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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mamata asks N Bengal officials to handle things with velvet gloves....CM’s statement on Naga encroachment unfortunate....Tourists return to peaceful hills, Darjeeling gears up for busy season....Bhutan King marries 21 year old Pema

Mamata asks N Bengal officials to handle things with velvet gloves

SNS, SILIGURI, 13 OCT: A seemingly worried chief minister, Miss Mamata Banerjee, today asked the administrative and police officials of both the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts to deal with the sensitive situation with utmost care and circumspection in view of the volatility prevailing over the GJMM demand for land from the Terai-Dooars region in reference to the territorial jurisdiction of the Gorkhaland Administrative Tribunal, an official said.
It has been learnt that the chief minister held a meeting with the senior north Bengal-based civil and police officials, particularly with those from the two districts, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, on the law and order situation at the NHPC office premises on the outskirts of Siliguri.
“The chief minister looked a bit worried with both the GJMM and the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad doggedly clinging to their respective stances regarding the GTA land issue. She asked us all to ensure peace and inter-ethnic amity in view of the situation remaining volatile. She insisted that under no circumstances the administration would allow the peace to be disturbed,” said the senior administrative official.
It has also been learnt that the chief minister’s Dooars trip had failed to break the ice involving the relation between the Gorkhas and the Adivasis inhabiting the Terai-Dooars area for generations. “It seems that the chief minister has realised that the land issue would remain a bone of contention in time to come and the situation might take a turn for the worse any time in view of the mutual antipathy and suspicion prevailing,” the official said.
In order to fulfil her electoral commitment, Chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee will lay the foundation stone for the construction of 1,400 meters long Nayagram-Vasraghat bridge over the Subarnarekha river during her Junglemahal trip on Saturday.
The project will require Rs 118.44 crore. The state irrigation department has also planned to set up a barrage on one side (upstream) of the bridge. Once the bridge is constructed, road connectivity among Nayagram, Gopiballavpur and people living in bordering Midnapore and Orissa will get an upgrade. It was a longstanding demand of the local people who travel almost 111 km to reach Kharagpur. If the bridge comes up, the distance will reduce by 69 km. The bridge will also improve the inter-state transport.

CM’s statement on Naga encroachment unfortunate
PR, KalimNews, Merapani (13th Oct 2011): The All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union (AAGSU) the apex organization of Gorkha students and youths of Assam had not completed visiting all the Naga encroached area in Golaghat district Assam Chief Minister in a press meet declared the Nagaland has not encroached any Assam land. AAGSU team comprising of Chief Advisor Dil Bahadur Limboo, Golaghat Dist unit president Prem Newar, gen secy. Mani Kr. Limboo, vice president Sita Devi Dewan and others visited the Panjan area of Naojan, Noukhuti area of Chungajan, various areas under Uriamghat, Daldali and Chandanpur area of the Sarupani and Bhelowguri area of Merapani and the upper Merapani area where there are evidences of Naga settlement in Assam’s land. Community Hall, Churches, Schools recognized by Govt. of Nagaland, Entrance and Welcome gates have been erected with a sizeable population in the Panjan area under Naojan police station. It was evident that same sort of settlement plans were made in other areas too and the administration of Govt. of Assam remains mute spectator as always. Border visiting AAGSU Golaghat Dist Unit observed that all the new settlements in Assam’s land donot belong to the nearby bordering area. ‘When we enquired the local Nagas on whereabouts they too were in dark about the new naga population. This clearly indicates that it is the Nagaland government is bringing new settler from elsewhere in mutual understanding with the neutral forces the CRPF and the district administration. This has been a cause of concern not only for the Assamese people but also for the Nagas across the border, fearing action from the Assamese civil society and administration’, the AAGSU leaders added.
It may be recalled that the AAGSU last week had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India seeking intervention in settling the intrastate border dispute with Assam and provide security to borderside denizens who have been prone to illegal encroachers and antisocial elements. ‘In the Merapani area different tribes of Nagas and the Assamese border residents that includes mainly Gorkhas, Bodos, Assamese and Adibhasis others have lived peacefully over the years since 1985 war was settled however fresh violence had broken out in 1996 in Sarupani area. Then the Assam Nagaland Border Cordination Students’ Union (ANBCSU) was formed with AASU, AAGSU and All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) which had a good impact in restoring peace and normalcy the border region defying incidents of kidnapping even extortion demands by any outfit but became defunct now due over the time. We will revive the ANBCSU and check the border infiltrations as we have lost faith on the administration and the statement government.’ Dil Bahadur Limboo the AAGSU chief advisor opined.
Nanda Kirati Dewan the information and publicity secretary AAGSU who is a permanent resident of Sarupani area terming the CM’s statement on Assam’s land encroachment by Nagaland as unfortunate and claimed, ‘AAGSU can provide evidences to CM, on Naga settlement in Assam’s land in Panjan, Noukhuti and entire stretch from Merapani to Sarupani. It is very unfortunate that the head of the state have been downplaying all reports on Naga encroachment putforth by the media, students union, social democratic organizations and trying to justify government inaction in all cases. It is shameful and uncalled for in democracy that the CM was trying to justify police firing on the unarmed protesting peasants whatsoever the case may be, at Besimari in Darrang few days back. We strongly condemn the state sponsored police atrocities on common man and unjustified lighthearted statement on Assam-Nagaland border dispute by the defiant CM. We seek immediate intervention of the Union Home Ministry and resolve the intrastate border issue once for all amicably and demark the border which would be acceptable to both sides so no such incidents re-occurs again.’
Tourists return to peaceful hills, Darjeeling gears up for busy season
IE, Darjeeling: After nearly four years of strife, the Darjeeling hills are looking forward to a booming tourist season this winter.
After the signing of the Gorkha Territorial Administration treaty on July 18, the political turmoil seems to have ceased. As a result, tourists have been flocking to the hill station.
In the past few years, hotels in Darjeeling recorded dismal occupancy rates. Now hotels say they are full to the brim.
The famous Toy Train of Darjeeling, which used to make two trips a day, is now making eight trips to cater to rising demand from tourists. The fare from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling has almost doubled, even after damage caused by the earthquake.
“For the last three and half years, hotel occupancy has been 60-65 per cent of capacity. Now there is 100 per cent occupancy and bookings for 5-6 per cent additional rooms,” said Raj Basu, chairman of Eastern Himalayan Travel and Tours Operating Association.
The good news applies not only to Darjeeling town, but also villages. Foreign tourists are flocking to lesser known destinations under a home stay package. Tour operators say that more than 40 villages have become tourist hotspots. Minister for North Bengal Development Gautam Deb said the government would ensure basic facilities like water supply are available there.
The government and travel agencies are also looking to use tea estates for tourism. “We have spoken to tea garden members and are ready to issue licences if the tea estates agree,” Deb told The Indian Express.
During her visit to the region, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a master plan for tourism development. The bounty included Rs 10 crore for beautification of Darjeeling Mall and renovation of Planters’ Club, Gymkhana Club and the church as well as a tea festival from December 20 to January 5.
However, the tourist boom is not without problems. “Tourists are increasing but infrastructure remains the same. Look at the condition of roads. Drinking water is still a problem,” said Roshan Giri, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha general secretary.
Tourists also complain of public transport problems. “Darjeeling is a very beautiful tourist destination, but transport is a problem. There is no fixed rate by the government and private vehicles charge by their whims and fancies,” said Anshuman Roy, a tourist from Kolkata.
Bhutan King marries 21 year old Pema
Associated press, Thimphu, 13 October: Bhutan's 31-year-old king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck's wedding with Jetsun Pema, a student 10 years his junior, is underway in an isolated valley high in the Himalayas where thousands of nomads and villagers have gathered to celebrate.
The ceremony Thursday, while far less star-studded than the year's other royal wedding - of William and Kate - is no less elaborate in its uniquely Bhutanese way.
"It's the biggest occasion I'll ever see in my life," said Tshewang Rinzin, 27, a loan officer.
The couple will be married by Bhutan's top Buddhist cleric at the country's most sacred monastery fortress in the old capital of Punakha at an auspicious time determined by astrologers.
During the hours of ceremonies, king Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck will be adorned with royal scarves. His bride, 21-year-old Jetsun Pema, will present him a chalice filled with the ambrosia of eternal life that he will drink, and he will place a crown upon the new queen's head.
"It's a very emotional experience, a spiritual experience as well," Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley told The Associated Press.
Yet there will be no foreign princes, no visiting heads of state, no global celebrities, just the royal family, thousands of nearby villagers and the rest of the country's 700,000 people watching live on TV.
"The whole theme of the wedding was to keep it a simple family affair, that is the Bhutanese family," said Kinley Dorji, Bhutan's secretary of information.
Bhutanese have been waiting for their bachelor king to find a bride and start a family of his own since his father retired and handed power to him five years ago.
The Oxford-educated king is adored for pushing development and ushering in democratic reforms. His teen-idol looks - slicked back hair, long sideburns - his penchant for evening bike rides through the streets and his reputation as a laid back, accessible leader, also make him the rare monarch whose picture adorns the bedroom walls of teenage girls.
"He's lovable, he's kind, he loves his people, he always interacts with us, he always makes us feel like we are his family," said Anu Chhetri, 14, who often sees the king pedaling through nearby villages. "He inspires us. He's everything to us."
His bride, the daughter of a pilot, has been on an introductory tour of the remote villages of the nation since the king told Parliament in May, "It's now time for me to marry."
Children composed poems of joy, flight attendants and bank clerks practiced celebratory dances and the airwaves were flooded with wedding fever as the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan prepared for the marriage of its beloved fifth Dragon King.
Buddhist kings had reigned supreme in the stunning, mountainous country until the current king's father established a constitutional monarchy and legislature in 2008.
The tiny nation began slowly opening up to the rest of the world in the 1960s. Foreigners and the international media were first admitted in 1974, and television finally arrived in 1999.
Still, only 20,000 foreigners are allowed in each year on heavily supervised, expensive trips, and society remains tightly controlled. Bhutanese say the gently paced reforms have allowed them to keep their culture and sovereignty intact.
The country has not had a royal wedding since the fourth king held a mass ceremony in 1988 with his four wives - four sisters whom he had informally married years earlier. The current king says he will take only one wife, so the country is unlikely to see another such celebration for a long time.
"It's a moment when the entire nation is coming together," said Dorji Wangchuk, spokesman for the king.
Thirty-one-year old Namgyel Wangchuck ties the knot with a student 10 years his junior in a colourful ceremony., Punakha, 13 Oct 2011: The wedding captivated a nation that had grown impatient with its king's lack of urgency to take the plunge [Reuters]
Bhutan's 31-year-old king has married a student 10 years his junior in a colourful ceremony that has seen the remote Himalayan nation declare three-days of national holiday to honour the event.
Thursday's wedding, showcasing the rich Buddhist culture of the largely insular country, took place amid clouds of incense and chanting by monks.
The popular King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck - an Oxford graduate who came to power in 2008 at the start of democracy in Bhutan - crowned his queen, Jetsun Pema, at the end of a series of rituals in the 17th-century fortified monastery chosen for the occasion.
Pema is a daughter of an airline pilot widely admired for her beauty and her impact on the love-struck monarch.
The celebrations began at 8:20am - a time set by royal astrologers - when the king walked into the courtyard of the monastery in the old capital of Punakha. Wearing the royal yellow sash, he proceeded up the high staircase inside.
After a brief purification ceremony, the couple walked hand-in-hand, smiling to the inner sanctum of the monastery where an hour of blessings, prostrations and prayers culminated with the queen taking the throne.
Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from Punakha on Thursday, said the people he had spoken to told him that Pema is "perfectly cut out to be a queen".
"One girl said she had international looks and that's an advantage," he said. "There's been a great deal of excitement and there's a great deal of reverence for the monarchy and certainly a lot of interest and appreciation in this young couple."
The wedding captivated the nation, which was growing impatient with its king's lack of urgency to tie the knot.
Children composed poems, flight attendants practised celebratory dances and posters of the couple were almost everywhere.

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