Thursday, August 23, 2012

Residential site allotments by lottery and industrial sites by auction now

GANGTOK, 22 Aug: The State government has finally compiled a set of regulations for the process of site allotments and constructions on such sites.
As per the newly formulated Sikkim State Site Allotment Rules, 2012 site allotment shall be made by the government primarily for residential buildings. These will be by different processes as per the area. For construction in residential areas and residential cum commercial areas such allotment will be on the basis of lottery system as per specific reservation category. For industrial, commercial and institutional areas such allotment will be on the basis of auction or tender.
Such lottery system allotment will be on the basis of a draw on random number technique in the presence of a panel of observers. The conditions are that the applicant is to be a Subject or CoI holder and must not hold a plot in any other municipal area in the state.
In addition 33% of the site area will be reserved for Economically Weaker Section of society, physically handicapped people, victims of natural calamities and people with exemplary records in the area of Art, Science and Sports.
On being allotted a site the beneficiary is to deposit a ‘salami’ with the UD&HD; the salami for reserved categories will be 50% of the total salami applicable for the general category. All allotments will be on lease basis.
The government has also included a provision to ensure that the allotment to weaker sections is not misused. By this provision such a site allotted cannot be transferred prior to 10 years from the date of execution of the lease deed; in case such a transfer takes place the allotment will stand automatically cancelled. However the Lease deed can be transferred to the names of the family members if the allottee dies.
The maximum size of the site will be 1200 square feet and minimum 500 square feet. The allottee can avail housing loan by mortgaging the site with prior approval of the government. However if construction is not taken up within a year after date of issue of construction order the allotment shall be automatically cancelled.
Meanwhile, the haphazard, random and risky constructions which Gangtok and other towns have witnessed over the years were largely due to the fact that there was no comprehensive set of rules on construction and whatever there was were being violated blatantly. However, with last year’s earthquake and on the directions of the Supreme Court, the UD&HD has now formulated the Sikkim State Site Allotment Rules, 2012.
These rules deal with site allotment to individuals, rules of construction, temporary constructions, regularization of unauthorized construction etc.
Among the more pertinent features is that the state government has decided to allow for a one time regularization of unauthorized structures. This will, however, be based on the merits of individual cases. “Any other construction will not be regularized and will be liable for demolition,” the rules state.
Additionally, the government has decided to allow regularization of already occupied sites on payment of fees and on certain conditions as well.  These include that the site should have been occupied for 20 years and that the applicant should be from the economically weaker section and should not hold any other plot in a municipal area.
The government has also decided not to allow any more temporary constructions such as pan gumtis, parking garages, stores, etc. In fact sites already allotted on temporary basis will not be renewed after the expiry of the designated deed period and are to be handed back to the government or on the demise of the person allotted the temporary site.
In an important stipulation the government has directed that there is to be no sub-leasing of flat / spaces of the allotted sites and moreover, transfer of lease deed on vacant land has been banned. Any change in the use of the building use and land use is to be according to the master plan.
In addition to these there has also been directions issued on the allotment of additional sites. While there is to be no allotment of additional sites these may be considered for reasons of structural stability and genuine difficulties. However, the additional allotment is not to exceed 50% of the original allotment. This will be a one time allotment. In this regard there are several stipulations which include that there will be no allotment on landslide affected area or sinking areas, on notified green belt, near or below high transmission lines or towers etc.

Pakyong police foil attempt to colour murder as accident

GANGTOK, 22 Aug: What was initially recorded as a UD [Unnatural Death] and suspected to have been a fatal accident, has now been converted by the Pakyong police into a murder charge and the two younger brothers of the deceased taken into custody on murder charges. The death of Deepak Tamang on 08 August had earlier been recorded as due to a fall from a height.
In fact it later emerged that the two accused brothers had attempted to bluff the police about the incident and pass it off as an unnatural death due to a fall. The two brothers, Passang Tamang, 28 and Purna Bahadur Tamang, 19, residents of Chalamthang, Pakyong were arrested by the police on 21 August after investigations led the police to believe that the death of Deepak Tamang was indeed not due to fall.
Investigations by Pakyong police, who had been suspicious about the nature of the case and injuries the deceased had sustained, reveal that the brothers had an argument and scuffle over the accounts of the money collected from the last rites performed by the family for their late father who is informed to have died recently.
As per reports the deceased, Deepak had come home on 08 August and had demanded the accounts of money collected from his mother. This snowballed into an argument with his younger brothers and then into a scuffle in which Deepak lost balance and fell, as he was under the influence of alcohol he had difficulty getting up. According to reports, Purna Bahadur then picked up a stone weighing about 6 to 7 kgs and smashed the face of Deepak twice with it leading to the death of the latter on the spot.
The death was passed off as an accident but the police had their own doubts and it is informed that the two brothers have also admitted to the crime.

State Election Commission all set for 2012 Panchayat Election

GANGTOK, 22 Aug: The State Election Commission is all set and ready for the Panchayat Elections to be held in the State. “We are overall ready for holding the elections but are just waiting for the Reservation paper [Notification] to reach us”, informed Secretary, State Election Commission, Geeta Bhutia, while speaking to NOW! today.
After scrutiny the papers were sent to the State Government for finalization and after the Notification is passed by the Rural Management & Development Department [RM&DD], the dates for the Panchayat Elections to be held in the state will be declared, she added.
It could be around the month of October as there has to be a code of conduct declared a month before the elections, Ms Bhutia said and added that the present Panchayat will get dissolved in the month of November, so it has to be before that.
The segregation was done through the District Collectors of the four Districts and Ward wise electoral rolls had been taken out of each district. The necessary corrections that were needed to be done have been carried out and the names of voters that had to be shifted from one Ward to the other have also been done, the Secretary further informed.
There are 989 Wards and the same number of Zillas so the total number comes to 1,978, for which the same number of Electronic Voting Machines [EVMs] will be required and a few more to keep them at standby, if any of the EVMs go faulty or get spoiled during voting.  The State Election Commission has 1,400 EVMs and another 1,200 EVMs have been borrowed from the State Election Department.
The first level of checking if the EVMs are working properly is over and now the EVMs will again be examined to see if there are any faulty machines or if any of the machines need to be replaced. The EVMs of the State Election Commission will be used for voting in the South and West Districts, while the EVMs of the State Election Department will be used for voting in the East and North Districts, the Secretary added.

High Level Monitoring Committee for implementation of schemes reconstituted

GANGTOK, 22 Aug: The State Government has reconstituted the State High Level Monitoring Committee for implementation of schemes and incurrence of expenditure against the grants recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission.
The state government has set target bound completion of various projects and schemes initiated by the state government in the Thirteenth Finance Commission which are funded by the Government of India. The reconstitution of the State High Level Monitoring Committee has superseded a 2010 State Government Notification.
The Chief Secretary will head the State High Level Monitoring Committee as Chairman along with 20 Heads of Departments as members; Principal Director, Finance Commission Division, Finance, Revenue & Expenditure Department -Member Secretary. Other members are Director General of Police, Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests-cum-Secretary,   Development Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Finance, Revenue & Expenditure, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Urban development & Housing, Secretary, Rural Management & Development Department, Secretary, Human Resource Development Department, Secretary, Land Revenue & Disaster Management Department, PCE-cum-Secretary, Irrigation & Flood Control Department, PCE-cum-Secretary, Roads & Bridges, Secretary, Tourism & Civil Aviation,  PCE-cum-Secretary, Public Health Engineering, Director General-cum-Secretary, Health Care, Human Services, Family Welfare, Secretary, Department of Personal Administrative Reforms & Training, Secretary, Cultural Affairs & Heritage Conservation, Director General-cum-Secretary, Department of Economic, Statistics, Monitoring & Evaluation, Secretary, Food , Civil Supplies & Consumers Affairs, and Controller of Accounts, Finance, Revenue & Expenditure Department.
The Committee shall be responsible for monitoring of both financial and physical targets and for ensuring adherence of specification and conditionality in respect of the grants wherever is applicable.

Sikkim’s Got Talent, and Deep Raj will flaunt it at IGT

GANGTOK, 22 Aug: This year’s season of India’s Got Talent will feature Sikkim’s 11-year-old Deep Raj Rai. This talented young singer, of whom many here may not be aware of, is from Lumsey near Tadong.
Deep Raj gained wide appreciation for his performance at the month-long musical event, Glimpses of Sikkimese Culture organized at MG Marg in the month of June by the Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department [CA&HD].
So when representatives of Colors Television approached the Culture Department in July to recommend talent from the state for the reality show, it was not a very difficult choice to make.
CA&HD Culture Officer, Lata Rajalim informs that a singer of the Song & Drama unit of the department, Yadav Sunam, brought Deep Raj to present his songs at the musical event held at MG Marg. The department made arrangements to shoot an audition video with Singyi Cham, Nepali, Lepcha and Bhutia dances and songs by Deep Raj Rai at Rumtek in East Sikkim on 26 and 27 July, she informed.
After watching this video, the channel confirmed his participation in the show and promos featuring Deep Raj are already being aired, she added.
Ms Rajalim expressed that with Deep Raj getting a chance to share his talent with the rest of the country, the aim of Glimpses of Sikkimese Culture organized by the department to provide a platform to local talents has borne fruit. She also thanked the CA & HD Secretary, Nalini G Pradhan, for her support in encouraging hidden talents in the state.
Deep Raj has also performed on the occasion of World Music Day and during the inauguration function of Mannan Bhawan, where he impressed all with his performance, it was informed.
 “Deep Raj is god gifted, who sings so well without any training at such a young age which will improve further as he matures. He has immense potential to excel in his field,” said Ms Rajalim. With a voice that belies his age, Deep Raj belts out numbers sung by Kailash Kher and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan with ease.
The India’s Got Talent episode featuring Deep Raj is scheduled to be aired on 22 September on Colors Television.


The long cherished dream of pursuing science in the school of our own village has come true this year at Mamring Senior Secondary School, East Sikkim after the Human Resource Development Department gave the green signal and deputed teachers to start teaching science subjects.
Prior to this, students had to go to either Dikling or other schools to pursue science and chances of getting admission were grim due to high enrolment and top competition, therefore, students had to settle for other streams. Besides this, financial crunch was a major obstruction to go out of the village to pursue Science. But from this year poor students of Mamring and nearby areas can pursue science in the school of their own village and this is possible because of the far sightedness and effective steps taken by the Human Resource Development Department at the right time. For bestowing the village with this facility all villagers, students, teachers, SMC and principal are thankful to the Department and all the Officers concerned.
Villagers and the school is also grateful to the Honourable Chief Minister Pawan Chamling for his vision and priority to school education which made it possible to have science stream within a short period of time and the school is equally thankful to the Area MLA Bhim Dhungel for extending all possible help. However, the school is suffering from different problems related with Science and shortage of teachers but the Principal and SMC are hopeful that the Department will soon meet their demands and the Honourable Area MLA will extend help in this regard as well.
Dushyant Tamang, Principal

Editorial: Open Up, Don’t Hunker Down

Identity, as in the perceptions of the outside, is a touchy issue among the marginalized communities. The ill-informed clichés, the pedantic, and thus offensive, generalizations remain sore points for the offended communities and we live in a region that has lived with such broad-brush impoliteness for ever since we started interacting with the plains. And the brush paints both ways, one may add here. While it is easy to take affront and fine to draft a fresh introduction to correct the perceptions, it is definitely not okay to allow the chip on the shoulder to burden heavier than is healthy. The more this perceived slight is allowed to fester, the more it diverts energy from pursuits that take communities forward. One refers to a “perceived slight” here because the clichés that hurt are products of ignorance and one should not really allow ignorance in others to justify withdrawals into cocoons by the othered. And defensive shells are not the best habitations to plan ahead from because they keep thoughts and ideas rooted in a past that has lost its relevance for everyone except those who swoon in its fermented confusion. Also, while so enclosed, one fails to recognize changes elsewhere. But it is important that the ignorance which has degenerated into disdain, mutual suspicion and distasteful stereotyping is lifted. The exodus of people from the North East which embarrassed the country the past week, the continuing parochialism everywhere in the country, the reprehensible attempts at justifying what happened at Kokrajhar and continues to recur often in places at geographical extremes like Mumbai and Assam will repeat unless this country makes some earnest efforts at celebrating its much-vaunted diversity. As this section recently commented, 65 years as one nation and the citizens still don’t behave as One People. The students provide the best opportunity to build the bridges which can span the chasms of mutual ignorance which feeds insularity among us. A simple and easily achieved course would be for the community/ state representative organisations of the students to become mediums which link communities, not strive to make them self contained and self conscious. Take the freshers’ welcome parties for instance. Instead of each community, each state or region hosting a welcome party for its own kind, they should use the funds to introduce the freshers to ‘others’ in the student community. Host the parties for ‘your own’ but invite guests from all other groups. Make celebrations the medium to proffer more congenial introductions and strike new friendships. Use the organisations to speak more often about the concerns of other groups and engage more earnestly in issues and challenges which face other communities. This openness is possible only with the idealism of youth, but is currently being stifled because student groups remain obsessively insular.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ASESE&UA alleges unfair practices in recruitment of Ward Attendants by Health Deptt

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: The All Sikkim Educated Self Employed & Unemployed Association [ASESE&UA] has alleged that the recruitment process in filling up the post of Ward Attendant under Health Care, Human Service and Family Welfare Department [HCHSFW] has been unfair.
According to the association the order sheet of Sikkim Information Commission reveals that the concerned authorities of the Health Department committed ‘grave injustice and wrong’ to a female applicant, who competed and appeared for the written test conducted by the department on 18 January this year for the permanent post of Ward Attendant.
Addressing a press conference today, ASESE&UA president, Nawin Kiran informed that as per the department, the candidate did not pass the written test and therefore did not qualify for viva-voce interview. Dissatisfied with this result, she asked for verification of her answer script under the Right to Information Act.
He informed that that as per the records of the Sikkim Information Commission, justice was denied to her by the Special Public Information Officer, HCHS&FW Department and also by the First Appellate Authority, the Law Secretary, who “forced” her to accept the answer script carrying 25.5 marks [which was not enough to qualify for the viva-voce], which according to the applicant was not her answer script.
It is further informed that she then approached the Sikkim Information Commission, which meted out some semblance of procedural justice.
Mr. Kiran informed that due to the proactive role of the SIC it was revealed that the candidate had actually secured 65 marks in the written examination and was then selected for the viva voce. He thanked SIC for providing justice and for revealing such unfair practices in the recruitment system.
Mr Kiran alleged that in this case, the SPIO and the various concerned authorities responsible for the selection of the Ward Attendant and also the First Appellate Authority are guilty of violating Section 166 of the IPC. He further demanded that a competent authority or person of the State Government must file a First Information Report with the appropriate forum against these officials for disobeying the command of Section 166 of the IPC and thorough investigation of the case must be initiated.
The Health Department officials have violated all the applicable laws related to the departmental examination, selection procedure and interview to deprive a meritorious applicant, it was further alleged. Mr Kiran demanded that the officials involved in this case be identified and a suo moto case be filed against them by the government for proper investigation and strict punishment to the guilty.
Regarding the same, a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Secretary today by the ASESE&UA and copies of the same have also been submitted to the Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary of Finance and Revenue Expenditure Department and Secretaries of DOP and Health Department.
Mr Kiran stressed that these are not clerical errors and if the government does not take any action against such malpractices then the association would approach the court to provide justice to the unemployed youth in the state.
The ASESE&UA has given a one-week ultimatum and announced that if the government fails to take strict action, the association will come out with its one-point agenda to remove the government.  It may be recalled that the association had earlier alleged of similar unfair practices in appointment of government jobs and called for cancellation of 3 recent appointments [refer NOW! issue dated 28 July 2012].

State delegation meets Muslim leaders in Bangalore, receives reiteration on safety of all Sikkimese

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: The State Government delegation in Bangalore to check on the ground situation and ensure the continued safety of Sikkimese studying and working there, today met with leaders of the Muslim community in Bangalore. The Muslim elders reassured the delegation of their full commitment to keep the Sikkimese, as also all people from the North East in Karnataka, safe and reiterated that the fear psychosis had been triggered by rumours in which the Muslim community had no hand.
A delegation from Sikkim comprising of Speaker KT Gyalsten, HRDD Minister NK Pradhan, Gangtok Deputy Mayor Shakti Singh and Namchi Municipal Council vice chairman NH Ansari accompanied by HRDD Secretary CS Rao is presently in Bangalore and had met the Chief Minister of Karnataka and other Ministers and police officials yesterday with the same concerns.
Speaking from Bangalore, Mr Ansari informed that the delegation led by the Speaker interacted with Muslim leaders and members of Muslim organizations in Bangalore today, who convinced them that the people, especially students, from the North East including Sikkim are safe in Bangalore.
He further informed that Muslim leaders also hosted a tea party for students from the North East to reassure them and strike closer bonds. They Muslim elders stressed that rumours should not be paid heed to and the students also took the assurances positively, Mr. Ansari informs.
The Sikkim delegation, which reached Bangalore on Sunday evening is returning to the state on Wednesday morning after meeting all concerned in Karnataka.

Muslim elders host Peace Meet with NE students at Jama Masjid

BENGALURU, 21 Aug: A ‘Peace Meet’ was held here at the Jama Masjid by the Jama Masjid Trust between the students from the Northeast, including Sikkim, living here and the Muslim community to jointly device ways to lift the fear psychosis which has gripped North-Easterners here and dispel the rumours being spread about the Muslim community planning retaliatory violence on them [for the rioting in Assam].
The Jama Masjid Trust was represented by senior and respected members of the Muslim civil society, elected people’s representatives [MLAs] and religious leaders, most notably, Hazrath Maulana, who had come in from New Delhi specifically for this meeting. It was clear to all that the Muslim community was earnest in its efforts to reassure people from the North East of their continued safety all over India and to reiterate that the panic was triggered by rumours spread by vested interests and not them.
The meet saw frank and warm interactions and delved extensively on how the frayed situation could be improved and a healthy relationship developed and maintained between the two communities. All present had seen the wave of fear which the rumours had triggered and seen firsthand the exodus and lived through the tense phase which is still palpable here. Today’s meeting will definitely go a long way towards restoring some sense of normalcy.
All at the meeting, particularly the NE students in attendance, were unanimous in their gratitude towards the Jama Masjid Trust for having initiated the Peace Meet and especially grateful for the direction the meeting took – not only to bury the tension caused by rumours but also to devise ways by which the two communities could come closer together so that such misunderstandings did not repeat in the future.
Speaking at the meet, Hazrat Maulana introduced the NE students to the basic tenets of Islam and stressed that their faith did not allow any form of violence, even intimidation, and admitted that although excesses have been committed in the name of Islam, the present wave of rumour-mongering and threats, he insisted, was neither the handiwork, nor had the support of the community.
Other religious leaders also spoke on similar lines and further reassured that if they learnt of any member of their community here having played any role in spreading the fear psychosis, they would take strict action against such agent provocateurs on their own apart from handing them over to the concerned authorities.
Similarly, NA Haris, a Karnataka MLA, in his address, assured all assistance towards the students and stressed that each and every person from the North East was safe in Bengaluru and should concentrate on making good futures for themselves here and not be dissuaded by rumours.
The Bengaluru Assistant Commissioner of Police, VS D'souza, who was also present for the meeting, students from the North East commended “has been a great help for the students right since the time the first SMS threats were forwarded”. He also assured students that if the culprit [behind the SMS threats] is discovered to be from Karnataka, exemplary action will be initiated to prevent such incidents from repeating in the future.
Ms. Reni from Mizoram, a Professor at an elite institute here, also spoke at the meet, detailing the scale of fear which had gripped students from the North East and the scale of trauma they suffered over the past fortnight. The Muslim community’s initiative to hold a Peace Meet to reassure the community was thus welcome, she shared, adding that even parents and relatives back home will be relieved now. This relief would not have been possible without the proactive initiative of the Jama Masjid Trust to engage itself, all agreed today, confident that normalcy will now return to the Garden City.
[M. Pradhan & S. Gyaltsen Bhutia are journalism students from Sikkim currently based in Bengaluru]

11-yr-old sodomized, accused absconding

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: The Sikkim State Commission for Protection of Child Rights following receipt of a complaint from the parents and teachers of an eleven year old boy sodomised by the priest [AK Pathak] of Krishna Mandir, Dechiling here, filed an FIR with the Sadar Thana and also led a delegation to 758 Border Roads Task Force of the GREF at Dechiling to discuss the matter with the Commandant there. The accused, who has absconded, is reportedly a GREF employee. The Commission was approached on 18 August and the incident transpired on 11 August.
A press release from the Commission informs that on receipt of the complaint, the child was brought to the Commission and during the course of counselling, the child opened up and informed that on Janmashthami [11 August], the pandit asked the child to come to the temple in the evening luring him with an offer of more prasad.
While the child arrived later, he was sodomized by the pandit. The child, traumatized by the incident, did not inform his parents about the incident. It was only when he told his sister that the parents came to know of it, it is learnt.
The release informs that the Commission’s Chairperson, Manita Pradhan, along with other members took suo moto action and filed an FIR against the GREF employee at Sadar Police Station, Gangtok and requested the law enforcing agency to take immediate action as per the law.
Further, the Chairperson along with members Yangchen Ladingpa and Law Officer Yousa Lachenpa visited the place of offence at Dechiling and also met with the Commandant, Col MN Reddy, to discuss the incident. The principal and teachers of the school  where the victim studies also accompanied the Commission members to the meeting.
The Commission has demanded that the accused, AK Pathak, who has absconded, reportedly to his home town Kishanganj in West Bengal, be immediately brought back to Sikkim and punitive action be initiated against him at the earliest.
The release adds, that the Chairperson urged the school management to regularly conduct awareness programmes on such issues and recommended that students should also come forward if any individual makes inappropriate advances and report it to the school authority. The Chairperson added that this was one of the few incidents to have taken place in Sikkim and requested all members of the civil society to report such incidents to the law enforcing agency or the Commission.
The Commission has condemned the incident and requested all schools in the state to take up awareness programmes on such issues.
A case has been registered at Sadar Thana under section 377 IPC which deals with unnatural offences.

Nationalized banks to go on two-day strike starting Wednesday

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: All India Bank Officers Confederation [AIBOC] has called an all India strike for the next two days i.e. on 22 and 23 August. All the nationalized banks [except for the private banks] of the country will be joining the strike.
The Sikkim Regional Secretary for State Bank of India Officers Association [SBIOA], Gangtok, Tshering Dhonden Bhutia informed that the main reason for the strike is the fulfilment of demands pending with the Indian Banks Association [IBA].
The demands are to stop arbitrary guidelines on HR issues, to stop unilateral implementation of Khandelwal Committee recommendations, to stop outsourcing of bank jobs, to stop banking sector reforms, to stop closure or rural branches, proper regulation of working banks, pension schemes, new upcoming recruitment chronicle and also for the revision of pension, informed Mr Bhutia.
Mr Bhutia added that a meeting on the matter is scheduled to be held this evening and if they get a positive response then the strike shall be deferred. “Since we have not got positive response from the Government and IBA, we are forced to go on strike”, he said.
The Indian Bank Association had assured that they would organise a meeting on 31 July and give a positive response, which did not happen, Mr Bhutia added.
ATMs will also be shut during the all India strike, it was informed.

Indigenous Lepcha fashion show-cum-exhibition to be held at Kalimpong and Gangtok

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: Lepcha youth from Sikkim and West Bengal have come together to organize AN “Indigenous Lepcha Fashion Show-cum-Exhibition” at Kalimpong and Gangtok. To organize the event in a grand manner, a joint action committee has also been formed with members from Sikkim Lepcha Youth Association and Kalimpong-based Lepcha Youth Association of West Bengal.
Addressing a press conference today, the JAC convener for the event, Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha mentioned that for the first time Lepcha youth from Sikkim and West Bengal have come together to organize such an event. He informed that there will be fashion shows and exhibition of manuscripts, artifacts, Lepcha cuisine, attire and other items related to Lepcha community. The event will be held in two different phases; the first phase in Kalimpong and the final phase in Gangtok, he added.
Mr Lepcha informed that in the first phase, there will be fashion show and exhibition in Kalimpong on 08 September for which people from rural areas have been especially requested to exhibit manuscripts, artifacts, wild edibles and attire. He informed that the selected designs in the fashion show from the first phase will be shortlisted for the Grand Finale at Gangtok on 10 November, where the venue will also host the same exhibition side by side.
At Kalimpong the event will be held at Kumdini Homes School and at Gangtok, the organizers are trying to get Mannan Bhawan to host this event.
The grand finale will also have a musical show by Lepcha bands from Kalimpong and Sikkim.
“We Lepchas being the indigenous tribe of Sikkim, want more Lepcha people to participate in the event and showcase the rich cultural and traditional items of the community”, said JAC coordinator, Phurbu Doma Lepcha. She mentioned that the event has also been trying to create cultural awareness among the Lepcha youth and other communities as well. “We do not like to call ourselves a vanishing tribe”, she added.
Ms Lepcha informed that the aim of the fashion show was also to come up with new designs in Lepcha attire, which would be comfortable to wear. She informed that people have been requested to bring the native ancient fabrics.
The fashion show will have ancient and contemporary designs and some Lepcha fashion designers have started working on designing Lepcha attires, which is not time consuming and is comfortable, she informed.
It is informed that they have been getting positive and encouraging response from those in the rural areas on the concept of the event who have assured to provide full support for the success of the event.
It is further informed that buyers have been invited to the event in the hope that some items could be marketed in other states. The committee has been approaching corporate houses to support the event and has further urged everyone to come forward to support the event.

Six suicides over the weekend

GANGTOK, 21 Aug: Suicides continue to make news as at least six suicides have been reported over the weekend from different parts of the State including that of teenagers.
In Soreong, West Sikkim, a 17-year-old girl from Malbasey is reported to have taken her own life by consuming insecticide. She was rushed to the Soreong PHC from where she was referred to the Namchi hospital. The girl reportedly died while undergoing treatment.
In Ranipool, East Sikkim, another 15-year-old girl, a student, committed suicide by hanging in her house. According to reports, the deceased was from Samdur and had left behind a suicide note saying that she was taking her life and that no one was responsible.
In Singtam, a 21-year-old resident of Sirwani, Dochum, took his life, again by hanging. He was found hanging in his bedroom with a chunni by his 14-year-old cousin at 6:30 AM on 18 August. The deceased was a driver by profession.
One suicide was reported from Sombaria, West Sikkim where a 36 year old resident of Salangang was found hanging in his kitchen on the evening of 18 August.
Suicides have also been reported from Jorethang where a 33-year-old resident of Kitam, South Sikkim is reported to have hanged himself and from Rongli where a resident of Samdong committed suicide.

Editorial: Don’t Blame Social Media or Pakistan...

Someone intent on harm does not normally send out a warning SMS. That, after all, would put the target on alert; and God forbid, if the target flees, the intended harm cannot be served up. Even when the flight is on the scale as was seen when people from the North East scattered from cities in ‘mainland’ India over the past week, although much damage and embarrassment is caused, the result is reversed on the alleged perpetrators who find themselves with a bullseye painted on their backs for every slight or isolated and unrelated skirmish involving people from the Northeast anywhere in the country. It is thus obvious that the exodus of the people from the Northeast from cities in Karnataka and Maharastra was in response to a malicious rumour, no real threat. There is much debate raging in the country at present about where the rumours originated from and how it was conveyed. Social Media is being blamed and so is Pakistan. What everyone seems to be ignoring is the fact that the panic on scale that the nation witnessed over the past ten days cannot be engineered out of nothing. One would be crediting the ISI with too much intelligence to suggest that it has the faculties or inspiration to have manufactured a situation this staggering; that is a credit that only our chauvinistic parochialism and instinctive suspicion [of everyone else, our countrymen included] can stake claim to.
People celebrate the power of Social Media with a naivety that is misleading. Social Media did not inspire Tharir Square or regime changes or even the Occupy Wall Street movement which swept through a string of countries in the year past. The revolutions were not created online. The ground situations were primed for such a heave and Social Media was leveraged as a communication tool, a very effective medium of communication in environments of suppression no doubt, but surely not the most important ingredient of the revolutions. These revolutions would have found other mediums to link the people and would have still arrived even if Facebook or Twitter had not been around. The same applies for the madness which visited the nation recently. The morphed photographs and doctored videos would not have angered communities confident that the authorities and the mainstream media would not sweep atrocities against their kind under the carpet. The Muslims of India have learnt through experience that agencies of the government and the media at large can be unforgivably inconsiderate and disinterested to their situation [as fake allegations and manufactured allegations have consistently proven]. When this trust is lost, conspiracy theories can be spun and sold easily. This situation is not limited to the Muslims alone in our country and extends to just about every segment into which citizens of this country can be fractured into and this inherent suspicion of everyone else is best noticed in the aggressive posturing with which regional and vernacular press reports on issues, insists on celebrating even mediocrity among its own and sensationalising even perceived slights. People from the North East have been studying, working and living in ‘mainland’ India for a while now, but still don’t fit in; admittedly, as much in from their own failure to do so as the mainstream’s blissful ignorance of the rest of India. Just as the mainstream continues to stereotype Hill People, so do the hill folk continue to dwell on their scepticism.
65 years of being part of the same country and we insist on refusing make better introductions, extend warmer welcomes or make keener efforts to learn about each other. This band-aid holds fine through normal times, but comes unstuck with the smallest jerk. The ‘objectionable’ content on Social Media that the leaders of our nation are hyperventilating about should not have fooled even a committed hardliner, but they enraged masses; the so-called SMS threats would not have scared even a reasonably secure individual, but they triggered a mass exodus... not because Pakistan posted them online, but because they teased at fault-lines we refuse to address as a nation. The solution is not in blocking websites, but in ending marginalisations and reaching beyond stereotypes.

Sikkim delegation meets Karnataka CM, receives assurance that no harm will come to any Sikkimese


GANGTOK, 20 Aug: The State Government had been keeping a close watch on developments in South India ever since a mass exodus of people from the North East had begun from cities there on 13 August in the face of rumours of retaliatory violence targeting them for the ethnic/ communal rioting which continues to keep Kokrajhar in Assam tense. While the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police had been keeping in constant touch with their counterparts in Karnataka [the fear psychosis was strongest in Bangalore] and receiving repeated reassurances of all being well there, over the weekend, the Chief Minister directed that a high-level delegation be deputed to Bangalore to check on the welfare of the Sikkimese studying and working there and to call on authorities there to ensure that adequate provisions were in place to keep people from Sikkim safe in Bangalore. Although no untoward incident has been reported against Sikkimese there, given that the rumoured deadline for the backlash fell today, it was apt that this high level delegation was in Bangalore today to reiterate the security concerns vis a vis the Sikkimese in Bangalore.
The Sikkim Government delegation comprising of Speaker KT Gyalsten, HRDD Minister NK Pradhan, Gangtok Deputy Mayor Shakti Singh and Namchi Municipal Council vice chairman NH Ansari accompanied by HRDD Secretary CS Rao called on the Chief Minister of Karnataka Jagadish Shettar in Bangalore today.
And IPR press release informs that the Sikkim delegation expressed concern over the safety of Sikkmese living in Karnataka to which Mr. Shettar gave all assurances towards ensuring the safety of all Sikkimese and informed the delegation that all possible help would be extended in this regard.
The Chief Secretary and DGP of Karnataka and the Police Commissioner of Bangalore were also present at the meeting and they too fully supported the concern of the Sikkim Govt, the release adds.
It may be added here that yesterday, the Karnataka DGP, in a communication marked to DGP Jasbir Singh here, reiterated the assurance to parents and relatives of students and employees from Sikkim staying in Karnataka that the situation there was completely normal. He further conveyed that all the police stations in Karnataka have been instructed to promptly attend to any complaints given by any person from the North East and to take immediate and necessary action. Bangalore was policed today by some 17,000 law enforcement personnel to discourage any untoward incident.
The Sikkim delegation, meanwhile, is in Karnataka to check on the ground reality and was pleased to find that all Sikkimese residing there are safe and sound and thanked the CM of Karnataka on behalf of the Chief Minister of Sikkim for ensuring that no harm had come to any Sikkimese.
The delegation has reported that the situation is under control with no reports of any violence on any NE citizens except for the prevalence of a fear psychosis, the IPR release informs.
The delegation also met with a section of the Sikkimese students there and briefed them on the efforts that the State Government was undertaking. The students were requested to go about their studies as normal and were informed of the helplines set up in case they required any assistance.
The delegation also met with the Karnataka Minister of Higher Education who has directed the various colleges to conduct special classes for NE students who may have missed classes or exams in the aftermath of the rumours.
The NE states have also requested the Karnataka govt to help set up a NE office in Bangalore in the near future. It is further learnt that the Home Minister of Karnataka who is also the Deputy CM will be making a tour of NE states with a message of reassurance and as a confidence-building measure.
The Sikkim delegation will be meeting leaders of the Muslim community in Bangalore on Tuesday to further ensure the safety of Sikkimese and other NE citizens.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has appealed to all the people of Sikkim, especially those in the cities gripped by rumour-mongering about a backlash, to remain calm and united. The Chief Minister, the IPR release conveys, has called for the Sikkimese people to stay united in the face of this adversity and stressed that even in New Delhi all the parties are united in sending out a clear message of unity so that the ugly events are brought to a close and the culprits and perpetrators are found and punished.

Bangalore City: Helpline No: 080-22942222, NE Control Room: 080-22250999
Nodal Officer: VS D’souza, cell: 9480801020, 080-22200920
Police Control Room: 080-22943322, 080-22942865
DGP Karnataka: 080-2294277
State Control Room, Karnataka: 080-22942, 080-222117

Developers of 3 scrapped hydel projects move High Court to challenge Govt decision

GANGTOK, 20 Aug: The State government has some additional hydel problems coming up with three companies approaching the High Court of Sikkim challenging the government’s decision to scrap projects awarded to them. Lachen Hydro Project Ltd, Chungthang Hydro Project Ltd and Teesta Hydro Projects Ltd have filed separate writ petitions in the High Court challenging the decision of the State government to terminate their agreements for development of hydel projects in the state. This is related to the decision of the government to terminate the Bop, Bhimkyong and Lachung hydroelectric projects.
All three companies were engaged in the development of hydro-power projects in North Sikkim on the Lachung axis and claim to have already invested huge sums of money into their respective projects.
Lachung Hydropower Private Ltd was engaged in the development of the 99 MW Lachung HEP on the Lachung Chu; Teesta Hydropower was engaged in the development of the 99MW Bhimkyong HEP also on the Lachung Chu at Bhimkyong village, and Chungthang Hydropower was engaged in the development of 99 MW Bop HEP also on the Lachung Chu in Bop village.
The Lachungchu is  a tributary of the Teesta and these projects are located upstream of the 1,200 MW Teesta Stage III being developed by Teesta Urja at Chungthang. Incidentally all three companies developing three different hydro projects appear to have been floated by the same parent company as they have the same Manager (Business Development) in Carl Sabbarwal. The petitions have however been filed separately.
The petitions challenge the order of the State government issued on 21 June, 2012 which announces that the government has decided to terminate the agreement for developing of the respective hydro power projects. It has been submitted that the companies have invested over Rs. 10 crore already in various works associated with the projects. The Letter of Intent in relation to the projects was issued by the government in the year 2006.
The court, for now, has directed that the state respondents are not to create any third party interest in respect to the projects related works which have been terminated and further has directed the state through the DGP to ensure that the property of the petitioner in the area are adequately protected.
Earlier, while terminating these projects, state government officials had proffered a host of factors behind the decision to scrap the projects. These included disinterest of the affected people and the post-18 September Earthquake apprehensions along with the potential environmental impact. While the letter of termination was issued on 21 June the Cabinet decision on this had been taken earlier.
In fact 4 projects had been scrapped, the fourth being the 280MW Teesta Stage I which was being developed by Himalayan Green Energy Private Ltd on the Teesta near Thangu on the Lachen axis upstream of Teesta at Chungthang.
In fact, and as reported earlier, the projects had been consistently opposed by the people of Lachen and Lachung who had  not allowed the project survey and investigation to be undertaken in the area as a result of which even the Detailed Project Reports for these had not been prepared, officials had informed.
The State Government had signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) for the Teesta Stage-I with Polyplex Corporation India Private Limited back in the year 2005 and with Himalayan Green Energy Pvt. Ltd [which is also co-developer of Polyplex Corporation India Pvt Ltd] for the remaining three HEPs in 2008.

Gangtok celebrates Eid, underlines calm and brotherhood

GANGTOK, 20 Aug: Eid-ul-Fitr festivities began with a special Namaaz here at the Gangtok Jama Masjid this morning. Given the anxious week the nation has been through in light of exodus of people from the North East from various cities in South India, the Eid in Gangtok too was nuanced with an appeal for calm and a reiteration of Islam’s peaceful credentials.
Speaking on the issue of tension which reared in South India, Mohmmad Asgar Ali, the Maulvi at the Gangtok Jama Masjid, reiterated that Islam forbids not only the killing of people, but even intimidation.
The rumours being spread about retaliatory violence in South India are “not good” and will only bring about division amongst people, he said.
It especially unfortunate that the rumours of violent reprisals were timed for the month of Ramazan and its culmination with Eid-ul-Fitr. The Maulvi explained that Eid means celebration and Fitr means to break the fast, thus the festival celebrates the breaking of the fast and the vanquishing of everything that is evil or impure within us.
“All acts of violence in any form are against humanity and peace should be maintained at all costs,” he said and added that everyone should stay in one brotherhood and find love for each other.


Born on October 15, 1936, to a Buddhist couple, late Mr. D. Gyaltsen and late Mrs. Dolma Bhutia, Ven. Khenpo D. Dorjee was a local Sikkimese monk of Goenchen Sangna Choeding Monastery. Khenpo D. Dorjee was admitted to the Phensang Monastery at the age of seven, and thereafter underwent the traditional methods of Buddhist schooling during his childhood days and fulfilled all the traditional and hierarchical monastic assignments of Chhab–Dripa, Thungpo, Chhoepoen and U-chungpo.
During his younger days, Khenpola was considered one of the best mask dancers (Buddhist ritualistic dances) of Phensang Monastery. Later, when the Government of Sikkim established the Namgyal Institute of Higher Nyingma Studies (N.I.H.N.S.) at Deorali, Gangtok in 1964, the Phensang Monastery selected Khenpola for higher studies. With much appreciated academic distinctions, Khenpola belonged to the first batch of N.I.H.N.S. students (known as Shedras) from February 1964 to December 1970.
Before admission to N.I.H.N.S., however, Khenpola had a short-lived marital life of 8 years. Khenpola’s wife, Mrs. Chhoeden Bhutia, died in 1961 after the delivery of her second child. As misfortune would have it, Khenpola himself had an accidental fall from a tree before the completion of his late wife’s 49th day. Having lost his wife, Khenpola chose to concentrate on his monastic studies, after duly entrusting the responsibility of bringing up his daughter and son to his cousin sister and his late mother.
He was fondly addressed as “Phensang Khenpo” by his devotees and “Phensang Khenchen” by his Shay-Lobs (disciples). With special emphasis on Sutra and Tantra aspects of Nyingmapa Buddhism, he was one of the few fortunate local monks of Sikkim to have received the highest standards of Buddhist education from the eminent Buddhist scholars like H.E. Khenpo Rinchen (for three years), H.E. Khenpo Drazeir (for six years) and H.E. Khenpo Tsuendrue (for six years).
After completion of the prescribed courses, Khenpola was directed to serve the same Institute as Kyorpoen (equivalent to a Lecturer) from July 1971 to December 1978. Later, in January 1979, Khenpola was ordained the true title of “GELONG” (life-time celibacy) on the advice of H.E. Khenpo Tsuendrue. Thereafter, he received elaborate teachings on the strict tenets of GELONG, a celibate life of a monk, from the renowned Buddhist Master, Thrue–Shay Rinpoche in Kathmandu.
From February, 1979 onwards, Khenpola was appointed Khenpo (Principal) of N.I.H.N.S. by the Govt. of Sikkim. He was confirmed as full-fledged Khenpo on May 1 the same year.
On June 19, 1979 (Saga Dawa), Khenpola was formally conferred the most prestigious and venerable sacred title of “Khenpo” by His Holiness Kyabzey Do-Drubchen Rinpoche, one of the few highest ranking Rinpoches belonging to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, at a ceremonial function at the N.I.H.N.S.
Khenpola was the second local Sikkimese monk to have been conferred the Khenpoship in the monastic history of Sikkim and became the common nucleus to the succeeding Khenpos here.
The conferment was further feathered on April 25, 1980, by His Holiness Kyabzay Dhue-Zom Rinpoche -the highest ranking Head of Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism – who presented a rare and unprecedented Certificate of Preciousity and Purity for Khenchen’s soulful knowledge and spiritual accomplishments.
While he served at the N.I.H.N.S. July 1979 to April 1997, Ven. Khenpo D. Dorjee took up the education of Buddhist monks with full dedication and special emphasis on Sutra and Tantra aspects of Nyingmapa Buddhism. It was Khenpola who initiated and imparted the “YARNEY” (summer retreat) system for the first time in N.I.H.N.S. (Shedra), based on the practical rituals of Binayatika.
Phensang Khenchen is reported to have introduced the practice of strict tenets of Buddhist Philosophy in N.I.H.N.S. and effected several reforms in the Nyingmapa aspects of practical rituals as extra-curriculum subjects in the Shedra, besides improving the administrative functions of the Denzong Shedra.
As a practical demonstration on the attainment of Tantric practices, under the aegis of His Holiness Do-Drubchen Rinpoche, Khenpola also organised the first ever “NYINGMA MOEN-LAM CHHENPO” (the highest form of Tantric prayers) at Bodh Gaya in January-February, 1981.
The tradition of conducting “Nyingma Moen-Lam Chhoenpo” -the annual Tantric prayers in Bodh Gaya -- is ritualistically conducted in the first month of every Buddhist calendar year under the supervision of high ranking Rinpoches of Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, for the welfare of the sentient beings.
Between November 28 and December 2, 1980, Khenpola participated in the World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference at Thailand, Bangkok as an invitee-guest representative of the Govt. of Sikkim, besides another participation in the World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference at Berkley, S.W. Australia between October 29 and November 2, 1998.
In 1984-85, Khenpola earned his double doctorate degrees for his research on “An introduction to the spread of Buddhism in Sikkim”, and “The role of Mahasiddha Lha-Tsuen Chhenpo in Buddhist Propagation”.
For the first time in Sikkim between December 1988 and February 1989, the ordaination ceremony of RINCHEN TER-ZOE, empowered by His Holiness Do-Drubchen Rinpoche, was single-handedly organised by Khenpola at Tashiding, West Sikkim. In another first for Sikkim in August 1994, Khenpola organized and initiated the KAGAY DRUB-CHHEN – the highest Tantric ritual - at his parent monastery Phensang Sangna Choeding Monastery in North Sikkim. Ever since the KAGAY DRUB-CHHEN is conducted annually under the supervision of Phensang Khenchen.
In March 1998, Phensang Khenchen was again an invitee-participant for an international seminar at the Vishwa Bharti University in Kolkata. Thereafter in January 1999, Khenpola accepted the assignment of a Visiting Professor at the Shantiniketan for one academic year.
In January, 2000, Khenpola organized and ordained the most beneficial LAMA GONGDUE DRUB-CHHEN at Ringuen Monastery in North Sikkim, and the ceremony is conducted annually under the supervision and guidance of Phensang Khenchen and H.E. Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche.
Besides organizing different Buddhist ritualistic practices for his interested Shay-Lhobs (disciples) every year, especially during the vacations, Phensang Khenchen found himself time to visit almost all the monasteries and Gna-Goens in Sikkim to spread awareness on the basic tenets of Dharma and importance of practicing common rituals to the laity public.
Khenpola’s biggest concern was the necessity of maintaining the purity and sacredness of the holy teachings of the great Guru Rinpoche, Gyalwa Lha-Tsuen Chhenpo.
After his retirement in April, 1997 from Denzong Shedra, Khenpola went back to his parent Monastery Goenchen Phensang Sangna Chhoeding and effected substantial reforms, improvements and changes in the daily monastic life with the help of renowned Buddhist Master U-zed Khenpo from the Mendroling Monastery of Kham in Tibet.
It was during his post-retirement days that it dawned upon Khenpola that a common Monastic school/ Shedra was needed to ensure the continuity of regular studies in the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism in Sikkim. Khenpola thought that such a Shedra must be established in one of the holy and sacred places like Ringuen in North Sikkim, Drub-dee in Yuksam or Rinchenpong in West Sikkim. And co-incidentally during this period, the Monastic body and public of Rinchenpong represented to Phensang Khenchen on two separate occasions, to help them open a monastic school at Rinchenpong Monastery by camping at the Monastery complex for at least two to three years.
Thereafter, Khenpola approached a very high ranking Rinpoche to invoke a THUG-MOEN as to which of the three chosen places would be holistically appropriate to establish a Shedra/ Labthra. It appears that by virtue of its holiness and sacredness, Rinchenpong was reported to have attracted Kyab-ZeyRinpoche’s Thug-Moen.
It was in April 2000 that Khenpola initiated the establishment of a Shedra within the Rinchenpong Monastery compound. As an incentive, the Rinchenpong Monastic body offered about 10 acres of land and even got it registered in his name on April 19, 2002.
While Khenpola did not wish to accept the gift of land and the Rinchenpong Monastery refused to take it back, he invited suggestion from his devotees to put the gifted land to best use. Khenpola was advised to establish a charitable Trust and transfer the gifted land to the Trust, and then open the proposed monastic school or the Shedra.
After careful consideration, the charitable trust was finally established as the “Sikkim Buddhist Development Trust”. It was under the trust that the GNAGYUR SHEDRA PEMA DODRUL PHELGAYLING (Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies and Research Centre) came into legal existence on October 26, 2001 within the monastic compound of the Rinchenpong Monastery.
The formal opening of the Trust, as also inauguration of the I.H.B.S &R.C. -commonly known as the Rinchenpong Shedra - was ordained and blessed by His Eminence Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche on the same day.
Accordingly, a well-meaning Trust deed was drafted, legally vetted and registered on April 18, 2002 in the office of the Sub-divisional Magistrate at Soreng, and the 10 acre land that was earlier registered in the personal name of Ven. Khenpo D. Dorjee was endowed in the name of Sikkim Buddhist Development Trust on June 15 the same year.
As a principal feature of the Trust, it should invariably be headed by a full-fledged celibate (Gelong) Khenpo, who would be the Settlor as also the Chief Trustee of the Trust, which is managed by a group of 06 or 07 trustees, who must also enjoy the unfaltering confidence and trust of the Chief Trustee.
The primary objective of the trust is to promote the Buddhist activities of the Institute for Higher Buddhist studies and Research Centre. The pious and true Shay-Lobs and devotees of Rinchenpong Shedra would offer noble tributes and saintly homage to the late Phensang Khenchen if they could extend help to the realisation of the noble projects initiated by the late Khenchen. As of now, the late Khenchen has laid the foundations of a monk students’ hostel and class-room buildings.
The Sikkim Buddhist Development Trust records its humble gratitude for the generous financial grant specially sanctioned by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim for the development of infrastructure, levelling of two big grounds for the construction of class-rooms and hostels for the monk-students of the Rinchenpong Shedra.
In December 2010, Khen Rinpoche was appointed Dorjee Lopen of his parent premier monastery, Phensang Sangna Choeding, which is reported to have the maximum number of enrolled monks amongst the six premier monasteries in Sikkim.
At the Gnagyur Shedra Pema Dodrul Phelgayling, 112-odd young and promising monks hailing from different hamlets of Sikkim are taught and ordained different traditional Buddhist practices, philosophy, Sutra, Tantra and rituailstic Dharma.
The number of monk students in the Institute for Higher Buddhist Research Centre cannot be increased as of now with serious constraints in the lodging facilities and budgetary support for the Trust.
Phensang Khenchen used to advocate or preach on the positive roles of a monastery in the daily lives of Buddhist followers and sentient beings. A monastery is the epicentre of the multi-faceted benefits of the study of Buddhism through the monastic schools in Sikkim percolating employment, generation of economy, spreading of compassion and promotion of meaningful peace in the world.
The improvements and achievements brought about in Rinchenpong Shedra by the Sikkkim Buddhist Development Trust during the 11 years of its existence are in the common knowledge of the Sikkimese people.
Notwithstanding the bad health of the late Khenpola, it was by Dec 2011 that Phensang Khenchen had managed to organize his dream project, the first ever GURU TSEN-GAY KU CHHAM at Rinchenpong Monastery with the help of a few senior monks of Mendroeling Dratsang of Dehradun.
Clinically, Khenchen was not keeping well since 2009, owing to the failing functions of his kidneys.
Khenpola’s illness took a serious turn in April this year, when he had to be taken to New Delhi on three occasions. He underwent two major surgeries. Ultimately, Phensang Khenchen left for his heavenly abode on July 9, 2012 at 7.40 P.M. at the Manipal Hospital in Gangtok.
The Kudung of late Phensang Khenchen was first processioned to his parent monastery Phensang Sangna Chhoeding to facilitate the local monks and devotees to pay their last tributes and homage till the morning of July 16. The Kudung was then ceremoniously processioned to Guru-Lhagang at Choeten, Gangtok, where the monks of Denzong Shedra, Dratsang of H.H. Do-Drubchen Rinpoche and local devotees paid their last homage to the late Khen Rinpoche. Thereafter, the Kudung procession left for Rinchenpong Monastery and kept there in honour till the morning of July 18.
On the spiritual advice of H.H. Kyabzey Do- Drubchen Rinpoche, the Kudung of late Khenchen was then processioned to Tashiding, where his mortal remains were ceremoniously cremated on the specially built “Phurkong” at “Thur-Throe-Salwa-Selt” and presided over by His Holiness Kyabzey Yanythang Rinpoche, and attended by Tulkus, Khenpos, Shay-Lobs, other monks and devotees hailing from different parts of Sikkim.
Phensang Khenchen’s fortunate Shay-Lobs and Zheendas, who have known him very closely for over 30 long years, are of the firm belief that the late Khenpola would cause his rebirth in an appropriate incarnation in due course of time.
The late Khenpola is survived by an elder brother, a younger sister, a younger brother, a daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law and three granddaughters.
The family, relatives and devotees would observe “Ku-Tee-She-gu” of the late Khenpola at Phensang and Rinchenpong monasteries on 26th and 27th August 2012, respectively, and also at his own residence at Baluakhani, Gangtok.
The passing away of Phensang Khenchen is an irreparable loss to the cause of Dharma.

[the writer is the Honorary Secretary, Sikkim Buddhist Development Trust, Rinchenpong, West Sikkim]

Grameen Football Gaurav for Dup Tshering Lepcha

GANGTOK, 20 Aug: The 2nd Grameen Football Gaurav, a joint initiative of local English daily Sikkim Express and Videocon D2H, for budding and aspiring footballers hailing from rural areas was presented to Dup Tshering Lepcha of Boys Club Academy by Thupden Rapgyal Bhutia, Deputy Director, Coaching, Sports & Youth Affairs Department, at a special function held here at the Press Club of Sikkim today.
Dup Tshering Lepcha, who hails from Ranka-Berbing in East Sikkim, studies in Class X at the Deorali Sheda [a monastic school] and plays as a striker for the Boys Club junior team, which did well in the recently concluded SFA second division Sikkim-League and has qualified for the SFA first division Sikkim-League to be held next year.
Addressing the gathering, the chief guest Thupden Rapgyal Bhutia congratulated Dup Tshering on being felicitated and also for the initiative taken by Sikkim Express and Videocon D2H of awarding aspiring and upcoming talents from rural Sikkim. “There is lot of talent in Sikkim, but there is lack of encouragement,” he said, adding that initiatives such as Grameen Football Gaurav filled this vacuum, providing kids with the much-needed encouragement and motivation.
Other corporate houses and multi-national companies should also come forward with such initiatives for the sporting talents in the state, he remarked.
He also thanked the members of Boys Club, highlighting that being one of the oldest sports clubs in the State, they had done a lot for the game of football and in lifting the game to its present glory. He also thanked them for coaching and starting the football academy for young and aspiring footballers in the state and for picking the talented kids for better grooming.
In his short address, Dup Tshering Lepcha expressed his gratitude to members of his academy and everyone who has supported him till date.
Sikkim Express editor, Amit Patro mentioned that Grameen Football Gaurav is a monthly initiative wherein a young, promising and budding footballer from rural Sikkim is extended special recognition of their prodigious talent. This will not only encourage the rural footballers in the state but will also boost the moral younger talents, he said.
The function was also addressed by NIPL Director, Shirish Khare and the president of the Boys Club.

Darnal referred to Siliguri

GANGTOK, 20 Aug: JB Darnal, the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary, has been referred to Siliguri after he developed complications following his admission at the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong. The congressman, it may be recalled, was viciously attacked at his home in Turuk, Namthang in South Sikkim on 12 August by two masked intruders. Mr. Darnal sustained serious head injuries.
While initially he was lodged at the CRH, where he received 40 stitches on two near 4 inch cuts on his head, he is informed to have developed complications later resulting in him being referred to Siliguri. Meanwhile, Sikkim Police has announced a reward of Rs. 10,000 for anyone with credible information leading to the arrest of the attackers. There has been no further progress in the investigations so far.
However it has been informed that the South district police are following up on certain leads and analyzing data.
“We are in the process of identifying the attackers and are analyzing and verifying some data,” said a senior police official. On the other hand the lure of cash reward of Rs.10,000 has brought some people to the police, although with dubious information. In fact it is informed that a few people have approached the police with what has been described as ‘funny’ information. However the police are still hopeful that something more credible will leak to them soon.

Central Bank Smart Card for MGNREGA payments too harassing, Phatuk villagers complain

MANGAN, 19 Aug:  The villagers of Pathuk ward under Simick-Lingzey Gram Panchayat Unit have gone public with their dismay over the manner in which the Central Bank of India is handling their MGNREGA account. It has been five month now since the villagers have received their due wages even as other MGNREGA workers in other areas [still under the Post Office regime for collection of wages] have received their payments on a regular basis. The Pathuk ward was introduced to the Smart Card (Financial Inclusion Card) for payments under MGNREGA, it is informed.
The Phatuk villagers approached the ward panchayat KB Chettri and Central Bank’s Business  Correspondent Taranath Sapkota regarding on the matter and were reportedly told by the Business Correspondent that the Central Bank of India’s Singtam and Gangtok branches, whom he had already updated about the delay, were paying no heed.
When NOW! contacted the Business Correspondent on the matter, he contended that the Central Bank of India was “harassing and refusing” to resolve the matter by telling him that he could only withdraw Rs. 50,000 at a time when around Rs. 7 lakh had already been credited in the bank by the Department long time back.
It has been informed that the villagers now plan to approach to DC on the matter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Panic flight could damage image of Northeasterners in the long run


GANGTOK, 17 Aug: The Prime Minister was joined by Parliamentarians cutting across party lines today to reassure people from the North East that they were safe and welcome all over the country and those who have stayed behind in what has developed as the ‘Ground Zero’ of rumour-induced panic – Bengaluru/ Bangalore  – insist that the city is safe. But these appear to have met with only limited success as people continue to flee Bengaluru even as the situation has normalised even in Pune in Maharastra, the only place where incidents of actual attacks on North Easterns were reported last week. It needs to be added here that panic flights were reported from Chennai and Mangalore as well today although these were at much lower levels than the exodus from Bangalore where special trains to the northeast were pressed into service today as well.
Mikchung Bhutia, an IT professional from Sikkim who has been living in Bangalore for a while now and keeps in close touch with the Sikkimese population there, confirms that neither he nor anyone he knows has received any SMS or MMS threatening people from the North East [as a retaliatory action against the violence seen in Kokrajhar in Assam].
The rumour mongering, however, seems to have gone a step ahead with the purported threat SMSes now appearing to be a rumour in itself.
Speaking to NOW! from Bangalore, Sweta Rai from Sikkim who teaches in a Bangalore school, echoed Mr. Bhutia’s information, confirming that she has not received any message threatening or warning her of attacks and neither has anyone from Sikkim she knows received such SMSes.
“It is all second hand information; someone who knows someone claims to have received such SMSes. There is absolutely nothing of the sort that people are scared of happening here,” Ms. Rai asserted, adding that she has siblings living in different parts of the city and there have not been any untoward incidents anywhere.
She adds that the Bangaloreans have become so conscious of the situation that they are going out of their way to make sure that people from the North East feel secure and welcome in the city. In some instances, to and fro police escorts are being provided to college students to reassure them of their safety.
As evidence of Bangalore being safe, police authorities there inform that the helplines opened there for people from the North East have received many calls, but all to enquire on the situation and none to report of any untoward incident or threat.
The exodus however continues and since the panic is believed to have been triggered by threat SMSes, the Ministry of Home Affairs has announced a ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes for 15 days starting today. More than five SMSes or MMSes from one number cannot be sent in one go. MMSes have been restricted to 25kb. The ban has been imposed throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the Bangalore police today arrested three persons for allegedly spreading rumours regarding the issue. This too, was initially misreported in the media as arrests made for attacks on North Easterns. By evening, it was confirmed that the arrests were not for attacks [none of which, the authorities in Karnataka insist have taken place yet] but, as mentioned, for spreading rumours.
The Bangalore Police have intensified patrolling in localities populated by people from the northeast, including college-going students, blue-collar and white-collar employees, security guards and women working in beauty salons. This was confirmed by students and professionals from Sikkim based in Bangalore while speaking with NOW!
Also as part of the investigation, cyber sleuths attached to the Bangalore city police crime branch have started cracking at the sensational messages sent through SMS and MMS, e-mails and postings on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that caused panic and fear among the people from the region.
As per media reports, most of the messages received on mobiles through SMS or MMS are originating from Assam and other North Eastern states, Mumbai and Kolkata in Hindi, Assamese and Bengali without names or place from where they were being sent.
“The fact that only northeast people/ students are getting rumours and not others on their mobiles as SMS or MMS reveals that they are being sent from the north-eastern region to their kith and kin living in Bangalore or other cities of the state,” a Karnataka police official was quoted as saying in a national daily.
Most of those fleeing the city have confirmed as much, stating that they were leaving not because they have been personally threatened but because family at home is insisting they return, fearful that something might happen.
Speaking from Bangalore, Mr. Bhutia insisted that all was well there.
“There is nothing to fear, I would particularly like to tell the parents of students here not to panic. Their children have come here to study and if they return home when there is no reason to, their studies will suffer,” he pointed out.
Mr. Bhutia has been receiving frantic calls from parents worried about their children studying in Bangalore for the past three days. “The moment you fear, you are playing into the hands of people ready to take advantage of it,” he adds.
The exodus, especially because it is based on rumours, has severely, possibly even irrevocably, undermined the credibility of North Easterns working here, Mr. Bhutia points out, adding, “Those working here, who have left, do you think they will get their jobs back when they return?”
It will be difficult for them to convince prospective employers of their reliability, a work ethic that the community had earned through years of hard work, he underlines.
About 2,40,000 people from the northeast region live in Bangalore and another 1,00,000 in other cities across Karnataka. Businesses have taken a bad hit with security agencies, restaurants, beauty parlours, which mostly employ those from the North East, suddenly short of manpower. On last count, as many as 20,000 people from the North East are believed to have fled from Bangalore alone.

Kamrang protests police action against their football team manager, demand apology from SP

NAMCHI, 17 Aug: The final match of the Independence Day Football tournament played here on Wednesday was keenly contested, so keenly contested that a refereeing decision challenged by one of the teams was so hotly challenged that the police had to intervene and whisk away the manager of the team from the field before play could resume. And the matter is still not resolved with a section of the people from Kamrang below Namchi now demanding that the SP [South] apologise to the Kamrang FC team manager or face a joint protest by the “youth” of Kamrang and Namchi. Kamrang FC lost the match 4-3 but refused to collect the runners-up trophy or their cash-prize in protest.
The incident in question transpired when the Kamrang FC manager, Nayan Rai, protested what he saw as the linesman’s failure to call an out ball and the play ended in a goal by the Legship team which eventually lifted the winner’s trophy. Before that, however, immediately after the goal [which stretched the lead to 4-2 at the time] was scored, the Kamrang manager was on the field hotly protesting the lapse by the referees. A heated exchange followed and the game was held up until the police entered the field and broke up the melee. During this intervention, the SP is alleged to have also slapped the Kamrang FC manager.
The Kamrang team managed to pull back one goal before the match ended and lost 4-3 and then registered its protest by refusing to participate in the prize distribution ceremony demanding that the SP apologise first.
When contacted, SP [South] Manoj Tewari argued that no one can be allowed to take law into their own hands and contested that his action on the ground on Thursday was to prevent an untoward incident. He further countered that the Kamrang FC Manager was instigating a situation on the ground that day and that this is proven by the fact that after he was removed from the ground, the match continued smoothly. The Kamrang team manager was taken to the Namchi Police Station and released after the match.
A section of the people of Kamrang are not convinced of this argument, and addressing media persons here today protested what they insist was misconduct and excessive use of force by the SP. They believe that the team manager was within his rights to protest the line call and reiterated that if the SP did not apologise, the youth of Kamrang and Namchi would join hands to protest against the SP.

Acoustic Traditional to bring together music and storytelling at Mayfair Resort

GANGTOK, 17 Aug: With Acoustic Traditional’s ‘One Tribe’ tour nearing its completion in the state, the organisation is now gearing up for a concert with the support of Mayfair Hotels and Resorts, Gangtok.
As per a press release, the show, which will be hosted at the Mayfair Resorts on the 31 August, will bring together music and storytelling in a brand new spectacle, something that the state has not witnessed before.
Music and stories will find a new meaning and interpretation in the concert which will feature musicians from the region [Sikkim and Darjeeling]. Often referred to as the new indigenous movement, the concert hopes to build on the group’s previous series with specific focus on their present work, the release mentions.
Storyteller Salil Mukhia of Acoustic Traditional says, “We have been working on a specific style for quite a few years now, which we hope to exhibit with the support of musicians this time. At a certain level, this style is influenced by shamanic storytelling where hard music becomes necessary. It will be interesting as we will be working with artists from Rock backgrounds and there will be plenty of guitars, raw sounds and great music. We are more than looking forward to it. Such style of storytelling is new and it’s great to have a genre of our own! Besides, what is important remains important – taking our message further of conserving indigenous folklore.”
The concert has been planned with Mayfair leading the way in support of the organisation’s tour. “This is not a general session. It’s an exclusive one and planned as a means to support the tour. While we do frequent sessions, we do not do concerts very often as a lot goes into making it,” adds Abhishek Pradhan.
While events like these are seldom organised and bring in a new perspective to storytelling, Mr. Bjorn Deniese, Mayfair Hotels and Resorts sees something critical, “We at Mayfair believe in protecting and promoting indigenous culture and tradition which has always been a part of the Himalayas. Cultural Tourism is an interesting new path for the future tourism in the state and such concerts will bring to the forefront the rich culture and folklore of Sikkim.”
The project team until now has been documenting the folklore of Yeti in the State with a specific focus on the Dzongu region in view of understanding the Lepcha community’s association with the great legend. The process of documentation will extend to other areas in the near future as such an area of documentation cannot be completed in such a short time, the release informs.
According to Minket Lepcha, “the effort marks a beginning in the revival of indigenous folklore in the region vis-à-vis community engagement.”
For concert bookings and details, please contact: 8972 313 930 / 811 660 2270 or contact Mayfair Hotels and Resorts, Gangtok.

SAP personnel assaulted while foiling theft attempt at hydel project site

GANGTOK, 17 Aug: A case of theft and assault has been registered against two persons and some others at the Gyalshing Police Station on 16 August.
On 16 August a written complaint was received from Constable Umesh Subba of Sikkim Armed Police stating that on 15 August at around 4 PM, he along with his colleague CT Sangay Topden Bhutia, also of SAP, deployed Bhaluthang at the hydel project being developed by Shiga Power Energy Pvt Ltd, were patrolling Adit I and Adit II at lower Bhaluthang when one Bharna Singh Subba of lower Bhaluthang along with 2 or 3 others [who could not be identified by the complainant] were seen stealing iron rods belonging to Shiga company.
Seeing this, the complainant along with his colleague tried to stop the pilferage when one Prem Singh Subba from the group stopped them by throwing stones and later by forcefully holding the complainant’s uniform collar and intimidating by using foul language.
The complainant further states that he reported the matter to his guard commander.  However, on 16 August at around 8 AM, Prem Singh Subba along with a group of about 10/15 local people again came to the Adit I site and threatened the complainant.
The Gyalshing police have arrested Prem Singh Subba [48], resident of Bhaluthang, Gyalshing, West Sikkim and efforts are on to arrest the other accused, Bharna Singh Subba. A case under section 379/336/341/353/506 [punishment for theft, act endangering life or personal safety of others, punishment for wrongful restraint, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty and punishment for criminal intimidation] of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at the Gyalshing Police Station and is under investigation.