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Monday, September 20, 2010

NH 31 STALLED FOR 5.30 HOURS on elephant menace... Mukhia ABGL VP.. TMC GJMM secrecy .. Bus Strike off ..

KalimNews, Mongpong, 20 September 2010: Enraged villagers of Mongpong area and students of Washabari Nepali Jr High school took to the National Highway 31  near Mongpong Military Hospital and seized it for 5.30 hrs. They halted the movement of all vehicles in NH 31 and demanded enquiry on the death of the two students killed by an elephant yester night. Till 1.30 pm no response from the Wild Life Department was made.(Pic- above:Deceased Ranmaya Mangar: below : Lal bahadur and his sons and daughters with the dead body)
Later Kalimpong ASP Jacqueline Dorji along with IC Puran Subba and other police Officers from Kalimpong Thana visited the spot and met the demonstrating public of Mongpong and nearby forest villages. After a discussion, on condition that the Wild Life squad of Mal will visit the spot and make an enquiry on the death of the two Mangar girls the obstruction of Highway was lifted. It was  also resolved that if the Range warden  do not visit by late evening of today then the strike in NH 31 will be resumed on 21 September again at the same spot near Mongpong.  
Lal Bahadur Mangar is a resident of Bhanga also called Shanti Busty of Mongpong Forest Village beside the Army hospital camp and father of the two deceased girls. It is recalled that Dilmaya Mangar 16 and  Ran Maya alias Aradhana Mangar 14 were returning home at about 5.30 pm of 19 September from 32 Naya Busty after attending tuition classes. Dhanmaya was a Class VIII student of Washabarie Junior High School and Ranmaya a Class VI student of Washabarie English School. 
They were returning home with two other students Kavita Rai and Januka Tiwari. Suddenly an elephant emerged from the forest and attacked. The two students managed to flee while the two Mangar sisters couldnot escape and trampled to death. Out of 4 sons and 3 daughters Lal bahadur now in his sixties lost  his two daughters  and   heartbroken to loose his 2 daughters.
He is a forest village labour of the Mongopong Forest area. Villagers informed the nearby Mongpost Check Post poice station of Reang Thana and Mongpong Beat of the Chel Range of WBFDC. Range Manager Tapan kumar Chatterjee and Deputy Range Manager PP Sharma confirmed that they received the information just after the incident and they too passed the information to the DM of Kalimpong WBFDC and also to the Aloke Bose Range Warden of Mal Wild Life Elephant Squad.
Team of Forest officials along with the Police visited the spot and the family of the deceased. But nobody from the Mal Wild Life department attended them, nor they send any message to the bereaved family alleged Ganesh Subba a local forest village leader. He further said, that Goma Devi Kharga 50 of the same village was killed while she was inside her house in the year 2007 and such incidents of elephant menace are not very rare. 
Enraged villagers and students of Washabari Nepali Jr High school took to the National Highway 31 near Mongpong Military Hospital. Till the lifting of the obstruction at about 1.30 pm the response from the Wild Life Elephant squad was that as Range Warden is not present in the station right now nothing can be done. Later the bodies of the Mangar girls were taken by the police and sent for post mortem to Kalimpong. 
Late in the evening It was reported that Aloke Bose the Mal Wild life elephant squad Range Warden came and visited the spot and the family members of the dead girls. He said that after getting the autopsy report departmental procedures will be taken. 
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 20: Vehicles were stranded for over six hours on NH31 today as residents of Bhangabusty blocked the highway from 7am. The agitators were protesting the alleged apathy of foresters who did not turn up to discuss the compensation after two girls were trampled to death by an elephant last evening.
The strike was withdrawn at 1.15pm with the arrival of the additional superintendent of police, Kalimpong, Jacqueline Dorjee.
She assured the protesters that the post-mortem of the bodies would be conducted and forest the department would bear the cremation expenses.
“Two teenaged sisters were trampled to death by a wild elephant last evening. After the mishap almost 17 hours have passed but the foresters are yet to reach the spot or compensate the deceased’s family or conduct a post-mortem,” said Ganesh Subba a resident of Bhangabusty. He is also the vice-president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Mungpong branch committee.
Students and teachers of the nearby Washabari Tea Garden Junior High School and Children Home English School also joined the blockade that was set up near Mungpong, 35km from here.
Vehicles queued up on both sides of the stretch that connects Siliguri and the Dooars.
“The bodies have been sent to Kalimpong for post-mortem,” said Dorjee.
Later in the evening Alok Bose a range officer from the Mal wildlife squad met the villagers. “Compensation will be decided after receiving the post-mortem report,” he said.
Mukhia VP of ABGL
KalimNews: Rajen Mukhia a former GNLF leader of Panighatta, who joined ABGL last Friday is nominated as Vice President of the ABGL. He is also given the charge of irik area of Kurseong.  Tika Khati and KN Subba are nominated as Central Committee members.
TMC GJMM secrecy 
KalimNews:TMC and GJMM are keeping their present relation a secret. In view of the Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's two days visit to Darjeeling TMC had no option than to meet GJMM leaders. But TMC doesnot want to make a bad impression upon the plains people and lose its followers by making the recent contact misunderstood as a support for GJMM on its agitation for separation from Bengal. 
On the other hand GJMM has intended the TMC leader to convince the opposition leaders of other parties of hills to support the formation of an Interim setup body and play no other politics.  And both have decided to make their recent meetings a secret understanding for the present.

It is reported that beside addressing a public meeting at Chowrasta TMC  Chief Mamata will meet all the parties during her two days' visit. She will try to convince other parties opposing the proposal of formation of an Interim authority. 
Strike off but most buses not back- After owners, turn of casual workers
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 20: Private bus owners have withdrawn their strike but most of the vehicles were not on road in Jalpaiguri district this morning because of a protest by daily workers who said they had missed out on their wages because of the agitation.
Most of these workers are drivers, conductors and cleaners in the private buses and were not paid during the 21 days when the vehicles were off the roads in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Darjeeling districts.
All the three districts continued to be affected even today with Jalpaiguri bearing the maximum brunt as 400 bus workers refused to join duty, demanding their wages from August 31 till yesterday when the strike was withdrawn.
In all, only 20-25 per cent of the 1,500-odd private buses plied in the three districts. Another reason for less bus on the streets is an announcement by the North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee yesterday that those unwilling would not be forced to bring out their vehicles.
Since morning, casual workers of the buses that ply to different destinations in the Dooars and Cooch Behar demonstrated at the private bus terminus in Jalpaiguri. Local buses between Siliguri and Jalpaiguri, too, stopped plying with only “super” (limited stop) ones available.
“When bus owners started the strike on August 31, they did not consult us. As more than 90 per cent of workers serve on a daily basis, they faced hardship during these days,” said Ajoy Dasgupta, convener of Private Transport Movement Committee, a forum of bus workers. “We have resorted to a strike and want bus owners to pay the wages of these 21 days to all the day labourers or else, we will continue with the strike.”
Dasgupta said a driver of a private bus usually gets Rs 100 a day, a conductor Rs 70 and a cleaner Rs 60. All of them also get Rs 25-30 per day as food allowance.
In Jalpaiguri alone, there are more than 350 such workers who had to sustain themselves during the strike doing odd jobs.
“The silence of the owners on payment has created resentment among workers who are desperate to carry on with the movement. From tomorrow, we have decided to continue the strike and even stop buses from other districts from entering Jalpaiguri,” Dasgupta said.
Most of the nearly 1 lakh commuters were unaware of today’s strike by bus workers. “Only 20-25 per cent of buses were on the road. We were relieved to hear that the bus strike has been withdrawn and that service would return to normal from this morning. But today, when I reached the bus stop, I heard that three buses scheduled within two hours in the morning had not run. I could board only the fourth bus,” said Samir Das, a daily commuter to Dhupguri from Siliguri.
“This caused delay and I reached office late. Same is the condition on the other routes and we have no clue when ultimately all the buses will come back on the road.”
The bus owners said they, too, had incurred losses during the strike called to protest the dilapidated condition of the national and state highways and it was not possible to pay wages for the entire period of 21 days to the daily workers.
“We have incurred heavy losses and even then, decided to pay a lump sum as bonus before Durga Puja to these employees like every other year. However, it is not possible to pay the entire wages. But we are ready for discussion as their interests needs to be looked into,” said Pranab Mani, the secretary of the bus owners’ association.
“Regarding the less number of buses on roads, we would like to say that each vehicle is an individual’s property and we cannot force the owners to bring them out. It is their prerogative but we are hopeful that as road conditions improve in the days to come, more buses will be out,” said Mani.
NBU to scan sex cell status
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 20: The Centre for Women’s Studies at North Bengal University will organise workshops for affiliated colleges to review their preparedness to deal with sexual harassment on campus. It will also help the institutions set up cells to tackle harassments if such facilities do not exist.
“According to University Grants Commission guidelines, all colleges should have an anti-sexual harassment cell for girl students and women teachers so that they can register their complaints if they face sexual harassment from male members of the institutions. However, it has been observed that most of the colleges do not have such facilities or even if they have one, it is not functioning actively,” said Bithikamoni Dutta, the project officer of the centre.
Workshops will be held at the university to assess the status of such cells in the colleges and encourage representatives to form one where these facilities are not there, Dutta said.
According to NBU sources, the workshops are likely to be held in December in phases for all 62 affiliated colleges.
“In the first phase, the representatives of colleges in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts will be invited. The colleges in Cooch Behar district will be covered in the next phase. The participants will be guided on the importance and the need to have anti-sexual harassment cells at the colleges,” an official at the centre said.
As a follow-up to the workshop, representatives of the centre will hold awareness campaigns in the colleges with the students and the authorities.
The cell can take steps only if it receives specific complaints from the students. But in many cases students are shy to speak out even if they have been subjected to sexual harassment. So the visit to the colleges and interaction with the students and the institution authorities aim at encouraging the students to file complaints, the official added. 
‘Lost’ Sikkim arrives, prints ready for Singapore show
TT, Gangtok, Sept. 20: Satyajit Ray’s “lost” documentary Sikkim reached the Himalayan state on September 11 and is now being readied for a preview screening at the Singapore Museum on October 16.
The 35mm documentary was commissioned by the Chogyals, the last rulers of Sikkim, in 1971 and its prints and rights were given to the Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim in 2000.
The trust received it from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after restoration almost a week ago.
“The film had been commissioned by the last Chogyal of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, four years before the kingdom became the 22nd state of India in 1975. As the documentary was made during a period of transition in Sikkim, the film never got formally released and the prints became bad. Everyone assumed that the documentary had been banned because it had to do with the monarchy,” said Ugyen Chopel, a filmmaker and a managing trustee of the trust.
Chopel said he had seen the film and it records Sikkim’s history and showcases the state’s natural beauty. “There are five reels and the film is 55-minute long and is in colour. The best part is that the entire commentary in English was rendered by the maestro himself in his unforgettable baritone voice. The background music has also been also composed by Ray,” he said.
After the Singapore screening, a world premiere of the film is being planned for next year. “The film has generated a lot of interest internationally and we are planning to hold a world premiere here sometime in February-March next year. We will approach the state government to make the premiere a grand international event,” said Chopel.
“This is the only film made by the great master that has not been screened publicly and came to be known as ‘Ray’s lost film’. A retrospective of Ray’s films was held when he passed away after being conferred the lifetime achievement Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But Sikkim did not feature in the show,” he said.
Chopel said a print of the film had been found with the British Film Institute in London and through Dilip Basu, the founder-member of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Centre at the University of California, the Academy was approached for restoration.
“We approached the Central Board of Film Certification and obtained a ‘U’ registration on March 6, 2002, as such an approval was necessary for the restoration. It took eight long years for the Academy to restore the print to the original as the work was tedious and painstaking. The Academy had borne the cost of around $100,000 to restore the film,” said Chopel.
“The job was painstaking as the negatives were missing and a fresh negative had to be prepared frame by frame from the prints which were available with the trust and from the copy that was lying with a private collector in London,” said Chopel.
A package containing the restored prints reached the trust on September 11 from the Academy.
Toy train loco adds to heritage pride- NFR museum showcases hill railway’s past
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 20: The Narrow gauge steam loco 781 that had pulled a toy train in the late 1890s and hauled coal from the collieries at Tipong for more than 20 years is now proudly on display in Tinsukia.
The Railway Heritage Park cum Museum in Assam, inaugurated on July 24, is the first-of-its kind of the North-East Frontier Railway to house railway antiquities.
“The NFR has the proud tradition of preserving and showcasing its rich heritage. We have the distinction of possessing and operating the DHR which is a live Unesco World Heritage site and the oldest hill railway in the country. The museum was opened to project the heritage of Indian Railways in general and that of the NFR in particular. Among its exhibits is the narrow gauge steam loco 781 that hauled coal from the collieries of Tipong,” said Situ Sing Hajong, the chief public relations officer of the NFR.
Built in 1899 by Sharp Stewart, Glasgow, Class B 781 is among the oldest and most valued collectibles at the museum.
According to DHR lovers, it is among the 35 Class B steam locos built between 1889 and 1925 for the DHR. In 1968, however, engine 781 was withdrawn from the hill railway to carry coal from the Tipong collieries — located in eastern Assam — along with three other steam locos. They were the 784 built by Sharp Stewart in 1902, 789 built by North British Loco Co, Glasgow, in 1913, and 796, christened Kurseong, built at the DHR’s Tindharia workshop in 1923 with parts shipped from Britain.
“In 1968, the four B class locos were transferred from the Darjeeling line. They first went to Calorex Ltd in Calcutta for modifications to be made to enable them to work at Tipong Colliery, where they arrived in 1970,” Peter Jordan, the operation director of Darjeeling Tours Ltd — the associated tour agency of the UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society — wrote in an e-mail to The Telegraph.
He said the locos had hauled coal from the top of the mine shaft for two miles down a lush green valley to a trans-shipment area, which was the closest main line meter gauge.
Although engines 789 and 796 are still in working condition, 784 and 781 were worn out. The loco 781 was refurbished with some parts of the engine 784 before being put on display at the museum.
Two chair car coaches, one first class and the other second class of the DHR have also been placed in a gallery dedicated to the hill railway.
The Tinsukia Junction was chosen for the museum given that it is the convergence point of the historic Dribu Sadiya Railway (DSR) and the Assam Bengal Railway. An indoor exhibition gallery modelled on Lekhapani station of the DSR and a conference cum video hall on wheels for presentations and videos of NFR history are unique attractions at the park.
The museum has Virasat, a heritage hall which houses vintage steam and diesel locos of the meter gauge era, an original steam loco turntable of 1892 built in the UK and bridge pillars built between 1894 and 1898.
“There is also a children’s park with a joyride on the toy train and mini model of a station,” Hajong said.
Woman killed after delivering a girl
Islampur, Sept 20: A 19-year-old housewife was allegedly beaten to death at Fukrabari near here after she delivered a girl on Sunday.
Rinki Malakar’s father Sachindra Malakar alleged that she had been murdered by her husband and parents-in-law. She was married to Partha Malakar about a year ago. Partha regularly tortured her, demanding a motorcycle from her parents. After Rinki gave birth to a girl, she was killed by Partha, alleged her father.
Three killed 
SNS, Jaigaon: Three persons were killed and 10 others were injured when a mini bus and a truck collided at Beach Tea Estate near here on Monday evening. Jaigaon police said the injured had been admitted to Hasimara Industries Central Hospital.
Party Clash
SNS, Islampur: Fifteen people were injured in a series of clashes between the supporters of the Congress and the CPM in different areas of Islampur subdivision on Monday. The clashes took place at Nilajihat, Bhujgaon and Bhardakalihat. North Dinajpur superintendent of police Milon Kanti Das said 12 people had been detained and additional forces deployed in the violence-hit areas.
College shut
SNS, Islampur: The SFI has called an indefinite strike at Islampur College to protest against “unexpected bad results” in Part I exams of BA, BSc and BCom. Secretary of the college staff council Anita Chowdhury alleged that the students had been heckling teachers since the results were published on Saturday and they were feeling insecure. The SFI, has however, denied the charge.
CPM Leader shot dead
SNS, MIDNAPORE, 20 SEPT: Ananta Mukherjee (36), CPI-M’s Silda zonal committee secretary in-charge and clerk of Silda RC Institution, a higher secondary school in the Belpahari area, was gunned down by suspected Maoists in the school office today. (Photo of Ananta Mukherjee: TT)
His security guard was shot at. He was rushed to Jhargram Sub-divisional Hospital in a critical condition. His AK-47 rifle was also looted.
It is learnt that a six-member gang, aged between 15 to 16 years and wearing white shirts and blue shorts (uniform of the school to remove suspicion among the school staff and students), entered the school around 1 p.m. They split into two groups and one of them asked Mukherjee to come out and as soon as he emerged from the room the other group whisked away his security guard to a little distance, snatched his rifle and shot him in the abdomen.
Then the first group pumped in three bullets killing the CPI-M leader and fled away in their two-wheeler towards Bankura from where they came. The school was closed immediately after the murder of the clerk.
Locals said that Mukherjee might have earned the Maoists’ wrath as he had been spearheading the anti-Maoist operation in the Belpahari-Silda-Binpur areas by forming village resistance groups.
CPI-M activists demonstrated before the joint forces. They alleged even after the attack on the EFR camp at Silda, situated close to the school, the Maoists got away after killing the CPI-M leader.
In another incident, CPI-M’s gramin local committee office at Dakshinsole in Jhargram was blown up by two powerful mines early today. However, there was no casualty. Meanwhile, the 12-hour bandh called by the CPI-M paralysed life in Jhargram town today.

Cell phones or toilet? According to a recent report of the United Nations, people in India, the world’s second most populous country, have more access to a mobile telephone than to a toilet. The UN report terms this as a “tragic irony” of sorts and that though India is wealthy enough to show almost half of its population having phones, yet about half cannot even afford the “basic necessity and dignity of a toilet”. According to the Millennium Development Goals the target is for a 50% improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015. Recent UN research in India shows roughly 366 million people (31% of the population) had access to improved sanitation in 2008. Meanwhile, study show that 545 million cell phones are now connected to service in India's emerging economy. The number of cell phones per 100 people has exploded from 0.35 in year 2000-01 to about 45 today. The technology bug is obviously catching on fast and even the government seems to be caught up in this wave. A few days back news came out that the Central government will dole out computers on rent to spread IT literacy in the country. According to reports, the pilot program would cost the government about 45 lakh.
The concern that should be addressed is not so much about the technology boom in rural India but the failure to provide access to sanitation and clean drinking water. While telephone connectivity or for that matter computer literacy is important as it improves human communication and skills, nevertheless we should remember that without the basic necessities, people are more at risk to even lose their lives. For instance in India the casualty because of unhealthy living condition, unclean water is daily on the rise especially among children. Improving technology must go hand in hand with improving the living conditions of people. Obviously basic needs such as sanitation, water etc are not getting the priority that it deserves. In this regard one should welcome the recent landmark resolution wherein the United Nations General Assembly has recognised access to clean water and sanitation as a human right.
The U.N. resolution although it is non-binding is a vital step towards recognizing the need for access to safe water as essential to human survival and dignity. It is a time to do some reality check on the problems facing a majority of people especially in poor countries where access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation remains unfulfilled mainly because of poor governance, corruption and lack of political accountability. It is well known that despite more than five decades of Nagaland Statehood many of us even in urban centres do not have proper access to clean drinking water. One can just imagine the condition of countless more in less privileged places across the State. Several crores of public money has poured in for the last few decades. A small State like Nagaland should have been able to take care of our sanitation problem by now. However this is not the case and instead in Nagaland we see high consumption of the latest cars, mobile phones, hi-fi tech toys etc. Not only mobile phones as the UN report states, but in the case of Nagaland we may even boast of having more vehicles than toilets. Let’s hope this is not the case. Government priority must remain on delivering the basic essential needs such as water and sanitation.

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