Showing posts with label Mamata Banerjee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mamata Banerjee. Show all posts

Darjeeling Crisis - Who should be blamed?

10:45 AM

PERSPECTIVE: Who should be blamed?

Writes: Norbu Bhutia Angu

Blaming CM Smt. Mamta Bannerjee is fair for the unrest in the hills but it's unfair to over look the contribution of our leaders towards the cause too? I am not affiliated to any party in the hills. As all Gorkhas even I want a separate state and a identity. But at what cost???? Absolutely not by stepping over the corpses of my people and over the corpses of our security personnel who are one of us just performing their duties.

It's understandable why people are resonating. But the actual reason for resonating is within our family. Why did we accepted different boards? How did TMC formed a board in Mirik? Why there were independent candidates contesting elections. All this would not have taken place if the ruling party and the leaders were committed towards the cause which they have once stood for and stayed committed towards it.

I think it's foolish and absurd just to blame Mamta for all the unrest and commotion because at the end of the day deep beneath our heart we know that we have been betrayed by our own leaders whom we have trusted and entrusted with all devotion n support,for a dream that was never so far only if our leaders were committed. Our dream our aspirations our Gorkhaland.

Via TheDC

Dear Gorkhas, Please Beware of the Bengal State Machinery

1:13 PM

Writes Dushyant Chettri

A recent Facebook update by a dear friend from Calcutta got me thinking. I shall begin this article by quoting him. Mr. Ranabir Lahiri, for whose intellect I have a great deal of respect had this to say today as his status:

“The decision to hold the cabinet meeting in Darjeeling is power gone mad, arrogating to itself the right to hegemonize the spaces historically contested by the three major actors - the Chogyal of Sikkim, the Gorkhas of Nepal, and the British East India Company. Bengal and Bengalees had never been in the picture. The decision betrays an insensitive use of political authority, a poor mimicry of our colonial administration that used the hill stations [Darjeeling, Simla, Ooty] as summer capitals.
Didi's Darj policies are symptomatic of the average Bengali mindset about the hills, marked by a sense of entitlement and ownership over a landscape, without ever being a part of its history and geography. How can you lose something when you never had it! Honestly speaking, as I head straight north from Siliguri, within half an hour of my drive I distinctly perceive a change - the weather, the food, the features of men and women who pass by, and the language they speak.”
Drawing upon Ranabir Sir’s argument, I would like to add that this isn’t just an example of “power gone mad,” rather it is part of a very well though-out and much larger game-plan. What the Bengal Government is now attempting to do, in a way perhaps the CPIM too never dreamt, is an eventual colonization of the Darjeeling hills. As much as we would like to believe not, the CM is an extremely clever strategist, and all her decisions aren’t impulsive at all, but clearly motivated. Let me enlist a few examples here:

1) As mentioned in Mr. Lahiri’s status, the decision to hold a Cabinet Meeting in Darjeeling, something which has not happened since British times.

2) Attempting to impose the Bengali language, successfully resisted, on the predominantly Nepali-speaking populace here (even then the fact that it may be retained as fourth optional is worrisome!)

3) Very slyly pumping in money into various development boards and effectively fracturing the Gorkha identity along the lines of caste and ethnicity.

4) Creation of Kalimpong district and splitting of Jalpaiguri district into Cooch Behar district, in effect, actually re-distributing the Nepali speaking and other adivasi areas of the Dooars, rendering them a minority, and by extension, increasing and ensuring the dominance of the Bengali populace.

5) Most importantly, rendering the GTA completely ineffective and powerless. The recent audit that she has announced for the GTA funds is also part of the same game plan. By refusing to divest powers and give full constitutional autonomy to the GTA, she has already rendered it pretty much dysfunctional. The timing of the audit, too, is telling, as it is clearly designed to once and for all, nullify whatever little power rests with the GTA.

These signs, read together, present an extremely ominous future. The Bengal government is very slowly and very slyly putting the age-old colonial machinery into place, by creating gradual in-roads into Darjeeling and Dooars. Dooars has already fallen within that trap. Following the exact British modality of establishing colonial supremacy over predominantly tribal areas, the Bengal government is splitting places into separate administrative districts and re-shuffling of the populace.  In Darj, it is deploying the local people to achieve its cunning, nefarious design. Please be extremely careful, as none of this is a sudden, impulsive move! It is part of a much larger, much more nefarious attempt of eventual and complete colonization of Darjeeling by Bengal and shifting the control of power entirely to Calcutta.

Mirik, too, has unfortunately fallen within this trap. Choose anyone, GJMM or otherwise, but by giving an in-road to TMC, what people are actually doing is becoming pawns, chess pieces, within this larger game plan.

The CM has more or less control over the rest of Bengal, apart from the Darjeeling hills, and she is well aware that for the next ten years at least, nothing can dethrone her. The only place left to gain control over is the Darjeeling hills, a move for which she seems utterly and entirely desperate, as proven by her recurring visits.

Do not be fooled by her artificial empathy, do not be fooled by the Bhanu Jayanti celebrations (for which the posters where in Bengali!), read the ominous signs and think for yourselves! Unless Bengal’s larger game plan is understood and checked now, thirty years down the line, this will have serious repercussions and render your own Gorkhali people as mere puppets, or worse still, as minority in your own land!!!

Darjeeling local channels banned SELECTIVE PRECAUTION of the State administration

12:36 PM

The Darjeeling district administration has banned all local news channels in the hills from broadcasting news. Their logic is that sharing of news about tensions could lead to spread of violence in the region and we respect their sentiments.

However, it is the selective banning of only local channels that makes us wonder if the real purpose is for peace to prevail, or for voices of dissent to be curtailed?

While hill based channels are told not to broadcast, all channels based on KOLKATA are doing so and reporting whatever their version of truth is. This has lead to massive distortion of the events as well as caused unnecessary panic.

For instance, GJM called for 12 hour strike today, while some news channels based in Kolkata said FJM has called for indefinite strike. can you imagine the panic this has caused among the tourists and locals.

In absence of reliable local news sources people with malicious intent are spreading FAKE NEWS on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

What is happening in our region is selective blacking out of authentic local news sources, while Kolkata based news channels are allowed to report whatever they want to. This is unacceptable in a democracy.

We once again request the district administration to allow for local channels to broadcast news so that people are made aware of what is actually going on.

We once again request people to maintain peace and help and tourists.


Via TheDC

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)

Mamata responsible for Darjeeling unrest - Oppositions

2:30 AM

West Bengal Opposition reacts: Kashmir-like policy in Darjeeling, divisive politics, Mamata Banerjee in turf war

THE OPPOSITION came together on thursday, slamming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her alleged failure in controlling the violence in Darjeeling. Maintaining that just like in Kashmir, the problems of Darjeeling hills will not be solved with the use of Army or force, the CPM asked the state government to solve the sensitive issue with a cautious approach. “The situation in Darjeeling is concerning. The policy adopted by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is equivalent to the Centre’s policy regarding Kashmir. However, the problems of Darjeeling will not be solved by force. It requires discussion. Let peace prevail in the hills,” said CPM Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra in a statement.

Echoing him, CPM Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim said the situation in Darjeeling has turned worse due to Mamata’s “divisive politics”. “She intends to capture everything — be it a municipality, club or any other establishment. Instead of allowing the Gorkha Territorial Administration to work freely, she interfered in its functioning. She created development boards based on ethnic groups, which created further division among people of Darjeeling. She broke their unity and now the outcome is clear. It is a sensitive issue, and must be dealt with a human touch,” he added.

Salim asked the state government to make all necessary arrangements to help tourists stranded in Darjeeling to return to the plains. “We have seen how similar policies adopted by the Centre had jeopardised the situation in Kashmir and Manipur. This kind of policy will not work in Darjeeling hills. Deploying Army will only aggravate the situation. Banerjee must show her political will to solve the problem. But first protection must be provided to stranded tourists,” he said.

Slamming Mamata, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the CM should restrain herself from making “provocative comments”.

“Darjeeling hills has been turned into a place of showdown between Gurung and the chief minister. The persistent provocation of the chief minister has certainly aggravated the situation. Banerjee as usual did not recognise the verdict of the people and entangled herself in a turf war in the hills. I am concerned for the safety of the tourists. The CM should restrain herself from making any provocative comments,” said Chowdhury.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh also accused Mamata of escalating the situation. “Banerjee is herself responsible for this. If she can go to Delhi and organise protest against the central government, GJM too has the right to organise protests against the state government,” he said.

(Via:indianexpress)

Army deployed in Darjeeling, BJP demands peace Committee

2:21 AM
TMC

BJP demands peace committee to contain violence in Darjeeling

KOLKATA: The BJP today criticised the West Bengal government for failing to contain violence in the Darjeeling hills and demanded that a peace committee be formed to restore peace. "The TMC administration has completely failed to contain violence in the hills.

There was no shut down or violence in the hills for last three years. But, the TMC, which is trying to establish its own political hegemony in the hills, did everything to provoke violence and disturbance in the hills," BJP MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia told PTI.

Ahluwalia questioned the reason behind deployment of the Army when the entire state cabinet is present in the hills. "When the entire state cabinet including the Chief Minister is present in the hills, why did the administration failed to control the situation? What was the reason behind deployment of Army? We will talk to the Union Home Ministry regarding the situation.

We demand that a peace committee be formed immediately in the hills with GJM and state administration to restore peace and normalcy," he said. Two columns of Army were deployed in the restive Darjeeling town today after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters clashed with the police, damaged police vehicles and set some of them ablaze while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a cabinet meeting there.

(via:indianexpress)

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 ]

Bengali optional in hills: CM Mamata Banerjee

4:48 PM

-BIRESWAR BANERJEE

Mirik, June 5: Mamata Banerjee today said Bengali would not be compulsory at schools in the Darjeeling hills and in certain areas of the Dooars and the Terai.

The chief minister's about-turn is perceived to be aimed at meeting the twin objectives of soothing the frayed nerves in the hills and retaining the advantage Trinamul had made in recent civic polls.

Despite Mamata's announcement, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said it would continue to hold processions across the hills till June 8 on the language issue.

Mamata made the announcement at a government programme here amidst an agitation launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the language issue.

"Some persons here are playing politics and trying to divide people. The GTA elections are ahead and as they lack a proper issue, they are spreading rumours. We want to make it clear that Bengali will not be a compulsory language in the hills and in some parts of the Terai and the Dooars," Mamata said.

After the state government had made public its plan to make learning of Bengali compulsory at schools, Mamata and education minister Partha Chatterjee said the decision would be applicable to the hills as well.

However, the chief minister made a U-turn in Mirik today and said Bengali would be the fourth language in the hills.

"If Bengalis can read Nepali, then why can't Gorkhas read Bengali? We want to keep Bengali as an optional language as students in the hills need to know Bengali. In due course, when they will move out to other parts of the state for jobs, this learning will help them. It will be an optional language here," she said.

The change in the decision, observers said, was necessary to ensure that the hills did not shun Trinamul that had just won Mirik municipality and some seats in three other hill civic bodies.

"The decision had led to protests in the hills and the Morcha that was a bit upset after losing Mirik to Trinamul got a pertinent issue to revive its support base. After today's announcement, the situation has again become favourable for Trinamul," an observer said.

Mamata also said the state government would audit the spending of funds by the GTA that is administered by the Morcha.

(Via:Telegraph )

WILL NOT SPARE GTA IF GOVERNMENT’S MONEY FOUND MISUSED - MAMATA

9:42 AM

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) Coming down heavily on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration – the development body in the north West Bengal hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a special audit to check how it has utilised the government aids and a punishment ifany discrepancies are found.

“I have decided to run a special audit on the money that GTA received from the government. If GTA has stolen money, I will not spare them. This is common man’s money,” Banerjee said at a public meeting in Darjeeling district’s Mirik.

“I have instructed the Finance Department to run a special audit on how the money has been used. If they have done a good job, we will reward them. But if we find some discrepancy, we will not spare even the secretary of the GTA,” she said.

The Trinamool Congress supremo also attacked the semi-autonomous administrative body on the issue of the state government’s new three language policy.

Claiming that she has never said Bengali would be compulsory in the hills, Banerjee alleged that GTA is spreading “such lies” to create a divide between Bengalis and Nepalis of the region, as they do not have any other political issues.

“I have never said that Bengali would be compulsory in the hills. This is 100 percent lie. I haven’t seen such a liar in my life who always resort to the politics of lies. (Gorkha National Liberation Front chief Subash) Ghising was not like this,” Banerjee said in a veiled reference to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung.

The Ghising-led GNLF was in the forefront of the movement for a separate Gorkhaland since the 1980s, but lost its dominance to the GJM in 2008.

On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM won the first GTA elections held in 2012, and is running the board since then.

“The GTA election is approaching and they have no other issues. That is why they are resorting to this sort of politics. They are trying to divide the Bengalis and Nepalis here,” she claimed.

Pointing out that the state government has never objected to the students of the hills learning Nepali, Banerjee said it is important to know a little bit of Bengali to get job elsewhere in the state.

“We have never asked the students of the hills to stop learning Nepali, Hindi or English. It is always better to know as many languages as possible. But if we do not keep Bengali as an option, how would you people come to the other places in Bengal and work there?” she asked.

“In a Nepali-speaking region, knowing Nepali is important but in Bengal, knowing a little bit of Bengali is also important,” she added.

[Via: IANS]

Lights-off protest call in Mirik against bengali language imposition

5:26 PM
TMC

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today asked the residents of Mirik to switch off lights for two hours tomorrow evening when Mamata Banerjee will attend a government programme there.

The Morcha also appealed to students and people to wear black badges during the chief minister's tour of the hills as part of an intensified agitation against the state government's decision to make Bengali learning compulsory at schools.

Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, said: "We call upon people to switch off lights for two hours from 6pm tomorrow to protest against the imposition of Bengali language on the hill people. We will think that those who don't switch off lights are against Gorkhaland and our language."

The chief minister is slated to attend a government programme at Mirik from 5pm tomorrow.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said the blackout would be restricted to Mirik.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung, along with senior leaders, took part in a march from Ghoom railway station to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, a distance of about 8km, today to protest against the language issue.

Mamata will be in Darjeeling for four days from Tuesday. The state cabinet is scheduled to meet in Darjeeling on Thursday.

The Morcha has lined up marches across the hills during the chief minister's tour of the region.

"We request students from Class V onwards to wear black badges at schools till June 9. We also appeal to general public to move around with black badges," said Giri.

Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said permission would be denied to the Morcha to take out processions in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8 "since there will be the movement of a lot of ministers for a government event".

"They could hold processions at other places," added Javalgi.

The police chief said: "We had given permission to hold rallies today. We are giving them (Morcha) permission to organise marches tomorrow (even in Mirik) on condition that they should be peaceful and democratic and should not disturb any government programmes."

Giri said the marches would be peaceful and the Morcha would seek permission for the same in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8.

He asked people to attend a rally from Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling on June 6 in traditional attire. Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan is about 1km from Richmond Hill where Mamata would be staying during her visit.

In Siliguri, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijavargiya said the state government should have held talks with those who had reservation about the language decision.

"Instead, the state decided to impose a language on the hill people which led to the agitation. Their sentiments have been hurt. The state has made an undesirable move in a democratic system," he said.

Minister Gautam Deb today said in Siliguri: "People are not supporting the Morcha's agitation. Trinamul supporters are relentlessly working to build opinion against the movement. Bimal Gurung is fast losing his support base in the hills and is trying to retain it by duping people."

He said Mamata would reach Bagdogra tomorrow and head for Mirik.(TT)

BJP Extends Support to GJM Agitation Against Making Bengali Language Mandatory

2:44 PM

LANGUAGE ISSUE: BJP Extends Support to GJM Agitation Against Making Bengali Language Mandatory

All India General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party Shri. Kailash Vijayvargiya has spoken out against the Mamata governments proposal to make Bengali language compulsory in all the schools across Bengal. In turn he stated BJPs support to the ongoing agitation against the proposed imposition being led by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

Speaking to the press, Mr. Vijayvargiya said, "ours is a diverse country and all communities have their respective language, and culture... hence it is the duty of any government to consult with every community before proposing any such measure, but instead of any consultation Mamata is trying to forcefully implement mandatory teaching of Bengali language in the schools... this won't work..."

He added, "because of Mamata's highhanded approach Morcha has been forced to start protest in the hills... India is a democratic nation and we should respect people's mandate and democracy... but in Bengal democracy is dead... here only dictatorship rules..."

LANGUAGE ISSUE: Gurung ups ante in language fight

8:13 PM

Write: Vivek Chhetri and Bireswar Banerjee

Bimal Gurung yesterday said there would be repercussions if the administration indulged in excesses during the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's processions next week and asked tour operators to evacuate visitors from the hills in 30 minutes.

The Morcha had announced processions with black flags from June 4 to 9 to protest the state government's move to make Bengali compulsory at schools.

The marches will synchronise with Mamata Banerjee's visit to the hills next week.

Addressing Morcha supporters at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling, Gurung said: "The hills could be on fire if the district administration indulges in excesses during our protest marches. In such a situation, I would tell those involved in the tourism industry to be prepared to evacuate visitors within half-an-hour. The situation could be such that nothing could be spared."

Gurung said the high tourist footfall in Darjeeling at present was because the Morcha was maintaining peace. "The town is teeming with tourists and this is not because of Mamata Banerjee. The tourists have come here because we have maintained peace. I have not done anything different but it is Mamata Banerjee who is now trying to create unrest by trampling on our sentiment. If any untoward incident takes place, Mamata Banerjee should be solely held responsible."

He went on: "There is a limit to everything. We are not against Bengali language or Bengali community. What we are saying is 'Please do not impose a language on us'. Let it be a choice for those who want to study the language."

The Morcha had called the closure of educational institutions in the hills yesterday and today on the language issue. Most schools could not conduct classes as hardly any student turned up.

The chief minister is scheduled to visit Mirik on June 5 and hold a cabinet meeting at Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling on June 8. The Morcha has announced the protest marches with black flags across the hills during Mamata's tour of the hills.

Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said police had given the party permission to hold a march from Ghoom to Darjeeling, a distance of 8km, on Sunday. Gurung said even if permission was not granted for the processions for subsequent days, "we will go ahead".

Gurung said the ongoing movement on the language issue could continue till the Gorkhaland demand was fulfiled.

"They have started slapping cases even on academicians and teachers who came here not to support the Morcha but their community. This movement will go on till we achieve Gorkhaland and in days to come, GTA Sabha members might have to resign," said the Morcha president.

"They might be thinking that if we are jailed, everything will be fine. I will prefer jungles to jail. We still believe in democratic protest though we are prepared to face anything."

State education minister Partha Chatterjee yesterday iterated in Siliguri that the three-language policy would be implemented across the state.

"The chief minister has categorically said those who are studying Nepali or Hindi as the first language can carry on with it. We have never said Bengali has to be the first language. We have only said of three languages, Bengali should be one. This is followed even by the CBSE," he said.

The minister alleged that the Morcha was resorting to agitation after realising that its support base was dwindling in the hills. "They should speak about development and other good things for the hills," said Chatterjee.

[Via: Telegraph]

Hill TMC says no to compulsory Bengali

2:36 PM
TMC

Hill TMC says no to compulsory Bengali: To speak to Mamata Banerjee in Mirik

With the opposition to implementing Bengali being spearheaded by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gaining momentum, the TMC (hills) yesterday said it had spoken to party high commands in Kolkata to not make it mandatory in the hill schools.

The hill TMC leaders finding themselves in an awkward situation given the sentiments attached with the issue organized a public meeting in Darjeeling town today to clear the air. ““Yesterday, I spoke with Partha Chatterjee, the state education minister to know more about the issue and also apprise him about our stand. I told him that the state government should allow the present system under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to continue. Bengali as an option is okay but we will not accept if it is made compulsory,” asserted Rajen Mukhia, the hill TMC president, today.

The local TMC leaders did not find anything amiss to have Bengali as an optional language in the hill schools saying it was important to learn new languages. “We (TMC hill leaders) are also sons of the soil and Gorkhas. Knowing Bengali will stand us in good stead as the language is most spoken in the plains where we often visit. However, we too will not accept if Bengali is made compulsory on us,” reiterated Mukhia.

Schools and colleges remained closed today in the hills. The GJM has asked educational institutions to close for two days on June 1 and 2, in protest against the alleged imposition of Bengali in the region’s schools.

Mukhia though alleged GJM was politicizing the issue by spreading false rumours. “GJM is playing with the sentiments of the people for political gains. No government orders or circulars have been issued so far. I want to tell the heads of schools here that the rumours are false. We will take up the matter with chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Mirik on June 5,” the hill TMC president said.

When asked to comment on the GJM rallies from June 4 to 8 during the Bengal CM’s visit to the region, the hill TMC president said, “We have come to know that they (GJM) will show black flags to the chief minister. We want to say here that she (Banerjee) besides being the state’s CM is also our leader. If she is shown black flags than we too will reciprocate it on their party president (Bimal Gurung ) during his programs,” Mukhia retorted.

[Via: EOCI]

Darjeeling MP SS Alhuwalia Writes to PM Modi against Mamata's repressive and arbitrary order

11:45 AM

BREAKING: Darjeeling MP SS Alhuwalia Writes to PM Modi;  Seeks immediate intervention to end the "draconian emergency-like measures undertaken by the Mamata Banerjee government"

Taking strong exception to the filing of FIRs against Sahita Academy Award winners and heads of reputed schools in the hills by the police, Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia has written to PM Narendra Modi asking for his "immediate intervention to ensure that people of Darjeeling as well as North Bengal are saved from the draconian emergency-like measures undertaken by the Mamata Banerjee government." 

Here is the text of the letter released to the Press by his office...

"Respected Modi ji,

I am writing this letter to you in great anguish and in great urgency from Oslo, as I feel that your intervention is immediately needed to ensure that people of Darjeeling as well as North Bengal are saved from the draconian emergency-like measures undertaken by the Mamata Banerjee government to stifle the voices of dissent being raised in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars against her repressive and arbitrary order q.

On 16th of May, 2017 West Bengal Chief Minister Miss Mamata Banerjee announced that Bengal would adopt a three-language policy and that Bengali language will be made compulsory in schools. Miss Mamata Banerjee had posted on her Facebook profile that “If the student chooses Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Gurmukhi, Nepali, Alchiki as a first language, he/she may opt for two other languages of their choice. One of the three languages would have to be Bengali. The two other choices are completely dependent on what the student chooses.”

In the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars most students opt for Nepali/Hindi as their first language and English as the second language and those inclined to learn more languages opt for Hindi/Nepali as their third language. Students who want to learn Bengali are allowed to do so with no hindrance whatsoever and every year almost all the schools across the hills have students who complete their education with Bengali as their second language. However, making Bengali compulsory would mean that these students would not have any choice on which language they want to learn and their right to choose - a fundamental right under our constitution - is taken away from them.

Imposition of Bengali language even as a third BUT compulsory language will mean they have to forgo learning either English ( a language necessary for employment opportunities), Hindi (Our National Language, one that binds all people of this Nation together, as well as being a language for opportunities throughout India) or their respective mother tongues ( the language that binds people, especially those from the minorities, with their identity, history and culture, and without which, they are put on the path of losing their link with their heritage) , sacrificing it in favour of the Bengali language.

Following this, the linguistic minority communities within Bengal started to voice in their dissent and questioned the intent of such a move. Among the linguistic minority communities who live in Bengal, the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is home to one of the most linguistically diverse regions in India. Among three major non-Bengali communities who live in these regions, Nepali, which is one of the recognized National Languages of India under the VIIIth schedule of our Constitution, is the lingua franca of the Gorkha community; Kamtapuri is the mother tongue for Rajbanshi community; and, the Adivasi community in my region speak Hindi, Kurukh, Sadri, Santhali, Nepali, and other languages/dialects.

On the 30th of May, 2016 the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is a valued alliance partner of National Democratic Alliance, held a “Samiksha Sabha” to discuss the implications of compulsory imposition of Bengali language. This meeting was attended by eminent personalities from the Nepali academia, including Shahitya Academy Award winners Shri Jiwan Namdung and Shri Prem Pradhan, representatives of top schools in the hills, like St Paul's School, St Joseph's School (North Point), St. Roberts School, Vidhya Vikash Academy, among others, along with Shri Bimal Gurung, President of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. The meeting concluded with these eminent personalities opposing the compulsory imposition of Bengali language among the linguistic minority communities, and they agreed to register their protest by calling for a two day voluntary closure of educational institutions (on 1st and 2nd of June) in the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars region.

The bandh, I have been informed has been completely voluntary, peaceful, and thus successful today.

In retaliation, the Darjeeling District Administration at the behest of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has, however, filed an FIR against all the eminent people who had attended the meeting on May 30th. The FIR registered by the Inspector-in-Charge of Sadar Police Station, Darjeeling, Shri Saumyajit Roy, alleges these good people of “conspiring against the state.”, and carries the corresponding. relevant sections of the IPC.

My constituents fear that filing FIRs against these eminent personalities is just the beginning of an oppressive, authoritarian, despotic, and tyrannical regime unleashed by the Bengal government through the district administration to stifle the voices of concern and love for one’s mother tongue.

Sir, given all of the above, I humbly request you to kindly intervene and help to ensure that the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of our nation, which are guaranteed to people from every part of West Bengal, along with the rest of the nation, are not trampled upon by Mamata Banerjee led government in West Bengal.

I urge you to help my constituents in raising their voice against such draconian and dictatorial measures adopted by the Bengal government by extending your solidarity and support to them.

I look forward to your kind support and earliest intervention.

Thanking You,
With Warm Regards,
SS Ahluwalia"

Bengali is not our language"

1:51 PM

PERSPECTIVE: "Bengali is not our language"

Writes: Wangchuk Bhutia

On 16th  May,  West  Bengal Chief  Minister  Mamata  Banerjee announced that Bengali will  be made a compulsory subject in all schools across  the state  as  part  of  a  three-language  formula. “Students  have  the  freedom to take  any  language  of  their  choice  as  a  first  language, second or third language. One  of  the  three  languages would have to be Bengali,” she said. 

This  decision,  according  to  the  State  Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, has  been  prompted  following  feedback  that  Bengali  was  not  being  offered  as  an  option  in  many  schools.

Firstly, Bengali is  being  offered  as  an  option  in  most  schools.  In  the state’s  capital  city  of  Kolkata,  South  City  International  School  offers  its  students  foreign  languages  such  as  French  and  Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese)  among  other  regional  languages  as  the  third  language  to  be  taken  up.  The  students  of  Delhi  Public  School  Ruby  Park  can  choose  between  French  and  German  and  Bengali  just  as  well,  as  their  third  language.  Similarly,  multitudes  of  English  medium  schools  speckled  across  the  capital  provide  their  students  with  such  opportunities  keeping  in  view  the  broader  range  of  avenues  that  such  a  learning  makes  accessible.  So  yes, Bengali IS being offered  as  an  option  in  most  schools  unlike  the  Education  Minister’s  contrasting  belief.

The  fact  is  simply  this:  students  and  parents  alike  opt  for  a  foreign  language  as  the  third  language,  with  regards  to  the  fast  paced  globalization  that  we  are  all witnesses  to,  while  English  as  the  official  language,  being  the  first  language  in  English  medium  schools  and  Hindi,  as  the  national  language,  logically  taking  place  of  the  second  language.

Secondly,  freedom  is  realizing  you  have  a  choice.  The  Chief  Minister’s  perplexing  statement  does  nothing  but  reflect  the  paradox  that  is  the  Indian  administration  and  such  a  mandate  as  has  been  made  only  mocks  the  very  framework  of  the  Constitution  of  India.  In  thinking  that  she  is  bequeathing  freedom,  the  Chief  Minister  is  only  actually  eliminating  it.

Thirdly,  it  is  either  obnoxious  hypocrisy  or  downright  stupidity  on  the  Chief  Minister’s  behalf  that  shines  through  as  she  further  added – “Bengal  respects  all  languages  and  languages  of  all  states.  We  must  respect  every  mother  tongue  and  also  give  every  regional  language  its  importance”.  She  continued  with  her  distorted  idea  of  freedom  when  she  said – “We  believe  in  the  freedom  of  choice”,  and  hence,  thereafter  declared  the  studying  of  Bengali  in  all  schools  throughout  the  State  as  mandatory.

Fourthly,  out  of  an  approximate  1700  English  medium  schools  in  the  State,  a  mere  approximate  number  of  140  such  institutions  exist  in  the  northern  most  part  of  West  Bengal,  in  the  Darjeeling  and  Kalimpong  Districts.  The  demographic  transition  beginning  from  Siliguri  (the  foothills  of  these  Districts)  and  upwards  itself  with  respect  to  the  rest  of  West  Bengal  is  tremendous  for  this  said  transition  stands  out  like  oil  in  water. 

Limiting  myself  to  the  boundaries  of  the  said  subject  that  this  article  wishes  to tackle,  I  shall  unsee  other  agendas  and  diving  right  in,  highlight  the  one  important  fact:  Bengali  is  NOT  the  regional  language  in  the  hills.  The  people  here  read,  speak  and  write  a  variety  of  ethnic  languages  and  dialects  of  which  Bengali is  none  while  Nepali/Gorkhali  is  the  official  as  well  as  primary  language  in  use.  With  an  estimated  3  million  speakers  of  the  language,  Nepali/Gorkhali  was  incorporated  into  the  Eighth  Schedule  as  an  official  language  in  the  year  1992. 

The  students  here  learn  English  as  first  language  and  can  choose  between  Hindi,  Nepali/Gorkhali  and  Bengali  as  second  and  third  languages.  Yes.  Bengali  is  offered  as  an  option  just  as  Hindi  and  Nepali/Gorkhali  are.  And  no.  Foreign  languages  are  not  taught  or  offered  as  an  option  in  the  schools  here. 

Fifthly,  to  a  certain  Mr.  Sanyal,  whose  views  reek  of  linguistic  imperialism,  you  cannot  force  a  Bengali  to  study  Punjabi  and  you  cannot  force  a  Punjabi  to  study  Marathi  and  you  cannot  force  a  Marathi  to  study  Gujarati  and  you  cannot  force  a  Gujarati  to  study  Tamil  and  you  cannot  force  a  Tamil  to  study  Nepali/Gorkhali  and  you  cannot  force  a  Gorkhali  to  study  Bengali. 

Sixthly,  if  this  proposal  were  to  come  to  pass  and  the  students  in  proposed  Gorkhaland  were  to  sacrifice  their  regional  language  of  Nepali/Gorkhali  to  study  Bengali,  two  drastic  things  will  happen.  Two  murders.  One  of  Nepali/Gorkhali  literature,  and  the  other,  of  the  future  of  Gorkhaland.  The  very  foundation  on  which  the  political  legitimacy  of  the  demand  for  Gorkhaland  is  based  will  have  been  swept  away.   

Seventhly,  whether  this  proposal  by  the  West  Bengal  Government  derives  itself  from  political  strategies  or  from  blatant  negligence  of  its  people  or  purely  from  folly,  one  largely  overlooked  sight  becomes  crystal  clear  -  The  requirement  for  a  separate  state.  The  unjust  repercussions  that  the  Darjeeling  and  Kalimpong  Hills  have  to  suffer  first  and  then  tolerate  and  bear,  only  from  the  State  decisions  that  have  nothing  pertaining to  them  are  an  honest  and  straightforward  testimony  to  the  Gorkhaland  movement.  My  name  is  Wangchuk  Bhutia  and  I  am  not  a  Bengali.

And  lastly, 
"साहित्यमा सम्राट पनि नाङ्गो हुन्छ।"
“Even the Emperor is naked in Literature.”

Via TheDC

Santa Chettri backs Three Language Policy

9:10 AM
TMC

Former GNLF leader and ex- MLA Mrs Shanta Chettri, who has been nominated as Trinamul Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, stood by the state government's decision to introduce Bengali language in schools and said that there is no harm in Learning a new language.

Moreover, according to the minister, Arup Biswas, Bengali will be added to the syllabus in schools as an 'optional' subject, which clearly means that only ‘interested' students need to take up the subject.

The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), on the other hand, has taken the ‘language issue' in a different perspective, and has been politicizing this matter for no appropriate reason, Mrs Shanta Chettri said.

"GJMM has totally politicalised this topic and created divisions among us. There is no imposition by the government; the gazette notification is not yet out but they have already created fuss about it everywhere," Mrs Chettri said.

As the students reach class V, they are given the liberty to choose any language out of Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, Dzhonka, or now Bengali, Mrs Chettri, who visited Kalimpong today to meet party cadres, said. She explained that Bengali was just a matter of third Language and it's up to the students to choose what to study.

After her nomination for the Rajya Sabha, she has been visiting every nook and corner of the Hills to assess the problems of the civilians.

Talking to reporters here, she assured to work for the people with utmost responsibility and said she will keep herself busy for some time by visiting various places so that she can identify people's problems and keep her word in the Raiya Sabha later.

‘The motive of my visit is mainly to meet people who are still hindered from getting their facilities and benefits. In these five years, GTA has received crores of rupees from the Centre and the state government but is still failing to do its job right. Be it in the towns or outskirts, they have not done anywork anywhere' said Mrs Chettri.
[Via: The Statesman]

Bengali Compulsory in Schools - No backing out of 3-language norm, says Mamata

6:42 PM

No backing out of 3-language norm, says Mamata

The Mamata Banerjee government isn't going to back out on making Bengali compulsory in schools. On Saturday, the chief minister insisted that students with English or Hindi and even Nepali (for Hills students) as first language should have Bengali as a compulsory paper. Banerjee, however, didn't specify from which class the government wants to introduce the three-language policy.

"Those with Hindi or Nepali as first language should continue to do so. But won't they study Bengali as a third language?" the CM said at Nabanna on Saturday, when her government completed one year in her second innings of governance beginning May 2016. Sensing that the proposal may fuel the identity debate in the Hills, she said: "I won't impose anything if children in the Hills do not study Bengali, but won't they learn the language of a place where we stay together?"

The CM's announcement comes three days ahead of her meeting with private school representatives on Wednesday, in which she is likely to broach the issue.
"Bengal respects all languages and languages of all states. Our three-language formula shows how we really do... India is a vast country and the strength of our nation is unity in diversity. We must respect every mother tongue and also give every regional language its importance. We believe in the freedom of choice and the three language formula," Banerjee had posted on Facebook a few days ago.

"Students have the freedom to take any language of their choice as a first, second or third language. If the student choses Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Gurmukhi, Nepali, Alchiki as first language, he/she may opt for two other languages of their choice. One of the three languages has to be Bengali," she added.

Banerjee chose to celebrate her government's anniversary with a massive blood donation programme organised by government employees. "As a humble contribution on the occasion of the Trinamool government's six-year completion, government employees have come forward meet the shortage of blood in blood banks. We have already collected 16,000 units of blood from the police force, who have conducted a blood donation programme, and another 50,000 units of blood will be donated from our government staff very soon. Blood saves life and blood is life. My appeal is not to shed blood by beating up the police, but help to donate blood," the chief minister said, indirectly hinting at the Left's Nabanna march on Monday and the BJP's Lalbazar march on Thursday.

Over 90 policemen were injured in the two marches.
Banerjee ferretted out a long list of statistics to highlight the government's achievements over the last six years, saying the state's GDP had more than doubled in the last six years since the Trinamool assumed power. The CM flagged off 53 air-conditioned ambulances given by MPs to serve people, particularly in rural areas.
[Via: TNN]

Why has the demand for Gorkhaland returned to Darjeeling?

9:52 AM
Why has the demand for Gorkhaland returned to Darjeeling?

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal

The demand for a seperate Gorkha state is an issue that since its first origins in the 1970s has dictated politics in the hills.

September 28, 2016  In 2009, Mamata Banerjee’s proximity to Bimal Gurung was a cause of great concern for the Left. At the time, Gurung-led GJM had perfected the bandh-boycott movement in their Gorkhaland movement – indefinite shutdowns, boycotting government taxes, telephone, electricity bills, blocking national highways to paralysing panchayats. As a 12-hour bandh returns to Darjeeling, it is apparent that while a lot has changed since 2009 – some things haven’t.

Prime among them is the sheer fervor of the Gorkhaland demand – a fervor that Bimal Gurung, now on the back foot hopes will provide him enough ammo to combat friend-turned-foe Mamata Banerjee as she continues her tactic of dividing the hills, combining development with the creation of different boards. Meanwhile, Darjeeling waits, anxiously.
demand for Gorkhaland
Demand for Gorkhaland a file Photo

Bimal Gurung and Gorkhaland, today
On the face of it, the 2016 Assembly elections were a victory for Bimal Gurung. But the party’s performance – particularly in Kalimpong, which had historically been Gurung’s political backyard – have left the party worried. Even more worrying is the string of senior party leaders fleeing ship and joining the Trinamool Congress, including GTA chairman Pradeep Pradhan, joining the TMC. Unsurprisingly Gurung relaunched the Gorkhaland demand, while simultaneously filing a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the West Bengal government’s refusal to transfer administrative power and various subjects to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, in spite of a tripartite agreement that was reached within the state and union governments in 2011.

Gurung’s dominance of politics in Darjeeling began in 2007, with him emerging as the voice for the demand for a seperate Gorkha state, the issue that since its first origins in the 1970s has dictated politics in the hills. The movement had seen its most violent phase between 1986-88 when Subhash Ghishing’s Gorkha National Liberation Front lead the movement, until his lieutenant Gurung began his own party with the GJM in 2007. Journalist and long time observer Romit Bagchi, in his book, “Gorkhaland: Crisis of Statehood” points out that the “singular quality” that allowed Gurung to replace Ghising’s leadership was “his invincible loyalty to the paramount cause of the community” – the demand for statehood. Writing in 2009, Bagchi predicts that “people would not accept a mellowed Bimal Gurung who speaks the voice of reason and restraint”.

His opposition believes that Gurung’s popularity has been waning, with many believing that he fell into the very trap of “reason and restraint” while joining hands with the Trinamool. Now, Gurung knows that he’s cornered by Trinamool Congress – who has begun a tactic of ‘divide and rule’ – that has left him virtually alone. His decision to relaunch the Gorkhaland protest – with bandhs and boycoots – is not just a case of ensuring political relevance, but also a return to the form of politics that he is most familiar with.

Mamata Banerjee’s tactics
Meanwhile Mamata Banerjee’s politics, of divide-and-rule combined with the unwavering rhetoric of development (which the opposition alleges is just that, rhetoric) has allowed her to make inroads into the hills. On October 2009, Mamata Banerjee – the then rail minister – flagged off the long awaited New Jalpaiguri-Digha Weekly Express and said that the railway link between Darjeeling hills and the sea would usher in a “new era” with “enormous possibilities” and “fresh employment opportunities”. In the past six years, none of this has changed. In her last speech in Kalimpong, Banerjee announced the government’s decision to accord Kalimpong seperate district status, a longstanding demand of the area while once again launching into a speech laden with the rhetoric of development. A slew of new announcements and projects, along with the customary call for “peace” – Banerjee’s politics seems unchanged.

But in the run up to the 2016 elections, Banerjee started announcing the creation of development boards for different communities living in Darjeeling – the Lepcha Development Board and the Tamang Development Board. This apart from the GTA which is responsible for governing the whole of Darjeeling district. While the Gorkhas remain the dominant community here, the Lepchas, Limpus, Tamangs, Bhutias, Rais, Dukpas, Sherpas, and Tibetans also form a sizeable population. In the speech at Kalimpong, Banerjee announced, “More boards will be announced”

Via indianexpress

BOOMERANG: It wasn’t support for GJM… It was anger against TMC that made the strike a success

8:49 AM
Writes: Upendra for TheDC

The strike in Darjeeling, held two days ago has been termed ‘a success’ by GJM, while TMC has called it an ‘absolute failure.’ What is funny is that almost all the Bengal based news media, other than the ones based in North Bengal, have toed the official line and reported that the strike was ‘unsuccessful.’ Surprised readers who were in Darjeeling watching the events unfold on the ground, were shocked to note how Bengali news channels were saying the vehicles are running smoothly, shops are open and life is going on as normal. A few of them even wrote to us, complaining about how Bengali channels were distorting the facts.

To be honest we have seen all of this happen over and over again. From 1986 to 2016, newspapers and media in Bengal have always been biased against the Gorkhaland issue. This is why TheDC was formed in November of 2013 to provide factual news from the hills, without any embellishments, addendums or modifications. Because we had come to realize that what is happening on the ground in Darjeeling, is not getting reported in the media, where as modified news, often misleading were being peddled as the truth.

Here is an example, “WILL GUNS BOOM IN BENGAL'S HILLS?” reads the headline from Aug 2013 when the Gorkhaland agitation was at its peak , in Times of India [Details: http://bit.ly/1qNAMAa]. If you read the article, you will see how they paint a picture of Darjeeling almost getting ready for an Armageddon, without any substance to prove their assertions, or use of named sources, they paint a picture of armed revolution about to unfold in Darjeeling hills. While most of the people in Darjeeling may scoff at the reporting, those from elsewhere in India who are unaware of the ground realities will naturally assume it’s the truth. This is how media in Bengal has manipulated the Gorkhaland agitation to paint a picture of our demand being that of ‘separatism from India, being funded by Nepal, Pakistan and China’ [Details: http://bit.ly/2cPcTKY].

So TMC claimed the strike was not successful on the 28th, and yesterday they took out a ‘Thank You’ rally to thank the people in the hills for opposing the ‘bandh.’ While hill people may have found it delusional, it serves a purpose. These rallies and events are not meant to thank the hill people, they are done to let Mamata and rest of Bengal know, whatever was reported in Kolkata based media on the 28th was true, and that the strikes were indeed unsuccessful.

But even the TMC leaders know in the hearts of their hearts that the hill people overwhelmingly supported the strike, and contrary to popular belief that it was done out of fear of the GJM, I believe it was done to let Mamata and Bengal know their diktats were not welcome in the hills.

In an unprecedented move, the Bengal government went all out to thwart the proposed strike. They imposed draconian diktats - like circulars were issued requiring every government servant to attend their office, failing which they will be show caused and anyone missing work due to strike would have 3 days pay cut. They required schools and colleges to remain open, threatened business, restaurants, hotels and taxis of cancellation of licenses and permits. In Mungpoo, TMC cadres did extensive miking telling the cinchona workers that if they don’t show up for work, they may lose their jobs in the near future. Such threats were issued all over the Darjeeling hills.

As if that was not enough, numerous platoons of Central Reserve forces and state police were brought down to ensure ‘law and order’ in the hills, and to top it all Bengal government sent 3 Ministers to monitor the strike and to ensure that the Bandh is not imposed.

In doing so they must have assumed that people do actually want to side with Bengal, but are not doing so due to fear of GJM. However, that is where Bengal overplayed their hand. They underestimated the ‘GORKHA’ factor.

We – the Gorkhas are a very simple group of people, if we love someone we will willingly die for them, but when someone tries to impose their will upon us, we tend to take a stand against it, no matter whatever are the consequences.

Despite 3 ministers, 10 development boards, entire district administration, massive deployment of security forces, entire TMC cadres from the hills + hired goons from the plains being present, fact remains that they couldn't keep Darjeeling hills open.

Ministers were seen banging on the doors and shutters of shut down shops forcing them to open... on the 28th, TMC completely lost the plot. While GJM announced the strike, they didn't impose it... whereas Bengal government used district administration and held meetings with hoteliers, travel agents, drivers associations, and shop keepers requiring them to keep their businesses open, but despite all their threats and cajoling when all their efforts failed and people supported the strike, they started to bang on the doors and shutters demanding opening of the businesses... Yet, they didn’t succeed.

Nothing is more telling than the picture shared below. Its from Kalimpong... generally this place is so crowded that there is not even enough room to stand... and on the 28th, not just the shops were closed, even the people chose not come out of their homes.

Without any prejudice, I feel that it was very unbecoming of the Ministers to go around forcing people to open their shops. It’s one thing to assure people of law and order helping them if required to keep their businesses open, but quite another to go around asking people to open shops, not with police but with party workers. The lines between a Minister of the Govt of Bengal and TMC party cadre was completely blurred in the hills on the 28th, and I am confident that the Hon’ble Ministers acted as party cadres instead of Government servants that day.

In bringing down a large contingent of security forces, in requiring schools to remain open, in banging on the doors and shutters of businesses and demanding that they remain open, Trinmool Congress and by extension the Bengal government were jeopardizing the lives of the people in the hills.

What if major clashes had broken out between bandh supporters and those opposing the bandh right at the time schools got off? Had school going children been caught in the cross-fire and injured, who would have been responsible? If shops and businesses were burned down and vandalized, would the Bengal government have compensated? If violence broke out, who would have been responsible?

In order to prove their might, the Bengal government crossed that sacred line which makes every government responsible for the safety, security and well-being of its citizens, and that is what boomeranged on them. The hill people decided to rebel and shut down their shops, businesses, vehicles and hotels.

Had TMC been a little more pragmatic, they could have let the bandh happen, as that would have put the hill people against GJM. People would have wanted to know, why they should shut down to justify GTA funds misuse allegations. But TMC being what it is, they took the bait and issued draconian orders.

The draconian measures undertaken by TMC party using West Bengal government administrative mechanisms to thwart the strike on September 28th, 2016 was seen as a trailer of how dictatorial it is going to get for Darjeeling and its people, if we choose not to adhere to their diktat. With less than 15% support in the hills, today TMC is already going dictatorial, imagine what will happen if their support reaches 20% or 30%?

This high handedness by TMC sent a direct message to the hill people, toe our line or we will make you do so.

Till TMC overdrive to ensure Bandh doesn’t happen, the hill people were against GJM, but the moment TMC decided to issue diktats, it became a matter of US vs Bengal, and that is where TMC lost the plot. People who don’t like GJM, decided to support the bandh, because they all felt that allowing Bengal to run its writ in Darjeeling would ruin our autonomy, and the latent desire for self-governance through Gorkhaland statehood was awakened.

GJM won the moral victory on the 28th, they requested and people shut down... TMC forced and people didn't open, and no matter how many channels report to the contrary, the fact remains that on September 28th, the hills stood united.

It may not have been in support of GJM, but it was definitely against TMC and its draconian diktats.

TheDC


Rift between Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and the Trinamool Congress Began

11:05 AM
TMC
Trinamool magic won't work in Darjeeling hills: JAP

Darjeeling, Sept. 26:In an obvious sign of relations souring up between the Jan Andolan Party and the Trinamool Congress, the JAP today rebuffed the TMC’s attempts to make inroads in the hills, asserting no national-level party would be able to usurp power in the region.

The latest swipe comes in the wake of chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently clarifying in a public programme that it was her and her government’s decision to form a separate Kalimpong district.

“We (hills) cherish regional feelings and sentiments when it comes to politics, whatever parties we may be associated with. No national party has been able to rule in the hills as the history of the place shows,” asserted Amar Lama, senior JAP bureau member, today durig a press briefing in Darjeeling.

Going a step further, Lama challenged the TMC to form the government in Tripura first. “Why, Darjeeling hills, we challenge the TMC to first form government in Tripura,” the JAP leader said.
Rift between Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and the Trinamool Congress Began
What has also irked the JAP leadership is the chief minister's reluctance to give credit to the party, the political ally of the TMC in the hills, with regard to the formation of the new district.

Coming out in defence of the party’s president, Lama reiterated that it was the strong pitch made by JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri and the District Demand Committee (DDC) that made the state government decide to create Kalimpong district. “Our party president and the DDC pursued the issue of creating a Kalimpong district relentlessly. It was this untiring effort and pursuance that gave the state government the impetus to come to a decision. The chief minister cannot deny this fact,” said Lama.

The JAP has all along taken credit for the state government's decision to form a Kalimpong district, which apparently was not announced by the chief minister during her latest three-day visit to the hills,

much against popular expectations. Speaing at a programme organised by the Lepcha development board in Kalimpong, Banerjee clarified that nobody had pursued the matter with her to create Kalimpong district. Interestingly, Chhetri who is also the Kalimpong MLA, was among the invitees to the function and was seated on the dais when Banerjee uttered her statement.

The JAP president initially dabbled for a Kalimpong district as a member of the DDC after severing ties with the GJM before he went on to float the JAP to contest the assembly election riding on the Kalimpong district issue. Lama also took offence to the war of words between the state government and the GJM over allocation of funds to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. He said,

“Rather than indulging in making claims and allegations, the state government should ask the Comptroller Auditor General to audit the expenditure accounts of the GTA. It can be done on the basis of section 55, clause 9 of the GTA Act under the Funds and Audit section." Lama also suggested that if at all anomalies were found in the audit, the GTA Sabha should be dissolved then.

Mamata Banerjee has claimed that the state government had allocated Rs 4,000 crore to the GTA for development over a period of four years since the formation of the council in 2012. Refuting the claim,  GJM president Bimal Gurung has announced a 12 hour strike in the hills on September 28, seeking a clarification from the state government.

Via (EOIC)

JAP raps GTA & Mamata on funds
Darjeeling, Sept. 26: The Jana Andolan Party today accused both Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung of indulging in politics over the GTA funds and asked the state government to conduct an audit of the hill body.

Amar Lama, a bureau member of the JAP, today said: "The chief minister had come up with a Rs 1,000 crore figure during a public meeting in Kurseong in March and after a few months, she talks about Rs 4,000 crore in Kalimpong. Instead of speaking on an issue like this at a public gathering, the chief minister should act seriously. The state government should ask the CAG to conduct an audit and if they find financial irregularities, the state should supersede the GTA as is laid out in the Act."

Lama further said the chief minister was raising the funds issue only when her relation with the Morcha was on the rocks. "Why is the issue being raised only when the relation between the two parties has hit a low? Had the relation (between the Morcha and Trinamul) been steady, it seems, the chief minister would have never raised the issue," said Lama.

In the recent Assembly elections, the JAP was in an alliance with the Trinamul Congress.

Accusing the Morcha of failing to be transparent, Lama said: "The Morcha must be transparent on the issue. The GTA, which is controlled by the Morcha, should give a proper reply to funds queries and should not hide details on money matters. However, there was no need to call a general strike on an issue related to claims and counter-claims on funds."

Late in the evening, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said the Wednesday strike was also to strengthen the voice of Gorkhaland, which the state government was trying to scuttle in all possible ways. - Telegraph


 
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