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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Asok and Surjya on Gorkha talks panel ...Local news on cellphone

Morcha mum, waits for official communication on names
Asok Bhattacharya
TT, Calcutta, March 8: Ministers Asok Bhattacharya and Surjya Kanta Mishra will represent the state at the political-level talks with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on March 18, the Bengal government said today.
There were no surprises when chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti announced the name of Morcha bete noir municipal affairs and urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya as one of the representatives. Bhattacharya’s name has been doing the rounds for sometime. The other representative, Mishra, is in charge of health and is a member of the CPM’s state secretariat.
The Morcha leadership had said on Sunday that it would declare the composition of its team only after the Bengal government disclosed the names of its representatives.
Told about today’s announcement, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said in Darjeeling: “Let us receive the official communication, then only we will react.”
At Writers’ Buildings today, Chakrabarti told reporters: “The municipal affairs minister and the health minister will attend the March 18 tripartite talks in Delhi over issues pertaining to the recent developments in the Darjeeling hills.”
Asked about the Morcha’s reservations to have Bhattacharya on the talks table, Chakrabarti said: “We cannot decide who will represent the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha at the talks. Similarly they, too, cannot dictate terms on who would represent the government at the Match 18-meeting. That simply cannot happen.”
State home secretary Ardhendu Sen will accompany the two ministers to Delhi to “assist them” for the fifth round of tripartite talks. “The home secretary will be going to Delhi to assist the health minister and the municipal affairs minister. I cannot tell you whether he will participate in the talks,” Chakrabarti said when asked if the bureaucrat would take part in the meeting to be held at the political level.
Surjya Kanta Mishra
The Union home ministry on Saturday formally intimated to the Morcha the date of the meeting along with names of its representatives. The four-member panel would be led by junior home affairs minister Ajay Maken. The other central representative is the Trinamul Congress minister of state, Dinesh Trivedi.
After the last round of talks in Darjeeling on December 21, Union home secretary G.K. Pillai had announced that the fifth round of talks would be at the political level, acceding to a request made by the Morcha leadership.
On March 2, Union home minister P. Chidambaram announced the date for the fifth round. The cabinet committee on political affairs had suggested such a panel for the fifth round of talks last month.
GJM ready to withdraw setup proposal
KalimNews: If there is public discontentment on the proposal of alternative setup of GJMM, it is ready to withdraw the proposal, said Dr.HB Chhetri , spokesperson of GJMM. He also confirmed that the proposal was made on the green signal received from the Central Government and it is as powerful as a state.
It is understood that the interlocutor of 4th tripartite meeting met the GJMM leaders with the proposal of the alternative setup. Lt.Gen(retired) V.J.Madan had clearly mentioned that the demand of statehood is absolutely impossible and proposal for another setup is the only alternative. In the 4th tripartite meeting the Central team came with an objective to publicly announce the proposal in the meeting but GJMM refused to discuss on the matter and insisted on the statehood demand . During the talks GJMM was in extreme public pressure after Madan Tamang of ABGL disclosed about alternative setup theory. Now GJMM has no alternative other than to opt for the alternative setup, political thinkers opine. 
Meanwhile GJYM a frontal youth wing of GJMM had announced that it will oppose if the alternative setup is not acceptable and is against the demand of Gorkhaland. But it hopes and is sure that as it is proposed by Bimal Gurung as it is for the benefit of Gorkhas.

Outfit seeking separate Gorkhaland state slams WB Government

ANI, Siliguri, Mar 8 : Madan Tamang, the leader of the ethnic Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, seeking creation of separate state of Gorkhaland slammed West Bengal Government for “discriminating against the Nepali-speaking people”.

Outfit seeking separate Gorkhaland state slams WB Government“Gorkhaland is nothing but aspirations of people, demand is genuine. There is disparity. There is discrimination that is why we are demanding separate state. We have tried our best but the West Bengal government whether it is CPM-Left, whether it is Congress or Trinamool (Congress), they have one policy to discriminate (against) Nepali-speaking people,” Tamang said here on Sunday.
Gorkhas have been demanding a separate state, to be carved out of West Bengal, to protect their culture and heritage.
The Gorkha population in West Bengal is estimated to be around a million.
Hill girls’ sms venture
Rajiv Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, March 8: Two young girls have been making gainful use of their mobile phones, sending out text messages of local and regional news headlines to subscribers interested in keeping themselves updated with breaking and developing stories.
The duo of Pranita Chhetri, 21, and Nikita Bariely, 22, had launched their news service, SMS Headlines Every Evening on Mobile (SHEEM), a little more than a month back. Till date they have 150 odd subscribers with some of them based in as far as Mumbai and Mizoram.
In Kalimpong alone, they have around 100 subscribers.
To get this daily service, one has to pay Rs 10 for registration and Rs 50 per month as subscription fee.
“We source our stories from the local television channel, radio and even the Internet. While selecting the top stories of the day, we are guided by Manoj Rai, who works for a local news channel,” said Pranita, a second-year English honours student of Kalimpong College.
After selecting the top stories of the day, the girls sit together in the evening and type in the headlines in their cellphones as a text message before sending it to their subscribers.
Nikita, a graduate in geography from the same college, said: “We mainly work from home. However, before sending out the messages in the evening, we come together at one place and do our work.”
Heera Chhetri, who has been guiding the two friends with the selection and presentation of the news items, said it was refreshing to see youngsters making good use of SMS. “When other kids use the technology for meaningless stuff, these two are using the same for gainful purposes. They need to be encouraged,” he said.
Currently, the subscribers get to read only the headlines of the top stories through SMS. The girls, however, said they have plans to upgrade the service in future by providing links that will enable a subscriber to read, hear or watch the news in detail.
“Depending on the feedback we receive from our subscribers, we intend to improve our services,” said Pranita.
The experience of working in such a venture, the girls hope, would hold them in good stead when they look for a full-time career.
“As it is, getting government jobs, or even private ones, are becoming increasingly difficult. This experience will better prepare us to stand on our own feet in the future,” said Pranita.
Strikes fail to stall projects in hills
TT, Darjeeling, March 8: Development projects are progressing in the Darjeeling hills despite 29 months of agitation for Gorkhaland, virtually emptying the coffers of the DGHC.
Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti, the Bengal chief secretary, might have complained about lack of development in the hills because of the agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, but figures given to The Telegraph by a senior DGHC official reveal an unexpected state of affairs in a region frequently rocked by strikes.
Since Cyclone Aila hit the hills in May 2009, the council has spent at least Rs 110 crore on development projects.
“After the cyclone, the DGHC received Rs 40 crore for relief work. We had other funds also and payments to the tune of Rs 110 crore have been made so far,” said B.L. Meena, the administrator of the DGHC.
Apart from the projects that were executed with Rs 110 crore, many others are being carried out now and the DGHC is preparing to pay Rs 21 crore. Most of the projects relate to repair or asphalting of roads across the hills and construction of protection walls to prevent mudslides. Once the Rs 21 crore is used, the council coffers will virtually go dry.
“As so many works are being taken up, we have already a liability of Rs 58 crore. We will have to write to both the central and the state governments for more funds to clear the dues of Rs 58 crore,” said Meena.
The DGHC is expected to receive another Rs 8 crore from the Centre soon. “The state government, too, released about Rs 5 lakh in February,” added the official.
Most of these works have been executed using non-plan funds or “untied funds”. “Apart from the untied funds, we also get money for specific programmes like the 100-days’ work and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and some tourism projects,” said Meena.
Even though Meena did not disclose the exact amount the council had received for the specific projects, he had earlier said it received around Rs 400 crore annually under what was termed as planned budget.
A rough estimate of the break-up of the funds under the planned budget is Rs 100 crore for100 days’ work, Rs 150 crore for mid-day meal and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Rs 100 crore for rural development and Rs 100 crore for the construction of roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna.
The Morcha president, Bimal Gurung, slammed the state government for the present funds crunch faced by the DGHC. “They (state) talk about development; we have allowed development to take place in the hills but they are now saying there are no funds,” he said at a meeting at Manju near Mirik yesterday.
“We are not into development but are directing the authorities (DGHC) to do work as and when the people come to us with their grievances,” Gurung said, implying that the party was not deciding the allocation of the funds. However, ABGL president Madan Tamang has alleged that the Morcha is directly involved in the allocation of the funds and has accused the party of being insincere with the agitation.
Closed’ tag on eight schools
TT, Darjeeling, March 8: The teachers’ union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has declared eight primary schools across the Darjeeling hills “closed” because of the absence of permanent teachers.
“Eight schools are now being run only by casual and voluntary teachers and we consider them as closed. Appointments to the posts of primary teachers have not been made for long and this is the fallout of the faulty system of the Bengal government. Since casual and voluntary teachers do not have any financial powers, the primary teacher’s union is terming these institutions as closed,” said Bhusan Thapa, the general secretary of the Gorkha Primary Teachers’ Organisation (GPTO).
The eight institutions are Milan Primary School, Lower Pritam Primary School, Phanpho Primary School (all in Kalimpong), Dooteria Primary School (Rimbick), Manju Primary School (Sonada), Kuwapani Primary School (Gorubathan), Chamong Unit Primary School (Nagri Farm) and Dhajea Tea Estate Primary School (Dhajea).
There are 774 primary schools in the hills, of which 170 have only one permanent teacher each. Two permanent teachers are posted at 233 schools.
The last recruitment drive for primary school teachers had been carried out in 2002. “Interviews for 120 posts were completed but the appointment letters have not yet been issued. This is a conspiracy of the state government to keep the hills backward,” alleged Thapa.
At the moment, there are 2,140 permanent teachers in the hills, apart from 868 casual and 407 voluntary teachers. Casual teachers are employed and paid by the DGHC.
B.L. Meena, the DGHC administrator, said: “The schools are being run by casual workers. There is no school board in the hills but we have written to the state government to put in such a mechanism immediately. Once the board is formed, things will be sorted out”.
He admitted that the 120 teachers who had appeared for the interview in 2002 had not been appointed. “The panel (of selected candidates) had been prepared but Subash Ghisingh (then DGHC chairman) did not give the appointment orders. I do not think that the list will be valid for so long.”
Ex-rebel levels ‘harass’ charge against cops
TT, Raiganj, March 8: A youth, claiming to be a former Naxalite, today complained to the district magistrate of North Dinajpur that he has been “harassed” by police for the past two years in connection with extremist activities in north Bengal and Maoist movement in West Midnapore.
Mahadeb Biswas, in his mid-thirties, spoke to Ramanuj Chakraborty, the district magistrate, for about 30 minutes in his chamber.
Emerging from the chamber, Mahadeb claimed that the police had taken him to different places in West Midnapore, Purulia and Jharkhand at least 25 times over the past two years. “Whenever a Maoist is either shot dead or arrested in those areas, I am taken there and asked about their antecedents. I have told the police that our erstwhile leader in the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), whom we referred to as Shahebda, now holds a key position and is known by some other name,” he said.
Recently, a CID team had picked him up from his home at Adulpur village in Karandighi, took him to Calcutta and grilled him about Shahebda, Mahadeb said. “They showed me photographs and asked me to identify Shahebda and other men. I could not recognise any of them. At present, I earn a living by giving private tuition and the frequent police visits have been affecting me and my family. We are looked upon with suspicion by the local people.”
He said he had joined the MCC in 1992 and formed a base in north Bengal. Within a short while, he became a member of the outfit’s core committee. “In 2001, Shahebda joined Kishanji after the People’s War was formed. However, I did not agree with their ideology and quit the organisation. Even though I have no links with them, I get Maoist literature by post,” said the former Naxalite.
He said he had been arrested on several occasions. On each occasion, the police could not prove the charges and had to release him.
“I had visited special inspector-general of police, north Bengal, K. L. Meena, in Jalpaiguri in 2005 and told him that I had no links with any ultra groups. He had assured me that I would not be harassed but that promise has not been kept,” Mahadeb said.
The district magistrate said he had a talk with the former MCC member. “He complained to me about being harassed. I will talk to the police to judge the veracity of his claims,” Chakraborty said.
North Dinajpur police chief Milon Das appeared unaware about Mahadeb’s allegations. “He could have come to me as well. I will look into the matter if the district magistrate wants me to,” Das said.
In Calcutta, CID officers investigating the Maoist movement have confirmed that Mahadeb had been brought to Calcutta. “We often pick up people with links with Naxalite outfits for questioning to help our investigations and he is no exception,” an officer said.

Out of syllabus question in Maths creates trouble for examinees

SNS, KOLKATA/DURGAPUR, 8 MARCH: Madhyamik examinees had to face another round of trouble today as one question in Mathematics paper was reportedly out of the syllabus and there was a printing mistake in the Bengali version of another question. 

The officials of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education  (WBBSE) said the matter has been referred to the expert committee for their opinion on the incident. Teachers and students complained that the five-mark question on a theorem was not included in the syllabus. Question number 10(b) read: “If two triangles are equiangular, prove that their corresponding sides are propotional”. According to teachers, students have read the statement but do not know how to prove it. 
Prof Mamata Ray, president of the WBBSE said although the theorem was not included in the syllabus, the solution of the theorem was given on page number 147 of the textbook. 
Similarly, a printing error in Question number 13 (a) in the Bengali version of the question paper left students confused. In the question, the “area of a path” has been given in “square cm” instead of “square meter”.  An examinee complained that she failed to solve the question and after trying hard for 15 minutes she had to attempt another question. Prof Ray said students who have solved the question correctly by using “square cm” will also be given marks in this case. The question carried four marks. 
Earlier, there was a printing error in a two-and-a-half marks question in Geography as well. Students appeared for the Geography exam on 2 March. Students had been asked to write about “Summer and Winter Equinox” although such terms do not exist. 

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