GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Ex-GNLF man back at hill home – Peaceful return for Dawa after two years – now VP of ‘Federation for the creation of Smaller States’ in India, an absence of “democracy” in the Hills ?!! Bengal’s ‘political ruse’ to delay any ‘interim settlement’ or to make it unacceptable, citing Ghising’s DGHC delay ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, July 9: Former GNLF leader Dawa Pakhrin returned home here early this morning after nearly two years of exile in Siliguri and vowed to continue his fight for the creation of Gorkhaland.
Pakhrin’s return without resistance is in sharp contrast to the situation till two months back when the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s writ ran largely in the hills.
Pakhrin, a former Kalimpong unit president of Subash Ghisingh’s party, was among hundreds of GNLF supporters who had been hounded out of the hills by Morcha activists. His house was ransacked and partially burnt by Morcha supporters on July 26, 2008, forcing his family to flee to Siliguri.
The former GNLF leader’s homecoming was peaceful largely because of the Morcha’s new tactics of lying low after the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang on May 21.
Pakhrin, along with wife and domestic helps, moved into his house with a huge lawn at the Hill Top locality at 6am. “I am back at home after two years. I had left the place on July 26, 2008,” he told journalists.
“My appeal to all would be to put up a united fight for Gorkhaland. Otherwise, we will fail in our efforts. Burning down houses and chasing out people is not the right way to achieve our goal. We must do it in a peaceful manner,” he said.
Pakhrin had resigned as the Kalimpong unit president of the GNLF three months ago and yesterday, he severed all ties with the party.
Pakhrin said he had sacrificed his political guru (GNLF president) in favour of Gorkhaland, which he said was mother to him. “Ghisingh continues to stick to Sixth Schedule, but I am a firm believer of Gorkhaland. I will continue to fight for Gorkhaland,” he said.
Asked if the GNLF had made a mistake by negotiating for Sixth Schedule status for the hills, Pakhrin said maybe it was okay then (when Ghisingh was DGHC chief) as it was being seen only as a stepping stone towards statehood.
The former GNLF leader, however, asked the Morcha not to negotiate for anything less than Gorkhaland.
“Telengana has always stuck to the single point demand of a separate state. Those demanding Uttarakhand also did not waver, and eventually succeeded. We must show the same resolve,” he added.
Pakhrin said he was able to return home at the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, which had directed the state government to ensure his safe passage. “We had approached the commission as I desired to return home. Sometime back, the commission wrote to the state chief secretary and the director general police, asking them to ensure my safe return. When I reached here this morning, government and police officers were present,” he added.
A police picket has been posted at Pakhrin’s house for his security.
Even though Pakhrin refused to say if other exiled GNLF leaders would return to the hills like him, observers said such a possibility could not be ruled out.
“If Pakhrin manages to settle down, others will definitely return to the hills. We cannot rule out the hand of the state government in Pakhrin’s return. The Morcha has been on the back foot since Madan Tamang’s murder, and ever since, the government has been on a mission to cut the party down to size. Promises of development and jobs, enforcement of rule of law, drive against corruption, and now the return of the Morcha opponents. The government for sure has been on an overdrive,” said an observer.
Plan to revive quinine unit – well thank you, first the mortal wound, now the band aid – product factories and total distribution still in Bengal’s hands ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, July 9: The (Bengal) directorate of cinchona and other medicinal plants has chalked out a Rs 51-crore revival plan for the quinine factory at Mungpoo in a move to make the biggest public sector undertaking in the hills sustainable.
The plan has already been submitted to the state government. “The government is currently examining the Rs 51 crore proposal. We are also preparing a report to restart the grinding unit of the factory,” Gyan Chandra Subba, the director of the cinchona plantation, told The Telegraph.
The factory’s grinding unit has been closed for decades and its revival is expected to cost the state exchequer around Rs 30 lakh.
“It may take time to completely revive the quinine factory but if we can start the operations, a good inflow of revenue is expected,” said Subba.
The factory has been defunct for at least 10 years.
The cinchona plantation — only one of its kind in the country — is the biggest public undertaking in the hills, providing sustenance to around 40,000 people. However, the plantation is forced to sell dried cinchona bark because of the closure of the factory and it is running at an annual loss of Rs 2 crore.
“The cinchona barks are sold at Rs 100 per kg but if the grinding unit is revived, we can at least produce quinine powder which will fetch prices ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000,” said Subba.
The quinine factory was set up in 1875 to produce quinidine and quinine sulphate. Quinidine is widely used in cardiac ailments. The quinine, which is extracted from cinchona barks, is used in anti-malaria treatment and is an ingredient in sun-lotions, restorative tonic and insecticides.
The plantation is spread over 26,000 acres at Mungpoo and Latpanchar in Kurseong subdivision and at Munsong and Rongo in Kalimpong subdivision.
Sources in the horticulture department, under which the directorate falls, said the plantation had around 100 tonnes of cinchona barks lying in its godown. “It is not necessary to peel off cinchona barks annually and hence, the plantation still has a lot of standing crop. There are enough barks to run the factory for another 10 years,” said a source.
According to a government report, the plantation can yield five-seven tonnes of cinchona barks and the defunct factory has an installed capacity to produce around 14-15 tonnes of quinine annually.
MEANWHILE FROM DOOARS
Night track scan to rise – Pilot train at 30-minute interval, leash on speed – Siliguri Corridor tense, Bengal planning to reap the benefits of political uncertainty ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, July 9: The Northeast Frontier Railway has decided to run pilot engines more frequently at night between Alipurduar and New Bongaigaon stations after an explosion derailed the Garib Rath Express yesterday.
“We are getting information from police and intelligence sources that the threat of subversive activities is still present in the area. So we have decided to run pilot engines and motorised trolley cars at a gap of 30 minutes, instead of one hour, between Alipurduar and New Bongaigaon, 110km away,” said Indrajit Singh, the additional divisional railway manager here. It has also been decided to restrict the speed of long-distance trains to 40km per hour.
The NFR has been running the pilot engines between the two stations from 8pm to 7am everyday for the past 15 days.
As there is no alternative route, trains have to be run at night and so special measures have to be taken. “However, if the police in Bengal and Assam ask us to stop the running of trains at night, we will not hesitate to do so,” Singh said.
The divisional security commissioner of Alipurduar, Anjar Toppo, iterated that the threat from militant outfits like the NDFB and Ulfa was still there.
“We are in constant touch with the police and have recommended the running of trains at reduced speed at night. The police have been deployed to keep watch on bridges and culverts in the sensitive areas and to sensitise villagers so that they inform the security personnel if they come across anything suspicious,” Toppo said.
He said electrical wires were recovered from the site of yesterday’s derailment which means that the improvised explosive devise was not remote-controlled. “Quite a few people were there at the spot when the explosion was triggered.”
Even 36 hours after yesterday’s derailment, the restoration of tracks is yet to be completed at Babubill in Gossaigaon causing the late running of trains through the single line. “The work is going on in full swing and it should be completed by this evening,” Singh said.
According to sources at the NFR, four of the 19 injured passengers are still in hospital. The driver of the train, who suffered a serious injury, on the hand had been shifted to the railway hospital in Calcutta.