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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two held on murder charge.. Probe cry after nexus allegation - Plains outfit calls for statewide strike on May 14

TT, Darjeeling, April 26: Two persons have been arrested for the murder of a GNLF sympathiser last week, the killing that had prompted about 250 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters in a tea garden to announce their resignations from the party and remove the outfit’s flags from their rooftops.
Kunal Aggrawal, the additional superintendent of police of Darjeeling, today said: “Binod Rai, 42, and Dev Prakash, 43, were caught in Liza hill last evening.”
The chief judicial magistrate’s court here has remanded them in jail custody for 14 days.
Pushpa Jung Thapa, 55, had been murdered on April 22 at Sallabari while he was on his way home at the 86 Division Lamadhura of the Chungtung tea garden. Liza hill, about 30km from here, is near the garden.
Pushpa had been arrested in 2008 for the his alleged involvement in the death of Morcha activist Pramila Sharma that unleashed a series of attacks on GNLF leaders.
Hijjan Thapa, Pushpa’s brother and the president of the Morcha’s trade union in Chungtung, said: “The entire Morcha leadership from 86 Division has resigned and we have decided not to join any political party until justice is delivered. This is a crime against humanity.” 
Probe cry after nexus allegation- Plains outfit calls for statewide strike on May 14
TT, Siliguri, April 26: ABGL chief Madan Tamang today demanded the immediate suspension of Darjeeling district magistrate Surendra Gupta and a CBI inquiry into properties owned by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders.
A Siliguri-based anti-Gorkhaland forum, the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, announced a statewide bandh on May 14 over the alleged misappropriation of DGHC funds.
“The district magistrate is also the secretary of the DGHC and the drawing and disbursing authority. When B.L Meena, the administrator himself, is alleging misappropriation of 60-70 per cent of funds, how can the DM issue cheques and make payments?” Tamang told a media conference at the Siliguri Journalists’ Club here. “We demand his immediate suspension. The administrator, who has failed to run the DGHC in a proper manner, should be removed also.”
The ABGL leader trained his guns on the state government as well as the Trinamul Congress. “The charges of misappropriation of crores of public money have exposed the tacit understanding between the state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha… The silence of the Trinamul leadership is conspicuous as well. We apprehend that if Trinamul comes to power, it will adopt the same (hands-off) policy like the CPM-led government as far as the hills are concerned.”
Tamang also demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged defalcation of DGHC funds. “Many Morcha leaders, who were middle-class people, now own luxury cars and properties in different parts of India. We want a thorough CBI probe to find out their sources of income and how they managed to amass so much wealth,” he said.
Tamang’s demands come three days after DGHC administrator Meena said a nexus between the Morcha leadership and the contractors was hampering development work in the hills. He said only 30-35 per cent of the funds disbursed for projects was being utilised for their execution “while everybody is aware what is happening to the remaining portion”.
Although the Bhasha Banchao Committee has not demanded any probe into Meena’s charges, it has called a bandh to protest the suspected embezzlement.
The bandh has been called on May 14, around the same time when the next round of talks between the Centre, the state and the Morcha will be held.
“We are not in favour of any autonomy and protest the manner in which the Morcha leaders are making money out of the DGHC funds. There is no other alternative left for us other than to call a strike as the state and the Centre are sitting idle and have taken the path to mollify the Morcha,” Bhasha Committee president Mukunda Majumdar said.
Saman Pathak, the CPM member in the Rajya Sabha from Darjeeling, also demanded an immediate inquiry by the state government. “The charges of the DGHC administrator indicate gross embezzlement of government funds by Morcha leaders,” Pathak said. “We want the state government to conduct an immediate inquiry.”
Back to roots after 53 yrs with ‘chug chug’ memories
Mrinalini Sharma, TT, Kurseong, April 26: When she returned to Kurseong after 53 years, Pamela Philip had some invaluable gifts for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).
The daughter of Denis Holguette, a DHR traffic superintendent of Kurseong in the 1940’s, Pamela donated to the DHR museum in Ghoom antiquities like maps of the toy train tracks and booklets on rules, regulations and wage details of employees during her father’s service period.
“I had preserved these items with the intention of giving them back to the DHR on the first chance I got to visit this place. That moment came after 53 years,” she told The Telegraph at Cochrane Place in Kurseong yesterday.
A pursuit to “trace roots” and to track Elise Villa, the house where she had lived here, brought the painter from Dorset on the south coast of Britain back to the Darjeeling hills on March 19.
“My mother Stella Holguette was very attached to this place and talked about it frequently. After her death in January, I felt the need to visit Kurseong to trace my roots,” she said.
As a little girl, Pamela always sat on her father’s lap while riding the “chuk chuk gadi” (chugging locomotive) up and down the serpentine track of the DHR.
“Chuk chuk gadi was the nickname my father had given the toy train for the chugging sound it makes. I still remember that my place was reserved on his lap whenever we rode the toy train. It’s an amazing experience coming back here and witnessing it move up the tracks like it used to more than 50 years back,” she said.
“My father served the British army during the World War II. He was stationed in Calcutta where he met my mother in 1940 and they got married the same year. My brother Peter was born in Calcutta but my parents soon moved to this nondescript little town of Kurseong because the Japanese were moving westwards and India faced the risk of being attacked. Although my mother and brother remained here, my father had to go to Burma to fight the war. He joined the DHR as the traffic superintendent after the war ended in 1945,” she recollected.
Pamela herself was born in Darjeeling’s Eden Hospital in 1944 and baptised at the chapel of Victoria School in Kurseong.
As a toddler, she attended the nursery section of Dowhill School before the family moved back to Calcutta in 1949.
But her brother stayed back in Kurseong, providing her with opportunities to visit the hill town once in a while. The last time Pamela visited Kurseong was in 1957 — the same year the whole family moved back to Britain.
“My brother kept studying in Victoria but I joined Loreto House in Calcutta. I used to accompany my mother whenever she came to attend sports meet and other functions at my brother’s school. During those times, we stayed at Aunt Florence’s — a local acquaintance— house on Dowhill Road,” she said.
Some photographs taken at Elise Villa and various other locations in Kurseong and accounts given by her mother were Pamela’s sole guide in the town.
“Since my own memory doesn’t support me that much I had to rely on some photographs and description given by my mother,” she said.
Fortunately, for Pamela some DHR employees helped her trace Elise Villa.
“The DHR employees were very helpful. The villa is still there and it is looked after by a caretaker. It brought back some memories of old times when I scampered around the garden after our pet Dalmatian. I even trekked to Dowhill and Victoria schools,” she said.
Pamela goes back with just one regret — she was unable to trace the family of her “kanchi ama” (youngest mother), the nanny who took care of her during her stay in Kurseong.
“Kanchi ama was a very kind woman. My journey would have been complete if I had met her family. But it gives me another reason to come back,” she said.

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