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at Sabitri Ghising Road, Bong Busty Kalimpong.
Single storied house has 3 Bedrooms,
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5 Dec 2016

Tea estates gripped by winter of discontent..... Some tea estates yet to receive October salaries

Indrani Dutta, TH, December 5, 2016, Kolkata: As people scramble to lay their hands on their November salary, thousands of tea garden workers in West Bengal, especially those in Darjeeling, are yet to get their October salaries. Over 70 per cent of these workers in the hilly areas continue to be stung by the demonetisation move.
As per the latest reports, of the 287 gardens in north Bengal, part-payments have been made in 218. However, 64 of the 87 estates in Darjeeling have not got any payments. Winter has already set in, and life has become difficult for the estate workers.
Hectic parleys
The Indian Tea Association and other industry associations held hectic parleys with State government officials, and memoranda were submitted to the Reserve Bank of India to address the issue. With this, it has been possible to bring down the pendency from 119 gardens to 69 now. The payments are now till the fortnight ending November 12.
RBI guidelines regarding the payee bank and the quantum of payment that can be made (as per a formula devised for fortnightly payments) led to the problems. The formula seeks to limit withdrawals based on an assumption of land-labour ratio which is not always practical, the industry said.
The guidelines issued on November 21 disallowed tea estates to withdraw money from a local branch saying that they could do so only from the designated branch where it had a credit facility. Finally, the RBI has said that only online wage payment would be allowed after December 31.
ITA chairman Azam Monem told The Hindu that the situation was volatile in the tea estates and a meeting needed to be convened to discuss these issues involving the producer associations, the Tea Board and the bankers.
“Not only is it impossible to bring all workers on the banking platform by year-end but online payment would also be a challenging task in view of the literacy level of the workers and the poor Internet connectivity in many areas. Many of the bank branches are not even computerised,” an ITA official said.


Bengal revokes transport agreement with Sikkim

Pramod Giri, HT, 5 Dec 2016, SILIGURI: Bengal government’s decision to unilaterally revoke a reciprocal transport agreement with Sikkim has hit the age-old friendly ties between the two neighbouring states and as a result tourism industry in Sikkim is facing an unprecedented crisis.
Tourism is the biggest industry in Sikkim. It employs largest number of people in the state. Bengal government on September 20 revoked the reciprocal transport agreement it signed with Sikkim government in 2007 after Sikkim government reportedly failed to address the concerns of West Bengal government.
As per the reciprocal agreement, the vehicles of Bengal and Sikkim are required to drop the passengers in the notified areas of other state. The vehicles cannot ferry passengers beyond the notified areas.
Different tour and travel operators of Bengal had been claiming that the agreement was not tourist friendly and the tourist cars are going to Sikkim from Bengal should be allowed to ferry tourists in all corners of Sikkim. Even chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to her Sikkim counterpart Pawan Chamling requesting him to look into the matter.
However, for Sikkim, the interest of state’s tourism industry and the livelihood of thousands of tourist car owners and drivers are paramount. As Sikkim government did not entertain the West Bengal’s request, West Bengal unilaterally revoked the agreement reportedly under the instruction of the chef minister Banerjee with effect from September 20. After the agreement was unilaterally revoked, vehicles owners plying between the two states started suddenly feeling the pinch. It is alleged that the motor vehicle authorities and police in both the states are harassing the drivers of other state and imposing fines.
The situation has come to such a pass that the drivers’ associations of two states have stopped the vehicles of one state from entering another state.
SBS Bhaduria, the transport secretary of Sikkim, said, “Bengal revoked the agreement unilaterally without taking our consent.” He said, “We cannot allow the Bengal registered public vehicles to ferry tourists to different tourist spots in Sikkim. If we do so, the youths of Sikkim who are into tour and travel business will be adversely affected.” Bengal government also does not allow vehicles from Sikkim to ferry tourists in tourist spots of Bengal, he pointed out.
A senior officer of West Bengal transport department said “The agreement was lopsided and in favour of Sikkim while it has not benefited Bengal.”



HT, 5 Dec 2016, Kolkata/ SIliguri: Two young boys’ deaths rattled Kolkata and Siliguri on Sunday. While a studious and cheerful second-year philosophy student of Jadavpur University was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his hostel room, a 16-year-old was found hanging inside a classroom of a girls’ school in Siliguri where his parents work and stay.
In both cases, though the police said that prime facie it appeared to be suicide, the families of the boys refused to toe the line. While the father and brother of JU’s Soumitra De alleged that their boy was murdered and lodged an FIR with the Jadavpur police station, some of Soumitra’s friends hinted at a love angle behind the death.
The friends said Soumitra was his usual cheerful self till Saturday evening but when he failed to turn up till as late as 11:30 in the morning, when food is served at the hostel, they grew suspicious. They informed the authorities and finally broke open the room, only to find him hanging from a ceiling fan. Soumitra’s roommate was away on Saturday night.
It was known that Soumitra had a long telephone conversation with someone on Saturday night and he might have had a girl friend in the nearby KPC Medical College and Hospital.
JU’s vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said, “This is very unfortunate. He was a bright student and I found out that he was very lively. I have spoken to his friends but we can’t say for sure what had happened. It is subject to investigation.”
In Siliguri, Prahlad Roy, a Class 8 student of Vivekananda High School was found hanging from the ceiling fan of a classroom in Hakimpara Girls’ High School. While his father Pulin Roy works as a night guard at the school and runs a tea stall near Siliguri College during the day, his mother works in the same school and the family stays on the campus.
The hapless parents are clueless about why he would end his life. Prahlad was good in sports and won many medals and trophies at a state-level karate championship last year. He has two sisters.


RBI blamed for acute currency crisis in nationalized banks in Malda

MALDA, EOI, 4 Dec 2016: The nationalized banks in the district are reeling under acute fund crunch owing to poor supply of currencies by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as learnt from the senior bank officials. The crisis is now so acute that consumers may not be able to withdraw the minimum money either from the bank counters or through the ATMs from Monday.
It may be mentioned that almost all ATMs of the State Bank of India (SBI) in the district remained dry for last 36 hours. Other nationalized and private banks with their limited number of ATMs tried supplying money to the consumers but that was much below the demand.
“We anticipate that the situation would worsen further from Monday as we are left with virtually exhausted stock of currencies. If the currencies are not supplied in next 48 hours, we would be unable to offer money to our consumers,” said a managerial cadre employee of SBI on strict condition of anonymity today.
He said, “Since demonetization was declared, the RBI supplied us Rs 11 crore and Rs 4 crore at a gap of 10 days while our indent was Rs 20 crore and Rs 15 crore respectively. The last supply of currencies amounting Rs 4 crore was made about 10 days back.”
With the beginning of new months the employees of different sectors started knocking the doors of the bank to withdraw their salary. As the demand is huge and the supply of currencies from RBI is too low, the bank employees are anticipating harassments by the people demanding their own money.
An SBI official also explained as to why they had to stop the ATM service from last 36 hours. “We are actually helpless. Within four days of demonetization our bank first started dispensing currencies through ATMs. Most of the other banks kept their ATM services suspended then. Naturally, the consumers of other banks started using our ATMs with more than one debit cards issued by the other banks. As a result the stock of our ATMs got exhausted quickly and we were being blamed by people despite our services. Now, when our ATMs are closed, other banks are being forced to open their ATMs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the district magistrate Sharad Dwivedi met senior bank officials on Saturday to take stock of the situation. “We requested the bank officials to serve people with their best possible strength,” Dwivedi said today.

Gurung warns of intensified agitation in Delhi over statehood issue

Photo: Bimal Gurung Official -Facebook 
EOI, DARJEELING, 4 Dec 2016: In its bid to create pressure, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today warned that its proposed political programme in Delhi from December 12 for statehood could be intensified  if the central government failed to respond positively. The GJM will hold dharnas and rallies from December 12 to 16 in the national capital as part of its plan not to disturb the hills.
Addressing a packed crowd at the Motor Stand in Darjeeling, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said, “We will hold dharnas and rallies from December 12 to 16. We expect that the central government to initiate talks before the agitation, according to reports we are getting. We are also hopeful of getting a positive response, but if otherwise, we will intensify our programme from December 17 in Delhi. And the repercussion could be felt in the hills. The central government must understand that Gorkhas are not outsiders."
In the same vein, he said he was in constant touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh to pursue the issue of formation of a committee to examine the statehood demand and for granting tribal status to 11 communities of the hills. “The Prime Minister is a man of his words and going by feelers coming from Delhi, we can expect some positive steps to be taken by the year 2019. As for the tribal status demand, we are hopeful that a bill will be placed in Parliament in the monsoon session. We have faith in the government,” Gurung said.
The Centre, has in principle decided to form a committee to examine the statehood demand, but constituent members have not been selected as yet. Further, the Vishu Maini committee set up by the tribal affairs ministry came to Darjeeling last month and conducted field visits to examine the demand for granting tribal status to the eleven hill communities.
Prior to the public meeting, GJM activists organised a 4-km 'Run for Gorkhaland' marathon from Dali to Darjeeling town in support of the statehood demand.
Gurung also took potshots at chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying she did not have the moral right to oppose the demonetisation process initiated by the prime minister as her party was heaped under scams. “They (TMC) came to power in Bengal with the chit fund money of lakhs of common people. Our tea garden workers too had invested in Sharada only to be swindled by the TMC. Now that demonetisation has happened the TMC is afraid that its scams will be unearthed,” Gurung alleged.
He also used the opportunity to take a dig at Banerjee for her recent “emergency like situation” statement in the wake of demonetisation and patrolling by the Army. “We have been suffering from her ‘dadagiri’ for a long time. Now she is getting paid back in her own coin. What the PM is doing is for the better of the country and we approve it,” the GJM chief maintained. 

Bank death... Note arrests

TT, Thanjavur, Dec. 4 (PTI): A 70-year-old farmer collapsed and died while filling the withdrawal form at a public sector bank near Papanasam in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district on Saturday.

Police said M. Subramanian suddenly collapsed while filling the challan. The bank officials tried to administer first aid but he did not respond and later a doctor pronounced him dead. The police said as it was a "natural death" no case was registered.

Note arrests

Chandigarh : Three youths were arrested at Muktsar Sahib in Punjab with Rs 2.74 lakh in new 2,000-rupee notes, which they were allegedly offering in exchange for demonetised currency for a 30-35 per cent cut.

Cellphone explosion kills 3

The house where the cellphone burst
TT, Chandigarh, Dec. 4: Three members of a family died and two suffered serious injuries after a cellphone exploded late last night when the battery was being charged, leaving the single-room tenement in flames.
Kuljit Singh, 50, his wife Surinder Kaur and one of the couple's three daughters, Reena, 16, succumbed to their injuries at a government hospital in Chandigarh where they had been brought with nearly 100 per cent burns.
Two other daughters - Harpreet Kaur, 19, and Paramjeet Kaur, 18 - are in a critical condition.
Police sources said the family's neighbours in Dayalpura, a village near Mohali, about 20km from Chandigarh, saw the room in flames after being jolted awake by screams around midnight. "The phone was being charged when it exploded. A can of kerosene kept in the room caught fire.... The flames soon spread in the room," said a police officer.
The sources said the family's neighbours tried to arrange for ambulances but could not. The victims were then taken to the hospital around 3am in private vehicles.
"All the three who succumbed at the hospital had almost 100 per cent burn injuries and their chances of survival were bleak," a police officer said.

Rs 2 lakh crore disclosure rejected

TT, New Delhi, Dec. 4 (PTI): The income-tax department has rejected an astonishing Rs 2 lakh crore disclosure by a Mumbai family as well as the controversial Rs 13,860 crore declaration by Ahmedabad businessman Mahesh Shah, the finance ministry said today.
It said a probe was on to find out the motive behind these allegedly false claims, made under the government's income disclosure scheme that closed on September 30.
"Among the declarations received, there were two sets of declarations of high value which were not taken on record... because these declarations were found to be suspicious in nature being filed by persons of small means," a ministry statement said.
A family of four declarants filed the total disclosure of Rs 2 lakh crore, it said.
They were identified as Abdul Razzaque Mohammed Sayed, wife Rukhsana Abdul Razzaque Sayed, son Mohammed Aarif Abdul Razzaque Sayed and sister Noorjahan Mohammed Sayed, residents of Flat No. 4, ground floor, Jubilee Court, 269B, T.P.S III, Linking Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai.
Three of the four PAN numbers had originally been registered from Ajmer but had in September this year been migrated to Mumbai, where the declarations were filed, the statement said.
Shah has claimed he was fronting for politicians and industrialists and threatened to reveal their names. He is being questioned and is under police protection.
On the final declarations of Rs 67,382 crore, the government will earn Rs 30,321.9 crore in taxes and penalties.

'Drunk' wedding guest shoots dancer dead - Pregnant 22-year-old hit in head by bullet fired by a man asked to get off stage

Arnab Ganguly, TT, Chandigarh, Dec. 4: A young woman who earned a living as a dancer with a troupe that performed at weddings and parties was shot dead early today when a guest, apparently drunk, opened fire minutes after being told to get off the dais.
Police sources in Bathinda, Punjab, where Kulwinder Kaur was shot around 1am, said the 22-year-old collapsed in the middle of a dance sequence as she swayed to a tune.
Kulwinder's husband Jaswinder Singh said they were expecting a baby. His wife, he added, was two-months pregnant.
The accused, who has been identified as Bhola, also in his twenties, is yet to be arrested.
This wasn't the first time that such firing at a wedding celebration - not uncommon in the north Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh - had turned fatal.
Police officials said guests often turned up with licensed guns though the district administration in many towns and villages have banned such celebratory firing.
A police source in Bathinda said Kulwinder and three others - part of a troupe that performs at weddings and private parties in towns and villages of Punjab and Haryana - were on the dais when Bhola, said to have been drunk, went up to the stage.
He insisted on dancing with the four but was politely asked to step off the stage, the officer said.
"There was an argument but after the orchestra group members refused to relent, he stepped off the dais... Then he took the gun that belonged to one of his friends and fired. The bullet hit the girl in the head and she died on the spot," officer added.
Video footage of Kulwinder dancing and suddenly collapsing on the floor within seconds of a shot being fired has been submitted to the police.
Bathinda police have launched a hunt for the accused and four others who were with him when the shot was fired.
Jaswinder said his wife worked with the group and performed at weddings and other events. "Sometimes she would complain that some guests had passed lewd comments or even tried to make a pass at her but no one had attacked her before," he said.
Last month, in Karnal, Haryana, All India Hindu Mahasabha leader Sadhvi Deva Thakur and her associates were booked for allegedly opening fire during a wedding ceremony that left one person dead and four injured.
The Sadhvi and seven of her associates had come to the wedding armed with revolvers and opened fire after reaching the venue.
"There is very little to be done to prevent such mishaps. Many of the villagers and residents in small towns have licensed arms and look at it as a matter of pride to flaunt their weapons, especially at weddings involving non-resident Indians," a police source said.

Few are saying it with flowers - Demonetisation takes toll on petal producers

Cows eat unsold flowers at a garbage dump at the Kolaghat flower market.
(Jahangir Badsa)
ANSHUMAN PHADIKAR, TT, Tamluk, Dec. 4: The Prime Minister should be happy: even flowers are being replaced by the plastic variety - the exemplary choice in the era of demonetisation.
Traders dealing with flower farmers in East and West Midnapore, whose produce help stock up Bengal's biggest petal market at Mullickbazar in Howrah, have said demand has halved as people are scrimping on the decoration bill for weddings and other social events. Some are making do with plastic flowers.
"What to do? People do not have adequate cash in hand. Those organising weddings and other social events are cutting down on their flower-decoration budgets. The demand for flowers has come down by almost 50 per cent," said Narayan Nayek, the general secretary of the Sara Bangla Phool Chashi O Phool Byabsayee Samiti.
The two Midnapore districts have around 26,000 flower farmers - 18,000 of them in East Midnapore alone. The farmers gather every day at the markets in Kolaghat and Panskura, where traders from Howrah buy their produce.
"Flowers are also sent to places like Delhi, Mumbai, Assam and Rajasthan. But there is no demand from these places too," Nayek said.
Malina Maity, a Debra resident who married off her daughter on November 25, said: "Before demonetisation was announced, I had kept Rs 50,000 aside to decorate the house with flowers for my daughter's marriage. Then we brought it down to Rs 25,000. The money spent on flowers was only Rs 4,000. The decorator saved the day by supplying me plastic flowers."
Prahlad Maity, a flower farmer in Kolaghat, said: "I have been growing flowers for 40 years. But I have never seen the demand dip like this in the wedding season. The Prime Minister's announcement has severely affected our business."
Prahlad's son Ganesh said he and many others had specifically cultivated marigold and chrysanthemum as November was the wedding season.
"But it is very different this time. A month ago, I sold 100 pieces of marigold garlands for Rs 800 to Rs 1,000. Now I am being forced to sell 100 marigold garlands for Rs 300," Ganesh said.
Horticulture officer Sufal Chandra Mondal said he planned to send a report to the horticulture department on the crisis.

Cash courier in 'khaki'

Basant Rawat, TT, Ahmedabad, Dec. 4: The Ahmedabad businessman who had yesterday threatened to turn money-laundering whistleblower on politicians and industrialists was today questioned for 10 hours by income tax officials before being sent home in khaki uniform with police protection.
Mahesh Shah, 67, had declared Rs 13,860 crore under the Centre's income disclosure scheme in September but disappeared after an income-tax raid on his home last week.
Last evening, he surfaced dramatically in a television studio to claim he had been fronting for politicians and industrialists, whose names he threatened to reveal.
He was whisked away from the studio by tax officials and police, first to a police station and then to an income-tax office, where he spent all night before being allowed to go home around 11am today.
A controversy erupted after pictures of Shah in khaki popped up on social media. The police later explained that he had been asked to change into a uniform for security reasons. "It is our duty to provide protection. We just wanted to conceal his identity. Such steps are necessary to protect him in view of threat to his security," inspector M.U. Mashi of the Satellite area police station said.
Income tax official P.C. Modi told journalists: "At his request, the recording of his statement was temporarily concluded. It will resume, maybe tomorrow. I cannot reveal any more details."
"He was interrogated for 10 hours but was provided adequate rest in between because of his medical condition (Shah is a heart patient). He was provided food."
To a question, the official said Shah had not been asked any names and that he had been questioned only on the seizures at his home during the November 29-30 searches.
Police sources said Shah feared for his life and that four cops had been posted at his home in the city's Jodhpur area.
Claim ignored
The Union finance ministry said the illegal wealth disclosed as part of the income declaration scheme, which ended on September 30, was Rs 67,382 crore against the previous estimate of Rs 65,250 crore, PTI reported. It said there were 71,726 declarants.
But senior Congress politician P. Chidambaram cited Shah's claim that the Rs 13,860 crore he had declared did not belong to him, and suggested there could be "more holes" in the amnesty scheme.
"There is a Rs 13,860 crore hole in the Rs 65,000 crore IDS! How many more holes?" the former finance minister tweeted.
But the government said this declaration (and another of Rs 2 lakh crore by another declarant) "were not taken on record in the above figure because these declarations were found to be suspicious in nature being filed by persons of small means".

4 Dec 2016

Heart of Asia conference adopts 'Amritsar Declaration', focus on countering terror

ECONOMICTIMES.COM | Dec 04, 2016 : The Sixth Ministerial Conference on Heart of Asia- Istanbul process of Afghanistan today adopted the Amritsar declaration, which puts focus on the concerned countries to address terrorism and enhancing regional economic cooperation.
The developments were shared by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. "The three big issues of the conference were- countering terrorism to create stability in Afghanistan, providing Afghanistan connectivity to strengthen economic activities and the development which is essential for its progress," said the Minister.
Jaitley said the conference was attended by 45 delegations and terrorism was at the core of discussions. "The tone was set by the Afghanistan President (Ashraf Ghani) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where terrorism was at the centre stage issue," he said.
The declaration recognises terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and security. And demands immediate end to all forms of terrorism and all support financial and safe havens providing sanctuary to it.
"We reaffirm our recognition made in Islamabad last year that violent extremism facilitates and justifies acts of terrorism. We recognize the necessity of taking serious measures to address recruitment of youth to terrorist networks. We realize that the radicalization of disaffected elements of the population can only be prevented by effective counter-radicalization strategies involving all the Heart of Asia countries," states the declaration.
"For the first time, a Heart of Asia conference expressed concern over violence caused in Afghanistan and the region by terrorists groups like Al Qaeda,Daesh, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed," said Jaitley.
The declaration also mentions the Haqqani Network.
In a rap on Pakistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in his address today accused it of launching an "undeclared war" on his country by covertly supporting several terror networks including the Taliban. He stated a top Taliban commander admitting that unless terror sanctuaries were allowed in Pakistan, the outfit will not last even a month.
Even Modi today called for "resolute action" not just against forces of terrorism but also against those who support, shelter, train and finance them.
The declaration states the urgency to respond to the nexus between drug menace and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan. "To disrupt these links, the Heart of Asia countries intend to increase dialogue between their relevant ministries and agencies to tackle this menace," reads the declaration.
The Amritsar declaration also calls for early finalisation of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It also looks at the early meeting of experts to discuss a draft regional counter terrorism framework strategy, recently prepared by Afghanistan for its early finalisation, according to Jaitley.
The declaration states the welcoming of the agreements between the international community and Afghanistan for continued financial support to the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) until 2020.
Furthermore, discussions and the Declaration reiterated strong support from Heart of Asia countries for use of Afghanistan’s location to enhance wider and regional economic cooperation.
"Specific initiatives in this regard including Iran-India-Afghanistan trilateral agreement on developing Chabahar were acknowledged," said the Finance Minister.
The declaration welcomes the MOU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between China and Afghanistan.


Nepali students protest ''Indian intervention in Constitution''

PTI | Kathmandu, December 4, 2016: A group of Nepali students from a sister organisation of the main opposition party CPN-UML on Saturday protested in front of the Indian embassy here, accusing the Prachanda government of making efforts to amend the Constitution under India's influence.
The students belonging to All Nepal National Free Students Union gathered at the embassy gate at Lainchaur to oppose India's alleged interference in Nepal's political affairs.
The protest comes after the coalition government led by Prachanda registered a motion last week to amend the Constitution to accommodate some of the key demands of the Madhesi parties and other ethnic groups, including citizenship issue and delineation of provincial boundary.
The students holding national flags raised slogans like "stop Indian conspiracy" and "expel Indian ambassador" during the protest, an eyewitness said.
Student leaders belonging to All Nepal National Free Students Union staged the protest and blamed India for "forcing" Nepal to amend the Constitution, according to Mahesh Bartaula, Vice-president of the organisation.
The protest was held in the morning when some key Madhesi leaders of Nepal were invited at the embassy by Indian ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae for a meeting to reportedly discuss the issue of Constitution amendment.


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