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23 Sep 2017

100 days of hill shutdown

Customers at a Darjeeling market on Friday
TT: The indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the Darjeeling hills entered the 100th day on Friday.
The Telegraph scans the 100 days, during which 16 people have lost their lives.
The trigger
On June 8, Morcha supporters protesting the government's decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools fought a pitched battle with police just 200 metres from Darjeeling Raj Bhavan, where chief minister Mamata Banerjee was chairing a cabinet meeting.
Following a police raid on Morcha president Bimal Gurung's office at Patlebas on June 15, the party announced an indefinite shutdown.
By then, Gorkhaland had become the movement's larger goal.
Gurung moves away
After the raid, Gurung surrounded himself with more than 100 youths in Tukvar area, the Morcha's nerve-centre. Given the "tense" situation, Gurung's interactions with the public thinned but he remained in Tukvar. For nearly two months, there were frequent clashes between statehood supporters and the police, causing several deaths. Rallies across the hills were a regular affair.
After waiting for nearly two months, the police started inching towards Patlebas and eventually took complete control of the area. Gurung appeared in Ging Tea Estate on August 15 and said he was being forced to "stay in a jungle".
Blasts lead to schism
A series of mild explosions took place in the hills since August 19. Gurung and some other Morcha leaders were booked under provisions of the stringent UAPA, forcing them to go into hiding and the agitation to become rudderless.
Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa of the Morcha said they were getting disillusioned with Gurung's leadership.
Stage set for talks
The GNLF wrote to the chief minister to initiate talks to end the stalemate. Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri also issued a media release stating that Gurung, too, had written a similar letter.
But Mamata said she had received letters only from GNLF president Mann Ghisingh and Tamang.
Hardship hits people
A sudden call for strike meant people had little time to prepare. Even though foodgrain is available, liquid cash has become a problem. Tea garden workers have gone without wages for three months and most government employees and GTA staff have not received salary.
3 sectors affected
Education, tourism and tea have been the hardest hit.

Titled at UN: 'Terroristan'

Charu Sudan Kasturi, TT, New Delhi. Sept. 22: India has unleashed a fresh missile from its armoury of epithets against Pakistan on terrorism, calling its neighbour "Terroristan" in a heated exchange between the South Asian rivals at the UN in New York.
Pakistan, which literally means land of the pure, had turned into a land of "pure terrorism", Indian diplomat Eenam Gambhir said late last night in a statement responding to allegations against New Delhi by Pakistan's Prime Minister.
Ahead of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj's address to the UN General Assembly in New York at 7.30pm India time on Saturday, India used a right to respond to addresses at the General Assembly to hit back at Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in language uncharacteristically acerbic for that platform.
Pakistan responded to Gambhir's comments with an equally harsh statement, publicly referring to national security adviser Ajit Doval and blaming him for spawning "insecurity" in the region.
"In its short history, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror," Gambhir, first secretary at the Indian mission at the UN, said. "The quest for a land of pure has actually produced 'the land of pure terror'. Pakistan is now 'Terroristan', with a flourishing industry producing and exporting global terrorism."
Tipu Usman, a diplomat at Pakistan's UN mission, responded to Gambhir, naming Doval as a threat to stability in the region.
"India remains responsible for undermining regional peace and stability," he said. "The strategy of offensive defence and double squeeze, of NSA Doval, can never succeed."
Officials said they could not recall the last occasion when Pakistan had publicly blamed a senior Indian official at the UN, as Usman did.
Abbasi had earlier yesterday, New York time, accused India of terrorism in his country and of suppressing the human rights of the people of Kashmir, while addressing the UN General Assembly.
Abbasi had also threatened India, warning that if its troops cross the Line of Control or engage in a "limited war" against Pakistan, "it will evoke a strong and matching response".
Pakistan foreign minister Khawaja Asif today exchanged pleasantries with Sushma and inquired about her health at a diplomatic reception. Asif told a group of Pakistani journalists that Sushma had told him she was fine.
"Terroristan" is only the latest phrase that India has used in a little over a year to describe Pakistan, at a time the neighbours have minimal diplomatic relations and appear far removed from any serious breakthrough towards a fresh peace dialogue.
Gambhir herself had last September referred to Pakistan as the "Ivy League of terrorism", in her response to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Days before that, home minister Rajnath Singh had called Pakistan a "terrorist state that must be isolated", following the attack on an army base in Uri.
At the UN Human Rights Council on September 16 last year, India had described Pakistan as the "epicentre of terrorism". Then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had referred to Pakistan as "hell" in August 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit in Goa last October, called Pakistan the "mothership of terrorism".
Today, Gambhir cited the participation of a front headed by Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Sayeed in upcoming elections in Pakistan as an example of that country's double standard on terrorism. The Lashkar is banned as a terrorist entity by the UN, and most major countries.
Saeed, she said, "is now sought to be legitimised as a leader of a political party".
Gambhir, who also responded to Sharif at the UN last year, criticised cross-border terrorism from Pakistan, and referred to the discovery of former al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Abbasi had referred to Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism, including the death of thousands of civilians and security personnel. But Gambhir indicated India viewed those deaths a consequence of Pakistan's own facilitation of multiple terror groups that target India and Afghanistan.
"In this case, the polluter pays," she said.

Kim calls Donald a 'dotard' - DAY OF THUNDER North Korea and US trade low blows, so do Pakistan and India

TT, North Korea's Kim Jong-un has called President Donald Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard" and vowed the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history", which was interpreted as a threat to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
In the first direct response to Trump's threat to annihilate North Korea if it did not behave, Kim said in a statement: "I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard (senile or weak old man) with fire."
"A frightened dog barks louder," Kim said. "He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician."
Trump responded with some name-calling of his own. On Twitter, the President called Kim "obviously a madman". In his UN speech on Tuesday, Trump had called Kim a "Rocket Man" on "a suicide mission".
The rejoinder by Kim, who is about half as old as Trump, 71, added to the lexicon of the North Korean leader's choice of insults in the escalating bombast between the two and pushed North's brinkmanship to a new, potentially more perilous, level.
In a country where the leader is essentially portrayed as a god, Kim's decision to respond personally to Trump and pledge reprisals escalated the standoff over the North's nuclear programme in a way that neither he nor his predecessors had done before.
Although the statement made no mention of nuclear weapons, in the context of a political system built on a cult of personality, Kim's intervention appeared to sharply reduce the possibility that his government might retreat or compromise, even in the face of war.
At the UN, secretary-general Antonio Guterres called for statesmanship to avoid "sleepwalking" into a war.
Although Kim is often quoted by official North Korean news media, it is highly unusual for him to issue a statement in his name. Kim's father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, never made such a statement.
In North Korea, the supreme leader's statement carries a weight that surpasses any other formal document. In effect, Kim, whose cult-like leadership rests upon his perceived daring towards North Korea's external enemies, has turned the nation's standoff with the US into a personal duel with Trump, analysts said.
"Now that Trump has... insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of a war in history that he would destroy" North Korea, Kim said, "we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history."
Asked by reporters in New York what Kim might have meant by the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure", North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho said that only Kim would know.
But Ri added that he thought the North might be considering the largest test of a hydrogen bomb ever in the Pacific Ocean.
KCNA, the North Korean state news agency, made a rare criticism of official Chinese media, saying their comments on the North's nuclear programme had damaged ties and suggested Beijing, Pyongyang's only major ally, had sided with Washington.

22 Sep 2017

100 days of discord in Darjeeling as state govt tries to impose new order

In Darjeeling on Friday, protestors demanded the establishment of Gorkhaland.Pramod Giri, HT, 22 September 2017, Darjeeling: As the bandh in Darjeeling entered its 100th day on Friday, peace and normalcy looked as far away as ever.
The new bout of hopelessness began on Wednesday, when the Bengal government announced that it would reconstitute the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and appoint as its new leader Binoy Tamang, a former member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha who was expelled for opposing the bandh.
The agitation for the establishment of Gorkhaland has dragged on since June 8, after the state government said it would make Bengali a compulsory subject up to Class 10.
Opposition parties in the Hills vehemently rejected the government’s decision to re-establish the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), which they see as an attempt to close off their demand for a separate state.
“The move will only lead to massive unrest in the hills because people are fighting for Gorkhaland,” said Harka Bhadur Chettri, president of the Jan Andolan Party (JAP), a local party that favours the creation of Gorkhaland.
Political leaders in the region were particularly angered by the unilateral nature of the announcement, which came just weeks before an October 16 meeting that was supposed to pave the way for another meeting including representatives from the protestors, the state government, and the Centre.
“The autocratic decision of the state government will only bring peace of the graveyard by suppressing the democratic voices of people for Gorkhaland,” said Arun Ghataney, a senior leader of Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), the two most prominent parties in the Hills, also rejected the reformation of the semi-autonomous administrative body.
The initial agreement that established the GTA was signed in 2011 by the Centre, the state and the GJM. Bimal Gurung, the president of the GJM, was appointed its first chief executive.
The GTA stopped operating nearly three months ago, when its board members resigned. Gurung is now in hiding while he leads the movement for Gorkhaland.
The vice chairman of the new GTA is Anit Thapa, who was also expelled from the GJM. Another member of the new GTA, Mann Ghisingh, president of the GNLF, said he had not been consulted by the government and that his party will not accept its decision.
“The GTA would never fulfil the aspiration of the Gorkhas fighting for separate state of Gorkhaland,” said Ghisingh.
The GJM condemned those involved with the new GTA in a press conference on Wednesday. “Binay Tamang, Anit Thapa and Mamata Banerjee have come together to murder democracy in Darjeeling hills,” said Binita Roka, a party spokesperson. “The GJM rejects this decision and appeals to all other parties to do so too.”
The sudden announcement of reconstitution of the GTA board came after two rounds of largely fruitless bilateral negotiations between the state government and the Hill parties, all of whom have insisted on tripartite talks.
Both the JAP and GNLF were once considered to be close to the state government. The GNLF supported the ruling Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha election of 2014, the state assembly election last year, and the municipal elections in May.
Since June 17, thirteen people, including one policeman, have been killed in the unrest. Private and public properties worth crores of rupees have been set on fire and vandalised. Internet access has been blocked since June 19.
The army has been called in twice to quell the protests, and police and paramilitary forces continue to raid the houses of Gorkhaland supporters. Hundreds of Gorkhaland supporters and leaders have been arrested, and criminal cases are registered against Gurung and other senior leaders of the movement.

Quixotic Mr Gurung'" II

Soumitra Mohan, SNS: The allegation of histori­cal exploitation of Dar­jeeling by the state of West Bengal does not hold water because Darjeeling has the country's best social development indicators. 
Accor­ding to the West Bengal Human Development Report, 2004 pre­pared under the supervision of the United Nations Develop­ment Programme (UNDP), Dar­jeeling was ranked 2nd and 4th in terms of gender and human development indices respective­ly, among all the districts of West Bengal.
If indeed underdevelop­ment and exploitation of Dar­jeeling can be cited as a justifi­cation for statehood, then the Hills ought to be far behind in the queue for promotion to statehood as there are many more regions in the country which would have the first claim. Whether it is income, literacy rates, educational attainments, nutritional status, percentage of BPL (Below poverty line) population, longevity, infant and maternal mortality overall health status and infrastructure.
Darjeeling fares much better compared to most parts of the country or the districts of the state of the West Bengal. For more than three decades it has been under such autonomous self government as the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and GTA.
If the proponents of state­hood believe that Darjeeling could do with more develop­ment, then statehood is definite­ly not the solution. Develop­ment in some of the states is pathetic, to say the least. Jhark­hand became a state against the same background of alleged underdevelopment,  but even after a lapse of more than a decade, it is yet to realise the developmental goals it had set out to achieve way back in the year 2000. Jharkhand  today fares very badly among the newly created states. The fact remains that the likes of Gurung should actually be talking of good gover­nance and administration rather than anything else. Statehood without good governance will achieve nothing but zilch.
Given its size, both in terms of demography and geography, Darjeeling already receives a dis­-proportionate per capita share of resources compared to many other parts of the country. And a substantial share of these resources are from the state of West Bengal, implying that this state has traditionally been pro­viding disproportionate resources to Darjeeling, often at the expense of the more backward and deserving  areas.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Adminis­tration's revenue from all sources is assumed to be not more than Rs 3 crore annually. If we also include the rev­enue received by the state govern­ment from such sources as land, excise, transport, professional and sales tax, then the figure is likely to go up to around Rs 30 crore. Even after tapping all the potential sources of revenue, it can barely go up to Rs.100 crore annually.  In the shorter run, however, a Rs 50 crore annual revenue appears to be a more practical figure.
Moreover, GTA reportedly has a non-plan expenditure of around Rs 600 crore at the moment, with Plan and scheme­ based expenses it will come  to around Rs 1400 crore. If at all the three hill sub-divisions become the cherished Gorkhaland state, the combined plan and non­ plan expenditure is likely to shoot up to, at least, Rs 2000 crore factoring in the expenses for general and police adminis­tration, not to speak of various attendant expenses which come with the formation of a new state. So, if a region which has the best of developmental indi­cators and which has  the rev­enue generation potential of only around Rs 50-10 crore, why should  it receive a dispro­portionate Rs 2000 crore at the expense of the more deserving parts of the country, particularly those areas of Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jhark­hand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other states reeling under extremism?
Mr Gurung should have done his homework better to show that Darjeel­ing is in a position to bear all the non­ plan and, at least, a portion of the plan expenses of the pro­posed Gorkhaland state before demanding the same. If such a new entity expects to be spoon-fed by Central Government's doles there are bound to be similar demands from different parts of the country. And if we allow the concession for one particular region, can we deny the same to others? 
We ought to under­stand that an eponymous Gorkhaland state is not just about the emotional people of Darjeeling, but has far-reaching and insidious implications for the rest of the country.
If Telangana has today become a state, it is because of its geographical compactness, a suitable demographic size, administrative viability and self­ sufficient resources. But the same does not apply to such demands elsewhere, including Gorkhaland. Our state-building process shall never come to an end, nor to speak of the nation­ building process. Gurung should have actually aimed at making the GTA work successfully, it was put in place through a tripartite agreement between the Central Government, the Government of West Bengal and the dominant hill party i.e. Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GIMM) on 16 July 2011. GTA is an autonomous and empowered body which can be suitably har­nessed to fulfill the development aspirations of the local people, if development is what they are looking for.
In an article published on 4 August 2012 in The Statesman, this author had strongly recom­mended that the GTA "should avoid the 'Big Schemes-Big Pro­jects' focus of the erstwhile DGHC and should, instead tar­get such schemes and programmes that have wider out­ reach and directly impact the quality of life of the hoi polloi, an advice not heeded by Mr Gurung to his own chagrin, thereby bringing about his comeuppance. It would be in the fitness of things that GTA be afforded an opportunity to become bellwether of Darjeeling's development to ensure a peaceful and progressive life for the people.
Darjeeling needs an enlightened leadership with vision, one that understands the needs of the local people. It should be able to synergize the energies and interests of the motley interest groups in the hills to bring about better governance and development in accord with the  interests of the nation. One would expect the incoming leaders of GTA to focus more on correcting the basics including repairing the damage  done to the hill economy because of the agitprop at the behest of Mr Gurung. Well-planned develop­ment and good governance are imperative for Darjeeling and its new administrators. The country is waiting for the Queen  of the Hllls to smile.       (Concluded)
SAUMITRA MOHAN , the writer is a Former District Magistrate of Darjeeling and presentlv working as CEO, KMDA. The views expressed are personal and donot reflect those of Government. 

बन्द यथावत राखेर बंगाल सरकारको बिरोधमा एकजुट हुनुपर्छ – राजिव शर्मा

राजेश शर्मा, कालिमन्युज, नयाँ दिल्ली 21 सेप्टेम्बर । पहाड़मा चलिरहेको राजनैतिक उथुल पुथुलबाट कति पनि निरास नहुने र आन्दोलनको गतिमा अवरोध खडा हुन नदिने आहवान उध्योगपति अनि गोर्खा सन्युक्त संघर्ष समितिका संस्थापक सदस्य राजीव शर्माले गरेका छन। 
डुवर्समा जन्मेर दिल्लीलाई आफ्नो व्यवसाय स्थल बनाएका समाजसेवी शर्माले भने कि गोर्खाहरुको सपना अनि मागलाई बिथोल्न राज्य सरकारले ज़ीटीए पुन चलाउने अनि बन्द खोलाउने जुन प्रयास बंगालका गरिहेको छ त्यसलाई सफल हुन दिनुहुदैन। वेतन, ज़ीटीए,पद पैसा आदि दिएर लोभ्याउने गरिएको प्रयासलाई सबैले उल्टो जवाब दिनुपर्छ, शर्माले अझै बताए।
पहाड़मा चलिरहेको बन्द 100 दिन पुग्न लागेको छ यसैबीच मुख्य मंत्री ममता ब्यानर्जीको भूल भूलैयामा फसेर बन्द खोलाउने प्रयासलाई सफल हुन दिनुहुँदैन। पहाड़, तराई अनि डुवर्समा रहेको गोर्खे सन्तानलाई जीटीए होइन गोर्खाल्यण्डमात्र आवस्यक छ यसैले जीटीए तिर जाने नेताहरुलाई सबले रद्द गर्नूपर्छ अनि बन्द यथावत राख्नुपर्छ, शर्माले भने । 
यसै सम्बन्धमा बोल्दै तिनले भने कि अहिले विनय तामंग, अनित थापा लगायत मन घिसिङ, अमर सिंग राई संचविर सुब्बा, मिलाएर जुन बोर्ड अव एड्मिनिस्ट्रेटर बनाएर् गोर्खा जातिलाई जबरजस्ति ज़ीटीए तर्फ फर्काउने जुन प्रयास ममता सरकारले गरि रहेकोछ यसको गोर्खाल्याण्ड सन्युक्त संघर्ष समिति (जिएसएसएस) घोर विरोध गर्दछ । पहाड़मा 100 दिन  पुग्न् लागेको समय बंगालको ललिपप लिएर् कसैले गोर्खालाई बेच्न पाउदैन । विनय तामङ्ग अनि अनित थापालाई गोर्खा सन्तानले समाज बहिस्कार गर्न पर्नेछ । गोर्खाको सपनालाई बंगालको खेमामा लागेर जाति बेच्ने जुन प्रयास गरिरहेको छ त्यो खुबै निन्दनिय रहेको शर्माले बताए । 
तिनले अझै भने कि उनीहरु दिल्ली पुगेर पनि सुटूक्क् भागेर पुन: बाघडोगरामा पुगेर प्रेसहरु समक्ष गोर्खालाई विभाजन गर्ने प्रकारको जुन वक्तब्य दिए त्यसलाई सारा भारतभरिका गोर्खाहरुले धिक्कार्दै विरोध जनाउनु पर्नेछ। यदिदरकार परे चाँड़ै ज़ीएसएसएसको टोलि दार्जीलिङ्ग पुगेर विनय र अनितलाई चुनौति दिनेछ। डुवर्स अनि पहाड़मा रहेका तृणमूलका गोर्खे समर्थकहरुले गोर्खा एकताको शक्तिलाई बंगालको बंन्दकि राख्न पाउदैन उनीहरुले आफू गोर्खा हो कि के हो सो बताएर परिचय दिने समय आएकोछ। गोर्खाहरुले उनीहरुलाई गोर्खा समाजदेखि बहिस्कार गर्नुपर्ने सुझाव पनि तिनले दिएकाछन । 
बंगाल सरकारले गोर्खाको आवाजलाई थुन्ने प्रयासमा लोकल च्यानलहरु बन्द गरेर मानव अधिकारको हनन गर्नै इन्टरनेट बन्द गरि गोर्खाल्याण्डको मागलाई दवाउने प्रयास गरिरहेको आरोप शर्माले लगाए। गोर्खाजातिहरु प्रति बंगाल सरकारको राम्रो सोँचछैन भन्ने यो नै प्रत्यक्ष प्रमाण हो यस्तो समय जनता सुतेर होइन जागेर गोर्खाल्याण्डको निम्ति एकजुट भएर पहाड़मा 144 धारा लागे झै पहाड़लाई सन्नाटो पारेर बंगालको कुटनिति र प्रयासलाई बिफल पारि दिने अपिल पनि तिनले गरेकाछन् ।

GTA will pave way for Tripartite talks: Binay... JAP doubts formation of board ...not for Gorkhaland but for tripartite talks on GTA

SNS, DARJEELING, 21 SEPTEMBER: Rebel Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) leader Binay Tamang today welcomed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) board of administrators announced by chief minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday and said that it will pave way for tripartite talks on Gorkhaland. GJMM chief Bimal Gurung, however, slammed the move and said Mr Tamang, 'who himself burnt the GTA agreement ," can go for the tripartite talks as a Trinamul Congressman and not as a GJMM representative.

The Jan Andolan Party (JAP) also maintained that the move could be a ploy so that tripartite talks could be held for the GTA instead.

Addressing a Press conference, Tamang, who has been named as the chairman of the board of administrators said, "In the bipartite meeting held by the state government on 12 September in Siliguri, the chief minister said that the GTA was defunct and that legalities would have to be seen as to with whom tripartite talks should he initiated.
The GTA act states that after completion of the term of the GTA is over and if a situation arises, board of administrators will run the GTA for a period of six months or two years, which is being done now. Looking at all this we feel that the GTA functioning would pave the way for a tripartite talks for Gorkhaland."
Maintaining that dialogues and meetings would be the right way to move ahead wit the statehood demand, Tamang said,"There are issues like peace and normality and development, but we are more concerned about how to move forward with the statehood demand. Earlier, it was me who had filed six cases of interference of the state government in the GTA, but in the triparite talks, this will not be the issue or things like transfer of departments and other things pertaining to the GTA. The board of administrators will only talk about a permanent solution, which is Gorkhaland."
Tamang also appealed to other political parties and other members named in the board of administrators, namely GNLF president Mann Ghisingh and Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai, to take this positively and try to capitalise on it.

It may be added here that the Darjeeling MLA and the GNLF have criticised the formation of the board of administrators with their names in it. When reminded that he was the one to burn the GTA Act and agreement recently, Tamang said, "I do not support GTA and I did burn its agreement and act, but the situation has changed, and right now, it gives us a broad space for tripartite meetings to be initiated."'

Meanwhile, the JAP alleged a conspiracy behind all this and challenged the legalities of tripartite talks with the board of administrators.
"How can tripartite talks be held with a board of administrators which has been chosen by the state government. Only a party with clear people's mandate can join the tripartite meetings, said JAP Bureau member Amar Lama.
The JAP also questioned as to which Morcha camp sits for the tripartite talks, if held. "It should be decided by the election commission and not the state government, but both the Morcha camps are eyeing the GTA," Mr Lama said.
"We are doubtful of the outcome of the bipartite meeting to be held on 16 October, as we were hopeful that would lead the way for tripartite talks for Gorkhaland. Seeing the announcement yesterday, we are, however, only seeing that the earlier talks were only a meeting within a meeting from which the board of GTA administrators was formed.This could all be a ploy to start a tripartite meeting for GTA and not the statehood demand,' said Lama.

ln a video he released to the Press from an undisclosed location, GJMM chief Bimal Gurung appealed to the people to reject Tamang and Anit Thapa, the two Morcha rebel leaders, for accepting to be part of the board of GTA administrators.
"I had warned the people about all this earlier, but they did not believe me, with people in Kurseong also saying that Anit and Bimal are brothers. I stayed quiet and also tried to cover it all up, but despite my efforts to cover them, people now know that they are hand in glove with the state government."

Bimal claims he is still numero uno.... The Hills will not celebrate Dashain and Tihar- Bimal

SMRITA KHAWAS, SNS, SILIGURI, 21 SEPTEMBER 2017: Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung today claimed that he is still calling the shots and that he is still the "Number-1" in the Hills. He said that he can still hand down a good defeat to "anyone" if elections were held.
In a telephone conversation with The Statesman from an undisclosed location, Mr Gurung further said that the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong will not celebrate the Gorkha Community's biggest festival of Dashain/ Dussehra that falls at the end of this month.
Reacting to tourism minister Gautam Deb's remarks today that only a handful of people were protesting the nomination of the new board of administrators for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Mr Gurung said: "I am the leader of the people. I am not a leader without the people.The people love me because the work that is being done right now in perfect coordination between me and the people is being done all too well.The coming days will show who has what kind of a support in the Hills."
Any election whether MP, MLA, I will show that my opponents are defeated," he claimed.
According to him, home minister Rajnath Singh will send a letter by Saturday, setting a date for the tripartite meeting, wherein he will also appeal the GJMM to lift the indefinite strike that enters its 100th day tomorrow. Asked if the shut down will end before the Pujas, he said he cannot say for sure if the strike will be lifted anytime soon.
On the GTA board, he said that the Gorkhaland agitation is being led by the public and the public will decide what to accept and what to reject.
On the festivals and the possibility of the strike being withdrawn, he said: "The Hills will not celebrate Dashain and Tihar (Diwali) this year. This year's festivals will be dedicated to the 11 martyrs who laid their lives for Gorkhaland (in the recent bout of the agitation)."
He further said that Binay Taming can "of course' join the tripartite talks, if held, "but he has to do so as a 'Trinamul Congress man and not as a GJMM representative.'
"It was Bimal Gurung who gave birth to the GJMM by unfurling the party flag at the Darjeeling  Motorstand, and traitors cannot use my party's flag," he said.

Ghisingh snubs GTA offer

AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, Sept. 21: GNLF chief Mann Ghisingh today objected to the Bengal government's decision to include him in the board of administrators to run the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, saying he had not been consulted.
"It was a unilateral decision and I was never consulted. My party leaders had made that clear yesterday but I felt the need to speak to the media to clarify my stand. The GNLF has always objected to the formation of the GTA and considers it an illegal body. Under no circumstance will I join the board as a member," Ghisingh said this evening.
Ghisingh, whose letter to the Bengal government had paved the way for the bipartite talks, said the decision to form the board had put the negotiations in a jeopardy.
"I had no inkling that the state is planning to form such a board and that I would be included in it. We still believe in restoration of normality in the hills and want the agitation for statehood to continue simultaneously. But this sudden decision, we believe, has jeopardised the negotiation process," said the GNLF chief.
In a meeting today, GNLF leaders discussed whether there was any "justification" in attending the next rounds of talks with the government on October 16.
"We will hold another meeting of the central committee tomorrow and take a final decision," Ghisingh said.

Darjeeling Hill tea workers to get 19.75% bonus

MP |  21 Sep 2017, Darjeeling: A hurricane meeting at Uttarkanya in Siliguri, held on the directions of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, made positive headway to resolve the issue of annual bonus for the Darjeeling tea industry. 
The stakeholders agreed on 19.75 percent bonus. However, till the filing of this report, the number of installments that the bonus would be disbursed was not agreed upon. 
The meeting had commenced at 2 pm at Uttarkanya, the mini Secretariat near Siliguri, with different tea garden unions; the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) representing the management and the State Labour Commissioner attending it. 
Negotiations continued well into the night with all the sides agreeing to give 19.75 percent bonus. The Darjeeling Tea Association then stated that as soon as the gardens would become operational, bonus would be disbursed immediately.
This led to a war of words with the tea unions demanding that the DTA clarify what they mean by "immediate." With the DTA's remark that bonus would be disbursed in four installments after the gardens become operational, a fresh round of debate ensued. Darjeeling Himalayan Plantation Union affiliated to the GNLF demanded that 20 percent bonus be paid in a single installment. The representatives of the trade union affiliated to the GJM demanded 20 percent bonus but added that they would agree to two installments — one before Dussehra and the other before Diwali.
The CITU-affiliated trade union also demanded that bonus be paid in a single installment. With differences in opinion, the DTA representatives walked out allowing the unions to sit among themselves and come to an understanding regarding the number of installments. 
There are 87 tea gardens in the Darjeeling Hills. Incidentally, all the gardens have remained closed for the past three months owing to the ongoing indefinite bandh called by the GJM in support of Gorkhaland. However, three days ago around five gardens had become operational in the Kurseong belt. Last year, the gardens had received 19 percent bonus. 
Representatives of unions affiliated to both the Bimal Gurung and Binay Tamang factions of the GJM; GNLF; CPIM; TMC; JAP and the CPRM attended Thursday's meet.

Ghisingh snubs GTA offer

AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, Sept. 21: GNLF chief Mann Ghisingh today objected to the Bengal government's decision to include him in the board of administrators to run the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, saying he had not been consulted.
"It was a unilateral decision and I was never consulted. My party leaders had made that clear yesterday but I felt the need to speak to the media to clarify my stand. The GNLF has always objected to the formation of the GTA and considers it an illegal body. Under no circumstance will I join the board as a member," Ghisingh said this evening.
Ghisingh, whose letter to the Bengal government had paved the way for the bipartite talks, said the decision to form the board had put the negotiations in a jeopardy.
"I had no inkling that the state is planning to form such a board and that I would be included in it. We still believe in restoration of normality in the hills and want the agitation for statehood to continue simultaneously. But this sudden decision, we believe, has jeopardised the negotiation process," said the GNLF chief.
In a meeting today, GNLF leaders discussed whether there was any "justification" in attending the next rounds of talks with the government on October 16.
"We will hold another meeting of the central committee tomorrow and take a final decision," Ghisingh said.

Meeting on hill tea bonus

The meeting in progress in Siliguri. (Passang Yolmo)
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 21: Tea garden workers in the hills are likely to get a bonus of 19.75 per cent in two instalments, sources present in a meeting that continued well past midnight said.
The planters had initially said they would pay the bonus in four instalments but the suggestion was rejected by the trade union leaders who insisted on two.
Around midnight, it was decided that the workers would get the first instalment before the Pujas and the decision on the next would be taken in a meeting on October 14.
"The trade union leaders kept on insisting that the second part of the bonus be paid before Diwali, which is on October 19. The meeting stretched so long because a consensus on the second instalment could not be reached at for hours," said a source present at the meeting in Siliguri.
The bonus rate of 19.75 per cent is the same as the amount that would be paid to workers in the Dooars and Terai.
The meeting today, convened by state labour commissioner Javed Akhtar, had started around 2pm. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced a couple of days ago that the bonus of the hill tea garden workers would be settled at the meeting today.
"Tea workers in the hills have not received wages for the past three months because of the shutdown. They had been banking on the bonus largely to help them tide over the financial crisis to some extent," said a trade union leader.
There are 87 tea estates in the Darjeeling hills that employ around 55,000 permanent workers.

Binay: Board to open talks door - Contradicting reactions by administrators named by govt to run hill body

TT, Calcutta, Sept. 21: Binay Tamang today described the formation of the board of administrators for the hills as "a positive step" and projected it as a gateway to tripartite talks on the sole issue of Gorkhaland.
"The formation of the board is a positive step forward as it has now opened the doors for a tripartite meeting for Gorkhaland. In spite of representing the board at the tripartite meeting, we will not talk about the powers and functions of the GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) but will press for a permanent settlement, which can be nothing but Gorkhaland," he said.
Tamang, who has been named the chairman of the board by the Mamata Banerjee government, was clearly trying to pacify the hill constituency, given the prevailing pro-statehood mood in the hills.
The dissident Morcha leader said the GTA had been accepted in 2011 as "an interim arrangement" and that the aspiration of the hill people would be fulfilled only by "a permanent settlement".
Tamang justified his decision to accept the post of the chairman of the board, saying that it was time for the hill leaders to move forward "tactfully and strategically".
"Leaders should not cause hardship to the people to achieve Gorkhaland but in this present situation, one has to move forward tactfully and strategically.... In a democratic set-up, one should not close all roads to talks," he said.
He sounded confident that the board would be invited to the tripartite talks as and when they were convened.
"Along with the board, we feel it would be better if other hill political parties are also invited to the tripartite talks," he said.
"Development is not a priority right now. Even if development work is carried out, we must never forget the statehood issue," said Tamang.
"There are allegations that we are indulging in politics of chair but we need to understand the strategies of the state and the Centre and accordingly, we must prepare our own strategy," he said.
Bimal Gurung, the Morcha president, said the veil had been ripped on the intentions of the Tamang camp.
"For over a month, I had doubts on their intention and their nomination has made it clear that they had all along, indulged in the politics of chair. The people must not forgive them," Gurung said in a video message.
Amar Lama, bureau member of the Jan Andolan Party, said the state government's decision was "regrettable" and raised questions on the success of the October 16 bipartite meeting.

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