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Friday, June 18, 2010

Indefinite strike called by GJMM...Landslides in hills

KalimNews:GJMM has announced  indefinite period strike from Saturday the 19th June if the administration fails to give justified reasons for resorting to lathicharge on the party's supporters particularly the women at Kurseong on 16th June. The party has asked the Police to state the reason why they resorted to lathicharge  the innocent party members. In view of the police administration's reluctance to respond to the Morcha's querry, the party is more or less determined to resort to indefinite period bundh from Saturday. It was announced by Binay Tamang, Morcha leader at Darjeeling and Kalyan Dewan, Vice President, Central Committee in Kalimpong this evening.
It may be recalled that the proposed bundh is likely to hit hard the educational institutions as most of the schools of the hills which are observing summer vacation now are scheduled to re-open from Monday 21st June, 2010.
Gorkha squad to stay put: Morcha- Indefinite strike threat after lathicharge
TT, Darjeeling, June 17: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has refused to shift the Gorkhaland Personnel from the DGHC properties and has, instead, threatened a general strike across the hills from Saturday if the administration fails to explain its lathicharge on party supporters in Kurseong last night.
This morning, Morcha supporters gheraoed all police stations across the hills for one-and-a-half hours to protest the lathicharge. The party had also called a 12-hour bandh in Kurseong subdivision, which passed off peacefully.
“We give the administration time till 6pm tomorrow to explain the lathicharge, failing which we will call a general strike across the hills. Seventeen people were injured in the lathicharge. We also demand the transfer of Kurseong subdivisional police officer Rakesh Singh and K.L. Tamta (inspector-general of police),” said Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha.
Last night, the Morcha members were lathicharged while demonstrating in front of the Kurseong police station against the CRPF’s visit to Jamuni, the GLP headquarters, 35km from Darjeeling town. The administration had explained the CRPF visit as search for the killers of Madan Tamang, the ABGL leader who was hacked to death on May 21.
The party has also demanded that the term of B.L. Meena, the DGHC administrator, should not be extended after it ends on June 30.
The superintendent of police of Darjeeling, D.P. Singh, justified the lathicharge. “The Morcha supporters were throwing stones at the policemen. We had to lathicharge to disperse them,” he said. On February 18, too, Morcha supporters had attacked the Kurseong police station and set fire to vehicles parked on the premises.
DGHC administrator Meena had lodged FIRs at the Gorubathan, Kalimpong, Rongli-Rongliot and Darjeeling Sadar police stations against the GLP occupation of DGHC buildings. The GLP is a voluntary squad of the Morcha raised, according to party claims, for crowd management. Later, the party had tried to make the squad function like a parallel police force, checking cars and seizing “illegal liquor”. The administration had then announced that the “seizures and car-checks” went against the law.
According to Meena, the GLP has been illegally occupying the Tribeni, Deolo and Kafer tourist lodges, Gorkha Huts, and the Dalim Fort in Kalimpong apart from Parijat lodge at Gorubathan and Roy Villa in Darjeeling.
Trying to justify the occupations, Morcha treasurer Dawa Lama said: “The GLP has not been declared illegal by the state and the Centre. It is not provided with any arms training. Instead, the volunteers do social work across the hills and had helped the administration during landslides following Cyclone Aila last year.”
The Morcha also claimed that the Centre had offered to absorb the GLP into the police and the paramilitary forces in its proposal for an interim arrangement for the hills till December 31, 2011.
Senior administrative officials, however, said the Centre’s offer had no official stamp.
“The proposal was never tabled in the tripartite meetings as the Morcha had refused to discuss the interim set-up. Hence, it cannot be said the Centre had officially agreed to absorb the GLP into the police and the paramilitary forces,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said “the buildings belong to the DGHC and action would be taken as they were being illegally occupied”.
Wall buries 3 in family  - Finger at faulty construction for cave-in 
TT, Kalimpong, June 17: A 48-year-old woman and her two children died here early this morning when their house was flattened by an adjoining under-construction building’s retention wall that collapsed after heavy rain.
Sureka Bhutia and her children, Sanjay Yantem Bhutia, 16, and Dibeta Bhutia, 21 were sleeping when the wall came crashing down on the roof of the kutcha house at Gumbahatta around 4.30am. Sureka’s husband Dhendup and mother-in-law Jamuna Devi Chhetri, 86, had a lucky escape.
Official sources said the retention wall (erected along the area where earth is dug out) located behind the house had caved in as the soil underneath had been rendered loose by the rain.
While Sureka, Sanjay and Diveta were buried under concrete, Dhendup escaped with minor injuries. Jamuna Devi, who was sleeping in another room, was unhurt.
The bodies were pulled out of the debris by fire brigade personnel with the help of local people.
Bijay Sundas, a neighbour of the Bhutias, alleged that the mishap was a consequence of the faulty construction of the retention wall (known as plumb wall in local parlance).
“What we have gathered is that the owner of the under-construction house built the plumb wall without consulting an engineer. Unfortunately, this is how our people operate. They rely on the advice of masons without adhering to the rules of the municipality,” he added.
Neighbours said Dhendup is Sureka’s second husband. “Her first husband had died in an accident. Sureka’s former mother-in-law used to live with her even after her second marriage. Dhendup does odd jobs to sustain the family,” said a neighbour.
Kalimpong subdivisional officer Amyas Tshering said tarpaulin sheets had been given to cover the area where the wall collapsed to ensure that no further cave-in took place.
Landslide chaos on Sikkim road- Highway blocked by boulders for eight hours
TT, Siliguri, June 17: Heavy rain continued to disrupt traffic in the hills with a 50-metre stretch of NH31A near Lohapul buried under mud and boulders for more than eight hours following a landslide today.
The highway that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country was cleared by Border Roads Organisation personnel at 11.30am.
“The landslide occurred at Ujalay between Kalijhora and Lohapul around three in the morning. Luckily, no vehicle was plying on the road at the time of the incident. Several vehicles were stuck at either end of the stretch and they could move uphill or downhill only in the afternoon,” said Sagar Lama, a resident of Lohapul, 35km from here.
This was the second landslide on NH31A, which also leads to Kalimpong, in the past one week. On June 11, traffic had been blocked for 48 hours following a major landslide at Hatisuray, about 2km from Coronation Bridge at Sevoke. Lohapul is just 11km from the bridge.
BRO officers said incessant rain had triggered today’s landslide. “Because of the heavy shower in the hills last night, mud carrying boulders of different shapes and sizes came crashing down on the highway. About 50 metres of the highway was damaged by the rubble. Our personnel started the repair early morning and could clear the debris in four-five hours,” said a BRO officer.
However, restoration on NH55 near Paglajhora is yet to begin as state public works department officials could not move to the spot because of a 12-hour strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Kurseong subdivision today.
About 20 metres of the highway linking Siliguri to Darjeeling had caved in after heavy rain yesterday. Light vehicles are being diverted through Pankhabari- Rohini while the heavy ones are following the Mirik- Mungpoo route.
“We have sent a report to the Union surface transport ministry, seeking the immediate release of Rs 40 lakh to commence the repair. We expect the work to start by next week,” said a PWD official.
Villages inundated
The Jogikhola river flowing down from Chukha in Bhutan changed its course in Jaigaon 1 panchayat of Jalpaiguri district last night, inundating at least four villages and affecting more than 2,000 people.
“Water level rose in the upstream and the river shifted the course for about 200 metres on the right bank because of heavy rain in north Bengal and in Bhutan yesterday night,” said Kamal Pakhrin, the upa-pradhan of Jaigaon-I panchayat.
He said 10 huts had been swept away and 50 other houses partially damaged by the river. “Besides, crops spread over 1,000 acres of land were damaged and the total loss is more than Rs 1 crore,” said Pakhrin.
Some brand new arrivals at Darjeeling Zoo
TH, KOLKATA: Within six months of two pairs of Himalayan Blue Sheep being brought to the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling, the zoo's captive breeding programme has tasted success with a lamb being born to each pair recently.
“The two lambs were born on May 21 and May 28 and are doing well. So far the handlers have not gone close enough to the mothers to determine the gender of the newborns,” Zoo Director A. K. Jha told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.
The two mating pairs of Himalayan Blue sheep were brought to Darjeeling from a zoo in Okinawa as part of an exchange programme last November. This was the zoo's first acquisition of Himalayan Blue Sheep, known locally as Bharal, for its captive breeding programme.
Despite coming from a different environment, they have reproduced within such a short period shows that they have acclimatised to the conditions here and is a testament of the zoo-keeping techniques in practice, Mr. Jha said.
Three pairs of Himalayan Tahr were also brought to the zoo as part of the same exchange programme, but they are yet to gain sexual maturity, he added.
The captive breeding programme for 10 indigenous Himalayan species at Darjeeling Zoo has been approved by the Central Zoo Authority. However, the biggest challenge that the programme faces is to cope with inbreeding depression.
13 minus Bangshi freed
TT, Cooch Behar, June 17: Thirteen members of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Association, arrested for the violence on September 20, 2005 in which five persons were killed, were released today.
Top leaders of the association — Bangshi Badan Barman, Dhirendranath Barman, Ashok Barman, Rajib Roy and Uttam Das — were acquitted of charges like violating prohibitory orders, looting and arson, but could not be released because of two murder cases against them. They have been accused of killing additional superintendent of police Mustaq Ahmed and two constables. District and sessions judge Vivek Chowdhury, in his verdict yesterday, had announced one year jail and a fine of Rs 500 for each of the 13 accused, said lawyer Shiben Roy, who represented them. But the accused had already spent more than five years in jail and were released.
Labour union takes up pending issues of tea garden
SE, DARJEELING, June 16: The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, which is affiliated with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has threatened to take legal action against the Nagari Tea Mangarjung tea garden owner after he failed to show up in meeting called yesterday for solving the pending issues of the labourers.
However, the union has informed that the tea garden management has agreed to enhance the rates for plucking tea leaves, advance payment of Rs. 1200 for hospitalized labourers and to keep a taxi for ferrying patients of the garden. It was also informed that eighty retired labourers of the garden are yet to receive their gratuity amount. Six of them have already passed away.
A meeting had been called to solve these pending issues between the tea garden management and union representatives.
The union spokesperson, Milan Pradhan said that it is very unfortunate that the retired labourers who worked hard during their service have not received their gratuity amount yet. The tea garden management should understand the problems faced by such retired employees who are now old, he said.
If the tea garden director does not show up in the next meeting to resolve the pending issues then the union will lodge a case against him, said Pradhan.
At the same time, the union has achieved success in getting the management to agree for increase the rates offered for plucking tea leaves by Rs. 5 per kg and other facilities, said the spokesperson.
I-League to feature six Sikkimese footballers
SE, Gangtok, June 16: Three more Sikkimese footballers, all products of ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ scheme of Sikkim government, are set to show their skills in the pinnacle of Indian football after ONGC and HAL Bangalore secured qualification into the new season of I-League.
The qualification of these two second division clubs into the I-League has also placed midfielder Bikash Jairu and defender Robin Gurung from ONGC and Nim Tshering Lepcha into the company of their batch-mates, Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri who are now established in East Bengal club.
Of course, the presence of peerless Bhaichung Bhutia ensures that now the I-League will have six footballers from the tiny Hill State, an achievement attributed to the national football captain himself.
All the five footballers are products of ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ scheme of the State government launched in 1999 with an aim to produce quality footballers from Sikkim. They along with twenty five other footballers had received training at Sports Hostel in Namchi, South Sikkim and later at State Sports Academy, Gangtok.
Sanju and Nirmal were picked up by AIR India Mumbai in 2006 and they later switched to East Bengal and have played in the national league for the past four years. The duo is in their third year with the Kolkata club.
Robin and Bikash were picked up ONGC in 2008 while Nim Tshering also found his place in HAL Bangalore in the similar period.
“This year we will have six Sikkimese footballers in the I-League with the qualification of ONGC and HAL Bangalore where Robin Gurung, Bikash Jairu and Nim Tshering Lepcha are playing”, said East Bengal defender Sanju.
“They are professionals. We got selected by AIR India, worked hard and showed our game when we got the chance. They also need to show their game even if they get 5 minutes playing time”, said Nirmal.
On his part, Robin (20) said that he and Bikash had been picked up ONGC while playing for Sikkim in the Santosh Trophy in 2008 at Jammu & Kashmir. We both are regulars in the team, he said.
“A dream is being fulfilled to play in the I-League. It is an opportunity to come into highlight and be seen in TV also. It also means that I can get a chance to play against Agya Bhaichung”, said Robin. He gave credit to the ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ and the years of training they received from their coaches at Sports Hostel and State Sports Academy.
His team-mate, Bikash said that the football talent of Sikkim is getting exposed in the national arena which is a healthy sign. We still have to go a long way but I feel that there will be more representation of Sikkim football talent in big clubs in due course of time, he said.
Regarding his future goals, Bikash said: “Every Indian footballer has a dream of playing for East Bengal once a lifetime and I have also share the same dream and want to play with my friends, Sanju and Nirmal in East Bengal”.
State Sports Academy chief coach Hangu Norden Lepcha said that Bikash, Robin and Nim Tshering got age on their sides.
“If they play well for the clubs in the I-League, they will get a chance to be picked up by other big clubs. There are spotters in the league who pick up talents. They need to maintain discipline as they have got everything else”, said Lepcha.
“When I see my students playing in the pinnacle of India football, I feel that I have done my job and there is job satisfaction”, the chief coach said.
Over the recent years, Sikkim football has seen a rise with the players from the Hostel and Academy being picked up Air Force School, New Delhi and football clubs both national level and regional level.
Sanju and Nirmal informed that there are around 15 players from Sikkim playing for various football clubs in the country. Sikkim footballers are visible in national and lower tier football leagues like the Manipuri players and the main reason is the scheme of the Sikkim government, they said.
Manisha's Wedding to bring arch-foes face to face?
Manisha-Koirala-weddingway 2 online: As Nepal hosts Manisha Koirala’s wedding Saturday, the most intense speculation is whether President Ram Baran Yadav will come face to face with his bete noire, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, and the latter with his, ex-king Gyanendra.

Or will they come up with polite excuses to wriggle out of the invitation and along with it, a most embarrassing situation?
The 40-year-old actress, who is finally marrying Nepali businessman Samrat Dahal in a glittering three-day ceremony starting Friday, has invited former king Gyanendra as well as his arch-enemy Prachanda, the Maoist chief whose party fought a 10-year war to abolish monarchy in Nepal.
The wedding is scheduled Saturday, after an engagement ceremony Friday. The reception is at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza Hotel Sunday.
Most of the key political players have preferred to wait and watch and are yet to confirm their presence.
Former king Gyanendra has decided to stay away from Kathmandu.
The last king of Nepal left for Bara district in southern Nepal Wednesday to inaugurate a new temple. He will be camping in the Terai till Sunday despite the heat and the discomfort.
On Friday, Gyanendra, whose bid to rule Nepal with the help of the army had received Manisha’s support in 2005, will go to Birgunj town to offer prayers at the Maithan temple as well as at the infamous Gadimai temple, where tens of thousands of animals are slaughtered every five years.
From there, he will proceed to Rautahat Saturday to visit a Shiva temple.
With the former king planning to return to Kathmandu only Sunday, it is certain that he will not be present at the engagement or the wedding.
Though a morning flight will bring him back to Kathmandu Sunday in good time to attend the reception, there’s still no certainty as the flight will depend on the weather.
During the former king’s earlier visit to the Terai town of Nepalgunj, he had to postpone his return to Kathmandu due to bad weather.
As for Prachanda, his aides said it was still not confirmed if he would attend the ceremonies.
The top leaders of the Maoist party are currently locked in an intense debate over future strategy as well as leadership after failing to topple the coalition government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal despite almost a year of protests.
If any major meetings are scheduled Sunday, Prachanda would not be able to attend Manisha’s wedding reception, his son Prakash said.
In 2006, when King Gyanendra held a controversial municipal election, Manisha had flown down from Bollywood to campaign for it. The Maoists had tried to stop the polls and in retaliation, announced a “ban” on films of Manisha, the granddaughter of the nation’s first elected prime minister Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala.
Her father Prakash Koirala consented to become a minister in the king’s cabinet, an acquiescence that caused him to be expelled from his Nepali Congress party.
Also invited to the reception is President Ram Baran Yadav.
Yadav replaced Gyanendra as the head of state. He also aroused the enmity of the Maoists by reinstating the army chief the Maoist government had sacked, an action that caused the fall of the Maoist government.
Since then, the Maoists had been boycotting all official functions attended by the president.
Now it remains to be seen if Prachanda and the president would be present at the same programme.
The president’s office said it was not yet confirmed whether he would attend the reception.

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