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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hill college strike from today - Teacher smells plot in SFI allegation - Morcha campus shutdown till October 5

TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha has called a strike in all the 15 colleges across the hills from tomorrow till October 5 to fulfil several demands the outfit had placed before North Bengal University.
The strike is a fallout of the poor results in Part I and Part II exams of undergraduate courses recently, sparking protests from the students as well as the teaching fraternity, who had accused the NBU of gross negligence.
Nima Sherpa, the press and publicity secretary of the student wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said they had a prolonged meeting today at Darjeeling Government College with those representing the hill colleges in the NBU’s executive council and the under-graduate council.
“None of them could give us satisfactory answers regarding the poor results and other demands that we had raised from time to time. We have called the strike as a last resort and we will not allow the salaries of the teachers and the non-teaching staff to be disbursed during the period,” said Sherpa.
Many institutions like Darjeeling Government College had registered a pass percentage of only about 30 in the exams. Barring Ghoom-Jorebunglow Degree College and Southfield College, results were pathetic in other institutions also.
Sherpa also said the students were demanding a change in the academic session of the colleges on the lines of the schools in the hills. At present, the academic year of the schools begins in March and ends in November, while classes are held in the colleges from July to April.
“We also demand that the NBU’s exam timings be also changed. The varsity holds exams from 2pm and 5pm, making it very difficult for students to return home, especially in remote places because of lack of transport,” said Nima.
He said the NBU had not yet responded to the demand for the reassessment of Part I and Part II exam answer papers without fees. “We had given the NBU time till tomorrow to respond and they have not said anything yet. They have also shown little compassion for students from the hills as many of them had failed in exams by just a single mark. If there is no response to these demands, the strike will continue beyond October 5,” he said.
However, the Vidyarthi Morcha will allow the MSc post-graduate exams slated for October 1 and 4 to take place.
Exposure trip for teens - Army hosts Kashmiri students
TT, Kalimpong, Sept. 29: A 25-member team of students from Jammu and Kashmir were hosted for two days by the army here as part of its Sadbhawna tour programme, providing the young minds an exposure to a world beyond their strife-torn state.
The students from Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi and Doda in the Valley were brought here by the Striking Lions Division of the army, headquartered at the Durpin hills, about 3km from the town. Most of the students are from Class IX to XII
“This is an educational-cum-motivational tour for these youngsters. The aim is to expose these fresh minds to the world outside the Valley,” said an army officer.
During the course of their stay that ended today, the students were taken to tourist hotspots in and around the town. They also interacted with the army officers and local people. “We are very grateful to the army for providing this opportunity to us. We have learned so many things from this tour. We can go back home and play a constructive role in our society,” said Altaf Hussein, a student.
Some among the students were victims of militancy that has been raging in Kashmir for two decades now. “I lost my mother to militants. Two of my brothers were also injured. We want the circle of violence to end as quickly as possible,” said Mohammed Rafiq, another student.
His friend Mohammed Yousuf said only a handful of people were engaged in violence. “There is not much disturbance now. A few created problem taking advantage of a weak political system.” The Class XII student said he wanted to join the IAS.
The students were introduced to the general-officer-commanding of the division Maj. Gen. B.K. Sharma today. They later left for Darjeeling. The students will also visit Sikkim before returning home.
HMI scales global mountaineering peak
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 29: The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) has become a member of the global body governing mountaineering, paving the way for the Darjeeling-based institute to play an international role in framing rules and policies on climbing.
The Delhi-based Indian Mountaineering Federation is already a member of the Switzerland-headquartered Union Internationale Des Association D’Alpinisme (UIAA), also known as the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation.
“The HMI has been made a member after the UIAA reviewed its track record,” said Col. Neeraj Rana, the principal of the HMI. Rana had applied for the membership one and a half years ago.
The HMI has also been given voting rights, which means it can play a pivotal role in framing international rules and policies on mountaineering.
The UIAA lays down training standards to be followed worldwide. It recommends mountaineering equipment and certifies them as safe. It sends experts to member federations to check whether basic guidelines are being followed. New climbing techniques have to be approved by the UIAA.
Certificates issued by the HMI for its basic and advanced courses will be recognised across the world, now that it has become a member of the UIAA.
“So far, we have trained 1,600 foreigners, though we were not sure whether our certificates would be accepted internationally. We will no longer have to worry about recognition as our certificates will now have the UIAA logo,” Rana said.
Tenzing was the director of the institute since its formation in 1954 till he died in 1986. The HMI was set up by Jawaharlal Nehru a year after Tenzing and Edmund Hillary became the first to scale Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.
More international students and professionals are expected to come to HMI as a result of the recognition.
“As part of an exchange programme with the UIAA, professionals from abroad will impart training at our institution. Our teachers and students can also go to foreign institutes,” said Rana, before leaving for Italy to give a presentation on the HMI at a conference organised by the UIAA.
Tibetan refugees off voter list 
TT, Gangtok, Sept. 29: A total of 5,899 names including those of 55 Tibetan refugees in Sikkim have been deleted from the electoral rolls of the state in the past five months during the summary revision process, state chief electoral officer V.B. Pathak said here today.
Briefing the media about the revised electoral rolls, Pathak said the names were deleted by the district electoral officers on grounds of death, migration and duplication.
Altogether 3,817 names were struck off the rolls as the persons were dead and 1,613 names were deleted because the voters have shifted, or transferred their names to other parts of the country, he said.
The remaining 469 names were deleted because they appeared twice. This list also includes the names of the 55 Tibetan refugees.
Most of the names that were deleted on account of deaths and migration were done suo-motu by the election department.
The rest were deleted following objections from the public and subsequent inquiries conducted by the department.
Pathak added that the 55 Tibetan refugees, whose names were deleted as they are not supposed to enrol themselves on the Indian electoral list, were from the East and North districts.
While the administration stumbled across the names of 44 Tibetan refugee certificate holders in North district, 11 names were spotted during the revision in East.
“They have been warned and other government agencies concerned with Tibetan refugees have been informed about the development. They will be initiating necessary action,” said Pathak.
According to the revised rolls, the total number of voters in Sikkim currently stand at 3,10,629. This means an increase of 10,464 voters (3.49 per cent) after 3,00,165 people participated in the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Sikkim last year.
The chief electoral officer attributed the increase to the increase in the number of people who have reached the age of 18 and also inclusion of those who were left out during the earlier revision of rolls.
The summary revision process ended on September 15 and the draft electoral rolls will be soon published, said Pathak.
He also said the election department has achieved 100 per cent Electoral Photo Identity Card coverage in Sikkim.
“We are also holding a photo exhibition on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti at Gangtok in collaboration with the directorate of advertising and visual publicity, ministry of broadcasting, as part of the year long diamond jubilee celebration of the Election Commission of India,” said Pathak.
The exhibition will showcase 60 photos prepared by the directorate on national events and related to state elections, he said.
Buddha rail proposal under fire 

TT, Alipurduar, Sept. 29: At least 10 organisations in the Dooars have resented the chief minister’s proposal to the Centre to suspend plying of trains through forests at night to avoid elephant deaths on tracks.
Some of the organisations felt that the chief minister should pay more attention to important matters —like the state of roads in the region — than elephants. They said they would meet Union minister Jairam Ramesh to complain about the state forest department’s alleged negligence.
The chief minister wrote a letter to Ramesh, the Union minister of state for environment and forests, on Monday, asking him to make the railways stop running the trains from 6pm to 6am in the Gulma-Rajabhatkhawa section, a distance of 147km. Bhattacharjee’s letter came four days after seven elephants were mowed down by a goods train at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district. “The trains that run through these tracks during the day should have a speed restriction of a maximum of 20kmph. Such drastic steps are needed as the tracks run through four wildlife sanctuaries and across 20 identified elephant corridors,” the chief minister wrote.
Joy Shankar Choudhury from Nanda Devi Foundation, an NGO, blamed the lack of fodder for elephants straying out of the forests. Forest officials should be more active. “Train is the lifeline of the Dooars. If the forest staff patrol the area properly and pass the information to the railway on time, this kind of incident can be avoided,” he said.
Amal Dutta of the Alipurduar Nature Club and Larry Bose from the Nagarik Mancha also spoke on similar views. “Running of trains cannot be stopped at night. The Centre has spent crores of rupees for gauge conversion. It is the forest department which should be more active and keep elephants confined to jungles,” Dutta said.
Secretary of the Alipurduar Chamber of Commerce Prasenjit Dey said they expected that the chief minister would pass orders to repair the national and state highways in the Dooars as the traders were facing huge loss on the puja-eve.
“More than 30 lakh of people in the Dooars are suffering for bad roads. But to the chief minister, seven elephants are more important,” Dey said and added they would meet Ramesh during his visit on October 2.
He said although Left Front ministers from north Bengal had brought the situation to Bhattacharjee’s notice several times, he did not care at all. “Only yesterday he wrote to the surface transport minister in Delhi to repair the national highways soon.”
Secretary of Alipurduar Town Byabsayee Samiti Paritosh Das echoed Dey. “We have sent several representations to the government and expected the chief minister to intervene. But we have not seen any result so far,” he said.
Local people and businessmen at Falakata Station More today blocked NH31 from 9am to 2.30pm to protest the potholed and dusty highway. The agitation was withdrawn after police intervention.
Slap slur on professor
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 29: A third-year student of a college, who was admitted to the district hospital here today after she fainted, alleged that she was slapped by a professor on the campus.
Sudeshna Dutta said the professor, a member of the Trinamul Congress’s education cell, had picked on her because she was an SFI member. An FIR has been filed against two teachers.
A student of philosophy (honours), Sudeshna, alleged that Krishna Pal, a lecturer of history at Siliguri College, had used abusive language before slapping her when she tried to return her a book.
“Since my attendance was low I had gone to the staff room yesterday to get permission from the head of the department to attend classes. As soon as she saw me, Krishna Ma’am started scolding me for not returning her book. Sangeeta Raha, a teacher of our department, too, joined her. She abused me saying I was a girl of loose morals. I left the room saying that I would return the book tomorrow,” Sudeshna said from her hospital bed.
Today, around 2.30pm Sudeshna along with some of her friends had gone to return the book to Pal.
“Today too she used filthy language. When I tried to say something in my defence she slapped me in front of my friends,” Sudeshna said. She was admitted to the hospital by her classmates after she fainted. “The book is just an excuse and Krishna Ma’am is victimising me for being a SFI supporter,” Sudeshna said.
SFI supporters confined the teachers in the staff room for over two hours demanding action against Pal. They withdrew the siege after principal, Malay Karanjai, assured them that a Teacher’s Council meeting would be held tomorrow to discuss the issue.
“We demand the college authorities to take strict action against Pal. She is always victimising students for supporting the SFI,” Amit Goswami, the general-secretary of the SFI-backed union at the college said.
Both Raha and Pal have denied allegations against them.
“I have not slapped her. Sudeshna had borrowed the book from me two years ago. The girl was not coming to college after the third-year classes began. I had just asked her to return my book. This is a tactics of the SFI to malign me because I am a Trinamul supporter,” Pal who is also the convener of the Trinamul education cell said.
“We have had more than 100 classes and Sudeshna’s attendance is only eight. What are we teachers here for if we can’t even tell a student to attend classes regularly,” Raha said.
“The girl had fainted but she is stable,” said Sreshendu Paul, the doctor who treated Sudeshna said.
Civic ‘honeymoon’ ends
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 29: The Trinamul Congress today walked out of the meeting of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation declaring that the “honeymoon with the Congress was over”, in a repetition of what it did a year ago.
The board meeting that began at 1pm and marred by protests concluded with Trinamul councillors walking out of the room four hours later. On October 1 last year, the Trinamul councillors had left the meeting after losing the elections to the posts of mayor and chairperson after the CPM voted in favour of the Congress nominees.
“The Congress-led board is functioning with a tacit understanding with the Left Front. We had extended informal solidarity on the basis of a negotiation on March 30 but could not carry on any further as the board is indulging in corruption. We feel the honeymoon with the Congress is over now,” said Gautam Deb, the Darjeeling district Trinamul president and party leader at the SMC. “We were silent since March 30 for the sake of the alliance. But now we want to make it clear that unless the Congress renews the negotiation process by dissolving the present board, we will abstain from extending support.”
According to political observers, the Trinamul move is expected as the Congress leadership, despite repeated reminders from its ally, has been running the board alone. The Left, although the principal opposition, has not brought any no-confidence motion against the board as a strategy to widen the rift between the two parties.
“After Mamata Banerjee’s recent visit when she had specifically ruled out joining the board unless the Congress severed ties with the CPM, such a reaction from Trinamul was expected. It will further help the party raise allegations on the CPM-Congress nexus,” an observer said.
Today, the trouble began when Trinamul councillor Ranjan Silsharma alleged that no steps were taken against an SMC employee accused of misappropriating funds nine months ago. He was joined by Deb and Krishna Pal, who pointed out that although there was no building committee at the SMC, the civic board was approving site and building plans in every meeting.
Mayor Gangotri Datta tried to reply to the charges but failed to satisfy them. By then, the Trinamul councillors raised their voices, prompting Sujoy Ghatak, the member, mayor-in-council (conservancy), to ask the protesters to stop passing comments. This infuriated the Trinamul councillors who flung the reports of previous board meetings in the air and walked out.
The mayor later said what the Trinamul councillors did today was an attempt to malign the board’s image. “If they have complaints against the board, they should place them in a proper manner.”
Opposition leader in the SMC Nurul Islam said the councillors, being responsible public representatives, should behave “properly”. 
Forest to explore stop-transport right- Wildlife boss can stall trains: Raha

TT, Sukna, Sept. 29: The principal chief conservator of forest today said his department was exploring the option of invoking a law under which it had the right to regulate and control transport movement in sanctuaries and wildlife parks.
The PCCF, Atanu Raha, said the chief wildlife warden of the state had been conferred legislative powers to control transport in the forest areas but the department would consult experts before implementing them.
“We might take a look at the law and try to assess that to what extent the CWLW can impose restrictions on transport movement through forests,” Raha said. “We are not saying that the restrictions will be imposed immediately, but we can look into this aspect.”
Seven wild elephants were mowed down by a speeding goods train on the night of September 22 in Jalpaiguri district. The incident had sparked outrage across the country with the railways and the ministry of environment and forest indulging in a blamegame. The railways said, Moraghat, where the incident occurred, was not a notified jumbo zone and it should have been informed about elephant movement as decided in an earlier meeting. The forest department said goods trains should not travel on forest routes at night and because these trains do not have specific timings, it was difficult to inform the nearest railway station about elephant movement.
A meeting was held between the two departments in Delhi yesterday to discuss the running of trains through the forests of north Bengal. The forest officials endorsed the appeal sent by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh to try and stop the running of night trains through forest areas. But the Railway Board members at the meeting said it was not possible to do so. In fact, after rejecting the appeal they said the frequency of trains through Siliguri-Alipurduar route would be increased.
Raha, who attended the Delhi meeting, said if the railways remained undeterred, the state forest department would have to exercise the powers conferred by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, on the state’s chief wildlife warden.
“We had placed a number of proposals which the officials of the ministry also endorsed and insisted that the railways accept them, but the Railway Board members rejected them and said more trains would be run on the route,” the PCCF said.
He said the railway officials had been asked to gradually reduce the number of trains running through the forest at night. “We asked them to increase the number of trains during the day. Also, it was suggested from our side that the railways could double-line the other route, via Jalpaiguri, Mainaguri, Dhupguri and Falakata, and run the goods train through that route,” Raha said.
युवती कुचविहारबाट उद्वार
मनोज बोगटी voice of sikkim कालेबुङ, 29 सेप्टेम्बर।विभिन्न वाहनामा नेपाली युवतीहरू वेचिने घटना नौलो होइन। दिनोदिन नै युवतीहरू ठगिएको घटना देखिए पनि कसैले पनि सचेतता देखाएको देखिएको छैन। आज पनि एक ठगिएको युवतीलाई हिल सोसियल वेलफेयर सोसाइटीले  कुचविहारबाट उद्वार गरेको छ। सोसाइटीका युडेन भोटियाको अगुवाइमा गएको टोलीले झुक्काएर विहे गरेर लगेका वर्मेक निवासी सुनिता राई(काल्पनिक नाम)लाई सकुशल कालेबुङ फर्काएर ल्याएको छ। घटना अनुसार सुनिता गान्तोकमा कसैको घरमा काम गर्ने केटीकोरूपमा गएकी थिइन्‌। तिनले त्यसै घरमा केही वर्ष काम पनि गरिन्‌। काम गर्दागर्दै  कुचविहारको घोक्साडोङ्गा निवासी जो गान्तोकमा नै काम गर्थे कृष्णकान्त वर्मनले विहे गेर सुनितालाई कुचविहार लगेका थिए। विहे गरेर गएपछि केही दिनदेखि नै कृष्णले कंशकोरूप देखाउन थाल्यो। कृष्णले सुनितालाई दिनदिनै शारिरिक अनि मानसिकरूपले सताउन थाले। कुटपिट त सामान्य भइसकेको थियो। सुनिताले सबै कुरा आफ्नो भाग्य सम्झेर सहँदै गइन्‌। तर जब कृष्णले दाइजोकोरूपमा सुनिताको माइतलाई पैसा माग्न कर गर्न थाले अनि ज्यानै लिने धम्की गर्न थाले सुनिताको धर्यताको बॉंध फुट्यो। सुनिताले आफूलाई विहे गरेर लगेको होइन पैसाको निम्ति आफूलाई लगेको कुरा स्पष्ट थाहा पाइन्‌। जब यातनाले सीमा नाघ्यो सुनिताले गान्तोकमा पहिले काम गरेको ठाउँमा वृतान्त बताइनन्‌। गान्तोकबाट हिल सोसियत वेलफेयर सोसाइटीलाई जब यो कुरा पुर्‍यायो सोसाइटीले यसबारे व्यापक छानबिन शुरू गर्‍यो। जब सुनितालाई पैसाको निम्ति लगिएको थाहा पाइयो तब तिनलाई उद्वार गरियो-युडेन भोटियाले बताइन्‌। तिनले कृष्णले विहेको कागजपत्र सबै नक्कली पाइएको पनि जनाएका छन्‌। तिनले विभिन्न प्रकारले विभिन्न लोभ देखाएर नेपाली युवतीहरूलाई लैजाने बताउँदै यस कुरामा सचेत हुनुपर्ने बताएकी छन्‌।

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CPM accuses Mamata of disrupting peace in hills... Young guns make Darjeeling hills proud

ANI, Kolkata:Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) members on Tuesday accused Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for fostering animosity amongst the people of Darjeeling and supporting the Gorkha community's demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.
"A conspiracy is being hatched to break our unity. Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is trying to divide Darjeeling and in turn divide West Bengal by demanding a separate Gorkhaland. They are trying to create divide amongst the people of the state. It is very disheartening to see that Mamata Banerjee in lure of votes and to garner support extended support to their separatist demands," said Jibesh Sarkar, CPI-M Darjeeling District Secretary.
Mamata Banerjee, who concluded her two-day visit to Darjeeling on Monday, talked about special packages for the people of the region, which she felt, has been neglected over these years by the Left-ruled State government.
Reacting to her claims, Sarkar termed her visit as politically motivated and blamed TMC cadres for creating lawlessness and terror in the State by supporting the anti-national groups.
"The people of West Bengal are ready to fight the separatists and the Maoists. The battle will definitely take place and we will surely defeat them." Sarkar added.
On Monday, Mamata Banerjee emphasised that she would urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit the hills in West Bengal and offer special economic package to the people of the region.
"I will recommend to our honorable Prime Minister. I will request him to visit the hill areas. Come to the hill town with a special package as there is a requirement of a special package in Darjeeling," she added.
Banerjee said that the Gorkha population of the State has always talked of development as the primary issue of their region.
"I had a talk with the Janamukti Morcha (Gorkha Janamukti Morcha) but these people never talked about a separate Gorkhaland state with me. They just talked about development and they are present here also," she added.
The Gorkhaland Movement that began in the 1980s had ended with a truce between the then-leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi after he accepted limited autonomy in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
A renewed demand for Gorkhaland, which would include Darjeeling and some contiguous areas of Jalpaiguri district, was again raised by a set of new leaders like Bimal Gurung, plunging the hill areas into fresh turmoil.
The Gorkha population in West Bengal is around a million out of the state's 80 million people.
Young guns make Darjeeling hills proud 
[ KalimNews: A press release of Sikkim University to KalimNews with the title "Two SU students selected for Hiroshima University fellowship programme -Great feat for one of the youngest university in the country:Prof Lama" was published on 24 Septembet edition of Kalimpong News.  These SU students are from Darjeeling hills . A report from Darjeeling Times (]
Two young academicians from the Darjeeling hills, Mr. Rabindra Mani Pradhan and Mr Aminesh A Lulam Rai, are heading to the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, Japan after having been selected at an international competition on “International Environmental Leader Short-Term Training Program for Sustainable Asia.” The duo are currently enrolled for their MPhil studies at the Sikkim Central University.
The purpose of this course is to recognize and develop environmental leaders who can address various environmental issues and challenges faced by the international community. This course tends to train the students to comprehend the connection between important global environmental issues and issues relating to promoting sustainable development at the grassroots label.
The two young guns give their University – Sikkim Central University – and its teachers all the credit for their success. In particular they have acknowledged the help they received from their Professor. Mr. J. P. Tamang an eminent scholar and academician for helping them succeed in this endeavour.
The duo are the only two students selected from India. Commenting on the successful selection of the two students from Sikkim University Prof, Mahindra P Lama, Vice Chancellor SU said, “ Such things shows that our students are intellectually matured and confident and will make us proud, likewise in the days to come”,
A short Bio of the duo:
Mr. Rabindra Mani Pradhan 
Son of: Mr. Ram Kishor and Mrs. Ganga Pradhan   
Place of birth:
Jorebunglow, Darjeeling
Ruhiyyih Bahai School, Jorebunglow.
Bethany, Darjeeling
High school:
St. Robert’s, Darjeeling
St. Joseph’s College, Darjeeling
Sikkim Central University
Academic qualifications:

M.A: International Relations. 1st class 1st (University Topper, SU)
B.A (Hons): Political Science, St. Joseph’s College
Advanced Diploma:
Eco-tourism management (NBU)
Basic Course:
Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling (A+ grade).
Mr. Pradhan is an excellent guitarist and singer. He along with his brother Gyanendra perform with the Darjeeling based band “Mystic East.” Some of their songs have been uploaded on youtube for sampling. Mr. Pradhan is an excellent painter, photographer and an avid nature lover.

Mr. Animesh Anderw Lullum Rai
Son of: Mr. Rabindra Peter and Mrs. Kusum Lulum Rai
Place of birth:
Shantitar, Chongtong T. E.
ICSE: Vidya Vikash Academy, Darjeeling

ISC: St. Jospeh’s School, Darjeeling (Star marks in Sociology and Pol. Science)
B.A. (Hons): Sociology, St. Xavier’s, Kolkata
M.A: Department of Social Systems and Anthropology, 1st class 1st (University Topper)
Awarded Excellence Award in Sociology by Kshetrimayum Sorojini and Shyamkanhai Foundation (KSSF) on 11th September 2010
Mr. Rai is also an avid guitarist and his interest lies in classical rather than commercial guitar. He is a very outgoing person and is always eager and helpful to others. His love for new culture and traditions and his outgoing nature is what pushes him to excel in his academic life.
DT team wishes luck to both these stalwarts and passes on the best wishes from Gorkhali’s all over the world.
Bhutan want rail line upto Pasakha
PTI, Kolkata, Sep 29 : Bhutan today said it wants its proposed rail link with India to be extended up to its upcoming dry port facility at Pasakha instead of the bordering town of Phuntsoling as originally planned.
"It was initially planned that the line will connect Hasimara in West Bengal with Phuntsoling. We now want the line to be extended up to Pasakha where we are setting up a dry port. There is also an industrial estate nearby," Bhutan's economic affairs secretary Dasho Sonam Tshering, who was on a visit to the city, told reporters.
The first-ever rail link between India and Bhutan was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to that country in 2008. It was named 'Golden Jubilee Rail Line' to commemorate former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's visit to Bhutan 50 years ago.
Tussle for a title- Babri Masjid/ Ram Mandir
The dispute is 60 years old, innumerable lives have been lost for the sake of a mere land title. Whether you call it Ram’s birthplace or debris of an erstwhile Babri Masjid, the land will remain as fertile or futile as it is. Yet, it might not surprise those who have witnessed the macabre bloodbath of 1992, when a Hindu mob turned Babri Masjid to ruins resulting in more than 2000 lives being lost in the aftermath.
Over the years, construction of Ram temple has been Bharatiya Janata Party’s sole agenda and food for survival. Though vague attempts at framing a secular image were made during the last election, later the party made it apparent that nothing has changed.
The ruling party, Congress on the other hand, has used the same matter to turn Muslim votes in its favor by portraying a secular image. But the reality remains that nothing has been done in the name of secularity or humanity. The mass murderers are still moving around freely as cases against them lay pending.
The storm has abated for the time being, as the verdict has been postponed till 28th September. But the vibes foretell it might be the silence before the inevitable communal riots.
An old ally of BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) city unit leader said that the members of the Bajarang Dal and VHP will launch a campaign of chanting Hanuman Chalisa to pressurize the government to agree to build Ram Mandir. “We are not responsible for any violence if the court verdict goes against us” he further warned.
Though Hindus form 80 percent of the population, we cannot forget that we are a secular nation, where every community has equal right to preach and practice its faith in harmony. So isn’t there any remedy to this malaise?
A junior lawyer of Delhi High Court argues, “There can be a diplomatic solution. You can build the Ram temple and a Mosque by its side which can satisfy both the communities”. I wonder if it is really a solution. Why can’t we think different?
“Why don’t they just build an orphanage or hospital in Ayodhya? The end result will help us in future”, says Priyabrata Bhattacharjee, 24, an MBA student from Bengaluru. But the question is will our voices ever reach the deaf ears? (Debojit Dutta)
Vehicular pollution 
When people talk about the environment, a few prominent issues always come to mind. Pollution, urbanization, global warming and conservation are among these major issues and all other environmental problems are their derivatives or lead to these. For example, industrial waste mismanagement leads to pollution and contributes to global warming. A similar story is seen in the case of improper waste disposal, land pollution, sewage disposal and so many other rural and urban problems. Vehicular pollution is among these contemporary problems, perhaps among the most destructive of the lot. It is a global phenomenon, even though it appears to be more concentrated in certain areas like the USA, Middle East and thickly populated countries like India, etc. With more and more wealth being available to the people these days, the number of automobiles in use is increasing sharply and correspondingly, so is the amount of air pollution due to them.
Vehicular pollution refers exclusively to the air pollution caused by the emission of exhausts produced by the combustion of fuels. Most vehicles use petrol, diesel or other derivatives or blends of petroleum as fuels. Fossil fuels provide high energy output upon combustion, but also produce many by-products as wastes. The most notable among these being Particulate matter (PM), Nitrogen oxides, Sulphur dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Ozone and toxic pollutants. Ground level ozone is produced when vehicular pollutants react with sunlight and form “smog” which irritates the respiratory tract, causes coughing, choking and decreases lung capacity. Particulate matter, of diameter less than 10 micrometer, poses the most harmful threat to humans as they can penetrate very deep into the lungs and cause irritation and abrasion. Carbon Monoxide pollution is extremely dangerous as the presence of CO in the blood prevents the intake and supply of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, which could be fatal. Sulphur dioxide, produced by burning diesel, is toxic and is extremely harmful for asthmatic patients. Apart from drastically reducing air quality and causing dangers to health, vehicular pollution also majorly contributes to Global warming. This is an immediate concern, as climate change is becoming more and more prominent and rapid. Carbon dioxide is the major contributor to the green house effect and much of CO2 emissions come from motor vehicles.  China and USA are at the top in overall CO2 emissions while Middle Eastern countries (Qatar, UAE and Kuwait) earn the dubious honour of having the highest per capita emissions of CO2.
Being a resident of the Middle East all my life, I have witnessed unbridled and reckless usage of fuels. The arrogance of wealth among the Arab nationals and the cheap prices of fuel enable them to use up to 4 SUV’s per family. While countries like Indian and China lead the pollution tables because of their strong efforts to bring about rapid economic growth and a swiftly growing, increasingly self reliant population, most other developed nations like USA, South Korea, UK and GCC countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are in the list merely because their citizens can afford to pollute without thinking of the consequences. A forty year old Kuwaiti citizen, Hassan Al Hussain’s (name changed) family consists of his wife, four children and two maids. But he is a proud owner of 2 GMC Suburban (6.0 L engines,) a Lamborghini Murcielago (6.2L V12 engine) and an Audi which his wife drives. This is only an example of how people spend because they can and hence pollute. Kuwait has a per capita GDP of $81,800 and is the 5th richest country (CIA World Factbook) with a population of 3.5 million but it ranks third in per capita carbon dioxide emission. The story isn’t very different in most countries of the region or in fact most of the rich, “developed” countries in the world.
Ultimately, the responsibility to decrease pollution and conserve the environment falls on the shoulders of all the citizens of the world, regardless of their nation’s economic state. Although, it is the ethical responsibilities of developed nations to contribute more, as one can’t realistically expect developing nations to put their economic growth on hold, while other nations march forward relentlessly. Having said that, reducing vehicular emissions by developing more efficient means of fuel consumption is also a means of economic development.  Efficient fuel utilization and cleaner and healthier environment are insurances for a brighter future for any nation.
Extensive work has already been done in the field of reducing and controlling vehicular pollution. Pollution control devices like catalytic convertors, efficient engines, and exhaust regulation techniques have been in use for a long time. Catalytic convertors, both two-way and three-way types, are used to convert poisonous Carbon monoxide and dangerous unburnt carbon products into the non-toxic CO2 and water. While using catalytic convertors, one must be careful to use unleaded petrol, which by itself is a pollution control measure. A well designed engine increases the efficiency of combustion of the fuel and decreases waste. Exhaust emissions should be treated before being released into the atmosphere. Air injection technique is used to burn of excess hydrocarbons at start up and Exhaust Gas Recirculation technique is used to dilute the air/fuel charge so that the peak ignition temperature comes down and hence, the amount of Nitrogen Oxides produced decreases. Another important measure that has already been put into action in many parts of the world is the use of “clean” fuels like the use of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in India Pakistan, Bioethanol in US and Brazil and Biodiesel in European nations. These biofuels are produced by fermenting natural sugar or by the trans esterification of vegetable and animal fats and oils.
Efforts are being taken by the governments to reduce emissions by the above mentioned methods of pollution control and by enforcing control standards like Euro 3, Euro 4, Bharat stage 4 (in India), etc. But at the turn of the century, international focus is on the development of Hybrid cars: vehicles that are not dependent on fossil fuels. I have already discussed the growth of alternate fuel powered automobiles. Hybrid vehicles use two power sources, a conventional fuel and an alternate, environmental friendly source like electricity, solar power, hydrogen, etc. Examples of hybrid vehicles include Toyota Prius- the fleet of the NYPD and the GMC Yukon Hybrid. However these vehicles are yet to make a prominent mark in the market, with the conventional SUV’s still dominating the roads. Efforts have to be made to popularize hybrid vehicles in the international market, particularly trying to push cheap, fuel efficient vehicles in middle economy countries. India’s Tata Corp. has recently released the Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world ($2200) and is promising to release both Hybrid and Compressed-air engine versions very soon.
Thus, earnest efforts are finally being made on a large scale to reduce vehicular pollution. It would definitely take some time and much more effort to produce a measurable change, but it’s a start. It is also important to realize that the grass root efforts would make as much as a difference as the large scale ones in the longer run. Walking and using public transportation as far as possible are some efforts that we as individuals can make. Most metropolises have a very well developed public transport system, which is easy to use and costs nominal amounts. If we are ready to tolerate a little discomfort to reduce our carbon footprints, it would definitely make a difference. Another thing that we can do is opt for smaller and efficient vehicles, preferably hybrids, to reduce emissions. Also, it is a much known phenomenon that people buy larger vehicles to assert their social standing in the community. This outlook is rather regressive. We should actively encourage the Green trend. These little efforts from people always go a long way. Remember that numerous single drops of water together make an ocean. We have seen the Iron Age, the Bronze Age and the Industrial revolution and both the wonders and horrors that they have brought. The 21st century should be the Green Age, where our active participation in environmental conservation will guarantee a brighter future.- Rashmi Rajshekhar
No More Kandhamal
In August 2008, one of the worst communal genocide attempts on the Christian community occurred in Orissa's Kandhamal district, among India's poorest places. Over 100 people including women, differently-abled, children, Adivasis and Dalits were killed. 3 women were gang raped and many were injured. 295 churches were destroyed. Educational and medical institutions were not spared. 15,000 fearful and threatened survivors who cannot return to their villages unless they convert to Hinduism are still living in tents. Read more
The high displacement in the last two years, hellish life in refugee camps and the breakdown of many families due to poverty have affected the aggrieved, psychologically. Minor and adolescent girls are being trafficked for 'security' and livelihood. Widespread ostracisation of Christians in Kandhamal affected adult employment and children's education. The meagre government compensation was insufficient for the immediate medical needs of many.
While Sangh Parivar followers attacked Adivasis and Dalits, the administration stood either as a silent spectator or indirectly supported the violence. The state's deliberately negligent behaviour is common where the population primarily comprises marginalized communities like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST as per official jargon). From 3300 victims' complaints filed in the local police stations, only 831 were registered as FIR's most of which are pending inquiry. The minimal investigations and bias have acquitted the criminals 'arrogating' them before the minorities.
The attacks on Christians spread to over 10 states in India, hurting the fundamentals of democracy and spiritual harmony. Karnataka recorded the maximum anti-Christian attacks in India in 2009 and is keeping pace this year.
The National Solidarity Forum, a coalition of over 55 organisations nationwide held solidarity events across India. Strongly condemning attacks on religious minorities, it requested all democratic forces to unitedly fight the rising communal fascism. Appealing to all peace loving people in the country to support the cause for justice in Kandhamal, it demanded:
* Prosecution of - police personnel who failed to register FIR's and encouraged the communal violence in Kandhamal
- those responsible for forcing conversions to Hinduism
- relevant administrative officials for dereliction of duty
* Transfer of investigation to CBI/SIT
* Compensation for - houses destroyed in mass arson
- victims of gender violence,
- loss of livelihood for two years
- all widows/next of kin of those who died in the riots
* Resettlement in home villages with full land rights and security
* Employment of men and women victims
* Counseling for traumatised children, women and men
* Rehabilitation of children, especially girls whose education is interrupted
* Reissue of property documents and educational certificates destroyed
* Implementation of a witness protection scheme and provision of necessary assistance to survivors to ensure their court testimony
* Repeal the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967, which fuels prejudicial attitudes towards religious minorities
* Establishment of a State Commission for Minorities, like its national counterpart
Photo credit:
Deepak Srinivasan, 
Peoples’ Solidarity Concerns (PSC), Student Christian Movement, India (SCM-I), St. Joseph's College of Arts and Science, Visthar and The Other Media-Communications (TOMC) were among those who organized a protest outside Town Hall, Bangalore, on 25th August, 2010. These groups also facilitated a talk by Dr. Ram Puniyani on "Color of Terror: Saffron, Green or Black" on 10th September 2010 in Bangalore. Dr. Puniyani, Prof. Ninan Koshy and Mr. Jagadish Chandra of PSC subsequently responded to questions.
A set of poignant sketches by two artists whom the violence directly impacted is here.
Pushpa Achanta
(The author is a freelance writer, a Fellow of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers' Bureau, and a community volunteer based in Bangalore, India)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hill meeting postponed .. Mamata tour benefited both, says Morcha - Party withdraws fast for Nickole Tamang ...Tribal call after hill tour . Demand for greater Jharkhand .. .Ayodhya verdict on 30 sept ...

TNN, Kolkata:The September 30 Darjeeling talks, scheduled to be held in Delhi, have been postponed. "The home ministry has postponed the meeting. It is up to them to announce a new date," Bengal home secretary Samar Ghosh said on Tuesday. No new date has been announced. "Postponement of the talks will not have any bearing on the progress of negotiations, said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.
Inputs from PTI:Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen had said at Siliguri yesterday that the meeting had ‘probably’ been postponed.
The last tripartite was held on September 7 in Darjeeling among officials of the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha over the proposed interim authority in the hills.
It also discussed whether the proposed authority would have elected or nominated members and the legislative powers to be given to it.
Nickole Tamang’s mother offers juice to a Morcha supporter to end the fast. Picture by Suman Tamang
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said Mamata Banerjee’s visit had been “mutually beneficial” and her proposal to set up a secretariat in the hills was on the lines of the party’s demand for an interim set-up for the region.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the spokesperson for the Morcha, today said: “The visit has been mutually beneficial. The message is we are ready to welcome any leader willing to listen to us. This also proves that our agitation is not against any community.”
Chhetri said Mamata, too, would benefit from the visit as she was able to come to Darjeeling where no Left Front leaders had dared to in recent times, hinting that it would be a slap on the face of her arch rival, the CPM. The Left party is also the bete noire of the Morcha, which had once forced the CPM to cancel a meeting in Darjeeling that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was supposed to attend in November 2007.
On the proposal for a secretariat in Darjeeling, Chhetri said: “The offer for a secretariat is on the lines of our demand for an interim set-up. If our people do not have to travel far to get their problems addressed it will definitely do us good.”
As expected, the Morcha refused to accept that Gorkhaland could not be achieved. When reminded that Mamata had underlined her stand to keep the state united, Chhetri said: “The success of the demand (for statehood) will depend on our agitation and not on who is supporting us or not. The demand is legitimate and it is achievable.”
Roshan Giri, general secretary of the Morcha, thanked Mamata for the railway initiatives she announced yesterday. “She has agreed to all our demands. But we want speedy implementation of the projects or else, it would be another betrayal. However, we are hopeful that Mamata will keep her promises.”
On the Morcha’s decision to skirt the Gorkhaland issue during the meeting with Mamata, Chhetri said: “She had visited Darjeeling as a Union minister and we were more concerned about including Darjeeling in India’s railway map.”
Giri also said that Thursday’s tripartite talks have been postponed. “The meeting is being postponed for a few days because of a reshuffle in the state’s bureaucracy,” the Morcha leader said.
The Morcha today lifted the indefinite fast after requests from Nickole Tamang’s mother and wife. Seven Yuva Morcha activists had been on fast from September 17 demanding that Nickole, a prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder, be produced alive in court.
Nickole allegedly fled CID custody on August 22. The Morcha has alleged that he had died in custody.
Puzzled withdrawal
KalimNews: On the withdrwal of hungerstrike GJMM sources said that Nicole's mother Binadevi Tamang had written a letter to Bimal Gurung that she had lost a son now she doesnot want to lose more sons as such GJMM Chief should arrange for withdrawal of the hungerstrike and on that basis Bimal withdrawal of the same. 
On the other hand GJYM claimed that they had approached Mamata about the hungerstrike and she had requested them to withdraw it, on getting her assurance of taking the matter with concerned officials they had withdrawn the hungerstrike. 
In another statement DP Singh SP Darjeeling said the some one is dying of his own choice and we are sitting idle, it cannot be tolerated so we had sent a mesage to the GJMM that we will take appropriate action for saving the hunger strikeres and they had withdrawn the hungerstrike. People are puzzled on whom to believe.   
Tribal call after hill tour- Invite opens up Mamata’s chance to expand
ANINDYA SENGUPTA AND AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Calcutta, Sept. 28: The Adivasi and Rajbangshi outfits of the Dooars and Terai and Cooch Behar district today said they would request Mamata Banerjee to visit the regions, the invitation opening up the Trinamul Congress scope to expand its base in north Bengal where the Left Front has been losing ground since last year’s Lok Sabha polls.
The Adivasi and Rajbangshi pleas also mean the Congress, which in other circumstances could have cashed in on the erosion of the Left support base, will have to yield space to Mamata.
“We want her to visit the Terai and the Dooars, meet our organisations and get a feel of our problems so that she can make some announcements that could benefit us,” said John Barla, the president of the Dooars Terai regional unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, the dominant tribal outfit of the region.
Like the Adivasis in the Dooars and the Terai, Rajbangshi leaders, too, want the railway minister to visit Cooch Behar.
“The minister’s visit to Darjeeling and subsequent announcements have made us feel positive about her. We sincerely believe that her visit to the Rajbangshi belts of north Bengal will help improve the people’s condition,’’ said Asutosh Burma, secretary of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party.
For Trinamul, this is a chance to make inroads in the region. Unlike in the hills where the party can at best ride piggy back on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, in the plains Trinamul can count on the support of the tribals to set up its own base.
The 2009 parliamentary polls revealed that the Left’s vote share had gone down significantly, compared to 2004, in the tribal-Nepali dominated Dooars and Terai and in Rajbangshi-concentrated Cooch Behar.
The CPM’s vote share in the Darjeeling parliamentary seat dropped from 33 per cent in 2004 to 25 per cent in 2009. Party sources said since then a sizeable chunk of tribals, Nepalis and Rajbangshis in Terai’s Phansidewa and Matigara-Naxalbari Assembly segments had begun moving away towards Trinamul.
In Cooch Behar, the Left’s vote share plummeted by seven per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls as Trinamul put up a stiff fight.
Adivasi leader Barla said one of the reasons for the tribals moving away from the Left was that despite several representations, the state government had done little to improve the infrastructure in the region. “Besides, tea workers who have been living in the gardens for generations have not been given land rights.”
A CPM minister of north Bengal said: “The tribals and the Nepalis constitute nearly 80 per cent of the population of the Dooars and Terai and that is a cause for worry for the Left. Trinamul is likely to get good support from them’’.
What has also raised eyebrows in the CPM is the unofficial understanding Trinamul had with the Morcha in the Assembly bypolls in November last year for the Kalchini and Rajganj seats which the Left lost.
“Trinamul stood by the Morcha-supported independent candidate in Kalchini, which they won. The Morcha reciprocated by supporting Trinamul in Rajganj Assembly seat that has a big Nepali and Rajbangshi electorate. Trinamul won this seat. If this continues to happen in the Dooars and Terai, it will be difficult for the Left in 2011,” a senior RSP leader said.
High on Hills, but Trinamool treads cautiously
Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee with folk artists in Darjeeling: PTI
Sabyasachi Bandhopadhyay, IE, Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee may have visited Darjeeling as the country’s Railway Minister and tagged it “apolitical” in nature, but the political dividends from her three-day sojourn could not be ignored.
“The visit of our leader has of course rejuvenated our party,” said Gautam Dev, Darjeeling district Trinamool Congress president, but he was quick to add that the visit was basically aimed at the development of the hills.
“In fact, Mamatadi instructed us not to give ‘political’ character to the visit, and we even did not use our party flags. In Siliguri, she told us that nobody from the party except me will accompany her to the hills,” Dev added, whose party has about 1,000 registered members in the hills.
The visit, which saw Mamata showering sops for Darjeeling as she went on announcing new schemes with her promise to bring a special package for the region from the Prime Minister, has generated a lot of buzz. The Trinamool Congress realises that it can capture the renewed interest about the party among the hills population, but it does not want to act in a haste. “We are not going in for any special membership drive because it may trigger criticism from some quarters,” said Dev. 
The region, which for the past year has witnessed frequent shutdowns as part of the ongoing agitation for a separate state, has in the recent months seen the popularity of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) — which have been spearheading the movement — waning. Though other outfits like All India Gorkha League (AIGL) have not been able to get to the centre-stage of hill politics, observers feel that Trinamool may be trying to carve a space for itself in the region.
“The Trinamool will definitely benefit from the visit. And there are a few reasons behind it. First, the GJM is fast losing support and there is space for other parties to grow,” said AIGL spokesperson Lakshman Pradhan. So, how did the locals perceive Mamata, who was given a rousing welcome?
“Though the general sentiment of the people here is that they want Gorkhaland, Mamata did a balancing act by making a call for both development and brotherhood between the hills and plains. People in the hills, however, are sceptic on whether the projects would be implemented at all,” Pradhan added.
The GJM, which had welcomed Mamata, meanwhile, refused to comment on the ramifications of her visit. “I cannot say anything on this issue,” said GJM spokesperson Roshan Giri.
Demand for greater Jharkhand
PTI, Jamshedpur: Jharkhand activists, who had participated in the Jharkhand Statehood movement, would soon launch an agitation over the demand for ‘Greater Jharkhand' comprising parts of West Bengal and Orissa, besides Jharkhand.
The ‘Greater Jharkhand' would comprise Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts of West Bengal and Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundergarh and Sambalpur districts of Orissa, besides Jharkhand, founder president of the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), Surya Singh Besra told a press conference here.
He said Jharkhand activists would meet at Ghatsila on October three and 31 at Ranchi on the future course of action.
Mr. Besra said none of the eight governments in Jharkhand had recognised the contribution of those who participated in the Jharkhand Statehood movement.
Pointing to the plight of activists, he said the family of one, Ramdas Mahali, against whom 36 cases were lodged during the statehood movement did not have money for his cremation.
Cases were still pending against about 10,000 Jharkhand activists across the State despite assurance from the State Government to withdraw them, he said.
Mr. Besra demanded that Jharkhand activists should be honoured and the Government should issue identity cards in recognition of their contribution to the separate statehood movement, besides pension and on the lines of those provided to activists of the J P movement by the Bihar Government.
Mr. Besra also expressed doubt over the Arjun Munda Government lasting its full term. 
TitBits: KalimNews: 22 teen aged boys were rescued from Alipurduar Junction by Police. They were taken from Uttar Dinajpur to Guwahati for stone breaking work by Ataur Rehman. SP david Lepcha said of the 22 two are 8 & 9 years old and a big gang is over this trafficking business, we are investigating over the matter.
Ramesh's Jumbo scan visit
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 28: Jairam Ramesh will visit north Bengal on October 2 to check out the initiatives taken for the conservation of elephants and will probably visit the spot where seven of them were mowed down by a speeding goods train last week.
“I will visit north Bengal on October 2 to check out the state of affairs in the region, the initiatives taken for conservation of elephants and to discuss the issue of the rail track that has led to the death of seven elephants last week,” the Union minister of state for environment and forest told The Telegraph over the phone from Delhi this morning.
On September 22, a goods train on the Dooars rail track that connects Siliguri Junction with Alipurduar ran down seven elephants including two calves. The incident — at a time when the forest ministry had decided to declare elephant a national heritage animal — had brought sharp criticism from wildlife NGOs, prompting both Ramesh and his cabinet colleague Mamata Banerjee to pass the buck on each other.
Two days later, officials of the forest department and the Northeast Frontier Railway’s Alipurduar division had met at Gorumara National Park and agreed to strengthen the inter-departmental information exchange system to prevent elephant deaths on rail tracks. Since gauge conversion in 2002, the deaths of 26 elephants have been reported.
The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, a tribal outfit, today blamed the poor infrastructure of the state forest department for the elephant deaths on tracks.
“Funds have been flowing in from the Centre to plant fodder for elephants within forests so that they do not enter the neighbouring villages. But this has not been implemented. On Wednesday, the accident occurred because the herd was moving into a tea estate, obviously in search of food,” said John Barla, the president of the Terai Dooars regional unit of the Parishad. “The state government, with the chief minister being the head of state board for wildlife, is not pondering over this issue and instead writing to the Union minister (Ramesh) to ask the railways to stop plying trains on the tracks at night. The railway is the lifeline for the residents of the Dooars and such a decision will cause severe inconveniences for thousands of people.”
Objecting to the chief minister’s proposal, Barla said halt in train services would only worsen the situation. “We oppose the decision and want the state and Centre to sit together and chalk out some other strategy.”
Citing the example of the elephant squad in Binnaguri that has about 10 people and a vehicle, the Parishad leader said with this strength the foresters could hardly stop an animal herd from crossing the rail tracks or entering the villages. “We want the manpower to be increased and adequate fodder to be planted in the forests.” 
Drug office inaugurated but no staff 
TT, Raiganj, Sept. 28: The North Dinajpur drug control office was inaugurated by the chief secretary of the state Ardhendu Sen here today. But no one is certain that when it will start functioning because not a single employee has been recruited for the unit.
According to the deputy director of the department of drug control Biplab Dey, posts for seven employees, including a drug controller and two inspectors were sanctioned earlier this month. “We have approached the state public service commission to fill up the vacancies. But no one has arrived yet,” he said.
He added that a typist-cum-clerk from the South Dinajpur office has joined duty from today and the drug controller of that district has been asked to look after the office.
District secretary of Bengal Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association, Prasanta Kundu, said: “We have to travel to Balurghat 110km away even to renew our licences. Now that there is an office here, I shall get my work done at this office. But if nothing gets done here then we shall close the office down.”
The Congress chairperson of the Raiganj municipality Mohit Sengupta said the office had been opened with an eye on the next Assembly elections. The typist on deputation, Amal Mukherjee, said: “How do you expect me to work when there is not even a single file?”
Countdown to verdict tomorrow SC clears decks for Ayodhya ruling, New Delhi, Sept. 28: The Ayodhya judgment will be announced on Thursday afternoon, with the Supreme Court today ending a week of see-sawing tension with a one-line order.
The apex court dismissed a petition seeking to defer the title suit verdict after the Centre, taking many by surprise, said it wanted an end to the “uncertainty”.
Tension and uncertainty, however, loomed on another front, prompting the Prime Minister to appeal to all Indians to maintain peace and harmony whichever way the September 30 verdict went.
Very unusually, the three-judge bench gave no reason for its ruling.
“After hearing the arguments advanced, we are of the view that the special leave petition (for deferment) deserves to be dismissed,” the bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia said, giving its unanimous verdict at 2pm.
Within hours, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court announced it would deliver its judgment on the title suit at 3.30pm the day after tomorrow.
Although most of the parties to the title suit were against any further delay in the verdict, it was the Centre’s stand that appeared to have swung the case.
Judiciary watchers had yesterday suggested that if the government expressed even the slightest fear that the verdict might lead to unrest and advised further postponement, the court would be likely to go along with it.
Giving the Centre’s views, attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati today said: “The preferred resolution to any dispute is a settlement, but the uncertainty which is there cannot continue. There cannot be a state of suspended animation for ever. The matter has to be decided one way or the other.”
Defeated petitioner Ramesh Chandra Tripathi’s counsel, Mukul Rohatgi, said the Centre’s stand did not make any sense. “They are saying, ‘We want an amicable resolution but will not do anything (about it)’. It is neither rational nor logical. The Centre took no stand,” he said.
Congress leaders had earlier said in private that they hoped the high court verdict would be delayed for a long time, which had raised the possibility that the government might advocate a postponement in the apex court.
Some sources today said that after the key parties to the case made it clear yesterday they wanted the verdict now, the Congress and the Centre “sensed” that Tripathi’s plea was going to be rejected and decided to make the best of the situation.
Besides, they suggested, the Congress wanted to dispel any misgivings among some Muslim organisations that it was trying to delay the verdict, and also ward off Sangh parivar allegations that it was behind Tripathi’s petition.
Although the Congress has welcomed the apex court judgment, many in the party and government were worried about the possible fallout.
Talking to reporters, Manmohan Singh referred to the appeal the cabinet had issued over a week ago, which had asked people not to “provoke” others or express any emotion that could hurt others’ feelings. The cabinet had stressed that further legal remedies were available.
The Union home ministry has identified 32 sensitive locations — four of them in Uttar Pradesh — with a potential for “evoking sharp reactions” after the verdict.
The Centre has kept forces ready at 16 strategic locations close to airports so that they can be swiftly flown anywhere at a moment’s notice. It has asked all the states, particularly Uttar Pradesh, to remain alert.
Not all the 24 parties to the title suit were present in the court today, but those who were opposed to any further deferment, except for Tripathi himself and the Nirmohi Akhara.
The Sunni Central Wakf Board, the Hindu Mahasabha and six others urged the court to let the issue be decided once and for all. The Mahasabha said any talk of the consequences of a judgment was dangerous, and that one needed to “trust the innate maturity of the Indian people”.
Tripathi’s counsel Rohatgi and Sunil Kumar Jain expressed unhappiness at the court’s failure to cite reasons for its order.
“What the reasons are have not been indicated in the order, nor will they be known in the future,” Rohatgi said.
Lachungpa donation
Prakha, GANGTOK, SEPTEMBER 28: The Managing Director of Yama builders Thuck Chuk Lachungpa today donated an ambulance van to Mayalmu Lee, a home for destitute.
In a simple function Mr. Lachungpa handed over the keys of the new ambulance van to the representatives of the destitute home.
Talking with the media persons Mr. Lachungpa who also happens to be the convener of the Sangh said that after getting impressed with the works of the present executive committee he have contributed the ambulance van.
‘This would help to carry patients to the hospitals especially during an odd hours’ Mr. Lachungpa added.
He also called the people of all sections of the society to at least make a partial contribution to the destitute home.
He too informed of shifting the home to more spacy locations in the days to come.
‘We have approached the government for the suitable land the same is under processes’ he added.
The members of TAAS and Retired Employees Association also attended the function.
Mr. KP Topden and Mr. Tika Chandra Chettri, the of retd employees association committed to donate 50kg rice to Mayalmu Sangh every month .  
Sikkimese in Uzbekistan Prakha, GANGTOK, SEPTEMBER 28: The Two Tae Kwondo Players from Sikkim will be representating India  in the 5th World Tae-Kwon-do Poomsae Championship 2010 to be held at Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan. The sport event is scheduled from 8th to 10th October.
The Players Trilok Subba and Ugyen Gurung of Sikkim Amatuer Tae Kwondo Assocation will be accompaying other twelve players of India for the sport event.
Mr Subba who represented India in  the 4th world tae kwon do poomsae championship  held at Cairo, Egypt 2009 is a black belt 6th dan. While Ugyen Gurung , the student of Holy Cross is a black belt 1st dan.
The two Sikkimese players  were selected after bagging gold medals in the 5th nationals tae kwon do poomsae championship 2010 held at Surat earlier this year.
' We have been pratcising at MCM Dozang every day for six hours in four shifts' said Trilok Subba while talking with the reporters today and he hoped that the performance will be at par with the other world best players.
The players will leave Sikkim on 4th October and  on 5th of October from New Delhi.
Cong war heats up with age barb- Upreti tells SPCC chief to quit
TT, Gangtok, Sept. 28: Internecine feud in the Sikkim Congress took an amusing turn today with the caretaker president of the party in the state, Nar Bahadur Bhandari, being asked to “retire honourably” by K.N. Upreti, the number two in the organisation.
“We advise Bhandari, who is getting older, to refrain from playing dirty politics, wooing innocent and simple Congress members with his money power and indulging in fraudulent practices, degrading his own honour and dignity,” said an angry Upreti, who is also the vice-president of the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee.
Upreti said Bhandari — now 71 — should step down and preserve his dignity and stature as a “fairly good leader and administrator”.
Bhandari claims that he is the rightful president of the SPCC as he was the only person to have filed his nomination for the post during the election process that ended on September 13. Following that, Upreti had successfully lobbied the AICC to stall the election process and instead nominate somebody else for the post of president.
Upreti and his camp told the high command that the SPCC president be nominated by the central leadership as elections would divide the party vertically.
Bhandari responded to the postponement of the elections as irrelevant and affirmed that he stood elected as the SPCC president unopposed.
“Bhandari’s stand is baseless as the AICC has declared his self-professed unopposed election as null and void, and this decision has been faxed to us by the returning officer appointed by the AICC, Zuber Khan,” said Upreti.
Political observers feel that the exchange of allegations and counter-allegations between Bhandari and Upreti is harming the reputation of the Congress in Sikkim. “The delay of the Congress high command in settling the issue is also affecting the confidence of the party workers,” said an observer.
“By filing his nomination for the SPCC president’s post, Bhandari wants to indicate that he wants to remain in active politics, at least till the next Assembly polls. Even if Bhandari is disowned by the Congress as its state president, he could float a party because he still believes that he has a considerable vote bank in the state,” said another observer.
The observers also pointed out that 60-year-old Upreti, too, should not be underestimated as he had been in active politics for 35 years and had been MLA for 20 years. When Bhandari was the chief minister, Upreti was known as the second man in the state cabinet. “Upreti now feels that Bhandari is to blame for the Congress’s status in Sikkim and he should take over. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Upreti had polled around 75,000 votes,” said an observer.  
CM missive to center on NH mess
TNN, KOLKATA: With Mamata Banerjee trying hard to gain political ground in north Bengal, it seems to have finally dawned upon the state government that something needs to be done to improve road connectivity between Siliguri and Alipurduar. On Monday, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee wrote to Kamal Nath, Union minister of road transport and highways, complaining against the dismal condition of National Highway-31D. "I would like to draw your attention to the terrible state of the National Highway-31D starting from NH-31 near Siliguri and joining NH-31C through Fulbari, Jalpaiguri, Maynaguri, Kaljani and Alipurduar. You are perhaps aware that National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was given the responsibility of four-laning the roads. Obviously, it was incumbent upon NHAI to maintain the existing roads while taking steps for widening. Unfortunately, NHAI has failed miserably," the CM wrote. According to NHAI authorities in Kolkata, acquisition of land has been the main problem. "The stretch runs through the Dooars. We have approached the state government but there has been no positive response. We have not even succeeded in acquiring land that does not belong to the forest department. Under the circumstances, how can the state expect us to widen the road," a senior NHAI official said. New rules do not reportedly allow grant of money for mere upkeep of narrow highways. "Funds won't be granted for upkeep till toll can be collected. Toll can't be collected till the highway is widened. The highway can't be widened till we get land. It's no use blaming the NHAI alone," the official added. However, Bhattacharjee stated in his letter, "...for reasons beyond our comprehension, NHAI has failed to maintain these roads properly, terribly affecting the economy and lives of entire north Bengal. The situation is so bad that public frustration may lead to serious law and order problem any time."
Bad road blow to puja sales in Siliguri 
TT, Sept. 28: Bad roads have dealt a major blow to the nearly Rs 2 crore daily pre-puja business in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri, which shoppers from the Dooars town and lower Assam have been avoiding since monsoon.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today wrote to Union minister for road transport and highways, Kamal Nath, asking him to look into the state of the highway network in north Bengal. He drew his attention to the situation that is “so bad that public frustration may lead to serious law and order problem any time”.
Bhattacharjee laid special stress on the “terrible” state of NH31, NH31D and NH31C. “You are perhaps aware that the National Highways Authority of India was given the conversion of these roads into four-lane roads some years back. Unfortunately the NHAI has failed miserably to maintain the roads,” the chief minister said in his letter.
“The matter was taken up with the NHAI repeatedly, but for reasons beyond our comprehension NHAI had failed to maintain these roads affecting the economy and lives of the people of north Bengal.”
Last week, four tourists were injured at Birpara when a car rammed into the rear of a truck to avoid a large pothole, one of the many that dot the highways of the region against which the private owners have been agitating.
Earlier this month, the bad condition of roads in north Bengal took its toll on a Guwahati-bound bus which fell into a ditch, killing one person and injuring 11 others on NH31C near Jaigaon.
“The business here mostly depends on residents of different parts of the Dooars. But because of the precarious condition of the national highways across the region, people there are avoiding big towns like Siliguri,” said Badal Guha, the president of Bidhan Market Byabsayi Samiti in Siliguri.
The traders were expecting more business this year because of the 20 per cent puja bonus announced by tea gardens for the workers. But that does not seem to be happening.
According to Guha, the average transaction in the market is about Rs 1 crore a day, which doubles during festivities, a good share of it depending on consumers from the Dooars. “Considering the worst condition of roads in the region, 40 per cent buyers did not visit our shops this time,” said Guha.
Ashok Mukherjee, a resident of Odlabari in Jalpaiguri district, said it took more than two hours now to reach Siliguri. “That is because of the worst condition of NH31. The normal time is less than one hour via Sevoke.”
Chinmoy Bhattacharya, a resident of Nagrakta in Dooars, said: “Earlier, we could reach Siliguri, do our shopping and come back in the evening, the total journey time taking two hours. The very idea of visiting Siliguri now scares me,” he said.
Khokan Bhattacharya, the secretary of Seth Srilal Market Byabsayi Samiti, echoed Guha. “As the roads in different areas of north Bengal are damaged, people are forced to shop from local markets so that they don’t have to travel,” he said.
Forest notices on ‘illegal’ home stay
TT, Alipurduar, Sept. 28: The Buxa Tiger Reserve authorities have issued notices to forest dwellers providing accommodation to tourists without permission, nearly a fortnight after stopping the car safari inside the core areas of the forest.
The Jainti forest in the core areas of the BTR has always been a major attraction for tourists from different parts of Bengal. The forest department has a rest house and a dormitory there. Besides this, six to seven villagers rent out portions of their houses for tourists — a practice that has become popular with the inflow of visitors.
R.P. Saini, the field director of the BTR, said: “I have issued notices to the owners of those houses who are keeping tourists illegally. If they are unable to give a satisfactory reply, we will stop the practice.”
Despite the government accommodations in the BTR, very few people get the opportunity to stay in the forest establishments, forcing a good number of tourists to spend nights at private lodgings. There are guides in Jainti who take the visitors inside the forest in vehicles but the facility stopped from September 16.
There are a few resorts near Santlabari which also have been served the notice by the BTR authorities.
Saini, however, said the department did not have any intention to create inconveniences for tourists or guides or anybody involved in tourism business. “We are just following the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority which says tourist movement is to be restricted as much as possible in the tiger reserve. On the basis of the guideline, I have stopped movement of vehicles in the core areas.” The forester said recently, he had caught a private vehicle in the core area late at night. Hundreds of picnickers usually frequented the Jainti forest in winter, which is the picnic season. Even that has been stopped.
BTR officials, however, have found a few new places where tourists can access through vehicles. “We have identified a few spots like Poro, Dima 22nd Mile tower where tourists can go with vehicles. Soon, we will explain it to the guides,” Saini said.
Branded thief and lynched
TT, Jalpaiguri, Sept. 28: A 30-year-old man, who had gone to a friend’s house along with four others, was lynched by a group of people suspecting him to be a thief at Basusuba near Mainaguri last night.
Jhulan Chakraborty, a resident of Sahidgarh, also near Mainaguri, was beaten up by the villagers, who were patrolling Basusuba to prevent robberies. Although the patrolling team had suspected that Jhulan and his four friends were robbers, they could catch only him. Jhulan, who was into decoration business, died on the spot. Mainaguri police have started a probe. Many youths fled Basusuba after the murder.
Jail van crash
TT, Siliguri: Six under-trials and three policemen were injured when the van they were travelling in rammed into a roadside tree while avoiding collision with a taxi coming from the opposite direction near Gorumara National Park on Tuesday. The prison van was going from Banarhat to Jalpaiguri when the accident occurred. The injured were taken to a local health centre in Mangalbari and later shifted to Jalpaiguri District Hospital. All of them are in stable condition, hospital sources said.
TT, Islampur: Students of Islampur High School blocked NH31 for three hours on Tuesday to demand more Hindi and Urdu teachers and to protest alleged irregularities at the institution.
Gaur body
TT, Jaigaon: The carcass of an adult gaur (Indian bison) was recovered from Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary in Jalpaiguri on Tuesday. Forest guards of Chulsa range said the animal might have died because of old age ailment.