GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha lease-out plea to hill council – Police station protests stop, wheel jam stays

CRPF bus goes through the GJM picket in Darjeeling on the 2nd day of 2 hour 'chakka jam' - to register or to break the peaceful GJNM resentment protests ?!! (Darpan)

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha lease-out plea to hill council – Police station protests stop, wheel jam stays – GLP not requesting lease but Darjeeling citizens demanding their presence, Bengal still not tuned into reality but spun in their own schemes ?!!

CRPF personnel try to make their way through the Morcha road blockade on Hill Cart Road at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling on Tuesday – pushing, pushing very deliberately, good for security purposes ?!! (Photo by Suman Tamang)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, June 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has written to the DGHC to lease out properties occupied by the Gorkhaland Personnel for a year, another conciliatory gesture from the hill party within seven days. (True lies ?!!)

The letter says the Morcha is willing to pay rents. Although the DGHC has refused to acknowledge having received the request, Darjeeling district magistrate said he had already forwarded the letter to the council administrator.

The letter comes close on the heels of DGHC administrator B.L. Meena filing FIRs against the GLP occupation of seven council buildings across the Darjeeling hills.

The Morcha, which had been on the backfoot since ABGL leader Madan Tamang’s death last month, has been in recent times trying to avoid any confrontation with the government that is out to oust the squatters from the DGHC properties.

On June 22, in another of its softening stands, the Morcha had withdrawn the GLP — a squad of lathi-wielding volunteers — from three DGHC buildings at Deolo, Relli and Kafer in Kalimpong subdivision. The same day, the party had also lifted its indefinite strike after four days. But the squad still retains the Parijat Guest House in Gorubathan, Teesta-Tribeni Guest House, Roy Villa and the tourist centre at Jamuni.

After Meena filed the FIR, police had visited the GLP headquarters in Jamuni, 40km from Darjeeling town, on June 16 following which Morcha supporters agitated in front of Kurseong police station, hurling stones at the building. The police lathicharge on the crowd had led to the four-day shutdown across the hills starting June 19.

Roy Villa in Darjeeling is a DGHC property which has remained defunct for several decades. Sister Nivedita, an Anglo-Irish social worker and among the famous disciples of Swami Vivekananda, had spent the last few days of her life at Roy Villa, where she died on October 13, 1911.

The famed Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) was also started from Roy Villa before it was shifted to its present location at Birch Hill in the early 1950s. The council had renovated the property in the late 90s but had not been put into any use, before the GLP set up its camp.

While Parjiat is supposed to be a DGHC guest house for officials, the ones at Teesta-Tribeni and Jamuni are tourist centres that have not been fully completed till date. (any wonder why ?!!)

Darjeeling district magistrate Surendra Gupta said: “I have forwarded the letter (in which the Morcha has asked the buildings for rent) to the administrator of the DGHC as the properties belong to the council.”

Sources said the letter was submitted to Gupta by a Morcha delegation on June 25.

Meena, however, said he was unaware of any such request. “No, I have not received any such request,” said Meena. The Telegraph had called up Meena on two consecutive days to enquire about the Morcha letter but the official had the same answer on both the occasions. (Does such a letter exist ?!!)

Although the Morcha had publicly maintained that it would not vacate any more buildings, its request for lease underscores the fact that it does not want to go in for any confrontation with the state. The party has also decided to stop demonstrating in front of police stations and has asked it supporters to participate in the daily two-hour road blockades instead.

“The demonstrations in front of the police stations will be discontinued from today and supporters are requested to assemble for road blockades,” read posters signed by the Morcha’s town committee that were plastered in town today. The announcement comes even as there is a crackdown on those hindering traffic flow.

“The police have started a suo-motu case against Morcha activists staging road blockades. They have been booked under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 186/506 (obstruction of public servant and criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code,” said I.J. Thapa, the inspector-in-charge of Darjeeling Sadar police station. But no one has been arrested.

The blockades had started from Monday to demand the transfer of the Kurseong subdivisional officer who had ordered the lathicharge on June 16. The party also wants a judicial inquiry into the lathicharge.

Tribal meet postponed

The meeting between the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and the state government scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed by a day, home secretary Samar Ghosh said. The tribal delegation will sit for talks over various demands, including the granting of Sixth Schedule status to the Terai and the Dooars.

Kalimpong treks on silk route – Egg supplier to Assam – agitation similar to Darjeeling but good focus on trade & industry ?!!

Similar 2 hour 'chakka jams' in Kalimpong and Kurseong - peaceful and effective to get the protest message across with no CRPF tensions or legal threats ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY RAJEEV RAVIDAS

Kalimpong, June 29: The Central Silk Board has taken around 5,000 soalu trees of the Hill Nursery here on a three-year lease to rear muga worms as the hill town has started selling eggs of muga worms to Assam, famous for its expensive yarn.

In recent times, diseased seeds have become a cause of worry for the northeastern state that has been on the lookout for healthy eggs.

Soalu plants at the Hill Nursery. (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)

According to the understanding with the Kalimpong unit of the state directorate of textiles’ sericulture division, after three years, the silk board will cultivate soalu or kutmeru trees on the land under its possession. The lease from the nursery was taken around 10 days ago.

“The interest shown by the Central Silk Board should augur well for Kalimpong and other parts of the hills that have good potential for muga cultivation,” said Arup Thakur, the head of the Kalimpong unit of the sericulture division.

“I had first experimented with muga cultivation here in 2003. With the encouragement I received from B.K. Mukherjee, additional director of the directorate of textiles, we formally started the cultivation through the department in 2005,” he said.

The sericulture department had convinced cultivators to grow soalu trees — the leaves of which are eaten by worms that produce the yarns — on about 70 acres of land.

“About 80 families cultivate soalu. An acre of land can fetch each family around Rs 7,000 after each harvest,” said Thakur.

Cocoons of silkworms that feed on Soalu trees. (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)

The department buys cocoons from the cultivators at Re 1 a piece. The eggs are sold at Rs 5 per 100 gram within the state. The seeds are sold at Rs 6 per 100 gram to Assam. Last year, 500 seeds or eggs had been sold to Assam and 6,000 to Cooch Behar. Thakur said the target was to sell at least 4,000 seeds to Assam.

“You can either extract yarn from the cocoons or retain them and produce moths for laying eggs. These eggs or seeds are called disease-free layings or DFLs. There is a huge demand for DFLs in Assam and Cooch Behar,” said Thakur. According to him, the DFLs produced between July and August and September and October are the best.

“Muga silk costs anywhere between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 a kg in the market,” he said. He added that the department plans to expand the cultivation to other parts of the subdivision and Darjeeling.

“We want to start muga cultivation in Lingsey village. We have already started rearing the worms on a 10-acre plot of land under the Mungsong division of the cinchona plantation,” Thakur said.

MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

Councillor does a volte-face – can of worms yet to be exposed ?!!

Chaitali Sen Sharma leaves the SMC premises after withdrawing her resignation on Tuesday - points made ?!! (Kundan Yolmo)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, June 29: Trinamul Congress councillor Chaitali Sen Sharma today withdrew her resignation, barely 24 hours after putting in her papers and accusing her party members of harassing her.

However, the chairperson of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation said she was yet to decide if the letter intimating the withdrawal of resignation would be accepted.

This afternoon the councillor from Ward 31 and her party leader in the SMC, Gautam Deb, met chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal and handed her the letter withdrawing the resignation.

Sen Sharma who had cited “ill health and unavoidable circumstances” yesterday while quitting from her post, said today that “non-cooperation” from party workers was the reason behind putting in the papers.

The drama began late last evening when district youth leader Madan Bhattacharya and councillor Ranjan Shil Sharma, who had spit betel nut juice on a school inspector on June 9 last year, met Sen Sharma. Deb, the district president of Trinamul, later joined them to make the councillor see reason. They told her that her resignation would send wrong messages, which it did. The Congress in one of its spat with Trinamul had alleged that the party should first control its infighting.

Around midnight, Trinamul sources said, Sen Sharma had agreed to withdraw her resignation.

Asked what had prompted the U-turn, Sen Sharma said: “Our district president assured me that he would take action against those who tried to interfere with my work.” She said she had complained to the party leader against Kaushik Dutta, Bubai Dutta, Shovan Chakraborty and Mili Das.

The chairperson said she would decide on the councillor’s letter withdrawing her resignation after consulting the commissioner. “I have to follow the SMC act,” Agarwal said.

Mamata choice exposes rift – evolution possible ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Cooch Behar, June 29: The Trinamul Congress state leadership’s decision to nominate Amina Ahmed the vice-chairperson of the Cooch Behar municipality is snowballing into a major rift in the party with a two-time winner in the civic elections today announcing his intention to resign as the councillor.

Expressing displeasure over being ignored for the post of vice-chairperson, Dilip Saha, however, said he would remain with the party.

“I am not quitting the party but I have made up my mind to resign as councillor. I have taken the decision after speaking with members of the party’s ward committee,” said Saha today.

Amina had been chosen by the Trinamul state leadership after the party’s district unit had failed to reach a consensus on the nominee for the post.

Saha won from Ward 5 by a margin of 987 votes. “This is the highest winning margin in any of the 20 wards of this municipality. Moreover, I contested from the same ward in 2005 and I was the only Trinamul candidate to win at that time,” said Saha.

He was critical of Amina’s husband, Abdul Jalil Ahmed, a state general secretary of Trinamul, though he did not name him. “That there was lobbying in Calcutta before the party leadership to make Amina the vice-chairperson is something that a large section of our party members here cannot accept. Therefore, keeping in mind the sentiments of our supporters and voters, I will submit my resignation as councillor to the subdivisional officer on July 6, a day after Amina Ahmed is sworn in as the vice-chairperson,” said Saha.

Trinamul’s district president denied that there was any dissent in the party. “We are going to carry out the decision of the party leadership to the letter and Amina Ahmed will be sworn in as the vice-chairperson on July 5,” said Rabindranath Ghosh.

Abdul Jalil said: “We do not want to enter into any controversy, we are doing what our state leadership wants.”

2 cars a day for Assam thieves – no blame on the KLO ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY PANKAJ SARMA

Guwahati, June 29: Auto theft continues to be one of the most common crimes in Assam’s capital with two vehicles stolen on an average everyday.

Altogether 321 vehicles, including scooters and motorcycles, have been stolen from the city this year and most of them have been lifted from the Dispur police station area.

According to data available with police, from January till the first week of June, 65 auto theft cases were registered at Dispur police station followed by 42 cases at Chandmari, 32 at Jalukbari and 26 at Basistha police station.

The men in khaki have not been able to curb the menace despite their claims of intensifying vigil against theft of vehicles.

The situation was no different last year as of the 1,801 vehicles stolen from the state, 832 were lifted from the city.

A police official claimed that the police had busted several vehicle-lifting gangs at regular intervals and arrested the thieves. He, however, said the thieves after coming out of jail on bail take recourse to the crime.

“Moreover, there are many new entrants. So it is difficult to book them all,” the official said. According to him, the fact that an increasing number of youths, including students, are involving themselves in vehicle lifting is a worrying trend. “In many cases it has been found that they have become vehicle thieves as they need money to support their lavish lifestyle and it has put the police in a tight spot,” the official said.

He said police alone cannot prevent vehicle thefts as there are a huge number of vehicles in the city and the owners need to install anti-theft devices, which can go a long way in preventing the menace.

“For instance, a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device can be installed in the car, which will help police to trace the vehicle in the event of its theft or any other mishap,” the official said.

“Another problem as far as auto theft is concerned is the inter-state links of the vehicle-lifting gangs. For busting such gangs, sharing of real-time information across police stations in different states is very essential, which is not always possible because of various constraints,” he said.

The official said the Union ministry of home affairs had sanctioned a project — Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems — for linking all the police stations in the country under a single network.

“The sharing of real-time information is expected to improve once the system becomes functional as it will enable the police to have access to an up-to-date database and increase the rate of detection of crimes, including car thefts,” he said.

MEANWHILE

Hill civil society delegation to meet Buddha today – for good administration to subdue the Gorkha aspirations ?!!

From Indian Express Briefs

Kolkata, Wed Jun 30 2010, 03:38 hrs (PTI) : A delegation of the Civil Society of Darjeeling (*?!!) that was formed in the wake of the gruesome murder of Gorkha leader Madan Tamang, will meet Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday.

The group, which wants peace and democracy in the hills, is likely to request the CM to ensure good administration in Darjeeling.

AND IN BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH

Baby on bike run over

Malda, June 29: A two-and-a-half-year-old boy was run over by a truck after he fell from a scooter near Jadupur on NH34 this afternoon.

Police said the baby was on the two-wheeler with his mother Ayatullah Bibi and father Mobaraq Sheikh. He fell off the scooter after Sheikh lost control of the vehicle that was on its way to Narendrapur.

After the accident, residents of the locality blocked the highway for about two hours. The blockade was withdrawn around 3pm. Police said the driver of the truck fled with the vehicle.

Hiten Nag dies

Cooch Behar: Writer and teacher Hiten Nag passed away at a private nursing home in Siliguri on Tuesday. He was 73. Nag is survived by his wife, son and daughter. According to family sources, Nag was born in 1937 in Rangpur, now in Bangladesh.

After completing his post-graduation in Bengali from Presidency College, he joined Dinhata College as a teacher and retired from there as a senior lecturer. Nag was a member of the Forward Bloc. The party will hold a memorial meeting in Dinhata on Saturday.

Jumbo owner

Lone tusker not from Bihar but from Jharkhand - and not actually wild but mistreated into a rampage as with ?!!

Malda: The forest department has found that the tusker that had injured one person and destroyed five houses in Ratua on Sunday night is not a wild elephant.

Instead, the owner is from Sahebganj district of neighbouring Jharkhand. Divisional forest officer of Malda Ashok Pratap Singh said a captive elephant would not cause any trouble if it was not disturbed.

The owner was asked to take the animal back to Jharkhand.

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