Crossfire over baby death
Salt Lake springs no surprise
Trinamul tug-of-war over civic posts
HBO billed for weekend beam
Metro minus the driver every 110 seconds
Engineering test date row at Jadavpur
Two convicted in Yatri Nivas rape case
Service provider offers total Internet solution
BJP asks China to foot flood bills
‘Billion dollar’ haul in Ranchi

 
 
CROSSFIRE OVER BABY DEATH 
 
 
A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
Neena Mishra is speechless. Her husband, Indian Airlines pilot Captain H.S. Mishra, puts up a brave front. Their daughters, Richa, 8, and Kshama, 6, have gone quiet since tragedy struck their Salt Lake home.

The Mishra household is mourning the death of six-month-old Baby.

“I lost my only son due to the sheer negligence and inhuman attitude of Dr Debashis Roy. Baby was suffering from dehydration and he could have been saved if Roy had treated him properly,’’ alleges Mishra, while Richa and Kshama stare blankly at the toys which their father had brought home for Baby.

According to the death certificate issued by the Peerless General Hospital, on July 3, Baby died of “respiratory failure, which was due to gastric haemorrhage’’.

“He was the darling of the family and the neighbourhood... we lost him due to the callous attitude of the doctor,” says the pilot, tears starting to roll down his cheeks.

“Dr Bikas Bhattacharya, who attended to Baby at Peerless, told us that he could have been saved if he had been brought in even an hour earlier,” adds Neena, haltingly.

Dr Debashis Roy denies the allegations: “The prescriptions are there for any senior physician to scrutinise whether I was wrong... The family had neglected the child. He was suffering from fever and dehydration for three-four days and they did not bother to consult any doctor. By the time they telephoned me on Sunday night, his condition had deteriorated... I am being made a scapegoat.’’

The doctor says Mishra and his family have been threatening him over telephone and so he has even filed a first information report at Maniktala police station.

“He is just trying to save his skin. How could we have neglected our six-month-old child?,’’ demands Neena.

Baby, says his father, took ill on the evening of July 2. “It was a Sunday and we consulted Dr Roy, who said Baby was suffering from mild fever and dehydration. He prescribed Electrobion and some other medicines and assured us that the child’s condition would improve.’’

But when the child’s condition seemed to deteriorate, Dr Roy was contacted at 10.45 pm. “He told us to wait for some more time. A little while later, he advised us to get the child admitted to Rameshwara Nursing home, in Ultadanga,’’ said Mishra.

After examining Baby, Roy, apparently told the parents that Baby was suffering from dehydration and though his condition was “stable”, he should be shifted to Peerless, as he might need a ventilator.

An attending doctor told the Mishras that the nursing home did not have a child ventilator and so was not equipped to handle the crisis.

“When Dr Roy told us that all arrangements have been made at Peerless, we put Baby in an ambulance and took him to the hospital, at 5.30 am on July 3,” said Mishra.

The RMO of the hospital, apparently, told the family that he had asked Dr Roy not to send Baby as the child ventilator was “not free”. But seeing the child in a critical condition, they wheeled him into the Intensive Care Unit.

By then, it was too late. Baby died at 7 am.

A lady at the Peerless Hospital enquiry checked the records and told The Telegraph on Wednesday that “the child had been brought in at the last moment and he had not responded to treatment.”    


 
 
SALT LAKE SPRINGS NO SURPRISE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
The ruling CPM on Wednesday managed to retain its control over Bidhannagar Municipality for the second consecutive term with its nominee for the chairman’s post, Dilip Gupta, defeating his rival, Trinamul Congress candidate Anupam Dutta, by a single vote.

Gupta’s victory was expected, as the CPM bagged 12 seats in the 23-member municipality. Trinamul captured 11 seats.

There was tension between two rival parties over the chairman’s election. The new building of the municipality at FD Block, where the election was held, had been cordoned off by a 500-strong posse of policemen. Vehicles were diverted along other routes.

It took four hours for 23 commissioners and government officials to complete the election. There was consensus among all the 23 commissioners, who elected Tapan Talukdar of the CPM as the president to conduct the election process. The chairman’s election ended at about 6 pm— four hours after it started.

Government officials conducted the election said that ballot papers were not ready and papers were prepared after Talukdar was elected president. Gupta, however, took oath as chairman for the second consecutive time immediately after his election.

The CPM was confident of victory. Still, heavyweight leaders like district CPM secretary Amitava Bose, chief whip Rabin Mandal and Amitava Nandy, all equipped with mobile phones, were moving at the new municipality building. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta came immediately after Gupta was elected. However, no senior Trinamul leader was present at the venue, except Bhupen Seth, who joined the party recently. CPM leaders and hundreds of party volunteers practically took over the building much before the election began. Their supporters sat on most of the seats kept reserved for the invitees in front of the building.

The absence of transport minister Subhas Chakraborty was noticed by everyone, including the Trinamul commissioners. “He is busy in Delhi. He informed us that he would not be able to be here today”, said Amitava Bose, district party secretary.

But CPM insiders and party cadre are suspicious over Chakraborty’s absence. “Subhasda had stayed away during the bypoll in Ward 16 too. That had been a very crucial day for us,” said a CPM supporter.

But they relaxed after Gupta was declared elected as chairman, with all the 12 CPM commissioners voting for him. Though all important district party functionaries were present at the venue, members of the crowd that had gathered in front of the building were not from Salt Lake. Most of them had come from Baranagar, Panihati and Kamarhati.

Even Manas Mukherjee, CPM leader from Belghoria, was monitoring the situation over mobile phone. Mukherjee and his men had roughed up journalists during the June 25 poll in Salt Lake.

Among Trinamul leaders present at the venue was Jyotipriya Mallik, district party leader. Mamata Banerjee, who initially had said she would be present, had reportedly been advised by her aides that as chances of a win were slim, she should stay away.    


 
 
TRINAMUL TUG-OF-WAR OVER CIVIC POSTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
The resentment brewing in the Trinamul Congress camp during the past two days over the selection of the mayor’s council came to the fore on Wednesday, forcing mayor Subrata Mukherjee to administer the oath of office to members without mentioning their departments.

The bitterness among councillors over departments allotted to them peaked in the morning when a phone call from the mayor’s office asked commissioner Asim Barman not to put up nameplates on the office doors of the members, mayor-in-council (MIC), as “there might be last-minute changes”.

During the oath-taking, Kanti Ganguly, CPM’s former MIC member in charge of conservancy, ridiculed Mukherjee for not disclosing the individual portfolios.

Immediately after the ceremony, the mayor called his council members in a meeting to reshuffle some departments, but met with vehement resistance. He had to remain satisfied with re-distribution of responsibilities of several departments.

Pradip Ghosh, MIC member in charge of slum development, was awarded additional charge of car-parking management, which is usually monitored by the deputy mayor. The BJP’s Meena Devi Purohit, deputy mayor, said her party would decide whether she would accept or refuse the arrangement.

The sports portfolio was detached from Hridayanand Gupta’s parks and gardens department and tagged on to Rajib Dev’s drainage and sewerage.

Pradip Ghosh called Mamata Banerjee in Delhi,complaining that many junior colleagues hadbeen allotted more important portfolios. Mamata is said to have left the decision with the mayor.    


 
 
HBO BILLED FOR WEEKEND BEAM 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
Even as the spotlights are trained on the STAR blackout, the Turner stable’s premium Hollywood movie channel, Home Box Office (HBO), is likely to make a quiet entry into a majority of the city’s cable homes by this weekend.

HBO, officially launched on March 22 but blocked by operators pending price negotiations and a review of programme content, may be switched on in RPG Netcom areas by Sunday, according to sources in the cable industry.

Meanwhile, chances of a partial return of STAR, too, have brightened, with the Forum of Cable Operators meeting RPG Netcom on Wednesday and asking for STAR Plus and STAR News. However, the other leading cablemen’s body, the Cable Television Operators’ Association, is not keen on STAR News. It will pitch for Plus and HBO.    


 
 
METRO MINUS THE DRIVER EVERY 110 SECONDS 
 
 
BY SUVRO ROY
 
Calcutta, July 12 
Metro drivers will be able to operate their trains by just the press of a button. There will be a Metro every 110 seconds .

These seemingly impossible dreams will become reality after Metro Railway instals the Continuous Automatic Train Control (CATC) system on its trains, at a total project cost of Rs 70 crore.

Tubes in France, the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Egypt already have this system. In Calcutta, this autopilot system will become operational by the year-end.

“It will virtually be a driverless train. With this system, we can operate a train every 110 seconds. We want Metro to be used to its fullest capacity of carrying five lakh passengers each day, and so we want to increase the number of rakes,” said I.I.M.S. Rana, Metro Railway general manager. At present, between two and three lakh passengers commute by Metro every day.

The CATC system involves three sub-systems. They are the automatic train protection (ATP), the automatic train operation (ATO) and the automatic train supervision (ATS). Sophisticated gadgets have been brought from the French company, Alstom, and the trials have been successful. The ATP will continuously monitor the train’s speed, watch its distance from the one ahead of it, and ensure it does not exceed the speed limit. “While the ATP is on, and the driver tries to increase the speed, the system will automatically apply the emergency brakes and bring the train to a halt,” said M.L. Chugh, deputy chief signal and telecom engineer of Metro Railway.

The ATP ensures that the distance between the trains is the minimum so that another train can enter the platform soon after one leaves. This system will decrease the passenger load on one train and distribute it among others, because people will have to wait for less than two minutes for the next one to arrive.

The ATO system is basically an autopilot — it will do everything a driver does, like accleration, speed regulation, coasting and braking. The system will stop the train by giving out signals to programmed sensory equipment fitted on the tracks

The rear motorman of a Metro train will have to open and shut doors and make announcements.

Chugh said the ATO will relieve the driver of his monotonous duties so that he can concentrate on watching the tracks and seeing what is ahead.

However, in an emergency and if the driver feels it is necessary, he can take over control and apply the brakes manually.

The ATS enables officials to monitor the position and progress of trains from a central location. The routes of the trains can also be set from a central control room by this system.

This system has a central computer, in which the various time tables of trains will be stored. This computer will help run the trains automatically, as per the time table for that particular day.

“The CATC is a fool-proof system. For instance, if there is any problem with the sensory equipment fitted on the tracks, the train will not run at a high speed. It will stop,” said Chugh.    


 
 
ENGINEERING TEST DATE ROW AT JADAVPUR 
 
 
BY A STAFF EPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
A month after teachers of Jadavpur University (JU) withdrew their nearly-three-month-long movement, a fresh controversy is brewing on the campus.

This time, students are angry over the authorities’ delay in announcing the dates of a number of examinations of the engineering and technological courses.

Students, as well as some teachers, feel that the authorities were “deliberately” delaying the announcement of dates of the engineering courses as they intended to “punish” the students for supporting the teachers’ movement.

A large number of examinations of first-year, second-year and third-year students in the engineering department are pending. The examinations were scheduled and were to have begun from the end of March.

The final year exams, however, were not affected by the strike as they were exempted from it.

“Usually, the results are announced by this time every year. Our careers will be jeopardised if the authorities delay the exams any further,” said a student of the mechanical engineering department.

A first-year student of another engineering department, who stays in the university hostel, said last month, he expected the exams to be held any day.

“I had to stay back in Calcutta and could not visit my parents at Bankura as there was no certainty about when the exams would be held,” he said.

Rajat Banerjee, JU registrar, nonetheless, denied the charge. “We have already held the exams of the science and arts faculties and we are trying to complete the other pending exams as early as possible. A lot of work related to the process is pending due to the strike. We are trying our best to overcome the problems,” said Banerjee.

The teachers of the engineering faculty had played an active role in the agitation and students belonging to that faculty had backed the teachers’ decision to boycott all examination duties during the strike.

The strike was organised by the Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA), which is dominated by non-CPM members.

During the movement, the striking teachers boycotted all examination-related duties, like preparing question papers, examining answer scripts and invigilation at examination halls.

Surprisingly, the university has already announced the dates of a number of examinations of the science faculty, which were also postponed because of the teachers’ strike. The majority of the science faculty teachers had not supported the strike sponsored by JUTA.

“The striking teachers announced their decision to withdraw the strike on June 16. We completed setting the question papers immediately after they sent us the formal letters for doing the job,” said a teacher of the engineering faculty.

The teachers submitted the question papers within the first week of this month.

“We are surprised that the authorities are deliberately trying to tarnish the image of the teachers,” a teacher regretted.    


 
 
TWO CONVICTED IN YATRI NIVAS RAPE CASE 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 12 
A private clearing agent and a railway employee have been convicted and seven others acquitted in the Hanifa Khatun rape case.

City civil and sessions court judge Sanat Ganguly on Wednesday convicted Ram Samiran Sharma, a clearing agent, and Siyaram Singh, an employee of Indian Railways, for “attempting to rape” a Bangladeshi national at Pathuriaghata in Calcutta. The judge, however, acquitted the seven other accused in this case, who have been serving prison term since February, 1998. The sentences will be announced on Friday.

Hanifa Khatun, 28, a Bangladeshi woman who entered West Bengal on February 24, 1998, went to Howrah station to take the Jodhpur Express to Ajmer Sharif two days later. The train was scheduled to leave at midnight.

Having reached the station early, Hanifa rented a room (no. 102) at the Yatri Nivas. At 9 pm, when she went out to have her dinner, Hanifa was abducted by some miscreants, who brought her to a house on Pathuriaghata Street.

Around midnight, residents heard a cry from a building and called Jorabagan police station. The police rescued Hanifa and arrested four persons, including Ram Samiran and Siya Ram.

Next day, five more were arrested, including two lady attendants at Yatri Nivas — Meera Devi and Uma Kundu — and a rape case was started against the accused.

A public interest litigation was filed by Chandrima Das, an advocate of Calcutta High Court, demanding financial compensation to the victim. Accepting the petition, a division bench presided over by then Chief Justice P.S. Mishra, directed Indian Railways to pay Rs 10 lakh to Hanifa as damages.    


 
 
SERVICE PROVIDER OFFERS TOTAL INTERNET SOLUTION 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 12 
He set eyes on a computer for the first time in 1992. He picked up his first English newspaper in 1992. He came to Calcutta from Haryana in 1992. Today, he is busy chalking out plans to capture the Calcutta skies.

Poised on the top floor of a Rawdon Street office block, looking out over the city with which he has developed “a strange bond”, 27-year-old Santosh Sarraf unveils his great millennium dream — XPS online, waiting to be launched next week.

“I want to give Calcuttans an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that is wholly and truly customer-driven,” says the Express Communications Pvt Ltd boss. “It is based on my firm belief that Calcutta remains the most genuine market which responds to quality and commitment.”

His ISP’s USP: “state-of-the-art infrastructure set up by IBM”, which, in turn, would enable him to provide “complete customer support”. “No other ISP in the eastern region seems to be paying any attention to infrastructure in the East,” claims Sarraf.

“When I realised, late last year, that the user here was not being able to utilise the Internet to its full potential or to his full advantage, I started toying with the idea of an ISP.”

The B.Com graduate from St Xavier’s College joined hands with US-based “friend and expert” Vikrant Binjrajka, roped in IBM and went about creating a “total solution ISP”.

Sarraf views XPS online as his tool to educate the Calcuttan about using the Net as an integral, even indispensable, part of daily life. “That’s precisely why a huge emphasis will be on our 24-hour help desk, which will guide our consumers on everything, from how to deal with your ‘modem not responding’ signal to finding research material on the Net,” explains Sarraf, during a walk-through of the rooms housing hi-tech server, Fireball, power generator, etc.

The investment for providing the city with a “smooth and high-reliability pathway” has been a whopping Rs 7 crore, plus. But Sarraf is not complaining.

Dismissing Caltiger’s free-for-all gameplan as being as something he “just cannot agree with”, Sarraf has decided to peg his rates on, or just below, the VSNL mark.

“The final details are being worked out. Starting from the date of our launch, we are targeting 25,000 customers in year one,” says Sarraf. “We have the technical capability to cope with 100,000, but since our primary aim is to educate our users about the wonders of the Net, we would rather rope in a smaller number through direct marketing and prove our quality of service.”

Signs off the new (ISP) kid on the block: “Somehow, no one takes this city seriously. Even IBM, which is now ready to appoint us its first dedicated enterprise solution partners in the East, was surprised I was going in for such investments in Calcutta. But I have a real strong feeling about doing something in and for this city.”    


 
 
BJP ASKS CHINA TO FOOT FLOOD BILLS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, July 12 
The BJP has demanded compensation from Chinese authorities for the damage caused by recent floods in Arunachal Pradesh. The floods have damaged property worth nearly Rs 100 crore and resulted in the lost of 30 lives.

A BJP statement issued here today said the recent floods were not natural since “satellite photos have revealed that there was a major breach in a big dam over the Tibetan Tsangpo river which flows to Arunachal as the Siang nd down to Assam as the Brahmaputra.”

BJP national secretary in-charge of the Northeast, P.B. Acharya told newsmen in Imphal today that local people in Arunachal Pradesh had seen high waves rising in the Siang. A five-member BJP delegation led by Acharya had recently apprised the matter to Union home minister, L.K. Advani. Acharya demanded adequate compensation from Tibetan and Chinese authorities as per international law for faulty construction of the dam in Tibet, resulting in unprecedented floods in Arunachal Pradesh.

He also demanded relief to the affected area by the Centre and state. The BJP delegation which met Advani and other central ministers prevailed upon their demand and formed an “all-party relief committee” to supervise and help the government in relief works.

BJP has formed a “Citizens Flood Relief Committee” and sent truck-loads of relief materials containing clothes, mosquito nets, steel plates and glasses to the relief camps located in the Pasighat and Boleng areas.

BJP leaders have further appealed to the Assam government and other states to help the committee with relief materials. Union Agriculture minister, Nitish Kumar has already made an aerial survey of the affected areas.

Acharya has also been directed by Advani and BJP president Kushabhau Thakre to visit Arunachal Pradesh and send a report to Delhi.    


 
 
‘BILLION DOLLAR’ HAUL IN RANCHI 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Ranchi, July 12 
A large cache of arms and ammunition was seized from the Jan Sangharsh Mukti Morcha by the police in separate raids at Chanho and Brahmani village under Chandwa police station in Ranchi district today. Ranchi city superintendent of police Anupama Singh and senior superintendent of police Gupteshwar Pandey, who conducted the raids, told newsmen that basing on tips from a arrested criminal the police raided the residence of one Ranjan Lal at Brahmani village.

Lal is said to have links with the extremist group of the organisation. The criminal, who tipped the police, was arrested last night from Hindpiri near Ranchi. The arms haul included a 36 HE police hand grenade, 5 police SLR bullets, 7.62 mm gun cartridges along with large quantities of gunpowder, detonators, fuse wires and splinters. Cash worth Rs 95,000 was also seized from Lal’s possession. He was taken into custody and interrogated.

In a simultaneous raid at Chanho, police officer Anupama Singh said two double barrel guns, four police uniforms, three country-made pistols and a large quantity of explosives along with a stolen Hero Honda motorcycle was recovered. The police is making a thorough inventory of all the arms seized from the two locations, she said. Senior superintendent of police Pandey said a fake foreign currency and Indian revenue tickets racket has also been busted today.

The police received information that a gang is trying to circulate US dollars in the city, he said. On raiding the residence of one Binod Kejriwal in Hinoo, the police recovered two souvenir notes worth US$ 1 million and US$ 1 billion, Nepalese currency along with fake revenue tickets.

While the souvenir notes would have been used to dupe innocent people, the fake revenue stamps revealed the existence of a stamp racket in the state, he said.    

 

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