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Friday, March 26, 2010

Morcha threatens to unleash Gorkha squad - Rs 3 lakh promised to GLP members dying for statehood

A procession taken out by the Nari Morcha at Batasia, 4km from Darjeeling town, on Thursday to observe Chaita Dashain. Picture by Suman Tamang
TT, Darjeeling, March 25: Bimal Gurung has threatened to “let loose the GLP” on the administration if it does not stop harassing the common people in the hills. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president has also promised Rs 3 lakh each to families of Gorkhaland Personnel if they are killed during the statehood agitation that the party is spearheading.
“If the GLP members die during the agitation, the party will provide a compensation of Rs 3 lakh (each) to the next of kin,” Gurung told a gathering of party workers at the Ambotia tea garden, 50km from Darjeeling and in Kurseong subdivision, yesterday.
Soon after announcing the compensation, Gurung warned the state government against “continuously conducting raids and harassing the public in Kurseong”.
“If the administration does not stop conducting raids and harassing the public in Kurseong, I will let loose the GLP on them,” he warned. “The GLP is trained by ex-servicemen on every aspect of combat except the use of firearms.” Last month, police had conducted raids across Kurseong town following the attack on the police station there and the torching of the house of Shanta Chhetri, the GNLF MLA from Kurseong. Gurung was referring to the February 18 incident in which more than 70 party supporters were arrested in and around Siliguri for blocking NH55 and NH31 during a 24-hour bandh called by the Morcha’s student front. The arrests triggered the rampage and the arson in the hill town. “If ever there comes a time when people stop talking about Gorkhaland, I along with my GLP, will carry on with the struggle till my last breath,” he said.
The Morcha claims to have around 7,000 men and women in the GLP, who are paid a monthly remuneration of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500. The GLP is made up of volunteers raised initially — according to party claims — for crowd management during public programmes. Later, the party had tried to make it function like a parallel police force, checking cars to seize “illegal liquor”. The administration had then announced that the GLP seizures went against the law. Even though the Morcha president talked about “letting loose the GLP”, he laid stress on a “democratic agitation”.
“The kind of democratic agitation we have undertaken is an example for the rest of the country. Unlike the agitation (for statehood) of 1986 (started by Subash Ghisingh), when 1,200 people died and women along with children were taught to play with gunpowder, we are moving ahead in a peaceful manner now,” said Gurung.
The leader also lambasted Ghisingh for his brand of politics. “After the death of hundreds of his supporters, he left out the Dooars and Terai (from the purview of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council). We are now having to fight for this territory,” he said.
Gurung also referred to Ghisingh’s call to the common people to make offerings of tongba (intoxicant) to the gods and goddesses during his Sixth Schedule campaign. “If people want such a rule and such a leader (who wants people to make tongba offerings), it will be their loss,” he said. The GNLF had organised meetings at Longview and Sukna early this month. “Ninety-nine per cent of the people are fighting for Gorkhaland but a few of them, promoted by the state, are trying to derail our movement. For these people my Nari Morcha is enough. Our Nari Morcha members have long nails which can be used to good effect,” he said in jest.
The leader also had a word for Madan Tamang, the president of the ABGL, a Morcha rival. “For 40 years you (Tamang) were in politics and you should be able to show what you have done for the hill people,” Gurung said.
The Morcha president is currently touring the Kurseong subdivision, reorganising the party. “When our party was formed those who came forward initially became the leaders. Now we are seeing to it that the leaders are selected by the local people through election. This will help the party remain strong at the grassroots level,” Gurung said.
The process of dividing the party into block and zonal-level units has already been completed in Kalimpong subdivision. After Kurseong, Gurung is expected to carry out the exercise in Darjeeling as well. The Morcha plans to hold a large public meeting, to be addressed by Gurung, in Kurseong town on March 28.
Darjeeling BJP cry for Gorkhaland
TT, Darjeeling, March 25: The Darjeeling district committee of the BJP today adopted a resolution for the creation of Gorkhaland and announced that the party would organise political programmes in favour of statehood.
“Jaswant Singh had won the elections as a BJP candidate. The hill people had voted him for a separate state. Now, we find that the party (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) which was spearheading the movement is talking about an interim set-up. The Morcha seems to have taken rest but we have decided to go ahead with the agitation,” said Dawa Sherpa, who today relieved his charge as the working president of the district committee.
However, Sherpa, the newly appointed state secretary of the BJP, did not categorically oppose the “interim set-up” mooted by the Morcha. “It is their stand, but we are for Gorkhaland,” he said.
It is to be seen whether the committee’s stand will hamper relations between the Morcha and the BJP’s central leadership. The Morcha had virtually bypassed the state leaders while striking an electoral alliance with the BJP. The BJP state leadership had distanced itself from the Gorkhaland issue.
Asked if the state leadership would accept the resolution, Sherpa said: “The state leadership has not fully rejected the demand. Nonetheless, we passed the resolution today and the state leaders can make clear their stand.”
Hill & tribal unions share tea interest 

TT, Siliguri, March 25: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated labour union has decided to go along with the trade wing of a tribal outfit, once its bete noir, for “socio-economic development” of the three lakh-odd workers in tea estates of the Dooars and Terai .
Unlike other trade unions that are keeping a safe distance from the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (Dooars-Terai), formed by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad last week, leaders of the Morcha affiliate, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said the new body would supplement their cause for the tea workers.
The Morcha and the Parishad moved closer after a hill party delegation met Adivasi leaders in the Dooars on March 15 with Bimal Gurung’s “secret proposal” for an interim set-up.
“We share a similar ideology and are not politically biased like the Citu or the Intuc. The deprivation of tea workers, be it in the hills, Terai or the Dooars, is felt by both the unions — unlike others who are interested in minting money from workers’ wages and using the workforce as a tool to fulfil their political interests,” said Suraj Subba, the Morcha union’s general secretary.
The Morcha union has wiped out the GNLF-run Himalayan Plantation Workers’ Union in all 87 gardens in the hills and enjoys majority in 12 gardens of the Terai, too.
“Our trade union was floated one-and-a-half years ago and today we have units in around 25 gardens in the Terai. In the Dooars, we are strong in 20-25 estates and have units in over 75 gardens,” Subba said.
Asked if the formation of the PTWU by the Parishad would affect their support base, Subba replied in the negative. “We do not feel that there will be any erosion (in the support base) as we, too, are fighting for the right cause. However, the new union has definitely become a cause of concern for leaders of the so-called established trade unions.”
Parishad leaders, who claimed to have formed PTWU units in 17 estates of the Dooars and Terai so far, said they would not have any problem working with the Morcha union.
“Several common issues associated with workers’ welfare are lying unattended,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the general secretary of the PTWU. “If any other trade union expresses interest to work for the socio-economic development of the tea workers, we are ready to work together. 
SC rejects Chamling asset probe- Petitioner told to directly approach CBI with proof
Samanwaya Routray, TT, New Delhi, March 25: The Supreme Court today said it was up to police and the executive to decide whether to file a corruption case against a politician and that the court cannot take a call on this score, dismissing a plea for a CBI probe into assets owned by the Sikkim chief minister and alleged to be disproportionate to his known sources of income.
“This court cannot sit in judgment over whether investigations should be launched against politicians for alleged acts of corruption,” a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, said, dismissing a plea by a dissident Sikkim Democratic Front leader, Kunga Nima Lepcha, and three others.
They had sought a court direction for a CBI probe into the assets chief minister Pawan Chamling allegedly amassed during his previous stint as the chief minister and consequent legal action in the form of an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Chamling is the leader of the ruling SDF in the state.
“The Supreme Court functions as a constitutional court as well as the highest appellate court in the country. If the Supreme Court gives direction for prosecution, it would cause serious prejudice to the accused, as the direction of this court may have far-reaching persuasive effect on the court which may ultimately try the accused,” the bench said.
“It is always open to the petitioners to approach the investigative agencies directly with the incriminating material and it is for the investigative agencies to decide on the further course of action.”
The bench also lamented the trend of political rivals filing motivated petitions in the court to settle scores. “Four individuals belonging to a political party raises the apprehension that they were motivated by a sense of political rivalry rather than a public-spirited concern about the misuse of office by the incumbent chief minister.”
The court’s extraordinary powers to interfere were only meant to be exercised in circumstances in which fundamental rights of citizens were violated, the bench said.
The four petitioners also levelled similar charges against 21 other members of Chamling’s family. They said the family had declared assets worth Rs 4,76,54,238 prior to the Assembly polls in 2004. However, the family’s assets stood at over Rs 25 crore, the petitioners alleged.
The PTI reports that Chamling, while reacting to the order, said in Gangtok: “Now that the bogey of corruption charges has been finally removed, I will dedicate myself to the service of state without fear. Since the filing of case in 2006, I was unable to fully concentrate on governance fearing that the rivals might drag me to court about every decision on financial matters.”
Teacher jobs
Rajiv Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, March 25: The state government has agreed to notify soon a five-member board for the regularisation of services of adhoc teachers and the non-teaching staff in government-aided schools in the hills.
The assurance was given today at a meeting of the leaders of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JSTO), education department officials and a representative of the DGHC in Calcutta.
The JSTO spokesperson, Bhisan Roka, told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta that additional chief secretary (education), Vikram Sen, had directed the DGHC to send a proposal for the constitution of the board at the earliest. The DGHC was represented by Sonam Bhutia, an additional district magistrate of Darjeeling.
The five-member board comprising two members from the field of education, two others recommended by the DGHC and a person of eminence from the hills will scrutinise the qualifications of the adhoc teaching and non-teaching staff and recommend their appointments.
Roka said the DGHC was expected to send its proposal by next week.
Chhetri to sign with Kansas City Wizards on Friday
PTI, NEW DELHI: India striker Sunil Chhetri will sign a contract with United States Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards on Friday, the MLS club said on Thursday.

"Indian forward Sunil Chhetri has agreed in principal to a deal with Major League soccer, pending medical and P-1 Visa approval," KC Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said.

"One thing we really like about Sunil is that he's a crafty player. Technically he's very sharp, and he's a guy that has good attacking tendencies," he added.
After signing his contract, Chhetri will hold a press conference early morning on Friday (Thursday evening USA time).
A teleconference of Indian media is being organised at 9 am by the Bangalore office of Cerner Corporation, a medical software company headquartered at North Kansas City whose boss Neal Patterson is the owner of KC Wizards.
Chhetri will become the third Indian player to ply trade in a professional league abroad after Mohamed Salim and current national captain Bhaichung Bhutia.
Salim played for Scottish side Celtic in pre-independence days of India while Bhaichung was with English Championship side Bury FC in the second division from 1999-2002.
The 25-year-old from Delhi will become the first Indian and eighth Asian citizen to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian to play for the Kansas City Wizards.
Chhetri, who arrived in Kansas City on Tuesday night, will join the team for training later in the week. KC Wizards play their first match of MLS season on Saturday against DC United.
Chhetri has been a regular with the Indian national team since 2004, scoring 16 goals in 35 appearances. His most famous moment with the national team came in 2008, when he scored a hat-trick in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup against Tajikistan.
Because of the victory in that tournament, India qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, the first time after 1984.
Chhetri began his professional career in 2002 with Mohun Bagan, scoring eight goals in 18 appearances over three years with the team.
He later played for I-League sides JCT, East Bengal and Dempo, making 75 appearances and scoring 35 goals over the next five years, earning Indian Player of the Year honour from the All India Football Federation in 2007.
Chhetri drew interest from British clubs Leeds United and Glasgow Celtic and appeared for trials last year with English Championships (second division) sides Coventry City and Queen's Park Rangers.
QPR offered Chhetri a contract but could not complete his move after the English Home Office denied him a work permit due to India's low FIFA rankings.

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