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Monday, May 31, 2010

Adivasis trash Morcha’s proposal on statehood...Indo China border is okay.... GJM losing support: Bengal govt

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay, IE, Kolkata:The proposal for a Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh comprising Darjeeling, Siliguri, Dooars and Terai region that was announced by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung at a Darjeeling rally on Sunday, ran into rough weather today with the Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP), an organisation of the adivasis of Dooars and Terai, rejecting the offer. The Morcha is trying to fool its own people by mooting the proposal, said the AVP.
“We form 80 per cent of the population of Dooars and Terai and the Gorkhas form 7 to 8 per cent. Why should we come under them in a new state? It will be a poitical harakiri for us.
They claim that we have agreed for a new state with Gorkhas and adivasis. They are trying to get our support, but their problems and conditions are totally different compared to ours,” said Birsa Tirkey, West Bengal state president, AVP. 
West Bengal minister for Urban Development
Ashok Bhattacharya, who visited the house of slain Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang last week, said today that it is time the state government acted tough in the hills to establish peace, democracy and the rule of law.
“The police will punish all perpetrators of the heinous killing. The police are also determined to provide protection to those who speak against the Morcha,” said Bhattacharya, who today met the chief minister in the morning to discuss the situation in the hills.
Bhattacharya added: “At present, a tripartite meeting is meaningless because people in the hills have lost faith in the leadership of the Morcha.” 
He also questioned the role of General (retd) Vijay Madan as interlocutor in the Darjeeling talks, saying his role was “highly suspicous”.
“Without talking to anybody, he declared the next tripartite meeting will be held on June 7. Who gave him the authority? We are sceptical about his role,” Bhattacharya said.
Tribals refuse to bite ‘Adivasi’ bait- Morcha plea to join movement shunned
TT, Siliguri, May 31: Bimal Gurung’s attempt to woo the tribals in the Terai and Dooars by rechristening Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh has been nipped in the bud by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.
The dominant tribal organisation in the Dooars has ruled out any understanding with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to join its statehood movement.
Morcha president Gurung while addressing a rally in Darjeeling yesterday had appealed to the Parishad to sit for a meeting soon, “since we have changed the name for them”. Gurung had also announced that he would hold three public meetings in the Dooars jointly with the Parishad.
“We are not ready to render even the slightest importance to what Bimal Gurung said yesterday. And, under no circumstances, will the tribals in the Terai and Dooars join the Morcha or express solidarity (with it) for its so-called demand for Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh,” said Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad, over the phone from Calcutta today.
The Parishad has already released a map comprising the tribal belts of the Dooars and the Terai demanding Sixth Schedule status, which it believes, will help develop the backward tribal region.
“We will continue to strive for our cause and have already met officials and ministers at the state and Centre-levels. There is no question of changing our stand. The Nepali-speaking people comprise eight to 10 per cent of the total population in these areas. The tribals make up around 80 per cent. It is sheer irrationality on the part of the Morcha leadership to think that the majority population will allow themselves to be governed from the hills by the minority,” Tirkey said.
Asked if the Parishad would attend any meeting if invited by the Morcha, Tezkumar Toppo, state secretary of the tribal outfit, said: “We will not attend any such meeting called by the Morcha. Who are they to call us for talks, that too, on an issue which we are opposing? However, if the state or the Centre invites us to discuss our demands, we will definitely attend it as whatever we have demanded (Sixth Schedule) is under the purview of the Indian Constitution.”
Asked if Gurung’s announcement would influence the tribal population, Toppo said: “The Morcha had managed to convince a section of our people to join them by offering them jobs as Gorkhaland Personnel cadres. But given the present state of affairs and the Parishad’s activities, many have left (the GLP).
“There is hardly any chance for the Morcha to succeed this time. We feel it is a conspiracy to derail our movement and again create tension in the brew belts as we will not part with any portion of the Terai and the Dooars for the separate state.”
Another anti-Morcha forum, the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, held a public meeting at Hashmi Chowk and burned the effigy of Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh.
“We want him to resign. Despite being voted by the people of Darjeeling district, most of whom are against division of the state, he is openly supporting the Morcha,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the committee’s president. “We also request the tribal people to be on alert and not to step into the Morcha trap.”
Feeler’ to wind up GLP camps
TT, Darjeeling, May 31: Darjeeling police have put out “feelers” to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to wind up the camps of the Gorkhaland Personnel and refrain from deploying them in security fatigues.
The party, however, has decided to ignore the message.
“We have sent feelers to the Morcha to wind up its camps. There could be problems with the deployment of the CRPF personnel in Darjeeling,” a senior police officer of the district said today. The officer, however, added that there was no order from the government to ban the GLP.
The Morcha has recruited around 4,000-odd boys and girls from the hills and the Dooars for the GLP and pays them a monthly remuneration that ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000.
Apart from providing security to Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, the stick-wielding personnel are also seen patrolling the streets in uniform. There are at least five camps in the hills.
The officer who did not want to be identified said the initiative was taken up “on our own” keeping in mind the volatile situation in the hills, particularly after the killing of ABGL leader Madan Tamang. “Also, other political parties from both the hills and the plains have approached us that the GLP should be banned,” he said.
Colonel (retd) R. Allay, the chief of the GLP, admitted to have received the “feelers”. “In Kalimpong, a few police officers came to the camp in Goaskhan on Friday and told the boys to wind up the camp. We inquired with senior administrative officials but they said there was no written order from Calcutta banning the GLP,” Allay said.
The GLP chief ruled out disbanding the squad and listed the “social work” its members were doing. “We see no reason why it should be banned,” said Allay. In yesterday’s rally, the GLP was used to control the crowd and traffic.
Allay evaded a direct reply when asked if the squad would still be deployed in security fatigues. “The government is well aware that no arms training have been given to the GLP. Every party can have its youth cell and this is precisely such a cell of the party,” he said.
K.L. Tamta, the inspector-general of police of north Bengal, today said the CID team probing Tamang’s murder had left for Calcutta on Saturday. “They have forwarded to the police a list of 24 names of those allegedly involved in the killing. Raids will be conducted to catch the culprits,” Tamta said.
Strike to slam police bias 
TT, Siliguri, May 31: The GNLF observed a strike at Panighata today to protest the arrest of 18 of its supporters in Darjeeling last week and accused the state government of adopting double standards while maintaining law and order in the hills.
“Police arrested our supporters in Darjeeling on Saturday for allegedly carrying khukuris while going to a meeting to condole the death of ABGL leader Madan Tamang,” said Rajen Mukhia, the Terai branch convener of the GNLF. “If the police can arrest a few of our supporters for carrying the traditional weapon of the Gorkhas, why can’t they take into custody the people who were involved in the murder of the ABGL leader?”
Tamang was hacked to death allegedly by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters wielding khukuris in broad daylight in Darjeeling on May 21.
“There is no rationale behind letting the Gorkhaland Personnel roam free despite the fact that they carry khukuris. The GNLF feels the state government is acting in a biased manner and demands that our supporters be released immediately. We also want a ban on the GLP,” said Mukhia.
Panighata in Mirik block of Kurseong subdivision wore a deserted look because of the 12-hour strike with shops and offices remaining closed and vehicles keeping off roads. Panighata is located about 40km from here.
The GNLF also attacked the Morcha for renaming Gorkhaland as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. “He has come up with a new name simply to exist as a leader. We will be least surprised if he raises the demand for a separate country in near future,” said Mukhia.
K.L. Tamta, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, denied the GNLF charges.
“After the murder of Madan Tamang, it was decided that nobody would be allowed to attend any meeting or processions with khukuri or any other weapon. The GNLF supporters were arrested for carrying the khukuris. Anybody else flouting the law will face similar consequences,” said Tamta.
Asok salvo
Bengal municipal affairs and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said in Calcutta today that the Morcha was losing its support base in the hills and people were disillusioned with the party since the assassination of Madan Tamang, reports our correspondent.
According to Bhattacharya, people participated in yesterday’s Morcha rally because of “fear of muscle and money power”.
“The people in the hills want democracy above all now. They want immediate restoration of law and order. They want peace. They now want to resist the autocratic rule by the Morcha,” the minister said.
Gorkhaland renamed to woo tribals
TNN, DARJEELING: After stiff opposition from the Adivasis over the inclusion of Dooars in the interim set-up, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has now decided to change the name of the proposed state from Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh (GAP), to gain the former's cooperation in the separate statehood struggle.
Announcing the change of nomenclature at a meeting on the St Joseph's School ground in Singamari on Sunday, GJM president Bimal Gurung appealed to Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) to sit for talks.
"Both the Adivasis and the Gorkhas have been suppressed by Bengal. Now that the nomenclature has changed, we request the ABAVP to sit for talks to help both of us gain liberation from the imperial rule of the CPM-led government," he said. "People of the Dooars and Terai should not feel isolated as the time has come to start a joint venture. We will hold meetings in Dooars very soon to gain the people's confidence," he added.
Widespread violence had erupted after the GJM tried to enter the Dooars and hold its public meeting there. The Adivasis are opposed to Gorkhaland and are demanding a Sixth Schedule status for Dooars instead.
A sea of GJM supporters from Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik, Siliguri, Dooars, Jalpaiguri and even from Kolkata, Dehradun and Delhi thronged the meeting venue. While many of them had started their journey to Darjeeling on Saturday evening, many were seen pouring in even after the meeting ended around 4 pm on Saturday.
"Today's show of support dispenses my fear that people had isolated me. I never believed in violence and worked diligently for 32 months for the people's benefit. This meeting is for peace in the Darjeeling hills and the plains," asserted the GJM chief.
Armed Gorkhaland Personnel (GLPs) were seen manning the streets in camouflage fatigues right from the centre of the town to the venue in Singamari. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police restricted themselves to checking vehicles near Ghoom and the railway station, but were nowhere to be seen at the venue.
After AIGL leader Madan Tamang's murder on May 21, people had voiced their resentment against Gurung and GJM and had come out in thousands for the funeral procession. They had torn up GJM flags and even a poster bearing Gurung's picture near the Planter's Club in Darjeeling.
"I reiterate that neither I nor my party is involved in Tamang's murder. It is a conspiracy by the state government and some political parties to derail our peaceful statehood movement," Gurung alleged.
The GJM leader said he had already written to the Centre, seeking a CBI inquiry into the AIGL leader's murder. At the same time, he asserted that if any of his leaders or supporters were implicated, they should get punished.
Dwelling on the interim arrangement, which is yet to see the light of day, the GJM chief roared: "The state and Centre want to give us an interim set-up with only 22-23 moujas. But I will not accept anything without the Dooars and Terai. Henceforth all talks will be on Gorkhaland."
The GJM has demanded the inclusion of all those areas in the Dooars and the Terai that have a Nepali-dominated population, from the northern side of NH-31.
Secretarial-level talks were held in April but they failed to yield any result as the GJM leadership stuck to its all inclusive demand. The next round of dialogues, on a political level, is expected to be held by June 10.
The GJM has also suspended its proposed 10-day strike (from June 12-21) in the Hills. The bandh in government offices has also been withdrawn for the talks. "We have decided to suspend our proposed strike in June and the closure of government offices as we have information that the government will announce the date of the tripartite meeting sometime early June," said Gurung.
Prabin Khaling, Gangtok: The  Bhartiya  Janata  Party has asserted that the country’s borders with China are absolutely safe and there are no reasons to worry .  A three member high level fact finding team of the Party led by  former Utterakhand Chief Minister Mr Bhagat Singh Koshyari, BJP National Spokesman Mr Rajiv Pratap Singh Rudi and Party’s National Secretary Mr Tafir Gau ,during their day long visit to Changri at an altitude of about 18,000feet at  the Indo-China border in North district today ,found that the  recent media –reports about the Chinese threat in the region had been unfounded. 
Talking to our Gangtok correspondent over phone  a short while ago, the State BJP President Mr Padma Bahadur Chhettri ,who accompanied his Party’s national leaders during the tour,  described the media reports as an indirect attempt by some vested interests to create an undue  fear –psychosis  about  our northern neighbour in the minds of the people. He told that, however, these leaders strongly felt the need to  further strengthen the infrastructure on this side of the border. 
The team will return back tomorrow after a two day long tour to the State. 
Sikkim Smoke free state
Prabin Khaling, Gangtok:In a landmark  development  towards converting  it  into the healthiest State in the next five years , Sikkim  was declared as A Smoke Free State on the World No Tobacco Day today. With this, the State has become the first ever State of its kind  in the entire country.
Making a formal  declaration  to this effect at a function to mark the No Tobacco Day at the Forests Conference Hall at Deorali in Gangtok , the Health Minister Mr DN Thakerpa described it as a  great achievement of the SDF Government which will  also have a  great impact on the health and economy of the state.  He revealed that  four- fifth of deaths in Sikkim is due to Non Communicable Diseases and Tobacco is the most important preventable cause of death. Mr Thakerpa informed that even among communicable diseases Tuberculosis is  one of the major killer diseases which has strong association with smoking as the Smokers suffer three times more from TB   and  their death rate  too is  three to four times higher.
The function was organized jointly  by the Health Department and the Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim. 
Asserting that Sikkim has made great progress in implementation of Smoke free Laws which has been well appreciated by International Organisations and people across  the border, the Health Minister made it clear that Declaration is based on objective assessment of Smoke Free status as per the norms laid in the National Level Review of Smoke Free Status held at Goa  last year. The Director General Health Services Dr. K. Bhandari, Member Secretary of the State Anti- Tobacco Cell  Dr.PM Pradhan, IGP , Fire Services Mr Akshaya Sachdeva, SP East Dr.MS Tuli and Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim’s Executive Director Dr.BB Rai also spoke on various aspects of Tobacco and Smoking prevention at the function. 
GJMM losing support-Bengal Govt
Kolkata, May 31 (PTI) The West Bengal government today claimed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is losing its support base in the Darjeeling hills and people are disenchanted with the party spearheading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state.
West Bengal's Municipal Minister Ashok Bhattacharya said people's participation in yesterday's show of strength by GJM in Darjeeling was "not spontaneous" as during the march taken out after the killing of All India Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang.
"The people in the hills want immediate restoration of the law and order, peace and democracy in the hills to instill confidence among people to resist autocratic rule by the GJM," he said.
"The GJM does not enjoy spontaneous public support any more. They gather people through threat, force and money power." he claimed.
Bhattacharya said he informed Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the impressions he had gathered from a recent visit to Darjeeling.

Minister rejects Gurung's new formula for Hills
SNS, KOLKATA/SILIGURI, 31 May: The Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) coerced people to participate in yesterday's rally and dismissed Mr Bimal Gurung's proposed Gorkha Adivasi Parishad as an attempt to hoodwink them, said the state urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya.
 Mr Bhattacharya met the chief minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, and informed him about the situation at the Hills after meeting a host of leaders in the Hills including the widow of the slain Gorkha League leader, Madan Tamang. The minister had visited Darjeeling last week to pay his respects to Tamang. 
 The urban development minister told the chief minister that  people in the Hills wanted establishment of the rule of law  against atrocities meted out to them by Gorkhaland police. They also wanted more central paramilitary forces in the area.
 The chief minister in turn asked him to ensure that CPI-M activists and leaders in the Hill worked together with other parties to restore democracy in the area.
 Mr Bhattachaya also told the chief minister that people in the Hills did not want any tripartite meetings at this point.
 “Many people have told me that GJMM has lost its support among the Gorkhas. They had attended the candle march to pay their respects to Madan Tamang willingly, whereas yesterday they had been forced to attend the GJMM meeting,” Mr  Bhattacharya said.
All in a name
The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha's decision to try and shore up further support for its separate statehood claim embroiling the Adivasis indicates the organisation is trying to cosset its stumbling block the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Or why else, the GJMM, which so long stood firm change tack to import a partner to its demand?
The ABAVP is understood to have turned down the idea floated by GJMM chief Mr Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling yesterday. The question Mr Gurung and his political friends face now is, what next? Would they continue with the Adivasi angle included in their demand or alter course again? 
Students trek Singalila, spot 58 species- 50 children from 5 darjeeling schools attend three-day workshop on bird watching

TT, Siliguri, May 31: Over 50 students from Classes VII to IX of five schools of Darjeeling have spent three days in the sylvan surroundings of the Singalila National Park learning the tricks of bird-watching and conserving their habitat.
Students of St Robert’s School, Gyanoday Niketan, Sunrise School, BSMI School and Saradeswari Girls’ School participated in a workshop-cum-training programme organised by WWF-India 10 days ago.
All the five institutions have Nature Clubs supported by the WWF-India that had brought together experienced bird watchers to conduct the workshop.
“In the practical sessions, the participants (51 students to be precise) were taken on a two-day trip to Gairibas in Singalila (located above 5,000ft) and were given booklets on birds,” said Sanjeeb Pradhan, a senior project officer of the WWF-India posted in Darjeeling. “We have been organising these workshops to make children aware of the importance of conservation of birds as well as protection of their habitats.”
Darjeeling is house to over 500 species of birds including the elusive ones like the munal or Satyr tragopan.
“The basic focus was to teach the students the techniques of bird watching and correct bird identification,” Pradhan said “During their stay, the students were assisted to develop their bird-watching skills and hands-on experience (like how to handle binoculars). The participants could record 58 species during the workshop and even spotted the Satyr tragopan, a threatened bird that lives in the high altitudes of Singalila.”
The students also trekked to Tonglu to explore the plant and trees of the area, considered important for conservation of birds.
According to Pradhan, about 1,320 species of birds are found in India which is 13 per cent of the world’s winged population.
During the programme, foresters told the students that diverse geographical conditions ranging from the hot foothills to the snow- capped peaks lead to formation of different altitude zones with variation in rainfall, humidity, climate and vegetation. “These factors are responsible for the great variety of birds, thus making the Darjeeling hills one of the richest areas for bird sighting,” a senior forester said.
In the Sikkim Himalayas range of which Darjeeling is a part, about 550 species of birds can be sighted. “Along with the birds, we plan to make the school children aware of conservation of rhododendrons, butterflies, medicinal plants and other forms of biodiversity which is rich in the Darjeeling hills and is in need of conservation,” Pradhan said.
The forester suggested that similar training-cum-workshops could be organised for the guides who accompany tourists to Singalila. “We are working on the proposal as this will help the guides serve better and they will be in a better position to keep tabs on the avian population and contribute to the conservation,” said Pradhan.
Glare on tea trader for ‘child labour’ logo
Bijoy Gurung, TT, Gangtok, May 31: A tea distributor has been accused of using a logo, registered as early as 1996, that goes against the image of today’s Sikkim which claims to be free of child labour.
The distributor, Denzong Tea, has been selling CTC tealeaves in 50gm and 100gm packets that depict a picture of a girl dressed in shining yellow traditional attire plucking green leaves in a picturesque tea garden. The packets with the picture have been on the Sikkim market since 1996.
A decade later, the Sikkim government is determined not to let the picture sully its image as a state that does not tolerate child labour.
“We were not aware of such a picture in the tea packets. The idea of pasting the image of a small girl plucking tea leaves in the packets is definitely harming the image of Sikkim. We have decided to immediately process the matter and put it up before senior officials to take action,” said Bisan Rai, the joint labour commissioner of Sikkim.
“The logo in the packets can also send a wrong message that there is child labour in the Temi tea garden, the sole organic garden in Sikkim owned by the state. The department has been taking strong steps for zero child labour in Sikkim which have yielded very good results,” said the joint labour commissioner. He added that tea packets such as Denzong’s could reach markets outside the state through tourists, tarnishing Sikkim’s image.
Although child labour is absent in the organised sector, many families in the state keep domestic helps who are children. But often the employers cannot be booked as they introduce the children as somebody they have given shelter and taken the responsibility to feed and educate.
M.B. Limboo, vice-convener of the labour wing of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), said the marketing concept behind the logo of the Denzong Tea was wrong.
“The logo sends a wrong message of the existence of child labour in Sikkim despite the efforts of the state government to free the state from child labour,” said Limboo. He added that the company should withdraw such packets from the market.
Curiously, there is no government agency to regulate logos of private companies in Sikkim.
In fact, Denzong Tea proprietor Raj Kumar Prasad had registered the logo in New Delhi in 1996. Prasad said the picture in the packet is a model only and he had no intention to use it against the interests of Sikkim.
“I had used the picture of my niece dressed in traditional attire to highlight the beauty of Sikkim and got the logo registered in New Delhi in 1996. We don’t intend to tarnish the image of Sikkim,” said the proprietor. Denzong Tea gets its CTC leaves from Siliguri and the packaging is done in Singtam, 30km from Gangtok.
Prasad said his tea products were sold in the markets of Sikkim. “Till today no complaint has come and if it does, I will definitely change the logo and use alternative pictures,” he said.
However, Prasad added that time was needed to change the logo, as he would have to get a new registered trademark for his products. “We also have to change the print rolls which I get from Kanpur to package the tea products for the new picture,” he said. Prasad said that once he got official intimation to change the logo, he would do it by March next year, whatever the financial implications.
Denzong sells CTC tea in three categories of 50gm, 100gm and 250gm, retailers here said. Only the first two categories contain the logo of the girl child plucking tea leaves. The retailers here said the products were sold only in Sikkim.
Peace breach cloud on tea strike
TT, Siliguri/Jaigaon, May 31: Stakeholders of the tea industry are apprehending law and order problems with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad-affiliated Progressive Tea Workers’ Union announcing that it will not participate in the tea strike on June 7.
“We will not join the strike and the movement announced by the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers and the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Rights on June 7,” said Shukra Munda, the chairperson of Progressive Union.
Munda said he had informed the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, A.K. Singh, about the decision of Progressive Union members to stay away from the strike.
The Coordination Committee and the Defence Committee — two apex bodies of trade unions that have Citu, Intuc and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha as members — in a joint convention on May 25 announced that the workers would demonstrate at the main gates of all tea estates in the region from June 1 to 6, followed by a strike on June 7. The decision comes after the gardens refused an interim hike in wages, which at present is Rs 62 per day. The demand for the hike was made citing the rise in prices of essential commodities.
The Parishad that has been spearheading movements on tribal issues in the Terai and Dooars, had on its own demanded that the wage be increased to Rs 250 per day.
Many fear that this division among the tea trade unions regarding the interim hike, particularly at a time when the Progressive Union has become a cause of concern for established labour bodies like Citu and Intuc, may lead to breaking down of law and order in the tea belts.
“As they are losing base in tea belts, the established trade unions will be desperate to prove their support and discourage workers from joining duty. The Parishad supporters may protest because now they have a significant support base and can afford to defy the strike call,” an observer said.
Progressive Union leaders said their supporters would report for regular duties. “Our members will join their regular work on the day of the strike. If they face any opposition from rival trade unions, it is the administration’s respinsibility to ensure their security or else, there can be worst situations,” a Progressive Union leader said.
Samir Roy, convener of the Defence Committee, said all trade unions were free to decide whether they would join the strike or not. “We had invited them to join our convention, but they did not. Now if they take such a decision, we cannot insist on their participation in the strike.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Interim-setup is dropped-GJMM..Statehood cry with gesture to Adivasis

KalimNews: The only demand of GJMM will now be Gorkhaland and the matter of Interim-setup is dropped , Bimal Gurung amidst a crowd of GJMM supporters in North Point Ground at Darjeeling announced. (Photo-Darjeeling Times)

Bimal Gurung addressing at North Point ground today

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to discuss nothing less than the demand for a separate state with the Bengal government and the Centre, putting an end to talks on an “interim set-up”.
Morcha leader Bimal Gurung said today at a large gathering at the St Joseph’s School (North Point) grounds: “The interim set-up is now a closed chapter.” The Morcha has rechristened Gorkhaland as Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh to make the demand palatable to the Adivasis living in the Dooars and the Terai.
Gurung announced that the plan for a 10-day shutdown from June 12 had been dropped and the strike in government offices would be withdrawn from June 2.
Today’s rally had been touted as a “show of strength” following the act of defiance by residents of Darjeeling during the funeral of the slain Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League leader, Madan Tamang, on May 24. People had then shouted anti-Morcha slogans, blaming Gurung for the killing, and tore down the party’s posters and flags. A defiant Gurung returned to Darjeeling leading a cavalcade of a hundred cars the very next day and announced today’s rally.
Tamang was hacked to death at the Clubside motor stand in the heart of the town on the morning of May 21.
Gurung today expressed his displeasure over the state and the Centre’s refusal to include areas in the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed set-up that was under discussion. “They are talking about granting only 22-23 mouzas from the Dooars. We were not asking for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s and (urban development minister) Asok Bhattacharya’s personal land. We are asking for areas where our people are in the majority but now the issue of interim set-up is over,” said Gurung.
He said that since there was opposition from the Adivasi community to the nomenclature of Gorkhaland, “We will name the state Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh. Both the communities have been deprived and we will fight together to create a state.”
The term Gorkhaland had been coined by Subash Ghisingh, who had led a bloody 28-month agitation from April 1986. Other names conceived by protagonists of a separate state in the past were North-East Frontier State, Uttarkhand Pradesh and Gorkha Pranta but none gained the currency of Gorkhaland.
Gurung urged the leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad to sit for a meeting. “They must also hold a meeting with us now since we have changed the name of our proposed state to accommodate them. After meeting the Parishad leaders we will hold three meetings.”
The party has decided to suspend its agitation, which included the closure of government offices from June 2 and a 10-day general strike from June 12, till a party meeting on June 14. “We will look at the response from the state and Centre on the statehood demand and will announce our programme on June 14,” Gurung said.
The Morcha’s announcement, rejecting the interim set-up and changing the nomenclature of the state it is demanding, is being seen as a strategy to silence the voices that have opposed it. Since all Darjeeling-based political parties are also demanding a separate state, the Morcha had come under criticism only after it started talking about a “secret proposal” it had sent to the Centre last January.
“It must be understood that the interim set-up was offered to us by the Centre. However, since we did not agree to what they sent us, we had merely sent our own proposal for the set up to Delhi,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the party.
The Morcha leadership had revealed the “secret proposal” on March 15 in the form of the interim set-up that would last till December 31, 2011. The talks, however, fell through with the state and the Centre not accepting the territory being demanded by the Morcha.
The change in nomenclature is also a clear indicator that the Morcha is aware that it needs the support of the dominant tribal community in the Terai and the Dooars even if it wants only those areas in the region where Nepali-speaking people are in the majority.
Jaswant Singh, the Darjeeling MP, said at the meeting that he would always work for the creation of a separate state. “One must however be patient and must always maintain peace.”

Appeals for peaceful movement
Photos Rabin Rai, Source: Darjeeling Times
SNS, DARJEELING, 30 MAY: In a significant change of tack, GJMM president, Mr Bimal Gurung proposed a change in the nomenclature of the proposed Gorkhaland state, in an obvious bid to placate the estranged Adivasis inhabiting the Dooars and Terai regrions. “From today the proposed state would be known as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh,” he said while addressing a massive  GJMM show of strength in Darjeeling today.
Mr Gurung also said the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha would no longer press for an interim set-up which the Bengal government and the Centre were insisting upon.
Testifying to the barely-diminished support for the hill-based party despite the shadow of dissent in the wake of All India Gorkha League chief Madan Tamang's assassination, the GJMM mobilized a mammoth gathering at North Point School ground in Darjeeling today.
GJMM supporters in their thousands from several parts of the Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars congregated at the meeting venue shouting pro-Gorkhaland slogans. The speakers castigated the Bengal government for hatching a ‘conspiracy’ to derail the statehood movement in the hills. Addressing the gathering, Darjeeling MP Mr Jaswant Singh said the hill people should not lose patience and maintain law and order while carrying on the movement. “We would get to the goal faster if we keep patience in the emotion-charged atmosphere,” he said. Mr Singh demanded a CBI probe into the Tamang murder.
Asking the Adivasi leadership to join hands with them, Mr Gurung said that they would invite the ABAVP to participate in a joint movement for the proposed state. He also told the rally that the GJMM's proposed 10-day Darjeeling bandh from 12 June had been withdrawn.

GJM's no to interim set-up, demnads separate state 
PTI,  Darjeeling (WB): In a U-turn, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Sunday said it was withdrawing its proposal for an interim set-up, scheduled to be taken up at the next tripartite meeting, and wanted a separate state.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung told a rally at a school campus, five km from here, that they would henceforward carry on movement for a separate state which would be known as the 'Gorkha-Adivasi Parishad' and not Gorkhaland.
In an obvious attempt to enlist support of the estranged adivasis who are opposed to the creation of a separate state encompassing Dooars and Terai where they are a majority, Gurung said they would no longer press for an interim set-up which the West Bengal government and the Centre were insisting upon.
GJM-supported Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh said that the hill people's long-standing dream of a separate state was nearing fulfilment.
"Ever since I became an MP from the region, I have taken the hill people's dream to Parliament," Singh said.
He, however, appealed to the people to keep their movement peaceful.
Gurung also told the rally that the GJM's proposed 10-day Darjeeling bandh from June 12 had been withdrawn.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said his organisation had no hand, direct or indirect, in the murder of All India Gorkha League chief Madan Tamang and demanded a CBI inquiry to find out.

Darjeeling Times, Darjeeling, May 30: Darjeeling town witnessed the massive inundation of people today, right from the morning people started flooding in Darjeeling town, which clearly indicated that GJM used its ultimate influence to clean its recent damaged image following the killings of Madan Tamang.  Section of its supporters could not reach at the GJM program venue due to severe traffic jam, some were marched all the way from Ghoom to Singamari.
There were well arrangements of water, medical facilities, foods for the visiting supporters from the distant places. Gymkhana hall has been well utilized as the eating place for the visiting supporters and shelter for volunteers. However, Darjeeling observed bandh today apart from restaurants and local eating places. People were seen enjoying their meals at the streets and public places.
“Jai Gorkha, Jai Gorkhaland”, was the opening speech of Jaswant Singh. Friend in need is friend indeed - Jaswant truly implied the ally of GJMM by visiting Darjeeling, setting aside conciliation on his way back to BJP fold.
Bimal Gurung clearly stated that there will be no Tripartite Talk for the Interim-Setup. He however, calls for a separation from Bengal as ‘Gorkha Adhibashi Pradesh’. Extensive discussion with the Tribal representatives of Dooars will be held on the first week of June, said Bimal Gurung at the North Point ground today.
The GJMM has suspended its 10 days strike scheduled to be held on June 12 to 21
Photos-Darjeeling Times (

Photo by: Chendup Lepcha   
Parliamentary team to visit Finger Tip area today
Prabin Khaling, GANGTOK, May 30: A four member Rajya Sabha team led by former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari today landed at Chungthang in North Sikkim for a three day trip of Sikkim.  
BJP national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Nirmal Singh and Tetir Gau are the other members of this Rajya Sabha team which landed at Chungthang helipad on a chopper from Bagdogra at around 4 pm.
The Parliamentary team then left for Lachen, informed State BJP president Padam Chettri who was present at Chungthang to welcome the MPs.
The Parliamentary team would be visiting the Finger tip area along the Indo-China border tomorrow which had been reported last year as an area where Chinese intrusions took place. They would be focusing on understanding the ground realities in this controversial border area during their daylong visit.
The MP delegation will be leaving Sikkim on June 1, it is informed.
Chettri expressed his happiness over the interest shown by Centre to the issues of Sikkim. It is good for the State, he said.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Security tightened in Darjeeling...AIGL condolence meeting- low turnout..5 killed

PTI, Darjeeling: Security has been beefed up in Darjeeling with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police personnel posted due to Gorkha Janamukti Morcha's (GJM) proposed rally to demonstrate its show of strength after the brutal killing of Gorkha leader Madan Tamang. security measures have been made in the entire hill town to maintain law and order due to the GJM rally as police said they would take no chance.
Police was also posted in strength at North Point School ground, venue of the rally. president Bimal Gurung had earlier announced to gather five lakh people at tomorrow's rally as most of the political parties, particularly CPI(M), claimed that Morcha's support was diminishing after the angry protests following the murder of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League chief on May 21.

Meanwhile, a condolence meeting was held here this afternoon, which was attended, among others by GNLF, CPRM, BJP and allies of 7-party democratic alliance formed by Tamang.'s widow Bharati demanded arrest and exemplary punishment of her husband's killers.
An all-faith prayer was also held at the meeting. 
KalimNews adds: For the first time two GNLF leaders Dawa Pakhrin and Rajen Mukhia attended an anti GJMM public meeting in Darjeeling. AIGL President Bharati Tamang, R.B.Rai, C.K.Shrestha, Dawa Pakhrin, Rajen Mukhia, Renuleena Subba (former MLA) along with other leaders addressed the meeting. 
The turn out was poor compared to the enormous gathering of the funeral day procession of Late Tamang. Every speaker dared to speak against GJMM which didnot allow other parties except CPRM to hold any political meeting in the hills. Meanwhile a vehicle and 15 GNLF supporters armed with Khukuris were arrested by Police in  near Siliguri, later 3 with the vehicle was released. Police said that we do not know which party do they belong but people are prohibited to carry Khukuri and other arms. 
CID has preleminarily named 24 in its first report  in the Madan Tamang murder investigation case. Police has asked  either to close down or to remove GLPcamps in different areas and the message is conveyed to the different GLP Camps by the respective police stations. In Gorubathan about 200 GLPs are stationed. (Pix:ABP & Darjeeling Times)
C. K. Shrestha, the former Working President of Bharatiya Gorkha 
Parisangh at the condolence meeting today. Photo by Barun Roy. Click on 
the image to enlarge. Barun Roy, Himalayan Beacon, DARJEELING (Report & Pix):  All India Gorkha League today organized a condolence meeting at Upper Clubside where the late Gorkha League President Madan Tamang had been assassinated on the 21st of May. The meeting was attended by leaders and representatives from numerous parties and apolitical organisations including the leaders of the Gorkha League and the family members of Late Madan Tamang. 
People at the condolence meeting organised by the Gorkha League 
today. Photo by Barun Roy. Click on the image to enlarge. Among the prominent leader who attended the meeting were Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM) General Secretary Ratna Bahadur Rai, former Member of Parliament and Congress leader Dawa Narbula, D. K. Bomzan President, Gorkha Rastriya Congress, C. K. Shrestha, former Working President, Bharatiya Gorkha League, son of Late Charu Mazumdar, Abhijit. Mazumdar and the leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist – Leninist) among others. 
CRPM General Secretary R.B. Rai (Second from Left - first row) 
along with Bharati Tamang (Fourth from Left - first row), the widow of 
Late Gorkha League President Madan Tamang and the present President of 
Gorkha League. Photo by Barun Roy. Click on the image to enlarge. The leaders during their address to the people condemned the assassination of the Gorkha League President calling it a ‘most daring act of terror’. A number of leaders also called for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the assassination.
The Gorkha League had previously requested the people and representatives of various social organisations to attend the condolence meet in increasing numbers. However, a handful of people were seen at the Clubside today. 
There was strong police presence and a number of vehicles were directed away from the venue. Speaking anonymously to ‘The Himalayan Beacon’, a prominent academician from the town said, “It is sad that the people have stayed away from the meeting. They are either afraid or simply disgusted from everything happening in the hills.” 
people gathered at Upper and Lower clubside during the condolence 
meeting organised by Gorkha League. Photo by Barun Roy. Click on the 
image to enlargeA. Dewan who had turned up to attend the meeting from Dali said, “The majority of the people in the hills are now awake. But there are no true leaders to lead them. If there has been a low turn out today the people cannot be blamed, it is these parties which have not been able to rise up to the occasion and stand up against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. 
Pretty soon those who have risen up against the GJM would also once again begin to support GJM due greatly to the lack of leadership and in all probability Madan Tamang would have died for nothing, forgotten as are those who had fallen before him.”
An Exclusive Interview with Bharati Tamang, AIGL President wife of late Madan Tamang (from Darjeeling times- Saturday, 29 May 2010 14:20 : Gorkha League, the oldest party of Darjeeling hills unanimously nominated Bharati Tamang as the new party president. Bharati Tamang, wife of committed and fearless leader of Gorkha League, the towering personality, Madan Tamang, was the only person that Madan Tamang used to fear; says a close member of Gorkha League. Huge party’s responsibility and people’s aspirations have been shouldered upon the lady. The DT correspondent tries to construe her past and future commitments…
DT: Under such a grim situation, you have taken the huge responsibility of the party, what have you thought of ahead?
BT: Right now I am going through trauma; I have not been able to extend my homage properly to my late husband. However, I am compelled to engross myself now with the party’s activities, beside, so many family responsibilities.
I accepted the post of ABGL president to fulfill the wish of the people and the dream of my husband. Peace and harmony among the people of Darjeeling was the dream of my late husband. Our efforts will be on restoring peace and democracy in a civilized way not in a barbaric way.
However, I have not yet clearly outlined the future course of action, but we have Political bureau, which will decide the upcoming strategies of our party.
DT: Can you explain about the Political Bureau and the existing members?
BT: It is our core committee, consisting of eight members of our party. They are S Zimba, Laxman Pradhan, Pratap Khati, Mani Sharma, Manohar Dewan, S K Pradhan etc. We are constantly in touch and having several meetings, we are currently taking the people’s opinions.
DT: Do you think in the present context of the hills, approaching civilized way would be successful?
BT: This is the democratic country, we respect democratic system and every solution can be solved though dialogue, not terrorizing people. 
DT: What are your immediate programs?
BT: Tomorrow we are organizing a tribute program at the site where Late Madan Tamang was assassinated, which will be held in peaceful and disciplined manner, there will be no political slogans. Likewise, we have plans to observe such programs in many other places of the hills for the next forty nine days.
DT: Do you think that the funeral procession was exploited by other parties?
BT: To some extent yes! We had written the apt slogans and distributed to our supporters but as the funeral procession progressed it was beyond control.
DT: Do you have any counter program for GJMM’s May 30 public program? Like say Janta Curfew?
BT: We are in the state of shock…we are not bothered with GJM program; we do not want to confront with GJM. We don’t want to create chaos and enmity among our brotherhood; rather we would encourage unity among our people.
DT: If in case GJMM accepts Setup or Interim Council with greater territorial advantage will you oppose?
BT: Definitely we will oppose. This is the reason why my husband died. Any arrangement that bring us within the Bengal slavery, we will not tolerate.
DT: What did Ashok Bhattacharya, Jibesh Sarkar and Suman Patak say today during their visit at your home?
BT: They were here with condolences from the Chief Minister and assured that anyone involved in the assassination of Madan Tamang will not be spared.
DT: What would be the role of Democratic Front after the sad demise of Madan Tamang?
BT: That will remain as usual; it will have its own agenda. We will maintain our strong correlation as usual.
I also strongly believe in collective leadership as my late husband did, we can achieve only if we are united, we cannot accomplish anything single handedly.

Ma’am, since you are now a public figure, many of our people do not know about you properly, if you don’t mind, I would like to go into your past professional and personal life with regard to you and Late Madan Tamang.
DT: Can you tell us about your education and past professional career?
BT: I did my schooling at St. Teresa School, Darjeeling and graduated in Humanities from Loreto College, Darjeeling. Later when I was doing my B.Ed., I got the job opportunity at Government Press.
I was a govt. employee as a News Reader in Govt. Press Darjeeling under West Bengal government, situated near Raj Bhawan. I retired in 2006.
Darjeeling town is my birthplace; I was born in 1946 and married in 1975
DT: Did your husband have any objection on your professional career?
BT: I was working before I got married. Initially he had told me it is not necessary to do the job, but I convinced him that I should make a use of my education. So he left me to my wishes. Besides I always had so many responsibilities towards my family.
DT: Did you have any interest in politics?
BT: I was not so interested but when I listened and looked at my husbands’ activities towards the society, I always appreciated and I used to be encouraged.
DT: But in recent news we find that you never participated in the field programs but in any political program inside your house organized by your late husband, you always seemed to be active and supportive?
BT: Yes, after all it used to be my husband’s initiative, the good works for the society. I could not standby when my husband was busy.
DT: This signifies you are interested in politics?
She smiles….
DT: What are your interests or your hobbies?
BT: Knitting, gardening, cooking are the subjects of my interest…
DT: I never had an interview with Madan Tamang other than politics. What was your husband’s interest beside politics?

BT: He was a Naturalist too. He loved Gardening. He was an Arts student but his botanist friends used to consult with him because of his interest on plants made him so proficient on the field, especially rhododendron, we have here more than 60 varieties of Rhododendron. He was an expert on Tea too. He was fond of books. He bought books every place he visited. He has abundant amounts of books on various subjects of his interest.
He is also a member of Rhododendron society of England, National Geography etc.
He graduated from St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling but his mark-sheet is still lying in the College, which he never required.
DT: What do you say about your husband Madan Tamang?
BT: He was so loyal a husband, he was always ready for any help, I never thought about procuring house hold matters. We hardly had any quarrels, he had very good understanding. He used to serve morning Tea every day... Can you believe, he would maintain the domestic work including cleaning of bathroom, serving foods to dogs etc. he used to call me ‘Rita’ as my nick name.
He used to lead very simple life. He was content with simple and plain food. He never took any cigarettes, pan, alcohols etc. that’s why he was a physically fit person.  He was very much disciplined, strict and sincere person.
His dream was to make a Garden in memory of his late parents, which now remains incomplete.
5 Killed in Sikkim road accident  
Prabin Khaling, Gangtok, May 29: Five persons were killed when the vehicle they were traveling skidded off the road and crashed some 500 feet down a cliff at Neya Baram between Yangang and Lingmoo under Ravangla subdivision in South Sikkim today.
Hejran Pradhan, Abishek Agarwal, Aron Tamang, Ongthen Bhutia and driver Surkraj Tamang were killed at the spot, said Superintendent of Police (South) Manoj Tiwari.
The incident occurred at around 1:40 pm when the vehicle (SK02A-3601) was proceeding towards Lingmoo from Yangang, said the police. All the deceased are from Yangang and are said to be between 16 and 25 years of age.
Abishek Agarwal had yesterday cleared the CBSE Class X exams with 51 percent. Antecedents of other victims are not yet available.
The bodies are presently being recovered from the cliff and would be sent to Singtam hospital in East district for post mortem, police said.
It is suspected that the vehicle had skidded off the road due to the foggy weather and slippery road due to the morning rainfall.
KalimNews: Kalimpong Press Club  was reconstituted in the Annual General Meeting of the club held today and the following members were elected as Office bearers for the next two years.President-Arun Kumar Rasaily: Vice President-Samten Kabo: Secretary-Arun kr.Rai: Asst. Secretary-Pradip Lohagun: Treasurer- Sujan Siral: Asst. Treasurer-Mani Tamang: Executive Members- Shanti Thatal, Manoj Rai, Kishore Bantawa and  Sekhar Subba: 
Working Committee-Coordinator-Hira Chhetri: Members-D.K.Waiba and Samiran Paul, Legal Advisor- Pravakar Dewan: Chief Advisor- P.R.Pradhan: Advisors- Kumar Chhetri, B.K.Shilal, K.P.Gautam, Sanjay Mintri, Suman Gurung and Zion Lepcha.
In the meeting reports were presented and amendments in the Bye-Laws were made and  future plans were shorted out. Membership to two new members were granted in the meeting. Mr. N.P. Thapa , Manager of Sunakhari Samachar was the Chief Guest and Mr. Zion Lepcha was the Election Officer while Pradip Lohagun conducted the meeting. 
Bengal ready for 'semi-final' today

PeoplePTI, Kolkata:Seen as a ‘semi-final’ before the 2011 state Assembly elections, the electoral battle for 81 municipalities in West Bengal will be held on Sunday.
For the ruling Left Front, which is in power in most of the civic bodies, it will be a litmus test after the string of electoral defeats since the 2008 panchayat polls and last year’s Lok Sabha elections. It is to be seen if it will reap dividends from the Congress-Trinamool split. For the Trinamool and the Congress also, it will be a test to ascertain if the individual strengths of the two parties can see them through.
The 141-ward Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has emerged as a bone of contention between Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and WBPCC President Pranab Mukherjee with the duo trading barbs thick and fast. The war of words between the Trinamool and the Congress started with the former unilaterally announcing its candidates for the KMC and offering its ally just 24 of the 141 wards. 
The Congress had demanded 51 wards, including the ones where it either came first or second in the 2005 KMC polls.
Banerjee had even accused the Congress of helping the CPM by dividing votes and taken potshots at them by claiming that her party was not in the UPA at the “mercy” of anyone, but on its own strength.
The WBPCC chief, on the other hand, criticised Banerjee for attempting to marginalise his party in the state. Mukherjee had questioned whether the Trinamool had won 19 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 on its own strength or with support from his party.
The two parties, however, have reached local level adjustments in some municipalities including those in Burdwan district.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee, meanwhile, had also recently torn into the Trinamool Congress, accusing it of being a lawless party.
Interestingly, the civic polls will be contested at the backdrop of Banerjee’s claims of a possible
advancing of next year’s Assembly elections.
Of the 81 civic bodies, 51 are held by the Left Front. These include those in districts like North 24 Parganas where the Left citadel has crumbled. Of the 21 municipalities, Left runs the board in 19.
Poll hours:
7 am to 3 am (Voters to carry voter identity cards or any other valid residential proof)Counting and results: June 2
Important numbers:
State Election Commission — 2280-1392/ 5277/ 5805   Kolkata Police Control room — 2214-3024 / 2214-3230 / 2214-1310
Municipalities going to polls:
* Kolkata Municipal Corporation
* Hooghly district — Twelve muncipalities
* Burdwan district — Six muncipalities
* Birbhum district — Three municipalities
* Bankura — Three municipalities
* West Midnapore — Six municipalities
* East Midnapore — Two municipalities
* Howrah — One municipality
* North 24 Parganas — 21 municipalities
* South 24 Parganas — Three municipalities
* Nadia — Seven municipalities
* Murshidabad — Six municipalities
* Jalpaiguri — One municipalities
* Malda — Two municipalities
* Cooch Behar — Four municipalities
* Purulia — Three municipalities
All booths in Kolkata, Salt Lake high-sensitive
As Bengal goes to polls, security concerns are paramount in the state following police reports apprehending violence and bloodshed on election day. The CPM and Trinamool Congress had also expressed similar fears earlier.
The state government has, meanwhile, declared all booths in Kolkata and Salt Lake as highly sensitive.
“We are not taking any chances and are deploying forces to the maximum strength to prevent any untoward incident during poll day. For the past few days, strict checking at the borders of districts are being conducted,” said DGP Bhupinder Singh.
The state government, which asked for 135 companies of Armed forces from other states and the Centre, has got only 68 companies. Armed forces have already started patrolling the streets of Kolkata, including sensitive areas. Apart from CRPF, armed forces of Punjab Police, SSB jawans, Kerala Police and others have been pressed into action in Bengal.