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20 Sep 2017

GJM team meets Rajnath Singh, demands tripartite talks on Gorkhaland

Home Minister Rajnath SinghPTI, 19 September 2017: A delegation of the Gorkha Jan Mukti (GJM) met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and called for tripartite talks to resolve the festering Gorkhaland issue.
The team, led by Union minister SS Ahluwalia, who represents Darjeeling in the Lok Sabha, later described the meeting with Singh as fruitful.
“It was a very fruitful meeting with the Home minister. We have demanded tripartite talks, and are expecting a positive development within a few days,” GJM central committee member Swaraj Thapa said.
The tripartite meet should involve the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM, he said.
The five-member delegation also expressed concern over the stalemate in Darjeeling and sought central intervention in ending the crisis.
It alleged that the West Bengal government had “unleashed police atrocities in the name of law and order and was trying to suppress the democratic agitation” in Darjeeling.
The region has been in a state of turmoil for the last three months, with the GJM spearheading an indefinite strike to press their demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.

Hills on the edge: Police excesses have reopened Darjeeling’s old wounds

Security personnel stand guard amid an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling on July 5, 2017. Darjeeling has been rattled at the height of tourist season after violent clashes broke out between police and hundreds of protesters who want a separate state for Gorkhas in West Bengal.Rinku SIngh, HT, 19 September 2017: How do I start this article? I’m not a writer or columnist, but I am impelled to pick up the pen, or rather my laptop, to share something of far-reaching consequence with my fellow Indians and the world at large. If I qualify to be called an Indian, that is. My heart is full of grief and doubt.
Married to an Indian diplomat who represented his country abroad for three and a half decades, I too was very proud and fulfilled with my role of representing a great country. As a spouse, in my own way, I did whatever I could to project the best image of India and to support my husband in his assignments; be it with propagating Indian culture, food or yoga or cultivating the spouses of important local personalities.
However, being of Nepalese origin and not looking like an archetypical North Indian, I’m often treated like a foreigner in the capital of my own country. Even educated people ask me whether I’m from China. “Are you from Pakistan?” I promptly retort, “You do look like a Pakistani.” This is light-hearted banter and said in jest. But let me tell you what’s really weighing on my heart right now. It is far from being light-hearted.
I’m not sure how many readers of this piece are aware of the problems of Darjeeling and its surrounding hills. The current round of violence is not the first. I have known much worse in 1988, when people in the hills wanted to separate from West Bengal, demanding their own state called Gorkhaland. They weren’t seeking independence from India but rather wanted their distinct identity to be recognised within the Constitution of India. The then government of West Bengal tried to suppress the demand with the use of brute force in an inhuman manner.
Those were the days before social media, or even the internet. The West Bengal government had barred all media personnel from entering the disturbed territory. A curfew was imposed and the CRPF was given shoot at sight orders, even when the situation didn’t warrant it. Imagine the innocence of the hill people who ventured out from their homes to go and ‘see’ the curfew!
It was against such simple and innocent people that the CRPF went on an aggressive rampage, killing them as if they were terrorists or enemies of the nation. My own family in Kalimpong became a victim of armed police excesses that was later documented by the BBC. My brother-in-law, husband of my elder sister, was shot dead in cold blood by the CRPF, with his three daughters, a toddler son and my younger sister as witnesses. He was home with them when the forces arrived at their place. Wanting to protect the girls from being raped, which had become a frequent occurrence then, he walked through the door with both his hands up. Without provocation or any questions asked, the CRPF pumped bullets into him, killing him on the spot. He was not even 40 at the time. I was then on the other side of the world in Panama, where my husband was serving as India’s Ambassador. I rushed to Delhi and on to Kalimpong immediately. The curfew was still on, so I travelled with an army convoy to attend my brother-in-law’s funeral.
That very day, a young innocent nurse was killed by the CRPF after she was gang-raped in her home. Later, she was labeled an informer. How convenient and utterly preposterous! These were not isolated incidents. They were part of a larger trend of oppression and abuse the innocent population of Darjeeling district was subjected to over a number of years. Enough time has passed since then for us to forget the past and live our lives. But the scars on our souls will always remain.
What’s happening now in the region has reopened those old wounds. The police excesses and killings that occurred almost three decades ago have returned. The difference is that the people are no longer ignorant. They are better educated and are more politically aware. Though the Mamata government is trying its best to keep all that’s happening away from the media; Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter are beyond Didi’s control. The world can see the atrocities committed on the people of our land. Yet, everyone is silent.
The mainstream media - national newspapers and major TV channels, are dishing out to the public what the Mamata government is feeding them. The central government is mostly keeping mum out of political expediency; no word of sympathy for the victims of the police brutality, what to talk of the demand for statehood! Innocent youth are being wounded and killed by the police almost on a daily basis. But our fellow citizens of the same country are indifferent. Because what’s happening in the Darjeeling Hills barely touches their lives, if at all it does.
A political game is being played with the innocent hill people as pawns. The state government says it is for the Centre to carve out a separate state. The central government says it can act only if a proposal comes from the state government. The bare truth is that both, the state and the centre, lack seriousness in addressing the Gorkhaland issue. They view the demand only through the lens of electoral calculations. The priority consideration in their minds is the effect the conceding to the demand for statehood would have on the ruling parties’ prospects in next year’s state assembly elections.
Separate states have been created with far less ethnic, cultural or linguistic distinctness. Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand), and more recently Telangana are clear examples. Why then is a deaf ear being turned to the people of the Darjeeling Hills, who have no affinity with the rest of Bengal? These hapless people are being treated as second-class citizens in their own country, as if they are aliens. Most other Indians aren’t even aware that the Nepalese of the Darjeeling Hills are not migrants from neighbouring Nepal; they are very much sons and daughters of Indian soil. They have belonged to that land for centuries. All they’re asking for is recognition of their distinct identity.
These people subscribe to a national identity as Indians, with patriotic fervour, just as the rest of us Indians do. But how long will this patriotism and sense of belonging last if the Indian state refuses to hear their voices? Soon, the hills of Darjeeling may begin to nurture anti-national sentiment and subsequently, much worse. Do we want another Kashmir?
(Rinku Singh, an Indian of Nepalese origin, is the wife of a former Indian diplomat, who has served as India’s Ambassador to a number of countries across five continents.)

Gurung camp threat to boycott tea meet

TT, Calcutta, Sept. 19: The Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's trade union today threatened to walk out of a meeting to be convened to discuss the bonus of tea garden workers in the hills if "unauthorised" persons attended it.
Sources said the threat was aimed at the Morcha's Binay Tamang lobby which had yesterday named two representatives who would attend the September 21 meeting in Siliguri.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said yesterday that the issue of reopening the gardens and bonus for workers ahead of Puja was likely to be sorted out at the meeting between trade unions and planters.
The announcement came after her meeting with Tamang and Anit Thapa, who have been "expelled" from the Morcha for announcing a pause to the strike.
Tamang has said he will send Karuna Gurung and L.M. Lama to the meeting.
Karuna was an office-bearer of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, which is affiliated to the Morcha. She was sacked for extending support to the Tamang camp.
Lama is a central committee member of the Morcha.
"The union has received an official communication for the meeting and we will definitely send our representatives. According to the norms, trade union leaders, representatives of the management and government officials sit for discussions. However, if unauthorised people attend the meeting, we will protest their presence and stage a walkout," said Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the union and a Gurung supporter.
Subba's threat to stage the walkout has cast a shadow on the success of the bonus talks.
"It will be of much interest to see how Binay Tamang's group is accommodated at the meeting. There are indications that the state will try to ensure the presence of Tamang's representative as the date for the bonus meeting was finalised after the chief minister held talks with him in Calcutta yesterday," said an observer.
During the meeting chaired by the chief minister in Siliguri on September 12, only Tamang's group had been invited, though Gurung had announced his own set of delegates.
Subba said the bonus "is not a political issue but a statutory obligation of the management".
"The workers are entitled to a minimum bonus of 8.33 per cent and a maximum of 20 per cent. The management of the respective tea estates has to pay the bonus that is the benefit of the last financial year. They are, however, trying to make it a political issue," he added.

Four die in hill car crash... were Satya Sai Sewa Samity volunteers

TT, Calcutta, Sept. 19: Four female social workers from Darjeeling died in a car accident near Maneybhanjyang today while they were returning after distributing food grains and other essentials to residents of a forest village.
Witnesses said the SUV, in which nine social workers were travelling, had fallen almost 200ft down a hill slope at a location between Jowbari and Kopidhara around 3pm today.
Seema Moktan, 45, Purnima Rai, 82, and Laxmi Subba, 53, died on the spot, while Aiti Maya Gurung, 52, succumbed to her injuries on the way to Darjeeling district hospital. They had gone to Dhooteray, a forest village situated about 45km from Darjeeling.
The rest of the five passengers and the driver suffered injuries and have been admitted to hospitals in Darjeeling, Siliguri and Sukhiapokhri.
Sandip Chhetri, a witness to the crash, said: "We, the members of the Satya Sai Seva Samity (Darjeeling Zone III), had gone in four vehicles today to distribute relief materials. The vehicle leading the cavalcade met with an accident this afternoon."
Chhetri was in another vehicle of the convoy.
Various social organisations have been reaching relief materials in far-flung areas of the hills following the three-month long shutdown.
It is suspected that the vehicle involved in the crash had over-sped.
Chandan Pradhan, the secretary of the Singalila Land Rovers' Owners' Association, said: "As soon as villagers learnt about the accident, they started rescue operations. The vehicle fell almost 200ft down the hill side."
The social workers were from Nimkidhara, Merry Villa and Lhasha Villa areas of Darjeeling.


Instinct of the mob - The epidemic of vigilantism

PRABHAT PATNAIK, TT: My wife and I retired seven years ago after teaching in Jawaharlal Nehru University for nearly four decades, and neither of us gets a pension. The interest on our joint lifetime savings largely sustains us. This entire amount had to be invested in my name because she was not allowed to do so, as her name on her PAN card was grossly misspelt owing to a clerical error by the concerned authority issuing the card, an error which has not been rectified by it in spite of decades of effort on our part (though, interestingly, her tax payments have never been refused for this reason). 
This arrangement has been going on for several years; but I recently got a letter signed by two executives of the private firm through which our investment is made (whose agents frequent the corridor outside the JNU finance branch in search of potential customers), asking me to explain the source of my investment which they considered to be "disproportionate to the known sources" of my income. They backed off after I replied that it was none of their business and brought the matter to the notice of others within that firm, but it was a clear case of unwarranted vigilantism.
Another, more sinister, instance was reported recently in the papers. Some students from JNU and St Stephen's College, who had gone on a day-long picnic to a National Park near Delhi, were suddenly surrounded by a mob demanding to know why there was only one girl and four boys among them and how they were related to one another. Some in the mob even tried to molest the girl. The students, fortunately, were saved by the alertness of the taxi driver who had taken them there and who managed to make a quick getaway along with them.
Such instances can be multiplied. Quite evidently, a veritable epidemic of vigilantism has broken out in the country, where a much larger number of people than ever before now feel that they have the licence to throw their weight around, to intimidate the innocent, to harass women, and to engage in lumpen behaviour in the guise of enforcing a 'moral code'.
The vigilantism of the Hindutva forces, whether as gau rakshaks in villages and small towns, or as 'nationalists' in colleges and universities, has been palpable and pervasive. It has attracted wide attention and has been rightly condemned by those who still have the courage to speak out against such things. But this directly Hindutva-inspired vigilantism is also having a 'multiplier' effect by way of stimulating a much wider scenario of vigilantism, where the perpetrators may have only a few openly Hindutva-avowing persons among them, in the sense of persons actually belonging to this or that sangh parivar outfit, but where the vigilantism is carried out nonetheless in the name of defending 'our culture', that is supposedly the Hindu culture.
Such vigilantism, of prurient-minded mobs nosing into people's private lives, or sundry individuals gleefully throwing their weight around to harass people in the self-righteous belief that they are serving the 'nation', is an equally sinister, but even more comprehensive, intrusion into people's lives than that of the gau rakshaks and the 'nationalists'. The sort of 'action' that Hindutva outfits indulged in on specific occasions like Valentine's Day until now is threatening to become a pervasive phenomenon engaged in with impunity by lumpen mobs. Vigilantism, in short, is becoming more widespread, a veritable epidemic that is beyond anyone's direct control.
Each country's fascism has its own specific characteristics apart from certain general features. What we are witnessing here is fascism with Indian characteristics. Fascism elsewhere, say in Germany in the 1930s, was characterized by enormous centralization of power, together with a street 'movement' which itself, however, was centrally directed (for example, Ernst Röhm's SA before the "night of long knives"). Indian fascism, too, has the character of a street 'movement', but one that is not necessarily exclusively centrally directed; it has a kind of 'spontaneity' that no doubt derives sustenance from the centralization of political power in fascist hands, but is nonetheless distinct from it, even while complementing it. It is a kind of 'fascism from below' which complements the 'fascism from above' and is stimulated by it, but has a distinct identity of its own. This spectre of 'fascism from below' is no less terrifying than 'fascism from above'; together they threaten to crush all individual freedom, and negate secularism, democracy and the space for rational discourse.
Such 'grassroots vigilantism' to be sure is not an innovation of Hindutva politics and the fascism (or communal-fascism) that such politics is spawning. It is a hallmark of our feudal society and long predates the Narendra Modi brand of corporate-backed communal-fascism which is clearly a 'modern' phenomenon. But this 'modern' fascism creates the conditions in which such 'grassroots vigilantism' can thrive. Indeed, the fact that fascism allows the thriving of such 'grassroots vigilantism' is one of the reasons for the kind of popularity it enjoys in certain quarters.
It has suddenly removed the constraint imposed earlier by the need to be 'politically correct', and allowed scope for the expression without impunity of one's lumpen-feudal instincts. This constraint had been there for the last one hundred years, ever since Mahatma Gandhi had called off the non-cooperation movement in response to the Chauri Chaura incident (though that incident of anti-colonial fury can by no means be compared to the mob lumpenism we are witnessing now). Even during the horrendous Partition riots, when the country witnessed an orgy of violence, there was nonetheless a constant and tireless effort at 'rectification' on the part of the country's political leadership to re-impose the constraint of 'correctness'. The Bharatiya Janata Party government, however, has removed this constraint. Instead of making an attempt to lift politics above the mundane empirical instinct of a mob, it has glorified this instinct itself as its politics, which accounts for the sort of popularity it enjoys in many quarters.
This liberation from the need to be 'politically correct' enthuses not only 'vigilante' mobs; it is also a source of relief for segments of the middle class who can now give freer expression to their anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit and anti-women sentiments. If the mobs smother the notion of individual privacy, then these segments of the middle class now feel free to reject the notion of equality, to which they have been unwillingly paying lip service till now. And the BJP, which has,created an ambience where such rejection becomes possible, is naturally a favourite with them too.
Notions of individual freedom, democracy, equality and reason are the hallmark of true 'modernity'. It is not the growth rate of the gross domestic product but the degree to which these notions are realized that defines a country's march towards true 'modernity'. The 'modern' phenomenon of fascism, ironically, by effectively pooh-poohing these notions, most explicitly through its opposition to secularism, is rolling back India's march to true 'modernity'. (It is another matter that while doing so it is also overseeing a deceleration in the rate of GDP growth as well.) It is noteworthy that one of the arguments of the Central government in its submission before the Supreme Court on the question of whether 'privacy' constituted a fundamental right, was that privacy had never enjoyed the privileged position in India that it did elsewhere. This actually amounted to explicitly apotheosizing India's pre-modernity, and, hence necessarily by implication, the monstrous inequalities that were associated with it.
The Supreme Court judgment upholding privacy as a fundamental right has been seen by commentators as entailing a restriction on the encroachment by the State on the domain of individual lives, as facilitating same-sex relationships, and so on. All these it certainly does. But it also throws some sand on the mechanism of vigilantism. It may not, of course, stop the current outburst of vigilantism altogether, but the fact that it has made a pronouncement of principle against it by upholding the right to privacy, is no mean an achievement.
In a situation where the secular political leadership has lost a good deal of its credibility with the people and its attempt to uphold 'political correctness' does not cut as much ice now as it did earlier, and where the secular intelligentsia, too, is looked upon with greater suspicion than before, since it has been a beneficiary and generally an upholder of globalization which has simultaneously affected a large number of ordinary people adversely, the judiciary continues to remain a credible instrument for the reassertion of the values that the Constitution associated with a 'modern' India. In the current struggle between 'modernity' and fascism, the Supreme Court verdict on the right to privacy must be seen as a beachhead gained.
The author is Professor Emeritus, Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Delhi race within Morcha to push for talks - Bimal group follows Binay

Tamang leaves Bagdogra airport on Tuesday. (Passang Yolmo)

TT, Siliguri, Sept. 19: Leaders from the Bimal Gurung camp in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi, a day after rebel party leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa called on some "important person" in the capital.
Sources said the leaders from both the camps had a common agenda - to press the Centre to facilitate tripartite talks.
According to political analysts, both the lobbies have been trying hard to make their presence felt in Delhi, especially after the rift widened within the Morcha with one group pitching for normality to return to the hills and the other taking a hardline stand of continuing with strike.
"The race to make the presence felt in Delhi is all the more intense because the state has already acknowledged Binay Tamang as the Morcha's main representative and is unlikely to invite the Gurung lobby for future talks. The Tamang camp now wants a similar recognition from the Centre and the Gurung lobby is desperate to prevent it," an observer said.
The Morcha team that met Rajnath today had in it general secretary Roshan Giri, leaders Swaraj Thapa, D.K. Pradhan, P.T. Ola and T.C. Roka, along with Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia.
"We have demanded tripartite talks on Gorkhaland. The state, Centre, and representatives of the hill parties should be there at the meeting so that a solution can be reached. We reminded the Union home minister how former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had handled the situation by convening a tripartite meeting," Giri said over the phone from Delhi.
"The Union home minister has assured that he will do something within the next few days," he added.
Tamang, who returned to the hills today after "an unofficial meeting" in Delhi around 11.30pm yesterday, was brief in his reaction.
"We don't want to disclose anything about the meeting in Delhi. We want tripartite talks but before that, we will attend the next round of meeting with the state on October 16. There has always been a single purpose for our visit to Delhi and that is to work towards achieving statehood," the rebel Morcha leader said outside Bagdogra airport today.
"All we can say is that the meetings in Calcutta and Delhi were effective," he added.
Sources said Tamang and Thapa had met an "important person", who they believe, could expedite the process of tripartite talks.
"It will be a fresh setback for the Gurung camp if the Centre agrees to a tripartite meeting but invites only Binay Tamang, very much like the state. None of these lobbies want the other side to take the credit if at all such talks are held," said a veteran in hill politics.
The observers said the Gurung camp, which has stressed that the strike will continue until tripartite talks are convened, is under extreme pressure at a time sections of the hill society have started responding to calls from Tamang on making attempts to restore normality.
Gurung, who spoke to some Kalimpong-based journalists over the phone from an undisclosed location today, trained guns at the rebel camp.
"Yesterday's meeting in Calcutta was only a show. They went to Delhi for an excuse and not for any political or official talks. They are trying to delude the people," Gurung said.


बिनय अनितको दिल्ली यात्रालाई गुरुङले भने देखावटी .......नवन्नमा जीटीएलाई क्षमता दिने कुराकानी मात्र भयो – विमल गुरुङ

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ 18 सितम्बर। गोजमुमो पार्टीका विवादित नेता बिनय तामङ अनि अनित थापाले कोलकोता नवन्नमा मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यानर्जीसँग बसेको वैठकलाई मोर्चा अध्यक्ष विमल गुरुङले ‘जनतालाई भ्रममा पार्ने प्रयास मात्र हो’ भनि टिप्पणी गरेका छन्। 
गोप्य स्थानबाट टेलिफोनिक कुराकानीको क्रममा गुरुङले नवन्नमा बसेको बैठकबारे आफुलाई आफ्ना स्रोतबाट सम्पूर्ण रिपोर्ट प्राप्त भएको पनि दाबी गरेका छन्। ‘नवन्नमा जे बैठक भयो त्यहाँ जीटीएलाई नै क्षमता दिनुपर्छ भन्ने कुराकानी भयो। दिल्लीमा उनीहरू एउटा बहना बनाएर गएको हो। जनतालाई भ्रममा पार्न दिल्ली गएको हो। मुद्दाको निम्ति उनीहरू दिल्ली गएका होइनन्’ विमल गुरुङले भने। यसक्रममा दिल्ली गएका बिनय तामङ अनि थापालाई टीएमसी पार्टीका कोहि व्यक्तिहरूले मिलाएर कुनै नेतासँग भेट गराउँन सक्ने पनि उनले आशंका व्यक्त गरेका छन्।
‘हिजका दिनमा कतिपय नेताहरूले राजनैतिक माइलेज लिनलाई गोजमुमोलाई धोका दिएको थियो, तर आज यी दुई नेताहरू (बिनय तामङ अनि अनित थापाले) ले जाति र माटोलाई नै धोका दिएको हो। यो गोर्खाल्याण्डलाई धोका दिएको हो’ बिमल गुरुङले विवादित नेताद्वय बिनय तामङ अनि अनित थापा माथि टिप्पणी गर्दै भने। 
यसक्रममा उनले अहिलेघरी बङ्गाल सरकारले पुलिस प्रशासन लगाएर आन्दोलन खोल्ने प्रयास गर्दा समेत आन्दोलन खोल्न नसकेपछि कर्मचारीवर्गलाई आफ्नो कार्यबाट निकाल्ने, स्कुल खोल्नु भनि आदेश दिने कार्य गरिरहेको दाबी गरेका छन्। उनले टेलिफोनिक कुराकानीको क्रममा नै छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति केन्द्र सरकारले झट्टै त्रिपक्षीय वार्ताको पहल गर्नुपर्ने माग समेत गरेका छन्।
‘दिल्लीलाई झट्टै त्रिपक्षीय वार्ता गर्नु भनेका छौँ। यसबारे दिल्लीमा चर्चा हुँदैछ। त्यहाँ हाम्रो टोलि छ अनि उनीहरूले काम गर्दैछ’ बिमल गुरुङले अझ भने। उनले यदि गोत्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति त्रिपक्षीय वार्ताको पहल सुरु गरे जारी अनिश्चितकालिन बन्द बिषयमा सोंच्ने बताएका छन्। 
‘जनताले आफ्नो पिर मर्का मानेर पनि साथ दिइरहेका छ। यसकारण हामी पैसामा बिक्री भएर राजनीति गर्न चाहँदैनौँ। यदि पैसामा बिक्री हुनु हो भने  हामी जीटीएकै चौकिमा बस्ने थियौँ’ गुरुङले अझ भने। उनले यसपल्टको आन्दोलनबाट जनताले चुडान्त निर्णय हुनपर्छ भन्ने ठानेको दाबी गर्दै बङ्गालसँग मिलेर राजनीति नगर्ने पनि स्पष्ट पारेका छन्।
गुरुङले कुराकानीको क्रममा गोजमुमोका विवादित नेताद्वय बिनय तामङ अनि अनित थापालाई पार्टीबाट निस्काशित गरिसकेर पनि उनीहरूले आफैलाई गोजमुमो भन्नु लज्जास्पद कुरा रहेको बताएका छन्। ‘दुईजनालाई नै गोजमुमो पार्टीबाट निस्काशित गरिसकेका छौँ। यद्यपी उनीहरूले आफुहरूलाई गोजमुमोको भन्दैछ। यो लज्जास्पद कुरा हो। अहिले उनीहरूले पैसा रूपियाँमा मात्रै राजनीति गर्दैछ’ गुरुङले आरोप लगाउँदै भने।
उनले कुराकानीको क्रममा जारी समस्यालाई समाधानको निम्ति सरकारले नै पहल गर्नुपर्ने जिम्मेवारी रहेको बताउँदै सरकारले समस्या समाधानको बाटो खोले मात्र जारी बन्दलाई आफुहरूले खोल्ने स्पसःट पारेका छन्। ‘सरकारले  समस्याको समाधानको निम्ति बाटो खोलिनुपर्छ। तबमात्र बन्द खोलिनेछ। पुलिस प्रशासन लगाएर जब्बरजस्ती बन्द खोल्ने प्रयास गर्दा केहि भए त्यसको जिम्मेवार प्रशासन नै हुनेछ। यतिमात्र नभएर दुई-चार जना मौकावादी नेताहरूले जब्बरजस्ती खोल्ने प्रयास गर्दा केहि भए उनीहरू नै जिम्मेवार हुनेछ’ गुरुङले भने। 
‘हामीले केन्द्र सरकारलाई प्रेसर दिइरहेका छौँ। हाम्रो टोलिले बात गरिरहेको छ’ उनले थपे। यता नगरपालिका कार्यालय खोलिएको सन्दर्भमा प्रश्न गर्दा उनले आपतकालिन सेवाको निम्ति मात्र नगरपालिका कार्यालय खोलिएको अनि यसबारे नगर अध्यक्षले आफुलाई रिपोर्ट दिएको पनि गुरुङले जानकारी गराए।  
अहिलेसम्म प्रशासन अनि मौकावादी नेताहरूले दोकानपाट खोल्ने प्रयास गर्दा समेत जनताले गोर्खाल्याण्ड आन्दोलनलाई साथ दिँदै दोकानपाट बन्द नै राखेको बताउँदै ‘बन्दलाई साथ दिएर जनतालेनै सरकारलाई चुनौति दिएको छ’ भने। 
यसक्रममा उनले कालेबुङमा अङ्ग्रेजी समाचार पत्रकी पत्रकार निशा छेत्री माथि पुलिस उप अधिक्षकले गरेको लठी प्रहारको घट्नालाई जोडदार विरोध जनाएका छन्। ‘पत्रकारमाथि पुलिसले अत्याचार गर्नु दुर्भाग्यजनक हो। यस्तो स्थितिमा मानव अधिकार सङ्गठनहरू समेत बोल्न पर्छ। यस्तो घट्नाको घोर बिरोध गर्दछौँ’ बिमल गुरुङले भने। 

GJM team in Delhi meets Rajnath

KalimNews, New Delhi, 19 September 2017: A five member delegation of Gorkha Janmukti morcha as well as S S Ahluwalia, MP of Darjeeling called on home minister Rajnath Singh today and submitted a memorandum. 
A release issued by the GJM stated that the team consisted of Roshan Giri, Swaraj Thapa, DK Pradhan, Tilak Chand Roka and PT Ola. 
The release stated that it had a thirty minute long meeting with the home minister in which the GJM delegation raised the issue of Gorkhaland and the need for a tripartite dialogue to resolve the long pending demands of the Gorkhas. 
It  also apprised the home minister of police atrocities used by the West Bengal government in the name of law and order and trying to suppress the democratic agitation for the movement of Gorkhaland, the release added.
The members also sought immediate central intervention to end the 96 days indefinite strike. 
The release further states that GJM is hopeful of an early resolution to the stalemate.

19 Sep 2017

Hill tea garden K'pong Municipality reopened....Works resumed in 5 tea gardens, all municipality and other state government offices

SNS, 18 September Kuresong/ Kalimpong: The Castleton Tea Estate near Kurseong town reopened today after closing for over three months following the indefinite shutdown call for the Gorkhaland agitation in the hills in early June. The Kalimpong Municipality too, opened today after three months.
With today's development in Kurseong amid very tight security, a total of five tea estates under the Kurseong sub-division, including Marionbarie and Simulbarie Tea Estates, in the foothills, have resumed work so far. Rohini and Longview Tea Estates reopened a few weeks ago.
At the Castleton tea estate, a section of workers and staff mainly undertook cleaning work in the factory, offices and the gardens today.
However, a section of the tea workers there are against the resumption of the work, as they feel that the shut-down called as part of the statehood stir should not be lifted untill some "positive" results come up.
Sources, however, said that the dominant group in the garden belongs to the Anit Thapa faction of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM). It may be mentioned that Mr Thapa, the rebel GJMM leader, along with another rebel leader, Binay Tamang, have been requesting people to bring back normality in the Hills by opening shops, schools and plying vehicles.
"We presently have 3,300 types of ready made tea of different qualities worth Rs 29 lakh, which had been kept ready for sale before the bandh started. However, the shutdown and the closure of the garden led to the tea gathering fungus," management sources said.
A worker, meanwhile, claimed that the Castleton Tea Estate management provided them with full medical facilities during the closure too.
In Kalimpong the gates of the municipality office opened after more than three months today, even as the town has been filled with trash dumped in almost every nook and cranny.
Municipality sources said garbage collection had become a problem after they failed to get fuel for their vehicles that would lift the waste from the roadsides.
It may be mentioned that the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) formed the board in the Kalimpong Municipality after it won the civic elections recently. However, after the oath-taking ceremony, the elected body was able to sit for one board meeting only before the indefinite shutdown began in the Hills.
"The office opened today after along time and employees have turned up. Normal work will start soon," Municipality executive officer Diptendu Shekhar Das who joined work on 16 August, said.
The municipality has 35 employees, out of whom 79 were present today. The elected body did not report, it is learnt.
Suva Pradhan, the Municipality Chairman, later said he was not informed by the municipality executive officer regarding the opening of the office today. "Employees from the sanitation and conservation departments gave me a call saying that dengue has spread in the town and they have to fog areas and sprinkle bleaching powder. I did not officially allow them to open the office,' Mr Pradhan said.
According to him, officials who opened the offices today cannot perform any work as the "signing authority is with the elected body and not government officials.'
"The body will not cooperate with the officials until the strike is officially withdrawn," he added.

TOP Leader says Hills may wait til 16 October

SNS, SILIGURI,16 SEPTEMBER: A senior leader of a prominent Hill based political party, an arch rival of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), today gave three reasons for the indefinite shut down to go on, despite peoples sufferings and efforts to have it lifted.
According to the leader, it is yet to be seen if GJMM chief Bimal Gurung plans to give people some respite from the shutdown during Durga Puja (Dashain Festival in the Hills),but, according to him, a large section of the people want to wait until the third bipartite meeting which is scheduled to be convened by chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna on 16 October. The decision to hold such talks was taken during the second round of meeting between the state government and some Hill leaders at Uttarkanya in Siliguri on 12 September.
The leader said pro-Gorkhaland people want to wait and watch and continue with the shut down until 16 October, Another argument that he put forth for the strike to continue was that hardcore Gorkhaland activists are still supporting the GJMM chief's decision to continue with the shutdown. And thirdly,"people, who want to open their business establishments, are still fearing fresh attacks on them due to lack of adequate security"
How long will the police be able to protect them. Some people, who opened the shops, finally downed shutters after a few hours, he said.
The leader further said that the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) president, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who was speaking on the statehood demand, requested Miss Banerjee during the meeting at Uttarkanya to repeal the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)Act and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Act, as people have 'rejected' the latter by burning copies of the GTA Act.
The JAP president had, himself, said earlier: "... All stakeholders, that is what we Feel, should be present ....participate in the discussions and whatever conclusion comes out of this, everyone will bear equal responsibility. For that reason onlywe have requested all parties to come."

Don’t believe or forward WhatsApp messages without verification: Rajnath Singh

Home minister Rajnath Singh.PTI, New Delhi, 18 September 2017: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said anti-national elements have been trying to foment tension in the society by posting unverified information on social media and asked people not to forward such messages without verification.

Singh said information and news, that was completely wrong or having no basis, was being regularly circulated on social media such as WhatsApp and many people consider it to be true.

“I want to tell SSB jawans not to believe such messages and forward to anyone without verification as anti-national elements have been trying to foment trouble in the society. We all have to be careful before believing or forwarding them,” he said after launching the intelligence wing of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) here.

Lauding the role of the SSB, which guards the 1,751 km- long Indo-Nepal and the 699 km-long Indo-Bhutan borders, Singh said it is very tough to guard such open borders, which allow visa-free movement of people, than fenced borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“In an open border, the security-men do not know who is anti-national, which way a criminal is coming or who is carrying fake currency or fake drugs,” he said.

Referring to his earlier announcement that the family of each martyred paramilitary solider will get at least Rs one crore as compensation, the home minister said he was contemplating to “do something” for those serving personnel who face an emergency situation but are unable to cope up with it and need help.

“I am also thinking to do something and I will certainly do it,” he said amidst applause from about 1,000 guests, mostly serving and retired personnel from different paramilitary forces.

Earlier, the home minister launched the the SSB’s first- ever intelligence wing, which will gather information along the borders with Bhutan and Nepal, which are often used by criminals and Kashmiri militants returning from Pakistan.

The intelligence wing will have 650 field and staff agents to gather actionable information.

Due to the visa-free regime, India has with Nepal and Bhutan, there is a trans-border movement of criminals and anti-national elements which pose a major challenge, a home ministry official said.

As many as 230 former Kashmiri militants, based in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, have returned home through the Indo-Nepal border since 2010.
The Indo-Bhutan border is known to be frequented by the Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has even attacked Bhutanese nationals in the past.

The SSB has also been declared as the lead intelligence agency for both the borders. Thus, the central government felt that a well-knit intelligence network of the highest capability that can function and deliver would be the prime requirement for comprehensive border management.

This was essential as the SSB’s operations are based on intelligence to prevent criminals and smugglers from taking advantage of the friendly borders with Nepal and Bhutan, the official said.

Demand for Gorkhaland: Stress and anxiety cases increase as Darjeeling bandh races towards 100 days

A paramilitary officer stands guard during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for separate Gorkhaland in Kalimpong earlier this month.Pramod Giri, HT, Siliguri, 18 September 2017: Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison.

When political parties enforce a one-day bandh, people usually take it as a holiday and play n the streets. But stretch it to 100, and the results can be depression and stress. Psychiatrists, counsellors and teachers have started reporting cases of stress and anxiety in the north Bengal hills as the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills race towards the century mark.

Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison. Financial insecurity, political instability and disruption of Internet services have compounded the sufferings of the people.

Dr Nirmal Kumar Bera the head of psychiatrist department, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital said the overall situation in Darjeeling hills have led to increased levels of anxiety and trauma among the masses. “I have started getting regular calls from people in the hills. They complain of stress. They are also feeling isolated. If this is not checked, would lead to grave state of depression,” Bera told HT.

“With everything coming to standstill, and nothing to do outside home, I am feeling traumatic. I always had low blood pressure, but for last couple of weeks I have developed high blood pressure and started taking medicine,” said Sudha Chettri, a teacher in a government-run high school and a mother of two.

“That the agitation is going nowhere despite whole hearted support of people has hurt me a lot. My three children are sitting idle. The essential commodities needed to run the household are almost non-existent. My husband is not getting salary for three months,” said Rita Gurung, a mother of three.

Phurba Tamang, a resident of Kalimpong who is a state government employee does not know what would happen as Dussera the biggest festival of the Gorkhas / Nepalis is round the corner. “Whatever small savings we had are already spent to meet the daily expenses. I have a son who studies in class 12. He has become irritable. The family members are trying their best to cope up with the hardships.”

A duty nurse at Bijanbari block primary health centre said on conditions of anonymity that even 10-11-year-olds have started suffering from high blood pressure, heart burn and head ache.  

Dr Bera’s concern is corroborated by two of his colleagues in Siliguri and Gangtok. 

“People in the hills are feeling low. A situation of hopelessness, loss and doom have left many psychologically drained,” said Dr Shantanu De, a practising psychiatrist for last 18 years. 

 Dr C L Pradhan, a psychiatrist based in Gangtok said, “A severely disrupted social life and sense of isolation would lead to anxiety disorders. A shutdown for more than three months is a challenge for anybody. Women are more likely to suffer from stress due to uncertainties of life.” 

Pradhan also cautioned that there are strong chances of relapse among psychiatrist patients who could not visit the doctors due to the ongoing bandh.

Organisers brave bandh, Bengali community prepare for Durga Puja celebrations in Hills

Organisers brave bandh, prepare 
for Durga Puja celebrations in HillsMP |  19 Sep 2017, Darjeeling: The ongoing bandh will not be a deterrent to the Durga Pujas in the Hills steeped in tradition. The organisers of the pujas in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong will be hosting the pujas like every other year. 

There was a lot of uncertainty revolving around the festival in Kurseong. On July 19 this year, the iconic Rajrajeshwari Hall was set on fire by unknown miscreants. The Hall was the venue of the Durga Puja in Kurseong which will hit the 101-year mark this year.

"As the Hall has been razed to the ground, the puja will take place in a pandal in the place where the Hall stood. The puja will be held on a very small scale this year owing to the ongoing indefinite strike. We have manpower constraints as well as monetary issues. However, we have decided to go ahead with the more than 100-year-old puja," stated Arun Mohan Ghosh, secretary of the Bengali Association of Kurseong. 

The Rajrajeshwari Hall under the Bengali Association of Kurseong had a rich history. Rai Bahadur Sashi Bhusan Dey had started a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kurseong, in memory of his late son who had died from this disease. While he was at Kurseong, the local Bengalis approached him for his patronage in constructing a Hall for the Bengali Association to meet.

Being a philanthropist, he built the Rajrajeshwari Hall in the name of his wife just below the TB sanatorium. Thus, the Rajrajeshwari Hall was built in 1930. The Durga Puja of the Bengali Association used to be organised at this place since 1930. 2016 marked the centenary of the puja.

The Durga Puja organised by the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall in Darjeeling hits the 103-year mark this year. The puja is steeped in tradition. 

NNBHH, located at Chandmari, was built in 1890. With a two-storeyed structure, it has a spacious hall where public meetings of the Hindu community were held. The temple, located at the premises of the hall, was constructed in 1891. It was the Maharaja of Cooch Behar who donated the money to construct the hall. 

It was later named Nripendra Narayan Hall in his memory. Seven years later, people began celebrating Durga Puja in the temple. During the course of time, personalities such as Swami Vivekananada, Sister Nivedita, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Acharya J C Bose visited the hall. It is said even legendary singer K L Saigal had once offered pushpanjali during Durga Puja. 

"We will continue with the puja but it will be toned down this year owing to the ongoing strife and the bandh. We have already booked the idol at Kumortuli, Siliguri," stated Saibal Chakroborty, an organiser. 

The puja at Kalimpong organised by Milani Club hits the 89th-year mark this year. They too will organise the puja at Kalimpong Thakurbari Temple this year on a humble scale.

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