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THE YEAR 1955 AND DARJEELING



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THE YEAR 1955 AND DARJEELING
The year 1955 has left important political marks in the history of Darjeeling in independent India. In this year, the political parties and its leaders of Darjeeling could not withstand the political, diplomatic and administrative onslaught of the government of Dr. B.C. Roy. The people had become like a wounded tiger, on being hurt their emotions. The discontentment was rumbling and the situation was becoming extremely twitchy. Thus, a vulnerable situation was being built. The vulnerability was compounded by state of affairs in the the tea gardens. The Plantation Labour Act was framed and approved in 1951 for looking after the safeguard of workers of Tea Gardens, but the provisions contained in it were partly implemented only from the April 1954. Despite the independence of India, the management of the tea gardens was in the habit of running the garden according to their whims. The managements of the Tea Gardens, from inception to the leaving of the British, were regarded as the absolute master. During the British days "isolation from the mainland especially the urban towns such as Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri enabled the planters to barricade the plantation. To maintain this even a para military force known as North Bengal Mounted Rifles [Sarkar and Lama: 1986:19] was kept in the plantation. By doing so, the workers were barricaded within the jurisdiction of the plantation. There were clear cut instructions to the top ranking managerial cadres, not to mix up with the workers, except in the working hours of the industry. This could be possible due to the colonial policy of the British Government which adopted a position which would favour the plantation owners only." {K. Sharma}. But the dawn of independence and the legislation of the Plantation Labour Act had done very little for the workers of Tea Gardens of Darjeeling. Hence the Shramik Sangh, a Trade Union wing of All India Gorkha League, and Mazdoor Union of the Communist Party of India, jointly submitted a charter of Demand on 8th May, 1955 to the owners of tea gardens and the Government. The major demands contained in the charter of Demands were the wages for the workers of Darjeeling Tea Gardens at par with Dooars Tea Garden be Workers, Bonus on the basis of profit, amendment in the provision of the Standing Order, abolition of the order of eviction of the workers on flimsy pretext at the whims of the managements etc. The management and the government paid no heed to the joint demand put forward by the two unions. And on being aware of the attitude of the management and the government, the two unions decided in a joint meeting held in Gorkha Dukha Nivarak Sammelan {GDNS} on 9th June, 1955 to observe General Strike from 22nd June, 1955 in the Tea Gardens of Darjeeling. After the announcement of the general strike the Assistant Labour Commissioner held meetings on 15th and 17th June, 1955 with the representatives of the Trade Unions but the meetings failed to bear fruit and the two unions were forced to stick to the gun of the strike scheduled to begin from 22nd June, 1955. Arrest Warrant was issuued on 20th June 1955 against the leaders of the unions that had called the strike. "The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) which is the strongest umbrella organisation of today were not in existence during that time in Darjeeling. The leaders Monoranjan Roy, the District Secretary of Mazdoor Union; Ananda Pathak and the Vice-President of Shramik Sangh, L.B. Lama were arrested. Ratanlall Brahmin and Deoprakash Rai had gone underground along with other leaders. The strike took place as scheduled but on 25th June, 1955 at 3 P.M. the police opened fire on the peaceful procession at Margaret's Hope Tea Garden. In the police firing Amrita Kamini 18 years, Moulisova Raini, 23 years who was pregnant, Kancha Sunuwar 22 years, Padambahadur Kami 25 years, Kalay Limbo 14 years, Jitman Tamang alias Majhi became martyrs in the historic movement of tea gardens of Darjeeling. On the day of the cremation of the six bodies on 27th June, 1955 in Darjeeling, the administration had clamped Cr. P.C. SECTION 144 but defying the prohibition and restriction, there was an assemblage of thirty thousand people in the funeral procession" {R.B}. The gathering of such a large number of people was the show of solidarity and unity of the people of Darjeeling against the apathetic attitude of the government and the management towards the tea gardens workers. The brutal killing of six people at a time by the police was an event of the first of its kind in Independent India as well as in the annals of working class movement. For, in spite of torture, exploitation, suppression and deprivation even during the British period, no such horrendous and condemnable act had taken place in the Tea Gardens of Darjeeling. The event had erupted as a neo-revolution in the history of workers movement in Independent India, as it had the support of the entire people of Darjeeling. Prior to the event, the Nepali Speaking Gorkhas were considered as mercenaries only, used by the British for suppressing the peoples' movement, but the Strike of 1955 and the involvement and participation of the people from all walks of life clearly washed away the stigma of mercenaries fighting for the cause of others only, as the movement was a fight for their own cause and against exploitation and deprivation of the workers of tea gardens. As on being hit by bullets on their chests they had remained undaunted. The Government and the management was ultimately compelled to succumb before the unity and solidarity of the people for the first time in the one hundred years of the history of tea plantation in Darjeeling. The warrants of arrest issued against the leaders of the callers of the strike were withdrawn and the arrested leaders were also released that facilitated a meeting on 28th June, 1955 for negotiation which followed the consideration of most of the demands. Thus in independent India for the first time the owners, forces, bullets and the government that supposedly shielded exploiters were defeated by the workers of the Tea Gardens of Darjeeling on June, 1955 in the Kurukchetra at Margaret's Hope. If the event had occured elsewhere in the plains, several books and write-ups would have come immortalizing the historic victory of the working class. The party which had spearheaded the movement along with All India Gorkha League through their Trade Unions was on its three decades rule in the state of West Bengal when the Golden Jubilee Year 2005 of the historic event took place. The Party as well as the Government seemed totally unaware and unconcerned of the Golden Jubilee year of the Margaret's Hope Police firing and the victory of the workers of tea gardens of Darjeeling, but in 1955 the West Bengal Assembly was shaken by the thunderous attack by the leader of opposition, Jyoti Basu who had squarely blamed the government of Dr. B.C. Roy for the Margaret's Hope Police Firing and made a demand for immediate inquiry on the happenings in Darjeeling. And, the same Jyoti Basu and the Government of West Bengal led by his Party seemed totally apathetic on the attainment of Golden Jubilee Year by the Historic Margaret's Hope Police Firing which had happened while the workers were carrying the banner of Red Flag bearing the symbol of the CPI.

A simple and modest memorial has been erected at the spot where the police firing had taken place, resulting into the killing of six unarmed and innocent people at one so, It is also an irony that the memorial was being constructed by the unit of the Indian National Congress during whose rule the firing and killing had occurred. It was during the period of Emergency of Indira Gandhi, the Congress Party as a ploy of wooing the people is found to have constructed the memorial, but the Left Front Government being a true friend of Workers, has not thought it prudent to construct a befitting memorial in memory of the martyrs. The six people, who received bullets on their chests, were carrying the RED FLAG which had been RAISED by Communist Party of India (Marxists). However, in the Golden Jubilee Year (2005), of the Historic Margaret's Hope Firing, the TRINETRA a voluntary body of the writers and artists of Darjeeling Town had made a TELEFILM of the Historic Event, in the Workers Movement in Darjeeling. The Telefilm, titled THE YEAR 1955, has won applaud and appreciation from people across Darjeeling Hill. It is learnt, that the making of the telefilm was made possible due to the responsibility and sponsorship of R. B. Rai, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists and B.S. Subba, the Headmaster of Busty Gaon Primary School, Margaret's Hope Tea Garden. As of today the Margaret's Hope Event has been regarded as a beacon light for unity, organisation and struggle of the workers of the tea gardens of Darjeeling. The event, role and attitude of the related party, parties, group and individuals on the subsequent incident has become a subject for research and presentation in the form of comprehensive work, but no scholar and academician has ventured so far for producing a solid work except making contribution in short writings and mentioning of some flashes in few novels.




THE DARJEELING ENQUIRY COMMITTEE
There was pervasion of resentment, discontentment and distaste across the Darjeeling Hills against the Government of West Bengal after the police firing at Margaret's Hope Tea Garden and killing of six people. And, the Government being fully aware of the mood and sentiment of the people of Darjeeling, a Committee was constituted on 9th November, 1955 vide Resolution No 8417-P. The reason and aim of the constitution of the Committee was for assuaging the emotion and feeling of the people. However, in the resolution it was stated 'to examine the various problems affecting the hill areas of the Darjeeling district" and the committee was named Darjeeling Enquiry Committee headed by the erstwhile Labour Minister, Kalipada Mukherjee as Chairman, the other members were: Atulya Ghose, Maitraye Bose, Rabindra Sikdar, Laxmiranjan Joshi, Ramasankar Prasad, T. Wangdi, N.B. Gurung, T. Manen, R.K. Sharma and Siva Kumar Rai. The Committee met a cross-section of the people and visited different places of Darjeeling and submitted its recommendations to the Government. The Government published THE REPORT on 18th July, 1961 and it contained thirty seven recommendations made by the Committee on various subjects and actions taken on some of the recommendations.

The Darjeeling Enquiry Committee, being acquainted with some of the pressing problems of the people, had made several suggestions and recommendations for the socio-economic upliftment of Darjeeling Hills, but the Government, in the implementation of the recommendations seemed to have been besieged with usual administrative procrastination. There are several instances of tardiness on the part of the Government and its administration for the implementation of the recommendations of the Darjeeling Enquiry Committee Report. The Committee had recommended "the construction of an all-weather jeepable road from Bijanbari to Rimbick should be taken immediately" It was mentioned by the government, the inclusion of the roads in Second Five-Year Plan, but the execution of the work was seen in the later part of eighth decades that is nearly after a quarter century. Similarly, regarding games and sports the Committee had recommended "the Hill people are very sport- minded. The construction of a stadium with adequate facilities for the different sports organisations and clubs should be taken up as early as possible. The difference of opinion as regards the location of the stadium should not be allowed to delay the matter and the Deputy Commissioner should bring the local people together and take an early and final decision." On this recommendation, the Government had stated that "the site has now been finally selected at the Lebong and Mineral Spring Tea Estate off Darjeeling -Lebong Road. Construction works for the leveling of the ground have already been undertaken and are in good progress". But construction and completion to the serviceable extent of the same stadium was done in the year 1989 only. Thus the "good progress" of the work for the construction of a stadium took nearly three decades for making it serviceable. Further the committee in its report had recognised and remarked that "the hill areas of Darjeeling are famous for hundreds of varieties of flowers some of which are rare. The question of marketing of such flowers should be given special consideration." The government had responded the recommendation of the Committee stating that "a Flower Board has since been set up and the matter is being pursued by them. Till now Rs. 2, 100 worth of flowers grown in the hills have been sold in the Calcutta market through the Board". But today there is no sign of existence of the Board and the enterprising floriculturists of Darjeeling hills are carrying on their business without being guided and promoted by the Board. Many youths and promising entrepreneurs in various fields have successfully carved a niche from Darjeeling hills even without political and administrative support. Thus the constitution of Darjeeling Enquiry Committee and its recommendation was nothing but a political design of the Government of Dr. B.C. Ray so as to douse the ignited feeling of the people against West Bengal Government without giving anything to the people and the place. This was clarified by one of the members of Darjeeling Enquiry Committee N.B. Gurung in Para 29 of the draft recommendation, which was prepared by the Chairman of the Committee on the basis of the figures supplied by the Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling, "on a scrutiny of the figures supplied by the Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling and other departments it was however, found that the representation of the hillmen in the services in the district was not inadequate" But disputing the figures he {N.B. Gurung} had submitted his view and argument in writing precisely in the interest of the hill people. "I do not agree with this. During our discussion in the last meeting held in Calcutta I raised this point and objected the figures"…. "Thus if a correct investigation is made into the services in various Government departments in the three hill sub-divisions of the district, the representations of the hillmen in the lower cadre executive services and clerical posts will be found less than 40 per cent"… the deficit in the hillmen representation in Government services within the district be raised to 70 per cent as demanded by the various political parties including the District Congress… the hill people who constitute a distinct race having special features in West Bengal in the hilly district of Darjeeling is looked with the spirit of oneness and non-parochialism as expressed in the said Paragraph" (Gurung). But the submissions were not taken into consideration by the Committee. It was simply given a place in the Annexure.

It is also a fact that no representations was made to the Darjeeling Enquiry Committee for the separation of the region from West Bengal as persistently demanded by the predecessors since 1907 till the existence of the Constituent Assembly.





THE SUBTLE ASSAULT
Even prior to the beginning of the story of the LOLLYPOP dangled by the government of Dr. B.C. Roy in the form of the Darjeeling Enquiry Committee, it had proceeded with the pushing of a subtle wedge in the politico- organisational set up of the All India Gorkha League {AIGL}. The party true to its prefix in its name had its organisational base throughout India. Since the period from the dawn of Independence to the mid-sixtieth was the political organisational hay day of All India Gorkha League. The period is considered by some of the political analysts as the renaissance of the Nepali Speaking Gorkhas in India. But during this vivacious youth of AIGL, it was surreptitiously stung by a sharp political diplomacy of the then Congress under Dr. B.C. Roy. The poison injected by the sting resulted into an inner party push and pull of a serious nature. The quagmire in the party was in between the leadership of the organisation and the elected representatives to the West Bengal Assembly. The nitty-gritty of the issue for tug of war in the All India Gorkha League was the offer and acceptance of berth in the ministerial cabinet of the Government of West Bengal by the representative elected on party ticket. Further, it also aggravated the situation due to the proximity with Indian National Congress as maintained by the representatives without the consent and authorization of the party and its leader. Thus the question of the relationship with Congress and a berth in the Government caused a flutter and division in the line of thinking among the All India Gorkha League leadership and their representatives. The difference of thoughts in regard to West Bengal Congress and Government headed by it led to create an irreparable fault line in the formidable organisational house of All India Gorkha League immediately after the first general election of free India. Gradually the politico-organisational activities of All India expanse of AIGL shrank and got confined within the perimeter of Darjeeling district only, but the shrinkage in politico-organisational activities of all India dimension did not end the wrangling in the house of All India Gorkha League. The event of the Margaret's Hope firing on 25th June 1955 had culminated into the expulsion of "three M.L.As namely Shiva Kumar Rai M.L.A, Deputy Labour Minister, D.B.S Gahatraj, M.L.A and George Mahabert Subba , M.L.A ON 29th August, 1955 from Party" (Gurung). The reason for the expulsion of the M.L.As from the Party was their inability to speak against the Police Firing and killing of six people in Margaret's Hope Tea Garden. The inertness of the three M.L.As in the assembly of West Bengal,to act against the gruesome act of the police and the expulsion of the M.L.As from AIGL was the success of the subtle design of the advanced and big nationality against the developing national minority, so as to weaken them organisationally and politically. The remaining lone M.L.A Narbahadur Gurung elected from Kalimpong constituency too was expelled from AIGL on 2nd December, 1956 on the charges of anti party activities {Ibid}. It was not only the bullets that pierced the body of six workers of tea gardens, but also the cost of rice which was enhanced from fourteen paise per seer to twenty eight paise per seer in the following year, the year Shiva Kumar Rai was inducted as Deputy Labour Minister in the Cabinet of Dr. B.C. Roy). During those days the quantity of food grains was measured in seer instead of kilogram. It was seen that the Deputy Labour Minister Shiva Kumar Rai was put on the job for persuading the workers of Darjeeling Hill and making them agreeable to bear with the burden of the increased price of the ration. While carrying the assignment, the loyal Deputy Minister made an appeal to the workers of the tea gardens of Darjeeling through radio. In order to listen to the appeal from the Minister, some management of gardens had assembled the workers around their radio set on the appointed day in their respective gardens. Radio sets at that time were owned only by some affluent people only and few managers of tea gardens were seen to be in possession of radio sets. The radio set has become obsolete and nowadays television and cable network has reached nook and corner of the region. But even, today, more than half a century years later, H. B. Rai, Ex. M.L.A [1982-91] and the former member of West Bengal Provincial Committee CPM as well as his contemporaries living in different Teas Gardens are found to have been cherishing vividly the speech of the Minister on radio. One of the senior-most trade unionists and political leaders of Darjeeling presently {2007} belonging to Indian National Congress, Mr. P. P. Rai at the age of 82 years had also confirmed to this writer the veracity of events that was stated by Ex M.L.A, H.B. Rai. The Minister had appealed to the workers of the tea gardens for extending support by bearing with the increased price of the rice for a period of six months only; it was not six months but several years. The price index didn't fall to the workers' expectation.

It was followed by the second general election that was held in the year 1957. In that election the three expelled M.L.As from All India Gorkha League contested as independent candidates from the constituencies of Darjeeling hill with the support of the West Bengal Congress. Eexcept N.B. Gurung from Kalimpong others had lost the election. He becomes a Deputy Minister in the West Bengal Cabinet. The strength of All India Gorkha League from four, M.L.A.s in 1952 came down to one in the election held in 1957. The lone winner of All India Gorkha League in 1957 election was Deoprakash Rai, who subsequently attained a stature of an indomitable regional leader of All India Gorkha League from Darjeeling. The party having a pan-India base was thus reduced to a regional party. It was the result of the socio-political superiority of the advanced and majority ruling Congress Party, being backed with the politico-administrative set up of the state against the region dominantly inhabited by developing national minority. And since then the All India Gorkha League has not been able to retrieve its pristine glory of all India Stature, in spite of winning three and four seats in 1967 and 1979 elections respectively for West Bengal State Assembly from Darjeeling district under the leadership of Deoprakash Rai.



Besides AIGL, two national parities namely the Congress and Communist had been playing their role in Darjeeling according to time and situation, but solely in the interest of Bengal. From its existence (1981) the Indian National Congress is not in possession of any assets worth mentioning and has naught to show as their contribution to the socio-economic upliftment of the people of Darjeeling. In the long history of the party, it has produced members for Parliament and members to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from Darjeeling but not a single member has so far succeeded in bringing about a tangible result in the sphere of socio-economic upkeep of the place and people. It is being severally claimed that the foundation of modern West Bengal was laid by the Royal Bengal Tiger Dr. B.C. Roy but the very same person in respect to Darjeeling was found to do politicking only for the denial of justice.

The Communist Party also stands identical to the Congress with respect to the socio-economic development of Darjeeling. The party, after a decade of its formation, was nearly decimated as a reason of its defeat in the first general election of 1952. To rejuvenatieg the party, the West Bengal State Committee of CPI is found to have taken a decision for sending one of its leaders to the Rajya Sabha from Darjeeling. In spite of knowing the fact that Darjeeling is a region mostly inhabited by Nepali Speaking People, the Communist Party of India had selected a Bengali named Satyendra Narayan Majumdar who was working along with Ratanlall Brahmin, Ganeshlall Subba, Bhadrabahadur Hamal and others for building the party in Darjeeling. In view of the need to fulfill the academic criteria, intellectual prowess and sensitivity to politics from the Marxian angle; Ganeshlall Subba was the fittest and ablest person among them, to be elected as the member of Rajya Sabha. But in place of consideration of suitability, fitness and utility to help consolidate and strengthen the party organisation in Darjeeling, the state committee of CPI being dominated by the leaders belonging to the Bengali Community, the choice to elect Ganeshlall Subba was ignored. Thus the selection of Satyendra Narayan Majumdar against Ganeshlall Subba was the victory of communalism over the Marxism in Darjeeling. The victory of communalist spirit in an expansive field of Marxism was the reason that the West Bengal state committee looked askance on Ganeshlall Subba for his loyalty to them instead of Marxism. "And the reason of being skeptical was that the Darjeeling District CPI being routed in the first general election of independent India in Darjeeling had held a review meeting in which Ganeshlall Subba is believed to have placed a political thesis on the organisational and political line exclusively for the District but in conformity with the Marxian principle. The crux of the thesis is believed to have been directed against the nationalistic chauvinism of big and advanced ruling class of the state. And it could not become a riddle to Bengali Leadership in the Communist Party of Darjeeling District for understanding the elements of disadvantageousness contained in that thesis of Comrade Ganeshlall Subba to safeguard the interest of Bengal and Bengali speaking community in the region in discreet way. But the Nepali speaking District Committee members of the erstwhile CPI mostly culled from the workers group being unable to comprehend the profundity of the thesis supposedly swayed by the Bengali speaking leaders present in the meeting" [Report from R.B. RAI but not chronicled]. In the following years some others also were marginalized and forced to leave the organisation on account of being vocal with forethought in the interest of the region and people. Thus, the Communist Party of Darjeeling has become stigmatized of not grooming and promoting leadership from the local literate and intellectuals circle in the interest of Bengal and its people. The Communist Party was not able to wash away the stigma till the formation of the first Left Front Government in West Bengal in 1977 under the leadership of Communist Party of India {Marxists}.

After the Ganeshlall Subba episode Bhadrabahadur Hamal was elected [1957-62] as M.L.A for the West Bengal Assembly and Ratanlall Brahmin for Lok Sabha [1971]; both of them, belonging to working class, were successful to a great extent in justifying the post for which they were elected. However, the elite gentry and literate circle remained aloof from the Communist Party in Darjeeling. In spite of the aloofness and isolation from the informed and influential section, the Communist Party could be regarded as the political preceptor for Darjeeling. The Communist Party of India, being guided by the leaders from the then Calcutta was found to have learnt of organising Rallies, Gherao, Hartal, forming cadre based association/organisation and militant trade unions. In order to carry forward the activities as mentioned here the workers, cadres and leaders from Nepali Speaking People of Darjeeling were ordained in internationalism for the unity of working class only, concealing the Right to Self Determination of Nationalities as determined by Lenin. The internationalism for unity of workers of globe acted like political anaesthesia in the heart of ordained Nepali Communists of Darjeeling, which made them to engross on the thought and feeling of class struggle, unity of the workers of the world, dictatorship of proletariat and establishment of socialism etc. Gradually they were made inebrious for internationalism only in the name of Marxian ideology by building an imperceptible restrain for the entry of saner, literate and conscious political minded people into the Communist Party. Thus, the Bengali preceptors of Marxism is found to have taught its proselytized Nepali Communists of Darjeeling the doctrine and theories of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao in its syllabus minus the chapter on the Right to Self Determination of Nationalities coined and propounded by V.I. Lenin after the exit of Ganeshlall Subba. The process under which the Communist Party took its shape in Darjeeling led to form distaste in the minds of literate circle that regarded the Communist Party as a PARIAH. But in stead of taking steps for establishing acceptability and dispelling the Pariah tag the process of indoctrination of Marxism as suited to the preceptors was carried without taking any note of dictum that states "you can fool some people all the time, all the people for some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time".



The installation of the first Left Front government preceded by murky days of the emergency has had to a great extent helped in not being the communist considered as PARIAH in Darjeeling Hills. Thus the organisational strength of the communist party had unexpected growth. The growth had embraced a section of peasants, workers, employees, writers, artists, teachers and intellectuals, and on enlisting the support from the section of the literate and informed layers the effort and role of R.B. RAI, the lone but well read left intellectual in the house of the Communist Party of India {Marxists} in Darjeeling was commendable and enthusiastic. Within a short span, the Communist Party of India {Marxists} abbreviated as CPM had its Minister, M.L.A and also the members for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha from Darjeeling. The people who were reposing faith on CPM had high hope and expectation for socio-economic and political upliftment of the place from the Government of West Bengal led by CPM, but the habit of hoodwinking the people of Darjeeling had become the nature of CPM as it was monitored and directed from Kolkata. Only these docile and loyal to Bengal, were chosen for carrying the responsibility of public representatives and political leadership by Kolkata. In this manner the socio-economic aspiration of the region went further to be neglected which gradually took one shape of a political cauldron, but the Government seemed unmindful of the formation of cauldron, as the movement launched by PRANTA PARISAD for formation of separate state was crushed with the use of police force Krishna Subba and Deoraj Sharma fell to police bullets on 7th September 1981 at Chowk Bazar, Darjeeling. It was the erstwhile Pranta Parisad which highlighted the demand for a separate state in an organised way for the first time since the origin of the demand. While pushing the demand, the Pranta Parisad had successfully enlisted the support and backing from a good chunk of the intelligentsia. In the history of struggle for having socio-political administration of Gorkhas in India, the movement of Pranta Parisad was the first endeavour backed by intellectual with concrete data based on history, politics, economics, socio-cultural aspect and the mindset of the people inhabitating the region, but the Government of West Bengal having perceived the preparation of Pranta Parisad on the different ingredients required to make the demand of a separate state, left no stone unturned to crush the movement. Thus Pranta Parisad could not withstand the shots fired from the administrative, political and diplomatic guns of the government machinery. The movement and the Pranta Parisad met premature death. This emboldened the government and the CPM and instilled confidence on their own strength and capability to face eventualities. The confidence and estimation of the situation resulted into an enormous blunder for them, when the Gorkha National Liberation Front {GNLF} under the leadership of a derelict soldier Subash Ghisingh started a movement {1986-88} by making the demand of GORKHALAND. The involvement and participation of the people at the very outset of the movement caught the Government napping. However, the Government being confident of its might on barrel and bullet used the same for killing people in Kalimpong and Kurseong. The killing of innocent people resulted in a mass upsurge in Darjeeling hill which turned into a formidable challenge to the West Bengal Government and its machinery. The use of force led to more and more involvement and participation of the people with surcharged anguish and resentment. Thus, seeing the mass protest, the Government startled lebelled the movement for Gorkhaland led by Subash Ghisingh as "ANTI-NATIONAL". During this stage the Congress Government at the centre, inclined to harass the Left front Government of West Bengal under the Communist seemed interested to use Subash Ghisingh as a pawn in the POLITICAL CHESS BOARD of West Bengal. As Subash Ghisingh himself had disclosed "the home ministry's invitation for the January 28 meeting in New Delhi was delivered to him at his Darjeeling residence by an assistant director of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau {SIB}. Inder Jit came with a proposal. I went along. I also visited Inder Jit's house in Delhi. Inder Jit was around when Ghisingh handed over the memorandum to Rajiv Gandhi in Darjeeling on February 7. But the person Ghisingh first shook hands with after handing over the memorandum was not Inder Jit, but Partho Bhattacharya, Assistant Director, SIB, based at Siliguri. The involvement of Central Intelligence agencies in GNLF affairs is now well-known. Apart from SIB, the Research and Analysis Wing {RAW} allegedly has a finger in Ghisingh's pie. A senior congress-I politician told the Weekly, on express condition that his name would not be published: 'RAW is, of course, playing a role in GNLF'. What he did not state was that the Centre decided to harness RAW's services around May 1986, with the express purpose of guiding the GNLF agitation along the lines which would cause maximum embarrassment to West Bengal's Left Front government" {The Illustrated Weekly of India, February 1987}, but the Government of West Bengal being led by renowned Communist Leader, Jyoti Basu, knowing well the move of the Congress Government under Rajiv Gandhi, left no stone unturned in matching the challenges posed by Central Authority through Subash Ghisingh in the name of GNLF. Thus, Darjeeling seemed to have been made a battlefield of a subtle nature between the two political heavy weights. In the course the Left Front Government of West Bengal led by the Chief Minister Jyoti Basu took every possible measure to turn the table against the Central Government under Rajiv Gandhi. Thus, the demand for the separate State of Gorkhaland and the movement for its realisation becomes a political gambit between the Congress Government at the Centre and the Left Front Government of West Bengal till the holding of the West Bengal Assembly Election in 1987. The GNLF under the leadership of Subash Ghisingh out signalling leaders, cadres, supporters of the Communist Party of India {Marxists} belonging to the party of Jyoti Basu and let loose individual and mass attacks that resulted in violence, arson, murder, kidnapping, intimidation, terror, threat, extortion, social boycott, eviction in the entire Darjeeling hill and parts of Dooars areas for twenty eight months. In the name of movement for realisation of Gorkhaland it was not only the leaders and cadres of CPM, but even the common people having sympathy to the CPM party were subjected to harassment of severe nature. Thus, a situation was developed in which armed rowdies, criminals and hoodlums associated with GNLF took the lead of the movement targeting CPM and its supporters as well as sympathizers. In the name of Gorkhaland Movement the armed attacks by GNLF on CPM and its supporters and taking of defensive measures by the later, there ensued a war of fratricidal nature. The attack, defence and counter-attack had become the order of the day of the Gorkhaland movement that cost the lives of several hundred helpless and innocent people. A good number of victims became physically disabled, public and private properties worth several crore of rupees were reduced to ashes, but the people making such huge and unprecedented sacrifices were not in the know of the source, from where they were made to fight. Two group of people having the same language; culture and mindset were seen fighting explicitly for the formation of separate State of Gorkhaland. One was carrying aggressive attacks on their fellow brethren for the interest of Congress of Delhi and another in the name of self-defence was fighting for the concern of CPM of West Bengal for their survival in the state. Thus, in the name of formation of a separate State to be called Gorkhaland by segregating the region from West Bengal, a prompted hostility was thrust upon the people. The hostilities and the proposition of the formation of Gorkhaland by segregating the region from Bengal was termed and attributed by the CPM as a ploy and handy work of Congress Party against Bengal and Bengalese. Thus, termed and coined attributions were made the main plank of campaign by the CPM for the election to West Bengal Assembly scheduled to be held in March 1987. In the plain areas of Bengal, a tumultuous campaign was carried by CPM alleging the Congress Party as a designer and plotter of proposed Gorkhaland for the division of Bengal and that easily put the Congress in a tight spot. In the political and diplomatic push and pull the Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu outwitted the young Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and achieved a thumbing victory for the third consecutive term in the election for West Bengal Assembly in 1987. Had there been no Gorkhaland Movement in Darjeeling then it would have made difficult time of wresting of power by winning the third term for the Left Front. After the victory of Jyoti Basu for the third time, the negotiation with the "Anti-national Agitationist" for Gorkhaland got expedited on the initiative of the Government of India at the behest of the erstwhile Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The leader of the Gorkhaland Movement Subash Ghisingh, being like a got defeated by the political, administrative and intellectual supremacy of Jyoti Basu. Being a wounded and frail soldier he was made to surrender the demand for the SEPARATE STATE OF GORKHALAND by putting signature to an agreement which stated as "in the overall national interest and in response to Prime Minister's call the GNLF agree to drop the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland" (Dutta). (EMPHASIS MINE). After surrendering the demand "GNLF President Subash Ghisingh seems to have mastered the art of making unusual requests. He had asked Jyoti Basu to send him a video cassette of the ceremony at Raj Bhawan on the occasion of the signing of the Darjeeling Accord. Readers will recall that after signing the accord, Ghising had requested the then Union home Secretary, C.G. Somaiha, to destroy the dossier compiled by the Intelligence Bureau, detailing his alleged links with foreign countries and the sources of GNLF funds. While the dossier still exists, Basu is unlikely to disappoint Ghising"- The Illustrated Weekly of India, October 2, 1988, page 43 under a captioned as DEEP THROAT}. Further the same Illustrated Weekly of India in its October 14, 1990 issue is found to have written under a captioned as PLAYING FRANKENSTEIN that "he [Subash Ghisingh] was a non-commissioned army gurkha who was singled out by RAW to be used as a tool to defy the CPM government of West Bengal. Buta Singh as Home Minister was keen to clip the Marxists' wings. The Gorkhaland agitation launched by Ghising and his followers became steadily more violent and the hill region had to suffer years of unrest and turmoil. Every time Ghising came to Delhi for talks, he was put up by the IB and RAW. A senior Delhi journalist served as his philosopher and guide". Thus the issue of a Homeland for the Nepali Speaking Gorkhas in independent India, and twenty eight months violent movement for achieving the same, was made a toy to be played by Delhi and Kolkata for their political and diplomatic interest only. Against unprecedented sacrifices the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council came into being in lieu of Gorkhaland, as a mechanism for the socio-political development of Darjeeling hill areas. The GNLF and its President, Subash Ghisingh on occupying the chair of the Chairmanship of the DGHC spend most of his faculty and energy so as to flabbergast and hoodwink the general masses of Darjeeling hill. In doing so he is found to have raised the legal status of Darjeeling and a times calling it a no-man's land, ceded land, filing of a suit in the International Court of Justice in Hague for ascertaining the legality of Rulership of India over the region of Darjeeling. And he also had filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India on 19th October, 1994 praying that " the Hon'ble Court may be graciously pleased to direct the Respondent to discharge its constitutional obligations by passing the necessary legislation as per Articles 2 and 4 read with Article 253 of the Constitution of India so far as the territories of Darjeeling including Kalimpong, Assam Dooars and Bengal Dooars are required to be formally absorbed/admitted in the Union of India as envisaged by Article 1-3[C]." (The Writ Petition). But after the dismissal of the petition he was fund of tagsing the region with Bangladesh and at time expressing wish of merging the region with Bihar. The West Bengal Government and the CPM had branded the GNLF as Anti-national when it was making a demand for Gorkhaland, but when the same party and leader after dropping the demand of Gorkhaland was making detrimental statement as well as conducting activities being seated on the Chair of DGHC after taking oath of office from the Governor of the State, the CPM and the Government of West Bengal we seen to be unperturbed and comfortable for reasons best known to them. With regard to Subash Ghisingh and his Party the GNLF, the Government of West Bengal is found to have shelved the Rules, Act, Cr.P.C and IPC as well.

The DGHC had to run as per the provision of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act 1988 which was enacted by the West Bengal Assembly. But in running and administering the DGHC, the Act is taken as a scrap of paper only by its Chairman Subash Ghisingh. The DGHC in its third tenure of five years that ended in 2005 was running without holding a single formal meeting. Similarly the School Service Commission [SSC] is a body formed as per the Act passed by West Bengal Assembly for each district. And the SSC for DGHC area also was formed but due to the opposition from the GNLF, the body has been made defunct. Thus the writ of GNLF was allowed to prevail against the Act passed by the West Bengal Assembly. The Sarva Sikshya Aviyan programme has been carrying on throughout India as an expedition for providing a facility of schooling to the children. The same programme was executed and implemented by DGHC in Darjeeling Hill Areas. In taking up of the Sarva Sikshya Aviyan propramme by the DGHC, the misuse and misappropriation of Rupees five crore fourteen lakhs and fifty thousand came to the notice of the general mass. The greatest corruption in the thirty years rule of the Left Front Government in Darjeeling under DGHC has been entrusted for investigation to the CID of West Bengal Police. The investigation instead of booking the culprit seemed to be shielding the involved.

There is a clear provision in the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act for the existence of TWO TIER PANCHAYAT BODIES under the Article 31[1] of the DGHC Act which was Legislated and passed by West Bengal Assembly, and the same Act, except the provision of the Panchayat, is also in force for the DGHC. Keeping in view the intolerance of Subash Ghisingh to the existence of the Panchayat Bodies in the Hill areas of Darjeeling, the Government of West Bengal held election for one Tier Gram Panchayat only. The holding of the one tier Panchayat election was also done out of compulsion as the Seventy Third Amendment of the Constitution of India in 1993 has made the existence of Panchayat Institution a compulsory for the states. In that seventy third amendment of the constitution under article no 243M clause no 3, it is stated without any ambiguity for Darjeeling that

{3} Nothing in this Part-

{a} relating to Panchayat at the district level shall apply to the hill areas of the District of Darjeeling in the state of West Bengal for which Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council exists under any law for the time being in force:

{b} shall be construed to affect the functions and powers of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council constituted under such Law.



Hence, it is clear from the provisions of the Constitution of India as stated here above under article 243M, clause {a} and {b} in respect of Darjeeling that the existence and functioning of Panchayat below the District level is a must. The Panchayat below the District Level means the PANCHAYAT SAMITY and GRAM PANCHAYAT AS EXISTED AND FUNCTIONED IN West Bengal according to West Bengal Panchayat Act, but during two decades of the existence and functioning of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, it was only the one tier Panchayat election for two consecutive terms. After the expiry of the tenure for the second term of the Gram Panchayat, no election for Panchayat was held, but the TENURE EXPIRED GRAM PANCHAYAT has been kept functioning even without making notification for the extension of the tenure of the Gram Panchayat. Thus in regard to Panchayat in Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council region, it was seen that the Government of West Bengal was neither in a position to hold election nor had the guts to notify the extension of the tenure of the Gram Panchayat. The uncertainty of existence and functioning of the ‘term expired’ Gram Panchayat in Darjeeling hill was nothing but the result of Subash Ghisingh's aversion to Panchayat. Hence it was crystal clear that the Government of West Bengal seems to have succumbed to the whimsical, illegal and unconstitutional wishes of Subash Ghising by keeping in abeyance the rules, acts and the provision of the constitution. Darjeeling District was also brought under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act which was popularlys called as {NREGA} enacted by the Government of India for providing HUNDRED DAYS EMPLOYMENT for the people of rural India, from the financial year 2006. But a crisis in regard to the executing agency for hundred day’s work, as contemplated in the Act had crept in. The Scheme being centrally sponsored one under a Central Act for the rural people (who were keen for having the scheme). The Scheme was supposed to be executed through Panchayat. Thus, on one side the eagerness of rural people and on the other the scheme coming from Central Government a compromise was arrived at between the Government of West Bengal and Caretaker Chairman of DGHC Subash Ghisingh. The compromise was to have arrived by making some distortion and modification in the guideline issued by the Central Government for the implementation of the hundred days work in a year under NREGA, but in the execution of the Scheme, the sluggishness and procrastination was made to lead the order of the day till the expiry of the half year 2007. Further uncertainty was looming large in the execution of the scheme under NEGRA in Darjeeling. Thus in the scheme of things, the Panchayat and its functioning has become casualty in Darjeeling. It is not only the Panchayat which has been made a mockery in Darjeeling: when the election for the fourth term of DGHC was due in 2005, the President of Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Chairman of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, Subash Ghisingh started making hue and cry to with hold the election. He had wrote letters to the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of West Bengal on 6th October, 2004, stating that " the law and order situation in the said areas is now under deadly threat and further it is likely to go out of hand of State Govt of West Bengal just like in the case of neighbouring country, as created by the above master minds with a view to destabilize the whole region of Himalayan belt and the North-East of India. There are still so many youths from these regions who are taking underground training in Bangladesh Camps. From reliable sources, North Bengal is the biggest main HQ of International Spying Agencies which covers the vast areas of North Bengal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Assam, Bihar and Darjeeling District which is known to all and also known to the state and the Central Govt of India." Thus it appears from the content of the letter that Subash Ghisingh is found to have out-smarted and flower over the Intelligence Agencies of the Governments of India and West Bengal. The Government of West Bengal in stead of holding the election for Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council, as scheduled under the provision of the Act and Rules, took the trouble for amending the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council Act so as to appoint him as Caretaker Chairman of DGHC by issuing a fresh order after every sixth months. Since 2004 the renewal of Caretaker Chairmanship had been made a normal feature for running the affairs of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council, till 10th March, 2008. On that date he tendered resignation on being told by the Chief Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee who was pressurised for removal of Ghisingh by GJMM. The details of the happenings have been dealt under a chapter Emergence of Bimal Gurung in this book.

There were one hundred and twelve Gram Panchayat in the entire Darjeeling Hill areas and they were in operation even after the expiry of their tenure. The government of West Bengal had not taken any initiative for holding Panchayat Election on account of the abhorrence of Subash Ghisingh towards panchayat in Darjeeling hill, as he was critically intolerant to the existence of any statutory authority except himself. The government being in the know of the attitude of Subash Ghisingh had preferred to shelve the provisions of the West Bengal Panchayat Act and Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act solely to placate him. Out of one hundred and twelve Gram Panchayat only six Gram Panchayats were controlled by CPRM and the rest had total allegiance and affiliation to GNLF. After the removal of Subash Ghisingh from the care-taker chairmanship of DGHC all the Gram Panchayat except the ones controlled by CPRM switched over their loyalty and allegiance to GJMM and its president, Bimal Gurung. During the hey day of Subash Ghisingh they were the pillars of organization of GNLF for the rural villages. This time the Pradhan, Upa-pradhan and members of the Gram Panchayat become active organizer of GJMM in the countryside of Darjeeling hill. But in spite of their contribution for the organizational expansion of GJMM they were asked to quit their posts so as to provide fillip to the Gorkhaland movement launched by GJMM by way of not cooperating with the West Bengal Government. The turned coat Pradhan, Upa-pradhan and members of the Gram Panchayat being unable to defy the directive tendered resignation in the month of May 08, but the CPRM controlled panchayats did not submit their resignation as per the unilateral decision and directive of GJMM and had argued that it is not only Panchayat but the Chairman, vice-chairman and members of Municipalities also should tender resignation as the same was functioning under the provision of West Bengal Municipality Act and their functioning implied of the cooperation to West Bengal Government. Several Pradhan and Upa-pradhan who had tendered resignation were seen to be supporting the stand of CPRM controlled Gram Panchayat in private, but the CPRM taking stock of the situation had come to the conclusion that the dissolution of Gram Panchayat only would not provide any impetus to the movement for separate state of Gorkhaland rather it could cause difficulties to the people of rural areas in several count. However, it felt that the need of the hour was showing unity and solidarity of the people of Darjeeling and on the basis of felt necessity of the hour decided and directed the Gram Panchayat to submit resignation by convening a meeting of Gram Sabha so as to apprise the people the urgently needed unity and solidarity of the people and organizations of Darjeeling. Accordingly, the CPRM controlled Gram Panchayat also submitted resignation at the end of June 08. Thus, a situation of non-existence of Panchayat was created in Darjeeling hill but Government and its administrative machinery seemed to have remained unperturbed and unmoved on the state of affairs.



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