Thursday, March 31, 2011

SDF calls 48-hour bandh to leverage 31 demands

GANGTOK: The Sikkim Democratic Front has called a 48-hour Sikkim Bandh on 04 and 05 April. The bandh will be effect from 6 AM of 04 April to 6 AM of 06 April. The party has called for all shops, offices and schools to remain closed for the two days. This has been called to press for a set of 31 demands with local protection by way of employment taking up most of the points while also included are demands pending with the Centre.
Ambulances, medicine shops, milk transport vehicles, press, Fire Department, Police, armed forces and paramilitary traffic, court and garbage vehicles and class X and XII board examination students have been exempted from the purview of the bandh.
Addressing a press conference today, SDF spokesperson, Bhim Dahal, explained that the party was compelled to take up this “strong democratic weapon” in the interest of the local people and to press for their rights and aspirations.

This step has been taken in continuation of party’s move against private industrial units in Sikkim which continue to sideline local interests while hiring personnel.
Out of the 31 demands listed to explain the need for the bandh, 28 demands relate to local employment issues, insisting that be given to local candidates in various jobs and other opportunities opening in the private and central government organisations in the State.
Mr Dahal stated that even in his two meetings with the private companies which have invested in the State, the Chief Minister had directed them to abide by the MoUs in which they have undertaken to provide priority to local people in various opportunities created in these units.
“But these units have not been working earnestly in favour of the local people even though the MoUs require them to do so. Locals are only being hired through labour contractors and are being denied their rightful dues,” he stated.
He underlined that the strike was to press for these demands because the people have been suffering for too long and the party wants to solve these problems in a peaceful way.
Vice-president, All Sikkim Democratic Labour Front, BM Ramudamu, in turn informed that on 03 February, the ASDLF had served an ultimatum to the companies which has gone unheeded, necessitating the bandh call now.
Mr Ramudamu stressed that if these companies still did not take these issues seriously, then the party would go in for even stronger steps in future.
The demands mainly seek that priority be given to local candidates even in various central departments, banks, industrial units, hydel projects, hotels, show-rooms and shopping malls in the state.
The SDF is also demanding that the services of all local employees in the private industrial units and hydel projects be regularised and that no favouritism be allowed in salaries and other benefits between local and employees from outside the State, who are reportedly receiving better emoluments in most cases for the same jobs.
The party has further demanded that the practice of using labour contractors be stopped immediately and local employees be enrolled directly with the company as regular and that employees from outside the State replaced by locals in abidance with Rule 4 (4), which incidentally extends only to government employment.
It has also demanded that the Employment Exchange (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act 1959, Labour Compensation Act and Minimum Wages be implemented in all industrial units and hydel projects in Sikkim.
The party has also demanded that employment be provided to the next of kin of employees who die in harness and that the EPF process be made more convenient by opening an EPF office in Sikkim.
It has also demanded that the tenders issued by different industrial units here be conducted in the State to provide full opportunity to local contractors, that they also establish warehouses inside the state and hire only local drivers.
The party has also demanded that every unit establish health centres and schools and offer employment only to locals in C and D categories.
Also included in the list are the demands for immediate reservation of seats for Limboo and Tamang communities in the State Assembly, tribal status for all others as well and Income Tax exemption for the old settlers.


  1. Who are they trying to fool??? They are the RULING PARTY and they have the power to make any unit or organisation toe their line. Is it not the Government that gives permissions for starting the various units and industries cant the Govt tell these units when their license is approved that they are to hire only locals and other stipulations that the Govt wants met!!! This Bandh is against its own CM who is made to look like a non performing one!!1

  2. First of all this whole concept of a "bandh" defies any form of logic, or a semblance of a functioning Government. Let us analyze and delve a bit deeper into this phenomena that has crippled our neighboring state of Bengal.

    We have a bunch of thugs that stand at various locations to ensure a total shutdown of all activities and services. I, a common citizen pause and look at these people who suddenly seem to posses a sense of power and an aura of invincibility and ask myself a few questions. Is this legal? If so, then can I as a common citizen hire a few "bhatus" and declare a bandh as well? If not, then shouldn't the state law enforcement people arrest these people and allow the functioning of day to day activities. It then dawns upon me that the root of this menace is EDUCATION or the lack of it. I have come to this conclusion based on my reasoning. Which is. The groups that usually have the clout and manpower to enforce a bandh are political parties, wether it be in Sikkim, Bengal or any part of India. These parties are controlled by leaders who are either in power or were once in power or who have a high probability of coming to power. The final clincher. Who chooses these leader? Being a democracy - that responsibility lies with the people of which the majority are still illiterate who get easily swayed and influenced into thinking that such acts of shutting down all activities is the proper and correct path in obtaining something that they basically do not completely apprehend or appreciate.

    So I can only look upon the people enforcing the bandh and give my tacit approval as well for for in our parliamentary democracy the "people" have spoken. My only concern is does the judiciary's role in our democracy get diminished as the Executive branch tramples upon the rights of the minority ( me included ) who do not subscribe to the views of the majority.

  3. Dear Padma,
    Of course you as a common citizen can declare a bandh but be assured, nobody will heed it. Be it in India or across the world, the only civilised and yet effective way of registering a protest has been bandhs. So please leave out 'education or lack of it' out of this. In fact the people of Sikkim seem to be maturing in methods of expressing dissent. This is a path breaking move on the part of the ruling govt. lead by our dynamic CM.
    But, if you ask me for my honest opinion, this move is quite uncharacteristic of our CM. On one hand he projects himself as a progressive CM on the other hand he is seen calling bandhs, which are quite obviously anti-industry. This apparent dichotomy may not serve his image any good but his popularity among the masses has certainly been preserved for some more time. This is important especially in the light of the fact that somebody younger and more popular (by rumour) is waiting on the wings oust him. Thus in the days to come there will more and more populist announcements in the offing and I don't understand you and I should complain. Enjoy the bandhs- play cricket on the road, watch tv, read a good book...and stop worrying about being a self reliant dreaming is not allowed on bandhs.

  4. Dear Sikkimese,

    Like i said earlier I must bow and respect the views of the majority as should be in a democracy. Interestingly even my milkman shares your outlook and feels I should not worry about our state being self reliant as money will continue to flow from Delhi.

    Let's apply logic. Bandhs = time to read a good book, watch tv, play cricket and free time with no worry about our state being self reliant. Therefore 365 days of band = 365 x Good times. Hey I say let's have bandhs throughout the year.

    I must come out of my stupor.

  5. Dear Padma,
    This is simply a case of the milkman being wiser than the buyer of milk. The wise heads who sold our motherland to India struck a wonderful deal. The bargain was- free flow of money into the state with least amount of accountability attached to it. So you see we (some of us at least) are reaping the benefits of an extremely profitable deal we made three decades back. Which is why the monitoring of the public money that flows into the state is done in a manner which is perfunctory at best and disinterested at worst.

    And lady, everybody must bow down to majority. Even if the majority comprises the bored, the ignorant, the pliant, the opportunists and the like.

    So my suggestion to you is, GET MORE WISDOM FROM UR MILKMAN.

  6. Dear Sikkimese,

    You seem to be contradicting yourself. On one hand you say you support the bandh to right the wrong of our Sikkim. However as you have stated " The wise heads who sold our motherland struck a wonderful deal and allowed a free flow of money into the state with least amount of accountability. Hence if everything is hunky dory then why the need for bandhs?

    The argument is not wether we have benefitted being a Sikkim subject, which I agree I have as well, but the validity of such a form of protest.

    So if you agree the majority is ignorant, how do we make them not ignorant. EDUCATION is the key my friend

  7. Dear Padma,
    Allow me to begin by debunking a notion that you have just expressed. It is not lack of education which begets ignorance. It works quite the opposite. It is the educated people who assume that they know and need to know no more, who are most ignorant.
    Coming back to the bandh, madam, Sikkim govt. can use no legal machinery to enforce maximum employment of local youths by the private industries in Sikkim. Such a directive is simply unconstitutional. The only recourse the govt. has is to throw its weight around like it by calling the bandh. So Madam, you may echo sentiments of other 'educated' Indians against the merit of calling bandhs but you forget the manner in which the industries operating in Sikkim function. The only reason they are here is because Sikkim offers them tax holiday, subsidies and so on. Yet they choose to ignore the repeated plea of the state govt. to recruit maximum locals. What else do you think the state is supposed to do but hit them where it hurts the most.


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