Showing posts with label strike news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strike news. Show all posts

Darjeeling tea Workers on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.

5:45 PM
As you sip your favourite Darjeeling tea planning how to enjoy this festive season, tea garden workers in Darjeeling are on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.

A 12 hour bandh has also been called in Darjeeling Hills tomorrow. Union leaders plan to hold hunger strikes 'in front of garden offices' from Thursday. Tamang, the Morcha leader, has announced 'an indefinite hunger strike' from October 6 if the bonus issue is not resolved by Friday.
Darjeeling tea Workers on a hunger strike for a 20% annual festive bonus.
Darjeeling tea Workers. 

The hills have not witnessed such a protest since the 104-day shutdown in September 2017

All seven trade unions of about 87 tea estates of Darjeeling in West Bengal have called for a 12-hour strike on Friday after the failure in talks between leaders of unions and the managements of gardens over the bonus issue. The unions have given a "bandh call" from 6 am to 6 pm on October 4, a trade union leader said. Trade Union Leaders and workers of Darjeeling Hill Tea Industry are observing hunger strike in demand of payment of 20% Bonus in Darjeeling town and tea gardens. Tomorrow will be 12 hours work off in Darjeeling hill.
Kalimpong to Join in the 12 Hour Bandh on October 4. Kalimpong has decided to join in the 12 hour bandh scheduled for October 4 in the Darjeeling Hills.

Bhuwan Khanal, Spokesperson, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha talking to media persons in Kalimpong on Thursday stated "Expressing solidarity with our garden workers Kalimpong district will also remain closed on October 4 for 12 hours. Business establishments will remain closed and vehicles will not ply. However emergency services have been kept out of the purview of the bandh."

Out of the 87 gardens in the Hills, 6 fall in the Kalimpong district. The bandh is in protest against the management failing to disburse bonus before the festive season. While the trade unions have demanded 20% bonus, the management is not willing to climb up from 15%. Multiple rounds of talks have failed to break the deadlock.


9:09 PM

Rekha Sharma, the chairperson of National Commission for Women, is in Darjeeling hills for three days to examine allegations of violation of women's rights and police atrocities during the statehood agitation last year.

National Commission for Women has scheduled to visit Kurseong, Mirik and meet common people, including some of the complainants. Commission has also scheduled to visit jails and conduct an inquiry into police atrocities and examine cases where women have been named as accused and are behind bars. Recently, a Darjeeling resident had accused a police officer of threatening to torture women members of his family, following which a complaint was sent to the commission.

Meanwhile, Nari Morcha (GJMM women wing) supporters have protested the visit of National Commission of Women in Darjeeling today as their visit to Darjeeling at present may disturb the current situation.

GORKHALAND DEMAND: 100 Days Bandh and a Gorkha's inner-turmoil

10:19 AM

Writes: Noel Giri.

Successfully or unsuccessfully we have completed 100 days of indefinite strike over the hills without exemption or relaxation. Is this our success or failure! the question remain unanswered and hovering with different opinions or views (it might differ on politically, socially or personally); lets not make argument on it because it is a personal choice and personal freedom of evaluation of it.

Here, I just want to highlight some of the important issues or matter of concerns after observing our course of Gorkhaland agitation in the hills. And I strongly believe we must have habit to do assessment of what we have achieved or not!

1. 2017's Gorkhaland agitation itself created a history with such a long and continuous strike over the hills. It proved solidarity and an unshakable unity among the Gorkha community. Despite of political barriers or principles, religious and cultural barriers, we did it with strong unity among each other.

2. Participation of every level of community of Gorkha and other communities who are resides in the hills is another milestone of our agitation. Every level and every section has shown mark respect, sincerity and sacrifices (leaders are exempted) with our long-pending demand of Gorkhaland.

The above mentioned positive sides of our agitation till dates, gives more courage and strength to go forth. But unfortunately, while having assessment we must not have to be selective with good gains only, we have to accept or evaluate our failures too!

It doesn't mean we all are anti-Gorkhaland. It doesn't mean I do not support Gorkhaland. I do support whole heartedly. But healthy criticism is demand of healthy politics.

I have highlighted some of our weaknesses or setbacks during course of our agitation which I have observed closely as follows:

1. Political conspiracy and lack of legal-knowledge: As we have seen political conspiracy among hill parties, which made it easy for state government to play 'divide and rule' policy. Some of our leaders only thought about their own political benefits and played blame game among each other. We have also seen lack of legal advice to some of our political leaders on legality and how to make himself or herself clean throughout the agitation! It is necessary for a leader to make himself/herself clean-handed during agitation to lead the people's movement. Because, without leader, movement doesn't have longer life span. 

Unfortunately, our leaders only trapped with illegible allegations and conspiratorial acts of state government by using government machinery and force unconstitutionally.

2. Lack of strategy: First half of our agitation (15th June to 1st of July) was very crucial. When we have got nationwide attention via national media houses, that time our hills' political parties/leaders must needed to make a solid strategy(s) to make it more effective. But due to violation and internet blackout by the state government, remained unable to highlight our movement nationwide. And our agitation slowly crippled down by the state government within our jurisdiction. Violence and damaging public and government properties made a bad impression on our agitation (we must agree with it). Due to lack of strategy during first phase only made our agitation flexible and strategically failure.

3. Lack of will-power among political leaders for demand: God knows why this agitation been started and for what purpose (s) it would be for our leaders!

Agitation remain doubtful throughout its course of movement due to lack of political will-power. Common inhabitants of the hills put all their efforts with sincerity for Gorkhaland demand but isolation of political leaders from same movement made our movements flexible and weaker day by day. Failure of GMCC, aimless agenda and strategies, repeated interference by majority party in the GMCCs' functions, lack of collective decision, irresponsible and aggressive comments and reactions by the local political leaders, lack of frontline leadership during agitation are the major setbacks of our agitation.

Now, after completing 100 days of Bandh, still we are empty handed and feeling we the people of hills are betrayed by the leaders and some of the opportunists. Many of us laid their lives, many got injured, so many stories to tell about our people's sacrifices but, still we are speechless and empty-handed.

What can we do now?

It is not over. Still we can reach to our destination. But,

1. We need to up bring educated people/leadership to lead our movement strategically with a real goal. Most importantly we need a sincere leader with our ultimate demand for the hills, nor an opportunist.

2. I must say, Gorkhaland is a long-run battle. Gorkhaland demand is a marathon nor a 500mt race. So we need long-term strategy, political diplomacy (because we have to fight this battle constitutionally in between central and state government) and visionary builder of Gorkhaland.

During last 100 days of Bandh, we have missed long course of education system. Students missed education and learning skills. Here I am not emphasizing only academic curriculum, I emphasised learning because education doesn't mean only finishing annual academic curriculum, it is beyond of that. If we do not build our future foundation of upcoming generation strong (educated) then I do not think we can even imagine a fruitful Gorkhaland for common and deprived people of the hills irrespective of castes, regions, religions and parties. Education is key to open the doors of opportunities and it can change anything. Therefore, neglecting education is great loss of ours only.

Strike only is not an effective movement or solution for Gorkhaland demand. Now we need to be constructive otherwise, after 100 days of bandh, why still our demand is pending!

Youngsters are frustrated and depressed. They already missed many.

There is a strong possibility of human trafficking and anti-social activities (some of it we have witnessed already). I myself heard following lines by saying "  I will go outside of Darjeeling, if I will get 6k salary also I will do that." "wish I could get job somewhere out of Darjeeling...."  "....Nothing is here, my future is dark."

These are not wishes, if we ponder on it sincerely, we will find a big compulsion, which makes them away not only from movement but away from the hills itself. I think this is one of the big failure of our leaders that they are unable to connect youngsters with ongoing movement of Gorkhaland. Youngsters are tired with filthy and opportunist politics played shamelessly over the hills.

Now, let us unite as before, lets impart a new vision and awareness among the common people of the hills, about our demand and destination. Need to spread value of awareness of demand among upcoming new generation too, because they are the ones who lead us in future. And lastly, let us make our Gorkhaland on the safe hands of educated, skilled, honest, empowered and able leaders of the hills.

Then our martyrs of Gorkhaland, who laid their precious lives for it, will smile and take rest peacefully!

"We shall overcome one day!"

Via The DC

GJMM BANDH CALL:-Section 144 imposed

3:31 PM

-GJMM has asked tourists to leave Darjeeling and warned those who stay on during its attempted lockdown of administrative offices

-Section 144 has been imposed in some areas, particularly around District Magistrate's office, treasury building and court

Section 144 has been imposed in some areas, particularly around District Magistrate's office, treasury building and court. Second 144 was in place in some parts of the Hills ever since trouble started but the enforcement has actually begun since Monday.

The areas, where important government offices are located have been put under heavy security cover.

Toy train services - a major attraction for the tourists - have been suspended but schools and colleges are open. Traffic was reported to be thin in Darjeeling city as many people chose to stay home fearing violence.

GJM supporters reportedly set ablaze a PWD office near Government college. The flames were doused by fire services personnel, but the building suffered extensive damage. The culprits soon fled the spot. No arrests have been made yet.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters have torched a Block Development Office in Bajanbari , ADG Darjeeling, Siddhinath Gupta, said the situation has been brought under control, and three people have been arrested in this connection.

[Pics: PWD office near Government College. The flames were doused by fire services personnel, but the building suffered extensive damage. The culprits soon fled the spot. No arrests have been made yet.] [Via: various sources]


6:32 AM

Situation continues to remain tensed as both sides ramp up political rhetoric.

The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) today called an indefinite shutdown of government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices in Darjeeling hills from Monday.

The GJM, however, exempted schools, colleges, transport, hotels from the purview of the shutdown and said banks will remain open only twice a week.

"There will be indefinite shutdown in GTA offices, banks and government offices from Monday. The banks will open twice a week for public transactions. We have exempted schools, colleges, transport, hotels from the purview of the strike," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters here after the organisation's central committee meeting. He also announced that all the signboards written in Bengali will be removed from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik, Siliguri, Terai and Dooars region and signboards only in English and Nepali would be allowed.

"We will not attend GTA offices. Thrice a week we will organise torch rallies in the hills," he said. GTA and government offices will, however, remain open for four days from June 27. Earlier in the day, GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said that he was not for strikes. Gurung also called for "non-cooperation" movement with the state government and accused it of looting resources from the hills and depriving it of basic amenities. He said that agitation in Darjeeling hills will not stop until and unless a separate Gorkhaland is formed.

"If TMC wants to play with fire they will regret it," he said. "We will appeal to the people not to cooperate with the state government. It is taking away so much resources from the hills and what are the people of the hills getting? We are getting nothing. "This has to stop. We will fight for our freedom and will not allow the divisive politics in the hills," Gurung said. The GJM leadership today wrote to the Centre urging it to look into the Gorkhaland demand.

Mamata warns GJM of action, says will not go for compromise

In a stern warning to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for resorting to violence in Darjeeling, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said the state government would not go for any compromise and deal with those who violated law.

"They (GJM) have become politically bankrupt and resorted to violence. I hope good sense will prevail on them. We cannot live in peace by resorting to terror and violence," she told reporters at 'Uttarkanya', the mini-secretariat, here. "We have compromised a lot and it seems that now we have our back against the wall. You can compromise for the good and for peace but it cannot be done for bombs and arms," she said.

Indicating that the state government would act tough, the chief minister said the superintendent of police for Darjeeling has been changed and three senior IPS officers were sent to deal with the situation in the hill town. Asked whether GJM chief Bimal Gurung would be arrested for the violence in the town on Thursday last, she said law will take its own course. "If anybody has violated the law, he will be dealt accordingly".

The hill station had turned into a virtual battlefield after GJM supporters clashed with the police on Thursday when they were stopped from marching to the Raj Bhawan where the state cabinet meeting was underway. Reiterating her opposition to the bandh, Banerjee said, "Bandh is illegal. Even the High Court has declared it illegal." She said the election to Morcha-controlled Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) would be held and the new board will assume office by August 2.

"We will go to the people. They will also go. We will wait for the people's verdict", she said. Yesterday, Banerjee had stated that Morcha-led GTA had "failed" to carry out any development work in the hills and when their term was scheduled to be over next month, they have started "torturing the public". She also called for strengthening tourism industry in the hill town.

The situation in Darjeeling is "very stable and peaceful", the chief minister said, adding she was hopeful that everybody would contribute in maintaining peace. About the situation in the tea industry, Mamata accused CPI-M, Congress and BJP of "playing dirty politics" in the hills and said they would be held "responsible" if tea gardens are closed. "The Modi government had promised to acquire seven tea gardens but they have not done anything. We are helping the tea garden workers in every possible way," she said. The chief minister said the state government was open to negotiation and urged tea gardens workers not to pay heed to the CPI-M, Congress or the BJP and go for strike.

Via: PTI

GJM Meeting Update: Indefinite Strike from Monday

10:58 PM

In a meeting held today which ended later in the evening, GJM has decided to observe indefinite strike across Darjeeling hills, Terai, and Dooars from Monday onwards. However, the strike will be limited only to the government establishments, including GTA. Schools and colleges have been kept completely outside of bandh purview, while banks have been allowed to operate on Mondays. Vehicles will also operate normally.

The highlights of the decisions taken in the meeting are:

*GJM to observe indefinite strike from Monday. All the govt offices (Central, State & GTA) to remain closed for indefinite period. School, Colleges to remain open and vehicles to run normally.

*All the posters and hoardings in Bengali to be removed from Darjeeling hills, Terain and Dooars.

*All party meeting called on June 13.

*Banks to open only on Mondays and Thursdays.

*27-30th June - All Govt. Offices & Banks to remain open.

*Every Monday evening GJM will hold torch rallies across Darjeeling hills, Terai & Dooars.

*Thursdays and Fridays - GJM to hold rallies demanding Gorkhaland.

Education strike in Darjeeling to protest linguistic imperialism

10:27 AM


Writes: Vivek Chhetri

Bimal Gurung yesterday called a two-day education strike in the hills this week and a series of marches during the chief minister's impending visit to protest the state government's move to make Bengali a compulsory subject at schools.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president announced the agitation at a session convened by the party with Nepali literary figures, college professors, representatives of educational institutions in the hills and social organisations like Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan, teachers and other apolitical people here.

"The government is trying to force a language on us and its not acceptable. We will protest the move vehemently and I will personally take to the streets. We will request the closure of all educational institutions in the hills on June 1 and 2. I am hearing that they (Mamata Banerjee) will be coming to Darjeeling on June 4 and during this period, we will show our resentment by holding marches with black flags across the hills from June 4 to 8 (during chief minister's entire stay in the hills)," Gurung told the gathering at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

The protest against the Mamata government's decision to make the learning of Bengali compulsory at schools across the state seems to be moving out of the realms of political domain. Representatives of top schools in the hills, like St Paul's School and St Joseph's School (North Point), were preset at the meeting called by the Morcha.

Before Gurung had announced the strike, the gathering called upon him to start a strong movement on the matter.

In the hills, most students have English as their first language and Nepali as the second language. Making Bengali compulsory would mean that there would be no choice left and it would be a tall task for educational institutions in the hills to find teachers for Bengali language.

Gurung said he would participate in the marches from June 4 onwards in Darjeeling. In the hill town, the procession will be taken out from Ghoom to Darjeeling town, a distance of 8km.

He has called for similar marches across the hills and the Dooars and the Terai as well. "If the need arises, we might even call a general strike in the days to come," said Gurung.

Language has been a major issue in the hills, which had agitated for almost three decades for the recognition of Nepali in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution. Nepali was listed in the Constitution in 1992.

The Bengal government had recognised Nepali as an official language for the hills in 1961.

Jiwan Namdung, a Sahitya Academy award winner, said at the meeting that "making Bengali compulsory is wrong and unacceptable".

"Since the government is looking at making Bengali mandatory in the hills, can they reciprocate by making Nepali compulsory in the plains, too? We salute their decision to safeguard their language but they have to address our concerns, too," he said.

Prem Pradhan, also a Sahitya Academy award holder, spoke on similar lines and said the decision could be a sinister ploy to "suppress the Gorkhaland demand".

Bishal Thapa, the secretary of the Hill College Professors' Association, said: "While Bengali language is being made mandatory, provisions have not yet been made to make Nepali literature an option in the state civil services examinations. In State Eligibility Test, Nepali is not a language in which one can sit for the examination. There is a political motive behind the move to make Bengali compulsory."

Political observers believe if the state government does go ahead with the language decision, it might have to face widespread backlash given the sentiments attached to the language in the hills.

Gurung said: "Such giants of the society are with me today, not to support the Morcha but to stand by the community. I request all other parties to participate in the protest setting aside all political differences."

[Via: Telegraph]

BOOMERANG: It wasn’t support for GJM… It was anger against TMC that made the strike a success

8:49 AM
Writes: Upendra for TheDC

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:]. 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:].

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.


How different medias covered GJM called bandh in Darjeeling

9:53 PM
GJM bandh turned out a success in Darjeeling hills - indiatoday
The stage is set for a mighty showdown in the Hills with both Trinamool Congress and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gearing up for a show of strength and political space in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the leading party in the Darjeeling hills and advocate of separate state of Gorkhaland for the people, is in a difficult position with members quitting the party either for Trinamool Congress or for JAP (Jana Andolan Party), which is its offshoot. The policy of poaching, which Trinamool Congress adopted to increase its tally has affected the GJM. The party's principal agenda of a separate state is also not finding many takers.

Yet the bandh called by GJM today was a huge success as Hill people preferred to go on a holiday instead of risking their lives in the confrontation between the Trinamool Congress and GJM supporters.

The ruling Trinamool Congress has left no stones unturned in making the bandh a flop show. Three ministers are camping in the Hills to ensure normalcy. But the situation is far from being normal. Schools, colleges, government offices were kept open and public transport was plying, but very few people were willing to step out of their houses.
GJM called bandh in Darjeeling 28th Sep 2016
GJM called bandh in Darjeeling 28th Sep 2016
The division bench of Calcutta High Court has passed an order and asked the government to ensure an atmosphere of normalcy for people. However, the government was unable to build up confidence among people to feel free.

"People of Hills want peace and development. They don't want disturbance. The success of the bandh does not indicate that GJM still holds influence among the Hill people. If people  have stayed away from work, it is because they are peace loving," said Harka Bahadur Chhetri of JAP. For Mamata, the outcome of the bandh cannot be music to the ears, but she is still hoping that appearance can be deceptive.

Bandh in Darjeeling Hills sees dull response - PTI

Darjeeling, Sep 28 (PTI) The 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district today failed to evoke much response, even as over 200 GJM supporters were detained for trying to enforce the shutdown.

Government buses arrived at Darjeeling with tourists escorted by security personnel. Private vehicles were however off the roads.

Around 98 per cent of attendance was recorded in government offices and private schools were open. Shops were mostly closed. Bank ATMs were found to be open also.

At around 11 AM, two toy trains plied with domestic and foreign tourists to Ghoom station from Darjeeling.

This was the first time in the DHR history that a toy train operated during a bandh.

Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava told reporters that more than 200 hundred GJM supporters were detained. Three Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) members were arrested during the bandh.

Three state ministers -- Gautam Deb, Rabindra Nath Ghose and James Kujur monitored the situation in the three hill sub-Divisions.

Opposing the bandh, Chief Minister Mamata Banjeree had yesterday stated that there should be no more shutdown and blockades.

"Bengal's economy was affected by bandhs. There was enough bandh politics," she said.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called the shutdown alleging the state government has failed to give details of Rs 4,000 crore, which the chief minister has claimed to have given to the GTA.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung, however, claimed that the shutdown was "successful".

"People in the Hills have observed a peaceful bandh," he said, adding TMC has unleashed an autocratic rule.

State tourism minister Gautam Deb, who camped at Kalimpong, said GJM supporters damaged three cars of TMC activists and the police is taking action.

On the closure of shops, he said there was a fear among shop owners and that the state government has taken all steps to maintain normalcy.

Darjeeling reels under GJM bandh - thehindu
Political temperatures went soaring in the Darjeeling hills on Wednesday over the 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The GJM has been demanding a separate Gorkha homeland to be carved out of three hill subdivisions of West Bengal, which is opposed by all major parties of the State.

While the bandh was called by the GJM after recent comments of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been allocated Rs. 4,000 crore by the State government, the GJM however has raked up Gorkhaland issue. A statement issued by GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, “Those opposing Gorkhaland will get more energy if the bandh is unsuccessful”

More than 250 GJM supporters were detained till Wednesday afternoon, District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava told journalists.

“We are checking if tourists are stranded. Vehicles are available in the hills… Some shops are open,” he said.

There were reports of vehicles being attacked in Kalimpong and Mr. Srivastava said strong action will be taken.

The three-hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong saw huge deployment of police during the shutdown. Hundreds of supporters of the GJM also took to the streets shouting slogans.

Three Ministers of the Trinamool Congress government were present in each of the subdivisions trying to ensure that shops and commercial establishment remain open.

Supporters of the Trinamool Congress also brought out rallies raising the pitch against the GJM supporters.

Darjeeling tense over bandh call - tribuneindia
Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service
Kolkata, September 27 Undeterred by a High Court directive, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is all set to go ahead with its call for 12-hour bandh tomorrow in the Darjeeling Hill areas.
“We have not seen the court order. Bandh will be observed in the hills tomorrow”, Rooshan Giri, GJM general secretary, said.

Responding to a petition filed by Trinamool Congress leader Idris Ali, the Calcutta High Court today directed the state government to ensure that normal life is not disrupted in view of the bandh called by GJM tomorrow.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has vowed to foil the bandh call and the court directive has come to her as a shot in the arm to crack down on supporters of the bandh.

“The court has said it can start a suo motu contempt proceeding against GJM as bandhs are illegal and unconstitutional,” Amit Javalgi, Superintendent of Police of Darjeeling district, said, indicating the police resolve to take strong action against supporters of the bandh.

“Adequate forces are being deployed so that normal life is not affected in the hills tomorrow,” Javalgi added.
However, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who formed Jana Andolon Party (JAP) after breaking away from the GJM, said if strong arm methods were used against GJM supporters tomorrow, Mamata Banerjee would be walking in the trap of the GJM because this was what GJM leader Bimal Gurung wanted.

“Bimal Gurung wants police to come down heavily on his supporters tomorrow. Violence will benefit him politically”, Chhetri, former GJM MLA from Kalimpong constituency, said.

The state government has also issued a circular making it mandatory for employees in the hills to come to the office tomorrow. Three ministers – James Kujur (tribal welfare), Rabindranath Ghosh (North Bengal Development) and Gautam Deb (Tourism) – are camping, respectively, at Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

“The ministers are interacting with public. They are here to give the message that the state government is serious about its opposition to the bandh call by the GJM”, Anurag Srivastava, District Magistrate of Darjeeling, said.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri said the current dispute between the state government and GJM should have been sorted out across the table since the issue involved was about the quantum of funds released by the state government to the GTA for development.
“Why put common people into discomfort by calling a bandh”, Chhetri said. Chhetri, who was backed by Mamata in the Assembly elections held earlier this year, said GJM called the bandh to regain the influence it once enjoyed in the hills.
GJM managed to retain all three Assembly seats in the hills in the 2016 General Elections but the victory margins of its candidates were considerably less than the 2011 elections.

Bandh Called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Halts Public Life in Darjeeling - news18
Sougata Mukhopadhyay | CNN-News18
Kolkata: A 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) hit public life in Darjeeling on Wednesday as commercial establishments remained shut, defying the state government calls to boycott the strike.

The bandh, called by the GJM in support of a separate state of Gorkhaland, has been termed “illegal” by the Calcutta high court. Several shopkeepers and transport operators, however, supported the bandh in the upper reaches of West Bengal.

There were no reports of violence but minor tension was reported from Kurseong and Kalimpong towns where sympathisers of the ruling Trinamool Congress who were opposing the strike came face to face with GJM supporters who laid siege to important junctions of the hills to make the bandh a success.

The strike is being seen as the beginning of a new phase of protests in the hills as the GJM renews its calls for a separate Gorkhaland.

Seven companies of central forces and large contingents of the state police have been deployed to thwart attempts at disturbing peace. Trinamool Congress leaders Gautam, Rabindranath Ghosh and James Kujur have set up camp in the area to monitor the situation.

GJM called Darjeeling bandh, State govt. and administration set to foil the strike

11:33 AM
Morcha to TMC: avoid conflict - Ministers to camp in hills on bandh day

Telegraph Darjeeling, Sept. 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today "requested" the Trinamul Congress and the GNLF to stay away from confrontation during the 12-hour bandh on Wednesday 28th September 2016, but the ruling party announced that three ministers would be in the hills on that day "to supervise the situation".

The Morcha called the dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the Darjeeling hills on Wednesday to protest the allegedly false claim of Mamata Banerjee that Rs 4,000 crore had been given to the GTA. The chief minister had already announced that she wouldn't allow bandh in the hills.

Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha, held a press conference here today and appealed to Trinamul and the GNLF not to confront the strike.

"The strike is a protest against the domination of the Bengal government. Mamata Banerjee and Aroop Biswas came to the hills, instigated the people and left, leaving the hill residents here. They will not be here during the strike and we request local leaders and cadres of Trinamul and GNLF not to confront the bandh as we are not against our own people," said Tamang.

Tamang also asked the GNLF to cancel its public meeting on the strike day. "We appeal to them to postpone the meeting to any other day so that there is no confrontation that day."
GJM called Darjeeling bandh, State govt. and administration set to foil the strike
Darjeeling Bandh - A File Photo
The GNLF's student wing is scheduled to hold a meeting in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

The Morcha leader said the administration was holding meetings with businessmen and transport operators and taking their phone numbers.

"Holding rallies, demonstrations and burning effigies are part of a democratic movement. But if the administration tries to force open shops, the situation could flare up not just in the hills but across north Bengal and we request the administration to handle the situation calmly and in an unbiased manner," said Tamang, who also requested vehicles from Sikkim not to operate within the GTA area on Wednesday.

Within hours, N.B. Khawash, the spokesman for Trinamul (hills), said three ministers would be stationed in the hills on the strike day.

"Three Trinamul ministers will be coming to the hills. They will probably reach tomorrow. They will be in the hills during the strike day to supervise the situation," he said.

While tourism minister Gautam Deb will be in Kalimpong, north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh will camp in Kurseong. Tribal minister James Kujur will be in Darjeeling.

Ghosh said: "Three ministers from the state cabinet will be camping in the hills basically to instill confidence in people's mind and help them in all possible manners."

Deb said the strike was "uncalled for" and would not be accepted by the hill people. "The strike has been thrust on the common people at the start of tourism season," said Deb.

Khawash said Trinamul would appeal to the people through the public address system not to take part in the strike and make them aware of the situation. "We are positive that the people will respond to our appeal."

Even though the Morcha decided to call a strike at the start of the tourism season, the party-controlled GTA will hold World Tourism Day celebrations in Darjeeling and Kalimpong tomorrow. The GTA has, however, cancelled its programme in Mirik.

Pradip Lama, the secretary of the Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents (DATA), said: "I will not attend the GTA programmes tomorrow. This is because they will be celebrating the World Tourism Day tomorrow and observing a strike the next day. The strike will hamper tourism. My conscience does not allow me to attend the celebrations."

The 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.

State government and district administration ready to foil the 12-hour Darjeeling bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

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.

Gorkha students Kolkata against Gurung's Darjeeling bandh call

8:05 AM
KOLKATA: Gurung of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha made a last ditched effort to make his presence felt and give fresh air to the now dormant Gorkhaland movement by calling for a 12-hour bandh in the Darjeeling Hills on September 28. The objective of the bandh is to demand details of Rs 4,000 crore spent in hills over four years as claimed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

However, Gorkha students in Kolkata feel that blockades won't help strengthen Gorkhaland movement and on the contrary would only increase distance towards Gurung.

"We had faced a lot of problems during the last spate of bandhs in the hills. But everyone participated without protesting with hope that the bandhs would force Centre and Bengal government to consider our demand for separate statehood. However, Mamata Banerjee played the ethnic cards and divided the Gorkhaland movement. Now, again if bandhs are called, our people will only suffer not achieve anything," said Vandana Pradhan, a 2nd year student of commerce.
Gurung calls for bandh in Darjeeling hills
Gurung calls for bandh in Darjeeling hills
Even though the students feel that Mamata's claims of development through various ethnic boards is just 'eyewash' and in sync with policy of 'divide and rule' over the hills residents, they feel bandhs will push off tourists and cause more hardships.

"Durga Puja is just a fortnight away. Bengali tourists visit the hills in large numbers during this period. Bandhs will not only affect trade and tourism in Darjeeling Hills but also in Sikkim," said Rajesh Chhetri, an arts student and a native of Kurseong.

Some students feel Mamata's carefully planned social engineering coupled with development claims has snuffed the Gorkhaland momentum halt. "The recent annoucement of Kalimpong district is a long pending demand and is a shot in the arm on Jan Andolan Party (JAP), which has been demanding it. As we know JAP leader Harka Bahadur Chetri is an associate of Mamata now. These careful announcements are further isolating the GJM. Hence, this bandh call to show their presence," said Tsering, a final year commerce student and a native of Kalimpong.

Mamata Banerjee on Friday, during a programme in the hills warned against the bandh call given by Bimal Gurung. "We won't let any bandhs happen in the hills. Bandhs won't aid in development of the hills," she had said while leaving space for talks with Gurung. "If you have any issues, we can talk," she said.

Via newindianexpress

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) threatens bandh in the Hills, Mamata warns no violence

8:19 AM
23rd Sep 2016 Darjeeling Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has threatened to go for a bandh in the Hills on 23 September if Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fails to give detail break up of this Rs 4000 crore which, according to the chief minister, has been given to the GTA.

"You carry forward several development schemes which you have already taken up. Our government will give money for such schemes. Don't worry for money. You just go ahead with your goals for developing the Hills," the chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, making it clear that her government would not allow any disruption in the ongoing development in Darjeeling.
Battle between Mamata and  Bimal Gurung
"Yesterday, she had announced that her government has given Rs 4000 crore to the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). We want a detail break up of this Rs 4000 crore which, according to the chief minister, has been given to the GTA. If the chief minister Mamata Banerjee fails to give any break-up by September 27, we will go for bandhs in Darjeeling from September 28," Gurung said on Friday.

According to a PTI report, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said that CM stated that Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was given Rs 4000 crore by the state government and that the CM should give details of the money spent.

"Let her give the details of the amount by 27 September. Failing which we will call a bandh on 28 September," he said.

"The state government is forcing us to call a strike," Gurung said in Darjeeling around 1pm today. "An atmosphere of agitation is building up in the hills. Tourists should check the situation before making their travel plans," he added.

Around two hours later in Kalimpong, Mamata said she would not allow any shutdown.

"There will be no bandh. We will not allow negative and disruptive politics," Mamata said, before specifying why tourism was so important for the livelihood of the people in the hills.

Following the call for bandh, Mamata threatened that her government will not allow any bandh in the Darjeeling Hills and will resist any attempts to disrupt the development activities in the region.

Banerjee said that instead of working for development, they are indulging in politics.

"We want peace in hills. We will not allow violence. Enough is enough. We must work for development. We have developed Lamahatta, Mirik, Tiger Hill, Lava Lolegaon. But they want to destroy it all by violence," she said.

"We will not stop the process of development in the hills. We want people to get employment. We are here to address the issues of the hills. If the hills smile, we will smile," she said.

Gurung - already reeling from a spate of defections from the Morcha to Trinamul - said today: "It is not good for a chief minister to speak in excitement. She has given us Rs 238 crore for the development of the hills in the past four years and now, she claims that she has given Rs 4,000 crore. Even if she includes the salaries of staff and administrative expenses, the figure is a lie," said Gurung.

Morcha leaders today rolled out a set of numbers to drill holes into Mamata's claims. Government sources also produced their fact sheet to prove the chief minister's point (see chart).

Amid the debate on whose numbers were right, Gurung issued the strike threat, first call of the kind from the Morcha after more than three years. The last phase of the shutdown went on for a month till September 10, 2013, over the Gorkhaland demand.

The chief minister has announced to set up a development board for the Gurungs in Darjeeling. Mamata  has already formed development boards for ten tribal groups in Darjeeling including Lepchas,Bhutias, Tamangs. Now she has announced to set up Gurung development board in Darjeeling after the Pujas.

He took care to explain the two other reasons behind the strike call - increasing interference in the affairs of the hills by the state government and an alleged attempt to divide the community.

Although Morcha leaders tried to stress that the main reason behind the strike call was to expose the state government, an official said the threat was an indicator that Gurung was getting increasingly restless with the turn of events.

"He is realising that he is losing control over the hills and the strike call is a desperate attempt by him to remain relevant. The state government would not let the strike happen and a confrontation is imminent," said the officer.

To start with, the Trinamul Congress is gnawing at the Morcha's support base by forming development boards.

During the last Assembly elections, the Morcha's winning margin in the three hill constituencies fell by 68.5 per cent, compared to the 2011 results

"The civic and panchayat elections will take place in a few months. Of the four civic bodies in the hills, we are comfortably ahead of the Morcha in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik. Didi has endeared herself to the rural people in the hills through repeated visits. Gurung is doing all this to retain his turf. He is scared," said a Trinamul insider.

According to him, Gurung is aware that the GTA would become redundant if Trinamul performs well in the civic and panchayat polls as major government projects could be carried out through these elected bodies.

The GTA has already become a fringe player in the hills as the state government is using the development boards to shower benefits on various communities. Today, Mamata handed over a cheque for Rs 10 crore to the Tamang body to build houses for the poor before inaugurating a youth hostel.

"All the development boards are with us. Harka (Bahadur Chhetri, a former Morcha leader) is with us... Bharati Pradhan is with us. Ghisingh's son is with us. We have the support of the hills," said Mamata.

Tomorrow, Trinamul will deal another blow to the Morcha as PWD and youth affairs minister Aroop Biswas will preside over a programme, where hundreds of Morcha supporters would join the ruling party.

Various sources

JAKS Intensifies agitation, will close GTA offices from June 20

10:33 AM
DARJEELING 17 Jun 2016 Intensifying its ongoing agitation, the Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) today announced it would enforce the closure of the engineering cells of the various offices of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration from Monday till a solution to its demand for increasing the salary of Group A and B employees is arrived at.

Engineers, doctors, managers and curators, who fall under Groups A and B of the GTA, have begun an indefinite cease-work from June 13. Their demand is enhancement of salary as per an order issued in February 2016 by the finance department of the state government.

“We started the agitation on June 13 and will intensify it in phases. We have decided to close all the engineering cells of the GTA from Monday to press our demand. We know our decision could create problems for the general public and feel sorry, but we request everyone to support the agitation,” said Deepak Sharma, the JAKS spokesperson.
Janmukti Asthayi Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) at Lal Kothi

At the same time, Sharma said the present deadlock had eased a bit as the GTA had initiated dialogues with them. The GTA principal secretary and secretary, the deputy chief executive and Sabhasads held a meeting in the afternoon with JAKS representatives at Lal Kothi to discuss the issue. It was decided that the principal secretary would hold talks with the state government and a GTA delegation would leave for Kolkata soon.

“The deadlock has been broken and talks have started. However, we will continue our agitation of assembling outside Lal Kothi and close the engineering cells. We will also head to Kolkata as part of the GTA delegation for talks with the state government,” Sharma said.

The JAKS agitation reached its fifth day today with 147 engineers, 120 school teachers, eight doctors, two managers and one curator ceasing work. The other demand the JAKS is spearheading is the regularisation of 5,321 workers of the GTA who were originally on contractual basis with the now-defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.


GTA casual Group A and B workers to halt work indefinitely for increment - JAKS

10:07 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 9: The Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) today said casual Group A and B employees of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) will halt work indefinitely from Monday to protest the government's decision to increase the salaries of only Group C and D contract staff.

The GTA has total 19,000 workers and the 284 Group A and B staff, including doctors and engineers, who will stop work form a small but important section of the workforce.

"The salary of a driver (Group C) is now more than that of a doctor and an engineer (in Group A#). We have decided that Group A and B employees will not attend work from Monday," Kisan Gurung, general secretary of the sangathan, a frontal organisation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said.

The GTA has 5,321 contract workers in total.

"There are eight doctors and 119 engineers in Group A. In Group B, there are 147 higher secondary teachers, seven managers of tourist lodges, two lecturers in primary teacher training institute and one curator," said Gurung. "We will stop co-operating with the state unless the issue is settled."
Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan (JAKS) file photo
On February 25, H.K. Dwivedi, the principal secretary, state finance department, had issued a notification stating that the hike for Group C and D staff would come to force from March 1, 2016. No changes were made for Group A and B.

A Group D worker with less than 10 years experience who got Rs 7,000 a month will get Rs 10,000. Those with more than 20 years experience will get 20,000 instead of Rs 8,500. For Group C workers with less than five years experience, the salary has been made from Rs 8,500 to Rs 11,500 a month. Those with more than 20 years of experience will get Rs 22,500 instead of Rs 11,000. A Group B worker gets a minimum monthly salary of Rs 13,000. Those in Group A get Rs 22,000.


Janmukti Bidyut Silpa Sahayak Calls for Indefinite Strike - Refuse to Collect Spot Billing From Today

11:29 AM
The JBSS has called for indefinite strike of all spot billing agents from today, following the non-cooperation of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited.

The members of JBSS have been working in their posts since 2000 when the WBSEDC was not yet formed and all of them were working for West Bengal State Electricity Board. All of the workers were recruited on temporary basis with the promise of giving priority once new posts opened up. However, none of the temporary workers have been made permanent even after 16 years of service.
In 2014 the WBSEDC outsourced their duties to private companies, which has caused an acute sense of job insecurities among the workers, who are the primary face of the company dealing with customers. These workers have to take up multiple roles including Spot Meter Reading, managing blue books and handling all the back-office chores.

“Time and again the WBSEDC have promised us that they will find a permanent solution to our members, however till date they have renegade on all their promises and assurances… we do not have job security and we are working for pittance… we cannot allow this to continue” stated a JBSS executive
Especially in the hill region, these workers have to travel long distances in harsh geographical and physical conditions and adverse weather, yet they are not provided with any basic facilities, and now they are put under Private Companies without any consultation with the workers.

The workers have three prong demand, i) Job security under WBSEDC and not private companies, ii) Provisions of EPF, TA, DA and other government sanctioned allowances and regular salaries and iii) Appointment to WBSED against posts that are lying vacant for past many years.

JBSS executive have stated that, “we are the primary source of revenue collection for the company and are doing work way beyond our mandated requirements, yet WBSEDC has treated our members with utter disdain, now time has come for us to demand our rights and we won’t budge till the Chief Managing Director gives us in writing indicating that all the promises made to us will be fulfilled within a specific time-frame.”

Via TheDC

Morcha backed Hills, Dooars 12-hour strike successfull

10:25 AM

Dec. 10: The 12-hour strike called by the Darjeeling, Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union and the Progressive Tea Workers' Union today demanding the reopening of Panighata Tea Estate in the Terai and other closed Dooars gardens was total across the hills and near total in the Dooars.

Today, two workers of Panighata garden in Mirik block, around 35km from Siliguri, died. The garden has been shut since October 10.

In Darjeeling and the Dooars, private transport remained off the roads and shops and markets, most educational institutions, banks and private establishments were closed. Government offices were open and attendance was normal.

All tea gardens in the hills were shut but those in the Dooars were open as they were kept out of the strike's purview.

Bimal Gurung, the chief of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that backs the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, issued a press release saying the shutdown was successful. "Thank you people for the overwhelming support for general strike called by the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union in Darjeeling and Dooars against the distressed condition of Panighata tea garden and other 20 tea gardens in the Dooars," it read. "From the hills of Darjeeling to Jaigaon (on the India-Bhutan border in Alipurduar), everything remained shut..."

Gurung sought the state's intervention while reiterating the demand for a separate state. "The state government must look into the condition of these tea workers or grant us our separate state so that we can solve the long pending demands of these tea workers," he stated in the release.

The Morcha union had called the strike in the hills. Later, the PTWU joined the agitation and extended its purview to the plains as well.

In the Dooars, bandh supporters picketed Banarhat and Lakkhipara and blocked NH31C. Few government buses ran today. In the morning, some strike supporters blocked the main road to Bhutan in Jaigaon. The protest was withdrawn after police arrival.

"The state is not taking any initiative to see that the estates of the Duncans Goenka Group function properly and the closed tea estates reopen," John Barla, the PTWU president, said. "It (the strike) turned out to be a success."

Unlike the tea strike called by the Joint Forum, a common platform of 24 tea trade unions, on December 1 which was partial, today's strike proved that the Morcha and Barla still have considerable clout in the Dooars. "It is a fresh concern for Trinamul and other political parties," an observer said.

Sourav Chakraborty, the Trinamul president of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts, said: "The state is putting in the best efforts to provide relief to tea workers and their families in the Duncans Group estates and the closed gardens. The state is sincerely trying to reopen the shut gardens. The strike affected the regular life and economy of the Dooars."

In Darjeeling, Prashant Pradhan, the assistant secretary of the Morcha union, said: "Tomorrow, we will review the strike. If situation remains unchanged in the Dooars and Panighata, we might go for an indefinite hunger strike and a 72-hour general strike."

Yesterday, the state labour department had called meetings with the unions and the Panighata management but no one from the management turned up.

The workers from Panighata who died today are Purna Prasad Chhetri, 50, and Leela Rai, 52. "Purna was weak and died in his home without treatment. Leela had a heart ailment and died at a hospital," Harihar Acharya, the Terai committee president of the Morcha union, said.

Harka Bahadur Protests Against Tea Gardens Strike on communal basis

10:03 AM

Harka Bahadur Protests Against Strike for Tea Gardens - Tries to Communalize Yesterday's Strike

In a not so shocking move, former GJM leader and current favorite of the Bengal government, Kalimpong MLA Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri has decried the 12 hour strike called by the Tea Garden Workers.

Speaking against the strike, Dr. Harka Bahadur stated, "the strike will only harm the hills and won't affect Kolkata at all... they have to please Kolkata and shouldn't trouble the hill people."

Speaking to the Press, Dr. Chettri stated that "Kalimpong District Formation Committee is against the strike, as it won't effect Bengal in any way.."

What we honestly found really disgusting was the fact that Dr. Harka tried to communalize the strike, he stated "The Lepcha and Bhutia community have started to celebrate Loosung-Namsung festival, and those calling for strike has caused harassment to these communities." 

Perhaps Dr. Harka forgets that there are people from Lepcha and Bhutia communities too who are starving to death in the tea gardens.

Politics is one thing Dr. Harka, playing with communal fire quiet another.

Via TheDC

Vidhyarthi Morcha Extends Support to Agitating Teachers as Protest Enters Day 10

7:34 AM

The Gorkha Janmukti Vidhyarthi Morcha, the students’ wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, today threatened to close schools across the hills in support of the demand for regularisation being made by 515 voluntary teachers. Voluntary teachers of 52 high schools and 71 higher secondary schools in the hills, under the aegis of Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JISTO), have presently started a pen-down demanding regularisation. This has brought to a halt ongoing academic sessions in the schools raising apprehensions that the agitation could disrupt the annual examinations due from November-end.

The students’ wing fears that the protest by the voluntary teachers could hamper the studies of the students including their preparations for the annual exams. “Because of the agitation most schools have not completed their syllabus while the annual exams are just round the corner. This will affect the students and there is also a possibility of them losing a year. We cannot allow this to happen,” said Sandeep Chhetri, the GJVM spokesperson. To pressurise the local administration and the state government, the GJVM also said it could close down schools if the issue was not settled immediately. “We could even call a strike of the schools if the matter is not resolved at the earliest. But for the time being we will wait and watch what actions the state government and the local administration take,” Chhetri maintained.

The voluntary teachers in some cases have been teaching since the past 20 years in return for sums as paltry as Rs1,500 as remuneration. In many schools such teachers outnumber their permanent peers, leading to fear among the headmasters that holding examinations would be difficult. Asoke Newar, the headmaster of Bagrakote Higher Secondary School in Gorubathan, said his school had more voluntary teachers than permanent ones. “We have a student strength of 1,600. There are 19 permanent teachers but voluntary teachers number 27. In Classes XI and XII, we just have a single permanent teacher and three voluntary teachers for Political Science, Economics and Geography. Under such circumstances, if the majority of the teachers do not report to work, it will be difficult to hold the annual examinations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the People’s Forum, a non-political organisation based in Kalimpong, has also extended support to the agitating teachers and has demanded the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to intervene to diffuse the situation. “The teachers’ demand is justified as they have been providing service for over two decades now. They get paid very less for their services and the future of many is in jeopardy. The teachers’ grievances must be addressed, soon,” said Pravin Gurung, secretary of the forum. Voluntary teachers are appointed by a managing committee of the schools as the School Service Commission (SSC) that was formed separately for the hills has remained defunct since 2003.The so-called voluntary teachers' pay depends on the availability of funds with a school's managing committee.

Roshan Giri, the executive GTA Sabha member in charge of education, said the issue would be taken up with the state government in a bipartite meeting on November 9 in Kolkata. The agitating teachers admitted that their protest would affect the students, but expressed helplessness due to the seriousness of the issue and the matter being of genuine concern.

[Via: EOIC, Pics: Yogen Basnet]

GJM backed Transport union Strike Threat in Hills to support JISTO

7:39 AM

Writes: Vivek Chhetri

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-backed transport union in the middle of the tourist season today threatened a vehicle strike in the hills after Diwali in support of voluntary teachers demanding job regularisation.

The All Transport Joint Action Committee that has 56 taxi syndicates as members has said it would wait till November 9 - the day a meeting is scheduled between the state government and the GTA on the job regularisation demand of the 515 hill teachers - and then take a call on the strike.

The chakka jam call has the tacit support of Morcha president Bimal Gurung who has told the transport union to do what it thinks is right.

The voluntary teachers are agitating under the banner of Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO).

Narbu Lama, the president of the transport union, said: "The JISTO has been requesting us to support the demand. I went and met party (Morcha) president Bimal Gurung in Kalimpong yesterday and he told us to do what we think was right. If the bipartite meeting (between the state and GTA) on November 9 fails to break the deadlock, then we will call a chakka jam. We have to keep in mind the Diwali festival and also the tourist season and we will take a decision on the date and the time keeping everything in mind."

He added: "We will call our representatives for a meeting soon and discuss the issue before finalising the date and time. We will also have to keep in mind the outcome of the bipartite meeting. The chakka jam, however, will not be immediate. If we have to call it, it might be after Diwali."

Each taxi syndicate has around 30 vehicles under it.

The stakeholders of the tourism sector are of the opinion that even a threat of such a call during the tourist season could affect the visitor footfall in the hills.

"Even a threat of a chakka jam would have an impact as tourism is a very sensitive industry," said Pradip Lama, secretary, Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents.

The ongoing tourist season started from Dusshera and it will continue till the Christmas-New Year period.

"Although our main tourist season is the March-June period, we do receive tourists during this time as well. The major flow in this season is during the one week period around Dusshera, the week during Diwali and the week around the Christmas-New Year period," said Pradip.

He added that this time, the tourist flow has dropped by almost 40 per cent compared to the same period last year.

"People from western India usually come on a package that covers Odisha, Sikkim, Darjeeling and Nepal. But with the ongoing (political) turmoil in Nepal, those seeking the package have cancelled reservations. Most enquiries for August and September did not transform into bookings," said Pradip.

"The recent political instability (in the hills) also prompted many people to cancel their reservations," he said, referring to the strain in the relationship between Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung.

Darjeeling gets around 3.5 lakh domestic tourists annually and 30 per cent of them visit the hills during this time.

"The tourist inflow this year is less by 40 per cent compared to last year," said Pradip.

He said that most tourists travel to the hills during the April-June period "as people want a quick getaway from the sweltering summers. Some people look forward to travelling after the financial year and some also travel after the board and annual school examinations are over."

Samir Singhal, treasurer, Janmukti Hotel Owners' Association said: "There is no denying that the tourist inflow has come down this year. The reasons could be varied. However, we are still optimistic as we are expecting a good turnout after the Diwalis. We have good bookings during that period. We feel that threats for a chakka jam would not send the right signal for the industry."

Source: Telegraph, Pic: Yogen Basnet via TheDC

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