Uncle-husband in dock for torture
Engineering college on St Thomas grounds
Students against religion tag
Not quite a crore, but a lakhpati no less
Face-off over mayor’s file-removal slur
Drunk RAF jawans beat up Kalighat OC, driver
Indo-Bangla peace bid on border

 
 
UNCLE-HUSBAND IN DOCK FOR TORTURE 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 13 
He married his niece to further his business, and almost got away with it. Until his ‘wife’ got wise and hauled him up in court for exploiting and torturing her.

Young and handsome Manas Roy, who runs a public call office in Jadavpur and married his pretty niece, Krishna, to attract customers to his booth, was on Thursday arrested and produced in the Alipore criminal court after his wife lodged an FIR, saying that he had been “mentally and physically torturing” after tricking her into marriage.

The only bright spot for Roy was his temporary release from custody till the court debated whether his marriage to his niece was legally valid.

Twenty-seven year old Roy had been running his PCO in Jadavpur for the past three years but had been getting increasingly disheartened, as his customers dwindled while those of his rivals grew by the day. It was then that a “novel idea” struck him: he decided to rope his attractive niece into the business, as he was certain that she would lure customers by her charm.

There was only one hitch: she lived in a village in Joynagar, South 24-Parganas, and commuting daily to the Jadavpur booth would be a problem.

Initially, Roy decided to live with the problem. Last September, he asked Krishna to attend to his business and the girl used to make the long journey from her village daily. But two months later, as his fortunes began to look up, he decided instead to live with her.

In November, he rented a house in nearby Sonarpur and asked Krishna to move in with him. He explained that this was only “pragmatic business sense” and his niece agreed. However, for Roy, business soon turned to pleasure and the two became romantically involved.

As neighbours began to complain about their incestuous relationship, a second brainwave struck Roy. With his “business sense” ticking again, he decided that the best way to keep both the business and the relationship going was to marry Krishna.

A besotted Krishna, quite unaware of her uncle’s motives, happily agreed and the two tied the knot this January.

But the strains of married life soon got the better of Roy’s business sense. According to the complaint lodged by Krishna, a few months after their “marriage”, her uncle began to regularly beat her up and mentally torture her. Finally, Roy moved out of the Sonarpur apartment, leaving Krishna to fend for herself.

Krishna also mentioned in the FIR that one possible reason for this could be her uncle’s unfounded fears that she had “developed feelings” for another man.

But unable to take Roy’s torture any longer, Krishna filed the FIR at Jadavpur police station last week. The police took cognisance of the complaint and picked up Roy on Thursday.

Krishna’s lawyers told the court that since Krishna’s husband had abandoned her, he should pay her a maintenance so she could lead a decent life. Her lawyers insisted that Roy be arrested on grounds of torturing his wife.

But when Roy’s lawyers told the court the “husband and wife” duo were, in fact, uncle and niece, the judge decided to give the case a closer hearing. Roy was released till the court went into further details of the case and determined the legal status of the “marriage”.    


 
 
ENGINEERING COLLEGE ON ST THOMAS GROUNDS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 13 
The sprawling grounds of St Thomas’ Boys’ School, Diamond Harbour Road, Kidderpore. That’s where the first private engineering college in Bengal, run by the Calcutta Diocese, is coming up.

The diocese, under the Church of North India (CNI), is all set to unveil St Thomas’ College of Engineering and Technology this academic session.

The college is awaiting final approval from the All-India Council of Technical Education. N Kolay, deputy director of the Council in Calcutta, said the final inspection report will be ready by the end of this week. A separate building for the college has been set up on a portion of the sprawling 23 acres of school grounds.

“If everything proceeds smoothly, the college should start functioning from the 2000-2001 academic session,” said G. Banerjee, registrar of St Thomas College.

But there is controversy brewing on the campus already. Voices of protest are emanating from a section of members of the Calcutta Diocese, which runs the school administration and is also responsible for running the proposed college.

“The college is against the spirit of the provisions of the St Thomas’ School Constitution [Vide St Thomas’ School’s Act passed by Parliament],” the group contends.

In a letter to the state government and Council officials in Calcutta, the Diocese members, while acknowledging the setting-up of the technical college as a “good venture”, said “positive steps” should be taken immediately to “save the interests of the school”. They feared that one of the oldest English-medium schools in the city would suffer with a college coming up on the same premises.

Asked about the objections, a Calcutta Diocese official said: “Such complaints which aim to stall a noble project should be dumped into the waste-paper basket.”

Meanwhile, an advisory council, comprising Shankar Sen, former state power minister, S.M. Chatterjee, former vice-chancellor of Bengal Engineering College, and other prominent technocrats, is monitoring the groundwork at the proposed college.

“We will not compromise on quality. For this, all possible measures will be taken,” said registrar Banerjee. Satyasadhan Chakraborty, higher education minister, said the government has completed the “necessary inspection” and the report was found “satisfactory”. “We have given our opinion to the college after conducting the inspection,” the minister added.

Starting with 240 seats, the St Thomas’ College of Engineering and Technology will offer undergraduate degrees in engineering streams like computer science and engineering, information technology, electronics and computer engineering, and electrical engineering. The courses on offer will be affiliated to Kalyani University.    


 
 
STUDENTS AGAINST RELIGION TAG 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 13 
Some students of the government-run Presidency College have made a fresh demand this year for doing away with a column on the religion of applicants in the admission forms for students.

Admission to various courses in the college is likely to begin by the end of this month, after the publication of the Higher Secondary results.

In 1999, a similar demand was made by Presidency College students, while it had been embroiled in another controversy. They had raised the demand for allowing Shamim, a first-year Muslim student of the institution, to stay at the college’s Hindu Hostel. This had sparked a row on the campus.

The students carried out a long-drawn-out movement against the government last year, demanding abolition of the century-old tradition of permitting only Hindu students to stay at Hindu Hostel.

Later, when the authorities refused to allow Shamim to stay at the hostel, the students of the college appealed to the government to abolish the system of specifying the religion of a student in the admission forms.

The students claimed that even in 1999, before the admission of the first-year students had started, they had urged the authorities to do away with the column on religion in the forms.

But, they said, though the authorities then had accepted the demand of the students in principle, the column on religion remained intact in the admission forms last year too.

“There is no need at all to retain the column on religion in admission forms. It is surprising that the governing body is yet to make its decision on the matter, even after getting a clearance from the government,” said Nabarun Sikdar, a second-year student and member of the Presidency College Students’ Association (PCSA).

“It is surprising that the college is delaying the process when Calcutta University has already abolished the religion column,” said Roshni Mukherjee, a student.

The college is affiliated to Calcutta University, which discontinued the system two years ago.

The principal of the college, N C Mukherjee, however, said that necessary measures were being taken in this regard.    


 
 
NOT QUITE A CRORE, BUT A LAKHPATI NO LESS 
 
 
BY SUBHRO SAHA
 
Calcutta, July 13 
“Which of these villainous characters was not played by Amrish Puri — Bhujang, Mogambo, Shakaal and Chuniya?”

As the deep baritone of the Big B spelt out the question, Sayantan Das of Chandannagar, no Bollywood buff, knew he was stumped.

That was the sixth question of the ‘hot feeder’ round, and for the economics honours student of Ashutosh College, a sink-or-swim one. Failure to come up with the correct answer would knock him out of the sixth episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati? show and dash his dreams after coming so far.

“I had access to three lifelines,” recalls Sayantan, the first KBC entrant from this part of the country to have struck big bucks on the STAR Plus mega game show: a cool three lakh, twenty thousand rupees.

The 20-year-old could wriggle out of the spot, using the third lifeline, ‘call-a-friend’, after the first two, computer elimination of wrong answers and an audience poll, had left him confused.

His friend from Asansol, Siddhartha Saha, turned saviour with the correct answer — Puri hadn’t played the role of Shakaal.

This kept Sayantan in the race for Crorepati and by the time he had finally faltered on the 11th poser (who was the first food and agriculture minister of free India?), he had pocketed his prize.

The son of Chandannagar’s mayor, Amiya Das, Sayantan plans to donate Rs 20,000 to his old school, the Purulia Ramakrishna Mission, and buy a personal computer. “Ma knows what to do with the rest of the money,” he said, struggling to control his excitement, in spite of running a temperature on Thursday.

Sayantan, who called up the KBC show and registered on May 25, was among the lucky 10 to be invited to Mumbai for a shoot of the main show at Film City.

“When I set out for Mumbai with my dad on June 17, I told myself, let me just enjoy this trip,” recounts Sayantan, who swears he was never an Amitabh Bachchan fan till he met him. “In fact, I was more excited about meeting Siddharth Basu, who has been a personal favourite from his Quiz Time days.”

But once he met the megastar, Sayantan was bowled over by his charm. “His calm assurance settled the butterflies in my stomach and I was really ready for the show.”

Amiya Das, who is all for investing the KBC dividends in his son’s higher education, is full of praise for the show: “Programmes like these can provide youth with a purposeful preoccupation.”    


 
 
FACE-OFF OVER MAYOR’S FILE-REMOVAL SLUR 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 13 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee fired his first salvo on Thursday, as if to set the tone of things to come at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

The ruling Trinamul Congress-BJP combine and the Opposition Left Front looked headed for a showdown as the newly-installed mayor accused his predecessor and one of his key council members of removing important CMC documents before the power balance tilted against them last month.

At a crowded news conference, Mukherjee, quoting unnamed sources, said: “It’s time Prasanta Chatterjee and Kanti Ganguly returned the files they had taken away.” The mayor admitted that when Chatterjee and Ganguly had taken away the files, they were officially entitled to do so. But now, the time had come to return them. “Let me see whether they return those files or not,” he added.

Reacting sharply to the slur, leader of the Opposition Kanti Ganguly said: “Mukherjee must restrain himself from making such irresponsible and rash comments from the chair of mayor... He should either prove his allegation or apologise for his statement. Otherwise, we will make him regret his reckless remark.”

According to Ganguly, Mukherjee was expected to know that controlling officers are custodian of all important files. Besides, movement of files are recorded in the office register. Before levelling such charges, he should have checked the registers, said Ganguly.

The CPM was not alone in condemning the mayor’s remarks. CPI leader Chanchal Ghosh said: “It was a befitting allegation made by a two-in-one mayor with a dubious political identity... Subrata Mukherjee is against the Congress in the CMC for his mayoral post and for the Congress in the Assembly for his MLAship.”

While Mukherjee (who will be meeting acting chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya on Friday evening), was courting controversy, mayor-in-council (conservancy) Mala Roy, had to hit the streets following an explosion in a garbage vat at Chitpur.

A conservancy worker, Bishwambhar, sustained serious blast injuries and was admitted to R.G. Kar Hospital. “The CMC will take full responsibility for his treatment,” said Roy.

She said several bombs had been dumped in the vat. “They might have been kept there deliberately to discredit the conservancy department,” claimed the mayor-in-council.

Later in the day, Roy held a meeting with all district conservancy officers to chalk out a plan for the “improvement of conservancy services in the city”.    


 
 
DRUNK RAF JAWANS BEAT UP KALIGHAT OC, DRIVER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 13 
Additional officer-in-charge of Kalighat police station Aloke Ghosh and his driver were beaten up by a group of drunk Rapid Action Force (RAF) jawans when the officer tried to prevent them from brawling on Turf Road, in south Calcutta, on Wednesday night.

The joint commissioner of police, armed police, Kiriti Sengupta, said he received a complaint in this regard on Thursday.

“I have ordered an inquiry and asked the officers concerned to submit a report,” he added.

The incident occurred around midnight when the additional officer-in-charge, now acting OC of the police station, was on night patrol in the area.

He noticed some drunken youth raising a ruckus in front of a marriage house.

He sent his driver to stop them from doing so. A heated exchange followed after the youth identified themselves as RAF jawans. They prevented the driver reporting the matter to the OC. The RAF jawans then went inside the house to attend the marriage.

When Ghosh tried to release his driver from the jawans’ clutches, they allegedly attacked him. Some local people joined the jawans. Outnumbered, the OC and his driver fled the scene.

Lalbazar control room was informed and a team of policemen was sent to the spot.

Senior officers were angry over the incident and they demanded stern action against the RAF jawans involved in the incident.

An enquiry began to fix the responsibility. A complaint was lodged with the local police station.

Some officers said that the RAF personnel, who are deployed at times of crises to bring the situation under control, are supposed to be more disciplined.

“The incident is shocking, as members of a disciplined force are involved in the attack on the OC,” they added.    


 
 
INDO-BANGLA PEACE BID ON BORDER 
 
 
FROM ANIRBAN ROY
 
Shillong, July 13 
The Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) today resolved to “stop transborder firing to maintain peace” along the Indo-Bangladesh border. This was decided at a flag meeting between the two countries at Dawki today.

Tension had engulfed the Indo-Bangla border since July 10 following a protracted “gunbattle” between the BSF and BDR. The “gunbattle” started after Indian border guards gunned down three Bangladeshis trying to smuggle out boulder and limestone near Muktapur in Jaintia Hills district.

Sources said the “firing” continued even yesterday at Pyrdiwah in East Khasi Hills district and the BSF had “directed” the villagers “not to come out of their houses.’’

However, there was no report of any casualties on the Indian side. Residents of Dawki and adjacent areas were also asked not to venture out, sources said.

Inspector-general of Border Security Force (BSF) V.S. Sirohi had “requested” his Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) counterpart yesterday to send his commanders to today’s flag meeting to resolve the crisis “amicably.”

“It was an unnecessary firing by BDR and we had to retaliate,” Sirohi told The Telegraph, adding that they have categorically asked Dhaka to immediately stop the firing to maintain “peace” along the 442-km-long Meghalaya-Bangladesh border.

The BSF was represented by commandant of 37 battalion S.K. Vohra and senior officials of the unit while the BDR was represented by Sylhet division commander, sources said.

Though the BSF claimed that three “intruders” were killed in the firing, BSF officials argued that the “killing” of three Bangladeshi intruders was “legal” as they were nearly 200 yards inside the Indian territory.

The Indian officials also asked their Bangladesh counterpart to “ensure” that “smugglers” do not try to sneak into the border to “steal” boulder and limestone in future.

The BSF jawans also seized a countryboat yesterday and claimed that Bangladeshi “smugglers” were using it for ferrying boulders.

However, BDR officials “refused” to agree that Bangladeshis had sneaked into Jaintia hills district to “steal” boulders and limestone. They also alleged that BSF personnel “had fired the first shot,’’ forcing them to retaliate, sources said.

Earlier, Meghalaya chief minister E.K. Mawlong, while making a statement on the floor of the House in April, had urged the BSF to intensify its vigil along the sensitive international border to check transborder crimes and infiltration.

He had also requested the BSF to reduce the distance between border outposts (BOPs).

Director-general of BSF E.N. Rammohan has directed Sirohi and few other senior officials to rush to Bangladesh on July 16 to hold discussions with BDR officials and find “permanent solutions” to the transborder problems. A joint meeting has been organised at Chittagong, sources said.    

 

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