OPINION on GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Blood in the Hills – State cannot escape its responsibility

OPINION on GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Blood in the Hills State cannot escape its responsibility – at last being “statesmanlike” or just different ?!! 

Blood in the Hills - Trampled by Bengal ?!!

 

EDITORIAL: FROM THE STATESMAN 

IT is pointless to start a debate on whether the ghastly killing of Madan Tamang in broad daylight was an intelligence failure. 

The stalemate in Darjeeling after the infructuous talks on the Gorkhaland demand caused deep divisions among even those wanting a separate state and there were indications that popular support for the Gorkha  Janmukti  Morcha  would shift to other outfits. 

That this would, in turn, translate into tension and strife ought to have been evident to the state government, responsible for law and order, especially during the tourist season when the Governor was in Darjeeling. 

The attack took place in the presence of policemen during preparations for the ABGL’s foundation day programme. Not surprisingly, Writers’ Buildings chose to act only after the brutal slaying. 

It does no credit to the ruling party or the administration that law enforcement was scarcely visible while the morcha was establishing its absolute supremacy in the manner the GNLF had done in the Eighties with violent consequences. 

Tamang, who had adopted a moderate approach and focused on collective leadership, obviously represented a parallel force that could have caused a dent in the morcha’s popular base. 

From attacks on leaders who had opposed Subash Ghisingh to the assassination attempt on Ghisingh himself in 2001, Darjeeling has witnessed years of inter-party violence to go with bandhs and bloody confrontations. 

What it has also witnessed are conflicting methods of achieving what was elusive and perhaps impossible. 

If the morcha had managed to convince people that Ghisingh was only deifying himself through the Hill Council, which had brought virtually no improvement in the hills, Tamang had begun to raise similar criticism against some morcha leaders who had benefited from government contracts. 

Also, he was more inclined to ensure that the movement didn’t imperil the survival of the tourist town. He may well have paid the price for preferring moderation to the often mindless militancy of his political peers. 

But the state administration will need to explain why it stood by while the hills were cut off, and why it has failed to even attempt a political solution to meet popular aspirations. 

If violence is a device that will cause hill parties to destroy themselves and if that is the consequence the state government seeks, it reflects political and administrative bankruptcy. 

More important, it displays a detached contempt for the wishes of people who ask, in the ultimate analysis, only to be better governed. 

Constitutional aspect of Territories

From The Darjeeling Times
Written by Hillman – the analyst
May 13, 2010 

GJM walkout on the 11th of May 2010, next meeting on the 25th - still in dialogue, abjuring violence, but 'firm and resolute' - Bengal inflexible ?!!

 

The five member GJMM team meeting Central officials regarding the interim Setup and particularly addressing the territory inclusivity did not seem to have faired well considering the territory aspect as non-negotiable. 

In this respect one and all is suggested to read the writings on the wall of the Constitution of India in order to fathom the details and aspects of Darjeeling District contained therein and not at all imply any schemes of event outside the writings enshrined within it. 

The District it seems pertinent to assume is incorporated into the V Schedule of the Constitution and therefore at the moment of time is suggestive of an interim provision only (Union Territory or Centrally Administered Area). 

All this is comprehensively discussed in articles contributed by this writer to Darjeelingtimesdotcom and elsewhere. 

It is not necessary to recall them here but the reader is advised to refer them in order to understand the provisions and the territory involved. 

As per the Constitutional provision of the territory, as provided by the Partially Excluded Area regional identity of the Darjeeling hill peoples (as All Tribes) in Census 1931 and its related effect in the Govt. of India Act 1935 and Order 1936 requires to be thoroughly investigated and examined to derive at the true regional identity of the Darjeeling hill people and adjoining areas (including the Dooars) as well as Sikkim and Bhutan from which countries Darjeeling District was created as an administrative area under the British Govt. 

After the handover of power from the British to the Viceroy, for an interim period since 1947 till the Constitution of India was promulgated in 1950 since it as transferred to the President of India this is simply to allow inference that Darjeeling District, although territorially in West Bengal but never so constitutionally, happened to be directly under the supervision of the President of India on conditions of the Partially Excluded Area (V Schedule) provisions. 

If this constitutional validity is to be implied in totality Darjeeling District in Bengal is said to have occupied under Census 1931 an area of 1164 sq.miles (3013.5 sq.kms) population 3,19,635 and in Census 2001 : 1215.51sq miles (3149 sq.kms)  population 16,09,172. 

Presently under the last territorial area now in an estimated population should be more and not less than 20 lakhs at this point of time in 2010AD. 

Therefore the question of territory being fragmented from the Constitutionally  guaranteed area of Darjeeling District is disallowed any allowance for even discussing it as a topic let alone fragmenting the area for certain vested interest, with or without any considerate realities outside the provision of the Constitution. 

It is felt even raising the issue at any point of time is an infringement on the constitutional right of Darjeeling District. Therefore the territorial fragmentation of Siliguri subdivision is insequential and void for any claim of the State in which Darjeeling District is only absorbed by the Absorbed Area (Laws) Act1 954 and which requires now to be constitutionally returned to its statuesque in the V Schedule (in total land area) mentioned in the Constitution of India 1950. 

The question of the Dooars (Jalpaiguri District) at this moment of time does not feature in the Constitution of India for the simple reason Jalpaiguri District was withdrawn out of the provision of the Excluded Area in the Govt. of India Act1 935 for some reasons which requires to be investigated and enquired. 

This is the issue related to Census 1931 and 1941 wherein it is a probability that certain tribes, especially the Koch who happened to be culturally accepted as Tribes were delisted in the latter Census. 

It is presumed based on Census on 1941 but otherwise inadvertently denied approach of Census 1931, in the Govt. of India Act 1935, Jalpaiguri District was withdrawn out of the provisions of “Backward Tracts” like Darjeeling District, and unfairly, the former was withdrawn out of the provisions of either Excluded Area or Partially Excluded Area. 

The Koch inhabiting Jalpaiguri and Cooch Bihar Districts require to be relisted pending, the verification of the delisting in Census 1941 n order to be relisted again for the injustice. 

It is believed the Koch were delisted from tribes status for having declared the lingua franca Bengali language as the mother tongue in absence of literacy whereas in actual fact culturally their mother tongue was Koch, a Tibeto-Burman dialect. 

It is also alluded a similar feat was repeated in the delisting of Darjeeling District Tribes in Census 1941 when the tribes having expressed the lingua franca Nepali as the mother tongue happened to have deprived all the Tibeto-Burman speaking Darjeeling Himalayan tribes to ethnic majority Indian citizens. 

Once the basis of these tribal factors are eliminated to confirm the actual status of the tribal population it would seem constitutionally provided that the Dooars Terai and infact the rest of Jalpaiguri District can afford to be constitutionally provided in the V Schedule also and thereby pave its path towards separation from West Bengal. 

At this point of time under bilateral discussions with the Dooars indigenous plains tribes (Mechi, and others), the Dooars Terai maybe amalgamated with Darjeeling District to form a new state of Darjeeling and Dooars. 

This is a reality in time to come, however in the meantime Darjeeling District should forward its statehood plan with a disclaimer that in the perceivable future the Dooars will be considered on the outline laid out above. 

GOING DOWNHILL – again and again ?!! 

EDITORIAL: FROM THE TELEGRAPH 

It was a terrifying image of the murder of political dissent and the collapse of the law.

As he lay in a pool of blood in a Darjeeling street, waiting to die from his assassins’ blows, Madan Tamang captured all that has gone horribly wrong for a political culture.

The fact that the armed policemen around him were mere spectators not only heightens the horror but also shows how dangerous the administrative vacuum in the hills has become.

The way the West Bengal government has abdicated its responsibility in Darjeeling is simply unprecedented.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s anxiety to buy peace with the dominant political force in the hills has seen the gradual rolling back of the State there.

This strange policy marked his government’s total surrender earlier to Subash Ghisingh’s Gorkha National Liberation Front and now to Bimal Gurung’s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

This has left not just other political groups but also the common people of Darjeeling entirely at the mercy of the agitators.

If Tamang, who was president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, met such a brutal end, it was because he showed the rare courage of carrying his dissent to the street.

It should be easy to imagine how the ordinary people of Darjeeling cope with this climate of terror.  

However, the tragedy must not be allowed to stall the talks involving the GJM, the state government and the Centre over the proposed interim status for Darjeeling.

If anything, Tamang’s murder shows how important it is to end the deadlock in Darjeeling and restore democratic politics there.

The resolution of some of the issues, especially the one involving the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed set-up, may take time.

But the situation may get worse if the talks are allowed to collapse. The talks, however, cannot be an excuse for the government to leave Darjeeling to people who want to be a law unto themselves. Enormous damage has already been done to the rule of law in Darjeeling.

Mr Bhattacharjee would do well to use Tamang’s death to re-establish the State’s authority there. Arresting the killers could be an important first step to reassure the people that the government is able and willing to fulfil its constitutional obligations.

Given its location close to a sensitive border area, what happens in Darjeeling can have serious security implications for India.

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