Torture led to murder plot
Monsoon makes it 72 hours early
Don’t bite that biscuit, it’s spiked
Fuel switch or scrap threat to old cars
3 new judges, but bar panel mulls hold-up
Rash driver kills two, residents block road
3,000 billboards wrenched off trees
Ranchi V-C in vigilance dragnet
Manipur vows to protect visitors
Students flaunt united colours of statehood

Calcutta, June 5 
Aparajita, better known as Munmun and widow of slain computer professional Kunal Bose, used to be “inhumanly tortured by her husband” since their marriage six years ago.

This, the police believe, led her to plot her husband’s murder with Nantu Roy, with whom she had developed a relationship a year ago, as well as his driver Goutam, who had become her “very good friend” in recent months.

Aparajita, arrested on Sunday on charges of conspiring to murder her husband, was produced in court on Monday and remanded in police custody for six days.

Goutam has been missing since the night of May 26, when Kunal was stabbed and thrown out of a car on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

Arrested promoter Nantu Roy, charged with the killing of Kunal, has told the police that the “main culprit” in this entire episode is Goutam, who, exploiting his “close relationship” with Munmun, had been encouraging her to plot her husband’s murder and “start a new life”.

Munmun has told the Tiljala police that Kunal used to assault her “at home and on the streets, while he carried on an illicit relationship”. Investigations have revealed that Kunal, indeed, was involved with the wife of a friend.

Nantu, meanwhile, has told the police that even though he had hoped to marry Munmun one day, he was upset that she would “shower Goutam with expensive gifts and drink with him regularly”.

“But Nantu thought that this was only a passing phase. He was even willing to overlook the fact that Munmun had run away with another man to Mumbai a few years after her marriage,” one of Nantu’s interrogators told The Telegraph.

Police also find it strange that Kunal was not willing to grant his wife a divorce. It was Munmun who had approached a lawyer last month to file for divorce, although her husband had warned her against doing so.

Nantu has told the police that on May 26, after a meal at a Chinese restaurant in Tangra, Kunal was driven to a lonely spot on the Bypass, where Goutam had fatally wounded him with a chopper and dumped him on the road.

“I didn’t do anything to Kunal, please spare me,” Nantu pleaded with the police on Monday. “It was Goutam...”    

Calcutta, June 5 
The monsoon is here — three days before the weatherman said it would come calling.

Calcutta awoke to a Monday morning of dark clouds, nagging showers and slushy streets as 34.1 mm of rain was recorded.

On the day the south-west monsoon broke, the morning temperature dipped to 30 degrees Celsius from an oppressive 35.6 degrees Celsius on Sunday.

“We regard June 8 as the average date for the onset of monsoon in West Bengal. But this is a mystery of nature, and so it is not possible to pinpoint the reasons for its early arrival,” said U.S. Dey, additional director- general of meteorology (research), in Pune.

Widespread and heavy rains are expected in Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal over the next two days. Besides the monsoon clouds, a well-marked low-pressure belt lies over the west-central Bay of Bengal, near the south Orissa-north Andhra coast.

“It is likely to concentrate into a depression and, under its influence, fairly widespread rains are expected, with isolated heavy rains over the south Bengal coastal districts during the next 48 hours,” said R.N. Goldar, director, Alipore meteorological office.

According to the met office chief, monsoon clouds had reached some parts of sub-Himalayan West Bengal, like Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling by June 2.

“It (the monsoon) has advanced into the rest of sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim and most parts of Gangetic West Bengal on Monday. The monsoon is yet to touch Purulia, Bankura, parts of Burdwan and Birbhum, where it is expected in another couple of days. Then, it will move into Bihar,” Goldar said.

According to the weather office, the south-west monsoon had enveloped the entire Andaman Sea and parts of north-east Bay of Bengal on May 19.

By May 27, the monsoon had covered south, east-central and north-eastern Bay of Bengal.

The monsoon generally bids goodbye to Calcutta in the first week of October.

Man shot in Ultadanga: A 28-year-old man was shot in Ultadanga on Monday night. Pallab Dutta was admitted to R.G. Kar Hospital with serious injuries. Police said gang rivalry might have led to the shooting. No arrest has been made so far.    

Calcutta, June 5 
Beware of strangers who offer you food or soft drinks while travelling in public transport or even at Victoria Memorial or at Alipore zoo. The foodstuff or drinks could be spiked and you could pass out after a swallow. When you regain consciousness, you may discover that you have been deprived of all your money and valuables. Such cases are on the rise in different parts of the city.

Police on Monday issued a warning to Calcuttans to that effect.

Detective department sources said efforts were being made to track down gangs duping and robbing people.

Police, along with taxi associations and citizen groups, are launching an awareness campaign soon. Street meetings will be organised at various points in the city.

The city has seen a spate of such cases recently.

Four men hired a taxi in Alipore. Their destination was central Calcutta. When they reached, two of them went into an office and returned after some time. They apologised to the driver for taking so long and offered him a soft drink. He was then asked to drive to south Calcutta. But the man became unconscious a while later. One of the conmen took the wheel. The driver was thrown out of the vehicle near Southern Avenue, and the conmen fled the scene with the taxi.

Five engineers from Bihar went to Victoria Memorial, where they met two youth with whom they struck up a friendship. The five men were offered biscuits and soft drinks. All five lost consciousness and were robbed of all their belongings. A case was registered with the police. No one has been arrested.

A foreigner had gone to Alipore zoo. A young man of about 25 offered him biscuits and a soft drink. Again, the foreigner lost consciousness after eating the drugged food. When he came to, he realised that his expensive camera was missing. Though a complaint was lodged with the police. the conman could not be traced.

Police records reveal that women, too, are adept at duping the innocent. A gang of three women was arrested after they allegedly drugged two men in a taxi in north Calcutta in March and took away the money from their pockets..

During interrogation, the women said that for the past six months, they were running the racket in different parts of the city. They hailed from Naihati, in North 24-Parganas.    

Calcutta, June 5 
Owners of old vehicles in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area (CMA) will be asked to either replace their engines or switch over to alternative fuel, like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG), or turn the cars into scrap.

State minister for environment Manab Mukherjee said on Monday that a notification to this effect will be made in the next few months.

“We have not yet fixed the cut-off age for cars. It will either be 15 or eight,” Mukherjee said after a World Environment Day function at the state Pollution Control Board (PCB) head office in Salt Lake.

While hinting that the exercise will be introduced for private cars to start with, the minister said that the conversion and phase-out of all types of old vehicles will be done gradually. “We are just waiting for the particular amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles laws legalising the use of fuel other than petrol and diesel,” Mukherjee said.

“This time around, we are hopeful of getting a positive response from public transport operators,” Mukherjee said.

A move to phase out old taxis last year had evoked a strong reaction from transport associations, forcing the state government to scuttle the plan.

The government will also introduce the Bharat II emission norms for private, non-commercial vehicles to be registered in the CMA within a fortnight.

The Bharat II norms are akin to Euro II emission standards, but set in accordance with Indian driving conditions.

Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, who inaugurated the PCB’s website ( at the function, had a word of caution for his young environment minister. “There are many departments in our government whose work has an impact on the environment. Make sure that you coordinate with these departments,” Basu said.

He insisted that Mukherjee meet the heads of departments like PWD, public health engineering, urban development, irrigation, etc at least once a month.

“You have to keep a watch on the developments everywhere,” Basu said.

The chief minister, who promised extra staff for the PCB and the environment department, urged the department to utilise the services of the huge number of health workers and paramedics better.

While the city observed the United National Environment Programme’s World Environment Day on Monday, a number of green groups held a demonstration outside the PCB head office.

Later, a delegation met PCB chairman K.K. Bagchi and submitted a memorandum alleging that 25 per cent of the industries along the Hooghly were still polluting the waters.    

Calcutta, June 5 
On the first day after the fortnight-long summer holidays, three new judges — Joytosh Bannerjee, Hrishikesh Bannerji and Arunava Barua — were sworn in at Calcutta High Court.

But this has only sparked further trouble at the court, with members of the Bar Association, not satisfied with the inclusion of just three judges, going in for a secret ballot to decide whether they will launch an indefinite cease-work to press for their long-standing demands.

With Chief Justice A.K. Mathur administering the oath of office to the new judges, the total strength of the court has gone up to 30, still way short of the approved figure of 50 judges.

While Joytosh Bannerjee was chief judge of the city civil court, Hrishikesh Bannerji and Arunava Barua held the posts of registrar-general and state law secretary, respectively.

Uttam Majumder, former secretary of the Bar Association, said: “For the past 15 years, Calcutta High Court has never had its total strength of judges. We have made repeated requests to the Chief Justice of India and the Union law minister to fill the vacant posts. But all our requests have fallen on deaf ears.”

Majumdar added: “A Supreme Court ruling has laid down that advocates have no right to take the path of cease-work in course of their agitation. Now, we have no option but to go in for a secret ballot to decide our future course of action. If a majority of the members favour a cease-work, we will not hesitate to go against the apex court’s ruling.”

Setback for Left lawyers

Members of the Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA), a body of ‘Left’ lawyers, has suffered a setback in the elections to the state Bar Council.

Only four advocates from a panel of 19 members have made it to the 25-member executive committee of the council.

High court public prosecutor Kazi Safiullah, additional government pleader Manik Das, public prosecutor of city civil court Ashok Bakshi and Sovan Lal Hazra are the four DLA members who made the grade. Government pleader Subodh Ukil was among those who lost.    

Calcutta, June 5 
Two persons were killed and five people, including a police constable, were injured in road accidents in the city on Monday.

The deaths occurred when a private bus on route 17A crashed into a multi-storeyed building on New Road, in New Alipore.

Two drivers and two durwans of the building were chatting in front of the gate when the bus driver lost control of his vehicle at around 10 am.

Those killed were identified as Paresh Singh, 68, and Kali Bahadur Singh, 50. Both succumbed to their injuries in hospital. The two injured are in SSKM Hospital. Passengers said a passerby escaped death by a hair’s breadth. They beat up the driver and the conductors. Residents joined them to block the road.

Police arrived and while they were urging the people to lift the blockade, the driver and conductors fled. The bus was impounded. Traffic remained in a snarl for about an hour.

In another accident, two residents of Alimuddin Street were seriously injured after being hit by a lorry at around 4.30 am.

The lorry, laden with clothes, swerved and climbed onto the kerb, where the two men were sitting. They were admitted to Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital. The driver fled with the vehicle.

A constable of Posta police station was injured when a speeding minibus overturned off Cathedral Road at around 8 am. The constable, who was on his way home, was rushed to Calcutta Police Hospital in a critical condition. The bus driver, who passengers said was unnecessarily speeding, was arrested and the vehicle impounded.    

Calcutta, June 5 
The civic authorities flagged off a ‘clean-the-trees’ operation at Jadavpur on World Environment Day on Monday.

A band of civic engineers and officers of Borough XII office pulled down about 3,000 billboards from the trunks of roadside trees in 15 wards under the borough.

“I have directed all the borough executive engineers to pull down all types of publicity material from roadside trees”, municipal commissioner Asim Barman said.

With the CMC polls round the corner, political parties are making a mad scramble for trees to hang their slogans on, paying scant respect to environment laws.

City walls and trees are groaning under the burden of visual pollution caused by a collage of political graffiti and posters.

From Tallah to Tollygunge, there is not a single neighbourhood which is not sullied by garish graffiti as parties up the electioneering ante before the civic polls.

Defacing of walls and trees are punishable by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation Act, 1980, says Barman in the notification. But, his warning has so far fallen on deaf ears.

Member, mayor-in-council Kanti Ganguly, said: “I have asked my party workers not to use roadside trees to nail election hoardings and posters.”

Another mayor-in-council member, Sudhanshu Sil, said: “If brought to my notice, I am ready to pull down any poll campaign placard from trees.”

Visual pollution through poll propaganda is rampant in the Beleghata, Sealdah, Keoratala, Narkeldanga, Bhowanipore, Chetla, Tiljala, New Alipore, Topsia, Tangra, Behala, Jadavpur, Gariahat and Mudiali areas.

There are more than nine lakh trees in the city and more than 10 per cent have already been wrested by political parties and private businessmen.

“In some species of trees, the act of pushing nails into the trunk retards growth,” says CMC horticulturist Ranjit Samanta. Often, the stems start rotting at the holes left by the nails used to fix the billboards. “Trees add to the scenic beauty of an area, which is defiled if the trunks are cluttered with numerous posters and billboards,” he said.

Chief engineer (roads) Sajal Banerjee said all the borough executive engineers have been directed to send status reports on conditions of roadside trees in their respective areas within a week. Regarding election graffiti, he said: “It is a political affair and I cannot comment.”

However, political bigwigs of the city, cutting across party lines, feel there is no cheaper alternative for getting their message across to the masses than by using the walls.    

Ranchi, June 5 
The state vigilance department arrested Ranchi University vice-chancellor L.C.C.N Shahdeo and retired professor of the university’s English department S.D.Singh late last night on charges of irregularities in the appointment of teachers, official sources said here today.

They were taken to Patna to be tried by a special vigilance court after being produced before the judicial commissioner. Both Shahdeo and Singh were members of the screening committee set up in 1987-88 to monitor the appointment of teachers to colleges affiliated to Ranchi University.

The government had entrusted the vigilance department to probe the anomalies after several cases of bungling and irregularities were slapped on the screening committee.

The students’ unions along with the teachers’ associations today closed the university sine die in protest against the arrest of the vice-chancellor.

Terming the arrests as politically-motivated, the student leaders said the university would remain closed until the vice-chancellor was released and all charges against him withdrawn.

The arrest was a sequel to an FIR lodged by the vigilance department in Patna in 1995. The FIR said in 1985-86, 22 officials of the screening committee had recommended appointments of 300 teachers to the newly-affiliated colleges of the university in violation of the “university statutes.”

The FIR alleged that “rules” were flouted to make room for “favoured” candidates. Those named by the state vigilance department in its FIR include Shahdeo, who was then the dean, students welfare, retired professor S. D. Singh, finance officer M. Prasad, IAS officer N. Bhagat and former vice-chancellor Ram Dayal Munda.

The vigilance department has also named 100 more officials of Magadh University, Patna University, Bhagalpur University, Vir Kunwar Singh University, B. N. Mandal University, Sadho- Kanu University, Vinobha Bhave University and Mithila University, who were involved in the irregular appointments.

The arrest warrants were issued by the special court of the vigilance department, Patna, on June 1 following which a team of officials arrived here yesterday to execute the warrants. However, another accused Ram Dayal Munda, who is yet to be arrested, said he was in Ranchi at the time of the vice-chancellor’s arrest.

He denied reports that he had gone underground to evade arrest. Munda said that since the appointments were made 15 years ago, he remembered “very little about them.” He claimed there was “nothing irregular in the appointments.’’

Munda said none of the candidates, whom the state vigilance department alleged had been “favoured” by the screening committee, hailed from the Jharkhand region. “So there was no question of favouring them,” he added. The services of a large number of “these favoured teachers” were subsequently regularised by the state government.    

Imphal, June 5 
The Manipur government has promised foolproof security to the four Japanese nationals overseeing implementation of a Rs 490-crore sericulture project in the state.

The assurance was given by chief minister W. Nipamacha Singh when a Japanese delegation called on him here today.

The delegation comprises Masayuki Taga, first secretary in the Japanese embassy in New Delhi, and Kazuko Takesada, a representative of the Japanese Bank of International Corporation, which is funding the sericulture project.

Yasumasa Nagamine, the Japanese minister attached to the embassy, was also scheduled to come. However, he had to cancel the visit due to official work.

The two-member delegation arrived here yesterday to assess the progress of the sericulture project and take stock of security provided to the four Japanese consultants on deputation here. All four are employees of the Nippon Koei Company Limited.

On May 18, six militants took shelter in the building where the four consultants had been provided accommodation. This led to a shootout between the rebels and a team of police and Assam Rifles commandos. All six militants were killed in the incident.

Apart from discussing the security scenario with the chief minister, Taga and Takesada today also met deputy chief minister L. Chandramani Singh.    

Siliguri, June 5 
Activists of three student unions gathered under a single umbrella in Darjeeling and jointly took out a rally demanding immediate fulfilment of their long-standing demands today.

The rally was organised by All Gorkha Students’ Union, All-Bodo Students’ Union and All-Jharkhand Students’ Union. They demanded full-fledged states for their respective communities and protested last month’s killing of 23 Nepali-speaking people by extremists in Assam.

The rally marked the beginning of a joint campaign for statehood planned by the three student bodies yesterday under the banner of National Youth Forum for Smaller States, which was constituted two years ago.

Agsu president Roshan Giri, Absu president and forum chairman U.G. Brahma and AJSU working president Sudesh Mahato led the rally.

Carrying placards and shouting slogans like “No Bodoland, no rest”, “No Jharkhand, no rest”, “No Gorkhaland, no rest” and “Stop massacre of Gorkhas”, volunteers marched through the streets in the hill resort. Later, a mass meeting was held.

Addressing the gathering, Brahma said, “Agencies like the Bodoland Council and the Gorkha Hill Council can never fulfil the political aspirations of the Bodos and the Gorkhas as they are governed by Acts passed by their respective states.”

Condemning the killing of the Nepali-speaking people in Assam, he said, “Whoever has committed the crime must explain to the people why they have killed so many innocent people.”

In his speech, Mahato, who is an Independent legislator from Sili near Ranchi, emphasised the need for a joint struggle by all communities seeking statehood.

Giri warned that the Gorkhas would not keep quiet if the government does not stop attacks on them in Assam.

Besides the Agsu, a number of political and social organisations in the hills and Sikkim, including the CPM, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, the Communist Party of Marxist Revolutionaries and the All India Gorkha League, have opposed the recent killings in Assam.

The forum decided to send a delegation to Delhi in July to press for immediate formation of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Bodoland, Gorkhaland, Vidarbh, Telengana, Bundelkhand and Kodagu states. Leaders of the forum would begin a tour of all these areas from June 20.

The forum will also try to rope in All Kamtapur Students’ Union, which is fighting for a separate state for Rajbanshis living in the plains of north Bengal.    


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