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4 Jul 2017

Morcha scarves for staff on duty

A Morcha supporter offers a scarf to a government employee. (Passang Yolmo)
TT, Calcutta, July 3: Woman supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha garlanded government employees who came to attend office with khadas (Tibetan scarves) here today to protest their defiance of the call for the shutdown.
The employees who were garlanded "for not wanting Gorkhaland" said they were in a predicament because the state government would take stern measures if they didn't report for duty.
Six groups - each consisting of over five Nari Morcha supporters dressed in traditional attire - stationed themselves at different spots leading to the Darjeeling district magistrate's office with khadas in hand this morning. Joyoshi Das Gupta, the Darjeeling district magistrate, was not stopped but she later went up to the picketers and asked if she, too, could be garlanded like the other employees.
The picketers offered her a khada immediately.
Hearing about the Morcha's new way of protest, many employees took alternative routes to enter the office but all were not lucky.
An employee who was on his way to the district magistrate's office was stopped and garlanded. "Thank you for attending office. It seems you do not need Gorkhaland. When everyone is out on the streets, you can at least contribute by just staying at home. We can do nothing but offer you a khada," a picketer told the employee.
The red-faced man did not utter a single word and went to the work place hurriedly.
A little distance away, another group of Nari Morcha members identified another employee and called him out. "He is also an employee," said someone from the group. The employee answered that he was there for a different reason and swiftly climbed uphill through Kutchery Road to disappear.
He later said: "It was a very embarrassing moment to be identified and to be called by a group of women. Everyone in the hills supports the Gorkhaland demand but we have our own compulsions to attend work. It is unfortunate that we are being branded as people who do not want Gorkhaland."
A government officer said the employees were ready to forgo salaries.
"That is not an issue for us but what if we lose our job. We will be nowhere. Only recently, six employees were transferred from Darjeeling to the plains. There is also a threat of a break in our services," he said.
In the wake of the Morcha's call for the general strike in the hills, the state finance department issued an order, saying government employees would not only lose their salaries but also face the possibility of break in services if they stayed away from offices.
"We appeal to all to understand the predicament we are facing. Branding us anti-Gorkhaland makes us feel sad. Even though we have to attend work, everyone should understand that nothing much is moving in offices as no ordinary people are coming for any job," said the officer.
At least one employee said he was in such a fix that he was staying in a Darjeeling hotel as he was unsure of availability of transport from Kurseong on an everyday basis.
DM Das Gupta said the employees were being threatened every day. "I know our employees were garlanded today. When I heard about it, I went to the road around 10.20am and spoke with them (picketers) and asked them if I too could be offered a khada like the others. This is the khada I received," she said showing it in her office.
The official said she understood the problem her employees were facing. "I have told them that if they feel threatened, they could stay at home. But then, I cannot ignore the finance department order," she added.
Binita Roka, the spokesman for the Morcha, today said: "We would not like to comment as the media have their own narratives."
( Source & Courtesy: https://www.telegraphindia.com/1170704/jsp/siliguri/story_159990.jsp )

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