GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Morcha eases bandh, pulls out squatters – while Bengal’s squatters on all the ‘tri-shed land’ meant for wider roads & footpaths can continue to stay on as damage already deliberately created and hills calculatedly destroyed – no more illegal money left there ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
June 22: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced a 48-hour bandh relaxation starting 6am tomorrow and shifted its lathi-wielding volunteers from some of the government buildings they had been occupying, the conciliatory gestures coming within hours.
Its general secretary, Roshan Giri, said late tonight that the relief would last till 6am on Friday.
“It was made so that people are not inconvenienced,” Giri said, hours after the Morcha had threatened to strictly enforce the indefinite strike across the hills.
A sign that the Morcha was more keen to avoid a confrontation with the administration than ever before was evident when members of the Gorkhaland Personnel started vacating some of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) properties late last night.
However, the outfit tried to give the impression that it had not given up, saying it would not move out of the buildings that were better located.
Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, the president of the volunteer force, said the camps at Deolo, Relli, Kafer, Pedong and Algarah had already been vacated.
At Deolo, 5km from Kalimpong town, Kafer, 55km away, and Relli, 11km from Kalimpong, the Morcha had been occupying DGHC tourist lodges.
At Pedong and Algarah, it had taken over two government offices lying unused for years.
There were 49 Gorkhaland Personnel camps in the hills and seven of them were housed in DGHC buildings.
Four of them — Parijat Lodge and Dalim Fort in Gorubathan, Tribeni Lodge in Rongli-Rongliot and Roy Villa in Darjeeling — are still under Morcha occupation.
DGHC administrator B.L. Meena had filed FIRs against the volunteer force for occupying the seven properties.
Morcha sources said the reason the volunteers were being moved out was the urgency to dissociate with any confrontation or violence in the aftermath of the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang. The hill party has been accused of masterminding it.
“The backlash after Tamang’s death has been contained to a large extent and the Morcha does not want to get into a situation which might lead to a confrontation with the government and end in violence,” a leader said. “The government should also reciprocate this gesture by not insisting that the GLP moves out of the other properties.”
The administration indicated the Morcha had no option but to vacate all the buildings. “Action will be taken against all illegal occupants,” district police chief D.P. Singh said.
K.L. Tamta, the out-going north Bengal inspector-general of police, had warned the squatters that they risked being arrested.
Morcha buckles, GLP pulls out of govt buildings – so does Bengal wonder where the GLP are all hiding ?!!
From The Times of India
By Deep Gazmer
DARJEELING, Jun 23, 2010, 04.56am IST (TNN): The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) succumbed to government pressure on Tuesday and started dismantling camps of its ‘police wing’, the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP), and pulling them out of government buildings. On Monday, the state government had threatened to use force to demolish these camps.
In a further indication of the softening of stance, Morcha leader Roshan Giri announced late on Tuesday a relaxation of the indefinite bandh in the Hills from 6am on Wednesday to 6pm on Friday to “ease public inconvenience”.
The Morcha has suffered a dent in its support base after 11 of its top leaders, including its chief Bimal Gurung, were named in an FIR for the brutal murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang. The lathi-wielding GLP has gained notoriety for acts like smearing tar on people who do not wear the Gorkha traditional dress and stopping couples from holding hands in public.
On Sunday, however, there were reports of GLP cadres pulling out of camps in Dello, Relli, Pedong, Algarah and Kaffer in Kalimpong. “We have started vacating some Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council buildings on the orders of the GJM president,” GLP commandant colonel (retired) Ramesh Allay said.
AND EARLIER LAST EVENING
Strike to go on, says Morcha – 200 students to return to hill schools today amid bandh – Bengal still confused ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, June 22: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced that it would strengthen its picketers across the hills from tomorrow to strictly enforce the strike now that “the tourists had left” even as a group of 200-odd students from Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are planning to return to Darjeeling after their summer break tomorrow.
Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, today said: “We have allowed smooth passage of tourists for the past four days and it is only expected that all tourists have left town. From tomorrow we will increase picketers across the Darjeeling hills and only those who have emergencies to attend to like job interviews, medical treatment will be given a free passage.” Only those schools having internal term exams were exempted from the strike, he said.
In fact, the Morcha today started picketing in Singamari area (where the party’s office is situated) to check whether vehicles “were moving with proper documents”. The Morcha-affiliated All Hill Transport Joint Action Committee, a union of transporters, has been entrusted with the job of issuing “passes” during the strike.
Meanwhile, a group of 200-odd students from Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh are expected to reach Darjeeling tomorrow, after the Morcha issued permission for their “safe passage.”
The students belong to St Joseph’s School (North Point), which is among the best schools in the hills, where former kings of Nepal and Bhutan, among other royal members, have studied in the past.
“Cancelling tickets and getting confirmations is an arduous task for the students. Since the students are coming from various places, we decided to approach the Morcha to grant us safe passage to which they have agreed. We are thankful to the Morcha,” said Kinley Tshering, rector, North Point. The school is scheduled to reopen after their summer break on June 24.
Ten vehicles from North Point will leave for Birtamore- the nearest airport in Nepal, to fetch the 70-odd students from Nepal most from Kathmandu, while an equal number of cars will reach Phutensoling to get the students from Bhutan.
“The Thai and Bangladeshi students will be reaching Bagdogra airport,” said Tshering. North Point boarders from Calcutta, — there are about 35 boarders from the city — and the rest of country, will however come as and when the strike ends.
Adivasis open to statehood talks – step by step, row by row: the wider consensus for separation from Bengal is beginning to grow ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
June 22: The Terai-Dooars unit of the Adivasi Vikas Parishad today wrote to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha it was willing to discuss the proposal for a joint movement for a state called Gorkha Adivasi Parishad, in defiance of the outfit’s state leaders.
The letter has come as a shot in the arm for the Morcha, on the backfoot because of the backlash after the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang.
Since the Morcha launched its statehood movement two years ago, the Parishad had been insisting that the so-called Gorkhaland should not include the Dooars and Terai.
“We had written to the Parishad asking them to sit for talks on the issue. Today, we received a letter from them stating they were willing,” Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said in Darjeeling.
John Barla, the convener of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars unit, confirmed the letter and said: “We have not joined the movement yet. We have asked for time and will let them know in a day or two.”
About 40 per cent of the population in the Dooars and Terai is Adivasi. The Gorkhas, too, constitute 40 per cent of the population while the rest are Bengalis. (20 per cent ?!!)
Since the Morcha promised to rechristen Gorkhaland the Gorkha Adivasi Parishad (*?!!), Barla had been keen to sit for talks but his state leaders had prevented him from doing so.
Today, Barla said: “There is no need to involve the state leaders in this as it is a decision concerning our region.”
Morcha makes foray into ballot politics: Dooars win a snub to Buddha, says Gurung – foresighted politics in a peaceful manner ?!!
From The Telegraph Bureau
Nov 10, 2009: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today met with its first success in electoral politics with the victory of Wilson Champromari, the Independent it had backed in Kalchini. For the hill party, the conquest of the Dooars seat is a significant development ahead of the tripartite talks in Darjeeling on December 21.
The Morcha support to Khageswar Roy of the Trinamul Congress in Rajgunj also resulted in Mamata Banerjee’s party securing its second MLA from north Bengal (the first being Ashok Mondal from Dinhata) in a seat that has been traditionally held by the CPM.
“I remember chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee categorically challenging me to win an election when I had raised the issue of the Dooars (that the region should be part of Gorkhaland) at one of our meetings in Calcutta. He had snubbed us about Dooars and I had staged a walkout. The victory in Kalchini is a slap on Bhattacharjee’s face,” said Morcha president Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling today.
“We will now say that there is a mandate for Gorkhaland even in the Dooars and this stand will figure prominently in the next round of talks,” he added.
Even though the Morcha leadership is upbeat over the development, political observers feel that the Adivasi community, which forms around 40 per cent of the Dooars population, is opposed to the inclusion of the area in Gorkhaland, the new state that the hill party has been demanding.
Observers said the candidate supported by the Morcha won because Adivasis, who had so far largely voted for the RSP, had for the first time put up an Independent to further the cause of their outfit, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.
“This resulted in the splitting of the Adivasi votes which earlier had largely gone (only) to the RSP,” an observer said. “The Adivasi votes split and the Nepali votes going en mass to the Morcha candidate, Wilson Champromari won the polls.”
The Nepalis, who constitute about 30 per cent of the population and were RSP supporters once, consolidated their votes for the Morcha backed candidate.
The Adivasi community had turned against the Left Front after the arrest of a number of Parishad leaders in clashes with the Morcha supporters earlier this year.
“We have voted for the Left, but instead of supporting us the government arrested our people when we protested against the Morcha demand to include the Dooars in Gorkhaland,” a Parishad leader said.
Kshiti Goswami, the public works minister from the RSP, admitted the alienation suffered by the Adivasis. “The Left has failed to address the problems of the Adivasis and they got alienated from us,” Goswami said. “That is again why they supported their own candidate and our votes got split in Kalchini.”
The traditional winners of Kalchini, the RSP, has been pushed to the third place and the Congress to a distant fourth, with the Independent candidate supported by the Parishad bagging the runners-up position.
Many believe that Gurung’s selection of Wilson, an Adivasi, proved to be a good choice as he managed to garner tribal votes, which helped him sail through.
“Moreover, the manner in which the Morcha pressured the state government to open closed gardens acted as a positive move in the eyes of the voters. The Chinchula tea garden was reopened before the Pujas,” said an observer.
In Rajgunj, Trinamul’s Khageswar Roy romped home to victory with the backing of the Morcha. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the Morcha backed BJP candidate had polled 33,000 votes but this time, the party polled a paltry 14,000 votes.
Trinamul leader Partha Chatterjee dodged the question on whether the Morcha support had played a role in Rajgunj. “We did not seek any support and I do not want to comment. It was definitely the apathy of the state government that led that community to vote against them,” said Chatterjee.
However, Gurung seemed to be happy with the Rajgunj outcome. “We had supported Trinamul Congress as we might have to talk to them in the future. After all, we cannot be rigid and our move has paid off,” the Morcha president said, hinting about the probable change in guard in 2011.
Mamata calls it a “vote against atrocities” – like the daylight murder of Madan Tamang and CPM’s unashamed gloating ?!!
From The Hindu
By Marcus Dam
Trinamool Congress won seven of the 10 seats
Independent backed by GJM wins from Kalchini
KOLKATA, Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009: The Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance in West Bengal swept the Assembly by-elections, bagging eight of the 10 seats that went to the polls on November 7. The ruling Left Front and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) shared the remaining seats. The results were announced on Tuesday.
The GJM made its presence felt for the first time in the electoral map of the plains of north Bengal, where an Independent backed by it won. While the Trinamool Congress won in all the seven constituencies where it had put up its nominees, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) lost in all the five it contested, failing to retain two. The Congress could hold on to one of the two seats it had held with the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) wresting the other from it.
The Independent’s win in Kalchini in Jalpaiguri district is expected to strengthen the GJM leadership’s demand for the inclusion of the Dooars region of the district (where Kalchini is located) into its proposed Gorkhaland, comprising the Darjeeling hills and certain areas contiguous to it.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee dedicated the victory to “the peace-loving people” of the State and described the electoral outcome as a “vote against atrocities” and a “vote against State-sponsored terrorism.”
“If they [the Left Front] do not take a lesson after this also, I am sorry… It will only request the Centre to please take care and give protection to people,” she told journalists in New Delhi.
Secretary of the West Bengal State Committee of the CPI(M) Biman Bose admitted that except for the Goalpokhor seat, “the people had given their mandate against the Left Front candidates.”
The reasons would be analysed and looked into, he said.
The mood in the Trinamool Congress camp was upbeat, particularly over the wresting of Kolkata’s Belgachia East constituency from the CPI(M), which has held it since 1977. The losing CPI(M) candidate was Ramola Chakraborty, wife of the late senior party leader Subhas Chakraborty.
The Congress lost Goalpokhor in Uttar Dinajpur district to the AIFB. The seat was previously held by party heavyweight Deepa Dasmunshi, who is now an MP.
MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS BELOW DARJEELING
Bankruptcy fails to spoil CCTV plan – a failed CPM parochial system ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, June 22: Barely a week into his new responsibility as the chairperson of the Englishbazar municipality, Krishnendu Chowdhury is faced with the prospect of running a civic body in the red but is bent on going ahead with his plan to instal CCTVs in the office.
“The municipality has not done anything to raise its revenue all these years. In 2005, when I left the chairman’s post after five years, the revenue stood at Rs 70 to 80 lakh a month. This has come down to Rs 30 lakh,” claimed Chowdhury, who is also the local Congress MLA.
The monthly wage bill for the municipality stands at Rs 64 lakh. “Though the wages of the civic employees are paid by the state government, the municipality spends Rs 20 lakh a month to pay the casual workers,” he said.
After going through the files of various departments, Chowdhury, who was sworn in on Wednesday, is finding it tough to figure out how to pull the municipality out of the financial mire that it has got into. The new chairperson said the previous board (run by the Congress-Trinamul Congress-BJP combine) had appointed a large number of casual workers without looking into the financial implications.
“There is no way out but to raise the revenue to reduce debts. We are going to sit with the state municipal affairs department and chalk out the major problems Englishbazar faces like solid waste management, the supply of filtered water to households and drainage. We will also sit with the departments concerned along with our councillors and the opposition members,” Chowdhury said.
On installing closed circuit television sets in the civic body — a move the new chairperson announced yesterday to monitor work atmosphere — Chowdhury said it would not cost much. “I had set up the CCTVs when I was the chairman last time, but they were later dismantled. It will cost barely Rs 1.5 lakh to be installed,” he said.
According to sources, the civic body has over Rs 5 crore pending as electricity bills, Rs 3.7 crore as payment to contractors and Rs 40 lakh dues for the purchase of electrical equipment. An interest-free loan of Rs 40 lakh taken from the North Bengal Development Council for construction of a market complex has also not been repaid, a source said.
Babla Sarkar, the former vice-chairman of the municipality and the Trinamul Congress councillor, however, alleged that the state government had not released funds in tune with the population. “The state government has not given us any financial help in the past five years.”
The Opposition leader in the municipality, Nihar Ghosh, singularly blamed the previous board for recruiting casual workers at the drop of a hat. “They have lowered the allocation for development work to pay the salaries of the casual workers from the civic coffers,” Ghosh said.
AND IN BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH
SFI on college rampage
Alipurduar, June 22: SFI activists today ransacked the union office of Alipurduar College and allegedly injured two rival student leaders and a teacher inside a classroom, prompting the authorities to suspend all work in the institution except for the practical exams that were on.
The injured leaders of the Chhatra Parishad and the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad have been hospitalised in serious condition. The incident was a fallout of an altercation between members of the CP and SFI on the distribution of admission forms. Lecturer-in-charge Suvendu Dhar said the teachers would ask for security.
Crash kills 3
Islampur: Three persons died and seven others were injured when a car collided with a truck at Ramganj near Islampur on Tuesday morning. Police said the deceased were Subhash Pal, 32, Rina Karmakar, 34, and 7-year-old Sajani Karmakar. The three were residents of Islampur and were returning from Debijhora after attending a marriage. Of the seven injured persons, three were admitted to the local subdivisional hospital and four were sent to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. The police have seized the truck and arrested the driver.
Siliguri: The Sanskriti Express, being run as part of the 150 birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, will reach Siliguri Junction on Wednesday. People can visit an exhibition arranged on the five-coach train from 8am to 8pm. The train will be at the station on Thursday. Its next stop is Raiganj.
Siliguri: Siliguri Town Congress Committee submitted a memorandum to the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, on Tuesday, demanding action against criminals roaming free in Ward VII of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. The party has threatened an agitation if no steps are taken.
Islampur: Bankim Mondal, 22, committed suicide by consuming poison at his residence in Chuabari, Chopra, on Tuesday. Police said depression was the reason for the suicide.