Showing posts with label DGHC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DGHC. Show all posts

Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan confines GTA officials to their chambers at Lal Kothi

DARJEELING 15 Jun 2016 Members of the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS), an umbrella organisation of casual workers, today confined the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief principal secretary and a sabhasad to their chambers at Lal Kothi pressing for enhanced incentives.

More than 200 Group A and B employees comprising doctors, engineers, managers and curators of the GTA under the aegis of JAKS are on an indefinite cease-work agitation since June 13.

They have been assembling every morning before the main gate at Lal Kothi, but refuse to do any work.

Today, the agitators reached Lal Kothi around ten in the morning and headed straight into the administrative building. GTA chief principal secretary Ravinder Singh, secretary Don Bosco Lepcha   and Sabhasad Binay Tamang were in their chambers. Executive directors and executive engineers of the GTA had gathered inside for a meeting with the chief principal secretary.
Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) file photo
The officials were all taken aback when informed about the gherao by the JAKS, who by then had blocked their chambers. Visitors were also not allowed to enter the Lal Kothi building.

“It is part of our agitation to press for our demand. We confined the officials to their chambers from morning till evening. We will intensify our agitation and even stop all work of the GTA in the coming days,” warned Deepak Sharma, the JAKS spokesperson.

The officials were confined to their chambers till four in the evening and allowed to leave office only afterwards. The GTA chief principal secretary did not want to talk to the press but the Tamang said,

“The chief principal secretary should initiate dialogues with the agitators. There are several development projects on the pipeline and if the agitation continues, it can be a hindrance. One must also note that the monsoon has started in the hills and there are every chances of calamities occurring."

In February, the state finance department issued Order No.1107-F (P) dated February 25, 2016 to revise the benefits and salary of the GTA contractual workers. The order also stated that it had been  decided to enhance the remuneration by 3 per cent every year. Group C and D workers started getting their enhanced pay from April. However, the JAKS’s contention is that although Group A and B employees, presently receiving Rs13,500 to Rs21,000, are also mentioned in the state government order, they have been kept out of the enhanced pay structure.

There are 5,321 workers employed in the various departments of the GTA, who, initially, worked under the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on contractual appointment for meager payments.


Darjeeling - another heritage gone, GTA pulls down Sailabash

12:42 PM
Darjeeling, May 31: Darjeeling's rare connection with present-day Bangladesh and a part of the hill town's rich history has been reduced to rubble.

The GTA has pulled down Sailabash, the over-a-century-old summer retreat of the raja of Digapatia, to set up a modern hotel management institute and guesthouse in one of the last few available green spaces in Darjeeling.

Digapatia is now in Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

The palace under the tourism department of the GTA near Jalapahar and was brought down about two weeks ago. "The building was in a dilapidated state and recent earthquakes too had caused some damage," said Kishore Ghimire, an executive engineer of the GTA.

In his book, A Concise History of The Darjeeling District Since 1835, which was published in 1922, E.C. Dozey, a writer and historian, said the building had been set up on land that was once owned by Capt J. Masson, the superintendent of Tukvar tea estate, by the "Digapatia Rajah". The retreat was earlier called Girivilash and the name was changed to Sailabash after Independence.
An undated photo of Sailabash: Courtesy Das Studio in Darjeeling
The Late Nayan Subba's soon-to-be-published book, Heritage buildings of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, says Raja Pramatha Nath Rai Bahadur had founded Girivilash whose garden was laid out by a German floriculturist and horticulturist, Morgenstern, and was looked after by 12 gardeners.

Nobody could say exactly in which year the building had been constructed. But its believed it was built in the last decade of the 19th century.

"Girivilash was a favourite place for the British governors of Bengal....The British army took over the palace in 1942. Later on, it was acquired by the government. It also served as a Tibetan school for a while. The palace has lost the historical grandeur of Girivilash," writes Subba.

According to Subba, the colonial building had an attic with miniature gables and a small dome, and an all-weather glazed rotunda with small square windows in classical style. There was a tennis court as well.

"Raja Pramadanath Roy occupied the front suite on the ground floor, which included the library, with its precious screens of velvet and ornate wooden pelmets," writes Subba.

The front suite of the upper storey with the snow view rooms was "for the rani",

Subba writes. It was "beautifully furnished with a curtained brass cot and a chandelier. There was a huge grandfather clock, which indicated the days of the month and the full moon day (Ekadashi). On the ground floor were the drawing room, dinning room, tash khana (card room) and the billiards room," Subba adds.

Despite being in a dilapidated state, Sailabash was still a landmark in Darjeeling and used to house a guesthouse after Independence. Once the building was taken over by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, the office of the hill body's vice-chairman was housed there. For the past 20 years, the building had been lying vacant.

Bharat Prakash Rai, convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Darjeeling chapter), said: "How foolish can we be to dismantle such structures in the name of development. Could it not have been repaired? We have lost a piece of history and that is very sad."

Dawa Lepcha, the GTA Sabha member in charge of tourism, said: "A big-scale hotel management institution will be coming up and the requirements were such that the building had to come down."

GTA executive engineer Ghimire said the project cost had been pegged at Rs 55 crore. "Apart from the institution, there will also be a guesthouse with 24 rooms for in-house training. The infrastructure is being set up as per the parameters laid down by AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education)"

The five-acre plot in which the Sailabash was located has Annapurna and Kafal guesthouses, along with a pond built by the DGHC. "The Annapurna guesthouse will be used as an administrative building for the institution, while a part of Kafal will have to be dismantled. The pond will be smaller in size and we will have facilities for rainwater harvesting," said Ghimire.

The engineer said restoration of the building would have cost much more.

Via Telegraph

Gorkhaland is only our Solution & “NOTA” is only our Option !

4:40 PM
Writes Gorkhas N Gorkhaland

No Candidate Deserves My Vote! 
No State No Vote ! 
Beware of Vote ! 
Vote is our Enemy ! 
Gorkhaland is only our Solution & “NOTA” is only our Option ! 

NOTA, (None of the Above) also known as "against all", is a ballot option in Indian electoral system, designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system.

On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled that the right to register a "NOTA" vote in elections should apply, and ordered the Election Commission to provide such a button in the electronic voting machines.

Even though NOTA are considered as invalid votes, however it is also counted and recorded as rejection of all, in the general election 2014 NOTA polled 1.1% of the votes which counted to over 6 million votes.

Why NOTA for Gorkhaland ?
The state and the name of Gorkhaland is quite necessary for entire settled Gorkhas in India for the sake of their clear and distinct Indian identity so as to distinguish themselves from people of Nepal. As we the Indian Gorkhas have always been look down as an emigrant / foreigners who have come from Nepal in search of their livelihood, permitted as per the Indo- Nepal treaty of 1950.

Moreover, the essence of Grokhaland is not only the development or the creation of statehood within the republic of India BUT to resolve the “Identity Crisis” of Indian Gorkhas by creating a separate state of Gorkhaland “OUT of West Bengal”. I may not be wrong, if I say the Grokha struggle of separation from Bengal is the longest ongoing struggle in the history of modern Indian, as it goes long back to 1907:

Historical chronology of Gorkha struggle in the State of West Bengal: 
1907 - The demand for a separate administrative set up for Gorkhas were submitted by the leaders of the Hill People to the British Government.

1929, the Hillmen's Association again raised the same demand before the Simon Commission.

1930, a joint petition was submitted by Hillmen's Association, Gorkha Officers Association and the Kurseong Gorkha Library to the Secretary of the State of India, Samuel Hoare for separation from the province of Bengal.

1941, the Hillmen's Association under the presidency of Rup Narayan Sinha urged the Secretary of State of India, Lord Pethick Lawrence, to exclude Darjeeling from the province of Bengal and make it a Chief Commissioners Province.

1952, ALGI under the presidency of N.B. Gurung met Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India in Kalimpong and submitted a memorandum demanding the separation from Bengal.

1980 – 1988, Subash Ghisingh demand for a “Separate State” named “Gorkhaland” the movement gained serious momentum with a violent agitation. The agitation ultimately led to the establishment of 1st semiautonomous body for Gorkhas in India in the year1988 called Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and also forced the government to release the Gazette Notification on the citizenship Issue of Indian Gorkhas on 23rd August 1988 declaring all Indian Gorkhas to be the citizen of India.

2007, Bimal Gurung raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland once again but land up signed an agreement for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, a semiautonomous body, thus, replacing the DGHC in the Darjeeling hills.

Though it’s been more than 100 years we have been struggling to separate from the state of Bengal, however, we are still prisoned under the administrative set up of West Bengal. Through we firmly believe in the democracy of our nation BUT we should strongly voice out the suppressive, discriminatory, dissection attitude of Bengal, further Accepting the Legislative Assembly and the electorate process of Bengal also means Accepting, Welcoming and Glorifying the state Administration of West Bengal.

Therefore why not use the power of Right to Reject (NOTA) on the electronic voting machine so as to express our opinion constitutionally and show our solidarity towards the issue of Gorkhaland as we no longer intend to accept the imperialism of Bengal.

Hence, it is our duty as a responsible gorkha citizen to think, think thrice before we VOTE, and vote not just politically BUT wisely !

No state No Vote !
Beware of Vote !
Vote is our Enemy !
Gorkhaland is only our Solution & “NOTA” is only our Option !

Corruption allegation on Harka Bahadur Chettri by GJM, projects worth 24 lakh not executed

8:46 AM
Darjeeling, April 12: GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) has fresh allegation on Kalimpong MLA, Dr. Harka Bahadur Chhetri who has recently parted from GJM and launched his own party JAP (Jan Andolan Party) of not executing 3 projects worth 24 lakhs using MLA funds - Bidhayak Elaka Unnayan Prakalpa.

Morcha barb at Harka on funds a report on Telegraph

Darjeeling, April 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today alleged that some projects recommended by Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri with his MLALAD funds had not been finished although completion certificates had been submitted and money released for those.

The party alleged that two of Chhetri's aides were responsible for the irregularities.

Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha, said: "On January 27, an order was issued by the district planning section of Darjeeling DM office where 12 projects worth Rs 29.5 lakh were accorded ... for schemes recommended by Harka Bahadur Chhetri. Those were to be executed using MLA funds - Bidhayak Elaka Unnayan Prakalpa."
Corruption allegation on Harka Bahadur Chettri by GJM, projects worth 24 lakh not executed
Harka Bahadur Chettri 
Tamang alleged that of the 12, three projects worth Rs 8 lakh had not been executed.

"Three projects involving construction of a protection wall and footpath above Hari Thapa's house on East Main Road (Rs 3 lakh), a jhora protection (wall) above Bassuripool, Upper Cart Road, Kalimpong, (Rs 2.5 lakh) and a protection wall in front of Puran Chettri's house on East Main Road have not been finished but a completion report has been submitted," Tamang said.

He added that on February 29, another 14 projects costing about Rs 30.5 lakh had been recommended by Chhetri. "A project involving the construction of a protection wall near Renuka Subba's house at School Dara in Kalimpong was shown as complete even without floating tenders. The payment has been made already," said Tamang.

Sources said the project was worth Rs 3 lakh.

"I urge residents of the area... to find out if work has been done. These works were given to two of Chhetri's close aides who used the funds for construction of personal property. The people of Kalimpong have to find them," Tamang said. He said Chhetri had used Rs 19 lakh for personal work when he was with the DGHC and GTA. "We have shown evidence of his corruption on two occasions," said Tamang.

Chhetri denied the charges. "My role as the MLA is to recommend projects to the district planning office. The office distributes work to executing agencies. It is for the BDO office to float tenders and monitor work... I think funds are released only after taking photographs of project. I have no role in choosing contractor..."

Asked about the allegations, he said: "What else do they have to talk about? I will not allow this slandering. I am consulting my legal team and will take him (Tamang) to court on these issues."

The BDO office of Kalimpong#-I is the executing agency of the four projects. BDO Bimalendu Das said : "If there is a complaint lodged with me or the DM, we will inquire."

HB Chhetri gets corruption tag from Morcha again a report on EOI

Darjeeling 12 Apr 2016 The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has once again accused Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri of corruption, maintaining that some of the works sanctioned in Kalimpong from the MLA fund had not been executed at all even though completion reports had been submitted for those projects.

GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang said, “After becoming the Kalimpong MLA, Chhetri undertook a number of schemes through the MLA fund. On his recommendation, two project orders were passed on January 27 and February 29 this year. According to the first order, the total cost of 12 schemes was Rs29.50 lakh, while the second order comprised 14 schemes with a total cost of Rs30.50 lakh. From the first order, work has not been done on three projects out of the 12, and from the second, one project out of the 14 has not been started. Tenders have not even been floated for it even though full payment has been made and a completion report submitted.”

According to Tamang, work not undertaken for schemes mentioned in the first order include a protection wall and footpath at East Main Road for which the cost has been shown at Rs3 lakh; jhora (stream) protection at Upper Cart Road for Rs2.50 lakh; and a protection wall at East Main Road at a cost of Rs2.50 lakh. He said the second order includes construction of a protection wall at School Dara for Rs3 lakh, but this project has also not been executed.

“It seems he (Chhetri) has siphoned off the money meant for the schemes. Harka is saying he will work for the benefit of the people if he gets re-elected, but we find him to be a corrupt legislator already,” alleged Tamang. Not long ago too, the GJM leader had accused Chhetri of misusing Rs19 lakh meant for landslide relief work when he was on the board of administrators of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

“The Kalimpong MLA is alleging there is corruption in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, and if this is true, he should back his claims by producing solid evidence like we have. His party (Jan Andolan Party) has an RTI Cell to look into matters of corruption, and it should start a probe against him,” Tamang said.

Chettri responded by dismissing Tamang’s allegations as unfounded, saying “the Morcha is trying to spoil my image looking at the support I am getting from the people”. He added, “Moreover, the only role I play regarding the MLA fund is make recommendations to the District Planning Section and all work is executed by the Block Development Officer. It is through the BDO that the work completion report is prepared along with photographs. Only then does the bill for the work is released.” The MLA further said, “I will file a defamation case against Tamang after the election as he is making false allegations against me time and again.”

Meantime, Kalimpong Block 1 BDO Bimalendu Das said, “All work in my block has been done as per rules and regulations. After completion of work, the engineer does the verification and the work completion report submitted following which the bills are cleared. If anyone has complaints, they can contact me and I can crosscheck.” (EOIC)

This Election: Why GJM?

9:02 AM

Writes Binu Sundas 

An interesting old video was posted today in my whatsapp, which shows Dr. H B Chettri addressing a meeting somewhere in the plains. He concludes his speech saying that we will work together, walk together and reach our destination together. Yes they have worked together as well as walked and is trying to walk together to reach the destination. But  the most salient question is what is their destination? To my mind only one answer seems apt that is to dislocate the demand of Gorkhaland and those who have aspiration for the creation of Gorkhaland.

This is a critical phase in the political sphere of the hills. This period will determine the future of the demand for Gorkhaland. GJM therefore becomes an important element for all the people who have dared to dream the realisation of Gorkhaland. There is a adage in Nepali taro ko deuta bhanda chau ko bhut kaam lagcha. GJM is the chau ko bhut and therefore we can count on them to keep alive our aspiration. Many have accused them that they have sold of the issue of Gorkhaland but what needs to be remembered is that they have not given up the issue and the right to demand for the separation of hills from Bengal. In the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement Between Government of India, Government of West Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for creating an autonomous Body to be called Gorkhaland Territorial Administration they have vehemently reiterated that they would not give up the demand of Gorkhaland.  In the first page of the memorandum itself it says, 'Whereas after several rounds of tripartite meetings at the ministerial and at the official levels, the GJM, while not dropping their demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland has agreed to the setting up of an autnomous Body......'

What is important for all to understand is the fact that GJM has not given up the demand of Gorkhaland even when under pressure to sign this agreement, unlike the GNLF which surrendered the demand while signing the DGHC agreement. GNLF have forgotten their antecedence and is now again trying to attract the people of the hills into false consciousness. However, the stand of the GJM is acknowledged by both the Government of India and West Bengal, which makes the GJM very important for all the people of the hills. They did not succumb to the pressure created by the Government of West Bengal, which has now been accepted by the latter and have revised their strategy and is making use of ambitious 'party of intellectuals' as well as unsuccessful individuals and parties to weaken the tenacity of GJM and the people of the hills to demand Gorkhaland. Further, unlike GNLF, who completely failed the people and moreover let the Gorkha down by not keeping alive the demand of Gorkhaland in their zest to sign for DGHC, GJM have made the centre and the state governments realise that the demand for Gorkhaland and the struggle to achieve it will continue. The memorandum says 'Now, therefore, the Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the GJM, keeping on record the demand of the GJM for a separate State of Gorkhaland agree as follows...' the creation of GTA.

The advantage we have with the GJM is the fact that they have not kept aside the demand of Gorkhaland and therefore we have to support them and make them victorious in this coming elections. If any other results follow then the authority of the GJM will be questioned by  both the governments and with that the legitimacy of the demand will also lose grounds, as they will have a point to prove that all the people of the hills do not support GJM and thereby the demand of Gorkhaland. Importantly this is what the West Bengal Government in general and TMC in particular wants to happen. What is there their strategy to make sure that such a calamity unfolds upon the people of the hills is to support JAP.
This Election: Why GJM?

By now people of the hills have understood that JAP is in the 'front stage' only engaged in impression management. Their back stage needs to be understood. In the back stage, in reality, they are puppets in the hands of Mamata didi and their only objective is to see that they become 'Brutus' and stab the yearning of the people for Gorkhaland. Bimal Gurung has already been Julius Caesar and has already said 'et tu Brute' to the leadership of JAP when his direction to the party MLA to resign from the post of MLA was denied by none other than the face of JAP, Dr H B Chettri. Mamata Banerjee through JAP is only trying to create cleavages among the people of the hills and JAP have volunteered to be the instrument through which Mamata Banerjee can play her cards. Therefore, it becomes pertinent for the people of the hills to vote out JAP from the politics of hills. JAP has been further bolstered by the support of GNLF, another outfit who does not support the creation of Gorkhaland.

GNLF, has in the past, destroyed the hills. They were responsible for the death of many during the famed Gorkhaland agitation of the 1980s, the destruction of property and careers of many, only to achieve, constitutionally unrecognised DGHC. GNLF only was a fiefdom then, it is no better now. It is now in its lowest ebb, lacking in organisation, ideology, strategy, leadership and membership. They were dethroned by GJM and in its endeavour to take revenge on GJM it has compromised the wants and objective of the community. It has sided with TMC and JAP, two opponents of Gorkhaland. It has now become crystal clear that we have to fight together against the TMC, JAP and GNLF to uphold the glory of Gorkha community. This is a pivotal phase in our history, this election is not just another election for all the Gorkhas, it is the time to decide who we are, and what we cherish. It is the time to show all the opponents of Gorkhaland, that their false promises of development, district or for that matter anything is not going to distract us from our goal, Gorkhaland. Winning is not about proving the world wrong, but working together. So let us work together and ensure the victory of GJM in all the three constituencies and show the world that when it comes to the issue of Gorkhaland we stand united and no matter what the politics of the 'intellectuals' says we are behind GJM and those for Gorkhaland.


Public fund misuse allegations on Harka Bahadur and Bimal Gurung

10:14 PM

Funds misuse slur on Harka

Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, March 3: The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration today alleged  that Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri had used public money to build protection walls and fence the boundary of his personal property in Kalimpong when he was on the board of administrators of the DGHC and the GTA.

Chhetri, who had recently founded the Jan Andolan Party, said he had walled up and fenced his homestead land with his own money.

Binay Tamang, executive GTA Sabha member and the assistant secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, raised the allegations against the Kalimpong MLA at a press conference at Lal Khoti, the headquarters of the hill body. "A work order bearing memo no. KID 62/(1)/(1)/(9)/ W-1 dated 29 February, 2012, was issued by the DGHC for landslide protection work in the Upper Hill Top area at a cost of Rs 14, 24, 508. Again an additional fund of Rs 4,75,337 was allotted (memo no KID-206 (A)/(1)/(1)/(9)/W-1 dated May 5, 2012) by the GTA for the same work," said Tamang.

"As per our information, there was no landslide in the Upper Hill Top area at that time and Rs 19 lakh was used for building a protection wall and fencing for Harka Bahadur Chhetri's personal land in the Hill Top area of Kalimpong," alleged Tamang.

He said when the funds had been sanctioned by the DGHC and the GTA, they were being run by the board of administrators - headed by an "administrator" and comprised of three hill MLAs as the ex-officio members.

Tamang said: "If our allegations are wrong, then Harka should show us which work was done using these funds... in the coming days, we will come up with more instances of misuse of power by Chhetri."

Chhetri denied the allegations.

"When the board of administrators was in place, everything was unofficially decided by Bimal Gurung, Roshan Giri and Binay Tamang and we had to only give our signatures for the list of projects. They would fix contractors for all works. This is like pot calling the kettle black."

He added: "I spent my personal money to fence my land and do other works... if one is to talk about public funds being misused, one must also talk about Rs 50 lakh being given from the MP fund to the Kanchenjungha Public Academy."

Kanchenjungha Public Academy is a CBSE-affiliated high school at Tukvar, 10km from here, and run by a trust. Gurung is believed to be the brain behind it. Told about Chhetri's counter-charge, Tamang said: "The school is run by a trust. We can assure you that not a single rupee from the MP fund has been used in the school. As the ex-officio member, Harka had signed on every document. Now, he says everything was decided unofficially by the Morcha leaders."


GTA Casual workers welcome state govt’s salary increase order

9:46 PM

Darjeeling 29 Feb 2016 The casual workers of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration have welcomed the state government’s decision to increase their salary even as they said their long pending demand for regularisation should also be addressed ahead of the Assembly election. The state government’s finance department has issued Order No.1107-F (P) dated February 25, 2016 to revise the benefits and salary of the contractual workers. More than 5,000 workers in the GTA are working on contract basis and they have long been demanding for regularisation. The workers were initially inducted into the now-defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on contract basis and were paid meagre amounts as remuneration.

In 2007, workers under the aegis of the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) started an agitation demanding permanent status.

In 2011, the state government came up with a formula and put the casual workers in a pay-band structure that included employees of the A and B categories as well. Accordingly, Grade C and D casual workers who had been receiving a monthly salary of Rs2,500 started getting between Rs7,000 and Rs8,500 from 2011. Now, the state government has proposed to increase the salary of the grade C and D workers to Rs20,000 and Rs22,000, respectively, provided the workers have been working for more than 20 years. This aside, the state government has also decided to enhance the remuneration by 3 per cent every year. Welcoming the order, JAKS spokesperson Deepak Sharma said today, “Our primary demand is and will remain regularisation. But we definitely welcome the state government’s decision to increase our salary because this was the need of the hour.” The JAKS had also filed a petition in the high court seeking regularisation and the appeal has been upheld. The state government was directed to start the process of regularisation but it is yet to be implemented. “We sought the court’s help and received a positive verdict. However, the regularisation process has not yet started and we fail to understand why despite the court’s directive. It appears the state government has some plan up its sleeves and the increase in salary is just a diversion,” Sharma said. At present, the GTA has 5,321 casual workers in its payroll with grade C and D employees comprising nearly 90 per cent of the workforce. The state government’s order mentions these workers, but there are no specifications for Grade A and B employees even though they are also included in the existing pay-band structure. “We want the state government to look into this aspect also as the Grade A and B workers are being left out of the increment. We feel that since there isn’t any A and B grade in Bengal, the state government may have overlooked this aspect with regard to the hills while making the revision,” the JAKS spokesperson said.


Are Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the Dooars part of India?

10:25 AM
Writes: Former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar

A group of Kathmandu-based Nepalese lawyers has filed a petition before the World Court at The Hague challenging India's sovereignty over the Darjeeling hill areas.

It bases its case on Article 8 of the Indo-Nepalese treaty of 1950 which cancels all previous "treaties and engagements" entered into between Nepal and the British authorities in India "so far as matters dealt with herein are concerned".

Through a deed of grant dated 1835, "the hill of Darjeeling" was ceded to India by the raja of Nepal "on account of its cool climate, for the purpose of enabling the servants of the governor-general's government, suffering from sickness, to avail themselves of its advantages". Darjeeling thus came to India as a sanatorium!

The Kathmandu lawyers argue that as Article 8 of the 1950 treaty extinguishes all treaties and engagements concluded by the British, Darjeeling, ceded by such an engagement, must revert to Nepal. The petition will doubtless be rejected by the World Court on the ground that, in terms of the statutes of the World Court, the Government of India cannot be impleaded without its consent. This, however, would be a procedural dismissal. A substantive rebuttal of the petition's arguments is what needs to be made.
Are Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the Dooars part of India?
Map of India in 1805
The mere fact of the petition could spark a fire on the hill. For the Indian Gorkha dreads nothing more than reabsorption into Nepal. And nothing angers him more than being told that the Indian Gorkha and the Nepalese Gorkha, like Natha Singh and Prem Singh, are one and the same thing.
They are not. After all, no Bengali likes being mistaken for a Bangladeshi; any Thanjavur Tamil would resent being looked on as a Jaffna Tamil; and no Indian Punjabi would take it lying down if he were labelled a Pakistani Punjabi.

The problem is particularly acute for the Indian Gorkha as, unlike the Jaffna Tamil or the Pakistani Punjabi, the Nepalese Gorkha has the unfettered right to live and work in this country. Indeed, a Nepalese Gorkha is not only entitled but encouraged to join the Indian Army.

Uncertain of their national status, apprehensive of their future, confounded by an identity crisis imposed upon them, the Indian Gorkhas, under their leader, Subhas Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), have for over a decade been pleading for the removal of ambiguity about the implications of Article 8.

At the same time, they have asked why the Government of India is paying Rs 5 lakh annually to the Government of Bhutan for retaining Kalimpong and the Dooars in the Union of India. Why pay rent for land that should be ours? The annual payment is an international obligation contracted by us under Article 3 of the India-Bhutan treaty of 1949.

Does this mean these territories are Bhutanese properties, held on lease by India? Will it take another GNLF agitation to get the Government to squarely answer these ambiguities? The last agitation was ended in 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi finally persuaded a blinkered Jyoti Basu to concede a measure of executive autonomy to a besieged micro-minority. In the decade that has passed, the Left Front Government in Calcutta has done everything it can to sabotage the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

Funds have been diverted, held back, denied. The ludicrous argument is made, by a CPI(M) that has salted away uncounted crores into the personal ledger accounts of its cadres, that the DGHC is misusing the peanuts thrown at it.

Darjeeling district is that only in name: more than half its area falls in the plains and vast tracts of hill areas inhabited by Indian Gorkhas have been segregated and placed in the adjacent district of Jalpaiguri. The same goes for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency: two-thirds of the votes are in the plains and fellow Gorkhas have been pushed into adjacent constituencies.

At the Centre, funds for the DGHC are not being sent directly to Darjeeling but funnelled through Calcutta; the CPI(M) not only mulcts its share of the booty but uses its purse strings to make DGHC councillors dance to its tune. Where the memorandum of settlement specified that the "Gorkha language" would be included in the 8th Schedule, the Centre, utterly gracelessly, put it down as "Nepali" and then clarified that that means the same as "Gorkhabhasha". There is insensitivity all around, in Delhi as much as in Calcutta.

Which is why the fire on the hill is being stoked. The fire can yet be doused if three steps are taken. One, on the model of the special constitutional provisions for Tuensang district of Nagaland, the executive and legislative authority of the West Bengal Government in the Darjeeling hill areas is made subject to the DGHC's concurrence, and central funds for the DGHC are channelled direct to Darjeeling.

Two, the district of Darjeeling is reconstituted to include all, and only, Gorkha hill areas, and Parliament's delimitation commission is approached to redraw the boundaries of the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency to ensure a voice for the Indian Gorkha in Parliament.

Three, all ambiguities are removed about the national status of the Indian Gorkhas and the land they inhabit.

Otherwise, the gathering momentum towards a Gorkha Pradesh, that is, the separation of the hill areas from the plains, might prove irresistible. Those who wish to avoid another partition of Bengal had best attend to making the Gorkhas feel a valued part of Bengal.
This article was originally published on Feb 2, 1998 in INDIA TODAY originally posted at:

Does this make the Mr. Aiyar anti-National too?

Via TheDC

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