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27 Jan 2015

TMC slams Centre for rejecting W Bengal tableau at R-Day... Kanya Shree theme apparently was rejected on grounds that it did not convey the spirit of the state in any way

BS, Kolkata January 26, 2015: The rejection of West Bengal’s tableau for the parade in New Delhi sparked yet another conflict between the(TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The relationship between TMC, in power in West Bengal, and the BJP, in power at the Centre, is strained at best. The rejection only aggravated it, with TMC MP and national spokesperson Derek O’Brien tweeting: “Bengal tableau for Republic Day depicting path-breaking initiative was not allowed. We repeatedly requested... Life goes on.”

Sources said the ground for rejecting the tableau was the theme — West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s per project Kanya Shree. It was judged to not convey the spirit of the state in any way.

Under the scheme, unmarried girls, aged 13 years and 18 years and studying in Class VII to Class XII in a state government-affiliated school, are entitled to an annual stipend of Rs 500. A one-time grant of Rs 25,000 is also offered to unmarried girls, aged between 18 and 19 years, to pursue higher education. The state government had allocated Rs 287 crore for the scheme in 2013-14.

Chief Minister Banerjee often refers to the scheme as one of her biggest successes. Sources said it was her wish that the scheme should be highlighted.

At the Republic Day parade on Monday, attended by US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, 16 states and nine government departments displayed their tableau.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project Beti Bachao Beti Padhao was also featured in a tableau. The 13 states not represented at the parade included — besides Bengal — Opposition-ruled Bihar and Tamil Nadu but also BJP-ruled Rajasthan as well as Punjab, where BJP is in power, along with Akali Dal.

Majority of non-BJP ruled states unrepresented at R-Day... Rajasthan and Punjab were surprisingly not among the 16 states that displayed their rich culture through their tableaux

PTI, New Delhi January 26, 2015: Majority of non-Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)-ruled states such as Bihar, West  Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, were among the 13 states that went  unrepresented in showcasing their heritage through tableaux at the 66th Republic Day celebrations here on Monday.

Rajasthan and Punjab, where BJP is in power or shares power with its ally  Shiromani Akali Dal, were surprisingly not among the 16 states that  displayed their rich culture through their tableaux.

Some of the north-eastern states of Nagaland, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram, besides Himachal Pradesh and national capital  territory (NCT) of Delhi also went unrepresented during the Republic Day celebrations in the national capital that saw US President Barack  Obama, the first ever American president, to be the chief guest.

No tableaux from among any of the in the country rode past the during the celebrations. Among the 25 colourful tableaux from 16 states and other central government departments that depicted the rich cultural heritage and diversity of the country.

The new schemes enunciated by the NDA government were also showcased.

Some of these include Prime Ministers Narendra Modi's pet projects like Make in India, aimed at promoting manufacturing sector, Jan Dhan Yojna for financial inclusion of all, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme for saving and educating the girl child, Save Ganga project for saving river Ganga from pollution and promotion of alternative medicine system, besides introduction of bullet trains.

Telangana, which was the latest state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh last year, made its debut at the Republic Day celebrations through its tableau with the theme "Bonaalu" — the illustrious state festival celebrated  to worship Mahankali Goddess.

26 Jan 2015

GNLF slams state govt, GTA over govt depts transfer

SNS, Kurseong 25 January 2015: The Gorkha National Liberation Front, (GNLF), have criticized the state government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, (GTA) and the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha, (GJMM) leadership saying the government departments demanded by the GTA leadership would not be transferred to the GTA as the GTA has no ability and legality to run such Government departments.
Talking to the reporters, the GNLF Kurseong branch, spokesperson, Mr. Daya Dewan said that during the CM’s recent Darjeeling tour, the GJMM and the GTA leadership had demanded immediate transfer of various government departments to the GTA. But they should understand that it will never be done. The ‘demanding body’ GTA is also demanding the departments uselessly and the ‘giving’ body, the state government is also giving fake assurances to them. He further added that both the GTA leadership and state leadership have been placing their own false stance and assurances that the government departments would be transferred to the GTA soon.
Mr. Dewan further revealed that, how could a central government and constitutionally framed government departments be handed over to the anti-constitutional GTA, he questioned.
He claimed that Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, (DGHC) was however a constitutionally framed autonomous body but even than it had no proper capability to run government departments independently and in a full-fledged manner.
Hence, this was the reason that their party chief, Mr. Subash Ghisingh had later come forward to include the entire Darjeeling hills under the Sixth Schedule status of the Indian constitution. He asserted that the Sixth Schedule status carried several powers to run departments independently.
Presently, the administrative power has been applied randomly in Darjeeling hills by the state government and the GTA as well.
He said that in the coming days, the GJMM and the GTA leadership will definitely learn themselves on the matter that the GTA cannot bring or run government departments fully or independently in its present capacity.
Hence, for the interest of Gorkha community and its land, all must support the sixth schedule status for the Darjeeling hills, he urged.

Prime Minister's Media Statement during Joint Press Interaction with President of United States of America

PR, KalimNews, New Delhi, 26 January 2015: Barrack Obama, the President of USA and the first lady, Obama is on a three-day visit to India where he has been invited by India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to attend the country's Republic Day parade.Modi and Obama addressed the media after their talks in Delhi. Following is the excerpt of Modi's address.

Mr. President and members of the media,
It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome back President Obama and the First Lady in India. 
Mr. President, we are honoured that you accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest for our Republic Day and I know how busy you are. 
It is special because on this day we celebrate the values shared by the world's two largest democracies.
You are also the first United States President to visit India twice in Office. 
It reflects the transformation in our relationship. It shows your deep personal commitment to this partnership.
It tells us that our two nations are prepared to step forward firmly to accept the responsibility of this global partnership – for our two countries and for shaping the character of this century.

The promise and potential of this relationship has never been in doubt. This is a natural global partnership. It has become even more relevant in the digital age. It is needed even more in our world of far-reaching changes and widespread turmoil. 
The success of this partnership is important for our progress and for advancing peace, stability and prosperity around the world. 

From the turn of this century, we have begun transforming our relationship. But, we have to convert a good start into lasting progress. 
This requires translating our vision into sustained action and concrete achievements. 

Mr. President, in the last few months, I see new excitement and confidence in this relationship. I see renewed energy in our engagement. I thank you for your leadership and for setting the tone last September, when I visited White House. 

The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust. It also created new economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy. In the course of the past four months, we have worked with a sense of purpose to move it forward. I am pleased that six years after we signed our bilateral agreement, we are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international legal obligations, and technical and commercial viability.

President Obama has also assured me of strong U.S. efforts in support of India's full membership of the four international export control regimes at the earliest. 

Today, we have also decided to take our growing defence cooperation to a new level. We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects. These will help upgrade our domestic defence industry; and expand the manufacturing sector in India. 
We will also explore cooperation in other areas of advanced defence technologies. 
We have renewed our Defence Framework Agreement. We will deepen our cooperation on maritime security.

Terrorism remains a principal global threat. It is taking on a new character, even as existing challenges persist. We agreed that we need a comprehensive global strategy and approach to combat with it. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups. Every country must fulfil its commitments to eliminate terrorist safe havens and bring terrorists to justice. 
Our two countries will deepen our bilateral security cooperation against terrorist groups. And, we will further enhance our counter-terrorism capabilities, including in the area of technology. 

President Obama and I agree that a strong and growing economic relationship is vital for the success of our strategic partnership. Economic growth in our two countries is becoming stronger. Our business climate is improving. This gives me great optimism about our economic ties. 
In addition, we have established a number of effective bilateral mechanisms to identify opportunities and also help our businesses trade and invest more. 

We will also resume our dialogue on Bilateral Investment Treaty. We will also restart discussions on a Social Security Agreement that is so important for the hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals working in the United States. 
For President Obama and me, clean and renewable energy is a personal and national priority. We discussed our ambitious national efforts and goals to increase the use of clean and renewable energy. We also agreed to further enhance our excellent and innovative partnership in this area. I asked him to lead international efforts in making renewable energy more accessible and affordable to the world. President and I expressed hope for a successful Paris Conference on climate change this year. 

We will continue to deepen our collaboration in science, technology, innovation, agriculture, health, education and skills. These are central to the future of our two countries; and also give us an opportunity to help others around the world. 
Indeed, our strategic partnership will only be complete if we assume our responsibility to work together to promote development and connectivity in our vast region. President Obama and I agreed to pursue this goal with a sense of priority. 

President and I had an excellent discussion on global and regional issues. In particular, we renewed our commitment to deepen our cooperation to advance peace, stability, prosperity in Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which is critical for the future of our two countries and the destiny of this world. We will also work closely to help Afghanistan through its transition. 
Our relationship stands at a new level today. We have outlined a broad vision for our friendship and cooperation that reflects the opportunities and challenges of this century. As Lord Buddha said, noble friends and companions are the whole of the holy life. 

We have decided to give this critical partnership a new thrust and sustained attention. For this, we have agreed that India and the United States must have regular summits at greater frequency. And, we will also establish hotlines between myself and Barack and our National Security Advisors. 
At the beginning of this year we start a new journey. 

Let me welcome you once again, Mr. President. It is a great pleasure to have you with us. 

25 Jan 2015

Mamata makes surprise visit to SJC

PRASHANT ACHARYA, EOI, SILIGURI, 24 Jan 2015: Even as she has publicly excoriated the media on several occasions for being biased against her party and government, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday made a surprise visit to the Siliguri Journalists’ Club ostensibly to offer prayers to the goddess Saraswati.
The chief minister appeared a little upset as she had not got an opportunity to pay obeisance to the goddess. She had put up at the NHPC bungalow in Fulbari and some reporters had gone there in the morning seeking an interview, but Mamata had no desire to interact with them. She offered them tea and rued of not getting a chance to pray to Saraswati. Some of the scribes present suggested the chief minister could pay a visit to the SJC where a puja had been organised.
Mamata surprised everyone by taking the advice to heart and appearing at the club around 1:30 in the afternoon. She prayed before the goddess and spent nearly 10 minutes chatting with some women journalists. Before she left, the chief minister promised a get-together with club members when she visits next en route to the Dooars.
The unscheduled itinerary caused a huge traffic jam in town as the  traffic police had no prior information about the visit. North Bengal IG Javed Shamim was personally seen supervising his officers who looked bewildered and dazed in the face of the worsening traffic situation.
Siliguri Journalists’ Club secretary Angshuman Chakraborty said, “This was the first time that a chief minister of our state visited the club. She also said she would soon personally meet each one of us at a get-together programme and has instructed NBDD minister Gautam Deb to remind her of her promise during her next visit.”
The chief minister flew back to Kolkata from the Bagdogra airport in the afternoon.

24 Jan 2015

‘खम्बुहरूलाई जनजातिको मान्यता दिनुपर्छ’ – भन्ने नाराले गुञ्जियो कालेबुङ

डा सामुएल राई   समारोहमा सम्बोधन गर्दै
डी.के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ 24 जनवरी। “किराँती खम्बुहरूलाई सरकारले झट्ट जनजातिको मान्यता दिनुपर्छ” – भन्ने नाराले आज पुन: एकचोटी कालेबुङ शहर गुञ्जियो। हात-हातमा जनजातिको दर्जा दिनुपर्ने मागमा लेखिएको प्ला कार्डहरू बोकेर किराँती खम्बुहरू सडकमा नाराबाजी गर्दै ओर्लिएका थिए। अवसर थियो किराँती खम्बुहरूको येलेदोङ पर्व 5075। 
किराँती खम्बु राई सांस्कृतिक संस्थान कालेबुङको आयोजनामा र खम्बु राइट्स मुभमेंट्को सहयोगितामा सम्पन्न भएको येलेदोङ पर्व 5075को अवसरमा बिभिन्न स्थानहरूबाट किराँती खम्बुहरू भेला भएका थिए। यहाँको मेला ग्राउण्डमा सम्पन्न भएको उक्त कार्यक्रम पूर्व उनीहरूले जनजातिको मागमा नाराबाजी गर्दै शहरमा जुलुस निकालेका थिए। 
आफ्नो जनजाति भेष भूषामा सजिएका किराँती माङपा अनि माङमाहरूले र्‍यालिलाई प्रतिनिधीत्व गरेका थिए भने पछिबाट उनीहरूलाई जातिय पोषाकमा सजिएका किराँतीहरूले साथ दिएका थिए। मेला ग्राउण्डबाट निकालिएको उक्त र्‍याली यहाँको थाना डाँडा, मेन रोड, डम्बर चौक, दशमाइल फाटक, आर.सी मिन्त्रि रोड हुँदै पुन: डम्बर चौकमा आइपुगेर टुँगिएको थियो। 
यस अवसरमा मुख्य अतिथिका रूपमा सिन्कोना अनि अन्य औषधिय पौधाका निर्देशक डा सामुएल राई उपस्थित रहेका थिए। किराँती माङ्पाहरूले बिधिवत पूजा अर्चना गरेपछि सुरू भएको कार्यक्रममा किराँती खम्बु राई सांस्कृतिक संस्थानका कालेबुङ महकुमा समितिका सचिव अरूण प्रकाश राईले स्वागत सम्बोधन गर्दै किराँती खम्बुहरूलाई जनजातिको मान्यता सरकारले झट्ट दिनुपर्ने माग गरे। 
रेमन्ती  राई
‘किराँती खम्बुहरू जनजाति हुन्। सरकारले जनजातिको मान्यता दिएर न्याय दिनुपर्छ’ अरूण प्रकाश राईले भने। कार्यक्रममा किराँती खम्बुहरूको सांस्कृतिक सर समान, फोटो, जातिय खाद्य आदिको प्रदर्शन पनि राखिएको थियो। उक्त स्टलहरूको मुख्य अतिथि डा सामुएल राईले विधिवत उद्घाटन गरे। यसै अवसरमा सिक्किम नर्थ इष्ट सुपर स्टार रेमन्ती राईलाई किराँती खम्बु राई कालेबुङ महकुमा समितिको पक्षबाट सम्वर्द्धना जनाइयो। मुख्य अतिथि डा सामुएल राईको बाहुलीबाट अङ्ग वस्त्र ओढाई अनि सम्वर्द्धना पत्र प्रदान गरेर उनलाई सम्मानित गरिएको थियो। 
कार्यक्रममा मुख्य अतिथि अनि विशिष्ट अतिथिहरूको बाहुलीबाट खम्बु राइट्स मुभमेंट्ले प्रकाशित गरेको क्यालेण्डरको पनि बिमोचन गरियो भने गायिका रेमन्ती राईको बाहुलीबाट प्रणेश राईको गीति एल्बम ‘सेन्तेरेम’को बिमोचन गरिएको थियो। 
यस अवसरमा किराँती भेष भुषाको फेशन सो र प्रतियोगिता पनि आयोजन पनि गरिएको थियो। उक्त फेशन सो पूर्ण रूपले किराँती खम्बुहरूको सांस्कृतिक धुन अनि परिहनमा सम्पन्न भएको थियो। यस अवसरमा बिभिन्न स्थानहरूबाट आएका अतिथि कलाकारहरूले सांगीतिक प्रस्तुती गरेका थिए। किराँती समुदाय भित्र धेरै कलाकारहरू हुँदा हुँदै पनि उनीहरूलाई किराँतीहरूले नै चिन्न नसकिरहेको अवस्थामा उक्त कलाकारहरूलाई आफ्नै जातिको माया र जातिभित्रै परिचय बाँट्न अतिथि कलाकारहरूलाई चिनाउँने प्रयास गरिएको आयोजक समितिले जानकारी गराएको थियो। 
कार्यक्रममा किराँती खम्बुहरूलाई जनजातिको मान्यता दिनुपर्छ भन्दै दिल्लीको जन्तर मन्तरमा धर्ना प्रदर्शन गर्ने खम्बु राइट्स मुभमेन्टका कार्यकर्ता र सदस्यहरुलाई पनि सम्मानित गरियो। 
यसै अवसरमा किराँती खम्बु राई सांस्कृतिक संस्थानका महासचिव बिनिता खम्बुले किराँतीहरूलाई जनजातिको मान्यता दिनुपर्ने मागमा सम्पूर्ण मन्त्रालयहरूमा पत्रचार गरिसकेको बताउँदै यसपल्ट राज्यपाललाई समेत जनजातिको मागमा ज्ञापन पत्र बुझाइसकेको जानकारी गराइन। उनले किराँतीहरू जनजाति हुँदा हुँदै सरकारले मान्यता नदिनु दुर्भाग्यपूर्ण रहेको थप बताइन।

Deadline ends for new Constitution, Nepal lawmakers intensify stir

Nepal steps up security fearing more trouble in parliament
Nepalese riot police stand guard near the constitutional assembly
building in Kathmandu. (AFP photo)
EOI & PTI, Kathmandu, 23 Jan 2015:Nepal's opposition lawmakers led by Maoists on Friday intensified their protests over a new constitution leading to fresh chaos in parliament, a day after the House missed the deadline to promulgate the new statute. The Parliament session in Kathmandu ended without agreeing on its draft amid chaotic scenes late on Thursday night.
The opposition lawmakers chanted slogans and jumped into the well of the main chamber as soon as the Parliament opened, though three hours behind schedule.
"Announce a constitution based on consensus," the protesting lawmakers chanted.
They even overpowered and stopped Nepali Congress chief whip Chin Kaji Shrestha when he headed towards the main well to read out proposals to constitute a Questionnaire Committee as part of the process to draft a new constitution.
The UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance of 19 parties has been obstructing the CA meet since Monday to prevent the process of forming a Questionnaire Committee for resolving the sticky issues of Constitution through a vote.
The ruling and opposition alliances are sharply divided on key issues in the Constitution drafting including federal structure and forms of governance.
Opposition parties' also demand ethnic identity-based federal structure in the new constitution which was supposed to be promulgated by January 22. Parliament Speaker Subhash Nembang during the day asked lawmakers to end their protests and urged them to secure an agreement or be prepared for a vote, before adjourning the assembly until Sunday.
"People want answers from us, they are watching us and they are waiting," Nembang said.
The ruling alliance has the two-third parliamentary majority they need to approve a constitution without the opposition's support.
But the former Maoists have threatened of further conflict if they fail to take opposition views into account.
The Joint Madhesi Front, meanwhile, has called a meeting of seven Madhes-based parties tomorrow to chalk out their strategy for Sunday's CA session.
On Thursday night, Nembang called emergency talks to resolve the contentious issues. However, an agreement could not be reached and the meeting was adjourned.
The effort by Madhesi leader Vijaya Kumar Gachhadar to find a middle path to resolve the key issues also did not succeed after Maoist chief Prachanda rejected the move.

Netaji did not get due honours, says Mamata

EOI & PTI, DARJEELING, 23 Jan 2015:Amidst the demand for declassification of secret files relating to the disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday rued that he did not got the honours he deserved from "powers that be".
"The final days of Netaji is still a mystery. What happened to him, no one knows. History is incomplete. Netaji has not got the honour he deserved from the powers that be," Banerjee said at a government programme to observe his 118th birth anniversary in Darjeeling.
Along with some activists, several of Netaji's family members have been demanding release of secret files from government records which they said can solve the mystery of his disappearance in 1945.
In a recent RTI reply, the PMO said there were 41 files related to Netaji, of which two had been declassified, but the remaining ones would not made so as the "disclosure would prejudicially affect relation with foreign countries".
"Netaji is one of the most inspirational persons in Indian history. I am ready to sacrifice my life for preserving the unity of this country," Banerjee said.
"I love my brothers and sisters of the Hills. I am happy to be in Darjeeling to celebrate the birthday of the great son of India," said the chief minister, who was here on January 23 last year too.
The Trinamool Congress chief also remembered the contribution of the Gorkhas in the formation of the Indian National Army (INA).
She announced Rs one lakh assistance each to 10 poor persons of Sherpa and Rs five crore to the Sherpa Cultural Board for the development of the community.
Senior Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders like Roshan Giri, Ramesh Alley and Harka Bahadur Chhetri were present at the programme.

Mamata announces board for Sherpas

Members of the All Sherpa Association celebrate on the stage after the
announcement of the Sherpa Cultural Board; and Mamata Banerjee at the
programme in Darjeeling. Pictures by Suman Tamang
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 23: Mamata Banerjee today announced from the audience of a Darjeeling programme that a Sherpa cultural board would be formed, prompting allegations of divide and rule from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
"The Sherpa community has made a request for development. I was not aware of it. A Sherpa cultural board will be formed for the community. We will also grant an aid of Rs 5 crore to the board," the chief minister announced after interrupting the emcee at a government programme, Morcha and Sherpa leaders seated by her side.
Singers Indranil Sen and Soumitra Roy were performing on the dais when some members of the Sherpa community who were sitting near Mamata were seen talking to her.
As soon as Roy's performance ended, Mamata stopped the emcee, took up a cordless microphone that was passed onto her and made the announcement.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, Lt Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, the GTA deputy chief; and party MLAs Trilok Dewan, Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Rohit Sharma were sitting beside the chief minister when she announced the Sherpa board.
As soon as the programme ended, Giri said: "This is a divide-and-rule policy. If a board is formed for the Sherpas, similar boards must be set up for all hill communities. The (Sherpa) board should be brought under the GTA."
Asked if the Morcha was feeling slighted at the end of Mamata's three-day visit to Darjeeling, during which she made no other announcement, Giri said: "Yes."
The Morcha had protested earlier boards by the Lepchas and Tamangs. Both boards are under the government, much to the chagrin of the Morcha.
The hill party wants the boards to function under the GTA.
As soon as Mamata left the venue of the programme at Chowrasta, members of the Sherpa community climbed onto the stage to celebrate.
Nima Wangdi Sherpa, the president of the All Sherpa Association from Darjeeling and Terai Dooars, said: "This is a historic day for all of us. We must rejoice. This is the outcome of one-and-a-half-year's work. We thank the chief minister for the announcement and I would also like to thank all community members who came to Darjeeling yesterday to attend this programme."
The declaration to form the board came as a surprise to many because the chief minister had not made any announcement during her three-day tour of Darjeeling.
At the government programmes she attended on Wednesday and Thursday, she limited her speeches to less than 10 minutes and had mostly spoke on developmental.
During a 12-minute speech today on the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, Mamata spoke about his contribution to the freedom movement and the "incomplete history" of Netaji.
It was when the dignitaries were being escorted towards the audience from the dais before a cultural programme that Mamata suddenly walked up to the podium and said: "The Sherpa community members felicitated us. I want to ask the Sherpa leaders to provide a list of 10 mountaineering families to us. We will grant a sum of Rs 1 lakh to each family."
The Sherpa community members had felicitated Mamata the chief minister, with a khada(silk scarf) and a basket of oranges on stage.
A gate had also been erected The Sherpa community had also erected a welcome gate near the Darjeeling railway station to welcome the chief minister.

23 Jan 2015

Chamling lays foundation stone of Rai Khim

Photo Courtesy: Dr S.K.Rai
EOI, Gangtok, 22 January 2015: Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Thursday laid the Foundation Stone of Rai Khim, a multi-purpose traditional Centre of the Rai Community at Lumsey Tadong.
The programme, organised by Sikkim Akhil Kirat Rai Sangh (AKRS) also had the presence of Speaker, Sikkim Legislative Assembly Mr  K.N. Rai, ministers and senior Government officers.
The ceremony was marked by Ridhum Mundhum, the traditional ritual of the community.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister informed that the State Government had created infrastructures for every community and sub-communities of Sikkim with a vision to preserve and protect the socio-cultural fabric of Sikkimese society.
Drawing a parallel from the idea of post-modernism, he stated that the bottom-up approach to development followed by the government is all inclusive and accommodates each and every section of the society. Calling on the Rai Community to be large hearted and positive in their outlook, he emphasised on giving utmost priority to education and skill building.

WB govt to build eco-tourism cottages at Tiger Hill: Mamata

EOI, DARJEELING, 22 Jan 2015: The West Bengal government is planning to build eco-tourism cottages at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling for the tourists.
West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who trekked to Tiger Hill to explore tourism potential on Wednesday, told reporters: "Thousands of tourists come to Tiger Hill. There will be eco-tourism cottages for the tourists. I have asked the Forest and Tourism Department to jointly take it up".
Mamata participated in the closing ceremony and prize distribution programme in Himal Terai Dooars Sports Festival.
"Our Government had started this event in 2013. Nearly 7000 sports persons from the Hills and Dooars took part in football, martial art, archery and volleyball," she said.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief and head of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha Bimal Gurung was present at the programme.
Stressing on unity of people in the plains and the hills, the Chief Minister called for sustaining peace in feeling which had returned after bandhs recently crippled life over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
A girls' hostel of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute for women mountaineers was inaugurated on the occasion.

GJM raises issues on GTA accord implementation with Mamata

EOI, DARJEELING, 22 Jan 2015: In a ‘blow hot blow cold’ between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the GJM on Thursday expressed its displeasure in the delay in implementation of the terms of the agreement of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration by the state government, a day after Gurung and Mamata had promised to work together to develop the hills, while sharing the same stage in a police function.
An eight- member GJM delegation led by the party’s general secretary Roshan Giri and including the three MLAs from the hills and four central committee leaders called on the Bengal CM at Richmond Hill on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Gurung left for Nepal.
The list of demands of the GJM delegation was long, but the meeting lasted for only over half an hour, indicating that the discussions on them were short. On the top of the agenda of the GJM delegation was the “incomplete and ad-hoc nature” in implementation of the provisions of the transfer of department notification.
The GJM claimed that though the land and land reforms and the food and supplies departments were transferred to the GTA but the council body was yet to have effective control and supervision over the departments. “The salaries of employees of the two departments are being routed through the district administration and not through the GTA as the case should be. This also has given rise to over-lapping of jurisdictions,” Giri said.
Giving an example the GJM leader said: “The GTA and the district administration have the same chief medical officer of health and the district controller of food and supplies. It appears and we have strong reasons to believe that these officials are not cooperating and reporting to the district administration without any concurrence and intimation to the GTA which is adversely creating confusion and misunderstanding and hampering implementation of development activities”.
GJM in its deputation to the CM has also stated that departments of information and cultural affairs, excise, PWD, Tauzi, DI Fund and cooperative and fire services was yet to be fully transferred to the
GTA even after repeated submissions.
“The state government had assured to completely transfer some of the departments within six months. But, even after completing more than two years, nothing has been done. The GTA has been allowed to create its own information and cultural affairs department but the state government is yet to provide the Budgetary Provisions,” complained Giri.
GJM’s demand list also includes the formation of a Sub-ordinate Service Selection Board and a separate School Service Commission and College Service Commission and issue of an appropriate
order by the state government giving the council control over the block development officers in all matters except in statutory matters like election and census, to improve and actively focus on rural
“The implementation of the 2011 GTA Act could be made easier, transparent and complete if the act is supported by corresponding set of Rules and Regulation which has not been done, yet. Also, we have asked the CM to look into the matter of sharing revenue from hydel projects and withdrawal of cases registered against persons involved in the GJM agitation,” said Giri.
The Chief Minister refused to speak to media persons waiting outside after the meeting. Instead, she left to attend a programme organized by the Tamang Development and Cultural Board (TDCB) at the Lebong Ground, eight km away from town.
However, the GJM general secretary, speaking to the media, said: “Action speaks louder than words. Just holding meetings is not enough as we want immediate results”. When asked about the Chief Minister’s response, Giri said: “The response was okay from the Chief Minister. But, I reiterate that we need action”.
The GJM leader said a tripartite meeting would be held on January 29 in Delhi which will be followed again by a bipartite meet. “All the issues that we took up today with the CM is under the state government and they need to expedite matters. But there are some other issues that we will talk with the central government in the tripartite talk,” said Giri.

Free Sharmila continues fast

Khelen Thokchom, TT, Imphal, Jan. 22: Manipur's human rights crusader Irom Sharmila was freed from jail this evening following an order by an Imphal court which dismissed the charges levelled against her by police as baseless and without foundation, putting the Okram Ibobi Singh government in a predicament.
In its chargesheet, the police had accused Sharmila of attempting to commit suicide (Section 309 of the IPC) and obstructing arrest (Section 353 of the IPC).
In his order, judicial magistrate, first class, Imphal East, Wisdom Kamodang, said the charges of attempt to commit suicide and obstruction to her arrest were baseless and there was no evidence to prove the charges.
This is the second time that the courts have ordered Sharmila's release after dismissing the charge of attempt to commit suicide levelled against her.
After coming out of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Science's security ward (an extension of jail) here today, Sharmila continued her fast. She took an autorickshaw straight to Elephant State Zoo in the city, where she plans to continue her fast. She was accompanied by her supporters.
Sharmila was rearrested on August 22 last year after she continued her fast following her release from jail in the wake of another court order that too dismissed the charge of attempt to commit suicide.
The police filed a fresh chargesheet in November last year, which was again dismissed by the judiciary today.
"I will continue the fast until the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is repealed. I do not want to die. I want to live like any other normal person," Sharmila said after coming out of the court this evening.
Her lawyer Khaidem Mani Singh said if the Centre and state governments want to save Sharmila's life the act should be repealed. She has not changed her stand, he added.
"I can't say what the next step of the government will be but I want to reiterate that I will not end the hunger strike till the demand is met," Sharmila said.
The iron lady of Manipur, as Sharmila is known, began her hunger strike in November 2000 to press for repeal of the act after Assam Rifles personnel killed 10 civilians at Malom near Imphal airport while retaliating to a militant attack.
She has been kept at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences here and has been surviving on nasal feeding. She is released every year on completion of her yearlong jail term, only to be rearrested when she continues her fast.
Legal experts said the government would find itself in a very tricky situation. It can no longer use Section 309 of the IPC as two courts have dismissed the charges made against her under this section.
"On the other hand, the government needs to find a means to keep her alive. If she dies because of her hunger strike, serious law and order situation will erupt," a legal expert said.
The Amnesty India International said in a release: "It is an outrage that Irom Sharmila has been in prison for over 14 years for a peaceful protest. The judgement must end the farcical cycle of arrest and re-arrest...authorities must not detain Irom Sharmila again," the release said.
The police are expected to re-arrest her on some other ground tomorrow. A senior police officer said they would act according to the directives of the government.

22 Jan 2015

16 minors rescued from traffickers

Trafficker  & rescued girls: Phoito: Janpath Samachar
TT, Jalpaiguri, Jan. 21: Seven minor boys and nine girls, who are residents of different tea estates in the Dooars, were rescued by Malbazar police from Kalyanpur in Motihari district in Bihar yesterday.
Police said the minors were taken to Bihar to perform as dancers in local bands by two traffickers.
The police have arrested both the alleged traffickers.
"The minor boys and girls, who are residents of different tea estates in the Dooars and children of tea workers, were taken to Motihari by a trafficker. Menaka Singh, the trafficker, is a resident of Hakimpara in Siliguri. She had taken them to Motihari by train on January 14," said Nima Norbu Bhutia, the subdivisional police officer of Malbazar.
After reaching Motihari, the minors came to know that the boys would have to perform a dance where men impersonate women and perform at marriages.
"The girls, on the other hand, were told to perform in orchestras and all of them were kept confined at a house in Motihari," said Deep Banerjee, a representative Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO working against trafficking.
There are reports that during such performances, both boys and girls have to face alleged torture and sexual abuse from people who hire them.
Representatives of the NGO working in Katihar had helped the police in the rescue operation in Motihari, said Banerjee.
Recently, two girls had managed to escape and reached their homes.
"On inquiring from them, the family members got to know about Rambalo Paswan, another trafficker. They immediately made a plan and called Paswan. He was asked to meet at a location in Malbazar and was promised that more such minor boys and girls intended to go to Bihar," a source said.
"As Paswan reached the spot, they caught him and handed him over to the police," the source added.
Police officials in Malbazar interrogated Paswan and came to know about the whereabouts of some other minors too.
"Paswan also took the name of Menaka Singh, who had taken the minors to Motihari," a police source said.
A police team then went to Motihari.
The minors were rescued and brought to Malbazar. Menaka was also arrested from the spot. She was produced in the chief judicial magistrate's court here in Jalpaiguri today. The court heard the case and has sent her to five days' police custody.
"We had taken the minors to perform in orchestras but some local people had forced us to stay back. I am not associated with trafficking," the woman said before she was produced at court.
The subdivisional police officer when asked about the minors, said they would be handed over to their families. "We would also alert the parents to abstain from sending their children in the hope of making quick money with such traffickers."

Sport brings together Didi and brothers

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 21: Sport was a great leveller today as didi, daju (elder brother) andbhai found a common ground to cultivate their relation that has been rocky since 2011.
Mamata Banerjee, Bimal Gurung and Bhaichung Bhutia showed mutual respect while sharing the stage on the Dali Police Grounds here today.
Bhaichung, who was referred to as bhai (brother) by Gurung, was conferred with the Bangla Gaurav award by Mamata at the prize distribution ceremony of the Himal-Terai-Dooars Sports Festival 2014-15 organised by the police department.
Bhutia, Trinamul's face for the Darjeeling seat in the last Parliamentary polls, said: "We must appreciate the role taken up by the police to promote sports. I believe that after such a tournament, they should select a pool of sportsmen who can be given further exposure. Bimal daju (elder brother) and Mamata didi are also here today and I would request that they should come up with an artificial turf in the hills. This will help football immensely as there is a lot of talent in these areas."
The two-month-long fest included football, taekwondo, archery and karate competitions along with the Darjeeling police marathon. The winners of different competitions were awarded at Dali today.
Gurung, who spoke after Bhaichung, said: "Bhaichung Bhutia bhai referred to a good point with regard to football. It will be good if we work towards it. The GTA can work for this. We will provide 100 per cent support. This kind of initiative will help bring our younger generation to the right track."
Gurung's relation with Bhaichung went sour after the footballer was nominated as the Trinamul candidate for the Darjeeling Parliament seat. Gurung's decision to support the BJP for the seat had also strained his ties with Mamata.
Today, Gurung spoke for around six minutes. "My best wishes, especially to Miss Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of Bengal. She loves Darjeeling and this is why she comes here often. She loves sports. It is because of sports that the relations between the hills and the plains are getting better."
Mamata during her nine-minute-long speech did not speak on political issues unlike in 2013 when she had said "Darjeeling is part of Bengal" at an official programme at Chowrasta here.
The comment had angered Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Gurung who has been demanding the Gorkhaland state.
Today, Mamata said: "Bhaichung talked about a team (pool of good sportsmen). I am telling him, we have given you responsibility and we will provide all help to you. There is a lot of quality in the hills and I love Darjeeling for this. We are proud of the sisters and brothers of Darjeeling and that is why I come to Darjeeling often. The Terai and Dooars are also moving ahead and we need to help the region. I want to work for the betterment of Darjeeling. Bimalji is there in the GTA and together we will do good work for the hills."
Tomorrow, a GTA delegation, including the three hill MLAs and GTA executive Sabha members Roshan Giri, Taranga Pandit and Tilak Chand Roka, will meet Mamata at Richmond Hill here to discuss GTA's functioning. Gurung will not be part of the delegation as he will leave for Nepal.
Morcha farmer wing
Morcha on Wednesday announced the formation of Janmukti Kisan Morcha, a new wing for farmers. "Kisan Morcha will be headed by Sawan Rai," said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri. The party dissolved its Darjeeling subdivisional committee on Wednesday.

Tea union bhashan-ration barb at Mamata - Garden labour unions ask why CM said nothing at business meet on 9 shut estates in Dooars

Avijit Sinha, TT, Siliguri, Jan. 21: People don't need bhashan (lecture) or ration, but work and wages, a conglomeration of tea unions today said, tweaking Mamata Banerjee's words in Siliguri yesterday when she had demanded funds from Delhi.
Tea garden labour unions, barring Trinamul's outfit, were already miffed with the state over delay in fixing a minimum industrial wage. Members of the Co-ordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, which has 17 labour outfits under its umbrella, today said they were upset that chief minister Mamata Banerjee said nothing about opening closed gardens in the Dooars or their demand for a minimum wage.
The Joint Forum, which comprises 24 unions from the hills and the Dooars of which many are members of the Co-ordination Committee too, wants the state to fix a minimum wage first before deciding on the once-in-three-years hike in wages. The state government does not want the two issues to be clubbed.
Trinamul's tea labour union is not a part of the Joint Forum.
"Tea workers in this region don't need bhashan, or even ration. They don't want to thrive on doles and relief extended by the state government, but a permanent solution to their problems. Their simple demand is that the state should immediately reopen all the nine gardens which are closed in the Dooars and fix the minimum wage rate for the industry," said Chitta Dey, the convener of Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers Union.
Yesterday, at the opening of the Uttarbanga Utsav, Mamata had said: " Bhashan chaina,ration chai (We don't want lectures, give food). Delhi, you can criticise us but why don't you feed people?"
Four estates - Sonali, Redbank, Surendranagar and Dharanipur - are closed in Jalpaiguri district, and five - Bandapani, Dheklapara, Madhu, Patkapara and Rahimabad - are shut in Alipurduar district. The number of workers in these gardens would total around 12,000.
Trade union leaders today said after the North Bengal Industry Meet on January 19, tea workers are upset. "It is disappointing that at the business meet, the industry, which employs the highest number of people in north Bengal and is a principal pillar of the region's economy, was hardly mentioned, except once when the finance minister announced that the Ambootia Group was taking over three state gardens in the hills," said Ziaur Alam, the Jalpaiguri district Citu secretary.
"The state seems to be preoccupied with festivals like Uttarbanga Utsav. Crores of public money is being spent while on the other hand, thousands of tea workers are jobless and do not have even the basic amenities such as drinking water and electricity in their gardens. Not a single announcement was made for them," he said.
Asked about the Coordination Committee's allegations, Alok Chakraborty, the working president of the Trinamul-backed Terai Dooars Plantation Workers' Union, today said: "Those raising questions today used to allow a wage hike of Rs 5-7 when they were in power. After our party came to power, the first hike was of Rs 28. They must understand the state is concerned for tea workers."
He said several ministers were monitoring the closed tea estates and they would be opened soon.
Administrative sources today said a tea group having estates in the Dooars is likely to take over Hilla and Mahua, the two state gardens in the Dooars.