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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Six flee Sikkim jail.....Anti-Gorkhaland bandh on 16 Jan....भुँईचालोले शुरु ग-यो झगडा ....ग्राम पंचायत कार्यालय रणभूमिमा परिणत : पाँचजना घाईते... अनिश्चितकालीन खण्डबिकास कार्यालय र ग्राम पंचायात कार्यालय बन्द ...रेलीमा 21 वर्षसम्म बिकास नभएको बिमल गुरुंगको दाबी...KPP cries bias by govt, calls agitation...Season's first snowfall in Ghoom

Six flee Sikkim jail 
TT with inputs from KalimNews (Photo:Prabin Khaling), Gangtok: Six prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment escaped from Rongek Central Jail crossing the 21 feet high boundary. Additional superintendent of police (Sikkim prisons) Sonam Bhutia said Puran Rai of Munsong , Rudra Thapa of Chitwan Nepal, Yogesh Karki of Soreng Sikkim, Shekhar Roy of Hidayat Nagar Jalpaiguri, Prashant Sarkar of Charman gaon Raiganj and Laxuman Mahalay of Chamurchi TE Jalpaiguri had yanked off the horizontal bars of the goalposts during the tea break and used them to make a “ladder”.
“They used short bamboo sticks and rags to make the rungs of the ladder. We suspect they had stolen the sticks and rags during the training classes, where they are taught to make items of daily use with these,” Bhutia said. It is presumed that they had also used the pipes of the goalpost for making the ladder.
The convicts, serving jail terms in separate murder cases between 2003 and 2006, cut the barbed wire on top of the boundary wall with a pair of pliers. 

The jail authorities are not sure how the convicts got hold of the instruments. Jail sources said there were no security personnel on the football ground today and the weather was foggy. The police are combing the neighbouring areas in search of the fugitives. Two groups of Sikkim Armed Police and home guards are searching the nearby forest areas of Busuk and Assam Lingzey. 
All checkposts and police outposts have been alerted. The police believe that the fugitives may try to reach Reshi and Rangpo on the Bengal-Sikkim border through the forest.
This is the second incident of escapade. In the first incident Rakesh Rai alias spiderman had escaped with Puran Rai (one of the escaped prisoner of today's incident) using cables.
Assault spurs rural strike call
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, Jan. 11: Two panchayat officials have been roughed up at Lingsey by a mob that demanded earthquake compensation even for those who were not entitled to it, prompting the Janmukti Karmachari Sangathan to call an indefinite strike in the block and panchayat offices in Kalimpong from tomorrow.
The JKS, a wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said the strike would be observed in all three block offices and 41 panchayat offices in the subdivision till police took action against the culprits.
Sources said people of Pitamchinga in Lingsey had assaulted the two officials at a meeting last evening. The meeting was called to register the names of those villagers who had not received compensation from the government for the damage caused to their houses in the earthquake.
“But all villagers turned up and wanted the compensation to be paid to all of them. When the officials expressed their inability, they were manhandled by the people,” alleged Kharga Vikram Subba, the Kalimpong unit president of the JKS.
Lingsey is 60km from Kalimpong town.
Subba said Sonam Tashi Bhutia, a panchayat karmi, had been assaulted severely and was rushed to the Kalimpong subdivisional hospital, which, in turn, referred him to Siliguri. Executive assistant Rohit Chhetri was the other person manhandled.
“The incident has created a sense of insecurity among the government staff. We want police to take strong action against those responsible for the incident and that is why we have called an indefinite strike in all three block offices and 41 panchayats in the subdivision,” said Subba.
Four villagers were also admitted to the Kalimpong hospital with minor injuries.
“We had gone to the panchayat office to get our names registered since our houses, too, were damaged in the quake. Since there were many people, all of them could not be accommodated in the office. Many of us were outside when all hell broke loose. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and punching. Some of the blows landed on me,” said one of the injured villagers.

भुँईचालोले शुरु ग-यो झगडा - ग्राम पंचायत कार्यलय रणभूमिमा परिणत : पाँचजना घाईते

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्यूज, कालेबुंग, 11 दिसम्बर :भुईँचालो पिडीतहरु पंचायत कार्यालयमा सरकारबाट आएको पैसा खोज्न जाँदा पंचायत कार्यलय नै रणभूमिमा परिणत भयो जसमा 5 जना गम्भिररुपमा घाईते भएका छन। घाईते हुनेहरुमा एकजना पंचायत सहकर्मी पनि रहेका छन। उक्त घटना कालेबुंग शहरदेखि लगभग 58 किलो मिटर टाडा अवस्थित लिंगसे ग्राम पंचायत कार्यालयमा म्ंगलबार दिउँसो साडे दुईबजे भएको हो।
प्राप्त जानकारी अनुसार लिंगसे ग्राम पंचायतमा भुईचालो पिडीतहरुका निम्ति क्षतिपूर्ति सरकारी अनुदानको पैसा आएको थियो। उक्त पैसा क-कसले कति कति पाउँनेहुन भन्ने बिषयमा मानिसहरुले पंचायत कार्यालयबाट् जानकारी मागेका थिए। सोहि कारण कार्यालयमा सभा राखिएको थियो। सभामा पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले कुनै कुरा नै नबुझि आक्रमण गरेको पंचायत कर्मी रोहित छेत्रीले आरोप लगाए। उक्त घटनामा घाईतेहुनेहरु क्रमैले पंचायत सहकर्मी सोनाम टाँसी भोटिया, मनबहादुर सुब्बा, भीमलाल सुब्बा, पासंग तेम्बा शेर्पा, मुक्तिनाथ शर्मा रहेका छन। उक्त घाईतेहरु मध्ये सोनाम टाँसी भुटिया अनि मनबहादुर सुब्बालाई सिलगडी रेफर गरिएको छ भने अन्य घाईतेहरु यहाँको महकुमा अस्पतालमा उपचाराधीन रहेकका छ्न। 
घाईतेहरुले आफुहरुलाई कुनै कारण बिनानै पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले सय भन्दा अधिक संख्यामा आएर आक्रमण गरेको आरोप लागाएका छन। यस बिषयमा लिंगसे ग्राम पंचायतका कर्मी रोहित छेत्रीले पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले भुँइचालो पिडीतहरुको पैसा सबैले बराबरी पाउँनुपर्ने दाबी गरेको जनाए।
तिनले सरकारबाट पूर्ण क्षतिग्रस्त बनेका घरहरुको निम्ति 35 हजार अनि आंशिक क्षतिग्रस्त घरहरुको निम्ति 5 हजार आएको बताउँदा सबैले त्यो कुराको बिरोध गरेको अनि सबैले बराबरीको माग गरेको बताए। उनिहरुलाई सरकारबाट आएको पैसाबारे जानकारी दिदा समेत त्यसको वास्ता नगरेर विवाद बडेपछि बिनाकारण आक्रमण गरेको बताए।
यस बिषयमा तिनले गाउँलेहरुलाई यदि कसै भुईँचालो पिडीतहरुको नाम छुटे लिखित दिनुपर्ने माग गर्दा समेत वास्ता नगरि अचानक लात घुस्सिको प्रहार गर्न सुरु गरेको जनाए। यसरीनै गोजमुमो लाभा लिंगसेका महकुमा समिति सदस्य सी पी दहालले पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले कुनै कुरा नबुझि आक्रमण गरेको आरोप लगाए। तिनले आफु घटना स्थलमा रहेको बताउँदै भुँइचालो पिडीतहरुको निम्ति सरकारबाट जसरी पैसा आएको छ त्यो बारे जानकारी दिँदा कुनै वास्ता नगरी सबैलाई भुँइचालो बराबरी आएको भन्दै पैसा पनि बराबरी पाउँनु पर्ने माग गरेपछि विवाद सृजना भएर झगडा सुरु गरेको आरोप लगाए। तिनले आक्रमणकारीहरुलाई समाजका कुतत्वहरु रहेको बताउँदै तिनीहरुको नाममा थानामा प्राथमिकी दर्ता गरेको जानकारी दिदै यथाशिघ्र दोषीहरुको पक्राव गर्नु पर्ने माग गरे। यसै क्रममा तिनले ति मानिसहरुले पिथामचिन एम एस के बिद्यालयको भान्साघर भत्काएको पनि आरोप लगाएका छन। यता पिडित सोनाम टाँसी भोटियाले पनि आफुहरुमाथि बिनाकारण कुटपिट गरेको आरोप लगाए।
अर्कोतिर यस घट्नाबारे पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले भुँईचालो पिडीतहरुको निम्ति सरकारबाट आएको पैसा पंचायत कर्मीहरुले ब्यापक हिना मिना गरेको आरोप लगाएका छन। सरकारबाट भुँईचालोले पूर्ण क्षति पु-याएको घरहरुको निम्ति 35 हजारबाट पंचायत कर्मीहरुले 5 हजार अनि आंशिक क्षति भएकाहरुको निम्ति आएको 5 हजारबाट 5 सय रुपियाँ काट्ने गरेको पिथामचिनका मानिसहरुले आरोप लागाएका छन। पिथामचिन गोजमुमो शाखा अध्यक्ष एस बी शेर्पाले पंचायत कर्मीहरुले पिडीतहरुको निम्ति पैसा ब्यापक हिना मिना गरेको कारण मानिसहरु आक्रोशित भएर धक्का धक्की भएको जनाए। तिनले आफुहरुले कसैलाई आक्रमण नगरेको बताउँदै गाउँलेहरुको आक्रोस देखेर पंचायत कर्मीहरु भाग्दा लडेर घाईते भएको जनाउँदै आरोप झुटो रहेको दाबी गरे। तिनले लिंगसे ग्राम पंचायतमा ब्यापक भ्रष्टचार रहेको दाबी गर्दै यसपल्ट मानिसहरुले आक्रोष ब्यक्त गरेको अनि यस्तो अत्यचार सहन नगर्ने बताए। 

ग्राम पंचायत कर्मीहरुले गरिबहरुको निम्ति आएको पैसा बिनाकाण काट्ने गरेको अनि त्यसको जानकारी माग्दा कुनै जानकारी समेत नदिएको आरोप लगाउँदै यसमा ब्यांक कर्मीहरु मिलेको आरोप लगाएका छन। पंचायत कर्मीहरुले ब्यांकबाट विथड्रल फारम भर्न लगाएर पासबुक समेत आफैहरुले राख्ने गरेको आरोप लगाउँदै यसमा ब्यांक कर्मीहरु मिलेको दाबी गरे। यस्तो शोषण अब जनताले कुनै पनि हालतमा सहन नगर्ने बताउँदै यसबारे आफुहरुले ग्राम पंचयातमा भईरहेको भ्रष्टचारबारे ख्ण्डबिकास अधिकारीलाई आज नै लिखित अर्जी दिएको जनाए।
जकसले घट्नाको निन्दा गर्दै अनिश्चितकालीन खण्डबिकास कार्यलय र ग्राम पंचायात कार्यलय बन्द डाक्यो
डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्यूज, कालेबुंग, 11 दिसम्बर :लिंगसे ग्राम पंचायतमा भएको झगडा बिषयलाई लिएर जनमुक्ति कर्मचारी संगठनले घोर भर्त्सना जनाएको छ। पंचायत सहकर्मी माथि भएको हमलाको निन्दा गर्दै जकसका अध्यक्ष खडकबिक्रम सुब्बले दोषिहरुलाई यथाशिघ्र पक्राउ गर्नु पर्ने माग गरेका छन। तिनले पंचायत कर्मी माथि भएको हमला निन्दनिय रहेको जनाउँदै भोलिदेखि कालेबुंग महकुमा भित्र रहेको तीनवटा खण्ड बिकास कार्यालय अनि 41 वटा ग्राम पंचायत कार्यालयहरु अनिश्चितकालीन बन्द गर्ने घोषणा गरे।
भुँईचालो पिडीतहरुले न्याय क्षति पूर्ती पाउँनु पर्छ तर आशिक क्षति भएका र क्षति नै नभएकाहरुले पैसाको माग गर्दै कर्मचारीलाई कुटपिट गर्नु राम्रो नभएको बताए। यसता सामाजिक कुतत्वहरुलाई पुलिसले यथाशिघ्र पक्राउ गर्नु पर्ने माग गर्दै घटनाको बिरोधमा कार्यालयहरु अनिश्चितकालीन बन्द गर्ने जानकारी दिए। यदि यसो गर्दा समेत पुलिस प्रशासनले दोषिहरु पक्राउ नगरे सम्पूर्ण पहाडभरीकै सरकारी कार्यालयहरु बन्द गर्ने चेतावनी दिए। तिनले जबसम्म पुलिसहरुले पंचायत कर्मीमाथि भएको हमलाको जाँच गरेर दोषि पक्राउ गर्दैन तबसम्म कालेबुंग महकुमाको 3 वटा खण्ड बिकाश कार्यालय र 41 वटा ग्राम पंचायत कार्यालयहरु बन्द राख्ने बताएका छन।
तीन दिन ब्यापी कालेबुङमा कृषि पर्यटन महोत्सव शुरू -  रेलीमा 21 वर्षसम्म बिकास नभएको बिमल गुरुंगको दाबी

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्यूज, कालेबुंग 11 दिसम्बर : कालेबुङको रेली पाला मिशन टारमा आजदेखि तीन दिवसीय कृषि पर्यटन महोत्सव शुरू भयो। यस अवसरमा गोजमुमो प्रमुख बिमल गुरुंग बिशेष रुपले उपस्थित रहेका थिए। कार्यक्रममा मुख्य अतिथिका रुपमा उपस्थित रहेका कालेबुंगका बिधायक डा हर्क बहादुर छेत्रीले रिबन काटेर उद्घाटन गरे पछि कार्यक्रमको सुरुआत भयो। यस अवसरमा दागोपाप प्रशासक अनिल बर्माले स्वागत जनाए। कालेबुङका नगराध्यक्ष एलबी परियार, दार्जीलिङका विधायक त्रिलोक देवान, दागोपाप प्रशासक अनिल वर्मा, नारी मोर्चा कोर कमिटी सदस्य आशा गुरुङ, दागोपाप पर्यटन विभागका सचिव पीटी शेर्पा, विनय तामाङ आदिको उत्सवमा विशेष सहभागिता रहेको थियो। कार्यक्रममा उपस्थित रहेका गोजमुमो प्रमुख बिमल गुरुंगले तीन महिनाभित्रमा रेलीको नक्शा परिवर्तन गर्ने घोषणा गरे।
तिनले 21 वर्षसम्म कलेबुंगको रेलीम केही उन्नति नभएको बताउँदै अब नानिहरुलाई खेल्नको निम्ति एउट सुन्दर चिल्ड्रेन पार्क पनि रेलीमा निर्माण गरिदिने बताए। गुरुंगले कार्यक्रमलाई सम्बोधन गर्दै पहाड पर्यटनको ब्यापक सम्भावना रहेको अनि पर्यटकह्रुलाई सुबिधा प्रदान गर्न सके यसले बेकारी समस्यामा समाधानहुने बताए। गोजमुमोको उदय पछि 44 महिना आन्दोलन गरेर जीटीएमा हस्ताक्षर भए पनि हात बाँधेर बस्नेहरुको निम्ति उन्न्ंति नहुने बताएका छन।

आफ्नो स्थानको बिकास गर्न आफुहरुले नै परिश्रम गर्न आवश्यक रहेको बताउँदै अहिले लहलह धान फल्ने कालेबुंगमा धेरै ह्रास आएकोमा चिन्ता व्यक्त गरे। कृषकहरुको आर्थिक उन्नतीको निम्ति कृषि पर्यटन उत्सव आयोजना गर्ने आफ्नै सोच रहेको बताउँदै सरकारले कृषकहरुलाई खेति उब्जनी गर भनेर मात्र नहुनें तिनले जनाए। आफ्नो छोटो सम्बोधनमा बिमल गुरुंगले अब रेलीको नक्सा बिगत दिनको भन्दा एकदमै फरक बनाईदिने घोषणा गरे।
कार्यक्रमका मुख्य अतिथि डा. हर्कबहादुर छेत्रीले विमल गुरुङले गरेको चिल्ड्रेन पार्क बनाउने कुरालाई कुनै पनि हालतमा सफलीभूत पार्नपर्ने बताए। तिनले भने, हामीले राम्रो पर्यटकीय स्थल बनाउनुपर्छ, पर्यटकहरूलाई धेरै सुविधा हुनुपर्छ। धेरै वर्षपछि मोर्चाको सतप्रयासमा यस्तो समय फर्किएको छ जसबाट पहाडको विकासँगै पर्यटक अनि कृषि क्षेत्रमा पहल गर्न सकिन्छ। कृषि विकासका निम्ति यहॉंका शोधकर्ताहरूले धेरै राम्रा राम्रा प्रोजेक्टहरू तयार पारेका छन्‌ जसलाई कार्यन्वयन गर्ने दिशातर्फ दागोपाप प्रशासकसम्म लाने पनि तिनले बताए। उत्सवको एउटा सन्देश कृषकहरू फेरि परिश्रमतर्फ फर्केर जानुपर्ने रहेको पनि छेत्रीले बताए। तिनले भने, बङ्गालमा पुरानो सरकार हुँदा दार्जीलिङमा आलूको अनुसन्धान केन्द्र थियो। तर त्यहॉं आलूको अनुसन्धान होइन आलू पाइने ठाउँ मात्र बनेको थियो। तर त्यो अहिले कहॉं पुग्यो भन्ने पत्तो नभएको पनि छेत्रीले बताए।
कार्यक्रमलाई दार्जीलिंगका बिधायक त्रिलोक देवानले सम्बोधन गर्दै कालेबुंग बिभिन्न फुल खेतिहरुको निम्ति परिचित स्थान रहेको अनि यहाँको फूल नर्सरीहरुको विकास गर्न वागवानी प्रोजेक्ट तयार पारेर कालेबुंगमा निर्माण गर्नुपरे बताए। यसबारे सम्बन्धित निकायका मानिसहरुसित कुराकानी गर्ने तिनले बताए। काकार्यक्रमलाई कालेबुंग नगरपालिका अध्यक्ष एल बी परियारले सम्बोधन गर्दै कृषकहरुको आर्थिक उन्नतिनै मोर्चाको चाहना रहेको बताए।
KPP cries bias by govt, calls agitation
TT, Siliguri, Jan. 11: The Kamtapur Progressive Party today announced a movement to protest Mamata Banerjee government’s alleged bias against the Rajbangshis and oppose the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the administrative arrangement for the hills.

The Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee also called a strike across the state on January 16 to protest the government’s decision to form the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The KPP alleged that the government was only interested in the welfare of the people of the hills and was not working for the socio-economic uplift of the Rajbangshis.
“As the community was completely ignored during the Left Front rule, we had huge expectations from the new government which speaks of Ma Mati Manush. However, no step was taken by the new government to improve the socio-economic conditions of the Rajbangshis. The chief minister is only interested in the hills and the GTA; even her cabinet colleagues do not find time to listen to our grievances,” Kedarnath Sinha, the Darjeeling district committee president of the KPP, said here today.
“We have decided to hold a public meeting at Baghajatin Park here on January 16 to protest the government’s apathy,” he added.
The party that has been spearheading a movement for a separate state for the Rajbangshis wanted a clear statement from the chief minister that the Terai and the Dooars would be kept out of the GTA.
“We demand that the chief minister immediately announce that under no circumstances will the Terai and the Dooars be included in the GTA and that the government is not waiting for the recommendations of the high power committee formed to look into the issue. If the state doesn’t come clear on the issue soon, we will launch a movement and the January 16 meeting will just be a beginning,” said Sinha.
He said KLO militants who had been freed from jails would also attend the rally.
Anarul Sheikh, a central committee member of the KPP, said road blockades, rail roko, strikes and fasts would form part of the agitation.
The Bhasha Banchao Committee said the agreement between the government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to form the GTA had “opened up a Pandora’s box”.
“By signing an accord to form the GTA, the government has opened up a Pandora’s Box as many organisations are now raising similar demands. While the adivasis want the Gorkha Adivasi Territorial Administration, Muslims want the Gorkhaland Adivasi Minority Territorial Administration,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the Bhasha Banchao Committee.
“We will observe a 24-hour state-wide strike on January 16 to protest the government’s soft attitude towards the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha even when its frontal organisation has revived the Gorkhaland movement. If the state continues to bow down to the Morcha, we will launch a movement from the end of this month,” he said.
Anti-Gorkhaland bandh on 16 Jan
SNS, SILIGURI, 11 JAN: The Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee (BOBBBC), which convened a state-wide bandh demanding scrapping of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) accord on 16 January, has threatened to paralyse life across north Bengal.
“We would block trains at several stations and also would squat on roads to block traffic on the bandh day,” said the outfit’s president, Dr Mukunda Majumdar today in Siliguri.
“We are confident that the shutdown would be complete in north Bengal. The people overwhelmingly supported our 48-hour shutdown call on 17 and 18 July last year to ventilate protest against the unconstitutional GTA accord. The same would happen this time too, for the people would not countenance any attempt to grant autonomy to a region the citizenship-identity of whose population has remained under question,” he said.
He further said that they would picket at educational institutions and government and private establishments in Siliguri on 16 January. “This aside, we would not allow rail and road traffic in Siliguri and adjoining areas on that day,” he said.
However, the Siliguri administration is taking steps to keep life normal on the bandh day. “We would not allow any disruption either in rail or on the roads, for this would amount to violation of the judicial strictures. We would arrest the picketers if they are found disrupting normal life. Additional force would be deployed to tackle the situation,” said the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, Mr Amit P. Javalgi.
Season's first snowfall in Ghoom
TNN, DARJEELING: A second time in the season Darjeeling town has narrowly missed a date with snow. Tuesday saw an hour of snowfall in Jorebungalow. Tourists flocked to the otherwise nondescript area, 8kms away from Darjeeling, to get a glimpse of the fall. This is the first snowfall of the season in Ghoom-Jorebungalow.
Around 2pm, the clouds gathered and the air became nippier. A slight drizzle added to the apprehension of snowfall. However, Darjeeling town remained clear. The last time Darjeeling town received snowfall was in 2006.
Tiger Hill on the upper ridges of Jorebungalow which receives heavy dose of snowfall
was almost clear with only white flakes having accumulated on the road and pine trees. It had snowed in Tiger Hill on January 1.
Despite the strong winds, excited tourists rushed to Jorebungalow and Tiger Hill.
"It feels like Switzerland I have never before experienced snowfall," said Shraddha Sen, a tourist from Kolkata., from Bhowanipur in Kolkata. Another tourist Alica Gonzalves from Mumbai said she would extend her stay for a couple days.
"The snowfall this time is light compared to previous occasions. But it feels nice to play on a white blanket of snow. I hope there are more snow showers," said Pasang Lhamu, surfing on the snow slope and throwing snowballs at friends.
Initially, the snow shower was intense but strong winds drove away the cloud cover. Snow flakes poured in the town that made people on the streets shout out to each other in joy. 'ayo, ayo, abo parcha' (its come, its come now it will snow). But the excitement didn't last long as the sky soon became clear and bright sunshine peeped through the clouds. "It could have snowed but for the wind. If conditions remain chilly and there is enough cloud cover we might have snowfall by tonight," said Rupendra Pradhan at Chowrasta.
The minimum temperature continued to hover around the 2-3 degree Celsius mark with freezing conditions at night.
"Weather condition is changing daily and it is difficult to predict when it would snow heavily. The western disturbances have not brought enough moisture to favour snowfall," said the weatherman at the North Bengal University (NBU) in Siliguri. Snowfall sweeps Tiger Hill
VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Tiger Hill, Jan. 11: The upper reaches of Darjeeling received the season’s first snowfall today but the hill residents could not experience the precipitation for a long time as the sun soon broke through the gloomy sky.

Tourists enjoy the snowfall at Tiger Hill. (Suman Tamang)
As the excitement gave way to exasperation, the people, maybe for the first time, complained about the sunshine, relished much during the winter.
For most part of the day, the sky was clear in Darjeeling and also at Tiger Hill, which is at a higher elevation of 8,100ft. The sky suddenly turned grey in the Jorebunglow-Tiger Hill area around 1pm and by then, dark clouds had formed over the Darjeeling town as well.
To the surprise of even the most ardent snow chasers in Darjeeling, news trickled in that snowflakes had started descending at Tiger Hill. They did not expect the snowfall on a sunny day.
The local people and tourists alike soon starting hiring taxis for Tiger Hill. Within half an hour, Tiger Hill, 14km from Darjeeling, was teeming with snow chasers.
“It is simply heavenly. This is a once-in-a-life experience for me and my family members,” said Ashima Roy, a tourist from Calcutta.
There are not many tourists in Darjeeling at this time. But Roy’s family could only thank their stars for being in the hill town at the right time.
The sun was soon back both in Darjeeling and Tiger Hill and with it, the 2cm-thick snow started to melt.
For once, everyone in Darjeeling was disappointed with the sunshine. “It’s been quite some time since the town experienced a proper snowfall,” said Dhanraj Ghisingh, a resident of Darjeeling.
The snowfall continued for about 45 minutes at Tiger Hill.
Even though one could still see the blue sky from Darjeeling, residents screamed in excitement when some snowflakes were spotted in the town. The flakes had probably been blown from Tiger Hill.
Tiger Hill receives snowfall almost every year. The Darjeeling town, situated around 6,400ft, had last experienced the snowfall on January 26, 2008. But the residents could not enjoy much then as the snow was washed off in a drizzle. “I, however, remember playing with snow when it had snowed in the town on February 14, 2007,” said Deepmilan Pradhan, a resident.
Ball set rolling for golf course revival

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 11: One of the country’s highest golf courses at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling is set to be revived with the state tourism department inviting an expression-of-interest from both national and international firms.
The move to restore the golf course will not only help promote high-end tourism but will also bring into focus the racecourse at Lebong that has been defunct for more than two decades.
“We have already called for an expression-of-interest to revive the golf course at Tiger Hill. The response has been tremendous with both national and international firms evincing interest in the project. Some of the firms have also visited the area,” Raghvendra Singh, the principal secretary of the West Bengal Tourism Department, told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta.
He said once the firms were short-listed, they would be asked to give a presentation after January 16.
Sources said Singh had taken the initiative to revive the nine-hole golf course. “I remember playing at the Tiger Hill course when I was posted in Darjeeling in the mid-80s (as the additional district magistrate),” said Singh.
Tiger Hill is situated at an altitude of 8,100 ft.
The golf course in Darjeeling was built around 1900. “It was leased out to a club called Golf Links in 1907 by the then district commissioner for 99 years,” said Jordan Norbu, a golfer from Darjeeling.
After the British left the country in 1947, Golf Links had virtually become defunct. However, the army personnel used the turf till the late1980s. They left the area as documents proved that the land belonged to the Darjeeling Improvement Fund (district administration).
The turf was further trampled in the mid-90s, when DGHC chairman Subash Ghisingh moved in excavators and flattened a portion of Tiger Hill to construct a helipad. However, with Ghisingh failing to obtain the necessary clearance from the ministry of environment and forest, the helipad project was shifted to Dooteriya, about 20km from Darjeeling.
Norbu and his friends are now trying to revive the club. “We want to call it the Darjeeling Golf Links and we have already applied for its registration,” said Norbu.
“An expert who designs golf courses did visit Tiger Hill recently and told us that the turf itself had not been damaged much and it could be revived. The DI Fund has 32 acres of land at Tiger Hill though we are not very sure about the total area of the golf course,” said Norbu.
Singh said the course would be made operational on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model.
“The tourism department alone won’t be able to maintain and run the course. The total investment needed to revive the course will be finalised after the presentation is made by the interested parties,” he said.
Local people say apart from the golf course, the defunct racecourse could also be added to Darjeeling’s tourism stable. “None in Darjeeling needs to be told about horse racecourse at Lebong. It would be wonderful if this course is also made functional in the days to come,” said Sujit Rai.
The racecourse had first hosted the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club races in 1925 and shut its gates in 1984. The course is presently under the army.
The horses would race for anything between three laps (1,337 metres) and four-and-a-half laps (2,080 metres). Old timers recall that Governor’s Cup, Burdwan Cup and Steward Cup used to be held in Darjeeling.
Tshering Bhutia, a race regular, had earlier told The Telegraph: “The races stopped the day Indira Gandhi was assassinated and was revived for only a season a couple of years later. Non-availability of horses of good breed used to be a major problem. The Manipuri breed is the best for the Darjeeling race course, but we had to make do the with local (panther) breed.”

Gorkha girls to participate in Mumbai marathon
TNN, DARJEELING: Twenty-four-year-old Grace Rai is among the 22 Gorkha girls who will participate in the Mumbai marathon on January 15, wearing tee shirts that say, "We are Gorkhas and proud to be Indians".
"We Gorkhas have an identity crisis. The Mumbai marathon is a huge platform and we can reach out to the world," Rai said.
"Like the Kenyans and Ethiopians, who dominate long distance runs, people from the Hills too have great stamina and endurance due to the terrain we live in," she remarked. Rai, an employee in the sports department of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, had come fourth in the Maharashtra marathon in 1999.
"Since then I have only run in a few local events. This shows the kind of enthusiasm and support that marathon generates in the Hills," lamented Rai. But she believes that with good training and financial support the Hills could produce good runners.
"It is a dream come true for me to compete with the best marathon runners both nationally and internationally. Moreover, it would give me a learning curve," said Rai.
On being asked about her chances of winning, she said, "Winning is always great but my main goal is to expose the hidden talents of the Hills."
Rai recollected that she took up marathon running on the advice of one of her teachers. "I took it seriously in class V when a teacher of my school advised me to run long distances because of my endurance," said Rai. But she rues the fact that sports isn't given due recognition in the Hills.
"The last major event that I participated in was the Maharastra marathon in 1999 where I came fourth in my category. Since then I have only run in few local events; this shows the kind of enthusiasm and support that marathon generates in the Hills," lamented Rai. But she believes that with good training and financial support the Hills could produce good runnersExcept for few fellow runners and friends who garlanded her with 'khadas', Rai, an employee in the sports department of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), cut a lone figure as she prepared to board a vehicle for Siliguri, to catch her train for Delhi later on Tuesday evening. She would be accompanied by her husband Anthony on the trip. Rai does not have a trainer but is coached by her husband.
"It is a dream come true for me to rub shoulders with the best marathon runners both nationally and internationally. But the more important fact is that it will be learning curve," said Rai. On questions of a realistic chance to win the marathon, she pointed out, "Winning is always great but my main goal to participate is to expose the hidden talents of the Hills that usually doesn't come to the fore due to lack of support."

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