has been devising plans to address the developmental issues of the hills and after 61 years of governance what do we find?

–    No Vision Statement has been ever charted for this region.

–    There has never been a Master plan containing Programmes, Plans and Policies so fundamental to the development process of a place. A Master plan is a route map devised to incorporate Short Term, Mid Term and Long Term strategies with the concurrence of local experts.
–    Where are the documents such as Economic Reviews, Statistical Handbooks, Plans for the region, Budgetary allocation records and the relevant data bank so vital for any planning?
–    There is complete absence of an integrated planning approach. Analysis of Annual plans, assessment of potential sectors, feedback and incorporation of findings in the subsequent plans are unheard of in our part of the country.

The Bengal Government has failed to deliver through its total insincerity and apathy to this area. Once we have Gorkhaland we will transform the state to one of the richest and most viable states in the Indian Union. After all, we have the expertise in our midst, we have our pulse is on what concerns us, and above all, we have the resources that will catapult GORKHALAND into a Model State of the country.

RESOURCES – MISMANAGED BY THE BENGAL GOVERNMENT

In order to highlight the economic viability of this region it is important to put the efforts of the Bengal Government (or rather the lack of it) in the right perspective.

TEA

Introduced by the British 168 years ago, Darjeeling Tea is a Super Brand in the International market, thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of the Gorkhas providing one of the most crucial factors of production – man power. However, the utter indifference of the Bengal Government towards the only industry of this region has resulted in the dwindling of the number of Tea gardens from 90 to 76. The workers live in the most deplorable conditions, with the daily wages for an eight hour labour being Rs 53.90. Compare this with the daily wages in tea gardens in Kerala (Rs. 70/-), Tamilnadu (Rs 78/-) and neighbouring Sikkim (Rs 88/-) and the picture is self evident. Darjeeling tea – the Champagne of Teas’ must be the only Superbrand where the most important factor of production, the labour force, is leading an abysmal quality of life in abject poverty.

The increasing tendency to recruit people from outside for managerial and executive posts leaving the menial jobs to the hill people reeks of discrimination. The Bengal Government has never tried to alleviate the aspirations of the young generation of the hills by establishing a link between them and the so called biggest industry. In fact, the Tocklai Tea Research Centre and the Tea research Laboratory in Kurseong bear no significance to the people from the hills.

Moreover, practically each and every garden has its head office outside the hills. Consequently, opportunities and facilities arising there from never percolate down to the people whose blood and sweat have made the industry what it is today. Even the Tea Auction centers at Siliguri and Jalpaiguri are like white elephants for the hill people.

Hence, it can be said with conviction that the Tea industry has no definitive bearing in the economy of the region besides providing disguised employment. With the companies shying away from their social responsibilities, it is a bane rather than a boon.

But the bottom line is that Darjeeling tea fetches millions of dollars to the Government in the form of foreign exchange and forms a major source of revenue.

Properly managed and marketed, the tea industry made up of the gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars will combine to form the prime economic backbone of Gorkhaland.

TOURISM

Under the accelerated Hill Development Programme, Plans and Strategies launched in 1973-74, development of infrastructure to boost Tourism was drawn up. 35 years since its inception a cursory glance at the basic infrastructure such as roads, water, fundamental health facilities, electricity, communication and public transport tells a sad tale of its own.

Darjeeling with all its shortcomings is still a haven for tourists both domestic and foreign. Imagine the possibilities with a reinvented Darjeeling!

Although the Bengal Government refers to Darjeeling as its ‘Crown’ it has made no effort whatsoever to promote Darjeeling as a destination. The brochures published by the West Bengal Tourist Bureau are drab and usually outdated (compare this with the way Sundarbans is being promoted and the step motherly treatment becomes obvious.) The lodges maintained by the WBTDC and the reservation policies are inadequate for a destination of international repute, et the government is oblivious to the needs of the place.

In spite of its lackadaisical attitude it is the Government that stands to benefit in terms of revenue generated by the hundreds of thousands streaming into Darjeeling month after month.

Once the state of Gorkhaland becomes a reality we shall re-crown the ‘Queen of the Hills’ and then open our arms to all to be our guest on the Paradise of Earth.

TIMBER

The Darjeeling hills once upon a time, could boast of a rich and vibrant forest cover which was an environmentalist’s delight. But avarice personified by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation formed in 1971 (ironically to develop the forest as the name suggests) denuded the hills of its finery. And when the dense forest of the hills vanished so did the WBFDC after killing the golden goose and plundering the hills of 38 thousand crores during its decade long existence. Properly managed, this too can still be one of the main pillars of the region’s economy, all that is required is for the mantel to pass on to the rightful owners.

TEACHING (Education)

This region has been the prime education destination in the country since 1846. If these institutions still rub shoulders with the best in the country it is purely due to their own initiative. The Government’s contribution draws a woeful cipher.

Higher education for professional courses and vocational training centres are areas which have been neglected the most by the Government and this has resulted in mounting unemployment – the perfect breeding ground for frustrated youth resorting to anti-social outlets. The pleas for providing quotas in Medical, Engineering and Management Institutes have been conveniently bypassed and the crying need for the establishment of a Central Hill University has fallen on deaf ears. There is surely a sinistrous design behind this. After all, isn’t educational emancipation a threat to Colonial suppression?

The State of Gorkhaland will give birth to a self sustainable education system which will be a product of integrated development and also become a financial boon to the coffers of the new state.

TOY TRAIN

This piece of engineering marvel does precious little to supplement the economy of the place predominantly owning to the Government’s lack of vision and the clever manipulation of excluding local stakeholders in the planning process. Despite the fact that it is a massive drain in the Government’s exchequer, it still chugs along incurring huge losses. If it had not been for the efforts of lovers of Darjeeling it would not have found a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage site. Given its potential it can be transformed to a most viable business proposition, but then who is there to feel for the ‘Tiny’ which is such an integral part of the local folklore?

The stat of Gorkhaland is waiting impatiently to rewrite its role.

HYDEL PWER POTENTIAL

Darjeeling boasts of the oldest Hydel Power station in Asia. The Sidrabong Hydel Power Station was established in 1897, long before the Japanese and Koreans discovered wealth in their water reserves. Darjeeling town was richly illuminated, come rain or storm, until the west Bengal State Electricity Board took over. With the REVERSE ‘Midas Touch’ the fairy tale town faded into inevitable darkness.

The Rammam hydel project designed to produce 300 MW of power is churning out a meager 50 MW that too 25 years after it was commissioned. (The Chukha Hydel project started around the same time is producing 10 times more electricity). What is even more devastating is the fact that the power is taken to the North Bengal Switch Yard 240 kms away and the hills folks freeze in the cold wintry days deprived of heater connections.

The NHPC projects harnessing Teesta at 27the Mile, Kalijhora and Mungpoo envisage a projected capacity of 130 MW 110 MW and 340 MW respectively. What is going to be our share is anybody’s guess.

This will constitute the new State’s major revenue earning source in the forthcoming years.

CINCHONA PLANTATION

Set up in 1865, the cinchona plantation is another example of the perfect amalgamation of British entrepreneurship and Gorkha work force. In 1948, the Bengal Government earned Rupees 30 lakhs from quinine alone. In 1984-85 the revenue was 2.43 crores according to the Government’s own admission. Then why is it now a sick industry? It is because the policy, management and sale rests solely with the Writer’s Building whose indifference is the primary cause for its untimely demise.

OTHERS

Tremendous untapped potential exists in the following areas – Agro horticulture products, animal husbandry, poultry farming, pisciculture, sericulture, cultivation of mushroom, orange orchards, spices especially cardamom, beekeeping, fruit processing plants, extraction of oil from ginger and cardamom, cane and bamboo furniture, small scale and cottage industries, handmade paper factories, local handicraft manufacturing units, carpet weaving and manufacturing units etc. All this will be specifically incorporated in the Blueprint for Economic Viability of the new state.

CONCLUSION

Sixty one years of suppression and deprivation when the rest of the communities in the country are reaping the fruits of Freedom have taken its logical toll on the Gorkhas. The writings on the wall are evident for those to choose to see. There is only one solution to alleviate the people from its deep sense of insecurity and also actualize the seemingly infinite potential of the region. The answers to both lie singularly in one practical move and that is the creation of the state of GORKHALAND.
Published in  http://www.darjeelingtimes.com

Gorkhaland Rundown

It was brought to my attention that a few weeks ago this blog turned up on the second page of Google searches for Gorkhaland. (It has since fallen lower in the Google search results.) Given the visibility, I’ll add a little more background on the history and current happenings. Here goes:

The district of Darjeeling in India is a boarder region in the foothills of the Himalayans with Bhutan, China (Tibet), Bangladesh, and Nepal as close neighbors. Darjeeling is the northernmost region of the state of West Bengal. Starting in the 1810’s, disputes over the district resulted in it changing hands between Nepal, Sikkim, and the British East India Company. Once the British East India Company had firm control of the area in the mid-nineteenth century, it began developing the tea industry and established a hill station. Laborers from Nepal were brought in for agricultural work, supplementing the existing Nepali, aka Gorkha, population, which had settled in the hills in the late 17th century. The Gorkhas formed an important part of the British army under colonialism. They were prized as skilled fighters, and the Gorkha regiments were highly revered. After Indian independence from Britain in 1947, British tea estate owners left, and Bengalis stepped in as the new economic ruling class. Gorkhas continued to serve proudly in the Indian Armed Forces.

The Darjeeling district is unique in the state of West Bengal as it is a hills region mostly populated by Nepali-speaking Gorkhas, whereas the rest of the state is a planes region of Bengali peoples. The political frictions resulting from the marginalization of the district in state politics and resource allocation led to several agitations for local political control throughout the 20th century. West Bengal’s discriminatory treatment of Gorkhas contrasted starkly with the nearly benevolent treatment from the British (at least compared to the plight of other agricultural workers thought India) and the honor associated with Gorkha contributions to national defense forces.

Subash Ghising

Subash Ghising

The 1985-88 agitation for statehood was the longest and most violent, involving the organization of local parties and clashes with West Bengal police. The agitation ended with Gorkha National Liberation Front leader Subash Ghising negotiating a compromise of partial local autonomy through the establishment of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Ghising remained in power until the fall of 2007.

Prashant Tamang

In the fall of 2007, two things happened. First, in September, Prashant Tamang, a Gorkha from Darjeeling, won Indian Idol (yes, in the style of American Idol). Tamang’s victory was aided by Bimal Gurung, a Darjeeling politician and protégé of Ghising. Gurung bottom-lined a publicity campaign encouraging Gorkhas to vote for Prashant via text message. Gorkhas all over India SMSed their votes, and celebrations for Prashant’s victory lasted late into the night. Organizing for Prashant quickly turned into political mobilization. Gurung formed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha party in early October, confronting Ghising for his corrupt and lax leadership of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. After two decades in

Bimal Gurung

power, the effectiveness of Ghising’s leadership was questioned in the face of dodgy financial dealings and failed promises of infrastructure development. Gurung rode the wave of resurgent Gorkha pride to draw attention to the weaknesses in Ghising’s leadership.

The second thing that happened: In November, Darjeeling grew discontent with Ghising’s support for a the federal provision that tribal Nepalis be included in the sixth tribal schedule, a system of welfare for tribal groups that suffer discrimination in India society (See my earlier post on the tribal and caste schedules). He, and he alone, had been invited to talks in Delhi over the matter. The provisions of the sixth schedule would exclude the 70% of non-tribal Nepalis in Darjeeling. Gorkha’s saw Ghising’s support for the sixth schedule as an abandonment of the dream for Gorkhaland and an attempt to divide the Gorkha population. The popular hero of the 1980’s agitation was suddenly seen as a traitor and an outcaste for collaborating with government interests at the expense of his community.

Gurung’s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha party (GJM) gained increased support in Darjeeling with the allegiance of the Darjeeling Bar Association, Hill Transport Union and ex-members of the Indian Armed Forces. Subash Ghising finally had to resign in early March of this year. The federal government dropped the bill for including Nepali tribes in the sixth tribal schedule. The GJM took power and revived the campaign for statehood. The campaign involves marches, rallies, prayer services, meetings with state officials, and strikes to prevent timber export from the region and cripple the tea industry, which is largely Bengali owned. (See earlier posts for photos of the market during a strike, a candle lit vigil, and a student rally.) Their goal is to achieve Gorkhaland by March, 2010. These demands have been met with intense frustration in Kolkata and the formation of anti-Gorkhaland groups by Bengalis. Some of these groups are responsible for attacks on Gorkhas in late June.

And that’s where things are. Last I heard, all strike activities are on hold until August 7th while the party regroups. I hope this was helpful. Please post a comment if you’d like to add more information.

Sources:

Times of India: Gorkhaland, a story of political bungling
Suite 101: Indian Idol and Gorkha
Wikipedia: Gorkhaland
Darjeeling Times: Call for Gorkhaland Renewed
Live Mint WSJ: Indian Idol Reignites Demand for Gorkhaland
Unheard Voices: Racism on Both Sides of Boarder
The Himalayan Beacon: Gorkhas Campaign for New State in Darjeeling

(Ida C. Benedetto)