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Friday, July 9, 2010

GNLF steps in Kalimpong...Youth of Mirik dies in Delhi.. Tamta's wife joins fray ....No talks threat...Plan to revive quinine Unit

KalimNews, July 9: Ex GNLF Councillor and President of GNLF Kalimpong Branch Committee arrived in Kalimpong with his family  and some aids this morning and will be staying here  with the protection of Kalimpong Police. He said he will stay here in his home which was burnt down allegedly by GJMM supporters.
It is reminded that he had applied to the National Human Rights Commission tor his safe return and the Commission in return had directed the Home secretary and State police department to provide enough safety and security for return of all GNLF cadres who were forced to flee from the Darjeeling hills. 
He has returned to Kalimpong after two years when his house was torched on 29th July 2008. 
In Darjeeling BJP District Committee General Secretary Narayan Chhettri and 18 members of BJP members resigned from the party and joined Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League. 
Ex-GNLF man back at hill home- Peaceful return for Dawa after two years

TT, Kalimpong, July 9: Former GNLF leader Dawa Pakhrin returned home here early this morning after nearly two years of exile in Siliguri and vowed to continue his fight for the creation of Gorkhaland.
Pakhrin’s return without resistance is in sharp contrast to the situation till two months back when the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s writ ran largely in the hills.
Pakhrin, a former Kalimpong unit president of Subash Ghisingh’s party, was among hundreds of GNLF supporters who had been hounded out of the hills by Morcha activists. His house was ransacked and partially burnt by Morcha supporters on July 26, 2008, forcing his family to flee to Siliguri.
The former GNLF leader’s homecoming was peaceful largely because of the Morcha’s new tactics of lying low after the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang on May 21.
Pakhrin, along with wife and domestic helps, moved into his house with a huge lawn at the Hill Top locality at 6am. “I am back at home after two years. I had left the place on July 26, 2008,” he told journalists.
“My appeal to all would be to put up a united fight for Gorkhaland. Otherwise, we will fail in our efforts. Burning down houses and chasing out people is not the right way to achieve our goal. We must do it in a peaceful manner,” he said.
Pakhrin had resigned as the Kalimpong unit president of the GNLF three months ago and yesterday, he severed all ties with the party.
Pakhrin said he had sacrificed his political guru (GNLF president) in favour of Gorkhaland, which he said was mother to him. “Ghisingh continues to stick to Sixth Schedule, but I am a firm believer of Gorkhaland. I will continue to fight for Gorkhaland,” he said.
Asked if the GNLF had made a mistake by negotiating for Sixth Schedule status for the hills, Pakhrin said maybe it was okay then (when Ghisingh was DGHC chief) as it was being seen only as a stepping stone towards statehood.
The former GNLF leader, however, asked the Morcha not to negotiate for anything less than Gorkhaland.
“Telengana has always stuck to the single point demand of a separate state. Those demanding Uttarakhand also did not waver, and eventually succeeded. We must show the same resolve,” he added.
Pakhrin said he was able to return home at the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, which had directed the state government to ensure his safe passage. “We had approached the commission as I desired to return home. Sometime back, the commission wrote to the state chief secretary and the director general police, asking them to ensure my safe return. When I reached here this morning, government and police officers were present,” he added.
A police picket has been posted at Pakhrin’s house for his security.
Even though Pakhrin refused to say if other exiled GNLF leaders would return to the hills like him, observers said such a possibility could not be ruled out. “If Pakhrin manages to settle down, others will definitely return to the hills. We cannot rule out the hand of the state government in Pakhrin’s return. The Morcha has been on the back foot since Madan Tamang’s murder, and ever since, the government has been on a mission to cut the party down to size. Promises of development and jobs, enforcement of rule of law, drive against corruption, and now the return of the Morcha opponents. The government for sure has been on an overdrive,” said an observer.
Youth of Mirik dies in Delhi 
KalimNews:Life came to a complete standstill for Mr. Krishna Mani Thapa, resident of (R/O) Singbull Dara Goan, P.O. Phugri (Mirik) Darjeeling when he received a message on 6th July 2010, at about 2 AM that his one and only son Asthik Thapa, aged 22 yrs, who was the sole bread earning member of his family passed away. Asthik had come to Delhi in Jan 2009 and he was working as a domestic helper with Rakesh Agarwal, R/O A/140 – Surajmall Vihar, Delhi - 110092. At around 09:30 PM on 5th July his dead body was found hanging at the residence of Rakesh Agarwal, Anand Vihar, Delhi. No suicide note was found on the spot. Asthik is survived by his ailing parents and three younger sisters back home in Darjeeling.
Mr. Krishna Mai Thapa arrived in Delhi on 6/07/2010 and sought help from the GJM representatives of Delhi unit. On receiving the information a team of members headed by Mr. Ashok Biswa (President GJM Delhi) comprising of Ranjan Sharma, Pankaj Chettri, Robin Pradhan (GJYM) and Mrs. Anu Lahaber (Nari Morcha) visited the site of the incident. On observing the site where the alleged hanging took place and keeping in view the major contradictions in the narration of sequence of events given by the family members of Mr. Rakesh Agarwal, some foul play and a hidden conspiracy behind the incident cannot be ruled out completely.
“My son was a charming, jolly, ambitious and a sincere boy. Under no circumstances can my son commit suicide. He was my only son and his sudden death is the biggest loss of my life. My son’s death does not seem to be a case of suicide; he has become a victim of criminal conspiracy” said Mr. Thapa shedding tears.
Mr. Ashok Biswa said that the post mortem report and the police investigation report are awaited. He said “We demand a thorough and transparent examination into the matter and if there is any foul play, we will seek help from our MP and take appropriate action against the accused persons.” Advocate Ranjan Sharma, Legal Advisor of GJYM said that “It is too early to jump into any conclusions at this stage, however if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention to cause death then we will instantly register an FIR and initiate a criminal complaint for murder and criminal conspiracy against the accused persons...The rule of law of the country should be upheld and it has to be equally accessible to the Gorkhas as well”.
Mr. Pankaj Chhetri said that “This in not the first incident in the capital city wherein a helpless and a marginalized citizen belonging to the Gorkha community have been a victim of violence, torture and humiliation by their employers. We are open to cooperate with the police and other authorities but we seek some transparency into this investigation and appropriate action against the perpetrators”.
Anu Lahabar of Nari Morcha reiterated the importance of taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the innocent Gorkhas coming from Hills to earn bread and butter in Delhi. She was much worried about the treatment meted out on girls from North-East by the people of Delhi.
The GJM unit of Delhi has been very vigilant, cooperative and has actively contributed in helping and rendering assistance by all possible means to the underprivileged Gorkhas who have been victims of cruelty and major atrocities in the capital city. There have been numerous instances in the past when the GJM Delhi including the GJYM Youth brigade of Delhi have rendered priceless assistance by helping those who have come all the way from the hills to earn their livelihood in the capital city (news shared by Pankaj Chhetri) .
Tamta's wife joins fray
Sabyaachi Bandhopadhyay, IE, Kolkata:Former inspector general of north Bengal Kundan Lal Tamta’s wife has joined the warpath tread by her husband against West Bengal’s top cop Bhupinder Singh.
Anindita Banerjee Tamta has written to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, accusing the director general of police of “tormenting her and her family” and even alleging Singh had “sabotaged” her husband’s investigations into the murder of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang. She has said 40 to 42 people arrested after the murder were released.
The letter to Bhattacharjee on June 28 mentions Anindita and her children had gone through “trauma and agony” because of DGP Singh’s attitude towards the IG. She has said she will move all forums to protest the DGP’s behaviour.
Tamta’s relations soured with the DGP after his transfer order was out mid-June, bringing him from north Bengal to IG, planning. The local CPM unit, led by Urban Development minister Ashok Bhattacharya, had lobbied for him to be retained in his last post. Tamta had also made a similar request to Home Secretary Samar Ghosh. The request, however, was turned down and the officer joined duty on Thursday as adviser, security and vigilance, West Bengal Electricity Distribution Company. 
Meanwhile, at her Taltola school for streetchildren on Friday, Anindita told The Indian Express : “In order to show Tamta in poor light, the DGP sabotaged the investigation into the murder of Madan Tamang. There was no violence after Tamang’s death and my husband had efficiently handled the situation. Several people were arrested but the DGP instructed an additional superintendent of police to release them. I will leave no stone unturned to get justice. I will write to the governor, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Women’s Commission to put forth my husband’s humiliation.” 
Anindita Tamta, in the letter, has said the DGP had called Tamta and abused him in front of her several times.
She said he called Tamta on January 1 this year and told him he would be posted where he would not be given work. She also received a call from the DGP’s residence on June 22 and someone told her that Tamta could not be traced in north Bengal. “The constable told me the DGP wanted to know the whereabouts of my husband. I was scared and told him it was easier for the DGP to find out. Why did he drag me into an official matter?” Anindita said.
After my husband had written to the home secretary asking to stay on in north Bengal, the DGP held a press conference and discussed the details of the letter in public. He also said Tamta would be punished for that. Singh said Tamta was no Rambo. Is that the right language a senior cop should use? Everyone except the GJM wanted Tamta to stay on in the hills,” she said.
A visibly irritated DGP retaliated. He said it was unfortunate an officer of an IG rank could use his wife to hurl accusations at him. Singh said: “If an individual makes an allegation, he or she is free to do it. I do not want to comment on that. But why didn’t the IG want to leave after spending more than two years at a place? Does he have vested interests there?”’ Singh told The Indian Express .
Home Secretary Samar Ghosh refused to comment.

Plan to revive quinine Unit
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, July 9: The directorate of cinchona and other medicinal plants has chalked out a Rs 51-crore revival plan for the quinine factory at Mungpoo in a move to make the biggest public sector undertaking in the hills sustainable.
The plan has already been submitted to the state government. “The government is currently examining the Rs 51 crore proposal. We are also preparing a report to restart the grinding unit of the factory,” Gyan Chandra Subba, the director of the cinchona plantation, told The Telegraph.
The factory’s grinding unit has been closed for decades and its revival is expected to cost the state exchequer around Rs 30 lakh.
“It may take time to completely revive the quinine factory but if we can start the operations, a good inflow of revenue is expected,” said Subba.
The factory has been defunct for at least 10 years.
The cinchona plantation — only one of its kind in the country — is the biggest public undertaking in the hills, providing sustenance to around 40,000 people. However, the plantation is forced to sell dried cinchona bark because of the closure of the factory and it is running at an annual loss of Rs 2 crore.
“The cinchona barks are sold at Rs 100 per kg but if the grinding unit is revived, we can at least produce quinine powder which will fetch prices ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000,” said Subba.
The quinine factory was set up in 1875 to produce quinidine and quinine sulphate. Quinidine is widely used in cardiac ailments. The quinine, which is extracted from cinchona barks, is used in anti-malaria treatment and is an ingredient in sun-lotions, restorative tonic and insecticides.
The plantation is spread over 26,000 acres at Mungpoo and Latpanchar in Kurseong subdivision and at Munsong and Rongo in Kalimpong subdivision.
Sources in the horticulture department, under which the directorate falls, said the plantation had around 100 tonnes of cinchona barks lying in its godown. “It is not necessary to peel off cinchona barks annually and hence, the plantation still has a lot of standing crop. There are enough barks to run the factory for another 10 years,” said a source.
According to a government report, the plantation can yield five-seven tonnes of cinchona barks and the defunct factory has an installed capacity to produce around 14-15 tonnes of quinine annually.
No threats for talks
TT, Calcutta, July 8: The state government today indicated there would not be any tripartite talks on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s separate state demand unless normality was restored in the hills.
“They (the Morcha) are calling prolonged bandhs and then demanding tripartite talks. This can’t be accepted,” home secretary Samar Ghosh said.
The Morcha had threatened a 40-day strike in the hills from next month if the date for the talks was not announced immediately. 
University buys time
TT,Santiniketan, July 9: Visva-Bharati’s Trinamul-led student union today “temporarily withdrew” its ongoing indefinite strike claiming the authorities had agreed to reconsider the recent fee hike.
“We will continue our dialogue,” vice-chancellor Rajat Ray said. But union president Shanku Deb Panda threatened to resume the agitation if the fees were not cut “in a week”.
Gnaw speed spurs panic- 350 metres eaten away by Mahananda in a week
TT, Siliguri, July 9: About 350 metres of the Mahananda’s embankment on the outskirts of Siliguri town has been eroded by the river in the past one week.
At this speed, residents of Ward 42 fear, it will be only a few hours before the river enters the locality with a population of 1,000.
The river had already eaten away 300 metres of the embankment in the past one week and another 50 metres was washed away this morning, said Uday Sengupta, the assistant engineer of the irrigation department’s Siliguri division. He added that the nearest house was only eight metres away.
The official, however, said there was no fresh erosion after the one in the morning. “The erosion is making work on the embankment difficult.” The irrigation department is trying to strengthen the embankment with boulders and iron net, Sengupta said. “We have identified the danger zone in Kamalanagar and are trying to dig a channel between the embankment and the riverbed 300 metres upstream so that the water pressure downstream reduces by about 30 per cent.”
The department has asked the government for Rs 35 lakh from the calamity relief fund.
“The erosion has created panic in Kamalanagar, Vivekanandanagar and a part of Salugara. If it is not checked immediately, thousands of residents will be affected by the swollen river,” said Dilip Singh, the councillor of Ward 42
Bapi Das, a resident of Kamalanagar, said: “Only this morning we lost 50 metres of the embankment. At this rate, we may lose our land and houses to the river in a few hours.”
The swollen river prompted the councillor and Siliguri mayor Gangotri Datta to SOS the irrigation department. The mayor, who visited the spot yesterday, said: “We are prepared with a relief team.”
Till this morning, 74mm rainfall had been recorded in Siliguri. According to the Met office, heavy rainfall is likely to continue for the next 24 hours in the sub-Himalayan Bengal.
Night track scan to rise- Pilot train at 30-minute interval, leash on speed
TT, Alipurduar, July 9: The Northeast Frontier Railway has decided to run pilot engines more frequently at night between Alipurduar and New Bongaigaon stations after an explosion derailed the Garib Rath Express yesterday.
“We are getting information from police and intelligence sources that the threat of subversive activities is still present in the area. So we have decided to run pilot engines and motorised trolley cars at a gap of 30 minutes, instead of one hour, between Alipurduar and New Bongaigaon, 110km away,” said Indrajit Singh, the additional divisional railway manager here. It has also been decided to restrict the speed of long-distance trains to 40km per hour.
The NFR has been running the pilot engines between the two stations from 8pm to 7am everyday for the past 15 days.
As there is no alternative route, trains have to be run at night and so special measures have to be taken. “However, if the police in Bengal and Assam ask us to stop the running of trains at night, we will not hesitate to do so,” Singh said.
The divisional security commissioner of Alipurduar, Anjar Toppo, iterated that the threat from militant outfits like the NDFB and Ulfa was still there.
“We are in constant touch with the police and have recommended the running of trains at reduced speed at night. The police have been deployed to keep watch on bridges and culverts in the sensitive areas and to sensitise villagers so that they inform the security personnel if they come across anything suspicious,” Toppo said.
He said electrical wires were recovered from the site of yesterday’s derailment which means that the improvised explosive devise was not remote-controlled. “Quite a few people were there at the spot when the explosion was triggered.”
Even 36 hours after yesterday’s derailment, the restoration of tracks is yet to be completed at Babubill in Gossaigaon causing the late running of trains through the single line. “The work is going on in full swing and it should be completed by this evening,” Singh said.
According to sources at the NFR, four of the 19 injured passengers are still in hospital. The driver of the train, who suffered a serious injury, on the hand had been shifted to the railway hospital in Calcutta.
Civic swindler arrested
TT, Siliguri, July 9: An employee of the Jalpaiguri municipality was arrested today on the charges of misappropriating over Rs 11 lakh from the old-age pension fund.
An internal audit of the civic body discovered that Kushal Chakraborty, a clerk responsible for disbursing old-age pension, had misappropriated the money between April 1, 2006 and September 22, 2009. The irregularities were first reported in a Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report in October 2009. “Chakraborty could not give any satisfactory reply to a showcause notice served in March,” said Goutam Das, the municipality’s legal adviser. He was suspended on April 24.
Chief judicial magistrate of Jalpaiguri S. Sengupta remanded him in judicial custody for 14 days.

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