Durgapur tryst with infotech giant
Row preceded actress’ suicide, say police
No steps to check fatal cave-ins
Gardens gear for rural poll
Eight killed, 20 injured in Tripura violence
3 Ulfa rebels held in Dibrugarh

Calcutta, May 20 
Durgapur, once the industrial hub of West Bengal, is being projected as a possible information technology (IT) hi-tech habitat.

The government has set in motion a strategy to woo large IT multinationals to kick-start the high-profile facility. According to senior government officials, a date has been set for a meeting with computer giant IBM next week.

Hi-tech habitats have been recommended by the Union ministry of information technology. The IT task force, set up by the ministry, envisages the setting-up of 50 hi-tech habitats in the country to fulfil the targets set for the IT industry by the year 2008.

The task force is looking at a $50 million annual export of IT software and services by the year 2008. This is India’s projected share in the $ 2-trillion global IT industry during the first decade of the new millennium.

State government officials said Durgapur was chosen since infrastructurally, it would suit the IT companies. The entire telephone system in the sub-divisional town, as well as its link with Calcutta, is through fibre-optic cables, the officials said. The town also has a steady power and water supply.

As for transport, Durgapur is accessible from Calcutta through the high-speed Durgapur Expressway as well as the rapid Shatabdi Express from Howrah station. “Location-wise, Durgapur is ideal for a hi-tech habitat centre, as per the guidelines laid down by the IT task force,” an official said.

The Centre has empowered states to build up the habitats with a technologically-progressive and administratively-liberal set of guidelines. For the Durgapur habitat, the state government will hold its equity in land and basic infrastructure, while the private sector will provide the funds for the projects. A minimum of 100 acres will be earmarked for the hi-tech habitat, the sources said.

Policy-makers in the state as well as the newly-formed IT department are preparing an ideal set of incentives to elicit a positive response from the industry. “With the participation of big names in the field of IT, the habitat will automatically bring in investment,” the officials said.

The task force has recommended a three per cent allocation for IT from the budget of every state government department. The Durgapur plan is being closely monitored by the state IT department, as well as the West Bengal Electronics Corporation (Webel).

The first phase of Webel’s electronics-cum-computer zone, Saltec, in Salt Lake, has already been occupied by companies and work on the second phase has begun, the sources said.    

Calcutta, May 20 
Tele-serial actress Rumni Chatterjee and her director husband Debangshu Sengupta had a bitter quarrel a couple of hours before she was found hanging from the ceiling in their flat on Prince Ghulam Hussain Shah Road in Jadavpur on Thursday.

Police officers on the case said Debanghsu may have put Rumni through mental torture, which reached a flashpoint that night. They said the row ended when she got up from her chair, threw a tantrum and threatened to end her life. “I will hang myself,’’ she reportedly told Debangshu. Both of them were drunk.

Apparently ignoring the threat, the husband left the flat. Police on Friday arrested Debangshu on charges of abetting suicide.

Deputy superintendent of police Subhankar Chatterjee and senior officers of Jadavpur police station went to the south Calcutta nursing home on Saturday where Debangshu is admitted and interrogated him for an hour.

Inquiries by The Telegraph at the nursing home revealed that Debangshu had initially complained of gastro-enteritis disorders. But on Saturday, Debangshu’s physician, Abhijit Bhatta, mentioned in his report that the patient “is cured and fit to resume normal duties.’’

According to Chatterjee, Debangshu is feigning illness. “The doctor attending to him told us he is fine and there is no need for him to be in a nursing home.’’ The tele-serial director, however, said he was feeling traumatised and wanted to be treated in the nursing home.

Meanwhile, preliminary investigations revealed that Debangshu and Rumni often had harsh arguments over her continued association with Prasenjit Pal, whom she had married in 1993 and later divorced. Prasenjit and Rumni were childhood sweethearts and had tied the knot. But while shooting for Bengali mega-serial Mahaprabhu, she fell in love with its director, Debangshu.

Police spoke to several of Rumni’s friends and relatives to find out the girl was “very, very sentimental and emotional,’’ leading to her fickle-mindedness.

“She was a simpleton. Rumni had a soft corner for Prasenjit. But at the same time, she was madly in love with Debangshu,’’ said DSP Chatterjee.

Despite a busy schedule, Rumni kept in touch with her former husband, which irritated Debangshu. Friends have told the investigating officers that the rift between Rumni and Debangshu began to develop within a month of their marriage.    

Calcutta, May 20 
The death of three unauthorised miners at Rajpura coal mine, of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), early on Friday, shows that despite cave-ins, there has been no effort to check illegal mining. At least 15 people have died in this coal belt in the past five months. Unconfirmed sources, however, say the toll is much higher.

In Friday’s incident, three miners were killed and a woman sustained serious injuries when the roof of the illegal mine came crashing down on them. The dead were identified as Mohammad Anwar, 32, his son Kallu,14, and Kailash Tanti, 33. The injured woman, identified as Kailash’s wife, has been admitted to hospital.

The accident created quite a stir , and a large number of people gathered at the site. Deputy Speaker Anil Mukherjee, who was in the belt campaigning for the municipal polls, led the demonstrators in demanding compensation for the kin of those killed. He also sought a CBI inquiry into the repeated cave-ins and illegal mining.

“It’s good that at least one case has been recorded. The ECL authorities and the police did not get a chance to hush up the incident because of the Mukherjee’s presence and initiative,” said Sukumar Banerjee, president of the Intuc-affiliated Colliery Majdoor Union.

Haradhan Roy, president of the Citu-affiliated Colliery Majdoor Sabha, is more concerned about the growing incidents of cave-ins caused by illegal mining.

Quoting from the apex monitoring committee report of 1990, Roy said it had declared four localities with a surface area of 12 sq km in the Asansol-Ranigunge belt “unsafe for human habitation.”

The committee comprised, among others, the then West Bengal land reforms minister, Binoy Chowdhury, and the chairman of Coal India Ltd. “More than 10 years have passed. Neither the Centre nor the state government has taken any initiative for evacuation and rehabilitation of the people of the area,” Roy added.

In a letter to the chief minister on November 12 last year, the veteran Citu leader said: “If you go through the records, you will find that we have written hundreds of letters on the subject, but without any result.”

The director-general of mines safety has served notices to residents, urging them to evacuate the area where more than 30 subsidence had occurred so far. But since no alternative arrangement has been made, miners and other residents are forced to live on in the disaster-prone large.    

May 20 
Like the other 80-odd gardens, Castleton Tea Estate, whose produce fetched the world’s highest price — a whopping Rs 13,001 per kg in 1992 — will go to the panchayat polls for the first time on Sunday.

Most of the 400-odd workers have no idea what a panchayat is. Some do not even know who are contesting. Despite taking part in the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council elections thrice since 1988, a sizeable chunk does not know the name of the local councillor. They look even more confused when asked the name of the Prime Minister.

But all of them are conscious of the ‘life of deprivation’ they and their forefathers have lived since the inception of the garden over 100 years ago. One of the world’s best tea-making gardens, Castleton is run by Tiru, a subsidiary of tea giant Goodricke.

“Most of us do not have toilets at home. In fact, the entire garden has been an open toilet for generations,” said Uma Bhujelni, a third-generation plucker.

Half a km away, another worker, Moti Bhujel, adds: “Imagine our plight in the monsoon. We have to go to a nearby stream to relieve ourselves. When you are poor, even snakes and leeches don’t scare you.”

After sanitation, water scarcity and bad roads have always been major problems. “Some of us have got water connections on our own,” said S. Ghishing, a temporary worker. Each connection costs between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000. The daily wage of a worker is Rs 34.80.

Vikas Gajmer, assistant manager of the garden, admitted the absence of toilets but spoke of future measures. The only school, built by the hill council some years ago, was blown away last month. Gajmer claimed the attendance level in the school was nil. He blamed pilferage by the workers for the scarcity of water.    

Agartala, May 20 
Indefinite curfew was imposed in Kalyanpur under West Tripura district where at least eight persons, including two women and a child, were killed and more than 20 injured in separate incidents since last evening.

Police sources said a group of United Bengali Liberation Front (UBLF) militants today lobbed bombs at a passenger jeep coming from North Maharanipur under Khowai subdivision killing five tribals and injuring 11.

The victims were identified as Harendra Debbarma(40), Surendra Debbarma (55), Shyamla Jamatya (27) and her son Tikai Jamatya(3). Eleven passengers were admitted to Teliamura hospital and G. B. Hospital in the capital with serious injuries.

Last night, UBLF rebels attacked Gudaibari village under Kalyanpur police station killing a tribal woman, Rajmala Debbarma (26). Five others—Sushanto Debbarma(3), Sukhini Debbarma (60), Mamata Debbarma(18), Benoy Debbarma (23) and Bijli Debbarma(21) — were admitted to the G. B. Hospital with serious injuries. Sources said the attack was aimed at avenging the killing of a woman by insurgents at neighbouring Maijbhandar village on Thursday.

In retaliatory strikes, tribals today hacked to death a non-tribal farmer at Khasia Punji area under Teliamura police station. In another incident, a non-tribal schoolteacher was killed by tribal militants at Balarampara under Kalyanpur police station last night. The killings have triggered ethnic tension in Khowai subdivision. A police team led by additional superintendent of police (West) Punit Rastogi has launched combing operations in the area.

District magistrate, West Tripura, Manoj Kumar today imposed indefinite curfew in Kalyanpur following the spurt in ethnic violence.

Official sources said police had to fire several rounds to rescue the district magistrate and subdivisional officer, Khowai, Manas Deb, who were mobbed by irate tribals at Khagendra Colony today. Acting chief minister Anil Sarkar said, “The violence has to stop. We are planning stringent measures to quell ethnic violence.” Demanding stern action against the UBLF activists, general secretary of the Tripura Upajati Juba Samity Rabindra Debbarma said the woman and her son killed in today’s bomb blast were his relatives.

New DGP: B. L. Vora, an IPS officer of Tripura-Manipur cadre, will take over as the new director-general of police on May 23.

Bihar mishap

Four persons were killed and 21 injured when a long-distance bus turned turtle near Ghatsila on the National Highway 33 yesterday, reports our Jamshedpur correspondent.Police sources said the bus carrying a marriage party was on its way from Jamshedpur to Baharagora. The driver lost control near Ghatshila and the bus overturned.    

Jorhat, May 20 
The Dibrugarh police yesterday arrested three Ulfa militants from Gohainbari village in Lezal area. The militants were involved in the killing of a tea vendor, Deepak Gogoi, on May 16.

They were arrested following a brief encounter at the residence of Tarun Baruah, a villager, where they had sought shelter.

The militants were identified as Harichandra Moran, Nitul Gogoi and Harish Bhuyan, members of the Ulfa’s “28th battalion.” An Ulfa linkman, Punyadhar Dutta, was also arrested.

The district administration has clamped a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the district.

Karbi Anglong bandh

The United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) has called a 48-hour Karbi Anglong bandh from Monday.

The bandh has been called in protest against the killing of five persons at Hamren subdivision by security personnel.    


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