GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha lease-out plea to hill council – Police station protests stop, wheel jam stays

CRPF bus goes through the GJM picket in Darjeeling on the 2nd day of 2 hour 'chakka jam' - to register or to break the peaceful GJNM resentment protests ?!! (Darpan)

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha lease-out plea to hill council – Police station protests stop, wheel jam stays – GLP not requesting lease but Darjeeling citizens demanding their presence, Bengal still not tuned into reality but spun in their own schemes ?!!

CRPF personnel try to make their way through the Morcha road blockade on Hill Cart Road at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling on Tuesday – pushing, pushing very deliberately, good for security purposes ?!! (Photo by Suman Tamang)


Darjeeling, June 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has written to the DGHC to lease out properties occupied by the Gorkhaland Personnel for a year, another conciliatory gesture from the hill party within seven days. (True lies ?!!)

The letter says the Morcha is willing to pay rents. Although the DGHC has refused to acknowledge having received the request, Darjeeling district magistrate said he had already forwarded the letter to the council administrator.

The letter comes close on the heels of DGHC administrator B.L. Meena filing FIRs against the GLP occupation of seven council buildings across the Darjeeling hills.

The Morcha, which had been on the backfoot since ABGL leader Madan Tamang’s death last month, has been in recent times trying to avoid any confrontation with the government that is out to oust the squatters from the DGHC properties.

On June 22, in another of its softening stands, the Morcha had withdrawn the GLP — a squad of lathi-wielding volunteers — from three DGHC buildings at Deolo, Relli and Kafer in Kalimpong subdivision. The same day, the party had also lifted its indefinite strike after four days. But the squad still retains the Parijat Guest House in Gorubathan, Teesta-Tribeni Guest House, Roy Villa and the tourist centre at Jamuni.

After Meena filed the FIR, police had visited the GLP headquarters in Jamuni, 40km from Darjeeling town, on June 16 following which Morcha supporters agitated in front of Kurseong police station, hurling stones at the building. The police lathicharge on the crowd had led to the four-day shutdown across the hills starting June 19.

Roy Villa in Darjeeling is a DGHC property which has remained defunct for several decades. Sister Nivedita, an Anglo-Irish social worker and among the famous disciples of Swami Vivekananda, had spent the last few days of her life at Roy Villa, where she died on October 13, 1911.

The famed Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) was also started from Roy Villa before it was shifted to its present location at Birch Hill in the early 1950s. The council had renovated the property in the late 90s but had not been put into any use, before the GLP set up its camp.

While Parjiat is supposed to be a DGHC guest house for officials, the ones at Teesta-Tribeni and Jamuni are tourist centres that have not been fully completed till date. (any wonder why ?!!)

Darjeeling district magistrate Surendra Gupta said: “I have forwarded the letter (in which the Morcha has asked the buildings for rent) to the administrator of the DGHC as the properties belong to the council.”

Sources said the letter was submitted to Gupta by a Morcha delegation on June 25.

Meena, however, said he was unaware of any such request. “No, I have not received any such request,” said Meena. The Telegraph had called up Meena on two consecutive days to enquire about the Morcha letter but the official had the same answer on both the occasions. (Does such a letter exist ?!!)

Although the Morcha had publicly maintained that it would not vacate any more buildings, its request for lease underscores the fact that it does not want to go in for any confrontation with the state. The party has also decided to stop demonstrating in front of police stations and has asked it supporters to participate in the daily two-hour road blockades instead.

“The demonstrations in front of the police stations will be discontinued from today and supporters are requested to assemble for road blockades,” read posters signed by the Morcha’s town committee that were plastered in town today. The announcement comes even as there is a crackdown on those hindering traffic flow.

“The police have started a suo-motu case against Morcha activists staging road blockades. They have been booked under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 186/506 (obstruction of public servant and criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code,” said I.J. Thapa, the inspector-in-charge of Darjeeling Sadar police station. But no one has been arrested.

The blockades had started from Monday to demand the transfer of the Kurseong subdivisional officer who had ordered the lathicharge on June 16. The party also wants a judicial inquiry into the lathicharge.

Tribal meet postponed

The meeting between the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and the state government scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed by a day, home secretary Samar Ghosh said. The tribal delegation will sit for talks over various demands, including the granting of Sixth Schedule status to the Terai and the Dooars.

Kalimpong treks on silk route – Egg supplier to Assam – agitation similar to Darjeeling but good focus on trade & industry ?!!

Similar 2 hour 'chakka jams' in Kalimpong and Kurseong - peaceful and effective to get the protest message across with no CRPF tensions or legal threats ?!!


Kalimpong, June 29: The Central Silk Board has taken around 5,000 soalu trees of the Hill Nursery here on a three-year lease to rear muga worms as the hill town has started selling eggs of muga worms to Assam, famous for its expensive yarn.

In recent times, diseased seeds have become a cause of worry for the northeastern state that has been on the lookout for healthy eggs.

Soalu plants at the Hill Nursery. (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)

According to the understanding with the Kalimpong unit of the state directorate of textiles’ sericulture division, after three years, the silk board will cultivate soalu or kutmeru trees on the land under its possession. The lease from the nursery was taken around 10 days ago.

“The interest shown by the Central Silk Board should augur well for Kalimpong and other parts of the hills that have good potential for muga cultivation,” said Arup Thakur, the head of the Kalimpong unit of the sericulture division.

“I had first experimented with muga cultivation here in 2003. With the encouragement I received from B.K. Mukherjee, additional director of the directorate of textiles, we formally started the cultivation through the department in 2005,” he said.

The sericulture department had convinced cultivators to grow soalu trees — the leaves of which are eaten by worms that produce the yarns — on about 70 acres of land.

“About 80 families cultivate soalu. An acre of land can fetch each family around Rs 7,000 after each harvest,” said Thakur.

Cocoons of silkworms that feed on Soalu trees. (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha)

The department buys cocoons from the cultivators at Re 1 a piece. The eggs are sold at Rs 5 per 100 gram within the state. The seeds are sold at Rs 6 per 100 gram to Assam. Last year, 500 seeds or eggs had been sold to Assam and 6,000 to Cooch Behar. Thakur said the target was to sell at least 4,000 seeds to Assam.

“You can either extract yarn from the cocoons or retain them and produce moths for laying eggs. These eggs or seeds are called disease-free layings or DFLs. There is a huge demand for DFLs in Assam and Cooch Behar,” said Thakur. According to him, the DFLs produced between July and August and September and October are the best.

“Muga silk costs anywhere between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 a kg in the market,” he said. He added that the department plans to expand the cultivation to other parts of the subdivision and Darjeeling.

“We want to start muga cultivation in Lingsey village. We have already started rearing the worms on a 10-acre plot of land under the Mungsong division of the cinchona plantation,” Thakur said.


Councillor does a volte-face – can of worms yet to be exposed ?!!

Chaitali Sen Sharma leaves the SMC premises after withdrawing her resignation on Tuesday - points made ?!! (Kundan Yolmo)


Siliguri, June 29: Trinamul Congress councillor Chaitali Sen Sharma today withdrew her resignation, barely 24 hours after putting in her papers and accusing her party members of harassing her.

However, the chairperson of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation said she was yet to decide if the letter intimating the withdrawal of resignation would be accepted.

This afternoon the councillor from Ward 31 and her party leader in the SMC, Gautam Deb, met chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal and handed her the letter withdrawing the resignation.

Sen Sharma who had cited “ill health and unavoidable circumstances” yesterday while quitting from her post, said today that “non-cooperation” from party workers was the reason behind putting in the papers.

The drama began late last evening when district youth leader Madan Bhattacharya and councillor Ranjan Shil Sharma, who had spit betel nut juice on a school inspector on June 9 last year, met Sen Sharma. Deb, the district president of Trinamul, later joined them to make the councillor see reason. They told her that her resignation would send wrong messages, which it did. The Congress in one of its spat with Trinamul had alleged that the party should first control its infighting.

Around midnight, Trinamul sources said, Sen Sharma had agreed to withdraw her resignation.

Asked what had prompted the U-turn, Sen Sharma said: “Our district president assured me that he would take action against those who tried to interfere with my work.” She said she had complained to the party leader against Kaushik Dutta, Bubai Dutta, Shovan Chakraborty and Mili Das.

The chairperson said she would decide on the councillor’s letter withdrawing her resignation after consulting the commissioner. “I have to follow the SMC act,” Agarwal said.

Mamata choice exposes rift – evolution possible ?!!


Cooch Behar, June 29: The Trinamul Congress state leadership’s decision to nominate Amina Ahmed the vice-chairperson of the Cooch Behar municipality is snowballing into a major rift in the party with a two-time winner in the civic elections today announcing his intention to resign as the councillor.

Expressing displeasure over being ignored for the post of vice-chairperson, Dilip Saha, however, said he would remain with the party.

“I am not quitting the party but I have made up my mind to resign as councillor. I have taken the decision after speaking with members of the party’s ward committee,” said Saha today.

Amina had been chosen by the Trinamul state leadership after the party’s district unit had failed to reach a consensus on the nominee for the post.

Saha won from Ward 5 by a margin of 987 votes. “This is the highest winning margin in any of the 20 wards of this municipality. Moreover, I contested from the same ward in 2005 and I was the only Trinamul candidate to win at that time,” said Saha.

He was critical of Amina’s husband, Abdul Jalil Ahmed, a state general secretary of Trinamul, though he did not name him. “That there was lobbying in Calcutta before the party leadership to make Amina the vice-chairperson is something that a large section of our party members here cannot accept. Therefore, keeping in mind the sentiments of our supporters and voters, I will submit my resignation as councillor to the subdivisional officer on July 6, a day after Amina Ahmed is sworn in as the vice-chairperson,” said Saha.

Trinamul’s district president denied that there was any dissent in the party. “We are going to carry out the decision of the party leadership to the letter and Amina Ahmed will be sworn in as the vice-chairperson on July 5,” said Rabindranath Ghosh.

Abdul Jalil said: “We do not want to enter into any controversy, we are doing what our state leadership wants.”

2 cars a day for Assam thieves – no blame on the KLO ?!!


Guwahati, June 29: Auto theft continues to be one of the most common crimes in Assam’s capital with two vehicles stolen on an average everyday.

Altogether 321 vehicles, including scooters and motorcycles, have been stolen from the city this year and most of them have been lifted from the Dispur police station area.

According to data available with police, from January till the first week of June, 65 auto theft cases were registered at Dispur police station followed by 42 cases at Chandmari, 32 at Jalukbari and 26 at Basistha police station.

The men in khaki have not been able to curb the menace despite their claims of intensifying vigil against theft of vehicles.

The situation was no different last year as of the 1,801 vehicles stolen from the state, 832 were lifted from the city.

A police official claimed that the police had busted several vehicle-lifting gangs at regular intervals and arrested the thieves. He, however, said the thieves after coming out of jail on bail take recourse to the crime.

“Moreover, there are many new entrants. So it is difficult to book them all,” the official said. According to him, the fact that an increasing number of youths, including students, are involving themselves in vehicle lifting is a worrying trend. “In many cases it has been found that they have become vehicle thieves as they need money to support their lavish lifestyle and it has put the police in a tight spot,” the official said.

He said police alone cannot prevent vehicle thefts as there are a huge number of vehicles in the city and the owners need to install anti-theft devices, which can go a long way in preventing the menace.

“For instance, a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device can be installed in the car, which will help police to trace the vehicle in the event of its theft or any other mishap,” the official said.

“Another problem as far as auto theft is concerned is the inter-state links of the vehicle-lifting gangs. For busting such gangs, sharing of real-time information across police stations in different states is very essential, which is not always possible because of various constraints,” he said.

The official said the Union ministry of home affairs had sanctioned a project — Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems — for linking all the police stations in the country under a single network.

“The sharing of real-time information is expected to improve once the system becomes functional as it will enable the police to have access to an up-to-date database and increase the rate of detection of crimes, including car thefts,” he said.


Hill civil society delegation to meet Buddha today – for good administration to subdue the Gorkha aspirations ?!!

From Indian Express Briefs

Kolkata, Wed Jun 30 2010, 03:38 hrs (PTI) : A delegation of the Civil Society of Darjeeling (*?!!) that was formed in the wake of the gruesome murder of Gorkha leader Madan Tamang, will meet Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday.

The group, which wants peace and democracy in the hills, is likely to request the CM to ensure good administration in Darjeeling.


Baby on bike run over

Malda, June 29: A two-and-a-half-year-old boy was run over by a truck after he fell from a scooter near Jadupur on NH34 this afternoon.

Police said the baby was on the two-wheeler with his mother Ayatullah Bibi and father Mobaraq Sheikh. He fell off the scooter after Sheikh lost control of the vehicle that was on its way to Narendrapur.

After the accident, residents of the locality blocked the highway for about two hours. The blockade was withdrawn around 3pm. Police said the driver of the truck fled with the vehicle.

Hiten Nag dies

Cooch Behar: Writer and teacher Hiten Nag passed away at a private nursing home in Siliguri on Tuesday. He was 73. Nag is survived by his wife, son and daughter. According to family sources, Nag was born in 1937 in Rangpur, now in Bangladesh.

After completing his post-graduation in Bengali from Presidency College, he joined Dinhata College as a teacher and retired from there as a senior lecturer. Nag was a member of the Forward Bloc. The party will hold a memorial meeting in Dinhata on Saturday.

Jumbo owner

Lone tusker not from Bihar but from Jharkhand - and not actually wild but mistreated into a rampage as with ?!!

Malda: The forest department has found that the tusker that had injured one person and destroyed five houses in Ratua on Sunday night is not a wild elephant.

Instead, the owner is from Sahebganj district of neighbouring Jharkhand. Divisional forest officer of Malda Ashok Pratap Singh said a captive elephant would not cause any trouble if it was not disturbed.

The owner was asked to take the animal back to Jharkhand.


HOMELAND SECURITY: 26 jawans killed in Maoist massacre belt

HOMELAND SECURITY: 26 jawans killed in Maoist massacre belt – the vicious battle continues without boundaries, an eye for an eye ?!!

26 more CRPF jawans killed in Chattisgarh - road opening parties ambushed, ignoring bandh calls and repeating same mistakes again and again ?!!


June 29: Maoists today gunned down 26 CRPF personnel in a daylight ambush from a hilltop in Chhattisgarh, the second massacre of central forces in the same state in less than three months.

The afternoon attack took place in Dhaurai in Narayanpur district, which borders Maharashtra and falls at one tip of the Maoist-infested Bastar region. The site is 200km from Dantewada, where 75 CRPF jawans were slaughtered on April 6 and which is located at the other end of Bastar.

Today’s strike means that the Maoists have book-ended the Bastar corridor with two massacres of central forces. The Centre’s initial response this evening suggested that it had factored in such casualties and could be bracing for more as a security offensive winds its way through treacherous terrain.

The slain jawans were part of a road-opening party that was apparently moving on foot, the recommended way of travel in Maoist-infested areas that are usually mined to blow up vehicles.

An injured CRPF jawan being stretchered into a hospital at Jagdalpur in Bastar on Tuesday evening - CRPF still not learning from past mistakes ?!! (AFP)

However, the jawans appear to have walked into a trap as the rebels were lying in wait on elevated terrain that offered a clean line of fire.

A senior official in the police headquarters in Raipur said: “As of now, we have reports that 26 jawans have been killed while over six have been injured.” Among the casualties was an assistant commandant, Jatin Gulati.

The team of 63 CRPF jawans, personnel of the special task force of Chhattisgarh police and special police officers had set out from a police station in the morning for sanitising a road in the area. The jawans were from the 39th battalion of the CRPF.

The Maoists struck around 3pm when the jawans were on their way back. The guerrillas opened fire when the jawans reached a canal 3km from the police station. It is not clear how the rebels, said to have numbered around 90, could amass so close to a police station without being noticed.

Although the area has thick forest cover, Narayanpur is a hot-button Maoist territory and security forces are supposed to be on their toes round the clock. The forces have come under attack in this belt on a number of occasions.

Dhauraj in Chhattisgarh where the attack happened - Maoist hotbed ?!!

The jawans today had little time to respond or take cover. Within minutes, the Maoists had inflicted heavy casualties and fled before the force could take position. However, a PTI report said the security forces did return fire.

A measure of the lackadaisical response of the civilian leadership was available in the evening when chief minister Raman Singh convened an “emergency” meeting at his residence to take stock of the situation. State home minister Nankiram Kanwar was not present when the meeting started, apparently because he was performing a puja at his residence.

In New Delhi, the home ministry gave a measured reaction to the ambush, indicating a departure from the high-octane political response that followed the Dantewada massacre. “This was expected in retaliation (to security operations against the Maoists),” said a senior home ministry official.

The government has more or less come to terms with an assessment that there would be casualties when tackling insurgents. On April 6, alarmed by the scale of the Dantewada massacre, home minister P. Chidambaram had rushed to Chhattisgarh and offered to resign. The CRPF director-general is likely to visit the state tomorrow.

The ambush occurred while CRPF director-general Vikram Srivastava was holding discussions with Chidambaram on consolidating the central force in Maoist-affected states. The Centre has decided to make some administrative changes to streamline co-ordination. Four specialised posts will be created.

The Centre has been focusing on strengthening central forces after the military expressed its reluctance to get directly involved. But the army-headed Assam Rifles could be pressed in once the defence ministry gives the go-ahead.

The Centre is likely to push states to further strengthen local police and intelligence facilities for the paramilitary forces to be more effective.

The ambush is also expected to further cloud the fate of some peace overtures made by a Maoist spokesperson last month through Swami Agnivesh.

Guerrillas kill schoolboy – desperation or plain viciousness ?!!

Running Amok - Maoist desperation or just plain viciousness for their desperate cause ?!!


Midnapore, June 29: Maoists abducted a 16-year-old boy on his way to school, shot him dead and branded him a police informer in West Midnapore’s Belpahari, an apparent act of desperation after being hit by police several times in the past few weeks.

Class X student Fulchand Mahato was found with bullets in his head and chest near a waterfall in the mountainous Kashmar village, about 2km from his home.

He was missing since leaving for school — 10km away — on a cycle yesterday.

This is the first instance of the rebels killing a schoolboy in Bengal. “The brutality shows how badly cornered and desperate the Maoists are,” said Jhargram superintendent of police Praveen Tripathi.

The Maoists are now doing things they earlier did not (see chart). A string of arrests since the May 28 Jnaneswari tragedy that killed 150 people, encounter deaths of at least nine guerrillas and a series of close shaves have apparently made the rebels resort to tactics that suggest a panic reaction.

They burnt alive the 80-year-old mother and 55-year-old sister of a CPM leader in Bankura last Wednesday. They have snatched phones from villagers suspecting moles among them.

A poster on a tree today announced that Fulchand was lying dead near the waterfall.

A joint force team traced the body. A poster left near it said he had been “given the death penalty for being a police informer”.

“His mother waited till last evening but he did not return home. Then she contacted Fulchand’s father through a relative,” said a neighbour at Jamirdiha, 275km from Calcutta

His father Srinath has been living away from home out of fear because he is a CPM supporter. Fulchand’s uncle had been shot dead by the Maoists in February 2008.

The Mahatos are traditionally CPM supporters, the neighbour said. But why should a 16-year-old become a target for his family’s political allegiance? That the Maoists know.

To escape their wrath, Fulchand’s elder brother Madhu had last year become a supporter of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities. “He quit the outfit a few months later and fled home with his father,” an officer said.

Madhu now lives in Purulia’s Bandwan, 50km from home, and Srinath with relatives elsewhere in Belpahari.

Fulchand stayed with his mother Rinku.

Srinath was at the police station today when the joint force team called up to say they had found the body. “The father fainted,” an officer said.

When he regained consciousness, Srinath said he should have stayed at home. “Then they would have killed me but spared Fulchand.”

Maoist leaders held in city – does this end the entire insurgency here ?!!


Calcutta, June 29: Five Maoists, including a state committee member and a zonal committee leader, were arrested from the southern outskirts of Calcutta in an operation that stretched from late last night to early this morning.

Of the five, four were active in and ar-ound Nandigram. The police said their “prize catch”, 44-year-old state committee member Madhusudan Mandal, was involved in the murder of Trinamul’s Sonachura gram panchayat chief Nishikanta Mandal last year.

“Madhusudan, who is from Haldia, is our biggest catch since the arrest of Telugu Deepak,” said CID inspector-general P. Nirajnayan. “He is a close associate of Deepak, also a CPI (Maoist) state committee member. The two had been tasked with spreading the Maoist base in Nandigram.”

Among those arrested was Sachin Ghoshal, 43, from Bagnan, Howrah, who allegedly “provided technical and logistical support to the members of the outfit”.

The police tracked them with the help of telephone intercepts. “We came to know Madhusudan and 19-year-old Rajesh Mandal will meet Sachin at Amtala in South 24-Parganas,” an officer said.

Sachin has been on the police’s radar for almost a year. “Our officers had rented a house near his Bagnan home,” an officer said. A team decided to tail him last night with the hope of closing in on some others as well. “He took a local train to Howrah and from there a bus bound for Amtala.”

When Sachin met two others, the police did not know how to confirm their identities. “We did not have Madhusudan’s photographs but knew he had six fingers on his right hand,” an officer said. “Count confirmed, we swooped down.”

The police found out that young Raj- esh actually worked for his father Sanjay. Rajesh’s father and Nandigram zonal committee member Siddhartha Mandal stayed in a rented house in Garia.

Early this morning, the police picked up Sanjay and Siddhartha from Garia.

“Sanjay had helped Khejuri resident Siddhartha get a job in a Sonarpur factory,” said Nirajnayan.

State police chief Bhupinder Singh described them as significant arrests. All five have been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Bapi Mahato, the prime accused in Jnaneswari Express sabotage case, recorded his statement in front of a magistrate at the CBI’s special court today.

Tussle over Assam Rifles – friends of the hills to counter Bengal’s problems, CRPF & EFR sacrifices not good enough ?!!

The proud tradition of the Assam Rifles - akin to the Indian Gorkha Regiments, to take over India's Homeland Security Issues where the EFR and CRPF failed ?!! (AFP)


New Delhi, June 29: The home ministry wants the Assam Rifles, the country’s oldest paramilitary force that guards the Myanmar border, to be deployed for counter-insurgency operations in central India.

Ministry sources said a note was being prepared to be sent to the cabinet committee on security to push the proposal amid mounting CRPF casualties at the hands of Maoists.

“Why can’t we use the Assam Rifles? They are a paramilitary force so they can be used anywhere, not just the north-eastern region,” said a ministry source.

The call to re-deploy the force — described as “friends of the hill people” by an anthropologist — has coincided with a BSF projection of adding 40 more battalions to its existing 159 to replace the Assam Rifles at India’s eastern-most border.

“We are ready, that is all I can say,” said a BSF source, adding that the force would discuss the issue at its ongoing quarterly meeting.

Behind the call to re-deploy the Assam Rifles is the tussle between the home ministry and the defence ministry over who would control the force, which is headed by army officers and has 46 battalions under two divisions. Another 20-odd battalions are to be raised.

The re-deployment idea was floated after the home ministry proposed that 20 Assam Rifles battalions should guard the borders but under its control.

Defence minister A.K. Antony has apparently rejected Chidambaram’s proposal.

But Chidambaram is said to be determined to change the Assam Rifles charter of duty that has remained limited to the north-eastern region for more than a century now.

The defence ministry, however, is not ready to give up operational control over the force. “This duality has been a problem for years now and has to be sorted out,” said a senior home ministry official.

Although the force was brought under the administrative control of the home ministry after 1965, it remains under the operational command of the army.

So both ministries have to agree for any change of responsibilities for the force that can trace its lineage to a paramilitary police force formed under the British in 1835.

BENGAL POLITICS: Ex-MLA pulled out and shot

BENGAL POLITICS: Ex-MLA pulled out and shot – and we all thought the current Gorkha agitation was extremely violent, where does this culture of violence and corruption come from ?!!

'Blood on the Streets in Darjeeling' while police look on - enough to derail any party here - ruling party still under suspicion ?!!


Nanoor, June 29: Alleged Trinamul Congress activists dragged a former CPM MLA who had been denied a ticket by the party in 2006 out of his house and shot him dead in Birbhum’s Nanoor this evening.

Some 200 people with guns, bombs, axes and rods marched into Ananda Das’s home and ransacked it as the blood-soaked body lay in front of the two-storey house.

His teenage daughter Chaiti fled through the rear with her three-year-old brother in her arms. She hid at a neighbour’s house in the absence of her mother, who was not at home.

The Class X student said the group had attacked a Citu office next door when her father went out to the verandah to see what was happening. “I told my father not to venture out and attract attention. Some of those on the rampage saw my father and one of them pointed towards him. Then they rushed towards our house,” said the girl, shaking in horror.

Das, 52, tried to run inside but in vain. The attackers beat him up and then pumped bullets into him. “He took four-five bullets and was killed on the spot,” said Birbhum superintendent of police Rabindranath Mukherjee, who was camping in the village tonight.

Das had been an MLA from Nanoor for 20 years until the party dropped him 2006.

Sources said there were allegations of his involvement in the alleged Nanoor massacre of 2000 in which 11 Trinamul supporters were killed. His suspected role in the incident may have been a reason why the party denied him a ticket six years later. Sources said the CPM had been trying to distance itself from Das.

But to many in Trinamul, he was the face of the alleged massacre. Like in most parts of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s party has been increasingly assertive in this Left bastion since the 2008 rural polls. In February 2009, five CPM activists were killed when the Marxists tried an armed “recapture” of nearby Papuri village. This February, two CPM workers were killed in neighbouring Palundi.

The genesis of today’s trouble lay in the murder bid on Trinamul supporter Samsul Hoda, 36, who is in hospital after being shot at four times.

The armed gang first raided the CPM zonal committee office. They hurled bombs and broke furniture. Then they targeted the Citu office outside Das’s house.

Chaiti alleged that the police station, less than a kilometre away, had not responded immediately to frantic calls. “They could not come in half an hour. My father was killed.”

When the police came, the attackers pelted them with stones. After rain drove the attackers away around 7.30pm, the police moved in and rescued four CPM workers who had been locked up in the party office. The SP blamed the stone-throwing for the delay. Two men have been held, he added.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose accused Trinamul of launching a “pre-planned” attack. The party has called a 12-hour bandh in Bolpur subdivision tomorrow.

Trinamul denied its role in the attack. “It is the result of the CPM’s infighting,” said its state chief Subrata Bakshi.

Mamata & Mangalkot on Manas lips – jointly stirring the emotional pot just for electoral gains ?!!

Manas Bhunia, WB Congress President - in a co-ordinated conciliatory mode with Mamata and the TMC ?!!


Calcutta, June 29: Manas Bhuniya unveiled his plans to bolster the beleaguered Congress organisation in the state and its relations with the Trinamul Congress after taking over as the state party chief.

“My primary tasks will be overhauling the organisation by mobilising a mass movement across Bengal and strengthening our alliance with Trinamul,” Bhuniya told a news conference at the state Congress headquarters.

His first move was to an- nounce a trip to Mangalkot on July 15 to mark a year of the attack on a team of Congress MLAs he had led there. They had gone to distribute relief among party workers who had fled their homes following attacks by alleged CPM supporters after one of their local leaders was killed.

The Mangalkot visit will be followed by a string of programmes in the districts during which Bhuniya hopes to get a feel of the party’s organisational strength.

Bhuniya was picked for the job to ensure smooth running of the Congress’s alliance with Mamata and he did not disappoint. “I have already worked out a joint campaign with her (Mamata Banerjee’s) party for the July 5 bypoll to the Durgapur I Assembly seat and have spoken to (Trinamul) Union minister Mukul Roy about a rally there,” the state Congress chief said five minutes after formally taking charge.

Mamata has left the seat in the CPM stronghold to her ally.

Roy said he would be part of a joint campaign with Bhuniya on July 2. “I shall be there with Manas at Mamatadi’s instance to ensure a Congress victory. The need of the hour is to see to it that our alliance is intact till the Assembly polls.”

Death for giving slice of land to daughter – Godlessness ?!!


Behrampore, June 29: A woman was allegedly hacked to death by her husband and one of her four sons because she had secretly written away a small plot to a daughter.

Her second son pushed away his sister when she tried to resist the attack this morning and her two younger sons looked on.

Mehenur Bibi, 45, had wanted to ensure her daughter had a place to stay after being deserted by her husband because she was certain the men in her own family would not let her stay with them for long.

The mother had given away one cottah from the 60 cottahs — two bighas — and a house she had in her name. The men could not bear that.

Kajla, 22, had been with her parents in Murshidabad’s Indradanga since her husband left her two years ago. She said in the FIR today how she helplessly saw her mother being killed. “Seeing my plight, my mother had decided to give a small piece of land where I could build a hut. Last week, she told my father she was going to a doctor, quietly took me to the registry office at Lalbag and had the land registered in my name,” Kajla said.

A villager who had seen them in the registry office told Imajuddin Sheikh, an affluent farmer with 12 bighas, about the mother and daughter. Mehenur confessed that she had indeed given her daughter a patch beside their house.

“I saw my father and eldest brother Mahirul hack mother. When I rushed to stop them, Zahirul threw me aside,” said Kajla. “Manirul, and Minarul (aged 18 and 16) looked on.

“Imajuddin and his sons are absconding,” said Murshidabad superintendent of police B.L. Meena.

SIKKIM NEWS: Autopsy again on maid body

SIKKIM NEWS: Autopsy again on maid body – murder, suicide or delay in rescue, Hemlata’s pleas gone unheeded ?!!

Hemlata Chettri's body brought back - Singapore's statement not made available ?!! (Darpan)


Gangtok, June 29: A second post-mortem was conducted on the body of Hemlata Chettri at the South Sikkim district hospital on Monday as her family had doubts about the nature of autopsy held in Singapore where she had died under mysterious circumstances while working as a domestic help.

The last rites of the 32-year-old woman were performed at her native village in West Sikkim today.

“We don’t know what kind of post-mortem was done in Singapore. Another post-mortem was needed by our doctors for our satisfaction as we have doubts about the circumstances of her death,” said Iman Singh Limboo, a friend of Hemlata’s family.

The woman was found dead on June 22 morning in the basement of a building where she was working. Her family alleged that she had been murdered by her employers who used to torture her.

The family received a phone call on June 22 from an anonymous woman informing them that Hemlata had committed suicide by jumping from the building.

In Hemlata’s death certificate that the Indian high commission in Singapore had faxed to the family members here, the cause of death was listed as “craniocerebral injuries”.

After the body reached Sikkim on Saturday, the relatives submitted an application to the chief judicial magistrate (South and West) for a post-mortem. The autopsy was held at the South district hospital at Namchi. This is the second post-mortem as sources have told The Telegraph that an autopsy was conducted in Singapore.

“We will wait for the post-mortem report to come before proceeding further. The report will be available within a week,” said Limboo.

Deputy inspector-general of police, range, S. Rao said Sikkim police would conduct their own inquiries.

Sources said once the inquiry report was ready, the state government could forward it to the ministry of external affairs for the matter to be taken up with the Singapore authorities. They said the police would also probe the role of Ran Maya Subba with whom Hemlata had gone to Singapore to work.

Hemlata had left for Singapore with a friend from her village in Sombaria in November.

Fish float dead in aquarium – fresh water recycle or pollution problems ?!!

Exotic fish dead in Namchi aquarium - adjustment or neglect problems ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)


Gangtok, June 29: Seven albino and black shark fish have surfaced dead at the Central Park Aquarium in Namchi, triggering questions on the safety of a dozen species reared at the facility.

The is the second incident of ornamental fish dying in less than two weeks in the aquarium that was set up as part of the beautification of the South Sikkim district headquarters in 2008.

“We noticed a difference in behaviour of 10 albino and black shark fish in their tank yesterday morning. Later, seven fish died and the other three are now kept under observation in a separate tank,” said Arjun Kumar Adhikari, the in-charge of Paksam Communication and Services that was given the charge of the aquarium.

“We have been taking care of the aquarium on a no-loss-no profit basis with whole hearted dedication as the concept itself was designed and developed by the agency,” said Adhikari.

The aquarium, set up in open space with a tree embracing it, has eight quarters to house species like angel fish, piranhas, parrot fish and gold fish. Most of the fish have been brought from Latin America, especially the Amazon forests.

Asked about the cause of the deaths, Adhikari said: “Most of the fish have shown some allergic reactions. Two dead fish have been sent for tests for investigation. We will look into the case from all angles and a detailed report will be submitted to the authorities in the first week of July.”

Sikkim urban development secretary Tobjor Dorjee said experts from Siliguri had been called to find out the cause of the deaths at the aquarium. “They will carry out an enquiry and submit a report to us in one week,” he said.

Three red tail catfish had floated dead in the aquarium on June 16 because of a snag in the continuous supply of fresh water at the facility.


GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Tribals to ask hills to back autonomy – DOOARS ADIVASIS TO MEET MORCHA LEADERS – Bengal disturbed and under pressure ?!!

Army vehicles also disallowed for 2 hours daily under the GJM indefinite bandh program - keeping the agitation pressure on peacefully ?!! (Darpan)


Siliguri, June 28: The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s north Bengal unit today said it would ask the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to support its demand for Sixth Schedule status for the Terai and the Dooars where the tribals are in a majority.

The Adivasi leaders have also decided to sit with the Morcha for a discussion but no date has been finalised yet for the meeting.

On the larger question of a joint movement with the hill party for Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh, Parishad leaders said they would have to find out first how the tribals could benefit from the creation of such a state. On May 30, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had for the first time re-christened Gorkhaland as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh and invited the tribals to join the statehood movement.

John Barla - well aware of Bengal's historical nature ?!!

“When we sit for discussions with the Morcha, we will ask them how exactly the tribals will benefit by joining the movement for a state,” said John Barla, the president of the Dooars-Terai regional unit of the Parishad. “But our main agenda will be to seek their support for our demand for Sixth Schedule status for the Terai and the Dooars.”

Barla claimed that the 350-odd tribals present at a three-hour long meeting in Banarhat in Jalpaiguri this afternoon supported the proposal to discuss with the Morcha the statehood and other issues related to socio-economic development in this part of the state.

However, the state leadership of the Parishad is opposed to any meeting with Gurung’s party and has maintained that it is ready to talk only with the government on the development of tribal areas in Bengal.

“We are aware of the stand of our state leaders but we find no harm in discussing with the Morcha areas that are of common interest. And, depending on the outcome, join the Morcha movement in the future,” Barla said.

He said the date for a meeting with the Morcha would be decided after the Parishad leadership meets state chief secretary Ardhendu Sen on Wednesday.

“Other than the date, we will also decide on the composition of the delegation after our return from Calcutta,” Barla said. “After today’s meeting, we will once again tell the Morcha about the consensus that has been reached about meeting with them.”

The Parishad leaders of the Terai and the Dooars believe that if they place the demands before the government jointly with the Morcha, they will have stronger bargaining power.

“We have been bargaining over several issues like the establishment of a 500-bed hospital in the Dooars, setting up of Hindi-medium schools and colleges in the Terai and the Dooars and the launch of vocational training courses for the past two years,” Barla said. “However, till today, none of these demands have been met and we feel that a joint movement will boost our bargaining power.”

Morcha leaders have welcomed the Parishad’s decision to hold a meeting with them.

“We will sit across the table with the Adivasis with an open mind,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media secretary of the Morcha.

“The Parishad, however, must understand that the state will adopt a carrot-and-stick policy to alienate them from us. The government is desperate to ensure that Parishad does not join us.”

Adivasis to hold talks with GJMM – Bengal avoiding the inevitable creation of a new state and should have handled the “territory issue” earlier in a Statesmanlike manner, now to loose much more ?!!

Demand Gorkhaland now to expand to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh - Bengal to steadily lose yet more territory ?!!

From The Statesman

SILIGURI, 28 JUNE, 2010: Ending all speculation, the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) has announced to sit across the table from the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) over the latter’s proposed state of Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh by incorporating the Darjeeling Hills, Terai and the

The Adivasi body ~ a reckoning force in the Dooars ~ has however, refrained from announcing the date and venue for the proposed meet.

In a meeting of its Dooars-Terai regional unit held at Banarhat in the Dooars today, the ABAVP “unanimously” gave its nod for the meeting with the GJMM.

“Following a thorough discussion that ran for three-hours, we have unanimously decided to sit with the GJMM over its proposal. But the venue and date for the bi-partite parleys would be fixed only after we had returned from the meeting with the state chief secretary in Kolkata on 30 June,” the ABAVP Dooars regional committee president Mr John Barla said over the phone.

After floating the concept of Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh (GAP) in a public meeting at Darjeeling on 30 May, the GJMM president Mr Bimal Gurung had written to the ABAVP on 3 June, proposing a joint movement for realising the demanded statehood.

Yesterday, the GJMM supremo had also served a veiled ultimatum to the Adivasi leaders to take a decision on this soon; failing which “the chapter would be deemed closed for once and all”, he had warned.

Within 24 hours of the ultimatum, the ABAVP in its pre-scheduled meeting at Banarhat today came out in favour of a dialogue with the GJMM.

According to sources in the ABAVP, of the 11 block units from the Terai and Dooars that took part in the discussions today: a majority nine favoured a meeting with the GJMM, one unit remained undecided and the remaining one opposed the move.


Rift widens after walkout – March 30 bonding on verge of break-up at SMC – Mamata choice for Cooch Behar – commie-congie nexus not highlighted ?!!

The Trinamul councillors’ meeting with the mayor in Siliguri on Monday - under pressure ?!! (Photo by Kundan Yolmo)


Siliguri, June 28: The relationship between anti-Left allies in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation soured further today with the Trinamul Congress accusing the Congress- run board of failing to upgrade the civic services.

The district president of Trinamul, Gautam Deb, said the mayor had been told that the board had not functioned according to the people’s expectations. “We told her that the new board has not been able to fulfil the expectations of the people. Wards held by the Congress councillors and, in some cases, those of the CPM have been getting more funds than the ones held by us,” said Deb, who is the leader of the party in the SMC, after a two-hour meeting with Congress mayor Gangotri Dutta. He was accompanied by nine of his party councillors.

The first sign of the relationship taking a beating in recent times came on Friday when Deb walked out of a board meeting alleging misbehaviour by Congress chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal.

Last year, the Trinamul-Congress combine had captured the SMC, dislodging the Left from the civic body for the first time since 1981. However, problems emerged when Trinamul, which like the Congress bagged 15 of the 47 seats, demanded the mayor’s post and refused to join the board. The Congress, which stood its ground, won the mayor’s post with Left support. The Left had won in 17 wards.

But on March 30, the rift seemed to disappear with Trinamul announcing that it would join the Congress soon to run the board.

Today, hinting that all was not well with the board, the Trinamul councillors told the mayor to improve services, take necessary steps against persons involved in corruption and make transparent the use of the funds that the board had received in the past eight months.

Reacting to the Trinamul’s allegations, the mayor said: “We have allotted funds for all the wards impartially. I must say that he (Deb) should keep his flock together first before trying to find fault with us.” The mayor was referring to the resignation of a Trinamul councillor, indicating that there was infighting in the party.

Immediately after Deb’s media conference, Trinamul councillor Chaitali Sen Sharma of Ward 31 submitted her resignation to the chairperson, citing ill health. Deb feigned ignorance about the resignation. “I have not received any such letter,” he said.

The chairperson confirmed receiving the resignation letter and said she was yet to take any decision. “I am looking into it,” Agarwal said.

Trinamul & Cong spar in Siliguri – while CPM backers look on and the hills bypassed ?!!


Siliguri, June 28: A Trinamul Congress delegation called on the Congress mayor of Siliguri today and accused her of failing to fulfil people’s expectations.

“We told her that the new board has not been able to fulfil the expectations of the people. Wards held by the Congress councillors and, in some cases, those of the CPM have been getting more funds than the ones held by us,” Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb alleged.

He led a team of nine party councillors to Gangotri Dutta’s office in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation and spent almost two hours there.

Last year, the Trinamul-Congress combine had captured the 47-ward civic body, dislodging the Left for the first time since 1981. Trouble erupted when Trinamul, which had 14 councillors and the support of an Independent, demanded the mayor’s post. The Congress, which had 15 councillors, went one up, bagging the chair with Left support.

But the rift appeared to have disappeared this March when Trinamul announced it would join the Congress to run the board, creating a curious case of a Congress mayor propped up by the CPM as well as Mamata Banerjee’s party.

The first sign of the Congress-Trinamul relationship taking a beating here came on Friday when Deb walked out of a board meeting alleging misbehaviour by Congress chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal.

Today, again hinting that all was not well, the Trinamul councillors told the mayor to improve services, take steps against the corrupt and make the use of funds transparent.

Reacting to the allegations, mayor Dutta said: “We have allotted funds for all the wards impartially. He (Deb) should keep his flock together before trying to find fault with us.”

She was referring to the resignation of a Trinamul councillor, indicating that there was infighting in the party.

Trinamul’s Chaitali Sen Sharma submitted her resignation to the chairperson, citing ill health.

Her leader, Deb, said he did not know about it.

Calcutta model for civic deputy – typically Bengal ?!!

Amina Ahmed, vice president of Cooch Behar Municipality - power behind the Congress ?!! (Photo by Main Uddin Chisti)


Cooch Behar, June 28: The vice-chairperson of the Cooch Behar municipality has been selected by the state leadership of the Trinamul Congress after the district leaders failed to choose Biren Kundu’s deputy.

Amina Ahmed’s name was faxed to district Trinamul president Rabindranath Ghosh by the state committee this morning. Mamata Banerjee’s choice of a woman member from the minority community for the post is a replica of her Calcutta model where Farzana Alam is the deputy mayor.

In the civic polls in May, the Congress won in eight and Trinamul in three seats of the 20 wards of the town. The Left Front had captured nine wards.

The Congress’s Kundu was sworn in as the chairperson of the municipality on June 18 for the fourth term running. Since there was disagreement within Trinamul over the choice of the vice-chairperson, the matter had been referred to the state committee.

Even though there was no electoral alliance between Trinamul and the Congress, the two parties joined hands to keep the anti-Left board intact in Cooch Behar.

Party insiders said both Amina and her husband Abdul Jalil Ahmed, one of the state general secretaries, were very close to Mamata. Even though this is her first foray in electoral politics, Amina was an active campaigner for her husband in the past three Assembly elections.

“She won the elections by contesting from a general ward, and that is a very good achievement,” said district president Ghosh.

Amina said she was very excited. “I cannot express in words how happy I am. My party has given me a very big responsibility and I will discharge my duties keeping in mind the ideals and policies of Mamata Banerjee,” she said.


KLO planned abduction blitz to raise funds – Siliguri Corridor under threat now, Bengal perplexed ?!!

From Express India
By Madhuparna Das

Kolkata, Jun 29, 2010 at 0258 hrs IST: Interrogation of three arrested leaders of Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) revealed a blueprint for the abduction of six businessmen in Darjeeling.

The militants had planned to earn a ransom of about Rs 25 crore from them. The money was meant to be used to revamp the North-Bengal based terror outfit which has links with Assam’s ULFA and the NSCN(IM) of Nagaland.

“The outfit is going through a financial crisis which made them hatch the plans of abduction,”said D P Singh, Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling.

One of the three leaders of the KLO arrested on 19 June was Chila Roy (26), who is active in North Bengal and Darjeeling.

During questioning, he reportedly admitted the organisation, which was getting weak in terms of insurgency activities, planned to join hands with Maoists and spread terror in the region once again.

According to Chila, a meeting was held between KLO chief Jiban Singh and Maoist leader Kishenji in Assam, an officer said. He has divulged the name of the place and the date of the meeting, the officer said.

“In the first week of June, we received a note from the SP of Kokrajhar,” the officer said. “The note gave specific inputs about the meeting which Chila confirmed.”

Jiban Singh is currently roaming in border areas of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts of lower Assam keeping nexus with ULFA and senior Maoists leaders.

“Chila has also named several KLO leaders and admitted that they have roped in several criminals to execute the plan of a terror attack in the area,” said Singh.

There are cases against Chila in Darjeeling, Coochbehar and Malda. “He was a mastermind assigned to strengthen links with the CPI-Maoists and to collect funds for terrorist activities in the area,” Singh said.

He was also in charge of preparing a core area in the region for the Kamtapuri Communist Party (KCP) in association with CPI-Maoists.

The KCP was formed in 2009 by Ratan Roy, Maoist and KLO linkman. But after he was arrested from Bakshirhat, Malda, the party remained almost defunct for several months, said a senior police officer of north-Bengal.

A few days ago, Ratan was granted bail and has become active again. “Chila told us that Ratan is working to set up a core area for KCP in the region and the group’s presence will be felt soon,” he said.

Chila will soon be taken to Assam by the Coochbehar police for the reconstruction of some crime scenes related to cases against him.

Father’s query on slain jawan’s battle gear – Bengal unaware that it is somehow alienating  consensus against itself ?!!

Muslims mourn in Malda - Jyoti Basu's appeasement politics now multiplied ?!! (Photo by Surajit Roy)


Malda, June 28: A gun salute was accorded to Mohammad Etaharul Islam, the Straco constable killed by Maoists in West Midnapore, at the Manikchak police station this morning before the body was handed over to his family for the last rites.

Before setting off for the burial, a grim Rabinul Momin said no one could tell him if his son was wearing a bullet-proof jacket during the encounter with Maoists. “Why were he and other brave young men fighting the Maoists not given proper equipment in these operations. I have not received the answer from any one,” he said.

One of Etaharul’s close friends, Rizaul Haque, said the state government should look into the quality of the equipment police were using. “More and more young men will fall to Maoist bullets if they are not given proper fighting equipment,” he said.

The commandant of the 4th Battalion of the state armed police posted in Raiganj, T.F. Lepcha, said he had no idea if the slain constable was wearing a bullet-proof jacket during the attack. “What I know is that a group of about 30 Maoists attacked 20 policemen early Sunday morning. Etaharul fired and the bullet hit one of the rebels. Then, the Maoists targeted him,” he said.

The secretary of the Non-gazetted Police Workers’ Association, Pritimoy Guha, said they had already drawn the attention of the state government to the fact that there was not enough equipment for the police to tackle the Maoists. “I will not say anything further on the matter,” he said.

Superintendent of police of Malda Bhuban Mondol, who along with other senior officers of the force was present during the gun salute, said Etaharul’s family would get a compensation of Rs 15 lakh from the government. “Besides, a member of his family will get a job in the police,” he said.

Thousands of people gathered at Etaharul’s home at Shyampurchowki-Momintola, 40km from Malda, to pay their last respects to the jawan. The body had arrived in a police vehicle around 6.30pm from West Midnapore.

Etaharul’s body was taken in a huge procession at 11am to the burial ground at Momintola, 1.5km from his home.


Guests beat up driver

Alipurduar, June 28: A driver of a North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus was beaten up allegedly by guests headed home from a wedding last night after he reportedly refused to take the vehicle down a narrow kutcha road on the outskirts of the town.

Subhash Ghosh, the driver, has been admitted to the Alipurduar hospital after he was found unconscious on the roadside, where he had been lying for two hours. NBSTC authorities have lodged a police complaint against the accused. Police said the two accused were missing.

Girl missing

Islampur: A Class VIII student of Milanpally High School near here is missing since Sunday evening. The 13-year-old girl had left home for tuition classes on Sunday but did not return. The girl’s father Abdul Bashid filed a missing person’s diary with the Islampur police on Monday.

Rebels held

Kokrajhar: Two cadres of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (anti-talks faction) — Sunil Mochahari, 23, and Kanen Daimari, 25 — were apprehended by security forces from near the Mazbat railway station in Udalguri district of Assam at 6am on Monday.


Islampur: Md Akhtar, 25, a resident of Balipur near Chakulia, committed suicide by consuming poison at his house on Sunday night.

WILDLIFE: Snow leopard gets mate – Sikkim zoo joins captive breeding

WILDLIFE: Snow leopard gets mate – Sikkim zoo joins captive breeding – sharing blood ties with Darjeeling for a better future ?!!

Ravi, the male snow leopard, rests under a tree - lonely days ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)


Gangtok, June 28: The lonely days and the even gloomier evenings are over for Ravi. At least that is what the park authorities hope.

After spending four years of solitary life within a 1,015sqm enclosure, the brooding Ravi now has feline Malaika for company in the sylvan surroundings of the Himalayan Zoological Park near here.

It is difficult to say if there has been love at first sight between the two as Malaika has arrived only today and Ravi has been keeping a cool distance, spending hours under a tree. But their handlers are hoping that the two will strike a rapport soon and produce results, literally.

Malaika, the female snow leopard, brought in from Darjeeling - yet to be heatedly attractive to Ravi ?!! (Photo by Prabin Khaling)

Ravi is a five-year-old male snow leopard that has been living in the park at Bulbuley, 10km from here, since 2006. Malaika, also of the same age, was brought to the park today from Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park in Darjeeling.

“The female snow leopard has been brought here as part of the captive breeding programme of Himalayan Zoological Park,” said the park’s additional director Gut Lepcha. He added that the Darjeeling park is the co-ordinating zoo under the Central Zoo Authority for captive breeding of the snow leopard.

“The Central Zoo Authority decided last year that the Himalayan Park would be a participating centre for the captive breeding of the snow leopard and hence the female animal has been sent here,” said Lepcha.

He said the next step would be to develop more infrastructure. “The current enclosure is suitable only for the pair. Once they breed in captivity, we have to strengthen our infrastructure,” said Lepcha.

The official said there was no fixed mating season for captive snow leopards.

“Now, we will be monitoring the progress of this pair after they get familiar with each other and how the captive breeding programme goes,” said Lepcha.

Himalayan Zoological Park is located at 5840ft and is spread over 230 hectares of mountainous land with terrain suitable for high altitude animals and birds.

It currently has 52 different specimens of birds and animals which also include the red panda and the Tibetan wolf.


Tusker goes on a rampage

Lone tusker from Bihar - angry about something ?!! (Photo by Surajit Roy)


A lone tusker that had come from Bihar by crossing the Fulhar on Sunday night went on the rampage at Mahanandatola and adjoining villages in Ratua block of Malda district, injuring one person and destroying five houses.

The villagers spent the night beating drums and bursting crackers but failed to drive out the animal. Although foresters were informed about the depredation, no officials visited the area till Monday afternoon.

EDUCATION: August date for science college

EDUCATION: August date for science college – desperate bid to retain  Siliguri within Bengal while Darjeeling justly ignored by Bengal ?!!


Siliguri, June 28: The Government Science College at Himanchal Vihar will be inaugurated by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the third week of August.

“The construction is nearly complete and the college will probably be inaugurated by the chief minister in the third week of August,” said Asok Bhattacharya, the minister for urban development, at a media conference today.

He said the construction had been undertaken by the Siliguri-Jalpiaguri Development Authority and the total cost was Rs 458.63 lakh.

“If the teaching posts are filled up on time, we will try to start the classes from the 2010-2011 academic session,” Bhattacharya said. The minister is also the chairperson of the SJDA.

Initially, the science college will offer honours courses in physics, chemistry, zoology, mathematics, botany, computer applications and English.

“According to the suggestion given by the CM, we have decided to name the institution after the famous scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. This is to commemorate the scientist’s 150th birth anniversary this year. We are also trying to start post-graduate courses in the future,” said Bhattacharya.

The college at Matigara, 6km from here, will be able to accommodate 25 students in botany and zoology and 45 students in chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer applications and English courses.

At present there are only two colleges in Siliguri — Surya Sen and Siliguri College — that offer science courses and the total number of seats is 291 (honours and general).

“The state higher education department has set up the institution to cater to the growing demand for science subjects among the students. Candidates who pass out with good results from different boards aspire to get enrolled in the science stream. But there is a dearth in the number of seats available. This college will to some extent solve the problem,” the minister said.

He added that 20 posts for teachers hade been sanctioned, three each for the science courses and two for English. “We have also begun the process of recruiting them,” Bhattacharya said.

State go-slow on schools’ no-fail policy – illiterate expansion program ?!!


Calcutta, June 28: The Bengal government will not immediately introduce the policy of not detaining students till Class VIII as stipulated in the Centre’s right to education act.

School education minister Partha De told the Assembly during Question Hour today a final decision to do away with the screening of students between Classes V and VIII would be taken after a survey on its pros and cons and an understanding of how to negate any possible adverse impact.

“The survey will be held to examine the progress of students under the present system in which laggards are held back (after Class IV). We will also find out to what extent the students will benefit if there is no annual screening. A decision on scrapping the annual exams and detention of students will be taken on the basis of the survey’s findings,” De said in response to a question from the RSP’s Jane Alam Mian.

Schools — government, government-aided and private — across boards cannot detain students till Class VIII under Right of Children for Free and Compulsory Education Act, which was recently passed in Parliament. The law has become effective from April 1.

One of its clauses states no child shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education at the age of 14, a source in the education department said.

“It is a central legislation and it can’t be rejected. But before we accept the provision dealing with no-detention till Class VIII, we must know what measures need to be taken to ensure that the new policy works out successfully and students can really benefit from it. We need time to adopt the new law,” the minister said.

De did not mention a timeframe within which the existing system — of no detention till Class IV — would be scrapped. Nor does the law specify any deadline for the implementation of the new policy, education officials said.

Many teachers feel the state is delaying the process because of its lack of education infrastructure. “Once the no-detention policy is implemented, the demand for junior high schools (Classes V to VIII) will considerably increase. The policy will not work if the state government does not set up enough such schools,” a primary school teacher said.

There are about 12,000 junior high and secondary schools in Bengal but that may not be enough to accommodate the possible increase in the number of students if the no-detention policy is implemented.

Annual exams are not held in Bengal’s 59,000-odd state-aided primary schools (till Class IV). But many students drop out after failing to clear their Class V annual exams.

What the teacher meant was that if these students didn’t drop out, the state would find it difficult to give them room to sit.