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21 Aug 2019

Three Bhutanese held with rare Himalayan herb

SNS, 20 August 2019, Alipurduar: The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the forest department apprehended three Bhutanese nationals with 5 kg of the Himalayan herb, locally called the 'Kheeda Jadi or 'Yarshagumba' worth Rs 1 crore 10 lakh, at the Jaigaon Market on the Indian side of the Indo -Bhutan border in Alipurduar district yesterday.
Personnel of the 53 Battalion of the SSB-Simlabari in Jaigaon and the Hamiltonganj forest range staff under the Buxa Tiger Reserve, acted jointly, following a tip -off, it is learnt.
The three arrested persons all residents of Thimpu in Bhutan, have been identified as Choten Namgyel, Dorji Kiang and Kumbu Dorji.
"The trio came in a luxury Toyota Land Cruiser Prado car with registration number BP-2-A6121 at the Jaigaon market to hand over the Himalayan herbs to someone." sources said.
The herb is considered half fungus, half insect, and is mainly found in the meadows above 3500 meters in the high altitudes of Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Tibet. The herb is also known as the'Himalayan Viagra' for its aphrodisiac qualities.Any type of trading in or collection of the herb is highly prohibited in India, it is learnt. "The herb has great value all across the world.As we do not want to make this valuable herb vanish, collection or trading in the same is highly prohibited n India. It grows with a combination of fungus and larva of an insect in the Himalayas," the former head of the Botany department of the North Bengal University, Abhaya Prasad Das, said.
"It is believed that one can increase the life span and can also increase the physical stamina by eating this rare herb." he added.
The arrested persons, the vehicle and the herbs have been handed over to the Hamiltonganj Range authority of the Buxa Tiger Reserve forest, it is learnt.
"The herbs were brought from Bhutan to India to be sold here. Based on specific inputs, SSB troops of the'C' company, along with forest staff conducted this raid. We have handed over the arrested persons along with the vehicle and the herbs to the forest authorities," said the Commandant of the 53 Battalion of the SSB, Arvind Kumar.

HC rejects bail pleas of Gurung, Roshan Giri

MP, 20 August 2019, Darjeeling: The Calcutta High Court Circuit Bench, Jalpaiguri has rejected the bail plea put in by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal faction) president Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri.
The matter was heard by a division bench comprising Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Monojit Mandal on Monday. The bench heard both the sides and ordered both sides to file status report of the cases against the duo. After going through the reports, the bench will announce the next date for the matter to be heard.
The defence lawyers pleaded the court to issue an order so that the two are not arrested till the matter comes up for hearing. However, the plea was turned down by the Bench.
The Special Public Prosecutors pleaded that as the two have been charged under certain cases in which their properties have been attached as per the order of a lower court, their bail applications should be rejected.
The Division Bench rejected the bail prayer of the duo and asked for the status report of the cases on Thursday and also ordered the Advocate General of the state to be present when some of the cases will be heard on Thursday. The two have been implicated in around 120 cases.

Rs 5 crore for road to Buxa Fort

TT, 21 AUGUST 2019, Alipurduar: The Bengal government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore to improve the road to the historical Buxa Fort in Alipurduar district and renovate some more infrastructure there.

A helipad will be renovated and new toilet blocks will be built. Besides, landscaping will be undertaken near the fort.

The initiative, sources said, is an attempt to attract more tourists to the fort. From Santlabari, one needs to trek uphill for around 5km to reach the fort that was the detention centre of freedom fighters during the British rule.

On Sunday, Surendranath Meena, the district magistrate of Alipurduar, walked up to the fort with some officials. "We have received Rs 5 core to develop the infrastructure in the Buxa hill. The road from Santlabari to the Buxa Fort will be developed, and beautification would be carried out on either side of the road. There is a temporary helipad which will also be renovated," he said..

Glare on policy for homestays... pre-conditions and directives need to be changed

AVIJIT SINHA, TT, 21 Aug 2019, Siliguri: Tour operators have decided to push for amendments to homestay policies drafted by the central and state governments so that such facilities can flourish.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the tourism stakeholders in Malbazar on Tuesday.

"Both the state and the Centre have come up with policies on bed and breakfast accommodations and homestays. But there are certain issues in the policies which need to be discussed further and amended so that they become compatible with the homestay owners. Certain pre-conditions and directives need to be changed so that the homestay tourism can flourish across north Bengal, including the Dooars. That is why we have decided to moot a proposal before the central and state governments," said Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network.

According to the stake- holders, there are directives which say that the homestays should have trade licenses, online booking facilities and the accommodations should furnish details of boarders with police on a regular basis.

"But there are many homestays which have poor mobile connectivity and it is tough for the owners to run an online booking facility. In some cases, the homestay is located far from the nearest police station and it is not possible for the owner to go there every day to submit the guest list," said Sanyal.

Around 135 tourism stakeholders in the western Dooars, including a number of local associations, participated in the workshop..

BJP ruled out merger possibility: Sikkim MLA

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, 21 Aug 2019, Gangtok: A Sikkim BJP MLA has claimed that the national leadership of the party ruled out the possibility of the state's merger with Darjeeling - a demand raised by some Darjeeling-based parties from time to time, but which has absolutely no backers in the Himalayan state.

Ram Madhav, the national secretary of the BJP, gave the assurance to this effect to 10 BJP MLAs recently. “ The so-called leaders of Darjeeling and Kalimpong had met Ram Madhavji. Ram Madhavi himself told our team that until and unless the people of Sikkim said they were happy with the merger, it would not happen;101 percent, ” said D.T.Lepcha, the MLA of Gnathang-Machong. The 10 MLAs had defected to the BJP from the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF).

The protection of the territorial integrity of Sikkim was among the host of demands submitted by the 10 MLAs in a memorandum to Union home minister Amit Shah on August 14, a day after they had joined the BJP in New Delhi..

“ The geographical boundaries(of Sikkim) that existed during the 1975 accession to the Union of India to be maintained without any alteration. Any changes to this boundary could threaten the peace and security in the state as we have a very internationally-sensitive border, ” the memorandum had stated.

Lepcha told The Telegraph that he and the other MLAs would also meet the central leadership again in the next eight-10 days to discuss the memorandum..

“ They are very busy now with Kashmir and issues concerning other states. We will again be going (to Delhi) in the next eighteen days. There will be positive response, ” hes aid. The merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim is a demand which keeps cropping up in Darjeeling from time to time. Its votaries are mainly fringe parties like the Gorkha Rashtriya Congress and Darjeeling-Sikkim Ekikaran Manch, but even mass based parties like the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha have raised the demand in the past

Open session on hill traffic

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, 21 Aug 2019, Darjeeling: Darjeeling police have decided to organise an "open" brainstorming session involving the public and other stakeholders like government officials to seek suggestions to improve traffic in town.

The open air session will be held at Chowrasta here on Saturday.

"One of the greatest challenges faced by Darjeeling as a town is the issue of traffic," said Rahul Pandey, DSP (town), Darjeeling.

The officer said the police had been deliberating on the issue and identifying problems and probable remedies.

"It (solving traffic woes) is a very complex issue…..a plan only prepared by the police and without consulting the general public will not be effective. Keeping this in mind, we have decided to organise an open brainstorming session to discuss the problem and invite ideas," said Pandey.

The police had recently started towing vehicles that obstruct two-way traffic in town.

Lack of space, poor planning and absence of consciousness among the public are considered to be the root cause of the problem.

Citing an instance, a resident said: "When the town is grappling for space, our planners and local government have set up shops on the top floor of a parking space near Darjeeling Government College." The top floor of the parking space is the most accessible floor in the seven-storied parking plaza from Lebong Cart Road.

The police have also sought suggestion through social media and following are some of the proposals given by few individuals. Take strict action against drivers who stop vehicles in the middle of the road to pick or drop passengers Explore the possibility of creating parking lots outside town Ensure that passengers board vehicles at the parking plaza and not in town Make it mandatory for hotels and other commercial establishments to create parking space Encourage bike taxis Darjeeling zoo should create its own parking space New parking space could be explored beside Darjeeling SDO office and rooftop parking at Darjeeling Motor Stand Taxis should not be allowed to park in the town from morning to evening Put a check on taxi syndicates, minimise the space allotted for them and strengthen public transport Many residents also told The Telegraph that efforts should be made to allot parking space for private cars and bikes.

"While it is important to address the traffic problem, authorities should also ensure that enough pathways are created in Darjeeling," said another resident.


VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, 21 Aug 2019, Darjeeling: The hills on Tuesday marked "Bhasha Diwas" with many literary figures stating it was time to start another movement to safeguard the Nepali language and encourage its use in everyday life.

On this day in 1992, Nepali language was recognised in the eight schedule of the Constitution and since then, the day is celebrated as Bhasha Diwas in the hills.

The demand for the recognition of the language in the Constitution had been long and it gathered steam in 1956 after the Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasha Samity took up the cause.

Chandra Kumar Rai, the president of the Nepali Sahitya Sammelan, which was established in 1924, said on Tuesday: "I think time has come to form a Nepali Bhasha Samity to safeguard the language. The government has recognised our language but there have been some weakness on our part, too." Citing an example, Rai said "employees and teachers" "could at least write in Nepali" while applying for leave.

"We are losing our vocabulary. Instead of using different Nepali words like mama, phupa, phuphu and maiju, our children are being encouraged by parents and guardians to simply call `uncle' and `aunty'," said Rai.

Literary figures in Darjeeling were also of the opinion that the Indian Nepali language must be guarded from the influence of Nepali language used in Nepal.

"Some individuals, probably to be in the limelight, are encouraging people not to use certain alphabets of our language. In 2009, we had held a meeting with writers based in India and the overwhelming mandate was that we should follow the language encouraged by stalwarts like Parasmani Pradhan and Babulal Pradhan," said Rai.

The Sammelan on Tuesday conferred the Prem Sherpa "Birogi" Yuwa Sahitya Puraskar on Sanjog Khawash.

Many writers were of the opinion that "use of Nepali language" in government offices should also be encouraged. "It was being used by the GTA earlier but there has been no continuation. We want to work on this aspect also," said Rai..

Over 9kg of gold worth 3.8 Crore .seized in Phulbari ..Acting on a tip-off, a team of officers of the agency intercepted the SUV near Phulbari in Jalpaiguri late on Monday

TT, 21.08.19, Calcutta: Officers of the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) intercepted an SUV headed towards the city and seized at least 60 gold biscuits, valued around Rs 4 crore, that had allegedly been smuggled from Myanmar, an officer of the agency said.
One of the seized gold biscuits
Add captionOne of the seized gold biscuits Telegraph picture
 intercepted the SUV near Phulbari in Jalpaiguri late on Monday.

They searched the car, which had three occupants, and found the gold stashed inside the SUV’s headrests. None of the men could produce papers that could prove legal purchase of the gold.

“They could not give any document such as invoices or cash receipts for the gold. We then arrested them,” the officer said. The men have been identified as Zomuankima, H. Rualsangpuia and Lalneihlaia, all from Aizawl in Mizoram, and the SsanYong Rexton car bore Delhi registration plates, an agency officer said.

Gold prices in the city rose to a new high of Rs 38,285 per 10 gram on Monday, the West Bengal Bullion Merchants and Jewellers’ Association said.

“We found the gold biscuits, each weighing around 160gm, wrapped in brown paper and stashed inside two headrests of the SUV,” the officer said. The total haul weighed around 9.96kg, he added.

The officer said the men later confessed that the gold had been smuggled through the Indo-Myanmar border in Mizoram. The men were to deliver them to a receiver in Calcutta. 

Ranchi firm dupes 20000, mastermind flees The mastermind is said to be from either Muzaffarpur or Nalanda district of Bihar

Victims protest outside the shut office of Smoak Multi Project Pvt Ltd on Main Road in Ranchi on Tuesday.
Victims protest outside the shut office of Smoak Multi Project Pvt Ltd on Main Road in Ranchi on Tuesday.Picture by Prashant Mitra
Vijay Deo Jha, TT, 21 August 2019, Ranchi,: Around 20,000 students and homemakers of the capital have been allegedly cheated by scamsters running a fake survey agency, Smoak Multi Project Pvt Ltd, for the past six months at Sharma Lane on Main Road under Hindpiri police station.

On Tuesday, some 2,000 persons, mostly homemakers and students, held a protest in front of the closed office building and tried to ransack it despite the presence of the police.

The mastermind, identified so far by only his first name Ankit, is said to be from either Muzaffarpur or Nalanda district of Bihar, said police. Ankit also hired local youths to run the office. All are absconding.

Ranchi police have lodged an FIR against Ankit under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating) of IPC.

A policeman explained the scam was not a fake chit fund, but a survey with an elaborate modus operandi to give it respectability. “People were not asked to deposit their money as savings. People were lured by the promise of easy money,” he said.

Explaining the process, the policeman said: “Prime suspect Ankit convinced youths that they were conducting a national survey to prepare books for visually impaired people. Advertisements were placed in newspapers and pamphlets distributed outside schools and colleges. Interested people were asked to sign an agreement with the company with Rs 1,950 as refundable registration fee. Fake stamp papers were used for the agreement.”

Then, the surveyors were given booklets with numerical codes and words and 150 survey sheets each.

“They were told that if they completed 150 survey sheets in a week they would get Rs 3,000. If they brought in more people, they would get Rs 500 more per entrant. Homemakers and students, who wanted extra income or pocket money, fell for this in large numbers,” the policeman added.

DSP (Kotwali) Ajit Kumar Bimal said Ankit might not even be the mastermind’s real name, admitting that they had precious little to go with. “We will question the shop-owner who rented out his premises to Ankit. We have procured some documents from students and mobile numbers used by the accused. I will also probe into what action local police took when a citizen had raised an alarm last month,” he said.

The citizen concerned, Md Javed, who is the president of a watchdog outfit, non-banking agents and investors protection committee, squarely blamed the police for this present mess.

“On July 29, I gave a written complaint at Hindpiri police station. I had submitted evidence how Smoak Multi Project is committing scam and money laundering. Police did come to the office when Ankit was present. But the police did not trust me. They said action can’t be taken unless the victims lodge an FIR.” Javed said.

Victims were both dejected and furious. Kajal, a student of St Xavier’s College, said her friend trapped her into this. “I can’t face my family that I am such a big idiot. My father is a policeman. He will thrash me if he comes to know that his daughter was conned. I prepared at least 500 survey sheets,” she said.

Riya Singh, a student of St Anne’s College, said she knew something was fishy when she did not “get a paisa”. “We’ve been fooled.” Anukriti, from St Xavier’s College, lamented that she not only lost money but also wasted her valuable time.

“My family members did not even know. I thought I’d earn some pocket money and surprise them. I wasted my valuable time that I could have used for my studies,” she said.

Ruqshar Perwez, a teacher at a private school, said the tuition teacher of her children told her about the scheme. “I thought, why not. And now, I’ve lost my money,” she said.

Faizal Ahmed, owner of a computer store, alleged Ankit and his team ran away with eight computers that he (Ahmed) had rented out to the company.

(Source & Courtesy:

J&K’s media face fumbles Peals of laughter broke out when a journalist asked how parents had contacted the government when there was a communication blockade and a clampdown

Kashmiris shout slogans during a protest after Eid prayers in Srinagar.
Kashmiris shout slogans during a protest after Eid prayers in Srinagar. (AP)
Muzaffar Raina, TT,  and PTI, 21 August 2019,  Srinagar: For a fortnight, Jammu and Kashmir’s face for the media has been projecting the government’s “all is well” narrative with relative ease. A flurry of questions on Tuesday challenging the official line, however, left him red in the face and searching for answers.

Rohit Kansal, the state’s principal secretary who is doubling as the government’s spokesman, has over the past 15 days been a busy man, reeling out one “fact” after another during evening media briefings about how rosy the situation in the Kashmir Valley is.

But Kashmir’s media corps appeared to have had enough on Tuesday and Kansal faced a flood of questions. Why was there no word on restoring mobile and Internet connections or on the arrest of hundreds of youths, he was asked.

The IAS officer had begun by claiming there were reports of normality in large parts of the state: 136 police station areas out of 197 in the state and 50 out of 111 police station areas in the Valley faced no daytime restrictions, government offices were reporting more-than-normal attendance, public transport had begun to ply, 73,000 landlines out of 96,000 in the state were operational and, above all, there was considerable improvement in students’ attendance in primary schools.

But telephone lines have not been restored even in parts of Srinagar. The lines came alive for barely two hours in the city centre, where the media enclave is located. Schools reopened up to Class V on Monday, but almost all students stayed away. There were no reports of improvement on Tuesday.

A journalist asked Kansal how reliable he was as the source of information. “I am not claiming to be the ultimate source of either information or wisdom,” the official replied, and added that journalists were at liberty to crosscheck. The information blockade and the official clampdown, however, are making fact-checking difficult.

To claims that not a single student was going to school even in the VVIP areas, Kansal merely said he appreciated journalists’ concerns.

The spokesman claimed that a good response from primary school students and requests from parents had prompted the administration to decide to reopen schools up to Class VIII on Wednesday.

Peals of laughter broke out when a journalist asked how parents had contacted the government when there was a communication blockade and a clampdown.

“You have a valid point. The communication blockade does not prevent you and me from talking,” Kansal replied, without explaining how parents had got in touch with the administration.

Struggling to name even one school with a decent turnout of students or give the attendance percentage, he asked for a week to respond.

Azad sent back

Former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was stopped at Jammu airport on Tuesday and “forcibly” sent back to Delhi, the Congress said. 

(Source & Courtesy:

Train teachers to spot stress’ ...Lessons for Calcutta schools on mental health ‘

A Class X student of GD Birla Centre for Education was recently found dead in the school washroom with wounds she is suspected to have inflicted on herself. Mita Mukherjee,  21.08.19, Calcutta: Schools must train teachers to identify children who show signs of stress and anxiety in class, the state child rights protection agency has said.
Parents, too, have been asked to inform the school if the child suffers from a physical or mental condition.

Both teachers and parents play important roles in “ensuring mental well-being” of students, according to the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR), which has issued a set of recommendations for schools.

Unfortunately, many institutions are not equipped to understand the mental health issues of students, the commission has pointed out and urged schools to train teachers to spot manifestations of stress, depression or anxiety in students.

“The teachers should be trained in identifying symptoms and patterns of mental health-related issues so that the children may be referred to the psychologists/psychiatrists as required,” the recommendations stated.

School counsellors, however, said it would be difficult to train every teacher to identify students suffering from mental health problems. “Teachers can’t be counsellors. But he or she should be able to understand immediately if a student behaves abnormally in class. Students should feel free to share their difficulties with their teacher. Teachers can be trained to develop this attitude among the students,” said Parmeet Soni, clinical psychologist.

The commission’s advice is aimed at checking suicide among school students, Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the chairperson of the child rights panel, said.

A Class X student of GD Birla Centre for Education was recently found dead in the school washroom with wounds she is suspected to have inflicted on herself.

The girl, a class topper, left behind a three-page note that suggested stress. The police had said she had not blamed anyone for her death.

Parents of children who suffer from mental health problems because of stress or depression often do not share the information with the school, according to the commission.

Schools must maintain a record of the physical and mental health conditions of its students, the commission has said. School diaries must include a page where parents will have to provide information about their wards’ mental and physical health conditions along with other details such as weight, height and blood group. If a student suffers from stress, depression or anxiety, or if they have any health problem, parents will have to specify the details of treatment.

The commission has also stressed that schools must ensure that all information regarding the mental health of students remains “strictly confidential”.

Several private schools already have a page in their diaries where parents are required to give a declaration on their wards’ health condition.

“We have received the recommendations of the commission. Our school already has a system of maintaining data related to our students’ health conditions. We will examine the commission’s recommendations and adopt them if necessary,” said Terence Ireland, the principal of St James’ School.

Pakistan to go to ICJ on Kashmir Islamabad reacted with fury to that decision, cutting trade and transport links and expelling India’s ambassador

Imran Khan speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE, on February 10, 2019. Reuters, 21.08.19, Islamabad: Pakistan said on Tuesday it would take its dispute with India over Kashmir to the International Court of Justice, after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status earlier this month.

Islamabad reacted with fury to that decision, cutting trade and transport links and expelling India’s ambassador.

“We have decided to take the Kashmir case to the International Court of Justice,” Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told ARY News TV on Tuesday. “The decision was taken after considering all legal aspects.”

The case would centre on alleged human rights violations by India in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule in part, Qureshi said.

A decision by the court would be advisory only. However, if both countries agreed before-hand, the ruling would become binding.

A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. India denies committing human rights violations in Kashmir.
(Source & Courtesy:

Solve ‘tough’ situation: Trump to India, Pakistan Nudge to ‘good friends’

This was Trump’s first conversation with Narendra Modi and the second with Khan since India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and redrew its map. TT, 21 August 2019, New Delhi: President Donald Trump on Monday night nudged India and Pakistan to resolve what he billed as a “tough” situation in a move perceived as an effort at “mediation” and also a bid to ensure that nothing upsets his Afghanistan apple cart.
While the White House had issued read-outs for Trump’s separate conversations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Imran Khan, the US President announced his assessment of the tele-cons with a tweet early on Tuesday morning as dawn broke on the subcontinent.

“Spoke to my two good friends, Prime Minister Modi of India, and Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, regarding Trade, Strategic Partnerships and, most importantly, for India and Pakistan to work towards reducing tensions in Kashmir. A tough situation, but good conversations!,” Trump tweeted.

President Donald Trump at the White House on June 7, 2019.
On Monday, after his conversation with Modi, Trump had spoken to Khan and conveyed the “need to reduce tensions and moderate rhetoric with India over the situation in Jammu & Kashmir”.
Earlier, according to the Indian read-out on Modi’s conversation with Trump, the Prime Minister had stated that “extreme rhetoric and incitement to anti-India violence by certain leaders in the region was not conducive to peace”.

That this had been communicated to Khan was evident from the White House statement on Trump’s tele-conversation with the Pakistani Premier.

Technically, this is not the first time the US has stepped in to advise both countries to de-escalate. But given Trump’s statements since July 23 — when he dropped the bombshell that Modi had asked him if he would like to mediate on Kashmir — the back-to-back conversations with the two Premiers had all the trappings of a mediatory role.

“Not to burst any bubbles, but this is what US presidents do and have often done when things heat up on the Kashmir front: They advise India and Pakistan to work things out. That said, given recent developments, this tweet makes for good optics for Islamabad,” tweeted Michael Kugelman, South Asia senior associate at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based research organisation.

This was Trump’s first conversation with Modi and the second with Khan since India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and redrew its map.

Trump is eager to have the Afghan peace deal in place by September 1, so that he can go into the next presidential run claiming to have delivered on his 2016 poll promise of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan. The last thing he needs now is for Pakistan’s attention to be diverted from its western border.

Pakistan has helped bring the Afghan Taliban to the peace negotiations, facilitating several rounds of meetings between them and the US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir came up later in the day during another telephonic conversation, this time between US secretary of defence Mark T. Esper and defence minister Rajnath Singh.

Singh iterated India’s stated position that issues relating to Article 370 were an internal matter. An official statement issued by New Delhi said the secretary of defence appreciated this contention and hoped for a resolution bilaterally.
(Source & Courtesy:

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