GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Gurung eyes new party for alliance – To join hands (or not) for a new state – Morcha fuels tribal split for Dooars entry – expanding the consensus in a crumbling Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
July 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is now hoping to divide the Adivasis with the help of the newly formed Progressive People’s Party and push ahead with its movement for a new state.
The attempt comes after the Morcha failure to stitch up an alliance with the Terai-Dooars regional committee of the Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Earlier, party president Bimal Gurung had re-christened Gorkhaland — the new state it is clamouring for — as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh to woo the tribals. But that failed. (has it really ?!!)
Now, the Morcha hopes to take advantage of the fact that the PPP consists of suspended and breakaway leaders of the Parishad who are in favour of a joint movement with the hill party, and gain a foothold in the tribal dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai.
“This new development will allow the Morcha to make a backdoor entry to a region where it has failed to make major inroads despite repeated attempts,” a Morcha leader said.
The PPP was formed on Sunday after the Parishad’s organising secretary in the Dooars, Raju Bara, and senior party leader Kiran Kumar Kalindi were suspended for “indiscipline”: they had expressed their willingness to talk to the Morcha on the creation of Gorkha Adivasi Parishad.
Samuel Gurung, the organising secretary of the Morcha in the Dooars and Terai, said today: “The formation of the PPP is definitely an indication that the Adivasis have also started an exercise to carve an entity outside of Bengal. We are closely observing the development in the plains and we are willing to work with any party which espouses the cause of separation from Bengal.”
However on a different note, he said: “Leaders breaking away from the Parishad to form the PPP is an internal matter of the outfit. The Morcha would not want to interfere or comment on the development at the moment.”
The Morcha had earlier been hoping to launch a joint movement with the Dooars-Terai regional committee of the Parishad which is the principal outfit representing the tribals in the region. The president of the committee, John Barla, had even written to the Morcha in May saying that he had no objection to discussing a joint movement for statehood.
However, after this, Barla did not take matters forward and now appears to be following the state leadership’s line that the Parishad would have no truck with the hill outfit.
In the past, all attempts by the Morcha to find a toehold in the Dooars had faced resistance largely because of the Parishad’s strong opposition. In fact, there had been frequent clashes between the Gorkhas and Adivasis living in the Dooars. However, sources in the Morcha said the party would now try to cosy up to the PPP and garner Adivasi support for their cause of a separate state.
“If this move proves to be a success, then the Morcha can even use it as a bargaining tool at the tripartite talks or at a later stage, whenever the issue of territorial jurisdiction of the interim authority for the hills comes up,” a Morcha source said.
In fact, the Dooars-Terai Nagarik Manch, a conglomerate of 17 apolitical organisations in the region, has accused the PPP of being a front for the Morcha.
“The Morcha is using the PPP leaders to divide the Adivasis,” alleged Larry Bose, the Manch’s president. “We see no difference between the PPP and the Morcha.”
GJM to propose team to identify areas – systematic and thoroughly ?!!
From The Hindu Special Correspondent
KOLKATA, Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is considering proposing in the tripartite talks scheduled for August 17 the setting up of a “joint verification team” to identify areas to be brought within the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed regional authority for the Darjeeling hills.
A team comprising representatives of the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM should identify areas in the Dooars and the Terai in the plains of north Bengal with a predominantly Gorkha population for inclusion within the regional authority, according to the GJM leadership.
The West Bengal government has been maintaining that it is opposed to the inclusion of any area beyond the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district in the jurisdiction of any new administrative body for the region that is to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
Determining the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed regional authority will be the focus of the August 17 tripartite talks.
The GJM, in the recent talks, has made it clear that the setting up of the proposed interim authority should “not prejudice, affect, alter or diminish our demand for Gorkhaland state”, Harkha Bahadur Chettri, senior GJM central committee member who was in the GJM delegation that participated in the last Saturday’s talks told The Hindu over telephone on Tuesday.
“The GJM leadership has also asserted that the proposed regional authority should have a limited time span – till December 31, 2011,” Dr Chettri added.
Hill tripartite talks – so why all the fuss and delay from our petulant Bengal ?!!
From The Statesman Briefs
KOLKATA, 28 JULY, 2010: The state government would put forward its views to the Centre on the proposed interim set-up for Darjeeling by 10 August, the urban development minister Mr Asok Bhattacharya said today.
The next round of tripartite talks is slated to take place in Delhi on 17 August. SNS
Mukhia receives ABGL invitation – ABGL filling its ranks with rouge elements ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, July 28: The hills are rife with speculation that the convener of the Terai branch committee of the GNLF, Rajen Mukhia, will join the ABGL that has invited him to a joint movement against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Mukhia said he was seriously considering the request and a decision would be taken in a couple of days.
Dawa Sherpa, the ABGL working president, today said: “We have written to a number of leaders across the hills, requesting them to join the ABGL to strengthen the movement against the atrocities of the Morcha and to strive for restoration of democracy and peace in the hills. The list includes Rajen Mukhia and we are waiting to hear from him. We would appreciate if he joins the ABGL but it is up to him to take the final decision.”
Mukhia was the only leader to stay in the GNLF when the Morcha was gaining support base in the hills and even party chairman Subash Ghisingh went into political hibernation.
Acknowledging the invitation, Mukhia said: “I am considering the invitation. It will take a couple of days before I take a decision.”
GNLF supporters in Panighata, where Mukhia is based, said he had already made up his mind to join the ABGL.
“Mukhia was present at a rally here (Panighata) organised in memory of those who had lost their lives during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s. He said in his speech that yesterday was the last martyrs’ day observed by the GNLF in Panighata, which was enough to indicate that he was leaving the party. If he joins the ABGL, all his supporters like me will follow suit,” said a GNLF leader over the phone from Panighata.
If Mukhia joins the ABGL, it would be the last nail on the GNLF’s coffin. Only Mukhia and Kalimpong leader Dawa Pakhrin remained active after the emergence of the Morcha. As Pakhrin had resigned from the party, Mukhia’s departure will trigger the exodus of rest of supporters from the GNLF.
Special courts yet to be set up for persons booked under NIA – thus the need for a HC bench in Darjeeling ?!!
From The Indian Express
By Kanchan Chakraborty
Kolkata, Jul 28, 2010 at 0254 hrs IST: The special courts to prosecute people booked by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) have not been set up yet by the Calcutta High Court. The NIA, which was formed in 2008 to combat terrorism in India, had requested the Calcutta High Court in May 2010 to set up special courts in Kolkata, Siliguri and Port Blair to prosecute the accused persons who were in the agency’s custody.
The facts on the setting up of the special court for NIA came to the fore during the hearing of a case on Tuesday. Ningthaujam Tomba Singh, 57, one of the key men in the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), a terrorist organisation of Manipur, was arrested at Matigarha, Darjeeling, on March 14. Tomab was arrested by the Darjeeling police and the NIA took up the case from the CID.
The NIA got the case on the ground that KYKL was a dangerous terrorist outfit in the North-East and banned under the UAPA. Darjeeling SP D P Singh said that the police had recovered lot of SIM cards and satellite phones from Tomba’s residence at Kurseong.
He might have taken shelter there to take advantage of his ethnic similarity with the locals. He had maintained contacts with his recruits in Manipur through satellite phone and used to make calls for extortion of money from businessmen in Manipur, said a police source. Tomba had settled at a Kurseong house in 2007. Two women, S. Nemcha and N. Rama Chamu, were also arrested with him.
Tomba, who has been lodged in Darjeeling jail, filed an application with the Calcutta High Court this month for the transfer of the trial from the Darjeeling court to a Siliguri court.
Moving the application, advocate Anwar Hussain, counsel for Tomba, said that the trial of the case should be transferred to Siliguri from Darjeeling due to the ongoing disturbances related to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).
The trial as well as proceedings of the court would be hampered due to the movement of the GJM, he argued. Hussain added that no special court had been set up under the NIA Act under which the accused person could be prosecuted.
Caravan stuck in jam – Darjeeling towns seriously need new ring-roads, infrastructure totally ignored by Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, July 28: Cruising in a caravan to soak in the ambience of a typical hilly village is still a distant dream for travellers visiting Darjeeling despite the Union ministry of tourism unveiling plans to introduce caravan rides across India in a big way.
Plans by tour operators to start the caravan rides have hit a roadblock because of the state government’s 2005 order stopping the Darjeeling district administration from issuing permits to commercial vehicles in the municipality areas of Darjeeling and Siliguri.
Tashi Sherpa, additional district magistrate, Darjeeling, said: “We cannot issue permits for commercial vehicles carrying passengers in Darjeeling and Siliguri municipality areas.”
Permits are denied to stop congestion in the two towns.
The decision has annoyed Darjeeling-based tour operators who are constantly trying to shrug off stiff competition from Sikkim.
“On the one hand, the government says the industry should not merely rely on it to promote tourism and to create better infrastructure. On the other hand, they do not even facilitate the implementation of the new concept by the industry,” said Suresh Periwal, chairman, Indian Association of Tour Operators, north Bengal and Sikkim chapter.
Periwal who runs Clubside Tours and Travel, one of the few firms allowed to conduct adventure tourism in the state, had drawn up a plan to start caravan services in Darjeeling and the Northeast. “We wanted to procure three air-conditioned super deluxe buses to start caravan tourism in Darjeeling and the Northeast,” said Periwal.
Although Periwal’s plan is not as exhaustive as the rides in other states, where vehicles are equipped with modern facilities like home theatre and chemical toilets, the Darjeeling based tour operator had wanted to make a beginning. “We were planning to carry separate tents for kitchen, dinning, sleeping and toilet purposes and to camp as we cruise to various locations,” said Periwal.
The caravan ride is a big draw among niche European clients.
An official of the Regional Transport Authority said their hands were tied because of the notification. “We can only give permits to commercial vehicles if they don’t enter Darjeeling and Siliguri municipality areas. Commercial vehicles to be used for carrying loads can obtain permits. As far as passenger carriers are concerned, we can only transfer a permit which has already been issued for an old vehicle to a new one,” said the official.
Vehicles operating without valid documents can be fined up to Rs 2,000 and more importantly, would not be able to avail of insurance coverage in case of accidents. “Sometime back, a bus met with an accident in Kurseong and since the vehicle’s papers were not in order, the passengers could not avail of insurance,” said the official.
States like Madhya Pradesh are actively encouraging the new concept by setting up Caravan Parks. Some of the routes for the caravan rides in the country include Delhi-Jaipur-Agra, Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Pushkar and Delhi-Sariska-Ranthambor.
IN BRIEFS FROM THE TELEGRAPH
2 die of kala-azar in Malda
Malda, July 28: Two persons have died of kala-azar in the past one week in Malda, while 102 people have tested positive for the disease in four blocks of the district during the past 15 days, health officials said today.
In March, eight persons had died from the fever. Deputy chief medical officer of health Kajal Krishna Banik said they had sent medical workers door-to-door advising those who had been suffering from the disease to get admitted to the local health centres or the hospitals. “But many are not willing to go to the hospitals.”
Darjeeling: Nima Dorjee Bhutia, president of the Tibetan Regional Youth Congress, was allegedly assaulted at his residence in Lal Dhiki here on Tuesday night. Migma Bhutia, a relative, said some people had wanted to be part of a delegation to New Delhi. When they realised that their names did not figure in the list, they assaulted Nima Dorjee, said Migma.
Siliguri: The Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority will install electronic signals at 11 new points across the town. Sources in the SJDA said on Wednesday that CCTVs would also be installed at these points to monitor traffic and to augment security checks.
Siliguri: Members of the Darjeeling district Trinamul Youth Congress and Trinamul Women’s Congress took out a procession here on Wednesday to protest the assault on the party’s district president Gautam Deb by police in Bagdogra on Sunday. The rally culminated on the subdivisional office premises where the protesters submitted a memorandum to the additional district magistrate, demanding action against the policemen.
Islampur: Drivers of two trucks were injured after the vehicles collided on NH31 here on Wednesday afternoon. The accident disrupted traffic for about an hour. Both the drivers are under treatment at the subdivisional hospital here. The vehicles have been seized.