Husband held in TV actress suicide case
Anthrax plagues starving tribals
Tank repair scam taints municipal department
Xaverian old boys to meet by the Thames
Statehood surge unites Hill parties
Airport lifts ban on entry of visitors

 
 
HUSBAND HELD IN TV ACTRESS SUICIDE CASE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, May 19 
Teleserial director Debangshu Sengupta was arrested on Friday in connection with the suicide of wife Rumni Chatterjee at their Prince Ghulam Hussain Shah Road in Jadavpur.

Rumni, 24, a television actress, had hung herself from the ceiling fan in her bedroom on Wednesday evening.

Police said that Sengupta was arrested on charges of abetment to commit suicide and torture on women following a complaint lodged with the Jadavpur police station by the actress’ mother on Thursday night. Rumni’s mother alleged that her daughter was forced to commit suicide because of mental torture by her husband.

Investigators said that the director had been admitted to a nursing home on Prince Anwar Shah Road on Thursday evening.

“After the complaint was lodged, he was kept under round-the-clock vigil so that he could not escape from the nursing home,” police said.

Sleuths who had gone through the actress’ diary recovered from her residence felt that a dispute between the couple over Rumni’s first husband, Prasenjit Pal, alias `Pachada’, might have led to the suicide.

Police said preliminary investigation revealed that the director was never convinced by her wife’s confessions. Instead, he continued to be suspicious of her links with her ex-husband, leading to marital discord.

Investigators also disclosed that the actress had attempted suicide earlier. When Pal came to know of this, he contacted Sengupta and told him to take care of Rumni. “Sengupta refused to talk to Pal regarding the matter or believe that she had attempted suicide,” the police said.

Sengupta’s friends, however, insisted that they were “happy couple”. “Rumni was never tortured by Debangshu. They had a stable relationship. He has been arrested following a conspiracy hatched by Rumni’s former husband,” they alleged.

Accidents claim two: Sumitra Mukherjee, 52, was knocked down on Elgin Road and killed when the scooter by which she was travelling with her husband hit the door of a car which was “suddenly opened by the driver”. While Debkumar Mukherjee, a former accountant with a leading English newspaper, was seriously injured, his wife was declared dead at Shambhunath Pandit Hospital.

In another accident, a handcart puller was killed and three others injured after being hit by a private bus on route number 3D near Tala in north Calcutta.    


 
 
ANTHRAX PLAGUES STARVING TRIBALS 
 
 
FROM KUMARESH GHOSH
 
Pathrajuri, (Midnapore), May 19 
An outbreak of anthrax has claimed the lives of four tribals and affected over 200 others in Pathrajuri village of Midnapore.

Four tribals died after eating rotten flesh here on Friday morning. A hundred more have been admitted to the Midnapore district hospital and the Salboni Health Centre. The condition of at least 10 is said to be critical.

With this, more than 200 villagers are being treated for anthrax —- an infectious disease spread by decomposed carcasses.

Hundreds of cattle have perished after an outbreak of anthrax due to the severe heat in this laterite zone in the past few days. The hungry tribals had fed on dead cattle on Thursday night. After midnight, the disease started taking its toll. Sipra Hansda, 42, Lulki Soren, 17, Uran Hembrom, 35, and Nakul Hembrom, 32, died in the morning.

A team of doctors from Calcutta is scheduled to reach the spot on Sunday, said K.M. Hossain, chief medical officer of health.

People of Midnapore were shocked to see a procession of bullock carts carrying unconscious men, women and children to the district hospital on Friday.

Panchayat pradhan Sukdeb Hembrom said that the entire tribal population of the village, nearing 500, lives below the poverty line. They earn their living by selling sal leaves. Heavy rain over the past few days had upset their routine and they had no food at home.    


 
 
TANK REPAIR SCAM TAINTS MUNICIPAL DEPARTMENT 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, May 19 
The vigilance department has picked up the scent of a scam in the project and development department of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

A nexus between a contractor and top civic engineers in the department is said to have siphoned off no less than Rs 1 crore meant for repairs to the underground reservoir at Tallah pumping station.

The main allegation levelled against the project and development bosses is that the contract was awarded at a rate 7.2 per cent higher than what was recommended, even though another bidder had offered 11 per cent less than the prescribed rate.

Chief of municipal finance and accounts Shankar Dutta said the contract was awarded to the firm despite objections raised by the accounts department.

The vigilance department is awaiting a clearance from the mayor before seizing the file related to the Tallah project.

Improper construction of the reservoir by the CMDA led to leak of up to 4 million gallons of filtered water every day, from the very beginning. The municipal department took up repairs in 1996-97.

Prima facie scrutiny of the file by the vigilance department reveals:

Special favour was shown to a contractor by awarding the work at a rate higher than the approved rate

Another contractor who had constructed Md. Ali Park and Bagmari pumping stations had quoted a rate 11 per cent below the scheduled rate, which could have resulted is savings to the tune of Rs 55 lakh

The firm awarded the contract had no valid trade licence, income tax and sales tax clearance when it quoted its rate

An accounts department proposal for retendering was rejected on the ground of urgency, though the municipal department then spent four months waiting for the regularisation of the contractor’s trade licence and other clearances.

Within a week of awarding the contract, the firm informed the CMC that the drawing was faulty and demanded cost escalation

Accounts department objections were overruled by the then chief engineers of the department and the chief of municipal finance accounts without assigning sufficient reason.    


 
 
XAVERIAN OLD BOYS TO MEET BY THE THAMES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, May 19 
In two weeks’ time, a unique assembly of old boys from five continents will take place at the Queen Elizabeth-II conference centre right opposite the Houses of Parliament in London.

From that day, June 3, St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta, will be well and truly on the international map.

The convention, Exalus 2000, is the pioneering effort of the school to internationalise itself through its vast global network of alumni. It is supported by ex-students Jyoti Basu, Shankar Roychowdhury, Shashi Tharoor, Saurav Ganguly, Sanjeev Goenka, Neil O’Brien and others.

The main event will be a panel discussion on education, where a debate on the validity of degrees versus work skill will be initiated. Exalus will also be a platform to raise funds for a vocational training institute for disadvantaged boys.

A cultural programme, with the play Tumhari Amrita followed by santoor recital by Shiv Kumar Sharma and Rahul Sharma, has been organised. Painter Manjit Bawa’s miniatures will be on display. A boat ride by night on the Thames to the new Millennium Dome will be a highlight.

London has been chosen for “geographical convenience” by Xaverians worldwide.

The theme of the convention is “liberty through literacy.”    


 
 
STATEHOOD SURGE UNITES HILL PARTIES 
 
 
FROM KESHAV PRADHAN IN SILIGURI
 
May 19 
Leaders of the Kamtapur and Gorkhaland agitations may seek each other’s help to fight for their respective demands in view of the Left Front government’s strong opposition to both.

Kamtapur Peoples’ Party (KPP) president Atul Roy said: “We have already spoken to some pro-Gorkhaland organisations.”

He also claimed the support of Jharkhand parties some of whose leaders attended a KPP meeting in Malda last week.

In north Bengal, the plains of which form the boundaries of the proposed Kamtapur or Rajbanshi state, there is a large population of tribals of Chhotanagpur origin, now more popularly called Jharkhandis.

Communist Party of Marxist Revolutionaries (CPMR) central committee member D.S. Bomzan admitted that his party and the KPP have already held meetings.

The CPMR, formed by people who broke away from the CPM over the Gorkhaland issue in 1996, is a major constituent of the Gorkhaland United Front (GUF).

The GUF, along with the Gorkha National Liberation Front, has called for a 24-hour general strike in the Darjeeling hills on May 22 in support of the Gorkhaland demand. The Kamtapuris had called for a 24-hour north Bengal bandh on Thursday.

Both the KPP and the CPMR were trying to have a clear demarcation of their proposed states which may otherwise have overlapping boundaries.

Bomzan said: “We have told Kamtapur leaders that they should respect our claims on Nepali-dominated areas in the Terai and the Dooars which are contiguous to the Darjeeling hills.”

Government officials were concerned about reports of the Kamtapur cause receiving support from the Rajbanshis living in adjoining Assam and Nepal.    


 
 
AIRPORT LIFTS BAN ON ENTRY OF VISITORS 
 
 
BY OUR AIRPORT CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, May 19 
The ban on entry of visitors in both the domestic and international buildings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport was lifted at 10 am on Friday, after 144 days, according to a spokesperson of the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The AAI has lost out on sale of visitor’s tickets amounting to around Rs 36 lakh during the period. “The daily earning from the sale of tickets to visitors was Rs 25,000 and went up to Rs 30,000 on holidays,” said the spokesperson.

The ban on the entry of visitors was imposed following the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu on December 24 due to “security reasons”. The ban was lifted on March 1 but reimposed the next day.

The entry fee has been hiked from Rs 15 to 20 at the domestic terminal and to Rs 50 in the international building.

Azad Hind thrice weekly: South Eastern Railway (SER) has decided to run Howrah-Pune Azad Hind Express thrice a week instead of twice. The new schedule will be effective from July 1. The train will leave Pune every Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Similarly, the train will leave Howrah on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays. The arrival and departure timings will remain unchanged    

 

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