Terror tactics target teachers
Raid takes lid off fake car oil slick
Steve sets April date with fans, students
A-to-Z guide for dollar tourists
Forensic lab hits govt wall
Fugitive father declared ‘offender’
5 jawans killed in Manipur
1 gunned down in Assam dist
Orissa Cong mulls action on dissidents
Green drive in Ranchi

Calcutta, April 6 
These are testing times for invigilators. Students are adopting terror tactics to silence vigilant teachers at examination halls in the city and the districts. Brandishing revolvers and knives, students writing examinations are striking fear into the hearts of invigilators who dare to take their job seriously.

Complaints are pouring in about teachers receiving threat calls from students before any examination begins.

Invigilators are warned of dire consequences if the examinees are not allowed to cheat.

Sometimes teachers, particularly the elderly ones, are insulted in public places if they object to examinees adopting unfair means. The complaints have come from most of the 6,500 Madhyamik schools in the state.

Last week, a teacher of a school at Bongaon, in North 24-Parganas, was stabbed by some friends of a Class IX student as he did not allow the examinee to cheat during his annuals.

A teacher of a school at Salkia, in Howrah, complained that last week, a Class IX student stopped him outside the school and asked him not to squeal if he found him copying during the next day’s exam.

A teacher of a Belghoria school had a similar experience last week, when he tried to stop a Class VIII student copying.

The various teachers’ associations have received many such complaints.

West Bengal Headmasters’ Association general secretary Prithwis Basu said this was happening in Calcutta and elsewhere in the state as well.

“Teachers are wary of performing invigilation duty because of constant threats from some students. Even when on duty, teachers look the other way if an examinee is caught in the act,” said Basu.

Basu said this unhealthy trend was bound to affect academic standards in the state.

Teachers of schools situated in the upmarket south Calcutta areas, such as Bhowanipore and Ballygunge, too have made similar complaints. Schools in Shyambazar and Kidderpore, too, are not immune.

Demanding proper security for teachers, the associations have decided to submit a memorandum to Kanti Biswas, state school education minister, soon.

It is not only the teachers’ organisations affiliated with anti-Left parties that have received such complaints.

The CPM-controlled organisation of secondary school teachers, All Bengal Teachers’ Association (ABTA), admitted on Thursday that they had received complaints on similar lines from their teacher members.

“We condemn the way innocent teachers are being terrorised and attacked for preventing examinees from adopting unfair means. To maintain discipline and academic standards invigilation is a must. We cannot stop invigilation,” stressed Adhikram Sanyal, general secretary of ABTA.

His association was planning to adopt measures to mobilise students against this trend, which would contribute to declining academic standards.

A leader of the teachers’ association affiliated with the CPI said that the increase in the burden of the syllabus along with constant pressure from guardians to do exceptionally well in the examinations were compelling students to adopt unfair means.

Ratan Laskar, a leader of the Secondary Teachers’ and Employees’ Association, an anti-CPM teachers’ body, said it would request the government to take necessary measures to check the menace.

A K Chakraborty, president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, admitted the existence of the menace.

“Since it is not possible to maintain a close a vigil on all the affiliated schools, the managing committees of the respective schools have been asked to look into the problem,” said the president.    

Calcutta, April 6 
Several hundred litres of fake engine oil and brake oil are being sold under the label of reputed brands from retail outlets in the city.

This was revealed by police officers who busted a spurious oil racket on Thursday. According to deputy commissioner of police, central, Raj Kanojia, officers of the Jorasanko police station sealed seven factories manufacturing spurious oil under popular brand names at Jeluatola, behind Mohammed Ali Park.

Kanojia said several hundred litres of fake engine oil and brake oil were seized and 15 persons arrested from the factories.

Police and transport department officials have warned motorists to be “extremely careful” while buying engine oil and brake oil from retail outlets.

The secretary-general of the Automobile Association of Eastern India, Kalyan Bhadra, said the use of spurious brake oil leads to wear and tear of engines and brakes. “It is very dangerous and the state government should continue the raids and close down all factories and shops which manufacture and sell fake engine oil and brake oil,’’ added Bhadra.

The popular brands of engine oil and brake oil include Servo, Sunoil, Lalghora, Milcy, etc. These are available from petrol pumps and locals shops.

“Several local shops sell popular brands at a much lower price than petrol pumps. So, it’s obviously not authentic stuff,” said Bhadra.

But it’s almost impossible for the motorist to make out the difference. “They are so neatly packed and sealed in boxes, looking just like the original, that it is not possible to make out the difference,’’ pointed out Bhadra.

Sources said police officers had been tipped off about some factories in Jeluatola manufacturing and marketing spurious oil.

Three officers, posing as customers, approached the factory owners and bought some tins of engine oil and brake oil. These were brought to Lalbazar, from where senior officials of Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum were contacted.

Officials of the oil companies inspected the containers, checked the quality of the oil, and informed the sleuths that these were all fake.

Kanojia said the “raids will continue” till the malpractice is stopped.    

Calcutta, April 6 
Come April 21 and the city’s schoolchildren can have a ball with contemporary cricket’s most successful skipper, Stephen Roger Waugh.

The Australian captain is flying into Calcutta from Johannesburg on April 19 to inaugurate the girls’ wing of Udayan, home for children of leprosy patients in Barrackpore.

He will spend a day with his young fans at the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club (CC&FC) on Friday, April 21, in a unique awareness-building and fund-raising programme.

Steve’s day out with school kids is being organised by the Calcutta Girls’ Foundation (CGF) in association with Altair Inc.

For a fee of Rs 200 each, the kids can get photographed with their hero and also procure his autograph. The snaps will be taken in groups of 30 and they will later be handed over to the respective schools.

Funds will also be raised through sale of T-shirts and caps autographed by Waugh on the club ground.

The proceeds will go to the CGF, which raises funds for Udayan and other such organisations.

A brainchild of Shamlu Dudeja, chairperson of the board of trustees, CGF, the CC&FC show will see the Aussie skipper featuring in group photographs and signing autographs for students.

The organisers are expecting a turnout of nearly 1,000 students. Eager students from about 40 leading schools are queuing up to fill up registration forms for the event.

“Steve is a name all children who play cricket, and even most of those who don’t, can relate to,” said Indrani Seth, one of the co-workers with CGF. “We are aiming to focus on his power of drawing children and use it for a noble cause.”

Druk, which had earlier come forward to revive inter-school athletics in the city earlier this year, will play a part in the Waugh show as well.

The cricketing icon will also have a heart-to-heart chat with the schoolchildren during the course of the day to try and create awareness among them about leprosy and dispel misconceptions about the disease.

“The idea is to establish some kind of bond between these children and their under-privileged brethren,” said Amit Sen of Altair, joint organiser of the event.

The CC&FC management and the club’s polo committee have agreed to put off the Merchants’ Cup cycle polo matches scheduled for the day to accommodate the Steve show.

A fund-raising dinner, called ‘U Nite with Steve’, has been organised on April 19 at a city hotel. The Australian skipper will auction cricket memorabilia brought from Down Under. On the 20th, Waugh will head for Udayan.    

Calcutta, April 6 
The National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (Natmo), a Central organisation, has started drawing up a comprehensive tourist map of the city, named Calcutta A to Z. Based on the London A to Z concept, the Calcutta map, being drawn up by Natmo’s cartographers, will be the second one of its kind in the country. The first one Natmo prepared was for Delhi. “We should be able to prepare the map by 2002,” said Natmo director Prithwis Nag. The comprehensive map is being prepared after the state realised that tourists search in vain for authentic information on the city.

Chief minister Jyoti Basu had first mooted the idea of such a map during a seminar in 1988. The map, to be published in book form, will cost Rs 3,000 per copy. It will be sold jointly by the CMC and Natmo.

“Ten cartographers have completed 80 per cent of the field work. After completion, the map will be sent to the defence department for its ‘no-objection’ certificate,” Nag added.

Other Natmo officials said the Calcutta A to Z map will be of great help to international tourists interested in historical places, important roads, buildings and other landmarks in and around Calcutta.

It will also come to the aid of scholars, university students and academicians engaged in carrying out a detailed study of the city.

Nag said in the London A to Z map, the city is divided into several zones and for each, there is a separate map.

The streets, buildings and landmarks have all been minutely indicated in each of these maps, which are interlinked. Depending on the acceptance of the Calcutta A to Z map, Natmo will prepare more such monographs on metros across the country.

Natmo has already published another map, Historical Atlas of the City and Environs. Its first edition was brought out in 1990 and the second in 1996.

Natmo cartographers have also designed a handy monograph tracing the fluctuating boundaries of India and administrative changes over four decades.

It will be of use to administrators, policy makers and history students.    

Calcutta, April 6 
If the future of criminal investigation lies in the advancement of forensic sciences, it’s high time the Left Front government snapped out of a time warp.

According to Dr R.K. Tewari, chief forensic scientist and director (forensic sciences) of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), ministry of home affairs, the condition of the state’s forensic laboratory “is just not up to the mark”.

In the city for the conclusion of the workshop on DNA profiling at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Tewari told The Telegraph: “The laboratory is low on manpower, equipment and facilities. What is needed is a change of attitude in government.”

“The state forensic laboratories in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are of a high standard. The West Bengal laboratory definitely leaves a lot to be desired,” he added. This is, indeed, ironic, as the first forensic application of fingerprinting has been traced back to Calcutta, and the city boasts of the oldest Central and state forensic laboratories in the country.

Judicial activism and the human rights movement have forced the police to turn to forensic science for “clinching evidence”. And unless the political establishment identifies forensic science “as a priority area, criminals will continue to escape punishment,” feels Tewari.

The five per cent conviction rate in rape cases tells part of the story. And this must be viewed in the context of less than 1 per cent of the police budget being spent on forensic sciences in several states, including West Bengal.

“There is a growing awareness among the judiciary and the police about the fact that forensic evidence is consistent and clinching. But government apathy continues,” complained Tewari.

The Calcutta-born forensic chief, who is playing “friend, philosopher and guide” to various state governments to raise the standard of forensic sciences throughout the country, is ready to reach out to the West Bengal government as well.

On the controversial Kashmir kidnap case, in which CFSL findings matching the bones with that of Briton Paul Wells have been challenged by recent tests run in the UK, Tewari said: “We have used the most modern technology of DNA matching. We are yet to receive any official word from the UK government, but we would encourage a joint probe into the matter.”    

Calcutta, April 6 
Manoj Sharma, wanted by the detective department over the past 14 months in connection with the murder of his eldest son in January last year, has been declared a “proclaimed offender”.

Sharma, a city-based businessman, took his sons, Mudit, 8, and Sumit, 6, to Victoria Memorial, where he met a woman. He and his lady friend then drove the children to a place near Kharagpur, where the kids were strangled and thrown out of the speeding car.

While Mudit died on the spot, Sumit survived and was spotted by locals, who handed him over to the police. The kid described the woman as “gandi auntie” and told the police the entire story. Next morning, the body of Mudit was found in a Maruti abandoned near the crossing of Park Street and Camac Street.

Detectives raided several hotels in the city and elsewhere, looking for Sharma and his female accomplice, but the duo managed to give the police the slip.

Deputy commissioner, detective department, Narayan Ghosh, said the court declared Sharma a “proclaimed offender” as he was evading the dragnet for a long time. His property will also be seized. The warrant of arrest has also been sent to police in other states,” Ghosh added.    

Imphal, April 6 
Five Border Security Force (BSF) personnel were killed and eight seriously injured when suspected valley insurgents ambushed their patrol near Likhai village in Manipur’s Churachandpur district this morning. The incident occurred when personnel of the 64 battalion were patrolling the Likhai area, five km from Singhat police station. Four personnel were killed on the spot while one died on the way to Imphal. The eight injured jawans, including assistant sub-inspector Rishikumar, are being treated at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences hospital here. Additional troops have been deployed in the area to launch a combing operation. No BSF officials were available for comments. Though no outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack, security agencies suspect the involvement of valley-based insurgents.

Dinner diplomacy

The dinner diplomacy held here tonight is likely to decide the fate of the month-old United Front of Manipur (UFM) coalition ministry, led by Wahergbam Nipamacha Singh. The existence of the UFM government and its major ruling partner, the Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP), has been threatened with Union minister of state for youth affairs and sports Thounoujam Chaoba Singh openly challenging Nipamacha Singh’s leadership. Sources said the chief minister’s camp is planning to initiate disciplinary action against the Union minister. The dinners were hosted by Speaker Sapam Dhananjoy, a Nipamacha loyalist, and state sports minister M. Hemanta Singh, believed to be Chaoba Singh’s supporter. Dhananjoy invited all the ruling legislators. While the Speaker’s dinner party was held for “entering his new official residence and felicitating the new deputy Speaker K. Raina,” Hemanta Singh’s party was hosted in honour of Chaoba Singh and some sports delegates from others states. A senior Cabinet minister in the UFM government told The Telegraph today that the dinner parties were a show of strength by the chief minister and the Union minister. Sources said Nipamacha Singh had instructed his loyalists not to attend Hemanta Singh’s dinner party. While the Union minister is camping here, the chief minister is in New Delhi trying to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee over the financial problems of the state. The senior Cabinet minister said the crisis in the MSCP seems to have reached a point of no-return with both camps gearing up for a showdown. Nipamacha Singh’s loyalists held a secret meeting at deputy chief minister L. Chandramani Singh’s house last night to discuss the present crisis. Unhappy over Chaoba Singh’s outbursts against the chief minister, the meeting discussed the possibility of taking disciplinary action against him.    

Jorhat, April 6 
Suspected Naga militants shot dead one Mohd. Amiruddin at Netaji Basti in the disputed ‘B’ sector of the Assam-Nagaland border in Golaghat district last night.

Sources said the militants barged into Amiruddin’s house and shot him from point blank range. He had protested against their demand for “tax”.

The militants killed two persons in the same area a couple of months ago.

In another incident, police recovered a Chinese-made revolver and four rounds of ammunition from two cyclists at Parghat area under Sarupathar police station today. Police claimed the two were Ulfa sympathisers.

Chargesheets filed: The state criminal investigation department has filed chargesheets against six police personnel in connection with a custodial death.

One Sariful Hussain, a scooter-thief, had drowned in a pond in August 1994 when a police team from Mariani in Jorhat district had made him “search” for a stolen scooter with handcuffs on. Hussain had stated that the vehicle was hidden in the pond.

A magisterial probe was conducted and the court ordered a CID probe into the incident. The state investigating department charged the then in-charge of Mariani police station, Kumud Chetia, assistant sub-inspector Phanidhar Bora and constables Shrinath Pathak, Ranjit Neog, Bhupen Bora and Nurul Hussain. Chetia is absconding.

Liquor deaths: Four persons of a family died after consuming spurious liquor in Golaghat district yesterday.

Khagen Nayak of Kuruabahi Rajgarh, his wives Budhi and Shela and mother Kamali fell ill after consuming hooch. They died on the way to hospital. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

Rights meet

The Northeast Co-ordination Committee on Human Rights is organising a Northeast convention on the proposed Criminal Law Amendment Bill and the growing use of anti-people laws by the state on May 16 at the Pandit Tirthanath Sarma Sabhaghar, Chandmari at 10 am. The convention will be inaugurated by Justice(retd) D.K.Basu of the Calcutta High Court, reports our Guwahati correspondent.

Census: The Centre has declared that the house-listing operation of the Census will be conducted from April 11 to September 30 in all the states and Union territories, according to a state government press release.    

Bhubaneswar, April 6 
The PCC disciplinary committee has proposed strong action against six office-bearers for alleged anti-party activities.

In a meeting last night, the committee, headed by former minister Kishore Patel, took exception to the leaders’ clamour for the resignation of PCC chief J.B. Patnaik following the party’s defeat in the Assembly elections. It censured them for accusing Patnaik of foisting Ramakant Mishra as the Congress Legislature Party leader.

The leaders include PCC vice-president Suryabhanu Mishra and state secretaries Sanata Das, Utkal Routray and Niranjan Sahu. They are close to former chief minister Hemanand Biswal, who is locked in a bitter power struggle with Patnaik. It is not clear whether the high command will allow the state unit to take action against the dissidents at a time when it is faced with a rebellion in the West Bengal unit.

The committee cleared general secretary Sitakanta Mishra after he wrote to Patnaik denying having spoken against him in public. It did not suggest any action against Biswal. Biswal, who is in New Delhi, met senior AICC officials yesterday over the authoritarian functioning of the PCC.    

Jamshedpur, April 6 
Union minister for forests and environment Babulal Marandi today said the government has introduced a special scheme of afforestation for the industrial cities of the country.

Proposals have been invited from various state pollution control boards for the afforestation project. The minister, who was on a visit to the city, said the pollution control boards would be responsible for implementing the project.

He said, “Trees will be planted in these cities to arrest pollution.” In Bihar, Ranchi is the only town which has been selected for the project.

Marandi lamented the lack of funds to meet afforestation targets in the country. He said the forest cover has dwindled from 35 per cent in 1980 to 19 per cent currently. Of this, dense forest accounted for only 11 per cent. The Centre also has plans to plant trees in nearly 62 million hectares of barren land in the country, he added.

Marandi today reiterated that the formation of a separate Vananchal state was almost certain. He said the Bill for a separate Vananchal state would be tabled in the next session of Parliament and the state would be formed this year itself.    


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