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Friday, January 20, 2012

Morcha looks beyond Bengal....Life sentence...23 lakh found in train....Life sentence....Govt slams Tea Board for closed plantations....State ignores GJM call for fresh Hill stir

Morcha looks beyond Bengal
VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 19: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is set to step beyond the borders of Bengal and test its electoral fortunes in other parts of the country which have significant pockets of Gorkha population.
As a first step, it has fielded a candidate in Mussoorie in Uttarakhand where Assembly elections are due on January 30.
Morcha chief Bimal Gurung will leave for Mussoorie tomorrow or the day after to campaign for Jagdish Chauhan, party general secretary Roshan Giri said today.
The Morcha also believes that it has considerable influence in at least 26 constituencies in Assam and three in Manipur.
“According to our survey, we are a major factor in at least 26 seats in Assam. We can influence at least three Assembly seats in Manipur apart from Mussoorie in Uttarakhand,” said Giri adding: “In the days to come, there is a strong possibility of the party contesting elections in these seats.”
The Morcha is gearing up to pool all its resources to ensure that the debut in Mussoorie does not turn out to be a damp squib.
“The elections are significant as we will be contesting in a seat outside Bengal for the first time. Our party president will be leaving for Uttarakhand in a day or two and will attend meetings and road shows there on January 24 and 25,” said Giri.
The fact that the Morcha has taken a conscious decision to reach out to the Nepali-speaking people across the country can be gauged from the fact that Giri will be leaving for Tezpur on January 21 to attend a programme organised by Assam Gorkha Sammelan. “From Assam, I will also go to Uttarakhand on January 23,” said Giri.
Party sources maintain the Morcha does not want to be seen merely as a Darjeeling-based political outfit with a limited sphere of influence.
“If we are able to rally all the Nepali-speaking people scattered across the country, the importance of the party in the eyes of the Centre would definitely increase. Winning an election outside Bengal where our community is present, is not on our agenda. Our ultimate aim is to bring our people under one political banner,” said a Morcha leader.
Another source said the Mussoorie seat has 94,557 voters of whom the about 20,000 are Nepali-speaking people. “If we can consolidate our voters in Mussoorie, we can win the seat there as there are 15 candidates in fray,” said a Morcha leader.
“Since its inception, the Morcha had been mobilising supporters across the country and many from Uttarakhand had even taken part in various dharnas organised by the party in Delhi to support the Gorkhaland movement,” said another leader.
During the parliamentary elections in Uttarakhand in 2009, the Morcha had appealed to the Nepali-speaking people to vote for the BJP. “During the last parliamentary elections, we had supported the BJP but we now think that we are in a position to contest at least one seat in Uttarakhand,” said Giri.
Asked if Gurung and other Morcha leaders would be meeting Union ministers in Delhi during their trip to Uttarakhand to press for the early formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial administration, Giri said: “Nothing has been fixed as of now.”
GNLF president Subash Ghising to take Govt to Court
Amitava Banerjee, HT, Darjeeling, January 20, 2012: If Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) Supremo Subash Ghising has his way, he is all set to drag the Union and West Bengal Governments to the court for the non-implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of which both were signatories. Ghising has been making frequent trips to Delhi to consult legal experts in this regard. On the other hand Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) President Bimal Gurung has threatened to resurrect the Gorkhaland agitation if the Government fails to form the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) within March 27, 2012.
On December 6, 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the Centre, State and GNLF President Subash Ghising to accord a 6th Schedule status to the Darjeeling Hills. However with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) being floated by dissident GNLF leader Bimal Gurung in October 2007 riding piggyback on the Gorkhaland demand finally led to the ouster of Ghising, the GNLF and the 6th Schedule demand from the Hills.
A fresh Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the State, Centre and the GJM on July 18, 2011, for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA,) an autonomous administrative body to replace the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. This MOA paved way for the passing of a GTA Bill by the West Bengal Assembly. The Bill is at present under inter-ministerial consultation. Following a green signal from the ministries, the Bill will require an assent from the President of India. A GNLF source stated that Ghising has decided to knock on the doors of the apex court, questioning as to why the Government has failed to honour its own MOU to grant a 6th Schedule status to the Darjeeling Hills.
“Subash Ghising has been meeting Supreme Court lawyers to seek legal opinion on this matter. Whatever be the outcome the GNLF party has decided to seek legal recourse” stated the source. Meanwhile a jittery GJM has threatened to resurrect the separate state demand if the Government fails to form the GTA within March 27, 2012. GJM President Bimal Gurung has made an announcement to this effect at Jamuney near Darjeeling on Tuesday evening. After his ouster from the Hills in 2008, Ghising had returned back to Darjeeling from his political exile in Jalpaiguri on April 8, 2011. The GNLF in an attempt to regroup had even fielded candidates in the three hill constituencies in the last Assembly elections. However after being routed in all the three seats (Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong) Ghising had made a silent retreat to Jalpaiguri on May 16, 2011.
Ghising is planning to come out of the political hibernation to make yet another public appearance in Mirik under the Kurseong sub division of the Darjeeling district. Aimed at sensitizing the public on the benefits of the 6th Schedule, the party has planned a similar meetings across the Hills. “We will hold public meetings all over the Hills starting with Mirik in February. President, Subash Ghisingh, will soon announce the dates for the meetings. He will also be present in the meetings.” stated Arjun Rai, the convener of the GNLF’s Mirik area. The GNLF have already initiated ground work, specially in the Mirik area. Rai had recently held meetings with GNLF village chiefs of the Mirik area.

News in Brief: 
23 lakh found in train
KalimNews: A bag full of Indian currency worth Rs 23 lakh was found by a sweeper Sima Roy in an AC compartment 09041 of Gaur Express (up). On sweeping the compartment in the car shed the black bag was founded by Sima and handed over to Kalu Mohammed of GRPF which was later deposited to his superior in Malda division station.Sima is a widow and has two sons. A bidi company has claimed the bag and both Sima and Kalu will be rewarded announced the GRPF officials. 
Firing arrest
TT, Alipuduar: An ex-army man was arrested from Birpara on Thursday evening after he fired four rounds in the air from his gun during an argument with a shop keeper. After the firing, local people caught Hareram Singh and handed him over to police. The police said one round of live cartridges was recovered from him. Singh has claimed that he had a licence for the gun. He will be produced in the court on Friday.
Life sentence
TT, Jalpaiguri: Rupesh Lohar, a resident of Gairkata, was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his neighbour on September 16, 2005. Pratiklal Jha, the additional public prosecutor, said Lohar used to beat up his wife often and he had attacked Nanka Roy and his brother when they tried to save her one day. Nanka died on the spot and Lohar was arrested two days after the incident. The additional sessions judge, fast track second court, has also slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on Lohar. If he fails to pay the amount, he will have to spend six more months in prison.

High power committee  will meet on 27 January at Kolkata regarding the inclusion of Doaars and Terai in the GTA. Roshan Giri and L.B.Pariyar will represent the GJM in the meeting.
Govt slams Tea Board for closed plantations

teaSNS, SILIGURI, 19 January 2012: At a time when two more tea workers of the closed Dheklapara Tea Estate are struggling for their lives at Jalpaiguri District Hospital, blame-game has started between the state government and Indian Tea Board officials on the issue of abandoned tea plantations in the region.
Mr Jiban Oraon (57), an allegedly malnourished tea worker and Mrs Joshoda Oraon (60), suffering from liver problem, are undergoing treatment at the district hospital.
Following the death of nine tea workers at Dheklapara owing to alleged starvation over the past few months (official records show only six tea workers have died) government officials, including north Bengal development affairs minister Mr Gautam Deb, alleged that the tea board members were reluctant to take any initiative to revive the closed tea estates.
Reacting to minister Mr Deb’s comment, one of the tea board officials in Siliguri said the government should take proper initiative in the interest of the workers of the abandoned tea plantations.
Sources said the state might approach the Centre to take action against the tea planters on the basis of the Tea Act 1953 in connection with fund diversion and other financial irregularities.
A total of seven tea gardens are closed in the Hills, Terai and Dooars. “The matter is under consideration of the state labour minister, Mr Purnendu Bose, and other top officials whether it will approach the Centre to take appropriate action since the state cannot exercise the Tea Act,” a senior departmental official said.
An official associated with the labour department said the tea board should keep a strict vigil on the planters in the interest of the labourers.
After visiting Dheklapara Tea Estate thrice, Mr Deb said: “Congress MLAs and leaders, who are members of the tea board should take up the matter with the Centre to resolve the crisis in the tea plantations in the interest of jobless workers. However, they are completely reluctant.”
The deputy director of Tea Board in Siliguri, Mr KK Bhattacharya, said: “The top tea board officials usually implement the Tea Act 1953. We cannot do anything from our level.”
Mr Bhattacharya said: “Can the Tea Board take over a closed tea garden? We only assist tea plantations in various forms to develop tea industries. We have nothing to do when a tea plantation is closed due to litigation. The state should take up various programmes for the betterment of the tea plantation workers.” The tea board has made security arrangements for the protection of assets of the Dheklapara Tea Estate following a Calcutta High Court order.
The Jalpaiguri chief medical officer of health, Dr Swapan Sarkar, said: “The condition of two tea workers, who are undergoing treatment at the district hospital, is critical. A few ailing tea workers are being treated at Birpara health centre.” “Not only at Dheklapara but tea workers associated with other tea estates are also suffering,” said Dr Sarkar. “Tea workers at Lankapara, Tulshipara, Dalmore, Singhnia and other areas in the Dooars are suffering from chikungunya and dengue. However, there is no death report. We are trying to combat the situation,” said Dr Sarkar.
State ignores GJM call for fresh Hill stir
Dialy Pioneer, SAUGAR SENGUPTA, KOLKATA, 18 JANUARY 2012 : The Bengal Government refused to react to a warning issued by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung when he fixed a deadline for the implementation of the GTA accord by March-end failing which fresh agitations would start in the Hills.
Bengal Minister for North Bengal Affairs Gautam Deb said all sides were working towards the implementation of the accord, adding Government and the GJM leadership were in constant touch on the sensitive issue.
“The proposed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration will have to be in place by March 27, otherwise the Hill people will take recourse to fresh agitation,” Gurung said. The Government sources refused to attach much importance to Gurung’s statements linking it to the “timing” when it was made. According to sources, Gurung wanted to bring pressure on the Justice Shyamal Sen Committee working to determine the territory of the GTA. The Committee was meeting in Kolkata.
Gurung had said that the Hill people would start a movement for a separate Gorkhaland State rejecting the GTA movement if the Government failed to implement the Accord and a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in place.
GTA was to include apart from the Hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong about 400 moujas from the adjoining Dooars and plains with sizeable population of Gorkhas but largely inhabited by the Bengalis and tribal people. These people are opposing inclusion of the plain lands into the GTA. The GTA Accord was signed by CM Mamata Banerjee and GJM leader Roshan Giri in presence of the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.
There was no question of the GJM extending the deadline, said Giri, adding the Hill outfit was of the opinion that the Committee was working slowly and expected it to work fast and resolve the territorial issue.

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