Saturday, 31 January 2009


Bird flu declared in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 31: The district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha declared Cooch Behar a bird flu affected district today.


Today, a high level meeting was held here to review the recent reports of unnatural death of backyard birds that poured in from different parts of the district. Reviewing the overall situation the DM declared the district as an avian flu affected one.


The DM said culling drive would begin from Monday at Nagar Bhangni village under Dinhata-II block and Uttar Dangkoba village under Pachagarh gram panchayat in Mathabhanga sub-division. Thirty culling teams consisting of five members in each team will be pressed into the job to kill 45,000 chickens.


As a precautionary measure the Border Security Force was alerted to beef up vigil along the Indo-Bangladesh border to stop movement of people with chickens. The border has been sealed to discourage incoming and outgoing transporting of chickens, the DM said. Trading and transportation of chickens in and out of the affected areas was also prohibited, the DM added.


It may be recalled here that reports started coming recently from Nagar Bhangni and Uttar Dangkoba villages that huge number of chickens suddenly started dying. Blood samples sent for examination to Kolkata and then to Bhopal laboratories. As the samples tested avian influenza positive the district administration convened a meeting today. Senior administrative officials and their counterparts from health department, BSF, police, animal resource development department, block development officers and sabhapatis of Panchayat Samitis attended the meeting. []

Friday, 30 January 2009


Trained Maoist activist in police net


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: One Ratan Roy, stated to be a hardcore Maoist activist, was arrested from Mansai under Baxirhat police station in Cooch Behar yesterday. He is known in different areas in different take-names like Sahidul, Prakash and Bangtu. Some documents seized from his possession but there was no arms with him. Today, the man was produced in Tufanganj court and remanded to police custody for 14 days.


Cooch Behar SP Mr Devendra Prakash Singh said Ratan Roy had undergone arms training in East Singbhum of Jhargram in 2006-2007. Examining the seized documents it is suspected that he is associated with Maoist activities in different areas of West Bengal and Jhargram. Earlier, he had been arrested in Alipurduar in 2005 in connection with a case. Incidentally, he is a resident of Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri.


The SP said they were being informed in recent times that Maoists were trying to spread their activities in this region. Yesterday, after arrest, the man too divulged a few names of his associates during questioning. Acting on a tip-off the police arrested him but it is yet to be ascertained why he came to Baxirhat. His organisation may have engaged him to gear up Maoist activity in this region, Mr Singh said.


Computer thieves arrested


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 30: Police arrested five persons in connection with theft of nine computers. Among the nabbed ones two are students. The stolen computers and the instruments and accessories concerned were also recovered. The computers were stolen from the computer centre of a local school named Vivekananda Vidyapith on 21 January, Cooch Behar SP Mr Devendra Prakash Singh said.


(In another incident that took place in the same night, a gang of thieves took away the projector and other instruments from the office of the Film Society of Cooch Behar, but those articles are yet to be recovered.)


The SP said they formed a team of police officials to conduct a probe into the theft. Yesterday, the team was able to nab the thieves and recover the stolen computers. The thieves are residents of Harin-chawra, Ghughumari and Chilkirhat. During interrogation it was revealed that they were involved with some other cases of thefts occurred recently in and around the town.


Yesterday, the police have detained a gang of four school-students involved in theft of bicycles. The SP said they were considering a proposal to conduct an awareness drive to prevent students from involving in criminal activities.


PHOTO : The arrested five persons and the recovered stolen computers. At the Police Office in Cooch Behar on Friday.

Thursday, 29 January 2009


'MR shop owner steals, staff suffers'


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 29: State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary came down heavily on the owners of the modified ration shops. He alleged that the owners used to pass the blame of corruption on the employees of the MR shops when they landed into trouble.


The minister was addressing at the first conference of the Pashchim Banga Ration Dokan Karmochari Union at Rabindra Bhavan in Cooch Behar today.


The minister said when inspectors of his department visit any MR shop the owner usually made him absent from the shop. "During surprise visits I also experienced this", he said. During the inspection process the employees have to suffer the first brunt if any defalcation unearthed. As an employee of a shop one have to obey the instructions of the owner concerned and shoulder the trouble too though they have no documents to prove their appointments. If the employees build up a strong organisation they may face the trouble boldly, Mr Adhikary opined.


The minister asked the employees to co-operate with people eager to get ration cards but they should not promise one to get him the card. This type of work may weaken the organisation.


Cooch Behar (North) MLA Mr Dipak Sarkar too alleged that the MR shop owners enjoy the dividend of theft of goods but the employees have to bear the blame and even punishment. []


'Get tea and imported lentil pulse from MR shops'


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 29: The state government is going to distribute lentils (a kind of pulse popularly known as Musur daal) through the modified ration shops round the year from now on. The required lentils are to be imported from abroad through a Central organisation named Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation (MMTC). The state government handed over the necessary fund to the MMTC about two months ago to import 4,000 metric ton lentils, state food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary said here today.


The minister however failed to name the country from where the lentils would be imported. "It is up to the MMTC to import and we already paid them for that", he said.


Replying a question, Mr Adhikary said the state government was trying to maintain the public distribution system (PDS) alive throughout the year. When demand for any commodity rise the price too escalates. A section of traders used to take the opportunity to inflate their dividend. "It is hard for us to keep the supply uninterrupted through our own shops", he admitted. "In the meantime we received 200-MT pea-seeds (Matar daal) and it will be distributed through the MR shops from next month.


The state government is also trying to supply packaged mustard oil round the year through the PD system. "We asked the distributors to do the job against less commission. We are thinking over how we can maintain the facility without extending subsidies", the minister said. Earlier, mustard oil was sold from the MR shops for three months. Bringing of tea, exercise books, pencils and other essential commodities under the PD system is also under consideration and the responsibility will be entrusted on the state owned essential commodities corporation.


To make tea included in the PD system the government already held talks with different bodies of tea planters, other organisations concerned and also with the Tea Board, the minister said.


The food and supply minister came here today to inaugurate the first district conference of Forward Bloc dominated Pashchim Banga Ration Dokan Karmochari Union at Rabindra Bhavan. Cooch Behar MP Mr Hiten Barman and Cooch Behar (North) MLA Mr Dipak Sarkar also attended the inaugural session. []


PHOTO : State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary talks with employees of MR shops outside of Rabindra Bhavan. In Cooch Behar on Thursday. – DB.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


FB rally starts for Kolkata


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 28: A Kisan Jatha (peasants' rally) left for Kolkata from Dinhata today. It will attend the gathering to be held in Kolkata on 5 February. The gathering will be organised there to commemorate the five martyrs who died in police firing on 5 February last year in Dinhata. District Youth League president Mr Abdur Rauf said a Yuva Jatha (youth rally) will also join the gathering.


State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Adhikary flagged off the rally at Dinhata today. Prior to that the persons who received injuries in the police firing and the family members of the five martyrs were felicitated in a brief programme. Cooch Behar MP Mr Hiten Barman, Mr Nripen Roy and other senior Forward Bloc leaders attended the programme.


Roy Pradhan to contest against LF ?


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 28: The possibility of senior leftist leader Mr Amar Roy Pradhan's contest against the Left Front candidate in Cooch Behar Lok Sabha constituency is the topic of talks in the political circles here.


Mr Roy Pradhan won eight times consecutively from Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat as Left Front's Forward Bloc candidate. Earlier, he also got elected from Mekhliganj Assembly constituency three times.


Today, All India Trinamul Youth Congress (TYC) president Mr Sanjay Bakshi came here to attend the district TYC conference at Rabindra Bhavan. During talks with media persons he said that a transformation process started to bring an overall change in the ensuing Lok Sabha election. All anti-CPI-M political parties including Congress are welcome in the alliance but Miss Mamata Bannerjee's Trinamul Congress should lead it, he said.


Replying a question about the possibility of candidature of Mr Roy Pradhan he tactfully avoided it and said where Trinamul Congress has a strong organisational base there they will field candidate. He, however, never tried to wind up the possibility of Mr Roy Pradhan's candidature.


When asked, the Janabadi Forward Bloc chairman Mr Roy Pradhan said, "Though we are leftists we joined the anti-CPI-M alliance led by Miss Banerjee as the Left Front is no more a leftist platform. We must try our best to help the poor, depressed and suppressed people to come out from the tyrannical rule of the Left Front."


About his candidature Mr Roy Pradhan said he was not interested to fight in the election, as he was not physically well enough. But, it is necessary to pull down the Left Front.  


Mr Roy Pradhan said it was yet premature to comment on who are to fight in what seats against the LF candidates. All actual anti-LF parties should field only one candidate against the LF candidate concerned. But, it is uncertain if the Congress and the Trinamul Congress come under an umbrella, he opined.


Sagardighi beautification begins


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 28: The long held up Sagardighi beautification drive has resumed again. The beautification work may be completed by six months, official sources said.


Sagardighi is a large pond situated in the midst of Coochbehar town. It was dug in the days of Maharajas of Coochbehar as a source of water. Now, it attracts a large number of migratory birds in every winter and morning walkers everyday.


District planning and rural development officer Mr Sunil Agarwala said the tourism department has extended Rs 50-lakh to the district administration for face lifting of the waterbody.


Under the fresh drive pavements are being constructed along the four sides of Sagardighi. Plantation of trees, replacing of old railings and setting up of fifty new lampposts on the four banks will also be done to beautify the large waterbody.


It may be mentioned here that the state tourism department recently handed over the responsibility of beatification of Sagardighi to the district administration of Cooch Behar as it failed to complete the job in the past four years. The agency that was working under tourism department reportedly left the job without completing it.


Senior citizens recalled that Cooch Behar Municipality had placed fencing and installed music system surrounding the Sagardighi a few years ago. The railings and the garden on its banks turned it more beautiful. But, in the name of beautification, the garden, the railings and the scientific drainage system were destroyed. A huge amount of government money was also misused, they alleged.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Demand to activate a non-functional BPHC

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 27: A block primary health centre (BPHC) was established at Ashokbari of Bairagirhat in Mathabhanga-I block in 2004 but the centre is yet to start functioning. Demanding immediate initiative to develop the infrastructure to make the health centre functional the supporters of Trinamul Shramik Congress (TSC) organised a demonstration at the health centre and gheraoed the block medical officer of health (BMOH) today.


President of the Mathabhanga sub-divisional unit of the TSC Mr Alizar Rahman alleged that Rs 80-lakh was spent to set up the BPHC. But, till today no doctor was appointed to the BPHC. There is no arrangement to supply water. Earlier, miscreants stole medical instruments and the electrical transformer from the BPHC. The BMOH, Dr Anjan Mallik too stays at Mathabhanga town instead of the BPHC premises, he alleged. "We organised today's demonstration demanding improvement of the infrastructure of the BPHC by 15 days, otherwise we would be compelled to initiate a massive movement for the interest of the local suffering people", Mr Rahman said.


When contacted the chief medical officer of health (CMOH), Cooch Behar, Dr Radha Raman Banik admitted that the BPHC at Ashokbari has been lying idle for a long. The nearest facility is the sub-divisional hospital (SDH) in Mathabhanga, he said. As there is a SDH in the same block there is no plan to activate a BPHC at Ashokbari, he said. However, there is a proposal under consideration to launch a primary health centre (PHC) at Ashokbari but that would be a non-bedded one, he disclosed.


The CMOH said the site of the health centre at Ashokbari was situated very near to a cremation ground and the International border. It is hard to send doctors, nurses and other staff to stay at a remote place like that. Replying a question he admitted that the previous plan to introduce a BPHC at Ashokbari was a wrong one.


Dr Banik said an outpatients department (OPD) was running at Ashokbari. The BMOH goes there two days in a week. Additional medical officers have been deployed there. But, it is not possible to turn it a BPHC, he said.


Health department sources claimed that there were BPHCs in Mathabhanga-II (Ghoksadanga) and Sitalkuchi blocks. But, as the sub-divisional hospital is situated in Mathabhanga-I there is no possibility to add a BPHC in that block. The people of Hazrahat-I, Hazrahat-II, Ketarhat, Gopalpur and Nayarhat gram panchayat areas can avail health services from the 4-bedded Pakihaga PHC in addition to the SDH, the sources said. []

Monday, 26 January 2009


Book on Kamal Guha


On the occasion of 81-st birth anniversary of legendary Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha, a book on him titled 'Shatadal' was published in Dinhata recently. In this book the writers have thrown lights from various angles to the late leader's eventful life. Cooch Behar (West) MLA Akshoy Thakur released the book edited by Main Uddin Chisti. The president of Kamal Guha Memorial Committee Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha and Guha's son, also an eminent Forward Bloc leader Udayan Guha were present at the ceremony.


Silver Jubilee flower and vegetable show


The 25-th annual competitive exhibition of flowers, fruits and vegetables was held at Up-to-date Club premises in Tufanganj on 23-25 January.  Tufanganj Horticulture Society organised the programme in association with sub-divisional traders' body of fertilisers and agricultural equipments. An informative and well-edited souvenir (edited by Amarendra Basak) was also published on the occasion.


The sabhadhipati of Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad Dilip Kumar Biswas inaugurated the programme on 23 January. Distinguished persons like Tufanganj MLA Aloka Barman, Tufanganj SDO Sudip Mitra, sabhapati of Tufanganj-I Panchayat Samiti Dipali Roy, sabhapati of Tufanganj-II Panchayat Samiti Pushpita Dakua, Dr Biplab Ghosh, Dr Dipak Sarangi, Ashok Bhadra, Balaram Das, Alok Pal, Kartik Pandit and Radheshyam Adhikari were present at the inaugural ceremony.


The organisers felicitated two eminent farmers of Tufanganj sub-division - Barun Dey and Md Ahmed Jafar Ali. Dr Amulya Kumar Mitra, Manindra Chandra Chakraborty, Samir Dutta, Maloy Sarkar, Bhaktibhusan Mohanta and Dilip Dey Sarkar were specially felicitated. Chairman of Tufanganj Municipality Subhas Chandra Bhawal presided over the programme.


On 24 January, a seminar on implementation of modern technology in agriculture was held. Teacher of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya Dr Pradyut Pal and Dr Ranjit Chatterjee spoke on the occasion. 62 farmers participated in the interactive session. On 25 January, Tufanganj Sahitya Sanskriti Sanstha presented a colourful cultural extravaganza.


Secretary of Tufanganj Horticulture Society, Dr Dilip Kumar Dey said in this silver jubilee year, 142 competitors participated in the flower show and Sayantika Dutta turned the champion. In vegetable show Anil Barman became the champion among the 166 participants.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Preparation is on to celebrate the REPUBLIC DAY tomorrow, at Cooch Behar Stadium.


Explosion : 2 brothers hurt


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 25: In an explosion two brothers injured at Sonapur under Alipurduar police station in Jalpaiguri district this afternoon.


It was learnt that two brothers Rabi Oraon (8) and Gautam Oraon (6) were playing cricket near Sonapur Chaupathi this afternoon. During play the ball went to a bush behind a haircutting saloon. When they were beating the bush with bats to seek the ball they hit a plastic jar. It suddenly exploded and they got severe injury. Locals rushed to the spot and rescued them. Condition of Rabi is very serious.


Soon after the incident, Alipurduar ASP Mr Sabyasachi Raman Mishra rushed to the area with a large contingent of police force. They sent the injured boys to the MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar. During search operation they recovered two more jars filled with live bombs. The bombs were defused.


Police said the bombs were of country made. It is suspected that local miscreants may have kept those in that place for committing crime in future. As today is the day before the Republic Day the police took no chance and search operation is on in the adjoining areas. A few locals were questioned. []


PHOTO : Rabi Oraon and Gautam Oraon at MJN Hospital in Cooch Behar on Sunday night. 


NO PRECAUTION - Village boys with dead chickens at Nagar-bhangni village in Dinhata, Cooch Behar on Sunday.


R-Day preparation complete in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 25: The 60-th Republic Day will be observed in Cooch Behar district tomorrow. The police would keep a strict watch on the R-Day celebrations including flag hoisting, parade and cultural programmes in all the police station areas in the district especially in the bordering areas to maintain peace. Even media persons will have to wear security passes to enter the main programme that will be held at Cooch Behar Stadium adjacent to Cooch Behar Palace.


At Cooch Behar Stadium, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha will hoist the National Flag and take salutes from the cadres and jawans of different forces like police, home guard, civil defence organisation, National Cadet Corps and students of different schools. Freedom fighters will be felicitated on the occasion. Prizes will be given to the best performers of march past, tableau and cultural performance.


District Ex-Servicemen's Association will organise a cultural programme at the Children's Park near Sagardighi. They will also organise a guard-of-honour programme at the Martyrs' Column near the Patton Tank that was captured from Pakistan Army in 1971 and kept as a war memorial at Shahid Baag since then.


PHOTO : On the eve of Republic Day a man buys National Flag from a street hawker. In Cooch Behar on Sunday. - DB.


Bird flu panic in Mathabhanga


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 25: The villagers of Uttar Dangkoba under Pachagarh gram panchayat in Mathabhanga sub-division are suffering from bird flu panic following death of about fifty chickens in that area in the past five days. The pradhan of Pachagarh GP Mr Kajal Roy conveyed the matter to the higher authorities.


When asked, the deputy director of animal resource development department in Cooch Behar Dr Tapan Kumar Roy said today that they already collected blood samples from the Uttar Dangkoba area to send for examination. An awareness drive has been initiated in Mathabhanga-I and Mathabhanga-II blocks to aware villagers about the dos and don'ts in case of any outbreak of avian influenza, Dr Roy said.


Earlier, about four days ago bird flu panic spread at Nagar-bhangni village in Dinhata. Samples collected from the area were sent for laboratory test in Kolkata but no bird flu positive report came yet, ARD department sources said.

Friday, 23 January 2009


School students in procession on the occasion of the 113-th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In Cooch Behar on Friday.


REPUBLICANS - Buying spree of National Flag from a street hawker. At Silver Jubilee Road in Cooch Behar on Friday.


The Patton Tank kept as war memorial being cleaned for Republic Day celebration. At Shahid Baag in Cooch Behar on Friday.


Security beefed up for R-Day in Cooch Behar


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 23: Cooch Behar District Police are not in a mood to take any chance about security of the district during the Republic Day celebrations. To ensure peaceful R-Day celebrations in this district the police are gearing up vigilance along Assam-West Bengal and Indo-Bangladesh borders so that no member of any outlawed outfit can sneak into the district to disrupt the R-Day programmes.


Arrangements are being taken to check all vehicles and individuals passing through the Assam-Bengal border, even through the Cooch Behar-Jalpaiguri district border, so that no activist of any militant organisation or illegal arms can enter into the district, said the superintendent of police, Cooch Behar, Mr Devendra Prakash Singh. The ongoing checking system at all entry-points will be geared up on and from 24 January, he added.


Mr Singh said they already held discussions with BSF and Army officials over the security measures taken along the international border. Though there is no specific threat yet from any militant outfit there is a general alert because a section of media recently reported about intension of the ULFA and the KLO opposing the observance of R-Day, the SP said.


Plainclothes policemen are also being deployed in different areas to keep watch on movements of suspicious persons. Existing check-posts along the inter-state border have also been alerted, Mr Singh added. All police stations in the district have been asked to keep a strict watch on persons with criminal history to ensure the Republic Day celebrations undisturbed and peaceful.


Rail and road bridges and important buildings and installations are being watched round-the-clock. The BSF already beefed up vigilance along the 522-kilometre long Indo-Bangladesh border in the district. Specially trained armed combat police forces are also being deployed in different areas of the district.


According to the SP the police would keep a strict watch on Republic Day celebrations including flag hoisting, parade and cultural programmes in all the police station areas in the district especially in the bordering areas to maintain peace.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Bandh call against bandh

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 22: The local traders of Tufanganj called a bandh there on Saturday in protest against ransacking of three shops and damaging of a lorry during the SUCI sponsored bandh today. In Mathabhanga, four persons were injured when a clash occurred between CPI-M and SUCI supporters at the court premises.


Cooch Behar SP Mr Devendra Prakash Singh said police arrested 108 picketers during the bandh in Cooch Behar district though SUCI sources claimed more supporters have been arrested.


Almost all shops except those dealing with flowers, medicines, fruits and sweets kept their shutters down in Cooch Behar town today. A few buses of the NBSTC plied but there were almost no passenger on board. Police assisted opening of the gates of the government offices by chasing out pro-bandh picketers but the attendance was less than normal. The main branch of the State Bank on east bank of Sagardighi was found closed as in every bandh. Functioning of educational institutions has been affected due to the bandh.


Eye on cyber cafés in Cooch Behar

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 22: Aiming to control and prevent the activities of criminal, antisocial and antinational elements that are using the cyber café centres, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar Mr Rajesh Kumar Sinha promulgated a prohibitory order exercising Section 144 CrPC. The order was reportedly issued following reports that miscreants have been using the Internet and e-mail facilities from the cyber café centres set up for commercial purpose.


About the order, Mr Sinha said the measure was taken to prevent danger to human life and safety, prevent activities that may affect the security of State and disturbance of public peace and tranquillity. All the owners of the cyber café centres in the district are to follow the order that will remain in force till 10 March. If any person contravenes the order he shall be punishable under Section 188 IPC.


Following the prohibitory order the owners of the cyber cafés should not allow any unknown or unidentified person to use the facilities in their cafés. The owner of a cyber café will have to maintain a register for the customers and users in which a user will have to make entries in handwriting mentioning name, father's name, address, telephone number and identity proof document. As identity proof a user must produce a document like identity card, voter card, ration card, driving license, passport, PAN card and bank passbook.


The owner of the cyber café concerned should preserve the activity server log in main server and its record should be preserved for at least six months, the order says. If any activity of a visitor appears of suspicious nature the owner should immediately inform the nearest police station and record should be maintained about the specific computer used by the person. []


Pro-bandh picketers being arrested by police during the SUCI sponsored strike in Cooch Behar on Thursday.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


An effort to get some warmth. In Cooch Behar on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Tax free zone status demanded

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 20: The Tax Free Zone Demand Committee for North Bengal sent a fax message to the Prime Minister today urging him to consider declaring north Bengal a tax-free zone in the ensuing Union Budget.


As north Bengal has no mentionable industry or any other scope to generate employment the tax-free zone status once extended to north Bengal may help flourishing of new industrial units and by that the unemployment problem may decrease in this region, argued the convenor of the TFZDCNB in the memorandum.


The TFZDCNB sent copies of the memorandum to the Union commerce and industries minister, the chief minister and the chairman of the Planning Commission.


The members of the State Government Employees Federation (Unified) organised a daylong sit-in in front of the office of the sub-divisional officer in Cooch Behar on Tuesday. They were demanding fulfilment of their different demands.


Kamal Guha's 81st birth anniversary observed

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 20: The 81-st birth anniversary of late Forward Bloc leader Kamal Guha was observed through different programmes including colourful procession, cultural performance and installation of a statue of the late leader at Dinhata today. The programme will be continued till Thursday.


As Dinhata was the hometown of the late leader the major programme was held there, according to the president of Kamal Guha Smriti Raksha Committee, Dr Bidyut Kamal Saha. A memorial booklet was also published on the occasion.


In Cooch Behar, a concrete statue of the late leader was installed in front of the office building of the District Forward Bloc today. Senior Forward Bloc leaders including ministers, MLAs and MPs attended the programme. A blood donation camp was also organised where 75 persons donated blood.

Monday, 19 January 2009

WORKSHOP on rural livelihood empowerment

Vice-Chancellor of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya Dr Asit Kumar Das delivers his inaugural address at the workshop, at Pundibari in Cooch Behar.

Workshop on rural livelihood

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 19: A two-day workshop on 'sustainable rural livelihood empowerment project for northern disadvantaged districts of West Bengal' began at Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya (UBKV) at its Pundibari campus in Cooch Behar today. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has sanctioned the Rs 5.5-crore project under National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP). The project will be implemented in disadvantaged districts of the state including Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda of north Bengal and Murshidabad. []


Finishing touches being given prior to the unveiling of the statue of late FB leader Kamal Guha. In Cooch Behar on Monday.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


Maghotsav being held at the historic Brahmo Mandir that was established during the regime of Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Heritage Society of Cooch Behar organised the programme in Cooch Behar on Sunday.


AIYL stir against reappointment of teachers

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 18: The Forward Bloc's youth wing, the All India Youth League (AIYL) is against the plan for reappointment of retired teachers as guest teachers in the upper primary schools in Cooch Behar district. They already started a movement over the issue.


District AIYL president Md Abdur Rauf said today that following a circular issued by the education department in 2007 the plan for appointment of retired teachers as guest teachers was being adopted in the vacant posts in the upper primary schools in this district. The AIYL already initiated a movement in different blocks in the district against the bid. They will organise protest rallies and submit memorandums to the offices of the sub-inspector of schools (primary) in the blocks concerned till 30 January.


It was learnt that there are about 90 upper primary schools in Cooch Behar district. The AIYL wants appointment of unemployed and qualified youths in the vacant posts instead of filling those posts with retired teachers.


District AIYL secretary Mr Gopal Dey said after completion of the first phase of movement they will organise a huge sit-in demonstration at the offices of the district magistrate and the district inspector of schools (primary) on 12 February. If the authorities fail to fulfil their demand even after that day they will have to organise a massive movement, Mr Dey said.


Mr Rauf said they are also against appointment of retired personnel in different government departments. The personnel got retirement due to their advanced age and the government extended pensions to them. Now, they should not be reappointed in offices or schools. The vacant posts should be filled with unemployed youths, he demanded. []


JOY OF LIVING - An elderly religious couple with prayer wheels in their hands at Phuentsholing in Bhutan. – NIRMALENDU CHAKRABORTY.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


An old man at Phuentsholing in Bhutan. – NIRMALENDU CHAKRABORTY.


First swimming pool coming up

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 15: Cooch Behar is going to get its first swimming pool very soon. The proposed swimming pool will come up in the Cooch Behar Palace complex at a lowland adjacent to the place where the first indoor stadium of the district came up a few years ago.


A proposal already sent to the state youth welfare department for the proposed swimming pool. The swimming pool will be of about 3,000 square-feet. District planning officer Mr Sunil Agarwala said they sought a fund of Rs 1.70-crore for implementing the facility. It will be a full fledged one, he said.


The work for the swimming pool will start very soon, probably before the next election, according to Mr Agarwala. The required fund may also arrive here very soon, he hoped.


A swimming pool is very much needed in Cooch Behar. The budding swimmers and learners have been demanding for this facility for a long. At last, their demand is going to take a shape. It may be mentioned here that work for another swimming pool of International standard is going on in Tufanganj. []

Bandh against river erosion


COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 15: Demanding measures to stop erosion of farmland from underground caused by Saltia river a 12-hour bandh was held at twenty gram panchayat areas in Cooch Behar district today. Forward Bloc supported Agragami Kisan Sabha and Save Saltia Committee have called the bandh.


District Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha demanded the Centre to take the responsibility to reform the river from being dried up and stop underground erosion.


Mr Guha said it was like a mere canal in 1977. Protective measures were taken with funds from soil conservation scheme but that yielded no result. The underground erosion already posed a danger to about 60-kilometre stretch of land in ten gram-panchayat areas. More than 2-lakh people have been affected. In 2005-06, Rs 42-lakh were extended from Uttar Banga Unnayan Parshad (UBUP) to stop the erosion. The irrigation department spent about Rs 20-lakh and declared that the job was finished but the problem is still there, he said.


Today’s bandh exerted its influence in road communication from Cooch Behar town to Mathabhanga, Dinhata, Mekhliganj and a part of Tufanganj. The bandh was total in Cooch Behar-I block area. During the bandh educational institutions and offices were found closed. Passenger bus services and plying of all motor vehicles were disrupted. The bandh supporters detained the Alipurduar-Bamanhat passenger train at Ghughumari for about two hours this morning.


The erosion caused by Saltia is a major problem in this district. In the past years several movements has been organised. Experts visited the area but nothing mentionworthy was done till now to stop the menace. []   

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Ganja plants uprooted, destroyed

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 14: In a massive drive against illegal plantation of ganja in Mathabhanga sub-division of Cooch Behar, police uprooted numerous ganja plants and destroyed those.


Today, a large police force led by Cooch Behar SP Mr Devedra Prakash Singh, ASP Mr Ashes Biswas and Mathabhanga SDPO Mr Ananda Roy accompanied by senior excise department officials raided a ganja plantation at Bhawer-thana in Mathabhanga. They uprooted green and matured ganja plants from about 500-bigha char-land adjacent to Mansai river and blazed those.


Yesterday too, Mathabhanga SDPO Mr Ananda Roy led a massive drive at Bhojaner-chhara in Mathabhanga-II. They destroyed ganja plants uprooted from about 50-bigha char-land near Mansai river.


The drive to destroy ganja plantation from different areas may continue for a few more days as the ganja flower-spikes are being matured for plucking and illegal trading, police sources said. []


Beltapara shootout-day remembered

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 14: Hazrahat-I unit of the Democratic Youth Federation of India observed the fifth year of the Beltapara shootout-day as martyrs day today. They paid floral tribute to the Martyrs Column that was erected there after the incident in memory of four persons who were killed in militant shootout on 14 January in 2004.


A gang of miscreants allegedly KLO militants armed with sophisticated firearms opened fire in a video parlour, running in the premises of a local rice mill, at Beltapara in Hazrahat gram panchayat area under Mathabhanga police station, on the evening of 14 January 2004. A video show was going on there at that time. Among the viewers four persons were killed in the firing. They were Goutam Sarkar (17), Ajay Biswas (20), Gour Mandal (20) and Rabi Biswas (18). The day was a haat day.


Hazrapara-I local committee of the DYFI, Mr Arun Sarkar said today that the authorities brought the KLO militants to the mainstream and they were rehabilitated properly. But, the family members of the victims are yet to receive compensation or any other assistance from the authorities. "We conveyed the matter to the higher authorities including the chief minister and state forest minister Mr Ananta Roy, who was elected from Mathabhanga Assembly constituency but nothing happened till now", he said. He said, the DYFI has been observing the day at Hazrahat for the past four years in memory of the persons who were killed in militant bullets. []

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Chandra Adhikari unveils the foundation plaque of the Higher Secondary unit at Sadar Government High School while CZP sabhadhipati Mr Dilip Biswas and others look on. In Cooch Behar on Tuesday.


Minister questions standard of school education

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 13: The standard of school education is going downward in this state. None but a minister of the Left Front cabinet almost admitted it in Cooch Behar today.


State food and supply minister Mr Paresh Chandra Adhikari laid the foundation of the building for the Higher Secondary unit at Sadar Government High School in Cooch Behar today. He has to lay the foundation because state school education minister Mr Partha Dey failed to appear at the scheduled programme.


During his address, Mr Adhikari said the government schools in this state are suffering from lack of teachers. As there are many vacant posts in the government schools the standard of education is going down, he felt. Questions are rising from different quarters about the standard of education. A large number of posts are lying vacant for a long and so the students are suffering. Earlier, the situation was bad in other government-aided schools. After appointment of new teachers the situation was improved in those schools. But, the situation in the government schools is not good enough till now, he said.


On the otherhand, the deputy director of state school education Mr Sanat Ghosh claimed that the education scenario of this state is not that gloomy and the standard of education is improving. Due to some technical reasons there are many vacant posts in the government schools because the appointment is done through Public Service Commission examination, he tried to explain.


Cooch Behar Zilla Parishad sabhadhipati Mr Dilip Biswas and assistant-teacher-in-charge of Sadar Government High School Mr Prabir Acharya spoke on the occasion. []

Monday, 12 January 2009


Swami Vivekananda 147

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 12: Ramkrishna Math of Cooch Behar organised a colourful procession today to observe the 147-th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. A large number of people including students of 17 schools and two colleges participated in the programme. President of Ramkrishna Math of Cooch Behar Swami Gopeswarananda said Thithi Puja of Swami Vivekananda would be held at the Math premises on 17 January. []


Udayan Guha prefers to attend hearing in Kolkata

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 12: On the second day of the sitting of the Justice Narayan C Sil Commission of Inquiry it was decided that the hearing into the Dinhata Police Firing incident will be held on 14, 15 and 16 February at the hearing room of the Commission in the Annexe Building of the Circuit House in Cooch Behar. Forward Bloc leader Mr Udayan Guha told the Commission today that he wants to appear for hearing in Kolkata, Mr Justice Sil said. "We have to find out how this could be happened", he said.


Today, district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha appeared before the Commission. Discussions were made over procedure of functioning of the Commission.


Mr Udayan Guha said he today pointed out to the chairman of the Commission that the bullet marks on the walls at the vicinity of the firing incident should be preserved for examination. Mr Justice Sil agreed to it, he said.


Mr Guha said, "The Forward Bloc's pre-announced law violation programme of 5 February 2008 was a statewide one. In Dinhata, CRPF were also deployed at the SDO office complex. After the firing incident we collected three kinds of bullets for the spot. Paramilitary forces generally use these. I told the chairman of the Commission to call experts to examine these bullets to ascertain what kind of firearms were used on that day."


"As there is an FIR lodged against me, I like to appear before the Commission in Kolkata because I like to take legal help from my lawyer Mr Sekhar Basu there," the FB leader said. "During my testimony I may produce the collected bullets, pictures and other documents related to the incident. I will also submit the copies of the circulated leaflets containing the demands for which we had organised the law violation programme to prove that our programme was a scheduled one and no prepared police force was deployed on that day to contain a huge crowd," Mr Guha added. []


PHOTO : Forward Bloc leader Mr Udayan Guha comes out from the Hearing Room of the Justice Narayan C Sil Commission. In Cooch Behar on Monday.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Dinhata police firing : Commission starts functioning

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 11: On 10 February last year the state government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the Dinhata police firing. After about one year, the one-man Justice Narayan C Sil Commission held its first sitting at the hearing room of the Commission in the annexe building of the Circuit House in Cooch Behar today. The Cooch Behar DM, the SP, the Dinhata SDO and some other government officials attended the sitting.


In the police firing five Forward Bloc supporters were killed in Dinhata on 5 February 2008. A NVF constable was also killed in the violence that erupted following the Forward Bloc's law violation programme organised on that day.


After today's sitting, Mr Justice Sil said the general procedure of functioning of the Commission was adopted today. "Tomorrow, the Commission will talk with Forward Bloc leader Mr Udayan Guha and considering all aspects it will finalise a date for commencement of hearing", he said.


According to the secretary of the Commission, Mr Bikash Chandra Basu, two government officials and 48 others including FB leaders have submitted affidavits so far. "They will be summoned to attend the hearing", he said. "This is the first time an inquiry Commission have been working and going to examine witnesses outside of Kolkata", he claimed.


Replying a question Mr Justice Sil said the Commission was also functioning at its Kolkata office. If required the witnesses may be examined at that office too, he said. The Commission may visit the place of occurrence at Dinhata, he added.


When contacted, district Forward Bloc secretary Mr Udayan Guha said no initiative was taken so far to preserve the bullet-marks of police firing on the walls of the buildings in the Dinhata SDO office premises. How the Commission would get evidences of that firing incident without those bullet-marks, he questioned. "We had collected a few spent bullets from the spot and the Commission may also examine these too", Mr Guha offered.


Mr Justice Sil however said that they would consider preservation of the marks of evidences (bullet marks) still existing in the walls in Dinhata.


The Commission has begun functioning so late and so there are reasons to suspect whether it may be able to unearth the truth, Mr Guha said. []


PHOTO : Justice Narayan C Sil in Cooch Behar on Sunday. - DB.


Heritage Road comes under NREGA scheme

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 11: The reconstruction of the Heritage Road that runs through eleven gram panchayat areas will be done mostly under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The proposed road will start from the gate of Cooch Behar Palace compound and it will end at Bengal-Assam border in Tufanganj.


District planning and rural development officer, Mr Sunil Agarwala said the first phase of the work would be done under NREGA scheme. The road runs through areas like Chakchaka, Khapaidanga, Natabari, Rampur, Mahishkuchi, Dhalpal and Baxirhat. The gram panchayats concerned are to do the earthwork under NREGA scheme. Required fund has been allotted to the GPs to initiate the job.


About Rs 6-crore will be spent for the 57-kilometre road. The standard of the road will be similar to that of a road constructed under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojana (PMGSY), Mr Agarwala said. After completion of the earthwork, the public works department will take up the job. They are to complete the job by laying bitumen layer, Mr Agarwala said.


It may be recalled that state forest minister Mr Ananta Roy laid the foundation of the construction of the Heritage Road on 6 June 2007. State public works minister Mr Kshiti Goswami too laid the foundation of a bridge over Raidak-II river along the Heritage Road at Takuamari Ghatpar in Tufanganj on that day. The cost of the 310-metre long road-bridge was estimated at Rs 10.5-crore. The estimated cost of the entire project is about Rs 61-crore, sources said.


Heritage Road is the road along which the Maharajas, the erstwhile rulers of Cooch Behar State, used to go for hunting game to the then dense forest areas of Takuamari in Tufanganj. Now, after reconstruction of the historic road it will act as a second road to Assam from Cooch Behar and it will also shorten the roadway distance to Assam. Mr Agarwala said. []


Upgraded border fencing reduced crime : BSF

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 11: After taking over charge, the newly appointed Commandant of 89-Bn BSF Mr Manjinder Singh, visited battalion headquarters at Sonari and companies deployed at Dinhata sub-sector along Indo-Bangladesh border.  He held a meeting with the local gram panchayat pradhan, GP members and villagers of the border area at Sahebganj border outpost. He interacted with them and inquired about their problems related to the border.  The villagers and others appraised Mr Singh about the current situation of the area.


BSF sources claimed that due to upgradation of border fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border from type-I to type-III criminal activities in Dinhata sub-sector area has come under control. 89-Bn BSF is deployed on Indo-Bangladesh Border of Dinhata Sub Sector. The upgraded fencing has helped them to control the nefarious activities of anti-national elements.


A friendly volleyball match was held between BSF jawans of Sahebganj BOP and members of local clubs at Sahebganj Primary School ground.  It was one of the steps being taken by the 89-Bn BSF to maintain friendly relation with the border people. Mr Singh assured them that the border guards would ensure their security. []


PHOTO : Commandant of 89-Bn BSF Mr Manjinder Singh interacts with border people at Sahebganj in Dinhata, Cooch Behar.

Friday, 9 January 2009


NBSTC service to Sagarmela

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 9: For the first time the North Bengal State Transport Corporation is going to offer a Sagarmela special service as a part of its religious tourism drive. Thirty-four pilgrims are ready for the journey that starts tomorrow.


NBSTC sources said the bus would reach Mayapur on Sunday. It will be at Sagarmela for three days (12-14 January). During its return journey it will go to Dakshineswar and Belur Math on 15 January and on the next day it will get back to Cooch Behar. A guide will also accompany them. The entire seven-day package will cost a passenger Rs 2,200 only. At Sagarmela they will be accommodated without any additional cost at Loknath Mission's camp for three days.


The divisional manager of NBSTC's Cooch Behar division, Mr Subrata Biswas said the NBSTC initiated its tourism service in 2005. Already it introduced services to neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Nepal. Now, the newly introduced special religious tour to Sagarmela added another feather to its crown, he believes. []


PHOTO : A overturned lorry that suffered the mishap on the foggy morning at the outskirt of Cooch Behar town on Friday.


Exhibition inaugurated

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 9: State forest minister Mr Ananta Roy inaugurated an exhibition of arts and crafts including paintings and embroidery works at Athi Nivas in Cooch Behar on Friday. Siliguri Bodhi Bharati Vocational Institute is the organiser of the exhibition. []


PHOTO : After inaugurating an exhibition of arts and crafts, state forest minister Mr Ananta Roy visits the beautiful items at Athithi Nivas. In Cooch behar on Friday.


Rs 50-lakh for fresh beautification of Sagardighi

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 9: Failing to complete the beatification of the Sagardighi the state tourism department handed over the responsibility to the district administration of Cooch Behar. The beautification drive was under the tourism department for the last four years. The agency that was working under tourism department left the job without completing it.


Complying the responsibility the district administration already called tender and work order was also issued yesterday to an agency of Dinhata. The agency was instructed to complete the job by six months. District planning and rural development officer Mr Sunil Agarwala said the tourism department was to extend a fund of Rs 50-lakh to the district administration for the purpose.


It was learnt that under the fresh beautification plan pavements would be constructed along the four sides of Sagardighi. Plantation of trees, setting up of railings and electrifications will also be done to beautify the large waterbody. Fifty lampposts will be placed on the four banks to illuminate the pavements.


On earlier occasions, state tourism minister Mr Manabendra Mukherjee had assured of speedy completion of the beautification but that was not done. At last, his department shook off the responsibility.


Sagardighi is a large pond situated in the midst of Coochbehar town. It was dug in the days of Maharajas of Coochbehar as a source of water.


A senior Congress leader and also a member of All India Congress Committee Mrs Sabita said that the Congress run Cooch Behar Municipality had added fencing and installed music system surrounding the Sagardighi a few years ago. The railings and the garden on its banks made it more beautiful. But, the state tourism department demolished the railings. The then Maharajas introduced a scientific drainage system but that was also destroyed.


Mrs Roy alleged that the tourism department was engaged in defacing the beauty of Sagardighi in the name of beautification during the last four years by wasting a huge amount of government money. But no one should be allowed to take it as an advantage to do anything to make the 'city of beauty' as an ugly one, she said. []


Fuel Crisis : NBSTC suspends bus services

COOCH BEHAR, Jan. 9: Following acute crisis of fuel due to strike of officers of Indian Oil Corporation, the passenger bus services of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) is on the verge of collapse. Already plying of buses in several routes except priority ones has been suspended. If the strike goes on the situation will be worse from Monday because the NBSTC may not be able to run any bus from that day.


NBSTC sources said they bring fuel from the IOC following a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The NBSTC has its own Central Fuelling System in a few pumps in its twenty-one depots under four divisions in the state. There are five such pumps in Cooch Behar Division. The number of running buses of the NBSTC is about 500 and that number in Cooch Behar depot is about 100. Cooch Behar depot needs about 4,500-litre fuel per day to run the buses. The fuel comes from IOC's Hasimara depot.


When asked, the divisional manager of the NBSTC, Mr Subrata Biswas said they were not getting fuel from the Hasimara IOL depot from yesterday. Now the buses are plying with fuels from reserve stock but that stock is going to be finished at any moment. Violating the MOU they bought some fuels from outer pumps yesterday to maintain passenger bus service. But, that also stopped from today as stocks in those pumps are also running out of fuel.


Compelled by the situation the NBSTC authorities began suspending bus services in several routes from yesterday. It is expected that they may run buses in rest of the routes till Sunday and then they will have to stop all services if the strike goes on, Mr Biswas fears. []


PHOTO : A bus takes fuels at the NBSTC's Cooch Behar depot on Friday.