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Hill people resent panchayat office boycott call

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 27, 2009

SILIGURI, 26 OCT(The Statesman): Common people in the Darjeeling Hills are feeling aggrieved with the indefinite panchayat office closure call from 7 November by the GJMM president, Mr Bimal Gurung. “The political leadership should devise some other means of continuing with the Gorkhaland crusade rather than paralyse normal official work, including the crucial panchayat functioning. Such indefinite closure call would land the common people in trouble affecting their day-to-day schedule,” is the common refrain.
Addressing a rally in Darjeeling marking the closure of the month-long cultural movement, Mr Gurung said that all panchayat offices in the hills would remain closed indefinitely from 7 November as part of the statehood movement.
Criticising the call, Mr Sukramoni Rasailli, a resident of Kalimpong, said that if enforced strictly, the panchayat closure call would incapacitate the people as far as collection of birth and death certificates were concerned. “Though the hills have no elected panchayat bodies for long, some semblance of work keeps continuing through the local administration. If the panchayat offices remain closed and that too for an indefinite period where would we go to register births and deaths? Though vehemently attached to the homeland cause we would appeal to the GJMM leadership to devise some out of the box ways through which the movement can be carried on while sparing the common people the trouble,” he said.
Echoing the same grievances, a resident of Darjeeling, Mr Amar Rai said that the common rural people would suffer much as the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act would remain stuck in course of the contemplated pancahayat closure. “The rural part of the hills looks forward to the NREGA implementation as a means to poverty alleviation. The hundred days’ work scheme has a potential to transform the rural under-development. It is a pity that the work would remain in limbo for an unpredictable length of time,” he added.
Another person from Kurseong said on conditions of anonymity that the GJMM leadership seems following the GNLF regarding lack of respect for the panchayat institution. “Mr Subash Ghising was against allowing the panchayat body to function independently. The same mind -set manifests in the GJMM diktats too,” he said.
Asked to comment on the grievances, the GJMM general secretary, Mr Roshan Giri said that such a step was an indispensable part of the popular movement. “The common people are rather happy with the declared course of movement including the panchayat closure call,” he claimed.


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