Friday, August 17, 2012

Chief Secretary and DGP speak to counterparts in Karnataka, receive reassurances that Sikkimese are and will remain safe in Bangalore


GANGTOK, 16 Aug: Rumour-mongering has won the day, and reassurances from every concerned agency have failed to calm the panic which has gripped the people from Northeast in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. For the second consecutive day today, students and professionals from the North East based in these three states continued to flee in droves, fearful that retaliatory attacks on people from the North East following the communal violence in Assam will eventually reach them if they stayed behind. The mainstream’s established ignorance about the people of the North East has convinced people from these parts that any backlash against the communal violence of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District of Assam will sweep all people who might look like that they are from the North East. Needless to add, this includes the many from Sikkim who work and study in the cities in the grips of the latest wave of rumour-triggered fear psychosis.
Speaking to NOW!, Swabhaw Gurung of Sikkim who is working in Pune at present, informed that although there were reports of attacks on some North Easterns in the city last week, no new incidents have been reported so far.
Panic and fear have however gripped people from the North East residing in Pune, he said, adding that most choose to remain indoors while others are planning to leave the city as soon as possible. “Though the violence has largely died down, people from the North East are scared and most students are planning to head home... My brother who is also studying here is planning to leave in a day or two,” said Swabhaw.
The pall of fear is real even if the threat is largely imagined or instigated, but given that so many from Sikkim live in the panic-struck cities in question, the State Government, through the Director General of Police and the Chief Secretary enquired after the situation in Karnataka and sought special consideration for people from Sikkim based there.
The Director General of Police was approached by concerned parents and representatives from the civil society today regarding rumours of violence coming in from Bengaluru.
Following this, it is informed that the DGP contacted the Karnataka Police to check on the situation. The Karnataka police, as they have been maintaining all along, is also reported to have asserted to the Sikkim DGP that claims of targeted violence in Bengaluru are just rumours and reassured that all necessary action to keep people from Sikkim safe would be taken if required.
The DGP is also reported to have provided names and locations of where Sikkimese students live in Bengaluru and the Karnataka police, in turn, assured to send police personnel to provide security to the students in case of any untoward incident.
The Chief Secretary of Sikkim, Karma Gyatso, also spoke to his counterpart in Karnataka, SV Ranganath, today and conveyed the Sikkim Government’s concern about the safety of Sikkimese residing in Bengaluru, an IPR press release informs.
In response, the Karnataka CS gave full assurance as regards the safety of Sikkimese in Bengaluru and added that the law and order situation in Karnataka was under control.
Mr Gyatso has also requested the Speaker, KT Gyaltsen to take up the issue with the Karnataka Government during his visit to the State which is scheduled for 18 September.
The backlash against people from the North East came to the fore when a Muslim rally against the Assam riots held in Mumbai went out of control killing 2 and injuring some others. Following this, rumours of more attacks spread in other cities as well, especially in Bengaluru where there is a sizeable population from the North East. As the country celebrated the 66th Independence Day, news reports on the mass exodus of North Easterns from Bengaluru started pouring in. There are now reports of such mass exodus from Hyderabad and Pune as well.
Although attacks on North Easterns were reported from Pune from where there have been reports of almost 12 attacks on people from different parts of the North East, in Bengaluru the fear rides mostly on the basis of rumours - whether by SMS or word-of-mouth - about alleged attacks and alleged preparations for an attack.
A Sikkimese studying in Bengaluru, Kunzang Deki, tries to explain why the reassurances or clarifications are not having the desired effect and why fear and panic continues to spread in the city among people from the north east. “The police and the state administration are all saying that the situation is under control and full security will be provided to us but we do not feel safe. I haven’t seen any police patrolling or police personnel on the streets,” she told NOW!
“There have even been incidents of the police here warning students from the North East to be careful which adds to the fear,” she added.
A lot of students have taken a month’s leave from colleges and schools and are returning home, she added.
Kunzang, who stays in a PG accommodation, was leaving for her uncle’s place located in another part of the city, where she plans to stay till it is deemed safe.
Meanwhile, Swabhaw inform from Pune that two students and three working people from Sikkim [whom he knows] are returning home tomorrow. He is planning to send his wife back to Sikkim as well.
“The police have assured ample security for North Easterns here and individual state associations have provided helpline numbers… Sadly Sikkimese don't have an association or any helplines,” expressed Swabhaw.
Kunzang from Bengaluru also said that she is not aware of any association for Sikkim in the city.
On his take on the whole situation as a Sikkimese, Swabhaw says, “People have being misinformed and people with vested interests have taken advantage of the ignorance of the mainland Indians... It makes me feel unwelcome and marginalised in the Indian mainstream”.
Back in Sikkim in the meanwhile, student bodies have approached the authorities conveying their concerns regarding the security of Sikkimese students studying outside the state.
Students’ Union of Sikkim [SUS] convened an emergency meeting today on the recent incidents of attacks on the North Easterns in Pune and warnings spread through SMS in Bangalore.
An SUS press release informs that the meeting chaired by SUS president, Ugen Bhutia expressed its concern over the recent attacks on north-eastern students at Pune and strongly condemned such incidents. SUS also forwarded a letter requesting the “full proof security” for those from the North East, students in particular, to the Union Home Minister, the release informs.
SUS has further appealed to Sikkimese students in different parts of the country to have full faith in the administration and follow the security guidelines provided by the police administration in the respective cities.
SUS has also opened a help-line number to register the grievances of students in Bangalore so that the same could be forwarded to the concerned authorities through SUS. The helpline numbers are: 96478-74611, 80162-05290, 96354-04862 and 98323-08317.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim United Student Association [SUSA] submitted a memorandum to the Chief Secretary today on the security of Sikkimese’s students studying in different educational institutes outside Sikkim.
A SUSA press release informs that during the meeting, the Chief Secretary informed SUSA members that this issue has been taken seriously and informed them of his conversation with the Karnataka CS. Interestingly, the release adds that if some unfortunate incident were to happen to Sikkimese students outside Sikkim, then the Sikkim government will be held responsible.
The Sikkim RTI Forum joins issue with the incidents in the three states and its general secretary, DK Chhetri, in a press release issued today postures, “Its an outrage that our childrens are dying out there and the shameless NorthEast CMs have zipped their lips”. It needs to be clarified here that no incidents of violence against people from the North East have been reported to in Bengaluru and no fatalities have been reported from any of these attacks.
“If politics is a pressure game then, our North East Chief Ministers must speak unitedly to the Central Govt. to provide protection to our children or to form effective Law. We believe the Central Govt cannot bear the pressure if applied from a United North East Chief Ministers,” the release states, even adding, “The discrimination to our childrens has reached its height, and maybe we have reached the verge of retaliation for self protection”.

Ranipool police arrest one in molestation case

GANGTOK, 16 Aug: Ranipool police have arrested the driver of the vehicle in which a 24-year-old girl was manhandled and molested by a group of boys on 12 August.
The OC Ranipool police station informs that the arrest follows from a tip-off from an eyewitness who saw the victim get pushed out of the vehicle near 9th Mile [on NH 31A between Singtam and Ranipool]. The bystander is informed to have recognized the registration number plates of the vehicle [which was identified as SK-01J/2011] and the driver, one Anil Tamang, a resident of Bermiok, South Sikkim as the prime accused.
It may be recalled that the girl was allegedly molested in a moving vehicle [headed for Gangtok from Singtam] and later thrown out of the car causing her injuries.
A complaint had been filed with the Ranipool police; however the victim had not been able to provide details of the vehicle or its registration number. Ranipool police has assured that they are on the case and are putting in all their efforts to trace the accused and a speedy investigation led to the arrest of the main accused in the evening the next day.
During preliminary investigations by the police, the driver claimed to have been the only occupant in the vehicle, however, this information is still said to be sketchy and the police are still on the lookout for more persons.
Police sources also inform that it is probable that the driver could be the only person in the vehicle since the victim, still in a state of shock, could be confused while providing information on the incident.  The driver is currently in police remand and the police are investigating the case for more details on other occupants in the vehicle.

High Court watch gets agencies serious about improving Dikchu-Sankalang road

GANGTOK, 16 Aug: Following directions received from the High Court of Sikkim, the State government as well as Border Roads Organisation have submitted before the Court details of action initiated regarding construction of the Dikchu-Sangkalang Road and other proposals which they intend to implement to improve road connectivity in North district.
As has been reported earlier, the public and panchayats of North Sikkim have filed a petition in the High Court regarding the construction of the Dikchu-Sangkalang road. The Court too had not been impressed with the attitude of the authorities towards their responsibility in providing the villagers with a proper connecting road and had directed that concrete action be undertaken. The road is a primary link for the people of the area and they have been suffering hardships due to the incomplete and pending road construction. Even land acquisition process had not been initiated for improvement and widening of the road and construction of bridges.
On 13 August, it was submitted to the Court that a proposal has been initiated for the widening of the 21 km Dikchu-Sangkalang road stretch and for which revenue authorities, BRO representatives and the villagers themselves were involved in survey exercises. The survey works will also include inspection and examination of road alignment so as to minimize the damage to various residential structures along the road. These include 61 houses, both kutcha and permanent.
Colonel Reddy from the BRO submitted that the survey works would take about a month to complete.
Following the completion of the survey works, the BRO will put up a proposal seeking sanction of required funds for land acquisition.
It was also submitted that the authorities had decided upon three projects which include construction of temporary bridges wherever there were cable suspension bridges in the area for the convenience of the villager; secondly it was also informed that land acquisition would be initiated for construction of permanent bridges and thirdly black topping of the road would be undertaken as well. These projects are scheduled to be undertaken in the coming financial year.
The Court, while appreciating the initiative of the concerned authorities, reminded that regular updates were to be provided to the Court on the progress of works on a monthly basis.
Earlier, the Court had taken strong exception to the apparent lackadaisical attitude of the administration and other agencies towards their duties and had come down heavily on both the state and army agencies. It had also earlier observed that of the stretch of 21 km of the Dikchu – Sangkalang road only 1 km stretch of black topping was done in one year.

Police probe murder angle in death of Central Bank branch manager

GANGTOK, 16 Aug: The death of Biplab Das, the branch manager of Central Bank of India at Rhenock, has left many guessing whether it was a suicide or a murder. While initially registered as a suicide, the police are still investigating the death given the peculiar circumstances in which his body was found. In addition, the continuing investigation has also been demanded by employees of the Central Bank of India throughout the state who, as a mark of protest as well as mourning, have been wearing black arm bands at work. The state in which the dead body of Mr. Das was found is what has triggered suspicions of foul-play.
In fact, the General Manager, Central Bank of India in Sikkim had met the Senior SP [East], Dr. MS Tuli regarding this matter and the police has reiterated its commitment to pursue the matter till the very end, informed SSP, MS Tuli. His assurance also led to the calling off of a candle light rally by CBI employees in Gangtok originally scheduled for the evening of 14 August.
The Rhenock branch of the Central Bank was hit by controversy when it surfaced that the business correspondent of the bank there, Roshan Thapa, had fraudulently withdrawn more than Rs. 2 lakh from the account of one Sukhbir Subba, an ex-army man. Roshan Thapa was taken into custody, and the next day came news of the Branch Manager’s ‘alleged’ suicide.
What has led to suspicions of foul play in the death is that the feet of the deceased were tied and there was a cloth stuffed in his mouth when the body was found hanging in his room. Moreover, there was reportedly a small bump on his head with things in the room scattered about as well.
While these may give indications of a possible attack, police also state that it could have been so planned to make it look like a murder.
However, the Sr SP stresses that the police are not taking any chances and will screen the CCTV footage of the bank and is also engaged in examining the call records of the deceased’s mobile phone. Meanwhile, the post mortem report states that the deceased died due to hanging, it is informed.
Senior officials of the Central Bank have reportedly been assured that the investigations are on with the police assuring to look into their doubts.

Sikkim celebrates I-Day with recognition of meritorious service and preparation for future plans

GANGTOK, 16 Aug: The 66th Independence Day was celebrated with much grandeur here at the Paljor Stadium on 15 August. Present was the Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling along with his cabinet colleagues, senior bureaucrats and local gentry.
The Police Medal and State Award for Meritorious Service were conferred to 12 persons on the occasion. The Chief Minister also released a series of eight books and launched the website of the Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries and Veterinary Services Department.
Indira Kumar Rai [Fire Service Officer, Namchi] and SD Lepcha [Fire Officer, Singtam] received the Police Medal, while Shyam Kumar Pradhan [Special Secretary, Home Department]; Purna Prasad Sharma [Senior Accounts Officer, Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department]; Binod Kumar Gurung [Deputy Registrar, Cooperation Department]; Sukpal Subba [Assistant Sub Inspector, SAP Pangthang]; Kalim Uddin [ASI (Mechanical Section), Sikkim Reserve Lines]; Lhamu Tshering Bhutia [Accountant, Ecclesiastical Affairs Department]; Sanjiv Kumar Tamang [Field Assistant, Animal Husbandry, Livestock, Fisheries and Veterinary Services Department]; Madan Kumar Cintury [Driver, Raj Bhawan]; Gopal Pradhan [Peon, Office of the Chief Secretary, Home Department] and Nem Bahadur Rai [Peon, Rural Management & Development Department] were conferred the State Award for Meritorious Service.
Mass drill and various cultural programmes by school children were also performed during the occasion.
March-past was performed by ITBP, SSB, SAP, IRBn, Sikkim Police [male and female], Home Guards, NCC platoons from various schools, Scouts and Guides, Army Pipe band and Sikkim Police Brass and Pipe band. The best overall platoon in Forces was won by ITBP while PNGSS school won the best platoon among NCC. The consolation prize went to Sikkim Police band.
Earlier, the Chief Minister read out the Independence Day address to the gathering.
Greeting the people on the occasion, the CM highlighted that the struggle of the Freedom Fighters which culminated in Freedom had shouldered citizens of Free India with “immense responsibility to rule onto ourselves and to preside over the destiny of the new Nation”.
“Let us rededicate ourselves to carry forward the dreams and aspiration of thousands of freedom fighters to their logical conclusion so that freedom we gained more than sixty years ago is fully justified and reflected in the life of our countrymen to live full and contented life every day and every minute,” he said.
Updating the people of Sikkim on the achievements of his Government in the past 18 years, the CM highlighted that Sikkim has “made an impressive headway in every other sector and in all spheres of development and ahead of many other States in India”.
Governance, he said, has consciously adopted “scientific approach” to engage both short-term and long-term development strategies to bring about comprehensive development of the State. “This we have been able to do through fruitful engagement with central leadership as per spirit as enshrined under Article 371F of the Indian Constitution and secondly through judicious harnessing of our natural resources to consolidate our internal revenue base,” he added.
On the new projects on the anvil, the CM informed that the Multi Specialty Hospital being developed in Gangtok will provide highly specialized medical treatment to the people within the state and that the ongoing construction will be completed by 2013. The ambitious Buddha Park project at Ravangla, he informed, will be inaugurated within the current financial year even as the first phase of work for construction of the even more ambitious Sky-walk at Bhaleydhunga has been started.
Reiterating the State Government’s rural focus, the CM shared that the commitment to linking remote parts of the State with all-weather roads has led to the total road length of Sikkim increasing from 1,800 km in 1994 to 3,700 km now. “Our next effort will be upgradation and extension of existing roads to make them quality roads,” he added.
He also made mention of the Panchayat elections scheduled for later this year and expressed confidence that people of Sikkim, “like in the past will participate in this great democratic tradition to elect our grassroot functionaries”.
“We rightfully claim that the installation of SDF Government facilitated socio-cultural reawakening among our simple citizens. The customs, traditions and religious belief belonging to cross-sections of people have been protected and promoted through regular state patronage. The weaker and the disadvantaged section of people are being prioritised through different grants for their socio-economic upliftment,” he highlighted.
On the government’s plans for revenue generation for continued infrastructure development, the CM admitted that more than 65% of the State’s central plan allocation goes into salary payments of the over 50,000 government employees [including Muster Roll, Work-charged and adhoc employees], leaving the State exchequer with limited resources to invest in other development priorities.  Given this reality, the government has resolved to harness the State’s natural and cultural assets and identified hydropower generation, service industries, hospitality industries, small scale industrial units, on-line gaming as priorities for generation of additional employment and leverage local economy.
[refer NOW! issue dated 15 August 2012 for details of announcements made]

IDIA offers aid to underprivileged students to pursue education in law

GANGTOK, 16 Aug: A team of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access to Legal Education [IDIA] of National University of Juridical Science [NUJS], Kolkata, is in Sikkim with the expressed purpose “to create world-class advocates and leaders from the underprivileged and marginalized communities by assisting them financially along with other resources”.
IDIA is a student organization which aims at empowering underprivileged students through legal education. The idea of the organization was started by the IPR [Intellectual Property Rights] chair Professor, Samnath Basheer, two years back, it was informed.
“Our aim is to increase the diversity in National Law schools and colleges in India,” said Lekden Basi [head of IDIA North East chapter] at a press meet today.
Mr Basi added that in order to get admission in Law schools one has to first get through the CLAT exam, the coaching fees for which are very high and students have to go to the cities for coaching classes. IDIA offers free coaching classes for the students and also provides them with mentors during the coaching while they also conduct an aptitude test.
After they crack the CLAT exam, the entire admission fees [Rs 10-15 lakh], laptop and pocket money will be provided by IDIA. The eligibility for students is decided on the basis of their parents’ income, and the students will be selected on the basis of an aptitude test following which an interview which will be conducted. The total family income should be less than Rs 40,000 per month, informed Mr Basi.
Publicity secretary, Titus James adds that as such no such preparation is required since IDIA will only be checking the aptitude to test the potential of the prospective student. During the first stage of sensitization they will inform people on law as a career.
“Last year we didn’t receive good feedback, this is our second time in Sikkim and we are here to spread more awareness on law. People don’t have much idea of Law, it is not only for the arts and commerce students, but more than half of the successful lawyers in big firms are from the science background”, said HR Coordinator, Ganashruthi.
The team informed that, the financial aid for the task has been provided by private donors, law firms and sponsors. Later they will also be following this up in Manipur, Meghalaya and Assam during the months of September and October. The team will be here till 20 August and are all set to conduct sensitization programmes at Namchi, Jorethang, and St. Xavier’s School, Pakyong.
It was informed that Johnson Subba from Pelling, West Sikkim after clearing the CLAT exam got admission in the National Law University [NLU] Orissa, and is in the 2nd year at present. Likewise Luci from Mizoram also cleared her CLAT exam and is studying at National University of Judicial Sciences [NUJS] Kolkata. Both these students were supported by IDIA.
“This year we are hoping for a bigger response, we are here for free scholarship. We are targeting the 11th and 12th standard students of any background", said volunteer Nurin Haidei
This year’s team of North East chapter is headed by Lekden Basi along with publicity secretary, Titus James, HR coordinator Ganashruthi, and volunteer Nurin Haidei.

Editorial: And This is Why Rumour Mongering is Dangerous

The assurances of the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Chief Minister of Karnataka, the DGP there and the State’s Home Minister [who addressed fleeing North Eastern people at the Bangalore railway station] have collectively failed to assuage the paranoia spread by rumours. People from the North East, in fact even people who look like they may be from the North East, remain unconvinced and the exodus continues from such cities as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. While there have been incidents of targeted violence against people from the North East in Pune over the past week, and one reported incident in Hyderabad, the exodus has been triggered not by these specific incidents, but instead by a rumour that people from the North East will eventually be targeted in retaliation to the communal violence played out in the Kokrajhar district of Assam last month. Rumours have pushed the flight, not on ground incidents; and that is why rumour mongering is so dangerous. As for the incidents in which people from the North East were targeted in retaliation to the Kokrajhar madness [and it is one because a month since the first incident of violence on 19 July, more than 2 lakh people continue to live in 279 refugee camps there], even those were instigated by doctored MMSes claiming to show the depravity with which Muslims were targeted in Kokrajhar. The same allegedly doctored images are believed to have triggered the violence which spurted in the Mumbai protest of last week against the communal violence in Kokrajhar. In fact, the protest march itself may have been forced by these pictures; why else would a rally be taken out on 11 August against a situation where calm had already reigned for more than two weeks?
And now, the monster is out of the bag. Thankfully, rumours have a limited shelf life and phase out faster than those foisting them would want. The latest lapse of reason might however play out for slightly longer because people with vested interest in fuelling communal distrust and the maybe well-meaning but definitely poorly informed and short-sighted do-gooders have gotten into the act. The angles with which right wing groups are addressing the issue at hand and the dangerous hyper-ventilation of some sections is likely to keep uncertainty in air for longer than is healthy. One must bear in mind that the entire fiasco started because of these reasons and the monster should not be allowed to slink away, but must be confronted and resolved when normalcy returns and these issues can be discussed without the rhetoric which defeats it. The original acts of violence [Kokrajhar in the present case] were reprehensible and just as there should be no attempts to try and justify it, so should no attempts be made to try and justify retaliatory attacks either [like were reported from Pune]. The immediate challenge is to return normalcy, but the long-term goal should be to ensure that rumours do not win again. This can happen only if the marginalised and the minorities are made to feel more secure. Rumours do after all feed on insecurities. Rumours also feed on lack of information, and all out efforts should be made to ensure that issues and incidents are addressed and explained instead of being overlooked or papered over. Groups that join issue with incidents should also inform themselves better and choose their words carefully. Off-hand mentions like “its an outrage that our childrens are dying out there...” [by the Sikkim RTI Forum in a press release on Thursday] are not only incorrect, but also potentially provocative in an already tense environment. At a time when authorities are trying to convince scared people from the North East that they are safe in the metros, statements like “...we are tagged NorthEasterns too and our childrens too are in danger” [again by the Sikkim RTI Forum] does very little to reassure worried parents or friends back home and claims that the Sikkim Government would be held responsible if something were to happen to students from Sikkim outside the State seeks to deflect attention from the real issue at hand. Come to think of it, it is not so surprising that rumour mongering continues to win...


In a recent conversation with some resource persons in Sikkim regarding the history of Sikkim, one thing that struck my mind was, why don’t we include the history of Sikkim in our Class VI, VII and VIII History syllabus? What I am saying (in addition to NCERT syllabus) is to include a small booklet on History of Sikkim.
My concern in this regard is that we must know the culture, history of our region, people and place. In today’s world, people everywhere define themselves through the places where they live or where they grew up. In my view school is the ideal place to teach the history and culture of a region. I am a true believer of education as a means to inculcate in the child his or her cultural values as well as the skill necessary to survive in today’s world.
We often talk about preservation of culture as our top priority, but never realize the importance of incorporating the study of cultural skills, folklore, and local history as part of the school’s curriculum.  I think these skills, myths, stories and history should be taught in schools. Perhaps a student should start learning traditional skills, myths, stories and legends in primary school and in high school the student would learn local, regional and national history.
I believe a school curriculum which incorporates traditional myths and legends, and local, regional and national history will strengthen our national as well as regional identities. I hope that through education we can teach our children to understand and appreciate the cultures in our region. I believe knowledge and understanding can break down cultural prejudices and ethnocentrism.
In this regard, I want healthy discussions and debates among the academicians as well as the think-tank of Sikkim to discuss into this matter and put forward this proposal in a more fruitful direction.
Binod Bhattarai, Research Scholar, Department of Sociology, Pondicherry University


As usual, I sat in front of the telly for the Independence Day address of the Prime Minister, an annual ritual I have become habituated to. Expectedly, Dr Manmohan Singh started by paying his obeisance to the Mahatma and Pandit Nehru in India's path to freedom. Then came the startling but true scenario of today’s India - a country which is still plagued by poverty, illiteracy, hunger and backwardness.
One of the promises made by the PM was the creation of new employment opportunities for the youth, especially the poor. It is a known fact that unemployment is a major factor in our country. But when we take the case of our State, things are different. There are no lack of employment opportunities. For our people, employment only means Government jobs. Look at the number of jobs being created in the service sector. There are hardly any takers from amongst the bonafide Sikkimese. The ever booming tourism sector for instance. How many of our locals are reaping the benefits? Same are the cases with other sectors. The opportunities are definitely not lacking but they are not being taken. The definition of unemployment is "the condition when people are willing to work but there is no work", which sadly is not applicable to Sikkim. There are a hosts of job opportunities available but our people are not ready to grab them! Still people crib about unemployment. Isn't it ironical? When the leader of the Nation is talking about MGNREGA as employment opportunity, shouldn't we acknowledge the fact that Sikkim abounds in multiple vistas for earning your daily bread, ranging from organic farming to opening of 7 star hotels! Is this not call development?
A sad statistic revealed by the PM's I-Day speech was the mention of malnutrition among the children, a shameful challenge faced by India even in the modern age. But again if we compare this with our State, well, it is for us to see and conclude. Our children are not only being well nourished but their nourishment is taken care of even before they are born. The expecting mothers are given iron and other supplements for their health as well as to deliver healthy babies. The ICDS centres are well run in the State and have also started providing free uniforms to the children. The mid-day meal scheme is much better implemented in our State compared to rest of the country. The other day, I was watching on TV about mid-day meal scheme in a school in Karnataka and I was appalled to see the food served to the students. The cooks were made to measure the rice in a small 'katori' and then fill the vessel with water. The teachers, in order to provide some nutrition were bringing a kind of local herb from the fields to add to the gruel! Unfortunately, the herb too was no longer available due to scanty rainfall. Just compare this to our schools, where meals consist of rice, dal, veg/ non-veg items!
An important declaration in the PM's speech was imparting training to the youth, in other words skill development through National Skill Development Council. This would mean imparting short term training of 6 weeks to 6 months. Well, well. Sikkim has already made giant strides in this front. The Directorate of Capacity Building was established almost 3 years ago and Livelihood Schools have been established in almost all the constituencies. What is being envisioned at the national level has already been implemented in our State. So, shouldn't we realize this and doesn't the Government deserve a pat on the back? Another example is the PM's sop of giving relief on interest for housing loans of less than Rs 5 lakhs. Corresponding to that,what do the Sikkimese people have? Chief Minister's Rural Housing Scheme and host of other schemes for the under privileged.
As for the education sector, as expected the PM harped on providing quality education. Many a critic will argue with me and say the same lies with the Sate Government. Agreed, our education system is not without its vices, but as far as the standard and quality of the so-called government school education is concerned our State can arguably be a front runner. The facilities and the avenues provided for the students by the Government are, I feel one of the best in the country. The Chief Minister's Meritorious Students' Scholarship Scheme(Class V toppers of Govt schools are sponsored by the State Government in best public schools of the country) and Chief Minister's Special Scholarship Scheme (Students securing admissions in top 10 universities of the world are sponsored by the State Government) are facilities unheard of anywhere in the world. Such steps are for the upliftment of the lower sections of the society. Even a child from the poorest of the poor can dream of studying in India's best school. This dream can realize only in Sikkim!
Over the years, we Indians have seen many Prime Ministers delivering the I-Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort barricaded by glass walls for security reasons. This very fact proves that our country is not safe and security is beefed up mainly during the national day. It was of no surprise when PM Manmohan Singh mentioned about the incidents of violence in Assam as well as his concern over internal security. But in this field too, we are blessed. In spite of being a border State, Sikkim is known as a peaceful State. However, it is high time we value our prevailing peace and security. They have not come on their own. Due credit has to be given to the Government and the people. A stable Government in the State has no doubt ensured peace, security and communal harmony.
Today, we are far ahead in almost every field as compared to rest of the country. Our forte lies in our unity in diversity. We are one of the younger states of the Indian Union but let us prove that in our youth lies our power! (pun intended)!
Karma Bhutia [recvd on email]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

UD&HD begins work on regularization of MR employees

GANGTOK, 14 Aug: The Urban Development and Housing department (UD&HD) has notified a policy to initiate immediate examination [for regulation of services] of cases of employees working on Muster Roll Service and having completed 10 years and more of service in the department with immediate effect.
A total of 197 employees working on MR have been selected under this category and now the department is in the process of scrutinizing their documents to verify their eligibility.
This initiative, it  is informed is aimed at providing the deserving employees the much needed financial and other departmental benefits which should inspire them to work with more zeal and enthusiasm in the coming days.
The UD&HD, it may be recalled, had constituted a committee headed by the Additional Secretary as chairman and six other officers which include the Joint Secretary-I, Chief Accounts Officer, Divisional Engineer (Planning), Town Planner cum Sr.Architect as members and the Deputy Secretary-I as member secretary.
The committee is examining the length of service rendered by each MR employee along with their performance while also reviewing the actual requirement of staff in each section and is recommending further requirement, relocation of excess manpower to other departments.
 “We have already started the process and have already brought many of the employees under Work Charge. I want to specify that regularization of these employees will definitely take a long time since there is a process put in place by the state government. However, keeping in view the need to boost this manpower, they will be given all monetary benefits under work-charge which is almost equal to that of a regular employee,” stated the Additional Secretary, UD&HD, LB Chettri.
While informing that this process will now be an annual affair within the department, he said that under the 197 employees, 81 were safai karamcharis, 84 were labourers, 11 were masons, 5 were chowkidars, 7 were peons and 9 were LDCs.
The Additional Secretary further informed that however, the actual seniority of some of the supervisors who fell under this category has been identified as a constraining factor for all the employees to be cleared for WC.
“We want to confirm first if the case of the employee is genuine before they are made eligible which is why many of the files are still under scrutiny. These 197 are in the list but all of them are still not selected as eligible. Since this is a welfare initiative of the department and the state government we want to make sure that the deserving people are selected. Usually this is a category of employees which are often overlooked in such matters which is why we have initiated the same,” stated the Additional Secretary.

NE MPs seek Home Minister’s intervention in Assam riots backlash against North Eastern students

GANGTOK, 14 Aug: MPs of North Eastern states including Sikkim MP, PD Rai today submitted a letter to the Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, calling for his immediate intervention in the alleged violence against North-Eastern students studying in metropolitan cities following the violence that erupted in Kokrajhar, Assam recently.
According to news reports in the national media, two persons were killed when a rally organised against the Assam riots went out of control in Mumbai on Saturday. In Pune, 10 students and professionals were beaten up on 08 and 09 August allegedly by members of the minority community which suffered in the Kokrajhar violence.
In Kolkata, posters and SMSes sympathizing with the Assam riot victims surfaced in various parts of the city while in Andhra Pradesh, two labourers from Assam’s Kokrajhar district were attacked. Incidents have also been reported from Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Providing these details, the MPs have urged the Home Minister to advise the respected State Governments to “take firm and punitive action against the perpetrators of this violence”. The Home Minister in response has assured to take up the matter immediately and advise all State Governments, especially those of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Addl. DGP Tshering Norbu conferred President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service

GANGTOK, 14 Aug [PIB]: Additional Director General of Police, CID Hqrs Gangtok, Tshering Norbu has been awarded the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service Independence Day - 2012 while Director, Vigilance, Police Secretariat Gangtok, Navundru Sridhar Rao has been awarded Police Medal for Meritorious Service Independence Day - 2012.
In all 892 personnel have been awarded police medals on the occasion of the Independence Day this year. President’s Police Medals for Gallantry have been awarded to 13 personnel, Police Medals for Gallantry to 113 personnel, President’s Police Medals for Distinguished service to 84 personnel and Police Medals for Meritorious Service have been awarded to 682 personnel.
28 personnel on the occasion of Independence Day, 2012 have also been awarded including President’s Correctional Service Medals for Distinguished Service to three personnel and Correctional Service Medals for Meritorious Service to 25 personnel.

65 years ago...

AUGUST 15, 1947… What a glorious day that must have been. A country had gained Independence after nearly two centuries of foreign rule. Celebrations were obviously the order of the day as the Union Jack was brought down across the country and the Tricolor unfurled.
At that time, Sikkim was an independent kingdom, but it did have a sizeable Indian population residing here and since all British establishments were being handed over to Free India, there were handing over rituals to be observed here as well. The Residency [what we now know as the Raj Bhavan], where the British Political Officer worked and lived, was to be taken over by an Indian representatives.
Most Indians in Sikkim at that time belonged to the plainsmen, business community. Although news that the British would be “freeing” India had reached even Sikkim well in advance, 15 August, 1947, was still a much anticipated date since only after the formalities had been completed would Independence become a reality.
Nehru’s famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech was broadcast live over the radio, but back in 1947, radio was a rare luxury in Sikkim. It was with the dawn of 15th August that celebrations really began.
Since distance makes the heart fonder, it was also natural that the spirits were high among them here on the day.
The entire Vyapari Samaj of Gangtok rose early on the day, distributed sweets at MG Marg. Everyone was wearing the traditional dhoti and handmade Gandhi topis graced many proud heads. Others wrapped smart turbans and Sikkim joined the Indian community here in the celebrations. They turned out in huge numbers and soon an impromptu procession had gathered at what is now MG Marg. They marched to the Residency to witness the change of guard there and then proceeded to the Palace to offer sweets to the Chogyal and share they joy with him. Then it was back to MG Marg for a daylong celebration.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cops announce cash award for info on JB Darnal assailants


GANGTOK, 13 Aug: The South district police are onto specific leads which are being followed up diligently in order to apprehend the culprits behind the murderous attack on JB Darnal, the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee vice president recently. While senior police officials are tightlipped about disclosing the kind and nature of the leads as it may hamper the ongoing investigation, they confirmed that the police have some suspects whom they are “watching closely”.
Meanwhile, the office of the SP [South] has announced a cash award of Rs. 10,000 to anyone with any information on the culprits which will lead to their arrest. The SP informs that people with such information/ leads can approach the police, either at the police headquarters in Gangtok or the South district police headquarters at Namchi, with concrete information. Such persons can also contact the police on email or on mobile phone.
“The identity of the informant will be kept confidential,” assures the SP South.
Such individuals with any information can approach the DGP, Jasbir Singh at 9434011127 or ADGP SD Negi at 9434022961 or DIG/R, V Vinayak at 7407000222 or SP South at 9733344400.
As for the leads on the attackers, these are at a preliminary stage and hopefully will lead to some kind of breakthrough, officials inform. The sniffer dogs deployed by the police to trace the attackers took the police to a jhora Mr. Darnal’s home at Namthang, South Sikkim, after which the trace vanished.
The water body erased further trace of the attackers and the dogs could not go further. The rains too helped in erasing tracks of the culprits. As of now, the police are engaged in marking the possible route which the attackers might have taken on their escape. At the same time people residing in the nearby areas are also being interrogated for any information they might have.
While the police have some suspects in mind they are not revealing any names yet. The movements of the suspects are being verified and information being gathered on their activities.
On the matter of the cash award, the SP South clarified that some people may require some incentive in order to approach the police with information. He further stated that the cash incentive for information was in addition to efforts being put in by the police themselves in hunting down the culprits.
Mr. Darnal was attacked by two masked men at his home on the night of 11 August with weapons causing him severe injuries. He is currently undergoing treatment at the Central Referral Hospital, Gangtok.

Misappropriation of bank funds under investigation at SBI Temi branch

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: It is now the turn of the State Bank of India to face charges of misappropriation of money with the Temi branch of the bank coming under the scanner following a complaint lodged by the Branch Manager. While a case has been registered under cheating and criminal conspiracy, the accused are yet to be identified even as misappropriation of funds amounting to over Rs.9 lakh by transferring of SBI funds into the accounts of private individuals has thus far come to light.
The current Branch Manager, NT Bhutia, the branch manager of the SBI branch at Singtam has been temporarily posted at the Temi branch for the internal inquiry underway there. It was during the internal inquiry, which is still underway, that the misappropriation came to light. As of now, the misappropriated amount is just over Rs.9 lakh but as the inquiry is still underway it is expected that the amount will go up.
As per reports, the malfeasance was detected during inquiry that funds had been unscrupulously transferreissd from the branch subsidy account (A/C no: 1189238857) to certain individual saving accounts. As of now the funds transferred have been traced to two individual saving accounts with A/C no: 317088108398 and 10364294006.
The amount transferred comes to Rs. 9,14,000. Subsidy account is the account into which various funds and loans provided by the Centre for certain schemes are released to the bank and is part of funds of the bank. This, it is informed, was between Rs. 40 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh with the Temi branch remaining in the account. It is from this fund that money was transferred to individual accounts.
It is suspected that this amount will go up as the internal inquiry is yet to conclude. The names of the account holders have also not been disclosed as yet. However, a criminal case has been registered at the Temi police station on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and breach of trust by a public servant.
The police have not actively intervened and are awaiting the conclusion of the enquiry after which a clear picture will emerge and also because the core banking system in operation.

Sikkim’s Marathon Man to race in Hyderabad

GANGTOK, 13 August: The ‘Marathon Man of Sikkim’, Amar Subba, today left to participate in the Airtel Hyderabad Marathon scheduled to be held on 26 August. A function was held at Cherry Village Resort in Darap, West Sikkim chaired by KB Limboo today to wish the 42-year-old runner luck for the 42 km marathon he will be undertaking in Hyderabad.
“My aim is to be in the top 10,” said Amar Subba before leaving Darap.
He stressed that he was undertaking the challenge to inspire the youth of Sikkim in the field. A man of his age competing at the national level should motivate the youth, expressed Mr Subba.
Stating that “age does not bother me,” he added that life is a challenge and one has to accept it.
Mr Subba has brought accolades for the state participating at various national level events. He also informed that he has been getting full support from the Area MLA, PL Subba, DC Santa Pradhan and DPO Jigmee Bhutia.
It may be recalled here that Mr Subba has completed a High Altitude Marathon, participated in Kolkata Amity Marathon and Siliguri Full Marathon. He is the first Indian runner to complete the High Altitude Marathon of 440 kms in just 7 days in severe climatic conditions [-15 degree]. Mr Subba’s next attempt is the Airtel Half Delhi Marathon in September and High Altitude Record Breaking Marathon from Gangtok to Gurudongmar [17800ft] in October.
The function was also attended by Darap Eco-Tourism president Sushil Tamang, Western Modern English School Principal Tarun Ghising, representative from the Darap Srijunga Club Amal Subba, Yatra Travels proprietor Suman Pradhan and SBI Manager Yuksam Ajit Gurung. The programme was hosted by West-South Educated Youth Platfrom coordinator Silash Tamang.

Martam NGO felicitates Tata Tea Jaago Re Inter Milan Soccer Star Machong Tshering

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: Martam Charitable Youth Association (an NGO) organised a felicitation programme for Machong Tshering Bhutia on 11 August on being selected for the Tata Tea Jaago Re Inter Milan Soccer Stars 2012.
Nearly 6,500 young players from 650 schools participated in the fifth season of the Tata Tea Jaago Re Inter Milan Soccer Stars. Machong is among the 16 youngsters who made the cut and will be representing India in a football tournament in Milan later this year.
The felicitation programme was attended by well wishers from Martam-Nazitam GPU and people belonging to Martam residing in Gangtok. The chief guest for the programme was president Martam-Nazitam GPU, Deepak Lama while others present included KB Thatal [panchayat vice president], Kalo Bhutia [panchayat secretary], SP Machangpa [panchayat member], Rinzing Gensapa [secretary KRC] and Dr Nima [JD Animal Husbandry].
A press release informs that Machong is the son of Tshering Samdup Bhutia, a resident of Martam Lingtam and is currently facing problems regarding his passport. During the programme, he informed that he has to reach Italy by 16 September but unfortunately he is yet to receive his passport.
Chief guest, Mr Lama said that he would extend all possible help and appealed to members of the NGO to help Machong out.  Members of the NGO have now decided to accompany Machong and his father to Kolkata to apply for tatkal passport, the release informs.
President Tshering Dawa thanked Mr Bikash, a teacher of Martam Sec School for his endless support and assistance in bringing Machong up to this level. He further expressed gratitude to Karma Thinley Bhutia [also known as Bito] for supporting and moulding Machong as a footballer during his childhood.
The NGO has appealed to the Sports and Youth Affairs Department to help Machong in the early delivery of his passport so that he can successfully represent the state and the country. “We congratulate and wish him success in the days ahead”, the release adds.

Assault in West Sikkim

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: Incidents of assault, particularly with weapons, seem to have become more frequent. In Nayabazaar, West Sikkim, a group of about 6 to 7 youth reportedly assaulted a couple of persons with iron rods seriously injuring one of them.
The assailants are yet to be traced by the police.
According to reports, two of the accused have been identified as Ajit Rai [alias ‘Tyson’] and another as Sajit Rai. They were allegedly accompanied by around 6 other persons in the assault on Anand Rai and others.
It is informed that Anand Rai along with Gopal Rai and others of Rohtak, West Sikkim, were in a canteen owned by Santosh Rai on the evening of 10 August, when, at around 9 PM, a group of youth arrived in a vehicle and began assaulting them with iron rods.
In the incident Anand Rai is reported to have sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the Jorethang PHC from where he was forwarded to the Namchi hospital. The Nayabazaar police are yet to trace the accused party which has been booked on charges of rioting and the case is under investigation.

Traffic halted again at 20th Mile for road clearing work

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: Traffic came to a halt again today on either side of the landslide near 20th Mile on the National Highway 31A for around two and a half hours due to road clearing work by the BRO this morning.
It may be mentioned here that a massive landslide had occurred on Saturday on the National Highway 31 A near 20th Mile. Due to this landslide, many boulders, uprooted trees and mud slides had posed a threat for vehicles travelling along this route.
It is informed that the BRO carried out works to remove the boulders, trees and mud this morning from 7:30 AM. Due to this vehicular traffic was totally stranded on either side till 10:30 AM. [from NANDU DUTRAJ]

Girl molested in moving car

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: A 24-year-old girl was allegedly manhandled and molested by a group of boys in a moving vehicle and later thrown out of the car causing her injuries. In an incident which should shock and outrage, the girl, traveling in a vehicle bound for Gangtok from Singtam, was reportedly physically abused by a group of boys in the vehicle while on the route.
Furthermore, on reaching 9 Mile on the highway she was pushed out causing her injuries. A complaint has been filed with the Ranipool police, however the victim has not been able to provide details of the vehicle or its registration number. Ranipool police inform that they are on the case and are putting in all their efforts to trace the accused.

Case registered against anti-govt graffiti in Namchi

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: Following the graffiti painted on the walls of a public place at Namchi recently, the police have registered a case under the Sikkim Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act, 1988. This case has been registered against unknown persons for having defaced the walls of the Taxi Plaza at Namchi Bazaar with painted graffiti.
The complaint was lodged by the Bazaar officer, UD&HD under whose jurisdiction it falls. It is further informed that the police had initially rounded up a few suspects but no arrests have been made as yet.  The incident took place on 09 August.

Monday, August 13, 2012

SPCC member attacked at Namthang; Assault politically motivated says Bhandari

NAMCHI/ GANGTOK, 12 Aug: Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee member, JB Darnal, who was brutally attacked at his residence at Bingbong, Namthang near Mamring last night at 7:35 PM was brought to Central Referral Hospital, Gangtok, for a CT Scan from South District Hospital this evening. Mr. Darnal, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Assembly elections on a Congress ticket from Zoom-Salghari, has suffered grievous injuries to his scalp along with injuries to his hands, abdomen and back.
Mr. Darnal is convinced that the attack was premeditated and politically motivated.
While speaking to NOW! today, Mr. Darnal said that the attackers had obviously scouted the area in advance. “Otherwise, they would not have been familiar enough with the area to have escaped so quickly,” he said.
He added that he has no personal enmities to have warranted such an attack and remains convinced that the motivation was political.
About the incident, he said: “I had just finished eating dinner when two persons clad in black masks barged in and threw chilly-powder on my face before they started hacking me with a bamphok. Police have also found a bamphok with the price tag of Rs.450 still stuck on the handle. They had planned the attack in advance and knew from where they could make their escape. It was when I too got hold of my khukuri and retaliated that they ran away. The mask of one attacker was also left behind in the scuffle. One of them could also be injured”.
Not naming names directly, when asked whom he suspected of being behind the attack, Mr. Darnal dropped a broad hint stating that the hearing of his challenge in the High Court against the institution of the RK Patra Commission by the State Government was coming up on 22 August.  
Present at the hospital here was the SPCC president, Nar Bahadur Bhandari, who reiterated that the entire episode had a political agenda and questioned the law and order situation in the State under the present government.
“I do not have faith in the government as even till now we have not got justice for the killings of four of our party supporters that include South district general secretary, Taraman Chettri, Pema Lepcha of Chakung, Pempa Bhutia of Sang and Dhan Maya Darnal of Jorethang, all of who were murdered in cold blood,” the SPCC president stated.    
He further stated that the police however were investigating the case and that he had spoken to the DGP yesterday seeking the quick arrest of the accused. He also informed that dog squads had been put in action and the police were investigating the matter thoroughly.
While stating that he did not want to divulge further information as it could hamper the investigations, Mr. Bhandari said that at Namchi hospital a huge gathering of sympathizers had gathered condemning the brutal attack, however, no representative of the SDF party had come forward to condemn the heinous attack.
Meanwhile, the District Collector [South] and Superintendent of Police [South] visited Mr Darnal at the Namchi District hospital this morning while Opposition leaders Bhojraj Rai, BJP State unit president Padam Chettri, SPCC vice president Lalit Sharma Adhikari, Mr. Bhandari himself and other leaders also met Mr Darnal.
An FIR was filed at Namchi Police Station following which a case has been registered as Case no. (39)12 Under Section 458/307/34 IPC against unknown persons.
The BJP-Sikkim president has condemned the attack and called for the early arrest of the culprits. Also calling for strict action against the guilty by the state government he stressed that this incident should not be ignored like similar other attacks on members of the opposition have been in the past.
Mr Chettri supported the “politically motivated” contention attack and while stating that although it is not clear as to who was behind the incident but if the ruling party is found to have had a hand in it then they will be prompted to tackle the case accordingly.
ASESE&UA has also condemned the attack as yet another example of “lawlessness” taking roots in the state. Many such attacks on vocal individuals, groups including members of the media have been witnessed in the past and every time the state’s police have failed to nab the culprits, states a press release issued by the association.

SDF condemns attack, rubbishes allegations against it
GANGTOK, 12 Aug: Sikkim Democratic Front has condemned the attack on Congress leader JB Darnal by some antisocial elements at his home at Namthang. The SDF party has also demanded the early arrest of the culprits and sought strict action against the guilty. The party also prayed for the quick recovery of Mr Darnal.
A press release issued by SDF spokesperson, Bhim Dahal, claims that the incident is an attempt to defame the ruling party and the state government by some anti-social elements. The allegations made against the SDF party by opposition leaders “without thinking once and without verifying the situation” is not right, expresses the release.
The party maintains that the SDF party has always believed in democracy, justice and law since its formation and has even been successful in establishing a democratic system of administration in the state. The party has urged the people to deliver their individual responsibility in order to maintain peace in the state and to prevent those trying to instigate violence and spread terror in the state. 

REC to give additional Rs 995 cr loan for Teesta III hydel project

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: With the Teesta Stage III hydroelectric power project at Chungthang being developed by Teesta Urja now facing uncertain delays and suspension in construction activities over a variety of reasons, the cost of the project is informed to have escalated to more than Rs. 8,500 crore. Not only has the cost escalated, but seeing the progress of works at the project site especially after being hit with the earthquake of 18 September during which a number of workers lost their lives, it is unlikely that the project will be commissioned next year as scheduled.
However, now it is informed that the project will be infused with fresh funds by Rural Electrification Corporation of India. The REC, it is learnt, will extend an additional loan of Rs 995 crore to the 1,200-MW Teesta III project. This will take the REC’s total lending to the project to Rs 3,095 crore.
REC is a leading public infrastructure finance company in the power sector under the Ministry of Power; it promotes and finances rural electrification projects across India. The company provides loans to central and state sector power utilities, state electricity boards, rural electric cooperatives, NGOs and private power developers.
Teesta III project has seen substantial cost overruns due to delays on account of natural calamities as well as legal hurdles. With the roadway connecting to North Sikkim often blocked by landslides, construction activity has been affected. A major factor in the suspension of activity at the project site has been the disallowance in the traffic of heavy vehicles along the north Sikkim roads since the collapse of the Rangchang bridge. However project officials still maintain that the project will be complete by December next year with 70% of the works completed.
It is informed that the cost overrun is about Rs 2,700 crore. The additional term loan of Rs 995 crore will include Rs 851 crore senior debt as well. Initially REC was to lend Rs 2,100 crore for the project. The fresh amount has been sanctioned since the project cost has jumped to Rs 8,581 crore from Rs 5,700 crore which was the initial estimate. It is informed that REC communicated to project developer Teesta Urja about its decision to sanction the additional loan sometime last week.
Only a few weeks ago, the State government had infused its part share of equity into the project amounting to about Rs. 162 crore out of a total of Rs. 292 crore which allows it 15% stake in the project. The state government is awaiting further sanction of funds by the Power Finance Corporation to infuse its full share of 26% equity in to the project. Singapore-based Asian Genco Pte holds 50.1 per cent stake in Teesta III project.

Clauses violated, ACT wants MoU on Pannan HEP terminated

GANGTOK, 12 Aug: Detailing that specific clauses of the MoU signed between Himagiri Hydro Energy Pvt Ltd and the State Government have been violated by the project developer, the Affected Citizens of Teesta [ACT] has demanded that the MoU signed in 2005 be terminated.
An ACT press release issued by its general secretary Dawa Lepcha informs that as per ‘Article 4: Obligation of the Company, Clause 4.7’ of the MoU signed on 05 December 2005, the company was required to achieve Financial Closure within 12 months from the date of signing of the agreement. In case of delay in obtaining Environment Clearance, the MoU allowed for the financial closure “to be achieved within six months from the date of Environmental Clearance”. The company got the Environmental Clearance on 02 January, 2007.
However, on the basis of information acquired through RTI, ACT, the release informs, found out that even six and a half years since the MoU was signed and four and a half years after the Environment Clearance was acquired, the company has not achieved the Financial Closure.
As per the same Article and clause 4.9: (Equity participation) and clause 4.9.1, the State Government and the company are to execute the 26% equity subscription agreement (the public share) within six months from the signing of the MoU, the release mentions and further alleges that even after six and a half years of signing of the MOU, the equity subscription agreement has not been executed.
ACT has demanded to know why these articles and clauses have not been adhered to. ACT has also questioned the state government’s inaction against the company for such violation of the MoU.
The release further demands the termination of the MoU as per Article 5, Clause 5.1 of the MOU for the “interest of all and the environment and ecology of the state”.

Cheated buyer files police complaint, lands Amin and seller behind bars

RANIPOOL, 13 Aug: An Amin [land surveyor] of the East District Collectorate and one other have been arrested by the Ranipool police on charges of having cheated a person of Rs. 4.5 lakh in connection with a land.
The two are alleged to have colluded to sell off a piece of land not belonging to either of them measuring 3,600 square feet at Marchak, Rumtek, at a throwaway price of Rs.3.5 lakh to the prospective buyer, Ashok Tamang. The cheated person filed a police complaint upon learning that Ajay Subedi, who had sold him the land, was not even the owner of the piece of land and that the Amin even though he knew about it went ahead to measure the land and also assisted in completing various formalities related to land sale and transfer of registration.
As per an FIR filed on 10 August by Ashok Tamang, a resident of Lall Market, Gangtok, on behalf of his wife Taruna Pradhan, Ajay Subedi, a resident of Sichey, below Paljor Stadium, had approached him with a proposal to sell his land situated at Marchak, Rumtek some months back. It is informed that the complainant was taken to the spot where Ajay Subedi allegedly showed him a plot stating that the land belonged to him.
After negotiating a deal for Rs 3.5 lakh for the said plot, Ajay Subedi is alleged to have conspired with the Amin, BK Gurung, who was present during the measurement of the land and other official formalities before the deal went through.
In the FIR it is stated that the Amin actually measured the plot that was selected by the complainant but did not belong to Ajay Subedi. In the process the complainant paid up Rs. 3.5 lakh for the plot with the approval and consent of the Amin who, it is informed.
During the process, the complainant is also said to have paid an additional Rs. 1 lakh to Ajay Subedi for another plot of land in the same area which he also claimed belonged to him. The Amin is said to have told the complainant that the land would be registered soon and a deal was reached that the remaining amount of around Rs 3 lakh would be paid by the complainant to Ajay Subedi after the land was registered. However, even this plot of land did not belong to the accused.
It is informed that the complainant received a sale deed from the East District Collectorate dated 17 January 2012 for the land that he had purchased for Rs 3.5 lakh. The complainant informs that he did not find anything suspicious at the time since the paper work had been done under the directions of the Amin.  
It is only some months after the sale deed was prepared that the complainant went to Marchak-Rumtek to start construction of a farm that he found out that the land sold to him was not the same plot.
“I was waiting for the registration of the second plot and in the mean time went to the spot to start with construction works. It was then that some locals came and challenged me that the land belonged to them. While I enquired I was told by the people that the land belonging to Ajay Subedi was in another location. I realized then that Ajay and the Amin had duped me,” stated the complainant.
Soon after, the complainant is said to have intimated the SDM, Gangtok about the fraud after which Ajay Subedi was summoned on 07 August. It is informed that Ajay Subedi admitted to the fraud and also agreed to pay back the entire sum with an interest of 10 percent per month on the total amount he had received by 31 October 2012.
“The SDM was very cooperative and responded immediately after I made the complaint to her office, she also assured that action would be initiated against the Amin who was away on a field survey at the time. However, since this was a case of cheating and fraud I approached the SP, East after consultation with the SDM,” said the complainant.
“It is when the SP intervened and I filed an FIR with the Ranipool police station on 10 August that Ajay Subedi was arrested the same evening”, he added. Simultaneously, the Amin, BK Gurung who actually is not the concerned Amin for Marchak-Rumtek and whose jurisdiction is Samdong in East Sikkim was also taken into custody on 11 August.

Darap eco-tourism team stresses need to standardize and streamline home stay guidelines

GANGTOK, 13 Aug: 35 aspiring entrepreneurs from Darap Eco-Tourism Development Committee (DETDC), the society that has recently been recognized as the top ten Locals in Tourism in the World and the best village tourism website by UK based newspaper, The UK Guardian were in Gangtok as part of a two-day long exposure trip under the capacity building programme for service providers organized by DETDC in collaboration with Sikkim Tourism and sponsored by MoT, GoI.
The society which has put Darap village in West Sikkim on the top home stay destinations in the region and the country have also been awarded the Best Tourism Development Committee in the state in 2010. With 30 rooms in the village now available to tourists, the village has not looked back since it started with the idea back in 2007.
On 11 August, an interactive meet was organized between the stakeholders and representatives of Sikkim Hotel and Restaurant Association (SHRA) and TAAS. Present were SHRA, president, Bhanu Pratab Rasaily, TAAS, general secretary, S Norgey Lachungpa, local entrepreneur Pintso Gyatso and president, DETDC,Sushil Tamang.
During the meet the DETDC president while thanking SHRA for its pivotal role in assisting the committee for the logistics support, initiation of capacity building programmes and development of marketing strategies and publicity through Mayfair resorts and Hotels under its corporate social responsibility initiative spoke on major thrust areas that need to be addressed urgently for the smooth development of the home stay tourism sector.
Amongst the points discussed was the need for the state government to standardize and streamline the guidelines for home stays since they were not in place at the moment.
“There have to be separate norms for home stays since it is a different product that we are selling tourists. There have to be licensing in place if you want to deliver a top product to the clients. Presently we do not have rules which will enable us to restrict entry of antisocial elements and also look into matters of death, etc, if something untoward were to happen here,” stated Sushil Tamang.
Giving an example he mentioned that hotels have form C/D for foreigners but there was no such provision in place for home stays which was an area the government should look into. It may be informed that a total of 1500 tourists visited Darap village this tourist season out of which 70 percent were foreign and high-end tourists.
While stating that now home-stay service providers should change their mindset of waiting for the government to “spoon-feed” this sector he stressed that it was now the responsibility of the stakeholders to give back to the state. Here, he added that the support of the state government was valued but more grooming on these areas was needed for the operators.
Similarly, SHRA president, Bhanu P Rasaily during the interactive session spoke on the international recognition Darap had received in the past few years and commented that it was the dedication of the members that had made the same possible.

During their two-day visit, the entrepreneurs were taken to the Mayfair Spa, the casino and its restaurant where they were given an overview of how a top-end hotel functions.  

USFC to take on Australian A-League team and Lajong in NE Lajong Super Series

GANGTOK, 12 Aug: United Sikkim Football Club will complete a promising three-cornered contest being jointly organised by Shillong Lajong FC and JPR Events, in association with All Manipur Football Association, Assam Football Association and Meghalaya Football Association. “The North East Lajong Super Series”, to be played from 24 August to 01 September will feature, for the first time in the history of Indian football, a top Australian A-League club, Wellington Phoenix. The tournament will be played at venues in Shillong, Imphal and Guwahati. The third team in the series – Lajong FC.
Wellington Phoenix Football Club is a professional club from New Zealand which plays in Australia’s premier professional football competition, the A-League. In the 2011-12 season, it finished in the top four of the League table, and the team will be lea by the Kiwi 2010 FIFA World Cup and club coach Ricki Herbert.
The team also boasts of four World Cup players, who represented New Zealand in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where they did not lose a single game. These include-Tony Lochhead,Benjamin Sigmund,Leo Bertos,and Jeremy Brockie.
The tournament will be played in a round robin format where in all the three teams will go head to head and the top two teams will play in the final which is slated to be held in Shillong on 01 September.
The tourney begins with USFC taking on Wellington Phoenix on 24 August in Guwahati.

Allegation that SDF is behind dual citizenship charge against VC laughable



Sections of the media have recently levelled veiled charges that the Sikkim Democratic Front Party and more specifically its President, Dr. Pawan Chamling, are behind the statement of one Dr. Shiva Kumar Sharma, a resident of Sumbuk. He apparently had applied for a post in the Sikkim University and was denied the same. He has alleged that Dr. Mahendra P. Lama has dual citizenship.
We condemn this media writing as both false and mischievous. Let us trace the history of the ramification of this allegation.
Ever since India gained Independence 64 years ago the Citizens of this country of Nepali/Gorkhali ethnicity or descent have been time and again targeted as immigrants. Radical groups have indeed taken up cudgels. They forget that the community have given their blood for this nation many a time and will continue to do so. This issue comes up again since Shiv Sena MP, Anant Geete gave a statement in the House stating that there are 70 Lakh immigrants from Nepal in India during the debate on the Kokrajhar issue in Parliament on the 8th August.
However to settle this question we have two major movements in the course of this history.
One is the formation of Sikkim as the 22nd State of India in 1975 vide Constitution amendment and insertion of Article 371 F into the constitution of India. A large number of Sikkimese of Nepali ethnicity therefore in one stroke became the citizens of India. The others being Sikkimese of Lepcha ethnicity and Sikkimese of Bhutia ethnicity. There are a few Sikkimese of Business community also. Sikkimese is defined as those who have the original Sikkim Subject Registration Number and form. Descendents have the Certificate of Identity (COI).
The other movement is the demand for Gorkhaland which is in process. More recently the Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) has taken office. Government of India and the West Bengal Government recognises the legitimate rights of the Indians of Nepali/Gorkhali ethnicity living in the Darjeeling hill districts as well as those extra areas carved out of the other parts where there is a domination of such people. It is worthwhile to mention here that our Party passed a resolution insisting on the formation of Gorkhaland in the Sikkim Assembly. This is no mean task as such an issue does not even fall under our jurisdiction. However, our support for the people of the GTA has been unwavering especially when it comes to the question of the Gorkha identity.
Hence this immigrants issue is a settled one.
However, it will continue to surface time and again because of the Indo Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1950. The treaty allows for free movement of goods and people across the two countries and a close collaboration on matters related to defence and foreign affairs. This treaty also granted rights to Nepalese and Indian citizens to reside and work and even obtain citizenship in India and Nepal respectively.
Hence during the Maoist insurgency in Nepal large number of people did emigrate to different parts of the world to find work. Many have come into India as well and are living in India under the aegies of this treaty. This must be the answer whenever this question crops up.
Now the kind of allegation against Dr. Lama which is referred to is not new.
Ex Member of Parliament from Assam, Mani Kumar Subba, has been targeted for his citizenship issue. His case was even handed over to the CBI and is currently still in the Supreme Court.
Our President and Chief Minister of Sikkim, Dr. Chamling has been at the receiving end of this same kind of allegation. His case has been dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Allegations have been leveled by our own people and that too from Sikkim. In fact the effigy of his has been burned in Siliguri at the behest of these people.
The moot question therefore is where was the Gorkha Parisangh and other Nepali jati organisations when these cases were in full flow? Where were these pious thoughts which now they have for Dr. Mahendra Lama?
We therefore ought not to throw stones when the house is made of glass. This adage is perfectly made for this situation.
Hence the allegation that SDF is behind Dr. Sharma is laughable at best.
Dr. Lama assumed the position of the first Vice Chancellor of the Sikkim University thanks to our State Government’s efforts. The State Government’s demand for the Central University and insisting on bringing ‘one of our own’ as its first VC was acquiesced to by the Government of India. However, Dr. Lama failed to read the aspirations of the people of Sikkim. He therefore did not work in the best interests of the Sikkimese people. We have no other issue with him.
Dr. Sharma a PhD. in his own right and is a responsible member of the Sikkimese community. His allegation is to be dealt with even as others like M. K. Subba or Dr. Chamling have dealt with it in the past.
And all the fuss about insider outsider is media created and distorted version. The Sikkimese people have given their mandate and that too overwhelmingly to the SDF Party. In the course of the progress and development of Sikkim a large number of job and other economic opportunities have inevitably happened. The demand for skilled and other manpower will always be filled whether from within or from outside the State. Hence when the Party President and Chief Minister raises the concern that most of these opportunities are not being taken up by Sikkimese people he is making a statement which is of deep concern for the people of Sikkim. It is therefore telling the people of Sikkim that they have to work harder to keep these opportunities which is meant for the people of Sikkim within the Sikkimese fold. It does not have to be termed or described as anti outsider people sentiment.
Who will safeguard the interest of the Sikkimese people other than the party which has been given the mandate by the people? It is also the right and duty of every Sikkimese to do this by becoming competent and taking on the responsibility to do so.
We again condemn the veiled allegations as have been highlighted earlier against our party and President, Dr. Pawan Chamling.
[the writers are the Spokespersons of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front]