A special Draft Proposal by CPI(M), Darjeeling District Committee in the context of the special situation of Darjeeling
We examine the context and propose following demands on the question of Gorkha Identity, which is a long standing issue in Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas.
The movements in Darjeeling hills have demanded for the inclusion of Nepali language in the VIII schedule of Indian Constitution, and also the regional autonomy within the state of West Bengal.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) played an important role this.
There was also the movement to form a separate state, splitting West Bengal on which CPI(M) always had a different stand point.
CPI(M) wants the identity of Gorkhas and other ethnicities as well as tribes to be protected, and their culture and languages to be developed further.
There are problems in the thickly inhabited populace in Darjeeling hills areas pertaining to their language, socio-economy, education and culture. These are quite different from those of other places of the state in the plains. At the same time the hills have their unique character too.
CPI(M) and the Left parties are aware of these genuine issues. Since 1950s, they have consistently demanded for constitutional safeguard for Nepali language, socio- economic rights of the Tea Garden workers and a Regional Autonomy in the hills with enough powers within the state of West Bengal. Movements around these demands have also yielded achievements of significant importance.
CPI(M) does not consider problems of Darjeeling as one of law and order. Rather, it takes the matter as a serious political problem that deserves a political solution. CPI(M) understands the strong and deep-seated ethnic sentiments behind the Darjeeling crisis. People of this region have an aspiration for self-autonomy and a desire for advancing their standard of living.
Thus, to honour these aspirations and desires, CPI(M) is trying to identify the inherent democratic content of these movements and reiterates its support and sympathy for the same.
CPI(M) does not believe in narrow, political exploitation of the aspirations and emotions of the people. It believes in the integrated movement of people from all ethnic sectors and circles on linguistic, cultural, educational and socio-economic demands.
In this context, CPI(M), Darjeeling District Committee is keen and sincere in proposing the following demands before people of Darjeeling Hill Area and adjoining region in order to address Darjeeling issue as narrated above.
1. 1. Communist Party of India (Marxist) wants a High Power Autonomous Council within the State of West Bengal within the existing area of GTA. This should have constitutional recognition and safeguard. This body will also be accountable to public and hold responsibility to ensure democratic compliance of a good administration.
2. CPI(M) would propose to amend Article 244 or VIth Schedule of the Constitution of India to form a high Power Autonomous Council. This will have economic and administrative power as well as the power to create law in transferred subjects. The Autonomous Council will have safeguard to act independently on transferred subjects.
3. CPI(M) would propose to amend the Constitution of India in the spirit of GTA agreement to enact a three-tier Panchayat system. Similarly, Municipal system will also remain in existence. Both the subjects will be legally under the control of the proposed Autonomous Council.
4. The jurisdiction of the proposed Autonomous Council will be the present boundary of GTA. Inclusion or removal of any new area will be on the basis of discussion, consensus and mutual acceptance.
5. There will be system for expenditure details of the Central and State funds being placed before CAG audit and State Legislative Assembly following the proper rules and regulations.
6. The subject of extension of tax benefits in Darjeeling Hill or Autonomous land like states of North East and Sikkim will be raised before the Government of India.
7. There will be separate Planning Committee, Public Service Commission, School or College Service Commission for the proposed Autonomous Council area.
8. In addition, every official work will be done in Nepali language in the proposed land.
9. The Autonomous Council will have special powers to take necessary steps for the socio-economic development of the people belonging to various ethnic groups, tribes, or backward classes residing in Darjeeling hilly areas.
10. The different sources of tax collection in this region will be in the hands of the Autonomous Council as transferred subjects.
11. Separate University, Medical and Engineering College, Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary Educational Council in the proposed Autonomous land will be set up.
12. Proposals will be sent to the Central Tribal Commission for recognition of few other ethnic groups as official Tribal communities.
13. Special attention will be given to create new Sub Divisions and Blocks in hill area.
14. The Autonomous Council will have the power to issue land patta (land usage right) to workers and non-workers residing since long in the Government land of Tea and Cinchona plantations. Similarly initiatives will be taken to solve the problem of homestead land of the forest villagers.
15. Appropriate initiatives will be taken for rejuvenation of agriculture, Tea industry, Cinchona industry or Dairy industry (especially HIMUL) in the hill region. An exclusive Auction House will be set up for Darjeeling tea.
16. Demands will be placed before the Government of India to declare Nepali speaking people as Linguistic Minority at the national level.
17. Proposals will be placed before the Government of India to form a high power expert committee to chalk out ways and means to resist land slide, find regular water sources and to solve some other prominent problems of hilly terrain.
18. There will be a representative of the proposed Autonomous Council in State and Central Planning Commission, National Integrity Council and Hill Areas Development Committee.
19. A long term plan will be prepared for the Darjeeling Hill area. More departments and effective power will be transferred except law and order, administration and the judiciary.
20. Initiatives will be taken for mapping of natural resource in the hill region.
21. Proposal will be sent to the Delimitation Commission to create a suitable and separate Parliamentary Constituency for the Darjeeling Hill Area.
April 14, 2014