Tripartite talks on GTA on 5th January

8:17 AM
Writes: Vivek Chhetri

The Union government has decided to convene a tripartite meeting among the central and state governments and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in New Delhi on January 5 to discuss various provisions of the memorandum of agreement of the GTA.

Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, today said the party had received a letter from A. Jain, director, centre-state relations, ministry of home affairs, informing the organisation of the January 5 meeting which would be chaired by Shailesh, additional secretary (C-S), at the North Block in New Delhi. "We will be raising a number of issues at the meeting," said Giri.
Tripartite talks on GTA on 5th January
GJM delegation with Rajnath Singh
The officials of the GTA have also been invited to the meeting.

Implementation of a three-tier panchayat system in the hills will be one of the issues the Morcha will raise at the talks. "According to our information, the Centre has agreed in principle to implement a three-tier panchayat system for the GTA area. They want us to suggest a name for the body," said Giri.

Giri said the Morcha would also demand the transfer of 396 mouzas in the Terai and the Dooars to the GTA at the tripartite talks. Other issues like absorbing ad hoc employees into the GTA, transfer of reserve forests to the GTA, granting tribal status to hill communities, setting up a central university and complete transfer of departments will also be taken up at the talks.

The Morcha said it wanted the Centre and the state to explore the possibility of providing tax waiver, incentives and subsidies to the GTA area.

Source: Telegraph

Gorkhaland and the Curse of Political Invisibility

10:16 AM
Writes Mouli Banerjee

I have the first thirty seconds of introduction to a new person, more often than not, well-rehearsed by now. I pronounce my name the way it was intended, receive a blank look, smile and say “Call me Molly.”

They ask, “Are you from Kolkata?”

“No,” I say, “I’m from Siliguri,” *wait for three seconds* “… near Darjeeling.”

At this point, depending on who I am talking to, the response is sometimes, “In Assam?” Sometimes, “I know Siliguri. I went to Sikkim *insert number* of years back,” and once in awhile, “Ah, nice tea.”

On one rare occasion, a then-stranger, who later went on to become a close acquaintance, said, “The tastiest bananas in the Kolkata market come from Siliguri!” That one was new for me, and I haven’t heard it again since.

Living away from home for as long as I have, one realises that in a country like India, people from other parts find it easier to perhaps arrange their cultural imagination by reducing you or your cultural baggage to the closest ‘signifier’. And yet, being a Marathi isn’t as easily reductible to hailing from Mumbai, being a Punjabi to hailing from Chandigarh, or even being Tamilian to be from Chennai. Not the way being Bengali implies hailing from Kolkata. This begs the question of the degrees of cultural hegemony that are at work here, and whether there are political and social implications to it.

Being born and brought up in North Bengal, I know that not only do we speak in a dialect and intonation different from that heard in Kolkata, but we also have a slightly different cuisine, and often, a different set of cultural and political memories. Most Bengalis in North Bengal, for example, carry with them a generational memory of the turbulent 1970s in a way that is not much talked about in cultural representations of the period. Only a few kilometres away from Siliguri is a place called Naxalbari (from which the ‘Naxalite movement’ gets its name), and without knowing the political implications of it, we celebrated Charu Majumdar’s birthday every year in morning assemblies at our convent school. There are many implications of a possible cultural hegemony that the idea of “Kolkata” serves to exercise, but this article tries, in brief, to understand the specific political implications of such hegemony, with reference to the Gorkhaland movement.

The demand for a separate statehood for the Hills of Darjeeling and the surrounding Tarai region arose in the 1950s. The rising resentment resulted in violent conflict in the mid-1980s, when under the leadership of Subhash Ghising, the militant Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) took charge of the movement. The violence increased, with the use of illegal arms with which the youth in the Hills were politically mobilised, and reached its peak in 1988, at which point the Government of West Bengal conceded in order to come to an agreement with the GNLF through diplomatic talks. This part may be familiar to a few, who have perhaps read the mildly biased account of the movement in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.

In 1988, a tripartite agreement between the GNLF, the State government, and the Government of India was signed. The compromise, which allowed the creation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and the granting of citizenship to pre-1950 settlers, worked for two decades, but the demand for a separate state continued.

This resentment has huge political implications on the development of the entire region. The GNLF boycotted the Lok Sabha elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999. When the movement saw a resurgence in 2006, with the coming to the forefront of the the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), under the leadership of Bimal Gurung, it effectively tried to construct a new, singular Gorkha identity, and supplemented it with a cultural attire and a unified language (which many historians have questioned). However, this resurgence gave away to one of the movement’s most violent moments, when on May 21, 2010, Madan Tamang, the leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), was hacked to death in broad daylight by a group of unidentified men. The case is still sub-judice at the Kolkata High Court.

What needs to be shed light on, though, is how this turmoil, and the demands that come with it, have been conveniently boxed in and sanitized by the state administration for decades, and how, because of that, the entire region didn’t see much development till after 2006. Since 2009, the Lok Sabha constituency of Darjeeling has been the only one in West Bengal to have been won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (which otherwise is not politically a strong contender in the state) twice in a row, each time on the promise that if elected to the Centre, the representative shall push for a separate Gorkhaland. None of it has amounted to anything because the region or its demands do not yet find adequate space in the nation’s political imagery.

I would like to, at this point, clarify that this is not a post in favour of the demand for a separate state, but I hold that position mainly because I believe administering governance here would be rather difficult owing to the geographical location of the region, the strategic security concerns, as well as the consequent lack of resources. Yet, at the same time, one cannot deny the truth in the primary reason for the resentment- that the state, and its administration not only does not acknowledge the cultural difference of the region, but also, over decades, has in many ways actively played a role in dismissing its importance.

Interestingly, the Government of West Bengal has, in the recent years, ceremoniously created a ‘Ministry of North Bengal Development’, which has not achieved much. In this context it is important to note that North Bengal provides an otherwise industrially lacklustre state two of its chief sources of revenue- tourism and tea. It is further important to note that the ethnic communities that demand political attention are not just the Gorkhas, but also the tribal communities that call the foothills their home. Mostly tea garden workers, these people have lived for almost thirteen years in abject poverty since the tea gardens started shutting down around 2002, suffering from severe hunger and conditions which the World Health Organisation standards classify as famine-indicative. Between 2002 and 2007 the region has seen more than 1000 hunger-related deaths, and it was only in 2015 that the state government offered them a meagre relief package. Administrative control over the region of North Bengal is still an issue fraught with contentions, and attention is only paid to it when the state elections loom close. This was at display when on December 19, 2015, Kalimpong was declared a separate district, and a nod towards Mirik being made a separate district was hinted at as well.

This brings us back to the personal experience of cultural Othering of an entire unique geography, that I began with. This political attention showered on the region, at moments close to elections, is made starker by its own absence during the interim.  What persists in that lull is a constant sense of either dismissal of the cultural Other, the ethnic minority in the state, or conversely a case of insidious co-opting, where in many Bengalis, in a much off-handed manner, will refer to the entire region as “our hills”. At which point, not only is it important to be alert enough to catch that cultural hegemony and shoo it away, but also go back to the truth in historicity, for the “hills” have never truly belonged to anyone. The district of Darjeeling as it currently is mapped within the Indian republic is an amalgamation of two territories- one that belonged to the princely dominion of Sikkim before it became a part of India, and other that belonged to the Bhutanese kingdom. Infact, even before becoming a part of British India, the land changed political hands repeatedly. It was annexed from Sikkim by neighbouring Nepal in 1780 and, from 1780 to 1816, ruled by Nepal, then added to the British Empire in 1817 and then handed back to the Sikkimese royalty, and then acquired as land again from Sikkim in 1835 and officially became British dominion. Thus, while the arrogance of owning and suppressing the political imaginary of an entire geography comes easy to a community that has, for long, enjoyed the advantages of cultural stereotypes in this country, it is crucial to recognise, that unless one sheds one’s own hegemonic lenses, one cannot expect the rest of the country to sit up and take notice.

Did Subash Ghisingh foresaw the crack within the Gorkha communities

8:02 AM

.9th April 2005 – Letter sent to Sri Kunwar Singh (Chairman National Commission for ST,Govt of India, New Delhi )

Writes: Seetam Thakuri

I would like to expressed my thanks and gratitude for granting scheduled tribe status to “Tamang” and “Limbu” of India which was done vide Govt. of India Gazette Notification no 10 dated New Delhi the 8th January 2003. However, this action of govt. of Indian has created confusion, controversy and ill feeling among others Gorkha Tribes like “Khambu ( Rai)”, “Gurung”, “Mangar”, “Newar”, “Khas (chhetri)”, “Baahun (Brahman)” and other tribes etc who followed same language culture and religious beliefs and all of them including “Tamangs” and “Limbus” come under “Bonbo” (worshipers of stones, river, trees, deities etc) and as such grave injustices have been done to these above other left out tribal communities. 

This matter were already discussed in the 2nd round tripartite review meeting on Memorandum of Settlement of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council dated 28th Jan 2005 at Round Table Conference Hall of Union Home Ministry under the chairmanship of Shri Dhirendra Singh, Union Home Secretary at New Delhi. 

I would, therefore on behalf of DGHC, request you to consider the above case for granting Scheduled Tribe status to all the members of the other left out Gorkha communities as a special case.

With Regards, Yours Sincerely, Subash Ghisingh, Administrator of DGHC.

When the politics of Tribalism started deepening its root in the hills of Darjeeling, Subash Ghisingh could clearly foresee the fragile crack within the gorkha communities, he could clearly sense the crack that would divided Gorkha communities into various categories like General, ST, SC and OBC’s; The Hill Tribes that were once unified as Indian Gorkha for a common goal of “Gorkhaland” a state that would provide their identity in India, is now seen dividing and willing to walk individually for the status of Scheduled Tribes in India. 

When the politics of tribalism started getting its momentum in Darjeeling hills; and by that time DGHC had emerged as a weak administrative setup having no real executive or legislative power, further Subash Ghisingh had realized that the grant of statehood was not forthcoming, however, strong constitutional guaranteed setup was required to fulfill the aspiration of Hill people. It was then we saw the political swing of “Sixth Schedule”, the swing that shifted the politics of Gorkha Hills, thus, adding the new terminology in politics of Darjeeling. 

He then advocated that all gorkha communities should be granted the status of Scheduled Tribe in India referring to the census of 1931 which had shown all gorkha community as “Backward Tribes” under the banner of “Hill Tribes” during the British Raj in India. Further he knew it clearly that, if Gorkhaland is to be achieved than all gorkhas should stand united at any cost, therefore, we could see the sharp shift of Ghisingh’s politics to Sixth Schedule, so that the Indian gorkha may “exist together” united in one banner of “Gorkha as a Tribe (ST)”. 

Technically to qualify for the status of Sixth Schedule the percentage of tribal community do plays the vital role, hence, he started urging all gorkha community to move towards tribalism, further he believed Darjeeling which was once a part of “Gorkha Kingdom” now “Nepal” promoted Hinduism and declared Nepal as a Hindu kingdom so as to keep their national unity intact, in a process of which all gorkha tribes happened to forget their original “Bonbo culture” and became more inclined towards the Hinduism. 

Hence he promoted the celebrations of Bonbo utsav, sansari puja, Jhakri puja every year, temples were made where only stones representation of gods and goddesses were kept, Jhakri were appointed as the priest in these temples, Iron Pillar were worshipped during vishwakarma Puja in chowrasta; though many thought it to be an idiotic act, however the sense of tribalism was essence of these act.

He used to say we cannot behave civilized and ask for the tribal status, we need to show it by our action, hence the crazy act of the Governor of WB seeking blessing from Jhakri and Boju devata was clearly seen in the inauguration ceremony of Nightingale Park in Darjeeling, during those days Union Ministers in Darjeeling were welcomed by tribal dance and blessed by Dhami Jhakris ! 

Moreover, if we closely see, we gorkhas, have complex culture and tribal character with our own practices, we recognize the existence of spirits and worship nature, believes in Boju Devata, Jhakri, Ban Jhakri,; we perform Nya ko puja, Udawle Ubawle, sansari puja, ban devi puja etc. we also have appetite of gundruk, kinima, ban tarul, ghar tarul, simal tarul, iskus-ko-jara, jar, tongba… such culture and religious practices are typically tribal in character, even the British did recognized the fact and declare people of Darjeeling as Hill tribes during British Raj.

He was also of the opinion that only facility given by tribal status will not help the community, as we can see majority of tribes and casts still struggling despite of their ST / SC status, hence, He demanded that the area of DGHC be brought under the Sixth Schedule of the constitution of India. The Sixth Schedule deals with the autonomous administration setup for tribal area with executive, legislative and judicial powers, moreover it is the special setup under the observation of President of India and also defined as state within the state. The councils under Sixth Schedule are the product of the Constitution of India, hence, it draws all its powers and functions from the Constitution itself. Had it been implemented in Darjeeling Hills it would have been 100 time better than DGHC or the present GTA both of which emerged from the state act of west Bengal legislative Assembly. 

However, special status of Fifth or Sixth Schedule of the constitution were directly applicable for all excluded and partially excluded areas of British Raj, and Darjeeling being partially excluded area under British raj till the time of independent should have come under the Fifth Schedule or otherwise Sixth Schedule with certain amendments in the constitution long time back in Independent India. 

Chronology of Administrative Setup Pre/Post - Independent and why Fifth or Sixth Schedule is Applicable for Darjeeling. 

Darjeeling was never directly governed by the Provincial government of Bengal, however in a sense it did shared the governor with Bengal. In fact Darjeeling was governed by special act under British India as British knew it clearly that these areas came to East India Company as per the Treaty of Sugowlee with Nepal (1815) and Treaty of Sinchula with Bhutan (1865), Moreover British felt that the gorkhas living in these areas required to be protected. 

Darjeeling was initially a "Non-Regulationdistrict / Area" where acts and regulations of the British India did not automatically apply in line with rest of the country, unless specifically extended.

In 1874 Darjeeling was declared “Scheduled District” which was subject to special laws and administrative procedure. 

In 1919 Darjeeling was declared "Backward Tract" and continued to be ruled by special law, the administration of the district was then vested to the Governor General in Council. Any Act of the Provincial Legislature (Bengal provinces) or all India acts did not apply to the tract, or shall apply subject to such exceptions or modifications as the Governor may think fit. 

In 1935, Darjeeling was declared “Partially Excluded” area, where Governor had a special responsibility for this area, no legislative enactment whether of the Federation or of the Province did apply unless the Governor so directs by a notification, this set up continued till the new constitution came into effect in 26 January 1950 for Independent INDIA 

1946 The Cabinet Mission, sent by the British Parliament under Sir Stafford Cripps made a public statement and also suggested for the formation of an Advisory Committee to work out a modus operandi in the constitutional arrangement for tribals of excluded and partially excluded area and to enable them to safeguard their ethnic identity and culture in a democratic way in Independent India. 

On 24th January, 1947 - Advisory Committee on fundamental rights, minorities and Tribal and Excluded Area was set up with Vallabhai Patel as the Chairman by the Constituent Assembly, two subcommittee was formed to take forward the work: 

1. North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee: under Gopinath Bardoloi

2. Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Those in Assam) Sub-Committee: under A. V. Thakkar.

Based on the reports and recommendation of these committee Sixth Schedule emerged, where all excluded and partially excluded areas of Assam was incorporated in article 244(2) read with 275(1) of the constitution of India. However excluded and partially excluded areas other than Assam (rest of India) was incorporated in the Fifth Schedule in Art. 244(1) of the Constitution of India.
As per these schedule special Autonomous Administration setup and Tribal Advisory Council for self-governance was to be formed for the upliftment of tribes under the control of President through its representative the governor of state. 

8th August 1947 - INTERIM REPORT OF THE EXCLUDED AND PARTIALLY EXCLUDED AREAS (OTHER THAN ASSAM) SUB-COMMITTEE stated The Darjeeling District is shown to contain 141,301tribes out of a total population of 376,369 in 1941. The prominent community in Darjeeling is the Gurkha or Nepalese community which numbers about 2 1/2 lakhs. The Gurkha are not regarded as a backward tribe and the thirteenth schedule to the Govt. of India (LegislativeAssemblies) Order does not include Gurkha. Thus the committee decides Darjeeling need no longer be treated as partially excluded areas hence the special status given by British Raj was lost in Independent India. 

However, the fact that the Census of 1941 based on which the fate of hill tribes of Darjeeling was decided by Advisory Committee had some flaw on itself, as it had delisted the Tribes title of approximately 2,35,068 (62.45%) of the total population of Darjeeling Hill reducing the tribal population only to 37.54%. the reason for this de-listing have been due to the inclusion of mother tongue question in census and the census report being based on language and script among other criteria’s. It is believed that the majority of hill tribes were unaware of the consequence, moreover the sentimental attachment with Nepali language propelled them to mention Nepali as their mother language instead of their tribal dialect; as Nepali language happened to be derived from Sanskrit language hence the essence of tribalism was missing, which resulted to exclusion of majority of hill people from the backward tribe status. Further the word gorkha have been used very vaguely without seeing the history of hill tribes by advisory committee. 

In order to rectify the injustice done by Advisory Committee, Subash Ghisingh proposed for constitutionally recognition of the entire hill people into Scheduled Tribes category with reference to the Census of 1931, further he also demanded the DGHC be brought under the special administrative setup of sixth schedule with required amendments to the constitution. Please Note: The provision of Autonomous District / Regional Council is incorporated in the Sixth Schedule of constitution, moreover it also enjoyed comparatively greater power and autonomy than Fifth schedule of Constitution, however both the fifth and sixth schedule did emerged for the administrative setup of excluded and partially excluded areas and Darjeeling happened to be partially excluded. 

6th December 2005 - Memorandum of Settlement for Sixth Schedule was signed between Govt. of India, Govt. of West Bengal and Shri Subash Ghisingh, Administrator DGHC, for the creation of an autonomous self-governing Council under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, for the hill areas of Darjeeling District. 

16th March 2006 - The West Bengal Legislative Assembly adopted a Resolution recommending grant of Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling hill areas. 

30th November 2007 - Two Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 and the Constitution (One Hundred and Seventh Amendment) Bill 2007’

The Bills were referred to the Standing Committee on Home Affairs (Chairperson: Smt Sushma Swaraj)

28th February 2008: The Standing Committee on Home Affairs submitted its 129th Report:

The Bills seek to create an autonomous self-governing Council called the Gorkha Hill Council, Darjeeling (GHC) under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. The GHC shall have legislative, administrative and financial powers in respect of specified subjects.
The Committee noted that two divergent views. The majority of the views were opposed to the Bill on various grounds and were in favor of Gorkhaland (a separate state). The official viewpoint stated that there would be agitation and chaos if the Bill was not passed.

The Committee could not verify the claims of the central and state governments since it could not visit the area and feel “the pulse of the people.” Therefore, relying on the official claims, the Committee recommended that both Bills be PASSED after certain amendments were made. It suggested that

(a) 33% of the seats in the GHC should be reserved for women; and 

(b) an appropriate number of seats should be reserved for Scheduled Castes in the GHC.

However, Govt. of India was not in a position to approve the bill, reason being the ongoing agitation led by Bimal Gurung, who opposed the Bill and demanded separate state of Gorkhaland. The bill remained pending in parliament till May 18, 2009 and finally lapsed automatically after 14th Lokh Sabha got dissolved. 

Unfortunately neither Sixth Schedule nor Gorkhaland were achieved, agitation led by GJMM went on for 3 more years and finally landed up signing an Agreement for GTA on 18 July 2011 at Pintail Village near Siliguri; a semi-autonomous administrative body enacted by state Act of West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Thus, Rejecting The Sixth Schedule of the constitution which was already tabled in the parliament of India. 

Now again we find ourselves standing in the same point of Political Crossroad, whom… we are to blame?

Bimal Gurung to reshuffle GJM wings

7:38 AM

Darjeeling, Dec. 28: Bimal Gurung has decided to reshuffle the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's three important wings, central committee, core committee and Study Forum, and directed all leaders to reach out to the people.

The Morcha president today organised a meeting at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling and it was attended by members of the central committee and various frontal organisations, and elected representatives of the GTA and municipalities of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.

After the closed door meeting, Gurung said: "We have decided to reshuffle the central committee, core committee and Study Forum. I have also directed all our elected representatives and other leaders to start visiting villages and different areas across the hills and intensify their public relations campaign."

The party's central committee consists of 93 members, while there are12 members on the core committee and eight in the Study Forum, Morcha sources said.

Gurung said public meetings would be organised in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik and in the Terai and Dooars. "We will soon reshuffle the committees and then finalise the dates of the meetings," he added.

Gurung's decision to reshuffle the Morcha committees and direct his leaders to increase mass contact comes after Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri announced his intention to float a new political party soon.

Asked about Harka's new party, Gurung said: "We welcome the decision to form a new party. However, a party should be formed on one's strength and agenda and it should not rely on someone else."

The Morcha leader was referring to Mamata Banerjee's tacit support to Harka.

Source Telegraph

23 Years and counting , Drinking Water Project in ‎Mirik‬ Still Incomplete

12:48 PM
23 Years - 7 Months and 26 Days Later Drinking Water Project for ‪Mirik‬ Still Incomplete

It has been 23 years since the then Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council started to develop the erstwhile Rai Dhap as the drinking water source for Mirik. The DGHC does not exist any more, it has been 4 years since the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) took over the administration in our hills. BUT people in Mirik are still devoid of clean and safe drinking water.

The project was taken up by Manjushree Company and construction started from the beginning of May, 1992 but the work got stopped, without completion.

In 2010 the work was restarted by Surya India Pvt Ltd but and the work was supposed to be completed by 2012, but its past half-way into 2014 and the project is no where near completion.
In the past one year we have highlighted around 10 infrastructural deficiencies that is plaguing Mirik, but there has not even been a word of response from either Bimal Gurung, Mamata Banerjee SS Ahluwalia, representatives from Mirik Municipality or any other politician.
Incomplete Drinking Water Project in ‎Mirik
Incomplete Drinking Water Project in ‎Mirik
It is a shame that the politicians who are supposed to take care of our place and thump their chest citing our place, have not even bothered to come and check out the situation for themselves or at get their minions to inquire and get the work done.

Pic and report: TheDC team

गोर्खा राष्टिय मुक्ति मोर्चाको अधक्ष्य मन घिसिंङ्गलाई मिरिक सैरेनी अनि पानीघट्टामा भब्य स्वागत

12:38 PM
- दीप मिलन प्रधान

गोर्खा राष्टिय मुक्ति मोर्चाको अधक्ष्य मन घिसिंङ्गलाई मिरिक सैरेनी अनि पानीघट्टामा भब्य स्वागत जनायो । गोरामुमोले जनताको समर्थन जुटाउंको लागि आज देखि समस्टी भ्रमण शुरू गरे I गोरामुमोको तत्कालिन सुप्रिमो स्वर्गीय सुबास घिसिंगको समस्टी मिरिकमा आज उनको छोरा अनि पार्टी को वर्तमान अध्यक्ष मन घिसिंगले समस्टी भ्रमण शुभारम्भ गर्यो I

समस्टी भ्रमणको क्रममा आज बिहान पार्टीको समस्त कार्यकर्ताहरुले सडकको दुई किनारमा लामो मनीसहरुको भीड़ले उनलाई माला अर्पण गर्दै ,जय गोर्खा जय सुबास,जय मन घिसिंगको नारा लगाउँदै पार्टी कार्यकर्तहरु र गोरमोमु समर्थकहरु मिरिक बज़ार को परिक्रमा गर्यो अनि र बज़ार अवस्थित सुकक्रता भवनमा एक स्वागत सभामा परिणत भए पछि उनले सौरेनी समस्टीमा पनि मानिसहरुको अभिवादन स्वीकार गर्दै यसरी नै गोरामुमोको गड मानिने तराईको पानीघाटा बजारमा आयोजित जनसभामा पुगी जनसभामा सम्बोधन गर्दै पार्टीको अध्यक्ष मन घिसिंगले पार्टीको एक मात्र उदेश्य समस्त गोर्खा जातिको संबैधानिक व्यवस्था प्रदान गर्नु को तर, वर्तमान समयमा दार्जिलिंग पहाडमा यस्तो राजनीति भैरहेको छ कि,गोर्खाल्याण्ड मागी खाने भाड़ा झै बनाएको आरोप लगाउदै उनले भने की, गोर्खा जाति भीख माग्ने जाति होइन तर यहाँको सत्तारुड दलले गोर्खाल्याण्ड मागी खाने भाड़ा बनाएको छ छठी अनुसूची जस्तो संबैधानिक व्यवस्था प्राप्तिको लागि पहाडको जनता एकजुट भै अघि बढ्ने आवश्यकता हुनुमा जोर दियो I
गोर्खा राष्टिय मुक्ति मोर्चाको अधक्ष्य मन घिसिंङ्गलाई मिरिक सैरेनी अनि पानीघट्टामा भब्य स्वागत
गोर्खा राष्टिय मुक्ति मोर्चाको अधक्ष्य मन घिसिंङ्गलाई मिरिक सैरेनी अनि पानीघट्टामा भब्य स्वागत
घिसिंगले मुख्य वक्ताको रुपमा सम्बोधित गर्दै भने कि,गोर्खा जातिको सपनालाई साकार गर्ने समय आईसकेको छ आफ्नो अप्पाको सपना पनि पूरा गर्ने समय आएको दावी गरे I उनले ,जीटिए जस्तो असंबैधानिक व्यवस्था लिएर गोर्खाको सपना अधुरो राख्ने सड्यन्त्र देखि जनता होशियार रहने आवहान गरे Iपानीघाटा शाखा अध्यक्ष सचित गहतराजको अध्यक्षतामा सम्पन्न जनसभालाई सम्बोधित गर्दै घिसिंगले भने पहाड को सड्यन्त्रको जाल देखि मुक्त हूनको लागी समस्त पहाडको जनता सचेत भै छ्टौ अनुसूची लागू गर्नको लागि केन्द्र सरकारलाई बाध्य बनाउने जोड़ दिए I

युद्द छेत्रीले संचालन गरेको जनसभामा अन्य वक्ताहरुले छ्टौ अनुसूची जस्तो संबैधानिक व्यवस्थाको लगी जनताको समर्थन महत्वपूर्ण छ भन्दै असंबैधानिक जीटीए व्यवस्था थापने गोजमुमो गोर्खा बिरोधी नीतिको तीब्र आलोचना गर्दै जनता होसियार हुनु जरुरि छ भनि बताए I यहाँ मिरिक देखि आज शुरु भएको समस्टी भ्रमण मा पार्टीकर्मठ सदस्य एव अधिवक्ता निरज जिम्बा ,लगायत ऋषि थापा, -ट्रेड युनियन के केन्द्रीय महासचिव बालकृष्ण शर्मा ,कर्सियांग ब्रान्च कमिटिको सचिव रबिन लामा ,अनि अन्यले पनि बक्तब्य राखे I

[फोटो:दिप मिलन प्रधान अनि सचित घतराज ]
Via TheDC

Darjeeling to organize 60km cycle rally on 1st January 2016

10:05 AM
Darjeeling 24 Dec 2015 Adventure tour operators of Darjeeling, with support from the district administration and the police department, will organise a 60km cycle rally on January 1 with the twofold aim of promoting cycling in the hills as a tourism activity and in helping reduce pollution emitted by vehicles. The cycling event has been christened ‘Rally for Vehicle Free Day’ and will start from Chowrastha and end in Mirik.

According to the tour operators, cycling as a tourist activity is fast becoming a fad since the past two years and the demand from tourists and locals alike have forced them to think of promoting the activity extensively in the hills. Young entrepreneur Sangey Sherpa, who is a tour operator and one of the organising members, said, “The cycle rally is being held on New Year’s day. This is symbolic as we want the year 2016 to remain pollution free.
Presently, vehicles plying in the hills are excess causing rising pollution and affecting the weather pattern. The primary objective of the event is to spread awareness among people against excessive use of vehicles in order to curb rising pollution in the region. Besides, we also want to promote adventure tourism in the hills. Darjeeling is a tourist destination with many tourist spots, and we also want to promote the region as a traveller’s destination. Tourists should get the facility of cycling in the beautiful area during their stay.”

Asserting that cycling facilities are among the key demands of tourists, Urgen Sherpa, another tour operator and also a member of the event organising committee, said, “It has been two years or so now since tourists have started showing an interest in cycling as an activity. We have started offering mountain bikes on hire. Apart from tourists, locals are also keen showing interest in the activity. About 80 bookings are done every month, except during the monsoon season.”

According to Urgen, adventure tour operators who provide bicycles on hire charge anything between Rs800 and Rs1,000 per day. He added that tourists usually prefer cycle trips in the outskirts of Darjeeling town in places such as Rambhi, Sukhaypokhari and Lamahatta. “We also offer packages that include a cycle ride up to Dhotrey from Darjeeling following which there is a trekking route to Tonglu and a night halt. The following day starts with a trek up to Manebhanjyang and back to Darjeeling. We not only offer cycles on hire, but also arrange for accommodation and food along with guides. This roughly comes up to Rs3,500 per person to Rs4,000,” said Urgen.

Speaking about the upcoming cycle rally, Sangey said, “Until now, 60 people have registered for participation in the cycle rally and many more are expected to join on the day of the event. We believe the message of using vehicles in a limited manner will spread further.”


"Let Bimal Make Me GJM President, I Will Start Gorkhaland Agitation From Tomorrow." - Dr. Harka

9:40 AM
The Theater of Absurd: "Let Bimal Make Me GJM President, I Will Start Gorkhaland Agitation From Tomorrow." - Dr. Harka

2016 elections fever are here in full flow it seems, with GJM President Bimal Gurung and Kalimpong MLA Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri exchanging political rhetoric through press conferences.

Political scenario in Darjeeling has today become the 'Theater of Absurd," with political gimmicks, flamboyant rhetoric, decisiveness, and borderline narcissism taking the front seat, over the politics of unity, development and solidarity.

However, amongst the din of everyday rhetoric comes this gem from Dr. Harka, who yesterday stated from Kolkata, "What Bimal Gurung does or doesn't do, does not bother... he [Bimal] said through press that he would welcome if I started politics for Gorkhaland... it means he [Bimal] is accepting the fact that he cannot achieve it [Gorkhaland] himself... let him surrender and say so in person... let him handover everything to me... after that I will show how to move the movement in the right direction... he can come and join as one of my cadres."
Kalimpong MLA Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri
Kalimpong MLA Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri
Dr. Harka added, "Let Bimal say that I wasn't competent, I couldn't get it done, Harka Bahadur can make it happen... Let him announce that from today onward Harka Bahadur is the GJM chief... from the very net day, I will restart the campaign for Gorkhaland... I will also start work to make additional districts and start the talks with Central government."

He added, "I have done a lot for my constituency, in comparison even the whole of GTA could not achieve what I have achieved for my region... GTA is responsible for developing the hills and I am responsible for developing my constituency, and where as I have done so, entire GTA has failed."

Via TheDC

‎Bengal‬ Sanctions Land for ‪Lepcha‬ Bhavan in New Town, ‪Kolkata‬

10:12 AM
‪Grid-connected solar panels will be installed on the roof for compound illumination of the state-of-the-art green building. The state urban development department is selecting a reputable architectue firm to come up with the design for the sixth-storied structure. The required built-up space of the building will be at least 12,000 square feet.

NKDA officials said that New Town is being developed as a green smart city and the aim is to have a unique landmark building in the township like the proposed Lepcha Bhavan.

"The aim is to construct an eco-friendly building that will reflect the Lepcha culture. It will be built, bringing together natural resources and modern technology," an NKDA official said.
Bengal‬ Sanctions 7.47 Cottah Land for ‪Lepcha‬ Bhavan in New Town, ‪Kolkata‬
During a visit in Kalimpong, Mamata Banerjee had said the Lepcha Board was working for the development of their housing, education, livelihood, sanitation, tourism and preservation and propagation of their culture.

[Via: TNN, File Pic]

‪Darjeeling‬ MP Demands - Land Rights + Minimum Wages Act + BPL Status for Tea Garden Workers in Parliament

9:49 AM
Darjeeling MP Shri. S.S. Ahluwalia yesterday raised the issue of suffering and pain that the tea garden workers in Darjeeling and Dooars have to face.

Highlighting the fact that Darjeeling tea is coveted world over, Mr. Ahluwalia said, "on his recent visit of the Queen of England, our Prime Minister gifted her among other things tea from the Makaibari estate in Darjeeling. While Darjeeling tea is celebrated internationally and was the 1st agricultural product from India to be accorded a Geographical Indicator (GI) status by the WTO, the tea garden workers have continued to languish in abject poverty.

Madam I want to draw your attention, and through you the attention of the Govt of India and the Govt of West Bengal, to the plights and sufferings of the tea garden workers from my constituency of Darjeeling and the adjoining Dooars region.

Since 2002 close to 2000 tea garden workers have starved to death in these tea gardens, and this year alone over 70 tea garden workers have died due to starvation, malnutrition and related diseases. However, nothing has been done to rectify the situation, and to provide assistance to the tea garden workers."
Darjeeling MP Shri. S.S. Ahluwalia
Darjeeling MP Shri. S.S. Ahluwalia
Mr. Ahluwalia stated that the sufferings of the tea garden workers could be directly linked to the Plantations Labor Act of 1951 which is highly feudalistic and nature and called for its amendment, he said, "Plantations across India are guided by the Plantation Labourer Act of 1951, PLA 1951 is heavily tilted in favour of the tea garden owners. So skewed is PLA towards the tea garden owners that, that under Sections 39 and 40, no courts in India (including the Supreme Court) can take any cognizance of any offence undertaken by tea garden management, and can only do so if the “complaint made by, or with the previous sanction in writing of, the chief inspector,” who in most cases is the labour commissioner.

Which means that even the courts cannot interfere against the tea garden management, unless requested to do so by the ‘chief inspectors’ which in today’s term are the ‘labour commissioners’. But the incidences of labour commissioners filling cases against tea garden owners are almost unheard of. The Plantation Labour Act as it stands today, is against the spirit of the Indian constitution and thus should be summarily amended to reflect current realities."

Highlighting the need for granting land rights to the tea garden workers, Shri. Ahluwalia said, "Madam, in addition to the flaws in PLA 1951 which is heavily skewed against the workers, one of the most significant fact working against the welfare of the workers in that the tea garden workers do not own the right to land.

They may live and serve in the tea gardens for generations, but if and when the tea garden owner decides, the worker’s family can be asked to vacate his home and leave the garden. Given which, each tea garden family is expected to send at least one worker to work for the tea garden. This is nothing less than a bonded labour like situation, where the workers have to continue sending their children to work in the gardens, lest they be asked to leave their home, friends and family if they chose not to. Thus, it is most important that the workers are given Land Rights so that they are not subject to whims and fancies of the tea garden owners."

Highlighting the discrepancy in pay that tea garden workers from Darjeeling receive, Mr. Ahluwalia said, "Madam the tea garden workers of Darjeeling and Dooars are the lowest paid workers in the nation. Their salary as it stands today is Rs 112.50 per day. Whereas the minimum wage rates for agricultural workers in West Bengal is Rs 206 per day (with food) for the non-skilled workers, Rs. 228 per day with food for semi-skilled workers, and Rs 252 per day with food for skilled workers [Details:].

Plucking tea, processing them and packaging them require high degree of skills, yet the tea garden workers are only paid Rs 112.50 per day. In comparison the tea garden workers in Kerala get paid a basic wage of Rs 254 per day, in Tamil Nadu it is Rs 209, in Karnataka it is Rs 228, and even in next door Sikkim the workers get paid Rs 220.

I demand that the wages for tea garden workers be set the same for all the tea workers across India, and the minimum wages be set according to current rates."

Highlighting the abysmal state of tea garden governance and management, Shri. Ahluwalia highlighted the stats from a 2013 Govt of West Bengal report, he stated:

Madam the tea companies are expected to provide fringe benefits to the workers, yet an exhaustive survey of 273 tea gardens in the region, by the Govt of West Bengal found that:

87 tea estates could not provide registration certificate/number under Plantation Labour Act. This raises the question whether a large number of estates are being run by fictitious owners

116 tea estates have been run by different management in the last 10 years. Some of these estates are run by the promoters, who do not care for long-term development of the plantations

175 estates do not have labour welfare officers. Five tea estates could not provide registration number granted by Tea Board of India. Leases of 114 tea estates have expired; of them 105 have applied for renewal

41 tea estates did not deposit money towards provident fund contribution in 2012-13. In preceding three years, the numbers were 13, 18 and 24, respectively. In 46 estates total PF dues as part of workers’ contribution are Rs 17.14 crore. In 55 estates dues, as part of management’s contribution, are Rs 33.79 crore

08 tea estates have not paid wages to workers. In 35 estates workers are yet to be paid arrear wages as per last wage settlement. Food rations are due in 35 estates

84 tea estates are getting financial support through the Centrally sponsored employment guarantee scheme, MGNREGS; 22 estates are covered under food subsidy scheme, Antyodaya Anna Yojana

95,835 workers, or 36 per cent of the 262,426 living in tea estates across West Bengal, are yet to be provided with housing facilities as required under the Plantation Labour Act

166 of 273 tea estates have hospitals. The rest depend on visiting doctors. Of the 166, only 56 tea estates have full-time residential doctors and 50 have a nurse. Of the doctors at the 166 tea estates, 92 do not have an MBBS degree

[Details here:]

Shri. Ahluwalia thus demanded:

1. Immediate granting of land rights for all the tea garden workers in Darjeeling and Dooars region.
2. Implementation of minimum wages act in the tea gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars and associated benefits.
3. Declare all tea garden workers as living under Below Poverty Line, until they are included in Minimum Wages Act, and grant them all the facilities and benefits due to those classified under BPL sections.
4. An inter-Ministerial committee comprising of tea garden representatives and local experts (in addition to Govt officials) to study the nature, scope and scale of problems plaguing the tea industry, and to develop a comprehensive plan to revive the tea industry
5. Make comprehensive changes to the PLA to reflect the realities of 2015-16 and to make all those provisions redundant that go against the spirit of our constitution.

8. Allow for immediate amendments to Section 39 and 40 – allowing courts to take cognizance of the offenses in tea gardens.
9. Make it mandatory for the Tea Board of India to provide ration and benefits to the workers, in case of any tea garden owners abandoning their garden.
10. Make it a criminal offense for the tea garden owners to abandon their tea gardens, or fail to provide them necessary wages and benefits that are stipulated by the law.

He also highlighted the failure of estate owners to fulfil statutory benefits for workers, like housing and hospitals.

Following his speech, the TMC MP Mr. Sugata Bose stated that the Bengal government was providing assistance to the tea garden workers, and he said that the Bengal government was willing to change the laws to assist the tea garden workers.

BJP MP Mr. Rajiv Pratap Rudy then supported the issue and requested the Minister for Commerce and Industry Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman to respond.

To which the Hon'ble Minister Sitharam said, "Thank you Madam, the Hon'ble Member has raised a very, very sensitive issue... since last year, this is a matter of great conecrn for us. In fact, I visited North Bengal, particularly, some tea estates from where we have reports of alleged deaths of workers. I have fone and visited and seen the situation then... but certainly the Hon. Member has raised a very, very important issue and a ot of people have also identified and associated themselves. I will come with a comprehensive reply subsiquently."

Via TheDC

Bimal Gurung accused Harka Bahadur of diluting Gorkhaland demand

9:41 AM
Gurung barb at Harka

Writes: Vivek Chhetri

Bimal Gurung yesterday accused Harka Bahadur Chhetri of diluting the Gorkhaland demand and criticised the Kalimpong MLA for his closeness with the state government.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president said in a message on Facebook that his party would accept Chhetri's politics if he took up the statehood cause.

"I am surprised with the politics around the creation of Kalimpong district. The district has been formed for better administration and decentralisation of power and we thank the state government .... But a section of people is trying to create rifts among the hill people on the issue and we are sad over the development," Gurung wrote in the post.

Although the district demand was raised by the Morcha in 2012, Chhetri took up the issue with the state soon after quitting Gurung's party in September. The district was announced on December 18.
Bimal Gurung accused Harka Bahadur of diluting Gorkhaland demand
Bimal Gurung accused Harka Bahadur of diluting Gorkhaland demand
Naming Chhetri, Gurung wrote: "Gorkhaland is a dream of all Gorkhas in India, and Kalimpong has sacrificed for the cause. .... Two-three people from Kalimpong with personal interest are trying to dilute the dreams of the martyrs. Dr. Harka Bahadur Chhetri is talking about the need to be close to the state government. Will the state allow the formation of Gorkhaland?"

He added: "... Chhetri was sent to the Assembly on a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ticket. What did he do at the Assembly for four-and-a-half years? ..... Till recently, we heard him criticising the state government but he has suddenly started speaking for the government. People have to understand ..."

Referring to Chhetri's plans to float a party, Gurung wrote: "On December 20, he announced a new year gift ...We want to ask him if his gift will include the Gorkhaland demand. If he has immersed the demand in the Hooghly and surrendered his Nepali topi (headgear) at the feet of the state ... then he must stop identifying himself as a Gorkha. If he raises the Gorkhaland issue, we will welcome his politics."

Chhetri today said Gurung was raising the Gorkhaland issue now because he was scared. "His statement smacks of political illiteracy. He is the one to say that the Bengal government cannot give Gorkhaland and the fight has to be with the Centre. He is raising the Gorkhaland issues just to cover the rampant corruption and his failure in making any headway on the statehood issue," said the MLA.

"Instead of politics of emotions there must be politics of reason. I have my own parameters and I want to do things, which I can do. He (Gurung) is afraid that I have been able to create Kalimpong district and he is resorting to an emotional issue ... ," he added.

The MLA said the one-man-party had failed to deliver at all levels. "How can one believe that a person who can't even provide drinking water to Darjeeling can get Gorkhaland? We believe in broad-base leadership and we are working on the agenda of the party."

Source: Telegraph

Let us not become Dashrath Manjhi time and again!

9:18 AM
Writes Deep Pradhan

Two events of significance took place in the past few days:

1. Narendra Modi asked Bimal Gurung to halt all agitation on Gorkhaland and Bimal gladly obliged.

2. Rahul Sinha, West Bengal state BJP president, came to Darjeeling and said in public meeting that the BJP will not allow the creation of Gorkhaland.

Dashrath Manjhi, the "Mountain Man", had taken upon himself to carve out a road from a rocky mountain so that his poor village of Gehlaur (in Bihar) could get access to the neighbouring, resourceful village of Wazirganj in quicker time. In the recently released biopic of Manjhi, there is a sequence where the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visits the village of Gehlaur and addresses a public meeting. Manjhi puts forth his humble request to Indira - a road for Gehlaur. Indira remains mum. She hands him one of her garlands, gets a photo-op with him and leaves. After that? Manjhi's village, like our beautiful land, endures corruption. But there is no progress, and no sign of the road. Working on his own, with a hammer and a chisel, Manjhi takes ~22 years (1960–1982) to complete the road.
Let us not become Dashrath Manjhi time and again!

We are seeing the same Manjhi story being repeated time and again in the Gorkhaland movement. We are not very clear what Rajiv Gandhi promised Subhash Ghisingh, but for 20 years, the hills endured the worst form of political, economic and developmental limbo in the DGHC.

Then came the turn of BJP to "stand" for Gorkhaland. We have already sent two BJP MPs from Darjeeling to the Lok Sabha, and all we are getting is half-hearted assurances and negative statements. The BJP leaders at the most remain "mum" on Gorkhaland, just like what Indira did to Manjhi. The Gorkhaland mass movement will reach 30 years in 2016.

How many more Manjhi story are we going to repeat?

[Shared by: Deep Pradhan on Twitter]

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