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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friday date for Gurung and PC ...Morcha lock on hill offices... Transport strike on 13th....SDF declared unopposed in Civic poll

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, April 7: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation led by Bimal Gurung will meet Union home minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi on Friday.
Although the Union home ministry as well as the Morcha has confirmed that the talks will be held on April 9, Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen said today he had no idea about Gurung’s meeting with Chidambaram.
The first direct talks between the Morcha president and the Union home minister will take place at a time when nobody is willing to concede an inch of the territory that is to come under the interim set-up proposed for the hills.
While the Morcha wants the entire Darjeeling district and parts of the Dooars, the Centre is adamant that the interim arrangement should be confined to the hills.
A Morcha source said apart from the party president, a group of four to five senior leaders would be in the delegation. The meeting is likely to primarily revolve on the territory the Morcha wants to be included in the interim set-up. The Morcha is adamant on the inclusion of all areas, where the Nepali speaking people are in majority in the Dooars, and Siliguri in Darjeeling district.
The party has already made a climbdown and has left out areas where the community is in a minority in the plains in a proposal it had sent in March.
“The party will not make any further concession as far as the territory is concerned,” said a party leader.
A senior official who is in the know of things told The Telegraph that the central and state governments had no intention of parting with the Dooars and Siliguri. “As the elections to the Bengal Assembly are just one year away, both the Centre and the state are in no mood to incorporate the Dooars and Siliguri in the new set-up,” added the official.
Given the stand of the governments and the hill party, the issue of territorial jurisdiction may become a stumbling block in coming to a settlement on the new arrangement.
“There are compulsions for the governments and the Morcha. None will budge. If one party blinks, the arrangement could see the light of day but this looks unlikely at the moment,” said an observer.
Against this backdrop, the meeting between Gurung and Chidambaram has gained much significance. The Morcha chief had skipped all the five tripartite meetings in the past.
The sources said the meeting between the two had been in the pipeline soon after the fifth round of talks on March 18. “Everyone is aware that the issue cannot be sorted out without a direct dialogue between the government and Bimal Gurung,” said the official.
The interlocutor, Lt Gen. (retd) Vijay Madan, is also likely to visit Calcutta and Darjeeling after the Friday meeting in Delhi.
Diktat read as pressure tactics to extract territory concession
TT, Darjeeling, April 7: The offices of the SDO and the BDO in the hills shut down once again today following a diktat issued by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The closure of the offices comes two days before Morcha president Bimal Gurung meets Union home minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi. According to party sources, the shutdown is meant to step up pressure on the central government to grant more concessions on territorial jurisdiction of the interim setup that is sought to be put in place.
The closure of these offices will affect the census being conducted by the central government where the infrastructure support is being provided by the state.
Officially, Amar Lama, a central committee member of the Morcha, said the party had called for a closure of the offices because “a lot of taxes are being levied on our people”.
Also, Lama said: “The allocation of 100 days’ work also has not progressed smoothly.”
However, sources said the shutdown was part of the tactics to build up pressure on both the state and central governments to yield ground on the territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up for which tripartite talks have been taking place.
The Morcha has been insisting the inclusion of Siliguri and the Gorkha dominated areas of the Dooars in the interim set-up, while both the Centre and the state are against it.
Shut down of government offices is a ploy the Morcha had repeatedly employed in the past two years to press for their demands.
Starting from November 7, 2008, the hill outfit has called for closure of government offices at least four times in the past two years.
Every closure has stretched for months with the party providing a relaxation at the end of every month for the disbursement of salaries for the government employees, most of them hill residents.
The closures had definitely hampered official work which had never come to a total halt largely because of the district administration’s determination to make its presence felt despite the state government’s non-confrontation policy.
In 2007, the Morcha stopped the movement of government vehicles in the hills, but the administration outsmarted the party by using private cars to ferry its officials. It was much later that the hill outfit realised that government officers were moving in hired vehicles but by that time the Morcha had already changed its agitation tack.
Plains body demands cop shift
TT, Siliguri, April 7: Jana Jagaran today accused police of playing a partisan role during yesterday’s clash with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and asked the Malbazar SDO to transfer within a week two of the police officer.
Morcha leaders, too, have told the district magistrate to take steps against those who had attacked their supporters and also to ban Jana Jagaran and Amra Bangali, two anti-Gorkhaland forums in the plains, for trying to breach the harmony.
Yesterday, supporters of the Morcha and Jana Jagaran clashed at Malbazar after members of the plains outfit protested the pro-Gorkhaland slogans of the hill party. Around 300 Morcha supporters took shelter at the local police station and after five hours were escorted out to Kalimpong.
“Many residents of Malbazar have seen the biased attitude of the police including the officer-in-charge yesterday. We have been repeatedly insisting that the Morcha supporters should be frisked inside the police station as they were wielding firearms and sharp weapons in public,” said Avik Choudhury, the joint secretary of Jana Jagaran. “But instead, the police misbehaved with us and chased us with batons.”
Choudhury, who submitted a memorandum to subdivisional officer Nilkamal Biswas, said his outfit wanted the transfer of the officer in charge of Malbazar and the subdivisional police officer within a week as “they have acted in a biased manner”.
The Morcha leaders sent a memorandum to Jalpaiguri district magistrate Vandana Yadav. “We want steps against the attackers and a ban on Jana Jagaran and Amra Bangali which are trying to breach the harmony across the Dooars,” said Samuel Gurung, a central committee member of the Morcha.
Jalpaiguri police chief Anand Kumar said: “Three cases were registered in connection with yesterday’s clash and probe is on.” 
Mob beats, burns alive robbers on run- Two of three gang members die in hospital, merchant gets back bag with Rs 8 lakh
A witness clicked on his cellphone the motorcycle set afire at Gajole. The witness said the two robbers had been pushed into the fire by then, but had managed to roll out of the furnace
TT, Malda, April 7: Two of a three-member armed gang who had robbed a businessman outside a bank in Gajole were beaten up and thrown into the fire to be burnt alive till police rescued them and took them to hospital where they died.
The third member of the gang is fighting for life at Malda District Hospital, 35km from Gajole where an attempt was made to rob Pradip Karmakar a little after noon today.
The police alleged the gang was waiting outside the State Bank of India’s Gajole branch. When Karmakar, a rice merchant who lives in Nayapara, withdrew Rs 8 lakh and came out of the bank on the Gajole-Balurghat state highway around 12.30pm, the trio hit him with the butt of a pistol, snatched the bag containing the cash and tried to escape in a motorcycle. Karmakar, with his head bleeding, screamed for help.
“The bank is located on the first floor of a two-storied building with the electricity office on the ground floor. Hearing his screams for help a number of people rushed out of the building and gave chase to the three who were on motorcycle,” said a police officer.
Soon people of the locality joined them and the motorcycle was stopped before it had covered a few metres. Nearly 1,000 people pounced on the three.
The bag with the cash was recovered and the mob started beating up the three. As the news spread, more people joined. A section of them also set fire to the motorcycle.
With the three almost unconscious by then, the residents tied them up and threw them into the burning motorcycle.
The mob also assaulted a local journalist who tried to stop them.
The police first arrived at 1pm, half an hour after the robbery. But seeing the mob, they called for reinforcements which arrived in 20 minutes. The cops baton charged the crowd and took the three to hospital, where 28-year-old Hafizul Sheikh and 30-year-old Pintu Sheikh, both residents of Jadupur in Kaliachak, died.
Miraj Sheikh, the third member of the gang from Jalapur, told the police in hospital that he had no inkling of the other two’s intentions. “Hafizul and Pintu had told Miraj to meet them in front of the bank where he would be given money,” said a police officer.
The police officer also said according to Miraj, it was a six-member gang that was operating in front of the bank and that sensing trouble the other three had melted into the crowd.
Bhuban Mondal, the superintendent of police of Malda, said Karmakar is under treatment at Gajole hospital. “He was given five stitches on the head,” Mondal said.
According to the district police chief, a 9mm pistol loaded with cartridges was recovered from the spot.
The police have filed two cases, one of attempt to rob and the other of mass assault and attempt to murder.
Transport Strike
SNS, KOLKATA, 7 APRIL: In a move that will inconvenience many people, including traders, the state unit of the Citu has called a 24-hour transport strike on 13 April ~ two days before Poila Baisakh or Bengali new year.
Mr Shyamal Chakraborty, state Citu president said that the strike is in protest against the hike in the price of petroleum products.
The state transport minister, Mr Ranjit Kundu, meanwhile, ruled out any increase in bus or taxi fares even as the taxi owners associations called yet another strike on 20 April demanding a hike in fares, in view of the rise in diesel prices. The minister, howver, promised to take up the issue of fare hike with other stakeholders such as, commuters’ organisations and trade unions.
Mr Kundu, who met the various organisations of private transporters said: "The hike in diesel prices affected their profit margin, but they are not incurring losses. For every commuter purchasing a ticket worth Rs 4, the loss in profit is only around 20 paisa and so we do not think they are being affected adversely.”  The minister asked bus owners to submit details of their daily earnings and how the hike in oil prices had affected their prices.
A section of the bus owners demanded that the cess imposed by the state government be withdrawn, instead hiking bus fares. Mr Kundu ruled out withdrawing the cess or sales tax imposed by the state government on oil prices.
“The Centre hiked diesel prices, but the state government did not increase the cess or sales tax in recent years. The demand for withdrawal of the cess is politically motivated.” Meanwhile, disgruntled taxi owners' associations today demanded a Rs 3 increase in the basic fare ~ taking it to Rs 25 ~ with a hike of Rs 2 for every two kilometers. However, when the minister ruled out any hike for the moment, they called a day-long strike on 20 April.  

All Civic seats goes to SDF
PTI, Gangtok, Apr 7 :Ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) swept all seven urban bodies today after its candidates at 44 out of 47 wards were declared elected unopposed. Independents have been able to force polling in only three wards, to be held on April 27, state election department said.
SDF, which had already won 11 out of 15 wards of the Gangtok Municipal Corporation with only its candidates being in the fray after scrutiny of nomination papers two days ago, added two more wards in its kitty today after withdrawal of candidature by Independents today, they said.
Polls will be held in two wards at Tadong and Upper Burtuk as two candidates one each from SDF and Independent, remained in the fray when the time for withdrawal of candidature ended.

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