GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: GJM welcomes tripartite talks on July 24 – and now the agenda ?!!
From The Hindu
By The Hindu Special Correspondent
KOLKATA, July 19, 2010: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha has welcomed the Centre’s decision to convene the sixth round of tripartite discussions in New Delhi on July 24 to solve the political impasse in the Darjeeling Hills due to its demand for a separate State.
The GJM has been insisting that the talks be held at the earliest. The GJM has of late been working on reasserting its supremacy in the region in the wake of the public outrage triggered by the assassination of Madan Tamang, prominent anti-GJM leader, on May 21. GJM activists were alleged to have been behind the killing.
Questions are being raised on whether the Centre’s move to convene the talks had been prompted by concerns over the threat by the GJM to call for strikes beginning with a bandh on July 25, followed by a three-day bandh three days later and a 40-day bandh from August 4.
State asks Delhi to defer hill talks – but naturally, doing everything against making any progress ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY NISHIT DHOLABHAI
New Delhi, July 19: The Bengal government today asked the Centre to defer the tripartite talks with the Gorkha Janmutki Morcha. The home ministry, as a result, is unlikely to convene the negotiations on July 24, a date announced earlier by Delhi.
A fax from Writers’ Buildings has requested the ministry to defer the talks, sources told The Telegraph.
The probable postponement comes in the wake of evidence collected by Bengal police, which could nail top Morcha leaders in the Madan Tamang murder case.
Phone conversations between Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri and cadres were reportedly recorded by the police before and after the murder on May 21. “We told the Bengal police to arrest (them) if they have the evidence,” said a home ministry source.
The Bengal government’s predicament is that it would be difficult to take action against Giri and others, who could be accused in the Tamang murder case, after sitting across the table with them.
Moreover, the Darjeeling unit of the CPM — the party that heads the Left Front government in the state — is opposed to the talks. In Delhi, officials believe that Bengal would not like to go ahead with the meeting before the Assembly elections.
The meeting was to discuss the Centre’s proposal for an interim authority for the Darjeeling hills on the lines of the DGHC, which earlier was an elected body.
For the Morcha, the fear is that the interim body could be equated with the Sixth Schedule status proposed by GNLF chief and former chairperson of the DGHC, Subash Ghisingh.
“Right now, it is the internal dynamics of the Morcha and the Bengal government’s worries that are important,” said a source.
Voice transcripts are admissible in court after tests at a forensic lab. But for the CPM-led government, elections are a priority and the talks may be conveniently pushed over to next year. North Block, however, would ideally like to continue its engagement with the Morcha, the source said.
SC on highway
The Supreme Court on Monday again directed the Centre and the Bengal government and parties agitating for and against Gorkhaland to stop blocking NH31A, the highway that links Sikkim with the rest of the country.
The top court order came just days ahead of a proposed 24-hour bandh by the Morcha on July 25. The court was acting on a PIL filed by O.P. Bhandari, a resident of Sikkim, who said bandhs cut off the landlocked state completely, snapping supply of essential commodities.
Desist from blocking highway, court tells Gorkha protesters – yes, and sorry Your Honour … did the Queens Baton Relay cause too many problems and what about Bobbbc ?!!
From Sify News
JUNE, 19, 2010: The Supreme Court Monday asked the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to desist from blocking the National Highway-31A, which links Siliguri in West Bengal to Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, during its proposed shutdown July 25.
The court has asked GJMM to ‘strictly’ adhere to its earlier direction to refrain from blocking the NH-31A during the course of its agitation.
The court said that the contempt of court notice issued on GJJM leaders Bimal Gurung and Binoy Tamang which they have declined to receive should be served on them by placing public notices in the Sikkim Express and the Darjeeling edition of The Statesman.
The apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice A.K. Patnaik also recorded the statement of the petitioner, O.P. Bhandari.
The court has directed all the respondents who have been served with contempt notice to file their reply within four weeks and gave two weeks time to the petitioner to file his rejoinder.
The senior counsel Pravin Parekh told the court that the central government has withdrawn the three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed for protecting the NH-31A and for the free flow of traffic.
The West Bengal government in its reply said that it was taking every step for the effective implementation of the court’s direction for an uninterrupted movement of traffic on NH-31A.
It said that the CRPF was withdrawn by the union home ministry April 22, 2010 but was re-deployed June 15, 2010.
The State government’s affidavit said that presence of CRPF was helpful in ‘effectively’ implementing the Supreme Court directions for free flow of traffic on National Highway 31A (NH 31A) during bandh call either by Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha and other anti-Gorkha agitation organizations.
No talks with GJM, say CPM, Gorkha League – no diplomatic moves left in Bengal ?!!
From Indian Express
By Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
Kolkata, Mon Jul 19 2010, 03:30 hrs: The state had to swallow the Centre’s bitter pill of tripartite talks on the Darjeeling issue in Delhi on July 24. But the party’s Darjeeling unit vehemently opposed the idea on Sunday, saying it will strengthen the hands of those who are indulging in the politics of destruction and mayhem.
“The hands of those coming to attend the talks from Darjeeling (the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) are smeared with blood of Madan Tamang,” said Saman Pathak, CPM Rajya Sabha member from Darjeeling, at a press conference at Siliguri. “Their names are there in the FIR lodged after the murder of the respected leader. The talks can be held only after the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to justice.”
On Saturday, Home Secretary Samar Ghosh said in Kolkata that the meeting was called by the Centre and it had no other option but to attend it. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would select those who would represent the state government at the talks.
According to political circles, the situation will be extremely embarrassing for Ashok Bhattacharya, Minister for Urban Development, who in all likelihood will be nominated for the talks.
Bhattacharya, who had represented the state government in the earlier round of tripartite talk in Delhi, had demanded on Friday that GJM leaders Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri be arrested, following The Indian Express report of their complicity in Tamang’s murder.
Patak also said that all agitations will have to be withdrawn before talks are held.
“On the one hand you are holding agitations and bandhs and on the other, you are attending talks. How can this be tolerated?” he said. “And we also demand that for the next round of talks, not only the GJM but other major outfits of the hills be called.”
At a meeting held on Sunday, the Gorkha League, meanwhile, took a resolution opposing the tripartite talks.
Lakshman Pradhan, spokesman for the Gorkha League, said: “Instead of solving the Tamang murder case, talks have been convened. Now that The Indian Express has made it clear who are the culprits, how can the Central government call those very people for talks? And this time they should call us too, along with other major outfits of the hills.”
ABGL dent in Morcha turf – good progress in a population of lakhs ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 19: The ABGL has started fanning out across the hills, claiming that it has formed committees in areas known to be in the grip of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL, today said: “In the Relli-Jephi area, 39 families owing allegiance to the Morcha have joined us. Similarly, 29 families from the Rimbick-Lodhama area have also enrolled in the party under the leadership of Rajen Rai.”
Buoyed by the support — this is the first time that any Morcha rival has claimed that supporters of Gurung’s party have switched loyalties — the ABGL has started forming units across the hills.
The party has also revived Tarun Gorkha, its youth wing, and has made Chewang Bhutia and Binod Gurung the presidents of its Kalimpong and Darjeeling units respectively. G. Sharma will be in charge of Kurseong.
Cloud on talks, relief for hydel projects – Strike lifted after tech college promise – but any change in electricity outages ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 19: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to withdraw its 70-day-old strike at two NHPC project sites from tomorrow following an assurance from the central power agency that it will set up an engineering college in the hills.
The Teesta Low Dam Project Stage III (worth Rs 768.92 crore) which is coming up at Kalijhora and the Stage IV (worth Rs 1,061.30 crore) at 27th Mile in Kalimpong subdivision have missed the deadline because of bandhs and agitation. The project costs are according to 2002 pricing.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, today said: “We had submitted a memorandum to the NHPC with four demands 86 days ago. Since they did not come up with any assurance after a fortnight, we had called a strike. We have now received a positive letter from the NHPC and have decided to lift the strikes from tomorrow.”
The Morcha had demanded that the NHPC should set up an engineering college in Darjeeling, provide free electricity to people living within 1km radius of the project, carry out local development work and an MRI unit.
“The NHPC has written to the district magistrate seeking his help to find a location to set up the engineering college and the MRI unit,” said Giri. An NHPC official substantiated the Morcha claim. “Whatever Giri has said is correct,” he said without elaborating.
The TLDP III was set to be completed in December 2009, while the TLDP IV was commissioned for December 2010.
Save-garden plea as rivers go on rampage – but does Bengal have ears to listen ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
July 19: The managements of three gardens in the Dooars have asked the irrigation department to help them evacuate the labour quarters since the rivers in spate are eating into the estate land.
The southwest monsoon has already led to the rise in water levels in the Teesta and the Jaldhaka for which primary alerts had been sounded for the past two days.
“In the past 24 hours, there had been substantial rainfall in the catchments of Teesta river. Sevoke received 172mm while Gajaldoba got 47.8mm, Domohoni 65.8mm and Jalpaiguri 52mm,” said an official at the Regional Met Office in Jalpaiguri. “It rained 51.4mm in the area where NH31 crosses the Jaldhaka, whose level has risen.” The rainfall recorded in the areas is much above the monsoon average of around 30-50mm a day.
In Siliguri, it rained 54mm in the past 24 hours while in Darjeeling, the rainfall recorded was 25.8mm. During the same period, the rainfall in Cooch Behar was 18mm, Alipurduar 16.4mm and Gangtok 16.2mm. Lava in Kalimpong subdivision received 82.3mm of rain. “We have a forecast of heavy to very heavy rainfall throughout the region in the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar in the next 24 hours,” the Met official said.
With the downpour consistent, the managements of Nimtijhora, Atiabari and Madhu tea estates have written to the district irrigation department for protection against erosion. The Kaljani, Basra and the Dima — rivers that skirt the estates — are eating into the garden land, posing a threat to the plantations and even the labour quarters.
“It is a tough situation as the swelled rivers are gobbling up earth from the banks and coming closer to the garden boundaries by the hour. We suspect that if the trend continues, our plantations and labour quarters would be eroded away. Added to this, is the threat of inundation as it is raining heavily every day. We want the irrigation department to take some measures that will stop the erosion,” said Amitangshu Chakraborty, the secretary of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Planters’ Association.
In Jalpaiguri town, low lying areas on the right bank of the Teesta continue to remain under water with more than 200 people staying in makeshift shelters. “Unless the rain stops, the water in the Teesta will not recede. And even if the water goes down, nothing much of our dwellings would be left,” one of the residents of the town’s fringe areas said.
Chaos at stations over queries – condolences to all bereaved families !!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
July 19: Confusion prevailed in different stations of north Bengal as anxious family members of passengers travelling on the Uttar Banga Express hounded railway officials, who could not answer most of their queries.
By 4.30am, hundreds of people reached Malda Town station to know more about the passengers of the express that had met with an accident as well as the running of other trains. Railway employees at the enquiry counter, however, could not satisfy them.
The confusion heightened when 3012 Siliguri-Howrah Intercity Express, which was running late, reached Malda around 6am. The railways announced that the train would be diverted through the Azimganj-Katwa-Nabadwip route.
Other trains bound for Sealdah or Howrah from north Bengal were diverted through the same route till about 7pm when, sources at the New Jalpaiguri station said, one track had been cleared at Sainthia and trains would run through their usual routes.
However, when the Intercity Express reached Khaltipur station towards Farakka around 7am, the train’s engine developed a snag and the railway staff could not bring it back to life, prompting the passengers to demonstrate at the station. The train finally left for Howrah around 8.30am following a replacement, sources said.
As the confusion prevailed in Malda, divisional railway manager of Malda Mukesh Mathur reached the station. The people assembled there complained to him that his officials did not have any knowledge about the accident. Mathur ordered opening of a control room which started functioning from 9.30am.
At New Jalpaiguri station, a control room was opened, railway officials claimed.
“No casualty of any resident of Siliguri or its adjoining areas has been reported. People who had boarded the Uttar Banga Express have been taken to Sealdah from the accident site by another train,” an official said.
AND IN BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Students die in mishaps
Siliguri/Islampur, July 19: Two students died in separate accidents at Debidanga on the outskirts of Siliguri and at Islampur this afternoon.
Krishna Burman, a Class VII student of Amiya Pal Choudhury High School in Debidanga near Pradhannagar, died when a truck ran over him. The accident occurred near his school. Irate local people damaged the truck and handed over the driver to police.
Swarup Kundu, a 25-year-old resident of Ramkrishnapally in Islampur and a final-year student of Islampur College, died when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a trekker on NH31. A mob torched the trekker and blocked the highway for four hours. The driver fled after the mishap.
Jaigaon: A 12-foot-long python was captured by people of Kayetpara in South Dhupjhora Beat under Gorumara National Park after it had swallowed a goat.The foresters lodged a complaint with Metteli police station against the residents who had refused to hand over the reptile.
Balurghat: BEd students in Malda and North and South Dinajpur districts will gherao the controller of examinations at Gour Banga University, Samipendra Banerjee, registrar Apurba Chakraborty and other senior officials on Tuesday to protest the delay in the publication of results. The students alleged that they would not be able to sit for this year’s School Service Commission exams because of the delay. The varsity exams began on May 12 and the results were supposed to have been published in 60 days.
Siliguri: Teachers of Siliguri College sat on a day-long dharna in front of the institution on Monday to protest the inaction of the local administration in arresting Krishna Pal, the Trinamul Congress councillor who had allegedly assaulted one of their colleagues in June. However, classes were not affected as teachers took turns to sit on the dharna.