Friday, November 9, 2012

Sore losers launch vicious attack on NOW!


5, INCLUDING RULING PARTY’S DEFEATED PANCHAYAT ASPIRANT FROM TINGMOO-GHAIKHANA, PLACED UNDER 5-DAY POLICE REMAND

GANGTOK, 08 Nov: A group led by the defeated panchayat aspirant of the ruling party from Tingmoo-Ghaikhana ward under Kabi-Tingda constituency of North Sikkim vandalised the NOW! office here at Gairi Gaon late on Wednesday night. The group had arrived from Kabi armed with an arsenal of stones and hurled them viciously through the windows and caused extensive damage to one floor of the office. They raised slogans against the paper and courted arrest when police personnel from the Tadong police out-post arrived at the spot. This was around 11:15 pm, shortly after the paper has been sent to print and the staff had departed for the day. Had anyone been present in the office at the time, they would have been grievously injured.
Following the incident, an FIR was lodged at Sadar Thana last night and five persons, including the defeated ward panchayat aspirant, 25-year-old Bibi Doma Tamang, were taken into custody by the police. The others arrested in connection with the attack are - 20-year-old Pem Chuki Tamang, 26-year-old Tashi Bhutia, 30-year-old Gyatso Bhutia and 22-year-old Pahalman Tamang, all reportedly from Tingmoo-Ghaikhana.
The Sadar Thana has registered the case under sections 452 [House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint], 511 [Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment], 147 [Rioting], 149 [Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object] and 427 [Mischief causing damage] of the Indian Penal Code. The accused have been sent to five days police remand.
The cause of their ire is baffling to say the least. It transpires that they believe that NOW! inflated the margin by which Bibi Doma Tamang lost the ward election. Incidentally, some other sections had highlighted this to the NOW! office a earlier in the day and a corrigendum projecting the figures claimed by them included in Thursday’s edition. It now transpires that what this ill-informed group believed to be an “inflated” margin is in fact the vote-share for the ward officially released by Returning Officer for North Sikkim.
Be that as it may, the group held dearly to their grouse and targeted the NOW! office with vandalism after festering over it throughout the day. The incident has been condemned by political parties and media groups across the board, and seeing the attack on the NOW! office as an assault on all media and joined hands under the banner of the Press Club of Sikkim to not only condemn the incident in their papers, but also on the streets. They marched down from the PCS office on DPH road to the NOW! office in a protest rally as a show of solidarity and to send out a clear message that attacks on the media will attract forceful and unanimous condemnation.
Before that, the journalists called on the DGP Jasbirbir Singh at his office regarding the incident and presented a written representation signed by all journalists present. During the half-hour meeting, the DGP assured that the police would take the most stringent action and increase the police strength at Tadong Out-Post due to the presence of many media houses in the area.

CM calls on Union Home Minister


PENDING DEMANDS AND REQUEST TO ALLOW KARMAPA TO ATTEND BUDDHA PARK INAUGURATION REITERATED

GANGTOK, 08 Nov [IPR]: Chief Minister Pawan Chamling called on Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, in Delhi today. The meeting between the two leaders was exhaustive and held in an atmosphere of cordiality.
The law and order situation of the State also came up for review and the efforts of the State Government in keeping and maintaining peace and tranquility was commended.
The Chief Minister pressed for the early resolution of long-pending demand of the people of Sikkim and the State Government for providing reservation of seats for the Limboo and Tamang communities [as scheduled tribes] which was their fundamental right in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
The Chief Minister also took this opportunity to press for the early categorization of the left out Sikkimese communities as Scheduled Tribes by the Government of India.
Lastly, the Chief Minister reminded the Union Home Minister of the State’s demand for permitting Karmapa Ugen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim at the time of the inauguration of Buddha Park at Ravangla in the third/ fourth week of March 2013 by Dalai Lama for blessing Buddhist followers and the devotees of Sikkim and the surrounding region. The Union Home Minister said that he would attend to all the issues raised positively.
The Chief Minister also met Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia and apprised the new Union Minister of the huge potential in power of 10,000 MW in the State and requested for all assistance to the State Government for achieving the target in harnessing power.
The Union Minister assured him positive help from the Government of India in this regard. The Chief Minister invited Union Minister Power to visit Sikkim at an early date.

Chacha Nehru Sports Award for EMRS star


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: Nima Doma Bhutia of Eklavya Model Residential School [EMRS], Gangyap, was conferred with the prestigious Chacha Nehru Sports Award from the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi for winning the overall Best Player title in the Under-19 National Basketball Championship.
She was awarded with a certificate and cheque of Rs 6000. Nima Doma is the captain of the EMRS basketball girl’s team. EMRS had won the U-19 Basketball Championship at Tamil Nadu last December.
An EMRS basketball team was selected by Sikkim Basketball Association to represent the state for the 1st North East U-19 Basketball Tournament at Aizwal, Mizoram organized by Mizoram Basketball Association from 13 to 16 November. A 12-member team captained by Nima Doma Bhutia will be leaving on 10 November. Likewise, the EMRS will also be playing in another championship at Jaipur from 06 to 11 December.

Brazenness of attackers sends out worrying signs


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: That the perpetrators of the attack on the NOW! office are still under police remand is partly due to the joint effort of the entire press fraternity of Sikkim and more so the commitment of the police not to allow any compromises in the case.
The attack on the office of the newspaper late on the night of 07 November by the losing SDF candidate of Tingmoo Ghaikhana ward under Kabi Tingda constituency, Bibi Doma Tamang, in which the office furniture and other items were damaged is being unanimously condemned as a dangerous trend suggestive of political parties, especially the ruling front, which are growing intolerant, even of the truth.
Bibi Doma Tamang and her supporters swooped down on the Sikkim NOW! office last evening and threw rocks and stones, threatening the office staff and challenging them. It had only been a few minutes since the last of the staff had left and the office closed down. They then courted arrest by Tadong police out-post personnel, convinced at the time that the party bosses above them will get them out on bail early enough the next morning.
This was exposed when the PA of the area MLA [Kabi Tingda], Minister TT Bhutia, Tankyo Bhutia, appeared at the Sadar Thana in the morning to make bail for the five accused. That however did not come through, but the attempt attracted attention because it bore out the brazenness with which the attack was planned, with the accused reportedly announcing their plans in advance and calling on their seniors to get them out of the lock up after they had carried out the attack.
As soon as the incident was over, the perpetrators surrendered to the police smiling and still taunting the press in the knowledge that they would be out the next morning without much fuss. It is this attitude and support that is disturbing to the peace-loving people of the state.
Apart from condemnations, it is expected of the area MLA in question to at least own up moral responsibility for the incident and apologise to the media in Sikkim for the attack by party workers from his constituency.
As explained elsewhere in this paper, the attackers launched such a vicious attack on the basis of a perceived slight. Their grouse was that the newspaper had wrongly mentioned the number of votes by which the SDF candidate had lost in the ward panchayat election. As it turns out, this was not an incident of wrong reporting, but the statement of votes as handed out by the DC North on 05 November. The winning Independent candidate, the accused contend, had secured 137 votes but the official figures record 257 votes [as reported in the paper] whereas the vote share of the losing SDF candidate was given as 120 when it should have been 121.
Such a thin veil of tolerance, especially on the part of the ruling front, is unsafe, dangerous and a threat to the efforts being put in by all sections of society to put Sikkim into the mainstream, and also, as people are wont to say, a setback to tourism.

Media fraternity condemns attack on NOW!


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: The media fraternity of the state and those from the neighbouring hills have strongly condemned the attack on NOW! office last night.
The Press Club of Sikkim, while urging the State government to ensure the safety of journalists and newspaper houses, has underlined that “attacking a newspaper office cannot be the way of expressing one’s electoral frustration”.
The Press Club has further urged the Sikkim Democratic Front leaders to take action against its members involved in the attack.
These demands have been supported by Indian Journalists’ Union, Journalist Club of Siliguri and Press Club of Kalimpong.
Meanwhile, the Sikkim Federation of Working Journalists (SFWJ) condemning the attack has stated that the failure of the administration to bring to book those elements responsible for attack on media houses in Sikkim in the past has emboldened such elements to continue violently venting their displeasure with media houses and journalists.
SFWJ has further appealed to all state governments in the Northeast, including Sikkim, to provide CCTV cameras to all media houses so that journalists and media houses in the region work in a safe and secure environments. SFWJ has also urged all journalists in the region to stay united and to speak up unitedly and effectively.
Sikkim Mahila Partrakar Sangh [SMPS] has also condemned the attack as an attempt to suppress the freedom of the press and demanded that the ruling party take strict action against its youth and Cheli Morcha members involved in this attack. Pointing out that the culprits have accepted their crime, SMPS has also demanded that the administration take strict action against them.
Journalists from West and South Sikkim have also demanded that those involved in the incident be expelled from the SDF party along with strict action be taken against the culprits as per the law. They have also demanded that the state administration ensure security for the press fraternity in the state.
Condemning last night’s incident as a “barbaric attack”, the Darjeeling Press Guild has stated that it is not just an attack on a particular publication but on the entire press fraternity.
Kalimpong Press Club [KPC] has stated that the attack on the press when the Chairman of the Press Council of India and journalists from across the country were in the state is a totally condemnable act. KPC has demanded that the administration take a more serious note of the safety of journalists in the state.
Similarly, Sikkim Press Association [SPA] also condemned the incident stating the act was cowardly and urged the administration to act strictly so that such incidents did not repeat in the future. The association welcomed the SDF party’s assurance to take strict action against those involved in the incident.

SDF resolves to take disciplinary action against attackers


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: When confronted with confirmation that the accused in the attack on the NOW! office were led by its own ward panchayat candidate, the Sikkim Democratic Front, apart from condemning the incident in strong words, has also announced that the party’s disciplinary action committee has resolved to take strict against the accused.
In a press release issued today, the party has conveyed that such elements which were undermining the ideology and principles of the party and bringing the party to disrepute with their actions will be strictly dealt with.
Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai, while speaking to NOW! over the phone from Delhi also registered his condemnation of the incident and reiterated that “as a party, we neither encourage nor condone such acts”. The attack was “not acceptable”, he said, while adding that since the culprits have been identified and booked, the law will be allowed to take its course and justice ensured.
This sentiment was also echoed by the SDF press release which clarifies further that this was an attack carried out individuals, who even if they belonged to the party, did not have the party’s sanction for the deed and appeals that the deeds of the individuals not be blamed on the party.

ASESEUA and Sikkim RTI Forum denounce attack


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA] has termed last night’s attack on the NOW! office as yet another attack on democracy by the Sikkim Democratic Front. The Association has stated that this is not the first time that the state has witnessed such an incident and alleged that every time the state administration and police have acted in a dissatisfactory manner.
Following the ruling party’s victory in the recent elections, there has been a total break down of law and order in the state, the release alleges. ASESEUA has further demanded that the Governor and the Union Government to immediately dissolve the state government and invoke Governor's rule “for proper functioning of the state at this present juncture”.
Also condemning the attack, Sikkim RTI Forum has stated in a press release that, “On 06th November the Governor of Sikkim said ‘Media is the light of Democracy’ and on 07 November, Sikkim NOW's office was attacked. We speak of democracy and we attack the wheel on which the very democracy moves”.
The Forum has stated that the attack on NOW office is not an attack on the "Press" but an attack on democracy itself. It has further stated that in order to create a healthy and informed society, a strong media is a necessity and under no circumstances will an attack on media be tolerated.

Opposition condemns attack on media


GANGTOK, 08 Nov: Condemning the attack on the NOW! office, the Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party [SHRPP] has demanded that Pawan Chamling step down as the Chief Minister for what the party sees as his failure to maintain peace or uphold democracy in the state.
An SHRPP press release mentions that after the attack on Hamro Prajashakti and Himalayan Mirror five years ago, the repetition of such an act is most unfortunate. The party has alleged that as supporters of the ruling party have been arrested, SDF is to be held fully responsible for the incident and has demanded that those arrested not be released and strong action be taken against them.
With the attack on independent candidate, Geeta Sharma on 06 November and now this attack on a newspaper house, the SDF has no right to remain in power, the release expresses and demands that the Chief Minister step down on moral grounds.
Meanwhile, dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang has also condemned the incident and alleged that the state government has always failed to initiate appropriate action on such attacks on the media in the state. Demanding stringent action against the culprits, Mr Tamang has further alleged that the series of attacks on the state’s media has exposed the ruling government and party’s inefficiency.
Also condemning the attack, Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC] president, NB Bhandari has stated that the attitude and behavior of the members of the SDF party reflects what the party stands for. That appropriate legal action would be initiated against the culprits who belong to the ruling party is highly unlikely, Mr Bhandari has further commented.

GOVERNOR’S GOLD CUP


Mohun Bagan SAILs into semis
GANGTOK, 08 Nov: Mohun Bagan SAIL outplayed Army XI to enter the semi-final in the ongoing 33rd All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament being held here at Paljor Stadium. Pijush Khelo scored the lone and winning goal for Mohun Bagan in the 29th minute of the match.
Tomorrow, Three Star Nepal will take on Bhawanipur Football Club, Kolkata in the first semi-final match of the tournament at 2 PM. Likewise, Fambongla XI will also take Norbugang XI in the final match of the All Sikkim Women’s Football Tournament at 11:30 AM.

Editorial:Deliver Strong Deterrence


So, there has been another attack on a newspaper office. As a friend quipped, “SDF stones NOW! Wow!”
Jokes apart, it’s relatively obvious now that the attack was the handiwork of a renegade group of the ruling party hell bent on settling scores over a perceived slight. The root cause behind their ire has been explained elsewhere in this edition and is too absurd to require another repetition. Suffice to say that physical attacks on the media cannot be argued on scales of absurdity or relevance and need to be unanimously condemned. Shooting the messenger is an unhealthy trend because once this Laxman-Rekha is crossed, then the violence can extend even more easily to other sectors [beyond the party clash episodes], which is why the attack on the NOW! office was so passionately protested by media-persons across the board, not only from Sikkim but outside as well. An attack on one newspaper office is also a sign that even others can be visited with similar violence, which is why the impromptu rally by working journalists in Gangtok on Thursday was so vigorously participated. Having to report from the field, and their jobs requiring them to interact with many people, some of whom might be holding grouses against them or their paper, they fall in the frontline of the receiving end should more sections gather courage to vent their frustrations on the Press.
What also needs to be accepted is that there can be no guarantees of safety. Accepted. But what can be guaranteed, and what should be ensured, is that when an incident does transpire, no efforts are spared to book the guilty and fix accountability because only such public actions can deter future repeats. The perpetrators of the latest incident, even if it were accepted that they worked on their own, drew courage from the precedence they have seen of their political bosses intervening on behalf of party workers who have embarked on similar adventures in the past. If anyone is serious about ensuring a safe working environment for the fourth estate, this cycle will have to be snapped. And this should not be difficult because individuals draping the party colours to attack the press are almost always settling only personal scores, never serving any party’s interest; and at what cost. In the present instance for example, the attack came at a time when the State Government was hosting the Chairperson of the Press Council of India and executive members of the Indian Journalists Union in collaboration with the Press Club of Sikkim. This was an obvious effort towards winning the favour of the media. One rash act, and the goodwill has been squandered. Even without such fallouts, it is important that a clear signal is sent out by all parties that the party cushion which emboldens intentions of violence into action is not available anymore. The SDF appears set to cast away those involved in the Wednesday night attack, and even officially accepting the accused as its cadre is a significant first. If it can also ensure that the concerned in-charge, which would be the area MLA, owns up moral responsibility for the incident, it will be establishing a strong deterrent at least for its own ranks. Now to see what its next step will be…

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SFWJ strongly condemns attack on Sikkim NOW office


Sikkim Federation of Working Journalists (SFWJ) strongly condemns the dastardly attack on Office of the leading English Daily Sikkim Now, published from Gangtok by disgruntled elements. SFWJ views that failure of administration to bring to book those elements responsible for attack on Media houses in Sikkim during the past has emboldened such elements to vent their displeasure on media houses and the journalists.
Sikkim Federation of Working Journalists urges the State administration to ensure safety and security of all media persons and houses of Sikkim. While we demand the speedy arrest of all the culprits involved, the SFWJ appeals to all state governments in the Northeast, including Sikkim, to provide CCTV cameras to all media houses so that journalists and media houses in the region work in a safe and secure environment to carry out their professional duties.
The Northeast and Sikkim has a history of threats and assaults to media persons and attack on media houses. The SFWJ urges all journalists in the region to stay united and to speak up unitedly and effectively if the Press is under any kind of assault or pressure.


PRESS CLUB OF SIKKIM CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SIKKIM NOW OFFICE


In a press release issued today, Press Club of Sikkim (PCS) has condemned the vandalism of Sikkim NOW! (a daily published from Gangtok) office by the supporters of Bibi Doma Tamang. It is reported that the supporters led by Mrs. Tamang attacked the office of the daily at around 11:15 PM on 07 November, 2012 and damaged signboards, doors and window panels etc. PCS has learnt that Mrs. Tamang, a candidate for Panchayat ward from Kabi Tingda constituency was defeated in the recent election. PCS states that attacking newspaper office cannot be the way of expressing one’s electoral frustration.
Therefore PCS urges the State Government to ensure safety of journalists and newspaper houses. PCS also urged the ruling party Sikkim Democratic Front leaders to take action against those members who were involved in the attack.
The demands are supported by the Indian Journalists’ Union, Journalist Club of Siliguri, Press Club of Kalimpong.

Martam Nazitar ward panchayat assaulted, SDF’s Zilla panchayat booked


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: There are a total of 3 FIRs lodged with the police in connection with the incidents at Adampool and Yanthang Martam, East Sikkim, which led to the hospitalization of a woman Independent candidate, Geeta Sharma. One FIR was lodged with the Ranipool police and the other two with the Singtam police.
What is confounding is that she was assaulted upon by her own party members allegedly led by the Zilla Panchayat Deepak Tamang. This, because lthough the victim had contested the panchayat ward polls as an Independent, she, as per reports, is affiliated to the SDF party.
Deepak Tamang, the SDF Zilla Panchayat elect from Byeng-Martam, was arrested by the Singtam police late in the evening on 06 November. He has also been challaned by the Ranipool police for having taken out a victory rally without prior permission.
The first incident occurred on the Yanthang Martam road where the motor rally of Deepak Tamang intercepted the supporters of the complainant, Geeta Sharma at around 3 PM on 06 November. She had contested and won the Martam Nazitar ward as an independent candidate albeit one with clear SDF party affiliation. As per police records, she then proceeded to congratulate the zilla panchayat elect and wanted to offer him khadas but this was rejected by Deepak Tamang. As per reports he and his supporters then began threatening her and a scuffle ensued. Geeta Sharma was reportedly dragged away and the SDF party flag being carried by her supporters was also forcefully taken away from them.
However, Geeta Sharma, who is undergoing medical treatment at the Central Referral Hospital here, while speaking to NOW! today, clearly denied having approached the Zilla Panchayat member or his supporters yesterday. She was going around the Ward thanking people along with her supporters at around 3 PM when they came across Deepak Tamang and his supporters who then confronted her and threatened her. In the ensuing scuffle, Geeta Sharma alleges, she was pushed to the ground, dragged some distance and her clothes were also torn.
“While taking the party flag away from her supporters, Deepak Tamang also said that we did not belong to the SDF party and were from the opposition and therefore had no right to carry the party flag,” she further alleged.
“I was not even allowed to move or to be taken to a hospital”, she stated and added that only at around 6 PM, she was allowed to be brought to the hospital.
This was not the only incident that afternoon. Shortly after, Deepak Tamang and his supporters are also accused of having assaulted 62-year-old Kharka Bahadur Tiwari, a resident of Yangthang Martam during their so called victory lap.
While Deepak Tamang and his supporters have been charged with assault and criminal intimidation, Geeta Sharma today stated that she would be consulting her lawyers in order to explore the imposition of more serious charges against the zilla panchayat elect.
However the series of incidents did not just there.
Later, at around 4:30 PM when the victory rally reached Adampool it met Melli Sonam, Kala Rai and other known Golay camp supporters. They were agitated that an Independent candidate had been assaulted and in the ensuing confrontation damaged the Zlilla Panchayat’s vehicle, a Bolero. There was also scuffle between the two sides and the drama played out late into the evening with Golay supporters also picketing the Ranipool thana.
SP East, MS Tuli rushed to the spot and along with the Ranipool police brought the situation under control.

Election Commission rejects re-poll recommendation for 13 panchayat wards


AFTER RE-COUNTING, 11 WARDS GO TO SDF, 02 TO INDEPENDENTS
GANGTOK, 07 Nov: In what can be called an anti climax of sorts, the haunt for some and excitement of a re-poll for others in some panchayat wards, has disappeared without as much as a whimper from those having first demanded it. There will be no re-polling in the 13 panchayat wards as earlier hinted.
The State Election Commission has upheld the contention of the Returning Officer, East,  D Anandan that the confusion in these wards during counting day, 05 November, was the result of a minor clerical error and that the recording and counting of votes in the EVMs had not been vitiated in any way. The Election Commission today then directed the Returning Officer to recheck the records in the EVMs pertaining to the 13 wards, recount the votes in the presence of the contesting candidates or their counting agents and declare the results immediately.
Consequently, the candidates were informed who then gathered at the TNA hall where recounting was done in their presence. The results were declared and the RO, D Anandan further told the candidates that should they feel further unsatisfied or aggrieved they could forward their grievance in writing. As per the recounting of votes the SDF took 11 of the 13 wards; Independent candidates got two wards, namely Tindharey/ Kali Khola and Naya Basti.

The results after the re-count for 13 Panchayat wards of East Sikkim the results for which were withheld on 05 Nov 2012

Gram Panchayat Wards
Name of Winning Candidates
Party affiliation
01-3 Middle Sumin (Sumin Gumpa)
           
Champa Doma Bhutia
SDF
02-6 Bordang                     
Ganga Darjee
SDF
03-3 Cheuribotey               
Lachi Maya Chettri
SDF
03-4 Duga                          
Kaushila Pradhan
SDF
04-3 Kaiyong
Nimkit Lepcha
SDF
04-4 Tindharey/Kalikhola 
Chewang Yonzen Tamang
Independent
04-5 Upper Bhasmey
Binita Tamang
SDF
06-1 Naya Basti
Bhawani Shanker Gurung
Independent
06-2 East Dikling
Oma Wangyal Lepcha
SDF
06-4  Lossing
Durga Chettri
SDF
06-5 Dikling Pacheykhani
Hemant Kumar Dahal
SDF
06-6 Pacheykhani
Munna Bhusal
SDF
06-8: Rorathang Bazaar
Pranesh Pradhan
SDF
The DC, East also addressed the press and explained that the confusion was due to the sequence of names of candidates in the counting sheet not tallying with the sequence of names in the ballot paper. He however clarified that the machines or the counting process had not been tampered with; in fact recounting had been done then itself on 05 November in the presence of the candidates who had been recalled after the error had been noticed. 

However, in light of the situation on the morning of 05 November outside the counting hall where a number of candidates and their supporters had gathered to demand re-poll in the entire district and the threat of a law and order problem a report was sent to the State Election Commission regarding the error along with the recommendation for a re-poll in the 13 panchayat wards – as per the demand of the Independent candidates and their supporters. The results of these 13 wards had been withheld.
The matter was taken up by the SEC and today it issued its order which reads “… there was a simple mistake occurred while transferring of the results from the EVMs to the result sheet… The transferring of results inadvertently has not vitiated the counting and the records of votes in the EVMs have not been tampered”.
The Commission records that there is no sufficient ground for a re-poll and further that there were objections and claims received in writing for a re-poll by the contesting candidates. As such the RO was directed to proceed with recounting of votes. This proceeded smoothly today and concluded at around 1:30 PM. It may even be noted that a number of candidates were not too keen on a re-poll due to obvious reasons.
While concluding the election results for East District, the DC, East thanked all concerned and expressed gratitude to the SEC and Election Observor, SK Shilal for their support and guidance. He also thanked the SSP, MS Tuli and his team for helping in defusing the situation on 05 November. Apart from thanking the presiding and polling officers, the DC East also thanked the TNA authorities for making available their hall for counting of votes.  

LHABAB DUECHEN AT NAGA


Monks of Ugyen Samdroling Monastery at Naga in North Sikkim performing rituals on the auspicious occasion of Lhabab Duechen. The prayers - Rikzing Chokpa – were performed by around 50 monks of the monastery led by the Dorje Lopen, Tshering Thendup Lepcha. Tsog was distributed to the devotees after the prayers yesterday.

National media conference discusses prospects and problems of media in NE


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: Terming media to be the “light of democracy” Governor BP Singh today urged the fourth estate to keep the public interest in mind while performing their duties.
“Media, in my view, is the lamp of democracy,” said the Governor while inaugurating the national media conference on ‘Prospects and problems of Northeast media’ here at Chintan Bhavan today.
The national media conference was jointly organized by the Journalists Union of Sikkim (affiliated to Indian Journalists Union), Press Club of Sikkim and Information & Public Relations department, Government of Sikkim.
In his short address, Press Council of India chairperson Justice Markandey Katju spoke about the transition that India is undergoing and observed that media has a very important role in making this transition less painful. “Media must help the people overcome social issues plaguing the country”, he said.
Justice Katju further spoke on the problems faced by the North-eastern media and their mainstream media counterparts. “Journalists get low salaries and are exploited by the owners”, he said urging all to remain united for media welfare.
Speaking on the occasion, IPR Minister, CB Karki spoke on the growth of media in Sikkim under the Sikkim Democratic Front government. “We do understand the economic constraints of media in Sikkim and keeping this in mind, we have formulated the advertisement policy”, he said.
Mr Karki informed that the State government facilitated the formation of Press Club of Sikkim in 2012 which has emerged as the umbrella organization of journalists working in Sikkim. The Press Club of Sikkim is coordinating with State government to address the problems faced by the media, he said.
Earlier in his address, Indian Journalists Union (IJU) president, SN Sinha elaborated the problems faced by the Northeastern media and expressed his hope that the Gangtok conference will increase and expand mutual understanding among Northeastern journalists and those from the rest of the country.
Mr Sinha observed that there is little awareness in the rest of the county about the difficult situation in which the media functions in the Northeast. He highlighted the violent environment the media has to work in the northeast and cited examples where journalists of this region have been assaulted.
“This, however, is not the only problem the journalists in the region face. The real problem lies in the fact that they have just about no rights even to fair wages and job security. The media houses are small; the circulation of newspapers is low, their finances poor”, said Mr Sinha. He added that media in the Northeast require good financial packages from their respective State governments to sustain themselves.
The DAVP (Directorate of Audio Visual Publicity) has a policy to support small newspapers with government advertisements but the policy is not being implemented in proper spirit in these States, informed the IJU president.
“There indeed are good prospects before the media in the Northeast, if the governments can give the media proper protection and security that is their right and support them by strengthening their finances. The IJU can surely help frame such a policy if and when called upon”, said Mr Sinha.
Press Club of Sikkim president, Bhim Rawat presented the vote of thanks. The inaugural session was followed by an interactive session during which representatives from journalist associations made their presentations and placed memorandums to the PCI chairman.

Talk on role of Limboos in 17th and 18th century Sikkim at Rachna Books


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: Friends@Rachna is organizing a talk followed by interactive session on the role and importance of the Limboos in the Politics, Society and Economy of 17th and 18th century Sikkim.
A press release informs that the talk is to be delivered by Dr Saul Mullard at Rachna Books on 11 November  at 3 PM. Dr Mullard, who has been researching on Sikkim’s history for almost ten years now, has had his book “Opening the Secret Land - a New approach to Sikkimese history” recently published by Brill.
This sunday, Dr Mullard’s talk will focus on the Limboos in early Sikkim. The Limboos are in many ways the hidden people in the early history of Sikkim. A lot of research has focused on the Lepcha and Bhutias with only a few publications, many by Limboo scholars, on the Limboos in early Sikkim.
In this talk, using original sources from Sikkim and from the period of the 17th and 18th centuries, Dr. Saul Mullard will discuss the various roles of the Limboo in early Sikkimese history, the release mentions.
It may be recalled here that in September 2010, Dr Mullard had made some ground breaking revelations about the Lho Mon Tsong Sum Agreement based on his extensive research at a similar talk at Rachna Books.
The registration fee for the talk is Rs 200. Students with ID cards however can attend the talk for an entry fee Rs 50.

Sikkim Swatantra Nari Sangathan condemns attack on woman panchayat candidate


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: Sikkim Swatantra Nari Sangathan lashed out against the State administration today with regard to the assault on Geeta Sharma, an independent candidate who won the Martam Nazitam ward in the recently held panchayat elections.
Addressing a press meet today, member of the Sangathan, Kala Rai said, “On the one hand, the Chief Minister talks about 50% reservation for women and security for women in the state while on the other hand, a woman is beaten by an SDF candidate”.
Lashing out at the Women’s Commission, she said, “The Women’s Commission is supposed to work for the safety and protection of women in the state but why is it silent at this point of time?”
Further raising questions on the lack of action, Ms Rai stated that the Sangathan will raise its voice against such violence against women in the state and stage a dharna if needed.
Another member, Mingma Lamu Bhutia alleged that the police are not doing anything about the incident. She added that no SDF member has come to enquire about the victim’s condition till now.
“Does the 50% reservation for women also include getting attacked?”, she questioned.  She went on to state that the accused, Deepak Tamang should not have been released on bail by the police for such an act.

South District police arrest 11 Golay supporters in connection with Phalidara incident


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: With the panchayat elections out of the way now, the South district police acted upon the complaint filed by Dinesh Pradhan against Golay supporters and arrested 11 persons on 06 November. They were released on bail today.
Namchi police arrested 11 out of 13 accused in the act of vandalism targeting the house and parked vehicles of ex-panchayat, Dinesh Pradhan at Phalidara on the evening of 31 October soon after PS Golay had addressed a gathering at Namthang. In the vandalism, which included stone pelting, the children of Dinesh Pradhan had also reportedly suffered minor injuries.
The Namhang meeting itself was held amid high tension and fears of a flare-up with the shops in the area downing their shutters.
However the meeting passed of peacefully. It was only later when the motorcades were returning that a flare-up occurred at Phalidara, near Maniram Bhanjhyang. Dinesh Pradhan had named 13 Golay supporters in his FIR.
The arrested are namely, Khogen Rai [40] of Jorethang; Bandan Tamang [32] of Jorethang; Dhaman Rai [33] of Jorethang; Tashi Dorjee Tamang [41] of Sallabuy; Chitra Chettri [33] of Chisopani; Wangchuk Bhutia [45] of Namchi; Bishal Rai [31] of Denchung; Sitaman Rai [42] of Rong; Phurten Lepcha [41] of Denchung; Phemba Sharma [35] of Nandigoan and Prayash Chettri [27] of Chisopani. They were released on bail on the order of the district courts, South and West.  
Meanwhile, the Golay supporters released on bail, while speaking to NOW! claimed that the entire incident was pre planned by the SDF party. They alleged that some named by Dinesh Pradhan to be involved in the incident were not even present at the time and further condemned the allegations leveled against them.

Party-based Panchayat system cause of violence, says KN Upreti


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: Former Minister and senior vice president Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee [SPCC], KN Upreti has raised concern over the incidence of violence in the recent Panchayat Election.
In a press release issued today, Mr Upreti has stated that, “It is unfortunate that even after the election, candidates and supporters are being attacked and the Govt. has failed to give protection. Rather supporters of the ruling party are themselves indulging in such violence which deserves condemnation”.
He has blamed “party based Panchayat system” to be the cause behind this and has expressed that the system should be changed back to the “party-less” system that was in place earlier.
Mr Upreti has further stated that the panchayat poll will now be followed by victimization of the Independent candidates and their supporters along with others who will be deprived of govt. benefits and schemes on the pretext of supporting Independent candidates.

Another post-poll assault at Kaluk


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: The Panchayat elections are over, but some incidents of alleged assault and violence on candidates are coming in from around the state. One such incident took place near Kaluk on the evening of 05 November.
Sherman Limboo of Hee Gaon [also the complainant] was celebrating the victory of the Panchayat elections at his house when Birkhaman Subba and few others arrived and allegedly started to quarrel with people gathered there. While a heated argument was going on, one Purhang Subba was allegedly assaulted with a stone and injured.
On the basis of the complaint, a case was registered at the Kaluk Police Station against Birkhaman Subba and others under section 325/34 of the Indian Penal Code. The police arrested Birkhaman Subba the same night while three others, namely Janga Bahadur Bista, Mohan Subba and Purna Hang Subba of Hee Basti were arrested on 06 November.

Independents have claimed sizeable chunk of SDF vote bank, claim Golay supporters


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: “This Panchayat election has proved to be a battle between the Chief Minister and the public,” said MN Dahal while addressing a press conference today.
The recently concluded Panchayat election has seen a fall in the vote bank of the Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] party in power for the past 19 years with independent candidates having won 5 Zilla and 92 Wards, he added.
Mr Dahal lauded the dissident SDF MLA, PS Tamang [Golay] for creating this environment of “pariwartan”, because of which independent candidates came forward to contest the panchayat election, he claimed.
Being the underdogs, the independent candidates got a lot of support from the public in their fight against the ruling party which already has a lot of power, and this is a mark of victory, he stated.
Even in the absence of a party, people came out on the field just because of PS Tamang, he further claimed and went on to add that when Mr Tamang does come up with a party, it is likely to come to power. Mr Dahal also refuted the claim of the Chief Minister’s Press Advisor, Bhim Dahal that Golay did not win a single seat in this Panchayat election.
Jacob Khaling addressing the media alleged that the administration manipulated the poll results but at the same time added that the SDF did not succeed in grabbing all the seats despite using money power or by any other means. He also alleged that the police had seized alcohol and money being distributed by Chief Whip, Ugen Gyatso Bhutia and former MLA Norzang Lepcha.
“The SDF party has proved with their activities that they did not win the election by convincing the people but by buying their votes”, added Mr Khaling.
He claimed that in the recently concluded panchayat election out of the 80% voter turn-out, 39% was cast in favour of independent candidates.
“This has given us a big boost and the wave of “pariwartan” has already started to flow. We will come very soon with our new political outfit for our supporters which will destroy the existing autocratic system”, he concluded.

SDF thanks public for reinstating faith in the party



GANGTOK, 07 Nov: “On behalf of the Sikkim Democratic Front [SDF] party president and the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, we would like to thank the people of Sikkim, the party supporters and the people who worked at the Ward level for making the SDF party victorious in the recently concluded Panchayat elections,” conveyed SDF party spokesperson Bhim Dahal, while addressing a press conference here at the SDF Bhawan, yesterday.
The victory for the party is special as it was given by the people who have again shown their faith in the SDF party by voting for the party’s candidates, he added.
He informed that data has been collected and proper compilation is going on, but more or less 96 per cent of voting in the elections has been in favour of the party and he added that there has also been an improvement in the percentage as compared to the 2007 elections.
“In some Wards, we had more than one party candidate wanting to contest the elections, so we left the elections open for contest, so that the best and strongest candidate could win”, he stated.
He further informed that the SDF party has a research and analysis wing and now as the elections are over this wing would be looking into all the 927 Wards and the Zillas to find out how the party has performed in different areas and where it needs to work harder.
“Overall the party and the candidates have performed well, but there are some places where we need to see what more can be done to strengthen the party”, added Mr Dahal.
On the independent candidates who have won in the elections, he stated that a committee would be formed to look into who were the ‘genuine’ independent candidates and those who have been fronted by the opposition. Based on this committee’s recommendation the decision to induct the independent candidates into the party would be taken.
Speaking further on dissident Burtuk MLA, PS Tamang [Golay], he said that as he did not have a party there was no way of identifying his candidates.
“Moreover, as they got back door entry to contest in the elections, his candidates have not fared well. They should have opened a party before fighting the elections, if they had done so then it would have been interesting”, he stated. Their supposed strong holds such as Soreong and Malbasey where they had even held meetings have been swept clean by the SDF party candidates, he added.
He added that the SDF party would sweep all the 32 seats in the Assembly polls and also the Lok Sabha seat in the coming general elections.

2012 Panchayat election a lesson for the opposition: ASESE&UA


GANGTOK, 07 Nov: All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA] has stated that the result of this Panchayat Election is a great lesson for all opposition parties.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, the ASESE&UA president, Nawin Kiran, on behalf of the organisation congratulated the ruling SDF party and the independent candidates on their victory in the elections. He appealed to all elected representatives to sincerely work in the interest of the people and engage in grassroot politics for the benefit and development of their respective areas without any discrimination.
He appealed to the losing candidates to continue to work in the interest of the people pointing out that no post or office is required for this purpose. Mr Kiran stressed that in the upcoming 2014 general election, the ASESE&UA will play an “important role” and that the support of the organization will decide who comes to power.
Secretaries of the organization, Khagendra Dhakal and John Subba pointed out that this election has shown that those calling for change in the state are disorganized. They added that all political parties should organize themselves better to work for the people of the state.
The press conference was also addressed by ASESE&UA vice-president, Sonam Pintso Bhutia and member, Shekhal Pradhan.

GOVERNOR’S GOLD CUP


Three Star knocks out USFC
GANGTOK, 07 Nov: Three Star Nepal made it to the semi-finals of the 33rd All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament here at Paljor Stadium. Playing the third quarter-final match today, a brace by Santosh Shahukhal helped Three Star Nepal outplay United Sikkim Football Club [USFC] 2-1 in a keenly contested match which went into extra time.
Today’s match also witnessed a packed stadium of spectators, with both clubs receiving rousing support.
In the 20th minute, MD Lepcha headed a strong cross to win the lead for the home club, USFC. The Nepal club also launched some good attacks but could not get past the USFC goalkeeper, who kept up a good performance throughout the match.
In the second half, as players of both the teams tried their best to score and the match looked like it would end in USFC’s favour, a penalty awarded to Three star in the 4-minute injury time turned the match around.
The referee offered a penalty shot to Three Star on a foul in the home club D-Box area, which was successfully turned into the equalizer by Santosh Shahukhal.
The match was then extended for 30 minutes extra time, in which Santosh completed his brace and scored the winning goal for Three Star Nepal to enter the semi-final round. With this, the home club has been knocked out of the tourney.
The match also witnessed 9 yellow cards, to Yogesh Gurung [35th minute], Aditya Choudhary [90th minute plus] and Anil Gurung [90th minute plus] of Three Star Nepal and to USFC’s Sahinsha Ansari [27th minute], Sanjeev Mali [88th minute], Koko Sagav [72nd minute], Rakshid Kumar [90th minute], Jiten Rai [69th minute] and Tenzing Tsephel [90th plus].
Bhawanipur Football Club, Kolkata and BSF Jallandhar have already entered the semi-final round of the tournament. The last quarter-final match will be played between Army XI and Mohun Bagan SAIL at 2 PM on Thursday.

ALL SIKKIM WOMEN’S FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT


Fambongla XI to take on Norbugang XI for the Cup
GANGTOK, 07 Nov: It is Fambongla XI [East] against Norbugang XI [West] for the final match of the All Sikkim Women’s Football Tournament scheduled to be played here at Paljor Stadium on Friday.
In the second semi-final match played today, Fambongla XI beat Mainam XI 1-0. Prikila Tamang scored the lone winning goal for Fambongla XI in the 10th minute of the match.
Likewise, in the first semi-final match played yesterday, Norbugang XI thrashed Tendong XI 6-1 to get into the finals of the tournament. For Norbugang XI, Nima Lhamu Bhutia scored a brace and Mongmit Lepcha, Phurp Dolma Bhutia, Pavitra Limboo and Nima Doma Bhutia scored one goal each. The lone goal for Tendong XI was scored by Anjali Rai.

CORRIGENDUM


This is with reference to the news-report on the final results of the panchayat elections in North Sikkim published in NOW! issue dated 06 Nov 2012 under the headline, “SDF sweeps North Zillas, Independents secure small toehold at ward level”. In the details included for the Tingmoo Ghaikhana ward under Kabi-Tingda GPU, the following vote share “Chey Lhamu Sherpa (Ind) 257 and Bibi Doma Tamang (SDF) 120”, should be read as “Chey Lhamu Sherpa (IND) 137 and Bibi Doma Tamang (SDF) 120”.
The error is regretted.
-Editor

Editorial: Celebrate in Peace


Political violence should have no place in a democracy. As this space has often argued, when the weapon of the ballot was handed to the people, the need for physical violence was made redundant because not only are votes more empowering, they are also more effective tools to decide who wields power on behalf of the people and how. In this context, the Tuesday assault of an Independent ward panchayat in East Sikkim becomes condemnable, more so because the victim happens to be a woman. This one incident will undoubtedly tarnish a celebratory moment for Sikkim as it welcomes a new batch of rural Sikkim representatives, at least half of whom are women. The coming days will see the incident get both, sensationalised and trivialised depending on which side is commenting on it. That, while expected, would be ill-advised because the incident is already shocking enough without needing to take recourse to embellishments, and trivialisation is not possible because when one speaks of an assault on a woman, one is ill-advised to start discussing the scale or severity of the assault because it is not only the deed but also the intent which needs to be roundly condemned to deter future repeats. The panchayat elections were keenly contested this time, witnessing more contests than ever in the past and added to the mix was the confrontational approach of the SDF dissident camp. Major incidents occurred in the run-up to the polls, so it was a relief when the elections were eventually conducted peacefully. In fact, the actual voting process has rarely seen violence in Sikkim, but the lapse into post-poll violence is something that all concerned need to develop stronger defences against. The incident in question obviously did not begin pre-planned, but the fact that it still transpired demands that party youth and supporters are better briefed and monitored. It will also be unwise for the ruling party to ignore the incident or try to defend it. Addressing the issue directly and taking the brickbats on the chin if its supporters have faltered should be the recommended approach because that will set the right precedence. More so because it will mark out the Tuesday incident as an aberration and not the norm as its detractors will try to paint it as. If aggression is going to infiltrate the political process in the coming days, it will be important for leaders of all sides to marshal their supporters more responsibly and closely because now the people will be watching public conduct even more closely and no one in Sikkim condones violence. Continuance of peace is embedded in the verdict rural Sikkim has awarded to the ruling Front and with the clean sweep, it has shouldered the party with an even greater responsibility to sustain peace.

SDF sweeps panchayat polls, improves on 2007 performance


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: The run-up to Panchayat polls 2012 had heated up to a level which had increased speculations on the people’s verdict sealed in EVMs which were opened for counting today. Substantially more Zilla and Panchayat wards went to polls on 03 November 2012 than were required in the last elections held in 2007. Any hopes of Opposition-backed Independents making any dent in the hustings were however misplaced as the SDF went on to improve even further on its 2007 performance, blanking out Independents completely from two districts at the Zilla level and holding them to the 2007 tally in the remaining two.
The ruling Front has secured 103 of 108 Zilla panchayat wards in the State, leaving only 5 seats for Independent Candidates. In 2007, even though there were slightly fewer Zilla seats at 93, Independents had managed to bag seven. In percentage points, SDF occupies 95.37% of the Zilla wards now against its share of 91.39% in the last panchayat.
Opposition-backed panchayat campaigns failed to break the Independent drought at the Zilla level in West Sikkim and saw their tally fall in South Sikkim. No Independents won a Zilla seat in West district either in 2007 or this time around and in South district Independents saw their tally come down from three in 2007 to One in 2012. And even this is only a technicality in that the Zilla which was bagged by an Independent in South Sikkim had no official SDF candidate and both Independents in the fray were SDF-backed. So the Opposition blanked out here as well. If this is counted in the SDF kitty, then the party’s percentage proportion at Zilla level goes up to 96.29%.
At the ward-level, with 13 results withheld, SDF occupies 884 of the 974 wards which works out to 90.75%. This is a slight dip from its 2007 performance when it has secured 815 of the 889 panchayat wards [91.67%] in the State at that time. Interestingly, the figures for Independents at the ward level have been held up by the 42 wards won by Independents in East district making up nearly half the state-level tally of Independents. Across the State, Independents have won 89 wards. Last time, they had won 75 wards.
Interestingly, while some Opposition political parties [CPM, Congress and SGPP] were officially in the panchayat fray in 2007, this time Congress fielded candidates only on two wards and all others stayed away. Politicking however was visibly more frenetic this time, but to no avail. If anything, the Opposition involvement in the run-up led to Independents not only reducing their numbers in the winning pedestal, but also drastically bringing down their conversion rate [calculated on number of seats won against number contested].
The conversion rate for Independents at the Zilla level this year was 7.14% [they won 5 out of 70 seats contested]. This figure was 11.47% in 2007 when they had managed to win 7 seats out of 61 contested. The conversion rate dip at the ward level is similar with Independents posting a 21.86% conversion rate [winning 89 out of 407 contested] this time against the conversion rate of 26.97% they posted in 2007 when they won 75 out of the 278 panchayat wards they contested.

Clerical error forces re-poll recommendation for 13 panchayat wards in East Sikkim


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: A clerical error brought about enough of a storm at the TNA auditorium here where counting of the panchayat poll results was taking place today. A stand-off between district administration officials and a number of Independent candidates which lasted for nearly 2 hours was finally resolved with the DC, East, D Anandan, giving in to the demand for re-polling and results of 13 panchayat wards withheld. Officially, the final call will be with the State Election Commission, but with the Returning Officer [the DC East] making the recommendation, a formal announcement is only a formality now.
Re-polling is being recommended only for 13 panchayat wards of East district and not the entire district which was the initial demand of the agitating independent candidates. The DC who is also the Returning Officer also allowed the ‘opposing’ parties to have 3 ‘observers’ in the counting room to oversee the counting and results declaration process.
As for the “clerical error”, this resulted when the sequence of names on the ‘ballot papers’ issued to candidates and the counting sheets did not match leading to much confusion, including wrong names being announced as winners.
The fracas broke out at around 10 AM today after several results were retracted; several Independent candidates who had initially been told that they had won were later told that they had actually lost the polls in their respective wards.
After explaining the error, the DC clarified that it was not serious enough to warrant a re-poll, but he would still be recommending re-election at the 13 wards for the satisfaction of the candidates. A formal announcement on this will be made by the State Election Commission.
The counting officers including the Returning Officer while explaining that there was no discrepancy in the number of votes, said that the number of votes were only taken down in wrong order [because of th mismatch in sequence].
So while Kumari Chettri, an independent candidate of Lossing ward had been handed over the form with her name in serial number 1 with 175 votes polled and the SDF candidate with 103 votes; this was later reversed with her actually getting only 103 and the SDF candidate 175 votes. Her name had erroneously been recorded in serial number 1, or so was the explanation.
Similarly, Chandra Maya Tamang, an independent candidate of Paiyong ward had been told she had won with 120 votes; however this was later reversed with her actually getting only 68 votes and her rival, the SDF candidate getting 120 votes. There were some independent candidates who had already begun celebrating with khadas etc only to be told later that they had actually lost.
13 results had been declared before the issue was brought to light and counting held up until the re-poll solution was worked out.
Besides the ‘clerical’ error which almost brought down the house the unwarranted entry of Deputy Mayor, Shakti Singh and Officer on Special Duty, OP Bhandari into the counting auditorium without valid passes while the process was underway also came to the notice of the candidates who demanded an explanation. With the TNA complex under heavy security and a strong presence of SAP personnel the Independent candidates got together to condemn the slack attitude of the administration in this regard and they also expressed strong doubts of favoritism towards the ruling front.
The protesting Independents remained insistent that the administration should not have allowed him to enter as he did not have a valid pass. The Independent candidates were unwilling to allow the counting process to continue and in fact alleged that the incident indicated that the ruling front had an influence on the counting process.
Later a delegation comprising of Tseten Lepcha, Anand Lama, Rudra Khatiwada and a few others met with Returning Officer, the SP East and the Election Observor, SK Shilal where the error was explained by the Returning Officer. The Returning Officer took pains to explain the working of the EVMs and how the votes were counted; furthermore he also clarified that in the confusion not only Independents but favourable results of some SDF candidates had also been reversed.
However counting of the votes could only resume after it was decided that all 13 wards, where results had been recorded in the ballot papers would go for re polling.

Returning Officer and Observer confirm lapse


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: The Returning Officer has admitted to the clerical error made by the district officials in East district in the counting process and significantly, the same was also pointed out by the Election Observer. It was also pointed out by the Election Observer that OP Bhandari and Shakti Singh of the SDF entering the counting room at the TNA auditorium without valid passes was unwarranted.
Talking to NOW, Election Observer, SK Shilal stated that while he did not see OP Bhandari or the Deputy Mayor Shakti Singh entering the counting hall, he did see them in the room. He clarified that they should not have been allowed to enter the room and this was clearly a lapse on the part of the concerned officials.
“It was against the norms to have allowed persons without valid passes to enter the counting room,” he stated. SP East also stated that he had asked the agitating candidates to put in a formal complaint against the two gatecrashers if they wanted an enquiry.
The agitating party informed that they would also put up a complaint with the State Election Commission. It is not clear what the two had to do in the counting room.
On the clerical error regarding the serial numbers, the Election Observer, SK Shilal also explained to the delegation of representatives of the independent candidates that he had told the Returning Officer that this was their mistake which should not have occurred. As a result of this 13 panchayat wards will have re-elections.

Independents put up best performance in East district


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: Out of 144 Wards in the East district, the results for which were declared today, the ruling SDF party has won in 102 Wards while 42 of the independent candidates won from their respective Wards. It may be mentioned here that the total number of Wards that went to poll is 157, the results for 13 wards were withheld [see accompanying story for details].
Of the total 290 Panchayat Wards, 133 had been won uncontested by the SDF and polling was held in the rest 157 Wards. For the Zilla Panchayat, out of the total 32 Zilla Panchayat seats, 06 were won uncontested by the ruling party and polling was held in the rest 26 Zillas, where 23 winning candidates were from the SDF party and 03 were won by independent candidates.
The three Independents who won at the Zilla panchayat level today, are: Poloo Sherpa [Lingtam-Phadamchen], Denka Bhutia [Chuchenpheri-Lamaten] and Kamal Gurung [Thekabong-Machong-Samsing].
Laden Lepcha, a victorious independent candidate from Markang Ward under Chuchajen constituency, while speaking to NOW! today thanked the people for the mandate  and said, “It is now my duty to work for the betterment of the people”.
“The main problems in our Ward are that of roads, water and the Ward is still under developed. So, first and foremost there is a need to work on these problems and then take the next step”, he said and added that he would have to ensure that the schemes and benefits meant for the people are properly utilized.
Speaking on whether he would join the SDF party if approached, he stated that if the party wants him to join then he would willingly accept, but added that before taking such a step he would have to confer with the people of his Ward.
“Even though I won as an independent candidate, I will not differentiate between the people who voted for me and the people who voted for the party candidate”, he said and added that he would provide equal opportunities to all in the Ward.
The counting for the Panchayat elections for the East District were held here at the Tashi Namgyal Academy auditorium today.

SDF sweeps North Zillas, Independents secure small toehold at ward level


MANGAN, 05 Nov: The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front continued its hold over North Sikkim by securing 19 of the 20 Zilla territorial constituencies in the district and cornering 98 of the 109 panchayat wards here. While a majority of these seats had already been secured uncontested by the ruling party, it further improved on its tally after the votes were counted today. Only one [Phensang under Kabi-Lungstok constituency] of 06 Zilla wards which required elections went to an Independent candidate while SDF and Independents split the 28 panchayat wards which went to poll at 18 and 10 respectively. The performance of Independents at the Zilla level remains unchanged from the last panchayat polls in 2007, but last time, the SDF had fielded no candidate for the Zilla ward which went to an Independent in North Sikkim, incidentally, also at Kabi-Tingda then. At the Panchayat ward level, Independents have improved on their tally from 06 last time to 10 now.
The details are as follows:
In Dzongu constituency, out of 11 Territorial Constituencies and 56 Wards, the election was held for three territorial constituencies and 10 Wards.
Namok-Swayem GPU: Pema Lhamu Lepcha (SDF) 432 and Norzam Bhutia (IND) 274; Mangshila-Tibuk GPU: Dhan Maya Limboo (SDF) 643, Raghu Maya Limboo (IND) 204 and Sun Kumari Limboo (IND) 177; Hee-Gyathang GPU: Angulie Lepcha (SDF) 502 and Lakpa Tshering Lepcha (IND) 238.
Swayem ward: Dawa Pendup Bhutia (SDF) 105 and Tenzing Gyamtso Lepcha (IND) 61; Deythang ward: Passangmit Lepcha (SDF) 70 and Kipu Bhutia (IND) 66 of Namok Swayem GPU.
Ralak ward: Kumar Limboo (SDF) 169 and Bandhana Subba (IND) 81; Lower Zusing ward: Meena Maya Limboo (SDF) 131 and Ganga Maya Limboo (IND) 65 of Mangshila-Tibuk GPU.
Ship ward: Lakden Lepcha (SDF) 82 and Rongmit Lepcha (IND) 24 of Shipgyer GPU; Lower Barfok ward: Lopzang Lepcha (SDF) 69 and Phur Tshering Lepcha (IND) 25 of Barfok-Lingdong GPU.
RangRang ward: Santosh Tamang (IND) 92 and Dawa Tamang (SDF) 58 of Tingchim-Chandey GPU; Sudur Bringbong ward: Tshering Doma Lepcha (SDF) 98 and Norzey Lepcha (IND) 95; Mantyang Tungkyong ward: Kalzang Dorjee Lepcha (IND) 81 and Karma Lepcha (SDF) 79; Sangdong ward: Lhakit Lepcha (SDF) 116 and Pemkit Lepcha  (IND) 02 of  Hee-Gyathang GPU.
Similarly, out of 5 Territorial Constituencies and 30 Wards of Kabi-Lungtsok constituency, the election was held at three GPUs for territorial constituencies and 14 Wards.
Kabi-Tingda GPU: Pema Doma Bhutia (SDF) 569, Passang Lhamu Sherpa (IND) 399 and Yangchen Doma Bhutia (IND) 271; Phensang GPU: Pema Sherap Lepcha (IND) 331, Choden Lepcha (SDF) 285  and Passang Namgyal Lepcha (IND) 126; Men-Rongong GPU: Khimoo Lepcha (SDF) 357 and Phursongmoo Lepcha (IND) 304.
Under the Kabi-Tingda GPU, Tingmoo Ghaikhana ward: Chey Lhamu Sherpa (IND) 257 and Bibi Doma Tamang (SDF) 120; Longbu ward: Tashi Lhendup Bhutia (SDF) 209 and Sonam Tsh Bhutia (IND) 62; Lingchom ward: Tshering Sherpa (SDF) 147, Lhakpa Sherpa (IND) 95.
Under the Phensang GPU, Lower Paney Phensong ward: Norjeela Lepcha (SDF) 67 and Ongmu Lepcha  (IND) 64; Gensoi Phensong ward: Namday Lepcha (IND) 92 and Tshering Zangmu Bhutia (SDF) 52; Safyong ward: Ugen Lhendup Bhutia (SDF) 47 and Tshering Doma Bhutia (IND) 27; Labi ward: Phurkey Lepcha (IND) 43 and Chewang Doma Lepcha (SDF) 33; Sardong ward: Chuzing Lepcha (IND) 65 and Chogay Lepcha  (SDF) 59; Tingshim ward: Doma Lepcha (IND) 45 and Pemkey Lepcha (SDF) 43.
Under Men-Rongong GPU, Rarik ward: Doma Yangzom Lepcha (SDF) 65 and Pem Phutti Lepcha (IND) 39; Lower Chewang ward: Pintso Lepcha  (IND)  73 and Sonam Dathup Lepcha (SDF) 66.
Under Rongong-Tumlong GPU, Lower Rongong ward: Som Bahadur Subba (SDF) 96 and Subash Subba (IND) 94 .
Under Ramthang-Tangyek GPU, Ramthang Khyongu ward: Pem Chukki Bhutia (SDF) 62 and Phurzim Ongmu Bhutia (IND) 45; Ramthang Phyagu ward: Marmit Lepcha (SDF) 49 and Tenzing Doma Lepcha (IND) 40. Tangyek ward: Pema Doma Lepcha (IND) 58 and Phumden Lepcha (SDF) 48; Lungchok Sangam ward: Karma Gyaltsen Lepcha (IND) 49 and Dup Tshering Lepcha (SDF) 47.
In Lachen-Mangan constituency, out of 4 territorial constituencies and 23 wards, the election was held at only two wards. Pakshep ward of Singhik GPU: Nima Dorjee Tamang (SDF) 159 and Pawluse Tamang (IND) 90; Manul ward of Toong-Naga GPU: Laymu Lepcha (IND) 47 and Thinley Chopel Lepcha (IND) 45.
However, the figures show close contest in maximum wards and GPUs in North Sikkim.
The counting process was conducted in the presence of Election Observer North District, CT Wangdi, Panchayat Returning Officer, TW Khangsarpa and other officials here at Zilla Bhawan in Mangan North Sikkim.
The overall voter turn-out for the Panchayat poll in North Sikkim was 87% while the highest votes have been cast at Kabi/Phensong with 98%, turnout.  Likewise, the lowest votes have been cast at Ramthang/Tanek, at both zilla and ward panchayat poll which is 65%.
The Addl. Returning Officer, PW Lepcha today also announced that all the elected and uncontested panchayats have to be present on 09 November for the certificate award ceremony at Community Hall Mangan.

SDF reigns supreme in both Zilla and Ward Panchayats in South as well

NAMCHI, 05 Nov: It was another sweep by the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front in the Panchayat election in South Sikkim. And this time, the party even improved further on its panchayat elections 2007 tally. Official SDF candidates won all the zilla seats they contested [14/15] and the lone zilla berth going to an Independent was from a constituency where the ruling party was supporting independents. The party’s command even in the more numerous panchayat wards was also established today with the party candidates winning 80 of the 99 wards where elections were held. As for the 19 wards where Independents won, SDF did not field any candidates in 10 where it backed Independents. The final tally for South Sikkim has SDF holding 27 of the 28 zilla panchayats and 252 of the 271 wards.
Counting of the two tier Panchayat poll started at 8 AM this morning at the Namchi Senior Secondary School auditorium. Supporters of both the independents and SDF came in droves anxious to know the fate of their respective candidates. However, the wave slowly but surely turned towards the ruling Front.
People here in South Sikkim may have expected that after the pre poll violence and tension of the past few weeks, the opposition might post a stronger showing, but all such speculations were brought to nought.
Out of the 15 Zilla Panchayat seats, 14 were swept by the ruling party’s candidates. The lone Independent Zilla candidate who emerged victorious was from Kolthang Mangzing TC reserved for OBC (Women). However the SDF did not have any candidates contesting the poll from this TC and the winning independent candidate was supported by the ruling party.
Out of 99 ward panchayats that went to poll in South district, a major share i.e 80 wards went to SDF while the independent remained victorious in 19 wards. It may be mentioned here that the ruling SDF did not field its candidates in 10 wards and supported independents in the 9 remaining wards which it lost.
It may be also noted that though the general impression was that it was a fight between SDF and the Independents, the SDF managed to overcome the odds and it soon became a fight between independent candidates which may have caused harm to their prospects of winning at some wards in the end. The ruling SDF candidates were unscathed.
The counting was over by 6:30 in the evening successfully except for the Pabong (Ganchung) ward where the independent candidate was declared the winner at first but after a complaint by the SDF candidate, a review found that the EVMs had got exchanged with the Zilla ones and after the correction, the SDF candidate emerged victorious. The DC explained this to both candidates and the explanation was accepted by both.
In some of the ward panchayats, a close fight was seen where the candidates lost with a small margins. The most interesting result was that of Lower Borong where there was a tie of 135 votes each; the deciding votes were the postal ballots with which SDF won by two votes.
Similarly, in Peku ward under Ben Namphrik GPU, the SDF candidate Prem Kala Chettri won the election by 1 vote against the Independent candidate Chandra Kala Chettri. Here also the result was a tie and with the opening of the postal ballots, SDF was declared the winner.
Similarly, Independent candidate from Lower Neya, Ganga Devi defeated the SDF candidate Jyoti Chettri with a close margin of two votes. The Independent got 196 votes while SDF managed to get 194.
SDF supporters greeted their respective leaders and welcomed them with traditional khadas. Gathered in large numbers outside the counting centre, the supporters also shouted pro government and SDF slogans.
While addressing the media personnel at the control room later, DC South informed that besides minor incidents on the evening of the panchayat poll no untoward incidents were reported in the South district. These minor incidents were settled after the intervention of the sector magistrate and sector police officers, he added.
The DC further said that the election went off peacefully and was a successful one. While talking about today’s incident of EVM exchange, DC South also the Returning Officer told media persons that, due to the mistake of the presiding officer, the EVM of Zilla Panchayat poll of the same ward got exchanged with the gram panchayat ward of Pabong (Ganchung) ward under Namphing GPU and the total vote cast was the same in both the EVMs.
At first the counting revealed the Independent candidate Dawa Tshering Tamang as the winner but after the complaint of SDF candidate Immanuel Tamang the mistake of EVM exchange came to light and after recounting, the SDF candidate was declared the winner with 218 votes against 139 votes of the Independent candidate. Similarly, the Zilla poll of the same ward was also corrected accordingly. The mistake was explained to the Independent candidate and after the recounting he was also convinced, said the DC.
The DC further thanked and congratulated the ROs, AROs, Sector Magistrates, SP South and his team, Sector police Officers and police personnel for the successful completion of Panchayat poll in the district. He also thanked the Election Commission and officers for providing guidance and also the candidates and supporters.
According to him, they co-operated well and maintained law and order, especially the ruling party’s candidates and supporters. Congratulating the voters who came out strongly to vote for their respective leaders, the DC informed that the overall voting percentage in South was 79%. He also thanked the media for mature reporting.

Independents fail to open Zilla account in West Sikkim this time as well


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: Independents drew an embarrassing blank at the Zilla level in West district yet again, handing the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front a flawless sweep of the 23 Zilla Territorial Constitutions which required elections and were counted today. With this, SDF candidates now sit in all the 28 Zilla wards of the West district, after having already won 5 of these uncontested. In the panchayat elections of 2007 too independent candidates had not been able to win any of the 8 Zilla constituencies which had been contested that year.
The DC, West, LB Chettri, who is also the Returning Officer for the district, when contacted, further confirmed that of the 136 Panchayat wards which were contested, the SDF won 118 while the Independent candidates bagged a total of 18 Panchayat wards in the district. With this, SDF has secured 299 of the 317 panchayat wards in West Sikkim. In the last panchayat elections in 2007, Independents had won 11 of the 283 wards the district had at the time and the Congress had won One.
The contests were extremely close in some of the Independent wins which went down right to the wire. At Toyang ward for instance, Puran Kumar Darjee, an Independent candidate who bagged 104 votes edged past SDF’s Mangal Singh Kami by a solitary vote. At Baiguney ward, Independent Sita Rai won against Ramala Rai by a solitary vote again with 93 and 92 votes respectively. At Gelling Samsing, SDF’s Babita Sharma found her 96 votes just two short of the 98 votes which posted Independent Bishnu Sharma as the winner.
It was further informed by the DC, West, that the counting process was smooth and without incident. The counting process began at 8 AM and was completed by around 7 PM.

Governor and CM extend Lhabab Duechen greetings


GANGTOK, 05 Nov: On the auspicious occasion of Lhabab Duechen, the Governor of Sikkim Balmiki Prasad Singh extends his warm greetings to the people of Sikkim.
As per an official release, the Governor said, “Lhabab Duechen marks the descent of Lord Buddha to earth, at the behest of his followers, to provide them his teachings. This holy occasion can also be seen as the celebration of universalization of religion.
On this day, I urge the people of Sikkim to remember and follow the virtues of love, compassion, wisdom and harmony preached by the Sakyamuni.”
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and his wife Tika Maya Chamling have also extended warm greetings and best wishes to the people of Sikkim on Lhabab Duechen.

GOVERNOR’S GOLD CUP


Bhawanipur FC knocks out Dimapur FC to enter semis
GANGTOK, 05 Nov: Bhawanipur FC, Kolkata has entered the semi-final round of the ongoing 33rd All India Governor’s Gold Cup Football Tournament here at Paljor Stadium. In the quarter-final match played today, Bhawanipur FC led by Jose Barreto edged past Dimapur FC 3-1.
From the start of the match, Bhawanipur players maintained constant pressure on Dimapur FC by launching some good attacks and in the 13th minute, Jaganath Sana scored the first lead for Bhawanipur FC. Even as Dimapur tried its best to come back into the game, the first half ended with the score of 1-0 in favour of Bhawanipur FC.
In the second half, Amit Kumar Kundu headed the corner shot into the second goal for Bhawanipur FC in the 55th minute and within 3 minutes his teammate, K Kulothugan followed it up with one more goal in the 58th minute.
The face saver for Dimapur FC came in the form of a suicide goal by Sagram Mandi of Bhawanipur FC, who headed the ball into his own goalpost in the 77th minute. However, with the final whistle Bhawanipur FC entered the semi-final round with this win of 3-1.
Now, BSF Jallandhar will take on Southern Samity, Kolkata in the second quarter-final match tomorrow at 2 PM. The much awaited quarter-final match between Bhaichung’s United Sikkim Football Club and Three Star Nepal will be played on 07 November.