GJM Rally in Kalimpong to Justify action against GNLF – All Government Developmental Offices to be shut from 10th May onwards – All future ‘Poster Sticking Activities’ on Kalimpong’s “Democracy Wicker Wall” to be disallowed till after the next ‘Political Level, Tripartite Talks’ – crushing all dissent for now only ?!!
By Our Special News Correspondent
(sorry: more photos to be posted cannot be completed due to BSNL problems, as usual ?!!)
Kalimpong, May 09, 2010: A ‘larger than usual’ crowd of cheering spectators gathered today at Kalimpong’s Damber Chowk to listen to the justification given by the GJM central committee, district committee and youth committee members on the unexpected turn of events that took place in Kalimpong yesterday morning.
On May 8th , a day earlier, GNLF posters, disguised as the GNLF ‘student front’ posters had appeared in Kalimpong and one hired poster sticking boy had been hacked with Khukuris by GJM supporters while others had been chased away during the altercation. (see earlier report on “Tension Briefly Flares in Kalimpong”)
Earlier that morning, a godown and a two storied wooden house had also been razed by a sizeable blaze just below the Kalimpong Haat Bazar area, but no co-relation could be found as yet between the two unfortunate incidents.
Speaking on the occasion, GJM Dooars Central Committee member, Samuel Gurung said that they had received ‘Central Intelligence Reports’ that stated that the “GJM Interim Setup” demand to include the areas of “Dooars and Siliguri” within the purview of the “Interim Setup” could not be conceded to as the Central Government had received reports that there was ‘no unity’ in their demand as various sections within the society which had begun ‘poster campaigns’ against just such a demand.
Dubbing this as an “Outright Political Conspiracy” by the Bengal State Government to dilute their just demand for the inclusion of Dooars and Siliguri within the purview of the ‘Interim Setup’ areas”, Samuel Gurung stated, ”we have called this meeting today to let the State and Central governments understand and see for themselves that this misleading propaganda is not true,” he said.
“This meeting is an ‘open statement’ to the Bengal government that the majority of the people of Kalimpong and the Dooars are with us (the GJM) for the ‘Interim Setup’ as a legitimate path forward towards our final goal of ‘independent statehood’ as advised recently by our unanimously elected MP Jaswant Singh,” Samuel Gurung said and warned that “anyone daring to further oppose the ‘will of the people’ by such unethical campaigns as ‘poster campaigns’ or the spreading of ‘misinformation’ through the various media outlets, would meet a fate far worse than what happened yesterday” (referring to the unexpected attacks on poster stickers and some local media personnel – see report below).
Samuel Gurung, accompanied by a myriad number of other GJM committee members, vehemently added that the GJM strongly opposed the said call by the GNLF for the current return to the ‘6th Schedule’ idea because Subhash Ghising had let down the people of Darjeeling and Dooars by being ‘politically naïve’ and first signing the ‘Peace Accord’ with the Bengal Government in 1988 and then finally the unconstitutional DGHC accord in 2006 as the ‘Full and Final Settlement’ to solve the Gorkhaland agitation problem, forever, without consulting the concerned people of the affected areas.
“Tyo 6th Schedule lai” Samuel Gurung expressed, “hamiley yetro aandolan garera, daanda kattai sakeka chaun … aba pheri kina hamro aandolan lai bipholney kaam bhai rakheko cha ?” (meaning: we have categorically rejected the 6th schedule, by sending it over the hill with our agitation, so now why are attempts being made to again try and derail our movement ?)
The three hour long meeting had a string of other speakers, wherein one recently appointed Kalimpong ward committee member, Shubha Pradhan, mentioned that following directives from the GJM President Bimal Gurung and the Central Committee, all developmental activities and all development offices of the State Government would be shut from tomorrow (10th May 2010) in Darjeeling District and the Dooars for an undisclosed period of time as false allegations had been levelled against the GJM that they were only after ‘funds from contracts’.
Sbubha Pradhan also mentioned that, as per the Central Committee directives, all further protest activities, specially the poster sticking activities on the “Democracy Wicker Wall” next to Damber Chowk or any other areas of the town would be disallowed till after the conclusion of the next “Political Level Tripartite Talks” scheduled for the end of May, 2010.
Some intellectuals, at a nearby restaurant listening in to the speeches, and other dissenting members of the community shrugged in dismay at this announcement, but chose to keep silent at the announcement of this dictat.
One such spectator privately said, “It is these very stupid ‘dissenting intellectuals’ who have brought this undemocratic situation upon themselves,” while another disagreed, “this is a turn towards the hated ‘Maoist Ideology’. Power here will now come ‘either from the barrel of a gun or the cutting-edge of the Khukuri’,” he said.
Deepen Thapa of the GJM Youth Wing, central core committee member, stated that their supporters had repeatedly requested the affected media persons in Kalimpong to balance their reporting and not indulge in ‘any fiction’ in the media with any political bias.
“Hamiley baram bar, dui haath jodera, wuhna harulai binti chadayeko thiyaun ki na na bhako jhuto kura haru prakashan ma na leunu, tara na suney pachi, hamra GJM samarthak harule sahana sakenan, ra yo kanda ghatna pugyo,” he said and added, “yesko hami ‘bharsana’ garchaun, tara yesto ghatana haru ajjhai chadkera jaala,” he warned.
(Meaning: “The GJM youth members had repeatedly requested the said journalist personnel ‘with folded hands’ to refrain from publishing unwanted ‘fictitious’ articles but they (the journalists) had not listened to their supporters pleas, so their supporters could not bear it any longer and had naturally retaliated, which they deplore. But, that if such false reporting continues then the situation will get much worse,” he warned.)
On the 3rd of April 2010, (reported on the 4th) The GJYM (youth wing) in Kalimpong had publicly burnt copies of the said journal for alleged fictitious reports and had warned of more serious consequences. This very situation seems to now be unfolding.
The Gorkha Gandhi-Baadh Twist
Earlier, Samuel Gurung had mentioned the metaphor that “Gandhi-badi does not mean that we repeatedly keep turning the other cheek”.
”We turn one cheek and get slapped,” he explained, “then we turn the other cheek and get slapped again. So now that we have had both our cheeks slapped, the next logical cheek to get slapped would be the cheek of the person who slaps us as we have had both our cheeks slapped,” he concluded.
To this way of thinking, there was a tumultuous applause, indicating a sense of deep seated frustration and resentment at the ongoing political developments. And Bengal as its perpetrator.
Kazim Tshering Bhutia of the Naari Morcha wing of the GJM central committee, unlike her gentle self, voiceferously and with emotion, mentioned that it was the GLP bhai’s (little brothers) that had worked all night to put out the fire that razed the godown and wooden structure building at the Kalimpong Haat Bazaar and questioned why the Bengal government had no infrastructural system in place to avert such calamities.
She added that “all the people of the Hills know that the dream of ‘Independent Statehood’ now lies within the grasp of the people and we deplore anyone who tries to dislodge this ‘constitutional’ claim.
Much admired poet, Moti Prasad Shama, also with the GJM central committee mentioned that it was the ‘sell-off’ of Subhash Ghising’s GNLF of the areas of ‘Siliguri’ that had brought about the current sad situation.
“When we were younger and in school” he said, “we always studied that Darjeeling had four districts – Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri. But now that history is trying to be changed,” he stated.
”Let not our children too accuse us of the same mistakes that Subhash Ghising made,” he said and concluded, “this current struggle is to re-claim that which is our own and not allow the harmony and love that exists in our family to disrupt the way forward to the ultimate realisation of our goal of ‘Independent Statehood’.”
Samuel Gurung had also earlier stated, “The only way Subhash Ghising will ever be allowed to return to Darjeeling any conduct any future Political Activities in any areas of the claimed areas of the ‘Gorkhaland Movement’ would be ‘if he openly, publicly and categorically apologised for the mistakes he had made in signing the ‘Full and Final Settlement’ of the DGHC Accord as the ‘only solution’ to all the problems of the Darjeeling and Dooars areas”.
”This may never happen,” voiced one opposition member and added, “does the GJM have ‘all’ the solutions then ?” Meanwhile another spoke in favour, “They (the GJM) are the ‘only’ ones currently working toward solving problems, not always creating them,” he opined and added, “either we go along, or this whole situation may turn the wrong way even further and get totally untenable. Maybe that is exactly what Bengal wants”.
Himalayan Darpan bureau Chief Assaulted at Kalimpong
FROM THE VOICE OF SIKKIM
08 May, Drajeeling: A group of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters attacked Ajay Agarwal , the Kalimpong bureau Chief of Himalaya Darpan a regional Nepali Daily published from Siliguri.
Mr Ajay Agarwal was hit on his head by (a) hammer by (a) group (of people) in his store. He suffered a swollen head and later registered (an) FIR at Kalimpong Police Station.
It is alleged that (this) Journalist was attacked because of some articles against the GJM published by Himalaya Darpan.
The Media association of Darjeeling and Kalimpong will be meeting tomorrow to discuss (the) attack on (this) fellow journalist.
MEANWHILE FROM KALIMNEWS
Rift in GJM frontal wings? – TRUE LIES – AGAIN & AGAIN ?!!
KalimNews:GJYM , youth wing of GJMM held a meeting in Kalimpong warning the anti GJMM forces and parties not to disturb the talks.
It alleged that yesterdays postering attempt is a bid to foil the present ongoing process coming to a conclusive solution for the hill people.
In the meeting it tried to reconcile with its own leaders who were manhandled by GJYM cadres yesterday.
Bijay Sundas one of the Central Committee member was also attacked during the attack on GNLF supporters in the yesterday’s incident. (Confirmed by Bijay Sundas himself this morning as a work of misinterpretation and pure fiction.)
In the public meeting of GJMM held at Damber Chowk Sundas reconciled while JSTO supporters of Hari Dahal refused to reconcile. Hari Dahal is still under treatment in a hospital for head injury.
JSTO members in its closed door meeting condemned the incident and proposed to call a two days bundh in all the Schools. Later with the intervention of the Sub Divisional Committee of GJMM the differences between the GJYM and JSTO were amicably settled.
Several incidents of attack and damaging of house and property is being received said KL Tamta, IG of Police who is in Kalimpong.
EARLIER IN ASSAM
GJM Ad-hoc Committee formed in Guwahati – expanding consensus ?!!
FROM THE HIMALAYAN BEACON
Guwahati, May 08, 2010: A meeting was held at Hotel Ambarish, Guwahati for the formation of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) North East Coordination Committee yesterday.
Representative from all North Eastern States numbering around 500 participated in the meet. The GJM delegation was led by General Secretary Roshan Giri.
The relevance of the movement for the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland in the context of the North-Eastern States was highlighted in the meet. The representative form the North-Eastern States, while discussing their local and regional issues, also discussed the organisational issues of GJM in their region.
The Morcha General Secretary Roshan Giri and spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chettri elaborately explained the progress which the party has made in Delhi through several rounds of tripartite meetings.
The upcoming next round of political level tripartite meeting and the strategy of the party was also hinted in the meet. It was later felt by all the delegates that a co-ordination committee for the north-East needs to be constituted to smoothen out any organisational lapses.
Keeping this in mind an Ad-hoc committee was formed and it was agreed to make a regular committee within a month.
The meeting was presided by the convener of the Assam State L.N. Subba who happens to be the Ex- Deputy Chairman of the Karbianglong District Autonomous Council. The GJM delegates included Pemba Tshering Ola, Diwakar Gurung, Roma Prasad Sharma, Palden Lama, Pasang Lama and Nirmal Rai. The leaders of AGSU and Assam Gorkha Sammelan were also present.
MEANWHILE FROM THE TELEGRAPH
TOURISM: Dumped in east, courted in south – Govinda poser in hills hit by bandh – Deteriotating situation, Bengal really desperate ?!!
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, May 9: Holidaying in Darjeeling, actor Govinda today wondered why Bollywood no longer flocked to the hills as it used to.
The hills know the answer but are grappling with a more pressing question: how to stem the stampede of tourists to Sikkim.
The two-day flash strike called by the Gorkha Janmukthi Morcha this weekend has prompted many tourists to hastily cancel their bookings and try their luck with the nearest other destination in the neighbouring state.
Tour operators in Darjeeling fear the losses will not be confined to the bandh days — May 15 and 16 — and the ripple effect could bite for at least 10 more days.
“By that time, the season will have ended. There was a flurry of enquires early this morning and within a couple of hours, most of Darjeeling’s business shifted to Gangtok,” said a travel agent based here.
Foreign tourists do not visit India in May largely because of the oppressive summer, but domestic visitors make a beeline to Darjeeling till early June every year.
The announcement of the bandh by Bimal Gurung, apparently to keep up the pressure on the government in the run-up to the next round of political talks related to the demand for Gorkhaland, has tripped the tourism trade at a time business was picking up.
Darjeeling can accommodate around 8,000 tourists a day. “This time of the year, 2,000 to 2,500 visitors arrive here daily and each of them spends around Rs 1,200 per day. Now you know the losses,” said an agent.
“The season was extremely good this year. Darjeeling was fully packed, while Gangtok still had some rooms (left to be booked). Now we are virtually scrambling for rooms in the capital (Gangtok). Many tourists have decided to spend two days in Sikkim, which had been earlier lined up for Darjeeling,” added another tour operator.
Anasua Mukherjee from Calcutta had planned a getaway to the hills. “We were supposed to be in Darjeeling from May 11 to 16, now we have to cut short the visit and return to Siliguri on May 14. Why take a risk? It’s too late to get bookings anywhere else, like Sikkim or in the Dooars,” she said.
The immediacy of the tourism industry’s woes has dwarfed other concerns here but the question raised by Govinda also points to the gradual displacement of Darjeeling from Bollywood’s mind space.
“I don’t know why they are not coming to Darjeeling but if I am given a chance to visit here, I will definitely come,” said Govinda, who was here along with wife Sunita who hails from Kathmandu. “I like the weather here. It is good for health and health is wealth.”
Govinda, who had a lacklustre political career as a Congress MP, is no longer the darling of the box office but his question came as a reminder that no big-ticket Bollywood movie had been shot in Darjeeling over the past seven years. The last such film shot here was Main Hoon Na in 2003.
Last year, an English film starring Ed Harris, Way Back, used a tea garden near Darjeeling as a location but the hills do not feature by name in the film, going by the faceless “someplace in India”.
For a picturesque terrain known for movies such as Aradhana, it is a hard knock.
But such is the despondency here in the wake of unpredictable shutdowns, a tour operator said today, referring to Govinda’s comments: “We don’t even have the courage to dream so much. Our aim now is to keep whatever little we have left.”
Adopting caution, the operator added: “We are ready to accept the losses, if that brings stability and peace in the days to come.”
The Morcha, which has called the bandh, said it was “concerned” about the travel agents’ plight. “We are concerned, but we do not have many options at the moment. We are hopeful that we won’t have to call any further strike,” said Amar Lama, a central committee member.
OPINION: A STRANGE FREEDOM – Bandhs aim to hurt India’s own economy, not someone else’s – but do all in India think for all India or just think of parochial interests ?!!
By Dipankar Dasgupta
The enemies of Caesar shall say this;Then in a friend, it is cold modesty.”
— Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1
It should have been amply clear that the 13 parties that threatened to destroy the finance bill and, in the process, topple the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, were embarking on a venture that was preordained to fail. The memory of the grimy proceedings surrounding a similar attempt in the not too distant past cannot possibly have faded yet.
Why then did the leftists decide to play a lead role in the new drama? One suspects that it was an attempt to woo back the poor on the eve of elections. The suspicion deepened, moreover, as one heard out a Left dignitary’s statement that, along with food price inflation, the persisting inequality in land distribution was an important motivation underlying the 12-hour Bharat bandh call. The word ‘Bharat’, of course, was a euphemism for the April 27 droplet in the vast, shore-less Sargasso Sea of Bengal bandhs.
Ever since the occurrence of the economic disaster at Singur and the subsequent fiasco surrounding the Vedic Village, few words have sensitized politicians in this state as the word ‘land’ itself. The deep-rooted poverty associated with rural land in particular has affected endlessly many people. And when it comes to democracy, number counts.
After more than 60 years of Independence and 30 years of Left rule, the paradox persists that the support base for governments in this country remains entrenched in poverty. More than 60 per cent of India still lives in the rural sector, a majority of this in abject poverty. Following the Singur-Nandigram events, it was the rural poor, supported by a handful of urban intelligentsia, that had put the Left Front on the backfoot. And the Left now appears to be playing the poverty card once again to win back lost ground.
Few would disagree that the proximate goal of the present struggle has a human face. Access to food constitutes one of the most basic of human rights. No government can possibly disown its responsibility to ensure this right for all citizens. The question that is relevant in this context, though, is whether bandhs can help the nation reach the food to all destinations.
A simple calculation is in order here. According to the latest Reserve Bank of India data, West Bengal’s net state domestic product was Rs 2,74,897 crore in 2007-08 (calculated at 1999-2000 prices). This figure would inflate substantially once the data for 2009-10 become available at current prices. However, even on the basis of the available figures, the average per day production (and hence income) in this state should hover around Rs 753 crore. To bring the economy to a complete halt for a single day then amounts to an uncomfortably large figure of income loss.
India’s labour force has been variously estimated to lie somewhere in the region of 40-50 crore, that is, the labour force constitutes roughly 39 per cent of India’s population. Applying this per cent figure to the estimated population of West Bengal (namely, 8.66 crore), its labour force should be to the order of 3.38 crore. Around 90 per cent of the workers, that is, 3.02 crore, belong to the informal and unorganized sectors. They are the worst victims of inflation, since, according to some, many of them depend on a daily income in the range of Rs 20-30.
Quite apart from the income loss figure quoted earlier, a bandh deprives more than three crore people of the right to earn their hopelessly meagre source of subsistence. In other words, a bandh worsens the already deplorable state of those very people who are the victims of food inflation. Even so, as a Left sponsor of the bandh argued on a popular television news channel on the eve of the event, a bandh’s negative impact on the economy is justified for the same reason for which the terrorist strategies employed during India’s freedom struggle were defensible. Indeed, he even mentioned in support of his thesis two of the most hallowed names in the list of India’s freedom fighters, Khudiram, who gave up his life at a tender age, and Mahatma Gandhi, who led the civil disobedience movement during the Salt March in Dandi.
Should a bandh-provoked deceleration of the Indian economy be likened to India’s freedom struggle, aimed as it was towards destroying the economic might of British imperialism? The question breaks up into several parts.
First, since Khudiram and Gandhi were specifically mentioned in this connection, one cannot help wondering if any of the leaders who organized the bandh (not excluding the one who drew the comparison) measure up, by any stretch of imagination, to these immortal personalities. If they do, then these persons ought to be identified without delay and their portraits published in national dailies in the same manner in which the railway ministry has been carrying out its brief. Second, Khudiram gave up his life for the cause of his country. In the present instance, although people are dying of hunger, one has yet to come across a leader who has sacrificed his life to protest against the deaths. Third, Gandhi is well-remembered for his fasts to oppose British rule. The latest bandh would have looked far more respectable if those who led it gave up even half-a-day’s meal to draw the Central government’s attention towards the plight of the poor. Fourth, shouldn’t the pathetic millions who were prevented from earning their daily incomes of Rs 30 have been compensated for their losses?
These questions are trivial at worst and derisive at best. A far more important issue relates to viewing the UPA government at the Centre as no different from a foreign imperialist ruler. There can be little doubt probably that corruption rules the roost amongst a large number of politicians in power in Delhi. However, is it possible to justify economic destruction, particularly the earnings of the most vulnerable sections of the population, in order to bring to book real or imagined criminals? Mahatma Gandhi surely worked towards destroying the British economy in India. A bandh organized in independent India, let us not forget, is aimed at damaging India’s own economy.
One should, of course, not attach too much importance to incompetent arguments. Let us leave this issue, therefore, and consider other bandhs or disruptive activities. Two such cases present themselves immediately. First, the Singur tragedy is still raw in our minds. The Tatas were forced to leave this state by a group of people who claimed to have engaged in a political agitation in the interest of the farmers. Second, right now the country is tottering on account of the Maoists’ unleashed fear. The Maoists, too, claim to be engaged in an “armed struggle” in the interest of the long neglected adivasi development problem. In both instances, there are well-defined issues at stake and the bandh-like activities are the political weapons employed to serve the cause. The vital question in this context is, how does one establish the chastity of one bandh as opposed to the other?
Every cloud, though, has a silver lining. The media inform us that the chief minister of the state, accompanied by some other ministers and senior bureaucrats, attended office on April 27. It was this same chief minister who had assured us that he would not tolerate bandhs and rebuild the lost work culture of the state. We cannot help but admire the commitment of the person along with that of a group of his supporters in the government. His presence in the office probably establishes that the bandh had its critics in the government itself. Unfortunately, it points at the same time towards the helplessness of honest people in this society too.
Attack and arson bid in Gurung den – Bank and post offices to remain open: Morcha – Like the ‘Gurung den’ bit, from the Kolkata “Telegraph Den” ?!!
FROM THE TELGRAPH BUREAU – ‘PAROCHIAL’ PARTIALLY TRUE REPORTING TO BE ‘TOTALLY’ TRUSTED, IMPLICATIONS, SYNTAX AND ALL ?!!
SYNTAX REMIXED BY HIMAL NEWS FOR PERSPECTIVE AND CLARITY
May 9: A house whose occupants claimed they had no political affiliation was vandalised last night with an attempt to torch the wooden structure after locking up the family inside the kitchen which is not part of the main house.
Palden Lama of Darjeeling’s Ramitay Dhara said a gang of 15 men barged into his house at 8.30pm and terrorised his family. The area is part of the constituency which Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung once represented as the DGHC councillor. Gurung’s house is 500 metres from the Lama residence.
Last night’s attack is being seen (by whom ?!!) as a ripple effect of the clash between the student wings of the GNLF and the Morcha yesterday when posters demanding Sixth Schedule status were pasted by the Gorkha National Students’ Front in Damber Chowk in Kalimpong.
“The gang of 15 went about systematically vandalising the entire house. They even poured petrol and tried to torch the house. The flames had just started licking, but we managed to douse them. We were terrified,” said Lama.
The latch on the kitchen door had been loose and Lama, his wife and seven-year-old daughter were able to come out on their own.
Neighbours said the gang was not from the locality.
A relative of Lama who did not want to be named said: “Lama is not involved with any party.” The family alleged that the gang decamped with Rs 40,000 and six tolas of gold. Lama has filed an FIR at Darjeeling Sadar police station against “unknown miscreants”. (how then does this incident become politically tinted ?!!)
In Kalimpong, where the Morcha took out a rally today, its leaders accused the state government and the GNLF of working hand in glove to impose Sixth Schedule on the hills, even though the people have already rejected it.
The party today announced that it would allow work under the NREGS, Indira Awas Yojna and the Integrated Housing Scheme Development Programme besides the census. Banks, post offices, and municipalities will also be allowed to function.
The Morcha while announcing the two-day strike in the hills — on May 15 and 16 — yesterday had said all state and central government offices would remain shut from Monday.