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Hill special for Queen’s baton

Darjeeling, July 2: Hill flavour will mark the welcome ceremony of Queen’s Baton in Darjeeling with all the programmes lined up for the day smacking of traditions associated with the communities living here.

The baton will be received at Rangpo (Sikkim-Bengal border) on July 18 after which it will be brought in a convoy till Chitray in Kalimpong subdivision. Well-known sports personalities will run for a kilometre with the baton from Chitray to Teesta Bazar from where it will be brought to Batasia.

“Members of different communities like the Tamangs, Rais and the Sherpas in their traditional dresses will line up from Teesta to Batasia. Welcome arches will be erected all along the route,” said Pasang Bal, the district information and culture officer.

A 6-km marathon from Batasia will end at Gymkhana Club in Darjeeling where a cultural programme showcasing the traditional dances — like snow lion and yak dances — will be organised from 6pm. “Darjeeling hills is a melting pot of all communities and this aspect will be displayed. Only traditional songs and dances will be performed during the function,” said Bal.

The baton was initially scheduled to reach Darjeeling on July 17 and was supposed to leave for Guwahati the next day. “However, there has been a change of plan and the baton will be kept in Siliguri on July 19 before it flies off the next day,” the official added.

Kurseong will also have its tryst with the historic event as a marathon run is being planned from the tourist lodge there to the railway station. A list of sportspersons who will be allowed to “touch” the baton has already been sent to the organisers of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and a final list is expected soon.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has promised to ensure that the Queen’s Baton relay is a smooth affair. This means that agitation like closure of government offices is being ruled out till July 19.

The relay was flagged off from Buckingham Palace in the presence of President Pratibha Patil on October 29 to mark the curtain raiser for the Commonwealth Games.

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