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Sunday, February 13, 2011

GJM to court arrest from 14th February.. HR commission in Shibsu... Fast unto death at Kalchini Sikkim branch of GJM opened... Morcha memorial plea rejected ... Sent back, ex-armymen vow to return ... Police ordered to fire if attacked ...

KalimNews, Kalimpong updated on 14 Feb at 7.31 am: GJM has announced that from 14th February its supporters will organise mass court arrest in all the police stations of Darjeeling hills. It is believed that it is in protest against the FIR lodged against 5 leaders namely Bimal Gurung, Dr HB Chhetri, Kalyan Dewan, Binay Tamang and Norden Lama  and threatening by the District administrators of Jalpaiguri  police.
Meanwhile it is also announced that Long March to Dooars is suspended for the time being and at Kalchini 5 GJM members will sit for fast unto death .
Roshan Giri formally announced the formation of GJM Sikkim branch today at Gangtok.

A 3 member team of Human rights Commission arrived at Sibshu on Sunday and met with the GJ leaders. GJM leaders DR HB Chhetri, Binay Tamang briefed them about the incident.
Morcha memorial plea rejected 
TT, Jalpaiguri, Feb. 13: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha request to build a martyrs’ column at Sibchu in memory of those killed in the police firing has been turned down outright by the administration in another instance of the state’s deviation from its policy of non-confrontation.
That the government was no longer sticking to a “wait-and watch” policy as far as the Morcha’s activities were concerned was evident when on February 9, a day after the Sibchu firing, it withdrew the security guards of party chief Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri.

With the permission for the martyrs’ column at Sibchu not coming, the Morcha leadership said it would erect the structure at the spot at any cost.
Morcha supporters Bimala Rai and 16-year-old Vicky Lama were killed on the spot when the police open fired at Sibchu on Tuesday. Neeta Khawas, 24, who was injured in the firing, died yesterday in a nursing home in Siliguri.
“Our three supporters laid down their young lives in police firing while they were carrying our party’s peaceful and democratic movement for Gorkhaland. We will build a martyrs’ column at the very spot where the police firing took place to remember our martyrs as well as to mark the indiscriminate police firing on our innocent supporters,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha. He said party supporters would gather at the column on February 8 every year. The Morcha has covered an area on the roadside in Sibchu with a plastic sheet so that the purported bloodstains there are not washed away by rain.
“We have shown the spot to the interlocutor, Lt. Gen. (retd) Vijay Madan, during his visit yesterday. We will show the spot to the team from the National Human Rights Commission and our MP Jaswant Singh, during their respective visits there,” said Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang.
The conservator of forests, north Bengal, Manindra Chandra Biswas, said: “Under no circumstances can we allow something like this to be erected on forest land.” Sibchu is part of the Jalpaiguri forest division.
Minister of state for public works Dasarath Tirkey said the road running through Sibchu towards Kumani belongs to his department and no permission would be given for the proposed Morcha column along the route.
“We will not give permission to anyone to build something along our road,” the minister said.
Faced with a strong resistance, the Morcha said it would find alternative means if no permission was granted.
“We are writing to the forest and the public works departments for permission and we will wait for their replies. A martyrs’ column is not dangerous or threatening. The emotions of our supporters are linked to the construction of the memorial. If we are denied permission we will have to look for alternative ways to get the job done,” Chhetri said.
An observer said from the administrative stand it was evident that it would not allow the Morcha presence to be felt in the Dooars.
“Not only has the government kept Morcha president Bimal Gurung confined to Kumani stalling his padayatra, a day after the firing it also refused to allow so many Morcha vehicles to the Jalpaiguri district hospital morgue to receive the bodies of the firing victims,” the observer said.
Arrest programme
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will court mass arrests across the Darjeeling hills tomorrow to protest the alleged harassment by the paramilitary and the police forces.
The BSF and the CRPF have been conducting raids across the hills to arrest those involved in torching government properties that followed the Sibchu firing.
Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said around 3000 supporters would court arrests in major towns like Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. “In places like Bijanbari we will mobilise around 2,000 people and in smaller places around 250 to 500,” said Chhetri.
According to government estimates, 62 properties have been either set on fire or vandalised with the state government incurring a loss of around Rs 50 crore.
Darjeeling police chief D.P. Singh has denied the allegations. “Also, no paramilitary forces are conducting the raids. Only the state police is going for the raids,” he said.
Sent back, ex-armymen vow to return
TT, Siliguri, Feb. 13: A group of ex-servicemen on their way to Siliguri as part of the agitation for Gorkhaland promised to return tomorrow after security forces stopped them at the Panchnoi bridge and forced them to retreat to Sukna today.
The former armymen, members of the ex-servicemen wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, arrived at Panchnoi a little after 3pm only to be halted by a barricade of about 100 police and CRPF personnel. The marchers were accompanied by Morcha central committee members.
They confronted Siliguri subdivisional officer N.D. Sherpa and deputy superintendent of police S. Sinha and demanded to know why their peaceful march had been halted.
“We are demanding a CBI inquiry into the Sibchu firing where three of our innocent supporters were killed. We also want our party president, Bimal Gurung, to be allowed to take part in a peaceful padayatra in the Dooars,” said Dawa Lama, a Morcha central committee member.
The SDO said the marchers could not be permitted to enter Siliguri, as the administration could not take the risk of a law and order situation. The group returned to Sukna, 10km from the Panchnoi barricade on the outskirts of Siliguri, after 4.30pm.
The ex-servicemen, members of the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha, had begun their march from Darjeeling on February 9 and had halted at Sonada, Kurseong and Simulbari before arriving at Panchnoi today.
The inspector-general of police (north Bengal), Ranveer Kumar, said a request for another 11 companies of CRPF has been sent to the Centre. “There is a requirement to intensify security measures in all the 11 police stations in the hills and we have asked for an equal number of CRPF companies,” Kumar said. Currently, three companies of CRPF are posted in Darjeeling district.
The IG said police personnel have been told to open fire if police stations and outposts were attacked. On Friday night, security forces fired two rounds to ward of a group of miscreants who tried to attack the police station at Lodhama, 90km from Darjeeling.
“We have issued an order to all police stations and outposts to fire if they were attacked. Many such police stations and outposts are located in far-flung areas and are vulnerable,” Kumar said.

AAGSU threatens of vigorous democratic movement for ‘Gorkhaland’ statehood status
Archana Lwhwrng Rai, KalimNews, Guwahati:The All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) Central Committee and AAGSU Guwahati City Committee organized an hour long ‘peace and condolence meeting’ this afternoon at its head office located at Gorkha Thakurbari (Nepali Mandir), Paltan Bazar, Guwahati, Assam in memoriam of those who attained martyrdom on 8th Feb 2011 on Saraswati Pooja during the Gorkhaland movement and declared unconditional moral and logical support to the Gorkhaland movement and if need be in future AAGSU along with other Gorkhaland supporters of the North Eastern states will take on democratic movement from this region of the country.
Members of various regional committees, college uints of AAGSU of Guwahati Metro and Rural region met to condemn the deadly Dooars incident where three supporters of Gorkhaland attained martyrdom namely Vicky Lama, Bimala Rai and Nita Khawas and condoled the death of the innocents under atrocities of West Bengal administration. The meeting vehemently condemned the incident with toughest words calling it gross violation of human rights in a democratic country like India. Gorkhas of this nation being an exemplary citizen never resorted to large scale violence during its movement but propagandas as such on the peace loving brave Gorkhalis following the Gandhian principle will definitely invite sharp criticism from all walks of life so the All Assam Gorkha Students Union (AAGSU) today submitted a memorandum by fax and email to Union Home Minister Shri. P Chidambaram seeking justice for the Gorkhas attaining martyrdom by creation of Gorkhaland state. The copies of the memorandum have been sent to Smti. Sushma Swaraj, Shri Jaswant Singh MP from Darjeeling, Shri Buddha Dev Bhattacharjee Chief Minister, West Bengal, Mr. K G Balakrishnan; Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr Bimal Gurung; President Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJJM) and Smti. Dil Kumari Bhandhari, President, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP). 

The detailed memorandum threatens central government of vigorous democratic movement from Assam in support of Gorkhaland in days to come which was till date limited to moral and logical support. It demands immediate creation of Gorkhaland state, adequate compensation to the martyrs and those critically injured, lives and security of Gorkhas in bordering states be ensured and high level judicial enquiry on gross violation of human rights in the incident.
'Darjeeling is not only about Gorkhas of Darjeeling, Siliguri and Dooars but it is about 12.5 millions Gorkhas of this nation’ said Nanda Kirati Dewan briefing reporters after the meeting. He added that Gorkhas are the Son of this Soil, Pride of this Nation and demand of Gorkhaland is legitimate for ethnicity, identity, prosperity and security. He condemned the incident of police firing in Dooars on 8th Feb 2011 during a peaceful march for Gorkhaland with toughest words calling it cowardice and inhuman act and practically an attempt by West Bengal government to frighten the brave Gorkhas.
Nanda Kirati Dewan, Info & Publicity Secy. AAGSU, Central Executive Member and Convenor of Delhi Unit AAGSU Kamal Pradhan, C-in-C of Volunteer Cell of AAGSU Mr. Keshab Pandey, Spokesperson of Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee (GACDC) Mr. Purna Chetri and President, Secretaries and members of Guwahati City Committee, Guwahati Metro and Guwahati Rural Committee of AAGSU attended the meeting.

Photo Caption:- Leaders of AAGSU namely Info&Publicity Secy. Nanda Kirati Dewan (centre with Lepcha waist coat) being flanked by Kamal Pradhan Central Executive Member; AAGSU on left and by Keshba Pandey C-in-C of AAGSU Voluteer Cell on right along with President and General Secretaries of AAGSU Guwahati City Commitee, Guwahati Metro Regional Commitee, and Guwahati Rural Regional Commitee during the 'Peace cum Condolence Meeting' today at Gorkha Thakurbari
Dooars resorts lose bookings to strikes

TT, Alipurduar, Feb. 13: The strife in north Bengal has taken its toll on the tourism industry at Madarihat with resorts in the vicinity of Jaldapara sanctuary reporting cancellation of bookings for February.
Resort owners said the total loss for this month came around to Rs 15 lakh and they would have to switch to other business if the situation in the region continued to be volatile.
Tourists cancelled the bookings following the violence at Madarihat in which three trucks were set on fire and five other vehicles were damaged by alleged Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters on Thursday.
“There are 12 private resorts and lodges at Madarihat on the outskirts of Jaldapara sanctuary and each has at least 10 rooms. Most of the rooms had been booked for February, but they stand cancelled now. Each of us face a loss of more than Rs 1 lakh,” said Biswajit Saha, the secretary of the Jaldapara Lodge Owner’s Welfare Association.
Tourism has become a big industry in the Dooars over the past few years, providing employment to a large number of youths directly and indirectly. Visitors from different parts of the country have flocked to the Dooars because of the renewed agitation for Gorkhaland in the hills. In a short period, a large number of resorts have come up in Madarihat, Lataguri, Malbazar and other places.
Strikes did not affect tourists in the Dooars in the recent past. When visitors used to enquire about places like Gorumara and Jaldapara, the tour operators could assure them a safe trip.
But with Madarihat, 55km from here, being wracked by violence, travel agents are longer able to guarantee a safe visit.
“After tea gardens were closed, tourism has become a big industry in the Dooars. Other than resort owners, shopkeepers, vehicle owners and drivers are all suffering a lot now. The most unfortunate thing is that strikes are called at the peak of the season. There was a strike (called by the Morcha) from January 22 to 27. I have started thinking of quitting tourism as the sector doesn’t have a bright future in the Dooars. If the situation doesn’t change, we will find it difficult to earn enough for a square meal,” said Saha.
Madarihat had been swarming with tourists in the past two years as Jaldapara, Chilapata and Buxa forests and Bhutan are within the reach. “Even the tourists who booked rooms for March have started enquiring about the situation here. We receive a large number of customers for March and April as exams are over by then,” said Saha.
The Morcha yesterday withdrew its strike in the Terai and the Dooars. As a result, vehicles are plying normally and train services between Alipurduar Junction and Siliguri via Malbazar were restored this morning.

UK teen teachers stranded in Siliguri
Jessica Palmer gives a presentation on Bharatnatyam in front of the other volunteers in Siliguri on Saturday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo

Mrinalini Sharma, TT, Siliguri, Feb. 13: A group of volunteers from the UK and Canada who had planned to teach Lepcha students in Kalimpong has been stranded in Siliguri for the past three days because of the ongoing strike in the three hill subdivisions.
The 15-member team was supposed to teach at night schools in remote Lepcha villages, more than 100km from here, for the next three months as part of their gap year project after completing advanced-level (A-level) education programmes in their countries.
The students who arrived here on Thursday were supposed to have a five-day orientation session at Chittrey near Kalimpong from the next day before heading to the villages.
“The volunteers arrived in Calcutta on February 9 and reached Bagdogra the next day. We had plans to take them to Chittrey for the orientation programme but that had to be conducted here since a strike is on in the hill subdivisions. We intend to head to the villages as soon as it is withdrawn,” said Tendup Tshering Lama, regional director (Asia) of Asia and Africa Ventures.
The UK-based organisation conducts gap year projects for students who have completed A-level education, equivalent to the Plus II here.
Currently, the teenagers are staying at a hotel in Shivmandir. With their plans scuttled for the moment, they are having to do with touring North Bengal University, playing soccer, participating in interactive sessions with fellow volunteers and shopping in the local market.
Yesterday, the team made presentations on various subjects including Hinduism, classical music, Indian railway system, water scarcity in Darjeeling and tea at the hotel itself.
Among the volunteers, 18-year-old Jessica Palmer had come to Calcutta in November, few days ahead of the rest. She had developed an interest in the city after listening to stories from of her father who frequently travels to India.
During her brief stint in Calcutta she learnt to play tabla and sing some lines of Rabindra Sangeet.
“Learning tabla and Rabindra Sangeet happened by chance. While in Calcutta, I used to visit a music school and watch the children play tabla. I soon joined them and found it quite interesting,” said the teenager from Gloucestershire, who wants to take up a course on world music.
“I don’t have vast knowledge about the Lepchas but I am looking forward to teach the children and get to know them while I am there,” she added.
Asia Ventures has been bringing volunteers from the UK, Canada and the US to Pakang, Samsing, Pacheok, Siddim, Kongrebong, Pringtam and Dabling villages since 2003.
“The Lepcha night schools had been established to teach children Lepcha language, literature and culture. As knowledge of English is important, the villagers decided to incorporate the language. Groups of volunteers from UK, Canada and USA have been teaching the children since 2003,” Lama said. He added that if the Morcha announces a relaxation then the group will be taken to Kalimpong.
Ollie Dixon from London expects to learn from the Lepchas the way of living in which people are less dependent on resources and facilities.
“It will be a different life in the villages where people are less reliant on resources and facilities. As of now I am enjoying the colours, sights and sounds of India,” he said.

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