Fake ads ring in chatline torment
Parking order sparks police, mayor face-off
Suicide on Metro tracks
Dazzling in red and gold, and 250 years old
Subhas-deputy row halts Siliguri bus
School slams door on 31 children
Violence marks students’ strike
Rights panels call bandh in Manipur
Body mutilated again in hospital
Rebels beat up council member, snatch arms

Calcutta, July 24: 
It’s a chatline with a difference. And it’s making life miserable for a number of unsuspecting women across the city.

Advertisements have been appearing in vernacular dailies from ladies apparently seeking “friendship” and “enjoyment”. A phone number is appended, and, in some cases, a surname as well. The only problem is that these “fun-loving” women don’t have the faintest clue about it. Take the case of Anuradha Ghosh (not the real name) of Tollygunge. A small insertion appeared in the Sunday edition of a Bengali daily with the words: “Ektai jibon. Bandhu bandhaber sahajye anando pete chai (You only live once and I would like to enjoy my life with friends). Please call Miss Ghosh at *******”. That Sunday has drastically changed Anuradha’s life — for what she fears is “forever”. Since that insertion appeared, there have been unending phone calls to her home, through the day and late into the night.

“My life has become hell,” says the 35-year-old housewife. “People have been ringing me up constantly, seeking my ‘company’ and wanting to have ‘fun’ with me. The worst part is that I do not know a thing about it or who could have planted the advertisement.”

“One man,” continued Anuradha, “even had the temerity to land up at my home one day, after tracing my address from the phone number. I don’t know how to put a stop to this.”

The police, too, are baffled. Investigations so far have revealed nothing and the authorities are clueless about who could be behind the vicious prank. Officials of Charu Market police station, where Anuradha has lodged a complaint, have questioned a few people but have failed to come up with any answers.

“We are looking at all possible angles and we hope to get to the bottom of this soon,” said deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Narayan Ghosh. “It might be the handiwork of someone in the locality with whom the lady may have some enmity.”

But Aditi Chatterjee (not her real name), another “chatline victim”, rules out enmity as the motive for such “evil pranks”.In her case, the insertion said: “I am 40 years old and very lonely. I am keen on developing a relationship with a broadminded person. Call *******.”

The response has been ‘overwhelming’. “I refuse to buy this argument about enmity,” she says. “This is the work of a pervert who is bent on making life miserable for me and my family.”

Aditi, too, has gone to the police for help but so far the culprit has not been traced.

“Since the names and addresses of the people who have put in the insertions are fictitious and the payments have been made in cash, we have not been able to trace them,” said deputy commissioner (south), Ranjit Pachnanda.

The police have detected another case, the insertion of which ran: “A progressive, working woman, 38), seeks penpals. Call******* between 8 pm and 10 pm.”

“A lot of people with other ideas in mind have been calling up this woman and harassing her,” said Pachnanda. “The insertion has also been very suggestively worded and the poor woman was not even aware of it.”

Family members of the “chatline victims” are worried as the women, largely because of the stress they have been undergoing, have started showing signs of behavioural changes.

“My sister has become irritable and jumpy and tends to lose her temper without much reason,” said Anuradha’s brother. “She was not like this before. Let us hope that things soon change for the better.”

The police said that there are several other such cases, but since most people are unwilling to register official complaints, they have gone unreported.    

Calcutta, July 24: 
City police chief D.C. Vajpai and Calcutta’s mayor Subrata Mukherjee are at loggerheads. The immediate provocation, a “unilateral notification’’ issued by Vajpai banning “back-to-the-kerb” parking in city streets.

The police chief had issued a notification directing all vehicles to park “parallel to the kerb’’ from Monday. Officers of local police stations and traffic guards were ordered to prosecute vehicles parked perpendicular to the road.

The drive kicked off from Monday morning, with senior police officers monitoring it from the streets. Police teams fanned out all over the city, towing away vehicles and penalising errant drivers.

Sources at the Lalbazar police control room said 90-odd vehicles were booked on charges of “illegal parking.’’

“Drivers’ licences were seized and fines were imposed on them,’’ a traffic department official said.

An agitated Mukherjee and member, mayor-in-council, vehicle parking, Pradip Ghosh, alleged that Vajpai had kept them in the dark about the order.

“Police cannot take such decisions on their own. They alone are not responsible for overseeing parking of vehicles. I will take up the issue with the deputy chief minister,’’ Mukherjee said.

Terming the police commissioner’s action an “undemocratic move with the intent of harming the Trinamul-BJP-run civic body’s interests’’, Ghosh declared that his department, too, had the power to take unilateral action.

“I have written to the police commissioner, seeking a clarification. The roads belong to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the police have no right to introduce new rules for parking without consulting the CMC. If they continue to bypass us, my department will take over traffic management of any road on our own. We are empowered under the CMC Act to take such action and the police cannot do anything about it,’’ Ghosh said.

The city’s first citizen fears a decrease in revenue from car parking co-operatives, which collect money from vehicles on behalf of the civic body. The CMC earns several lakhs of rupees from the parking co-operatives.

“Parking lot attendants, who are mostly unemployed youth engaged on a part-time basis, will suffer,’’ Mukherjee said.

Police officers, however, are unfazed. “On weekdays, more than nine lakh vehicles ply in the city and about six lakh are parked on roads,’’ said deputy commissioner of police, traffic, K. Harirajan. “Traffic management in the city is a police affair and to do their duty, the police need not have to look into the financial interests of the CMC.

“To ease the flow of traffic, it is absolutely essential to ban back-to-the-kerb parking,’’ Harirajan added.

The sudden move caught many car-owners unawares. “It is an irrational drive intended to fill up the state exchequer. Why don’t they clamp down on vehicles parked illegally on the main thoroughfares,’’ Subir Chatterjee, a senior officer working in a state government office on Madan Street, said.

Most mayor-in-council members feel the decision will encourage unauthorised parking in the city, as parking lots will from now on be able to accommodate only half the number of cars they can at present.

There 48 fee parking zones in the city, which accommodate 4,000 cars. If private premises are taken into account, parking facilities are available in the city for 16000 cars. Every day, 1.5-lakh cars are out on the roads during office hours and 50,000 of them require parking facilities.    

Calcutta, July 24: 
An unidentified 50-year-old woman committed suicide on Monday afternoon by jumping in front of a train at the Jatin Das Park Metro Railway station.

Eyewitnesses said the woman had been roaming listlessly on the platform for a long time. “She became restless when she saw the Down train approaching the station. But it all happened so fast that we hardly had time to react,” said a commuter.

Samir Banerjee, Metro Rail spokesperson, said: “The motorman immediately applied emergency brakes, but the woman was too close to avoid the accident”.

Her body was taken to Bhowanipore police station and then to SSKM Hospital. Police said the woman was fair, had grey hair and was wearing a blue saree. “We could not make out the colour of her blouse as it was drenched in blood”, said an officer.

Metro services were stalled for about one hour following the accident, which occurred at 4.43 pm.    

Calcutta, July 24: 
The Indian Museum will add a priceless 250-year-old Benarasi sari, one of the enduring symbols of the Bengali ethos, to its repertoire of rarities on Tuesday.

The gorgeous red sari with rich floral zari work on the pure silk texture belonged to Kuladasundari Devi, queen of Taherpur, now in Rajshahi district of Bangladesh.

Designed by the renowned sari-makers of Benares in the 1750s, it will be handed over to Governor Viren J. Shah, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, by Kuladasundari Devi’s grandson, Shyama Prasad. The sari will be put on display in the textile gallery from Wednesday, where it will find pride of place along with the Benarasi worn by Sarada Devi, mother of Rabindranath Tagore.

“This will certainly enrich our collection in the textile gallery and I am sure many Calcuttans will visit the gallery for a glimpse of the rare piece,” said Shyamalkanti Chakraborty, director of Indian Museum.

Kuladasundari had gifted the sari to her daughter, Alorani Lahiri, at her marriage. The Lahiri family later shifted to Calcutta.

Chakraborty said the museum had 20 Benarasis in its collection of saris, but all were not on display. “One of the most treasured in the collection is the Benarasi which belonged to Sarada Devi, mother of Rabindranath Tagore. One will find a photograph of Sarada Devi clad in the sari in one of our galleries,” declared Chakraborty. Members of the Tagore family had gifted the sari to the museum.

“Now, this 250-year-old sari might even attract sari designers in the city, as it is an exquisitely designed piece of textile,” added the museum director.

Apart from the sari, a century-old image of Lord Vishnu, once the household deity of the late Ambica Charan Ukil of Telirbagh, in Bangladesh, will also be handed over to the museum authorities by his grandchildren.

Museum officials said they have received “a tremendous response” from the people in their effort to enrich their collection of rare memorabilia.

Recently, a sarod, once played by Ustad Kukubh Khan, has been donated by Suvasree Bagchi, the daughter of Maharaja Jogindranath Roy of Natore.

And actor Vasant Chowdhury, who died recently, had donated his exquisite Ganesha collection to the museum.    

Calcutta, July 24: 
An ongoing row between the two ministers of the transport department has cast a shadow over the privatisation of the much-hyped Calcutta-Siliguri bus route.

Trouble started last week when minister of state for transport Sushanta Ghosh overruled transport minister Subhas Chakraborty’s decision to issue permits for the 600-km bus route. Chakraborty, at that time, was out of station.

A furious Chakraborty has taken up the matter with chief minister Jyoti Basu. He has even told confidants that he is ready to quit on this issue.

Basu is learnt to have lent a sympathetic ear to Chakraborty. The chief minister told some partymen that the decision to throw open the Calcutta-Siliguri route to private enterprise was “practical”, taking into consideration the rising passenger traffic on that route.

Several transport operators and bus-owners had convinced Chakraborty that as it was proving impossible for the state department to cope with the rush, the government should withdraw the ban on private vehicles on the Calcutta-Siliguri route.

Chakraborty, then, held a meeting with transport officials and decided to issue permits to private operators. He even forwarded the file to Basu before leaving Calcutta.

Sources in the transport department said Ghosh recalled the file and penned a separate note to the chief minister, stating that the ban on private buses between Calcutta and Siliguri “should not be withdrawn”. The file is still with Basu.

Chakraborty came to know about the development last Friday when he asked transport secretary D.M. Kanwar about the ‘status’ of the file. Chakraborty immediately rushed to Basu’s chamber and expressed his resentment. He explained to the chief minister the reasons behind his decision to allow private operators to ply on the route.

Chakraborty also met Basu at his residence on Saturday and informed him about how some CPM leaders from Alimuddin Street had been “interfering”in his activities. Chakraborty alleged that these CPM leaders were using various methods to try and stall his moves. “They are blocking my projects and trying to scuttle my efforts in various areas,” Chakraborty told Basu.

Party insiders said that Sushanta Ghosh had been acting on behalf of the anti-Chakraborty camp at Alimuddin Street.

Though marginalised within the party after voicing his support for the “pro-changers”, Chakraborty remains Basu’s trusted lieutenant. “He (Basu) has advised me to remain cool and not to take any hasty decision,” the transport minister told The Telegraph.    

lcutta, July 24: 
e future of the 31 students who got admission to Jewish Girls’ School on Park Street, but were later thrown out by the school authorities, is still shrouded in uncertainty.

Agitated guardians put up roadblocks on Monday to protest the move of the school authorities, sparking tension in the area.

Joint convener of the Jewish Girls’ School joint action committee Irfan Khan said: “The children got through after completing all the formalities. But strangely, the principal called the guardians and asked them to surrender all the books, exercise books, fee books, admit cards, etc. The guardians were also told not to send their children to the school anymore.”

Khan said: “The students attended classes for a fortnight, but the sudden decision of the school authorities slammed the door shut on kids between Nursery and Class IV”.

Political leaders Javed Khan and Idris Ali, actively involved with the guardians in their agitation, told The Telegraph that their battle will continue until the school authorities withdrew their ‘hasty’ and ‘illegal’ decision.

Khan, mayor-in-council (health) of Calcutta Municipal Corporation, said: “We have brought the matter to the notice of school education minister Kanti Biswas and the commissioner of police. We will also move the state human rights commission to save the future of these innocent children”.

Meanwhile, a public interest litigation was filed before Calcutta High Court by the agitating guardians. Deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda, said: “Since no complaint has been officially lodged with Park Street police station, we can’t take any action in the matter.”

Asoke De, lawyer for the petitioners, argued that the decision of the school authorities was illegal and arbitrary. He demanded its immediate withdrawal.

Officer-in-charge of Park Street police station D. Bhattacharya said: “It is difficult for us to tackle the situation and maintain law and order in the area since the matter is sub judice. We cannot even arrest the agitators, who are putting up roadblocks”.

Pradeep Ghosh, lawyer representing Calcutta High Court on behalf of the school authorities, said: “The method of admission of the 31 students was wrong. They did not appear for any interview prior to their admission and hence, the school authorities have decided to cancel their admission.”    

Calcutta, July 24: 
Tension ran high at several colleges in central and south Calcutta on Monday, as the students’ strike called by the Chhatra Parishad set off clashes and roadblocks.

The Chhatra Parishad was protesting the government’s decision to scrap the Higher Secondary course from several educational institutions. Though the education department had agreed last week to reintroduce the course in 16 colleges if the state, the Chhatra Parishad claimed the move was “half-hearted”. It also alleged that the government had only chosen to appease institutions where the SFI held sway.

SFI supporters clashed with Chhatra Parishad demonstrators at Surendranath College and Bangabasi College in Sealdah. Bombs were hurled by members of both the groups. Students even squatted on the streets in front of the two colleges, throwing peak-hour traffic out of gear.

Senior officers from the local police station resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the protesters. Five students were injured.

Chhatra Parishad activists also held demonstrations on B.B. Ganguly Street at Bowbazar for half-an-hour from 11.30 am. This led to traffic snarls in the area.

There were reports of trouble from Gol Park and Bhowanipore, in south Calcutta, too. According to officers of the traffic control room at Lalbazar, more than 150 Parishad workers arrived at the four-point crossing at Gol Park around 11.30 am. They blocked a section of Gariahat Road, causing a traffic pile-up starting from Dhakuria. The blockade was lifted after 12.30 pm.

The Democratic Students Organisation (DSO), the student’s wing of the SUCI, blocked Ashutosh Mukherjee Road in front of Bhowanipore police station to protest the government’s educational policy. Intervention of senior officers failed to yield results as the slogan-shouting students took over the streets and surrounded the police station. This continued for over an hour, disrupting traffic on the busy road.

At Writers’ Buildings, Trinamul Youth Congress activists went on a law-violation campaign to protest withdrawal of the HS course in colleges.    

Imphal, July 24: 
The Central Reserve Police Force has instituted an inquiry into the alleged rape of a tribal woman by some of its personnel at Lamdan village in Manipur’s Churachandpur district recently.

Several human rights and women’s organisations have jointly called a 14-hour bandh on Wednesday in protest against alleged excesses by CRPF personnel.

CRPF commandant (administration) A. Shanmugam said in a statement here today that the court of inquiry would minutely look into all aspects of the alleged rape at Lamdan.

Citing the recent inquiry into the sodomy case involving some CRPF personnel, Shanmugam said each of those found guilty had been dismissed from service and imprisoned.

He said the CRPF was committed to conducting an impartial inquiry into the Lamdan incident as well.

The CRPF commandant urged Manipur police chief D.S. Grewal to arrange for testing of blood, DNA and semen of the alleged rapists. He also sought laboratory testing of blood, semen and DNA of the “victim” and her husband.

Shanmugam said the police were welcome to visit the CRPF headquarters at Loktak to conduct investigations into the alleged rape.

In another development, representatives of various organisations held a meeting at Loktak yesterday and jointly called a 14-hour bandh on Wednesday in protest against the alleged incident at Lamdan.

The organisations include the All-Manipur United Clubs’ Organisation, the Committee on Human Rights, the Zeliangrong Union, the Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights and several women’s groups (meira paibis).

Demanding suitable punishment for the alleged rapists, the organisations said the CRPF outpost at Lamdan village should be shifted elsewhere immediately.

Representatives of the organisations also urged the Manipur government to provide security to the “victims and witnesses”.

The rape “victim”, her husband and the “witnesses” have reportedly moved to Bishenpur, fearing a backlash.

CRPF personnel allegedly went on the rampage at Lamdan village on July 19 in retaliation for an ambush by People’s Liberation Army activists the previous day. Four CRPF personnel had been killed in the ambush.

Angry over the militant attack, CRPF personnel allegedly raped a housewife, molested a mother and her teenaged daughter, and injured 11 villagers.

Rebels killed

Two insurgents were killed by an Assam Rifles patrol in an encounter at Thoraijam under Parsoi police station of Imphal West on Saturday, adds UNI. A defence release said on Monday that the two men on horseback had fired on an Assam Rifles patrol on being asked to stop. The jawans fired back, killing both men. A bolt action countrymade carbine with magazine, eight rounds of ammunition and one 9 mm bore rifle case were recovered from their possession, the release said.    

Jamshedpur, July 24: 
Another body kept at the Tata Main Hospital morgue was found mutilated today. This time the right cornea of the body of 85-year-old Shailendra Kumar Biswas was found missing while the left eyeball had been partially gouged out.

The incident, which rocked the hospital today, is the second of its kind within a span of three days. On Friday, the left eye of 62-year-old Bhabotosh Dutta’s body, that had been kept inside the morgue the previous night, was found missing. The hospital authorities had then blamed rodents found inside the morgue.

Biswas’ son-in-law Bapu Bhattacharjee said he had been admitted to Gangotri Hospital in Kadma a couple of days back. Biswas, who owned the Biswas Lodge on Bistupur Main Road, died yesterday.

“Later in the evening, we transferred the body to the Tata Main Hospital morgue since one of his daughters was yet to arrive from Calcutta. This morning, when we took out the body, one of the eyeballs was missing, while the other was hanging loose. It seems the culprit left in a hurry,” he said.

The shocked relatives immediately raised an alarm and refused to accept the body. “This is more than just mere coincidence. Only freshly-kept bodies are being tampered with. There was another 20-day-old body from Purulia and no damage has been done to it. This appears to be much more than the handiwork of rodents,” said Bhattacharjee.

An emergent meeting was called by Tata Steel where the involvement of “insane persons” was not ruled out.

“The corner of the right eye had been clearly cut out with a sharp-edged instrument. This is certainly not the handiwork of rodents but tampering by humans. The persons involved have done it with a view to either attract attention or with the motive of bringing a bad name to the company,” said Tata Main Hospital general manager G.K. Lath.

The doctor, however, ruled out any commercial motive behind the incident.

“It is unlikely that an old man’s eye would be used for commercial purposes. Moreover, for a transplant, the cornea has to be removed immediately after,” he added.    

Agartala, July 24: 
uspected All-Tripura Tiger Force militants attacked Autonomous District Council member Budhu Debbarma and three of his aides at Chebri in Tripura’s Khowai sub-division yesterday.

Another group of militants abducted two traders from Samcherra near Dharmanagar town in North Tripura.

Police sources said Debbarma, who is from the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, was heading for Tulasikhar from his home constituency of Champahaor when a group of rebels waylaid his vehicle.

The Tiger Force rebels took Debbarma and his three aides, including his guard, to a nearby jungle and beat them up, the sources said. The militants fled after snatching a service revolver from the autonomous council member’s guard. Debbarma had gone to his constituency to meet the persons injured in an attack by United Bengali Liberation Front militants on Saturday.

Prior to his visit, a mob had gheraoed the additional subdivisional officer and the block development officer of Khowai in protest against lack of security in the area.

Twelve tribals were seriously injured in the bomb attack by the UBLF near Chebri on Saturday. The incident led to clashes between tribals and non-tribals in the area. Several tribal families fled their homes in apprehension of violence.

In another incident, the police recovered the body of a non-tribal youth from east Jambura village under Khowai police station yesterday. The slain youth, identified as 17-year-old Subal Debnath, had been abducted from his house at east Ganki last week.

Two more persons, both traders, were taken hostage by militants yesterday. While Babul Saha was abducted from a jeep heading towards Datanbari from Tirthamukh, Jyotirmoy Chakraborty was whisked away from his house at Jamcherra near Dharmanagar town.

Mizo leader dead

Former Assembly Speaker and veteran politician Vaivenga died of prolonged illness at his residence at Tuikhuahtlang locality here this evening, family sources said, reports PTI from Aizawl.

He was 66 and is survived by his wife and three daughters.

Vaivenga entered active politics in 1965 and joined the Mizo Union, the first political party in the erstwhile Mizo district when Mizoram was one of the districts of Assam.

He contested and won in the district council elections in 1971 and was appointed an executive member of the Mizo autonomous district council with education as his portfolio. He was elected a legislator in 1972 after Mizoram was upgraded to Union Territory.    


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