GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL TURMOIL: Arrest demand – pursuant to the illegal phone tapping expose and Bengal withholding evidence ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 15: The president of the ABGL, Bharati Tamang, has threatened to start an indefinite hunger strike if those involved in Madan Tamang’s murder are not arrested immediately.
“I will sit for an indefinite hunger strike if justice is not delivered,” the slain leader’s wife said today.
She, however, did not say when she would go on fast even as her party supporters demonstrated in front of the Sukhiapokhri police station around 4pm today, demanding the arrest of those accused in the murder of their leader on May 21.
Tamang was hacked to death at the Clubside Motorstand.
The protesters dispersed from the venue, 18km from Darjeeling, after about an hour.
The ABGL supporters will hold another demonstration in front of the Darjeeling police station tomorrow from 10.30am with the same demand.
Brother breaks silence – explains that after meeting the Governor on the 19th he was asked not to accompany those leaving for Kalimpong ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 15: Amar Lama today broke his silence saying he would not act as an “alibi” for anyone in the case related to the murder of his brother, Madan Tamang.
Three days after the ABGL chief’s death, Lama, a one-time confidant of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, resigned from the party. Since then, Gurung has been seeking a clean chit from Lama on the Morcha, which has been accused of masterminding the killing.
Lama, in a written statement, said he had not commented on the case as investigations were on. “But since some defamatory attack is being made against me, I am compelled to break my silence,” he said.
“The people who are defaming me by suggesting that I am involved in the crime are themselves the prime accused and are said to be part of the conspiracy. The outcome of the investigation will eventually show who are behind the despicable and cowardly crime. I will not act as an alibi for anyone, least of all for the ones who have been named in the FIR. As far my position vis-a -vis the Morcha is concerned my resignation on May 14 speaks for itself,” said Lama in his statement.
An FIR lodged by ABGL leader Laxman Pradhan had named Gurung, party general secretary Roshan Giri and other senior Morcha leaders as conspirators.
Yesterday, the Morcha president had lashed out at Lama in Kalimpong, alleging that he might have had a hand in Tamang’s killing as the two were siblings and could have had some rivalry over property. “They could have had a dispute over property or money. Amar Lama was with me for months (preceding Tamang’s murder). He suddenly left on May 19 (two days before the Tamang’s murder). Why?” Gurung had asked.
Left glare on Morcha talks – knowing exactly what had transpired before but still playing political patsy ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 15: The CPM today asked the government to set conditions for the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to restore normality in the hills before the next round of tripartite talks with the hill party.
Another anti-Morcha alliance, the Democratic Front, has demanded that the Morcha top brass be arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder of Madan Tamang.
“The Morcha is fast loosing its ground which is why Bimal Gurung is threatening to break the record of the 40-day strike set by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a state committee member of the CPM from Darjeeling district, here today.
“We want the state and the Centre to put a precondition before the Morcha that it should refrain from issuing such threats to terrorise people and create pressure on the governments. If the Morcha agrees to the precondition, only then should the governments hold talks with it.”
The CPM leader said the Morcha’s proposed 40-day bandh across the hills would not be successful, as people, fed up with the party’s activities in the past three years, would not allow it to happen.
At a public meeting in Kalimpong yesterday, Gurung had threatened that bandhs would begin from the end of this month and an indefinite strike from August 4 if the Centre did not announce the date for the talks within the next few days.
Sarkar criticised the Morcha president and other leaders for their alleged involvement in the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang on May 21 in Darjeeling.
“Yesterday, Gurung had accused former Morcha leader Amar Lama, who was a key leader of the party till the day Tamang was killed, of his involvement in the murder,” Sarkar said. “Gurung pointing finger at Amar Lama only reaffirms the party’s role in the murder.”
The Democratic Front has also echoed the CPM. “It has become clear to everyone in the hills now that the murder is the handiwork of the Morcha whose senior leaders were involved,” said front convener Dawa Sherpa. “Till Amar Lama walked out of the party on May 24, he was an important leader of the Morcha. We do not know whether Lama was involved in the murder or not but we are sure that the Morcha was involved in it.”
When this “reconfirmation” (of Morcha leaders’ role) has come from Gurung himself, police should take legal steps and arrest them, Sherpa added.
Meena back with kitty for casual staff – Package comes with permanent job promise – something better than nothing, grab it boys, here comes the candy man, but beware of the catch ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, July 15: The state government today announced a package for the casual staff of the DGHC which could take the sheen off the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s agitation for the hill council workers.
The kitty was unveiled by council administrator B.L. Meena, who attended office at Lal Khoti here today, the first time since November 2009.
The Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangatan, an affiliate of the Morcha, is one of the strongest organisations which has been clamouring for the regularisation of jobs for the casual workers. The Morcha had also demanded that Meena should function from the hills, where the party frequently shuts down government offices.
“The state government has directed us to submit a list of workers who had been in the council for more than 10 years. These workers will get an enhanced monthly salary of Rs 6,500 and will also be entitled to Rs 1 lakh on retirement at the age of 60 (see chart),” said Meena.
Even though the state had come up with a similar package for its casual employees, it had not been extended to the council considered to be an autonomous body in the past. The announcement comes at a time the Morcha is in the backfoot following ABGL chief Madan Tamang’s murder and the government is trying to make a toehold for itself in the hills.
According to Meena, of the 6,321 casual staff members, about 1,300 have worked in the council for more than 10 years. These people will be entitled to the benefits.
“At the moment, Group C and Group D workers get a salary of Rs 4,000 and Rs 3,500 respectively. But now both the groups will get the same salary. We will be sending the list of candidates as soon as possible,” said Meena.
The DGHC has 3,472 vacant posts and Meena said the process for regularisation of jobs would continue simultaneously. “You can say that this is an interim package for those who have worked for more than 10 years,” the official added.
State, GJMM differ on DGHC Chief – does it really make a difference now ?!!
FROM THE STATESMAN
BY BAPPADITYA PAUL
KOLKATA, 14 JULY: The state government has ruled out removing Mr BL Meena as the administrator of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) before January 2011, even as the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) has threatened an intensified agitation in Darjeeling over the issue from 25 July.
Mr Meena was appointed the caretaker administrator of DGHC for a year in January 2009. But a few days before completing his term in January, the officer invited GJMM wrath by accusing the party leadership of wasting funds meant for development projects in the hills.
Since then, GJMM is demanding that Meena be removed from his post as DGHC administrator and that he not be given a further extension under any circumstances. In fact, pressing for the removal of Meena and the SDPO Kurseong, Mr Rakesh Singh, and demanding the resumption of tripartite talks on the Darjeeling imbroglio, the Hill party has convened a 24-hour strike in Darjeeling on 25 July.
This would be followed by a 72-hour shutdown from 28 July, while an indefinite closure of government offices in the hills over these issues is currently in progress.
However, ignoring the GJMM’s shutdown threat, the state government has already extended Meena’s term by a year and is in no mood to review the decision. “Meena has been given an extension and his term ends in January 2011,” the state chief secretary, Mr Ardhendu Sen, told The Statesman.
“There is no proposal for removing the current DGHC administrator before his extended term concludes on 31 January next year,” said another highly placed official in the state home department.
This being the case, the GJMM leadership, however, is acting on false information that Meena was granted a six-month extension from this January.
“Meena has completed his extended tenure on 30 June and our demand is that he must not be given any further extension. We are ready to welcome any other officer as the new DGHC administrator,” GJMM assistant general secretary, Mr Binay Tamang, said over the phone.
He warned that if the officers are not removed immediately and the tripartite parleys are not resumed, the state government would solely stand responsible for Darjeeling going volatile.
Meet on tea wage hike – state triggered to action at long last in a labour -management dispute ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 15: The state government has invited the tea unions to a tripartite meeting on July 22 in Calcutta even as garden labourers launched a “work-to-rule” protest in the Dooars and the Terai.
Under work-to-rule, the labourers will only do stipulated duties — and “nothing extra” — to demand an interim wage hike. For example, those in charge of plucking will not pick a single leaf after the bell rings, indicating duty hours were over.
Samir Roy, the convener of the Defence Committee of Plantation Workers’ Rights, an apex body of tea trade unions, said: “We will participate in the meeting on July 22 and based on the outcome, the future course of action would be chalked out.”
The Defence Committee, in association with the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, another apex body which has Citu and Intuc as constituents, had decided to launch the work-to-rule after planters had rejected an interim wage hike.
The tea unions claimed that the workers were finding it tough making ends meet with a daily wage of Rs 67.
“We will continue this protest till July 22 when the meeting is held in Calcutta. If the management representatives accept our demand, it is fine. Or else, we will go for intensive movement in the coming days,” said Aloke Chakraborty, the Darjeeling district Intuc president.
The union affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha claimed that the “work-to-rule” protest would fail to impact the gardens.
“But since we are fighting on the issue of wage revision on our own, we will attend the Calcutta meeting,” said Suraj Subba, general secretary of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union. “Our demonstrations and submission of memorandums to managers are going on but there was no impact of today’s protest.”
Tezkumar Toppo, the vice-chairman of Parishad-affiliated Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, said: “We have been intimated about the meeting but can disclose our stand only after we hold our meeting on July 18 at Banarhat in the Dooars,” he said.
AND FROM THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
Citu & Trinamul clash at NJP – Shops & two-wheelers ransacked – passengers shocked at Bengal Politics ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 15: Supporters of the Citu and the Trinamul Congress clashed on the premises of New Jalpaiguri Station this afternoon, forcing passengers and bystanders to run for cover.
Three shops and five two-wheelers were ransacked during the violence that began with a rally by Trinamul.
“We had organised a procession in front of the station to make our supporters aware of the coming Martyr’s Day in Calcutta on July 21. Without any provocation, Citu supporters hurled stones at us,” said Jaideep Nandi, the Trinamul Councillor of Ward 35 of Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
Trinamul alleged that police had not taken any action against the Citu members. “The Citu supporters also ransacked our party office on the station campus. When the attack and vandalism were going on, there were a handful of policemen who did nothing to stop the violence,” said Nandi.
However, Citu, the CPM’s labour wing, denied the charges and said the attack had been started by the Trinamul workers. “Our supporters had organised a rally in the station area yesterday against hike in fuel prices. During the rally, they sloganeered against the central government led by the Congress and Trinamul. This afternoon, Trinamul supporters took out a rally and as it reached our office, they started hurling brickbats at us. The office was pelted with stones and our supporters present on the spot were assaulted. Our workers came together and retaliated,” said Diwas Chaubey, the secretary of the Citu’s Darjeeling district committee.
Sources said the violence had begun around 1pm and forces from Bhaktinagar police station and the NJP outpost could not do much to quell the clash. “A police jeep’s windscreen was smashed by the Trinamul mob. Shops and two-wheelers were also targeted during the violence,” said a police officer.
With the chaos continuing for around three hours, passengers, bystanders and others ran for safety. Shops located outside the station downed their shutters and vehicles could not leave or enter the parking area.
The situation was brought under control after a large contingent of combat force, led by Pradip Dutta, the deputy superintendent (headquarters) of Jalpaiguri, and Achintya Gupta, the circle inspector of Jalpaiguri, reached the spot at 2.40pm. The police chased away the mob and recovered two live crude bombs from the spot.
“The clash took place when a rally by Trinamul supporters passed in front of the station, where the Citu office is located. Both the sides shouted offensive slogans at each other, which ignited the violence. Five persons were injured in the clash,” said V.S. Neshakumar, the additional superintendent of police of Jalpaiguri.
Gautam Deb, the Darjeeling district president of Trinamul, said the attack had been pre-planned and if the culprits were not arrested soon, a movement would be launched.
Protest in power office, twice in 12 hours – and only 2 hours power in Kalimpong, while only Teesta LDP III produces 32 MWs, where does it all go ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, July 15: The electricity office at Rathbari here was ransacked twice in 12 hours since last night by residents of the town and an adjacent gram panchayat, who claimed that were they were frustrated by the long spells of low voltage and power cuts.
Vast areas of Sarbamangala Palli, Sarat Palli, Ramakrishna Palli and Pranta Palli in Malda town had been experiencing low voltage since 8.30am yesterday. The residents claimed that the water supply was hampered because they could not run the pumps, while iron grille manufacturers and flour mill owners said they could not operate their machines because of low voltage.
The residents had called up the sector office of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited repeatedly. “But the officials did not even bother to visit our areas,” one of them alleged.
Around 10.30 last night, a crowd raided the Rathbari office and vandalised it for more than an hour prompting the officials to flee. Englishbazar police brought the situation under control.
Around 12 hours later, more than 500 people from the Nagharia panchayat area ransacked the sector office again at 10am today, after finding no senior official in the office. The protesters damaged the furniture and destroyed the electrical fittings.
The protesters claimed that the transformer in the area had been lying out of order for the past seven days. “We have lodged a complaint with the department. But it had not taken any initiative to repair or replace the machine. Today we came to know when the transformer would be set right but the employees here treated us badly,” said a villager.
Divisional manager of the power company Deepak Mondal, however, said the Nagharia residents had never informed the office about the faulty transformer.
Sameer Chatterjee, the sector-in-charge, said the power officials were suffering from fear psychosis. “We have been attacked twice in 12 hours. There is no guarantee that we shall not be attacked again. Despite a shortage of staff, we try to provide the best service to the consumers,” Chatterjee said.
Mondal attributed the power supply problem to local fault. “It took some time to correct the fault. But the people, unaware of it, ransacked the office,” he said.
District superintendent of police Bhuban Mondal said a picket had been set up at the sector office.