Showing posts with label bjp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bjp. Show all posts

ELECTION 2019: NRC, the latest talking point

3:11 PM
Writes NN Ojha

BJP chief Amit Shah’s declaration in Alipurduar on 29 March that NRC will be implemented in West Bengal if BJP came to power has  ignited a debate about how NRC might impact people in Darjeeling hills. The debate has further intensified after Prime Minister Modi repeated his party chief’s statement during his public address in Jalpaiguri on 3 April. While doing so PM assured that the exercise will not harm the Gorkhas in any way. He however avoided saying if it would bring any benefits to the Gorkha. As expected TMC chief Mamta Banerjee took no time in countering the BJP leadership’s statements adding that NRC is a political ploy of BJP to cause dissensions in society and coupled with the Citizens Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 the scheme makes their communal agenda clear.

In an polarised political atmosphere combined with soon to be held elections debates often tend to be reduced to canvassing and propaganda  for or against the parties in the fray.  The debate on NRC sparked off by Amit Shah and Narendra Modi is no exception.

Preparation, establishment and maintenance of a ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ (NRC) is provided for in The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issuing of National Identity Cards) Rules originally framed in 1956 as last amended in July 2003. Rule 3(1) of these rules mandates the Registrar General of Citizens Registration ‘to establish and maintain NRC for the whole of India’, not selectively for any particular state or UT

Two questions arise; one, if NRC is mandated for the whole of India why do Amit Shah or Narenfra Modi single out West Bengal for its introduction repeatedly and second, Is the NRC capable of yielding results as per its stated objectives. For examining both these questions we will have to look to the ongoing exercise on NRC in Assam.

In spite of applicability of NRC all over the country Assam is the only state to have had it introduced way back in 1951. The reasons for this exception are in Assam’s  peculiar historical background. The state has had problem of immigrants ever since it was ceded to the  British colonial rulers by the Burmese rulers in 1826.  Alarm bells were rung for the first time in 1931 when CS Mullen Superintendent of Census reported about ‘invasion by hordes of land-hungry immigrants on Assam in the last 25 years that could destroy the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilisation’. The problem  persisted even after independence with an added dimension of national security after the partition of India. As a result an Assam specific legislation, Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act 1950 was passed by the Parliament and Assam became the very first state of India to have an NRC in 1951 for identification and expulsion of illegal immigrants as per the Act.

The exception made in case of Assam because of compulsions of history and law does not take away the fundamental point that as per existing law NRC’s applicability is for the whole of India and singling out west Bengal in particular on election eve is legally and politically improper. We will examine possible reasons for this intimidatory singling out of West Bengal little later. First let us see what has been our experience of Assam NRC in terms of results achieved.

The main objective of  NRC was to identify illegal immigrants  and expel them. Barely ten years after the first NRC the 1961 census found number of illegal immigrants in Assam  to be nearly 2.25 lakhs. In a white paper issued by the Home department of Assam the estimate shot up to five lakhs. In the draft NRC published under the ongoing updation currently underway nearly four millions claimants to citizenship have been excluded for want of certainty about their citizenship status. It is obvious NRC has not contained the influx of illegal migrants in the State even after six decades of its introduction in 1951.

Let us look at the other objective of expulsion of illegal migrants after they are identified as such following the NRC. In  February this year during the  hearing of current status of Assam NRC updation government of India submitted before the apex court that out of 52000 individuals identified as foreigners by the Tribunal set up under Foreigners Act of 1946 only 162 were deported. This is an irrefutable proof of the failure of NRC in curbing infiltration or expelling infiltrators. Interestingly it was also submitted by the government before the court that 27000 individuals attempting to cross over from the border into Assam were pushed back by our security forces. Quite obviously a vigorous security setup to guard the borders against infiltration is more effective than an elaborate and time and resource consuming exercise of NRC that till now has hardly resulted in anything but discord and disaffection in society and harassment and humiliation of our own citizens.

These being the results why the idea of NRC is being marketed so aggressively by BJP for Bengal? Obviously the motive appears political. When you see NRC in conjunction with BJP’s another brainchild the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 the motive becomes crystal clear. CAB divides illegal immigrants into infiltrators liable to be expelled and refugees likely to be granted citizenship depending upon the faith they practise. Thus by combining the two BJP may expect to neutralise anti BJP vote of those liable to be expelled and  consolidate its hold on those likely to be granted citizenship. People in Assam and other North Eastern states see CAB as a counter measure to nullify the objectives of NRC and have risen in protest against what they term  BJP’s   duplicity.

How will NRC if introduced in Bengal impact people in Darjeeling region? We have PM  Modi simply saying this won’t harm the Gorkhas but choosing not to say that it would benefit them. Then we have Raju Bista saying NRC will benefit the Gorkha by making them more secure in their land without explaining how exactly. At the cutting edge level we have  BJP supporters canvassing relentlessly that if NRC comes ‘90% of the Bengali speaking people in terai and duars will be pushed back to Bangladesh’. I am not aware how they are sure of their figures or the end result. However they seem unaware of the perilous procedure fraught with long spells of harassment, humiliation and uncertainty for the common man irrespective of who is pushed back to another country and who is entitled to remain in the end. They are also unaware that if CAB comes - and it is sure to come if NRC comes, both being dependent on BJP’s return to power - then many among those our friends are expecting to be pushed back to Bangladesh may end up getting citizenship due to the faith they practise. Obviously the painstaking propaganda by some of our youngsters is either a command performance or due to ignorance about the procedure involved. My advise to them is to go through the Citizenship (Registration of citizens and issuing of National Identity cards) Rules of 1956 and their 22 amendments, the last one being of 7 July 2003 and be unbiased in their views.

It is true that no Gorkha can be liable for expulsion from India irrespective of whether or not there is NRC in Bengal. Even those who may be deemed to be citizens of Nepal and not India can remain under the Indo-Nepal treaty of 1950. To that extent the PM is right that NRC will not harm the Gorkhas but there is no additional benefit that it brings to the table for Gorkhas which the Gorkhas don’t have already. When you think of this status quo with or without NRC and take into account the harassment, humiliation, uncertainty and the enormous resources needed for the exercise it may appear to be futile and even counter productive. In Assam where just an updation exercise for an existing NRC is going on nearly 40000 workers (30000 regular government  employees and 10000 contract workers) are engaged in the task. Twenty different types of customised computer soft wares have been developed mostly through private sector at huge cost and over 2500 data digitisation hubs established for the purpose. Diversion of such huge resources for an exercise at the end of which you are getting ready with another law to grant citizenship to many who may be found to be illegal immigrants or if you are able to deport only 162 illegals out of 52000 identified definitely needs to be given a fresh look. If your motives are purely political for which you couldn’t care less for the resources or  the harassment common people are subjected to during the exercise then it is a different story.

I am not for a moment arguing that we need not have NRC and let India be a caravan serai for immigrants. What I am saying is do not use NRC as an electoral gimmick and if you have NRC at huge cost to the nation do not neutralise its gains by a counter statute like the CAB. My argument is also to see if the objectives of NRC could be fulfilled by having a robust border guarding system instead of the cumbersome and frightfully expensive procedures involved in NRC that also become unduly bothersome for the common man. My appeal to every one is not to mix up a legal issue that also has bearing on national security with petty politics and unfounded or exaggerated claims about its gains or pitfalls.

Via The DT

Darjeeling Lok Sabha Election 2019 and the Gorkhas

9:10 AM
Darjeeling Parliamentary Constituency Election 2019 and the Gorkhas: Some Observations

Writes: Dr Vimal Khawas

The Gorkhas of Darjeeling Hills, as initially decided, could not arrive at a common consensus candidate. Therefore, a total of sixteen (16) potential and aspiring candidates affiliated to various political parties as well as those desiring to contest as independent candidates have filed their nominations for the position of the Member of Parliament from Darjeeling Lok Sabha Constituency in the upcoming General Elections, 2019. Darjeeling Constituency is, perhaps, one of the most fiercely contested constituencies in the country today.

If we closely examine the current electoral landscape in the region, the pattern broadly looks as follows:

Clearly, chances of an independent candidate to emerge victoriously are slim to none, both because of their past political baggage and also due to the lack of their ability to create an adequate platform for grassroots mobilizations. Further, lesser political parties like, CPIM, BSP, IDRF, GRC and even national parties like INC may also not be able to wield much impact in the ensuing election due to both local and regional political dynamics.

Consequently, there are primarily two probable political scenarios to choose from before us for this election. Leaving aside political contenders highlighted above, the real fight is only between TMC (supported by GJMM2) and BJP (supported by GJMM1 and GNLF).

Scenario #1:

If we vote for TMC and make them victorious, there is a very high degree of probability that Mamata Banerjee would gradually grab the entire region under her fold. This election is just a gateway for Mamata and her party TMC to bigger political shares in the region via MLA and GTA elections, subsequently. The steady increase of TMC domination in the hills also means steady uprooting and waning of Gorkha identity and Gorkha political aspirations. They are inversely related to each other.

Under such a situation, in a decade or two, the entire notion of Gorkha and Gorkhaland may have been rendered irrelevant! We may be only referred to as a Thapa, a Chettri, a Bhujel, a Damai, a Rai, a Kami, a Sherpa, a Limbu, a Lepcha, a Bahun, a Dukpa, a Sarki, a Newar or Nepalis and many times immigrant Nepalis. We would, most probably, cease to be the Gorkhas. No one would have the guts to utter ‘Jai Gorkha’. We all may collectively and/or forcefully be made to chant ‘Jai Bangla’.

She is already on her way up the hills with a number of detrimental political cards. Her Development Board approach is one of the ways forward in this regard. She would never go for such appeasement politics had she loved the region and its people, to the extent of dividing the Gorkhas into ethnic lines. More importantly, TMC’s unscientific and draconic handling of the 2013 and 2017 Gorkhaland agitation/uprising is yet another critical example of how it perceives the Gorkhas and their long pending aspirations in the region.

Scenario #2:

If we vote for BJP and render them victorious, nothing may happen. The last 10 years were rather fruitless and going by that trend, the next five years may not bear fruit, either.BJP may be busy spreading its political and strategic tentacles across geographical spaces of the country with its Hindutva card. It may keep on struggling to take control of Bengal but without any notable results. BJP would not give us Gorkhaland! They have their state government in Assam. Has Bodoland been able to see the light of the day?

This MP would, in all likelihood remain a mere puppet within the larger framework and schemes of Bharatiya Janata Party!

However, the Gorkhas will have the freedom to shout ‘Jai Gorkha’ and ‘We want Gorkhaland’ under BJP unlike under TMC which is fundamentally and ideologically against the idea of Gorkha and Gorkhaland! And yes Gorkhas would, at least, have the hope to have their own separate state called ‘Gorkhaland’ or to be known by any other name someday.

Sapana nai bhaye pani haami dekhneh chau ra dekhi rahaneh chau

The choice is ours, to opt for scenario #1 or #2. No one shall force us.

Concluding Note:

The unscientific, unorganized and premature conclusion of 2017 Gorkha uprising has deeply lowered the self-respect and dignity of the entire Gorkha community. It may be difficult to reinstate our old glory in the foreseeable future unless we unite and stay united. For the first time, I feel insecure to wear a T-shirt that reads ‘I support Gorkhaland’ even in Kalimpong, not to talk of Siliguri.

For me ‘Entry of TMC into Darjeeling Politics is beginning of the end of Gorkha Political Aspirations’

[Originally posted on :]

GJM-Union Home Secretary Meet, Discuss Darjeeling Situation

9:06 PM
BREAKING: GJM-Union Home Secretary Meet, Discuss Darjeeling Situation

A meeting between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Union Home Secretary was was held today at the Chambers of Union Home Secretary at North Block in Delhi. The meeting was attended by Union Home Secretary and other MHA Officials on behalf of the government, and was lead by Mr. Lobsang Yolmo the former Gorkhaland Terrirorial Administration Chairman.

At the meeting, the GJM comprised of Shri Lopsong Yolmo, former Chairman, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Lt Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, former deputy chief executive, GTA, Smt Sarita Rai, MLA, Kalimpong as well as central committee members of the party including Shri R Moktan, Smt Urmila Rumba, Smt Bandana Yonzone, Smt Minu Bhutia, Shri Bishal Chettri and Shri Bishal Lama, and Shri Anand Bhandari was present as the legal advisor.

In a Press release, GJM has said the main points discussed were as follows:

 1.   Need for finding a political solution to the long pending demands of Gorkhas and other people of Darjeeling, Kalimpong District, Terai and Dooars region at the earliest
  2.  The semi-autonomous bodies, earlier the DGHC and now the GTA, were failures and that only a permanent political solution would answer to the perennial political problem in the region.
    The delegation requested the home secretary that Government of India immediately commence a series of tripartite talks between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which will pave the way for finding a permanent solution to the long pending demand of the Gorkha people.
 3.   Introduce a bill in the upcoming winter session of parliament for inclusion of the 11 Gorkha Tribes for ST status for the 11 left out Gorkha tribes – Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami, Yakkha and Dhimal into the Schedule Tribes of India list.
 4.   Constitute an Expert Committee to Study the Economic, Administrative and Political Viability of Gorkhaland State which will include the Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Terai and Dooars region
  5.  Create a conducive atmosphere in Darjeeling region so that proper dialogue could begin.
 6.   They said that an undeclared "police-raj" was imposed in Darjeeling, "where false and fabricated cases are/being slapped against anyone who is even remotely deemed of being supportive of the demand for Gorkhaland."
 7.   Transfer of all cases of bomb-blasts and arms recovery to the NIA, and has also sought an investigative inquiry under the Centre into all deaths during the Gorkhaland agitation.

    The union home secretary has inturn asserted that a fact finding team would be sent to Darjeeling and other places to look into charges of misuse of law and order machinary by the district administration and police.

The union home secretary further assured the GJM team that the home ministry would seek to hold a tripartite meeting after the Puja holidays. The meeting lasted for about a hour and was attended by other union home ministry officials.

Via The DC

NRC could threaten national security and start communal violence - Binay Tamang

12:52 PM
"NRC political game of BJP - could threaten national security and start communal violence in the country" - says Binay Tamang

GJM (BT) faction chief and the current GTA Board of Administrators Chairman Binay Tamang on Wednesday said that he would extend legal support to Assam’s Gorkha community if they were displaced following implementation of NRC.

He claimed, "of the 40 lakh people in Assam whose names have not appeared in NRC, nearly 1 lakh are Gorkhas."

“The NRC draft is not final. People whose names are not on the list can submit fresh applications. But even after that, if those whose names have been struck off do not get enlisted, then our party will extend all support,” said Binay Tamang.

He further added “NRC is a political game of BJP, which could threaten national security and start communal violence in the country. We abhor such political games”.

He alleged that BJP would also implement NRC in Bengal to displace not only Gorkhas but other minority communities in the state in order to make political gains.

[With inputs from Times News Network, file pic]

Via TheD

Congress Leader Labels Gorkhas as “Separatists, Anti-Nationals, Traitors, anti-India

9:09 PM
SHAME: Congress Leader Pawan Khera Labels Gorkhas as “Separatists, Anti-Nationals, Traitors, anti-India” – GORKHAS DEMAND UNCONDITIONAL APOLOGY

In another instance of humiliation meted out to the Gorkhas, Pawan Khera senior Congress spokesperson and former Political Secretary to Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit clubbed Gorkhas with Khalistan Separatists and went on to label the Gorkhas as “separatist and anti-nationals.”

The offensive comment was made by Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera in NDTV debate program Left Right and Center.

Reacting to the BJP accusation of Congress joining hands with Popular Front of India, which has been deemed to be a militant and extremist organization, Congress leader Khera started to count the alliances that BJP had made, and counting his fingers claimed, “Bodo, Naga, Gorkha, pro-Khalistan elements, IPFT in Tripura – six states in which you have joined hands with separatists, anti-Nationals, traitors, anti-India.”

This slur on the Gorkha community was immediately condemned on Twitter, by @BiswadeepTamang who wrote, ” @Pawankhera how irresponsible of you to equate the entire #Gorkha community with Khalistanis and Naga rebels. You are totally ill informed by Jyoti Basu and his brigades on what #Gorkhas in India stands for. Educate yourself, before you speak rubbish. @Nidhi”

He also uploaded the following screenshot to inform the ill-informed Congress spokesperson.

” @Pawankhera Read what Congress and the former PM Rajiv Gandhi had then said on Gorkhaland. October 15, 1986 India Today”

Another Gorkha twitteratti Dinesh Sharma who tweets under the handle @OyeKeta wrote,

“Dear @INCIndia, please clarify what your official @PawanKhera means by calling #Gorkhaland #Bodoland #NagaIssue anti-national conspiracy. Your politics of #appeasement and #MongoloidPrejudices has pushed democratic movements in the #NorthEast to the brink of extremism #Apologize”

Taking strong exception to the lies spewed on national TV, one of the most followed Gorkha twitterattis @DipendraDipzo wrote a series of tweets, among which he asked Pawan Khera to apologize,

“Hello half-informed idiot @Pawankhera APOLOGIZE ASAP. Since when Demanding statehood within the UNION of INDIA became Anti India?? Hello, @INCIndia @RahulGandhi make this moron @pawankhera to APOLOGIZE ASAP. You are a traitor, not us. Idiot.”

The outrage felt by all Gorkhas on twitter, is gradually turning  into a gradual movement to ensure that no one throws Gorkha name to muck again, as this tweet by @VaniraKhati states,

“In a moment of absolute brain freeze @Pawankhera labels Gorkhas as anti nationals. He cannot get away by tampering with our reputation thus. #CongressMustApologizeToGorkhas”

Following the intesne pressure put forth by Gorkha twitterattis, @Pawankhera issued an apology, in which he clarified, “Highest regard for Gorkhas and their valour. The words were dedicated to the RSS/BJP for their double standards on electoral alliances.”

However, Gorkha twitterattis want Pawan Khera to issue an unconditional apology for slurring the name of our community. As this tweet by @GorkhaCheli explained,

“U drew parallel with anti nationals. Named us along with Separatists. Called us Traitors. FYI, there is dedicated regiment of Gorkhas protecting our nation at the borders and thats why you are able to raise your voice in Studios with comfort.”

Another leading Gorkha twitteratti @sudlimbu tweeted,

“On what ground this ill informed ignorant @Pawankhera labelled us separatists and antinationals? Is demanding a separate state under UNION OF INDIA antinational? We condemn his malicious statement maligning our repute and seek his Apology ASAP”

Another twitteratti @mamathaparoy1 added,

“These kind of lies are misleading, and makes ones blood boil. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. The right thing would be to apologise to the ever loyal Gorkha’s, who are sent, first in every war.”

The support for Gorkhas is coming from others as @MarkKumar3 writes,

“We support Gorkhas demand for their own state separate from West Bengal. This @Pawankhera won’t learn like this. Teach him some manners in Gorkha style”

Time for Pawan Khera to issue a proper apology.

BJP Darjeeling MP lures Gorkhas with schedule Tribe bait

8:40 PM
Darjeeling: BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia has written to the Union tribal ministry pressing for inclusion of 11 Gorkha communities in the Schedule Tribal list, the move coinciding with the rural polls in the Bengal.
The letter written by Ahluwalia is dated April 25, 2018, but it was posted by Gorkha leader Roshan Giri on social media on Tuesday. The BJP had used the tribal card effectively in earlier elections.
The Darjeeling MP has justified his decision to write the letter now saying the term of the committee constituted by the Union tribal ministry to look into the demand ends in May this year.

"I request you to use your influence to take a decision on the 11 communities and direct constitutional amendment to include these communities in the ST list," Ahluwalia's letter to Jual Oram in Hindnd Himalachal Pradesh had already recommended the inclusion of the 11 Gorkha communities in the ST list.
The 11 communities demanding tribal status are Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami, Yakka (Dewan) and Dhimal.
The demand has popular support among members of the 11 communities who constitutes nearly 50 percent of the Gorkha population.
Although the BJP has been dangling the tribal card before the Gorkhas, actual progress has been slow.
Even though Ahluwalia's letter states that the committee's tenure will end in May this year, observers are sceptical given past records. "The letter has surfaced in public domain when Bengal is going for rural polls. Gorkhas constitute a sizeable population in the Dooars. The timing raises eyebrows," said an observer.
Bengal, Sikkim and Himalachal Pradesh had already recommended the inclusion of the 11 Gorkha communities in the ST list

GJM to support TMC in Dooars

7:15 AM

Darjeeling: In a major setback for the BJP, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Thursday announced its decision to forge an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in the forthcoming Panchayat elections, in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. This comes on the heels of Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP) also throwing its weight behind the TMC in Dooars for the rural polls. The day saw a core committee and working committee meeting of GJM at Bagrakote in Jalpaiguri, from where this new political equation has emerged.

"We have decided to forge an alliance with the TMC in the two districts of Dooars for the rural polls. We will support TMC candidates in some Panchayats and in our strongholds, we will field independent candidates. A four-member GJM team will be visiting Dooars soon, to negotiate with TMC on seat sharing," stated Suraj Sharma, GJM Spokesperson. GJM top brass, including president Binay Tamang, was present in the meeting. When questioned on why the GJM decided to leave the BJP fold, Sharma stated: "BJP has let down the Gorkhas. There arenumerous instances of this. They have never been serious about the Gorkhas and have just used us for securing seats during elections."

He further stated that while the BJP-led Union government had called for a report within 3 hours of the recent Ranigunj strife, it remained a mere spectator during the 2017 unrest in Darjeeling and the 104-day-long bandh. "Whereas Mamata Banerjee has helped restore peace and normalcy in the Hills. We want Dooars to benefit also," added Sharma. The GJM has strongholds in several areas of Dooars.

विमल गुरुङलाई मर्न दिन्न भन्ने भाजपा सरकार पनि विमललाई पाखा लगाउँदै विनयको पक्षमा! ।

7:14 PM

सिलगढी । लोकसभा चुनाउको ठीक एक वर्षअघि विनय तामाङ केयरटेकर रहेको गोर्खाल्याण्ड टेरिटोरियल एडमिनिस्ट्रेशन (जीटीए)- लाई केन्द्र सरकारले प्रायः १३५ करोड़ रुपियाँको आर्थिक गुच्छ दिइरहेको कुरा दिल्लीबाट पत्राचार गरेर लालकोठी (जीटीए सदर कार्यालय)-लाई सूचित गरिएको छ।

केन्द्रको भाजपा सरकार, जसले यतिका दिनसम्म गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चा प्रमुख विमल गुरुङको पक्षमा वकालती गर्दै आइरहेको थियो, -ले अचानक पहाड़को विकासको निम्ति १३४ करोड़ ९९ लाख रुपियाँको आर्थिक गुच्छ विनय तामाङ केयरटेकर रहेको जीटीएलाई दिइन लागेकोले राजनैतिक पर्यवेक्षकहरूले थरीथरीका अड्कलबाजीहरू लगाउन थालेका छन्। विनय तामाङको नेतृत्वमा रहेको गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाले केही दिनअघि मात्र भाजपाको नेतृत्वमा रहेको नेशनल डेमोक्रेटिक फ्रण्ट (एनडीए) छोडेको घोषणा गरेको थियो।

तर त्यसको लगत्तैपछि विमल गुरुङले मोर्चा अहिले पनि एनडीएको सहयोगी दल रहेको घोषणा गरे । प्रेस विज्ञप्ति जारी गरेर अनि अडियो र भिडियो क्लिप मार्फत पहाडका बासिन्दाहरूलाई सन्देश र शुभकामना दिनु बाहेक विमल गुरुङ अहिले पहाड़मा सार्वजनिक रूपले बाहिर निस्किन सकेका छैनन्। राज्य सरकारले यूएपीए लगायत आईपीसीका विविध धारामा मामिलाहरू दर्ता गरेकोले विमल गुरुङ सार्वजनिक हुनसाथै पक्रा पर्ने प्रबल सम्भावना छ।

यसैले तिनी अहिले भूमिगत रूपमा नै छन्। भूमिगत रहेर तिनले गोर्खाल्याण्ड राज्य गठनको पक्षमा वकालती गरिरहेको भए पनि पहाड़का मानिसहरूसँग तिनको सोझै अन्तरक्रिया हुन सकेको छैन। न ता तिनले जनसभा मार्फत पहाड़का मानिसहरूलाई सम्बोधन नै गर्न सकेका छन्। यस्तो स्थितिमा पहाड़का मानिसहरूको विमल गुरुङप्रतिको आस्था र विश्वासमा ह्रास आउन सक्ने सम्भावना राजनैतिक पर्यवेक्षकहरूको एउटा समूह व्यक्त गर्छन्।

अर्कोतिर राज्यको तृणमूल कंग्रेस सरकारले जीटीएका केयरटेकर बनाएका विनय तामाङले जीटीएका विभिन्न ठाउँको भ्रमण गर्दै छन्। भ्रमण मात्र नगरेर तिनले जीटीएका केयरटेकर नै भएर पहाड़मा शिलान्यासलगायत विकासका केही कार्यहरू शुरू गरेका छन्। यसै विकास कार्यहरू मार्फत विनय तामाङ पहाड़मा आफ्नो जनाधार बढाउन प्रयासरत छन्। विकास बाँडेर विनय तामाङले विमल गुरुङपन्थी मोर्चा नेता, कार्यकर्ता र समर्थकहरूको मन जित्ने प्रयास गरिरहेका छन्।

पहाड़का बहुसंख्यक जनता अहिले पनि गोर्खाल्याण्ड राज्य गठनको पक्षमा रहेको राजनैतिक पर्यवेक्षकहरूको एउटा समूहको दावी छ। तर गोर्खाल्याण्डका पक्षधर हुँदा हुँदै पनि पहाड़का केही नेता र जनता डरले, रहरले र करले विनय तामाङ नेतृत्वाधीन मोर्चालाई समर्थन गर्न बाध्य भइरहेका छन्। पहाड़को वर्तमान यस परिस्थितिबारे अगवत रहेको केन्द्रको भाजपा सरकारले एकातिर विमल | गुरुङलाई मर्न दिन्न भनेर अनि अर्कोतिर जीटीएलाई आर्थिक गुच्छ दिएर पहाड़का जनता र विनय तामाङको मन जित्ने प्रयास गरेको हुनसक्ने राजनैतिक पर्यवेक्षकहरूको अर्को एउटा समूह बताउँछन्।

स्रोत : हाम्रो प्रजाशक्ति

भाजपाले ममतासँग साटो फेर्न मात्र विमल गुरुङलाई प्रयोग ग-यो। – विनिता रोका

11:59 AM

28th March 2018

दार्जीलिङ, २७ मार्च। मोर्चा नेत्री विनीता रोकाले विनय तामाङ र अनीत थापालाई समर्थन जनाएको छन्। गत वर्षको गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनको बेला रोका गोर्खा जनमुक्ति नारी मोर्चा, दार्जीलिङ महकुमा समिति अध्यक्ष साथै प्रवक्ताको पदमा थिइन्। तिनी निकै दिनदेखि घरबाहिर थिइन् भने मंगलवार अचानक दार्जीलिङ प्रेस गिल्डमा पत्रकारहरूलाई सम्बोधन गर्दै तिनले विनय र अनीत गूटलाई समर्थन जनाइन्।

गत आन्दोलनको बेला पहाड़लाई भयानक अवस्थाबाट निकाल्न र जनतालाई बचाउन विनय तामाङ र अनीत थापाले उठाएको कदम प्रशंसानीय रहेको रोकाले बताइन्। १०४ दिनको पहाड़ बन्द र आन्दोलनलाई पहाड़को जनताले साथ दिएको हो भन्दै तर भूल नेतृत्वको कारण पहाड़को अवस्था भयानक भएर गएको हो भन्दै तिनले भावुक हुँदै पहाड़को जनता अनि शहीद परिवारसँग क्षमा मागिन्।

१०४ दिनको पहाड़ बन्द र आन्दोलनको कार्ययोजनाहरू केही नभएको बताउँदै रोकाले नेताको मोहम्मद बिन तुघलकको जस्तो कामले गर्दा पहाड़को जनताले दुःख पाएको अनि १३ जना शहीद भएको जनाइन्। भारतीय जनता पार्टीले बंगालकी मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यानर्जीसँग साटो फेर्न विमल गुरुङलाई प्रयोग गरेको अनि दार्जीलिङ पर्वतीय क्षेत्रको भयानक स्थितिप्रति केन्द्रको भाजपा सरकारले वास्ता नगरेको रोकाले आरोप लगाइन्।

बंगालकी मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यानर्जीले गोर्खाल्याण्डको मागलाई गणतान्त्रिक माग रहेको बताउँदै यो केन्द्र सरकारको अधीनस्थ विषय रहेको बताइसकेकी छन् तर केन्द्रमा भाजपाको पूर्ण बहुमतको सरकार हुँदाहुँदै पनि भारतीय गोर्खाहरूबारे यसले एक शब्द पनि नबोलेको रोकाले आरोप लगाउँदै अब आउने चुनाउहरूमा गोर्खाहरूलाई भाजपालाई भोट नदिने अपील गरिन्। ममता ब्यानर्जीले जीटीए सभा दिएको तर चलाउने मान्छेले चलाउन नजानेको तिनले भनिन्।

भारतीय जनता पार्टीले भारतीय गोर्खाहरूलाई सपना देखाएर त्यसलाई विपनामा परिणत गर्ने कार्य कहिले नगरेको र केन्द्रको भाजपा सरकारले पहाड़को जनतालाई लथालिङ् बनाएको र पहाड़को जनतालाई मान्छे गन्ती नगरेको रोकाले आरोप लगाइन् ।

आन्दोलनकालमा पुलिस-प्रशासनले शान्ति व्यवस्था बनाउन कदम उठाएको तर गणतान्त्रिक आन्दोलनप्रति कार्वाही नगरेको तिनले दावी गरिन्। विनय तामाङ र अनीत थापाले पहाड़ो जनतालाई सुरक्षा प्रदान गरेको, यदि तिनीहरूले यसो नगरेको भए पहाड़को अवस्था अर्कै भएर जाने तथा लाखौं मानिसहरू घर-परिवार अनि गाउँ छेडे जानुपर्ने अवस्था आउने थिया, तिनले भनिन्। आफ्ना कतिपय साथीभाइहरू स्वाभिमानको कारण घर फर्की आउन नसकेको बताउँदै विनीता रोकाले तर तिनीहरूलाई आफ्नो परिवार सम्झेर घर फर्किने आह्वान गरिन्।

स्रोत :  हाम्रो प्रजाशक्ति


6:36 PM
In another twist of events in already disturbed Darjeeling hill politics, Binoy Tamang, Chairman of West Bengal Government’s temporarily appointed GTA/Board of Administration, Darjeeling hills, announced GJMM’s withdrawal of support from BJP led NDA Alliance.

BJP had succeeded in winning West Bengal Darjeeling MP seat twice in 2009 and 2014 with the help of the then Gorkha JanMukti Morcha(GJMM) led by Bimal Gurung. However, the regional hill party has been on a roller coaster ride within the past one year. With Mamata Bannerjee led West Bengal Govt. forcing Bengali as a mandatory language in the hills, protest erupted and it turned into a Nationwide movement for Gorkhaland. With immense pressure and threat Gurung had to leave Darjeeling. Benefitting from his absence in the hills, Bengal Government succeeded in luring Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa and hence Binay, once Bimal Gurung’s right hand men, and his team backstabbed Gurung and joined hands with Trinamul Congress. They also had to face huge backlashes from public which still continues in the hills.

A statement released yesterday by GJMM(led by Bimal Gurung) has clarified that GJMM has been a constituent of the NDA since 2009, and will continue to remain the integral part of the NDA alliance. With all the twists and turns in the hill party, state seems hell bent on breaking Gorkha’s unity, however, public at large still support GJMM led by Bimal Gurung.

Binoy and his team are only seen as seasonal and temporary politicians intending to reap benefits out of the current situation in the hills by betraying the aspirations of the community in the name of development. It is reported that Binoy has managed to gain few local politicians and public support using state machinery and putting immense pressure on them.

“If GTA election is held now, Binoy or Anit will be thrown out” said an angry local Gorkhaland supporter. He is also alleged of distributing loads of cash to garner public support. “People will accept cash or food they distribute, but, we will never support Binoy and Anit because they have betrayed our community” said Sarad, a villager with grim face.“If Binoy or any of his men or TMC candidates contests MP Election, they will lose their deposit” said another person.

With GJMM divided into two fractions, public hurt and disheartened, it will be interesting to see how Long Binoy Tamang’s political career lasts.

Via Gorkha Voice

Binay Tamang faction Gorkha Janmukti Morcha quits NDA Alliance

7:44 AM
After accusing the BJP of betraying the trust of the Gorkhas, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on 24 March.

As reported by The Indian Express, GJM was upset with the statement of West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh that his party only had an electoral alliance with GJM.

GJM organising chief LM Lama said, “The claim made by the BJP, leader of NDA, that GJM is a friend and a constituent of the NDA and the slogan of PM Modi that the dream of the Gorkhas is my dream have all been exposed by the statement of the Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, who stated that the BJP only had an electoral alliance with GJM and that there was no agreement for a common political resolution. This statement makes it amply clear that the BJP is neither sympathetic nor sincere towards the Gorkhas,” The Indian Express reported.

Lama went on to say that it is well-known that GJM gave away the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat to the BJP in the 2009 and the 2014 Lok Sabhaelections. In 2009, GJM supported BJP nominee Jaswant Singh despite being unhappy with his performance. In spite of that the party supported BJP nominee SS Ahuluwalia in 2014 from the same seat.

Talking about how GJM has helped BJP in West Bengal, Lama told The Indian Express, “Darjeeling has been the political gateway to Bengal for BJP and this has been possible only because of GJM. For so many years the people had hoped that our issues would be addressed and resolved. However, BJP has only betrayed the people time and again. It is because of BJP that the hills of Darjeeling are today enveloped in an environment of mistrust and political disturbance.”

Talking about how GJM has not delivered on its promises, Lama spoke about the over 100-day long bandh. “Thirteen precious lives were lost during the 104-day long bandh. Hundreds were put in jail. Yet, neither the BJP MP of Darjeeling, nor the government in Delhi spoke a word on the issue. The home minister assured tripartite talks within 15 days of GJM withdrawing the bandh. It’s been more than six months now and the home minister has done nothing to redeem his promise.”

He went on to tell The Indian Express, “While the previous leadership of GJM worked as an alliance partner of the NDA, the new leadership has no contact or alliance with the NDA. As such, GJM under the leadership of Binay Tamang has nothing to do with the NDA.”

Bimal Gurung faction GJM Press release on quitting Alliance with BJP

11:42 PM
Bimal Gurung faction has released a press release denying Binay Tamang's  recent statement, claiming to be from GJM, that  Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has quit the NDA with BJP.

Here is the Press release:
A statement released by Binoy Tamang, the West Bengal government appointed GTA Chairman of the Board of Administrators, that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has quit the National Democratic Alliance is ludicrous, and does not reflect the official GJM stand.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been a constituent of the NDA since 2009, and we will continue to remain an integral part of the NDA.

I request all our party members to forewarn the people, and let the public and media be aware that any statement made by Binay Tamang, claiming to be from GJM, should not be given any credence. He is a West Bengal government employee, and does not represent the people of Darjeeling, nor the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

He may, if he so desires, release statements on behalf of the government he is serving - West Bengal, or the party he is serving - TMC, but he has no business whatsoever issuing statements on behalf of GJM, from which we have removed him on September 1, 2017 itself.
Bimal Gurung
President, Central Committee
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

Has BJP fallen out of favour with Gorkhas in Darjeeling?

2:52 PM

Writes: Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar [for LiveMint]

After enjoying its support for almost a decade, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have fallen out of favour with the Gorkha community in West Bengal’s Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency.

Following the visit of S.S. Ahluwalia, the BJP’s current member of Parliament (MP_ from Darjeeling, two key Gorkha parties said over the weekend that the party had failed the Gorkha community.

Ahluwalia, who is visiting his constituency for the first time since last year’s unrest over the demand for Gorkhaland, said on Saturday that he would protect fugitive Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung from “extra-judicial” persecution, pledging support for him and his movement. But the statement drew a sharp reaction from the GJM faction opposed to Gurung.

Binoy Tamang, the rebel GJM leader who is now in control of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, said it was “surprising” that Ahluwalia had committed to protect Gurung, a fugitive leader facing sedition charges, whereas he did nothing to fulfil the “long pending demands” of the community.

The BJP has “fooled” the Gorkhas twice to get elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling—in 2009 and 2014—but has given nothing in return, Tamang said, ruling out any possibility of allying with the BJP in the next general election.

Echoing him, Niraj Zimba, spokesperson for Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), said that the BJP had not fulfilled its promises to the community, but didn’t immediately rule out the possibility of backing it going forward.

Tamang has worked for Ahluwalia ahead of the 2014 general election, Zimba said, adding that his stand has now changed because he is himself fighting for survival. Asked about future alliance, Zimba said the GNLF will back any national party that supports its demand for greater autonomy under the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Since 1957, when the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency was created, the Gorkhas have almost always voted for a national party. For three consecutive terms till 2004, they even voted for the Communist Party of India (Marxist). In 2004, they elected a Congress candidate before allying with the BJP in the past two general elections.

Also, until now, the community has almost always been led by one dominant local party. But that is changing: amid shifting sands, the GNLF is staging a comeback following the division within the GJM. The GJM had a complete stranglehold on Darjeeling’s politics for a decade until the violent agitation last year split the party between Gurung and Tamang.

Following the 104-day strike, a lot of Gorkhas who had started to lean towards the Trinamool Congress joined GNLF, said key district officials, who asked not to be named.

A large number of GJM supporters too have quietly shifted allegiance to the GNLF, giving up on both Tamang and Gurung, they added.

“It is not immediately clear how the community will vote in the next general election, but there is no doubt that the BJP has to deliver something substantive during the current term to earn the trust of this constituency,” one of the officials said.

[Via: Live Mint, originally posted at:]


11:22 AM

BJP West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh Saturday said the party had never talked about Gorkhaland nor was it in favour of formation of states on the basis of any linguistic group or community.
“We had never talked about Gorkhaland. Didi (Mamata Banerjee) had signed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord. We are not in favour of creation of states on the basis of any linguistic group or community. We had said this earlier too,” Ghosh told reporters in Alipurduar.
“If states are to be created on the basis of linguistic group or community, we have to support everybody like Kamtapuris, Rajbanshis. They also demanded separate states. We don’t support this.”
“If states were created on that basis, others cannot live there. Assam has more Gorkha population than Bengal. What will happen there?” he asked.
The state BJP chief, however, said the Centre will look into whether any new state will be created or not. Asked that local BJP leaders had attended the meeting called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is spearheading the movement for Gorkhaland, he said “Only one leader had gone there due to political pressure in the hills”.
The GJM is an ally of the BJP.
On cases filed against GJM chief Bimal Gurung by the police, Ghosh said “Most of these cases are false. Such cases were also filed against me. I had challenged them to arrest me.” Ghosh held Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responsible for the current unrest in the hills.
“She had signed the GTA agreement. If she believed that GTA can usher in development then why was separate fund given to the district magistrate? Why were 11 development boards formed in the hills?” he asked and alleged that it was done to weaken Gurung and the GJM.
It would be easier for the Trinamool Congress to expand its organisation in the hills if Gurung is arrested, he added.

( news credit by wake up darjeeling )

Via: PTI

The Centre needs to seriously consider the demand for Gorkhaland

8:45 AM

The Daily Fix:

The Big Story: A Union of linguistic states

The hills of West Bengal have been in turmoil for the past week. The agitation started when Nepali-speaking Gorkhas began to protest against the decision of the Mamata Banerjee government to make Bengali compulsory in school. But given that the movement has continued even after Banerjee has clarified that the order will not apply to the hills, it points to deeper roots. On Tuesday, Gorkha parties – including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Gorkha National Liberation Front – got together to adopt a unanimous resolution calling for a separate Nepali-speaking state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of West Bengal. The resolution was even supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The separation of the Nepali-speaking areas of West Bengal is one of the oldest statehood demands in India – the issue came into existence almost as soon as the British transferred power to Indian hands in 1947. In this, the Gorkhas do not stand alone. The linguistic principle has been the basis of Indian politics for some time now. In 1920, as Mohandas Gandhi reorganised the Congress radically in order to transform it from a genteel talk shop to a vehicle for mass movement, he made sure to constitute the Congress’ provincial committees along linguistic lines rather than have them reflect the Indian provinces at the time, which were arbitrary and often reflected the history of British conquest. The message was clear: India was to consist of an union of language communities.

This message was given concrete political shape in the second decade after Independence, as India’s states were reorganised on linguistic lines. The arbitrary state of Bombay and Madras were split up into Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu lands.

Yet, in this reorganisation, the Gorkhas of West Bengal got left out. This step-motherly treatment was due to expedient political calculation. Unlike Marathis or Tamils, Gorkhas were too small in number to shake up New Delhi. Of course, Kolkata herself was loathe to give up areas that bought in valuable tea and tourist revenue, even if it ignored the character of West Bengal as a Bengali-speaking state. This anomaly has led to long years of neglect. Bengali politicians do not win elections from the hills and Gorkhas by themselves are too small to influence Kolkata.

In the 1980s, support for Gorkhaland exploded into terrible violence which scarred the hills. This forced some devolution from Kolkata. In 1988, West Bengal formed the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. In 2011, this gave way to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration with expanded powers. Yet, this is not only weaker than other similar autonomous regions such as the Bodoland Territorial Council but, of course, has powers that fall far short of a state government.

India’s principal of making states using languages might seem, at first glance, a divisive tool. However, it is the glue that has kept the Union together, balancing the multiple identities of citizens as both Indian and as members of their local language community. The example of the break up of Pakistan, which tried to wipe out the Bengali identity of East Pakistan, is a warning about the price that could be paid if linguistic nationalism is sought to be suppressed.

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 ]

Darjeeling unrest - Center committed to help Mamata Banerjee

9:37 AM


The Centre is not thinking of any direct intervention in Darjeeling at this stage and is committed to helping the Mamata Banerjee government if it seeks any assistance, a senior home ministry official told The Telegraph yesterday.

"At this stage, there is no question of sending any central team to Darjeeling.... Any interference in Bengal at this juncture will only snowball into a political row," the home ministry official said.

Yesterday, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had sought immediate intervention by the Centre.

Another home ministry official pointed out that law and order was a state subject. "We will offer our help if the Bengal government seeks the Centre's assistance," the official said. "We are not in a hurry to send a team to Darjeeling."

On the ground in the hills, the Bengal government took the battle to the Morcha by stationing police at the party's headquarters in Singamari and pushing its supporters out of their comfort zone - the first such move since the statehood agitation was reignited a decade ago in 2007. At the Darjeeling district magistrate's office - the hub of state government offices - sources put the attendance at nearly 90 per cent.

Normal life was paralysed in Darjeeling today following a strike call by tea unions, which was supported by the Morcha.

On the political front, the Morcha, which is spearheading the ongoing indefinite agitation, and the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which was at the forefront of the violent campaign in the 1980s, came together for the first time and decided to pursue the Gorkhaland cause.

A Union home ministry official pointed out that the Centre had refrained from intervening in Madhya Pradesh, where a farmer flare-up had killed six people last week, and in Uttar Pradesh that witnessed caste clashes last month.

The Centre had confined itself to asking for a report from the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh on the continuing violence in Saharanpur. Similarly, it had sought a report last week from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government on the violence in Madhya Pradesh.

"Likewise, we have also sought a report from the Bengal government on Darjeeling," the official said.

However, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the Centre had not sought any report. "The hills are peaceful and the Centre did not seek any report from the state," the chief minister said while leaving Nabanna this evening.

Sources in Calcutta said the state had been informed that six more companies of central forces would be sent for deployment in the hills. "It will help us to some extent. We had six companies of central forces in the hills but three of them were withdrawn and taken to Kashmir after the law and order situation deteriorated there," said an official.

The sources in Delhi pointed out that home minister Rajnath Singh shared a good rapport with Mamata and the Centre did not want to create an impression that it was trying to fish in troubled waters.

[Via: Telegraph]

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

Bengal’s Successive Rulers Responsible For Darjeeling’s Recurring Distress

9:03 AM

Writes: Jaideep Mazumdar

Successive regimes in Bengal have very loudly asserted the state’s claims over the 3,150 square kilometres of mountainous terrain popularly called the Darjeeling hills every time the demand for Gorkhaland reverberates through the hills. But such loud assertions have done little except further alienate the Nepali-speaking residents of the under-developed hills steeped in poverty and neglect. And successive rulers of Bengal have shown a remarkable insensitivity towards, and lack of understanding of, the aspirations, sentiments and needs of the simple folks of the hills.

It is this insensitivity and lack of understanding – further accentuated now with grave provocation from an unthinking and whimsical Mamata Banerjee – that has led to the demands for Gorkhaland getting stronger in the hills. And Thursday’s violence (8 June) in Darjeeling is one more episode in the seemingly unending saga of unrest that the hills has convulsed in periodically over the past nearly four decades now.

The trigger for Thursday’s violence was the Bengal government’s decision to make Bengali a compulsory language in all schools across the state. The announcement caused immediate ripples with the people in the hills voicing their strong protest against this imposition of Bengali. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which spearheaded a three-and-a-half-year-long agitation for creation of a separate Gorkhaland state from late 2007, led the protests and accused Mamata of trying to promote the Bengali language over Nepali.

Though Mamata announced earlier this week that schools in the hills would be exempt from the Bengali language order, the damage was already done. The deep distrust between the politicians of the plains of Bengal and the Darjeeling hills manifested itself with GJM chief Bimal Gurung asserting that Mamata’s announcement was not convincing and she was merely trying to hoodwink the people of the hills. The GJM announced a string of protests in the hills to coincide with Mamata’s visit to the area that started on Tuesday (6 June).

Mamata’s blasé presence in the hills was a red rag to the GJM, which has been facing a political challenge from Mamata’s Trinamool Congress. Mamata’s Marxist predecessors had preferred to stay away from the hills and allow the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which led a seven-year-long agitation for Gorkhaland state that ended with the signing of the Darjeeling Accord and formation of the semi-autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in August 1988, to be the unchallenged political force in the hills. But Mamata has been trying to expand her political footprints there since 2013 when the Trinamool Congress’ alliance with the GJM broke down over the latter’s decision to revive the Gorkhaland demand.

Failure of the DGHC and rise of GJM

The DGHC experiment was a failure since the then Marxist rulers of Bengal managed to co-opt GNLF chief Subhas Ghising and turned him into a local autocrat who kept demands for more autonomy in check for two decades. The DGHC also did not get its promised level of autonomy and funds, and the hills continued to remain under-developed and mired in poverty, disease and squalor. At the same time, Ghising and his men were allowed to loot whatever funds were allotted to the DGHC and enrich themselves at the cost of the hill people. Since Ghising was seen to be enjoying the patronage of the rulers sitting in Kolkata, the alienation of the hill people continued.

Two decades of Ghising’s dictatorship in the hills created a fertile ground for another revolt that was provided by, interestingly, the third session of the popular reality show Indian Idol. When Prashant Tamang, a native of Darjeeling working for the Kolkata Police started emerging as one of the top finalists (he went on to win the show), the people of the hills started identifying with him. Tamang represented the latent hopes and aspirations of the Nepali-speaking people of Darjeeling hills and their quest for recognition as a community with a distinct culture, language, history and ethos. Ghising didn’t attach any importance to Tamang’s feats, but his one-time lieutenant Bimal Gurung did and organised massive support in the hills and among the Nepali-speaking people across the country for Tamang.

Tamang’s win of the Indian Idol title boosted Gurung politically and in October 2007, he formed the GJM. The GJM became instantly popular in the Darjeeling hills and buoyed by widespread public support, Gurung launched the second phase of the Gorkhaland movement immediately. A series of bandhs, sit-ins, refusals to pay taxes and other peaceful modes of agitations continued. The Trinamool Congress, which was the principal opposition party at that time, supported the GJM and, before the 2011 assembly elections, entered into an electoral alliance with the GJM.

Formation of GTA and revival of movement

After sweeping the 2011 assembly polls, Mamata played the peace-broker and a tripartite agreement (between the GJM, the union government and the Bengal government) was signed in July 2011 to form the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) to replace the DGHC. The GTA was given more powers – administrative and financial – than the DGHC. The Bengal government promised to transfer many departments to the GTA. However, Gurung announced right at that time that the GTA was not an end in itself but a step forward to realising the dream of Gorkhaland.

The GJM won all the 45 seats of the GTA in the elections held in July 2012. But by then, relations between the GJM and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had already started souring, more so since the TMC contested the GTA polls. The TMC contesting the polls was looked upon by the GJM as a challenge to its suzerainty over the Darjeeling hills. Soon after taking over the GTA, the GJM started accusing Mamata of reneging on the July 2011 agreement and not transferring powers to the GTA. Matters reached a new low with Mamata and Gurung indulging in sharp verbal exchanges.

That the Bengal government didn’t deliver on its promises, as per the July 2011 agreement, to transfer control of many departments to the GTA and give the latter greater financial powers caused more rift between Mamata and the GJM. The GJM has been accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of going back on the agreement and making the GTA a lame duck body with little administrative and financial powers. Mamata, in turn, has been demanding political loyalty from the GJM as a precondition to delivering on the GTA agreement. She has reportedly sent many feelers to the GJM leadership promising all help if it severs ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But her overtures have been rebuffed.

The announcement of the formation of Telangana in July 2013 gave the Gorkhaland movement a fresh lease of life. The self-immolation of one Mangal Singh Rajput, a Gorkhaland supporter (he was of Bihari origin and his suicide proved that the demand for Gorkhaland cut across all ethnic lines in the hills), only intensified the movement. A series of indefinite bandhs followed, but the movement fizzled out due to harsh and often undemocratic administrative action against GJM leaders and supporters who were, on Mamata’s express instructions, incarcerated on various charges, many of them trumped up.

Mamata’s bid to capture the hills politically

Mamata stepped up her quest to gain political control of the hills. And she employed a variety of tactics, some quite dishonourable, for this. Using the district administration, which she packed with her loyalist police and administrative officials, Mamata continued her crackdown on the GJM and encouraged dissident GJM leaders and activists to join her party. She poured in a lot of money to strengthen her party in the hills and the Darjeeling unit of the TMC started taking on the GJM, which till then enjoyed unchallenged sway in that part of the state.

One of the primary reasons for Mamata’s deep animosity towards the GJM is said to be the latter’s alliance with the BJP, which helped the BJP nominee S S Ahluwalia win the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling. Some BJP leaders, including Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Sushma Swaraj, had voiced support for the Gorkhaland demand. Though the BJP’s stand on the statehood demand is ambivalent now, many senior leaders of the party are said to be sympathetic to it.

Mamata, in a bid to weaken the GJM, started wooing ethnic minorities in the hills, like the Lepchas, Bhutias and Tamangs, and formed separate development boards for them. Till date, 15 development boards have been formed for ethnic groups. “This is part of Mamata’s divide and rule policy to weaken the Gorkhaland movement. She is trying to create fissures within the Nepali-speaking people of the Hills,” GJM chief Bimal Gurung told Swarajya. Mamata has, till date, sanctioned Rs 280 crore for the 15 development boards, not a small amount for a cash-strapped state like Bengal.

Mamata also started wooing top leaders of the GJM who were unhappy with Gurung’s alleged autocratic style of functioning. She succeeded in getting a senior GJM leader, Harka Bahadur Chetri, to quit the GJM in 2015 and form his own party. Chetri, an influential leader from Kalimpong, however, lost the 2016 assembly elections from his native town (Kalimpong), especially since Mamata declared him to be the TMC candidate. Some other senior GJM leaders were also wooed into the TMC. But Mamata’s bid to gain political ground in the hills suffered a setback when her candidates in all the three hill constituencies of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong lost to GJM nominees in the 2016 assembly polls.

That setback, however, did not faze Mamata, who kept up her efforts to take on the GJM. She met with limited success in the civic polls held to the Mirik, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong municipalities. The TMC posted a handsome win in the Mirik municipality but faced ignominious defeats in the other three municipalities where the GJM-BJP combine retained power. Encouraged by the toehold she had gained there, Mamata continued her political blitzkrieg in the hills.

The fallout

The fall of Mirik to the TMC sent alarm bells ringing within the GJM, which saw the entry of the TMC as a grave challenge to its existence in the hills. The GJM realised it would face a battle for survival and could even be defeated politically if it did not take early steps to contain the growth of the TMC in the hills. The GJM faced an immediate threat in the GTA elections due a couple of months from now. And the best way to take on the TMC, figured the GJM leadership, was to revive the statehood movement. Gurung did so with his opposition to Mamata’s imposition of Bengali language in schools. This imposition fed on the Nepali-speaking people’s latent fears of being made subservient to the Bengali rulers from the plains.

What also provoked the GJM was Mamata’s presence in the hills throughout the week. Her presence was seen as a direct political challenge to the GJM. And as if to rile the GJM more, Mamata convened a meeting of her council of ministers at the Raj Bhawan in Darjeeling on Thursday (8 June). It was an ill-advised move since the Gorkhaland movement was once again picking up steam.

Ironically, the last time a cabinet meeting was held in Darjeeling was in 1972. And that time, too, it was held with the intention to prove that all was normal in north Bengal. The then chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray convened the cabinet meeting at a time when north Bengal had become the epicentre of the Naxalite movement that was sweeping through the state like a prairie fire. As Darjeeling Lok Sabha MP Ahluwalia pointed out to the Hindustan Times here, Ray had claimed that time that Bengal was normal and Mamata is also now claiming the hills are normal. “Both were far removed from ground reality. There was no need to hold the cabinet meeting in Darjeeling. She (Mamata) did so just to serve her political purpose of crushing the GJM,” said the BJP parliamentarian.

Mamata’s response to Thursday’s violence has been far from mature and nuanced. She retaliated, rather childishly, by withdrawing police security provided to Gurung. She also made good her earlier threat of conducting a special audit of the GTA’s finances. Coming from the head of a party whose leaders are being investigated for various scams and a cash-for-favours sting operation, the move to investigate the GTA’s finances in a bid to expose the alleged financial improprieties of GJM leaders was a bit too rich on Mamata’s part.

On Friday (9 June), she strutted around Darjeeling, where the GJM had called a 12-hour bandh, in an open but another ill-advised challenge to the GJM. The sight of the Chief Minister, hemmed by her security guards and party colleagues, walking around the town – she did it thrice in the course of the day – added fuel to the raging fire in the hearts of the hill people.

“It does not behove a person like Mamata who accuses the Modi government for being undemocratic, using the CBI for political purposes and violating the spirit of federalism to behave like a dictator in Darjeeling. How would she react if Modi were to walk the streets of Kolkata on a day the TMC calls a bandh in protest against some action by the union government?” wondered GJM chief Gurung. He also pointed out that whenever she comes to the hills, Mamata makes it a point to snub the elected representatives of the GTA, the GJM’s MLAs and even the Lok Sabha MP (Ahluwalia). “She never invites any elected representative from the hills to any state government or any other function in the hills. And then she talks about democracy,” said GJM leader Roshan Giri.

Mamata has already let loose her subservient police force and spineless civil administration officials on the GJM and many charges are again being drawn up against them. As the GJM is bound to harden its stance on the statehood demand, Mamata is also sure to step up her vendetta against GJM leaders and activists. And that will only cause more distress for Darjeeling.

Mamata would do well to catch up on the history of the hills. If she does that, she will realise that the Darjeeling hills became part of Bengal only in 1947. And ever since then, it has been administered very poorly. The hills have been starved of funds and kept under-developed. Extremely poor infrastructure, abysmal education and healthcare facilities, grinding poverty, criminal neglect of the hills by the powers-that-be in Kolkata and Bengali majoritarianism have totally alienated the simple hill folks.

Mamata would also do everyone a favour by looking at the economy of the hills. The two Ts – tea and tourism – are the mainstay of the hills’ economy. Darjeeling is Bengal’s prime tourist destination. But little has been done by successive governments in Bengal to preserve the scenic town and improve its rickety infrastructure. Even the roads of the town, which the British named the ‘Queen of the Hills’, would put the worst road in the most backward village of India to shame.

Tourism does not generate a lot of earnings for the locals. That’s because most of the hotels are run by Bengalis from the plains and locals find employment only as poorly-paid waiters and cooks. Many of the owners of taxis and SUVs that ferry tourists to and from the hills are Bengalis living in the plains. “What the hills people get from tourism is the little that tourists spend in buying mementoes and woollens,” said Giri.

As for Darjeeling tea, which fetches astronomical prices in international markets, the hill people are only employed as poorly paid labourers in the tea gardens. No local (Nepali-speaking resident of the Darjeeling hills) owns a garden and there are just a handful of Nepali-speaking managers running these gardens. All the profits made from Darjeeling tea are thus taken away to the plains and the hill people get little from tea.

A separate state of Gorkhaland, where Nepali-speaking people of the hills would be the real stakeholders, thus holds immense promise to the people of the hills. Gorkhaland is, for the hill people, not just a means to improve their financial and social lot but also to establish their identity firmly as Indians. “We are looked upon as migrants from Nepal, even though we have been Indians for generations. Gorkhaland will give us that identity as Indians,” asserted Gurung.

These are issues that Mamata, and her predecessors, have shown little understanding of. The Nepali-speaking people of the hills have quite often been looked down upon and treated as menials by the Bengalis from the plains. Mamata only reinforces the hills-plains psychological divide by trying to stamp her authority on the hills. And this is why the Gorkhaland movement will continue.

The history of the hills

Darjeeling gets its name from Dorji Ling, a Buddhist monastery built by the Denzongpas in 1765 on behalf of the Chogyal (King) of Sikkim. The roughly 3,150 square kilometres of territory that is called the Darjeeling hills today (comprising the hills section of Darjeeling district and the whole of the newly formed Kalimpong district) was alternately occupied by Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal.

In the late 1700s, Darjeeling hills was inhabited by a few hundred Lepchas and was held by Sikkim. But in the 1790s, the Gurkhas from Nepal started invading the area and they eventually defeated the combined Bhutia and Lepcha army of Sikkim. The invading Gurkha army also attacked and sacked Sikkim’s then capital Rabdentse and annexed the Darjeeling hills.

After the defeat of the Gurkha army of Nepal in the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814-1816), Nepal’s rulers were made to sign the humiliating Treaty of Sugauli by which one-third of Nepal’s territory, including Kumaon, Garhwal, Nainital and the Darjeeling hill tracts that were annexed from Sikkim, were ceded to the British. In February 1817, the British returned the Darjeeling hill tracts to the Chogyal of Sikkim under the Treaty of Titalia under which Sikkim became a British protectorate and extended many other facilities to the British.

In February 1829, a dispute arose between Nepal and Sikkim over their borders and the then British governor general Lord William Bentinck sent two officers – Captain George Alymer Lloyd and J W Grant – to mediate between the two kingdoms. On their way to the disputed border at Ontoo Dara, the two officers halted at what they wrote in their memoirs was “the old Gurkha station called Dorji Ling” that was then populated by about a hundred Lepchas. The two were “much impressed with the possibility of the station as a sanatorium”. In June 1829, both Grant and Lloyd urged the government to acquire Darjeeling hill tracts.

Governor general Bentinck agreed with them and also realised that the Darjeeling hills offered strategic advantages as a military outpost and trading hub. The deputy surveyor general, Captain Herbert, was deputed to Darjeeling to examine the area. The court of directors of the British East India Company approved the project. General Lloyd was given the responsibility to negotiate a lease of the area from the Chogyal of Sikkim. The lease was granted on 1 February 1835. The British paid a handsome compensation to the Chogyal of Sikkim in return.

After taking over Darjeeling, the British appointed a physician, Arthur Campbell, as their agent there and one Lieutenant Napier was deputed to lay the foundations of the hill station. The sanatorium was set up in 1839 and Campbell became its first superintendent. A road connecting Darjeeling to the plains was constructed the same year.

Campbell is also credited with bringing Chinese tea seeds in 1841 to grow tea on an experimental basis near his residence at Beechwood in Darjeeling. The experiment was successful and within a decade the British started setting up tea plantations in the hills. They set up many schools, which went on to become the best institutions in this part of the world. The setting up of tea and cinchona plantations, the construction of the railway line and roads and other construction activities brought in migrants from Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan who eventually settled down in the Darjeeling hills.

Within a few years, however, the Chogyal of Sikkim got into a dispute with the British, and the latter simply annexed Darjeeling hills and made it part of their Indian dominion in 1850. The British also acquired Kalimpong and the Dooars area of North Bengal from Bhutan after defeating the Bhutan king in the Anglo-Bhutan war (1864-1865) and making the latter sign the Treaty of Sinchula. These areas were clubbed with Darjeeling to form the Darjeeling district of the British India province of Bengal. Darjeeling became part of West Bengal in 1947. Thus, it is clear that Darjeeling was never historically part of Bengal and all the dynasties, including the Nawabs and vassals of the Mughal emperors who ruled over Bengal from the medieval times, never exercised any control over the Darjeeling hills.

Tragedy of the hills

Much like the state of Bengal, the tragedy of the Darjeeling hills is that its best and brightest go away in search of better education and prospects to other parts of the country and even abroad. This brain drain has led to the social, economic and cultural degeneration of Darjeeling. “The best students don’t stay back in Darjeeling after school. And once they go away, they never return. There are no jobs and business prospects here,” said a prominent educationist in Darjeeling who did not want to be named.

This brain drain has also caused an unfortunate intellectual vacuum in the hills. “Had there been opportunities here, bright people would have stayed back and would have provided political leadership. Our present political leadership leaves a lot to be desired,” said the professor who taught English at a very reputable college in Darjeeling. He alludes to the rag-tag bunch of GJM activists and the lumpen that make its cadres. He also recounts the many allegations of corruption and malpractices against the GJM leadership and says that had the political leadership been in the hands of the educated and accomplished people of the hills, the statehood movement would have taken a much different and successful turn by now.

The people of Darjeeling point to Sikkim, which has flourished and emerged as a front-ranking state in the country on many fronts. Darjeeling, they contend, developed much before Sikkim and had much greater potential to emerge as a prime tourist, business, organic, education and healthcare hub. Staying within Bengal, they contend, has ruined Darjeeling. “Darjeeling could have been what Sikkim is today,” rued David Lepcha, a prominent tour operator in Darjeeling. His regret finds resonance across the hills. Bengal’s politicians would do well to introspect why.

Via: Swarajya

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