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21 Oct 2017


Arms seized near river Chhota Rangit
SNS, 20 October, Darjeeling: The police have "technical inputs" and details to prove in court that Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung has links with Northeast militants and Nepal's Maoists.They also say that two consignments of weapons were brought to Darjeeling through the Maneybhanjyang route from Nepal during the recent bout of the Gorkhaland agitation in the Hills.
"The police not only have source information but also technical inputs which will prove that arms and ammunition were brought it here," police source said. According to a source, the two consignments were brought in from Nepal during August and September this year and that Morcha leader Prakash Gurung himself was directly involved in one of them.
"We also have details of the persons who had brought the arms from Nepal and how two vehicles were changed for the same.
"This shows that they have links with the Maoists. They also have links with Northeast militants with some boys also being sent for training there,' said the police source. He also referred to the Assam arms haul case of the year 2014, where one former Morcha leader, Sanjay Thuhung, has been named and who is presently absconding.
Umesh Kami and Ganesh Chettri 
Thulung was named in the Assam arms haul case by Umesh Kami and Ganesh Chettri who were arrested on November 8, 2014 in Dhali Gaon in Assam while they headed for Bengal with a consignment of arms. They had said that they were to deliver the weapons to Thulung who was then the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabashad from the Tukdah-Glenburn constituency.
During interrogation, Kami and Chhetri had revealed that before they were caught with the third consignment, they had deliverred arms and ammunition in Darjeeling on two previous occasions
Based on their statements on December 6,2014 police had also recovered a rifle and 22 rounds of live cartridge and discriminating leaflets calling for an armed struggle for a separate state from an abandoned house near 27th Mile. After interrogation that time, the duo had also revealed that the arms had been procured from Dimapur in Nagaland from the in Militant group Natonalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) and that some people from Darjeeling had also undergone four months' underground training on how to use the arms in a militant camp in Nagaland in 2011.
Sanjay Thuhung
"Kami was part of the Gorkhaland Personnel that had been formed by the Morcha in the past with him also being the driver of Gurung, while Ganesh was the middle man. A plot was hatched at that time only. We have information that a group of the NSCN (K) had also come here and met Gurung and Thulung. Kami and Chhetri had been arrested according to information given by the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau which is of the Central," said the source, also raising questions as to why Thulung had been thrown out of the party.
Police sources also spoke of the gelatin sticks which were stolen from an NHPC sit at Nezy in Pulbazaar in Darjeeling which is suspected to have been used in making Impprovised Explosive Devices that caused explosions in different parts of the Hillls during the recent three-month agitation.
"We have details that the gelatin sticks were robbed by youth leaders Rikash Theeng and Bheem Subba, along with some boys from the Dooars. Gurung had given Rs 30,000 to be paid to them, but only Rs.500 each were given to them and there was a hot discussion amongst themselves regarding this, said the source, adding that not only IEDs were being made but a crude form of bullet proof jackets were also being made. The sources referred to the jacket police recently recovered at Chhota Rangit where firing had taken place between the police and Gurung supporters.
The police maintained that Gurung had many camps like that at Glenburn and when a raid was conducted there, a camp was made at Lapchey Basti, and after raids there, they were staying near Chota Rangit. "About 16 people stayed along with Gurung, while Morcha leaders like Praveen Subba and Dipen Malley used to visit them," the source said.
Giri house raided?
Meanwhile,Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri today alleged that police vandalized his house in the wee hours today and took away his computer, two printers and a suitcase of documents.The house was empty at that time, he claimed.
Senior police officials, however, said that these were baseless allegations and that they had done no such thing.

Pollution causes one in four premature deaths in India, the worst in the world: Lancet study

Thick smog envelops India Gate after Diwali celebrations in New Delhi on Friday.
Thick smog envelops India Gate after Diwali celebrations in New Delhi on Friday. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
Associated Press, 20 October 2017, New Delhi: Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in The Lancet medical journal. Asia and Africa are the regions putting the most people at risk, the study found, while India tops the list of individual countries.

The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2% of the global economy.

“There’s been a lot of study of pollution, but it’s never received the resources or level of attention as, say, AIDS or climate change,” said epidemiologist Philip Landrigan, dean of global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and the lead author on the report.

One out of every four premature deaths in India in 2015, or some 2.5 million, was attributed to pollution, the study found. China’s environment was the second deadliest, with more than 1.8 million premature deaths, or one in five, blamed on pollution-related illness.

New Delhi covered in a toxic haze on Friday morning after Diwali fireworks caused air quality levels to plummet despite a ban on sale of fireworks by the Supreme Court.

Several other countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, North Korea, South Sudan and Haiti also see nearly a fifth of their premature deaths caused by pollution.

The report marks the first attempt to pull together data on disease and death caused by all forms of pollution combined.

“Pollution is a massive problem that people aren’t seeing because they’re looking at scattered bits of it,” Landrigan said.

Experts say the 9 million premature deaths the study found was just a partial estimate, and the number of people killed by pollution is undoubtedly higher and will be quantified once more research is done and new methods of assessing harmful impacts are developed.

Areas like Sub-Saharan Africa have yet to even set up air pollution monitoring systems. Soil pollution has received scant attention. And there are still plenty of potential toxins still being ignored, with less than half of the 5,000 new chemicals widely dispersed throughout the environment since 1950 having been tested for safety or toxicity.

To reach its figures, the study’s authors used methods outlined by the US Environmental Protection Agency for assessing field data from soil tests, as well as with air and water pollution data from the Global Burden of Disease, an ongoing study run by institutions including the World Health Organization and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Even the conservative estimate of 9 million pollution-related deaths is one-and-a-half times higher than the number of people killed by smoking, three times the number killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, more than six times the number killed in road accidents, and 15 times the number killed in war or other forms of violence, according to GBD tallies.

It is most often the world’s poorest who suffer. The vast majority of pollution-related deaths — 92% — occur in low- or middle-income developing countries, where policy makers are chiefly concerned with developing their economies, lifting people out of poverty and building basic infrastructure, the study found. Environmental regulations in those countries tend to be weaker, and industries lean on outdated technologies and dirtier fuels.

In wealthier countries where overall pollution is not as rampant, it is still the poorest communities that are more often exposed, the report says.

“What people don’t realize is that pollution does damage to economies. People who are sick or dead cannot contribute to the economy. They need to be looked after,” said Richard Fuller, head of the global toxic watchdog Pure Earth and one of the 47 scientists, policy makers and public health experts who contributed to the 51-page report.

“There is this myth that finance ministers still live by, that you have to let industry pollute or else you won’t develop, he said. “It just isn’t true.”

The report cites EPA research showing that the US has gained some $30 in benefits for every dollar spent on controlling air pollution since 1970, when Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, one of the world’s most ambitious environmental laws. Removing lead from gasoline has earned the US economy another $6 trillion cumulatively since 1980, according to studies by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some experts cautioned, however, that the report’s economic message was murky. Reducing the pollution quantified in the report might impact production, and so would not likely translate into gains equal to the $4.6 trillion in economic losses.

The report “highlights the social and economic justice of this issue,” said Marc Jeuland, associate professor with the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University, who was not involved in the study.

Without more concrete evidence for how specific policies might lead to economic gains, “policy makers will often find it difficult to take action, and this report thus only goes part way in making the case for action,” he said.

Jeuland also noted that, while the report counts mortality by each pollutant, there are possible overlaps — for example, someone exposed to both air pollution and water contamination — and actions to address one pollutant may not reduce mortality.

“People should be careful not to extrapolate from the US numbers on net (economic) benefits, because the net effects of pollution control will not be equivalent across locations,” he said.

The study’s conclusions on the economic cost of pollution measure lost productivity and health care costs, while also considering studies measuring people’s “willingness to pay” to reduce the probability of dying. While these types of studies yield estimates at best, they are used by many governments and economists trying to understand how societies value individual lives.

While there has never been an international declaration on pollution, the topic is gaining traction.

The World Bank in April declared that reducing pollution, in all forms, would now be a global priority. And in December, the United Nations will host its first-ever conference on the topic of pollution.

“The relationship between pollution and poverty is very clear,” said Ernesto Sanchez-Triana, lead environmental specialist at the World Bank. “And controlling pollution would help us address many other problems, from climate change to malnutrition. The linkages can’t be ignored.”
(Source & Courtesy: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/one-in-four-premature-deaths-in-india-linked-to-pollution-lancet-study-shows-it-s-worst-in-the-world/story-Pp7fJddMi9HWpvm8K5LWyJ.html)

Gorkhaland protests: Cops sniff armed struggle plot in Hills

TNN, | Oct 20, 2017, DARJEELING: At least three police teams in mufti are at work at Nayabazar along the Bengal-Sikkim border to gather inputs from Bimal Gurung's trusted Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) about his armoury. The cops have come to know that the Gurung faction of the GJM is gearing up for an "armed struggle" in the Hills.
That they have stockpiled a huge cache of arms and ammunition became clear during the October 13 encounter at Chhota Rangit, in which sub-inspector Amitava Malik was killed. The Darjeeling Police wants to get a clear picture of the fugitive leader's firepower before it goes the whole hog against Gurung. According to the cops, the Gurung brigade had planned to plot mines at Badamtam in Darjeeling to stop troop movement on the Pulbazar-Jorethang Road. That, however, was foiled, thanks to effective community policing.
Police have reasons to believe that the absconding leader is in touch with the northeast insurgent group NSCN (K) and has been procuring arms since 2014. To support this claim, the police cited the arrest of Umesh Kami and Ganesh Chhetri from Assam's Chirang district way back in 2014 after the Assam Police recovered a huge cache of arms from their vehicle. "On interrogation, Kami revealed that two arms consignments from the NSCN (K) had reached Darjeeling. Some NSCN (K) members had also come to Darjeeling and met Bimal Gurung and former GTA sabhasad Sanjay Thulung," a police officer said. The gun-running via Nepal is also under the police scanner.
"We have specific inputs about the arms deal and also details of the arms consignments coming in to Darjeeling since 2014. "Two such consignments reached Darjeeling in August and September from the northeast via Nepal," a police officer said indicating that Gurung may also have established contacts with the Maoists from Nepal. "We have all the details like how many vehicles were used to carry the consignments, how the vehicles were changed during the journey and whose vehicle was used before they reached Darjeeling. We also have the call records of Prakash Gurung and Sanjay Thulung's having a hand in bringing the consignment. We have also got vital leads from the one arrested at Barnesbeg, whose name we cannot disclose at the moment," the police official said.
Gurung loyalists, however, held that this was a "ploy" by the state government to put a Maoist tag on Gurung in an attempt to substantiate the UAPA charges on him.

Darjeeling is dressing up for winter tourists

Zinia Sen | TNN | Oct 20, 2017,Love is a risky business. Kolkatans, denied entry into Darjeeling through a sweltering summer because of a 104-day bandh that crippled the economy, are gearing up to make the most of winter -by planning a trip to the Queen of the Hills. 
After a disastrous holiday season leading up to the Pujas, which saw the Hills tourism clock up a loss of over `1 crore, bookings are slowly picking up again.Trekkers are trickling back, hotels have opened. 
Leading up to Christmas, the winter seems ready to bask in the warm glow of tourists.Model-tur ned-trekking guide Madhabilata Mitra has already planned a Sandakphu trek on November 16. "I started getting queries about a fortnight back. In between, the trek was postponed once because of the tragic death of SI Amitava Malik. We feared violence and finally decided to go there mid-November.The bookings have been made and people of Darjeeling assured us that it will be a trouble-free trek. 
In fact, they are looking for business after a long shutdown. Curiously, a lot of those travelling with me are women," she said.Madhabilata also runs a homestay in Mungpoo with husband Bhupesh Gupta that has been lying vacant for the past three months. 
"On our way back, we will spend a day in Mungpoo," she said. Automobile engineer Abanti Das, who is part of the trek, said was worried when she did the bookings. But she is ready to take a bit of risk for the trip she has been waiting for. "I lost my parents early on in life and was obese in my growing-up years.Then I started finding solace in the hills and treks helped me lose weight. I was waiting for the hills to get normal so that I could get back to doing what I love the most," said the 39-year-old, who went to Dzongri-Goechala only last year.
For tourists, it's a sad turn of events, she said. "My family is not convinced about this trek and they have their reasons. Such political turmoil is unacceptable," added Abanti.
The fear factor is a major hurdle that tourists need to overcome. Nilesh Pradhan, owner of Hotel Pradhan in Manebhanjan, said Darjeeling is waiting to swing back into action. "Earlier, we used to have a busy Dussehra. This year was bad in terms of business.There were cancellations and I had to refund the full amount. I lost lakhs in the process. But I am hoping we will have a good yearend, between Christmas and New Year. Two-three groups of foreigners are coming for treks end of the year and January February too will be better as there are enquiries already . But right now, people are a bit scared," he said.
Ravi Mahato of Hotel Tres, a chain of hotels operating in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Sikkim, said though their hotel in Sikkim was open throughout, business took a beating."For the past 10 days, the situation has been improving. But it won't get normal before March-April. Even our business in Sikkim suffered because of a dearth of tourists. But we are getting queries for the year-end," he said. The hotels in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, which opened on Oct 8 after three months, are ready with packages to attract tourists.
Central Heritage Resort & Spa in Darjeeling, which has bookings for two rooms currently , said they are hoping for a busy season ahead. "We opened on October 1 and tourists have been few and far between. Having said that, it might be a better winter for us," said Mona Agarwal, an employee of the hotel.
Summing up the situation in Darjeeling, Anil Punjabi, chairman of Travel Agents Federation of India, eastern region, said there is still a lot of apprehension about visiting the Queen of the Hills. "When you are touring a place, you want to be free of tension.Even if there are domestic bookings, foreigners will take a while to plan their trips. Not all bookings were refunded against cancellations and some tourists can well be visiting Darjeeling because of that. There was a loss of around `1 crore in the Puja season and if winter goes to waste, there will be an additional loss of `70-`80 lakh. The hotels right now are giving the best rates and what's needed is the assurance that it will be a safe trip for all. That will help improve the situation," he told us.

Garden bonus delay in hills

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling: Nearly half of the Darjeeling tea gardens have failed to pay bonus to workers before Diwali as had been agreed during a tripartite meeting with the state labour department.
The planters had agreed to pay bonus at 19.75 per cent in two equal instalments. While the first instalment was supposed to be paid before October 18, the remaining was slated after Diwali.
The bonus for a particular year is calculated on the basis of the revenue earned in the previous year. On an average, a worker gets around Rs 7,000 as bonus at the agreed rate.
While the tea planters cited the massive losses suffered by the gardens because of the four months of agitation in the hills, the workers pointed out that there was no such disruption last year and the gardens earned good revenue.
"It is true that the bonus is calculated on the last financial year. But the garden pays the bonus with the revenue generated this year. The industry is in dire straits, with no production for almost four months," a planter said.
There are 87-odd tea gardens that sell the "Darjeeling Tea". The industry employs 55,000 permanent workers. "In some cases, gardens would also hypothecate their crop for loans if revenues were not adequately generated. This, too, was not possible as most of the crop was lost this year," the planter added.
(Source & Courtesy: https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/garden-bonus-delayin-hills-179884)

Trinamul taps tea and tourism - Meet with stakeholders to renew base

People throng a marketplace in Darjeeling
TT, Siliguri: Trinamul leaders in the hills and adjoining plains have decided to address the concerns of the tea and tourism industry to renew their support base in the region.
Sources said that as the party leadership in Calcutta had instructed the leaders in the hills to avoid any overt political activity for the time being because of a strong Gorkhaland sentiment, they now planned to approach the stakeholders of the two sectors hit hardest by the four months of strike.
As Trinamul has taken a strong anti-Gorkhaland stand, the party fears any political activity in the hills could put its prospects in a jeopardy.
"The strike was withdrawn on September 27 and normality is slowly returning to the hills. But the sentiment over statehood is still there. This is not the time to reassert the anti-Gorkhaland stand. Instead, we should try and garner support by approaching all those associated with the tea and tourism industries and apprise them of the sincerity of the state government towards resolving the crisis," said a Trinamul leader in Kurseong.
As a beginning, the leaders would hold talks with the stakeholders.
"For the tea industry, we will speak with planters, trade union leaders, workers and even their family members. We will highlight the initiative the state took to resolve the bonus issue," said the leader.
Although tea gardens in the Dooars and Terai have given bonus to workers, most of the estates in the hills are yet to make any payment.
The Trinamul leader said that as far as the tourism industry was concerned, party workers would meet hoteliers, tour operators, transporters, cab drivers and even waiters and porters who are working aggressively to "revive" the Darjeeling brand.
"We have plans to hold sessions involving some state ministers. The stakeholders would be asked to speak about their problems and give suggestions to ensure the steady inflow of tourists to Darjeeling and other surrounding destinations," said a Trinamul youth leader in Siliguri.
(Source & Courtesy:https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/trinamul-taps-tea-and-tourism-179883)

Harka NIA cry in arms haul

TT, Kalimpong/Siliguri: Jana Andolan Party chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri on Friday demanded a probe by a "neutral" agency into last week's arms haul in the hills.
"I feel a neutral agency like the National Investigation Agency should probe the incident.... Not every word the state government utters can be taken at face value. The truth must come out and no culprit should go scot-free. But at the same time, no innocent should be framed," the JAP chief said.
Chhetri's party wields considerable influence in Kalimpong town and other pockets of the newly formed Kalimpong district, but is yet to find a firm foothold elsewhere in the hills.
A former associate of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, Chhetri fell out with the leadership and floated his own outfit although he was perceived to be close to the Trinamul establishment. The JAP leader now seems to be eyeing to fill the void created by the split in the Morcha.
"With Gurung on the run and Binay Tamang's credibility in question because of his perceived proximity with the state government, Chhetri is trying to project himself as a leader and that's why he is commenting every day," said the source.
"In the hills, there are people who are not with any of these lobbies as they dislike violence. Most of them are yet to accept Tamang because of his perceived proximity with the state government.... That is a situation Chhetri can utilise," an observer said.
Chhetri's assertion on the arms haul followed Gurung's denial that any of his supporters were involved in stockpiling arms. Gurung had also said that the arms recovered were from surrendered KLO militants.
The police have claimed to have evidence to counter Gurung's claim.
The arms, including nine AK-47 assault rifles, were allegedly recovered from the site of a clash on the banks of the Little Rangeet river on October 13. The gunfight had resulted in the death of 28-year-old sub-inspector Amitabha Malik.
(Source & Courtesy: https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/harka-nia-cry-in-arms-haul-179880)

20 Oct 2017

Central forces cannot substitute state police

CRPF jawans conduct a flag march to control rioters at Dimna Road, Mango in Jamshedpur.HT, Oct 19, 2017: The Union home ministry told state governments on Wednesday that paramilitary forces cannot act as a substitute for police as they were supposed to be deployed primarily in emergency situations.

The ministry’s remarks come against the backdrop of an ongoing tussle between the West Bengal government and Centre over the latter’s decision to withdraw forces from Darjeeling.

In a statement issued to the press, MHA said it had asked all state governments to set up a committee for examining central armed police forces (CAPFs) required while keeping in view internal security and availability of central forces in nearby locations.

“CAPFs can’t substitute the state police force as their deployment is related to emergency crisis in states for maintaining law and order,” the Union home ministry said.

The central government earlier this week had decided to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of central paramilitary forces that were deployed in the hills in the wake of summer unrest.

“The central government has formulated standard operating procedures (SOPs) for deployment of CAPFs and according to it, the central forces would be able to meet more pressing commitments like guarding borders, fighting insurgency, anti-national operations and in related situations which need immediate mobilisation of forces,” the ministry said.

The home ministry statement comes a day after the Calcutta high court stayed BJP-led Centre’s decision to partially withdraw paramilitary forces from Darjeeling, rejecting the argument that they were required to be deployed elsewhere for 

The Centre stated that state governments should not request for an extension of central armed police forces deployment unless there were “ adequate security reasons”.

Darjeeling: Scare amid festivity on GJM chief Bimal Gurung's turf

TNN | Oct 19, 2017, Darjeeling: The five-day Tihar festival in the Hills got a political colour at Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung's native place Tukvar. Many people here prayed for Gurung's safety, wishing his return on a day when a Darjeeling court passed proclamation orders against Bimal Gurung and five others including Roshan Giri and Asha Gurung. According to lawyers, this arms the police with powers to attach their properties.
Gurung, meanwhile, in an audio message, said he would be back in the Hills and leading the statehood demand.
While this was the dominant mood in Gurung's place, people elsewhere in the Hills feared fresh trouble if Gurung makes a comeback. Instead, they wished for a democratic transition to Gorkhaland as acting GTA chairman Binay Tamang promised to them. Yet, the torching of houses of pro-Gurung activists near Patlebas didn't go down well with the Hills people.
Scrutiny of the social media by government agencies has escalated the fear among the youths. So much so, that pro-Gorkhaland Darjeeling Chronicle has appealed to its readers on Facebook to mind their language before posting comments on a news item. "For instance, writing 'we are brave Gorkhas' is okay; but writing 'we are brave Gorkhas, and we will show you what we are made of' could be interpreted as a threat to someone," it writes in an appeal to the readers.
Playing on the Gorkha swabhiman, Bimal Gurung said, "I will definitely return to Darjeeling and lead the movement. The Bengal government does not want me to return and is levelling baseless allegations and hounding me and party activists." A Binay Tamang loyalist said, "The comeback threat by the UAPA accused and the following police raids on the house of Gurung loyalists or supporters have further complicated the situation."
In all his audio messages Gurung has appealed to his supporters to have patience and conduct the movement in a democratic manner. The police, however, recovered sophisticated weapons - AK-47 and gelatin sticks - from the encounter site near the Bengal-Sikkim border few days ago where Gurung had been hiding with his trusted men. The GJM president has flatly denied the police charge. "It is baseless, and forms a part of the state's grand conspiracy to eliminate me. In fact, it is the police who are looting and torching homes of supporters. They (police) want to keep me away to do dirty politics in the Hills," Gurung said.
With the Gorkhaland demand failing to find a taker among governments, acting GTA chairman Binay Tamang has planned to assuage the Hills people with development work. The Mamata Banerjee government has released Rs 134 crore for the GTA in addition to the Rs 500 crore. The CM has instructed GTA to expedite reconstruction work and take up all-round development of the Hills.

Darjeeling: GJM leader Roshan Giri’s house ransacked, documents stolen

TNN, Oct 20, 2017, DARJEELING: Alleged miscreants broke open the door lock of absconding Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) general secretary Roshan Giri's house in the Chandmari area late on Wednesday night, ransacked the house and fled with Giri's computer and some incriminating documents.
It all happened when Giri's mother Deepa, the only family member living in that house, had gone to her neighbour's place to spend the night there.
The development has sprung a surprise among Darjeeling residents, because Giri's house came under police scanner hours within a Darjeeling court issued proclamation orders against Morcha president Bimal Gurung and five others including the party general secretary on Wednesday.
The development comes close on the heels of the attacks on Gurung loyalists' houses at the GJM strongman's own turf at Patlebas a few days ago.
Giri's mother couldn't identify the miscreants. "I came back home after they left. I had stayed put at my neighbour's house last night. One of my neighbours asked me to stay at her place because I was alone in the house. Around midnight, I could hear loud noises nearby and saw a mob vandalizing my house. I was too scared to go out. I went there only after they were gone and saw two doors damaged and a computer and some important documents robbed. I could not identify the people," said Deepa.
The information has reached Gorkha Janmukti Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who is likely to lodge a police complaint against the ransacking.

Stabilizing peace in the hills... Gurung alienated

EOI, Editorial: Life in the Darjeeling hills has slowly started returning to normalcy after almost three and a half months of bandh enforced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and its leader Bimal Gurung. Arrest warrants have been issued against Gurung on various counts of criminal offences, the last being the shooting of police Sub-Inspector Amitabh Malik. Gurung has been evading arrest and taking shelter in neighbouring Sikkim, with the Sikkim Government allegedly playing a collusive role. The situation in the Darjeeling hills is far from normal. The role of the BJP leadership, both at the State and at the national level is ambiguous and ambivalent. The party has not taken a clear stand on whether it is for or against the creation of a separate Gorkhaland. But the State BJP leaders are not concealing their support and sympathy for Gurung and company.
The Centre’s decision, in these circumstances, to withdraw paramilitary forces from the troubled district has naturally caused anxiety and anger of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She has said such a unilateral step by the Centre without consulting the State is regrettable and will create problems in the maintenance of peace in the hills. She has requested both the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to rescind the decision. Gurung and his cohorts have collected large quantities of firearms and ammunition some of which have been seized by the police. In the prevailing situation there can be no slackness on the part of the administration in maintaining and stabilizing peace in the hills. The Centre’s unexpected decision, taken without consulting the State, will make the situation more fragile and give a cause of exultation to Gurung and company.
Through her skilful strategy, Mamata has been successful in isolating Gurung not only from the common mass of Gorkhas of Darjeeling but in his own party. The GJM today stands virtually divided, with the leadership of the party having been taken over by Benoy Tamang, the current chairman of the GTA and his colleague Aneet Thapa who is now the GTA vice-chairman. It is to be hoped that Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh will look at the Darjeeling problem from the point of view of national interest and not from a narrow political view point of scoring Brownie electoral points for the BJP. Darjeeling is strategically situated and some outside powers may also be interested in destabilizing the situation there.
(Source & Courtesy: http://echoofindia.com/editorial/stabilizing-peace-hills-134363)

Smuggling hit to Bhutan through Bengal border

TT, Alipurduar: A senior Bhutan official has said the smuggling of animals parts and timber to his country through the Bengal border came down because of exchange of information.
"The number of illegal activities along the border have come down because of exchange of information between the higher officials of Bhutan and Bengal. I have instructed all officials in the border areas to keep vigil on entry and exit gates. Even if we post security personnel along the border, stray incidents will take place," said Dasho Tashi Penjor, the director (law and order), ministry of home and culture of Bhutan government.
He was replying when The Telegraph asked him about the smuggling of animal parts and timber smuggling through the Jaigaon border.
Penjor inaugurated a Kali Puja by Tarun Dal club in Jaigaon on Wednesday evening. He said a high level meet between Bhutan officials and district magistrates and superintendent of police of Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong would take place at Thimphu on October 24 and 25.

Dilemma in Dooars

TT, Siliguri: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders in the Dooars are in a dilemma over who among Bimal Gurung or Binay Tamang they should support.
"In the foothills and particularly, the Dooars, there is utter confusion among most of the Morcha leaders and supporters. They have no idea where our party is heading and whether Bimal Gurung will regain his hold over the hills or Binay Tamang will call the shots," said a Morcha leader in the Dooars.
In the beginning of the statehood movement in June, Morcha leaders and cadres had taken out a few rallies in the Dooars. But they stopped after the split in the party.
"Unlike in the hills, where police restrictions disrupted regular rallies and meetings, such programmes stopped on their own in the Dooars. This is because the Morcha supporters didn't know whether the protests should continue or they should listen to Tamang's appeal for peace," the Morcha leader said.
Another Morcha representative at Kalchini said there was not much pressure from either lobbies of the party in the Dooars.
"The central leadership of the Morcha is now focussed on the hills, barring occasional utterances that the Dooars and the Terai should be included in Gorkhaland. So, a section of Morcha supporters is even thinking of joining Trinamul as there is a complete mix-up within the Morcha," he said.
The latest Gorkhaland movement didn't have much impact in the Dooars, unlike on earlier occasions.
"That was because the central leadership of the Morcha didn't focus on the plains. As there are no clear instructions from the party, it is obvious that they will be confused," an observer said.

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