To contact us CLICK HERE
View Kalimpong News at
Citizen reporters may send photographs related to news with proper information to

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another 2 day strike starts in Dooars ... Six north DMs shifted-Saumitra Mohan to replace DM PMK Gandhi... Bhandari starts jail stint in hospital... Lepcha dharna in Calcutta for council

Six north DMs shifted
TT, Calcutta, Aug. 10: The state government in a major shuffle of IAS officers has transferred the district magistrates of all six north Bengal districts. Four DMs in south Bengal have been also shifted.
Officials said the transfers in north Bengal was significant since Mamata Banerjee has announced grand plans for the region, including the establishment of a secretariat in the region, strengthening of the North Bengal Development Council and setting up the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The government is also working on a plan to bifurcating some of the districts including Jalpaiguri in north Bengal where the new set of administrators will have a key role. A committee is also examining the possibility of carving out the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai to bring them under the GTA to be set up for the Darjeeling hills.
Sources close to the chief minister added that Mamata also wanted to bring about more efficiency and accountability in the functioning of the district administration. “She is a firm believer in the virtues of the administrative set-up prescribed by the British. She believes that if the system is followed properly it can deliver results,” said an official in the CMO.
Birbhum district magistrate Saumitra Mohan will move to Darjeeling in place of P.M.K. Gandhi. S. Mahapatra, the DM of Cooch Behar, has been transferred to Jalpaiguri. The district magistrates of Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur are yet to get their new assignments.
P.N. Bhutia, the municipal commissioner of Siliguri, will take charge of North Dinajpur as DM. The director of West Bengal State Electricity Development Corporation Limited, D.D. Goswami, has been made the district magistrate of South Dinajpur
Malda district magistrate Rajesh Sinha has been transferred to the state marketing board as director. East Midnapore DM Archana will take charge of Malda.
“The chief minister crucially wanted new district magistrates for Darjeeling, which is set to see a major administrative change, as well as Jalpaiguri which could soon see a bifurcation,” an official said. “But there is no reason to believe that these district magistrates are being penalised. They are being given assignments where they can play a more efficient role.”
Among the other changes made today, Archana will be replaced by R. Kumar, who was on study leave. The Nadia DM, S. Bansal, will go to North 24-Parganas. Bansal replaces Vinod Kumar who has been made textile commissioner. The CEO of Asansol Durgapur Development Authority, A. Chandra, will be the DM of Nadia. J.P. Meena, the CEO of Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, will take charge DM of Birbhum.
Another strike starts for tea wage hike
TT, Siliguri/Jalpaiguri, Aug. 10: Tea gardens were shut across the Terai and Dooars today as two apex bodies of around 30 trade unions launched a two-day strike to seek a hike in workers’ wages.
The trade unions which are enforcing the shutdown have warned that any settlement reached between the planters and the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad-affiliated labour wing on the wage hike would not be acceptable to them.
The labour minister held talks with the Parishad union in Calcutta yesterday and today to end the impasse prevailing in the tea sector in the plains. But no breakthrough was achieved in the talks
“The strike was peaceful on the first day and workers across the Dooars and Terai have responded to the call. We will observe the strike tomorrow also as tea planters are not ready to come with a formula that is closer to our demand,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the Co-ordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers.
The unions demanded that the labourers’ daily wages be increased from Rs 67 to Rs 130. But the garden owners rejected the demand outright and said they couldn’t shoulder that much financial burden.
De said a 12-hour general strike would be observed across north Bengal on Friday. “So far, 18 organisations have extended support to the strike on Friday,” he said.
The workers today remained absent from their duties and held demonstrations in support of their demand. They also raised the flags of different trade unions in the gardens.
“All workers joined hands to make the strike a success. If planters are still reluctant to accept our demands, we will have to intensify the movement,” said Gautam Ghosh, the general secretary of the Citu-backed Darjeeling Zilla Chia Kaman Mazdoor Union.
Dey criticised the government for holding parleys with only the Progressive Tea Workers’ Union.
“We have noticed that the state government is holding talks with only one trade union to resolve the issue and has not included any others. At this point, we want to clarify that if any decision is reached through talks with only one union, it will not be binding for us,” said the octogenarian leader.
The Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Rights was the other body of trade unions, which called the two-day strike. Its convener Samir Roy also slammed the government for keeping other trade unions out of the negotiation process.
“It has never happened before that only one organisation was invited to wage talks by the government. All trade unions, irrespective of their base in the brew belt, had been included in the negotiation process earlier,” he said. According to him, there are 36 other trade unions, including Citu, Intuc, Utuc and HMS, apart from the PTWU that have a base in north Bengal tea gardens.
ABAVP to withdraw strike
SNS, KOLKATA/SILIGURI, 10 AUG: The discussion with Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) to withdraw the strike at tea gardens was partially fruitful as it agreed to stay away from the strike.
Mr Partha Chatterjee, state industries and commerce minister; Mr Purnendu Bose, the state labour minister, and Mr Gautam Deb, state north Bengal development minister held meeting with ABAVP members in the state Assembly.
It is learnt that the state government has agreed that the basic minimum wage would be paid to them and requested the tea owners’ association to pay the workers the minimum wage. It is learnt that the ministers agreed that the tea-garden workers should be entitled to the benefits of the panchayats.
Meanwhile, taking a dig at the state government over its negotiation with the ABAVP, senior CPI-M leader and the former state urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya today said the state government was trying to drive a wedge among the tea workers in the region with a nefarious design to make a dent in the workers’ solidarity.
“It must be clearly understood that the ABAVP-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union is not the sole representative for thousands of tea workers in the region. There are as many as 32 other trade unions, which have remained in the vanguard of the wage-hike agitation. They have convened the 3-day strike from 10 August in the tea plantations in the Terai and the Dooars, demanding hike in the wages and the variable dearness allowance payable to the tea workers,” he said.
Mr Bhattacharya further said that the state government’s stratagem was aimed at driving a wedge amongst the tea workers to help the planters gain control over the plantations.
“We are convinced that the state government has taken a strategy to go for a bipartite arrangement with the ABAVP involving a special remuneration package in order to break the workers’ unity,” he said.
Refuting Mr Bhattacharya’s charge, state labour minister Mr Bose said that it reflected the former minister’s narrowness of view.

Bhandari starts jail stint in hospital

BIJOY GURUNG, TT, Gangtok, Aug. 10: Nar Bahadur Bhandari today arrived at the CBI court in a convoy of 21 vehicles to surrender before a special judge but was hospitalised after an hour-long stint in jail.
The three-term former chief minister of Sikkim went out of the court in a Sikkim police car for the mandatory health checkup before being sent to the Rongey jail. But by 4.15pm, he was back in STNM Hospital with complaints of chest pain.
The 70-year-old Bhandari had been sentenced to one month in jail and fined Rs 5,000 by Sikkim High Court in a 27-year-old graft case.
Yesterday, acting Chief Justice S.P. Wangdi upheld the verdict of a CBI court that had found Bhandari guilty of defalcating funds in a rural water supply scheme of 1984.
The judge, however, commuted the six-month jail sentence passed by the trial court in 2008 to a month. Bhandari had been asked by the high court to surrender before the special judge (Prevention of Corruption Act) today.
At 11am, a sombre Bhandari arrived at the district and sessions court at Sichey. The court premises were abuzz with anticipation since morning with lawyers and the general public milling around for a sight Bhandari who had been a three-term chief minister from 1979.
The Sikkim Pradesh Congress chief arrived in his red SUV with another 20 vehicles carrying his followers. The mood was sober with no slogans being shouted. Bhandari was greeted by all as he walked into the CBI court. He stood there without speaking a word for about two hours and 10 minutes while the proceedings took place. State Congress vice-president Kunga Nima Lepcha had accompanied him.
Two hours later, Bhandari boarded a white Maruti Gypsy of the Sikkim police to be taken to the STNM Hospital for the mandatory medical checkup. The check-up was completed and the police set off for the state jail at Rongey, 11km from here, at 3.15pm.
Sources in the jail said Bhandari, after completing the paperwork there, complained of chest pains and was brought back to STNM Hospital in another hour. He has been admitted to Cabin 1 of the cardiology ward of the hospital.
While doctors refused to say anything about Bhandari’s health, sources close to him said the former chief minister had been admitted to hospital twice in the past with cardiac problems.
Sources in the jail said two guards would be posted outside the cabin at all times. “We will allow two visitors at a time during visiting hours and he will be allowed home-cooked food,” a jail source said.
Yesterday, Bhandari had said he would not move the Supreme Court against the sentence. He had said he would go to jail “for Sikkim and the Sikkimese people”.
Sources in his party had said yesterday that Bhandari would make the “best of the situation” at the time of his surrender and try to get “as much publicity as possible to gain the sympathy of the people”.
Today, while leaving the district and sessions court, Bhandari said he was being convicted for a scheme for the success of which the Centre had once lauded him.
“I had promised the people of Sikkim that I would do away with their namlos (ropes used to carry water pots), and I have done that by implementing the rural water supply scheme in the state. I was also awarded by the Centre for the success of the scheme. I am now going to jail for the same scheme. I am going to prison for the people of Sikkim. What will happen after I serve out my term will only be known then,” Bhandari said.
Yesterday, however, he had hinted that he might leave the Congress and float a regional party. He had said he was upset with the Congress high command in Delhi because it had done nothing to rein in the CBI, which prosecuted him.
Lepcha dharna in Calcutta for council

Lepcha at the dharna in Calcutta on Wednesday. (PTI)
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Aug. 10: About 300 Lepchas from different parts of the state — the majority of them from the Darjeeling hills — staged a dharna in Calcutta for the second day today, demanding the setting up of the Lepcha Development Council or Board to preserve and promote the community’s culture and language.
The dharna was held under the aegis of the Lepcha Rights Movement of West Bengal. The protesters took out a rally from Minto Park around 10am and then staged a dharna on Raja Rammohan Avenue.
“We will continue our protest till our demands are met. Tomorrow, we will be staging our dharna at Subodh Mullick Square,” said the movement’s convener Bhupendra Lepcha on the phone from Calcutta. The protest has the support of the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA), which has been in the forefront of espousing the community’s cause.
The other demands of the Lepchas include introduction of their language in the formal education system of the state and representation in the Assembly and Parliament. The Lepchas are acknowledged as the original inhabitants of the Darjeeling hills and believed to constitute 20 per cent of the 9 lakh people in the hills.
The movement convener said the council or board that the Lepchas were demanding did not envisage any territorial jurisdiction. “But it would be a system to facilitate the development of the Lepcha community and to promote their language and culture. The demand is not to reflect any animosity or ill feeling towards any other community, but to enhance the scope for the development of the Lepcha community spread across Bengal,” he said.
Notably, the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Forum , which is the political arm of the ILTA, had earlier demanded reservation of seats for the community in the Gorkha Territorial Administration to ensure that they remained an integral part of the political system in their homeland. The forum had said the quota was necessary as ever since Independence, the political, cultural and social issues of the Lepchas had not been addressed at any levels of the administration —local, state or central. (Photos: PTI)
Action awaits minor riders

TT, Siliguri, Aug. 10: The death of two boys in an accident yesterday forced Siliguri police to wake up from their slumber and crack the whip to put a brake on the escalating trend of minors riding two-wheelers.
Two boys, aged 15, were crushed to death by a truck on Don Bosco Road here yesterday evening. The mishap happened when the boys tried to overtake the truck from the left side.
Manish Gupta and Aman Jindal, students of Delhi Public School, died on the spot. Their last rites were performed today.
Senior police officers said checks were conducted regularly to ensure that only licence holders were at the wheels.
“Nevertheless, such checks will be intensified to stop minors from driving two-wheelers. In case they are caught, necessary legal steps will be taken,” said Amit P. Javalgi, the additional superintendent of police of Siliguri.
“We check licences and documents of vehicles regularly. But we feel parents, too, have an important role to stop the practice. They should first stop handing over two-wheelers to their children.”
The guardians also said it was high time that the authorities cracked down on the violations of traffic rules by minors.
“Many minors ride scooters and motorcycles in Siliguri. According to motor vehicles rules, a person can ride a two-wheeler with gears only after he/she attains the age of 18. Yesterday’s accident was a glaring example of rule violations. The boy (Manish Gupta) who was riding the scooter was only 15 years old,” said Sandipan Bhattacharya, the president of the Guardians’ Forum of North Bengal.
Although an individual can obtain licence to ride a two-wheeler without gears only after he/she reaches 16, the violation of the rule is rampant in Siliguri.
He said the forum representatives would approach the deputy superintendent of police (traffic) tomorrow and urge him to take action against minors found to be riding two-wheelers.
“The boys who zip across town with bikes have blatant disregard for traffic rules. It is also necessary for schools and guardians to give a thought to the issue and intervene to discourage children from driving two-wheelers,” said Bhattacharya, who is also a faculty of Siliguri College of Commerce.
The forum president also said schools in and around Siliguri would be requested to deny parking space for two-wheelers brought by students.
“Such an initiative by the school authorities will restrain students from using scooters. If consistent steps are taken by police also, we feel this practices can be contained to a large extent.”
Officials in the motor vehicles department said it was impossible for a minor to obtain licences.
“To obtain a driving licence, it is mandatory for any individual to submit a photocopy of his/her age proof. The licence is issued only after one sails through driving tests which are held everyday,” said Rajen Sundas, the additional regional transport officer of Siliguri.

“If anybody is caught for rash driving or violation of traffic rules, the licence might be cancelled and he/she cannot obtain it again. In the cases of driving without licence, fines are imposed.” 
Headlines, KalimNews: Chhatrey Subba plea hearing on 30 August.
Left bodies extend support to bundh of 12 August.
UK streets calmer after nights of riots and chaos

london furyReuters, Aug 11, 2011, LONDON: Days of rioting and looting across Britain looked to be cooling on Wednesday after Prime Minister David Cameron's promised a fightback and flooded city streets with police to try to restore order.
By 9.30 pm, incidents were limited to isolated skirmishes and standoffs between riot police and groups of youths, after four nights when often unchecked violence had been well under way by nightfall.
The capital -- host to the 2012 Olympics -- looked set for another uneasy but relatively quiet night, with 16,000 police deployed across the city and local groups protecting areas torn apart by arson, looting and running street battles.
Other cities in northern and central England such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, which suffered the worst violence on Tuesday night, also appeared calmer.
"We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way," Cameron said after a meeting on Wednesday of the government's COBRA committee that deals with national security crises.
"Whatever resources police need, they will get."
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, making deep cuts to public services to tackle a record budget deficit, has been quick to deny that the unrest was linked to austerity measures, calling the disorder "pure criminality".
Public anger over the widespread looting of shops appears to have strengthened the government's argument, with stolen goods ranging from the expensive -- televisions and jewellery -- to the absurd -- sweets and bottles of alcohol.
However, community leaders and rioters themselves said the violence was an expression of the frustration felt by the poorest inhabitants of a country that ranks among the most unequal in the developed world.
"They've raised rates, cut child benefit. Everyone just used it as a chance to vent," one man who took part in unrest in the east London district of Hackney told Reuters.
After being accused of a sluggish response, Cameron has ordered parliament to reconvene on Thursday, disrupting his own summer holiday and the parliamentary summer recess.
He made no reference to social and economic problems in inner-city areas. The initial trouble flared after an Afro-Caribbean man died from a gunshot wound after an incident involving armed police in London.
"There are pockets of our society that are not just broken but frankly sick," said Cameron, who has made fixing "broken Britain" a cornerstone of his premiership.
Courts worked through the night on Wednesday to process riot cases. Among the defendants were an 11-year old boy, a charity worker and a teaching assistant. More than 1,000 arrests had been made, with 805 in London alone.
In Birmingham, police launched a murder inquiry after three Muslim men died after being run over by a car in the mayhem there. The men had been part of a group of British Asians protecting their area from looters.
The violence has appalled many Britons, who have been transfixed by images of rioters attacking individuals and raiding family-owned stores as well as targeting big business.
It has also prompted soul-searching.
Community leaders said the violence in London, the worst for decades in the multi-ethnic capital of 7.8 million people, was rooted in growing disparities in wealth and opportunity.
"This disturbing phenomenon has to be understood as a conflagration of aggression from a socially and economically excluded underclass," the liberal Independent newspaper said.
The right-wing Daily Telegraph took a harder line.
"The thugs must be taught to respect the law the hard way. These riots have shamed the nation and the government must be held to account."

No comments:

Post a Comment