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Thursday, January 6, 2011

GJM's bundh for 96 hours from 12 Jan ... Government tries to get rid of ‘double standard’ tagGovernment tries to get rid of ‘double standard’ tag

KalimNews : Following the publication of a report on the situation in Andhra Pradesh formed to examine the situation in the State of Andhra Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate State of Telangana as well as the demand for maintaining the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh by Srikrishna Committee a Committee for consultation on the situation in Andhra Pradesh, GJMM has called a series of strikes starting with 96 hrs strike from 12th January to 15th January. 
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the main political organisation of Darjeeling hills spearheading the demand of Gorkhaland, has welcomed the report and announced that to protest the stepmotherly treatment of the concerned govt towards the Gorkhas it has declared a series of strikes to intensify its movement. 
The 96 hours long bundh in the proposed Gorkhaland area with effect from the 12th of January will be followed by similar kind of bundh from 18 to 25 January and 29 January to 12 February, 2011. Party has further announced to organise fast-unto-death immediately from 16th February to be participated by Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri and other 1st line leaders like Presidents and Secretaries of Sub Divisional Committees if its demand to create a separate state of Gorkhaland is not considered by the govt.
Observers feel that the decision of the GJM has put a question mark on the  proposed interim set-up which the party has been bargaining till date with the govt. They also view that the Srikrishna Committee report would definitely add more fuel to the fire in other parts of the country where similar kind of demands are being raised by the different outfits.
Back home, the hill people have started to change their scheduled programmes in view of the proposed bundhs.
Appetite whetted, Morcha piles heat for statehood committee

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 6: The Srikrishna Committee report has found an immediate echo in Darjeeling.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced a 27-day general strike in three phases in the hills for Gorkhaland, concluding that the Srikrishna report has signalled the beginning of a process to create a Telangana state.
The Morcha appears to have turned up the heat on the Centre to persuade it to form a panel like the Srikrishna Committee to look into the demand for Gorkhaland.
With the Srikrishna panel suggesting either bifurcation or substantial autonomy for the Telangana region, the Morcha now feels that an interim set-up in Darjeeling is too modest a goal. A fresh round of hard bargaining with the Centre and the state looks inevitable now.
The party said the interim set-up would not be discussed now. “After the Srikrishna report, we will not stop at anything short of statehood,” a Morcha leader said.
At the end of a four-hour central committee meeting of the Morcha in Mirik, general secretary Roshan Giri said: “We have decided to call the general strikes to press for the creation of the Gorkhaland state. From the report, it is clear that some process for the creation of Telangana has started and we believe that we have been unfairly treated by the Centre.”
The strike from January 12 till February 12 (see chart) will also extend to the Dooars and Terai, where the Morcha hold is limited to a few Gorkha-dominated pockets.
The first phase of the strike will be from January 12 to 15, followed by a two-day break. The next phase will be from January 18 till 25. The final phase will be from January 29 till February 12, almost a month before the tourist season kicks off from mid-March.
Not many winter tourists are in the hills now. A tour operator said the figure would be a little over a thousand in the entire Darjeeling hills. In the peak season — from mid-March to May and from October-November — nearly 2,000 tourists visit Darjeeling town alone every day.
From February 16, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung and other leaders will go on an indefinite hunger strike. An indefinite fast by Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader Chandrasekhar Rao last year had set off the chain of events that led to the formation of the Srikrishna Committee.
“Bimal Gurung, along with the party vice-presidents, general secretary and all the presidents and secretaries of the subdivisional committees, will sit on an indefinite hunger strike to demand Gorkhaland,” said Giri.
“The Morcha now needs to go to the people to seek their support on pushing for a separate Gorkhaland state,” an observer said. “The only acceptable solution for the Morcha is a committee along the lines of the Srikrishna Committee. The party cannot scale down its agitation now. It has reached a crucial stage.”
Giri said the Centre should immediately clear its stand on Gorkhaland. “We want the Centre to first clear its stand on Gorkhaland,” he said. “We want the statehood issue to be thoroughly examined.”
Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said the strike would be strictly enforced. “This time, in fact, the strikes would be enforced more firmly than before. There will be no arrangements to transport tourists and others out of the strike zone. However, emergency services like hearse, fire tenders, milk supply, emergency section of the electricity department as well as weddings will be kept out of the bandh’s purview.”
CPM’s rally permission revoked
Avijit Sinha & Vivek Chhetri, Jan. 6: The district administration today revoked the permission granted to the CPM’s Saturday meeting in Darjeeling, playing safe in the face of a barrage of criticisms that the government had double standards. Permission has also been refused to the hill-based Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to hold a meeting in the plains.
Darjeeling district magistrate Mohan Gandhi said since there were objections from police, permission could not be granted to the CPM and the Morcha for meetings in Darjeeling and Siliguri respectively on January 8.
“Considering a number of factors and to ensure that there is no breach of law and order, it has been decided that permissions to hold public meetings would not be granted to any of these parties,” the district magistrate said. “Both the political parties would be intimated of the administrative decision by today.”
CPM leaders in Siliguri, however, said they were not aware that the permission had been revoked. But local MLA and minister Asok Bhattacharya said in Calcutta that the district administration while welcoming Mamata Banerjee to the hills was denying his party permission to hold a rally in Darjeeling. He was referring to the Trinamul chief’s visit to the hills in October.
The authorities’ decision comes even as the Morcha said it would not obstruct the CPM from holding a rally in Darjeeling’s Chowk Bazar on January 8. It had even dared the CPM to hold the rally to prove its support base in the hills.
Bimal Gurung’s party had wanted to organise a meeting in Siliguri on the same day to show off its strength in the plains. The Morcha had assumed the moral high ground — by its no-obstruction assurance — though it was almost sure it would not be permitted to hold a rally in the plains. Morcha secretary Binay Tamang refused comment on today’s development.
Yesterday, the party had accused the CPM-led state government of double standards after the CPRM, another hill-based outfit, was refused permission to hold a rally in Siliguri.
“The double-faced character of the CPM government has been laid bare,” Morcha media and publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri had said.
Today, CPM leaders in Siliguri showed journalists the permission letter sent by the Darjeeling sub-divisional officer on January 3.
“We had applied for permission on December 20 and the SDO has granted it on January 3. Our party workers are very much ready for the meeting,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a CPM state committee member from Siliguri.
Asked about the latest decision, he said: “We will not comment on it … as we have no clue that the administration has revoked the permission. We are yet to get any written confirmation. Regarding proposed meetings of other parties in Siliguri, it is the prerogative of the administration (to give or not to give permission).”
GLP crackdown
Cases have been started against Gorkhaland Personnel, the lathi-wielding voluntary squad of the Morcha, at Darjeeling, Mirik, Runglee-Rungliot and Kurseong police stations for wearing army fatigues. Civilians are prohibited from wearing such fatigues under Section 140 of the IPC.
TNN, Jan 7, DARJEELING: Gorkhaland Personnel, the vigilante wing and sometime moral police of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, is facing police action for donning the fatigues meant exclusively for the armed forces.
According to Kunal Agarwal, the Darjeeling Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), cases have already been lodged at Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik and Runglee Rungliot police stations on Wednesday. "We will be executing the warrant order of the court tonight," he said, when asked about the police action.
Formed in 2008, GLP as Gorkhaland Personnel is popularly known has faced severe criticism time and again for its policing activities, which, people felt, are ways of implementing GJM's strongarm tactics.
On January 1, local residents clashed with GLP at Gorubathan in Kalimpong after alleged excesses by the latter. One GLP cadre was seriously injured.
Local resentment against GJM reached a peak when the force was deployed as moral police on Chowrasta, the popular promenade in Darjeeling. GLP would round up those caught smoking or in a drunken state. They were also deployed along NH-31A to check vehicles carrying alcohol from Sikkim.
Though the state government has maintained a policy of no confrontation as far as GJM activities are concerned, there was a crackdown on GLP last year, when they were forced to vacate government and DGHC guest houses it had been occupying for months. The latest crackdown is being seen as additional pressure on a beleaguered GJM, which has seen a downslide of support in the Hills ever since the public murder of ABGL chief Madan Tamang in May 2010.
Though GLP cadres usually wear tracksuits, those guarding GJM chief Bimal Gurung during public meetings are seen in the camouflage fatigues of the Army. GJM claims that the GLP is a voluntary unit that is given physical training in camps in Phagu tea garden in Gorubathan and in Jamune and Roy Villa in Darjeeling.
Col Ramesh Allay, president of Bharatiya Gorkha Bhootpurva Sainik Morcha and GLP head, said, "We haven't broken any law. We are involved social work. We had passed an order asking GLP to not wear army fatigues. It could be that some of our men have been wearing fatigues without our knowledge. Will check on that."
The ASP said that cases against GLP had been started last year itself and that the latest development was not a sudden measure as the Kurseong court had also issued warrants against them. 

TRS, other Telangana groups reject Srikrishna panel report 
HT, HYDERABAD/NEW DELHI: TRS and other political leaders from Telangana cutting across the spectrum rejected the Justice Srikrishna Committee report on the contentious statehood issue saying it "failed to come up with a clear solution".
Students agitating for the separate state hit the streets and set a bus on fire in Osmania University campus, the hotbed of Telangana movement, and clashed with security personnel who hit back by exploding teargas shells.
The students' joint action committee has called a Telangana bandh tomorrow in protest against the report.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, spearheading the Telangana statehood agitation, said "we are rejecting the options suggested by the Srikrishna Committee.
"We want nothing but a Telangana state that existed prior to November 1, 1956. The creation of an exclusive development board for the region, as suggested by the Committee and conversion of Hyderabad into a Union Territory are totally unacceptable for us," he said.
"We cannot lose our right on Hyderabad," the TRS chief said.
Telugu Desam Party's Telangana Forum convenor Nagam Janardhana Reddy demanded the Centre table a Bill in the Budget session of Parliament for creation of Telangana state irrespective of the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee.
"The six recommendations made by the Committee have compounded the chaos. They are an insult to the sentiments of Telangana people. The government of India has no other option but to respect the people's sentiment and create Telangana state," Janardhana Reddy said.
Congress legislators from Telangana too echoed similar feelings saying the Centre should carve out a separate state in accordance with its statement made on December 9, 2009.
"We want Telangana state and nothing else. We hope the Centre will respect the wishes of people of the region and grant statehood", Congress MLAs from Telangana R Damodar Reddy, Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy, Rajaiah, MLC Yadav Reddy said.
BJP also pressed for early creation of Telangana saying delay in formation of the state would harm the interests of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana region.
The party also accused the Congress-led UPA government of acting in an "irresponsible and childish" manner on the Telangana issue.
Senior TDP MLA from Bhanswada in Nizamabad district, Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy today quit the party and joined TRS.
Congress MLA Uttam Kumar Reddy said bifurcation of the state into Andhra and Telangana was the only acceptable option.
However, Andhra Pradesh CPI(M) leader B V Raghavulu said status quo should be maintained on Telangana issue and the Centre should come out with a solution.

‘Second-best’ ache for govt  Split-Andhra option ties Delhi’s hands
NISHIT DHOLABHAI AND G.S. RADHAKRISHNA, TT, Jan. 6: In a world seemingly short of gentlemen, the UPA government has been saddled with a “second-best” millstone around its neck.
Among the six options suggested by the Srikrishna Committee on the demand for Telangana, the panel itself has termed unrealistic the first four options.
The option of status quo, the all-season lifeline for governments faced with tricky situations, is one of those vetoed by the committee, which means the Centre, grappling with an image problem and a price spike, will come under pressure to take some decision.
That leaves only two options — the committee has labelled one the “best way forward” and the other the “second-best”.
The “best way forward” refers to keeping Andhra Pradesh united with autonomy and symbols of power such as a deputy chief minister from the Telangana region.
The “second-best” proposes the creation of a Telangana state with Hyderabad as its capital as well as the interim capital of the remaining state called Seemandhra (combining Rayalaseema and the coastal regions of Andhra).
The united option would have been the “best way forward” for the Congress-led UPA government, too.
But this plan is anchored on a discredited gentlemen’s agreement that was sealed over half a century ago when the Telangana and Andhra regions merged to form Andhra Pradesh.
So unpopular is this agreement — largely because its promises were never implemented — that a telling comment from a Telangana spearhead became the anthem in the region today.
“The world is short of gentlemen, particularly in this part of the world,” said Konda Lakshman Bapuji, considered the grandfather of the Telangana agitation. Bapuji was referring to how the agreement was flouted.
The committee too listed statistical proof that supported such a perception. Together, the Seema-Andhra region held the chief minister’s post for 42 years while Telangana held it for only 10.5 years. “Thus, the combined domination of the Seema-Andhra region is apparent,” the report said.
Not surprisingly, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, whose leader Chandrasekhar Rao’s fast last year had set off the chain of events that culminated in the Srikrishna Committee report, is rooting for Option 5 — the bifurcation of the state.
The UPA has not yet made public its mind — it is hoping to buy as much time as possible by setting up more meetings to gauge the mood of the key players.
But Option 6 — united Andhra with more funds and jobs to Telangana — will suit the UPA best and stem a threatened erosion of ranks in the region seeking statehood.
The Centre could have used its persuasive skills and dangled the carrots of deputy chief ministership and jobs for the region under normal circumstances. But by putting down bifurcation as one of the options, the committee has limited the government’s scope for manoeuvre and the parties seeking statehood cannot now afford to be seen as acceding to anything less than a new state.
The TRS and friends — the BJP has wholeheartedly thrown its weight behind the statehood demand — have already said nothing other than statehood would do.
Given a choice, the UPA government would have liked to go by its 2004 election manifesto where it wanted to put the issue before a states reorganisation commission. “But that was not in the terms of references of the committee,” a source said.
For the time being, the Centre is treading with extreme caution. Union home minister P. Chidambaram declared the government’s intention to find a “just, honourable and practicable solution that has the widest measure of support among all stakeholders”.
Asking all concerned to give the report of the panel “most careful, thoughtful and impartial consideration” and read it with an “open mind”, he counselled everyone to be prepared to persuade, and to be persuaded by, people who held another point of view.
A meeting of all political parties of Andhra Pradesh is likely to be convened later this month.
Separate state will become hotbed of Naxalism: Report

HT, Hyderabad, 7 January: A separate state of Telangana could become a hotbed for Maoists, the Srikrishna Committee has warned. This was one of the main reasons why the panel did not favour such a move. “It also has to be borne in mind that Telangana with or without Hyderabad is likely to experience a spurt in Maoist activity,” says the panel’s report.
In a virtual bearing out of these fears, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K Chandrasekhar Rao admitted a former top Maoist, Sambasividu, into his party on Tuesday and declared that Telangana would follow the Naxal agenda.
“The Naxals are struggling to ensure food for the poor, home for the homeless and land to weaker sections,” said Rao, whose party has led the separate statehood campaign.
The Srikrishna Committee report said it had analysed the long-term security implications of the formation of Telangana.
Apprehensions of a spurt in Maoist activity “had been expressed in the memoranda submitted by the political parties and various other groups, and also during interactions with different stakeholders at the state-level meetings as well as when the committee visited the districts and villages,” it said.
“Besides, the member secretary had one-to-one discussions on this subject with senior officers of the state government, police department and local administration (in 17 districts). Inputs were also obtained from various other sources,” said the Committee in a brief chapter on ‘Law and order and internal security dimensions’.#
The Committee also dwelt on the situation in three most recently created states — Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand — and pointed out how the latter two continue to face security problems, particularly from the Maoists. The report added that a note on these issues has been prepared and submitted to the ministry of home affairs in a separate cover.
Srikirshna report backs one Andhra, Centre's headache is back
Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN, NEW DELHI: The much-awaited Srikrishna report has strongly plumped for a united Andhra Pradesh, citing the importance of Hyderabad for all the regions of state and the possibility of violence as key hurdles in the way of a bifurcation of the state. But the rejection of the demand for the state's division has come with a strong acknowledgement of statehood sentiment in Telangana, with the committee saying that status quo can't hold indefinitely in light of the popular wish in this volatile region.
After throwing up six balls in the air, which have all been described as ''options'', some practical and some impractical, the committee has said the ''best option'' was a united state. In that respect, it has endorsed the Union government's U-turn after its decision in favour of a separate Telangana state on December 9, 2009.
The report has said Andhra Pradesh can also be divided into Telangana and Seemandhra (coastal Andhra), with Hyderabad as the former's capital, but only if this was unavoidable and can be clinched peacefully. "The continuing demand for separate Telangana has some merit and is not entirely unjustified," the five-member committee led by retired SC judge B N Srikrishna has said.
Notwithstanding the attempt to balance things against the backdrop of violence in the region and by Maoists, the committee has unambiguously argued that the "best way forward" was a united AP with a statutory and empowered Telangana Regional Council to take care of the interests of the Telangana region.
It suggests that the creation of the Regional Council will mean that there is no status quo for Telangana even if the boundaries of AP are not disturbed. The Regional Council which is proposed to have "adequate funds, functions and functionaries" is conceived as a consultative/advisory body to the state assembly on policy issues concerning the Telangana region.
The panel concedes that the united state model may trigger a backlash in Telangana in the short-term, along with pressure on legislators to resign, but will meet wider acceptance in not just Coastal and Rayalaseema regions but also in Hyderabad. Implicit in this is the suggestion that the state should be ready for strong measures to tackle the initial reaction till the message of the regional council percolates down to the people.
The committee considered other options: bifurcation of the state into Seemandhara and Telangana with Hyderabad as UT and the states developing their own capitals being one of them. The others are, bifurcation of the state into Rayala-Telangana (to be formed by merging Telangana and Rayalseema regions) and coastal Andhra states with Hyderabad being part of Rayala-Telangana; bifurcation of AP into Seemandhara and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a UT; and maintaining status quo. However, all of these options have been flagged down on grounds of impracticality and the resistance they might generate.
The report has been rejected by Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the key force behind a separate Telangana state, TDP, PRP, CPI and is unlikely to ease Congress's political troubles in AP as it is cleaved between pro-separate Telangana MLAs and anti-Telangana MLAs. Andhra is crucial for the Congress because it delivered back-to-back wins for the party in Lok Sabha polls.
The Centre will call another meeting by January-end for discussions with political parties over their views on the recommendations.
The report seems to acknowledge that the matters have reached a stage where it would be impossible to ignore the sentiment for separate Telangana. So, its backing for united AP comes with an affirmation that the emotion for separation in Telangana is widespread, stoked by the "psyche of discrimination and domination" owing to non-implementation of the accord which was signed in 1956.
While saying that division of AP should be done if it becomes inevitable and can be settled amicably among all regions, it points to the hurdles. It has warned that creation of Telangana would trigger fear among the non-region settlers while also touching off violent agitations in Rayalaseema and Coastal AP.
Also, even as it takes note of the strength of the separate state, the committee has also argued that the idea of Telangana state is against the modern axiom of economic development. In the biggest jolt to advocates of statehood, the panel found that Telangana was not economically backward as was claimed to prove discrimination against it.
The report cites the importance of Hyderabad and how no region would like to let go of it as one of the reasons for not endorsing the creation of a Telangana state minus the IT hub as its capital. However, the detailed examination of Hyderabad as a UT is a first by an official committee.
Resistance to various possible options — from creation of Telangana to UT status for Hyderabad — and the violence that it may trigger is a recurring theme in the report, with the committee citing the fear as the justification for keeping the state united.
With onus of decision back on the Centre, New Delhi is watching the situation closely. It is well aware that the report falls short of expectations of TRS and the youth who are at the vanguard of movement. While 5,000 paramilitary personnel were despatched to the region in the run-up to report's release, 1,000 more men are on standby.
Home minister P Chidambaram appeared aware of the hit that UPA's credibility has taken following the December 2009 volte face, as he told the all-party gathering that discussions will show the "way forward". He said, "You will note that I have repeatedly used the phrase 'way forward'. I do so in order to reiterate government's intention to find a just, honourable and practicable solution that has the widest measure of support among all stakeholders." 

Captured jumbo falls ill - 4-member vet team to treat calf
TT, Alipurduar, Jan. 6: Tortured, chased and given a hard time by villagers, an elephant calf captured by the forest department on December 23 is now seriously ill prompting foresters to form a vet team to treat it.
The two-year-old male calf had been separated from its herd and roaming the Titi forest area in Jaldapara for at least 10 days before it was captured.
Ramu, as it was named, was being trained by a mahout to become a kunki.
But the animal’s condition started deteriorating since Monday when it developed sores all over the body and began shivering.
A four-member team of veterinarians led by elephant diseases expert Sweta Mandal was called in to treat the animal.
Today, the vets examined the calf and took blood and pus samples, sending them to a private laboratory in Guwahati and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Bangalore for tests.
“The condition of the elephant is serious. Once we get the test reports, we can start proper treatment. The calf is suffering from sores, dehydration and its body temperature is also fluctuating. We have started a strong dose of anti-biotics and we are trying our best to make it recover,” said Mandal .
According to her, being such a young animal and dependent on its mother, the calf had been through a lot of trauma after it was abandoned by the herd.
Divisional forest officer of wildlife III Om Prakash said before it was captured, the animal was “disturbed” by the local people after it was spotted at the Huntapara Tea Estate in Madarihat, 55km from here.
“We have formed a medical board for its treatment and our staff and the mahouts are keeping an eye on him. The animal is not being tethered so that it does not suffer from more stress,” he said.
According to Animesh Bose of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, the calf was tortured by the local people when it entered the Huntapara garden.
“People threw crackers at it and beat it up with sticks and stones and that is why the animal is suffering. We will be happy if the vets can nurse the calf back to normal,” he said.
Finally, whip on NBU 14 for ragging
TT, Siliguri, Jan. 6: North Bengal University’s executive council today unanimously decided to rusticate six senior post-graduate students, suspend three for one semester and expel five from the hostel for ragging 17 juniors last year.
The council was forced to accept the punishment as recommended by an anti-ragging committee of the varsity following pressure from the University Grants Commission and a Supreme Court panel constituted to monitor harassment of junior students on campuses.
Governor M.K. Narayanan, who is the chancellor of the varsity, had also asked all council members to meet him at Raj Bhavan on Saturday afternoon to discuss the issue.
The anti-ragging committee had found that the 14 seniors had made the17 first semester PG philosophy students at a varsity hostel do “obscene and lewd acts and gestures which caused physical and mental torture to the victims”.
The panel’s recommendations had been turned down by the council in a vote on December 16.
However, at the council meeting today, vice-chancellor Arunabha Basumajumdar placed before the members a letter from the UGC asking him to submit within seven days a report on action taken by him against the 14 philosophy students.
“There was a discussion for nearly three hours on the matter. The members opposing the recommendations of the anti-ragging panel were not willing to accept the punishment. They were insisting that the students be suspended for one semester, instead of being rusticated,” said Sushanta Das, the controller of examinations of the NBU.
“However, the ragging is of serious nature and the VC pointed out to them that the UGC could take strict measures if it was not satisfied with the action taken against the guilty students. He told the members that the UGC could cut down the funds to the varsity. Finally, a unanimous resolution to implement the recommendations of the panel was adopted,” he added.
Apart from sending a letter, UGC chairman S.K. Thorat had himself called up the VC asking him to take action immediately.
“Even the liaison officer of Supreme Court’s All India Anti-Ragging Committee, S.K. Basu had rung up the VC and sought a report on the matter. When these facts were placed before the council members, they realised the seriousness of the issue and decided to go approve the recommendations,” said Das.
The council has 28 members and 14 of them attended today’s meeting. Five of the six members who had voted against the punishment at the December 16 meeting were present.
Das said the varsity would start cracking the whip from tomorrow. “All the seniors will have to vacate their hostels tomorrow. We will send a report to the UGC and the chancellor after the recommendations are implemented,” he said.
SDF leader body in gorge
TT, Gangtok, Jan. 6: A founder member of the Sikkim Democratic Front, P Dorjee Bhutia, was found dead with injuries on his body in a gorge near Sevoke yesterday.
Authorities in Gangtok have asked the Bengal government to probe the mysterious death of 45-year-old Bhutia, who had been reportedly missing since December 31.
The body was recovered by Bengal police from the 250-feet deep gorge on the bank of the Teesta near Coronation Bridge yesterday afternoon.
A post-mortem on the body at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital said Bhutia had fallen from a certain height and suffered several injuries on the head and other parts of the body, leading to his death.
“The Sikkim government has taken note of Bhutia’s death and has approached the Darjeeling district administration at the highest level to conduct a speedy investigation in the best manner possible. We cannot comment much as the matter is under investigation. Bhutia’s demise is absolutely unfortunate,” spokesperson for the SDF P.D. Rai told a media conference here this afternoon.
Bhutia, a resident of Geyzing in West Sikkim, was a government contractor.
Bhim Dahal, another spokesperson for the SDF, said: “He (Bhutia) was very close to our heart and was a founder member of the SDF. We will request the investigators to see that the case reaches its logical conclusion.”
According to unconfirmed reports, Bhutia had gone to Siliguri from his residence at Geyzing in West Sikkim on December 31. He was in his private vehicle with the driver.
While returning home, he halted somewhere between Coronation Bridge and Khalijhora for unspecified reasons and asked the driver to take the vehicle to Geyzing. He had been missing since then. However, no missing diary had been filed with police.
The SDF said Bhutia’s mysterious death had stunned the party. In its condolence message, the ruling party has said Bhutia was a founder member of the SDF and was the leader of the youth wing in the West district. He had given up his government job and worked for the SDF, the party said in a press release.
Chief minister Pawan Chamling, who is also the SDF president, has extended his condolences to the bereaved family members.
After the post-mortem, Bhutia’s body was sent to his hometown.
Salute fells fake officer - Imposter claimed to be in IPS
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 6: A salute gave away Md Hayed Khalif.
The 27-year-old who had been masquerading as an IPS officer for sometime was caught red handed this morning when he saluted Darjeeling additional SP, supposedly his senior, in his casuals.

Security personnel, whether from the police or the armed forces, cannot salute their seniors if they are not in their uniform cap and belt. “Khalif saluted dressed in casuals. This criterion of a salute is taught even to a constable,” said Kunal Agarwal, the additional superintendent of police, Darjeeling.
If a junior is not in his uniform, he is only expected to stand at attention when he meets his superior.
“He (Khalif) came to the Darjeeling police station introducing himself to be IPS officer yesterday evening and was directed to Kennelworth (a police guesthouse) by some personnel. In the morning, I visited him and the moment he saluted, I realised he could not be a police officer,” said Agarwal.
Before his arrest, Khalif and his wife Shilpa Hayed, 26, had enjoyed all the facilities an IPS officer is entitled to, including accommodation at Kennelworth and round-the-clock service to ensure that the duo were comfortable during their stay in Darjeeling.
In Gangtok, too, Khalif, who claimed that he was from the 2009 cadre, was allowed to stay at the officers’ mess and had a police pass issued to him for travel to Sikkim’s Nathul-la on the Indo-China border. All along, he had claimed that he had lost his I-card, which would be issued soon afresh. It is suspected that officers, fearing wrath of a senior, did not question him too closely.
But today’s salute turned out to be costly for Khalif as Agarwal immediately started verifying his claims.
“He claimed to have recently graduated from the National Police Academy in Hyderabad but could not even name a single faculty member. He could not tell us about the buildings of the academy also,” said Agarawal.
Khalif had also claimed that his name was Zia-ul-Haque but inquiries revealed that no one with the name had passed out of the Hyderabad academy in 2009. “There was an officer by the name but he is currently undergoing training at Gaziabad. I spoke to that officer,” said Agarwal.
Khalif had also claimed that his father Abdul Rehman was currently the finance secretary with the central government.
“He claimed that his father was a 1981 Bihar cadre (IAS),” Agarwal said.
An enquiry by the Darjeeling police revealed that Asok Chawla, a 1973 Gujarat cadre IAS officer, is currently the finance secretary.
Later in the day, during interrogation, Khalif and his wife, both claiming to be from Bangalore, admitted “they had committed some mistake”.
Khalif told the police that he was working as an engineer with Gammon India at Kochi, Kerala. “We are yet to ascertain whether he really works with Gammon India,” said Agarawal. Shipa, too, has been arrested, as she was aware that her husband was impersonating as an IPS officer. The duo have been booked for cheating by impersonating and will be produced in court tomorrow.
The police said this is the second case of an impostor claiming to be an IPS officer. “The other such case had been registered in Bhatinda, Punjab, three years ago,” said a police official.
Dues mount, Himul teeters
Vivek Chhetri & Avijit Sinha, TT, Darjeeling/Siliguri, Jan. 6: The Himalayan Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Limited’s slow death has been blamed on the bureaucratic inefficiency and lack of professionalism in running the network.
The co-operative or Himul used to provide sustenance to thousands of farmers both in the Darjeeling hills and the plains but with the dairy failing to clear dues of Rs 3 crore, many cattle raisers have stopped supplying milk.
“The bureaucracy is to be blamed for the present state of affairs at Himul. We demand that experts should be engaged to run Himul to make it financially viable,” said Rajya Sabha member Saman Pathak.
The MP said the chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was deeply concerned with the situation at Himul. “The state government has provided a subsidy of Rs 75 lakh to Himul in the last few years. We have asked the finance minister to infuse more funds into the milk unit.”
Aloke Mitra, the general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated Himul Employees’ Union, also touched on the lack of professionalism at the dairy unit. “The plant was run by Anupam Burman till two years back. He was a management expert and had experience in dairy business before. He had sent certain proposals to the government to run Himul in a professional manner and to make the unit stand on its own. However, none of the proposals has been accepted by the government,” said Mitra.
Anupam was the managing director of Himul for two years from October 2007. T.K. Burman, the additional district magistrate of Siliguri, is the MD at present.
Sources said the farmers had not been paid money for the milk they had supplied to Himul since April 2010. The farmers in the hills are registered with 200 co-operative societies and they send around 18,000 litres of milk everyday through six chilling plants to the production unit at Khaprail near Siliguri.
“Today, hardly 3,000 litres of milk are collected at the chilling units in the hills. The shortage in the supply has forced Himul to cut sales. Earlier, we used to sell milk in the Dooars and Cooch Behar but now, only some parts of Darjeeling district and Jalpaiguri town are our markets,” said Mitra.
Himul’s cattle feed unit at Darjeeling More in Siliguri has also scaled down production. “Earlier, the production was around 1,200MT a month. Now, it is only 100MT as suppliers have stopped the delivery of raw material because of non-payment of their dues,” said an employee.
The staff members of Himul have their own share of problems.
“Outstanding money to the employees stands at Rs 17 crore as we are yet to receive revised salaries as advocated by the pay commission. The government had agreed to implement the pay commission recommendations in 2009 but we are yet to receive the revised salaries,” said Sudhangshu Tarua, the general secretary of the Citu-affiliated Dairy Farm Mazdoor Union.
Tarua said lack of funds was to blame for Himul’s present condition. “We were repeatedly told by Asim Dasgupta (finance minister) and Narayan Biswas (animal resource development minister) that funds would be released soon to clear the dues of milk farmers and suppliers of raw material for cattle feed. But the ministers haven’t yet delivered on their promises,” he said.
As of now, around 18,000 litres of milk are sold by Himul everyday, of which, around 3,000 comes from the hills. Another 5,000 litres of milk or so are supplied by the co-operative societies in Siliguri subdivision. The rest is purchased from dairy farmers of Karimpur in Nadia district or Barauni in Bihar.
“These private suppliers too, have dues of Rs 1 crore. So, they, too, might discontinue the supply any day,” said an employee.
Himul MD Burman said it was tough to revive the enterprise unless fresh funds were pumped in. “It is impossible to make Himul viable as the monthly sales proceeds are less than production cost, including salaries of employees. With this deficit adding to the dues, total liabilities have increased.”
Doors open in Delhi for Bhattarai
Sankarshan Thakur, TT, New Delhi, Jan. 6: Top Nepali Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai has allayed Indian apprehensions that they will turn their backs on multiparty democracy or drag their nation under the Chinese umbrella and sought “constructive support” from New Delhi on the formation of a Maoist-led national unity government in Kathmandu to complete the derailed peace process.
“We have a May deadline to meet for constitution formation which is the only way to consolidate democracy in Nepal and India should do all it can to promote democracy,” Bhattarai told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview today.
“There is a mass perception that India is playing a negative interventionist role in Nepal and that should be corrected, a democratic and peaceful Nepal is in the best interests of India.”
Bhattarai is currently in Delhi to attend a seminar on ways through the debilitating political deadlock in Nepal; on the sidelines of the seminar he has also been holding a string of meetings with key Indian leaders and officials.
Among those he met upon arrival yesterday were finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj. Bhattarai is also scheduled to meet external affairs minister, S.M. Krishna and home minister P. Chidambaram tomorrow.
This is the first time since Prachanda’s resignation in May 2009 that a Nepali Maoist leader has been accorded such high-level and fast tracked access in New Delhi, itself a sign, perhaps, that India might be looking to re-calibrate its hardened stance against the Maoists who are the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly and, therefore, critical to any political breakthrough.
Bhattarai’s discussions in New Delhi also come at a time when India is in the process of replacing its controversial Nepal envoy, Rakesh Sood, with Jayant Prasad. Sood had become a red rag to the Nepali street because of his open interference in domestic affairs and there are expectations in Kathmandu that Prasad’s arrival will neutralise knee-jerk anti-India posturing in the Nepali polity.
The rupture in ties with Maoists was triggered by Prachanda’s insistence on removing the then Nepali Army chief Rukmangad Katuwal in favour of his own nominee. India is believed to have vetoed the decision and its covert intervention resulted in Prachanda’s resignation from premiership barely a year after he had assumed office upon a rousing electoral victory.
Since then the Maoists, Prachanda in particular, have repeatedly flayed New Delhi for “disrupting” the democratic process in Nepal by treating it like a “vassal state”. New Delhi, on its part, has grown increasingly suspicious of Maoist intentions and has leveraged its influence to effectively out manoeuvre Maoist attempts to return to power at the head of a unity government.
Sixteen unsuccessful attempts at forming a government to replace Madhav Nepal’s lameduck caretaker regime were made last year. Several times in the later rounds, Prachanda seemed close to regaining power but fell short. Allegations had it that India had manipulated Madhesi (non-Nepali speakers from the Terai) MPs to scuttle the Maoist bid.
Bhattarai lamented the outflanking of Maoists today saying: “Everywhere in democracy, including in India, the single largest party forms the coalition, why not in Nepal? Without us the democratic and constitution-making process cannot go ahead, that should be clear to all.”
He, however, sounded a conciliatory rather than confrontationist note on India. “There are lobbies here that do not want democracy but we cannot say that for all of India. Likewise, we have irresponsible elements in Nepal too who create misunderstandings,” he said. “We are hopeful there will be correction on both sides.”
Bhattarai kept details of his talks with Indian leaders to himself save to say that there was “deep concern in influential quarters” at the disruption of the democratic process. “Pranabbabu was very patient and sounded worried about the situation in Nepal,” Bhattarai said. “He was particularly concerned that so many rounds of elections had not produced a clear Prime Minister. I got the sense his attitude was very positive.”
Sources said that in his meeting with foreign secretary Rao, the latter had raised the issue of increased Chinese influence in Nepal. Bhattarai is believed to have assured her that the Maoists did not intend to alter the fundamentals of Nepal’s ties with India and Indians in favour of a bias towards the Chinese. Herself a former ambassador to China, Rao was told by Bhattarai that his impression was that the Chinese themselves advocated “amicable and peaceful” ties between Nepal and India.
TT, 7 January, Opinion: Blaming India for their own failures is an old ploy for Nepal’s politicians. That the Maoists, too, routinely do this should not surprise New Delhi. What is significant, though, is that a section of the leadership is now openly opposing the anti-India line pushed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The dissenters include senior party leaders such as its vice-chairman, Baburam Bhattarai. By indulging in another bout of India-baiting, Mr Dahal, better known as ‘Prachanda’, has unwittingly exposed the state of his own party. The rift within the party also reflects Mr Dahal’s frustration over his inability to become the prime minister for a second term. He has repeatedly accused New Delhi of thwarting his ambition. What Mr Dahal is unwilling to accept is the fact that not only the other major parties but also sections within his own party do not want him at the head of another government in Kathmandu. The more he feels threatened by some of his own comrades, the more he seeks to invent enemies at home and abroad. The rift within the UCPN(M) is thus largely a matter of Mr Dahal’s personal ambition. But then, communist leaders everywhere try to use their parties to build their personal empires.
Of course, New Delhi has a stake in Nepal’s politics. Nothing suits India’s interests better than a democratic and politically stable Nepal. If India helped persuade Nepal’s Maoists to end their armed rebellion and join the political mainstream, it was done to ensure peace and stability in the country. If the peace process in Nepal remains incomplete and its political stability faces yet another threat, the Maoists themselves are to blame. The former rebels seem desperate to not allow a democratic government function if they cannot head it. Their obstructionist strategies have nearly paralyzed the constituent assembly and the functioning of the caretaker government. It is almost certain that the constituent assembly will fail yet another deadline for drafting a new constitution that will lay down the guidelines for fresh elections to parliament. Also, the unfinished task of the United Nations Mission in Nepal, whose term expires on January 15, could derail the peace process. But the Maoists see all these failures as their chance to seize power through another ‘people’s revolution’. It is a plot that must be foiled for the sake of peace and democracy in Nepal.

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