Saturday , March 01, 2008
Kolkata, February 29
Your movement began with the protest against remarks made by a radio jockey about the Gorkhas when Prashant Tamang won the Indian Idol contest. Does the Tamang episode have anything to do with your current agitation?
You can say that the Tamang episode was the flashpoint. It made very clear how Gorkhas are viewed. It was so humiliating for us. It also showed that neither the Bengal government nor Subhas Ghisingh did anything for the development of the hills.
Can you please elaborate it?
What did the government do for setting up of new schools? How many new roads were constructed? look at the water situation there. It’s terrible. The government had announced a project worth Rs 40 crore for water supply, 15 years ago but it was never implemented. The ills have been simmering for long. And the Prashant Tamang episode stoked the fire there because it was so humiliating for us.
What are your immediate demands?
We have already made them clear. Ghisingh will have to step down (as the caretaker administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council). The Sixth Schedule for the DGHC has to be scrapped.
What is the reason behind raising these demands
First, Ghisingh is the root cause of all the ills plaguing the hills. DGHC is absolutely corrupt and inefficient. The people of the hills have been deprived of the taste of a good life. In fact, Ghisingh has become a CPM party cadre.
He has lost ground from under his feet. Under no circumstances shall we allow him to enter the hill so long as he remains the chairman of DGHC. Once he resigns from the post he can enter there.
Why don’t you want Sixth Schedule for the DGHC?
What do I get from that? Our ultimate goal is statehood for Darjeeling. And, in fact, by imposing the Sixth Schedule you are trying to divide us.You are making all of us tribals, while tribals form only 31 per cent of the population there. Even Ghisingh opposed it in 1987. But now he has lapped it up for the lure of power and pelf.
Do you have the support of the people?
You come to Darjeeling and see for yourself. There are Bengalis, Biharis who were born and brought up in the hills and they have joined the ongoing hunger strike. There are Muslims too. The people of the hills are all united in their fight for justice.
Does it mean achievement of Gorkhaland?
I have already told you. Our ultimate goal is Gorkhaland. But it will be a democratic and non-violent fight.