GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Contempt notice to Gurung – Supreme Court hauls up Morcha for NH31A blockade – difficult to prove it was the ‘party directive’ when it was clearly declared after the ‘SC ruling’ that all highways would remain open, ‘people or the party’ ?!! – but Bobbbc, that’s another ball-game, people’s backlash against Sikkim to harden, wrong politics, for taking to court a ‘just cause’ ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, June 11: The Supreme Court today issued contempt notices to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and two others for repeatedly violating its order not to obstruct NH31A during frequent agitation for and against Gorkhaland. The national highway is land-locked Sikkim’s only link with the rest of the country.
A two-judge vacation bench of Justices Deepak Verma and K.S. Radhakrishnan issued the notices to Gurung, Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang and Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the Bangla Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, an anti-Gorkhaland outfit based in Siliguri.
The bench also asked the Union government and the chief secretary and home secretary of West Bengal to explain why the steps that they had taken to keep the national highway free of blockades were not working.
The court had earlier, acting on a petition filed by Gangtok-based social activist OP Bhandari, passed two orders asking political parties to refrain from blocking the national highway as it caused “immense hardships” to the people of Sikkim.
Bhandari in his PIL had claimed that students, patients and tourists going to and from the state were severely inconvenienced by the frequent blockades on the highway. He later filed a contempt petition against the Morcha and the (Bangla-o-Bangla) Bhasha Banchao Committee.
Bhandari alleged that the two outfits had together called for at least seven strikes since December 14, 2009, for and against Gorkhaland. Emboldened by these strikes, the Morcha, he said, had called for another 10-day shutdown from June 12.
The Morcha later withdrew the bandh.
But Bhandari sought another direction from the court (by filing a contempt petition) to ensure that the outfits complied with the two earlier orders.
Bhandari also urged the court to award the outfits and their office-bearers the maximum punishment under the law for flouting its orders.
Although the Contempt of Courts Act prescribes a jail term of maximum six months as punishment, the Supreme Court can in exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction can award any punishment to those accused of violating court orders.
On July 3, 2008, the top court had passed an interim order asking the Centre and the Sikkim and the Bengal governments to take all steps to ensure free traffic on the highway.
“…any obstruction to NH31A to and from Sikkim results in Sikkim being almost completely cut off from the rest of India,” the top court had observed.
It had also asked the agitating outfits to ensure that there was no blockade on the national highway. (Any orders against the population of the region ?!!)
In another order, the second one, passed on January 25, 2010, the court had warned the outfits that the order applied to them too.
“Any lapse in following these directions will have serious consequences, including detention of office-bearers and persons who are responsible for doing such obstruction,” the court had cautioned.
Appearing for Bhandari, senior counsel P.H. Parekh drew the court’s attention to the fact that the two organisations had been frequently blocking the national highway during their agitation. (Before the SC order ?!!)
He said one of the outfits (the Morcha) was planning to lay siege to the highway from June 12. The siege would cause serious hardship to the people of Sikkim as the highway was the lifeline of the land-locked state, he said.
Bhandari said the Bhasha Banchao Committee had called a strike on May 14 followed by a two-day bandh by the Morcha. During both the bandhs vehicles were attacked along the highway. (But by whom, is the crore rupee question – party or the people ?!!)
“We had submitted photographs and other evidence along with the contempt petition to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Numbers missing in rally – ABGL gets to hold memorial service at murder spot – lessons in politics to Asok and Buddhadeb ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, June 11: The ABGL was finally able to hold a public gathering today, and that too, at the spot where its president was hacked to death three weeks ago.
But the turnout at the memorial service was a chilling reminder to rivals of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that the grassroots had to be mobilised if they were to throw a credible challenge to Bimal Gurung, whose party has been accused of masterminding the ABGL chief’s murder.
Surrounded by a large number of armed personnel of the Indian Reserve Battalion, the ABGL members, mostly women, congregated at Clubside motor stand around 10am and held a prayer service for Madan Tamang who was killed on May 21 while overseeing arrangements for a public meeting.
Tamang had been prevented from holding public meetings — even after getting permission from the district administration — on several occasions by the Morcha’s frontal organisations. The Morcha modus operandi was to occupy the venue with its supporters, far outnumbering those of the ABGL, which had no option but to vacate the place.
Policemen also lined the roads that the rallyists took to reach the district collectorate, where the newly formed Democratic Front of which Tamang was the convener, submitted a memorandum to the district administration. Sources at the Sadar police station said there were about 50 policemen posted at the Clubside motor stand and along Ladenla Road, Hill Cart Road and Lebong Cart Road.
“It is an irony that our leader had to pay with his life so that we could hold a rally in peace today. Every time Madan Tamang wanted to hold a public meeting or a rally, the Morcha created tension and prevented him from speaking publicly,” an ABGL supporter said.
After the massive gathering at Tamang’s funeral in Darjeeling on May 24, today’s turnaround was a disappointment with only 120 people attending the rally.
Despite being on the back-foot since the May 21 incident, the Morcha had still been able to organise a huge rally nine days after Tamang’s murder.
The ABGL alleged that the investigation into Tamang’s murder was not being carried out in an “impartial environment” since the Bengal government was “immobilised” in the hills.
“The political situation in the hills has immobilised the Bengal administrative machinery to an extent that the state agencies have not been able to work in an impartial environment. The intervention of vested interest groups and the fear of a political party, with its clout in the hills, leave very little space for impartial and speedy investigation into the assassination,” said Laxman Pradhan, district secretary of the ABGL.
Blaming the state for the current state of affairs, the front — a conglomeration of seven anti-Morcha parties in the hills — stated in its memorandum: “The slow process of investigation and the silent attitude of the state seem to convey a strong message to the hills that justice and democracy are illusionary concepts… The GJM has instilled fear amongst the peace loving residents of the hills. The faith of the people in democracy and justice is being tested.”
The front cited the flouting of Section 144 by Morcha chief Gurung, while he was returning from Kalimpong with a cavalcade of 100-cars on May 25, along with the rally on May 30, as example of the state government’s inaction.
The CID, which is currently probing the death, has so far arrested three persons. The ABGL supporters who did not shout any anti-Morcha slogans however demanded that “all the culprits should be immediately arrested”.
Political unrest compels students to take admission in Siliguri – wonder why ?!! A complete, unbiased and factual report reflecting the true educational status in the Hills after the merciless laathi charge on students there on 5th February 2010 – or actually hill students left with no choice due to no facilities in the hills – conscientious neglect by Bengal ?!!
FROM ASIA NEWS INTERNATIONAL
Siliguri (West Bengal), June 11 (ANI): With the continued political disruptions in Darjeeling hills over demand for a separate Gorkhaland, the students here are moving to the nearby town of Siliguri for higher education.
The colleges in Siliguri are receiving a large number of applications from Darjeeling students.
“Admissions are going on in full swing, as you can see there is a lot of gathering here, yesterday was the same. There is a huge rush of students from the hills this time, as they say that there is a lot of disturbance in that area. The infrastructure of education is totally disrupted there, so lots of male and female students are coming here,” said Amit Goswami, Students Union General Secretary.
The recent incidents of violence have further destroyed normalcy in the area.After the assassination of Madan Tamang, there were strikes and students had to participate in the movement. So, our education is getting hampered and we miss our classes due to the strikes. All this is hampering the education,” said Vineet Pradhan, a student from the Darjeeling hills.
The students are turning up in large numbers to Siliguri for its peaceful atmosphere.
“You need a good environment for education, which we don’t have there because of politics. Students don’t have any link with politics. A student needs a good environment for studying. Siliguri is close by and a cheap place too, so we have come here to study,” said Pranesh Rai, a student from Darjeeling.
Darjeeling has been in turmoil since the demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
The Gorkhas have been demanding a separate state, to be carved out of West Bengal, to help them preserve their culture and heritage. (ANI)
MEANWHILE FROM BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
MLA unfazed by arrest fiat – defiant stand against the law by CPM ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, June 11: The CPM MLA of Kaliachak, Biswanath Ghosh, has dared the railways to get him arrested even as the chief judicial magistrate’s court here issued a warrant against him for destroying railway property and blocking trains for over 10 hours.
The warrant was issued on Monday against the MLA and 10 others on a petition filed by the Malda Government Railway Police. However, the warrant is yet be executed as the GRP and police are busy passing the buck on each other.
“I am roaming around a free man, participating in many public functions. The movement I was leading was for the benefit of the people of Kaliachak. The railways had been informed two weeks in advance that we would hold a rail roko. The railways have not fulfilled a single demand we raised. Let them arrest me if they have the guts,” said Ghosh.
CPM supporters led by Ghosh had squatted on the tracks at Khaltipur station on September 8, demanding stops of long-distance trains there and the introduction of a computerised reservation system. Thirty trains were delayed inordinately in the protest held from 4pm till 2am. The agitators also ransacked the station, provoking a lathi-charge by the GRP personnel.
The next day, the station manager of Khaltipur, S.K. Kanth, filed a complaint against Ghosh and the 10 others with the GRP. The Malda GRP approached the court for arrest warrants after failing to take into custody the offenders for eight months.
But the GRP has put the ball in Malda police’s court to arrest Ghosh. “The Malda police should make the arrest, and in any case, we have not got any such order from the court,” said Jayanta Pal, the superintendent of the Siliguri GRP. However, Malda police chief Bhuban Mondal said it was up to the GRP to make the arrests.