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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Morcha Dharna to halt course shift...14 arrested for Tunbari tea estate clash

TT, Kalimpong, May 3: Four frontal organisations of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha along with the Citizens’ Rights Forum organised a dharna at the subdivisional office here today to protest the shifting of library science course from the Kalimpong People’s (Janata) College to Siliguri.
More than 20 protesters sat on the office premises from 11am to 12.30pm. In the absence of Kalimpong subdivisional officer Amyas Thsering, they met deputy magistrate G.L. Thsering and wanted to know the response of the state government to their demand.
They reassembled at the office around 2.30pm and warned that the government’s continued silence on the issue could lead to serious trouble. Members of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JSTO), Gorkha Primary Teachers’ Organisation, Janmukti Karmachari Sangathan and the Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan took part in the protest.
“If the government continues to pay no heed to our peaceful protest, we will be forced to take to the streets on a much bigger scale. We have decided to sit on dharna for three more days. Representatives of the four Morcha affiliates and the Citizens’ Forum will take part in the protest from 11am to 2pm for the next three days and confine the SDO and other senior officials to their rooms,” said Hari Dahal, the Kalimpong unit secretary of the JSTO.
An official, who did not want to be named, said authorities in Calcutta were being kept posted about the developments.
The Kalimpong subdivision had already witnessed rallies and a shutdown to protest the government’s decision to transfer the library science course from the Janata college to Siliguri. The directorate of library services had cited “present administrative turmoil in Darjeeling” for shifting the course.
“The government has decided that one training course may be organised at additional district library, Siliguri, instead of Kalimpong People’s (Janata) College, due to present administrative turmoil in Darjeeling,” reads a letter sent by the director of library services to the secretary of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad and the district library officer, Jalpaiguri.
Although the opening paragraph talks only about one course (library science), the subsequent content of the letter says “the courses” may be organised in Siliguri “until and unless the situation of DGHC area of Darjeeling becomes normal”. The organisations have decided to intensify the agitation if the order is not revoked in three days. Dahal, however, refused to reveal the next course of action.
Police scan on garden union strength
TT, May 3: Police are worried about the law and order situation in the Dooars brew belt with repeated clashes in recent times between the supporters of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and the CPM or the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Inspector-general of police, north Bengal, K.L. Tamta, has instructed the Jalpaiguri superintendent of police to submit a report on the strength of trade unions in each tea garden in the Dooars to find out if there is the possibility of further breach of peace
The police woke up to the problem after yesterday’s clash between the members of the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, formed by the Parishad recently, and those of the Citu-affiliated Cha Bagan Mazdoor Union, in Tunbari tea garden, 115km from Alipurduar in Jalpaiguri district. Ten people were injured in the clash that was followed by a four-hour road blockade by Parishad supporters, demanding the arrest of Citu workers.
The tribal outfit had blamed the CPM trade union for assaulting its supporters.
“The clashes are taking place because of the emergence of a new trade union. I have instructed the Jalpaiguri police chief to contact the garden managements and to get a picture of the actual situation so that we can act promptly and settle disputes through dialogues,” Tamta told The Telegraph.
The police officer, however, ruled out the possibility of deploying additional forces in the area. “I do not think extra forces are necessary; the unions should settle all differences through talks,” said Tamta.
Fourteen people were arrested in connection with yesterday’s violence. Danga Bek, the secretary of the Malbazar block committee of the Parishad, said if the arrests had not been made, a strike would have been called in all the tea gardens in the Dooars.
The Citu, however, denied its involvement in the violence. “I have not heard that our supporters are among the arrested people,” said Chanu Dey, a member of the Jalpaiguri district committee of the Citu.
The general secretary of the Parishad, Tezkumar Toppo, said: “We have told our trade union leaders in the Dooars that they should not go into any confrontation with rival unions and should remain peaceful even in the face of provocation. However, the administration has to see to it that no one foments violence in the area,” said Toppo.
Night watch on snow leopard
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 3: Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park has launched a project to understand better the snow leopard’s nocturnal behaviour by keeping the animal under surveillance round the clock.
“Even though other animals have been kept under surveillance, this is the first time that the snow leopard is being studied in this manner. We want to record the animal’s behaviour at night,” said A.K. Jha, the director of the zoo here.
The project is the first of its kind in the country and will be assisted by the Central Zoo Authority for two years. The zoo has six female and five male snow leopards.
Three infra-red cameras are being used to keep tabs on the snow leopards — two are placed outside the enclosure where the animals are kept and one inside.
“Otherwise, it is difficult to record their behaviour once they enter their enclosure,” said Jha.
He also said a Tibetan wolf, also known as the Himalayan wolf, had given birth to three cubs at the zoo. “We have now 10 female, three males and four cubs.” One of the blue sheep, which were brought from Japan last year, is expecting.
The zoo has recently brought ornamental birds from Calcutta. “We mostly housed birds and animals found in the Himalayan region. We have, however, been able to bring in birds which are native to South America,” said the director. The birds include a pair of yellow blue macaw, two pairs of grey parrot, a pair of touraco and Chinese ring-necked pheasants.
“An aquarium has also been constructed at the zoo and efforts are on to shift the Bengal Natural History Museum here. The infrastructure for the museum will be completed within two years,” said Jha.
The museum, which is under the state forest department, is currently situated at Meadow Bank in Darjeeling.

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