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27 Jul 2017

Darjeeling shutdown: Unhappy with Centre’s silence, says GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba

ENS  | Kolkata | July 27, 2017 :Incessant rain, snapped power lines and rallies marked day-42 of the indefinite strike over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling hills, even as Gorkha leaders voiced their discontent over the Centre’s “silence” on the issue.
The last indefinite strike that Darjeeling witnessed was in 2013 — a total of 46 days. But the strike was not unbroken, and people were given respite every once in a while. This time around, with both the Gorkha and state leaderships refusing to budge from their positions, and the Centre remaining silent, the issue has reached a stalemate.
After the last all-party meeting of Gorkha leaders on July 18, leaders had decided to call for a CBI enquiry into the seven deaths due to alleged police firing during protests in the Hills. The leaders had also decided to approach Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi with their demands, as well as the Governor and Chief Minister of Sikkim — this has not yet been done.
“But we have sent representatives to other states as lobbyists. To meet MPs and other leaders and explain to them the need for a Gorkhaland state, and how this is possible. Teams have already visited Maharashtra, Telangana, Bihar and Hyderabad,” said Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee member and GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba.
It had also been decided that a group of representatives would head for New Delhi immediately and start lobbying in the capital. But this has now been postponed. The next all party meeting has been slotted to be held in New Delhi on August 1.
What has taken the steam out of the movement is the Centre’s silence on the matter, according to Zimba.
“The situation has gone from bad to worse, but the Centre is keeping entirely silent on the issue. In its manifesto in West Bengal, the BJP had clearly said it would look into the demand for Gorkhaland," said GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba.
“The situation has gone from bad to worse, but the Centre is keeping entirely silent on the issue. In its manifesto in West Bengal, the BJP had clearly said it would look into the demand for Gorkhaland. But now it has decided to shy away from the matter entirely. We want them to make a clear statement, letting us know whether they are in favour of a separate Gorkhaland or not. If not, we have other options,” Zimba said. He also spoke on Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia’s silence.
“He was voted from Darjeeling with a high margin to represent us. But he has not done that. All the Gorkhas feel disappointed and hurt,” he said.
Meanwhile GJM insiders admit that as the Gorkhaland movement became a “people’s movement”, the pressure on party leaders to deliver on a separate state is exceedingly high. “Even if the leaders want to, they cannot call off the indefinite strike. The public pressure is high. The leaders will have to deliver Gorkhaland,” the source said.

Privacy is a fundamental right with qualifications, Centre tells apex court

Right to privacy, fundamental right, Supreme Court, Government, privacy rightsANANTHAKRISHNAN G | IE  | New Delhi |  July 27, 2017 :THE CENTRE on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that while right to privacy is a fundamental right, it is a “wholly qualified right”, implying that it could be subject to reasonable restrictions. This is contrary to the government’s earlier stand that citizens cannot invoke privacy as a fundamental right as the Constitution does not provide for it.
“There is a fundamental right to privacy. But it is a wholly qualified right,” Attorney General K K Venugopal told a nine-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar. He, however, made it clear that the submission was not intended to cover the challenge to Aadhaar, meaning that those challenging it cannot claim that it violates right to privacy.
“Since the right to privacy consists of diverse aspects and is a sub-species of the right to liberty, every aspect of sub-species will not qualify as a fundamental right,” he said.  Venugopal said privacy, as a right, could not be seen in isolation, and was, in fact, a “conglomerate of rights” which had to be treated on a case-to-case basis. “It is not a homogenous right, but a conglomerate of privacy rights. Are we going to bunch them all together instead of examining each when the occasion arises,” he asked the bench, which includes Justices J Chelameswar,
S K Kaul, S A Bobde, R F Nariman, A M Sapre, R K Agarwal, D Y Chandrachud and Abdul Nazeer. “Different species of privacy exist, and all of them cannot be elevated to the status of fundamental rights,” he said.  The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is the implementing agency for Aadhaar, took the stand that “though it (privacy) is a right and an enforceable right, it is not a fundamental right”.
On the petitioners’ contention that the right to privacy flows from right to liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, Venugopal said though the provision guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, the right to life outweighs the right to liberty.  “Between personal liberty and life, life dominates because there can be no liberty without life… If there is a conflict between rights, one that is traced to life and the other traced to liberty, the former will prevail. Wherever personal liberty exists as a right, it has to subordinate itself to the right to life of others,” he said, citing the example of Aadhaar which, he said, was a tool to improve the lives of the poor.
“The World Bank says there are 270 million people in India living below the poverty line. This is for their benefit… The World Band said Aadhaar is something every other country should follow… Nobody can say that giving their biometrics will violate their privacy,” said the AG.
Justice Chandrachud then asked if the AG was saying that “privacy is an elitist construct which pits one group of people against another”. Stating that “it is not like that”, the judge then asked if a state can “impose sterilisation because there are too many kids living in slums.” He added that “the protection here is the guarantee under the Constitution”.  Venugopal said “the right to life and liberty were not absolute either”, adding “that is why we have death penalty for gross crimes and incarceration for other crimes. One affects life, the other affects liberty”.
The bench said it would first have to decide whether the right to privacy existed in the Constitution in view of court judgments in the M P Sharma and Kharak Singh cases, that held it was not a fundamental right. The challenge to Aadhaar will then be taken up by another five-judge bench, it said.
Justice Chandrachud said one “cannot deny the obligation to submit some data to the state. But this has to be under a law, the law must ensure that the data so submitted is protected from private intrusion and will be used only for the purpose for which it is given”. “If you say privacy is not a fundamental right, anything can be done to it (data),” said the judge, adding that “constitutional control will help”.
On being prodded by the Bench, the AG explained that he was “not saying that some species (of privacy rights) may not qualify as fundamental rights… Some aspects are protected, some are not. It has to be tested, depending on the circumstances in which it arises.”  The CJI then pointed out that “the question of circumstances in which it arises is possible only when privacy is a fundamental right”.
Earlier in the day, five more non-BJP ruled states — West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Puducherry and Himachal Pradesh — impleaded themselves in the case, defending the claim that privacy is a fundamental right. Appearing for the first four, senior counsel Kapil Sibal touched on the issue of data protection and said there was a need for a law for this. “There has to be a data protection plan in this country emanating from the right to privacy,” he said, adding that “privacy will also apply against hackers”.
Sibal agreed that “privacy can never be an absolute right” but expressed concern about data furnished to the state being shared by agencies.  To this, Justice Chandrachud said, “I give financial data about myself while filing IT returns. The Serious Fraud Office or RBI may want it,” indicating that such actions were natural.  The senior counsel then said “the extent of (state) interference must be proportional to the need for such interference”.
Justice Nariman said if the right to privacy is to be traced to Article 19 or 21, the mandate of these provisions may require the state to step in where non-state actors are involved.  The hearing will continue on Thursday.

Bengal DGP says situation 'under control' in Hills after 2-day visit

Bengal DGP says situation MP | 26 July 2017 10:43 PM |Darjeeling: Surajit Kar Purkayastha, Director General of Police, West Bengal, after a two-day tour of the Darjeeling Hills, Kalimpong and Dooars, declared that the situation is "under control. "
The Hills are on the boil with the demand of Gorkhaland being resurrected. An agitation is underway with an indefinite bandh being clamped in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hills since June 15. There have been near regular incidents of violence, arson and vandalism. 
On his way back to Kolkata, the DGP talking to media persons at the Bagdogra Airport stated: "I visited Darjeeling, Mirik, Kalimpong and Dooars. In these places I held meetings with administrative and police officials. The situation is under control." The police top brass stated that the government along with the police wanted peace to prevail in this region. "We are always with the law abiding citizens. We will stand by them. However, action will be initiated against all those who violate law. We have being doing so and will continue to do so." Read This - This year

He, however, sidestepped questions regarding the deployment of additional forces in the Hills or whether Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders implicated in various cases would be arrested in future. 
A month into the bandh, a West Bengal government report claimed that losses incurred is to the tune of Rs 355 crore. The report states that 54 vehicles have been damaged or torched; 73 government offices and buildings have been damaged or torched and 113 government personnel including police have suffered injuries. 
The report submitted at the Calcutta high court on July 15 stated that violence along with destruction in the Hills continues unabated. Eight agitators have been allegedly killed in police firings.

(Source & Courtesy: http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/bengal-dgp-says-situation-under-control-in-hills-after-2-day-visit-254485)

'Bengal government has been able to instill self-belief among rural women'

Choten D Lama, State Mission Director and CEO of the West Bengal State Rural Livelihoods Mission under the Panchayats and Rural Development Department
MP, 26 July 2017 11:30 PM |  Kolkata: Through capacity building activities and skill enhancement, the Bengal government has been able to instill self-belief among thousands of rural women, said Choten D Lama, State Mission Director and CEO of the West Bengal State Rural Livelihoods Mission under the Panchayats and Rural Development Department. She was speaking at the Skills Conclave organised by CII here on Wednesday. The women are engaged in a wide variety of work – be it in handicrafts, weaving kantha or producing food products or engagement in the traditional agriculture and allied sectors.

Drawing a lesson from the SHG movement in the state in which more than 5.3 million poor women are members, she highlighted that through the matching of expectations and aspirations of various stakeholders in the area of credit linkage for rural poor women, a model has been evolved which has made it possible to effect a very significant growth in the access of credit from the formal banking sector by these women who are engaged in various activities aimed at improving their incomes and livelihood opportunities. From Rs 600-plus cr in 2012-13, since the launch of this initiative in 2015-16, the SHG credit linkage has grown in the past two years to Rs 2012 and to Rs 3,400 crore. The target for 2017-18 is Rs 5,003 cr of credit, Lama said.

She also requested CII to work alongside the state government and make sure these talented women receive top-notch skill training, acquire marketing acumen and gain wider market linkages. "With some handholding, they can be a new model in entrepreneurship," Lama said, adding that the state government has taken up a slew of projects, primarily aimed at generating jobs for women living in villages. 
Lama also stated that all stakeholders in the skills sector must come together and work together to ensure that we can reap the demographic dividends of our nation's youthful workforce. 
She added that there has been a sea change in the way the bureaucracy functions, especially in the skills ecosystem and the focus of the Bengal government is definitely its citizens and service delivery to them.

Communication and sharing between various players in the skills sector will support the establishment of an environment of mutual trust and respect and help in ironing out implementation challenges, she said, adding that institutions must be given a priority. 
Jayanta Krishna, Executive Director & COO, National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), too, observed that Bengal holds a huge potential. "Budgetary outlays have been substantially increased and a lot of work is happening. However, a lot of work remains to be done as well," he said. 
Krishna also struck a note of caution, saying unless "we skill and employ a large number of young people" there could be a "demographic disaster".

(Source & Courtesy: http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/bengal-government-has-been-able-to-instill-self-belief-among-rural-women-254547)

Centre's 'no' to body on Gorkhaland a dampner for protestors?

CentreMP | 26 July 2017 | Darjeeling: The Union government's declaration in Parliament that there is no proposal to constitute a committee to look into the separate state demand of the Gorkhas and others agitating in Darjeeling, has emerged as a major dampner for the agitators. They feel that there should be a change in strategy now. 
"There is no proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of the Gorkhas, Adivasis and others," Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in a written reply to a question in the Lower House of Parliament. Read This - This year, message of communal harmony from state I-Day parade 
"It is very unfortunate. The GJM has been constantly claiming that the BJP is pro-Gorkhaland. The BJP should change its stance and view the agitation from a different perspective. They should immediately initiate dialogues. They have sent a wrong signal by stating this in Parliament. The stand of the Bengal government has been clear — They have been stating that they are against Gorkhaland. However, the BJP earlier was sympathetic to the demand but now in indulging in vote bank politics," stated Neeraj Zimba a GMCC leader from the Gorkha National Liberation Front party. 
 Jan Andolan Party feels there is need for a change in strategy. "We need to chalk out a new strategy that will make the movement sustainable as well as make the government agree to the constitutional and legitimate demand of Gorkhaland," stated Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri, President, JAP. 
He stated that BJP is clearly showing an indifference to the movement. "What has happened to their promise in the election manifestoes and the promise made by PM Modi? Earlier, they had even assured to form a committee to look into the Gorkhaland demand," stated Chettri. 
During the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP candidates Jaswant Singh and S S Ahluwalia backed by the GJM had won from the Darjeeling Parliamentary constituency. 
During both these elections, the BJP manifestoes had stated that the party would sympathetically examine the long-pending demand of the Gorkhas. 
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) spearheading the ongoing agitation, however, feels that it is not a cause for worry." 
Swaraj Thapa, a GJM leader stated: "The Union government says it does not have any proposal to set up a committee to look into the Gorkhaland demand as the government is yet to set up a committee. The day any committee is set up, only then will the government state in a Parliament question that a committee has been set up. Therefore, there is no cause for either getting disheartened or dejected." (Source & Courtesy: http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/centres-no-to-body-on-gorkhaland-a-dampner-for-protestors-254551)

10 dead, lakhs marooned in flooded Bengal - CM attack on DVC release

 A plane parked on the flooded runway of the Andal airport , Water being released from the
 Panchet dam near Asansol,on Wednesday. Pic: Santosh Kumar Mandal and Arup Sarkar
TT, July 26: At least 10 people have died and more than 15 lakh have been marooned across several south Bengal districts that have been flooded because of heavy rain and water released by the Damodar Valley Corporation.
According to a preliminary report prepared by the disaster management department, the worst-affected districts are Bankura, West Midnapore, Burdwan West, Jhargram, Birbhum and Hooghly. The report also apprehends that more areas of Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan East and Bankura could be flooded, citing a DVC version that it is not in a position to stop the discharge of water as the dams can burst otherwise.
Sources said the report would be tabled before the chief minister tomorrow.
"So far, we have set up 50 relief camps in five districts, including West Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly and Burdwan West. As 15 lakh people have already been affected, it is expected that more relief camps would start functioning over the next few days," said a senior state government official.
"The water discharged from DVC barrages inundated parts of Hooghly, Howrah and Burdwan East and West," the official added.
In Delhi, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today accused the DVC of making the flood situation worse in Bengal, saying the central utility had lost the capacity to hold water in its dams because of siltation.
Demanding de-siltation in the DVC barrages, the chief minister said: "Since 2012, we have been raising this issue with the DVC, but to no avail. Even today, they released an additional 1 lakh cusecs of water, causing floods in Howrah, Hooghly and West Midnapore."
Sources in the Bengal government said the demand for de-siltation was not rational because of the huge cost involved.
"A well-planned watershed management is the only alternative. Until that happens, we have to accept the problem and try to minimise the flooding effect by making the lower Damodar free from activities that prevent the flow of the river," an official said.
So far, two deaths have been reported each from Hooghly, Burdwan West, Murshidabad and Calcutta. One death each was reported from Nadia and West Midnapore.
Add caption
"All the deaths were either because of the deluge or rain-linked incidents such as building collapse and electrocution," the official said.
Among the districts, Bankura is faced with the worst situation. The region witnessed a record rainfall of 82.8mm in the past 24 hours and the water released by the DVC flooded most of the blocks.
In Burdwan West, the administration shifted around 7,000 people to relief camps. In Asansol's Jamuria, a large tract of land surrounding an open-cast mine collapsed this morning and black smoke started billowing out, creating a panic.
The Kazi Nazrul Islam airport in Andal, though non-functional at the moment, has also been under water since yesterday.
In Birbhum, several places in the Labhpur block were flooded after heavy rain and the overflowing Kuye river.
The worst-affected block in Murshidabad was Burwan, where a school student was washed away while returning home from private tuitions.

Morcha yields rally space ...GNLF organising 27 July programme

TT, Calcutta, July 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has allowed its one-time arch rival, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, to hold a meeting in the heart of Darjeeling town after nine years.
The meeting would be held tomorrow to observe Martyrs' Day in memory of those who lost their lives in the statehood movement in the 1980s. Since 2008, a year after the Morcha became a dominant force in the hills, the GNLF had been holding the July 27 meeting in the outskirts of Darjeeling.
"The Morcha is in power in the Darjeeling municipality, which gave permission to the GNLF to hold the meeting. Even a couple of months ago, they were arch rivals and the Morcha would have never allowed the GNLF to make its presence felt in the heart of Darjeeling town," said a political analyst.
GNLF spokesperson Niraj Zimba said: "For nine years, we observed the day on the fringes of Darjeeling town and in the foothills. Tomorrow, we will hold the meeting in Chowk Bazaar, where our party president Mann Ghisingh and other senior leaders would be present."
On July 27, 1986, 13 people had died in firing during a GNLF rally in Kalimpong. The firing happened when GNLF supporters were burning copies of the India-Nepal Friendship Treaty, 1950, claiming that Article 7 of the treaty did not distinguish between Nepal nationals and Nepali-speaking Indians.
The Morcha also holds a rally every year in memory of the 13 persons. This year, too, the party will hold its meeting barely 50 metres from the GNLF's venue.
Morcha leaders, however, said they would hold a low-key programme tomorrow.
"The last rites of our supporter Ashish Tamang, who died in police firing in Mirik, are yet to be done," a Morcha leader said.
Sources said the Morcha's decision to allow the GNLF to hold the rally in the heart of the town pointed to two reasons. 
First, both hill parties have joined hands to form a committee to spearhead the statehood movement. Political analysts said had the Morcha not allowed the GNLF to hold the rally, it would have substantiated claims of highhandedness by Bimal Gurung's party.
The constituents of the statehood committee, including the GNLF, have objected to some of the recent decisions taken by Gurung, calling them unilateral.
"Second, the confidence of the GNLF leaders to hold the meeting has been bolstered by the fact that around 60 per cent of Trinamul leaders, workers and supporters in the hills have joined the GNLF in the past one and a half months," an observer said.

Morcha faces questions - No plan on Gorkhaland panel: Centre

TT, Siliguri/Kalimpong, July 26: The constituent parties of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee have posed questions to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha after the Centre said there was no proposal to form a committee to look into the statehood demand.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had always been claiming that such a panel had been promised by the Union government.
In Lok Sabha yesterday, the Congress's Jyotiraditya M. Scindia had raised questions about the ongoing agitation in the hills. Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the minister of state for home affairs, said there were reports that public property had been damaged during the strike. He said central forces had been provided to Bengal for maintenance of law and order in the hills.
The Congress MP asked "whether the Government has any proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of Gorkhas, Adviasis and others".
The minister said: "There is no proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of Gorkhas, Adviasis and others."
The minister's assertion has prompted many hill parties to question the Morcha.
"It is clear that the tall claims by the Morcha that the Centre is considering our demand are not correct. Let alone the constitution of the committee by the Centre, there is not even a move on that," a representative of a hill organisation, which is a member of the GMCC, said.
The leader of a party that is a constituent of the GMCC, said: "We want to know what the Morcha leaders and the Darjeeling MP would say now."
Even though Morcha chief Bimal Gurung claimed that the Prime minister had assured him of a favourable decision over their demand and central BJP leaders were considering their demand, there was no remark or written statement from the BJP or the Prime Minister's office.
"It has been proved that whatever we said is correct. The BJP has played politics in 2014 to bag the Darjeeling seat," a hill Trinamul leader said.
Neeraj Zimba, the GNLF spokesman, said: "The Morcha had on two occasions claimed that the Centre would be forming a committee to study the demand for Gorkhaland. This was never validated by the Centre. This was also borne out by a response to my RTI application. However, disappointed as all the pro-Gorkhaland parties are, I don't believe this is the concluding statement. With this new agitation and the mood of the people, I am sure a new dialogue on Gorkhaland will be opened by the Centre."

Fasting youths' condition worsens

People read posters put up by Gorkhaland supporters in Darjeeling on Wednesday. Picture by Passang Yolmo

TT, Kalimpong, July 26: The health condition of the 12 Yuva Morcha members who have been on a "fast-unto-death" since July 21 have been deteriorating by the day with most of them suffering from acute dehydration and low blood pressure.

However, despite their worsening health, the fasting dozen have steadfastly refused to either take food or seek medical assistance even though doctors are at hand to monitor their condition. Three youths each have been fasting in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.
A health department source said apart from dehydration and low blood pressure, the Morcha youths had been complaining of acute pain in the lower abdomen. "They are also having difficulties in passing urine, which means their kidneys are being affected. One of them passed a trace of blood in his urine. All of them need medical attention, but they are refusing to do so," said a source.
All the three fasting protesters in Kalimpong said they would refused to eat, drink or take medical help till such time the road to Gorkhaland was cleared.
"We will die with smiles on our face rather than call off our fast. Despite all that is happening in the hills and elsewhere for the sake of Gorkhaland, the central government appears to be unmoved. We will continue with our fast till our goal is achieved," said Ajit Roka, one of the youths fasting in Kalimpong.
Anil Lopchan, the vice-president of the Yuva Morcha, said the time would come for the leaders of his organisation to join the youths on fast for the sake of a greater cause.
"Those on fast now are mere members of the Yuva Morcha. The leaders too, will have to take the plunge if their efforts do not yield the desired result. And, we are ready to take that step," he said.

Darjeeling without cellphone coverage

Morcha members burn cellphone sets. Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, Calcutta, July 26: The cellphone connectivity in Darjeeling town and suburbs remained down for the second day today, prompting the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to organise a march and burning of handsets in protest.
For the past 48 hours, landlines have been defunct and so are most cellphone networks.
Sources said the phone services were down because alleged Gorkhaland strike supporters had cut down optical fibre cables in some areas of the hills. "It is a tough task for companies concerned to identify the locations where the cables were snapped and do repairs. The problem has been aggravated by the two-day long power cut in Darjeeling," a source said.
The power supply was restored to almost the entire town by this afternoon.
The Morcha supporters started a procession from Ghoom railway station and went to Jorebungalow. The march then returned to the station where over 60 cellphone sets were burnt in protest.
"Without Internet and phone connectivity, these gadgets are of no use. That is why we burnt the cellphones. It is because of the policy of the state government that the situation has reached this extent. We want immediate restoration of Internet and phone services," Prakash Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha's Ghoom-Jorebungalow constituency, said.
He also said if the phones continued to remain idle, the service providers should think of removing towers. "What is the use of towers if the phones do not work and there is no Internet," he said.
The Darjeeling district administration had halted Internet services till July 25. Although the date has crossed, Internet is still unavailable in the hills.
Unconfirmed sources said the clampdown on Internet had been extended till August 5.

Chamling meets PM
Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday and sought the Centre's intervention to ensure that the state didn't face shortage of food and fuel because of the strike in the Darjeeling hills.
Chamling also called on Union home minister Rajnath Singh and Jitendra Singh, the Union minister for development of the Northeast, and apprised them of the situation.

Tribal councils for 9 districts of Orissa

SUBRAT DAS, TT, Bhubaneswar, July 26: The state government of Orissa today decided to set up special development councils in nine tribal-dominated districts to ensure that the local inhabitants, including the endangered tribes, had active participation in decision making.
The decision, taken by the state cabinet today, aims to woo the tribal people, who constitute 22 per cent of the state's population. There are 62 tribal groups, of which 13 belong to the vulnerable primitive groups. They are spread over 44 per cent of the state's geographical area and form 10 per cent of the country's tribal population.
Announcing the cabinet decision, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said: "These councils will have representations from every tribe present in the districts. They will have decision-making powers and financial resources to preserve, promote and develop their unique socio-cultural identities and economic capacities."
Naveen admitted: "In a democratic system based on the majority, it is our experience that many small tribal groups do not get represented directly in higher decision making. It is in this context that the formation of these councils will be significant."
The councils will prepare plans and programmes for 117 blocks in nine tribal-dominated districts - for which Rs 1.5 crore will be spent every year for each of the blocks. These councils will take up cultural, educational and economic development in harmony with the unique identity and ethos of the people, said an official.
"These funds will be made available over and above the existing developmental and welfare schemes for the tribal people. All together, Rs 175.5 crore will be spent every year on these councils," said development commissioner R. Balakrishnan.
"This is an experiment. The programme would be strengthened further, basing on the response," he said.
The composition of the councils has not been finalised. "It will be notified by the government from time to time. These councils would have representation from every tribe present in the district, irrespective of the size of their population," said chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi.
At present, there are integrated tribal development agencies, district planning committees, zila parishads and panchayati raj institutions at the grassroots level for chalking out projects in the concerned areas.
Nine districts, where the councils are being set up, are Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur.

कोलकोताबाट फर्कियो सांस्कृतिक टोलि -पहल .......वृहत्तर एकताको निम्ति सामुहिक प्रयास हुनपर्छ – टिका भाई

डी.के.वाइबा,कालिमन्युज,कालेबुङ २६ जुलाई। ‘पहल सांस्कृतिक अभियानले’ जातीय मुक्ति संघर्षको पक्षमा अनि राज्य आतङ्कको विरोधमा कोलकोताको विभिन्न स्थानहरूको सांस्कृतिक प्रस्तुति दिएर पहाड फर्केका छन्।
पहलको 13 सदस्यीय टोलीले जाधवपूर विश्वविद्यालय, नदिया जिल्ला, हुगली लगायत अन्य ठाउँहरूमा गोर्खाल्याण्ड अनि यसको औचित्यमाथि कार्यक्रम गरेर फर्किएको हो। 
22 देखि 24 जुलाईसम्म भएको कार्यक्रममा टोलीले गोर्खाल्याण्ड गठनको औचित्यबारे बुझाउँदै गोर्खाल्याण्ड राज्य गठनलाई लिएर कलकत्ताका मानवअधिकारवादी एवं गणतान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूको विचार बुझ्दै अनि उनीहरूबाट गोर्खाल्याण्डको समर्थन बटुलेर पहाड फर्केका हुन्।
‘गोर्खाल्याण्ड न्यायसङ्गत माग हो। यस मागलाई दबाउनका निम्ति राज्य आतङ्क सक्रिय छन्। हामीले कोलकोतामा राज्य आतङ्क र न्यायसङ्गत गोर्खाल्याण्ड मागको औचित्य प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूलाई बुझाएका छौँ। प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूले गोर्खाल्याण्डको मागलाई खुलेर समर्थन पनि गरेका छन्’
पहल सांस्कृतिक टोलिका टिका भाईले भने।
कोलकोतामा रहेक वौद्धिक जमातका मानिसहरूले गोर्खाहरूको न्यायसङ्गत मागलाई अघिबाटै समर्थन गर्दै आएको कुरा त्यहाँ पुगेपछि थाह पाउन सकेको बताउँदै अब यस आन्दोलनलाई अझ वृहतर बनाउँनका निम्ति गोर्खाल्याण्डलाई समर्थन गर्ने शक्तिहरूलाई एकिकृत गर्नु आवश्यक रहेको पनि उनले बताएका छन्।
‘भारतमा गोर्खा जातिको राजनैतिक अनि राष्ट्रिय अधिकारका निम्ति प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूको आवश्यक्ता छ। अब कोलकोता लगायत देशका अन्य ठाउँहरूमा रहेका प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूलाई गोर्खाहरूको राष्ट्रिय अधिकार प्राप्तिको निम्ति गोलबद्ध बनाएर शक्तिलाई एकिकृत पार्नुपर्छ’ टिका भाईले अझ भने।
उनले सरकार प्रायोजित मिडियाहरूले गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनलाई कोलकोतामा अपव्याख्या गरिरहेको बताउँदै त्यस्ता अपव्याख्याहरूलाई बुझाएर सही व्याख्यान दिनुपर्ने आजका आवश्यक्ता रहेको पनि उनले बताएका छन्।
‘कलकत्ताका धेरै मानिसहरू अलग राज्यको आन्दोलन एउटा दलमाथि भ्रष्टचारको प्रश्न उठ्ने सम्भावनाको कारण उठेको हुनसक्ने संशयमा थिएछन्। वास्तवमा यो मिडियाद्वारा गरिएको झुटो प्रचारको प्रभाव हो। हामीले गोर्खाल्याण्डको वास्तविकतामाथि बुझाउन सकेका छौँ। यस्तै कार्य अरुबाट पनि हुनपर्छ’ उनले भने।
यसक्रममा कलकत्ताका धेरै बुद्धिवीजि, राजनैतिक-सांस्कृतिक कर्मीहरूले कलकत्तामा कार्यक्रम आयोजना गर्ने, उनीहरूको क्षमता अनुरूप साथ दिने भएको पनि उनले जानकारी दिएका छन्। ‘गोर्खाल्याण्डको समर्थनमा बङ्गाली समाजका गणतन्त्रप्रेमी वुद्धीजीवि, राजनैतिक-सांस्कृतिक कर्मीहरूको हस्ताक्षरसहितको पर्चा-पत्र तयार गरेर कलकत्ताको आम नागरिकहरूमा पुऱ्याउने जस्ता कार्यहरूका निम्ति उनीहरूले सहमति व्यक्त गरेका छन्’ टिका भाईले भने।
उनले छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनलाई सिर्जनात्मक पहल गर्दै उर्जावान आन्दोलन गर्नुपर्ने सुझाव पनि दिएका छन्। ‘हाम्रो शक्तिलाई सिर्जानात्मक बनाएर अघि बड्नुपर्छ। ध्वँसात्मक आन्दोलनले उपलब्धी हासिल गर्न गाह्रो हुन्छ। सिर्जनात्मक आन्दोलनले अझ थप प्रजातान्त्रिक शक्तिहरूलाई जोड्न सकिन्छ जसले लक्ष्य प्राप्तिका निम्ति सहज हुनेछ’ उनले भने।
गोर्खाल्याण्ड सम्बन्धि कोलकोतामा सांस्कृतिक प्रस्तुति दिएर फर्केका पहलका टिका भाईले यता राजनैतिक दलहरूलाई राजनैतिक माइलेज प्राप्तिको राजनीतिबाट टाडो बस्नुपर्ने सुझाव पनि दिएका छन्।
‘कुनै पनि राजनैतिक दलले पोलिटिकल माइलेजको निम्ति राजनीति नगरोस्, जनताको त्याग अनि बलिदानको सम्मान होस्। यहाँ एकार्कामाथि शंकाको दृष्टि राख्ने होइन तर वृहतर एकता निर्माणको निम्ति राजनैतिक दलहरूको सामुहिक प्रयास हुनपर्छ’ उनले अझ भने।

छैटौँ दिन अनशनकारीहरूको अवस्था चिन्ताजनक .... प्राण जाओस् तर राज्य लिनैपर्छ – अनशनकारी

डी.के.वाइबा,कालिमन्युज,कालेबुङ २६ जुलाई। गोर्खा जनमुक्ति युवा मोर्चाले सुरु गरेको आमरण अनशनले आज छैटौँ दिन पुरा गरेको छ। आमरण अनशनको छैटौँ दिन पुग्दा अनशनकारीहरुको अवस्था अझ चिन्ताजनक् बन्दै गएको छ।
‘हामी छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति मर्न तयार छौँ। सरकारले गोर्खाहरूको राष्ट्रिय परिचयको निम्ति गोर्खाल्याण्ड गठन गर्नुपर्नेछ। जबसम्म सरकारले गोर्खाहरूलाई न्याय दिँदैन तबसम्म आन्दोलन जारी राख्नुपर्छ। आन्दोलनलाई जारी राख्न अनि गोर्खाल्याण्ड निर्माणको निम्ति हामी हाम्रो अन्तिम श्वास रहेसम्म यस आमरण अनशन जारी राख्नेछौँ’ आमरण अनशनकारी राजु विश्वकर्मले भने।
तीनजना अनशनकारीहरू मध्ये अजित रोका अनि सागर दियालीको अवस्था अझ बिग्रेको छ भने राजु विश्वकर्मको पनि स्वास्थ्य दिन दिनै खराब बनिरहेको छ। यद्यपी आमरण अनशन सुरु भएको छैटौँ दिन पुग्दा समेत यता सरकारी पक्षबाट भने कोहि अनशन स्थलको भ्रमण गर्न आएका छैनन्।
‘हामी गोर्खाहरूलाई राष्ट्रिय परिचयको आवश्यक्ता छ। त्यो राष्ट्रिय परिचय केवल छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्डले मात्र पुरा गर्न सक्नेछ। हामी देशको रक्षा गर्नेहरूलाई अब देशले न्याय दिनुपर्छ। न्यायको निम्ति हामी प्राण त्यागेर सहिद बन्ने पछि हट्नेछैनौँ’ राजु विश्वकर्मले पत्रकारहरूसँगको कुराकानीमा भने।
‘ल्याण्ड इज् ल्याण्ड’ त्यहीँ कारण हामीलाई गोर्खाल्याण्ड चाहियो’ उनले अझ भने। उनले आमरण अनशनको छैटौँ दिन पुग्दा आफ्नो स्वास्थ्य धेरै बिग्रेको बताउँदै राज्य प्राप्तिको लडाँईमा अब सम्झौता गर्न नहुने पनि बताएका छन्। ‘हाम्रो प्राण जाओस् तर राज्य लिएरै मर्नुपर्छ। राज्य नपाएसम्म अब सम्झौता पनि गर्नु हुँदैन’ अनशनकारी राजु विश्वकर्मले अझ भने।
सोहिक्रममा यता अर्का अनशनकारी अजित रोकाले अनशनको छैटौँ दिन आफुहरूको स्वास्थ्य बिग्रेपछि अस्पतालबाट आएका चिकित्सकले झट्ट चिकित्सा लिने सुझाव दिएको बताउँदै आफुहरूले गोर्खाल्याण्ड राज्य प्राप्तिको निम्ति चिकित्सा नलिने प्रतिबद्धता जाहेर गरेका छन्। ‘हामीलाई दवाई होइन गोर्खाल्याण्ड चाहिएको छ। सरकारले हाम्रो माग के हो भन्ने बुझेर झट्ट निर्णय गर्नुपर्नेछ’ अनशनकारी अजित रोकाले भने।
‘बिहान अस्पतालबाट डाक्टर आएपछि हाम्रो स्वास्थ्य बिग्रेको कुराबारे जानकारी दिए। उनीहरूले हाम्रो शरिरको भित्र भागहरूमा धेरै समस्या देखा परेको भन्दै झट्टै दवाई लिने सुझाव दिएका छन्। पानी पिउँने आग्रह गरे। हामी गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति प्राण दिनेछौँ तर दवाई पानी लिनेछैनौँ’ अजित रोकाले अझ भने।
आमरण अनशनको छैटौँ दिन पुग्दा अनशनकारीहरूको स्वास्थ्य धेरै बिग्रेपनि पत्रकारहरूसँग कुराकानी गर्दा उनीहरूको अनुहारमा गोर्खाल्याण्ड राज्य प्राप्तिको आन्दोलनमा देखिएको उर्जा भने उत्तिकै देखिंंन्थ्यो। अनशनकारीहरूको मनोबललाई बढाउँन भेला भएका मानिसहरूलाई अझै उल्टा जोश भर्दै उनले भने – ‘अबको आन्दोलनले राज्य लिएर छाड्नुपर्छ। सम्झौताहिन आन्दोलनले लक्ष्य प्राप्ति गरेर सहिद बने आत्माले पनि शान्ति पाउनेछ।’
यसैक्रममा अर्का अनशनकारी सागर दियालीले पनि छुट्टै राज्य प्राप्ति नभएसम्म आन्दोलनलाई अघि बडाउने आह्वान गर्दै आफुहरू अन्तिम श्वास रहेसम्म आमरण अनशनलाई जारी राख्ने प्रतिबद्धता रहेको बताए। ‘अन्तिम लक्ष्य भनेको गोर्खाल्याण्ड हो। त्यहीँ लक्ष्य हासिल गर्न आज हामी मर्नलाई समेत पछि हटेका छैनौँ’ सागर दियालीले भने।
गोर्खा जनमुक्ति युवा मोर्चाले गत 21 जुलाईदेखि सुरु गरेको आमरण अनशनले आज छैटौँ दिन पुरा गर्दा तीनैजना अनशनकारीहरूमा छात्ति दुख्ने, भुँडी दुख्ने, निम्न रक्तचाप आदि समस्या देखा परिरहेको छ। उनीहरूको शरीरमा पानीको मात्रा कम्ति भएको कारण चिकित्सकले कमसेकम पानी पिउँने अथवा सलाइन लिने सुझाव दिए पनि उनीहरूले त्यसलाई अस्वीकार गरेका छन्।

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