Showing posts with label featured. Show all posts
Showing posts with label featured. Show all posts

Raju Bista reminds Narendra Modi of Permanent Political Solution and other issue of the region

7:31 PM
JUST IN: MP RAJU BISTA MEETS WITH PM MODI TO DISCUSS VARIOUS ISSUES OF THE REGION

Darjeeling MP Raju Bista today met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss various issues concerning Darjeeling, Terai, and Dooars.
Raju Bista reminds Narendra Modi of Permanent Political Solution and other issue of the region

Here is the full press release from the Office of MP:

Today, I met Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji to discuss various issues concerning Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars. I thanked him for his continued guidance and unflinching support he has extended to me over the years.

I informed him about the immense love and trust people of our region, and North Bengal have towards his leadership, and told him how the people of Darjeeling LS Constituency had elected a BJP Member of Parliament for the 3rd consecutive time. I told him about how people in Bengal need BJP to get rid of TMC and their oppressive regime in the 2021 elections.

Among other things, we discussed my learnings and observations about the region and the challenges I have faced as the Member of Parliament representing one of the most prestigious seats in Eastern India.

I informed Modi ji about the sensitive Chicken Neck region and the significance of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars from our national security perspective. I also informed him about the discrimination people here have had to face over the decades, and the absolute lack of development in the region. I apprised him about the potential of our region to become one of the most peaceful and prosperous in the nation.

In order to ensure long term peace and ushering in prosperity in the region, I have requested his intervention with regards to arriving at Permanent Political Solution as committed to in our 2019 Sankalp Patra. I also reminded him about the pending ST issue of 11 left-out Gorkha tribes and requested him to help expedite the process.

Given that majority of our people are dependent on Tea and Cinchona plantations for their livelihood, I appraised him about the rapidly declining tea industry and the need to rejuvenate the entire industry. I also requested him to ensure the protection of forest dwellers, and the culture, traditions, lifestyle, and language of indigenous communities from our region.

I informed Modi ji how Siliguri acts as a gateway to North East India and South East Asia and drew his attention to the immense potential of Siliguri to emerge as the hub of international trade, tourism and commerce. I informed Modi ji how decades of neglect have left the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Chopra and rest of North Bengal deprived of basic infrastructure and amenities; and requested for his help to transform our region.

Modi ji acknowledged the importance of peace prevailing in the Chicken Neck region and told me that the Government is equally concerned about resolving the issues of the region. On his advice, I will be taking up these issues with Hon’ble Home Minister Amit Shah ji soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Gorkhaland, a demand whose time has come

5:12 PM
Gorkhaland, a demand whose time has come: Demand of the sons of the soil and the myths that tarnish the movement

When Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of Ladakh gave one of the most passionate, factual and heart-breaking accounts of how Article 370 had kept the people of Ladakh deprived, discriminated against and treated as a second class citizens, he forced people across India and the world to take note. Far away from Ladakh from where he belongs, or Delhi where he was giving his speech, people in the Eastern Himalayan region of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars were glued onto their TVs. For us here in Darjeeling region, Jamyang wasn’t just describing the pathos of Ladakh, he was resonating each and every sentiment that we the people aspiring for Gorkhaland statehood have felt and lived through in West Bengal.
Gorkhaland
Gorkhaland 

‘Gorkhaland’ the very name evokes strong sentiments – from a motley crew of passionate supporters to very dedicated gang of opposers, to a vast majority of well-meaning but clueless neutrals who irrespective of their understanding of the issue or absolute lack of it, comment on it passionately.

Trying to explain the nuances of the demand for a ‘Gorkhaland state’ individually is very difficult, which is why it is imperative to explain the finer details of Gorkhaland demand in detail.

I am basing this article on a Q and A format so that everyone reading the article will find it easy to understand the issue in depth.

Everyday Identity Blues:

Curious stranger: Hi! You look a little strange…Where are you from? Nepal?

Me: India

Curious stranger: Let me guess… North East

Me: Darjeeling

Curious stranger: Oh! It’s in Nepal no?

Me: No, it’s in West Bengal

Curious stranger: Nice! So you are a Bong? Do you speak Bengali?

Me: No, I am a Gorkha, and our lingua franca is Nepali.

Curious stranger: Huh! So you immigrated to India?

Me: No, I was born here

Curious stranger: When did your family come to India?

Me: We didn’t immigrate, we came with the land. We are indigenous to the land.

Curious stranger: Like… seriously?

Me: Yeah! Like very very seriously.

On and on, every day we the Gorkhas have to face one set or other of these series of questions. Our children and youth who have to leave home for study and work grow up with this “crisis of identity” where we have to assert and reassert our Indian-ness day in and day out.

In the plainest of terms, the demand for Gorkhaland state is an attempt on the part of people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars to do away with this “crisis of identity” that Gorkhas across India have and have had to face and to assert our Indian Identity. So when Jamyang spoke of the people of Ladakh wanting to become Indian for over 70-years, we here in Darjeeling absolutely understood what he meant. He was, in more ways than he knew to narrate our plight.

I hope the following series of Q and A will help many of you understand the demand and its implications.

Is ‘Gorkhaland’ a demand for separation from India?

Foremost, let us all be clear about one thing – the demand for Gorkhaland is not a demand for separation from India. It is a demand for the formation of a separate state within the constitutional and geographical contours of India. Much like how Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh, Telangana were formed, people living in Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars have been demanding the formation of a separate state called Gorkhaland, away from West Bengal.

What areas are being demanded as Gorkhaland?

The aspired Gorkhaland region comprises of the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and parts of Alipurduars and Jalpaiguri.

Is there any historical context to these particular areas being demanded as Gorkhaland?

The History of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is distinguished by one peculiar aspect – it has always been in a state of flux. Given its geostrategic location, this region was a hotly contested landmass between Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Tibet. For centuries the dominant kingdom among these four took control of this region.

From 1662 until 1777 this region was under the Kingdom of Sikkim; however, in 1777 Nepal Army had defeated the King of Sikkim and established their dominance in this region. In 1816 the British Army defeated the Nepal Army, after which they took over and handed over these lands to the King of Sikkim as a gesture of friendship.

In 1835 the Brits took these lands on lease from the King of Sikkim to establish a sanatorium but ended up establishing their military garrison here. By the year 1866, the British had annexed the present day of Kalimpong and Doors from Bhutan following the defeat of Bhutan in the Anglo-Bhutan war of 1865, they then added this newly annexed area to the existing Darjeeling district – which we today know as Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars.

It is these areas that never shared any history with Bengal, which the people here are demanding to be formed into a state called Gorkhaland.

Who are Gorkhas in the Indian context?

The ‘Gorkhas’ in the Indian context are Indian citizens of Nepali ethnicity, who live across the length and breadth of India. The term ‘Gorkha’ in the Indian context is used to differentiate the Indian citizens of Nepali ethnicity from the citizens of Nepal, who prefer to be called ‘Nepalese.’

Did the Gorkhas immigrate to India?

Majority of the people who identify themselves as ‘Gorkhas’ in India are sons and daughters of the soil, and their forefathers ‘came with the land.’ They did not immigrate to India. However, it is well recognized that there are many immigrants from Nepal, who have also settled in India, post-independence.

What do you mean by ‘came with the land’?

The Nepali kingdom in the 17th and 18th Century was spread all over the Himalayas. In the year 1777, Nepal had appropriated the Kingdoms of Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra. However, following the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-1816, Nepal agreed to cede most of the Terai region, the lands of Sikkim, Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra to the British through the Treaty of Sugauli (Sugauli Sandhi), which was signed on 4 March 1816. After the Anglo-British war of 1865, the British appropriated the lands that are today known as Kalimpong and Dooars. Therefore, all the people of Nepali, Sikkimese, Tibetan and Bhutanese origin who were living in these tracts automatically came under the British and subsequently under India (after the British left), hence the term – ‘came with the land.’

Were there ‘Gorkhas’ in Darjeeling region prior to the British coming to India?

Recorded history shows that the region was inhabited as early as the 9th century. When Guru Padmasambhava had passed through this region in the 9th century, he had established Buddhism in the region – which indicates the presence of people living in the areaway, before the British ever landed in Asia.

In the Indian context, the word ‘Gorkha’ is an umbrella term used to identify a varied group of people, as one unified entity. In terms of Darjeeling communities such as the Róng – Lepchas, the Tsong – Limbus, the Kirat – Rai, the Dukpas, the Bhutias and the Magars are the aboriginal/ethnic/native people of the region, who constitute a large chunk of the ‘Gorkha’ people living in the Darjeeling region. Hence, it can be safely said that the majority of the ‘Gorkhas,’ who belong to these communities and are living in Darjeeling, ethnic to the region.

In addition, other groups of people such as the Gurungs, Thapas, Chettris, Newars, Sunwars, Bahuns, Kamis, Damais, Sarkis, Bhutias, Thamis etc, traversed these lands for trade or settled here following wars. For instance, the establishment of the Kingdom of Sikkim in 1642 brought in a large Bhutia population from Tibet and Bhutan into the region. Similarly, the Nepali incursions starting from as early as the 1700s brought many present-day Nepalis to the region.

While kingdoms changed, the people remained.

Over centuries the people from this region could be broadly categorized as – Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Dukpa, Tsong, Rai, Magar of the hills, and Nepali, Dukpa, Koche (Rajbanshi), Meche, Rabha, and Toto of the plains.

Later Adivasis were brought in from Chota-Nagpur plateau to work in the tea gardens of Dooars, then Bengalis and another mainland Indians gradually came and settled in the region.

Around the 1890s the dominant Nepali-Bhutia-Lepcha groups subsumed the rest of the hill tribes into their fold and a unified identity “NeBuLa” was used to define the hill people. In Darjeeling, this gradually metamorphosed into the term “Gorkha”.

Hence, one can safely concur that the ‘Gorkha’ presence far supersedes the British arrival in the region.

It is important to note that today, the term ‘Gorkha’ is used to indicate people who are from this region – which today includes everyone from Bengali Gorkha, Bihari Gorkha to Marwari Gorkha etc.

When was the demand for Gorkhaland first raised?

The first demand for a separate administrative unit for the Darjeeling-Dooars region (a la Separate State in today’s term) was first raised by the Hillmen’s Association in 1907, making the demand for a separate state constituting the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars region the oldest demand for statehood in India.

Why did the British not entertain this demand?

The only reason as to why such a demand was not entertained by the then British Government is because the Darjeeling and Dooars region was a highly contested geographical region which they had taken on lease from Sikkim and Bhutan. The British had declared our region to be a “non-regulated area”, which meant that the rules and laws developed for the rest of India would not be automatically applied to the region.

What historical claims does West Bengal have over the Darjeeling-Dooars region?

Ironically None! There is no shared history between the Darjeeling-Dooars region and the rest of West Bengal.

Historically, the district of Darjeeling never formed a part of Bengal and no King who ruled the plains of Bengal ever had any suzerainty over those areas. Ethnologically, the Mongoloid and semi-Mongoloid races inhabiting the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars have more affinity with the Hill tribes of Assam than with the people in the plains of Bengal. Geographically the district of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar are completely cut off and distinctly different from the rest of West Bengal. Linguistically, the people residing in this region have a greater affinity with Hindi, the Lingua Franca of India, than with the state language Bengali

Why is Darjeeling a part of West Bengal?

Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars were forcefully included into West Bengal without any consultation with the local populace using two flimsy acts enacted by WB Legislative Assembly:

The Requisitioned Land (Apportionment of Compensation) Act, 1949 (51 of 1949). Darjeeling District – transformed to the Absorbed Areas(Laws) Act, 1954.

The West Bengal Raw Jute Futures Act, 1948 (West Bengal Act No. 25 of 1948)

Why are people in Darjeeling demanding Gorkhaland?

The demand for a separate administrative unit (a separate state in today’s term) for the Darjeeling region had started as early as 1907. However, the influx of Bangladeshi refugees starting in 1965 and later state-sponsored illegal immigrants from Bangladesh post-1971 for vote bank by subsequent West Bengal governments led to the marginalization of the ethnic Gorkha, Kamtapuri and the Adivasi communities of the region. The demand for Gorkhaland is a demand to protect the identity, culture, history, traditions and the rich bond of people from the Darjeeling region, which they share with their land.

Furthermore, the Gorkhas from the Darjeeling region have continued to be labelled by the fascist and state-sponsored Bengali organizations such as Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samity, Amra Bangali, Jan Jagaran Morcha, Jan Chetna Morcha as illegal immigrants and the demand for Gorkhaland illegal. They have rendered the ethnic Gorkha people as an intruder in his/her own ancestral lands. This has caused widespread socio-economic and political marginalization of the Gorkhas. All these factors have resulted in the Gorkhas being under-represented, stereotyped and communally discriminated in almost all sectors.

Moreover, Bengal has always been colonial in its approach to this region. The large revenues collected from the Darjeeling region have been used to develop other parts of Bengal while neglecting even the basic infrastructure in the region.

Case in point: Since the year 2002, over 3000 malnutrition-related death (death due to starvation) have been reported from the tea gardens of this region and yet the West Bengal government has not taken any steps to alleviate the sufferings of the people in the region. Instead, they have continued to deny the tea garden workers minimum wages.

Is the proposed Gorkhaland region economically viable?

The proposed Gorkhaland region is rich in bio-diversity, scenic views, hydro potentials, tourism, NTFP, Tea and numerous other resources, making this a resource-abundant region.

Currently, the aspired Gorkhaland region contributes to the least 20-23% of the total revenue collected in West Bengal. Even the most conservative estimates put the revenue potential from tea, tourism and hydro from the proposed Gorkhaland area at over 20,000 Crores per annum. In return, West Bengal only spends around Rs 5000 crores in the region annually (including salary paid to Govt officials). Thus, draining off a large portion of the revenue collected from the region.

It is estimated that the revenues from Tea and Tourism alone will make the proposed Gorkhaland region a revenue surplus state.

The revenues collected from hydro development, NTFP, cross-border trades and other resources will make the proposed state of Gorkhaland as one of the most economically vibrant states in India.

What is Chicken Neck region and how will Gorkhaland impact the National Security or our nation?

Darjeeling district is home to the proverbial “chicken neck” region, a roughly 200-km stretch which borders four nations — Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet — in distances varying from 25 kms to 60 kms. It has seen a large-scale influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, which started as a trickle in 1965 and turned into a gushing torrent post the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, that lead to the creation of Bangladesh.

The ‘Siliguri Corridor’ has today become one of the most porous border regions in the world, and Pakistan’s ISI has used this to operate its agents freely. In fact, in 2002, the writer Pinaki Bhattacharya had highlighted how the ISI was using the ‘Siliguri Corridor’ as a supply route to provide arms and ammunition via Bangladesh to insurgents in the North East. Following investigations into the Burdwan bomb blast, in May 2015, the National Investigating Agency released a report that explained how Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) had networks in West Bengal and lower districts of Assam, and that JMB had been using West Bengal as a safe sanctuary.

Given all this, if there is one state in India which is actually a safe haven for terrorists, it is West Bengal, and if the state government was capable of addressing national security concerns, it would have done so a long time ago. The presence of ISI modules and terrorists of the various ilk in Bengal actually prove that the state government in Bengal isn’t able to protect the vulnerable “chicken neck” area.

One possible reason for this could be that the state capital and its power centre, Kolkata, is located too far away from the region, because of which the state administration isn’t able to focus much on the north Bengal districts.

A state of Gorkhaland, including the hills of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars, would, therefore, help ensure better safety and security for the “chicken neck” area. Smaller states are also easier to govern and the presence of the entire state machinery being in one region would help keep close tabs on infiltrators, unlike what is possible out of Kolkata.

Why is West Bengal opposed to the formation of Gorkhaland?

The state of West Bengal is one of the most economically backward states in India. Even though it is the 5th largest in terms of its size, but due to the high debt burden of over Rs. 4.35 lakh Crores, West Bengal is practically bankrupt and is highly dependent on the Central Government and the revenues generated from the proposed Gorkhaland region for its sustenance and economic survival.

So despite all the rhetoric stating, “Darjeeling is Bengal’s Abhinno Aanga,” Bengal is scared of losing its hen, which is currently laying the golden eggs. It is scared of losing the cash cow that has continued to discount the development of Bengal’s other regions over and over since independence.

Further, Bengal has always held a parochial, colonial and discriminatory attitude towards the proposed Gorkhaland region and continues to do so. Every time the Gorkhas have demanded justice or our rights, we are labelled as intruder, terrorists, and foreigners in our own land.

Hence the urgent need for Gorkhaland state to be formed.

We are hopeful that someday soon, our Member of Parliament from Darjeeling will also be able to speak with the same passion and emotion that Jamyang Tsering Namgyal did and tell the nation how the formation of Gorkhaland state or Union Territory will benefit mother India.

** This article was written by Mr Upendra Mani Pradhan, a Darjeeling-based Political Analyst [Twitter: @jorebungley] and co-authored by Dr Vimal Khawas, an Associate Professor in the Dept of Peace and Conflict Studies, Sikkim University [Twitter: @vimalkhawas]

[ Via: https://www.opindia.com/2019/08/gorkhaland-a-demand-whose-time-has-come-demand-of-the-sons-of-the-soil-and-the-myths-that-tarnish-the-movement/ ]

Understanding NRC: A Politically Neutral Perspective

8:27 AM
Writes: Phinjo Wangyal Gurung

"Writing is not just a form of divertissement but a healing process that soothes a perturbed and stressful mind, rejuvenates your spirit, and brings you back to life."
National Register of Citizens of India
National Register of Citizens of India - Wikipedia

An atmosphere of dubiety seems to have taken over the hills ever since the announcement that once BJP forms government at the center it will Implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India. People are muddled about how NRC will affect the Indian Gorkhas in real time. Contrary to the popular belief, NRC will have a definite impact on the Indian Gorkhas unless certain conditions and safeguards are met. Here in this small write up I will try and dissect NRC from a political neutral viewpoint bringing out only those facts that are related to NRC along with its implications on the Indian Gorkhas once implemented.

What is NRC?
The National Register of Citizens is a register containing the names of all the genuine Indian citizens, it was first prepared in 1951 for Assam. NRC draws its power from the Citizenship Act of 1955 and the Rules framed therein. The main objective of preparing the register is to identify illegal immigrants as foreigners and deport them back to their countries.

Issues Related with NRC
(1) The Question of Immunity
After the publication of the first draft of NRC in Assam last year about 40 lakh people were identified as illegal migrants and were excluded from NRC for various reasons, including some 1,50,000 Gorkhas, despite the fact that BJP had promised that Gorkhas living in Assam would not be excluded. Amit Shah recently made a similar promise from Kalimpong that the Gorkhas living in Darjeeling Hills will not be excluded from NRC. With BJPs protracted and strained history of breaking the Gorkhas trust and faith, only time will tell if he is really going to walk the talk this time.

Once excluded from NRC, the person ceases to be a citizen of India. He will no longer be entitled to the rights guaranteed to an Indian Citizen under the constitution and law including the right to vote. The implementation of NRC should not be taken daintily, it is an issue of profound importance with far-reaching consequence as the fate and citizenship rights of lakh of India Gorkhas is at stake here. Immunity, therefore, becomes a matter of paramount concern for all the Indian Gorkhas.

The question now arises as to why about 1,50,000 Indian Gorkhas were excluded from the register in Assam (similar exclusion can happen in Darjeeling) despite the fact that NDA government had assured them that Gorkhas living in Assam will not be touched by NRC. The answer to this question lies in the Citizenship Act of 1955.

It should be noted that NRC draws its power and authority from the Citizenship Act of 1955, therefore, any question of Immunity can only be granted through an act of Parliament by amending the Citizenship Act . Verbal assurances given at the time of the election in the election manifesto, which itself has no legal support is inutile.

The NDA Government had brought a Bill i.e. Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 which had granted immunity from being declared an illegal immigrant to persons belonging to Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, and Sikhs coming from Bangladesh and Pakistan, however, the said Bill did not mention Indian Gorkhas.  To add insult to injury the Bill did not see the light of the day and died its natural death in the Rajya Sabha. For an Ordinary Bill to be passed into a law it has to be passed by both the houses of the parliament with a simple majority. BJP led NDA still does not have the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Although it commands an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha it is still a minority in the Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha is BJPs Achilles Heel. This is the reason why the names of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam were struck of the National  Register on some flimsy grounds. Despite lofty promises being made the promises were not backed by law. As the commitment lacked legal support it could not be implemented therefore the fate and citizenship rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in Assam still hangs in limbo.

A similar situation is brewing up in Darjeeling, only verbal assurances have been given by the party president. The Bill as it stands today, still does not specifically mention ” Indian Gorkhas”. Even if somehow the party manages to include Indian Gorkhas in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, there is no guarantee that the Bill will pass as BJP is a minority in Rajya Sabha and does not command enough support to pass an Ordinary  Bill in one go. Therefore implementing NRC in Darjeeling without specific legal immunity to the INDIAN GORKHAS is suicidal.

(2) Documentation and related matters
It has been found that the names of many persons in Assam were dropped from the draft NRC only because of minor differences in the spellings of Bengali names into English in different documents.  Several instances were encountered where a single letter variation, for example, “Omar” and “Onar”, was enough to rule that a person was a foreigner. I now ask how many of us in Darjeeling are not facing similar problems? How many of us have all their and the names of their family members correctly spelled in all their documents? To be honest I don’t. If that be the case my name along with the names of my family members will be struck off the NRC if implemented.

Likewise the rural unlettered are typically vague about their date of birth. A person could be excluded from the register if he/she told the NRC tribunal 40 when the documents recorded to be 42.

Rural uneducated women are especially in danger of exclusion from the citizenship register.  Most of them have no birth certificates, are not sent to schools and are married before they become adults, therefore, by the time their names first appear in the voters list these are in a different village where they live after marriage, which is different from those of their parents. They are told by the NRC tribunal that they have no documents to prove that they are indeed the children of the people they claim are their parents. There were cases in ASSAM of being excluded from the citizenship register on this ground alone.

(3) Opaque Process
NRC empowers the Assam police to identify anyone it suspects as foreigners and illegal migrants. How many of us can repose 100% faith and vouch that the police force works with impeccable integrity? If the police are granted such wide powers don’t you think that such power can be abused? Anyone can be picked up by the police on flimsy ground and be declared a foreigner anytime.

The police have also been empowered to refer the cases to a Foreigners Tribunal(FT). It has been alleged that the Tribunals are not presided by judges but by lawyers and in some cases by persons with no legal knowledge, who were appointed by the party.

Moreover, it has also been alleged that the police and the presiding officers in FTs( foreigners tribunal ) work just to fulfill the targets that are set by the party and not to dispense justice.

Not to mention the enormous amount of money one needs to spend fighting these legal cases in the Tribunals proving ones citizenship once declared a foreigner or an illegal migrant under NRC.

(4) The Question of Double Jeopardy
Article 20(2) of the constitution guarantees to every citizen the right not to be prosecuted and punished for the same offense more than once as a fundamental Right. But this principle has been waived off for Foreigners Tribunals(FT). It has been found that even after an FT had confirmed a citizen of India another FT and at times the same FT can again send notice to the same person to prove his citizenship once again. This is a direct violation of Article 20(2) as guaranteed by the constitution of India.

With the entire burden of proving citizenship on one’s shoulders and the arbitrary and opaque multiple forums to which one will be summoned, people deprived of education and resource will be caught in a maze of bureaucratic red tape from which they will find it hard to emerge. There are indeed few parallels in the world where the state itself produces statelessness on the scale and manner that it is doing in Assam and soon in the Hill areas of Darjeeling. Political parties advocating NRC in Darjeeling should exercise caution and do so only after an in-depth analysis of ground realities, after taking into confidence all the stakeholder without which the future and Citizenship Rights of thousands of Indian Gorkhas living in the area could be jeopardized once and for all.

Via The DC

Shiva Thapa 1st Indian to Assure 4th Straight Asian Boxing Championships Medal

6:26 PM
Shiva Thapa 1st Indian to Assure 4th Straight Asian Boxing Championships Medal

Bangkok: Shiva Thapa (60kg) secured himself an unprecedented fourth successive medal, while veteran L Sarita Devi (60kg) made the semifinals for the first time in nearly a decade to continue India's stupendous run at the Asian Boxing Championships here on Tuesday.

In all, eight Indian boxers -- four women and four men -- advanced to the medal rounds on day two of quarterfinals.

The 25-year-old Thapa defeated Thailand's Rujakran Juntrong in a one-sided lightweight (60kg) contest. He prevailed 5-0 and has a tough semifinal lined up against Kazakhstan's Zakir Safiullin, a silver-medallist from the 2015 edition.

Thapa had won a gold in 2013, a bronze in 2015 and a silver in the 2017 edition of the marquee continental event. He is the first Indian to achieve the incredible feat.

In the women's draw, former world champion Sarita, who last reached the Asian semis back in 2010 and ended with a gold, defeated Kazakhstan's Rimma Volossenko in a split decision to advance.

Former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen (51kg) too booked her maiden semifinal berth at the tournament, beating Kazakhstan's Nazym Kyzaibay in the quarters.

Last edition's silver-medallist Manisha (54kg) also secured herself at least a bronze by defeating Filipino Petecio Zzaa Nice, while former national champion Simranjit Kaur (64kg) edged past a gritty Ha Thi Linh of Vietnam to make the last four.

Joining Thapa in the men's semifinals were Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg) and Ashish (69kg).

Ashish Kumar got the better of Kyrgyzstan's Omerbek Uulu Behzhigit in a unanimous verdict, while his namesake trounced Vietnam's Tran Duc Tho 5-0, displaying an impeccable counter-attacking game.

In the evening session, Satish out-punched Korean Kim Dohyeon, an exhausting showdown that left the Indian with a cut above his right eye.

Thapa, who is also a former world championship bronze-medallist and a two-time national champion, opened the proceedings for India and got busy immediately.

The Indian had a spring in his step as he went about dismantling his clueless opponent.

The technically superior Thapa also seemed to have added some more power to his punches and an aggressive streak which his rival found tough to deal with.

Ashish, on the other hand, was locked in a messy contest with Bekzhigit but was clearly the more accurate of the two boxers, finding favour with all the five judges.

Sarita also endured a draining contest against Volossenko but the veteran from Manipur raised the bar when it mattered to move ahead.

The performance in the championship is a turnaround of sorts for the 37-year-old, who ended without a medal at the world championships in Delhi last year.

However, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Naman Tanwar (91kg) bowed out after losing his quarterfinal bout to Jordan's Hussein Eishaish Iashaish 0-5.

In the women's draw, it was curtains for Nupur (75kg) after she went down to North Korean Pak Un Sim in her quarterfinal bout.

Source: NEWS18

Brief historical trajectory of Darjeeling-Duars region and the need for a permanent political solution

10:17 AM
On April 8, 2019, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its 48 pages electoral manifesto with regard to Lok Sabha Election 2019, has immense significance for the Darjeeling Duars region. Page 36 of the manifesto talks about political resolution on the matter of Gorkha and with two important highlights:

  • Recognition of the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes. We are also committed to implement the reservation in the legislative assembly of Sikkim for Limboo and Tamang Tribes.
  • Commitment to work towards finding a permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling hills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars region.
Both the commitments have been, by and large, well appreciated, welcomed and positively taken by the Gorkhas, Rajbansis and Adivasis residing in the region.  
BJP Election Manifesto 2019 – sections relevant to Gorkhas and Darjeeling region
BJP Election Manifesto 2019 – sections relevant to Gorkhas and Darjeeling region

While the first commitment on the Gorkhas has found place in the national manifesto of BJP for the first time, the second commitment is not new to the Gorkhas and other groups. BJP has been committing and recommitting on the very critical second issue for the last three Lok Sabha Elections.

Recognition of the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes

BJP’s clear commitment to recognize the 11 left out Indian Gorkha sub-tribes as Scheduled Tribes has found its place in its national manifesto for the first time, although the process has been under consideration for the last five years under the BJP led government. It has been long overdue as the West Bengal state cabinet approved granting of ST status to 11 Gorkha sub-tribes before the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and sent it to the Centre for consideration and approval. The Union ministry for Tribal Affairs constituted a high powered committee in 2016 which had visited Darjeeling as well as Sikkim and met representatives of the various sub-tribes namely Bhujel, Gurung, Magar, Rai, Khas, Newar, Jogi, Sunwar, Yakha (Dewan), Thami and Dhimal. Gorkhas are yet the formally hear any concrete decision of the Government in this regard. The commitment by the BJP in its manifesto on this issue is, therefore, a welcome step.

Permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling hills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars region

BJP for the third time has recommitted for finding a political solution to over century old regional political aspirations of Darjeelinghills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars.However, this time, BJP has taken a holistic/inclusive approach towards Darjeeling constituency, as against the last two manifestos of 2009 and 2014 where BJP stated that 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” The last two approaches were, therefore, people specific and little communal in nature.  
This time the approach is region specific and therefore inclusive and more holistic in its nature. We should remember that other social groups besides Gorkhas and Adivasis also inhabit the constituency.  The term ‘Political Solution’ needs to be read, understood and internalised in proper perspective.
Historical trajectory of Darjeeling-Duars Region and the need for a permanent political solution
The second commitment of BJP is more critical at this juncture needing further debate and clearer ways forward. Towards that end, it is cardinal that we carefully navigate the historical trajectory of the region. This becomes important for our consumption as well as for guidance of the politicians and policymakers to make informed decisions while they attempt to find a permanent political solution of the issues at hand with regard to the historical and current political realities of the region.
Histories of Darjeeling-Duar region unfold the fact that the geopolitical situation in the region had (have) never been stable. The region passed through a number of vulnerable positions and different events in history, each having marked effects in the region and its people.

Political History

Politically, Darjeeling-Duars never belonged to West Bengal. The region was ruled by Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal. This has been admitted by the Government of West Bengal in a White Paper published in 1986.
The most important year in the history of the region happens to be 1642 when the first Chogyal (Bhutia king) of Sikkim, Phuntshog Namgyal was consecrated. Once in power the Namgyal had to face numerous rebellions from people who were already living in the region. The toughest resistance to the Chogyal came from three communities Lepchas, Limbus and Mangars, out of whom the Mangars were beaten and pushed westward.
The Chogyal then entered a sacred treaty popularly known as lhomen-tsong-sum (lho-Bhutias, men-Lepchas, tsong-Limbus, and sum-three), thus giving us the Bhutia-Lepcha-Limbu trinity. This is the bedrock on which the kingdom of Sikkim was formed.
The three Himalayan Hillmen – Lepcha, Nepali and Bhutia, 1880s
The three Himalayan Hillmen – Lepcha, Nepali and Bhutia, 1880s

 Based on available historical records, the political contour of Darjeeling and Duars may briefly be summarized as under:
PeriodPolitical Events
Priorto 1706The present district of Darjeeling and Duars were part of the Kingdom of Sikkim
1706Kalimpong hills along with the adjoining Duars were annexed by Bhutan.
1777Darjeeling along with its adjoining hills (Kurseong) and adjacent Terai (Siliguri) was appropriated by the Gorkha kingdom from the Kingdom of Sikkim.
1816Sugauli Treaty signed between East India Company (EIC) and King of Nepal, handing over Darjeeling region to EIC.
1817Treaty of Titaliya signed between East India Company and King of Sikkim, through which EIC returned Darjeeling region to the Kingdom of Sikkim.
1835Darjeeling along with its adjoining hills (Kurseong) was leased to British India by the King of Sikkim
1850The adjoining Terai (Siliguri) was taken over by British India and included in Jalpaiguri District
1865Kalimpong hills along with adjoining Duars were annexed by British India and included in Jalpaiguri district
1866The hills of Kalimpong were included in Darjeeling district leaving the Duars under Jalpaiguri district
1880Siliguri was taken out from Jalpaiguri and included in Darjeeling district, according the district its final shape
1905The district in the present shape (including Kalimpong) was included in the Bhagalpur Division, Bihar (Undivided Bengal)
1912The district was included in the Rajshahi Division under British India  (now in Bangladesh)
After 1947After the independence, the status of the district was ambiguous and in fact locals were not sure if Darjeeling was part of India or East Pakistan (see the news clip below).
1948Sikkim’s king claimed for the return of Darjeeling tracts but the Government of India ignored the claim.
1956Government of India enacts The Absorbed Areas (Laws) Act, 1954 (Act XX of 1954), and Darjeeling was ‘absorbed’ into west Bengal without any consideration of local sentiments.
Ambiguity surrounding Darjeeling saw Pakistani flag flutter in Capital Hall for 5 days. 
[Source: Barun Roy, 2003, Fallen Cicada]
The forceful absorption of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars in Bengal has caused and continues to cause the indigenous population of this region grave problems.
Up until 1971, this region was home to predominantly three major groups, the Gorkhas – which is an umbrella term to identify all the Indian nationals who are ethnically Nepali or whose lingua franca is Nepali (Lepchas, Bhutias etc), the Rajbanshis and the Adivasis. Though there were Bengalis living in this region, they were only handful in numbers.
However, following the India-Pakistan conflict of 1965, a large influx of refugees from Bangladesh started to enter north-Bengal, and this trickle turned into an ocean of refugees following the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971. Supported by successive governments of West Bengal as their ‘vote bank’, there have been a huge influx of people from Bangladesh into north Bengal, thus changing the entire demographics of our region significantly, and the original people of the region – the Gorkhas, the Rajbanshis and the Adivasis have ended up becoming minorities in our own lands.

Administrative History

Administratively, the district of Darjeeling was never included in the mainstream development process till the independence of India. It was always treated as a special region administered directly by the Governor General. 
Broad administrative profile of Darjeeling district may be summarized as under:
PeriodAdministrative StatusRemarks
Prior to 1861Non Regulated AreaActs and Regulations did not come to force unless specially extended to it. The Governor General possessed the power of adopting legislation by means of executive order.
1861-70Regulated AreaActs and Regulations normally applied in the district
1870-74Non Regulated Area  Acts and Regulations did not come to force unless specially extended to it. The Governor General possessed the power of adopting legislation by means of executive order
1874-1919Scheduled DistrictNormal legislation and jurisdictions were in force only in part or with modification if necessary of any enactment in force at a time.
1919-1935Backward TractThe district was excluded and declared a “Backward Tract” and administration was under Governor in Council. Any act passed by Bengal government wouldn’t be applicable to Darjeeling district unless the Governor in Council approved it.  
1935-47Partially Excluded AreaNo Act either of the Federal Legislature or of the Provincial Legislature was to be extended until and unless the governor of the province would give his assent to application of the Act in its entirety or with such modifications or exception as he thought necessary. Further the governor was empowered to make regulations and the regulations thus made could annul any federal or provincial or Indian law in existence in case their non-conformity to the relations thus made.
Post Independence1956Merged into West BengalThe Absorbed Areas (Laws) Act, 1954 (see Schedule 5) apportioned and merged the district into the state of West Bengal
1988-2010Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)DGHC Act of 1988 led to the formation of an autonomous council consisting of the three hill subdivisions of the district and some mauzas of Siliguri Sub-Division for the socio-economic and cultural development of the hill areas of the district.
2011- till dateGorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA)GTA Act of 2011 led to the formation Gorkhaland Territorial Administration consisting of the three hill subdivisions and some mauzas of the district for the socio-economic and cultural development of the people.

Struggle for Administrative Status

It is pertinent to recollect that the Gorkhas (inclusive of Nepalis, Lepchas, Bhutias), Rajbanshis and Adibasis residing in Darjeeling-Duars region of Northern West Bengal with diverse and rich history have always felt neglected and deprived and have been demanding a separate state within the constitutional framework of India since 1907. They have raised the issues of how their resources including tea, cinchona, forest, water and biodiversity have been exploitatively harnessed by the Bengal Government without extending them any major development benefits. They have highlighted issues of identity and culture and gradual uprooting of the indigenous people from areas like Siliguri by the steadily increasing large-scale migration from Bangladesh.
The setting up of a new politico-administrative units in the forms of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration  (GTA) and their poor functioning in the last 30 years has further confirmed their fear that the State Government is consciously neglecting them and that they have been kept out of the mainstream development process.
Chronology of demands made by the Gorkhas may be summarized as under:
YearOrganisation /PartyPrimary Demand
1907Leaders of the Hill MenSeparate administrative set up
1917, 1929Representatives of the Darjeeling districtCreation of a separate unit of Darjeeling & dooars of Jalpaiguri or the creation of NEFP consisting of Darjeeling, dooars, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
1930Hill People’s AssociationExclusion from Bengal and be treated as an independent administrative unit with DC as an administrator with much more power than the DM along with the executive council for assistance of the administration
1934All India Gorkha LeagueInclusion of Darjeeling and the dooars of Jalpaiguri in the province of Assam
1947Communist Party of India, District Committee, Darjeeling.‘Gorkhasthan’:  A separate nation comprising of Nepal, Darjeeling district and Sikkim excluding the present north district  
1949All India Gorkha League  ‘Uttarakhand’ which could be formed on the following areas: Darjeeling, Sikkim, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar or Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar or Darjeeling district and Sikkim or Darjeeling district alone
1954, 1957, 1967, 1968All India Gorkha League  Regional Autonomy- Autonomous administrative set up of Darjeeling and neighbouring districts with Nepali speaking people in majority.
1980-88Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)Separate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri District
2005Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)Inclusion of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) under Sixth Schedule of the India Constitution.
2007-11, 2013Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM)Separate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Districts
2017Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, entire Indian Gorkha Community and Global Gorkha DiasporaSeparate state of Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling district and the dooars region of the Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar Districts
It is, therefore, clear to assert that the district of Darjeeling and Dooars had been kept outside the purview of general administration and that it remained more or less isolated throughout the greater part of British rule in India.  One can, also, safely assert that throughout the British rule the rulers on any occasion never allowed the district of Darjeeling to come within the national mainstream and within the purview of the general administration.
Considering the political and administrative history of Darjeeling-Duars, one often wonders why this region has been kept within the administrative preview of West Bengal in the first place?
In this connection, it is important for the larger public to understand that among other relevant factors for the state re-organisation, State Reorganization Commission considered language & culture and financial viability important. However, both of these factors were overlooked and Darjeeling-Duars was merged into West Bengal with high level of politics played by BC Roy and the then congress party [see Politics of Autonomy: Indian Experiences (2005) edited by Ranabir Samaddar].
The region was merged into West Bengal without any consultation with the Gorkhas, Adibasis and other people living in the area during early 1950s and against the will of the larger population residing in the region.
Absorbed Area Act (1954) also sheds light on the issues of the absorption of Darjeeling district in the West Bengal. There was also a very strong lobby to form a state called ‘Uttarakhand’ consisting of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch-behar that eventually did not fructify.
Therefore, the very idea that Darjeeling-Duars being an integral part of West Bengal and the fake cry of ‘banga bhanga hobena’ often publicized by Bengalis and Bengal Government has no teeth. It is unfounded, illogical and just an emotional ‘rhetoric’. BC Roy and his team treacherously merged the region into West Bengal without consulting the vulnerable, gullible, peace loving Gorkhas, Rajbanshis and Adibasis in the 1950s.
The Gorkhas, Adivasis and Rajbanshis now want to de-merge the region from West Bengal and have our own governance.
A permanent political solution – in the form of a State or Union Territory would indeed go a long way in rectifying the historic wrong.
Via The DC
 
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