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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Morcha loses bodyguard...Army shoots down Bengal call State says still keen

KalimNews, Kalimpong, February 10: Jalpaiguri administration agreed to clamp 144 CrPC only in the areas of Block divisions of Nagarkatta, Mal, Kalchini and Birpara. It has categorically allowed hunger strike demonstration but refused to allow Long March  instead it has said that if applied it may think over allowing public meetings. GJM has required 48 hours to withdraw strike if the central Committee resolves to do so.
Meanwhile Mahesh Lama driver of Wilson Champramari MLA is detained with a Khukuri while on is way to the Jail. Champramari's application for bail is rejected he is remanded for 14 days police custody.
Center has agreed and sent two company BSF instead of reqisitioned eight additional company of CRPF.
GJM activists burnt Singla Police out post to ashes and police has alleged that a AK 47 rifle with cartridges is lost. In the incident Kamal Saha ASI and a constable is attacked and injured. In another incident Ajay Rai ASI is attacked at Bijanbari BDO's Office and injured , all the three are admitted in Siliguri nursing home.
Tourists stuck due to strike in the hills and Dooars may contact Siliguri Tourism office 0353-2511979
All trains to Guwahati and Dooars from NJP are diverted via New Coochbehar-New Jalpaiguri instead of Alipurduar Dooars route till 12th February, local intercity trains also have been suspended.

Ex armys' association of GJM Gorkha Janmukti Bhutuprba Sainik Morcha's 56 member team started Long March to Dooars from Darjeeling. CRPF is deputed in all the town police stations of hill.
No police was deputed in Shibsu yesterday instead they were seen at Khunia More on the way to Sibshu in NH 31C and about 7 km away from there.
Dead body of Bikky Lama reached his residence at Rangamuttee in Central Dooars while Bimala Rai was taken to Khumani where the GJM leaders are camping. Her body will be taken to Khani on 10th February via Kalimpong town to reach her residence in the evening.
Reports of trying to torch and torching Forest Offices and Bunglows and Forest check posts and Police outposts of Chapramari, Naom Range, Samsing, Alagara, Ambiok, Ghoom Maney Bhanjyang, Mirik, Chuikhim near Bagrakote and several others is received. In total till yesterday a loss of 15 crore is assessed by district officials.
Morcha loses bodyguard
TT, Feb. 9: Police have withdrawn the armed bodyguards assigned to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership a day after the flare-up in north Bengal, prompting suggestions that the state government is reviewing its “no-confrontation” policy.
Darjeeling police pulled out four armed guards tasked to protect Morcha president Bimal Gurung. The lone security guard for general secretary Roshan Giri was also withdrawn.
“I can only confirm that the security personnel have been withdrawn,” Darjeeling superintendent of police D.P. Singh said.
The additional director-general (law and order), Surajit Kar Purkayastha, said in Calcutta that the decision to withdraw the bodyguards was “entirely” that of the district administration. “It was taken without our intervention. We don’t foresee higher threat for the two because of the withdrawal,” he said.
But sources in the administration said the decision to withdraw the security forces was an indicator that the state government was reviewing its “no-confrontation” policy towards the Morcha.
“Earlier, the district administration would conveniently look the other way whenever the Morcha supporters took the law into their own hands,” an official said. “But after yesterday, the administration is perhaps sending a message that it would no longer look the other way.”
If a conscious decision has been taken to enforce the law, it reflects a perception in the Left government that it should cut its losses and try to make some gains at least in the plains. The government was proceeding with extreme caution till now in order to ensure that the tripartite talks were not jeopardised.
However, with the differences over an interim set-up appearing irreconcilable unless either side yields some ground, a truce before the Assembly polls looks remote. After yesterday’s violence, the Morcha has said the “interim chapter” is closed.
In Jalpaiguri, the administration told the Morcha that its demand to hold a meeting in the Dooars could be considered if a proposal was submitted. But it denied the Morcha permission for a “long march”.
Sibchu, the epicentre of the clashes yesterday, falls in Jalpaiguri. The government fears a law and order problem in the Dooars, which has Adivasi groups opposed to Gorkhaland, if the march is allowed.
However, officials said the Morcha could go ahead with hunger strikes in specified locations of the Dooars.

On street with renewed state cry Morcha

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Feb. 9: Thousands of people today took to the streets of Darjeeling, breathing a fresh lease of life to the Gorkhaland agitation a day after two Gorkha Janmutki Morcha supporters, a teenager and a young woman, were killed in police firing in the Dooars.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri was quick to cash in on the participation count to draw a parallel with the people’s movement in Egypt. “People in Egypt are pitching tent at the protest site to dethrone a 30-year-old regime. In Darjeeling, too, our people have come out on the streets and we will carry on with our agitation for Gorkhaland. The issue of the interim set-up is a closed chapter,” said Giri while addressing the crowd. He said a similar rally would be organised in Darjeeling at 11am tomorrow.
With the statehood agitation intensifying, the hill town was deserted of tourists. “There were very few tourists this time and all have left. But we saw some six foreigners in town. Even during previous strikes some bag packers always preferred to stay back and hike around town. Till date the longest strike in the hills have been for a week and there have always been breathers when such tourists leave,” said a hotelier.
At Chowk Bazaar, Giri thundered: “There is no government which can withstand public pressure. We will see for how long the state can deny us statehood when the entire people of the region are for a separate statehood.” He appealed to the people not to desert the peaceful path of agitation. “We also demand a CBI inquiry into the Sibchu incident.”
In Kalimpong, the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation, the Gorkha Primary Teachers’ Organisation and Janmukti Karmachari Sangathan, all affiliated to the Morcha, have demanded a judicial probe into the Sibchu firing in which two Morcha supporters were killed. In separate letters to the National Human Rights Commission and the state governor today, the co-ordination committee of the three organisations accused the state government of violating human rights by resorting to indiscriminate firing on unarmed and peaceful protesters. “The incident is a gross violation of the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which bestows upon every Indian citizen the right to life,” the letters said.
Back in Darjeeling, the crowd cheered as a group of war veterans started a padayatra to Siliguri. K.M. Rai, a war veteran who had served in 1962, 1965 battles with China and Pakistan and the 1971 Bangladesh war of liberation, said: “There is no way of turning away from Gorkhaland and we are undertaking this padayatra to demand a state of out own. The march is for our children and for our people.”
Sagar Rai, 58, who had fought the Kargil War and was part of the padayatra consisting of 56 ex-servicemen, said: “We have come out to protest against the atrocities of the state government, which is trying to scuttle our democratic movement.”
The war veterans will camp near Sonada, 23km from Darjeeling, today followed by overnight halts at Kurseong and Tindharia, to reach Darjeeling More in Siliguri on Saturday.
After a chaotic Tuesday evening, the hills remained largely peaceful apart from a stray incident of violence in Pulbazar. “The house of a local CPM leader was attacked at Pulbazar this evening,” said Darjeeling police chief D.P. Singh.
The rest of the region, however, remained peaceful.

A .303 rifle and 30 live cartridges were stolen by arsonists who burnt down a police outpost at Singla on the Darjeeling-Sikkim border last night, said SP Singh.
Army shoots down Bengal call State says still keen
Karuna Tigga, the lady home guard recuperating at a Jalpaiguri hospital, said on Wednesday that she was hit on the head thrice with a khukuri by a woman. “A woman hit my head with a khukuri. She hacked me thrice,” the mother of two said. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Yelahanka, Feb. 9:The defence ministry is treating as “withdrawn” the Bengal government’s request to deploy the army in the Darjeeling hills after a firm refusal by the military force to get embroiled in civilian strife.
>“My understanding is that Bengal has already withdrawn its request,” defence minister A.K. Antony, here to inaugurate the Aero India civil-military air show, said this afternoon.
“The police can handle the situation,” Antony told a media conference, but did not give details on why the Bengal government should withdraw the request its chief secretary, Samar Ghosh, confirmed had been made yesterday.
The Bengal government put out a nuanced version, insisting the request had not been withdrawn but adding that the defence force was not needed for the time being.
“The requisition for deployment of the army has not yet been withdrawn. It is still pending with the Union ministry of defence. The final decision on the requisition is yet to be taken,” additional director-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha told The Telegraph this evening.
Mohan Gandhi, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, echoed him: “The requisition for army deployment has not been withdrawn. But at the moment, we don’t require the army.” Gandhi had said yesterday he expected the army to be deployed by this morning.
In the evening, state home secretary G.D. Gautama said: “The army is still required. We will press on with the request.”The Darjeeling hills remained peaceful today, barring a stray incident at Ghoombhanjan, near Ghoom, where a forest check-post was set on fire.
Sources in Bengal described the state government’s insistence as a face-saving effort. Other sources said that since the defence minister has spoken and if the situation does not spin out of control in the hills, only political intervention at the highest level could prompt any rethink now.
At Yelahanka on the outskirts of Bangalore, Antony confirmed with defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, seated next to him at the media conference, if the Bengal government had withdrawn its request.
Later, Kumar told this newspaper: “It is my understanding (that Bengal has withdrawn its request). Maybe the Union home ministry has sent additional (central police) forces.”
Antony was asked to clarify the Centre’s stand on the Bengal government’s request in view of his own position stated last month that the military should be used for internal security duties only as a last resort.
Last night, an army headquarters source had told The Telegraph “Our professional opinion is we are not meant to control riots. Now it is up to the political leadership to decide if all resources had been exhausted and army deployment is the only option left.”
In a note in November, the army had explained how frequent deployment for internal security duties — its secondary role — hampers its training and preparation to meet external threats. The army explained that it was also stretched because of its continuous deployments in the Northeast and in Jammu and Kashmir.
Last month, on Army Day, the chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, had said that there was some concern that state governments often asked for troops to be deployed without using all the resources that they have. “The army cannot, can never, be used in the first instance,” he had said.
Darjeeling is a sensitive area. The army has a brigade headquarters in Darjeeling. Troops from the brigade, whose area of responsibility also covers a part of Sikkim, are posted on the border with China.
In addition, the army recruits a number of troops for its Gorkha battalions and special (para) forces from the Darjeeling hills. Nearly every family in the Darjeeling hills has or has had a soldier serving in the forces. The army would not like to be seen as pitted against people in the region that is a catchment area for recruitment.
Even so, a request from a state government to deploy the army is taken seriously. But Gen. Singh is clear on when and how his troops should be used for internal security. Just before taking over as the chief in March last year, he was the eastern army commander based in Fort William, Calcutta.
Army headquarters sources said that he has treated the request with the merit it deserves “and he is himself familiar with the situation”. Gen. Singh was also in Yelahanka today but was not available for comment.
A defence ministry source said the army’s view was communicated to the Union home ministry. Even during the peak of the Subhash Ghising-led GNLF agitation in the Darjeeling hills in the late eighties-early nineties, the army was not deployed.
Khukuri attacker a woman
TT, Jalpaiguri, Feb. 9: A woman had wielded the khukuri thrice at home guard Karuna Tigga, the injured law enforcer said today, recounting the events that led to the police firing at Sibchu in Jalpaiguri yesterday.
“Suddenly, some women grabbed me and dragged me into the crowd. My helmet slipped off my head and I fell in the confusion. A woman hit my head with a khukuri. She hacked me thrice and I heard the report of a shot being fired as I fell,” said Karuna, who was erroneously identified as Kalyani yesterday.
Lying in a bed at the district hospital here, a feeble Karuna said: “I have been posted either at Kumani or Sibchu ever since the Morcha set up camps there. There were other home guards and lady constables deployed in front of the community centre at Sibchu where hundreds of Morcha supporters had gathered shouting slogans.
“We, the women, formed the front of the police barricade as we were confronting mainly supporters of the Nari Morcha (the women’s wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha).I was wearing khaki and a helmet and carrying a lathi. Behind the women security ring were policemen and then CRPF personnel.”
She said tear-gas shells had been burst and Nari Morcha members on a hunger strike evicted from the community hall. “The senior officers were urging the demonstrators to disperse and we had once again come face to face with a group of protesters.”
After recounting the khukuri attack, Karuna, a mother of two, said: “I do not remember what took place after that. I woke up at the hospital in pain. However, I am feeling a little better today.”
The home guard job had passed on to Karuna four years ago from her father Shyamal Tigga who had died while in service. Her husband, Samsul Ekka, had died some years ago. “I have no one but my two children who are in hostel. My colleagues are looking after me in hospital,” said Karuna, who lives in a rented room in Panpara near here. According to officials, home guards with Karuna’s experience drew anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000 a month.
Karuna’s 12-year-old daughter Deepika is a student of Class VI and stays in a tribal hostel in Nagrakata. Ten-year-old son Rohit Ekka studies in Class IX and stays in a similar facility in Banarhat.
Doctors said Karuna was out of danger. “She had received three injuries on the top of her head and on the back and the wounds were stitched,” said a doctor.
Karuna said what happened on Tuesday was not comparable to the small skirmishes she had come across in the past. “They were not like what I experienced yesterday. I do not know where I will be posted next but I will definitely report for duty during similar situations in future,” she said.
A senior police officer said home guards were trained in crowd control and baton charge. Asked why home guards, who were only allowed to wield lathis, had been deployed at Sibchu yesterday, the officer said: “Women home guards are also deputed to control law and order situations as they are counted as lady police in every police station they are posted.”

‘Knee-jerk’ label on govt rush for army

TT, Calcutta, Feb. 9: A “knee-jerk reaction” had led the state government to request the Centre to deploy the army in the Darjeeling hills, senior officials in Writers’ Buildings admitted today.
They said that as violence spread across the hills yesterday, top officials and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee decided to send the request “in a hurry”, fearing that the situation would spiral out of control.
“But the situation did not warrant the army to be brought in,” an official said. “We should have been a little more circumspect and checked whether the situation in the hills was grave enough to ask for the army and had more faith in our police’s ability to tackle the situation.”
Although no bureaucrat was willing to be quoted on record, Jogesh Burman, the state minister for backward classes welfare and an MLA from Jalpaiguri district, said the army was not required in Darjeeling.
“Our police are quite capable of tackling the law-and-order situation in the hills,” Burman said. “The army is not needed to restore normality there. The situation has not reached that point yet.”
Senior police officers pointed out that even at the height of the Subash Ghisingh-led GNLF movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties, when around 1,200 lives were lost, the army had not been deployed.
A section of officials said the administration should have been aware that last month defence minister A.K. Antony had said the army should be used for internal security duties only as a last resort. “The death of two persons in police firing and the subsequent burning down of forest bungalows were not the gravest of situations and the top officials should have realised that Antony would be reluctant to send the troops to handle this,” an official said.
The leader of the Opposition, Trinamul’s Partha Chatterjee said: “The government is non-existent. The state administration has become farcical. Asking for the army in such a situation shows how little faith the government has in its own machinery.”
“The CPM is trying to create a terror situation throughout the state by fomenting violence before the Assembly polls so that they can get the Election Commission to postpone it,” Chatterjee added.
According to sources, in less than an hour after the district authorities requested the state administration to call in the army, the top brass, including chief secretary Samar Ghosh and home secretary G.D. Gautama, sought the approval of the chief minister.
“After getting the nod, the requisition was forwarded to the Union ministry of defence. Very little thought went into the decision,” said one source. “Although those at the top thought last evening that calling in the army was the need of the hour, it clearly was not.”
Gautama, however, said the situation in Darjeeling called for the army’s intervention.
He said the state home department had written to the Centre for eight companies of central forces to be stationed in Darjeeling.
“The existing four companies moved to the Darjeeling hills recently were sent from Jungle Mahal,” Gautama said. “We need them back for the joint operations in Maoist-affected areas. At least six companies of male personnel and two companies of female personnel are of utmost need in the hills.”
He said if the two BSF companies that were deployed in the hills today could remain stationed there, six more companies would be needed.
The chief minister issued a statement this evening saying the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s “violent movement” yesterday was “absolutely unacceptable”.
“Through the tripartite talks in Delhi, a political solution to the Darjeeling issue is being sought. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s violent movement yesterday is absolutely unacceptable,” the statement said. “I appeal (to the Morcha) to give up this path, to resort to dialogue for maintaining peace and harmony in the hills, to assist the administration and to uphold the state’s unity and integrity,” the statement added.
Fire and arson in hills

SNS,  DARJEELING/JALPAIGURI/SILIGURI, 9 FEB: Stray incidents of violence marked the first day of the GJMM-sponsored indefinite strike in Darjeeling today, in protest against yesterday's killing of its two supporters in police firing at Sipchu, even as two companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) staged a flag march in sensitive points in the district.
A police outpost at Ghoom-Jorebunglow and the house of a CPI-M leader, Mr BL Subba in the Pulbazar-Bijanbari block were torched in Darjeeling sub-division today.
The GJMM general secretary, Mr Roshan Giri, demanded a CBI probe into yesterday's police firing at Sipchu, though the state government refused to order anything beyond a magistrate’s inquiry.
The MP, Darjeeling, Mr Jaswant Singh, today called on the Union home minister in New Delhi to apprise the latter of the developments in the hills and the Dooars. GJMM leaders claimed that Mr Singh would participate in a sit-in to be held soon at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi in support of the demand for a CBI probe into the Sipchu firing.
The police, meanwhile, have filed FIRs against senior party leaders like Dr Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Mr Kalyan Dewan, Mr Binay Tamang, Mr Norden Lama and others, slamming charges of instigating mob violence. “This is clear vendetta on the part of the state government,” said Dr Chettri.
According to GJMM leaders, 15 of those injured in yesterday's clash were admitted at a hospital in Kalimpong. “The condition of four of them deteriorated and we admitted them at the Darjeeling sadar hospital today,” said a GJMM leader. The condition of Nitu Khawas (24), is stated to be critical.
Meanwhile, Kalchini MLA, Mr Wilson Champramari, who was arrested yesterday at Sipchu was produced before the CJM court in Jalpaiguri today and remanded in police custody for 14 days.
The Darjeeling district magistrate, Mr PMK Gandhi, said: “The situation is now under control with no major untoward incident being reported. The BSF personnel are patrolling sensitive points in Darjeeling and Kalimpong sub-divisions.”
The three sub-divisional officers of Darjeeling have been asked to assess the damage to public properties in the hills following attacks by GJMM activists since yesterday.
The Darjeeling SP, Mr DP Singh, also said that the situation was slowly returning to normal. “Some stray incidents were reported from some places. The agitators tried to snatch some firearms from on-duty security personnel at Singla outpost when they set it on fire last night. But the attempt was foiled,” he said.
The GJMM activists today took out rallies in different parts of Darjeeling district, including the Terai region, in protest against yesterday’s police firing. An uneasy calm prevailed in Kurseong sub-division today, which saw a massive GJMM-orgainsed mourning rally in memory of the two party activists killed at Sipchu yesterday. The indefinite bandh was also total in the sub-division. Nearly 3,000 GJMM activists from Kharibari, Bagdogra, Kadamtala, Salugara, Siliguri, Champasari, Sukna, Panighata and Salbari congregated at Methibari and started marching towards Siliguri along the NH-55.
“We hope to complete the journey in a week. It may take longer given the uncertainty in the situation. But we would get into the Dooars, come what may,” said Mr G T Lepcha, the vice-president of Gorkha Janmukti Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha.
The police, stationed there in large numbers, erected barricades to resist them from advancing beyond a certain point known as the demarcation-point involving the hills and the plains.
Meanwhile, condemning the police firing at GJMM activists at Sipchu yesterday, the PCPA has called a 24-hour bandh in Midnapore West, Purulia and Bankura districts on Friday as a mark of solidarity with the GJMM's movement. They would also observe Black Day in Junglemahal tomorrow.
Jaswant slams govt on firing
TT, New Delhi, Feb. 9: Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh called on Union home minister P.Chidambaram today, asking for a CBI inquiry into the police firing at Sibchu while coming down heavily on the Bengal government.
Singh, who had won the Darjeeling seat backed by the Morcha, said: “In the last two or three days the way the Bengal government has committed atrocities on people is unprecedented. They are creating a divide among people.”
“It is necessary to order a CBI inquiry. Whatever excuses the Bengal police are giving are false,” he told reporters after the meeting. Asked about allegations that the protesters had attacked the security forces first, Singh asked what kind of self-defence was it by the police that they needed to kill a 16-year-old and a woman. “Who gave orders to fire? No one is on record,” he said.
The senior parliamentarian even got Mamata Banerjee into the picture. He said one may go and ask Mamataji how the Bengal police harass people.
Singh said it was disturbing to note that only on Tuesday a draft of the agreement was sent to the Bengal government and as if by conspiracy, the crowd was fired upon. “This was a well-planned thing,” he said. On Tuesday the government sent copies of draft agreement for the interim authority to Bengal government after including “clarifications” to some questions raised by the Writers’ Buildings, sources said. The impression from North Block was that in-principle agreement had been reached between the three sides on setting up the interim authority. 
TT, Opinion, Feb 10: Popular movements often turn violent when their leaders lose the plot. That seems to be the case with the sudden eruption of violence in Darjeeling and the Dooars. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s two-year-old agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state may not have always been as Gandhian as its leaders pretended. But it avoided large-scale violence and thereby distinguished itself from the Gorkha National Liberation Front’s stir in the 1980s on the same issue. Also, Tuesday’s violence by GJM supporters came at a time when its talks with the Centre and the state government seemed to have reached a crucial stage. Despite some differences, the three sides reportedly agreed on setting up an interim administration for Darjeeling. The eruption of violence at this stage, therefore, raises questions about the GJM leadership’s commitment to the proposed interim administration. The violence seems to reflect the GJM leadership’s failure to resolve differences within its ranks. While negotiating the interim set-up, the leaders faced two dilemmas — how to make it acceptable as an alternative to a separate state and how to reconcile themselves to the exclusion of the Dooars from the jurisdiction of the new set-up. The violence thus shows the leaders’ frustration rather than their strength.
However, the GJM’s failures do not make the deaths of two young women in Tuesday’s police firing any less tragic. Since the GNLF began its Gorkhaland movement in the mid-1980s, scores of lives have been lost in Darjeeling. Arson and other acts of destruction have left the economy of the hills in a shambles. The worst victims of all these have been the common people who followed their leaders in the hope of a better deal for themselves. The spread of violence to the Dooars now threatens to destroy social and economic links between the hills and the plains. Even more disastrous for the people has been the state’s complete retreat from the hills. Since the signing of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council accord in 1988, the state administration has ceased to exist in Darjeeling. It followed a suicidal policy of buying peace, first with the GNLF and then with the GJM, by suspending the rule of law in Darjeeling. The GJM and the governments in New Delhi and Calcutta must move fast to prevent any further eruption of violence. No new set-up can work if the rule of law is not restored in Darjeeling.
Relief rider strikes school ride
TT, Siliguri, Feb. 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has exempted educational institutions located on a 7km-stretch between Darjeeling More and Sukna from the purview of its ongoing strike, but with a rider that students should either avail themselves of school or college vehicles or make provisions for car pools.

The condition is set to pose logistical problems to institutions as most of them don’t have enough vehicles.
“We have exempted the educational institutions from the purview of the strike, considering that studies will be hampered and the examinations will start in a week,” said Hemant Gautam, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha’s Siliguri unit.
“However, there are certain conditions that the institutions have to follow regarding the modes of conveyance by which students come to their respective schools and colleges. Our picketers will only allow students in buses or vehicles of their respective institutions to pass. Students can come by private vehicles with a sticker ‘school duty’ pasted on them but they have to be in groups of five or six.”
According to Gautam, students will not be allowed to pass if they come in private cars in ones and twos.
“The conditions will be strictly enforced from tomorrow,” he said.
The Morcha usually puts up blockades at Panchnoi bridge,1km from Darjeeling More, during strikes. Ten institutions are located in Salbari and Dagapur area on the other side of the bridge towards Sukna along NH55.
Gyan Jyoti College, IIAS School of Management, GD Goenka Public School, Delhi Public School and BB Gurung Memorial School are among them.
The Morcha is enforcing the strike when the CBSE (X and XII), ICSE, ISC and Madhyamik exams are scheduled to start soon. While ICSE and ISC exams are scheduled to begin on February 28, practical exams for ISC students will commence on February 14.
The Madhyamik will start on February 23 while the CBSE exams for Classes X and XII will start on March 1. Practical exams for CBSE Class XII are being held.
Although the authorities are relieved at the relaxation, they have been left searching for alternatives because of the conditions.
“We have over 3,000 students and most of them use school buses. The school has around 50 buses, which can accommodate around 50 students each. We will immediately start sending text messages to the guardians of those students who come by their own vehicles, asking them to take the school buses. The buses will be crowded, but under the circumstances, they have to be accommodated,” said the principal of a school.
Most of the institutions have decided to operate extra services. “We have around 500 students and there is a shortage of vehicles at the college. We run only one bus which has the capacity to carry around 50 students. We will have to operate extra services for students who come on their own. They can come to Darjeeling More and get into the college bus from there,” said the administrator of a college.
Most of the schools in the hills, both government and boarding, are scheduled to reopen from the third week of February. Many believe the indefinite strike will probably be lifted by then. “The boarders normally come a day or two before the school reopens,” said an educationist.
At firing site, no police in sight
SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE, TT, Khunia More, Feb. 9: The bodies of two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters killed in the police firing yesterday were brought to Sibchu where around 5,000 people had gathered despite prohibitory orders.
No policemen were posted in the area, a day after a Morcha-police stand-off there ignited widespread violence. The party had called a bandh in the Dooars today where few vehicles plied in the Morcha-dominated areas.
At 10.30am, police stopped a convoy of 11 cars at Khunia More carrying around 70 Morcha supporters and the relatives of Vicky lama and Bimala Rai, the teenager and the young woman who died in the firing, citing Section 144. Trilokchand Roka, a Morcha central committee member, led the vehicles that had come from Kumani, 14km from here. They were on their way to the Jalpaiguri district hospital morgue to receive the bodies.
“Section 144 is still in force and we cannot allow so many vehicles and people through. However, we allowed one mini-truck with five persons to proceed to the district hospital,” subdivisional police officer of Malbazar Arindam Sarkar later said.
The police barricade, however, allowed a car carrying Bimala’s uncle Jairaj Lama and brother Bimal Rai.
“This is not good, the police should have let the grieving relatives and villagers to go and receive the bodies. They are not criminals and are in mourning,” Roka said before heading back to Sibchu, 7km from here.
At the scene of yesterday’s firing, there was a silent crowd of about 5,000 Morcha supporters. The bodies that were handed over to the families at 4.30pm were brought to Sibchu and then taken to Kumani where Morcha leaders paid their respects.
A car belonging to Kalchini MLA Wilson Champromari, who was the only person arrested yesterday, was seized at Khunia More.
“We searched the car and found a large khukhuri and seized it. The car also had no valid papers and was also seized. We have detained the driver, Mahesh Lama, and Rohit Thapa, who was accompanying him. No one can carry a weapon, be it traditional, when prohibitory orders are in force,” the subdivisional police officer said.
Police sources said the detained duo had come from Sibchu and said they were carrying medicines for the arrested MLA Champromari, a Morcha-supported independent, was arrested from Sibchu after the firing and was remanded in judicial custody yesterday for 14 days by the chief judicial magistrate of Jalpaiguri.
Police said he had been arrested for violating prohibitory orders and charged with inciting attack on the police (Section 152 of the IPC) and provoking violence (Section 153, IPC).< Morcha supporters set up road blockades at Jaigaon, Hashimara, Dalsinghpara, Birpara, Madarihat, Chamurchi and Bagrakote between 10am and noon. They were lifted around 5pm. There was some tension in Hashimara and Chamurchi where traders were forced to down shutters, the police said. Work in tea gardens was normal.
Forest dept pegs loss at Rs 10 crore
AVIJIT SINHA,TT, Siliguri, Feb. 9: Forest department has suffered a loss of more than Rs 10 crore when offices and bungalows were set on fire by mobs in the hills and plains following the police firing at Sibchu yesterday.
Also, families of at least 25 forest employees have been left homeless in the violence.
Ujjal Ghosh, the divisional manager of Kalimpong division of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation, is among the officers whose bungalows and personal belongings were consumed in the fire.
“We are yet to make any assessment, but it seems that in my division (Kalimpong) alone, the total loss will be around Rs 10 crore,” he said.
Most of the forest properties targeted by mobs were in Kalimpong subdivision
“I was not present when my residence was set ablaze. Fortunately, my family — wife and two children — were also away. I have lost several belongings, right from furniture to garments to certificates and jewellery,” said Ghosh. “I have no clue as to how I can get back the documents that were so important for me and my family.”
With his bungalow being gutted in fire, Ghosh does not have an official address now. Same is the case for several range officers, beat officers and other forest employees posted in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts.
“In Lava, the Upper Neora Range office and quarters of our staff were torched. Since then, they have been staying in neighbouring villages and community halls. All of them have lost their belongings,” said a senior forester.
Hills heat in Delhi
TNN, DARJEELING/JALPAIGURI/KOLKATA: It looked like the day after a battle in Darjeeling. Gutted vehicles still smouldered on roads blackened by scorch marks. Glass shards and ash lay strewn all over the tourist town. Elsewhere, the flames were alive. 
A day after two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were killed in police firing in the Dooars, mobs set fire to a forest check post near Ghoom, two forest department quarters at Turibari near Odlabari and the Forest Development Corporation's bungalow in Samsing. In Bijonbari, the house of a CPM leader was attacked. Several police stations were ghearoed across the Hills. 
The administration ordered a magisterial probe into Tuesday's firing but the aftershocks reached Delhi on Wednesday. BJP MP Jaswant Singh met Union home minister P Chidambaram to protest the "shameful and inhuman attack on innocent women and youngsters" and demanded a CBI probe. One of those killed in the firing was a woman and the other a 16-year-old boy, said sources. Five Nari Morcha supporters injured in the firing were referred to Darjeeling district hospital.
In Dooars uneasy calm 
IE, Kolkata: A day after two supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha were killed in police firing in the Dooars, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday appealed for calm in the hills.
The CM said the Morcha, fighting for a separate state of Gorkhaland, should not have taken the path of violence while tripartite talks were going on in Delhi to solve the problem.
“I appeal to all concerned to extend co-operation to the government to maintain peace and harmony in the area and unity and integrity of the state,” the Chief Minister said in his statement.
Meanwhile, even though an eerie calm prevailed in the hills after an indefinite bandh called by the Morcha began, the state government said Maoists had infiltrated into the GJM ranks and they had triggered the violence. “We have information that Maoists have sneaked into the Morcha ranks and they stoked violence there,” a Home Department official said.
Interestingly, the CPI (Maoists) on Wednesday condemned the police firing and said they were extending their support to the cause of the Morcha.
Two persons were killed and 19 people, including 7 GJM supporters and 12 police personnel, injured in Tuesday’s violence in which several vehicles and government buildings were damaged in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. So far one person has been arrested. The state government said it was to get Army help to control violence there despite a request to the Ministry of Defence.
There was confusion with Union Minister of Defence A K Antony denying getting any such request from the state government and State Home Secretary G. D. Gautama insisting that the request for Army assistance was pending with the Central government. “Six companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed in Darjeeling and one company in Jalpaiguri,” Gautama said.
“For three decades, they have continuously maintained a rift between the hills and the plains. They have deliberately done this to reap political benefits. But now we have understood their ploy,” said Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee. He claimed the Trinamool had detailed information on the perpetrators of the violence. The main motive of the state government was to postpone the polls in any possible manner, Chatterjee said. “This is a deep-seated conspiracy. It was all pre-planned. Biman Bose’s immediate reaction was further proof of the fact,” said Trinamool vice-president Subrata Mukherjee. He added that the state might have to witness more such incidents as the Centre and Election Commission had stepped in to monitor the situation.
The Darjeeling administration, meanwhile, withdrew the security cover provided to Morcha president Bimal Gurung and its general secretary Roshan Giri, saying they no longer needed them.
BJP for CBI probe
Meanwhile, in New Delhi the BJP has demanded a CBI probe into the death of two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists in police firing.
Talking to mediapersons after meeting Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, senior BJP leader and Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling Jaswant Singh described the police action as “shameful” and “inhuman”. “It reflects the shameless and inhuman nature of the Bengal government. I charge the state government and police with dividing the people rather than taking initiative for unity,” he said.
Trinamool blames Buddha govt
The Trinamool Congress has alleged that yesterday’s violence in Jalpaiguri, in which two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were killed in police firing, was a pre-planned ploy of the state government aimed at creating a law and order problem that could lead to the postponement of the Assembly elections.
“For three decades, they have continuously maintained a rift between the hills and the plains. They have deliberately done this to reap political benefits. But now we have understood their ploy,” said Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee. He claimed the Trinamool had detailed information on the perpetrators of the violence. The main motive of the state government was to postpone the polls in any possible manner, Chatterjee said. “This is a deep-seated conspiracy. It was all pre-planned. Biman Bose’s immediate reaction was further proof of the fact,” said Trinamool vice-president Subrata Mukherjee. He added that the state might have to witness more such incidents as the Centre and Election Commission had stepped in to monitor the situation.

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