Workers check the toy train tracks near Dagapur on Tuesday, a week before the railway minister’s visit to north Bengal. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 21: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is expecting a “positive outcome” at its meeting with Mamata Banerjee during her visit to the hills early next week, the optimism all the more because of the “greater role she is expected to play in the state” in the days to come.
If the meeting takes place, it will be the first between the Morcha and the Trinamul Congress chief in the three years since the hill party’s inception.
As far as the Morcha rivals go, the ABGL has already decided to meet the railway minister when she tours Darjeeling on September 26 and 27. The CPRM, which has the highest following in the hills after the Morcha, said it would meet her if it was invited.
Although the Morcha leadership will take a final decision on the meeting with the railway minister at a central committee session tomorrow, a senior party leader today said the “chances (of meeting her) are bright”.
To underscore the importance of the meeting, a Morcha leader said: “Her political stature and the political situation of Bengal at this juncture cannot be ruled out. We are looking at the greater role she will play in the state in future.”
Another Morcha leader said even as a Union minister, Mamata’s role cannot be ignored. “We can spell out our demands and grievances before her and highlight the plight of the hills people, seeking her intervention.”
Speculation has been high both in the hills and in the plains on the Morcha-Mamata meeting ever since she announced that she would visit Darjeeling with a “message of peace, democracy and unity”. The Trinamul chief said she wanted the hills to “continue to remain a part of Bengal” even while wanting to talk to the people there to sort out the problems.
Gautam Deb, the Darjeeling district Trinamul president, could not confirm if Mamata would meet the Morcha. “We can say that she is coming here with an open mind and with a mission to address the genuine problems of the hills people.”
If Union ministers and even the chief minister can hold one-to-one talks with the Morcha delegation for so many times, there is nothing wrong if the railway minister meets the Morcha, Deb added.
The ABGL said it would request the minister to take steps to restore peace and democracy in the hills. “We will point out the atrocities of the Morcha and bring her attention to the murder of our leader Madan Tamang, as nothing has been done yet by the CID to catch main culprit Nickole Tamang who has escaped from their custody,” said ABGL working president Dawa Sherpa.
Govind Chhetri, the organisational head of the CPRM, said: “We will not go on our own but if invited, we will definitely meet Mamata Banerjee. We want her to stay in the hills and understand the problems faced by the people, both from development as well as political point of view.”
DHR officials, however, are yet to receive any itinerary of the minister. “We are readying the toy train tracks, the stations, loco-shed and the headquarters. However, no itinerary has reached us so far,” an official said.
Trinamul sources said Mamata would arrive at New Jalpaiguri on September 26 and head for Darjeeling by road. Next day, she is expected to leave for Calcutta by train in the afternoon.
Hill visit a gimmick, says Biman
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 21: The CPM today described Mamata Banerjee’s proposed visit to the hills as “political gimmick”, while blaming the Trinamul Congress leader for bad roads in the region.
“We do not believe in political gimmicks like her (Mamata). People, too, have started losing their faiths on her for these publicity stunts,” CPM state secretary Biman Bose said in Jalpaiguri when asked why the chief minister is not visiting Darjeeling.
Bose, also the Left Front chairman, accused the Trinamul leader of not taking any step to repair the potholed roads in north Bengal. “She had been repeatedly saying that she would turn north Bengal into Switzerland but cannot address basic problems like bad roads. The Trinamul chief, despite being a minister in Delhi, has not taken any step for quick repair of the roads under the jurisdiction of the NHAI, which is a central organisation. This only shows how ‘sincere’ she is,” Bose said.
On the emergence of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, Bose said the CPM was scrutinising its demands. “Whichever of them are of public interest, we will organise movement on them.” 
Consumers relieved of paying dues of Electricity Bill

KalimNews:Roshan Giri, said that we will not leave the Dooars and plains till our last breath  but for the present GRA we want atleast 30 percent of the proposed area. And the government should give us in writing about the future inclusion of other parts after the 2011 election. Center has assured us and we are also confident that within 2012 we will be upgraded to Union Territory. Roshan was speaking during an  an interactive programme organised by JSTO a teachers' wing of GJMM in Kalimpong for the clarification of the recent developments in the tripartite Talks and the demand of GJMM. In the panel were GJMM leaders Roshan Giri, HB Chhetri, Lalit Pariyar, Trilok Dewan, Amar Rai, Jyoti kr Rai and RB Bhujel who answered the questions raised by the audience in Ramkrishna Rangamanch. 
Answering to the queries HB Chhetri said that consumers will not be levied the dues of the electricity and telephone bills, it will be managed by the center from any other fund. 
Most of the speakers said that we have to rely on the governmental officers for governing GRA in an effective manner, so are in need of efficient and hill loving experts. Problem of Adhoc staff will also be settled in the next talks, they said.  
Bail plea
KalimNews: Anticipatory bail plea for the the two women GJMM members will be heard today at Darjeeling District CJM and Session Court. Babita Ganguli and Sona Sherpa are the two accused females in the Madan Tamang murder case. They were named by the CID in its list of accused. The other 23 of the list are still abscondng and had evaded the court for surrender. So far Police had arrested 8 of them but 1 Nicole Tamang fled while on Police remand.
Kidnapped Assam tea grower Ajay Subba freed after 6 days
IANS, Guwahati, Sep 21 : Tea grower Ajay Subba, kidnapped by suspected militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) last week, returned home early Tuesday, police said.
A police spokesperson said Subba, the owner of a small tea garden in eastern Assam's Tinsukia district, arrived home after being let off by kidnappers a few kilometres away from his residence.
'I really did not know why I was kidnapped, but I was told by my captors that there was some misunderstanding and they were sorry for holding me hostage,' Subba told IANS after being released.
Police earlier said Subba was kidnapped at gunpoint Sep 14 from close to his plantation.
'I don't know if they were ULFA or others, but they were armed. I was treated very nicely and was served food to eat properly,' Subba said.
'I was taken blindfolded and kept in some jungle area although they frequently changed locations.'
Police, however, are investigating if Subba was released after the family paid ransom money to the kidnappers.
'We shall interrogate him and find out if money changed hands for securing his release,' a senior police official said.
Subba is the nephew of controversial former Assam Congress MP and lottery baron Mani Kumar Subba.
'I am happy at being released and thanked all those who stood by my family during the past one week,' Subba said.