Relay fasts start on low note

– Parishad claims tribal opposition to GTA cry

May 3: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the dissident faction of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad launched relay hunger strikes in the plains today, but the event turned out to be a damp squib on Day 1 itself because of the low attendance at the venues of the agitation.

The month-long fasts are being held under the banner of the Joint Action Co-ordination Committee to press for the inclusion of the Dooars and Terai in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Besides the Morcha and the rebel faction of the Parishad led by John Barla, the committee has 24 outfits.

The committee had announced that the hunger strikes would be held in front of all police stations in the Dooars and Terai. But no permission was given for the agitation in front of the police stations and the fasts were launched at only seven places, where the Morcha has considerable influence.

The number of participants at each venue was five to 10 — a considerably low turnout, taking into account the scale of agitation the Morcha had carried out in the past. Groups of five to 10 people sat for hunger strikes either in front of Morcha offices or on roadsides. The fasts are being held in Leesh River tea garden, Kalchini, Birpara, Chamurchi and Madarihat in the Dooars and Panchnoi off NH55 and Salugara off NH31 in the Terai.

The Parishad said the agitation was confined to the Morcha-dominated areas only. “This is more than enough to prove that the adivasis in the plains are opposed to the ongoing agitation by the Morcha and John Barla to demand the inclusion of the Terai and Dooars in the GTA. They (Morcha and Barla) had announced elaborate plans for the hunger-strikes and always insisted that the tribal people were with them. However, they could not mobilise many people today,” said Rajesh Lakra, the general secretary of the Terai-Dooars regional committee of the Parishad.

Lakra said the Morcha should now realise that John Barla no longer wielded influence among the adivasis in the plains. “The hill party should stop the futile exercise of trying to entice the tribal people. It is better that they concentrate on expediting the formation of the GTA that is limited to the present Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council area. The high-powered committee (formed to look into territorial jurisdiction of the GTA) should also take note of the ground realities.”

Contacted in Darjeeling, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said John Barla, the convener of the Joint Action Co-ordination Committee, would speak on the relay hunger strikes. “John Barla would say whatever has to be said on the agitation,” said Giri.

Many Morcha leaders The Telegraph spoke to expressed disappointment over the low-turnout at the hunger-strikes. “Barla could not mobilise the people in the Terai and the Dooars in support of our renewed agitation led by Bimal Gurung since April 22. We had put Barla in charge so that he could mobilise and sustain the agitation. We have to find out what led to the flop show,” said a Morcha leader.

The Joint Action Coordination Committee called a bandh in the plains after it had been denied permission to hold a meeting at Nagrakata on April 22.

Barla and other frontline leaders of the dissident Parishad faction like Sukra Munda and Raju Bara, did not respond to repeated calls made on their mobile phones throughout the day.

A leader of the Barla faction who didn’t want to be named admitted that the turnout was low on the first day of the agitation. “We could not get our act together today and we are hoping that the response will pick up in the next few days,” the leader said.Courtesy:TheTelegraph.

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Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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