FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, April 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the CPRM, the two largest parities in the hills, will organise May Day celebrations here tomorrow, raising a possibility of confrontation between their supporters. (according to ?!!)
As both the parties have pledged to ensure the participation of as many people as possible, police have decided to post adequate forces at the venues where meetings will be held.
The CPRM had announced its decision to organise May Day programme more than a fortnight back. The Morcha-affiliated-Janmukti United Labour Welfare Organisation (JULWO) announced its plans today but claimed that the decision had been taken much earlier.
“We had decided to hold a meeting sometime back. We were working on a handbook for the labourers titled Unmukti and it will be released at the meeting. We have been organising May Day celebrations for the past two years,” said David Rai, the president of the JULWO.
The Morcha meeting will be attended by party president Bimal Gurung, along with general secretary Roshan Giri and another senior leader Amar Lama.
While the CPRM meeting will be held at Chowk Bazar, the Morcha has chosen Chowrastha, less than a kilometre away, for its programme that will begin at 10.30am.
The two hill outfits have also decided to take out rallies which will start from the Darjeeling railway station, but at different times.
“We will not go in for any confrontation and there is no reason to fear any law and order problem,” said D.S. Bomzom, the spokesperson for the CPRM.
The ABGL has also decided to support and attend the CPRM’s meeting. In the recent past, the ABGL had to call off two meetings at Chowk Bazar after the Morcha decided to hold rallies at the same venue.
The CPRM central committee is holding May Day function for the first time after the Morcha was formed in October 2007 and many believe that the party is trying to show its strength.
“In 2007, the party’s central committee had organised the celebration in Kalimpong and in the past two years, our regional committees were organising (the programmes) at their respective places. This year, the central committee has again decided to organise the function,” said Bomzom.
In the past two years, the CPRM and the Morcha have had their fair share of problems. (Really ?!!) The Morcha had at times openly criticised R.B. Rai, the general secretary of the CPRM, alleging that the communists were responsible for the death of the hill people during the 1986 Gorkhaland agitation.
The CPRM was formed in 1997 by a group of hill leaders who had left the CPM.
Also, the Morcha had opposed a 12-hour strike called by the CPRM on August 22, 2008, to demand the speedy trial of Chattrey Subba, who had been accused of masterminding an attack on GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh on February 10, 2001, at Saat Ghumti near Kurseong. Even though the Morcha opposed the strike, it, too, had been demanding a speedy trial for Subba.
The respective parties are expected to bring in as many supporters as possible. “Our members from the town will definitely be attending the meeting and we are trying to get in supporters from tea gardens as well,” said Rai.
The CPRM has said they, too, have appealed to all their supporters to attend the meeting that will kick off at 11.30am.
Amalkanti Ray, the subdivisional officer of Darjeeling, said permissions had been granted to the two parties, as the venues were different.
Funds misuse to dominate talks: Asok – and who pays for recent hotel bills in Gangtok ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
April 30: The misuse of DGHC funds by the frontal organisations of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, as alleged by the council’s administrator B. L. Meena, will be discussed in detail at the next round of political-level talks in Delhi, according to Bengal municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya.
Meena had told the media on April 23 that the Morcha’s frontal organisations like the Nari Morcha and the Yuva Morcha were directly controlling the implementation of the DGHC’s development schemes.
Bhattacharya — who is tasked to represent the state government, along with Bengal health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, at the political level meeting — said in Gangtok today: “We will discuss the matter in an elaborate manner during the tripartite talks, as the charges are very serious.”
Bhattacharya is on a three-day visit to Sikkim to oversee the organisational work of the CPM in the state. He, however, did not comment when asked how a party that had no electoral mandate could dictate the use of the DGHC funds.
He iterated the Bengal government’s position on the Morcha’s Gorkhaland demand and said the party should accept the proposal for a more empowered council as an alternative to the statehood for the hills. “The proposal sent by the Centre and the one we will place at the next round of talks are better and more viable than the Morcha’s document on an interim set-up,” said the minister. (To make Bimal Gurung another Subhash Ghising ?!!)
Meena’s allegation prompted the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha to file a Rs 10 crore defamation suit against him in the court of the Darjeeling civil judge (senior division) today. “The case has been admitted and will come up for hearing on May 29,” said Taranga Pandit, a lawyer representing the Nari Morcha.
When told about the defamation case, Meena said he had enough evidence to show the direct involvement of the women and youth wings of the Morcha in the execution of the DGHC projects.
“I have inspected two sites where work is going on and I have specific written proof that the Nari Morcha and the Yuva Morcha are engaged in two projects being undertaken at Sukna High School. When I visited the spot, some eight to ten students (of the Yuva Morcha) admitted that they were doing work worth Rs 40 lakh. (so, who issued & got the contracts ?!!) I have spoken only about two projects in Sukna and I have papers with which I can go anywhere,” said Meena.
He said while one project was on infrastructure development of the school, entailing an expenditure of Rs 18 lakh, the other was the erection of a boundary wall and development of a playground worth Rs 40 lakh.
Meena, who has been accused by the Morcha of trying to derail the Gorkhaland movement, said today: “I have nothing against the ongoing movement and I am simply doing my duty. Whatever I have said is based on my findings and not to malign or implicate anyone or any forum. But if anyone blames me for making baseless comments, I am not ready to digest them. (?!!) The jobs in Sukna were assigned to a DGHC-empanelled contractor of the same locality, but were eventually taken up by the frontal organisations of the Morcha.” (Wonder How ?!!)
With Meena standing by his accusations, the Morcha again said he was doing so to hide his “own incompetence”.
“Our first question is if he has proof, what is he waiting for? By making these statements, he has virtually spoken of his own incompetence and he should resign. We want to make it clear that in no way is the Morcha or any of our frontal organisations involved in the execution of DGHC work,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
Legal threat to restore hill peace – Problems in the plains of Darjeeling & Dooars ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, April 30: GNLF leader Dawa Pakhrin today threatened to move Calcutta High Court against the state and central governments for their alleged failure to restore normality in the Darjeeling hills.
A former GNLF branch president of Kalimpong, Pakhrin also admitted a “difference of opinion” within the party, which he said, had been affecting its activities in the plains and the hills.
“We have repeatedly written to the Centre, state and both the human rights commissions, highlighting the atrocities of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. It is unfortunate that nothing has been done to restore normality in the hills, resulting in eviction of over 250 families who are spending days in the plains in pitiable conditions,” said Pakhrin, who gave up his party post on April 20, at a media conference here.
“We have decided to write a final letter to the chief minister and the Union home minister. If they continue with their silence, we will file a suit in the high court.”
Pakhrin said: “The GNLF chairman (Subash Ghisingh) is harping on the implementation of the Sixth Schedule, while we are in favour of Gorkhaland, our ultimate goal. This difference of opinion is affecting our activities.”
Trinamul, Congress gear up for poll fight – how many more ‘deaths and injuries’ in the Siliguri Corridor ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
April 30: The stage is set for a direct fight between the Congress and the Trinamul Congress in the elections to the three municipalities of Jalpaiguri, Englishbazar and Old Malda unless an anti-Left alliance is forged before May 7, the last date for the withdrawal of nominations.
The Congress today took out a rally in Jalpaiguri with 23 candidates and the two Independents it is backing, before they filed their nominations. Trinamul candidates also filed papers for 10 seats in the 25-ward civic body. The party will declare the name for one more seat later.
“The state leaders have endorsed our decision. If the Congress still does not allow us to fight from the 11 seats, we will put up our candidates in all the wards,” said Chandan Bhowmick, the secretary-general of the Jalpaiguri Trinamul Congress.
In Malda, Congress supporters took out a procession that ended at the district collectorate, where candidates for all the 18 seats of Old Malda municipality and 11 seats of 25-ward Englishbazar civic body submitted their nominations.
Slogans like “not a single seat should be spared for the Trinamul Congress in Barkatda’s Malda district” and “the CPM will cut a sorry figure” rent the air at the rally. Huge party flags, cutouts of the Congress’s hand symbol and posters gave the procession a festive look.
“The Congress had decided to spare two seats for Trinamul in Old Malda, though they are very weak there. But they demanded six seats,” said Malda block Congress leader Nabaranjan Singha.
He added that Trinamul’s demand for 15 seats in Englishbazar was “not acceptable” and only seven could be spared for the party.
Malda district Trinamul Congress president Goutam Chakraborty said their candidates would file nominations for all the wards of the two municipalities on May 3.
President of Malda Town Congress Bibhuti Ghosh said the candidates for the remaining 14 wards at the Englishbazar civic body would file their papers on May 3.
“All said and done, we still believe that good sense will prevail on the Trinamul Congress leadership and they will accept seven seats that we are ready to offer them in Englishbazar,” said Ghosh.
Both Ghosh and Singha, however, conceded that absence of a tie-up with Trinamul would shatter the chances of defeating the Left Front at Old Malda.
Highway protest after girl death – Ire on Police, no goodwill ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, April 30: Angry residents of Kushmandi today attacked a police jeep after a speeding truck killed a 15-year-old schoolgirl and seriously injured her sister on a state highway.
The mob blocked the Balurghat-Raiganj state highway for two hours from 1pm near the Lakshmitala bridge in Kushmandi, 75km from here. The district administration had to deploy the combat force to quell the fury. The situation was brought under control by the subdivisional police officer (SDPO) of Gangarampur, Kazi Samsuddin Ahmed.
Firdousi Khatoon, 15, and her sister Rehena Khatoon, 14, were on their way to Kaliaganj, about 30km away, on the motorcycle of Nurul Islam, one of their acquaintances and a primary teacher, when the Dalkhola-bound truck hit them from the rear.
The teacher fled soon after the incident. Local people, who gathered there, saw the girls groaning in pain and rushed them to the Kushmandi hospital.
While Firdousi died on way to the hospital, Rehena has been admitted in a serious condition. None of the girls had helmets on their heads.
The local people alleged that even though there was a police check going on near the accident spot, the law enforcers did not chase the truck nor arrest the driver.
The SDPO, however, said the truck driver had been arrested in Kaliaganj and the vehicle seized.
Rehena said from her hospital bed that both the sisters had gone with their father Azimuddin Ahmed, a law clerk, to an office in the morning. “After the work, they wanted to go to Kaliaganj to repair their watches. But father told us not to go.”
On way to Kaliaganj, they met Nurul who was also headed there, Rehena said. “The teacher agreed to take both of us to Kaliaganj. After travelling a few metres, Nurul suddenly stopped his motorcycle and turned around to see the police conducting checks for papers. The truck coming from behind rammed into the bike.”