TMC supporter who had called Jai Shree Ram a ‘call of terror’ now calls Gorkhas ‘infiltrators’ on national TV
|Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling|
Following are West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement in chowk Bazar, Darjeeling today at the public meeting.
1.) The compensation of the tea garden workers during 105 days strike (Rs 15000) to be given in terms of humanity after the election.
2.) The landright documents to be given to the resident of Tea Estate, Cinchona plantation , Muncipality and D.I. Fund areas.
3) The national identity and Security of the Gorkhas to be fulfilled.
4) Three MLS to be from GJM
5) resumption of registration of flats and private properties in Darjeeling Municipality Area.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has played her cards well, now the ball is on the other side of the court. With these announcements she has urged people to vote for Amar Singh Rai, Tronamool candidate from Darjeeling in the upcoming Lok Sabha Election.
Writes: Dr Vimal Khawas
The Gorkhas of Darjeeling Hills, as initially decided, could not arrive at a common consensus candidate. Therefore, a total of sixteen (16) potential and aspiring candidates affiliated to various political parties as well as those desiring to contest as independent candidates have filed their nominations for the position of the Member of Parliament from Darjeeling Lok Sabha Constituency in the upcoming General Elections, 2019. Darjeeling Constituency is, perhaps, one of the most fiercely contested constituencies in the country today.
If we closely examine the current electoral landscape in the region, the pattern broadly looks as follows:
Clearly, chances of an independent candidate to emerge victoriously are slim to none, both because of their past political baggage and also due to the lack of their ability to create an adequate platform for grassroots mobilizations. Further, lesser political parties like, CPIM, BSP, IDRF, GRC and even national parties like INC may also not be able to wield much impact in the ensuing election due to both local and regional political dynamics.
Consequently, there are primarily two probable political scenarios to choose from before us for this election. Leaving aside political contenders highlighted above, the real fight is only between TMC (supported by GJMM2) and BJP (supported by GJMM1 and GNLF).
If we vote for TMC and make them victorious, there is a very high degree of probability that Mamata Banerjee would gradually grab the entire region under her fold. This election is just a gateway for Mamata and her party TMC to bigger political shares in the region via MLA and GTA elections, subsequently. The steady increase of TMC domination in the hills also means steady uprooting and waning of Gorkha identity and Gorkha political aspirations. They are inversely related to each other.
Under such a situation, in a decade or two, the entire notion of Gorkha and Gorkhaland may have been rendered irrelevant! We may be only referred to as a Thapa, a Chettri, a Bhujel, a Damai, a Rai, a Kami, a Sherpa, a Limbu, a Lepcha, a Bahun, a Dukpa, a Sarki, a Newar or Nepalis and many times immigrant Nepalis. We would, most probably, cease to be the Gorkhas. No one would have the guts to utter ‘Jai Gorkha’. We all may collectively and/or forcefully be made to chant ‘Jai Bangla’.
She is already on her way up the hills with a number of detrimental political cards. Her Development Board approach is one of the ways forward in this regard. She would never go for such appeasement politics had she loved the region and its people, to the extent of dividing the Gorkhas into ethnic lines. More importantly, TMC’s unscientific and draconic handling of the 2013 and 2017 Gorkhaland agitation/uprising is yet another critical example of how it perceives the Gorkhas and their long pending aspirations in the region.
If we vote for BJP and render them victorious, nothing may happen. The last 10 years were rather fruitless and going by that trend, the next five years may not bear fruit, either.BJP may be busy spreading its political and strategic tentacles across geographical spaces of the country with its Hindutva card. It may keep on struggling to take control of Bengal but without any notable results. BJP would not give us Gorkhaland! They have their state government in Assam. Has Bodoland been able to see the light of the day?
This MP would, in all likelihood remain a mere puppet within the larger framework and schemes of Bharatiya Janata Party!
However, the Gorkhas will have the freedom to shout ‘Jai Gorkha’ and ‘We want Gorkhaland’ under BJP unlike under TMC which is fundamentally and ideologically against the idea of Gorkha and Gorkhaland! And yes Gorkhas would, at least, have the hope to have their own separate state called ‘Gorkhaland’ or to be known by any other name someday.
Sapana nai bhaye pani haami dekhneh chau ra dekhi rahaneh chau
The choice is ours, to opt for scenario #1 or #2. No one shall force us.
The unscientific, unorganized and premature conclusion of 2017 Gorkha uprising has deeply lowered the self-respect and dignity of the entire Gorkha community. It may be difficult to reinstate our old glory in the foreseeable future unless we unite and stay united. For the first time, I feel insecure to wear a T-shirt that reads ‘I support Gorkhaland’ even in Kalimpong, not to talk of Siliguri.
For me ‘Entry of TMC into Darjeeling Politics is beginning of the end of Gorkha Political Aspirations’
[Originally posted on : https://thedarjeelingchronicle.com/darjeeling-parliamentary-constituency-election-2019-and-the-gorkhas-some-observations/]
Like GJM , GNLF too decided to support TMC at the upcoming Panchayat election in Dooars.After 21 days of GJM announcement to support TMC from Bagrakot. GNLF too announced their support to TMC from Bagrakot yesterday.
Later GNLF president Mann Ghisingh, General Secretary Mahendra Chettri along with TMC leader Saurav Chakraborty , Mohan Sharma , MLA Buluchik Baraik held a joint press conference at Mal bazar. Speaking with the press Mahendra Chettri said GNLF keeping positive thought has come forward to support TMC at the upcoming Panchayat election.
Chettri further said we have come to Dooars to keep our stand clear that at the upcoming Panchayat election GNLF will support TMC at Dooars. Chettri also claimed that they have a good support of gorkhas residing at Alipurduwar and Jalpaiguri district
Darjeeling: In a major setback for the BJP, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Thursday announced its decision to forge an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in the forthcoming Panchayat elections, in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts. This comes on the heels of Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP) also throwing its weight behind the TMC in Dooars for the rural polls. The day saw a core committee and working committee meeting of GJM at Bagrakote in Jalpaiguri, from where this new political equation has emerged.
"We have decided to forge an alliance with the TMC in the two districts of Dooars for the rural polls. We will support TMC candidates in some Panchayats and in our strongholds, we will field independent candidates. A four-member GJM team will be visiting Dooars soon, to negotiate with TMC on seat sharing," stated Suraj Sharma, GJM Spokesperson. GJM top brass, including president Binay Tamang, was present in the meeting. When questioned on why the GJM decided to leave the BJP fold, Sharma stated: "BJP has let down the Gorkhas. There arenumerous instances of this. They have never been serious about the Gorkhas and have just used us for securing seats during elections."
He further stated that while the BJP-led Union government had called for a report within 3 hours of the recent Ranigunj strife, it remained a mere spectator during the 2017 unrest in Darjeeling and the 104-day-long bandh. "Whereas Mamata Banerjee has helped restore peace and normalcy in the Hills. We want Dooars to benefit also," added Sharma. The GJM has strongholds in several areas of Dooars.
Gangtok: Former Indian soccer star Bhaichung Bhutia has broken his silence on his resignation from Trinamul last month, accusing a section of party leaders of treating him like an "outsider" while signalling a political career in home state Sikkim.
"Since I was an outsider (in Bengal), I was opposed not just by the public but even by people in my own party," Bhaichung told The Telegraph on Wednesday, weeks after he had announced his resignation through a tweet.
Trinamul leaders declined comment but sources in the party claimed Bhaichung was trying to cosy up to the BJP to start his innings in Sikkim, where he is now on a Yuva Yatra (youth march) with some friends "to understand the ground reality".
"All that we get to hear is not reflected on the ground. There are good and bad things happening. We want to see the place, meet people and know the reality," Bhaichung said. Bhaichung said he would take a call on formally joining Sikkim politics before Assembly elections that would coincide with Lok Sabha polls next year. But options are limited for Bhaichung in his home state, where the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front is a member of the North-East Democratic Alliance, formed as a part of the BJP's "Congress-Mukt Northeast".
"People like Bhaichung, who make lateral entry into politics, normally join the ruling party... It is sad that he is complaining about Trinamul. The party gave him a lot of respect," said a Trinamul leader.
Trinamul nominated Bhaichung from the Darjeeling parliamentary seat in 2014 but he lost to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-backed BJP candidate S.S. Ahluwalia. Mamata Banerjee fielded him against CPM veteran Asok Bhattacharya in Siliguri in the 2016 Assembly polls, but he lost. Later, In June 2016, Bhaichung was made chairman of the North Bengal Board for Development of Sports.
"Bhaichung, was not very visible in Siliguri since the end of 2016. Finally, in February this year, he walked out of the party," said a Trinamul source.
On Wednesday, Bhaichung said "the lessons he learnt in Bengal" would hold him in good stead. Unlike in Bengal, where he was "thrown down from the top", he said he would work his way up from the bottom in his home state.
Party sees chance after SC blow to Bimal
Vivek Chhetri (Telegraph)
Darjeeling: Trinamul has decided to renew political activities in the hills following a directive from the leadership which believes normality has returned to the region.
The immediate reason is last week's Supreme Court judgment which rejected charges of bias in the probes against Bimal Gurung, cornering the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader further while he remains in hiding.
Shubhamoy Chatterjee, working president of Trinamul (hills), said on Monday: "Given the (turbulent) situation in the hills (earlier), we had been directed by the party leadership to remain inactive. We have now received directions from Calcutta to renew political activities in the hills afresh."
Trinamul had suffered as most of its supporters and many leaders resigned during the statehood agitation last year, preferring to lie low for 10 months.
The TMC leadership has, however, repeatedly stressed that it is not looking to expand its base at the cost of the hill-based Morcha or the Gorkha National Liberation Front
BJP demands peace committee to contain violence in Darjeeling
KOLKATA: The BJP today criticised the West Bengal government for failing to contain violence in the Darjeeling hills and demanded that a peace committee be formed to restore peace. "The TMC administration has completely failed to contain violence in the hills.
There was no shut down or violence in the hills for last three years. But, the TMC, which is trying to establish its own political hegemony in the hills, did everything to provoke violence and disturbance in the hills," BJP MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia told PTI.
Ahluwalia questioned the reason behind deployment of the Army when the entire state cabinet is present in the hills. "When the entire state cabinet including the Chief Minister is present in the hills, why did the administration failed to control the situation? What was the reason behind deployment of Army? We will talk to the Union Home Ministry regarding the situation.
We demand that a peace committee be formed immediately in the hills with GJM and state administration to restore peace and normalcy," he said. Two columns of Army were deployed in the restive Darjeeling town today after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters clashed with the police, damaged police vehicles and set some of them ablaze while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a cabinet meeting there.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today asked the residents of Mirik to switch off lights for two hours tomorrow evening when Mamata Banerjee will attend a government programme there.
The Morcha also appealed to students and people to wear black badges during the chief minister's tour of the hills as part of an intensified agitation against the state government's decision to make Bengali learning compulsory at schools.
Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, said: "We call upon people to switch off lights for two hours from 6pm tomorrow to protest against the imposition of Bengali language on the hill people. We will think that those who don't switch off lights are against Gorkhaland and our language."
The chief minister is slated to attend a government programme at Mirik from 5pm tomorrow.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said the blackout would be restricted to Mirik.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung, along with senior leaders, took part in a march from Ghoom railway station to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, a distance of about 8km, today to protest against the language issue.
Mamata will be in Darjeeling for four days from Tuesday. The state cabinet is scheduled to meet in Darjeeling on Thursday.
The Morcha has lined up marches across the hills during the chief minister's tour of the region.
"We request students from Class V onwards to wear black badges at schools till June 9. We also appeal to general public to move around with black badges," said Giri.
Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said permission would be denied to the Morcha to take out processions in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8 "since there will be the movement of a lot of ministers for a government event".
"They could hold processions at other places," added Javalgi.
The police chief said: "We had given permission to hold rallies today. We are giving them (Morcha) permission to organise marches tomorrow (even in Mirik) on condition that they should be peaceful and democratic and should not disturb any government programmes."
Giri said the marches would be peaceful and the Morcha would seek permission for the same in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8.
He asked people to attend a rally from Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling on June 6 in traditional attire. Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan is about 1km from Richmond Hill where Mamata would be staying during her visit.
In Siliguri, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijavargiya said the state government should have held talks with those who had reservation about the language decision.
"Instead, the state decided to impose a language on the hill people which led to the agitation. Their sentiments have been hurt. The state has made an undesirable move in a democratic system," he said.
Minister Gautam Deb today said in Siliguri: "People are not supporting the Morcha's agitation. Trinamul supporters are relentlessly working to build opinion against the movement. Bimal Gurung is fast losing his support base in the hills and is trying to retain it by duping people."
He said Mamata would reach Bagdogra tomorrow and head for Mirik.(TT)
The Trinmool Congress yesterday organized a rally and demanded that the ongoing trial relating to Madan Tamang murder case be expedited. In addition, the TMC pasted posters across Darjeeling towns and question the delay by CBI in concluding the investigation and the delay in trial.
Speaking to the Press, TMC leader Ms. Sharada Subba said, "even after so many years have passed, those who murdered Gorkha leader Madan Tamang are roaming free and justice is yet to be delivered... so even though the matter is sub-judice we have been forced to comment."
When asked to comment on the timing of the demand for arresting Madan Tamang murder case being raised as protest over Language issue is intensifying, TMC working President NB Khawas said, "these are two separate issues, we will protest the delay in justice for the family of Late. Madan Tamang and we will continue this protest as long as justice is not delivered."
Hill TMC says no to compulsory Bengali: To speak to Mamata Banerjee in Mirik
With the opposition to implementing Bengali being spearheaded by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gaining momentum, the TMC (hills) yesterday said it had spoken to party high commands in Kolkata to not make it mandatory in the hill schools.
The hill TMC leaders finding themselves in an awkward situation given the sentiments attached with the issue organized a public meeting in Darjeeling town today to clear the air. ““Yesterday, I spoke with Partha Chatterjee, the state education minister to know more about the issue and also apprise him about our stand. I told him that the state government should allow the present system under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to continue. Bengali as an option is okay but we will not accept if it is made compulsory,” asserted Rajen Mukhia, the hill TMC president, today.
The local TMC leaders did not find anything amiss to have Bengali as an optional language in the hill schools saying it was important to learn new languages. “We (TMC hill leaders) are also sons of the soil and Gorkhas. Knowing Bengali will stand us in good stead as the language is most spoken in the plains where we often visit. However, we too will not accept if Bengali is made compulsory on us,” reiterated Mukhia.
Schools and colleges remained closed today in the hills. The GJM has asked educational institutions to close for two days on June 1 and 2, in protest against the alleged imposition of Bengali in the region’s schools.
Mukhia though alleged GJM was politicizing the issue by spreading false rumours. “GJM is playing with the sentiments of the people for political gains. No government orders or circulars have been issued so far. I want to tell the heads of schools here that the rumours are false. We will take up the matter with chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Mirik on June 5,” the hill TMC president said.
When asked to comment on the GJM rallies from June 4 to 8 during the Bengal CM’s visit to the region, the hill TMC president said, “We have come to know that they (GJM) will show black flags to the chief minister. We want to say here that she (Banerjee) besides being the state’s CM is also our leader. If she is shown black flags than we too will reciprocate it on their party president (Bimal Gurung ) during his programs,” Mukhia retorted.
Mirik, May 29: From today, Mirik will be Trinamul's new signpost in the Darjeeling hills.
The party is expected to announce and implement a slew of schemes for the hill town and showcase Mirik before the hill people as the example of Mamata Banerjee's development agenda.
"So far, Bengal ministers and Trinamul leaders have highlighted the projects taken up by the state government in the hills. But from now onwards, the new civic board will implement projects in Mirik. The entire Mirik subdivision will witness comprehensive development. It is because of the mandate of Mirik residents that our party is tasting power in the hills," a Trinamul leader here said today, soon after the party's L.B. Rai was sworn in as the Mirik chairman.
He said Mirik would provide Trinamul with a launch-pad to penetrate the rest of the hills, especially before the coming polls to the GTA Sabha.
The Morcha will be under pressure to perform at the three other civic bodies in the hills. Morcha president Bimal Gurung had said after the civic poll results that people had given them "one last chance".
If the civic body in Mirik can establish that it is performing better than the three other boards, there will be more trouble for the Morcha.
Trinamul leader and minister Aroop Biswas affirmed that Rai and his colleagues would have a tough task at hand. "People here have huge expectations from Trinamul councillors and our party. It is obvious that they will have to perform and prove that the peoples' mandate was right. We will constantly monitor the civic body's functioning and extend all necessary help to them," Biswas said.
The hill town today wore a look of celebrations, with the flags of Trinamul and GNLF fluttering across Mirik. The six Trinamul councillors were taken to the municipality building in a bike rally organised by the party supporters.
Some of the councillors were riding pillion.
After the chairman and the vice-chairman were sworn in, the Trinamul supporters took out a procession in which the councillors and minister Biswas took part.
The march ended near Sumendu lake.
The three Morcha councillors left soon after they had taken oath and didn't wait to attend the first board meeting.
[via: Telegraph ]
Former GNLF leader and ex- MLA Mrs Shanta Chettri, who has been nominated as Trinamul Congress candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections, stood by the state government's decision to introduce Bengali language in schools and said that there is no harm in Learning a new language.
Moreover, according to the minister, Arup Biswas, Bengali will be added to the syllabus in schools as an 'optional' subject, which clearly means that only ‘interested' students need to take up the subject.
The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), on the other hand, has taken the ‘language issue' in a different perspective, and has been politicizing this matter for no appropriate reason, Mrs Shanta Chettri said.
"GJMM has totally politicalised this topic and created divisions among us. There is no imposition by the government; the gazette notification is not yet out but they have already created fuss about it everywhere," Mrs Chettri said.
As the students reach class V, they are given the liberty to choose any language out of Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, Dzhonka, or now Bengali, Mrs Chettri, who visited Kalimpong today to meet party cadres, said. She explained that Bengali was just a matter of third Language and it's up to the students to choose what to study.
After her nomination for the Rajya Sabha, she has been visiting every nook and corner of the Hills to assess the problems of the civilians.
Talking to reporters here, she assured to work for the people with utmost responsibility and said she will keep herself busy for some time by visiting various places so that she can identify people's problems and keep her word in the Raiya Sabha later.
‘The motive of my visit is mainly to meet people who are still hindered from getting their facilities and beneﬁts. In these ﬁve years, GTA has received crores of rupees from the Centre and the state government but is still failing to do its job right. Be it in the towns or outskirts, they have not done anywork anywhere' said Mrs Chettri.
[Via: The Statesman]
The strike in Darjeeling, held two days ago has been termed ‘a success’ by GJM, while TMC has called it an ‘absolute failure.’ What is funny is that almost all the Bengal based news media, other than the ones based in North Bengal, have toed the official line and reported that the strike was ‘unsuccessful.’ Surprised readers who were in Darjeeling watching the events unfold on the ground, were shocked to note how Bengali news channels were saying the vehicles are running smoothly, shops are open and life is going on as normal. A few of them even wrote to us, complaining about how Bengali channels were distorting the facts.
To be honest we have seen all of this happen over and over again. From 1986 to 2016, newspapers and media in Bengal have always been biased against the Gorkhaland issue. This is why TheDC was formed in November of 2013 to provide factual news from the hills, without any embellishments, addendums or modifications. Because we had come to realize that what is happening on the ground in Darjeeling, is not getting reported in the media, where as modified news, often misleading were being peddled as the truth.
Here is an example, “WILL GUNS BOOM IN BENGAL'S HILLS?” reads the headline from Aug 2013 when the Gorkhaland agitation was at its peak , in Times of India [Details: http://bit.ly/1qNAMAa]. If you read the article, you will see how they paint a picture of Darjeeling almost getting ready for an Armageddon, without any substance to prove their assertions, or use of named sources, they paint a picture of armed revolution about to unfold in Darjeeling hills. While most of the people in Darjeeling may scoff at the reporting, those from elsewhere in India who are unaware of the ground realities will naturally assume it’s the truth. This is how media in Bengal has manipulated the Gorkhaland agitation to paint a picture of our demand being that of ‘separatism from India, being funded by Nepal, Pakistan and China’ [Details: http://bit.ly/2cPcTKY].
So TMC claimed the strike was not successful on the 28th, and yesterday they took out a ‘Thank You’ rally to thank the people in the hills for opposing the ‘bandh.’ While hill people may have found it delusional, it serves a purpose. These rallies and events are not meant to thank the hill people, they are done to let Mamata and rest of Bengal know, whatever was reported in Kolkata based media on the 28th was true, and that the strikes were indeed unsuccessful.
But even the TMC leaders know in the hearts of their hearts that the hill people overwhelmingly supported the strike, and contrary to popular belief that it was done out of fear of the GJM, I believe it was done to let Mamata and Bengal know their diktats were not welcome in the hills.
In an unprecedented move, the Bengal government went all out to thwart the proposed strike. They imposed draconian diktats - like circulars were issued requiring every government servant to attend their office, failing which they will be show caused and anyone missing work due to strike would have 3 days pay cut. They required schools and colleges to remain open, threatened business, restaurants, hotels and taxis of cancellation of licenses and permits. In Mungpoo, TMC cadres did extensive miking telling the cinchona workers that if they don’t show up for work, they may lose their jobs in the near future. Such threats were issued all over the Darjeeling hills.
As if that was not enough, numerous platoons of Central Reserve forces and state police were brought down to ensure ‘law and order’ in the hills, and to top it all Bengal government sent 3 Ministers to monitor the strike and to ensure that the Bandh is not imposed.
In doing so they must have assumed that people do actually want to side with Bengal, but are not doing so due to fear of GJM. However, that is where Bengal overplayed their hand. They underestimated the ‘GORKHA’ factor.
We – the Gorkhas are a very simple group of people, if we love someone we will willingly die for them, but when someone tries to impose their will upon us, we tend to take a stand against it, no matter whatever are the consequences.
Despite 3 ministers, 10 development boards, entire district administration, massive deployment of security forces, entire TMC cadres from the hills + hired goons from the plains being present, fact remains that they couldn't keep Darjeeling hills open.
Ministers were seen banging on the doors and shutters of shut down shops forcing them to open... on the 28th, TMC completely lost the plot. While GJM announced the strike, they didn't impose it... whereas Bengal government used district administration and held meetings with hoteliers, travel agents, drivers associations, and shop keepers requiring them to keep their businesses open, but despite all their threats and cajoling when all their efforts failed and people supported the strike, they started to bang on the doors and shutters demanding opening of the businesses... Yet, they didn’t succeed.
Nothing is more telling than the picture shared below. Its from Kalimpong... generally this place is so crowded that there is not even enough room to stand... and on the 28th, not just the shops were closed, even the people chose not come out of their homes.
Without any prejudice, I feel that it was very unbecoming of the Ministers to go around forcing people to open their shops. It’s one thing to assure people of law and order helping them if required to keep their businesses open, but quite another to go around asking people to open shops, not with police but with party workers. The lines between a Minister of the Govt of Bengal and TMC party cadre was completely blurred in the hills on the 28th, and I am confident that the Hon’ble Ministers acted as party cadres instead of Government servants that day.
In bringing down a large contingent of security forces, in requiring schools to remain open, in banging on the doors and shutters of businesses and demanding that they remain open, Trinmool Congress and by extension the Bengal government were jeopardizing the lives of the people in the hills.
What if major clashes had broken out between bandh supporters and those opposing the bandh right at the time schools got off? Had school going children been caught in the cross-fire and injured, who would have been responsible? If shops and businesses were burned down and vandalized, would the Bengal government have compensated? If violence broke out, who would have been responsible?
In order to prove their might, the Bengal government crossed that sacred line which makes every government responsible for the safety, security and well-being of its citizens, and that is what boomeranged on them. The hill people decided to rebel and shut down their shops, businesses, vehicles and hotels.
Had TMC been a little more pragmatic, they could have let the bandh happen, as that would have put the hill people against GJM. People would have wanted to know, why they should shut down to justify GTA funds misuse allegations. But TMC being what it is, they took the bait and issued draconian orders.
The draconian measures undertaken by TMC party using West Bengal government administrative mechanisms to thwart the strike on September 28th, 2016 was seen as a trailer of how dictatorial it is going to get for Darjeeling and its people, if we choose not to adhere to their diktat. With less than 15% support in the hills, today TMC is already going dictatorial, imagine what will happen if their support reaches 20% or 30%?
This high handedness by TMC sent a direct message to the hill people, toe our line or we will make you do so.
Till TMC overdrive to ensure Bandh doesn’t happen, the hill people were against GJM, but the moment TMC decided to issue diktats, it became a matter of US vs Bengal, and that is where TMC lost the plot. People who don’t like GJM, decided to support the bandh, because they all felt that allowing Bengal to run its writ in Darjeeling would ruin our autonomy, and the latent desire for self-governance through Gorkhaland statehood was awakened.
GJM won the moral victory on the 28th, they requested and people shut down... TMC forced and people didn't open, and no matter how many channels report to the contrary, the fact remains that on September 28th, the hills stood united.
It may not have been in support of GJM, but it was definitely against TMC and its draconian diktats.
|Darjeeling Bandh - A File Photo|
HT, 27 Sep 2016, DARJEELING: The state government and district administration are getting ready to foil the 12-hour Darjeeling bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung on September 28.
While James Kujur, minister in-charge of tribal development, will oversee matters in Darjeeling on September 28, tourism minister Gautam Deb will be camping in Kalimpong and North Bengal.
“Forceful bandh has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court. We have made all necessary arrangements to tackle any eventuality. Senior police officials will be camping in Darjeeling,” said Darjeeling SP Amit P Javalgi.
A notification from the finance department, Government of West Bengal stated that all state government offices in the GTA area, including those provided with grants-in-aid by the state government, will remain open and all employees should report for duty from September 27 to September 29. Absence will result in show cause and salary deduction. Some exceptions including hospitalisation, death in the family have been made.
“Special arrangements for transport have been made. State transport department will run extra buses. We have asked all unions to ply their vehicles. We have tied up with companies to provide insurance in case vehicles are vandalised,” said district magistrate Anurag Shrivastava.
A circular from the transport department stated that the Regional Transport Officer will ensure that public transport remains uninterrupted. “Permits/ licenses are liable to be cancelled for willful non-plying of public service vehicles. Regional Transport Authority will be in charge of cancellation of permits and licenses,” said the circular.
“What can we do? We are caught between the GJM and the district administration. The district administration is pressurising us to keep our shops open. The GJM is saying just the opposite. For how long will the district administration provide us security? We will be marked,” said a shopkeeper.
“The bandh is not the fallout of a tussle between Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung. It is for Gorkhaland and Bengal’s suppression of the demand. We want to see the formation of Gorkhaland by 2019. All proGorkhaland people will support the bandh,” claimed Roshan Giri, general secretary, GJM Binay Tamang, assistant general secretary, GJM warned, “If the police and district administration use force, we will extend the 12-hour bandh and make it indefinite. The jurisdiction of the bandh will then spill over to Siliguri and Dooars.”
The GJM will be sending appeal letters to transport unions of Sikkim not to ply in GTA areas, mainly on National Highway 10 on the day of the bandh.
Though the bandh call was initially called to protest chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement that Rs 4000 crores has been allotted to the GTA in the past four-and-a half years, the GJM hurriedly added the “Gorkhaland” demand to the bandh call agenda- a perfect prescription for a successful strike.
Mamata has announced that under no condition will she allow the bandh to paralyze the Hills while Gurung is adamant to see the strike through.
GJM to spread bandh to plains if police "atrocities" continue
EOI DARJEELING 26 Sep 2016 Accusing the district police of intimidating traders, business establishments and vehicle syndicates to remain open on September 28, the proposed bandh day, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today warned of continuing the strike and even spreading it to Siliguri and the Dooars.
GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang said the party would make every effort to ensure a peaceful bandh on Wednesday. But he warned that recent police activities had the potential to create a flare-up.
“Why are the police going around and taking phone numbers of traders and syndicate members? Don’t we have the right to protest in a democratic manner by putting up posters, rallying and calling strikes?
If the police attempt to open offices, schools, business establishments forcibly and if the situation turns volatile, the state government and the district administration will have to take the blame,” he threatened.
The GJM has called a 12-hour bandh in the hills on Wednesday seeking clarification from the state government within September 27 on the claim made by chief minister Mamata Banerjee that Rs 4,000 crore has been allocated for development work and that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration had failed to execute it in the last four years.
The GJM assistant secretary said the party leadership was initially against calling the bandh, but for the intimidating statement by state minister Arup Biswas in Kalimpong on September 24. “It (Biswas' statement) has become an issue of challenge. We will definitely go ahead with our proposed bandh and even continue it and spread it to the plains if the police attempt to foil it,” said Tamang.
The GJM leader also said the party will be writing to Sikkim and apprise it about Wednesday’s bandh. “Since parts of NH-10 fall under Kalimpong sub-division, there is bound to be inconvenience.
We appeal to traders of Sikkim, vehicle owners and others to restrict their movements on the bandh day,” Tamang said.
Interestingly, the Gorkha National Student’s Front, a frontal organisation of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, will be holding its public meeting in Darjeeling on Wednesday. “We appeal to the GNLF student wing and their party president Mann Ghisingh to postpone their public meeting,” Tamang said today.
But M.G.Subba, the Darjeeling sub-division convener of the GNLF, refused to budge and said the public meeting would go ahead as planned. “The public meeting is our pre-announced programme to highlight the Sixth Schedule issue. The GJM should understand this. Why did they announce the strike all of a sudden?” he asked.
The GJM has also asked tourists in the hills to leave before September 27 if they have flight or train schedules for Wednesday. Later in the day, leaders of the hill TMC unit told reporters they condemned the bandh and that they would hit the streets on Wednesday to foil it. “We condemn GJM’s strike call and will protest on Wednesday. We don’t want conflict and so have started making the public aware of the disadvantages of strikes. This so because bandhs are not good for tourism, especially with the puja festivities approaching,” said N.B. Khawas, spokesperson for the hill TMC. He also said state tourism minister Gautam Deb, tribal minister James Kujur and north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh would come to the hills on Wednesday to observe developments.
Bengal Government Goes All Out to Thwart Strike Call by GJM - Threatens Cancellation of Licences, Permits, Mandates Govt Employees Presence on 27th, 28th and 29th
Vivek Chhetri Telegraph The West Bengal government on Monday issued a notification declaring that no leave would be granted to employees posted in the GTA area from September 27 to 29 in view of the bandh called by the Morcha on September 28.
According to senior Nabanna officials, the notice gives a hint that the chief minister is set to take the Morcha head on during the bandh.
Later this evening, principal secretary of the state transport department, Alapan Bandyopadhayay, issued another notification declaring that "wilful non-plying of public service vehicles" might lead to cancellation of permits and licences.
The notification also states that the government will take steps to ensure that traffic is normal on September 28. If damage is caused to any vehicle "by unruly and violent agitators", the state will compensate through insurance, it states.
In August 2013, the Morcha had called a prolonged bandh in the hills demanding Gorkhaland and the government had issued a notification that said salary of the employees would be deducted if they did not attend offices during the shutdown.
But this time, the picture is different as Mamata appears to be tough while dealing with the bandh call.
HC directive to government on Darjeeling bandh
The Calcutta High Court today directed the West Bengal government to ensure that normal life is not disrupted in view of a Darjeeling hills bandh called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) tomorrow.
A division bench presided by Chief Justice G C Gupta observed that the court can start a suo motu contempt proceeding against GJM as bandhs are illegal and unconstitutional and against existing judgements of Supreme Court and different high courts.
The division bench, also comprising Justice Arindam Sinha, directed the state government to ensure normal life in the hills by ensuring that individual constitutional rights are not infringed.
Moving a petition challenging the 12-hour bandh called by GJM supremo Bimal Gurung on Wednesday, Trinamool Congress MP and advocate Idris Ali submitted that existing Supreme Court and high court judgements have on many occasions declared bandhs as illegal.
Despite that a bandh has been called in Darjeeling Hills during the peak tourist season before Durga Pujas to disrupt normal life and to affect the livelihood of thousands of people involved directly or indirectly with the tourism industry, Ali submitted.
He prayed that if GJM goes ahead with the bandh call and tries to enforce it, then the hills party be directed to pay monetary compensation for any loss to the people or the state.
Gurung has called the bandh alleging that the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government had not done enough for the development of the hills and also sought detail of projects taken up or completed as stated by the chief minister recently in Kalimpong at a public meeting.
Darjeeling, Sept. 26:In an obvious sign of relations souring up between the Jan Andolan Party and the Trinamool Congress, the JAP today rebuffed the TMC’s attempts to make inroads in the hills, asserting no national-level party would be able to usurp power in the region.
The latest swipe comes in the wake of chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently clarifying in a public programme that it was her and her government’s decision to form a separate Kalimpong district.
“We (hills) cherish regional feelings and sentiments when it comes to politics, whatever parties we may be associated with. No national party has been able to rule in the hills as the history of the place shows,” asserted Amar Lama, senior JAP bureau member, today durig a press briefing in Darjeeling.
Going a step further, Lama challenged the TMC to form the government in Tripura first. “Why, Darjeeling hills, we challenge the TMC to first form government in Tripura,” the JAP leader said.
|Rift between Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and the Trinamool Congress Began|
Coming out in defence of the party’s president, Lama reiterated that it was the strong pitch made by JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri and the District Demand Committee (DDC) that made the state government decide to create Kalimpong district. “Our party president and the DDC pursued the issue of creating a Kalimpong district relentlessly. It was this untiring effort and pursuance that gave the state government the impetus to come to a decision. The chief minister cannot deny this fact,” said Lama.
The JAP has all along taken credit for the state government's decision to form a Kalimpong district, which apparently was not announced by the chief minister during her latest three-day visit to the hills,
much against popular expectations. Speaing at a programme organised by the Lepcha development board in Kalimpong, Banerjee clarified that nobody had pursued the matter with her to create Kalimpong district. Interestingly, Chhetri who is also the Kalimpong MLA, was among the invitees to the function and was seated on the dais when Banerjee uttered her statement.
The JAP president initially dabbled for a Kalimpong district as a member of the DDC after severing ties with the GJM before he went on to float the JAP to contest the assembly election riding on the Kalimpong district issue. Lama also took offence to the war of words between the state government and the GJM over allocation of funds to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. He said,
“Rather than indulging in making claims and allegations, the state government should ask the Comptroller Auditor General to audit the expenditure accounts of the GTA. It can be done on the basis of section 55, clause 9 of the GTA Act under the Funds and Audit section." Lama also suggested that if at all anomalies were found in the audit, the GTA Sabha should be dissolved then.
Mamata Banerjee has claimed that the state government had allocated Rs 4,000 crore to the GTA for development over a period of four years since the formation of the council in 2012. Refuting the claim, GJM president Bimal Gurung has announced a 12 hour strike in the hills on September 28, seeking a clarification from the state government.
JAP raps GTA & Mamata on funds
Darjeeling, Sept. 26: The Jana Andolan Party today accused both Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung of indulging in politics over the GTA funds and asked the state government to conduct an audit of the hill body.
Amar Lama, a bureau member of the JAP, today said: "The chief minister had come up with a Rs 1,000 crore figure during a public meeting in Kurseong in March and after a few months, she talks about Rs 4,000 crore in Kalimpong. Instead of speaking on an issue like this at a public gathering, the chief minister should act seriously. The state government should ask the CAG to conduct an audit and if they find financial irregularities, the state should supersede the GTA as is laid out in the Act."
Lama further said the chief minister was raising the funds issue only when her relation with the Morcha was on the rocks. "Why is the issue being raised only when the relation between the two parties has hit a low? Had the relation (between the Morcha and Trinamul) been steady, it seems, the chief minister would have never raised the issue," said Lama.
In the recent Assembly elections, the JAP was in an alliance with the Trinamul Congress.
Accusing the Morcha of failing to be transparent, Lama said: "The Morcha must be transparent on the issue. The GTA, which is controlled by the Morcha, should give a proper reply to funds queries and should not hide details on money matters. However, there was no need to call a general strike on an issue related to claims and counter-claims on funds."
Late in the evening, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said the Wednesday strike was also to strengthen the voice of Gorkhaland, which the state government was trying to scuttle in all possible ways. - Telegraph
Darjeeling, Aug. 24: Bhupendra Pradhan, a founder member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the GTA chairperson, today joined Trinamul, blaming the hill party for failing to deliver on its promise of development.
Pradhan, who is better known as Pradip, joined the state's ruling party in the public meeting at the Kurseong Motor Stand in the presence of Trinamul minister Aroop Biswas.
Pradhan said his decision to join the Trinamul was to ensure development in the hills, particularly Kurseong. He accused the Morcha of failing to carry out any development work in the past four years.
The GTA elections are expected to be held around July 2017. The Morcha today decided to expel Pradhan.
The hill leader arrived at the venue in the car of Biswas, who is Trinamul's observer for north Bengal.
"In the past four years, we have been able to do nothing for the hills. I have had a talk with Mamata Banerjee and she has promised to look into issues related to the development of Kurseong. I have also raised the issue of granting district status to Kurseong. I am confident that with the TMC, there will be development here," Pradhan said.
He, however, said that if development was not ushered in even by Trinamul, he could think of leaving his new party too.
Pradhan accused the Morcha of corruption, saying some party leaders "did not have the means to even buy a good brand of cigarettes" but now "when they go to Bagdogra airport they enquire about the cost of a helicopter run by the Sikkim government. Where has this confidence come from?"
At the sidelines of the meeting, Pradhan said Bimal Gurung would not resign from the GTA as he had recently threatened. "He will not resign, note it down, as there is money in GTA," Pradhan said.
Pradhan urged the people to ponder over why Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Anmole Prasad, Trilok Dewan and Amar Lama had left the hill's biggest party.
Pradhan said in the next three months, the Morcha will have "only 20 per cent support" in the hills.
Morcha to oust Pradhan
The central committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today decided to expel Bhupendra Pradhan, popularly known as Pradip Pradhan, who switched to Trinamul today, from the party.
Soon after the central committee session, the GTA Sabha members met at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and submitted a written request to the GTA Sabha vice-chairman, Lopsang Yolmo, to convene a special meeting where, sources said, they would seek the removal of Pradhan as the GTA chairman.
The meeting is likely to be held on August 26.
Morcha general secretary and the GTA Sabha member in-charge of education, Roshan Giri, said: "At the central committee meeting, we discussed the Gorkhaland issue. The party has also decided to expel Pradip Pradhan from the primary membership."
A source in the GTA said: "According to Section 37 of the GTA Act, a special meeting can be requisitioned by one-third of the Sabha members and once the vice-chairman convenes a meeting, the chairman can be removed by a resolution adopted by a simple majority of the total number of elected members of the GTA Sabha."
There are 45 elected members in the GTA Sabha.
The Morcha has also decided to hold a public meeting in Kurseong on Sunday.
According to sources, the move is an attempt to boost the morale of party cadres in the area and counter the Trinamul gathering where Pradhan switched allegiance.
Today, around 300 voluntary teachers, who were members of the Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO) Movement Committee, burnt the effigy of Giri here before resigning from the Morcha.
The hill party had disbanded the Movement Committee last month after some of the members had criticised Giri alleging that he had not been working towards regularising the jobs of the 500-odd voluntary teachers in more than 120 schools across the hills.
Amit Gurung, the co-ordinator of the erstwhile Movement Committee, said: "We burnt the effigy of Roshan Giri today. Around 300 members have resigned from the party. We will soon meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee and decide our future course of action."
The teachers have decided to remain apolitical at the moment, sources said.
Told about the development, Giri said: "If by burning my effigy, their jobs are regularised, they are most welcome to burn my effigy everyday."
At Darjeeling Motor Stand, the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha started a relay hunger strike "for Gorkhaland" today with seven student leaders participating in it.
Satyam Lama, the president of the Vidyarthi Morcha, said: "Our hunger strike is a message that our agitation is democratic in nature. We demand that the Centre open a dialogue on Gorkhaland and efforts be taken to constitute a committee to look into our demand."
On August 2, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri had issued a press statement after meeting union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi and placing a memorandum with the statehood and other demands. In his statement the GJM general secretary had said, “The union home minister has assured to hold a meeting after August 15 that will decide on the formation of a committee, to verify our demand for a separate state”.
The GNLF’s central committee legal advisor Neeraj Tamang Zimba, today furnished a RTI (right to information) reply from Ashutosh Jain, the CS-II and CPIO under the ministry of home affairs (SR section) to squash the GJM claim.
The GNLF legal advisor said that in his RTI that was filed on May 2, 2016, he had made four queries.
|RTI by Neeraj Zimba Tamang on Gorkhaland|
The GNLF legal advisor alleged that GJM was only resorting to gimmicks vis-à-vis going to Delhi and meeting central leaders from the BJP including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on different pretexts over the years. “GJM leaders only go to Delhi to take pictures with BJP central leaders. Nothing more than that ever happens,” said Zimba.
The BJP too came under fire from the GNLF leader, who the latter alleged was betraying the Hills people with false promises and specifically highlighted saffron party’s word-play on its 2014 election manifesto.
In its manifesto, the BJP has said that it would “sympathetically examine and appropriately consider” the long pending demands of the Gorkhas. The word Gorkhaland does not find mention anywhere. However, in the case of the Bodos and other tribals of Assam, the party says that “initiatives” will be taken for a permanent solution of their long pending issues.
Zimaba observed, “There is vast difference in the BJP’s outlook towards the people of Darjeeling Hills and those from other states which is reflected in their election manifesto. Words like sympathetically examine and appropriately consider which can mean several things are used for Darjeeling. Also our issue is shown as demands. Whereas, the BJP says initiative, in this case steps will be taken for a permanent solution of long pending issues of the Bodos”.
The GNLF perceived to be cozying up to the TMC is advocating for implementation of sixth schedule in the Hills and has chosen not to take a stand on the statehood issue. “We have neither compromised nor given up the Gorkhaland demand. It is just that our party does not have the mandate for a separate state and so we are pursuing the sixth schedule issue which we feel is the best solution,” said Zimba.
When asked to comment on the allegation, Giri said, “We are sincere with the statehood demand and are pursuing it over the years with the central government. We have nothing to say to those people whose sole purpose is to criticize us for no rhyme or reasons”.
Gorkhaland 18th July 2016: It is precisely five years since the tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the GJMM. Incidentally 18 July 2011 too was a Monday like it is five years later today.
As the hills prepared for celebrations to mark the signing of the accord parts of Siliguri were bracing up for a protest shut down called by ‘Bangla O Banbla Bhasha Bachao Committee’ (BOBBBC), an outfit claiming to be apolitical committed to safeguarding the language and culture of the Bengalis.
Opposition to the accord from organisations like BOBBBC could be simply ignored. What needed to be noted seriously was the manner in which West Bengal’s (then) newly elected CM Mamta Banerjee sought to disown the agreement in letter and spirit even before she left the venue where it had just been signed. The memorandum signed by her home secretary in her presence and in the presence of the country’s home minister P. Chidambaram was, “keeping on record the demand of the GJMM for a separate state of Gorkhaland……..”. But here was Mamta Banerjee stating, “Statehood cannot be granted to the region……….. Bengal is not going to be divided…..”.
|Tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, |
Government of West Bengal and the GJMM.
Reactions from most mainstream national parties sounded disappointing for us and at the same time encouraging for Ms Banerjee. Indian National Congress the party to which Home Minister P Chidambaram in whose ‘august presence’ the agreement was signed belonged made no bones about its dislike to the idea of ‘dismembering’ West Bengal.
Leftist leader Surya Kant Misra found the term ‘Gorkhaland’ in the nomenclature of the proposed GTA fraught with prospects of ‘disunity’. Mr Misra apparently forgot that the nomenclature was decided upon during the rounds of tripartite talks held when the Left Front was in power.
Most shocking reaction was to come from the BJP. The party’s West Bengal unit opposed the use of the word Gorkhaland in the name of the proposed body GTA as the word ‘could stoke separatist sentiments in the region’. Coming from the party to whom the people of Gorkhaland had already given one precious Loksabha seat in 2009 the reaction was nothing but ironical.
Has anything changed since 2011 as the Congress’s alliance with TMC is passé, the hill people had helped the Left in Siliguri Municipal Corporation elections and the BJP has once again been gifted the Darjeeling Loksabha seat by us in the 2014 elections? Absolutely nothing, if we look at their manifestos for the latest 2016 state assembly elections. The word Gorkhaland is completely missing across the board from left to congress to BJP. We don’t exist because we don’t matter to any of them.
When we look at the hill based political parties the picture is rather hazy as most of them are vague and ambivalent? The GNLF already carrying the historical baggage of having dropped the demand for Gorkhaland in 1988 and subsequently having bargained for Sixth schedule status ‘as full and final settlement’ still continues to be unsure of their stand. Mrs Bharti Tamang having inherited the glorious legacy of the Late Madan Tamang’s unwavering support for Gorkhaland is unfortunately weighed down by her personal grief that apparently stops her from making common cause with any platform having Bimal Gurung on it. About JAP less said the better. They are in favor of Gorkhaland with consensus of the central and the State government knowing well that no government in west Bengal will ever consent to what they call ‘Banglar bivag’. Could it be that the party has included Gorkhaland in their manifesto only out of political expediency and not commitment?
Thus at the national level TMC, the Left parties and Congress are against Gorkhaland. For BJP it is a matter of political expediency. Those of their leaders who owe their political survival to the hills profess support while the entire state unit of west Bengal is opposed and the national leadership remains totally noncommittal. At the local level there is near unanimity on the issue but a united front to pursue the common cause is not being forged because of ego hassles which must be overcome in larger interest of the region.
Where do we go from here and what do we do? A multitude of opinions is expressed almost on daily basis in the press and also in the social media. There are some who argue that GTA should be wound up as a prelude to an all out ‘do or die’ type struggle. Others call for a change of leadership to let the rationale of the demand be felt at a broader national level, especially in the corridors of power in New Delhi.
I will give you my take for whatever it is worth.
First, GTA should not be dumped by us. In fact that is what the TMC led west Bengal government would wish so as to facilitate its its propaganda that having been unable to run a small institution like the GTA how can we be trusted with the running of a full fledged state. We should play hard-ball to ensure that the west Bengal government complies with the legal, political, administrative and financial obligations of the GTA agreement in toto. My own guess is faced with such prospects it is the west Bengal government itself who will either transfer control on all the agreed upon subjects to us, or, will itself announce breaking up of the GTA. If we get control as per the agreement it will be a precursor to statehood and if it results in break up of the GTA the blame for not being able to run the institution won’t lay at our door.
Second, steps must be taken to strengthen the GTA so as to make it an instrument of clean governance and effective delivery of services to the public. For this the leadership of GTA will have to broaden its HR base by inducting experts and experienced generalist administrators. At present there is perceptible lack of strong bureaucratic support structure and an effective PR mechanism.
Third, all the political parties of the region must forge a common platform to carry forward the demand for statehood. We have shown our ability to forge such unity in July-August 2013 in the form of GJAC. Let that spirit of GJAC be revived. GJMM being the leading political force of the region must take proactive initiative in this direction.
Last but not least, message has to go to the BJP that they have to treat us as equal partners in the political venture that has to be as much for the welfare of the region as for the BJP’s own political benefit. At present the later seems to be the case. Our MP who apart from being a seasoned politician is now a powerful member of he central cabinet has to use his good offices to further the cause of Gorkhaland in the Parliament.
In the wide range of opinions that we keep coming across I haven’t come across a single voice against the idea of Gorkhaland or in favor of the region continuing as an adjunct of West Bengal. Notwithstanding west Bengal establishment’s crude attempts to divide and rule the entire region emerges as a solid monolith. Therein lies our strength that no one can ever defeat. It is upto us and the political leaders of the region to put this underlying unity of the masses to constructive use.
NN Ojha writes exclusively for DT and TheDC
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was given a grand reception yesterday afternoon at the Bagdogra airport and in Rohini near Kurseong by hill communities that included the Khambu Rai, Lepcha Development Council members as also cadres of the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
This was the first time that GNLF supporters were seen welcoming the chief minister with khadas and Nepali scarves and reflects the ongoing bonhomie between the Trinamool chief and Mann Ghisingh, who the chief minister has appointed as vice chairman of the North Bengal Board of Sports and Games.
Thousands of people from both the plains and the hills had gathered at the airport since morning to welcome the chief minister, who landed around three in the afternoon and proceeded directly to Darjeeling without uttering a word to the press people present.
In Rohini, she was accorded a grand welcome with flowers, khadas and traditional garlands. The chief minister even alighted from her car to accept the greetings. Banerjee will be in Darjeeling for five days and welcome President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday who will be flying directly to the Lebong helipad from Bagdogra. On Wednesday, July 13 the President and Banerjee will attend a function observing the birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanu Bhakta Acharya. The chief minister is also slated to attend the annual meeting of the Darjeeling Tea Association during her five-day stay.
Over 400 members of the Bhujel community met chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Bagdogra airport yesterday and submitted a memorandum demanding a development board.
|Mamata receives warm welcome from GNLF, and Development Boards|
"A couple of days ago, sources in the government had said they would form a board to cover three (more) hill communities. This encouraged the Bhujels to approach the chief minister," an observer said:
On Saturday, a government official had said the state intended to form the West Bengal Biswakarma Welfare Board for the development of communities like the Kami, Damai and Sarki.
[With additional inputs from Telegraph]