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14 Jul 2017

Awards returned in statehood cry

KS Moktan (left) and Karma Yonzone with their awards in Darjeeling on Thursday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, July 13: Three prominent faces of Darjeeling today returned awards the state government had conferred on them.
"We support the (statehood) movement and we are returning the awards in protest against the state's oppression. The demand for a separate state is constitutionally right," said K.S Moktan, a retired government official and writer.
Moktan was recognised with the Bhanu Puraskar in 2004 and the Banga Ratna in 2014 for his literary works.
The two others who returned their awards were Karma Yonzone, a music composer who was awarded the Sangeet Samman in 2016, and Prabhat Pradhan, a former principal of Kurseong College.
Pradhan was given the Siksha Ratna in 2015 for his contribution to academics.
"The three personalities handed over the awards to the Nepali Sahitya Sammelan, which will return them to the government," an official said.
The return of the awards came amid reports of several incidents of arson and vandalism across the hills over the past 24 hours.
At Chowrasta in Darjeeling, the tourism information centre of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was set on fire last night. This is the second time that the centre was torched, the last being in 2013.
The Gayabari railway station and a forest range office at Dhotray in the Darjeeling hills were also set ablaze. Suspected Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters ransacked a police outpost at Poongsong on the outskirts of Darjeeling town.
In Kalimpong and surrounding areas, similar incidents of arson were reported.
In another incident, about 20 trucks ferrying goods to Sikkim from Siliguri were attacked on NH10. The attackers assaulted the drivers, smashed the windscreens of the trucks and also robbed some of them.
The hill parties alleged that that attack on the truckers was a conspiracy by Trinamul to create fissures between the people of the region and those in Sikkim.
Hill Trinamul leaders denied the allegation.
"None of our supporters and leaders has the courage to carry out such an attack. We are being threatened and many of us have fled to Siliguri," a hill Trinamul leader said.
Yechury talks plea
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury today wrote to Union home minister Rajnath Singh calling for tripartite talks involving the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, central and state governments.

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