The indefinite hunger strike initiated by the Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT) against the implementation of hydro electric power projects in Dzongu, North Sikkim has attained 100 days today.
ACT has dedicated this achievement of having reached 100 days to the future generations of Sikkim and for those whose voices are unheard and are subjugated.
ACT along with the Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim and the Sangha of Dzongu have at the same time hailed the peaceful means of protest as a sign of victory.
In fact, along with the hunger strike, the Nye-sol prayers, which have been the concurrent façade with the ongoing strike has also reached the 100th day, perhaps creating record as the longest ever prayer ceremony among the Buddhist rituals. Through the Nye-sol prayers, the Lepchas, who are the nature worshipers sought to propitiate the local deities and plead for peace and protection.
Today, at the backdrop of the Nye-sol shrine, a Bongthing (Lepcha priest) from, nearby Ranka performed Rum Faat before beginning any works.
For the vanishing tribe, who left their home behind in Dzongu and came to BL House in Gangtok to protest against the government is seen as a clear indication of their endeavour in safeguarding their only reserve in the world.
With the entry of hydel projects in Dzongu, not only the Lepcha reserve but a part of the Khangchendzonga National Park is “straightaway seen as the violation of the constitution,” the Lepchas maintain.
In the course of the indefinite hunger strike, 280 Lepcha men and women participated and lighted nearly 8000 candles.
Moreover, even as the Lepcha hunger strike has reached the 100th day, nothing concrete had come from the part of the government, notwithstanding three rounds of official talks and twelve correspondences between the ACT and the State government.
Even the newly formed Review Committee hinted on implementation contradicting ACT’s demand for complete scrapping of project from the Lepcha reserve has been rejected and termed by the ACT as arbitrary.
But the protest in the words of Tseten Lepcha, Chief Coordinator, ACT will be renewed all over again with the same demand of scrapping all hydel projects in Dzongu.
The Lepchas have become heroes in their role. Though their 100 days of hunger strike is yet to reap the fruits in the State, it is evident that the Lepchas in their venture to save their land have managed to raise the issue of hydel projects worldwide.
More importantly, the 100 days of hunger strike saw youngsters like Gyatso Lepcha and Mayelmit Lepcha, hell bent upon preserving their land not only for themselves but for the future generations let alone the role of Tenzing and Dawa Lepcha.
On the occasion, the ACT also thanked all the opposition political parties, social organisation including Citizen Forum and Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee and environment organisation like Kalpaviriksh, etc for their wholehearted support.During a press conference held today afternoon, the ACT also felicitated the media fraternity with khadas and thanked them for the unbiased coverage as well as requested for continued support