2553 Buddha Jayanti Celebrated at Ghoom Mhani Kiduk
Congress launch campaign for Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad election
SILIGURI, May 10: The Congress labour front - the Intuc-affiliated North Bengal Union of Plantation Workers - today launched a campaign for the upcoming two-tier Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad election scheduled on 28 June. The Darjeeling district Intuc president Mr Aloke Chakravarty said that his organization would place maximum emphasis on mobilising tea plantation workers in the Terai region behind the Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance in the ensuing election.
“We would depute two observers from each local unit in all the four blocks in the region. They would work in conjunction with the district Congress leadership to ensure the alliance's win in this crucial SMP election,” he said.
Mr Chakravarty further said that they would bring home to the plantation workers the message of the AICC general secretary Mr Rahul Gandhi. “Mr Gandhi has already thrown his weight behind the tea workers’ demand for land patta. We would also expose the double standards on the part of the CPI-M affiliated Citu in relation to this crucial issue,” he said.
Commenting on the recent poll boycott call by a tribal organization, the Congress leader accused the CPI-M of playing a crafty game over the boycott. “Citu activists participated by stealth in the polling process during the Parliamentary election on 30 June in the Terai region, betraying the Intuc and Citu's agreement over the collective boycott call,” Mr Chakravarty alleged. n SNS
Terai-Dooars strike commences
Statesman News Service
JALPAIGURI, May 10: The indefinite Terai-Dooars shutdown called by the Terai-Dooars Coordination Committee of the Akhil Bhartiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad has commenced today.
The strike has thrown life in several areas in the Dooars out of gear, though its impact was much less in the Terai. The shutdown was called demanding the release of two ABAVP activists who had been taken into police custody from Nagrakata in the wake of post-poll violence in the Dooars.
Areas affected by the strike included Banarhat, Nagrakata, Hasimara, Binnaguri, Grass More, Ethelbari, Telipara and Dimdima. Most shops in the Dooars remained closed today. ABAVP activists armed with bows and arrows staged roadblocks in several parts of Nagrakata and Banarhat. The activists are reported to have ransacked two shops in Binnaguri Station Road area.
Road and train services in the Dooars were also hit by the bandh. The Siliguri-New Alipurduar Intercity Express and the Siliguri-Alipurduar passenger train were cancelled today. Also the Alipurduar-Delhi Mahananda Express was diverted through the New Cooch Behar route.
ABAVP activists also locked up the Nature Interpretation Centre in Lataguri near Garumara forest and posted their flag in the centre area. The weekly haat in Malbazaar Road was also affected by the bandh.
The strike made little impact on Odlabari, Dhupgur and Mainaguri.
The president of the Terai-Dooars Coordination Committee of ABAVP, Mr John Barla, said that they would continue with the bandh until their demand was met.
The SP Jalpaiguri Mr Anand Kumar said that they were keeping a close eye on the developing situation.
Meanwhile the Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee, a state-based pressure group, has called for a 24 hour shutdown in Siliguri on 15 May, demanding the annulment of the Parliamentary election for the Darjeeling constituency, the deletion of foreigners’ names from the electoral list, and a re-poll.
The BOBBBC president and an eminent physician, Dr Mukunda Majumder, said that the election had been reduced to a farce in the crucial constituency. “The GJMM, in conjunction with the pliant district official and electoral machinery, have rigged the election. We will not accept the verdict, whatever it may be, until the votes’ list is duly corrected by deleting the foreign nationals’ names,” he asserted.
He further said that the shutdown would manifest the wrath smouldering in the people against the betrayal of the democratic engagement by the ruling clique in the Darjeeling hills. “No writ of the state government is running here and this abdication of authority is emboldening the separatists to run amok in the region,” Dr Majumder said.
Commenting on the proposed bandh a day before the counting process begins, the Siliguri SDO Mr Sharad Dwivedi said that they were keeping a close watch on the situation.
Hill strategy on counting
SILIGURI, May 10: Senior police and administrative officials in the district, including the DM and SP, will be meeting at the Darjeeling district collectorate tomorrow to take stock of preparedness for the 16 May poll counting.
The meeting - convened by the district electoral officer and the Darjeeling DM Mr Surendra Gupta - will also be attended by the SDOs and senior police officers from the four sub-divisions of Siliguri, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling.
The meeting will begin at noon. n SNS
Teach and learn: UK teens’ hill experience
Pakang, May 10: Evie Hone from the UK won everybody’s heart when she played a wooden Lepcha flute at Pakang, a quaint village in Kalimpong subdivision.
“I learnt the tune from a villager in just four sessions,” she said ecstatically at the 5th Lepcha English Language Day celebration in Pakang, 106km from Siliguri, on Friday.
Hone and 22 other teenagers from Britain and Belgium just finished their three-month long programme — organised by Africa and Asia Venture (AV), a UK-based NGO — to teach English to the children in a cluster of eight Lepcha villages.
The association between the Lepcha community and AV began in 2003 when the NGO under its Gap Year Teaching programme brought teenagers, who were just out of their secondary school, to remote villages of Kalimpong to teach children.
“These teenagers take a break of one year when they are just out of school. Some of them who want to travel around the world render free services. We undertake similar programmes in Africa also,” said Tendup Tshering Lama, the regional director of Asia Venture.
The volunteers teach in the night schools Pakang, Samsing, Pacheok, Siddim, Kongrebong Pringtam and Dabling. “The AV has built night schools where children come to learn English after regular classes. However, it is not just the children who learn. The volunteers also absorb many aspects of Lepcha culture,” said Tamang.
The result was quite evident when the children entertained the guests with peppy numbers like Abba’s Mamma Mia and enacted Odeysseus. Aliaster, another volunteer from the UK, recited a Lepcha poem ruing his unrequited love for the “beautiful Lepcha women” of the village. “It is an experience of a lifetime. There are so many problems here. Even basic amenities like electricity and running water are lacking. The hills are in stark contrast to Britain where we have all luxuries,” said Josephine Jonathan, donning a colourful Lepcha attire like others in her group.
Four members of the group also compiled the Lepcha English Encyclopedic Dictionary that will be published in October.
What’s more, they even learnt the ancient art of Lepcha archery and were eager to participate in a competition scheduled later in the day.
Children in turn found the night schools fun. “Bella and Claire are our favourite teachers because they taught us games like bingo and hangman. We also taught them Lepcha songs, dances and poems,” said eight-year-old Nurjangmit Lepcha.
Ritesh Pradhan wins Inter Village Chess Tournament
Kurseong May 10: Ritesh Pradhan (29) - a resident of Naya Bajar, Kurseong - won the final match of the Inter Village Chess Tournament organized by Aacharya Sanstha and held at Aacharya Sanstha hall in Kurseong today.
A total of 16 chess players participated in the tournament from across Kurseong town - including nine-year-old Pratik Rai, a resident of Naya Bajar, and Sunil Subba (50), a resident of Bhanutole-Kurseong.
In the presence of judges Mr Deewakar Waiba, a national chess player, and Mr Rajen Khaiba, a member of the Kurseong Chess Association, the two finalists Samresh Mondal (26) and Ritesh Pradhan (29) fought a closely contested match that lasted for nearly five hours, in which Mr Ritesh Pradhan finally clinched the Inter Village Chess Tournament championship.
The Aacharya Club Sansta-Kurseong secretary, Mr Sahadeo Sharma, said this tournament had been organized to promote local youth. n sns
Mamata Banerjee: Small-scale units more beneficial
Kolkata: The firebrand leader of the Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee, has made headlines over the years for her tireless campaign to make a dent in the communist citadel in West Bengal.
In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, she shares her views about the forthcoming elections and about the challenges that lie ahead.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is in favour of creating smaller states and, if they come to power, they are in favour of carving a Gorkhaland state out of Darjeeling. Will you favour such a move?
We oppose any such move that proposes to divide the state of West Bengal. Please remember that during independence, partition was an immense blow to the people of this part of our country and we have suffered immensely for the same. Hence, there is no question of agreeing to divide West Bengal. But no one seems to be interested in answering the basic question as to why people in the hills are aggrieved. It is because there has been no development in that region for the last 32 years. Darjeeling has the potential to develop into one of the finest hill resorts in the country but, unfortunately, due to the CPM's misrule it is in a mess.