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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hill deal at next meet, says Gurung- whiff of backstage pact ... Asok on Sixth scope after NE tour .. Bhaichung to start football academies in Delhi, Bengal and Sikkim

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Oct. 24: Bimal Gurung today assured his supporters in Mirik that the interim set-up would be finalised in the next political level-meeting to be held in a few days, triggering speculation that a backstage negotiation might be on.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president’s statement has created a flutter in the hills, as it is largely believed that a number of political-level talks will be needed to thrash out some of the contentious issues related to the set-up, especially the territorial jurisdiction of the new body.
Addressing the people at the ongoing tourist festival in Mirik, 45km from Darjeeling, Gurung said: “The interim set-up will be finalised in the first (after the October 11 official-level talks) political meeting itself. If not the first, I am confident that the settlement will be definitely signed at the second meeting.”
During the October 11 talks in Delhi, representatives of the state, Centre and the Morcha were of the opinion that all that could be “discussed at the bureaucratic-level” had been done. They decided that they did not have the mandate to take a decision on some issues which they kept aside for the political-level talks.
The issues include the territorial jurisdiction of the new body, mode of selection of the members of the interim council, transfer of the tauzi department which keeps land records of the tea gardens and the legislative powers of the new body.
Gurung’s confidence in inking a settlement at the next meeting itself has raised speculation that perhaps some backstage negotiations are underway to settle these contentious issues. “The issues which have not yet been settled are touchy. However, Gurung’s confidence smacks of a possible backstage negotiations between the three parties involved in the talks,” said an observer.
The Morcha leadership is aware that it cannot accept an interim set-up without including some areas of the Dooars and the Terai within its jurisdiction. “Such a set-up would not be considered anything significant by the public,” the observer added.
The Morcha president was also confident that the members of the new body for the hills would be nominated by the party. “The body will be nominated but we will not include our central committee members in the interim set-up. Even after the set-up is formed, we will continue our agitation for Gorkhaland,” said Gurung.
His confidence regarding the nomination is again surprising as both the Centre and the state want either a direct or an indirect election — depending on the number of seats won in the panchayat election — for the Gorkhaland Regional Authority.
Both the governments have been arguing that a nominated body cannot exercise legislative authority as this would go against the established rule of the land.
Gurung maintained that the political-level talks could take place “before or after Tihar (Diwali)”. 
Asok on Sixth scope after NE tour
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 24: Back from a study tour of three northeastern states, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya today advocated Sixth Schedule status for the Darjeeling hills, saying the provision gives a lot of scope for development if it is implemented to the best possible extent.
Bhattacharya, who returned after a week-long trip to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, said: “I had started visiting the states since October 17 and I have found that there is ample scope to develop an area which has been granted special status under the Sixth Schedule. All we need is the political goodwill to make best utilisation of this special status.”
The minister, the CPM MLA from Siliguri, said he had studied the state of affairs in the three states and collected information that indicates development in these areas under the Sixth Schedule.
“I plan to present these facts in appropriate quarters to prove my point,” he added.
According to him, massive development work could have been taken up under the Sixth Schedule, if the DGHC, with jurisdiction on the three hill subdivisions, would have been provided with the special status.
“One of the major objectives of my tour was to study how the areas have prospered under the special status. I have talked to ministers, officials and political leaders of these states, who have apprised me of the development work going on in their areas,” Bhattacharya said.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, however, has dismissed Bhattacharya’s claims.
“Sixth Schedule is a dead issue and irrelevant, considering the present situation in the hills,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
“Time and again, the minister is trying to raise new issues that are against our key demand of separate statehood. He must understand that the proposal of Sixth Schedule has been scrapped. We are now holding talks for interim set-up in response to the proposal mooted by the Centre and under no circumstances, we will abandon our demand for Gorkhaland.”
Scout for ‘home’ to host toy train rail model 
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 24: The UK-based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society is on the lookout for a “good home” to preserve a miniature model of the toy train track built by Gert Jensen, a former DHR enthusiast who passed away in July.
According to DHRS chairperson David Barrie, the model built with extraordinary detail even featured in the Continental Modeler — an international magazine which provides guidance and shows models of different railways in the world — back in 2003.
“Gert was very interested in the DHR and he had been a member of the DHRS for some time. After his demise, Gert’s daughter Kimberly is keen that the model should be preserved and would like it to go to a good home. I am assisting in this as I can. I agree it is so wonderful and one man’s dream, it must be cared for,” Barrie wrote in an e-mail to The Telegraph.
An architect by profession from Shropshire County in the UK, Gert got hooked to the little Indian hill railway when he visited a Steam Gala of the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway which had a DHRS stall.
During a weeklong trip to Darjeeling in February 2000, Gert took photos, made sketches and noted important features of the toy train as part of a primary research. He went through publications on the DHR and the photographs of the hill railway taken in the past too.
“Gert came with me on one of our tours so he was able to get a first hand experience, but of course he was able to consult a number of books primarily the work of Terry Martin, notable Halfway to Heaven, and publications by the DHRS,” wrote Barrie.
The U-shaped DHR layout is currently fixed to the wall of Gert’s double garage and incorporates four stations —Siliguri Town, Sukna, Kurseong and Darjeeling. Although the line has three loops and six ‘Z’ reverses (features that assist the toy train to make the uphill climb), Gert has replicated one ‘Z’ and two loops in the 17-metre layout.
“The line starts from Siliguri Town, across the plains to Sukna, and then rising uphill encounters a ‘Z’ reverse, the Agony Point loop, then into Tindharia works, and by using the balloon loop that actually exists within the works it changes direction. It now runs from Paglajhora, Kurseong, on up, and into Darjeeling,” the DHRS chairman wrote. The materials used for construction were card boards, plastic, wood and tin.
“The track runs on baseboards secured to the wall. It even protrudes into the garage in places by several feet, where a loop or a station was constructed. To my knowledge it was all his own work. I know it took him a couple of years to build it but the detail is extraordinary,” said Barrie.
The station buildings are exactly the way they looked in 1960s. Gert has even managed to capture the essence of life as it exists on the fringes of the tracks.
The half-timbered Sukna station, bathers at the Mahanadi river drying sarees, waterfall, an elephant in the jungles of Sukna and the spiralling Agony Point surrounded by tea gardens made of green coloured doormats are the views on the uphill climb in the layout. A landslide after Tindharia workshop and men working to restore the tracks, too, has been depicted as the seasonal problem of the hill railway.
ABGL campaign
TT, Darjeeling: The ABGL has appealed to governors of all states across the country seeking support for Gorkhaland. “We will also send similar letters to all the chief ministers soon,” said Narayan Chhetri, a spokesperson for the party.
The ABGL has maintained that they were trying to mobilise 50,000 youths in the hills for the Gorkhaland march. “We plan to mobilise the youths by December after which we will undertake a padayatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh in support of Gorkhaland,” said Chhetri. The ABGL also claimed that many people would be joining the party after Diwali.
Bhaichung to start football academies

Bhaichung with members of the United Sikkim Sporting Club at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok on Sunday. Picture by Prabin Khaling
Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, GANGTOK, October 24: Bhaichung Bhutia the Indian football captain  is eying a bunch of football related projects in the last leg of his illustrious two decade long service to the nation and Indian football as retirement plans.
Speaking to media here today morning, Bhutia spoke about his plans to start a football school in Delhi and football academies in West Bengal and Sikkim.
“Definitely I am planning for retirement from national team. My target is next 2-3 years. It will depend on my fitness. Maybe I could call it a day after the AFC Asia Cup 2011 due next year or maybe I could continue for 2-3 years. I am at a stage where I can start thinking beyond football and use my connections gained over 20 odd years I have played football”, said Bhutia.
Among the immediate projects that Bhutia would be launching is a football school in Delhi on October 30 where kids can come and train.
However, a football academy with his friend and Bollywood hunk John Abraham remains the cherished dream of Bhutia and he has been working quietly on the project at Kolkata and Sikkim in the past couple of years.
“I have put an application with the Sikkim government and the response has been very positive. I need at least 20 acres of land somewhere 30-40 kms away from Gangtok to set up the academy which will have two football fields including an artificial turf, hostel and other infrastructure”, said Bhutia. He also informed that the football academy proposal in Kolkata has been received well by the West Bengal government.
It would be easy to set up an academy in West Bengal as I am getting a land outside Salt Lake with a readymade ground and a hostel, said Bhutia. He said that he is expecting ground works for the academy to start by June next year.
In Sikkim, Bhutia said, setting up two grounds, hostel and other infrastructure will be difficult and require huge investment considering the hilly and difficult terrain of the State. Once I get the land, I will be looking for sponsors, he said.
John Abraham, a close friend of Bhutia, has shown keen interest in the academy project.
“John Abraham is very keen in this football project and he personally spoke over phone with the Sikkim urban development minister yesterday about the land requirement for the academy”, said Bhutia.
ONGC qualified for Semi Final
Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, GANGTOK, October 24: While ONGC Mumbai was busy engaged in demolishing a capitulating Punjab Police 8-1 in the pre-quarterfinal match today, its two Sikkimese players Robin Gurung and Bikash Jairu was also fulfilling a cherished dream of any ‘Search for More Bhaichung’ product-to play for a big national club in front of home fans at Paljor Stadium during the All India Governor’s Gold Cup organized by Sikkim Football Association.
While defender Robin started in the first XI for ONGC and played for the whole 90 minutes, Jairu came in as a substitute striker in the second half. Both of them are products of ‘Search for More Bhaichungs’ scheme of the Sikkim government launched in 1999. By featuring in ONGC Mumbai who has qualified for I-League, the duo is now rubbing shoulders with East Bengal players Bhaichung Bhutia, Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri in the pinnacle of Indian football.
“Our dream to play for a big national club in the Governor’s Gold Cup here at Paljor Stadium have been fulfilled and we are very happy”, Gurung and Jairu said. Both said that the Paljor Stadium was like a home ground for them after practicing and playing in the ground for several years they spent in the Sikkim Sports Academy hostel in the stadium.
Their debut in an I-League club in Governor’s Gold Cup at Paljor Stadium was made sweeter due to a cakewalk 8-1 victory of ONGC over Punjab Police.
ONGC Nigerian strikers ND Opara and B Babatunde helped themselves to a hattrick and a brace respectively to rout the helpless Punjab Police team. F Lalmuan Puia, Sandeep Sangha and Kailash Patil also scored in the last quarter of the game. In fact, the Punjab Police conceded four goals in the last ten minutes of the match.
The match itself appeared to be a contesting affair with the Punjab Police stunning the Mumbai team in 11th minute thanks to a fine strike by Hardeep Singh.
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Scam officer gives cops the slip
TT, Raiganj, Oct. 24: The joint block development officer of Karandighi, an accused in the Rs 1.2 crore mid-day meal scam whom police have been looking for, has given the men in khaki the slip during the Pujas despite the authorities’ claim of a “round-the-clock vigil” for him.
Joint BDO Durjoy Chakrabarty, who has gone missing on October 5 from his rented house in Sudarshanpur here, managed to take away his wife from the house evading the “police vigil”. However, there was no evidence of any picket posted outside his residence, neighbours said.
Uday Saha, a boarder in another portion of the house, today said: “On October 14, Chakrabarty suddenly took away his wife, leaving their belongings. In fact, I called the rickshaw which took them to Siliguri More from where they boarded a Calcutta-bound bus.”
A posse of policemen were posted at Siliguri More, about 30 metres from the house, to take care of any untoward incident.
The police have also failed to catch Tapas Mondal, a data entry operator and a co-accused in the alleged misappropriation.
Sources at the district administration said the Islampur sub-divisional administration had started an inquiry into the allegations of misappropriation of funds. The investigation by a deputy magistrate has revealed that Rs 6 lakh was paid to two self-help groups that did not cook meal for school students. Investigations are on to find out if Rs 1.2 crore, sanctioned by the joint BDO for other SHGs through notesheets sent to the bank, was judiciously spent or not.
The SDO of Islampur had initially slapped a showcause notice on Chakrabarty, an official said. “As the joint BDO could not satisfy the SDO with his replies, the district administration filed a complaint against him on October 5. Since then, he went underground. Later, the police informed the administration that they were in search of him and also keeping a watch on Chakrabarty’s rented house.”
North Dinajpur district police chief Milan Kanti Das said he did not have any information on Chakrabarty’s whereabouts.
“We do not know whether he visited his house or took away his wife. Our officers are keeping a round-the-clock vigil on him,” Das added.
Sunil Dandapat, the district magistrate, however, brushed aside the allegations. “None in the administration is trying to save the joint BDO,” he said. “About three-four days ago, Chakrabarty had sent me a leave application by post. We have not sanctioned it.”
Labourer held for girl murder
TT, Malda, Oct. 24: A 19-year old youth was arrested in Ratua yesterday on charges of raping and strangulating to death a Class III student three days ago.
The body of the seven-year-old girl was found in a mango orchard on Friday, a day after she had gone missing from Rukundipur village.
Day labourer Mithun Choudhury has confessed to his crime. Malda police chief Bhuban Mondal said Mithun was being interrogated to find out if he had any accomplices in crime.
“Mithun took the girl to a nearby mango orchard, luring her with some spicy snacks. After raping her, he strangulated her to death. When the girl resisted, he put mud in her mouth. His right thumb was bitten by the girl before she died,” the police chief said.
Local people told the police that Mithun had been spotted with the girl late on Thursday evening while she was coming back from a village fair, 45km from here. Mithun was at his aunt’s house when the police picked him up for interrogation. They took him to Ratua police station where he confessed to his crime. He was then arrested.
“He killed the minor, took a bath in the Mara Mahananda river and then went to a pan shop and treated his thumb with lime,” said the police chief.
Hunt for sleuth held hostage in blind alley
Partha Biswas; (below) his friend Saumajit Basu
TT, Calcutta/Purulia, Oct. 24: Police have failed to find intelligence official Partha Biswas and his schoolteacher friend 48 hours after they were taken hostage by suspected Maoists in Purulia’s Ayodhya Hills.
The search has been hamstrung by lack of information about which Maoist group had captured the duo on Friday. The police fear that the 40-year-old intelligence branch inspector and his friend Saumajit Basu may have been taken to neighbouring Jharkhand. Basu, 32, is attached to an NGO working for tribals in rebel-hit areas.
“Had the group been identified, we could have got some leads. We could have monitored some cellphone numbers. We are not sure whether Biswas has been kept in Bengal or taken to Jharkhand,” said an officer.
Surajit Kar Purakayastha, additional director-general (law and order), said the police were combing villages around the deeply wooded Ayodhya Hills. “There is no headway till now. No lead has emerged.”
Personnel of the CRPF’s elite Cobra unit — part of the joint forces engaged in anti-rebel operations — have been pressed into the search. Last night, they scoured Borgora, Tilagora and Hedelbera villages at the base of the Ayodhya Hills.
“The forces asked us whether we had seen any Maoist on Friday and whether we had provided shelter or food to them. They also asked us if we had seen any hostages in our village. They searched our house but did not find anything,” said Krishna Pahari, 28, an unemployed youth in Borgora.
Netai Pahari, 52, of Tilagora spoke of a similar drill. “The policemen came around 8pm yesterday, just when we had sat down for dinner. We told them that we had seen no Maoist,” the farmer said.
Senior officers had claimed yesterday that Biswas — the first intelligence sleuth to fall into rebel hands since the joint forces began operations in June last year— had not informed his immediate bosses when he set off with Basu.
Today, police sources said Biswas had called a colleague at the intelligence branch headquarters in Calcutta a few minutes before he was taken hostage. Biswas’s colleagues said he had wanted a transfer — he has been posted in Purulia for the past two years — fearing he could be identified as an undercover cop.
At Biswas’s home in Naihati, on Calcutta’s outskirts, wife Barnali appealed to her husband’s captors. “He had last visited home on Wednesday. My husband was concerned about the welfare of poor tribals. I appeal to those who have kept him hostage to release him,” she said.
State transport minister Ranjit Kundu visited the Biswas home this afternoon and reassured the family that the government was trying its best to trace him.
In Hooghly’s Bandel, where Basu hails from, a police officer claimed that someone speaking Hindi with a “south Indian accent” had called the family around 11.50pm on Friday night, hours after he had been taken captive. “They told Avijit (Basu’s elder brother) that they were verifying the identities of the duo,” the officer said. Basu’s wife Sankhatua — they have a two-and-a-half-year-old son — and parents cannot bear the tension any more, said Avijit. “We are praying for my brother’s safety. He is innocent and I hope he is released,” said the private firm executive. 
Time to change the colour of medal in Asian Games – Tarundeep
voice of Sikkim, 24 Oct, Gangtok: Sikkim’s a lone history maker who created a big sensation in sports world was landed home on 23 October. A bronze medallist in Commonwealth Games 2010, New Delhi in Archery Tarundeep Rai who slammed English contender in Archery recently was felicitated today by Journalists Club of Sikkim. A felicitation function was held at the capital where reputed dignitaries from the sports, civil societies, association and organisations gathered up for congratulating the victory boy. During the felicitation function JAC members were present, they offered Khadas, Bouquet  and Memento for a token of appreciation for an excellence. Felicitation function was chaired by eminent veteran journalist CD Rai cum JAC advisor and Nepali Sahythya Parisad NSP President BK Roka. Sikkim Archery Association Joint Secy KB Gurung , Sikkim Badminton Association President C Zangpo, Sikkim Table Tennis Association President CK Basnett, Sikkim Badminton Association Joint Secy Diwakar Rai, TAAS President Lukendra Rasaily, ASESEUA President Nawin Kiran Pradhan offered their greetings to Rai and wished him a success in coming Asian Games which will be held in China very soon.
Tarundeep Rai who hails from a South District Headquarter Namchi was interested into sports since his childhood days, his was deeply attached to football rather than archery. “It accidentally happened that today I am sporting archery instead of football,” he said. Speking about the prospect of sports for the Sikkim’s Children he said that , this should open the eyes of the authority that there’s a vast scope of opportunities for the sporting state like Sikkim.  He also said that more emphasis should be given to sports also for making the state proud; every children’s should have adequate sports facilities.
It may be mentioned here that due to some unavoidable circumstance the coach RB Tamang of Rai was unable to be present in the felicitation function.
On asking about the upcoming Asian Games he said, a rigorous practice is going on to change the medal of colour in Asian Games. He said that presently a practice camp has been installed in Kolkata where he has to return back for further practices.

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