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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Set up formula to be formulated at last.... Set-up a forward step, PC tells Morcha New body only after Assembly elections...GJM Talks on GRA not on Gorkhaland... Driver found dead in Teesta

Set-up a forward step, PC tells Morcha
New body only after Assembly elections
Traffic jam on a street in Darjeeling on Tuesday. (Suman Tamang)
TT, Jan. 25: P. Chidambaram today said the “interim set-up” mooted for Darjeeling would not affect the demand for Gorkhaland, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has claimed.
“The Union home minister was of the opinion that the forward path towards statehood was the interim set-up…,” read a statement issued by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri after a meeting with the Union home minister in New Delhi. Giri was part of a five-member delegation that held talks with Chidambaram.
The Morcha said it had also asked the home minister why an interim set-up should precede the final solution. “To this question the home minister maintained that he was in favour of the Gorkhas being in administrative control of the area where its population resides. He however maintained that this includes issues concerning territory which would take some time to reach a consensus and hence the interim set-up ladder was needed,” the statement reads.
Sources in the administration said an agreement on the interim set-up could be reached as early as February. However, the implementation of the set-up is likely to take place only after the Assembly elections.
This is largely because Bengal minister Asok Bhattacharya, who was also present at the talks, made it clear to Chidambaram that it was unlikely that the state government would be able to hold panchayat and civic elections in the Darjeeling hills before the Assembly polls. At an earlier meeting, the state, Centre and the Morcha had agreed to form the interim authority by proportional representation for which rural and municipal elections are a must.
Chidambaram, who agreed with Bhattacharya, made it clear that it would take at least another six-seven months — provided the Assembly polls are held in May — to form the interim authority.
“I mentioned that the state government is sincere to form the interim authority for hills but it should be done only after the party concerned (Morcha) proves its support base by obtaining people’s mandate through elections in panchayats or civic bodies. The success of a strike called by a party cannot be the parameter to gauge it’s support,” Bhattacharya, who was accompanied by home secretary G.D. Gautama, told The Telegraph over the phone from Delhi.
Chidambaram today first met the state government representatives after which he sat with the Morcha delegation. Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh and the interlocutor for the tripartite talks, Lt Gen (retd) Vijay Madan, were also present at the meeting.
Bhattacharya claimed that Chidambaram “praised the sincerity” of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in resolving the Darjeeling issue.
“He also asked me to come up some suggestions. I requested him to ask the Morcha leaders to refrain from strikes and road blockades. We have also made it clear that the state is earnest to provide regional autonomy to Darjeeling hills but would not agree to separate statehood,” he said.
Chidambaram later informed Bhattacharya that his message had been passed to the Morcha.
“They said they would discuss the matter with their party president and get back to him,” Bhattacharya said.
PC charms, GJM leaders fine with interim council

Sabasachi Bandhopadyaay, IE, Kolkata:The eighth round of tripartite talks on Gorkhaland inched forward in New Delhi today with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram persuading the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which yesterday said it would not settle for anything less than a separate state, to consider an interim council for Darjeeling.
The decision came with a rider: “Gorkhaland” would have to be mentioned in the constitution of the interim council so that it makes clear that the sequel to the council would be a separate state.
“We have agreed to an interim council, provided Gorkhaland is mentioned in the constitution of the council. Chidambaram said that was already mentioned in the very preamble of the draft. So we took the draft and asked for 3-4 days’ time to discuss the content. For that, we will stay back in Delhi. We will get back to them in 3-4 days,” Harka Bahadur Chhetri, GJM spokesperson who attended the meeting, said.
Union home secretary G K Pillai, who was also at the meeting, said, “The talks ended on a very positive note. They said they would get back to us with their decision in 3-4 days.”
While the central team was led by Chidambaram, the state government team was led by minister for urban development Asok Bhattacharya and the Morcha delegation was headed by its general secretary Roshan Giri.
All three teams were present when the meeting began. Then the central team had separate meetings with the state government and the GJM.
“We told the home minister that we did not want anything less than Gorkhaland but he said it was a long-drawn affair and many things needed to be looked into. He asked us whether we should move forward with the council or be stuck at status quo. We discussed the matter among ourselves and told the minister our decision,” Chhetri said.
The Morcha has called for a relaxation of bandhs from today to January 28. According to political circles in the hills, the bandh may be relaxed further.
Parties in Darjeeling and Kolkata agreed on one point: nothing would come up before the assembly polls. As of now, only a memorandum of settlement would be signed and staus quo maintained.
Both the CPM and Trinamool Congress said they did not want a division of Bengal. “Gorkhaland will not be accepted under any circumstances. We will accept an interim council with elected members only,” Bhattacharya said.
“After the next assembly elections, Mamata Banerjee, who will be chief minister, will visit Darjeeling and solve the problems there,” said Gautam Deb, Trinamool’s Darjeeling district president.
Lakshman Pradhan, India Gorkha League spokesperson, said, “It is sheer double standards. We do not want any interim council. We want a permanent settlement with democracy and peace.”

TNN, NEW DELHI: Amid indications that the proposed interim authority for Gorkhas may not be in place before the state assembly elections, GJM leaders on Tuesday met Union home minister P Chidambaram and are learnt to have pitched for setting up the regional authority at the earliest.

"We had a detailed discussion on our demand with the home minister. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and was very positive," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri later said.
Giri refused to divulge what transpired, but said the Centre should clear its stand on his party's demand. BJP leader and Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh was also part of the delegation.
Marchers revel in walk past barricade
TT, Jan. 25: Nearly 5,000 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters walked past a few scattered security personnel at Kumani before squatting down on the road saying they had entered the Dooars — a claim disputed by the Jalpaiguri district administration.
A senior district police officer admitted that with the talks on in Delhi today and the assurance from the Morcha that they would remain put, the police guard was a little down and the number of security personnel were also less than usual.
Although Morcha president Bimal Gurung did not take part in the incident, he emerged from his accommodation in the Kumani forest village around 5pm and said his party supporters had given a “just reply to the administration”.
“The Nari Morcha and our other supporters have given a fitting reply to the administration. We are on a peaceful padayatra and have entered the Dooars today. We are still willing to hold discussions with the administration in order to carry out our padayatra in peace,” Gurung told reporters at the spot.
“Police can stop me from entering the Dooars but they cannot stop the people. This is a movement of the people and they can never be stopped,” he said.
Sources at Kumani, 70km from Jalpaiguri town, said about 5,000 Morcha supporters had gathered in front of the police barricade that separated Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts in the morning shouting slogans in support of Gorkhaland. Just after noon, they were prevented from going no further than 100 metres by Morcha leaders present on the spot. Sources also said there were no more than a handful of police, including some women constables, present when the surge happened.
“The members of the Nari Morcha (the party’s women’s wing) were at the top end of the crowd. The cops could do precious little to prevent the barricade from being breached,” said a source.
Jalpaiguri district magistrate Vandana Yadav, however, said the Morcha had not entered Jalpaiguri district. “They have been stopped well inside the jurisdiction of Darjeeling district’s Kalimpong subdivision. We will not relax Section 144 (in the Dooars) as long as their (Morcha’s) movement to enter the Dooars continues,” she said.
Jalpaiguri police chief Anand Kumar and divisional commissioner A.K. Singh visited Kumani around 4pm. “The barricade has been strengthened and no one has been arrested as they had not been able to enter Jalpaiguri. Such attempts will not be tolerated,” Kumar said.
However, a senior police officer said: “As soon as the barricade was breached police from Malbazar and Nagrakata were sent to the spot. A company of CRPF stationed at Nagrakata was also posted there.”
An official in the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation said the Morcha supporters had been staying in the WBFDC property in Kumani without permission. “Our officials in the area have been instructed to inquire into the matter and take appropriate action. This could mean lodging an FIR with the local police,” said the official.
GJM Talks on GRA not on Gorkhaland
PTI, New Delhi, Jan 25 : Home Minister P Chidambaram today held a meeting with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the demand for statehood to Gorkhaland and is understood to have deliberated on setting up of a regional authority for Gorkhas in Darjeeling.
"We had a detailed discussion on our demand with the Home Minister. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere and was very positive," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters after the hour-long meeting.
Giri refused to divulge what transpired, but said the Central government should clear its stand on GJM''s demand.
Sources said the meeting deliberated on the possibility of setting up of the proposed Darjeeling Regional Authority comprising the districts of Darjeeling and adjoining areas but no decision has been taken.
However, it was not clear whether the interim authority would be set up before the West Bengal Assembly elections a few months away.
BJP leader and Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh was part of the delegation.
During the last tripartite political level talks, key issues, including territorial jurisdiction, were sorted out.
The Central and West Bengal governments have earlier worked on the subjects and departments which are expected to be handed over to the interim authority.
Sources said both central and West Bengal governments favoured limiting the proposed authority to just the hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
Since its inception in 2007, the GJM has been demanding a separate Gorkhaland state that includes the Siliguri sub-division of Darjeeling district in the plains and contiguous areas in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.
Talks separately held
KalimNews: GJM tried to evade the media after the center hold meeting with the state and GJM separately one after the other. The center had the meeting with state first and with the GJM representatives which hardly lasted for an hour. Later the state was briefed again about the talk between the GJM and the center. 
However, Roshan Giri said government representatives listened to our demand. It was also known that both Roshan and Harka bdr Chhetri looked happy after the meeting. A source said the GJM delegates were asked not to divulge the outcome and detail of the discussion. 
The discussion was centralised on the proposed GRA. Sources said that it was also informed to the delegates that an agreement in this moment may be possible for the GRA before the election its implementation will take place only after the election. And GRA will be constituted after the civic and panchayat election. This reason of delay is in accordance to the report of Election Commission which states that the present law and order situation of the State is in crisis. Considering this the GJM had no other alternative than to agree for acceptance of the fact.
GJM has neither lost  nor won the  game. The match is still to be played after the election.
Meanwhile today a barricade of the police in Khumani was overturned by the agitated GJM supporters but police positioned themselves in the second barricade placed just a 100mt below the first. Police patrol in duty were less in number and were more relaxed.  It encouraged the GJM teambut police controlled the situation and the enraged GJM supporters in the second baricade. Kalyan Dewan and other GJM leaders followed by thousands of GJM supporters were demanding passage to Dooars. 
On 26th January a Republic day programme is organised in Khumani and probably Bimal Gurung will declare about the bandh during his speech.
Driver found dead in Teesta
TT, Gangtok, Jan. 25: A driver working for a hydroelectric power project in South Sikkim was found dead in the Teesta today, suspected to have slipped into the river during a scuffle between a manpower supplier and three workers at the site on Sunday evening.
However, it is not clear yet whether Safillah Khan, 51, was the same driver who had been allegedly thrashed by the three workers at a tunnel of the power plant.
Khan, a resident of Islampur, was found dead 2km from the tunnel being constructed for the 500MW power plant in Mamring. The body was fished out of the river and sent to a hospital at Namchi for post-mortem.
According to the preliminary investigation, there were injury marks on the body.
“We are ruling out the possibility of murder at the moment. Khan might have fallen into the river when three labourers were assaulted by Pirey Rai and his accomplices at the tunnel mouth on Sunday. The cause of the death can be established only after the post-mortem report is out,” said a police officer.
Pirey Rai from Tarkhola near Rangpo on the Bengal side had engaged three cement mixer vehicles for the power plant. Khan was one of the drivers employed by him. Rai and around 15 others allegedly whisked away the three workers from the tunnel and thrashed them at Rangpo on Sunday.
Rai alleged that the three — Milan Rai, Suraj Basnett and his brother Deepak Basnett — had roughed up a driver engaged by him earlier on Sunday. The three workers were rescued by the Sikkim police while the attackers were trying to dump them at Rangpo. They were admitted to a hospital in Gangtok with serious injuries.
Workers at the site said they were not sure if it was Khan who had been allegedly roughed up by the three. The police arrested six persons for thrashing the workers, though Rai is yet to be traced.
Citing insecurity, labourers kept away from the plant today. “Twenty per cent of the tunnel has been constructed and halt in work for one day results in a loss of about Rs 30 lakh,” said a project officer.
Horn puzzle for CID
TT, Alipurduar, Jan. 25: Foresters have found the body of a rhino with a portion of its horn missing in Jaldapara yesterday, prompting them to think of handing over the case to the CID.
The patrolling team of Jaldapara west range found the carcass in the Torsha-III compartment of Moira beat yesterday morning.
Around one inch of the animal’s horn had been hacked away, raising apprehensions that poachers might be lurking in the forest. The foresters have lodged an FIR with the Falakata police.
The officers suspect that someone had cut a portion of the horn before the body was spotted by the patrol team.
Divisional forest officer, wildlife III, Omprakash said: “The police are investigating and if necessary, we will hand over the case to the CID.”
According to the foresters, 1kg of rhino horn can cost anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 80,000 in the grey market.
The horns are often used by tribals in Burma, Nepal and Myanmar, as medicines.
According to the foresters, the female rhino, which had a calf aged around seven months, had suffered injuries in the stomach because of an infighting on January 3.
The rhino was tranquillised and treated by the vets of Jaldapara.
“The rhino was hurt and perhaps died of the injury. One inch of the horn is missing. We suspect that before the foresters spotted the carcass, somebody had cut a portion of the horn,” said Omprakash.
The programme co-ordinator of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, Animesh Bose, said the last poaching case in the sanctuary was reported in September 2001.
“Although this may not be a poaching case, a portion of the horn missing is definitely a cause of concern for the foresters. The foresters must track for the horn before it reaches any smuggler. After this incident, the foresters should increase vigilance and intensify patrolling,” he said.
INDIA: The state of the republic at 61
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
The integrity of a republic and the determination of its people depend upon the legitimacy of their government. Since declaring the Union of India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic that assures its citizens justice, equality, and liberty and to be a nation that endeavours to promote among them all fraternity, 61 years ago, the country today has still a long way to go to realise the dreams of its founding fathers. 
The Indian Constitution, a social document, as referred to by Granville Austin, drafted to further "the aim of social revolution or attempt to foster this revolution by establishing conditions necessary for its achievement" depends much upon a government that has a democratic executive which is stable, responsible and impartial. ( Image:the Preamble of the Constitution of India.)
The defining characters of the country's executive has deteriorated to such levels over the past 61 years that it is not even a shadow of what it ought to be. Instead of undertaking honest endeavours to correct this and to contribute to the nation building exercise, today, despite of its symbolic value, the integrity of the republic according to the determination of a large section of its people, has been reduced to the hoisting of the national flag in states like Jammu and Kashmir, that struggles to return to normalcy from the externally sponsored and internally motivated civil war.
After declaring the country as a republic 61 years ago and 63 years since gaining independence from colonial rule, India today is still an underperforming state for more than 60 percent of its population. Despite maintaining a steady and decent growth rate for the past five years, the country is home for an alarmingly high number of persons, estimated to be 75 percent of its population, who live below the poverty line. This is a condition worse than in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Corruption, the omnipresent cancer that has eaten the country from within, has reduced the executive and the administration to a condition comparable with that of a termite ridden tree that waits for a strong wind to complete its downfall. Irrespective of their ideologies the political parties that exercise power in India have only competed between themselves to preserve the corrupt bureaucracy that always yearned to remain the mainstay of the politicians and rich. 

Despite the weekly reportage of corruption, where politicians d bureaucrats have been exposed of swindling millions worth tax payers' money there is no healthy debate yet in the country of the urgent requirement for a credible corruption prevention agency. One among the many that already exist, the Central Bureau of Investigation, yesterday was pulled up by the Kerala High Court and cautioned that the Court would have to take action against the Bureau should it continue intervening in the investigation of a politically sensitive murder case to save some of the high-ranking, as well as corrupt politicians.
The Bureau is a typical Indian example of how these agencies are created and accustomed to doing anything else other than their statutory mandate, which is to detect, investigate and prevent corruption. The allegations of corruption against the present Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, is yet one more example of the stark reality of the extent to which corruption has eaten into the justice system of the country. The continuing reluctance of the Union Government to initiate an investigation into the scam, that it its wild course has tainted further none other than the Supreme Court of India, the highest seat of justice in the country, shows the extent to which this cancer has nullified the notion of justice in the country.
Corruption however is not a problem in itself. It is the result of much more deep-rooted issues within the administration of a state. In that, corruption flourishes only to the extent to which an environment for corruption prevails. This environment includes not only the administrative mainframe, but also the general perception of the public about the character of their state. For the ordinary citizen, there are some key institutions that represent the symbols of the state. 

Of them one of the most important element is the police, as the police is not only a uniformed state presence, but is also the symbol of its authority. A reform to the existing framework of administration is thus not possible in India without addressing the entrenched problems relating to policing in the country. Foremost in the list is the practice of the use of brutal force with impunity. So far the national debate to bring about changes to this unacceptable status quo has halted at the stage of the Parliamentary Select Committee proposing drastic revisions to the proposed law against torture. 
The Committee has suggested overarching revisions to the proposed law, which in its present form is none other than an eye wash legislation to justify India's proposal to ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The proposed law against torture, the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010 in its current form will be just one more legislation to justify the usual claim of the Government of India before the international community that the country has adequate legislation to guarantee the rule of law. What is ignored by international jurists and kept hidden by the country's government is that despite having laws, justice and redress remains a distant dream for most in the country.
This denial of justice is visible in the extrajudicial executions and encounter killings reported from states like Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir; in the despicable neglect of the state and central government of the tribal and otherwise ethnically minority communities that led to the disastrous and dangerous growth of armed extremist groups like the Naxalites and the other armed militia groups; in the cases of torture reported from the length and breadth of the country; in starvation deaths, forced evictions and bonded labour.
Every case of unresolved human rights violation that is reported from India is an assertion that the country needs much more than the pseudo chivalry of the hoisting of a flag in a state that has an alarming and disproportionate army presence. Every case of rights violations in the country is yet another cry for help of a hapless citizen who is denied his or her fundamental right to be treated equally and humanely that the constitution they believe in guarantees.
January 26 will be meaningful only if the guarantees in the constitution that proclaimed India a republic 61 years ago are also realised. Until then the Republic Day will remain an occasion for the annual remembrance of that great nation India once resolved to become and Indians thus far have failed to realise.

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