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Disappointed, but all is not lost: Bimal Gurung on SC verdict

Bimal Gurung on SC verdict
A DAY after the Supreme Court dismissed Bimal Gurung’s plea seeking transfer of cases lodged against him and his colleagues “to an independent investigation agency”, the ousted GJM leader on Saturday said that while he was “disappointed” with the decision, all was not lost. In a video released from an undisclosed location, Gurung said in Nepali: “I am addressing my Gorkha brothers and sisters, who have patiently waited all these days. The SC verdict passed yesterday was disappointing. But I appeal to all not to lose heart. I respect the verdict given by the court. However, I want to state that all is not lost and this was not the last resort available to us. We still have other options and we are working on it. We should not lose our belief and confidence.”

Gurung’s former colleagues — now members of the Binay Tamang faction of GJM — as well as other Gorkha parties such as the GNLF, had on Friday said that the SC decision was the final nail in Gurung’s coffin and that he would be unable to recover and rejoin Darjeeling’s regional politics. While claiming that those left in the Gurung faction are now looking to jump ship, general secretary of GJM’s Tamang faction, Anit Thapa, had pointed out that Gurung and his supporters have lost mass support in the last six months.

Reacting to these statements, Gurung said, “I know 80 to 90 per cent of our people support the demand and are still with me. The rest are working under fear and threats. I have not worked against the will of the people. So there is no need to be afraid.”

Maintaining that they are not terrorists or anti-nationals, he added: “It was at the request of the Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) that I lifted the strike after 105 days and requested the central government to organise a tripartite meeting. This is an issue of identity, therefore, it needs a political solution. We are not terrorists or anti-nationals. We are only seeking solution to the identity crisis we experience. We have always respected the law, the Constitution and the judiciary. We have to maintain peace and have patience.”

Referring to the inspector in charge of Darjeeling police station allegedly threatening a GJM supporter, Gurung said the conversation “reflects the politics of violence being played by the government of West Bengal”. “I have not given up and will continue to work for our community. I have not been dishonest… and will never be. I will martyr myself for the cause but I will never deceive my people and community,” he added.

After SC's rejection, Bimal Gurung pins hope on Union govt

Suprme court order on Bimal Gurung
Darjeeling: The day after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung failed to get any reprieve from the Supreme Court, the Gorkha leader decided to pin his hope on the Union Government to bail him out from the present crisis.
In a video clip from an undisclosed location, Gurung addressing his followers asked them to keep calm and be patient. "This is not the end of the road. There are other doors too. I had lifted the 105-day bandh on the request of the Union Home Minister and his assurance to hold tripartite talks within 15 days. Tripartite talks have not been held yet," stated Gurung.
He then urged the Union Government to call tripartite talks immediately. "We are an ally of the BJP, the NDA. The government should immediately call a meeting between the Union, West Bengal Government and GJM. A political solution needs to be worked out. We are not terrorists or working against the country. We are facing an identity crisis. Hence, we are asking for our rights in a democratic manner. We respect the law and the courts," stated Gurung.
Gurung, who is booked in 58 cases under various sections including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act claimed that all the arson, looting and unlawful activities during the agitation period and the 104-day bandh in 2017, were the handwork of the police and district administration.
"I have not sold myself and will definitely work for the liberation of the Gorkhas. I will never sell my community. If required I will lay down my life for the Gorkhas" stated Gurung. On Friday, the Apex Court allowed the State police to proceed against Gurung along with dismissing his plea.

Gurung and his party are our alliance partner, says Dilip

state BJP president Dilip Ghosh
Kolkata: A day after the Supreme Court rejected elusive Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung’s plea for relief from arrest, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh has claimed that there were only an alliance and electoral understanding with him and his party.

Distancing himself from Mr Gurung he made it clear that the BJP would not be responsibile for any other issue.

Asked about the state BJP’s stand on Mr Gurung Mr Ghosh on Saturday said, “The BJP does have any stand because the matter is pending at the court. Mr Gurung and his party are our alliance partner. So an electoral understanding is in place with them. When the election comes, we meet to decide who will support whom and where.”

He added, “Besides their party and its functionning are different from ours. There is no other responsibility on our part.”

Significantly it was Mr Ghosh who had rallied support behind Mr Gurung when the latter was booked in many cases of violence by the police during the unrest in Darjeeling.

He had even accused the Mamata Banerjee government then of falsely implicating the GJM chief.

Meanwhile, Mr Ghosh alleged that the non-BJP governments were taking credits of the central welfare schemes.

“The central government is working for the people. It has announced 100 projects and released funds with an eye on the funds’ utilisation so that the common people can get the benefits,” he said.

Mr Ghosh complained, “The work is underway in those states where our party is in power. But in those states where other parties are in power they are either not running those projects or running them only after changing their names.

Binay rivals seize on SC blow

Bimal Gurung - Binay Tamang
Darjeeling: The Supreme Court's denial of relief to Bimal Gurung has churned political equations afresh in the hills, with his Gorkha Janmukti Morcha rivals signalling that the verdict means the end of road for the erstwhile party chief.
The entrenched Binay Tamang camp today held a meeting at Patlebas, about 5 kilometres from town, and the village that house Gurung's residence and his party office. Party sources said that the meeting held in a community hall just 50 meters from Gurung's residence, which has been locked for months, was symbolically important.
"The meeting was specially held with those people who were still in a state of confusion over the turn of events," said a Morcha source.
Binay Tamang in his first reaction after the Supreme Court's order on Friday was more direct. "After the Supreme Court's order, the political existence of Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri has been wiped off."

The Supreme Court dismissed Gurung's writ petition seeking for transfer of cases to independent agencies not under the control of state government and providing anticipatory bail and had also alleged biasness against the state government.
Tamang said that the apex court's ruling vindicated his stand. "We welcome the court's order. The court order is a clear indication that Bimal Gurung was trying to create unrest in the region while I along with Anit Thapa was working for peace."
Explaining his decision to rebel against Gurung, the Morcha president said: "People were dying; the hills were in turmoil and in doldrums. I took the decision to save our people, our community. Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri tried to portray us as anti-people, anti-community and anti-Gorkhaland, which is untrue."
Tamang said: "Those who are with him (Gurung), it is time to rethink. You can also return. Let us save Darjeeling and let us make our place better and we need your support."
Sources maintain that many leaders who were with Gurung are contacting leaders of the Binay camp since last evening. Yogendra Rai, a former GTA Sabha member, also called up media persons in Kurseong to extend support to Binay-Anit camp.
Perhaps rattled by the rapid development in the hills, Gurung today circulated a video message on social group. "I request all not to lose hope. This is not the end and there are other legal forums," he said.
However, it is not clear if there is any legal forum left for Gurung.

The Telegraph

Darjeeling Rising Star-Cash pours in police talent hunt for hills

Darjeeling Rising Star-Pahari Pratibha Ko Khoj
Darjeeling: Darjeeling police has set the stage to host the most prized talent contest with the police announcing a prize money of Rs 22.44 lakhs for a singing and dance competition.
The amount announced for the winners of the Darjeeling Rising Star-Pahari Pratibha Ko Khoj makes it the biggest contest in terms of monetary awards in the region's history.
Siddharth Dorji, deputy superintendent of police, (Darjeeling town) said: "We have decided to increase the prize money of the competition and the total amount for the winners of the competition will be Rs 22.44 lakhs."

There are two categories, one for competitors of the age-group of 10-17 and the other for 18-32 years in both the singing and dance competition of Darjeeling Rising Star.
Earlier the amount for the winners of the senior category had been fixed to Rs 1.01 lakh while the first and second runners-up were to get Rs 51,000 and 31,000, respectively. "The amount has been increased to Rs 2.5 lakhs, Rs 2 lakhs and 1.5 lakhs for three top position in the senior category," said Dorji.
The winner in the junior categories were to get Rs 51,000, while the second and third participants will get Rs 31,000 and 11,000. "In the junior categories the top three will get Rs 1.5 lakh, Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000," said Dorji. The seven other finalists will get Rs 10,000 to Rs70,000.

The Telegraph

West Bengal govt to focus on promoting Darjeeling tea

Darjeelng tea plantation during gorkhaland bandh
Kolkata, March 17: The West Bengal government will look to focus on promoting Darjeeling tea as a luxury offering.

According to Vandana Yadav, Managing Director, WBIDC is already working on plans where it can promote tea from some gardens as premium brands and a luxury offering.

“We are working on promoting Darjeeling tea in a major way. Right now it is sold in bulk. We would look to position it as a premium or luxury offering,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the annual regional meeting of the eastern region of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

According to Yadav, there are some 30-odd brands that can be positioned and promoted as a luxury offering.

The focus on promoting Darjeeling tea comes after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha – the most predominant party in the Darjeeling hills – called for an over 100-day shutdown last year. This severely affected tea production in the region leading to supply shortages in global and export markets.

Darjeeling tea already has a GI tag and a specific logo. The unique ‘muscatel' flavour of the Darjeeling teas is preferred by tea-drinkers. A GI tag covers agricultural products and food stuffs which are closely linked to the geographical area, with at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation taking place in the protected area.

Around 8 million kg of this premium agricultural produce is grown on the slopes of the eastern Himalayas in some 87 gardens spread over 17,500 acres. Apart from EU nations like Germany, Japan and US are the important export markets for Darjeeling tea.

According to Yadav, the state government will look at facilitating B2B meetings and other activities that would facilitate better access to markets. Asked for specific details, the senior bureaucrat said branding plans are being worked out. 

His career finished, impossible for Bimal Gurung to make comeback

Bimal Gurung in tension as his political career may be finished
The political career of Bimal Gurung, leader of one faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), seems to be hanging in the balance in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict as there are now very few straws left for him to clutch at — he either has to return to Darjeeling and surrender before the police or continue hiding. Several GJM leaders, once loyal to Gurung, allegedly made calls to the rival GJM faction led by its president Binay Tamang, expressing their wish to join the fold. The rival faction is now commonly called the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binay Tamang) camp.

General secretary of the rival faction Anit Thapa said that he has been receiving calls from GJM leaders and cadres in Gurung faction after the verdict. “We have been receiving calls the whole day. I won’t take any names, but some of the calls we have received are from some big GJM leaders. They now want to join us. We have decided to induct all the leaders and GJM cadres who want to join this faction. At the end of the day, this is the same party, just with different thought process and leaders. They had supported Bimal Gurung all this while, it was an emotional connect, and we understand their feelings,’’ he said. Thapa added that the people have, over the past few months, been turning more towards their faction as the only alternative that could fulfil their dreams of a separate Gorkhaland. “This verdict has swayed the situation in our favour. The sympathisers they (Gurung and his group) had among the public, too, now have no option. This works to our benefit and is good news for us,’’ he said.

Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) spokesperson Neeraj Zimba said that for all practical purposes, Gurung is finished in the Hills. “Legally, there is only one option left for him now. To return to Darjeeling, surrender before the police and face trials for all the cases lodged against him or continue to remain underground. There are so many cases against him that politically I think it is impossible for him to make a comeback. Bimal Gurung may be synonymous with the GJM, but he is not synonymous with the Gorkhaland movement, which is a people’s movement. The ground reality is that Gurung’s supporters and sympathisers are few at this point in time. Even during the agitation, he was physically absent,’’ said Zimba.

Talking about the Gorkhaland agitation, Zimba said the Supreme Court verdict has taken the wind out of the movement’s sails. “At this present moment, as things stand, a separate Gorkhaland state does not seem possible. But, we are still looking for a viable political solution to the problem of Darjeeling,’’ he said.

The verdict is a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who did not react to it. It has unequivocally placed her in the strongest position in north Bengal. Mamata’s main rival in the Hills, the GJM, has irrevocably split and she has placed Binay Tamang at its helm. For the BJP, which has been slowly making inroads into the state’s political space, the verdict is a spoiler. “S S Ahluwalia (BJP’s Darjeeling MP) had extended his full support to Gurung. We will have to see what political stand he will take in the Hills after this. The verdict also most definitely affects the BJP’s chances in the Hills as Gurung’s GJM was their main ally. A vacuum has been created and other players will come to the fore now,’’ said Zimba. The climb-down for the Hill parties has been so rapid that none of them are even now demanding a tripartite dialogue with the state and the Centre any longer, he said. “There are bipartite talks now. There will no longer be tripartite talks,’’ added Zimba, whose own party had been demanding the involvement of the Centre along with the other political parties. Political analysts in the Hills opined that the verdict has thrown the people “into a great deal of uncertainty”.

“Everything will now depend on how the Centre plays its cards. Will they continue to back Gurung? Or will they give him up? If they do give him up and not support the cause of Gorkhaland, there will be no sympathy left for the BJP in the Hills. This will not only affect the districts of the Darjeeling Hills but its implications will be seen across Jalpaiguri all the way to Cooch Behar, where the BJP has been making inroads,’’ said analyst and Darjeeling resident Upendra Pradhan.

Pradhan added that the vacuum in the Darjeeling hills was also due to the fact that the Binay Tamang faction did not really command huge support from the locals. “The faction is seen as being installed by the state government. The reality here is that nobody likes the TMC or anybody who is seen hobnobbing with the Bengal government. Having said that, the 15 development boards set up by Mamata Banerjee is now likely to work in her favour more than ever unless the BJP makes the right moves,’’ said Pradhan.

Demonstrations Which Create Disturbance To Public Not Protected Under Article 19(1):SC

Justice AK Sirki - Ashok Bhushan
Supreme Court of India on Friday observed that demonstrations are also a mode of expression of the rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and the demonstrations whether political, religious or social or other demonstrations which create public, disturbances or operate as nuisances, or create or manifestly threaten some tangible public or private mischief, are not covered by protection under Article 19(1).

“A demonstration might take the form of an assembly and even then the intention is to convey to the person or authority to whom the communication is intended the feelings of the group which assembles. From the very nature of things ademonstration may take various forms; “it may be noisy and disorderly”, for instance stone-throwing by a crowd may be cited as an example of a violent 37 and disorderly demonstration and this would not obviously be within Article 19(1)(a) or (b)”, said the Bench.

The Bench comprising Justice AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan made the above observations in the Judgment by which it dismissed a petition filed by the President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha praying for transfer of investigation of all First Information Reports lodged against the petitioner and other members of GJM, to any independent investigation agency. “It is clear that Article 19(1) (a) and (b) gives constitutional right to all citizens.freedom of speech and expression which includes carrying out public demonstration also but public demonstration when becomes violent and damages the public and private properties and harm lives of people it goes beyond fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19(1) and becomes an offence punishable under law”, the Bench added.

Explaining the scope of Article 19 of the constitution of India the bench noted that Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees some of most important fundamental rights to the citizens.“Article 19 protects important attributes of personal liberty. Right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and the right to assemble peaceably and without arms as protected by Article 19(1)(b) are the rights which in reference to the present case have importance. The right of freedom of speech and expression coupled with right to assemble peaceably and without arms are rights expression of which are reflected in carrying demonstration on several occasions. Freedom to air once view is the life line of any democratic institution. The word freedom of speech must be broadly construed to include right to circulate once view by word or mouth or through audio visual instrument. Right of public speech is one form of expression which is also a part of freedom of speech and expression”.

Demonstrations Which Create Disturbance To Public Not Protected Under Article 19(1):SC...

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Demonstrations Which Create Disturbance To Public Not Protected Under Article 19(1):SC...

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Supreme Court of India on Friday observed that demonstrations are also a mode of expression of the rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and the demonstrations whether political, religious or social or other demonstrations which create public, dis...

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