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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Morcha resents Asok presence on panel....Hunger strikes withdrawn..court arrest continues...On 15th March secret document to be disclosed byGJMM..

TT, March 3: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha may have reservations about joining the next round of tripartite discussion with Asok Bhattacharya at the table, but the state government today indicated that the Siliguri strongman could be its likely representative on March 18 for the political-level talks.
“The first person chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee called on learning of the date of the political-level tripartite talks was Asok Bhattacharya,” said a senior official at Writers’ Buildings today. “Although a decision would be arrived at only after talking to all the Left Front constituents as well as senior ministers, the urban development minister is a likely candidate.”
Earlier in the day, when asked to react to state urban development minister Bhattacharya’s presence at the talks table, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said at a news conference in Kalimpong: “Bhattacharya has always been calling us foreigners. How can we sit with him? There are other ministers in Bengal, including the chief minister himself (who could take part in the talks).”
Gurung, however, said “as of now”, the Morcha would participate in the talks. But he said the composition of the Morcha team for the fifth round of talks would be announced only after going through the names of the state and central representatives.
Brushing aside questions about whether he would accept a Trinamul Congress minister in the central team, Gurung said: “We will talk about it once the names are officially announced.”
But he warned that GNLF president Subash Ghisingh should not be invited to the talks. “Ghisingh will not figure in any discussion,” Gurung said. “He does not enjoy the support of the people.”
Yesterday, Union home minister P. Chidambaram announced in Delhi that a four-member political committee had been formed for the fifth round of talks.
The team will be headed by minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken and will include Trinamul MP and Union minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi.
The Morcha president also announced the immediate withdrawal of the month-long relay hunger strike by the party’s student and youth wings. While the youth wing was on protest to pressure the Union government into announcing the date for the talks, the students were on fast to force the administration to give them permission to hold rallies in Siliguri.
The withdrawal of the twin strikes, Gurung said, was in response to the announcement of the talks date.
The Morcha’s “jail bharo” agitation to protest the alleged police atrocities on the people of Sukna, near Siliguri, will, however, continue.
On February 21, a mob demanding the immediate arrest of an alleged murderer had torched the police outpost in Sukna and burnt two vehicles parked on the compound. The police arrested 18 people for the arson. The Morcha has been agitating for their release.
In Calcutta, minister Bhattacharya told The Telegraph that the chief minister had informed him about the talks date, but he did not know whether he would be part of it.
“The chief minister has talked to me about the next round of talks at the political-level which will be held on March 18, but I have not been told whether I will be one of the representatives of the government. But the announcement of the next round of talks is a positive step and I welcome it.”
While the state government’s main agenda in the talks would be to bring normality to the hills and ensure that development takes place through democratically elected bodies like the panchayats, Gurung said he would discuss the demand for “Gorkhaland”.
But, he added, that thereafter he would also discuss the “secret proposal” he had recently sent to Delhi.
Morcha sources said this “secret” proposal was a climbdown and would exclude the Dooars, Terai and Siliguri from the Morcha’s current geographical definition of “Gorkhaland”.
“We will discuss it at the meeting and we will also disclose our secret report to the media on March 15,” Gurung said today.
The state government, however, said it would insist on elections to the Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik municipalities as well as the panchayats.
“The stalemate in the hills has put development work on the back-burner over the past few years,” an official said. “This has led to an annual amount of nearly Rs 150 crore remaining unspent. Our first issue would be to initiate urban and rural development by holding the elections as soon as possible.”
An alternative to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council will also be discussed, an official said.
GJMM welcomes reports of center deciding on talks
TH, KOLKATA: Though yet to receive a formal communication, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership has “welcomed” the Centre's reported decision to hold “political-level” talks with it to clear the uncertainty in the region arising from its statehood demand.
The GJM is spearheading a movement for a separate State to be carved out of the Darjeeling district and certain areas contiguous to it in north Bengal
“We are yet to receive any formal letter regarding the talks, but have learnt from reports that they are scheduled to be held on March 18. We welcome the move,” GJM general-secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling on Wednesday evening.
According to reports in a section of the media, the Centre's representatives will hold talks with the GJM leadership and officials of the West Bengal government will be present.“We expect an official communication any day now,” senior GJM leader and member of central committee Harka Bahadur Chettri said.
The GJM called off the relay hunger-strike by volunteers from among its student and women organisations, Dr. Chettri said.
“The students have been on relay hunger-strikes demanding the immediate scheduling of political-level talks with the Centre and the State on the statehood issue for over two months. The women volunteers have been on relay hunger-strike for the past 20 days.”
The GJM is also awaiting word on those who will be representing the Centre and the State government before it decides on its own representatives.
“A decision will be taken by our central committee once we get official word on the political-level talks from the Centre and who will be representing the Centre and the State government,” Mr. Giri said.
But questions have been raised within the GJM leadership about its participation if Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee do not attend the talks, as had been demanded earlier by GJM president Bimal Gurung.
The GJM leadership said it would insist that the talks revolve around “a single-point agenda of Gorkhaland State.” The “alternative arrangement,” which is being proposed by the GJM leadership till 2011 for the region, “can, however, be a secondary subject,” Dr. Chettri said.
Strike call & cry for invite greet talks
TT, Siliguri, March 3: The announcement of the political level talks involving the central and state governments and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on March 18 have evoked mixed reaction from different organisations.

While the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee has declared a statewide strike on March 18 to protest the talks, parties like the ABGL and the CPRM wanted to attend the meeting.
“We protest the way the central and state governments are trying to grant the hills additional powers and have decided to call a strike to denounce the talks,” Bhasha Committee president Mukunda Majumdar said. He demanded that the talks be held on condition that the hills would not be given any special powers. “At most, the Darjeeling district can be bifurcated.”
The ABGL president criticised the Centre for inviting only the Morcha leaders to the negotiating table. “When the talks are held at the political level, it is important that all parties having presence in the hills are invited and provided with opportunity to air their views.”
He warned that if the Morcha agreed to a council or other interim arrangements, normality and peace would never be restored in the hills.
Rabindra Chhetri, the organisational head of the CPRM, spoke in similar terms. “We feel that parleys with only one party might lead to resentment among people, as witnessed before the birth of the Morcha.”
While GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh refused to comment, other leaders said on condition of anonymity that it would be ideal if the state and Centre reassessed the support base of the Morcha. “Support base of the other party (Morcha) is eroding fast and the governments should understand that their opinions might not reflect the sentiment of the entire hill populace,” a GNLF leader said.
The CPM justified the proposed presence of state urban development minister and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya at the meeting. “He knows the situation well and naturally, his presence at the meeting is important as the matter is related to his district and the people he represents in the Assembly,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a district secretariat member of the party.
Lawyer wall for accused
TT, Raiganj, March 3: Lawyers put up a human wall as Chanchal Sarkar and his wife Papiya, accused in the murder of a photographer of a local cable channel, were brought to the chief judicial magistrate’s court here today.

They jostled with photojournalists who tried to click Sarkar, the vice-president of the North Dinajpur bar association, as he got down from the police van. Some of the lawyers roughed up the photographers. Later, the secretary of Uttar Dinajpur District Press Club submitted a written complaint to the lawyers with the chief judicial magistrate.
The couple were produced in chief judicial magistrate Rajiv Saha’s court, who remanded them in CID custody for 10 days.
Sarkar and his wife were picked up from his in-laws' house in the Birnagar area of town by a CID team yesterday. Police sources said the CID that had taken over the investigation in January had information that the couple — on the run since the murder of Biswajay Ghosh on November 27 — had taken shelter in the house recently.
Posing as salesmen of free pre-paid mobile connections of a private cellphone company, three CID men entered the house and arrested the couple.
The team took the help of Raiganj police who had surrounded the house to prevent the couple from giving them the slip. Sarkar told reporters yesterday that he did not know Biswajay and he had been falsely implicated in the case. With these two arrests, the investigators have rounded up all six persons named in the complaint lodged by Biswajay’s widow at the Raiganj police station.
Indian Police arrest Top Maoist leader
Anjana Pasricha . Voice of America, New Delhi 03 March 2010: 
Indian police say they have arrested a top Maoist rebel leader in West Bengal - an eastern state where the rebels recently staged one of their most daring attacks. Venkateswar Reddy is the latest of several key Maoist leaders taken into custody in recent months.
Police say a special team arrested 45-year-old Reddy, also known as Telugu Deepak, in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal state, late Tuesday. 
They describe him as a key associate of top Maoist leader, Koteswara Rao.
Police say the arrested Maoist leader is suspected of having planned last month's deadly assault on a security camp, in which scores of rebels besieged the camp, shot soldiers dead and set it on fire after laying land mines. Twenty-four soldiers were killed in the attack, described as the deadliest in the state. 
A top official in West Bengal, Raj Kanojia, says Reddy masterminded many other attacks in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh state, in the last decade.

"He is a mechanical engineer. He has been involved in a number of Maoist incidents including killings, land mine blasts and looting of weapons," he said.
At least five other top Maoist leaders have been taken into custody since Indian security forces launched a special operation to quell the rebellion in several eastern states where the guerrillas are most active. 
Officials hope that targeting top leaders will make it easier to flush the guerrillas from their hideouts.

The rebels have responded to the crackdown by mounting several attacks on security forces. They have also rebuffed the government's efforts to draw them into peace talks, saying they will only join talks if their arrested leaders are released and if the government halts the anti-Maoist offensive.
Intelligence officials believe the Maoists have about 20 to 30 top leaders and some 12,000 cadres. The rebels have hideouts in remote areas inhabited by tribal people along an eastern belt which is less developed compared to other parts of the country.
The Maoists are seen as the greatest internal security challenge in a country which is battling several other insurgencies.

Kishanji aide's arrest may lead to talks table
Caesar Mandal, TNN, KOLKATA: Maoist military stra-tegist Telugu Deepak alias Venkateswar Reddy was a nig-htmare for security forces in three states — Bengal, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. But his skills as the guerrillas’ political envoy can now play a crucial role in the expected truce process, say sources.
Intelligence officers say his arrest will be major blow to the outfit in Bengal and Jhar-khand. "He may be a more significant catch than Kishanji," said an officer.
What’s even more important, they say, is that it may lead the Maoists to the talks table. Deepak had probably arrived in the city to finalise a deal on the truce proposals recently offered by Kishanji.
In the Maoist hierarchy, he was the chairman of the Bengal military commission, responsible for all armed operations, procuring arms and funds, recruiting cadres and training them. But despite his organisational position, he was more precious to the rebels as their political pointman. He had played a crucial role in several major political tie-ups and decisions in the recent past, especially in Bengal.
A day after Deepak’s arrest, Kishanji’s tone was — quite unexpectedly — not in a high pitch against the government. He mentioned Deepak only once while talking to TOI on Wednesday evening, saying: "We want the unconditional release of Deepak and other arrested Maoists." When asked if it was a prerequisite for the talks, he replied: "No, we are not setting any conditions."
"Within hours of our truce offer, security forces killed tribal leader Lalmohan Tudu, whi-ch proves the government is not interested in initiating the peace process. But we kept our offer open. We believe an unbiased discussion may end both state terrorism and our revolutionary violence," the Maoist politburo member said.
There was no warning reflected in his voice. Rather, his statement hints that Maoists are eager to go for a truce.
With Operation Green Hu-nt looming, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) president Baburam Bhattarai recently stated that unconditional talks alone can sort out the trouble. It was a clear hint to the Indian Maoists. "In such a situation, Kishanji will sorely miss his sounding board. He consulted Deepak on nearly every matter," said an officer.
The arrest of Maoist leader Deepak may clear the decks for talks, say Maoist experts. On Wednesday, they hinted that from within state custody, Deepak would be the right man to start an unofficial negotiation with the government to smoothen the official truce process.
A senior officer said that the "military commander" is the most skilled negotiator in the Maoist ranks and has a lot of experience in dealing with politicians. "Having lost Deepak, the outfit will not be in a position to reject a good offer from the government," said a senior police officer.
Deepak had a strong grip over the outfit and a sound knowledge of the political scenario of the state. When Kishanji refused to go to Nandigram despite a direction from his higher-ups, Deepak was assigned as the Maoist envoy to work with rebel peasants and villagers there.
After Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee was formed in Nandigram and some mainstream political parties started working there, Deepak was the key man who made the political tie-ups with them and continued to expand the rebel organisation.
Sources say Deepak had close links with various political characters in Keshpur too, and that he was the main person behind the CPM-Maoist tie-up. Sources said Deepak’s absence would create a major vacuum in the outfit in dealing with such complicated political issues. It will take a long time to find a replacement.
Kishanji demands Dipak's release
IE, Kolkata,  4 March: Maoist leader Kishenji on Wednesday said his outfit was ready for talks with the Centre and demanded the release of his close aide Venkataswar Reddy, who was arrested from the southern fringes of the metropolis.
Demanding immediate and unconditional release of Reddy alias Telegu Dipak along and all other arrested Maoist leaders he said, "We are ready for talks with the government which has not responded so far."
Dipak was remanded in police custody for 14 days by a city court on Wednesday.
Claiming that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was not interested in holding talks, Kishenji said both sides should sit for dialogue while ensuring that there was no state-sponsored terrorism and revenge tactics.
"On the date proposed for talks, the joint forces shot dead People's Committee against Police Atrocities president Lalmohan Tudu. It proves that Chidambaram is not keen on discussions with us. His proposals for talks are all eyewash," he claimed.
Tudu was shot dead near Kantapahari in West Midnapore district on February 26 in an alleged encounter with the joint forces.
Chidambaram had earlier given a fax number of the Union Home ministry for Kishenji to make his offer of talks, with the stipulation that there should be "no ifs, buts and preconditions".
Kishenji had responded by sharing a mobile number and saying he would wait for a phone call.
"There has been no response from the government to the number we gave to Union Home Minster for talks so far. There is no phone call from them. This proves once again that Chidambaram is not interested in talks," Kishenji alleged.
Tudu was shot dead near Kantapahari in West Midnapore district on February 26 in an alleged encounter with the joint forces.
Chidambaram had earlier given a fax number of the Union Home ministry for Kishenji to make his offer of talks, with the stipulation that there should be "no ifs, buts and preconditions".
Kishenji had responded by sharing a mobile number and saying he would wait for a phone call.
"There has been no response from the government to the number we gave to Union Home Minster for talks so far. There is no phone call from them. This proves once again that Chidambaram is not interested in talks," Kishenji alleged.

TT, Siliguri: The SFI formed the students’ union at North Bengal University by winning 71 seats in the election held on Wednesday. The election was conducted in 79 of the 80 seats
The Politics of Peace
Sanjib kr Barua, HT, New Delhi: 
After the nine-hour-long KLM flight from Amsterdam, one would have expected a weary Thuingaleng Muivah on the New Delhi airport tarmac on Saturday night.

But the 75-year-old general secretary of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) showed little signs of a jet lag.                                              
A guerrilla who survived for decades in the jungles of the northeast, Muivah did not even show signs of the load he was carrying on his shoulders — the aspirations of his community.
NSCN-IM, the most dominant force in Naga insurgency, has been on a ceasefire mode since 1997.
And since then, about 60 rounds of parleys have taken place in India and abroad.
Emerging out of yet another round of meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday, Muivah said, “The negotiations would continue. If the Centre is serious, we will talk.”
VS Atem, convener of the NSCN-IM’s steering committee, told Hindustan Times: “The government has admitted that while talks have been going on for so long, it will be the endeavour of this government to find a solution in the ‘shortest possible’ time.”
But there are already signs that patience among various sections of the Nagas is wearing thin, as 13 years have gone by without there being anything concrete to show.
Here are some examples:
“It is about time an honourable solution is hammered out. Everyone’s tired of this waiting game.” — Asangla, a housewife in Nagaland capital Dimapur.
“Our leadership has been coming to the negotiating table, but we do not see similar sincerity on the government’s part.” - N Venu, general secretary, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights.
“Now we want to see the sincerity in action and in spirit. The Naga community is just tired of the delaying tactics of government.” — Solomon, president, Dimapur Naga Students’ Union.
Some years back, a Union minister candidly admitted to this correspondent that the delaying tactic forms a key component in talks with insurgent outfits. And clearly, the government’s strategy is paying dividends.
A leading Naga activist, N Krome, however, attributed the government’s strategy more to indecisiveness than conscious strategising. He said successive governments in Centre lacked consistency in their approach to the Naga issue.
Other rebel groups also claim to have experienced the same delaying tactic in government-induce talks.
Arup Borbora, a member of the Peoples’ Consultative Group (PCG), told HT:  “Bureaucrats take control of the talks. There is no political vision and sincerity. And without sincerity, problems will never get resolved.”
The PCG was set up in Assam in 2005 to mediate between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the government.
“The real issue is being skirted around. There is lack of sincerity,” echoed Govinda Basumatary, general secretary, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (ceasefire faction).
There are differing views among the observers in New Delhi.
Ajit Doval, counter-insurgency expert and former director of the Intelligence Bureau, said, “The government should have used the 13-year period to consolidate by active socio-economic programmes. The NSCN-IM, however, used this period to strengthen itself.”
But Ajai Sahni, executive director, Institute for Conflict Management, said, “The NSCN should also show some flexibility. If they expect the government to talk to them on absolute sovereignty, that is not going to happen.
“We have to ask whether the two sides have framed a formulation to move forward. In any case, the very fact that the ceasefire is continuing is itself a gain,” he said.
While the coming days will reveal whether any common ground has been identified, certain core issues remain to be tackled immediately.
How the sovereignty question will be tackled.
How effective the talks with just one faction of the insurgents will be, as there are competing claims to leadership of the Nagas, chiefly led by the NSCN’s Khaplang faction.
How the government proposes to resolve the demand for a Greater Nagalim that has been opposed by neighbouring Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
TIT BITS: KalimNews: March 3, 6.30pm 
1.GJVM AND GJYM the students' and youth organisations of GJMM has withdrawn relay hunger strikes from his evening.
2. Hundreds of GJMM supporters are courting arrest each day in the different police Stations Darjeeing Hills and Dooars. West Bengal Police has been recording the arrest and granting PR bonds to all of them.
3. ABGL has termed the political strategies and programmes of GJMM a drama.
4. Bimal Gurung, President of GJMM has declared to publicly disclose the content of the secret proposal/letter sent/deposited to the Central Government on 15th March 2010.

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