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Monday, January 10, 2011

NO COACHING, NO TUITION : GJM .. More forces sought for NH 31 A... Pakhrin, Dahal, BGP & ABGL leaders in CPRM meeting ... Assam rally to garner state support - Sikkim govt to hold meeting today to ensure essentials during Morcha strike ... All election booths of hills sensitive ... BENGAL CENSUS APPEAL REJECTED

KalimNews : Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has categorically asked all the outsider visitors and tourists to leave the hill by 11 January in view of the 96 hour long bundh to commence from 6 AM of the following day. Subha Pradhan, party's Kalimpong Sub-division committee's Secretary while addressing the local media asked the students of different board examinations not to attend ongoing coaching and tuition classes during the bundh period. He also apprehended unpleasant situation in Dooars where the anti-GJM forces are contemplating to foul the bundh and its repercussion here in the hills.
Dr. H.B. Chhetri, Spokesperson ruled out the proposal of BJP leader Arun Jetley carried out by national dailies today, to set up State Re-organisation Committee to examine the demand of Gorkhaland. He said that the movement of Gorkhaland has already crossed the phase of organising such committee and such committees are essential only for those areas where the demand of separate state is being raised afresh.
In view of the GJM's directives to the tourists and the examinees, the local people in general have preferred to remain in their houses during the bundh period to evade unpleasant situation.
Meanwhile, other political organisations are continuing to oppose the proposed bundh. However, they have not made the mode of their opposition clear till todate.
It is recalled that the GJM has announced three phase bundhs to begin with the above bundh in the hills to 'pressurise' the government to consider its demand.
Pakhrin, Dahal , BGP and ABGL leaders in CPRM meeting
Abhijit Majumdar
Somen Nag
KalimNews : Presence of Ajay Dahal, Chief of the United Gorkha Revolutionary Front (UGRF) in the last day's programme of CPRM held in Siliguri today has surprised all. Not only Dahal's presence but the attendance of Dawa Pakhrin, President, Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM) along with C.K. Shrestha, ex-Working President of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP), Sukhman Moktan, General Secretary of BGP, Bharati Tamang Presodent of ABGL in the programme has also become a subject of gossip in the political and general circle of the hill.
In the meeting Somen Nag , Abhijit Majumdar and other leaders of the different hill parties spoke on the demand of Gorkhaland. It is a known fact that the CPRM has been criticising the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for calling series of bundh in the hills. Besides, most of the non-GJM parties of the hills and ABAVP in Dooars have opposed the proposed bundh. In such a circumstance, the assembly of non-GJM figures in Siliguri has become a topic of discussion in the hills.
Assam rally to garner state support - Sikkim govt to hold meeting today to ensure essentials during Morcha strike
Vivek Chhetri, Avijit Sinha, TT, Darjeeling/Siliguri, Jan. 10: Nearly 500 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members today sat on a dharna before the Assam Assembly in Dispur, part of the hill party’s effort to mobilise support for Gorkhaland outside Bengal.
The Morcha effort is aimed to pressure the Centre to clear its stand on Gorkhaland ahead of its scheduled 27-day general strike.
“Over 500 delegates from the northeastern states took part in the dharna, which started at 10am and continued till 3pm. The need for a separate state is being felt by all the Nepali-speaking people of India for want of identity. They are often termed as non-locals and doubtful voters and only a separate state can solve this identity problem,” Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who led the dharna, said over the phone from Dispur.
The Morcha’s Delhi unit had held similar dharnas at Jantar Mantar on January 6 and 7. “The party believes that apart from an agitation in the Darjeeling hills, it is also important to garner support in as many areas as possible to put pressure on the Centre,” said an observer.
Giri today claimed that the party was following the Gandhian principle of non-violence.
However, in Siliguri, state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya did not seem to be much convinced. He expressed suspicion over the Morcha tour of Assam. “It is pertinent if police and other agencies investigate the reason for their visit and the people whom they are meeting. The Morcha leaders had made similar visits to the Northeast. Their top brass has connections there,” the CPM MLA said, refusing to elaborate.
The minister also said: “We perceive a law and order problem in the coming days and want the Centre to deploy paramilitary forces in the hills. Considering the fact that the Morcha leaders pay heed to the Union home minister and Mamata Banerjee, we demand their intervention to ensure that no major problem crops up in hills.”
Bhattacharya indicated that since home minister P. Chidambaram had been able to convince the Morcha to go for proportionate representation instead of direct nomination to the proposed body that would run the interim set-up, he should also dissuade the party from calling a strike. The same applied to the Trinamul Congress chief who was welcomed to the hills during her visit there in October.
Tourists leave Darjeeling
Romit Bagchi, SNS, SILIGURI, 10 JAN: Darjeeling town is getting emptied of tourists with the GJMM's month-long shutdown trident dangling overhead. The tourists who braved the cold to relish the snowy serenity of the Himalayas keep descending  in the pains in hordes with one day left for the ‘do-or-die’ struggle to begin. But their faces seem suffused with an air of melancholy. They look reluctant to leave the Queen of the Hills stations, particularly when Darjeeling seems sparkling in silvern grandeur. The day is sunny and bright in contrast to the mist-moistened gloom enveloping Siliguri. The sun, as it were, is magnanimous to bestow as much warmth as possible on the adventurous votaries of the Himalayas.
“The majestic Kanchenjunga is at its best today with the sun smiling. But we are leaving Darjeeling with a heavy heart, for we are left with no other option. Tomorrow there would be rush, for the rest of the tourists would jostle for space in the vehicles whose number would mysteriously dwindle in proportion to the rising demand,” said Mr Subir Chowdhury (70) who has come from Bandel in south Bengal.
Mrs Rupa Chowdhury (67) from the same place looks as dejected as her husband. “Everything seems tranquil and transcendental. The Kanchenjunga looks like an amused witness to the unending heebie- jeebies inherent involved in the life we, the puny mortals, live. We are leaving Darjeeling but with a twinge of pain. Cannot the hill station be kept out of the theatre of the statehood battle?” she asked.
The hoteliers are also an unhappy lot. “We cannot say anything. But the hill station should be allowed to live in peace,” said one of the hoteliers while viewing his boarders starting the downward journey from the abode of peace.

Talk between ABAVP & Govt 
KalimNews: State government has decided to meet ABAVP delegation to chalk out a solution to solve the demands and problems of Adivasis in Dooars. On 11th January  state officials is holding a talk in Circuit House of Jalpaiguri with the state committee officials of ABAVP. It is expected that government has decided to offer educational and developmental programmes for the redressal of Adivasi problem.
ABAVP has inclusion of Dooars under sixth schedule of the Indian constitution. On the other hand it has vehemently opposed the proposed bandh of GJM in the Dooars. 
More forces sought for NH 31 A
TT, Siliguri/Gangtok, Jan. 10: Darjeeling police have requisitioned one company of paramilitary force to keep NH31A free of blockades during the 96-hour strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha from Wednesday amid concerns in Sikkim over the traffic condition on the state’s lone road link with the rest of India during the agitation.
“We have already requested the state government to send five companies of paramilitary force to the Darjeeling hills. One company will be deployed on NH31A to check disruption of traffic during the strike,” said D.P. Singh, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling.
One company of paramilitary force comprises 135 personnel and it is led by an assistant commandant. Three companies of CRPF had been deployed in the hills following the assassination of ABGL chief Madan Tamang in May last year.
Senior Sikkim government officials said whether or not traffic would be hit along the all-important highway would depend on what took place on the first day of the strike.
“In 2009, despite an assurance by the Morcha leadership that NH 31A would be left out of the purview of a 48-hour strike called by the party, several vehicles, including tourist cars, were stoned and drivers beaten up,” said an official.
The incident he was referring to took place on May 15, 2009, forcing the Bengal government to deploy two companies of CRPF on the highway to maintain traffic.
The official said the Centre and the Bengal government were bound by a Supreme Court order asking both of them to keep NH31A open all times.
“If there are disruptions during the strike this year, we will be compelled to mount pressure on the Centre and the Bengal government,” the official said.
The subdivisional magistrate of East Sikkim, A.B. Karki, said a meeting had been convened in Gangtok tomorrow to ensure that there was no shortage of essential commodities during the strike. The meeting will be attended by officials of the food and supplies department and representatives of merchants’ associations, LPG distributors and transporters.
“The main agenda of the meeting will be to seek ways to ensure that food stocks, including vegetables, do not get exhausted and there is no price rice during the strike,” said Karki.
Almost all election booths of hills sensitive
KalimNews: 99 percent of the election booth located in Darjeeling Hills are categorised sensitive. During a meeting with S Y Quraicy, the Chief election Officer at Kolkata Mohan K Gandhi, the Darjeeling District Magistrate and Devendra Pratap Singh, the Superintendent of Police reported to the commission that in the prevailing situation of Darjeeling hills almost all booths comes under the sensitive category. CEO held a meeting in Kolkata on saturday regarding holding of Bidhan sabha election in the state where all district administrative Officers were present. It was also reported there is possibility of more violence if the election is held at the earliest. Meanwhile Election Commission has requisitioned more para military forces than in previous elections.  
This year the number of voters in the 6 assembly constituencies Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Siliguri, Matigara- Naxalbari and Phansidewa is 1108844 out of which the three hill constituency has 571640 voters. Of 1154 booths 1000 are categorised sensitive. The state is expected to incur about Rs 200 crore for the forth coming election 2011 which is the highest of all election since 1991.
Too loud to be music to Gangtok ears
TT, Gangtok, Jan. 10: A world class music system in the Sikkim capital’s showpiece promenade is no longer music to the ears of its residents.
To those living within 400m radius of MG Marg, the 38 Bose speakers installed for Rs 19.98 lakh at the old Children’s Park not six months ago are now a bane, with music blaring till 10pm on still winter nights — two hours more than the scheduled timing.
The music system had been installed by the power department and handed over to the urban development department for operation. It is operated from a 11/11KV substation of the power department at the park, just above MG Marg.
The Marg or the promenade is located in the heart of the town and sports a mall-like look with upmarket hotels and stores, wooing tourists and locals alike. The music system with the speakers fitted to lampposts had been touted as a value addition to the 400-metre MG Marg.
During the installation, the authorities had said the music would be played from 6am to 9.30pm in summer and from 6pm to 8pm in winter.
However, the local people have complained that the blaring noise is now posing problems. They have appealed to the authorities concerned and the Gangtok Municipal Corporation to limit the playing of the music system to the stipulated time.
The volume is too high creating a nuisance during evening hours, complained most of the residents. “We are not against installing the music system but sometimes the music goes on till 10pm disturbing the sleep,” one of them said.
“The intensity of the music cannot be felt while walking along MG Marg but it is painful to those living above ground floors of the nearby buildings. Our children cannot concentrate on their studies. We will be writing to the authorities concerned to bring down the music timing in the evening. We have brought the matter to the notice of the Gangtok Municipal Corporation,” said another resident.
Gangtok mayor K.N. Topgay said he was aware of the complaints on the music system. “I have taken the complaint seriously and will be giving a direction to the control room people to play the music till the specified time only so that the local people are not disturbed,” he said.
Boy missing after van crash
TT, Jalpaiguri, Jan. 10:A 17-year-old boy, who was part of a group of picnickers, has been missing since yesterday evening when the pick-up van they were travelling in met with an accident, killing 11 persons.
The accident near Moraghat left 14 injured also.
The boy, Subrata Das, did not figure in the list of the dead and injured in the accident.His uncle, Ramesh Das, said he and other relatives had looked for Subrata at the Jalpaiguri District Hospital, Birpara State General Hospital, the block health centre at Banarhat and the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital but had drawn a blank everywhere.
“We have learnt from those injured in the accident that Subrata had boarded the pick-up van with all others, but he seems to have disappeared without a trace,” said Ramesh.
The van was carrying more than 20 picnickers when it collided with a truck on NH31 and fell into a ditch.
Banarhat police officer Keshang Lama said Subrata was not among the dead or the injured persons. “I have noted down the boy’s name and have asked his family members to lodge a missing person’s report with the Banarhat police station after they return home to Sonapur in Alipurduar,” said the officer.
A physician with the Banarhat block health centre, Chanchal Rakshit who attended to the injured, said no one with the name of Subrata Das was on the list. Doctors at the district hospital here also did not come across anybody called Subrata.
Siliguri link to cyber arrest
TT, Guwahati, Jan. 10:Cyber crime sleuths of the Assam CID today arrested a professional on charges of sending threat mails to a Cotton College lecturer a few months back. Amit Sanyal, 35, a resident of Siliguri, was arrested from his father-in-law’s house in Pandu, where he came two days back.
CID sources said the accused works as an area manager in a Bangalore-based company and is posted in Siliguri.
Sanyal was booked under section 66A of IT Act 2000 and released on bail, the sources added.
The sources further said the arrest was made based on a complaint lodged by the lecturer in October last year that someone had sent threatening mails to him, his relatives and college authorities alleging that he had illicit affairs with his students. The lecturer also alleged that the person had sent messages to his friends on his social networking account as well.
The CID started investigating in the case (61/2010) and identified the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer used by the accused. “We took help of and identified the user. He had sent the mails from an unknown email address and a fake profile of a social networking site. By the time we identified the user in November, he had escaped to Hong Kong. We were looking for him for quite sometime, and yesterday, we came to know that he is here to visit his father-in-law and arrested him today,” the sources said.
Sources said that Sanyal admitted before the CID investigators that he had sent the emails to the lecturer. “We arrested him on charges of sending defamatory emails and giving threats. He was however, released on bail after being questioned for about an hour,” the sources added. Sanyal was not available for comment.
The cyber crime cell of CID has so far registered 19 cases from across the state relating to threat mails, hacking of social networking accounts, uploading nude photographs and morphing pictures.

Winter’s tale: blocked sun & wind
TT, Siliguri, Jan. 10: The sun snuffed out by a haze, Siliguri shivered as a bitter cold wind blew across north Bengal and the foothill town recorded the lowest maximum temperature of the year at 13.8 degrees Celsius.
Figures suggest that the maximum temperature today was the lowest recorded in five years on this date (see chart).
Weather experts, however, were quick to point out that it was not a “cold wave” but a “cold day condition,” that caused the mercury to dip in the region. Although it was sunny in Darjeeling town, the India Meteorological Department pegged the maximum temperature at the hill station at 13 degrees Celsius and the minimum, 1.5 degrees below zero.
The fall in temperature today in Siliguri was because of a blocked-out sun, a result of foggy condition prevailing over Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Assam — an “after-effect” of a western disturbance that recently crossed over these states.
“This condition is likely to prevail for another 24 hours. However, the existing weather condition is a cold day and should not be confused with a cold wave. Cold wave occurs when there is a dip of 5 degrees Celsius in minimum temperature from the normal. But the minimum temperature recorded today was 8.8 degrees Celsius which is just 2.2 degrees below the normal minimum temperature of 11 degrees,” said Indranil Sengupta, the assistant meteorological officer at the Regional Met Office in Jalpaiguri.
The cold day condition is because of marked decrease in maximum temperature, which was recorded at 13.8 degrees Celsius.
“This is 9.2 degrees below the normal maximum temperature of 23 degrees that usually prevails at this time of the year. This is the lowest maximum temperature recorded for the year and the condition worsened because of the poor visibility of the sun,” Sengupta said.
Last week, the region had experienced inclement weather condition triggered by the western disturbance that passed through the area. All the incoming and outgoing flights at Bagdogra Airport were cancelled on January 2, following bad weather and poor visibility.
Sengupta said the moisture in the air caused by the passage of western disturbance coupled with low temperature had given rise to the haze.
“There was slow rise in temperature this morning as compared to the other days. On January 8, the temperature recorded at 6am was 8.7 degrees Celsius and it rose by nearly four degrees to 12 degree by 8.30am. Today, it was 8.8 degrees Celsius at 6am but the temperature rose to only 10.2 degrees by 8.30am,” Sengupta said.
Today, however, all the flights at the Bagdogra Airport operated normally except for two flights from Delhi that arrived around 20 minutes later than scheduled.
“The flights had no problems landing and taking off today. Two flights arrived nearly 20 minutes late as they had taken off late from Delhi because of foggy condition there,” an airport official said.
Most Siliguri people, smug in their woollens, expected the “cold wave” to last another week till after Makar Sankranti on January 14.
“This is a normal phenomenon just before Makar Sankranti. The cold wave will increase as we come closer to the festival and it will probably last for another week. So it is better to stock up your winter to fight the chill,” said Sripa Banerjee, a resident of Champasari shopping for woollens at Seth Srilal Market. Banerjee was oblivious to the fact that it was a “cold day” condition and not a “cold wave” that was responsible for the nip in the air.
While people of the plains reeled in the cold, residents of Darjeeling hills basked in bright sunshine.
“For most part of the month, we experienced bright and sunny day and today was no exception,” a resident of Darjeeling said.
KalimNews: The subject related to scheduled tribes is now pertinently relevant in the context of the Gorkhaland demand by the inhabitants of Darjeeling District, presumed to mean a state within the Union. That is to recall a situation in Darjeeling Districts space in time when the Census of 1931(pop 3,19,635 ) identified the entire Darjeeling hill peoples as Tribes.
Whereas the same population decadly increased to 3,76,369 Census 1941 in which a large population composing mostly of Mongoloid and Sino-Mongoloid communities (2,35,068) were delisted from the tribes list for ignorantly mistaking and writing down Nepali/Gorkhali which was basically only a lingua franca as their mother tongue, whereas in actual fact missing out in expressing their own Tibeto-Burman script/language/dialect as the proper mother tongue.
This costly mistake was only visible when the same group of Darjeeling hill communities applying for recognition of ST status discovered the blunder of the mistake of not writing down their original mother tongue instead of Nepali/Gorkhali, an Indo Aryan script and language spoken by the majority non tribal population of India.
This blunder was an asset for Bengal to delay the constitutionally provided provision for Darjeeling District to state formation, as the marked reduction of tribal population from Census 1931 figure to Census 1941 marginalized the tribal hill population from a strength of 100% tribes to only 37.54% (1,41,301) being the total of Darjeeling District 32,000 and Sikkim 1,09,301. If only the population of Darjeeling District was applied then the tribe population would have been 8.5% only.
The main idea to declare the above is to emphasize on the mote issue that the implication of using Nepali/Gorkhali language as mother tongue has brought about the de-tribalization of 62.46% of the population which factor adversely contributed in disadvantaging Darjeeling District. It reduced its Backward Tract totally exclusion content from Central and State legislation, acts and regulations – Scheduled Districts Act 1874, Govt. of India Act 1919 (Backward Tracts 1921) which regional identity as indigenous national minority imbued with recognition of their fundamental rights portent with state formation ingredients was reduced in the case of Darjeeling District to a lesser claim status as Partially Excluded Area.
This climb down is only a perceptual recognition and not factual considering the entire episode resulting in marginalization of Darjeeling District from total excluded to partial exclusion is not a reality, but a genuine mistake which requires redressal by rectifying the actual content.
The State govt. is urged to raise this issue if at all it is sincere in its democratic declarations in making the wrong right, and urge the State to falsely claim Darjeeling District and further subdividing Darjeeling District by delineating parts of Siliguri subdivision out from Darjeeling District for creation of another district in Bengal is a violent flagration of legal and constitutional norms despite its unethical claim.
Darjeeling District as perceived by the implications of the administrative reforms process, seems to have been ‘absorbed’ only in West Bengal in 1954 provided by the Govt. of India Absorb Areas Act of the same year. The question arises if at all Bengal is to claim Darjeeling as its provincial territory, it has to prove the historical background of Darjeeling District determined by the setup of general administration applied to it pre 1954 to the earliest history of Darjeeling District formed out of the territories of two foreign countries erstwhile Sikkim and the present kingdom of Bhutan.
If at all any portion or part is to be withdrawn out of Darjeeling District by only a State of the Union, would it not be considered a violation of treaty obligations impeding international law and understanding. Surely the State has enough eminent constitutional and international law experts to delve into the implications of the above to arrive at a just solution.
Based on Census 1931, GNLF President Subhas Ghissing has sagaciously raised the issue for reconverting the delisted tribal communities in Census 1941 back to its original status. The process of its appeal however is considered to be somewhat misplaced. It is believed following the ethical code of practice the wrong no matter how much mistakenly placed can always be righted at the proper forum of justice when fundamental human rights of indigenous minority have been trampled over by unjust application of identifying the individual content.
If at all the GNLF Supremo is serious enough to carry the issue further, which it is believed to be so as per his declaration in the Statesman News Service 6 March 2010 ‘Ghissing threatens volcanic stir in hills’, he may take recourse to file a suit asking the Census Commissioner to deliver his findings, just or otherwise, of the delisting of 2,35,068 tribes 62.46% of the population in Census 1941 from its original content of Census 1931, simply because the innocent ignorant tribes instead of stating their tribal language/dialect mistakenly perceived to name Nepali/Gorkhali as their mother tongue for having used it as a lingua franca basically for general communication.
To focus this issue further it might be relevant to note here, that, it is the Tibeto-Burman Newari script and language of the Mongoloid and Sino-Indian tribes of Katmandu valley that is recognized and registered as the ethnic script and language of Nepal in place of Parbhatiya/Khas/Gorkhali/Nepali which is predominantly affiliated to the Indo Aryan Sanskritic rooted languages as applied in Nepal being the various aspects of Hindi, Rajasthani, Bihari (Meitheili) and some aspects of Urdu which languages migrated with the emigrant Indian settlers in the hills of Nepal.
It is distinctly being interpreted the present revolution spearheaded by Maoist ideology is believed being used to camouflage in uniting the racial tribes of Nepal to vent their nationalistic grievances by democratizing the issue into a political movement. The entire issue in fact portends an ethnic indigenous tribal upsurge to highlight the suppressions meted out to them by the ethnic Indian migrant populations now forming a substantial majority composition. Taking recourse to Maoist ideology is only to forment a guiding principle for unison in spearheading the cause to the specified target of declaring a federation of unions akin to India which has a similar history of state formations.
Infact many states in the Northeast are still in a nationalistic process unable to accept ethnic Indian domination, similar to Maoist in Nepal, despite the constitutional recognition of the regional identity which applied politically based on fundamental rights of indigenous national minorities does in fact have a claim towards the right to self determination and self government. This resolution was infact passed by the United Nations General Assembly as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the Assembly on 13 Sept 2007 figuratively voted by 143 member states, 11 members’ abstention and 4 member states voted against. The last four members who voted against the adoption of the resolution were the most directly impacted countries containing large population of indigenous people. They were USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It would be most interesting to discover the composition of 11 member countries absent in the voting process. Above all it requires to be ascertained whether India is in the list of countries voted for the resolution or perchance to be discovered infact it had remained out of the voting process in the 11 abstentions.
This has become more relevant to the context to the Shangri-la dialogue, Singapore 29 to 31 May 2009 read in conjunction with the 13th round of Sino India border talks (New Delhi Aug 7 & 8, 2009) in combination of, or because of which the CCCS paper No. 325 dated 9 Aug 2009 entitled ‘China should break up the Indian Union, suggests a Chinese strategist’ appeared in the website accessed on 8 Aug 2009 under ‘Zhan Lue’ which showed no name of the writer nor any disclaimer.
The website accessed on 11 August 2009 stated the article source is Xin Lang Bo Ke with the addition of a disclaimer stating, ‘This article is from an internet friend, the aim is to disseminate information, does not mean that we approve the viewpoint and confirm what has been said. The contents are for reference purposes”. This disclaimer seems to have been added after the article carried by the website evoked critical reactions in India. (Chennai Center for Chinese studies).
The website context is mentioned here for specific application to the Gorkhaland context ensued in the Darjeeling hills as the Govt. of India Act 1935 read with the contents of 1873 Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (Line System known as Inner line Permit) implies Darjeeling District is affiliated to the Northeast States and not with West Bengal in India. The article also features determining, ‘India could only be termed now as a Hindu religious state’, since this article itself is based on the concept of caste, it is only proper to refer this website contents.
In the article quote, ‘…Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the countries modernization, it describes the Indian Govt. as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of caste system as it realizes that the process to do away with caste may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation’.
The contents of the article no matter how adversely impacting the sense of Indian nationalism cannot be discarded at one shot but requires to be realized as a matter of fact and with proper address and accord redressal to promote the widely claimed slogan of unity in diversity which no doubt is the story as well as the history of the democratic structure of Indian federalism enshrined by the Constitution of India. (special report shared by Kameng Dorjee)

Curbs slash wild produce sales

TT, Gangtok, Jan. 10: Sikkim forest minister today said the practice of selling produce from the wild in the markets here have dropped because of regulatory and awareness drives of the department.
“The sale of forest produce like edible wild roots, medicinal plants and fruits like avocados has come down. It had been a traditional practice to collect and sell these items. Earlier, all edible items from the forests used to be found in the markets here but now we have started regulating it,” said forest minister Bhim Dhungel at a media conference here.
Forest officials, however, said the claim was based more on visible sales than any data.
“Forest authorities here do not have much data. No scientific study has been done on the decrease of forest produce pilferage but it is apparent for the past one year that the volume of forest produce being sold in markets have come down. It is our observation though we need to do a scientific study,” said a forest official.
According to the minister, vigil has been increased in most parts to check the exploitation of forest produce and ex-situ cultivation of the products is being encouraged.
In the ex-situ system, plants are grown outside their natural habitats.
“We are encouraging ex-situ cultivation. The department has made provisions for cultivation of plants including medicinal plants on private farms,” said the minister.
“At the same time, we are also spreading awareness that forest produce should not be sold because they are food for wild animals,” Dhungel added.
Wildlife authorities in Sikkim have alleged that people of the fringe villages collect, store and sell wild roots and fruits meant for animals. Deprived of food, these animals then raid human habitats.
“People are collecting almost every edible item that is a source of food for wild animals. Loss of bamboo shoots and avocados have been the major reasons for forays of Himalayan black bears into human habitats in the past couple of years,” said a wildlife expert.
Bamboo shoots and avocados are also very popular among humans, hence they have a good market.
But state forest authorities said a recent survey has found out that the avocados now on sale here are mostly brought from outside the state. “A major portion of the avocados sold in Gangtok markets are brought from Kalimpong and hilly parts of Darjeeling. Only a small fraction of the fruits are from Sikkim,” said a wildlife officer.
However, he said it was very difficult for the forest officials to find out whether the items sold in the local markets are collected from the forests or are grown on private farms.
According to traders at Lall Bazaar, the main market here, seasonal wild roots and fruits are sold by people from villages around Gangtok and the vendors claim that they have grown them in their fields.
Buddha writes back to PC
ENS, Kolkata:Three days after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had written to him urging him to “reschedule” all his programmes and visit Delhi as early as possible for holding discussions on the law and order situation in the state, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today wrote back to the minister saying he would be able to visit Delhi in the third week of January.
A press release was issued by the chief minister’s office, confirming this.
Chidambaram, while expressing extreme anguish over the killing of seven villagers by CPM harmads (goons) on January 7 at Netai village in Lalgarh, had written to Bhattacharjee on the same day requesting him to come to Delhi immediately for discussions. “The chief minister has got to attend the party politburo meeting scheduled in Kolkata on January 15 and 16. He will go to Delhi only after that,” a senior official of the CM’s office told The Indian Express.
Bhattacharjee’s letter put an end to the “letter war” between the chief minister and the Union Home Minister who has been urging him for the last one month to come to Delhi for talks.
The CM’s office had earlier announced that he would not be able to visit Delhi before January 24 because of his pre-occupations here.
Today Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said it was unfortunate that political killings were on the rise in the state.
Meanwhile state Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh today said the government would intensify its drive to recover all illegal arms at Lalgarh. “A top official, either from the Home department or the police directorate, will be designated to monitor the process and it will be reviewed every 15 days,”’ Ghosh said.

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