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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।

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