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Friday, July 22, 2011

Sunil Chhetri recommended for the Arjuna Award..... GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE .... Adivasis to meet minister over GTA inclusion... Gorkhaland deal spurs self-rule demand in NE .... Better prospects for Darjeeling Tea this year... Mamata, PC went up the hill. Will they come tumbling after?

Headline SMS, KalimNews: CPRM will hold dharna in New Delhi on 12 and 13 August.
BGP will distribute booklet on the demand of Gorkhaland to all MPs
Sunil Chhetri recommended for Arjuna award 2011 in Football. 
Sunil Chhetri the Indian football captain recommended for the Arjuna Award The national awards selection committee today officially announced the list of recipients for the 2011 national sports awards and once more a footballer will be amongst the Arjuna awardees in the name of India striker Sunil Chhetri. The final list still has to be approved by the Ministry of Sports, but that is seen as a mere formality.
Arjuna Award was instituted in 1961 by the government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports. The award carries a cash prize of Indian Rupee symbol.svg 500,000, a bronze statuette of Arjuna and a scroll.
It would be a great achievement for the Delhi boy who started his career with local City Club before moving to Mohun Bagan AC. Thereafter he went to JCT where he started to show glimpses what he is capable off. In the last couple of seasons Sunil has played for Dempo SC, then spend the summer with North American MLS side Kansas City Wizards before playing for Chirag United SC in the second half of last season.
This year the AIFF had recommended the names of former captains Jo Paul Anchery and Shanmugam Venkatesh besides current players Subrata Pal, Mahesh Gawli, Climax Lawrence and Sunil Chhetri for the award. In the end Sunil Chhetri has been chosen by the committee to get the Arjuna Award.
Congrats Sunil! You deserve it.
Indian footballer Sunil Chettri, currently playing for American club Kansas City Wizards, is among the 15 sportspersons selected for the Arjuna Award.
The award's committee, headed by legendary athlete P.T. Usha, met here Friday to finalise the winners of this year's national sports awards.
Footballers got an Arjuna Award after a gap of nine years. Delhi boy Chettri is the third Indian to ply his trade in a foreign football league and also scored a hat-trick in the AFC Challenge Cup final that India won to qualify for the Asia Cup after 24 years. 
Former India international Mohammad Habib, a member of the award's selection committee, feels the recognition will boost the game in the country.
"After a long time footballers got this prestigious award. In the last three years the team has done exceptionally well by winning two Nehru Cups and the AFC Challenge Cup. This will surely give confidence to the players," Habib, an Arjuna Awardee, told IANS. Ace Indian shooter Gagan Narang, who notched up four gold medals at last year's Commonwealth Games, is all set to be conferred with the country's highest sporting honour - the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna - after being recommended for the honour by the awards selection committee on Friday.
"Gagan Narang has been recommended for the Khel Ratna this year," a source in the awards selection committee said.
"The recommended names for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna awardees have been sent to the Sports Ministry and it will be oficially announced after being approved by the Ministry," the source said.
Indian pace spearhead Zaheer Khan has been picked for the Arjuna award. The 32-year-old fast bowler, who is currently in England for the ongoing Test series, has taken 271 wickets in cricket's longer format at an average of 31.94.
Zaheer has 273 one-day wickets at an average of 28.84. The last time a male cricketer got the Arjuna award was 2009 when Gautam Gambhir was picked for the honour.
The other Arjuna awardees this year include Indian football captain and striker Sunil Chettri, rising tennis star Somdev Devvarman and ace badminton player Jwala Gutta.
Somdev had struck a golden double last year by finishing on top in both the Commonwealth and Asian Games singles events.
Fly weight boxer Suranjoy Singh, who clinched an astonishing seven back-to-back gold medals last year including the Commonwealth Games gold, is also in the list of athletes recommended for the Arjuna.
Discus thrower Vikas Gowda, who won a bronze medal in the Asian Games last year, and long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan, an Asian Games gold-medallist, were the track and field athletes who made the cut, according to the source.
Among shooters, India's first woman world champion Tejaswini Sawant, who clinched the top honours in the 50m rifle prone event, has been recommended for the Arjuna award.
Ashish Kumar, the first Indian gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, also made the list. Ashish had clinched a silver in the men's vault and bronze in the men's floor events of the Delhi Games.
Wushu player Sandhya Rani is set to feted for her Asian Games silver with the Arjuna award. 
Archer Rahul Banerjee, who clinched the men's recurve gold in the Commonwealth Games last year, has also made the cut in the recommended list.
The selection panel for the awards was headed by sprint legend P T Usha and comprised, among others, tennis ace Leander Paes, hockey icon Ashok Kumar, ace woman boxer M C Mary Kom, shooter Anjali Bhagwat and national squash coach Cyrus Poncha.

Complete list for Arjuna Awardees
Archery - Rahul Bannerjee
Athletics - Preeja Sreedharan, Vijas Gowda
Badminton - Jwala Gutta
Boxing - Suronjoy
Cricket - Zaheer Khan
Disabled - Prashant Karmakar
Football - Sunil Chhetri
Gymnastics - Ashish Kumar
Hockey - Rajpal Singh
Kabaddi - Rakesh Kumar, Tejaswini Bai
Shooting - Tejaswini Sawant
Swimming - Virdhaval Khade
Tennis - Somdev Devvarman
Volleyball - Sanjay Kumar
Weightlifting - Ravi Kumar
Wrestling - Ravindra Singh
Wushu - Sandhya Rani Devi
Previous Arjuna Awardees in Football
 1 1961 P. K. Banerjee 
 2 1962 Tulsidas Balaram 
 3 1963 Chuni Goswami 
 4 1964 Jarnail Singh 
 5 1965 Arun Lal Ghosh 
 6 1966 Yusuf Khan 
 7 1967 Peter Thangaraj 
 8 1969  Inder Singh
 9  1970 Syed Nayeemuddin 
10 1971 C. P. Singh 
11 1973 Magan Singh 
12 1978 Gurdev Singh Gill 
13 1979 Prasun Banerjee 
14 1980 Mohammed Habib 
15 1981 Sudhir Karmakar 
16 1983 Shanti Mullick (Female)
17 1989 Subrata Bhattacharya 
18 1997 Brahmanand Sankhwalkar 
19 1998 Baichung Bhutia 
20 2002 I. M. Vijayan

- A democratically elected GTA will increase political pressure 
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, TT: The ink was not dry on last Monday’s Darjeeling, sorry Gorkhaland, accord when Bimal Gurung reiterated that statehood remains his Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s “ultimate goal”. Despite Mamata Banerjee’s assurance that “there is nothing to fear, Bengal is not being divided”, one was reminded of Rajiv Gandhi’s warning on the eve of another acclaimed agreement, “Don’t the leaders of the CPI(M) know that regional autonomy is the stepping stone to another state?” All the areas of the old Assam state identified for autonomy under the Constitution’s sixth schedule are now separate states.
This is not necessarily to object to statehood for Darjeeling district and its environs. It is to wonder whether in their eagerness to claim a major triumph for Trinamul in its first few weeks in office, either Banerjee or Palaniappan Chidambaram thought things through before the deed was done. Or is it precisely because they are so acutely aware of the logical consequences of their action that the principals did not commit themselves by putting pen to paper? Curiously, the signatories were junior non-political representatives.
Given India’s size and diversity, decentralization may not be a bad thing. Even many subdivisions can repeat, in relation to the state capital, the old Chinese saying that the mountains are high and the emperor far away. Intimate governance can mean detailed and sustained attention to local problems. The 11 districts of Vidarbha, rich in mineral and forest wealth, yet accounting for 70 per cent of the more than 32,000 farmers who killed themselves in Maharashtra, in a decade is a glaring example. Telangana is another where the locals are convinced that a regime based in distant Hyderabad can never do them justice.
It might be said — and possibly rightly — that statehood demands are often spearheaded by venal politicians whose fingers are itching to dip into the lavish administrative and development budgets that are expected to flesh out the higher status. By that same token, those who resist change and insist on the status quo are also often impelled by no higher motive than a refusal to share the loot. Banerjee has been extraordinarily generous. Going by Rajiv Gandhi’s calculation that only 17 paise out of every development rupee reaches the target — two years ago, Montek Singh Ahluwalia reduced it by a paise — the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration bosses can expect to siphon off a handsome Rs 498 crore.
But I am not discussing the venality that has become a way of life in India. I am discussing the agreement and what strikes me as odd about it. One is the lack of historical awareness in our rulers, the ignorance both of precedents they have inherited and precedents they are setting. Then, there are the intriguing names. Pintail, where the signing took place, seems a curious name for a Bengali village unless the native pronunciation is very different from the English spelling. But nothing can explain the mystifying decision to add “land” to the ancient Nepalese principality of Gorkha whose king, Prithvi Narayan Shah, conquered other neighbouring principalities to create the kingdom of Nepal in 1769, and foist it on an Indian district.
Even if the Left Front had already sanctioned the term, Gorkhaland, its retention by Banerjee signifies her approval. That has allowed Gurung to score over Subash Ghising whose Gorkha National Liberation Front achieved only the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. But that doesn’t make Darjeeling either a district in Nepal or a Gorkha homeland. Darjeeling belonged to Sikkim (despite Nepalese invasions) until 1835 when a mix of force and trickery persuaded Chogyal Tsugphud Namgyal to lease it to the East India Company for a sanatorium for British officers. Sikkim never relinquished its title to the territory for which it was paid an annual rent, and in 1947 submitted a 10-page memorandum (drawn up by a distinguished Bengali jurist, D.M. Sen) to New Delhi arguing that Britain’s withdrawal automatically nullified the transfer and restored the status quo ante. It’s a different matter that the last thing today’s Sikkimese want is to be swamped by the Darjeeling Nepalese.
Gorkhaland implies the Nepalese are sons of the soil, like Nagas in Nagaland. That is not so. It’s like Singapore’s Chinese majority renaming the island Chineseland or Chinatown. The British imported the Nepalese to blast mountains, lay roads, build houses, plant tea and because “these hereditary enemies of Tibet” were the best guarantee of British Indian security, wrote the ethnographer and civil servant, H.H. Risley. “Hinduism will assuredly cast out Buddhism, and the praying-wheel of the lama will give place to the sacrificial implements of the Brahman. The land will follow the creed.” Darjeeling’s original inhabitants were the Lepchas; then came the Bhutiyas, also from Tibet. Some hold that even the Magar, Tamang, Rai, Limbu, Tsong and Sherpa peoples are not Nepalese. The plains have a different set of genuinely adivasi tribes; there’s also a substantial number of Bengali residents and Marwari traders. So, though the Nepalese will be the majority, the GTA will not be exclusively Nepalese. The Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association’s protest warns of other ethnic demands, especially in the Terai and Dooars regions that the GTA claims. The demographic mix calls for sensitive handling rather than dismissal with Banerjee’s Bangali-Kangali jibe.
Ghising tried to solve what he called the identity problem of the nine or 10 million ethnic Nepalese in India with an equivalent of Israel’s Law of Return for Jews worldwide. He aroused secessionist fears by also approaching the British government and more seriously trying to establish links with what was then the kingdom of Nepal. Jyoti Basu dismissed his GNLF as “divisive, anti-people, anti-national and anti-state”. Perhaps Ghising was as confused as the communists. For in criticizing the GNLF, Basu forgot that the undivided Communist Party of India sent a memorial to the Constituent Assembly asking that “the three contiguous areas of Darjeeling district, southern Sikkim and Nepal be formed into one single zone to be called ‘Gorkhastan’”. Idealists might argue the CPI was acting on Lenin’s condemnation of Tsarist Russia as “the prison-house of nationalities”. It’s more likely that with little understanding of the constitutional status of Sikkim and Nepal and no clear concept of ‘Gorkhastan’ in mind, the party was fishing in ethnic waters for revolutionary support.
Gurung seems less given to flights of fancy than Ghising. Or, he may be a cleverer strategist who has capitalized on Banerjee’s yearning for laurels. The main difference between his GTA and Ghising’s DGHC seems to be the stronger elective element. While 28 of the 42 DGHC councillors were to be elected and 14 nominated by the state government, all 45 GTA councillors are to be elected. The Central and West Bengal governments may try to ensure that fair elections are held within the stipulated six months, but the hills have suffered too much violence for coercion and intimidation to be ruled out.
The Centre’s Rs 600-crore package would have merited a more unequivocal welcome if it had been only for development and not reward for what might be an untenable political surrender. Even optimum use of 10 times the promised amount will not turn a notional Gorkhaland into Switzerland. But honest and mature handling can in time remove many of the economic grievances that partly account for political unrest. In the short term, a successful GTA might even provide a precedent for other restive regions. But democracy can only encourage the political pressures of which Gurung warns. A representative regime will be emboldened to press the claims that were first articulated in 1907 when the Hillmens’ Association of Darjeeling asked for a separate administrative unit. If the GTA is suborned and silenced as the DGHC was, it, too, will in time be overthrown in another coup. Once released, the genie of ethnic politics is not easily bottled again.

Adivasis to meet minister over GTA inclusion
PTI, Jalpaiguri, 22 July: Leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, an anti-Gorkhaland outfit, would meet a key minister for north Bengal tomorrow for talks over inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars region in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Mr John Berla, ABAVP's Terai Dooars Committee president, today said North Bengal Development Minister, Mr Gautam Deb, has invited them for talks and they would meet him tomorrow at the state secretariat tomorrow.
“I will talk to the Adivasi leaders to know their demands in detail and inform the chief minister,” Mr Deb said. A 15-member team, including Mr Berla and ABAVP state president Mr Birsa Tirkey, would reach Kolkata tomorrow morning and the meeting was scheduled to be held at 1 pm, Mr Berla said.
The ABAVP was opposed to the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha's (GJMM) demand for Gorkha dominated 199 mouzas of the Terai and the Dooars region in the territory of the GTA.
The Dooars lies in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas around Bhutan while Terai is the area near the Siwalik range, the lowest outer foothills of the Himalayas.
A committee, comprising representatives of the GJMM, state government and the Centre, would recommend to the government whether the Gorkha dominated parts of the Terai and the Dooars would come under the jurisdiction of the GTA.
Mr Birsa Tirkey said it was strange that none from the Advasis, the largest population in the Dooras and the Terai, was included in the committee that would decide whether the areas would be included in the GTA.
Mr Deb said the ABAVP had lifted their two-day bandh called from 16 July following assurance from him to look into their grievances.
The tripartite agreement involving the state and central governments and the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to form the GTA was signed on 18 July.
If needed, the advice of labour minister, Mr Purnendu Bose and backward classes welfare minister, Mr  Upendra Nath Biswas, would be taken, Mr Deb said.
Mr Tirkey said they would raise several other old demands like hike of tea labourers' daily wage from Rs 67 to Rs 250, Sixth Schedule status for the Terrai-Dooars, Hindi medium schools and colleges in the region and declaration of government holiday for Karam, the biggest festival for the Adivasis.  
The pact in Darjeeling
TH, Editorial:Whether the tripartite agreement signed for setting up an autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling Hills will pave the way for settling the ‘Gorkhaland' question — the cause of much bloodshed and agitation in northern West Bengal — is uncertain. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration pact was the culmination of nearly three years of painstaking talks between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, the central government, and the Left Front government of West Bengal. Following a forward-looking decision to set up an alternative to the defunct Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), the breakthrough came in December 2010 with the GJM accepting the State government's condition that the proposed set-up must comprise elected members, and not nominated ones (as the GJM had until then demanded). The sweep to power of the Trinamool Congress in the State gave the process a push — the party's partnership in the UPA coalition at the centre and its friendly ties with the GJM helped the three sides overcome some obstacles, such as the name for the proposed body, and the administrative powers that would be devolved to it. The GTA, to be created once the agreement gets the legislative sanction, will have substantive financial, administrative, and executive powers, going far beyond what was devolved to the DGHC; against the 39 departments of the DGHC, the new set up is to have 59. Nevertheless, a discordant note is struck by the text of the agreement acknowledging that the GJM, one of the three signatories, has not given up its demand for a separate State while recording the opposition of the other two signatories — the central and State governments — to that demand.
A committee is to be constituted to go into the GJM's territorial claims in the Dooars and the Terai and in Siliguri, despite the rejection of such claims by the people of these areas. There are apprehensions across West Bengal that the Gorkha leadership will view these concessions as a basis for further agitation. Within a few hours of signing the agreement, Bimal Gurung, the GJM leader, declared that the demand for Gorkhaland had not been given up. This may be posturing to win his constituency's acceptance for the GTA agreement but, on the other hand, it might not be. The hope is that the political leadership of the Gorkha community will focus on working constructively within the scope offered by the GTA. The Centre's promised financial package of Rs.600 crore over three years, aside from the normal Plan assistance to the State, is a huge incentive. The question that nobody can answer at this point is whether this opportunity will be seized to usher in better times for a long-troubled region of the country.
Gorkhaland deal spurs self-rule demand in NE

Rahul Karmakar, HT, Guwahati, July 21: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Gorkhaland deal this week has spurred a series of statehood and council demands in half the eight northeastern states. In Manipur, the Kuki State Demand Committee has announced an 18-hour bandh from Thursday midnight for a 'Kukiland' encompassing areas inhabited by Kuki tribal people of Manipur, Assam and adjoining states in the Northeast.
"Almost all communities have a state, council or self-rule territory. Why should the Kukis be deprived? Our stir will continue beyond this bandh,” said the committee's publicity secretary LH Hmar.
A separate group of Kukis, however, have been demanding a new district to be carved out of Senapati district of Manipur. Senapati is inhabited by Kukis and Nagas, who have had a history of ethnic clashes, and the new district named Sadar Hills is expected to widen the chasm.
In Nagaland to the east, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration deal seems to have given a fresh lease of life to the demand for a separate Eastern Nagaland state comprising four districts – Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng. Six Naga tribes inhabiting these districts have for long accused Nagaland government of being partial to 10 other tribes "who control power and resources".
The Neiphiu Rio government in Nagaland is against the statehood demand by the Eastern Naga Peoples' Organization, as is the rebel National Socialist Council of Nagaland that sees an 'Indian intelligence hand' in the 'divisive game’.
Another old statehood demand revived by the Gorkhaland deal is that of Garoland comprising the western half of Meghalaya inhabited by the Garo tribe.
But a relatively new demand is that of Gorkha Autonomous Council by the Nepalese-origin people of Assam. "The Tarun Gogoi government did for the Gorkha Development Council, but it was a meaningless sop. We won't settle for anything less than an autonomous council (in north-central Assam)," said All Assam Gorkha Students' Union publicity secretary Nanda Kirati Dewan.
Better prospects for Darjeeling Tea this year
Sutanuka Ghosal, ET Bureau Jul 21, 2011, KOLKATA: The export market shines bright for Darjeeling tea this year. Harrods of Knightsbridge has picked up 20% more while Twinings has placed enquiries with tea companies and Japanese buyers like Mitsui too have send feelers to the tea producers. Strong demand from overseas buyers has pushed up the prices at auctions by Rs 10-15 per kg.
Sanjay Bansal, chairman of Ambootia Group, the second-largest Darjeeling tea company, told ET: "The demand from overseas buyers has increased quite significantly this year. Harrods has already come to Darjeeling gardens and has picked up teas according to their own choice. Japanese buyers have also sent feelers and they will be coming in the autumn. There is a huge demand among the buyers for organic teas. Those gardens that produce organic teas are fetching good prices in the global market. In general, prices of tea are ruling firm."
Last year, Darjeeling tea had suffered a production loss due to drought-like situation in the hills. Production has increased this year due to favourable weather condition.
"Last year, production got affected due to a drought-like situation. We lost the premium first and second flush teas, which fetch maximum revenues. But revenue-wise this year will be better than last year," said Ashok Lohia, chairman of Chamong Tee, the largest Darjeeling tea producer.
Last year, Darjeeling had produced 8 million kg of tea, which was the lowest in last decade. Darjeeling produces nearly 10 million kg tea annually. Of this, 40% earns the maximum revenues as they are largely exported. The rest 60% is rain teas, which do not fetch good prices in the global market.
"Now, there has been incessant rains in the hills, which is a matter of concern to the producers. The industry is hopeful of achieving at least 9 million kg output this year," said Kausik Basu, secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association.
While exports have improved over the last three months, the domestic demand for Darjeeling tea is also increasing.
"Though the first and second flush teas are high-priced and are largely exported, there has been an interest among domestic consumers for these varieties. We are seeing a shift among the consumers from average tea to quality tea," said a city-based retailer.
Mamata, PC went up the hill. Will they come tumbling after? GTA agreement is a historic deal for the Gorkhas and promises development in the Darjeeling hills. But those living in the adjoining plains are not celebrating. Ratnadip Choudhury reports
THE HILLS of North Bengal were alive with the sounds of jubilation on 18 July. Not so the plains. The new tripartite agreement has been designed to bring peace and concomitant development in the conflict-torn region. But even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee outrightly rejected the division of Bengal to carve out Gorkhaland, the signed agreement clearly states that the Gorkhas have not given up their statehood call.
“Bengal is not getting divided. Darjeeling is not outside, it is the heart of Bengal. We all will live together in peace,” proclaimed an emotional Mamata while addressing the huge gathering at Pintail, a village on the outskirts of Siliguri. This is where the historic deal for the formation of a new administrative set-up for the Darjeeling hills, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), was signed. Nepalis, Bengalis and Adivasis clapped, well aware that this deal was better than what they got 23 years back when Subhas Ghising signed the previous accord with then CM Jyoti Basu.
The new tripartite deal leading to the formation of the GTA is a win-win situation for all — the Centre, Mamata’s administration and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM). The Centre can boast that it has been able to bring some sort of solution to a statehood call. For Mamata, it’s yet another promise kept, that too within two months of coming to power. For the Bimal Gurungled GJM, its huge support base gets an assurance that the three-and-a-half-year deadlock has not gone in vain.
The GTA that will replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hills Council (DGHC) is stronger in every way but also comes with chances of backlash and spillover.
The GTA appears to be off to a good start with a Rs 600 crore financial package from the Centre, to be released over three years. It will fund 11-odd mega development projects, an elected body and 59 departments, including the Tauzi department (which keeps land records of the tea gardens), agriculture, school and college education.
As Union Home Minister P Chidambaram pointed out, the deal is an outcome of the ‘sagacity’ both Mamata and Gurung have shown but cautioned, “There is stupendous work ahead. Darjeeling has to be built brick-by-brick, the state government would support you but you have to prove that you have the capacity to govern and deliver.”
Prof Jetha Saskritayana, a distinguished scholar of the region, throws some light on why Chidambaram said this. “Even the DGHC was a good move but it could not deliver. So one has to wait and watch how things unfold,” he says.
Gurung, 47, has a chance to succeed where his original mentor Subhas Ghising went wrong. Ghising, now 80, stays alone in Jalpaiguri. This ex-serviceman has no place in the movement he once ruled like a dictator. Gurung, once his closest aide in the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), has realised he needs to be more democratic. Gurung, less educated, has tried to include all classes of Gorkha society in the movement. He has former bureaucrats, teachers and lawyers in his fold, while Ghising always kept intellectuals away. All his candidates lost in this year’s Assembly polls, putting the last nail in the coffin of his political career.
Of course, the new regime will not come into effect as quickly as it has been announced. Until the GTA takes shape, the DGHC will be headed by a new five-member board of administrators.
The new dispensation will also have to cope with the sceptics. “She says there will be no division of Bengal. Does it mean we will never get a separate Gorkhaland? We won’t be satisfied,” says Sanjay Thapa, a GJM supporter from Kalimpong at the rally. It is precisely to appease people like him that Gurung told TEHELKA, “Till the time our people aspire, we will carry on the political movement for Gorkhaland.”
Opposition parties, both in the hills and the plains, are calling it a total sell-off. “This deal won’t ensure peace in the hills because the GJM has cheated the people in the name of a separate state,” reacts Govind Chettri, spokesperson of Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists. The main opposition in the state, the Left, has already termed the agreement ‘fishy’ as all its clauses were not made public before it was signed.
If statehood is granted to Telangana, Bimal Gurung will have to revive the movement for Gorkhaland. Or else his party will split
There is certainly a bone of contention that will not disappear in a hurry. The GJM wants the plains of North Bengal, the Gorkha-dominated Terai and Dooars, to be brought under the administrative jurisdiction of the GTA. Mamata has obliged them by constituting a committee that will recommend if these areas and Siliguri should be transferred to GTA jurisdiction. The non-tribals, especially the Bengali community, the Adivasis living in the tea gardens and the other tribals of the area like the Koch Rajbongshis are dead against this — they don’t identify with the Gorkhaland movement and they claim to be in a majority. This is where Mamata is inviting trouble, that too early in her tenure.
Ever since the state government and the GJM reached a consensus on the new set-up, the plains of North Bengal have seen agitations and frequent bandhs. Says John Barla of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad that is spearheading the anti-Gorkhaland movement in the plains, “We do not want to oppose the agreement for the formation of the GTA as long as it is limited to the three hill sub-divisions, but the people of Terai and Dooars don’t want to be part of it. We will not accept if we are forced to come under GTA.”
Since the Siliguri chicken-neck corridor links the Northeast to the mainland, any disturbance in the plains would only have a spillover effect in neighbouring states, particularly in Assam, where there are similar statehood demands as well.
IF MAMATA uses strong-arm tactics, the tension will mount, since TEHELKA is privy to intelligence reports that small batches of Adivasi boys from North Bengal have been trained recently by the Maoists. They have developed links with banned outfits from Assam, including the powerful United Liberation Front of Asom.
Mamata might try to win them over by announcing a special development package for North Bengal but there are hurdles here too — primarily the poor state of the exchequer. “Mamata has perhaps done this agreement too early,” says Samir Basak, an octogenarian from Darjeeling. “The party in power has changed but the bureaucracy remains the same. The administration is yet to get used to the change of guard in Writer’s Building,” says Basak.
In the hills right now, the GJM is invincible. But if statehood is granted to Telangana, Gurung will have to revive the movement for Gorkhaland. Otherwise his party will split.
The good thing with the GJM is that it has a good team but a lot will depend on the project that will be initiated in the rural and tea garden areas because all movements in the Darjeeling hills originated in the tea gardens — all top leaders, including Ghising and Gurung, have come from the gardens. In the plains, the equation is even more volatile. The Trinamool Congress- GJM combine has political opponents in the Left, the Congress (if they fall out) and the smaller outfits. Thus how Mamata tackles the brewing discontent in the plains and how long Gurung helps her out is something to look for.
For now, tourists can breathe a sigh of relief. Darjeeling looks forward to a fresh cup of tea as the heritage train rolls on.
Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.
Bail for KLO rebel not on Mamata free list
TT, Alipurduar, July 22: Mihir Das alias Milton Barman, the second in command of the KLO and the chief of the operation squad of the outfit, was released on bail this afternoon, eight years after he had been arrested with Tom Adhikari.

Milton’s family said they would appeal to chief minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw all cases against him and to give him a job.
Although the name of another KLO member, Tom, figures in the list of 52 undertrial prisoners to be released by the government in the first phase, Milton got bail as part of the normal course of law.
His lawyer Jayanta Barman said: “There were seven cases against Mihir under sections 121, 122 (anti national activities), 302 (murder), 364 (a) (kidnapping) and 307 (attempt to murder) IPC. In three cases he got bail from Calcutta High Court. For the rest, he got bail from the Alipurduar court. There was no involvement of the state government and he has got bail under the normal course of law.”
Mihir hails from Uttar Haldibari village in Kumargram, 58km from here.
Among other cases, Mihir has been accused of killing CPM leader Pranesh Pal in Kumargram in 2000. The KLO had launched a secessionist movement and wanted a country consisting of six districts of north Bengal and seven districts of Lower Assam.
During Operation Flushout, Tom and Milton were picked up by the Royal Bhutan Army from KLO camps in Bhutan and handed over to India.
Earlier in the day, Milton’s elder brother Amit Das said: “We are happy as my brother will be back home on bail today. We will distribute sweets among our neighbours. My brother is a graduate from Alipurduar Vivekananda College and we will write to chief minister Mamata Banerjee to give him a job now that she has started releasing political prisoners.”
Rallyist dies in Calcutta
TT, Alipurduar, July 22: A resident of Dalgaon tea estate in the Dooars, who had gone to Calcutta to attend a rally, died yesterday after he suddenly fell while standing in a queue for food and injured his head.
Gautam Toppo, 40, was a Trinamul Congress worker and had gone to the city to attend the party’s public meeting at the Brigade Parade Grounds. He was staying at the Salt Lake Stadium. Yesterday while waiting in a queue for food at the stadium, Toppo suddenly fell off few stairs and fractured his head. “It is difficult to say if he had slipped or he had fainted because of illness. He was taken to a local nursing home but he soon passed out,” said an officer of the Bidhannagar south police station. Toppo died little later. The body has been sent for post-mortem.
TT, Alipurduar: A constable of the Sashastra Seema Bal posted at Jayanti along the India-Bhutan border, was electrocuted at the camp on Thursday. Krishnadhan Das, 41, was trying to charge a searchlight when the mishap occurred.
Elephant raid
TT,Jaigaon: A tusker damaged six huts at Khalpara and Sukhanibusty in Nagrakata on Thursday night. Foresters said the animal had entered the villages from the nearby Jaldhaka forest. It returned to the forest later at night.
Body found
TT,Malda: Gajol police found the decomposed body of Nagender Singh, 48, from a truck on Friday. Police suspect that the trucker was strangled.

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