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Monday, September 13, 2010

Morcha on revival path to tackle rivals.. Govt nod to Lepcha classes ... GRC RTI seeks whether Sikkim Govt has any information on Darjeeling cession

TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to resurrect the party’s youth wing to shake off the shackles that forced it to go on backfoot since the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang.
Hundreds of people from the hill town, shaken by the daylight murder of the ABGL leader, had come out to pay homage to Tamang during his funeral, some of them even uprooting Morcha flags. Since then, the Morcha had been lying low till last week when it started reviving its party units.
“New members have been included in the Darjeeling town youth committee, who were officially approved by party president Bimal Gurung today,” said Kesang Sherpa, the media and publicity secretary of the town’s youth wing.
While Tilak Chhetri has been made the new president, Zahid Khan and Rajesh Gurung have been nominated as the two vice-presidents. Sudip Gurung will be the general secretary of the Yuva Morcha.
Immediately after its approval, the brigade has started a campaign to revive all the youth units within the municipality area.
“The new committee today visited the Bloomfield tea garden area to revive the unit there. You can call it the start of a gaon pasa (let’s go to the village) campaign. We will also visit each ward within the municipality area,” said Sherpa.
The youth wing had been facing problems, with its central committee president Alokkant Mani Thulung going underground to evade arrest as he has been named in the FIR and chargesheet for allegedly being involved in Tamang’s murder.
The Morcha revival strategy comes at a time when its rivals, especially the ABGL, are increasing their political activities in the hills.
Bharati Tamang, wife of the deceased leader and the president of the ABGL, too, held a meeting at Kaijalay, about 50km from Darjeeling, on Friday. Her party had organised a similar meeting at the same place about a month back and is planning sessions for Kalimpong and Kurseong.
“But the dates have not yet been fixed,” said Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL.
In Darjeeling, the ABGL has plastered posters across town urging people to reject the interim set-up proposed for the hills.
There are also indications that GNLF president Subash Ghisingh is looking at reviving the party in the hills. Some of his supporters held a meeting in Kurseong on Friday and there are hints that Ghisingh, too, is looking at organising a public meeting in Kalimpong. The developments indicate that the rivals are planning a campaign against the Morcha decision to sign a deal for an interim set-up, stressing the fact that the Bimal Gurung led-outfit is giving up Gorkhaland for interim set-up. 
TitBits: Gagan Dip Singh of Indian National Congress came to Kalimpong to revive and propagate membership drive.
Dooars exit pleas rejected
TT, Jaigaon, Sept. 12: The state committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has not accepted the resignations of the five office-bearers of the Dooars regional committee who had quit their posts in the past few days.
“At the state committee meeting at Malbazar yesterday, it was decided that the resignations of Rajesh Lakra (the secretary of the Dooars unit) and four others would not be accepted. We will talk to them at the executive committee meeting in Calcutta on September 25,” said John Barla, the president of the Parishad’s Terai-Dooars regional committee.
Lakra had resigned on Tuesday followed on Thursday by treasurer of the regional unit Sanjivan Kujur, state committee member Sachita Bara, and adviser to the committee Rabin Barwar. A joint secretary of the unit also put in his papers yesterday.
Barla said those who had quit their posts could not join the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-influenced Progressive People’s Party that had been formed this year by a group of breakaway Parishad leaders, since their resignation letters had not been accepted.
“The Morcha has been trying to divide the Adivasi community and we shall not allow them to do so. Our members can join mainstream parties if they want to,” Barla said.
Lakra was not available on his cellphone. Yesterday, he had told The Telegraph that the question of withdrawing his resignation did not arise.
The working secretary of the Parishad’s state committee, Rajesh Toppo, alleged that injustice had been meted out to Lakra.
“If he is not treated with dignity, the Adivasis of the Terai-Dooars region will speak for him. Lakra has been forced to resign by a section of the leaders. This has not gone down well with our community members,” Toppo said. 
Govt nod to Lepcha classes 
TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 12: The state education department has decided to introduce the Lepcha language in the primary and secondary schools in the Darjeeling hills as an optional subject from the next academic session starting in March.
The decision was conveyed by education minister Partha De to a delegation of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA) which called on him in Calcutta last week. During the meeting, a committee was formed to work on the textbooks, syllabus, curriculum, and selection of Lepcha language teachers. The committee will submit its report to the minister.
“We will give our expert opinions, suggestions and advice to the committee,” said ILTA president Lyangsong Tamsang. “The indigenous Lepcha people are delighted and grateful to the government for the decision.”
The introduction of the Lepcha language in schools is the culmination of a 14-year effort of the ILTA.
“Until 1911, Lepcha was the official language of the Darjeeling hills. It became unfashionable to the then rulers and was replaced by Hindi/Hindustani and later by English till 1947. So much so the Lepchas’ very rich and ancient language and literature did not get its due place in the schools in their own homeland of Darjeeling hills,” said the ILTA president.
During the course of the ILTA’s struggle for recognition, a Lepcha-English encyclopaedic dictionary was published and books were translated from Lepcha to English, Hindi, Bengali and Nepali and vice-versa.
GRC RTI seeks whether Sikkim Govt has any information on Darjeeling cession
D K Bomzen.JPGPrakha,  Gangtok, 11 SEPT.: The Gorkha Rashtriya Congress (GRC) president, D.K. Bamzan has filed a RTI application with the Sikkim Information Commission on the issue of cession of Sikkim’s erstwhile territories of Darjeeling region to British Raj which subsequently became a part of independent India.
“My question is that is there any information with the Government of Sikkim how and when his territory was ceded to India and became the part of State of West Bengal for which who was the recipient of the compensation of this territory under Requisition of Land (Apportionment of Compensation) Act 1949”, stated the GRC president in his RTI.
The RTI was submitted to the Commissioner, Sikkim Information Commission yesterday.
In his RTI, Bomzan has stated that what is known as Darjeeling district today was parts of the kingdom of Sikkim historically. Following wars and treaties between the Raja of Sikkim and East India Company, this territory came under British Rule in India till Independence of India in 1947, he pointed out.
The GRC president has also presented in his RTI that the Ministry of Home Affairs has failed to provide any information to when asked how Darjeeling region became a part of Independent India.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had written back to Bombzan in August 13 that the information asked by him on incorporation of areas of Darjeeling and Dooars in the Union of India of India was not available with Ministry.
It may be added here that the GRC, a political outfit based in Darjeeling has a single point agenda unification of Sikkim with its lost territories of Darjeeling district in west Bengal. The party has been contending that as per historical documents, the territories of Darjeeling and Dooars belong to Sikkim which even, the party said, the Bengal government had admitted in its white paper issued on October 9, 1986 at the height of Gorkhaland agitation.
Speaking to media today here at Gangtok, Bomzan reiterated that the restoration of lost territories of Darjeeling with Sikkim will emancipate Darjeeling people from Bengal hold. The aspirations of Darjeeling people to break free from Bengal is trough restoration of the lost territories with Sikkim, he said. (Photo: Prabin)
20000 passengers in the lurch after bridge snaps- no sign of repair, ferries only hope for national highway commuters
Anirban Choudhury, TT, Alipurduar, Sept. 12: Around 20,000 people are crossing the Buri Torsha on rickety ferries everyday after a wooden bridge on a national highway was washed away at an Alipurduar village nearly two months ago.
The wooden bridge at Balurghat on the Alipurduar-Falakata section of NH31 was washed away on July 20.
Even though the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri had said repairs would begin within 72 hours of the bridge collapse, there is no evidence of any work at all in Balurghat, 26km from here.
The break in the road link means that vehicles are having to travel an extra 30km to reach Alipurduar from Falakata — a distance of 34km — via Cooch Behar town. The route through NH31 is also the shortest for vehicles coming to Siliguri-Jalpaiguri from lower Assam and the Northeast. The other option is NH31C.
Since July 20, every working day sees a huge crowd of men, women and children bound for Alipurduar standing on the banks of the river at Balurghat, waiting to catch a ferry. The district administration has pressed into service two small boats that ferry persons for free.
However, four to five private country boats are ferrying people, their bicycles and motorcycles for a fee. Inquiries revealed that the people had to shell out Rs 5 per head. People with bicycles had to pay Rs 10 and those with motorbikes, Rs 20 each.
Samarjit Sarkar, a government employee who commutes between Falakata and Alipurduar, said he was reaching his office late every day. “The bus services via Cooch Behar to Alipurduar are very erratic and every day we have to wait for several hours to get a chance to climb on to a ferry, it takes me more than two hours to cover this distance of 34km,” he said.
Light vehicles and auto-rickshaws ferry the passengers on both sides of the broken bridge.
The merchants in Falakata have complained that they are suffering losses because of the snapped road link. “We are not getting goods from Siliguri as the truck owners are not agreeing to travel the extra distance via Cooch Behar. Our stocks are slowly getting depleted, we are apprehending huge losses if the bridge is not repaired soon,” said Dilip Saha, a wholesale trader of consumer goods.
The block development officer of Falakata, Sushanta Mondol, said the district administration had decided to temporarily repair the damaged bridge, but the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had not given them the permission.
“The NHAI engineers said they would take up the work soon. We are paying Rs 3,600 daily to the 12 men who run the boats and the makeshift landing and work in two shifts as people cross over even after dark,” the BDO said.
Mondol said if the NHAI took too long to repair the bridge, the administration would construct a temporary structure that could be used by light vehicles and two-wheelers.
The subdivisional officer of Alipurduar, Anurag Srivastav, however, said he had got a positive response from the NHAI.
“I have been told that they have sent a report on a project worth Rs 1 crore to their head office in Delhi, but the funds have not been sanctioned yet,” the SDO said.
Exclusive retreat for Dalai Lama meditation
- sikkim gets ready for tibetan spiritual leader’s visit
TT, Gangtok, Sept. 12: The Sikkim government is constructing an exclusive retreat for the Dalai Lama at Tashiding monastery for his stay during the nine-day tour of the state.
The Tibetan spiritual leader will visit several parts of Sikkim and will attend a host of programmes during the tour from December 15 to 23.
“The Dalai Lama will meditate at a retreat in Tashiding monastery (West Sikkim) on December 16 and 17. The retreat, Tsam Khang (meditation centre), is being constructed and should be ready by November. The retreat will be exclusively for His Holiness and the government may later declare it a museum,” said state ecclesiastical secretary Tenzing Gelek.
He was briefing a gathering of monks, Tibetan organisations and Tibetan settlement welfare officials in Gangtok on Friday on the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama. State human resource development minister N.K. Pradhan was also present at the meeting and he invited suggestions from the public on the kind of pujas needed to be performed during the visit for the welfare of the state.
The Tashiding monastery in West Sikkim belongs to the Nyingmapa order and is about 145km from Gangtok.
Before his arrival, the Dalai Lama will be staying in Kalimpong on December 13 and 14. His programme schedule during the two-day stay in the hill town has not been disclosed as yet.
According to a tentative itinerary, the Dalai Lama will be flying to Pelling in West Sikkim on a chopper on December 15. He is scheduled to make a brief visit to the Pemayangste monastery and then reach Tashiding monastery the same day, said Gelek.
On December 18, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to depart for Palchen Choling monastery at Ralang in South Sikkim district. He will also visit a settlement of the Tibetan community there later. The next day, he will take part in a blessing ceremony at the under-construction Buddha Park at Rabong before flying back to Gangtok.
The government is erecting a 135 feet statue of Lord Buddha in the park, which is scheduled to be completed next year. The statue will be the largest of the Buddha in India and the project is aimed at boosting Buddhist pilgrimage tourism in Sikkim.
On December 20, the Dalai Lama will inaugurate a three-day seminar at Chintan Bhavan here on “brain and mind, our potential for change: modern cognitive sciences and eastern contemplative traditions”.
The seminar will be organised by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (NIT). The Dalai Lama was invited by the Sikkim government to inaugurate the seminar, which is expected to lay the foundation of the state’s efforts to formally introduce concepts of morality and ethics in school curriculum.
A public teaching from the Dalai Lama is also slated be held at Paljor Stadium here on December 21. The Dalai Lama will attend the closing ceremony of the NIT conference on December 22 before leaving Sikkim the next day.
4 more trains for EFR
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 12: Railway minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to visit New Jalpaiguri tomorrow and is expected to announce four new trains for the Northeast Frontier Railway.
The minister will also inaugurate the first railway outdoor stadium in north Bengal and an escalator at NJP station. “The new trains are, 645/646 NJP to Bamonhat passenger via Falakata, 5769/5770 Alipurduar Junction-Lamding Intercity Express, 647/648 Haldibari- Siliguri Junction passenger and 810/811 Dhubri-Fakiragram passenger,” said S.S. Hojang, the chief public relations officer of the NFR. “She will also lay the foundations for a railway excel factory near NJP station and a diesel electric multiple unit at Siliguri Junction before leaving for Malda,” said an official.
TT, Malda: Four persons were killed in two accidents on Sunday. According to police, three youths riding a motorcycle were killed when the two-wheeler collided with a NBSTC bus on NH34 near Ahora in Gajole around 3pm. In another incident, Rajkrishna Das, 52, was killed when the bicycle he was riding was hit by a truck on the Malda-Kotwali state highway. The driver fled with the vehicle.
TT, Siliguri: Hundreds of people from different tea estates in the Siliguri subdivision demonstrated in front of the CPM office here on Sunday afternoon, protesting against the delay in the distribution of ration dealerships in the tea gardens and demanding a proper BPL list. They submitted a memorandum to state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and sought his intervention in this regard.
TT, Siliguri: Two trucks carrying wooden furniture and timber worth Rs 1.5 lakh without valid documents were seized by forest officers near Salugara on Sunday. The foresters said the trucks had been going to Assam. Drivers of both the vehicles arrested.
TT, Jaigaon: Two-fifty kilograms of jute worth Rs 1 lakh were stolen from a private godown at Batabari near Meteli on Saturday night. Police said the thieves had entered the godown after breaking the lock.

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