Monday, 31 December 2007

Road mishap


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 31: Dense fog played a disastrous role on the morning of the last day of the outgoing year. A jeep rammed into a speeding locomotive causing serious injury to a manager of a tea estate at Baro Salmari area under Ghoksadanga police station in Cooch Behar district.


Police said Mr Sanjay Kumar Gupta, manager of Dolong Tea Estate in Dooars, was going towards the tea garden driving his jeep at early morning of today. He was alone in the vehicle. At that time the entire area was under deep fog. At an unmanned level crossing between Falakata and Domohini railway stations the jeep rammed into the speeding Up Okha Express at about 6-10 a.m. The vehicle got damaged and Mr Gupta received serious injury. He was sent to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. Cooch Behar ASP Mr James Kujur said a probe started into the incident. []


CPM-Trinamul clash in Tufanganj


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 31: In a clash between Trinamul Congress and CPI-M supporters twenty Trinamul Congress supporters were injured last night.


Cooch Behar District Trinamul Congress president Mr Rabindra Nath Ghosh said a conference of their party was held at Chhoto Mahadever Dham Primary School premises in Nakkatigachh on yesterday. He also attended the conference. After the conference when the Trinamul Congress supporters were returning home a gang of CPI-M goons attacked them with iron rods and sticks. The attackers forcefully took away their bicycles too. On being informed policemen from Tufanganj appeared there and rescued some of the injured men. Five of the injured were shifted to Tufanganj sub-divisional hospital, Mr Ghosh said.


The Trinamul Congress leader alleged that local CPI-M leaders provoked their supporters to attack the Trinamul men. It is nothing but a part of the plan to cow down the opposition party prior to the three-tier panchayat polls, he alleged. A case was lodged this morning at Tufanganj police station but no one was arrested, he said.


District CPI-M secretariat member and also the Natabari MLA, Mr Tamser Ali said he has no knowledge about any clash that occurred at anywhere in Tufanganj. It may be a fabricated one, he opined.


When asked, the additional superintendent of police, Mr James Kujur said though no one was arrested in connection with the clash an inquiry started into the incident. On the otherhand, District Trinamul Congress president Mr Ghosh declared that they would call a 'thana gherao' movement at Tufanganj shortly if the police fail to arrest the persons involved in the attack on Trinamul Congress supporters. []


Lucky escape


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 31: Passengers of a Tufanganj-Siliguri express bus escaped luckily from a road mishap this noon. The incident occurred at Pundibari in Cooch Behar. Police said a cyclist suddenly appeared in front of the bus. The driver of the bus of North Bengal State Transport Corporation tried to save him and as a result the bus came out from the road. Five passengers received minor injury. []

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Political convention


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 30: A political convention of INTUC affiliated Cooch Behar Zilla Be-sarkari Bus Minibus Workers' Union was held at Bipasha Hall in Cooch Behar today. Chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality and working president of Cooch Behar District Congress Mr Biren Kundu inaugurated the convention. CZBBMWU president Mr Robin Roy presided over the programme.


Delegates came from all the five sub-divisions of this district to attend the convention. District Congress vice-president Mr Dipak Neogi, District Youth Congress president Mr Avijit Dey Sarkar, District Chhatra Parishad president Mr Rakesh Chaudhury, District Congress Sevadal chairman Mr Chandan Kundu and others spoke on the occasion.


In his inaugural address Mr Biren Kundu called upon the workers to strengthen their organisation to retain their earned rights. He and other speakers analysed the existing political scenario and alerted the workers to meet newer challenges. []


PHOTO : Congress and INTUC leaders at the political convention at Bipasha Hall in Cooch Behar on Sunday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.
Ancient coins


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 30: During cleaning of the waterbody at Rasik-bil tourist centre in Tufanganj sub-division a few ancient coins came up from under the earth on Friday. A large number of curious locals and picnickers gathered at the site where the cleaning operation was going on. The coins were found in the mud removed from beneath the waterbody. The actual age of the silver made coins is yet to be ascertained. Receiving information, Baxirhat Police rushed to the spot and took the coins in their custody. []


Special winter camp


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 30: During the recent ten-day special winter camp of two units of Tufanganj College the student-volunteers of National Service Scheme (NSS) conducted house-to-house survey at Tufanganj town and Mahishkuchi-I Gram Panchayat areas. Chairman of Tufanganj Municipality Mr Subhas Chandra Bhawal had inaugurated the winter camp.


The survey revealed that there is no provision of safe drinking water supply facility at Mahishkuchi-I Gram Panchayat area in Tufanganj sub-division. In three booth areas (No. 79, 80 and 88) there is no power connection and partial electric connection was provided in some booths (No. 81-87). The scenario of primary education and education as a whole is very poor in this gram panchayat. Social evil systems like child marriage is still persist in six booth areas (No. 79, 81, 82, 84, 86 and 87). But, there are some silver lines too. The villagers can boast of cent-percent coverage of sanitary latrine in the village.


The NSS volunteers conducted house-to-house survey and covered 314 houses at Ward No. 12 and Ward No. 1 in the municipal area of Tufanganj. Here they noted that the unemployment problem is alarming among the youths. Functioning of the much hyped self-help groups is not up to the mark of expectation. Lack of sanitary toilet facilities in many residences and also lack of awareness about immunisation were observed in both the wards.


Beside survey work the student-volunteers organised several awareness programmes, health check-up camps, cultural programmes and conducted social services during the winter camp days. Classes on different health service issues, legal awareness, environment awareness, disaster management and employment opportunities were attended by a large number of local villagers. Cleaning drives were held at Saldanga market, Panchayat Samity office complex and local subsidiary health centre premises.


Tufanganj College NSS programme officer Mr Kishore Chatterjee said three students were selected as best volunteers. They are – Mr Tapas Das, Mr Prabir Bhaumik and Ms Shanta Sarkar. They were awarded at the valediction ceremony where Tufanganj SDO Mr Sudip Mitra was present as the chief guest. []

Friday, 28 December 2007

Book fair begins


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 28: State library minister Mr Tapan Roy inaugurated the Cooch Behar Book fair at Raas Mela Ground today. CZP sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda, Cooch Behar MP (Rajya Sabha) Mr Tarini Roy and ADM (D) Mr Pannalal Mahapatra were present among the distinguished guests. Prior to the inauguration a colourful 'walk for books' was held in the town. There are about seventy stalls in the fair premises though many of them are yet to be completed. []


UBKV stir


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 28: University Officers' Association, UBKV, Cooch Behar, began their second phase of agitation with 'VC go back' slogan from yesterday. Vice-president of University Officers' Association, UBKV, Md S Rahman said they will agitate daily during the tiffin period till removal of the vice-chancellor from the UBKV. The VC has no right to stay in this university anymore because of his undemocratic and illegal activities, the UOA leader said. []


Bomb scare


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 28: Following an explosion occurred at the early morning of today the villagers of Tallipara in Maghpala under Cooch Behar Kotowali police station turned panicky. Locals claimed they heard blasting sound of four bombs. The incident occurred inside the residence of a local farmer, Anil Barman. The sleepy family members wake up following the explosion. Examining the remains it was found that placing some powerful crackers in a cooking pot it was blasted. The reason behind the incident is yet to be ascertained. Cooch Behar ASP, Mr James Kujur said an investigation started into the incident. []


Case against police officer


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 28: Mrs Menaka Biswas, a housewife of Maghpala village in Cooch Behar, lodged a case at the court of chief judicial magistrate against a sub-inspector of Cooch Behar Kotowali police station today. Receiving the complaint, the CJM, Mr Manojyoti Bhattacharya, took up it in cognisance (CR Case No. 464/2007), said the lawyer of the complainant, Mr Shibendra Nath Roy.


According to the complaint the SI entered into the residence of Mr Rajkumar Roy on 25 December in the pretext of an inquiry. As the house-owner was absent the SI allegedly broke open a box and took out Rs 5,000 from it. He also took some ornaments of the housewife forcefully and when she tried to resist him he allegedly outraged her modesty. He also threatened her. Later, she tried to lodge a complaint at the police station but that was also refused.


When asked, the additional superintendent of police, Mr James Kujur said the housewife already submitted a complaint to him and a probe into her allegation is under process.


The lawyer, Mr Roy said the housewife failed to lodge complaint at the police station and so she had to lodge a case at the court to get justice. It should be considered as an act of bravery because ignoring the threat a simple village woman came to the court praying for justice, he opined. []  

Now, coffin for another purpose


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 28: Forest plunderers and timber smugglers are adopting new methods to run their illegal activities following intensive raids to stop their business. Such a case was detected last night.


Acting on a tip-off a team of forest officials from Cooch Behar social forestry division led by ADFO Mr SK Baroi and range officer Mr Rahul Mukherjee intercepted a cycle-van at Sonari area near Alipurduar last night. It was coming towards Cooch Behar town via Gopalpur. The forest officials turned astonished when they saw a large coffin on that cart. Being suspicious they opened its lid and saw a huge quantity of sawn teakwood inside it. Smelling danger the cart puller ran away. The cycle-van and the timber were seized. The value of the seized timber is worth Rs 30,000.


A senior forest department official said timber trafficking by using coffin-like containers is a novel invention of the forest plunderers. "We never detected any such case in this region earlier", he said. The seized timber was being trafficked illegally from nearby forests, he suspects. He made it clear that they will continue their efforts to stop illegal trading of timber in this region.


ADFO (SF) Mr Baroi said they seized a huge quantity of timber worth Rs one-lakh from Rampur, Cooch Behar railway station, Baneswar, Sonari and other areas in Cooch Behar district during the past seven days. It is suspected that the seized timbers were brought from forests of Dooars and Assam to sell in the clandestine market in Cooch Behar, he said. []

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Office ransacked during agitation


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 27: Dinhata-I Block Development Office was ransacked today during a demonstration organised by Krishak Sabha, the peasant wing of the CPI-M. The BDO, Mr Rajat Kanti Biswas lodged a complaint at Dinhata police station in connection with the incident.


Krishak Sabha leader Mr Tarapada Barman said they organised the demonstration to protest against poor functioning of 100-day job guarantee scheme, corrupt practice in obtaining ration cards and issuing of work order without calling tenders in Dinhata-I Panchayat Samity. He, however, denied their connection with the ransacking of the BDO office. []     


Rana Sen


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 27: A renowned leader of trade union movement in North Bengal, Rana Sen (83) breathed his last at Alipurduar yesterday. Till death he was the secretary of Jalpaiguri district RSP and member of RSP's central and state committees. He also worked as a journalist for a long and edited a periodical named Daabi. His actual name was Dibyendu Sen. Leaders of different political parties, trade unions and other organisations paid their last homage to the demised leader. []


'VC go back' stir


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 27: After revoking of the dismissal order (4 December) issued to the registrar, Dr Parimal Chandra Sarkar by the vice-chancellor of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Prof Mrinal Kanti Majumder, normal functioning of the UBKV restored at its Pundibari campus from yesterday. The joint secretary of agriculture department (education branch), Mr AK Samanta revoked the VC's order on 24 December.


Today, vice-president of University Officers' Association, UBKV, Md S Rahman said the revoking of the dismissal order proved that it was illegal and undemocratic and so the VC has no right to stay anymore in this university. They began a fresh agitation with 'VC go back' slogan from today. They will agitate daily during the tiffin period till removal of the VC from the UBKV, the UOA leader said. []




COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 27: Nineteenth state level Bhawaiya competition will be held at Baneswar Khabsa High School premises from 24 January to 27 January. A fair will also be organised on the occasion. State backward classes welfare department is the organiser of the programme. []

Temple of Madhupur Dham to attract visitors



COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 27: The famous temple of Shankar Dev at Madhupur Dham in Cooch Behar is going to be thoroughly renovated. State tourism department has allocated Rs 25-lakh for the purpose, according to the District Planning Officer, Cooch Behar, Mr Sunil Agarwala. The plan is now under consideration of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad.


With the fund extended by the tourism department the main temple will be renovated. Kitchen and toilet facilities inside the temple complex will be improved and the pond will be cleaned. A new dormitory will also come up there to accommodate devotees and visitors.


The existing temple at Madhupur Dham was established in 1964 with financial assistance of the last Maharaja of Cooch Behar, Jagaddipendra Narayan, Assam state government and followers of Baishnav cult preacher Shankar Dev. Maharaja Narendra Narayan or Maharaja Nara Narayan was the actual founder of the Shankara Mandir there. The temple is situated at a distance of ten-kilometre from Cooch Behar town.


Baishnav cult preacher Shankar Dev had to face difficulties at Assam when he was preaching Baishnavism there. The king of Assam expelled him from his kingdom. Shankar Dev had to take shelter of Maharaja Nara Narayan of Cooch Behar in sixteenth century. During his stay at Madhupur he translated Shrimad Bhagavat. He had breathed his last at Madhupur.


Madhupur Dham is a must see for Baishnav devotees from Assam. During the Raas Mela of Cooch Behar numerous visitors come to visit the temple. Dol Yatra and other religious festivals also attract devotees here.


The lat remains of Shankar Dev, the inkpot and pen used by him, Narayani Mudra (coin), a handwritten scripture of the Bhagavat, footwear and other holy items are there inside the temple. The 15.5-metre high temple is also an attractive example of architecture.


The tourism department not only sanctioned fund for renovation of the Shankar Dev's temple but also for development of Raas Mela Ground in Cooch Behar town. It allocated Rs 25-lakh to improve the large ground. District Planning Officer, Mr Agarwala said the fund would be used for developing the ground and constructing boundary walls. All the illegal encroachments will be evicted. A bamboo-market is running on the ground round the year. It will also be removed from here. Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad will implement the entire plan, Mr Agarwala said.


Another proposal was under consideration of the tourism department. The Rs 75-lakh plan is for setting up of a Tourist Reception Centre in Cooch Behar. In the proposed centre there will be a tourist information centre and a few guest rooms to accommodate tourists, the DPO said. []

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Voters' list : 75,000 new applications


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 26: There are 15,59,637 voters in nine Assembly constituencies in Cooch Behar district according to the draft electoral roll that was published on 14 November. The largest number of voters came from Sitai, an area close to the Indo-Bangladesh border. Here the number of voters is 1,91,516. Election officials claimed that preparation of 98.8 percent of Elector's Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) was already completed in this district.


According to a report 74,752 persons submitted new applications for inclusion of their names in the electoral roll. Here also, the largest number of applications came from Sitai. It is 11,227. In the other bordering areas like Mekhliganj, Sitalkuchi, Mathabhanga, Dinhata, Natabari and Tufanganj many persons submitted new applications for inclusion in the voters' list.


Following the constituency-wise report the numbers of new applicants in concerned Assembly constituencies are as follows : Mekhliganj - 9,882, Sitalkuchi – 7,144, Mathabhanga – 6,728, Dinhata – 10,248, Natabari – 6,842 and Tufanganj – 7,228.


The officer-in-charge (election) Mr Sanjay Mukherjee said new names would be included only after proper scrutiny and examining all valid documents. No new name will be added in the electoral roll without proper verification.


It was learnt that in the electoral list that was published in last January the number of voters was 15,03,554. In 95,873 new applicants 20,472 were rejected due to various reasons. Leaders of different opposition parties like Trinamul Congress and BJP alleged that the rejected persons, mostly infiltrators from Bangladesh, submitted applications afresh to be included in the voters' list. The OC (Election), Mr Mukherjee however assured that no name would be added in the list without possession of scheduled and valid documents. The election cell officials are now examining the new applications, he said. Legal measures will be taken if they receive specific complaints, a senior official said.


The OC (Election) said the final electoral roll would be published on 8 January without photographs of the new electors. Photographing of new voters will begin on 1 February. He said 12,123 applications were submitted for correction of entries in the list and 4,290 voters submitted applications for shifting from one constituency to other. They received 8,580 applications for correction of mismatching of names and photographs in the voter's list. []


Row over a dead body in hospital


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 26: Body of a female patient was left uncared on the bed for about 21 hours at MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. This noon the body was shifted for post-mortem.


Patients and their relatives at the female medical ward alleged that the woman was admitted at about 2-30 p.m. yesterday and she died at about 3 p.m. Since then the body was kept on the bed. Though they drew attention of the nurses and other general duty attendants no one came up to shift the body from the ward. This morning, they drew the attention of the hospital superintendent too.


Hospital sources said a housewife of Sonari village, Bula Das (45) was admitted at 2-35 p.m. yesterday in a serious condition. She had consumed poison. The doctors tried their best to save her life but failed. As it was a case of unnatural death the police were informed about it. Today police officials visited the hospital and inquired into the matter. The body was also removed from the ward. There was no negligence on the part of the hospital authority, hospital sources claimed.


A police official in Kotowali police station said they received the information of death last night but inquest was not possible in the night. So, the officials visited the hospital this morning. As there was no hospital staff to remove the body they had to wait till noon, he said. []

An ambitious irrigation plan to boost up agriculture


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 26: Following an ambitious plan to extend irrigation facilities to all cultivable lands in Cooch Behar district a proposal is being submitted to the state government. Under the proposed five-year Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation (ADMI) scheme the farmers of this district is expected to be benefited from the next fiscal year (2008-2009).


Convenor of the ADMI scheme and also the executive engineer of Cooch Behar agri-mech division, Mr Shyamal Kumar Banerjee said that once the scheme implemented it would be possible for them to bring an additional 28,000-hectre cultivable land in this district under various irrigation facilities, in addition to the existing ones. The project cost of the ADMI scheme was estimated at Rs 83.92-crore.


Under the ADMI project they would install twenty-five deep tube-wells, forty-four medium sized riverwater lifting irrigation (RLI) systems, 441 mini RLIs, 4258 diesel operated sallow tube-wells, one-hundred water harvesting tanks and ten retention structures in different areas in Cooch Behar district, Mr Banerjee said.     


Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda hoped that the scheme might get approval in the next financial year. He said huge fund is needed to gear up the irrigation system and also to maintain the existing ones. It is not possible for the CZP alone to cover the entire cultivable lands in this district under irrigation facilities. But it is necessary to boost up the irrigation facilities to prosper in agriculture. After much consideration the ADMI scheme was adopted as a pilot project and the proposal is being sent to the higher authorities concerned, he said.


Mr Chanda hoped that all the cultivable lands of this district might come under the ADMI scheme within five years. []

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

GKUF's 72-hour bandh plan in North Bengal and Assam


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 25: In a bid to intensify their movement for a separate state and recognition of mother tongue the Greater Kamta United Forum (GKUF) has decided to call a 72-hour bandh in the territory of the proposed Greater Kamtapur State comprising of eleven districts of Assam and six districts of North Bengal. The proposed bandh is to start on 31 March.


The decision was adopted at the meeting of the 9-member policy making committee of GKUF that was held at Golokganj in Assam yesterday. Mentionworthy, GKUF is a joint platform of Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP), Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) and All Assam Koch Rajbonshi Students' Union (AAKRASU).


Declaring the movement plan the general secretary of GKUF and also the president of GCDP, Mr Ashutosh Barma said today that on 1 January they would observe the day as Black Day. On that day in 1950 the erstwhile princely state of Cooch Behar was merged with India as a district only. The then chief minister of West Bengal had chalked out the plan to include Cooch Behar as a mere district. "We are not ready to consider Cooch Behar as a district only and so we will stage protest on that day", Mr Barma said.


Some other plans of movement were also decided in the GKUF's policy-making committee yesterday. It will organise a bicycle rally from Narayanpur of Lakhimpur district in Assam to Raiganj in North Bengal on 15 January. With that programme they will highlight their demand for a separate state and recognition of their mother tongue.


On 4 January the GKUP supporters will observe Rail Roko programme and from 3 March they will organise a dharna (sit-in) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Mr Barma said. On 15 April they are to organise a central rally at Maynaguri, the GKUF leader added. []

Cong Sevadal's North Bengal training camp concluded


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 25: The three-day training camp of Congress Sevadal was concluded here today. Cooch Behar Municipality chairman Mr Biren Kundu had inaugurated it on Sunday. Today, the Sevadal volunteers took out a colourful procession in the town and later campfire was also held to mark the concluding ceremony.


425 Sevadal volunteers from six districts of North Bengal participated in the training camp that was held at Raas Mela Ground. Chief organiser of Cooch Behar District Congress Sevadal Mr Chandan Kundu said the three-day camp is expected to act as a morale booster for the Congress supporters.


Mr Kundu alleged that by forming volunteer force the CPI-M do commit atrocities on rural people but there is no one to save the oppressed common people. During the panchayat elections the ruling party may repeat the same crimes that they committed on earlier occasions to spate up their vote boxes. "Now, we are not in a mood to allow this practice any more. The trained Sevadal volunteers will try their best to stop atrocities of the CPI-M musclemen", he said.


The Sevadal volunteers will not allow the CPI-M supporters to commit rigging during the ensuing three-tier panchayat elections. They will be deployed at each polling booth to keep watch on the CPI-M wrongdoers, Mr Kundu said.


During the three-day training camp classes were held on the morals of great leaders of Congress and different pro-people policies of Congress to uplift the socio-economic situation of the country, District Congress vice-president Mr Dipak Neogi said. The Sevadal volunteers were alerted about the evil designs of the CPI-M so that Congress can pull it down from power in the panchayat polls, Mr Neogi added. []

Monday, 24 December 2007

Registrar's dismissal order withdrawn


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 24: At last the stalemate at Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya (UBKV) came to an end. The state government today revoked the dismissal order that was issued to the registrar by the VC on 4 December.


The trouble started from that day when the vice-chancellor of UBKV, Prof Mrinal Kanti Majumder had dismissed the registrar Dr Parimal Chandra Sarkar by an order No VC/UBKV/1395). Dr Sarkar had joined UBKV on June of this year on lien from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya.


Today, a ten-member delegation comprising of representatives from UBKV officers, teachers and students met state agriculture minister Mr Naren Dey at Kolkata and demanded withdrawal of the dismissal order. The minister heard their points and instructed his department to withdraw the VC's order. Accordingly, the joint secretary, department of agriculture, education branch, Mr AK Samanta issued a letter to the VC.


In the letter Mr Samanta informed the VC that the order "shall be treated as withdrawn with immediate effect".


Following the development the secretary of University Officers' Association's UBKV unit, Dr Mrigendra Ghosh told The Statesman over phone from Kolkata that they decided to withdrew their cease work and sit-in demonstration programmes that are scheduled to start afresh from 26 December in the UBKV's Pundibari campus.


Reacting over the development the reinstated registrar, Dr Sarkar said from his Kalyani residence that the VC's order was illegal and it was proved today. "By issuing an order the VC had removed me without showing any cause", he said. He thanked all concerned for standing by him during the last twenty stormy days. []  

Youth League's allegation against DYFI


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 24: Cooch Behar district unit of All India Youth League (AIYL) will organise a sit-in demonstration at the district youth welfare office on 10 January to stage protest against misappropriation of funds in the name of youth festival.


District AIYL secretary Mr Gopal Dey alleged that functioning of the youth welfare department is going on following the diktat of the CPI-M. The leaders of youth and student wings of the CPI-M – SFI and DYFI - are engaged in misappropriating of funds in the name of organising youth festivals. Not only the CPI-M affiliated organisations but also all youth organisations should get opportunities to participate in the festival. A certain political party should not be allowed to brandish its stick over others, he opined.


Denying the allegations raised by the AIYL, the district unit secretary of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) Mr Mahananda Saha said, "Our members participate in the youth festival following invitations made by the officials concerned. The AIYL are also invited but if they fail to participate the blame should not be passed on us." The allegation of involvement of DYFI members in misappropriation of funds is baseless and raised only to malign the image of DYFI and SFI, Mr Saha said.


Not only in youth welfare department, the CPI-M is controlling the functioning of police stations too. Practice of extortion is still going on uninterruptedly in Cooch Behar district, the AIYL leader alleged. The police must act impartially. "We are getting ready to organise massive movements against corruption of police and other social evils", Mr Dey declared.


The AIYL leader demanded that the Cooch Behar Airport should be named after the late Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha and the Cooch Behar Stadium in the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. []

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Friday, 21 December 2007

Silence Zone plan to attract migratory birds to Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 21: A proposal to declare Sagardighi and its surrounding area as a silence zone is under consideration of Cooch Behar district administration. The beautiful Sagardighi is a large pond that was dug in the regime of Maharajas as a source of drinking water. Major government offices and courts are situated on its banks. Migratory birds too prefer the large waterbed of Sagardighi in winter. But their number started decreasing for the past few years. As it is located centrally in the town the noise of motor vehicles, loudspeakers and crowd is making the place aloof for the winged guests, environmentalists believe.


Secretary of Nature and Adventure Study Group (NASG), Mr Arup Guha said the migratory birds started coming to Sagardighi since 1980. At the earlier days locals killed many of them to get meat. Later, it was stopped with active co-operation of the administration. A ban was imposed on killing of the guest birds. The act resulted into boost of their coming to this area.


Observing the decrease in number of the birds a few years ago the NASG had submitted a proposal to the administrative authorities to consider declaring the vicinity of Sagardighi a silence zone. Horn of motor vehicles, public gatherings and use of loudspeakers on the banks of the pond and practice of swimming and fishing in its water made the situation unbearable for the birds and they started disliking the place, Mr Guha said.


During construction of a new stadium at nearby Cooch Behar Palace complex a few old rain-trees were uprooted. These trees were the shelters of the migratory birds during the nights. Fishing from the pond also made the situation difficult for the birds because those fishes were their foods, Mr Guha said.


The NASG secretary opined that it is impossible to boost the tourism in this region without the migratory birds. Visitors get delighted to see them. But, government vigilance and strict measures needed to keep these winged guests here. At Rasik-bil in Tufanganj too the number of these guests are decreasing due to lack of fish in the water-body, he claimed.


Some of the migratory birds that come to Sagardighi are identified as Lesser Whistling Piel and Mallard. They come from far away Siberia. This year a very small flock of them came to Sagardighi. Mr Guha fears that in near future no bird may come here if necessary measures are not taken soon.


Cooch Behar ADM (D), Mr Pannalal Mahapatra said they are considering the proposal to declare the Sagardighi area as a silence zone to retain the presence of the seasonal guests. []

Junior partners of Left Front unhappy


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 21: Forward Bloc's recently declared 'go it alone' policy that is to be exercised during the next three-tier panchayat elections appeared as an icebreaker to the other partners of the Left Front in Cooch Behar district. Not only the grass-root level supporters of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) but also senior leaders of these two parties came out to criticise the 'autocratic' role of the CPI-M in functioning of the Left Front in this district.


The RSP had bagged three gram panchayat seats in the last three-tier panchayat elections though the Left Front allotted two seats only to the party. Secretary of the Cooch Behar district unit of RSP, Mr Narayan Deb alleged that a total Left Front unity in its true sense was never attained in this district due to the CPI-M's big brotherly attitude.


Mr Deb claimed that the RSP has sufficient organisational strength in Tufanganj, Dinhata and a few areas in Cooch Behar Sadar sub-divisions. But the CPI-M never allowed them to field candidates in these areas. In the name of Left Front unity the RSP is allotted with two seats only but they (both the CPI-M and the Forward Bloc) have a tendency to field ghost candidates against the RSP's official candidates.


Aggrieved with the situation the RSP had to fight alone in the last rural polls though they did not declared it officially. "There is no Left Front unity in this district. It is only a bilateral understanding between the CPI-M and the Forward Bloc. The two parties take decisions and that are passed as decisions of Left Front. We cannot accept such decisions as Left Front's", the RSP leader said. "Left Front unity turned a farce here", he opined. This time, the district unit of RSP is yet to adopt a stance. It will be declared after discussing the matter with the party's state leadership, Mr Deb added.


The CPI too came down heavily on the Left Front and its major partner CPI-M. The secretary of Cooch Behar district unit of CPI, Mr Surath Chakraborty alleged that total Left Front unity was never occurred in this district though it was expected. "We have eight gram panchayat members and two Panchayat Samity members", he said. Referring the situation that came up after declaration of the Forward Bloc's 'go it alone' policy the CPI leader said they will make their standpoint clear after discussing it with state leadership. The issue will be raised in the party's state conference too, Mr Chakraborty said.


In the political report that was tabled at the party's recently held district conference it was alleged that in the last three-tier panchayat polls the CPI-M and Forward Bloc had defeated their candidates by fielding ghost candidates at several places where the CPI fielded their candidates following Left Front guideline.


The relation of CPI-M and Forward Bloc turned strained after the last Assembly election. It is harming the Left Front's image. After the Assembly poll Left Front meeting was held only once to review the poll results. Bipartite meetings were held several times but it cannot strengthen the Left Front as a whole, the report said.


Criticising the role of Left Front the CPI leader mentioned that when emphasis should be given on unity there is a tendency to ignore the smaller partners instead. Meetings of Left Front are never arranged at sub-division level, not to say about panchayat level. It is possible to avoid many unwanted happenings if there is an opportunity to discuss these issues at Left Front meetings. Regular meetings of Left Front are needed for this, Mr Chakraborty said. []

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Cooch Behar Municipality to end water crisis by Italian help


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 20: The water crisis in this heritage town is going to be a thing of past. Thanks to the financial assistance extended by the Italian government. The Cooch Behar Municipality is to construct nine overhead water reservoirs to ensure regular water supply to the citizens. The civic body is to get an Italian assistance to the tune of Rs 14-crore to implement the ambitious plan.


Chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality Mr Biren Kundu said they are going to add nine overhead reservoirs in the town. Presently, there are only two that are in working condition. Another two are under construction. As the citizens have to suffer from inadequate supply of water especially during the summer months the civic body will erect additional reservoirs to draw an end to the problem.


Not only overhead reservoirs but also water treatment plants like chlorinating plant and iron removal plant will be installed. There will be a surface water treatment plant. In this plant water lifted from adjacent Torsa river will be scientifically treated to make it usable. These schemes may better the existing situation of water supply facility in the town, the chairman hoped.


With a fund of Rs 8.49-crore received from Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) 632 houses will be constructed in the slums fitted will all civic facilities like roads, drains and toilets. There are twenty-five slums in this town except in Ward No. 7 and 14. Under Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) programme sanitary toilets will be offered to all. The aim behind the plan is to make the town free from service privies (khata paikhana) to ensure a pollution free environment.


Mr Kundu promised that they are eager to build up housing estates for all Harijans of the town to ensure shelters to each of them. IHSDP or IDSMT funds may not be available for implementation of this plan. So, a proposal is being sent to the Central government urging them to extend adequate assistance. "We will request the Union minister Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munsi to take an initiative so that the proposal approved", the chairman said. []

CPI-M reacts over FB's 'go alone' plan


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 20: The CPI-M is apparently unshaken following the threat of Forward Bloc's 'go alone' policy. They evaluated the FB's policy as a 'no profit no gain' one for the Left Front.


Yesterday, Forward Bloc's newly elected Cooch Behar district secretary Mr Udayan Guha declared that they would go alone in the ensuing three-tier panchayat elections. The decision was adopted in their recently held district conference to honour the wishes of their grass-root level supporters. Mr Guha, also a state committee member of Forward Bloc had claimed that they already got the green signal from the state unit of their party.


Reacting to the FB's decision the district unit secretary of CPI-M and also the convenor of district Left Front, Mr Chandi Pal said today that the decision is not a new one for the Forward Bloc. It will not be able to affect the CPI-M or the Left Front. "We may feel good if they stay with us because all the Left Front constituent parties except the Forward Bloc are with us", he claimed.


Commenting over the statement of the district FB secretary that they are trying to shun the association of anti-socials like Mr Binay Konar, the district CPI-M secretary said the people are to judge who is anti-social and who is not. Mr Guha is not the judge of any court. He is no one to describe anyone as anti-social. The people will decide it in the elections, he said.


Yesterday, Mr Guha had declared that they would field candidates in the seats considering their organisational strength in the areas concerned. In other seats they will act according to the situation. Mr Pal took it as a point to attack and said, it means they do not have adequate strength to field candidates in all seats. "We can field candidates in all the seats in this district and we may do so if necessary", he said.


Mr Guha had clarified that by their 'go alone' policy they are not going to weaken the Left Front. "We will stay in the Left Front but at the same time we will stage protest against the autocratic policy of the CPI-M to keep the LF on the right track", he said. The CPI-M leader, Mr Pal too wants them to stay in the front. "No one should held us responsible if the Forward Bloc leaves the Left Front to go alone", he said. "We are not going to drive them out but they may know where the door is", he added.


Mentionworthy, the Forward Bloc had decided not to participate in Left Front programmes after defeat of its two candidates in this district in the last Assembly elections – at Dinhata and Sitai. They had held the CPI-M responsible for the defeats. After demise of the then district secretary of Forward Bloc, Kamal Guha, the differences started narrowing. At last, at a meeting of the Left front the two parties had agreed to work jointly once again. But, following demands from grass root level supporters the FB had to change its line again and it got back to the earlier stance of confrontation with the CPI-M by remaining in the Left Front. []

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Five in-laws punished


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 19: Additional district judge Md Amjad Hossain today sentenced seven years to ten years rigorous imprisonment to a husband and four in-laws of a housewife who had to commit suicide in 2004 within six months after her marriage.


It was learnt from court sources that Mithu Saha, sister of one Bimal Saha of Shyamaprasad Colony was married off with Amitava Saha of Khagrabari in 2003. Adequate dowry was handed over during the marriage but the girl had to suffer tortures, both physically and mentally, in her in-laws' house since the wedding. At last she committed suicide on 16 March 2004 by consuming poison.


Following the incident Bimal Saha lodged a complaint at Cooch Behar Kotowali police station against his sister's husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and two brother-in-laws. In that case the judge at the Fast Track First Court convicted the accused five. Mr Ajay Guha Neogi was on the government in this case.


Today the judge sentenced ten years rigorous imprisonment to the husband and slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 under section 306 IPC. In default he will have to suffer for an additional two years behind the bars. The judge also ordered three years RI to him under section 498A IPC. The father-in-law, Nikhil Saha and remaining others were sentenced with RI for seven years and they will have to pay Rs 5,000 as fine under section 306 IPC. Under section 498A they were also sentenced with two years imprisonment. All the punishments will go on concurrently, court sources said. []


Forward Bloc to follow Kamal's footsteps


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 19: In the Cooch Behar district conference of Forward Bloc that was held on 1-3 December it was declared that, if necessary, the party may go alone in the panchayat elections. Now the state unit of the party too adopted the same line and it made the Cooch Behar district unit happy, said the newly elected secretary of district Forward Bloc, Mr Udayan Guha. "Now we have no hesitation to go alone in the ensuing panchayat polls without making any alliance with the CPI-M", he said.


In his first press meet after being elected secretary Mr Guha said a large number of Forward Bloc supporters will participate in the Nandigram Chalo (march to Nandigram) programme on 23 December following the call of state FB secretary Mr Ashok Ghosh. Campaign already started in all the block areas to make the programme a success, he said.


Mr Guha said they are trying to shun the association of anti-socials (read CPI-M) as far as possible. "Observing activities and utterances of some people like Mr Binay Konar we are considering them as anti-socials", he said. But he denied naming any specific CPI-M leader of this district.


Replying a question on participation in Left Front programmes in Cooch Behar district he said they would consider it after reviewing the issues. They are not in a mood to participate in programmes that are decided by CPI-M alone. Not solo decisions but joint decisions are to be considered as actual Left Front's decision, he clarified.


Mentionworthy, the Forward Bloc had decided not to participate in Left Front programmes after defeat of its two candidates in this district in the last Assembly elections. They had held the CPI-M responsible for the defeats. After demise of Kamal Guha the differences started narrowing and at last at a meeting of the Left front the two parties agreed to work jointly once again. But, following demands from grass root level supporters the FB had to change its line and it got back to the earlier line of confrontation with the CPI-M by remaining in the Left Front.


Mr Guha declared that in the rural polls they would field candidates in the seats where their organisational strength is good. In other seats they will act according to the situation. At the same time he made it clear that they will not do anything that weakens the Left Front. This policy is a clear sign that Junior Guha is ready to toe on his late father, the heavyweight Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha. []


GCPA case hearing


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 19: The hearing of a case connected with the movement of The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) was nullified today at the court of District and Sessions Judge, Ms Anindita Roy Saraswati. As two witnesses failed to appear in the court the judge fixed 14 January as the next date of hearing. Out of forty-four accused forty-one were produced at the court.


The hearing of two cases against seventeen GCPA men was set aside on yesterday too at the same court because of similar reason. The lawyer of GCPA, Mr Shibendra Nath Roy said seventeen accused including GCPA leader Mr Bangshi Badan Barman were produced in the court that was held inside Cooch Behar District Correctional Home yesterday. Public Prosecutor Mr Ganesh Chandra Roy Karmakar was on the government side.


Today's case against GCPA men is related with murder of two policemen. Yesterday's two cases were related with damaging of government property and bid to blaze a petrol pump. The incidents occurred during a movement of GCPA dated back on 20 September 2005. []


Renovated Brahma Mandir to attract visitors


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 19: Renovation of the age old Brahma Mandir is nearing to completion. A beautiful children's park and an art gallery are also coming up at the complex. There is a plan to establish a statue of Maharani Sunity Devi at the complex. If all go well the complex will be opened for the citizens in February, said the chairman of Cooch Behar Municipality Mr Biren Kundu. Union minister Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munsi is expected to inaugurate the renovated Brahma Mandir, he said.


Brahma Mandir is situated near the crossing of Keshav Road and Sunity Road in Cooch Behar town. The then rulers of princely state of Cooch Behar had established it in 1886. The building was ruining and on the verge of demolition due to lack of maintenance. The temple has endured years' of neglect and decay. Things came to such a pass that the temple, which was virtually reduced to a god-forsaken place, came to be ruled by anti-socials. At last, in 2001, the renovation work started and Cooch Behar Municipality was entrusted to do the job.


As the temple has a rich tradition and very much a part of Cooch Behar's history the main idea behind the repair work is to ensure that the basic structure and look is restored.


In 1878, the marriage of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan with Sunity Devi, the elder daughter of Keshav Chandra Sen sparked off a controversy. Sen was a leading luminary of the Brahma Samaj. Following the marriage the Brahma Samaj eventually faced a vertical split. Navabidhan Brahma Samaj was how the Sen led faction came to be known as. Finally, as per wish of the Queen, Brahma became the official religion of Cooch Behar. Congregations and prayers were being held regularly at the Brahma Mandir, which was built in 1886 at a cost of Rs 16,000.


Gajendra Narayan, who married Savitri Devi, the sister of Sunity Devi, was the founder secretary. The others who became secretaries included Prince Victor Nityendra Narayan, son of Sunity Devi, Manorathdhan Dey, Kedarnath Mukhopadhyay and Binit Kumar Mukhopadhyay. There was a beautiful tower, which was destroyed following an earthquake in 1897. It was not restored since.


Former Cooch Behar MP, Mr Amar Roy Pradhan had extended the fund for renovation of the temple. Cooch Behar Municipality is also spending from its own fund to build up the children' park and the art gallery. Already, an English medium school (Nivedita Academy) run by the civic body started functioning at the complex.


Alongwith the garden with seasonal flowers two large sized concrete-made Dinosaurs, a deer and a few rides are there to amuse the children. Water fountain and a cave are also coming up to add attraction. A little sum may be collected from the visitors as service tax to maintain the facilities, the Cooch Behar Municipality chairman Mr Kundu said. []


UBKV stir


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 19: Sit-in demonstration and cease work at the offices of Pundibari campus of UBKV will start afresh from 26 December. Secretary of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya unit of University Officers' Association Dr Mrigendra Ghosh said the as per earlier decision there will be holidays from 20 to 25 December at the university. After that they will intensify their agitation. Dr Ghosh declared that till withdrawal of the 'illegal' dismissal order that was issued by the vice-chancellor to the registrar the agitational programmes would continue in the UBKV as before. []

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

GCPA case hearing


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 18: The hearing of two cases related to the movement of The Greater Cooch Behar People's Association (GCPA) was differed today at the court of District and Sessions Judge, Ms Anindita Roy Saraswati. As two witnesses failed to appear in the court the judge fixed 14 January as the next date of hearing.


The lawyer of GCPA, Mr Shibendra Nath Roy said seventeen accused including GCPA leader Mr Bangshi Badan Barman were produced in the court that was held inside Cooch Behar District Correctional Home today. Public Prosecutor Mr Ganesh Chandra Roy Karmakar was on the government side.


The two cases against GCPA men are related with damaging of government property and bid to blaze a petrol pump. The incidents occurred during a movement of GCPA dated back on 20 September 2005. []


Power demonstration


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 18: Members of All Bengal Electricity Consumers' Association (ABECA) organised a demonstration at the office of West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) in Cooch Behar today. They were demanding withdrawal of the order to collect arrear bills from the consumers for the last three years. Submitting a memorandum they also demanded an end of regular power cut. []


Govt employees' state meet ends


COOCH BEHAR, Dec. 18: The four-day state conference of Joint Council of the State Government Employees' Associations and Unions (popularly known as Joint Council) was concluded at Alipurduar yesterday. Mr Ranajit Roy and Mr Kuntal Kanti Mandal were re-elected as president and general secretary in the newly constituted 72-member central committee. []