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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Morcha warning to state....With rivals for tea workers,....Common people find no rationale on 40 days strike call

Morcha note to CM: mind your minister State’s hill projects angers outfit- Asok and two officers accused of delaying talks
TT, Darjeeling, July 7: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has shot off a letter to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, complaining against minister Asok Bhattacharya and two senior officials of the region and hinting that their activities were delaying the party’s further talks with the Centre and the state.
However, at the same time Morcha president Bimal Gurung has instructed his party’s trade wing to attend a convention of apex bodies of tea trade unions that has Citu and Intuc as members.
The communication comes after the state urban development and municipal affairs minister started frequenting the hills following the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang. The murder had caught the Morcha leadership on the wrong foot.
“We have faxed a letter to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, saying that if the situation in the hills deteriorates then three persons — Asok Bhattacharya, B.L. Meena and K.L. Tamta — would be held responsible,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri. After Tamang’s murder on May 21, Tamta had openly indicted the Morcha for the killing. Even though the state government has recently announced Tamta’s transfer from north Bengal, he continues to function as the IG of north Bengal. DGHC administrator Meena had filed FIRs against the Morcha squad of volunteers for occupying government properties in the hills. Tamta had said there would be a crackdown on the squatters.
The Morcha also claimed that the sixth round of the tripartite talks on the statehood demand was scheduled for May 14, 2010, a week before Tamang was murdered. “Asok Bhattacharya has been constantly telling the media that the talks will not take place. He is knowingly trying to jeopardise the peace and our democratic movement,” alleged Giri at a news conference.
The party has threatened a 40-day strike in the hills early next month if the date for the talks is not announced immediately.
“The minister has suddenly started announcing development projects while Meena and Tamta are trying to lure the youths by promising them jobs under these schemes. We have written to the chief minister that we will not tolerate the activities of these two senior officers, who are bent on creating tension in the region,” said Giri.
Since Tamang’s murder, Bhattacharya, who is also the CPM MLA from Siliguri, has visited the hills twice. On June 25, while in Mungpoo, he promised to renovate and restore immediately the bungalow there where Rabindranath Tagore had spent some time. On July 2, he along with Meena had held a meeting in Darjeeling and announced funds for several development projects like slum development, road repair and the restoration of the lake in Mirik.
The Morcha leadership claimed that the issue of appointing 1,000-odd teachers in the primary and secondary schools in the hills had already been discussed with the state education minister. “Our education monitoring cell (body of representatives from the Morcha teachers and students wings) has discussed it but Bhattacharya is suddenly trying to extract a political mileage,” added Giri. Bhattacharya had said in Darjeeling that the appointments would be made within two months, which the Morcha claims is impossible. “We have talked to the education minister. We know it is not so easy,” a Morcha leader had said earlier.
The Morcha has also alleged that the police were trying to frame its cadres and leaders in the Tamang murder case. “The police are visiting the houses of our cadres and telling parents to ask their sons to surrender. An attempt is being made to spoil the atmosphere in the hills,” said Giri.
Common people fail to find rationale on 40 days strike call
SE, DARJEELING, July 6: The brazen call for 40 days strike by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for intensify its separate Statehood demand has revived painful and terrifying memories of the 1988 bloody agitation among the people here.
The erstwhile Gorkhaland protagonist, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) had called a 40 days strike in the hills from February 10, 1988. The Anti-Terrorist Act had been enforced in the region on the same day as GNLF supremo Subash Ghisingh had announced an armed struggle for Gorkhaland demand.
In ensuing bloodbath, 1200 lives were lost, many of whom were killed in fighting among themselves and others falling to the bullets of CRPF.
Finally after immense hardships and loss of a generation, the GNLF accepted the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council without any murmur of protest from the people who were clearly tired after dodging bullets, evading khukuries and surviving the forty days of strike.
In an eerie reminder of the 1988 bandh, the GJM has also warned to call a 40 days strike in the hills, the isolative effect of which if enforced, is unimaginable in the present era of globalization.
Naturally the question doing rounds in the minds of the people here are related with the 1988 bandh. What will happen if the bandh is called this time? Is GJM preparing for an armed struggle and if yes, who will the GJM cadre fight against in the hills as almost everyone out here is in support of Gorkhaland? Who are the enemies?
Such questions have stuck in the anxious people here.
What kind of results will the proposed 40 days strike bring as there has been several strikes in the past without anything to show for, people here understand. They believe that the GJM was going smoothly with the Centre through tripartite talks and that only dialogue will lead to a proper conclusion. 

With rivals for tea worker
TT, Siliguri, July 7: The trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today sat with the labour wings of the CPM and the Congress in a tea convention here, saying that the statehood issue and the welfare of garden workers should not be mixed up.
Directed by party president Bimal Gurung, leaders of the Morcha’s labour wing, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, for the first time, attended the convention organised by the two apex bodies of trade unions that have Citu and Intuc as constituents.
“We have been fighting for a separate state and differ with the CPM and the Congress as far as their political stands are concerned. However, on the question of the welfare of tea workers, we have no problems in associating ourselves with other unions fighting for the same cause,” said Prem Niroula, the vice-president of the Morcha union.
Asked whether sitting with the CPM and the Congress trade unions would affect their proposed talks with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, Niroula said it would be wrong to mix up the larger issue (of statehood) with that of tea problems.
The Parishad-affiliated Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, though invited, however, had not attended today’s convention. “We have been organising movement for several demands of tea workers on our own and do not find any reason for joining the convention,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the PTWU vice-chairman. “We will continue to move alone.”
Niroula said Gurung had told them that there was nothing wrong to join other trade unions given the fact that they (other unions) were organising movements for the interest of tea workers and not acting on behalf of the political parties or the state government.
“When the demands are similar, there is no point in abstaining from a joint movement,” said Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha union. He said they would dissociate themselves if any discrepancies were found in the older unions’ movement.
At the convention, leaders of more than 20 trade unions like Citu, Intuc, the labour wing of the RSP (the Utuc) and the Hind Mazdoor Sabha demanded immediate wage revision of the tea workers. More than 500 people from the Terai, the Dooars and Darjeeling attended the convention. 
Forester killed in vehicle mishap
PraKha,Gangtok, July 7: A forester was killed today when his vehicle slipped down the National Highway 31 A and crashed down some 300 feet down the road at Namli Bhir, 15 kms away from here.
Birka Bahadur Subba (46) was killed at spot, police said. Subba was a Range Officer (East) in the Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) division of the State Forest department and is a resident of Saramsa, Ranipool.
According to police, Subba was alone in his private vehicle, a Maruti 800 when the mishap took place at around 10:30 am. The cause of the accident could not be ascertained at the moment.
Subba was going to Makha, East Sikkim near Singtam for official purposes.
According to State forest officials, the Range Officer was supposed to visit a nursery at Singtam before picking up a senior officer at Singtam to go Makha for a field visit.
“Subba had gone Rongli yesterday for a field visit and today morning, he was supposed to make a field visit a nursery at Singtam and also to make labour payments and then proceed to Makha for a field visit”, said Sikkim Forest department NTFP unit joint director Gyatso Bhutia.
The postmortem was conduced at Central Referral Hospital here at Tadong.

Japan to Sikkim for higher studies
TT, Gangtok, July 7: Sikkim University has got its first overseas student.
And into his first week in Gangtok, Tatshuki Shirai can already sing a few words of swaghat cha, a Nepali welcome song.
The 21-year-old Japanese is here for a two-semester course in sociology and Eastern Himalayas in Tadong Government College under the university that is part of India’s unprecedented higher education expansion aimed at ensuring access to quality higher education in traditionally neglected regions.
“I will be submitting my admission forms tomorrow to Tadong Government College,” said Shirai during a break of the personality development workshop organised by the university in collaboration with the National School of Drama at 6th Mile, Tadong. The workshop that started on June 23 will end on July 18.
Shirai, who studied sociology and cultural anthropology for three years at Hitotsubahsi University, arrived in Gangtok on June 30.
He is interested in studying the cultural history of Sikkim and the communities here from an anthropological perspective. “I am interested in the culture, history and people of Sikkim,” he said. He also wants to work with local NGOs to understand better the connection between communities, environment and development.
The first-overseas-student tag for Shirai is literal. The university has students from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan, but not somebody who has had to cross the sea (in this case the Sea of Japan).
Shirai believes that studying in Sikkim for one year could provide him with valuable experience. “This is a sensitive area near China and I will also like to study the relations between India and China in the context of Sikkim,” he said.
In a media release, the university claimed that Shirai chose the institution because of its interdisciplinary courses and for the multi-cultural ethos as well as environmental, cultural and historical uniqueness that the Himalayan state offers.
The Japanese citizen has enrolled for the monsoon and spring semesters. According to Hitotsubahsi University rules, students have to do a year in a foreign university as part of their course. Shirai said his professor Yoskiko Ashiwai had recommended Sikkim University along with a few other institutions in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. “But during my research I found out that this university was new and offered inter-disciplinary courses and Sikkim as a region interested me,” he said.
Shirai said he had met university vice-chancellor Mahendra P. Lama in Japan last year and had then discussed his prospects of study here.
The university is among a handful in India that conducts a nation-wide entrance examination to pick students for its postgraduate courses.
“I was lucky to be a part of the workshop which was enjoyable. Without this workshop, I would have had only a few friends. Now I have made many friends,” said Shirai, who is taking part in almost all programmes.
“I am learning the Nepali language bit by bit and right now, I have acquired elementary knowledge,” said Shirai in halting English.
Never felt this  free before-Manisha
Newly married actress Manisha Dahal (nee Koirala) says her marriage was like a dream. She's off on a dream honeymoon to Europe for a month.
The actress says, "I feel different now that I'm married. It's as though I've found my bearings in life. There's a new sense of belonging, as though there's someone constantly there to support me, to hold me when I fall. I've never felt this way before."
honeymoon2Love all
Manisha says she fell in love with not just her husband but also his family. "Our families have been close friends for years. I know Samrat's family since before our marriage. So it's not really an arranged match, in the true sense. I've never felt so happy. Marriage is supposed be a restriction. It's supposed to tie you down to another person's feelings and family. But I've never felt so free before."
Dream honeymoon
honeymoonOn Tuesday morning she was busy packing her own and her husband's clothes for the month-long honeymoon. "I've planned a dream honeymoon for us. I've been to the European destinations before as a single woman. This time it's different."
One of the major cities on her honeymooning map is Paris. Incidentally, Manya has always dreamed of owning a home in the French capital.
About the slim B-Town attendance at her wedding Manisha says, "I didn't invite too many people from the film industry, only those friends who've been with me for as many as twenty years." As far as her continued B-Town inning goes, Manya said yes to a film where she plays a politician.
Contrary to reports, she signed this film before her marriage. "I said yes, mainly because a dear friend, cinematographer Ashok Mehta was involved with the film. I'll be doing selected films after marriage; certainly not decorative roles." And no, she is not planning to leave Mumbai. "This city and my work will always be very important to me. But yes, I do have to be in Nepal more frequently now. I've two sets of families down there now."
(Photo credits;

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