GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung today unveiled the statue of Kaman Singh Ramudamu, the first hill leader to speak out against GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh's Sixth Schedule demand in 2006.
|Gurung unveils the statue of Kaman Singh Ramudamu in Darjeeling on Thursday.|
Ramudamu opposed the status, as there was no provision for reservation for the SC community in the new administrative arrangement mooted for the hills.
"He was lion-hearted and it needed courage to come out in the open then. He was an old man, otherwise, he would have gone missing as such was the political atmosphere then," Gurung said after unveiling the statue in front of the Raj Bhawan on the Mall Road here.
Today was Ramudamu's 86th birth anniversary. The statue was erected by the SC association.
Ramudamu, who died on July 17, 2008, was a retired divisional account officer of the Indian Railways.
He had also translated a section of the Indian Constitution pertaining to the rights and privileges of the scheduled caste community from English into Nepali.
According to the memorandum of settlement signed by the Centre, state and the GNLF in 2005, a new administrative arrangement was to be put in place in the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Gorkha Hill Council, Darjeeling, that was supposed to replace the then Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), was to have 33 seats, of which 10 were to be reserved for Scheduled Tribes and three for other communities. Five members of the council were to be nominated by the governor.
Ramudamu took on Ghisingh as not a single seat was reserved for the SC community. "When the STs can get 10 seats, I see no reason why the SCs cannot get three," Ramudamu had said.
He was rooting for three seats as the SC community formed around nine per cent of the hill population.
Gurung was with Ghisingh's GNLF when Ramudamu came out in the open against the then undisputed hill leader. Interestingly, when Gurung formed the Morcha later, he made Ramudamu the vice-president of the outfit.
Gurung today said: "When I first approached Kaman Singh Ramudamu (to join the Morcha), he had refused stating that he was basically a social worker working for the uplift of his community and it would not be right for him to be involved with a political party. He, however, changed his mind and decided to join the party to espouse the statehood cause."
Ramudamu had presided over the meeting where the Morcha was formed on October 7, 2007. Gurung and Ramudamu together unfurled the Morcha flag.
"I have come across many people. Ramudamu was one who was not interested in political benefits but was only concerned about the welfare of his community and the people of the region," Gurung said today.