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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Not so bad Balloon a hit, DD spoils show

Archis Mohan TT, New Delhi, Oct. 3: Aloft, the big boy of a balloon was still defying gravity and watching over the Commonwealth Games as the night grew old.
The adorable kids also won hearts, arraying themselves to form an elegant namaste as Hariharan crooned Swagatam Nava Bharatam.
The aerostat hovers over the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Sunday. Picture by Rajesh Kumar The aerostat hovers over the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Sunday. Picture by Rajesh Kumar So, has the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony survived the Indian curse?
Yes, if you were at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and taking in the Rs 80-crore aerostat, the giant helium balloon that hogged the limelight.
No, if you were watching the opener on Doordarshan, the only broadcaster allowed to beam it “live” in India.
If the opening ceremony lived up to the adjectives tailor-made for such events — “glittering”, “dazzling”, “vibrant” and “spellbinding” — Doordarshan managed the near-impossible feat of making the spectacle “sound” like a Republic Day Parade.
Also, as part of its laudable and patriotic effort to add to the nation’s coffers, the national broadcaster interrupted coverage with frustrating commercial breaks: the first one nearly 10 minutes long.
So long was the break and so fragile the reputation of the Games organisers, many viewers assumed something had gone terribly wrong at the venue and the glitch was being covered up by the shower of commercials.
For the record, things were going along swimmingly inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue of the opening ceremony.
Even the much-maligned Suresh Kalmadi’s soporific speech-reading skills managed to draw repeated rounds of roars, variously interpreted as jeers and cheers. Those in the stadium had little doubt: the boos were for Kalmadi and bouquets for the others.
Many of the 60,000 spectators appeared to know their politics well, cheering wildly at the mention of such names as Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dikshit and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (all figured in Kalmadi’s thanksgiving).
Not that the audience was not discerning. Stony silence greeted Kalmadi when he tried to do a Barack Obama but fell short of the passion as he pip-squeaked: “Yes, we can.”
On the topic of cheers, the most deafening round of applause was reserved for former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was referred to as Abdul Kalam “Azad” by a nervous Kalmadi.
Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also received a rapturous round of applause. Not bad for Singh who had lost an election from this very south Delhi constituency 12 years ago.
Not many in the crowd seemed to notice when BJP leader L.K. Advani and leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj were shown on the screen for several minutes.
When Prince Charles stood up, shouts of “India” reverberated throughout the stadium.
If the cheerleaders were nursing hopes of a colonial-era epic battle, they were in for a letdown. The prince read out in his baritone a statement from Queen Elizabeth II, the concluding part of which was put under the microscope because of a debate earlier over who would “open” the Games.
The prince quoted the queen: “I have much pleasure in declaring the 19th Commonwealth Games open.”
Then stepped in President Pratibha Patil, who injected a surprising element of zeal into the operative part.
Forced into a dramatic pause because of the loud cheers after she uttered “Let…”, the President allowed the noise to subside, marshalled the might expected of the First Citizen and declared with a flourish that would have done any Athenian proud: “Let the Games begin.”
By then, Doordarshan was just beginning to get the hang of the game. The lack of pre-event co-ordination between those who lit the stadium and DD camera teams was evident. Often, the cameras were blinded by the glare of lights.
Very few camera angles were at play, most of them static. Sometimes, the cameras roved without knowing where to go. If viewers got fed up and closed their eyes, the commentary sounded no different from the usual January 26 parade drone.
The ceremony ended around 10pm but Doordarshan’s “live” telecast dragged on till 11pm as the feed got deferred because of the frequent commercial breaks.
Bengal had its moments at the opening ceremony. Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Peter Hillary marched with the New Zealand contingent to inspire the athletes. The march was to keep alive the spirit of what their fathers — Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary — had achieved 57 years ago when they scaled Mt Everest for the first time.
Mamata Banerjee’s railway bandwagon, too, trundled through the venue, providing some amusement after a heavy dose of culture.
To the swaying tune of Chhaiya, Chhaiya, the wagons wound their way through. One was packed with cycles, presumably to hammer home the primacy given to the common man by the utility, not to mention its minister. Another filled with a thicket of microphones and politicians also stirred the curiosity of the spectators. 
Everest spirit in Kiwi march
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Oct. 3: Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Peter Hillary today marched with the New Zealand contingent to inspire athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
The march was to keep alive the spirit of what their fathers — Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary — had achieved 57 years ago: scaled Mt Everest for the first time on May 29, 1953. Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand, and Tenzing, a porter from India’s Darjeeling, had little in common then except the team spirit.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee decided to pay tribute to this spirit by naming the country’s Commonwealth Games logo “29028 Hillary and Tenzing”. The “29028” in the logo stands for the height of Mt Everest in feet.
While travelling from the Games village to the stadium today, Jamling told The Telegraph over the phone: “I, along with Peter, met the team athletics here yesterday. We offered them khadas (traditional Tibetan scarves) to wish them luck. Both of us will be marching with the team… reminding them of the inspiration that helped our fathers achieve what was thought to be unachievable at that time.”
The Kiwi team led by Irene van Dyk wore the khadas, as Jamling said they would, while he along with fellow Everester Peter, and New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie, brought in the rear.
“We both are representing our respective families at the Games. It is a huge honour…I told the team ‘After six attempts, six failures, my father kept going. He never gave up’,” said Jamling.
The team believes that the presence of Jamling and Peter will help them achieve much. The committee’s web page reads: “On the 29th of May 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest after climbing 29028 feet of rock, snow and ice. Now, in memory of Sir Edmund and Tenzing, 29028 has become the motivation and inspiration for this year’s Commonwealth Games…Let’s get behind our team and come together to honour Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.” 
Chidambaram hopeful of Darjeeling Agreement
No agreement without talks on territorial jurisdiction: GJM
Centre open to ceding powers only to a new State, UT
TH, KOLKATA, 4 October: While Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has expressed the hope of an agreement on an interim authority for the Darjeeling Hills at the end of the next round of tripartite talks in New Delhi scheduled for October 11, the local political leadership, which is divided on the issue, does not share his optimism.
There can be no agreement without “political talks” that will determine the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed interim body, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has asserted ahead of the talks.
ABGL not for interim body
Its political opponent, the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) has rejected the very notion of such an arrangement.
The ABGL, which has recently been buoyed by the joining of its ranks by some former leaders of the Gorkha National Liberation Front along with their supporters, has said that it will oppose the setting up of an interim authority for the Darjeeling Hills.
“We reject the proposal totally and will oppose it if a settlement is reached at the tripartite talks,” Dawa Sherpa, ABGL working president, told The Hindu over the telephone on Sunday.
The GJM leadership has said that contentious issues such as “the territorial jurisdiction and composition of the regional authority” need to be sorted out before any agreement can be reached on the matter.
It has been demanding that Gorkha-dominated areas in the Terai and Dooars regions of north Bengal be brought under the new body that should comprise nominated members.
“Then there are issues relating to granting legislative powers to the proposed interim authority which need addressing before any agreement on the interim authority can be arrived at,” Harkha Bahadur Chettri, GJM central committee member, who has been attending most of the tripartite talks, said.
The Centre is reportedly against granting legislative powers to the authority on the grounds that such powers can only be given to a new State or Union Territory.
The West Bengal government is keen that members of the interim authority be elected whereas the GJM leadership is insisting on having them nominated.
“The proposed body is only an interim one so we see little merit in the demand for elections to it,” Dr. Chettri said.
Only two-year term
“After all, the term of the interim authority is only for two years. It could be even shorter if any one of the three parties to it so desires. That it will not jeopardise our ultimate demand for a separate Gorkhaland State has been spelt out clearly,” he added.
Politics in hills to take a puja break
TNN, DARJEELING: With the festive season round the corner, political parties have decided to put on hold their agenda even as the next round of tripartite talk is scheduled for October 11 to chalk out the nitty-gritty of implement-ing an interim arrangement for the Hills.
Suspending its daily rallies, public meetings and torch processions for the time being, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) assistant secretary Benoy Tamang said, "We are getting ready for the tripartite talk on October 11. We will take a call on our agitation programmes after the Puja." However, the composition of the delegation to represent the party in the talks is yet to be finalised. "We are in the process of finalising the composition and number of members who will go to Delhi to attend the three-way dialogue," he added.
In keeping with the happy mood, the GJM has decided to organise a month-long festival in the Hills. The festival will start with a grand open-ing ceremony on October 7, which is also the party's foundation day. "We want to celebrate our foundation day on a grand scale. Since it's Puja time and more tourists will flock to the Hills, we thought of extending the revelry over a month," Tamang said.
Likewise, the All-India Gorkha League(AIGL), now emerging as the main opposition in the Hills, too, has decided to wait until the end of Puja to continue with its political activities. "We do not want to create inconvenience to the public during the festive season and so have decided to wait till it is over," said AIGL spokesperson Narayan Chhetri,. "We do have a number of issues that we want to take up with both the state and the Union government," he added.
Not satisfied with the way the CID was handling the Madan Tamang murder case, the AIGL has decided to appeal to the court for a CBI inquiry. "We will move the court, demanding a CBI inquiry into our leader's mur-der. But, that will be done after the Puja. We will also take up the law and order situation in the Hills and request the Union government to give it a Union Territory status," said Chhetri.
Human skulls, bones found in Siliguri

IBNS, Siliguri , Oct 3 : The Railway police found some thirteen human skulls and forty-two leg bones abandoned on a platform at Siliguri Junction on Sunday.
General Railway Police’s officer-in-charge of Siliguri Junction P Debnath said a blue-coloured unclaimed bag, that initially created panic, was later found to contain those human bones.
Human skulls and bones of limbs have huge demand in neighbouring Bhutan and Nepal, where tantriks of Kali sadaks and quacks use them for different reasons. 
Debnath said that they have sought the help from the forensic experts to determine the age of the bones, police said.
No arrest had been made in this case so far, police added.

25 Puja shopperes injured whwn bus tupples on bumpy NH
TT, Siliguri, Oct. 3: Around 25 people, mostly puja shoppers, were injured when the bus they were travelling in turned turtle on the damaged NH31D near Jalpaiguri town today, highlighting once again the risks involved in travelling on Dooars roads.
The private bus bound for Jalpaiguri from Banarhat was carrying more than 40 passengers. Seven of the injured were admitted to the Jalpaiguri District Hospital, police said.
Today’s was the third accident on potholed highways in the past one month. On September 9, Class X student Kaushik Tamang of Odlabari, travelling in an auto-rickshaw to his school, was killed when the vehicle fell on its side on NH31. Twenty-two others were hurt in the accident. Two days before, a Guwahati-bound bus fell into a ditch to avoid a deep pothole on NH31C near Jaigaon, killing one passenger and injuring 11 others.
Transport owners blamed the administration’s alleged apathy to repair the damaged road for today’s mishap. Union forest and environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who had expressed dismay over the condition of the roads during his visit to the region last week, said he would put a word to his counterpart in the Union surface transport ministry to repair the roads.
Around 10am today, the driver of the bus, while trying to avoid another bus from the opposite direction, lost control over the vehicle at Domohini More on the outskirts of Jalpaiguri. “The driver has fled but the vehicle has been seized,” an officer of Mainaguri police station said. The spot is about 55km from Siliguri.
Monica Karmakar, a resident of Mainaguri who was one of the injured, said the bus was going at a normal speed. But ahead of the Teesta Bridge, the driver lost control and the bus veered off the road and turned turtle on a low land beside the highway.
Karmakar who was sitting on the front seat of the vehicle added: “As Durga Puja is approaching and today is a Sunday, I decided to go for shopping. But my plans were spoiled because of the damaged road.”
Most of the passengers in the bus were from the Dooars and were going to Jalpaiguri for puja shopping.
After the mishap, the local people and a fire engine from Jalpaiguri rescued the passengers and took them to hospital, about 10km from the spot.
Rajat Bhattacharya, a doctor at the district hospital, said most of the seven patients had injuries on legs and fractured their hands. “We have referred Aliul Haque, a passenger with serious injury on his right leg, to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.”
Other injured passengers were released after first aid.
The North Bengal Passengers’ Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee, which had observed a 20-day-long strike from August 31 protesting bad roads, said the government did precious little to repair the roads.
“We had later decided to run the buses after the administration assured us that roads would be repaired by the first week of October. But it is once again apparent today that no serious efforts have been taken by the government to repair the damaged roads,” said Pranab Mani, the committee secretary.
Officials of the National Highways Authority of India, however, said work on different stretches of highways was already on.
“The repairing of road is going on presently between Fatapukur and Siliguri, Ghoshpukur and Bagdogra and Mainaguri and Jalpaiguri, at a cost of Rs 15 crore,” an NHAI official said today.
4 feared killed
IBNS,Kurseong, Oct 3:Four persons heading for Siliguri in the dusk on Sunday were feared killed when a Tata Indigo, in which they were travelling, fell into a deep gorge at Pankabari under Kurseong sub-division, police said.
Kurseong’s sub-divisional police officer Rakesh Singh said the tourist vehicle with four occupants while heading towards Siliguri fell off the narrow Pankhabari road into the 600 mt deep gorge at sundown hours of the day.
Rescue operation was on to find if any occupant survived the mishap.
He said local people, police and fire brigade personnel were looking for survivors, if any.
Police Public football ends with fanfare in Jaldhaka
KalimNews: Darjeeling Police Public Friendship Football Tournament organised by Darjeeling Police and hosted by Jaldhaka Police Public Football Organising Committee ended with all the high ranking Police officers in the dais at Jholung. IG Ranveer kumar was the Chief guest of the programme, while IG sp Jalpaiguri DT Lepcha was the special guest and other guests were  SP Darjeeling, Devendra Prakash Singh, ASP Head quarter  Kunal Agarwal, ASP Kalimpong Smt. J. Dorjee, ASP Siliguri Gaurav Sharma, SP Jalpaiguri Anand Kumar and Ms Nikita Foning SDPO MalBazar.
The tournament started from 19th September was ended today with much fanfare and exciting exhibition matches. Exhibition matches were played between veterans of Darjeeling Police ans Jaldhaka selected in which police won by 2-1. In another exhibition match of Girl students Jaldhaka  High school defeated Gairibas HS School by 2-0. In the final match of the tournament Jholung B defeated Kumai team in the tie breaker by 4-3 as both equaled in the full time game. Kiran Biswa of Kumai was adjudged the best player.

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