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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tour agents happy with road force...Party refuses to buy ‘suicide’ - Farewell to Kanu Sanyal

Focus on hill school posts first
TT, Kalimpong, March 24: The Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation will demand a phase-wise regularisation of jobs rather than insisting on the fulfilment of its entire wish-list when its representatives meet senior officials of the education department in Calcutta tomorrow.
A seven-member team of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated union today left for Calcutta for the talks on the demand for the regularisation of ad hoc teachers and non-teaching staff working in government schools in the hills.
“In the first phase, we want the services of those teachers who are working against existing vacancies to be regularised. Thereafter, we will insist that teachers working against vacancies that are yet to be sanctioned be made permanent. Finally, we want the recognition of teachers who are working in schools that are yet to be upgraded,” said Bhisan Roka, the JSTO spokesperson.
The meeting with additional chief secretary (education), Vikram Sen, is a follow-up to the earlier talks a JSTO team had with education minister Partha Dey on March 16.
The minister had agreed to begin the process of regularising the services of 474 teachers and 78 non-teaching staff members — one of the three main demands of the JSTO, which had declared the boycott of exam duties to pressure the government into action.
The JSTO is expected to take up other demands at the talks table, but will not press for their fulfilment for the moment. The other demands include the recognition of schools, the upgrade of junior schools into high schools and high schools into Higher Secondary schools and appointment of teachers in-charge as headmasters.
The union will also demand the creation of additional posts of teachers in missionary schools and grants to those institutions which have completed hundred years. 
Parishad veto on tea tourism
TT, Siliguri, March 24: Armed with a trade wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad is planning to oppose the setting up of tourist resorts in tea estates in the Terai and the Dooars.
“The number of workers in the tea industry has increased and often there are talks of laying off workers by new managements seeking to take over closed or abandoned gardens. The aim of our trade union will be to ensure that workers do not lose their jobs,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the Parishad’s state general secretary.
He said the Parishad felt that unutilised land in the estates should be used for tea-related purposes. “We will tell the garden managements that we will not allow tourism-related activities on garden land. The planters should expand the estates and plant new bushes so that workers get work.”
According to sources in the Jalpaiguri district administration, at least a dozen proposals for tea tourism in the Dooars have been lying with the state land department in Calcutta. “There are problems regarding conversion of land leased to tea estates to tourism-related activities,” a district official said.
Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad, said over the phone from Calcutta that getting the labour department to recognise the trade union was a significant achievement for them. “Now, we can work on solving the problems of health, education and living condition of the workers in different tea estates across north Bengal. Our demand for inclusion of the Terai and Dooars in the Sixth Schedule is for the development of the entire tribal population of the region.”
The Parishad members will hold a meeting at Nowera Nuddy Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri on March 28.
“In the meeting, we will once again clear our stand — that we are not going to allow the Terai and the Dooars to be included in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s proposed separate state or a regional authority — to our members in the region,” Tirkey said.
The next day, the Parishad leaders will meet the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri and the district magistrate and submit memorandums to them in this regard.
“On January 29 last year, we had handed over a memorandum to the chief minister through the divisional commissioner, pointing out several issues for uplift of the tea workers of the region. We will review the progress of our demands in the meeting with the authorities,” Tirkey said.
Highway clear, profit hope soars- Tour agents happy with road force
TT, Siliguri, March 24: Stakeholders in the tourism sector, particularly those based in Sikkim, are hoping for a better summer this time with the Centre and the Bengal government gearing up to keep NH31A, the lifeline to the Himalayan state, free from political blockades.
Tour operators are relieved that three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been posted along NH31A since the last week of February. “We can now guarantee our clients that there will be no disruptions in their travel plans and the highway will be blockade-free,” said a Sikkim-based tour operator.
Also, with the next round of tripartite talks between the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha slated for the middle of May, tour agents are hopeful that the hill party will not take to the path of bandhs and blockades as long as the process of dialogue is on.
Those in Sikkim are more anxious as the state is all set to celebrate 2010 as Tourism Year. The national highway is the only arterial link the state has with the rest of the country. The Supreme Court had ordered, on a petition filed by a Sikkim resident, that the Centre and the Bengal government ensure that NH31A be kept free of blockades all the time. Frequent strikes called in Bengal by those supporting and opposing Gorkhaland had been affecting traffic on the busy highway.
“Sikkim is gaining prominence as a tourist destination in the national and international circuits. We have a number of events lined up this year to attract as many visitors as we can. The objective is to project Sikkim’s image as a premier tourist destination in the Tourism Year. For the success of the events, it is important that the political situation in the Darjeeling hills is favourable,” said B. Namgyal, the secretary of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim and the proprietor of Sikkim Holidays Tour Trek and Expedition.
“Foreign tourists visit Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Dooars as a circuit. Their first query before visiting is always on the political situation in Darjeeling. This factor influences their decisions a lot. These people are our high-paying clients and they visit in large groups. Last year, we suffered losses of nearly 40 per cent. The tourist season this year has kickstarted well and we hope that the tripartite talks are favourable so that we don’t have to suffer,” Namgyal said without putting a figure on the losses.
Tour operators in Darjeeling, too, have their fingers crossed as NH55 — the national highway connecting it to Siliguri — is the subject of frequent blockades but is out of the ambit of the apex court order.
“In the past 30 months of the Gorkhaland agitation, Darjeeling tourism has suffered a huge setback. But now, the situation seems to be positive and we hope things will work out in the tripartite talks and a settlement will be reached. We are receiving several enquiries from domestic and foreign tourists for the coming season,” a Darjeeling-based tour operator said.
Party refuses to buy ‘suicide’- Naxalbari bids farewell to Kanu Sanyal
Avijit Sinha, TT, Naxalbari, March 24: The body of Kanu Sanyal was cremated on the banks of the Mahananda here at 6pm today even as the state leaders of the CPI (ML) refused to accept the police version that their all-India general secretary had committed suicide.
Sanyal, one of the co-founders of the Naxalite movement in 1967, was found hanging from the wooden beam of his mud hovel in Hatighisa village in Naxalbari, about 20km from Siliguri, yesterday evening. The 78-year-old Sanyal had suffered a stroke in 2008 and had been depressed, neighbours and party colleagues said after his death.
However, Subrata Basu, the state general secretary of the party, who reached here from Calcutta this morning with 18 other party leaders, said: “He was a man of steel and I know him for the past 30 years. The central committee of our party does not endorse that he committed suicide and feels that it is necessary to probe into it. It has been decided that the party will look into the issue.”
“We are not ready to buy the theory that he took his own life but are keeping our assumptions or apprehensions in abeyance. Once we get over with his last rites, the central committee will sit and discuss the matter. Initially, the party will take up the probe and if necessary, we can approach the police as well,” he added.
Basu also denied that Sanyal was suffering from depression. “I met him only a week ago and he was fine. In February, we held the central committee meeting at his home. We were also planning a meeting of the provincial state committee next month at Hatighisa, he was in no way depressed,” Basu said.
At Hatighisa, hundreds of people, tea workers, schoolchildren and leaders of different political parties, assembled in front of the hut where Sanyal had lived. Around 12.30pm his body was brought in a mortuary van, draped in red flag. No sooner had the stretcher been pulled out, hundreds pushed and jostled to touch and see Sanyal.
“He used to keep regular contacts with us as well as other family members,” Prabir, his brother and a resident of Babupara, said. “I had been here early this month and had never imagined that he would depart in such a manner. Our family members are proud of him.”
Upen Santhal, the son of CPI (ML)’s Jangal Santhal who was among those who led the 1967 uprising, reminisced his days with the leader. “I would curiously watch my father and Kanubabu discussing at length on their struggle. As I was too young in those days, I was not allowed to listen or take part in party’s activities,” he said.
The body was brought out of the hutment around 2.30pm. From there, a crowd of more than 400 supporters went till the Naxalbari bus stand. Shops in Hatighisa and some parts of Naxalbari closed as a mark of respect to the leader. From there, it headed for Siliguri where it was kept at Mitra Sammilani for the people to show respect. Finally, around 5pm it was taken to the Kiranchandra crematorium. 
Samiran Paul Photographer of Kalimpong News is a member of this Club and some of his photographs will be exhibited in this Exhibition. We wish him all the best.

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