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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Morcha rules out CM election condition Civic polls only, repeats outfit

TT, Kalimpong, Dec. 1: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it had no problems with civic elections being held in the Darjeeling hills but was opposed to rural polls, a matter, the party claimed, was weighing heavily on the chief minister’s mind and “forcing his government to its knees”.
A Morcha rally in Darjeeling
Bimal Gurung’s party was reacting to the chief minister’s attempt yesterday to link the actualisation of the interim administration for the hills to the holding of elections to the urban and rural local bodies in the region.
Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang said: “If at all the panchayat elections are held, it must be for three-tier panchayats.”
Recently at a meeting with party workers, Morcha president Bimal Gurung had said his party was ready to fight the municipal elections. But he had said there was no question of rural polls till the territorial jurisdiction of the interim set-up was sorted out. The panchayat election 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 — as part of the new establishment are in the panchayat areas.
Tamang also said the body to run the interim administration can in no way be an elected one since the tenure of the set-up will only be for two years. Bhattacharjee in his Calcutta speech had also said that elected, and not nominated representatives, should run the set-up.
“Bhattacharjee is speaking not as the chief minister but as the representative of the party housed in Alimuddin Street,” said Tamang, referring to the CPM headquarters in Calcutta. 
Binay Tamang  (Suman Tamang)
The Morcha assistant secretary also said the fact the chief minister devoted as much as 13 minutes of his speech to the affairs in the Darjeeling hills was a sure sign that his government had come down to its knees insofar as the tripartite negotiations were concerned. 
“Earlier, the chief minister only used to touch on issues concerning the hills during his visits to north Bengal. The fact that he dwelled on Darjeeling for such a long time in Calcutta betrays the fact that his government has been forced to its knees. What we must understand is that the negotiations we are having involve three parties — Morcha, the Centre and the state government — and no single side can impose its will,” he said.

TH, KOLKATA: A day after Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ruled out an interim council for the Darjeeling hills without elections in the region, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership said on Wednesday that “it was not scared of elections” but maintained that the proposed set-up should comprise nominated and not elected members.
“We are not scared of elections. But what is being proposed is a council for an interim period; as such it is only reasonable that the body whose term will lapse after two years comprise nominated members,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi.
Leaders of the non-GJM Democratic Front however “welcomed” the Chief Minister's contention that there is need for elections in the hills for any set-up to be put in place as there were other political parties in the region too who ought to be given an opportunity to prove their strength.
“We welcome his observation. This has been our stand-point all along. We have been insisting that all political parties in the hills be consulted on the matter,” Dawa Sherpa, convenor of the Democratic Front, which comprises five non-GJM regional parties, said from Darjeeling.
The Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, a major constituent of the Democratic Front, however, was critical of the Chief Minister's ruling on the setting up of a separate Gorkhaland State. “It is for Parliament to decide on the matter,” party spokesperson Narayan Chettri said.
The GJM leadership, meanwhile, is awaiting the announcement of a date for the holding of political-level tripartite talks to finalise an agreement on the setting up of the interim regional authority proposed for the Darjeeling hills.
“We are hopeful that a date for the discussions will be announced by the Centre very soon”, Mr Giri said.
The GJM has given a call for a cease-work in all government offices in the Darjeeling hills from December 6 to press its demand for early tripartite talks. It has also threatened a 48-hour bandh in the region from December 21 if the agreement for the setting up of the regional authority is not signed by the day before.
Buddha ballot idea ‘foolish’ 
TT, Jalpaiguri, Dec. 1: Former DGHC chairperson Subash Ghisingh today said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was not treading the right path by demanding elections to the panchayats and the municipalities in the hills.
“There is no need for elections. I am saying once again that the state government should resurrect the 2005 agreement on the Sixth Schedule and only after putting it in place, should the elections be held,” Ghisingh said.
The GNLF chief said what Bhattacharjee had stated at a Left Front rally in Calcutta yesterday was “total foolishness”.
“I am warning the chief minister that what he is suggesting will not be for the betterment of the hills,” he said.
Ghisingh, who had been claiming for sometime that he would soon visit the hills, once again said: “I can go any day up to the hills to hold a GNLF rally any day now.”
It has been 21 months since Ghisingh was hounded out of the hills by supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and since then, he has been living in a rented house in the Collegepara area of town.
Today, escorted by the police, Ghisingh visited the Jalpesh and Kali temples and the palace here.
“No request for early polls”
TH, KOLKATA: No political party in West Bengal has yet demanded early Assembly polls that are due next year, Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi said here on Wednesday.
Leaders of registered political parties had met him but none demanded bringing forward the elections, he said.
This despite frequent statements made in public by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee over the past months that elections in the State would be held earlier than scheduled.
“So far as the dates of the election are concerned the Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi has made it clear much earlier. I have nothing more to say on the subject”, Mr Zutshi told journalists.
Silver yields cash for archer 
TT, Gangtok, Dec. 1: Star archer Tarundeep Rai was presented with Rs 10 lakh by the Sikkim government last evening for winning silver in the archery at the recent Asian Games in China.
Taking a cue from the feats of Tarundeep, who won bronze in Delhi Commonwealth Games in October also, the state government announced an archery academy at Kamrang in South Sikkim.
The cheque for Rs 10 lakh and a citation from the government were handed over to Tarundeep by Sikkim Speaker K.T. Gyalsten in the presence of sports minister N.K. Pradhan, Gangtok mayor K.N. Tobgay and a host of representatives of different sports association in the state.
“We had never imagined that such a day would come where we could honour a Sikkimese sport person who had won silver in the Asian Games (in Guangzhou). It is not the victory of Tarundeep but the victory of Sikkim and the country,” said the Speaker.
The sports minister extended congratulations to Tarundeep on behalf of the chief minister, Sikkim government and people of the state. “We are very proud that an individual from a small state like Sikkim has represented a vast country like India and won silver in the Asian Games. He has achieved what many of us only dream,” he said.
Pradhan said chief minister Pawan Chamling had told him that the government would soon open a state academy for archery. “The land for the academy has already been selected at Kamrang in South Sikkim. The academy will provide training to the archery talents of Sikkim living in rural areas,” he said.
Tarundeep who reached Sikkim yesterday was accorded a grand reception at Rangpo, the entry point to the state. He was feted all the way to Gangtok.
More than the financial assistance and adulation, the silver medal was the fulfilment of a promise given by Tarundeep here on October 24. “It was during a press meet here on October 24 that I made a promise to the people of Sikkim. I said at the Asian Games, I would change the colour of the medal I had won in the Commonwealth Games. Call it destiny, it was on November 24 when I performed in the individual archery in Guangzhou and won the silver medal after defeating five strong opponents,” said Tarundeep.
“After giving the promise, I realised that I would face tough competition from archers of China and Korea. But as I had already given the commitment, I worked hard and the blessings of the Sikkimese also helped,” said Tarundeep.
He told journalists that only an Olympic gold remained after bronze in the Commonwealth Games and silver in the Asian Games. “Now my target is to win the Olympic gold. I will train hard at the Army Sports Institute in Pune.”
The 26-year-old archer thanked the people and the government for the felicitation given to him.
“There are several talented sport persons in Sikkim who are starting out in their chosen fields. The government should regularly felicitate them so that they get encouraged from the grassroots level. If they get good support from the government, they will bring glory to the state and the nation,” said Tarundeep.
Gorkha Rashtriya Congress President to fulfil responsibility
Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, GANGTOK, December 1: The new president of Gorkha Rastriya Congress (GRC), Nima Lama today asserted that he will be giving continuity to the activities of the party which had suffered a setback following the death of founding president DK Bomzan.
Bomzan, a strong advocate for restoration of lost territories of Darjeeling region with Sikkim, had expired on October 7.
Lama was chosen by the party central body to take charge as the new GRC president on October 14.
“I was chosen as the GRC president on October 14 during the central executive committee meeting. I will try my level best to fulfill my responsibility. We will give continuity to the activities initiated by our late president to restore the lost territories of Darjeeling with Sikkim. We will hold public meetings in various places at both Darjeeling and Sikkim”, said Lama in a press meet here at Gangtok.
The GRC president was accompanied by Amar Luksom (secretary), Bharat Dong (chief advisor), Subodh Pakhrin (national chief coordinator), Lakpa Lama (convener) and Niren Rai (GRC Sikkim unit president) in the press meet.
One of the immediate steps taken up by the new GRC leadership was to do follow up on the RTI filed by Bomzan with the Sikkim government on how and when the historical territories of Sikkim in Darjeeling became part of West Bengal.
With the applicant passing away, Lama filed a fresh RTI on November 29 with the home department. “I have been informed that my RTI application has been forwarded to the concerned department and I am expecting a reply within 45 days”, he said.
“We will be organizing a seminar on the current political scenario in Sikkim and Darjeeling and also on our core issue at Kalimpong soon.”, Lama said. He also informed that the GRC conducted an indoor meeting at Pakyong in East Sikkim yesterday.
A committee with TB Pant has been formed at Pakyong after the meeting, said the GRC president.
SPARK NGO educates public on HIV and AIDS
Sheetal Pradhan, KalimNews, SINGTAM: SPARK, a local NGO from Singtam observed World Aids Day today with an AIDS awareness campaign educating the general public of Singtam On the occasion, the members of SPARK interacted with the common people on the streets of Singtam; distributed pamphlets and posters. More than 280 red ribbons were tied by the members of the NGO to the general public.
Speaking on the occasion, Praveen Pradhan, President SPARK told that, entire globe is fighting against this dreaded disease and if we can contribute in educating people about AIDS it can be a significant contribution. Most of our members in SPARK are youth and we believe we too have our role to play for better society and healthy Sikkim, he added.
SPARK members also attended the Aids day program held at Marwari Dharamsala organized by VHAS. Nangshel Sherpa, Vice President of SPARK NGO went on to say such educating program should not be limited to a particular day and everybody should have a responsibility to make a better tomorrow.(Courtesy-Sheetal Pradhan)
Hills show way on AIDS message
TT, Kalimpong, Dec. 1: Rallies, skit, blood donation camps and various other programmes were today organised in different parts of Kalimpong subdivision which joined the rest of the country in observing World AIDS Day.
A rally was taken out through the heart of town in the morning to spread AIDS awareness. Schoolchildren, members of NGOs and government officials took part in the procession organised jointly by the Kalimpong Subdivisional Hospital and Disha, an NGO.
Students carried placards bearing slogans on this year’s World AIDS Day theme, “universal access and human rights”. Some of them read: “No refusal to HIV victims”, “AIDS ko upchar chaina, surakshit basnohos (There is no cure for AIDS, remain safe),” and “education is the only prevention”. “We gave the students the theme; which is universal access and human rights and they coined the slogans,” said Suva Ratna Pradhan, the subdivisional medical officer of health and superintendent of the subdivisional hospital here.
The medical officer said after the launch of the integrated counselling and testing centre (ICTC) at the subdivisional hospital in November 2008, 81 people had tested HIV positive.
“I do not have the break-up to give the number of people diagnosed with HIV positive in the first year. But 39 HIV positive cases have been recorded at the ICTC from November 2009 till date. Of them, 24 are men, 13 women and two children. After the ICTC was set up, 12 persons have died of AIDS in the subdivision,” said Pradhan.
The subdivisional hospital also has a Link Anti-Retroviral Treatment Centre, where 35 HIV positive patients are registered. “Of the 35 patients, 15 are being treated at the Link ART Centre, while the rest have been admitted to different hospitals in north Bengal,” said Pradhan.
Apart from the ICTC and Link ART Centre, Pradhan said, the hospital also runs an STD clinic and conducts the revived national tuberculosis programme.
“HIV positive patients are prone to TB. The HIV-TB co-ordination record is very good in the hospital. This means early detection of TB and quicker treatment, which consequently leads to reduction in mortality rate,” said the medical officer.
As part of the World AIDS Day, a skit with a message on AIDS awareness was enacted in front of the subdivisional hospital by a troupe. Later, the hospital and an NGO, Kalyan, organised a blood donation camp at Dungra Busty, 2km from here.
Border crossed for a cause 
TT, Panitanki (Indo-Nepal Border), Dec. 1: Around 200 people from India, mainly transport workers, crossed the border today to spread AIDS awareness in a Nepal town.
They went to the neighbouring country in a procession to mark the World AIDS Day. The rally was organised jointly by the Hind Mazdoor Sabha of Nepal and the Nepal Transport Workers’ Union, affiliated to the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
“HIV positive people count mainly among drivers and migrant construction workers. Even our neighbouring country is facing a similar problem. To spread awareness of the disease, the two trade unions, along with local organisations, are taking out the cross-border rally. It will be the first such initiative in the border area,” said Samir Roy, the national secretary of the Hind Mazdoor Sabha.
The rally with a message “act aware” started from Panitanki, 45km from Siliguri, and crossed the Mechi Bridge to reach Kakarvitta in Nepal, covering a distance of 1km.
A street corner meeting was held at Kakarvitta and leaflets with information on AIDS were distributed among the people.
A drop-in centre to counsel AIDS patients was also opened at Panitanki today.
Lama lecture in Singapore
TT, Gangtok: Mahendra P. Lama, the founding vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, will address a gathering at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. He will speak on “benefits of co-operation in the Himalayan river basin countries of Bangladesh, China, India and Nepal”. A media release from the varsity said the two-day workshop beginning on Thursday would be organised jointly by the Strategic Foresight Group and the Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Paper leak accused arrested
Prabin Khaling, KalimNews, Gangtok: The Gangtok Sadar police has achieved a breakthrough in the CBSE Class IX question paper leak case with the arrested of two students of Modern Secondary School here. The duo, Hemant Tak (18) and Prakash Kumar Prasad (20) have been arrested and charges of theft and criminal conspiracy under sections 379, 500, 120B and 34 of IPC have been registered against them at Gangtok Sadar police station.
Gorkha Development Council (GDC) Executive Council took charge from today
Archana Rai, KalimNews, Guwahati : The long awaited Gorkha Development Council (GDC), a result of years long result of the agitation of the influential apex organizations of the Gorkha community of Assam the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU)  was ceremonially formed  and accorded charge today at the Welfare of Plain Tribe (WPT) conference hall at Rukminigoan in the capital today. 
Nanda Kirati Dewan
Sources from the Ministry of WPT confirmed that the ceremonial function was held at 2pm which was graced  by the WPT and Agriculture Minister Mrs. Pramila Rani Brahma and Prnicipal Secy of the ministry. Leaders inducted in the council confirmed that the executive council of the GDC  consists of 23 members out of which 21 members are community representatives and organizations members. 
Mr. Loknath Upadhyay Executive President of the Assam Gorkha Sanmelan is selected Chief of the GDC though there had been a huge demand for inducting Mr. Dil Bahadur Limboo former President of AAGSU as ‘Deputy Chief’ as goodwill humble gesture towards the main agitating organization since the time he discontinued to be the President the organization after the Morigoan Special Convention of AAGSU. 
Former AAGSU Vice President Padam Bariely and GACDC Vice President Ajay Subba are the two representatives of AAGSU who were formally inducted in GDC.
In a move to satisfy the demand of the Gorkha Autonomous Council carried out by the AAGSU, the government has decided to form this GDC in lieu of GAC. The Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had declared this in January 2007 in an ‘Open Session’ of Assam Gorkha Sanmelan the paternal organization of the Gorkhas of Assam, which was chaired by the former Tezpur MP and the President of All Assam Other Backward Caste (OBC) Association Mani Kumar Subba who is also the President of the Assam Gorkha Sanmelan. 
Reacting to the formation of the GDC, Designated Information and Publicity Secretary of AAGSU Nanda Kirati Dewan said, “The demand of Gorkha Autonomous Council(GAC)  stands alive despite formation of Gorkha Development Council (GDC) and we welcome it but do not accept  it  in lieu of GAC.’ He further added, ‘We are not at all happy with the way and process of formation of GDC and selection of leaders were undertaken. The congress government transformed the GDC as their own trump card to allure the Gorkhas ahead of the forth coming Assembly election and was not transparent at all as many as local congress leaders from Gorkha dominated area have been inducted in the GDC. A statement to effect will be made at Dekiajuli executive meeting’.
Interestingly no one other than the listed 21 members were invited to the swearing ceremony which is very conspiring and as per information from a reliable source that guideline for the GDC were not prepared so far. General Secretary of the GDC Formation Co-ordination Committee Arun Upadhya who is also the Administrative General Secretary of Assam Gorkha Sanmelan  is completely tight lipped on this issue. AAGSU will make a statement on GDC on 5th December Sunday at Dekhiajuli executive meeting said Mr. Dewan when asked to react on not receiving any official invitation to attend the ceremonial function. Mr. Dil Bahadur Limboo. Harka Bahadur Chetri President GACDC, former AAGSU Advisor Bhaskar Dahal and senior AAGSU leaders were not available for any comments.(Courtesy-Archana Rai)
Murder FIR on police
TT, Siliguri, Dec. 1: The brother of Gautam Pal, who was found dead in a police lock-up, has brought murder charge against the inspector in charge of Pradhannagar police station and two other officers in a fresh complaint.
In the-four page complaint filed with Pradhannagar police station today, Jiten Pal alleged that IC Dipankar Som along with sub-inspector P.K. Barman and assistant sub-inspector D.K. Bakshi had tortured and murdered Gautam. The 30-year-old youth was in police remand for three days after he had been arrested for allegedly stealing a motorcycle.
“I firmly believe that my brother has not committed suicide in the bathroom of police lockup as claimed by policemen but was tortured and murdered. These three police officials, along with some others, were involved in the murder,” said Jiten, who has handed over a copy of the complaint to Siliguri deputy superintendent of police Sitaram Sinha.
“I have seen injury marks on my brother’s body which indicated physical torture and surprisingly, there was no mark on his neck.” Gautam’s body had been found hanging from a ventilator in the lockup on Monday.
Jiten has also accused the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) of drafting a fabricated post-mortem report, which indicated he had committed suicide.
“We suspect that the doctor at the NBMCH who did the post mortem wrote out a false autopsy report in connivance with Pradhannagar police station,” he said.
Around 11.30am, more than 100 people assembled at the police station, shouting slogans and demanding action against the policemen. The demonstration continued for more than an hour and was withdrawn after DSP Sinha spoke to the agitators.
“We have already suspended two policemen. People should have faith in us as we are not shirking our responsibility,” he said.
Jiten said copies of the complaints were being sent to the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, the director of CBI, the Union Home minister and also to civil and police officials of the state like the chief secretary and the director general of police.
Sinha said the fresh complaint would supplement the first FIR filed by Jiten on Monday. That FIR did not have any specific names.

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