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THE HIMALAYAN BEACON [BEACON ONLINE] EXCLUSIVE
BY OUR SPECIAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, May 06, 2010: On a quiet, soft, misty afternoon, veteran politician and Darjeeling MP, Stalwart Jaswant Singh sat alone in the garden of Kalimpong’s most plush hotel, close to the town centre, reading a book written on Nehru that he had maybe picked up that very morning from Darjeeling’s famous Oxford book store at Chowrasta. “Readable…” Jaswant reflected.
The on-setting monsoon weather had been somewhat kind, but the roads had not. A little after noon, Jaswant had arrived at Kalimpong Town – a trip which he almost cancelled, due to his aching, troublesome back (an old equestrian accident, he confessed).
Then, around 2.30 pm came the myriad number of journalists that Kalimpong is properly famous for.
Deftly orchestrated and organised by his gallant and hard working coordinators, Col Bhawani and his dashing son, Dhurv Singh (who humbly deny any credit for the well co-ordinated comfort of the Stalwart JS himself, and work tirelessly behind the scenes – fixing appointments, making calls and screening all those who come to Jaswant’s table.)
The scribes and TV men – from KTV (Kalimpong Television), News 7 (an off-spring of The Kalimpong Press Club), Haal Khabar (under the aegis of the Journalists Association of Kalimpong – JAK) and a famous photographer from the Kolkata based national daily ‘The Telegraph’, among others, were smoothly ushered down to meet the Darjeeling MP.
Jaswant was courteous, achingly getting up from his chair to greet the journalists, brief and to the point.
Questions were put to him pursuant to the recent May Day CPRM meeting.
The delays of The Tripartite Meetings, and what that may portend.
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
May 6: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today accused the Bengal government of trying to derail the tripartite talks by suggesting that all stakeholders in the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars and Terai should be invited to the meeting.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “The Bengal government is trying to derail the talks by these suggestions. Only the Centre, the state government and the Morcha were stakeholders during the last five rounds and the same must continue.”
Giri refused to reveal whether the Morcha would refrain from attending the meeting if other parties were invited. “We are discussing every aspect. We have a meeting scheduled at Sukna on May 8,” he said, indicating that the party could announce its decision then.
The Morcha trade union has asked the workers in tea gardens in the Terai to attend the Sukna rally and not to work on that day.
Observers believe that the Morcha might even take drastic steps if other parties are invited, resulting in the discussions getting derailed. “Given the conflicting stand of the state government and the Morcha on territorial issues, there is a strong possibility of the entire talks on the set-up getting derailed,” an observer said.
The Morcha has been demanding that not only the entire Darjeeling district, including Siliguri with its predominantly Bengali population, but also the Terai and parts of the Dooars where the Gorkhas are in a majority be included in the interim set-up. The geographical boundary of the interim set-up would define the shape of Gorkhaland, the Morcha had said.
According to sources in the state government, there are other political formations and groups that have a significant presence in the hills and in the Dooars and Terai, and it is only fair that their views be factored in.
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Siliguri, May 4: Rohini, once a famous tourist spot en route to Kurseong from Siliguri, attracts very less visitors these days.
A dried-up lake, a gutted DGHC bungalow and an ill-maintained Jagadamba Park are all that remain at Rohini.
According to local people, Rohini, located around 25km from here, used to draw a lot of people from the plains — because of its short distance from Siliguri — at all times irrespective of the tourist season.
“Rohini was a place which was teeming with tourists throughout the year. It was a place for family outing during weekends and holidays. But in the past two years, very few people have visited the place. There were just a few picnickers at Rohini last winter,” said Ashok Rai, a DGHC employee engaged in the maintenance of the park.
The local people cited the apathy of the DGHC authorities as the main reason for the dwindling tourist influx.
“Earlier, there were more than 20 people employed in the upkeep of the park and the lake. At present, there are just 13 employees here. They live in far-flung places and do not come to work daily. This has affected the maintenance of the tourist spot,” said a resident.
Rohini, a picturesque village with its slopes of terraced farms, received the attention of GNLF chief and former DGHC administrator Subash Ghisingh when he built the Jagadamba temple there with a beautiful park surrounding it in the late 1990s. The place offers magnificent views of the meandering Balasun river in the plains below and the lush green hills of Kurseong above.
Another initiative to boost tourism at the spot was when the lake and the DGHC bungalow were built seven years ago.
The lake with boating facilities, however, dried up three years back.
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
Darjeeling, April 29: The next round of political-level talks between the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been postponed to the end of May because of “important issues” presently under discussion in Parliament.
If the Union home ministry had stuck to the earlier deadline of May 14 — that had been set for the second round of political talks — there would have been no time for official-level discussion necessary as a precursor to the tripartite talks.
The last tripartite talks was held in Delhi on March 18.
Lt Gen. (retd) Vijay Madan, the interlocutor appointed by the Centre, in an interaction with The Telegraph, said over the phone from Delhi: “One more round of official-level talks is needed to sort out some contentious issues. Since Parliament is in session till May 7, the official-level talks will be held soon after on a mutually agreed date.”
Madan admitted that the political-level talks would in that case be pushed back by a few days. It could take place on May 25 but the date has not yet been fixed.
“Some very important issues are being discussed in Parliament… But we do not want to undermine the Gorkhaland issue. It is of much importance and the home ministry wants to fully focus on it and this can be done only after the session is over in Parliament,” said Madan.
WIZARDS HIT SEVEN IN BAKER UNIVERSITY SCRIMMAGE:
The Kansas City Wizards defeated Baker University 7-1 in a late morning scrimmage on Wednesday. Kei Kamara, Josh Wolff, Davy Arnaud, Sunil Chhetri, Igor Kostrov and Santiago Hirsig all scored for the Wizards, with Kamara scoring the game’s first two goals.
Kamara’s first came off a tap-in from a well-placed cross by Wolff. The Sierra Leone forward wasted no time grabbing his second, blasting a shot from the top of the box to make the score 2-0. Wolff would get a goal of his own not long afterward, heading in a rebounded ball, while Arnaud dribbled around the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home to make the score 4-0 in the first half.
Baker would get a consolation goal just before halftime, but the Wizards would re-assert their dominance in the second stanza. Chhetri scored the team’s first of the half before Kostrov made the score 6-1 with a goal off a corner kick. Hirsig rounded out the scoring near the end of the match, chipping the goalkeeper to bring the game to its final score of 7-1.
KAMARA TO RIDE ALONG AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY THURSDAY:
Wizards forward Kei Kamara will get the full Kansas Speedway experience on Thursday afternoon when he takes part in a ride-along on the NASCAR track. The track traditionally hosts NASCAR Sprint Cup racing events yearly, which have featured average speeds of up to 180 miles per hour.
Be sure and check kcwizards.com later in the week for video from Kamara’s adventure at the Speedway.
NASCAR AND FORMULA 1 DRIVER NARIAN KARTHIKEYAN TO VISIT WIZARDS FRIDAY:
NASCAR and Formula 1 driver Narian Karthikeyan will visit the Kansas City Wizards on Friday afternoon, observing a practice and having a kickaround with fellow Indian Sunil Chhetri.
Like Chhetri, Karthikeyan is considered to be an ambassador for the country of India in his sport. He is the first and only Indian driver to race in NASCAR, and was the first Indian driver to race in Formula 1. Earlier this year, he received the prestigious Padma Shri award by the government of India – the highest honor that a civilian may garner in the country.
Siliguri, Apr 22 (ANI): Vijay Madan, the interlocutor for talks on the formation of a separate hill state of Gorkhaland, hopes for an early resolution to the issue.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with Bimal Gurung, the President of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), here on Wednesday, Madan said: “The meeting paved further modes with hopes for an amicable solution.
“I had a good interaction with the President. He gave me his views and I gave my views, and, hopefully, we should resolve this soon,” he added.
He said the aim of holding the meeting was to elaborate on strategies of both state and central governments on separate state demand and to make the sixth round of tripartite talks productive.
The GJM members, however, stuck to their demand for including the Dooars and Terai region representatives in the Interim Council.
“We are very much adamant on our stand… whole of Siliguri and Dooars,” said Roshan Giri, General Secretary of the GJM.
The sixth round of tripartite talks between the GJM, the Central and West Bengal Governments’ is to be held on May 14.
The fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi, it was decided to constitute the Interim Council by 2011.
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AVIJIT SINHA
Dudhia (Kurseong), April 21: The tangle over the territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills has refused to end with the talks between the Centre-appointed interlocutor Vijay Madan and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung ending in a deadlock here this evening.
Emerging from the meeting which dealt mainly with the Morcha’s demand to include Siliguri and some parts of the Dooars in the interim set-up, Madan, a retired lieutenant general, said: “We expressed our views while the Morcha leaders articulated theirs’. The only stumbling block is the issue of territorial jurisdiction. But it is necessary to be flexible to settle such issues. Further talks are required.”
But Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who also attended today’s meeting, said his party would not budge from its demand to include the entire Darjeeling district as well as the Gorkha-dominated parts of the Dooars in the new set-up.
“We are adamant that these areas be included in the interim authority which will eventually form a separate Gorkhaland,” Giri said.