Showing posts with label Gorkha Students JNU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gorkha Students JNU. Show all posts

Rs.172 - Price of blood, sweat and life of a Tea garden worker in Gorkhaland!

12:28 PM
‘All wealth is the product of labor’- John Locke 

Tea plantations of Darjeeling, Dooars and Terai encompass the two extremes of human existence, the unimaginable opulence of Tea garden owners and the abject impoverishment of workers. Behind the idyllic hills, the scenic gardens, the “romance of the two leaves and a bud”, and the “smiling faces” of the workers, what remains carefully hidden is the ugly truth of sub-human wages, more than a thousand starvation deaths, and seething anger.
Tea workers in Gorkhaland

The ongoing wage negotiations for tea gardens in the Hills, Dooars & Terai has yet again brought to fore what the West Bengal government and the industry wishes to brush under the carpet. It is another manifestation of the complicity of the state in depriving the workers of their basic minimum level of sustenance. Darjeeling tea derived its value (even has its own Geographical Indication-GI mark) from its qualitative excellence and high exportability. Darjeeling, Dooars and Tarai produces one of finest and most sought after tea in the international market (Iran, Japan, UK, Russia, UAE). Such is the demand for Darjeeling tea that in the year 2016 the finest quality of Darjeeling tea was sold at Rs 1.12 lakh per kg. Tea industry makes valuable contribution to both Central and State Government coffers by way of different Central and State taxes. The West Bengal State enjoys approximately 1500 crores of revenue generated from tea gardens annually along with the revenue from tea tourism, forest, hydel project etc. However, the contributions of the tea garden workers have been rewarded by hardship, struggle, denial of basic rights, untimely medical facilities, forced lockdown of tea gardens and starvation deaths. This perennial appalling condition has compelled the workers of 273 tea gardens to hit the streets and raise their voice for higher wages. Examining the closest history, the wage of workers’ was Rs.45 per day in 2001, Rs. 90 per day in 2010 and Rs.95 per day in 2011. After repeated pressure from workers trade unions, it was increased to Rs 132.50 in 2016. In February 2018, the wage was decided upon as Rs 150/day. However, following the disagreements and protests from the tea gardens workers trade unions, the planters agreed to increase the wage only to Rs 172 per day on 5th August 2018, which the workers have out rightly rejected.

How low is the wage rate in tea gardens?
First, workers of Darjeeling, Dooars, Tarai and Assam are paid the lowest wage among all tea plantations located in India. Eg. Tamil Nadu pays Rs. 303, Karnataka pays Rs 317 while Kerala pays Rs. 600 per day. Ironically tea produced from these locations are not much demanded in international market and fetches low price, even then the tea garden owners are able to pay decent wages more than that of Darjeeling. Secondly, wages of tea garden workers of Darjeeling, Dooars and Tarai is even lower than the government mandated minimum wages in similar occupations in West Bengal. The recently proposed wage rate by the planters and state government for the tea garden workers of Darjeeling, Dooars and Terai is Rs 172, which is even lower than minimum wage paid in Cinchona plantation located in the same region (Rs. 211), in Beedi leaf plucking (Rs. 255), in Agriculture (Rs 278). Thirdly, the money wage was Rs 90 in 2010 and it was proposed to be hiked to Rs 172 on 5th August, 2018. However, if we take into account the rising living expenses (due to rising prices over time-inflation), the real wage (what money wage is able to buy in terms of goods and services) hike is miniscule in terms of purchasing power. For e.g. the goods and services, which could be purchased using Rs. 90 in 2010, will cost Rs.141 in 2018. Even Rs.90 in 2010 was the lowest wage received by workers among workers in other industries during that time. This implies that workers until last year (Rs 132.5 in 2017) were not even getting wage, which could buy same amount of goods they used to buy with Rs. 90 in 2010. Similarly, Rs 172 of 2018 will only buy the same amount of goods what workers could have bought with Rs.109 in 2010. This means that the wage hike proposed by planters is very low if we take into account the rising daily expenses of tea garden workers. Workers are demanding Rs 239.82 as minimum wage, which is just equal to the purchasing power of Rs 152 of 2010. The minimum wage of Rs 239.82 is not even 40% of minimum wage of tea garden workers in Kerala. In an era where LPG refilling costs around Rs 1000, the tea garden workers are bound to survive on a monthly average income of Rs 5000. Since, tea garden is the main source of income for the families, it is beyond impossible to maintain a decent livelihood with such a minimum wage leading intergenerational poverty trap. Contrary to this deplorable condition of workers, the CEO of a tea company (Goodricke Group Limited, Annual Report, 2017-18) has a salary scale of Rs. 4-7 lakhs per month with additional Rs. 50,000 special allowance per month.
What do various reports say? Nearly 1500 tea plantation workers of Dooars and Terai have died due to starvation in the last ten years. According to the state government’s Labour Department Survey (2013) report, nearly Rs 47 crore rupees of provident fund was unpaid to workers in 75 tea gardens in 2013. Around 80% of the gardens had no medical staff and most of the gardens had no access to basic health facilities. The International Labour Organisation in its 2005 report clearly states that the Tea Board, which is the regulating authority of the Tea Industry, has failed to fulfill its stipulated function. They have continuously ignored wage and provident fund defaults of tea gardens, while portraying this crisis only as a marketing mismanagement. The ILO report also suspects that there is collusion between the planters and the State, which is highlighted by the non-implementation of the Tea Act, 1953. Studies show that 70% of the people of the closed tea gardens suffer from chronic energy deficiency III stage. The scale of deprivation and dispossession of livelihoods is such that the workers are forced to languish till they die of hunger and malnutrition. The Supreme Court’s order (dated 06.08.10) categorically asked the Government of India to carry out its statutory duty under Tea Act 1953. This allows the central government to take over the management/control of sick tea gardens (under section 16 B/D/E of the Act) and take steps thereafter to ensure that the interest of the workers are well protected and dues are all paid in time but such clauses never get invoked to protect the interest of the workers. Such low wages and exploitative conditions have resulted in large migration of workers from the tea estate. Human trafficking is also very rampant in the region. A report of a joint study by Unicef, Save the Children and Burdwan University (in 2010) estimates around 3,500 minors alone were trafficked from 12 gardens of Dooars alone.

We reject the recent offers by the Planters and Government of abysmally low wage hike from Rs.150 to Rs. 172.
We demand: 1. Declare and implement decent Minimum Wage for tea Plantation workers equivalent to that of state of Kerala 2. Grant legal ownership of land rights to workers 3. Reopen closed and abandoned tea estates immediately 4. Casual labour in tea gardens should be regularised as soon as possible 5. Backlog of unpaid provident fund and gratuity should be cleared immediately. We salute and stand in solidarity with the uncompromising struggle of workers for their rightful demand. Any attempt to break the unity of the workers or dilute the demands or betray the struggle must be resisted at all cost.

Gorkha Students, JNU Issued on 13/08/18

JNU students protest against Mahendra P Lama leveling allegations of sexual harassment

6:47 AM

JNU students protest against 2 other professors alleging sexual harassment

ANI | New Delhi Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) staged a protest against professors Mahendra P Lama, and Rajesh Kharat leveling allegations of sexual harassment against them. The students demanded that they should be arrested.

Recently, JNU's another professor Atul Johri was arrested in a sexual harassment case and was later granted bail.
JNU students protest against professors Mahendra P Lama leveling allegations of sexual harassment

A student of JNU filed a case against Lama and Kharat, who work in the Centre of South Asian Studies of JNU. The professors allegedly took the student to China for work and tried to harass her sexually.

She asked the Internal Complaint Committee of JNU to suspend the professor. However, no step been taken against him as yet.

Both the professors were arrested by the Police on the basis of the complaint registered by the victim but were later granted bail. The varsity authority has not taken an action against them since then.

Via B S

Gorkha Students JNU condemns police firing and killing in Gorkhaland

10:16 PM

Condemn the brutal killing of protestors by armed state forces in Gorkhaland

“You can crush some flowers but you cannot stop spring from coming back!”-Pablo Neruda

Democracy died a violent death today in Gorkhaland. The brazen display of "might is right" by the dictatorial West Bengal government and facilitated by central government has been proven once again on the Gorkha people who have been demanding their constitutional and democratic right. The dance of death that has flowed today from the barrels of the oppressive regime in broad day lights is highly condemnable. Innocents murdered, rights and freedom has been crushed by the oppressive jackboots brought on by the WB government. Three Gorkhaland supporters were left dead today and many were injured when police started firing indiscrimantely on the democratic protest. In the ensuing violence a local cop is also supposed to be killed. We condemn this highly oppressive regime where it kills its own citizens for sustaining it's egomaniac leadership. The murder of the Gorkhaland supporters is highly reprehensible and is to be condemned in the strongest form possible. We condemn this mindless violence and the police high handedness. Political demands should be heard and solved politically. Violence, intimidation and killing should never be the choice of a democratic and constitutional state. We also condemn the draconian move of Bengal government to curb the freedom of speech and expression of people through intimidation with the use of armed forces and putting unjustified ban on local media and new channels. The move of deployment of paramilitary forces especially ARMY to resolve civilian issues and complete ban on local media by Bengal government is nothing but daylight murder of democracy. Such brazen display of State power to deal with genuine political discontent of people on issue of imposition of Bengali language and democratic constitutional fight for separate state has shocked everyone. In Gorkhaland, the people’s right to peaceful assembly and protest, freedom of expression and thought, right against exploitation, right to life with dignity is being increasingly curtailed. All fundamental rights of citizens are curbed at whim and fancies of the State forces. Horrid accounts of loot, molestation, intimidation and custodial torture leading to permanent maiming of those arrested by the CRPF during the 1986-88 agitation have etched deep fear which haunts the masses even today. The State has shamelessly conspired and capitalised on the CRPF’s notorious record of the 1980s by deploying these forces again to create a fear psychosis with an implicit warning that any dissent will be CRUSHED AGAIN with same CRUELTY and LEGITIMACY. We are seeing similar occurences at present as well where the police under the orders of the oppressive regime is knocking down doors at midnight, trashing the house and arresting and intimidating people. Now with introduction of ARMY and CRPF, the feelings of the people are aggrieved more than ever. Already with the widespread presence of police, CRPF and other paramilitary forces, bringing Army to deal with civilian issues sets dangerous political precedent. Deployment of Army under pretext of ‘maintaining peace’ is nothing but intimadation. How can Army which is not trained to deal with civilian issues resolve a century old political crises of this region? Can there be any military solution to civil political problems? Are we living in de-facto military rule? Under such hostile and militarised situation, can any citizen exercise his right to freedom of thought and expression without any fear or intimidation? Is democracy just a privilege of few elites and other priveleged regions? Can we take 'silence under intimadtions and threats' as hallmarks of peace and harmony? Why such a zeal to call army in certain regions and against certain people? Will you find army in civilian conflicts in cities of mainland India? Isn't interference of Army and thousands of paramilitary forces a brazen display of State power to muzzle all democratic aspirations and voices of people of Gorkhaland? How can democracy flourish under military jack boot?           
                      
During this entire movement, the dubious nature of central government is also becoming clearer in front of the public. The Party which proclaims to be ‘sympathetic’ towards the cause of Gorkhas does not think twice before sending Army and CRPF to this region to crush the ongoing movement of Gorkhaland. By repetitively sending more and more of paramilitary force and by deploying Army even in civil politic conflict, Central government (BJP) has actually helped the media to profile this peaceful and democratic movement as being ‘violent’ and ‘dangerous’ in front of entire nation. The dubious stand of the BJP is getting clearer when we see that their WB State leadership like Dilip Ghosh and Rahul Sinha have clearly stated in live news shows that they are not in favour of creation of new State of Gorkhaland but will support ‘development’. Then what is difference between TMC and BJP on issue of Gorkhaland? Are we fool to believe that a national party can have different stand in State and then at the Centre? Under Artilce 3 (a) of Indian Constitution any ruling government can create new state even when state government is completely against it. This is the manner in which new state like Telengana was created by central government even after strong opposition by Andra Pradesh government. Why even after having majority in Parliament, BJP have not even tried to table a bill for creation of separate state of Gorkhaland? Now BJP has to make clear their stand whether it’s for or against Gorkhaland? Are we fool to believe that a national party can have different stand in State and then at the Centre? Under Artilce 3 (a) of Indian Constitution any ruling government can create new state even when state government is completely against it. This is the manner in which new state like Telengana was created by central government even after strong opposition by Andra Pradesh government. Why even after having majority in Parliament, BJP have not even tried to table a bill for creation of separate state of Gorkhaland? Now BJP has to make clear their stand whether it’s for or against Gorkhaland? Now is time where every party has to come together to fight this last battle for justice. Any fight for Gorkhaland cannot be fought by any single party on its own, hence all parties should unite and form a Joint Front to democratically decide the direction and future of ongoing movement. At this juncture any act of unilateralism by any party which creates division and suspicion has to be avoided at all cost. When common people are dying on street, a leader going on hiding doesn’t give any confidence to public.

The media which is supposed to be the eye of democracy has always been biased towards the gorkhas. It has always portrayed the gorkhas as violent and their just and legitimate demand as unconstitutional. The community which has been labelled as one of the bravest in the world have been stabbed at the back by the knife of betrayal and repression by violent representation of the gorkhas. The National media is portraying the state as the white dove of peace and the Gorkhas as lovers of violence. By twisting facts, sensationalising news and cherry picking stories, media is deliberately projecting the entire movements as ‘dangerous’ thereby justifying the excess use of military forces on peaceful protesters. Such biasness and unethical journalism should be questioned and condemned.

The bizarre silence maintained by larger civil society especially those of the supposed left parties like CPI(M) etc of Bengal on such grotesque violation of human rights is baffling and beyond comprehension. Display of such level of insensitivity towards loss of life is highly shameful and only speaks of double standards. We condemn the high handedness of the repressive Bengal Government where the democratic movement for Gorkhaland is being termed unconstitutional and is being used as a pretext to curb the democratic right to protest and freedom of expression. Hence, we demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all paramilitary forces including ARMY from the Darjeeling and stop gagging of local media. We reiterate our support for the Gorkhaland movement and call upon all progressive people irrespective of party denominations in JNU to come out in condemnation of the Oppressive TMC reign of terror( block n italacise this) that has brought violence and oppression to not just Gorkhaland but Bengal as well. We salute the people for showing incredible compassion, courage and restraint under such brutal assaults on their freedom and appeal all people unite and fight for this just cause. Instead of relying on eternal forces, people should realise that its their strength of their struggle alone which will ensure Gorkhaland. Only if we stand united and fight uncompromising, we can change the course of history!

Solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU for tea garden workers

10:26 AM

A statement of solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU to the protesting tea garden workers for their minimum wage

All tea workers unions from Darjeeling, Dooars and Tarai under the broad banner of Joint Forum have decided to go for a 48 hour strike in Bengal against the exploitation of tea garden owners of Bengal, who are living in deplorable condition with less than minimum wage which is insufficient to live a dignified life. It is co-incidentally at the same time when the people of Gorkhaland are struggling against the oppressive linguistic imposition of the Bengal government on the indigenous people of the land.  The Hills, Terai and Dooars of Gorkhaland are gripped in seething angst when it is forced to witness the misery of its own people in the form of hunger and starvation deaths. It is outrageous to see the workers of a multi-million industry (tea plantation) dying a slow and painful death due to hunger and starvation. The irony of this situation is lies in the presence of stark poverty, chronic hunger and exploitation along-side the colossal profits these tea-gardens generate for the owners and the State. According to an estimate by the Darjeeling Chamber of Commerce, tea industry in the hills generates an average of Rs. 450 crores revenue annually, equal to that of the tourism industry in the region. Absence of workers’ rights, non-payment of minimum wages and benefits is not specific to the tea-industry alone but is rather a persistent feature of work in the highly segment labour-market in India. However, it is pertinent to highlight here the starkly Regional Aspects of Discrimination that lies so strongly visible in the tea industry. The minimum wage paid to unskilled tea labour in Kerala is Rs.301, in Assam it is Rs.158.54, in neighbouring Sikkim it is Rs. 200 while the same in Darjeeling comes to a meagre Rs.112. Even the minimum wage paid in West Bengal for MGNREGA is around Rs. 130-151 and for agricultural laborer is Rs. 206 per day. The tea workers in North Bengal are thus made to work for wages which is far below the minimum in any form of work. It is very shrewd on the part of the owners to claim low wages are due to low price being earned from the sales of tea leaves produced from these gardens. If this be the case then why the wages of workers remains same in those tea gardens which fetches the highest price in the world tea market( for instance Rs. 1.1 lakhs per kg of tea is produced by Makaibari tea garden but wages remain still at Rs.112).
In the last decade more than 1400 tea workers have died due to acute malnutrition and starvation. As recent as January 2013, 95 workers of the locked out Dheklapara Tea Estate in Dooars sent a letter to the Chief Minister of West-Bengal seeking her “order” to kill themselves because they were suffering from acute starvation. The tea workers therefore are forced to languish till they die of hunger and malnutrition. Studies show that 70% of the people of the closed tea gardens suffer from chronic energy deficiency III stage. In the gardens affected by starvation death like Red Bank, Bandapani, Diana and Kathalguri tea gardens, it was found that workers and their families have Body Mass Index (BMI) identical to those populations affected by severe famine.
The starvation death in the tea gardens, the crushing of the identity of the Gorkhas and other minorities and the denial of basic rights to oppressed communities in Bengal has been a phenomenon for centuries in Bengal. The hegemonic forces are united to crush every single voice of dissent and so now the time has come that the oppressed be united to fight against this domination for a better tomorrow.
At this hour of crisis, Gorkha Students, JNU stands in full support with the tea garden workers and the Gorkha people in their struggle for dignity, self-respect and a better life. When Oppressors are always united and consolidated, it is a historic responsibility on our shoulders to unite and fight for a just and egalitarian society!
We also demand that:
1. Closed and abandoned tea estates be reopened immediately.
2. Stop privatisation of government operated tea gardens.
3. Declare and implement Minimum Wage for tea plantation workers.
4. Grant legal ownership of housing space to workers
5. Casual labour should also be brought under the purview of Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
6. Backlog of unpaid Provident fund and gratuity should be cleared without delay.

Gorkha Students, JNU

Gorkha Students JNU appeal to people

7:23 AM

AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE OF DARJEELING, KALIMPONG, DOARS AND TERAI

After a lot of diversions and contradictory statements from the Bengal government, intending to create ambiguity and confusion, it has been finally declared by Mamata Banarjee in her recent statement to media that Bengali language will be made compulsory in schools for non Bengali communities in the State. 

What we need to understand is that the politics of imposing the language of the majority on the minority communities is neither new nor a region-specific phenomenon. It is a reflection of a new kind of Communal Majoritarian politics in India where powerful communities have overtly started imposing their language, their food habits, their culture and way of life on other weaker and minority communities. In this battle against the imposition of language, Gorkhas are not the only targets of the resurgence of majoritarian politics. Assam government intends to make Assamese language compulsory in school for all communities including Gorkhas living there. Only of people from Barak valley and tribal areas are exempted from this rule. Similarly, many southern states like Tamil Naidu and Kerala are protesting the indirect imposition of Hindi in their region by the Central government. 

We should also get rid of the “Messiah Complex” where we expect some saviour to appear and fight our battle. Such an attitude will not only rob our capacity and agency to fight against injustice but will also make us dependent on others to fight our struggle. Time and again, history has shown us that it is only when people actively participate in collective struggle, that victory has been possible and resolute. We should realise that our struggle has to be carried out by ourselves and cannot be outsourced elsewhere.  We should realise that people and people alone are the motive force of history.

We cannot allow this diktat to crush our linguistic freedom and further pave way for the weakening of our larger struggle for right to self-determination. We should also remain vigilant to those sinister forces that will attempt to portray this struggle as a communal fight between the Gorkhas and the Bengalis. Our struggle is not intended to disrespect either the Bengali community or their language at all. We respect Bengali language and its culture but not its imposition. We welcome and acknowledge the support of those from the Bengali community who believe that the language of the majority cannot be coercively imposed on linguistic minorities. Not only in Bengal, we are completely against any form of majoritarian politics which marginalises and exploits the other vulnerable communities.
Such continuous exploitation and injustice towards people of Gorkhaland clearly reflect that there cannot be any justice as long as we remain under Bengal. We need more than fake pre election promises, empty slogans and defunct government committees on Gorkhaland. Freedom from Bengal Majoritarian rule and formation of Gorkhaland is the need of the hour. It is time for the civil society and all progressive forces to join hands for a unified struggle against this chauvinistic act of the Bengal government.

Gorkha Students JNU, New Delhi

Gorkha Students JNU Call Out Flipkart’s Racist Ad In Strongly Worded Open Letter

9:16 PM

JNU’s Gorkha Students Call Out Flipkart’s Racist Ad In Strongly Worded Open Letter


To,
Flipkart

Dear Binny,
First of all, let us clarify that you are neither hallucinating nor in your dreams. It must be deeply disturbing and astonishing for you to reconcile with this fact that you are reading a letter written by a ‘bahadur’.

Shaabji, we are deeply sorry for not living up to your company’s expectations! We are sorry for this audacity that you may have never expected to see. But shaabji, we must shake you up from your mistaken notions about the Gorkha community.

Even the spirit and tone of your recent clarification letter does not reflect an iota of remorse and self-reflection.

We are hurt but, paradoxically, we are very thankful to your company for this unexpected opportunity to talk about the long history of denial of our political rights and the daily harassment and humiliation which we face on account of our racial identity wherever we go.

You have surely realised by now that your insensitivity and crass competition in the rat race has opened a Pandora’s Box. We argue with hard facts and not just rhetoric. In this letter, we shall be revisiting our political history and our present reality. We shall talk about our economy, freedom, struggle, rights, dignity and individuality. We shall also touch upon ethics (something you seem to be grossly lacking). We hope that you and your employees (including the advertisement team you consulted) are endowed with sufficient mental faculties to be able to follow our arguments in this letter and connect them competently enough to comprehend why Flipkart is guilty of vilifying the Gorkha identity.

The Gorkha community has suffered centuries of exploitation under the British colonial regime. While India celebrated its ‘independence’ in 1947, the Gorkhas are still battling for their rights and dignity. We have survived over sixty years of socio-economic and political subjugation under West Bengal’s blatant policy of internal colonialism facilitated by local stooges. The fetters that curb our right to self-determination are getting stronger by the day. Consequently, the region and community is ravaged by high unemployment, abject poverty and distress out- migration. While a handful of the privileged few always had access to quality education and opportunities to climb further up in the class hierarchy, for the larger majority in our community, formal education has been only recently accessible. A substantial percentage of our people are engaged in back-breaking work day and night to produce the world’s most expensive tea (Darjeeling tea). For the plantation workers, the reward for filling the coffers of tea garden owners and the government has been only a life plagued by poverty, morbidity and a slow but painful death due to starvation. The screams of suffering and death has been silenced and stifled by the continued indifference of a callous government and corporate houses that display the least regard for basic human rights of workers. Any intervention so far has been half-hearted and reflects charity and sympathy rather than delivery of rights and entitlements.

No industrial worker in the history of independent India may have suffered this plight. Adding insult to injury, we are casually and, many a times, deliberately called ‘foreigners’ by the so called ‘authentic Indians’ of our country. The starkest irony being that we are the same community which has time and again received showers of praises for bravery in armed forces by the Indian political establishments. We are again the same community that has been butchered by the same political establishment using paramilitary forces when trying to assert our basic political right to self determination i.e. separate state of Gorkhaland in 1986. Numerous real and fake quotes (from field Marshal Manekshaw, to Hitler and even Osama Bin Laden) valorising the bravery of the community in fighting battles has actually strengthened the narrative of Gorkhas as a martial race. Such a widely celebrated reductionist narrative of Gorkhas as a martial race has been internalised by the community itself without a critical reflection on how it dehumanises the community and encourages more racial stereotyping of the entire Gorkhas.

It is true that many men from our community are employed as security guards but there is nothing to be ashamed of this. We are not the only community in that profession. What matters is that we don’t judge any form of labour (if not forced) by its remuneration or its location on the workplace hierarchy. We leave such prejudiced and judgemental tasks to appropriate hands like yours. Only parasite classes, whose existence depend on sucking the fruits of others’ labour, fail to comprehend the dignity and importance of any form of work.

Apart from disregard for dignity of labour, a larger wrong which is very problematic is to divide and reproduce an entire community in the binary of either security guards or as blood thirsty ‘hyper brave’ soldiers. This kind of representation strengthens the already existing racial stereotypes among the larger population which draws its knowledge (limited) of other communities through popular culture propagated by media. We hope you can fathom the gravity of the damage that your advertisement has thus made by the stereotypical depiction of the Gorkha community as security guards. After watching such commercials and movies (like “Appna Sapna Money Money”), your sons and daughters are at the risk of not only imbibing such stereotypical views but also letting their interactions with Gorkhas in general be influenced by prejudice and bias encouraged by people like you.

Mr. Binny, by generalising such constructed attributes, do you not feel guilty of stifling free thinking, of polluting young minds and of depriving Gorkhas their freedom to express their individual identities and personal attributes that is so unique to each. Such vile attempts are condemnable in the strongest words. As the company head, it is your responsibility to avoid such actions, whether accidental or deliberate.

We do not intend to lecture you on values, but it is worthwhile to reflect upon the so called ‘core values’ upon which you claim Flipkart is based. Not forgetting that the values have been put in a framework to drive the mad rush of accumulation of wealth by a few elitists like you. Nonetheless, should we for a moment reflect upon the value of ‘customer obsession’ then, the said advertisement shows that your firm is far from being obsessed to cater to the needs of the Gorkha community. Instead, it has only alienated and humiliated us. Isn’t it ironic that the value of ‘ownership’ that you claim to uphold has blatantly disowned the contributions of Gorkhas in diverse fields of human endeavor? The ‘impact’ of the value has been such that we have been compelled to write this letter to you. While the value of ‘honesty’ has missed the prefix of –dis-assuming that you are not that ignorant of the fragmentation and ruptures that racism creates on the canvas of societies. Communication has indeed created the impact you wanted, not of content as you wished but the psychological attitude that you harbor. ‘Innovation’ on the other hand has been all but to reinforce the stereotypical mindset of the majoritarian ethos- concretised by the same acts that we condemn in this letter.

Knowing that sole purpose of the existence of your company, for that matter any company, is to amass profit at any cost, we are not in any form of illusion that you are here to address a pressing social issue which is tearing apart the social fabric of Indian society. After all, 200 years of colonial rule and the thousands of painful deaths due to the Bhopal Gas tragedy was a gift from a corporation like yours. Mr. Binny, it is no surprise that a corporation like yours thrives on the consumerism which disregards the very fabric that you feed upon. Far from a symbiotic one, with increasing fortunes, the dynamics of relationships takes a form of a parasitic one, that not only makes the poor poorer but even robs away the basic ‘dignity’ of people. The recent advertisement speaks volumes in this context.

Whenever our fellow Indians are abused and attacked on racial ground in foreign countries like Australia or USA, we were in deep pain and anguish and had pledged to fight against such racial stereotypes. We strongly believe that you and your company employees who probably often land in foreign soil, feel the same. Even after that we fail to comprehend why your company chose to promote such racial stereotypes of a certain community of our own country? Or is it that your principle to fight against racism is limited only beyond our borders where the elite likes of you are more likely to be potential victims? For within India, you are widely recognised as the ‘authentic and rightful sons of the soil’!

Just like a brother who kills his sister in the name of protecting a family’s ‘honour’ or an upper caste feudal lord who chops the hands of Dalit children for touching his field crops and feels no remorse; in your mad profit campaign, you too have failed to comprehend the intensity of injustice you have done by virtue of not being born in a certain ethno–linguistic community. You fail to comprehend the pain and humiliation in bearing the brunt of racial stereotypes as a daily reality.

At last one humble request from our side – expand and grow as much as you can and trade in various goods and services but do not try to thrive in your business by trading another community’s dignity. Your company cannot hold long if you try to flourish by vilifying another community’s dignity and identity.

Thank You.

Via youthkiawaaz

Gorkha Students, JNU in Solidarity with NBU fighting for Gender Justice

9:28 PM
Solidarity Statement from Gorkha Students, JNU to the students of North Bengal University (NBU) fighting for Gender Justice

We students of JNU salute and take inspiration from the historic struggle waged by students of NBU against the recent incidents (15th August, 2016) of sexual harassment in campus premises of North Bengal University. The struggle has unsettled the deep patriarchal anxiety of the administration and will definitely contribute to expansion of the spaces for women (both within and outside campus premises).

   The patriarchal unequal gender relation of society also permeates the work premises. This power relation has its own class, caste and racial manifestations. Under such hierarchical social relation the gender justice cannot be achieved if the perpetrator lies in top of power relation. Failure to deliver gender justice only strengthens the forces of patriarchy and sexual-harassers and jeopardizes the space for women to come up and lodge complaints against similar cases of violence. The administration throughout country has repeatedly used their authority to shield sexual harassers even after they have been found guilty under enquiry, particularly when the guilty is someone with influence. At the one hand laws (Prevention of Sexual Harassment in Work Place Act, 2013) which are supposed to protect and give justice also reflects the same patriarchal attitude. Hence, to look matter of sexual harassment and to sensitise campus on issue of gender, we think that independent and effective body like Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), as per the Supreme Court's Vishaka Judgement guidelines 13th August, 1999, should be constituted in every work place of this country and decisions of the GSCASH should be made binding upon the administration or any person with sufficient influence/power. The ongoing struggle of students in NBU can make sure that such proper institutional mechanism is instated in campus premises. Even regressive act like Prevention of Sexual Harassment in Work Place Act, 2013 makes its mandatory to do so.
 
The procession taken out by NBU students and research scholars on Friday.
 Picture by Kundan Yolmo
We believe promoting a security centric solution to the issue of crime against women (like putting the entire campus under the gaze of CCTVs) will only worsen the situation for female students and hamper their mobility within campus. The security centric approaches reflect the same protectionist patriarchal male chauvinist attitude that will perpetuate the age old unequal gender relations. Such security centric measures are very likely to be used by authority as tool of extensive surveillance and discipline and contrary to initial believe, can be used to further curtail the freedom of students. Definitely prisons are safe, but we don’t want our campus to be that.

We demand speedy trail and prompt justice to be delivered. We demand the perpetrators to be brought to justice, through an impartial investigation and speedy trial in appropriate forum of authority. We extend our solidarity to the uncompromising struggle of students of NBU on issue of sexual harassment and gender justice.

Only the unity among an oppressed can break the chain of patriarchy!  Let us all join hands together and raise voices for gender justice!

-Gorkha Students, JNU                
Issued on 20/10/2010

Commemorating the spirit of struggle on 25th Nepali Bhasa Manyata Diwas - Gorkha Students, JNU

10:35 AM
It was a new dawn for the Gorkhas of India when their language, Nepali was given a constitutional status on the 20th day of August 1992. This day commemorates the struggle of those visionary and revolutionary Gorkhas who had fought to provide Nepali language in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, thereby fulfilling the aspirations of millions of Gorkhas living in different states of India.  Nepali as an official language is spoken in the Indian state of Sikkim, Gorkhaland and it has many speakers in the North-East region of India and Uttarakhand. There are also a lot of Nepali speakers in countries like Bhutan and Burmaand a Nepali speaking diaspora lives in different countries of South Asia, Middle east, Europe, the Americas, Australia and other parts of Asia. Nepali generally falls under the category of Pahari language branched out of the Indo-Aryan language family, thus sharing a commonality with languages of the Himalayan belt. Its history like any other language is rooted deep in time and the story of its struggle is the story of the Gorkhas in India. The recognition of Nepali language in the constitution is not merely a victory but a stepping stone towards the formation a separate state for the Gorkhas of India.
Nepali Bhasa Manyata Diwas celebrated by Gorkha Students, JNU.
Nepali Bhasa Manyata Diwas celebrated by Gorkha Students, JNU -2015 a file photo
Although Nepali language has been given recognition by the Indian constitution but whether in practice, it has been able to breed properly in the sub-continent is a big question in itself. It is a sad reality that the West Bengal government has always alienated Nepali language by its power of hegemony and linguistic imposition on the people of the Gorkhaland. Such linguistic imposition is exercised by many clever bureaucratic and cultural tactics which includes forcing the people of Gorkhaland to learn a language(Bengali) which has always been alien to them, denying skilled jobs to Nepali speakers in government offices, changing names of places (roads, streets etc ) that were once in Nepali and introducing the Bengali script to write Nepali .Such is the atrocity meted out to people where Nepali language is an official language. In places where it is not, conditions are even more worse where the majoritarian attitude even denies to recognize the importance of Nepali language or its speakers in their hegemonic paradigm. When many other indigenous language has its healthy space to breed and grow, Nepali language in India is in the verge of endangerment. Even in the most progressive campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University which claims to protect the rights of the history and culture of the oppressed, there is no centre for the learning of Nepali language. The question should be raised as Why a language which is spoken by millions of people in India still do not have a place in JNU or many other big universities in India? It is an irony that a scheduled language in the Indian constitution is facing an act of discrimination and isolation. We have always known that India is a diverse country with many cultures interacting together in peace but such peace seems to exist in fairy tales in school textbooks. In practice it is a majoritarian communal attitude which is spreading its obnoxious tentacles to succumb the rights of the minorities and other oppressed communities. This linguistic and racial discrimination that the Gorkhas face is not a new event. This community has been ignored for centuries and has been recognized only as pawns in battlefields and yet the eyes of the so called progressive forces that fight for all never care to give a look at our plight. Thus, a separate state for the Gorkhas becomes obvious and inevitable in order to protect and preserve the rights of the community by its people so that they do not fell prey to any majoritarian attacks in the future.

Gorkha Students, JNU salutes all revolutionaries who had struggled for their cultural and linguistic identity in the past and whoever are doing so in the present. We demand that the rights of the oppressed communities and nationalities be ensured thereby bringing an end to the majoritarian tyranny in any form anywhere. Please join in large numbers for a public meeting on the history and struggle of the constitutional recognition of Nepali language in India.

Speaker:  Prof. Shrawan Acharya, CSRD, JNU
Venue: Godavari Mess, Time: 9:30 PM
GORKHA STUDENTS, JNU


Gorkha Students JNU protests discriminatory citizenship policies of Assam Government (NRC)

8:49 AM
23rd June 2016 JNU Delhi Gorkha Students JNU brought up a poster on 23rd June in the campus protesting against highly exclusionary and discriminatory citizenship policies of Assam government.

"Given the recent history of exodus of Gorkhas from different North Eastern states, Bhutan and Burma, the current threat emanating from Assam and Manipur is highly credible and too large to ignore. Even under such threat the calculated silence maintained by political leaders claiming to represent ‘Gorkha cause’ are highly shameful and smacks of their opportunism. Why the loud chorus of praises made by Indian political establishment of bravery and the sacrifices made by Gorkha soldiers protecting this country somewhat transforms into morbid.

And indifference when that community is brazenly discriminated and vilified in public sphere. It is such numerous instances of political discrimination and exclusion which consolidates and justifies the demand for separate state of Gorkhaland." said Dawa Sherpa.

Gorkha Students JNU protests discriminatory citizenship policies of Assam Government (NRC)
Gorkha Students JNU 

The Poster

Reject the exclusionary and divisive policies of ‘them’ and ‘us’ in Assam

“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty!”- Thomas Jefferson

The wicked hands of majoritarian chauvinism have always tried to squeeze the identity and existence of marginalized communities through its clever tactic of othering and isolating people. History have witnessed, whenever such tendencies of racial and linguistic hatred have been unleashed it has brought misery to the weaker nations and unending guilt to those who practice it. But it seems humanity do not learn from history and so it repeat its mistakes time after time in all possible spaces on earth. Such an act of majoritarian exclusionary and divisive policies is manifested in the form of a National Registration Certificate in Assam, which identifies the Gorkhas and the Muslims as ‘outsiders’ in the NRC forms thus preparing them to be excluded from their rights in their own homeland. The NRC earlier had fixed the base year as 1951 as per which anybody who was enumerated in the NRC of 1951 and the electoral list of 1951 shall be declared as original inhabitant (OI) of Assam. But under recent specific government notification, the Gorkhas and Muslims are excluded from the category of OI in the NRC forms even though they had all the official documents proving their name enrolled in the NRC of 1951. Many British official documents(like by Krishna Ram Medhi, Sub Deputy Collector, Samuguri in 1937 and Deputy Commissioner of Darrang in 1937) shows that Gorkhas were living in Assam for about century with perfect harmony with the indigenous population. But situation changed after the beginning of Assam Movement in 1980s, when the Gorkhas, Muslims and some other linguistic and religious minorities were perceived by locals as cause of their underdevelopment and treat to their identity and opportunity. They were arbitrarily labeled as ‘immigrants’ who come to rob jobs and lands from the natives and some of them are labeled more brutally as ‘illegal migrants’. The irony is that even those people whose ancestors came during the British times and who have settled considering Assam as their home are branded as immigrants in popular culture. They are treated as undesirables in the society, thus ghettoizing and putting them under the lenses of suspicion always. The level of hatred towards these communities has always been at a high degree in Assam since many decades. The abhorrence spread by the Assam Movement in name of fighting against “foreigner” may be unseen by the majoritarian value system but to the minorities it was a propaganda specifically designed to put the Assamese society in illusion and prey of a false belief that hating specific communities could bring peace and development to them. Such hate propaganda was also seen in Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland in the late 80’s when thousands of Gorkhas were forced to leave their homes and many even died in some unwelcomed ethnic conflicts. All the people of Assam need is hope in the midst of multi-cultaralism where societies interact together in harmony as equal socio-political beings. The Gorkhas of Assam have always been in peaceful coexistence within the larger Assamese society. It even went to the extent of changing its very identity to ‘Assameli Nepali’( Gorkhas of Assam) and trying to intermix Gorkha culture with Assamese and other indigenous culture through various forms of socialisation like marriages, celebrations of indigenous festivals together and respecting the cultural values of everyone. On the contrary, it seems that a few anti-social majoritarian chauvinists do not want peaceful coexistence and want to divide society in name of language, ethnicity and religion. They want hatred to be spread everywhere so that they can divide people into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and rule everyone through the medium of fear and ignorance. Such brazen principles of exclusion and hatred are not only experimented in Assam but similar acts are peeping through the window to terrorize minority communities in Manipur in from of three new bills. Given the recent history of exodus of Gorkhas from different North Eastern states, Bhutan and Burma, the current threat emanating from Assam and Manipur is highly credible and too large to ignore. Even under such threat the calculated silence maintained by political leaders claiming to represent ‘Gorkha cause’ are highly shameful and smacks of their opportunism. Why the loud chorus of praises made by Indian political establishment of bravery and the sacrifices made by Gorkha soldiers protecting this country somewhat transforms into morbid silence and indifference when that community is brazenly discriminated and vilified in public sphere. It is such numerous instances of political discrimination and exclusion which consolidates and justifies the demand for separate state of Gorkhaland.
 
We condemn and reject such exclusionary and divisive policies which are pitted against linguistic and religious minority communities and demand immediate revocation of such discriminatory rules/bills from Assam and Manipur. Let us unite and fight against such majoritarian injustice!

 GORKHA STUDENTS, JNU


Gorkha Students JNU condemns rape and murder of gorkha girl from Assam and the Dalit girl in Kerala.

7:32 AM
"Gorkha Students, JNU condemns heinous acts of brutal rape and murder of gorkha girl from Assam and the Dalit girl, Jisha in Kerala. We condemn, in the strongest terms the despicable crimes committed against Jisha, against the girl from Assam who was brutally raped and murdered and to the continued apathy shown by the University officials towards the girl from Sikkim. We demand a proper investigation in all these cases with speedy trial for the perpetrators to be booked and be brought to justice." - Gorkha Students, JNU 

Gorkha Students, JNU  Condemn the rising atrocities on the Oppressed and Marginalized

The misery of the oppressed seems to be unending in the world’s largest democracy. Every minute we come across stories from the length and the breadth of our country about oppressed communities and their daily struggle for existence. This agony of the oppressed goes unheard, unattended and unaddressed.  Democracy fails us and the ugly Brahmanical exploitative structure rears it’s hydra head everywhere. Recently, a young Dalit student, Jisha was raped and brutally murdered in Kerala. The perpetrators of this despicable and horrendous act are yet to be punished. The atrocity that went unto raping and killing the young woman is pure evil. How is it, that ‘a body’ becomes prone to more torture, pain, and abuse and why is it that ‘this body’ belongs to an adivasi, a dalit, a minority and a woman. Our political institutions and society are yet to address these issues. However, they are but symptoms of a larger malaise affecting us all. For Jisha and many others, her identity as a woman and a Dalit was enough for the perpetrators to carry out the abhorrent crime with impunity. Such acts have been historically ignored and neglected. Becoming all though more troubling when we see that the so called ‘progressive’ fonts pays only lip service to such gross injustices, thereby, confabulating this struggle for justice and equality
Gorkha Students, JNU  Condemn the rising atrocities on the Oppressed and Marginalized
 Rising atrocities on the Oppressed and Marginalized
In yet another similar incident, in Margherita, Assam, a young Gorkha girl of just 20 years was found to be raped and brutally murdered and thrown in a river (inset pic.1).  He deformed body later showed the degree of brutality meted out to her. When some public spirited citizens and organizations came forward and protested against such atrocity, the Tinsukia police rather than finding the culprits were quick to condemn such protests as fomenting anarchy. The police and the administration in no uncertain terms have tried to belittle the issue and with no media coverage of this heinous act, we fear that this incident too would be in the long lists of cases, where justice goes dying with the dead.

Sadly, this is not new. We encountered similar apathy of our government and our political leaders two years back when a student from Sikkim was sexually molested by her seniors and blackmailed into silence at the prestigious Visva-Bharati Central University in Bengal.  Social media uproar forced a few political leaders to speak on this, who vouched to fight for her and to put the accused behind the bars. Sadly, when the furore died down so did their promises. Till now, the girl still has to undergo medical treatment for her traumas while the culprits still roam free inside the campus, allegedly, because of help and protection from the officials of the University itself.  Her father however remains determined and continues to run from pillar to post hoping that one day he will be heard and his daughter will get the justice she deserves.

Our question remains, as to why that people from certain background are more easily prone to crime and criminals. Why is it easy for the perpetrators to carry out such horrendous acts without the fear of law or justice on the them.  Only too recently a girl from Manipur was abducted right from the middle of a street in a foiled attempt in the city of Bengaluru. Thankfully, the girl was able to free herself not because people chased away the perpetrator or caught him but because of the sheer grit and courage of the girl alone, while we see in the cctv captured video of the act that people stroll by in the vicinity as if nothing has happened. This is indeed shameful and reprehensible.

 Also, in continuation of the series of racial attacks. Closer to campus, on  May 2nd John Thapa and his friend John Rana hailing from Gorkhaland, were brutally beaten (inset pic. 2) up by the locals of Chakkarpur in Gurugram  for raising objection against throwing dirty water on them by the locals. Both of them were brutally beaten by rods and sticks by locals for daring to raise their voice. What is more disturbing is that last year similar kind of racial attack  had occurred on 18/05/2015 when Abishek Rai and his two friends all hailing from Teesta Valley, Gorkhaland, were brutally beaten up by their landlord's son and his friends in Gurugram. Everywhere there seems to be one common thing. The identity of the oppressed becomes an incentive for the oppressor to victimize them. These incidents clearly show that racism for people with certain ethnicity in India is daily living experience. It’s not alone limited to people from Northeast. Even non-north eastern people like the Gorkhas, the Ladakhis, and the Tibetans face it.

Also, it is alarming when we see that such casteist, racial, communal and linguistic discrimination seems to have permeated from our society and unto our political institutions as well. Allowing for a fascist and repressive system to thrive and which represses anything which comes as progressive or just. Such repression got showcased again when two people were killed over police firing in the Tawang District of Aruncahal Pradesh (inset pic 3). The victims were demanding the release of Gyatso, the Secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), who were questioning the building of the dams in an earthquake prone area and were demanding more local consensuses to be built on the issue. We have already seen such roughshodding when huge dams were built on the river Teesta in Sikkim and West Bengal repudiating the concerns raised by the locals about the adverse impact these dams might have on their life, livelihood and the environment. Sadly, we as a society seemed to have normalised this repression and given into the ideology advocated by this repressive regime that makes anyone standing against them typecast as criminals or anti-national. Such typecasting takes away from them their political rights and allows for the full force of the repressive machinery to be turned on them while the citizenry is lulled into looking the other way by the mantra of “greater good”. Such plundering of the tribal forest lands and flooding of huge hill areas are all carried out in the name of the greater good. However, the question remains whose greater good? Is it the good of the regimes over the blood of the oppressed nationalities or is it the blindness of the collective conscience which fails to see the dark side of this greater good? Violence against the oppressed communities has always been structured and programmed well by the authors of oppression, ever and always. History will never forget and forgive the killing of about 1500 people under the state repression during the 1986 Gorkhaland agitation or the atrocities that were meted out to people under the Armed Forces Special Power Act in the North East since 1958. Such state repression is sophisticatedly designed to combat and repress voices of dissent in any form.

In the recent times too we see how such forms of repression has permeated and penetrated even into our educational institutions like HCU, JNU, FTII or JU wherein all and any voices of dissent are criminalized. We have seen how the progressive environment of our own university too is being poisoned by the same repressive state apparatuses manifest in the recent dictatorial High level Enquiry Committee (HLEC) report and the farcical dossier which tries to isolate and profile certain sections of the student community and teachers as immoral and anti-national based on their caste, religion and racial ethnicity.

Such typecasting is what allows for certain sections of our society to be devoid of law and to their claim to its equality, justness or fairness. People with no claim to law are hence then found to be easy target of the repressive regime and the casteist and racial society that we have come to exist in. It is what has allowed the perpetrators of the heinous crime against Jisha to the reach the level of horrendousness yet unheard. It is what is making the Tinsukia administration and police to brush the horrible rape and murder of the bright young Gorkha girl under the carpet of nonchalance. It is the lulling and normalising of such depraved acts that has allowed the molesters in Shantiniketan to roam free, or the violent acts in Gurugram to be reported unheard. It is this ideology of supposed ‘growth’ which excels in repressing and killing its own people.

Gorkha Students, JNU condemns all such heinous acts and travesties of justice. We condemn, in the strongest terms the despicable crimes committed against Jisha, against the girl from Assam who was brutally raped and murdered and to the apathy shown by the University officials towards the girl from Sikkim. We demand a proper investigation in all these cases with speedy trial for the perpetrators to be booked and be brought to justice. Only the unity among an oppressed can break the chain of patriarchy, racism and castiesm!


Gorkha Students, JNU

Gorkha Students, JNU condemn racist assaults on Students from Sikkim in ITFT Chandigarh

5:29 PM
Condemn Brutal Racist assaults on Students from Sikkim for protesting against racist slurs

The students from Sikkim were brutally beaten with rods, bricks and hockey sticks by some students and hooligans from Himachal Pradesh in full public view. This is the second time that students from Sikkim studying at Institute of Technology and Future Trends (ITFT) had to face such brutal assaults. When students from Sikkim resisted continuous racial slurs passed against them, they were assaulted by students of Himachal Pradesh.

According to the representative of Sikkim Student’s Welfare Association of Chandigarh (SSWAC), when 30-40 Sikkimese students were returning back after college at around 5:10pm-5:20pm on 15th December, a huge number of miscreants stopped their bus at Khuda Ali Sher Bus stand and started pelting stones, bricks without any consideration for human lives.  The miscreants then used rods and sharp weapons to lash out on the students inflicting deep injuries. Almost all the students were severely injured and were later taken to hospital. Fearing for their lives several students were forced to flee the scene and are yet to be traced. The violent attack on Wednesday directed towards the students of Sikkim by students belonging to Himachal Pradesh (HP) could have been averted, provided the college authorities and the police could have taken prompt actions and dealt with the matter seriously during the first incident. It was confirmed by the police that racial remarks passed by the students from HP were the prime cause that led to the first clash on December 8 2015, a precursor to the current incident. The police have nabbed 10 students — Ajay Kumar, Sunny Thakur, Manu Thakur, Vishal, Anil, Rohit, Pardeep, Vijay, Sandeep and Gurjant — for rioting and wrongful restraint, and sent them to judicial custody. But more are yet to be arrested and are still at large.
 Gorkha Students, JNU condemn racist assaults on Students from Sikkim in ITFT
Some  Pics from the incident
This is not a new event that has taken place against students from the Northeast. The students of Sikkim have been harassed in all possible ways and local thugs have made it a point to fuel the fire even more. Only a few days back a video came to lime light, circulated via social media which portrayed merciless beating of students of Sikkim at the hands of some students from HP with the help of local goons. Following the first incident the SSWAC representative had even made an appeal in written naming some of the perpetrator to the head of the ITFT institute. However the head who has to look after the well being of all students irrespective of any social denominations scornfully directed the complainant to take the fight outside the premise of the institute. No prompt actions were taken against the students as such which emboldened them to stage the recent attack. The security and safety of Sikkim students studying at such prestigious institute as ITFT is once again compromised and open for the taking.

We condemn this continues harassment and dehumanisation on basis of race in strongest possible words and appeal to all progressive democratic forces to raise their voice against such incidents. We extend our solidarity with students of Sikkim. We demand that government should immediately come out of denial mode and enact anti-racial law to punish the perpetrators of such hate crime without any delay. We believe only the unity among the all oppressed and uncompromising fight can eradicate this social affliction.

Gorkha Students, JNU

Gorkha Students JNU against Starvation Deaths in Hills, Terai and Dooars

1:45 PM
What Lies Behind the Romance of Two Leaves and One Bud: Exploitation and Starvation Deaths!

What every Exquisite Cup of Tea Fails to Narrate is the plight and agony of those workers who have been heavily exploited and marginalized for generations. Beyond the romanticised notions of the beautiful hills and tea estates, the “the two leaves and a bud”, and the “cheerful faces of its people”, what remains Invisible is the Ugly Truth of Sub-Human Wages and Living Conditions, Denial of Basic Rights of Workers, 

More than a Thousand Starvation Deaths and Seething Anger.

Once again the Hills, Terai and Dooars of Gorkhaland are gripped in seething angst when it is forced to witness the misery of its own people in the form of hunger and starvation deaths.  It is outrageous to see the workers of a multi-million industry (tea plantation) dying a slow and painful death due to hunger and starvation. Most deaths are occurring in tea gardens that are owned by the largest corporate houses of Britain and India. Only recently, from April, 2015 till date, 30 workers died due to chronic hunger and starvation in this region. Every tea garden you would visit in free India echoes the cries of those labourers who have been bonded and forced to work at paltry wages. Among many such are the tea gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars whose scenic beauty and unparalleled flavour of tea have gained world reputation, whereas the state of the livelihoods of workers (especially tea-garden labourers) suffering perennial misery and insecurity remain unheard and ignored. The region has remained in grip of the predatory claws of imperialism and colonization which has obscenely exploited its resources, both natural and human in the worst forms. It would be erroneous to estimate the scale of this open loot by factoring in only monetary losses in the form of wages and incomes. In fact, the ramifications of the denial of the same has spilled out to cause starvation (in many cases amounting to death), malnourishment of children, denial of proper education, health care, sanitation and housing, erosion of self-confidence, forced migration for work, sex slavery and human trafficking in the most hazardous industries. Workers have witnessed rampant flouting of labour laws which has made a brazen mockery of their rights. According to law, each tea garden worker must receive, apart from their daily wages, provident fund payments, bonuses, pension (for retired workers), ration, umbrellas and aprons for working, firewood for cooking, housing, electricity, water, medical care and education facilities. The last time the workers got ration in Dhumchipara was in 2011. In Dhumchipara Tea estate in Dooars, a poor woman having two children has been reduced almost to a skeleton due to starvation. These children who have been becoming immobile due to chronic hunger and poor health require at least 750 ml of blood which their family cannot afford. Doctors say, “They may not live long”. Such cases of starvation induced illnesses and death in the tea-gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars are too numerous to quote here.  The irony of this situation is lies in the presence of stark poverty, chronic hunger and exploitation along-side the colossal profits these tea-gardens generate for the owners and the State.  According to an estimate by the Darjeeling Chamber of Commerce, tea industry in the hills generates an average of Rs. 450 crores revenue annually, equal to that of the tourism industry in the region. Absence of workers’ rights, non-payment of minimum wages and benefits is not specific to the tea-industry alone but is rather a persistent feature of work in the highly segment labour-market in India. However, it is pertinent to highlight here the starkly Regional Aspects of Discrimination that lies so strongly visible in the tea industry. The minimum wage paid to unskilled tea labour in Kerala is Rs.301 , in Assam it is Rs.158.54, in neighbouring Sikkim it is Rs. 200 while the same in Darjeeling comes to a meagre Rs.112 . Even the minimum wage paid in West Bengal for MGNREGA is around Rs. 130-151 and for agricultural laborer is Rs. 206 per day. The tea workers in North Bengal are thus made to work for wages which is far below the minimum in any form of work. It is very shrewd on the part of the owners to claim low wages are due to low price being earned from the sales of tea leaves produced from these gardens. If this be the case then why the wages of workers remains same in those tea gardens which fetches the highest price in the world tea market( for instance Rs. 1.1 lakhs per kg of tea is produced by Makaibari tea garden but wages remain still at Rs.112).
Gorkha Students JNU  poster against Starvation Deaths in Hills, Terai and Dooars
Gorkha Students JNU  poster against Starvation Deaths in Hills, Terai and Dooars
In the last decade more than 1400 tea workers have died due to acute malnutrition and starvation. As recent as January 2013, 95 workers of the locked out Dheklapara Tea Estate in Dooars sent a letter to the Chief Minister of West-Bengal seeking her “order” to kill themselves because they were suffering from acute starvation. The tea workers therefore are forced to languish till they die of hunger and malnutrition. Studies show that 70% of the people of the closed tea gardens suffer from chronic energy deficiency III stage. In the gardens affected by starvation death, it was found that workers and their families have Body Mass Index (BMI) identical to those populations affected by severe famine.
 As the tentacles of exploitative markets are always spreading in search of cheap labour; men, women and children in these regions are facing increasing vulnerability to Human Traffickers.  A report of a joint study by UNICEF, Save the Children and Burdwan University (in 2010) estimates 3,500 minors alone were trafficked from 12 gardens of Dooars only. It’s certain that the total number of people forced into sex trade will be much higher when we add up those from Darjeeling Hills and the Terai region.  The Supreme Court’s order dated 06.08.10 categorically directs the Government of India to carry out its statutory duty under Tea Act 1953. The Act mandates the Central Government to take over the management/control of the tea undertakings/units (under section 16 B/D/E) and take steps thereafter to ensure that the interests of the workers are well protected and dues are all paid in time. Sadly the constitutional duty to uphold the ruling of the highest court of the country has not been carried out neither by the Central Government nor by the State Government. Contrary to this the government has even started to privatise a handful of tea gardens which was operated under its supervision.

Beyond some symbolic gestures and tokenism, the larger political establishment has shown apathy and indifference of the highest order in this issue. Labour minister Malay Ghatak denied allegations that there had been deaths from malnutrition and lack of treatment in closed tea gardens and asserted that the government was trying its best to provide relief. If narratives of political establishment are to be believed then it seems that the workers have voluntarily starved themselves to death.

The historic victory (forcing management to increase wages and bonus) by tea estate workers mostly led by women in Munnar, Kerala has shown that only the uncompromising collective struggle can break the status quo and force the tea management/owner  to bow to their demands.

The students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU), Vishva Bharati University (VBU) have expressed their solidarity with the movement of workers and expressed outrage over the horrendous exploitation of workers by big corporate houses. As the workers and trade unions are collectively protesting (from 27th November, 2015), we believe this solidarity statement will strengthen their resolve to fight for their right and also help us bridge the gap between students and workers movements. When Oppressors are always united and consolidated, it is a historic responsibility on our shoulders to unite and fight for a just and egalitarian society!

Gorkha Students, JNU

Gorkha Students JNU in support of Visva Bharati student from Sikkim who was sexually assaulted

5:07 PM
News release of protest organised  in JNU against denial of justice  of girl from Sikkim a student at Santineketan.

Gorkha Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi organised a protest demonstration against the continued denial of gender justice. Even one year after the heinous incident of repeated sexual harassment, justice is yet to be delivered to a B.A. first year female student from Sikkim, who had just enrolled in Kala Bhawan,Visva-Bharati University. All the three perpetrators who are students from the same university, had been arrested for a short period but have been released on bail and are now attending regular classes. The fourth perpetrator who is an outsider is yet to be arrested.
The protest demonstration was conducted by Bijay Thapa a member of the Gorkha Students, JNU who began with an introduction about the incident. In this regard, the major demand of protest demonstration was the immediate arrest of the perpetrators and their rustication from the university and also demanded strict action against the members of the faculty and administration of Visva-Bharati, involved in shielding the accused. A strong demand was also raised to make the University bear all medical and legal expenses of the complainant.
JNU protest against denial of justice for Sikkim girl in Santineketan

It was followed by a speech from Dawa Sherpa another member of Gorkha Students. He strongly condemned the indifferent and callous manner in which the issue is being handled by the University administration and by the government of Sikkim and West Bengal. He pointed out how the University added insult to injury by offering the girl’s father money to buy clothes for his daughter just because she had been stripped. Dawa strongly underscored how this incident speaks not only of violation of gender justice but also of racial discrimination meted out to citizens of particular ethnicities. He also asked leaders from GTA and Sikkim to break their long silence on this issue. lastly, he ended by saying that this kind of oppression will only strengthen our resolve to fight for a just and democratic Gorkhaland.
Protest organised in JNU against denial of justice  of girl from Sikkim a student at Santineketan.

The JNUSU President, Kanhaiya congratulated the Gorkha Students for continuing the struggle and demand for justice which had been started a year back in the same platform. He stated that this anger and outrage against patriarchal mindset which lies at the core of gender injustice must be continued the strongest fervour.

The Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) representative saluted the complainants courage for fighting her own battle. He emphasised the need for upholding the importance of grievance redressal cells and bodies such as GSCASH in all educational institutions.

Gorkha Youth and Students’ Association (GYASA) representative Dinesh strongly condemned the injustice and extended solidarity with the girl and expressed their continued support in this struggle.

All India Student’s Association (AISA) representative argued for the implementation of the Verma Committee and rejection of the UGC guidelines that promotes protectionist tendencies and moral policing in the campus. Both AISA and ‘Hundred Flowers’ representatives spoke about the need for resisting the patriarchial mindset under which such atrocities against women are tolerated.

Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) representative highlighted the dominance of Brahmanical structure of society under which Dalits, minorities and weaker sections of the society were always oppressed and connected the incident to it.
Students’ organisation, ‘Collective’ also reiterated the same argument and emphasised on the need for a combined struggle.

Democratic Students’ Federation representative also pointed out that such form of discrimination was not a single incident but was also witnessed in the case of selection of candidates in the College Service Commission.

Democratic Student’s Union also condemned the incident in the strongest possible words and argued that justice delayed is justice denied. She expressed how this type of gender violence is mostly targeted towards minorities, dalits, adivasis and other oppressed sections and they should come together to struggle against such oppression.
 Students Federation of India (SFI) also expressed their solidarity with the struggle and condemned the incident.

Nirvan, a student from Darjeeling highlighted other such issues that are prevalent in the hills since the British rule.

The final remark was made by Manoj from Gorkha Students, JNU. He highlighted the fact that such incidents only raise outrage when the complainant belongs to the dominant communities. Only such cases are able to grasp mass attention and mobilise popular movements such as the ‘Hokkolorob’ West Bengal. Whereas, similar or even ghastly incidents experienced by ethnic minorities goes unnoticed. In the backdrop of such gross injustices, he thus questioned how the celebrated lines of the Great Poet Guru Rabindranath Tagore ‘where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...’ can ever be upheld.

The protest demonstration ended with the effigy burning of the four sexual harrassers, the Vice Chancellor, Rector, Proctor and Principal of Kala Bhawan of Visva- Bharati University and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee.

On the same day, simultaneous protests were also held by the students of North Bengal University, Sikkim University and Jadavpur University. Over hundred students participated in a rally in North Bengal University. A candle light vigil was organised in Sikkim University. A silent rally was taken out in Jadavpur University in solidarity with the girl.

- Gorkha Students, JNU

Open letter to Mamata Banerjee from Gorkha Student JNU

9:48 PM
Open letter to CM of west Bengal on the issue of continuous denial of justice to women student of Sikkim from Santineketan from Gorkha Student JNU.

To
Ms. Mamata Banerjee,
Chief Minister of West Bengal
Nabana, Kolkata-
                                                                                                    Date: 29/09/2015
Dear Ms. Mamata,
We are writing you this letter with utter despair and disgust towards the indifference which is being shown by the Bengal government in the case of a heinous crime committed in Shantineketan in August last year. May we remind you that justice remains due in the case of a female student of Darjeeling who was sexually harassed, stripped and blackmailed for two months by their seniors of the ‘esteemed’ University. After fighting against all odds, she with the help of her parents had managed to lodge a complaint against the perpetrators to seek justice from your administration.  But even after going through the painful process of seeking justice for one long year, her cry for justice has fallen on deaf ears. The gross display of inaction and apathy by the administration and a sense of utter hopelessness of the delivery of justice has compelled her father to announce that he will commit suicide in full public view in 9 October, 2015. A man who has been compelled to take up a fight to bring the perpetrators of crime to justice, is now far from seeing the light of justice, fairness and equality. How could a crime so heinous, in a place so ‘revered’ go unnoticed? How could the state allow the balance of justice to be so heavily tilted against the girl and her quest for gender justice? The very declaration of this person to commit suicide is a hard slap on the ethos of gender justice and a disgusting reminiscent of failure of your government on this account.

This young girl who hails from Darjeeling was sexually assaulted and blackmailed by her seniors continuously for two months at VisvaBharati University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. This grave incident came to light only after the girl’s father came to the University to file a complaint. The girl who had just recently joined Kala Bhawan as a first year student according to the complaint made by the father was forcefully stripped by three of her seniors who also took pictures and made videos of this heinous act. These men then used it to blackmail the girl and sexually molest her, repeatedly! They even brought one of their friends from outside the university to join them in this horrendous act.

Sadly, the cries of the girl who was away from her home, her parents, her friends and her place begging the perpetrators to stop and let her go went unheard. What she got instead was beatings and physical torture when she dared to raise her voice. Unable to endure this horror she became delirious and wanted to end her life. Very soon she found herself in a hospital because of which her parents eventually came to know of their daughter’s plight.

But what did the University do as their duty and responsibility?
The University authorities tried to brush the matter under the carpet and even discouraged the father to file a police complaint. Adding insult to injury, the University authorities mockingly told the father that as her daughter clothes were torn off they would get her new pair of clothes and that he should stop complaining. Such impudence, recklessness, lack of empathy as an institution for the aggrieved girl who herself is a student and against whom such a dastardly crime has been  committed that too within the confines of the campus is indeed very shocking and repulsive to say the least.  As such it was only after continuous student protest within the University and in different college campuses including this one (JNU) that some kind of police action followed. However, the three seniors who were arrested were out on bail soon enough and the fourth perpetrator shockingly is yet to be apprehended. The police have remarkably failed to make a proper investigation into the matter even with all the proof provided by the girl and her father. It is to be noted that in cases like this, the burden of proof lies not with the complainant (i.e. the girl) but with the perpetrators of crime (the sexual assaulters). It has been a year since the horrendous incident and three of the accused students belonging to the University still roam scot free and unabashedly attend their classes as if nothing has happened. One perpetrator is still to be identified, even after a year! Is this the new model of gender justice which West Bengal wants to uphold and propagate?

So what happened to the girl?
The girl had to leave the University as her assaulters roamed freely. Her physical scars may have gone but the psychological scars of the horrifying assault remains unhealed and it festers without hope. It eats into her heart, her mind, her soul everyday... The ghastly experience has ruthlessly trampled upon the young girl’s aspirations, dreams and ambition. Very essence of her life is slowly but surely being snuffed out from her and so also that of her parents. Her father now after a year of taking up the proverbial cudgel to fight for justice due to her daughter which he believed is applicable for everyone irrespective of caste, creed, sex, class, language and ethnicity, seems distant every day. Alas! Bengal, has failed him.

The father is a broken man now. He sees no ray of hope for his daughter. Unable to bear the sufferings of his daughter, he has been pushed to such desperation that he now wants to end his life. He has recently come out stating if nothing is done to move the case ahead he will commit suicide on 9th of October.    

Visvabharati University and the West Bengal Government must explain why it has not taken stringent action against the perpetrators? Why has it continued to provide sanctuary to the perpetrators of the shameful incident of ragging, blackmailing and sexual assault and molestation of young girl? We beseech you to hear the cries of the brutalized girl and her parents. Tolerating the treating of women, who have been fighting for justice, in such a dehumanising manner, certainly cannot be the essence of your party’s slogan ‘Maa, Maati, Manush’.

It is with hope for prompt and decisive action to bring the perpetrators to justice and provide solace and closure to the girl and her family that we write to you. It is only fitting for us to expect stringent steps on your part and that you uphold gender justice. If at all, this is too much to ask for.
Sd /

Gorkha Students
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi- 110067




Freshers Meet organised by Gorkha Students, JNU

11:36 AM
In order to increase interaction and unity among Gorkha students from India who are studying in JNU, Gorkha Students, JNU organised fresher’s meet in Jawaharlal Nehru Teachers’ Union Hall.  The programme was started with informal introduction of each other followed by songs and the food. Besides welcoming freshers, Rukmini Thapa, who recently completed her PhD from CSRD/ Jawaharlal Nehru University was also felicitated for the same. The programme was conducted by Bijay Thapa.
Freshers Meet organised by Gorkha Students, JNU
Freshers Meet organised by Gorkha Students, JNU

Gorkha Students, JNU
 
Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions