Showing posts with label West Bengal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Bengal. Show all posts

Darjeeling MP and MoS Ahluwalia Writes to Home Ministry on Gorkhaland Demand

10:01 PM

- Sumit Pande

New Delhi: Amidst the escalating protests in Darjeeling and adjoining areas, Minister of State for Agriculture SS Ahluwalia has written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh to examine the demand for a separate hill state Gorkhaland.

Sources in the Home Ministry have told CNN-News18 that Ahluwalia, who won Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling on BJP ticket with the support of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), met Singh and the Home Secretary earlier this week in Delhi and drew the attention of the ministry on the escalating crisis in his constituency.

This is for the first time that a senior BJP leader has gone on record in a communication to the government to seek intervention on the core issue of the formation of a separate state from West Bengal.

Sources in the BJP say that Ahluwalia has also communicated with the Party President Amit Shah on this issue.

In its manifesto for 2014 general elections BJP had said “it will sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region; of the Kamtapuri, Rajbongshi and other people of North Bengal (including recognition of their language)”.

GJM, which is spearheading the separate statehood campaign now, currently controls the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). It is also the main challenger to the ruling Trinamool Congress which has for long attempted to make inroads in the region.

In the process, GJM has tactically leveraged its stakes at the center vis-à-vis the state government by supporting a national party in the Lok Sabha polls. In 2009 general elections, it supported former Defence Minister and BJP leader Jaswant Singh.

The GTA was formed in 2012 after a tripartite agreement was signed between the state and union government and GJM which had been agitating for a separate hill state. The agreement led to the passage of a bill by the West Bengal Assembly delegating administrative and financial powers to the council. The state government, however, retained legislative powers with itself.

The latest round of protests were triggered by GJM’s opposition to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to implement three language policy in the state making Bangla compulsory in at primary and secondary levels. GJM sought exemption from the rule in the Nepali speaking areas of the state.

Amidst the unrest, and in a challenge of sorts, Banerjee also travelled to the hills earlier this month to hold the maiden meeting of her cabinet in Darjeeling. Former chief minister SS Ray had done the same at the peak of Naxal movement 34 years ago to send across a message that all was well and under control.

The anti-language movement soon metamorphosed to reignite the separate statehood demand with all political parties in the sub-division passing a resolution on Tuesday seeking to separate from West Bengal.

In his missive to Singh, Ahluwalia has also sought the State Government should through an executive order exempt Nepali speaking areas from compulsorily studying Bangla.

[Via:CNN-News18 ]

If this is Democracy?

7:06 AM

Writes Pramod Khadka

India the world's largest democracy,the country we live and the country where democracy prevails in which power ultimately comes from the people. The rights of the individuals are protected and respected as per the Constitution of India.
But when it comes to our state so called West Bengal these democratic rights of the same individual are butchered everyday.. West Bengal government has its history of exercising hegemony among its minority community( Gorkhas); who they terms as outsiders or separatists..
Darjeeling the town which is carrying the its legacy as the 'Queen of the Hills' with its utmost beauty and peaceful endeavour has always come as a pride for Bengal. But when it comes to the people residing there Bengal has always taken a discriminatory stand since ages be it any ruling party forcing the indigenous people to raise their voice for Identity,Dignity and the separation from Bengal but the words are still unheard,unjustified and unfulfilled.
Under Article 19,the backbone of the chapter on Fundamental Rights or Personal Liberty it has guaranteed basic freedom to all citizens:
1) Freedom of speech and expression
2)assemble peacefully and without arms
3)form associations or union.

But today the Life,Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness for a Gorkha community has been cremated with the malign human right abuse committed against the people(most notably women and senior citizens)by the police authorities who were organising a peaceful rally in Darjeeling today..

So Madam! I hereby challenge your notion of Democracy(or Dictatorship in disguise) .
*If your Democracy is about glorifying the inhuman acts against the older and weaker sections of society then I resist your Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about forcefully imposing an alien language to an indigenous community whose language has been officially recognised by the Indian Constitution then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about practising Divisive Policy and dividing the community on the racial grounds then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy talks about resorting forceful agents(CRPF,Police,Army) creating an Emergency like situation then I resist such Democracy.
*If your Democracy is about practising lawlessness and suppressing the minorities of your state then I resist such Democracy.
*If your notion of Democracy is aimed against the aspirations for a separate state then I resist such Democracy.

Madam! You should know the success of a democracy depends largely on the the extent to which the civil liberties are enjoyed by the citizens in general.. But our civil liberty has been suppressed,hampered and butchered everyday by you,your authorities and by your state..
So hereby I resist the Democracy which you talks about that doesn't falls under the Constitution and which you practice in Our Hills everyday. Political equality is for all but not for the Gorkhas.. If it would have been for us we wouldn't need to beg for it... So I resist You,Your Democratic vision and Your Democratic Development..

Netaji's grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose Supports Gorkhaland

11:04 AM

GORKHALAND: Netaji's grand nephew Chandra Kumar Bose Extends His Support to Gorkhaland

In what may come as a shot in the arm to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) at a time when the party is being cornered by the Mamata Banerjee-govt, Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand nephew of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, has come out in open support of Gorkhaland, expressing his views on the issue perhaps for the first time. In a series of tweets, Chandra Bose articulated and defended the demand for #Gorkhaland as "an issue of respect and identity of the Gorkhas" which the state govt had "betrayed".

Recalling the contribution of the Gorkhas to the freedom struggle of the country and their unwavering support to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, Chandra Bose asserted that "Gorkhas must get their respect & identity - they participated in the freedom struggle with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.... People of the hills gave full support to Netaji as they got respect. It's time we give that honour once again. Jai Hind!

It is important to note that Chandra Kumar Bose, who joined BJP last year and was seen as its Chief Ministerial candidate in the run upto the last assembly election of the state, is the Vice-President of the West Bengal BJP unit and his open support to Gorkhaland could pacify the dissenting voices in the Bengal unit of the organisation as well as lend voice and support to the Gorkhaland lobby within the BJP.

BJP to send central team to Darjeeling to review situation

3:16 AM

BJP leadership in Delhi is planning to send a central team to Darjeeling by end of this month to assess the current political situations in the Hills.

The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is holding an indefinite bandh in Darjeeling since Monday demanding a separate statehood for which they have been fighting for long.

Even though, the main purpose of the current bandh by the GJM is to mount pressure on Mamata Banerjee's government, sources in BJP here said that their central leadership is worried because of the GJM's renewed movement for separate statehood.

"It is the Union government which is capable of considering such a demand and our leadership is keen to hold talks with the GJM even though they are opposed to their demand for a separate Gorkha state. As far as I know, a central team will visit Darjeeling soon to assess the current political situations and to hold talks with the GJM leadership," a senior BJP leader told ET on Monday preferring anonymity.

BJP's Bengal unit has blamed chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the recent turmoil in Darjeeling.

"The recent spate of violence in the Hills is happening due to mishandling of the issue by the chief minister. In the name of setting up development boards, the chief minister has practically encouraged divisions among the Hill people. We don't support demand for separate statehood. But we feel that none but the chief minister herself is responsible for the current unrest in Darjeeling," BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.

BJP insiders, however, said that the party could not evade their responsibility in case the GJM continues their stir for getting a separate state as the party won Darjeeling lok sabha seat in 2014 with support from the GJM and the MP from Darjeeling S.S.Ahluwalia is now a Union minister.

"We run the government in Delhi. We have won Darjeeling lok sabha seat and the MP is now a minister. Naturally, it is the duty of our government in Delhi and responsibility of our minister to listen to the GJM leadership and try to find out a suitable solution. The central team will visit Darjeeling for the same purpose," said the senior BJP leader.

By Tamal Sengupta, ET Bureau
In Pic: A state-government bus in flames after it was torched miscreants in Darjeeling.

Via economictimes

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

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.


We won't accept compulsory imposition of Bengali language" - RB Rai (CPRM)

4:00 PM

LANGUAGE ISSUE: "We won't accept compulsory imposition of Bengali language" - RB Rai

Senior Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM) leader and former Member of Parliament RB Rai has come out strongly against the proposed implementation of Bengali as a compulsory languages to be taught in schools.

Speaking to the press Mr RB Rai who was one of the leading figures in the struggle for the recognition of Nepali as one of the National languages of India under the VIIIth schedule of the Indian Constitution, said "the third language should remain optional and shouldn't be made compulsory and shouldn't be forcefully implemented... Optional means the right to choose, there was talk about having a third language in schools earlier too and Hindi along with other languages were given as a choice for the third language... today they want to remove Hindi and make Bengali language mandatory... we will not accept this... no one can impose the language people don't want to learn and we oppose any such move in strongest terms."

Mr. Rai also said, "this issue should not be given a political colour, and people from various backgrounds such as Literature, Education and Society should give leadership to the movement opposing any such move... and if it is done at a political level, then a collective leadership must be formed to steer the language related protests."

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]

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"

Gorkha Students JNU appeal to people

7:23 AM


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

Education strike in Darjeeling to protest linguistic imperialism

10:27 AM


Writes: Vivek Chhetri

Bimal Gurung yesterday called a two-day education strike in the hills this week and a series of marches during the chief minister's impending visit to protest the state government's move to make Bengali a compulsory subject at schools.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president announced the agitation at a session convened by the party with Nepali literary figures, college professors, representatives of educational institutions in the hills and social organisations like Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan, teachers and other apolitical people here.

"The government is trying to force a language on us and its not acceptable. We will protest the move vehemently and I will personally take to the streets. We will request the closure of all educational institutions in the hills on June 1 and 2. I am hearing that they (Mamata Banerjee) will be coming to Darjeeling on June 4 and during this period, we will show our resentment by holding marches with black flags across the hills from June 4 to 8 (during chief minister's entire stay in the hills)," Gurung told the gathering at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

The protest against the Mamata government's decision to make the learning of Bengali compulsory at schools across the state seems to be moving out of the realms of political domain. Representatives of top schools in the hills, like St Paul's School and St Joseph's School (North Point), were preset at the meeting called by the Morcha.

Before Gurung had announced the strike, the gathering called upon him to start a strong movement on the matter.

In the hills, most students have English as their first language and Nepali as the second language. Making Bengali compulsory would mean that there would be no choice left and it would be a tall task for educational institutions in the hills to find teachers for Bengali language.

Gurung said he would participate in the marches from June 4 onwards in Darjeeling. In the hill town, the procession will be taken out from Ghoom to Darjeeling town, a distance of 8km.

He has called for similar marches across the hills and the Dooars and the Terai as well. "If the need arises, we might even call a general strike in the days to come," said Gurung.

Language has been a major issue in the hills, which had agitated for almost three decades for the recognition of Nepali in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution. Nepali was listed in the Constitution in 1992.

The Bengal government had recognised Nepali as an official language for the hills in 1961.

Jiwan Namdung, a Sahitya Academy award winner, said at the meeting that "making Bengali compulsory is wrong and unacceptable".

"Since the government is looking at making Bengali mandatory in the hills, can they reciprocate by making Nepali compulsory in the plains, too? We salute their decision to safeguard their language but they have to address our concerns, too," he said.

Prem Pradhan, also a Sahitya Academy award holder, spoke on similar lines and said the decision could be a sinister ploy to "suppress the Gorkhaland demand".

Bishal Thapa, the secretary of the Hill College Professors' Association, said: "While Bengali language is being made mandatory, provisions have not yet been made to make Nepali literature an option in the state civil services examinations. In State Eligibility Test, Nepali is not a language in which one can sit for the examination. There is a political motive behind the move to make Bengali compulsory."

Political observers believe if the state government does go ahead with the language decision, it might have to face widespread backlash given the sentiments attached to the language in the hills.

Gurung said: "Such giants of the society are with me today, not to support the Morcha but to stand by the community. I request all other parties to participate in the protest setting aside all political differences."

[Via: Telegraph]

Mirik: Trinamul's launch pad in hills

12:21 PM

Bireswar Banerjee

Mirik, May 29: From today, Mirik will be Trinamul's new signpost in the Darjeeling hills.
The party is expected to announce and implement a slew of schemes for the hill town and showcase Mirik before the hill people as the example of Mamata Banerjee's development agenda.

"So far, Bengal ministers and Trinamul leaders have highlighted the projects taken up by the state government in the hills. But from now onwards, the new civic board will implement projects in Mirik. The entire Mirik subdivision will witness comprehensive development. It is because of the mandate of Mirik residents that our party is tasting power in the hills," a Trinamul leader here said today, soon after the party's L.B. Rai was sworn in as the Mirik chairman.

He said Mirik would provide Trinamul with a launch-pad to penetrate the rest of the hills, especially before the coming polls to the GTA Sabha.

The Morcha will be under pressure to perform at the three other civic bodies in the hills. Morcha president Bimal Gurung had said after the civic poll results that people had given them "one last chance".

If the civic body in Mirik can establish that it is performing better than the three other boards, there will be more trouble for the Morcha.

Trinamul leader and minister Aroop Biswas affirmed that Rai and his colleagues would have a tough task at hand. "People here have huge expectations from Trinamul councillors and our party. It is obvious that they will have to perform and prove that the peoples' mandate was right. We will constantly monitor the civic body's functioning and extend all necessary help to them," Biswas said.

The hill town today wore a look of celebrations, with the flags of Trinamul and GNLF fluttering across Mirik. The six Trinamul councillors were taken to the municipality building in a bike rally organised by the party supporters.

Some of the councillors were riding pillion.

After the chairman and the vice-chairman were sworn in, the Trinamul supporters took out a procession in which the councillors and minister Biswas took part.

The march ended near Sumendu lake.

The three Morcha councillors left soon after they had taken oath and didn't wait to attend the first board meeting.

[via: Telegraph ]

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

Gorkha students Kolkata against Gurung's Darjeeling bandh call

8:05 AM
KOLKATA: Gurung of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha made a last ditched effort to make his presence felt and give fresh air to the now dormant Gorkhaland movement by calling for a 12-hour bandh in the Darjeeling Hills on September 28. The objective of the bandh is to demand details of Rs 4,000 crore spent in hills over four years as claimed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

However, Gorkha students in Kolkata feel that blockades won't help strengthen Gorkhaland movement and on the contrary would only increase distance towards Gurung.

"We had faced a lot of problems during the last spate of bandhs in the hills. But everyone participated without protesting with hope that the bandhs would force Centre and Bengal government to consider our demand for separate statehood. However, Mamata Banerjee played the ethnic cards and divided the Gorkhaland movement. Now, again if bandhs are called, our people will only suffer not achieve anything," said Vandana Pradhan, a 2nd year student of commerce.
Gurung calls for bandh in Darjeeling hills
Gurung calls for bandh in Darjeeling hills
Even though the students feel that Mamata's claims of development through various ethnic boards is just 'eyewash' and in sync with policy of 'divide and rule' over the hills residents, they feel bandhs will push off tourists and cause more hardships.

"Durga Puja is just a fortnight away. Bengali tourists visit the hills in large numbers during this period. Bandhs will not only affect trade and tourism in Darjeeling Hills but also in Sikkim," said Rajesh Chhetri, an arts student and a native of Kurseong.

Some students feel Mamata's carefully planned social engineering coupled with development claims has snuffed the Gorkhaland momentum halt. "The recent annoucement of Kalimpong district is a long pending demand and is a shot in the arm on Jan Andolan Party (JAP), which has been demanding it. As we know JAP leader Harka Bahadur Chetri is an associate of Mamata now. These careful announcements are further isolating the GJM. Hence, this bandh call to show their presence," said Tsering, a final year commerce student and a native of Kalimpong.

Mamata Banerjee on Friday, during a programme in the hills warned against the bandh call given by Bimal Gurung. "We won't let any bandhs happen in the hills. Bandhs won't aid in development of the hills," she had said while leaving space for talks with Gurung. "If you have any issues, we can talk," she said.

Via newindianexpress

CK Shrestha Rejects Felicitation - After Organizers Refer to Him As Being From NEPAL

10:20 PM

Gorkha Theater Legend CK Shrestha Rejects Felicitation - After Organizers Refer to Him As Being From NEPAL

The Identity crisis felt by the Indian Gorkhas has bogged down generations of our people, and not just the ordinary people like you and I, even our celebrated artists, scholars, politicians and every prominent personality has to face this often repeated question - are you from NEPAL?

It is one thing to question, quiet another to say so on an invitation card for a program to be held at Siliguri by a West Bengal-based organization, in which the Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb was to inaugurate the program.

A Calcutta based organization Sarbabharatiya Sangeet-o-Sanskriti Parishad was set to felicitate renowned Gorkhali theater personality Mr. CK Shrestha at Dinabandhu Mancha in Siliguri today. The Chief Guest of the program is J. C. Roy, Director of Cultural and Information Directorate, Bengal government.

Yet,the Invitation card states that Mr. CK Shrestha is from NEPAL.

Protesting against the humiliation, not just against himself, but also against the Gorkhali community, Mr. CK Shrestha has refused their invitation, and has declined to attend the program today.
 CK Shrestha Rejects Felicitation - After Organizers Refer to Him As Being From NEPAL
 CK Shrestha Rejects Felicitation - After Organizers Refer to Him As Being From NEPAL
In a stern letter written to the organizers, Mr. CK Shrestha has said, 'my eagerness to attend your function was cut short when I received the invitation card today, which labels me as a citizen of Nepal. To be branded a foreigner in your own country is the gravest insult that can be given to a person, and the last thing I expected from an organization of your stature. This is simply unacceptable and I take serious offence in this act of humiliation that I have been subjected to. I am an Indian Gorkha, and being a citizen of this country is something that I am very proud of.'

Mr. Shrestha further writes, 'If a well known person like me is humiliated in this manner, I shudder to think about the fate of the countless other lesser known Gorkhas who are a part of this country.'

Take strong exception to the humiliation, Mr. Shrestha adds, 'I strongly condemn this mindless and deliberate branding of members of Indian Gorkha community as Nepali citizens, and in protest, I hereby decline the felicitation extended to me by your organization.

Jai Gorkha! Jai Hind!"

This is percisely why we need GORKHALAND statehood... as long as we remain a part of Bengal... we will continue to be humiliated.

Via The DC

Centre to accord tribal status to the Gorkhas - Tribal Minister

5:45 PM

The Centre is eager to accord tribal status to the 11 Gorkha communities, but some technical problems are holding it back for now, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram said in Kalimpong on Sunday. “The central government is pursuing the demand for tribal status for 11 Gorkha communities with all sincerity. But, we have to follow the established norms and procedures to get over some technical problems,” Oram told reporters in this hill town.

“All the 11 Gorkha communities seeking tribal status are living in almost all states of the country. For that, the tribal department needs to take inputs from the states concerned and consult other departments involved. That is why the issue is pending,” he said.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister said the West Bengal and Sikkim governments had already issued recommendation for these communities. (Source: File Photo)
“I want all Gorkhas to know that the Prime Minister has already promised that the status will be accorded, so there is no room for doubt. People should not worry unnecessarily,” the minister said. To a question, he said the West Bengal and Sikkim governments had already issued recommendation for these communities.

Via indianexpress

GJM demands “backward area” status for Darjeeling hills

9:18 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, Aug. 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today demanded that since the state government had decided to bring the entire population in the Darjeeling hills under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, the Mamata Banerjee administration declare the region a “backward area”  and provide other benefits.

The Morcha, however, said the state government would not do so and the “hidden agenda” of covering the entire hills under the AAY was to cut down on the foodgrains it had promised the people of the region before the Assembly elections.

Under the AAY being implemented by the Centre through state governments, a financially backward family is entitled to 35kg of foodgrains at Rs 2 per kg a month.

The Morcha had assigned members of the party’s Study Forum to “find out the real motives of the state government” in implementing the AAY in the entire hills.
GJM demands “backward area” status for Darjeeling hills
Morcha leader DK Pradhan in Darjeeling on Friday. Picture by Suman Tamang
D.K. Pradhan, convener of the Study Forum, today said: “According to a notification issued by the directorate of district distribution, procurement & supply, food supplies department (memo no: 335(19) FMR/IIS-01/16) dated January 22, 2016, the hill population was included in Hill PDS category. As per the HPDS provisions, 11kg of foodgrains would be distributed per person per month in the entire hills.”

The provision in the notification reads: “The existing population in the hill will now be allotted 6 kg of rice and 5 kg of fortified atta per heard per month @ Rs 2.00 per kg in both cases.”

According to Pradhan, the 11kg of foodgrains were to be drawn under the Centre’s National Food Security Act and the special scheme of the state government.

The January 22 notification regarding hills reads: “The entire population of the hill subdivision will be treated as NFSA plus state special package of for hill (NFSA-Hill) and allocation of 2 kg of rice and 3 kg of atta will be given from NFSA quota. The balance amount of 4 kg of rice and 2 kg of atta will be given as top up over and above the NFSA quota and the expenditure will be borne by the Govt. of West Bengal. Accounts shall be maintained accordingly.”

After the Assembly elections, Pradhan alleged, the state had decided to implement only the AAY under the National Food Security Act in the entire hills so that it didn’t have to bear the additional expenditure of 4kg of rice and 2kg of atta.
Under the AAY, a backward family is entitled to 15kg of rice and 20kg of fortified atta at Rs 2 per kg per month.

“This basically means that a family of four and above will now be getting less amount of foodgrains than what the state government promised. According to the special package announced before the Assembly elections, a hill family of five is entitled to 55kg of foodgrains. The hidden agenda of getting the hill population under the AAY is to ensure that the state government does not have to bear the additional cost of supplying 6kg of foodgrains per person a month,” said Pradhan.

The Morcha central committee member said it was fine for the Morcha if the state provided 35kg of foodgrains to a family under the AAY and the remaining 6kg per head per month.

“We also demand that since the hills have been brought under the AAY, which is for the financially backward families, the state declare the hills a backward area and give benefits for the backward region like exemption from income tax, subsides in transport, fuel, gas connections and electricity,” said Pradhan.

Via Telegraph

AAY digital card state govt ploy to curb statehood demand - Bimal Gurung

12:25 PM
Bimal Gurung asks people to surrender AAY digital card, alleges state goverment ploy

DARJEELING 2 Aug 2016 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today accorded a different connotation to the Antyodaya Anna Yojana, terming it a state government ploy to quell the statehood  demand, and appealed to the people of the hills to surrender their digital cards.

The GJM president also questioned the state government’s inability to identify and implement the categorisation of APL (above poverty level) and BPL (below poverty level) people in the hills, even though the process started 16 years ago in 2000. Apparently, the AAY contemplates identification of the poorest of poor families from among the BPL covered under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) within the states and provides them food grains at a highly subsidised rate of Rs2 per kg for wheat and Rs3 per kg for rice.
Bimal Gurung asks people to surrender AAY digital card, alleges state goverment ploy
Bimal Gurung asks people to surrender AAY digital card, alleges state goverment ploy
“Issuing digitalised AAY cards is a state government conspiracy to prove that we (Gorkhas) are refugees, as is one of the criteria of the scheme," Gurung alleged today. "Through the AAY, the Bengal government wants to send out a message that refugees cannot demand a separate state."

He said the process started last month during the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee. “The President was invited to Darjeeling in July by the state government to convey him the message that the Gorkhas are not the only ones who reside in the hills. Bengal hijacked the birth anniversary programme of our poet Bhanubhakta Acharya on July 13. And now no instruction in Nepali is provided in  the digital card,” Gurung said, adding he would write about this to the state government.

The GJM president said it was his responsibility as a leader and chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to make the people aware of the state government’s ill intentions. “Bengal is trying to create a scenario to deprive our rights and drive us out from the hills, slowly but surely. I appeal to those who have received their AAY digital card to surrender it to the district administration.

I have also asked the municipalities, Sabhasads and leaders in the panchayat areas to stop the distribution of AAY cards,” he said, and urged all political parties including the hill TMC to forget political differences and unite to oppose the state government's imposition.

Incidentally, the word refugee is not mentioned in government papers or notifications as a criterion, although slum dwellers, landless agricultural labourers, and persons earning on daily basis in informal sectors in rural and urban areas, among others are listed. Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava said the term “refugee” was just a propaganda and asked people not to pay heed to it.

“The AAY is being implemented as the hills do not produce food grains and they have to be purchased from outside at high costs. As far as the issue of returning the digital card is concerned, people may do so if they wish to,” he said.

With no categorisation as BPL or APL, the entire hill populace is being treated as AAY, according to which 7,95,640 people will be given the digital cards. Almost 75 per cent of cards have already been distributed in the hills since it was introduced in July.


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