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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Inclusion in NE Council welcomed...Samiran's Photos in Kolkata

KalimNews:The demand of inclusion of the Darjeeling hill areas in the North East Council is widely praised by all in the hills, even it is praised by the plain people as a wise thought.
Central and the State Government had divulged that the demand for the inclusion of Dooars and Terai in the proposed Regional authority is not considerable and the Union Government tried to convince about it to the GJMM delegation on Monday at North Block in Delhi. It has further added that problems will arise on including these areas as such it is not advisable to do so.
Titbits: 1.GJMM is the other side of the GNLF coin- CPRM 
2. N.B.Chhetri, Headmaster of Sarswati High School, Mugnpoo, Ex MLA and leader of GNLF Union leader is advised to stay away from Mungpoo by GJMM.
3. VC of NBU suspended Registrar on charges of corruption.
4. 2 live Bombs discovered inside a bag left by a passenger in a bus at Jaigaon
Smile chugs into Dooars, garden lady shows the way- Women who made it happen
Anirban Choudhury, TT, Alipurduar, March 30: The Smile Train has finally chugged into the Dooars and the garden workers are grateful to Daisy Raj Singh for having given them a chance to board it.
The wife of the manager of Rydak Tea Estate, Singh has been going around campaigning about the free treatment and surgery for cleft lip that the Smile Train project of the US offers at the Anandaloke Hospital and Neurosciences Centre in Siliguri, 150km from here.
The Smile Train is the NGO that treated Pinki Sonkar — the Uttar Pradesh-based protagonist of Megan Mylan’s Oscar-winning documentary, Smile Pinki — and changed her life.
Singh organised the first free check-up camp for people with cleft lip in September in Rydak. Around 30 people from the BPL category who had registered themselves at the camp, whose expenses were borne by her, have gone through the surgery in Siliguri. But before that, she had a trying time convincing them to attend the camp.
Cleft lip or a cleft palate is a common birth defect in the Dooars especially in the tea belt and is a result of malnutrition, said Dr Neela Bhattacharya who conducts the surgery at Anandaloke. Dr Bhattacharya has been associated with Smile Train for three years.
“Around 300 people from the Dooars have been operated on so far. Many come from the Northeast and Bihar. Cleft lip occurs in children when the mother is deprived of a nutritious diet during pregnancy. Sometimes it is genetic too. But in the Dooars it is mostly because of malnutrition,” said Dr Bhattacharya.
A cleft lip surgery costs at least Rs 20,000.
Added to this is the expense incurred on trips to the hospital. Sometimes one or two family members have to accompany the patients and stay away from home, often in hotels near the hospital.
“For most garden workers, the surgery is beyond their means. But they did not know that they could get it done for free,” said Singh.
When she heard of the Smile-Anandaloke tie-up, Singh contacted Dr Bhattacharya before she did the rounds of the labour lines of the Dooars gardens — Kalchini, Hatiabari, Kohinoor, Mainabari, to name a few. Singh, who has an army background, has been staying in Rydak for 11 years.
She started her campaign with the help of four local boys, going door to door and trying to convince parents to bring the children with cleft lips to free check-up camps as the first step.
“Initially people were reluctant to attend the camps. But then the news spread.” Jashoda Toppo, a 40-year-old worker has been operated upon, as has been Joydeep Das, who is nearly two years old and is from Samuktala. Five-year-old Payel Biswakarma from Turturi, too, has a winning smile now.
On Sunday, Singh organised another such camp at Little Angel School, Hamiltonganj in Kalchini block. Singh is happy that 23 people had registered from different tea gardens for the surgery.
“My reward is the winning smile they give me,” said Singh.
Cong ally patch up in Siliguri
Siliguri, March 30: The Trinamul Congress and the Congress today decided to form the Siliguri Municipal Corporation together, ending the cold war and putting up a show of unity ahead of the civic polls to be held across the state in May.
Although mayor Gangotri Datta has offered to step down from her post, no decision on the new incumbent or the composition of the mayors-in-council were announced.
Leaders of both the parties said the decision to dissolve the current board and form a new one had been taken under instructions from the respective high commands to further firm up the bonding between the two outfits.
After the alliance’s victory in the SMC polls held in September, both Trinamul and the Congress had staked claim to the mayor’s chair. Ultimately, at the insistence of Mamata’s rival and Raiganj MP Deepa Das Munshi, the Congress had formed the board with the backing of the Left that had been ousted from the civic body after 28 years. The Congress’s Datta became the mayor.
Since then, the Trinamul had been sitting in the Opposition. Even yesterday, at the budget session, Trinamul had accused the Congress-led board of having a tacit understanding with the Left.
However, today, Datta said at the joint media conference: “I will offer the mayor’s post to Trinamul if it is necessary for the sake of the alliance.”
District Congress president Shankar Malakar said: “We had a meeting with the Trinamul leadership today and reached a consensus that from now on the Trinamul Congress and Congress will run the board together. The board will no longer thrive on the outside support of the CPM.”
“The people of Siliguri have voted for us to see the alliance running the SMC. There had been some problems during the mayoral elections but we consider them to be a closed chapter,” said Trinamul district president Gautam Deb.
In Calcutta, Trinamul leader Partha Chatterjee said the development was a “very good news”.
“It will further strengthen the ties between the two parties,” Chatterjee said. “This was just the thing that we needed to send out a signal of unity between the two parties before the coming municipal polls. This has taken place because of the initiative of our party leader Mamata Banerjee who said the past bitterness should be forgotten.”
Deb said Datta would ask for Trinamul’s support to pass the budget tomorrow. The Trinamul would then assure her of its support and the budget will be passed. A decision will then be taken on dissolving the current board and setting up a new one.
Nurul Islam, the CPM leader in the SMC and the former mayor, said: “There was always an underlying understanding between the two parties and that was only made public today.”
Minister convoy kills one
TT, Siliguri, March 30: A 58-year-old farmer succumbed to his injuries at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital today after he was hit, allegedly by agriculture minister Paresh Adhikary’s convoy last evening.
Naren Roy, a resident of Dhapganj, on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri, was pedalling home from a market. “He was on his bicycle when the third car of the minister’s convoy hit him from behind on the Jalpaiguri-Haldibari road,” said Gopal Burman, a witness. “It was one of the police vehicles that was not part of the three-car convoy which took him to the Jalpaiguri district hospital.”
Naren was shifted to the NBMCH where he died around 6.30am. Senior police officers said efforts were on to arrange for compensation for his family. The minister, who was returning from a farmers’ meeting at Haldibari, refused comment saying: “I am in the Assembly in Calcutta.”
KalimNews:Samiran Paul of Kalimpong has exhibited his works on cultural photography representing hill region for the first time and on travel photography for the second time, along with other members of "Alok Rekhay", in its 7th photography exposition held at Gaganendra Pradarshanshala, Kolkata information centre.He is happy and grateful to his mentor and all the photographers of Alok Rekhay for giving him the platform and oportunity to show his works along with the eminent photographers of Alokrekhay, Kolkata.
The exposition was inaugurated by the eminent painter Sri Samir Aich, Chief Guest . of the programme. Special guest Smt. Bulbul Roy, Hon. joint secretary Academy of fine Arts, Kolkata, Shri Benu Sen , the eminent photographer the guest  of honour and Shri Debidas Banerjee, the eminent photographer and also the founder member of Alokrekhay were on the dias.
Speaking to Mr. Debadish Banerjee, Paul comments that it is pleasing to find someone so far away from the cultural and photographic society of kolkata so enthusiastic about the photography.
Among the members Sri Abhijit Bhattcharjya portrayed the Indian women in their different spheres of works. Bikash Mondol presented different moods of the people involved in hadicrafts. Sri Sushannta Sengupta, Pradip Dutta, Sujot kumar Saha depicted Banaras, Kumaon Himalaya, Sikkim through their lens. Kartik Das exhibited some fusion works mixing photography and hand drawn sketches giving it a new dimension in a mixed media.
Sandipan shared with the spectators some beautiful glimpses from various fairs across India. Different festivals moods were captured by Sri Debidas Banerjee. majestically. Some fantastic photographs and abstract works of Sri S. P. Mukherjee were also exihibited. Apart from these there were some spectacular photos created by Sri Chinmoy Chakraborty, Imran Ahmed, Sri Joydip Bhattacharjya, Goutam Mazumder and Sri Gora Bhattacharjya.
Right from its inauguration to the last day the exhibition was thronged and highly appreciated by Kolkattans and it is exteded for two more days.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ajay Dahal brought to Kalimpong...GJM demands inclusion of Interim set-up in the North-East Council

KalimNews: Ajay Dahal the leader of UGRF was brought to Kalimpong by Kalimpong Police from Gangtok. He is accused of murdering Yohan Tsh Lepcha and several cases under arms act and armed agitation against the state. He was presented in the Kalimpong Court and will be kept at Kalimpong Correctional Home till his next hearing on 13th April . He was arrested on 9th February at Gangtok and will appear on 9th April in Gangtok Court.Speaking with the reporters he stated that the issue of Gorkhaland is sold by GJMM and people are fed up with the infights of GJMM. He also stated that there is a conspiracy on his arrest
 Pix: Samten Kabo
KalimNews:GJM representatives  led by  Roshan Giri, General Secretary, met N.S. Khalzi, Joint Secretary, Union Home Ministry and Ardhendu Sen, Chief Secretary, West Bengal at North Block, New Delhi today. According to Dr. H.B. Chhetri, Spokesperson of the party, the six member GJM delegation submitted twenty two left out subjects in the draft proposal of interim set-up. According to available information, GJM also demanded inclusion of proposed interim authority in the existing North-East Council with its constitutional guarantee. In the additional list of the left out subjects the Tea and Cinchona plantations and regularisation of the services of thousands of DGHC's ad-hoc staffs have also been highlighted, Dr. Chhetri added. The GJM has also stated that it has submitted the names of the Mouzas of the Dooars areas as in its earlier proposal only the physical map of the region was presented.
On the other hand, the centre reportedly expressed its difficulties to include some subjects from union list, as desired by the GJM in its earlier proposal, since these subjects entirely fall under the jurisdiction of Union govt and even the state Govts cannot claim their right over the same.
It is recalled that the GJM had started facing sharp criticism as there was simmering reaction in the concerned sections of the hill for skipping numerous vital subjects in its proposal secretly sent to the centre and providing only 72 hours time for the general people to study the same. An under current negative reaction had started to prevail in the hills particularly among the temporary employees of the DGHC for non inclusion of their grievances in the draft proposal.
Morcha happy with talks- Another round of dialogue in April before the May meet
TT March 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it was “happy” at the outcome of the official-level tripartite meeting held in Delhi to sort out areas of “agreement and disagreement” before the next round of political talks to be held in mid-May.
“Many of our demands have been agreed upon and this is something positive, we are happy,” said Morcha central committee member Amar Lama, who was present at the meeting with five other hill party members. “The officials have said many issues raised by us could be accepted.” Lama, however, did not elaborate on what had been agreed upon.
Today’s talks were held so that only those points on which there was no agreement could be discussed at the next political-level meet. “The idea is to make the process simpler for the political-level talks,” a home ministry official said, adding: “Another round of official-level talks will be held in April for the same purpose. We hope to finalise the points of agreement and disagreement in that meeting. They will then be put up at the political-level talks.”
However, the territory that will come up under the jurisdiction of the proposed interim set-up continued to be a source of “major disagreement” with the Morcha insisting on the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai and the state and the central governments refusing to concede ground. “Officials of both the state and the Centre told us that the territory issue has to be thrashed out at the political-level talks,” said Lama. “Neither side conceded an inch.” Morcha representatives submitted a detailed mouza-wise plan of the area it wants to be incorporated from the Dooars and the Terai in the interim settlement. The deadlock over territory notwithstanding, Bengal and central government officials also described today’s talks as “good and cordial”.
The Morcha also placed some additional demands at the talks table. These included regularisation of all temporary workers of the DGHC, realignment of the East-West corridor through those areas in the Dooars that the hill party wants included in the interim set-up, setting up of an Institute for Development of Nepali Language, and inclusion of tea and cinchona in the list of subjects to be transferred to the interim set-up. The party also demanded that Scheduled Castes should not be converted into Scheduled Tribes, an amendement of its earlier proposal where it wanted ST status for all hill communities.
In all the Morcha has demanded legislative control over 124 subjects compared to the 102 subjects it had mentioned in the earlier proposal.
Today’s talks were attended by senior home ministry officials including Union home secretary G.K. Pillai, special secretary Anita Choudhary (centre-state), joint secretary Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi and Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen.
Today was the fifth round of bureaucratic level tripartite talks.“Hopefully, the April meeting will be the last round of bureaucratic-level talks between the three sides and a decision on the interim set-up can be reached in the next two political level talks,” said the home ministry official.
A step towards a unique Identity for all
Veena N Madhavan PIB: Recently, many of us must have read in newspapers or magazines about National Population Register (NPR). But what is NPR? What is its purpose? And above all how is it going to benefit the common man?
To know about National Population Register, it becomes essential to know something about Census. The first census in India was held in 1872. Since 1881, population censuses have been held every ten years without any interruption. Census is an administrative exercise carried out by the Government of India. It involves the collection of information about the entire population with regard to many factors like demography, socio-cultural and economic characteristics.
The 2011 Census of India will be the 15th census and seventh after Independence. A milestone in the 2011 Census is the preparation of the NPR. The census will be carried out in two phases. The first phase spans from April to September 2010 with houselisting, house census and collection of data on NPR. This phase also involves the canvassing of NPR schedule which will be digitized in two languages – English and the official language of every State/Union Territory. The first phase will commence on April 1, 2010 in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Goa and Meghalaya and the Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The second phase includes the population enumeration stage.
The creation of NPR of usual residents of the country is an ambitious project. It involves the collection of specific information on each person residing in the country. It would cover an estimated population of 1.2 billion and the total cost of the scheme is Rs.3539.24 crores. This is for the first time that NPR is being prepared. The database will be built by the Registrar General, India. At this juncture, it becomes important to stress that census and NPR are different, even though the basic idea behind both the exercises is collection of information.
Census is the biggest source of data on demography, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, economic activity, urbanization, fertility, mortality, language, religion and migration. It serves as primary data for planning and the implementation of policies of the Central and State Governments. Also, it is utilized for the purpose of reservation of constituencies for Parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections.
NPR on the other hand, involves the creation of a comprehensive identity database for the country. This would facilitate planning, better targeting of government schemes/programmes and also strengthen the security of the country. Another aspect that differentiates NPR from census is that it is a continuous process. In census, the duty of concerned officers is for a limited period and their services are dispensed with after the work is over, while in the case of the NPR, the role of concerned officers and that of subordinate officers like the Tehsildar and Village Officers is of continuing nature and permanent.
NPR will include the items of information such as the name of the person, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, current marital status, education, nationality as declared, occupation, present address of usual resident and permanent residential address. The database will also contain photograph and finger biometry of persons above the age of 15 years. The draft Local Register of Usual Residents (LRUR) would be displayed in the villages in rural areas and wards in urban areas for inviting objections like spellings in names, address, date of birth etc. and also regarding residency status of any person enumerated. The draft LRUR will also be placed before the Gram Sabha or local bodies for authentication of usual residents.
Once the database is finalised, the next task would be assigning every individual a Unique Identification Number (UID) by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Later this UID number will be added to the NPR database. It is proposed to issue identity card, which will be a smart card with UID number printed on it and include basic details like name, mother’s/father’s name, sex, date and place of birth, photograph. Complete details will be stored in the chip.
The implementation of NPR in the entire country would be based on the light of the experience gained from the pilot project, the coastal NPR project. The pilot project was carried out in selected border areas of the country. The coastal NPR project is being carried out in more than 3300 villages in 9 states and 4 Union territories. The decision to implement coastal NPR project was taken by keeping in view the enhancement of coastal security.

How NPR would benefit people?
In India, there are several databases like election card, driving license, passports, PAN cards, but all these have limited reach. There is no standard database covering the entire population. NPR would provide a standard identity database and facilitate the allotment of Unique Identification (UID) Number to each individual, something like a permanent identifier - right from birth to death of the individual.
The significance of NPR lies in the fact that there is an increasing need for a credible identification system for the country as a whole. It becomes all the more important because of various factors such as the need to reach out to people in every nook and corner of the country, to keep a check on illegal migration and also with regard to the issue of internal security.
The coming in of a unique identification number would benefit the common man in many ways. It will strike off the need for producing multiple documentary proofs of identity by an individual for availing government or private services like opening of a bank account. It will help in the easy verification of an individual. The creation of an identity database would help enhance the targeting of various beneficiary oriented schemes of the Government and non governmental agencies. NPR would also serve the requirement of sprucing up tax collection.
India has already set the process rolling to create the largest database in the world, with the promise of a unique biometric card to an estimated population of 1.2 billion. Thus the path towards providing a unique identity has been set out. The enormity of the exercise is such that it requires the undaunted support and cooperation of people in making the project a success that would be beneficial to every resident in the country

Hill Team off to Delhi

TT, Darjeeling, March 28: A six-member delegation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today left for Delhi following a sudden invitation from the Union home ministry, an indication that the Centre is hoping to tie up the loose ends of the agreement for the interim set-up so that a deal is inked — or a concrete result announced — at the next round of talks in May.
In the meeting to be held tomorrow with home ministry officials, the Morcha will, on its part, convey the “revisions” it wants in the “secret proposal” — submitted to home minister P. Chidambaram earlier — and discuss the territory that will come under the interim set-up. The hill party wants the interim arrangement to remain in place till December 2011, after the elections to the Bengal Assembly are over.
“All key issues on the interim council will be discussed. Apart from the territory, we will also place a demand that the interim authority should have legislative powers over 124 subjects,” said Morcha president Bimal Gurung at a public meeting in Kurseong today.
In its “secret” document, the Morcha had demanded legislative powers over 102 subjects. Even though Gurung did not spell out the additional subjects the party has included in its “revised” document, he said a special mention of tea and cinchona would be made. In the amended proposal, the Morcha will also ask the Centre not to convert the Schedule Castes in the hills to Scheduled Tribes, contrary to the demand in the “secret” document.
On March 22, Gurung had said the secret proposal would be amended so that the interests of the Scheduled Castes were not hurt. “We will write to the Centre to safeguard the privileges they are currently enjoying,” Gurung had said.
The SCs, who already have safeguards through job reservation and reserved seats during elections, would gain little through conversion to STs. In fact, they would stand to lose much as they would have to share the reservation with the entire hill population if all the communities were made STs.
The delegation that left for Delhi today includes Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, central committee members Amar Lama and Harkha Bahadur Chhetri and three members of the Study Forum Amar Rai, L.B. Pariyar and Kitap Singh Rai. Sources said the letter inviting the letter to Delhi had been sent by N.S. Kalsi, joint secretary, Union home ministry. “It is a preparatory dialogue before the next tripartite meeting (scheduled to be held before May 14). The state officials will also be present,” said Gurung.
Bengal municipal affairs minister and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya, however, said in Calcutta that he had no information about tomorrow’s meeting in Delhi. “We have not received any letter from the Centre and I have no further information,” said Bhattacharya, one of the two ministers who represented the Bengal government in the last round of talks held at the political level in Delhi on March 18.
Observers, however, believe that more than the transfer of subjects, it is the territory to come under the interim council that will be discussed at length tomorrow. The Morcha has already made it clear that it will not compromise on the “revised” territory.
For Gorkhaland, the Morcha had wanted the entire Dooars, Terai and the Darjeeling district. However, when the party submitted a proposal for an interim arrangement – the details of which were made public on March 15, three days before the fifth round of talks — it left out a large chunk of the Dooars, sticking to areas dominated by Nepali-speaking people.
After the new demarcation proposal, the Morcha is determined not to compromise on the territory any more. “Even if they (government) give us Gorkhaland without the areas we want (in Dooars and Terai), we will not accept statehood,” Gurung had told party workers in Kurseong recently.
The state government has strong reservations about the Dooars, Terai and the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district being made part of the proposed interim arrangement.
“However, tomorrow’s meeting is a clear indication that the Centre wants to tie up all loose ends before the next political-level talks where an agreement can be reached,” said an observer. 
On Table Today map of hill authority
Sabyasachi Bandhopadhyay, IE, Kolkata:Ten days after the fifth tripartite meeting, the Ministry of Home Affairs has called the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders and West Bengal Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen for a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.
The concerned parties will be discussing the territorial boundary of the proposed Darjeeling Regional Authority and also the revised proposals of the Morcha.
The Morcha will be represented by a five-member team headed by Roshan Giri, general secretary of the GJM.
The Morcha had presented a draft proposal on March 18 demanding for a Darjeeling Regional Authority with powers similar to that of a state. The Morcha will present a revised proposal in the meeting on Monday.
In the revised proposal, the Morcha, which had earlier demanded 102 departments under the interim council to be effective till December 2011, has now demanded 120 departments under it. 
The other demands include reviving the tea industry in the Hills, inclusion of all Gorkhas and non-Gorkhas in the list of Scheduled Tribes and setting up a medical college at Darjeeling.
“We received a note from the Union Home Ministry requesting us to send a team to Delhi to discuss the territorial boundary of the proposed regional authority,” said Bimal Gurung, president of GJM, who addressed a rally at Kurseong on Sunday.
“We want to make it clear that we will not deviate from our claim over Siliguri, Dooars and Terai,” added Gurung.
Ashok Bhattacharya, Minister for Urban Development, who led the state government delegation at the fifth tripartite talks in New Delhi, expressed his happiness at the turn of the events. “There can be talks on everything. We hope something positive will come out,” he said.
Alter-rule call for hill govt schools
Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, March 28: The Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation has called for changes in the rules for the recruitment of teachers to the three schools wholly run by the government in the hills.
In a memorandum faxed to education minister Partha Dey today, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated union said in the absence of permanent teachers in Darjeeling Government High School, Kalimpong Government High School and Saradeshwari Government High School in Darjeeling, ad hoc teachers had been appointed with the approval of the DGHC.
“Since the ad hoc teachers have put in years of service, we would like to request the (education) department to safeguard their interests as much as possible by incorporating appropriate changes (in the recruitment rules),” said the memorandum.
Bhisan Roka, the JSTO spokesperson, said a delegation of the union had been told by the state Public Service Commission (PSC) officials that they conducted recruitment according to the rules notified by the education department and they could be altered only by the state government.
The JSTO said there was a backlog of 45 vacant posts in the three schools.
“During our meeting with the minister and senior officials of the education department on March 16, we were given to understand that the appointments in government schools fell within the purview of the PSC. Now that the matter has been clarified by the PSC, we hope the government will take note of our concerns and accommodate them while notifying the recruitment rules,” said Roka.
In government-aided schools, appointments are carried out by the School Service Commission. Roka also demanded that teachers from the hills be appointed the heads of the three institutions. 
Sikkim child labourer ‘freed’
TT, Imphal, March 28: A seven-year-old boy from Sikkim engaged as a domestic help at the house of a school principal in Imphal city was rescued along with a girl yesterday.
The Childline Imphal activists, led by its co-ordinator Mala Lisam, rescued the boy and the five-year-old girl from Manipur’s Ukhrul district during a raid on Narmada Rana’s residence.
Rana, a Nepali, is the principal and the owner of the Narmada English School at Zomi Villa of Imphal city.
The raid came after another girl, aged eight, had fled the principal’s house and was rescued on March 26. She is the elder sister of the girl rescued yesterday. The raid was conducted with the permission of the state welfare department and Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Imphal West.
Child rights activists said all the three children were Nepalis. The activists said there were signs that the children were employed as domestic help and were being ill-treated.
The principal claimed that the children were relatives and were being educated at her school.
However, activists said the children did not seem to be relatives. Members of the CWC Imphal West held a meeting yesterday to discuss their course of action. “We will make inquiries into the case and take the necessary steps. We made spot inquiries yesterday but are yet to know everything,” said Annie Mangsatabam, the chairperson of the Imphal West CWC.
She said the CWC requested the social welfare department to contact the Sikkim government to trace the boy’s relatives. 
Cops suspect Kishan shot at
TT, Calcutta, March 28: A string of telephone intercepts from Jungle Mahal have led police to believe that Maoist leader Kishan has been trying to sneak into Jharkhand for emergency medical attention after being hit by two bullets in a fight with the security forces.
According to sources, Kishan took part in the encounter on the outskirts of Lalgarh while the security forces were advancing towards a suspected guerrilla base on Thursday morning.
“We didn’t face such intense firing in recent times. It was clear that there was a big leader there. We think it was Kishan,” said an officer who was part of the operation.
Although the police could not find a body in the forest, they were sure of some casualties as the Maoists beat a retreat in the face of the assault by over 1,500 state and central personnel in what was said to be the biggest assault on the rebels in Bengal.
While the forces were advancing towards a deserted Lakshmanpur village on Friday afternoon, their telecom wing recorded conversations on “bullet injuries to Dada”.
People in the region are known to address Kishan, 58, chief of the Maoist guerrilla wing and a politburo member of the CPI (Maoist), as Dada.
Several factors — heightened resistance, telephone intercepts and local intelligence — suggest to the police the Dada in the conversation was Kishan. He is believed to have been hit in his shoulder and leg.
Kishan and his aides were not reachable over the phone. For over a month — since the offensive gained momentum — Maoists have slipped into the silence mode.
The police have apparently learnt from the intercepts that Dada has been moved to somewhere in Belpahari, about 20km from the Hatishole forest where the encounter took place, in the past 24 hours.
“Jharkhand is just a few kilometres from Belpahari (see map) and it appears he is trying to sneak into the neighbouring state. Ferrying him in a motorbike will be risky and he can’t walk on his own. So, they are taking time,” an officer said.
Security forces have found empty medical kits near a deserted irrigation department building in a forest adjacent to Lakshmanpur. The guerrillas carry medical equipment with them.
“But it is not possible to handle bullet injuries in a forest.… We have checked all nursing homes and health centres in the region and so crossing over to Jharkhand seems to be his only option,” said the officer.
The forces have moved into the region and are trying to close down the possible escape routes.
“The forces have fanned out to prevent Kishan from crossing the metalled road between Belpahari and Banspahari on his way to the Jharkhand forests,” the officer said.
The police in Jharkhand and Orissa have been put on alert.
KalimNews Adds: An email is received by Navin Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa from Maoists. “Every bullet fired on Kishanji and Bikram alias Abhisek Mukherjee will cost a lot,” warned the mail, purportedly sent by the central military commission of People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA). Though there was no official confirmation on the health status and whereabouts of the top rebel, the mail reinforced police suspicions that Kishanji had indeed suffered bullet injuries while his close aide Bikram was shot dead.  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

GLPs' will self immolate if ..

KalimNews: Bimal threatened the State and Central Government of self immolation by GLPs if the sixth tripartite talks fail to come to grant any autonomous body in lieu of DGHC. While visiting the victims of Police atrocities in Sukuna he addressed GJMM supporters. He stated that GJMM in no circumstance will  bargain for the area claimed by it to be included in the proposed autonomous body and it is final. There was less people in the meeting with less enthusiasm and flocksof GLPs reports Ananda Bazar Patrika and Uttar Banga Sambad. 
In his address Bimal also threatened Ghising and advised him to remain silent.

Government will not hold Municipality election of Mirik Municipality.  In may Municipality election of 82 municipalities including Kolkata will be held in the sate. As per a Government source Municipality election of Mirik is postponed due to law and order problem in the area.  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

GNLF cries govt apathy to plight - 200 families hounded out: ghisingh party

TT, Siliguri, March 26: The GNLF today accused the state government of ignoring the plight of its supporters, alleging that around 200 families had been hounded out of the hills and their houses ransacked or torched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ever since its emergence almost three years ago.
It also said the government had trashed the order of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directing the administration to ensure that all GNLF supporters returned home safely.
“The Morcha leaders and their followers have either torched or ransacked at least 65 houses of our supporters spread across the three hill subdivisions. Also, more than 200 families have been terrorised and forced to leave the hills by the Morcha. They are spending their days outside their homes, and the state government and police remain mute spectators,” said the GNLF’s Kalimpong branch president, Dawa Pakhrin.
Pakhrin threatened to sit on an indefinite hunger strike in front of Writers’ Buildings in Calcutta to protest the state government’s inability to arrest the culprits responsible for the crimes against GNLF supporters.
“Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is our chief minister as well and he cannot shun his responsibilities. We want the state to immediately establish the rule of law in the hills and take punitive action against those guilty of attacking the GNLF workers and torching and looting their houses. If he continues to remain silent to our requests, we would have no other option but to launch an indefinite hunger strike. Our party leaders will sit within a fortnight to chalk out the final plan for agitation,” he added.
According to Pakhrin, GNLF supporters have been crying hoarse over the issue since 2008 and had approached Bhattacharjee, Union home minister P. Chidambaram and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Pakhrin’s house in Kalimpong was torched along with the homes of several other GNLF leaders on July 26, 2008. The arson followed the death of Morcha supporter Pramila Sharma from a bullet fired allegedly from the house of the GNLF Darjeeling branch president Deepak Gurung a day earlier. The latest victim of alleged Morcha atrocity is Kurseong GNLF MLA Shanta Chhetri, whose house was set on fire on February 18.
“We had also filed petitions with the National Human Rights Commission, mentioning our plight. The NHRC had sent orders in December 2008 to the Bengal chief secretary and the director-general of police, directing them to take action against those who had indulged in these crimes and make arrangements so that we can return home. Nothing, however, has happened so far and we are still staying in Siliguri and in the plains,” the GNLF leader said.
The orders, issued by the assistant registrar (law) of the NHRC asks “……the state government of West Bengal to provide adequate protection to the leaders and members of GNLF and to take appropriate action against those who indulge in criminal activities…”.
It was further mentioned in the order that “…the state cannot abdicate its constitutional duty to protect the life and liberty of citizens. Omission to take action against persons indulging in crime amounts to negligence in prevention or violation of human rights…”.
Asked about the future plans of the GNLF, Pakhrin said: “We are not getting minimum legal support from the state or the police. There is no democratic ambience that allows the coexistence of all political parties in the hills. That is why we plan to go to the chief minister. Our party leaders are also contemplating holding a public meeting in Calcutta to apprise the residents of the state of the atrocities of the Morcha and the apathy of the state.”
Morcha leaders, however, have denied the allegations levelled by the GNLF. “They must not forget that they were responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 people in the eighties when Subash Ghisingh led the bloody movement for Gorkhaland,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
“We feel they are poor in statistics and are furnishing irrational figures. Forget 200, let them just name 20 families whose houses were torched and they were shoved out of the hills.
“It is better that the GNLF does not speak of democracy as, any party or individual in the hills, can voice his/her stand now, while during the GNLF era, nobody dared to speak out,” Chhetri added.
Muddy Coal stops Toy Train on track in hills
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, March 26: A Darjeeling Himalayan Railway toy train stopped midway today because coal with a higher mud content had been shoved into the engine.
In recent times, the joy rides operated by the century-old DHR have been frequently disrupted for one reason or the other, leaving visitors as well as tour operators livid at the way the services are conducted.
So much so that the Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents today asked the railways to “completely shut down the services if they cannot maintain the heritage property”.
The 10D train hauled by a steam engine left Darjeeling for Kurseong at 10.15am, but it could not proceed beyond Bokshijhora in Dali, about 3km from the terminal point.
“The steam engine is propelled by coal. However, when the coal was dropped in the engine, the fire itself got doused as the amount of mud was more than the fuel,” said a source.
As Dali is at a higher elevation than the Darjeeling railway station, the train could return to the starting point. Because of the coal with inferior quality, the DHR cancelled the other two rides also.
“A steam engine can haul three bogies, but only two are attached nowadays because of adulterated coal,” said a tour operator. A standard compartment carries 24 passengers who shell out Rs 240 each for a two-hour ride.
The DHR officials at the Darjeeling station refused comment on the incident.
Sources, however, said seven tonnes of “poor quality coal” are presently lying at the railway station. “Coal is brought from the Siliguri Junction as and when the stock is used up,” he said. Last month, the steam service had come to a halt because of coal shortage. Around 3.2 tonnes of coal are needed a day
Not that just coal is halting the services.
Two days ago, a ride was delayed because of lack of water. “It was 1pm when the 10.40am train left the station. There was no water at the railway station and officials were seen pumping water from private tankers. The Darjeeling loco shed does not have even a proper water storage facility,” said the source.
Around 2,000 litres of water are required for each ride. “Even the refilling outlet at West Point Water Column near Dali has no constant source to fill up the tanks,” said an official.
Pradip Tamang, the secretary of the Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents, said: “We are fed up with the DHR services. At times they don’t have enough water to run the engines, while on other occasions, they do not have coal. This time, the quality of coal was so bad that the engines cannot be fired. The government should completely shut down the services if they cannot maintain this heritage property.”
“A chartered service from Siliguri to Darjeeling was delayed by almost four hours in December because of water shortage at Rongtong station,” added Tamang.
The DHR services are affected for days, sometimes even weeks, by landslides during the monsoon. Frequent bandhs called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha also hit the rides.
R.K. Roy, additional divisional mechanical engineer (Tindharia), admitted that the coal supplied to the DHR was lacking propulsion. Asked if the stock would be replaced, he said: “I cannot say anything. We just hope that the trains can run tomorrow as we will try to mix rock-like coal with the powdered coal that has been recently supplied to run the engine.”
However, there was no sight of solid coal in Darjeeling. “All the lumps of coal that we had have already been used. That is why we faced problems today,” said a railway employee.
Garden closed after threat
TT, Alipurduar, March 26: The management of Debpara Tea Estate in Banarhat today put up a notice of suspension of work, a day after an assistant manager was threatened allegedly by a group of workers.
“Around 4.30pm yesterday, assistant manager P. Jha was surrounded by a group of youths at Rangati Busti, a workers’ colony, and was threatened that unless all houses were built anew, no construction would be allowed. The agitators also damaged the pillars that were being built,” said Subrata Saha, the manager. With Debpara, the number of closed gardens in the Dooars stands at 11.
Cop dead
Darjeeling: Shankar Nath Roy, 45, a constable of the state armed police, was killed when a bullet accidentally went off from his service revolver at the police camp in Gayabari on Friday. The 45-year-old cop was a resident of Kotwali in Cooch Behar.


Kalimnews : Gorkha Janmukti Morcha held a public meeting at Damber Chowk, Kalimpong with Norden Lama in the chair. Party leaders addressed the thinly attended meeting where Roshan Giri, General Secretary, Dr. H.B. Chhetri, Spokesperson, Samuel Gurung, Organising Secretary, Dooars, Smt. Asha Gurung, Nari Morcha leader etc. advocated in favour of the proposed interim set-up. They also vehemently criticised the 'oppositon' parties of the hill for misleading people on the wake of formation of a set-up. Dr. Chhetri said that the opposition leaders have not understood the contents of the interim set-up as proposed. Giri condemned the apprehension of Madan Tamang, ABGL leader and claimed that the proposed set-up should not be treated as VIth Schedule. The meeting was also attended among others by newly nominated President Smt. Sarita Rai and Secretary Subha Pradhan of Kalimpong sub-division committee.
Incidentally, Dawa Sherpa, newly nominated State Secretary of Bharatiya Janta Party, an alliance of the GJM in the hill, paid a visit to Kalimpong today and reportedly held an informal discussion with some of the non-GJM leaders like Pratap Khati, ABGL, D.K. Pradhan (GNLF/C) and others. He also addressed local media and criticised GJM for deviating the main agenda of Gorkhaland and demanding interim set-up which is not the aspiration of the hill people. About the BJP's top brass leaders' role in New Delhi, he said that they are working for the cause of Gorkhaland at national level day and night while the main protagonist of the issue i.e. the GJM is all set to remain as the slaves of Bengal by way of demanding interim set-up. According to Sherpa, the BJP was associated with the GJM till it raised the voice in favour of Gorkhaland. Since the GJM has turned back from the main agenda of the hill, now the BJP would start movement for the same, he added.
The political observers have started to view the visit of Sherpa to Kalimpong and decreasing attendance in the GJM's public meeting as new political developments.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Morcha threatens to unleash Gorkha squad - Rs 3 lakh promised to GLP members dying for statehood

A procession taken out by the Nari Morcha at Batasia, 4km from Darjeeling town, on Thursday to observe Chaita Dashain. Picture by Suman Tamang
TT, Darjeeling, March 25: Bimal Gurung has threatened to “let loose the GLP” on the administration if it does not stop harassing the common people in the hills. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president has also promised Rs 3 lakh each to families of Gorkhaland Personnel if they are killed during the statehood agitation that the party is spearheading.
“If the GLP members die during the agitation, the party will provide a compensation of Rs 3 lakh (each) to the next of kin,” Gurung told a gathering of party workers at the Ambotia tea garden, 50km from Darjeeling and in Kurseong subdivision, yesterday.
Soon after announcing the compensation, Gurung warned the state government against “continuously conducting raids and harassing the public in Kurseong”.
“If the administration does not stop conducting raids and harassing the public in Kurseong, I will let loose the GLP on them,” he warned. “The GLP is trained by ex-servicemen on every aspect of combat except the use of firearms.” Last month, police had conducted raids across Kurseong town following the attack on the police station there and the torching of the house of Shanta Chhetri, the GNLF MLA from Kurseong. Gurung was referring to the February 18 incident in which more than 70 party supporters were arrested in and around Siliguri for blocking NH55 and NH31 during a 24-hour bandh called by the Morcha’s student front. The arrests triggered the rampage and the arson in the hill town. “If ever there comes a time when people stop talking about Gorkhaland, I along with my GLP, will carry on with the struggle till my last breath,” he said.
The Morcha claims to have around 7,000 men and women in the GLP, who are paid a monthly remuneration of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500. The GLP is made up of volunteers raised initially — according to party claims — for crowd management during public programmes. Later, the party had tried to make it function like a parallel police force, checking cars to seize “illegal liquor”. The administration had then announced that the GLP seizures went against the law. Even though the Morcha president talked about “letting loose the GLP”, he laid stress on a “democratic agitation”.
“The kind of democratic agitation we have undertaken is an example for the rest of the country. Unlike the agitation (for statehood) of 1986 (started by Subash Ghisingh), when 1,200 people died and women along with children were taught to play with gunpowder, we are moving ahead in a peaceful manner now,” said Gurung.
The leader also lambasted Ghisingh for his brand of politics. “After the death of hundreds of his supporters, he left out the Dooars and Terai (from the purview of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council). We are now having to fight for this territory,” he said.
Gurung also referred to Ghisingh’s call to the common people to make offerings of tongba (intoxicant) to the gods and goddesses during his Sixth Schedule campaign. “If people want such a rule and such a leader (who wants people to make tongba offerings), it will be their loss,” he said. The GNLF had organised meetings at Longview and Sukna early this month. “Ninety-nine per cent of the people are fighting for Gorkhaland but a few of them, promoted by the state, are trying to derail our movement. For these people my Nari Morcha is enough. Our Nari Morcha members have long nails which can be used to good effect,” he said in jest.
The leader also had a word for Madan Tamang, the president of the ABGL, a Morcha rival. “For 40 years you (Tamang) were in politics and you should be able to show what you have done for the hill people,” Gurung said.
The Morcha president is currently touring the Kurseong subdivision, reorganising the party. “When our party was formed those who came forward initially became the leaders. Now we are seeing to it that the leaders are selected by the local people through election. This will help the party remain strong at the grassroots level,” Gurung said.
The process of dividing the party into block and zonal-level units has already been completed in Kalimpong subdivision. After Kurseong, Gurung is expected to carry out the exercise in Darjeeling as well. The Morcha plans to hold a large public meeting, to be addressed by Gurung, in Kurseong town on March 28.
Darjeeling BJP cry for Gorkhaland
TT, Darjeeling, March 25: The Darjeeling district committee of the BJP today adopted a resolution for the creation of Gorkhaland and announced that the party would organise political programmes in favour of statehood.
“Jaswant Singh had won the elections as a BJP candidate. The hill people had voted him for a separate state. Now, we find that the party (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) which was spearheading the movement is talking about an interim set-up. The Morcha seems to have taken rest but we have decided to go ahead with the agitation,” said Dawa Sherpa, who today relieved his charge as the working president of the district committee.
However, Sherpa, the newly appointed state secretary of the BJP, did not categorically oppose the “interim set-up” mooted by the Morcha. “It is their stand, but we are for Gorkhaland,” he said.
It is to be seen whether the committee’s stand will hamper relations between the Morcha and the BJP’s central leadership. The Morcha had virtually bypassed the state leaders while striking an electoral alliance with the BJP. The BJP state leadership had distanced itself from the Gorkhaland issue.
Asked if the state leadership would accept the resolution, Sherpa said: “The state leadership has not fully rejected the demand. Nonetheless, we passed the resolution today and the state leaders can make clear their stand.”
Hill & tribal unions share tea interest 

TT, Siliguri, March 25: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated labour union has decided to go along with the trade wing of a tribal outfit, once its bete noir, for “socio-economic development” of the three lakh-odd workers in tea estates of the Dooars and Terai .
Unlike other trade unions that are keeping a safe distance from the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (Dooars-Terai), formed by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad last week, leaders of the Morcha affiliate, the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said the new body would supplement their cause for the tea workers.
The Morcha and the Parishad moved closer after a hill party delegation met Adivasi leaders in the Dooars on March 15 with Bimal Gurung’s “secret proposal” for an interim set-up.
“We share a similar ideology and are not politically biased like the Citu or the Intuc. The deprivation of tea workers, be it in the hills, Terai or the Dooars, is felt by both the unions — unlike others who are interested in minting money from workers’ wages and using the workforce as a tool to fulfil their political interests,” said Suraj Subba, the Morcha union’s general secretary.
The Morcha union has wiped out the GNLF-run Himalayan Plantation Workers’ Union in all 87 gardens in the hills and enjoys majority in 12 gardens of the Terai, too.
“Our trade union was floated one-and-a-half years ago and today we have units in around 25 gardens in the Terai. In the Dooars, we are strong in 20-25 estates and have units in over 75 gardens,” Subba said.
Asked if the formation of the PTWU by the Parishad would affect their support base, Subba replied in the negative. “We do not feel that there will be any erosion (in the support base) as we, too, are fighting for the right cause. However, the new union has definitely become a cause of concern for leaders of the so-called established trade unions.”
Parishad leaders, who claimed to have formed PTWU units in 17 estates of the Dooars and Terai so far, said they would not have any problem working with the Morcha union.
“Several common issues associated with workers’ welfare are lying unattended,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the general secretary of the PTWU. “If any other trade union expresses interest to work for the socio-economic development of the tea workers, we are ready to work together. 
SC rejects Chamling asset probe- Petitioner told to directly approach CBI with proof
Samanwaya Routray, TT, New Delhi, March 25: The Supreme Court today said it was up to police and the executive to decide whether to file a corruption case against a politician and that the court cannot take a call on this score, dismissing a plea for a CBI probe into assets owned by the Sikkim chief minister and alleged to be disproportionate to his known sources of income.
“This court cannot sit in judgment over whether investigations should be launched against politicians for alleged acts of corruption,” a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, said, dismissing a plea by a dissident Sikkim Democratic Front leader, Kunga Nima Lepcha, and three others.
They had sought a court direction for a CBI probe into the assets chief minister Pawan Chamling allegedly amassed during his previous stint as the chief minister and consequent legal action in the form of an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Chamling is the leader of the ruling SDF in the state.
“The Supreme Court functions as a constitutional court as well as the highest appellate court in the country. If the Supreme Court gives direction for prosecution, it would cause serious prejudice to the accused, as the direction of this court may have far-reaching persuasive effect on the court which may ultimately try the accused,” the bench said.
“It is always open to the petitioners to approach the investigative agencies directly with the incriminating material and it is for the investigative agencies to decide on the further course of action.”
The bench also lamented the trend of political rivals filing motivated petitions in the court to settle scores. “Four individuals belonging to a political party raises the apprehension that they were motivated by a sense of political rivalry rather than a public-spirited concern about the misuse of office by the incumbent chief minister.”
The court’s extraordinary powers to interfere were only meant to be exercised in circumstances in which fundamental rights of citizens were violated, the bench said.
The four petitioners also levelled similar charges against 21 other members of Chamling’s family. They said the family had declared assets worth Rs 4,76,54,238 prior to the Assembly polls in 2004. However, the family’s assets stood at over Rs 25 crore, the petitioners alleged.
The PTI reports that Chamling, while reacting to the order, said in Gangtok: “Now that the bogey of corruption charges has been finally removed, I will dedicate myself to the service of state without fear. Since the filing of case in 2006, I was unable to fully concentrate on governance fearing that the rivals might drag me to court about every decision on financial matters.”
Teacher jobs
Rajiv Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, March 25: The state government has agreed to notify soon a five-member board for the regularisation of services of adhoc teachers and the non-teaching staff in government-aided schools in the hills.
The assurance was given today at a meeting of the leaders of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation (JSTO), education department officials and a representative of the DGHC in Calcutta.
The JSTO spokesperson, Bhisan Roka, told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta that additional chief secretary (education), Vikram Sen, had directed the DGHC to send a proposal for the constitution of the board at the earliest. The DGHC was represented by Sonam Bhutia, an additional district magistrate of Darjeeling.
The five-member board comprising two members from the field of education, two others recommended by the DGHC and a person of eminence from the hills will scrutinise the qualifications of the adhoc teaching and non-teaching staff and recommend their appointments.
Roka said the DGHC was expected to send its proposal by next week.
Chhetri to sign with Kansas City Wizards on Friday
PTI, NEW DELHI: India striker Sunil Chhetri will sign a contract with United States Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards on Friday, the MLS club said on Thursday.

"Indian forward Sunil Chhetri has agreed in principal to a deal with Major League soccer, pending medical and P-1 Visa approval," KC Wizards Manager Peter Vermes said.

"One thing we really like about Sunil is that he's a crafty player. Technically he's very sharp, and he's a guy that has good attacking tendencies," he added.
After signing his contract, Chhetri will hold a press conference early morning on Friday (Thursday evening USA time).
A teleconference of Indian media is being organised at 9 am by the Bangalore office of Cerner Corporation, a medical software company headquartered at North Kansas City whose boss Neal Patterson is the owner of KC Wizards.
Chhetri will become the third Indian player to ply trade in a professional league abroad after Mohamed Salim and current national captain Bhaichung Bhutia.
Salim played for Scottish side Celtic in pre-independence days of India while Bhaichung was with English Championship side Bury FC in the second division from 1999-2002.
The 25-year-old from Delhi will become the first Indian and eighth Asian citizen to play in MLS. He will also be the first Asian to play for the Kansas City Wizards.
Chhetri, who arrived in Kansas City on Tuesday night, will join the team for training later in the week. KC Wizards play their first match of MLS season on Saturday against DC United.
Chhetri has been a regular with the Indian national team since 2004, scoring 16 goals in 35 appearances. His most famous moment with the national team came in 2008, when he scored a hat-trick in the final of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup against Tajikistan.
Because of the victory in that tournament, India qualified for the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, the first time after 1984.
Chhetri began his professional career in 2002 with Mohun Bagan, scoring eight goals in 18 appearances over three years with the team.
He later played for I-League sides JCT, East Bengal and Dempo, making 75 appearances and scoring 35 goals over the next five years, earning Indian Player of the Year honour from the All India Football Federation in 2007.
Chhetri drew interest from British clubs Leeds United and Glasgow Celtic and appeared for trials last year with English Championships (second division) sides Coventry City and Queen's Park Rangers.
QPR offered Chhetri a contract but could not complete his move after the English Home Office denied him a work permit due to India's low FIFA rankings.