Wednesday, 31 October 2007

3 buses damaged, 388 held in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 31: Barring some stray incidents the Trinamul Congress sponsored bandh passed off almost peacefully in Cooch Behar district today. Functioning of government offices, courts and banks were affected due to poor attendance. Passenger vehicles excepting some NBSTC buses were off the roads. Shops and other establishments were found closed in this town. In the sub-divisional towns the bandh evoked a mixed response. 388 pro-bandh men including senior Trinamul leaders – Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh, Md Abdul Jalil Ahmed, Mr Niranjan Dutta and Mr Tapan Deb Roy - were arrested during the day. Trinamul leaders however claimed that more than 1100 of their supporters were arrested.


Bandh supporters damaged two NBSTC buses in Cooch Behar town. A driver and two others were injured in stones pelted by the bandh supporters. Police arrested 168 persons at Ghoksadanga where six persons were injured in a clash occurred between Trinamul and CPI-M men. Four were injured in a clash at Nazirhat in Dinhata. []


PHOTO : Trinamul supporters being arrested in front of Cooch Behar Sadar SDO office on Wednesday.


Village under threat of river erosion


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 31: Existence of Kodaldhowa village under Nishiganj-I Gram Panchayat in Mathabhanga is under threat due to massive erosion of Mansai and Dharala rivers. Villagers demanded immediate construction of an embankment to save their lives and properties.


Dharala and Mansai rivers are grabbing farmland and homesteads of villagers in Kodaldhowa for the past few years. Now, these two rivers approached closer to the village. It is feared that the entire village may wash out if the two rivers unite once. As the residents are mainly dependent on agriculture the farmlands are their lone source of earning. The erosion of the two rivers is posing threat to the livelihood of the villagers.


It was learnt that there are about 1300 voters in Kodaldhowa village. They expect the authorities may take an initiative to construct an embankment before the next three-tier panchayat elections. Nishiganj-I Gram Panchayat sources said they already submitted a proposal to the higher authorities for construction of an embankment. []


BJP demands probe


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 31: Submitting a memorandum to the state Governor through the district magistrate today the Cooch Behar district unit of BJP demanded a thorough probe into the death of Subhas Patoari who was allegedly killed in police lathicharge on 27 October in Baxirhat. On that day violence occurred there during demonstration of villagers against alleged practice of corruption of two local MR dealers.


District BJP president Mr Nityananda Munsi said in the memorandum they also demanded Rs 5-lakh as compensation to the family members of Patoari and unconditional release of all arrested persons by lifting all cases initiated against them. He also demanded steps against corrupted modified ration dealers. []

Monday, 29 October 2007

Foes turn friends


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: Drawing an end to their enmity in Cooch Behar district the Forward Bloc will participate in all programmes and movements with the CPI-M from now on.


Following a decision adopted at the state level a meeting of District Left Front was held today and both the parties decided to work jointly, according to Cooch Behar (North) MLA and a also state committee member of Forward Bloc, Mr Dipak Sarkar.


Losing two seats in the last Assembly election in Cooch Behar – Dinhata and Sitai - the Forward Bloc had declared that they would not participate in any programme of Left Front with the CPI-M in Cooch Behar district. They held the CPI-M responsible for the defeats. After demise of the heavyweight FB leader Kamal Guha both the parties were trying to come closer. At last they agreed to delete the divisive line.


District CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal, Cooch Behar MP (Rajya Sabha) Mr Tarini Roy, state FB member Mr Udayan Guha, Cooch Behar MP (Lok Sabha) Mr Hiten Barman and others were present at today's Left Front meeting. []

Trinamul roadblock


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: Trinamul Congress observed one-hour roadblock programme at different parts in Cooch Behar district today, from 11 a.m. to 12-noon. District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said they organised the programme to protest against the attack on their leader Miss Mamata Banerjee, faulty rationing system and arrest of corrupt MR dealers. []

CPM-Trinamul clash, bandh in Sitalkuchi


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: The bandh separately called by the CPI-M and the Trinamul Congress in Sitalkuchi of Cooch Behar today passed off peacefully. Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar said no untoward incident occurred during the bandh today. Police pickets are there to maintain peace, the SP said. Both the parties claimed the bandh as successful.


It may be mentioned here that violent clash occurred between Trinamul Congress and CPI-M supporters at Sarkarer-haat of Khalisamari in Sitalkuchi of Mathabhanga sub-division on yesterday evening. About 30 persons were injured during the clash.


CPI-M supporters had taken out a rally yesterday against tomorrow's SUCI sponsored bandh and asking people to make their zonal conference successful. Trinamul Congress supporters too took out a rally there demanding arrest of corrupted ration dealers. Mr Harish Barman, Sitalkuchi MLA and also CPI-M's Cooch Behar district secretariat member, alleged that Trinamul men pelted stones to their office and ransacked it. On the otherhand, district Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh alleged that when their supporters took out the procession demanding steps against corrupt ration dealers the CPI-M supporters attacked them.


Last night, eight injured CPI-M supporters were admitted to Sitalkuchi hospital while four injured Trinamul Congress supporters were shifted to Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospital. Following the incident, CPI-M called a 12-hour bandh and Trinamul Congress too called a 24-hour bandh in Sitalkuchi today. []


"Greater" starts poll campaign


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) organised cultural programmes at different blocks in Cooch Behar on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the 106-th birth anniversary of legendary Bhawaiya artiste Abbasuddin. During the cultural programmes they also campaigned asking people to get prepared for the ensuing three-tier panchayat elections, GCDP president Mr Ashutosh Barma said.


Yesterday, at Gosanimari in Dinhata the GCDP held a gathering where the speakers reiterated their demand for proper implementation of the merger agreement that was penned before merger of erstwhile Cooch Behar State with Union of India. They also demanded Constitutional recognition of Kamtapuri language of the Rajbanshis. Mr Barma said through the two-day programme they initiated their campaign for the ensuing three-tier panchayat polls. The executive committee of the GCDP will meet soon to decide the proposed fast-unto-death programme, he said. []

3 KLO activists in police net, arms seized


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: Police arrested three persons, suspected to be hardcore KLO militants, from Muraripatti in Baxirhat of Cooch Behar at around 8-30 p.m. last night. The lonely ground is near Chhotoguma market of Assam and close to West Bengal-Assam border.


The arrested were identified as Mahesh Singh of Naxalbari in Darjeeling district, Ranjit Roy alias Gobinda Rava and Biplab Roy of Falakata in Jalpaiguri district.


Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar said that acting on a tip-off the officer-in-charge of Baxirhat police station raided the area with a large contingent of police force and arrested the three. There were about fifteen men but the remaining ones managed to escape. A 9-mm pistol, 8-round of ammunitions, a map and some documents were seized from the arrested.


During interrogation the three men disclosed that they were eight in number and they were conducting a meeting at the place. They also said that they came to meet some persons but there was no plan of militant operation, the SP said.


Among the arrested three, Mahesh Singh is connected with some earlier cases. Police had got his name several times during interrogation of KLO activists who were nabbed earlier. He had reportedly recruited many youths for training in KLO camps in Bhutan. Though he was wanted in many cases this is the first time the police arrested him.


Ranjit Roy was in the fourth batch of KLO militants who received arms training in Bhutan in 2001. He was arrested on earlier occasions too in Jalpaiguri district. Getting out on bail he had jumped out to Bangladesh. The seized pistol and ammunitions were in his possession.


            The SP said it is yet not clear whether the group was trying to cross over to Bangladesh or Assam. From where they came is also yet to be ascertained. When the police challenged them some members of the group fled away towards Assam and some sneaked into this side of the border. All the police stations in Assam and West Bengal adjacent to the Asam-Bengal border were alerted, the SP declared.


Mr Kumar also said that they are not winding up the possibility of the groups connection with the blazing of a passenger bus in Golokganj of Assam on 27-28 October night. They may have a connection with the Biswajit Roy faction of AAKRSU in Assam. There are reasons to believe that the KLO activists are trying to reorganise their outfit and are recruiting new ones with active co-operation of AAKRASU. Mentionworthy, AAKRASU is fighting for a separate Kamtapur state. 13 men including Biswajit Roy were arrested in Assam following the blazing of the bus.


The Cooch Behar SP Mr Kumar disclosed that the map seized from the arrested KLO men is a map containing parts of Assam and West Bengal. It may be the map of their proposed Kamtapur state, he opined. Further interrogation may reveal the actual motive of their assembling at the place near the state border, the SP hopes. []

The suffering health system of Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 29: Tele-medicine and Pay Clinic facilities were introduced at Maharaja Jitendra Narayan Hospital in Cooch Behar with much fanfare. But these two units are now on the verge of extinction.


Tele-medicine facility was introduced at MJN Hospital in 2004. At the inauguration ceremony health department officials had promised of offering a new horizon in availing of medical service facility at a far away district like Cooch Behar. Treating of skin diseases were initiated at the beginning. School of Tropical Medicine was linked with this unit. But the Tele-medicine facility was never found running well. It was still a crippled unit as it was during its earlier days.


When inquired about the present situation of the Tele-medicine facility, Dr Sunil Kumar Shil, chief medical officer of health, Cooch Behar, admitted that the unit was not functioning satisfactorily. Cases are not coming and so the unit is lying almost useless. "We are now considering of providing a larger space for the unit to make it an useful one", he said.


The much-publicised Pay Clinic facility is also suffering. It was introduced at MJN Hospital in 2002. The plan behind the facility was to offer services of selected doctors to the patients who prefer them. At the Pay Clinic they were to pay Rs 40 only as visit to a doctor of their choice where the same doctor takes double or triple of the amount at other chambers. The unit is now a defunct one.


The CMOH Dr Shil opined that to make the Pay Clinic unit successful the help of the non-practicing doctors should have to be taken. The clinic was to be made attractive as private chambers. In Cooch Behar the Pay Clinic was introduced with practising doctors who are available in outer chambers too. One can consult them at those chambers at any appointed time. In this perspective the Pay Clinic facility cannot run successfully, he opined.


Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati and also the chairman of District Health and Family Welfare Samiti, said they are trying to resume the services at the Tele-medicine and Pay Clinic units afresh. These units were introduced to offer medical services for special cases. The DHFWS will review all aspects of these units before adopting a decision. These should function again, he opined.


Another ten-bedded unit named Sick Newborn Care Unit (CNCU) was introduced at MJN Hospital a few months ago. The aim behind setting up of this unit was to check deaths of newborns (0-7 days). The response for this facility is good and the unit is also functioning well but it is too early to say anything about its success, the CMOH opined. []

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Alarming health scenario in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 28: Government hospitals and health centres in Cooch Behar are suffering from shortage of doctors, nurses and other health workers. Though the situation is gloomy there is no visible silver line at this moment.


Among sanctioned 194 posts of doctors sixty-four are lying vacant at different hospitals and health centres. It is very difficult to run the healthcare facilities with so much vacant posts of doctors. Not only doctors, number of health assistants is also very low in this district. In 351 sanctioned posts of male health assistants 176 are vacant and 12 in 406 female health assistants are also vacant. There are sixty-four clerical staffs only in 111 posts. Health officials admitted that it is hard to run the hospitals and health centres properly with so much vacant posts.


Dr Sunil Kumar Shil, chief medical officer of health, Cooch Behar, said that beside doctors and nurses a large number of posts of Group-D personnel too lying vacant for a long. "We are conveying the situation to our higher authorities regularly but nothing happened till now", he said.


There was a plan to upgrade twelve block level health centres as ten-bedded hospitals. The infrastructures for four such health centres – Deocharai, Gopalpur, Jamaldaha and Pakihaga – were already improved for introducing the facility. But due to lack of doctors, nurses and other health workers and instruments and accessories the proposed ten-bed facility is yet to be launched in those four centres. The CMOH, Dr Shil hoped that the situation may improve in December but at the same time he admitted that they are receiving no satisfactory response from medical professionals for the posts of doctors on contract basis.


Expressing his helplessness Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad, who is also the chairman of District Health and Family Welfare Samiti (DHFWS), said they reported the situation regularly to the health department. Even after receiving appointment letters from health department many doctors are not eager to come to north Bengal. As the health department issues the appointment letters they should take an initiative for filling the vacant posts, the sabhadhipati opined.


Mr Dipak Sarkar, Cooch Behar (North) MLA and also a member of DHFWS said the health service situation is alarming in Cooch Behar district. He demanded filling up of the vacant posts immediately. He assured that he would raise the issue in the next meeting of the DHFWS so that the health department come up to do something to fill the vacancies to make the health situation better. []


"Greater" campaign


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 28: Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) organised cultural programmes at different blocks in Cooch Behar yesterday and today to celebrate the 106-th birth anniversary of legendary Bhawaiya artiste Abbasuddin. During the cultural programmes they also campaigned asking people to get prepared for the ensuing three-tier panchayat elections, GCDP president Mr Ashutosh Barma said. The executive committee of the GCDP will meet soon to decide the proposed fast-unto-death programme, Mr Barma said. []

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Bus blazed in Assam, injured shifted to Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 27: Fifteen seriously injured persons of the ill fated bus that was going to Uttar Lakhimpur in Assam last night were shifted to MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar this noon.


A passenger bus named Road King left for Uttar Lakhimpur from Cooch Behar with 48 passengers at 10-10 p.m. yesterday. At about 12-midnight a gang of about 15 miscreants tried to stop the bus at Nandinigaon under Golokganj police station. They obstructed the bus by placing large sized boulders on the road. When the driver stopped the bus they hurled stones to the bus. The driver and a few others received injury. At that time the miscreants hurled one or two petrol bombs to the bus and left the place leaving the blazed vehicle. Some of the passengers came out breaking open the windows of the burning bus. Later, police came and sent 21 injured persons to a hospital in Dhubri.


Today, 15 persons including the driver and the conductor were shifted to MJN Hospital. Conductor Ajit Das narrated the story lying in his bed at the hospital. Another injured passenger Champa Munda, a resident of Beltala in Alipurduar, said, they were going to work at a brick kiln in Guwahati.


The Assam Police are suspecting that it was the handiwork of AKRASU who called an Assam bandh from 17 October to 29 October. When contacted, the Dhubri ASP Md Omar Ali said they arrested ten persons in connection with the incident. Drive is on to nab some others. Security measures were beefed up following the incident, the ASP said. []

Trial flight at Cooch Behar Airport


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 27: If things go well the long awaited air service from Cooch Behar Airport may resume from next month. After the trial flight done today the hope is taking a realistic shape. The last flight that took off from this airport was in 1992. Bayudoot service was operational then between Kolkata and Cooch Behar. A large number of people rushed to the airport to see the aircraft today.  


A 48-seater ATR-42 aircraft of Air Deccan landed at about 10-28 a.m. at Cooch Behar Airport today. It took off from Dum Dum at about 8-57 a.m. There were 17 cabin crews and officials of Air Deccan including the Base Captain, Dum Dum, Mr NC Haldar and two pilots – Mr Jose M Pinilla and Mr Sergio Carrasco.


Mr Haldar said they would submit a detailed report to the authorities concerned over today's flight. Regular service along Cooch Behar-Kolkata air route may resume from next month, he hoped.


After landing at Cooch Behar Airport the Air Deccan men opined that the runway was good enough for operations. During trial they took off from the airport and landed again successfully. Finally, they flew back to Kolkata at about 12-noon.


Officer-in-charge of Cooch Behar Airport, Mr Sujay Das told media persons that setting up of a new terminal building is going on. The existing runway will also be extended. A better lounge for passengers will also come up. Presently the security system is being fabricated. Installing of a control tower and a fire service unit are being done, he added.


Mr Haldar of Air Deccan said they are yet to decide the passenger fare. They will fly 48-seater aircrafts along Cooch Behar-Kolkata route. The flight may take about 75-minute. Extension of the route to northeastern region will be decided after examining the viability of the Cooch Behar-Kolkata service, he said. []

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Library for children

COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 24: North Bengal State Library (NBSL) is going to introduce an exclusive children's section in the library to encourage reading habit and love for books. The proposed Children's Corner will be launched on the Children's Day (14 November). It is expected that state mass education extension minister Mr Tapan Roy or state forest minister Mr Ananta Roy will inaugurate the proposed facility.


The Children's Corner is going to come up with financial assistance of Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, a government of India organisation. They sanctioned Rs 1.2-lakh for purchasing of books and furniture. An oil painting of Raja Rammohun Roy will be at the Children's Corner that is to be unveiled by RRRLF director Mr KK Banerjee. NBSL advisory committee chairman and also the Cooch Behar Sadar SDO Mr Jayanta Kumar Maiti said they requested the traders' body and others to come forward to sponsor the project to make it a grand success.


NBSL librarian Mr Ranu Dey said the proposed Children's Corner would be in a specious room that could accommodate about thirty tiny readers at a time. There will be decorative chairs and tables. The walls will also be painted to build up a happy mood. Public works department was entrusted to do the job, Mr Dey said.


In a bid to attract the readers there will be popular English and Bengali books like Harry Potter, comics like Tintin, world famous classics, magazines and books by popular and famous writers. But, not only books. Computers are also on the pipeline to offer educational computer games. "Though we have a plan to offer computer games we will give the emphasis on reading of good books because we want our children to come back to the vast and rich world of books", Mr Dey said.


Mr Maiti hoped that the proposed Children's Corner would surely be able to attract the children. "We are proud that we are trying to do something exclusively for our children. Their first love should be books", he said.


The NBSL have another plan too. It is for the senior citizens. Like the Children's Corner it may offer another specious room for the elders. Here they can be able to read books, newspapers and magazines and discuss on any topic under the sun. Once implemented the facility may appear to open a wide window for the elders. The proposal of the plan will be tabled in the next meeting of the 9-member NBSL advisory committee for approval, Mr Dey said. []


Cooch Behar Airport

COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 24: The much-awaited resumption of air service from Cooch Behar Airport may start before the Diwali. Cooch Behar Airport sources said trial flight might be conducted on 27 October. But there is no information available with the district administration over the matter till now.


It may be mentioned here that Cooch Behar Airport is almost ready for resumption of air service. Air Deccan, a reputed airliner, already expressed its interest in conducting flights between Cooch Behar and Kolkata. They conveyed their willingness to the Airport Authority of India too.


Taking it granted that air service may resume before the Diwali a special training started for security personnel from 22 October. It will go on till 1 November. Air Deccan authority and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security took the initiative to provide required training to selected security personnel. 28 policemen and five Air Deccan men are undergoing the training. They may be deployed for security of the airport after resuming of air service from this airport, a senior police official said.


When asked about the resumption of air service from Cooch Behar Airport, Cooch Behar ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said they are yet to get any information over the matter. Cooch Behar Airport officials had conveyed that a trial flight may be conducted on 23 or 24 October but nothing happened. "On earlier occasions too we were conveyed of resumption of air service and trial flight but nothing happened", he said. He made it clear that this time they are not in a mood to say anything about the revival of air service. "We do not want to fool the pressmen and people with false promise", the ADM (D) said. []

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

An exemplary fair in Dinhata


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 23: The weeklong "Burir-pater mela" is going on at Putimari in Dinhata. Though the mela (fair) is of seven days it runs for about fifteen days. It started on Maha Saptami (Thursday). Because of this fair the puja mood is still on here.


One Asmat Mian Bakshi and two of his Hindu friends – Kedar Nath Ray and Hemananda Bakshi had started the Bana-Durga puja at Putimari in Dinhata, Cooch Behar. It was about 130 years ago. The tradition is still going on with full fervour. A fair is also organised on the occasion. The organisers of the puja and the fair are from both Hindu and Muslim communities. Here, one can learn lessons on communal harmony and tolerance.


Locals at Putimari said that at the first year, Asmat Mian Bakshi and his two Hindu friends arranged the puja of ten-handed Devi Durga. But later, as per sayings, the Devi instructed the three friends in their dream to worship Her as Buri-Mata or Bana-Durga. In that year they worshiped Her again on the Ashwin Sankranti (last day of Ashwin month) according to the Devi's instruction. Since then on the puja is performed on every year on Ashwin Sankranti day. This year the puja started on Maha Saptami because it was also the Ashwin Sankranti.


The idol of Bana-Durga has no similarity with other known idols of Devi Durga. Here She is like an aged woman holding a lathi (stick) in Her one hand and a little child in Her other hand. The two-handed Devi is found sitting on a lion. Local residents believe that the Devi is very much alive ( Jagrato). The entire area is also named after the Devi as Burir-pat.


The Bana-Durga puja is a crowd puller event in Dinhata and adjoining areas. A one-month mela used to be organised in earlier days, but now it is reduced to seven days. Local folk cultures like Kushan-gaan, yatra and Bhawaiya are the main attraction during the mela days. The puja and the mela act as the driving forces to unite Hindus and Muslims, according to local residents. Both Muslims and Hindus take active part with full enthusiasm in organising the puja, they said.


The temple of Buri-Mata or Bana-Durga is situated on the earthen Garh of King Kanteswar at Putimari in Dinhata. It is adjacent to Karisal Masjid (mosque) and the Kabar-sthan (cemetery of the Muslims). Successors of late Asmat Mian Bakshi donated the large-sized mela ground at Putimari for organising the puja and fair. Devotees and people of Dinhata believe that the Burir-pat at Putimari may be of immense help to attract tourists to this area, if promoted properly. []

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Exemplary puja at Temple Street in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 17: It is unbelievable but true that a community puja is going on for twelve years without accepting any subscription from unwilling residents. The organisers of the Temple Street Durga Puja near Sagar Dighi in Cooch Behar are performing the community puja with donations from the members and well-wishers only. It started in 1996 and still the show goes on.


On behalf of Temple Street Durga Puja Committee Mr Snehashis Ghosh said that their ultimate aim was to make a situation so that the residents of the locality can enjoy the festival without any fear of coercion over subscription. They never want to make the festival a bitter one to anybody over coercing or forcible collection of subscription. The members of the puja committee donate the needed amount to meet the expenditure of the puja, he said. At the same time he said that there was no restriction in extending of assistance to the puja if it is made voluntarily.


The Temple Street's puja is not a big budget one compared with other community pujas in the town. It is filled with energy, enthusiasm and joy. Publication of a souvenir named "Sharad Barta" is also became a part of the festival for ten years. The souvenir of Temple Street's puja is considered as a piece of good publication rich with literary works, Mr Ghosh claimed.


The budget of this year's puja is about Rs 45,000. About thirty local youths took the first initiative to perform the puja in 1996 and still it is going on in full swing. Thirty to thirty-five members donate freely to perform the puja. There are some others too who donate according to their will. The members, may be at outside for various reasons during the year, feel the festival's call in their heart and come back to town before the puja to participate in the festival. No resident of the locality is spared from taking the Prasad on the Mahashtami.


The organisers are hopeful that the puja of Temple Street will go on for years to come maintaining the "no forcible subscription" policy. Subscription should not be a barrier to enjoy the festive moments, they believe. []

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Puja security plan in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 16: As several militant outfits are active in this region especially adjacent to Assam, Cooch Behar Police are not in a mood to take any chance during the festive days. Additional police forces brought in from outer districts will be deployed at different places to maintain peace. Plainclothesmen will also be deployed to keep eye on suspicious persons.


Senior police officials in Cooch Behar said they discussed the security issue with different puja committees. According to plan police personnel will be made available in case of necessity. There will be a number of police assistance camps adjacent to big puja pandals that are known as crowd pullers.


Keeping in mind the activities of militant outfits of northeastern region the security will be beefed up along the Assam-West Bengal border in Baxirhat of Tufanganj sub-division. RPF jawans would also be deployed to assist the armed police personnel, a senior police official said. The Border Security Force too being alerted to keep strict vigil along Indo-Bangladesh border so that no person can infiltrate in with ill motives.


During the puja days the traffic system in the towns will also be regulated so that pandal hoppers can move freely. The movement of motor vehicles will be controlled for the purpose, police sources said. Security may check any vehicle if appears suspicious. []

Durga puja at Kamateswari temple


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 16: Following the tradition of about five-century, Durga puja rituals began on last Friday at the Kamateswari temple at Gosanimari in Dinhata, Cooch Behar. As in previous years a pair of pigeons was sacrificed on Pratipad (first day of the moon's wane).


The Cooch Behar Debottar Trust Board is the guardian-body of the Kamateswari temple of Gosanimari. King Niladhwaj of the Khen dynasty had established the original temple. Later, Maharaja Pran Narayan of Cooch Behar rebuilt it in 1665. Once, Gosanimari was the capital of ancient Kamatapur kingdom.


The system of Durga puja at Kamateswari temple is different from other places. Performance of community Durga pujas generally start from Sasthi elsewhere, but at Kamateswari temple it starts on Pratipad - six days earlier than other places - like Baro Devi of Debibari and Kathhamia Devi of Madan Mohan temple complex. Another difference from others is that no idol of Durga is here for the puja. An altar inside the temple is used here for worship as a symbol of power of the Goddess. The puja will be performed till Dashami. Till Maha-Navami a pair of pigeons will be sacrificed everyday as a part of the puja ritual, as was done in earlier years.


Sacrifice of goats is also done on the three days from Maha-Saptami to Maha-Navami. A buffalo is sacrificed on Maha-Ashtami as at the pujas of Baro Devi and Kathhamia Devi. But, no sacrifice is done here on the Vijaya-Dashami.


Everyday numerous people are coming from outer places to visit the Kamateswari temple and to offer puja here. Gosanimari is now turned into a place of festival. A four-day fair will also be held here from Saptami to Dashami as in previous years. []

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Mahouts to train forest workers


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 11: Mahouts (elephant-driver) of Cooch Behar forest division are to train the forest workers of south Bengal districts to teach them the techniques of driving out wild elephants from localities. The training programme is going to be conducted soon. As there are no trained forest workers in south Bengal to protect villagers from elephant menace the mahouts of north Bengal have to rush to the south Bengal districts to drive out the wild elephants that enter into localities.


Presently, the mahouts of north Bengal have to go with tamed elephants of forest division to south Bengal districts on different occasions of elephant menace. This is a time consuming matter and at the same time it is not economical. It is believed that after receiving adequate training the forest workers of south Bengal districts will be able to do the job themselves.


Forest division sources said elephant menace is not a problem of north Bengal only. A number of south Bengal districts too suffer from similar problem round the year. The wild elephants enter villages adjacent to the forests. Following this the villagers have to suffer loss of a huge quantity of crop and dwelling houses. The number of death incidents per year is also mentionworthy. The local forest personnel have no ability to drive out the elephants due to lack of proper techniques. As a result the situation is getting worse.


A senior forest division official said it is not very easy to shift tamed elephants to the affected areas in south Bengal to drive away the wild elephants. It takes time and money to send the elephants from north Bengal. Considering the situation the forest department chalked out the plan to train forest workers of south Bengal by mahouts of north Bengal. After the training the situation will be better, the forest official hoped. []


Vehicle worker's demonstration


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 11: Demanding Eid and puja bonus the workers of taxis and mini-maxis organised a sit-in at the Maxi-Taxi Stand at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bus Terminus in Cooch Behar today. During the demonstration they also burnt an effigy of taxi and mini-maxi owners today. Yesterday they demonstrated by keeping their vehicles off the roads from all routes in this district. Due to the movement the commuters are suffering heavily in the ongoing festive season.


President of Cooch Behar Zilla Taxi and Mini-Maxi Workers' Union Mr Shankar Roy alleged that the vehicle owners are trying to violate the instructions of the state government over disbursing of bonus to the workers of unorganised sector. "We started our movement from 3 October demanding bonus and, if necessary, we may start a non-stop agitation including roadblock from 18 October", Mr Roy said. He said that they started the movement because the workers had failed to get bonus from the vehicle owners last year though the issue was decided earlier.


On the otherhand, secretary of district Maxi-Taxi Owners' Association Mr Narayan Dutta said that due to damaged roads the situation of their business is not well but they were ready to give bonus at the rate as was given in previous year. It is not possible to disburse bonus in the manner as the union is pressing, he said.


It was learnt that maxi-taxis run in more than 200 routes in Cooch Behar district. A large number of passengers depend on these vehicles for travel especially along the routes in villages. The ongoing agitation is posing a problem to them. The situation may turn worse if the issue were not settled before the festival, opined many passengers. []

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Firemen assaulted, vehicles damaged


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 9: Agitated locals assaulted three fire service personnel and damaged two vehicles alleging their delayed arrival to douse an incident of blaze. Police and BSF jawans had rescued the fire fighters and sent them to Dinhata hospital. The incident occurred at Gitaldaha market in Dinhata last night.


Locals alleged that fire broke out at a grocery shop owned by one Santosh Ghosh at Gitaldaha market at about 9-15 p.m. but the fire fighters arrived there with two engines at about 10-05 p.m. only to pour water on the completely gutted shop. This aroused anger among the locals who manhandled the firemen and damaged the two vehicles.


On the otherhand, Dinhata Fire Service Station sources denied the allegation and said they got the information at about 9-50 p.m. and reached quickly at the spot. Soon after their arrival some locals started brick batting on them.  Among the 13 firemen that went there Mr Amiya Kumar Roy (leader), Mr Bimal Kumar Mazumder (fire engine operator cum driver) and Mr Jogen Ram Singh (constable) were injured during the trouble. Two vehicles were also damaged severely. But ignoring the attack the firemen started their duty of controlling the fire. Later, Police and BSF jawans appeared to rescue them and shifted the injured to Dinhata hospital.


A fire service station official said they had received more than thirty telephone calls informing them of the fire incident. They rushed to the spot immediately. He suspected that there were some inflammable items like kerosene in that shop. The wind too fanned the blaze, he added. []


Man killed


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 9: One Faijuddin Mian (26), a resident of Karala village in Dinhata was gunned down by BSF jawans last night when he was engaged in trafficking out cattle crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border. Police said the incident occurred at about 1-30 a.m. under Karala border outpost area. []

Law violation in Tufanganj


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 9: Trinamul Congress supporters organised a mass disobedience programme at the Tufanganj SDO office premises today. The agitated Trinamul supporters were demanding restoration of rationing system in Cooch Behar district and rehabilitation of the affected traders at the market in Tufanganj from where they were evicted recently. A few hundred people were courted arrest led by the party's district unit president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh.


Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress vice-president Mr Niranjan Dutta declared that a mass gathering would be held on 16 October demanding settlement of demands of the affected traders of Tufanganj. A mahamichhil (grand rally) will be held on 30 October and a law violation programme will also be held on that day on the same issue, Mr Dutta said.


Meanwhile, Trinamul Congress supporters led by the party's district unit vice-president Mr Santosh Mukherjee too demonstrated at the Cooch Behar SDO office today. They also submitted a memorandum to the Cooch Behar Sadar SDO. Mr Mukherjee alleged that the general public are not getting the commodities at the MR shops. He demanded withdrawal of all fake ration cards, disbursement of the scheduled commodities on every week and measures against the corrupted MR dealers. []

Silent protest rally against police attack

COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 9: Citizens of Cooch Behar witnessed today a large rally different from others. There were no slogans. Demanding legal actions against the policemen involved in the attack on two media persons the aggrieved journalists organised a massive silent rally wearing black badges in Cooch Behar town. Not only journalists but also hundreds of citizens from various walks of society have participated in the rally. Ignoring incessant rain the rally started from Shahid Baag and ended there after walking along different streets in the town.


            Media persons from Dinhata, Mathabhanga, Mekhliganj, Changrabandha, Haldibari, Tufanganj, Cooch Behar Sadar, Falakata, Maynaguri, Alipurduar and other places came to join the rally. Many intellectuals and persons associated with different organisations and NGOs too participated the silent rally. Large presence of women participants was also noteworthy.


It may be recalled here that some policemen assaulted two pressmen - Mr Partha Chakraborty and Mr Ashok Dey - attached with a Bengali TV channel, brutally on Thursday morning when they were filming an act of extortion by some policemen from a vehicle driver who was carrying patients to MJN Hospital. Between the two injured journalists Mr Chakraborty is still under medical care at a nursing home in Siliguri.


Cooch Behar Press Club sources alleged that by suspending two assistant sub-inspectors the police are trying to wash their hands of all the crimes they did. The FIR lodged at Kotowali police station by a victim was recorded as a mere general diary (GD). They demanded specific legal action against the tainted policemen.


A mass signed appeal will be sent to the state Chief minister through Cooch Behar DM within a few days requesting the CM of his intervention into the matter. In that appeal the signatories will demand initiation of legal action against the tainted policemen involved in the attack on the pressmen. []

Monday, 8 October 2007

The making of a Kumari for puja


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 8: Six-year-old Shinjini is getting ready to be worshipped as the Kumari during the Durga Puja at Ramkrishna Math in Cooch Behar. Presently she is being trained for the holy performance.


The father of little Shinjini is Mr Rajat Chattopadhyay. He is the agricultural extension officer of Cooch Behar-I block. Her mother Mrs Shravani Chattopadhyay is a teacher of Ramgopal Lakhotia High School at Pundibari. Shinjini is a student of Upper KG in a private school in Cooch Behar town. They reside at Ghoshpara by-lane in Cooch Behar town.


Recently, when the Chattopadhyay family received the proposal for Shinjini to be worshipped at the Kumari puja ritual they turned astonished. Discussing the proposal with all family members and close relatives they expressed their consent. Then the members of Sarada Sangha visited the house to see her. Examining her with all religious criteria and aspects she was selected. At last, the president of Cooch Behar Ramkrishna Math, Swami Ajarananda approved her selection as the Kumari of this year, family sources said. Ramkishna Math sources too confirmed her selection.


In a bid to keep her well for the Kumari puja ritual she is undergoing some instructions about eating and consuming of foods. Training is also going on at the residence of a member of Sarada Sangha about the right physical posture that she will have to do during the Kumari puja. She is also hearing sacred Stotras from Veda and participating in the prayers at the Ramkrishna Math regularly. In her home, her parents engaged them daily in telling and explaining the greatness and dignity of Devi Durga and Kumari puja ritual.


Little Shinjini is a very jolly, lively and lovely girl. She is not very aware of the importance of Kumari puja or the large gathering that is expected to throng there to witness the puja of her. She only knows that she will be worshipped as the Kumari and for that reason she has to follow several instructions and restrictions. []


PHOTO : "Kumari" Shinjini with her parents in Cooch Behar.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Dr Binayak Roy examines a boy at a de-worming and anaemia prevention camp held at Kanchamari village in Cooch Behar on Sunday. At the camp 107 children were examined and administered with needed medicines. Lions Club of Cooch Behar Greater organised the camp.

Artisans busy in making the idol of Devi Durga at the 117-year old puja at Mahamaya-pat in Dinhata.

Silent protest plan against tainted policemen


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 7: Demanding legal actions against the policemen involved in the attack on two media persons the aggrieved journalists are going to organise a silent rally wearing black badges in Cooch Behar town on Tuesday. Not only journalists but also citizens from various walks of society are expected to participate in the rally. The decision on holding of the rally was adopted at a meeting of journalists held last night in Cooch Behar.


At the meeting the participants opined that a section of police practice corruption regularly and the two pressmen were assaulted when they were trying to disclose an example of misdeed.


It may be recalled here that some policemen assaulted two pressmen - Mr Partha Chakraborty and Mr Ashok Dey - attached with a Bengali TV channel, brutally on Thursday morning when they were filming an act of extortion by some policemen from a vehicle driver who was carrying patients to MJN Hospital. Between the two injured journalists Mr Chakraborty is still under medical care in a nursing home in Siliguri.


Cooch Behar Press Club sources alleged that by suspending two assistant sub-inspectors the police are trying to wash their hands of all the crimes they did. The FIR lodged at Kotowali police station by a victim was recorded as a mere general diary (GD). This cannot bring justice, they alleged. They demanded specific legal action against the tainted policemen.


Meanwhile, Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar denied meeting the members of Press Photographers' Association on Friday. When they contacted the SP over phone he reportedly misbehaved with them. This was nothing but a bid to shield the corrupted policemen for shady reasons, they alleged.


After Tuesday's silent rally a mass signed appeal will be sent to the state Chief minister through Cooch Behar DM requesting his intervention into the matter. In that appeal the signatories will demand initiation of legal action against the tainted policemen involved in the attack on the pressmen and begging of apology by the SP to the photographers with whom he misbehaved. []

Friday, 5 October 2007

Computerisation of North Bengal State Library


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 5: North Bengal State Library is going to step in the computer age very soon. Following an ambitious computerisation drive a list of about 80,000 books of this library will be computerised. And, in addition, about 4,000 rare books copied in compact discs (CD) will be made available for all concerned. After launching of the proposed facility it will be easy for any book lover or researcher to find out a certain book from among the vast collection of books kept in this library. Moreover, anyone can see or read any book by accessing the network of this library through Internet.


The librarian of NBSL Mr Ranu Dey said they adopted a plan to computerise the list of books and functioning of the library within a year. Before launching of the facility the librarian and some other staff will have to undergo a special training in Kolkata, he said.


As the NBSL is a huge storehouse of books, magazines, periodicals, manuscripts, scriptures and rare scripts, it is hard for the readers or booklovers to find out a particular book. The card system is not sufficient in searching of books. Computerisation may ease the situation. After completion of the computerisation plan the readers will be able to get the right books of their choice. At the same time the readers or researchers of any country can be able to get any information of the books kept in this library through Internet.


The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Kolkata, a Central government unit, already completed digitisation of about 4,000 rare books. Under this scheme the books were digitally included in CDs. The digitisation work had started in June 2005.


The librarian Mr Dey said he will go to avail training in Kolkata about functioning of the proposed computerised library. After him, three technical assistants will also be trained. He hoped that the computerisation system would be completed within a year.


It may be mentioned here that the then ruler of Cooch Behar, Maharaja Nripendra Narayan had established the library in 1870. Then it was known as Cooch Behar State Library. In 1969, the State Library and the Cooch Behar District Library were amalgamated as North Bengal State Library. []


Scribes demand case against tainted policemen


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 5: The members of Cooch Behar Press Club requested state forest minister Mr Ananta Roy and food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary to take an initiative so that a specific case starts against the police personnel that were involved in the attack on two journalists at Cooch Behar yesterday. Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar already suspended two assistant sub-inspectors following a demand raised by the aggrieved media persons but no specific case started against them.


The FIR lodged at Kotowali police station by Mr Partha Chakraborty, one of the victims of police beating, was recorded as a mere general diary (GD). This cannot bring justice as promised by the district magistrate and the SP, Press Club sources said. They demanded specific legal action against the tainted policemen.


It may be recalled here that two pressmen attached with a Bengali TV channel – Mr Partha Chakraborty and Mr Ashok Dey - were assaulted brutally on yesterday morning when they were filming an act of extortion by some policemen from a vehicle driver for carrying patients to MJN Hospital allegedly without "ambulance licence". The injured two journalists are still under medical care in MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. []

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Smuggler killed


COOCH BEHAR, Oct. 4: A gang of Bangladeshi miscreants were trying to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border at Changrabandha in Mekhliganj sub-division in Cooch Behar district with some cattle last night. Seeing them the BSF jawans on patrolling duty challenged them but they had to open fire when the members of the gang tried to run away. One of them, identified as Atiar Rahman alias Halan (22) was gunned down and others escaped, police said. He was a resident of Burimari of Khatiarbari in Bangladesh. The body was sent for post-mortem to Mathabhanga today. It may be handed over to BDR tomorrow. []