GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Morcha note to CM: mind your minister, State’s hill projects angers outfit – Asok and two officers accused of delaying talks – the “territory issue” being successfully derailed, by murder most foul ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 7: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has shot off a letter to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, complaining against minister Asok Bhattacharya and two senior officials of the region and hinting that their activities were delaying the party’s further talks with the Centre and the state.
However, at the same time Morcha president Bimal Gurung has instructed his party’s trade wing to attend a convention of apex bodies of tea trade unions that has Citu and Intuc as members.
The communication comes after the state urban development and municipal affairs minister started frequenting the hills following the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang. The murder had caught the Morcha leadership on the wrong foot. (and, by total shocking surprise ?!!)
“We have faxed a letter to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, saying that if the situation in the hills deteriorates then three persons — Asok Bhattacharya, B.L. Meena and K.L. Tamta — would be held responsible,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
After Tamang’s murder on May 21, Tamta had openly indicted the Morcha for the killing. Even though the state government has recently announced Tamta’s transfer from north Bengal, he continues to function as the IG of north Bengal. DGHC administrator Meena had filed FIRs against the Morcha squad of volunteers for occupying government properties in the hills.
Tamta had said there would be a crackdown on the squatters.
The Morcha also claimed that the sixth round of the tripartite talks on the statehood demand was scheduled for May 14, 2010, (where the Morcha staged a walkout as the Bengal delegation brought no mandate on the “territory issue” – wonder why, timing not obvious ?!!) a week before Tamang was murdered.
“Asok Bhattacharya has been constantly telling the media that the talks will not take place. He is knowingly trying to jeopardise the peace and our democratic movement,” alleged Giri at a news conference.
The party has threatened a 40-day strike in the hills early next month if the date for the talks is not announced immediately.
“The minister has suddenly started announcing development projects while Meena and Tamta are trying to lure the youths by promising them jobs under these schemes. We have written to the chief minister that we will not tolerate the activities of these two senior officers, who are bent on creating tension in the region,” said Giri.
Since Tamang’s murder, Bhattacharya, who is also the CPM MLA from Siliguri, has visited the hills twice. On June 25, while in Mungpoo, he promised to renovate and restore immediately the bungalow there where Rabindranath Tagore had spent some time. On July 2, he along with Meena had held a meeting in Darjeeling and announced funds for several development projects like slum development, road repair and the restoration of the lake in Mirik.
The Morcha leadership claimed that the issue of appointing 1,000-odd teachers in the primary and secondary schools in the hills had already been discussed with the state education minister. “Our education monitoring cell (body of representatives from the Morcha teachers and students wings) has discussed it but Bhattacharya is suddenly trying to extract (a) political mileage,” added Giri. Bhattacharya had said in Darjeeling that the appointments would be made within two months, which the Morcha claims is impossible. “We have talked to the education minister. We know it is not so easy,” a Morcha leader had said earlier.
The Morcha has also alleged that the police were trying to frame its cadres and leaders in the Tamang murder case. “The police are visiting the houses of our cadres and telling parents to ask their sons to surrender. An attempt is being made to spoil the atmosphere in the hills,” said Giri.
With rivals, for tea workers – gaining on the consensus issue ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 7: The trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today sat with the labour wings of the CPM and the Congress in a tea convention here, saying that the statehood issue and the welfare of garden workers should not be mixed up.
Directed by party president Bimal Gurung, leaders of the Morcha’s labour wing, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, for the first time, attended the convention organised by the two apex bodies of trade unions that have Citu and Intuc as constituents.
“We have been fighting for a separate state and differ with the CPM and the Congress as far as their political stands are concerned. However, on the question of the welfare of tea workers, we have no problems in associating ourselves with other unions fighting for the same cause,” said Prem Niroula, the vice-president of the Morcha union.
Asked whether sitting with the CPM and the Congress trade unions would affect their proposed talks with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, Niroula said it would be wrong to mix up the larger issue (of statehood) with that of tea problems.
The Parishad-affiliated Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, though invited, however, had not attended today’s convention. “We have been organising movement for several demands of tea workers on our own and do not find any reason for joining the convention,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the PTWU vice-chairman. “We will continue to move alone.”
Niroula said Gurung had told them that there was nothing wrong to join other trade unions given the fact that they (other unions) were organising movements for the interest of tea workers and not acting on behalf of the political parties or the state government.
“When the demands are similar, there is no point in abstaining from a joint movement,” said Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha union. He said they would dissociate themselves if any discrepancies were found in the older unions’ movement.
At the convention, leaders of more than 20 trade unions like Citu, Intuc, the labour wing of the RSP (the Utuc) and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha demanded immediate wage revision of the tea workers. More than 500 people from the Terai, the Dooars and Darjeeling attended the convention.