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Monday, September 6, 2010

Morcha youth leader held- ‘Arrest a pressure tactic’... DGHC job status poser for govt ...PPP held public meeting... Gorkha deal may be sealed soon

TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 5: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha youth leader was arrested from his Gumbahatta house here last night in connection with a number of arson cases and vandalism that had taken place in Kalimpong over the past two-and-a-half years.
The arrest of Topden Bhutia, who has 10 warrants against him, has come three days before the next round of tripartite talks on Darjeeling. He has been remanded in judicial custody by a local court for 14 days, police said.
Political observers here said Bhutia’s arrest before the talks could be a ploy of the state government to push the Morcha on the backfoot. “Remember, even Nicokle Tamang (the on-the-run accused in the Madan Tamang killing) was arrested a day before the last round of talks. These arrests are nothing but pressure tactics,” said an observer.
Bhutia was allegedly involved in vandalising GNLF leader Maurice Kalikotey’s house in 2008 and arson at the Motor Stand here when a mob set fire to buses and seriously injured a policeman on February 4.
Suva Pradhan, the Morcha’s Kalimpong unit secretary, however, said: “We are confident that we will be able to secure his release within a day or two.” He said the arrest would not have any negative impact on the ongoing tripartite talks on Darjeeling. 
DGHC job status poser for govt
TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 5: The Janmukti Asthahi Karmachari Sangathan has started agitating in front of DGHC offices since Saturday, seeking clarification from the state government on what the status of the casual employees would be once the interim set-up was put in place.
The agitation underlines the fact that many issues have to be thrashed out before the new administrative arrangement is made workable.
Machendra Subba, the president of the JAKS, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said: “Talks (on the interim set-up for the hills) are progressing well and it is only a matter of time before the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act, 1988, is repealed. We want a clarification from the government on the status of jobs before the interim set-up is put in place.”
The JAKS, a union of DGHC causal employees, has been agitating for the regularisation of the jobs of 6,321 workers since the Morcha was formed on October 7, 2007.
The government had assured the JAKS at least twice last year that the regularisation would begin soon, but said frequent closure of administrative offices by the Morcha was delaying the process. 
Mukhia will decide on 9th August
KalimNews: Rajen Mukhia will decide the fate of his followers on 9th. He left GNLF on 22 August leaving the GNLF at Subhas Ghising's residence in Jalpaiguri stating Ghising as a rotten potato. His likelihood of joining a national party is more than forming a new regional party. It is learnt that invitations from CPM and GJMM was denied by Rajen while the option for INC and TMC is still under consideration.  
GJMM team leave for Delhi
KalimNews: A seven member team led by Roshan Giri is leaving Darjeeling for Delhi to attend the eighth official level talks of 7th September. The team includes Dr HB Chhetri, Lalit Pariyar, SN Pradhan, Shankar Adhikari, Amit Thapa and Trilok Dewan.
PPP defies Order
KalimNews: Progressive People's Party now an opposite camp of ABAVP held its first public meeting in Nagarkatta Hindi high school campus. The first meeting was held in Mal Bazar when the formation of this political party was announced on 25 July. Supporters of PPP were stopped at many places by ABAVP leaders alleged PPP but John Barla President of Dooars Terai Zonal Committee refuted the allegation. Nepalese were also seen in the meeting venue.
Kiran Kalandi in his speech said that there is no difference between John Barla and Bimal Gurung they are making orders, we wont listen to them. We demand Interim setup for Dooars and Terai but we oppose Gorkhaland at any cost, said Kiran . On the other hand Birsa Tirky President of ABAVP State committee said that Kiran is GJMM's agent and the programme is organised just taking in view of the tripartite talks of 7th September. Jaynarayan Tirky General Secretary of PPP Central Committee and  Sohan Lakra, Abdul Rajjak, Anup Sharma,  Ajay Kharga and others were present in the meeting.
Gorkha deal may be sealed soon
Aloke Titu , HT, New Delhi:A crucial tripartite meeting at the home ministry on Tuesday could practically seal a deal between West Bengal, the Centre and GJM, the outfit spearheading the agitation in the hill districts of Darjeeling. The three sides have been in negotiations over the past one year to work out the form, structure and powers of the Gorkhaland Regional Authority (GRA) to be constituted as an interim arrangement.
Last year, the GJM agreed in principle to an interim arrangement since talks on statehood would take time. The GJM also recognised difficulties in arriving at a permanent resolution as the state was heading for assembly elections next year.
Sources said the government expected the details of the interim authority — expected to be have features of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council — to be finalised at Tuesday's official-level talks.
Once an agreement is reached, one more round of political level talks would be held to formally clear the deal.
"There is broad consensus on most points… the remaining would be sorted out at Tuesday's meeting," said a source.
Among the points expected to be finalised are the number of members that GRA should have. The GJM wants 56 members since the now-defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council had 42 members and not 20 members as proposed by the government.
While the GJM and the Centre agree that GJM leaders be nominated to the body, the West Bengal government wants membership to be decided on the basis of proportional votes polled in Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti elections.
Sources said GJM was also expected to be pragmatic about difficulties in expanding the territorial jurisdiction of the interim GRA.
The meeting will also decide if the GRA should have a two-year tenure beginning this year-end as proposed earlier or accept the state government's suggestion of a five-year term.
Bus strike continues
Indefinite bus strike called by North Bengal Passengers' Transports owners' Coordination Committee a united forum of unions  met in Maynaguri and declared that it will continue its strike till the roads are repaired. The strike was started from 31 August in the districts of Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. Bus owners  associations of three districts Malda, North and South Dinajpur is also likely to join a days Bus strike on any day. 
Prof Lama a in India UK HE L Dev Programme
SE: Sikkim University vice-chancellor Prof Mahendra P Lama has been nominated in the India-United Kingdom Higher Education Leadership Development Programme, informs a university release. The Indian delegation comprising of 15 vice-chancellors from different parts of the country will be visiting London from September 6 to 10 and will interact with a large number of heads and presidents of the universities in United Kingdom, adds the release.
Prof Lama has also been nominated to the council of Union government’s think tank, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). The council is the apex executive body of ICWA and is headed by Vice President of the country. 

Crash kills student, eight others- blame pinned on speed
TT, Malda, Sept. 5: Nine persons, including an engineering student, were killed when a speeding, overcrowded Tata Magic was crushed between two trucks while trying to overtake a vehicle on a national highway in Old Malda this morning.
Sources said the accident occurred when the Tata Magic with 17 passengers — it is a seven-seater — tried to speed past a lorry while a truck stood parked on the right side of the road. The car was on its way from Malda to Balurghat in South Dinajpur.
“Another truck was coming from the opposite direction. The driver of the Tata Magic, in a bid to avert the head-on collision, rammed into the stationery truck. Within a few seconds, the speeding truck hit the van, killing a number of passengers on the spot,” said Krishna Saha, a witness.
Nine persons, including the driver, were injured in the accident that occurred on NH34 around 6.15am at Kaluadighi, 12km from here.
The screech of metal alerted the local people and truck drivers in a nearby motel, who rushed to the spot and began pulling out the passengers from the mangled remains. Old Malda police were informed, but they reached the site more than an hour later, alleged the residents.
“It was because of the delay on the part of the police to begin rescue operation that so many people died. We were trying our best to get the passengers out of the mangled van. If the passengers had been taken out earlier, some lives could have been saved,” said Abir Mondal, a resident of the area.
“As the police did not reach the site on time, we stopped a government bus to send the injured passengers and the bodies to the Malda District Hospital around 7.30am. The bus was going to Malda from Balurghat.”
The dead have been identified as Abdulahir Kafi, 28, Dilip Rajak, 40, Patharu Rajbanshi, 45, Ashok Mondal, 30, Baidya Burman, 42, Biswanath Singha, 30, Sheikh Khalil, 35, Sarit Shekhar Singha Roy, 18, and Abdus Sattar, a 30-year-old Bangladeshi national.
Sarit, a resident of Dancarhat in South Dinajpur, was pursuing a course in aviation at a private engineering college in Calcutta.
“He had applied for an educational loan which was recently sanctioned. Sarit was coming home to take the money. He was supposed to come on Monday but without informing us, he had started from Calcutta on Saturday. I came to know about his death from his friend’s father,” said Sarit’s father Shyamal Chandra Singha Roy, a bank employee.
Of the remaining seven, six were residents of Malda district and one was from South Dinajpur.
The local people raised a blockade on the highway to protest the late arrival of the police and ransacked a vehicle used by the law enforcers. Kalyan Mukherjee, the additional superintendent of police of Malda, reached the spot with additional forces. He met the agitators and assured action against policemen who were late in arriving. The two-hour long blockade was withdrawn around 10am.
The Malda District Hospital also witnessed chaotic scenes when family members of the injured passengers expressed anguish over the shortage of nurses and doctors at the emergency ward. However, after some time, the injured were provided with medicines and the bodies of the nine passengers were sent to the morgue for post-mortem.
Bhuban Mondal, the superintendent of police of Malda, said: “These vans often carry excess passengers on different routes by flouting rules. Passengers, too, take the risk by riding such vehicles. Today’s accident occurred because of excess number of passengers and over speed.”
wild campaign
TT, Siliguri: The Jalpaiguri district committee of the Government Employees’ Federation (Unified), in association with the West Bengal Forest Service Employees’ Federation, will launch an awareness campaign on the death of wild animals on railway tracks at Sevoke station on Monday. The campaign that will end at Alipurduar Junction on September 9 is a result of several meetings between foresters and railway officials.
Arms haul
TT, Siliguri: Pradhannagar police arrested Sanjit Guria, a resident of Champasari, on Sunday for allegedly possessing an improvised firearm and 10 rounds of live cartridges.
6-yr-old killed
TT, Islampur, Sept. 5: A six-year-old boy was hacked to death in a Goalpokhor village yesterday, allegedly by a neighbour who had accused him of drowning his eight-year-old son a fortnight ago.
No one has been arrested.
Zer Mohammad, the boy, was alone in a room at his house in Kandigach village when he was attacked.
His father was offering namaz in a nearby mosque and mother was praying in another room, when two-three people entered the house and hacked the boy to death with a sickle.
“Hearing a groan, we ran out and found our son dead, lying in a pool of blood. My brother saw our neighbour Mohammad Taiyab and his two sons running away from our home,” said Hamid Mohammad.
According to Hamid, Taiyab’s eight-year-old son drowned in a nearby pond about a fortnight ago. He had been playing with Zer and some other boys near the pond when the accident happened. “Since then, Taiyab has been accusing Zer of killing his son. He murdered my son to avenge the death,” Hamid said.
He filed a police complaint naming Taiyab and his two sons, Mohammad Kalam and Mohammad Gulzar.
Goalpokhor police said the three accused have fled the village, 35km from here. “We are trying to trace and arrest them,” an officer said.
Today, a group of villagers raided Taiyab’s house, which was deserted.
A police picket has been posted in the area.
Bank forgery
TT, Islampur, Sept. 5: A Group D employee of a college here was arrested along with his wife and father-in-law while trying to withdraw more than Rs 4 lakh from the savings account of the institution in a nationalised bank by forging the signature of the principal.
Bishnu Mondal, his wife Yasmin Khatun and her father Mohammad Belaluddin were arrested on the basis of two separate complaints filed by the branch manager of the bank, and Raghabendra Roy, the principal of Agrasen College.
Yasmin and Belaluddin had gone to the bank yesterday, and submitted the cheque for Rs 4,50,550. Debasis Banerjee, the bank manager, while verifying the signature of the principal on the cheque, became suspicious and called in the duo, who were waiting for money.
“When I asked about the money, Belaluddin told me that he had supplied building material to the college and the authorities have paid him his dues. He also told me that his son-in-law was a fourth grade staff at the college and has given him the cheque,” Banerjee said. “I still had some doubts and made Yasmin call Bishnu on his cellphone. He arrived but his explanation did not satisfy me. Just as I was about to verify with the principal, he confessed to forging the cheque.”
Principal Roy said he was curious about how Bishnu got access to the chequebook. “The chequebook is supposed to be with the cashier of the college. The cashier has been showcaused.” College sources said the cashier might have sent Bishnu, a peon, with the chequebook to the governing body president for his signature and the Group D staff might have taken away one of the pages then.
Partha Ghosh, the subdivisional officer of Islampur, has ordered an administrative inquiry against the college authorities.
NJP gets tag, ‘class’ eludes station
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 5: Mamata Banerjee had promised to make New Jalpaiguri station “world-class” but for a railway halt that is used by 10,000 people and 60 trains daily, basic amenities rather than a flashy tag is more the need of the hour.
Besides, even after nearly a year of the railway minister’s announcement, her department officials are still not sure how to define a “world-class” or an “adarsh” station. The “adarsh” tag has been earned by Siliguri Junction through which 1,000 people and five-seven trains pass everyday.
Both the stations cater for Siliguri and its suburbs, the entire hills and at least one more north Bengal district, Jalpaiguri, besides Darjeeling and also Sikkim.
As one walks out of NJP station, a shabby and dirty ambience waits for the visitor. Stacks of garbage are piled up in the parking space at all times of the year, the situation turning worse during the rainy season.
“The entire parking lot gets waterlogged when it rains and it is tough for a person to walk out of the station without wetting feet,” said Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator who often visits NJP to pick up or drop clients. “Then there is the stink. Most tourists pass through this point.”
The potholed roads — there are two approach routes — to the station are also strewn with filth. Illegal shanties and hooch dens line up both sides.
“At the entrance to the building, where there are ticket counters and food stalls, there is no lounge for waiting passengers. Only a handful of chairs are fixed on one side, reserved for defence personnel. The basic amenities are missing in NJP even as work is on to fix an escalator on one of the footbridges,” said Rajat Mukherjee, a resident of Hakimpara in Siliguri. “When we go to receive our friends or relatives at the station, we have to wait at the entrance blocking others’ entry. There are not enough seating arrangements inside or outside the station. No announcements about late arrivals or departures of trains can be heard from outside. As a result, hundreds of passengers crowd the station although it may not be time for their trains. ”
The story of Siliguri Junction is perhaps worse. The entrance, beside Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus, is very narrow. Since early morning till 8pm, it is difficult to drive up to the station, courtesy the buses leaving the terminus, which block the narrow road.
“The Sealdah-bound Darjeeling Mail, despite repeated requests, cannot be extended till Siliguri Junction from NJP because of the approach road. People who live in Siliguri and the hills are dropped near the Junction by cars but they have to travel another 6km to reach NJP station to board the express,” a railway official said.
The Kanchan Kanya Express, the Delhi-bound Mahannada Link Express, Guwahati-New Delhi Purvottar Sampark Kranti Express, Guwahati Jhajha Express and the Ranchi-Alipurduar Express — all depart from Siliguri Junction. But the demand has been always for the extension of Darjeeling Mail. The railways are wary about extending the train because of its departure time. “The departure time from Siliguri Junction for Darjeeling Mail will have to be between 7.15pm and 7.30pm. Almost at the same time, at least 25 Calcutta-bound buses leave the Tenzing Norgay terminus adjacent to the station. It will be chaos all around,” said a railway official.
Railway officials said work was on to clean the NJP station. “But we don’t have any such plans to build a waiting area for passengers,” said G.D. Mondal, the station manager of NJP.
S. Hajong, the chief public relations officer of the Northeast Frontier Railway, said the approach road to Siliguri Junction would be cleared of encroachments. “We are aware of the congestion and have a plan to widen the road,” he said over the phone from Maligaon.
Asked what would be the parameters of a “world-class” station, Hajong said he was not aware of it. “So far we have not received any specific guideline about what the infrastructure of a world class or adarsh station should be,” he said.
Not a mistake but to conceal- Motive behind attack on media was to hide camps
TT, Calcutta, Sept. 5: The attack on seven journalists by CPM activists on Friday was not a mistake but a deliberate move to prevent them from reporting about camps at three villages where arms may have been stocked to counter Maoists, suggests information collected from intelligence officials.
A CPM flag hoisted outside party leader Anuj Pandey’s house in Dharampur on Friday after the “recapture” of the village from the Maoists. Picture by Amit Datta.
Among the seven journalists who were attacked with iron rods and sticks was Pronab Mondal, The Telegraph’s principal correspondent, and Amit Datta, the newspaper’s photographer. Mondal’s left forearm was fractured.
CPM leaders, who have admitted the attack was carried out by party activists, have been claiming so far that the assault occurred by “mistake” — a conclusion that springs holes in the face of the intelligence findings.
The assessment of a deliberate motive to prevent the journalists from discharging their professional duty tallies with Mondal’s account in which he said an attacker had shouted “cut his hands so he can’t write any more copies”.
The intelligence officials said that CPM workers, who had marched in triumph into Dharampur on Thursday, had entered Buripal, Pathri and Kalshibhanga villages between August 15 and August 25 and set up camps there when the Maoists withdrew from that belt following intense raids by the joint forces.
“From our sources, we have learnt that the CPM activists have set up the camps to keep watch on primarily two villages — Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur — about 9km away and where a big group of Maoist guerrillas are concentrated,” an officer said.
According to information available with the intelligence branch, Maoist action squad leaders like Bikash, Rakesh and Badal, along with about 40 guerrillas, are hiding in the jungles adjacent to the two villages.
“We have information that these guerrillas are armed with Insas and AK-47 rifles. Possibly, Kishan is also among them. So, we have reason to believe that the camps set up by the CPM are also stocked with arms. After speaking to local sources, we fear that CPM cadres may be preparing themselves for a big battle with the Maoists in this area,” a police officer said.
So, the police officer explained, the CPM cadres would not want anyone to bring to light the existence of these camps.
A CPM member explained that after the joint forces killed Sidhu Soren, the secretary of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities and chief of the PCPA’s armed wing, in July, the Maoists had retreated from the area and taken shelter in the jungles adjoining Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur.
“If we drive out the Maoists from the jungles surrounding Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur, it will be a victory for us. Then, large areas of Lalgarh, Salboni and Kotowali will be free from Maoists. That is why we are setting up our camps in these areas, from where we can keep an eye on their movement,” said a CPM leader in Salboni.
Other CPM sources said that the forests surrounding Rameswarpur and Lakshmanpur needed to be freed from Maoists for another reason.
“Our supporters and workers who had fled their homes in the face of Maoist threats over a year ago are now gradually returning home. So, if the Maoists are not driven out from that area, there will be a danger of attacks on villagers who are returning home after a long time,” the CPM leader said. 
Nepal parties call for probe into Maoist bribe tape
IANS, Kathmandu, 5 SEPT: Nepal's largest ruling party is asking for an investigation into a taped telephone conversation that purportedly records a prominent Maoist leader seeking NRS 500 million from a Chinese "friend" to buy MPs ahead of Sunday's prime ministerial election. The ex-rebels say they would conduct a probe themselves.
Just hours before Nepal's parliament begins an unprecedented sixth round of vote to elect a new premier more than two months after Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned, the top leaders of the opposition Maoist party held an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the election as well as the impact of an audio tape circulated to the media last week.
The tape has purportedly caught Maoist lawmaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara seeking NRS 500 million from a highly placed "friend" in China to persuade 50 MPs from other parties into voting for Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in the prime ministerial election Sunday.
While rejecting the tape as a fake and a "tissue of lies", the Maoist leaders said they would begin an investigation themselves.
Their contender in Sunday's poll, the Nepali Congress, has already asked for an inquiry.
Prachanda's contender in the prime ministerial poll, former deputy prime minister Ram Chandra Poudel, said the allegation that the Maoists were buying MPs to win the election had to be investigated as well as the tape.
The Nepali Congress issued a statement saying the government must test the voices in the tape and make the truth public.
It said that there had been an earlier allegation by a Communist leader, C.P. Mainali of the Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist Leninist who had said the Maoists had offered him NRS 50 million to vote for them.
When he refused, the Maoists caused a split in his party, Mainali had said.
The Nepali Congress said the scandal exposed the true face of the Maoists. It, however absolved the Chinese government of involvement in the bribing act, saying Beijing was a good neighbour that did not interfere in Nepal's internal matters.
Mainali, the first to have made the bribery allegations against the Maoists, also asked for Sunday's prime ministerial election to be postponed in view of the growing allegations of bribery against the Maoists.

4 policemen released
IE, Bihar:Maoists on Monday released the three abducted Bihar policemen in Lakhisarai district, bringing an end to the nine-day-old hostage crisis.
The three policemen - Abhay Prasad Yadav, Rupesh Kumar Sinha and Ehshan Khan - who were taken hostage on August 29, were freed by the ultras this morning on the border of Kajra-Chanan forests and hills, about 165 kms from the state capital.
The Maoists had earlier killed one of the captive policemen, Lucas Tete. His body was found on Friday.
"All the three kidnapped policemen have been released by the Maoists from the Kajra-Chanan forest in Lakhisarai district after the police sealed the escape routes of the ultras in the forests and hills," Director General of Police Neelmani said.
Sub-Inspector of Police and Station House Officer of Manikpur police station Yadav, SI Sinha and BMP Havildar Khan were with the Superintendent of Police (Lakhisarai), Ranjit Kumar Mishra, he said. 
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who had offered talks with the ultras on the hostage crisis and even expressed the state government's readiness to provide them safe passage for talks, heaved a sigh of relief after Neelmani informed him about the development.
Seven Maoists, including a self-styled area commander and mastermind of the Lakhisarai incident Pintu Das, have been arrested in the last few days during the intense search operations that were launched by the security forces in the hills and forests of Munger, Lakhisarai, Jamui, Banka and Kaimur districts.
Families of the three policemen had an agonising wait yesterday when the Maoists had claimed to have released them but the state government said it had no information about them.
The Maoists had last night again stated that the hostages would be freed today.
Seven policemen were killed and ten others injured during a fierce encounter with Maoists in Sitlakodasi forest under Kajra police station in Lakhisarai district on August 29. The ultras had also kidnapped the four policemen.
The Maoists had on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the state government that they would kill hostages if it failed to release their eight jailed colleagues - Jai Paswan, Vijay Chourasia, Prem Bhuiyan, Pramod Barnawal, Ramvilas Tanti, Ramesh Tirkie, Arjun Koda, and Rattu Koda.
Avinash, a self-proclaimed spokesman for the Maoists, had then informed media offices that the ultras had killed SI Abhay Yadav following expiry of the deadline, but the police had recovered the bullet-ridden body of BMP ASI Tete from Singrishi dam's Smra Tari forest in Lakhisarai district.
It had forced the Chief Minister to offer safe passage to the representatives of the Maoists coming for talks on the crisis.
Kumar convened an all-party meeting on Saturday that had evolved a consensus asking the Maoists to release the three hostages unconditionally.
Avinash had soon after the appeal from the all party meeting, told local media offices in Jamui that the central committee of the ultra-left wing had rejected the offers for talks and decided to release the hostages unconditionally on "humanitarian considerations".

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