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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gurung confident of successful talks.......Protest forum formed for July 24 talks...Desist from blocking Highway, court direct Gorkha protestors... Rival unions join hands

- Morcha refuses to discuss strikes as ‘government will play on announcement’ 
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Kurseong, July 20: Bimal Gurung today insisted that a “successful” tripartite discussion would be held as scheduled on July 24 despite the state government conveying its reservations about the meeting to the Centre.
The hills, however, are still in a state of uncertainty as derailment of the meeting could lead to a spate of strikes that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had already announced.
Playing his cards close to his chest, Morcha president Gurung refrained from announcing any decision on the strikes, which he had threatened to call from July 25 and will culminate with a 40-day shutdown from the first week of August.
“I will not say anything about the agitation now, as the government will play on the announcement,” said Gurung, while addressing a public meeting at Kurseong that was virtually shut today. Even the schools were closed. Local people said posters had appeared in town saying all teachers should attend the meeting.
Gurung said the meeting would not only be held but “would be a success also. We will send a big delegation to the meeting this time”.
“There is peace in the hills and the Centre must not derail talks because of the letter from Bengal,” said Gurung. “The talks will take place whether the Bengal government or other political parties write to the Centre or not.”
Such was his confidence that Gurung even said one of the items on the talks agenda — apart from statehood — would be to press for the release of Chattrey Subba and his aides, who have been in jails since 2001 for an alleged attempt on GNLF president Subash Ghisingh’s life. “If Chattrey Subba is guilty, he should be punished but if he is innocent, why has he been languishing in jail for the past 10 years? The Bengal government scuttles Gorkhaland voices by sending them to jail,” he alleged.
Launching an attack on the rival camps, Gurung said: “If they want to attend the meeting, they can request us. We will include them in the delegation. If they want to become the next MLAs from the hills they can even write to me and we will ensure their victory but they should not derail our movement,” said Gurung on a sarcastic note.
Gurung even dared the government to arrest him. “If they have any records of phone conversation where I have categorically instructed people to kill Madan Tamang, then they should come up with the proof after which they can arrest me. If I am a murderer, I will not tell my supporters to agitate for my release. I have always believed in a democratic agitation,” said Gurung.
Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang alleged that the state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya had formed the Democratic Front along with ABGL chief Madan Tamang and the party’s working president Dawa Sherpa.
“On May 3, Asok Bhattacharya went to Sikkim suddenly (hinting that he had allegedly held a meeting with chief minister Pawan Chamling) and returned to Siliguri to hold talks with Madan Tamang. Later Bhattacharya also held parleys with Dawa Sherpa and with R.B. Rai of the CPRM in Siliguri. The investigators should also probe these meetings,” said Tamang.
KalimNews: Home Minister P Chidambaram requested Buddhadev Bhattachraya CM of West Bengal over phone to participate in the tripartite talks of 24th July, a Home Ministry source said.
Meanwhile ABGL organised a rally and public meeting in Sukhiapokhary. Sukhiapokhary was the birth place of different political parties like GNLF, Pranta Parishad and once a fortress of ABGL.
Asok blasts Centre over hill meeting 
TT, Siliguri, July 20: The Centre has “ignored” the sentiments of the hills by convening tripartite talks involving the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya today said, a day after the state government wrote to Delhi to defer the meeting.
Bhattacharya, who had represented the state government in the last round of political-level talks, said he would not be able to attend the tripartite meeting on July 24, the date announced by Delhi for the parleys, as he had to attend the party’s state committee meeting that day.
“By announcing the date of the next round of tripartite meeting with the Morcha on July 24, the central government has ignored the sentiment of the people of the hills. Moreover, the Centre did not bother to consult the state government or other political parties with a presence in Darjeeling,” Bhattacharya said at a media conference here. “Before finalising any date, the central government should have considered the fact that the Morcha has lost its support in the hills and no longer enjoyed the absolute right to decide the future of the hills. Keeping this in mind, the Centre should have called all other political parties and organisations of Darjeeling to the meeting,” he said.
Such announcement will only encourage the Morcha leaders, who have created an environment of terror in the hills by violating law and order, to resort to many more unlawful activities, the CPM MLA from Siliguri alleged.
In Writers’ Buildings, chief secretary Ardhendu Sen said the home secretary would attend the talks on July 24.
When pointed out that the discussions are supposed to be at the political-level and the presence of ministers is a must, Sen said health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra or minister for hill affairs Asok Bhattacharya would take part in the talks.
The chief secretary pleaded ignorance about reports that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had written to Union home minister P. Chidambaram to defer the talks. “I have no idea about such a letter,” Sen said.
According to a source in the chief minister’s secretariat, such a letter was sent but the state government doesn’t want to make it public to pre-empt the Morcha from misleading the hill people that the administration is averse to dialogues.
Bhattacharya said he was not aware what the state government’s stand would be if the meeting was held. “I cannot say whether representatives from the state will attend the meeting if the Centre goes ahead with it,” he said. “All I can say is that I won’t be able to attend the meeting as I have to attend our party’s state committee meeting the same day.”
The ball is now in the Centre’s court and it is for Delhi to decide, the minister said on whether the Union government would pay heed to the state’s request.
The CPM MLA took a dig at Congress and Trinamul Congress leaders for remaining “silent” over other hill outfits not participating in the talks. “When leaders from different political parties are vocal on the subject, it is unfortunate that Congress and Trinamul leaders are silent,” Bhattacharya said. 
Protest forum for July 24
tTT, Siliguri, July 20: Several outfits from the plains and the hills have formed a common platform to oppose the tripartite talks and request Delhi to defer it.
Two Naxalite outfits, the CPRM, the ABGL, the SUCI(C), the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Gorkhali Adivasi Welfare Samiti, Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Mancha and a few other outfits are part of the forum that is yet to be named.
“We might differ on issues like Gorkhaland or separate statehood but have come together since we have a consensus on some basic issues related to the hills,” said Abhijit Majumdar, the Darjeeling district secretary of the CPI-ML (Liberation). “All of us want the Centre to postpone the tripartite talks immediately. We demand arrest of all the culprits responsible for the murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang and the state government to take concrete measures to restore democracy and peace in the Darjeeling hills.”
This is the second anti-Morcha forum in Darjeeling district, the other one being the Democratic Front in the hills. Some of the front constituents like the ABGL are also members of the new forum.
“We have heard that the state government has written to the Union home minister, asking him to postpone the meeting. In Siliguri, the urban development minister has harsh words against the Morcha,” said Taramoni Rai, the spokesperson for the CPRM. “However, as no step has been taken against the accused including Morcha president Bimal Gurung who have been named in the FIR, we feel the state has a tacit understanding with the party. The so-called letters and harsh statements in front of the media are mere lip service.”
The forum, CPIM(L) leaders said, has already sent memorandums to the Prime Minister, Union home minister, chief minister and the governor, mentioning the demands. “Tomorrow, a delegation comprising leaders from all these parties will meet the district magistrate at his office in Darjeeling and submit another memorandum to him,” said Majumdar. “On July 23, we will organise a public meeting at Hashmi Chowk in Siliguri and on August 14, there will be a general convention in Siliguri on these issues. Similar conventions would be held in Darjeeling and Dooars but we are yet to fix the dates. We are also keeping a watch on hills and on the moves of the state and Centre. Accordingly, we will plan our programmes.”
Court order to GJM
HT, Delhi: Restraining Gorkhaland agitators from its proposed July 27 siege of a national highway, the economic lifeline of Sikkim, the Supreme Court on Monday directed issue of fresh contempt notices to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha President Bimal Gurung and Assistant Secretary Bimoy Tamangon. A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and AK Patnaik, terming the defiance of its earlier contempt notice as "a serious matter", said the fresh notices should be inserted in the Silguri editions of the "Statesman" and "Sikkim Express."
The apex court asked the alleged contemnors to respond within four weeks and said its earlier directions that there shall not be any siege of the National Highway 31 would continue to be operative.
The directions were passed after senior counsel P H Parekh, appearing for the petitioner O P Bhandari, submitted the two Gorkha leaders had refused to accept the notices served on them even though the apex court had issued contempt notices to them.
He submitted even while refusing to accept the contempt notices, the duo had given a call for a fresh siege of the Highway on July 27 in support of their demand for a separate Gorkhaland. The Supreme Court Monday asked the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to desist from blocking the National Highway-31A, which links Siliguri in West Bengal to Sikkim's capital Gangtok, during its proposed shutdown July 25.
The court has asked GJMM to 'strictly' adhere to its earlier direction to refrain from blocking the NH-31A during the course of its agitation.
The court said that the contempt of court notice issued on GJJM leaders Bimal Gurung and Binoy Tamang which they have declined to receive should be served on them by placing public notices in the Sikkim Express and the Darjeeling edition of The Statesman.
The apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice A.K. Patnaik also recorded the statement of the petitioner, O.P. Bhandari.
The court has directed all the respondents who have been served with contempt notice to file their reply within four weeks and gave two weeks time to the petitioner to file his rejoinder.
The senior counsel Pravin Parekh told the court that the central government has withdrawn the three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed for protecting the NH-31A and for the free flow of traffic.
The West Bengal government in its reply said that it was taking every step for the effective implementation of the court's direction for an uninterrupted movement of traffic on NH-31A.
It said that the CRPF was withdrawn by the union home ministry April 22, 2010 but was re-deployed June 15, 2010.
The State government's affidavit said that presence of CRPF was helpful in 'effectively' implementing the Supreme Court directions for free flow of traffic on National Highway 31A (NH 31A) during bandh call either by Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha and other anti-Gorkha agitation organizations.

Rival unions join hands for tea fight
TT, Siliguri, July 20: Trade union leaders from the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today met their counterparts from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and agreed to carry out a joint movement in the interests of tea workers, much to the chagrin of the tribal state committee top brass.
“We had invited all tea trade unions but only three, including the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union of the Morcha, attended today’s meeting,” said Sukra Munda, the chairman of the Parishad-affiliated Progressive Tea Workers’ Union. “Elaborate discussions were held and finally we agreed to form a joint committee. We will sit again on August 2.”
Today’s meeting came 10 days after regional leaders of the Parishad held parleys with the Morcha at Gorubathan in Kalimpong. The meeting had been disapproved by the tribal state leaders who had iterated that they would not join hands with the hill party.
On the meeting held at Pradhannagar here, Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha union, said: “The PTWU leaders proposed a joint committee which we agreed to. But we need to discuss it further, so another meeting has been fixed next month.”
“We want to form a separate platform with the PTWU and other trade unions. Let the apex bodies like the Defence Committee of Plantation Workers’ Rights or the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers continue their movement,” Subba said.
Tripartite talks
SNS, KOLKATA/KURSEONG, 20 JULY: The chief minister’s letter to the Union home minister over postponement of the tripartite meeting has not cut much ice with the Centre. The chief secretary, Mr Ardhendu Sen today said that the tripartite meeting will be held on 24 July as announced earlier and the urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya and health minister, Mr Suryakanta Mishra along with the state home secretary are expected to attend the meeting as state representative. However, Mr Bhattacharya said: “ I have heard that the Centre is insisting that the tripartite meeting should be held on the announced date but I can say this much that I am not going to attend the meeting under any circumstances.” The state government had taken the stand that the situation in the Hills is not conducive to holding tripartite talks. Meanwhile, GJMM president Mr Bimal Gurung said at a rally in Kurseong that the tripartite dialogue would be held as scheduled on 24 July.
PTI, New Delhi: Government has convened a tripartite meeting on Gorkhaland issue on July 24.
Representatives of Central and West Bengal governments and Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM) will participate in the meeting to carry forward the dialogue process on the issue of a separate state.
Sources said the issue of setting up an interim authority in Darjeeling for Gorkhas and its territorial jurisdiction is likely to come up for discussion.
Killing of rival Gorkha leader Madan Tamang, in which several GJM leaders were accused, may figure in the discussion.
Sources said as the Darjeeling hill council already enjoys Sixth Schedule status, proposal for anything more has to come from the West Bengal government.
However, it was not clear whether the Left Front government is keen to take such a political decision before the next year's assembly elections in the state.
Sources said both the Centre and the state governments were for limiting the proposed Darjeeling Regional Authority -- to just the hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
GJM, ever since its inception in 2007, has been demanding for a separate Gorkhaland state. West Bengal Urban Development Minister and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya had already said that the state government was against any further division of the state but it had no difference of opinion with the Centre over development of Darjeeling hills and making the hill council more powerful
Guru Trungkar Tsechu Sikkim observes patron saint’s birth anniversary
Prakha, Gangtok, 20 July:Monks and devotees including students from different schools in and around Gangtok took out a huge procession in the streets of Gangtok early this morning amid the chanting of ‘Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung Rhi’ marking the birth anniversary of the patron saint of Sikkim.The devotees also carried a newly sculpted life size statue of Guru Padmasambhava from Chorten Gonpa in a solemn procession. During a brief halt at the White Memorial Hall premise here,the Governor Balmiki Prashad Singh and the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling along with other dignitaries offered khadas and prayers on the statue of Guru Rinpoche.
Organised by Guru Trungkar Tsechu Committee and Sikkim Buddhist Duechen Organization, the procession started at 9 am from Chorten Gonpa, Deorali and took a round of the National Highway before departing to the monastery.Guru Padmasambhava is adored in Sikkim as the patron saint and is referred as Guru Rinpoche, the precious one. He is the founder of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet and the source of the Terma tradition of the Nyingmapa.He is also regarded as the second Buddha as rays of letter ‘hrhi’ descended from the heart of Buddha Amitabha into the north-western land of Oddiyana and onto the Dhanakosha Lake from which Guru Rinpoche was born in a lotus flower. Guru Rinpoche turned the wheel of sacred Vajrayana teachings. 
The Dakinis called out to him from their hearts forming the Vajra Guru Mantra – Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hung (I invoke you, the Vajra Guru Padmasambhava, by your blessings may you grant us ordinary and supreme spiritual fulfilment). Followers believe that he is still in the same body in Zangdogpalri, a manifested pure land in the center of the Camara sub-continent, and that he can be seen by realized people. The Guru Rinpoche Trungkar Tsechu was also celebrated at Mangan by the monks of Ringhem monastery and local devotees. Devotees lugged sacred Buddhist texts on their shoulders and made a parikrama from Ringhem to Mangan bazaar via Pentok.(Photo: Prakha)
If it’s drug, 10mg enoughSugar in drinks will mask taste change
GS Mudur, TT, New Delhi, July 20: Amid the struggle to fathom the cause of the rail accident at Sainthia, forensic medicine and pharmacology experts are speculating that sleep-inducing substances could explain the inaction of the Uttar Banga Express’s motormen.
Forensic toxicologists and pharmacology specialists say the investigators should examine the possibility that the motormen had either been intentionally drugged or had unknowingly consumed sleep-inducing substances.
Traditional herbal products as well as modern drugs may be used to put people to sleep, according to the experts who are not connected with the investigations.
“Just 10mg or 20mg of the drug called nitrazepam can put an adult to sleep within half an hour,” said Chandra Gulhati, a specialist in pharmacology, and editor of the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities, India, a journal on drugs.
The small quantity of the drug required to induce sleep makes it easy to be given through a drink — either tea or even a cold drink. “The taste won’t change, the sugar in the drink will mask any differences in taste,” Gulhati said.
“Extracts of Datura, a herb used in traditional medicine, are among the most common substances known to have been used in the past to drug fellow train passengers,” said B. Suresh Kumar Shetty, associate professor of forensic medicine and toxicology at the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore. “Datura acts on the central nervous system to induce an altered state of consciousness.”
Pharmacologists classify some Datura species as hallucinogenic — its compounds have been known to cause visual alterations and delirium. Three years ago, Israeli doctors had documented Datura-induced coma in two patients.
Herbal compounds could take half an hour to an hour or even longer to put a person to sleep, the experts said. The speed would depend on the identity of the substance, its concentration, and whether it is taken on an empty or a full stomach.
“Action would be delayed if it is taken with or shortly after a big meal,” Shetty said. Gastric emptying time is typically about four hours. “A sleep-inducing substance has fast action when taken on an empty stomach.”
Forensic medicine experts say an analysis of the viscera of the drivers during the post-mortem would help investigators determine what they had consumed before their train rammed into the Vananchal Express.
Human Error not Sabotage-DGP
Vananchal Express accidentShreecheta Das & Shiva Sahay Singh, IE, Kolkata:Investigators on Tuesday started gathering pieces of information that they believe could come in handy to get to the cause of train crash that killed 63 people in Birbhum district on Monday. Although early, DGP Bhupinder Singh said it did not look like a case of sabotage — a theory that floated immediately since Maoist rebels were earlier blamed for the Jnaneswari train crash in Bengal last month. The DGP said it rather appeared to be a case of human error.
“Prima facie it does not look like an act of sabotage. It looks like a human error or an act of negligence. However, for an answer we will have to wait for the report of the CID investigation,” DGP Singh said.
The CID probe was ordered on Tuesday by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee into the train crash at Sainthia station, about 190 km from Kolkata. Elaborating on it, DGP Singh said it was done since the accident, in which the Uttarbanga Express rammed the stationery Vananchal Express at high speed, involved victims from more than one state. 
“A passenger of the Vananchal Express who was injured in the accident filed an FIR at Sainthia GRP and it is on the basis of that complaint that CID inquiry was ordered. The charge that was slapped was negligent and rash driving on the part of the drivers of Uttarbanga Express. A CID team has already left for the spot for investigation,” he said.
Commissioner of Railway Safety R P Yadav is conducting a separate probe. He will hold a court of inquiry at Sainthia station on Wednesday where the guard of Uttarbanga Express has been asked to be present. The drivers of Vananchal Express, who are also crucial witnessess, are also expected to be present. A second hearing would be held at Howrah later where anyone would be allowed to depose.
Meanwhile, railway officials are looking into reports about the presence of a third person in the driver’s cabin of Uttarbanga Express.
He was also killed and, according to preliminary reports, he could be a third train driver who had actually taken leave and was coming home to Kolkata in the driver's cabin. He boarded the train either at Rampurhat or Malda, said officials.
According to railway officials inquiring into the accident, two factors have emerged strongly over others that could have caused the disaster. First, the extra 12-minute stoppage of Vananchal Express at the station even after it was given the green signal. Also, finally when it left, there was a chain pulling attempt to stop the train near the outer signal of Sainthia station. Three coaches of Vananchal were still within the platform when Uttarbanga ran into the train.
Railway sources said the signalling staff at Sainthia had actually given the green signal to Uttarbanga to roll into platform number 4, having asumed that Vananchal Express had rolled out and travelled a safe distance. When the Sainthia station master realised the signalling mistake, he made desperate attempts to alert the people about the speeding Uttarbanga Express over the public address system and urged people to move to safety.
The Commissioner of Railway Safety, however, refused to say anything when asked about the preliminary findings.
Railway drivers, who did not want to be named, told The Indian Express that the possibilty of the Uttarbanga drivers sleeping while on duty was remote. “The driver had stopped properly at Gangadharpur ahead of Sainthia and it was impossible for both of them to fall asleep within 7-8 minutes that the train took to cover the distance to Sainthia,” said a driver.
They also denied that the Uttarbanga Express could have been running at 80-90 kmph. They said that when Express or Mail trains enter stations where there is a stoppage, they at times do so at quite a high speed like 50-55 kmph. “There is absolutely no problem in controlling the train to a halt even at that speed,” said a driver at Sealdah station.
Earlier in the day, ADG, Railways Dilip Mitra met Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen and Home Secretary Samar Ghosh, and submitted a report on the accident. “We have given a report on the accident and the possible cause of it,” Mitra said.
Sudden Death
Death toll 63, 40 identified. Compensation Rs 5 lakh to kin of dead. State CID and Commissioner of Railway Safety (Eastern Circle) will probe the accident.Of 58,605 sanctioned safety posts in Eastern Railway 7,504 vacant

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