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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

96 hrs Bandh of GJM ... Strict strike for rank & bosses too... Schools for Adivsis promised

KalimNews: In view of the bandh called by GJM one company of State Armed Police is deployed in the areas of Siliguri plains where there is possibility of clashes between bandh supporters and other opposing parties. Police force other districts too have been deputed for maintaining law and order said DP Singh SP of Darjeeling. In the meantime Mohan K Gandi Darjeeling District Magistrate has directed all Subdivsional Officials to remain alert throughout the period of strike.
Ashoke Bhattacharya Municipality affairs Minister indicated of GJM having links with ULFA. He said that GJM is visiting Assam very often and may have links with ULFA. Birsa Tirky  State Pesident of ABAVP said that ABAP will oppose the bandh in the Dooars area and we have informed the Jalpaiguri DM that we oppose the strike and do the needful to foil the GJM diktat. He further said that all tea gardens will remain open and those in favour of bandh will be dealt by our supporters.
New Hindi schools
TT, Jalpaiguri, Jan. 11: A total of 19 Hindi medium primary schools will be opened in the Dooars area of Jalpaiguri district and another 44 primary schools will be upgraded to upper primary institutions with Classes V and VI.
Samar Ghosh, deputy secretary of state school education department, made the announcement here today after a meeting in which a delegation of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad was present.
KalimNews: In the meeting held in circuit house of Jalpaiguri it was also declared that one Junior High school and one Higher secondary school will be established for Hindi medium students in the Dooars area. ABAVP President Birsa Tirky expressed his satisfaction on the proposal of the government.  He further said that from the month of February the primary schools will function for the session 2011.
Sabitri PIL
TT, Calcutta: Justice Jayanta Biswas of Calcutta High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition moved by Sabitri Mitra, former Congress MLA from Malda, who was expelled from the House recently for defecting to the Trinamul Congress. Mitra, in her petition, had challenged the legality of the process adopted by Speaker, Hashim Abdul Halim, while expelling her from the House on the basis of a letter by the then chief of Congress Legislature Party, Manas Bhuniya.
Train timings
TT, Siliguri: Four long distance trains run by the Northeast Frontier Railway have been rescheduled. The 12346 Saraighat Express that was supposed to leave Guwahati at 12.45pm on Monday will leave the station at 7.30pm on Wednesday. The 14055 Brahmaputra Mail will leave Dibrugarh at 6pm on Wednesday instead of 11.10pm scheduled on Monday. The 15646 Guwahati–Lokmanya Tilak Express will leave Guwahati at 8.30pm on Wednesday instead of 4.45pm on Monday and the 12501 Poorvotar Sampark Kranti Express will leave Guwahati at 8am on Wednesday. It was supposed to depart at 6am on Monday.
Morcha  Winter vacations to beat band
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said its strict enforcement of the 27-day bandh would extend to its leaders and the ranks too who would not be allowed to move around unnecessarily.
The announcement comes even as nearly 4,000 people — mostly residents as the hills do no have much tourists now — left for the plains throughout the day, advancing their winter vacation to beat the strike.
“We usually go for our annual holidays in January as schools only reopen in February after winter. We were supposed to leave on January 16 but we advanced our vacations because of the strike and are leaving today,” said a resident of Toongsoong, who did not want to be named.
The family from Toongsoong will spend a day in Siliguri before a month-long tour of Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Goa and Mumbai and return on February 15, when the three-phase general strike is supposed to end and give over to an indefinite fast by Morcha leaders.
Another category of hill residents, who left for Siliguri, are those with winter homes or rented apartments in the plains. They don’t have vacation plan as such.
“Families with elderly members usually have accommodations in Siliguri for the winter. Students appearing for school passing or graduation exams also prefer Siliguri for better coaching facilities. They have homes to stay there,” said Pranab Rai, a resident of Darjeeling. With the prolonged strike call, most people are now making use of these accommodations.
These people hope to come up immediately, if the bandh is called off mid-way.
The first phase of the four-day shut down will continue till January 15 followed by a two-day break. The strike, as it stands now, will again commence on January 18 and continue till the 25th of this month before resuming on the 29th. It will then continue till February 12.
The rush to Siliguri was such that there was a shortage of vehicles in the later part of the day.
“Even vehicles which normally ferry passengers between Darjeeling and Sonada, 25km away, were off to Siliguri today. These off-the-route vehicles are charging Rs 150 instead of Rs 100 as they are not sure whether they will get passengers while returning. Nearly 4,000 people today left the hills,” said a transporter.
In fact, desperate to leave, many residents offered to reserve taxis to Siliguri for Rs 2,000 instead of the normal fare of Rs 1,000-Rs 1,200.
The Morcha, which has called the strike to pressure the Centre into “clearing its stand on Gorkhaland” is determined to enforce it strictly this time around.
“Only those central committee members assigned specific jobs can move around during the strike. Even our leaders will not be allowed to move around unnecessarily in their vehicles,” said Binay Tamang, assistant secretary of the Morcha.
“Only NH31A will be kept out of the purview of the bandh along with essential services. However, the shops along the highway will have to down their shutters.”
Garden managements fear the possibility of skirmishes in estates where there are Morcha rivals. “There could be problems in Longview, Monteviot, Singel, Liza Hill, Chungtung, Rangmok-Cedar and Marybong gardens where there are CPRM and GNLF supporters,” said a garden official. The CPRM and the GNLF have both opposed the strike.
Support for 2nd state panel proposal
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Jan. 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said it would welcome the setting up of the second states reorganisation commission (SRC) as suggested by leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri told The Telegraph that his party had always been in favour of the SRC because its very constitution will in a way recognise the fact there are many communities in the country which aspire and deserve to have a state of their own.
“In this context, Gorkhaland should get the first priority as we have been able to convert the demand into a popular movement. Sooner it happens the better,” said Chhetri.
He said since the first SRC had generally favoured the creation of smaller states on the basis of language, the constitution of the second panel would free the Gorkhas from “the age-old oppression in the name of national integration”. “We are not only demanding a place under the sun for us, but for others as well,” said Chhetri.
Jaitley had recently advocated creating smaller states, particularly “in the areas where there are neglected regions of a state”.
“Gorkhaland is one such area which some legitimate body or constitutionally constituted body has not considered.…If the government forms an SRC (to look into the demand for smaller states), we certainly will not oppose it,” Jaitley told a TV channel.
The formation of the SRC is something all parties in the hills agree on. In the past, the rivals of the Morcha like the ABGL and the CPRM had come out in favour of its constitution. “The formation of SRC will be very much welcome. It is not right to say smaller states would create disunity in the country. America has 50 states and yet, it is the most powerful country in the world,” CPRM leader Gobind Chhetri told The Telegraph.
GNLF (C) president D.K. Pradhan went to the extent of suggesting that once the second SRC arrived at a decision, there should be a moratorium on the formation new states for another 25-30years. 

Sikkim watches with bated breath

TT, Gangtok, Jan. 11: Transporters and traders in Sikkim are keeping their fingers crossed as no visible measures are in place to ensure traffic on NH31A during the 96-hour first-phase strike of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha starting in the Darjeeling hills from tomorrow.
Although the Morcha has declared that NH31A — the only road link between Sikkim and the rest of the country — will be kept out of the purview of the strike, nobody is taking the announcement at face value as there were many instances of vehicles being targeted on the highway during agitation in the past.
“There is no guarantee that similar attacks on vehicles will not happen on the highway’s stretch in the Darjeeling hills. Paramilitary forces haven’t been spotted yet and chances are that trouble might occur in the early morning hours before the security forces, if ever, are deployed along the highway tomorrow,” said a Sikkim businessman before leaving for Siliguri today.
Four vehicles bound for Siliguri from Gangtok were damaged between Tarkhola and Coronation Bridge on the highway during a Morcha-sponsored bandh on February 18 last year. In another incident, 11 vehicles on the way to Gangtok were ransacked at Tarkhola, few hours before a Morcha bandh began at 6am on March 15.
“Bimal Gurung (Morcha chief) had declared earlier too that NH31A would not be blocked during strikes. However, absence of paramilitary forces and the feeble strength of the Kalimpong police had emboldened criminals to attack Sikkim carriers with impunity,” said a transporter.
“CRPF personnel were deployed on the highway only after the Sikkim government had expressed its outrage over the attacks to both the Centre and Bengal government,” he added.
The Bengal stretch of the highway is 55km.
Although the Darjeeling district authorities requisitioned one company of paramilitary force to keep the highway out of bounds for bandh supporters tomorrow, there is no confirmation of the force’s deployment.
The general belief among the people here is that vehicles could be attacked in the early morning hours as the presence of policemen will be thin on the highway at that time.
A truck drivers’ association has already warned its members against plying the highway during the bandh unless security is ensured.
“We have told our members not to take risk by travelling on NH31A during the strike.If they do, it is on their own risk. We are also ready to ferry essential items and vegetables from Siliguri if we get support and security from the government,” said Mingma Sherpa, the president of the Sikkim Truck Drivers’ Association.
However, taxi and private bus syndicates are ready to watch and wait.“It all depends on the situation tomorrow. If security personnel are present and there is no trouble, taxis will be available. We are not issuing tickets from the counter right now and drivers and passengers will be told to travel on their own risk,” said Dinesh Tamang, the president of the Mainline Taxi Drivers’ Association.
The Sikkim Nationalised Transport is planning to run six extra buses between Gangtok and Siliguri tomorrow.
“Usually, we operate seven buses for public and three for army personnel from Gangtok to Siliguri everyday. We are planning to run 13 buses tomorrow, apart from the three for army personnel,” said G.T. Lachungpa, the additional chief engineer (operations) of the SNT.
All the 13 buses will together leave Gangtok at 8am and reach the border town of Rangpo between 10am and 10.30am.
“The buses will halt at Rangpo and our officials will take stock of the situation. We are exploring the possibility of operating the buses in convoy with security escort and talks are being held with Sikkim police for the purpose,” said Lachungpa.
The East district administration has said enough food items, LPG cylinders and petroleum have been stocked.
“Directions have been given to all dealers to be ready with their trucks to replenish stocks if there are no disturbances on the highway during the bandh,” said subdivisional magistrate (East) A.B. Karki today.

Mercury below zero in Darjeeling but experts rule out snow- cold worry for parents

TT, Siliguri, Jan. 11: The sun showed up and the maximum temperature rose by 4.3 degrees Celsius today even as Siliguri residents went about their jobs layered in heavy woollens on a bright winter day.
Siliguri had experienced a cold day condition yesterday with the maximum temperature plummeting to 13.8 degrees Celsius — 9.2 degrees below the normal. It was the lowest in five years. Weather experts had attributed the chill to a blocked-out sun as a result of cloud and fog cover.
Up in the Darjeeling hills, the day was sunny as usual, even though the maximum temperature was recorded at 12.7 degrees Celsius and the minimum at minus 1 degree Celsius. The normal minimum temperature for Darjeeling is 1.8 degrees Celsius and normal maximum temperature is 9.9 degrees Celsius at this time.
Weather experts ruled out snowfall, saying there was not enough moisture and cloud cover in Darjeeling.
“For snowfall, the minimum temperature has to be around minus 2 to minus 3 degrees Celsius but this should be accompanied by adequate humidity of about 98 percent and very thick cloud cover. Satellite images show that there is not much cloud cover in Darjeeling and the air is dry which is not favourable for snowfall,” said Indranil Sengupta, the assistant meteorological officer at the Regional Met Office in Jalpaiguri.
In Siliguri, Sengupta said, there has been an increase in the maximum temperature because the fog and haze lifted considerably revealing the sun today.
The chill dissipated to some extent but the daytime temperature was 18.1 degrees Celsius, that is still 4.9 degrees below the normal 23 degrees Celsius. “With the cloud and fog gradually dispersing, we can expect the days to get warmer,” said Indranil Sengupta, the assistant meteorological officer at the Regional Met Office in Jalpaiguri.
For the minimum temperature, a decrease till three degrees below the average is considered normal. Today, it was 9.2 degrees Celsius in Siliguri, a departure of just 1.8 degrees from the normal minimum temperature of 11 degrees Celsius at this time.
According to weather officials, residents should be prepared for colder nights as the minimum temperature is expected to drop a few more notches.
“Since the beginning of this month the minimum temperature has not dropped considerably from the normal and has been ranging from 8.6 degrees Celsius to 9.4 degrees. This has resulted from cloud cover that had prevented the heat from escaping. But with a clear sky today, we expect the minimum temperature to show a marked decrease,” Sengupta said.

Polls ahead, home losers get land after 40 yrs
Asok Bhattacharya (right) hands over documents to a land loser at Dabgram satellite township on Tuesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
TT, Siliguri, Jan. 11: More than 200 families were today given their rehabilitation papers, 40 years after their land was acquired for a satellite township here.
The distribution of the letters allotting three cottahs each to the 214 families of Dabgram, 8km from Siliguri, comes a few months before the Assembly elections.
Minister Asok Bhattacharya claimed that he had been fighting to rehabilitate the land losers in Dabgram — part of a new Assembly constituency that his party, the CPM, is eyeing this time.
The Rajgunj Assembly seat, because of delimitation, has been split into two. The new constituency is Dabgram-Fulbari. Both the seats are in Jalpaiguri district. The Rajgunj Assembly constituency is represented by a Trinamul MLA.
“While I was here to campaign for the panchayat elections in 2008, I heard from the local people that they had not been compensated for the land they had surrendered for the township to state housing department,” Bhattacharya said today.
“I immediately took up the issue with state housing minister Gautam Deb. He agreed (to compensate the land losers) and entrusted the responsibility of rehabilitating the displaced villagers to the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority. Accordingly, we identified the families, and handed over the plots to them today. Even though the area is not within my Assembly constituency, I took the initiative and kept my promise,” said Bhattacharya, who is also the chairperson of the SJDA, taking a dig at Rajgunj Trinamul MLA Khageshwar Roy.
The CPM is expected to harp on the fact that Roy had done little to address the issue of the land losers during their poll campaign.
State housing department officials said 754 acres were acquired for the township project. The process of acquisition was long — starting in the mid-sixties and ending in 1981. “Though some residents had taken compensation in cash, the issue of rehabilitating those who lost their houses could not be resolved because of several constraints,” an official said.
The land, 642 cottahs in total, which was handed over to these families is also located in the township area. These areas would be developed by the SJDA in the coming years. “We have decided to improve the infrastructure of the township which is on the periphery of Siliguri. When the land customs station opens at Fulbari on January 22, the township’s importance will grow in leaps and bounds,” he said.
Kalpana, the daughter of late Fatik Sarkar who had surrendered his house and land, said: “Our house was acquired about 30 years ago when my father was alive. He is no more now, but I got the compensation.”

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