Mahajot trio in joint march to Governor
Motorcycle lifters in police dragnet
Digha train in March
Waste processing project
CBI to probe killing of Bihar leader

 
 
MAHAJOT TRIO IN JOINT MARCH TO GOVERNOR 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, April 15 
Mamata Banerjee’s proposed Mahajot against the ruling Marxists has taken a concrete shape with the Trinamul Congress, Congress and the BJP deciding to jointly meet Governor Viren J. Shah on Wednesday to complain about law and order problems in the state.

Leaders of the three parties will also visit the areas where their workers fell victim to CPM’s political violence.

It has been decided that sitting municipal commissioners of the respective parties will be re-nominated for the coming polls in May and discussions will be held to field “common candidates” against the CPM in the rest of the seats.

The policy-making body of Trinamul Congress, which met here on Saturday to frame guidelines for the party’s electoral alliance with the Congress and the BJP, welcomed the BJP national executive’s endorsement of its decision to forge an anti-CPM Mahajot.

Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee will meet state congress president A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury before her departure for Delhi on Sunday to discuss the proposed grand alliance.

Chowdhury too gave his green signal to an adjustment with the BJP during the day, saying: “Nobody is untouchable in politics, there is no last word in politics.”

Chowdhury reiterated that he has decided to join the grand alliance after the high command permitted him to hold talks with Mamata Banerjee to fight the CPM.

Asked if he would quit the party if the high command did not approve even an indirect adjustment with the BJP in Bengal, he said: “No one will leave the party unless he is driven out. No Congress legislator will quit the party unless he is forced to do so.”

Chowdhury made it clear that his decision to join the Mahajot is final. “We will shortly launch a joint movement with Trinamul Congress against the CPM’s misrule,” he said.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting of the party’s policy-making body, Trinamul chairman Pankaj Banerjee said: “We hope that we will be able to put up 1:1 candidate against the CPM in the municipal, civic and Assembly polls.”

Banerjee said the party will launch a sustained agitation against the CPM all over the state from Wednesday when hundreds of party workers will resort to law-violation in the city.

“The CPM cadre are indiscriminately killing our workers in the districts and trying to implicate them in false cases. We have, therefore, decided to start a vigorous movement against the ruling Marxists now that examinations are over,” he observed.

Besides Mamata, the meeting was attended by Ajit Panja, Union minister of state for external affairs, and six party MPs and three MLAs. The newly elected Rajya Sabha member, Jayanta Bhattacharya, was also present.    


 
 
MOTORCYCLE LIFTERS IN POLICE DRAGNET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 15 
Police on Saturday busted a gang of motorcycle lifters who had stolen more than 50 two-wheelers from the city and smuggled them to Khustia district in Bangladesh through Bongaon.

Police said the chance arrest of the kingpins, Arshad Mullah and Khalique Mondal, led to information about the gang. Deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda said a team has left for Bongaon. The police are working on information that the criminals, after stealing the motorcycles, keep them at hideouts in Bongaon before taking them across to Khustia.

Mullah and Mondal were held during a routine police check on taxis in the Lansdowne area. They were in a taxi with two others who escaped.

Investigations revealed that Mullah and Mondal were leaders of a gang of six criminals who specialised in stealing motorcycles. The police said both were experts in opening the automatic locks of motorcycles.

The duo are from Nadia district while their accomplices hail from north 24-Parganas. Police said three of them acted as spotters, targeting parked motorcycles. Once they identified their prey, the three would stand guard at a distance while Mullah and Mondal opened the lock and started the bike.

The motorcycle would then be taken to a place in North 24-Parganas.A day later, it would be taken to Bongaon and then across the border to garages in neighbouring Khustia district to be sold at a premium.

The arrested criminals told the police that stolen Indian motorcycles fetch good money in the Bangladesh market. “Mullah and Mondal confessed that they have stolen 50 motorcycles from different city areas recently,’’ Pachnanda said. “Officers will raid several places in North 24-Parganas to track down their accomplices there,’’ he added. Efforts are also on to contact Khustia police. Police suspect that a large number of stolen motorcycles can be recovered if Bangladesh police work on the information provided by the arrested duo.    


 
 
DIGHA TRAIN IN MARCH 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 15 
The Howrah-Digha Express will begin services by March 2001, according to R.N. Malhotra, general manager, South-Eastern Railway.

Speaking on the culmination of the financial year and the observance of Railway Week, Malhotra said work was progressing “in a big way” on the 87-km Tamluk-Digha section of the new line.

“There are some land problems but they will be overcome,” he said. About 10 km of land acquisition in stretches is yet to be carried out. The South-Eastern Railway had already acquired 25 km. A total of 108 km of new lines and 56 km of doubling of tracks will be completed in the new fiscal year.

An 82 per cent increase in funds has been sanctioned for the division’s activities in Bengal this year. “In 1999-2000, the allocation was Rs 194 crore. This year it is Rs 352 crore,” Malhotra said.

There has also been a 100 per cent hike in funds to be spent for passenger amenities. The railway will spend Rs 5.8 crore on water taps, toilets, platform surface, booking offices on the other side of the station building, along with material for coaches, maintenance and security. The railway minister has declared that Midnapore is being developed as a model station. Engineers from IIT Kharagpur are designing the station. Rs 1.3 crore has been allocated for the project.    


 
 
WASTE PROCESSING PROJECT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 15 
Chief minister Jyoti Basu said on Saturday the proper treatment of a huge bulk of solid waste will help the city get a pollution-free environment.

Inaugurating the country’s largest plant for processing municipal solid waste (MSW) at Dhapa dumping ground, Basu said the Rs 9-crore project would help process 700 metric tonnes of solid waste per day in the city.

He called for the expansion of solid waste treatment projects to 41 municipalities under the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) area.

“This is a unique project for Calcutta but I want the management to spread its activities to municipal towns under the CMDA also,” he added.

The project is being funded by a young entrepreneur from the city in collaboration with Excel Industries Ltd, Mumbai and Calcutta Municipal Corporation.    


 
 
CBI TO PROBE KILLING OF BIHAR LEADER 
 
 
FROM SALMAN RAVI IN DHANBAD AND TAPAS CHAKRABORTY IN PATNA
 
April 15 
Succumbing to pressure mounted by Marxist Co-ordination Committee (MCC), the Bihar government today agreed to order a CBI probe into the killing of the MCC legislator from Nirsa Gurudas Chatterjee.

Chatterjee was gunned down by two motorcycle-borne assailants near Nirsa while he was returning from a trade union meeting yesterday.

Speaking to The Telegraph this afternoon, Cabinet minister and RJD spokesman Shivanand Tiwary said, “If the Marxist Co-ordination Committee leaders and the slain legislator’s family want the CBI to probe the case, we have no reservations.’’

Tiwary and two other senior Cabinet ministers, Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav and Saba Ahmed, arrived here today to pursuade the c-ordination committee leaders and party workers to lift the G. T. Road blockade. Irate party workers had blocked the road for over 20 hours since yesterday.

MCC leaders, specially former party MP and veteran trade unionist A. K. Roy initially refused to talk to the ministers and insisted that chief minister Rabri Devi come personally to console the bereaved family.

But after an assurance by Saba Ahmed that a CBI enquiry would be ordered, party workers allowed the police to take the body for post mortem. Tiwary and other ministers, who were accompanied by the state director general of police K. A. Jacob, announced an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the next of Chatterjee’s kin. Besides, the ministers also asked party workers to select a place in Nirsa where a life-size statue of the slain leader could be erected. Tiwary said by murdering Chatterjee, the organised coal mafia and other economic offenders have thrown “an open challenge to the state government”. He announced that a crackdown on the coal mafia would be launched soon. Superintendent of police, Dhanbad, Anil Palta said the description of the assailants provided by eyewitnesses resembled that of the son of a dreaded coal mafia don.

According to a preliminary report by the the special investigating team set up by chief minister Rabri Devi yesterday, a syndicate of coal pilferers in collusion with a local contractor was instrumental in killing Chatterjee.

The team is headed by R. Oraon, inspector-general of police, Ranchi.

A member of the team, who accompanied the director- general of police to Dhanbad, said Chatterjee had exposed misdeeds Beushankar Singh, a Nirsa-based contractor, who had forged Scheduled Caste certificate to apply for a licence to set up a petrol pump.

The pump was opened on tribal quota by depriving two genuine applicants. The applicants had drawn Chatterjee’s attention to the anomaly. Chatterjee lodged an FIR with the police and Singh was arrested.

The police suspect that Singh’s associates ganged up with a powerful syndicate of coal smugglers, who were sucking the Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) dry. Chatterjee had launched a campaign against coal pilferage in the area.

“We have information about the petrol pump incident and we are examining the case and probing the antecedents of the owner,’’Jacob said. Chatterjee had also accused some BCCL officials of conniving with the coal mafia and had sent detailed letters to the Union home ministry.

Hinting at political foul play, Tiwari said, “In Dhanbad, where the coal mafia is active or in Chakradharpur, it is our men who are being killed. There appears to be a pattern.” Reminded newsmen about the killing of seven Congressmen in Singhbhum, he alleged that the killings were a conspiracy by “destabilising forces to corner our government.”    

 

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