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26 Jul 2017

FOCIN concerned over Siligurl trade slump

SNS, SILIGUR1, 25 JULY 2017 : The Federation Siliguri subdivision will take a slump further if the indefinite shutdown in the Hills continues.
Siliguri and nearby markets, including that of Bagdogra and Naxalbari, rely basically on the Hills, comprising Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Gangtok in Sikkim mid part of the Don are for good business. Given the strike called in support for a separate state of Gorkhaland. People of those areas are not coming down to Siliguri for their daily needs.
Though the police have been asked to escort vehicles on National highway 10, people from Sikkim are trying to avoid attacks following a series of untoward incidents that occurred in Siliguri and adjoining areas.
Sources also said that the Nepali speaking people from them Dooars areas like Mal-bazaar sub-division in Jaipaiguri district and in Alipurduar district are also not going to Siliguri due to many reasons.
Asked to comment, FOCIN secretary Biswajit Das said the traders will face a ''a grave situation" if the strike continues. According to him, the turnover of all the markets in Siliguri is over Rs 12 crore per day. 'Ad present 75 per cent of that turnover has gone down,' he said.
On the other sectors like transportation, around 5,000 people, including labourers, have been affected badly, sources have said.


Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating

Robert J. Burrowes, KalimNews, 26 June 2017, Kalimpong: Human beings are now waging war against life itself as we continue to destroy not just individual lives, local populations and entire species in vast numbers but also destroy the ecological systems that make life on Earth possible.

By doing this we are now accelerating the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and virtually eliminating any prospect of human survival.

In a recently published scientific study ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’ http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/05/1704949114 the authors Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo document the accelerating nature of this problem.

‘Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions…. That conclusion is based on analyses of the numbers and degrees of range contraction … using a sample of 27,600 vertebrate species, and on a more detailed analysis documenting the population extinctions between 1900 and 2015 in 177 mammal species.’ Their research found that the rate of population loss in terrestrial vertebrates is ‘extremely high’ – even in ‘species of low concern’.

In their sample, comprising nearly half of known vertebrate species, 32% (8,851 out of 27,600) are decreasing; that is, they have decreased in population size and range. In the 177 mammals for which they had detailed data, all had lost 30% or more of their geographic ranges and more than 40% of the species had experienced severe population declines. Their data revealed that ‘beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization. We describe this as a “biological annihilation” to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.’

Illustrating the damage done by dramatically reducing the historic geographic range of a species, consider the lion. Panthera leo ‘was historically distributed over most of Africa, southern Europe, and the Middle East, all the way to northwestern India. It is now confined to scattered populations in sub-Saharan Africa and a remnant population in the Gir forest of India. The vast majority of lion populations are gone.’

Why is this happening? Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo tell us: ‘In the last few decades, habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and more recently climate disruption, as well as the interactions among these factors, have led to the catastrophic declines in both the numbers and sizes of populations of both common and rare vertebrate species.’

Further, however, the authors warn ‘But the true extent of this mass extinction has been underestimated, because of the emphasis on species extinction.’ This underestimate can be traced to overlooking the accelerating extinction of local populations of a species.

‘Population extinctions today are orders of magnitude more frequent than species extinctions. Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.’ Moreover, and importantly from a narrow human perspective, the massive loss of local populations is already damaging the services ecosystems provide to civilization (which, of course, are given no value by government and corporate economists).

As Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo remind us: ‘When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself.’ When public mention is made of the extinction crisis, it usually focuses on a few (probably iconic) animal species known to have gone extinct, while projecting many more in future. However, a glance at their maps presents a much more realistic picture: as much as 50% of the number of animal individuals that once shared Earth with us are already gone, as are billions of populations.

Furthermore, they claim that their analysis is conservative given the increasing trajectories of those factors that drive extinction together with their synergistic impacts. ‘Future losses easily may amount to a further rapid defaunation of the globe and comparable losses in the diversity of plants, including the local (and eventually global) defaunation-driven coextinction of plants.’

They conclude with the chilling observation: ‘Thus, we emphasize that the sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short.’

Of course, it is too late for those species of plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles that humans have already driven to extinction or will yet drive to extinction in the future. 200 species yesterday. 200 species today. 200 species tomorrow. 200 species the day after…. And, as Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo emphasize, the ongoing daily extinctions of a myriad local populations.

If you think that the above information is bad enough in assessing the prospects for human survival, you will not be encouraged by awareness or deeper consideration of even some of the many variables adversely impacting our prospects that were beyond the scope of the above study.

While Ceballos, Ehrlich and Dirzo, in addition to the problems they noted which are cited above,also identified the problems of human overpopulation and continued population growth, as well as overconsumption (based on ‘the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet’) and even the risks posed by nuclear war, there were many variables thatwerebeyond the scope of their research.

For example, in a recent discussion of that branch of ecological science known as ‘Planetary Boundary Science’, Dr Glen Barry identified ‘at least ten global ecological catastrophes which threaten to destroy the global ecological system and portend an end to human beings, and perhaps all life. Ranging from nitrogen deposition to ocean acidification, and including such basics as soil, water, and air; virtually every ecological system upon which life depends is failing’. See ‘The End of Being: Abrupt Climate Change One of Many Ecological Crises Threatening to Collapse the Biosphere’. http://ecointernet.org/2017/06/18/the-end-of-being-abrupt-climate-change-one-of-many-ecological-crises-threatening-to-collapse-the-biosphere/

Moreover, apart from the ongoing human death tolls caused by the endless warsand other military violence being conducted across the planet– see, for example, ‘Yemen cholera worst on record & numbers still rising’ https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2017-07-20/yemen-cholera-worst-record-numbers-still-rising – there iscatastrophicenvironmental damage causedtoo. For some insight, seeThe Toxic Remnants of War Project. http://www.toxicremnantsofwar.info/

In addition, the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that are now occurring – see ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/news/n0905-7000-underground-gas-bubbles-poised-to-explode-in-arctic/?nf=News and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’ http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39957-release-of-arctic-methane-may-be-apocalyptic-study-warns– and the release, each and every day, of 300 tons of radioactive waste from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean – see ‘Fukushima Radiation Has Contaminated The Entire Pacific Ocean - And It’s Going To Get Worse’http://www.trueactivist.com/fukushima-radiation-has-contaminated-the-entire-pacific-ocean-and-its-going-to-get-worse/– are having disastrous consequences that will negatively impact life on Earth indefinitely. And they cannot be reversed in any timeframe that is meaningful for human prospects.

Apart from the above, there is a host of other critical issues – such as destruction of the Earth’srainforests, destruction of waterways and the ocean habitatand the devastating impact of animal agriculture for meat consumption – that international governmental organizations such as the UN, national governments and multinational corporations will continue to refuse to decisively act upon because they are controlled by the insane global elite. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’ http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/06-02-2014/126767-global_elite-0/ with more fully elaborated explanations in‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’. http://anitamckone.wordpress.com/articles-2/fearless-and-fearful-psychology/

So time may be short, the number of issues utterly daunting and the prospects for life grim. But if, like me, you are inclined to fight to the last breath, I invite you to consider making a deliberate choice to take powerful personal action in the fight for our survival.

If you do nothing else, consider participating in the fifteen-year strategy of ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. http://tinyurl.com/flametreeYou can do this as an individual, with family and friends or as a neighbourhood.

If you are involved in (or considering becoming involved in) a local campaign to address a climate issue, end some manifestation of war (or even all war), or to halt any other threat to our environment, I encourage you to consider doing this on a strategic basis. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. https://nonviolentstrategy.wordpress.com/

And if you would like to join the worldwide movement to end violence in all of its forms, environmental and otherwise, you are also welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’. http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com

We might be annihilating life on Earth but this is not something about which we have no choice.

In fact, each and every one of us has a choice: we can choose to do nothing, we can wait for (or even lobby) others to act, or we can take powerful action ourselves. But unless you search your heart and make a conscious and deliberate choice to commit yourself to act powerfully, your unconscious choice will effectively be the first one (including that you might take some token measures and delude yourself that these make a difference). And the annihilation of life on Earth will continue, with your complicity.

Extinction beckons. Will you choose powerfully?

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com

24 Nepalese women rescued while being trafficked to India

Representative image
Representative image(HT File Photo)
PTI, 25 July 2017, Kathmandu: Twenty-four Nepalese women have been rescued from western Nepal while being trafficked to India in the past six months.
The women were rescued by Nepal Police in coordination with various organisation from various transit points in Bardiya district along the open Nepal-India border.

Traffickers were taking women to India on the pretext of heading to third country destination either for medical treatment or shopping purposes, Bardiya Chief District Officer Bishnu Bahadur Thapa said.

Four transit points in Bardiya have been found sensitive from the security perspective for women, he said.

The traffickers are using the areas along the open border with India where there is no presence of security personnel as a trafficking route, he said.

“They do not use the areas where security personnel are deployed,” Thapa added.

Jamuni Karnalipur, Gulariya, Ganeshpur and Dhanaura are the most sensitive transit points as listed by organisations working against the women trafficking.

No proposal to form panel to look into Gorkhaland demand: Govt

The Darjeeling hills have been witnessing an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, since June 12.
The Darjeeling hills have been witnessing an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, since June 12.(AFP Photo)
PTI, New Delhi, 25 July 2017: There was no proposal to constitute a committee to look into the separate state demand of the Gorkhas and others agitating in Darjeeling, West Bengal, the government said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“There is no proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of the Gorkhas, Adivasis and others,” Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in a written reply to a question in the Lower House of Parliament.

The Darjeeling hills have been witnessing an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, since June 12.

“Violence and damage to public property have been reported during the agitations,” said Ahir.

He added that according to the Constitution, the states were primarily responsible for the maintenance of law-and- order.

The Centre, on a request from a state government, provided assistance by sending Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel, said the minister.

Similarly, CAPF battalions were provided to the West Bengal government as well for the maintenance of law-and-order in the Darjeeling hills, he added.

Why the Darjeeling model failed

Mahendra P Lama, HT, 26 Jul 2017, Delhi :Kolkata has never given real powers to the hill councils and neglects the needs of the people.
It took three decades, reportedly more than 1,200 deaths, huge destruction, unprecedented public suffering, uprooting of traditional livelihoods, demolition of well-founded institutions, severe ecological dislocations and loss of two generations to declare that the much-trumpeted Darjeeling model has failed.
The Gorkhaland movement today is much fiercer and national where people have withstood 41 days of bandh, without Internet and cable connections and no food and basic necessities in sight. The Trinamool Congressled Bengal administration’s intention to deprive and alienate the hills so much that the people will be emasculated and go voiceless has again fallen flat.
Today leaders remain sidelined and clueless as people have taken over the driver’s seat. Both the State and central governments have maintained a competitive indifference and abandoned the region despite it being in the geographical core of national security interest.
What went wrong in this conflict resolution initiative? Both the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) were institutions created to end the violent movement. They were a result of the tripartite agreements between the central and state governments with the Gorkha National Leadership Front and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha respectively. These bodies led to semi-autonomous institutions of governance mandated by a notification of the Bengal government. This was considered both by the Left front and Trinamool Congress as the panacea for addressing protracted injustices in Darjeeling and Dooars and their 110-year-old demand for a separate state. These institutions injected higher expectations: It started with elected members and received State funds. The story, however, ended there.
The state government literally duped the two inexperienced hill leaderships by giving them a range of departments without any powers. Minor social activities like cattle tresspass and management of cremation grounds and non-existent fields like fisheries, lotteries, markets and fairs, and, birth and death registration were listed as departments. Major transforming projects were cleverly listed in the annexure as wish lists.
Except the first plan in 1989, both the DGHC and GTA never prepared even the blueprint of development projects. Except the few individuals deputed from the state government, it had no technocrats and experts who could think big and link it substantively with the national agenda. More critically, it got entangled in the worst quagmire of Bengal’s bureaucracy. The famous Sadar hospital was under the DGHC but the chief medical officer came from the government; the tourism department remained with the DGHC and the revenue fetching tourism corporation with Kolkata. For every small project, the investment proposal and plan allocation officials had to go to Kolkata. Both the DGHC and GTA euphemistically became ‘helicopters with tractor engines’.
In order to have absolute political control, leaders systematically demolished institutions and took shelter in a wrongly inserted constitutional provision in 1992 to discard the crucial three tier-panchayati raj.
In critical areas, like the Gorkhas’ Indian identity, Darjeeling’s membership in the North EasAern Council, bringing foreign direct investment and international development agencies, constitutional sanction to the GTA, devolution of the state’s planned resources, minimum wages to tea workers, setting up of panchayat and newer institutions, and the scheduled tribe status, the Bengal government just did not move. It consciously injected a perceptible demographic shift in the plains and ghettoised the three hill sub-divisions. The idea was to limit the statehood movement to a segregated geography.
The historical hill towns witnessed mushrooming of concrete structures, a collapse of educational and heath amenities and a sharp increase in political crimes. ‘No system’ became the system. In the absence of accountability, audit and evaluation in both the DGHC and GTA, the government concentrated more on assuaging the leaders rather than addressing the plight of people. Leaders became a source of terror and public apathy. Hunger deaths in tea gardens coexisted with the illgotten opulence of these leaders. The Trinamool government unabashedly went a step further and created and funded several ‘castebased development boards’ and registered them under NGOs. This ‘divide and rule’ policy was a ploy to protract internal colonialism. Today it has boomeranged on its architect.
Bengal has lost the rare opportunity of proving the Darjeeling model as the celebrated instrument of conflict resolution. Its leaders have been warned not to compromise this time. The statehood status to Darjeeling and Dooars is inevitable today.

Mahendra P Lama is professor, Centre for South Asian Studies, School of International Studies and former member, National Security Advisory Board The views expressed are personal

Incessant rain throws life out of gear in Hills

Incessant rain throws life out of gear in HillsMP |  25 July 2017 |  Darjeeling,To add to the woes, incessant rainfall threw life out of gear in the Hills on Tuesday. 
Continuous rain coupled with cyclonic winds disrupted electricity, telephone and cellular services, cutting off communication since Monday night. 
Due to the disruption of electricity and cellular services there was widespread panic. With the clampdown on internet services by the district administration owing to the political strife, there were strong rumors that the government had clamped down on cellular services. 
There were rumors that owing to the agitators forcefully shutting down the hydel projects in the Hills, the government had cut down the electric supply to the Hills.
"Owing to the cyclonic winds and the rain, electricity has been disrupted. This has affected cellular services as well. 
However, agitators have been destroying fiber optic cables which have added to the woes. 
Work is on to restore both electricity and cellular connectivity," stated Joyoshi Das Gupta, District Magistrate, Darjeeling.
By evening, electricity was restored in certain areas of the town. Though connectivity issues continued to bug certain cellular services. 
The ongoing political strife including the indefinite bandh, that hit the 41-day mark, cast a shadow on restoration work. 
WBSEDCL sources stated that they were facing difficulty in restoring electricity as most of the skilled workers have left for the plains owing to the bandh.

‘Darjeeling may turn into BJP’s exit route from Bengal’

TNN | Jul 26, 2017, KOLKATA: KOLKATA: Raging sentiments in the Hills, that sparked from the Bengal government's proposal to introduce Bengali in Hills schools, have gained momentum in the last 40 days leading to a shift in the pro-Gorkhaland stir from West Bengal to Delhi. Feeling let down by the BJP-led Centre's silence, the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee will meet in Delhi on August 1 before they hit the streets in the capital.
"BJP made an entry in Bengal through the Hills when it was in the opposition. Neither Jaswant Singh nor S S Ahluwaliah could have won without support of the Hills people. If the ruling BJP continues to ditch us, Darjeeling might turn into its exit route from Bengal as well," said Jan Andolan Party leader and former Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri. "BJP MP Ahluwaliah had advocated Gorkhaland during his election campaign. The party has consistently campaigned for smaller states. Now that it has a majority in Parliament and is eyeing Bengal, it is hesitant to take up our legitimate constitutional demand under Article 3 of the Constitution. Its political dream has come in the way of initiating a dialogue with the Hills representatives. Hills people feel cheated. They will not take this lying down," Chhetri said.
Chhetri may sound unreasonable when BJP has public representatives in Malda's Baishnabnagar in north Bengal and Asansol and Kharagpur in south Bengal other than Birbhum, Howrah and Basirhat, where it is a force to reckon with. It goes without saying that the party without the GJM's backing has little prospects in as many as six assembly segments in the Hills — Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Madarihat in Alipurduar, Phansidewa, Matigara-Naxalbari — and Siliguri in the foothills.
Hills leaders are not in a mood to accept the worries expressed at various quarters over the viability of Gorkhaland. "The Constitution doesn't mention the minimum geographical area a new state should have. The President may ask the Parliament to draft a Bill on the Centre's advice like it did in the case of Telangana. How many MPs does neighbouring Sikkim have? How are they managing things? On the contrary, Darjeeling has a store of wealth in the form of tea gardens and cinchona plantations since the the days of the Raj, apart from tourism. How much the money is spent on the Hills? When I was an MLA in 2015, the total budget for Bengal was Rs 39,000 crore, of which a meagre Rs 178 crore was allocated for the Hills in Plan expenditure and Rs 500 crore in the non-Plan," Chhetri said.
The JAP leader then turned towards Bengal's income from the Hills to buttress his point that Gorkhaland was economically viable. "Going by the recent submission of the state government in Calcutta high court, the state suffered a loss of Rs 150 crore in the first 10 days of movement. The state estimated the damage of government property at Rs 20 crore. The remaining Rs 130 crore was on the account of loss in tea trade and tourism. A little number-crunching takes the projected loss to Rs 390 crore a month, and Rs 4,680 crore a year," Chhetri added.
Chhetri acknowledges the problems that India is facing at Doko La but says it should not stop the Narendra Modi government from initiating a dialogue on the Hills. "Gorkhas have a long history of fighting for the nation. They have never conspired against the country or joined hands with extremist forces. So what prevents them from taking the dialogue route with the Hills people when the initiative has to come from the Centre, and not from the state government?" Chhetri said.

Ban on internet in hills to continue - No proposal to form panel to look into Gorkhaland demand, Govt tells LS

EOI, DARJEELING, 25 Jul 2017: The ban on internet services in the Darjeeling Hills, facing indefinite shutdown for the last 41 days for carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland out of West Bengal, was extended today till August 4.
The 41-day-long shutdown till now has emerged to be the second longest so far in the picturesque hill station, which had witnessed a 40-day bandh in 1988 by Gorkha National Liberation Front and a 44-day shutdown in 2013 by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha on the statehood issue. The ban on internet services had been first imposed on June 18 and the district administration extended it today. Pro-Gorkhaland activists took out rallies in Darjeeling today during the day but no incident of violence or arson was reported by the police.
With GJM, which is spearheading the agitation, holding rallies today at various places, the police and security forces patrolled the streets of the hills and kept a tight vigil at all entry and exit routes. Except medical shops, business establishments, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges remained closed. With food supply severely hit due to the indefinite shutdown, the GJM and various NGOs of the hills distributed food items among people. Meanwhile, the Union government today said in Lok Sabha that there was no proposal to constitute a committee to look into the separate state demand of the Gorkhas and others agitating in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
"There is no proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of the Gorkhas, Adivasis and others," Union minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in a written reply to a question in the Lower House of Parliament.  The Darjeeling hills have been witnessing an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, since June 12. "Violence and damage to public property have been reported during the agitations," said Ahir.
He added that according to the Constitution, the states were primarily responsible for the maintenance of law-and- order. The Centre, on a request from the state government, provided assistance by sending Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel, said the minister. Similarly, CAPF battalions were provided to the West Bengal government as well for the maintenance of law-and-order in the Darjeeling hills, he added.

Prostitution racket busted near Siliguri, two arrested

Prashant Acharya, EOI, SILIGURI, 25 Jul 2017: Two persons were arrested on Monday night by NJP police for allegedly running prostitution in the residential area under Fulbari gram panchayat near Siliguri.
Sushmita Dey and Ujjwal Roy both residents of Milanpally were arrested after a raid conducted at a house in Haripur of Fulbari area.
Police caught them red handed after the complaint made by Tapan Singha, Pradhan of Fulbari GP about their immoral activities since couple of weeks.
According to local people the house was a centre for prostitution and customers used to come in large numbers everyday. On Monday when police raided several other customers managed to flee but two were nabbed.
Police also said that the house owner is absconding and police have started investigations to see involvements of any other people.

Ghosh asks Mamata to provide proof- 'Foreign hands in hill agitation'

Prashant Acharya, EOI, SILIGURI, 25 Jul 2017: Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh have asked Mamata Banerjee to furnish the proof of  her allegation about foreign hands in Morcha’s agitation.
He said, “Allegation is coming everyday about foreign hands in agitations launched by Morcha in hills by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Can she provide proof about any link or foreign hands to support Morcha’s agitation?”
Ghosh who was addressing party programme at Kharibari under Siliguri Mahakuma Parisad held Mamata Banerjee for leaving the hills to burn.
He said, “Chief Minister who used to call herself daughter of lioness and tigress had to flee away like a cat after burning the hills. If she thinks she is so daring I challenge her to visit hills now and allege people for having foreign hands and link with terrorists.”
When asked about the ongoing agitation of hills and its solution, Ghosh said, “The fight is to gain political support and increase the number of supporters. The state government is totally responsibile for the situation in hills. They should immediately call the tripartite meeting to solve the issue and return peace among people.”

CM talks to Rajnath on hills & inundation

TT, New Delhi, July 25: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today met Union home minister Rajnath Singh here to discuss the Darjeeling unrest and the flood-like situation in the state following an advice from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I met Modiji in the morning in the Central Hall of the Parliament. I told him if he had time, then, we could meet and discuss the situation. He told me, 'Didi, I am going to Gujarat', and asked me to talk to Rajnathji," Mamata said after meeting Singh for over an hour at his 17 Akbar Road residence.
"There have been several deaths in Gujarat today because of flood and we all are very sad. There is a flood-like situation in our state, too. We will have to work together as rain will continue even in August," she added.
The chief minister said she wanted to meet Singh anyway, as he was nursing a leg fracture.
Mamata was at Parliament to attend the swearing-in of Ram Nath Kovind as the 14th President of India.
After the meeting with Singh, Mamata said talks were "good".
"I told him that in politics, we have different ideologies. But when we work for the government, we work together when there are problems. I passed on to him whatever information I had," she said.
Asked whether she had informed the Union home minister about her allegations of the involvement of external forces in Darjeeling's violence, Mamata said: "See, I provided all the information I was supposed to give.... Ispey pura details mein charcha hua (We discussed this in detail)."
Responding to questions on the support of some BJP leaders to Gorkhaland, Mamata said: "They are giving locally and not nationally. I think nationally no, but of course, locally they are giving."
Asked whether Singh had given any assurance on the Darjeeling agitation and the flood, Mamata said he had always been "a very nice man". "Rajnathji is always very positive. In these matters I think the government is positive," she said.
On central help to Bengal for the flood, the chief minister said priority should be given to states that needed immediate help, like Gujarat. Mamata said the Centre had offered to send a team for surveying the flood in Bengal, but she asked Singh not to dispatch anyone now.
Over the rest of her stay - she plans to return on Thursday - Mamata is likely to meet Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, besides those from the JDU, RJD and the DMK.
The Trinamul chief, said sources, is likely to hold discussions on support for the Opposition candidate Gopal Krishna Gandhi in the vice-presidential polls.
However, asked if she planned to meet other political leaders during her stay, Mamata said: "I came to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the President."
"There is a flood-like situation in my state, so I thought I should tell the Centre about the situation in my state," she added.
Support for Meira
Mamata said Trinamul would take a call on supporting Meira Kumar if she was fielded as a candidate in Rajya Sabha polls from Bengal once the Congress made its stand clear.

Bimal relief till August 17

TT, Calcutta, July 25: A Calcutta court today rejected the CBI's plea to issue arrest warrants against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and 21 other accused in the Madan Tamang murder case for failing to appear yesterday.
"According to the high court order, the accused would have to reach the city a day before framing of charges and have to stay here till the trial. So, the court cannot issue warrants of arrest against them for not appearing yesterday," Kundan Kumar Kumai, the chief judge of the city sessions court, said in his order.
The judge also accepted a plea by the accused to let them be represented by their counsel during hearings. But as the order pointed out, they would have to reach Calcutta a day before the framing of the charges starts and be present in the city till the completion of the trial. According to a Calcutta High Court order, the chief judge of the sessions court would have to frame charges by August 17.
However, the counsel for the accused informed the chief judge yesterday that his clients had already filed a petition in the Supreme Court to shift the trial from the sessions court in Calcutta to the apex court in Delhi.
Where the final trial - that would determine the outcome of the case - is held will depend on the fate of the petition in the Supreme Court. The counsel for the suspects could not say when the plea would come up in the apex court.
In the sessions court today, the judge asked Bidhannagar police to file a report on allegations that they were harassing 26 accused in the case who had appeared during yesterday's hearing.
This followed claims by their lawyer Sayan De before the judge that the police were "unnecessarily harassing" the 26 who have come down from the Darjeeling hills to Calcutta for the case.
"Some policemen followed my clients during their return to Gorkha Bhavan in Salt Lake, where they are staying, yesterday. A police team repeatedly raided their rooms yesterday evening and threatened them," advocate De said.
The hearing will continue tomorrow. The judge today announced that between August 1 and 4, he would hear petitions by the accused seeking quashing of the charges brought by the CBI.
Madan Tamang, 62, the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League and a vocal critic of the Morcha, had been hacked to death in Darjeeling on May 21, 2010.
Tamang was attacked at Club Side Motor Stand, near Planters Club, where he had gone with his supporters to celebrate the foundation day of his party.

Transporters' woes

TT, Siliguri, July 25: The indefinite strike in the hills has hit commercial transporters' who have to pay quarterly taxes, bear maintenance costs and pay drivers salaries though vehicles have been off roads.
"Since the middle of June, our earnings have sharply declined. Our vehicles are sitting idle, and so are drivers. We have to bear the regular maintenance costs, and pay taxes and other charges. Altogether, it is a tough situation and we don't know how long it will continue," Jayanta Majumdar, a transport service provider in Siliguri, said.
According to the transporters', around 800 light vehicles used to ply from Siliguri to the hills everyday. Another 500 vehicles, owned by people in hills, come down to the plains.
"For the past 45 days, only a handful of vehicles have been going to Sikkim. Many of us are not even sending their vehicles to Sikkim because of attacks on drivers," another transporter based here said.
There are over 400 trucks which carry goods from Siliguri to the hills. Added to these are 300-odd smaller goods vehicles.
In the transport sector, it is a common trend to take finance from banks and other financial institutions to buy vehicles. "These days, this is yet another challenge for many transporters' like us who have keep on paying the monthly instalments, even though the earnings have dropped," a transporter who rents vehicles on reserve basis to tourists and corporate groups, said.
Situation is equally bad in hills.
"Many of us could not deposit the quarterly tax and other charges with the motor vehicles department. There are vehicle owners who live in remote areas and do not have any means of transport to travel to Darjeeling to clear the dues," a commercial vehicle owner in the hills said.
They are apprehensive that after things turn normal, they might have to pay fines for the delay.
"Also, fitness certificates need to be renewed. Thus, even if the strike ends, owners of such vehicles can only start running those vehicles only after they get the certificate renewed. This means, additional loss of earnings," he elaborated.

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