Daily Call to Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee & Co. from Kanchanjunga – please come ‘if you want to’ to our invigorating ‘season of toil’ from the ‘humid sloth’ of Bengal …

In Kanchenjunga's Serene Lap - "Toiling just for the love of simplicity" (Photo by Live Tours)

Dear Esteemed Readers of Himal News,   

If you, or anyone you know, would  also like to send invitations to Bengal’s Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee & his Government with Photos of Kanchanjunga – please email them to himalgroup@hotmail.com on jpg format. Your contributions will be displayed here with your captions –    

Thanking you in anticipation of your contributions….

The Editor,
Himal News.
 

FROM SHEEM NEWS SMS HEADLINES

Kalimpong, March 30, 20:46:15 HRS: Ajay Dahal, UGRF Chief produced before ACJM Court, Kalimpong, and later sent to 14 days judicial custody today.

EARLIER

Kalimpong, March 29, 20:43:36 HRS: GJM held meeting with Central/State’s Secretaries in Delhi n demanded, inter-alliance, inclusion of proposed set-up in N-East council.

Kalimpong, March 29, 20:43:36 HRS: Branch of SBI opened in Pedong

BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH

Minister convoy kills one

Siliguri, March 30: A 58-year-old farmer succumbed to his injuries at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital today after he was hit, allegedly by agriculture minister Paresh Adhikary’s convoy last evening.

Naren Roy, a resident of Dhapganj, on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri, was pedalling home from a market. “He was on his bicycle when the third car of the minister’s convoy hit him from behind on the Jalpaiguri-Haldibari road,” said Gopal Burman, a witness. “It was one of the police vehicles that was not part of the three-car convoy which took him to the Jalpaiguri district hospital.”

Naren was shifted to the NBMCH where he died around 6.30am. Senior police officers said efforts were on to arrange for compensation for his family. The minister, who was returning from a farmers’ meeting at Haldibari, refused comment saying: “I am in the Assembly in Calcutta.”

Life sentence

Calcutta: The high court on Tuesday commuted the death sentences passed by a fast track court in Jalpaiguri in September 2008 to life imprisonment. A division bench comprising Justices A.K. Banerjee and K.K. Prasad passed the judgment on the grounds that there was no direct evidence against Gandhidevi Jadav and Shyam Jadav, who were accused of murdering the former’s husband Bisheshar Jadav, at Baikunthapalli in Bhaktinagar on December 9, 2005.

Road mishap

Siliguri: Barkatullah Siddique, 43, and Md Said, 24, were killed when the car they were travelling in rammed into a truck parked along NH31 near Bagdogra on Monday. Police said Siddique, a resident of Purnia, and Said from Muzaffarpur, died on the spot. Another person travelling in the car suffered minor injuries.

Run over

Islampur: Basanti Das, 55, a resident of Barodia near Chakulia, was run over by a truck on Tuesday. Police said the vehicle had knocked down Das when she was crossing the road. The driver has been arrested and the vehicle seized.

Sanyasi accused of murder

Burdwan, March 30: A sanyasi today allegedly hacked to death a 15-year-old boy after being teased about his relationship with a sanyasini who runs an ashram in a Burdwan village.

When villagers alerted by 15-year-old Sukdeb Mondal’s screams for help landed at the ashram, the sanyasi was said to be standing with a blood-dripping bonti and the boy was lying at his feet.

At Bikehat village in Katwa, about 160km from Calcutta, a mob went berserk after that, beating up the sanyasi, setting ablaze parts of the ashram and stoning police.

The sanyasi, Shyamal Biswas, 28, was rescued by the police and arrested. “He has confessed to the murder. He told us that Sukdeb frequently teased him over a romantic relationship between him and the woman who ran the ashram. When Sukdeb teased him again this morning, he took a bonti from the kitchen and killed him,” said subdivisional police officer Jyotirmoy Roy.

The Class IX student’s father Shyamal Mondal, a marginal farmer, has lodged a comp- laint alleging that the sanyasi murdered his son after the boy saw the man in a compromising position with the sanyasini. “We have detained the 36-year-old sanyasini for interrogation,” said district police chief R. Rajsekharan.

A sanyasi called Sukdeb Brahmachari had founded the ashram about 50 years ago.

UGRF President Ajay Dahal arrested in Gangtok, brought to Kalimpong – alleges ‘coincidence’ or ‘deep conspiracy’ ?!!

UGRF Founder Ajay Dahal briefly speaks to the press before being bundled into The Kalimpong Court Rooms (Photo from KalimNews by Samten)

 

From our Special News Correspondent  

Kalimpong, March 30, 2010: United Gorkha Revolutionary Front (UGRF) Founder Ajay Dahal was brought to Kalimpong yesterday amidst tight security and presented at the Kalimpong Court today to face multiple charges levelled against him here.   

Ajay Dahal was kept overnight at the Kalimpong Police Thana and will be kept in remand at the Kalimpong correctional facilities till his hearing lasts.   

Speaking to the press at the brief interludes between the Kalimpong Thana, the Kalimpong Hospital, where he had to go for a medical check-up and before entering the court, Ajay Dahal alleged that his arrest could be a coincidence or otherwise a ‘deep conspiracy’ by the Centre.   

In the local TV broadcasts, one of the three local channels expressed reservations and misgivings about Dahal’s alleged criminalities and found similarities between his arrest and that of  Chattrey Subba, who is still languising in a Jail, in the plains of Siliguri, without any ‘conviction’.  

The fact that The Telegraph has kept mute over the UGRF and Ajay Dahal issue with no posts in todays paper (March 31, 2010) – is strangely interesting.  

EARLIER   

UGRF Founder arrested in Gangtok, Sikkim   

09 Feb 2010: Founder of the United Gorkha Revolutionary Front (UGRF), who was wanted by Darjeeling police in ‘murder and arms cases’, was arrested by Sikkim police at Gangtok today with arms.   

Police said they had received information that a person was roaming around in the South-West districts private stand near Police Headquarters at Gangtok in a suspicious manner.   

At around 1300 hrs, a police team was sent to verify the information. The team arrested the said person after a country made revolver and three cartridges were recovered from his luggage.   

The person was later identified as UGRF president Ajay Dahal, said police who have registered a case under Arms Act at Gangtok Sadar police station.   

Since Dahal was wanted in some cases in Kalimpong subdivisions of West Bengal, the Kalimpong police were informed. A team led by Kalimpong police station in-charge has already arrived in Gangtok.   

As of now, Dahal is arrested under the Arms Act 1959 by Sikkim Police but if the West Bengal places requisition request, he is likely to be handed over to Kalimpong police for the cases pending against him, it is informed.   

Interrogations were on till late in the evening today by both the West Bengal police and the Sikkim police.   

Dahal, a former Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel had raised the UGRF on November 21, 2004 at Kalimpong and had received immediate attention by splashing posters in Kalimpong with his call for an armed struggle for the creation of a separate State of Gorkhaland.   

He was the president of All Gorkha Students Union (AGSU) unit of Kalimpong prior to floating URGF.   

In the posters, the UGRF called for an armed struggle for Gorkhaland, as peaceful movements had failed to achieve it.   

The URGF shot to notoriety due to its alleged involvement in the murder of a GNLF supporter Yohan Singh Lepcha in Kalimpong on October, 2006. Ten members of UGRF had been arrested but Dahal was absconding and gone underground till now. Recently, Dahal was believed to have been in Sikkim and was issuing press statements to the local media here.   

In his press statements, Dahal had of late been threatening Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung over the Gorkhaland issue.   

HOWEVER

Gurung blames Chamling for arrest of UGRF chief

FROM SIKKIM EXPRESS  

KALIMPONG, February 10: The arrest of Ajay Dahal by Sikkim police expectedly spilled over into neighbouring Darjeeling region with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung blaming Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for the arrest of the United Gorkha Revolutionary Front (UGRF) chief.  

“It is the conspiracy of Chamling to have Ajay Dahal arrested,” said the GJM president in an interview to a local news channel here. He did not elaborate further.  

Commenting on the recent Supreme Court order over the NH 31A blockade petition, Gurung reiterated that his party respects the order of the apex court. “We would not block the highway but if any incident happens along the highway then we would not be responsible,” he said.  

Gurung said that the highway blockade issue was a small matter which could have been resolved through dialogue between Sikkim and his party. “At least there should have been a table talk keeping in view of the blood relations that Sikkim and Darjeeling people share with each other instead of approaching New Delhi over the highway issue,” he said.  

“Chamling should have supported the Gorkhaland movement keeping in view of the blood relations between Sikkim and Darjeeling people,” Gurung added. 

During the interview, the GJM chief said that there used to be no major problems with Sikkim during the 80’s Gorkhaland agitation by GNLF president Subash Ghisingh. The then Chief Minister of Sikkim, Nar Bahadur Bhandari had extended full support to the Gorkhaland agitation, he said.   

MUCH EARLIER in 2006   

UGRF claims responsibility for murder of GNLF leader   

FROM THE STATESMAN   

SILIGURI, Nov. 14, 2006: United Gorkha Revolutionary Front (UGRF), an extremist outfit of Darjeeling Hills, has finally claimed responsibility for the recent murder of Yonsing Lepcha, a GNLF leader. 

Lepcha, it may be recalled, was killed by unidentified persons on 24 October at his residence at Lower Santuk in Kalimpong’s Algarah gram panchayat area.   

The UGRF has issued a Press release, claiming responsibility for the murder. They alleged that Lepcha was against their movement and helped the police to arrest their cadres.  

The Press release, signed by the UGRF’s spokesperson, Mr Rudra Acharya, stated that Lepcha used to give secret information about their camps to the police and had also been telling the locals not to support the UGRF activists. 

The UGRF has threatened that anyone who opposes their movement for the creation of a separate state in the Hills would have to face similar consequences.   

The release stated that Lepcha was killed at his residence on 24 October around 11.50 pm by their “Army” under the leadership of commander Sangram. The murder of the GNLF leader had triggered panic in the region.  

The GNLF had also observed 24-hour bandh in Kalimpong sub-division on 25 October to protest against Lepcha’s murder. The party had demanded immediate arrest of those involved in the murder.  

The GNLF had threatened that they would be compelled to take law on their own hands if the culprits were not arrested within 15 days from the date of murder. However, 20 days have passed but the police are yet to arrest the assassins.   

Nearly three months before, the UGRF had announced an armed struggle in the Hills for the separate state of Gorkhaland. In September, the UGRF had claimed that its armed wing, United Gorkha Revolutionary Army, has been running nine training camps in the Kalimpong sub-division.  

According to an intelligence report nearly 60 to 70 armed men are still hiding in the jungles of Kalimpong under the leadership of Ajay Dahal, former employee of Central Industrial Security Force.  

Demand for inclusion of Darjeeling Hills in North East Council welcomed

FROM KALIMNEWS 
Language Edited by Himal News 

Kalimpong, March 30: The demand for the inclusion of the Darjeeling hill areas into the North East Council is widely praised by all in the hills, according to sources in KalimNews. 

Similarly, it is even praised by the plain people as a wise thought, KalimNews reports.  

Central and the State Government had divulged that the demand for the inclusion of Dooars and Terai in the proposed Regional authority is not considerable and the Union Government tried to convince the GJM delegation against it on Monday at North Block in Delhi.

The Centre further added that problems would arise on including these areas as such would not be advisable to do so, according to sources divulging information to KalimNews.  

EARLIER  

Is Gorkhaland very far?  (CONJECTURE OR FACT ?!!)  

Opinion: by AK Rai

Saturday, February 6, 2010: Why is Bimal Gurung, GJMM Chief stressing on alternative set up as interim arrangement and indicating towards change in the nomenclature of proposed state of Gorkhaland and exclusion of certain areas from the present map of Gorkhaland?  

These questions are brainstorming riddles and questions for discussion among the GJMM supporters of all status as well as others interested in activities of GJMM or related to Gorkhas.  

Sources and agencies state that Bimal Gurung and the GJMM top rankers were repeatedly informed by the Central Government that demand of Gorkhaland is an impossible demand, at least for the present.  

There are so many hurdles, of them some are similar demands cropping up from the Adivasis and Rajbanshis in the neighbouring areas. while others are such demand will endanger the country’s defense mechanism. It is also known that they were convinced to these explanations.  

On this appraisal Bimal Gurung forwarded the demand of union territory to the Central Govt which too was discarded stating that it has legal and technical difficulties like objection from State Government and for UT it has to have at least three districts and 19 police stations.   

As an alternative to the demand of GJMM Central Government forwarded a proposal of granting a high power autonomous body according to them which is also proposed by the State Govt. If this arrangement as an alternative to the demand of statehood is agreed upon it has further offered to grant more powers afterwards  and UT too in near future.  

According to the sources, considering the violent opposition from the Adivasis of Dooars on the nomenclature (according to the ABAVP it will abolish their identity by the name of Gorkhaland)  Gurung consulted the matter with the think tank and study forum of GJMM.  

To resolve the matter and to receive support from them he (?) has forwarded the center that if the center has any objection then GJMM is ready to consent on the proposal to change the name from Gorkhaland to similar names. So as to please the State Govt it has proposed to change the map and area of Gorkhaland demanded by GJMM.  

It has consented to exclude most of the areas of Dooars and a few areas of Siliguri (now in DGHC) dominated by Non-Gorkha & Adivasi populace too.  

It is understood division of Constituency Committee are being divided into zonal committees as a preliminary exercise for the formation of new constituencies of the forthcoming interim alternative setup. Similarly representative to the Subdivisional Committees are also chosen as per the choice of the Central Committees taking into consideration of similar ideas.   

PURE CONJECTURE ?!!  

as well as the agitation in which reluctant people too are being forced to participate.GorkhalandThere has been grumblings among the Hill people regarding the matters related to the demand of

  

Mistrust among the party cadres, fight amongst leaders for the chair, corruption and involvement of party leaders in contract works of DGHC, misuse of DGHC fund, harassment facing by the people during agitational programme is increasing day by day.  

The sincere party workers are overburdened to reorganise the party structure and convince and clarify the public regarding rumours and charges made against the leaders including Bimal Gurung.  

Cops bungle, Kishan scoots – Competence displayed ?!!

FORM THE TELEGRAPH
BY PRONAB MONDAL
WITH INPUTS FROM NARESH JANA

Belpahari (West Midnapore), March 30: A vital lapse by police in keeping unguarded a highway stretch between Belpahari and Banspahari may have allowed “injured” guerrilla leader Kishan an escape route to Jharkhand a few days ago.

The police suspect that Kishan, believed to have been hit in a gun battle in West Midnapore’s Lakshmanpur on Thursday, slipped into Jharkhand early on Sunday.

Maoist Kishan Lal at an earlier rally - still a potential ideological threat ?!! (Photo by Aajkaal)

Kishan was said to be undergoing treatment at Chhotopukuria village on Saturday when the police received a tip-off.

A force set out for the place immediately but Maoists engaged it in a gun battle and halted their advance.

Kishan, the police suspect, took this opportunity to escape to Jharkhand, only about 6km from where he was.

However, police sources pointed out that to sneak into Jharkhand, the Maoists had no option but to cross the highway.

This is where the police blundered. Instead of deploying policemen along the entire 18km stretch between Belpahari and Banspahari, they left it unguarded and provided Kishan an easy escape to Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district.

The police blamed the lapse on the delay in receiving information about Kishan’s suspected presence at Chhotopukuria. “When we received the information, we simply rushed a force to Chhotopukuria,” said Manoj Verma, the West Midnapore superintendent of police. “We did not have enough reinforcements at hand to immediately rush a huge force to patrol the entire stretch of the highway. The Maoists were probably aware of this.”

According to intelligence branch officers in Belpahari, Kishan’s aides ferried him through jungle routes to Jharkhand.

“Without crossing the metalled road between Belpahari and Banspahari, reaching Jharkhand is impossible,” an IB officer said. “Leaving the stretch unguarded was a major blunder.”

The intelligence officials said they got to know through intercepts of telephone conv-ersations among the Maoists that Kishan had taken bullets. “Based on the intercepts and inputs from villagers, we learnt on Saturday evening that the injured Kishan was being treated by quacks at Chhotopukuria. But the Maoists provided cover fire to Kishan and he managed to escape.”

The police said they had successfully cut off the supply line for any proper medical aid to reach Kishan, which is why he was at the mercy of quacks. Two quacks suspected to have treated Kishan at Chhotopukuria are now in custody.

The police sources said they had made a list of doctors in the region who had been treating Maoists. “They have been told that their movements are being monitored and they should stop helping the Maoists.”

That is why, the police said, the Maoists had to fall back on the quacks among the villagers. “But in case of bullet injuries, quacks can do little of significance,” an officer said. “So it was vital for Kishan to get to Jharkhand, where we believe the Maoists have their own medical treatment centres.”

A village-by-village search across the Belpahari area has revealed that the Maoists have fled. “The only place he could have gone to is Jharkhand,” an officer said.

Legal posers on birth – Bangla enclave dweller’s son born in Indian hospital – How about Indians born in Nepal & vice versa before 1950 ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

A Bangladeshi mother with baby born in India - Deep concern by Bengal ?!! (Photo by Main Uddin Chisti)

 

 A Bangladeshi woman in labour, who lives in an enclave on Indian territory, landed up at a Cooch Behar hospital on Monday evening because that was the nearest health facility. Asma Bibi, 25, declared herself an illegal entrant before giving birth to a boy at the Dinhata Subdivisional Hospital. “Mother and child (in picture by Main Uddin Chisti above) are doing fine and we will discharge them in a couple of days,” the hospital superintendent said. However, the young mother and her husband are worried that they might be arrested after the hospital lets them go. “She was in such pain I had no other option,” said her husband Shahjahan. The law stipulates arrest, but a district official hinted an exception could be made for the couple from Masaldanga, about 15km from Dinhata town.  

Cooch Behar, March 30: A woman in labour from a Bangladeshi enclave has put the district administration in a spot by getting admitted to a hospital and declaring herself as an illegal entrant before giving birth to a boy last evening.  

Asma Bibi, 25, was brought to the Dinhata subdivisional hospital from the Bangladeshi enclave of Masaldanga, about 15km from Dinhata town, by her husband, Shajahan Sheikh. “Yesterday evening my wife suddenly went into labour, I didn’t know what to do. I was frantically looking for a midwife. When I contacted the leaders of the India Bangladesh Enclave Exchange Co-ordination Committee, they advised me to take her to the hospital at Dinhata. I admitted her around 6pm. Soon she gave birth to a boy,” Shajahan said.  

The enclaves are Bangladeshi territory landlocked within India (which has 131 enclaves inside the neighbouring country). Although the 93 Bangladeshi enclaves in Cooch Behar district are not fenced in, their residents can be arrested under the Foreigners Act if they are caught on Indian land. So, even though the hospital took in the women writhing in pain, the authorities immediately informed police. Both the woman and her husband are now afraid that they might be arrested for illegal entry.  

The superintendent of the Dinhata subdivisional hospital, N.C. Das, said the woman had been admitted on humanitarian grounds. “The mother and child are doing fine and we will discharge them after a couple of days. We have informed the administration. But we are yet to decide whether to issue a birth certificate,” Das said. The subdivisional officer of Dinhata, Chiranjib Ghosh, said it would have been inhuman had the hospital refused to admit the woman.  

“What is the harm if we do not arrest them? After all, they are not criminals,” a senior officer said, hinting that the administration might turn a blind eye and allow the couple to return to the enclave.  

When contacted in Calcutta, high court advocate Arunava Ghosh said under the Indian Constitution, any foreigner, criminal or otherwise, has the right to live. “In this case the hospital is bound to issue a birth certificate,” he said.  

The assistant secretary of the enclave exchange committee, Diptiman Sengupta, threatened to launch a movement if the child, named Jihad Hussein Obama by the parents, was not granted a birth certificate by the Dinhata municipality, under whose jurisdiction the hospital falls.  

“The health department has done its bit. Now the municipality should issue a birth certificate. If they do not, we will raise the issue. If the couple are arrested, we will launch an agitation,” Sengupta said.  

A Forward Bloc councillor of the Dinhata municipality, Ranjit Saha, said the legalities of the case would have to be looked into before a decision was taken. “We had not faced this kind of crisis in the past. I cannot tell you what we should do without consulting our legal cell,” he said.  

Sengupta said it was not that Asma was the first woman from a Bangladeshi enclave to enter Indian territory to give birth. “Those who enter take admission under false names. Indian citizens pose as their husbands. The women leave and do not collect the birth certificates, as they have no use for them. Shajahan did the right thing by not resorting to the world of lies.  

To highlight the plight of the enclave dwellers in front of an international audience, we will distribute sweets in the hospital tomorrow and take out a procession,” Sengupta said.

Smile chugs into Dooars, garden lady shows the way – Women who made it happen

Please Do Smile 'Pinki Sonkar' ?!! (Photo The Telegraph)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY ANIRBAN CHOUDHURY

Alipurduar, March 30: The Smile Train has finally chugged into the Dooars and the garden workers are grateful to Daisy Raj Singh for having given them a chance to board it.

The wife of the manager of Rydak Tea Estate, Singh has been going around campaigning about the free treatment and surgery for cleft lip that the Smile Train project of the US offers at the Anandaloke Hospital and Neurosciences Centre in Siliguri, 150km from here.

The Smile Train is the NGO that treated Pinki Sonkar — the Uttar Pradesh-based protagonist of Megan Mylan’s Oscar-winning documentary, Smile Pinki — and changed her life.

Singh organised the first free check-up camp for people with cleft lip in September in Rydak. Around 30 people from the BPL category who had registered themselves at the camp, whose expenses were borne by her, have gone through the surgery in Siliguri. But before that, she had a trying time convincing them to attend the camp.

Cleft lip or a cleft palate is a common birth defect in the Dooars especially in the tea belt and is a result of malnutrition, said Dr Neela Bhattacharya who conducts the surgery at Anandaloke. Dr Bhattacharya has been associated with Smile Train for three years.

“Around 300 people from the Dooars have been operated on so far. Many come from the Northeast and Bihar. Cleft lip occurs in children when the mother is deprived of a nutritious diet during pregnancy. Sometimes it is genetic too. But in the Dooars it is mostly because of malnutrition,” said Dr Bhattacharya.

A cleft lip surgery costs at least Rs 20,000.

Added to this is the expense incurred on trips to the hospital. Sometimes one or two family members have to accompany the patients and stay away from home, often in hotels near the hospital.

“For most garden workers, the surgery is beyond their means. But they did not know that they could get it done for free,” said Singh.

When she heard of the Smile-Anandaloke tie-up, Singh contacted Dr Bhattacharya before she did the rounds of the labour lines of the Dooars gardens — Kalchini, Hatiabari, Kohinoor, Mainabari, to name a few. Singh, who has an army background, has been staying in Rydak for 11 years.

She started her campaign with the help of four local boys, going door to door and trying to convince parents to bring the children with cleft lips to free check-up camps as the first step.

“Initially people were reluctant to attend the camps. But then the news spread.” Jashoda Toppo, a 40-year-old worker has been operated upon, as has been Joydeep Das, who is nearly two years old and is from Samuktala. Five-year-old Payel Biswakarma from Turturi, too, has a winning smile now.

On Sunday, Singh organised another such camp at Little Angel School, Hamiltonganj in Kalchini block. Singh is happy that 23 people had registered from different tea gardens for the surgery.

“My reward is the winning smile they give me,” said Singh.