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Morcha - JAP on agitation path

Bimal Vs Harka Bahadur
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 writes to Centre seeking Bharat Ratna for Tenzing Norgay

Darjeeling MP Surendra Singh Ahluwalia
Darjeeling 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)

Darjeeling tourism seeing better days

Darjeeling Toy Train or Himalayan Railway
A 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 Khola.(EOI)

Nepal government invites Indian journalists for familiarisation trip

Indian Journalists
The 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.
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 MLAs takes oath in Nepali Language

Hill MLAs Dr Rohit Sharma, Sarita Rai, Amarsingh Rai
MLAs Dr Rohit Sharma, Sarita Rai, Amarsingh Rai
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।

With input from - Bimal Gurung Official

Rally for Scheduled Tribe status to 11 communities in Darjeeling

Rally for Scheduled Tribe status to 11 communities in Darjeeling Siliguri
The 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 Bhujel,
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)

March for single women's rights from Tinchulay to Takdah BDO office

March for single women's rights in Takdah
Monday, 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 (Kalimpong).
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 women.
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 with them.(EOI)

Tenzing Norgay Sherpa 102 birth anniversary in Darjeeling

Tenzing Norgay Sherpa 102 birth anniversary Darjeeling
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 regarding this.”
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 felicitated.
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 to climb
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. (EOIC)