City source for baby racket
Basu set to resume work on Monday
Police in need of protection
Culture show at Kala Mandir
Cong heavyweight joins Mamata
Fair hand in Manipur blast
CBI files final chargesheet
Railways begin probe into mishap
Alarm over border drug trade

 
 
CITY SOURCE FOR BABY RACKET 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan 7 
Male babies are being smuggled out of the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) and sold to couples in different parts of West Bengal, says a CBI report.

Submitting an interim report to the Calcutta High Court on the infamous `baby swap case’ at CMCH, the CBI said it was probing a racket involving male babies in Durgapur, Burdwan, and other parts of the state.

In order to tie up the loose ends in the case, the CBI was granted three month’s time by a division Bench comprising Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice M.H.S. Ansari.

“We have full faith in the CBI and so we are giving them three more months to submit the final report on the baby-switch at the CMCH,” the judges said.

On May 27, Keya Bhattacharya had given birth to a male child at M.R. Bangur Hospital. As it was a premature birth and the hospital did not have an incubator, the infant was admitted to Eden Hospital, CMHC, while the mother returned to Bangur.

After being released on June 4, Keya went to CMCH where she was handed over a female baby by the nurses. She refused to accept the child, demanding the return of her her baby boy.

This prompted Keya’s husband Anup to file a habeas corpus demanding court intervention ordering the police to trace the male baby which had, allegedly, been “swapped” at CMCH.

Anup complained that though he had lodged an FIR with the Bowbazar police station, no action had been taken.

The High Court decided to hand over the case to the CBI in October, 1998, after the detective department of the city police confessed that it could not carry out investigations due to lack of infrastructure.

While investigating the case, two primary questions confronted the CBI. First, where is Keya’s son? Second, who are the parents of the unclaimed female baby?

The CBI contacted all women who had given birth at CMCH during that period in order to carry out DNA tests. But the DNA reports are yet to reach the CBI from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad.

The director of the Hyderabad centre has said that the tests could not be carried out as a machine was out of order. A new machine has been imported and it will take two to three more weeks to prepare the reports.

And while the mystery of the missing boy remains the centre of attention, the unclaimed female child is growing up at the CMCH .    


 
 
BASU SET TO RESUME WORK ON MONDAY 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Jan 7 
Chief minister Jyoti Basu, recuperating from a bad cold, is likely to resume work on Monday.

Officials said Basu might attend a programme at one of the chambers of commerce on the same day.

Cardiologist Dr A.K.Maity, who attended Basu twice on friday, said the chief minister was recovering fast. “Basu has come down with a severe cold and will be alright within a couple of days,” he said.

The 86-year-old chief minister contacted the chill after spending two evenings in the open while inaugurating the Banga Sammelan at Salt Lake stadium and an international information technology conference at Science City within the space of a week.

Basu’s son Chandan visited Indira Bhavan on Friday night to enquire about his father’s health. “Baba has no other problems now other than congestion in his chest,” he told The Telegraph.

However, the chief minister has cancelled all official engagements for the past two days. No visitors and officials were allowed to call on Basu during the day.

“Basu did not even receive any phone call during the day as he found it difficult to talk,” said an official on telephone duty at Indira Bhavan.

He called off his scheduled visit to Chennai on Thursday to attend the all India conference of the Students’ Federation of India.

He was advised “complete rest” before his visit to Delhi next week in connection with the CPM politburo meeting scheduled on January 13. For Basu, the politburo meeting is important as issues like inner-party democracy and modernising party programmes, which CPM rebels have raised, will be discussed there.

HC order on Rajarhat

The Green bench of Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the state housing board, environment department and the West bengal Pollution Control Board to file affidavits stating what steps they had taken to control the ecological balance at the township at Rajarhat.

The bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice S.K. Sen observed that the the departments and the pollution control board should act unitedly to monitor whether guidelines framed by the central pollution department were being implemented during construction.    


 
 
POLICE IN NEED OF PROTECTION 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, Jan 7 
There was serious trouble at Sonarpur on Friday, starting with an allegation of rape against a local doctor. Later, five policemen were injured and a police van damaged by a mob resisting police action in the area.

According to superintendent of police A .K.Maliwal, a woman who went for a check-up to a local doctor at Sahebpur, came out of the chamber and alleged that she had been raped by him.

Local youth immediately barged into the doctor’s chamber and started to beat him. When a team from Sonarpur police station reached the spot, an angry mob hurled bricks at them.

After things finally cooled down, the police arrested the doctor and sealed the chamber.

This comes close on the heels of the incident on Thursday night when deputy commissioner of police, traffic, K. Harirajan was assaulted by an ``unruly mob’’ on Jawaharlal Nehru Road in front Grand Hotel after he pulled up the driver of an ONGC vehicle for violating traffic rules.

While some people hurled stones at the cops, others, allegedly employees of a footwear firm, tried to drag Harirajan into the showroom.

“I somehow managed to free myself. If they could have pulled me inside and downed the shutters, I would have been cut off from my force,’’ said Harirajan.

Biswajit Sen, Sunil Roy Chowdhury and Sanatan Halder, charged with attempting to murder the police office, were produced in court on Friday and remanded to police custody for four days.

Agitators charged: Calcutta Police on Friday filed a report in the Bankshall Court against four office-bearers of the 12 July committee which had organised a public meeting on Chittaranjan Avenue, blocking the thoroughfare from 12 noon till 4 pm. The four functionaries were charged for obstructing carriageway, holding a public meeting without permission, and illegal use of microphones. The police had termed the meeting illegal as the organisers had not taken permission from the authorities.

Motorcycle gang busted: The police have busted a gang of motorcycle thieves by arresting five persons in the last few days. Twelve stolen motorcyles have been recovered. According to the deputy commissioner, detective department, Narayan Ghosh, the five culprits were closely connected with senior officials at the Regional Transport Authority, Alipore. They changed the registration numbers with the help of these unscrupulous officials.

Train dacoity: Three persons were seriously injured when four dacoits hurled bombs in a Diamond Harbour local train near Dewlti. Police said that the dacoits threw the bombs after some people tried to stop them from looting the passengers. While one gang member was nabbed by some passengers, the other three escaped with the booty.    


 
 
CULTURE SHOW AT KALA MANDIR 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Jan 7 
Satrangi Jhankar 2000, a cultural extravaganza organised by the Calcutta chapter of the Akhil Bharatiya Maheswari Mahila Samity, got off to a colourful start on Friday.

Attended by many among the 20,000 Maheswari Marwaris of the city, and some 600 members from all over the country, the three-day meet at Kala Mandir will witness song-and-dance performances, speech competitions and other programmes.

“For me, the message of the meet is progress, the fact that the next generation is better than ours,” Dr Sarla Devi Birla, who lit the ceremonial lamp, told The Telegraph.

According to Alka Bangar, one of the inspirations behind the programme, the function symbolised “unity within the community”.

The Maheswari Mahila Samity, formed in 1972, deliberately chose the city of its birth for Satrangi Jhankar 2000. “This historic meet will set the tone for the new millennium,” said Suraj Devi Laddha, chairperson of the welcome committee.

University agitation: Normal functioning of Rabindra Bharati University was disrupted for the fifth consecutive day on Friday due to a demonstration by the Citu-affiliated employees’ union. A senior official said administrative work has been severely affected as the agitating employees have not allowed any of the officers to use office vehicles for going out of the campus.    


 
 
CONG HEAVYWEIGHT JOINS MAMATA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Jan 7 
Three weeks after replacing the Congress as the principal opposition in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), the Trinamul Congress on Friday roped in Pradip Ghosh, heavyweight Congress councillor from central Calcutta and former Leader of the Opposition.

“I will formally join Trinamul next week. Mamata Banerjee (the Trinamul chief) is the only anti-CPM force in West Bengal....The present state Congress has lost the support of the people,” Ghosh said. Many party activists from central Calcutta would also join Trinamul, he added.

With the civic polls four months away, Mamata Banerjee has instructed her lieutenants, Subrata Mukherjee and Jayanta Bhattacharya, to contact as many Congress councillors as possible and persuade them to join Trinamul.

Congress heavyweight, Rajiv Deb, was spotted having a talking to Mamata at an iftar party in Topsia on Thursday. Sources said Deb is the next target of the Trinamul.

“Till now, I am with the Congress. All I can say is that the party will have to launch effective anti-CPM movements which it has failed to do. People are losing faith in the party,” Deb said.

The Trinamul has 37 councillors, the Congress, 29. “It appears that the Congress will find it difficult to field competent candidates in all the 141 wards,” Ghosh said.

Ghosh’s entry has fuelled speculation on whether he would be projected as Trinamul’s mayor for the elections. But party spokesman Jayanta Bhattacharya said that Ghosh’s entry did not necessarily mean that he would be retained as the Leader of the Opposition.

He hinted that Ghosh might be fielded against the former PCC chief and MLA from Sealdah, Some Mitra, in the Assembly elections due in 2001.

Resentment against the state Congress leadership has come into the open after the party lost the status of the principal opposition in the CMC.

Observers said the failure of the Congress to organise anti-CPM movements and cash in on national issues has led to widespread bitterness among the rank-and-file.

“The state Congress failed to organise any programme to mark the Babri Mosque demolition day on December 6. But the Trinamul held an impressive function at the Muslim Institute to observe the day as Black Day...What kind of a secular party is Congress then?” a party leader asked.

Bhattacharya ruled out a pact with the Congress in the civic polls. “We will field candidates in most of the wards. A few wards in Burrabazar and Calcutta North-East Lok Sabha constituency will be left to our ally, the BJP,” he added.

Akali Dal alliance offer

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) would like to tie up with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress for the Calcutta Municipal Corporation elections in May, Onkar Singh Thapar, the party’s all India general secretary, said on Friday.    


 
 
FAIR HAND IN MANIPUR BLAST 
 
 
FROM OINAM SUNIL
 
Imphal, Jan. 7 
The women’s wing of the banned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was behind yesterday’s bomb attack on Assam Rifles in Imphal East district.

Seven Assam Rifles personnel were killed and 10 more seriously injured when three PLA women guerrillas blasted two improvised explosive devices simultaneously when the Assam Rifles convoy was crossing the Pungdongbam-Etam bridge on the Imphal-Ukhrul road.

The blast was so powerful that the truck in which the soldiers were travelling was damaged beyond repair. Twelve weapons, including 10 self-loading rifles and two carbines along with 50 magazines were also destroyed.

A spokesperson for the PLA’s women’s wing has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the explosive was planted and detonated by a “bomb squad”.

Assam Rifles officials here also confirmed the involvement of the women militants.

They said three women had detonated the improvised explosive device from behind a school building. They were also seen escaping after the blast, the officials added. It was the most successful campaign for the militant oufit’s women’s wing and the third major operation in the past few years.

Earlier, the women activists had snatched arms from security guards of a nationalised bank at Kakching in Thoubal district in 1998. A PLA woman cadre was also killed in the Imphal East district in 1998 when a bomb she was handling exploded because of a technical snag.

In a follow-up action, Assam Rifles troops launched a series of search operations today in several parts of Imphal East and West districts. Some suspects have been rounded up for interrogation, Assam Rifles sources said.

Talking to The Telegraph today, Col. Amulya Mohan of Assam Rifles said the condition of the injured jawans, except one, was stable. He said the post mortem of the soldiers was completed today and the bodies will be sent to their native places tomorrow. The seven slain personnel have been identified as havildar D.K. Maiti (West Bengal), riflemen Harish Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Suva Singh (Rajasthan), Radheyshyam Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) and Jagdish.

Nipamacha stand

Reacting strongly to the report that the Assam government has taken steps to recognise Bishnupriya language as “Bishnupriya Manipuri”, Manipur chief minister W. Nipamacha Singh has said the good relations between the two states may end if the reports were true.

In a letter to Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Nipamacha Singh yesterday urged him not to take any hasty step on the matter as five special leave petitions were pending before the Supreme Court.

The five petitions have challenged the Assam and Tripura governments’ decisions to recognise Bishnupriya language using “Manipuri” as either prefix or suffix.

Controversy over Bishnupriya language erupted again after Assam education minister Thaneswar Boro directed his department to prepare text books for teaching “Bishnupriya Manipuri” language in 102 schools in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts with effect from January 12, 2000.

Nipamacha Singh told Mahanta that the people of Manipur do not object to teaching of “Bishnupriya” language in schools in Assam.

But, he said, Manipur has serious objections to recognising the language as “Bishnupriya Manipuri”.

Saying Bishnupriyas and Manipuris were different languages, the Manipur chief minister urged Mahanta not to succumb to the pressure of biased and politically-motivated people.

He said the Manipuri language was included in the eighth schedule of the Constitution like Assamese and alleged that the Bishnupriyas were trying to dilute the distinct identity of Manipuris for their personal gain.

Though the Assam government had taken a decision on May 25 to recognise the language as “Bishnupriya Manipuri”, the implementation was deferred in July following an agitation by Manipuri students based in different states of the Northeast. But the Assam education minister’s statement added fuel to fire.

The Manipuri students are now up in arms against the Assam government’s latest decision. With Manipur Assembly elections round the corner, Nipamacha Singh cannot afford to take a soft stance on the issue.

Boycott call: The All-Manipur Students’ Union (Amsu) will launch an indefinite class boycott agitation from January 15 in protest against the non-release of arrested Amsu leaders. This was stated here today by Amsu leader L. Manileima Chanu, adds PTI.    


 
 
CBI FILES FINAL CHARGESHEET 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Patna, Jan. 7 
The CBI today said new evidence against the accused would strengthen the multicrore fodder scam case.

This includes the action taken report by the Income Tax department, recovery of Rs 260 crore and the CBI’s own seizure, which would be presented in court as “physical evidence” of the wealth amassed by the animal husbandry scamsters.

In view of the new evidence, the CBI yesterday incorporated names of more accused persons in three cases and filed “final” chargesheets against them. The three cases are among the 70-odd ones relating to fraudulent withdrawal of funds from the animal husbandry department between 1990 and 1995 which the CBI is investigating.

The investigating agency had earlier filed an interim chargesheet against some officers of the animal husbandry department in the three cases.

But former chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav does not figure in any of them.

In the first of the three cases, RC-33A-96, in which Rs 36 lakh was siphoned off from the Godda treasury, the CBI had earlier filed chargesheets against 12 people. The chargesheet filed yesterday mentioned three other names.

In the second case, in which Rs 20.5 lakh had been withdrawn illegally from the Hazaribagh treasury, six new names have been added to the list of nine persons named in the previous chargesheet.

The new names are those of suppliers and employees of the state government.

In the third chargesheet which relates to yet another case of embezzlement in Hazaribagh, involving defalcation of Rs 25 lakh, the CBI has added six more names to the list of 30-odd accused persons already facing trial.

“The charges are the same. The fresh list of recipients and suppliers have broadened the nature of the case. This has unearthed how an organised group of persons was embezzling animal husbandry funds silently,” said a CBI officer.    


 
 
RAILWAYS BEGIN PROBE INTO MISHAP 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Dhanbad, Jan. 7 
Railway safety commissioner (eastern region) Harish Chandra Singh has begun an independent inquiry into the factors leading to Friday’s collision between two trains near here. The Howrah-bound Mumbai-Howrah Mail collided with a stationary goods train between Gajhandi and Koderma stations.

The railway safety commissioner, accompanied by senior technical experts from the Eastern Railway headquarters at Calcutta, visited the accident site which comes under the grand chord section of the Dhanbad division of Eastern Railway.

The Mumbai Mail driver S.K. Singh was killed while the assistant driver of the Mail and the guard of the goods train were injured in the mishap. The accident, according to railway sources, occurred after “the driver overlooked the signal” and rammed into the goods train.

The sources said the passengers of Mumbai Mail had a miraculous escape as the train was travelling at slow speed. The railway authorities are yet to issue any official statement in connection with the incident although seven days have already passed.

The sources indicated that a reason for the accident could have been that the signal lights were not changed in time by the cabin staff.

“It is too early to comment since the railway safety commissioner is already inquiring into the matter,” a railway official said. Singh recorded the statements of the railway officials and employees who were in charge at the time of the incident.    


 
 
ALARM OVER BORDER DRUG TRADE 
 
 
FROM LINDA C.
 
Shillong, Jan. 7 
An intelligence report by the Mizoram Excise department has expressed concern over the mushrooming of heroin refineries and amphetamine laboratories in Myanmar. The country shares an international border with four of the seven northeastern states.

The report has also warned that drugs inflow into the region may increase if preventive measures are not taken immediately.

The shift from manufacturing heroin to the production of amphetamines or “speed pills” could spell disaster for the youth of the region, already deep into drugs, the report said.

The drug syndicates have also set up heroin refineries and speed pill laboratories in Tiddim and Kalaymyo townships and the Naga Hills of Sagaing division in Chin state, the report said. The newly-acquired mobile heroin distilling units have only added to the menace.

The seizure of a large quantity of ephedrine which was being smuggled into Myanmar also confirms the existence of a large number of drug producing laboratories in that country, it added.

The report accused the Myanmarese Army of colluding with the traffickers. “The United Wa State Army, largest producer of drugs in the Golden Triangle, has the firm backing of the Myanmarese Army. The United Wa State Army is responsible for producing the speed pills along the Indo-Myanmar and Thai-Myanmar borders. More than 300 million amphetamine tablets are manufactured annually in the areas under its control,” the report said.

The Myanmarese forces also escort consignments to the border areas, namely, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, the report added.

Excise sources said they could not keep silent over the findings as Mizoram shares a 404-km border with Myanmar while Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share a total of 1,000 km, making them natural conduits for the drug trafficking.

The heroin is refined and finally despatched through the forests to the northeastern states by drug syndicates run by militant groups of Myanmar.

Indo-Myanmar talks

The Indo-Myanmar talks got underway under heavy security here today. The Army-to-Army talks on co-operation on training and border management began immediately after breakfast at the 101 Army area while the civilian talks on trade and commerce began at 3.30 pm at Hotel Polo Towers here.

Both countries said they would not allow any insurgent camps and anti-government activists on each other’s soil. The Union trade and commerce minister, Union power minister and other officials, however, refused to brief the Press on the outcome of the talks. Unofficial sources said the Indian Army and the Myanmarese armed forces will soon start a training exchange programme of Army officials.    

 

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