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20 Jan 2017


SNS, Darjeeling, 19 January 2017: Railway minister Mr Suresh Prabhu along with ministers including Mr SS Ahluwalla and eight members of Parliament arrived in Darjeeling today.
During his two-day visit to Darjeeling,Mr Prabhu hold a discussion with Consultative Committee members of Parliament on Railways in Darjeeling tomorrow. After the meeting, the railway minister would attend a ceremony where Fund in Trust Agreement will be signed between UNESCO and the Railways.
This agreement will pave way for formulation of Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan(CCMP) for preservation of rich heritage of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).
UNESCO director Shigeru Aoyagi along with other representatives are here in Darjeeling.
Sources said Mr Prabhu will also be holding another meeting with public representatives and other stakeholders on "Good Governance" in Darjeeling. It may be noted that Mr Prabhakar Prabhu will also be visiting Gangtok on 21 January and take part in an interactive session at Chintan Bhawan on 'Good Governance" where media persons, members from chamber of commerce, prominent citizens would be present along with the governor and Sikkim chief minister. In Darjeeling, the railway minister's programme will be held at Gorkha Ranga Manch.
According to railway sources, Mr Prabhu will announce and inaugurate new railway projects through video conference.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief Mr Bimal Gurung , who is the president of Gorkha JanMukti Morcha, met Mr Prabhu. Speaking to the reporters, Mr Prabhu said the objective of the meeting is to bring developments in the Hills and the region through railway networks including the tourism industry through DHR.
"We usually announce new railway projects and program from country's capital or the state's capital. But this time we have decided to announce and introduce railway plans and programmes for the country from Darjeeling," Mr Prabhu said.
"Besides Sikkim, I will visit Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. This visit is to bring in developments in the Hill areas under the North East region," he added.


SC no to church divorce

TT, New Delhi, Jan. 19: The Supreme Court today ruled that churches in India have no power to grant divorces, asserting that only district and high courts can annul a marriage of a Christian couple under the Indian Divorce Act, 1869.
A bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dismissed a plea by an 87-year-old Catholic advocate seeking legitimacy for Church-granted divorces, saying the petition is "devoid of merit".
The PIL had contended that when courts in India recognise dissolution of marriage - by pronouncing the word talaq three times - under Islamic law, they should do the same for Christians under the Canon Personal Law of Indian Catholics.
Additional solicitor-general Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for the Union government, told the bench that the law on whether courts in India or churches had the power to grant divorce was clearly settled in a 1996 apex court ruling. That order, in the Molly Joseph Vs George Sebastian case, held that only courts had the authority to annul a marriage between Christian couples.
"Such an Ecclesiastical Tribunal cannot exercise a power parallel to the power of the district court or the high court, which have been vested in the district court and the high court by the provisions of the Divorce Act. Section 18 (of the act) excludes the jurisdiction and authority of any other tribunal or court, including the Ecclesiastical Tribunal (Church Court)," the apex court had said in the judgment.
Today, the bench cited the 1996 verdict in dismissing the PIL.
Clarence Pais, the advocate from Bangalore who filed the plea, had raised another key point by challenging the jurisdiction of criminal courts in India to prosecute Roman Catholics under Section 494 of the IPC for alleged bigamy. The maximum punishment under this section is imprisonment up to seven years and a fine.
The petition said the issue was being raised in public interest and urged the court to declare that the Canon Law was the personal law of Indian Christians and that divorce decrees granted by the Ecclesiastical Court were valid and binding on all courts in India.
Clarence said the question was important as it affected over one crore citizens who are Indian Christians/Catholics.

Fog crash kills 25 kids - School defied order to stay shut in cold: Officials

The mangled remains of the vehicles in Etah. (PTI)
TT, Lucknow, Jan. 19: Twenty-five children and five others died after a truck hit a school bus in thick fog this morning in Uttar Pradesh's Etah, a zone where all schools had been ordered shut because of excessive fog and a cold wave.
Sources said the management of J.S. Vidya Niketan in Etah town had been ignoring the administration's order to stay shut till January 21.
Some local reports quoted Surendra Singh, a member of the school management, as telling police that although classes had been suspended, the institution was preparing students for some "cultural activities".
But district officials pointed out other violations in the way the kids were being ferried, including the condition of the bus that collided with the sand-laden truck around 8.30am on the Aliganj-Patiyali Road, 270km from Lucknow.
Twenty-eight children suffered serious injuries and have been admitted to hospitals in Aligarh and Agra. The driver and cleaner of the bus and three men in the truck were among the others dead. Sixty-two children, aged four to 12 years, had been on the bus.
Uttar Pradesh police chief Javeed Ahmad said: "We have registered a case against the school management." Etah DM Shambhu Nath said the school's registration had been cancelled. "We have ordered a probe. It has come to light that the bus hired by the school was too old to ply. The driver didn't have five years of experience, required to drive a school bus."
Nath said the school had also not followed Supreme Court guidelines that make it mandatory for at least one teacher to accompany kids on a school bus. The name of the school and key phone numbers were not written on the bus, Nath added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted being "anguished by tragic accident".
In another accident, at least 10 students were injured when their school bus collided with a tractor in Firozabad, around 60km from Etah. In Uttarakhand's Haridwar, a bus fell into a ditch, leaving six students injured.

Motion for return of Pandits

TT, Srinagar, Jan. 19: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly today unanimously passed a resolution for the return of the Pandits and other migrants to the Valley, the first-ever move coinciding with the 27th anniversary of the community's exodus.
The resolution was moved by former chief minister Omar Abdullah and passed by voice vote.
Omar, addressing the members, urged all parties to rise above politics and clear the resolution, saying the Pandits had to leave Kashmir in 1990 because of "unfortunate circumstances". "27 years is too many," the working president of the National Conference had tweeted before moving the motion.
The resolution seeks the honourable return of the Pandits as well as some Sikhs and Muslims who had left the Valley following a rise in militancy.
Ruling alliance partners People's Democratic Party and BJP voted in favour of the resolution, as did Omar's NC and the Congress from the Opposition.
State education minister and government spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said "Kashmir needed Pandits more than Pandits needed Kashmir". "There was a need to resolve differences (between Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits)... when there is only one kind of people living in any part of the world, they (the area) loose their balance... If we are not able to bring the Pandits back, it would be the end of our civilisation," Akhtar said.
Ravinder Raina, the state chief of the BJP's youth wing, stressed the need for an "honourable return" of the Pandits so that they could live a "dignified" life in the Valley.
Ashwani Chrungoo, a leader of Pandit group Panun Kashmir, acknowledged the resolution was "historic" but termed it a "mere formality".
"I am glad the Assembly's memory of the Pandits is still intact. The fact is we have not seen any visible measures to facilitate their return all these years. There has to be a structured dialogue with the Pandits to reach a conclusion (on how to ensure their return) but that is not happening," Chrungoo said.
He claimed the community was not even informed before about the resolution. "The only Assembly to pass such a resolution earlier was Madhya Pradesh's, in 2009. They had invited us to witness the development."
Around 62,000 Kashmiri Pandit families are registered as migrants with the government, of which 39,000 stay in Jammu, 19,000 in Delhi and the remaining in other parts of the country.
The Manmohan Singh government had in 2008 announced a package of Rs 1,618.40 crore to facilitate their return, but the efforts did not yield any results.
There are differences within the Pandit groups too, with some like Panun Kashmir seeking a Union territory spanning around half the Valley and others demanding exclusive townships. But such demands have been opposed by separatist and civil rights groups in the Valley. They want the Pandits to live in mixed neighbourhoods, like they did before militancy erupted.

TMC turns focus on rural Siliguri

TT, Siliguri, Jan. 19: Darjeeling district Trinamul leaders today said they would focus on rural areas of the Siliguri subdivision and try to gain control of panchayats, instead of only striving to gain control over the Left-run Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC).
"We have been organising movements consistently and chalking other political strategies to oust the Left Front from power at the SMC. But from now, we will simultaneously focus on the rural areas of Siliguri. So far, we have managed to get only one Left councillor on board whereas in villages and blocks, we have most of the panchayats with us and also the majority in one panchayat samiti," a senior Trinamul leader said today.
Yesterday, Darjeeling district Trinamul president Gautam Deb announced the core committee, the district committee and the block committees of the party.
According to party insiders, the prospects of inducting into Trinamul elected representatives of other parties working in panchayats and panchayat samitis is much higher vis-à-vis the prospect of getting SMC councillors of other parties on board.
"Several elected representatives of other parties, including the Left, who are working in the two lower tiers have joined our party in all four blocks (of Phansidewa, Matigara, Naxalbari and Kharibari). However, for the past few months, there had been a lull in initiatives as all block committees of our party were dissolved," the leader said.
Deb, while announcing the names of block presidents - seven committees have been formed in four blocks - had said Trinamul was making fair progress in rural areas.
In the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad, the Left is in power with six seats. Trinamul has the remaining three seats.
"For the rural areas, including the tea estates, we will soon form committees up to the booth level," the Trinamul district president said.
A Trinamul leader based in Naxalbari, who has been included in one of the block committees, said the party was also trying to explore the opportunity of increasing its base in the tea estates of Terai.
"Tea workers are facing a huge inconveniences because of demonetisation. They are aware that our party is organising protests against the move. As we have the block committees now, we would take up political programmes in tea estates," the leader said.

Brave faces won't hide - Darjeeling students shun fear and reveal identity

(From left) Shivani Gond, Kamlesh Rai Pradhan and Tejasweeta Pradhan in New Delhi. Telegraph picture
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 19: Two girls from Darjeeling who were selected for a national bravery award have shown courage and decided to reveal their identity despite fear for their lives.
Tejasweeta Pradhan, a Class XII student of Loreto Convent in Darjeeling, and Shivani Gond, who reads in Class XI of St Teresa Higher Secondary School here, were selected by the Indian Council for Child Welfare for the Geeta Chopra Award for helping police bust a human trafficking ring.
The duo posed as girls willing to leave the hill town to take up jobs in metros. Their act as decoys helped the police catch three trafficking agents and the racket's kingpin in Gurgaon last year.
Soon after their selection, the students and their parents had refused to divulge their identity raising security concerns.
Tejasweeta and Shivani reached Delhi on January 16 along with their parents to receive the award and decided to disclose their identities.
Kamlesh Rai Pradhan, mother of Tejasweeta, said over the phone from Delhi: "Upon reaching Delhi, our families held discussions among ourselves and felt that we should come out in the open and face this challenge. We were definitely worried for the security of our daughters but we felt that we needed to be brave and carry on the fight against human traffickers."
"It would make little sense accepting a bravery award in a closed room or wearing a mask and hiding from the world," said Kamlesh. The Darjeeling girls reached Delhi on January 16. On reaching Delhi, said Bishal speaking over the phone.
The two families then gave a no-objection certificate to officials of the ICCW and a Darjeeling based NGO, Mankind in Action for Rural Growth (MARG) stating their desire to reveal the identities of the two girls. The students had volunteered to work with MARG to bust the racket. "We submitted an NOC to the council and MARG so that they were not held liable," said Kamlesh.
Nirnay John Chhetri, the founder of MARG, said: "Four members from the Students Against Trafficking club had helped bust the racket. The two other students are Neena Rai and Shalini. However, they were not qualified for the award as they are above 18. MARG will, however, raise funds for the future education of Neena and Shalini."
The winners will be receiving the award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 23 and taking part in the Republic Day parade.

Rare tiger sighting at Kalimpong - Caught on camera

The photograph of the tiger taken at Neora Valley National Park
TT, Alipurduar, Jan. 19: A tiger was seen in Kalimpong's Neora Valley National Park on Thursday morning, the principal chief conservator of forests of the state has said.
Sightings of the big cat in north Bengal are rare.
Pradeep Vyas said that a driver on his way from Pedong to Lava spotted the tiger inside the national park around 7am and photographed it. The driver, Anmol Chhetri, alerted the forest department after taking the photograph.
Vyas said a 2014 census by the Wildlife Institute of India reported only three tigers in north Bengal. The figure was based on pugmarks and other indirect evidence. No tiger was seen.
The last time a tiger was seen by humans in north Bengal was a dead big cat near railway tracks in Cooch Behar in 2007 that had been killed by a moving train.
In Neora today, officers of the forest department, including range officer Sujata Gurung, reached the spot after Chhetri's alert and found pugmarks, excreta as well as a half-eaten cow, which were signs of the tiger's presence there.
Both Pedong and Lava are in Kalimpong. Pedong is at an elevation of 4,070ft while Lava's elevation is 7,016ft. Neora Valley National Park can be reached from Lava.
The park covers an area of 88sqkm and extends to Sikkim and Bhutan.
A wildlife expert who was involved in a tiger censuses in the Sunderbans said the tiger may have come from Bhutan, since tigers are known to travel long distances.
In June 2007, a train had mowed down a tiger in Cooch Behar at a spot that was 16km from the Jaldapara National Park.
In June 2012, the Buxa tiger reserve authorities said they had spotted a tiger five times in an area of the forest, raising hopes that a tiger would finally be seen in the wild but the big cat eluded humans then.
A tiger census conducted in the Sunderbans last year reported 86 tigers in South 24-Parganas. Out of these 86 tigers, 60 were found in the tiger reserve in Sunderbans and the rest in contiguous forest area.

Landslide risk scan on hills by experts - India, italy & uk join for study

A hillside hit by a landslide in Mirik. File picture
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Jan. 19: An international science consortium has picked Darjeeling in north Bengal and the Nilgiris in south India to test a new mechanism for landslide risk reduction through better assessment, early warning systems, and improved community preparedness.
Scientists from India, Italy, and the UK plan to combine terrain geology with weather data to improve their understanding of landslide dynamics and use that information for risk assessment and alert local communities to potential hazard zones.
Tracts of the Darjeeling hills are highly vulnerable to landslides that have killed many people over the years. In July 2015, more than 40 people died or went missing in landslides across the hills. Some areas of eastern Sikkim will also be included in the project.
The scientists caution that their four-year project, funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council, the Department for International Development, through the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience programme, does not seek to predict landslides.
"First and foremost, we are not predicting landslides. What we are doing is looking at and collecting information on landslide hazards," said Helen Reeves, the director of science for engineering geology with the British Geological Survey.
The Geological Survey of India, a major partner in the project, will provide the landslide data available for the area since 1899.
"One of the reasons for choosing this area is that data availability, landslide susceptibility, and varied terrain conditions," said Saibal Ghosh, the director of GSI. "Tea gardens here, too, have maintained rainfall data for decades and it will also be useful."
Bruce Malamud, professor of natural and environmental hazards at King's College, London, said: "The project will look at a combination of things such as elevation, geology, and landslide susceptibility. We are basically saying there could be an elevated chance here, and a reduced chance there."
The scientists plan to generate early warning systems to disseminate potential hazard information among local communities. The Italian National Research Council has already developed a forecasting system that regularly alerts local governments.
The India project will also seek to involve district administrations to reach out to communities, although the medium of communication is yet to be determined. "We will look for what best suits the local communities," said Malamud. "Maybe, we could work out a system that could use text messages, social (media), smartphones, radio, or other wireless systems."
Scientists from India's Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, the UK Met Office, Newcastle University, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy, among other institutions are also collaborating on the project.
Praful Rao of Save the Hills, an NGO based in Kalimpong which is working on natural disasters, said: "The very fact that an international consortium is working on landslides in the region is a major development. This would lead to a better understanding and preparedness for risk reduction."
The project also plans to invite experts from Afghanistan to share experiences with regard to landslides.

दुई दिवसीय श्रमिक मेला आरम्भ

डी के वाइबा, कालिमन्युज, कालेबुङ, 19 जनवरी। पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकार श्रम विभाग क्षेत्रीय श्रम कार्यालय कालेबुङको आयोजनामा दुई दिवसीय श्रमिक मेला-2017 आरम्भ भएको छ। यहाँको टाउनहलमा सम्पन्न भइरहेको मेलाको उद्घाटन समारोहमा मुख्य अतिथिका रूपमा उत्तर बङ्गाल जोनका संयुक्त श्रम आयुक्त अधिकारी समीर कुमार बासु उपस्थित रहेका थिए। मुख्य अतिथिको बाहुलीबाट रिबन काटेर कार्यक्रमको उद्घाटन गरेपछि श्रम विभागबाट स्वास्थ्य उपचारको निम्ति लाभार्थी नविन परियारको बाहुलीबाट दिप प्रज्वलन गरिएको थियो। 
यस अवसरमा खरसाङका सह-श्रम आयुक्त अधिकारी निल छेत्री, कालेबुङका अधिकारी टीटी भोटिया, तामाङ विकास बोर्डका कार्यकारी सदस्य बसन्त लामा, दमाई विकास बोर्डका अध्यक्ष गङ्गासागर पञ्चकोटी, शेर्पा विकास बोर्डका उपाध्यक्ष निम डोमा शेर्पा, सूचना एवं सांस्कृतिक विभागका अधिकारी पारस सिंह आदि उपस्थित रहेका थिए। 
असङ्गठित क्षेत्रका श्रमिकवर्गलाई सरकारद्वारा प्रदान गरिने विभिन्न सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे जानकारी गराउन आयोजित कार्यक्रममा दार्जीलिङ श्रम आयुक्त कार्यालायका अधिकारी प्रवीण तामाङले सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे अवगत गराएका थिए। 
‘असङ्गठित क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत श्रमिकवर्गले जीवन बिमा, भविष्य निधी जस्ता सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे जानकारी राख्दैनन्। श्रम कार्यलयमा उनीहरूले यस्ता सरकारी योजनाहरूमा आफ्नो नाउँ पञ्जिकरण गरे भविष्यमा धेरै सुरक्षा प्राप्त गर्न सकिनेछ’ उनले भने। असङ्गठित क्षेत्रमा कार्यरत रहेका श्रमिकहरूले न्यूनतम धनराशी जमा गर्न सके त्यस धनराशीमा सरकारले आफ्नो पक्षबाट पैसा थप सहयोग गर्नका साथै सुध समेत प्राप्त गर्न सक्ने सुविधा रहेको उनले जानकारी गराएका थिए। आफ्नो नाउँ पञ्जीकरण गरेपछि केवल 30 रूपिया 2 लाख रूपियाँ जीवन बिमा समेत रहेको योजनामा असङ्गठित क्षेत्रका श्रमिकवर्गले आफ्नो नाउँ पञ्जिकरण गर्न प्रोत्साहन पनि उनले गरेका थिए। 
कार्यक्रमलाई मनोरञ्जनात्मक बनाउन लेप्चा विकास बोर्ड, तामङ विकास बोर्ड अनि लिटल एन्जेल्स होमका नानीहरूले साङ्गीतिक एवं सांस्कृतिक प्रस्तुति दिएका थिए। यसबाहेक बाल सुरक्षा अभियानद्वारा बाल श्रममाथि आधारित वृत्तचित्र प्रदर्शनीसितै हास्य कलाकार महेन्द्र बागदासको प्रस्तुति मनोरञ्जनात्मक थिए। मेलामा विभिन्न स्वनिर्भर समुह एवं विभागहरूद्वारा 12 वटा स्टलहरू राखिएको छ। जुन स्टलहरूमा विभिन्न सरकारी योजनाहरूबारे जानकारी प्रदान सँगै स्वनिर्भर समुहहरूले निर्माण ग्रेका सामाग्रीहरूको प्रदर्शनी गरिएको छ। कार्यक्रममा मुख्य अतिथिका रूपमा उपस्थित रहेका रूपमा उत्तर बङ्गाल जोनका संयुक्त श्रम आयुक्त अधिकारी समीर कुमार बासु अनि अन्य विशिष्ट अतिथिवर्गको बाहुलीबाट श्रम विभागद्वारा सञ्चालित विभिन्न योजनाका लाभार्थीहरूलाई चेक पनि प्रदान गरिएको थियो।

19 Jan 2017

Aakriti murder case: CID likely to investigate

SNS, Kurseong 18 January 2017: The Kanchenjunga Uddhar Kendra, a Siliguri based organisation, is now likely to demand and seek CID probe in the minor Aakriti murder case.
Talking to the reporters,the chief of the Kanchenjunga Uddhar Kendra, Miss Rangu Sauriya said: "It is not that we have been sitting silently and keeping mum over the Aakriti murder case instead we have been in touch with the police administration continuously, seeking justice for the deceased minor Aakriti"
She also informed :"The three suspects of the case, who had been arrested earlier and later sent to judicial custody, have so far not confessed the crime."
Hence, from their side, they have been keeping on pressure to the police administration to immediately nab the culprits involved in this heinous crime, She further added that the police administration assured them that they have been trying their best to solve the case immediately. Not only this, they have also been applying different methods to solve the case immediately.
At the same time, she also added that if the matter is not solved immediately by the police. The three Suspects of the case, who had been arrested earlier and later sent to judicial custody, have so far not confessed the crime then they have been planning to seek the help of the CID over the case. Apart from this, to provide justice to the minor girl, she and her organisation will go anywhere and take all possible measures. Notably, the 15 year old Aakriti had gone missing from 16 November 2016, while going to her school in Kurseong on foot from her Ambotia tea estate residence. Later, after a gap of around a month, on 17 December, the police had recovered her decomposed body from the cave of a stream near Kurbia tea estate located on the way in between Ambootia estate and Kurseong town.
Meanwhile, different associations and organisations including individuals had condemned the incident and the Kanchenjunga Uddhar Kendra is one of them, which had not simply condemned the incident instead the organisation had taken different measures over solving the case.


North Bengal outfits regroup for a separate state

TNN | Updated: Jan 19, 2017,JALPAIGURI: Two weeks after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung's meeting with Kamtapur People's Party (KPP) general secretary Subhas Burman on January 4 over proposals to initiate parallel movements in the Hills and seven districts of north Bengal, a warning from the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) has sent ripples among the Bengali- and Hindi-speaking people in Siliguri, Alipurduar and Balurghat. In a press release, the KLO has asked all such people to leave the place by March 31 this year.
The threat gains importance after the GJM-KPP talks in a bid to reclaim the old Kamtapur spread over Malda, South and North Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar, apart from Assam and Tripura, where the sons of soil have become a minority.
Intelligence sources said the GJM president held the meeting with former KLO militants Milton Burma and Harshavardhan in Darjeeling to chalk out the course of action. The KLO has issued the "ultimatum" in retaliation to the attack on a peaceful demonstration of indigenous people on August 23 last year, by the Bengali Hindu refugees in Tripura.
GJM and Rajbanshi outfits, namely KLO and KPP, have been fighting a lone battle. The situation may turn worse if Gurung joins hands with KPP and KLO, feel experts. They fear this would stoke the fire among the Nepali people in Dooars who are unhappy with the government's leaving out this area from the jurisdiction of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.


Campus clash injures 27 - ABVP & TMCP fight in Birpara college

Police try to stop alleged ABVP supporters on the campus of Birpara College on Wednesday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
TT, Alipurduar, Jan. 18: A clash broke between supporters of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad during the submission of nominations for union polls in Birpara College today, triggering separate road blockades by both the outfits.
Birpara BJP MLA Manoj Tigga's car was damaged by alleged TMCP activists and he had to take shelter in a house to escape the attack. Twenty-seven people belonging to both the TMCP and the ABVP were injured in the violence.
Tigga had reached the college around noon today, along with ABVP supporters and candidates, to submit nominations for students' union elections. "TMCP supporters stopped the ABVP team from entering the campus and an altercation ensued between them. A TMCP worker was injured and within half-an-hour, more members of Trinamul's student wing reached with sticks and iron rods," said a police source.
Both the groups pelted stones with each other. Tigga didn't enter the campus and was keeping a watch on the situation from a distance of 200m from the college. "A police force had already been posted on the campus apprehending troubles during submission of nominations. After the clash started, Jaigaon subdivisional police officer Partho Sarothi Majumder reached the campus to quell the violence. The police tried to disperse the warring groups, but in vain," said a source.
Twenty-seven people were injured and taken to Birpara State General Hospital. Except one TMCP worker, all others were released after being administered first-aid.
Some TMCP activists ran towards the MLA during the clash, but he ran away and took shelter in a nearby house. They damaged Tigga's car.
Later, ABVP activists blocked Birpara-Lankapara road for around two hours. The TMCP workers disrupted traffic on NH31C at Birpara Chowpathi from 1.30pm till 3pm when the police forced both the outfits to lift both the blockades.
Tigga said: "I did not enter the college and just went with ABVP candidates who wanted to submit nominations without any disturbance. The situation in Birpara is different from other places in the state. Here, nobody will be able to prevent our candidates from nomination submission. Elections should be held as per democratic norms. Senior Trinamul leaders illegally entered the college."
Sourav Chakroborty, the Alipurduar MLA as well as the district president of Trinamul, sought to counter Tigga's claim. "Presence of the BJP MLA during submission of nomination is unfortunate and it is clear why he was there. He went to the college with outsiders and attacked TMCP activists. Police should have taken stronger action during the clash," said Chakroborty.
In Calcutta, BJP general secretary Biswapriyo Roychowdhury said: "Bengal has gone back to the Emergency days of the 70's. The Trinamul government is gagging the oppositions. Our tribal MLA Tigga was attacked today and his car was ransacked."

Cash crunch cuts fest budget to third

Rabindranath Ghosh
TT, Siliguri, Jan. 18: The state has slashed the budget of Uttarbanga Utsav, the annual cultural extravaganza organised every year across the seven districts of north Bengal.
The reason is the demonetisation drive initiated by the Centre since November last year, minister Gautam Deb said.
"Unlike earlier years when the state used to spend around Rs 3.50 crore for the Uttarbanga Utsav, the total budget for this year is around Rs 1 crore. The budget has been reduced because of demonetisation," the state tourism minister said today.
Deb, who attended a meeting to discuss the fest, said that because of the lower budget, the utsav has curtailed some events.
The utsav, he said, will be inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Kurseong on January 22.
The fest will continue till January 28.
"Unlike earlier years, none of the clubs will be provided with any financial assistance this year. Also, the Banga Ratna award will be given to seven prominent persons for their significant achievements in different fields. There will be one recipient from each (north Bengal) district," the tourism minister said.
The awardees will receive Rs 1 lakh, a memento and a certificate.
Venues where cultural events have been planned have been reduced to nine this year. Earlier, the fest would be held in 12 to 15 venues across north Bengal.
North Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh, when asked about the fest, also mentioned the curtailment in budget.
"We will felicitate 70 meritorious students of the region. Each of them will be provided with a cash reward of Rs 10,000. This year, the budget is less as the revenue collection of the state has declined because of demonetisation. Even then, we are trying to come up with a varied set of programmes," Ghosh said.
The state tourism minister, while speaking on the events to be held in Siliguri, said regular events such as a sit and draw competition at Kanchenjungha stadium and a marathon would be held like earlier years.
"Last year, 16,667 children had participated in the sit and draw competition. It has turned out to be the largest such competition in north Bengal. This year, we are expecting more attendance," Deb said.
Also, singers from Calcutta such as Ajay Chakraborty, Anupam Roy and Shrikanta Acharya will perform.
"We will have film director Gautam Ghosh here. He will attend an interaction programme with film enthusiasts of the town at Dinabandhu Mancha. Some Calcutta-based theatre groups will also stage plays here during the fest," Deb said.

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