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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Center and State agree on Gorkhaland issue

KalimNews:On principal, Central Government and the State Government agreed in three issues of the demands of Gorkhaland and GJMM. The first of these three common issues is; no separate state of Gorkhaland will be formed by bifurcating the state; the second is , the one and only solution of Gorkhaland issue is formation of an interim setup body comprising of the area included in the DGHC (present) and the third is, those involved in Madan Tamang murder will not be spared.
It is come to know that Health Minister Suryakanta Mishra and Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken had met before the 2nd political talks of 24th July and principally agreed on these three matters. It is also said that Center had assured the state to provide all possible help but it is advised not to use force to curb the agitation but wait and observe patiently.  
It is also known that GJMM is well informed about this matter and the state Government  will inform the same to the opposition parties during the talks on 3rd August. The talks of 3rd will focus on the formation of the proposed interim body - Gorkha Interim Authority.
Darjeeling Times: The names of the persons attending the meeting of the 3rd August are as follows: Dawa Sherpa and Trivuwan Rai of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) ; Sawan Rai, L M Lama and S B Subba of CPRM ; Sankhar Hang Subba and Capt. Lepcha of SDAM ; Col. D K Pradhan of GNLF(C ) ; D K Bomjan and Amar Lucksam of GRC ; Gopal Chettri of TMC and  P B Poudel of BJP.
Wizards allow Chhetri to join Indian team for Asian Cup
PTI, New Delhi, Jul 31: Indian striker Sunil Chhetri is all set to join the national team to prepare for next year's Asian Cup after getting the go-ahead from his Major League Soccer club Kansas City Wizards.
"The Kansas City Wizards announced that attacker Sunil Chhetri has been permitted to join the Indian National Team through the 2011 Asian Cup, in cooperation with the All India Football Federation," the KC Wizards said in a statement.
Chhetri, who was frustrated at not being able to make his MLS debut despite spending four months with the club, said he would be glad to rejoin the national squad, which is currently training in Portugal.
"I'm excited to be joining the National Team. But I'll miss Kansas City. Everything was falling into place here, including the big win we just had against Manchester United," Chhetri said.
Student commits suicide for Telangana
IANS, Hyderabad:Osmania University in Hyderabad was tense on Saturday as yet another student committed suicide in the campus, demanding the formation of separate Telangana state. The charred body of Ishan Reddy, an engineering student, was found near the university library. In his hand-written suicide note found near the body, the student said he was fulfilling his "wish" as all 12 legislators, who had resigned for the cause of Telangana, were re-elected. 
"I wished before Maisamma (deity) that I will sacrifice my life if D. Srinivas and other Congress candidates are defeated in the elections and now that they are defeated I am fulfilling my wish," he said. 
Andhra Pradesh state Congress chief D. Srinivas and other Congress candidates were defeated in the by-elections in the region. 
Ishan congratulated the people of Telangana and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao for ensuring the re-election of 12 legislators. 
Ishan, who hailed from Medak district, also wanted that Congress and TDP leaders like D. Srinivas, Jana Reddy, Damodar Reddy, Sridhar Babu, K. Venkat Reddy, Kadiam Srihari, E. Dayakar Rao and N. Janardhan Reddy be declared "traitors" of Telangana and hanged publicly. 
Tension prevailed on the campus as the students were resisting police attempts to shift the body to the mortuary. Ishan Reddy, in his suicide note, expressed his wish that autopsy should not be conducted on his body. He also wanted his body to be taken in a procession from the university to Telangana martyrs' memorial near the assembly. 
Ishan Reddy completed his B Tech from St. Ann's Institute of Technology and was undergoing coaching for GRE TOEFL exams. 
He is the fourth student to commit suicide on the Osmania University campus this year. In March, Sai Kumar, a second year B Tech student of Osmania University, had ended his life by hanging in his hostel room as he was upset over the delay in formation of a separate state. 
On Feb 20, a Class 12 student had immolated himself at the main entrance of Osmania University in full public view during a protest by university students. 
In January, a MCA student had self-immolated on the campus. 
Parties fighting for a separate Telangana claim that over 300 students and youth have committed suicide in the region since protests began in November last year.
Mob Ransacks Police Station
TNN, MALDA: At least eight policemen, including the inspector-in-charge of Kaliagunj PS in North Dinajpur, were severely injured when a mob ransacked the police station and set it on fire.
The mob outrage was the fallout of an incident on July 27 in which a local, Kishor Paswan, was injured. Though police registered an accident case, pressure was on police for registering it as an attempt to murder case. Paswan succumbed to his injuries on Saturday afternoon.
Around 6.30 pm, a 100-strong mob attacked the police station with arms to protest "police negligence" in arresting the criminals. The IC's chamber was ransacked, computers were smashed, and other property damaged. The mob then set the police station on fire. Eight policemen were seriously injured.
"We have even started a murder case on the demand of the people. But as no one was named in the FIR, no one was arrested. Then suddenly, the mob attacked the police station," said IC Swapan Dasgupta. Later, a huge police force led by the DSP came from Raigunj to control the situation. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

State calls all hill parties on August 3....Meal denied-Husband hacked wife...CPM get life for murders.... Shobhraj convicted

KalimNews: West Bengal Government has invited all the hill parties except GJMM for an all party meeting to discuss on the present situation of the hills and the settlement on the demand of Gorkhaland. State and Democratic Front sources confirmed that a 12 member delegation will meet the state authorities for the talks.  All other parties including GNLF will be sending 2 representatives each.
Democratic Front President Dawa Sherpa said that a verbal information is received by the Front and the foremost demand of the parties of hills would be restoration of peace and democracy in the hills and immediate arrest of Tamang killers. The meeting to be held in Writers' Building at Kolkata will be attended by two Ministers Suryakanta Mishra and Ashoke Bhattacharya
Sources said that the state Government wants to get the opinion of all the GJMM opposition parties regarding the structure and powers of the proposed interim setup. It doesnot want to repeat the sixth schedule situation when GNLF was in power. Meanwhile GNLF sources said that it is not attending the meeting.
TitBits:The proposed meeting of ABGL in Sukhiapokhri was cancelled by the party due to a strike called by GJMM on the very day. 
Mahim Thapa a resident of Ghoom, Darjeeling is arrested by Siliguri police from a Pradhan Nagar hotel in Siliguri. 28 years Thapa  is accused of cheating public and taking bribes by impersonating as Central and State Government Officer.
Darjeeling Police website is launched.Updating of its previous website launched in 2004 was discontinued. This new site has an option to register complains to thye respective police stations. 
Writers’ invite for talks- govt to sound out front on set-up
TT, July 30: The Bengal government has invited the Democratic Front and the GNLF for a meeting at Writers’ Buildings on August 3.
Dawa Sherpa, the convener of the Front, said in Darjeeling today: “I have received a verbal intimation, inviting us to the meeting and we will definitely be going to Calcutta.”
The Front is a conglomeration of six parties opposed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.
In Calcutta, minister of state for hill affairs, Asok Bhattacharya, said this was being done to get the views of the “other stakeholders in the hills” on the interim set-up for Darjeeling.
“The Morcha may be in the forefront of the statehood movement, but there are other outfits in the hills which are stake holders in the development of Darjeeling,” Bhattacharya said. “That's why we want to take their views on what the shape and form of the interim set-up in the hills should be.”
Bhattacharya said their suggestions would be incorporated in the final observations of the state government on the interim set-up that would be sent to Delhi soon. He said both he and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra would jointly hold the meeting with the hill opposition parties.
However, the Front also wants a discussion on ABGL leader Madan Tamang’s murder and on the restoration of democracy in the hills.
“It has been proved beyond doubt that the Morcha does not allow other parties to function in the hills. The decision to call a strike in Sukhiapokhri today when we were supposed to organise a meeting has made everything clear,” said Sherpa.
Observers in the hills said the state was holding the meeting with the hill opposition parties as it did not want a repeat of the Sixth Schedule fiasco when the government thought that discussions with only the predominant party, which was the GNLF then, would solve all issues.
“Even though the GNLF had demanded the status, the arrangement could not be implemented because of stiff resistance from others and the hills plunged into another crisis,” said an observer.
The timing of the meeting is also important as during the last tripartite talks in New Delhi on July 24, the Centre had directed the state and the Morcha to submit its final observations within two weeks. “The state perhaps does not want to make any observation without impressing on the other political parties the need to accept an interim set-up for the time being,” said the observer.
Apart from the ABGL, the Front also includes the CPRM — the second largest party in the hills — GNLF (C), BJP, Trinamul Congress and the Darjeeling-Sikkim Akikaran Manch. GNLF MLA Shanta Chhetri said her party would not attend the meeting as Subhash Ghishing had “rejected” the idea.

Talks only with GJM will not solve Gorkhaland problem: AIGL
PTI, Siliguri (WB), July 30: All India Gorkha League (AIGL) today said that central and state government should not hold tripartite talks with the GJM alone as it was not the only political party representing people of Darjeeling. Pratap Khati, a member of the Central Committee of the AIGL, said apart from his own party there were other political parties as well which should be involved in the talks brokered by the Centre to resolve the statehood issue amicably.
Khati, who came here to meet Darjeeling district Trinamool Congress president Gautam Deb, said the Centre should include AIGL and other political parties in the tripartite talks if the government was at all interested to establish peace in Darjeeling. "It is horrible that the Centre and state government were holding talks with those who were named in the FIR for involvement in the AIGL president Madan among murder case," he said.
Khati alleged that the West Bengal government, in particular, was sailing in two boats by threatening to arrest Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders named in the FIR and holding talks with them at the same time.
Meal denied- Husband hacked wife
TT, Gangtok, July 30: A 40-year- old mechanic of the Sikkim transport department has been arrested for murdering his wife, a mother of two children, for allegedly refusing to serve him food.
Hari Prasad Sharma, a resident of Neopany village in Rumtek, East Sikkim, had allegedly slit her throat with a knife. Rekha bled to death at their house yesterday afternoon.
According to the in-charge of Ranipool police station, Sonam Wangchen, the local panchayat had informed him about the murder.
The villagers said the couple’s elder son was in school, and the younger son, aged around four, had gone to a crèche when the murder happened.
Hari Prasad is employed in a workshop near Saramsa.
Although earlier he had claimed that someone had broken into their house, murdered his wife, and fled with cash and ornaments, he broke down at the police station this morning, the police said.
Hari Prasad told the police that when he returned home from work in the afternoon he found Rekha sleeping. He asked her to serve him food but she hurled abuses at him. A quarrel broke out and he hit her on the head with an utensil. “She shouted another round of obscenities, and in a fit of rage, I slit her throat with a knife,” Hari Prasad told the police.
He also confessed he had tried to cover up the crime by making up a story about a robbery in which the perpetrators fled with Rs 13,000 and gold ornaments after killing Rekha. The police said both Hari Prasad and his wife were alcoholics and used to quarrel regularly. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered at the Ranipool police station.
Prakha: Gangtok:
Villagers wary after wild scare- big cat, bear & boar: visitors in a week
TT, Gangtok, July 30: The leopard, the bear and wild boars: residents of a West Sikkim village have had a scary week trying to thwart them off from their habitat.
In the first case, however, foresters are not sure if the predator was a leopard, but villagers of Lower Yangtay insist that a big cat had devoured a cow in its shed on the night of July 27, the remains of which were found the next morning.
“We were informed about the incident only yesterday. But we don’t know whether that predator was a leopard, or some other wild animal, as normal evidences like pugmarks were washed away by the rain. The carcass had also been buried by the villagers,” said divisional forest officer (wildlife, West Sikkim) Suraj Thatal.
Yangtey village is near a reserve forest. On the evening of July 28, there were reports from the neighbouring areas of more attacks on cattle by the animal.
The same day a bear was spotted in the forest staff quarters in Geyzing, the district headquarters of West Sikkim 116km from here. The size of the bear could not be ascertained as it was dark, said the DFO. “We have asked the school students not to venture out into the forest while coming back from school and patrolling has been intensified.”
Wildlife authorities said the suspected leopard, which killed the cow, could have transgressed into human settlement because of food scarcity in the forest. The leopard might be injured or has grown old and so depended on easy preys like domesticated animals. 
Last year, Himalayan black bears had entered Yangtey and its surrounding areas.
In fact, between September and December last year, at least 70 bear transgressions were reported and some of these turned into a man-animal conflict that led to the death of one of the animals. One bear was also killed in a fierce territorial fight on November 10 at Dokeythang reserved forest near Geyzing.
The DFO said the foresters had visited the village after the first leopard raid to sensitise the people. The leopard is an endangered species and falls under Schedule I of the wildlife protection act. It mainly feeds on barking deer.
West district is also grappling with the problem of wild boars that often enter maize fields in fringe villages. Since early last month there have been several reports from Ripdi, Bareng and Soreng of such wild boar forays. “It looks like the wild boars are particularly fond of maize. We have been trying to push these animals back into the wild,” said the DFO.
The wildlife authorities said an increase in the population of these animals and lack of food in the wild was forcing them to enter the villages.
But foresters hope that a good season for phumpseys or wild avocado this time will stop the wild forays. “Once the plants bear fruits, then both human and wild animals will enjoy the abundance.” Phumpseys are wild fruits popular with both the herbivores and human beings.
He said often people collected these fruits from the forests, creating a scarcity for the wild animals. This time, the produce has been more than last year, he added. 
CPM men get life for murders
TT, Cooch Behar, July 30: A dozen CPM workers were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two Congress leaders in Mathabhanga 25 years ago.
Mahesh Roy Basunia and Gorachand Roy were hacked to death on August 7, 1985, when they were going to Bhogramguri to organise a peace rally.
Roy Basunia’s wife Anjali and son Mriganka were relieved to hear the sentence. “I am relieved that the verdict has finally come. However, I am not happy that front-ranking leaders of the CPM in the district, who were directly linked to my husband’s murder, are still roaming around,” Anjali said.
She remembered that following the murder, senior Congress leaders, including Pranab Mukherjee, had visited her home.
The verdict was read out by additional district sessions judge (special), Bibek Chowdhury.
“My husband was an MA in political science and a brilliant student of ABN Seal College. He had sat for the IAS examination and qualified twice, in 1968 and 1969. But he could not join both the times as police verifications were not sent on time because of the CPM’s intervention,” said Anjali.
She said Basunia had left a teaching job in 1970 and joined the Congress as a full-time worker. “He was a member of the railway board when Ghani Khan Chowdhury was the railway minister. He would have been 66 today,” she said.
Arun Chowdhury, a district secretariat member of the CPM, said an appeal would be made to the higher court against today’s verdict.
KalimNews: Of the 23 accused in the duo murder 8 are already dead and 3 were given cleanchit. The convicted are Sashikanta , Manbhola, Suresh,  Amulya, Shiben , Sunil, Mani , Suresh (2) and Shailya Burman:Anil Bashunia, Sarat Burman and Mahesh Roy. All are sentenced for life imprisonment and 2 years rigorous punishment with a fine of Rupeese six thousand  under three sections 302, 149 and 324.
Protest at teacher selection
TT, Siliguri, July 30: Trinamul Youth Congress today launched an indefinite dharna in front of the District Primary School Council office in Jalpaiguri, alleging that friends and family members of CPM leaders had made it to the final list for the recruitment of teachers through unfair means.
The CPM’s youth wing admitted privately that many eligible candidates had been denied jobs because of the unfair practices adopted by the council.
The council had conducted entrance tests and interviews to fill up 1,411 vacant posts of primary schoolteachers in Jalpaiguri district and around 1,000 names were published yesterday for the recruitment.
“Ever since the the recruitment process was set in motion, the council has been acting in a biased manner and there had been disputes on a number of issues like the cut-off marks, vacancies in different categories and likewise,” said Chandan Bhowmik, the secretary general of Jalpaiguri district Trinamul Congress.
“We had been suspecting irregularities and our apprehensions were confirmed yesterday when the council published the results of the tests and the interviews. We found that most of the selected people are family members, friends and relatives of CPM leaders,” he said.
According to Bhowmik, the primary eligibility to appear for the exam was a Madhyamik certificate. “Since yesterday evening, several candidates, who had secured even 90 per cent marks in Madhyamik, have been approaching us, saying they could not clear the tests and interviews. But those with lower marks in Class X board exams made it to the final list,” said the Trinamul leader.
A total of 1,31,500 candidates had submitted applications for the 1,411 posts and around 21,000 were called for the exams based on their marks in Madhyamik. The final screening was conducted through interviews, in which 6,634 candidates had appeared.
Council sources said names of candidates selected for the remaining posts were kept on hold as verification of their qualifications and other details was yet to be completed.
The sources also said the wife of the council chairman was among the chosen candidates.
The recruitment drive had met with protests for other reasons also. Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad ransacked a bank distributing forms for the tests in the Dooars to protest “higher” cut-off marks for tribal candidates. The council was also accused of being lenient towards candidates who had resorted to cheating during the entrance tests.
Mrinal Pal, the council chairman, said he was not ready to comment on the allegations over the phone. “I cannot speak on the issue right now,” he said before switching off his cellphone.
The selection has irked the DYFI. “Instead of the needy youths, it is the relatives of leaders, right from branch committee level to district committee, who have been recruited for jobs,” said a DYFI leader.
The CPM, however, vouched that the selection process was fair and transparent. “Trinamul is levelling baseless allegations. The council has complied with all rules and formalities during the process,” said a member of the CPM’s Jalpaiguri district secretariat. 
Bullet fury spills over on second day Blaze, bandh and benched cops
TT, Islampur, July 30: Violence renewed this morning and torched buses were set ablaze again as a mob went on the rampage during a bandh in Srikrishnapur where a police firing on a school campus killed a guardian yesterday.
Islampur town and adjoining Srikrishnapur were shut and traffic on the busy NH31 was held up for 10 hours because of the bandh called by the SUCI, which was supported by all the parties. Seven policemen have been suspended for their role in the firing on the Srikrishnapur High School campus.
Ganesh Gayen, the purported owner of the land adjacent to the school over which the violence and firing took place, was also arrested.
Bandh supporters set up road blockades in Islampur and Srikrishnapur from 6am, despite requests from the subdivisional administration to keep the national highway out of the purview of the protest.
After the death of Dipak Mirdha on the school premises yesterday, sub-inspector B.N. Ghosh and four constables had been placed under suspension pending departmental inquiry and block land reforms officer B. Banerjee was asked to go on leave by Islampur subdivisional officer Partha Ghosh. Three other policemen were suspended today.
The firing was provoked after the BLRO, accompanied by the policemen had come with Gayen, to take possession of an acre of land adjacent to the school. They were armed with an order issued by the additional district magistrate The teachers, students and guardians had protested the land take-over, leading to the violence and firing.
The school will remain shut till the situation calms down. “We have decided to keep the school closed till the situation normalises,” said headmaster Swapan Pal.
Echoing yesterday’s demand, CPM state committee member Sudhir Biswas said the local people want the suspended policemen, the BLRO, and Gayen to be booked for murder. “If this demand is not met, we will launch an intense agitation,” Biswas threatened.
Additional superintendent of police Annappa E said a case had been started against the policemen on the basis of a complaint filed by the headmaster of the school.
The subdivisional officer held an all-party meeting in the afternoon. He said a proposal has been sent to the government to compensate the next of kin of the dead and free treatment for the injured.
On NH31, the highway connecting Siliguri to Purnea More hundreds of passengers were stranded in their buses for almost over 10 hours till 4pm when traffic resumed.
Kalyan Das, who was travelling to Siliguri from Calcutta, was among those who got stuck. “We did not know about the bandh and with all shops closed, we had nothing to eat or drink. Such bandhs should not be called,” he said.
The secretary of the CPM’s zonal committee, Swapan Guha Neogy, blamed the Congress and the Trinamul Congress for blocking the highway, although The Telegraph saw his party supporters set up a picket too (see picture).
The Congress chairman of the Islampur municipality, Kanhaialal Agarwal, said the blockades had been set up by the “enraged public”.
Maoists posters in Rajbhavan
IANS, Kolkata, July 30 – Maoist posters were found pasted on one of the gates of the West Bengal governor’s house here Friday night, causing a stir.
Police said the posters were put up on the southern gate of the Raj Bhavan. The posters were removed immediately and a search operation conducted in the area, said a senior police officer.
Several other posters were also found from the Gate no 7 of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, said the officer.
The posters contained an appeal to observe ‘martyr’s week’, which is being observed by the tribals in Junglemahal (the forested areas of three western districts – West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura) between July 29 and Aug 4 in memory of Sidhu Soren, the founder-member of the People’s Commitee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) and its armed wing, Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia, who was killed July 26.
Soren and five other Maoist guerrillas were gunned down by security forces during a fierce clash at the Metla forest in West Midnapore July 26.
When contacted, city police’s senior officers refused to comment on this issue. Joint Commissioner (headquarters) Jawed Shamim did not respond after repeated attempts.

Air of revolt against axe order
TT, Raiganj, July 30: A section of policemen in North Dinajpur has threatened not to carry arms while going for law and order duties because of the spate of suspensions.
Eleven policemen have been suspended in five days in the district. Official sources said four policemen were suspended on July 25 for allegedly torturing to death a high school employee at Kotar police camp the previous night, while seven were punished after a guardian was shot dead in Srikrishnapur high school yesterday.
Himanshu Saha, the district secretary of the Non-gazetted Police Karmachari Samiti, said: “We shall not carry arms while on law and order duty. Let senior officials including the district superintendent of police carry arms till the suspension orders are withdrawn.” The policemen would not take any further risk while on law and order duty. They would go unarmed and with folded hands to control a mob, Saha said.
“If we take any firm step to deal with a mob involved in destroying government properties, we are taken to task. Even if we fail to control any rampaging crowd, we are punished. Things cannot go like that,” Saha said.
The association leader claimed that yesterday four policemen were on duty when thousands of people started throwing stones targeting them. The crowd had set fire to a number of police vehicles. The four had to resort to firing in self-defence and also to protect government properties.
But the additional district superintendent of police and other senior officials who arrived there later announced that they had suspended the four policemen “to please the crowd,” Saha said.
In deference to the demand of the local people, the additional SP also announced that a murder case under Section 302 would be initiated against the suspended policemen after receiving the post-mortem report, Saha said. “We have voiced our resentment to the officer against this.”
Recalling that four constables had been benched after they picked up a high school employee from a gambling den, Saha claimed that the person had died on way to hospital but the men in khaki were blamed for the death.
The Congress-affiliated Paschim Banga Police Association state president Bijitaswa Rout also voiced concern about the district police authorities’ attitude towards the lower rung personnel.
“This has a direct bearing on the morale of the policemen. We shall take up the matter with the director-general of police.” Rout said. “If required, my organisation is ready to sit with the district police authorities to seek redress.”
Additional district superintendent of police Annapa E. admitted that the policemen were faced public wrath if they took any stern action against a mob.
“It has really been creating a problem for the policemen. But I cannot comment on the department’s decision against the policemen,” Annapa E said.
Supreme Court upholds Charles Sobhraj conviction 
Republica, KATHMANDU, July 30: Supreme Court (SC) on Friday upheld Patan Appellate Court’s decision to convict French national Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj on the charge of murders, our correspondent Bimal Gautam reported.
Charles Sobhraj 250x169He has been also convicted for possessing fake passport.Sobhraj who was arrested in 2003 in charge of murdering two foreign nationals back in 1975 was sent to jail after Kathmandu District Court convicted him of murder in 2004. He was found guilty of killing US citizen Connie Jo Bronzich and Canadian national Armond Carriere in 1975.
Later, in 2005, the Patan Appeallate Court also upheld the district court’s verdict.
Sobhraj moved to SC to prove himself innocent.
He has to continue serving his life sentence slapped by the courts.
'Bikini killer not hopeful of release in Nepal'TNN, KATHMANDU: When this reporter went to Kathmandu's Central Prison to see Charles Sobhraj on Thursday, a day before the Supreme Court was to pronounce the final judgment on his seven-year sensational trial for a murder committed in 1975, he appeared nervous and cagey. An Australian photographer had been to the prison to contact him, for the third day in a row, and he was apprehensive the man was actually a contract killer hired by enemies, whom he did not name, to do a hit and run after he walked out of the prison a free man. 
The 66-year-old's fears proved to be unfounded on Friday when judges Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Gauri Dhakal struck down his hopes of freedom, finding him guilty of the gruesome murder of American flower child Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975 and upholding the life term announced by the district court in 2004 and upheld by the appellate court the following year.
In a packed and hushed court room, where Sobhraj's 22-year-old fiancée Nihita Biswas sat stunned, along with her mother Shakuntala Thapa , and brother Bijay, Shah enumerated in measured tones the reasons that led the bench to conclude that Sobhraj was guilty despite his denials that he had never come to Nepal before 2003, did not know Bronzich and never committed any crime in the Himalayan republic.
Nepal police, who had failed to provide either an airtight case or strong evidence, were baled out by the Indian courts where Sobhraj had faced about eight to nine trials, ranging from robbery to a murder charge. Justice Shah said the judgement was based on the India court proceedings and conclusions as well as at least two statements by Sobhraj in which he had admitted to have visited Nepal in 1975.
During a trial in India's Supreme Court, Shah said an Indian magistrate had asked Indian police to investigate the allegation that Sobhraj had killed a Dutch tourist, Henricus Bintanja in Bangkok. The fact that Sobhraj asked not to be extradited to Bangkok, and an "admission" that he went to Kathmandu under Bintanja's name and stayed in the Soaltee Hotel, bolstered the charge by Nepal police that Sobhraj had visited Nepal on Bintanja's tampereed passport and killed Bronzich, the judge said.

New trend in getting hitched : Love-cum-arranged marriage- Biplav Acharya, Republica
Our society still does not have values that prefer love marriage. Instead it prefers arranged marriage.
Love-cum-arranged marriage is a new type of arranged marriage that is speedily getting popularity in Nepal. "Love-cum-arranged marriage is a bridge between arranged and love marriage," says sociologist Prakash Chandra Bhattarai from Koteshwar.
Due to the influence of love marriage in Western countries, people have started to opt for this type of love-cum-arranged marriage in the urban areas.
These days, young girls and boys from their early childhood choose their life partners themselves. They have a love affair and promise to get married. This is the most recent trend now seen in urban areas. Having said that, there are still some families that prefer arranged marriage to love marriage or love-cum-arranged marriage.
However, for the people living in the rural areas, this new trend is not acceptable or even not heard of. They follow their traditional ways when it comes to marriage.
In traditional arranged marriage, it is not essential to marry only the person one loves. One will always have to fall in love with his/her spouse gradually. Parents in earlier days used to force their children for arranged marriage even though they knew that love doesn´t come forcibly to anyone, it just comes naturally.
Spouses chosen by parents had to be married by their children without any complains in traditional arranged marriage. But, in ´modern arranged´ marriage, if the child does not like the partner who is chosen by their parents, the parents usually respect their child´s wishes and look for another partner. However, parents will usually make an attempt to convince their child about the value of understanding. "My parents agreed to search another girl again but they frequently talk about the same girl whom I had rejected before," complains Bikash Rauniyar from Bafal.
In arranged marriages, two unknown individuals start staying together, and try to bond love within them. Only after sometime, they start understanding each other´s needs and become more committed toward their relationship. After that, love may happen but it is not guaranteed. There are some couples who don´t love each other even after years of marriage. Love after marriage starts only when one starts thinking the way his/her partner does. Roni Maharjan, 42, from Patan, says, "I had a divorce with my wife after two years of marriage because we couldn´t establish feelings for each other." Physical attraction comes before the marriage in arranged marriage.
In love marriage, one gets time to know their partner and spends some time together. Marriage takes place only after a long relationship. After falling in love, a couple plans to get married whereas in arranged marriages, one falls in love with their partner only after getting married. It sounds silly to those who don´t believe in the concept of love after marriage.
Binita Rayamajhi, 24, from Baneshwar, says, "To fall in love with someone, you need to spend time with that person, need to understand each other and need to be loyal to each other. There should be commitment and trust in the relation." Only then love marriage will become successful like ours, adds her husband Rahul.
Since love marriages are easily approved by our society, in Kathmandu, these days the concept of love-cum-arranged marriage is getting more and more acceptable. The basic meaning of a love-cum- arranged marriage is that a person chooses their own partner i e has an affair first and then later seek parents´ approval for marriage.
"We had an affair of four years. Then we took permission from our parents to get married. They agreed and organized the marriage in such a way that it looked like an arranged marriage," says Pravina Timilsana, 29, who lives at Satdobato. Her husband Sujim Timalsina is also very happy with his wife.
Parents these days are broad-minded to allow their children to choose their own life partner. Similarly, children are also more mature and they keep the pride of their parents and ask for their permission before taking the decision of marrying the person they are in love with.
"Love-cum-arranged marriage not only brings pleasure and happiness between the couple but also fosters a better relation," says Alok Gurung, 32, from Chabahil. And this kind of marriage also helps to create a good relation between the two families because the entire association is based on mutual understanding and love.

Back on strike track to keep off rival - Bimal Gurung’s party calls bandh today to thwart ABGL meeting at Sukhiapokhri ... DGHC blames Morcha... Tribal disapproves map

GJM strike to thwart ABGL meeting at Sukhiapokhri
TT, Darjeeling, July 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has called a 12-hour general strike in Sukhiapokhri tomorrow to coincide with the ABGL’s scheduled public meeting there, indicating that it is unwilling to allow space to the opposition to function in the hills.
Earlier, too, the Morcha had prevented the ABGL and other hill opposition parties from holding public meetings. However, in recent times, faced with a backlash after ABGL chief Madan Tamang’s murder, the Morcha had relented and allowed the rival party to hold political programmes.
But today’s announcement of a strike in Sukhiapokhri made in the “interest of the law and order situation” makes it clear that the Morcha led by Bimal Gurung is once again hardening its stand.
Buddha Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha’s Sukhiapokhri unit, said: “It is not that we are trying to stop the ABGL from holding a meeting at Sukhiapokhri (about 20km from Darjeeling). Since the majority of the residents in the area are Morcha supporters and since it is a haat (weekly village market) day tomorrow, people from the town and far-flung areas may not take the ABGL’s speech kindly and are likely to create law and order problems. We are calling the strike to ensure peace in the area.”
The ABGL said it would push ahead with its meeting. “The strike is a political programme of another party and our plan is to hold a public meeting. The meeting will start at 11am as scheduled,” said ABGL working president Dawa Sherpa.
Observers believe that the Morcha would not go out of its way to create trouble at the ABGL venue given the backlash it faced following Tamang’s murder. “The Morcha leadership is aware that a repeat of the May 21 incident will spell doom for the party at this juncture. It is unlikely that there could be a major law and order problem at Sukhiapokhri tomorrow,” said an observer.
Police sources said they were fully aware of the situation and proper security would be put in place for the meeting. “Chances cannot be taken and adequate security will be arranged,” said an officer.
The strike call, however, is likely to deter many ABGL supporters from attending the meeting even though party supporters from Maneybhanjyan said they would attend the rally. Maneybhanjyan is known to have a sizeable number of ABGL supporters. The meeting at Sukhiapokhri will be the third in two months by the Morcha rival. The two earlier meetings were held at Kaijalya near Bijanbari and Darjeeling.
The decision to hold the public meeting reaffirms the ABGL’s determination to create a base in the rural areas. For long, the ABGL had failed to mobilise public support at the grassroots level even though Madan Tamang had played a significant role in opposing the Sixth Schedule status mooted by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh.
Even though public resentment against the GNLF was swelling, the ABGL had not been able to take advantage of the hill sentiment, which was later successfully exploited by Gurung who formed the Morcha.
“Madan Tamang concentrated merely on holding public meetings which were constantly disrupted by the GNLF that did not lose an opportunity to call strikes in areas whenever he was to make a public appearance. However, the ABGL seems to have learnt its lesson well and has started holding meetings and mobilising support at the grassroots at the same time,” said an observer. “The ABGL, however, still has much to do.” 
DGHC blames Morcha for  tourism spanner
The DGHC lodge at Tribeni occupied by Gorkhaland Personnel. File picture
TT, Siliguri, July 29: DGHC administrator B.L. Meena said today that the council could not take up any tourism project in the hills, barring the repair of a few huts for trekkers on the Sandakphu route because of frequent strikes by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
“Funds for the improvement of tourism infrastructure are lying with us. But we could not launch any project for tourists visiting the hills as DGHC offices are closed because of agitation by the Morcha,” said Meena. “However, some minor repairs were carried out at some locations.”
According to him, several people, including foreigners, travel every year to Sandakphu and Phalut — two popular destinations for trekkers in the Darjeeling hills. “The DGHC had built huts for the trekkers on the Sandakphu route, but they took a lot of wear and tear over years. Although political problems in the hills are posing a hindrance to the execution of projects, we could start the repair of the huts to make them suitable for the tourists to stay. We expect the work to finish soon,” said the administrator.
DGHC officials said there were proposals for the introduction of rafting and angling on the Teesta at Tribeni in Kalimpong and improvement of roads to tourist spots like Tarkhola, Relli and Deolo in the subdivision.
“Similar proposals are pending in Darjeeling and Kurseong subdivisions also. The projects could have helped boost tourism in the hills. However, officials found no point in giving a thought to a single project as they had faced a lot of opposition from the Morcha whenever they came forward to discharge their duties,” said an official.
He also alleged that the Morcha was standing in the way of tourism promotion by occupying seven DGHC properties. “After the administrator had filed FIRs, Gorkhaland Personnel vacated five DGHC properties. But two are still occupied by them. By turning DGHC lodges into camps for GLP, the Morcha left tourists disappointed as they could not find lodges at idyllic places like Deolo and Tribeni,” he said. While the GLP left Deolo lodge, the building at Tribeni is still their camp.
Tribal front disapproves State Map
TT, Siliguri, July 29: A new forum of the tribals today protested the map proposed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for the separate state it wants.
“As the tribals are the majority in the Terai and the Dooars, they (Morcha leaders) are trying to create a rift in the community by sketching a map that covers certain portions of the Dooars and not the entire area,” said Suman Ekka, the general secretary of the Adivasi Democratic Front here.
The front was formed about a month ago comprising members of the political parties like the Congress and the RSP.
“The Dooars and Terai population have always been together and there is no question of separating these areas for the sake of the Morcha,” Ekka said.
After bringing out the map, the Morcha leaders had said they had included only the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars in the map. “But we want to make it clear that there is no area in the Dooars where the Gorkhas are a majority. We have nothing to say if the Morcha continues its agitation for a separate state while keeping its territory limited to the three hill subdivisions.”
Ekka, who introduced himself as a Congress leader, said the tribal population of the Dooars and the Terai would prefer to stay within the administrative ambit of Bengal instead of the Morcha’s separate state. “We would be a minority then if the entire Dooars is not included in the territory (proposed by the Morcha).
Samuel Gurung, a Morcha central committee member in-charge of the Dooars, denied any intention to create a rift among the tribals.
“We have no such intentions. The territory of the proposed separate state that has been demarcated by our party leadership is based on certain facts and not something quirky,” Gurung said. 
Tallest & oldest tags on Sikkim trees- Contenders many but hunt still on for heritage giants
TT, Gangtok, July 29: Who is the oldest giant of them all? It is yet to be found out. A Sikkim government project launched last year to hunt for the most towering of the trees, as well as the oldest in each species, remains an ongoing process with more contenders coming up for the heritage status.
“We have received reports of around 35 such trees of various species, and 20 have been shortlisted so far. Some more reports are coming in which will be verified,” said Usha Ganguli-Lachungpa, a senior research officer (wildlife) of the state forest department.
The search for Sikkim’s tallest and oldest trees, launched in the first quarter of 2009 as part of the forest department’s centenary year celebrations, is an ongoing process which includes incentives for the searchers.
“The heritage trees and sites in the forest areas of Sikkim will be identified and local stakeholders like the joint forest management committees, who protect such trees, will be felicitated by the department at appropriate programmes,” said Anil Mainra, the additional principal chief conservator of forests said.
Mainra said villagers had been involved in the protection of such trees and sites in the forest areas for generations. The objective of the search mission is to generate awareness about protecting the trees as an integral part of Sikkim’s diversity, he said.
The hunt has yielded some results and searchers have cited several trees that could be contenders for the “heritage” status. These include nine trees including a juniper with a girth of about 42 feet at Sevo reserve forest, Lachung, in North Sikkim. It was honoured as the “first proposed heritage” tree during International Rhododendron Festival this year.
Thirteen trees from South Sikkim including a fig with a girth of 29ft and a height of 95ft have also been put on the list. The searchers also found 10 trees in East Sikkim including a ficus with girth 33ft and height of 150ft. Three pines have been shortlisted by the department in West Sikkim. One of them has a girth of 21ft and a height 120ft.
“Can we find any tree bigger/older than these? We must find out and document such old giants so they can be formally recognised as biodiversity heritage trees and given due status,” state forest secretary S.T. Lachungpa had written in the department’s centenary celebrations souvenir magazine. The forest department while launching the hunt had highlighted the need to locate and identify all such trees, collect their history from the local villagers and generate a photo documentation. There is also a need to document biodiversity heritage sites like the wetlands (taal) and water sources (boudha), the department said. 
School turns 150 without pomp- Jenkins alumni cry for jubilee celebration
Main Uddin Chisti, TT, Cooch Behar, July 29: Jenkins School has stepped into its 150th year but there seems to be no effort on the part of the authorities to celebrate the occasion, leaving its alumni disappointed as well as angry.
Located in the heart of town, the government-run institution has been declared a heritage property. The school is among the most beautiful edifices in the town renowned for its architectural marvels left behind by the erstwhile princes of Cooch Behar.
The former students blamed the school authorities for taking no initiative to celebrate the 150th anniversary.
“I passed my Madhyamik and Higher Secondary exams from Jenkins School and I am proud to have studied in an institution that is a shining example of the education scene in Cooch Behar 150 years ago. I am really disappointed that no one is inclined to celebrate such a landmark year. Along with some former students, I had approached the present headmaster, but he did not seem to be interested in the matter,” said Debabrata Chaki, a writer.
Headmaster Binoy Krishna Bhadra admitted that some former students had met him. “We are thinking of contacting our higher authorities in this regard and plan something to mark the school’s 150 years of existence,” he said.
The initiative to establish the school was taken by Maharaja Shivendra Narayan during his reign from 1839 to 1847. 
“He wanted to set up a modern institution to teach English and began working on his plan and in 1841, wrote about his wish to Captain F. Jenkins, who was looking after education for the British government,” said Chaki.
The maharaja, however, could not realise his dream and passed away. The school was opened by his son and successor Maharaja Narendra Narayan in 1861 and named after Captain Jenkins who had retired from the service two years earlier.
The institution had first come up in the Debibari area of the town, but the building was ravaged by a fire. A new structure was built by the rulers on the east side of Sagardighi in 1879, but that, too, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1897. The present building was built at the same spot in 1905.
“We the former students will not let next year go without any celebration and we will arrange for something on our own,” said a determined Chaki.
Nirmalendu Chakrabarty, now 67, recalls how his alma mater had organised the centenary celebrations way back in 1961.
“I was in Class X. It was a grand affair with Maharaja Jagadddipendra Narayan sending a message to the school from Calcutta. Rabindranath Tagore’s personal secretary, Anil Chanda and noted Sanskrit scholar from Calcutta University, Gournath Shastri, were present on the occasion. We have written to the President and the Prime Minister about the school and have also applied to India Post for a commemorative postal stamp,” said Chakrabarty, who heads the philatelic society here.
Sold girl rescued
TT, Malda, July 29: Harishchandrapur police today brought back a 13-year-old girl who had been trafficked to Mumbai by her neighbour Sabir Ali on July 17. Ali, 38, has been arrested.
Motiur Rahman of Tejpura in Harishchandrapur had lodged a complaint on July 18 saying that his daughter had been kidnapped. Police learnt that Ali and his men had lured away the Class VI student to Mumbai with the promise of a job.
A police team was sent to Mumbai which rescued the girl. The girl was handed over to her parents through the court. Ali had sold off the girl to a brothel. “We are interrogating him to find out the names of the others involved in the trafficking,” an officer said.
Prisoner flees
TT, Siliguri: Punit Tamang, an undertrial prisoner from Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district, escaped from the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on Thursday. Matigara police said Tamang had been arrested for a theft and admitted to the hospital on July 25 with a stomach ailment. A search is on. 
Embankment demand
TT, Siliguri: Congress workers submitted a memorandum to the sabhadhipati of the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad on Thursday, demanding embankments on the Panchanoi river at Debidanga, Methibari and Salbari areas under Champasari gram panchayat. The protesters have threatened to start a movement if no steps are taken. 
One injured
TT, Jaigaon: A resident of Mainaguri was injured in a road accident near Lataguri on Thursday. Officials at Metelli police station said Gana Chaki while going to Chulsa on a motorcycle rammed into a bus that was parked beside NH31C. He has been sent to NBMCH for treatment.
Repair plea
TT, Jalpaiguri: The DYFI’s district committee submitted a memorandum to the subdivisional officer (sadar) here on Thursday, demanding immediate repair of national and state highways.
3 Days vehicle strike in the state
IE, KOLKATA: Private operators have called a three-day transport strike across the state from August 10-12 after their demand to hike bus and taxi fares was rejected by the government. The operators have sought the chief minister’s intervention to work out an amicable solution.
But with the government refusing to budge on Thursday, Kolkatans seem to be staring at what has now become almost a monthly routine — flash strike calls with no regard for their crippling effect on the city and the largescale inconvenience they cause to its residents.
State transport minister Ranjit Kundu said there was no way the government would buckle under the pressure tactics from transport operators. "What can I say? They met me on Wednesday and called a strike on Thursday. But we are not going to change our stand," Kundu said.
So, as things stand now, 35,000 buses and mini-buses, 30,000 taxis and 16,000 luxury taxis will be off the roads for three busy weekdays in hot and humid August.
Kundu said the state government would deploy more buses so that commuting woes were eased during the strike days. "We will try our best," he promised. But the government will not take any initiative to start talks with the operators. "If they want to talk, it’s fine. But we will not ask them to come forward for discussions," he said. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gurung eyes new party for alliance... Mukhia received ABGL invitation...GJM to propose team to identify areas .....Gutka seized in Kalimpong

To join hands (or not) for a new stateMorcha fuels tribal split for Dooars entry
TT, July 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is now hoping to divide the Adivasis with the help of the newly formed Progressive People’s Party and push ahead with its movement for a new state.
The attempt comes after the Morcha failure to stitch up an alliance with the Terai-Dooars regional committee of the Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Earlier, party president Bimal Gurung had re-christened Gorkhaland — the new state it is clamouring for — as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh to woo the tribals. But that failed.
Now, the Morcha hopes to take advantage of the fact that the PPP consists of suspended and breakaway leaders of the Parishad who are in favour of a joint movement with the hill party, and gain a foothold in the tribal dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai.
“This new development will allow the Morcha to make a backdoor entry to a region where it has failed to make major inroads despite repeated attempts,” a Morcha leader said.
The PPP was formed on Sunday after the Parishad’s organising secretary in the Dooars, Raju Bara, and senior party leader Kiran Kumar Kalindi were suspended for “indiscipline”: they had expressed their willingness to talk to the Morcha on the creation of Gorkha Adivasi Parishad.
Samuel Gurung, the organising secretary of the Morcha in the Dooars and Terai, said today: “The formation of the PPP is definitely an indication that the Adivasis have also started an exercise to carve an entity outside of Bengal. We are closely observing the development in the plains and we are willing to work with any party which espouses the cause of separation from Bengal.”
However on a different note, he said: “Leaders breaking away from the Parishad to form the PPP is an internal matter of the outfit. The Morcha would not want to interfere or comment on the development at the moment.”
The Morcha had earlier been hoping to launch a joint movement with the Dooars-Terai regional committee of the Parishad which is the principal outfit representing the tribals in the region. The president of the committee, John Barla, had even written to the Morcha in May saying that he had no objection to discussing a joint movement for statehood.
However, after this, Barla did not take matters forward and now appears to be following the state leadership’s line that the Parishad would have no truck with the hill outfit.
In the past, all attempts by the Morcha to find a toehold in the Dooars had faced resistance largely because of the Parishad’s strong opposition. In fact, there had been frequent clashes between the Gorkhas and Adivasis living in the Dooars. However, sources in the Morcha said the party would now try to cosy up to the PPP and garner Adivasi support for their cause of a separate state.
“If this move proves to be a success, then the Morcha can even use it as a bargaining tool at the tripartite talks or at a later stage, whenever the issue of territorial jurisdiction of the interim authority for the hills comes up,” a Morcha source said.
In fact, the Dooars-Terai Nagarik Manch, a conglomerate of 17 apolitical organisations in the region, has accused the PPP of being a front for the Morcha.
“The Morcha is using the PPP leaders to divide the Adivasis,” alleged Larry Bose, the Manch’s president. “We see no difference between the PPP and the Morcha.”
Mukhia received ABGL invitation
TT, Siliguri, July 28: The hills are rife with speculation that the convener of the Terai branch committee of the GNLF, Rajen Mukhia, will join the ABGL that has invited him to a joint movement against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Mukhia said he was seriously considering the request and a decision would be taken in a couple of days.
Dawa Sherpa, the ABGL working president, today said: “We have written to a number of leaders across the hills, requesting them to join the ABGL to strengthen the movement against the atrocities of the Morcha and to strive for restoration of democracy and peace in the hills. The list includes Rajen Mukhia and we are waiting to hear from him. We would appreciate if he joins the ABGL but it is up to him to take the final decision.”
Mukhia was the only leader to stay in the GNLF when the Morcha was gaining support base in the hills and even party chairman Subash Ghisingh went into political hibernation.
Acknowledging the invitation, Mukhia said: “I am considering the invitation. It will take a couple of days before I take a decision.”
GNLF supporters in Panighata, where Mukhia is based, said he had already made up his mind to join the ABGL.
“Mukhia was present at a rally here (Panighata) organised in memory of those who had lost their lives during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s. He said in his speech that yesterday was the last martyrs’ day observed by the GNLF in Panighata, which was enough to indicate that he was leaving the party. If he joins the ABGL, all his supporters like me will follow suit,” said a GNLF leader over the phone from Panighata.
If Mukhia joins the ABGL, it would be the last nail on the GNLF’s coffin. Only Mukhia and Kalimpong leader Dawa Pakhrin remained active after the emergence of the Morcha. As Pakhrin had resigned from the party, Mukhia’s departure will trigger the exodus of rest of supporters from the GNLF. 
GJVM raids gutka shops
KalimNews:Campaign for banning gutka and other paan masala started by GJVM since 1st May 2010 was welcomed by one and all as these gutkas contains cancer causing chemicals. But the campaign was more or less ignored by the producers as well as the consumers. To teach all a lesson Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha a students wing of GJMM raided many shops of Kalimpong town today and recovered different brands of Paan Masala like Whiz, Pass Pass, Rajnigandha , Tamanna and others worth Rupeese two lakh. They even caught students smoking in school dresses in some shops. Later they burnt all the seized gutkas near Damber Chowk.
Gutka, a form of smokeless tobacco, is a cocktail of tobacco, nicotine, and carcinogens that contains many unhealthy additives such as magnesium carbonate and phenyl ethyl alcohol, along with harmful perfumery compounds including musk ketones and other injurious fragrance compounds (which are known to be dangerous in toiletries). Gutka use is one of the major causes of oral cancer in India, is one of India's most serious social problems, and is also popular in Asian communities in the US.
  Beginning of a new life: Samten Kabo

GJM to propose team to identify areas 
 TH, KOLKATA: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is considering proposing in the tripartite talks scheduled for August 17 the setting up of a “joint verification team” to identify areas to be brought within the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed regional authority for the Darjeeling hills.
A team comprising representatives of the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM should identify areas in the Dooars and the Terai in the plains of north Bengal with a predominantly Gorkha population for inclusion within the regional authority, according to the GJM leadership.
The West Bengal government has been maintaining that it is opposed to the inclusion of any area beyond the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district in the jurisdiction of any new administrative body for the region that is to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
Determining the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed regional authority will be the focus of the August 17 tripartite talks.
The GJM, in the recent talks, has made it clear that the setting up of the proposed interim authority should “not prejudice, affect, alter or diminish our demand for Gorkhaland state”, Harkha Bahadur Chettri, senior GJM central committee member who was in the GJM delegation that participated in the last Saturday's talks told The Hindu over telephone on Tuesday.
“The GJM leadership has also asserted that the proposed regional authority should have a limited time span- till December 31, 2011,” Dr Chettri added.
TRA to introduce eco-friendly pest management for tea
Manas R Bannerjee,SNS, SILIGURI, 28 JULY: In order to curb the Helopeltis (Tea Mosquito Bug) menace in tea plantations, spread over the northeastern region and north Bengal, the Tocklai Experimental Station at Jorhat in Assam is busy researching to find out eco-friendly pest management.
The advisory officers of the Tea Research Association (TRA) took up the work in response to the complaints from the tea planters who keep incurring losses in tea production.
According to the TRA officials, the production keeps alarmingly dwindling due to the menace, particularly in Margarita in upper Assam on the bank of the Brahmaputra, and also some tea plantation spread over Terai and Dooars in north Bengal. Dr S Baisya, the advisory officer of the TRA at Bangdubi in Siliguri, said: “The portents are disturbing and we apprehend further slump in the tea production in the entire tea belt.
The situation in north Bengal is less alarming than upper Assam though,” he added.  “We are striving to find out alternative ways to tackle the menace so as to help the small tea planters who have been bearing the maximum brunt,” Dr Baisya added. The senior TRA officials ascribe the growing menace to heavy rains and want of sunlight. According to them, the task is proving tough owing to several reasons involved.
To compound the problem, the imperative of maintaining the ecological balance is coming in the way of eliminating the mosquitoes outright. On the other hand, the tea planters are not inclined to use powerful chemicals and pesticides apprehending that the indiscriminate use of these anti-mosquito elements would tell upon the quality of tea apart from exposing the people to health hazards. “Interestingly, the number of natural enemy is low for killing Helopeltis in the tea plantations. And these insects are very clever too. They are adept in protecting themselves from the spraying,” Dr Baisya added. 
Green cover under threat
Abhijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, July 28: Over 13,000 hectares of forest land has been encroached upon across Bengal, the state forest minister has admitted while expressing apprehension that if the trend continues the man-animal conflict will be on the rise.
Till March 31, 2007, a total of 13,048.376 hectares of forest land had been encroached, according to data available with the forest department.
“It is true that a huge portion of forest land is under encroachment in different parts of Bengal, with the forests of north Bengal being no exception,” forest minister Ananta Roy told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta today. “This is a matter of concern, particularly at a time when population of elephants and gaurs (Indian Bison) are showing a consistent rise in the past few years. If the trend of encroachment continues, we fear the frequency of man-animal conflicts will rise.”
According to Roy, forest cover comprises 27 per cent of the state’s geographical area but in reality, the percentage is less. “The dense area is only 16.46 per cent,” he said. “The tendency to develop human habitats on forest land should be curbed for conservation of wildlife and the green cover. We wish to take initiative to clear the encroachments and maintain the forest cover.”
The total forest land under encroachment in six north Bengal districts is 1,631.444 hectares (see chart). In south Bengal, the situation is worse as in Bankura district alone, 4,870.729 hectares of land has been encroached.
Forest officials have also expressed their concern on the encroachment. “It is a complicated problem. In case we decide to clear the encroachments, the issue of displacing human population arises,” an official said. “There have been incidents when our men tried to clear encroachments but had to face opposition from the occupants, political parties and human rights groups.
Representatives of wildlife NGOs expressed the urgency to keep the forest land clear of encroachment.
“Those objecting to the clearing of encroachments must understand that it is for our interest that the forest and the biodiversity should be saved,” said Animesh Bose, the programme coordinator of Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation and a member of the state wildlife board.
Elephant corridors have already got affected because of encroachments which is why the loss of human and elephant lives and damage of properties and crops have been reported almost everyday. “If these issues are not tackled, it will be tough to conserve the wildlife in the region,” Bose added.
Caravan stuck in jam
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, July 28: Cruising in a caravan to soak in the ambience of a typical hilly village is still a distant dream for travellers visiting Darjeeling despite the Union ministry of tourism unveiling plans to introduce caravan rides across India in a big way.
Plans by tour operators to start the caravan rides have hit a roadblock because of the state government’s 2005 order stopping the Darjeeling district administration from issuing permits to commercial vehicles in the municipality areas of Darjeeling and Siliguri.
Tashi Sherpa, additional district magistrate, Darjeeling, said: “We cannot issue permits for commercial vehicles carrying passengers in Darjeeling and Siliguri municipality areas.”
Permits are denied to stop congestion in the two towns.
The decision has annoyed Darjeeling-based tour operators who are constantly trying to shrug off stiff competition from Sikkim.
“On the one hand, the government says the industry should not merely rely on it to promote tourism and to create better infrastructure. On the other hand, they do not even facilitate the implementation of the new concept by the industry,” said Suresh Periwal, chairman, Indian Association of Tour Operators, north Bengal and Sikkim chapter.
Periwal who runs Clubside Tours and Travel, one of the few firms allowed to conduct adventure tourism in the state, had drawn up a plan to start caravan services in Darjeeling and the Northeast. “We wanted to procure three air-conditioned super deluxe buses to start caravan tourism in Darjeeling and the Northeast,” said Periwal.
Although Periwal’s plan is not as exhaustive as the rides in other states, where vehicles are equipped with modern facilities like home theatre and chemical toilets, the Darjeeling based tour operator had wanted to make a beginning. “We were planning to carry separate tents for kitchen, dinning, sleeping and toilet purposes and to camp as we cruise to various locations,” said Periwal.
The caravan ride is a big draw among niche European clients.
An official of the Regional Transport Authority said their hands were tied because of the notification. “We can only give permits to commercial vehicles if they don’t enter Darjeeling and Siliguri municipality areas. Commercial vehicles to be used for carrying loads can obtain permits. As far as passenger carriers are concerned, we can only transfer a permit which has already been issued for an old vehicle to a new one,” said the official.
Vehicles operating without valid documents can be fined up to Rs 2,000 and more importantly, would not be able to avail of insurance coverage in case of accidents. “Sometime back, a bus met with an accident in Kurseong and since the vehicle’s papers were not in order, the passengers could not avail of insurance,” said the official.
States like Madhya Pradesh are actively encouraging the new concept by setting up Caravan Parks. Some of the routes for the caravan rides in the country include Delhi-Jaipur-Agra, Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Pushkar and Delhi-Sariska-Ranthambor. 
New Science College
TT, Siliguri, July 28: The new government science college near here will start classes for five undergraduate courses on August 23.
The college started distributing admission forms yesterday and they will be available till August 6.
“Admissions are open for physics, chemistry, botany, zoology and mathematics. Students can collect the forms from the college where they are being distributed from yesterday till August 6. The submission of the applications should also be made before August 6,” said Niloy Roy, the officer-in-charge of the college affiliated to North Bengal University.
The institution at Matigara, 6km from here, was christened Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Government Science College at the suggestion of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
“The chief minister will inaugurate the college in the third week of August and he had proposed that the institution be named after famous scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy,” Asok Bhattacharya, the state minister for urban development and municipal affairs, had said last month.
The college will initially offer honours courses and accommodate 20 students in each stream.
“We are starting only BSc honours courses with an intake of 20 students for each of the five subjects. After the scrutiny of the applications, the merit list will be published on August 9. The first phase of the admission and counselling will be held on August 11. The second phase will be conducted on August 20 and the classes will commence on August 23,” said Roy.
The college is being constructed by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority at a cost of Rs 458.63 lakh and it is nearing completion.
Three teaching posts have been sanctioned for each of the five subjects.
“No fresh recruitment needs to be conducted for the college. The state has 18 government colleges and teachers will be transferred from there,” said the officer-in-charge. He added that the college was also planning to start computer courses from the next academic session.
The new institution will be the third to offer science courses in the Siliguri subdivision after Siliguri College and Surya Sen College . 
Kidnap whiff in missing trader
TT, Siliguri, July 28: A 29-year-old businessman of Jalpaiguri town went missing from Cooch Behar on Monday, sparking a speculation that he was abducted by militants.
However, Vikash Agarwal’s family said they had not received any ransom call yet.
A resident of Dinbazar, Vikash who deals in cotton had left home around 11am on July 26 for Cooch Behar to collect money from some traders. “Around 7.30pm, he called me and said he was on way to take the Delhi-bound Brahmaputra Mail and would reach Jalpaiguri Road station at night,” said Mahesh, his father, who runs a garments shop. The youth asked his father to pick him up at the station as the train would reach past midnight.
However, Mahesh could not find his son at the station when the train arrived around 2am. “I rang up his cellphone but it was out of reach,” the father said.
Yesterday morning, the family tried to contact Vikash again on his cellphone, but the phone was switched off. “We then filed a missing diary at Kotwali police station,” Mahesh said.
GRP Jalpaiguri Road and New Cooch Behar stations have not received any information on unnatural deaths or found bodies on the tracks since Vikash called up his father.
The incident has sparked a speculation of abduction among the businessmen, particularly after the resurgence of the KLO. “Over the past few months, the militant outfit, which was infamous for kidnapping traders for money in the early years of the decade, has turned active again. Last month a foiled attempt was made by the outfit to abduct a tractor dealer in Malda district,” a member of the Jalpaiguri District Merchants’ Association said.
But the Agarwals said they had not received any ransom call from anybody. “Nothing has come to us till now,” Mahesh said.
District police chief Anand Kumar said they did not have any information on abduction. “The family also has not intimated us about anything of that sort, like a phone call for ransom, to us. An investigation is on.”
Buy parking before wheels
TT: The result is huge traffic jams during rush hour.
Calcutta has a building rule that makes it mandatory for multistorey complexes to have parking spaces but the Sikkim rule is unique in that it addresses individual car buyers directly.
“There is no such restriction in India till date. But globally, there are a few countries where governments follow the same. If a government takes such a decision, people will need to comply,” said Jnaneswar Sen, vice-president (marketing), Honda Siel Cars India Ltd.
But Prabir Basu, member of the Bengal Consumer Protection Council, differed: “This new order can be challenged in a court of law and it is almost certain that it will be quashed. No one can impose restrictions on purchase of valid goods if the transaction is legal. Only, it has to be ascertained that the transaction is not prejudicial to the interest of the state. This means that if I am buying a vehicle to transport arms and ammunition to wage war against the state, the government can intervene. Otherwise, the buyer is king.”
The Sikkim motor vehicles department official said the right to purchase vehicles “does not mean the vehicle owners should be creating problems for the public by parking their vehicles in public places”. “The owners must have a proper parking place, especially for the night.”
Mandeep Singh Tuli, the superintendent of police (East), said traffic police would formulate guidelines to implement the notification in Gangtok and the urban areas around it. “The notification aims to encourage people to have parking spaces in their houses. Parking along roads is not advisable.”
In the hills, car owners often park along the road and walk to their houses, which may be located higher up or lower down, because the gradient does not permit them to drive the whole way. Only people who live along NH31A or other state roads have the luxury of parking spaces in front of their houses.
So, the new notification has been met with dismay. “It is unfair and unjust. If I don’t have a parking place since I live away from approachable roads, does that mean I can’t purchase a vehicle for the use of my family?” asked a government employee who has had to put on hold plans to buy a small car.
Another prospective buyer said: “We understand that the government is trying to ease congestion. But where is the parking space in Gangtok? Make changes to ease the traffic but give us the opportunity to buy vehicles and give us parking space. We are ready to pay charges.”
In Calcutta, the municipal corporation allows cars to be parked on roads from midnight to 6am for a fee. The charges range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000, depending on the locality. Gangtok also has some paid parking lots along the highway.
A Gangtok resident complained that the government was trying to ape developed countries. London, Stockholm and several other western cities charge a congestion fee from motorists entering the city centre while others such as Athens have introduced number plate restrictions based on the days of the week.
Car dealers are worried about losing business in Sikkim and plan to meet the government to find out how the rule is to be implemented.
Guru T. Ladakhi, owner of Entel Motors that sells Maruti cars in Gangtok, said: “How can you tell your customer to get a parking space certificate first and then buy a car? The sales will be affected as most of our clients do not have parking space of their own.” Entel Motors sells 20-25 vehicles on an average every week.
Pramod Dalmia of Sikkim Motors, a Mahindra dealer with a weekly sale of 15-20 vehicles, said: “Our fear is that bookings could be cancelled by those who do not have parking space.” They have 90 bookings.
The two dealers have received notices from the transport department directing them not to sell cars without first asking for the availability-of-parking-space certificate.
But S.N. Burman, the Maruti Suzuki commercial business head in the country, said: “Any such restriction would definitely have an initial impact on consumer sales. But going forward, nothing could stop consumers from buying cars. In a few months, people will be used to it and buy cars complying with the rules.”
The state’s dealers are worried that customers could go around the notification by buying cars in Bengal.
“What will now happen is that people will go to Siliguri, buy a car there, get it registered under the West Bengal government and bring it here,” a dealer said. “In the long run, the state government will lose out on revenue, the dealers will lose business and the people here will have to go through the draining process of getting their vehicles registered under the West Bengal government.”
The government should instead use the money collected in taxes to build infrastructure, including parking lots, they suggested.
Sumanta Sen, TT: he hills of Darjeeling are approaching the autumn tourist season. It is time for hoteliers to spruce up their establishments and tour operators to work out new packages. All that is par for the course. So is the feeling of uncertainty that has become a part of life since the demand for a separate Gorkhaland was renewed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The difference this year is that after ruling the roost for two years, the GJM is facing a united opposition from the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The GJM is no longer the only representative force of the hill people. Of course that was never the case, but it had succeeded in creating a kind of frenzy that had caused all other parties to fade away. The killing of Madan Tamang has altered the situation. Today, the ABGL is able to muster the courage to organize a relay fast at the Mall, braving the GJM’s threats.
This change in the scenario may appear to be healthy to political observers. That may well be the case, but it also has the potential of deepening the ever lurking sense of uncertainty. Since its inception, the GJM has made it abundantly clear that it is not prepared to tolerate any opposition, and it will be a miracle if it now changes its ways and accepts the fact that in a democracy there will always be more than one player. The outfit has already threatened the hills with fresh spells of agitation, and any resistance from the others may well see kukris flashing again.
Make no mistake about it; the cadre of other parties have lain low for so long because their leaders were waiting to see how things would turn out. Tamang’s killing and the revulsion that it has generated in the hills have emboldened them to take their opposition to the streets.
Fluid state
The uncertainty also stems from another factor. Barring the CPI(M), the other rivals of the GJM are not opposed to Gorkhaland.They are only opposed to the manner in which the GJM has gone about demolishing its rivals in its march towards its goal. So, at some stage, the ruling Marxists will have to stop making common cause with the GJM’s opponents and target the ABGL and the CPRM. The possibility of this happening is very real: there has never been any love lost between these parties and the Marxists. Waiting in the wings is Subash Ghisingh, who cannot be expected to remain idle in a situation such as this.
The GJM, most certainly, is not the only spokesperson of the hill people. It would have been ideal if the other parties managed to forge an alliance, but right now that seems impossible. The CPI(M) knows it, and perhaps the reason why it wanted the recent tripartite meeting to be postponed was that it needed time to create a platform that is acceptable to the anti-GJM forces. That, however, will take time. And the longer it takes, the greater the possibility of the anti-GJM forces falling out among themselves.
The Centre does not seem to be aware of the complexities in the hills. Unless, of course, it has decided that the political map of Darjeeling needs to be redrawn. Or perhaps it wants things to go on like this till next year’s assembly elections in the hope that the new dispensation, which may take over, will not be hostile to the idea of a Gorkhaland.
Whatever may be the Centre’s line of thinking, by holding talks with only the GJM, it is antagonizing a sizeable section in the hills. The more these people feel left out, the higher will be their resentment. This will also magnify the threat to peace in Darjeeling which is what tourists as well as the local people are looking forward to eagerly. 
‘The CPM is slandering our movement’
Darjeeling’s new hero Bimal Gurung tells ASESH SENGUPTA of Tehelka .com, the CPM is the real obstacle to Gorkhaland
How come one organises support for a reality show participant from a community and manages to be a leader of a nationality movement?
These are different issues. The people of the hills have a genuine demand, and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leadership betrayed them. Prashant Tamang (the Indian Idol winner) has nothing to do with it. The people of Darjeeling just wanted someone from their region to win a popular television show. The demand for Gorkhaland, on the other hand, is a very old one and affects everyone’s life here.
What makes this new phase of agitation for Gorkhaland different from the one led by Subhas Ghising in the 1980s?
The first phase of the movement was a violent one. The present movement is based on the principle of non-violence. We don’t think that in this age of information technology there is any need to resort to violence to achieve our goal. Though the CPM, through their frontal organisations such as the Jana Chetana Mancha, the Jana Jagaran Mancha, etc, is trying to instigate us, we need to be patient. We don’t want to give them scope to depute security forces in the hills. Once we get violent, they will immediately use it as an excuse to deploy the army. If you noticed, not a single person has been killed in the eight months of our movement.
What about the demand to include Siliguri and the Dooars in your new map of Gorkhaland?
This demand was always there. It is nothing new.
You went for an indefinite strike, relaxed it and then extended the relaxation again. Why? Aren’t you confident?
We relaxed the strike just to honour the Governor’s letter. Why would we lack confidence? We know that the people are with us. Just wait for a few days and watch what happens once we resume the strike.
Aren’t you afraid of losing support of the working people, especially the daily-wage earners working in the tea gardens? Why should the common people support you?
We have gathered our funds mostly from the working classes. We have asked them to stock their rations for 45 days. Yes, there will be problems, but we will make plans for helping the needy and speak to the people to make them understand why the problems are necessary.
Do you really think the UPA government can agree to your demands, given that it is at the mercy of the Left?
Why should we bother? It is our democratic demand. The way the CPM is trying to portray our movement is slander. We know our demands are within the Constitution and we will continue our movement unless they are met.
You have declared that you will get Gorkhaland by 2010. Is it due to an expectation that the NDA will be in power then and given the experience of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal, you will achieve Gorkhaland?
Why should I disclose organisational understandings to you? We might be in dialogue with each and every political party in India. But we will be rigid in our demand for Gorkhaland, whoever be in the Centre.
Madan Tamang ~ the brave heart of Darjeeling (1948 ~ 2010) 
by Bappaditya Paul
Madan Tamang – the president of the All India Gorkha League assassinated during a public meeting in Darjeeling on 21 May, was a towering political persona who always stood for democratic values in the Darjeeling Hills.
A rare brave-heart that he was, Tamang was the only politician in Darjeeling, who could dare posing a challenge to Mr Subash Ghisingh, during the latter’s heyday in the 1980s. And keeping up with the same legacy, Tamang was also vehemently opposed to the “authoritarian” functioning of current Hills strongman – the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha cfief Mr Bimal Gurung  ~ whom he considered “a brute prototype of Ghisingh”.
Madan Tamang was born on 1 June 1948 to Manbahadur Tamang and Lima Tamang at Meghma village near Manebhanjang in Darjeeling. He received schooling at the St Robert’s School in Darjeeling and then graduated in humanties from the St Joseph’s College at North Point in Darjeeling town.
Instead of running after jobs, he than entered into the tea trade and soon established himself as a prominent businessman in the Hills. Later, he also laid hand in the wine business and earned fame for dishing some of excellent beverages from Darjeeling.
Tamang began his political career by joining the AIGL in 1969 and rose to become the general secretary of the party between 1972 and 1981. During the period he simultaneously headed the AIGL’s youth front called the Tarun Gorkha and carried out agitation for the creation of a separate state in Darjeeling.
Following differences with fellow leaders, Tamang quit from the AIGL in 1981 and floated a new party called the Pranta Parishad with the single-point agenda of a separate statehood for the Darjeeling Gorkhas.
But in 1990, he dissociated himself from the Pranta Parishad and formed the Gorkha Democratic Front (GDF) on 14 July that year. In 2001, the GDF merged with the AIGL and Tamang became the all India president of the party ~ a post that he was occupying until his aberrant death.
In his persistent endeavors for the restoration of democracy in the Hills, Tamang was instrumental in the formation of the latest eight-party collation called the Democratic Front in Darjeeling on 8 May this year, posing a direct challenge to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha of Bimal Gurung.
Unable to trample his firm democratic voice, the brute and vested forces chose to kill Tamang in broad daylight, ironically, at a time when he was about to address a peaceful public meeting ~ a well-established democratic means in India.
For many, who knew and revered Madan Tamang, his assassination marked the murder of democracy in the Queen of Hills ~ Darjeeling.
(The author is a scribe with The Statesman, India and this piece originally appeared in The Statesman on 22 May 2010)
Darjeeling At The Crossroads
by Bappaditya Paul
WHEN Franklin Prestage laid the railway tracks to Darjeeling Hills in 1879, in order to conquer the insurmountable steep incline, he employed a unique technique called the ‘Z-reverse’.1
"The Statesman Festival 2009" published in October ‘Z-reverse’ is an ingeniously simple concept: while negotiating with the steep hill, the train climbs up a slope into a shunting neck and stops. It then backs up another steep incline reaching the other shunting neck higher up and there from, resumes the onward journey but at a higher level.
The inherent philosophy propelling the ‘Z-reverse’ technique is: when you cannot really move forward, better make a retreat and then find a new way ahead.
But for Franklin Prestige putting to use this commonsense, Darjeeling Hills would have never got to see the steam locomotives chugging at 7,400 feet above the sea level.
In 2005, Subash Ghisingh too, rightly embraced commonsense and reasoning when he agreed to the inclusion of Darjeeling Hills in the Sixth Schedule of Indian Constitution.
This was to facilitate a greater autonomy to Darjeeling, which has been demanding a separate statehood out of West Bengal.
A significant move it was. For, Ghisingh had been the man who had propagated the bloodstained Gorkhaland movement in the 1980’s. At that time, he acted like a stubborn leader, who did not dodge from the statehood demand until a large number of cadres were killed in the agitation.
Darjeeling got an autonomous governing body ~ the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), in 1988. DGHC was set up under a state Act. But Ghisingh realised the achievement came too costly against the massive bloodbath that the agitation had incurred.
Thus, when he got a second chance to bargain in 2005, instead of waging another bloody agitation over the statehood demand, his political maturity guided him to accept the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling.
Those in the know-how of the Sixth Schedule provisions would acknowledge, it was indeed going to be a remarkable step forward towards fulfilling Darjeeling’s aspiration for self-governance.2
More importantly, the achievement was coming without any fresh agitation on the ground or mindless insurgency, as has been the case with the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.
It was surely a compromise, but never the end of the statehood prospects. The simple reason being that the Constitution of India was not obliterating the clause pertaining to the creation of new states. Nowhere in the Constitution there is any implicit or explicit mention that an area governed under the Sixth Schedule, cannot become a full-fledged state in future.
But Ghisingh’s political rivals misinterpreted the implications of the Sixth Schedule status on Darjeeling and compelled the Union government to shelve the idea midway.
Bimal GurungThe common public in Darjeeling, who were discontent with Ghisingh for his inept handling of the DGHC and growing isolation from the masses, swallowed the misinformation campaign. The ‘king of Darjeeling’ was dethroned overnight.
But the political culture of hero-worshipping has not ended in Darjeeling. Only that now Ghisingh has been replaced with Bimal Gurung and the GNLF with the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha or the GJMM.

In the past one and half year of his political reign that commenced in October 2007, Gurung and his party have gifted Darjeeling unrest and anarchy, all but for the demanded Gorkhaland.
His achievement so far ~ stalling of the proposed Sixth Schedule status, dethroning and ousting Ghisingh and other GNLF leaders from the Hills and compelling the Union government in convening tripartite talks on the Darjeeling impasse.
All these are but negative achievements and have facilitated nothing other than coagulating Gurung’s control over the Hills. But negative achievements can hardly hold public sentiment to ransom for a prolonged period.
Had not Gurung imported the BJP stalwart Jaswant Singh to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling, by now, he would have probably found place in the political history of the Queen of Hills. Jaswant returning as a MP from Darjeeling has certainly extended the life span for the GJMM. But the NDA’s defeat has turned this extended breath completely useless.
Now, the GJMM has a friend in BJP that is only capable of paying lip service to Gorkhaland and an all-omnipotent foe called the Congress, which would not yield an inch to fulfill the statehood demand.
UPA government’s second-in-command, Pranab Mukherjee, has already made this clear and loud. As the GJMM leaders try to play down Mukherjee’s comments arguing that his is not the government, they are only living in self-denial for obvious political reasons.3
Jaswant Singh and Bimal GurungBut conceding the reality, ally BJP has already advised the GJMM to go slow on the statehood movement. BJP leaders have called for reformulating a long-drawn strategy, replacing the March 2010 deadline that Gurung has set for achieving Gorkhaland.

If the agitation goes the other way around, it is only obvious that the saffron party would distance itself from the GJMM. After all the BJP cannot act as parochial as the GJMM over the Gorkhaland issue, for unlike the latter, its political sphere is not limited to Darjeeling.
Also the BJP West Bengal unit is openly against the Gorkhaland demand and it is a signatory to the all-party motion adopted by the state Assembly ruling out any further division of Bengal.4
Given the scheme of things, the obvious question now is ~ what can happen to Darjeeling? How can Darjeeling be freed of the suffocating state that it has slipped into?
To be candid, the probability of statehood is bleak, at least in the near future.
This is not only because West Bengal would do the last thing but part with Darjeeling. But the Union government too would not concede the demand, because, granting statehood to the Darjeeling district (even ignoring the fact that Siliguri is dead against the Gorkhaland demand), would surely open up a floodgate.
Subash GhisingEvery other district or region in India that represents one community or the other would start claiming statehood and there would be no end to it. The statehood demands for Telegana, Vidharva, Bundelkhand, Bodoland and several others are already active.
Bimal Gurung may stay adamant and shutdown the Darjeeling Hills for months, but that can hardly compel the UPA government to treat Darjeeling as a special case.

Gurung’s outfit has raised a voluntary youth force ~ the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP), which is being imparted physical training by ex-Army men. The GLP are equipped with batons, as of now.
Some 4000-odd GLP cadres have already been deployed in the Hills to ensure “public discipline” during the shutdowns called over Gorkhaland demand. There are also reports of the GLP confiscating illegal liquor and so on.5
But to think of waging an armed rebellion in the coming days, so to pressurise the Union government concede the statehood for Darjeeling, would prove irresponsible and futile. The immediate instance is the Bodoland insurgency in Assam. In the past one-decade or so, hundreds of Bodo militants have died in pursuance of the statehood agitation but have achieved nothing.
GLP cadres on patrol
Moreover, waging insurgency over political demands only allows the authorities to take a military approach on the pretext of national security. Darjeeling’s geographical proximity to Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China would only bolster the approach further.

The bottom line is until and unless the Union adopts a holistic approach towards the active statehood demands or constitutes another State Reorganising Committee as is being suggested from several quarters, Darjeeling attaining statehood is completely an improbable proposition.
Under these circumstances, the best option before Gurung is to renegotiate the Sixth Schedule status that he had denounced earlier. Gurung can ask for some Darjeeling specific amendments in the Sixth Schedule clause and there should not be any problem for the Union government to concede.
By doing so, Gurung would be in a position to convince his followers that there is much difference between the Sixth Schedule of Ghisingh and the one that he has negotiated.
But if Gurung really feels serious about this, he will have to act fast. Fast enough before the Opposition overpowers the current Left Front government in West Bengal in 2011. It is now almost apparent that in the 2011 Assembly polls, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul would dethrone the Left Front from Writers’.
Once that happens, it would be truly difficult for Gurung even to bag the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling, leave aside the demanded statehood. For, new into power, Mamata would not take the risk of annoying the majority sentiment in the state, which is evidently against granting any further autonomy to Darjeeling.
Moreover, considering that CPI-M is likely to play the role of a well-informed and organised Opposition, Mamata would be excessively cautious to avoid any criticism projecting her as an “anti-Bengal” element from the parochial point of view. Being an important ally of the UPA, Trinamul would also keep the Centre at bay from meddling into the affair.
Gorkhaland agitationThis means Darjeeling would have no other option but to wait till 2016, if not more.

Hence, the best time for Gurung to negotiate the Darjeeling issue (even if as an interim measure) is right now. The more closer the state gets to the 2011 Assembly elections, the less inclined the Left Front government would be to grant Darjeeling the Sixth Schedule autonomy. This is irrespective of the fact that the state government was in agreement to this effect.
Even on accepting a renegotiated Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling, Gurung can still carry forward the campaign for Gorkhaland in conjunction with other statehood demands like the Telengana. The focus of such a united campaign would be to bring about a policy direction in the Indian Union, vis-à-vis the creation of new states.

There is another option though. That is, instead of accepting the Sixth Schedule arrangement, Gurung can allow the existing autonomous council ~ the DGHC to function, while sustaining the statehood campaign simultaneously. This would however, prove less remunerative for Bimal Gurung, but that’s how politics progress.
Bimal GurungMany a times, one needs to halt back and employ the ‘Z-reverse’, keeping an eye on the steep incline. After all politics is seldom a straight drive.
1.Souvenir, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 125 Glorious Years, 2006, CPRO, NF Railway, Guwahati.
2 VI Schedule, The Constitution of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India.
3 Pranab rules out Gorkhaland demand, The Statesman, North Bengal & Sikkim Plus, Dt. 20 July 2009.
4 Bengal BJP flays Jaswant Gorkhaland stand, says will hit party, The Indian Express, New Delhi, Dt 20 July 2009.
5 Morcha displays ‘seized’ liquor, The Telegraph, North Bengal & Sikkim, Dt. 7 August 2009.
[The author is a senior journalist with The Statesman (India), currently based at Siliguri and has been reporting on the Darjeeling fiasco since 2005. This article originally appeared in The Statesman Festival Number 2009]