GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: When all else fails, begin ‘Darjeeling Political Trial’ through media – India’s 4th Estate’s integrity under question ?!!

GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: When all else fails, begin ‘Darjeeling Political Trial’ through media – India’s 4th Estate’s integrity under question ?!!

(Phew: Photos Finally got through – wonder how ?!! Editor, Himal News)

Bandh bargain chip before talks – Delhi unhappy, hint at hill talks delay – (* ?!!) Delhi or Bengal unhappy ?!! – If delay is to happen then why leave for Delhi, Political Trials through non-impartial 4th Estate, all Bengal journalists condone ?!!

The shut office of the Darjeeling district magistrate on Monday. (Photo by Suman Tamang)


May 10: The fate of the next round of political-level talks on Darjeeling may be delayed with sources in the Union home ministry blaming the uncertainty on the volatile situation in the hills, where government offices remained shut today after a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha announcement.

Delhi has also described the Morcha as one with an “obstinate attitude”.

The “obstinate” reference was to the Morcha pressure tactics — which includes fasts and a two-day strike on May 15 and 16 besides ban on government vehicles and indefinite shutdown of government offices — before the political talks scheduled at the end of this month, probably on May 24.

Senior home ministry officials said they were concerned over the volatile situation in the hills, referring to the clashes between supporters of the Morcha and the GNLF in Kalimpong on Saturday. The violence had injured five persons.

“Negotiations mean give and take, and the parties involved reach a middle ground. They (the Morcha) need to understand that this will be a slow process and we have our own compulsions,” said a senior official.

He added that the Centre understood Morcha’s anxiety that other Gorkha outfits might challenge the party if it compromised on the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the interim set-up.

The Morcha has been demanding that the entire Darjeeling hills, along with the Nepali dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai be included in the interim set-up for the hills. The territory will later form the separate state of Gorkhaland that it is agitating for.

Samar Ghosh (photo through google & Telegraphindia)

State home secretary Samar Ghosh who left for Delhi today to attend tomorrow’s talks refused to answer any questions on the territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up. “The two main issues there are development and tourism,” was all that Ghosh said.

To put pressure on the Centre and the state before the talks, the Morcha had declared the shutdown of all government offices in the hills from today. Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had also announced the ban on the plying of government vehicles in the hills at a rally in Sukna in Saturday.

In Darjeeling today, activities at the district court were affected with most of the undertrials being provided with new dates. Also, the office which issues permits to foreigners visiting Sikkim from Darjeeling remain closed, causing inconvenience to tourists many of whom had planned to cancel their trip and move to the Himalayan state. But police cars were on the road.

Tourists who had hope to enjoy a joy ride on the toy train from Darjeeling to Ghoom or the daily New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling ride returned disappointed.

Siliguri based Vernacular 'Himalaya Darpan' uses this photo as Front Page story - working 'very fairly' in conjunction with Bengal's objectives ?!!

“We had wanted to take a ride on the toy train but learned about the strike only on arrival at the station,” said Abhinav Sharma, a tourist from Mumbai who reached Siliguri yesterday and had wanted to go to Darjeeling by the toy train. “It is sad because we had heard so much of the charming uphill ride in the heritage train and wanted to experience it.”


KALIMNEWS’ ADJOINER WITHOUT ANY HEADLINE – truth, fiction or true lies, fairly taking sides, impartial reporting or making news with political objectives ?!!

KalimNews: Incidents of more arson and attack is being received from different ends.  In Kalimpong a godown of Maurice Kalikotay was torched today.

Kalikotay is in Siliguri since his residencial building was torched in 2008.  An attempt to torch a house in Gorubathan was foiled after the intervention of the local people.

Several people in Lava and Kalimpong have been attacked are now in hospitals undergoing treatment. GJYM supporters are chasing GNLF supporters and persons involved in postering of 9th May’s incident.

It is said many youths have been caught and are being interrogated and punished in some GLP camps. Most of the GNLF cadres have fled from their house since saturday.

General people have accused GNLF of spoiling the improving peaceful situation of hills. They have equally condemned the attack on GNLF supporters which according to them is no less than Jungle Raj and dictatorial attitude.

GJMM senior leaders who are of the school of Gandhian thought are feeling insecure in the hands of the GJYM (youth wing). According to the GJYM it is due to the seniors’ inf ight for chair and egoistic nature anti GJMM forces have dared to oppose them in broad day light. And now it is the duty of the GJYM to protect the honour of GJMM by challenging the disturbing forces.

Police is seen just doing their duty by giving their presence but ignoring the situation and not taking any action.

Meanwhile Bimal Gurung and Amar Lama arrived in Kalimpong to solve a rift between GJYM and JSTO.

Press farternity of Kalimpong has felt insecure after the saturday’s incident when reporters were threatened. Kalimpong Press Club has decided to protest the encroachment on the Press freedom unitedly with other Press groups.  It is meeting with other groups for a joint resolution and programme.

Fast for plains in set-up – only this much, no impartial fairness, slanted ?!!

The Morcha’s relay hunger strike at Panchnoi near Siliguri on Monday. (Photo by Kundan Yolmo)


Siliguri, May 10: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s student and woman wings launched relay hunger strikes in the plains today as part of the pressure tactics ahead of talks at political and bureaucratic levels this month.

In the Dooars, seven persons each representing the Vidyarthi Morcha and the Nari Morcha are fasting at Bagrakote, Birpara and Kalchini. Similar fast is going on at Panchnoi in the Terai also.

“Members of the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha and the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha began relay hunger strikes this morning. They are demanding the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the territory to be marked for the interim arrangement at the next round of political-level tripartite talks to be held at the end of May,” said Samuel Gurung, a central committee member of the Morcha.

The agitation had been announced by Morcha chief Bimal Gurung at a meeting in Sukna, 10km from Siliguri, on Saturday. “Seven members each of the Vidyarthi Morcha and the Nari Morcha will take part in the hunger-strikes. Each group will be on fast for 24 hours and the agitation will continue for 15 days,” Gurung had said.

As the hills and the plains are once again on the boil, tour operators in Siliguri said they would have to bear the brunt of the tension.

“While the Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Banchao Committee has called a statewide strike on May 14, the Morcha will enforce a shutdown on May 15 and 16,” said a tour operator. “We are keeping our fingers crossed as the Morcha leadership has made it clear that they will not take any responsibility of NH31A that connects Sikkim with the rest of India.”

Gurung had said the Morcha would not block NH31A during the two-day bandh in deference to a Supreme Court order. “However, we will not take any responsibility to ensure free traffic on the highway,” he had added in the same breath.

Some months back, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Bengal government to ensure that NH31A remained free of blockades. The order was issued on a petition filed by a Sikkim resident (*?!!) who complained about the troubles the people of the Himalayan state had to face because of the frequent protest on the highway by the Morcha.

State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya questioned the Morcha’s attitude (*?!!) at a time when the talks on the interim set-up were progressing. “The agitation by the Morcha when talks are in progress shows the party’s un-cooperative attitude. We perceive that such activities will disrupt life and might lead to tension and affect the scheduled talks.”

Tourists desert Hills fearing political turmoil – why nothing in google search under ‘from PTI’ ?!!

Gorkhatimes Website blocked by Jhoomla - the same engine that powers The Siliguri Statesman ?!!


SNS & PTI – wonder why the ‘emphasis’, seeking legitimacy ?!!

SILIGURI /GANGTOK, 10 MAY (SNS & PTI) : Apprehending fresh trouble in the Darjeeling Hills in the wake of the renewed bout of the GJMM-sponsored political movement, the tourists have started leaving the hill stations.

“Though the situation is still normal it might take a turn for the worse any time with the GJMM having threatened two-day shutdown from 15 May. So we cannot take risks,” the tourists said.

For the first time since the Gorkhaland movement swept the hills in the 1980’s, political violence rocked Lava last night involving the GJMM and GNLF activists.

Though the police described it as a minor skirmish, the locals said that a vehicle owned by former DGHC councillor, Mr Dawa Pakhrin’s brother was torched at the Maidan area during the clash. (*?!!)

The inspector-in-charge, Algarah police station visited the spot this morning, informed an official at the police station, Mr RB Thapa. (*?!!)

“The situation is under control and no arrest has been made so far,” he added.

“The GJMM has threatened a two-day shutdown from 15 May. We have no problem with the locals. They are as hospitable as ever. But, we would have problems getting down to the plains if an emergency arises. We cannot rule out such an eventuality given the volatility in the hill situation,” said a tourist visiting Lava.

The situation is the same in Darjeeling too. “It is in a flux and any time it might take a serious turn with political antagonism amongst the rival camps mounting. (*note the language)

“The two-day bandh might be extended if the proposed tripartite dialogue fails to satisfy the preponderant hill party. It is wise now to get down,” said Mr Rahul Dutta, a tourist from Kolkata.

‘GJMM strike would hit vehicle movement’

The two-day strike called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) on 15 and 16 May in the Darjeeling Hills would hit vehicle movement to Sikkim as a portion of NH-31A, the lifeline of Sikkim is in the Darjeeling district, transport operators here said today.

Movement of vehicle to Sikkim would be hit during the strike as the GJM has not yet declared that it would exempt Sikkim bound vehicles plying on the NH 31A out of the purview of the two-day strike, the operators said.

Many transporters here said that they would not ply their vehicles on the NH 31A during the two-day strike called by the GJM.

The GJM has called for a two-day strike in the Darjeeling Hills on May 15 and 16 demanding inclusion of the Doars and Siliguri in the proposed Hill Council.

TOURISM: Strike boon for Sikkim


Filmstar Govinda currently in Gangtok (Photo from Himalaya Darpan)

Darjeeling, May 9: The strike like all other times has struck the hill coffers, but the home truth as usual is yet to hit the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

The two-day general strike called by Bimal Gurung’s party on May 15 and 16 has turned out to be a boon for Sikkim with visitors to Darjeeling making a mad scramble for the Himalayan state.

Tour operators fear the losses will not be confined to this week alone, the ripple effect continuing even 10 days later.

“By that time, the season will have ended. There was a flurry of enquires since early this morning and within a couple of hours most of Darjeeling’s business shifted to Gangtok,” said a travel agent based here. Even though foreign tourists don’t visit Darjeeling in May largely because of the harsh Indian summer, domestic visitors make a beeline till early June every year.

But ever since the announcement of the bandh, the hurry to cancel bookings in Darjeeling has begun.

At any day, tour operators said, Darjeeling can accommodate around 8,000 tourists. “This time of the year, 2,000 to 2,500 visitors arrive here daily and each of them spend around Rs 1,200 per day. So now you know the losses,” said the agent.

He shrugged when The Telegraph told him that actor Govinda wondered why Bollywood did not use Darjeeling as film locales any more. “I don’t know why they are not coming to Darjeeling (to shoot) but if I am given a chance, I will definitely come,” the former MP said before leaving town today.

“We don’t even have the courage to dream so much. Our aim now is to keep what ever little we have left,” said a travel agent, responding to Govinda’s compliment.

“The season was extremely good this year. Darjeeling was fully packed, while Gangtok still had some rooms (left to be booked). Now we are virtually scrambling to book rooms for our customers in the Sikkim capital. In fact, many of the tourists have also decided to spend two days in Sikkim, which had earlier been kept for Darjeeling,” he added.

Being a sensitive industry, vacationers do not want to visit a place where there is slightest hint of trouble. Anasua Mukherjee from Calcutta had planned a getaway to the hills with her husband. “We were supposed to be in Darjeeling from May 11 to 16, now we have to cut short the visit and return to Siliguri on May 14. Why take a risk? It’s too late to get booking anywhere else, like Sikkim or in the Dooars,” she rued.

The Morcha, however, said it was “concerned” about the travel agents’ plight. “We are concerned, but we do not have much options at the moment. We are hopeful that we don’t have to call any further strike,” said Amar Lama, a central committee member of the party.

“The strike will not just affect us for two days but we will be losing out on almost 10 days’ business,” said another tour operator. But on a more cautious note, he added: “We are ready to accept the losses, if they brings stability and peace in the days to come.”

Fly & glide over frozen Chhangu – Rally power in red bastion – what does this headline mean ‘Rally power in red bastion’, any more snide political agenda ?!!

Sikkim tourism minister Bhim Dhungel (first from left) after laying the foundation of the ropeway project in Chhangu lake on May 7. (Photo by Prabin Khaling)


Gangtok, May 10: In a year from now, Chhangu lake will have gondolas flying over its frozen waters.

The gondolas will be stringed to a mono-cable detachable ropeway system, making Chhangu at 12,600ft in East Sikkim a more appealing tourist destination.

According to officials of the Chhangu lake ropeway project which is estimated to be around Rs 6.5 crore, 12 gondolas with six passengers per cabin are designed to glide from the base terminal near the lake across 900m to the right side hilltop at 14,400 feet. The hilltop, overlooking the 1.08km-long lake, provides a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and glimpses of the Tibetan plateau on a clear day.

The lake has an average footfall of around 3,000 tourists a day.

Journey by foot from the lake up to the hillock is 2km but once the ropeway is made operational, a tourist can reach the top in the cable car in five minutes, project director D. Mukherjee said.

The second terminal will be placed atop the hill, and according to the designers, 400 people can be transported from the base terminal to the hilltop in an hour in the initial years. The transport capacity can be enhanced to 800 passengers an hour later.

Accepting the challenge of working in a high-altitude area, Mukherjee said: “The raw material and the special jacketing for tensioning system for the ropeway will be specially designed for sub-zero weather condition.”

While laying the foundation stone of the project at the lake on May 7, Sikkim tourism minister Bhim Dhungel said once commissioned, the ropeway would be a new attraction for the tourists.

“Chhangu lake has always been one of the most important tourist destinations along with Nathu-la and Baba Mandir in East district. The ropeway that will provide an aerial view of the lake will be an added attraction to the tourists,” said Dhungel. He assured the project officials all support from the state government for timely completion of the ropeway.

The ropeway project is being constructed by the Calcutta-headquartered Conveyor and Ropeway on a BOOT (build, operate, own and transfer) basis and is scheduled to be completed by June 2011.

The company will operate the ropeway for 20 years from the date of commissioning of the project and will pay a royalty to the Sikkim government. It has already done 40 such projects in the country, besides currently operating eight passenger ropeway systems.

Travel Agents Association of Sikkim president Paljor Lachungpa has welcomed the project. “The ropeway system will be another attraction to the hundreds of tourists visiting the holy trinity — Chhangu lake, Baba Mandir and Nathu-la,” he said.

Five injured in GJM-GNLF clash in Darjeeling


Siliguri (WB), May 9 (PTI) Five persons were injured when rival supporters of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) clashed at Kalimpong near here, police said today.

IGP (North Bengal) K L Tamta said the clashes occurred at Dambar Chawk in Kalimpong yesterday.

“Three persons sustained cuts with two of them belonging to the rival groups, while two others received minor injuries,” he said.

The trouble started when GJM activists protested after members of the GNLF student-wing pasted posters demanding special status for Darjeeling hills under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the officer said.

One supporter from each side was arrested and police reinforcements have been deployed in the area to restore order, he said.


GJM-GNLF clash in Darjeeling, 5 injured

10-05-09 - Himalaya Darpan Front Page - The allegedly offensive article - but why go offline, 'fear' or 'guilt' ?!!

Siliguri (WB): Five persons were injured when rival supporters of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) clashed at Kalimpong near here, police said on Sunday.

IGP (North Bengal) K. L. Tamta said the clashes occurred at Dambar Chawk in Kalimpong on Saturday. “Three persons sustained cuts with two of them belonging to the rival groups, while two others received minor injuries,” he said.

The trouble started when GJM activists protested after members of the GNLF student-wing pasted posters demanding special status for Darjeeling hills under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the officer said.

One supporter from each side was arrested and police reinforcements have been deployed in the area to restore order, he said.


While Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri was in Assam and was not answering phones ?!!

GJM press and publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri alleged that GNLF and CPRM (Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists) had joined hands to provoke party supporters and foil the tripartite talks expected this month.

10-05-09 - Group of communists given most prominent display by vernacular daily Himalayan Darpan 'clearly' against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha - 'honestly' restoring Peace or 'instigating' violence under Bengal's communist guidance ?!!

Meanwhile, eight parties including CPRM, All India Gorkha League, GNLF(C), Gorkha Rashtriya Congress, Sikkim National Front, Sikkim—Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch, BJP and Trinamool Congress on Saturday formed a common platform to restore peace in Darjeeling hills.

Attack on media condemned


Gangtok: Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) and Sikkim Federation of Working Journalists (SFWJ) have strongly condemned the attack on media in Kalimpong. Himalaya Darpan bureau chief of Kalimpong, Ajay Agarwal, was attacked with a hammer by members of a group who had earlier attacked supporters of a political party at Kalimpong bazaar.

It is unfortunate that a journalist should be attacked in a situation created by political violence and PCS condemns the attack in strong words, said PCS general secretary Bhim Rawat in a press statement.
The attack on a journalist covering an incident is an attempt to suppress democracy, said Rawat.

The PCS has demanded of the concerned authorities to ensure freedom of press in Kalimpong and ascertain that the journalists are given a proper environment to fulfil their responsibilities. The PCS also extended its solidarity to the journalists of Kalimpong.

Similarly, the SFWJ has also strongly condemned the attack on media at Kalimpong. The attack is an attempt to suppress the fourth pillar of democracy, the SFWJ said and demanded that the authorities take immediate action against the culprits. Such incidents should not be allowed to be repeated in future, said the SFWJ.


‘Ally’ washed out from wall

Sarkar whitewashes the graffiti in Dinhata. (Photo by MU Chisti)


Cooch Behar, May 10: The Trinamul Congress today wiped off the “Congress” from the civic election graffiti in Dinhata where some of its candidates had presented themselves as nominees of the anti-Left alliance.

Trinamul district secretary Parthanath Sarkar was seen whitewashing a graffito on the wall of his house in Ward 9 from where his party member Aparna Dey is contesting. “We received a call from Partha Chatterjee (party secretary-general) who said all banners and wall writings that had come up (where the Congress was mentioned) should be removed immediately,” Sarkar said.

The Trinamul candidates had been instructed to remove the posters and graffiti as there was no alliance in the polls, Sarkar said. “Our candidates had been nominated well before the filing of nominations began and all of them were so sure about the alliance, so they had ordered banners accordingly. Now, we have told them not to display banners that indicated that they were candidates for the alliance.”

The Trinamul leader said rectifying the graffiti was not difficult. “We just whitewashed the words ‘Congress’ and ‘alliance candidate’ but it is difficult for our nominees to freshly order the flex banners that are expensive,” Sarkar said.

Trinamul sources said at least eight candidates had ordered the banners and some of them had even written on the walls about their being “alliance” candidates. There was widespread disappointment among Trinamul workers that Mamata Banerjee snapped ties with the Congress.

The candidate from Ward 9 said she had inadvertently hung up the banner introducing her as an alliance candidate. “We were sure of the alliance taking place and had ordered the banners. However, I have removed them,” Dey said.

Well before Mamata’s falling out with the Congress, the two parties had locally decided on an alliance formula. Trinamul was to file candidates in 10 wards while the Congress wanted five seats in Dinhata.

However, Trinamul has candidates in all the wards and the Congress has stuck to five. In the 2005 elections, the Left Front had won 12 of the 16 in Dinhata with the Forward Bloc winning in seven and the CPM in five seats. The Congress and the Trinamul had bagged two seats each.

Rally with split blame on Mamata


Calcutta, May 10: The Congress will come out with its own explanation of the circumstances that led to the collapse of the alliance with the Trinamul Congress when Pranab Mukherjee kicks off the party’s civic poll campaign tomorrow.

Mukherjee, the state Congress president, will hold a string of meetings with party leaders through out the day before he addresses the rally at Lebutala Park, Sealdah.

Street-corner meetings were held across the city today to canvass for the rally.

“We will have to put forth our version of the cause of the collapse to counter Mamata Banerjee’s sustained campaign against us. People should know we were not at fault,” said K. Keshava Rao, the Congress general secretary in charge of Bengal.

Rao said the alliance could have been easily worked out had “Mamataji offered 10 seats in addition to the 25” she was willing to give. “I had a string of meetings with Mamataji to request her for just 10 more seats. I did not ask her to concede to the state Congress’s demand for 51 seats. But she was rigid all through. We were left with no option but to field our candidates knowing that it would have no bearing on next year’s Assembly polls.”

State Congress leaders here said Mukherjee had sought newspaper clippings on Mamata’s media briefings in which she “blamed Pranabda, without naming him, for scuttling the alliance”.

“We did not break the alliance. It was other way round. Pranabda would drive home the point tomorrow that the Congress had tried to stitch up a deal till the last moment,” said state Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya.

The Congress’s civic poll manifesto will mention how Mamata “dumped the Congress” and decided to “jeopardise the electoral prospects of the alliance”.

“The draft manifesto is ready. We have taken a whole page in the six-page document to dwell on how Mamata broke up the alliance by trying to dictate terms on the seat-sharing,” said Nityananda De, the chairman of the Congress’s campaign committee.

The manifesto will also justify the “party’s demand for 51 seats”.

On his return to Calcutta from New Delhi this evening, Pranab Mukherjee was asked about state party working president Subrata Mukherjee’s switch to Trinamul. He said: “If somebody leaves the party, it definitely affects the organisation. But what can we do about it?”

Mamata today again accused the Congress of acting as the “CPM’s agent to frustrate the alliance” at a meeting with her 140 Calcutta Municipal Corporation candidates. She has left one ward, 93, for ally SUCI.

NTPC fails to light up villages – and not even the smallest mention of all the areas along Teesta River from where all the power comes ?!!

Model of Teesta Low Dam Project at 27th Mile (Photo Himal News Files)


Raiganj, May 10: A centrally-sponsored rural electrification scheme launched in North Dinajpur in 2008 to provide free electricity to people living below the poverty line has failed to achieve even four per cent of its target.

Embarrassed over the poor performance, the Congress-run zilla parishad is going to appeal to the Union power minister to engage any other agency for implementing the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme, sources said.

The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) was entrusted with the job of executing the project in 1,342 mouzas of nine blocks in the district.

Vidyut karmadhaksha of the zilla parishad Purnendu Dey of the Congress said they had summoned the NTPC authorities to an emergency meeting to be held on May 13 to explain why they had “failed miserably”. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 100 crore to the NTPC for the project.

“The NTPC was supposed to complete the project within two years. Even though 18 months have passed, not even four per cent work has been completed,” he said.

The project manager of the NTPC, K.K. Banerjee, however, said they had not received any co-operation from any quarters to expedite the work.

“I am not going to disclose all that we had to face in the past 18 months. We shall explain our position at the May 13 meeting,” Banerjee said.

Subir Biswas, a district secretariat member of the CPM, blamed the zilla parishad for the non-implementation of the project. The rural body had forced the NTPC officials to send electricity polls to almost all mouzas to win cheap popularity before the panchayat and the Lok Sabha polls.

“The NTPC could not work according to its plan and had to go by the whims of the Congress leadership of the district,” Biswas said.

District working committee president of the Trinamul Congress Tilak Chowdhury also blamed the zilla parishad’s “short-sightedness and its craving for cheap popularity for electoral gains” for the failure of the project. He also alleged anomalies in the beneficiary list prepared by the panchayats and the zilla parishad.

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