GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Fest indicator for bandh-free Pujas – Trinamul chief hints at early hill tour – no railing politics please – support statehood, problem solved permanently ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 13: Mamata Banerjee today said she would soon visit the Darjeeling hills and talk to the people there to sort out the problems.
The Trinamul Congress chief attributed the current turmoil in the hills to “lack of development” and said the region should continue to remain a part of Bengal.
“We cannot think (of Bengal) without the hills (*?!! – the hills going for a walk ?!!) and we feel that whatever is happening there is because of lack of development (*?!! – not identity nor misrule under a parochial Bengal ?!! ). I have decided to visit Darjeeling soon and will talk to the local people there. Some of them have met me earlier. Now it is our turn to work for Darjeeling. Till date, north Bengal has fallen prey to politics with no development. We want peace by means of development,” Mamata said at the newly built outdoor stadium of the railways at New Jalpaiguri. (nothing for the DHR, a national heritage ?!!)
Although the Trinamul leader did not specify any date for her hill visit, party insiders said she would be back in north Bengal on September 26 and 27 and was likely to visit Darjeeling then.
Mamata said Trinamul wanted to keep a cordial relation with “everybody” and was “ready to talk to any political party of the hills”. (sure, from one state minister to another, including Sikkim ?!!)
“We want people from different castes and creeds — be it the Rajbangshis or the tribals or the people of hills (Gorkha) — to stay together in (or under ?!!) north Bengal,” she said.
The Trinamul leader refused comment on the tripartite talks on the hills describing it as “exercises on the part of the governments”. “I will not speak on this,” she said. (still on the rails ?!!)
Mamata made it clear that Trinamul councillors would not join the municipal corporation in Siliguri unless the Congress formally severed its ties with the CPM.
“Citizens of Siliguri had voted us for our anti-CPM stance and under no circumstances we will join the civic board unless those running the board sever ties with the CPM,” she said referring to the Congress.
Although the Congress and Trinamul had contested the Siliguri civic polls together in September last year, a lack of consensus over the posts of mayor and chairperson led both the parties to file nominations for the two posts. Finally, the Congress secured the win with the help of the Left councillors. However since March 30, Trinamul has been rendering informal support to the Congress from outside.
The Congress has taken exception to Siliguri mayor Gangotri Datta not being invited to the railway minister’s programme at New Jalpaiguri.
“It’s unfortunate that the first citizen of Siliguri has not been invited by the railways. We condemn it. If she is ignored in a similar manner in future also, we will lodge our protest at the appropriate quarters,” said Uday Dubey, the Darjeeling district Congress president.
Mamata gives more trains to N Bengal, to meet Gurung – as one statesman to another with distinct cultural identities to be recognized ?!!
From The Statesman
By Dipankar Bose
NEW JALPAIGURI, 13 SEPT 2010: Trinamul Congress chief and railway minister Miss Mamata Banerjee today sought to make inroads in north Bengal where the Congress is the dominant Opposition political force, announcing a slew of railway projects and new trains for north Bengal.
She also expressed her keenness to find a solution to the problems in the Darjeeling hills passing through political turbulence. She will meet the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief, Mr Bimal Gurung, on 26-27 September.
“Give us a little more space to set foot here. I am not a fair-weather friend. I am consistently working for north Bengal. Apart from what I have announced today I will give more to north Bengal,” she said at a programme here.
Miss Banerjee laid the foundation of a rail axle factory for which Rs 300 crore was sanctioned and announced a number of trains and the beginning of gauge conversion work for two lines, among other projects.
She said the railways planned to partner with SAIL to help accelerate the axle project which would generate employment for a few thousand youths.
Miss Banerjee said she was against dividing the state into north and south and was trying to join the two through development.
“I know there is long-standing trouble in the hills. We can’t keep that continuing, nor can we keep Darjeeling isolated. A delegation from Darjeeling had met me some time back and I assured them that soon after the monsoons, I would visit the hills. We have to have a peaceful atmosphere for any development and I will ensure that there is sustained peace in Darjeeling” she said.
Off-shops open for festival season – Tour operators welcome month-long relief – watch out for media misinformation, no one is out of the woods yet till the Nicole Tamang disappearance, territory, election and tauzi issue is amicably solved ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Sept. 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to organise a month-long tourist festival in the Darjeeling hills, indicating that it will be a strike-free pujas this time.
Coinciding with the party decision, all liquor off-shops in the hills opened today after almost two months.
Confirming the decision to hold a fest, Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said: “The festival will be held from October 7 to November 9. We are working out the details and the final plans are expected to be announced on Sunday.”
The fact that the party is taking the onus to organise the festival essentially means that there will be no disturbances during the coming tourist season.
The hills are largely a seasonal destination, even though there is a constant trickle of visitors throughout the year. However, the two major tourist seasons are from March to May and from October till November end.
“This is a welcome relief for us. Even though there are a lot of enquiries for the season we could not assure our clients a hassle free stay. We can now sleep in peace,” said a hotelier in town.
Another indicator of a strike-free season was the Morcha announcement last week that all liquor off-shops would open today. For the past two years, the Morcha, as part of its non-cooperation movement against the state government, had often stopped the off-shops from selling liquor. It had even asked restaurants not to sell alcoholic beverages unless they were locally made to stop the flow of revenue to the state exchequer. The off-shop shutdowns were in stages, often stretching for months and coinciding with the tourist season. This year, the off-shops opened today for the first time since July 6.
Agitation in the hills had always had an adverse impact on the sensitive tourism industry, which is one of the backbones of the regional economy. The other sector that brings cash to the region is education. The hills have a number of famous schools, whose students come from across the country and abroad.
Travel agents say Darjeeling can accommodate 8,000 visitors on any given day, while around 2,000 enter the hill town daily during the peak months. A tourist, on an average, spends around Rs 1,250, a day, tour operators claim.
People involved with the tourism industry claimed that before the recent agitation, the hills used to get anything between 3.5 and 4 lakh domestic tourists along with 30,000 to 40,000 international visitors annually.
The inflow of domestic visitors has taken a beating even though the number of foreign tourists to the town has gone down marginally, said an agent.
Madan murder case – put on the back-burner till Bengal finds it convenient to use it for political bargaining and face blackening ?!!
Seven persons accused in the Madan Tamang murder case were today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Darjeeling.
Defence lawyer Taranga Pandit said: “We moved an application before the court seeking statements given by the 60 witnesses. The court has accepted our application and we will receive the statements soon. The trial is expected to start within a couple of months.”
Cop money for widow after 10 years – what about Chattray Subba and Nicole Tamang, no empathy from Bengal as usual ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 13: Darjeeling police today deposited Rs 1.75 lakh with the court as compensation to a Siliguri woman whose husband had been run over by a police vehicle 10 years ago.
Sources in the second court of additional district and session’s judge said Narayan Sarkar, an employee of a travel agency, was mowed down by the vehicle of then deputy superintendent of police of Siliguri on Hill Cart Road on March 26, 2000.
“After the accident, his wife Ranu filed a motor accident case in the second court of the additional district and session’s judge against the superintendent of police of Darjeeling. On September 3, 2003, the court directed the superintendent of police to pay the widow a compensation of Rs 1.75 lakh in two months. The police were also told to pay an interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum if the compensation was not given in two months,” said a court source.
The police, however, did not make the payment for more than seven years and on March 17 this year, the court ordered the attachment of the office articles of the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, and the official vehicles of the inspectors-in-charge of Pradhannagar and Siliguri police stations.
An appeal filed against the attachment was also dismissed by Calcutta High Court. “Still, the SP did not pay the money and the writ of attachment issued by the court was recalled. The court said on August 23 that if the payment was not made by today (September 13), it would not only attach the property but might also refer the issue to Calcutta High Court to initiate contempt proceedings against the SP,” said the source.
Finally, the SP, through his lawyer Nripen Das, paid the court Rs 1.75 lakh. The court directed him to pay an additional amount of Rs 1.1 lakh as interest by October 4.
Sarkar’s son Sanjoy said: “Our loss was irreparable and we had to struggle for more than 10 years. The district legal aid forum members helped us a lot in this case.”
Adivasis enraged by cop indifference – cultural superiority on simple people ?!!
From the Telegraph
By Nantu Dey
Karandighi: Sep 13, 2010: Nearly 3,000 Adivasis, armed with bows and arrows and sickles, gheraoed Karandighi police station in North Dinajpur and blocked NH34 for seven hours on Monday, protesting alleged cop indifference in a gang rape case.
Around 3.15pm the mob broke down a portion of the boundary wall and hurled stones at the police station, ransacked the furniture and flung papers inside the duty officer’s room, injuring at least five-six policemen. The mob also set fire to around a dozen motorcycles on the premises.
The blockade on the highway was lifted at 7pm after additional police superintendent Annappa E promised to arrest all those involved in the gang rape.
The police said an 18-year-old Adivasi girl from Narighata village was gang-raped on August 30 by a group of six men while she was returning to her in-laws’ place at Khurka, 7km away, from her parents’ home.
Five persons were arrested after the woman filed an FIR with the Karandighi police. The protesters from Khurka and Narighata alleged that at least 10 men were involved in the crime. “We want the police to arrest all of them, but some of them are roaming around,” said Bullet Besra of Khurka.
North Dinajpur police chief Milon Das said the gherao of the police station was done with a motive. “We have identified those who attacked the police and we will arrest them,” Das said.
Kshiti monitor fails to break ice – Strike continues, road blockade adds to troubles – Bengal minister too scared to face the music of his own neglect and corruption ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 13: State PWD minister Kshiti Goswami has instructed his junior to monitor the repair work on the potholed national and state highways even as private bus owners who had taken their vehicles off the roads 13 days ago continued with their indefinite strike. They even set up a road blockade in Jalpaiguri for five hours today, disrupting traffic on NH31D.
Junior minister Dasrath Tirkey told The Telegraph over the phone: “I am in Calcutta now and will move to north Bengal tomorrow as our minister Kshiti Goswami has asked me to go to the region and monitor the progress of the repair works. He has specifically mentioned that there should be no delay in the repairing and the initial tasks like filling up the potholes and levelling the roads should be finished as early as possible.
“Accordingly, I have decided to meet the PWD officials and check out the progress of work. It is true that the progress of repair is slow and is inconveniencing people. But consistent rainfall is also another deterrent to the repair.”
While the minister of state plans to monitor the work to make certain that the repair is finished early, private bus owners, under the banner of North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee set up a road blockade at Haldibari More on NH31D in Jalpaiguri. It continued for five hours on the 14th day of the strike.
“Despite assurances by the state PWD minister and officials of the NHAI, nothing has improved so far and we would rather say that the road condition has deteriorated in the past fortnight,” said Pranab Mani, the secretary of the committee. “We had thus resorted to the road blockade today so that the government and the administration wake up.”
The blockade started at 11.15am and continued till 4.15am, when Nabakumar Burman, the subdivisional officer of Jalpaiguri, reached the spot and assured the protesters that action would be taken. “He has told us that a meeting would be convened at the district magistrate’s office tomorrow. Officials from the PWD, NHAI and all other departments concerned will be present at the meeting,” Mani said.
“We have nothing against the government but simply want the roads to be motorable. We are hopeful of a positive outcome tomorrow.” In the past fortnight, two persons were killed in road accidents that occurred when drivers tried to negotiate potholed highways. The bus owners have alleged that they have to incur additional costs to maintain their vehicles on the crater-filled roads.