GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Beginning of final break-up: Morcha – Real debates for political round – where diplomacy for legitimate issues works and violence does not ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Sept. 7: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today claimed “victory”, with the Centre and the state “tentatively” agreeing to hand over excise, the regional transport authority and the management of forests and the cinchona plantation to the proposed interim authority for the Darjeeling hills. All three subjects had so far been outside the purview of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which the new set-up will replace.
However, contentious issues like the territorial jurisdiction of the new arrangement, its composition and the mode of appointing its members were not part of today’s official-level tripartite talks and have been left to be sorted out at the political round. Another point that remains to be thrashed out is the tenure of the interim set-up. While the Morcha wants it to end by December 31, 2011, the state government has been insisting that it should be stretched to five years.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who had led the party’s talks delegation, said: “They have agreed upon most of our demands . It has been a very fruitful visit. We now need to work out the issue of territory, its composition and the mode of selection, which will be taken up during the political round.”
A triumphant Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the Morcha spokesperson, said: “The beginning of the final break-up with Writers’ Buildings has began.”
The next official-level talks are scheduled for September 30. This meeting is expected to prepare the ground for the political round.
Giri said today’s meeting had also decided that the interim body would be able to generate, distribute and transmit electricity and that it will get a share of the 12 per cent free power that the state government is entitled to from major hydel projects. However, there was no confirmation on this from Delhi or the state government.
The Morcha said even colleges would come up under the interim set-up, but officials in Calcutta said the state government’s higher education department would have overall academic control.
The mood at the Centre is to accede to most of the Morcha’s demands, Union home ministry sources said. “We are positively inclined to delegating many of the subjects that the Morcha wants in case there are no constitutional or legal hurdles,” an official said in Delhi.
However, sources said, reserve forests cannot be handed over to the new authority because it is a central subject. It is also unlikely that tauzi, or tea garden land, would be handed over to the new body.
The development functions of the district magistrate — for example handling MLA and MP local area development funds — would, however, be handed over to the new authority. But the district magistrate would continue to oversee magisterial functions, like law and order.
At the same time, funds meant for the Border Area Development Project (BADP) is unlikely to be given over to the new authority as it is directly under the Union home ministry.
The Morcha has demanded that the DGHC workers must be regularised before the new set-up is put in place. “The state government, which was represented by the home secretary has agreed to look into the matter,” said Giri. The council currently has 6,321 casual workers.
The hill party today told the state and the Centre that if peace was to be restored in the region “at least the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Terai and Dooars” must be included in the interim set-up. “Detailed discussion on this would be taken up only at the political level,” said Giri.
Sources in Delhi said it had been agreed that the new body would be called Gorkhaland Regional Authority.
Differences over Gorkhaland shrink – some give and take involved, but now closer to a “State within a State” concept ?!!
From The Hindustan Times
By HT Correspondent
New Delhi, September 08, 2010, 00:09 IST: Raising hopes of setting up an interim authority for Gorkhaland before assembly elections in West Bengal, a tripartite meeting on Tuesday narrowed down difference of opinion between the three sides — Centre, State and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha — to just four issues.
“The final break-up with the Writers’ (Writers’ Building that houses the state secretariat) has begun,” GJM publicity secretary H B Chhetri declared after the official level meeting at the Ministry of Home Affairs, a signal that the talks were in the right direction.
Another official level tripartite meeting has been slated for 30 September, likely to be followed by political level talks to be chaired by Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken, in early October.
Sources said the four remaining points identified by GJM leaders were resolvable issues and will not be a hurdle in an early decision.
“The governments concerned do not have an inflexible position,” a government official said.
Chhetri said the definition of the legislative powers, management of the tea gardens, number of members in the interim Gorkhaland Regional Authority and the selection procedure of the members remained to be sorted out.
The GJM has since its inception been demanding a separate Gorkhaland state that includes the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district in the plains and contiguous areas in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.
Plains body bays for Jaswant blood – un-voted thanks & unethical bloodlust of the usurper’s guilt, while nobody bays for their blood ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 7: Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh today refused to be dragged into the controversy over the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand to include the Terai and the Dooars in the interim set-up even as an anti-Gorkhaland outfit here demanded the BJP MP’s resignation for being “biased”.
The Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, which had called a 24-hour bandh here to protest the official-level tripartite talks with the Morcha and which coincided with the Citu-sponsored countrywide strike, burnt the effigy of the BJP leader a few hours ahead of his first visit to town.
“Since his election, Singh has never visited Siliguri or allocated any money from his local area development funds for the plains. So far, he has only visited the hills and has only worked for the interests of the Morcha. He has allotted money for the hills only, although his constituency includes the Siliguri subdivision also,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the Bhasha Committee.
“We demonstrated this morning against his political stand which encourages the partition of Bengal and we want him to resign from his post. A by-election should be held to elect a new MP from the Darjeeling parliamentary constituency who does not have any such biased political stance,” Majumdar said. His outfit is against the Morcha demand for a new state and the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the set-up proposed for the hills.
Around 10.30am, nearly 100 Bhasha Committee members burnt Singh’s effigy at Hashmi Chowk.
Later, they took out a rally, wielding black flags and the outfit’s flags and toured the deserted streets of the town. With policemen patrolling in different areas, no untoward incident was reported.
Singh, who came to Darjeeling on Wednesday, arrived at a hotel near Darjeeling More here at 2.30pm.
“I have heard that a tripartite meeting was held at official-level with a delegation of the Morcha but I do not have detail information of the meeting till now. So, I cannot comment,” the MP said.
Singh dodged a question on the Morcha demand for the Dooars and the Terai in the hill set-up. “I would prefer not to comment on this issue,” he said. Tomorrow, the Darjeeling MP is scheduled to attend a meeting of party workers before leaving for Delhi, sources said.
Quit blow to tribal outfit – fed up with ‘war of statements’ but no real welfare action ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Jaigaon, Sept. 7: One of the key leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, Rajesh Lakra, today resigned from the organisation, saying he was tired of the “war of statements” among the top brass.
The Parishad’s state committee secretary Tezkumar Toppo confirmed the resignation of the general- secretary of the Terai-Dooars co-ordination committee.
“We have received his resignation and whether it will be accepted or not will be decided at our state committee meeting at Malbazar on September 11,” said Toppo.
According to Birsa Tirkey, Parishad state committee president, Lakra has said in his resignation letter that he was tired of the “war of statements” between the leaders of the organisation. Tirkey said Lakra had also felt that the feud in the Parishad was harming the interests of Adivasis.
Sources said Lakra had in the letter raised questions on the attempts being made to create a rift within the Adivasi community.
Lakra today locked up the Parishad’s office in Nagrakata as it was being used by leaders of the newly formed Progressive People’s Party (PPP), a breakaway faction of the tribal outfit.
Parishad insiders said Lakra had been under tremendous pressure from other leaders for not coming forward to protest a meeting of the PPP in Nagrakata on Sunday. Even the president of the Terai-Dooars committee of the Parishad, John Barla, had written to police, saying there might be law and order problems if the meeting took place.
Barla admitted that Lakra had locked up the Nagrakata office and handed over the keys to him. “The PPP’s use of our office that was opened just a year ago was sending wrong signals to the community. The PPP was formed on July 25 this year and they have no right to use our office,” said Barla.
He added that the Parishad was not in any way connected to the PPP. “We are where the people are, and they are with us. No one can force us to join any political party,” said Barla.
The president of the PPP’s central committee, Kiran Kalindi, lashed out at Barla and Birsa Tirkey. “Only they can say what they mean by locking up the office. There is no clause in the Parishad’s constitution that its members cannot join a political party. I do not know why Barla and the others are allergic to people joining the PPP,” said Kalindi.
Kalindi said Barla had held secret meetings with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Gorubathan sometime ago and had also written to the hill party’s leadership.
“The meetings were held after the Morcha had proposed that the name of the new state would be changed from Gorkhaland to Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh. We have held no secret meetings with the Morcha,” said Kalindi.
Countering the charges, Barla said he had met the Morcha leadership to discuss peace in the region and had written to them expressing a desire to talk about the common problems being faced by the Adivasis and the Gorkhas in the Terai and the Dooars.
2 students arrested for torching SDO car – but no suspensions or enquiry on ‘Murder-in-custody’ ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, Sept. 7: Two students have been arrested for setting on fire the car of the Gangarampur subdivisional officer yesterday evening.
Sankar Sarkar and Pranab Pal, both students of Banshihari High School, were today remanded in police custody for three days by Gangarampur additional chief judicial magistrate Malati Karmakar. The SDO, Abhijit Bhattacharjee, had taken on rent a portion of Pal’s residence in Buniadpur to stay there.
Yesterday, Bhattacharjee, who was returning to his Buniadpur residence after a meeting in Balurghat, had to face the wrath of Banshihari residents. The crowd were protesting the death of a Class XII student of the high school after he was allegedly tortured by police in a lock-up.
The mob had also heckled the SDO around 6pm and beat up a policeman. The protesters blocked the Balurghat-Malda state highway, demanding that the policemen who tortured Jayanta Sarkar to death in the lock-up be punished.
Pradip Sarkar, a casual employee of the block development office, had alleged that his son had told him in a dying statement that the police had picked him up while he was returning home from a friend’s house on Monday night, tortured him in the lock-up and then admitted to the block hospital.
District superintendent of police Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra today claimed that Jayanta must have suffered severe injuries in a car accident that had caused his death. “I have started an inquiry and am waiting for the post-mortem report to ascertain the exact cause of death,” he said.
BRIEFS FROM THE REGION
2 killed in Dooars garden
Alipurduar, Sept.7: Two persons were killed in separate incidents in a garden near Kalchini last evening.
Johon Kheria, 55, had gone to his friend’s house in Gangutia Tea Estate when his son Poulush came to him and asked for Rs 10 to buy country liquor. When Johon refused, Poulush started beating him up with a stick and dragged him out of the hut. Johon died after half an hour. Poulush tried to escape but the villagers caught him and tied him up to a post. Later they handed him over to police. In another incident, Gunun Naik, 35, was killed when his friend Befy Naik beat him up with sticks after an altercation. Later, Befy surrendered to the Kalchini police.
Siliguri: Phansidewa police recovered the body of Pratap Sharma, 45, from Mahananda Canal on Tuesday. Police said Sharma, a resident of the New Jalpaiguri area, had been missing since Friday. No external injury marks were found on the body.
Jaigaon: Baby Misra, a 26-year-old housewife, was killed when her husband hit her with a shovel on Tuesday morning. D. Lepcha, the subdivisional police officer of Alipurduar, said Hari Misra, a resident of closed Ramjhora Tea Estate near Birpara, was drunk when he hit Baby. She was taken to the Birpara State General Hospital from where she was referred to Jalpaiguri district hospital. She succumbed to injuries on way to Jalpaiguri.
Siliguri: The department of lifelong learning and extension of the North Bengal University will organise a programme on Literacy and Women Empowerment on International Literacy Day on Wednesday. Vice-chancellor Arunabha Basumajumdar will inaugurate the event that will be held at the humanities building of the varsity.
Siliguri: A jewellery shop on Hill Cart Road was damaged in a fire on Tuesday evening. Two engines from the Siliguri fire station doused the flames.