Joint Press Release on ‘Gorkhaland’ Movement

August 31, 2013

Joint press release by Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR-Siliguri), Bondimukti Committee (BMC-Siliguri), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Students Youth Against Social Injustice (SYASI-North Bengal University), Krantikari Naujawan Sabha (KNS), Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) and others.

It is evident that in recent days, majority of democratic movement have been under state repression while people’s aspiration has always been compromised with. There is a commonality in the attitude of both the central and state government in dealing with people’s demand; be it the movements in Singur, Nandigram, Posco, Kalinganagar, Lalgarh, Nonadanga or the identity movement in the hills.

Though the present ruling party, TMC came into power exploiting people’s grievances against the CPM led Left Front’s undemocratic conducts and ostensibly promised to be more democratic, within two years of its governance it has fitted itself in the shoe left by its predecessors and even come up with more autocratic ways. It has even come up with more autocratic ways. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ways have already been put under question as the administration has been trying to curb democratic space by tagging every voice of protests as ‘Maoist’.

Demand for separate statehood comes off people’s democratic aspiration and altogether is a political issue. However, once again we witness the same repressive attitude of the state government while dealing with the ‘Gorkhaland’ demand as the state government is deliberately trying to create unrest in the hills and adjacent areas by issuing ’72 hours ultimatum’ and by banning all of the local channels without issuing any legal notifications few days earlier. 16 company central paramilitary forces company personnel’s boots romping every nook and corner of in the hills of Darjeeling to leave behind a bruised democracy while 823 people have been arrested for being connected with the movement in last 15 days.

Huge deployment of central paramilitary forces has aggravated the situation as the forces are entering into local houses in Darjeeling and adjacent areas in garb of ‘search for weapons’. Moreover, the cases on which the arrests are being made were to be withdrawn according to the GTA agreement; the state government which itself formed and signed the GTA agreement is not violating its own norms.

These repressive measures are only prone to create unrest in the hills. Repression can never be a method to deal with a democratic demand and the democratic aspirations of the people of Darjeeling should be addressed democratically.

We have witnessed bitter communal clashes in Siliguri and Dooars belt during the regime of previous state government led by the Left Front in whose tenure communal antagonism between different communities in the region spread like conflagration.

Nothing was done to harness communal harmony then and hence it is a grave concern as we haven’t seen any different approach from the present government too. It is not also a distant memory when many people died in the hills during the GNLF movement which resulted in a complete dismantling of democratic space in the hills.

Improper and ruthless handling of people’s aspiration can lead to dismantling of democratic mechanism and can create communal disharmony leading to complete destruction of peace in this region. While the state is constantly trying to curb the democratic space and resorting to autocratic measures, we feel it is a high time to come together and raise voice to preserve harmony and democracy.

Demands:-

* Immediate withdrawal of CRPF and other paramilitary armed forces from the hills.
* Address the political issue of ‘Gorkhaland’ in a political way instead of exerting force and repression as the demand for the right to self determination is a democratic one.
* Release all the political prisoners arrested for being connected with the movement.
* Stop promoting communal propaganda and take necessary actions to bar all the efforts to instigate antagonism between different communities.
* Democracy should be restores in the Hills immediately.
* Immediate reinstatment of local cable channels.