GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Hope for success & next round – Ladakh model for Darjeeling set-up – then systematically towards a permanent solution after interim political settlement ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Sept. 6: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is confident that most of the administrative issues of the proposed set-up for the Darjeeling hills will be settled in tomorrow’s official-level tripartite talks, its success propelling the political round to be held this month itself.
However, the party refused to divulge the name of the interim arrangement although sources in the government said the nomenclature would be according to the Morcha demand. The interim arrangement would be called the Gorkhaland Regional Authority as demanded by the Morcha, and would be modelled on the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, a source in the government said.
“The Centre is in a hurry to solve the Darjeeling problem and if the Delhi meeting (tomorrow) settles most of the administrative hurdles, there is a possibility of holding the political level talks before September 30,” a Morcha source said.
The Morcha is expected to point out the “discrepancies in the minutes” of the August 17 meeting at tomorrow’s talks in New Delhi. It had already sent its comments on the minutes to both the Centre and state on September 3. “These are minor irritants and we are hopeful that they will be thrashed out soon,” said a Morcha leader.
By “minor irritants”, the hill party was referring to some of its demands that have not been as clearly reflected in the minutes as had been agreed upon during the August 17 meeting. The demands include the upgrade of the Darjeeling police into a commissariat, direct funding of the interim authority instead of routing it through the state, and the complete transfer of the tea and cinchona industry to the new set-up.
“Our ultimate target is to achieve the separate state of Gorkhaland. The interim set-up is temporary. Being so, we feel it should be run by a body of nominated members,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri at Bagdogra airport this afternoon. He is leading the seven-member delegation to the talks.
The state and the Centre, however, want an election to the hill set-up, either directly, or by a formula of proportionate representation, depending on the number of seats each political party wins in the panchayat elections.
The Centre has also maintained that the interim authority should be a 20-member body. “There are indications that Delhi might increase the number of representatives and it could also give in to the Morcha’s demand for direct nomination if the state does not object to it much. However, if these issues come in the way of the successful talks tomorrow, it will, in all probability be referred to the political round,” the source added.
Asked what the name of the interim set-up would be, the Morcha general secretary said no final decision had been taken yet. “Tomorrow’s discussion would be held at the official-level. We don’t want to comment on the name of the new set-up as that would be decided only in the political round,” he said.
The next round of political-level talks is expected to be of much importance, as the territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up will be taken up for discussion then. There are indications that the Centre and state might also broach subject but the Morcha is unlikely to entertain it.
STUCK FUNDS: Wait for job scheme pay on eve of festivals – a sorry example of Bengal’s ineptness ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Alipurduar, Sept. 6: Around 8,000 job card holders under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Malangi gram panchayat are waiting for payments for the work they did under the central poverty-alleviation programme with Rs 56 lakh yet to be disbursed on the eve of Ramazan and Durga Puja.
The RSP gram panchayat pradhan, Anwar Hussain, locked the panchayat office on Thursday and informed the block development officer that no work would be done unless the dues were cleared.
“Poor people worked for a week in April and we owe them about Rs 56 lakh. With the festive season beginning shortly, I am afraid that there could be a law and order problem if the amount is not disbursed soon. That is why I have locked up the office,” said Hussain.
He added that he and eight other panchayat pradhans from Kalchini block had met the Kalchini block development officer, R.S. Sundas, and the sabhadhipati of Kalchini panchayat samiti last week. “They could not say exactly when the funds could be released. So, I have decided not to take up any other work under the 100-days’ scheme,” said the pradhan.
According to Hussain, about Rs 2 crore were due as NREGS entitlement in the Kalchni block.
“We, the elected panchayat heads, are not to blame as we solely rely on the district administration to send the funds to the block development offices for disbursement. But the beneficiaries are not aware of that and they have already started venting their anger on us, alleging that we have stolen their money. Things are gradually getting tense,” said Hussain. “So, it is better that the panchayat office is kept under lock and key,” he said.
While district magistrate Vandana Yadav could not be contacted, the subdivisional officer of Alipurduar Anurag Srivastav said the entire district was facing the same problem. “The Centre is not releasing the funds and what is available with us is too meagre for distribution. We have asked the district administration to immediately inform Writers’ Buildings about the state of affairs so that the chief minister can draw the attention of the prime minister to the problems we are facing,” said Srivastav.
Schoolboy death blamed on police assault in lock-up – dread of arrests under Bengal, no questioning Nicole Tamang’s disappearance too and forgetting the police excesses during the 86 aandolan ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, Sept. 6: A Class XII student has allegedly said in a dying statement to his father that he was beaten up in a police lock-up before he was admitted to a health centre. The police have denied the charges.
Jayanta Sarkar’s death this morning sparked an outrage in Banshihari, where residents heckled Gangarampur SDO Abhijit Bhattacharjee and set his car on fire. They also beat up a policeman near Banshihari High School, where the boy studied. The protesters also blocked the Balurghat-Malda road for two hours from 5.30pm.
Jayanta’s father lodged a complaint with Banshihari police alleging that the 18-year-old high school student, who was also an SFI activist, had been beaten to death by the men in khaki.
Pradip Sarkar, a casual worker in the block office, said officers from Banshihari police station had come to his house early this morning and told him that his son had been admitted to the Rasidpur block health centre after he was found lying on the road.
“At the health centre, the doctors said my son was in a critical condition and should be shifted to the Malda district hospital,” Sarkar said. “On way to Malda, Jayanta told me he had been picked up by the police near a cinema hall at Banshihari around 11pm yesterday and taken to the lock-up where he was beaten up severely.”
The police got Jayanta admitted to the health centre when he fell ill. He complained of severe pain in the lower abdomen, Sarkar alleged. Jayanta died soon after he was admitted to the Malda hospital. “In his dying statement, my son told me that the policemen who tortured him were led by sub-inspector Uday Singh,” said Sarkar.
Singh, however, denied the charges. “I am being framed for arresting two rowdies who were close to a CPM leader of the area,” he said. District police chief Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra also denied the charges of police torture. “The boy was lying unconscious on the road early today and the night patrol rescued him and took him to the health centre.”
Topden Shifted to Darjeeling – arrested after being called to the police station for an enquiry, timed to test the Gorkha youth anger ?!!
Kalimpong, Sep 6, 2010: Topden Bhutia GJYM organising Secretary remanded in 14 days judicial custody was transferred to Police Cell of Darjeeling. He complained of Back and Chest pain and was checked up in the Hospital and was transferred to Sadar Hospital Darjeeling to be kept in the police cell custody and will be produced in the ACJM ‘s court, Kalimpong on 17th September.
Before leaving to Darjeeling he said that I am arrested for Gorkhaland and nothing else and everyone should be ready for that and it is State Government’s conspiracy to discourage and derail us.
Topden was suspended by the party after the GNLF Postering case of 8th May 2010 in Kalimpong. He was keeping himself aloof after his suspension. GJMM today blamed that Topden is arrested to discourage the GJMM youths and also to pressurise GJMM.
We will try to release him said Suva Pradhan Secretary of SD Committee of GJMM.
Topden is accused of vandalising ad torching houses of Dawa Pakhrin and Maurice Kalikotay on 29 July 2008 and torching 3 NBSTC buses and 1 private bus and attacking and injuring Mohan Pradhan a police constable during the NBSTC bus attack on 4 February 2010 in Motor stand of Kalimpong.
BRIEFS FROM THE REGION
One killed in mishap
Siliguri, Sept. 6: A 60-year-old resident of Vivekanandapally was run over by a truck on Sevoke Road after he fell off a motorcycle around 10.30pm today.
Sudhir Sinha was riding pillion when a truck hit the motorcycle, that his son was driving, from the rear. Sinha lost balance and fell off the two-wheeler and the truck went over him killing him on the spot. After the accident, angry residents of the area blocked the road for 15-20 minutes. The truck has been seized.
Malda: Tagar Das, 40, was killed after being knocked down by a train while crossing the tracks near Krishnapalli railway level-crossing on Monday. Police said Tagar had come to her father’s house in Krishnapalli for a health check up. She was returning home when she was hit by the Howrah-bound Inter-city Express around 6am.
Siliguri: A wreath laying ceremony was held at the Sukna war memorial on Monday to commemorate Nathu-la Day. The wreath was laid by Lt Gen. D.S. Sidhu, the GOC of Trishakti Corps, in the presence of officers and jawans from Trishakti Corps headquarters and all station units of Sukna, Bengdubi, Siliguri and Sevoke. The ceremony was held to honour the sacrifices of officers and jawans of the Indian army during the skirmish with Chinese soldiers at Nathu-la in 1967.
Malda: The CID has taken up the investigation of the disappearance of constable Indrajit Sinha. The policeman had gone missing from the state armed police lines in Jalpaiguri on June 20. According to Malda police superintendent Bhuban Mondol, Indrajit had visited his home in Ratua on June 19 and went missing the next day.
Islampur: Sixteen passengers on a Jalpaiguri bound bus of NBSTC were injured after it collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction on NH31 at Srikrishnapur on Monday. The injured were admitted to Islampur subdivisional hospital.