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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Split in tribal outfit
Nov. 18: A group of tribal leaders in north Bengal have floated a new forum, protesting the “dictatorial attitude” of some of the state leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad.
In a meeting held in Jalpaiguri’s Nagrakata yesterday, Rajesh Lakra, a former secretary of the regional unit of the Parishad, announced the formation of the Dooars Terai Adivasi Vikas Parishad in the presence of 200-odd delegates.
Hill women block highway
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 18: Around 150 Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha supporters today blocked NH55 near Pintail Village for nearly two hours, iterating their demand to include the Terai and Siliguri in the proposed interim set-up.
The move by the supporters of the women’s wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was condemned by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee, which organised a protest rally at Hashmi Chowk.
The Nari Morcha supporters were blocked by 50-odd personnel from Pradhannagar police station and district police commando when they reached Pintail Village. The protesters set up a blockade on the spot.
The blockade was withdrawn around 4.30pm after Sanjib Dutta, an executive magistrate, arranged a dialogue between the protesters and Siliguri subdivisional officer Rajat Saini over the phone. Dutta also received a memorandum from the protesters on behalf of the SDO. “We have startedagitating from November 14 with rallies and street corner meetings inDarjeeling hills and the Terai on our main demand to include Siliguri and the Terai and Dooars in the interim set-up,” said Sandhya Gurung, a central committee member of the Morcha.
“We wanted to submit a memorandum to the chief minister through the SDO of Siliguri. But the police stopped us at Panchanoi.”
Except for army vehicles, ambulance and school buses, the protesters did not allow any other vehicles or motorcycles to cross the area. Hundreds of cars were stranded on the spot.
Shankar Adhikary, the chief convener of the Morcha’s Terai committee, said they would continue their movement till November 21 across the hills and the Terai. “As part of the agitation, we will organise a meeting at Salugara tomorrow where Morcha chief Bimal Gurung will be present.”
The Bhasha Banchao Committee ruled out any division of the state. “The Morcha leaders are demanding a set-up, which is a conspiracy to divide the state further. We are not going to allow it at any cost,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the committee at the protest rally.
Rivals reject Gurung invite  - Morcha told to come clean on madan murder before talks
Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, Nov. 18: The Democratic Front today rejected the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s offer of talks to discuss the pros and cons of the interim arrangement for the hills, saying there would be no truck with Bimal Gurung’s party as it had been “implicated” in the murder of Madan Tamang.
Four constituents of the front — the ABGL, CPRM, Trinamul Congress and Darjeeling-Sikkim Unification Party — met in Darjeeling today to discuss Gurung’s offer to hold an all-party meeting.
“The Morcha leadership has been implicated in the murder of Madan Tamang (the former ABGL president) and till they are cleared of the charge, we will have nothing to do with them,” said Dawa Sherpa, the front convener and the working president of the ABGL.
The front said the interim set-up could never meet the aspirations of the Gorkhas, whose only dream was a separate state. “We will organise a seminar on the restoration of democracy in December. But before that, we will hold a public meeting in Darjeeling where we will focus on the murder of Madan Tamang,” said R.B. Rai, the CPRM leader.
Madan Tamang was hacked to death allegedly by Morcha supporters in Darjeeling on May 10. Many Morcha members implicated in the assassination have been absconding, while another accused, Nickole Tamang, escaped from police custody on August 22. Nickole was a close aide to Gurung and had been arrested from a village in Darjeeling on August 16.
Gurung had made the talks offer during the third foundation day celebration of the Janmukti Asthai Karmachari Sangathan, an affiliate of the Morcha, in Kalimpong yesterday.
Gurung said he wanted to take all parties on board before inking the set-up deal and preferred to quit politics if he was unable to explain the pros and cons of the interim arrangement to other parties.
He also threatened to go in for an all out agitation for Gorkhaland if the Centre failed to finalise the pact by the second week of December.
The negative response of the front effectively puts paid to the Morcha’s effort to find a consensus on the interim mechanism.
“The Front’s response was on expected lines. Gurung was only trying to score some brownie points by offering to hold talks with his opponents because he knew what their response would have been. Actually, a close analysis of Morcha leaders’ speeches yesterday shows that they are in a hurry to seal the set-up deal quickly,” said an observer.
Less noise on hill roads - cop drive silences highway horns
TT, Gangtok, Nov. 18: The cacophony of horns during the rush hours in this hill town has seen a dramatic decrease in recent weeks thanks to a sustained campaign by traffic police, the department has claimed.
From November 1, the Gangtok traffic police have been involving various taxi and government drivers’ associations to appeal to the people at the wheel to refrain from honking unnecessarily on the stretch of NH31A that passes through the town.
The drive also aims to contain high beams and indicators that are often used by the drivers along the highway.
As part of the campaign, around 15 journalists today stood at various intersections from Lal Bazaar to Ranka taxi stand carrying placards with an appeal to reduce noise on the roads.
The programme has been successful with a good response from the people, claimed traffic officials.
The campaign has been focusing on the zone between Amdo Golai and Zero Point on the highway. The 5km-stretch has six major intersections.
“We have observed that around 1,500-1,800 vehicles move in this area in an hour during the peak hours,” said Arjun Tamang, a traffic police inspector.
“Road abuses like unnecessary or deliberate honking and improper use of high beams have dropped by 80 per cent in Gangtok after the campaign,” he said.
Around 70 traffic police personnel led by the deputy superintendent of police Dhiren Lama, along with three traffic inspectors man the highway stretch and arterial roads.
Even vehicles passing through no-horn zones often flout the rules.
“Less honking has been observed in the no-horn zone from Mintokgang to Zero point and from Zero Point to Ranka taxi stand during the campaign,” said Tamang.
Several traffic policemen could be seen at different crossings in town, holding placards with messages on the misuse or deliberate use of horns and high beams in busy areas. The placards highlighted that high beams could blind drivers coming from opposite direction and result in accidents. The campaign also focused on unauthorised parking of vehicles.
“Misuse of horn is particularly an irritant for residents along NH31A, patients in hospitals and school students,” said Tamang.
He added that objective of the campaign was to reduce the discomfort.
The drive stems from the belief of the authorities that the traffic police alone cannot contain road rule abuses unless the local people are also involved and drivers show self-discipline.
The traffic police have requested all stakeholders to inculcate the habit of road discipline and obey rules so that the Sikkim capital can set an example for the rest of the state.
Northeast call for soccer clubs
TT, Gangtok, Nov. 18: Two football clubs in Sikkim have been invited to play in premier tournaments in the Northeast next week, an indication of the state’s image as a hub of soccer talents.
While the United Sikkim Sporting Club will take part in the North East Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament in Imphal, Denzong Boyz FC has been given a direct quarterfinal berth in the Royal Gold Cup in Kohima.
“We have been performing well this season. The club has reached the finals of the state-level Independence Day tournament and pre-quarters of All India Governor’s Gold Cup. The players have been practising regularly after the Gold Cup,” said United Sikkim coach Arjun Rai.
The coach said the club had been focusing mainly on local talents who were provided with platforms to get maximum exposure. “The local players have shown maturity in recent matches and I expect my boys to do well in the Imphal tournament,” said Rai.
The T Ao Memorial Tournament is organised by the All Manipur Football Association and is sponsored by the DoNER ministry and the Manipur government. Teams from all eight north-eastern states will feature in the tournament that will commence on November 21.
The Gangtok-based United Sikkim is placed in Group A, which includes traditionally strong clubs from Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram. The Group B has Nagaland, Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
The tournament will be held in a league fashion where two top teams from each group will play in semi-finals.
That Sikkim has been bracketed with strong opponents like Manipur and Mizoram shows the Himalayan state’s emergence in the national football arena.
“Manipur and Mizoram play good football. But Manipur is always the tournament’s favourite. Now Sikkim has also come up,” said Rai.
The United Sikkim, whose chief patron is Bhaichung Bhutia, will clash with Manipur in its first match on November 21. The club will take on Tripura on November 23 and Mizoram on November 25.
Apart from captain Nim Tshering Lepcha, the team has senior players like Sagar Rai, Michael Lepcha and Bhupendra Khewa and young ones like Abzal Asnari, Lakpa Sherpa and Kip Barfungpa.
Teenager Ansari had received much attention for his wonderful defending skills in the recent Governor’s Gold Cup tournament. The players left for the Manipur capital today.
Denzong Boyz is also looking forward to the Kohima tournament on a positive note after having reached the quarterfinal of the All India Brigade of Gurkhas Gold Cup football tournament being played in Darjeeling. The team lost to BNR Kolkata on sudden death in the quarterfinal on November 16.
The club has been given a direct quarterfinal berth in the Kohima tournament on November 23.
Code of conduct for bars - Restriction on performances, CCTVs must, clothes under scanner
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 18: The Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district administrations prescribed the installation of CCTVs and “decent” clothes for performers in bars but failed to define “decency” in the code of conduct that came into force from today.
The administration also wants access to the CCTV footages regularly besides restriction on live performances (see chart).
The guidelines were issued after a meeting between Ranvir Kumar, the inspector general of police, north Bengal, and the officials of the district administrations on Tuesday.
Siliguri has 16 bars and Jalpaiguri, 4.
The officials today convened a meeting with North Bengal Musical Bar Owners’ Association in Siliguri to apprise them of the code.
“All live performances in bars will be restricted after 10.30pm from today and the bars will have to be closed by 12 midnight. Apart from these, the installation of CCTV has been made compulsory in bars with performers. The CCTVs should be installed after consulting respective inspectors in charge of local police stations and the excise officer,” Jalpaiguri district magistrate Vandana Yadav told journalists after the meeting at the Siliguri Circuit House.
She added that “recordings (by CCTVs)” would have to be submitted to police stations concerned every week so that any “irregularities” could be checked. “Decency of dress while performing is another instruction that has to be followed,” said Yadav, who defined neither “decency” nor “irregularities”.
The district magistrate of Darjeeling and the police chiefs of both the districts were also present at the meeting.
The members of the bar owners’ association said they were ready to follow the guidelines. “We have agreed to follow the directives of the administration to check irregularities and prevent untoward incidents while conducting business,” said Devindar Singh Chhabra, the president of the association.
Chhabra said most of the guidelines had been followed earlier too, except for the CCTVs. “And I don’t know what they meant by decency. None of our performers are indecent. Installing CCTVs and sending footages regularly: this is something new.”
The code comes a month after a youth in a Pradhannagar bar was beaten up allegedly by bouncers. He died two days later. Two persons were arrested in connection with his death.
Since then the Trinamul Congress has been clamouring for the shutdown of bars.
While the meeting was going on today, Trinamul supporters demonstrated on the circuit house premises.
“We will continue with our agitation against bars with performers and we demand that the administration immediately ban all such bars in and around the city,” said Dhiman Bose, a district Youth Trinamul leader.
Rickshaw ride cut short, runaway boys home
TT, Jalpaiguri, Nov. 18: The presence of mind of a rickshaw puller in Siliguri helped track down two runaway teenagers who were reunited with their parents today.
The two boys, who are neighbours in Rayakatpara in Jalpaiguri, had left for school on Tuesday morning but did not return home. The parents filed missing persons’ diary with the Jalpaiguri Kotwali police the same evening. Both the boys are students of the same school. The principal had told the parents that though the boys had stepped out of their houses in their uniforms, they had not showed up for classes. A probe later revealed that they had not boarded the school bus either.
Today, the boys said they had run away after faring badly in their school examinations.
According to police, the duo — one a student of Class VIII and the other a grade junior — had taken a private bus to Mainaguri from where they boarded a New Jalpaiguri-bound train. They had spent the night on an empty platform at NJP where other people were also sleeping.
Yesterday evening they left the station area and took a share taxi to Ashighar Colony on the outskirts of Siliguri. Although under Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Ashighar Colony is under Bhaktinagar police station of Jalpaiguri.
The boys had taken a rickshaw and had asked the rickshaw-puller to take them to a lodge. Rickshaw puller Hari Das smelt something amiss and took them to Rabilal Roy, a clerk in the central intelligence. Hari is a tenant in Roy’s house. Roy said the boys’ schoolbags and uniforms had stood out, and it was evident they had run away from home.
“When I asked them where they lived, one of them said he was from Balurghat. The other said he was from Behrampore. It was evident they were not telling the truth. When I told them that I would hand them over to the police, they opened their schoolbags and took out their diaries. I looked up their addresses. It was around 9.30pm when I called up their homes and informed the parents that the boys were safe with me,” he said.
Roy then called up the Bhaktinagar police station to brief them on the boys. “An officer arrived and spoke to the boys. He then informed the Kotwali police station (where the missing diaries had been filed). The boys’ parents came in a car around 3am today and took them away. The police were also present,” Roy said.
Fish trader Mithu Shah, the father of one of the boys, said this morning it was true his son had fared badly in the exams but nobody had scolded him for it. Dhaneswar Mahato, an employee of the food supplies department, also said his son, too, was not pulled up for doing badly. “In fact, he did badly in the first phase of the unit test but fared better in the exams that followed. There is no question of scolding him,” Mahato said.
Shah’s son said he was carrying with him the Rs 3,200 he had got as gift from relatives during Chhat Puja. He denied that he had Rs 30,000 with him. A boy from Mal had called up the Shah residence to say the two teenagers were carrying Rs 30,000.
The boy had befriended the Jalpaiguri teenagers at a private tutorial. “I had told two of our friends that we were going away, but I never had so much money on me,” the boy said.
The principal of the school said the duo and their parents had been counselled. “I have also told the parents to see to it that this is not repeated,” the principal said.
CM for more vocational courses
SNS, KOLKATA, 18 NOV: With a record number of 10.5 lakh candidates appearing at the Madhyamik examinations this year, chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said avenues have to be sought for those who fail to pursue higher education.
While inaugurating Nibedita Bhavan ~ the newly constructed building of the West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education at Salt Lake ~ Mr Bhattacharjee urged the school education minister to work along with the Technical Education and Training department to equip students with job skills.
Mr Bhattacharjee said there is a need to impart skill-based training to students as there is a huge demand for skilled manpower in the organised and unorganised sectors.  
The Technical Education and Training department already offers vocational training to students. But the initiative of a single department is not enough, Mr Bhattacharjee said. He asked school education minister Mr Partha De to work along with the Technical Education and Training department so that a number of vocational courses can be introduced besides conventional courses.
Mr Bhattacharjee said a significant number of students are first generation learners and weak in studies. The vocational courses may help these students to excel in the skills that are imparted to them. 
This apart, schools should arrange additional classes for students who are weak in studies to bring them at par with the rest of the class, Mr Bhattacharjee said. It may be recalled that the Union human resource development minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, said at a programme in the city last month that the ministry would constitute a “national vocational education framework” within a year to equip students from Class VIII onwards with job skills. Once the framework is prepared, the Central Board of Secondary Education would introduce subjects such as carpentry and manufacturing.
Madhyamik questions in Hindi, Urdu also
The West Bengal Board of Madrassa Education will publish question papers of all subjects in Madhyamik examinations, 2011 in both Hindi and Urdu apart from Bengali and English.

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