“This is a very big gesture from our part. We expect similar gesture from the CM”
GANGTOK, August 21: Dawa Tshering Lepcha and Tenzing Gyatso Lepcha today withdrew from the indefinite hunger strike after nearly two months.
Seated crossed legged at the hospital bed here at Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital here, the two hunger strikers burst into tears when Sonam Paljor Denjongpa, offered them with the first drop of fruit juice.
Prior to this, Mr Denjongpa, a Buddhist scholar and himself known for attaining 30 days of hunger strike in protest against the Rathong Chu hydro-electric project offered some healing prayers and garlanded both the Lepcha protestors with a khada.
Prayers and khadas were also offered by Athup Lepcha, President ACT followed by other members of the organisation, Sangha, members from Concerned Lepchas of Sikkim and a retinue of well wishers.
The duo, who has a major chunk of land under the planned Panan hydro-electric power project, had initiated the indefinite hunger strike on June 20 protesting against the government to scrap all hydel projects in Dzongu and to review all power projects in Sikkim.
Even on the 63rd day of the indefinite hunger strike, both Dawa and Tenzing Lepcha who have become very weak said, “Though we have called our hunger strike today, we will continue our fight till our demands our fulfilled.”
They said that they had called off the hunger strike “on the personal request of the Chief Minister” and that the sanctity of Dzongu will be maintained at any cost.
The strike is also called off taking into consideration the “serious health conditions of the duo” as well as advised by the highly revered Rinpoches and suggestions from well-wishers. “We are seriously concerned about the health of the two man and we cannot accept more than this from the two boys,” said members of ACT.
ACT members have also expressed optimism from the CM’s assurance. Answering to queries from the Press, Tseten Lepcha, Chief Co-ordinator said, “This is a very big gesture from our part. We expect similar gesture from the CM.”
However, following the “direct appeal” sent by the Chief Minister from New Delhi, a meeting was called by the ACT yesterday where in they resolved to request the two “Satyagrahis to withdraw the ongoing indefinite hunger strike”.
According to the ACT, this is the first time that the chief minister has personally appealed them to call off the hunger strike. They also maintained that they have not met the chief minister since December 12, last year. “Several requests to stop the hunger strike hitherto were made by the chief secretary on behalf of the government,” said Sherab Lepcha, General Secretary, ACT.
“Both Dawa and Tenzing are deprived from the hunger strike but relay hunger strike and other modes of protest will continue till we get our demands fulfilled,” maintained Pemzang Tenzing, Secretary (Publicity), ACT.
Meanwhile, ACT has set aside all other statements made by the chief minister, including that of upholding hydel projects in Dzongu and has taken the recent request as a completely renewed stance from him.
Reacting to the query made by the press regarding political parties chipping in support for their cause, ACT members said “We expect any kind of support from any individual, organisation or a political party.” ACT also maintained its stand as an apolitical party which supports no political party.
Doctors said that both Dawa and Tenzing Lepcha will be kept under observation for two days. They will be able to take in food only from the third day onwards