GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Rift in tribal outfit after Morcha offer – Dooars willing to join state struggle – and so Bengal’s influence slowly begins to crumble ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
(Syntax of reports slighly remixed for coherence of context)
Dagapur (Siliguri) , June 1: The Dooars branch of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad said it was willing to “go outside Bengal’s administration” for a better socio-economic future of the tribals in response to Bimal Gurung’s recent invitation, creating a rift within the tribal outfit.
The state leadership of the Parishad, the dominant organisation of the tribals in north Bengal, said under no circumstances would they sit with Gurung’s outfit, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, to discuss statehood plans. They also said they would not surrender an inch of land from the Terai and the Dooars to be included in the separate state, as had been demanded by the hill party. Neither will they allow the areas to be made part of the interim set-up that has been proposed for the hills.
But Parishad leaders in the Dooars, the area which has more tribals than in the Terai, said they found nothing wrong in talking to the Morcha if it extended a formal invitation.
“We have been demanding Sixth Schedule for the past two years or so. Even today, it is difficult for us to get employment,” said Raju Bara, the secretary of the Hasimara-Jaigaon regional committee and a state committee member of the Parishad, over the phone. “We find nothing wrong in extending support to the Morcha and go outside the purview of Bengal if it helps in our socio-economic development.”
“Considering the new nomenclature announced by Morcha president Bimal Gurung and the commitments made by the party leaders, there is nothing illogical in extending support to the Morcha and join the movement for separate statehood,” he added.
Gurung, while addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling on Sunday, had offered to re-christen Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh to woo the tribals. The Morcha wants the Dooars and the Terai to be part of the new hill state and the interim set-up. Since the tribals led by the Parishad were determined not to part with the Dooars and Terai, the hill leader dangled the carrot of the new name.
The rift in the Parishad was all the more evident as none of the Dooars leaders reached Dagapur, on the outskirts of Siliguri, to attend today’s state committee meeting presided over by Birsa Tirkey, the state president, and Tezkumar Toppo, the state secretary of the outfit.
Tirkey, however, tried to play down the absence of the leaders from the Dooars. “Mine is a routine visit and tomorrow, we are likely to meet our Dooars leaders in Malbazar,” he said. But when Tirkey was told that the Dooars leader was willing to join the Morcha movement, he described Bara as a “self-styled leader”.
“It is our unanimous decision that we will carry on with our movement for Sixth Schedule and not extend support to the Morcha or sit with them at bipartite-level meetings,” he said. “If some self-styled leader passes comments that contradict our stand, it is for him to clarify his statement. We, on our side, will take necessary steps.
“It is because of such leaders that the Morcha could assemble 40-50 tribal people in their public meetings and then claim that the tribal population is with them,” the state president added.
The Morcha leadership said the state leaders of the Parishad had failed to perceive the ground reality. “The state leaders stay in Calcutta and do not have a concrete idea of the ground reality,” said Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha.
Sources said the next round of tripartite meeting was likely to take place on June 9, but with the Morcha new stand that it would discuss only statehood, the result of the discussions is uncertain.
Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, who is camping in the hill town, is scheduled to meet Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan at 10am tomorrow. The governor returned to Darjeeling today from Goa.
MEANWHILE: THE OPPOSITION VOICE TO THE ‘WAYS & MEANS’ TO STATEHOOD – all must be heard in a democracy in Bengal and some must ‘just’ be more heard more than ‘others’ ?!! (like all are equal comrades under communism – but some are just ‘more’ equal ?!!)
ABGL smells ‘conspiracy’ in new name – still playing the ‘how to empower Bengal’ game ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, June 1: The ABGL today alleged that “a conspiracy” has been hatched to include the Darjeeling hills in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution under a new name, Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh.
“The name, Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh, which is being mooted, is nothing but a conspiracy to force the Sixth Schedule or the interim arrangement on the hill people. It is well known that the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad is continuously demanding Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars and the new name is just a conspiracy, which will be opposed by the ABGL,” party president Bharati Tamang said in a statement today.
Tamang, the widow of murdered ABGL leader Madan Tamang, said the ABGL and the hill people had rejected both the Sixth Schedule status and the interim set-up and would continue to do so in future.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung while addressing a public meeting on Sunday said the “chapter of interim set-up was closed” and that his party would discuss only the statehood demand in the next tripartite meeting with the Centre and the state. The Morcha chief had further maintained that keeping with the Adivasi aspiration, the new state that his outfit had been demanding would be renamed Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh.
The ABGL is unconvinced that the Morcha wants a separate state, and is only trying to juggle with words to have an administrative arrangement within Bengal. “The ABGL has always been against any administrative arrangement within Bengal and will continue to oppose any such conspiracies,” the letter states.
The ABGL also attacked the Morcha leadership for demanding a CBI probe into the death of their leader. “People who had performed the funeral rites of Madan Tamang much before he was murdered…are now talking about a CBI inquiry even before his ashes have cooled down. The hill people are aware of these facts,” the statement read.
“Madan Tamang always wanted a CBI inquiry to probe the irregularities in the mid-day meal and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan schemes. Despite his death, the hills have not forgotten his demand for a CBI inquiry into these issues,” said Tamang.
AND NOT TO FORGET
Ghisingh blames cops for hill plight – now fearing an Adivasi push too, needs to go deeper down into Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, June 1: Subash Ghisingh today accused police of failing to restore law and order in the Darjeeling hills, the most vocal charge in recent times levelled by the GNLF chief who had been forced to resign as DGHC chairperson by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and flee the hills two years ago.
“During Jyoti Basu’s regime, the police were ‘alive and vibrant’ but now, the force (under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) seems to be sleeping and its activities have come down to zero,” Ghisingh said.
“We mourn the death of ABGL chief Madan Tamang and fear that if the police continue to remain silent spectator, there might be some more political murders in the hills in the coming days,” he added.
Ghisingh, while talking to journalists at his rented house in Jalpaiguri, said the GNLF wanted the state and the Centre to confer Sixth Schedule status on the hills.
“The Morcha leaders must understand that neither the state nor the Centre are interested to meet the demand for Gorkhaland or the interim set-up,” he said.
“We want the governments to confer Sixth Schedule with increased powers, followed by elections in which the GNLF will participate. We have revoked the last year’s decision of not contesting the polls.”
Under the Sixth Schedule that Ghisingh had been clamouring for, additional legislative, administrative and financial powers would have to be given to a new council meant to run the hills. Currently, the special status is applicable only in some areas of the Northeast, where there is a predominant tribal population.
Ghisingh recounted that in 2005, he had held a public meeting in Darjeeling after Tamang criticised him. “He was my political opponent and I had even called a public meeting to alert him against bringing baseless charges against me and the GNLF,” Ghisingh said. “However, I had never threatened any leader of other parties or organised any attack on them. It is a new terror tactics in the hills and the police have to take steps to bring back normality. Otherwise, we suspect, the situation will deteriorate.”
The GNLF chief also criticised the role of the police in curbing the alleged violent and illegal activities of the Morcha that had usurped his support base in the hills.
“It is frustrating to see senior police officers changing statements at regular intervals. At one time, they are saying that steps would be taken against the Morcha but after a few hours, they adopt a conciliatory attitude. Such activities only disappoint people who will, in future, no longer bank on the police,” he added.
The GNLF will not join the Democratic Front, an anti-Morcha platform in the hills, he said.
Ghising opposes Gurung’s Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh proposal – but naturally an ‘expanded and more viable’ idea ?!!
FROM PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Jalpaiguri, June 1, 2010, 23:52 (PTI): Breaking his prolonged silence, Gorkha National Liberation Front chief Subash Ghising today said he was opposed to ‘Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh’ — the new name proposed by GJM for Gorkhaland.
“It is not at all practical to change the name of Gorkhaland to Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh, since issues affecting the Gorkhas and the Adivasis are totally different. The two cannot be combined,” Ghising, once the undisputed leader of the Darjeeling hills who first gave the name Gorkhaland, told reporters.
“Only a political solution can solve the problems of the hills and that is the only way out,” Ghising, who ruled the hills almost unchallenged till 2008 before being forced to flee to the plains by the GJM, said.