Rampage at hospital after boy’s death
Power grid breakdown fear brings blackout
Belal aide held in hideout raid
Violence set to mar Tripura polls today
Dimasa militant outfit forges links with ISI
Centre to tread with caution on Karmapa issue

 
 
RAMPAGE AT HOSPITAL AFTER BOY’S DEATH 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 29 
Hundreds of local residents pelted stones at Swadesh Bose Hospital, in Thakurpukur, and set a vehicle ablaze to protest the death of a four-year-old boy, Sankha Barua, admitted to the hospital for treatment of infantile hernia.

Barua died early on Saturday. His family, at Amritalal Mukherjee Road, half a kilometre from the hospital, was conveyed the news within minutes. As the buzz spread, tension began to brew in the locality. A mob soon gathered in front of the hospital.

Blaming the hospital authorities for Barua’s death, a handful of people stormed the premises and broke glasses, window panes and teapots. A senior physician of the hospital, unwilling to be named, said the mob even damaged some medical equipment.

Another section of the mob waiting outside the hospital spotted a doctor’s vehicle and set it on fire. Some doctors, in the hospital attending to other patients when the mob went on the rampage, alleged that the crowd did not allow anybody to leave the premises. It also threw stones at the hospital building.

Hospital sources said the mob forcibly took the boy’s body away, without even allowing the authorities to complete the formalities.

A police team from Thakurpukur police station reached the spot within half an hour but failed to pacify the crowd. Officers sent frantic wireless messages for reinforcements. A larger force, led by deputy superintendent of police Subhankar Chatterjee, reached the spot and pushed back the militant mob.

Hospital sources said Barua had been operated on for infantile hernia by Dr Saratendu Ghosh on Friday. Hospital authorities said the boy was complaining of a breathing problem immediately after the operation and he was put under sedation.

The hospital’s head anaesthetic, Dr Bhuban Gupta, and his colleague, Dr Minati Das, attended to Barua. He was put on drip but the boy’s condition deteriorated later in the night.

Hospital authorities said both doctors tried their best to save the boy. Barua’s relatives, however, contradicted the version, claiming that the doctors had been negligent. Hospital authorities said despite best efforts by the doctors, Barua died of a ‘block in his larynx’, or breathlessness.

A police picket was posted in the area. Chatterjee later said a case of rioting and damage to property was lodged against “unknown persons” at Thakurpukur police station.    


 
 
POWER GRID BREAKDOWN FEAR BRINGS BLACKOUT 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, April 29 
Fearing a collapse of the eastern grid, the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) was forced to cut supply to its command area by 250-300 mw and restrict power sale to CESC for the past two days.

The usually-high eastern grid frequency began plunging below 49 Hz on Friday during evening peak hours, forcing the WBSEB to reduce its draw from the Central sector pool to save the grid from imminent collapse.

With generation already low in the Central sector power pool, Bihar aggravated the situation by drawing much more power than the allotted schedule, thereby endangering the entire grid.

The Eastern Regional Electricity Board may be asked to take action against Bihar. As per the new availability-based tariff formula, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) can slap a fine on utilities who draw more power from the Central pool during low-grid frequency. But irrespective of when the CREC acts, the WBSEB warned that power cuts would continue.

Senior WBSEB officials said that Bengal was being penalised despite being a disciplined entity in the eastern grid system. “We import a certain quota of Central sector power but we are being forced to cut the amount because of indiscipline by other entities and to save the grid from collapse.”

According to data from the WBSEB’s Central Load Despatch Centre, the state’s stations were producing more or less the same amount of power for the past two days. On Friday, Bandel generated 305 mw at evening peak hour, while Santaldih turned in 130 mw, Kolaghat generated 815 mw and the Bakreswar plant 185 mw. The draw from the Central pool was cut to 315 mw against a normal of 430 mw. The state cut its import from Durgapur Projects, too,to 24 mw .

In contrast, generation by Gridco in Orissa suffered a setback because a nor’wester brought down transmission lines at Jamshedpur.

Generation at NTPC’s Farakka unit, Kahelgaon and Talcher was restricted by the coal crisis. Gridco generated 1575 mw, compared with a normal of 1900 mw.

The CESC’s generation during evening peak hour on Friday was 835 mw and it cut supply to balance a shortfall of 150 mw. On Saturday, the situation was not as bleak but the grid frequency was low and cannot be restored till the Central sector pool improves and the Gridco connection is restored.    


 
 
BELAL AIDE HELD IN HIDEOUT RAID 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, April 29 
Four days after the arrest of Belal on suspicion of him being an ISI agent, the police on Saturday tracked down one of his associates, Swarup Kazi, from his hideout in Baduria, in North 24-Parganas.

Police said Kazi, Belal’s brother-in-law, was arrested on Saturday morning. He was produced in the Basirhat sub-divisional magistrate’s court and remanded to police custody for 14 days.

Kazi’s arrest is likely to yield more clues to the ISI’s activities in West Bengal, as also vital information about the Kandahar hijack case.

Belal, who police said used to work as an ISI agent, was earlier remanded to police custody for 14 days. Kazi was interrogated by senior CID officials on Saturday and the investigators gathered vital information, which they refused to divulge for fear that it would stall the probe.

District superintendent of police Kuldip Singh said the police would continue combing the bordering areas of the district and other possible hideouts in search of more Belal associates.

Body recovered: Police recovered a bullet-ridden body on CN Roy Road, in Tiljala, early on Saturday morning. The victim was identified as Sheikh Daulat, 46. Police said Daulat, an anti-social and a close associate of Aurangjeb, was picked up by three persons from his Beniapukur home late on Friday night. Gang rivalry led to the killing, police added.    


 
 
VIOLENCE SET TO MAR TRIPURA POLLS TODAY 
 
 
FROM SEKHAR DATTA
 
Agartala, April 29 
The possibility of militant-orchestrated violence looms large over Tripura as the first phase of elections to the Autonomous District Council gets underway in the northeastern state tomorrow. Giving an indication of what may be in store, militants abducted two persons, including a CPM leader, and set a polling booth ablaze over the past 24 hours. Sources said National Liberation Front of Tripura rebels abducted Dhirendra Jamatya, a CPM panchayat member, from Jamatyapara village under Natun Bazar police station today. Jamatya is believed to have been taken hostage for backing a CPM candidate. In another incident, NLFT rebels abducted a labourer from Bagma under Udaipur subdivision last night. The militants also set fire to a polling booth near Chailengta in Dhalai district. Election officials here, however, downplayed the incident. “Security has been beefed up in Dhalai and West Tripura districts to facilitate free and fair polling. All the 424 booths set up in the two districts have been categorised as sensitive,” an official said. The 15 constituencies which will go to the hustings tomorrow have a combined electorate of 2,91,577 voters. However, the turnout is expected to be low due to largescale violence in the run-up to the elections“We have made foolproof arrangements for the elections and are hopeful of a high turnout,” chief secretary V. Thulasidas said here today. He said the government had done its bit by plugging all possible loopholes and the onus was now on the electorate to defy the militants’ diktat and cast their votes. Director-general of police K.T.D. Singh said 28 companies of paramilitary forces had been deployed in the state. He said two Army columns had also arrived from Assam. “The Army columns have been deployed in all the sensitive polling booths,” Singh said, adding that Air Force helicopters had also been pressed into service. BSF director-general V.N. Singh has already arrived in the state to monitor the security arrangements for both phases of polling. The second phase of elections is slated for Wednesday.    

 
 
DIMASA MILITANT OUTFIT FORGES LINKS WITH ISI 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Silchar, April 29 
Following in the footsteps of the Ulfa, the Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) has forged links with the ISI.

The nexus came to light after the Army began investigating diversion of public funds into the coffers of the militant outfit.

Sources in the Army said one Imdad Ali from Lanka in Lower Assam was found to have diverted funds from the treasury to the Dimasa militant outfit in collusion with a senior public works department (roads) official.

Ali, suspected to have ties with both the DHD and the ISI, went underground last week.

The Army had raided his office in a hotel in Guwahati’s Paltan Bazar area, but failed to apprehend him.

Haflong-based PWD superintending engineer A.B. Das, who allegedly helped Ali divert public funds into the DHD coffers, also went into hiding after the Army began its investigation. Some incriminating documents were, however, seized from Das’ office in the North Cachar Hills district headquarters of Haflong last week.

An Army official said scrutiny of the seized documents revealed that Das “hurriedly” approved withdrawal of Rs 1.18 crore from the treasury in February.

“The amount was withdrawn for payment to contractors and firms existing only on paper,” he said. The official said the bulk of the cash was actually handed over to DHD leaders and ISI conduits, while Das allegedly pocketed 20 per cent of the amount.

It is believed that the public funds diverted to the DHD are being used to buy weapons and organise training camps in North Cachar Hills district and neighbouring Nagaland.The Army has now handed over the investigation to the police. North Cachar Hills district superintendent of police B.B. Chetry is supervising the probe. “It does seem strange that there are no funds for payment of salaries to both autonomous district council and state government employees. But there is plenty of money to misappropriate,’’ he said.

Hostages spotted

The two businessmen abducted by militants from Digli Bahadurpur in Cachar district on Tuesday have been spotted in Manipur’s Tamenglong district, sources said today.

The duo — Madan Gopal Sana and Sudip Sarkar — was taken hostage by a group of Naga and People’s United Liberation Front rebels.Sources said the hostages were spotted on Wednesday at Santipur and Rani Gaidanliu Colony in west Manipur. Police and paramilitary personnel deployed along the Cachar-Manipur border have been put on alert.    


 
 
CENTRE TO TREAD WITH CAUTION ON KARMAPA ISSUE 
 
 
FROM KESHAV PRADHAN
 
Gangtok, April 29 
Rumtek, the headquarters-in-exile of the Kagyupa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, will remain headless for some more time despite the arrival of its Karmapa or reincarnate chief Ugen Thinley Dorjee from Tibet more than four months ago.

This indication came from Union home minister L.K. Advani during his recent visit here amid appeals for help from rival claimants to the Karmapa’s seat. Apart from this, the CPM’s Sikkim unit warned him not to antagonise China by going out of his way to appease the Dalai Lama on the issue.

After meeting various factions of monks and followers of Buddhism, Advani said, “We’ll have to take many things into consideration. Moreover, the Dalai Lama also wants the Karmapa to stay and carry on his studies at Dharamshala.”

Among those who called on the Union home minister were high priests from Rumtek and supporters of Dawa Zangpo Dorjee, a Sherpa boy who claims to be the real reincarnate head of Rumtek. There is another claimant, Thaye Dorjee, chosen as the Karmapa by Shamar Rimpoche, a rebel regent priest from Rumtek.

Besides, Advani met representatives of the joint action committee of all Buddhist organisations, a body fighting for the installation of the Dalai Lama’s choice as the XVII Karmapa since 1992. The XVI Karmapa, who built the cash-rich monastery after he took asylum in India along with the Dalai Lama in 1959, died in the US in 1981.

The followers of the Sherpa claimant, who met Advani under the banner of the Foundation Trust for His Holiness the XVII Gyalwang Karmapa, asked the minister to hold a fair trial of all the three claimants to find out who the genuine Karmapa is. On the other hand, followers of Ugen Thinley from Rumtek and the joint action committee thanked the Centre for giving shelter to him and asked for his early installation at Rumtek.

The CPM, however, expressed concern at Advani’s statement that the Centre would consult the Dalai Lama before taking any decision. In contrast, all Sikkim-based political parties have demanded early enthronement of the Tibet-born Karmapa at Rumtek. In November, the Pawan Kumar Chamling government even wrote to New Delhi asking it to make arrangements for the Karmapa’s journey to Rumtek from Tibet’s Tshurpu monastery, the original seat of the sect. The boy was enthroned there after he was recognised as the new Karmapa in 1992. However, ever since China expressed its displeasure at the boy’s escape, the Sikkim government has remained silent.    

 

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