SPORTS: Baton reaches Himalayan state – Sikkim culture show for games curtain-raiser – Sikkim deserves the honor while Darjeeling does not ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, July 16: Snow lion and yak dancers today welcomed the Queen’s Baton to the Himalayan state through the Rangpo check-post, accompanied by a full fledged naumauti baja — a team of nine who went all out with their Nepali folk instruments.
The baton for the 19th Commonwealth Games arrived from Siliguri at Rangpo at 12.35pm. It was received at the check-post by Sikkim Olympic Association president P.K. Pradhan in the presence of sports minister N.K. Pradhan, chief secretary T.T. Dorji and a host of government officials and representatives of various sports organisations.
At 1pm, Jerry Basi, a former football player and part of the bronze medal winning national team of the 6th Asian Games at Bangkok in 1970, started the relay. Scores of students had lined up on both sides of the road to welcome the baton at Rangpo, 41km from here.
The relay was for almost 1km. Archer Tarundeep Rai, Arjuna awardee boxer Jas Lal Pradhan and Everesters Yangde Sherpa and Phul Maya Tamang participated in the run for 12 minutes. The baton then proceeded to Singtam, the commercial hub of East Sikkim, in a convoy of vehicles, halting there for another short relay.
At 3.20pm, the baton reached Gangtok and was received at Guru Lakhang monastery, Deorali, by MLA Dorjee Namgyal Bhutia and mayor K.N. Topgay. After a brief welcome ceremony, the baton was taken along NH31A by Everesters Kunzang Bhutia and Yaduram Sharma to MG Marg.
Cultural dances of various communities of Sikkim were presented in front of the state tourism office at MG Marg before the baton was taken to a decorated Paljor Stadium at 5.25pm for the evening programme to be attended by governor B.P. Singh and chief minister Pawan Chamling.
“On July 17, the baton will visit the Nathu-la border, Kupup and Sherathang, all under the control of 17 Mountain Division of the Indian Army. The army will receive the baton at the circuit house and will return it at the same place the same day,” said state Queen’s Baton relay nodal officer and sports secretary H.K. Karki.
He added that a yak relay ride for the baton has been planned at Chhangu Lake after which it will again be transported to Nathu-la in a convoy. The cavalcade will stop at the parking lot, some 500 metres below the India-China border at Nathu-la, to be carried the rest of the way.
“It is up to the army to choose its baton bearers though we are ready to provide sports person from our side if they want,” said Karki.
After a photo session at Nathu- la at 14,000ft, the baton will proceed down in a convoy to Baba Mandir and then to the golf course at Kupup. The course is said to be the world’s highest at 13,025 ft.
On July 18, the last day of the baton’s stay in Sikkim, the state-level QBR committee, sports department, SOA members of various sports associations will assemble at the circuit house at 8am to give it a farewell.
Two hours later, the baton will be handed over to the Darjeeling district administration at Rangpo on the Bengal border by the SOA president around 10am.
The Bengal route of the baton will begin with Chittrey, 14km from Kalimpong town. It will then proceed to Teesta Bazar along NH31A before entering Darjeeling town.
The subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, Amyas Tshering, said traffic on the highway could be affected. He said passengers from Kalimpong on their way to New Jalpaiguri station or Bagdogra airport should start before 9am.