Wednesday, 30 April 2008

PANCHAYAT ELECTION

Cong hopeful in Cooch Behar to pull down the CPM from power

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 30: Congress is hopeful about a good performance in Cooch Behar district in the three-tier panchayat elections. They are even hopeful about getting seven out of twenty-nine Zilla Parishad seats.

 

Congress has 166 Gram Panchayat seats and 27 Panchayat Samiti seats in Cooch Behar district. Nine Gram Panchayats are under their control. Three to four times increase may happen this time, they believe. And, to encourage the Congress workers heavyweight leaders like Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munsi, Mr Subrata Mukherjee, Mr Somen Mitra and Dr Manas Bhuiyan are to come for campaigning.

 

President of Cooch Behar District Congress, Mr Shyamal Choudhury pointed out that the CPI-M is not in a good position. They got no seat uncontested in the three tiers – Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad. 1:1 fight will be held in 488 GP seats and 94 PS seats. In this perspective it is clear that the CPI-M will have to face tough time to retain its seats. "We shall snatch many seats from the CPI-M", he said.

 

Mr Choudhury believes that the people are turning their faces from the CPI-M and so it may be difficult for the CPI-M to win in the seats they are contesting. The Left Front partners like the Forward Bloc, The CPI and the RSP too fielded candidates against the CPI-M candidates. The total number of Left Front candidates is much more than the total seats. On the otherhand, the total number of Congress and Trinamul Congress is within the limit compared to the total seats, he mentioned.

 

The Congress leader admitted that Mahajots (grand alliances) came up at local levels without asking for approvals from district leaderships of the concerned parties. Aggrieved rural people formed such Mahajots to evict out the CPI-M from power. The BJP, the Trinamul Congress and even the leftists too joined in the Mahajots. In this background the Congress candidates have prospects at Cooch Behar-I, Cooch Behar-II, Dinhata-I, Sitai, Haldibari and Mekhliganj, he observed.

 

During poll campaign the Congress is pointing its spearhead to the ruling party for its failure in implementing the NREGA scheme transparently. Mr Choudhury alleged that funds allotted by the Centre are being returned unused. The villagers are yet to know what they can get from Central schemes. Corruption in NREGA schemes, Indira Awas Yojana and other developmental programmes is increasing. Fifty percent of the villages are yet to get power connection. Twelve-hour power cut is also a daily affair in the rural area. Congress is highlighting these in campaigns, he said.

 

Mr Choudhury alleged that the CPI-M is trying to get votes by terrorising voters. Already a Congress candidate was murdered. Political atrocity is a daily affair in areas like Mansai, Nakkatigachh, Chandamari, Putimari and Patchhara. But this time the voters are not in a mood to obey the dictat of the ruling party, he opined. []

 

PHOTO : Cooch Behar district Congress president Mr Shyamal Choudhury. - DB

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Rally in Cooch Behar demanding exchange of chhitmahals

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 29: Deprived residents of different chhitmahals (enclaves) took out a procession in Cooch Behar town today. They demanded exchange of chhitmahals between India and Bangladesh and basic amenities for the residents. They also submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate.

 

A few hundred people from different chhitmahals assembled in the town today and went to the district magistrate to submit a memorandum containing their demands. General secretary of Bharat-Bangladesh Enclaves Exchange Co-ordination Committee, Mr Dipak Sengupta said the enclaves of the two neighbouring countries should be exchanged by implementing the Indira-Mujib treaty.

 

Mr Sengupta, an ex-MLA, alleged that the residents of the enclaves of both the countries have no valid citizenship. They are deprived of all humane amenities including education and health service. They were never covered in any census and never got the opportunity to vote. In a whole their life in the chhitmahals is unbearable and inhumane. They have no right to enter into the mainland of the country concerned, he added. At the time of handover of Tinbigha corridor to Bangladesh it was assured that enclaves of both countries will be exchanged to draw an end to the plight of the residents concerned but that is yet to be implemented, he added.

 

Mentionworthy, chhitmahal of a country is a strip of land situated in other country. It is difficult for a resident of a chhitmahal to come to the mainland of the country concerned because it surrounded by lands of other country. There are 126 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh territory and 93 Bangladeshi enclaves in Indian territory. It was decided in high-level meetings that 111 Indian enclaves and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves are exchangeable.

 

A researcher on chhitmahals of the region, Mr Debabrata Chaki demanded that the Indian government should ensure the interests of the residents of Indian enclaves during exchange of the enclaves between the two countries.

 

Today, among the people who came to participate in the rally claimed themselves as Bangladeshis during talks with media persons. When asked about it, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar, Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha denied making any comment over it. He said the enclave residents submitted a memorandum to him demanding basic amenities including power supply. "I shall convey their demands to the government", he added. []

Closed tea estate reopens

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 29: Bharnabari tea estate in Kalchini of Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri reopened yesterday. It was a closed one since 30 December 2005. News of reopening of the tea garden brought joy to the labourers of the garden.

 

It was learned that three entrepreneurs jointly took over the tea estate. There were about 1,900 workers in this tea estate. Already, a few allegedly died of malnutrition or other ailments and some left the garden to seek jobs elsewhere.

 

A trade union leader and also a minister of state, Mr Manohar Tirkey believes that there is no fear for lay-off of any worker in the reopened tea garden. The new management too expressed hope that the garden may revive its old glory in producing of good quality tea. []

 

Rescued tiger dies at rescue centre

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 29: A full grown Royal Bengal Tiger named Raju (16) died yesterday at the Tiger Rescue Centre at Dakshin Khayerbari in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri. It was not taking any food for the last few days. On being informed, the chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Mr Sampat Sing Bist and other senior forest officials rushed to the spot. Post-mortem of the tiger's body was also done on the same evening. The forest officials are yet to ascertain whether it died of advanced age or of tuberculosis.

 

It may be mentioned here that the Tiger Rescue Centre was established to rehabilitate rescued and confiscated tigers from circuses as use of some scheduled animals is prohibited in circuses. The then forest minister Mr Jogesh Chandra Barman had inaugurated the facility on 25 November 2005. Initially there were nineteen rescued tigers. Four were sent to the zoo in Darjeeling, four including Raju died and now there are eleven tigers only in the rescue centre.

 

There is an allegation that the rescued Royal Bengal Tigers have to suffer from tuberculosis and other ailments due to lack of natural environment and facilities needed for them at the enclosure of the TRC. Inadequate number of trees and bushes also made the situation worse. For any medical help the authorities have to depend on the lone veterinary doctor of Jaldapara sanctuary. No survey was done yet to know the reasons why the tigers are suffering from tuberculosis and other diseases. Forest officials however were found reluctant to comment over the allegations. []

Monday, 28 April 2008

Chakchaka : 'GP No. One' in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 28: After taking oath as the pradhan of Chakchaka Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar-II block on 10 July 2003, Mr Abani Mohan Das decided emphasising on health, education and loyalty to rules and norms laid down by the government. He was not a born politician but a man of cultural world. Song and music were his first love. But, as a pradhan he proved his worth and made Chakchaka the GP No. 1 in Cooch Behar.

 

Q: What you think is your best achievement?

 

Mr Das: We received the Nirmal Gram Puraskar from the President of the country, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on 4 May 2007 'on attaining full sanitation coverage in households, schools, Anganwadis, etc and for outstanding contribution in promotion of rural sanitation' in Chakchaka Gram Panchayat.

 

Q: How you turned all the twelve villages under your Chakchaka GP fully sanitised?

 

Mr Das: It was not easy at all. We made it mandatory for all residents of this GP to ensure that there were sanitary toilets in their dwellings and they use those. To get any certificates or facilities from the panchayat office they must satisfy us. We are still following this procedure. We did graffiti on walls and intensive campaign on sanitation. Sanitary toilet facility was extended to 17 primary schools, two high schools and 27 Anganwadi centres. We also provide disinfectants like phenyl to schools. To make the environment clean in Chakchaka Industrial Growth Centre complex we took up social forestry scheme and planted more than 25,000 trees at Chapaguri. We did all these with our own fund collected from our own resources.

 

Q: What are your other outstanding performances?

 

Mr Das: One of our priority sectors is health. There are five subsidiary health centres in our GP. We also launched a head sub-centre in a new building. It is first of its kind in the district. We provided weighing machines, blood pressure checking instruments and all necessary facilities to the sub-centres. We also launched a free homeopathic dispensary.

 

Q: What about education?

 

Mr Das: We set up six Shishu Shiksha Kendras for students of Class-I to Class-IV and one Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra for dropouts. We regularly visit all the schools to see that the students cut their nails. We distributed nail cutters to the schools to grow a healthy habit among the children. We also erected midday meal kitchen sheds to all the primary schools, SSKs and MSKs.

 

Q: What did you do to ensure supply of water to the villagers?

 

Mr Das: We sank 19 deep tubewells. Piped water supply was introduced in a major portion of the GP but remaining areas are yet to be covered. To ensure pure drinking water we implemented an Rs 20-lakh Sajaldhara scheme which is waiting for power connection to start functioning.

 

Q: How you feel as a successful pradhan?

 

Mr Das: Nothing succeeds like success. We became the first GP in the state following the self-evaluation programme in 2005-06. We were awarded with Rs 3.5-lakh as prize. We hope that we will do it again for the year 2006-07. The commissioner of state panchayat affairs, the chairman of state finance commission and the chairman of Assam state finance commission visited our GP and praised us for functioning it properly. They also praised our initiative to maintain the Nirmal Gram title. We are proud of all these.

 

Q: Are you contesting this time?

 

Mr Das: No. Recently I became the secretary of the CPI-M's local unit. According to party guideline a secretary should not be an elected public representative. Moreover, chair of the pradhan of this GP turned reserved for a woman candidate.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Left Front unity : Cooch Behar style

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 27: The much-publicised unity of the Left front was not reflected in the latest official report on contesting candidates in Cooch Behar district.

 

After withdrawal of nominations the district panchayat election officer prepared a report on party-wise break-up of total number of candidates. According to this report the CPI-M candidates are contesting in 1,464 Gram Panchayat seats out of total 1,668 seats. The number of the Forward Bloc's contesting candidates is 810 while the CPI and RSP candidates are contesting in 18 and 42 seats.

 

In Panchayat Samiti tier the total number of seats is 353 in 12 blocks. Here the CPI-M is contesting in 316 seats. The Forward Bloc, the CPI and the RSP fielded candidates in 180, 4 and 10 seats respectively.

 

In the prestigious Zilla Parishad tier, the CPI-M candidates are contesting in 20 seats while the Forward Bloc and the RSP fielded candidates in 11 and 3 seats. The major difference among the Left front partners came up during sharing of seats in the Zilla Parishad tier. The Forward Bloc and the CPI-M failed to reach to an understanding over two seats in total 29 seats. These are Bhetaguri and Chandamari.

 

From the very beginning the RSP was a claimant of at least one ZP seat but they failed to convince the Left Front (read CPI-M) to allot the demanded seat. Getting aggrieved they fielded three candidates in ZP seats in Dinhata, Tufanganj and Mekhliganj sub-divisions. The CPI however rolled back from its demand for a ZP seat.

 

Today, secretary of district CPI, Mr Surath Chakraborty alleged that they fielded candidates in Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti tiers only and fielded no candidate in any Zilla Parishad seat following the decision of the Left Front but no other party but the CPI-M violated the decision by placing ghost candidates in the seats allotted to the CPI. It is nothing but an act of treachery. Condemning the CPI-M he said such act couldn't strengthen the unity of the Left Front. CPI-M sources however denied that they fielded ghost candidates against the CPI candidates.

 

On the otherhand, district CPI-M secretary and Left Front convenor, Mr Chandi Pal observed that the RSP lacks adequate organisational base in this district to win even in Gram Panchayat seats. Hence, they should not dream to be elected in ZP seats. For the greater interest of the Left Front unity it was expected that they might withdraw their candidates, he opined.

 

Mr Pal claimed that the RSP representative had agreed at the last LF meet that they will lift their candidates and a united decision was also taken to that effect. "Their changing of stand defying the Left Front's decision is unfortunate." At the same time the CPI-M leader opined that the district RSP leadership sans healthy political policy and ideals. []

Saturday, 26 April 2008

VICTOR PALACE

Victor Palace, a dilapidated heritage building situated on the west bank of Sagardighi in Cooch Behar town of West Bengal, is being renovated with a fund of Rs 75-lakh that was sanctioned by the Union government in 2005. After thorough renovation it is likely to turn into a tourist lodge. The palace was named after Prince Victor Nityendra Narayan. His parents - Maharaja Nripendra Narayan and Maharani Sunity Devi – are considered the founders of modern Cooch Behar. After the merger of the erstwhile princely state of Cooch Behar with Union of India and its transformation as a district of West Bengal in 1950, the government took over the properties and palaces of the erstwhile rulers.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Row over Cong candidate's death

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 24: Allegations and counter allegations started between the Congress and the CPI-M over the 'mysterious' death of one Gram Panchayat candidate of Congress.

 

The Congress candidate at Mansai-139 booth, Hossain Ali (52) was found dead inside his room at Barokodali-II GP under Baxirhat police station this morning. His son, Md Mobarak Ali suspects that his father was strangled to death with a pillow. The local GP pradhan Subodh Sarkar (CPI-M) was behind the crime, he suspected.

 

District Congress working president Mr Biren Kundu alleged that it was a case of planned murder. The CPI-M committed it to demoralise the Congress supporters prior to the panchayat elections, he alleged. On the otherhand, secretary of Baxirhat Zonal Committee of the CPI-M, Mr Dhananjay Rava said that the Congress is trying to politicise a natural death to earn mileage in the polls. Meanwhile, Baxirhat police sent the body for post-mortem. Police denied commenting whether it was a case of murder or a natural death. []

Life term to killer son

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 24: The additional district and sessions judge of Cooch Behar fast track first court, Mr Prasun Bhattacharya today sentenced a man for life term for murdering his mother.

 

Court sources said that following a family feud one Ajit Barman had hacked his mother Sumitra Barman (52) to death with a sharp daao and a spade at their residence at Rampur village under Baxirhat police station on 15 October 2006. Police started a case following a complaint lodged by the victim's other son, Mrinal Barman. Conducting an inquiry into the incident the police submitted a chargesheet against the accused. During the legal process 14 witnesses were examined in the court.

 

Today, the judge, Mr Prasun Bhattacharya ordered the accused of imprisonment for life and slapped a fine of Rs 5,000. In default of submitting the fined amount he will have to suffer an additional one-year behind the bars. []

RSP sticks to its stand to contest in ZP seats.

                       CPM says 'unfortunate and anti-LF stand'.

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 24: The RSP will not withdraw its candidates in Cooch Behar. The decision was adopted in the party's district secretariat meeting held on Wednesday night. The meeting was held in presence of the party's state committee member Mr Binay Chakraborty. District RSP secretary Mr Gopal Chaki, Mr Ranajit Deb, Mr Narayan Deb and other district secretariat members attended the meet and approved the decision.

 

It was decided that the RSP would contest in three Zilla Parishad seats, thirty Gram Panchayat seats and seven Panchayat Samiti seats, a secretariat member of the party, Mr Ranajit Deb said.

 

It may be mentioned here that the RSP had filed nominations for three ZP seats – Tufanganj-II, Dinhata-II and Haldibari. In total 29 seats in the Zilla Parishad tier the CPI-M took 18 and the Forward Bloc 9. Two seats are still lying as disputed ones between the CPI-M and the FB. No ZP seats were allotted to other LF parties like CPI and RSP.

 

A meeting of the district Left Front was held on Monday. After that meeting the district Left Front convenor and the district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal had said that the RSP agreed to withdraw its three ZP candidates in the greater interest of Left Front unity. The RSP and other LF partners agreed to maintain LF unity during the election process, he had claimed.

 

Today, the district RSP secretary Mr Gopal Chaki said, it was decided at the left Front's 14 April meet that all local LF leaders will work for achieving total unity at Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity tiers. This process was to be completed by 16 April at sub-divisional level. The LF partners were asked to complete bipartite talks among themselves by that deadline following the Left Front's guideline on seat sharing. But, till today it was not done, Mr Chaki alleged. "In that meeting they requested us to withdraw our candidates but no decision was taken enforcing us to lift our candidates", he said.

 

"Now, we have every right to take an independent decision", Mr Chaki added. "We cannot allow the Left Front to act as a platform shared by CPI-M and Forward Bloc only", he said.

 

On the otherhand, district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal quipped that the RSP lacks adequate strong organisational base to win even in Gram Panchayat seats. Hence, they should not dream to be elected in ZP seats. For the greater interest of the Left Front unity they should withdraw their candidates, he suggested.

 

Mr Pal said the RSP representative had agreed at the LF meet of Monday that they will lift their candidates and a united decision was also taken to that effect. "We must say it unfortunate if they change their stand defying the Left Front's decision." At the same time the CPI-M leader opined that the district RSP leadership sans healthy political policy and ideals. []

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Candidates

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 23: In 1,668 Gram Panchayat seats in Cooch Behar district 5,246 nominations were found valid after scrutiny. In the 353 Panchayat Samiti seats of 12 blocks there are 1,158 valid candidates. At the Zilla Parishad tier there are 29 seats and the number of valid contesting candidates is 179, according to official sources. []

 

CPM-Trinamul clash

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 23: In a clash between the CPI-M and the Trinamul Congress supporters seven persons were wounded at Purba Falimari village under Baxirhat police station on Tuesday night. The violence occurred when the supporters of the two parties were campaigning for the panchayat elections. Police said four persons were arrested in connection with the incident on the same night. []

 

Storm

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 23: A cyclonic storm devastated about 400 dwellings at Kalpani village of Madhupur Gram Panchayat in Cooch Behar-I block at the wee hours of today. The storm also lashed several villages under Premerdanga, Ghoksadanga and Latapata Gram Panchayat areas and ravaged about 600 houses. Relief materials including tarpaulin sheets are being distributed among the affected villagers, a senior official said. []

Rebellion of RSP against LF directive

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 23: Not only the Forward Bloc but also the RSP is not ready to abide by the directive of the CPI-M led Left Front in Cooch Behar district. They had filed nominations in three Zilla Parishad seats though the Left Front allotted them no seat at the ZP tier. District RSP secretary Mr Gopal Chaki said today that they will not withdraw their candidates. He however said that they might discuss the issue at the party's district committee meeting before the last date of withdrawal of nominations.

 

It may be mentioned here that the RSP had filed nominations at three ZP seats – Tufanganj-II, Dinhata-II and Haldibari. In total 29 seats the CPI-M took 18 and the Forward Bloc 9. Two seats are still lying as disputed ones between the CPI-M and the FB. No ZP seats were allotted to other LF parties like CPI and RSP.

 

A meeting of the district Left Front was held on Monday. After that meeting the district Left Front convenor and the district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal had said that the RSP agreed to withdraw its three ZP candidates in the greater interest of Left Front unity. The RSP and other LF partners agreed to maintain LF unity during the election process, he had claimed.

 

Today, the district RSP secretary said, it was decided at the left Front's 14 April meet that all local LF leaders will work for achieving total unity at Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity tiers. This process was to be completed by 16 April at sub-divisional level. The LF partners were asked to complete bipartite talks among themselves by that deadline following the Left Front's guideline on seat sharing. But, till today it was not done, Mr Chaki alleged. "In that meeting they requested us to withdraw our candidates but no decision was taken enforcing us to lift our candidates", he said. "Now, the party will decide its stand at its district committee meeting", Mr Chaki added.

 

On the otherhand, district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal quipped that the RSP has no strong organisational base to win even in Gram Panchayat seats. Hence, they should not dream to be elected in ZP seats. For the greater interest of the Left Front unity they should withdraw their candidates, he suggested. []

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A hawker sells his earthenware in a residential area in Cooch Behar on Tuesday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

PANCHAYAT SPECIAL

Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 22: Falimari Gram Panchayat under Tufanganj block is an underdeveloped area of Cooch Behar district. Since time immemorial this area was lying as a disconnected one from the rest areas of the district. Rivers like Gangadhar and Gadadhar surround it from all sides and so it is impossible for the local residents to keep regular contact with the block and sub-divisional headquarters. As the market, GP office, school and other public facilities are situated on the other side of the river the residents have to face hurdle everyday. A large area of the GP is still waiting to get electrification facility. But, recently, the situation started changing to better.

 

The outgoing sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad Mr Jnanendra Chandra Chanda said a 150-metre long bridge is coming up at Kokuruddiner-ghat over Gadadhar river to end the plight of the villagers. Once completed the Rs 3-crore bridge will be of immense help to the 20,000 people of the area concerned. Mr Chanda believes the initiative to uplift the condition of the GP may be considered as the best effort done by the CZP in its ongoing term.

 

Latapata GP under Mathabhanga-II block is also another example, Mr Chanda said. Bura-Torsa river disconnected this GP from the areas of Cooch Behar Sadar and Mathabhanga sub-divisions. Initiative was taken to construct a 147-metre bridge at Baburkhamar-ghat to make the things easy for the 15,000 residents. Dawaguri is another disconnected area. The Ghargharia river disconnected two villages and so country boat is the only mode of communication in this area. An Rs 46-lakh bridge is coming up here, Mr Chanda added.

 

Mr Chanda claimed that construction of an international truck terminus at Changrabandha in Mekhliganj sub-division is one of the best jobs done by the CZP. Presently work for electrification is going on here. This truck terminus will be able to earn revenue to the tune of at least Rs one-crore annually, he opined.

 

Mr Chanda took over the charge of sabhadhipati on 14 June in 2006 when the previous sabhadhipati Mr Ananta Roy was 'promoted' as the state forest minister. As a few schemes are yet to be implemented he feels shy for that. A plan was adopted to construct a 122-metre bridge over Raidak-I river at Dhalpal but the CZP failed to get adequate fund for its implementation. Plan for another 100-metre bridge over Ghargharia river at Ichhamari-Chapaguri is also lying at the nascent stage. "If the Left Front come back again to power it will maintain the developmental progress that was initiated by the outgoing ZP board", Mr Chanda assured.

 

Mr Chanda is involved in the panchayat system since 1978 as an elected representative but he is not contesting this time because his party, the CPI-M, did not nominate him. The party decided that except under special cases no one would be allowed more than three times to contest, he explained. []

 

PHOTO : The outgoing sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Bandh peaceful in Cooch Behar

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 21: The bandh passed off peacefully in Cooch Behar today. Shops, markets, banks, schools and colleges and almost all offices including courts were found closed. A few government offices were found running with a meagre staff. A few NBSTC buses were on the roads but no lorries and passenger vehicles of private operators came out. Railway service was unaffected. District Trinamul Congress vice-president Mr Niranjan Dutta claimed that 49 of their supporters were arrested during the day from areas like Mathabhanga, Mekhliganj and Cooch Behar. []  

No hope for total LF unity in Cooch Behar,

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 21: Even after the seventh round of bipartite talks the CPI-M and the Forward Bloc failed to reach to an amicable settlement of seat sharing in two Zilla Parishad seats – Bhetaguri and Chandamari. The leaders of the CPI-M and the Forward Bloc sat across the table today to seek a way out from the tangle but failed to yield any result. The situation is still at the stage as it was in the previous meets.

 

District CPI-M secretary and district Left Front convenor Mr Chandi Pal said the block level leaders of both the parties will discuss tomorrow about maintaining of Left Front unity in the panchayat polls. When asked about the difference with the FB over two ZP seats Mr Pal said a 'friendly fight' may take place for the Bhetaguri seat but the FB has no right to claim the Chandamari seat because the CPI-M candidate won this seat in the previous election. "The Forward Bloc wants us to give them the Chandamari seat instead of theirs Choudhurihat seat. We cannot agree with this proposal", he said.

 

On the otherhand, the district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha said the CPI-M's claim over the Bhetaguri seat is unjustified. Replying a question on 'friendly fight' in the two ZP seats Mr Guha said that when a fight starts that never stays limited as 'friendly'. It may take the shape, as a fight should. He also mentioned that they identified a few independent candidates as the CPI-M's and asked the CPI-M to take action against those ghost candidates. He made it clear that they will wait till 25 April for the CPI-M to take measure against the shadow candidates and then the Forward Bloc will decide its future plans.

 

A meeting of the district Left Front was also held on today afternoon. In the meeting it was decided that the Left Front partners would fight jointly against the opposition parties in the 27 Zilla Parishad seats following Left Front guideline, said Mr Chandi Pal. In the remaining two ZP seats efforts will continue to minimise the differences. In the meeting the RSP agreed to withdraw its three ZP candidates in the greater interest of Left Front unity, Mr Pal said. The LF partners also agreed to work to maintain LF unity during the election process, the district LF convenor claimed. []

 

Shahid Divas

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 21: Leaving their differences, the CPI-M, the Forward Bloc, the SUCI and other leftist parties and organisations paid floral homage at the Martyrs' Column at Shahid Baag on the south bank of Sagardighi today. This day is observed as Shadid Divas in Cooch Behar to pay respect to the five martyrs who were killed in police firing during the historic food movement on 21 April in 1952. []

 

PHOTO : The martyrs' column at Shahid Baag in Cooch Behar on Monday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

PANCHAYAT ELECTION

Nominations indicate no Left Front unity in Cooch Behar

  

COOCH BEHAR, April 20: Examining the official report prepared after filing of nominations for the three-tier panchayat elections it became clear to all that attaining of a total Left Front unity is still a distant dream in this district. The real picture of the LF unity came out on the last date of filing of nominations, yesterday. It will be even clearer on the last date of withdrawal of nominations on Thursday.

 

As the Forward Bloc and the CPI-M failed to reach to a consensus over sharing of the 29 seats in the Zilla Parishad tier, the FB and the CPI-M were at their liberty to file nominations in the disputed seats. Both the parties had agreed to contest jointly in twenty-seven ZP seats. According to bipartite decision the CPI-M was allotted with 18 seats in the Zilla Parishad tier and the Forward Bloc got nine seats, but they are yet to decide about the fate of remaining two seats claimed by the FB – Bhetaguri-Putimari and Chandamari.

 

Forward Bloc's Ms Manira Chisti had filed her nomination for Bhetaguri-Putimari seat and Mr Gajen Roy for Chandamari seat. District FB secretary Mr Udayan Guha said, they might withdraw their additional candidates if they reach to an understanding with the CPI-M in the seventh bipartite meeting to be held tomorrow. The district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal is still hopeful about contesting the rural polls under a united Left Front banner with Forward Bloc and other LF partners.

 

Following official report, the CPI-M filed 34 nominations in the 29 ZP seats while the Forward Bloc submitted 15 nominations. Though not allotted by the Left Front, the RSP submitted three nominations at Tufanganj-II, Dinhata-II and Haldibari. In 1,668 seats of 128 Gram Panchayats the CPI-M submitted 2,163 nominations, the FB 1,149 nominations, the CPI 52 and the RSP 47 nominations. In the 353 seats of 12 Panchayat Samitis the CPI-M, the FB, the CPI and the RSP filed 459, 249, 13 and 12 nominations respectively. []

Friday, 18 April 2008

Rebels file nominations

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 18: As the Forward Bloc and the CPI-M failed to reach to a consensus over sharing of 29 seats in the Zilla Parishad tier, two FB candidates filed nominations for two disputed seats today. Both the parties agreed to contest jointly in 27 ZP seats but they are yet to decide about the fate of remaining two seats – Bhetaguri-Putimari and Chandamari. Today, Ms Manira Chisti filed her nomination for Bhetaguri-Putimari seat and Mr Gajern Roy for Chandamari seat. District FB secretary Mr Udayan Guha said, they might withdraw these two candidates if they reach to an understanding with the CPI-M in the seventh bipartite meeting to be held on 21 April. It may be recalled that the FB yesterday submitted nominations in nine allotted ZP seats. []

3 killed in BSF firing

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 18: Three men, stated to be cattle smugglers, were gunned down by Border Security Force jawans in Mekhliganj in Cooch Behar on Thursday night. The bodies of the three – two Indians and one Bangladeshi - were sent for post-mortem today, said the Mathabhanga SDPO Mr Ananda Roy.

 

When contacted, the officer-in-charge of Mekhliganj police station Mr Prabir Kumar Dey Sarkar said a gang of cattle smugglers were trying to cross the Indo-Bangladesh border near the Border Pillar No. 841 at Basak Para at about 9-15 p.m. last night. When the BSF jawans on patrolling duty challenged them they tried to run away. Three persons were killed when the jawans opened fire. They fired about 18 rounds. The killed three were identified as Ashwini Basak (23) and Amal Basak (25) – both residents of Basak Para and Ainul Haq (30) of Bangladesh. The BSF jawans seized two cattle from the spot. []

 

PHOTO : Mr Justice Narayan Chandra Seal visits the place of occurrence of police firing in Dinhata, Cooch Behar where five Forward Bloc supporters were killed on 5 February. In Dinhata on Friday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

 

PHOTO : Forward Bloc's Zilla Parishad candidate of Bhetaguri-Putimari, Ms Manira Chisti files her nomination at Dinhata SDO office on Friday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

Dinhata firing : Judicial probe started

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 18: The judicial inquiry commission that was constituted by the state government to conduct inquiry into the 5 February police firing occurred at Dinhata started its work from yesterday. The commission headed by an ex-judge of Calcutta High Court, Mr Justice Narayan Chandra Seal visited the Dinhata Court premises today where the firing was taken place on 5 February.

 

Mr Justice Seal visited Dinhata on Friday morning for 'spot verification'. Earlier, he held a meeting with the district magistrate of Cooch Behar yesterday and inquired into the violence that had claimed lives of five Forward Bloc supporters and one NVF jawan.

 

After his Dinhata visit today, Mr Justice Seal said at Cooch Behar Circuit House that a office of the commission will be set up in Cooch Behar for conducting of the probe because there is no adequate infrastructure in Dinhata. This office is necessary here because all the witnesses are local residents. He however failed to mention any certain date from when the hearing and examining the witnesses will begin because the panchayat election is on the corner. "We will try our best to start the work as early as possible after the elections is over", he assured. At the same time he said that preparing of the report on the commission's findings would depend on the number of witnesses that will appear for hearing before the commission.

 

When contacted, district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha said they are not hopeful enough about the outcome of the commission's probe. Today they visited the place of occurrence only. No one, even not the commission knows when the report of its findings will be prepared and submitted, he opined. "We will not be astonished if the report finds its way to the cold-storage for ever" Mr Guha quipped. []

 

PHOTO : Mr Justice Narayan Chandra Seal talks with reporters at the Circuit House in Cooch Behar on Friday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

FB-CPM : No unity in sixth meet

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 17: The CPI-M and the Forward Bloc failed to reach to a consensus over sharing of seats at Zilla Parishad tier even at the sixth round of bipartite talks that was held today. The next round of talks will be held on 21 April. The Cooch Behar district unit of the Forward Bloc announced that they would file nomination papers of their candidates in the disputed seats tomorrow.

 

After the sixth round of bipartite talks the district CPI-M secretary and district Left Front convenor Mr Chandi Pal claimed that they attained remarkable progress to reach to a consensus over seat sharing in the three-tier panchayat elections. In the 27 ZP seats out of total 29 seats they already attained an understanding. Today, Forward Bloc submitted nominations in nine ZP seats and the CPI-M in 17 seats.  Tomorrow the CPI-M will file nomination for the eighteenth seat, Mr Pal said. He said that discussion is going on to attain a consensus in the remaining two seats of Bhetaguri-Putimari and Chandamari.

 

On the otherhand, district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha said they today filed nominations in nine ZP seats. Tomorrow they will file nominations in another two seats. If they can attain unity in the meeting of 21 April they may withdraw these nominations. Mr Guha made it clear that attaining a total unity is very difficult in Cooch Behar district because the process for that started very late.

 

The FB leader said there was many ghost candidates of both the parties against official candidates in the previous rural polls. This time they will try to overcome this problem and for that the local leaders of both the parties are discussing the matter to sort out the problems, Mr Guha said. []

 

PHOTO : Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCDP) president Mr Ashutosh Barma and other leaders check nomination papers of their party's candidates prior to submission to the Cooch Behar Sadar SDO. The party is a proponent of a separate Greater Cooch Behar state. In Cooch Behar on Thursday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

 

BSNL Internet service

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 17: Broadband service of BSNL in Cooch Behar is lying out of order since Monday. The members of the business community and the journalists are the worst sufferers. BSNL officials assured that they are trying to restore the service but no improvement was found till Thursday evening. The Sancharnet and NetOne services are also not functioning well. []

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

New terminal building coming up at Cooch Behar Airport

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 16: Construction work for the Rs 12.5-crore new Terminal Building of Cooch Behar Airport is going on to accommodate fifty incoming and fifty outgoing passengers. The old terminal building that was constructed during the regime of the erstwhile Maharajas has capacity to accommodate twenty incoming and twenty outgoing passengers only. The construction is being done targeting to meet the required demand for the next twenty years.

 

In the recent past the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and the district administration of Cooch Behar announced no certain date for commencement of resuming of air service at the abandoned airport. They are now cautious enough to announce a date because during the past few years about a dozen times the scheduled dates were differed. It was learnt that Air Deccan was selected as the service provider airlines and they will put ATR-42 aircrafts into service in Kolkata-Cooch Behar route.

 

Trial flight was done satisfactorily at Cooch Behar Airport on 27 November in 2007 and the airport is now completely ready for landings and takeoff. The lone problem in resuming of air services is at the end of the service provider airlines, a senior AAI official said.

 

The total area of Cooch Behar Airport is of 28.86-acre including the newly acquired 1,20,000 square-feet land. Construction of boundary wall was already completed surrounding the airport. In the newly added area the existing runway will be extended by 350-metre and 'approach light' facility will be added for emergency landing. A technical block cum fire station is also coming up at the airport.

 

In the airport one-sided landing is possible now due to presence of NH-31 on the opposite side and it compelled the authorities to make the runway shorter by 170-metre. Extension of length is needed for this reason. Mentionworthy, the total length of the runway was 1129-metre.

 

In the new Terminal Building there will be car-parking facility for general public, VIPs and passenger buses. It is being constructed following modern landscaping architecture. Cutten-glass will be used here instead of ordinary glass and bricks having alloy-sheet roofing. Presence of a coloured fountain and pedestrian walkway will make it attractive, the AAI officials believe. Though 15 August of this year was scheduled for completion of the Terminal Building it may take upto December to make it completed, an official said. []

 

PHOTO : Construction of new Terminal Building of Cooch Behar Airport being done in Cooch Behar on Wednesday. – DEBASHIS BHAUMIK.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Huge arms seized, 2 arrested

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 15: Acting on a tip-off, Cooch Behar Kotowali Police arrested two persons on Tuesday evening from Petbhata-Chandanchura village and seized a huge quantity of arms and ammunitions from their possession. Cooch Behar SP Mr Anil Kumar said, interrogation is on and the duo will be produced at the court on Wednesday. Police will request the court for getting the arrested two in remand for further investigation.

 

Cooch Behar Kotowali IC Mr Gautam Ghosal said, acting on a tip-off they arrested Subhas Murmu and Chandan Murmu and seized one 9-mm pistol, one six-chambered revolver, three pipe guns, sixty-two cartridges of 3-0-3 rifle, 23 cartridges of 9-mm pistol and four bullets of .32 bore guns. It is yet to be ascertained whether the arrested two men have any connection with any militant outfit or they are mere criminals. An investigation was initiated into the matter, the IC said. []

Incomplete road-bridge may turn a factor in rural poll

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 15: An incomplete road-bridge may turn as a factor in the upcoming panchayat elections in Mekhliganj block of Cooch Behar. Trinamul Congress and Congress already made it a point to campaign against the ruling party.

 

The construction of the road-bridge over Saniajan river in Mekhliganj of Cooch Behar is under construction. The work for it had began in 2003. The site of the proposed road bridge is at the entrance of Mekhliganj town from Changrabandha.

 

It was learnt that construction of the road-bridge was started with financial assistance extended from Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) in 2003. The work was scheduled to complete within two years. Since then five years have been passed off but the construction is yet to be completed.

 

Finding no other alternative the locals are using the old and weak bridge to cross the river risking their lives daily. This bridge was constructed during the regime of Maharajas. It was never repaired in the recent past, locals alleged. It is feared that this bridge may collapse any day.

 

District Trinamul Congress vice-president Mr Niranjan Dutta said the locals have to go to Mekhliganj town, Dhapra and Kuchlibari by crossing the Saniajan river. As the area is close to the Indo-Bangladesh border there are several BSF border outposts and two police outposts. The bridge is very essential for maintaining the road communication in the area. Lack of a concrete bridge it is hard to run ambulances and fire service vehicles in case of urgency. The small traders are also regular sufferers, Mr Dutta alleged. "We are going to highlight the issue during poll campaign as it is nothing but an example of callousness of the ruling party", he added.

 

As the bridge turned weak and tottering and unusable for heavy traffic the authorities concerned had prohibited plying of lorries and vehicles carrying more than 10-ton of goods over this bridge. But there are few takers to obey that order. As a result the condition of this old bridge is getting worse. The initiative to construct a new concrete bridge was taken to replace the old bridge but no one is visibly serious about its completion, locals alleged. They believe it is now an election issue only. []

Monday, 14 April 2008

District Left Front meet held over seat sharing after fifth round of talks between CPM and FB

 

COOCH BEHAR, April 14: Though the District Left Front convenor Mr Chandi Pal claimed that they achieved ninety percent unity over sharing of seats and progressing towards a total unity of Left Front in the upcoming three-tier panchayat elections, the other partners – Forward Bloc, CPI and RSP are not happy enough about the development.

 

Today, the CPI-M and Forward Bloc leaders sat for the fifth round of talks over seat sharing but the stalemate was not ended as both the parties failed to attain a consensus about the two disputed Zilla Parishad seats. Cooch Behar district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha said they would discuss over the fate of the two seats again on 17 April after submitting nomination papers for 27 seats jointly with the CPI-M. The CPI-M will submit nominations for 18 seats and they will submit for 9 seats. He clearly mentioned that no progress was achieved about the two ZP seats as the situation is still at its old position.

 

After a long awaited meet of the district Left Front, the district LF convenor and district CPI-M secretary Mr Chandi Pal said, they instructed all local LF leaders to work for achieving total unity at Gram Panchayat and Panchayat Samity tiers. This process should be completed by 16 April. LF partners including CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc should also complete bipartite talks among themselves by this deadline, he said. The seat sharing will be done following the Left Front's guideline, he mentioned.

 

District RSP secretary Mr Gopal Chaki too claimed that no total unity was achieved in today's LF meeting. At ZP tier the LF partners attained an approximate unity and the RSP withdrew its demand for a seat in the ZP tier, Mr Chaki said.

 

Expressing his dissatisfaction over the outcome of today's Left Front meeting, the secretary of Cooch Behar district CPI, Mr Surath Chakraborty said they are not ready to give up their demand for a seat in the ZP tier. "After discussing the matter at our party we may field separate candidate", he said. In GP and PS tiers they will try to attain unity with other LF partners, he added. []