GORKHA POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Morcha issues 10-day bandh call – Bengal inflexible, ‘Tripartite Talks’ not solving ‘Issue’ and a waste of time & energy, so back to Gorkhaland State call ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, May 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it would pull out of talks for an “interim” set-up for the Darjeeling hills and revive the demand for Gorkhaland in a fresh bout of muscle-flexing that came with a 10-day shutdown call next month.
Morcha boss Bimal Gurung said “everything will remain closed” during the June 12-21 bandh, as he mounted pressure on the Centre and the Bengal government to agree to the inclusion of Siliguri and Gorkha-speaking areas of the Dooars and the Terai under the proposed authority’s jurisdiction.
“Henceforth, we will not carry forward the interim arrangement, but will work towards the creation of Gorkhaland State,” Gurung told a media conference in Delo, 5km from Kalimpong.
The announcement came two days after the collapse of tripartite talks following differences over territory to come under the interim authority.
The bureaucratic-level talks broke down after the Centre and the state insisted the set-up be limited to the hill subdivisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling.
Asked if his party would skip the next round of political-level discussions, Gurung said the exercise would be meaningless if the issue of territory was not resolved. “The meeting on May 11 at the bureaucratic level was meant to facilitate the process of resolving the issue of territorial jurisdiction before the political talks. But the Centre and the state refused to discuss the issue and said only the executive authority of the body would be discussed,” he said. “What is the point in attending talks at the political level if territorial jurisdiction is not discussed.”
A Morcha leader said there was a “sizeable” Nepali population in the Dooars. “So, if that area is not included in the set-up, we will be letting them down. That will not be good for the party’s image.”
A home ministry source in Delhi, however, expressed hope that the Morcha would attend the political talks, tentatively scheduled for May-end. But officials insisted the Morcha’s territorial demands were “unacceptable” at this juncture.
“There needs to be a political consensus. All three leading parties of Bengal — the CPM, Trinamul and the Congress — are opposed to giving additional territory,” said an official.
Gurung said the bandh would be enforced in all the areas his party wants to be brought under Gorkhaland. “Everything will remain closed, including schools and tea gardens.”
Darjeeling braces for 72-hour bandh – Bengal slowly but surely, pushing the North towards West (Lalgarh), because of myopia ?!!
From Press Trust Of India
Siliguri: Pro and anti-Gorkhaland forces have called for consecutive bandhs for three days in Darjeeling district following the deadlock over the recent tripartite talks.
Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samiti, an anti-Gorkhaland organisation, called a 24-hour West Bengal bandh on Friday in protest against the government holding talks with the GJM.
On the other hand, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has called a 48-hour bandh from Saturday in their proposed territory which includes Siliguri and a part of Dooars.
The party was demanding political-level talks to demarcate the territory of their proposed interim authority.
These bandhs come even as the indefinite office bandh in Darjeeling hills entered the fourth day on Wednesday.
Official-level talks have failed to make a headway on May 11 owing to GJM’s insistence on discussing the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed interim authority.
West Bengal Home Secretary Samar Ghosh, who represented the state at the meeting, yesterday said the state government wanted the interim authority to be set up first before determining its territorial jurisdiction.
Another round of tripartite political-level talk would be held later and its date and venue would be decided by the Centre, Ghosh said.
However, parties like Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) and Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) and anti-Gorkhaland bodies like the Samiti and Adibasi Vikash Parisad demanded their inclusions in the talks.
Offices of the district magistrate, SDOs, BDOs and the DGHC remained closed, and no government vehicle, barring the DM’s and the SP’s, were allowed to ply in hills as part of the GJM’s office bandh call.
SILIGURI, 13 MAY, SNS: Threatening to discard the interim council option if the Centre and the state government remained inflexible regarding their territory demand, the GJMM has called a 10-day shutdown in the Darjeeling hills beginning 12 June.
Trains diverted for strike
Siliguri, May 13: The Northeast Frontier Railway today announced that some long distance trains would be rescheduled or diverted tomorrow because of a 24-hour state-wide strike called by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee.
The 4083/4084 Sikkim Mahananda Express will be diverted via Alipurduar Junction, Baneswar and New Cooch Behar, while the 3247 Kamakhya-Danapur Express will pass through Samuktala Road, New Cooch Behar and Raninagar Junction.
The 3149/3150 Kanchankanya Express will be diverted via Alipurduar Junction, Baneswar and New Cooch Behar. The 5644 Kamakhya-Puri Express will pass through Raninagar Junction, New Cooch Behar and Samuktala Road.
CPRM call for attendance on shutdown days – Instigation complete, openly working to empower Bengal and hurt hill population by allowing infighting on Election Mandate – lack political foresight ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, May 13: The CPRM has asked its supporters at tea gardens to join work during the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-sponsored strike on May 15 and 16, expressing its dissatisfaction with the shutdown call.
K.B. Subba, the general secretary of the CPRM-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chai Kaman Mazdoor Union, said: “We are dissatisfied with the two-day strike. We appeal to our supporters to join duty on both the days. The management (of gardens) must ensure that the workers are allowed to work and that they receive their salaries.”
Although May 16, a Sunday, is a holiday in tea estates, the previous day is a working day in the gardens.
“The management is already talking about low productivity. It will cite the instances (of strikes like this) during the wage and bonus negotiations and ultimately our workers will be losers. We once again appeal that the tea gardens be kept out of the strike’s purview,” said Subba.
The Morcha has, however, iterated that the strike will be strictly enforced during the two days.
Observers believe that the CPRM’s call to join work can create tension in the Rangmook-Cedar tea garden, near Sonada, about 35km from Darjeeling, as the estate is the native place of CPRM general secretary R.B. Rai and is traditionally a stronghold of the Left party. The CPRM has also some support at Gorubathan in Kalimpong subdivision also.
The second largest party in the hills, the CPRM had announced on May Day — about 4,000 supporters of the party had taken out a rally on that day — that it would sever its ties with the Morcha. The party also unveiled its voluntary force, the Swayam Sevak Vahini, which is being seen as an ominous challenge to the Gorkhaland Personnel raised by Bimal Gurung’s outfit.
In the past, the CPRM had drawn flak from many quarters for its soft approach towards the predominant party in the hills, be it the GNLF or the Morcha.
But the CPRM this time has condemned an attack on a former GNLF commissioner at Kalimpong yesterday. Tikaram Chhetri, 42, who had resigned from the party in 2008, was assaulted by suspected Morcha supporters and was later admitted to a Siliguri hospital.
No FIR has been lodged. The attack is seen as a fallout of Saturday’s incident when members of the student wing of the GNLF had plastered posters in town favouring Sixth Schedule for the hills following which alleged Morcha supporters assaulted GNLF sympathisers.
“We condemn the incident. Many intellectuals within the Morcha have been urging the party leadership to refrain from violence, but over the years the Morcha is turning violent. Their Gandhigiri is stained with blood. We appeal to all the Gorkhaland loving people to come up openly and bravely oppose such tactics,” the CPRM general secretary said.
TOURISM: Govt blamed for Morcha bandh – all to continue to suffer under Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, May 13: The tourism sector and the business community today hit out at the state government for remaining silent to the 10-day strike of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, fearing that the ripple effect of the bandh may extend till the Pujas.
“Over the past two-and-a half years, the tourism sector in north Bengal has suffered, not only because of the frequent strikes and agitation but the silence of the state government as well,” said Raj Basu, the working president of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association.
“The current tourist season usually extends till mid-June when the forests close down and the rains come. We fear the Morcha announcement would lead to random cancellations throughout the Darjeeling hills and Dooars. It might even discourage tourists from visiting north Bengal during the Durga Puja.”
Earlier, Basu had said that at least 1 lakh tourists visit this region during the peak season. “And this time, about 10,000 extra tourists have been coming here per week,” Basu said. Cancellations in Darjeeling had started with the announcement of the weekend strike. “Moreover, the peak season in the circuit here is of 60 to 70 days and unfortunately, the strikes are eating up those days,” Basu had said. The summer this year had proved to be a boom for the tourism sector, with hotels in Darjeeling hills and the Dooars reporting an overcrowding. This, however, changed suddenly with Morcha’s announcement of the 48-hour strike on May 15 and 16, followed by the announcement of the 10-day blow.
Businessmen, too, have started counting losses. “It is not only the strike but we are also concerned about the probable repercussions (in the form of violence) as some organisations have threatened to oppose it as well,” said Biswajit Das, the general secretary of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, north Bengal. “We do not support any strike and feel there can be deterioration in law and order, which means further losses.”
Das was hinting at the 72-hour strike called by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad from May 17. The shutdown, however, has nothing to do with the statewood agitation. The Parishad, however, will oppose the Morcha bandh tooth and nail.
“We have been demanding Sixth Schedule status for 315 mouzas in the Terai and Dooars for development of tribals,” said Parishad state general secretary Tezkumar Toppo. “We will oppose tooth and nail any attempt to include the Terai and Dooars in the interim set-up or Gorkhaland and will also oppose the strike. We will give an apt reply in case the set-up is thrust on us.”
Another anti-Gorkhaland outfit, the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, will also oppose the Morcha shutdown. Bhasha Committee president Mukunda Majumdar said the Centre and state should stop the Morcha from “violating the constitution and law any further.” It has called a 24-hour strike tomorrow to protest the interim set-up. “Morcha leaders are law-breakers and the announcement shows their arrogance. We will actively oppose any strike called by the Morcha,” he said.
Minister Asok Bhattacharya whose government has been accused of being a silent spectator said the Morcha announcement spoke of the hill party’s insecurity. “The Morcha is fast loosing its foothold and we won’t be surprised if the common people start protesting soon,” said Bhattacharya, who has represented the state in the first round of political- talks.
Tourists cancel bookings in Darjeeling following Gorkha shutdown – and the news is circulated worldwide and instantaneously, enough damage done ?!!
FROM ASIA NEWS INTERNATIONAL
Siliguri (West Bengal), May 13 (ANI): Tourists heading to Darjeeling for holidays are cancelling their plans following a shutdown call given by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to demand a separate state of Gorkhaland.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha that has called for a shutdown on Saturday and Sunday are expected to come up with a more intensive movement, if their demands are not met.
Following the shutdown call, tourists are reluctant to stay in Darjeeling, fearing violence.
“I went to Darjeeling and had plans to stay there for around ten days. But I heard that Darjeeling hills would come under strike for a period of two days. Hearing the news, I decided to return. Like me, there are many other tourists who are going back,” said Safikul Islam, a tourist from Bangladesh.
Tour operators said the shutdown call would be a big loss for tourism in the area.
“It (shutdown) brings a very bad brand name to the region actually, and with the strikes that are due on 14th, 15th and 16th of May in the plains and in the hills. There have been several cancellations, which is very unfortunate because this is the most peak time for the tourism this summer,” said Raj Basu, tour operator.
“All the tourism infrastructure in the region was jam-packed. There were extra flights been given, there are extra trains, extra buses, which are running from the different places to Siliguri. This sudden shutdown has actually brought in a lot of cancellation and a big loss to the tourism industry,” he added.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung had earlier declared in a rally that if things did not go their way during forthcoming meetings over the creation of the separate state, they might come up with a more voluble movement.
The GJM activists kick started a relay hunger strike here on Monday to give a fillip to their movement over the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
The hunger strike was kicked off eyeing upon putting the Centre on the back foot ahead of the sixth round of tripartite talks, involving the Central Government and the representatives of the GJM to be held in New Delhi on May 14.
Earlier on April 9, Bimal Gurung met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi, who assured him that he would talk to the Government of West Bengal and Trinamool Congress about their demands.
The GJM had agreed during the fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi to the constitution of Interim Council by next year prior to the creation of a separate state.
Gorkhas, who are ethnic Nepalese, have been demanding a separate state in Darjeeling hills, to help them protect their culture and heritage. (ANI)
EDUCATION: Japan invite for Siliguri students – from Darjeeling District, ‘Ohio, Arigato Gozaimas’ ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, May 13: For 14-year-old Mayank Vats, an aspiring nano-technology engineer, a visit to a technologically advanced country like Japan is a dream come true.
Mayank, a Class X student of Kendriya Vidyalaya Bagdogra, and his classmate Sumana Mukhopadhyay, are among the 276 students who have been chosen by the Union human resource development ministry for Jenesys, a cultural and educational youth exchange programme.
The Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE), a non-profit organisation which conducts Jenesys, will take the students in three batches. Mayank and Sumana, a trained classical singer who aspires to be a paediatrician, are in the first batch of 93 students who will leave for Japan on May 18.
“The processing started in 2009, when the HRD ministry asked schools to propose names of students (classes XI and XII) for the programme on the basis of educational merit and participation in co-curricular activities. Altogether 2,100 students from all over the country were nominated. All nominated candidates had to fill up a form where we had to mention our academic and co-curricular achievements. Based on that, 276 students were finally selected,” Mayank said.
Jenesys (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths), according to the JICE website, is a project proposed by the Japanese government in 2007. It invites youths to Japan mainly from the East Asian member countries every year.
For Sumana, the trip to Japan is an opportunity to spread knowledge about the Indian culture. “While I learn of their culture, I will spread mine too,” she said. “I am also interested in their latest inventions.”
A standard 10-day schedule for the touring students includes a visit to Tokyo and home stays to promote mutual understanding, friendship and trust through first-hand exchanges with local people.
“We had proposed the names of Sumana and Mayank because they are very talented. In the annual exams in 2008, both had scored 99 per cent,” said Shukla Dey, a teacher.
MEANWHILE FROM THE DARJEELING PLAINS
Trinamul skips meet – Section 144 to be lifted today
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Cooch Behar, May 13: The Trinamul Congress today stayed away from an all-party meeting called to restore normality in Toofanganj that has seen a series of political clashes this week. The CPM, however, interpreted its rival’s absence as its reluctance to shun violence.
The meeting, called by the subdivisional officer of Toofanganj where municipal polls are scheduled on May 30, agreed to lift Section 144 from tomorrow. Supporters of the CPM and Trinamul ransacked each other’s party and election booths on Monday, prompting the authorities to clamp prohibitory orders in town. Seventeen people were arrested.
The Left Front submitted a complaint to district magistrate Smaraki Mahapatra, alleging that Trinamul was indulging in violence and police were remaining inactive.
CPM district secretary Chandi Pal said: “They (Trinamul) do not want peace. We are apprehensive after their boycott that they will indulge in criminal activities on May 17 when they have a meeting in Toofanganj.” The front leaders said they had also drawn the attention of the district magistrate to the role of the police. “It was only after the police were attacked that arrests were made and Section 144 was imposed,” one of them said.
Trinamul district president Rabindranath Ghosh, however, defended the party’s decision. “Our supporters were singled out on Monday and the police unleashed terror on residents of Toofanganj. By imposing Section 144, the police have actually helped the CPM. There was no question of sitting with the murderous CPM,” Ghosh said.
A.K. Roy, the subdivisional officer of Toofanganj, said the participants in the meeting agreed to maintain peace during the election. “We will also see to it that outsiders do not enter the town on the voting day, Section 144 will be withdrawn from 6am tomorrow, but it can be re-imposed if the situation demands.”
The subdivisional officer of Dinhata, Chiranjib Ghosh, has issued a notice to Trinamul candidate in Ward 6, Ashok Mondol, also the local MLA, to remove election graffiti from the walls of the hospital staff quarters and the BSNL office next to it. “We have given the candidate 24 hours to clear the graffiti. It is part of the code of conduct that no one can use government property for electoral gains,” he said.
Mondol, however, said he was yet to receive any letter.
Poll code violation finger at railways
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, May 13: The Railway Recruitment Board has published an advertisement in newspapers asking for applications for teachers’ posts at a time when the poll process is on in 81 municipalities in the state, allegedly violating the model code of conduct.
While the CPM and the Congress have shot off complaints to the state election commission, Malda district magistrate Sridhar Ghosh has written to the RRB asking it to keep the recruitment process on hold till the election results are declared. The advertisement had appeared on May 8 seeking applications for posts of teachers in schools run by the railways.
Taking a potshot at Mamata Banerjee’s ministry, district CPM secretary Jiban Moitra said the railways had blatantly flouted the model code of conduct.
“We have complained to the state election commission that the railway ministry has disregarded the code of conduct,” Moitra said.
The Congress MP from South Malda, Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury, was also unhappy about the matter. “I want to know as a Lok Sabha member how the railways could flout the law. It is nothing but a ploy by the Trinamul Congress,” Abu Hashem said.
The district magistrate, who had sent a letter to the regional manager of the RRB, said a team of officials from the board’s Malda office had met him today. “I have asked them to stop the recruitment process till the elections are over. The elections are scheduled on May 30 and the process should be completed by June 9,” Ghosh said.
The regional chairman of the RRB, Tapan Kumar Mitra, said the recruitment process had been initiated by the board’s Chandigarh office.
“The recruitment is being made at the national level and our Malda office has nothing to do with it. We have received a letter from the district magistrate and I have communicated the matter to the Railway Board,” Mitra said over the phone from Calcutta.
Sources at the board’s office here said several job-seekers had come with their applications after the advertisement had been published. “We are not receiving the applications till further orders from higher-ups,” said an RRB employee in the Malda office.