Showing posts with label Editorial. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Editorial. Show all posts

GORKHAS UNSAFE IN BENGAL – Removal of names from voters list, points to a bleak future

7:21 AM

Writes Upendra

"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me - and by then there was no one left to speak out for me."
                                                                                                           - Pastor Martin Niemöller

Of late, a very scary trend has started in our Darjeeling hills, notices are being issued to those Gorkhaland supporters who have gone underground or missing, asking for them to show up at various designated Government offices with 'relevant documents by a certain date', barring which their names will be removed from the voters list.' In a democratic nation like India, where Majority will always thrive, this is a very scary scenario unfolding for the minorities, and especially for micro-minority communities like the Gorkhas, it could translate to the end of any and all forms of resistance and rebellion against the powers that be.

Legally and technically, the district administration is entitled to seek revision of voters list, and as per rule if a person doesn’t live at a local address for over 6 months, her/his name can be removed. The most famous such case was the removal of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name from the Lucknow Municipal electoral list in September of 2017. However, Mr. Vajpayee had been residing in Delhi for long, and the removal of his name didn't really affect his fundamental right as a citizen of our great nation.

However, in Darjeeling region, the district administration is using this rule to target those Gorkhaland supporters against whom various cases have been filed, and who have gone or remained underground, for fear of injustice looms large.

In such a situation, the people who are missing, cannot and in all likelihood will not, file for their names to be transferred to other jurisdiction to register as voters. Removal of any name from an electoral roll means such individuals cannot exercise their basic duty as a citizen of our nation - to elect the government of its choice. In a country like India, where criminals of all hues and colours thrive, it is rare for the state government to pursue individuals in a manner which deprives them of their citizenship rights. Case in point, Vijay Mallya still features in the electoral list in Bangalore, and Sanjay Dutta - a convicted terrorist supporter/helper also features in the voter list of Mumbai.

What is worrisome in this exercise the district administration has embarked upon, is that, it cruelly curtails our 'right to protest' against a powerful government. The government, in such a case may slap severe charges (actual and fabricated) against any individual forcing him or her to go underground, and then the government may proceed to struck off the name from the electoral roll, thus barring that individual from becoming a part of the democratic process of our nation - they won't get to vote or contest in elections. Which translates to the government, if it so desires, being able to slap cases against its political opponents, cause them to run and then remove their names from the electoral roll, thereby emptying the political field.

Moreover, the government may, if it so decides, start this process of review for everyone from the micro-minority community who have lived outside their home constituency for over 6 months. Imagine, if such a scenario were to play out, almost everyone who were yelling 'Gorkhaland' at Jantar-Mantar or writing and shouting for/against it from anywhere outside Darjeeling region, may actually not retain their voting rights in Darjeeling, if the government of West Bengal decides to take a more draconian stance.

What is really worrisome, in all this is the silence of ALL THE GORKHA POLITICIANS. May be, many are secretly rejoicing at the prospect of having the names of their most detested opponents removed from the voting list, but what they seem to fail to realize is that someday, this same tool of oppression can be and will be used against them. As the Nepali adage goes, " ऊसलाई  खाने बाघले तिमिलाई पनि खान्छ है  - one cannot ride a tiger forever, the tiger will eventually get hungry and run out of other animals to devour." Their silence speaks volumes about how strongly they feel about the welfare of our community.

In comparison when BJP threatened to kick out illegal Bangladeshi refugees from Assam, the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee went on record to challenge the BJP and threatened them with dire consequences if even a single Bangladeshi was touched - forget Indians, she fought for the rights of Bangladeshis, and here in our hills, the Gorkha politicians who are busy serving under her, are instead defending cops who allegedly threatened one of our Gorkha mother and a sister with rape.

Perhaps such is the curse of being born a Gorkha, we seem to be loyal to everyone else, but our own people.

The politics of Vendetta which had consumed a generation of our people, has today infested our community again. When Subash Ghising was removed from the hills GJM had rejoiced, today when Bimal Gurung is removed and hounded similarly, GNLF is rejoicing, so is AT-BT group of GJM. While CPRM, ABGL and JAP have maintained a seemingly dignified silence, their silence too speaks out loud about how they feel about the whole issue. In the race to play the politics of vendetta, the Gorkhas are losing big time. Today we have become so fragmented that we cannot even dare to speak against this hounding out of Gorkhas from our own lands.

It has begun with the missing GJM leaders, but I am certain, this is just the beginning. The Bengal government will use this on everyone of us, who dare to raise our voice for the welfare of our community and people. From asking for "Family tree since 1950" to those who went to seek residential certificate the Bengal government has made it abundantly clear that they view all of us with suspicion. If we are not careful today, a day may come when the Gorkhas will be rendered homeless. Much like what happened in the rest of North East could end up happening here, and we may end up being rendered homeless in our own lands.

So, please speak out against what's happening in Darjeeling today. Because if we let this trend continue, soon a day may come, when you may want to speak out, but your tongues may have been cut without you even realizing it.

Remember, "if you are afraid to speak out against tyranny, you are already a slave"

Via TheDC


3:33 PM
Editorial: Upendra

Bengal Cheap Minister repeatedly claims "Pahar Hasche," perhaps she doesn't realize its the laughter of amusement at her folly.

While Chowrasta is the heart and soul of Darjeeling, for "bharomohila in power" it is like a Ram Lila Maidan where she can do her political circus, every time she visits Darjeeling. She has no respect for the local sentiments, she has no understanding of our deepest connection with Chowrasta, and yet she claims "Pahar Hasche"

She claims that she loves Darjeeling, but at the end of the day she wants to build a Hawkers Market in Chowrasta and she nearly succeded in doing so... had it not been for the outrage our people showed, by now Chowrasta would be another Maccha Bazar...

Every time she heads up the hills, there is a dread among the truly Darjeeling loving people... is she going to divide the hill populace along ethnic lines more? is she going to go on another round of ego-trip and order a building to be demolished? is she going to transfer an honest and upright officer, just because s/he didn't follow Her Majesties delusional orders?
Mamata Banerjee will you ever desecrate Belur Math for your political grandstanding or Victoria Memorial for that matter? if your answer is NO, then what gives you the right to desecrate our beloved Chowrasta every time you visit Darjeeling?

No the politicians and social activists won't outrage over this issue, for it doesn't bother them at all, but its high time that we - the ordinary people of Darjeeling outraged.

How long will we allow idiots who are politicians to ruin our hills?

Source TheDC

Politics can stay away for 10 years

8:08 AM

Vivek Ghatani

The toy train and National Highway 55 have become prodigious synonyms in the hills. The landslides are the spot spoiler therefore giving fresh headaches to the authorities of the small train. Not anymore for the highway authorities because as long as the highway is not repaired and maintained, all troubles is the small train headache.

The fresh landslides affected direct train services for DHR is a testimony of how poor developed are the hills. But people in politics are not really worried for it as the more time they take to repair, the longer is their political extension. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) can escape here because you have no authority to repair the road that has been non-functional since years.

How on earth residents along National Highway 55 are spending life has no impact on the leaders of recent times in the hills. Ofcourse for them there are always more options. The Rohini Road has served best options for Kurseong and Darjeeling to reach Siliguri. Simultaneously a resident in Tindharia has to pay Rs 40 per head per ride when they have to reach Siliguri or Kurseong. That alone means a fare of Rs 80 (up and down) abruptly raising the expense.

The DHR has bored the brunt of major landslides like the residents along Mahanadi, Ghayabari and Tindharia. The small train, infamous all over the world for its manoeuvring engineering works, has been on the low side when it comes to allocation of budget for its maintenance from the centre. The earning for the DHR reportedly has dipped down drastically thus making it difficult to sustain.

The restoration of Highway could have well supported the sustainability for both DHR and residents. Time has come for the Mamata Banerjee to deliver her Switzerland promise for the hills although Calcutta never turned into London as she ascertained.

Politics can stay aside in the hills for some 10 years now because the past three decades of politics for Gorkhaland has hindered development in a greater scale. The loss for no development or rather maintenance of what it has can invariably felt by the common man

When Leaders lack sincerity and acts confused

2:06 PM
Vivek Ghatani for Indian Gorkhas

The day when Gorkhas scattered in India hankered for a homeland must have surely been a hapless day. Because if it takes more than 100 years to achieve statehood – infact still agitating for a dream homeland --- then there is certainly lack of quality leadership and the leaders are either acting confused or muddled.
Subash Ghishing and Bimal Gurung when Leaders lack sincerity and acts confused
Subash Ghishing and Bimal Gurung when Leaders lack sincerity and acts confused
So when leaders are confused or muddled, they happen to be in a centre of hullabaloo somewhat like a clown in a circus adored and laughed at, ultimately forgotten after the show.  For a clown performing trick allows him to earn bread. Once he under-performs, you can read he is in the last day of his career.

The consequence therefore is crammed at one place prowling to find a way out but with no major triumph. Unfortunately, the Madan Tamang murder case is serving not just as good a trick for Calcutta but a curse for the Gorkhas scattered in India; leave alone the godly leadership which is no less than a clown.

In India where you get zero unless you ask for it, making even the slightest mistake can leave you deserted. The Gorkha homeland issue has got profuse slip-ups right from when the agitation began in the late eighties. The leaders, who were given charge by the mass, have no less been a clown in the circus. They earned and then perished leaving things where they were. In other words, they are short of tricks to woe people or their stock of tricks is on the verge of expiration.

When it comes to homeland issue in the hills of Darjeeling people are sober, leaders inopportunely jumble them. When they agitated in late eighties, they were forced to accept an autonomous body. When they agitated in 2007-2011, they were again forced a similar body as earlier.  The blame is not to be bestowed upon Delhi or Calcutta. It is only that the tricks are not working. The trick tactlessly is of paramount significance to a leader not for the spectators.

Now or never for the Gorkhas

8:24 PM
By Vivek Ghatani

Politics is an art to analyse and go with the demand of the people. Ofcourse the Trinamool Congress friends up in the hills has mistakenly taken for granted that ‘development’ plank is the key to win elections. Unfortunately, not the hearts of the hill people which despite winds and storms are always throbbing for a separate statehood.

Now or never for the Gorkhas
I will take the “dreams of the Gorkhas”, Gorkhaland to the Parliament
- S. S. Ahluwalia said to the public gathered for his support.
This is why the Darjeeling parliamentary seat goes to the BJP – now the single largest party at the centre. It is a surprising wonder why Trinamool supporters in the hills although knowing that hill politics and outfits survive on the plank ‘Gorkhaland’ were out with a development plank and agreed to field a footballer who is respected for his soccer talents rather than a politician. 

The immaturity shown at this level of politics from the hill Trinamool camp is a mere sign of dividing hill people meant to oppose the statehood. It is no surprise to see the Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) joining hands with the NDA as an ally. This is where Mamata Bannerjee and her hill supporters have lost a battle of high spirit in the logger head despite a thumping win. The TMC has won 34 out of the 42 seats but to remain as a spectator. 

That Gurung making foray in NDA and Mamata out from it speaks volumes of what is in store in the future. Although this may not be regarded that ‘Gorkhaland’ is right away on the cards. There was a time when Mamata was in a commanding position to hook knock the Gorkhaland agitation led by Gurung but the spectrum of command has changed with Gurung getting a place in the NDA by just supporting BJP in one seat. 

The roadway to Gorkhaland now has been an easier path for the GJM for which it does not have to beg the Bengal government. Ofcourse it is to see for the BJP how it delivers its promise to fulfill the dream of the Gorkhas. Easier said than done, fulfilling the statehood demand is not an easy task for the BJP either though it is in a commanding position. 

But there isn’t impossible to anything and Telangana formation is a perfect example to it. For the hills now, be it our Trinamool friends, GNLF, CPRM, ABGL, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) or Dr. Mahendra P.Lama time has come to show its strength. 

Having said that the blame game should be over now and focus on the achieving what is required. There is no question of only GJM taking the initiative for unification. Any force has the right to do so. Politics is an art of analysing as said earlier. The analysis says unification is the need for the next five years.  If now, it is never for the Gorkhas again. 

Time for BJP to deliver Gorkha sentiments

12:09 PM
Vivek Ghatani

The other day I joked with my Bengali friends. I told them the Darjeeling parliamentary seat – considered prestigious both for Bimal Gurung and Mamata Bannerjee in West Bengal politics – being won with a huge margin by the BJP for the second consecutive time is equivalent to creation of Gorkhaland. I told my Bengali colleague with smiles, “We have achieved Gorkhaland since BJP has won Darjeeling”. 

Shri SS Ahluwalia polled a total of 488257 Votes defeating TMC Baichung Bhutia with a margin of 197239 Votes
Shri SS Ahluwalia polled a total of 488257 Votes defeating TMC's Baichung Bhutia with a margin of 197239 Votes

My colleague however in a sudden gesture replied, “The number at the centre is 280 plus and it is not impossible for you to attain state. The fact that a coalition government is a hindrance even for the leaders to work and had it been just a coalition government too i would have denied our claim. Didi has no role to play at the centre and that is a plus point for the Gorkha demand”.  

However, keeping jokes aside speaking right away now for ‘Gorkhaland’ it is time that the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) pay back the Gorkhas for supporting them not only in Darjeeling but across the country. The 16th parliamentary polls like in the other parts of the country in Darjeeling too, were fought amidst tight contest. The BJP’s magic figure of 280 plus also has Gorkha sentiments and It is now or never for the Gorkhas of Indian origin to solve their identity crises. 

The Gorkhas in Darjeeling has braved the Mamata tirade twice in giving the BJP successive wins which they failed to do so in nooks and corner of the state apart from Asansol.  The last time Gorkhas supported BJP it won the Darjeeling seat with even much huge margin but was unlucky not to find BJP at the helm of affairs. All political pundits cursed the Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for wrong calculation. And this time Bimal has made it right to find BJP not only at the seat of power but with a single largest majority in 500 plus capacity parliamentary.

Time has come for Bimal Gurung and company to halt thinking about development or GTA and rejuvenate for lobbying in the national capital at the earliest that can earn them a good response. The BJP might play a spoilsport because it is eyeing the Bengal Assembly polls after having stood second in most of the constituencies.  

Two hill stations lack strong media

9:54 PM
Where media is considered to be the third pillar in a democracy, the quaint hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim are in a shamble to find the local media impact to keep in control the politicians, the government or for that matter a body like Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). 

Two hill stations lack strong media
The standard of journalism in this both hill stations where we saw pitched battles among political rivals, it draws attention that the media especially the vernacular print editions did not highlight the core issues in a bid to put forward a clear picture of what the battling outfits are upto before both the regions voted on April 12 and 17. 

An unestimated figure tells that Sikkim has around 3 to 4 vernacular dailies, approximately 3 English dailies that are popular while in Darjeeling apart from English dailies published from Siliguri, there is a vernacular daily that is popular among the people in the hills. 

By speaking of standard journalism, one expects that newspapers now should come to the level of journalism which Bengali dailies has reached in its endeavour to tell the people truth on what is happening. After years, the dailies that are popular in both the regions are still following the same old trend in journalism that keeps them away from controversy. Obviously, with limited readers it is understood that these dailies does not want to fall into controversy for reasons that it would not survive long.

But given that fact that time has come for the print media in both the regions to be stronger, it is recommendable that the format of the news be altered. The people of the region have been suffering for long and have no proper message delivering medium which is keeping them behind. In trying to keep its circulation intact, the media has been promoting events and news which actually in any newspaper does not find a place. 

That a committee of a particular organization is formed in reality does not fir in the format of news but correspondents or reporters have been flooding the desk with such items. For readers this has been forcefully imposed for them to read.

Eventually, there is lack of strong media that highlights core issue, problems, controversies and many more.      


8:10 PM
The Gorkhas have been talking of guarding the country. They raised their heads high when the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi described them as “Brave Gorkhas” and “trusted more than the police” recently.  The two incidents of rape on a 3 year old and 4 year old both in the Kalimpong subdivision recently is a shameful act to counter the comments from BJP bigwig.
Enough is Enough Stop Rape...
The rape on minors, apart being a shameful one would send a wrong signal to those who has been tagging the Indian originated Gorkhas often as citizens of Nepal. Two minors one from Teesta, 16 km from Kalimpong and the other from near Sikkim-Bengal border were allegedly raped and the culprits arrested. Ofcourse, cases of rape in both sensitive Darjeeling hills and Sikkim are on the rise which needs immediate check.

Irrespective of political colour, rising above the conducive atmosphere, people and the law makers should deal with these cases in a strict manner without any favour so that such incident does not put the Gorkhas in an awkward position. Because, no matter what to some extent the community despite fighting for identity crises is only respected in India for their honesty in guarding the country.  

The shameful act like this will make things ugly for the community. The community had walked through the streets with candles in their hands protesting against the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape case. But today neither nearby Sikkim bothered to even hold a protest rally against the incident even when such heinous act occurred near them. 

The literary lot, presently in deep sleep, in both the regions has a work for themselves to do. Coming out from the honorary level is the need of the hour. Writing stories in Nepali and waiting for the award is not only the mantra to be in the list of literary figures. The society needs your education to multiply more literacy rate in the hills of both Darjeeling and Sikkim.     

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