KOLKATA: After his name was struck off the electoral list due to prolonged absence from Darjeeling constituency, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung on Friday feared that common Gorkhas will lose their voter cards too and urged them to protest against the move.
In a press release from an unknown location on Friday, the pro-Gorkhaland leader stated that the removal of the names of GJM leaders and their families from the electoral list was the beginning of an exodus of Gorkhas from West Bengal similar to that of Northeast in 1980s.
"The filmsy grounds, on which our names have been removed, should be protested against by every Gorkha. If we do not do so today, then that day is not far when one by one all Gorkha names may be similarly removed. When Gorkhas were driven out of various parts of northeast India in 1980s, this is how the process had begun," he said.
Former Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chief and GJM president Bimal Gurung and party general secretary Roshan Giri's names were struck off the voters list in Darjeeling on Wednesday due to their prolonged absence from the region. Both are absconding since the beginning of the 105-day Gorkhaland agitation in June last year. Calling the move as 'against the ethos and essence of democracy', he vowed to fight it out in the courts. "We will fight against this illegal attempt at subverting democracy through the courts," he added. Terming the move as 'racist' and 'colonial', the GJM leader compared the removal of names from electoral list with that of African-Americans and Latino Americans and indigenous South Africans during Apartheid regime.
"Suppression of voting rights for the minorities is an established colonial practice. To this day, white supremacists in America routinely remove names of African Americans and Latino voters, depriving them of their democratic rights. During apartheid, coloured South Africans were similarly deprived and discriminated against by white supremacists. Removal of our names from the voters' list is just a manifestation of a similar racist and colonial mentality exhibited by the West Bengal government," he added. Apart from Gurung and Giri, some 100 people were sent notices during the revision of the voters' list and were summoned to present their case. However, both the GJM leaders and their families failed to turn up.