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Friday, August 13, 2010

Ghising threatens to revive Gorkhaland he will return to Darjeeling ...seeks special status on hill deal...ABGL meeting held in Kurseong

PTI, Jalpaiguri, Aug 13 : GNLF chief Subhas Ghising today threatened to revive his demand for separate Gorkhaland if the Centre and the West Bengal government went ahead with setting up an interim Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
Without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which drove him out of Darjeeling in 2008 and proposed an interim DGHC to replace the present one to run the administration in the hills, Ghising said that it would be a 'disaster' and that he has submitted a memorandum to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

PTI, Jalpaiguri (WB), Aug 13 : Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subhas Ghising today claimed that he would shortly return to Darjeeling hills, from where he was driven out by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2008, as the situation had improved there.
Ghising, who had first voiced the demand for Gorkhaland and led a violent movement from 1986 to 1988 before settling for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), had earlier said the situation there was not conducive for his return.
"We will return shortly. I am not announcing the date," Ghising told reporters at his residence here, guarded by the police, where he has been living since his ouster from Darjeeling.He also claimed that the interim DGHC proposed by the Centre and on which tripartite talks were being held currently with the GJM and the West Bengal government was opposed by the people of Darjeeling.
KalimNews: Ghising was forced to leave Darjeeling from his residence on July 26, 2008 after the incident of fire and arson in Darjeeling and Kalimpong following the death of Pramila Sharma a GJMM supporter who was shot dead on 25 th July Allegedly by GNLF supporters from the building of Deepak Gurung a GNLF leader. 
Subash seeks special status on hill deal eve
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 13: Subash Ghisingh has made a last ditch attempt to get Delhi to confer the Sixth Schedule status on the Darjeeling hills, warning the Centre and the state that any other administrative arrangement would force the GNLF to revive its original demand for Gorkhaland.
Ghisingh, who once lorded over the hills, submitted memorandums to the Prime Minister, home minister, finance minister and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on August 10 during his visit to the capital. Copies have also been forwarded to the governor and the chief minister of the state.
The GNLF’s effort comes at a time when there are indications that the Centre is trying to ink a pact for an interim authority with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha by August 31, sources said.
Arguing his case for special status, Ghisingh said during pre-Independence the Darjeeling hills along with the Khasi, Garo, Jayantia and the Mizo hills had been classified as a “backward tract”, “non-regulated area” and “partially excluded area”. “After Independence, only the north-east of India got justice under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution,” the letter reads.
Ghisingh said the interim set-up being thought of for the Darjeeling hills is already in place since a memorandum of understanding for the Sixth Schedule was signed between the Centre, state and the GNLF on December 6, 2005. The GNLF has also cited the resolution adopted by the Assembly in favour of the Sixth Schedule on March 16, 2006, and the presentation made by 22 state legislators before the parliamentary standing committee in support of the special status.
“The whole episode of the past peaceful and amicable settlement of 1988 (for the formation of DGHC where the GNLF had agreed to drop the demand for Gorkhaland) and 2005 will come to a tragic end, automatically opening the door for the GNLF to revive its original demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland,” Ghisingh said.
However, given the present stand of the Centre and the state there is little hope for the revival of the Sixth Schedule status. The government is in favour of an interim set-up and has already convened an official-level meeting with the Morcha on August 17.
Before the start of the negotiations, the Darjeeling Civil Society has also written to the Union home minister about their observations on the interim set-up.
The society said the “so called stop gap arrangement” should incorporate provisions to repeal the DGHC Act of 1988 and the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad act. It has also demanded that the old Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency should include Mal and Metelli areas of the Dooars.
The civil society has also complained that the list of 54 subjects that the Centre has proposed to transfer to the new body is repetitive.
ABGL meet without hurdle
Bharati Tamang (second from right) and other ABGL leaders at the meeting in Kurseong on Friday.
Picture by Suman Tamang
TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 13: The ABGL organised a meeting in Kurseong today after its efforts to hold political programmes in the hills had been scuttled twice in the past fortnight by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The last meeting held by the ABGL was at Kaijhalay in Bijanbari block in mid-July. Since then, no meeting could be organised by the oldest party in the hills, as the Morcha or its frontal organisations called strikes to synchronise with the ABGL’s programmes.
The ABGL had planned a meeting at Sukhiapokhri on July 30, but it was postponed after the Morcha had called a general strike on the same day. Although the Morcha had not said directly that it would not allow the ABGL to hold public meetings, the message was very clear when Bimal Gurung’s party had called the strike at Sukhiapokhri “to maintain peace in the region”.
The ABGL cancelled the meeting at the last moment and instead, announced a similar programme in Kurseong on August 10.
However, the Kurseong meeting, too, had to be postponed with the Morcha-affiliated Janmukti Chalak Mahasangh, a union of transporters, deciding to call a general strike on August 10 to protest against the delay in repairing NH55 and the rise in the prices of essential food commodities.
“We are determined to hold public meeting across the hills in the days to come,” Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL, told the gathering in Kurseong.
Most of the leaders spoke against the interim set-up at the meeting, saying it was not the demand of the general public. “Interim set-up is not something that the people have longed. It is a demand made by a particular party and not by the public. So, if it is implemented, it should be kept by the party to themselves,” said Sherpa.
“We are only opposing those people who have lied to the public, have misused mid-day meals funds and have terrorised the common people,” said Sherpa.
The meeting was also attended by Bharati Tamang, the widow of slain ABGL leader Madan Tamang. “I am sad that all those involved in the murder of my husband have not yet been booked. I will continue the fight for justice no matter how long it takes,” said Bharati Tamang, who is also the president of the party.
Babu booked for Rs 1 crore job fraud- BDO on the run held
TT, Aug. 13: A block development officer in South Dinajpur was arrested in adjoining Malda district this afternoon on charges of embezzling more than Rs 1 crore meant for a central rural job scheme.
The BDO of Harirampur, Suman Majhi, a West Bengal Civil Service officer of the 2004 batch and a resident of Garia in South 24-Parganas, was later handed over to South Dinajpur police. He had taken charge as Harirampur BDO about one-and-a-half years ago.
According to Malda superintendent of police Bhuban Mondal, cops from Harirampur had contacted their counterparts in Malda alleging that the BDO had misappropriated public money and was fleeing to Calcutta in a white car. The Malda police were also provided with the registration number of the car.
“The South Dinajpur police sought our help and we immediately alerted our police stations. The BDO’s car was spotted by a police team from Old Malda near Mangalbari on NH34 around 1pm. He was immediately taken into custody,” said Mondal.
According to the South Dinajpur police, Majhi had left Harirampur around 12 noon and was apprehended after he had travelled 40km by car.
The inspector-in-charge of Harirampur police station, Uday Majumdar, arrived in Malda late in the afternoon and took Majhi into custody. The BDO will be produced in a court at Buniyadpur in South Dinajpur tomorrow.
Ashok Banerjee, the district magistrate of South Dinajpur, said investigations so far had revealed that the BDO had issued 20 bearer cheques in fictitious names to draw money against false vouchers for projects that did not exist. “We have come to know this so far. The amount defalcated could be even higher,” Banerjee said.
Explaining how funds were disbursed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the district magistrate said the money to be paid to the beneficiaries was directly credited to the bank accounts of the job cardholders. “The BDO is the executive officer of the scheme in his block and is directly responsible for drawing up projects and executing them through panchayats,” Banerjee said.
He said the subdivisional officer of Gangarampur, Abhijit Bhattacharya, had also filed FIRs on July 21 against assistant project officer Narayan Chakrabarty, technical assistant Sujit Das, and sub-assistant engineer Moloy Sinha Roy, all posted in the same block. Since then, the trio has been absconding.
In Harirampur, nearly 22 complaints on projects under the NREGS had been filed with the district administration in the past few months. What nailed the BDO was an RTI application filed by the karmadhakshya of the Harirampur panchayat samiti, Rafiqul Islam of the CPM. Islam wanted to know about the projects, their implementation and their expenditure in the RTI application submitted before July to the SDO.
“The RTI reply showed many projects that were said to be implemented and funds disbursed, but there was no physical evidence of any work done. It was then that the karmadhakshya filed a complaint with the district magistrate, who instructed the subdivisional officer to inquire into the matter,” said IC Majumdar.
“We have investigated only a dozen of the complaints to uncover the current defalcation of over a crore. Let us see what the rest of the complaints throw up,” the district magistrate said. He said many of the complaints other than that of the karmadhakshya had been made by job cardholders, who alleged that several projects that were announced, had never been taken up.
“The BDO had planned large projects like road repairs and construction of large tanks, some of them worth around Rs 30 lakh. It is under these projects, which had not materialised, that the money was withdrawn,” Banerjee said.
Hill tour project shelved
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 13: The Ambuja Group has put on hold a tourism project planned in association with the world famous Makaibari Tea Estate because of the political turmoil in the Darjeeling hills.
“It is true that we had planned a tourism project in Makaibari Tea Estate in association with the garden management. However, we have put the project on hold because of the present political situation in the hills. The plan is ready but it will take some time for us to put in place the infrastructure and make the project operational,” Harsh Neotia, the chairman of Ambuja Realty Development Limited, said here today.
The hills plunged into political uncertainty ever since the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha revived the agitation for a separate state two years ago. As strikes and violence became the order of the day, tourism took a beating with domestic and international visitors reluctant to come to the hills.
Sources said according to the project conceived jointly by Neotia and owner of the estate Rajah Banerjee, a resort would be developed on 24 acres of land. The resort will cater for both domestic and international tourists and the developers hope the globally-known Makaibari brand and the garden’s location will work as USPs.
Neotia said the group had also plans to launch a project at Lataguri on the fringes of Gorumara National Park in the Dooars. “Around Rs 25 crore will be invested in the two tourism projects in north Bengal,” he said.
In Makaibari, sources said, Ambuja would present the concept of a leisure hotel in the form of “kutir” or cottage, much like the Ganga Kutir developed by the company at Raichak, 50km from Calcutta.
The chairman said the group wanted both the projects to be completed together. “Unlike in the hills, there is no political strife as such in the Dooars. But our idea is to create a tourism circuit in north Bengal. We intend to stick to that plan and will develop both the properties simultaneously. We are waiting for improvement in the situation in the hills and will definitely implement both the projects,” said Neotia. He was addressing a news conference to announce the setting-up of the third City Centre at the Uttarayon Township in Matigara.
“We will be bringing in new and top notch brands like Shoppers Stop, Spencer’s, KFC and Crossword to the City Centre for the residents of Siliguri and neighbouring areas,” said Neotia. “Also, the Big Cinemas will open a four-screen multiplex with a capacity to accommodate 1,000 people.” He added that City Centre Siliguri would be opened in December.
The real estate major has two City Centres in Bengal and both are in Calcutta.
“More than 5,000 people would be employed at the City Centre that we hope will develop as a hub of economic activity in north Bengal,” said Neotia.
Bagan camp from Aug 16
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 13: The conditioning camp of Calcutta soccer giant Mohun Bagan will begin at Kanchenjungha Stadium here from August 16.
The 12-day camp will have a full-fledged training session with Barreto, Chidi and Muritala and the other regular players. The team will return to Calcutta on August 28,” said Arup Majumdar, a Mohun Bagan official.
Siliguri deputy mayor Nantu Paul said an exhibition match between Mayor XI and Mohun Bagan would be played here on August 27. “The local team will be formed by selecting players from the clubs listed with the Siliguri Mahakuma Krira Parishad,” Paul said. 
Garden reopens
TT, Darjeeling: Pubung tea garden that had been shut since March 24 reopened on Friday. Sandip Mukherjee, the secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association, said the estate had been shut because of dispute between the workers and the management. He said the problems had been amicably solved. The garden, 35km from here, employs 424 workers.
Forest arrest
TT, Siliguri: Guards from Baikunthapur forest division arrested four persons while they were illegally chopping sal trees in the Adabari beat under Salugara range on Friday. The arrested persons are Jamai Saibo, Fadu Soren, Sonaram Murmu and Jitesh Saibo, all residents of Majhua.
3 Nepalese nationals held
PTI, New Delhi, Aug 13: Three Nepalese nationals, who allegedly robbed Rs 3.6 crore from a jewellery shop in Bangalore a week ago, were arrested here, police said today.
Police have recovered Rs 67.84 lakh of the stolen amount from Naya Ram Sahi (36), Kamal Bisht (23) and Tapender K C (23) who were arrested outside Nizamuddin Railway Station yesterday.
The gang had allegedly burgled a jewellery store at night on August 8 and had taken away Rs 3.6 crore.
Sanju, who works as a watchman in the jewellery, is allegedly the mastermind of the hiest. He is absconding.
Sahi had worked as a watchman in Mumbai for the last 15 years. He is known to Sanju.
After committing the burglary, Sanju met Naya Ram and requested him to ferry the cash across the border to Nepal.
Naya Ram agreed to do the job for a handsome consideration.

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