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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

No division says Bengal.....15 quit posts after chief censures..

Focus on ‘unified’ Bengal 
TT, Calcutta, April 27: The Bengal chief secretary said today that the next round of political-level talks on the proposed interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills would lay stress on a “unified picture” of the state.
“The (tripartite) meeting will mainly lay stress on maintaining a unified picture of West Bengal. The talks will also address issues related to the development of the Darjeeling hills and call for the need to maintain harmony among the people of the Terai and the Dooars,” said chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti.
He was speaking to journalists after attending a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings to discuss matters related to the next round of tripartite talks.
The meeting was also attended by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and home secretary Ardhendu Sen. The two ministers had represented the state government at the first round of the political-level talks which took place in Delhi on March 18.
The next round of tripartite meeting will be held in the middle of the next month in New Delhi.
Morcha leaders give up portfolios 
TT, Darjeeling, April 27: Around 15 leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Rangbull unit have relinquished their posts after they received a dressing down from the outfit’s president Bimal Gurung.
The leaders will, however, remain with the party as ordinary members.
On April 25, while addressing a meeting on the Agriculture Farm premises, 14km from here, Gurung scolded the party workers for “only talking about the revival of the farm”.
“I think I am being brought here just to see the farm. You (leaders) have only been harping on the revival of this farm and seem to be least bothered about the bigger issue of the set-up (the interim arrangement for the hills). Once you lay your hands on the microphone, you don’t want to end your speeches. You are preventing the common people from meeting me. They now want to leave (the venue) because you had called them at 9.30am and now it is 3.30 in the afternoon. They have work to do but you are not concerned,” Gurung had told the gathering.
Later, however, he told the gathering about the set-up. “The interlocutor told me that the state government is willing to discuss the territory issue regarding Siliguri subdivision. I have told him that Siliguri has always been a part of Darjeeling district and I will not compromise on the areas north of the highway (NH31) in the Dooars.”
A Morcha leader of the Rangbull unit, today, said after Gurung’s rebuke, the people had ridiculed the local leadership. “People told us we had no self-respect, clinging on to posts even after receiving a thorough dressing down. It is then that we held a meeting at the Rangbull party office at 2.30pm yesterday, where we decided to relinquish our posts and remain as ordinary members.”
Ravindra Lama, the president of the Morcha’s Rangbull-Dooteriya block committee, has confirmed the resignations. “They said they were merely giving up their portfolios but would remain with the party. We are trying to sort out the matter.”
The Rangbull-Dooteriya block looks after Rangbull, Gorkha Busty, Upper Kalej Valley, Lower Kaley Valley, Balasun and Dooteriya I and II units.
The Agriculture Farm was established in 1859. It has remained defunct since its destroyed during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s. “Around 600-700 people used to be employed with the farm once. When the DGHC took charge, it constructed only one godown but never really revived it,” said Lama.
The Rangbull unit of the Morcha wanted Gurung to intervene to help revive the farm.
Rs 5 crore suit
The Morcha today filed a defamation suit of Rs 5 crore against ABGL chief Madan Tamang for alleging at a media conference that the outfit had misappropriated Rs 1,200 crore from the DGHC.
Taranga Pandit, a lawyer and a central committee member of the party, said: “The case has been filed at the court of the civil judge (senior division) and will come up for hearing on May 5.”
CPRM  blames GJMM
KalimNews:CPRM has expressed its satisfaction that at ast true nature of GJMM is disclosed to all. Referring to a recent murder arrest of two GJMM cadres allegedly involved in murder of Pushparaj Thapa of  Sallabari Chungthung, CPRM General Secretary RB Rai said that GJMM is not at all Gandhibadi, its just an pretext. He furher said that May Day will be celebrated by CPRM and it will start its new phase of agitational motivation for Gorkhaland.
Civic election in Sikkim held
KalimNews:Municipality election in 2 seats of Gangtok (Upper Burtuk and Tadong) and 1 seat of Rongpu Municipality was held peacefully.Of the contesting candidates 3 are from SDF and 4 Independent candidates. In the rest of the 44 seats of Gangtok, Rongpu, Gyalshing, Jorethang, Namchi and Mangan SDF candidates were declared uncontested elected as Opposition candidates boycotted alleging impartial judgement and denial of transperency. Counting is scheduled to be held on 29th April.
SAT link plan for Sikkim 
TT, Gangtok, April 27: The BSNL is working on a two-pronged strategy that includes a satellite system to beef up the communication network in North Sikkim, a strategic area bordering China and a melting pot for tourism.
Currently, North Sikkim, a remote and under-developed district among the four in the Himalayan state, is linked through the overhead optical fibre cable. The two new mediums of communication that the telecom giant is going to add are — another optical fibre cable mounted on power transmission lines and a satellite system, said the BSNL’s Sikkim circle general manager S.K. Mahto.
“The overhead cables are already in place and areas like Chungthang, Lachen and Lachung in North Sikkim are under our network,” Mahto said. Work for laying cables on power transmission lines between Gangtok and Mangan (69km away) is about to be completed.
“We have been working on estimates for extending these lines up to Chungthang (another 29km from Mangan) and work will start after the state power department finishes installing its towers out there,” Mahto told The Telegraph.
The BSNL is also considering setting up a satellite system at Chungthang whose network will cover areas like Lachung and Lachen, both tourism hotspots and gateway to Yumthang Valley and the Gurudongmar lake.
Chungthang, 98km from Gangtok, is the gateway to Lachen and Lachung. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the army manning the Indo-China border in North Sikkim also have their bases in Chungthang.
Mahto said the chief secretary of Sikkim would meet officials of the telecom department in New Delhi next week to discuss the installation of the satellite system at Chungthang. “Once the proposal is approved and bandwidth and equipment provided to us, the satellite system will be installed in six months,” he added.
Recently, tourism stakeholders from Lachung had complained of erratic BSNL services, which they said, were hampering summer tourism.
“Thanks to poor services, we cannot know beforehand how many tourists are coming and make accommodations for them. Sometimes the highway is blocked because of landslides and tourists and the local people can’t even inform the authorities,” said a hotel owner in Lachung .
Lachung has around 90 hotels and home-stay facilities with many more coming up. On an average, 250 vehicles full of tourists visit Lachung every day during the three months peak summer season (middle of March to June).
Frequently services are affected because the cables at Phodong between Gangtok and Mangan get snapped. But they are promptly restored, claimed Mahto.
He added that such disruptions take place because of road widening work on the North Sikkim Highway by the Border Roads Organisation. “So, we are working on putting a second line along the power cables and once the widening work is completed, we will put the earlier lines underground,” he said.
President of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim Paljor Lachungpa stressed the need for a stable medium of communication in North Sikkim for the convenience of tourists and the local people. “It will benefit everybody, the tourists, operators and the local people,” he said. 
Six yr old united with mom 
TT, Imphal, April 27: A six-year-old boy from Sikkim, who was rescued from a headmistress’s house here, has been united with his mother.
Muna Maya Gurung had sent John (not his real name) to Narmada Rana about a year and a half back to give her son a decent education in Manipur. But John was forced to work as a servant in Rana’s house and tortured frequently. He was rescued from Rana’s house by activists of Childline Imphal on March 27.
The mother arrived here after the state social welfare department sent information about the rescue to its Sikkim counterparts. She left for Sikkim with her son today.
Traffic classes for hill riders 
Students note down the number of a motorbike that flouted traffic rules in Darjeeling on Tuesday. (Suman Tamang)
Vivek Chhetri, TT,Darjeeling, April 27: Priya Sonam, an eighth grader at Municipal Girls’ School, and her friends reminded Darjeeling today that the law of the land must be followed at all times.
Not only that, on a day when traffic congestion was the least of the worries for the rest of the state, the hills struggled to rein in errant drivers.
All the more because policing has taken a beating in the hills, following the state government’s policy of minimal confrontation after the revival of the Gorkhaland agitation in October 2007.
Young bikers zipping around congested areas without helmets, overloaded jeeps with people perched on rooftops and drivers speaking on their cellphones have become accepted practices of late.
Today, Priya and her friends like Ambika Thami, showed that such practices would not be accepted.
Dressed in their school uniforms and accompanied by traffic constables, girls in groups of 10-15 waited at nine points across town to stop vehicles found flouting traffic rules. Surprised drivers were hauled up, asked to park their vehicles and made to answer a volley of queries.
“Why aren’t you wearing a helmet? Is driving without helmet cool and safe? Can you explain your act? Are you being responsible towards your near and dear ones?” were some of the questions thrown to the bikers.
As Darjeeling is a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha stronghold, the all-India strike called by the Left today to protest the price rise had no impact on the town.
“We are merely making an appeal to the drivers to follow traffic rules. Apart from stopping bikers without helmets, we are also telling (jeep) drivers that they cannot cramp passengers by squeezing four persons in the front seat. We are not allowing vehicles to carry people on their rooftops and are requesting drivers to park their vehicles if they want to speak on their cellphones,” said Priya.
Thami added: “We are noting down the names and the registration numbers of the vehicles that are flouting traffic norms. We will submit them to the traffic police in the evening.”
The students hauled up 93 traffic violators at the Clubside Stand in Darjeeling within an hour of launching the campaign.
The traffic management and awareness programme is being conducted by Darjeeling police as part of the Traffic Safety Week.
Mitra Rai, the officer in charge of traffic in Darjeeling, said: “We want to bring about an awareness on traffic rules through the students. The feedback they submit will help us improve the traffic management. We can frame our future course of action depending on the feedback.”
The decision of the police to involve the students seems to be reaping immediate dividends. “I always wear my helmets but it is only today I left it at my shop. I will immediately go back to the shop to wear the helmet,” Nimesh Chhetri, a motorcyclist, was heard telling the students.
Baton blows in season of change Cops make way for Congress mayor
TT, Siliguri, April 27: Bandh supporters were baton charged by police in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation today to clear the entrance for the Congress mayor and her staff, indicating the winds of change sweeping across the state.
The incident has left the CPM smarting, and political observers in Siliguri claimed that today’s incident was the only one during the Left Front rule in the state in which the party and its supporters had a taste of police batons. The party has demanded action against the subdivisional officer of Siliguri, Rajat Saini, who had allegedly ordered the lathicharge that injured 19 people.
Since morning, CPM workers, led by party leaders like Shankar Ghosh, Mukul Sengupta and Partha Moitra, assembled in front of the SMC gate near Court More and started shouting slogans. Similar scenes were witnessed at all street corners of the town where government offices, banks, schools and markets remained shut.
The drama began at 11am when mayor Gangotri Dutta and Paritosh Roy, the commissioner of SMC, arrived. About 200 CPM supporters, led by Mukul Sengupta, a CPM councillor and party secretary of the Siliguri zonal committee, blocked the entrance under the banner of the Siliguri Municipal Employees’ and Workers’ Union.
After some time, Dutta, accompanied by commissioner Roy, deputy mayor Nantu Pal, and a host of civic employees tried to enter the premises but were stopped by the bandh supporters.
Around 11.30am, Saini reached the spot and tried to negotiate with both the groups. The situation, however, was far from normal and both sides continued with their verbal attacks.
When the situation reached the boiling point, policemen, armed with batons and shields, chased the CPM supporters, intending to disperse them. When they resisted, they were beaten up and the SMC entrance was cleared.
“Our workers were demonstrating peacefully when the mayor, along with the councillors and some outsiders, forcibly tried to enter the building. When we protested, the SDO ordered the police to disperse our supporters with lathis,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a CPM state committee member.
“Nineteen of our supporters have been injured. As a mark of protest, we will organise protests outside the SMC tomorrow and wear black badges. We have also demanded steps against the SDO and the police officers responsible for the action in the next 24 hours.”
The altercation and exchange of verbal abuse between the CPM and its rivals continued for about an hour or so till the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, K.L. Tamta, reached the SMC. The bandh supporters, who had swelled by then into a crowd of 400–odd people, continued shouting slogans. Tamta held talks with CPM leaders and also met the mayor. He assured the Left party that the additional superintendent of police of Siliguri would hold an inquiry into the lathicharge.
“As far as I have heard, there was no damage to public property or threat to any person and so the situation did not warrant a lathicharge,” Tamta said. “There was only an inspector of police posted here then and it would have been better if a senior officer had been called. Nevertheless, we will look into what prompted the police to resort to lathi-charge. The inspector concerned has told us that the SDO had ordered it.”
With Tamta’s assurance, the CPM workers left the spot at 2.35pm. The mayor said: “The Citu-affiliated employees of the SMC, along with outsiders, had closed the main gate. Later, however, we managed to enter with the intervention of the SDO and the police.”
Saini, against whom the CPM has demanded action, said: “When two rival groups confronted each other in front of the SMC building, the police just pulled the two sides apart. This led to a minor scuffle.”
Phalanx of bandh defiance in brew belt 
Workers at the Raipur Tea Estate near Jalpaiguri on Tuesday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Siliguri, April 27: The all- India strike called by the Left parties failed to evoke any response in most of the tea gardens in the plains as workers joined their duties and aborted attempts by Citu, the CPM labour wing, to hamper the operations.
Sources said save for a few gardens like Jabra and Sukna, work continued in full swing in the majority of the Terai plantations.
“When 14 tea estates had closed down in the Dooars and thousands of workers were starving, the CPM and other Left parties did not call a strike or take up our plight with the central or state governments,” said Sania Bhumij, a worker of the Raipur Tea Estate on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri.
“The leaders sat idle and left us to die. Now that our garden has reopened and the yield has increased because of rain in the past week, we cannot abstain from work and support the strike called with political motives. All of us joined duty today as remaining absent from work would affect production and ultimately, our wage payment.”
“Supporting the strike would lead to the loss of a day’s wage and will not change our socio-economic conditions overnight,” he added.
About 250-odd workers thwarted the bandh supporters’ bid to shut down Atal Tea Estate in the Terai for the day.
When the labourers came to pluck tealeaves, they found the manager locked in his office by the bandh supporters. “We asked the Citu members to move back but they did not relent and stopped us from stacking the tealeaves at the stipulated place,” said a worker, Bitan Munda. “We asked the manager to call the police.”
When the police reached the garden, more workers opposing the strike assembled near the factory, prompting the bandh supporters to move back. Since then, activities have been normal in the garden.
Bandh enforcers had to beat a hasty retreat in the Satbhaiya garden as well.
Workers were not allowed to weigh the plucked tealeaves, but when they put up a united front, the bandh supporters left the scene.
Gardens like Sachindrachandra, Satishchandra, Ord, Panighata, Azmabad and Pahargoomia in the Terai also functioned smoothly.
In Bidhannagar–Phansidewa-Chopra belt, most of the workers joined duty and the production was normal.
In the Dooars, the formation of the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (PTWU) by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad recently has turned the tide against the Left in the gardens.
“More than half the estates were completely open, while the strike had a partial impact on 30-35 per cent of the tea sector,” said an official of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association. “It is nice to see that most of the employees kept in mind the loss the industry would incur if they abstained from their duties during the first flush season.”
The best quality of tea is manufactured during the first flush and the produce fetches the highest price.
“Workers receive a meagre Rs 62 a day and cannot afford to lose even a single day’s wage,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the vice-chairman of the PTWU.
“Moreover, because of lower yield, thousands of casual labourers were sitting idle since the beginning of the current season and they began working only last week after the rainfall. Today’s strike could be justified in no way,” he added.
Bharat Bundh mostly in WB and Kerala
PTI, Kolkata: A 12-hour nation-wide bandh called by 13 non-NDA and non-UPA parties today to protest against price rise hit normal life and affected air and rail services especially in Left-ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala.  
The 'Bharat Bandh' which began at 6am also had some impact in Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Sporadic protests marked the hartal elsewhere in the country including the capital.
Streets in West Bengal and Kerala where educational institutions were also closed wore a deserted look.
Besides the four Left parties, the 13-party grouping which gave the call for the bandh consists of AIADMK, BJD, SP, RJD, TDP, RLD, LJP, JD-S and INLD. The grouping is pressing for a roll-back in the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and fertiliser.
Rail services were disrupted in many parts of Uttar Pradesh and three buses torched in Lucknow. Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's son and MP Akhilesh Yadav was detained in Lucknow while leading protestors.
"A total bandh has been implemented in Bihar. All services are disrupted," claimed RJD chief Lalu Yadav.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat claimed the bandh is 'very successful' in large parts of the country while Mulayam warned of anarchy by people if price rise is not checked.
Two train passengers were injured as a clash broke out between travellers in Ganga Sagar Express and bandh supporters at Pandua station in Hooghly district.
In West Bengal road and rail services and flight operations were badly affected and shutters in commercial areas were down. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at railway stations and airports for want of transport.
Airport sources in Kolkata said only ten out of 25 domestic and international flights took off this morning. They included flights of Air-India, Jet Airways and Jetlite.
An Eastern Railway spokesperson told PTI that due obstructions put up by bandh supporters at several stations, train services were disrupted at Howrah and Sealdah division. Long-distance trains were stranded at various stations as bandh supporters sat on the railway tracks.
Reports from Kerala said the protesters picketed trains in different stations.
Both private and state run bus services, taxis, autorickshaws and commercial vehicles are also keeping off the roads. However, no violence was reported, police said.
Vehicular movement was affected across BJD-ruled Orissa as bandh supporters blocked national highways, state highways and other roads, putting a halt to plying of passenger buses, trucks, taxis and auto-rickshaws, police sources said.
Rail services were also affected as trains were stopped at different stations for a brief period, they said.
Normal life in several parts of Jharkhand was affected due to the bandh and the 48-hour shutdown by the CPI(Maoist).
The bandh supporters squatted on railway tracks in Jamshedpur, Jamtara, Giridih and Koderma as the railway authorities cancelled half-a-dozen passenger trains in Jamshedpur.

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