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3 Nov 2013

Chamling off to Delhi with demands for Sikkim

2 Nov 2013
The statehood agitation in Darjeeling since 1986 has caused Sikkim a massive loss of around Rs5,000 crore and we wonder who will compensate the amount, asks chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling to both the West Bengal and Union governments.
Chamling said so this afternoon at Bagdogra airport before flying off to New Delhi to meet central ministers for a number of demands raised by his government. He said Sikkim has always remained a victim to the statehood agitation in neighbouring Darjeeling as there is only one road connection - National Highway 31 – linking the state to the rest of the country and this road passes through the Darjeeling region.
“I have brought forth matter with the Bengal and Union governments several times but neither has listened to us,” said the chief minister. “Hum chote pradesh ke hone se shayad najar andaaj kiya hoga. Hume kitne baar sab ko namaskar kare? Darjeeling aur Bangal sarkar dono ke saath goodwill banana parta hai (This must be due to the fact we are from a small state. How many times do we need to implore before them? We need to maintain goodwill with both Darjeeling and the Bengal government).”
Chamling further said this time he will seek an appointment with home minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe and discuss the loss that Sikkim incurs due to the agitation in Darjeeling.
When asked about the recent developments in Darjeeling and the development funds announced by his Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister said, “As I am just a neighbour, I can only send good wishes to both Darjeeling and Kolkata. Chief minister Banerjee is doing good work, I pray for the further development of West Bengal.”
When asked whether he intends to continue as the chief minister after the next election, Chamling replied, “It all depends upon the people of the state as to whether they want me to continue or not. The people are the ultimate decision makers, hence they have to decide and choose the ablest leader to rule the state wisely. Votes should not be cast in the name of religion and caste, but with the knowledge that an unsuitable leader will ruin the state.”
Promising that Sikkim will become one of the most developed states in the country over the next decade, Chamling noted there are 201 insurgent groups active in India of which more than 100 are in the North East states alone, but Sikkim does not have even one militant group.

BGP rejects People’s Forum candidate proposal

2 Nov 2013
The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has rejected a proposal by the People’s Forum of nominating five candidates for the forthcoming general elections. Terming the proposal “meaningless”, BGP national president Dr. Enos Das Pradhan today said there is no scope for considering it as the BGP is an apolitical body.
“The proposal made by the People’s Forum is incorrect; this isn’t the way how candidates are selected. We cannot make any comments on the issue as the BGP is not an organisation set up to contest elections,” noted Pradhan.
On Friday, the People’s Forum had proposed five names to the BGP to be put forward for the Darjeeling LS seat under the Gorkhaland Task Force banner. It had named noted public orator Arun Acharya, GTF secretary Munish Tamang, well-known journalists Joel Rai and Swaraj Thapa and Forum president Gokul Sinha.
But the BGP straightaway rejected the proposal saying, “The Forum has no authority to propose poll candidates under the GTF banner.”
This comes in the wake of IGNOU pro vice-chancellor Mahendra P. Lama announcing his candidature for the 2014 LS polls as an independent candidate from Darjeeling. The People’s Forum had tried to suggest more candidate names to the Darjeeling LS seat, but the BGP has brought its efforts to naught.
Pradhan said, “Our unit committees have already expressed support to Mahendra P Lama. We are not at all interested in pondering over other options.”
He added the BGP is neither for putting forward its own candidate nor is it ready to support any political party’s candidate.

2 Nov 2013

Trinamul to speak for Sikkim in Parliament

Gangtok, Nov. 1: Sikkim Trinamul Congress president P.T. Lucksum today said party MPs from Bengal would raise the issues affecting the Himalayan state in Parliament.
The Sikkim unit of Trinamul was formed in September.
“We met Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy and north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb in Darjeeling recently. They told us that all issues related to Sikkim would be taken up by Trinamul MPs in Parliament. The party MPs can raise matters related to our state with the President also,” Lucksum told journalists here.
Asked what issues would be taken up by the Trinamul MPs in Parliament, Lucksum said: “We are discussing the issues to be raised in Parliament and they will be made public in the days to come. We will be putting forward the matters before the MPs soon.”
Sikkim has two MPs, one in Lok Sabha and another in Rajya Sabha, and neither is from Trinamul.
The state general secretary of Trinamul, Tshering Lepcha, said the party would contest the next Assembly and Parliament elections from Sikkim.
“New faces will be fielded for the elections in all the constituencies of Sikkim. We will soon make our agenda for the polls public,” he added.
Sikkim has 32 Assembly seats.
“A party delegation will be calling on the governor after Diwali and then we will hold public meetings. We will be inviting leaders, including Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, to our public meetings,” Lepcha said.

Morcha trio fail to meet Tamang

Nov. 1: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation was today denied permission twice to call on arrested GTA Sabha member Binay Tamang in the Jalpaiguri district hospital.
First, health officials disallowed three Morcha leaders from meeting Tamang around 11 in the morning, citing the patient’s deteriorating condition.
Later in the evening, the Morcha leaders went to the hospital armed with the permission of the additional district magistrate. But this time, the police personnel on duty outside Tamang’s room said the visit couldn’t be allowed without the district police chief’s leave as the patient was under their custody.
Tamang, arrested on various charges and put up in Jalpaiguri correctional home in August, had launched an indefinite fast on Wednesday to protest his imprisonment and demand the speedy disposal of cases in courts. He was admitted to the district hospital yesterday because of low blood pressure.
However, Tamang continued to refuse food and water and even saline injection,in the hospital and was taken to the Intensive Critical Care Unit (ICCU) yesterday afternoon.
Around 11am today, Morcha vice-president R.P. Yaiba and central committee members Saran Dewan and Binod Prakash Sharma reached the hospital and sought permission to call on Tamang. They had a letter written by the Kurseong MLA of the Morcha, who wanted the hospital authorities to let the trio inside the ICCU.
“We were, however, informed by the hospital superintendent that the chief medical officer of health, Jalpaiguri, had rejected our plea on the pretext of Binay Tamang’s precarious health conditions. We consider it as a unilateral decision on the part of the health officials as the patient concerned is our leader and we do have a right to visit him and check out his condition. We have serious doubts regarding the kind of treatment Binay Tamang is getting in the ICCU,” said Yaiba.
The Morcha delegates said they had come to visit Tamang on the instruction of party president Bimal Gurung.
Yaiba wanted to know why Tamang had been taken from the district hospital yesterday evening for admission to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri and then brought back midway.
“The ambulance carrying Tamang to the medical college was stopped mid-way and was brought back to the district hospital. Then, he was admitted to the ICCU. Why did the health officials take him out then? These are serious issues and we want answers from the administration. The health authorities are simply harassing him in the name of treatment,” said Yaiba.
“Since he (Tamang) had spent three days without food and water, his blood pressure has gone down. Also, his body has become dehydrated and all metabolic activities have stopped. As the patient is not ready to drink water or take saline injection, his heath has become worse.We have formed a medical board to observe his health and take appropriate steps,” said Sarkar.
Asked about the aborted move by the hospital authorities to shift Tamang to the NBMCH, Sarkar said: “The patient was taken out for his admission to the NBMCH because of some miscommunication. Whatever treatment he needs can be provided in the district hospital.”
From the district hospital, the Morcha trio went to the Jalpaiguri jail, where they met other party leaders Kalyan Dewan and Ashok Lama.
Dewan, a GTA executive member and Lama, a central committee member of the Morcha, had been arrested and put behind bars for their alleged involvement in incidents of arson, damage to public property and similar cases.
Around 6 in the evening, Yaiba, Dewan and Sharma met the additional district magistrate, seeking permission to meet Tamang.
Still, the trio couldn’t meet him.
“We went to the hospital and informed the authorities that we had the permission to see Tamang. We had also come to know that the hospital superintendent was supposed to accompany us to the ICCU. However, the on-duty policemen at the ICCU told us that unless we obtain permission from the superintendent of police of Jalpaiguri, they would not let us in. We felt disappointed and left the hospital without looking for the police’s permission,” said the Morcha vice-president.
The three left the hospital around 7pm.

Votes apart, I need your hearts and minds: Mahendra Lama

1 Nov 2013
Noted academician Dr. Mahendra P Lama, who has announced of contesting in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate, was today in Monsong for a meeting arranged by his fan club.
On a self-campaign mission, Lama stressed he wants not just people’s votes, but also their hearts and minds. “You may be thinking I have come here to ask for votes. Yes, that’s true, but I don’t want just that. I want your hearts and mind too,” he said, adding, “I am not a political leader, I just want to work as your representative.”
Championing the issues of all-around development of the hills and the formation of a separate state as his election agenda, Lama said the right arguments have to be placed at the right places and at the right moments if a new state is to be achieved. He lamented the failure of all the agitations for statehood till now.
It may be mentioned that Lama has declined on forming a political party. The IGNOU Pro-Vice Chancellor said it is necessary to first take the statehood demand to Parliament. 
“Parliament is the apex place where laws and policies are formed,” he said. “But unfortunately, we have not been able to witness our demand being raised in that august house.”
The academician also criticised the state government for keeping Darjeeling away from development. “It is only after 67 years of independence that the state government is talking about developing the hills.” He said a separate state means vesting of both political power and development schemes in the hands of the people here and also the development of international trade as the Darjeeling hills share boundaries with four nations.
Further, Lama slammed regional political parties for failing to understand the meaning of development. “Development does not merely mean construction of roads, tunnels and culverts. The place needs a perennial source of income,” he remarked.
Asserting unemployment in the hills has multiplied over the past 30 years, he claimed nearly 80,000 to 1 lakh new employment opportunities can be generated within six months if a separate state comes into being.
Speaking on the current political scenario in the Darjeeling hills, Lama denounced incidents of political violence describing them as counteractive. He also alleged leaders lack strategy and are leading the movement as a “political business”. He urged everyone to engage in healthy political criticisms and debate and to come together to build up a progressive political environment. The academician noted it is important to make the residents of the Terai and Dooars more aware of the essence and benefits a separate state. According to Lama, “A separate state will be incomplete without the Terai-Dooars and Siliguri.”
He went on to say that the state government must initiate the development of an area as a whole instead of forming development boards for selected communities as doing so means nothing but creating division among the hill people. Lama said the Kolkata should form development boards for all communities of the hills simultaneously if it is serious about development of the tribal communities. He also demanded the transfer of the Darjeeling Tea Auction Centre to the Dooars from Kolkata.
The Darjeeling Terai-Dooars United Development Foundation will soon be launched officially to continue with the poll campaigning, announced Lama. He also appealed to all to attend his public meeting in Sukna on November 9.

ACTIVIST ARREST ISSUE,GJM mulls meeting Narayanan

1 Nov 2013
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership is reportedly planning to meet Governor MK Narayanan who is currently on an 18-day visit to the Darjeeling hills. The leaders intend to seek his intervention in getting arrested party leaders and activists released.
Sources from within the GJM said the arrest and judicial custody of the leaders is a matter of grave concern and needs to be addressed at the earliest.
“Now that relations between the GJM and state government have warmed up again, party supporters are getting frustrated seeing no sign of the release of their leaders and ‘sabhasads’ and this could take a bad turn for the future of the party,” said one of the GJM sources.
More the 2,000 GJM activists including senior leaders and 12 sabhasads have been arrested since July 29, when a fresh round of agitation for statehood was launched by the Morcha.
GJM assistant secretary Jyoti Kumar Rai revealed about plans of some party representatives to meet the governor during his stay in Darjeeling.
“We will definitely try and meet the governor as per his convenience. However, as we are all busy with party activities including taking stock of the contentious issue of the release of our leaders and supporters, we hope to sit down soon after ‘Tihar’ (Diwali) and request for some time with the governor,” he said.
GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang, who is also a GTA executive member, has launched an indefinite hunger strike since Wednesday at the Jalpaiguri correctional home demanding bail as he alleges false charges have been framed against him.
Tamang’s health condition has deteriorated and he is presently hospitalised.
Tamang was elected on September 27 to head the GTA as the chief executive’s post was lying vacant since Bimal Gurung’s resignation on July 30. But as Tamang’s bail plea got rejected, the GJM was hard-pressed to appoint GTA deputy chief executive Col (Retd) Ramesh Allay to the post on a temporary basis.
Narayanan today inaugurated a community hall in Mim Tea estate under Sukhaypokhari block is in Darjeeling since October 27 and is expected to remain till November 14.
The governor’ visit to Darjeeling coincides with Diwali and President Pranab Mukherjee’s proposed visit here on November 10. District administration sources said Narayanan will receive the President when the latter arrives to attend a programme at a reputed English school in Darjeeling.

BGP to launch youth wing soon

1 Nov 2013
The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has begun campaigns to connect youths to the organisation. It held an interactive programme today with likeminded youths here at the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammellan Hall in the presence of BGP National president Dr. Enos Das Pradhan and Kalimpong unit secretary Pravakar Dewan, among others.
The event, which was attended by a large number of youths, also discussed about the formation of a BGP youth wing and this was welcomed unanimously.
Stating that the youth wing will be formed after detailed discussions are completed, Dewan said, “We are glad to see many youths are willing to work with the BGP. Their participation will add energy to the organisation. We will go ahead with launching the youth wing soon after discussing it in detail.” He added the youths will be able to contribute significantly to the Gorkha rally in Delhi in December.

1 Nov 2013

Morcha, Trinamul in rice row - Civic chairman says GTA Trinamul nominee came uninvited

Darjeeling, Oct. 31: A rice distribution event for the poor became a venue of political tussle today when Morcha civic councillors objected to the presence of a Trinamul-nominated GTA Sabha member.
The event was organised by the state food and supplies department and the Darjeeling municipality, which is dominated by the Morcha, and saw in Milan Dukpa’s presence a Trinamul tactic to interfere in government events.
The row has happened when Trinamul is trying to fill a political void as the Morcha has no tough opposition in the region. The party launched its GTA employees’ union recently and some Morcha members have switched to the state’s ruling party in some hill pockets.
None of this has gone down well with the Morcha. The hill party-dominated GTA has made peace with the state government for now but today’s row reflects the tension in the Morcha because of Trinamul’s forays.
Dukpa, who left the municipality building after Morcha councillors protested today, said he had been invited by the district controller of food and supplies department.
A Morcha councillor alleged that Trinamul was trying to politicise a government programme. “Such politicisation of government programmes is not acceptable to us. Not only Dukpa, but his supporters also came to the event. They said they would send us to jail.”
Dukpa said he had no intention of politicising the event.
The distribution is an annual event organised to commemorate World Food Day that is on October 16.
The event wasn’t held on October 16 this year as it was the day of Id.
Dukpa walked into the distribution ceremony soon after municipal chairman Amar Singh Rai inaugurated the event and left.
“I, along with vice-chairman (Suk Bahadur Biswakarma), distributed rice to a few beneficiaries and then, we left for a meeting. In the middle of the meeting, we were informed that Milan Dukpa had come to the event without informing the municipality and started distributing rice,” Rai said. “We went to the conference hall of the municipality and stopped the distribution. We protest this unwanted interference by Trinamul,” he said.
Dukpa said: “I had yesterday gone down to Siliguri to meet the district controller of the food and supplies department to raise certain issues regarding distribution of kerosene in the hills. It was then that the controller invited me to the programme.
B.N. Sarkar, the district food controller, denied inviting Dukpa to the event.
Dukpa said: “When I reached the municipality, the officials asked me to distribute rice. I distributed rice to about 12-13 beneficiaries after which councillors protested my presence.”

अभिव्यक्तिको खतरा उठाउँदै सड़कमा कविहरू

कालेबुङ, 30 अक्टोबर।
‘बन्दुकले कसलाई मार्छ?
मान्छे कि मानवता?’
मङ्पूका पट्ठो कवि आशिशदीप राईले सोधेको यो प्रश्‍न थाना अघिल्तिर उभिएका स्रोताहरूतिर फर्खिएको थियो, स्रोताहरू भने कवितिर। तर कविता भने घरि बन्दुक हातमा बोकेर थाना प्राङ्गनमा उभिएका जवानहरूतिर फर्किरहेको थियो घरि त्यही बन्दुकदेखि डराउने निर्दोष स्रोताहरूतिर। कालेबुङका युवा कविहरूले कालेबुङ थाना अगिल्तिर नै ‘हस्तक्षेप जमातको सडक अवतरण’ भन्दै ‘सडकमा कविता’ आयोजना गरेका थिए। जहाँ उभिएर युवा कवि आशिषले कवितामा भने,
‘आफ्नै हातले संविधान लेखेपछि
देशबाटै किनारा लागेको म अरिबहादुर।’
अरिबहादुरको विम्बमा कवि स्वयं मात्र उभिएका थिएनन्, तिनी झैँ देशबाट नै किनारा परेका स्रोताहरू पनि उभिएका थिए। देशमा आफूहरूको जुन पहिचानको सङ्कट छ, यसैलाई केन्द्रिय मुद्दा बनाएर लेखिएका कविताहरूले त्रिकोण पार्क भएर हिँडिरहेका जोकोहीलाई पनि एकछिन समातेर सडकमा नै उभाएको थियो। ‘उठाउनै पर्छ सारा अभिव्यक्तिका खतरा, तोड्ने पर्छ मठ र गड सब’ भन्दै कवि मुक्तिबोधको कविताको शक्तिशाली हरफलाई केन्द्रिय स्वर बनाएका हस्तक्षेपी कविहरूको सिर्जनशिल हस्तक्षेप नै उल्टोधारमा बगिरहेको समयमाथि थियो। ‘अब कविता कोठादेखि सडक ओर्लेको छ,’ सञ्चालक अनिल तेलैजाले थालनीमा भने, ‘आज तपाईँहरूले थाहा पाउनुहुनेछ, कोठाबाट बाहिर आएका ती कविताहरू तपाईँकै सन्तान हुन्।’ तिनको चर्को उठानलाई साथ दिँदै सञ्चालक प्रज्ज्वल छेत्रीले उद्बोधनीमा थपे, ‘कविता विचार र कलाको विशिष्ट सम्प्रेषण हो, जसलाई कविहरू अब सडकमा हिँडाउन चाहान्छन्। किन भने यी कविता र स्रोताहरूको जीवन एउटै समयले हुर्काएको।’ कविहरूले कवितामार्फत राजनैतिक विसङ्गतिमाथि विमति प्रकट गरे। सरकार, सत्ताशक्ति र राजनैतिक विचलनले आफ्ना समयलाई जुन विचार दिइरहेको छ, त्यो विचारशिलहरूको निम्ति स्वस्थ नरहेको कविहरूले कविताद्वारा घोषणा गरे। राजनैतिक सङ्किर्णताको कारण चलिरहेको समसामयिक विचारप्रवाहले बौद्धिक, सचेत र स्वस्थ समाजको निर्माण नगर्ने बरू यथास्थितिवादी राजनैतिक चलखेलले उल्टै आम नागरिकलाई विचारशिल बन्नमा बाधा पुर्‍याएको भन्दै सर्जकहरू उप्रान्त थुनिएको विचारलाई सडकमा ल्याउन अगिाएको बताए। उनीहरूले आफ्नो कविताद्वारा सांस्कृतिक विचलन, सामाजिक विचलन र बौद्धिक विचलनमाथि सोझै हस्तक्षेप गरेका थिए। पहिलोपल्ट कालेबुङमा सर्जकहरूले अनुर्वर समयको प्रतिवादमा सडकमा आएका हुन्। युवा कवि मनोज वोगटीले आम नागरिकको जीवन जटिलतालाई सम्बोधन गर्दै भने,
‘यो समय जो छ
चौकीमा बसेपछि सङ्कटकालको घोषणा गर्छ
अनि मेरै छाला च्यातेर होर्डिङ बनाउँछ र टाङ्ग आँगनमा
पढिनु पनि खतरा छ
नपढ्नु पनि खतरा छ।’
एकथान कविता बोकेर उभिएका वोगटीले बौद्धिकरूपले दरिद्र राजनीतिमाथि व्यङ्गय कस्दै भने,‘ राजनीतिले निकालेको जिब्रो त ठ्याक्कै कोब्राको जस्तो/जनताको निधारमा दुईवटा दुलो हुनेगरी ठुङ्ग यार/ एउटा दुलोबाट गणतन्त्रले खुन छाद्छ/ अर्को दुलोबाट समयले पिसाब पेर्छ।’ युवा कवि प्रदीप लोहागुणले निकान्तै समसामयिक कविता सुनाउँदै सहिदको सपनाको व्यापार गर्नैहरूमाथि औँली उठाए। तिनले कार्यक्रमलाई कविहरूको सिर्जनात्मक अराजकताको सुरुवात बताउँदै अपील गरे, ‘साथी हो! अराजक हुने समय आयो।/मैले भन्न खोजेको अराजकता/ झण्डाको भरमा डण्ठा देखाउने होइन/ सत्ताको तापमा दम्भ देखाउने होइन/ रुपिँयाको बलमा कौमार्य लुट्ने होइन/ पाखुराको नापमा व्यापारीलाई हेप्ने होइन/ बरू यी तमाम/ कुकृत्यहरूको विरोधमा/
प्रतिवादको अराजकता/ विचारको अराजकता/कलाको अराजकता’ कालेबुङका युवा कवि जमातको प्रयासमा आयोजित यो कार्यक्रमलाई कृषक कल्याण सङ्गठनले सहप्रायोजना गरेको थियो। कार्यक्रममा मङ्पुका पुष्कर सिङर, कालेबुङका याम तामाङ, विशाल राई टिस्टे, डीके वाइबा, छेवाङ योञ्जन, मनोज राई, धिरेन सङ्घर्ष, सन्दिप कुलुङ, शिवु छेत्री, मदना ओझा, गेबु लेप्चा आदिले वजनदार कविता सुनाए। केटीभीको सहयोगले कालेबुङको त्रिकोण पार्कमा आयोजिक यो सडक कविता कार्यक्रमको मिडिया पार्टनर एकता टीभी कालेबुङ रहेको थियो।

Budding poets at public place draws ample attraction

Kalimpong, Oct 30:
Away from the regular speech from political icons everyday, the general people of this hamlet town found anew set of orators at Tricone Park giving in a full house audience to find deep grievances on political situation, social issues and many more through poems penned by budding poets of the sub-division. Reciting poems on public places is not generally the facade of the hills and with budding poets taking the cue on Wednesday attracting full house audience showed the people’s frustration listening to the same speech on politics everyday. This correspondent who witnessed the programme totally saw that even people who did keep low interest on poems stopped for a brief period to hear the poets recite their piece one after other. Budding poets like D.K. Waiba, Pradeep Lohagun, Chewang Yonzone, Manoj Rai,Yam Tamang, Dhiren Sangarsh, Sandeep Khulung, Sibu Chettri, Madna Lepcha and Gebu Lepcha were some of the poets who recited the poems. “It is something different that we are witnessing in decades. Everyone knows that the hills have been witnessing the political activities everyday. In reality the people do not want always to hear political speech. The recitation of poems reflecting current political situation and social traumas was awesome on this very day,” said a listener during the prgramme. Many political however also lined up to the hear the pieces including Dr. Enos Das Pradhan, the National president of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh and R. Moktan .(