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Friday, February 4, 2011

Schools might not open after holidays- GJM, Morcha to hill campuses: Be prepared - Gurung appeal hints at greater movement ... Name changed to Gorkha autonomous authority... A new front demands separate state .. ABGL lines up set-up protest

GJM Chiefs at Khumani on Friday
KalimNews, Khumani More, Feb 4: "Schools might not open after the vacation " hinted Bimal Gurung, GJM chief during a press conference held in Khumani More of Jaldhaka. 
He said that all teachers and students should be prepared to contribute their valuable times for the agitation. All Heads of the educational institutions and guardians of the students should not be in a hurry to open their schools and send their wards to the schools. As the next phase of agitational programme to be announced after the meeting of party to be held on 6th February would be more rigid and affecting the schools and the students directly, all should be prepared accordingly, he said. He further said the guardians should not send their wards to the hostels.
Hunger strike in Sibshu Dooars
Addressing the media Dr H.B.Chhetri said that students should sacrifice their examinations and valuable year for the Gorkha's demand. It is more beneficial to sacrifice a year and to achieve something more valuable than losing a year, he added. Chhetri further said that Students may have to forego board examination and gain something more fruitful for their career and hinted that the next phase of agitation may start from 9th February.
A camp of GJMM volunteers in Khumani
Gurung repeating his stand on Dooars said that he will enter the Dooars and continue his Long March with 2 of his associates without breaking any law. But government should make every provision for his safety, he stressed. He said, as a citizen I will abide by the rules and continue my LOng March without violating 144 Cr PC as we will only be three but government too should do its duty by making arrangement for my safety.

Vivek Chhetri and Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Darjeeling/Kalimpong, Feb. 4: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today appealed to educational institutions in the hills to be “prepared for any eventuality” even as the Centre made a last ditch attempt to find a solution to the Darjeeling hills impasse.
The Morcha hint of a greater agitation comes at a time when the Centre has drawn up a fresh draft on the proposed interim set-up for the hills.
Gurung’s “appeal” is an indication that the Morcha has more or less finalised its plan to launch an agitation and start a major campaign in the hills irrespective of the draft’s content. The party has decided to hold its central committee meeting on Sunday, a day before an earlier scheduled meeting.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri, a spokesperson for the Morcha, said over phone from Kumani: “Our party president has made an appeal to all those involved with educational institutions to be prepared for any eventuality. During this round of agitation even the students might be involved. In fact, the appeal is for everyone to be prepared.”
Chhetri has been camping at Kumani More on the fringes of the Dooars with more than 600 Morcha supporters and Gurung since January 18. The Jalpaiguri district administration has stopped their entry in the Dooars by imposing Section 144 in the region.
The “appeal” comes at a time when educational institutions across the hills are set to reopen after a three-month winter vacation. Many schools are set to reopen for the new academic session in the third week of February.
“There is still time for the schools to reopen but the president has made an appeal well in advance. Also, some outstation students come much before and they should not be caught in the agitation,” said Chhetri.
While addressing a delegation of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JSTO), Gurung also asked the teachers not to boycott the census work.
“The party president apprised the delegation of the importance of the census. There was much deliberation about a column in the census where every person has to note down their community. We feel it might be a repeat of a conspiracy of the 1950s census and hence have asked all to write Gorkha in the community column,” said Chhetri.
Hill politicians always alleged the state government had hatched a conspiracy in the 1950s by asking the people to list the language they spoke. “Most people enlisted their dialect and only a handful wrote Nepali. Later, the government used this figure to state there were hardly any Nepali-speaking people in the hills,” said Chhetri.
Even though the entire 32 hill communities classify themselves as Gorkhas, most of them have their own dialect while some even have their own scripts.
Sources said the Centre has almost finalised a new draft on the interim set-up and in all probability it will be sent to the Morcha before the party holds its central committee meeting on Sunday.
Earlier this week, Union home minister P. Chidambaram had said “next steps are being actively considered”, a hint that the draft might be soon presented to the party.
Chhetri, however, said the party was yet to receive the draft. “The draft does not hold much importance for us now. The Bengal government is not sincere and the Union (government) too is indecisive. The central committee has already rejected the idea of interim set-up and we are not excited about the new draft,” said Chhetri.
In fact, the Centre, too, believes that the standoff would persist even after sending a fresh draft and has decided to send a company of women CRPF personnel to Darjeeling. “They will be arriving in Darjeeling tomorrow,” said D.P. Singh, superintendent of police, Darjeeling. This would be the first time that an all-women CRPF company is being sent to the hills. In the Morcha agitation, the women’s wing has always been in the forefront.
Name changed to Gorkha autonomous authority
KalimNews: Center and the State government both agrees on the formation of an autonomous body as a solution to the agitation in Darjeeling and Dooars. Both have agreed that there should be an election to constitute the body within 30 days of Bidhan Sabha election and the area would be the same to that of DGHC. 
Samar Ghose state chief secretary said that state government has also proposed that the name of the body be Gorkha autonomous authority which is accepted by the center. It is presumed within a day the draft prepared by center will reach the GJM. 
A new front demands separate state
KalimNews: Five organisation have formed a party demanding a separate state in north bengal comprising of six districts. The separate demand front is comprised of Kamtapur progressive party, People's Progressive party, CPI(ML), Republican party of India, Nationalist Congress Party. It has proposed to bring out a rally on Sunday in Siliguri from Siliguri Junction to court more. Atul Roy, President of KPP the convenor of the front said that it has emphasised on the rights of the tribal people and the natives  as well all round develpment of the area. 
ABGL lines up set-up protest
TT, Siliguri, Feb. 4: The ABGL will launch an “indefinite movement” from Monday against the interim set-up, which the party says is weaker than the DGHC and is likely to be thrust on the Darjeeling hills.
“We consider the proposed interim set-up to be weaker than the DGHC and it will not have powers and resources to work for the welfare of the hill people,” said Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL, after a meeting of the party’s central committee here today.
Sherpa said unlike panchayats and municipalities, which are governed by separate acts and rules, there would be no specific act for the set-up. “There is no clarity on the functions, powers and responsibilities of the proposed body, which some parties claim is a temporary arrangement,” said Sherpa.
“A temporary body that does not have any constitutional validation cannot meet the aspirations of the deprived people. We want the central and state governments to hold talks and find a permanent solution. Every political party should be involved in the process.”
Elaborating on the movement, the ABGL said its leaders and supporters would submit memorandums to all block and subdivisional offices across the hills on Monday, demanding that the proposal for the set-up be dumped. “Our next course of movement would be submission of appeals directly to the state and central governments, mentioning why interim authority is unsuitable for the hills and won’t end the problems faced by the people,” said Sherpa.
He said an indefinite hunger strike would be launched, if the Centre went ahead with the arrangement.
Interim set-up in Darjeeling delayed
Prasanta Paul, protagonists of a separate Gorkhaland state including those from the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) have received a major setback.
Mamata Banerjee, railway minister, who aspires to be West Bengal’s chief minister in near future, on a recent visit to Darjeeling, declined to support the demand for a separate state comprising the three hill subdivisions and parts of the plains in North Bengal.
At a recent meeting with Union home minister P Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Mamata reportedly concurred with Pranabda that there was no need to hurry with the creation of a separate state. While the Congress has been opposed to creation of Gorkhaland for a long time, it was for the first time that the Trinamool Congress has adopted an official stand in this regard.
What is more interesting is the fact that during a meeting of the cabinet committee on security affairs, both Mamata and Pranab Mukherjee had reportedly advised Chidambaram to go slow on the constitution of even an interim set up in the hills. While Chidambaram was in its favour, the two ministers from Bengal opposed it on the plea that the Assembly elections were due in another couple of months and that the new government would need to take a fresh look at it.
Tripartite meeting
Asked about the party’s stand on an interim set-up, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri sidestepped the query saying that he was not keen to react on the issue of a delayed set up. Although the Centre has invited the GJM representatives for talks in New Delhi, there was an invitation extended to the Buddhadev Bhattacherjee government as well for the tripartite meeting.
The GJM which is keen on an interim set-up and has already announced a stir to press for Gorkhaland, will find itself in a spot if the Centre decides to delay the set-up further by at least three months. The GJM which wants to read the mind of the Centre in this regard is hard-pressed looking for a clear direction from the UPA government.
Meanwhile, the party has taken a strong umbrage over the reported remark of TRS (Telengana Rashtra Samiti) chief K Chandrashekhar Rao regarding demand for a separate state in West Bengal.
“We have not opposed a separate Telengana state as we understand the aspirations of the people there. But it’s a matter of deep regret that Chandrashekhar Rao has chosen to belittle our aspirations,” Giri said. He was on his way to New Delhi for a meeting with Union home minister P Chidambaram.
The TRS chief who had gone on record saying he was against Gorkhaland, maintained that one could not ask for a separate state close to an international border at a time when the country had been faced with insurgency in the Northeast and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
The demand for Telengana includes 10 districts out of the existing 23 in Andhra Pradesh whereas Gorkhaland comprises only a single district of West Bengal. This apart, people in the plains have been divided over a separate hill state, Rao argued.
Stating that this sort of statements were unwarranted, Giri said that Rao should concentrate on Telengana, instead of “poking his nose in the hill affairs”. “Ours is the oldest demand for a separate state in India and the same was initiated as early as in 1907,” Giri claimed.
Interestingly, the Srikrishna Committee report on Telengana seems to have more impact on the affairs of Darjeeling than in the proposed area of Telengana itself. The Delhi-bound GJM delegation is likely to have elaborate talks with Chidambaram over constitution of an interim council to manage the three hill sub-divisions till a suitable alternative is found.
“We expect that the Centre treats both the demands on an equal footing,” Giri said. The GJM has already announced a 27-day bundh in phases to press ahead with its programme of agitation for a separate state.
Minister visit angers ABAVP
KalimNews: Subhas Naskar Irrigation minister of the state was greeted with black flags by supporters of ABAVP in Madarihat. Minister Naskar laid foundation stone of an irrigation project in Mujnai Tea estate which is closed for 2 months. ABAVP supporters said the government is blind to our problem still their are doing this and that for eyewash. While Naskar in his speech said that he will convey the problem of workers of Mujnai to the Chief Minister. 

Minister faces small industry heat
TT, Siliguri, Feb. 4: Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya today walked into an interaction with small-scale industrialists here only to meet with a barrage of complaints against the state’s Small Scale Industries Development Corporation.
Bhattacharya, the Siliguri MLA, had to quickly assure the owners of about 100 small and medium industries who had gathered on the industrial estate here that he would take up their complaints with micro and small enterprises minister, Manab Mukherjee.
The minister was told that the leases of the plots where the units were located in the 25-year-old estate had expired 10 to 15 years ago and the SIDC was dragging its feet in getting them renewed.
Salil Mukherjee, an entrepreneur and a member of the Siliguri Industrial Estate Developers’ Association, said: “The non-renewal of leases has left us insecure as we are not sure of our land rights. Also, the SIDC, without consulting with us, has increased the lease rent from Rs 26 per cottah to Rs 650 per cottah last month.”
It was unfair, the entrepreneurs said, on the part of the SIDC not to renew the lease deeds for the smooth running of the units that engage around 10,000 people. “It seems that the state government is interested only in big investments and does not have time for first generation entrepreneurs like us,” one of the members said after meeting the minister.
The 23-acres estate, which stands at a prime location off Sevoke Road, faces the problem of water logging every year. “The garbage dumped on the premises is not carried away by the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, further polluting the estate,” an SIEDA member said.
Uma Maheswari, a woman who runs a pipe manufacturing unit on the estate, said while ministers and officials encouraged small entrepreneurs, they were never given an opportunity to supply raw material to government departments.
“We are appreciated for running units but under no circumstances, government purchases are made from our firms to provide some backup,” she said.
Bhattacharya said he would take up the “main problem” of lease renewal with the minister concerned.
4 hurt in pilot car accident
TT, Siliguri, Feb. 4: Four Sikkim policemen, who were travelling to Bagdogra on a pilot car to receive chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, were injured when the vehicle was hit by a truck on NH31 at 8th Mile .
Police said car driver Sushil Tamang, Purna Bahadur Sherpa, Pradip Sharma and I.K. Pradhan have been admitted to a nursing home on Sevoke Road. Chamling arrived from Delhi and visited the private clinic to see the injured before returning to Sikkim. The driver of the truck has been arrested and the vehicle has been seized.

(KalimNews: GJM supporters were greeted Pawan Chamling Sikkim Chief Minister at Chitrey and Teesta, his convoy was halted at NH31A and offered Khadas at a point and he left without a word. It is reminded that GJM is seeking Chamling's support for Gorkhaland and he had expressed his support during the last Assembly meeting ) Earthquake
TT, Siliguri: An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale was felt here on Friday evening. Subir Sarkar, the in-charge of the weather station at North Bengal University, said the epicentre of the earthquake was 85km from Imphal on the Indo-Myanmar border.
Sleaze protest
TT, Siliguri: Members of the DYFI submitted a memorandum to SMC mayor Gangotri Dutta on Friday, demanding action against those involved in an alleged sleaze racket at the SMC guesthouse here. The caretaker of the guest house has been arrested. The mayor said she showcaused two guest house employees, Dhiren Das and Saidul Islam on Friday and have asked them to reply within 24 hours. She added that if the staff failed to give a satisfactory reply then necessary steps would be taken against them.
House on fire
TT, Balurghat: A fire broke out at a house at Chakbhrigu on Friday morning. Two fire engines from Balurghat fire station doused the flames in two hours. Fire officials said short circuit was the reason for the fire.
Train timing
TT, Siliguri: The 12346 Saraighat Express that was scheduled to leave Guwahati at 12.45pm on Saturday will leave at 3.45pm on that day. The 12501 Samparkkranti Express that was scheduled to leave Guwahati at 6am will leave the station at 10.30am on Saturday, Northeast Frontier Railway authorities said.

Nepal govt in place, question mark on stability
Manini Chatterjee, TT, New Delhi, Feb. 4: The election of Jhalanath Khanal as the new Prime Minister of Nepal yesterday with the last-minute backing of the Maoists may have ended the seven-month-long political deadlock but is unlikely to offer much stability or kickstart the stalled peace process in the Himalayan monarchy-turned-republic.
That seems to be the pessimistic assessment in sections of the Indian establishment, which has been closely monitoring the turbulent politics across the border.
For the record, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent a congratulatory letter to Khanal within hours of his election last evening and offered India’s best wishes to him to “build upon and consolidate the gains of democracy that have been achieved by the people of Nepal”.
But observers of the Nepal situation feel the coming together of the two major Left formations — the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) — is more in the nature of a tenuous tactical exercise rather than a strategic re-alignment and might exacerbate internal fissures within both the parties.
Moreover, the crucial issue of “integration and rehabilitation” of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army remains the main stumbling block in the peace process and is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.
Khanal, chairperson of the CPN (UML), managed to sail to victory in what was a four-cornered contest only after Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda, took the sudden decision to withdraw from the race and back Khanal instead.
As a result, Khanal won 368 votes in the 601-member House while his nearest rival Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress got only 122 votes. The Nepali Congress, the second largest party in the House after the Maoists, as well as the United Democratic Madhesi Front, have refused to back the new “Left” government.
While Prachanda’s supporters might regard his “sacrifice” yesterday as an act of statesmanship to end the political deadlock in the country and facilitate efforts to meet the May 20, 2011 deadline to draw up a new constitution, his opponents in both Nepal and India view it very differently.
According to these sections, Prachanda was desperate to come to power and withdrew his candidature only when it was clear that he had no chance of winning.
Since defeat would have meant a loss of face and further eroded his standing within his party rank and file, the Maoist leader decided to back Khanal — a move that would bring the Maoists back in a ruling coalition and give him an opportunity to control the government from the outside.
That Prachanda’s position has weakened over time is clear from the fact that CPN(M) vice-chairperson Baburam Bhattarai openly protested the decision to back the CPN(UML) yesterday.
Bhattarai’s dissent note was signed by as many as 51 party MPs and underlined that only a Maoist-led “national consensus government” rather than the new Maoist-backed formation would be able to break the long-festering political impasse in the country.
While the Prachanda-Bhattarai differences have spilled in the open, it will not be too long for the cracks in the CPN (UML) to surface, these sections feel. After all, Khanal has the support of the Maoists to take the top job, displacing his own leader Madhav Nepal who had been Prime Minister with the help of the Nepali Congress. If Khanal bows to the pressure of the Maoists on key issues, then he will sooner or later fall foul of his own party men, it is felt.
These inter-party and intra-party differences dogging the new Left alliance are not the only reasons for the current pessimism.
Influential sections of the Indian establishment, which are not exactly sympathetic to the Maoists or their vision of a “people’s republic”, remain skeptical of any “national consensus” in Nepal without the resolution of the contentious issue of “merger” of the PLA with the Nepal Army.
This issue, which formed the cornerstone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2006, has dogged peace talks ever since. Acute differences persist on the “modalities of integration and rehabilitation” of erstwhile PLA guerrillas, numbering nearly 20,000, who have been disarmed and lodged in military cantonments for the past three years.
Although the Maoists “handed over” the PLA to a special committee 10 days ago with Prachanda then declaring that the “PLA has now become a security organ of the state”, neither he nor his party are ready to accept merger on terms set by the Nepal Army or the rest of the non-Maoist political spectrum.
The differences on the “modalities” of merger involve both conceptual and practical details. For instance, while the Nepal Army is willing to accept only those PLA officers and men who meet international recruitment norms, the Maoists want integration to take place not on the individual but the battalion level.< At the conceptual level, the Maoists want the merger to lead to the formation of a new army altogether while their opponents expect the merger to mean state control over former Maoist guerrillas and an end to their political and military links to the CPN(Maoist). In light of these fundamental — and seemingly irreconcilable — differences within the post-monarchy Nepali polity, India is resigned to just “wait and watch” the developments up north. At the same time, given India’s high stakes in a country with which it shares the longest open border, it intends to continue close interaction with all the players in Nepal. Foreign minister S.M. Krishna is likely to visit Kathmandu later this month or in March as part of this “ongoing engagement”, it is learnt.

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