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2 Jun 2017

Trinamul leader's 'optional' suggestion

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 1: A hill Trinamul leader today said "we will not allow" Bengali "to be imposed forcibly" on students in the region, but clarified that the state government was yet to issue any notification on making the language compulsory in schools.
"If the hill people do not want to learn the language, we will not allow it to be imposed forcibly," said Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul's unit in the hills.
"I am also a son of the hills. We think this (learning of Bengali) should be made optional even though soon after one crosses Siliguri, he has to have an understanding of the Bengali language. It is important for us to be educated but there is a hill sentiment," he added.
"If they say they do not want to study the language, we have nothing to do..."
Political observers said Mukhia's remarks - the first such comments by any ruling party leader - mirrored the sentiment of the hill people and could force the government to rethink on the announcement.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had yesterday suggested there was no harm in Nepali-speaking people studying Bengali in schools
Mukhia today said the government was yet to issue any order regarding making the language compulsory in schools and accused the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of spreading rumours.
"It was only yesterday that I spoke to education minister Partha Chatterjee on the issue. I requested him to issue a media statement. The hill people should understand that a government order is yet to be issued in this regard. The Morcha is only playing with the sentiments of the hill people," Mukhia said.

EOI, DARJEELING , 1 Jun 2017: With the opposition to implementing Bengali being spearheaded by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gaining momentum, the TMC (hills) today said it had spoken to party high commands in Kolkata to not make it mandatory in the hill schools.
The hill TMC leaders finding themselves in an awkward situation given the sentiments attached with the issue organized a public meeting in Darjeeling town today to clear the air. ““Yesterday, I spoke with Partha Chatterjee, the state education minister to know more about the issue and also apprise him about our stand. I told him that the state government should allow the present system under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to continue. Bengali as an option is okay but we will not accept if it is made compulsory,” asserted Rajen Mukhia, the hill TMC president, today.
The local TMC leaders did not find anything amiss to have Bengali as an optional language in the hill schools saying it was important to learn new languages. “We (TMC hill leaders) are also sons of the so and Gorkhas. Knowing Bengali will stand us in good stead as the language is most spoken in the plains where we often visit. However, we too will not accept if Bengali is made compulsory on us,” reiterated Mukhia.
Schools and colleges remained closed today in the hills. The GJM has asked educational institutions to close for two days on June 1 and 2, in protest against the alleged imposition of Bengali in the region’s schools.
Mukhia though alleged GJM was politicizing the issue by spreading false rumours. “GJM is playing with the sentiments of the people for political gains. No government orders or circulars have been issued so far. I want to tell the heads of schools here that the rumours are false. We will take up the matter with chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Mirik on June 5,” the hill TMC president said.
When asked to comment on the GJM rallies from June 4 to 8 during the Bengal CM’s visit to the region, the hill TMC president said, “We have come to know that they (GJM) will show black flags to the chief minister. We want to say here that she (Banerjee) besides being the state’s CM is also our leader. If she is shown black flags than we too will reciprocate it on their party president (Bimal Gurung ) during his programs,” Mukhia retorted. The Gorkha Janmukti Vidhyarthi Morcha (GJVM) termed today’s closure of educational institutions, spontaneous and thanked the heads of schools for extending support to the protest against the state government.
“All the educational institutions of the hills remained closed today in protest. We want to thank the heads of schools, teachers and students and the parents for supporting the cause. We hope to see similar situation on Friday. We will not allow imposition of Bengali language in the hills,” said Vaskar Rai, the GJVM vice president.
Although, schools and colleges remained closed, normal life and vehicular movement and the tourism sector however were not affected.

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