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Monday, August 2, 2010

Kalimpong MLA joins Morcha...Home Ministry denies inviting GNLF Chairman...CPRM not attending bilateral talks

KalimNews: Gaulan Lepcha, MLA of Kalimpong Constituency and Ex Vice President of Kalimpong Branch Committee of GNLF joined GJMM today. 
He was handed over the GJMM party flag by Bimal Gurung, GJMM President at the Party Office of Singamary, Darjeeling. Addressing the media Gurung stated that  after resigning from GNLF Lepcha never criticised us instead kept quiet and supported GJMM directly and indirectly. "Now onwards  other party leaders willing to join us will not be allowed to join because it is too late", he further stated.
Lepcha was GNLF MLA for the two consecutive terms and had resigned from GNLF on 3rd March 2008. Pranay Rai  Darjeeling MLA resigned on 29th February 2008 and along with Lepcha he  formed GNLF(Rebel) a non functional group.
Referring to the meeting of 3rd August Gurung stated that "if I desire I can cancel the bilateral talks". Pointing the opposition leaders he advised them to not to talk on the matter already discussed by GJMM, "I will not tolerate it", he warned them. "If the State and Central Government discusses on the same matter with the opposition leaders which has no followers in the hills and Dooars then GJMM will not participate in the talks of 17th August", he declared.(Kalimpong News, News 7 - Manoj Rai)
Home Ministry denies inviting GNLF Chairman 
KalimNews: A PIB declaration states thus- A section of media has reported that the Union Home Secretary has sent a letter inviting the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) Chairman to join the tripartite talks on the Gorkhaland issue to be held in New Delhi. This is totally incorrect. It is clarified that no such letter has been issued by the Union Home Secretary to anyone in GNLF nor any invitation extended to anyone for joining the talks.
ANI, New Delhi, Aug 2: The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday denied that Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) Chairman Subhas Ghising was sent a letter by Union Home Secretary to join the tripartite talks on the Gorkhaland issue to be held in New Delhi.
"This is totally incorrect. It is clarified that no such letter has been issued by the Union Home Secretary to anyone in GNLF nor any invitation extended to anyone for joining the talks," said the Ministry of Home Affairs.
It was reported by a section of the media that Ghising will have talks with Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken and Union Home Secretary G K Pillai over the issue in New Delhi on Monday.
TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 2: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today claimed that the Centre and the state government had consulted him before calling the Democratic Front for the talks to be held at Writers’ Buildings tomorrow.
“Do you think the meeting was called without consulting us? If I want to, I can cancel the talks even an hour before it starts,” said Gurung here today while replying to a question on the government meeting with the six-party anti-Morcha alliance.
However, in Calcutta, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, who is hosting the meeting along with his counterpart in the health department, Surjya Kanta Mishra, rubbished the claim. “Neither I nor anyone from the state government has spoken to Bimal Gurung about tomorrow’s meeting,” he said.
State home secretary Samar Ghosh, too, corroborated what Bhattacharya said. “No one from the state government has spoken to anyone from the Morcha on this,” Ghosh said.
Gurung also said he had no problems with the state sitting for talks with the front but insisted that the alliance should stick to “its own agenda”.
“The Democratic Front should talk about democracy. They should not ride piggyback on our work,” Gurung said. “They must prepare their own documents and their own map (in case they, too, demand statehood).”
Observers said by claiming that the state had consulted him before convening the meeting, Gurung was trying to negate any possible advantage the hill opposition might derive after sitting across the table with the state government in Calcutta tomorrow. They said the front could well claim credit for the interim set-up being mulled for the hills, for this is the first time that the state government has invited any hill opposition for talks on the Darjeeling issue.
Observers also believe that Gurung is probably trying to send out the message that he is still in absolute control of all developments concerning the Darjeeling hills. “The Morcha has obviously been embarrassed by this development,” an observer said. “The state government, which is participating in tripartite talks with the Morcha and with Delhi, is engaging the hill opposition in bilateral talks on the same issue.”
Dawa Sherpa, the convener of the front, who left with a 12-member delegation for Calcutta today, said: “If the Morcha had been consulted on tomorrow’s talks as Gurung claims, then it would have certainly called an all-party meeting. That would have ensured that all hill parties put up an united stand for the Morcha.”
However, the CPRM, the second largest party in the hills and another constituent of the Democratic Front, decided at the last moment not to attend the talks, casting a cloud over it.
“So far the state government was not bothered about the opposition parties in the hills and had held six rounds of talks with the Morcha,” said Taramani Rai, the spokesperson for the CPRM, after the party’s central committee meeting in Siliguri today.
“We believe that the Calcutta meeting is a conspiracy to get the opposition’s approval for a set-up that has already been finalised and agreed upon. The Bengal government just wants to ensure that there is no objection when the new interim set-up is put in place.”
The state government has already made it clear that the talks would revolve on the proposed interim authority for the hills. The Morcha rivals want to discuss the restoration of democracy in Darjeeling and the murder of ABGL leader Madan Tamang as well.
KalimNews: Bilateral talks of 3rd July between the State government and the opposition parties of Darjeeling hills includes the followings from the state: Suryakanta Mishra, Health Minister; Ashoke Bhattacharya, Urban Develpment Minister; Ardhendu Sen,  Chief Principal Secretary and Samar Ghose, Home Secretary. Opposition leaders from all parties except CPRM are attending the meeting. They include Dawa Sherpa and Tribhuan Rai of ABGL, Shankar Hang Subba and LD Lepcha of SDEM, DK Pradhan and Shrawan Rai of GNLF(C), DK Bomzon and Amar Lucksom of GRK, Gopal Chhetri of TMC, Punya Bikash Poudyal of BJP. CPRM in its statement stated that as we are against the proposed setup and the meeting is regarding the setup we think it unwise to attend.
IE, Kolkata: The proposed Gorkhaland Authority for Darjeeling (GAD) that is going to replace Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) will have powers to enact laws on all subjects except law and order and judicial matters and it will be answerable to both the Governor and Assembly.
The authority will also have powers to impose taxes on wide-ranging subjects on which the DGHC had no powers. These are some of the salient features of the central government’s proposal for the interim council which the state government is going to place before the six political outfits, except Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), of Darjeeling whom the state government had invited for talks on Tuesday in Kolkata.
The six outfits are CPRM, GNLF, GNLF (C), All India Gorkha League, Democratic Front and Gorkha Rashtriya Congress. GNLF chairman Subhas Ghising, who has gone to Delhi to meet Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken, is likely to attend the Tuesday’s meet. The state government will be represented by Minister for Urban Affairs Ashok
Bhattacharya and Minister for Health and Family Welfare Surya Kanta Mishra. Home Secretary Samar Ghosh will also be present in the meeting.
“The central government has given us a proposal on the contours of the council and we will place them before these outfits, requesting them to give us their opinion on this in a week’s time. It will be on the basis of their opinion that we will prepare our stand which we will place in the next official level talks in Delhi on August 17,” Ashok Bhattacharya told The Indian Express.
The move is aimed at putting pressure on the Centre to involve these groups in the talks to find a solution to the Darjeeling problem. “We have urged the Centre that it is not the GJM which should be called alone in the tripartite talks because they no longer have the mandate of the Darjeeling people,” Bhattacharya added.
The Gorkha League says it will first demand the arrest of those who are involved in the murder of their president Madan Tamang. 
TH, KOLKATA: The relay hunger fast by Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League volunteers enters eleventh day : GJM leaders conspired to kill Madan Tamang alleged. In a bid to arrive at a consensus to resolve the political impasse in the Darjeeling hills, the West Bengal Government has invited leaders of non-Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) regional parties for talks here on (Tuesday).
The move to bring the non-GJM parties into the dialogue process is being considered politically significant as its comes two weeks ahead of the next round of tripartite talks involving the Centre, the State Government and the GJM leadership scheduled for August 17.
The parties that will be represented at the talks are constituents of the anti-GJM Democratic Front that has issued a call for restoration of democracy in the Darjeeling hills which, it alleges, has been undermined by the GJM.
A delegation that includes the convenor, Democratic Front, Dawa Sherpa will be attending the talks in which the State Health Minister Surya Kanta Mishra and the State's Home Secretary Samar Ghosh are expected to represent the State Government.
One of the constituents of the Democratic Front, the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists, will not be participating in protest against what it described as the State's affirmation to the setting up of an interim council for the Darjeeling hills.
“Our foremost demand is the arrest of those who masterminded the murder of prominent political leader Madan Tamang in Darjeeling on May 21,” Mr Sherpa told The Hindu over telephone.
The relay hunger fast by volunteers of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), a major constituent of the Democratic Front, which has been demanding the arrests of those behind the killing, entered its eleventh day in Darjeeling.
The ABGL leadership has alleged that seven GJM leaders including its president and general secretary were involved in a conspiracy to murder Madan Tamang.
It has taken umbrage at the failure of the State Government to arrest any of the GJM leaders mentioned in the FIR.
Leaders of the Democratic Front have also been critical of the move to involve the GJM in the tripartite talks.
They argue that the GJM cannot on its own claim to represent the aspirations of the people of the Darjeeling hills.

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Save the Hills
IE , Editorial, 3 Aug:The Darjeeling hills have been cursed with a political culture of violence that has, since the ’80s, denied the people the democratic life ordinarily taken for granted in most parts of this country. Things have not been “normal” since the GNLF’s heyday. After a period of relative calm, during which the GNLF misgoverned and allegedly embezzled public funds, the Gorkhaland mantle was usurped by GNLF-dissenter Bimal Gurung’s GJM, which not only hijacked the statehood agenda but also the GNLF style of stifling other Gorkha voices, though minus matching gore. Then, veteran Gorkha politician and All India Gorkha League chief Madan Tamang was brutally killed last May, and the GJM found itself accused of murder. In the eyes of the hills people, that was the moment the GJM’s legitimacy to represent them came under a cloud.
This run-up frames the tripartite talks scheduled in Kolkata today, to which, to his own surprise, Subhash Ghising has been invited along with all Darjeeling political outfits, except the GJM. Not only the AIGL but also Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had been opposed to the GJM’s inclusion. Ironically, while the GJM will not come to the talks, what practical end will be served without the largest Gorkha group is hard to guess.
The fate of the proposed interim set-up is uncertain. Irrespective of that, the imperative is to immediately restore order in the Darjeeling hills and rescue the people from lawlessness and political violence. The state government is constitutionally bound to provide that security and normalcy, instead of always looking for the easiest political option — as it has, historically, in readily accepting whoever’s the loudest and most muscular in Darjeeling at the moment. Meanwhile, all parties need to make an effort to work out the rudiments of a sensible solution from the talks, which too should become more frequent, since the lack of an interlocutor breeds dangerous discontent.

Sikkim Chief Justice Transferred
KalimNews: The Shri Justice Barin Ghosh, Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court is transferred to the Uttarakhand High Court and in his place Shri Justice P.D.D. Premkumar, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court is transferred to the Sikkim High Court . According to a PIB report Shri Justice J.S.Khehar, Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court  is transferred to the Karnataka High Court and they are directed to assume charges of their respective offices on or before 13th August, 2010.
BAS meeting inconclusive, BJP protest banner in New Delhi, ASESUA appeals civil society to take a stand
Prabin Khaling, GANGTOK, August 2: The meeting of Bar Council of Sikkim (BAS) held today to discuss on its stand on the transfer of controversial Karnataka Chief Justice PD Dinakaran to Sikkim High Court ended on an inconclusive note.
Around 86 members of BAS had gathered at their office in District & Sessions Court (East) at Sichey and held a closed door meeting for around 30 minutes.
After the meeting ended, the BAS said that it could not come to a conclusion owing to the absence of senior members. The meeting has been deferred to Wednesday, it was told to the media. As reported earlier, the BAS had called a general body meeting today to discuss on what stand to take after Justice Dinakaran had been shifted to Sikkim High Court despite its protest lodged earlier in April.
Justice Dinakaran had been transferred to Sikkim High Court as its new Chief Justice as per the notification of the Union Law Ministry. He has been directed to take charge of his office on or before August 13. The incumbent Chief Justice Barin Ghosh has been shifted to Uttarkhand.
While the BAS meeting remained inconclusive, State BJP unit functionary Padam Sharma today raised the protest banner before the Supreme Court of India against the transfer of Justice Dinakaran.
Sharma, who is the State BJP South district unit president, camped outside the apex court in New Delhi with a banner today expressing the party’s objections against the transfer, said State BJP president Padam Chettri in an email press statement. ‘We humbly request the Supreme Court of India to cancel the transfer of Judge Dinakaran to Sikkim High Court, said the protest banner unfurled by Sharma before the apex Court.  (Photo-Above: Prabn Khaling)
Meanwhile, All Sikkim Educated Self-educated & Unemployed Association (ASESUA) has also opposed the transfer.
“We not only oppose but highly condemn the appointment. It is sheer humiliation for the people of Sikkim to have a tainted Chief Justice”, said ASESUA president Navin Kiran Pradhan in a press meet here at Gangtok.
Pradhan said that the ASESUA has already written earlier to the Prime Minister and President requesting that such transfer should not take place. We want the legal fraternity and civil society to raise a voice on this issue, he said. 
Tea protests from Aug 11
Siliguri, Aug. 2: Tea trade unions in north Bengal, except the one affiliated to a tribal outfit, will launch a movement in the gardens from August 11 to demand interim hike in workers’ wages.
A meeting of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, an apex body of trade unions with Citu and Intuc as constituents, yesterday decided that the garden workers would demonstrate every afternoon for an hour, if their demand was not met by August 10. “If nothing positive occurs at the August 21 tripartite talks in Calcutta, the workers will demonstrate at the garden gates everyday,” said Chitta Dey, the CCTPW convener.
Sourav to visit Siliguri
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 2: Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly will visit Siliguri with his family on August 13 and 14.
He will distribute bicycles, sewing machines and table tennis boards, bought with urban minister Asok Bhattacharya’s local area development funds, among individuals and clubs and inaugurate a bridge in Ward 35. On August 14, he will visit Uttarayon to see the construction of a cricket stadium before returning to Calcutta, said Bhattacharya.
TT, Raiganj: A student of Surendranath College, who was returning home after an exam, was killed in a road accident in Raiganj on Monday. Joydeepa Roy, 20, who was knocked down by a truck on NH34 at Siliguri More, was taken to Raiganj District Hospital, where she succumbed to injuries. After the accident, irate students of the college raised a blockade on the highway for more than an hour. The driver of the truck escaped with the vehicle. In another incident, Paresh Singha, a 26-year-old resident of Goalpokhor in Islampur, was killed when a Chakulia-bound truck hit him on NH34 on Sunday night.
TT, Siliguri: A poster purportedly written by Maoists, saying North Bengal University registrar Dilip Sarkar and his colleagues would “be punished by people for corruption” , was found on the varsity campus on Monday. The poster written by the CPI (Mao) in Bengali was seized by police and a probe started to verify its authenticity.
Bus accident
TT, Jalpaiguri: At least 18 passengers were injured when the bus they were travelling in hit some boulders near Neora More close to the Gorumara National Park and fell into a ditch around 7.15pm on Monday. Four persons have been admitted to the subdivisional hospital in Malbazar and another was referred to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri. The rest were released after first aid. The private bus was travelling to Malbazar from Jalpaiguri.
Search for injured tusker in Bengdubi
Not on forest radar
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 2: Guards of Wildlife Division I have launched a search for an injured elephant spotted by army personnel inside the Bengdubi range yesterday.
“According to the description the army personnel gave us, it seems that a full-grown tusker has injuries on one of its legs. Since we got the message, we have been scouring the forest for the animal, but it is yet to be found,” said Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer (wildlife I).
Das said the guards could not spot the elephant yesterday. “Early this morning, we again went to the forest under the Kurseong division, along with vets, but failed to locate it,” said the officer.
With the search by the guards yielding no result, the forest department has decided to engage pet elephants to trace the injured tusker.
“We have sent a request to wildlife II division to provide us with two pet elephants and they are expected to reach here from Gorumara National Park by this evening or tomorrow morning. Once they arrive here, a fresh search will be launched tomorrow,” said Das.
Animesh Bose, the programme co-ordinator of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, suspects the elephant might have suffered injuries because of the measures taken by the army to protect their stockyards in the forest.
“The forest area is restricted by the army personnel who take a lot of precautionary steps to protect their resources (depots storing arms and ammunition). Now the foresters have to find out the cause of the injury, which was probably caused by such protective measures,” said Bose. By protective measures, he was alluding to iron poles erected around the depots in the forest.
The foresters, however, did not want to comment on the injury until and unless the elephant was sighted.
Bank Manager held for fraud
TT, Gangtok, Aug. 2: An assistant branch manager of the State Bank of Sikkim (SBS) and a government contractor have been arrested by vigilance police on the charges of cheating the government by depositing fake term deposit receipts to bag contracts.
Pema Wangyal, the assistant manager of the SBS’s MG Marg branch, and A.P. Pradhan, a Grade I contractor, were picked up from their residences at Syari and Sichey in Gangtok on Saturday. Pradhan is a resident of Tashiding in West Sikkim.
Three books of TDRs of the SBS containing 50 receipts each had gone missing for some time and the bank authorities detected it in April.
The SBS authorities then informed all accounts officers across the state that the missing TDR receipts should not be entertained. Serial numbers of the missing TDRs were also circulated.
Vigilance police sources said the missing TDRs had somehow found its way to Wangyal who had issued them to a close circle of contractors, who had not paid any money.
According to government rules, a TDR is issued to a contractor after he deposits the 2.5 per cent of the total work order as security while making a bid. The SBS is the only authorised bank in Sikkim to issue TDRs. In this case, no money had been deposited in the bank but a TDR had been issued as “security”.
Last week, a superintending engineer of the roads and bridges department in West Sikkim’s Geyzing came across six TDRs amounting to Rs 44,65,171 issued from the missing books and alerted the SBS authorities.
The bank complained to the vigilance police that four contractors from West Sikkim — Bikesh Subedi, husband-wife duo A.P. Pradhan and Laxmi Pradhan and Dhan Bahadur Chettri — had submitted the six false TDRs in support of their tender bids to bag three contracts in the district.
“By doing so, the accused contractors have committed several cognisable offences under the IPC,” read the SBS complaint to the police.
The fake TDRs had been submitted in the first half of 2009, the sources said. Pradhan had bagged the contract of slope stabilisation of a road in Tashiding on the basis of the fake TDR. He was also accused of using his wife to submit two fake TDRs for the tender bids.
A case of cheating and forgery under various sections of the IPC has been registered against the bank official and the contractor.
Two storekeepers of the SBS head office here have also been questioned but the missing TDR books have not been recovered and investigations are on.
The vigilance police will soon arrest three other contractors involved in the cheating, the sources said.
Celebration of PangLhab-Sol at Rabong in Grand Scale.  
Gangtok: Under the chairmanship of Shri K.N.Rai,Hon'ble Political Secretary to the chief minister a  meeting of the PangLhab-sol Celebration Committee, Rabong, South Sikkim was held for organising the celebration of the festival in a beffitting manner. In the third follow up meeting related to the festival the meeting yesterday resolved to invite North East state teams to the Volleyball tournament during the festival.Inter constituency level volleyball tourney for both boys and girls will be organised by Sports & Youth Affair Department and PLCC, Rabong.
Thai Expo with an objective to attract more people including tourists and locals with Thai food festival during the event will be an attraction of the programme. Traditional dances, Kwang and many more will be staged in the programme.During the meeting Shri Sonam Gyatso Hon'ble MLA emphasised more towards tradiational attractions rather than modern. Mr. Rai urged all the committee and bazaar communities to come together to make the festival a success. Gen.Secy.PLCC Mr.N.P.Bhutia,informed the house that the curtain raiser of the festival will start from 16th of Aug with a live band show. The meeting was attended by Mr..T.Wangdi, Hon'ble member, State Planning Commission,SDM, Rabong who is also the chairman of the PLCC and , Jt.Dir, Sports, Shri Kamal Chettri, BDO,Rabong,Officer-in charge of Rabong, Bazaar communities, local gentries. Nature would be the theme of the Pang Lhabsol celebrations and the theme this year is Preserving nature’s Bounty and Uniting Sikkim’s Cultural Diversity. Alternative Siiguri-Sikkim route on the anvil
KOLKATA, 1 AUG: In a bid to ensure that Sikkim remains connected with Siliguri throughout the year, the state government has taken up an initiative to establish an alternative route avoiding the heartlands of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM).
The state government has handed over a 95 kilometre long road, which passes through the Dooars, to the Border Road Organisation (BRO) so that it could be converted into an alternative road to Sikkim.
Right now, the National Highway-31 (and a portion of NH-31A) is the only road that connects to Sikkim from Siliguri.
Senior officials at the Writers’ Buildings in Kolkata said the steps have been initiated as the state government faces problems in keeping NH-31 (which becomes NH-31A after crossing the coronation bridge near Sevoke) open amidst the GJMM’s movement for a separate Gorkhaland.
.“As per an order from the Supreme Court, we need to keep the road to Sikkim open throughout the year. When the GJMM movement started,  it was difficult to keep the road open as the protesters blocked the road while
agitating against the state. Three companies of Central paramilitary forces had to be posted on site only to keep the road open as per the court’s orders,” said an official.
The new road will help alleviate the situation by providing an alternative route to Sikkim without the state having to face problems in keeping Sikkim connected even if the NH-31 is blocked, added the official.
According to officials at Writers’ Buildings, the state public works department (PWD) has handed over a narrow road from Khuniamore in Dooars to Rachela on the Sikkim border (see map) over to the BRO to convert it to a full fledged road.
The 95-kilometre stretch of road all along avoids the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha’s stronghold areas and passes through the Dooars where the movement does not have a strong foothold.
An official said: “So far the road has been maintained partly by the PWD and partly by the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The road is very narrow and could not be maintained on a regular basis and that is the reason why it could not be used as an alternative route to NH-31. The DGHC handed over its portion of the road to the PWD first following which the PWD handed over the entire road to the BRO to make it a viable alternative to NH-31.”
It was learnt that the BRO has already applied for permission to widen the road. An official said that the BRO would require permission from the state forest department as well because the land through which the road passes is forest land.  

3 trails to track nature- Kurseong gets ready to open tourism route in september

TT, Siliguri, Aug. 2: Kurseong in its full beauty will soon be open to tourists who love to trudge through coniferous forests past gushing waterfalls, a salamander lake, a butterfly zone, terraced fields and lush tea garden.
The Land of White Orchids — Kurseong as it is known in local Lepcha language — is more popular now as a halt en route to Darjeeling from the plains, than as a tourist spot.
But Himalayan Eco-Tourism Welfare Society, a Kurseong-based NGO, has taken an initiative to promote Kurseong as a prime trekking zone. It has charted out three trails for nature enthusiasts.
“So far, the place has been less popular than Darjeeling and Kalimpong as a tourist spot. But it will take just a trek in the remote busties (villages) to discover the beauty of Kurseong. We will take visitors to the unexplored sites in the subdivision from the coming tourist season in September,” said Roshan Lama, the secretary of the Welfare Society.
Of the three trails, two lead to a common destination of Baggaura — also known as the zero point because of its highest elevation in Kurseong.
A winding uphill path from Kurseong station leads to Dowhill forest, where Victoria and Dowhill Schools — both more than 130 years old — are sheltered amid thick vegetative cover. A forest museum housing rare species of Himalayan flora and fauna can also be found on the way.
Further on, Deorali and Chimney Dara offer spectacular views of the Kanchenjungha and Balasun river. At Baggaura, one can spot a lot of birds and get a view of the Teesta. The tourists can pass through Selphu and Sittong during their downward trip to Lohapool along NH 31.
“From Selphu, the trekkers can climb to the salamander lake at Namthing, surrounded by dense flora. Apart from salamanders, various types of toads, too, are found there,” said Y.K. Rai, the convener of the Welfare Society.
The trekkers can enjoy a variety of fun on the route. They can chase colourful butterflies at Kunti Tar on the bank of the Riyang and visit an ancient Lepcha museum.
The other trail starts from Gairigaon (located 10km from Kurseong on the way to Darjeeling) and passes through the Old Military Road — meant exclusively for the use of British soldiers in the past — which is lined up with birch, pine and silver firs on either side.
“From Baggaura, the trekkers can go to Tiger Hill via Chattakpur. Although Tiger Hill is a famous sunrise viewpoint, another unexplored site along this trail is Lal Khutti, which provides a spectacular view of sunrise,” said Lama.
The third trail is a leisurely walk past sparkling waterfalls from Giddhapahar (10km from Kurseong) to Maldiram Tea Estate (one of the oldest gardens in the hills) via Chittrey, Majua and Jungpana.
“At Giddapahar, tourists can visit Netaji Museum where Subash Chandra Bose had spent seven months under house arrest in 1936. The other USP of this trail is waterfalls that are dotted along the route,” Lama said.
“The distance of the trails ranges between 22km and 27km and it will take three days to complete one trek. There are homestay facilities and lodges for tourists to stay. We have around 10 trained guides to lead the travellers on these routes,” said Lama.
Malvika Singh,TT:Parliament is being misused and democracy is being abused and insulted. It is shameful to watch our elected representatives reduce every critical issue that the country faces into a tragic farce. One rues the gargantuan political immaturity involved in not being able to work out the mechanisms of protest — taking along the affected citizens and encouraging their participation to evolve a strategy to ensure dialogue and thereafter, a solution. For example — why don’t our parliamentarians address and complete pending legislations in Parliament during working hours, and indulge in ‘protests’ thereafter, in their leisure? Why are they so adamant about the unending screaming and yelling, forcing the constant adjournment of both Houses at huge cost to India?
The selfish, daily disruption of parliamentary proceedings by the Opposition has meant a gross misuse of privilege and public money. The values projected by our leaders that we are witnessing in the public domain, smack of selfishness and of a clumsy use of untenable tools of protest. The MPs and MLAs should march through the streets and mohallas, address meetings and do whatever else after ‘office hours’ to win the support of their constituents. On price rise in particular, all parties could walk hand in hand and apologize for their collective failures, ensure safe and sane solutions, storage and distribution systems, and more. The lack of serious intent is evident in the hollow hysteria India is being subjected to every passing day.
In the midst of all these embarrassing activities in Parliament, we had the visit of the British prime minister, David Cameron — whose name was mispronounced as Cameroon — and his high level, impressive entourage. From culture to economics, he has envisaged a broad canvas for possible exchanges and partnerships. It was most refreshing to hear him speak with candour, honesty and intellectual integrity.
Without prejudice
Quite different were the comments of expat journalists settled in this country, who felt that their prime minister should not have aired his real views on Pakistan. To many in India it was an absurd reaction of a retreating generation, one that is mired in policies that have divided the peoples of this subcontinent. Hopefully now these stances — which had added fuel ever so often to the fire that had kept the pot of the subcontinent simmering — may change. Past policies were fashioned to keep the largest marketplace, housing one quarter of our planet’s population, backward, insecure, disturbed and ridden with socio-economic and political problems. This constant ‘enactment’ of divisive tactics laced with a profound sense of condescension kept the club of Western powers closed to diversity and pluralism.
Sadly, this kind of ‘diplomacy’ has aggravated and destroyed relations between India and Pakistan over the decades. Half-truths planned and fine-tuned by officials in favour of the status quo, and then put in the mouths of visiting heads of State during official trips, created much suspicion and alienation. Now, the same lot is criticizing Prime Minister Cameron for breaking away from the untenable foreign policies of the past because the fresh approach could intervene positively to support new processes for peace in the region. Today there is a leadership at the helm of the United Kingdom that does not carry the baggage of an imperial power.
After a long time, one got the feeling that there was genuine political will to build an inclusive, abiding partnership based on faith and commitment for a more purposeful future. In the next few years, we shall experience a generational shift that will bring with it new mechanisms of governance, an attitudinal transformation, and hopefully, a desire to reinvent India and Bharat without the prejudices of the past.

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