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26 Jun 2017

GJM Revives Separate Gorkhaland Demand—Darjeeling Burns Again

Barun Das Gupta, Mainstream, VOL LV No 27 New Delhi June 24, 2017: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has suddenly revived the demand for a separate Gorkhaland and the Darjeeling hills are witnessing widespread violence. GJM supporters have repeatedly clashed with the police, burnt police and government vehicles and set fire to police posts and government offices. Several police personnel have been grievously injured and two GJM workers died of bullet injury, though it is not clear who fired the shots. The police denied having opened fire.
But following the sequence of events since the first week of June, it is obvious that there is more in the GJM suddenly going on the war- path than meets the eye. State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee announced on May 15 that henceforth students of all schools, irrespective of the Boards they were under and irrespective of their mother tongue, would have to learn three languages from Class I to X, one of which will be Bengali. “From now on, it will be compulsory for students to learn Bengali in schools. English medium schools will have to make Bengali an optional subject from Class I so that the students can study it either as a second or third language.”
The GJM did not react to this announcement or oppose it at that time. Trouble suddenly broke out when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee decided to hold a meeting of the State Cabinet in Darjeeling. The meeting was held on June 8. Incidentally, it was after 40 years that a State Cabinet meeting was being held in the hill town. As the Cabinet was meeting, workers of the GJM came out on the streets and indulged in widespread violence. The GJM said it would oppose tooth and nail the ‘imposition’ of Bengali on the Gorkhas. Mamata later clarified that Bengali was not compulsory but optional. This did not have any effect on the GJM because introduction of Bengali was just a ruse. The real cause of their violent agitation was very different.
The Ministers and the large number of tourists who usually visit Darjeeling during this time of the year, suddenly found themselves trapped. They could not drive down to Siliguri as the GJM supporters had blocked the roads. At this point of time Mamata took over command. Herself staying put in Darjeeling, she arranged her Ministers to leave the town and send them back to Kolkata. Next, she made arrangement for the safe passage of all the tourists who were passing hours and days in fear and anxiety to Kolkata and other destinations.
The situation took such a turn that the State Government had to ask for Army help. Two columns of Army, each of 80 men, were deployed to maintain law and order as the situation had gone out of control of the police. More security forces have since been deployed.
On June 11, the Morcha announced it would start an indefinite bandh from the very next day, June 12. Two days before, on June 9, that is, the day after the Cabinet meeting, it declared a 12-hour bandh. 
An interesting development took place before the sudden eruption of the Morcha’s belligerence. On June 7, the day before the Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri met the BJP State President Dilip Ghosh in a closed door meeting in Kolkata. What transpired at the meeting is not known. Giri also called on Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and requested him to intervene in the State Government’s decision to introduce Bengali in schools.
Next, the GJM called a meeting of five hill parties on June 13. At the meeting, the State BJP announced its support for the separate Gorkha-land demand. This caused widespread resent-ment among the people of West Bengal. As an urgent damage-control measure, BJP National President Amit Shah said that his party had not taken a stand on the Gorkhaland question. But he refrained from saying categorically that the party does not support the Gorkhaland demand. It was a clever ploy to assuage the feelings of the people of West Bengal and at the same time to assure the GJM that the Centre had not decided against it either.
Meanwhile, the police raided the residence of GJM chief Bimal Gurung and the office of the GJM on June 16. A huge cache of traditional arms like bows and arrows and khukri, firearms, explosives, night vision binoculars, wireless transreceivers and lakhs of rupees in cash were recovered. Obviously, the arms were not acquired on a single day but over a period of time. It meant that not only the Intelligence agencies of the State but also those of the Centre were blissfully unaware of what was going on in the hills.
Police officials are of the opinion that the GJM was preparing for a long-drawn guerilla-type war. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said the GJM had contacts with some insurgent outfits of the North-East and that a ‘foreign country’ was also helping the Morcha. She did not name the country. A section of police officials have pointed out that there are many retired Army personnel among the Gorkhas and if they lend their support to the movement the situation may further worsen.
The real reason for Gurung’s discomfort and anger is believed to be Mamata’s decision to send special audit teams to audit the accounts of the Gorkha Territorial Council and the three municipalities of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong—all controlled by the GJM. The audit teams have been asked to scrutinise how much money the GTA and the three civic bodies received from the State and the Centre and how the money was spent.
In the eighties the CPI-M Government never undertook any audit of the accounts of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), run by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader, Subhas Ghising. The Left Front Govern-met deliberately allowed Ghising to spend money as he liked without any accountability because the CPI-M wanted to buy peace with Ghising. Ultimately, Ghising discredited himself so thoroughly that he had to leave Darjeeling and take up residence in Siliguri. Bimal Gurung took advantage of the situation to float his own outfit, the GJM.
Mamata Banerjee and many others believe that the GJM is getting support from the BJP party and government. There is one view that if violence continues and spreads in the hills and the contiguous Dooars and Terai region, then a case can be made out that the constitutional machinery has broken down in the State and imposition of President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution has become unavoidable. This seems rather far-fetched because such a step will play directly into the hands of Mamata. The BJP will shoot itself in the foot. It will have no chance of increasing its footprint in Bengal in the midterm poll that will have to be held within six months or in the general elections in 2019. The BJP has no leader who may be put up as a chief ministerial face and who can come anywhere near Mamata’s charisma and personality. As a party, the BJP cannot take on the powerful organisational machinery of the Trinamul Congress.
But the BJP may be tempted to keep the pot boiling in Darjeeling. One of the two BJP MPs from West Bengal is elected from Darjeeling with the support of the GJM. Interestingly, the Bengal units of the CPI-M and the Congress are also criticising Mamata’s ‘handling of the Darjeeling situation’. They have accused her of ‘dividing the hill people’.
In the last two to three years, the Trinamool Congress has been able to dent the GJM’s mono-poly of power in the hills and register its presence. It has won the Mirik municipality while in each of the other three civic bodies it (Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong) it has been able to win a seat or two. By setting up separate Development Boards for the non-Gorkha communities, like the Lepchas and Bhutias, Mamata has been able to corner the Morcha.
Mamata is firm in her resolve not to allow the separation of the hills from Bengal. She will not submit to any pressure or threat from any quarter. Talks with the GJM will be possible only after it withdraws the bandh. If the Morcha still persists in its confrontation with the State Government and does not retract from the path of violence, it will only deepen the suspicion that Gurung & Co. has powerful political backers, as Mamata has hinted.
The author was a correspondent of The Hindu in Assam. He also worked in Patriot, Compass (Bengali), Mainstream. A veteran journalist, he comes from a Gandhian family and was intimately associated with the RCPI leader, Pannalal Das Gupta.
(Source & Courtesy: http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article7275.html)

Darjeeling hills echo with the sound of Gorkhaland demand

The hindu businessline.com, DARJEELING : The current agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state has struck a chord with the hill people and local political parties, a throwback to the 1980s when a prolonged movement led by the GNLF under Subash Ghisingh had rocked Darjeeling.
Cutting across religious, political and ideological divides, the overwhelming view is that Gorkhaland is a ‘sentiment’ that can no longer be ignored.
“Such unity among the people of the hills was last witnessed in the 80s. It can be suppressed for some time but can’t be wiped out,” Jan Andolan Party (JAP) Chief Harka Bahadur Chetri said as tension continued to simmer, 11 days after the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) called for an indefinite shutdown on June 8.
Chetri, a former GJM MLA, had formed his own political outfit last year after differences with GJM supremo Bimal Gurung.
He has now extended his full support to the cause of Gorkhaland as have GJM’s arch-rivals Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), All Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM), Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) and the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM).
In a disturbing development for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a section of local leaders of her Trinamool Congress (TMC) have backed the statehood demand along with local CPI-M leaders.
“Gorkhaland is not a political rhetoric but a sentiment and a passion which has grown stronger over the years,” said a leader who did not want to be named.

There were signs of a split in views in the local BJP leadership as well. BJP district General Secretary Shanta Kishore Gurung said, “I may have difference with the GJM and its style of functioning but on the issue of Gorkhaland we are on the same page. I am also a Gorkha, how can I betray my Gorkha brothers and sisters?”
State BJP Secretary Dilip Ghosh, however, declined to comment on what Gurung said but maintained that his party was against creation of a separate state.
GNLF, an ally of West Bengal’s ruling TMC and an archrival of the GJM, has also broken ranks with the TMC and thrown its weight behind the agitation for a separate state.
“We have our own differences, but we have decided to keep aside our differences and fight for Gorkhaland. The GNLF has, since its inception in the 1980s, been fighting for Gorkhaland. We now feel that the atmosphere in the hills and at the Centre is fully conducive for the creation of a separate state,” Neraaj Zimba, GNLF spokesperson, told PTI over the phone.
Such unity was witnessed during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s then spearheaded by the GNLF under Subash Ghising.
The ABGL, whose Founder-Chief Madan Tamang was murdered in broad daylight on a street in Darjeeling in 2010 suspectedly by the GJM, also endorsed the agitation.
“Yes it is true we have our differences. But presently we need to keep aside differences and respect the sentiments of the hill people,” a senior ABGL leader said.
Asked about the ‘imposition’ of Bengali language, the trigger for the current revolt, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said, “Our mother tongue is Nepali, why would we learn Bengali? Now if someone says that everybody in India needs to learn Sanskrit, will Bengalis accept? This is the reason all of us have united.”
Opinion on the street also appears to veer towards supporting the movement, although the current turbulence has rekindled bitter memories of the 80s disturbance which had all but destroyed the local economy overwhelmingly dependent on tourism.
“We have been branded as foreigners, but the fact is that our land and our forefathers were born here. Darjeeling is being treated as a holiday home by the people of Bengal. Gorkhaland is not just a state for us, but a matter of our identity,” Smreeti Rai, a Professor of St Joseph College, Darjeeling, told PTI.
Mahendra Pradhan, a retired school teacher, echoed Rai. . “We are the most neglected community in this country who did not get their due,” he said.
Mustaq Ahmed, a shop owner who has lived in Darjeeling for five decades and considers himself a ‘Gorkha Muslim’ also feels that the demand of Gorkhaland is completely justified as every community has the right to its own identity.
(This article was published on June 19, 2017) ( Surce & COurtesy: http://www.c/news/national/darjeeling-hills-echo-with-the-sound-of-gorkhaland-demand/article9730300.ece)


Who’ll Blink First? Mamata Faces Toughest Test as Darjeeling Burns

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s cry for Gorkhaland has become West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s toughest challenge in her six-year-rule. (Photo: Liju Joseph/<b>The Quint</b>)Payal Mohanka , The quint.com : In the mid-eighties, it was Subhas Ghising who had emerged from the shadows and his cry for Gorkhaland became a major political force. He used the confrontation between the then Congress government at the Centre and the Marxists in West Bengal to carve out his own power base.
In 1988, after the signing the Peace Accord, in an interview with me, Ghising had said, “I want peace, yes, I do. I’ve asked the CPI-M to control their cadres, I’ll control mine. If they don’t, if my men are victimised, I’ll ask for Gorkhaland again. I cannot disappoint them.”
As the quote goes, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”.
The Story, 29 Years Later
Twenty-nine years later, the protagonists are different, but are we back to square one?
Subhas Ghising’s GNLF (Gorkha National Liberation Front) has been replaced by Bimal Gurung’s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is an ally of the BJP at the Centre. In West Bengal, the Marxists have made way for the Trinamool Congress and the GJM’s cry for Gorkhaland has become West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s toughest challenge in her six-year-rule.
Banerjee returned to power with a thumping majority in 2016. Her detractors feel that she was desperately eyeing the hills in a bid to capture more power. In the municipal elections last month in the hills, she won Mirik but lost Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
With the Gorkha Territorial Administration’s (GTA, the semi-autonomous body set up to manage the affairs of the hills) elections scheduled for next month, she announced that she would hold a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling.
"I don’t think Banerjee merits this kind of backlash. Elections were democratically held in the municipalities in the hills. The TMC got about 30% of the votes. I don’t see what is wrong if the CM wants to hold a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling. Should this provoke stone-pelting and unwarranted demonstrations?" Senior Bureaucrat.
It was in 1973 that the then chief minister of West Bengal Siddhartha Shankar Ray had held a cabinet meeting in Darjeeling. Since then no chief minister of the state has held a cabinet meeting outside Kolkata. Could Darjeeling not be given the same benefits by holding the meeting in Kolkata?
This coupled with Banerjee’s announcement that “Pahar haschhey, Jangal Mahal hashchhey (The hills and troubled areas like Jangal Mahal are now beaming with smiles)" sent mixed signals.
Critics felt she was claiming the entire credit and marginalising Bimal Gurung and his party. Unfortunately, the promised transfer of power from the state government to the GTA, as envisioned in the 2012 agreement, never did take place.
A sense of insecurity began to grow as Banerjee set up 15 development boards of tribes in the hills, whereas earlier there were none. She was accused of weaning away the hill people. Did she want to divide and rule?
Making Bengali Compulsory
Her announcement to make Bengali compulsory in schools was the last straw. Banerjee issued a clarification and did a neat volt face with regard to the imposition of Bengali in the hills, but her opponents had seized the opportunity.
Language is a hugely emotive issue – it stirs up sentiments, creates a feeling of alienation and unites people. It underscores the Nepali vs Bengali divide and challenges ethnic identities. Banerjee perhaps regrets having raised the language issue, but the damage has been done. Terror was unleashed and the tranquil hills were ablaze.
Banerjee announced a special audit for the GTA and then the three municipalities of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong (exempting Mirik which is under her party, the TMC together with the GNLF). A special team from Kolkata, comprising 12 officials, have been sent to the hills to carry out this audit.
"She is holding an audit to look into the last four years. Close to Rs 1,600 crore have been given by the Centre and the state government. The chief minister wants to establish financial irregularities in the GTA else why is this audit being carried out now? The GTA elections are next month." Political Observer
Banerjee’s supporters have a diametrically opposite view. A bureaucrat who has a ringside view of the recent developments says:
The GTA is being run in a slipshod manner. There are a lot of irregularities – money has been misappropriated, contracts have been wrongly awarded. As a result, the people of the region have not got the benefit of the money allocated by the government.
The timing of the audit has raised questions about the state government’s motive. Her opponents have now responded with a high-pitched cry for Gorkhaland. Is this the last ditch effort to carve out a part of Bengal and create a separate state?
Bureaucrats in the hills feel that the GTA is akin to a glorified zilla parishad. Can a person, who is a leader of a zilla parishad, think he is above the Constitution and above the state government’s rules and regulations?
The Centre, apart from a few initial flip-flops, is now helping to maintain law and order in the region with the help of the army and the CRPF.
Can Gorkhaland Ever Become a Reality?
Is Darjeeling on its own a viable option for a state? It is unlikely that Darjeeling will receive support from adjoining areas like the Dooars or Siliguri.
In the rare instance that it does, the number of plain people would far outweigh the hill folk. Out of the seven assembly constituencies in the region, three are in the hills and four are in the plains. Can a state be carved out in these circumstances?
The ethnicity of those who are making this demand for Gorkhaland is also being questioned. Gorkhas are from a village in Nepal called Gorkhey. The original inhabitants of the hills in this area are the tribes of Darjeeling like the Lepchas, Bhutias, Tamangs, Sherpas and Limbus.
While some in the state government would like us to believe the agitation is being fuelled by migrant Nepalis, it must be noted that Gorkhas are Indian nationals, who have been here for well over half a century and serve in the army too.
As the hills continue to simmer, Mamata Banerjee faces her toughest challenge.
(The writer is a Kolkata-based senior journalist.)(This article was published on June 22, 2017)
(Source & Courtesy: https://www.thequint.com/opinion/2017/06/22/darjeeling-gorkhaland-mamata-banerjee-challenge)

Making sense of Gorkhaland agitation, a storm brewing in Darjeeling hills

Photo: D,K,Waiba , KalimNews
Prem Poddar, India Today, : Installed in my hideout in Kalimpong in December-January, the hills appeared quiet under the yellow-pink glow of Kanchenjunga, with no whisper of trouble. The ratcheting up of moves for the upcoming municipal elections played well within the frayed fabric of our noisy polity. The Jana Andolan Party (JAP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) were positioning themselves, anticipating a reconfiguration to dislodge the GJM (Gorkha Janamukti Morcha), which had been enjoying the fruits of BJP outsourcing. The TMC did well at the mid-May hustings to wrench Mirik town from GJM's grip. But the GJM returned, with its wings partly clipped, in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
Mamata saw an opportunity here, and it is in this light that the current flare-up ought to be seen. A myopic and majoritarian attempt at forcing the Bengali language on a large minority in Bengal backfired, leading to a violent resuscitation of the old demand for a Gorkhaland. It is reminiscent of the truculent late 1980s, when the Gorkha National Liberation Front's prime schismatic, Ghising, deployed the tactic of 'no man's land' (and 'ceded land') in a geo-strategically sensitive borderland to feed political fires. But the andolans furnished only a hill council and later in the 2000s, a territorial administration under GJM's Bimal Gurung when a state was demanded. The Centre may invent yet another interim model to suture the alienation from Bengal but the resurgent demand for statehood is popular and emotive.
It is no less emotive in the rest of Bengal which raucously rejects division, mindful not only of 1905 but also of 1947, when the reality of the Radcliffe Line descended upon a population that had been neither asked for their opinion nor properly informed of what was to come. This wilful incommunication was to cast long shadows over subsequent events, and accounts of this shaded easily into patterns of thought that were dualistic and left little room for other players. The Darjeeling writer I.B. Rai has anxiously evoked other divisions in his essay Pahar ra Khola (Hills and Streams): "When will the Nepali race [translated from jati] ever get anywhere when it has to walk the main street taking everything along with it? The path of the sub-race is our only short one, a way of quick progress. For how long will we wait together, with the future of the race our only aim?"
The sandwiching of 'sub-racial' or 'tribal' groups between the upper-caste Bahuns and Chhetris and the lower-caste Matwali Jaatharu ('the drinking lot') in the Gorkha social formation has taken on a distinct political dimension lately, as these groups recognise the benefits of being officially declared scheduled tribes and have become the ready subjects of 'development boards' installed by the Bengal government under Mamata. These ethnic 'development boards', recognised through an executive fiat by the government as an alternative conduit for delivering funds, are the latest tinkerings in a long line of experiments in governance. The idea is that these boards ostensibly allow 'backward' communities to uphold their economic and social well-being. It's also a counter-insurgency strategy by the state to produce divisions amongst the Gorkhas and with the indigenous Lepchas.
Ironically, the now compromised Subhas Ghising earlier saw profit in the inclusion of his constituents as scheduled tribes, staging spectacles of sacrifice, blood-drinking and exorcism as proof of 'primitiveness' and 'backwardness'. You could read this, as one rather generous scholar has done, as the Darjeeling communities' strategy to return the homegrown orientalist gaze of the state and its anthropologists. But politically, many fear later reprisals from a victorious GJM against pro-state boards and communities.
The current crisis in the hills highlights yet again the inescapable violence that emerges out of hatred, fabricated untruth or ignorance. In truth, fraternity, like politics, enjoys only moments. For the long-suffering Darjeeling hills, the turmoil may seem like a return to reality.
Prem Poddar is professor in cultural encounters, at Roskilde University, Denmark. He divides his time between London, Kalimpong and Copenhagen. (This article was published on June 22, 2017)
(Source & Courtesy: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/mamata-banerjee-west-bengal-gorkhland-darjeeling-kalimpong-kurseong-jana-andolan-party/1/984595.html)

Darjeeling unrest: Gorkhaland movement is a question of identity, not development

Representational image. ReutersPrakash Nand , firstpost.com Jun, 24 2017 The ongoing agitation in Darjeeling for the creation of a separate state called Gorkhaland and, what is more important, its open support by chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling of the adjoining state of Sikkim need to be seen in a different perspective than the ones associated with similar demands, both in the past and at present, for statehood in other parts of the country. In Darjeeling Hills, the core issue behind the demand to break away from West Bengal is identity, not development.
Of course, most of the new states that have been carved out of the bigger states in recent years have not conclusively settled the debate as to what the ideal criteria on the basis of which a state should be formed are. Presently, India has 29 states and seven union territories. Independent India in 1947 had 16 states and some 10 union territories. The number of states has increased over time due to the splitting of some big states and the conversion of some union territories into states. The last time cartographers were sent scurrying to redraw India's boundaries was in 2014, when Telengana was created out of Andhra Pradesh.
It may be noted that states such as undivided Andhra Pradesh, part of the original Madras state; Haryana, part of the original Punjab state; and Maharashtra and Gujarat, originally of the undivided Bombay province, were the creations of protests and hunger strikes by important national leaders. But many of the new states were formed on the basis of recommendations by the States Reorganisation Commission set up in 1955. Formed in the wake of agitation for the creation of a Telugu language-speaking Andhra Pradesh by breaking up Madras province — where Tamil was the other major language — the commission devised in 1956 the highly dubious criterion of linguistic commonality as the basis for new states.
It may be mentioned here that the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not exactly happy with the recommendations of the Commission, which essentially favoured the creation of new states on the basis of the language spoken by its people. Importantly, BR Ambedkar, who played a vital role in drafting the Indian Constitution, also was not in tune with the commission’s recommendations. Ambedkar pointed out, “The commission evidently thinks that the size of a state is a matter of no consequence and that the equality in the size of the status constituting a federation is a matter of no moment. This is the first and the most terrible error cost which the commission has committed. If not rectified in time, it will indeed be a great deal.”
Ambedkar realised that the disparity in population sizes was a ‘fantastic’ result, bound to create huge costs for the nation. His opposition to the commission’s recommendations stemmed from the imbalance of political power in the country — the large states in the north and balkanisation of the south would pit the two regions of the country against each other. The solution he offered used the size of the state and administrative effectiveness for making smaller states in the north: Dividing the three large states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh and using the rule that ‘a population of approximately two crore which should be regarded as the standard size of population for a state to administer effectively’.
As Ambedkar clarified, “One language one state should be the rule, but people with the same language can divide themselves into many states—this promotes more uniform balance of power within the country, satisfies social needs and most importantly, creates units that can be administered with ease, leading to better growth performance for the nation.” While he used this rule to call for the division of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, he went into greater detail analysing his home state Maharashtra with 3.3 crore Marathi-speaking population and an area spanning 1.74 lakh square miles — it “is a vast area and it is impossible to have efficient administration by a single state”. According to his analysis, economic, industrial, educational and social inequalities in the regions of Maharashtra make for a clear division of the state into four parts — Bombay, Western (Konkan), Central (Marathwada) and Eastern (Vidarbha).
As subsequent events proved, Ambedkar was perhaps right. New states have been created over the last five decades periodically. In the mid-60s, Haryana was formed out of Punjab and some districts of Punjab formed today’s Himachal Pradesh. In 1971, Arunachal, Meghalaya and Mizoram were carved out of Assam and then, in 2000, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were formed out of UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. And more importantly, economists say these creations contributed towards economic development of the country.
Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have done very well economically. After the division of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in 2000, except for Madhya Pradesh, all the others — UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — performed much better in the seven-year period post-reorganisation than the seven preceding years. In the case of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh, the annualised growth rates increased by about 6 percentage points in the post-reorganisation years. In Jharkhand as well, there was an improvement, about 4 percentage points — the smaller Bihar also found its growth rising by 3.7 percentage points.
Even from the point of view of governance, small states are supposed to be better. The arguments cited in this regard are as follows: By dividing the problem in small parts and concentrating on the problems region wise, there are more chances of better growth. We need governance at a small level so that we can manage and regulate life more appropriately. Reorganising India into smaller states on the basis of problems such as poverty and illiteracy can give a chance to the government to resolve those problems in a much better way.
But there is also a counter-view. In a diverse and pluralistic country like India, too much decentralisation is not seen as a good thing. In fact, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was not in favour of small states, as he believed they could accentuate the divisiveness in the country. Some of the small states being demanded may not even have enough resources to stand on their own. Also, a smaller state does not always mean a smaller government. In fact, at least in the short and medium term, the cost of administration will increase, for one would be duplicating a lot of the existing systems and resources in the new state. Thus, instead of “administrative convenience”, what one should be looking at is “administrative necessity”. Increasingly, it is also being argued that smaller states are less likely to be able to deal with the ever-present threat of militancy. The examples of Punjab, Assam and the north-east, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh provide some evidence supporting this argument.
However, all these arguments, both in favour of and against the creation of smaller states, do not apply in the case of the proposed state of Gorkhaland, comprising the Darjeeling district and Dooars region of West Bengal. Here, the main issue is identity, not development. If the latter was the issue, the creation of semi-autonomous administrative body called the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills would have settled the issue by now. But that has not been the case.
It may be noted that the Nepalese and Lepchas living in Darjeeling and the adjoining areas have a more distinct culture and history than the Bengalis in rest of the state. Historically, they have been sharing cultural and societal values with Sikkim and Nepal since hundreds of years when there were no nation-states the way we interpret at present and no closed boundaries. In fact, Darjeeling was a part of Sikkim until around 1780, when the Gorkhas of modern day Nepal invaded the latter and captured most parts of it, including Darjeeling and Siliguri. Later in 1816, following the British-Nepal war, Nepal ceded these territories back to Sikkim as per the treaty of Segoulee. But given its strategic location, Darjeeling was taken back by the British from Sikkim in 1835. Since then, it has been administered by the authorities in Kolkata, the colonial capital, the capital of undivided Bengal and the capital of West Bengal.
But that does not mean that the people of Darjeeling and the adjoining areas have considered themselves as part of Bengal; they have fiercely protected their Nepali language and culture (in broad sense of the term). This is clearly evident from their representations for full autonomy to the Morley-Minto reforms panel in 1907, Simon Commission in 1929 and their demand for statehood through popular agitations in 1980s under the leadership of Gurkha National Liberation Front.
The Darjeeling agitation reminds one of the so-called “annexation” of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Crimea has been a part of Russia since 1783 and is overwhelmingly constituted by the Russian-speaking people. In 1954, when the then Soviet Union (USSR) was at its mightiest glory and Ukraine a constituent of it, Moscow, for administrative convenience, transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federation of Socialist Republics (RSFSR) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR). But after the dissolution of the USSR and subsequent emergence of Ukraine as a sovereign country, Crimeans wanted to remain Russians, not to be Ukrainians.
The point thus is that a ruler undertakes territorial adjustments within his overall territory as long as he is powerful and in total command of the situation. But things change after he departs. In a way, the same is the case with Jammu and Ladakh in the present state of Jammu and Kashmir. Historically, Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh have been three distinct regions with separate value systems. It was made one state by the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh in 1846 after the First Anglo-Sikh War as per the Treaty of Amritsar. The East India Company annexed the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, and Gilgit-Baltistan from the Sikhs, and then transferred it to Gulab Singh in return for an indemnity payment of 7,500,000 Nanakshahee Rupees. Obviously, the three regions have their separate needs and aspirations, which are not being fulfilled under the present system that has been totally dominated by the Kashmiri elites after the state acceded to India. The ongoing problem is Jammu and Kashmir cannot be resolved fully as long these basic contradictions remain.
Viewed thus, the Gorkhaland movement is essentially a case for identity. The cause is legitimate and it cannot be subject to a veto by Kolkata. If the central government, then led by the Congress, could create Telengana without the consent of the Assembly and the government of then undivided Andhra Pradesh, there is no reason why a BJP-led central government can create a separate state of Gorkhaland without the approval of the West Bengal government and Assembly. The Indian constitution fully empowers the central government to undertake such a step. Unlike the United States of America, which is “an indestructible union of indestructible states”, India is only an “indestructible union”. (Source & Courtesy: http://www.firstpost.com/india/darjeeling-unrest-gorkhaland-movement-is-a-question-of-identity-not-development-3741997.html)


‘We know the state BJP will never support Gorkhaland’: Darjeeling’s MLA on the statehood demand

‘We know the state BJP will never support Gorkhaland’: Darjeeling’s MLA on the statehood demandShoaib Daniyal , Scroll.in: The hills of West Bengal are in ferment again as the third movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland for Nepali speakers gathers force. The present agitation was set off last fortnight by a West Bengal government decision to make the teaching of Bengali in schools compulsory across the state. Although Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was quick to backtrack on the decision after initial protests and clarify that it would not apply to the hills, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the largest party in Darjeeling, had already kicked off its statehood movement.
Scroll.in spoke to Amar Singh Rai, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha MLA from Darjeeling, about why he thinks Gorkhaland should be carved out from Bengal, and on the reasons he is disappointed both with the Mamata Banerjee government as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre.
Amar Singh Rai, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha MLA from Darjeeling.
Amar Singh Rai
Although the decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools was withdrawn for the hills, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha still went ahead with its protest on June 8. Why do you think Bengali is being imposed on the hills?
Our president [Bimal Gurung] had made it very clear on June 8, that when the [West Bengal] cabinet meeting was being held at Raj Bhawan [in Kolkata], a resolution be adopted and a written statement be given that Bengali would not be compulsory but would be an optional subject. Now, when that was not done, it was taken for granted that what the chief minister said at Mirik [that Bengali will not be compulsory in the hills] had no relevance. The people were not happy with this. This is why the issue escalated. Had a written statement been given then I do not think violence would have erupted on June 8.

Before this decision, do you think there are any other examples of what you think is Bengali cultural imposition?
When I was a student, Bengali was always an optional subject and that is the situation even today. When the GJM [Gorkha Janmukti Morcha] MLAs met the West Bengal Speaker, our main point was, “maintain the status quo”. If it is optional, let it be optional. Why go ahead and say that the third language has to be Bengali? That irritated and aggravated the whole situation.

And you know, there has always been Bengal’s hegemony over the hills. If you look at history, it has always been there. So after this incident, we said, this far but no further. We are not going to take it anymore.
Till now, the Bharatiya Janata Party, your ally and ruling party at the Centre, has not come out in support of Gorkhaland. Given that the Centre has the power to create new states, would you be expecting the BJP to act?
We know that the state unit of the BJP will never support a demand for Gorkhaland. This is because the BJP has today become a major factor in West Bengal politics while earlier it was non-existent. The BJP knows that if it supports a separate state of Gorkhaland, it will become a non-entity in Bengal,

But then, we have always believed in the Centre. We have trusted the Centre under the National Democratic Alliance because it believed in the creation of smaller states. When the National Democratic Alliance was in power [1998-’04], it created three states. With that hope we have always thought the BJP would support our cause. That is why since the time of Jaswant Singh [former Darjeeling MP] and now SS Ahluwalia [current Darjeeling MP], we supported the BJP, with this hope, trust and faith that they would definitely look into our demand of creating a separate state. Because the BJP believes in smaller states and it believes that there is no harm in a federal system if there are more states or units.
You mentioned your MP, SS Ahluwalia. Are you disappointed that he is not here in Darjeeling with you?
Yes, we are disappointed. Him being here would have given us a morale boost. But then he was leading a delegation to a foreign state. But he is definitely busy with the issue of Gorkhaland and what is happening in Darjeeling. He is busy over there [New Delhi] and is doing whatever he can for our cause. [The reason]...I ask him to be here is because as the people’s representative, the people question us: where is our MP? What answer do I give as an MLA? So because of that, we were disappointed. But then I suppose we cannot deny the fact that he is doing something for our cause at the Centre also.

Why is the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ruling out talks with the West Bengal government? If not via talks, how do you propose a way ahead?
Yes, we have made it clear that there will be no talks. That is why we decided to not attend Thursday’s all-party meeting. In this 110-year-old demand [for Gorkhaland], where we have faltered all along is that we have not been assertive enough. Even though the ’80s movement under Mr Subhash Ghising was so strong, so powerful, ultimately, we sidelined the demand and accepted the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

Now when Bimal Gurung came into prominence in 2007, he raised the demand for Gorkhaland once again. We had 13 tri-party meetings with the then United Progressive Alliance government. And we were given to understand that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration would be some sort of an interim arrangement. That the Centre would seriously look into our demand for a separate state. So on that plea, we accepted to go ahead and tried to run the GTA [Gorkhaland Territorial Administration]. But that did not happen. I think the GTA has been a total failure. Not because the people here could not run it, but because of state interference. West Bengal did not seriously adhere to the letter and spirit of the GTA Act. They did not transfer all the 59 subjects [such as the transfer of control of key departments such as land and revenue to the GTA, as laid out in the memorandum of understanding signed during the tripartite talks]. The main subjects were not transferred. Even tea gardens has not been transferred.
The last two movements for Gorkhaland ended after devolution of power to bodies such as the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Would this movement also be satisfied with this sort of devolution? Or is it Gorkhaland or nothing?
Yes, this time it is Gorkhaland or nothing. We have realised a hill administration is never going to work. At the end of the day, the state is running this area via the District Magistrate and the police administration. At the same time, you have the GTA [Gorkhaland Territorial Administration]. So for the people, it is very confusing. Do they owe the allegiance to GTA or to the state administration representatives like the DM [District Magistrate] or the police? It is very confusing. That is why it has to be clear-cut. I do not think this dual system will ever work.
Do you think your bandh is causing a disruption in the hill economy? After two major movements for Gorkhaland, will this result in fatigue amongst the population?
Not at all – we are getting a stronger response from the people. Now the people have realised that it is a question of do or die. We are not going to settle for anything less than Gorkhaland. The people have realised this. They feel that their identity can be protected only if they have their own state. Because even till now, we are still being called foreigners, outsiders and immigrants. On social media, people say, “these people are from Nepal, they should be thrown out. Let them go to Nepal and ask for their own state there. Why have they come to Bengal?” So this has really hurt the sentiments of the people.

We are being called insurgents, extremists and terrorists by the chief minister. We are the ones who guard the borders, we are the ones who combat the terrorists and the extremists – calling us terrorists is too much. People are realising all this. The West Bengal government has always followed this policy of divide and rule. They have created so many boards [for ethnic minorities in the hills such as the indigenous Lepchas]. Even the board people have realised the game plan of the Trinamool Congress. So now, many of them are resigning. Ultimately, the Trinamool will be totally wiped out from hills.
The Trinamool Congress claims that your current movement was inspired by its foray into the hills rather than a principled demand for Gorkhaland. How would you respond?
No, no. So many board members have now resigned. Today, it has become a people’s movement. Under these circumstances, these boards cannot exist.

Is this a weakness in the Gorkha movement? The fact that these boards and divisions exists?
The government has been misinformed by local leaders and even the intelligence agencies. Just because the Trinamool vote share has increased, and it won the municipality in Mirik, they thought they had made inroads into the hills. That was the main intention of the Trinamool Congress. But they should realise that the reason they have made inroads is not because the people support the Trinamool, it is because of the fact that they got the votes for the different boards. That is the reason. In Darjeeling, if you want to count the number of Trinamool supporters, you can count them on your fingers. They have no presence here. Their vote share increased because the boards were directed to cast their votes in favour of the Trinamool. (This article was published on June 24, 2017) (Source & Courtesy: https://scroll.in/article/841527/we-know-the-state-bjp-will-never-support-gorkhaland-darjeelings-mla-on-the-statehood-demand

In Darjeeling Protest, Many See Revival Of 1980s Uprising

 | NDTV | June 25, 2017, DARJEELING:  For most parts of the day, an eerie silence grips the town of Darjeeling. The whistling of steam engines, a familiar sound in the hilly town, is missing. On the street, a game of cricket or football is interrupted by the occasional police or press vehicle passing by. 

The only time there's any activity is when protests are taking place. Men and women of all ages march through the town in pro-Gorkhaland rallies through the day and hold candlelight vigils in the evening. They all have but one demand - a separate state of Gorkhaland.

"This is the voice of the hills. This is a constitutional agitation," says Jay Chhetri, a protester to NDTV. When asked if the agitation is reminiscent of the 1980s, he replies with a loud 'Yes'. 

In fact, many say that the agitation of 2017 reminds them of the pro-Gorkhaland rallies of the 1980s. The demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland started in the 1980s under the leadership of Subhash Ghising, a leader of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. 

"I saw the movement under Subhas Ghising. I could feel the pulse; everyone wanted Gorkhaland," says Father Kinley Tsering, a Jesuit priest and educator who has spent most of his time in the hills.

"We lost one generation of students in the 1980s. The same story is going to repeat once again. My plea to (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is to find a solution acceptable to everyone," the priest adds.

Today, students and professionals have taken the Gorkhaland agitation to different parts of the country and beyond the control of the existing leadership of the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. 

"Maybe it was limited in the 1980s due to the lack of communication and internet. I am seeing my students in Sydney, US and even Mumbai and Bangalore coming together to demand Gorkhaland," says Father Tsering.

He also adds that the movement is not about territory but, rather, the feeling of group of people asking for recognition and identity.

For the GJM, it seems to be the last test for they'll lose the local support if they fail.

"This time's agitation is more rigorous than the 1980s. By any means, this time we shall succeed," says GJM supporter Tilakchand Roka. 

All eyes in Darjeeling are, now, on Delhi. So far, there has been no positive feedback to the demand of a separate state from the Centre despite BJP's SS Ahluwalia being a Lok Sabha member from Darjeeling. 

"Mamata Banerjee is responsible for this mess. But they have to sort it out through talks," says senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya. 

12-hour hill window for Id - Morcha relaxes strike but residents say shopping plans already hit

TT, Darjeeling, June 25: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will provide a 12-hour relaxation from 6am in its indefinite strike for the movement of vehicles during Id tomorrow, but residents said the agitation had already affected their shopping plans.
The hill party, however, clarified that the relaxation would apply only to those vehicles ferrying Muslims to the mosque for prayers or to visit relatives.
"Keeping in mind the Id celebrations tomorrow, we have decided to provide a relaxation on movement of vehicles for members of the Muslim community to visit the mosque or their relatives. We request them to put up proper stickers on the vehicles," Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said.
The is the second relaxation provided by the Morcha in the indefinite strike that entered its 11th day today. The party had last week provided a 12-hour window for boarders of various schools to leave the hills.
"The relaxation is only for members of the Muslim community. Apart from this relaxation, everything else will remain closed as usual," said Morcha leader Norbu G. Lama.
The party has also decided not to bring out any rally across the hills tomorrow. There are approximately 20,000 Muslims in the hills, an official said.
Residents today said the strike had already affected their plans for shopping and making other arrangements.
"We welcome the decision, but it will not be of much help. We have not been able to do much shopping for the festival. We are supporting the statehood demand and prepared for low-key celebrations tomorrow," a hill resident said.
"After prayers, we usually move around in the neighbourhood, where we are offered sewai. This time, most of us have not been able to buy sewai as the strike was called suddenly. Even those who get donations would not be able to buy much, be it sewai or new clothes," the hill resident said.
During Id, pulao and meat are usually distributed.
"But getting these items would be a problem. At most, we can try and distribute sewai to ensure at least one important dish is served, even in small quantity," he added.

Gurung hint on meeting

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 25: Gorkha Janmukti chief Bimal Gurung today said he "might attend" a meeting of all hill-based parties on June 29, indicating that he was not willing to let go off the reins of the statehood agitation.
"I might attend the all-party meeting on June 29. We are finalising the venue," Gurung told The Telegraph at the Morcha office in Patlebas today.
Gurung had skipped both the meetings of hill parties and apolitical organisations convened on June 13 and 20.
Sources said the June 29 meeting might be held somewhere near Patlebas, the nerve centre of the Morcha. The venue of the earlier two meetings had been Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, at the centre of the town.
The last meeting had been attended by 14 political and apolitical organisations that had taken a decision to form a pan-India committee to spearhead the statehood agitation. Sources said the committee was likely to be constituted at the June 29 meeting.
"The course of the agitation is likely to be charted out during the June 29 session. It seems Gurung wants to be present at the meeting to ensure no decision taken there is contrary to how he has been planning to give shape to the movement. Gurung would like to be in the know of all decisions," an observer said.
The Morcha chief clarified that he wasn't willing to go slow on the agitation.
"The agitation is at such a point that there cannot be parleys on any issue other than Gorkhaland. There can be talks only on the single agenda of statehood, whether with the Bengal government or the Centre. All political parties must be united on this," Gurung said.
Gurung had on Thursday deferred an all-party meeting scheduled for June 24, saying the "all party-chapter is now closed".
The Morcha chief did a U-turn the next day and announced the date of the meeting, June 29. He had said he had been misinterpreted by the media and had only meant that the all-party meeting with regard to GTA was closed.
Gurung's comments had come against perceptions that people in the hills were in favour of a joint movement for Gorkhaland and the Morcha chief's earlier remarks had saddened them.
The rethink on involving all hill-based parties had come hours after GNLF chief Mann Ghisingh had led a procession in Chowk Bazaar for the first time after taking over as the president of the party about two years ago. Ghisingh had stressed that the present movement was of the people and not confined to any single party.

Siliguri residents hit streets against carve-up

BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, June 25: Over 5,000 people from Siliguri and adjoining areas hit the streets today to protest the demand for a Gorkhaland state, the first such apolitical procession on the issue in recent memory.
Holding aloft placards and banners bearing messages like "Bengal can never be divided" and "we want peace in the hills", the rallyists walked through the heart of Siliguri for about an hour before being stopped by police.
While returning, some of those who had participated in the procession allegedly smashed the windscreens of at least three cars.
Sources said the call for today's apolitical rally had been given a couple of weeks ago on social media.
"Over the past few days, I have seen several posts on social media asking people to come out on the streets against the demand for Gorkhaland and attempts to divide Bengal. As a Siliguri resident, I, too, felt the urge to join the rally and protest against the statehood demand. We want Bengal to remain undivided," said Avik Chakraborty, a civil engineer who walked along with many of his friends.
Although many rallies have been taken out against the demand for Gorkhaland since Bimal Gurung formed the Gorkha Janmukti Morha in 2007, they were essentially political in nature. The Trinamul Congress took out a rally in Mirik recently over the same issue.
"Today's rally was, however, different in nature. It was organised by local residents who had initiated a campaign on social media against division of Bengal. People of different age groups and economic background took part in the march today," said Rohit Prasad, a trader.
The rallyists cut across the heart of Siliguri, shouting slogans not only against the statehood demand but also against Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling for his letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh supporting Gorkhaland.
As soon as the procession reached Airview More, one of the major points in the town, the police put up a barricade, leading to a scuffle.
The police managed to restrict the procession to Airview More. The march led to hour-long traffic snarls in several areas.
"We walked the streets today to send a clear message that Darjeeling is an integral part of Bengal and it cannot be separated from the state under any situation," said one of the rallyists, waving the national flag.
Stopped at Airview More, the marchers burnt effigies of Morcha chief Bimal Gurung and Chamling.
Around 12.30pm, the rally participants started to disperse. It was then that the windscreens of three cars were smashed allegedly by a section of the rallyists.
"When the processionists were returning from Airview More, some among them threw stones at the vehicles that were parked along the way. We controlled the situation," said C. S. Lepcha, the commissioner of Siliguri Metropolitan Police.
Told about the rally against the Gorkhaland demand, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "It is a political demand. There should not be any attempt to make it a community-based issue. We hope necessary intervention would be made to prevent any breach of peace in Siliguri and in the region as a whole."

Sikkim bus trips erratic

TT, Siliguri, June 25: Bus services from the Sikkim Nationalised Transport terminus here remained erratic today as the authorities suspended several trips because of simmering "discontentment" in Siliguri over the ongoing Gorkhaland movement .
The SNT was supposed to operate over 20 buses from the Siliguri terminus to Sikkim today. However, no service was conducted till 5pm when six buses left with police escort.
"We have noticed a discontentment brewing in the town for some reason or the other. As our buses need to travel around 5km to move out of Siliguri, we were worried over the security of our passengers. So, we requested local police for escort," an SNT official posted in Siliguri said.
In the afternoon, over 5,000 Siliguri residents took out a march here to protest the demand for the separate state. Its not clear if the SNT has suspended the trips particularly because of the procession.
On Friday, three simultaneous demonstrations by taxi drivers, youths and tour operators at the SNT terminus hampered bus services for more than three hours, leaving over 1,000 passengers stranded.
The drivers of light vehicles having Bengal number plates held the protest, alleging that they were being attacked by Gorkhaland supporters on NH10, the lone highway to Sikkim. The youths demonstrated to protest Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling's open support for Gorkhaland.
A notice put up by the SNT officials at the bus terminus asking tourists to stay away from Sikkim invited the wrath of the tour operators.
The demonstration was lifted around 3pm after SNT officials promised that the Sikkim government would try for free movement of all vehicles along NH10.
The officials didn't make any promise on the notice.
Today, seven buses from Sikkim arrived in Siliguri in the morning. However, no service was conducted till the evening.
Some SNT buses, sources said, dropped passengers at Salugara, located on the outskirts of Siliguri on NH31, and didn't move to the terminus off Hill Cart Road. The buses headed back to Sikkim with some passengers from Salugara.
Passengers, including students who study at educational institutions in Sikkim, were left stranded because of the erratic trips.
"I will have exams in a couple of days. I reached Siliguri this morning and found that no buses were available for Gangtok. Share cabs are not available either," Mohan Saraf, a student studying at a management institute in Sikkim, said.
Finally, around 5pm, police vehicles reached the terminus to escort six buses till Salugara.
"Six buses left with police escort around 5.15pm. Five will head for Gangtok, while one is bound for Namchi," H.L. Lamichaney, the additional general manager (operations) of the SNT, posted in Siliguri, said.<

25 Jun 2017

GJM relaxes indefinite strike by 12 hours on eve of Eid

TOI, Jun 25, 2017, DARJEELING: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Sunday gave a 12 hour relaxation of its indefinite strike in Darjeeling, for the Muslim community on the eve of Eid. 
(KalimNews: Relaxation is only for Muslim community to allow them to use transport facility for visiting their family members and mosques, however the community has informed that they will celebrate Eid in a low key manner. )
On Friday, GJM chief Bimal Gurung resigned from the post of chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). He demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) inquiry into the police firing on the GJM supporters. This came after 43 members of the GJM resigned from the GTA. 
Gurung said, "Indefinite strike to continue. All-party meeting postponed to June 29. We will burn GTA agreement on June 27." 
The GJM has offered a 12-hour "window" to the schools in the Darjeeling hills to evacuate their students safely to Siliguri and Rongpo. 
An indefinite bandh was called in the hills by GJM on June 15. With supplies running out and the vacations to start shortly, the boarding schools of Darjeeling are facing a harrowing time due to the shutdown. 
The indefinite shutdown has also hit hard the famed tea industry with the premium quality 'second flush' tea leaves going waste causing heavy losses to the garden owners and putting at stake the livelihood of more than two lakh tea workers. 
Darjeeling is home to 87 tea gardens and the ongoing shutdown has pushed them to the brink. The tea garden owners feel that they will be losing 45 per cent of their yearly revenue.

'Come out openly on the streets for Gorkhaland'

MP | 24 Jun 2017 | Darjeeling: With the GTA chapter closed, GJM Chief Bimal Gurung has given a call to the front rung Morcha leaders to join in the agitation on the streets.
With the ongoing unrest in the Hills and the police crackdown, most of the front rung GJM leaders including Gurung have remained inconspicuous. Gurung in a video release, addressing the GJM leadership, stated: "GTA chapter is now closed. Come out openly on the streets for Gorkhaland."
With all pro-Gorkha forces including the GJM launching a joint movement, Gurung expressed doubts on the credibility of certain parties. "We might even be betrayed. We could be betrayed by some political outfits," stated Gurung.
Interestingly, Gurung on Thursday had stated that the all party movement is a closed chapter. However, with public pressure mounting, Gurung retracted and called for an all party meeting on July 29.
Gurung even stated that he is willing to sit with the state government or the Union government but it would have to be on the one point agenda of Gorkhaland.
Our sons died for Gorkhaland. We will also die some day. I have come out. Either my body will return or I will return with Gorkhaland," stated Gurung.
Gurung stated that his team is in Delhi. "However, I am here. I will join the masses for Gorkhaland," added Gurung. The day saw rallies from all over the town and adjacent areas converging at the Chowk Bazaar in support of Gorkhaland. In the evening, the civil society took out a candle light rally in support of Gorkhaland.
Meanwhile, Joyoshi Das Gupta, DM, Darjeeling, issued an order stating that all government officials cannot leave station till July 5 without permission from the DM office. The directive is applicable for holidays too.
In yet another twist, the TMC Municipal Councillors of Kalimpong and Kurseong have joined the GJM. Ashiq Ansari of ward number 12 and Bhim Agrawal of ward number 9 of Kalimpong along with Pemba Tamang of ward 12 and Santosh Pariyar of ward 15 of Kurseong have joined the Morcha.
(Source & Courtesy: http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/kolkata-249034 )


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