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Friday, April 30, 2010


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hill talks shifted to May end ..

TT, 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.
After the March 18 tripartite talks, the Morcha participated in two more rounds of dialogue, one at the bureaucratic-level on March 29. The last meeting was with home minister P. Chidambaram on April 9. However, with the Morcha sticking to its stand to include the Nepali-dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed interim set-up and the state and the Centre opposed to the idea, the talks had not progressed much.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung has been currently addressing a series of meetings across the Darjeeling hills to spread the message that the party will not accept a set-up without the territories (read Dooars, Terai) it wants. Gurung had also conveyed the same message to Madan during their meeting at Dudhia in Kalimpong last week. Asked about the stalemate, Madan said: “My job is only to listen to the views of all parties concerned. If I have any view I can only express it before the home ministry. Various views are being attributed to me by the media but I have only once spoken on record recently.”
By “on record” Madan was referring to his conversation with The Telegraph where he had said the tripartite meetings would only involve the representatives of the Morcha, state and the central government. “The clarification was needed as it was getting crowded (with demands to be included in the talks),” he said.
The reference was to the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad that had demanded that the next round of tripartite talks should include the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes so that the views of the tribals living in the Dooars and Terai could be aired at the meeting.
During the first round of political talks, the Centre was represented by the minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken and the Trinamul Congress minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi. Siliguri MLA and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had represented the state.
Civic protest
TT, Siliguri, April 29: The DYFI today submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate of Darjeeling, demanding the immediate transfer of the subdivisional officer of Siliguri, while its parent body, the CPM, asked the mayor to step down as she was elected to the post with Left support.
This morning, about 300 DYFI supporters shouted slogans against SDO Rajat Saini on his office premises, accusing him of ordering the lathicharge to disperse CPM members picketing in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation during the 12-hour Left strike on Tuesday. They also took out a rally from Hill Cart Road to the SDO office before submitting the memorandum to the additional district magistrate of Siliguri.
“We demand steps against the SDO and N.C. Das, the police inspector who led the lathicharge, and a thorough inquiry on the attack on our supporters and councillors,” said Shankar Ghosh, the Darjeeling district DYFI secretary.
Tapan Burman, the ADM of Siliguri, said: “I will forward it to the DM. I have also assured them of an inquiry.”
State committee member of the CPM Jibesh Sarkar said they had extended support to mayor Gangotri Dutta after a request from the Congress. “On March 30, the present Congress-led board joined hands with the Trinamul Congress. Now we demand that she should resign on ethical ground and get re-elected.”
Manmohan Singh, PM of India met Shri Madhav Kumar Nepal Nepali Prime Minister and HM Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck,King of Bhutan at the bilateral meeting, on the sidelines of SAARC Summit, in Thimphu, Bhutan on April 29, 2010. (Pix:PIB)
Bhutan agrees to bilateral talks
Bhutan has agreed to resume ministerial level bilateral talks with Nepal to discuss on the issue of  its citizens who are languishing as refugees in Nepal, according to Kuenselonline.  During a short meeting with the Nepalese PM, Madhav Kumar Nepal yesterday in Thimpu, Prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Y. Thinley expressed Bhutan’s willingness to put an end to the  refugee problem through bilateral dialogue between these two neighbors.
There has not been any official talks between them after fifteen rounds of Nepal-Bhutan ministerial level dialogues that were held in different times in the past failed to find a concrete solution to the refugee crisis.
More than one hundred thousand Bhutanese citizens of Nepali ethnicity had been living in seven UNHCR administered refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang district in Eastern Nepal, out of which Thirty thousand have so far been resettled in western countries including the United States, Australia among others. Lately the UK also has expressed its willingness to resettle at least one thousand Bhutanese in its land with in this year.
Sources say that during the meeting, Mr. Nepal also  requested the  government of Bhutan to repatriate the remaining refugees in the camps.
At a separate press conference in Thimpu, Bhutanese  Minister in-charge of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Khandu Wangchuk said that the Bhutanese refugee problem is a bilateral issue and that both the governments have to work together to find a lasting solution. “This is a difficult problem and we are constantly discussing all options and we will continue to talk”, Wangchuk said in response to a  query of an American journalist on Tuesday. shared by
Unemployment hits Pittsburgh- 50 Bhutanese laid off
Bhutanese at lunch break at Quality Driven Copack/post gazette
Bhanu Phuyel, Pittsburgh, Bhutanusa. com : “Having trouble finding a job in other states, you might give Pennsylvania a try”  this has been a popular saying among the Bhutanese resettled in different parts of the United States since the  employment situation of this state is said to be comparatively better. Dreaming for an entry level job to survive in this dire economic condition, Bhutanese refugees who were relocated in different US states are moving to Pennsylvania, particularly Pittsburgh.  But, this ‘Keystone State’ is no more a  favorable destination for us now.
Though the  Pennsylvania Department of Labor and  Industry recently brought forth a report saying  there was a healthy employment growth in the first quarter of the year, 2010, yet, the unemployment rate has  swelled up one tenth of a percentage point to 9% in March this year. As a consequence,  stories of more and more lay-off have frustrated the residents, especially the newly resettled Bhutanese.
Quality Driven Copack, a  food-packing plant factory nestled on a small hill in North Charleroi, a producer of breakfast sandwiches, chicken patties and other frozen foods had  employed more than 80 Bhutanese refugees some  2 months ago through a staffing agency called “Taste of Asia, LLC”.
About 50 families moved to Charleroi to get a  job in this company from different parts of USA, mostly from Idaho. Unfortunately,  50 of the Bhutanese working in the company were fired on April 26  without any reason. Many believe the company laid them off as the sales declined.
They came  here from other states with a prospect of finding a stepping stone and are now compelled to  stay idly at home. The time is hard for them to pay rent, buy food for their children and survive.
These days its very hard to find job even in Pittsburgh, the city that was included in the Top Ten  for job growth by Forbes in 2009. “I have been trying in different companies for a job, but still the situation doesn’t seem to be in my favor”, said a Bhutanese refugee in Pittsburgh who moved to this city from another state with his family a few months ago.” “The present job situation in other cities of PA might be good but not of Pittsburgh”, he added.
“If you are trying to move to this place hoping to find a job, please think twice before you make a decision”, another resettled Bhutanese in Pittsburgh said.
Cong and Trinamul to clash in 11 seats
TT, Siliguri, April 29: The Congress today announced candidates for all the 25 wards of the Jalpaiguri municipality, further alienating the Trinamul Congress that stuck to its demand for 11 seats.
As Trinamul has also declared that its 11 candidates will file nominations tomorrow, there is no room for an alliance.
“The only option left for the two parties is to reach a consensus in the next few days and withdraw the nominations accordingly by May 6 to ensure that there is only one candidate of either Trinamul or the Congress in each seat,” said a political observer.
Jalpaiguri district Congress president Biswaranjan Sarkar, along with the chairman of the civic body, Mohan Bose, and other leaders, announced the candidates’ list this afternoon. While 23 candidates will be contesting on the Congress symbol, the rest will be Independents backed by the party. They will be fielded in Wards 11 and 13.
“We had earnestly tried to clinch an electoral pact with Trinamul, but they kept on insisting that 11 seats be kept aside for them,” said Sarkar. “We had little option other than announcing the names for all the seats. We will be fielding Independents in Wards 11 and 13 based on the feedback we had received from the residents. All our candidates will file their nominations tomorrow.”
Chandan Bhowmik, the district secretary-general of Trinamul, while announcing the candidates, including four women, said: “We want to make it clear that Trinamul has a support base and at the same time, it is interested in forging an alliance with the Congress. That is why we have refrained from fielding candidates in all the seats.”
The observer said the Congress would face troubles in the other 14 wards also, though Trinamul has not fielded candidates in those seats. “It is not that the Congress candidates in the remaining wards can be sure of getting votes from Trinamul supporters as there will be an underlying resentment if no alliance is formed,” he said.
Sikkim soccer scheme pays dividends- ‘Search for more Bhaichungs’ yields 18 footballers in 10 yrs
Bijoy Gurung, TT, Gangtok, April 29: Soccer lovers here still remember October 2006 when two teenagers, Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri of the Sports Academy of Sikkim, ran riot during the Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament at the Paljor Stadium.
So sterling were the duo’s performance that then Air India coach Bimal Ghosh straightaway picked up right-winger Sanju and stopper Nirmal for his team. The two are now part of the Calcutta giant East Bengal playing alongside their idol Bhaichung Bhutia.
Sanju and Nirmal are also the products of a campaign named after the Indian football captain — Search for More Bhaichungs — launched by the Sikkim government on April 2, 1999.
The same year, the government also set up the Sports Hostel in South Sikkim’s Namchi to translate chief minister Pawan Chamling’s dreams of spotting more talented footballers in the state into reality.
Around 3,000 Under-14 players from across Sikkim had turned up for trials and of them, 30 best were inducted into the Namchi hostel to receive the state-sponsored coaching and education.
Sanju and Nirmal were among the first batch of the 30 shortlisted players who had graduated to the academy in Gangtok in 2006 for further training and higher education. They were replaced by another batch of U-14 children at the Namchi hostel to infuse more young blood and maintain the production line.
The batch at the academy practise daily at the Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, while the junior players in Namchi do the drill at the Bhaichung Stadium in South Sikkim. After the morning workout, they march off to their respective schools.
As the Search for More Bhaichungs completes 10 years, the government’s two initiatives have contributed much to the state and Indian football. Besides Sanju and Nirmal, Ashish Chettri and Pema Thendup Sherpa are now playing for the Eastern Railway, Calcutta, Sanjay Chettri for the Leyang Club, Shillong and Bikash Jairu and Robing Gurung are with the ONGC, Mumbai. Few others have done stints with the Mohun Bagan SAIL Football Academy. Till date, at least six products of the scheme have represented India in the U-14, U-16 and the U-19 tournaments.
Bhaichung today is happy to see the success of the campaign. “It is a wonderful scheme and it’s doing and done some very good work,” he told The Telegraph. “Both Sanju and Nirmal are doing really well (in East Bengal) which gives the kids from Sikkim a lot of confidence that they too can play and make a good living from football.”
The Indian soccer captain, however, suggested proper grounds for initial practice. “The authorities should be more flexible in letting the kids go for better teams if the offer comes,” he said. “The coaches need to get more training from well-known academies from abroad or from trainers who have vast knowledge on youth development.”
Almost all the recruits hail from poor families and are assured of a career and education after being inducted into the academy and the hostel.
The academy’s chief coach, Hangu Norden Lepcha, said: “The most important part of the scheme is that since its inception 18 players have been inducted either with clubs or have been employed by the navy, air force, army and police on sports quota. We are like a factory, producing players.” He is helped by Milan Singh and warden Suresh Mukhia.
“During selection, we look for the inborn talent and natural skills. Anybody can juggle a ball after some practice but we look for those who have the vision and the good positioning skills,” said Thupden Rapgyal Bhutia, the deputy director (coaching) of the state sports and youth affairs department. 
Varsity Registrar gets bail
TT, Siliguri, April 29: Dilip Sarkar, the suspended registrar of North Bengal University, appeared before additional chief judicial magistrate Amit Chakraborty today and secured an interim bail.
Sarkar got an anticipatory bail from Calcutta High Court on April 22 that had directed him to appear before the additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) within four weeks. He has been charged with misappropriation of funds from the varsity’s confidential accounts. Sarkar has been asked to appear before the ACJM on May 13.
Tea meet
TT, Calcutta: The state government will meet the trade unions and planters’ associations of tea gardens on May 6 at Writers’ Buildings to discuss the demand for interm wage hike raised by the CPM-affiliated Co-ordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers (CCTPW) and other trade unions. “The CCTPW has expressed its intention to go on an agitation in the gardens. They demand an interim wage hike. We will try and find a solution,” said state labour minister Anadi Sahu.
KalimNews: SDF candidates is elected in all the 47seats of Civic poll in Sikkim. Earlier it was elected uncontested in  44 seats and only in the 3 seats election was held. The counting of the poll was held yesterday in which 3 candidates of SDF were declared elected.
CRPF stationed at SD Library in Kalimpong moved yesterday for an unknown destination. It is yet uncertain whether they will be replaced by another company or they have moved for good.
Nepali diaspora and illegal immigration.

By RP Subba
This article was published in the Kathmandu Post in March 28, 1998. It is being reproduced here for further introspection.
Approximately six million Nepalese job hunters living in India, those working in South Asian countries and the Middle East and Nepalese living in Europe and United States called the Non-resident Nepalese (NRNs) constitute the ‘Nepali’ diaspora. These ‘Nepalese’ emigrants live outside under different arrangements. India, which is the largest destination, offers shelter as per treaty with Nepal, which provides reciprocal rights to citizens of either country to live and work in the other, except political rights. In other countries, they live under Nepalese visa and work permits issued by respective countries. HMG’s Labour Ministry permits Nepalese to go abroad through companies registered under the Foreign Employment Act to thirteen countries viz, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea and Taiwan.

Statehood strife & sloth steamroll sports dreams

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, April 28: In the late 1950s, when Darjeeling had a population of 60,000, it boasted of 18 lawn tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, a mini racecourse, along with more than a dozen badminton and table tennis facilities.
Today, when the population has tripled, there is neither a golf course nor a horse course. The town has only four lawn tennis courts to show off and two of them belong to educational institutions.
Hayden Hall and the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club are the only places where few people can play badminton. There is hardly any place to play table tennis.
In the past, international players like Prakash Padukone — the first Indian to win the All England Badminton Championship — had visited Darjeeling to play at the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Public Hall. National football teams like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and clubs from Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan used to regularly participate in hill tournaments.
“Records show that in 1926, the Gymkhana Club had 16 lawn tennis courts,” said Manoj Brahmin, the assistant secretary of the club.
Roshankant Ghisingh, a resident of Darjeeling who had represented Delhi in the national table tennis tournament in 1989, said: “During our days, we could play table tennis at District Cultural Institute, Buddha Singh Sporting Club, Station Club, Hayden Hall, Nripendra hall and Gymkhana Club. After football, the most popular sport in the hills was table tennis,” he said.
In the late 1970s, the Gymkhana Club had hosted the junior nationals in table tennis.
“If we talk about football, the then Darjeeling team (in the late 1970s) could beat heavyweights like Mahindra and Mahindra. We used to be hired to play for teams in Bhutan. In 1982, we were paid Rs 5,000 for a single match in Bhutan. The standards have gone down to such an extent that Darjeeling teams now have to hire players from outside the region,” said Naresh Nath Pradhan, an ex-player.
The violent Gorkhaland agitation that started in 1986 and the general apathy of the local people have led to a complete death of the sports culture in Darjeeling.
The bungalow at the nine-hole golf course was burnt down during the agitation. The last contest at the Lebong racecourse was on October 31, 1984. The Brigade of Gurkhas Gold Cup has become erratic and failed to attract national teams after the agitation.
The place where the golf course was situated has been bulldozed, as the DGHC wanted to set up a helipad. Following concerns from environment organisations, the plan was shelved but the damage has been permanently done.
During the agitation, paramilitary forces were stationed at the Gymkhana Club and the Nripendra hall.
“Wherever we go, many old timers still recount the rich sporting legacy of the town. Players from the hills have better physique but they have not been able to shine because of lack of sporting facilities,” said Ghisingh.
But at a time when everything seems to be lost, the Gymkhana Club has provided a silver lining.
“We have to revive our lost glory. We have spruced up our tennis court. A tennis tournament will be organised and players from Bhutan, Nepal, Delhi, Bangalore and other parts of the country will be participating in it,” said Madan Subba, the finance co-ordinator of the Gymkhana Club. The tournament to mark the centenary celebrations of the club will start on April 30.
“We have also submitted a proposal to the state government to set up a mini sporting complex at the club at an estimated cost of Rs 90 lakh,” said Subba.
“If the project is sanctioned, we will open the facilities for the public at a very nominal rate,” he added.
The little sport facilities left in the hills are now with the elite educational institutions, but they are out of bounds for the common man. “Many talents are disappearing for no fault of theirs,” said Ghisingh.
3 years on, Idol sings to hill tune- Prashant dreams of Bollywood
Bejoy Gurung, TT, Gangtok, April 28: Gorkhaland is a must for Indian Gorkhas, Prashant Tamang said, although he thinks that the renewed statehood movement in the Darjeeling hills should not be credited to him.
At a time when his co-finalist and close friend Meiyang Chang is ready to hit the silver screen with the Sahid Kapoor starrer Badmaash Company next month, the Indian Idol 3 winner is about to complete his second Nepali feature film, though of a much lesser budget and reach.
But as Tamang, a Calcutta Police constable, puts it, he is taking life step by step.
“I am taking life step by step and everything will happen in a gradual manner. Opportunities and good results will come with patience and hard work,” Tamang told The Telegraph during a shoot at MG Marg here a few days back.
Today Tamang was in Majitar, 36km from Gangtok and one of the many locales in Sikkim where Angalo Yo Maya Ko, the Nepali feature film, is being shot. Almost 90 per cent shooting has been completed, said Kathmandu-based director Vinod Sereng.
The film has a budget of around Rs 30-35 lakh, said the director. Tamang is playing the lead role besides singing a couple of tracks in the film including the title song. His character is a spoilt brat who later turns into a new leaf.
“This is my second film, and my first, Gorkha Paltan, is scheduled to be released in Kathmandu in April-May,” said Tamang, who is keen on Bollywood. “It is not easy but I will not stop dreaming, and will continue trying to get into Bollywood,” he said.
Asked about his experience after Indian Idol 3, Tamang said he had kept himself busy with film projects and shows. “I was mostly engaged in shootings and there are two-three more projects (in the anvil) but I have not finalised them yet,” he said.
“The most important thing for me is to continue getting the same love that I had received from the people earlier,” said Tamang, who visits Darjeeling frequently, but does not hold many shows there. “However, I have a show in Mirik.”
The Idol-turned-film hero does not shy away from talking about Gorkhaland. He, however, said the statehood movement should not be credited to him. “There was great unity among the hill people during my Indian Idol challenge and such unity should be maintained to take the movement ahead,” he said. “Gorkhaland is must for the identity of the Indian Gorkhas…Everyone knows about the Indian Gorkhas, the only thing needed is to strengthen our identity.”
In 2007, the Morcha was born after its president Bimal Gurung cashed in on the strong anti-Subash Ghisingh sentiment that swept through the Darjeeling hills during the campaign launched to help Tamang win Indian Idol 3. The GNLF chief had refused to publicly back Tamang even as the entire Gorkha community in Bengal and across the country put its collective might behind the singer from Darjeeling.
Since then, political equations have changed. In 2007, Gurung and his supporters had shouted pro-Pawan Chamling slogans much to Ghisingh’s chagrin. Three years later, the Morcha supporters are no longer eulogising the Sikkim chief minister, but accusing him of doing little to help the outfit attain Gorkhaland.
But does Tamang, still consider Sikkim his second home? “No. Rather, both Sikkim and Darjeeling are my only homes,” Tamang said.
Director Sereng complimented Tamang’s acting skills. “We hope to wrap up the shooting by the second week of May,” said Sereng.
The director said the film was shot in various parts of Sikkim like Aritar, Namchi and Rabongla, besides Gangtok, Majitar. He said it would be released in September with the premiere in Gangtok. Most of the cast in the film are from Sikkim and Darjeeling.
Remove SDO cry in Left hub
TT, Siliguri, April 28: More than 200 CPM supporters today demonstrated in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, demanding the immediate removal of the subdivisional officer who had allegedly ordered police to batoncharge those blocking the SMC’s entrance yesterday.
Using loudspeakers, the protesters, who included CPM district leaders and most of the councillors, began the sloganeering at 10.30am. They also demanded action against the police officers carrying out the lathicharge and accused the mayor and other Congress leaders of inciting the law enforcers to attack the “peaceful demonstrators” during yesterday’s 12-hour strike.
Today, policemen armed with batons were deployed at the site and keeping a watch over the situation.
“We want immediate removal of the SDO, Rajat Saini, who had ordered the police to lathicharge the peaceful demonstration of the councillors and the CPM workers in front of the SMC without any provocation,” said Mukul Sengupta, a CPM councillor and the Siliguri zonal committee secretary. “The mayor and other councillors from the Congress and the Trinamul Congress are responsible for instigating the police and the administration against us. We condemn it and will carry out our protests across the subdivision unless our demands (of transferring the SDO and taking steps against the police) are met.”
The CPM claimed that 19 of its supporters had been injured in the lathicharge.
“After the incident, we perceived that the SDO had reached the spot with a plan and ordered the lathicharge without any provocation. It is an irony that the mayor denied having any clue about the police action,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a state committee member of the CPM.
Today, inspector general of police K.L. Tamta said he was expecting a report from the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri. “Once I receive it, I will forward it to the appropriate quarters.” Saini said he had sent a report of the incident to the district magistrate yesterday.
At the SMC today, the Congress and Trinamul Congress councillors passed the first logo of the civic body. The Opposition Left councillors boycotted the meeting.
“We had invited designs for the logo last month and got response from artists from across north Bengal. A seven-member committee formed for this purpose finalised the logo,” said Nantu Pal, the deputy mayor. “We will publish it on May 9 on the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

 The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh inspecting Guard of Honour on his arrival at Paro International Airport, to attend the 16th SAARC Summit, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.(PIB)

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Smt. Gursharan Kaur being received by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Mr. Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, at Paro International Airport, in Bhutan on April 28, 2010.(PIB)
 Final document likely to demonstrate SAARC efficacy
Special Correspondent, TH, THIMPHU: Bhutan which has declined thrice to host the summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), has finally decked itself up for the 16th summit beginning here on Wednesday.
Though overshadowed by the prospects of a meeting between the Indian and Pakistan Prime Ministers, officials are busy working out the final document intended to demonstrate the efficacy of the eight-member grouping after nearly two decades of inaction — it was only at the 14th summit in Delhi that the SAARC resolved to move beyond the declaratory to implementation.
Driving force
With India as the driving force, the current summit is expected to unveil two agreements: one on environment and the other on trade in services. The pact on environment is likely to see announcements on a regional institutional architecture to tackle climate change, and the setting up of 50 weather stations in member countries, beginning with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, to provide storm warning.
The climate change pact is aimed at evolving a fresh SAARC position as per the Bali Action Plan and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The agreement on trade in services is meant to give a fillip to regional trade which, as several studies have shown, is the poorest among all regional trading blocs in the world.
India is also pushing for agreements on motor vehicles and railways and rapid response to natural disasters. Officials say a couple of countries, including Pakistan, have reservations about the prospects of a “combined rapid response” force and have sought clarifications.
Islamabad also wants a holistic arrangement for regional connectivity that clears some of the doubts among the member-countries.
However, with India taking the lead, the vision of a region-wide physical connectivity unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is being implemented bilaterally and among three countries, as in the case of Nepal-India-Bangladesh and Bhutan-India-Bangladesh.
The expert-level meeting, which was to have been held in Kathmandu earlier this month, was postponed at Pakistan's request. Similarly the movement on anti-terrorism has stalled, with Nepal having sought postponement of a meeting of the SAARC Home Ministers scheduled in Islamabad for earlier this year to give an impetus to the SAARC Ministerial Declaration on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism. However, a rudimentary structure to share unclassified information on terrorist and drug-related cases is already functioning.
To give trade a fillip, India is also keen on some pact that will bring down non-tariff barriers.
New beginning
Officials point out that the 14th SAARC summit in Delhi marks a new beginning. India is the first and only SAARC member to have committed itself to pay nearly Rs.1,000 crore for a development fund even before its regional office in Bhutan is yet to take shape. India has also moved rapidly on setting up a South Asian University which, the officials, said is likely to be operational after five years.
What is an Identity? RP Subba
On the outset, let me begin with a simple premise that the ‘identity’ of the ‘Nepali speaking’ Bhutanese people is shrouded in confusion. To make matters worse, the confusion continues to grow. ‘Identity’ here and for the purpose of this article refers to ‘ethnic or cultural distinctiveness or characteristics’ of people covered under study. This study covers the Nepali speaking people of southern Bhutan popularly called the ‘Southern Bhutanese’. For more...CLICK HERE

No division says Bengal.....15 quit posts after chief censures..

Focus on ‘unified’ Bengal 
TT, Calcutta, April 27: The Bengal chief secretary said today that the next round of political-level talks on the proposed interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills would lay stress on a “unified picture” of the state.
“The (tripartite) meeting will mainly lay stress on maintaining a unified picture of West Bengal. The talks will also address issues related to the development of the Darjeeling hills and call for the need to maintain harmony among the people of the Terai and the Dooars,” said chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti.
He was speaking to journalists after attending a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings to discuss matters related to the next round of tripartite talks.
The meeting was also attended by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and home secretary Ardhendu Sen. The two ministers had represented the state government at the first round of the political-level talks which took place in Delhi on March 18.
The next round of tripartite meeting will be held in the middle of the next month in New Delhi.
Morcha leaders give up portfolios 
TT, Darjeeling, April 27: Around 15 leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Rangbull unit have relinquished their posts after they received a dressing down from the outfit’s president Bimal Gurung.
The leaders will, however, remain with the party as ordinary members.
On April 25, while addressing a meeting on the Agriculture Farm premises, 14km from here, Gurung scolded the party workers for “only talking about the revival of the farm”.
“I think I am being brought here just to see the farm. You (leaders) have only been harping on the revival of this farm and seem to be least bothered about the bigger issue of the set-up (the interim arrangement for the hills). Once you lay your hands on the microphone, you don’t want to end your speeches. You are preventing the common people from meeting me. They now want to leave (the venue) because you had called them at 9.30am and now it is 3.30 in the afternoon. They have work to do but you are not concerned,” Gurung had told the gathering.
Later, however, he told the gathering about the set-up. “The interlocutor told me that the state government is willing to discuss the territory issue regarding Siliguri subdivision. I have told him that Siliguri has always been a part of Darjeeling district and I will not compromise on the areas north of the highway (NH31) in the Dooars.”
A Morcha leader of the Rangbull unit, today, said after Gurung’s rebuke, the people had ridiculed the local leadership. “People told us we had no self-respect, clinging on to posts even after receiving a thorough dressing down. It is then that we held a meeting at the Rangbull party office at 2.30pm yesterday, where we decided to relinquish our posts and remain as ordinary members.”
Ravindra Lama, the president of the Morcha’s Rangbull-Dooteriya block committee, has confirmed the resignations. “They said they were merely giving up their portfolios but would remain with the party. We are trying to sort out the matter.”
The Rangbull-Dooteriya block looks after Rangbull, Gorkha Busty, Upper Kalej Valley, Lower Kaley Valley, Balasun and Dooteriya I and II units.
The Agriculture Farm was established in 1859. It has remained defunct since its destroyed during the Gorkhaland agitation in the 1980s. “Around 600-700 people used to be employed with the farm once. When the DGHC took charge, it constructed only one godown but never really revived it,” said Lama.
The Rangbull unit of the Morcha wanted Gurung to intervene to help revive the farm.
Rs 5 crore suit
The Morcha today filed a defamation suit of Rs 5 crore against ABGL chief Madan Tamang for alleging at a media conference that the outfit had misappropriated Rs 1,200 crore from the DGHC.
Taranga Pandit, a lawyer and a central committee member of the party, said: “The case has been filed at the court of the civil judge (senior division) and will come up for hearing on May 5.”
CPRM  blames GJMM
KalimNews:CPRM has expressed its satisfaction that at ast true nature of GJMM is disclosed to all. Referring to a recent murder arrest of two GJMM cadres allegedly involved in murder of Pushparaj Thapa of  Sallabari Chungthung, CPRM General Secretary RB Rai said that GJMM is not at all Gandhibadi, its just an pretext. He furher said that May Day will be celebrated by CPRM and it will start its new phase of agitational motivation for Gorkhaland.
Civic election in Sikkim held
KalimNews:Municipality election in 2 seats of Gangtok (Upper Burtuk and Tadong) and 1 seat of Rongpu Municipality was held peacefully.Of the contesting candidates 3 are from SDF and 4 Independent candidates. In the rest of the 44 seats of Gangtok, Rongpu, Gyalshing, Jorethang, Namchi and Mangan SDF candidates were declared uncontested elected as Opposition candidates boycotted alleging impartial judgement and denial of transperency. Counting is scheduled to be held on 29th April.
SAT link plan for Sikkim 
TT, Gangtok, April 27: The BSNL is working on a two-pronged strategy that includes a satellite system to beef up the communication network in North Sikkim, a strategic area bordering China and a melting pot for tourism.
Currently, North Sikkim, a remote and under-developed district among the four in the Himalayan state, is linked through the overhead optical fibre cable. The two new mediums of communication that the telecom giant is going to add are — another optical fibre cable mounted on power transmission lines and a satellite system, said the BSNL’s Sikkim circle general manager S.K. Mahto.
“The overhead cables are already in place and areas like Chungthang, Lachen and Lachung in North Sikkim are under our network,” Mahto said. Work for laying cables on power transmission lines between Gangtok and Mangan (69km away) is about to be completed.
“We have been working on estimates for extending these lines up to Chungthang (another 29km from Mangan) and work will start after the state power department finishes installing its towers out there,” Mahto told The Telegraph.
The BSNL is also considering setting up a satellite system at Chungthang whose network will cover areas like Lachung and Lachen, both tourism hotspots and gateway to Yumthang Valley and the Gurudongmar lake.
Chungthang, 98km from Gangtok, is the gateway to Lachen and Lachung. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the army manning the Indo-China border in North Sikkim also have their bases in Chungthang.
Mahto said the chief secretary of Sikkim would meet officials of the telecom department in New Delhi next week to discuss the installation of the satellite system at Chungthang. “Once the proposal is approved and bandwidth and equipment provided to us, the satellite system will be installed in six months,” he added.
Recently, tourism stakeholders from Lachung had complained of erratic BSNL services, which they said, were hampering summer tourism.
“Thanks to poor services, we cannot know beforehand how many tourists are coming and make accommodations for them. Sometimes the highway is blocked because of landslides and tourists and the local people can’t even inform the authorities,” said a hotel owner in Lachung .
Lachung has around 90 hotels and home-stay facilities with many more coming up. On an average, 250 vehicles full of tourists visit Lachung every day during the three months peak summer season (middle of March to June).
Frequently services are affected because the cables at Phodong between Gangtok and Mangan get snapped. But they are promptly restored, claimed Mahto.
He added that such disruptions take place because of road widening work on the North Sikkim Highway by the Border Roads Organisation. “So, we are working on putting a second line along the power cables and once the widening work is completed, we will put the earlier lines underground,” he said.
President of the Travel Agents’ Association of Sikkim Paljor Lachungpa stressed the need for a stable medium of communication in North Sikkim for the convenience of tourists and the local people. “It will benefit everybody, the tourists, operators and the local people,” he said. 
Six yr old united with mom 
TT, Imphal, April 27: A six-year-old boy from Sikkim, who was rescued from a headmistress’s house here, has been united with his mother.
Muna Maya Gurung had sent John (not his real name) to Narmada Rana about a year and a half back to give her son a decent education in Manipur. But John was forced to work as a servant in Rana’s house and tortured frequently. He was rescued from Rana’s house by activists of Childline Imphal on March 27.
The mother arrived here after the state social welfare department sent information about the rescue to its Sikkim counterparts. She left for Sikkim with her son today.
Traffic classes for hill riders 
Students note down the number of a motorbike that flouted traffic rules in Darjeeling on Tuesday. (Suman Tamang)
Vivek Chhetri, TT,Darjeeling, April 27: Priya Sonam, an eighth grader at Municipal Girls’ School, and her friends reminded Darjeeling today that the law of the land must be followed at all times.
Not only that, on a day when traffic congestion was the least of the worries for the rest of the state, the hills struggled to rein in errant drivers.
All the more because policing has taken a beating in the hills, following the state government’s policy of minimal confrontation after the revival of the Gorkhaland agitation in October 2007.
Young bikers zipping around congested areas without helmets, overloaded jeeps with people perched on rooftops and drivers speaking on their cellphones have become accepted practices of late.
Today, Priya and her friends like Ambika Thami, showed that such practices would not be accepted.
Dressed in their school uniforms and accompanied by traffic constables, girls in groups of 10-15 waited at nine points across town to stop vehicles found flouting traffic rules. Surprised drivers were hauled up, asked to park their vehicles and made to answer a volley of queries.
“Why aren’t you wearing a helmet? Is driving without helmet cool and safe? Can you explain your act? Are you being responsible towards your near and dear ones?” were some of the questions thrown to the bikers.
As Darjeeling is a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha stronghold, the all-India strike called by the Left today to protest the price rise had no impact on the town.
“We are merely making an appeal to the drivers to follow traffic rules. Apart from stopping bikers without helmets, we are also telling (jeep) drivers that they cannot cramp passengers by squeezing four persons in the front seat. We are not allowing vehicles to carry people on their rooftops and are requesting drivers to park their vehicles if they want to speak on their cellphones,” said Priya.
Thami added: “We are noting down the names and the registration numbers of the vehicles that are flouting traffic norms. We will submit them to the traffic police in the evening.”
The students hauled up 93 traffic violators at the Clubside Stand in Darjeeling within an hour of launching the campaign.
The traffic management and awareness programme is being conducted by Darjeeling police as part of the Traffic Safety Week.
Mitra Rai, the officer in charge of traffic in Darjeeling, said: “We want to bring about an awareness on traffic rules through the students. The feedback they submit will help us improve the traffic management. We can frame our future course of action depending on the feedback.”
The decision of the police to involve the students seems to be reaping immediate dividends. “I always wear my helmets but it is only today I left it at my shop. I will immediately go back to the shop to wear the helmet,” Nimesh Chhetri, a motorcyclist, was heard telling the students.
Baton blows in season of change Cops make way for Congress mayor
TT, Siliguri, April 27: Bandh supporters were baton charged by police in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation today to clear the entrance for the Congress mayor and her staff, indicating the winds of change sweeping across the state.
The incident has left the CPM smarting, and political observers in Siliguri claimed that today’s incident was the only one during the Left Front rule in the state in which the party and its supporters had a taste of police batons. The party has demanded action against the subdivisional officer of Siliguri, Rajat Saini, who had allegedly ordered the lathicharge that injured 19 people.
Since morning, CPM workers, led by party leaders like Shankar Ghosh, Mukul Sengupta and Partha Moitra, assembled in front of the SMC gate near Court More and started shouting slogans. Similar scenes were witnessed at all street corners of the town where government offices, banks, schools and markets remained shut.
The drama began at 11am when mayor Gangotri Dutta and Paritosh Roy, the commissioner of SMC, arrived. About 200 CPM supporters, led by Mukul Sengupta, a CPM councillor and party secretary of the Siliguri zonal committee, blocked the entrance under the banner of the Siliguri Municipal Employees’ and Workers’ Union.
After some time, Dutta, accompanied by commissioner Roy, deputy mayor Nantu Pal, and a host of civic employees tried to enter the premises but were stopped by the bandh supporters.
Around 11.30am, Saini reached the spot and tried to negotiate with both the groups. The situation, however, was far from normal and both sides continued with their verbal attacks.
When the situation reached the boiling point, policemen, armed with batons and shields, chased the CPM supporters, intending to disperse them. When they resisted, they were beaten up and the SMC entrance was cleared.
“Our workers were demonstrating peacefully when the mayor, along with the councillors and some outsiders, forcibly tried to enter the building. When we protested, the SDO ordered the police to disperse our supporters with lathis,” said Jibesh Sarkar, a CPM state committee member.
“Nineteen of our supporters have been injured. As a mark of protest, we will organise protests outside the SMC tomorrow and wear black badges. We have also demanded steps against the SDO and the police officers responsible for the action in the next 24 hours.”
The altercation and exchange of verbal abuse between the CPM and its rivals continued for about an hour or so till the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, K.L. Tamta, reached the SMC. The bandh supporters, who had swelled by then into a crowd of 400–odd people, continued shouting slogans. Tamta held talks with CPM leaders and also met the mayor. He assured the Left party that the additional superintendent of police of Siliguri would hold an inquiry into the lathicharge.
“As far as I have heard, there was no damage to public property or threat to any person and so the situation did not warrant a lathicharge,” Tamta said. “There was only an inspector of police posted here then and it would have been better if a senior officer had been called. Nevertheless, we will look into what prompted the police to resort to lathi-charge. The inspector concerned has told us that the SDO had ordered it.”
With Tamta’s assurance, the CPM workers left the spot at 2.35pm. The mayor said: “The Citu-affiliated employees of the SMC, along with outsiders, had closed the main gate. Later, however, we managed to enter with the intervention of the SDO and the police.”
Saini, against whom the CPM has demanded action, said: “When two rival groups confronted each other in front of the SMC building, the police just pulled the two sides apart. This led to a minor scuffle.”
Phalanx of bandh defiance in brew belt 
Workers at the Raipur Tea Estate near Jalpaiguri on Tuesday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Siliguri, April 27: The all- India strike called by the Left parties failed to evoke any response in most of the tea gardens in the plains as workers joined their duties and aborted attempts by Citu, the CPM labour wing, to hamper the operations.
Sources said save for a few gardens like Jabra and Sukna, work continued in full swing in the majority of the Terai plantations.
“When 14 tea estates had closed down in the Dooars and thousands of workers were starving, the CPM and other Left parties did not call a strike or take up our plight with the central or state governments,” said Sania Bhumij, a worker of the Raipur Tea Estate on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri.
“The leaders sat idle and left us to die. Now that our garden has reopened and the yield has increased because of rain in the past week, we cannot abstain from work and support the strike called with political motives. All of us joined duty today as remaining absent from work would affect production and ultimately, our wage payment.”
“Supporting the strike would lead to the loss of a day’s wage and will not change our socio-economic conditions overnight,” he added.
About 250-odd workers thwarted the bandh supporters’ bid to shut down Atal Tea Estate in the Terai for the day.
When the labourers came to pluck tealeaves, they found the manager locked in his office by the bandh supporters. “We asked the Citu members to move back but they did not relent and stopped us from stacking the tealeaves at the stipulated place,” said a worker, Bitan Munda. “We asked the manager to call the police.”
When the police reached the garden, more workers opposing the strike assembled near the factory, prompting the bandh supporters to move back. Since then, activities have been normal in the garden.
Bandh enforcers had to beat a hasty retreat in the Satbhaiya garden as well.
Workers were not allowed to weigh the plucked tealeaves, but when they put up a united front, the bandh supporters left the scene.
Gardens like Sachindrachandra, Satishchandra, Ord, Panighata, Azmabad and Pahargoomia in the Terai also functioned smoothly.
In Bidhannagar–Phansidewa-Chopra belt, most of the workers joined duty and the production was normal.
In the Dooars, the formation of the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union (PTWU) by the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad recently has turned the tide against the Left in the gardens.
“More than half the estates were completely open, while the strike had a partial impact on 30-35 per cent of the tea sector,” said an official of the Dooars Branch of the Indian Tea Association. “It is nice to see that most of the employees kept in mind the loss the industry would incur if they abstained from their duties during the first flush season.”
The best quality of tea is manufactured during the first flush and the produce fetches the highest price.
“Workers receive a meagre Rs 62 a day and cannot afford to lose even a single day’s wage,” said Tezkumar Toppo, the vice-chairman of the PTWU.
“Moreover, because of lower yield, thousands of casual labourers were sitting idle since the beginning of the current season and they began working only last week after the rainfall. Today’s strike could be justified in no way,” he added.
Bharat Bundh mostly in WB and Kerala
PTI, Kolkata: A 12-hour nation-wide bandh called by 13 non-NDA and non-UPA parties today to protest against price rise hit normal life and affected air and rail services especially in Left-ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala.  
The 'Bharat Bandh' which began at 6am also had some impact in Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Sporadic protests marked the hartal elsewhere in the country including the capital.
Streets in West Bengal and Kerala where educational institutions were also closed wore a deserted look.
Besides the four Left parties, the 13-party grouping which gave the call for the bandh consists of AIADMK, BJD, SP, RJD, TDP, RLD, LJP, JD-S and INLD. The grouping is pressing for a roll-back in the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and fertiliser.
Rail services were disrupted in many parts of Uttar Pradesh and three buses torched in Lucknow. Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's son and MP Akhilesh Yadav was detained in Lucknow while leading protestors.
"A total bandh has been implemented in Bihar. All services are disrupted," claimed RJD chief Lalu Yadav.
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat claimed the bandh is 'very successful' in large parts of the country while Mulayam warned of anarchy by people if price rise is not checked.
Two train passengers were injured as a clash broke out between travellers in Ganga Sagar Express and bandh supporters at Pandua station in Hooghly district.
In West Bengal road and rail services and flight operations were badly affected and shutters in commercial areas were down. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at railway stations and airports for want of transport.
Airport sources in Kolkata said only ten out of 25 domestic and international flights took off this morning. They included flights of Air-India, Jet Airways and Jetlite.
An Eastern Railway spokesperson told PTI that due obstructions put up by bandh supporters at several stations, train services were disrupted at Howrah and Sealdah division. Long-distance trains were stranded at various stations as bandh supporters sat on the railway tracks.
Reports from Kerala said the protesters picketed trains in different stations.
Both private and state run bus services, taxis, autorickshaws and commercial vehicles are also keeping off the roads. However, no violence was reported, police said.
Vehicular movement was affected across BJD-ruled Orissa as bandh supporters blocked national highways, state highways and other roads, putting a halt to plying of passenger buses, trucks, taxis and auto-rickshaws, police sources said.
Rail services were also affected as trains were stopped at different stations for a brief period, they said.
Normal life in several parts of Jharkhand was affected due to the bandh and the 48-hour shutdown by the CPI(Maoist).
The bandh supporters squatted on railway tracks in Jamshedpur, Jamtara, Giridih and Koderma as the railway authorities cancelled half-a-dozen passenger trains in Jamshedpur.