Showing posts with label Agitation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agitation. Show all posts

Darjeeling tea Workers on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.

5:45 PM
As you sip your favourite Darjeeling tea planning how to enjoy this festive season, tea garden workers in Darjeeling are on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.

A 12 hour bandh has also been called in Darjeeling Hills tomorrow. Union leaders plan to hold hunger strikes 'in front of garden offices' from Thursday. Tamang, the Morcha leader, has announced 'an indefinite hunger strike' from October 6 if the bonus issue is not resolved by Friday.
Darjeeling tea Workers on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.
Darjeeling tea Workers. 

The hills have not witnessed such a protest since the 104-day shutdown in September 2017

All seven trade unions of about 87 tea estates of Darjeeling in West Bengal have called for a 12-hour strike on Friday after the failure in talks between leaders of unions and the managements of gardens over the bonus issue. The unions have given a "bandh call" from 6 am to 6 pm on October 4, a trade union leader said. Trade Union Leaders and workers of Darjeeling Hill Tea Industry are observing hunger strike in demand of payment of 20% Bonus in Darjeeling town and tea gardens. Tomorrow will be 12 hours work off in Darjeeling hill.
Kalimpong to Join in the 12 Hour Bandh on October 4. Kalimpong has decided to join in the 12 hour bandh scheduled for October 4 in the Darjeeling Hills.

Bhuwan Khanal, Spokesperson, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha talking to media persons in Kalimpong on Thursday stated "Expressing solidarity with our garden workers Kalimpong district will also remain closed on October 4 for 12 hours. Business establishments will remain closed and vehicles will not ply. However emergency services have been kept out of the purview of the bandh."

Out of the 87 gardens in the Hills, 6 fall in the Kalimpong district. The bandh is in protest against the management failing to disburse bonus before the festive season. While the trade unions have demanded 20% bonus, the management is not willing to climb up from 15%. Multiple rounds of talks have failed to break the deadlock.


No matter who loses, we, the Gorkhas, have already won

8:05 AM
Writes: Upendra

In the 2019 elections, Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat is being viewed by almost everyone interested in politics as a litmus test to adjudge if the Gorkha aspirations of having a state of our own will prevail, or if the iron will of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee to obliterate the demand forever will deal a crushing blow to the same.

In the muddled regional political atmosphere, which has gone topsy-turvy post the 2017 Gorkhaland agitation, it would take a political analyst of superhuman powers to predict who will win the seat. While the BJP sounds hopeful of retaining the seat, TMC is confident they will wrestle the seat away from the BJP, which has held the seat for 10-long-years, and has nothing to show for it. Chequering the political equation further is the lack of a strong regional political party that could decisively swing the elections one way or the other.

Currently, for me though, no matter which candidate loses, the Gorkhas have already won, and here’s why.

2017: The game changer

Not many may be aware that till date, Nepali – a language, which is one of the recognised national languages of India, and is included under the 8th Schedule of our Constitution, is not included as an optional paper in the West Bengal Civil Services (WBCS). While one can choose Nepali as an optional paper in the IAS exams, its non-inclusion was highlighted repeatedly in West Bengal Legislative Assembly, yet the powers that be have continued their defiant stand against Nepali language inclusion in WBCS.
These are copies of the same textbook -- same class, same subject. While the copy on the left, for Nepali medium schools, is printed in black and white, the right is for Bengali medium schools, printed in colour
File image

Instances of textbooks published by the West Bengal Secondary School Board discriminating against Nepali language have been reported in local media over the years. The most blatant of all being a Nepali medium book being printed in black and white, whereas books in other languages were printed in colour. After the failure of Gorkhaland agitation in 2013, the Trinamool Congress government had increasingly shown their disdain towards Nepali language, and there was a growing resentment against the same.

On May 15, 2017, West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee made an announcement that “the government [of WB] will introduce three-language policy, the students will have to take Bengali compulsory as one of the three languages”.

This same fact was reiterated by Mamata herself in a Facebook post dated May 16.

The Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars, which have a very cosmopolitan mixture of Gorkhas – Nepali, Lepcha, Bhutia – Adivasis, Rajbonshis, Rabha, Toto, Mech, Bengali, Bihari, Marwari, Punjabi and almost every other major ethnic groups from various parts of India erupted in protests. Leading the protests were the Gorkhas whose lingua franca is Nepali.

Gorkhaland agitation: A quick recall

Protests against attempt at linguistic imperialism on the part of TMC government quickly snowballed into a full-fledged demand for separate state of Gorkhaland. Even quicker was the response of the state machinery, which violently crushed the movement. The Gorkhas, who were demanding the formation of a Gorkhaland state within the geographic, political and constitutional contours of India, were labelled as separatists and terrorists. The administration even said those demanding Gorkhaland have linkages to militants in Northeast and Maoists in Nepal, they didn’t bother mentioning which faction, though.
Darjeeling residents take part in a protest against, what they call, linguistic imperialism

Towards the end of September 2017, the Gorkhaland statehood movement had died a natural death, with movement leaders choosing to go underground.

Ready at hand were second-rung leaders, who quickly stepped in to fill the void, not in leading the agitation for Gorkhaland statehood, but in handling the local Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on behalf of the West Bengal government.

Since then, there have been attempts at completely subverting any and all forms of expressing of the Gorkha identity issue in the region.

As all of this was unfolding BJP and its entire leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi preferred to keep a safe distance from the entire issue, and didn’t even utter a single word of sympathy, solidarity, support or outrage. It was almost like, for BJP, the perils facing Gorkhas was an unpleasant distraction, they could very well do without.

The Congress and CPI (M), the other two main political parties in the region, did make some noise about everyone coming to the table and indulging in a dialogue to resolve the impasse, both were functionally indifferent towards the plight and sufferings of the Gorkhas.

Time and tide

But the Gorkhas are a hardy bunch, and we endured all the hardships, with a smile on our lips and hope in our hearts.

Today, as the election comes knocking at the door, lo and behold, the Gorkhas are a priority for all the political parties. Every major political party is trying their best to reconnect with the Gorkhas, whom they had, for all intent and purpose, forsaken and left for dead only a year ago.

Today, three among the four major political parties have nominated a Nepali speaking individual as their candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. BJP has nominated Raju Bista, CPI (M) has nominated Saman Pathak, and Trinamool Congress has nominated Amar Singh Rai. Congress has nominated Sankar Malakar, who by the virtue of being a bhoomiputra from Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency is fluent in Nepali. In fact on his very day after being given the Congress ticket, he headed to Kurseong and interacted with the locals, reminding them of TMC atrocities and BJP betrayals in the language majority of the people in the region speak – Nepali.

Raju Bista is a political novice, but what swung BJP ticket in his favour was his Indian Gorkha heritage. The BJP is hoping that his ‘Gorkhaness’ will rub off against the unpopular anti-Gorkha stand of TMC during the Gorkhaland agitation in the region and help their candidate to shine. Their secret weapon, his mother tongue, is the same that of the shared lingua franca of our region – Nepali.

Saman Pathak comes with years of experience in politics; in fact, he is one of the most experienced candidates around. His father, Anand Pathak, too, has represented Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in Parliament, and he was himself a member of Rajya Sabha previously. His mother tongue, too, is Nepali.

As for Trinamool Congress, which wanted to impose Bengali across West Bengal, they didn’t move even a single paper in that regard after the protests against their attempted linguistic imperialism broke out in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars. What is almost ironic is that TMC that brutally crushed down the demand for a land of our own is desperately trying to project their candidate Amar Singh Rai as a son-of-the soil Bhoomiputra. The very same TMC that had labelled Gorkhas as being separatists and terrorists, is today talking about protecting the IDENTITY of the Gorkhas.

The Gorkhas have endured, now it’s time to thrive

From my count, we, the Gorkhas, have endured all that the time, government, system and bureaucracy had thrown our way, and survived. We are still Gorkhas – unchanged, and our indomitable spirit remains unconquered. Every political party that had sought to crush us, that had been indifferent towards our plight, that had been apathetic to our distress, that had been unconcerned towards our misery and suffering are today pandering to us.

For me, this is a win

We, the Gorkhas, have survived, and no matter who loses the upcoming elections or wins, we shall thrive.

(Upendra M Pradhan is a Darjeeling-based political analyst and editor-at-large at The Darjeeling Chronicle. He can be reached at pradhanum@gmail.com)

Source - https://www.eastmojo.com/opinion/2019/04/09/no-matter-who-loses-we-the-gorkhas-have-already-won

Darjeeling Likely to Witness Another Agitation

11:46 AM
gjm
Darjeeling Likely to Witness Another Agitation From May 1

In an interview given to the Himalayan Beacon, published on Tuesday, CITU has declared that they would be launching an agitation for the workers of Darjeeling, Terai and Duars from May 1. The agitation, however, will mostly focus on the demands of the tea garden and hotel workers. This can be perceived as an affront to the Darjeeling-based Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). This faction had earlier declared that the hills will not witness any more strikes. However, the workers’ agitation will most probably be too prickly for the faction to handle, considering that they form the core base of voters in the hills.

As far as the tea garden workers are concerned CITU has three demands; that the workers be brought under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, that they should receive the ration money owed to them, and that they should receive land rights.

Tea gardens are not one of the Scheduled Employments in West Bengal under the Minimum Wages Act. The issue of the tea garden workers began in 2014 when they had agitated to be brought under the Minimum Wages Act. In 2015, a tripartite agreement was signed between the workers’ unions, the owners’ union and the West Bengal Government. The agreement stipulated a gradual increase in the minimum wage over a period of three years. In 2017 another meeting was called to revise the minimum wages agreed to in 2015, other than the Trinamool Congress affiliated unions, all the others stayed away in protest against the move. CITU in the interview has alleged that three years since the first agreement was signed, the workers are yet to receive the agreed minimum wages. This also ties into their demand that the ration money owed to workers be paid. As a result, they demand that the entire amount owed to the workers be paid, and that tea gardens also come under the Act.

The issue of land rights is another sore point. According to the CITU representative, the provisions of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, has not been extended to the tea garden workers. When the tea gardens were first established in Darjeeling, the colonial planters had secured large areas of forest which they converted into plantations. However, not all the area claimed by the gardens has been cleared. It is in these forested parts where the workers have established their homes. Thus generations of tea garden workers have lived on these lands. On this basis, after the 2006 Act came into force, the workers were entitled to hold title over the land on which they live.

The issues highlighted by the CITU representative for the hospitality industry workers focused on; wages for the period of the 2017 agitation, that benefits such as gratuity, provident fund, employees state insurance, and health insurance be extended to them and that they should be able to avail leave on government holidays. Here too, they had launched a movement in 2015, seeking that minimum wages be fixed based on the type ofestablishment – a small restaurant would pay less than a five-star hotel. The movement resulted in a bipartite agreement with the hotel owners’ association. However, the agreement has yet to be implemented. In this regard, the CITU representative has declared expanded demands for the hospitality industry workers.

The CITU representative also mentioned that though the agitation at present is focused on the plight of the tea garden and hospitality industry workers, the agitation would be for the rights of all the workers in the region. He specifically mentioned the hospital staff, construction workers and migrant workers in this regard. He also stated that the unions had submitted memorandums to the concerned owners and that the memorandums contained an ultimatum that unless their demands are met, they would launch an agitation from May 1 till the end of July. This point is significant since the agitation would cripple the tourism industry.

The Binay Tamang – Anit Thapa faction of the GJM has stated that they are pro-business and would not allow any agitations or strikes in the hills. However, they appear to have forgotten the origins of the GJM’s founder, Bimal Gurung. Gurung came from a family of tea garden workers. His residence and the nucleus of the GJM’s power lay in Patleybas, a notoriously poor and rough neighbourhood on the fringes of Darjeeling. One of Gurung’s most popular moves among the tea garden workers in the Darjeeling hills was in 2011 when he was able to secure a raise in their wages. Prior to his intervention, the workers were getting Rs. 67 per day, he was, however, able to raise it to Rs. 90. This worked out as an increase of around 34 percent. At present, the agitation that has been threatened seeks to raise this wage further.

Chances are that the Binay Tamang-Anit Thapa faction will intervene at least in the hills to prevent the agitation from taking place. In the Dooars and Terai, the Bimal Gurung faction still holds sway, it is unlikely that they would miss an opportunity to bring their rival faction down a peg. If the matter is not resolved by May 1, Darjeeling will lose another year of tourism revenue. However, this clearly appears to be a gamble the workers are willing to risk

Pushed to corner, Morcha hits out

7:38 AM

Writes : Vivek Chhetri and Avijit Sinha

Darjeeling, June 8: The turmoil in the hills today is being seen as an outburst of a pent-up anger of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha cadres and their apparent apprehension about the party's performance in the GTA elections in the wake of Trinamul gaining a toehold in the region, political observers have said.

Trinamul has made recent inroads into the hills by winning the Mirik civic seat and has managed a section of people on its side by forming 15 development boards for communities. The Trinamul-led government has also been pushing forward its development agenda - upgrading Kalimpong into a district and Mirik into a sub-division.

Although the government's decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools had stirred the hill sentiments to the Morcha's advantage, Mamata Banerjee had blunted that too to some extent by announcing that the language would be made optional.

A political observer pointed out that the state government's sustained campaign to push the Morcha to the wall was being felt not only by the senior leaders but also its cadres and the party was desperate to make its presence felt.

"For the past few days, the chief minister and her government have time and again deflated any Morcha agitation. In fact, after she declared that Bengali will not be compulsory in the hills, questions were raised on the justification of the Morcha's calls for strikes and agitations. The hill party was desperate to consolidate its support base by playing the Gorkhaland card and by fuming at the state again. This led to today's outburst," the observer said.

Trinamul leaders in the hills iterated that the Morcha's anger was the result of the ruling party's attempts to corner it.

"We could sense that there were instigations over the past few days and today, the party indulged in violence. This is because they have no political issue to counter Trinamul as we are solely working on the agenda of development and gaining support everyday," said Binny Sharma, a spokesperson of Darjeeling district Trinamul.

He alleged that the violence today was a "planned move".

"The chief minister has been consistently coming to the hills and announcing projects every time. It is because of this agenda of development that we won the Mirik municipality and secured seats in three other civic bodies of the hills. Now that the GTA elections are ahead, Morcha leaders and cadres are worried if they can win a majority of the seats this time. It is more so because in the past five years, the GTA has failed miserably in meeting the aspirations of the hill people," he added.

Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had yesterday accused Mamata of dividing the Gorkha community.

"You come here so many times and every time you come, you wipe the smile out of people's face. But you keep saying that the hills are smiling. You are dividing our community into bits and pieces. Your intentions are not good for the hills," he had said.

"Trinamul will collapse in two minutes if they don't have the police on their side," he added.

Another Trinamul leader alleged that the Morcha was trying to divert the people's attention from the promises made by its ally BJP over Gorkhaland before it came to power at the Centre.

"Since 2014, when the NDA government came to power with the assurance that it would sympathetically consider the demand of Gorkhaland, there hasn't been an inch of progress. Only some more assurances have flown in from the Centre. Some other hill parties had become vocal against the Morcha for clinching to the GTA and not doing anything on the statehood issue," said Rajen Mukhia, the president of the Darjeeling district Trinamul.

Morcha ally BJP attacked Mamata over the unrest and her decision to call the army.

"She has been going to the hills every month. We keep hearing that the hills are smiling. If it is so, why does she need to call the army?" asked BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.

(Telegraph)

Fear of fresh agitation lingers in Darjeeling

2:55 PM

-Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 7: The situation in the Darjeeling hills once gain became fluid with Bimal Gurung announcing a two-hour dharna by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters barely 300m from Raj Bhavan when the Bengal cabinet would meet there tomorrow afternoon.

The Morcha president said the party would announce a new round of movement if the cabinet didn't decide that Bengali wouldn't be compulsory at schools in the hills, Dooars and the Terai.

The two-hour dharna on the road in front of Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan is expected to synchronise with the cabinet meeting at Raj Bhavan.

Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and Raj Bhavan are barely 300m apart.

The chief minister had said in Mirik on Monday that Bengali would be an optional subject at the schools in the hills and certain pockets of the Dooars and the Terai. But Gurung said Mamata's words couldn't be taken at face value and decided to continue with processions on the language issue.

Today also, the Morcha took out a march, after which a meeting was held at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

Addressing the meeting, Gurung said: "Tomorrow, we will hold massive marches from Batasia (about 6km from the town) and Singamari (3km from here). Morcha supporters of the town will join the procession from Batasia near the railway station."

Gurung said more than 30,000 supporters would take part in the two rallies which would converge on Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

"We will all sit on the road for two hours. After that, depending on the outcome of the cabinet meeting, we will announce our next step. The cabinet should take a decision tomorrow that Bengali will not be made compulsory in the hills, Terai and the Dooars. If such a decision is taken, we will thank her. If no such decision is taken, we will announce another round of agitation," said the Morcha president.

The rallies are scheduled to start at 11am and reach the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan around 12.30pm tomorrow. A two-hour sit-in would then continue till 2.30pm at the earliest. The cabinet meeting chaired by Mamata is slated to commence at Raj Bhavan at 2pm.

Police hadn't given permission to the Morcha to take out the march today. There is no permission for tomorrow's processions either. The police didn't act against marches yesterday and today to avoid a confrontation with the Morcha.

However, administrative officials are worried that a confrontation might take place tomorrow given the timing and the venue of the dharna.

Movement of ministers and officials to Raj Bhavan is expected to start around 11am tomorrow. Any difficulty in the movement could result in a law and order problem.

In his speech today, Gurung launched a broadside against Mamata.

"They are raking up the Madan Tamang murder case which is in court now. However, it was the same government that had slapped cases on Bharati Tamang and others when they launched a hunger strike at Chowrasta. Now, she is using the same issue. She talks about corruption at our end but her party and leaders are fighting graft cases," said Gurung.

Even though he said the Morcha would announce fresh agitation if the cabinet did not take a decision as desired, he did at one time say in his nearly hour-long speech that the party was "watching" Delhi.

"There has been a continuous attempt to suppress us on all fronts. However, you cannot stop the storm that is brewing now. It could take any turn. We are just watching Delhi and its reaction," said Gurung.

A Morcha delegation, comprising Roshan Giri and three party MLAs, called on BJP state president Dilip Ghosh in Calcutta today. The delegation also met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. The team had met Assembly speaker Biman Banerjee in Calcutta last evening. The three were apprised of the developments in the hills regarding the language issue, said Morcha leaders.

[Via: Telegraph ]

Youths should talk about Agitation like the 86 agitation - BImal Gurung

8:31 AM
Writes: Vivek Chhetri

At a public meeting of the Gorkha Yuva Morcha, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s youth wing, in his constituency of Vah-Tukvar, Gurung said: “I had told the youths I should not speak here because if I am to speak or chair (the meeting), your voices would be held back.”

He said: “The youths should speak their hearts out, the youths should talk about dignity, about the land, the land wanting blood. The youth brigade should talk about an agitation like the ’86 agitation, They should talk about lifting guns and wielding khukuris. This is what I had told them.”

Observers said Gurung wanted to draw the Centre’s attention with his speech. At one point in his 45-minutes speech, Gurung said: “I have told the Centre that we have extended all support and it is your duty to show us by doing karma (good deeds).” The Morcha chief’s anger at the state government’s supposed interference in hill affairs was clear.
Youths should talk about Agitation like the 86 agitation - BImal Gurung
Bimal Gurung in his constituency Tukvar
Gurung told the youths, about 1,000 were in attendance, that playing madals and chabrungs (musical instruments) would not lead to any “struggle”.

In the rest of his speech, Gurung repeatedly mentioned the state government’s alleged “discriminatory” attitude towards the hills.

“Everyone is bullying us, looking down upon us,” Gurung said. “We should live a life of dignity and not that of a coward. One should even be ready to give one’s life,” he said.

The 1986 statehood agitation Gurung was referring to had gone on for around 28 months. It was led by Subash Ghisingh, then Gurung’s leader, but later his rival.

Around 1,200 people had lost their lives during the statehood movement.

“The Bengal government is dividing our community. The black policy of the Bengal government towards the hills is creating such a situation that there could even be a division between husband and wife if they come from different communities. One should not give up one’s dignity for a toilet, a one-room house,” Gurung said, criticising chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s plan to make hill bodies for various hill communities.

The state government has announced development boards for 10 communities and among the major initiatives taken up by the boards, one is to construct toilets and houses for people of the respective communities.

Gurung said: “This (meeting) could be a turning point.”

The Morcha chief said he was increasingly feeling that the GTA cannot function. “There has just been too much interference in the working of the GTA. What is the use of a body that cannot even recruit a peon in the hills. Perhaps you will one day find me in a jungle. You must love me even then because I will be there for the cause of Gorkhaland,” he said.

The hill leader reminded the youths that nothing came without struggle. “One does not achieve anything without a struggle and struggle is not about playing madal and chabrung (musical instruments),” he said.

[Via: Telegraph]

Bimal Gurung threatens fresh statehood agitation

10:58 AM
DARJEELING 27 Jul 2016 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today vented his frustration and anger at the state government for its alleged interference and threatened to re-start the statehood movement. He said so during a programme organised by the party to observe Shahid Diwas, to commemorate the deaths of more than 1,200 people killed during the 1986 agitation. The GJM organised separate Shahid Diwas programmes in various parts of the hills to pay homage to those killed in the first statehood agitation and also felicitated the families of the martyrs.

Gurung is upset with chief minister Mamata Banerjee for forming community development boards, which he said, was a ploy to divide the hill people. He has repreatedly accused the state government  of interfering in the independent functioning of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. And very recently, Gurung was visibly upset when the state government observed the birth anniversary of

Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya on July 13, which he claims, was conducted without adequate participation from the Gorkha community.
Bimal Gurung threatens fresh statehood agitation
GJM chief Bimal Gurung with his associate Roshan Giri during a media conference. File photo
Speaking at the programme today, a charged up Gurung said, “She (Banerjee) comes to Darjeeling and only sees the Kanchenjunga smiling. But she is unaffected by the people’s anguish.

Do not try to divide our community and test our tolerance. This is not good as in time a volcano will erupt in the hills and it will not be easy to handle."

The GJM chief said the chief minister was trying to spread her party’s tentacles in the hills by playing on people’s sentiments. “The Bhanubhakta birth anniversary celebration was hijacked, and now the state government will also do the same with the July 27 Shahid Diwas programme. Such injustice and interference will only give rise to frustration among the people, which may take a terrible turn in the near future,” said Gurung.

He invoked the martyrs of the 1986 agitation saying the Shahid Diwas event could be a turning point for the hills. “In the first statehood movement, 1,200 died and in the second phase in 2007, seven sacrificed their lives. But now thousands may become martyrs. We must be mentally prepared to fight,” said Gurung.

The GJM chief had actually embarked on a padyatra last year to pursue the statehood demand, and today he said without specifying he would go far away from his family.

“I will be going far away from my family and will only return when a separate state is achieved. This is my last appeal to the people to support me as you have done in the past.

The youths must come forward and party leaders and Sabhasads must be prepared to struggle for a separate state and not only go to jail but also lay down their lives,” he said.

Gurung also took a dig at the central government urging it to understand the aspirations of the people. “We are not demanding a country but a separate state within the Union. The central government should understand this demand is our right and is justified. We want the Centre to give us justice,” he said.

Via EOI

Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan confines GTA officials to their chambers at Lal Kothi

DARJEELING 15 Jun 2016 Members of the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS), an umbrella organisation of casual workers, today confined the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief principal secretary and a sabhasad to their chambers at Lal Kothi pressing for enhanced incentives.

More than 200 Group A and B employees comprising doctors, engineers, managers and curators of the GTA under the aegis of JAKS are on an indefinite cease-work agitation since June 13.

They have been assembling every morning before the main gate at Lal Kothi, but refuse to do any work.

Today, the agitators reached Lal Kothi around ten in the morning and headed straight into the administrative building. GTA chief principal secretary Ravinder Singh, secretary Don Bosco Lepcha   and Sabhasad Binay Tamang were in their chambers. Executive directors and executive engineers of the GTA had gathered inside for a meeting with the chief principal secretary.
Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) file photo
The officials were all taken aback when informed about the gherao by the JAKS, who by then had blocked their chambers. Visitors were also not allowed to enter the Lal Kothi building.

“It is part of our agitation to press for our demand. We confined the officials to their chambers from morning till evening. We will intensify our agitation and even stop all work of the GTA in the coming days,” warned Deepak Sharma, the JAKS spokesperson.

The officials were confined to their chambers till four in the evening and allowed to leave office only afterwards. The GTA chief principal secretary did not want to talk to the press but the Tamang said,

“The chief principal secretary should initiate dialogues with the agitators. There are several development projects on the pipeline and if the agitation continues, it can be a hindrance. One must also note that the monsoon has started in the hills and there are every chances of calamities occurring."

In February, the state finance department issued Order No.1107-F (P) dated February 25, 2016 to revise the benefits and salary of the GTA contractual workers. The order also stated that it had been  decided to enhance the remuneration by 3 per cent every year. Group C and D workers started getting their enhanced pay from April. However, the JAKS’s contention is that although Group A and B employees, presently receiving Rs13,500 to Rs21,000, are also mentioned in the state government order, they have been kept out of the enhanced pay structure.

There are 5,321 workers employed in the various departments of the GTA, who, initially, worked under the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on contractual appointment for meager payments.


(EOIC)


 
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