Drug-bust car chase nets queen bee
After the drizzle, the deluge
One-stop shop for phone
Add ‘Inchess’ to your gambit
Mayor to move Delhi for funds
Strike not to affect exams
Bru rebels kill 12 of rival camp
Four Garos abducted for non-tribal ties
Nod for CBI probe into MLA murder
Naxalites plan martyrs’ shrine in Orissa village

 
 
DRUG-BUST CAR CHASE NETS QUEEN BEE 
 
 
BY CHARLES NANDI
 
 
She is the queen bee of an international narco-terrorist ring operating in the city.

But 32-year-old Samser Begum, who has been running the operations for a few years now, reached the end of the road on Saturday morning following a dramatic car chase on the highway. She is now in the custody of the CID.

Samser, along with associate Mohammad Anish Khan, was caught red-handed while they were ferrying a huge consignment of heroin in a Tata Safari on B.T. Road early on Saturday.

Inspector-general of police, CID, T. Chattopadhyay, said his officers seized 1.6 kg of heroin, valued at nearly Rs 2 crore, near Barrackpore, about 20 km north of the city.

“While Samser is a resident of Metiabruz, Khan stays at Palm Avenue, in south Calcutta. The CID officers, led by Prabir Sanyal, impounded the vehicle in which the consignment was being carried,” Chattopadhyay added.

Fluent in Hindi and Urdu, the young woman chalked out despatch routes for the drugs. “Samser, standing at five foot three inches and dressed in a salwar kameez, does not have the looks of a criminal,” said a CID officer.

Sources in the department said they had received the tip-off about the drug smuggling racket a few days ago.

“They usually send their consignments across in Tata Sumos, using various Indo-Bangladeshi border routes in North 24-Parganas,” CID officials said.

Several traps were laid along the roads leading to the Bangladesh border from early last week. The detectives finally struck gold on Saturday morning.

During a routine search of vehicles on B.T. Road, the CID sleuths spotted a grey Tata Safari speeding towards Barrackpore’s Riverside Road, which leads to the border.

They tailed the vehicle for two km in an Ambassador. The fugitive Safari was finally intercepted by another CID car waiting at an intersection.

Initially, the search yielded nothing. But, with a little more effort, the sleuths discovered the heroin packets tucked away in various compartments of the car.

The sleuths arrested Samser Begum and Anish Khan, but a third occupant managed to flee.

Samser and Anish are said to be part of an international racket with operations in Bangladesh and Nepal.

During interrogation, it was revealed that the two had been carrying on the operation for more than two years from the city. They received their supplies from counterparts in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources said that the gang members may have links with the ISI in Pakistan and some terrorist groups in Bangladesh and Nepal. They also received consignments from Kashmir some time ago.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are sure that powerful and well-to-do professionals are involved. We don’t want to disclose any further details for the sake of our investigation,” said Chattopadhyay.    


 
 
AFTER THE DRIZZLE, THE DELUGE 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
 
After intermittent showers for two days came the deluge. Incessant rain lashed Calcutta for 10 hours since Saturday night, disrupting normal life on soggy Sunday.

The weatherman has warned that heavy showers are likely to continue in the city and elsewhere in south Bengal for the next two days. “This is normal monsoon rain. The south-west monsoon is now vigorous over Gangetic West Bengal,” said R.N. Goldar, director, Alipore meteorological office.

Commuters waded through water in several low-lying areas as traffic was thrown out of gear.

Waterlogging was reported in Cossipore, Chitpur, Gol Park, Southern Avenue, Dhakuria, Amherst Street, Minto Park, Ultadanga, Narkeldanga, Burrabazar, Swinhoe Street, Gokhale Road and Ballygunge Place.

The presence of Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee spurred the newly-formed Trinamul civic board into action.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, accompanied by member, mayor-in-council (sewerage and drainage), Rajiv Deb, took a tour of the city.

At 2.30 pm, Mamata called them in for a meeting to discuss the situation. She is said to have expressed satisfaction over the way the civic body had handled its baptism by water.

Calcuttans woke to the sound of rain pelting down on their day off. In many kitchens, the Sunday spread was quickly replaced by the conventional rainfeast: khichuri, with fried hilsa.

The streets wore a deserted look, with people preferring to stay indoors and catch the film feast, from HBO to CVO. Those who did step out were left stranded, with a number of state buses failing to negotiate the waterlogged streets and taxis few and far between.

Tram services were disrupted, with tracks being submerged at Kankurgachhi, Ultadanga, Jorasanko, Thanthania, Phears Lane, APC Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Elliot Road. Except for Kankurgachhi and Ultadanga, tram services resumed on the other routes after 3 pm.

Matters were compounded further by a high tide in the Hooghly around 9 am. Calcutta Municipal Corporation officials said the intensity of rain suddenly rose to more than seven times the drainage capacity of the city between 8 am and 9 am.

“The drainage network of the city can cope with an hourly rainfall of 6 mm. But today, it was much more,” said Deb. The sewerage and drainage chief arrived at the CMC control room at 7.30 am and started monitoring the operation of the pumping stations at Ballygunge, Palmer Bazar, Mominpur, Maniktala and Dhapa.

Residents of Narkeldanga were the worst affected, as the drainage pumps installed by the Central Municipal Water and Sanitation Authority for the area could not be pressed into service. The reason: the person in charge of the pumping station was “on leave”.

North Calcutta received heavier rainfall than the south, with 71 mm being recorded at Dum Dum till 8.30 am. At Alipore, the meteorological office recorded 38 mm of rainfall. Ballygunge recorded 38.8 mm and Maniktala 68.3 mm.

The south Bengal districts of Burdwan and Birbhum were lashed by heavy showers. Nearly 200 mm of rainfall was recorded at Suri, while Durgapur received 75 mm.    


 
 
ONE-STOP SHOP FOR PHONE 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
 
Tired of wasting valuable weekdays, shuttling from babu to babu for a new connection at your telephone exchange?

Come October, you can just walk into a ‘one-stop shop for a telephone’, pick up a set, place your order, and get connected almost as soon as you get back home.

Calcutta Telephones has decided to appoint franchisees for teleshop outlets, where subscribers can simply fill up a form and deposit it at the counter. Officials from the department, armed with wires and instruments, will follow up the order “immediately”.

According to minister of state for communications Tapan Sikdar, “if everything is on schedule, Calcutta Telephones will introduce teleshopping for new connections and accessories from October at six outlets across the city.”

Sikdar said telephone department officials will collect the installation and other charges from the subscriber’s house.

The outlets will also provide the “shop-on-telephone” for subscribers who can simply dial in for a new connection.

“Once an applicant gives his/her name, address and employment details, department officials will visit the place, instal the instrument and connect the line. They will collect the charges on the spot,’’ Sikdar added.

The franchisee shops will also stock instruments and other telephone accessories.

Besides departmental instruments, the shops will be allowed to display machines of private manufacturers as well.

“A subscriber will have the option of picking up private instruments too. The department will provide an incentive to such subscribers by deducting Rs 250 from their installation or rental charges,’’ said Sikdar.

The minister said his department was encouraging consumers to pick up ‘private’ instruments as it was proving “difficult for the department to repair and maintain so many sets.

“There are more than nine lakh subscribers in the city. Of this number, the lines of around 50,000 are out of order. A majority of these faults are because of defective instruments,’’ clarified the communications minister.

The telecom factory in the city can repair only 500 sets a month, while more than 1,100 instruments develop faults every month. “To tackle this crisis, we are urging subscribers to get their own telephone sets. And once teleshopping starts, this problem will be minimised,” signed off Sikdar.    


 
 
ADD ‘INCHESS’ TO YOUR GAMBIT 
 
 
BY RITURAJ CHAKRABARTI
 
 
Even as Viswanathan Anand was matching wits against supercomputer Junior 6 at the Dortmund chess championships earlier this month, Subroto Ghosal was perfecting his opening moves on ‘Inchess Chessputer’ at his south Calcutta home.

Ghosal, head of the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Calcutta, claims to have put together the first indigenous “chess laptop” in the country, priced at “a throwaway, Rs 2,400”.

The single-chip micro-controller, using a 40-pin chip, makes the machine cost-effective and portable. Instead of a screen, it has a sensor board using 3-D chess pieces. ‘Inchess’ can be operated with four pencil batteries or an AC adapter. It has six levels, catering to both a beginner and a pro, but not a GM.

Bipin Shenoy, coach at Alekhine Chess Club and Goodricke National Chess Academy, says: “To my knowledge, Ghosal’s invention is the first of its kind in the country and will help chess players, especially kids starting out, up to a certain level. If and when he upgrades it to the GM level, those at the highest level can also benefit.”

For Ghosal, chess was a childhood passion. An active member of the South Calcutta Chess Club, Ghosal started toying with the idea of “making a low-cost chess PC”, while studying at Mumbai IIT in the early 80s.

After a stint at BITS, Pilani, Ghosal returned to Calcutta in 1997 and started putting the pieces of his dream machine together. By December, 1999, Inchess Chessputer was ready.

“Unlike other PCs in the market, my laptop is dedicated to chess only. And its price will make it accessible to so many kids in the city who share my passion for the game,” smiles the middle-aged computer scientist, who has made the laptop “copy-proof”, but is yet to patent his creation.    


 
 
MAYOR TO MOVE DELHI FOR FUNDS 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, just about a fortnight into the job, will visit Delhi shortly to lobby the Planning Commission for funds for Calcutta’s development.

Mukherjee and members of his council say most departments had spent the lion’s share of their respective fund allocations for 2000-2001, leaving them little with which they could bring about some changes for the better in the city in the coming months. This is crucial for their party, Trinamul Congress, keeping in mind next year’s Assembly polls.

Mukherjee will leave for the capital on July 30 and meet Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant for special funds for the city’s development projects. The mayor has already discussed the different areas for which funds are required with Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. The focus will be on water supply and malaria control.

The new member of the mayor’s council in charge of roads, Anup Chatterjee, said CPM mayor-in-council members in most departments had already spent more than 60 per cent of the budget allocation for the year 2000-2001. In at least two departments, they had spent about 80 per cent of the budget allocation.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has already taken up a Rs 60 crore scheme to set up a 40-million-gallon water treatment plant at Palta. South Calcutta is dependent on its completion for more water. The CMC requires extra funds to combat malaria.

CMC depends on the state government for development grants and for paying salaries to its 45,000 employees..

During his first rounds of meetings with municipal commissioner Asim Barman and other controlling officers, Mukherjee asked them to cut down on avoidable expenditure.    


 
 
STRIKE NOT TO AFFECT EXAMS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
 
The students’ strike slated for Monday will not affect the holding of examinations. The strike has been called by the Chhatra Parishad and the Democratic Students’ Organisation (DSO), students’ wing of the SUCI.

Sajal Ghosh, Chhatra Parishad leader, said on Sunday that examinations have been kept out of the purview of the strike.

The strike has been called to protest the government’s decision to abolish the teaching of Higher Secondary courses in colleges. However, classes in some colleges in the city may be disrupted on Monday as the striking Chhatra Parishad activists will hold demonstrations in front of all such institutions.

“Keeping in mind the interests of a large number of examinees taking Calcutta University’s ongoing examinations in law and other subjects, we will allow the authorities to hold the examinations as per schedule,” Ghosh added.

Onkar Sadhan Adhikari, controller of examinations of Calcutta University, ruled out any change in the schedule of examinations slated for Monday    


 
 
BRU REBELS KILL 12 OF RIVAL CAMP 
 
 
FROM SEKHAR DATTA
 
Agartala, July 23: 
Seeking to avenge the massacre of over 100 of its activists recently, the Bru National Liberation Front yesterday mowed down 12 National Liberation Front of Tripura rebels at Saikarbari in Tripura’s Dhalai district.

Sources said a group of NLFT rebels had just sat down for breakfast when heavily-armed Bru militants raided their hideout in the thickly-wooded Saikarbari area. Twelve of the NLFT men were killed on the spot, while eight escaped by jumping into a gorge behind the camp.

Caught unawares by the sudden raid, the NLFT rebels could not put up a semblance of a fight, the sources said. The Bru rebels took away some sophisticated weapons and a sizeable quantity of ammunition from the hideout, they added.

A clash between the two outfits was on the cards after NLFT militants massacred over 100 Bru rebels at Thangnan in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

BNLF chief Suryamoni Reang, who was taken hostage by the NLFT on July 12, is still being held captive at a camp in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Sources said yesterday’s retaliatory attack could be the beginning of a major conflagration between the BNLF and the NLFT. The two outfits were “friends” till the massacre in Bangladesh.

The Reangs, for whom the BNLF is ostensibly waging war against the state, are likely to be the biggest losers if fratricidal clashes continue.

A group of NLFT militants has reportedly already sneaked into the Taichhama area of North Tripura district to target the Reang population, including refugees staying in six relief camps.Apart from the NLFT, the Reangs could be targeted by tribal outfits which want them to return to Mizoram.

Security has been beefed up in the area, particularly in the relief camps. The BNLF, fighting against “oppression of the Reangs”, severed ties with the NLFT following differences over language and religion. The NLFT had insisted that the Reangs accept the Kokborok language and convert to Christianity.

However, the Bru outfit said the Reangs would stick to the Kokbrua dialect and their original religion, a mishmash of Hinduism and animism.

Sources said the massacre in the Chittagong Hill Tracts was the NLFT’s way of making it clear that all other militant outfits in Tripura were subservient to it and would have to comply with its diktats.    


 
 
FOUR GAROS ABDUCTED FOR NON-TRIBAL TIES 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, July 23: 
NLFT militants kidnapped four Garo villagers and beat up several people in remote Khedornal village under Natun Bazar police station in South Tripura last night.

The four abducted Garos were CPM activists. Police sources said the militants raided Khedornal at 7 pm, herded the villagers to a nearby field and indiscriminately beat them up.

The rebels apparently “punished” the villagers for maintaining ties with non-tribals and going to the Natun Bazar market. The three injured were admitted to the Natun Bazar hospital.

The four abducted persons have been identified as Korbuk block panchayat secretary Krittibas Marak and labourers Indhistar Marak, Sanjit Marak and Raju Marak. Village committee chairman Sachindra Marak was also abducted, but released later.    


 
 
NOD FOR CBI PROBE INTO MLA MURDER 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Dhanbad, July 23: 
The Union home ministry has reportedly agreed to institute a CBI inquiry into the murder of Gurudas Chatterjee, Marxist Coordination Committee MLA from Nirsa.

The home ministry acceded to the demands made by the MCC after a delegation led by veteran trade union leader and former Dhanbad member of Parliament A.K. Roy met Union home minister L.K. Advani in New Delhi on Saturday.

MCC sources said the home minister has told the delegation that the CBI is already investigating the multicrore animal husbandry, the bitumen and the medicine scandals in Bihar. The sleuths are hard pressed to meet the stipulated deadlines as these cases are monitored by the Patna High Court.

When Roy apprised Advani about the gravity of the Gurudas Chatterjee murder case — as a proper investigation might reveal the nexus between the coal mafia, the police and some officials of the coal unit — he agreed to direct the CBI to investigate the case.

Soon after the murder of Chatterjee on April 14, chief minister Rabri Devi had handed over the case to the CBI. But the country’s premier investigation agency, citing too many cases at hand at that time, did not take up the case. However, under pressure from her Left Front allies, the chief minister made a fresh appeal.

Roy gave the home ministry a letter from Arup Chatterjee, eldest son of the slain legislator. The details of the circumstances that led to the murder of Gurudas Chatterjee was given in the letter.

The home minister also held a meeting with top CBI officials. A formal notification directing the agency to investigate the case is yet to be issued by the ministry.

Dhanbad police, assisted by the special investigating team constituted by the government, has already submitted its chargesheet.

Police agitation,

More than 18,000 policemen in Bihar will go on a week’s mass casual leave from midnight today in support of their demands, which included introduction of payscales on the pattern of Delhi police and better promotional opportunities, reports UNI. Bihar police association general secretary K.K. Jha said here today that the two-day meeting with the state chief secretary, home secretary and director-general of police failed to yield positive results.    

 
 
NAXALITES PLAN MARTYRS’ SHRINE IN ORISSA VILLAGE 
 
 
FROM SIB KUMAR DAS
 
Berhampur, July 23: 
A major congregation of tribals is scheduled to be held at Raipanka in Gajapati district on Friday to mark the death anniversary of Naxalite leader Charu Majumdar. The meet will be held under the aegis of local Naxalite organisations.

At the meet, tribal leaders will also commemorate the deaths of eight tribals of Mandrabaju village who were killed in police firing at Majhiguda on December 30 last year. They are planning to erect a martyrs’ memorial for the victims at the spot near Raipanka where their bodies were buried. The police had not taken the bodies for cremation to Mandrabaju village.

Naxalite organisations are trying to cash in on this local tribal issue and sentiments while observing the 28th death anniversary of Charu Majumdar in the tribal-dominated areas of southern Orissa. The organisations will observe the day as “martyr’s day.”

Tribal organisations like the Kui Lawanga Sangh and the Chasi Mulia Samity are organising the tribal meet and have dovetailed the commemoration of the victims of police firing with Charu Majumdar’s death anniversary in order to strike a responsive chord among the tribals.

The Rayagada and Gajapati divisional committees of the Chasi Mulia Samity and the Kui Lawanga Sangh said efforts are on to motivate tribals of Phulbani, Gajapati and Rayagada districts to attend the meet.

Pamphlets are being distributed in which the Naxalite movement has been extolled. The pamphlets also carry a short history of the movement, which began in 1967, and of Charu Majumdar, for the edification of tribals.

According to the pamphlets and leaders of the Chasi Mulia Samity and Kui Lawanga Sangh, the chief guest at the Raipanka tribal congregation will be revolutionary Oriya writer Praful Das. Other local tribal leaders will also address the meet.

Apart from disseminating the Naxal philosophy of Charu Majumdar, the tribal meet at Raipanka will focus on the alleged apathy of the state government towards the families of the tribals who were killed in police firing at Majhiguda.

A leader of the Chasi Mulia Samity claimed that although several memoranda have been submitted to various government officials and even chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the families of the victims have not got any compensation from the government yet.

He also criticised local political leaders, who had made tall promises to the tribal families but have not kept their word.    

 

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