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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Central force & promise for hill peace - CRPF to calm if fury follows Nickole slip... No Setup but state

TT, Aug. 24: The state government is rushing three companies of CRPF to the Darjeeling hills fearing a fresh outbreak of violence following the disappearance of Nickole Tamang from CID custody.
The Darjeeling district administration has assured the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that no physical harm has come to Nickole and that he will be traced soon, but with extensive searches over the last two days yielding no results, the police are unsure about when he will be found.
“The state government is leaving no stone unturned toensure peace in the hills,” a district official said. “This is why the three companies of paramilitary forces which had been shifted to Jammu and Kashmir on August 20 will be replaced.”
The Morcha has voiced fears that Nickole, a prime suspect in the Madan Tamang murder case who had been taken into custody by the CID, may have come to harm during police interrogation since he is a diabetic and is hypertensive. The party has voiced apprehensions that the “escape theory” was hatched by the police to cover it up.
“Nickole may not have been able to bear the tough interrogation by the police, given his fragile health,” Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, said today. “They are now making up these stories.”
Nickole is a central committee member of the Morcha and is known to be close to party chief Bimal Gurung.
“We fear that if we are unable to produce Nickole Tamang soon, the Morcha may get restive and fresh violence may break out in the hills,” an officer said. “For the time being, we have assured them that Tamang has escaped, but if we are unable to recapture him soon then they may start doubting us.”
Today, the district police carried out searches near Pintail Village from where Nickole allegedly escaped on Sunday morning, as well as in Sukna and Matigara.
“Nickole may have initially taken shelter in Morcha strongholds near Pintail village, but it now appears that he has moved away, maybe to Nepal, about 45km from here,” a police officer said in Siliguri.
Darjeeling police chief D.P. Singh said the CID has announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for information on Nickole leading to his arrest (see below).
State home secretary Samar Ghosh today said P. Nirajnayan, inspector general, CID, would visit Siliguri tomorrow to supervise the search operations and also investigate Nickole’s disappearance. The government is keen to know why a Darjeeling district police escort team meant to guard Nickole was sent back while the accused stayed overnight at cottage 29 in Pintail. The CID has come under scanner for flouting a government rule that says those in police remand has to be kept at the lock-up at night.
Cash for catch
Reward amount: Rs 50,000
To be given by: CID
For: Any information leading to Nickole’s arrest l Contact numbers: 03324506100 9433295531 9433352094 9733008001 

2-day bandh break after cop boss balm 
TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 24: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced a two-day relaxation in its indefinite strike from tomorrow after the Darjeeling police chief assured the party that there was no foul play in Nickole Tamang’s disappearance from custody.
Even though the Morcha said a decision on the continuation of the strike would be taken on Thursday evening, indications are that it might be withdrawn following the assurance.
Nickole, a central committee leader of the Morcha and a prime accused in the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang, had escaped from CID custody in Pintail Village on the outskirts of Siliguri on Sunday.
The Morcha had alleged that Nickole, suffering from high blood sugar and kidney problems, had probably died during interrogation and that the police were trying to hush up the incident by claiming that he had escaped from the camp. Bimal Gurung’s outfit had called an indefinite strike across the hills from Sunday, demanding that the police produce Nickole “in the flesh” within 12 hours.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “We met the superintendent of police today and he has confidently assured us that there has been no foul play in the incident. We take his words as the truth and have now decided to relax the indefinite strike for two days starting from tomorrow. The police chief has also admitted that there was a security lapse.”
Although markets, offices and schools are set to reopen from tomorrow morning, the Morcha has not lifted its strike in the offices of the DGHC across the hills as part of its ongoing non-cooperation movement against the state.
The Morcha leadership has also written to Union home minister P. Chidambaram, minister of state for home Ajay Maken, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
“We have also sent a fax to railway minister Mamata Banerjee and Union home secretary G.K. Pillai, apprising them of the disappearance of Nickole Tamang,” said Giri.
The superintendent of police of Darjeeling, D.P. Singh, admitted that the Morcha delegation had met him and that he had assured the leaders there was no foul play. 
No Setup but state is the solution
KalimNews ( No interim setup can  solve the Gorkha problem only a separate state is the solution, said Amar Singh MP and President of Forum for New states in Siliguri. He was here to attend a programme of Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh. Accompanied by MPs Jaya Prada, Raja Bundela, P Niroop and others were present in a press conference at Siliguri. Raja Bundela said that tripartite talks is just a eye wash, can GJMM alone solve the problem of entire Gorkhas of India, is it the only champion he asked. BGP had already taken the matter to the Center and MPs.  We are the MPs and we are supporting and will support the cause of Gorkhaland and other states.Regarding the area P Niroop said it is a matter of parliament which lone can determine it.
Rain & river flood town- One lakh marooned, traffic stalled on NH31 for an hour
TT, Islampur, Aug. 24: Incessant rain for 10 hours today waterlogged Islampur town and inundated five gram panchayat areas leaving over a lakh of people marooned.
The water in the Dawk river, flowing 4km away in Bihar, entered town after overflowing a large stretch of NH31. Traffic was stalled for about an hour from 10am to 11am.
Around 20,000 people have been affected in town. They moved to the railway station and other higher grounds after a non-stop, almost blinding shower from 3am to 1pm. Since afternoon, the administration and the municipality started distributing dry food to the affected families. At Matikunda, the block development officer of Islampur, P.K. Parveen, was surrounded by angry villagers complaining that adequate relief failed to reach them.
Islampur municipality chairperson Kanhaialal Agarwal admitted that absence of proper drainage caused the flooding of the town. “Around 20,000 people have been affected. On one side, the town is surrounded by NH31 and the railway station — both on high ground, and on the other by the Teesta,” he said.
With putrid water entering houses, residents were unhappy about the role played by the municipality. “We have never faced such a situation. There is no drainage for the town and the civic officials have been sitting idle,” said teacher Mohammad Suleman, a resident of Melamath.
The subdivisional officer of Islampur, Partha Ghose, said around 80,000 people were marooned in five gram panchayats. The irrigation department had recorded 215mm of rainfall in the 10-hour span.
In Jalpaiguri, secondary (red) alert sounded by the North Bengal Flood Control Commission in the unprotected areas on both banks of the Teesta from Domohoni, on the outskirts of the town, to Bangladesh border is still on. It rained 282.8mm in Sevoke on the upstream of Teesta in the past 24 hours, leading to rise in water levels.
Primary (yellow) alert has also been issued in the protected areas on both banks of the Teesta for the same stretch and on both banks of the Jaldhaka from NH31 near Nagrakata in the Dooars to Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar district.
Regional Met Office issued a warning for a heavy to very heavy rainfall for the next 24 hours because of persistent convective clouds in the sky formed by the strong southwest monsoon, still hovering over the sub-Himalayan Bengal and Sikkim.
New haven for tiger - Island springs up on torsha, home to hispid
Anirban Choudhury, TT, Alipurduar, Aug. 24: An island has come up on the Torsha river in the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary over the past five years and its grassland has become an ideal habitat for rare herbivores and big cats.
A number of elusive and endangered hispid hares are found on the 800-hectare char or sandbank. Foresters have also spotted pug marks and tiger scat on the island.
“This is very good news for Jaldapara as this natural tract of grassland is surrounded by a river and provides undisturbed habitat for the wildlife. We have spotted a good number of endangered hispid hare in the area. Our staff have also collected tiger scat from there,” said Om Prakash, the divisional forest officer of wildlife III.
He said several deer species like the hog deer, sambar, spotted deer and barking deer had started inhabiting the island. “Even rhinos visit the island that was formed over the past five years or so,” said the officer.
Om Prakash said the grassland was out of bounds for tourists. “Watchtowers have been erected around the char under the Malangi beat of the 218-sqkm sanctuary. Forest guards are patrolling the area on elephants to keep vigil.”
The forest department takes tourist inside the sanctuary on vehicles to show them elephants and rhinos. But the island is far from the spots where the visitors are allowed. Besides, there are no roads nearby, keeping the fragile grassland far from humans.
Evidence of tiger presence on the grassland has brought cheers to the foresters as Jaldapara has a dwindling population of the big cat.
“As Jaldapara has only five-seven tigers, the grassland will act as a specially protected habitat within the sanctuary for the animal to breed,” said Om Prakash.
According to the foresters, all grasslands need to get flooded every year for their sustenance.
“There are varieties of grass on the island and even if it is completely flooded, the water level recedes very fast,” said a senior forester. He added that vast grasslands of Kaziranga National Park in Assam were prone to floods each year. The officer said a part of the grassland had been damaged because of human intrusions.
“We are worried about the intrusion of villagers into the island for fuelwood and fodder. Some patches of the grassland close to human settlement have already been damaged. We have been planting grass and creating wallow pools for the rhino elsewhere in the sanctuary. We are happy that the island was created naturally and it will provide a safe haven for the fauna of the region,” he said.
 Study to spot structures for heritage tag
The entrance to Jalpaiguri Palace built 500 years ago
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 24: The West Bengal Heritage Commission has decided to identify and document historic buildings and sites in five districts of north Bengal.
The commission today signed a memorandum of understanding with North Bengal University to carry out the study that will cover Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts.
A 16-member committee comprising representatives of the varsity, the commission and the five districts has been constituted for the project.
Anand Gopal Ghosh, the head of the history department at NBU and the co-ordinator of the project, said structures and sites which were more than 100 years old, would be considered as heritage properties. “Archaeologists and historians in the country choose monuments and sites that are more than 100 years old as heritage sites and we shall also follow the same criterion. A good example of a historic site is the King Sahib’s ghat in Jalpaiguri built in 1808. At that time, there was no road to connect the Dooars with Jalpaiguri and people had to cross the Teesta by boats and streamers from the ghat,” said Ghosh.
Commission chairman Barun De said the project would be the first of its kind to be taken up by them in north Bengal.
“We have made a lot of progress in the identification and the documentation of heritage sites in south Bengal, but this is the first venture by us in north. The NBU is a repository of knowledge in archaeology and that is why we have decided to team up with them,” he said. “The commission does not exactly define a criterion for heritage sites and the committee should work with a broad view.
De added that Malda had been excluded from the project as old monuments and sites in the district had already been documented by Pradyut Ghosh, a professor at Malda College.
Sukumar Samanta, the commission secretary, said temples, mosques, churches, zamindari baris (ancestral properties of the zamindars) and houses of famous personalities or freedom fighters could be considered as the historical sites. “Landscapes like old tea gardens, forests and riverine tracts can also be considered for heritage status,” he added.
College Strike
Jaigaon: Classes were not held at Parimal Mitra Mahavidyalaya in Malbazar on Tuesday following a strike by the SFI-led student union on Monday. The protesters were demanding regular classes, library and separate common rooms for boys and girls.
Trailer kills five at toll plaza- Stationary Sumo smashed on Setu
TT, Kolkata:Five men returning home from work died when a stationary Tata Sumo Victa was sandwiched between a loaded trailer and a lorry after being rammed from behind at the Vidyasagar Setu toll plaza on Tuesday evening.
The cherry red Sumo (WB06 0861) carrying employees of Mohun Bagan official Debashis Dutta had barely stopped at the toll plaza around 6.50pm when the trailer ploughed into it, smashing the vehicle against the lorry in front.
Five of the nine passengers, including the driver, were brought out dead from the mangled mass of metal. The other four are in a critical condition.
All five casualties — driver Debabrata Sarkar, Nirmal Ghosh from Dankuni, Nityananda Poddar and Bimal Bhattacharya from Barasat and Dinesh Santra from Singur — were employees of DG Samaddar and Sons Pvt Ltd, a shipping firm owned by Dutta.
“They worked in my Hastings office and were returning home in my car. I have identified their bodies…. I will now be going to Howrah to try and shift the injured to Apollo Gleneagles Hospital,” Dutta, the finance secretary of Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, said at the accident site.
The victims, aged between 35 and 40, were also members of Mohun Bagan, club secretary Anjan Mitra confirmed.
Three of the injured — Ajoy Bhattacharya, Tridib Chatterjee and Suman Chakraborty — were admitted to Howrah District Hospital. The fourth, Subrata Chakraborty, was taken to SSKM. The Hooghly resident, the only one among the passengers who was able to speak, recalled chatting with his colleagues when he heard a deafening sound and passed out. “I was seated in the middle row. I don’t remember anything. I regained consciousness in hospital,” Chakraborty told Metro.
Police said the driver and the handyman of the trailer (NL01 G0465) fled after the accident. There was no official confirmation of the vehicle’s ownership till late on Tuesday but the name “GE SeaCo” in red and blue on the trailer’s body suggested it was carrying a consignment for the global freight container company.
An officer said the accident might have been caused by brake failure. A mob threw stones at the cops and damaged some furniture at the toll plaza. A contingent with officers from Hastings, Shakespeare Sarani and Park Street police stations later cordoned off the area, triggering snarls that continued well past 9pm.
Sourav Sarkar, who was returning to Howrah on his motorcycle, alleged that the first ambulance arrived almost 45 minutes after the accident. “I joined some residents in rescuing those who survived the accident. A police vehicle was parked on the flyover but no cop came to help,” he said.
Zeeshan Ahmed, a witness, said some of the lights near the toll plaza were switched on only after the accident.         

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