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Friday, November 19, 2010

Morcha ready to fight civic elections... Union Territory only option ... Switch to GNLF

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Nov. 19: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is ready to take part in the municipal elections once the interim authority is established in the hills, signalling that it did not want to be identified as a party opposed to democratic norms.
“Once the interim set-up is put in place, we have no problems if elections to the municipality are held within a week,” Morcha president Bimal Gurung recently told party workers in Kalimpong.
The attempt at image makeover comes more than a year after the Morcha refused to allow civic elections in the hills as part of its non-co-operation movement against the state government.
Since then — August 2009 — the four hill municipalities of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik are being administered by a board of government officials.
The Morcha’s change in stand is also because it does not want to be inflexible when the deal for the interim authority is about to be sealed.
However, the Morcha said it would oppose elections to the gram panchayats until the territorial jurisdiction of the set-up was finalised.
The party also wants the eight blocks of the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong to be made into 32 units for better administration.
On the gram panchayat elections, Gurung, said there was no question of rural polls. “We have to first settle (the jurisdiction of) our territory. We have also realised that the eight blocks are too big to be administered efficiently and we might have to create 32 blocks,” said Gurung. The panchayat elections in the hills were last held in 2001. The Morcha has linked territory to rural polls because most of the mouzas that it wants in the plains — 104 in the Terai and 196 in the Dooars — to be part of the set-up is in the panchayat areas.
The state government and the Centre had been suggesting elections to the local bodies, like municipalities and gram panchayats, so that members running the interim authority could be nominated from among the elected local body members. The idea is to have in the interim authority members who are, at least indirectly elected. The Morcha, on the other hand, wants all members of the interim body to be nominated.
“The government wants elections to the interim body, which we don’t want. This is our stand. Why should we elect members for a five-year term when the interim set-up is only for two years? Come out with a final solution (after the two-year period) and hold as many elections you would want,” said Gurung.
Observers say Gurung’s readiness to fight the municipality elections stems from the urge to prove his rivals wrong and uproot at least one sting out of their propaganda.
“The Democratic Front had recently met the governor in Darjeeling and demanded that democracy must be restored in the hills and elections be held to both the municipalities and the gram panchayats. The Morcha probably is trying to dilute the issue by showing that it wanted to contest the election,” said an observer.
Gurung also tried to liken the interim set-up with the interim government that was formed before the Independence.
“Before India achieved Independence, there had been an interim government,” he said to justify the set-up. The interim government of India, headed by Jawaharlal Nehru was formed on September 2, 1946, after the British decided to grant freedom to India. However, contrary to Gurung’s claim, there is no clear announcement of an administrative solution on the hills after the Gorkhaland Regional Authority’s tenure comes to an end on December 31, 2012.
Union Territory only option left for govt: Giri
TT, Siliguri, Nov. 19: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Roshan Giri today said the Centre had little option but to confer Union Territory status on Darjeeling once the tenure of the proposed interim set-up ended after two years.
Asked if the Morcha would demand Union Territory once the period of the interim set-up was over, Giri replied: “As we have already rejected the proposal of Sixth Schedule and our demand is for a separate state, the Union government has to decide on those lines. They do not have any other option (but confer Union Territory before they give statehood).”
Giri was speaking on the sidelines of a party rally in Salugara, 7km from Siliguri, where he had come to attend an organisational meeting of the Morcha.
He told the 500-odd supporters gathered at the spot that the party has not compromised with their ultimate target of a separate state. He asked them not to get confused as the interim body was only for two years.
“We have agreed to a set- up just as a temporary arrangement without compromising the separate statehood demand. Our ultimate goal is to achieve Gorkhaland. We have also demanded that the Gorkha-dominated areas in the Terai and the Dooars should be included in the set-up, which has to be identified by sending a joint verification committee comprising the representatives from government and our party,” he said.
The meeting organised by the Bhaktinagar block committee of the hill outfit was also attended by Morcha media and publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the chief co-ordinator of Morcha’s Terai branch Shankar Adhikary and other central committee leaders.
Switch to GNLF & more rival inroads

TT, Darjeeling, Nov. 19: The rivals of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha are slowly but steadily making inroads into the hills. At least nine ex-servicemen, so long Morcha members, joined the GNLF yesterday.
The GNLF claimed that other Morcha supporters, too, have started switching their allegiance, a day after the Democratic Front — a rival conglomerate comprising the CPRM, GNLF (C), ABGL and Darjeeling-Sikkim Ekikaran Manch — announced its decision to hold a seminar and a public meeting in Darjeeling in December.
“We have formed our party’s village committee at the Senchel dairy area in Ghoom-Jorebunglow yesterday. Forty houses (families) have now joined the GNLF. Anil Rai has been made the president of the committee while Sadip Rai is the general secretary,” said Sivaraj Thapa, media and publicity secretary of the GNLF’s Darjeeling branch committee.
J.B. Subba, president of the Morcha-affiliated Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha (Risheehat zone), joined the GNLF along with eight former ex-serviceman at Borbotey village, 14km from town.
The switchover was a fallout of the attack on the house of Man Hang Subba, the president of the GNLF’s Borbotey Village Committee, by alleged Morcha supporters on November 14.
“We had supported Bimal Gurung on Gorkhaland but things have changed now. We want peace in the area and if the Morcha indulges in violence, we can never stay with such a party,” said Subba who is Man Hang’s father.
In another example of rival inroad, the DYFI, the youth wing of the CPM, today held its first meeting in Darjeeling after two years. “The DYFI Darjeeling-Bijanbari zonal committee had last held a meeting in Darjeeling in March 2008,” said Shyam Pradhan, the president of the DYFI’s Darjeeling zilla committee.
In fact, the CPM had to close down its office in Darjeeling for almost a year during 2008-09. The DYFI leader claimed that they had already started a membership drive. “We have enrolled about 500 youths in 2010 itself,” claimed Pradhan.
The CPM youths have also decided to hold a seminar in Darjeeling on December 10 to coincide with the International Human Rights Day. “We are reaching out to the masses on the plank of democracy, peace and development,” said Pradhan.
The DYFI has demanded that the gram panchayat elections be held immediately to give the people the political right to elect their representatives.
Yesteryear players ready for soccer fight

Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, Nov. 19: Fog or no fog, a galaxy of veteran footballers from the state and from neighbouring countries will be out to prove that they aren’t a bunch of old fogies when the Veteran Football Tournament kicks off at the Mela Ground here on November 29.
In all, 17 teams from different parts of Bengal, Sikkim, Manipur and neighbouring countries of Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh will take part in the meet being organised by the Kalimpong Veterans’ Club (KVC).
“We are organising this tournament in memory of Olympian Chandan Singh Rawat, who hailed from the hills. The winning team will get the trophy named after him and a cash prize of Rs 10,000. The runner-up will get a trophy and Rs 5,000,” said Dhendup Bhutia, the KVC secretary.
Traditionally, the football season is from June/July to September/October in the hills. This year though the season has extended well into the early part of the winter.
However, Kalimpong doesn’t need to be concerned about winter fog which disrupted a semifinal match of the All India Brigade of Gurkha Gold Cup in Darjeeling yesterday.
“Indeed, the weather here is suitable for football around this time. During the traditional football season, the ground becomes heavy because of rain, and consequently, physically more taxing. So, there are greater chances of players getting injured during the match. Now the pitch is nice and dry and just about perfect for the old heroes to display their skills,” said Samten Kabo, the KVC treasurer and former footballer.
Among the old heroes to be seen in action are Suren Tamang and Mahendra Subba from Darjeeling, and former Sikkim star Suresh Mukhia. Both had played for Calcutta club Aryans in the early eighties.
“Yesteryear’s national players from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal will also play in the tournament,” said Bhutia.
The final of the knockout tournament will be played on December 5.
Apart from organising tournaments, the KVC runs the Kalimpong Football Academy to train young soccer aspirants. It offers relief to needy people in times of crisis.
“Basically, we want to contribute in our limited ways to the society through sports or other activities. We thought of organising the veterans’ tournament to promote healthy relations between players of different eras from the region,” said Bhutia.
From this year, the club has also introduced the inter-office tournament to provide recreation to overworked babus. The 12-team tournament kicked off at the Mela Ground today.
Gurkha cup
Army XI will face Calcutta-based Southern Samity in the final of the All India Brigade of Gurkha Gold Cup on November 21.
Southern Samity reached the final, beating BNR Kolkata by a solitary goal from its striker Jamir Ali Mondal in the 13th minute of play in Darjeeling on Friday.
The final will be played from 1.30, instead of 2.15 pm, and the cultural programme will start at 12.30pm.
Sudesh Pradhan to receive Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar and Prabin Khaling to be felicitated for contribution in Journalism
KalimNews,kalimpongonlinews,,Kalimpong, 2 November: Social worker Sudesh Pradhan will be conferred with Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar an award instituted by Kalimpong Press Club. On the occasion of the Club's 12th foundation day and National Press Day the award will be presented to Pradhan for his service to the needy and helpless. Pradhan is serving in Calcutta police.
Pradhan a true social worker by heart who helped and is helping people needing medical assistance in Kolkata will be honoured with 3rd Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar.
Prabin Khaling a member of Press Club of Sikkim and a a staff photo journalist of The Telegraph and correspondents of several Nepali and Hindi daily News Paper, will be felicitated as a young and budding journalist for his valiant effort and contribution in the field of Journalism. On the occasion of its foundation day the Club will felicitate a journalist preferably a non local every year starting from this year.
Khaling and Pradhan will be felicitated on 20th November 2010 in the Ramkrishna Ranga Manch, Kalimpong during the Club's 12th foundation day cum Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar ceremony.
The objective of initiating Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar is to encourage and honour distinguished persons of Kalimpong Sub Division who have contributed in any of the fields like Adventure (including rescue), Agriculture(all allied fields), Sports & Athletics, Business, Education, Environment, Literature, Journalism (Print and Electronic), Politics (Creative Politics), Profession (all), Social Service, Health Service, Medical Science and Research / Studies etc. The award includes a memento , angavastra (shawl) and a citation.
It has an objective to encourage the recipient who is under 60 years and is a less familiar face and not priviledged with awards or felicitated elsewhere and a present or past resident of Kalimpong. In the year 2008 three prominent figures Mr. Manoj Dahal, Mount Everest Climber, Mr. Bharat Chhetri, National Hockey player and Dr. Mikthuk S. Foning, an eminent Horticulturist were honoured with 1st Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar.Mr. Sukh bahadur Tamang, a rafting rescuer of Triveni, Teesta was also felicitated for his outstanding rescue operations of the dead and living in disasters, flood and accidents.
Mr. Lalit Golay a renowned film and video actor, comedian, story writer, lyricist and director (all rounder of Bhanu Ra Pala)was honoured with 2nd Kaleybung Ratna Puraskar for his contribution in the field of Drama, Film and Video in the year 2009.
The club's news blog Kalimpong News ( will be upgraded to website on the same occasion.Prof. Dr.M.P.Lama Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University will be the chief guest of the programme in which an inter college extempore contest will be organised in Nepali and English.A draft copy of the Club's Yellow page project INFODEX will be released on the day.
Band braves ban for a blare - Iran metal musicians to rock Gangtok on sunday
TT, Gangtok, Nov. 19: Heavy metal may be underground in Iran but government restrictions have not stopped a bunch of musicians from reaching other parts of the world, even Sikkim, with a message on the glorious history of their country.
And all this done in the format of death metal — a genre of heavy metal music popularised in the 80s.
Arsames, the death metal band from Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, has landed here to perform at the Sikkim Music Fest at Paljor Stadium on Sunday. The event has been conceptualised by Defenders of Metal in Darjeeling and is being managed by the Alpine Attitude Events, Gangtok.
“Death metal, a genre of heavy metal music, usually associates itself with darker sides of life. But Arsames is not looking at it in that way. Our music tells people about the ancient civilisation of Persia and the proud history of the Iranian people. We speak about the ancient Persian empire. Our lyrics are about civilisation from where we come,” said Ali Madarshahi, the band’s vocalist.
The other members of the band set up in 2000 are Ahmad Tokalloo and Morteza Shahrami on guitar, Rouzbeh Zourchang on bass guitar and Saeed Shariat on drums. They all reached Gangtok yesterday.
Arsames members said the current governance system in Iran had hit the growth of heavy metal and prevented bands from public performances.
“Things are difficult for heavy metal in Iran. But it has also helped us work harder. In Iran, heavy metal is forbidden as the government believes it is about Satan. Only pop and traditional music are allowed. We do our music underground and organise shows secretly,” said an Arsames performer.
Without the Iranian government’s permission, the Arsames has crossed borders and performed at metal fests in Dubai, Turkey and Slovakia and now, Gangtok beckons. This is also the first time the band is performing in India.
Shivendra Rai of the Defenders of Metal got in touch with the Arsames and managed to convince the band to play in the Sikkim fest.
“We all belong to metal family and such connection happens all the time in this world of Facebook. It is a great honour for the band to be part of the Sikkim Music Fest. Our band does not neglect any opportunity to showcase our talents in any part of the world. People love music and it will be worthwhile to come all the way from Iran and perform here,” said Shahrami.
He said the Iranian band would be playing 13 tracks from its newly released album Immortal Identity, which consists of three covers, one instrumental and their own compositions.
Hozo has said the music fest is the biggest event in Sikkim-Darjeeling region. Sabin Rai and X-Mantra from Nepal and a band from Guwahati will also rock the event.
Local act, Still Waters, too, will perform, along with Dark Murder Scheme from Darjeeling. Kusang Tamang of Grungy Morphins, Darjeeling, will give a solo guitar performance.
Parishad expels Lakra
TT, Jaigaon, Nov.19: Rajesh Lakra, a former general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, was expelled from the party today.
John Barla, president of the Parishad’s Dooars and Terai regional unit, said Lakra had been expelled from the organisation for anti-party activities. Lakra had submitted his resignation on September 7, but it was not accepted. Lakra had organised a meeting yesterday under the banner of a newly formed organisation Dooars Terai Adivasi Vikas Parishad. Barla said Lakra had misled the Parishad workers and the party would hold a meeting at Birpara on Sunday to expose his campaign against the organisation. He also said a new general secretary would be elected on Tuesday.
TT, Siliguri: Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya visited the North Bengal Dental College on Friday to inspect the construction of the boys’ hostel. The minister has instructed the PWD officials to complete the electrification work of the building and hand it over to the college authorities by mid-December.
TT, Siliguri: Mission Hospital in Durgapur will start a telemedicine facility at its outreach clinic at Hakim Para here from Saturday. Patients can talk to specialist doctors at the Durgapur hospital through video conferencing from the clinic. The facility will be inaugurated by Satyajit Bose, chairman of the hospital.
Job demand
TT, Jaigaon: Twelve non-teaching staff members of Eklavya Model Residential School, an institution for Scheduled Caste students at Nagrakata, have been observing a two-hour strike in the school since Thursday. The protesters have been demanding their recruitment as permanent staff in the school. The agitators have also submitted a memorandum to Prem Bardua, the backward class welfare officer of Jalpaiguri district, in this regard.
Census to focus on injured jumbos
TT, Jalpaiguri, Nov. 19: A three-day elephant census next week will focus on spotting injured animals alongside counting their numbers in the forests lying between the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary in the Terai and the Sankosh end of the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Dooars.
Forest department sources said one of the two elephants injured by the goods train on September 22 at Moraghat had been found dead and efforts would be made to locate the other one.
Seven elephants, including one calf, were killed by the speeding goods train on September 22 night.
“We will also try to locate two other injured elephants which entered the Damdim tea estate on October 8 and 14,” said a senior forest officer. He added that 350 elephants had been spotted in the last census in 2008, and the number was expected to cross the 400 mark this year.
The elephant count will be conducted on November 24, 25 and 26.
The divisional forest officer of Jalpaiguri wildlife, Sumita Ghatak, said vets of the animal resources welfare department would be part of the census team. “They will assist us in treating the injured elephants if we spot them. We will have eight observation camps in the core parts of the Dooars forests and four in the not-so-deep jungles,” said Ghatak.
Today, the forest department held a workshop for staff members and volunteers of a number of nature clubs and NGOs, who would take part in the census.
“We will be camping at fixed points in known elephant corridors and observe the movement of the animals. The census workers will also collect samples of droppings for laboratory analysis,” said Ghatak.

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