(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 26, 2009
THE Bengal unit of the CPI(M) has expressed its worries over the developments of a divisive and sabotaging nature taking place in Darjeeling under the direct guidance and leadership of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). It has written two letters to the chief election commissioner in this regard.
Below we quote the relevant portions of the two letters dated April 19 and 20, 2009.
“We draw your attention to the serious situation prevailing in the three hill-subdivision assembly segments of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong under the 4-Darjeeling parliamentary constituency, conditions that would surely prevent free-and-fair polling on April 30, 2009.
We may say that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and its electoral partner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are hell-bent on not allowing any electioneering and/or political campaigning by our Party in particular. Indeed, you may kindly note that the process of election itself is being distorted by these two political parties (i.e., GJM and BJP) to the detriment of democracy, peace, amity, and solidarity.
The GJM is engaged seriously at all levels to target the religious and linguistic minorities. The GJM has several times forced the minorities to take part in processions that the GJM has organised. The threat hangs ominously in the air that nobody would be allowed to vote against the GJM-supported BJP candidate from the 4-Darjeeling constituency, especially in the hill sub-divisions.
The GJM has most recently asked the two organisations that they run viz., Hotel Workers’ Association, and Taxi Drivers’ Association to boycott all supporters of the CPI(M) candidate and they have forced the issue that no hotel rooms and no vehicles would be made available to any supporters of the CPI(M) candidate, thus crippling our election campaign considerably and in a most undemocratic manner which is also in contravention of the Constitutional proviso.
The GJM as part of its threat technique has publicly pronounced that since they would know who voted for whom, they would initiate appropriate measures against those who do not vote for the BJP candidate.
The GJM has kept ready a trained ‘police force’ that they call the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) at the ready at Gorubathan in the hill area and these trained men and women, supervised by ex-Army instructors are to be deployed in the polls, the GJM has publicly declared, 15 per booth, and the apparent aim is to terrorise the voters into voting for the BJP candidate. They have also declared that no CPI(M) agent would be allowed to do his/her duty at the polling stations.
Even more serious, the election personnel of Darjeeling are tutored to work in favour of the BJP candidate, and mock training is being provided to the election personnel by the GJM workers so that the official and other personnel persuade the voters to vote only for the BJP candidate. This is just a mockery of democracy.
In the same vein, the Assistant Returning Officers (AROs) including the SDO Siliguri himself is engaged in filing false and fictitious FIRs against CPI(M) workers. They also brief the media saying that the CPI(M) is the greatest violator of the model code of conduct while flooding the different police stations with bogus complaints against the CPI(M) without checking the veracity.
In view of the above, we demand the following steps should be initiated immediately:
Para-military forces should be deployed right now and flag marches organised so that the voters regain confidence.
Polling personnel should be deployed from both the hill and the plains area. Employees from the plains too must be deployed as polling supervisors, and close circuit camera should watch out for malpractices within booths during polling.
Sector officers should carry hidden video recorders while each booth should be manned by CRPF personnel.
The GLP training camps at Gorubathan should be dismantled and legal action if any deemed necessary taken against the organisers of the camps.
The present system of decentralised counting should be rigorously adhered to instead of the proposed centralised counting at Darjeeling.
In its second letter, the Bengal CPI(M) wrote:
“It has come to our knowledge that more than 400 members of the Gorkha Land Personnel (GLP) have been identified as carrying out arms training at Gorubathan near the border with Bhutan. They are being trained by former Army instructors, and they wear olive green camouflage fatigues like the Indian Army.
These GLP personnel have been seen threatening voters to support the BJP candidate when the time comes for exercising their franchise. They have also been engaged in tearing down flags, banners, and festoons of the CPI(M) in the three hill sub-divisions.
In view of this, we demand:
CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters’ confidence.
The GLP camp at Gorubathan must be immediately dismantled and proceedings drawn up as per the law of the land against all the personnel involved in the camp, as trainers, trainees, and administrative. Please ensure that no civilians are allowed to wear/use Army fatigues.
The CRPF should be maintained beyond the date of the election, April 30, 2009, to prevent post-poll violence that we apprehend, and to keep pre-poll peace that the people desire.
Other measures as appropriate for a free, fair, and peaceful polling in the three hill sub-divisions should be initiated and as early as possible. (….).”
The response of any kind from the office of the CEC or Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) is yet awaited as we file this report.