North-east diary

Pratiksha Upadhyaya

Siliguri, May 10:

Polling in West Bengal

Polling for the 42 seats in West Bengal today is witnessing, besides the ruling CPI(M)-led Left front, Sonia Gandhi’s Congress, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress and others in the fray. Although no violence marred the campaigns which ended on Saturday, intra-party clashes have not been ruled out. The state has seen the strictest security arrangements ever.

Neighbouring Sikkim is also going to the polls, where 32 Lok Sabha and 1 Rajya Sabha seats are up for grabs. However, only two major parties, chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling’s ruling Sikkim Democratic front (SDF) and the ex-CM Nar Bahadur Bhandari-led Congress are the major contenders. Darjeeling has 10 candidates for the lone Lok Sabha seat. The CPI(M) has been victorious for the past three consecutive elections, but doubts over its victory this year have been cast as Shubhas Ghising’s Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has decided to support Congress candidate Dawa Norbula. Moni Thapa has become the first lady candidate to contest the seat on a CPI(M) ticket. The results in both the states would be known on May 13. Interestingly, Sonia Gandhi paid a visit to nearby Kalchini area of Jalpaiguri district and other tea estates on Tuesday. Much to the amusement of locals there she spoke in broken Nepali.

Sikkim people elated

China has, for the first time, removed Sikkim as a ‘separate country’ from its official world map in the “World Affairs Year Book, 2003/2004” published last week. Already elated by the opening of the Nathu-la border trade after several decades, the Sikkimese have thus taken it as an additional ‘gift’ from the northern neighbour and are celebrating the move. The move is also significant for India, since it involves the recognition of the present Indo-China border demarcated since the State’s accession to India in 1975.

Child killed in mishap

Kunal Rai (6), a resident of Kurseong, died on the spot when a vehicle hit him in the town on Thursday. The accident occurred as two vehicles were overtaking in great speed, according to witnesses.

Leader assaulted

Din Nath Upadhayaya, chairman of the Dhemaji district unit of Gorkha Association in Assam, was attacked by alleged Congress supporters of Laxmipur constituency on Saturday. Upadhyay was reportedly campaigning on behalf of the Asom Gana Parishad candidate Arun Sharma when the incident occurred, police said.

Murderer’ killed

Salem Shiekh of Champagram village in North Bengal’s Malda district, was beaten to death by his neighbours on Friday when they came to know that the former had killed his wife Farzina in his village last week.

‘Arms smugglers’ held

Dilip Singh and Usaya Malakar, residents of Goalapatti under the Siliguri police station, were arrested on Tuesday. It is alleged that the miscreants were arms smugglers and were trying to sell ammunition in the market.

Car centre gutted

Fire razed Sona Motors, a Maruti servicing centre at Sevoke road in Siliguri, on Friday morning. Twelve luxury four-wheelers, a scooter and a stock of spare parts, valued over an estimated INRs 10 million, were burnt, according to the Bhaktinagar police station in town.