Behala don unleashes terror
Mahajot menu for Midnapore
Bullets, blows rock district
Virtual school launched
Two Tripura planters abducted
9 held for militant links
Jamir criticises Assam CM

Calcutta, May 13 
Violence erupted at Sodepur, in Behala, on Saturday evening when Dubloo Singh, a crimelord, and 15 associates, wielding revolvers, bombs and bhojalis, fought a pitched battle with the police.

The mob ransacked five shops, terrorised shopowners and residents of M.L. Gupta Road and damaged three police vehicles while retreating. Residents said the violence was the fallout of a gang war between dons Mona Bhai and Dubloo Singh. Mona had warded off several attempts by Singh to penetrate into his territory.

Police raided his hideout and arrested Mona and a few accomplices recently. This paved the way for Singh to make unchallenged inroads into his rival’s turf. Singh arrived in the area on Saturday with two jeepsful of armed aides. They started extorting money from promoters and shopowners.

Residents said: “Singh went around proclaiming himself the ‘local hero’ and telling traders and promoters they would now have to pay him protection money.’’

A few of his associates entered the shops but the shopowners were not ready to part with their cash. This irked the gangster and his men started to ransack the shops and assault some traders.

A police mobile patrol was rushed to the spot but by then, Singh had fled the area. trouble had initially broken out. Immediately after sundown, Singh and his men returned. They showered stones and bombs at the policemen. Traders downed their shutters and residents rushed into their houses and barred the doors and windows.

Deputy superintendent Subhankar Chatterjee arrived with a possé and began to hunt for Dubloo. A police picket has been posted as the area remains tense.    

Calcutta, May 13 
Trinamul Congress leader and railway minister Mamata Banerjee will move the masses for a mahajot (grand alliance) of anti-CPM forces at her rallies in Midnapore on Sunday, in connection with the June 5 Panskura by-election.

Her decision to interact with the public on the alliance follows a visit to the state by AICC observer Vylar Ravi. Ravi, who met some state Congress leaders as Sonia Gandhi’s emissary, has ruled out the party’s direct or indirect link with the Trinamul-BJP combine.

Sources said Mamata’s talks with dissident CPM leader and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty and PCC chief A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury a few days ago have strengthened her resolve to form the mahajot.

The Trinamul leader has twin aims behind her decision to raise the mahajot in her poll meetings. She wants to ensure the CPM’s political isolation and create enough pressure on the state Congress leadership to make the party fall in line. She is certain the state Congress will find it difficult to keep away from the mahajot once she has the masses on her side.

Mamata will address two rallies at Keshpur and Garbeta, which have been the focal point of political attention because of intermittent clashes between Trinamul workers and CPM cadre.

Hours before she left for Midnapore on Saturday afternoon, Mamata held a meeting with key party functionaries to discuss measures to counter possible attempts to rig the polls.

“Mamata is concerned about the CPM’s attempts to win the elections through unfair means. That is why she is in favour of deployment of paramilitary forces at Panskura on poll day,” said Trinamul spokesman, Pankaj Banerjee.

In another development, worried over its strained relationship with the state unit over fielding a nominee at Panskura, the Congress high command has decided to form a coordination committee to monitor its electioneering.

However, most state Congress leaders are loath to campaign, though working president and MP Priya Ranjan Das Munshi intends to make himself available for nominee Subhankar Sarkar, pitted against Trinamul candidate Bikram Sarkar and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta in a multi-cornered contest at Panskura.    

Calcutta, May 13 
A 30-year-old man was shot dead and two teenagers were beaten to death in North 24-Parganas over the past 24 hours. However, no arrests have been made yet.

Banku Nayek, a cinema ticket-scalper, was mowed down and then shot through the head at Gorabazar, in Dum Dum, on Friday night. Early reports say gang rivalry triggered the incident.

In the other incident, two teenagers were beaten to death on charges of extortion at Ichhapur on Friday night. Police said the two had gone to Noapara to force a local contractor into paying up Rs 30,000.

Residents of the area got hold of them and thrashed them for half an hour. They were rescued by policemen from Noapara and rushed to hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries.

Seven arrested

Seven persons were arrested on Saturday in connection with violence at Joynagar, in South 24-Parganas, says a staff reporter. Of the seven, two were suspected to be members of a dacoit gang. The rest were held for a case of lynching.

In another incident, unidentified assailants slit the throat of a man and torched nearly 10 houses at Mandirbazar, South 24-Parganas, late on Friday night.    

Calcutta, May 13, an interactive learning website for school-goers that claims “to be different from the rest”, was formally launched by educationist and quizmaster Neil O’Brien on Saturday.

Barry O’Brien, one of the key promoters, said: “The site will help not only students of premier schools, but also those of the so-called mediocre institutions.” Education will be the focus, but will also try to encourage students in community-building and extra curricular activities.

The site, said Barry O’Brien, will also have a prominent social focus to promote awareness among schoolchildren on key issues like poverty, illiteracy and child labour. will contain subject-wise, graded lessons, prepared by its own permanent academic faculty, under guidance of Neil O’Brien, chairman of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations. There will also be on-line preparatory courses for JEE and IIT entrance tests.

Not only academics, school-goers can interact on-line with celebrities on just about anything, the promoters said. Calcutta’s very own Leander Paes will be the first to be in the line of fire on the net. There are 100 weekly prizes to be won on the summer camps, starting May 15, 2000.

Students can also seek advice on-line from John Mason for honing their language skills, and get quiz tips from Neil O’Brien. Barry O’Brien will help out the ‘not-so-glib talkers’ with critical communication inputs and Dayita Datta will make history lessons easier and more interesting. The response from city schools has been “phenomenal”, said Barry O’Brien.    

Agartala, May 13 
National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) militants abducted two tea executives from Kailasahar sub-division of North Tripura this morning. Police sources said C.K. Thakur and Bipadbandhu Das, assistant manager and garden supervisor respectively of the Golokpur tea estate, had gone to inspect section 60 of the garden near a thickly-wooded area. Around 8 am a group of NLFT militants appeared on the spot and abducted them at gunpoint. The abduction has triggered panic in the tea gardens of the state. The Golokpur tea estate is owned by Dipankar Chatterjee of Calcutta who has several other gardens in Tripura and Assam. Secretary of the local unit of the Tea Association of India (TAI) P.K. Sarkar said during the past six years, altogether 10 tea garden management staff, including two leading planters Yogabrata Chakraborty and Mrinal Kanti Chowdhury, had died in militancy-related incidents while 12 tea garden staff had been abducted. Of those abducted, seven returned after payment of hefty ransom while three died in militant custody. Sarkar said he had urged Union home minister L.K. Advani on behalf of TAI to notify all the 57 tea garden areas in Tripura as disturbed and to form a special task force for their protection. The abduction comes at a time when the tea industry of Tripura, comprising 57 tea gardens and a workforce of 13,000, is reeling under severe recession. Sarkar said in a statement that Tripura’s “common tea” had fetched only Rs 32 per kg in the past few auctions while the production cost was Rs 60 per kg. A large quantity of last year’s tea is lying unsold in several auction centres, he added.

5 militants killed

In what appears to be the beginning of a clash between rival militant outfits, NLFT militants shot dead at least five All-Tripura Tiger Force activists, including its senior commander Asit Debbarma, in a pre-emptive strike on their camp at Chhonbari in Habibganj district of Bangladesh early this morning. However, 35 Tiger Force militants escaped unhurt. Debbarma carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head as announced by the state government last year. The news of his death reached his parents residing at Belcherra under Khowai sub-division this morning. Reports from across the border said the NLFT militants have a camp at Sundartilla, not very far from the ATTF camp. Led by Kishore alias “Lara” Debbarma, they took the Tiger Force militants unawares. The latter, however, engaged them in a one-and-a half hourlong exchange, following which they deserted the camp. The NLFT then set it on fire.    

Imphal, May 13 
Assam Rifles has alleged in a press release that all government employees, “from the highest level to the lowest functionaries” in Manipur, are paying a certain percentage of their monthly salary to various militant outfits.

Assam Rifles has embarked on a drive against the extortion racket of militants since May 10. During the raids at the time of disbursement of salaries, nine government officials were arrested for deducting a certain percentage from employees’ salaries for paying militants’ “illegal taxes”.

Of the nine officials arrested, five were released due to lack of evidence. Four officials — two from the All India Radio, Imphal, and two from Imphal West deputy commissioner’s office — were booked under Sections 121 and 121-A of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. While the two officials of Imphal West deputy commissioner’s office were granted bail by the chief judicial magistrate, the two AIR staff were remanded in police custody till Monday.

Assam Rifles said the documents recovered during raids included “demand notes” served by various outfits. They alleged that the documents included the names of employees of AIR, Imphal, right from the station director to the lowest level. AIR, Imphal has paid a few lakhs of rupees to militants from August 1998 to July 1999, they added. Brig. Mukesh Sabarwal, deputy inspector-general, Assam Rifles, Manipur Range said the crackdown will continue to prevent rebels from extorting government employees. SBI threat: State Bank of India officials have threatened to close down its Leimakhong branch until Army authorities take action against those jawans who assaulted three of their officers on Thursday.    

Jorhat, May 13 
Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir has criticised his Assam counterpart Prafulla Kumar Mahanta for not taking any initiative to solve the border dispute.

The criticism comes barely 24 hours after the meeting of Northeast chief ministers at Shillong for a co-ordinated effort to solve the issues affecting the seven sister states.

“The Mahanta-led government appears to have no political will to solve the impasse,” Jamir said here today on his way to Dimapur.

“I tried to take up the topic at the meeting, but he (Mahanta) simply avoided it,” he alleged.    


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