To contact us CLICK HERE
View Kalimpong News at
Citizen reporters may send photographs related to news with proper information to

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Morcha plans to shut out Parishad - Hill outfit alleges state hand in Adivasi demand ...

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, April 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today indicated that it would abandon its efforts to woo the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad to agree to its demand to include the Terai and parts of the Dooars in the interim authority for the Darjeeling hills.
In the past, the Morcha and the Parishad leaderships had few meetings to arrive at a consensus on this issue. However, the Parishad had always said that while it has no objections to the creation of Gorkhaland, it did not want Dooars to be a part of it.
But with the Morcha insisting that the Nepali-dominated areas of the Dooars should be part of the interim authority, the Parishad had placed a rider yesterday. It said that tribals should also be made part of the talks that has been taking place between the Centre, the state and the hill party.
The Morcha today responded by challenging the locus standi of the Parishad for speaking on behalf of all tribals.
Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri told The Telegraph: “We no longer think that the Parishad is the sole body representing the rights of the tribals in the Terai and the Dooars. This is largely because a large number of people from the tribal community are now with the Morcha in those areas. Who has given them (the Parishad) the authority to speak on behalf of all tribals in the Dooars?” Chhetri even went one step ahead and hinted at a collusion between the Parishad and the state government.
“It is clear that the Left- minded tribal leaders involved with the Parishad are now being controlled by the state government and they are trying to derail our efforts to reach an agreement for an interim set- up. The state is aware that it has much to lose and is now using these tribal leaders who were formerly with the CPM and the RSP to achieve their goal,” said Chhetri.
This marks a break from the previous Morcha stand of appeasing the Parishad leadership and arriving at a consensus.
Even on March 15 this year, the day Morcha chief Bimal Gurung made public his “secret document” for an interim set up, a delegation of the hill party that included Chhetri had held a meeting with the Parishad leaders and had tried hard to press upon them the benefits that the tribals would enjoy if they were part of the interim set-up.
Asked whether the Morcha would oppose the demand for the inclusion of the tribals in the talks, Chhetri said: “Any such call has to be made after holding a central committee meeting. This decision also lies with the Union government. However, the Morcha has been very logical in the demand for inclusion of areas in the Dooars in the interim set-up. We have redrawn the map to ensure that we leave out areas where there is 100 per cent opposition to the inclusion within the proposed set-up. We are not illogical and have demanded only those areas where people, including the tribals, have supported the interim set-up.”
Earlier, the Morcha had demanded that the entire Dooars be included in the area it wanted as Gorkhaland. However, Gurung made a climbdown when in the “secret proposal” he revealed that the Gorkhaland map had been redrawn to include only those parts of the Dooars where there is a significant Gorkha population.
After the submission of the document, the Morcha had made it clear that it would no longer compromise on the revised territory.
Chhetri said: “The Parishad must understand that we also have support in the Dooars which has been proved by the fact that we won the Kalchini Assembly byelections.”
Rain ruptures water pipes, dry taps in Gangtok 
TT, Gangtok, April 13: Unlike a parched Kalimpong, torrential rain has dried up the taps here.
Late afternoon thunderstorms in the past two days have triggered a series of landslides in the Rahtheychu stream area, snapping the main supply lines to the Sikkim capital last evening. One person was killed by lighting near Luing Bustee. Toyanath Adhikary, 38, had gone to feed a cow in a shed.
Kalimpong, a hill subdivision in Darjeeling district adjoining Sikkim, has been going without rain since October, drying up water sources like streams and jhoras. Some restaurants in the Bengal hill town have also shut down because of the water scarcity.
Six main water pipelines were damaged because of mudslides at 2nd Mile in the Tamjey area of Rahtheychu, the only source of water for Gangtok and its adjoining areas. The stream is around 18km from the capital.
Water from Rahtheychu is pumped into a pressure brake tank near 2nd Mile and then ferried to the Selep treatment plant through six main supply pipes. From Selep, around 36 million gallons of water is distributed to the residents of Gangtok daily.
“Six major pipelines have been destroyed in the slides between Rahtheychu and the Selep water treatment plant,” said P.S. Basnet, the secretary of the public health engineering department.
Four 6-inch pipes, one 8-inch pipe and one with a 14-inch diameter were crushed by the slides while storage tanks in the affected areas have been buried under debris and slush.
The PHE secretary said temporary restoration was being carried out by the department to ensure that normal supply resumed at the earliest in Gangtok.
The department also said till the temporary repair was complete, water would be rationed. Temporary restoration could take four-five days while permanent repairs could take up to almost two months, said the department.
Water will be released one hour each in the morning and evening daily to Gangtok for the next two days or so. The department has also appealed to the people to boil the water before consumption.
Similar landslides had occurred in the area in July 2008 damaging pipes and affecting water supply to Gangtok for almost a week. The PHE department had then rationed the water supply and reached water to the people through tanks.
This time, the supply will not be affected for such a long period, the department has assured.
With the temperature soaring in the plains and tourists making a beeline for the hills, hotels here are worried about the water scarcity.
Although, most hotels have provisions for storing water, a disruption in supply will not give them a chance to replenish their finished stock.
“Although we have stored water in tanks, it may not be sufficient if the disruption in water supply lasts long,” said a hotel manager here in Gangtok.
The Met Office here has predicted “moderate rainfall” in Gangtok in the next 24 hours.
Whiff of affair in twin deaths
TT, April 13: A 45-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, both from Bogribari in Alipurduar, were today found dead in a room they had taken on rent three days back at Thiknikata near Siliguri.
Police suspect that Ranjan Sarkar had an affair with his neighbour Payel Barui and he strangled her before committing suicide.
“Introducing themselves as father and daughter from Raiganj, Ranjan and Payel took on rent a room in the house of Kartik Saha, who runs an eatery near the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, on April 10,” said Gaurav Sharma, the additional superintendent of police of Siliguri.
“Ranjan had told Saha that Payel was suffering from cancer and they had come here for her treatment,” he added.
This afternoon, Saha found the room locked from inside and knocked on the door repeatedly. As nobody responded, he forced opened the door and found the bodies.
“They used to take lunch at our eatery but did not turn up this afternoon,” said Saha’s wife Archana. “When my husband returned home for lunch this afternoon, he noticed that the door was locked. Initially, he suspected that Ranjan and Payel had left without paying the rent.”
While Payel’s body was lying on the bed, Ranjan’s was hanging from a wooden flank on the ceiling.
“Our preliminary investigation suggests that Ranjan strangled the women and then hanged himself. We have recovered a suicide note and a mobile phone number, through which we contacted their families and confirmed that they were from Alipurduar,” said Sharma.
The bodies were sent for post-mortem and the probe is progressing, said the police officer. According to police sources, Ranjan said in the suicide note that he was eliminating the girl and ending his life.
Ranjan’s neighbours in Alipurduar said he was an electrician.
Jiten Mondal, the former councillor of Ward 15, where the duo’s houses are located, said: “Ranjan and Payel were neighbours and nobody had realised earlier that they had an affair. Ranjan had been married for 15 years, but the couple have no issues. It was only a fortnight back that he had fled with the girl.”
Ganesh Barui, Payel’s father, had filed an FIR with Alipurduar police on March 30 that Ranjan had abducted his daughter.
Doc found hanging, kid possible witness
Malda, April 13: A 30-year-old doctor of a block primary health centre in Malda was found hanging in her quarters last night and police suspect her three-year-old son is witness to the suicide.
Around 9pm, Shibani Soren’s husband returned home and found her hanging from a ceiling fan and their son crying. Police have described the possibility of a mother ending her life in front of her child as “inhuman”.
Shibani, originally from Bankura, was attached to the Hatimari block primary health centre, 5km from Gajole, on a contract basis.
Official sources said Shibani’s husband Shishuram, also a doctor of the health centre, had gone to attend a training in Malda town, 30km away.
Shishuram’s screams for help attracted his colleagues from nearby quarters. The police arrived after an hour, the sources said.
Shibani’s elder brother Naresh Chandra Murmu said the woman was “unhappy” with the health department since her marriage four years ago. “At one point of time, she had served as a doctor at Modipur health centre in Bamongola. But she had quit the job after her prayer for a transfer to a place she wanted was not granted,” Murmu said.
Shibani had a desire to do post-graduation. “This had created a friction in the family. Her husband had recently been transferred to Ranibandh in Bankura. But he had tried his best to stop the transfer order, but failed. This might be one of the reasons behind the suicide,” Murmu who lives in Durgapur said.
Shishuram who had been staying with his wife for the past one-and-a-half-years in the quarters appeared clueless about what spurred her to commit suicide. “I was not at home through out the day. When I returned at night, I saw her hanging and our son crying. I don’t understand why this happened,” said the doctor, 36.
The chief medical officer of health of Malda, Srikanta Roy, however, ruled out any relation between the suicide and his department. “It is purely a personal and family affair. She used to work in the health centre on a contract basis,” Roy said. Bhuban Mondal, the district superintendent of police, said when his officers reached the spot, the door of the room where the body was found hanging was open.
“It appears to be inhuman for a mother who was also doctor to end her life in front of her three-year-old son. But no one has been saying anything. We have registered a case of unnatural death and started an inquiry. The body has been sent for post-mortem and its report is being awaited,” the police chief said.
Bag and trousers tie boys’ suicide 
Tamluk, April 13: If his longing for a pair of trousers drove Haripada Pal to death on Friday, a schoolbag killed his classmate on Monday.
Sourav Nayek, a Class VII student of Heeralal Vidya Niketan, committed suicide yesterday after being caught stealing Rs 100 from home for a schoolbag. On Friday, his classmate Haripada Pal killed himself by drinking a bottle of pesticide.
Sourav used to carry his books in a plastic packet because his parents could not afford a bag. His father, a cook, said a bag, which would cost over Rs 100, was way beyond his means. “I earn Rs 100 per cooking assignment but I don’t get work for more than 15 days a month,” said Gurupada, 38, who has another son, only two years old.
From Amarpur village, Sourav had to walk half a kilometre to the school. “It took him 10 minutes. So, I had tried to explain to him that a schoolbag wasn’t absolutely necessary,” said Gurupada.
Sourav went to school in shorts, but he did not apparently have a problem with that. And Haripada walked almost 2km to school without a proper bag.
On Sunday evening, Saurav took Rs 100 from a bag where his mother, Usha, 35, had kept money for the family’s expenses.
He was preparing for school yesterday when Usha had a suspicion and looked into his pant pocket. The 15-year-old did not have the thief’s brain to hide it better. “I scolded him severely and he told me he had taken the money for a schoolbag,” Usha said, tears streaming down.
When Sourav returned home, his mother was busy with his infant brother. A while later, she rushed into the next room hearing a groaning sound and found Sourav foaming at the mouth. He died on the way to the hospital.
Haripada had told his father he felt uneasy going to school wearing shorts. He was 15. But for a man who earned Rs 1,500 a month when lucky, spending money on trousers for his son was a luxury.
Sitting next to Haripada's lifeless body today, Rabindra, 40, said: “Had he told me he wanted the pants so much, I'd have borrowed money.”
Haripada killed himself, apparently unable to bear the shame in having to enter barelegged a classroom where half the children were girls and most of the boys in trousers.
When he returned home from school in East Mindapore's Patashpur, about 150km from Calcutta, on Friday and drank a bottle of pesticide, his father had gone out looking for work and mother was caught up in her chores.
Calcutta-based psychiatrist Ranadip Ghosh Roy attributed the children’s varying needs and drastic decisions to “a social disorder”.
The suicides also beg the question that when governments are bent on sending children to school, are they taking enough care of those who have already been enrolled?
Morcha scorns EFR job offer
Siliguri, April 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said hardly any youth from the hills would respond to an advertisement inviting applications to fill up the 250 posts of riflemen in the Eastern Frontier Rifles as the state government’s track record vis-à-vis the welfare of the force was poor.
The party also alleged that the move was a ploy to lure the youths away from the Gorkhaland movement.
In an advertisement published in newspapers on April 8, the Bengal government had invited youths from the Gorkha, Mech and the Rava communities to join the EFR.
“The first negative factor is that the force is controlled by the state government. After EFR jawans were killed by Maoists in Shilda, it became clear that the government was least bothered about the personnel serving in the force. The jawans were posted in Maoist-infested areas without proper infrastructure and with decades-old arms and ammunition. There have been no initiatives on the part of the government to improve the conditions under which the EFR personnel work,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
Twenty-four jawans had been killed when Maoists ambushed an EFR camp at Shilda in West Midnapore on February 15. Sixteen of the dead were from the hills.
At present, there are three battalions at the EFR headquarters in Salua, West Midnapore.
“Finding that most of the youths in the hills have joined our movement (for a separate state of Gorkhaland), it seems that the government has released the advertisement in a strategic move to lure them with employment offers as no recruitment drive had been carried out in the past few years for the EFR, unlike other state and central forces,” said Chhetri.
The Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the party, also spoke on similar lines.
“The sudden publication of this advertisement indicates that the state government needs Gorkhas to contain the Naxalites and other extremists,” said Alokekantmani Thulung, the general secretary of the Yuva Morcha.
“We will not restrict the youths from joining the EFR, but will ask them to consider the openings in the central forces as well,” he added.
It is not just the Morcha that has found fault with the recruitment drive.
The Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee — an apolitical forum that is against Gorkhaland — has demanded that the state government stop enrolling Gorkhas in the EFR immediately.
“Under no circumstances should this recruitment be carried out as the Morcha leaders and their supporters have resorted to gross violation of law by raising Gorkhaland Personnel in the hills,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the Bhasha Banchao Committee, here today.
“The state should give up the policy of mollifying people who have been consistently pressing for the partition of the state.”
Adivasis want ST panel at talks table- Parishad delegation to meet CM- Hill party smells plot in employment advertisement 

TT, Siliguri, April 12: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad will ask the Bengal government to involve the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes in the talks on Gorkhaland since the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has demanded the Dooars and the Terai — predominantly tribal areas — in the new state that it wants.
A delegation of the Parishad, a tribal outfit, will soon call on the governor and the chief minister to press the demand.
“In view of the recent tripartite talks between the Morcha, state and the Centre — where the inclusion of the Dooars and Terai into Gorkhaland has been raised repeatedly — we want the governments to seek the opinion of the commission and involve it in the dialogue,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the state general secretary of the Parishad, today.
The next round of tripartite talks on Gorkhaland is scheduled to be held before May 14.
“As the commission has been formed through an amendment of the Constitution and has powers to work on issues associated with the tribals, it is necessary to include it in the process before any decision is taken since tribals are a majority in the Terai and the Dooars,” Toppo said.
The commission was formed under Article 338A of the Constitution to cater for the needs of the Scheduled Tribes in the country as well as to ensure protection of their rights. The article also says the Centre and all state governments need to consult it on all major policy matters affecting the tribal community in any part of the country.
Toppo said the delegation would hand over the governor and the chief minister a map drawn up by the Parishad showing the areas of the Terai and Dooars that it wants to be under the Sixth Schedule for socio-economic development of the tribal population.
“We will request for immediate talks on the subject. Another demand that we will raise is to increase the daily wages of tea garden workers to Rs 250 with immediate effect,” Toppo said.
The Parishad released the map, showing the entire Terai and the Dooars and even portions of Kurseong, Mirik and Chopra blocks on it on Friday, the day a Morcha delegation led by its president Bimal Gurung had a meeting with Union home minister P. Chidambaram. However, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar towns have been kept out of the map.
The Parishad general secretary criticised the Morcha for not informing the commission about the hill party’s move to include the tribal-dominated areas in Gorkhaland.
“When they (the Morcha) want areas comprising the tribal population to be included in the separate state of Gorkhaland as well as in the interim administrative set-up, it would have been ethical for them to inform the commission,” Toppo said. “We could not understand why they have not informed the Commission so far. The same goes with the state and the Centre. So far, we have not found any hint or formal announcement by the government to involve the commission.”
The Parishad state committee will meet in Calcutta on April 24 to discuss the subject, Toppo said. “Meanwhile, we will get our proposal of Sixth Schedule and the map endorsed by the central committee.”
The April 24 meet will also decide the composition of the delegation and the date on which it will meet the government representatives.
Shot Dead
Siliguri: Vijay Mangar, 40, was killed when foresters from Sukna range under Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary fired at suspected timber smugglers on Sunday night. Sumita Ghatak the divisional forest officer of wildlife I, said Mangar, a resident of Sukna, was cutting down trees illegally when he was spotted by the guards.

No comments:

Post a Comment