GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL REALITY: Tribal outfit to bypass Bengal for Delhi

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL REALITY: Tribal outfit to bypass Bengal for Delhi – understanding Bengal in more completeness, like a mango tree that does not give oranges ?!!

ABAVP's John Barla and colleagues - understanding the true nature of Bengal ?!! (Darpan)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 11: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said it would stop agitating to achieve its demands and would no longer sit across the table with the Bengal government. Instead, from now on, the outfit would negotiate directly with the Centre.

“We are fed up with empty promises of the state government. From now on, we will talk only to the Centre,” said Rajesh Lakra, the general secretary of the Terai Dooars regional unit of the Parishad at a news conference here this afternoon.

“Our workers and supporters in the Dooars and Terai are disgruntled and if we continue to bank on the state government which would do nothing for us, the movement we are leading might deviate from democratic means and take an ugly turn. We have thus decided to withdraw all agitation and demonstrations against the state and will no more sit for bipartite talks with the Bengal ministers. It is up to the state to decide as to what it would do for our people and has to prove its sincerity to win back our confidence.”

Although the Parishad leadership evaded questions on whether their new found intimacy with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had anything to do with their stand, the tribal leaders hinted that it did play a role.

The Parishad had set seven conditions for the Morcha against which it would support the hill party. The Morcha leaders have indicated they are likely to accept most of the demands.

This, and the Morcha’s stand to talk only to Delhi, might have encouraged the tribal outfit.

“It is natural that unless some specific and concrete assurances had been made, an organisation like the Parishad would not have taken the stand of virtually abandoning or bypassing the state to talk to the Centre,” a tribal leader said.

John Barla, president of the Dooars Terai unit of the Parishad, said he has not yet received any formal feedback of his letter to Morcha president Bimal Gurung.

“We want to reiterate that these are regional issues and it seems that our state leaders cannot perceive the true spirit of our decision,” he said.

“If our demands are not met, we have to think of alternative options, one of which is joining hands with the Morcha, particularly when we are fighting on similar issues and want peace and amity to prevail among the tribals and the Gorkhas.”

“We are aware that the next rounds of tripartite talks would be held on August 1. However, no invitation has reached us from the Morcha’s side so far to join the tripartite talks along with their delegates,” he added.

Adivasis may join hands with Morcha – and Bengal’s Tirkey in a flap ?!!

Birsa Tirkey in Kolkata - in a flap, now wants to speak for all 10 crore Indian Adivasis but forgets his own ?!! (File Photo)

From Times of India
By Pinak Priya Bhattacharya

SILIGURI, Aug 12, 2010, 01.28am IST (TNN): Adivasis in the Dooars may soon join hands with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to fight for the creation of a separate state comprising the Darjeeling Hills, the Terai and the Dooars in North Bengal.

This was indicated by two top Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) leaders, John Barla and Rajesh Lakra, in Siliguri on Wednesday. The duo told the media that they would drop their ongoing agitation against the state government and opt for a new movement that would help them take their case to the Centre. Till now, the Adivasis have been fighting for issues like employment and educational facilities.

Barla and Lakra are president and secretary of ABAVP’s Dooars-Terai unit, respectively. In May, GJM had asked ABAVP to join its statehood stir. To woo the tribals, it even renamed its proposed state, Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh.

“We’ve lost our faith in the the state government. It’s pointless to go the the Bengal government with our demands. It has cheated us time and again, the last example being the recruitment of primary teachers,” Lakra said.

“It’s because of the state government’s step-motherly attitude that we are forced to look for other options. We’re discussing ways to launch an alternative movement, which can be an agitation for separation from Bengal,” Barla pointed out.

The hardening of attitude by the Adivasis indicated a possible emergence of a new political equation in North Bengal. Recently, responding to GJM’s appeal for a joint stir, ABAVP’s Dooars-Terai unit had said it wouldn’t mind joining the statehood movement if the Gorkha party changed the “communal name” of Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. “If GJM sheds that name, there remains practically no hurdle,” Barla said on Wednesday.

On August 17, GJM will sit for another round of tripartite talks on an interim set-up in New Delhi. The Hills party has demanded inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed set-up along with the Darjeeling Hills.

Considering the latest change of stance by the Adivasis on GJM, tribal leaders in the Dooars and the Terai may not oppose the interim proposal. Earlier, the Adivasis had opposed GJM in the Dooars along with other non-Nepali ethnic groups.

On the other hand, ABAVP’s state leadership claimed it had nothing to do with the stand taken by Barla and Lakra. “It’s a decision taken by some individuals and ABAVP should not be linked to this. The press meet in Siliguri was convened without any consensus. ABAVP doesn’t mean the Dooars and the Terai alone. It involves more than 10 crore tribals across the country. We’ll investigate and take disciplinary steps, if required,” ABAVP (West Bengal chapter) president Birsa Tirkey warned.

Power revenue loss in hills clocks Rs 60 crore – Electricity line snap ruled out – electricity money paid to buy potted water ?!! so, the longer Bengal takes to permanently settle political issue the more India suffers ?!!

Darjeeling lit up - but oh so intermittently, with massive damage to electrical appliances - and Bengal & Centre wonder why they are on agitation mode ?!! (Suman Tamang)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s non-cooperation movement and boycott of government taxes and revenues have cost the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited Rs 60 crore and counting.

Malay Kumar De, the chairperson and managing director of the company, who was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on power organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, said the state government’s help had been sought to resolve the crisis as the loss increases with each passing month.

The Morcha had stopped paying revenue-related bills like telephone, power and other central and state levies since April 2008.

Buying potted water in Darjeeling - unheard of, yet with the heaviest rainfall in all India ?!!

“Considering the present state of affairs in the hills, we are not in a position either to collect the money due to us or disconnect the power line of the defaulters. The amount due in the three hill subdivision of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling is Rs 60 crore since April 2008 and we have approached the state government to provide necessary support to realise the money,” De told reporters.

Without naming any individual or political party, he hinted that the situation in the hills was such that disconnecting lines to defaulting households would cause a law and order problem and also have adverse effects on the company staff and assets. At present, though the company carries out maintenance and repairs in the hills, all its bill collection counters continue to remain closed.

De avoided commenting on any specific reason why the department is unable to collect the amount and said: “Till March 2008, the collection in the hills was normal. Irregularities started only after that. But once we get the assistance from the government, it would be easier for us to collect the amount.” He, however, did not elaborate on the kind of assistance he expected from the state government.

According to officials of the company posted in the hills, there was no question of disconnecting electricity connections in the hills. “We maintain and repair the power lines on a regular basis and will continue to do so till further orders. If we start disconnecting lines there is a strong likelihood of a law and order problem,” a staff member of the company in Darjeeling said. He said the average monthly collection from electricity bills in the three hill subdivisions was Rs 2 crore.

De said the department would introduce pre-paid meter in all the major towns in the state very shortly for which no security deposit would be required.

“We have already introduced such meters in Salt Lake in Calcutta a couple of months back and within next five to six months we will also introduce it in Siliguri, Asansol and Durgapur,” he said.

The company has recently introduced round-the-clock maintenance services in all its zones including Siliguri that comprises Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts. Pradip Dey, the Siliguri zonal manager, said the toll free number for maintenance is 18003453206. (any such numbers for other essential services too  – like internet, water, telephones, health, ration, crime etc, etc, … ?!!)

Plea for more forces – police redrawing strategy for after-effects of ‘interim-setup’ or just sabre rattling ?!!

DGP Bhupinder Singh in Darjeeling on 11 Aug 2010 - pleasant change from the muggy heat of Kolkata ?!! (Suman Tamang)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Darjeeling, Aug. 11: The state government has requested two additional companies of paramilitary forces for the hills, an indication that the authorities are apprehensive of a law and order problem even if a deal for an interim set-up is struck with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Director general of police Bhupinder Singh, while on a two-day day “routine” visit to Darjeeling, admitted that the request had been sent to the Union home ministry. “Yes, a request has been sent,” said Singh.

The ministry had earlier sent three companies of paramilitary forces largely to keep open NH31A, an arterial link for Sikkim with the rest of the country. Following the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang on May 21, the paramilitary forces were deployed in the Darjeeling hills also.

Observers believe the fresh request for additional forces is probably to stem any violence that may erupt if the Morcha and the government agree to the interim set-up for the hills. This is largely because the anti-Morcha outfits in the hills have already voiced their resentment over the set-up. Moreover, there is a possibility of police making more arrests in connection with the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang.

However, the state government is looking at the August 17 meeting before drawing up a fresh policing policy for the hills. Officials of the Centre and the state are scheduled to meet the Morcha leaders in Delhi to firm up the interim set-up.

“The meeting is taking place on August 17 and there could or could not be a political agreement. After the meeting, we will redraw our policing strategy,” said Singh.

Till date, the state has adopted a non-confrontation policy in the hills.

KalimNews, 12 Aug 2010: Deputy General of Police Bhupinder Singh arrived in Siliguri. He is on a visit of Darjeeling from 11th to 13th August.

The DGP will inaugurate Police Public Friendship Football Tournament at Dali Gound near Dali Police quarter, Darjeeling on 12th.

The inaugurating match will be played between Dali Police line  and Jawahar Friends Club at 10 am.

He will also inaugurate the newly constructed building of Bhaktinagar Police Station on 12th at 4 pm. On 13th he will return to Kolkata.

MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

Lepchas demand Gorkha Certificates – stage Darna in Siliguri – born of the same stock and characteristics and intercaste marriages, yet discriminated against by Bengal & the centre ?!!

Lepchas protesting in Siliguri - Gorkha community divided unjustly by Bengal 1953 consensus ?!!

From Lepcha Aachulay Magazine

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010: Increasing number of lepcha youths, boys and girls have joined the Dharna (demonstration) which has started from 10th August 2010 at Tenzing Norgay bus station , Siliguri , West Bengal .

With the Recruitment polices of the Government in armed and quasi armed forces, the lepcha tribe in West Bengal and Sikkim not belonging to the ‘blanket term’ Gorkha although considered as indigenous tribe of Darjeeling District, West Bengal and Sikkim are deprived of employment and not being able to serve in their own Government .

Shockingly, the demand of the Gorkha Certificate even in the state armed forces such as the recruitment of the Eastern Frontier Rifles which was earlier eligible with the tribal certificates has put a deep sense of insecurity among the Lepcha youths in the State of West Bengal . The lepcha youths have no other recourse but to stand by their democratic right to freedom of expression and assembly in order to achieve their goals.

This, which is just a tip of the ice berg has made the lepchas wonder about the polices of the Government which favors other communities while the indigenous Lepcha tribes, the true sons of the soil and number one citizen of the Darjeeling Hills West Bengal, India are being denied the basic rights in their own home land.

School job drive for STs – fresh drive to achieve half century of neglect ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 11: The state school education department has taken up a fresh drive to appoint ST youths as primary teachers in Jalpaiguri district and has also asked the district magistrate to look for land to set up Hindi-medium schools in Adivasi-dominated blocks.

The decision comes in the wake of a movement launched by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad that shut down block development offices in the Dooars last week, demanding recruitment of teachers from the tribal community to Hindi-medium primary schools.

In a letter to the district magistrate on August 6, principal secretary of the school education department Vikram Sen said the Parishad should be informed about the latest government move to make the cut-off marks for ST and general candidates equal. According to the government’s 100-point roster formula earlier, the cut-off mark for ST youths applying for primary teachers’ jobs was 62.7%. For general candidates, the cut-off mark is 56%.

“The principal secretary mentioned that the government was now relaxing the cut-off marks for ST candidates to equal that of the general category. They can now appear for a fresh written examination that will be conducted by the district primary school council,” an official of the district administration said.

He said the state government was ready with funds to construct new schools and expand existing ones.

The decision has been conveyed to the chairperson of the district primary school council and the recruitment test will have to be conducted within August. “Some posts of primary teachers has been kept vacant in the Hindi medium schools to accommodate the successful ST candidates,” the official said.

After the publication of the final list of successful candidates for 1,411 posts, there were protests all over the district with allegations of nepotism and corruption against the school council chairman and CPM leaders.

District magistrate Vandana Yadav wrote to John Barla, the president of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars regional unit, on August 9, requesting the tribals to withdraw the agitation in block development offices and school inspectors’ offices as their demands were being addressed.

The Parishad claimed that it was yet to receive the district magistrate’s letter and wanted to see results first.

FURTHERMORE

Tea insecticide kills 3 kids – pond not checked for toxin dump ?!!

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Aug. 11: Residues of an insecticide used in Naxalbari Tea Estate were found in the stomachs of three garden children who had died yesterday.

“We have found dark-coloured particles with a foul smell in the stomachs of all the three children during post-mortems. These are residues of either chlorinated hydrocarbon or organophosporous compound. The children died because of their consumption,” said Saibal Gupta, the head of department of forensic medicine at the NBMCH.

Hiralal, 6, his sister Karisma, 4, and Monjoy Goala, 4, had gone to the pond to play after lunch yesterday. They were taken ill while returning home and died within an hour.

Management of the Naxalbari estate admitted the use of the two insecticides, though in dilute form, in the plantation.

“We use these two insecticides in our garden but in dilute form. The insecticides can cause instant death only if they are consumed in concentrated form. All the insecticides are stored under lock and key and are not accessible to anyone, except the staff of the spraying department. None in the families of the deceased children works in this department and so, they do not have access to the insecticides,” said Partha Nandi, the tea garden manager.

According to experts, chlorinated hydrocarbon and organophosporous compounds were not approved by the Central Insecticide Board (CIB) for use in tea gardens or agricultural farms.

“Insecticides likes chlorinated hydrocarbon and organophosporous compound do not have the approval of the CIB because they are detrimental to our health if they remain in our bodies for too long. Although the two insecticides had been used in tea gardens previously, we advised the managements to withdraw them following the CIB’s recommendation. However, there is a possibility that some gardens are still using the insecticides, but instant deaths can happen only if they are consumed in lethal amounts,” said S. Vaishya, an advisory officer of the Tea Research Association.

The last rites of the three children were conducted at the tea garden, 35km from Siliguri, this evening.

Subir Bhowmik, the chief medical officer of health, Darjeeling, said there had been no fresh cases of children falling ill in the garden. He said a teenaged girl had fallen sick in the garden yesterday because of shock from the children’s deaths.

WHILE BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING TO THE WEST

Unfit tag on Malda airport – Bengal at last conscious of a need for an alternative to Bagdogra ?!!

Airport building in Malda - nice to look at but any flights ?!! (Surajit Roy)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Malda, Aug. 11: The Airports Authority of India has told the Malda district administration that the 70-year-old airport here is no longer fit for use because of encroachment on both sides of the runway and the presence of cellphone towers and high-rises in town.

The AAI has also asked the district administration to look for a 500-acre tract, not less than 10km from the town, for a proposed airport.

“We are trying to locate a plot for the new airport. But the AAI has not mentioned what will be done with the existing one,” district magistrate Pramal Kumar Samanta said.

People and cattle on Malda runway - not in the habit of seeing airplanes as no planning by Bengal, now soon to change ?!! (Surajit Roy)

Gautam Mukherjee, the regional executive director of the AAI, said there was no way that permission to operate flights from the airport can be given.

“There are obstacles on the runway itself and we cannot give permission to operate flights from there,” he said from Calcutta.

The district magistrate, however, is not certain if the plot would be available near the town. According to him, the land and land revenue officer is on leave and the district administration will look for the land only after he joins office.

AND TO THE EAST BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING

Armoury out of public view – Cooch Behar aware of insurgents evil eye ?!!

Cooch Behar Palace - impressive structure of Royalty past ?!! (TT)

BY MAIN UDDIN CHISTI

Cooch Behar, Aug. 11: The Archaeological Survey of India, which took over the Cooch Behar palace in 1982, is yet to open the armoury for public viewing as a proper security plan has not been prepared for its protection.

As of now, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar is in charge of the armoury, where guns used by the erstwhile princes are stored. The armoury is guarded by armed policemen, who have a camp on the palace compound.

The president of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party, Asutosh Barman, said the district administration had announced in 2000 that the armoury had been handed over to the ASI. “Later, we came to know from the ASI that the items in the armoury would be put on display. But nothing has been done so far and the weapons and the guns are still under lock and key,” he said.

Sources in the district administration said even after joining the Indian union in 1950, the Cooch Behar princes continued to use the armoury and went out hunting with their guns till about 1970.

After the keys of the armoury were lost in 1999, the district administration broke it open and prepared an inventory of the weapons, swords, shields, guns and other items and sent it to the Union home ministry as well as the ASI, the sources said. The ASI wrote to the ministry seeking permission to display the weapons in the palace, where a museum was opened in 2002.

ASI superintendent of the Calcutta circle Tapan Jyoti Baidya said: “A few years ago, the home ministry had granted us permission to display the weapons; I do not remember the exact year. We had written to our director-general for proper security so that the weapons could be displayed, but we have not yet got the clearance.”

Baidya said a reminder would be sent to the ASI’s Delhi office.

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