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2 Jun 2017

Police case in hills after meet on Bengali - FIR against Morcha leaders and teachers

A Morcha worker places a black flag over a Trinamul banner in
Ghoom on Thursday
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 1: Darjeeling police have started a suo motu case against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, literary figures and heads of educational institutions who had attended a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the government's decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools.
Apart from Morcha leaders Bimal Gurung, Roshan Giri and Binay Tamang, cases were drawn up against Jiwan Namdung and Prem Pradhan, former presidents of the Nepali Sahitya Akademi, and Rev. Joy Halder, the rector of St Paul's School.
The police have also filed a case against Pemba Bomjan, the president of Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan, the oldest social organisation in the town.
The Morcha had called a meeting on May 30 where literary figures, academicians, college professors, teachers and people from different walks of life discussed the state's plan of a three-language policy.
During the meeting, Gurung had announced a two-day closure of educational institutions in the hills today and tomorrow and rallies with black flags during the chief minister's visit next week to protest the government's decision.
Classes were suspended in a majority of the schools in the hills today as the students had not turned up.
Most of the speakers at the May 30 meeting had said that while they were not against any particular language, imposing one on students of a region was not acceptable and they should be given the option to choose.
The FIR filed by Saumyajit Roy, the inspector in charge of Darjeeling Sadar, states: "It is to be noted here that the above accused persons are purposefully trying to create an issue unnecessarily with a motive of provocation to ignite feeling of hatred and enmity between different castes of people on the basis of regionalism and trying to distort the government policies...."
"It is also to be noticed here that no such notification in view of compulsion of Bengali language to the education system of the hills has been imposed till date."
The accused have been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 155A(b) (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (statement conducting to public mischief) and 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code.
Told about the police case, St Paul's rector Rev Halder said: "I am hearing it from you. I am quite taken aback. Whatever I said in my speech was based on my personal experience about learning different languages. At the end of my speech, I had also said that since we are all governed by CISCE, we need to await for a notification on this matter."
The chief minister had yesterday clarified that CBSE and ICSE schools in Bengal would have to teach Bengali as one of three languages up to Class X but students need not write the board exam in the third language
In the hills, most students have English as their first language and Nepali as the second. The students mostly opt for Hindi as the third language, which they will have to drop for Bengali if it is made compulsory.
Morcha leader Tamang said: "It seems that we cannot even speak or voice our grievances now. Where is the freedom of speech? We have not spoken against any language, we are merely saying that you should not impose a language and make it mandatory."

EOI, DARJEELING, 1 Jun 2017: The Darjeeling sadar police have started a sou-moto case against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung and heads of schools and social organization for conspiring and promoting enmity and communal disharmony.
On May 30, Gurung had held an indoor meeting (evaluation meet) with heads of schools (ICSE, CBSE and government run) and various social organizations of Darjeeling to discuss the state government’s alleged decision to implement compulsory Bengali language in the hills.
During the meeting, the GJM president had announced closing schools and colleges of the hills for two days on June 1 and 2, as a mark of protest.
Cases under sections 120B, 153A (b), 505 and 34 have been initiated against Gurung and Roshan Giri, the GJM general secretary, Binay Tamang, GJM assistant general secretary, Ramesh Allay, the GTA deputy chief executive, Saroj Thapa, the GTA advisor and P.Arjun, a study forum member.
Police have also slapped cases against Joy Haldar, rector of St. Paul’s school, Peter Lingdamu, principal of St. Robert’s Higher Secondary school, Prem Pradhan and Jiwan Namdung both members of Nepali Sahitya Academy, Darjeeling and Pemba Bomzan, president of Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammellan among the twelve others.
Sources in the know said the cases started, related to spreading of communal disharmony and ill feelings. “Based on the language issue there has neither been a notification from the government nor a clarification was sought by any people. Political parties can do their activities. But government and even private schools instead of seeking clarification attended a political meeting and also resolved to close schools for two days. This means they (schools) are working as political functionaries,” he said.
Police also said that the West Bengal government on the observation of a High Court ruling in 2011 has issued a notification prohibiting educational institutions, teachers or students from participating in political rallies or activities.
A senior GJM leader refused to come on record but said, “Now we cannot even talk”.
The St. Paul’s school rector said he was taken aback by the FIR and case that has been initiated by police. “I really don’t know and am quite taken aback by the whole thing. Whatever I said on that day (May 30) was from my personal experience that learning different languages was good. I also said that since our school is governed by ICSE we had to await for a notification on the matter,” Haldar said.
Others named in the police FIR could not be contacted for their comments.
Besides closure of educational institutions for two days, GJM will also organize protest rallies from June 4 to 8 from Ghoom to Darjeeling town, which will coincide with chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the hills. In fact, the GJM president has said that he would lead the rallies on all four days wearing black arm-bands and inhibiting black flags.

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