Murder triggers cry for police chief’s scalp
Mission homes for families in slum
Slow and fat rule the Calcutta Police force
Golfer waves magic club
Trinamul, BJP rift widens
Plan for power from garbage
Women’s panel to file rape report
Sangma hopes for a foothold in heartland

Calcutta, Jan. 23 
A section of the CPM leadership has mounted pressure on the government to sack the Calcutta Police commissioner, Dinesh Vajpai, and the state director general of police, Dipak Sanyal, and revamp the law and order enforcing machinery in the wake of Gurupada Bagchi’s killing in Kasba on Sunday.

Rabin Deb, the CPM MLA from Ballygunge in whose constituency Bagchi was killed, led the campaign against Vajpai and Sanyal. He charged them of being lax in policing the Kasba-Tiljala area.

Deb claimed that both Vajpai and Sanyal were given a list of criminals last May. In a meeting with the state police minister during which the list was given,Deb said he had also pleaded for a drive against anti socials. But nothing had been done.

“If the former city police commissioner B.K.Saha was removed for being called Sahada by an anti-social at the Keoratala burning ghat during Satyajit Ray’s funeral, then why no action should be taken against Vajpai and Sanyal for hobnobbing with criminals,” Deb wondered aloud on Sunday. “The two police chiefs are responsible for the spurt in political murders in the city and elsewhere in the districts,” he alleged.

Deb also targeted senior IPS officers who, he charged, were not motivated enough to keep crime in check. He said a delegation of CPM leaders will meet Chief Minister Jyoti Basu on Monday and brief him on “the failures of the police”.

Basu told The Telegraph on Sunday night that he had been briefed on the Kasba incident. “This is definitely the handiwork of anti-socials,” he said, adding that the CID is probing whether the killers had the backing of the Trinamul Congress.

Senior police officers, however, refused to wilt under pressure from a section of the CPM and insinuated that the police is being made a scapegoat to divert public attention from the intra-CPM feuds.

On Sunday itself, it was evident that there were sharp differences in the CPM. While Rabin Deb and local leaders were severely critical of the police, CPM politburo member Biman Bose claimed that the police was doing its best “in accordance with the prevailing law.”

But in Kasba, local CPM councillor Keya Dasgupta who filed an FIR on Bagchi’s murder, alleged that the police was inactive even after knowing that “Bagchi’s killing was masterminded by the Trinamul Congress-backed criminal Tarak Halder”.

There was an earlier attempt on Bagchi’s life in October last year on Bijon Setu. A complaint had been lodged with the Kasba police then too. In May 1999, another CPM functionary who was also a real estate developer, Chinmoy Hajra, was shot dead near the Kankulia railway gate, not far from where Bagchi was killed on Sunday.

DIG, CID, Partha Bhattacharya who visited the Kasba areas to assess the situation spoke to local CPM leaders and some of the family members of the deceased.

One police source said among those close to Bagchi was Triloki Nath Shaw. There have been allegations of extortion against Shaw who is said to be influential with the fish traders and rice sellers at Chaulpatti in the Kasba market.

The Kasba fish market is the principal centre in south Calcutta for off-loading of supplies from South Bengal.

The police source alleged Shaw and his accomplices were patronised by Bagchi. They forcibly extorted “donations” from fish traders and rice sellers for the party. One line of investigation the police is pursuing is the possibility that Shaw’s growing clout infuriated Tarak Halder who himself used to be close to the party.

Halder was arrested last year on charges of murder and was released recently. He might have associated with political rivals of Bagchi since his release.

A theory doing the rounds in local CPM circles is that Bagchi, despite having a clean image, was a victim of intra-party rivalry. A section of CPM leaders, led by the late Sachin Sen’s followers in Kumarpara area, was opposed to Bagchi and his patronage of Shaw. They had even reportedly warned Bagchi against associating with Shaw too closely.

Local MLA Deb along with Tapas Bose and state environment minister Manab Mukherjee were learnt to have opposed Bagchi’s recent activities.

Some CPM insiders also wondered how Bagchi, an upper division clerk in the Higher Secondary Council, enjoyed the sort of clout he did.    

Calcutta, Jan. 23 

The 68-year-old Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan is rehabilitating an entire slum which is home to 74 families comprising at least 500 people.

The project was conceived in 1979 after the government won a case in the high court over the acquisition of 14 cottah adjacent to the hospital premises. The slum has been in existence since 1930.

In the mid-Sixties, the Mission had requested the state government to help it acquire the plot at 14/4, Grove Lane. Its entrance is from Hazra Road. The land was required to set up larger outdoor and other facilities. Three lakh patients, many of whom are treated free, visit the outdoor department annually.

The Pratishthan is already a medical institution with a 550-bed general hospital, a school of nursing, a post-graduate medical college and research centre.

According to slum dwellers, the government offered around Rs 50,000 for each family that would be displaced. “But we did not agree as that amount would not get us any suitable accommodation,” said their representative Mohan Chandra Das. A case was then initiated.

Though the court ruling was in the government’s favour it held that the displaced persons would have to be suitably rehabilitated. Because of the government’s delay, the Mission itself offered to build an alternative home for the 74 families.

In 1982, the Mission was gifted 26 cottah at Bagmari near Maniktala by Nalini Ranjan Banerjee. This land too was also under litigation after its caretaker started a case two years later claiming he was the owner.

This case was disposed of in 1997 in favour of the Mission and the caretaker was given four cottahs from it, a Pratishthan spokesman said.

“We took the last two years to persuade the 74 families to shift to Bagmari,” the spokesman added. They will get 330 built up square feet, comprising a multipurpose room, a bedroom, a kitchen and a toilet each. Plus a small balcony. At Hazra, they have 120 sq ft each, and common toilets.

The foundation stone of the rehabilitation project was laid on December 29. Construction of the three blocks is scheduled to start this week. It will cost the Mission Rs 1.25 crore.

By the time it is complete within two year’s time, this amount is likely to increase to Rs 1.5 crore. The government has granted 100 per cent income tax exemption on all donations to the Mission for the project.

Swami dies

Swami Arupanandaji Maharaj, president of Bharat Sevashram Sangha died today. He was 93. He was general secretary of the Sangha from March 1995 and was promoted to the president from May 1, 1999. Prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and railway minister Mamata Banerjee expressed deep sorrow.    

Calcutta, Jan. 23 

Height: 5 ft 6 inches

Weight: 54 kgs

Chest expansion: 31 to 33 inches

Policemen in Calcutta don’t need to be any taller, heavier or slimmer, bigger of heart than the average Indian male.

But a survey carried by Calcutta Police has revealed that policemen here are not even living up to these not very exacting standards. More, the survey shows the city’s policemen are among the most unfit in the country.

The majority of the 26,000 officers on the city’s police rolls have never undergone physical training after joining service.

Sources said deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who is also in charge of police, recently asked police chief D.C. Vajpai to submit a report after publicly proclaiming that most officers were “unfit”.

An enraged Bhattacharya asked Vajpai to open gymnasia in every city police unit. The government has also kicked off a series of championships — in bodybuilding, powerlifting and rugby — to whip policemen into shape.

When they join the force, this is what they are expected to be able to do:

Run 100 metres in 14 seconds

800 metres in 2 min. 50 sec

Clear 15 feet in long jump

They are also expected to keep up to this level in service, said Kiriti Sengupta, joint commissioner of police. For an idea of the physical fitness some of them actually maintain, look at the accompanying picture of the policeman waiting expectantly.

The fitness level came up for scrutiny at the recently-held annual sports meet. Allauddin Sheikh did 100 metres in 11.3 seconds and Jinatara Khatun in 13.5 seconds. But, according to statistics available with deputy commissioner, armed police’s office, only about 15 police personnel were in serious competition, the rest were in the “gasping-for-breath” race.

Sengupta said every year policemen from different police stations are sent to the training school by rotation for two months.

“A vast majority cut corners and report sick,” an officer overseeing training said.

Five policemen, asked about in-service training, said they had never attended any such course in their 15 years with Calcutta Police.

Senior officers claimed that “policemen cannot be spared for training programmes as they are required for law and order duties.’’

But officers in charge of training said the argument does not hold water as policemen are given individual training charts. “They have to devote half an hour every morning to these exercises,” the officer said.    

Calcutta, Jan. 23 
Legs splayed wide apart, resembling a gymnast rather than a golfer on the greens, Kevin Compare coolly tees off with a 220-yard drive.

“He’s amazing,” exclaims Governor Viren Shah, as a roar of approval rises from the lawns on the final day of the three-day Wills Tolly Cup.

”The main problem with golf is that it seems to be a game where people hit the ball and then go walking around looking for it so that they can hit it again. To make it more exciting, golfers must have better technique and they must learn to have fun,” says the head instructor at the Professional Golfers’s Association (PGA) Tour Learning School, Florida.

That is the message the leading ‘trick-shot’ artist in the world carries around the top tourneys on the PGA tour, and to other golf centres around the globe.

When the ‘coach-cum-clown’ was first approached to perform in the city, Kevin’s instant reaction was: “Do they really play and follow golf in India?”

By the afternoon of January 23, he has been bowled over by the “appreciative and attractive Calcutta audience”.

Cheered on by the Governor, business barons, corporate captains, ex-cricket stars, socialites, and an army of kids, the American pro transforms golfing lessons into a fun-filled exhibition of technical tips through terrific tricks.

On his first trip to Asia, the 42-year-old PGA tour professional divides his routine into two sections: “Kevin the pro”, and “Divot (a clump of earth and grass raised by a `false’ shot) the clown”. Both geared towards “hitting your best shot with maximum ease” and “having a ball on the greens”.

“I have never seen anything like this. This man can do whatever he wants with that golf club in his hands,” Karsan Ghavri tells Gundappa Vishwanath, who is limping across the greens, blisters on golfing feet.

Kevin, who has been hopping around with his show since 1990, idolises golfing legend Arnold Palmer, but is quick to point out that Tiger Woods’ impact on the game in America and the world has been “the outstanding golfing phenomenon of our times”.

Having hosted shows with the likes of Palmer, Woods and Greg Norman, Kevin wants to keep on entertaining people, especially children, with the “game of a lifetime, one you can play forerever”,

“Golf not only teaches kids a sport, it also reinforces values like honesty. So, the greatest reward for me is the smile on the faces of kids,” says the father of two.

Going by the excitement he generated among kids in a corner of Calcutta this sun-soaked winter afternoon, Kevin `the Incomparable’ indeed well rewarded on his first visit to this part of the world.    

Calcutta, Jan. 23 

The rift between the Trinamul Congress and the BJP’s West Bengal unit widened on Sunday with the latter claiming one-third of the total seats for the civic polls due in May.

Representatives of both the parties met on Sunday morning to iron out differences over seat-sharing, but only in vain. The BJP staked its claim to nearly 50 of the 141 seats.

Undeterred, Trinamul functionaries said the party would not concede the BJP’s demand. They said the party would put up nominees for most of the 141 CMC wards for the elections.

“The final decision is left with Mamata Banerjee who arrives here tonight,” said Trinamul spokesman Jayanta Bhattacharya. Mamata, who is scheduled to stay on in Calcutta on Monday, may hold discussions with Jayanta. The latter said the selection of candidates for the February 17 by-elections to the three Assembly segments too figured in Sunday’s discussion. It was decided that the party would forego the Nabagram Assembly seat in favour of the BJP but will put up its nominees for the Suri and Binpur (Scheduled Castes) Assemblies, respectively.

Taking its cue from the Trinamul, the Congress on Sunday finalised its candidates for the by-elections. PCC spokesman Sougata Roy said the party would contest the Nabagram and Suri seats, respectively, but would forego the Binpur seat in favour of the Jharkhand party. While the Congress chairman of Suri Municipality Jaharlal Mishra will stand from Suri, Shyamal Roy will do so from Nabagram.    

Calcutta, Jan. 23 

Decks are being cleared for setting up a garbage-fed 50-MW power plant in the city with Canadian technology.

At a recent meeting involving power minister Mrinal Banerjee, mayor Prasanta Chatterjee, municipal commissioner Asim Barman, and representatives of the pollution control board (PCB) and the state electricity board (SEB), it was decided that Teecom Systems Incorporated would be invited to set up a 5-MW pilot project plant at Dhapa.

The estimated cost of the project, financed by the Canadian firm, is US $ 190 million (Rs 700 crore). The plant will consume 1500 tons of garbage daily to churn out 50 MW of electricity.

Member, mayor-in-council (conservancy) Kanti Ganguly, said Telecom has demanded Rs 2.80 per unit of electricity.    

Agartala, Jan. 23 
The Tripura Women’s Commission is preparing a report on the rape of several Muslim women by National Liberation Front of Tripura militants at Raiabari village in Udaipur subdivision recently.

The commission has convened a meeting here tomorrow to finalise the report. It will be submitted to the Left Front government within a week.

Sources in the commission said a delegation comprising Manjulika Basu, Meenakshi Sau and Indubala Das visited Raiabari village yesterday and spoke to one of the rape victims who filed an FIR at the Killa police station.

The majority of the victims have declined to file complaints with the police fearing reprisal.

Three NLFT militants — identified as Halflong Jamatya, Chholagaji Jamatya and Ajurai Jamatya — allegedly raped several women in the village earlier this month. Halflong Jamatya was shot dead by security forces on Friday.

One of the first people to raise the issue was Congress legislator and PCC general secretary Jawahar Saha. In a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Saha said similar incidents would take place elsewhere in the state if the Centre did not take steps immediately. He also demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.

Tripura director-general of police K.T.D. Singh later confirmed the rape of three women.

In a statement here, the DGP said the police came to know about the incident on January 13. He said Manashrai Debbarma, officer-in-charge of the Killa police station, was immediately directed to conduct an inquiry.

6 abducted

Militants abducted six persons from different parts of Tripura yesterday, reports UNI.

The police said here today that the militants abducted three persons from Takarjala in West Tripura, two from Baikhora and another from Taidu in South Tripura. A search has been launched to rescue the hostages.

State govt plea: Tripura government has urged the Centre to pursue Bangladesh to root out outfits like the NLFT and the All-Tripura Tiger Force from that country, reports UNI. It also suggested that a joint operation be conducted by both the countries to demolish their bases.    

Porba (Nagaland), Jan. 23 
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary Purno A. Sangma has predicted a hung Assembly in Manipur after the polls. He said his party would a play a decisive role in the post-poll political scenario. “It is too early to say how many seats the NCP will bag but our party will definitely play a major role in Manipur,’’ Sangma said at a press conference in Phek district. The former Lok Sabha Speaker said voters in Manipur were confused. “No party will get a simple majority in the 60-member House,’’ Sangma said. He said both the Congress and the Manipur People’s Party were divided houses and the Manipur State Congress (MSCP) was losing ground. The BJP was not a force to reckon with, he added. On the other hand, the NCP, which was recognised by the Election Commission within 100 days of its formation, was generating enthusiasm among the youth, he said. The party has so far finalised the list of candidates for 20 Assembly segments for the February 12 and February 22 elections in the state. It is likely to contest another 10 seats, he said. According to Sangma, his party wanted to consolidate base in north India and has taken the polls in Bihar “very seriously.’’ The party will contest 50 to 70 seats in Bihar on its own. Sangma said his party was trying to woo students, youth, women and intellectuals into its fold so that “it could emerge as the third alternative to the BJP and the Congress.’’ “We are not in a rush. We are going steady in the Northeast. But our immediate target is Assam where Assembly polls will be held next year,’’ Sangma said. “Foraying into the Hindi heartland and acquiring a foothold is a big task for us,’’ the NCP leader said. Sangma was here to inaugurate the 53rd session of the Chakesang Students’ Union. He urged the students to inculcate the competitive spirit as the quota system was becoming “irrelevant’’ in the present economic scenario. Sangma regretted that students of the region were complacent and were content with the “job reservation’’ system. He urged the state government to draw up a job-oriented curriculum with emphasis on vocational training. He also called upon the people of the Northeast to change their mindset and work for peace and development.    

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