April 25, 2009

Memo Given to the Election Commission on the Situation in Darjeeling

April 25, 2009
Shri Navin B. Chawla
Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India
Nirvachan Sadan
Ashoka Road,
New Delhi
Dear Shri Navin Chawla,

I was recently in Darjeeling to address an election meeting of the CPI(M) candidate on April 21, 2009. Such a meeting could be held after some years due to the fact that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha spearheading the movement for a separate `Gorkhaland' had created an atmosphere of fear and terror threatening any one opposing them of grave consequences if they held any political rallies in the hills.

I wish to complement the CEC also for creating an atmosphere which has permitted the possibility of holding such meetings.

You will recall that I had met you and your colleague Shri Quraishi on April 7, 2009 and handed over a memorandum requesting the CEC to take certain measures to ensure a free and fair election in these hills. I had also submitted a CD recording an inflammatory speech of Shri Bimal Gurung.

During the course of my visit, various sections of the people had brought to my notice many instances of terror that may prevent the conduct of a free and fair election. I am summarising some of the major suggestions that I had received.

I would be grateful if the EC could give a serious consideration to the following.

1.The EC must immediately launch a more intense campaign with wider reach to assure the people that their votes would remain secret. This is imperative to dispel fears that the voters could be identified subsequently and harassed/attacked etc.

2.CRPF should be deployed as early as possible in the hill areas and flag marches undertaken to restore voters' confidence
3.The Gorkha Land Personnel (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.

4.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.

While complementing the EC for the conduct of election so far, I am sure that these suggestions would be seriously consider to further improve the conduct of free and fair elections.

With regards,
Yours sincerely

(Sitaram Yechury)
Copy to:
1)Shri S. Y. Quraishi, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi
2)Shri V. S. Sampath, Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India, New Delhi

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