GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: ABGL seeks Union territory tag for hills – at last understanding the Gorkha Adivasi consensus for separation from Bengal, on the joy-ride upon GJM programs ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Sept. 14: The ABGL has demanded Union territory status for the Darjeeling hills and said an interim set-up mooted for the region is a ploy to stifle pro-Gorkhaland voices.
“Union territory is the only solution for the region at this moment. The Centre must take steps on these lines along with the delimitation of the Darjeeling parliamentary constituency to include the Mal and Metelli areas (in the Dooars),” said Narayan Chhetri, the spokesperson for the party.
The ABGL’s youth wing Tarun Gorkha has also adopted a resolution, seeking the Union territory status for the hills.
Coming down heavily on the proposal for the interim arrangement, Chhetri said: “The interim set-up is nothing but an excuse to get more money to shut down pro-Gorkhaland voices. In the first place, both the Centre and the state should not have gone in for a dialogue only with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.”
The ABGL is determined to go ahead with its political activities and has started forming units in the Rimbick area, along with youth wings in Jorebunglow, 9km from Darjeeling.
Sources said the ABGL was likely to “officially” induct a couple of former GNLF leaders, including a former Darjeeling municipality commissioner, into the party at a meeting in Kalimpong on September 18.
All eyes are also trained on former GNLF heavyweight from Panighatta, Rajen Mukhia, who recently resigned from Subash Ghisingh’s party. Sources said Mukhia might join the ABGL on September 18.
Nickole wife petition
Prema Tamang, wife of Nickole Tamang, filed a habeas corpus petition in Calcutta High Court today, demanding a judicial probe into the disappearance of her husband from CID custody on August 22. Nickole was one of the main accused in the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang
In her petition, Prema apprehended that her husband might have died because of physical torture by the police during interrogation. She said A.S. Pahari, the investigating officer in the Madan Tamang murder case, was not able to explain to a court in Darjeeling how Nickole had escaped from the police custody.
The high court is likely to hear the case on September 16.
Nickol: HC to hear Habeas corpus suit
India Blooms News Service
Darjeeling, Sept 14 (IBNS): Pema Tamang, wife of Nickol Tamang, the prime accused in the murder of All India Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang, has filed a habeas corpus writ in the Calcutta High Court seeking production of her “missing” husband.
Chief Justice J N Patel and justice Ashim Kumar Roy fixed September 16 as the date for hearing after counsels for Pema Tamang filed the writ in the high court on Monday. Habeas corpus is a suit requiring a person to be brought before a judge or into a court.
Pema Tamang filed the case through advocates Tirthankar Ghosh and Sayan De. She also sought compensation from the state.
Forty-seven-year-old Nickol, accused of hacking to death the AIBL President on May 21 in Darjeeling town, has been missing since August 22 from the state Criminal Investigation Department’s custody in Siliguri.
A Central Committee member of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has been spearheading the separate statehood movement in Darjeeling, Nickol Tamang was in the CID custody after being arrested on August 16.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court of Darjeeling had ordered for Tamang’s CID custody following a prayer from the investigating agency.
The CID claimed that Tamang fled from its custody at Pintail village in Siliguri in the morning of August 22.
Guv directs but no action against cop – valid reasons for the GJM to currently negotiate for a separate Police Commissionerate for the Gorkhaland Regional Authority ?!!
By Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
Kolkata, Mon Sep 13 2010, 06:42 hrs: Surprising as it seems, in Left-ruled Bengal, an inspector appears to enjoy enough political clout to withstand a gubernatorial directive that sought to punish him for his mistakes.
The officer in question is Utpal Banerjee — inspector-in-charge of Birbhum’s Rampurhat police station ¿ who was put in the dock by both Governor MK Narayanan and the state Womens’ Commision for his colossal callousness regarding the case of a teenage tribal girl who was paraded naked in her village in Rampurhat this May.
Three months after the August 8 incident, the media came to know about it from the MMS clips of the incident doing the rounds in the area. The Governor took serious exception to the fact that the police remained in the dark about the crime ¿ which had been videographed ¿ for three months.
“Departmental proceedings should be initiated against the officer-in-charge of the police station and till that is over, he should be placed under suspension,” read the letter from the Governor, written on his behalf by secretary Chandan Sinha.
The letter, recommending the suspension of the officer, was sent twice ¿ the last time on August 27.
But the government turned a blind eye to it and till date, the officer remains unscathed.
The Womens’ Commission, which visited the area and talked to the victim, recommended strong action against the Rampurhat police, including the IC.
“How can the police remain in the dark for three months after the incident took place? And those who videographed the incident should also be interrogated,” commission chairperson Malini Bhattacharya wrote in her report.
The state police see no reason to take action against the policemen.
“The SP sent us a preliminary report, in which we found nothing for which we can take action against the policemen or the IC,” said Surojit Kar Purokayastha, IG, Law and Order. “It was the police which, in fact, started a case and some people were arrested. I don’t know anything more about the case.”
Four die in turf war over football ground – political polarisation, no illegal arms control in Bengal, nor Police apathy ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Burdwan, Sept. 14: Four persons died today after a feud over the control of a Burdwan football field snowballed into a bloody battle between two villages, highlighting the dark side of the frenzy the game evokes in Bengal.
The six-bigha playground is sandwiched between Purbasthali’s Lakshmipur and Aluni. The villagers had been at loggerheads for sometime over which group of boys should play on the field, the biggest in the area.
The Trinamul-dominated Purbasthali is not known for big political clashes unlike other Burdwan trouble zones such as Mangalkot.
According to police sources, today’s violence, which also left 10 persons injured, possibly traces its roots to the murder of a Lakshmipur man last month, after which no games had been played on the ground.
This morning, a group of 100 from Lakshmipur entered Aluni and set fire to a house. “Villagers of Aluni retaliated, hurling bombs and firing at the mob in which Meghnad Ghosh, 32, of Lakshmipur was killed,” said an officer.
As news of the death spread, a larger group of nearly 5,000 villagers — most of them from Lakshmipur but several others drawn from neighbouring Babuidanga and Kamalnagar — stormed Aluni. According to villagers of Aluni, the mob went on the rampage, setting fire to three houses and looting 50 to 60 of them.
During the mayhem, Aluni residents Smarajit Saial, 23, Bhola Bagchi, 18, and Kamal Samajpati, 43, were dragged out of their houses and hacked to death. The Aluni villagers tried to put up a resistance but were outnumbered.
Rathindranath Mukherjee, the Kalna sub-divisional police officer who oversees the area, said many criminals were part of the second group that overran Aluni. “The mob had a lot of criminals,” the officer said.
The police sources said the tussle between the two villages over the ground started when Lakshmipur’s Bifal Ghosh died after being hit by a bomb in a clash on August 7. Tensions had been high since then.
Biswajit Saial, elder brother of the slain Smarajit and deputy chief of the Trinamul-run local Majida panchayat, and others alleged that police from Purbasthali, 22km away, arrived more than fours hours after the mayhem.
“We have heard that the group of about 25 policemen from Purbasthali police station had tea at a stall after reaching Kamalnagar (midway between Purbasthali and Aluni) before carrying on,” Biswajit said.
But officer Mukherjee claimed information about the clash arrived late and the cops reached Aluni by 12.30pm. “The police resorted to a lathicharge. We are carrying out raids to arrest the culprits,” the SDPO added. (in the mobile telephony age, quite a ludicrous excuse ?!!)
Tour gels ‘micro’ with major drive – Garden youths keen on Rahul visit – understanding the inner consensus for separation from Bengal and its parochial problems ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AVIJIT SINHA
Siliguri, Sept. 14: More than 5,000 youths expected to attend Rahul Gandhi’s convention tomorrow are determined to update him on the pathetic condition of the tea gardens in the Dooars and the state government’s alleged apathy towards the sector.
Congress leaders in north Bengal hope that Rahul’s decision to merge the “macro-level” enrolment drive across the country with “micro issues” of the region, like problems of garden workers and constraints impeding socio-economic development of backward classes, will have a two-fold ramification in the northern part of the state.
“First, we will have a large number of youths joining the party. The same people will work for us during the election,” said Deepa Das Munshi, the Congress MP from Raiganj. She admitted that the Youth Congress had few members in the region. “There are times when we don’t even get polling agents for certain booths during elections.”
Rahul’s visit comes at a time when the Congress’s ally, Trinamul, is making inroads in north Bengal, and a tribal outfit, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, has displaced major tea unions, including Intuc, from most gardens.
Only yesterday in New Jalpaiguri, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had drawn a parallel between a “cuckoo” or a fair weather friend and Rahul without naming the Congress general secretary. She had also announced a host of railway projects for the region while inaugurating an escalator, the only one for surface stations in the state, at NJP.
But despite that, Congress leaders claimed, youths from backward communities are pinning their hopes on Rahul, who had advised his party members not to sacrifice “self-respect” for the sake of alliance. Rahul’s advice had not gone down well with Mamata’s party, which had said “beggars could not afford to choose”.
“Around 5,000 Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste youths from the tea estates of the Dooars will be attending the convention to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi at the ABPC grounds tomorrow,” Jalpaiguri district Youth Congress president Saikat Chatterjee said today.
“During the selection of the participants, right from the booth level, we had noticed their eagerness. The expectation is high and they hope to hear from him about the prospective steps for removing the constraints that lie in the path of socio-economic development of their communities as well as their localities.” He said some of the youths would have a chance to directly interact with Rahul.
Rahul’s tour is supposed to provide a booster shot to the Congress, which is still the principal opponent of the CPM in north Bengal. Trinamul has only two MLAs from the region and no seats in Parliament. The Congress has three MPs.
“We will tell Rahul Gandhi about the lack of employment opportunities in our region and also point out that despite living in tea gardens for decades, our families still do not have any land rights,” said Hira Mohan, a resident of Malbazar, who will attend tomorrow’s convention.
Mausam Noor, the Congress MP from North Malda and one of the youngest faces of the party, said she would attend Rahul’s meeting in Balurghat tomorrow along with 6,000 youths from Malda. “He has emerged as a key person who can pull youths to politics and to the Congress,” she said.
The Congress MLA from Jalpaiguri, Debprasad Roy, said the party was ready with information like total population and the number of voters in each booth, earlier poll results, lists of prospective persons who can be enrolled with the Youth Congress, and a progress made in the rural development schemes.
Bus strike to continue till repair – transport NO TRUST motion against Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 14: Bus owners today decided to continue with their strike, refusing to take at face value an assurance from the National Highways Authority of India that a 110km stretch from Ghoshpukur to Dhupguri would be repaired by September 18.
Private buses have not been plying in the Siliguri subdivision and Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts for the past 15 days to protest against the poor condition of roads in north Bengal. The owners will rethink on the strike after travelling on the stretch on NH31D on September 19 to find out if the repair has been carried out properly.
Officials of the NHAI gave the assurance at a meeting with the bus owners at the district magistrate’s conference hall in Jalpaiguri today.
“NHAI officials committed today that all potholes and ditches on this stretch of NH31D would be filled up by September 18. We will travel on the entire stretch the next day to confirm if they have delivered on the promise. A decision on the continuation of the strike will be taken at a meeting in Birpara the same day,” said Pranab Mani, the general secretary of the North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Co-ordination Committee. “There is no question of withdrawing the strike today and it will continue at least till September 19,” he added.
The NHAI informed the bus owners that a Rs 6 crore tender would be invited for a thorough repair and re-laying of bitumen on NH31D. The work is scheduled to start by the first week of October.
Further, an additional Rs 4 crore will be sanctioned to repair a 12-km stretch of NH31D between Dhupguri and Falakata.
“We have offered one month’s time to the NHAI to carry out the comprehensive repair. The roads will not last long, if the repair is carried out by simply covering the potholes with pebbles and sand,” said Mani.
He added that the NHAI would also build a bridge that had been washed away in recent floods at Sonapur near Alipurduar.
Officials of the public works department, which is in charge of state highways and several stretches of national highways, did not attend the meeting convened by the Jalpaiguri subdivisional officer.
“We are concerned about not only NH31D but also the state highways and NH31 which are under the PWD. But no official was sent by the PWD to attend the meeting. We have no idea of the status of the repair carried out by the PWD. It seems that the state public works minister (Kshiti Goswami), who promised on September 2 that all the roads would be repaired in 15 days, cannot keep his word (as only three days are left),” said Mani.
The NHAI is tasked with the maintenance of NH31D that starts from Ghoshpukur on the outskirts of Siliguri and heads for Jalpaiguri, Mainaguri, Dhupguri and Falakata.
A stretch of NH31 from Ghoshpukur to Bagdogra and state highways like Alipurduar-Cooch Behar and Falakata-Cooch Behar are under the PWD.
The PWD said the work to cover the craters on the state highways was in progress, but admitted that the progress was poor.
“The initial repair has commenced on the damaged roads which are under the PWD. However, consistent rain is hampering the work and the progress is not desirable so far,” said Dhruba Chakraborty, the superintending engineer (NH division-IX) of the PWD.
MEANWHILE FROM BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING TO THE EAST
Clamour for firing report – CPM’s transgressions exposed ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Cooch Behar, Sept. 14: The Trinamul Congress today began a 72-hour demonstration in front of the district magistrate’s office, demanding immediate publication of the Seal commission report on the law violation programme that saw five Forward Bloc members killed in police firing on February 5, 2008.
The Left Front government had constituted a one-man commission with retired high court judge Narayan Chandra Seal to probe the incident.
Union minister of state C.M. Jatua also joined the protest that began at 10am. The Trinamul movement has become a cause of embarrassment for the district Bloc leadership as the party’s state secretary Ashok Ghosh himself had asked the state government not to publish the report.
Trinamul district president Rabindranath Ghosh said the Bloc had proved itself a puppet in the hands of the CPM. “It is strange that Ghosh himself does not want the commission report to be published. But we want the report to be out to expose the trigger-happy front government.”
Bloc district secretary Udayan Guha said he was “not aware” of Ghosh’s move. The matter would be discussed at the state committee meeting on Sunday. A senior leader said the publication of the report would affect the front government either way. “Whether it goes against the police or the Bloc, the image of the government will be tarnished.”