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Thursday, May 13, 2010

GJM calls two bandhs to revive demand for Gorkhaland...Govt blamed for Morcha bandh

PTI, SILIGURI: With the administrative-level tripartite talks on Gorkhaland failing to yield results, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Thursday announced its plans to revive its agitation for a separate state by calling for two bandhs.
The party has called for a two-day bandh from May 15 and then a 10-day one from June 12.
GJM president Bimal Gurung, who had earlier sent a proposal to the Centre for an interim set-up in the hills till December 31, 2011, told a public meeting in Kalimpong that the party was going back to its demand for Gorkhaland.
The reason for the revival of the demand was the failure of the administrative level tripartite talks on May 11 in Delhi over territorial jurisdiction of the interim hill council, which should include Siliguri and the adjoining Dooars and Terai, GJM assistant secretary Benoy Tamang told PTI. 
"Since the demand for inclusion of Siliguri and adjoining areas in the interim hill council has been turned down, we will not settle for anything less than a separate state of Gorkhaland," Tamang said.
Also the proposed political level tripartite talks at the end of this month should have the territorial demand of the GJM on its agenda, or else it would not participate, he said.
If the territorial demand was conceded, he said, the GJM could rethink its decision on the 10-day bandh in June.
Meanwhile, Bangla o Bangla Bhasa Banchao Samiti, an anti-Gorkhaland organisation, has called a 24-hour bandh in West Bengal tomorrow in protest against talks being held with the GJM.
An indefinite office bandh in the Darjeeling hills entered the fourth day today, affecting functioning of the administration.
West Bengal Home Secretary Samar Ghosh, who represented the state at the tripartite talks had said yesterday that state government wanted the interim authority to be set up first before determining its territorial jurisdiction.
Toy train services between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling were suspended from today till further notice.  
KalimNews: Regarding the proposed Interim Setup in lieu of the present DGHC, GJMM  has time and again declared that this formula was forwarded by the Center and approved by the State too. Addressing a press conference today at Deolo Tourist Lodge Bimal Gurung President of GJMM clearly mentioned  that its upto them either to enact it or reject it. But categorically GJMM cannot accept it unless it is for the welfare, benefit and fulfillment of the aspirations of agitating Gorkhas in the leadership of GJMM.So it is worthless to attend the talks and might not attend the forth coming talks instead GJMM will start the agitation afresh Gurung further added.
In the meet GJMM declared that it has decided to give relaxation to the tourists during the strike of 15th and 16th. Tourists will be allowed entry and exit during the bundh. 240 hr bundh of 12th to 21st June will be total and there would be no relaxation for one to all.
Two days bundh  will be implemented  in Dooars too, Dooars branch of GJMM confirmed.
Meanwhile GJMM has appointed supervisors to look after the activities of GJMM Kalimpong Sub Divisional Committee. Roshan Giri and Binay Tamang will look after the Kalimpong GJMM. At the same time GJMM Chief has announced that all Officebearers of Sub Divisional Committee of GJNM ( women's wing) is dissolved. However all units will function as usual it clarified. 
GJMM Rongo Zonal Committe has declared to socially boycott Prabin Gurung Secretary of United forum of Cinchona Plantation. He was allegedly attacked and injured by GJMM activists in Dalgaon of Jaldhaka. Gurung had lodged an FIR against some miscreants and while addressing a Press conference said that SK Mall, Manager of Rongo Medicinal Plantation supported by party workers has been felling trees and selling them . But the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Labour union of GJMM has strongly denied the allegation and claimed that the felling of trees is done with proper permission and no GJMM supporter is involved in the attack on him. It also claimed that Gurung's allegation is totally false and his activities are agianst the people of Rongo Gairibas plantation area. 
ABGL meeting is postponed to 19th May instead of 15th. In view of the GJMM bundh it is changed, Madan Tamang told a press conference.
Morcha issues 10-day bandh call 
Gurung in Kalimpong. (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)
TT, Kalimpong, May 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it would pull out of talks for an “interim” set-up for the Darjeeling hills and revive the demand for Gorkhaland in a fresh bout of muscle-flexing that came with a 10-day shutdown call next month.
Morcha boss Bimal Gurung said “everything will remain closed” during the June 12-21 bandh, as he mounted pressure on the Centre and the Bengal government to agree to the inclusion of Siliguri and Gorkha-speaking areas of the Dooars and the Terai under the proposed authority’s jurisdiction.
“Henceforth, we will not carry forward the interim arrangement, but will work towards the creation of Gorkhaland state,” Gurung told a media conference in Deolo, 5km from Kalimpong.
The announcement came two days after the collapse of tripartite talks following differences over territory to come under the interim authority.
The bureaucratic-level talks broke down after the Centre and the state insisted the set-up be limited to the hill subdivisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling.
Asked if his party would skip the next round of political-level discussions, Gurung said the exercise would be meaningless if the issue of territory was not resolved. “The meeting on May 11 at the bureaucratic level was meant to facilitate the process of resolving the issue of territorial jurisdiction before the political talks. But the Centre and the state refused to discuss the issue and said only the executive authority of the body would be discussed,” he said. “What is the point in attending talks at the political level if territorial jurisdiction is not discussed.”
A Morcha leader said there was a “sizeable” Nepali population in the Dooars. “So, if that area is not included in the set-up, we will be letting them down. That will not be good for the party’s image.”
A home ministry source in Delhi, however, expressed hope that the Morcha would attend the political talks, tentatively scheduled for May-end. But officials insisted the Morcha’s territorial demands were “unacceptable” at this juncture.
“There needs to be a political consensus. All three leading parties of Bengal — the CPM, Trinamul and the Congress — are opposed to giving additional territory,” said an official.
Gurung said the bandh would be enforced in all the areas his party wants to be brought under Gorkhaland. “Everything will remain closed, including schools and tea gardens.”
Tourism suffers due to Govt
TT, Siliguri, May 13: The tourism sector and the business community today hit out at the state government for remaining silent to the 10-day strike of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, fearing that the ripple effect of the bandh may extend till the Pujas.
“Over the past two-and-a half years, the tourism sector in north Bengal has suffered, not only because of the frequent strikes and agitation but the silence of the state government as well,” said Raj Basu, the working president of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association. “The current tourist season usually extends till mid-June when the forests close down and the rains come. We fear the Morcha announcement would lead to random cancellations throughout the Darjeeling hills and Dooars. It might even discourage tourists from visiting north Bengal during the Durga Puja.”
Earlier, Basu had said that at least 1 lakh tourists visit this region during the peak season. “And this time, about 10,000 extra tourists have been coming here per week,” Basu said. Cancellations in Darjeeling had started with the announcement of the weekend strike. “Moreover, the peak season in the circuit here is of 60 to 70 days and unfortunately, the strikes are eating up those days,” Basu had said. The summer this year had proved to be a boom for the tourism sector, with hotels in Darjeeling hills and the Dooars reporting an overcrowding. This, however, changed suddenly with Morcha’s announcement of the 48-hour strike on May 15 and 16, followed by the announcement of the 10-day blow.
Businessmen, too, have started counting losses. “It is not only the strike but we are also concerned about the probable repercussions (in the form of violence) as some organisations have threatened to oppose it as well,” said Biswajit Das, the general secretary of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, north Bengal. “We do not support any strike and feel there can be deterioration in law and order, which means further losses.”
Das was hinting at the 72-hour strike called by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad from May 17. The shutdown, however, has nothing to do with the statehood agitation. The Parishad, however, will oppose the Morcha bandh tooth and nail.
“We have been demanding Sixth Schedule status for 315 mouzas in the Terai and Dooars for development of tribals,” said Parishad state general secretary Tezkumar Toppo. “We will oppose tooth and nail any attempt to include the Terai and Dooars in the interim set-up or Gorkhaland and will also oppose the strike. We will give an apt reply in case the set-up is thrust on us.”
Another anti-Gorkhaland outfit, the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, will also oppose the Morcha shutdown. Bhasha Committee president Mukunda Majumdar said the Centre and state should stop the Morcha from “violating the constitution and law any further.” It has called a 24-hour strike tomorrow to protest the interim set-up.
“Morcha leaders are law-breakers and the announcement shows their arrogance. We will actively oppose any strike called by the Morcha,” he said.
Minister Asok Bhattacharya whose government has been accused of being a silent spectator said the Morcha announcement spoke of the hill party’s insecurity. “The Morcha is fast loosing its foothold and we won’t be surprised if the common people start protesting soon,” said Bhattacharya, who has represented the state in the first round of political- talks. 
CPRM call for attendance on shutdown days
TT, Darjeeling, May 13: The CPRM has asked its supporters at tea gardens to join work during the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-sponsored strike on May 15 and 16, expressing its dissatisfaction with the shutdown call.
K.B. Subba, the general secretary of the CPRM-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chai Kaman Mazdoor Union, said: “We are dissatisfied with the two-day strike. We appeal to our supporters to join duty on both the days. The management (of gardens) must ensure that the workers are allowed to work and that they receive their salaries.”
Although May 16, a Sunday, is a holiday in tea estates, the previous day is a working day in the gardens.
“The management is already talking about low productivity. It will cite the instances (of strikes like this) during the wage and bonus negotiations and ultimately our workers will be losers. We once again appeal that the tea gardens be kept out of the strike’s purview,” said Subba.
The Morcha has, however, iterated that the strike will be strictly enforced during the two days.
Observers believe that the CPRM’s call to join work can create tension in the Rangmook-Cedar tea garden, near Sonada, about 35km from Darjeeling, as the estate is the native place of CPRM general secretary R.B. Rai and is traditionally a stronghold of the Left party. The CPRM has also some support at Gorubathan in Kalimpong subdivision also.
The second largest party in the hills, the CPRM had announced on May Day — about 4,000 supporters of the party had taken out a rally on that day — that it would sever its ties with the Morcha. The party also unveiled its voluntary force, the Swayam Sevak Vahini, which is being seen as an ominous challenge to the Gorkhaland Personnel raised by Bimal Gurung’s outfit.
In the past, the CPRM had drawn flak from many quarters for its soft approach towards the predominant party in the hills, be it the GNLF or the Morcha.
But the CPRM this time has condemned an attack on a former GNLF commissioner at Kalimpong yesterday. Tikaram Chhetri, 42, who had resigned from the party in 2008, was assaulted by suspected Morcha supporters and was later admitted to a Siliguri hospital. No FIR has been lodged. The attack is seen as a fallout of Saturday’s incident when members of the student wing of the GNLF had plastered posters in town favouring Sixth Schedule for the hills following which alleged Morcha supporters assaulted GNLF sympathisers.
“We condemn the incident. Many intellectuals within the Morcha have been urging the party leadership to refrain from violence, but over the years the Morcha is turning violent. Their Gandhigiri is stained with blood. We appeal to all the Gorkhaland loving people to come up openly and bravely oppose such tactics,” the CPRM general secretary said.
Storm hit A tree uprooted after a storm fell on a passing vehicle on NH31A near Bardang, about 36km from Gangtok, on Thursday. Police said the storm struck the area around 5pm and uprooted many trees. The passengers of the car escaped with minor injuries. The highway was blocked till the tree was removed with the help of the army. A Telegraph picture 
Trains diveted for strike
TT, Siliguri, May 13: The Northeast Frontier Railway today announced that some long distance trains would be rescheduled or diverted tomorrow because of a 24-hour state-wide strike called by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee.
The 4083/4084 Sikkim Mahananda Express will be diverted via Alipurduar Junction, Baneswar and New Cooch Behar, while the 3247 Kamakhya-Danapur Express will pass through Samuktala Road, New Cooch Behar and Raninagar Junction. The 3149/3150 Kanchankanya Express will be diverted via Alipurduar Junction, Baneswar and New Cooch Behar. The 5644 Kamakhya-Puri Express will pass through Raninagar Junction, New Cooch Behar and Samuktala Road.
Shot at
TT, Jalpaiguri: Niranjan Ghosh, a resident of 73 More near Jalpaiguri, was shot at, allegedly by his friend Buntai Sarkar on Thursday. Police said the duo had an altercation over some minor issue and Sarkar had fired from his airgun. The bullet hit Ghosh’s head and he was admitted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital with serious injury. Buntai was arrested.
Court Stay
TT, Calcutta: Justice Anniruddha Bose of Calcutta High Court on Thursday stayed the suspension of North Bengal University registrar Dilip Sarkar for his alleged involvement in a financial scam while holding the post of controller of examinations. The judge also restrained Sarkar from handling documents lying with the department of controller of examinations till further order. The court will hear the case in detail in June.

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