GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha talks tact: Avoid deadlock – Keep territory out, Gurung told team – a political realist ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, July 27: Bimal Gurung today said he had instructed the hill delegation that participated in the July 24 talks not to rake up the issue of territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up, indicating that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president had wanted a dialogue without hindrance. Gurung said he did not want the territorial issue to crop up at least till the new hill authority was put in place.
He expressed his satisfaction on the tripartite meeting between the Centre, the state and the Morcha and said he did not want any “deadlock”, which would have happened if the territorial issue had been broached during the parleys.
So far, both the Centre and the state have been insisting that the jurisdiction of the interim set-up be restricted to the three hill subdivisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling. The Morcha had maintained that it wanted Siliguri, the Terai as well as the Dooars, besides the Darjeeling hills.
“I am happy that the talks are back on track. I had called the members of our delegation an hour before the talks begun on Saturday and briefed them on Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. However, I realised that the government would first discuss the interim arrangement and told them not to discuss the territory as it would create a deadlock. I told them to concentrate first on the powers and functions of the set-up,” Gurung told a gathering at Gymkhana Club on the occasion of martyrs’ day.
The Morcha president also said he had asked the delegation to keep their mobile phones switched off so that they were not disturbed during the discussions.
The Morcha chief, however, indicated that in the long run the issue of territory was bound to crop up especially when “realising our dream of a separate state”.
“We will not concede an inch of the Dooars and the Terai,” Gurung said. “I had also told the delegation that if the territory issue comes up for discussion they should talk about the entire Dooars and the Terai and not just about the Nepalese-dominated area.” In Saturday’s talks, the Centre had directed both the state and Morcha to make a point-wise observation of the proposal for the interim set-up and submit it within two weeks. An official level meeting would then be held on August 17.
Gurung admitted that the talks dwelt on the interim set-up but added that if the talks failed in the future then the Morcha would talk only about Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh, the new state that it wants. “The Bengal government wants a deadlock and is looking at the 2011 Assembly elections. If talks don’t move in the right direction, then we will have no option but to send a joint delegation comprising Gorkhas and Adivasis for a separate Pradesh,” he added.
Sounding optimistic about garnering the support of the Adivasi community, Gurung said: “We have only shown love and respect to the community and this is paying off. Despite hostility, we never stopped engaging in talks with them and ultimately we will be able to fight for a separate Pradesh together. This is our ultimate aim and we will not stop till we achieve our goal.”
Launching an attack on the slain ABGL leader Madan Tamang and his wife, Gurung said: “I admit that Madan Tamang was a great leader but I am not convinced he was the one for the Gorkhaland cause. He talked about mid-day meal scams and scams in text books and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan but became quiet after a few public meetings. Were such talks compromised over money?”
The Morcha leader said he was “tense” because the ABGL had staged a hunger strike at the martyrs’ column at Chowrastha where we had planned a programme. “But I told our supporters to move out at the earliest.”
The martyrs’ column is in memory of 1,200 people who had been killed during the Gorkhaland agitation of the eighties.
ABGL finger at govt role in hill set-up – not quite understanding the political Interim way forward towards ultimate statehood nor the MoU between two political forces ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, July 27: The ABGL has accused the Centre and the state of using the murder of Madan Tamang to their advantage to bring the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to its knees, forcing it to accept an interim authority instead of the DGHC.
ABGL central committee members Pratap Khati and Trivuban Rai said if the Morcha settled for the interim council, it would conclusively prove the party’s role in Tamang’s murder. The ABGL chief was hacked to death in Darjeeling on May 21 and since then the Morcha has been on the back foot in the hills.
The ABGL leaders hinted that the government knew who was behind the murder and was using it to browbeat the Morcha into accepting the interim set-up.
“Madan Tamang was one voice which consistently opposed the interim set-up that the three sides were working towards, and that is why he was killed. Now all the three sides (state, Centre and the Morcha) are conspiring to force an interim set-up in the hills,” alleged Khati at a media conference here today.
However, the ABGL, its leaders said, would not allow the interim set-up to happen. “When the people could successfully foil attempts to bring the hills under the Sixth Schedule even after a memorandum of settlement was signed, stopping this (the interim set-up) will not be difficult. We will settle for nothing less than Gorkhaland,” said Rai.
The ABGL leaders also ridiculed Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri for terming the proposed set-up a “de facto” state. “How can there be a de facto state. Can there be a de facto wife? The Morcha has been trying to hoodwink the people by agreeing to the set-up while paying lip service to Gorkhaland,” said Khati.
Quoting from a release issued by the Union home ministry after Saturday’s tripartite talks, Khati said even the set-up being discussed is not the one proposed by the Morcha, but suggested by the Centre. “The Morcha is on the verge of settling for something which is even lesser than the DGHC,” he alleged.
“It required a woman in the shape of Dil Kumari Bhandari (former member of Parliament from Sikkim) to secure the recognition of Nepali as an official language of the country, it will be another woman (Bharati Tamang, ABGL president and widow of Madan) who will deliver Gorkhaland,” an ABGL leader said.
MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
Partha seeks fair probe – fair enough, but CPM to concede ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 27: Trinamul Congress leader Partha Chatterjee today requested the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, to conduct an impartial inquiry into the lathicharge on the outfit’s supporters on Sunday night.
The baton-charge took place when the Trinamul members, led by the party’s Darjeeling district president Gautam Deb, were blocking NH31 in Bagdogra to protest an alleged anomaly in the managing committee election of a local school. Deb, who was injured in the police action, is under treatment at a private nursing home here.
“I have asked the IGP to conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action against policemen, particularly because one of our frontline leaders in north Bengal (Deb) was badly beaten up by policemen. I have also told the officer that the police’s role is to maintain law and order and to protect common people and not to act politically while discharging duties. I feel police officers should rethink their responsibilities,” Chatterjee said after meeting the inspector-general, Ranvir Kumar.
Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, was closeted with Kumar in his office for 20 minutes. He was accompanied by Cooch Behar district president of Trinamul Rabindranath Ghosh and other leaders.
Asked about urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya’s justification of the lathi-charge, Chatterjee said: “After losing their (CPM’s) support base in the state, the minister seems to have lost his mental stability and is talking nonsense. We have highlighted this point before the IGP and have urged him to conduct a neutral probe into the incident and not to do anything as directed by the CPM.”
The inspector-general told journalists that the inquiry had already begun. “They (Trinamul delegation) have asked me to investigate as per law. We in turn told them the probe had already started. However, all I can say is that the action taken by the police was not intentional, as one of our constables was injured in the incident,” said Kumar.
IN BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Villagers gherao foresters
Jaigaon, July 27: Residents of Sukhanibusty today gheraoed forest officers of Chulsa Range who had gone to the village to steer out a lone elephant.
The elephant had entered the village from Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and damaged four huts last night. The gherao was to demand the immediate payment of compensation for the huts damaged. The foresters were released after they assured the villagers of a meeting at Nagrakata police station tomorrow.
Siliguri: Two shops were razed to the ground and another was partially damaged in a fire at Fuleswari market here on Tuesday. Two fire engines from Siliguri fire station doused the blaze. Fire officers said short circuit was the probable cause of the blaze.
Jaigaon: Gopal Chetri, a 22-year-old resident of Subhashini Tea Estate in Hasimara, went missing in the Torsha river on Monday. Police said he had gone fishing with his friend Sanjay Lohar
Siliguri: Foresters of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary held a workshop on the rescue and release of snakes and other reptiles for NGOs based in and around Siliguri. Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife I), said at the workshop that to maintain ecological balance, reptiles should be released in the same locality from where they had been rescued.
Siliguri: The Guwahati-bound 2502 Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Express was stopped at Chulsa station in Jalpaiguri district at 6.36pm on Tuesday after the GRP got information that a bomb was on the train coming from New Delhi. A search was carried out but nothing was found. The train resumed its journey at 8.57pm. Northeast Frontier Railway sources said the 2501 Up train would leave Guwahati at 11.45am on Wednesday instead of its scheduled departure at 6am.