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Dhaka starts direct trial bus service to Darjeeling & Gangtok
The trial run of direct bus services on Dhaka-Gangtok and Dhaka-Darjeeling routes via Siliguri kicked off last night aiming to boost cross-border passenger services.
The run was inaugurated by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Chairman Ehsan Elahi.
A team including 18 government officials, led by Joint Secretary (toll and axle) Shafiqul Karim of road transport and highway division, left Gabtoli Bus Terminal in two buses around 8:15pm. Five Indian officials will join them at Siliguri.
They will return home on December 16 after visiting Darjeeling and Gangtok, said Shafiqul before the journey.
The run was scheduled yesterday morning, but delayed as the government did not issue necessary orders on time.
A large number of holidaymakers seek direct bus services to the two popular tourist destinations. Besides, many Bangladeshi parents send their children to boarding schools in Darjeeling, said officials.
The service will ease their journey to the places, they added.
Suvenker Ghosh Rakesh, managing director of Shyamoli NR Travels that provided the officials with the buses, said they were ready to operate commercially on the routes if the authorities approve after the trial run.
Darjeeling via Siliguri is around 450km and Gangtok about 500km away from Dhaka.
Mahbub Hossain Sumon, managing director of Touch Creation Ltd, a travel agency, said, “This definitely is a great initiative.”
In November, India lifted a ban that restricted foreigners from entering Gangtok. The bus service will definitely be a great help to the visitors now, he said.
He however, said heavy buses would not be able to operate on the narrow and zigzag roads between Siliguri and Darjeeling.
Currently, buses operate on five cross-border routes between Bangladesh and India -- Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka, Dhaka-Agartala-Dhaka, Dhaka-Sylhet-Shillong-Guwahati-Dhaka, Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata-Agartala and Dhaka-Khulna-Kolkata-Dhaka.

Darjeeling MP Raju Bista
Gangtok: The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) has written to Darjeeling MP Raju Bista stating that Darjeeling must be kept out of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) for the same reasons as have been given for Sixth Schedule and Inner Line Permit (ILP) areas.
In a memorandum to Bista, BGP national working president Munish Tamang said that the argument behind this exemption was that the areas belong to vulnerable communities whose language and culture might be completely overrun by the large scale influx or settlement of outsiders, particularly those from Bangladesh.
“You are aware that our hills, Terai and Dooars area have similar conditions to those areas, which have been kept out of purview of the CAB. Our areas have also witnessed large demographic changes that are well documented. Geographically, too, we are vulnerable to large scale influx from Bangladesh. Already, we are culturally and linguistically marginalised,” the BGP in a memorandum said.
The BGP also requested the MP to immediately seek similar measures as have been made available to the Sixth Schedule and the Inner line Permit (ILP) areas such that the provisions of the CAB will not be extended to the state.
“This will ensure that the cultural and linguistic identity of the hills, Terai and Dooars is protected and the people of these areas feel safe,” the memorandum further added.

BJP Darjeeling district Siliguri president Avijit Roy
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Darjeeling District, Siliguri president Avijeet Roy Choudhury was killed in a road accident in Baharampur.

Choudhury's body will reach his hometown Siliguri at around 7 pm today.

The incident occurred at around 12 am last night. Choudhury was sitting beside the driver.

He was selected as the district president yesterday evening and the announcement was made by the state office, Kolkata.

He had gone to Kolkata for the same reason and met with an accident on the way back to Siliguri.

Aslo watch Video - Raju Bista demands CBI probe into Abhijit Roy death

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Binay Tamang
Darjeeling: Taking potshots at BJP on Friday, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Binay Tamang said: "Their downfall has begun. The recent political developments including the party's dismal performance in the Assembly by-elections in Bengal are pointers to this," and reiterated that "TMC will form the government in the state in 2021."
Tamang stated that his party will field candidates in all the Hill Assembly constituencies backed by TMC in 2021. "We will win all the seats in the Hills," the GJM president declared.
He claimed that GJM will have an important role in Terai and Dooars in the 2021 elections. "We will back the TMC in the plains as well," added Tamang.
Meanwhile, the GJM (Binay faction) shot a congratulatory letter to TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee for the party's victory in the by-election. "BJP's arrogance coupled with the NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill will prove to be the death knell for the party," prophesied Tamang.
He said that Darjeeling MP Raju Bista's statement in the Parliament on Friday, seeking protection for the Gorkhas in the NRC, is a clear indication of the gravity of the situation despite the fact that Bista, while camping during the Lok Sabha election, had claimed that the NRC will not affect the Gorkhas.

GTA staff revive cry for regularisation
A demand for regularisation of jobs for the over 4,000 contractual employees of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been revived and is gathering steam, reflecting how issues come up in circles in the hills.
The employees were recruited since 1988 to the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. Since then, powers have shifted from the Gorkha National Liberation Front to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal Gurung camp) and now to the Morcha (Binay Tamang group). So has the employees’ union.
The 4200-odd contractual employees make up most of the GTA staff.
“We had a meeting with Binay Tamang and he assured us that he will take up the issue. We are confident he will fulfil our demand as we believe our problem can be solved only by political will,” said D.P. Khawash, general secretary of the United Employees Association.
The association was formed after 2017 and replaced the Janmukti Astai Karmachari Sangatan (JAKS) of the then Gurung-led Morcha.
The association had initially said it would remain “apolitical” but over the past year, it has aligned with the Tamang camp.
“Our papers are under process. The GTA has started correspondence with the hill affairs department,” said Pravin Chhetri, general secretary, Kalimpong district unit of the association.
The issue had peaked in 2009. On September 17, 2009, following a hunger strike by them, the state government had given a written assurance to the JAKS on regularisation.
The fast was lifted following the assurance. However, the government backtracked and said the promise had been given under duress. The employees had also received a favourable ruling from Calcutta High Court in 2015.
“We are confident now as the new dispensation has shown political will and solved the issue of teachers’ recruitment,” said Khawash.
Over the years, the employees’ status has changed from contractual to “pay-band” workers. Their salaries have more than doubled and on retirement, the employees are given a one-time grant. Medical schemes have been introduced for them.
Arjun Rai, president of the association, said: “We want all to be regularised by 2021 and appeal to all employees to register with us or else they should not blame us if they are left behind as this issue is about political will.”

Thieves steal onions worth Rs 50k from Bengal shop. Owner finds biggest surprise in cash box
With their prices breaching the Rs 100 per kilo mark in West Bengal, onions have seemingly become more alluring for thieves than cash, at least going by the claim of a vegetable seller whose shop was burgled in the state's East Midnapore district.
Akshay Das, who has a shop in Sutahata, found things scattered all around when he opened his outlet on Tuesday morning.
Realising that thieves could have sneaked into the shop on Monday night, Das was in for a shock when he counted his losses. While the money kept in the cash box was intact, several sacks containing onions were missing.
According to Das, the thieves had escaped with onions worth Rs 50,000, besides some garlic and ginger.
"They didn't take a single paisa from the cash box," he said.

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