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30 May 2017

JAP youth wing withdraws hunger strike after 6 days

SNS, Kalimpong, 29 May 2017: Yuwa Ekai-the youth wing of Jan Andolan Party ( JAP) withdrew its hunger strike after 6 days today when the party called a meeting in Trikone Park this evening regarding the negligence of Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha who didn't bother to answer queries over the status of Gorkhaland.
Notably, the }ulna ekai had started their indefinite dharna from 21 May and indefinite hunger strike from 24 March to put pressure on Morcha for a separate state.
JAP youth members kept asking for clarifications from the GJMM on the steps they had taken to achieve Gorkhaland but their question was left unanswered.
However, the health condition of the youths deteriorated and Morcha paid no heed to yuwa ekais step, they that he alleged JAP for not having a genuine issue to work on.
Sources also said that the frustrated youths declined the medical treatment few days ago and stood by their decision to die for the soil. Meanwhile, four youths have been admitted to the hospital after a routine checkup. they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, dehydration, and urinary disorders.
Addressing the party supporters, JAP president Harka Badhur Chettri today said that the youths didn't discuss with the bureau about their decision of dharna nor hunger strike, he later, moderately asked the youths to withdraw their strike as the Morcha will anyway fail to respond to their question for they dont have an answer ready. The party supremo in the other hand requested the youths to withdraw their decision saying that JAP requires their support and not death.
Mr Chettri also promised to raise the demand of Gorkhaland by JAP's team now, "The youths shouldn't worry, JAP will now raise the demand of Gorkhaland, we will start the bureau meeting from 3 June and continue it till we get an idea of a solution, no civilians will be troubled," he added.
The party led by Harka Badhur Chettri wonders why is it only JAP youths who felt the urge to question Morcha about the status of Gorkhaland when rest of the people are seen applauding Bimal Gurung's illogical speeches.

Government to hold Cabinet meetings in Hills, Jangalmahal

Government to hold Cabinet meetings in Hills, JangalmahalMP | 29 May 2017 | Kolkata: Taking a unique step, the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to hold four Cabinet meetings in the Hills and in Jangalmahal every year to ensure better administration.The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held in Nabanna on Monday.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced in Nabanna that every year, two Cabinet meetings will be held in the Hills and two in Jangalmahal. The first Cabinet meeting of her government in the Hills will be held on June 8 in Darjeeling.

The Chief Minister has given clear instructions that tourists should not be inconvenienced in any way because of the Cabinet meeting being held in the Hills.

"This is peak season for tourism in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars. Bookings made by tourists in hotels should not be cancelled. Thus, a decision was taken that no minister should try to stay in Darjeeling. However, there would be no problem if someone can manage to arrange accommodation there without cancelling the bookings of any tourists.

Journalists who will be going to cover the meeting will also have to make arrangements for accommodation in Siliguri," said the Chief Minister.

The Cabinet meeting will be held at Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling. Accommodation for some senior ministers could be managed in Darjeeling itself.

Trinamool Congress has "established democracy" in the Hills by winning the Mirik Municipality election and steps taken by the Chief Minister have ensured both peace and development in the Hills.
Now, the initiative to hold Cabinet meetings in the Hills is a "big step" as it would make it easier to sort out and solve the problems of the Hills.

In the '70s, Siddhartha Roy used to hold Cabinet meetings in the Hills and other districts. After four decades, the Mamata Banerjee-government has once again revived the old practice to assess the problems of the Hills by visiting the place.

Similarly, Cabinet meetings will also be held in Jangalmahal, which covers parts of five districts – Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and West Midnapore.

Banerjee had initiated the practice of holding district administrative review meetings in districts to take stock of the progress of ongoing developmental projects to assess what more could be done to ensure overall development of the region.

Rename HMI after legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay: Sherpa association

Rename HMI after legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay: Sherpa associationAmitava Banerjee | MP |29 May 2017 | Darjeeling: Paying rich tributes on the occasion of the 103rd birth anniversary of legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and the 64th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Monday, the United Sherpa Association has appealed for the rechristening of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling, to Tenzing Norgay Mountaineering Institute.

"There are mountaineering institutes in India named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and others but not after Tenzing Norgay. The Darjeeling HMI was started by Norgay so it should be aptly named after him," stated P T Sherpa, vice-president of the association.

P T Sherpa stated that there is Nehru Mountaineering Institute in Uttarkashi and Jawahar Mountaineering Institute in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru; the Mountaineering Institute in Manali is named Atal Bihari Vajpayee Mountaineering Institute and the Mountaineering Institute in Gangtok, Sikkim, is named Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute.

"The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling was founded in honour of Tenzing Norgay. He was a field director in the institute and a resident of Darjeeling. It is only apt that the premier institute is named after him," stated P T Sherpa.

The successful ascent of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary was a major boost to mountaineering in India. One year after this historical event, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established on November 4, 1954 — a result of personal initiative of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, and Dr B C Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal to promote mountaineering in India.

The Sherpa Association along with the residents of Darjeeling have also demanded Bharat Ratna, posthumously, for Tenzing Norgay. "We will write to mountaineering associations and organisations across the world to pressurise the Indian government for conferring Bharat Ratna to Tenzing Norgay. Along with this, we will also write to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding these demands," added the vice-president.

On this day in 1953, man first set foot on top of the world with Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mount Everest. On this day in 1914, legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay was born.

People from all walks of life including eminent mountaineers gathered at Tenzing Sherpa's memorial in the premises of the Darjeeling HMI on Monday to pay their respects to this legendary mountaineer.

Swearing-in ceremonies across civic bodies of Hills; TMC vows development

Swearing-in ceremonies across civic bodies of Hills; TMC vows developmentAmitava Banerjee | MP |29 May 2017 Darjeeling: Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik Municipalities on Monday. Kalimpong Municipality will witness the oath taking ceremony on Tuesday.

While the Trinamool Congress will form the board in the Mirik civic body, the Darjeeling, Kurseong Kalimpong Municipal boards will be formed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Names of the Chairmen to head the Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik Municipal boards were also announced.

Incidentally, the Hill Municipalities had gone to polls on May 14 with the counting having taken place on May 17. TMC managed to create a crack in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) shield, wresting the Mirik Municipality from the grip of the party in power in the Hills while GJM retained the Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong Municipalities.

In Mirik, TMC emerged victorious in six seats while GJM won in three seats. In Darjeeling, GJM won 31 seats with TMC winning a single seat. In Kurseong 17 seats fell in the GJM kitty with the TMC winning three seats. In Kalimpong, the GJM won 18 seats; TMC two seats; two seats were won by the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and a single seat went to a GJM-backed independent candidate.

The swearing in ceremony in Mirik was attended by the West Bengal PWD Minister Aroop Biswas; Tourism Minister Goutam Deb and Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) Chairman Sourav Chakroborty.

"People have voted for development and we will ensure development. We will change Mirik," assured minister Aroop Biswas. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be visiting Mirik on June 4.

"We will also develop the tourism infrastructure of Mirik along with developing new tourist spots. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be announcing the development programmes while visiting Mirik," stated Minister Deb.

L B Rai was sworn in as the Chairman of the Mirik Municipality with Mani Kumar Tamang as the vice-chairman.

In Kurseong, Krishna Limbu was sworn in as Chairman and Brigen Gurung as the vice-chairman.

Govt to promote Bengal as gateway to 'Buddhist tourism'

Govt to promote Bengal as gateway to Debamoy Ghosh, MP, 29 May 2017, Kolkata: The Bengal government will launch the state as a 'gateway of Buddhist tourism in Asia'.

The matter was recently discussed in a meeting of senior officials of the state government and top officials of several airlines, trade promotion organisations, chambers of commerce and some major industrialists, where everybody agreed that Bengal has the potential to become a gateway for Buddhist tourism, especially due to its unique geographical location.

In Moghulmari in West Midnapore, relics of a Buddhist university have been recently unearthed. The place has become a tourist attraction and Buddhist people from across the globe are visiting the place. It is said that Fa Hien, the famous Chinese scholar had visited the university and had left for Sri Lanka from Tamralipta (now Tamluk) port. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the first time announced Buddha Jayanti as a state holiday this year. "This will be an ambitious project by the state government. We believe that Bengal is a place which can channelise the Buddhist tourists in different and more fruitful directions. The journey can be started from here. The tourists can reach Buddhist shrines in Jharkhand, Bihar, Nepal and Bhutan from Bengal," said a state government official.

Footfall at the Bagdogra Airport in North Bengal has reached a record high recently and expansion plans for the airport are underway on a war footing. "The Bagdogra Airport will play a major role in this project. Recently, the airport recorded an increase in footfall which is really encouraging," said the source. Some industrialists suggested to the government that Kolkata is well connected to other cities across the country but direct flights to USA and the UK will add more connectivity. Connectivity to the South East Asian countries is also important.
Tour operators suggested to the government that most of the Buddhist tourists come from mainland Southeast Asia, comprising Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar Malaysia and Maritime Southeast Asia, comprising Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor and some other small nations.

Don't call names, HC tells News channel

PTI, New Delhi, May 29 : Journalist Arnab Goswami and Republic TV were today asked by Delhi High Court to "bring down the rhetoric" against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has filed a Rs 2-crore defamation suit against them for alleged slanderous remarks related to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.
Justice Manmohan said the journalist and the news channel can put out stories stating the facts related to the investigation into Sunanda's death but cannot call the Thiruvananthapuram MP a "criminal".
The court observed that just because Tharoor was not going to the Republic TV show or not giving interviews, it could not be a reason to declare that he was "running away".
A person has a "right to be silent," the judge said on the lack of Tharoor's response and added that "someone has not understood how our law operates".
The observations came as the court issued notices to Goswami and the channel seeking their response to Tharoor's suit. It did not pass any interim order barring the channel from airing news related to the matter but said "whatever the provocation, you cannot call him a criminal masquerading as a politician".
"That is uncalled for and it is presumptive. You cannot use language like this. You cannot call him names. Bring down the rhetoric."
Advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the journalist and the channel, said his clients would place on record the justification for the statements against Tharoor. The court decided to hear the matter next on August 16.
Earlier in the hearing, senior lawyer Salman Khurshid, appearing for Tharoor, said that since the channel was launched on May 6, it has been airing 3-5 hours of shows every day entirely on Sunanda's death and making defamatory statements against the MP.
The channel said it had only aired facts about the probe and claimed it had reports of senior officers that the evidence was not gathered properly and allowed to be tampered with. Khurshid countered saying the police had not said anything.
In his plea, Tharoor says he has suffered humiliation, severe loss of reputation and "has baselessly been declared by the defendants as the alleged murderer of his late wife". Sunanda was found dead in a Delhi five-star hotel room on January 17, 2014.

Cyclone Mora keeps city on course for showers

Rith Basu, TT, May 29: Calcutta was today 610km away from the eye of a cyclonic storm brewing over the Bay of Bengal, meteorologically a safe distance but close enough for moderate rain in the next 48 hours to wrap up a parched pre-monsoon month.
Cyclone Mora's journey towards Chittagong in Bangladesh brought little more than a drizzle, but the weather office said the storm was playing by the script.
"The city should get moderate rainfall starting Tuesday afternoon. Spells of rain are expected to continue till Wednesday, although the cyclone itself will weaken into a depression by then," said Ganesh Kumar Das, director of the India Meteorological Department, Calcutta.
The deep depression that intensified into a cyclonic storm today had triggered short but heavy spells of rain yesterday, ending an unusually dry fortnight for this time of the year. The storm has since been progressing slowly in a north north-westerly direction towards Chittagong, where it is expected to make landfall a little before noon on Tuesday.
The system is tipped to turn into a severe cyclonic storm late tonight and generate wind speeds of up to 130kmph near its centre. Calcutta falls outside what the weather office calls "area of maximum sustained wind speed". At the time of landfall, the eye of the storm would be 380km from the city.
According to weather scientists, Calcutta did not receive heavy rain today despite appearing to be close to the cyclonic storm because a deep depression and a cyclone work differently.
"Rainfall and winds are experienced in a wider area in the event of a depression or deep depression. When the system concentrates into a cyclone, rainfall and wind speed increase but the affected area becomes smaller," a senior Met official explained.
The skies wore a blanket of cloud almost all day, thanks to continuous moisture incursion from the Bay. Thunderclouds from the coastal areas of south Bengal began blowing into the city as well, albeit slowly.
The forecast is for rainfall to increase on Tuesday when Mora makes landfall and weakens to become a deep depression and, finally, a depression. South Bengal's distance from the eye of the storm would ensure that winds do not reach 40kmph even in the coastal areas of the state.
Wind speeds would be much higher at sea, though. Fishermen have been warned against venturing out on Tuesday, said Das.
Sunday had brought 23.7mm of rain to the city and relief from the sweltering conditions. The minimum temperature dipped from 28.6 to 23.7 degrees Celsius and the maximum reading from 38.3 to 36.2 degrees.
Expect the Celsius to fall further over the next couple of days.

Rajbangshi board, with eye on BJP

Members of the Rajbangshi community celebrate the board’s approval.                      Picture by Biplab Basak
PRANESH SARKAR and AVIJIT SINHA, TT, May 29: The Bengal cabinet today approved the formation of a development board for the Rajbangshi community, a decision that is being seen as an attempt by the Mamata Banerjee government to arrest the growth of the BJP in Cooch Behar.
The West Bengal Rajbangshi Development and Welfare Board is the first of its kind for a community living in the plains in the state. The Trinamul government had earlier created 15 development boards in the Darjeeling hills.
"Today, we took the decision to form the (Rajbangshi) board," the chief minister said at Nabanna this afternoon, almost a month after she promised to do so during a trip to Cooch Behar.
Political observers said the move was an attempt to thwart the rise of the BJP in areas dominated by the Rajbangshis.
"In some of the Rajbangshi-dominated areas of north Bengal, particularly Cooch Behar, the BJP is fast consolidating its base. This became evident when the party finished second in the by-poll to the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat in November," an observer said.
In Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts, the Rajbangshis form almost half of the population.
Mamata today also announced she would hold four cabinet meetings outside Calcutta every year - two each in the hills and Jungle Mahal - and the first such session would be held in Darjeeling on June 8.
"The two regions are considered among the most underdeveloped areas. If cabinet meetings are held there, it would send a positive message to the local population," said a source.
The chief minister said she would ensure that tourists visiting the hills during the meetings did not face much trouble with accommodation.
"We will ask majority of the ministers and officers to stay in Siliguri. Only five to six senior ministers will stay at Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling and the woman ministers will stay in Kurseong," she said.
The cabinet today also approved the creation of the Changrabandha Development Authority, the third such agency in north Bengal after Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and Jaigaon Development Authority.

Old faces helm new civic boards in hills

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 29: The Trinamul Congress and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha appear to have stressed on experience while appointing the chairmen and vice-chairmen to three municipalities in the hills.
Both the Morcha and Trinamul have appointed leaders who have held the posts earlier, even if it was on behalf of other parties.
In the Mirik municipality, Trinamul appointed as chairman L.B. Rai, who had helmed the civic body not once but thrice.
He was the GNLF chairman of Mirik municipality for three terms from 1996. Rai was also a Morcha councillor at Mirik from 2011 to 2016.
M.K. Zimba, who was named the vice-chairman, had held the same post in the previous Morcha-controlled board. He and Rai had switched over from the Morcha to Trinamul a month before the civic elections.
The Morcha announced Krishna Limbu as the chairman of the Kurseong municipality. Limbu had been the Morcha civic chief in 2008, too. Brigen Gurung, a former bank employee and a new entrant into politics, was made the new vice-chairman of Kurseong municipality.
In Darjeeling, Morcha leader D.K. Pradhan took oath as the municipal chairman. He was a two-time civic chief from 1994 to 2002, when the municipality was ruled by the GNLF. Pradhan was also the GNLF legislator of Darjeeling in 2001. The name of the new Darjeeling vice-chairman is yet to be announced.
The chairman and vice-chairman of Kalimpong municipality are slated to take oath tomorrow. The Morcha has proposed the names of Suva Pradhan and Sonam Tsewang Bhutia (Yakha) as the chairman and the vice-chairman, respectively. They haven't held the posts before.
Four of Trinamul's councillors - one from Darjeeling and three from Kurseong - did not take oath today. They had gone to Mirik to attend the inauguration of the party's board.
In Darjeeling, Neelam Yolmo of the Morcha representing ward 13 couldn't take oath as he was ill. The Morcha's three councillors in Mirik were, however, sworn in today.
Asked about his switch from the Morcha a month before the elections, Mirik civic chief Rai said: "The only reason I joined Trinamul was to strengthen Mamata Banerjee's promise to look into the demand of granting land rights to the residents of Mirik municipality. This is the only reason."
Sources said many in Trinamul believed that the party could win Mirik solely because of Mamata's decision to start a survey on land rights. Residents of seven wards, out of nine, do not have any land documents as the land is leased to Thurbo tea garden.
Rai conceded he could work better as he belonged to a party in power. "Earlier, there were problems, but I am confident that I will be able to perform much better this time."

Mirik: Trinamul's launch pad in hills

Trinamul supporters wielding party flags in from of Mirik municipality building on Monday. (Passang Yolmo)
Bireswar Banerjee, TT, Mirik, May 29: From today, Mirik will be Trinamul's new signpost in the Darjeeling hills. The party is expected to announce and implement a slew of schemes for the hill town and showcase Mirik before the hill people as the example of Mamata Banerjee's development agenda.
"So far, Bengal ministers and Trinamul leaders have highlighted the projects taken up by the state government in the hills. But from now onwards, the new civic board will implement projects in Mirik. The entire Mirik subdivision will witness comprehensive development. It is because of the mandate of Mirik residents that our party is tasting power in the hills," a Trinamul leader here said today, soon after the party's L.B. Rai was sworn in as the Mirik chairman.
He said Mirik would provide Trinamul with a launch-pad to penetrate the rest of the hills, especially before the coming polls to the GTA Sabha.
The Morcha will be under pressure to perform at the three other civic bodies in the hills. Morcha president Bimal Gurung had said after the civic poll results that people had given them "one last chance".
If the civic body in Mirik can establish that it is performing better than the three other boards, there will be more trouble for the Morcha.
Trinamul leader and minister Aroop Biswas affirmed that Rai and his colleagues would have a tough task at hand. "People here have huge expectations from Trinamul councillors and our party. It is obvious that they will have to perform and prove that the peoples' mandate was right. We will constantly monitor the civic body's functioning and extend all necessary help to them," Biswas said.
The hill town today wore a look of celebrations, with the flags of Trinamul and GNLF fluttering across Mirik. The six Trinamul councillors were taken to the municipality building in a bike rally organised by the party supporters.
Some of the councillors were riding pillion.
After the chairman and the vice-chairman were sworn in, the Trinamul supporters took out a procession in which the councillors and minister Biswas took part.
The march ended near Sumendu lake.
The three Morcha councillors left soon after they had taken oath and didn't wait to attend the first board meeting.

Court & review signs

G.S. Mudur, TT, New Delhi, May 29: Sections of India's cattle traders plan to petition the Supreme Court against the Centre's ban on livestock markets trading in cattle for slaughter, saying the notification violates constitutional rights and will destroy the country's meat and leather industries.
The All India Jamaitul Quresh Action Committee will approach the apex court this week, seeking revisions to the May 23 notification that also bars cattle buyers from reselling the animals within six months, the organisation's president, Faheem Qureshi, said.
Cattle traders say the environment ministry notification, which forces abattoirs to buy cattle directly from farmers, chokes the primary supply channel that accounted for 90 per cent of the cattle sold for slaughter.
The ministry has said the new rules, which also specify the presence of animal committees and veterinarians at livestock markets, are intended to curb cruelty to cattle, a category in which it has included buffaloes and camels too.
But the notification has stirred widespread concerns about the meat and leather trades and the livelihoods they sustain.
"We are not against modernisation; we are not opposed to having veterinarians in the livestock markets. But the prohibition against selling cattle for slaughter in a marketplace and the mandatory six-month holding period for purchased cattle goes against our constitutional rights," said Qureshi, a lawyer.
"This ban is a violation of the right to engage in trade and business."
Others concerned about the notification are hoping they can persuade the government to revise its order. Sirajuddin Qureshi, head of a New Delhi-based meat exporting complex, said he had requested a meeting with Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan.
The environment ministry had said in a media release on Sunday that it had received some "representations" relating to the provisions in the new rules and would "examine" them.
The statement has stirred speculation among some that the ministry might modify the notification to remove buffaloes from its ambit. But an environment ministry spokesperson said there was no such decision yet.
"We've requested a meeting with the minister. We'll explain the problem ---- the huge impact this notification will have on the jobs and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers employed in this sector," Sirajuddin said.
"This order is totally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's agenda of creating jobs."
Meat industry representatives say that several million people have direct or indirect jobs in the sector. India is the world's largest exporter of buffalo meat, with Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam among the main export markets.
The government's Agricultural and Processed Foods Development Authority says India exported buffalo meat worth Rs 26,000 crore during financial year 2013-14, most of it from Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.
Members of India's Council for Leather Exports, an organisation with over 3,000 members across the country, are among those concerned about the notification.
Rajeev Bhatia, director of a Calcutta-based company engaged in the export of finished leather products, including handbags and briefcases, said he was "extremely worried" about the likely impacts of the notification.
India's leather industry has grown steadily over the past three decades, changing from a mere supplier of raw material to a provider of finished goods.
The Council for Leather Exports estimates that the country exported leather and leather goods worth $4.72 billion between April 2016 and January 2017.

Slaughter of rights: Mamata - Bengal govt will not accept central rules on livestock markets: CM

Protesters in Chennai shout slogans on Monday against the ban on the sale of cattle in livestock  markets for slaughter. (AFP)
TT, Calcutta, May 29: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today declared that the Bengal government would not implement the central notification that bans the sale of cattle in animal markets for slaughter.
"We are not accepting (the notification), nor are we bound by these rules," Mamata said in her first reaction in public to the notification.
"This is absolutely unconstitutional and a direct encroachment on federalism.... This is a destructive approach and unnecessary bulldozing," Mamata told a media conference, adding that the government was consulting legal experts.
The chief minister ridiculed attempts to dictate food habits. "Now, I too can say, 'Plants also have life... a potato, wax gourd, gourd and even paddy has life'," she said.
Mamata at the media conference. (Pradip Sanyal)
Bengal has hundreds of licensed animal markets across the state, where cattle worth hundreds of crores are bought and sold every week. The leather industry, already reeling under the impact of cow vigilantism, too is expected to be affected. If the notification is implemented in the state, the economic impact is bound to be significant.
Mamata flagged both concerns at the media conference, adding that the notification -published just before the beginning of the holy month of Ramazan - was a "political" move.
She repeatedly stressed her responsibility to protect "all sections of society" and honour the "food habits of everyone".
"Where the markets will come up, who will eat what, will they decide everything? Farmers travelling somewhere with cows are attacked - we are receiving such reports from UP and also MP," the chief minister said.
Mamata also targeted the notification on the constitutional front. "According to Article 246 of the Constitution, the legislature of any state has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Seventh Schedule. The law is clear. Even then, the decision is being forced down our throats," Mamata said.
Reeling off specific entries - "Entry 15, Entry 16, Entry 26 and Entry 28" - from the state list of the Seventh Schedule, Mamata said the new rules were a "deliberate attempt to encroach on state power".
The entries relate to preservation, protection and improvement of cattle stock, prevention of animal disease, trade and commerce, and markets and fairs. Legal consultations are being held to establish whether trade and commerce in cattle is a state subject.
Government sources said that although the chief minister was livid with the notification, she wanted to do her homework before giving her official reaction.
Asked whether she would try to bring other state governments on board against the notification, Mamata said: "I think all the secular parties are united on this."
The CPM-led Left government in Kerala has already opposed the notification and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sent a letter to the Prime Minister. Sources in the Bengal government said that Mamata had no such plans for now.
"A legal challenge based on constitutional provisions seems to be the strategy. The chief minister will not let go of this opportunity to attack the Modi government," said a source.
Reacting to the media conference, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: "I am surprised that the CM took two days to react.... Usually she reacts within half an hour. She has been very careful while commenting, keeping in mind that 20 lakh people in Bengal were on the streets on Ram Navami."

29 May 2017

New cattle trade rules: All animals are equal... So why does the Centre’s PCA notification make cattle more equal than others?

Editorial, TH, MAY 29, 2017: The Centre’s move to notify new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) is either extremely poorly thought out or much too clever for its own good. In a way, both. On the surface, the notification, which spans eight pages, reads like a general document on the regulation of the sale of all kinds of livestock bought and sold in animal markets, with some welcome prohibitions on the cruelty inflicted in the transport and treatment of animals. But parse the rules, and it is evident that cattle — a category that includes cows, buffaloes, bulls and camels — come under a slew of special restrictions which, when effected, could have an extremely serious impact on the meat and livestock industry, not to mention the livelihoods and dietary choices of millions of people. Surprisingly, only the purchase or sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets has been prohibited. This raises suspicions that the Centre has attempted to conceal, or at least soften perceptions about, an extremely controversial provision, in the guise of passing a seemingly inoffensive, even enlightened, body of rules relating to animal cruelty. The rules framed for the sale of cattle are so cumbersome — for instance, buyers must verify they are agriculturists, and sellers must furnish photo identity proof and written declarations stating that the cattle are not brought to the animal market for slaughter — that one wonders whether the objective is to surreptitiously throttle the entire cattle trade in an elaborate ream of red tape. Is the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets intended to act indirectly as an absolute ban? Is the notification, stripped of its generalities and niceties, really about the BJP government’s pet concern, cows?
Such questions are bound to be raised given the way the rules were notified. If the main subject of the notification was the regulation of livestock markets, why was it issued by the Ministry of Environment and not the Animal Husbandry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, which deals directly with this issue? Moreover, on what ground can the slaughter of any animal for food be prevented under the PCA, when it explicitly recognises that animals may constitute “food for mankind”? What the Act prohibits is only the “infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering” when animals are consumed as food. Such legal infirmities are bound to be challenged in court, but meanwhile the economic costs of this decision will merit a close watch. If estimates that 90% of slaughtered buffaloes are bought and sold in animal markets are correct, then the trade will be crippled. The Centre must address the concerns of the trade as well as of those who suspect the notification is a part of a Machiavellian plot to influence and curb food choices. While there is a case to retain most of the rules prohibiting the cruel treatment of animals, the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets must go.

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