Cup final raid nets cricket bookies
Victim sensed murder plot
Fake note trail leads to Nepal, Bangla
No site with a view for Indira statue
Hologram plan to seal civic fraud
Centre moots proactive strategy
Skeletons, skulls found in Assam
N-E marches for lasting peace
Resignations jolt Neepco

Calcutta, June 8 
Even as Wasim Akram was running in to bowl to Marvan Atapattu at the floodlit Bangabandhu Stadium on Wednesday evening, Calcutta Police was closing in on cricket bookies in central Calcutta.

In raids carried out on the night of the Asia Cup final, sleuths swooped down on a gang of bookies and arrested Pawan Kumar Sharma and Giriraj Gandhi.

A sum of Rs 45,500, a computer, a television set and several cellphones were seized from the room where the betting was on.

Interrogation has revealed that Sharma and Gandhi were running an international betting racket that stretched up to Dubai.

A passport seized from Sharma shows that he was a frequent visitor to the United Arab Emirates. The police are now checking whether he had any links with either Dawood Ibrahim or any of his henchmen.

The Indian team may not have made it to the finale, but cricket betting was on in full swing in Calcutta.

For the past month, the police have been keeping track of suspected bookies in the city, in anticipation of the Dhaka tournament.

First, a list of all persons believed to be connected with the cricket betting racket was drawn up. Then, the police zeroed in on those who were “habitual offenders”.

A round-the-clock vigil was mounted on the offices and homes of suspected bookies since the tournament started on May 28.

Finally, on Wednesday morning, an informer called up investigating officer Alok Kumar Mondol of Jorabagan police station to tip him off that betting was on in full swing at a house on Brajadulal Street, in central Calcutta.

The police promptly got in touch with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to keep them posted.

At around 9 pm on Wednesday, a team from Jorabagan police station swooped down on the bookies and arrested the two.

“Both were taken completely by surprise, as they were unaware of the vigil being kept by the police to monitor their activities,” officers said.

Sharma and Gandhi were produced in the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate on Thursday and remanded in police custody for four days.

The mobile phone printouts of the two show that they had received a number of calls from Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai on the day of the Asia Cup finals.

The police believe that all these calls were related to betting.

“We are now examining some names and phone numbers we have retrieved from the diaries that the two maintained,” said a senior official.

Gandhi and Sharma have allegedly told the police that they raked in large sums of money during the Asia Cup tournament.

They have also confessed to operating the cricket betting racket in the city for the past two years. Earlier, they used to function from Hyderabad.

In April, the city police had stumbled upon information that some city bookies were in touch with Sanjeev Chawla and Rakesh Kalra and sought further information on the international match-fixing syndicate from the Delhi police. The city police are still investigating the match-fixing angle to the betting racket.    

Calcutta, June 8 
Kunal Bose feared for his life and was aware that wife Aparajita’s lover, Nantu Roy, was plotting to kill him.

This was revealed on Thursday with the discovery of a letter written by the computer professional on May 25, the day before he was murdered on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

The letter was recovered from a drawer in his AJC Bose office on Thursday morning.

“If I am missing, you will know that Nantu has killed me. In that case, my movable and immovable property will go to my two sons. I won’t give anything to Munmun (Aparajita). She is foolish and is guided by Nantu,’’ Kunal wrote in the letter, which was not addressed to anyone.

Jugal Kishore Mukherjee, officer-in-charge of Tiljala police station spearheading the probe, said the letter was probably meant for Kunal’s mother.

The police also found a note where Kunal had scribbled Nantu’s name and Adarshanagar address in Behala.

His bank documents and passbook were recovered.

“Kunal and Munmun had a joint savings bank account,” Mukherjee said.

The police will visit Kunal’s residence to look for a diary. Investigating officers said he maintained a diary where he wrote poems. “We have to compare Kunal’s handwriting,’’ an officer said.

On the night of May 26, three youth discovered a profusely-bleeding Kunal lying on a lonely stretch of the Bypass.

He had been slashed with a bhojali. Kunal was removed to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

But the dying man whispered some names, which prompted the police to arrest Nantu and Munmun for their alleged involvement in the murder.

During interrogation, Nantu tried to blame it all on his driver Gautam.

He alleged that Gautam, who was having an affair with Munmun, had killed Kunal.

Munmun was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. But Nantu suddenly complained of “chest pains” and was taken to National Medical College and Hospital.

“It is a ploy to evade interrogation. He complained of a pain in the chest in the morning and was removed to the hospital at 11.30 am,’’ Mukherjee said.

Meanwhile, Munmun told the police officers that Nantu has threatened her with “dire consequences” if she revealed the truth.

“I will kill you once I come out of jail if you tell everything to the police,’’ Nantu allegedly told Munmun while they passed each other at the police station.

Munmun broke down during interrogation on Thursday.

“I never wanted Kunal to be murdered. It was Nantu and Gautam’s plan. I used to have arguments with Kunal and he would often hit me. I found a soulmate in Nantu and he took advantage of that,’’ sobbed Munmun.

The police are toying with the idea of making Munmun a state witness in the murder plot.

Officers said they are also investigating fraud charges against Nantu.    

Calcutta, June 8 
The police zeroed in on a group of money-exchangers with connections in Nepal and Bangladesh to run their fake dollar racket in the city during the past five years.

Investigators said they were keeping a close watch on a man living in Bongaon, near the Indo-Bangladeshi border.

“We have evidence that he is the link between the city money-exchangers and suppliers of the dollars in Bangladesh and Nepal,” they added.

This came to light after the arrest of five persons in the Jorasanko area on Wednesday.

Dollars worth Rs 26 lakh were seized from their possession during a series of raids in different parts of the city.

Police said preliminary investigations revealed their connections in Bangladesh and Nepal, from where the fake dollars were being despatched to the city for the past five years.

The gang members in Bangladesh and Nepal supplied the dollars to the city money-exchangers, who sold them at a cheaper rate.

Sources said that the kingpins operating from foreign countries used to receive payments through the hawala racket.

“We have got clinching evidence which confirms that a group of foreigners in Nepal are using north Bengal as their entry route,” police said.

Police have been contacted in Siliguri and North 24-Parganas following the revelation of the entry route.

During interrogation, the accused told the police that they were involved in the circulation of fake Indian currency, postal stamps and share transfer certificates, too.    

Calcutta, June 8 
So full is downtown Calcutta with Bengal’s pantheon of political gods that there simply isn’t room for one more: the administration cannot find a place for a statue of Indira Gandhi in the Esplanade-Maidan area.

The government was hoping the Congress will agree to instal the statue at sites on Central Avenue, Hatibagan and Gariahat. But Congress leaders rejected the suggestions. Their leader, the Congress has argued, deserves pride of place and must be seen in close proximity with Subhash Chandra Bose, Gandhi, Karl Marx and Lenin.

For eight years, the 12-foot bronze statue of the assassinated Prime Minister is gathering dust. Come hail or rain, the statue bears all with fortitude in the open courtyard of sculptor Ramesh Pal’s studio. It cost Rs 6 lakh to make.

A delegation of the Pradesh Congress will soon meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi and urge her to take up the matter with the CPM. A few months ago, the government decided to instal the statue at Dorina crossing near the Esplanade Metro station. The Congress was happy and leader of the Opposition Atish Sinha wrote to the chief minister expressing his pleasure.

As the Congress prepared for a public function, the administration informed the party that the police had objected.

“We have to cancel our decision to set up the statue at Dorina crossing as both the police and transport department raised strong objection because a new road will go through the site,’’ said PWD minister Kshiti Goswami.

“The construction of the new road has has begun. The road will ease traffic congestion at the Chowringhee crossing and Esplanade East. If the statue is installed there, it will be difficult to build the road. Besides, we cannot deviate an inch from the plan,’’ said chief traffic and transportation engineer Ajit Bhattacharya.

The police pointed out that the foot of the statue will soon become a place for political rallies that could disrupt law and order.

But the Congress is adamant. “I am surprised by the attitude of the state government. How can they neglect a leader like Indira Gandhi?’’ Sinha asked.

Goswami said he had suggested an alternative site near the Rani Rashmoni statue at Esplanade, but the Congress leaders did not like it. “If they still do not like the spot, then the statue of former chief minister Ajoy Mukherjee, which is also ready, will be installed there,’’ the minister said.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings held the Congress responsible for delay in installing the statue. “The entire Maidan area is under the jurisdiction of the army. If the Congress wants its leader’s statue to be there, let them talk to the army and obtain approval. We have no objection,’’Goswami said.

All the while, sculptor Ramesh Pal is agonising over the delay. “I have put my heart into making the statue. It pains me that my creation is getting spoilt,’’ he said.    

Calcutta, June 8 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is contemplating the use of a hologram on its money receipts and other important documents, as fake CMC money receipts, birth certificates and spot-fine receipts have flooded the city. It is now estimated that more than Rs 50 crore is siphoned off every year by unscrupulous civic employees issuing false money receipts and other civic documents. A few months ago, two persons were arrested for making money from fake birth certificates. They told the police that parents often sought ‘doctored’ birth certificates to get their children admitted to reputed city schools. Three days ago, licence officer D. Dasgupta detected several fake health licence ‘fees’ receipts as owners of eateries came to renew licences. Even though the receipts were found to have been issued by a senior bailiff, no one has been arrested so far in this connection. A trader, who produced a fake money receipt, told the licence officer that a CMC officer visited his shop and introduced himself as a bailiff. But he didn’t accept the health licence fee on the plea that he had left the receipt book in his office. Before leaving the shop — and after enjoying a bite — the ‘bailiff’ told him he would send a man with the receipt book to collect the fees the next day. And he kept his word. After this incident, the civic authorities barred bailiffs in the health department from collecting health licence fees from traders. “Corruption is rampant among civic employees,” admitted a senior CMC official. A fake money receipt of the CMC had the following discrepancies: the logo was not clear; even though issued in 2000, the ‘F’ form was in use in 1995; ward was misspelt as ‘wart’; the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, was printed as 1945. Commissioner Asim Barman said: “We are exploring the feasibility of using a special type of money receipt which is difficult to copy”. Besides a trade licence, establishments dealing in food articles in the city are required to obtain permission under Sections 419 and 421 of the CMC Act, 1980, from the CMC’s health department, which is popularly known as ‘health licence’. There are more than 50,000 traders in the city who require this licence under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954, and must renew it annually. The fees vary between Rs 100 and Rs 5,000 a year. Barman has now shifted the onus of collecting health licence fees from the health department to the licence department. Dasgupta said thanks to the corrupt practices, the CMC earned only Rs 25 lakh from health licence fees every year, which should have been more than Rs 1 crore.    

June 8 
After a two-day spot assessment by a team led by Union home secretary Kamal Pandey, the Centre today conceded that the “law and order situation” in Tripura has worsened. It called for “proactive” measures to counter insurgency in the strife-torn state.

The team, comprising joint secretary, northeastern affairs, G.K. Pillai, director-general of BSF E.N.Ram Mohan and director-general of CRPF M.N.Sabharwal, returned to the capital today.

“The situation is serious. It has worsened with unabated abductions and killings of even innocent civilians”, a member of the team told The Telegraph on his arrival here.The home secretary advocated stringent measures to counter insurgency.

He said: “There was need for improved co-ordination as well as accountability on the part of the paramilitary forces in their respective areas of control”. The results of the new strategy would be visible within two months, he claimed. Ruling out any political package for the rebels, Pandey said the insurgents had to come forward for talks.

Tripura today has been divided into “three regions of control”, explained additional secretary P.D.Shenoy. “The Assam Rifles, CRPF-BSF and the local police control these areas.

In this context, the forces will be accountable for security in their respective areas of control and the ministry of home affairs will review the situation after two months,” he added.

Shenoy said the Union home secretary in his report to the Centre said one additional India Reserve battalion and two battalions of the BSF were deployed in Tripura.

Pandey said both the tribal and non-tribal population of the state were feeling insecure and it was the duty of the Centre and the state government to “ensure security.’’ The home secretary held detailed discussions with state director-general of police B. Vora, chief secretary V. Thulasidas, inspector-general of police (law and order) Saleem Ali, inspector-general of police (Intelligence), special secretary, home, Nepal Sinha and GOC, 3 Corps Lt. Gen R. K. Nanavatty regarding the law and order situation. He also met the Governor, the chief minister and leaders of the Opposition parties.

Addressing a news conference later, he said the Centre has already asked the Bangladesh government to make efforts to flush out ISI agents from the country.

A Left Front delegation submitted a memorandum to the Union home secretary yesterday in this regard.

Ruling out a truce with the militants, Pandey said he was not aware of the statements made by Brig Panwar.

He added that though the Centre had no plans to extend the Disturbed Areas Act, it could be considered if the state government desired so. The Opposition Congress, BJP, TUJS, Janata Dal (United) and Trinamul Congress also briefed him.They reiterated their demand for President’s rule following the recent ethnic riots.

The Congress team was led by Opposition leader Jawahar Saha and PCC president Birajit Sinha. The BJP in its memorandum also requested the Centre not to extend the Governor’s tenure. The Left Front demanded more forces.

Pandey said though the state was clamouring for more security forces, it had adequate forces at its disposal.

“What is more important is the optimal utilisation of security forces,’’ he said, adding that it was not necessary to call in the Army now. Fifteen battalions of CRPF, four battalions of Assam Rifles, six battalions of Tripura State Rifles, besides the state police are deployed in Tripura. Eight BSF battalions are also deployed along the border.    

Guwahati, June 8 
City police today recovered three skeletons and three skulls besides some other items, including clothing on the river banks of the Brahmaputra at Dumapara near Chandrapur.

The investigation was carried out under the supervision of an executive magistrate following reports that several bullet-riddled skulls were seen in that area by the local people. The find has created a sensation bringing to light the unabated murders by secret killers in the state.

Additional superintendent of police (city) P.K. Dutta said a police search party was rushed to the site this morning and investigate into the matter. He admitted the recovery of the two skeletons from the spot and saying these have been sent to the forensic laboratory. “Only after the tests, we will be able to ascertain the nature of death,” Dutta said.    

June 8 
Caught in the quagmire of violence for over two decades now, the people of the Northeast today rose in unison against various militant outfits that have spread a reign of terror across the region.

Lakhs of people from all walks of life participated in peace rallies and processions in the state capitals of Guwahati, Imphal, Kohima and Shillong. The message was the same in all these rallies — terrorism will not be tolerated anymore.

The procession in Assam’s capital city was led by chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, who said only a people’s uprising would force militant outfits to review their strategy. Senior Asom Gana Parishad members, freedom fighters, government officials, schoolchildren and members of several non-government organisations all marched through the thoroughfares of the city, shouting anti-terrorism slogans. Schoolchildren also carried placards urging militant outfits to abjure violence.

Though the Congress welcomed the peace rally, none of its leaders showed up. Neither did any member of other non-AGP parties.

In the Meghalaya capital of Shillong, too, thousands of people thronged the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex at Polo Ground for a peace rally organised by the state government.

Children carried placards bearing messages like “No more killings” and “Violence is like hell and peace is like heaven”. Governor M.M. Jacob attended the rally.

The scene was much the same in Kohima. The ground in front of the MLAs’ hostel in the state capital was chock-a-block with people. Rallies were also held at all district and subdivisional headquarters in the state.

At least 4,000 people participated in another rally in the Manipur capital of Imphal. The rally was preceded by a procession which originated at the Polo Ground and ended at the Khuman Lampak Sports Complex.

Only the Manipur People’s Party and the CPI were unrepresented at the rally. Similar rallies were held in Bishenpur, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati and Tamenglong.    

Shillong, June 8 
Paralysed by an acute financial crisis, the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco) has suffered another jolt with two of its directors resigning from their posts.

Sources told The Telegraph here today that finance director P.K. Chatterjee and technical director S.B. Dey resigned following “differences” with their superiors in the power corporation.

Neepco began regulating power supply to the seven northeastern states on June 1 due to non-payment of Rs 933.61 crore in outstanding dues. However, power supply was restored the next day in accordance with a directive from the Gauhati High Court.

Chatterjee said he decided to step down from his post due to intra-organisational problems. “It is a personal decision. Don’t ask me anything more,” he said.

Sources said Chatterjee submitted his resignation letter to the Neepco management on Tuesday. He is likely to relinquish charge after expiry of the mandatory three-month notice period, they said. “I have worked with Neepco for many years. So I think it is the right time to quit,” he said.

Dey was tight-lipped over his reported resignation. “It is an internal matter. I cannot comment on it,” he said.

Other Neepco officials also declined to comment on the issue.

Sources said “differences” between the two officials and the Neepco management cropped up on June 2. The finance director did not even attend the review meeting held in chairman-cum-managing director P.K. Kotoky’s office chamber.

Sources said the meeting was “very crucial” as it had been convened to discuss the implications of the Gauhati High Court’s order on regulation of power supply.

Kotoky was unavailable for comment today. Officials said he was very busy and could not speak to anyone.

It is believed that the resignation of the finance and technical directors is a sequel to the Neepco management’s “arbitrary decision” to regulate power to the northeastern states.

Both were opposed to the move, sources said, adding that they did not subscribe to the Neepco management’s theory that regulation of power would force the seven northeastern states to clear their dues by May 31.    


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