|Ajay Chhetri, 22, from Shivgram in Darjeeling|
Darjeeling district police will organise a 21km-long half marathon to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12, an event which is likely to see the participation of international runners.
Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said here today that the main objective of organising the event was to promote tourism in the Darjeeling hills. "We would like to impart a message that Darjeeling is the place where peace and harmony prevail."
He said former Indian athlete Shiny Wilson would inaugurate the half-marathon at Sukhiapokhri.
According to him, around 1,000 people had participated in the race last year. This year, the organisers are expecting a higher turnout. "Registration for participating in the race has started and will continue till January 11. The registration fee is Rs 250. However, on January 12, we will allow any sports enthusiast to take part in the run without registration. Prizes will be given only to those who register their names," said Javalgi.
Ahead of the Darjeeling run, another half-marathon will be held in Siliguri on January 10 as part of the ongoing Uttarbanga Utsav. The Siliguri Marathon will be organised jointly by the north Bengal development department and Agrani Sangha, a local club.
The 21-km long run will be flagged off from Hashmi Chowk and end at the Agrani Sangha club.
Two more events, an 8km mini marathon and a 4km dream run will also be organised simultaneously. In the half-marathon, the winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, while the first runner-up will be given Rs 50,000.
Darjeeling, Aug. 24: Barely two hours before Mamata Banerjee's cavalcade was to cross Kurseong town, police there today requested 22 schools near NH55 to give over an hour early so that the highway could be kept clear for the chief minister to pass.
|Members of the Bhutia community offer khadas to Mamata Banerjee in |
Darjeeling on Monday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Sources in various schools said they received a call from police between 1pm and 1.45pm, requesting their co-operation and asking that students be allowed to leave for home by 2pm, instead of 3pm that is the regular closing time. "The request also came a bit too late in the day," said the educationist.
One school source said: "It was not a diktat but a request from the police, who even went to the extent of saying that their jobs would be at stake if we did not co-operate."
Classes usually start in hill schools at 8.30am and get over by 3pm. Soon after the police called up the schools, many institutions did close for the day at 2pm. All schools in Kurseong could not be contacted individually. Those schools that declared an early holiday today did not want their institution's names to come on print. "Please don't print the name of my school as we don't want to be in the firing line," joked one teacher.
The chief minister has earlier too taken the same highway to Darjeeling but on most occasions, she reached Bagdogra in the afternoon and after administrative meetings, left for the hills around evening.
Today, the chief minister landed at Bagdogra airport at 2.35pm and left for Darjeeling in 12 minutes. The chief minister's convoy touched Kurseong town at 3.45pm, about two hours after the police called up the schools to make the request for an early closure.
The chief minister reached Richmond Hill in Darjeeling at 5.35pm.
When schools give over in Kurseong, a traffic jam usually follows as NH55 runs right through the town. "To make matters worse, there is no foot path in the heart of town," said a resident, which means that students walk right on the road while going home.
Since morning today, Kurseong police had been minding traffic in the heart of the town.
Many students walk back home and in the absence of a proper footpath, there is traffic congestion.
An equal number of students also go home in pool cars which too slow traffic.
When asked if the school authorities had managed to inform the parents, a principal said: "No, we could not. So we decided to keep the students back in school. However, parents usually come a bit early to fetch their children."
The GTA is constructing a parking space in Kurseong but work is not over yet.
C.B. Subba, the acting subdivional police officer of Kurseong, today denied that they had closed the schools. "We definitely cannot close schools. We don't have such powers. However, we sought their co-operation to basically ensure that students who would be returning home would not be inconvenienced and get caught in a traffic jam."
|Meghalaya's Anish Thapa and Raiganj's Shyamali Singh Win Darjeeling Marathon|
Anish Thapa from Shillong covered the distance in 1 hour 10 min 22 seconds to claim the first prize in the men's category, while Shyamali Singh from Raniganj won the first prize among women clicking a time of 1 hour 31 min 40 seconds.
Singh had also won the first prize last year.
Prizes will be handed over to the winners on January 21 at Lebong by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the police said adding the marathon was organised to build a better relation between the police and the public.
The marathon was flagged off by athletic coach Kuntal Roy who is a Dronacharya awardee.
1st Prize - Rs 1,50,000
2nd Prize - Rs 50,000
3rd Prize - Rs 25,000
Places 4th to 10th - Cash Prizes
|2nd Amway Darjeeling Police Marathon 2015|
This is an open competition for both males and females within the age group of 18 to 45 years.
Vivek Chhetri for telegraph writes:
The Darjeeling police in association with The Telegraph will be organising a 21km half marathon on January 12, in which over 2,000 people from across the country are expected to participate.
The second Amway Darjeeling Police Marathon is being organised by Darjeeling police to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and to strengthen the police-public relations. The first run was held on January 12 last year.
Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the Darjeeling superintendent of police, today said: "The half marathon will start from Sukhiapokhri and end at Chowrasta on January 12. The winner, first runner-up and second runner-up in both the male and female categories will get cash awards of Rs 1.5 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively."
The race will start at 9am. The marathon, whose tagline is "Run for Peace, Run for Happiness", is being organised in collaboration with the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and the state government.
"The last date for submission of forms is January 11. After the submission of forms is complete, the participants will have to undergo a medical test," Chaturvedi said.
According to the district police chief, over 2,000 participants are expected for the half marathon.
"We are getting a lot of inquiries from Calcutta and Siliguri. Runners from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Jharkhand, Bihar and some other states have also submitted forms," Chaturvedi said.
The winners will be handed a trophy and cash prize by chief minister Mamata Banerjee during the Himal-Terai-Dooars Sports Festival, which will be held at Lebong on January 21.
"The top ten contestants in both the male and female categories will also receive consolation prizes," said Sudip Sarkar, the additional superintendent of police, Darjeeling.
Source: DC & telegraph
Till now, police were known to be looking for GTA elected member Sanjay Thulung, who is also the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha vice-president, in connection with the case. Thulung is untraceable.
Two persons — one man hailing from Assam and the other from Alipurduar — have been arrested in the Chirang district in lower Assam with the arms and ammunition that they were allegedly carrying in a Tata Safari.
Darjeeling police superintendent Akhilesh Chaturvedi said: “During their interrogation, a lot of names have cropped up. We are verifying the facts.”
Asked if the names were those of political leaders, Chaturvedi said: “Yes, of course.… So many names are coming, we have to verify and then I can say who is involved or not.”
An M16 rifle, two Beretta pistols, three .32 bore pistols, 300 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 80 rounds of ammunition of AK-series rifles, 198 rounds of M16 ammunition and 60 rounds of .32 ammunition were found in the Darjeeling-bound Tata Safari in Chirang on November 8.
Umesh Kami, who hails from Alipurduar and is a member of the Gorkhaland Personnel in Darjeeling, and Ganesh Chhetri from Assam, were in the car.
Chhetri, who is a member of an Assam-based outfit called the United Gorkha People’s Organisation purportedly told his interrogators that the arms consignment was for a political leader of Darjeeling district in lieu of money.
On November 9, the Darjeeling police raided the house of Thulung.
The Morcha raised allegations of police atrocities after law-enforcers patrolled Tukvar on Monday following information that Thulung could be hiding there.
The hill party alleged that the police had raided two houses, ransacked property and harassed a schoolgirl in Tukvar, which is Morcha chief Bimal Gurung’s GTA constituency.
Chaturvedi today said: “So far, we are taking all legal action. Since the case is with Assam police, we have sent our team to examine those persons (arrested) and based on their information, we are taking all possible legal action.”
On November 17, the police had found an abandoned Tata Safari in Tukvar, near Darjeeling town. Asked about the vehicle, Chaturvedi said: “Yes, that was found after a statement from the accused person and we are verifying the facts and soon, we will be able to reach a conclusion.”
The Trinamul delegation met Chaturvedi today to seek the quick arrest of all those associated with the arms seizure.
“We are getting information that Sanjay Thulung had bought the vehicle (that was impounded in Assam),” said Binny Sharma, the general secretary of the Trinamul (hills).
Alluding to the Burdwan blast, Sharma took a swipe at the BJP, saying: “The BJP is making a lot of noise in south Bengal but why are they silent in the hills on an issue that concerns national security.”
The Morcha, which is the dominant party in the hills, and the BJP are allies.
S.S. Ahluwalia, the BJP MP in Darjeeling, was elected with the backing of the Morcha.
Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul (hills), said the delegation had requested the police to ensure that the accused were immediately arrested.
“The Darjeeling hills share international borders and peace must be maintained in the hills. We want the accused to be arrested as early as possible.”
Vivek Chhetri for Telegraph
|Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung|
Police swooped down on two houses in the village last night, as they said Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member Sanjay Thulung, who has been linked with the recent arms and ammunition haul in Assam, had been taking shelter there. Since the arms haul on 8 November and since fingers started pointing at Mr Thulung, the GTA official, and also the GJMM youth leader, has been absconding.
“Police have acted in similar fashion and they exercise monopoly in the hills whenever our party president is out of Darjeeling,” Mr Pradhan said.
“GJMM is a party that has all different elected leaders, like MLAs, councilors and GTA members. Hence, it is their (police) responsibility to look after the inconveniences of the common public and not harass them,” he added.
According to him, the three MLAs of the three hill sub-divisions will inquire about the raids with the state government and the police administration.
Darjeeling SP, AK Chaturvedi, however, said they had merely conducted ‘patrolling’ and not raids in the area, following reports that Mr Thulung was hiding there.
Almost all top GJMM leaders, including the party president, Mr Gurung, left for Delhi on 15 November, and are presently on a pilgrimage to Banaras.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has directed its three MLAs to find from "whichever level" the reason behind yesterday's alleged police raids on two houses in Tukvar, the constituency of GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung.
|Raids in Tukvar in connection to Assam arms haul case|
The arms and ammunition were seized in Assam on November 8 and were allegedly meant for Thulung, two persons arrested in the case have said, according to police sources in the neighbouring state.
The Morcha today called an "emergency meeting" of the central committee to discuss the "raid" on the houses of Jaspal Gazmer and Dinesh Theeng yesterday.
The meeting was presided over by Morcha vice-president R.P. Waiba as party chief Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri are away in Varanasi.
Raju Pradhan, assistant secretary of the Morcha, said: "We do not know why raids are being conducted there. We have directed our three MLAs to find out from whichever level, the reason behind the raids. Since the Morcha is the largest political power (in the hills), it is our responsibility to find out the reason behind the raids."
The Morcha today said a schoolgirl was harassed by the police in one of the homes they allegedly raided.
D.K. Pradhan, a Morcha central committee member, said: "We want to find out if any case has been registered against the people whose houses are being searched."
Pradhan said the police had misbehaved with a student at Gazmer's house. "These are serious issues concerning human rights," he said.
Police sources have said the force could raid a house in the state without registering a case as part of a probe in another state.
Gazmer's family members said the police had not only raided the house but also ransacked it yesterday evening.
Theeng's family said the police had entered and raided the house in the morning but in the evening, they stood outside the gate and threatened to take Theeng's wife to the police station for interrogation if he did not surrender.
Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, the Darjeeling SP, said the allegations were "baseless".
Vivek Chhetri for Telegraph