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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

120 dead in severe nor'wester in West Bengal, Bihar, Assam

PTI, Raiganj, Kishangunj, Guwahati, 15 April : A severe nor'wester packed with a wind speed of 125 kmph left 120 people dead, hundreds injured and a swathe of destruction in seven districts of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam.
Bihar accounted for the highest number of 77 deaths in five districts, followed by West Bengal with 39 in one district and Assam where four persons perished in one district in the storm that struck at midnight last night.
In West Bengal, at least 39 people were killed and over a hundred injured when a severe storm devastated four blocks of North Dinajpur district bordering Bangladesh, while in Assam four died in Dhubri district. official sources said on Wednesday. Additional district magistrate P K Dutta said that the maximum number of 28 deaths occurred in Karandighi block while others were killed in Raiganj when the storm swept through the district midnight last night. Three people were killed at Hemtabad and two others at Kaliaganj, he said, adding that two other blocks - Itahar and Chakulia - were partly affected. Dutta said the toll might rise as detailed information was not immediately available from the far-flung areas of the district.

West Bengal government said Rs 2 lakh would be paid to next of kin of each of those who were killed in North Dinajpur. Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said the main police barrack in Raiganj was razed and many were injured as tin roofs of the houses were blown away by the storm. Thousands of trees were uprooted affecting road communication and the National Highway 34 was blocked for several hours, Mukherjee said.The sources said at least 100 persons were hospitalised. Around 50,000 dwellings were destroyed and hundreds of people have been rendered homeless. He said the storm struck when the people had retired to their beds and the casualties were high because most of the houses that were razed were built with mud. READ BBC STORY Photos : Reuters, Aritro Roy
Pahela Baishakh celebrated in Bangladesh
Dhaka, 14 April : Bangladesh has celebrated Pahela Baishakh (first day of the Bengali month Baishakh), the first day of the 'Nababarsha' with new hopes, aspirations and joy.
People from all corners around the country celebrated the day. There were colourful processions, fairs and cultural programmes in cities and towns. The central attraction of Pahela Baishakh on Wednesday was the cultural programme of Chhayanaut at Ramna Batamul that started at the crack of dawn as it has for 40 years now. Like every year, the musical programme included devotional and patriotic songs. The Fine Art Institute of Dhaka University brought out a colourful procession with floats designed after birds and animals.
The day was celebrated amid tight security following the 2001 bomb attack at the Chhayanaut programme. The three-day programme of Shilpakala Academy began Wednesday. Traditional Baishakhi fairs were also organised by the Shishu Aacdemy, Bangla Academy and Sonargaon Crafts Foundation.
Around 8,000 law enforcers including the RAB, SWAT, police and intelligence officers were equipped with dog squads, CCTV cameras and, for the first time, infra-red cameras to ensure maximum security.
According to the government calendar, Pahela Baishakh falls on 14 April, but according to the traditional calendar (panjika) it should fall on 15 April. Photos : AP

PM Sk Hasina exchanges new year greetings with people
UNB, Dhaka, 14 April : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday greeted the people on the occasion of Bengali New Year and urged them to have patience as the government had taken effective measurers for solving power, gas and water crisis.
“I know the people are suffering from (shortage of) power, gas and water. I believe, we could solve these problems and I request the people to have patience as we need some time to solve the problems,” she said. Hasina made the remarks in a quick reaction to the reporters at Ganobhaban during her exchange of greetings with mass people.

Indian home min Chidambaram to visit Bangladesh soon
New Delhi, 14 April : Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram has accepted an invitation to visit Bangladesh in the shortest possible time.
Chidambaram accepted the invitation in principle after Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun on Tuesday invited him to visit Bangladesh, Minister (Press) in the Bangladesh High Commission in India Enamul Haq Choudhury said Wednesday. Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Ahmed Karim called on Chidambaram and handed over the invitation on behalf of Sahara, he said.
Choudhury said Chidambaram has expressed keenness to visit Bangladesh as early as possible and date would be worked out through the diplomatic channel. According to indications, the visit may take place after the budget session of Indian Parliament, which resumes Thursday and ends next month, reports our New Delhi correspondent. If materialises, this will be the first visit by Chidambaram to Bangladesh as the home minister.

Assam's rongali Bihu begins
PTI, Guwahati, 14 April : The three-day annual ‘Rongali’ or ’Bohag’ Bihu festival heralding Assamese New Year began today with traditional merrymaking and celebrations across the state.

Assam Governor J. B. Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi wishing the people on the occasion hoped it will be celebrated in the spirit of universal brotherhood promoting the ethos of unity amongst all communities of the state. The festival, usually associated with the preparation of paddy fields for the coming sowing season, has moved from the rural ambience to the urban stage with almost all localities here organising Bihu sanmilanis and the festivities continue for nearly a month. All Assam Students’ Union(AASU) has organised ‘Mukoli Bihu’ (Open Bihu) at the Judges’ Field in which cultural functions were held and and several prominent personalities felicitated.
The first day of the Bihu, which falls on the last day of the Hindu month ‘Chaitra’, is called ‘Goru (cow) Bihu’ as farmers take their cattle to water bodies for a wash and smear them with ground turmeric and urge them to be healthy and productive. Photos : Chinmoy Roy

I take the blame for KKR's poor show : Shah Rukh Khan
PTI, New Delhi, 14 April : Dejected by Kolkata Knight Riders' continuing poor run in the Indian Premier League, team owner and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan took the blame for the debacle and said he feels awful for the side and its fans.
KKR were all but thrown out of semifinal reckoning after losing to Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday night and Shah Rukh said he was responsible for the disappointing show. "I completely take the blame for not putting up a good enough show...so much love for KKR and I couldn't reciprocate," the actor wrote on his Twitter page. "I am not sad. Just feel awful for Kolkata, most wonderful city and my sponsors. No promises anymore," he said. Shah Rukh said he would find a way to deal with the dejection. "I am off now to deal with disappointments in the way I know best. You find your poison. Unconditional apologies to all," he wrote.
"Supporters of KKR, we can say goodbye to IPL now. Better than last year is not good enough. Just disappointed, can't make any promises for future either, have lost the right," he wrote.
Jailed ULFA leader Rajkhowa can visit ailing mother: Gogoi
IANS, Guwahati, 14 April : The Assam government will have no objection in allowing jailed ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa to visit his ailing 90-year-old mother, especially with people celebrating Assamese New Year or Bohag Bihu, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Wednesday.
"I received a written appeal from Rajkhowa’s family to allow him to see his old mother during Bihu. We have absolutely no problems in allowing the ULFA chairman to go and meet his mother. But since he is in judicial custody, it depends on the court,” Gogoi told IANS. Rajkhowa, arrested in December last year, is in Guwahati jail. His mother Damayanti Rajkonwar is critically ill at their ancestral home in Lakwa in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district, about 380 km from here.
Nor’wester kills 4, including an sub inspector in Rangpur
Rangpur, 14 April : Four people, including an assistant sub inspector, were killed and five police constables injured in wall collapse during a nor’wester in Rangpur Tuesday night.
Locals said ASI Amir Hossain, died on the spot when a wall of a tin-shed building of Rangpur Police Line collapsed during the storm that lashed the district at about 11:00pm(BDST). Five constables were also injured during the nor’wester. They were rushed to Rangpur Medical College Hospital. The dead and the injured were receiving training at the police line. Two of Kaunia upazila were also killed in wall collapse during the storm that swept over eight upazilas of the district and destroyed about 1,000 dwellings and uprooted a number of trees. It also toppled a number of electric poles leaving people of the district without power since Tuesday midnight.
Elephants kill Union Parishad member in Bandarban
UNB, Bandarban, 14 April : A Union Parishad member was killed in an attack by a herd of wild elephants at Shanerdeba in Lama upazila of Bandarban early Wednesday.
The deceased was identified Mostafizur Rahman, a member of Fasiakhali Union. Police and locals said the elephants swooped on Mostafizur, also union Awami League president, at about 5:15am(BDST) while he was going to local mosque for saying Fajr prayers, killing him on the spot.
Rana Dasgupta wins Commonwealth prize
IANS, New Delhi, 14 April : Rana DasguptaThe spirit of India, myths, the lives of common people, tales of diverse cultures triumphed
triumphed in the world of Commonwealth literature on Monday, when Delhi-based writer Rana Dasgupta won the Commonwealth Writer's prize for the best book, Solo.
Solo is the tale of a Bulgarian centenarian, Ulrich a recluse who embarks on an epic armchair journey through a century of violent politics, forbidden music, lost love and failed chemistry. Glenda Guest of Australia won the prize for the best first book Siddon Rock, known for its rich cast of characters and a wonderful blend of everyday with fantasy. The prizes were given away by Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor at a ceremony in the capital's India International Centre. Addressing the ceremony, Tharoor said he was delighted that Delhi played host to the Commonwealth awards this year.
This is the first time the Commonwealth Writers' awards ceremony was being held in India, which will also host the Commonwealth Games in October. The awards carry a purse of 10,000 pounds and 5,000 pounds respectively.
"The awards are not a celebration of colonisation but a celebration of English as a language that binds us together," said the minister, a recipient of the Commonwealth best book prize 20 years ago.
Tripura minister flays V Narayanswami on MGNREGA
UNI, Agartala, 14 April : Tripura Rural Development Minister Jitendra Choudhury today flayed Union Minister of State for Programme Implementation V Narayanswami for his statement that the state government 'failed' to implement the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
Mr Choudhury told UNI that Tripura was not only the among the best performing states in this regard but also a topper perhaps.
Rufous-necked Laughingthrush in botanical hub after 12 yr
Dhaka, 14 April : A small band of Rufous-necked Laughingthrush has thrilled birdwatchers in the Botanical Garden at Mirpur recently. The birds briefly emerged out of thorn bush and rattan at the extreme end of the garden. They are shy birds of the eastern edge of Bangladesh and not expected to be seen in a crowded garden in Dhaka.
Laughingthrushes are not thrushes, but big babblers living in flocks and feeding in the leaf litters of the forests. Bangladesh has only five species of Laughingthrushes occurring mostly in the hill-forests of Chittagong and Sylhet divisions. The Rufous-necked Laughingthrush is the only one that occasionally ventures near human habitation and seen in tea gardens and village groves.
Birdwatchers once saw Rufous-necked Laughingthrush in the Botanic Garden 12 years ago. That unlikely event was explained by them as a momentary stopover of the birds somehow displaced from their conventional habitat. After seeing the birds there a second time, they are now prepared to consider Botanic Garden a Rufous-necked Laughingthrush habitat -- its only home in entire Dhaka division. Comilla is the nearest place where this bird is usually seen. Photo : Enam Ul Haque
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