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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GJMM leaders suspended ... 72 Suicides in Gangtok ... 2 killed in car crash ... Gold cup in Sikkim ... Indo -Nepal Inter state border sealed off ... Graham Staines killing: bail plea hearing adjourned

Strike looms on potholed highways- Threat to withdraw buses after Diwali
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 20: Private bus owners have decided to go on strike once more after the state ministers failed to keep their promises and hurried initiatives of several agencies to repair the roads of the region fell flat on their faces.
The final decision on the strike will be taken after Diwali, the North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee said even as junior public works minister announced that he would meet the Union surface transport minister later this month.
For the past eight months, the state of roads in north Bengal, particularly in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Darjeeling districts have been at their worst. Hill Cart Road or NH55 that connects Darjeeling with Siliguri is still closed. A cave-in near Paglajhora has stopped traffic on the hill road since June 17.
The highway, NH31D, that connects Siliguri with Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar is in a more deplorable condition although the road does not pass through any rugged terrain as NH55 which is in a sink zone.
Only a slight improvement has been noticed in some parts of NH31: the Bagdogra-Salugara and the Telipara-Birpara-Hasimara-Alipurduar stretches.
“Even after repeated promises by state ministers Asim Dasgupta and Kshiti Goswami that roads would be repaired on a war footing, nothing has changed,” said Pranab Mani, secretary of the transport owners’ coordination committee. “There had been some temporary repairs like the filling up of huge ditches but within a week, the pebbles and sand put into the craters have come out. Officials and ministers are only floating tenders, speaking of allocated funds of which we see no sign, and fixing timelines, without actually making any sincere efforts to restore the roads.”
Repair in progress on NH31 near Matigara on the outskirts of Siliguri on Wednesday. (Kundan Yolmo)
In September, the members of the transport committee had withdrawn nearly 1,500 buses from roads during a 20-day-long strike to protest the crater-filled unsafe highways that they claimed increased the maintenance cost of the vehicles. Nearly 1 lakh people were affected daily during the strike.
“We had withdrawn the strike then because of the inconvenience of people, particularly during the festive season. But given the present state of affairs, we are thinking of resorting to a strike again after Diwali. There is no point in taking risks and plying vehicles on these roads. Once the Diwali is over, we will sit and discuss our plan,” Mani added.
He claimed that even after withdrawing the strike, hardly 250-300 of the 1,500-odd private buses are now plying in the three districts. “We cannot force the owners who are not willing to run their vehicles because of the bad road condition,” he said.
With the transport strike looming high, the state government has decided to send minister of state for PWD Dasrath Tirkey to Delhi at the end of this month.
“I will go to Delhi on October 27 and meet Union surface transport minister Kamal Nath and the NHAI chairperson, seeking their intervention and immediate steps to restore the road that connects the country with the Northeast. All trucks and heavy vehicles take NH31D, whose condition is deplorable,” Tirkey said over the phone from Calcutta. “On our part, repair and restoration of NH31 and the state highways, which are under our ambit, have started. Condition of NH31D, however, continues to create inconveniences for lakhs of residents which is why we have decided to meet the Union minister and senior officials instead of talking to NHAI officials posted in north Bengal.”
Sakshi Basu, a daily commuter from Jalpaiguri who works at a private company here, said hardly any change had been noticed in the road condition.
“For the past six months, I have been travelling by local train. Whenever I miss the train, I fear travelling by bus as at least three persons known to me have suffered injuries in road accidents in the past two-three months. All of them had been travelling on buses, light vehicles or two-wheelers on the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri road,” she said. “The ministers may claim whatever they want to but the rush in local and express trains is unprecedented, indicating that people are not comfortable about travelling by bus.”
No NHAI official in Siliguri could be contacted. 
GJMM leaders suspended for corruption
KalimNews: 5 GJMM leaders of Jholung Branch are suspended for 2 months. It was alleged that the leaders of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha, Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha took Rs. 2 lakh from a company  working in the Jaldhaka Hydel Project of WBSEDCL and distributed among themselves. The suspended officebearers are Amit Thing President of Jholung Branch and vice President of Todey Jaldhaka Zonal Committee, Pramode Gurung Secretary , Bibhusan Thapa  Coordinator of  GJYM, Dolmu Tamang President of GJNM, Kavita Lama Secretary GJNM and Navin Rai Member GJYM. C.B.Tamang President of Paren Jholung Block Committee declared that after a Block Committee meeting the suspension order was issued.  
The matter of corruption was brought by the local youths of Jholung during the Fulpati procession when the youths declared that no one will follow the party's declaration and take part in the programme unless disciplinary action is taken against the accused. They also openly announced the names of the accused through the Public address system before the porogramme and the procession was also canceled.
Gold Cup kicks off today - Three foreign & two I-league clubs in tourney 

TT, Gangtok, Oct. 20: Two I-League and three foreign clubs are among 14 teams that are participating in the All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament beginning here tomorrow.
the Governor’s Gold Cup is the only football tournament in the country which is being conducted uninterruptedly for the last 31 years.
Besides the two I-League teams ONGC Mumbai and Pune FC, Lajong FC (Shillong) and Mohammedan Sporting Club (Calcutta), which had featured in the premier league of the country earlier, will play the tournament in the Sikkim capital. Competing against them are defending champions BNR (Calcutta), Techno Aryan XI, Bengal Mumbai FC and former champions Punjab Police.
The foreign challenge comes from Bhutan XI and two Nepal teams — Manang Mashangdi and Three Star, another former champions of the Gold Cup.
Three local clubs have also been given the opportunity to feature in the tournament. They are Camelia United Sikkim Sporting Club, Denzong Boyz and Sikkim Police. The latter had won the state-level Independence Day football tournament, ensuring its entry in the Gold Cup.
General secretary of the Sikkim Football Association that organises the tournament Menla Ethanpa said Denzong Boyz had been given a berth in the championship as the club had played the I-League in the second division last season. Camelia United has also applied to play in the same category of the League, he said.
Indian soccer captain Bhaichung Bhutia is the chief patron of Camelia. The club will face Bhutan XI in the inaugural match at Paljor Stadium tomorrow.
Camelia’s Kilt Barfungpa (left) and Abjal Ansari. Bhaichung is the chief patron of the club.
Pictures by Prabin Khaling
Bhutan had skipped the Gold Cup last year. This time, the country has come with a vigorous team under a Japanese coach, said Ethanpa.
United Sikkim Sporting Club manager Arjun Rai said his team had prepared well for the tournament. “We had a good training week. We are giving preference to local players and promoting them,” he said. The club has taken two Nigerians for the tournament.
On tomorrow’s match, Rai said he was expecting a good fight from Bhutan. The team coming from the neighbouring country will be its national team and will have good selected players, he added.
The winners of tomorrow’s match will face Manang Mashangdi from Nepal on October 23 in a pre-quarterfinal match. The other Nepal club, Three Star, has been given a pre-quarterfinal berth and will take on Pune FC on October 25. Teams from Nepal are widely popular here and attract huge crowds.
Lajong FC has also been given a pre-quarterfinal berth and on October 26 it will lock horns with the winners of the match between Sikkim Police and Denzong Boyz.
Defending champions BNR Calcutta, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Techno Aryan XI and Bengal Mumbai FC have been given straight quarterfinal slots as the SFA considers them to be the higher ranking clubs among the other participants.
Finals will be played on November 2.
“We are expecting tough contest during the tournament as the teams are evenly poised,” said the SFA general secretary.
8 boys rescued of trafficking
KalimNews: 8 Boys belonging to the age group 7-9 were detained by the local people of Dhupguri Railway station in the Dooars area. These Munda Adivasi boys of Guwapanbari , Guwabari and Pramode Nagar of Falakatta were being sent to Delhi for manual work. According to them a local man called Jaysim and another Mapo Munda assured their parents of a good job in Delhi and also paid an advance of Rupeese five hundred to their parents. They were waiting for the arrival of Brahmaputra Mail while they were introduced to 2 people of Uttar Pradesh who were supposed to take them to Delhi.  All 4 persons are arrested in this connection of human trafficking when local people detained them.
Governor in Darjeeling

KalimNews: Governor M K Narayanan is visiting Darjeeling for enjoying holidays on 27 October and will return on 11 October. It is his second visit as Governor of the state, the first time was May 17 when came Darjeeling to spend his summer holidays and during his stay on May 21 Madan Tamang ABGL President was hacked to death. Mr. Tamang was among those who met the Governor on May 18 and apprised him of the insecurity facing by opposition political parties.
Anuradha Koirala  to deliver a talk
KalimNews: Anuradha Koirala the chief of Maiti Nepal will deliver a talk on Human trafficking. The programme is organised by RP Lama Foundation at Southfield College in Darjeeling. The programme organisers Dr MP Lama and N. P.Lama will also felicitate youths for their outstanding service to the society.Koirala a humble worker with her campaign against human trafficking has rescued more than a thousand Nepalese and runs a home for the rescued and their children. She is also amongst  CNN Top Ten and a nominee for the World topper activists sponsored by CNN.
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Puja organisers in line of fire- ‘rules flouted to erect pandals’
TT, Raiganj, Oct. 20: The fire department has lodged a complaint with North Dinajpur district magistrate against Puja organisers in Raiganj for erecting pandals without the minimum fire safety measures suggested by the authorities ahead of the festival.
The fire officers had initially wanted to file a police complaint but changed the decision fearing they would come under attack from the organisers.
“In a bid to avoid any fire mishap during the festival, we had held a meeting with different Puja organisers in the subdivisional officer’s chamber here. We discussed several safety measures and handed over to the pandal committees a list of dos and don’ts,” said Swarup Chandra Saha Roy, the in-charge of the Raiganj fire station.
The organisers were told that a pandal’s height should not exceed 40 feet and the roof should not be fixed to the ground.
“They were also told that the pandal’s interior should be a least 12 feet high and electric wires properly insulated. Adequate stock of sand and water should also have been kept at every pandal so that a possible blaze could be doused easily. For the fire department’s permission, the Puja organisers were also supposed to submit detailed sketches of the pandals, showing the nearest source of water reservoir,” said Roy.
He added that the fire department had warned the Puja organisers at the meeting that there would be inspections at the pandals to find out if the rules had been adhered to or not.
“However, the district administration did not co-operate with us when our staff members went to inspect the pandals. The firemen were not even provided with a single vehicle by the administration and they had to go to the pandals on motorcycles. During the inspections, we realised that not a single guideline to avoid fire mishaps had been followed by the organisers. Some of the pandals were built in such a manner that they could have been razed to the ground even before we could reach the spot,” said Roy.
There were 68 pandals in Raiganj during the Pujas and most of them were erected by different clubs.
The fire officer said the staff members on duty had come under attack from mobs many times in the past six months. “Six-seven firemen were injured in the attacks carried out in the presence of police. Even our vehicles were ransacked by the mob. So, we decided not to file any police complaint as we were afraid that the Puja organisers would target us,” he said.
Roy sought the district magistrate’s intervention to crack down on the errant pandal committees as there was “a possibility of a massive fire during Kali Puja”.
Sunil Dandapat, the district magistrate, said: “Ahead of Kali Puja and Diwali, we will check different pandals and if any irregularities are noticed, the organisers will not be allowed to proceed with the celebrations.” 
2 killed in car crash
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 20: Two persons were killed after the car they were travelling in skidded off NH31A and plunged into the Teesta near Kalijhora, 30km from here, last night.
The deceased, driver Kuldip Lohar, 30, and his helper Manu Saha, 25, were both residents of Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri district. “The driver and his assistant were returning home from Gangtok when the car skidded off the highway and fell into the Teesta river between Kalijhora and Hatishurey,” said Rakesh Singh, the subdivisional police officer of Kurseong. (KalimNews:The 70 percent crushed Tata Spacio Gold bearing no. WB 77-7943 was returning from Gangtok in the night time. The police found their bodies inside the vehicle in a crushed condition)
Snake rescue
TT, Siliguri: Members of Care for Nature rescued three snakes from Lower Bhanunagar, Ambikanagar and Fulbari on Wednesday. The rescued serpents include two spectacled cobras and a banded krait. All the snakes were later handed over to the wildlife squad in Sukna.
TT, Siliguri: The Siliguri Municipal Corporation will felicitate table tennis player Subhajit Saha, who won gold in the men’s doubles at the Commonwealth Games, on Thursday. Coach Amit Dam will also be honoured.
GRP case
TT, Islampur: The GRP of Dalkhola have initiated a case against Subhasish Chakraborty for allegedly assaulting Subhas Goswami, the former civic chairperson of Dalkhola. Chakraborty and Goswami had fought over the possession of a berth in the Guwahati-bound Kanchenjungha Express at Dalkhola station on Tuesday. Goswami’s supporters had stopped the train at the station demanding Chakraborty’s arrest. Chakraborty, a commandant of the NVF, was taken away by the GRP. He was later released.
Track death
TT, Jaigaon: Bachain Oraon, a 40-year-old resident of East Khairbari, died on Tuesday late evening after she was run over by a train in the same locality. RPF officials in Hasimara said she was crossing the track when a train went over her
WWF to Manas plan
TT, Guwahati, Oct. 20: The World Wildlife Federation has evinced interest in the long-term management of Manas National Park.
This was conveyed by Carlos Drews, the director of species programme, WWF International, to A. Swargiari, the field director of Manas National Park, at Manas yesterday.
This is the first time Drews is visiting Assam.
The WWF International, headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, has been assisting the state forest department in a number of ways. It works with local communities and turns them into agents of change in Assam. One of the biggest programmes in which it is involved is India Rhino Vision 2020.
The second phase of the programme is yet to begin, because of some delays.
“Drews asked me if the WWF can be involved in future long-term management of Manas,” Swargiari told The Telegraph today.
Manas is a World Heritage Site in Danger at present.
Drews discussed a variety of issues with Swargiari and other officials. The topics included the role of WWF, its future interventions and on the trans-boundary initiatives with Manas Bhutan.
“Goodwill cannot be purchased by money, you have to show sincerity and devotion,” Swargiari quoted Drews.
WWF-India is aiming at securing the elephant and tiger population of the North Bank Landscape.
Some of its current activities are supporting protected areas, research, resolving human-elephant conflict, critical elephant corridors and study tiger habitats.
The North Bank Landscape is the area between the northern bank of the Brahmaputra in the south to the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in the north and the River Manas in the west to the Dibang river in the east.
The total size of the landscape is approximately 40,000 sqkm and includes parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The area comprises a major part of the Himalaya bio-diversity hotspot and is also one of WWF’s Global 200 eco-regions.
Drews visited the Sonai-Rupai wildlife sanctuary and Nameri today and will be in Kaziranga for two days. He came to Assam on October 18 and was in Manas for two days. 
Indo -Nepal Inter state border sealed off
PTI, Patna, 20 Oct: Bihar's borders with Nepal and West Bengal have been sealed and security put on a high alert as the stage is set for the first phase of Assembly elections on Thursday in which 47 of 243 constituencies go to polls. Superintendent of Police of Madhubani district Ajitabh Kumar said Modhwapur, Khutauni, Fulparas and Laukaha areas in the district have been sealed off and watch was being kept by SSB and other security agencies on any possible movement of trouble-makers.

Similarly, a special watch is being kept in Supaul, Purnia, Kishanganj and Araria districts since this morning with specially-trained dogs mobilised for the purpose.
Director-General of Police Neelmani said that elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure that the elections are free, fair and peaceful.
"We have adequate number of CPMFs and armed policemen from other states at our disposal to maintain security," Neelmani said.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer Kumar Anshumali told PTI, "Efforts have been made to man most of the polling centres with CPMF personnel. Also police patrolling between one polling station and another would be intensified."
For the first time, he said, the Election Commission has introduced live webcast of the voting process from 20 per cent of the booths directly to be monitored by the district election officers, the office of Chief Electoral Officer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh and the Election Commission in New Delhi.
The entire process of voting would be videographed, Anshumali said.
"Over 45,000 personnel of the Central paramilitary forces have been made available by the Centre for free, fair and peaceful polls," a senior official in the home department said.
The state government had demanded 600 companies of central paramilitary forces, but the Central government agreed to provide 450 companies for the six-phase polls, an official said.  Each company comprises 100 personnel and the deployment would be made directly under the supervision of the Election Commission, officials said.
VHP asks for entire disputed land
TT, Lucknow, Oct. 20: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad today said the entire 67 acres at the disputed Ayodhya site were required to build a grand Ram temple and a third part allotted to Ram Lalla Virajman would not suffice.
“The high court order to trifurcate the land… is like dividing the country in the same way as the Partition… had done,” a VHP release said after a meeting of its Sant Uchadhikar Samiti and select invitees in Ayodhya.
“We don’t accept this. We want the entire land.”
Although there were dissenting voices among Hindu groups about the decision, the VHP’s stand appears to have driven the final nail in the negotiations being held by moderates to settle the matter.
At a news conference in Ayodhya, VHP international president Ashok Singhal said only non-division of land could resolve the impasse and the Centre should enact a law to hand it over to the Hindus.
He then took matters a step further, saying Sant Uchadhikar Samiti representatives would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 23 or 24 and request him to enact such a law.
Singhal said the VHP had also decided not to allow any mosque to be built in the town that was sacred to Hindus. “Ayodhya is a religious city for the Hindus. There is no place for a mosque there.”
As the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas had failed at least four times to thrash out an out-of-court settlement, he said “now there is no question of further talks”.
He reminded the Muslims that they had promised to give up claim on the disputed land if the court found Babri Masjid had been built after demolishing a temple. “Now they should stick to their promise and hand over the entire land for the temple.”
On Singhal’s stand that the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas should be empowered to build a grand temple, a representative of Ram Lalla Virajman said: “We will react to this later. We are not happy with the position taken.”
The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha’s Swami Chakrapani said he still favoured a negotiated settlement.
Graham Staines killing: bail plea hearing adjourned 
IANS, New Delhi, October 20:The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing on a bail plea by Rabindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh who is undergoing life sentence for the 1999 killing of Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two children Philip and Timoti in Orissa. Staines and his two children were killed Jan 22, 1999, after a mob belonging to saffron outfit Bajrang Dal set on fire the jeep they were sleeping in after conducting a missionary camp. The three were charred to death in Monoharpur village in Orissa's Keonjhar district.
Pal was convicted and awarded death sentence by the trial court. However, the same was commuted to life imprisonment by the Orissa High Court.
The apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan said that the final hearing into the matter would start from Nov 9.
Pal has sought bail on the grounds that since his conviction by the trial court he has already undergone eight years' imprisonment and his appeal challenging the high court order is pending before the apex court for the last two year.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vivek Tankha would lead the arguments by opposing Pal's appeal seeking quashing of his sentence. He will plead for the enhancement of the sentence to death penalty.
ASG Tankha told the court that besides opposing Pal's appeal, the Central Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the matter, would also seek the enhancement of punishment to other accused.
Earlier appearing for the petitioner, Counsel Sibo Shankar Mishra assailed the high court verdict on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish its case in accordance with the established procedure of gathering evidence.
He told the court that identification parade of Pal and other accused was done on the basis of their photographs. He said that witnesses first saw Pal when he appeared in the court to face trial.
Mishra told the court that confessional statements that had been relied upon were made only after investigation into the case was taken up by the CBI.
Prior to this there was no confessional statement when the case was investigated by police, he said.

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