After a bitter and hard fought-Assembly election, the Gorkha Janmukti
Morcha and its rival, Jana Andolan Party, are now busy protecting their
support base and are on the path of agitation in the hills less than a
month after the poll.
Four days after the poll results were announced, the JAP started a
relay hunger strike at Tricone Park in Kalimpong from May 23 demanding
streamlining of water distribution system in town. The party has
threatened to intensify the protest if the problem is not resolved by
the public health engineering under the GTA and the residents are not
given water on a regular basis.
"We are likely to continue the dharna for some more time since the
administration has done precious little to resolve the problem," said
Nayan Pradhan, JAP secretary.
The JAP is at present holding meetings at block and village levels to chalk out its future programmes.
The Morcha, too, has decided to launch an agitation to demand land
rights to people living in tea gardens and cinchona plantations and
tribal status for 11 hill communities.
Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Janmukti Parcha-Patta
Sangharsh Committee, said: "We have decided to hold gate meetings in
front of all 87 tea gardens in the hills and in the cinchona plantations
on June 13 for an hour before the start work. This is the start of our
agitation and we will vigorously pursue our demand."
The Morcha's youth wing, the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, has also
decided to hold a rally in Darjeeling on June 2 to seek tribal status
for 11 hill communities.
"The rally will start from Darjeeling Motor Stand and wind its way to
Chowrastha," said Amrit Yonzone, the spokesman for the Yuva Morcha.(TT)
MP Surendra Singh Ahluwalia has written to the prime minister reminding
and urging him to confer the Bharat Ratna to Tenzing Norgay, the most
iconic personality of the Darjeeling hills whose 102nd birth anniversary
was celebrated on Sunday.
Ahluwalia evoked the prime minister’s
speech delivered in Sukna in 2014 where he had said Norgay has been one
of the most iconic and inspirational personalities of the nation. And
that the climber had been relegated to the background and his immense
contribution towards strengthening Indian identity was not recognised as
it should be.
The MP’s letter includes part of what
Narendra Modi said on April 10, 2014, “In your speech you said the
previous government did not bestow honour to Norgay thinking he was just
another guide/porter from the hills. You also said the demand of the
Gorkhas of not only the country but the
world over is to award Norgay with the Bharat Ratna.” The Darjeeling MP
urged the prime minister to play an instrumental role in ensuring Norgay
is conferred the prestigious Bharat Ratna and rectify the indifferent
attitude of the previous governments.
Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Sir
Edmund Hillary were the first to set foot on Mount Everest on May 29,
1953, a feat which at that time was unimaginable. It was after this that
the central government decided to establish the now famous Himalayan
Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.
The push to confer Norgay with the
Bharat Ratna started 20 years ago but lost steam as sportspersons were
outside the purview of this highest civilian award. However, in a
landmark change in 2012, the UPA government placed an amended bill and
got it passed, thus bringing sports personalities in the ambit of the
award. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was the first to be conferred the
award even though the names of Norgay and hockey legend Dhyan Chand had
cropped up as potential recipients.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the
Sherpa community too are demanding the Bharat Ratna for Norgay. The
movement gained momentum in 2015 when NASA named the first discovered
mountain in Pluto as ‘Norgay Montes’. “I make a plea on behalf of all
Gorkhas living in the country that our national hero should be awarded
the Bharat Ratna. This will recognise the service, hard work and
dedication of the Gorkha community towards the nation,” GJM president
Bimal Gurung said in a press statement.
The Gorkhaland Territorial
Administration has also written to the Centre seeking to rename Bagdogra
airport and National Highway 55 after the legendary climber and to
install his statue in Parliament’s premises. NH55 is the primary link
joining the hills to the plains.
Norgay has been awarded with the George
medal and Coronation medal by the British government, the Iran Shah
Medal and the Nepal Tara and Nepal Pratap Vardak awards. The Indian
government has honoured Tenzing Norgay (also known as Tiger of the
Snows) with the Padma Bhusan. (EOIC)
year after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the Darjeeling tourism
scene appears positive as this year’s peak season has ushered in
visitors, both locals and foreigners, in scores.
Last year’s quake had shaken Darjeeling
too and its tourism sector experienced a steady slump. As repeated
tremors were felt throughout the region, hotel bookings saw wholesale
cancellations and almost every tourist retreated to the plains.
According to Pradip Lama, secretary, Darjeeling Association of Travel
Agents (DUTA), most tourists frequenting the Darjeeling-Sikkim-Nepal
circuit and primarily hailing from Odhisa, Maharashtra and Gujarat had
had to cancel their bookings as fears of impending tremors persisted.
The peak tourism season in Darjeeling
begins from the second week of April and continues well into the third
week of June. Tourist footfalls this year have surged to the highest
compared to the last three to four years. Most hotels are booked to
their capacity, and are confident of enjoying 70-80 per cent occupancy
even after the third week of June. Lama says it is getting difficult for
him to provide vehicles at subsidised government rates, now that demand
for such vehicles is at its maximum.
At the premier Darjeeling Planters’
Club, all the rooms have been booked for the entire month of June.
According to an employee there, room bookings at the Club did see a
decline after the earthquake, but gradually picked up pace in June-July.
This year, despite incessant rains and the recent elections appearing
to play spoilsport, there has been a rise of 25-30 per cent in bookings.
The owners at Chandulals, a shawl store
near Chowrasta that mainly depends upon tourists, are all smiles.
According to them, shawls are being bought on a mass scale this year as
opposed to last year.
Further, many tourists have decided to
extend their stay in Darjeeling ever since most parts of north Sikkim
became inaccessible following the collapse of the Iron Bridge at Rel
Nepal government has for the first time invited Indian journalists for a
familiarisation trip to promote the hill areas of Mechi zone in eastern
Nepal's Cultural, Tourism and Civil
Aviation Ministry has commissioned a six-day trip for journalists
working for media houses in Siliguri, Kolkata and Gangtok. The trip,
organised by the Mechi Hill Area
Tourism Development Committee, Ilam
starts on June 1 from Kakarvitta in the Nepal border where more than 20
Indian journalists, including some tourism industry stakeholders, will
be welcomed by a Nepalese delegation.
Raj Basu, the convener of Association
for Conversation of Tourism (ACT), and co-coordinator for the Indian
team, said the trip is a first for Indian scribes who will be visiting
the mesmerising and picturesque
hills in Mechi zone. The trip starts
from Kakarvitta and cover Antu Danra, Ilam, Pachthar, Phidim, Taplejung,
Phungling Bazaar, Pathivara Temple, Suketar, Hilehang, Kalpokhari and
many other interesting places.
Basu said the Nepal government planned
the familiarisation trip after the successes of the Indo-Nepal
Friendship Meet 2015 and the Asian Rural Tourism Festival.
Indian journalists will also get an
opportunity to meet their counterparts from Nepal based in remote hill
areas. The will trip include trekking, 4W Land Rover drive, interaction
with various communities of the hills, participation in local cultural
fests and visits to tea gardens. The farewell programme will be held on
June 6 at Kakarvitta. (EOIC)
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's three MLAs viz. Dr. Rohit Sharma, Sarita Rai and Amar Singh Rai takes oath in Nepali Language - दार्जीलिङ पहाड़का तीनजना विधायकहरू क्रमैले श्री अमर
सिहं राई( दार्जीलिङ), डा. रोहित शर्मा (खरसाङ) अनि श्रीमती सरिता राई
(कालेबुङ)-ले आज विधानसभामा विधायकको रूपमा आफ्नो मातृभाषा अर्थात् नेपाली
भाषामै शपथ ग्रहण गरे।
20 अगस्त 1992 सालमा नै भारतीय सविंधानको
आठौं अनुसूचिमा अन्तर्भुक्त भइसकेको नेपाली भाषामा नै शपथ ग्रहण गरेर आफ्नो
मातृभाषालाई सम्मान अनि गरिमा प्रदान गरेकोमा म तीनैजना विधायकहरूलाई बधाई
व्यक्त गर्दछु। नेपाली भाषाको प्रयोगलाई लिएर गोरखाल्याण्ड क्षेत्रीय प्रशासन अघिदेखि नै निक्कै गम्भीर रहेको छ। जीटीएको अधिकारक्षेत्रमा रहेका कार्यालयहरूमा धेरै अघिदेखि नै नेपाली भाषालाई सरकारी तौरमा प्रयोग गरिदै आइरहेको छ भने प्रधानमन्त्री, मुख्यमन्त्रीलगायत अन्य मन्त्री तथा विधायकहरूलाई पनि जीटीएले नेपाली अनि अंग्रेजी भाषामा पत्राचार गर्ने गरेका छन्।
आज विधानसभामा नेपाली भाषामा विधायकको रूपमा शपथ ग्रहण गरेर पहाड़का
तीनैजना विधायकहरूले नेपाली भाषाको उच्च सम्मान राखेका छन् भने यो क्रमलाई
निरन्तरता दिँदै दार्जीलिङ पहाड़का समग्र विद्यार्थी, शिक्षक, अधिकारी,
कर्मचारीलगायत सबैले आफ्नो मातृभाषालाई नहिच्किचाइकन प्रयोग गरेर यसको
प्रतिष्ठा अनि सम्मान बनाइराख्ने पनि म आह्वान गर्छु।
youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it will hold a mass
rally on June 2 to push for the demand of granting Scheduled Tribe
status to the 11 communities of the Darjeeling hills and the plains of Siliguri.
The Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM)
rally will start from the Motor Stand area from eleven in the morning
and end at Chowrastha and everyone has been asked to support the demand.
The GJM has been demanding tribal status for 10 communities from the
hills and one from the Dooars area. The communities from the hills are
Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami, Yakha (Dewan) and the plains community is the Dhimal.
The Morcha got a boost to its demand
after Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed it during an election
campaign for party candidates in the north Bengal region recently.
Earlier this year a committee was also formed by the Union Ministry of
Tribal Affairs to examine and make recommendations.
“The PM has given a positive response to
our demand. A committee has also been formed by the central government.
It must be remembered that we are demanding for ST status and
therefore, we must take proactive steps to pursue the issue,” said
Sanjeev Lama, the GJYM general secretary, today.
The state government too had recommended
the inclusion of the 10 hill communities under the tribal status
category. At present, the Bhutia, Sherpa, Yolmo, Lepcha and Tamang come
under the Scheduled Tribe status. The Bharatiya Gorkha Janjati Sangarsha
Mahasangh (BGJSM), an umbrella organisation of the communities
demanding tribal status, too has been pursuing the issue with the
central government. After the Centre’s initial nod to look into the
issue, the Mahasangh has started a mass signature campaign to garner
support and make people aware of the demand.
“We Gorkhas have faulted on many
occasions with our various demands because of disunity. But the time has
come to work together and take forward this demand to its end,” said
Amrit Yonzon, the youth front’s spokesperson. (EOIC)
May 30 will witness a march from Tinchulay (Lopchu-Peshok area) to the
BDO Office in Takdah to revert attention towards the plight of single
women of the area as also to submit a memorandum to this effect.
The march is being organised by the Ekal
Mahila Shakti Sangathan of the Lopchu-Peshok area with support from
women empowerment bodies such as Sappho for Equality (Kolkata), AJWS
(American Jewish Welfare Society) and Hill Social Welfare Society
The Ekal Mahila Shakti Sangathan
comprises widowed, unmarried and divorced women of the Lopchu-Peshok
area, who are all clubbed together as single women.
Inspired by the National Single Women’s
Movement which first started in Rajasthan, it works towards mobilising
and organising single women so as to lay resonance on their demands and
collectively work towards providing them a better life. The Sangathan
also strives towards removing the stigma that society attaches to such
As Dr. Paromita Chakraborty, principal
investigator in this case and professor at Jadavpur University puts it,
“They are single, but not alone.”
According to Shubhagata Ghosh, the
founder of Sapho For Equality, this body works towards the upliftment of
sexually marginalised women by mobilising them and enabling them to
demand for their rights on an individual basis. Sappho for Equality has
identified Darjeeling and Kolkata as the two areas with the highest
concentration of single women in West Bengal.
However, so far, the response from
Darjeeling has been more gratifying, with local women gradually assuming
leadership in order to voice their demands.
Two such women, Harka Rai and Anu
Chettri from the Lopchu Peshok area have spoken about the presence of
several such single women in their area. With their children married,
not only do they lack people to depend upon, but are also deprived of
pensions, BPL and ration cards and other government benefits.
According to its members, the Ekal Nari
Shakti Sangathan has empowered them by providing them a pulpit from
which they can be noticed after years of being overlooked by society and
being relegated to its hind quarters. In light of such issues,
tomorrow's march will demand access for single women to various
government schemes and also spread awareness about their maltreatment.
It calls upon not only single women but every individual who empathises
To mark the 102nd birth anniversary of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa today in Darjeeling, which also happens to be the day he conquered Mount Everest, two programmes were organized
in separate venues where the need to confer Norgey with the Bharat Ratna
award was highlighted.
A grand programme was held at the
premises of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in the morning hours
followed by another programme at Chowrasta.
The morning programme was organised
jointly by the HMI and the United Sherpa Association near Norgay's
samadhi and statue, while the Chowrasta event was hosted by the
association and the information and cultural department of the
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
United Sherpa Association vice president
P.T. Sherpa said, “The demand for conferring the Bharat Ratna to
Tenzing Norgay is being raised since the year 2012 and we strongly feel
he should get the award as he is an internationally renowned figure.”
It is well known that Norgay had a close
association with Darjeeling and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
After Norgay and Hillary summitted Everest on May 29, 1953 the HMI was
established and Tenzing Norgay appointed the field director of training.
He also remained as advisor to the institute till his death on May 9,
1986 in Darjeeling.
Among the various awards Norgay has
received include the Padma Bhushan and the President's award.
International recognitions include the George Award from the United
Kingdom along with the Coronation Medal of Queen Elizabeth among various
other awards from several countries.
GTA Information and Cultural Department
Sabashad in-charge Binay Tamang said, “Tenzing Sherpa is not only the
pride of Darjeeling and the hills but also the country. We feel he
should be conferred the Bharat Ratna and the Darjeeling MP has also
raised the issue in Parliament. GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung had
also written to the home minister regarding this matter and now we feel
organisations from all walks of life should write to the prime minister
Jamling, Norgay's son, who is also an
Everester, said, “My father put India on the global map when it had just
achieved its freedom. He is recognised everywhere for reaching the
summit of Mt. Everest for the first time.”
The Sherpa Association also wants the HMI and Bagdogra airport named after Tenzing Norgay and May 29 declared a state holiday.
HMI principal Gulshan Chadda said, “We
as an institution also want the Bharat Ratna award to be awarded to
Tenzing Norgay and we have in the past written to the government
regarding this. Tenzing Norgay was a great man and people should learn
from him qualities like perseverance and patience. In recent times a lot
of accidents have been taking place in Mt. Everest but people should
stop saying it is a killer mountain. Those who attempt to climb it
should take this message from Norgay’s life. He made seven attempts
before finally succeeding in conquering the mountain.
It is not that if you have money you can
book an agency and make the attempt. Prior to that, one should take
mountaineering courses and make themselves fit and prepared as Everest
is no ordinary mountain.”
The programme at the HMI saw people from
different walks of life paying homage to Norgay by offering wreathes
and ‘khadas’ (traditional scarfs) at the samadhi and the statue. At the
felicitation programme at Chowrasta, four Everesters were honoured and
they included Kusang Sherpa, who has summitted Everest five times, in
1993, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2003. The others included Dorjee Lhatoo, Nima
Norbu Sherpa and Jamling Norgay, who scaled Everest in the year 1996.
Family members of Trishala Gurung and Sulaxana Tamang, the two girls
from Darjeeling who recently made the summit of Everest, were also
Sabhasad Tamang said the GTA will make
the event an annual affair and more Everesters would be felicitated in
the coming years. He added that a statue of Nawang Gombu, the first man
Everest twice, would be erected at the
Mall road area. Gombu climbed Everest with American mountaineer Jim
Whittaker in 1963 and then again in 1965 with Captain A.S. Cheema.