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19 Sep 2017

Hill tea garden K'pong Municipality reopened....Works resumed in 5 tea gardens, all municipality and other state government offices

SNS, 18 September Kuresong/ Kalimpong: The Castleton Tea Estate near Kurseong town reopened today after closing for over three months following the indefinite shutdown call for the Gorkhaland agitation in the hills in early June. The Kalimpong Municipality too, opened today after three months.
With today's development in Kurseong amid very tight security, a total of five tea estates under the Kurseong sub-division, including Marionbarie and Simulbarie Tea Estates, in the foothills, have resumed work so far. Rohini and Longview Tea Estates reopened a few weeks ago.
At the Castleton tea estate, a section of workers and staff mainly undertook cleaning work in the factory, offices and the gardens today.
However, a section of the tea workers there are against the resumption of the work, as they feel that the shut-down called as part of the statehood stir should not be lifted untill some "positive" results come up.
Sources, however, said that the dominant group in the garden belongs to the Anit Thapa faction of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM). It may be mentioned that Mr Thapa, the rebel GJMM leader, along with another rebel leader, Binay Tamang, have been requesting people to bring back normality in the Hills by opening shops, schools and plying vehicles.
"We presently have 3,300 types of ready made tea of different qualities worth Rs 29 lakh, which had been kept ready for sale before the bandh started. However, the shutdown and the closure of the garden led to the tea gathering fungus," management sources said.
A worker, meanwhile, claimed that the Castleton Tea Estate management provided them with full medical facilities during the closure too.
In Kalimpong the gates of the municipality office opened after more than three months today, even as the town has been filled with trash dumped in almost every nook and cranny.
Municipality sources said garbage collection had become a problem after they failed to get fuel for their vehicles that would lift the waste from the roadsides.
It may be mentioned that the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) formed the board in the Kalimpong Municipality after it won the civic elections recently. However, after the oath-taking ceremony, the elected body was able to sit for one board meeting only before the indefinite shutdown began in the Hills.
"The office opened today after along time and employees have turned up. Normal work will start soon," Municipality executive officer Diptendu Shekhar Das who joined work on 16 August, said.
The municipality has 35 employees, out of whom 79 were present today. The elected body did not report, it is learnt.
Suva Pradhan, the Municipality Chairman, later said he was not informed by the municipality executive officer regarding the opening of the office today. "Employees from the sanitation and conservation departments gave me a call saying that dengue has spread in the town and they have to fog areas and sprinkle bleaching powder. I did not officially allow them to open the office,' Mr Pradhan said.
According to him, officials who opened the offices today cannot perform any work as the "signing authority is with the elected body and not government officials.'
"The body will not cooperate with the officials until the strike is officially withdrawn," he added.

TOP Leader says Hills may wait til 16 October

SNS, SILIGURI,16 SEPTEMBER: A senior leader of a prominent Hill based political party, an arch rival of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), today gave three reasons for the indefinite shut down to go on, despite peoples sufferings and efforts to have it lifted.
According to the leader, it is yet to be seen if GJMM chief Bimal Gurung plans to give people some respite from the shutdown during Durga Puja (Dashain Festival in the Hills),but, according to him, a large section of the people want to wait until the third bipartite meeting which is scheduled to be convened by chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna on 16 October. The decision to hold such talks was taken during the second round of meeting between the state government and some Hill leaders at Uttarkanya in Siliguri on 12 September.
The leader said pro-Gorkhaland people want to wait and watch and continue with the shut down until 16 October, Another argument that he put forth for the strike to continue was that hardcore Gorkhaland activists are still supporting the GJMM chief's decision to continue with the shutdown. And thirdly,"people, who want to open their business establishments, are still fearing fresh attacks on them due to lack of adequate security"
How long will the police be able to protect them. Some people, who opened the shops, finally downed shutters after a few hours, he said.
The leader further said that the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) president, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who was speaking on the statehood demand, requested Miss Banerjee during the meeting at Uttarkanya to repeal the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)Act and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Act, as people have 'rejected' the latter by burning copies of the GTA Act.
The JAP president had, himself, said earlier: "... All stakeholders, that is what we Feel, should be present ....participate in the discussions and whatever conclusion comes out of this, everyone will bear equal responsibility. For that reason onlywe have requested all parties to come."

Don’t believe or forward WhatsApp messages without verification: Rajnath Singh

Home minister Rajnath Singh.PTI, New Delhi, 18 September 2017: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said anti-national elements have been trying to foment tension in the society by posting unverified information on social media and asked people not to forward such messages without verification.

Singh said information and news, that was completely wrong or having no basis, was being regularly circulated on social media such as WhatsApp and many people consider it to be true.

“I want to tell SSB jawans not to believe such messages and forward to anyone without verification as anti-national elements have been trying to foment trouble in the society. We all have to be careful before believing or forwarding them,” he said after launching the intelligence wing of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) here.

Lauding the role of the SSB, which guards the 1,751 km- long Indo-Nepal and the 699 km-long Indo-Bhutan borders, Singh said it is very tough to guard such open borders, which allow visa-free movement of people, than fenced borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“In an open border, the security-men do not know who is anti-national, which way a criminal is coming or who is carrying fake currency or fake drugs,” he said.

Referring to his earlier announcement that the family of each martyred paramilitary solider will get at least Rs one crore as compensation, the home minister said he was contemplating to “do something” for those serving personnel who face an emergency situation but are unable to cope up with it and need help.

“I am also thinking to do something and I will certainly do it,” he said amidst applause from about 1,000 guests, mostly serving and retired personnel from different paramilitary forces.

Earlier, the home minister launched the the SSB’s first- ever intelligence wing, which will gather information along the borders with Bhutan and Nepal, which are often used by criminals and Kashmiri militants returning from Pakistan.

The intelligence wing will have 650 field and staff agents to gather actionable information.

Due to the visa-free regime, India has with Nepal and Bhutan, there is a trans-border movement of criminals and anti-national elements which pose a major challenge, a home ministry official said.

As many as 230 former Kashmiri militants, based in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, have returned home through the Indo-Nepal border since 2010.
The Indo-Bhutan border is known to be frequented by the Assam-based insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has even attacked Bhutanese nationals in the past.

The SSB has also been declared as the lead intelligence agency for both the borders. Thus, the central government felt that a well-knit intelligence network of the highest capability that can function and deliver would be the prime requirement for comprehensive border management.

This was essential as the SSB’s operations are based on intelligence to prevent criminals and smugglers from taking advantage of the friendly borders with Nepal and Bhutan, the official said.

Demand for Gorkhaland: Stress and anxiety cases increase as Darjeeling bandh races towards 100 days

A paramilitary officer stands guard during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for separate Gorkhaland in Kalimpong earlier this month.Pramod Giri, HT, Siliguri, 18 September 2017: Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison.

When political parties enforce a one-day bandh, people usually take it as a holiday and play n the streets. But stretch it to 100, and the results can be depression and stress. Psychiatrists, counsellors and teachers have started reporting cases of stress and anxiety in the north Bengal hills as the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills race towards the century mark.

Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison. Financial insecurity, political instability and disruption of Internet services have compounded the sufferings of the people.

Dr Nirmal Kumar Bera the head of psychiatrist department, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital said the overall situation in Darjeeling hills have led to increased levels of anxiety and trauma among the masses. “I have started getting regular calls from people in the hills. They complain of stress. They are also feeling isolated. If this is not checked, would lead to grave state of depression,” Bera told HT.

“With everything coming to standstill, and nothing to do outside home, I am feeling traumatic. I always had low blood pressure, but for last couple of weeks I have developed high blood pressure and started taking medicine,” said Sudha Chettri, a teacher in a government-run high school and a mother of two.

“That the agitation is going nowhere despite whole hearted support of people has hurt me a lot. My three children are sitting idle. The essential commodities needed to run the household are almost non-existent. My husband is not getting salary for three months,” said Rita Gurung, a mother of three.

Phurba Tamang, a resident of Kalimpong who is a state government employee does not know what would happen as Dussera the biggest festival of the Gorkhas / Nepalis is round the corner. “Whatever small savings we had are already spent to meet the daily expenses. I have a son who studies in class 12. He has become irritable. The family members are trying their best to cope up with the hardships.”

A duty nurse at Bijanbari block primary health centre said on conditions of anonymity that even 10-11-year-olds have started suffering from high blood pressure, heart burn and head ache.  

Dr Bera’s concern is corroborated by two of his colleagues in Siliguri and Gangtok. 

“People in the hills are feeling low. A situation of hopelessness, loss and doom have left many psychologically drained,” said Dr Shantanu De, a practising psychiatrist for last 18 years. 

 Dr C L Pradhan, a psychiatrist based in Gangtok said, “A severely disrupted social life and sense of isolation would lead to anxiety disorders. A shutdown for more than three months is a challenge for anybody. Women are more likely to suffer from stress due to uncertainties of life.” 

Pradhan also cautioned that there are strong chances of relapse among psychiatrist patients who could not visit the doctors due to the ongoing bandh.

Organisers brave bandh, Bengali community prepare for Durga Puja celebrations in Hills

Organisers brave bandh, prepare 
for Durga Puja celebrations in HillsMP |  19 Sep 2017, Darjeeling: The ongoing bandh will not be a deterrent to the Durga Pujas in the Hills steeped in tradition. The organisers of the pujas in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong will be hosting the pujas like every other year. 

There was a lot of uncertainty revolving around the festival in Kurseong. On July 19 this year, the iconic Rajrajeshwari Hall was set on fire by unknown miscreants. The Hall was the venue of the Durga Puja in Kurseong which will hit the 101-year mark this year.

"As the Hall has been razed to the ground, the puja will take place in a pandal in the place where the Hall stood. The puja will be held on a very small scale this year owing to the ongoing indefinite strike. We have manpower constraints as well as monetary issues. However, we have decided to go ahead with the more than 100-year-old puja," stated Arun Mohan Ghosh, secretary of the Bengali Association of Kurseong. 

The Rajrajeshwari Hall under the Bengali Association of Kurseong had a rich history. Rai Bahadur Sashi Bhusan Dey had started a tuberculosis sanatorium in Kurseong, in memory of his late son who had died from this disease. While he was at Kurseong, the local Bengalis approached him for his patronage in constructing a Hall for the Bengali Association to meet.

Being a philanthropist, he built the Rajrajeshwari Hall in the name of his wife just below the TB sanatorium. Thus, the Rajrajeshwari Hall was built in 1930. The Durga Puja of the Bengali Association used to be organised at this place since 1930. 2016 marked the centenary of the puja.

The Durga Puja organised by the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall in Darjeeling hits the 103-year mark this year. The puja is steeped in tradition. 

NNBHH, located at Chandmari, was built in 1890. With a two-storeyed structure, it has a spacious hall where public meetings of the Hindu community were held. The temple, located at the premises of the hall, was constructed in 1891. It was the Maharaja of Cooch Behar who donated the money to construct the hall. 

It was later named Nripendra Narayan Hall in his memory. Seven years later, people began celebrating Durga Puja in the temple. During the course of time, personalities such as Swami Vivekananada, Sister Nivedita, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Acharya J C Bose visited the hall. It is said even legendary singer K L Saigal had once offered pushpanjali during Durga Puja. 

"We will continue with the puja but it will be toned down this year owing to the ongoing strife and the bandh. We have already booked the idol at Kumortuli, Siliguri," stated Saibal Chakroborty, an organiser. 

The puja at Kalimpong organised by Milani Club hits the 89th-year mark this year. They too will organise the puja at Kalimpong Thakurbari Temple this year on a humble scale.

Tea Inc eyes Sep 21 tripartite meeting for Hills strike relief

Sovon Manna| TNN | Sep 19, 2017, Kolkata: State chief secretary Malay De has called a tripartite meeting on September 21 in Siliguri to discuss the ways to reach a consensus on tea workers' bonus and resuming work at the 87 Hills tea gardens. The move came on a day when chief minister Mamata Banerjee pushed tea industry stakeholders to bring back normality in the Hills with her "open-the-gardens-or-face-action" warning.
According to industry insiders, the chief minister on Monday made her intention clear to all the stakeholders — owners, workers and political outfits. A group of 20 owners of Darjeeling tea gardens called on the chief secretary at Nabanna on Monday following the CM's meeting with Hills leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa.
"Besides all the industry stakeholders, the state labour commissioner will also be there at the meeting to give his inputs on bonus issues. However, I don't want to take any serious action (against the owners) as I believe they would solve the problem at the tripartite meeting," the CM said.
Arijit Raha, secretary-general of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), said ITA members of Darjeeling will attend the September 21 meeting. "We will definitely try to find out a solution. Despite the low cash reserve owing to the huge crop losses this year, we are confident that the CM's effort will bear fruit," Raha added.
Goodricke MD A N Singh told TOI: "We haven't closed our gardens. The workers will be given work as and when they come to our estates. Regarding payment of bonus or wage, we need to calculate first. But who will make the book? What will happen to our office-bearers' and clerks' safety? From where will the money come as all garden banks are closed now?"
Owner of a leading tea garden in Darjeeling said: "Paying bonus depends on allocable surplus of the tea garden's account, which we don't have much. The garden owners of the Dooars and Terai have reached a bonus agreement of 19.75% this year, but we are not in a position of paying even the minimum level (8.33%) of bonus to our employees. But as it is an important emotional aspect, we have to reach a consensus on the 21st meet."
Experts feel that it will not be easy to reach a consensus. "Till the tripartite meeting happens, we are unable to comment anything. The books are not ready. But we will still try and pay bonus to those workers who will join work," said another garden owner.

Binay meets CM before Delhi trip - Bimal tells rebel leader not to use Morcha banner

Mamata with Tamang (left) and Thapa after the meeting in Nabanna. Picture by Shyamal Maitra
TT, Calcutta, Sept. 18: Rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa today met Mamata Banerjee in Calcutta before heading for Delhi, following which Bimal Gurung released a letter asking the expelled duo "not to use the party banner".
It was not immediately clear why Tamang and Thapa went to Delhi but sources in the state secretariat in Nabanna said the two had held discussions with the chief minister on the stand they should take in the capital.
"The state government wants to promote Tamang as the main leader in the hills because he is not a hardliner like Gurung.... The strategy appears to be working so far as the effect of the strike is gradually fading in the region," said an official at Nabanna.
"The meeting in Calcutta was to ensure that Tamang gets due importance in Delhi," the official added.
With the state government appearing to acknowledge the rebel leaders, their sudden decision to leave for Delhi caused a flutter in the Gurung camp.
"Yes, we will be leaving for Delhi later this evening. We have an important but unofficial meeting at 11.30pm today. We will return tomorrow," Tamang said over the phone after the Nabanna meeting.
He, however, refused to divulge details, but political analysts said the Tamang camp was trying hard to set the ball rolling for a tripartite meeting involving the Centre.
"The Gurung lobby is also trying hard for a tripartite meeting. But if the Tamang camp manages to get to court the Centre, it would be a huge setback for the rival group," said an observer.
Later in the afternoon, Morcha chief Gurung issued a letter to Tamang and Thapa, and directed them to stop using the Morcha's banner.
The letter, signed by Gurung, was read out to journalists in Darjeeling by Yuva Morcha president Prakash Gurung from an undisclosed location. "You are directed not to use using the party banner, letter pad and party position," the letter said.
"We will immediately send these letters to Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa," Prakash said.
Sources said Gurung and his supporters were worried over a section of the hill residents responding to appeals by the Tamang lobby to defy the strike.
"The rebels are making some impact. Schools in Kurseong started holding classes from today, they are working on granting bonus to the tea garden workers and employees have started attending offices. Where is the shutdown? These developments are bound to worry the Gurung camp," an observer said.

Mamata wants tea gardens to open... meeting on bonus on 21 ... teagarden workers joining duty... 15 ICSE schools in Kurseong reopened

TT, Calcutta, Sept. 18: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said the government had asked tea planters in the hills to reopen the estates at the earliest and pay bonus to workers before Durga Puja.
The chief minister made the announcement after a meeting with Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa, saying the expelled Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders had wanted to know what steps the government had taken to pacify the workers in the tea estates that have remained closed for almost the entire three-month-long strike.
"We informed them that the chief secretary had already held a meeting with tea planters and trade union leaders and made the government's stand clear. The workers should be given bonus before Puja and the planters have been asked to make the gardens functional at the earliest," Mamata said after the meeting.
The chief minister said the issues about reopening the estates and the bonus were likely to be settled at a tripartite meeting convened by the state labour commissioner with the planters and the trade unions in Siliguri on September 21.
Tamang's attempt to warm up to the garden workers by raising their issues is crucial at a time the Morcha is divided over whether to support the strike or defy it.
While the Bimal Gurung camp is against any attempt to soften the stand on the statehood agitation, Tamang has appealed to sections of the society to make a bid towards returning to normality.
The government's acknowledgement of Tamang and his concerns has added to the efforts by the expelled leader.
That a section of tea garden workers want the strike to end became evident today when some employees of Castleton, a tea estate owned by the Goodricke Group on the outskirts of Kurseong town, joined work.
"In one division of the Castleton Tea Estate, 70 of the 217 workers offered to work. They will be paid as they worked through the day," said Mohan Chhetri, a secretary of the Indian Tea Association.
Tea estate owners have voiced concern over payment of bonus to the workers. The tea industry has been among the hardest hit by the strike and has lost almost its entire production for the season.
In Kurseong, most of the 15 ICSE schools reopened for the first time today since the agitation started in the middle of June. The schools had been imparting "coaching" to students of Classes IX-XII at special camps.

Power production resumes in ... NHPC reproducing electricity from both power plants closed during the strike

TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 18: Officials of the NHPC have said they resumed operations at two hydel power projects on the Teesta river, two months after they had been shut down by Gorkhaland supporters.
D. Chattopadhyay, the executive director of the NHPC posted in Siliguri, today said: "We resumed operations at TLDP (Teesta Low Dam Project) III (132MW) at Rambi on September 14 and TLDP-IV (160MW) at Kalijhora the following day. Power production is going on in full swing on both the sites."
As the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha renewed its agitation for the statehood in June and announced an indefinite strike, both the places witnessed frequent demonstrations. Ultimately, the NHPC that sells electricity to the Bengal government was forced to halt the power production at Kalijhora on July 13 and at Rambi a day earlier.
Kalijhora is 20km from Siliguri, while Rambi is further 20km uphill.
"We were left with little options then. But now, there is a change in the situation. So, we have resumed work on both the sites. The state is also co-operating with us and so far, there haven't been any fresh protests or demonstrations," said an NHPC official.
The Kalijhora and Rambi projects together generate around 1,300 million units of power a year.
The resumption of the power generation is yet another indication that the situation has started becoming normal in the hills, said observers.
A source in the NHPC said because of the abrupt closure of the two sites, there was a loss of about Rs 180 crore in the past two months.
However, work at two other hydel projects which are owned by the state government and a private-operated project, all of which are in the hills, are still close.

Darjeeling dips, Nepal refills... Nepalese tea sold is 100%

Debraj Mitra and Sambit Saha, TT, Calcutta, Sept. 18: Stores in Calcutta are scraping their Darjeeling tea containers and some are spooning out a Nepalese variety. " Karo Poush mash, karo sarbanash (mirth for one, ruin for another)," lamented a storeowner in south Calcutta as he sold his last carton of Darjeeling and told his customer about the impending Nepal invasion.

The shutdown in the hills, nearing the 100-day mark, is now telling on shop shelves in Calcutta. Post-Diwali, there could be no Darjeeling available in the city, some storeowners said.

Industry and retail sources have said that Nepal stands to benefit the most in such a situation. A kilo of Nepalese tea, which sold for Rs 500 in April, is fetching nearly Rs 800 now.

"As Darjeeling disappears, Nepalese tea will increasingly take its place although it has none of Darjeeling's subtleties," said Rabindranath De, director of Star Tea Co, one of the oldest players in the market. De does not sell Nepalese tea but said he would in all likelihood be forced to stock up after the Pujas.

Several traders are trying to offset the shortage by procuring larger quantities of Nepalese tea, which can be mistaken for Darjeeling by the "not-so-discerning".

"Till a few months ago, the ratio of Darjeeling and Nepalese tea sold by us was 60:40. Now it is almost 100 per cent Nepalese tea," said Surath Saha, co-owner of B.K. Saha & Bros, a nearly-century old wholesaler on Brabourne Road.

Nepal isn't alone. There is Sikkim, too, which has a distinct flavour and a loyal fan base. But with a lone garden in Temi, Sikkim lacks the volumes and cannot substitute for Darjeeling, the sources said.

Some stores in Calcutta said they do have Darjeeling but mostly varieties that cost over Rs 2,000 a kilo. Big retailers are trying to preserve their stocks for regular customers and avoiding bulk sales.

But some industry analysts took the claims of stocks with a pinch of salt. They said that the Calcutta market was usually supplied with low-quality Darjeeling and the possibility of stocks still being available was remote. "What is being sold must be last year's stocks or blended," said an analyst.

In 2016, around 2.4 million kilos of Darjeeling tea were sold in auctions in Calcutta. This year, the figure has been around 6 lakh kilos so far. "No tea could be plucked after the initial second flush production," said Kaushik Basu, general secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association.

Garden owners warned that the strike would have a cascading effect on next year's production as well. The bushes have grown too long, requiring deep pruning, which in turn can potentially thwart the growth of new leaf, leading to lower crop production.

Even if the strike is withdrawn tomorrow, supplies from Darjeeling are unlikely to hit the market before mid-March next year.

18 Sep 2017

Hills strike fate is up to people: Ex-GJM leader

TNN | Sep 18, 2017, KOLKATA/ Darjeeling: Amid threats against lifting the strike that has crippled the Hills, expelled Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Anit Thapa held a public meeting near Kurseong railway station on Sunday to speak out against the strike to press for Gorkhaland and appealed to people's conscience to decide whether to continue suffering the strike or oppose it.
"I believe in a peaceful and democratic agitation for Gorkhaland. But with the indefinite strike now entering the fourth month, people — including tea garden and cinchona plantations workers — are fed up. The strike has taken a massive toll. I know Gorkhaland is the sentiment of the people. So I leave it to you, the people of Darjeeling, to take a call on withdrawing the strike," said the former GJM central committee leader from Kurseong.
Thapa and Binay Tamang, former chief coordinator of GJM, have distanced themselves from party president Bimal Gurung, who is currently on the run. Police have issued look-out notices against him. Till date, 44 GJM supporters have been arrested on charges of attempt to murder and vandalism. Police did not allow rallies by agitators in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong on Sunday.
The two rebel GJM leaders had attended the bipartite meetings with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on August 29 and September 12 along with other Hills parties. While they kept the Gorkhaland demand a priority, Thapa and Tamang spoke in favour of lifting the strike to restore normal life in the Hills.
But threats and intimidations against the lifting of strike continue. In Darjeeling town on Sunday, posters issued by "janta" were put up at the Chowk Bazar, warming of dire consequence if the strike was lifted before talks on separate statehood is initiated. The poster also claimed school principals and government and bank employees would have to bear responsibility for any untoward incidents that could occur if their premises were opened. A counter-poster too was found demanding the bandh's withdrawal.
"We don't know whom to believe. We are confused now. Let's see what happens," said a trader. Schools continued to be undecided though agitators had permitted special classes for students appearing for board examinations.
GJM Sonada-Pachyang unit president Ramesh Tamang alleged police had ransacked his house on Saturday night. "I was not home when police came and smashed window panes. My family members were also threatened. Perhaps, police are targeting me because I am organizing rallies for Gorkhaland in Sonada," he said over phone from an undisclosed location. Police refused comment on the allegation.

खोलियो कालेबुङ नगरपालिका कार्यालय .... औपचारिक बन्द नखोलिएसम्म हामी सहयोग गर्दैनौँ – शुभ प्रधान

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ 18 सितम्बर। गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाको दखलमा रहेको कालेबुङ नगरपालिका कार्यालय तीन महिना भन्दा धेर समयसम्म बन्द भएपछि आज खोलिएको छ। पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकारद्वारा नियुक्त गरिएका नगरपालिका कार्यकारी अधिकारी दिपेन्दु शेखर दासले आज कालेबुङ नगरपालिका कार्यालय खोलेका हुन्।
अनिश्चितकालिन बन्द भन्दा अघिदेखि बन्द भएको नगरपालिका कार्यालय तीन महिना भन्दा धेर समयपछि खोलिए पनि जनताद्वारा चुनिएका नगरपार्षदहरू भने कार्यालयमा उपस्थित भएनन्। तीन महिना पछि खोलिएको कार्यालयमा 79 जना कर्मचारीवर्गले आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिएको उनले दाबी गरेका छन्।
‘बन्द पछि आज प्रथमचोटि नगरपालिका कार्यलय खोलिएको छ। कार्यालय खोलिपछि कर्मचारीवर्ग आफ्नो कार्यस्थलमा आएका छन्। कार्यालय खोलिएपछि अब चाँढै सम्पूर्ण कार्यहरू सुचारू बन्नेछ भन्ने विश्वास गरेका छौँ’ कार्यकारी अधिकारी दिपेन्दु शेखर दासले भने।
उनले नगरपालिका कार्यालयमा मोठ 85 जना कर्मचारीवर्ग रहेको बताउँदै त्यसमध्ये 79 जनाले आफ्नो उपस्थिति दिएको दाबी गरे। बन्द पछि आज कार्यालय खोलिए पनि कार्यालयभित्र कुनै कार्य भने हुन सकेन। लामो समयसम्म बन्द रहेको कारण कार्यालय सफाई गर्नपर्ने आवश्यक्ता भएको कारण आज कार्यालयभित्र सफाई कार्य भएको उनले बताए। नगरपालिका भित्र रहेका कर्मचारीवर्ग आफ्नो कार्यमा फर्किएर काम गर्न उत्सुक रहेको पनि अधिकारी दासले दाबी गरेका छन्।
अर्कोतर्फ कालेबुङ नगरपालिका कार्यालय अनिश्चितकालिन बन्द अवधीकै समयमा खोलिएपछि नगरपालिका अध्यक्ष शुभ प्रधानसँग जान्न चाहँदा उनले कार्यालय खोल्नका निम्ति कार्यकारी अधिकारीबाट कुनै औपचारिक जानकारी नभएको बताएका छन्। ‘शहरमा दिनोदिन मैला थुप्रिरहेको छ। बन्दको कारण शहरमा रहेको सम्पूर्ण मैला व्यवस्थापन गर्न सकिरहेको छैन। सफाई कर्मचारीवर्गले दैनिक आफ्ना कार्य गरिरहे पनि उनीहरूले कार्यालय बन्दको कारण आफ्नो उपस्थिति दर्ता गर्न सकेका थिएनन। सोहि कारण सफाई कर्मीहरूको उपस्थिति दर्ता गर्न कार्यालय खोल्ने कर्मचारीवर्गले जानकारी दिएका थिए। उनीहरूलाई मैले कार्यालय खोल्ने औपचारिक स्वीकृती नदिएर आफ्नै जिम्मवारीमा खोल्न सक्ने बताएको थिएँ’ नगरपालिका अध्यक्ष शुभ प्रधानले भने। 
शहरको सफाई जनताको स्वास्थ्यसँग जोडिएको विषय भएको कारण अनि हाल कालेबुङ शहरमा डेङ्गगी रोगको आतङ्क समेत फैलिरहेको अवस्थामा स्वास्थ्य कर्मीहरूले शहरमा फगिङ गर्नुपर्ने आवश्यक्ता रहेको कारण उक्त सामाग्रीहरू निकाल्नका निम्ति पनि कार्यालय खोलेको उनले बताएका छन्। उनले नगरपालिका जनताद्वारा निर्वाचित सदस्यहरूले सञ्चालन गर्ने बोर्ड भएको कारण निर्वाचित बोर्डको अनुपस्थितिमा पश्चिमबङ्गाल सरकारद्वारा नियुक्ति गरिएको अधिकारीवर्गको उपस्थितिले कुनै फरक नपर्ने पनि नगर अध्यक्ष प्रधानले दाबी गरेका छन्। 
 ‘पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकारद्वारा नियुक्ति पाएका अधिकारीवर्गले कार्यालय खोले पनि निर्वाचित बोर्डले उनीहरूलाई कुनै सहयोग गर्नेछैन। जबसम्म अनिश्चितकालिन बन्द औपचारिक रूपले फिर्ता भएर स्वाभाविक परिस्थिति बनिन्दैन तबसम्म हामी अधिकारीवर्गलाई सहयोग गर्नेछैनौँ’ नगरपालिका अध्यक्ष शुभ प्रधानले भने।
स्मरण रहोस, कालेबुङ नगरपालिका अहिले गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाको दखलमा रहेको छ। नगरपालिकाको 23 वटा वार्डहरू मध्ये गोजमुमो पार्टीले 19 आसनमा जित हासिल गरेर बोर्ड बनाएको छ। त्यसमध्ये 2 वटा आसनबाट बिजयी बनेका तृणमूल कङ्ग्रेस पार्टीका नगरपार्षदहरूले पनि त्रिणमुल पार्टीबाट राजीनामा दिनका साथै गोजमुमो पार्टीमा सामेल समेत भइसकेका छन्। अन्य 2 वटा आसनमा भने जन आन्दोलन पार्टीका प्रतिनिधीहरूले बिजयी हासिल गरेका छन्।

Darjeeling unrest: GJM will formulate alternative strategies for Gorkhaland demand, says Binay Tamang

IANS, Jalpaiguri: Ousted Gorkha Janamukti Morcha leader Binay Tamang asserted that the fight for Gorkhaland state would continue but appealed for withdrawal of the three-month-old shut down as it was impeding the flow of life in the northern West Bengal hills.

Tamang said they would formulate alternative strategies to put pressure on the Centre and the state government to fulfill their demand.

"Our agitation for separate Gorkhaland will go on. We will formulate strategies to put pressure on the Centre and state government. But the common people in the hills are facing a lot of harassment due to the shutdown," Tamang said outside Siliguri special correctional home after meeting GJM leaders and activists, who were put behind bars during the ongoing agitation.

"The common people here are under a lot of stress. The festive season is coming. I have already appealed to the people to withdraw the shutdown after the second phase of meeting on 12 September," he said.

He, however, refused to disclose if there was any pressure from the government to withdraw the ongoing shutdown.

Tamang said they would stick to the demand of immediate release of all party activists and supporters who have been placed in judicial custody in the last three months of the current agitation and would take legal steps if needed.

"During the first phase of the all-party meeting in Kolkata, we demanded the immediate release of all the 119 GJM leaders and activists. This was discussed at length even in the second phase of the meeting. We will take up the necessary legal procedure to ensure their release," he said.

Taking an obvious dig at GJM chief Bimal Gurung who is in hiding for more than two months after a police raid at his house and General Secretary Roshan Giri, Tamang claimed that he was the only one leading the movement from among the people.

Referring to the shops and schools that have reopened in the hills in the last two days, Tamang said normalcy was being resorted, but they would still have to take confidence-building measures among the locals who were threatened and intimidated by a section of the party leadership.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung expelled Tamang from the party earlier this month after he announced the temporary withdrawal of the shutdown for 12 days. The party leadership also accused him of conspiring with the state government to derail the Gorkhaland movement.

Tamang, on the other hand, refuted the charges and claimed that he is still part of GJM as he was neither issued a show-cause notice nor given a termination letter from the party's central committee.

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