Cops clamp rally rule
Tomato treat for cardiac cure
CPM loses control of police union
Quail meat from seat of governance
Alarm bells over handset heist
Mamata puts reluctant Malik at Metro helm
Actress’ spouse denied bail
‘Gang of four’ behind rail blasts
Tripura ex-CM chargesheeted
Manipur bans ganja cultivation

 
 
COPS CLAMP RALLY RULE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee trained his guns on the city police administration after cops wielded batons to chase away Trinamul Congress rallyists from the Esplanade area on Monday.

By shooing away the Trinamul activists from the city centre to try and prevent disruption of traffic, the police effectively punctured the new mayor’s vaunt that he had the authority to permit or deny holding of rallies in Calcutta.

“I, as mayor of Calcutta, also can decide who gets to use a venue in the city to hold a meeting, political or otherwise. As I see it, the police are increasingly trying to usurp my powers. I am not one to take such things lying down,” Mukherjee told The Telegraph.

He was reiterating the point he had made at Mamata Banerjee’s mammoth rally on July 21 and drawn loud cheers from his supporters, as it was viewed as a fitting reply to chief minister Jyoti Basu’s comment that the gathering was “illegal”.

On Tuesday, the police had given the Trinamul permission to stage their demonstration to protest the Nanoor killings at Shahid Minar. But when the party’s youth wing headed for Esplanade, they were driven back by the cops stationed there.

After Trinamul leaders dropped their plans to stage the meeting, Mukherjee said he would discuss the “police action” with deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya.

Deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Nazrul Islam, said: “When the Trinamul supporters decided to hold the meeting in front of Metro cinema, we had no alternative but to remove them from there... We cannot allow political organisations to cause inconvenience to the public.”

Islam added that they will not allow “any political party” to hold rallies by blocking roads in the city centre “without police permission”.

The city police has even denied the ruling CPM permission to hold a meeting in front of Bengal Chamber of Commerce.

On Tuesday, trouble started when the Trinamul activists refused to toe the police line and announced their intention to shift their rally from Shahid Minar to the Rani Rashmoni Road crossing. Tempers were frayed as the police blocked their path.

The Trinamul workers then took to the streets and headed for the “Metro Channel”. This threw afternoon traffic out of gear in the city centre and adjoining areas.

DC, reserve force, K. L. Tamta, who rushed to the spot, said that his officers told the Trinamul brigade “not to assemble in front of Metro cinema”.

When the Trinamul activists tried to force the issue, Lalbazar police headquarters despatched a large contingent to cordon off the area.

Some party workers were chased away from the spot, while others were forced to beat a hasty retreat under the threat of arrest.

“The Trinamul men had to leave the Metro Channel free for traffic, under pressure from the police. But we did not use force to disperse them,” Tamta said.

The police have been forced to take a tough stand on the matter after the state government informed the high court that it had no direct role to play in this regard, as it would be dealt with by the law-enforcing agency.

The police have decided to give permission to political organisations to hold rallies at Brigade Parade Grounds and Shahid Minar only. “We favour these two spots instead of the Metro Channel and Rani Rashmoni Road, as there will be no traffic snarls on the road,” officials said.    


 
 
TOMATO TREAT FOR CARDIAC CURE 
 
 
BY SUMIT DAS GUPTA
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is passé. ‘Two tomatoes a day keep the heart doctor away’ could well be the medical mantra of the future.

Pathbreaking research at Rowlett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, led by Dr Asim Dutta-Roy, states: “Tomatoes help reduce the tendency of the blood to coagulate and so prevent thrombosis and other heart diseases”.

“The tomato factor, codenamed P3, is found in the yellow juice around tomato seeds and prevents blood platelets from forming clots. This will have enormous implications on the prevention and treatment of heart diseases,” 44-year-old Dutta-Roy told The Telegraph over telephone.

Born and brought up in “out-of-the-map” Gopinagar village of Nadia district, the doctor now holds the “sole patent” for P3.

After graduating from Ranaghat College with chemistry honours, he completed his M.Sc. in biochemistry from Calcutta University and Ph.D from Bose Institute, before leaving for Philadelphia in 1982. After a stint in Canada, Dutta-Roy settled in Aberdeen 10 years ago.

Drug companies have been spending billions for years to find an “an anti-platelet drug without side-effects”. Now, after three years of intensive research and tests on animals and humans, Dutta-Roy feels the breakthrough has been achieved.

The findings were made public after he was awarded the patent in the second week of July. Tests with just four tomatoes revealed that the P3 isolated from little yellow bits surrounding tomato seeds reduced “platelet activity” by up to 72 per cent in humans.

“This will reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood-vessel problems by preventing clotting and will help treatment by avoiding aspirin, which has several harmful side-effects,” explained Dutta-Roy. The component P3 is also found in strawberries, grapefruit and melon, but is most effective in tomatoes.

In Calcutta, the word is just starting to spread. Dr Bidhan Ranjan Roy, ex-director of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, was given the breaking news by his ex-student, who called from Aberdeen on Sunday.

“Asim told me the West was going crazy over the discovery and he had even received a congratulatory note from the Queen’s office. We are all so proud of him, as this is a truly significant step forward in medical science.”

Rowlett Research Institute has joined hands with Angle Technology of Guildford, Surrey, to form a new company, Nutrition Enhancement Ltd, to develop and market P3 in the form of capsules by the end of this year. “With heart diseases assuming alarming proportions in India, and aspirin the accepted form of treatment, this discovery will prove beneficial to many,” said Dutta-Roy.

And he has special plans lined up for his home state. “I am working out a method by which I can introduce P3 practically free of charge in India, and most definitely in West Bengal,” he declared.

For, the US citizen claims that “home” still means his village in Nadia, where he returns every year. The doctor and his discovery will be coming to Calcutta in January 2001.    


 
 
CPM LOSES CONTROL OF POLICE UNION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
For the first time since its inception, the Calcutta Police Association (CPA) has slipped out of the hands of the CPM. In the just-concluded organisational elections, policemen owing allegiance to the Trinamul Congress gained the upper hand in the association’s central committee.

With the next Assembly elections due within eight months, the trend in the police association’s organisational elections indicates that policemen at the grassroots level have switched allegiance from the CPM to the Trinamul-BJP combine.

CPM sympathisers, led by the former general secretary of the association, Mahendra Mondal, failed to dominate the central committee this time. The former general secretary and many of his lieutenants close to the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street have also been defeated in the polls. Mahendra Mondal, who used to dominate the association for the past few years, was removed from this post some time ago following a revolt by his rivals, who were reportedly backed by Trinamul and anti-CPM supporters among policemen.

According to sources, Trinamul loyalists, reportedly led by the present general secretary, Pradyut Kumar Mondal, and outgoing secretary, Sisir Mondal, held secret meetings with Trinamul leader Shovandeb Chattopadhyay to chalk out strategies on how to wrest control of the association from the CPM. Sources said: “Pradyut Mondal is a former CPM loyalist.”

An analysis of the results of the elections of units and the general council reveals the poor performance of candidates who are known CPM sympathisers in the force.

Sensing a change in political sympathies, some leaders of the force established contact with Mamata Banerjee some time ago. Banerjee, however, refused to have direct talks with the policemen. Instead, she assigned lieutenant Shovandeb Chattopadhyay to deal with them.

Accordingly, several meetings were held at a place near Baruipur, in South 24-Parganas, to chalk out the strategy for the elections, in which nearly 3,000 policemen cast their votes in secret ballots this time.

Chandan Guha is president of the newly-formed office-bearers in the central committee. Dalim Ghosh and Joy Krishna Dey have been elected joint secretaries. Patit Paban Chatterjee, Bimal Das and Samir Kanti Bose have bagged officer-bearers’ posts. Newly-elected general secretary Pradyut Kumar Mondal, however, denied links with the Trinamul and its leaders. “We are policemen and members of a disciplined force. We do not have any political links. Reports of our contacts with Trinamul are absolutely baseless,” said officer-bearers.

Trinamul leaders present at the secret meetings said the policemen did not want to come out in the open with their Trinamul sympathies for fear of irking the CPM, which was still in power.”

Baby left behind in cab: An 18-month-old girl was left behind in a taxi on Gariahat Road on Tuesday morning. The taxi-driver handed over the baby to Tollygunge police. It has been sent to Nirmal Hriday, run by Missionaries of Charity. The driver said a young woman boarded his taxi at 9 am at Gariahat and told him to proceed to Salt Lake.

   


 
 
QUAIL MEAT FROM SEAT OF GOVERNANCE 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
Soon, gourmet delights will available at the most unlikely place — Writers’ Buildings.

The state directorate of animal resources is opening a cold storage adjacent to the state secretariat canteen on August 3. There, one can shop for such goodies as ham, salami, eggs and yoghurt, and dressed quail meat and their eggs as well.

The secretariat staff and those who have access to Writers’ Buildings can do their shopping at this outlet, named Praneej. Department staff are confident that Praneej will be a success and not go the Benfish way. Benfish, the fisheries department’s flagship, had to stop marketing fish as well the much-touted Padma hilsa as it could not maintain a regular supply and compete with the market.

Animal resources department officials said Praneej would be part of a chain. “We want to find out the response to our products first,” an official said on Tuesday.

The directorate, apparently, is conducting a survey to locate sites for the Praneej chain. “We will provide the pork and poultry products, as well as milk products, at competitive rates,” the official said. Praneej is banking on the novelty of selling quail meat to the public. The directorate had procured Japanese quail last May and launched a breeding programme.

According to directorate officials, the birds, which weigh about 250 grams, are very prolific. Known for their tasty flesh, the eggs of the bird are high in proteins, minerals and vitamins.

The officials said there were enough birds in the Tollygunge poultry farm to maintain a regular supply to the Writers’ outlet. Besides, quail farming is being introduced throughout the state as an income-generating programme for poor farmers.

Anisur Rehman, animal resources minister, will open Praneej. The officials said the Writers’ response was very “important”, as people both from the districts as well from all over the city work there.

“This will give us a chance to find out the practicality of opening more such shops on the city’s fringes,” the official said.

Not that the Writers’ is an ideal market survey location. Dotted around the courtyard of the stately building is an array of shops selling items as diverse as clothes and even footwear manufactured by Tantuja and its leather unit, Charmaja. These are run by departments like cottage and small-scale industries.

Among the edibles are honey sold by the Sunderbans development board and pickles and jams made by welfare department units.

The state secretariat is also an outlet for items manufactured by inmates of jails across the state. From umbrellas to mustard oil and spices, the jails department sells the products in the ground floor shops.

With Writers’ employing around 9,000 people, even if 500 of them patronise Praneej, survival won’t be problematic, the animal resources directorate believes. Even before its opening, the canteen has approached it with an order for 500 eggs a day.    


 
 
ALARM BELLS OVER HANDSET HEIST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
The police are plagued with a new problem. A gang of smart, suave and educated youngsters is making a fast buck by stealing cellular phones. According to investigating officers, they come from well-to-do families and make a neat amount by reselling these sets in the grey market.

Stung by an alarming rise in cellphone theft, police chief D.C. Vajpai has directed officers of all police stations and the detective department to be on the alert for such white-collar thieves.

“The officers must be on their toes and take steps to ensure that things don’t go out of hand,’’ Vajpai told his force at a meeting on Tuesday. Police have also sought help from Command and Spice Telecom, two cellular service providers in the city, to help them nab phone thieves.

In Bhowanipore last week, police arrested Munna Chamal and Shiv Kumar Poddar after laying an elaborate trap. The two confessed to stealing mobile handsets for the last few months.

Chamal and Poddar, hailing from rich business families, would approach cellphone dealers with offers of introducing them to bulk customers.

Deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda, said Chamal and Poddar met dealer Anil Vijay and told him a few prospective buyers in Bhowanipore wanted to inspect handsets.

They took Vijay to a house in the area and told him to wait downstairs while borrowing six sets for “demonstration”. They never came back.

Vijay lodged a complaint with Bhowanipore police station, where officers said they have received several such complaints during the past 15 days.

Pachnanda has formed a special team for tackling the menace.

Police said Chamal and Poddar sold the popular Nokia and Siemens handsets for Rs 4,500 each. These are available at Rs 5,000 per set without documents in the grey market.

“With a guarantee card and other documents, the same set will cost around Rs 10,000,’’ said Kishen Agarwal, a cellphone dealer.    


 
 
MAMATA PUTS RELUCTANT MALIK AT METRO HELM 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
R.L.Malik, officer on special duty at Hazipur, in Bihar, will take over as general manager of Calcutta’s Metro Railway.

Malik is to fill the vacancy created by ex-general manager IIMS Rana’s appointment as general manager, Eastern Railways.

Malik, currently on leave, is apparently not too keen on overseeing the country’s first and only underground railway as it is beset with technical and commercial problems. Like his predecessors, Malik was also in favour of an “open-line”, rather than the “close-line”, posting at Metro.

Malik is aware that he will be under constant scrutiny from railway minister and Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee. The manner in which Mamata had replaced former general manager G.R. Madan with IIMS Rana can only add to Malik’s discomfort. The day after visiting some Metro stations, an unsatisfied Mamata had asked the Railway Board to remove Madan with immediate effect. Madan will assume office as general manger (constructions), Northern Railways. Officials said Malik, as Metro general manager, will have to complete the vital on-line extension to Garia, for which work has already started. He will also have to deal with the technical snags that, all too often, disrupt services and spark commuter discontent.

Cleanliness around Metro stations will figure high on Malik’s agenda, as Mamata has repeatedly expressed concern over this.

The new general manager will also have to sort out the demands of casual workers attached to Metro, who have been pressing for permanent jobs with the underground railways for some time now. They are threatening to launch an agitation soon.

Malik joins the Metro at a critical juncture, with several plans to raise revenue through various projects on the premises in the pipeline.

Suicide on tracks: An unidentified 30-year old man committed suicide near Belur station on Tuesday night. Eyewitnesses said the man suddenly jumped on to the tracks as he saw the train leaving the station. Services on the section were disrupted for almost an hour after the suicide.    


 
 
ACTRESS’ SPOUSE DENIED BAIL 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, August,1: 
Alipore district judge P.K. Ganguly on Tuesday rejected the bail application of Debangshu Sengupta, arrested in connection with the murder of his wife and TV serial actress Rumni.

The judge expressed his satisfaction over the progress of investigations and hoped the CID would reach an early conclusion in the case. The CID on Tuesday submitted the forensic report of the case before the court and sources said it had got some positive clues from the report.

Debangshu was brought to court on Tuesday morning. A large number of people gathered outside the courtroom, carrying placards demanding exemplary punishment for him. Rumni died on May 18. Debangshu was arrested on May 22 on the basis of a complaint lodged by Rumni’s mother and relatives. Public prosecutor Asim Das and counsel on behalf of Rumni, Biman Banerjee, opposed his bail plea and told the court that Debangshu’s release may result in evidence being tampered with and witnesses being influenced.

Counsel for the petitioner Tamal Mukherjee and Amitava Ganguly said their client had been incarcerated for 72 days and the police were yet to prove the crime they had charged him with.

A war of words followed Tamal Mukherjee’s demand that the demonstrators be removed from the court campus. The demonstrators protested furiously and the police had to intervene and remove them from the court compound.    


 
 
‘GANG OF FOUR’ BEHIND RAIL BLASTS 
 
 
FROM ANIRBAN ROY
 
Garmur (Kamrup district), Aug. 1: 
Police have identified a “gang of four” specialising in sabotage operations as the men behind the two railway blasts in Assam since Sunday.

Additional director-general of police (operations) G.M. Srivastava told The Telegraph here today that the twin blasts were triggered by a “specialist bomb squad of the National Democratic Front of Boroland”.

The police official said the bomb squad comprised just four militants, led by explosives expert Emanuel Basumatary. “One of the members of the NDFB team is a non-Bodo from outside the country who specialises in sabotage operations,” he added. Emanuel is believed to be the brain behind the series of explosions in his home district of Darrang in 1997. His elder brother is reportedly a senior bureaucrat at the central level.

Yesterday’s blast was so powerful that it created a crater six feet deep and over 12 feet in diameter.

“The militants planted the improvised explosive device six inches below the ground and detonated it from a distance of 275 to 300 feet from the railway track,” a government railway police official said.

Samples collected from the blast site indicate that the explosive device used by the rebels was similar to the bomb that exploded on the broad gauge rail track the previous day. The samples have been sent to the state forensic science laboratory for confirmation of the preliminary findings.

Deputy inspector-general (central-western range), D.K. Borah, who accompanied Srivastava to the site of yesterday’s blast, said there was little doubt that Emanuel and his comrades planted the two improvised explosive devices that blew up 12 wagons of a goods train on Sunday and killed nine security personnel on board the Samastipur-Tezpur passenger train last evening.

NDFB militants tried to blow up the Rajdhani Express with a similar explosive device at Sarupeta in August 1997. Union minister of state for railways Digvijay Singh today visited the blast site near Khandikar along with senior railway officials.

Sources said officials of the Kamrup district administration briefed the Union minister on the progress of investigations into the two explosions in as many days.

Singh urged the Assam government to ensure “proper security” along both the broad gauge and metre gauge rail tracks in the “sensitive” areas of the state. He said security personnel assigned the task of guarding rail tracks should be on maximum alert, particularly in the run-up to Independence Day.

An emergency meeting is likely to be held in Dispur tomorrow to chalk out a strategy to counter sabotage attempts by militant outfits.

Chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today took stock of the law and order situation during a meeting with top police and civil officials.

The additional director-general of police (operations) is likely to brief the government on the progress of the investigation into the railway blasts tomorrow.

Train services in the metre gauge section of N.F. Railway were restored at 2 pm today.

The additional director-general of police (operations) is likely to brief the progress of the investigations to the government tomorrow.    


 
 
TRIPURA EX-CM CHARGESHEETED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Aug. 1: 
Former chief minister Sudhir Ranjan Mazumdar has been chargesheeted in the medical seat allotment scam after nine years. Also chargesheeted are former health minister Kashiram Reang, former resident commissioner of Tripura Bhawan in New Delhi, Gurdayal Singh, and three students.

The students — Gita Banik, Bipul Rakshit and one Sonia of New Delhi — have all obtained MBBS degrees. The CBI filed the chargesheet yesterday in New Delhi in the special court of Justice D.B. Gupta.

The name of Amal Roy, who was special secretary to Mazumdar when the latter was chief minister, was not included in the chargesheet because he has turned approver in the case. However, he had initially been identified as an accused. Official sources here said Justice D.B. Gupta would examine the chargesheet at the next hearing of the special court on August 9.

The medical seat allotment scam came to light in 1991 when a deprived student, Gour Das, filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court and Justice S.N. Phukan ordered an inquiry. Later in 1993, former judge of the Tripura bench of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Anup Kumar Deb, ordered a CBI inquiry.

Gurdayal Singh is alleged to have unfairly admitted students to medical colleges in various places. Sudhir Ranjan Mazumdar and Kashiram Reang were allegedly abettors. However, Mazumder flatly denied having had anything to do with the medical seat allotment scam. He said, “I do not know who got what seat and how, and I am yet to receive any notice or summons from the court.”    


 
 
MANIPUR BANS GANJA CULTIVATION 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Aug. 1: 
The Manipur government has imposed a ban on cultivation of ganja (cannabis) under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. A notification to this effect was issued by Excise commissioner P. Vaiphei on Friday.

Official sources said the apex security coordination committee of the state government decided to impose the ban during a meeting here on June 5.

The coordination committee comprises representatives of the civil administration, the police, Army and paramilitary forces.

According to the notification issued by Vaiphei, anyone found violating the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act will face imprisonment for a term extending upto five years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 for the first year.

For the second and subsequent offences, the Act provides for a minimum prison term of 15 years and a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh.

Ganja is cultivated in several parts of the state, particularly in Ukhrul and Imphal East districts. There are several such plantations in the northeastern part of Chandel district and the southeastern part of Senapati district as well.

A section of Manipur Rifles and Central Reserve Police Force personnel is allegedly hand-in-glove with ganja smugglers. An inspector-general of the CRPF was once arrested for his involvement in the illegal trade. He is serving a prison term in Patna.

Depending on its quality, a kg of ganja is priced between Rs 30 and Rs 40 in the state capital. Once it reaches Bihar or West Bengal, the price goes up to at least Rs 500.

Ganja produced in Manipur is considered the best in the country, which explains the high prices in Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

Rhino shot ‘accidentally’ From our correspondent Jorhat, Aug 1: A rhino was “accidentally” killed at a village near the Kaziranga National Park yesterday.

Park director R.S. Bonal told The Telegraph that the rhino had strayed into the village from the Bagori range.

“Forest guards and villagers were trying to direct the rhino back into the park when it came charging. The guards opened fire in the air to keep the animal at bay, but one of the bullets accidentally struck it,” Bonal said.

The 1,200 square km park had 152 rhinos in 1999. Of these, 20 died this year. “Only two rhinos were killed by poachers. The rest died of natural causes,” he said.

The park official said the increased efficiency of the “intelligence-gathering network” had helped in bringing down the level of poaching in recent times. Rebels killed FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT Silchar, Aug. 1: Two suspected National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) militants were killed in an encounter with the Army at Machkhal village in the Bhuban hills, 30 km southeast of here last night.

It was a major breakthrough for the Army in its drive against militants active in the areas of Cachar district bordering Manipur.

Sources here today said the Army swooped down on the hideout of 13 rebels in a dense jungle, sparking off the encounter. The gunbattle lasted for half-an-hour.

The Naga militants were the first to open fire. The Army jawans of the 57 Mountain Division, led by a Major, retaliated.    

 

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