Two-year jail term fixed for ragging
Bloodstained nightwear rules out actress suicide t
Slanging match at soulsearch
ISI versus ISI in web war of words
Two suspended for clash at hospital
Eligibility order forces lay-off at colleges
Campaign blitz for Crorepati
State-of-the-art laparoscopic surgery centre inaug
Plea on bodies for research
Rebels torch Sangh school in Tripura

Calcutta, July 10 
Freshers need not dread their first few days in college any longer. Ragging has been banned. And this time, it’s official.

The West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Act, 2000, will come into effect from August this year.

Under this Act, ragging and eve-teasing in educational institutions will be treated as a cognisable offence. Those found guilty of violating the Act will face imprisonment up to two years and/or a cash fine of Rs 5,000, besides being “dismissed from the institution where he or she is pursuing his or her studies and shall not be re-admitted to that institution any more’’.

The Left Front government, under pressure from parents, students and some institutions to curb the menace, had placed the Bill in the Assembly in March 2000, which was passed unanimously. The Governor gave his consent to the Bill earlier this month.

“We have noticed that ragging practised by a section of students is causing unwarranted and unwanted suffering, both physical and psychological, to the victims. Their guardians are also being subjected to severe mental torment and agony,’’ said state higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty.

He added that ragging and eveteasing were “vitiating the academic atmosphere”. What was ‘fun’ for some, was turning out to be killing — often literally — for others.

The Act prohibits all any form of ragging which which “causes or is likely to cause any physical or psychological harm or apprehension or shame or embarrassment to the student”.

“Ragging and eveteasing will be a punishable offence... at any place on the campus, whether classroom, library, common room, playground, hostel, or college canteen,’’ the Act states.

Come August, if a student registers a complaint, the authorities of the institution or the departmental head will conduct an inquiry. If the complaint is found to be “true, the student involved will be punished as per the provisions of the Act.

The convicted student, however, will get a chance to appeal before a committee constituted by the government. The decision of the committee, in such a case, shall be final. If the authorities fail to comply with the Act, they can be pulled up by the committee.

“The Act will give the college authorities the legal sanction they were denied so long in order to put and end to ragging on the campus,” concluded the education minister.    

Calcutta, July 10 
Probing the alleged murder of television actress Rumni Sengupta, the CID said on Monday it was trying to crack the case by way of a convincing reconstruction of the crime in the absence of a witness.

T. Chattopadhyay, inspector-general, CID, said “the needle of suspicion” pointed towards Debangshu, the dead actress’ director-husband. The tools for recreating the scene of the crime are the weapon — a block of wood used in the household — and a blood-stained nightdress Rumni had been wearing on the evening she died.

“We have to press for his conviction on the strength of circumstantial evidence because there is no witness to the crime,” Chattopadhyay told The Telegraph.

According to the CID report with the court, Rumni, an impulsive and emotionally-charged person who was a heavy drinker, was allegedly murdered and hanged from the ceiling fan by Debangshu at the couple’s Jadavpur residence.

However, Chattopadhyay said the murder was not pre-meditated, as circumstantial evidence suggested Debangshu, also heavily drunk at the time, “attacked her in a fit of rage.”

He then tried to arrangee the room to make the murder appear a case of suicide.

Rumni’s blood-stained nightdress was a giveaway, the CID report says. Debangshu set about misleading the police by taking off the nightdress and slipping a salwar-kameez on the corpse.

But the salwar did not have a drawstring. “No woman will wear a salwar without a drawstring, not even at home,” a CID official said. Debangshu then tied the dupatta around her neck and hanged the body from the ceiling fan. This led the police to initially believe that Rumni had committed suicide and initiate a case of abetment to suicide against Debanshu. He was arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by Rumni’s mother.

The CID was later called in to probe the murder angle. On the basis of statements made by the couple’s neighbours, and forensic experts, the investigators concluded that the dupatta seized by the police had not been used by the actress to hang herself.

The CID immediately appealed to the court that Debangshu be remanded to police custody for further interrogation. Debangshu broke down under sustained grilling and helped the police recover the dupatta he used to hang his wife.

Debangshu suspected his wife of having an affair with her former husband.    

Calcutta, July 10 
Stung by the loss of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation to arch-rival Trinamul Congress, the CPM has decided to institute a committee to probe the reasons for the Left Front’s poll debacle.

At an emergency Left Front Committee meeting, which lasted for over two hours on Monday morning, the CPM gave the go-ahead for the probe panel. Politburo member Biman Bose was present to conduct proceedings.

Although the meeting was convened to formally instal former member, mayor-in-council (conservancy), Kanti Ganguly, as leader of the Opposition, it soon turned into a slanging match, with leaders hell-bent on blaming one another for the Front’s flop show.

The meeting assumed special significance as it was the first held by Front leaders to take stock of the poll results.

A section of the leaders present at the meeting felt that defections, either to the Congress or the Trinamul in recent months, had hit the Front hard.

Sources said CPM leaders grilled Front partners for losing their traditional vote-bank in Calcutta. The RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI — three minor Front partners — virtually drew a blank this time. The CPM alone won 53 wards, the RSP three, the CPI two and the Bloc only one.

“We suffered our worst fate in these civic polls after one of our sitting councillors defected to the Congress just before the elections,” admitted Forward Bloc leader Nihar Roy Chowdhury.

Worried by the growing trend of defection, the CPM has decided to conduct a ward-wise survey across the city, tapping grassroot-level workers and party functionaries.

“Such a study is essential to ascertain the reasons behind our poor showing in the civic polls,” said CPM leader and Left Front convener Raghunath Kusari.

“The Front fared badly in a majority of civic wards, particularly those in south Calcutta, despite our best efforts to improve the quality of life in the city during the last 15 years,” said Kusari.

Anointing Ganguly leader of the Opposition, Kusari said the Front councillors would cooperate with the newly-installed mayor-in-council members to carry out “development work for the betterment of the city”.

Promising to don the role of “a constructive Opposition”, Ganguly said he would extend all help to the present body for the city’s development.

“But we will definitely raise our voices if attempts are made to stall development work in the city by diversion of funds,” warned Ganguly.

RSP’s Hena Chakraborty was appointed deputy leader of the Opposition. Another CPM councillor, Sudhansu Sil, will be whip of the Front.

Kusari said the Front councillors will soon launch an agitation to mount pressure on the Centre to release adequate funds for the city under the megacity project.

Asked if they were willing to join forces with the ruling Trinamul Congress councillors on this score and lobby in Delhi, CPM leader Rabin Deb said: “We may consider this if a feeler comes from the Trinamul camp.”    

Calcutta, July 10 
“Our organisation’s name is ISI. And no other organisation can exist with this name” — this was the message flashing on the homepage of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) on Monday morning. It was 9.30 am when experts of Computer and Statistical Services Centre, one of the departments of the 70-year-old institution, logged on, only to realise that they were “under cyber attack”.

The Internet homepage of the institution had been hacked, allegedly by the Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. The first paragraph was missing, and, in its place, was an angry message from the ‘ISI’. On condition of anonymity, an employee of the institution said: “At first, we feared all vital documents had been erased. But later, our experts restored the homepage from the back-up. But some files, including all e-mails received after July 3, are missing.”

The message, from some people claiming to be members of Pakistan’s ISI, was in abusive language aimed at India and Indians. The premier scientific institution was ordered to change its abbreviated name “immediately”, as it clashed with that of the “intelligence agency”.

“The message was full of derogatory remarks and rude jokes involving Indians in a question-answer format,” said the ISI employee.

For example:

Q: What is the colour of the Indians?

A: Like a black Dobermann dog.

Q: Who are the Indian patriots?

A: None.

Referring to all Indians as “perverted”, the hackers blasted Jawaharlal Nehru and raised the Kashmir issue. On an outline map of India, they marked out portions from the north-western to the north-eastern borders of India, including Calcutta, and put a chilling note below: “We are all over here.”

The authorities at ISI pushed the panic button, rushing in experts to undo the damage. By afternoon, the homepage was restored.

Realising that the hackers had managed to crack the sophisticated security arrangements of the ISI homepage and fearing further hacking, the authorities e-mailed a message to each employee: “The homepage has been restored and you are advised to keep a back-up of all your files and valuable documents and you are requested to change your password frequently because of a security problem.”

Computer and Statistical Services Centre chief S.C. Kundu said: “We have overcome the problem. Now, our computer experts are trying to identify and trace the files that have gone missing. Efforts are also on to try and determine who was responsible for the damage by identifying the server name and other security systems of the computers used by the hackers.”

The authorities at ISI are also contemplating legal action. But the problem is, they aren’t sure against whom, or how.

“In a case like this, proceedings can only be initiated under something called the Cyber Law. If the ISI wants to take legal action against those who have hacked into their site, the authorities will have to follow the procedures laid down by that law,” said former high court judge Bhagabati Prosad Banerjee.    

Calcutta, July 10 
Tension prevailed at the Assembly of God Hospital and Research Centre on Monday after two of its employees were suspended after a clash between a section of hospital employees and management staff on Saturday.

On Tuesday, the employees will demonstrate in front of the executive director’s office, protesting the suspension.

On Saturday morning, some employees, led by Samiran Mondal and Sudin Mondal, went to the office of the executive director to announce the formation of a registered trade union, the Assembly of God Hospital and Research Centre Employees’ Association’. But they were stopped by the management staff and a scuffle ensued.

Subhas Dasgupta, president of the association, said: “Whenever the employees went to the office of executive director Z.P. Dadina, she maintained she would talk only to a registered union.”

That day, the employees went to her office to inform Dadina that the registration number had been obtained. “But without giving them a hearing, she got them beaten up by hired goons.” Sudin Mondal and Samiran Mondal were injured.

Dasgupta said: “We have been demanding implementation of our nine-point charter of demands. Twenty nurses lost their jobs when they protested the breach of an Indo-US agreement by hospital authorities concerning acceptance of gifts, including medical equipment and supplies running into crores of rupees.”

Dasgupta also alleged that in some cases, the hospital authorities, “instead of giving concessions to the poor, often charged exorbitant rates for services”.

Samiran Mondal said: “As we protested these illegal activities, the hospital authorities threatened us with dire consequences. They have even stopped us from entering the premises, which they cannot do. On Tuesday, we will protest the suspension”.

The executive director, on her part, alleged: “Sudin Mondal and Samiran Mondal were suspended as they attacked my security staff and other officials with the help of outsiders. On Tuesday, they will be chargesheeted.” About the sacking of the nurses, the hospital chief said: “That’s a different issue and they have moved the labour court.”

Dadina added: “A section of employees has forgotten that this is a hospital catering mainly to poor people and no one has the right to disturb normal functioning. If they had anything to say, they should have sent two representatives, instead of creating such a commotion.”    

Calcutta, July 10 
A number of well-known, government-run colleges in Calcutta and some in the districts are facing a sudden scarcity of teachers, as they have had to do away with the services of all part-time teachers.

Thirty-five colleges in Calcutta and elsewhere in the districts had to lay off part-time teachers as their qualifications don’t meet a new government stipulation.

The new rider makes it mandatory for all government colleges to employ only part-timers who have cleared either the SLET or the NET examination.

It also recommends a hike in the monthly remuneration of part-time teachers from Rs 400 to Rs 2,000 per month.

According to the previous parameters, post-graduates securing a certain cut-off percentage were eligible for appointment as part-timers in government-run colleges. P.K. Ganguly, director of public instruction, said the new stipulation is the result of a University Grants Commission (UGC) directive.

Students will be the worst affected after this order, as part-timers used to teach many important portions of the curriculum.

The new regulation, however, makes retired government college teachers eligible for part-time teaching posts.

The SLET (state level eligibility test) is conducted by the state College Service Commission for recruitment in state-funded, under-graduate colleges of West Bengal. The UGC holds the NET (national eligibility tests). Candidates who have passed NET can seek teaching jobs anywhere in the country.

The tests for recruiting teachers at government-controlled colleges are conducted by the state Public Service Commission (PSC).

Some leading colleges in the city affected by the new provision are Presidency College, Maulana Azad College, Bethune College, Lady Brabourne College and Goenka College of Commerce and Business Administration.

At Maulana Azad College itself, the services of at least 12 teachers had to be terminated. “We will now approach the PSC to get the vacant posts filled”, said S. Bhattacharya, principal of Maulana Azad College.

N.C. Mukherjee of Presidency College said: “We are trying to get some retired teachers to join us.”

Pradip Dutta, member of an association of government college teachers, said there were many colleges in the districts which employed more part-time teachers than full-time ones.

He feared that it would be difficult to complete the syllabus in those colleges if the government fails to take steps to fill the vacant posts with NET and SLET teachers.    

Calcutta, July 10 
Even as STAR’s mega hit Kaun Banega Crorepati? remained out of bounds for large parts of the city, a big-scale promotion drive for the Amitabh Bachchan show was being carried out in the city on Sunday and Monday by an agency appointed by the broadcaster.

A motorcade of 15 bikes travelling across the city and hitting prime market areas in north and south Calcutta, carried boys and girls wearing KBC T-shirts and sporting Bachchan cut-outs to spread awareness about the game show, blacked out in many cable homes in the city, thanks to the impasse in the RPG Netcom areas.

The canvassers distributed ‘currency’ notes, and asked passers-by four simple questions about the KBC show. Those who answered successfully were given KBC branded prizes.

Meanwhile, more cable operators have taken decoders and while the STAR channels are already back on Lansdowne Road, areas of Salt Lake and Lake Town are expected to switch on by Tuesday, according to STAR sources.    

Calcutta, July 10 
An advanced centre for laparoscopic surgery, stated to be one of the best in the eastern region, was unveiled in Salt Lake on Monday.

Promoting the institute is a husband-wife team, Om and Aruna Tantia, who, along with associates, have handled nearly 7,000 endoscopic surgical procedures in the past two decades.

“Our objective is to provide Calcuttans with quality and personalised surgical care with the help of modern equipment at an affordable price,” said the two doctors, who have held several teaching workshops in different parts of India , spreading the efficacy of endoscopic surgery.

S.K.Todi, chairman of AMRI, a hospital in the joint sector, opened the institute at Salt Lake.

The institute can take in a total of eight patients, but the capacity will be expanded to 40 before long, the promoters said, adding that the ratio of doctors and nursing staff to patients would go up accordingly.

Surgeons can perform laparoscopic cholecystectomy, appendectomy, hernia repair, ovarian cystectomy, ectopic pregnancy and other general and gynaecological procedures in the lone operating theatre at the institute.

One of the high points of the infrastructure is the ultrasound scalpel, reportedly the third in eastern India, required for bloodless surgery. Three chip video cameras and digital video equipment will be made available for safe endoscopic surgery and documentation of procedures.    

Calcutta, July 10 
Ganadarpan, a city-based NGO, and Brojo Ray, a teacher of anatomy, have filed a joint petition at Calcutta High Court seeking changes in the policy on disposal of unclaimed human bodies at morgues and hospitals in order to sustain research in medical colleges.

They said medical research is almost on the verge of collapse in all state medical colleges due to an acute shortage of corpses. At the same time, there are a large number of unclaimed bodies at various hospitals and morgues. The court has directed the health secretary to file a report stating the government’s stand on the matter.    

Agartala, July 10 
Suspected National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) militants backed by the Church torched Ratanmoni Sevashram school and the students hostel run by Vanabasi Kalyan Ashram, an offshoot of the RSS, at Ananda Bazar in North Tripura’s Kanchanpur sub-division. The school run exclusively for tribal students was set on fire by militants at 1 am today. One of the inmates spotted the flames and woke up others and took shelter in an adjoining Assam Rifles camp.

All the 40 boarders and hostel staff survived the fire but the school and its furniture were destroyed. Addressing newspersons, state general-secretary of the Vanabasi Kalyan Ashram Balaram Santra said tribal militants backed by the Church had been systematically targeting non-Christian school, including government schools. He said the ashram had initially planned to set up 90 schools for tribals this year in the state. “But it will be difficult now”, he added.

Over the past four years, Church-backed militants have attacked religio-cultural institutions in Tripura but the state government failed to take any action.

The involvement of Church in militancy came to light in April last year when a pastor of the Baptist church, M. Gumnam Halam, was arrested by the police from Bagpasha under Dharma nagar sub-division following seizure of explosives from his residence. He has been booked under National Security Act.

The state government for the first time admitted that Christian missionaries were converting people in interior areas. Chief minister Manik Sarkar corroborated the charge in reply to a query by Congress legislator Prakash Das in the Assembly.

Agitation suspended

The Meghalaya College Teachers’ Association has temporarily suspended its three-daylong strike which was scheduled to begin from tomorrow, our correspondent reports. MCTA general secretary M. Syiem said they have suspended the strike temporarily after receiving some commitments from the state government.

Earlier, the state government in a notification had said the pay of teachers taking part in the ceasework would be deducted as per the state government’s “no work, no pay” policy.    


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