GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: The Interim Authority should give a guarantee for Gorkhaland: CPRM – understanding the Bengal stand with equal suspicion ?!!
From our Special News Correspondent
Kalimpong: August 1, 2010: The question about whether or not the soon to be formed ‘Gorkha Interim Authority’ will give a guarantee towards the ultimate formation of Gorkhaland Statehood is the reason the CPRM want to attend the talks in Kolkata on August 3, 2010 at the behest of the Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattachrjee’s invitation to the various Democratic Front parties, the CPRM President, RB Rai said at a press conference here today, after a CPRM zonal meeting held at the Kalimpong Town Hall.
Explaining his position further, RB Rai said, “in order to dispel the aspersions and suspicions on what the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is actually negotiating with the Centre and the State on the ‘Interim Issue’, as well as all the negative opinions put forward by various individuals and parties,” he said, “there does seem to be a certain amount of suspicion on the interpretation of the nature of the Morcha’s behaviour, of saying one thing and thereafter maybe seen to be doing another,” he stated.
The CPRM party leader, RB Rai, who enjoys the second largest majority consensus after the Morcha in the hills, as was made apparent by the LS poll elections in April 2009, said, “there are certain questions raised about the sincerity of the Morcha when they say the so called ‘Interim Authority’ will be in place till the end of December 2011 only, but meanwhile request for a 5 year budget of Rs 2000 crores.” This he said, “naturally raises the issue whether the said ‘Interim Authority’ will not be similar to the DGHC extension which went on for the past 21 years.”
He further went on to add the issues of lack of democracy, the right to hold public meetings, the threats to peaceful assembly perpetuated by GJM supporters as being against all democratic norms and questioned the very efficacy of statehood if these norms were not upheld.
CPRM chief RB Rai also mentioned that the Bengal invitation could also be seen “as a move to placate the various parties within the Democratic Front that were suspicious and opposed the so called interim arrangement to be made, into accepting that which they feared and opposed”.
“Although we have received no formal written documents of all the various minutes of the meetings and agreements, we will be analysing these developments and requesting the concerned authorities to hand over the same for detailed scrutiny,” RB Rai said and added, “and if we find anything against the mass Gorkha interests, we will strongly oppose the same”.
“With these suspicions and demands in mind,” the CPRM chief RB Rai said, “we will be going to Kolkata to clarify these issues and request clarifications and understand in more completeness the Bengal government’s stand.”
“We will also strongly raise the issue that the murderers of Madan Tamang be speedily apprehended and brought to justice,” he added.
Meanwhile, commenting on the statements made by CPRM chief RB Rai, Morcha insiders, who requested not to be named said, “RB Rai shows far more political maturity than any ABGL members ever did.”
“On the issue of the 5 year budget demand,” the Morcha source said, “what they don’t seem to understand is that the 5 year demand is for infrastructural development that the Bengal government has so far denied the hills which stretches over the past half a century.”
“If you compare that to what Sikkim has spent so far on developing their infrastructure since just 1975, what the GJM is requesting is merely a pittance,” the source added and continued, “our whole infrastructure of very basic amenities like, water, roads, health and education is in tatters. This is not like eating a meal, but building a structure that can withstand the ravages of time in one clean sweep,” the source said, hinting at the ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner example’ put forward by the CPRM chief.
“We would like to see the Darjeeling hills, plains and towns get back on the development track and not have to continue to struggle from hand to mouth and our infrastructure further crumble,” the source said.
Another GJM intellectual of the Gorkha Study Forum said, “If we use the short-sighted ploy of accepting the extension of the ‘Gorkha Interim Authority’ after its deadline, then we will immediately lose credibility of all the Gorkha people. What I suspect,” this spokesperson added, “in Bengal inviting the Democratic Front members is actually to deviate attention from the ongoing ‘Territory Issue’ and Bengal finding a way to deflect the issue of including the plains of Dooars, Terai and the areas of Siliguri, which should justly come under Darjeeling’s jurisdiction, from being currently included in the main talks.
Asok ignores Morcha frown – development sop, too little too late. Infrastructural overhaul needed to the tune of 35 years of neglect ?!! Gorkha Identity still in question ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
SYNTAX REMIXED FOR CLARITY
Darjeeling, Aug. 1: Asok Bhattacharya today held a meeting with administrative officials in Darjeeling to concretise the development projects he had announced earlier despite the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha crying hoarse over the minister’s alleged attempt to mislead the hills with the sops.
In fact, the Morcha’s decision to close down DGHC offices, even though state and central government offices have been allowed to remain open, is an attempt to thwart Bhattacharya’s plan to implement the new initiatives in the hills.
However, an undeterred Bhattacharya, the MLA and urban development minister from Siliguri, today announced some more schemes for the region. “The state government is actively looking into the introduction of Lepcha language in primary schools. The minister concerned is expected to make an announcement soon,” he said.
“I have also been told that certain communities like the Lepchas are facing difficulties in obtaining the Gorkha certificate. I have asked the officials to look into the matter and solve the problem immediately.” Gorkha certificates are issued by subdivisional officers, and hill youths need them to apply for jobs in the armed forces.
The minister also announced that 25 people in the Kalimpong subdivision who had lost their homes to landslides had already been given land for free to rebuild their houses.
Asok visits Hills to discuss uplift – hitting the panic button now ?!!
From The Statesman
DARJEELING, 1 AUG, 2010 (SNS): During a surprise visit in Darjeeling today, the state urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya held discussions with the district administration regarding several development projects meant for the Hills. He also promised that all the government posts lying vacant would be filled soon. Laying stress on the meeting scheduled in Kolkata on 3 August, involving the non-GJMM political parties, the minister said that that these parties should be given a chance to articulate their views on the proposed interim set-up for the hills.
Assuring the people that the state government would do everything to promptly compensate the landslide victims. “Besides, we would provide those willing to dispose of their lands in the hills with prices twenty percent more than the prevailing market price,” he added.
Mr Bhattacharya also stated that the death anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore would be observed on 7 and 8 August through several programmes in the hills and in particular at Mungpoo in Kalimpong sub-division where Tagore spent several days.
Visibly enthused by the state government gesture, the non-GJMM parties have finalised the names of the participants who would take part in the meeting scheduled in Kolkata on 3 August.
The AIGL working president Mr Dawa Sherpa and a senior party leader, Tribhuwan Rai would attend the meeting. The Trinamul Congress and the BJP would also send representations at the meeting, Mr Sherpa said.
Mr BS Subba and Mr LM Lama would represent the CPRM while Mr Suman Rai would be present on behalf of the GNLF (c). Several other smaller hill-based parties would also attend the meeting, deemed politically crucial with clear portents of the GJMM losing grounds.
“We are looking forward to the state government to enlighten us on the subtler details involved in the last round of tripartite dialogue. We would also ask questions regarding the progress of the CID investigation into the Madan Tamang assassination and restoration of the democratic culture in the restive hills,” said Mr Dawa Sherpa, the ABGL working president and convener of the Democratic Front in Darjeeling today.
MEANWHILE IN SIKKIM
Lepchas to get tribe certificates – but no Gorkha Certificates to enter armed services ?!! Still Bengal’s snide ‘divide & rule the consensus’ policy – a return to 1953 ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Aug. 1: The Sikkim government will start handing over “primitive tribe” certificates to Lepchas, the indigenous people of the state, from August 8.
The Lepcha community was notified as a primitive tribe by the government in November 2006 to give its members protection and to safeguard their indigenous knowledge and tradition.
Power minister Sonam Gyatso Lepcha said chief minister Pawan Chamling would present the certificates to a few Lepchas on the occasion of Tendong Lho Rum Faat, the holy festival of the community, on August 8. A committee formed for the festival’s celebration said the certificates would be issued by district collectors after the scrutiny of the applicants’ domicile status.
The Lepchas number around 40,000-45,000 in the state and most of them reside in scattered settlements in remote areas like Dzongu in North Sikkim.
AND FROM DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DARJEELING PLAINS
Ghisingh invited to tripartite talks on Gorkhaland issue – what new ruse can the powers that be come up with, or on placation moves for way forward to an equitable solution, they be ?!!
From The Statesman
Siliguri, 1 Aug, 2010 (SNS): Gorkha National Liberation Front chairman Mr Subash Ghisingh has received an invitation from the Union Home Ministry to join the tripartite talks on the Gorkhaland issue in the national Capital.
The letter was sent by home secretary Mr GK Pillai, GNLF sources said. Mr Ghisingh, who left for New Delhi today, was accompanied by party leader Mr C K Kumai and Mr Prakash Dahal. The GNLF supremo will also join the meeting of six parties from Darjeeling other than Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) called by the West Bengal government in Kolkata on Wednesday, they said.
Meanwhile, GJM Press and publicity secretary Mr Harka Bahadur Chhetri reacting to the invitation said: “It is a conspiracy of the state government and GJM will prove that it is the sole representative of the people of the Hills at the next tripartite meeting scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 17 August. We have not and we will not budge an inch from our demand of a separate state,” he added. SNS
Ghisingh in Delhi – no time to retire and concede to past political blunders or to maintain peace in the hills ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Siliguri, 1 August 2008: Subash Ghisingh today left for Delhi, two days before an all-party meeting in Writers’ Buildings the invitation to which the GNLF chief had rejected.
The state government had invited the Democratic Front, a six-party anti-Morcha conglomerate, and the GNLF to the August 3 meeting. Ghisingh’s rejection of the invitation had created resentment in the GNLF.
Rajen Mukhia, a leader of the GNLF’s Terai branch, said: “This was a rare opportunity that we had received from the government to speak out against the present state of affairs in the hills. But it is unfortunate that instead of utilising it, we lost the chance.” If Ghisingh continues with his silence and abstains from the dialogue with the government, the GNLF’s existence will be threatened, said a leader in the Terai.
GJM ignored, Ghising invited for talks – shows Bengal’s desperation at consensus lost so wooing all leaders without mandate across the board to gain some foothold against ultimate statehood moves ?!!
From The Indian Express
By Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
Kolkata, Mon Aug 02 2010, 04:13 hrs: After spending about two years in political wilderness, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chairman Subhas Ghising, the uncrowned king of Darjeeling for 20 years, is back in active politics as he is going to join the talks between the state government and all political outfits of Darjeeling, except the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), in Kolkata on August 3. The talks have been convened by the West Bengal government.
“Ghising has been invited for talks but I don’t know whether he will come,”’ state secretary Samar Ghosh told The Indian Express.
On Sunday, Ghising along with his two associates left for Delhi to have talks with Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken and Union Home Secretary G K Pillai tomorrow. After that meeting Ghising will come to Kolkata to join the August 3 meeting.
Bringing the GNLF chairman, who still has some fan following in Darjeeling, into the picture is being seen as a very clever move in the political circles. The step appears to be aimed at marginalising the GJM, which is on the backfoot following the murder of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang, in Darjeeling politics.
As the state government was not very happy to sit with the GJM across the table during the last tripartite talks in New Delhi on July 24, the state government urged the central government to invite Ghising for talks in Delhi. Therefore, Maken called Ghising to come over and meet him.
At the August 3 meeting, the state government is likely to discuss their proposal on the Interim Hill Council, submitted to the Central government on July 24.
AND IN THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
Progressive People’s Party also moves to statehood call – consensus now clear to Bengal on its mismanagement ?!!
By Our Special Correspondent
Jalpaiguri, Aug 1, 2010: In what can be described as another body blow to the ruling CPM in Bengal. the newly formed People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has today announced that it will be working towards formation of a new state and will join the statehood movement bandwagon which includes the areas of the Dooars Terai in the Districts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
At a press conference in Birpara, the party president, Kiran Kumar Kalandi said that the PPP in its State Level meeting had decided to “pursue a movement for the formation of a separate state of Dooars Terai in the districts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri.”
“We are also open to the formation of Union Territory of the formation of the state is not possible at present”, KK Kalandi added. According to reports received, when asked about the support for the imposition of Sixth Schedule status by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) in Dooars Terai, Kalandi said, “we support the imposition of the Sixth Schedule status in the region, but only if it guarantees complete administrative detachment from Bengal”.
When asked about the name of the proposed state, Kalandi said that that had not been finalized yet and added that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had not yet sent them a formal proposal and continued, “if and when we receive such a proposal we will discuss it and then disclose our decision”.
EARLIER, THE TELEGRAPH HAD REPORTED
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.
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.
“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.”
NH31 blocked for repair – thousand stranded – Dooars needs a personal touch while PPP agrees to separate state concept ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Aug. 1: People of Falakata blocked NH31 for eight hours today to protest the authorities’ neglect in repairing the road that has virtually no surface.
More than a thousand people were left stranded as their vehicles were stuck on the highway from Guwahati to Barh in Bihar.
About 300 people, including women, set up the blockade in front of Falakata College at 7am under the banner of the Nagarik Mancha.
“The highway has been repaired in a slip-shod manner and dolomite chips have been used to fill up the potholes. The passing vehicles throw up the chips and people get injured by the flying pieces. The dust raised from the dolomite is also a sources of bother for houses and shops along the highway,” said Debal Saha Chowdury, a Mancha member.
With hundreds of vehicles stuck at either end of the protest site, the block development officer and the police inspector-in-charge of Falakata reached the spot around 11am.
Later, Amitabha Saha, the executive engineer of the public works department’s NH division, arrived at Falakata, 32km from here, and promised a speedy repair. “From tomorrow, we will spray water on the road surface to contain the dust. After August 15, the PWD will begin bitumen work on the road surface,” he said.
Even backward classes welfare minister and Falakata MLA Jogesh Barman was critical of the PWD’s attitude. “I had lent moral support to today’s protest because the PWD was negligent in repairing NH31 that is the lifeline of the region despite several reminders,” said Barman.
Shivlal Yadav, who was travelling to Ranchi from Guwahati via Cooch Behar to attend his mother’s funeral, was among the affected people. “My mother passed away yesterday and I have been waiting here since 8.30am. I am getting frantic calls from Ranchi as the funeral cannot take place till I arrive,” he said.
The blockade was lifted at 3pm after the assurance.
MEANWHILE, FROM BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
Mob ransacks police station – out of Bengal’s control ?!!
From The Times of India
MALDA, Aug 1, 2010, 02.36am IST (TNN): At least eight policemen, including the inspector-in-charge of Kaliagunj PS in North Dinajpur, were severely injured when a mob ransacked the police station and set it on fire.
The mob outrage was the fallout of an incident on July 27 in which a local, Kishor Paswan, was injured. Though police registered an accident case, pressure was on police for registering it as an attempt to murder case. Paswan succumbed to his injuries on Saturday afternoon.
Around 6.30 pm, a 100-strong mob attacked the police station with arms to protest “police negligence” in arresting the criminals. The IC’s chamber was ransacked, computers were smashed, and other property damaged. The mob then set the police station on fire. Eight policemen were seriously injured.
“We have even started a murder case on the demand of the people. But as no one was named in the FIR, no one was arrested. Then suddenly, the mob attacked the police station,” said IC Swapan Dasgupta. Later, a huge police force led by the DSP came from Raigunj to control the situation.
DM’s peace plea – when the situation gets out of hand with wrong policies ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Raiganj, Aug. 1: The North Dinajpur district administration held an all-party meeting to restore peace in Kaliaganj today, even as the bail plea of 32 people accused of ransacking the local police station was rejected by a Raiganj court.
A mob, angered by the death of Congress worker Kishor Paswan, torched two police vehicles, damaged the furniture and documents at the police station and attacked cops last night. Additional superintendent of police Annapa E. said Paswan was found injured by the side of his motorcycle on Tuesday. He was taken to Raiganj hospital and later referred to Siliguri. He died yesterday.
Kishor’s father Ram Chandra Paswan alleged that although some rowdies had attempted to beat his son to death, “the police said it was a case of a motorcycle accident”. His allegation triggered the mob fury. The town wore a deserted look today. District magistrate Sunil Dandapat said the rowdies had taken advantage of the situation and indulged in vandalism. Chief judicial magistrate of Raiganj Arun Rai has sent the accused to judicial custody till August 7.