GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Territory, tenure delay deal – now impatience on the Bengal front, any current mistake a victory for Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Aug. 17: The contentious issues of territory, tenure and composition of the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills remained unresolved in Delhi today, but the participants in the tripartite talks hammered out a consensus on the administrative and legislative powers of the new body and the subjects under it.
The pending issues will be discussed at the next round of official talks to be held between the Centre, the Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on September 7.
Roshan Giri, general secretary of the Morcha, told The Telegraph after the official-level talks: “The meeting was a success and an agreement has broadly been reached on issues like the number of subjects to be transferred to the new body as well as its administrative and legislative powers.” However, a home ministry official expressed disappointment. “We had hoped to clinch the deal at today’s meeting,” he said. “We hope the three stakeholders reach a consensus on all issues at the next meeting.”
It is only after this “consensus” that political-level talks will be held to finalise and announce the interim set-up.
At today’s meeting the Centre proposed that the tenure of the new body should be extended to December 31, 2012, instead of the 2011-end suggested earlier.
“The Centre was of the opinion that the 2011 deadline was too short a duration,” Giri said. “We have not yet given our opinion in this regard.” The Morcha is expected to hold a meeting with party chief Bimal Gurung before conveying their response to Delhi.
The Centre’s draft had proposed that there should be 20 members in the interim authority that would replace the DGHC. But the Morcha today insisted that it should have 55 members. “We are flexible on this,” a ministry source said. “We could concede this if the Morcha is reasonable on the others.” The issue that may pose a stumbling block even in the next round of talks is the territorial jurisdiction of the set-up. While the Centre and the state government have made it clear that they are willing to concede only the hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, the Morcha is insisting that the Dooars and the Terai should also be included in it.
In Darjeeling, Binay Tamang, assistant secretary of the Morcha, said there was “no question of compromising” on the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai. Morcha leaders said they are soon to tie up with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, the main political entity in the Dooars, for a joint movement for a separate state.
However, a home ministry official said this was “posturing” by the Morcha to play to its support base in the hills. “We are sure we can negotiate on this,” he said.
The talks were attended by joint secretary in home ministry Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi, Bengal home secretary Samar Ghosh and a seven-member Morcha team led by Giri.
7th Tripartite Talks end positively – all major secretarial level points conceded effectively – more sensitive political points to be discussed at next Tripartite Talks on 7th September 2010 – a peaceful solution to an otherwise volatile situation ?!!
By our Special News Correspondent
Darjeeling, Aug 17, 2010, (updated) 20:15 Hrs (HN): GJM Secretary Roshan Giri, who led the 7th Secretarial Level Tripartite Talks with the Bengal Government in New Delhi today, speaking to newsmen on the phone after the meeting in Delhi said, “the 7th Secretarial Level talks today went very positively with the Bengal government conceding effectively most of the legislative and financial powers the GJM had requested.”
“The more sensitive political points,” Mr Giri explained, “like the Territory Issue, the 5 year term for the Interim Authority that Bengal is proposing when we are insisting it be till the end of 2011, the moving of the Police Commissionerate from Kolkata to Darjeeling, etc … would be discussed in the next round of talks on the 7th of September” he said.
Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, State Home Secretary Samar Ghose were present from the Bengal side and from the GJM side, besides Roshan Giri who led the GJM delegation, there were 6 other members from the (Gorkha Adivasi) Study Forum, namely Trilok Dewan, L.B Pariyar, S.N Pradhan, Mesha Sauriya from Dooars and Ratan Thapa. Retd Col Ramesh Allay President of the Indian Army Gorkha Ex Servicemen’s Association was also present to represent the security aspects of the region and also participated in the talks.
Explaining that the talks were held in a very cordial and co-operative manner, Mr Giri said “the Bengal Home Secretary Samar Ghosh had been very co-operative” and added “the mood of the entire talks had been very positive”.
When questioned on the problem areas, another Study Forum member said, “the West Bengal Government has been proposing that our Legislative Assembly have only 20 elected members when we have suggested at least 50 or more are needed to cover all the vast areas that also need representation.” Speaking on the request of anonymity, he continued, “When the DGHC already has 28 members, how can the new ‘Interim Authority to be’ with larger powers and more territory, have less representation ? This is indeed ridiculous. These need to be thoroughly discussed in the next round of talks,” the source concluded.
ABGL sense victory – still baying for more blood ?!!
Meanwhile in Darjeeling the ABGL, following the arrest of GJM Darjeeling Youth Central Committee member Nicole Tamang yesterday, has also demanded the immediate arrest of Aloke Kantamani Thulung (President GJYM) , Kismat Chhetri (President GJVM), Keshavraj Pokhrel (Secretary GJYM), Puran Thami, Dinesh Gurung and Tenzing Khambachey.
However, according to the Darjeeling police, all the abovementioned are still absconding.
The ABGL has also reiterated its demand for the arrest of the entire top GJM Leadership starting with the GJM President Bimal Gurung, GJM Secretary Roshan Giri, GJM VP Pradip Pradhan, GJNM President Asha Gurung, GJM Press & Publicity Chief Dr H.B.Chhetri, GLP Chief Ramesh Alley as co-conspirators in the murder of their leader Madan Tamang on 21 May 2010 when FIRs were filed in the name of the above mentioned GJM leaders after the brazen daylight murder. “This request,” police sources say, “borders on very sensitive and political issues,” and added with a request for anonymity, “wants the total collapse of the Morcha without the public mandate, which is quite politically as well as criminally absurd and impossible to prove.”
Nickole warrant – to question or torture him ?!!
From The Telegraph
By Vivek Chettri
The CID today made a prayer before the court of the chief judicial magistrate here for the production of Morcha leader Nickole Tamang in court tomorrow.
Manik Saha, assistant public prosecutor, said: “The CID made a prayer before the court seeking a production warrant and the same has been granted. Nickole will be produced in the court tomorrow.”
Nickole was produced in the court yesterday after he had been arrested from Kaijalay for allegedly masterminding the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang.
However, since no prayer for a police remand was made by the CID yesterday, Nickole was sent to 14-day judicial custody and was to be produced in the court on August 30.
Sources said the CID was likely to make an appeal for police remand. “A police remand is most necessary for further investigation. Accused are usually sent to judicial custody after the police are satisfied that no further information can be obtained from them,” said a lawyer.
Bandh affects life in north Bengal – no Supreme Court ruling against communal forces by Sikkim ?!!
FROM THE PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
BY PTI STAFF WRITER
Siliguri (WB), Aug 17, 2010 (PTI) 12:32 HRS IST: A 24-hour Bengal bandh called against the tripartite talks with GJM affected normal life in Siliguri and major parts of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts today.
The call for bandh was given by anti-GJM party ‘Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samiti’ in protest against today’s tripartite talks among state, the Centre and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders on the Darjeeling issue in New Delhi.
The president of the Samiti, Mukunda Majumder told PTI that today’s tripartite talks, aimed at taking a decision to make an interim arrangement upto December 31, 2011, by giving more autonomy to the existing hill council was “nothing but a step towards statehood”.
“We oppose this move as it is unnecessary and illogical at the moment. The Centre should talk with all political parties, including us, which are active in this region,” Majumder said.
Threat to shut hill power plants – Morcha alleges conspiracy in outage – Siliguri to begin suffering for the parochial mismanagement of Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Aug. 17: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today threatened to shut down the two major hydro electricity projects in the hills if the power situation did not improve here.
“We could go for a shutdown of power projects in the hills if the situation does not improve here. If we do not get electricity, why should we supply it to the plains?” said Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang, smelling a “conspiracy” behind the long power cuts.
There are two hydel electricity projects in the hills, one at Ramman and the other at Jaldhaka.
The hills have been reeling from frequent power cuts, ranging from four to six hours daily for almost a year. The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited has said the people of the Darjeeling hills owe the company Rs 60 crore in unpaid electricity bills. The dues have been piling up ever since the Morcha gave a call to the people not to pay their bills as part of its agitation for a Gorkhaland state in April 2008.
“Frequent power cuts are taking place in the hills. We do not get electricity when it is time for our children to study and for us to broadcast our programmes (through the local cable operators). This is a conspiracy,” said Tamang.
He was addressing a public meeting at Chowrastha here to wish “success” for today’s tripartite talks in New Delhi.
He said the Morcha had refrained from launching any agitation because of the ongoing tripartite talks. “However, if the situation remains the same, we will announce some bold steps after discussing the issue with our central committee members,” he said.
However, a senior official of the WBSEDCL had earlier said there was a general shortage in power generation and had denied that only the hills were going without electricity.
“Load-shedding is happening everywhere. In smaller towns (like Kurseong and Kalimpong), we supply power through a single transmission grid. But in Siliguri, we have three such grids. If there is load-shedding in one grid, areas that receive power from it will have no electricity. But places that get power from the other two will not have to go without electricity. That is the reason why people in the hills might be feeling that power cut is taking place only in their area and not in Siliguri,” Pradip Dey, general manager of the WBSEDCL, north Bengal, had earlier told The Telegraph. (what about the example of Sikkim which experiences no load shedding at all ?!!)
Malay Kumar De, the chairman and managing director of the WBSEDCL, had also said in Siliguri recently that the company was not in a position to either collect electricity bill dues or stop supply to the defaulters. (So quit the hills asap or be made to quit ?!!)
“The amount due to the company in the three subdivisions of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling is Rs 60 crore since April 2008 and we have approached the state government to provide necessary support,” said De. (in totality for all the opportunity cost lost as well ?!!)
He avoided giving any specific reason why the department was 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 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.
Speed-up cry on Basra bridge link – the classic non-war footing of Bengal contractors – whoever in Bengal heard of war-footing culture ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Aug. 17: The slow pace of work on a temporary bridge on the Basra has inconvenienced lakhs of people living in about 12 towns of Alipurduar subdivision.
The businessmen of Hamiltonganj, known for its wholesale markets, seem to be the most affected, suffering losses of around few lakhs daily.
On July 20, the major portion of the Basra bridge was washed away, snapping road communication of Kalchini block headquarters and Hamiltonganj with places like Hasimara, Jaigaon, Dalshingpara, Mendabari and the nearby 20-odd tea gardens.
As a result, one has to travel an extra 25km to reach the BDO office in Kalchini. The PWD is constructing a 49-metre long temporary bridge on the river with approach road on both the sides.
With the pujas round the corner, traders of Hamiltonganj, considered a business hub in the region, have been incurring losses of lakhs of rupees everyday.
Krishnapada Basu Bal, the secretary of Kalchini Block Byabsayee Samiti, said: “The traders of Sunday weekly markets have been incurring losses of lakhs of rupees daily as the people from nearby places are unable to reach the market. Students are also suffering, as they cannot attend classes regularly. Wholesalers in Hamiltonganj are yet to purchase goods for the puja because they are not sure when the bridge will be set up. It seems that the volume of business during the puja this time will be much less than previous years because of the bridge.”
The divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri during his visit to Kalchini had assured the traders that there would be a Bailey bridge on the river, but till now there is no sign of constructing it, Bal said.
Vegetable sellers from Falakata and Madarihat are not coming to Kalchini and Hamiltonganj areas forcing the prices to shoot up, he said. “On Monday, we, the traders of Hamiltonganj, will close our establishments and demonstrate in front of the Kalchini BDO office to demand speedy completion of the work.”
R. Sun Das, the BDO of Kalchini, admitted that the work had been going at a slow pace.
“The PWD at the time of commencement of the work had told me that the bridge would be completed before August 15 but the progress shows that it is not possible to finish the job in the next one month. I will tell the PWD to complete the work as soon as possible,” he said.
The executive engineer of the PWD’s Alipurduar construction division, Tapas Saha, said the bridge would be completed by this month. “It will be made of iron girders and the approach roads will be 160 and 100 metres long.”