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Friday, December 10, 2010

HC rap for state in Nicole case

TNN, KOLKATA: The state government drew the ire of Calcutta high court on Thursday over an affidavit it submitted on murder accused Nicole Tamang going missing from CID custody.
The government said it had nothing to say on Nicole accused of murdering Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang fleeing from custody. The state sought to wash its hands of the case on a plea that the CBI had taken over investigation of the murder case.
The bench of Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice A K Ray refused to accept the state's submission. The bench observed that Nicole was untraceable even as he was supposed to be in state custody. "No steps have been taken yet against the officers who were on duty when the murder accused fled from custody. So, the state cannot shrug its responsibility in the Nicole missing case," the court said.
The bench then directed the investigating officer in the case to be present in court on December 20 with all relevant papers.
Nicole's wife Pema moved a habeas corpus petition, seeking to know where her husband was. Charged with murdering Madan in Darjeeling in May, Nicole was arrested on August 15.
He fled from CID custody on August 22, when he was being interrogated at a resort near Siliguri. Police failed to trace Nicole and later the murder probe was handed over to CBI.
TT, Calcutta, Dec 9: Calcutta High Court today directed the CID officer conducting the probe into the disappearance of Nickole Tamang, one of the main accused in the Madan Tamang murder case, to appear in the court on December 20 with documents related to the investigation.
The division bench of Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Asim Roy came down heavily on the CID for its failure to take action against the officers responsible for Nickole’s disappearance.
“How can the CID conduct the probe when the person concerned disappeared from its custody? Who had granted permission to the CID to take over Madan Tamang murder case from the police? Why had the CID not taken any action against the officers, who were responsible for Nickole Tamang’s disappearance?” asked the bench.
The state lawyer, Debabrata Roy, then told the court that the government had handed over the Madan Tamang probe to the CBI.
“Since the Madan Tamang murder case has been transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the central investigating agency will conduct probes on all related issues,” Roy said.
But the court declined to accept Roy’s argument and asked the CID investigating officer to appear in court.
The order followed a habeas corpus petition filed by Nickole’s wife Pema Tamang, seeking a directive to the authorities to produce her husband dead or alive before the court. She had also demanded a CBI probe into her husband’s disappearance.
Nickole was arrested on August 16 in connection with the murder of the ABGL president in Darjeeling on May 21.
Nickole allegedly escaped from CID custody from Pintail Village on the outskirts of Siliguri on August 22.
Ex-GNLF leader ups statehood cry
TNN, DARJEELING: Upping the cry for a separate state after his two-year exile from the Hills, Dawa Pakhrin, vice-president of Bharat Navrajya Nirman Mahasangh (BNNM) and former Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader from Kalimpong, left for Delhi to sit on a three-day dharna at the Jantar Mantar from December 12.
"We have to highlight the demand for a separate state at the national level rather then confining it to the Hills and state. Moreover, voices for the cause of Gorkhaland seem to be waning," said Pakhrin, who was GNLF Kalimpong unit's president. He severed ties with the party after its chief,
Subash Ghisingh, refused to voice his demand for a separate state but instead raked up the Sixth Schedule issue, which ultimately brought GNLF's downfall.
BNNM will reportedly chalk out plans to meet political leaders concerned in Delhi on December 11. "Members from 20 states will participate in the dharna. Our federation will sit for a meeting a day earlier to identify who to meet in Delhi," said Pakhrin.
Pakhrin and his supporters from GNLF had been ostracized by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), forcing them into exile in the plains of Siliguri in 2008. However, armed with a National Human Rights Commission order, Pakhrin made his way back to his house in Kalimpong in July this year.
The Union and state governments refused to entertain GJM's demand for creation of a separate state but proposed an interim council for the development of the region. Though GJM has accepted the temporary arrangement for two years, opposition parties are unwilling to accept it.
Before leaving for Delhi, the former GNLF leader hinted at floating a new party on his return. "For the time being, I will be under the BNNM banner. However, a new flag may rise in the Hills after I return," said Pakhrin.
Even as former GNLF leaders started joining other parties recently for political existence, Pakhrin refused to do so .
Upgrade carrot for hill schools- New recruits in primary institutions told to stay away from duty till probe ends
10zzhillbig.jpg (641×431)Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Dec. 9: The government has decided to upgrade 15 junior high schools after more than a decade — a move widely seen as part of the state initiative to stress for overall development of the hills
All these schools that teach till Class IV now will be upgraded to institution with classes till X.
T.K. Adhikari, a joint secretary of the state’s school education department, has issued the order to the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education secretary conveying the government’s recommendation with effect from February 1, 2011.
The order has also been forwarded to Shanta Chhetri, the Kurseong MLA who made it available to The Telegraph. Speaking over the phone from Calcutta, Chhetri said: “I had been repeatedly raising the demand for upgrading the schools for the past 10 years. In June this year, I had raised it in the Assembly and in November, I had met education minister Partha De to pursue the issue.”
Chhetri, however, said she was not satisfied with the government’s move. “For 10 years no schools were upgraded in the hills and today 45 schools from the hills have applied for the upgrade. Of them, the government has selected only 15. I am not satisfied. We want all the schools to be upgraded,” the MLA added.
Schools, which are being upgraded (see chart), will, however, have to follow certain guidelines.
All the upgraded schools will have to recruit its teaching staff strictly adhering to the School Service Commission Act, 1997, and the Control of Expenditure (of Schools) Act, 2005 “failing which order for upgradation will be reviewed”. These schools will also have to submit a no-objection certificate from the fire department within a year from the date of upgrade.
The director of education has been requested to allot three teaching posts to each of the upgraded schools.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated Janmukti Secondary Teacher’s Organisation had also been repeatedly demanding for upgrade of schools, appointment of headmasters and reguralisation of ad-hoc teachers in the hills.
The state of education in the hills has not been in the best of health for long. According to sources, the DGHC area has 41 high, 53 junior high and 34 higher secondary schools with a teaching strength of 1,350 of which 450 teachers have been recruited on ad-hoc basis many of whom have been serving in the institutions for the past two decades. The ad-hoc teachers were appointed following opposition to the implementation of the School Service Commission during 2000-01.
Bhisan Roka, the media and publicity secretary of the JSTO, had earlier said a district like North Dinajpur, which was smaller than the area occupied by the DGHC, had 106 high schools compared to 41 in the hills. “This clearly shows that the state government does not even want to upgrade schools in the hills.”
State-run schools like Kalimpong Government High School had to close down its science stream in 1993 because of dearth of teachers. There are allegations that 70 per cent of the posts in government schools, where teachers are recruited through the Public Service Commission, are currently lying vacant.
GJM may renew Gorkhaland demand
Darjeeling, Dec 9 (PTI): The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is holding talks with the Centre and the West Bengal government, might renew its demand for 'Gorkhaland' if its conditions for setting up an interim authority to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, are not fulfilled, a top GJM leader said today.
The GJM, at the fifth tripartite talks in New Delhi, had agreed to the constitution of an interim council for a duration of two years by 2011 prior to the creation of a separate state.
However, the four issues obstructing the interim authority are its territorial jurisdiction, authority to manage tea gardens, the selection of its members and the council's legislative powers.
"There is every possibility of revival of the demand for Gorkhaland carved out from West Bengal if the interim council is not granted the way the GJM wants to have it," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told.
We are not in a hurry
Darjeeling, Dec 8 (PTI): In an apparent climb down, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has called a 48-hour bandh in the Darjeeling hills from December 21 demanding setting up of an interim council, today said it was not in a hurry as its movement was geared for a separate Gorkhaland state.
"We are not in a hurry for the proposed interim set-up because our agitation is geared for Gorkhaland. If it happens it is alright," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri quoted party president Bimal Gurung as saying at a meeting at Sukhipokhari, 20 km away from here.
Giri also quoted Gurung as telling GJM activists that the state government was harping on panchayat and municipal elections as a pre-condition for the interim council, but claimed they were not scared of elections even if it was held in a span of 10 days.
Death injects life into heart care unit
TT, Siliguri, Dec. 9: The death of a doctor at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday night spurred the authorities to start the Intensive Coronary Care Unit yesterday evening, three years after it was shut down and a week ahead of the stipulated date of its re-opening.
The ICCU was scheduled to re-open on December 7, the NBMCH sources said, but it was postponed to the 15th of this month as some drugs and furniture were yet to arrive.
However, the atmosphere at the NBMCH grew tense yesterday after Mukul Mukhopadhyay's death. Members of the Junior Doctors’ Council (JDC) mounting pressure on the authorities to immediately start the ICCU. To mitigate the tension, the authorities decided to open it yesterday itself.
“The doctor suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to the ICU which is not equipped to treat heart diseases. Had the ICCU been functioning, he would have got specialised care as facilities to treat heart patients are available there. His chances of survival might have been better,” said Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, the secretary of the JDC’s NBMCH unit.
It’s sad it took Dr Mukhopadhyay's death to send the message to the NBMCH authorities, Bhowmik said.
“We had been agitating for the past three years to get the ICCU started but for some reason or the other the authorities kept delaying it. The death of Mukul Mukhopadhyay from cardiac arrest was an eye opener for the authorities,” said Prashanta Sarkar, the vice-president of the JDC’s state committee.
If a doctor at the NBMCH is deprived of specialised cardiac treatment then it is evident what is in store for poor patients who come to the NBMCH, Sarkar added.
Last month, too, the JDC members had threatened that they would go on an indefinite hunger strike if the specialist heart unit was not opened immediately.
The ICCU at the NBMCH — the sole referral hospital in north Bengal — was shut down three years ago because of lack of staff just three months after it opened.
The facility has six beds with two additional step-down beds (for recovering patients). Currently it has equipment like a cardiac monitor, a ventilator and a defibrillator.
“We had postponed the opening of the ICCU to December 15 since we were yet to gets some drugs and furniture. But after the death of a colleague from cardiac arrest on Tuesday, we thought it was best not to delay it any further. The charges for availing the ICCU facilities will be fixed in a day or two but it is sure that these would be quite less than rates charged by nursing homes. The pending requirements of drugs and furniture too, shall be fulfilled this week,” said Saibal Gupta, the NBMCH superintendent.
The ICCU, Gupta said, will be manned by two senior doctors and six medical officers from the cardiology department.
“They will be assisted by the residential medical officer, medical officers and house staff of the medicine department. Two nurses and Group D personnel will be present for each shift of seven hours. We have also placed requisition before higher authorities to appoint two specialist doctors and five medical officers for the ICCU. Some costly and sophisticated equipment are needed for which a proposal has also been sent,” Gupta said. However, as of now, no patient has been admitted to the ICCU.
Dr Mukhopadhyay suffered a cardiac arrest at his quarters 30ft from the NBMCH emergency ward around 12am on Tuesday. He was rushed to emergency and shifted to the ICU. The doctor, however, died at 1.15am.
“After his death, we were not ready to take anymore excuses from the authorities and met the principal, superintendent and deputy superintendent yesterday, demanding the immediate opening of the ICCU. They considered our demand and the ICCU started functioning from the evening,” Sarkar said.
Slaughter ban for Dalai visit
TT, Gangtok, Dec. 9: The Sikkim government has banned animal slaughter for five days during the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, this month.
The ban will be in force in two phases. The first phase is from December 15 to 17 when the Dalai Lama goes on retreat at Tsam Khang (meditation centre) at Tashiding monastery in West district. Animal slaughter is also banned on December 21 and 22 when he gives sermons at Paljor Stadium here.
“We have already intimated all meat shops and the sole licensed slaughter house at Bageykhola near Rangpo about the ban,” said Madan Shankar, a joint director in the animal husbandry department. The state government has said special permits will be issued for individuals and organisations to import meat, except poultry, from outside Sikkim for marriages, social ceremonies and feeding of captive carnivores at the Himalayan Zoological Park near here.
The government had banned the import of the poultry to the state a couple of years ago following the outbreak of bird flu in other parts of the country. The Dalia Lama will reach Sikkim on December 15 and leave on December 23.
Devotees are happy with the ban on the animal slaughter. “The visit of His Holiness is auspicious and there should be restrictions on the killing of animals during that time,” said a monk.
However, some monks felt that a ban should not have been imposed on the animal slaughter and an appeal would have been much better. “People should be requested to refrain from slaughtering animals during the stay of the Dalai Lama in the state. It is for each individual to decide whether to pay heed to the appeal or not,” said another monk.
Anomaly glare on 340 teachers
TT, Jalpaiguri, Dec. 9: The school education department has temporarily stopped about 340 newly appointed primary school teachers in Jalpaiguri district from carrying on with their jobs after an inquiry team submitted a report that there were anomalies in their recruitment.
School education minister Partha De, when contacted in Calcutta, admitted that there had been anomalies in the recruitment process which surfaced during the inquiry conducted by department officials.
“We have temporarily stopped about 340 primary school teachers in Jalpaiguri district from working till the final inquiry report is submitted,” De said.
The minister also admitted that there were many deserving candidates who were not properly marked in the qualifying exams and were denied jobs.
“There is also the case where the answer scripts were not marked correctly. We have identified quite a few of these examiners and we will issue show-cause notices to them,” the minister added.
De said the suspension orders and show-cause notices would reach the district headquarters in Jalpaiguri by the end of this week.
Controversy arose on July 6 this year when a list of 1,091 names of selected primary teachers for 1,411 posts was put up. The Opposition parties alleged that there was widespread nepotism in the recruitment process and charged that many relatives of CPM leaders in the district were handed the jobs on a platter.
The hue and cry prompted the school education department to send a three-member inquiry team, headed by joint secretary, Tapan Kumar Adhikary, in August to look into the allegations. After a probe, the education department stalled the appointment of 15 candidates. The chairperson of the district primary school council, Mrinal Pal, was removed from his post, and the district inspector for primary schools, Kaushik Roy, was transferred to East Midnapore.
CPM district secretary Manik Sanyal has expressed displeasure over the manner in which these teachers were being stopped from working. “The school education department should spell out in detail its decision. Our party is not happy with the manner in which things are being done,” Sanyal said.
The district secretary of the CPM-dominated All Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association, Biren Sikdar, said it would not be good if in this melee, deserving candidates lost their jobs. “The government has to be very careful with what they are doing,” he said.
The secretary of a committee of newly appointed teachers, Partha Pratim Chakrabarty, said he was yet to get the names of those whose jobs were on the line.
“If we find that a deserving candidate has been sacked, we will have no other option but to take legal action against the school education department,” he said.
student hackled
TT, Alipurduar/Balurghat, Dec. 9: A first-year student of Alipurduar College was allegedly heckled by a bus conductor today, prompting two rival student unions to resort to road blockades.
While Chhatra Parishad members blocked Alipurduar Main Road in front of the college for an hour from 11am, activists of the SFI set up a blockade in Kalchini, 34km away, at 4pm to protest the incident.
In South Dinajpur’s Balurghat, hundreds of commuters faced hardships as private buses kept off roads during a wildcat agitation by workers today to protest the alleged assault on a conductor by a bus owner. Subdivisional officer of Balurghat Debprasad Chatterjee said efforts were on to solve the dispute through discussion.
Road rage
TT, Siliguri: Two persons were killed when a car and truck collided on the Ghoshpukur-Fulbari bypass at Kamalabagan, 30km from here, on Thursday. The deceased are Sanjay Mondal, 27, of Sukantanagar and Md Shamim Akhtar, 35, of Sonapur. The two were travelling in the car. In a separate accident, one person died and another was injured in a collision between their motorcycle and a pick-up van at Tenth Mile on Wednesday night. The deceased is Harkabahadur Lama, 38, and the injured, Lalit Bhujel.
TT, Siliguri: The East Himalayan Expo will begin at Paribahan Nagar in Matigara on Friday. Organised by the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation in association with the Focin, the event will be hosted with Bangladesh as partner country.
Mamata visit
TT, Balurghat: Railway minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate the DMEU service between Balurghat and Malda and lay the foundation stones for the Balurghat-Hilli track and a commercial complex in Balurghat on December 16.

1 comment:

  1. TT, Gangtok, Dec. 9: The Sikkim government has banned animal slaughter for five days during the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, this month.