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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Morcha meet permit denied...Adivasi Union disowns rebels...Mahaloot allegation on Chamling...

TT, Darjeeling, July 26: The Darjeeling district administration has refused to grant permission to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to hold its martyrs’ day meeting at Chowrastha tomorrow, with the ABGL refusing to shift its hunger strike from the spot.
Although the Morcha declared today that it would go ahead with the meeting at Chowrastha, insiders said the party would avoid a confrontation by making some other arrangements for the programme.
“We have received a report from police, expressing the apprehension that there could be a law and order problem if permission was granted (to the Morcha) to hold its function at Chowrastha,” said Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.
The Morcha has been holding meetings at Chowrastha on July 27 since 2008 in memory of 1,200 people who had died during the 28-month-long Gorkhaland agitation. Thirteen people were killed in a police firing at a GNLF rally brought out on July 27, 1987, to protest the Indo-Nepal friendship treaty of 1950.
The authorities fear law and order problems this year as the ABGL has been staging the relay hunger strike at Chowrastha, demanding the arrest of those behind the murder of the outfit’s leader Madan Tamang. The ABGL accuses the Morcha leaders of planning and executing Tamang’s assassination.
Dawa Lama, the treasurer of the Morcha, said the party was determined to go ahead with its “main function” at Chowrastha. “Since the martyrs’ column has been erected at Chowrastha and we have been holding the function there (for two years), we will go ahead with the main programme at the same venue,” he said.
Even though Lama sounded rigid, it has been learnt that the Morcha, which does not want any law and order problem following Tamang’s murder, will only hold a prayer followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Chowrastha (on the martyrs’ column). ‘The main meeting will be held at Gymkhana Club,” said a source.
Asked if the administration would allow the Morcha to go ahead with the wreath-laying ceremony, DM Gupta said: “Permission from the administration is not required for a wreath laying ceremony.” 
Union disowns rebels  
TT, Jaigaon, July 26: The Progressive People’s Party formed by rebel members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad has decided to dissociate itself from the latter’s trade union while mulling on whether to form a workers’ front or not.
At the same time, the chairperson of the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union, Sukra Munda, today said the Parishad union did not recognise the new party. “Rebels and suspended leaders of the Parishad have formed a party. The Parishad is a voluntary organisation and not a political party. Our union (Parishad) has obtained official recognition from the state labour department and we shall continue working for the interests of the tea garden workers,” Munda said.
The PTWU today begun bicycle rallies across the Dooars to raise long-pending demands of the workers. “We will press for the daily wage to be raised to Rs 250, the distribution of pattas and safe drinking water — some of our many demands. The rally will continue till July 30,” said Brajanath Nayek, the secretary of the PTWU.
Central committee president of the PPP Kiran Kalindi, one of the two leaders suspended indefinitely by the state leadership of the Parishad yesterday, said his party had nothing to do with the Parishad union. “If Sukra Munda has said he has nothing to do with the PPP, he is correct,” Kalindi said.
Asked whether the PPP would raise a trade union of its own, Kalindi answered that the matter was yet to be discussed. He evaded questions on whether the PPP would speak to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on its proposal for Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh, a new state. 
Cong graft slur on Chamling
TT, Gangtok, July 26: The opposition Congress today released a 108-page booklet highlighting the alleged corruption of the chief minister, five ministers and seven former ministers who had misappropriated wealth worth Rs 113 crore between 1994 and 2009.
Around 40 pages of Sikkim Mahaloot, the booklet, are on chief minister Pawan Chamling. The booklet was released by former Sangha MLA of the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee Acharya Tshering Lama at the party office here at Development Area.
Former chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari said the party had released the book to make people aware of the “misdeeds” and “corruption” of the leaders of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front.
“The booklet is the result of a research conducted by the party on innumerable information collected through RTI applications and from various reliable sources to expose such public enemies,” said Bhandari, the SPCC president.
Four SPCC functionaries had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in July 2006 alleging that the chief minister had amassed assets worth Rs. 15.38 crore, disproportionate to his known source of income. The petitioners had prayed for a CBI probe.
The apex court had dismissed the petition on March 25. “It’s always open to the petitioners to approach the investigative agencies directly with the incriminating materials and it is for the investigative agencies to decide on the further course of action,” the court had said in its order.
The SPCC lodged its complaints with the CBI on May 24 and July 1. Most of these complaints have now been compiled in the booklet.
Bhandari said the documents submitted to the CBI were copies of affidavits filed by those named in the complaints declaring their wealth and income to the election authorities from 1994 to 2009.
He said the booklet had already been submitted to Congress president Sonia Gandhi before a party delegation meets her next month. 
Hill singer to compete with talent from abroad
Rajiv Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, July 26: From the national arena to the global forefront, Karma Sherpa’s trek had been long and impressive.
The 26-year-old from Sonada, who had finished third in Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Bangla in 2007, is the first singer from the Darjeeling hills to make it to the television round of international Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar to be aired from August 13.
Before making it to the final 18, Sherpa had impressed the judges in two rounds of auditions.
“I won the rising star medal in the first round of audition in Calcutta, and shining star medal in the mega audition in Mumbai,” Sherpa told The Telegraph on the phone from Mumbai.
Thousands of aspiring singers had taken part in the two rounds of audition that were held across the country and abroad including Pakistan.
“After the first round, 60 of us including some contestants from Pakistan and Canada, were selected for the mega edition in Mumbai,” he said.
Eighteen finalists were chosen after the auditions in Mumbai.
“I was lucky to make it to the top 18 because the level of competition was very high. Shooting for the television round will begin from August 10 and the show will be telecast from August 13,” said Sherpa.
Sherpa has been performing in different parts of the country and abroad including Hong Kong, Nepal and Bangladesh after he finished third in the singing contest in 2007, that was aired in Zee Bangla. “Apart from doing stage shows, I am learning classical music in Calcutta. To make it to the final rounds of this international contest is a dream come true for me,” said the singer.
Sherpa hopes that the people from the eastern region, particularly the Darjeeling hills and Sikkim will extend their support to him.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa is known for having discovered talents like singer Shreya Ghosal and composer Shekhar Ravjiani.
Shekhar along with his composing partner Vishal Dadlani would be judging the contest. Bhangra singer Daler Mehndi and composers Sajid-Wajid would be the other judges.
“I have worked really hard to reach here and I need the blessings of all to climb the summit,” Sherpa said.
August 4 date for NBU Blues
TT, Siliguri, July 26: North Bengal University will award Blues to sportspersons who have won laurels at the national level, after a gap of 15 years.
Arunabha Basumajumdar, the university vice-chancellor, today said NBU had last organised such a ceremony in 1995 when 31 players had been awarded. “This year, we will hand over the Blues on August 4 to 29 sportspersons who had played national, state and university level tournaments.”
Former Indian footballer Chuni Goswami will distribute the Blues and felicitate some sports personalities and coaches of the region.
According to the VC, Test cricketer Wriddhiman Saha, footballer Bapan Bera, paddler Sumana Bose, badminton player Nandita Ghosh and athlete Sutapa Das will be among the recipients who will get a blazer, a university monogram and a certificate.
On the gap of distribution of the award, the VC said: “There may be some reason for which the Blue was not presented regularly in the past. But from now on, we will hold it every year.”
The sports board of the varsity will also felicitate sportspersons of the region like Mantu Ghosh and Subhajit Saha (table tennis), Olympian Bir Bahadur Chettri (hockey) and Harishankar Roy and Jyotsna Roy Pradhan (athletics).
Table Tennis coach Amit Dam and Bharati Ghosh and athlete instructor Subhas Sarkar will also be honoured.
The NBU authorities are planning a sports complex on its campus and a project report will be sent to the state higher education department. The complex will be on a 30-acre plot. Apart from a ground with 5,000-6,000 seat capacity, two hostels for girls and boys will be built, Basumajumdar said. “This complex will help us organise inter-college and inter-university sports tournaments.”
The board of the varsity will organise annual prize distribution ceremony and award the best college considering its performances in sports throughout the year. This year, Ananda Chandra College of Jalpaiguri and Siliguri College of Commerce will be awarded with the champions and the runners-up trophies respectively.
Confluence of student skills
TT, Siliguri, July 26: An intellectual tug-of-war between students of dozen schools from Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Assam kept the atmosphere charged at Confluence, the inter-school debate competition organised by St Michael’s School in association with The Telegraph here today.
St James’, Binnaguri, emerged victorious and retained their champion status for the second year running. While Sarla Birla Gyan Jyoti of Guwahati came second, Don Bosco, Siliguri, secured the third position.
With contemporary topics like “Smaller states may not be better governance” this year, students did not have to think far to come up with apt examples to substantiate their arguments.
The demand for separate states of Gorkhaland, Vidharbha and Telangana were used elaborately by the children to put forth their points.
“There is the Gorkhaland demand being raised in north Bengal and a separate state of Telengana in Andhra Pradesh. But does it mean that once the separate states are carved out, the attendance of teachers in primary schools will improve? Goa is a small state but it is not stable because the government there has changed 14 times in the past 15 years and the crime rate, too, is high. So, smaller states do not mean better governance,” said Saurav Goyal of Don Bosco School Siliguri while speaking for the motion.
Anushreya Ghosh from Army School, Sukna, said there had been 568 states in India in 1947 but except for the notion of independence, nothing had held them together. “These states have been brought down to 28 for better governance. Allotting national and state funds, creating infrastructure and generating employment can be the key to good governance than carving out smaller states,” she said.
Those speaking against the topic also put up examples of governance in smaller states like Sikkim, Goa, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Tripura and Chhattisgarh.
“Smaller states mean access to funds and transparency where people can know how the funds are being used. But corruption, nepotism, favouritism and anarchy are rife in bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Even after 60 years of independence, there is improper governance and neglect in all aspects in some regions, giving rise to demands for Gorkhaland and Bodoland. So, smaller states should be carved to manage the vast extent of India’s population and ensure uniform development,” said Deb Deep Dey of St Michael’s School.
The two rounds of debate were conducted by Parnab Mukherjee, the chairperson of the event.
“Debating is like a conversation in a drawing room but it is a little formal and organised. Students should know the difference between debating and reading out from a paper,” said Mukherjee.
The students were judged on the basis of content, flow of speech, argument skills, interjection and audience response. Anushreya Ghosh from Army School, Sukna, and Romita Roy of St James were awarded the best speaker prizes.
BDO saves underaged girl
SNS, BEHRAMPORE, 26 JULY: When the bride was waiting at the marriage pedestal to receive her groom, the local BDO rushed in with police personnel and told the bride, “Do not marry now. You are too young to solemnize a marriage. Your marriage would be illegal as you are a 13-year-old minor.” For the parents of the bride, Madhumala Khatun from Kalitala village of Beldanga in Murshidabad, the world came crashing down when they realised that the BDO had appeared to break their daughter’s wedding due to her not being of marriageable age.
However, the bride’s parents decided to go ahead with the proposed marriage as the pandal was ready for the marriage rituals and the invited guests were present. However, the BDO left nothing to chance and swiftly picked up the bride in his vehicle, taking her to his office, where a fresh round of counselling began to make the girl decline her marriage.
“Carry on with your studies. If your parents fail to support your study, we shall stand by you. Marriage at such an early age is illegal and it cannot augur well for you," the BDO, Beldanga-II block, Mr Sachchidananda Banerjee told Madhumala, a student of standard VII at Trimohini High Madrasa of Naoda block. The girl agreed to the BDO’s proposal.
Meanwhile, her father, Zamiruddin Sheikh, an auto-van driver, was found asking the BDO, “What would happen to our money, already paid to the groom as dowry?”  A sum of Rs 10,000 was reportedly paid in advance against the total dowry demand of Rs 20,000 to the groom, Rohidul Sheikh, a vegetable vendor from Fazilnagar area of Nadia. The BDO stated that the groom was called repeatedly over phone, but vanished as his family members were afraid of being arrested.
Jungle Mahal boss felled in third try
TT, July 26: Sidhu Soren, the secretary of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, was third-time unlucky. year, police had zeroed in at least twice on the commander-in-chief of the Gana Militia, who had terrorised CPM supporters and dominated around 150sqkm of the “Maoist territory” in West Midnapore and adjoining Bankura. However, on both occasions, Soren had managed to elude the police.
In June last year, the joint forces had cornered Soren, whose real name was Bhuta Baskey, and his aides after they received information that the rebels were hiding in a forest in Kadashole, 15km from Lalgarh. The forces had killed two of Soren’s aides but the rebel leader escaped unhurt.
A few days later, the police cordoned off a village deep inside Pingboni forest where Soren was camping but he again escaped.
“But this time, we managed to shoot him dead in the forests of Metala,” a police officer said. “This is a big setback for the Maoists.”
Terming Soren’s killing a big achievement, West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma said: “He used to command the squad in Jungle Mahal and knew the terrain very well. He was involved in the murder of several CPM supporters in the area.”
An intelligence branch official said Soren had been an action squad member of the Maoists even before the formation of the People’s Committee.
“Before turning the People’s Committee into its frontal organisation in 2008, the Maoists had infiltrated the outfit by planting squad members like Soren there. He had helped the Maoists take control of the committee. Soren went underground after the joint forces entered Lalgarh last year.”
A Maoist leader admitted that Soren’s death was a “loss” for the rebels. “This will help the police enter and dominate the areas where we are in total control,” he said.
Intelligence officials said Sidhu hailed from Kharkata village near Goaltore. The police claimed Sidhu had trained the new recruits of the Maoists in Lalgarh.

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