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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rally raj for ‘democracy’ - Schoolkids bunk classes for morcha session ...Fire injured Fire fighters

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June: Schoolchildren escorted by teachers marched through the streets of Darjeeling today after walking out of classes midway to attend a public meeting organised by the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha for “peace and restoration of democracy” in the hills.
The administration had not given any permission for the two-hour rally that started at 11.30am at Chowrastha. Six-seven schools — among them Ramakrishna Siksha Parishad, Nepali Girls’ High School and Hindi Himachal School — had allowed their students to attend the meeting. The heads of the schools refused comment.
This is not the first time that schoolchildren had taken part in political meetings. In fact, even before the start of the statehood agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2007, students used to regularly bring out processions largely under the banner of the All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu). The student outfit was then headed by Roshan Giri, the current general secretary of the Morcha. But most of the prominent schools of the hills like St Paul’s, Mount Hermon, North Point, Loreto Convent, usually stay away from these meetings.
It was also not the first time that the students were taking part in a rally that had no official sanction. Almost all Morcha meetings in the hills are held without any administrative permission.
“The letter seeking permission for the meet (which started around 11.30am) was made at the last minute and therefore I could not give permission for the meeting,” said Amal Kanti Ray, the subdivisional officer of Darjeeling (sadar), about today’s rally.
The SDO, however, said the permissions for rallies were for the use of loudspeakers. “The sound should be less than 65 decibels. If anybody complains about the sound, then police would have to investigate,” said Ray.
The police said it was difficult to make adequate security arrangements at the last moment. “The situation cannot be termed as normal at the moment and we could not immediately provide security at the meeting. We have told the student leaders to ask for permission at least a week before such gatherings,” said a senior police officer.
At the meeting, Morcha leaders urged the students and
the general public at large to be “conscious”.
“We condemn the murder of Madan Tamang. Students and the hill people must be conscious and realise who is benefiting from the incident. A conspiracy to destabilise and scuttle the Gorkhaland movement is being hatched,” said Giri, the hint meant for the state government. “The FIR is a conspiracy as Morcha leaders from the students wing, youth wing and the town committee has been implicated selectively.”
“A handful of leaders tried to politicise the funeral of Madan Tamang but we exhibited our strength during our public meeting on May 30. Such was the turnabout at the venue that lakhs of people were left stranded on various routes in Sonada and Teesta and could not reach the venue,” Giri told the students.
The Morcha claimed that it was least bothered about the state government’s statement that the hill party had lost popular support.
“We have shown our support base. Now it is up to Centre to hold the tripartite meeting,” said Giri. Sources said the tripartite talks on Darjeeling was initially scheduled for June 9 but the Morcha leaders said they have not received any official intimation till date.
The hill outfit also launched a vitriolic attack on the opposition parties. “Those
who have formed the Democratic Front had tried to scuttle the Gorkhaland demand in 1988. The hill people will never forget their role,” said Giri, his message meant for Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists, which was formed in the mid-90s after splitting from the CPM.
Samuel Gurung, convener of the Morcha’s Dooars and Terai unit, spoke of his involvement in the 1986 Gorkha land agitation as a Class IX student.
“Today’s gathering reminded of my school days when we used to attend rallies for Gorkhaland. Nothing can stop us from creating a separate state as the Constitution does not say that Bengal cannot be divided,” said Samuel Gurung.
He also urged the schoolchildren to concentrate “on studies, which must be your priority.”
KalimNews Adds: Pawan Chamling CM of Sikkim was praised by Samuel Gurung in the meeting as a successful political leader and administrator. Chamling was praised for the first time by GJMM after a rift between the two.
Fire fighters injured
Prabin Khaling, Ravongla, 8th June: In Ravongla three fire services personnel received burn injuries while controlling a devastating fire which broke out in a tyre tube repair shop this morning. Five fire tenders fought for almost three and half hours in extinguishing the blaze. 
The SP South Mr Manoj Tewari told over phone that the fire broke out when the shop owner , engaged in a clandestine business of diesel and petrol, was dispensing the fuel which caught fire at around 9.30 AM reportedly due to a short-circuit. He told that the fire tenders were requisitioned from Namchi, Jorethang,Geyzing Fire Stations as well as from the NHPC besides the Ravongla Fire Station. Besides, some 200 personnel from Fire Services, State Police,Territorial Army and Forest Department along with the local people worked hard to control the fire. Mr Tewari told that the police also had a tough time in controlling the crowd of the spectators as to ensure a smooth fire fighting operations. He told that out of the three injured fire personnel , one has received burn injuries in the face and in his hand while two others have received burn injuries in their legs. The SP South told that then owner of the shop named JN Prasad has been detained for questioning while the official responsible for monitoring the bazaar activities is also under the vigil of the police.
Taipei boost for hill train tourism- brochures, video on dhr at meet
Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, June 8: People of Taiwan will get to know more about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which will find a place at an exhibition to be held in Taipei from tomorrow.
Besides the DHR, three other Unesco world heritage properties in India — the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the Kalka-Shimla Railway and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus of Mumbai — will also feature at the five-day gala, organised to mark the 123rd anniversary of the Taiwan Railway Administration.
The gala will be organised in collaboration with the India-Taipei Association, which hopes the event will lure more tourists to the DHR. The visitors to the exhibition will be provided with brochures on the DHR in Chinese and will be shown video clippings of toy trains criss-crossing the Darjeeling hills.
“This is the first time that these railway heritage sites would be displayed in Taiwan. Our effort is to inform the people of Taiwan about the rich railway heritage of India through audio-visual and print mediums...the exhibition would be held at the Main Taipei rail station that witnesses about four lakh footfalls everyday. During the event, pictures would be displayed and videos of the world railway heritage sites of India would be shown. Further, written information about these world heritage railway sites, written in Chinese, would be provided to the local population for better understanding,” Pradeep Kumar Rawat, the director general of the India-Taipei Association, said in reply to an email sent by The Telegraph.
The organisers hope that the event will revive memories of collaboration between India and Taiwan in the field of railways. “Trains, known as Blue Trains in Taiwan, were manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory back in 1970s and 113 such trains were brought in Taiwan. We want to strengthen the mutual relationship by bringing forth the railway heritage and thus the old memories,” wrote Rawat.
The association said the Taiwanese preferred unique experiences and they could be attracted to the Indian heritage sites. “Exposure to Indian railway heritage sites and special trains like Mahaparinirvan Express, Maharaja Express and Palace on Wheels can help attract more Taiwanese tourists who often look for different and unique experience....postcards on Indian railway heritage sites have been designed and will be distributed among the visitors as souvenirs,” said Rawat.
Members of the DHR-India Support Group has appreciated the initiative. “Such publicity shows in other countries can help the DHR to a large extent and we can expect more and more tourists to avail of the toy train services,” said Vivek Baid, a member of the group.
The 88-km long DHR tracks were opened in 1881 and it was accorded world heritage status by the Unesco in 1999.
Gorumara ban on diesel cars and plastic 
TT, Alipurduar, June 8: The forest department has decided to ban diesel-run vehicles and plastic bags inside Gorumara National Park.
Around 1,000 visitors on an average a day tour the park either in hired cars or their own vehicles.
According to foresters, petrol-driven cars will be introduced to ferry tourists when the national park reopens for visitors on September 16. The park will remain closed for monsoons from June 15 to September 15.
Plastic packets will also not be allowed inside the park after September 15 and tourists carrying them would be fined. Paper bags, made by eco-development committees, would be sold at the entrance to the park for visitors to carry their belongings.
The forest department had recently issued a notification, which said those interested in running petrol cars should submit a proposal to the foresters. It was also mentioned that members of the eco-development committees would get preference in this regard.
The new cars will be able to accommodate six persons.
According to foresters, after the petrol-run cars are introduced, the number of vehicles plying inside the park will be reduced. Private vehicles will not be allowed inside.
Few years ago, petrol-driven cars had been introduced in Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary.Each of the six cars, purchased by members of eco-development committees, run two trips daily and each tourist has to pay Rs 175. This model will now be followed in Gorumara.
Kamal Bhowmik, the secretary of Resort Owners’ Association in Lataguri, said running such cars might be helpful in controlling pollution in the area, but it has a flip side too.
“The divisional forest officer of wildlife II (Sumita Ghatak) held a meeting with us where she mentioned about the new cars. We have told them about the positive and negative sides of running them. At least 1,000 visitors come to Gorumara everyday. How many cars have to be bought then? When it is a matter of environment, then we have nothing to say. But some of the private car owners, who are running the vehicles in the park now, will lose their livelihood once the new cars are introduced,” he said.
KalimNews from SHEEM: The sixth round of Tripartite meeting might be held in the third or fourth week of June.
Dr.R.P.Dhakal, Principal of Kalimpong College is invited by a University of US for a workshop on Political Science representing India.
Sikkim Police arrested a girl and a Marwari boy in Gangtok under Immoral Trafficking Act. The girl hails from Kalimpong.
Recruitment in the Indian army was cancelled in Kurseong after a hullabaloo. Boy Recruitment of Boys from 9-14 yrs was arranged by Ex Servicemen Association of Kurseong was cancelled and postponed after enraged candidates and guardians  damaged chairs and sound system. They alleged that there was favouritism and most were not called though they had been in the Montiviet Ground since 4 am in the morning. Later it was announced that the recruitment will be held in Siliguri.
Elephant killed guard
TT, Siliguri, June 8: Kaziman Chhetri, a forest guard, was killed by an elephant at Punding in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary today.
The elephant lifted the 47-year-old guard, posted in Wildlife Division I, with its trunk and flung him away. He died on way to hospital. Chhetri was patrolling the forest when the attack took place. The body was sent to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital for post-mortem and foresters are keeping a close watch over the movement of the killer animal.
Three die
TT, Malda: Three persons were killed when an ambulance carrying a patient collided head-on with a mini-truck at Pandua in Gajole on Tuesday afternoon. Police said one of the deceased was the ambulance driver, Abdus Salam, and the other two victims were yet to be identified. 
TT, Siliguri: Siliguri Municipal Corporation authorities evicted hawkers from the pavements along Kutcheri Road on Tuesday. The eviction was carried out in the section stretching from Court More to Siliguri District Hospital. Krishna Pal, the chairperson of the borough committee III, said encroachments often led to traffic congestion and hampered the movement of commuters. He added that such drives would continue to clear the roads.
To keep Medical stores open
TT, Siliguri: Nantu Paul, the Siliguri deputy mayor, on Tuesday requested medicine shopowners here to keep their stores open at night. He told representatives of the Siliguri zonal committee of the Bengal Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association that he would ask police to provide necessary security to shop-owners at night. 
Bhopal Gas Tragedy & Judgment: Lessons to be learnt
J.N. Manokaran
After more than quarter century the victims of the infamous Bhopal Gas accident were able to hear the verdict that pronounced eight accused as guilty and were awarded a jail sentence of two years.  They all walked free by getting bail.  The poor victims consider this as inadequate and insufficient punishment.  The Judiciary, the CBI, the Government were all blamed for this.  The media had glorious moments by making this news sensation rather than sensitizing the masses. 
There are five aspects that should be considered in general and apply to this tragedy in particular:
1.      Human life is sacred
In India, human life is so cheap.  People die for petty reasons.  Summer kills hundreds, so does the winter, so does the flood and drought.  It is an annual feature in Indian landscape.  Media reports piece by piece or byte by byte news, but does not dig deep to bring out the root cause of the problem.  Even animals are considered sacred.  Hence, a right wing leader could openly say that the value of cow is more than the value of Dalits, who were lynched in Haryana based on an allegation that they were skinning cow alive.  At least one lakh die in road accidents each year.  Thousands of farmers have committed suicide.  Malnutrition kills at least five thousand children a day.  People die of many preventable diseases. 
2.      No diligence in duty
There is no diligence in the duty done by Indians.  There is no perfection or completeness in things done.  Quick money is the only goal.  Expired drugs could be sold with impunity and active help of bureaucrats and politicians.  Education could be commercialized.  Teachers in most of the Government schools in rural and tribal areas never teach but draw full salary.  Government officials would demand bribe to do what they are supposed to do.  How many manholes have lid?  How many manholes are 6 to 12 inches above surface level, causing many accidents?  How many fire extinguishers that hangs in public building would function is anybody’s guess. 
3.      Lawmakers are inadequate
Lawmakers, our elected representatives are inadequate to face the challenges of the emerging India.  They are unable to sit, discuss and think about the nation.  Disruption of Parliament (State Assemblies) is considered as their job description; throwing chairs is their methodology; shouting slogans is their hobby;  increasing their pay and perks is their sacred duty.  Worse, they align with corrupt bureaucrats to oppress people by their foolish policies.  Is there a single city in India, where the traffic is organized?  They spend their time in majoring in minors and neglecting the nation’s challenges, and potentials. 
It takes sixty years for the lawmakers to make Right to Education as Act.  They know the cases in judicial system takes decades to be completed, but do not have capacity to address this issue.  They cannot mandate that the surplus grains in Food Corporation of India godowns to be distributed among the malnourished poor and starving villagers. 
4.      Implementation of law is a mockery
Governance in India happens by chance.  Laws in India are meant to be broken.  How many urban building in India have violated fire safety norms and car parking norms?  May be 90 per cent and above.  What is the use of such laws?  Any one can stand in a traffic signal and count how many violations happen every hour.  Violators of law are penalized.  Government may fix a huge sum as fine, but there will be always a police officer who could be bribed with a fraction of that amount and go scot free.  A politician distributes free sarees, there a stampede and death.  Was there anyone held responsible?  The Government of India says that there is adequate grain to be distributed through Public Distribution System (PDS).  But the food grains are looted before it reaches the masses. 
5.      Civil society flaws
Civil Society in India is dumb.  There is no awareness and stamina to stand up for rights.  There is no sense of justice or truth.  Let us think of dowry, it is illegal, but practiced with great flair.  When the society fails to condemn the culprit, the judicial system has very little effect.  So, is the case with child marriages, which is illegal.  Every year it happens, sometimes presided by elected politician.  There is no drinking water or electricity or health care or school in many villages.  How many villagers demanded their rights.  Men in the villages play cards while women walk long distances to carry water on their heads.  Why can’t these shameless men do something, like sit on dharna to get their right for safe drinking water?  A poor villager borrows money to treat his sick wife, instead of demanding health services in the defunct Public Health Centre (PHC) in the village. 
Application of five aspects in Bhopal tragedy:
1.      The Union Carbide India Limited did not value human life as sacred.  If that was the case, they would have built the factory outside the city; implemented all safety measures and would have taken all precautions. 
2.      The media focuses on Warren Anderson, forgetting the material used in the factory was not designed properly, the leakage happened because of sub-standard make of pipes and valves.    When local people pointed out the flaws like leakage, it was brushed aside.  None of the staff took responsibility to make safety as priority. 
3.      The lawmakers did not have any proper guidelines or laws for MOU with a MNC.  So, there was no law under which the victims could claim compensation or the company could be made accountable. 
4.      Even the common laws were violated.  Having industry within large human habitant itself is violation of law (and lack of common sense).  Who were the officers who granted approval for this factory, the ministers who gave grants or lands to this factory?  Why no cases against them?
5.      The people of Bhopal city did not have awareness of their rights to have safe air, water and environment.  The local society was not aware of what was happening and what was in store for them.  Lack of education and awareness could be the causes. 
Instead of focusing on this tragedy – post mortem and analysis; our energy should be used to learn from this.  Radioactive materials are found in Delhi that caused death and damage.  Floods submerge few districts in East India every year.  Was anyone held responsible?  Have there been adequate laws in place?  Does the Government have the political will to implement such laws?  Is there people awareness?  India has not learnt from this tragedy even after twenty-five years.  Let media focus on the future and bring in quality change in the lives of people in India. 

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