Saturday, 30 June 2007

Forcible cremation : Sonali Guha visits spot

COOCH BEHAR, June 30: A high-level Trinamul Congress team led by Mrs Sonali Guha (MLA) visited Dakshin Nalgram village of Sitalkuchi in Mathabhanga sub-division today. During their visit they met neighbours and other villagers to find out what actually happened with Madhabi Barman (15). After returning to Cooch Behar town, the Trinamul leaders met the district magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha and the SP Mr Anil Kumar. They demanded immediate arrest of the miscreants stated to be CPI-M activists who cremated the girl alive on 22 June.

Mrs Guha said the parents of Madhabi and her sister – Mr Lalit Barman, Mrs Banubala Barman and Sonali Barman – had to leave the village because the CPI-M goons are terrorising them after lodging of a complaint to the SDPO of Mathabhanga on 27 June. The CPI-M activists assaulted the 10-year-old brother of Madhabi –Sushil Barman – because he had disclosed to the media persons that his elder sister was alive when she was cremated, Mrs Guha alleged.

The Trinamul leader said they would submit a detailed report to party chief Miss Mamata Bannerjee and further plan of movement against CPI-M would be declared out after reviewing the report. They will raise the issue to the Assembly too, Mrs Guha said.

Mrs Guha, a close associate of Miss Mamata Bannerjee, alleged that Madhabi was cremated alive by CPI-M activists ignoring her mother's appeal and in absence of her father. No death certificate was issued after the girl's so called death, she alleged. It is not new for CPI-M, as they had burnt Tapasi Malik of Singur. The state chief minister talks against atrocities done on women but his party men made it a habit to burn girls. She recalled a past incident occurred in Mathabhanga when CPI-M activists gang-raped a housewife. That incident had rocked the state and the case of Madhabi too may rock the state once again, Mrs Guha said. []

Friday, 29 June 2007

Forcible cremation : Trinamul team visits spot

COOCH BEHAR, June 29: A 13-member Trinamul Congress team led by its district unit president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh visited Dakshin Nalgram village under Sitalkuchi police station today. They talked with the parents of Madhabi Barman (15) who was allegedly cremated forcibly by some local CPI-M activists on 22 June. On the otherhand a five-member Trinamul MLA-team led by Mrs Sonali Guha is to visit that village tomorrow. They will also meet Cooch Behar DM and SP to discuss the issue.

After visiting Dakshin Nalgram village in Mathabhanga sub-division today, the district Trinamul leaders submitted a memorandum to the Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar demanding arrest of the culprits.

Mr Ghosh said the victim was suffering from illness due to abortion done by a local quack. One Biswajit Ray, son of CPI-M's ex-panchayat member Mr Budaru Barman, allegedly raped her three years ago. She became pregnant. After local arbitration she was sent to the boy's house but she was driven out from there after four months. It was decided that the parents of the girl will get Rs 18,000 as compensation but Rs 3,000 is yet to be paid. Since the abortion done by the quack she was suffering from various ailments, her parents told the Trinamul leaders.

On 20 June the parents of the girl took her for medical examination to Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospital. On 22 June in absence of her father, Mr Lalit Barman, a brickfield worker, some villagers stated to be CPI-M leaders and activists took the sick girl forcefully and cremated her at a burning ground. She was sick but she was alive at the time when she was forcibly cremated, her parents complained to the Trinamul team, Mr Ghosh said. The victim's mother, Mrs Banubala Barman lodged a complaint against seven CPI-M men involved with the incident to the SDPO of Mathabhanga Mr Ananda Roy on 27 June. Police started an inquiry but took no action till now, Mr Ghosh said.

Mr Ghosh also alleged that the 10-year-old brother of the girl named Sushil Barman was assaulted yesterday because he told the media persons that his elder sister was alive when she was cremated. Out of fear the parents of Madhabi left Dakshin Nalgram village and had to take shelter in a neighbouring village, the Trinamul team observed.

On the otherhand, local CPI-M leadership termed the entire allegations as baseless. They claimed that they cremated Madhabi's body after taking permission from her parents. The sick girl had died on Thursday night and she was cremated on Friday, they said.

Demanding arrest of the CPI-M men Trinamul Congress supporters staged a roadblock for about one-and-half hour on Mathabhanga-Sitalkuchi road today. Trinamul Mahila Congress supporters led by its district unit president Ms Kalyani Poddar demonstrated in front of the offices of SDO and SDPO in Mathabhanga yesterday. Trinamul Congress will organise a demonstration in front of Mathabhanga SDO office on Monday. They will also observe a thana gherao programme at Sitalkuchi on Tuesday. []

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Girl allegedly burnt alive in Mathabhanga


COOCH BEHAR, June 28: An allegation over burning a 15-year-old girl alive is turning the political situation hot in Cooch Behar. Receiving a complaint from the mother of the victim the police started an investigation into the matter. Trinamul Congress supremo Miss Mamata Bannerjee took the allegation seriously and asked the party's district leadership to submit a report to her after inquiring the matter immediately.


It was learnt that Madhabi Barman (15) of Dakshin Nalgram under Mathabhanga sub-division was suffering from illness for some time. Some villagers allegedly cremated her alive on last Friday morning by ignoring her mother's appeal. Her father, Mr Lalit Barman was also absent at that time. The victim's mother Mrs Banubala Barman alleged that some villagers, stated to be CPI-M supporters, were disturbing her daughter for a long with ill motivated proposals but Madhabi never agreed to their proposals. This probably aroused anger among those men, she said.


Madhabi's mother said the seven men appeared there house on last Thursday night and told her parents that their sick daughter died and needs cremation. Her father, Mr Lalit Barman and her mother protested and the seven had to go back. On the next morning they appeared again when Mr Barman was not in the house. They allegedly forcefully took away Madhabi's body to the cremation ground and set fire on her body placing it on the pyre. Her limbs (hands and legs) were trembling till then, her shocked mother alleged. She tried to rescue her daughter's body but those men restrained her from doing so.


Yesterday, Mrs Barman lodged a complaint to the sub-divisional police officer of Mathabhanga, Mr Ananda Roy. Mr Roy said they started an investigation into the allegation.


Today, media persons visited the village and talked with the victim's mother and some other villagers. An ex-Gram Panchayat member and CPI-M's branch committee secretary Mr Rabindranath Barman termed the allegation as baseless. He claimed that they cremated Madhabi's body after taking permission from her parents. The girl had died on Thursday night and she was cremated on Friday, he said. Purta Karmadhyaksha of Sitalkuchi Panchayat Samity Mr Girindra Nath Barman too echoed similarly.


Supporters of Trinamul Mahila Congress led by its district unit president Ms Kalyani Poddar demonstrated in front of the offices of SDO and SDPO in Mathabhanga today. They demanded arrest and punishment of the miscreants involved in the incident. District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said a fact finding team will visit the village tomorrow to get a first hand information about the incident. []  

Blast mysteries unsolved yet, bandh held


COOCH BEHAR, June 28: The mystery behind the blast that occurred last night at Nishiganj is yet to be unveiled. Police started an inquiry into the incident but no headway was found till now. This was the third mysterious explosion in Cooch Behar district in recent past. The first one occurred near New Cooch Behar Railway Station on 8 October 2006. No one was injured in that incident. The second one was occurred near Cooch Behar Railway Station recently (on 14 June). One person was injured in that incident.


Last night's blast at Nishiganj left five persons injured who were sent to Nishiganj Primary Health Centre soon after the incident. Condition of two them turned serious and they were shifted to MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. Police are yet to resolve the mysteries behind all these three incidents.


Mathabhanga Police claimed today that they got some clues in connection with yesterday's blast that was occurred in front of a roadside fruit shop. They believe that the blast was not a massive one. After primary investigation they learnt that it was merely a country-made hand-bomb that was either hurled towards the fruit shop during a power cut or it was hidden in a fruit box that exploded at about 8-45 p.m. When asked, Mathabhanga SDPO Mr Ananda Roy hoped that they would be able to reveal the actual picture very shortly.


Cooch Behar ADM (G) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra who visited the spot last night said police already started an inquiry to find out the reasons behind the incident.


Yesterday's blast at Nishiganj was able to add an extra dimension because it was occurred during the 24-hour bandh called by Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF) that started on yesterday morning.


A 12-hour bandh was observed at Nishiganj and adjacent areas in Mathabhanga sub-division today. The CPI-M called the bandh in protest against pre-planned designs to disrupt peaceful situation. They also took out a slogan shouting procession in that area demanding arrest of the miscreants involved in the explosion. No untoward incident was reported during today's bandh.


Submitting a memorandum to the district magistrate today, Cooch Behar District Merchants Chamber of Commerce (CDMCC) too demanded arrest and punishment of the persons involved in the blast. They also demanded security measures for the marketplaces, general people and businessmen. []

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Blast at Nishiganj, 5 injured 

COOCH BEHAR, June 27: During the 24-hour bandh called by Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF) an explosion occurred at Nishiganj market in Cooch Behar at about 8-45 p.m. The incident took place when there was a massive load shedding. Five persons were injured in the blast and they were sent to Nishiganj Primary Health Centre immediately after the incident. On getting the information Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar, ADM (G) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra, Mathabhanga SDPO Mr Ananda Roy and other senior officials rushed to the spot. A senior police official said the blast was not a massive one.


It was learnt that the blast occurred in front of a roadside fruit shop at Nishiganj market. The injured were identified by locals as Raghunath Horh, Bishnu Biswas, Babu Barman, Bablu Karjee and Bazle Mian.


The nature of the blast and the reasons behind it are yet to be ascertained, Cooch Behar ADM (G) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said this night. []

Resumption of air service demanded


COOCH BEHAR, June 26: Cooch Behar District Merchants Chamber of Commerce (CDMCC) demanded resumption of air service using the renovated Cooch Behar Airport. They also threatened a general strike in Cooch Behar if the Union civil aviation ministry fails to resume the long suspended air service before the pujas.


Faxing a letter addressed to Mr Praful Patel, Union civil aviation minister, the CDMCC alleged that for the last two years the civil aviation department was assuring that flights of Indian Airlines would be resumed from Cooch Behar Airport very soon. Meanwhile the hindrances detected by the department were also removed, they mentioned.


A CDMCC spokesman said they had wrote a letter to the Union civil aviation minister on 25 October 2006 urging resumption of air service. Mr SK Chhikara, under secretary of civil aviation ministry, replied on 17 January of this year that "Cooch Behar Airport is still not ready for operation of flights and Indian Airlines does not have the spare capacity of turbo-prop aircraft for operation to that airport". "This reply make us think that the Central government does not want the industrial development in this remote district and improvement of communication also", the CDMCC spokesman said.


Sending copies of the letter to state chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Union information and broadcasting minister Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and chairman of civil aviation standing committee Mr Sitaram Yechury, the CDMCC spokesman declared that they may have to call a bandh in Cooch Behar before the pujas if the Union civil aviation ministry fails to resume the long awaited air service from Cooch Behar Airport. []


BJP supporters courted arrest at Tinbigha

COOCH BEHAR, June 26: A large number of BJP supporters were courted arrest near Tinbigha corridor in Mekhliganj sub-division this noon. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) organised the programme to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Tinbigha Handover Day. Tinbigha was handed over to Bangladesh to use as a corridor to connect that country's two enclaves – Dahagram and Angarpota - with mainland on 26 June 1992 following an agreement signed between India and Bangladesh.


Today, the BJYM organised a gathering at Dhapra under Kuchlibari police station. BJYM's all India vice-president Mr Ashok Sharma, state unit president Mr Rahul Chakraborty, state BJP general secretary Mr Rahul Sinha, presidents of Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar district units – Mr Dwipen Pramanik and Mr Nityananda Munsi and president of Kuchlibari Sangram Committee Mr Manomohan Roy addressed at that public meeting.


After the meeting at Dhapra the BJP leaders started for Tinbigha corridor on foot with a large number of supporters. They had a plan to stage a roadblock there to mark their protest. In front of Kuchlibari police station they were stopped by the police and were courted arrest. The BJP supporters sat down there on the road. Cooch Behar district BJP president Mr Nityananda Munsi claimed that the police set them free after about 20-minute declaring that 12,000 BJP supporters were courted arrested.


The BJP and BJYM leaders also addressed at a gathering near the bus stand in Mekhliganj this afternoon. Mr Munsi said the programme was organised to stage protest against the proposed construction of a flyover on Tinbigha so that Bangladesh nationals can use the corridor round-the-clock. In their address the leaders demanded Tentulia corridor from Bangladesh in exchange for Tinbigha corridor, driving out 'Bangladeshi Muslim infiltrators' from Indian soil and exchange of all chhitmahals (enclaves) of India and Bangladesh. []

Mixed response in Kamtapuri bandh


COOCH BEHAR, June 27: Mixed response was found during the bandh called by Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF) in Cooch Behar district today. The bandh was called in six districts of north Bengal and eleven districts of Assam. The GKUF gave the bandh call demanding formation of a separate Greater Cooch Behar state comprising of seventeen districts and recognition of Kamtapuri language. The GKUF was formed recently comprising of Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP), Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP) and All Koch Rajbongshi Students' Union (AKRASU).


NBSTC buses were found plying with very few passengers while passenger vehicles of private operators were off the roads. Almost all shops were found closed today. Production units at Chakchaka Industrial Growth Centre complex functioned normally. Government offices and banks were found open but attendance was a bit low. District Magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha claimed that attendance was normal.


Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar said the bandh supporters damaged three vehicles in Cooch Behar and Dinhata. 475 bandh supporters were arrested from different areas of the district. At Putimari in Dinhata they damaged a NBSTC bus and at Baneswar in Cooch Behar they damaged a lorry and a Maruti car, the SP said. It was learnt that the bandh supporters at Putimari assaulted the bus driver. He was shifted to hospital.


GCDP president and also GKUF secretary Mr Ashutosh Barma claimed that today's bandh was total. He alleged that CPI-M supporters attacked their supporters to disrupt the bandh at Basantirhat in Dinhata. Last night police arrested their seventy supporters and ransacked some houses at Harirhat area, he alleged. On the otherhand, police said they went to Harirhat after receiving information that a group of armed people assembled there. When they arrived there the Kamtapuris damaged their vehicle. 43 persons were nabbed from the spot, police said. Mr Barma however refuted the allegations raised by police terming it as a concocted one. []  
Workshop on Right to Information


COOCH BEHAR, June 27: A workshop on right to information was held at District Institute of Education and Training in Cooch Behar yesterday. West Bengal Chapter of National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information organised the programme. General secretary of the organisation Mr DP Ray (MLA), Mr Amitava Choudhury, Mr Subrata Kundu, Mr Debabrata Chaki and others discussed on various aspects of the Right to Information Act.


Mr DP Ray said they work for building up an informed society and they believe that the most important happening of the last century was Satyagraha and the most revolutionary decision of this century is Right to Information Act 2005. The way Satyagraha upheld the strength of truth and united the entire India for the freedom movement, this RTI Act also speaks about truth, transparency and of good governance on one hand and on the other hand makes way for the people's participation in the democracy and empowers them for the informed participation which is most important for the social development, Mr Ray said.


Mr Ray observed that even after enactment of the RTI Act in eight different states this movement was not known in West Bengal. It is simply unfortunate, he opined. "We have organised forty-eight awareness generation camps and a few capacity building workshops in all the district headquarters and in almost all the sub-divisional towns till date", he added. Yet it is a long way to go and needs to organise many such programmes. They also authored a plan to organise capacity building workshops alongwith awareness campaign to harness the RTI Act, Mr Ray informed. []

Monday, 25 June 2007

Hawkers on warpath against eviction drive


COOCH BEHAR, June 25: Members of TUCC affiliated Bengal Hawkers' Association (BHA) took out a procession in Cooch Behar today protesting against Cooch Behar Municipality's hawker eviction drive that started on last Monday. SUCI affiliated All Bengal Hawker Sangram Committee (ABHSC) too organised similar programme today.


Submitting a memorandum to the district magistrate, the BHA leaders demanded rehabilitation measures for affected hawkers. They also demanded establishment of hawkers' market in the town and relief for the evicted poor hawkers. The authorities should not evict any hawker without extending alternative arrangements, they appealed.


Mr Gopal Dey, secretary of the Cooch Behar district unit of the BHA alleged that the district administration and the Cooch Behar Municipality jointly launched the eviction drive. A number of evicted poor hawkers are spending their days in almost starvation with their family members. Already two distressed hawkers tried to commit suicide and are now under medical care at MJN Hospital. "Earlier we made an appeal to the authorities concerned to arrange relief for the affected hawkers but nothing was done for them", Mr Dey alleged. The BHA leader said the district magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha heard their demands with patience and assured them that he will consider the matter sympathetically.


Meanwhile, criticising the indiscriminate eviction drive Cooch Behar District Merchants Chamber of Commerce (CDMCC) demanded rehabilitation for the evicted hawkers.  Submitting a memorandum to the district magistrate CDMCC urged him to extend loans and assistance to the hawkers and also inclusion of their names in BPL list.  


On the otherhand, ABHSC too organised a protest rally at Power House Choupathi after a procession today. Vice-president of the organisation, Mr Bidhan Chatterjee, SUCI leader Mr Kajal Chakraborty and Mr Nepal Mitra were among the speakers at the gathering. They demanded that the hawkers should be assured that they will not be evicted out without any rehabilitation measure so that no one can follow the self-immolation way. They also demanded that the administration should compensate with financial assistance to the two hawkers who tried to commit suicide to meet the medical expense.


ABHSC leader Mr Nepal Mitra appealed to all to stand by the poor hawkers. He alleged that SUCI was not invited to the all-party meet to discuss the hawker eviction plan because it is against any such move. He argued that any citizen can conduct business on a footpath for his livelihood and it is a part of our national economics. Following the central government's hawker policy eviction of hawkers cannot be done only to beautify a town, he opined. []

Sunday, 24 June 2007

White Paper demanded over Teesta Project


COOCH BEHAR, June 24: Mr Partha Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition, alleged that work was done for about 85-kilometre only out of 840-kilometre for the much-publicised Teesta Irrigation Project. Four decades passed out but the project is yet to be completed.   How long the farmers of north Bengal will have to wait to get water for irrigation to their farmlands, he questioned. He demanded releasing of a White Paper on the funds received and spent so far in this project. The leader of the Opposition was talking with media persons at Cooch Behar Circuit House today. He came here to attend the district conference of the party's minority cell held at Rabindra Bhavan.


Mr Chatterjee also demanded appointment of experienced automobile engineers or technicians as administrators to run the sick North Bengal Transport Corporation. Political leaders are not fit to run the NBSTC in the right way, he opined. He will raise the issue in the state Assembly on 2 July, the leader of the Opposition declared.  


Talking over Chhitmahal (enclave) issue Mr Chatterjee claimed that about 2.5-lakh people are suffering from insecurity in the Indian enclaves surrounded by Bangladesh territory. The state government should put pressure on the Centre to look into the matter so that these people can avail all legitimate rights as other citizens of the country. He also demanded setting up a second Writers' Building in north Bengal to extend good governance to the people of this region.


Commenting over the ongoing hawker eviction drive in Cooch Behar, the Trinamul Congress leader alleged that the Congress-run civic body is evicting poor people forcefully in the name of development. He demanded rehabilitation measures for the evicted poor hawkers.


Mr Chatterjee demanded that the government should establish tea-training institutes instead of handing over the lands of tea gardens for construction of housing estates in north Bengal. He also demanded measures to conserve the forestlands and work for local poor people.


Mr Chatterjee declared that the Trinamul Congress would stage a demonstration in front of the office of the divisional commissioner at Jalpaiguri on 9 May demanding immediate steps to reopen the closed tea estates of north Bengal. A sit-in programme will also be held there participated by people from all the six districts of north Bengal following the call given by the party chief Miss Mamata Bannerjee. Mr Chatterjee opined that the state government is tottering after the party chief's recent visit to the tea gardens. []  

Suicide bid of another hawker


COOCH BEHAR, June 24: An evicted hawker, Kanu Barman (48), tried to commit suicide by charging sharp shaving-blades on his body at his residence at Chakir Morh last evening. As the main bread earner of the family of seven members he was running a small tea stall at Lichutala in the town. During the ongoing eviction drive his shop was too evicted and out of despair he tried to commit suicide. He is now undergoing medical care at MJN Hospital. Leader of the Opposition, Mr Partha Chatterjee visited him at the hospital today and inquired about his condition. Earlier, another crestfallen hawker of stationary items, Shankar Chatterjee (38), tried to commit suicide by consuming poison on Friday. []

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Minister's drive against illegal trade of kerosene


COOCH BEHAR, June 23: State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary personally led an operation accompanied by district controller of food and supply, Mr Shyamal Sil against illegal trade of kerosene in Mathabhanga today. During his drive he learnt of gross irregularities in selling of kerosene meant to residents in government stipulated price rate. As his drive plan somehow leaked out he found almost all the kerosene outlets closed in Mathabhanga.


It was learnt that state food and supply department had issued eighty-nine licences to sell kerosene to residents at not more than Rs 9.50 per litre. There are 38 licensees in Cooch Behar Sadar, 35 in Mathabhanga, 8 in Tufanganj, 5 in Dinhata and 3 in Mekhliganj sub-divisions. Each licensee gets 400-litres kerosene per month. But the minister received several complaints from different sources that the licence holders were not selling the kerosene at fair price. The huge quantity of kerosene is going to clandestine market. They are reportedly selling out the kerosene at the rate of Rs 15 to Rs 30. The main purchasers are passenger vehicle owners who run their vehicles with kerosene mixed with diesel in Mathabhanga. It is also available for general buyers at a higher price. To study the situation the minister decided to make an on-the-spot survey.


During the drive Mr Adhikary boarded a rented car to hide his identity. He found almost all the outlets closed. In a place he noticed that there was no signboard, no documents or any receipts about the sell procedure. But at each place he got locals who poured numerous complaints against the unscrupulous kerosene traders. Mr Adhikary said, "I came to examine the allegations I already received. I want people's co-operation to draw an end to such irregularities." He assured the locals that he would do his best to stop corruption by conducting raids regularly.


On the otherhand, Mr Arjun Dutta, secretary of Cooch Behar District MR Dealers' Association, welcomed the drive initiated by the state food and supply minister. He opined that the people were being deceived due to the dishonest activity of the so-called licensed kerosene dealers. The minister should take a strict action against them, he said. []


PHOTO : State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Suicide bid of evicted hawker


COOCH BEHAR, June 22: The demolition drive initiated by Cooch Behar Municipality was continued on its fifth day too. It started on Monday to evict unauthorised hawkers and dismantle illegally constructed portions of shops and buildings. Chairman of the Congress-run civic body, Mr Biren Kundu is personally supervising the drive.


Meanwhile, a crestfallen hawker named Shankar Chatterjee (38), a resident of Old Post Office Para, tried to commit suicide by consuming poison at his residence today. He is now under medical treatment at MJN Hospital. Doctors declared him out of danger. His roadside outlet of stationary items in front of Cooch Behar Palace was evicted during the municipality's drive. He said that he had to take up hawking after finding no job or any other alternative. He threatened that he will try again to commit suicide if he was not extended with any rehabilitation.


On the otherhand, Trinamul Congress supporters staged a one-hour roadblock at Kachhari Morh today demanding rehabilitation for the evicted poor hawkers. They alleged discriminatory treatment taken by the civic body during the demolition drive. The Trinamul Congress supporters also demonstrated in front of the office of Cooch Behar Sadar SDO today against the civic body's drive.


Cooch Behar Municipality sources however said that the eviction drive would continue for some more days in the town. []

Tea garden reopening demanded


COOCH BEHAR, June 22: A large number of jobless workers of closed Turturi Tea Estate assembled at Alipurduar today. They came to submit a memorandum to the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri, Mr R Ranjit at Alipurduar Circuit House. Later, a delegation comprising of ex-minister Mr Dasharath Tirkey, UTUC's Jalpaiguri district unit secretary Mr Nirmal Das, secretariat member of Dooars Cha-Bagan Workers' Union Mr Purna Biswas, Mr Data Oraon, Ms Ingo Munda, Mr Parsuram Baik and others submitted the memorandum to the Jalpaiguri DM.


In the memorandum the leaders demanded action to reopen the closed tea garden that was suddenly closed down on Tuesday by issuing a 'suspension of work' notice. They told the DM that about 700 permanent workers of Turturi Tea Estate were left to uncertainty by the management that abandoned the tea garden. A tripartite meeting was scheduled to be held on 26 June to sort out the ongoing problems but the management of the tea garden preferred to pull down the shutters prior to that meet, the aggrieved leaders said.


Mr Nirmal Das, UTUC's Jalpaiguri district unit secretary and also the MLA of Alipurduar, said that the tea estate was suffering from various irregularities during the past five years. The workers were agitating peacefully for their arrear rations and wages but that posed no threat in normal functioning of the garden. By closing down the garden its management did wrong to its workers, he alleged. To look after the problems related to tea gardens of Dooars an office of the Tea Board should be set up at Alipurduar, he said.


In presence of Alipurduar SDO Mr Prabhudutta David Pradhan and additional labour commissioner Mr Manoj Saha, the UTUC and DCBWU leaders urged the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri to ask the management to reopen the garden otherwise the state government should take over it to run it by appointing a new management. They also demanded facilities like drinking water, medical assistance and shelters for the helpless workers. Each family should be extended with at least two tarpaulin-sheets over their heads, they opined. They also alleged that the medical clinic of the tea garden was a non-functional one for a long.


The Jalpaiguri DM, Mr R Ranjit heard the complaints from the UTUC and DCBWU leaders and assured that he will look after the matter to sort out the problems, Mr Das said. []

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Son witnessed marriage of his parents


COOCH BEHAR, June 21: In an exemplary event a man wedded his once abandoned fiancée last night. The eight-month-old son born out of their relation was present on the lap of the bride as the chief witness. The marriage ceremony was organised at the Shot Stay Home (SSH) premises at Baneswar in Cooch Behar.


Ms Nilima Debnath (23) of Kutipara in Baneswar had sought help from the Family Counselling Centre (FCC) run by a non-government organisation of Baneswar on 28 February 2006. She informed them that she was in love with a neighbour named Mr Rajmangal Mahato since 1998. They had physical relation too as her lover, a dry fish trader, assured her of marriage. Out of premarital sexual relation she became pregnant. (She was four months pregnant when she came to the FCC.) But, the fiancé and his family members denied accepting her. The FCC arranged her to live at the Short Stay Home run by the NGO since 21 April 2006. She gave birth of a male child named Rajnarayan at MJN Hospital on 14 August in that year.


In the meantime the FCC tried several times to convince the man and his family members to marry the girl but they did not agree. At last the FCC sought the help of Women Cell of Cooch Behar Police and the girl lodged a complaint against the man and his family members. Following this development Rajmangal came out with a proposal to marry her and also expressed his willingness to accept the son. The girl too agreed to this proposal.


The much sought after marriage ceremony took place last night at the SSH premises in Baneswar. The father of Nilima Mr Sailendra Debnath and the father of Rajmangal Mr Bhikari Mahato were present at the ceremony along with their newly got grandson Rajnarayan. []

Villagers gheraoed BSF jawans


COOCH BEHAR, June 21: Residents of Uttar Balabhut village in Tufanganj sub-division confined three BSF jawans for a few hours. They were set free after intervention of senior administrative and BSF officials. A probe also started into the matter.


It was learnt that construction of a bridge on Khata river was going on at Uttar Balabhut under Tufanganj police station. The place is near the Indo-Bangladesh border. Seventeen workers engaged in the construction work live in a camp on the bank of the river. A BSF border outpost is there to check infiltration and smuggling. Activists of different militant outfits reportedly use this area as a safe passage.


At early hours of today a team of four BSF jawans engaged in patrolling duty reportedly saw that someone was showing light signal in the dark and then entered into the camp. Suspecting a bid to cattle smuggling the jawans forced their entry into the camp and started questioning. They allegedly beat up the sleeping workers. Hearing hullabaloo from the camp villagers assembled there and gheraoed the camp. Local Panchayat functionaries too appeared there. The locals closed the gate of the camp yard with lock and key though one of the four jawans somehow managed to get out.


On getting information additional district magistrate (general) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra, sabhapati of Tufanganj-I Panchayat Samity Md Abdul Rezzak Mian, Tufanganj-I BDO Mr Sekhar Das and a senior BSF official rushed to the spot. In their presence the confined jawans were set free. The villagers narrated their grievances against BSF jawans and demanded security measures for the workers engaged in construction of the bridge. The situation restored to normalcy when the officials assured that they would look into the matter seriously.


On the otherhand, The BSF has initiated an inquiry into the incident according to Mr PJ Rao, Deputy Inspector General, Border Security Force, Cooch Behar Sector. Two accused BSF jawans are now under close-arrest. Punitive measures will be taken against the jawans if they were proved offenders in the inquiry, he declared.


Cooch Behar ADM (G) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said that the allegation of beating up sleeping workers was very serious. "Taking the matter seriously we visited the spot. We will submit an inquiry report to the district magistrate", he said. []

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Rail pleads not guilty in tiger death

COOCH BEHAR, June 20: Mr Arjun Rakshit, Divisional Railway Manager, Northeast Frontier Railway, Alipurduar Division, today vehemently opposed the idea that the Royal Bengal Tiger that was found dead beside the railway track on Monday was knocked down to death by a speeding train. He welcomed any joint probe into the incident.

The body of the full-grown Royal Bengal Tiger was found with deep wound mark on its face near Dolong Bridge between Ghoksadanga and Falakata on Monday morning. After conducting post-mortem the carcass was burnt on that night at Jaldapara. The forest department has also lodged a complaint with Ghoksadanga police station in Cooch Behar regarding the incident stating that an unknown train pushed the tiger causing its death. The tiger's viscera samples will be sent to the Wild Life Institute of India in Dehra Doon for conducting more tests.

After post-mortem, forest department sources said blood clots, internal haemorrhages and four broken ribs were identified. They believe that the tiger had to die after a brush with a speeding train. State forest minister Mr Ananta Roy too said that they initially suspected that the tiger was run over by a train and after the post-mortem it was confirmed.

The allegations raised by the forest department against the railways prompted the Divisional Railway Manager, Alipurduar, Mr Arjun Rakshit to explain the matter from their viewpoint. He made it clear that the death of the tiger was not caused by any collision with any train. No driver or any other railwayman reported any such incident. "We have no compulsion to suppress such a matter. No train violated the speed control restriction at that specific spot", he said. There were four restricted zones along Siliguri Junction-Alipurduar Junction route to prevent elephant deaths as per recommendations of the concerned expert committee. In the case of the tiger that restriction was not violated because it was not under these zones, he explained.

Mr Rakshit said after a collision the body of the tiger is to be bruised all over, not an injury mark on its face. The head is to be crushed. But, since it was not a case of collision no such things occurred. The forest officials are blaming the railways to somehow pass the responsibility to others, he opined. Terming the incident unfortunate he suggested a joint inquiry into the incident.

The DRM said no one has any idea from where the tiger came from. The forest officials are sure that it died of collision with a train but it is not the responsibility of the railways to restrict speed of a specific train predicting the spot and moment when a tiger comes on the track to be collided. Heavy light and whistling of engines never attracts an animal like tiger to come on the tracks. Not only that, no one heard any roar of any tiger and no report was received of any injury of any human being or any cattle by any wild animal from the area where the body was found. If a tiger comes to vicinity birds and other animals feel its presence. From these it is clear that the cause of death of the tiger was not a train but anything else, Mr Rakshit said.

According to wildlife conservation activists carnivorous animals like Royal Bengal Tiger never comes out of their home range in forests except man-eaters. This time a male full-grown tiger came out for unknown reasons from yet to be ascertained jungle. No railway personnel reported the accident or any villager complained anything about any tiger. These raised some questions : Was any collision with any train ever occurred, was the tiger died at the spot from where it was found, was its body brought in from anywhere to smuggle out to other destination. An intensive inquiry only can reveal the truth behind the death of the big cat. []

Samhati Maidan

COOCH BEHAR, June 20: In a bid to promote and maintain communal harmony a playground named Samhati Maidan was inaugurated at Binpatti under Khagrabari Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar today. State forests minister Mr Ananta Roy inaugurated the playground. Cooch Behar MP (Rajya Sabha) Mr Tarini Roy, Cooch Behar (North) MLA Mr Dipak Sarkar, CZP sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, Cooch Behar-II Panchayat Samity sabhapati Mr Dhaneswar Roy, Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha, SP Mr Anil Kumar and Cooch Behar Sadar SDO Mr Jayanta Maity were present on the occasion.

The Samhati Maidan is a three-bigha land and Cooch Behar-II Panchayat Samity developed it at a cost of Rs 11-lakh. Mr Tarini Roy promised that he would bear the cost to erect the boundary wall from his Local Area Development fund. []

Demolition drive

COOCH BEHAR, June 20: Cooch Behar Municipality's demolition drive against unauthorised constructions entered its third day, today. Chairman of the civic body Mr Biren Kundu led the operation in association with senior administrative officials and a large contingent of police. The demolition drive created panic among the hawkers and encroachers in the town. Illegally constructed portions of many buildings and shops were pulled down and many stalls of footpath hawkers were evicted during the drive. The drive may continue for some more days, municipality sources said. []

Monday, 18 June 2007

Drive against unauthorised constructions

COOCH BEHAR, June 18: The pre-planned drive to remove unauthorised encroachments to make the town clean was started this morning and it was continued till 3 p.m. The operation started from Kachhari Morh led by Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha and Cooch Behar Municipality chairman Mr Biren Kundu. Later the operation was conducted in different areas of the town.

Cranes, bulldozers, about 400 municipal workers and a large contingent of police personnel were deployed to conduct the operation. Huge quantity of goods and construction items were confiscated during the drive. Smelling danger many hawkers removed their stalls and took away the goods prior to the operation. During the drive traffic movement was disrupted in some areas in the town.

The chairman of the civic body, Mr Kundu said that the operation would continue till clearing out all unauthorised encroachments and constructions. It is being done with active co-operation from the district administration, he said. No one will be allowed to capture the footpaths again, he said.

Meanwhile, Cooch Behar Zilla Byabasayee Samiti demanded rehabilitation facilities for the evicted footpath-traders. In a memorandum submitted to the district magistrate, the chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality and the sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad they alleged that the traders who were affected by the devastating fire on 25 November 2003 were not rehabilitated till now but they were also being evicted during the clean up drive.

Forward Bloc affiliated Bengal Hawkers’ Association too staged demonstration in front of Cooch Behar Sadar SDO office today against the drive to remove the roadside stalls and shops without arranging any rehabilitation measure for them. []

PHOTO : Cooch Behar DM Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha, municipality chairman Mr Biren Kundu and others heading for removal of unauthorised constructions in Cooch Behar town on Monday.

Story of a child in problem

COOCH BEHAR, June 18: One-and-half year old Moqsed Haq is suffering from a peculiar anatomical problem. It is causing unbearable pain to his parents and maternal grandfather. They are praying for order of death sentence for the child from the President, the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister.

Md Nazrul Islam, the maternal grandfather of Moqsed lives at the riverbank of Torsa at Pashchim Simlabari village under Patlakhawa Gram Panchayat in Alipurduar-I block. They own no cultivable land. He had married off his daughter Fuljan Bibi with a daily wage earner of Pundibari, Md Zakir Hossain. The couple got their first child delivered at their residence about one-and-half years ago. Soon after its birth they found that the newborn baby have no anus to pass stool. Without the hole at the rectum, the lower part of large intestine, secretion of stool is impossible. Observing the kid’s painful position they went to Maharaja Jitendra Narayan Hospital in Cooch Behar on the next day. From there they had to go to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri on the next day. At the NBMCH an operation was done (probably colostomy) and a pipe was fitted on his abdomen to ease out the stool.

After about a week the pipe was somehow ejected out and the rectum with a part of colon came out from that hole on the abdomen. Since then on it is suspending from there. The stool is also coming out from the unusual rectum.

The child was sent to NBMCH once again but nothing was done to replace the ejected out rectum and colon at the right place inside the belly. The family members had managed to visit Vellore to set the matter right but they had to return empty handed because the needed operation may cost about Rs one-lakh. They tried their best to collect the money but failed to get it. At last they went to NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata in April of this year. There the child was examined and the date of operation was fixed on 29 April of 2008. Prior to the proposed operation they will have to report at that hospital in March next year. As they are to avail free surgery they will have to wait in queue for a year because they are not in a position to bear the heavy cost for the surgical operation and the post operation medical care.

The mother of the child, Mrs Fuljan Bibi said blood come out very often from the hole on her child’s abdomen. Its left leg is too short than the right one. She claimed that they never skipped any vaccination like polio drops but their child is suffering from such miserable condition. “It is hard for us to collect the needed money for operation but we cannot bear the torment of our child anymore”, she said. She said her husband is now in Bhutan to earn money by working as daily wage labourer. They live with her father at Pashchim Simlabari. She has no idea how to get assistance from the government or any charitable organisation.

Both Moqsed’s mother and maternal grandfather said that the President, the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister should release order to kill the baby otherwise the kid should get proper medical care to become normal. “One may get life term for killing and so we want them to pass the order”, Md Nazrul Islam said. Will it be possible for the child to survive till the date of operation as prescribed by the NRS Medical College and Hospital, they questioned. It is difficult to bear the situation anymore, they said with tears rolling down their cheeks.

When asked about the problem a well-known medical practitioner, Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha said that the child might get back to normalcy after the needed surgery. This surgery may be done in three or four phases. Though it is a rare case it may not be impossible to cure the child with surgical operation, Dr Saha opined. []

PHOTO : Fuljan Bibi with her problem-child, Moqsed, at Pashchim Simalbari village in Alipurduar.

The body of the Royal Bengal Tiger being taken to Jaldapara for post-mortem.

Mysterious death of a Royal Bengal Tiger

COOCH BEHAR, June 18: A full-grown Royal Bengal Tiger was found dead beside the railway line near Dolong Tea Estate between Ghoksadanga and Falakata this morning. The area falls under Purba Salmara village of Mathabhanga sub-division. The length of the tiger is eight-feet and six-inch including its tail.

Soon after receiving the information senior forest officials from Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri including Cooch Behar DFO (Social Forestry) Mr Apurba Sen and Range Officer Mr Rahul Mukherjee rushed to the spot. A large contingent of police force was also deployed there. Examining the body the forest officials identified deep injury marks on its face. It is suspected that the tiger was knocked down to death by a train last night. To ascertain the actual cause of its death the body was sent for post-mortem to Jaldapara.

Forest department sources said that the Royal Bengal Tiger appeared there probably from nearby Jaldapara or Chilapata sanctuaries. Since it was found adjacent to the railway line with deep wound on its face it is believed that it was knocked down to death by any train. A probe started into the matter.

It may be mentioned here that a number of elephants, bison and other animals were mowed down by speeding trains in Dooars region on previous occasions, but death of a Royal Bengal Tiger caused by a train is unheard till now. []

Friday, 15 June 2007

Padayatra plan to open tea gardens

COOCH BEHAR, June 15: Dooars Cha-Bagan Workers’ Union (DCBWU) will organise a ten-day padayatra (walk) from Sankosh to Tista (Jalpaiguri) to highlight the situation of the closed and abandoned tea gardens of Dooars. A DCBWU spokesman said that the participants of the proposed 300-kilometre padajatra will demand opening of closed and abandoned tea gardens, setting up of an office of Tea Board at Alipurduar, state government to took up the responsibility of the students of closed tea gardens and withdrawing of lease agreement of the closed and abandoned tea estates. The padayatra will end at Jalpaiguri where the participants will submit a memorandum to the divisional commissioner, Jalpaiguri, Mr BL Meena. The proposed padayatra will start on 31 July.

The decision for the proposed padajatra was taken at a meeting of the DCBWU in Alipurduar today. Senior leaders like Mr Rana Sen, Mr Manohar Tirkey (minister), Mr Jochim Buxla (MP), Mr Nirmal Das (MLA), Ms Kumari Kujur (MLA), Mr John Phillip Xhalko (saha-sabhadhipati of Jalpaiguri Zilla Parishad) and others attended the meeting. In the meeting the leaders agreed that the Centre should not extend its packages for the benefit of tea garden owners only. The interest of the workers should also be kept in mind, they maintained. []

Lightning deaths

COOCH BEHAR, June 15: Two members of a family were killed of lightning at Kisamat Dasgram village in Dinhata this morning. Ratneswari Barman (85) was entertaining her newly-wed grandson-in-law, Sanjay Barman (27) with mangoes when thunderbolt struck them. The incident occurred around 9 a.m. Four others of neighbouring villages were also injured of lightning. They were sent to Dinhata sub-divisional hospital. []

Blast mystery still in dark

COOCH BEHAR, June 15: Special IG and DIG (North Bengal), Mr R Thyagaraju visited Cooch Behar today. He visited the place near Cooch Behar Railway Station with senior police officials where a blast was occurred last night. The cause behind his visit was to make an on-the-spot study of the situation. Mr Thyagaraju said after primary investigation it was found that there were some similarities between last night’s explosion and the explosives that were seized from Barobisa recently. He believes that the blast was done only to make people panicky because it was not targeted to anything important. The splinters like parts of ball bearings collected from the place of occurrence, pebbles and sample of earth are being sent for forensic examination. After that test it will be clear what kind of explosives were used for the blast, he said.

It may be mentioned here that a powerful explosion was occurred near Cooch Behar Railway Station and close to Station Choupathi at around 10 p.m. last night. The Circuit House is also at a stone’s throw distance from the spot. The blast was done on the roadside adjacent to the boundary wall of Chilarai Barrack of the Army. A passer-by was also injured from the blast.

A team of CID Bomb Squad personnel from Siliguri too visited the affected place today. Bomb Squad personnel of Army too examined the spot last night. The IG-IB Mr Rakhaldas Mukherjee, Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar, ASP Mr James Kujur, CRPF Assistant Commandant (E-69 Bn) Mr Indra KK and other senior Army, CRPF and police officials visited the place of occurrence last night. It was learnt that CRPF also probing the incident separately. A meeting was conducted today between senior officials of Army, police and CRPF today to discuss the matter.

Though no one of any investigating agency confirmed of anything about the nature of the explosion, they admitted that it was a powerful one. A senior police official said that local criminals might also be behind the blast. But, the possibility of any militant outfit’s involvement was not ruled out by anyone till now. []

PHOTO : Special IG Mr R Thyagaraju visits the spot where a blast occurred on Thursday night accompanied by Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar. In Cooch Behar on Friday.

Eviction drive plan declared

COOCH BEHAR, June 15: The Congress run Cooch Behar Municipality is going to launch an eviction drive in the town to make the streets and footpaths encroachment-free. The aim behind this plan is to restore the cleanliness and beauty of this heritage-town.

Chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality, Mr Biren Kundu said an all-party meeting was held recently. The district magistrate had convened the meeting. The plan to make the town encroachment-free was discussed in that meeting. Following the decision taken at that meeting the civic body is to start the eviction drive within a day or two, Mr Kundu said. The plan was approved at the meeting of Board of Councillors too yesterday, he said. The civic body will conduct the drive in association with district administration.

The chairman made it clear that there was no rehabilitation plan for the evicted hawkers. Making the town clean was the main issue of discussion at the all-party meeting. He said that the civic body had a sour experience over rehabilitation of evicted hawkers. A hawkers’ market was constructed for them in 1996 but later many of them handed over their stalls to others against huge sum of money and went back to the roadside as hawkers again. The civic body is not ready to extend rehabilitation facility for them again and again, Mr Kundu said.

During the eviction drive the civic body will clean up the encroached roadside drains, footpaths, unauthorised constructions and other places. The total number of hawkers to be evicted is yet to be ascertained, the chairman said. It will be better if the encroachers go away voluntarily before launching of the drive, he opined. He claimed that the CPI-M councillors supported their plan. “We are not interested about the role of Trinamul Congress and Forward Bloc over the issue”, he said.

When asked about the cycle-stands set up by the civic body on different footpaths, the chairman replied that these were not established to earn revenue. The civic body made these to help the citizens where they have to go in large numbers like market places, he explained.

On the otherhand, three women councillors demanded alternative arrangements for the hawkers of the town before evicting them. []

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

ICDS workers’ rally

COOCH BEHAR, June 13: Pashchim Banga Rajya ICDS Kormi Samiti took out a large slogan shouting procession in Cooch Behar today. Later they submitted a memorandum containing a fourteen-point charter of demands to the district magistrate and the district project officer of ICDS.

District unit president and secretary of the organisation – Ms Kajal Dey and Ms Shibani Saha led the programme today. They demanded Rs 3,000 as monthly salary for workers and Rs 2,000 for helpers, absorption of all workers and helpers as permanent employees, setting up more Anganwadi Centres at non-represented areas, drawing an end to supply of low-grade foods to the Anganwadi Centres and providing of foods for at least 300-days in a year. []

Congress demand

COOCH BEHAR, June 13: Following instruction from Pradesh Congress Committee, the Cooch Behar district unit of Congress organised demonstrations in front of all block development offices in Cooch Behar district today. They demanded arrangement of public viewing of BPL lists at all BDO offices, preparation of errorless BPL list and inclusion of actual poor people in the BPL lists. District Congress president Mr Shyamal Choudhury, general secretary Mr Sudha Ranjan Mukherjee and other Congress leaders spoke in the gatherings at different places on the occasion today. []

Jail custody for human skull traders

COOCH BEHAR, June 13: The four persons who were arrested from Jaigaon in Alipurduar with huge quantity of human skulls and thighbones yesterday were produced at the court of additional chief judicial magistrate in Alipurduar today. The acting ACJM, Ms Arpita Ghosh remanded them to jail custody for fourteen days.

It may be mentioned here that acting on a tip-off police recovered 22 sacks of human skulls and thighbones from a house at Jaigaon yesterday. Four persons were arrested in connection with illegal trade of human parts. The arrested four were identified as Mohan Shah, Sanjay Shah, Rajdeo Shah and Haridayanand Prasad. Prasad is the owner of the house. All of them are from Matihari in Bihar. After primary investigation police came to know that the arrested four were engaged in smuggling out of human skulls and bones to neighbouring Bhutan collecting from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. []

Hawkers on warpath

COOCH BEHAR, June 13: Members of TUCC affiliated Bengal Hawkers’ Association (BHA) came out on the street against the proposed eviction drive declared by Cooch Behar Municipality. More than two hundred hawkers took out a protest rally in Cooch Behar town this noon. They also submitted a memorandum containing a four-point charter of demands to the Cooch Behar Sadar SDO, Mr Jayanta Maity. Cooch Behar district TUCC secretary Mr Dipak Sarkar (MLA), district BHA president Mr Dhiren Sarkar and secretary Mr Gopal Dey led today’s agitation.

District BHA secretary Mr Gopal Dey said they also want a clean town but the hawkers should not be held solely responsible for encroaching the footpaths and roadside places. The civic body established several roadside cycle-stands by blocking footpaths. A number of big shops and bicycle stores too encroached streets in the town. Keeping eyes blind to the large shops and even the civic body’s own cycle-stands the authorities are planning to evict the poor hawkers who are earning their breads by running small roadside shops, he alleged. It will be brutal if the poor hawkers are evicted only to beautify the town, he argued. These hawkers have no alternative means to feed their families, he said. Mr Dey said they appealed the SDO to take an initiative to rehabilitate the hawkers before driving them out from their roadside shops and stalls.

In the memorandum the BHA demanded alternative arrangements and rehabilitation for the affected hawkers before evicting them. They also demanded establishment of Hawkers’ Market and distribution of stalls to the hawkers against minimum price. Any decision related with hawkers should be taken jointly with hawkers’ organisations, they demanded. For a hassle free traffic flow the entrance of MJN Hospital should be kept as a no parking zone for auto-rickshaws and one-way should be introduced along the Keshav Road upto Khagrabari, they suggested. []

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Trinamul demands Torsa dyke repairing

COOCH BEHAR, June 12: Members of Cooch Behar Town Block unit of Trinamul Congress organised a daylong sit-in in front of Cooch Behar Sadar SDO office today. Later they submitted a memorandum containing a seventeen-point charter of demands to the Cooch Behar Sadar SDO. Senior Trinamul Congress leaders like Mr Mihir Goswami, Mr Santosh Mukherjee, Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh and Mr Ranajit Gupta Choudhury addressed the party supporters at the sit-in.

President of Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress, Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said in the memorandum they demanded repairing of the embankment along Torsa river to save the heritage town. The existence of this town is dependent on this dyke, he said. Adequate supply of drinking water to all wards in the town, revision of BPL list to include all poor people of the town, absorption of all municipal casual workers, rehabilitation of displaced and fire-affected traders of Bhavaniganj Bazar, renovation and cleaning of all ponds in the town and establishment of medical, law and engineering colleges in Cooch Behar were also included in the charter of demands, Mr Ghosh Said. []

Tourism survey to start on Friday

COOCH BEHAR, June 12: Entrusted by the state tourism department a ten-member team of state-owned West Bengal Consultancy Organisation (WEBCON) will conduct a nine-day survey to prepare the “Project report for development of properties under Cooch Behar Debottar Trust Board (CDTB) located at Cooch Behar district and Varanasi and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh”. The survey will start on 15 June from Mekhliganj. Mr Ratan Chandra Mahapatra, project advisor (tourism) of WEBCON, will lead the team. It will visit all the age-old temples situated in Dinhata, Cooch Behar Sadar, Mathabhanga, Mekhliganj and Tufanganj sub-divisions.

Sources in the district administration of Cooch Behar said today that the WEBCON team would submit its final report to the state government in mid-July. Soon after that, may be within fifteen days, work will be started following the recommendations submitted with the report.

Mr Pannalal Mahapatra, the additional district magistrate (general) of Cooch Behar, said that the members of the WEBCON team would make on-the-spot survey in all the twenty-nine temples under care of Cooch Behar Debottar Trust Board in Cooch Behar district. Another team is to visit the CDTB temples and properties at Varanasi and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. During their visit the experts of the team will examine the requirements of devotees and other visitors needed at the temple premises. According to their finding and recommendation guesthouses and rest sheds will be erected at each place concerned. Sufficient number of lights, fans, and toilets alongwith water supply facility will also be provided. These facilities will be available under “use and pay” basis following “no loss no profit” plan, the ADM (G), Mr Mahapatra said.

It may be mentioned here that a four-member WEBCON study-team had visited Cooch Behar to prepare a development plan for CDTB properties from 21 May to 25 May. Led by Mr Ratan Chandra Mahapatra the team had visited different properties of Cooch Behar Debottar Trust Board mainly age-old temples and chalked out a development plan to improve the existing infrastructure to boost up religious tourism in this region. Prior to submit their final report to the state tourism department the WEBCON team is coming again with engineers and experts to give the proposed religious tourism plan a concrete shape. []

Monday, 11 June 2007

Rally of the members of INTUC affiliated Cooch Behar Municipality Workers’ Union demanding absorption of casual workers as regular ones. On the north bank of Sagardighi in Cooch Behar on Monday.