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Darjeeling

IPL: Dhawan masterclass helps Delhi beat KKR by seven wickets

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Shikhar Dhawan made sure that Sourav Ganguly had the last laugh in his own backyard with an unbeaten 97 as Delhi Capitals (DC) did a double on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by scripting a seven-wicket victory in their reverse Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
 
DC had won the one-over eliminator against KKR in the first leg played in Delhi on March 30. 
 
With Friday's win, DC moved to the fourth position in the points tally with 8 points from 7 matches, while KKR remained at the second spot with an equal number of points but a superior net run-rate.
 
A 'visitor' at the Eden Gardens, DC advisor Ganguly watched Dhawan miss out on a maiden T20 hundred from the dugout as the southpaw (97*; 63 balls, 4x11, 6x2) roared back to form just three days ahead of India's World Cup team selection.
 
Rishabh Pant, too, showed maturity at the other end with a 31-ball 46 (4x4, 6x2) as Delhi won with seven balls to spare.
 
The visitors posted 180/3 in 18.5 overs with Colin Ingram (14 not out) hitting a six off Piyush Chawla to seal the issue.
 
Pant and Dhawan combined for a 105-run third-wicket stand of 69 balls after DC were 57/2, chasing 179 for victory.
 
KKR had posted a competitive 178/7 riding on Shubman Gill (65; 39 balls, 4x7, 6x2) and Andre Russell's (45; 21 balls, 4x3, 6x4) knocks on a wicket which had a greenish tinge on it.
 
In reply, Delhi lost Prithvi Shaw (14) early with Dinesh Karthik snaffling a stunning catch flying to his right off Prasidh Krishna.
 
Skipper Shreyas Iyer (6) too did not last long with Karthik taking another catch behind the stumps off Russell in the 6th over.
 
From then on, it was a Dhawan and Pant show as the former returned to form with some crisp cover drives while his junior partner showed composure before holing out to Kuldeep Yadav at long on off Nitish Rana.
 
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Earlier, Gill struck his maiden half-century of the season to set the platform before Russell hit Kagiso Rabada, who had dismissed him in the first leg with a toe-crushing yorker in the Super Over, for three sixes and a four.
 
The hosts scored 106 runs in the last 10 overs after being asked to bat first by DC skipper Iyer. KKR were 72/2 at the halfway stage.
 
For DC, Rabada (2/42) was expensive but picked up two wickets while Chris Morris (2/38) and Keemo Paul (2/46) also chipped in.
 
Russell came in to bat when KKR were 93/3 after 12.4 overs, needing to up the ante. Soon compatriot Carlos Brathwaite (6) joined him at the crease, and the big-hitting pair combined for a 19-ball 39-run stand for the sixth wicket in which Brathwaite's contribution was just 6.
 
Russell took sweet revenge on Rabada by taking him apart in the 18th over, smashing two maximums as the South Africa pace ace leaked 16 runs.
 
Morris got the better of Russell in the penultimate over with a full toss outside off which the Caribbean all-rounder hit straight down Rabada's throat at third-man.
 
Paul was given the last over in which he got the wicket of Brathwaite, giving away 10 runs.
 
Opener Gill, who never got to bat up the order for KKR earlier, made the most of the opportunity by playing some delectable shots to give KKR a solid start.
 
Gill and Robin Uthappa (28) joined hands to stitch together a 63-run stand for the second wicket after debutant Joe Denly (0), Nitish Rana (11) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (2) failed with the bat.
 
Gill was dismissed giving a catch to Axar Patel at short fine-leg while trying to flick Paul through that area in the 15th over.
 
In the end, some lusty blows from Russell helped the team post a competitive total.
 
Brief scores
 
Kolkata Knight Riders: 178/7 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 65, Andre Russell 45; Kagiso Rabada 2/42, Chris Morris 2/38, Keemo Paul (2/46) lost to Delhi Capitals: 180/3 (Shikhar Dhawan 97, Rishabh Pant 46) by seven wickets. 
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Tri-Nation JK Tyre Himalayan Drive 6 Rally to be flagged off on Friday

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India’s only Tri-Nation TSD (Time, Speed & Distance) rally, the J K Tyre Himalayan Drive 6, presented by Biswa Bangla, will be flagged-off from here on Friday.
 
The 1,650 kilometres long rally over five days will traverse through the Dooars and Darjeeling Hills in North Bengal, and various picturesque routes in Bhutan and Nepal.
 
Being held in association with West Bengal Tourism, this unique rally aims at promoting motorsports, showcasing the enormous tourism potential of North Bengal and the contiguous areas of Bhutan and Nepal, and boosting people-to-people connectivity and drive tourism between the three neighbouring countries.
 
The rally is distinct from other TSD rallies since it covers a wide variety of terrain, ranging from tarmac, river beds, dirt tracks, forest roads and mountainous roads. It will skirt steep slopes that will not only present a tough challenge to the participants but will also offer a lot of thrill to them as well as to spectators.
 
More than 100 participants, including top rallyists from the country, will take off from Silliguri on Friday morning and will journey through North Bengal’s lush forests that are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, the one-horned rhino and the Asiatic elephant. It will go through picturesque tea gardens too before entering Nepal trough the Kakarbita border hitting the East West highway to the famous jungle paradise Chitwan in Nepal.
 
On Day 3, the participants will journey to the famous jungle roads on the fringes of the Chitwan Reserve Forest areas through the gravel and dirt tracks before coming back to Chitwan for a well deserved rest.
 
The rallyists drive back from Chitwan through the Dooars on Day 4 and after driving through the heart of Terai region in Nepal will enter India through the Kakarbita border en route to Murti in the Dooars for the night halt.
 
The participants spend the next day driving through the Dooars region going through serene terrain with its tea gardens, jungle tracks and river beds before entering the Bhutan at Phuntshoeling.
 
For the fifth and final leg, they will leave Phuntshoeling through amazing and adventurous hill tracks and climb up the hills to reach Darjeeling, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ where the rally finishes. 
 
The gala prize distribution ceremony will take place in Darjeeling on February 28.
 
The fifth edition of the hugely successful Himalayan Drive Car Rally, which has become a landmark event in India’s motorsports calendar, saw more than 100 participants last year.
 
Biswa Bangla is the presenting sponsor while JK Tyres is the Title Sponsor and West Bengal Tourism with its “Experience Bengal” theme while Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and North Bengal Development Department are the Principal Sponsors along with Techno India Group, City Centre Silliguri, Club Montana Vista, Neotia Getwell Hospital and Bisleri who have joined in as associate sponsors. Radio Misty is the radio partner of the event.
 
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Rajnath appeals to GJM to withdraw "bandh" in Darjeeling Hills

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today appealed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to withdraw the ongoing "bandh" (general strike) in the Darjeeling Hills.
 
He also asked the Union Home Secretary to convene an official level meeting in the Ministry of Home Affairs within a fortnight to discuss all related issues, an official press release said.
 
“On the call of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) an indefinite strike is currently on in the Darjeeling Hills since June 12, 2017. Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and the entire people of Darjeeling hills have suffered a lot since the strike. I have been pained immensely by what has happened in Darjeeling hills,” the Home Minister said in his appeal.
 
“In a democracy, dialogue is the only way out to resolve any problem. Solutions can be found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit,” he said.
 
“I have asked the Home Secretary to convene an official level meeting in the Home Ministry within a fortnight to discuss all related issues. I also appeal to the GJM and its leader Bimal Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh and to help create a conducive atmosphere for allowing normalcy to return to the area, particularly in view of the festive season,” Mr Rajnath Singh added.
 
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Rajnath Singh urges GJM leaders to call of hunger strike, withdraw bandh call

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday appealed to the leaders of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and other stakeholders in Darjeeling to call off their hunger strike and also withdraw the "bandh" call so that normalcy could return to the area.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh also West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to initiate a dialogue with the GJM and other stakeholders of Darjeeling, who are on a strike for the past 60 days.
 
The Home Minister made the appeal during a meeting with a delegation of Gorkhaland Movement leaders who called on him here yesterday. The delegation submitted a memorandum on their demands to him.
 
“The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has called for an indefinite strike in Darjeeling hills with effect from 12-06-2017 demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland," Mr. Rajnath Singh said in his appeal.
 
"I am concerned about the developments in Darjeeling and the loss of valuable lives and sufferings of people over the past 60 days which pains me immensely. 
 
"Violence can never be a solution to any problem. In a democracy, solutions are always found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit," he said.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh said the Government was aware of the strategic importance of the region and the challenges faced in the region. He said he was kept informed on the developments in the region on a regular basis by his ministerial colleague, Mr. S S Ahluwalia, the Lok Sabha member from Darjeeling.
 
"Keeping in mind the national interest, as well as in the interest of our Gorkha brothers and sisters, who are brave and large hearted people and have contributed immensely to nation building, I appeal to GJM and all other stakeholders to call off the hunger strike, and also to withdraw the bandh call, allowing normalcy to return to the area. It is a move that will help to create an atmosphere for finding a solution to the current crisis. 
 
"I also appeal to West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee to initiate a dialogue with the GJM and other stakeholders of Darjeeling, who are on a strike for last 60 days. In the meantime, the state government should restore all civil supplies and also restore internet services, Cable TV & local channels. 
 
"I also appeal to the people of Darjeeling to display sensitivity, and also keep in mind their civic responsibilities. No grievances & problems can be resolved without any dialogue," he added.
 
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SpiceJet to operate special flight for stranded passengers in Bagdogra

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet will operate a special flight on the Kolkata – Bagdogra – Kolkata route on June 10 to help tourists stranded in West Bengal's hill town of Darjeeling.
 
A press release from the airline said it would be operating its Q400 aircraft for this special flight. 
 
The special flight SG9371 will fly from Kolkata at 16.55 hrs on 10 June and will arrive at 18:15 hrs at Bagdogra. The return flight would depart Bagdogra at 18.35 and arrive in Kolkata at 19.55 hrs.
 
The flight will be in addition to the daily direct flight which SpiceJet operates on this route, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Darjeeling region of West Bengal

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Darjeeling region of West Bengal this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.7°N and longitude 88.3°E, occurred at 2004 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
Earlier this morning, a tremor of magnitude 3.2 had been recorded in the Sonitpur region of Assam. The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.9 N and longitude 93.6 E, occurred at 1058 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, the IMD said.
 
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BHEL commissions 40 MW hydro power plant in West Bengal

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the fourth and last unit of the 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in West Bengal.
 
A run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Teesta HEP has been set up by NHPC Limited, on the river Teesta.
 
A press release from BHEL said power generation from the project would result in reduction of green-house gas emissions and help in achieving a low carbon development path.
 
BHEL was entrusted with the electrical & mechanical (E&M) works for four units of 40 MW each by NHPC Limited. BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M equipment including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators. The equipment was supplied by BHEL units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru and the execution of work on site was carried out by the company’s Power Sector Eastern Region.
 
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BHEL commissions 40 MW hydel plant in West Bengal

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the third unit of the 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in West Bengal.
 
A run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Teesta HEP is being set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), on River Teesta. 
 
The fourth and final unit of the project is also in advanced stages of execution, a press release from the company said.
 
Power generation from the Teesta project will result in reduction of green-house gas emissions and will help in achieving a low carbon development path for the state as well as the nation, it said.
 
The order for electrical and mechanical (E&M) works for four units of 40 MW each was placed on BHEL by NHPC. BHEL’s scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M works including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators. 
 
The equipment has been supplied by BHEL units at Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur and Bengaluru and the execution of work on site is being carried out by the company’s Power Sector Eastern Region.
 
BHEL is presently executing hydro electric projects of around 3,300 MW in the country which are under various stage of implementation. Other projects of NHPC currently under execution by BHEL are the 4x200 MW Parbati HEP Stage – II and 3x110 MW Kishanganga HEP. In West Bengal, BHEL is also executing the 3x40 MW Rammam Stage-III hydro-electric project of NTPC.
 
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Mukherjee compliments Darjeeling Tea Association for upholding brand name

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President Pranab Mukherjee today complimented Darjeeling Tea Association for upholding the ‘Darjeeling Tea’ brand name.
 
Addressing the annual general meeting of the Darjeeling Tea Association here, the President said ‘Darjeeling Tea’ was a welcome item on the breakfast tables of people in a large number of countries.
 
Tea is an important export commodity of India and promotion of tea exports a major element of the country's planned economic development. India ranks second in the world in tea production next only to China, he added.
 
Mr Mukherjee said Darjeeling Tea has a unique place among all varieties of tea, especially for connoisseurs.
 
He congratulated the Darjeeling Tea Association and Gorkha Territorial Administration for having worked in association with Central and State Government as well as the Tea Board to register the Darjeeling Tea as the country’s first geographical indication under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999.
 
Darjeeling Tea is India’s first product recognized by the European Commission as a Protected Geographical Indication.
 
Now, Darjeeling Tea has become synonymous with one of the best brands of tea in the world, originating from one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of India, he added.
 
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Darjeeling, a mini-India, says President Mukherjee

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President Pranab Mukherjee today described Darjeeling in West Bengal as a “mini India and not merely a simple geographic expression.”
 
“It is a great melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities. The people of Darjeeling have chosen to live together and work together," he said at a state reception hosted in his honour by West Bengal Governor at Chowrasta (the Mall) here.
 
“India is a country of 1.28 billion people, who speak more than 100 languages and 1,600 dialects. India is home to major religions and three major ethnic groups. All live under one rule, one Constitution, one flag and one system. India has always absorbed diverse influences and converted them into one mighty ocean of unity,” he added.
 
The President said the recent West Bengal Assembly elections demonstrated the strength of Indian democracy. 
 
He said he was touched by the warmth of reception received from the people of Darjeeling who had assembled despite the cold and rain. He was delighted to be in Darjeeling not as a guest, but one among them.
 
The President was felicitated on the occasion by West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Chief Executive of Gorkha Territorial Administration Bimal Gurung, among others.
 
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Mukherjee to visit Darjeeling from July 12-15

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Darjeeling in West Bengal from July 12-15, an official press release said here today.
 
The Government of West Bengal will host a state reception in honour of the President at Chowrasta (The Mall) in Darjeeling tomorrow.
 
On July 13, Mr. Mukherjee will attend the birth anniversary celebrations of Bhanubhakta Acharya which will also be held at the Chowrasta. On the same day, the Government of West Bengal will host a dinner in his honour. 
 
On July 14,, the President will address the annual general meeting of Darjeeling Tea Association, the release added.
 
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BHEL wins Rs 225 crore order for 120 MW hydro-electric project in West Bengal

Logo of BHEL.
The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had won an order for setting up a 120 MW hydro-electric project (HEP) in West Bengal against international competitive bidding.
 
Valued at Rs.225 crore, the order for setting up of hydro generating sets and associated electro-mechanical works for the 120 MW Rammam Stage–III HEP, has been placed on BHEL by NTPC Ltd. 
 
To this effect, a contract was recently signed between the two companies, a press release from BHEL said.
 
Located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Rammam Stage–III HEP is a run of the river scheme on the Rammam, a major tributary of river Rangit. The project envisages three hydro generating sets of 40 MW capacity each, with Pelton turbines and matching hydro generators.  
 
BHEL’s scope of work in the contract envisages engineering, procurement, manufacturing and erection and commissioning of hydro generating sets and associated electro-mechanical works and is to be executed in a schedule of 45 months.
 
While the hydro generating sets shall be supplied by BHEL’s Bhopal unit, the transformers and control & monitoring system will be supplied by the company’s Jhansi unit and Electronics Division, Bangalore, respectively. The erection and commissioning of the equipment shall be carried out by BHEL’s Power Sector – Eastern Region, the release added.
 
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CBI rescues minor girl forced into prostitution in Delhi

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had rescued a 14-year-old minor girl who was missing from Darjeeling since November, 2011.

A press release from the agency said its Anti-Human Trafficking Unit had, after receiving information about the missing girl, conducted an intensive search operation at various places and used special technical methods.
 
The release said the girl had been recovered from Munirka in New Delhi on February 22.
 
"Initial enquiry reveals that the girl was brought to Delhi by a boy on the pretext of providing her a job in Delhi. After bringing her to Delhi, the girl was allegedly abused by various persons," it said.
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Darjeeling bridge collapse toll rises to 32

A scene at the North Bengal Medical College Hospital in Siliguri where the injured were brought after a bridge collapsed in Darjeeling late in the evening on October 22, 2011. At least 32 people were killed and more than 90 injured in the incident. UNI PHOTO
A scene at the North Bengal Medical College Hospital in Siliguri where the injured were brought after a bridge collapsed in Darjeeling late in the evening on October 22, 2011. At least 32 people were killed and more than 90 injured in the incident. UNI PHOTO

The death toll in last evening's bridge collapse in Darjeeling district of West Bengal rose to 32 today with people and rescuers looking for survivors at the site as many people were still missing, official sources said.

Inspector General of Police, North Bengal, Daniel Tsering Lepcha told UNI today that so far 32 people were killed and nearly 100 injured when a wooden suspension bridge collapsed, hurling some 150 people nearly sixty feet down into the Rangit river at around 1830 hours last evening.

Bijanbari, which is connected to Chongtong, is some 40 kms south of Darjeeling town.

 

As many as 24 people had died yesterday, while eight had succumbed to their injuries today, official sources said.
 
Two people remained missing and 108 were injured in the incident, official sources said.
 
Mr Lepcha said those killed included 20 men and 12 women. He said 83 injured had been admitted to hospitals in Darjeeling and Bijanbari, 15 to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri and 10 others to different nursing homes in Siliguri.
 
The search operation aided by the army personnel had ended, sources said.
 
The accident occurred when the bridge, which was erected during the British era, suspended by steel cables over the Chota Rangit (small Rangit), gave in under pressure of the huge number of people who had gathered for an event on travel and tourism organised by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's youth wing.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is being continuously updated about the disaster, had asked North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb to rush to the spot. Mr Deb arrived here today from Kolkata and left for the site.

All top officials are at the site to oversee the rescue operation, sources added.

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Fifteen feared killed in bridge mishap in Darjeeling

 

About fifteen people were feared killed and about 60 to 70 other injured when a wooden hanging bridge collapsed at Rangit Khola in Bijanbari under Phoolbazar police station area in Darjeeling this evening, official sources said.
 
Additional District Magistrate (administration) Rajat Kumar said some 10 to 15 people were feared dead and some 60-70 others injured in the accident.
 
But these figurs could not be immediately confirmed because of difficulties in reaching the spot, official sources said. All the injured were being rushed to different hospitals.
 
District magistrate Soumitra Mohan rushed to the site of accident, the sources said.
 
Earlier, police said some 50 to 60 people fell into the river when the bridge gave in under pressure of people during a meeting at a new college opening ceremony.
 
Darjeeling district Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar said many people fell into the river and some of them died. "But I cannot give any specific number right now," he said.
 
Eyewitnesses, however, said some eight to ten people might have died  after stampede following collapse of the bridge.
 
Mr Anand said fire brigade and police personnel rushed to the area to rescue the the victims, but poor light and darkness hampered the efforts.
 
Fire brigade official P K Sharma said the dilapidated bridge gave in under pressure and people fell some 40 to 50 feet into the river Rangit below.
 
The area also witnessing a concluding ceremony of the travel and tourism festival, which was being organised by youth wing of Gorkha Janmutkti Morcha.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb to rush to the site.
 
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Toy Train services in Darjeeling

The toy train services to Darjeeling were restored on September 12, 2011 after being suspended for a week following a landslide on the track. UNI PHOTO
The toy train services to Darjeeling were  restored on September 12, 2011 after being suspended for a week following a landslide on the track. UNI PHOTO
The toy train services to Darjeeling were restored on September 12, 2011 after being suspended for a week following a landslide on the track. UNI PHOTO

Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.

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Ambika Soni condoles death of journalist, ex-MP Inder Jit

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Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni today condoled the death of veteran journalist and former Lok Sabha member Inder Jit, who passed away here yesterday after a prolonged illness.

Mr Inder Jit, 84, who was suffering from cancer, was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) some days ago and breathed his last after a cardiac arrest yesterday, sources said.

The journalist is credited with playing a major role in the negotiation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council agreement in 1988 between the GNLF and the Centre. He was later elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in 1989 and 1991.

Mr Inderjit began his career as a journalist with the Hindustan Times in 1948 and later worked for various newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph and The Times of London. He worked for some time for The Times of India, including as its Pakistan correspondent.

He joined the Indian News and Features Alliance (INFA) as its Editor in 1962 and became its Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief.

Ms Soni said that, as the Editor of INFA, Mr Inder Jit set new standards of objective, credible, fair and impartial reporting.

She said his contribution as Member of Parliament would always be remembered for his incisive comments and interventions during debates on the floor of the House.

"His death is a tremendous loss to the nation," she added.

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PMO reviews development programmes for Darjeeling Hills

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Ways of speeding up existing and undertaking new development schemes pertaining to industrial infrastructure, medical and educational institutions, health care facilities and improving connectivity and drinking water facilities in the Darjeeling Hills were discussed at a high level meeting in the Prime Minister's Office here yesterday.

The meeting was chaired by Mr T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and was attended by Secretaries and senior officials of the Departments of Industrial Promotion and Policy, Health and Family Welfare, Drinking Water Supply, Higher Education, Road Transport and Highways and Tourism.

The meeting noted that presently subsidy to the tune of 75% of cost of transportation of raw material and finished goods to and from the location of the unit and designated rail head is available for Darjeeling district. The Government of India will support any such proposal of the State Government to set up industrial infrastructure and clusters in Darjeeling.

Currently 44, out of 600 sanctioned, rural water supply schemes are under implementation in the district.

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The meeting ws told that 91 % of the rural population, the entire scheduled caste population and 78% of scheduled tribe population of Darjeeling district is covered with safe drinking water. Only 88 habitations, out of 1689 habitations are not covered with safe and adequate drinking water. In order to reassess the requirement of drinking water in Darjeeling, the government has asked for a report from the state government, an official press release said.

It said the Government of India will sanction grant for all such schemes that are required for full coverage of safe drinking water. It was also noted that there is acute water shortage in Darjeeling town. A Rs 56 crore double stage pumping project is nearing completion for supply of 9 million litres of water to the town.

Darjeeling has one 100 seat medical college. Government of India will support all efforts of the state government or any private agency which decides to set up another medical college in Darjeeling, provided all Medical Council of India norms are fulfilled, the release said.

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With regard to imparting non-formal need-based training in various trades and transfer of viable technologies especially to the weaker sections of the society so as to generate self/wage employment opportunities, a scheme of Community Development through Polytechnics is being run at the Polytechnics at Kurseong and Siliguri. In order to enhance enrolment of women in polytechnic education, a one-time financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh has been provided for construction of women's hostel at Siliguri Polytechnic.

The central government will provide partial financial assistance to strengthen and upgrade the two existing polytechnics in the district, the release said.

The Detailed Project Report for two-Ianing of NH 55 will be prepared within a month and the project will be taken up under the aegis of the World Bank. The work is likely to be completed in 3-4 years. In view of extensive damage to the National Highway, Rs 4 crore have been approved for permanent restoration of the affected stretch.

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In order to encourage tourism in Darjeeling, a total amount of about Rs 32 crore has been sanctioned by the Government of India for Darjeeling. With the completion of these projects, the tourism industry will get a very positive boost. Any other proposal of the State Government for enhancing tourism in the district will be extended financial support.

Government of India will also resolve all issues pertaining to the introduction of Pahar Kanya luxury train, the release added.

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70% voting in first phase of West Bengal Assembly elections

Women voters showing voter IDs and indelible ink marks on their fingers after casting their votes during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Women voters showing voter IDs and indelible ink marks on their fingers after casting their votes during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO

About 70 per cent of the 97,62,159 voters exercised their franchise in 54 constituencies where polling was held today in the first of six phases of voting in the elections to the 294-member West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

As many as 364 candidates were in the fray in the 54 constituences spread across six North Bengal districts.

The polling, held from 0700 hours to 1700 hours, passed off peacefully with no major untoward incidents reported from anywhere.

Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kumar Gupta told mediapersons in Kolkata that the percentage of voting would go up slightly in view of the serpentine queues in front of several booths at 1700 hours.

According to the preliminary estimates, South Dinajpore and Cooch Behar districts recorded 74.3 per cent voting each while it was 70 per cent in Darjeeling, 68.42 per cent in Malda and 67.03 per cent each in Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpore.

Voters in six booths in Malda district and at one in South Dinajpore boycotted the polling today.

Mr Gupta said the Election Commission had removed the presiding officers of Gangarampore and Harishchandrapore in Malda.

Security personnel keeping vigil at a check post during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Security personnel keeping vigil at a check post during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO

The second phase of polling will be held on April 23, the third on April 27, the fourth on May 3, the fifth on May 7 and the sixth and last phase on May 10.

Counting of votes will be taken up in West Bengal, as well as in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, where polling has already been completed, on May 13. All results are expected by that evening.

Polling was held today at 8822 booths in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts.

The ruling Left Front, which has been holding fort for 34 years, and the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-Congress combine are the main players in the election.

The electoral fate of ten state Ministers - Ashok Bhattacharjee(Siliguri), Kshiti Goswami (Alipurduar), Sailen Sarkar(Ratua), Kiranmoy Nanda(Raiganj), Ananta Roy(Mathabhanga), Paresh Adhikary(Mekhliganj), Biswanath Choudhury(Balurghat), Narayan Biswas(Harirampur), Srikumar Mukherjee(Itahar) and Anarul Haq (Chopra)- was decided today.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had put up its candidates in all the 54 constituencies.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which has been spearheading a movement for a seperate Gorkhaland in Darjeeling, was a major factor in today's polling.

Voters queue up to cast their votes during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls at Gulma in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Voters queue up to cast their votes during the first phase of West Bengal assembly polls at Gulma in Siliguri on April 18, 2011. UNI PHOTO

The Adivasi Vikash Parishad, a new organisation set up to oppose the demand for Gorkhaland, had also put up candidates for several seats.

Among the Left Front partners, the CPI(M) had candidates in 32 seats, followed by the Forward Bloc (10), RSP (9), CPI (2) and Samajwadi Party (1).

The Congress had put up candidates in 27 of the seats involved in today's polling and the TMC in 26, leaving one to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

About 500 companies of para-military forces, in addition to the state police, had been deployed to ensure free and fair elections. As many as 39 Central observers had been pressed into service.

(With inputs from United News of India)

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Polling begins for first phase of West Bengal assembly elections


Polling began this morning in 54 constituencies in the first of six phases of voting in the elections to the 294-member West Bengal Legislative Assembly.


A total of 97,62,159 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise i the 54 constituencies, spread across six North Bengal districts, where as many as 364 candidates are in the fray.


Polling, which began at 0700 hours, will end at 1700 hours. The authorities have made elaborate security arrangements for the polling.


The second phase of polling will be held on April 23, the third on April 27, the fourth on May 3, the fifth on May 7 and the sixth and last phase on May 10.


Counting of votes will be taken up in West Bengal, as well as in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, where polling has already been completed, on May 13. All results are expected by that evening.


Polling is being held today at 8822 booths in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Malda, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts.


The ruling Left Front, which has been holding fort for 34 years, and the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-Congress combine are the main players in the election.


The electoral fate of ten state Ministers - Ashok Bhattacharjee(Siliguri), Kshiti Goswami(Alipurduar), Sailen Sarkar(Ratua), Kiranmoy Nanda(Raiganj), Ananta Roy(Mathabhanga), Paresh Adhikary(Mekhliganj), Biswanath Choudhury(Balurghat), Narayan Biswas(Harirampur), Srikumar Mukherjee(Itahar) and Anarul Haq (Chopra)- will be decided today.


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up its candidates in all the 54 constituencies. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which has been spearheading a movement for a seperate Gorkhaland in Darjeeling, is a major factor in today's polling.


The Adivasi Vikash Parishad, a new organisation set up to oppose the demand for Gorkhaland, has also put up candidates for several seats.


Among the Left Front partners, the CPI(M) has candidates in 32 seats, followed by the Forward Bloc (10), RSP (9), CPI (2) and Samajwadi Party (1).


The Congress has put up candidates in 27 of the seats involved in today's polling and the TMC in 26, leaving one to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).


About 500 companies of para-military forces, in addition to the state police, have been deployed to ensure free and fair elections. As many as 39 Central observers have been pressed into service.


(With inputs from United News of India)


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GNLF leader Subhash Ghising returns to the Hills after exile


Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subhash Ghising today returned to the Hills of poll-bound West Bengal after almost three years, police said.


"Subhash Ghising has come back safely to his house at Zakir Hussain Road in Darjeeling," Darjeeling Deputy Superintendent of Police (Town) A A Tauseef said.


Ghising had been in exile after the major hill outfit Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) was formed and had not been allowed to return after he was forced by the rival party to leave the Hills on July 26, 2008. Since then, he had stayed in a rented house of the plains in Jalpaiguri.


Ghising's return holds significance in view of the coming assembly elections.


Elections to the 294-seat West Bengal Assembly will be held in six phases. The first phase of polling for 54 seats, including in the Hills, will be on April 18 and the sixth and final phase on May 10.


Counting of votes will be taken up on May 13.


The fate of 38 candidates, including three GNLF candidates from six seats of Darjeeling district, will be decided in the first phase.


According to a GNLF leader, Ghising will campaign in the three hill sub-divisions for party candidates, and will be using the "kite" symbol against "candle" symbol of the GJM.


He is also slated to hold a public meeting in Mirik on April 9 and Darjeeling on April 13, party sources said. Mr Ghising will also hold a road show in Kalimpong soon.


The GNLF had won the three seats in Darjeeling in the last assembly polls.


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2 killed in landslide in Darjeeling district of West Bengal


Two people were killed and as many injured in a landslide in the Sevoke area of Kurseong sub-division in Darjeeling district of West Bengal following heavy rains last night, police said.


Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Kurseong Nima Bhutia said Sundar Oraon (18) died on the spot, while Hiralal Mahato (26) succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital.


The incident occurred when two boulders fell on their car, which was passing through Sevoke area.


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GJM withdraws hunger strike in view of assembly election


The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) today withdrew its hunger strike, which began on February 24 in the Hills, in view of the upcoming assembly elections in West Bengal.


Several GJM activists were sitting on a fast unto death at various places in the Hills, including one in front of the District Magistrate's office in Darjeeeling.


The agitators were demanding an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the February 1 police firing at Sibchu in which three GJM activists were killed. Two persons, including a woman, died on the spot, while one succumbed to his injuries in hospital.


Talking to reporters GJM spokesmen Prof Rohit Sharma said, "Keeping in mind the upcoming polls in West Bengal, we have decided to suspend the hunger strike."


"There won't be any more rallies or hunger strikes before the election process is completed because we want peacefull polls in the Hills and adjoining areas," he added.


The Hills will go to polls on April 18 in the first of the six-phase election.


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GJM-sponsored indefinite hunger strike enters second day


The indefinite hunger strike launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district and plans entered the second day today.


The GJM, which is seeking a separate Gorkhaland state, is demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the February 8 police firing in Sibchu, which claimed three lives.


GJM Press and Publicity Secretary Harka Bahadur Chettri said,"Our main demand is to fix the territory for the separate state and it should include Terai and Dooars."


The hill outfit had also blocked tea export from Darjeeling hills from today.


GJM vice-president Kalyan Dewan alleged that security personnel had forcefully taken two of the hunger strikers to hospital for force-feeding.


The blockade was aimed at affecting the resources of West Bengal as the government earns a huge revenue from tea exports every year.


No untoward incident has been reported so far, Arindam Sarkar, SDPO, Malbazaar said.


The GJM activists had resumed their indefinite hunger strike at five places a day after a prolonged bandh was called off to allow students to take the class 10 board exams from February 23.


Another GJM group is slated to move to New Delhi to sit for a relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar from February 27.


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