Sunday, 30 September 2007

Importance of a sacred hereditary duty


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 30: Prabhat Chitrakar is now busy in making the clay idol of Baro Devi at the Debibari temple in Cooch Behar. He is doing this job for the past thirteen years. This is a hereditary job of the Chitrakar family of Dodeyarpar. He had to take up the duty from his father late Bhabendra Chitrakar and paternal uncle late Shisin Chitrakar. But, he is not sure about his son in taking up the hereditary job as he did.


Baro Devi is a special form of Goddess Durga worshiped by the Cooch Behar royal family. The idol is totally different from other models of Devi Durga. It was learnt that Maharaja Nara Narayan initiated the puja in 1533 AD. According to sayings, the Mararaja saw the Devi in this form in his dream. He introduced the puja of Baro Devi and the clay-image was made following his description as he saw the Goddess in his dream. Till now the image is identical to the first one to keep the tradition alive. As a hereditary act, Prabhat Chitrakar was entrusted to make the idol this year too.


The puja of Baro Devi is performed under Cooch Behar Debottar Trust Board, the guardian body of all temples and religious places of erstwhile Cooch Behar State. The DTB granted Rs 3,000 as remuneration for making of the giant idol this year. As he has to take three helpers on daily wage system Chitrakar requested the DTB to pay him Rs 5,000 but it was not sanctioned. The DTB however provides all the materials necessary for making the idol like clay, straw, paint, bamboo, jute threads and wooden planks.


Chitrakar is not from a well-to-do family. He has no farmland for tilling. He has to depend on Rs 1,000 that he gets from the job of night guard at the DTB run Kavirajkhana (Ayurvedic clinic). He also works round the year as an artisan of clay idols on different religious occasions and pujas performed by the DTB. He also makes the clay model of Putana Rakshashi that is a crowd puller at the Raas Mela every year. His son is a student of Class-IX and his daughter reads in Class-III. His wife Saneka knows the magic how to run a family of four with so little income. Chitrakar had left Cooch Behar for Meghalaya to work in a sawmill but he had to come back after his paternal uncle's death to take up the hereditary job. The DTB had asked him to take up the duty and he had to obey, Chitrakar said.


Chitrakar is now very busy. He will have to complete his job before Mahalaya. On the day after Mahalaya he will have do Chakshudaan (painting of eyes). On the next day he will decorate the Devi with ornaments supplied by the DTB. After that he will melt away in the crowd for a year as he did for the past thirteen years. []


Timber haul


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 30: Cooch Behar social forestry division officials led by Mr A Chatterjee (ADFO) and Mr Rahul Mukherjee (Range Officer) seized sawn timber worth Rs 1-lakh from Kaljani, Khapaidanga, Shibjajna Road and Sukdhani near Pundibari during last two days. At Khapaidanga huge quantity of forest timber was being rafted through Kaljani river. ADFO (SF) Mr SK Baroi said legal actions initiated against the persons involved with the illegal trading of forest timber. []

Friday, 28 September 2007

Job seekers lock school council office, ADM breaks lock


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 28: Demanding employment in primary schools a large number of agitated members of All Bengal Primary Teachers' Trainee Association (ABPTTA) locked the office of District Primary School Council in Cooch Behar for an indefinite period today. They locked the main entrance of the DPSC office at about 11 a.m. following their earlier announced plan. The employees of the office even the DPSC chairman failed to enter due to the agitation. Police also appeared there but no untoward incident occurred.


ABPTTA president Mr Bhajan Barman, said, they intimated the DPSC chairman yesterday about their agitation. He said, the ABPTTA is demanding for a long dissolving of cases related to Primary Teachers' Training Institutes (PTTI) running in the High Court and engagement of trained candidates in the primary schools. They are also demanding arranging of examination of 2005-2006 academic session. But the authorities concerned paid no heed to the justified demands of about 75,000 unemployed youths. At last, finding no alternative they decided to halt the functioning of the DPSC office in Cooch Behar by locking it for an indefinite period, Mr Barman said.


When contacted, DPSC chairman Md Nuruddin Mian admitted that he failed to enter his office today. He conveyed the matter to the district magistrate and also to the school education minister Mr Partha Dey. The minister reportedly told him that the locking of the office was not a wise step for the agitators. The chairman said no decision was taken yet to break the lock to open the office. He admitted that the agitators have a cause to ventilate their despair. "We will think over the matter if the locks were there till Monday", the chairman said.


On the otherhand, Cooch Behar ADM (Development) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra broke the locks of the main entrance with police help this afternoon. He said, "The office of the District Project Officer of Sarva Shiksha Mission is on the upper floor of the DPSC office and so I broke the locks to make an entry for the DPO and other staff of SSM." It is a public office and no one has any right to stop functioning of it, the ADM (D) said. []

Job seekers lock school council office


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 28: Demanding employment in primary schools a large number of agitated members of All Bengal Primary Teachers' Trainee Association (ABPTTA) locked the office of District Primary School Council in Cooch Behar for an indefinite period today. They locked the main entrance of the DPSC office at about 11 a.m. following their earlier announced plan. The employees of the office even the DPSC chairman failed to enter due to the agitation. Police also appeared there but no untoward incident occurred.


ABPTTA president Mr Bhajan Barman, said, they intimated the DPSC chairman yesterday about their agitation. He said, the ABPTTA is demanding for a long dissolving of cases related to Primary Teachers' Training Institutes (PTTI) running in the High Court and engagement of trained candidates in the primary schools. They are also demanding arranging of examination of 2005-2006 academic session. But the authorities concerned paid no heed to the justified demands of about 75,000 unemployed youths. At last, finding no alternative they decided to halt the functioning of the DPSC office in Cooch Behar by locking it for an indefinite period, Mr Barman said.


When contacted, DPSC chairman Md Nuruddin Mian admitted that he failed to enter his office today. He conveyed the matter to the district magistrate and also to the school education minister Mr Partha Dey. The minister reportedly told him that the locking of the office was not a wise step for the agitators. The chairman said no decision was taken yet to break the lock to open the office. He admitted that the agitators have a cause to ventilate their despair. "We will think over the matter if the locks were there till Monday", the chairman said. []


PHOTO : Demanding employment unemployed youths agitate by locking the District Primary School Council office. In Cooch Behar on Friday.

Drive to discourage ganja cultivation


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 28: In a bid to combat the growing ganja cultivation in Cooch Behar district an ambitious plan was adopted. Under this plan emphasis is being given not only on drive against ganja trafficking or arrest of offenders but also on methods to discourage the people associated with ganja cultivation. Cooch Behar Excise department officials hope the strategy will bear fruits and no one will like to cultivate ganja from now on.


According to the plan a wide scale campaign started in this district informing the people about the punitive measures. Already 6,000 leaflets were distributed and another 6,000 are going to be distributed. In these leaflets - signed by the district magistrate Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha – it was clearly mentioned that cultivation, production, processing, holding and trading, consuming and interstate movement of ganja is a punishable offence. Under the NDPS Act an offender can attract rigorous imprisonment of 10-years to 20-years and Rs 1-lakh to Rs 2-lakh may be slapped on him as fine. As ganja is a high-powered drug it was banned in India in 1985 like in all other countries. The Cooch Behar DM Mr Sinha appealed to all concerned to co-operate to halt the ganja cultivation to make it a ganja-free district.


The district magistrate already asked all BDOs to launch drives against ganja cultivation. To make the programme successful meetings are being conducted with all concerned officials, panchayat functionaries and members of public at block level asking them for an all out effort to combat the situation. Joint raids with police are also going on. The BSF is also co-operating against the fight against ganja traffickers, excise department sources said.


Mr Rimil Tudu, superintendent of excise, Cooch Behar, said, drive against ganja is going on as a joint effort. Following continuous raids many ganja growers preferred to make no seedbeds for the contraband cultivation this year. It may yield result, he hoped. He mentioned that they seized 300-kilogram processed dry ganja from Bhogdabri village under Sitalkuchi police station in July. It was a record haul, Mr Tudu claimed.


Mr Tapan Roy, additional superintendent of excise, said, drive against ganja trafficking is a round-the-year process. The traffickers smuggle out processed ganja to outer provinces like Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Bihar and also to Bangladesh. There is no fixed selling rate for ganja. It is sold at about Rs 1,000 per kilogram in clandestine market, Mr Roy said.


Sitalkuchi, Dinhata-I and Dinhata-II blocks, some areas in Cooch Behar Sadar sub-division and some chhitmahals (enclaves) are infamous for ganja cultivation. The growers prefer government lands especially the sandbanks of rivers instead of privately owned lands for the cultivation. The cultivators use the sandbanks of Mansai, Singijani, Torsa and Dharala. As these lands have no legal owners it is hard for the excise officials to accuse anyone for ganja cultivation because in the court they cannot ascertain the ownership of a land cultivated by an accused, excise officials said. The situation may be improved once the cultivation of this green vegetation stops, they hoped. []


PHOTO : Devine work - An artisan busy in making idol of Devi Durga in Cooch Behar.



COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: Police arrested a Bangladeshi national, Mizanur Rehman, from Dhaluabari area in Cooch Behar at early hours of today. Police said, a resident of Chandrakhanu village in Kurigram district of Bangladesh, Mizanur crossed the border at Kurshahat in Dinhata and coming towards Cooch Behar to seek a job. []


Lifted car seized


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: Police seized an unclaimed new model motor car bearing a fake Assam registration number from Shibjajna Road in Cooch Behar town today. Examining the car police found that it ran about 500-km only. It is suspected that car lifters stole the vehicle from somewhere and left it on the roadside for unknown reasons. []


Online drive


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: During a drive against online lottery the district enforcement branch officials arrested five persons from different places of Cooch Behar town. DEB sources said such raid would be continued to control the menace of online lotteries. []


Market blaze in Baxirhat


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: A number of shops and houses were gutted in a devastating fire at Baxirhat market in Tufanganj of Cooch Behar last night. Fire fighters from Tufanganj rushed to the spot and doused the blaze in association with locals. The estimated loss was about Rs 10-lakh, according to the secretary of Tufanganj Byabasayee Samiti Mr Robin Bhawal. The pre-puja fire rendered the affected traders almost penniless, he said. []


Peasants' agitation


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: Members of Sara Bharat Samjukta Kisan Sabha (SKS), the peasant wing of RSP, organised rallies and sit-ins at different places in Cooch Behar district today. They also submitted memorandums containing their demands to the SDOs and BDOs concerned. District SKS president Mr Ranajit Deb said they organised the programme demanding declaration of Teesta irrigation project as a National one, bringing six districts of north Bengal under Teesta project and measures to make agriculture profit oriented so that the farmers can get dividends from their produces. []


Demonstration of teachers in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: Cooch Behar district unit of West Bengal Primary Teachers' Association (WBPTA) observed a sit-in programme in front of the office of the Cooch Behar District Primary School Council (DPSC) today. They organised the programme in support of their twenty-one demands.


During the agitation the Cooch Behar district unit secretary of WBPTA Mr Swapan Kumar Ghosh alleged that it is hard for the teachers to join any organisation other than that of ruling party. They have had to attach themselves with the teachers' organisation of the ruling party because there is no alternative for a secured service life. But, ignoring this barrier the WBPTA organised today's programme to protest against anti-teacher policies of Cooch Behar DPSC, he said.


Today, the teachers demonstrated against transfer of junior teachers instead of seniors on political ground, delay in issuance of pension papers from DPSC and engaging of teachers in jobs other than teaching. They also demanded appointment of teachers in the vacant posts in the primary schools, representation of teachers from recognised organisations in functioning of Sarva Shiksha Mission, payment of salary on first day of month, appointment of trained unemployed youths in the vacant posts of teachers, construction of new school buildings and spacious class rooms, extension of drinking water facility to all schools and disbursement of text books at the beginning of each academic session.


District WBPTA president Mr Sudhanshu Dey and secretary Mr Swapan Kumar Ghosh announced that they are preparing to start an intensive teachers' movement in the interest of a better educational scenario in Cooch Behar district. []


Leprosy rate decreasing in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 26: After introduction of multi drug therapy (MDT) in February 1996 replacing the mono-therapy system it was observed that the number of cases of leprosy was reducing in Cooch Behar district. Before MDT the reported number of cases was 2,869 and now it is 231 only. District leprosy officer (DLO) Dr Md Abu Ershad claimed that their target was to bring down the prevalence rate (PR) under one but in January 2005 they achieved 0.05 PR. PR is the number of cases per 10,000 population. Before introduction of MDT it was 13.21, he said.


The DLO, Dr Ershad said they would organise a house-to-house survey at Mekhliganj from 17 November to 3 December. The number of leprosy patients in areas like Changrabandha and Haldibari in Mekhliganj is higher than that of other sub-divisions in this district. During the period an Urban Leprosy Sensitisation and Awareness Campaign (ULSSAC) will be held at Mekhliganj town. Diagnosis and treatment of detected leprosy patients will be done during the programme.


Besides decreasing of leprosy cases, the rate of deformity among the patients is also decreasing. In 2001-2002 the number of identified deformed patients was 27. In 2005-2006 it was six only and this year no case of deformity was reported from anywhere, Dr Ershad claimed.


In a bid to control the cases of leprosy the health department is emphasising on disability prevention and medical rehabilitation. They are organising folk shows and school quiz programmes involving self-help groups, gram panchayat functionaries and members of public. Wall paintings were done at 406 subsidiary health centres and other places. About 30,000 informative leaflets were also distributed in the district.


Dr Ershad, said, they distributed 182 pairs of micro-cellular rubber chappals (foot-wears) among disabled patients. From 2006 they are arranging reconstructive surgery camps for the patients with deformed limbs to make them able by plastic surgery. This year seven patients were operated upon at MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. Dr Ershad believes that early detection and prompt treatment can control the spreading of the disease. One can get drugs from anywhere - subsidiary health centres to district hospital – to fight out the disease, he said. []

Trinamul protest against eviction of traders


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 27: Demanding unconditional release of nine traders and rehabilitation of all the affected traders at the same haat from where they were evicted, the Trinamul Congress organised a sit-in at Tufanganj police station today. The sit-in turned into a sort of blockade due to presence of a large number of people, party sources claimed. They submitted a memorandum to the officer-in-charge of Tufanganj police station. District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh, vice-president Mr Niranjan Dutta and other leaders spoke on the occasion.


Trinamul Congress planned today's agitation to stage protest against the eviction of about nine hundred traders from a haat situated at Uttar Chhatjaigir Chilakhana in Tufanganj and arrest of nine traders.


It may be recalled that the nine men were arrested on 20 September in connection with alleged removal of forty-eight boundary demarcation pillars of the re-acquired land of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. The land was handed over to the school authorities on 25 August. Earlier, a few hundred shops were dismantled by the district administration at the haat controlled by the Tufanganj Regulated Market Committee (RMC) on the morning of 25 August. Those shops were dismantled to clear the area for construction of the proposed JNV school building. The Trinamul Congress and the BJP had observed a bandh on 28 August against the eviction of traders from the haat.


In his address at the gathering today, district Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh announced that they will organise a mass disobedience programme at Tufanganj SDO office on 9 October demanding restoration of the haat. Prior to that, a maha-michhil (massive rally) will be held there. He held the district magistrate of Cooch Behar responsible for the eviction of the traders from the haat and demanded immediate removal of the official from Cooch Behar. Trinamul Congress will intensify its stir after the pujas in the district, he announced. []


Rizwan murder : arrest of cops demanded


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 27: Trinamul Yuva Congress observed a sit-in at Mathabhanga today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They submitted a 10-point charter of demands to the Mathabhanga SDO. District TYC president Mr Shibendra Nath Roy said they demanded arrest of the police officials involved in the alleged murder of Rizwan-ur-Rehman. The CPI-M is trying to cover-up the crime, he alleged.


Addressing the gathering of TYC supporters Mr Roy said the authorities should publicise the details of the proposed construction of Sutunga Bridge at Mathabhanga including the estimated cost, man-days for construction, compensation and rehabilitation to the owners of acquired lands. He also demanded repairing of all the damaged roads in Mathabhanga. Md Alizar Rehman and other TYC leaders too spoke at the gathering.


Timber seized


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 27: During a massive drive against forest plunderers and illegal trading of timber the Cooch Behar social forestry division officials seized Sal and Teak timber worth Rs 2-lakh from different areas in Tufanganj and Baxirhat for the last two days. Mr Rahul Mukherjee (Range Officer) and Md Mansur Ali (Beat Officer) led the operation. ADFO (SF) Mr SK Baroi said legal actions initiated against the persons involved with the illegal trading of forest timber. During the raids a few persons escaped to evade arrest, he said. []

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Airport in dark


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 25: The Union minister of state for civil aviation Mr Praful Patel said in Kolkata on Sunday that "the airport in Cooch Behar is almost ready and will be inaugurated next month". But the district administration in Cooch Behar is still in dark. When asked, a senior official said, they are yet to get any information about inauguration of the renovated Cooch Behar Airport or resumption of air service from this airport. []


GCDP to start another fast-unto-death programme

COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 25: Recalling the memory of 20 September 2005 the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) is going to organise a fast-unto-death programme once again to get their demands fulfilled. On that day three policemen including an ASP and two supporters of The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) had to die following large-scale violence in Cooch Behar. This time the GCDP will try to maintain peace ignoring all provocations during the fast-unto-death programme. The schedule of the programme will be finalised in October in a meeting of the GCDP leadership.


Yesterday, a large number of GCDP supporters participated in a token hunger strike for six hours at Shahid Baag in Cooch Behar. Seeing the response the GCDP president Mr Ashutosh Barma said today that they are going to start a fast-unto-death programme within a month. The date of commencement of the stir will be decided in October.


Mr Barma said they never backtracked from their demand for implementation of the merger treaty by which Cooch Behar State was merged with Union of India. "Since the formation of the GCPA we are fighting for it and still we are fighting under the GCDP banner", he said. Referring yesterday's hunger strike Mr Barma declared that they are ready to continue their movement for years to achieve success.


The GCDP president declared that they already selected candidates to field in the next three-tier panchayat elections. Their candidates will wrest in about nine hundred Gram Panchayat seats. They will also field candidates in Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad seats. During their campaign they will give emphasis on implementation of the merger agreement, Mr Barma said. Clarifying the demand Mr Barma said that the formation of a separate state was in the merger agreement and so demanding of a separate state is not very important always. He said that they have no choice of a particular name for the proposed state. It may be Kamtapur or Cooch Behar.


The GCDP president said that they have no enmity with CPI-M, Forward Bloc or any other political party and so they will not target CPI-M or any other party during electioneering. "Achieving of the goal is the main target of GCDP", Mr Barma said.


Welcoming the GCDP's plan to participate in the elections and field candidates in the panchayat elections, the Cooch Behar Left Front convener and also the CPI-M secretary, Mr Chandi Pal said, "There are many parties and we are ready to accept another party in the democratic system". He suggested that the GCDP should shun the path of violence and secessionism. They should adopt the democratic system.


At the same time Mr Pal said, "We know that the Kamtapuris are still keeping relations with militant outfits like ULFA, KLO, Maoists and Jharkhandis. If they want to join democratic system they should cut off their relations with those outfits, otherwise we will have to believe that they are trying to do something following a hidden plan." "The CPI-M knows the past activities of the Kamtapuris and so we cannot believe in their openly declared policies easily", Mr Pal said. []

Sunday, 23 September 2007

State forest minister Mr Ananta Roy addresses at the open session of Cooch Behar district conference of Pashchimbanga Non-gazetted Police Karmochari Samiti. At Police Lines in Cooch Behar on Sunday.  

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Navodaya school controversy, nine arrested


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 20: Agitated members of Haat Sangram Committee staged demonstrations in front of Tufanganj SDO office and Tufanganj police station today. They were protesting against the arrest of nine traders. They demanded unconditional release of the arrested persons. Later, the agitators dispersed away peacefully. No untoward incident occurred during the demonstrations, according to the Tufanganj OC, Mr Sanjay Dutta.


Police said, the nine men were arrested last night in connection with forcible removal of forty-eight boundary demarcation pillars of the re-acquired land of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. The land was handed over to the school authorities on 25 August. It may be recalled that a few hundred shops were dismantled by the district administration at the haat controlled by the Tufanganj Regulated Market Committee (RMC) on the morning of 25 August. The shops were dismantled to clear the area for construction of the proposed building of the school.


The Trinamul Congress and BJP had called a bandh on 28 August against the eviction of traders from the haat situated at Uttar Chhatjaigir Chilakhana in Tufanganj. Both the BJP and the Trinamul Congress held CPI-M responsible for the eviction drive. Denying the allegation the CPI-M leadership had said that the government took over its own land for construction of the school building. It may be recalled that state education minister Mr Kanti Biswas had inaugurated the functioning of the JNV in Tufanganj on 27 February last year.


The fencing work of boundary of the land (that was handed over to the school authority) was started yesterday under strict police vigil at Tufanganj Kalibari area on the evacuated market place of RMC. Principal of the school Mr DN Singh, Tufanganj-I BDO and others were present at the beginning of the work. Seeing the starting of fencing work the members of the Haat Sangram Committee began protesting but no untoward incident occurred at that time. Later, forty-eight demarcation pillars were damaged at night and nine persons were arrested in connection with that incident.


Condemning the eviction drive and the arrest of nine persons the district BJP president Mr Nityananda Munsi said, "We are not ready to accept the atrocity done on the poor traders in the name of acquisition of land for a school". []


Forward Bloc's agitation


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 20: Cooch Behar MP (Lok Sabha) Mr Hiten Barman, Cooch Behar (West) MLA Mr Akshoy Thakur and Cooch Behar (North) MLA Mr Dipak Sarkar sanctioned Rs 76-lakh, Rs 18-lakh and Rs 20-lakh respectively for improvement of rural electrification in Cooch Behar district but nothing happened yet. Demanding an end of the tangle a large number of Forward Bloc supporters assembled in Cooch Behar town today and staged demonstration at the office of the divisional engineer of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL).


Mr Hiten Barman, Mr Akshoy Thakur, Mr Dipak Sarkar and All India Youth League's Cooch Behar district unit president Md Abdur Rauf spoke on the occasion at the gathering.


Forward Bloc leader Mr Akshoy Thakur alleged that the MP and two MLAs had sanctioned a large amount of money from their local area development funds but the WBSEDCL authorities are claiming fifteen percent of the allotted money as supervision charge. This demand created a complexity and following that the proposed rural electrification programme is suffering. He demanded immediate commencement of work by drawing an end to the tangle.


Cooch Behar (West) MLA, Mr Thakur also said that 225 districts in the country including Cooch Behar were brought under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bidyut Yojana. But the local authorities are now saying that the work may start after 2008. It is not proper. Why Cooch Behar be deprived from the scheme, he questioned. He warned that the Forward Bloc would not tolerate the matter if the authorities fail to take any initiative within seven days.


District AIYL president Md Abdur Rauf demanded cost free supply of power for the rural farmers to run irrigation facilities. All the speakers condemned the WBSEDCL authorities for regular power cuts especially prior to the festive season in Cooch Behar.


After the demonstration the FB leaders submitted a memorandum containing a six-point charter of demands to the divisional engineer, Cooch Behar, Mr MN Dey. The DE assured them that he would convey the demands to the higher authorities for an early settlement. []  

Body found


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 20: Cooch Behar Kotowali Police recovered the body of one Tapan Barua (52) from Sagardighi this noon. As Sagardighi is situated at the centre of the town and surrounded by many offices and courts, a large number of curious locals assembled there. Police said the man was a local resident and he may have drowned last night accidentally during bathing. The body was sent for post-mortem. []

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

More Bangladeshi nationals held


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 19: Cooch Behar Kotowali Police arrested fifteen Bangladeshi nationals for illegal entry into India without any valid documents. They were found waiting in front of the gate of Cooch Behar Palace last night. There are nine women and six children among the arrested persons. Police said they crossed the Indo-Bangladesh border at Controler-hat area in Dinhata. They came to Cooch Behar on their way to New Cooch Behar railway station from where they were to catch a Delhi bound train.


Yesterday, nine Bangladeshi nationals were nabbed from near the International border in Dinhata. They crossed the border at Karala and Boskotal areas. Boarding a minibus when they were going towards Dinhata the BSF jawans intercepted the vehicle at Natkobari and nabbed them. Later they were handed over to police.


It may be mentioned here that twenty-two Bangladeshi nationals including three middlemen were arrested from Cooch Behar on Monday. They had sneaked into India crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border at Kurshahat in Dinhata. They were also on their way to New Cooch Behar railway station with an intention to catch a Delhi bound train.


The rise of infiltration raised some questions from different quarters. Who are the men that are sending the Bangladeshis to Delhi promising jobs? Who are behind the human-trafficking racket? Why they selected the International border in Dinhata for their illegal activity? There is barbed wire fencing along the border and the BSF jawans are on duty round-the-clock, then how the people dare to cross the border to enter into Indian soil? Is the border so porous?


Secretary of Cooch Behar district unit of BJP, Mr Nikhil Dey said the BSF are reportedly busy in raising the height of the barbed wire fencing along the border. For that job the border is now open but there should be enough vigil to check infiltration, he opined. He said, they conveyed the matter to the state general secretary Mr Rahul Sinha. Mr Sinha told them that he would convey it to the party's National leadership so that they can discuss it with the Union home ministry, Mr Dey said.


The district magistrate of Cooch Behar, Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha too expressed his concern over the rise of infiltration. He said he would discuss the matter with BSF authorities to stop the illegal infiltration. []

River erosion at Balabhut


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 19: Fresh river-erosion is worsening the situation of Balabhut area in Tufanganj sub-division. Union of five rivers – Torsa, Raidak-I, Kaljani, Ghargharia and Gadadhar – is gobbling up agricultural land and homesteads in the area. About twenty dwelling houses were eroded away by the rivers during the ongoing monsoon. The rivers grabbed about 900-bighas of farmland too this year. The entire Burirjhar village is under threat of Kaljani. The members of about forty families of this area are spending sleepless nights fearing fresh erosion.


Locals of Balabhut alleged that the whole area might be washed out if the erosion of Kaljani continues unabated. They demanded construction of an embankment to save their lives and properties several times but to no avail. Many are now preparing to leave for other areas to live. Already some left for outer provinces, said a villager.


Balabhut is an erosion prone area and absence of an embankment is making the situation worse. A large cultivable area is covered by sand because of yearly floods. When contacted, Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sources said, a plan is under consideration to resist the river erosion at Balabhut to save the lives and properties of the locals. Construction of an embankment in that area may start after the monsoon, a CZP official said. []


Self help policy


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 19: Villagers of Falimari in Baxirhat started building up an embankment as a voluntary effort from yesterday. The village is under threat of erosion of Sankosh river. There was an embankment at South Falimari but that was eroded away this year during the floods. The villagers came up erecting the embankment on their own initiative at Uttar Falimari to save the local high school, Gram Panchayat office and residences of the village as the authorities took no steps though they had pointed out the problem several times. []


Husband arrested


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 19: Baxirhat Police arrested three persons yesterday for atrocities done on a housewife. Police said Mrs Anita Sarkar lodged a complaint against her husband Dipak Sarkar and other in-laws stating that she was undergoing torture in her in-laws' house since her marriage demanding more money as dowry. Her poor father gave a dowry of Rs 15,000 at the time of her marriage about two years ago. At last, failing to bear the torture she lodged a complaint on Monday. Following that complaint her husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were arrested yesterday. []

Friday, 14 September 2007

Vehicle seized, 3 arrested


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 14: Baxirhat Police seized a Bolero car bearing registration number of Malda and seized three persons from the vehicle last night. They are residents of Arah of Bhojpur in Bihar. During interrogation the arrested trio confessed their crime and told the police that they were acting as carriers of a car lifter gang. They were entrusted to pass the stolen car from Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border to Assam through Baxirhat in Cooch Behar district. Police initiated a case against them.    


It may be mentioned here that Baxirhat Police had seized a number of stolen motor vehicles and arrested several persons from the West Bengal-Assam border area during the last two years. New model cars of various makes are of great demand in the clandestine market in northeast states and so the car lifter gangs prefer to use this route to traffic out the stolen vehicles. Following heavy police action the crime was reduced recently but the criminals started their operation once again, police said. []

GCDP men bailed out


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 14: Twenty-one supporters of Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) were released on bail from the court of district and sessions judge of Cooch Behar today. They were arrested in connection with a bandh that was called by Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF) on 27 June. As GCDP is a constituent of the GKUF, its supporters came out to make the bandh successful on that day. Police arrested them in connection with damaging a NBSTC bus at Putimari area on the outskirts of Dinhata town.


Since their arrest the GCDP started a movement demanding unconditional release of their supporters. A GKUF sponsored bandh was also held in north Bengal on 6 July. They also organised rallies and submitted memorandums to the district magistrate of Cooch Behar on several times terming the arrest as an undemocratic move to suppress their movement for proper implementation of the merger agreement by which erstwhile Cooch Behar State was merged into the Union of India.


At last, today, in the court of district and sessions judge the judge-in-charge Mr KK Koomai granted bail to the twenty-one GCDP supporters who were in judicial custody since their arrest, said their lawyer Mr Shibendra Nath Roy. Mr Shasibhusan Barman was also among the released ones. He is the elder brother of The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) chief Mr Bangshi Badan Barman. []


PHOTO : As the Viswakarma puja on the corner an artisan puts finishing touches to clay idols of Lord Viswakarma.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Christians in problem over burial ground near airport

COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 12: The move to resume air service from Cooch Behar Airport brought some problems for the Christian community in Cooch Behar.


On 8 August 1885, the then ruler of Cooch Behar State, Maharaja Nripendra Narayan approved a plot of land adjacent to Cooch Behar Airport to use as burial ground for the Christian employees of his kingdom to bury the dead-bodies. The ground was under the possession of British Council during the British period. In 1898 the Swedish Mission was formed at Cooch Behar, which was later renamed as Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC). After Independence of India the Indian Christians took over the possession of the NEL Church in Cooch Behar, according to Reverend James Prashata Paul. Rev Paul is the in-charge of Cooch Behar NELC.


Cooch Behar Airport started functioning in 1942. The burial ground was also open for burying of dead bodies of Christians without any restriction. When renovation of the airport started in 1995 the Cooch Behar Airport authority constructed a boundary wall with an iron gate and a separate entrance for using the burial ground by informing the Cooch Behar NELC authority. The NELC was promised of getting the gate opened as and when required for cleaning of the premises and burying of dead-bodies and also for lighting the ground with candles during Good Friday, Rev Paul said.


Secretary of NELC Burial Ground Committee, Mr Tridip Paul said since starting of the renovation of the airport in 1995 two dead-bodies have been buried there without any problem by informing the local airport authority. About 300 bodies of Christians were buried in the burial ground since its establishment. It is a holy, historical and memorable place for the Christian community of Cooch Behar, Mr Paul said.


President of the NELC-BG Committee, Rev Sujit Adhikary alleged that since 15 August of this year the airport authorities kept the burial ground under lock and key. It is now a problem to use the burial ground if needed for according to the custom of Christianity, he said.


The district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha, said, the existing entrance was closed for security reasons. An alternative approach road and a bridge over the Mara-Torsa may be constructed for exclusive use of the members of Christian community for going to the burial ground. It will be a better alternative because during any emergent situation at the airport the roads towards the airport may be closed down. In that time the Christians will have to face no problem to go to the burial ground through the proposed new way.


Mr Paul said it would be a problem for them to enter the burial ground with a body by crossing about 5-kilomere from the NEL Church compound after funeral service through Chakchaka. It is hard for a poor man to afford the expenses. The DM, Mr Sinha however denied that it would be difficult for anyone to go the burial ground by crossing an additional 3-kilometre. If they come with a body from Tufanganj what will happen, the DM questioned. He opined that a separate road would be the better alternative to accept.


The NELC Burial Ground Committee is not ready to accept the proposal. They are demanding use of the entrance as they were using since 1885. They also proposed that they be permitted to enter the burial ground barring the time of landing and take-off of any aircraft. A separate boundary wall and a separate way may be constructed for the purpose, they argued. They conveyed the matter to the Airport Authority of India and the Union civil aviation minister too. []


Ganja seized


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 12: Police seized 30-kilogram dry ganja and arrested one person from Sitai Morh in Cooch Behar today. The arrested man was coming towards Cooch Behar via Mathabhanga from Sitalkuchi by bus. Acting on a tip-off police arrested him from Sitai Morh area. []

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

River erosion deteriorates in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 11: Following receding of water levels of the rivers the erosion problem is getting worse in different areas in Cooch Behar district. Admitting the menace the administrative officials said that commencement of anti-erosion work is not possible at this moment. They however maintained that in a few cases only anti-erosion work was initiated as an emergency move.


During the ongoing monsoon heavy downpour occurred at the upper catchment areas on Bhutan Hills and also on the plains. This inflated the hilly rivers. A number of embankments were breached and floodwater entered into the villages. A large number of people are still in the relief camps. It is a problem for many to get back to their dwelling houses because the floods rendered them homeless.


Rivers like Torsa, Teesta, Kaljani, Mansai, Sankosh, Gadadhar, Sutunga, Dharla, Singijani and others are responsible for widespread erosion in Cooch Behar district. The rivers have gobbled up vast areas of farmland, dwelling houses and trees in Gitaldaha, Dawaguri, Kuchlibari, Khapaidanga, Jatrapur, Maruganj and other villages. Many panic stricken residents are fleeing from their villages with dismantled houses and trees cut down to pieces.


In Mekhliganj, erosion of the Teesta caused panic at Kuchlibari, Tista-payosthi, Hussener-tari and other villages. The Singijani too grasped a large area of cultivable land at Gitaldaha in Dinhata. The Torsa is playing a disastrous role in villages like Dawaguri, Jatrapur, Madhupur, Takagachh, Rajarhat, and Kaminirghat. The river erosion has grabbed a large area of cultivation in these villages. Erosion of the Kaljani and the Gadadhar too unleashed a reign of terror at Bhuchungmari, Bhairaber-tari, Panisala, Balabhut, Balarampur, Nakkatigachh, Chilakhana and adjoining villages. The Sutunga and the Mansai rivers have grabbed vast areas of farmland in Mathabhanga.


In Alipurduar subdivision of Jalpaiguri, erosion caused by the Dudua river damaged the Dhupguri-Falakata road. Three lorries loaded with goods overturned on this road yesterday. In Dhanirampur Gram Panchayat area of Falakata the Koli river is approaching towards Sarugaon-Shisabari road. Erosion of the Dudua started at Promodnagar and Notahara under Guwabarnagar Gram Panchayat area. This river already grabbed a large area of cultivation at Karjipara and Jhar-Salbari villages. Collapsing of many dwelling houses made a large section of people homeless in this region during the past few days. []   

Quest programme held


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 11: Lions Club of Cooch Behar Greater (LCCG) organised a workshop named "Quest" on the problems of teenaged boys and girls in their adolescence period at Cooch Behar today. Students of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan High School and Kendriya Vidyalaya participated in the programme. The chairperson of Quest programme Mr Jitendra Mittal was the chief speaker. Mr Ranesh Roy Talukdar and other LCCG members attended the programme.


The programme was organised in a bid to help the school students from the problems of adolescence. DC (Public Relations) of LCCG, Mrs Dipanwita Roy said that they organised the programme to help the teenagers. In this changing social system the teenagers are suffering from various stress related problems. They have to cope with the competitive world surrounding them. Uncertainty and pessimistic thoughts are pushing them to the dark, and many of them taking up drugs to evade from the real world. The Quest programme was chalked out to extend a helping hand to them to grow up with a positive attitude, Mrs Roy said. []


'Greater' case hearing


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 11: The district and sessions judge, Cooch Behar, Ms Anindita Roy Saraswati today heard a petition filed on behalf of The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association. Rejecting the petition she ordered 27 November as the next date of hearing. The court was held inside Cooch Behar District Correctional Home today. Fifty-five accused GCPA men were produced at the court.


The lawyer of GCPA, Mr Shibendra Nath Roy said that three cases were running at the court against GCPA men. Two policemen were killed on 20 September 2005 at Chakchaka and an ASP was also murdered at the same venue on that date. Hearing of the first case was started on 3 July of this year. Hearing of the second case is yet to start. Mr Roy said they appealed to the court to arrange hearing of these two cases jointly and framing of charges too jointly because the two incidents were occurred at the same venue and at the same time. Hearing the arguments the judge has rejected the petition and fixed 27 November as the next date of hearing, Mr Roy said. []

Monday, 10 September 2007

Trinamul meets Div Commissioner over tea issue


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 10: When Trinamul Congress chief Miss Mamata Bannerjee is busy in meeting with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, the members of the party's North Bengal Core Committee (NBCC) met the Divisional Commissioner Mr BL Meena at Jalpaiguri today. The issue is similar – problems of closed tea gardens.


NBCC chairman Mr Gautam Deb said they had submitted a memorandum to the Jalpaiguri DC demanding measures to reopen fourteen closed tea gardens. In that memorandum they mentioned that the jobless workers were dieing of starvation. Many are suffering from financial crisis. Lack of drinking water, power and food is making their lives miserable.  In the memorandum they had urged the DC to arrange food for the jobless workers, inclusion of their names in the BPL list and providing of jobs under 100-day job guarantee scheme. They allowed the DC a period upto 31 August for implementation of the demands, Mr Deb said.


Today, Mr Deb and senior leaders like Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh, Mr Pratul Chakraborty, Mr Chandan Bhaumik, Mr Kalyan Chakraborty, Mr Mridul Mukherjee, Mr Santosh Mukherjee, Mr Khageswar Ray and Mr Dipak Shil met the DC and asked about the progress of their demands. Mr Meena reportedly told them that he conveyed the demands to the authorities concerned and took several measures with about Rs 8-crore that may benefit about 15,000 tea workers, Mr Deb said. Supply of water and power was resumed in some areas. Health check-up facility and midday meal scheme were also launched in many areas, the DC told them. The Trinamul leaders appealed the DC to take up the issue with top priority.


NBCC chairman Mr Gautam Deb said Miss Bannerjee requested the PM to take an initiative to reopen the closed tea gardens. He also said that a high-power NABARD team is to visit the tea gardens of Dooars to identify the problems the workers are suffering from. It may be mentioned here that Miss Bannerjee too visited some tea gardens recently.


NBCC member and the party's Cooch Behar district unit president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said they would organise a sit-in of tea workers at Siliguri on 22-24 September. On 1 October another sit-in programme will be held at the foot of Gandhiji's statue and in front of Tea Board office in Kolkata. If the government fails to take any positive action they will go to Delhi with the jobless tea workers for a sit-in in front of the office of the Prime Minister, Mr Ghosh said. []

Tea union demands more bonus


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 10: On the eve of the festive season the UTUC affiliated Dooars Cha-Bagan Workers' Union declared that they will not accept bonus lesser than yesteryear. At the council meeting of DCBWU that was held at Alipurduar they demanded that the price of tea in the market is good enough and it was evident from the price rate that was found during auctioneering. In this perspective the owners of the tea gardens should increase the rate of bonus this year.


State UTUC secretary Mr Ashok Ghosh, Jalpaiguri district RSP secretary Mr Rana Sen, Alipurduar MP Mr Joachim Buxla, Ms Kumari Kujur (MLA), Mr Nirmal Das (MLA), Mr Hiralal Lakra, Mr Phillip Khalko and other senior leaders, attended the DCBWU meeting.


At the meeting the leaders mentioned that the government had declared that it would take over tea estates if the owners concerned fail to reopen the closed and abandoned tea gardens by 31 August. But 17 tea gardens are still lying closed. The DCBWU leaders demanded implementation of the government plan to straight up the things.


Jalpaiguri district RSP secretary Mr Rana Sen said, they would organise a massive movement demanding solving of the problems the workers of closed tea gardens suffering from. The movement will be organised after resolving of the bonus issue. The proposed stir would be raised upto state and Central level, he declared. If necessary they will call a bandh in north Bengal to highlight the problems of the tea workers, Mr Sen said.


Jalpaiguri district UTUC secretary Mr Nirmal Das said the government is not doing anything for the interest of the poor tea workers. The much-publicised financial aid package was declared for the owners of the tea estates only. "We demand similar package for the workers' benefit", he said. []

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Villagers express sigh of relief as the floodwater of Kaljani river is recedes   back to the river at Deocharai village in Tufanganj of Cooch Behar district in West Bengal, on Sunday.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Flood situation in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Sept. 8: The flood situation in Cooch Behar district is yet to be improved though water levels of some rivers started receding. An elderly woman, Bachchani Beoya (77), was floated away by the floodwater of Singijani river in Okrabari in Dinhata this morning.


The Kaljani, the Torsa and the Ghargharia are jointly playing a disastrous role at Bakshikuthi and Bhairaberkuthi villages in Tufanganj. About 3,000-acre cultivable land was damaged in the floodwater. Many dwelling houses in this area are submerged. In Amlaguri of Chilakhana a vast area of vegetable cultivation was destroyed by overflowed Kaljani river.


A 55-metre stretch of embankment at Kapalipara in Khapaidanga was washed away. Another one is also in danger. Villages like Aryapara, Bhuchungmari, Deuripara are under water. In Hapalmara of Natabari the Gadadhar breached a 150-metre embankment. The Raidak-I damaged a 75-metre stretch of embankment at Nakkatigachh. It was constructed only in last year with Rs 2.5-lakh. Villages like Langalgram, Dhanmatia and Debagram are also lying under water. In Tufanganj town some Wards became waterlogged.


In Baxirhat the Raidak, Gangadhar and Sankosh are playing havoc at Falimari Gram Panchayat area. Panchanipara is now disconnected from other villages. The situation of Gedarpar and Chhoto Laukuthi are also similar. In Cooch Behar-II block, numerous houses were marooned at waterlogged Chapaguri, Ichhamari and Ambari villages.


In Mathabhanga the floodwater entered in the town. Nayarhat, Kedarerhat and Hazrahat are now under water. In Mekhliganj, the breached embankment of the Teesta flooded Nijtaraf and other villages in Kuchlibari. Many people are standing under the sky being rendered homeless.


Fresh river erosion started at Kanibari, Soladanga, Balarampur, Sareyarpar and Dhakeapara in Maruganj.


Lack of drinking water added injury to the affected persons during the present flood situation in Cooch Behar district. As fishes washed away from ponds in the flood affected areas the people engaged in pisciculture are facing problems. []