Writers’ staff rough up scribes
Four-cornered love affair leaves 3 dead
Calmanac to check tout clout at civic body
Sip ’n surf KnowledgePub coming up
99 cars caught in decibel crackdown
Longer waiver for house tax
10-year-old run over on BT Road

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
A group of employees of the information and cultural affairs department on Thursday assaulted 11 journalists, including a woman, who were on duty at Writers’ Buildings. Six newsmen were injured and they were treated by the medical officer at the state secretariat.

A formal complaint has been lodged with minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who apologised for the assault. The incident occurred at about 2 pm, when a group of members of the Information Service Officer’s Association was submitting a memorandum to information director Tarapada Ghosh. One of the officers rang up the press corner and requested reporters to cover the event.

Soon afterwards, about 20 reporters, photographers and television crew from different channels went to the information director’s office on the third floor.

Noticing the sunlamps and the flood of light, about 10 employees, sitting at the rear of the department, rushed towards the newspersons and demanded to know what they were doing there. They then attacked the mediapersons.

All the journalists were surprised by the sudden and unprovoked attack. The employees snatched the TV cameras and flung them on the floor. While the mediapersons tried to save the cameras, the employees gave them a drubbing.

One employee slapped and dragged a woman reporter from E-TV, Gargi Guha Thakurta, out of the department. The government employees blocked the office entrance and continued to flog the journalists for over 15 minutes.

What was even more surprising is that the officers, who were inside the director’s room to submit the deputation and who had asked the mediapersons to cover the event, did not come to their rescue. The journalists, however, managed to escape.

As the minister of the department was not present at that time, the reporters lodged a complaint with finance minister Asim Dasgupta and chief secretary Manish Gupta. Asim Dasgupta apologised on behalf of the government.

Later in the evening, the journalists related the incident to Bhattacharya. He assured them that action would be taken against the employees.

“It is a shame that employees of my department have beaten you up. I apologise. Believe me, I will do the needful,’’ Bhattacharya told the mediapersons.

Bhattacharya later held a meeting with departmental secretary Arun Bhattacharya and home secretary S.N. Roy to discuss the matter.

Of the errant employees, four have been identified. They are Sukumar Dey, Alok Roy, Satya Paul and Rajat Das.

They belong to the CPM-controlled state coordination committee. Even the ones yet unidentified were caught in action by the television cameras.

Calcutta Press Club and different journalists’ organisations have condemned the assault and demanded that the employees be punished.

Attacks on journalists are nothing new under Left Front rule. But this is the first time they have been assaulted within the state secretariat itself and that too, by employees of the information and cultural affairs department, which is meant to liaise with the media.    

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
A four-cornered love affair claimed three lives at Naihati, on the northern fringes of the city, on Wednesday. The victims were identified as Satish Shaw, 23, Chhotelal Jadav, 27, and Sewkumar Paswan, 32.

While Satish and Chhotelal were allegedly throttled to death by Sewkumar, the latter was caught and lynched by angry locals.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the bizarre murder trail led to a love affair involving three men and a woman. The police are now trying to track down the woman, whose identity was not disclosed “for the sake of investigation”.

Senior officials, including sub-divisional police officer Humayun Kabir, rushed to Naihati on Thursday. Police searched Sewkumar’s room and recovered a country-made revolver and eight cartridges.

According to the police, Satish and Chhotelal had been staying in a rented house in the Gouripur slum area. Some two months back, Sewkumar, who had come from Bihar, rented a room there and moved in with his wife. After a few days, Sewkumar’s wife left him. Residents of the slum said both Chhotelal and Satish were “friendly” with a woman in the locality. But a few days ago, Sewkumar started “bothering” her.

A police officer said Sewkumar used to frequent Satish’s room. So, it was possible that Satish and Chhotelal did not know that Sewkumar was pestering the woman. Till Tuesday night, when the three young men met in Satish’s room.

“Sewkumar came to Satish’s room on Tuesday and the three were together late into the night, when we went to sleep,” said Ramesh Jadav, a neighbour.

The slum-dwellers noticed Satish’s door locked from the outside on Wednesday morning. First, they did not suspect anything. But when the door remained bolted till Wednesday night, they started hammering on it. With no response from inside, the residents decided to break in.

“After breaking down the door, we saw the bodies of Satish and Chhotelal on the floor. Both had been throttled to death, with their hands tied with lungis. Chhotelal’s genitals had also been mutilated. An empty bottle of liquor and cowdung ash lay on the floor,” stated Ramesh.

The slum-dwellers informed the police, who came and took the bodies away. The angry slum-dwellers then decided to take the law into their own hands. They conducted a massive search operation to try and hunt out Sewkumar.

By the time they managed to track him down at a favourite haunt, they were baying for blood. Sewkumar was dragged out and beaten up with lathis and iron rods.

Hearing about the mob rampage, police officers rushed to the rescue of Sewkumar. But by then, it was too late. Sewkumar succumbed to his injuries on way to Naihati State General Hospital.

“We are carrying out massive raids in the area to find out whether any other reason triggered the killing,” said SP Kuldip Singh.    

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s Rs 5-lakh website, <>Calmanac, is expected to help tax-payers and businessmen avoid the queues at the CMC counters.

Instead of coming to the CMC , bills, forms, answer to queries on licence fees, building rules and so on can be had simply while sitting at one’s personal computer.

“The tax-payer can even download forms and bills if printers are attached to their computers,”, said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.

Those who do not have a personal computer can use the facility at any cyber cafe. Besides, said municipal commissioner Asim Barman, Calcutta Telephones had agreed to open a dozen information kiosks in different parts of the city to collaborate with the CMC’s portal, from which the tax-payer can get his information free.

In the first phase, eight kiosks are to be set up at Burrabazar, Tangra, Circus Exchange, Alipore, Cossipore, Jadavpur, Behala and Garden Reach.

Chief minister Jyoti Basu is slated to inaugurate the civic web site on the 309th birth anniversary of the city on August 24 at Taj Bengal.

The software for Calmanac is being prepared jointly by NRI Purnendu Chatterjee’s software company, TCG, and Response. Initially, data on 48 civic departments and 12 types of forms are to be fed into the web site.

“We plan to introduce credit card facilities, too, so people can deposit tax and purchase forms through computers without having to come to the CMC counters,” Barman said. Calmanac will help citizens get their jobs done at the CMC without falling prey to touts.

Graft has been a menace at the Corporation. A nexus between a section of civic officials and touts has left tax-payers with no option but to seek their help to avoid undue harassment.

Most of the time, people do not get forms from the counters because of bulk purchases by the touts. So, people in need of a particular form are forced to purchase it at a premium. Calmanac will help check the clout of touts to a great extent.    

Move over conventional computer centres. KnowledgePubs are round the corner. These 24-hour ‘sip-and-surf’ centres — to chill out and choose what, how and when to learn — will dot the cityscape by this year-end. “In KnowledgePubs, we want to give a feel-good factor to the elderly guy and the whizkid. The ambience is very important, as it stimulates the learning process,” says Bikram Dasgupta, CEO of Globsyn Technologies, and the man pioneering “a new knowledge community”. The Globsyn boss plans to set up 12 centres each in Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in four months’ time. The fully air-conditioned pubs, spread over 1,500 to 2000 sq ft, will follow a standard layout with multi-media and networked personal computer workstations, a 128-Kbps leased line, trained faculty, an on-line IT library, snack bar, and a swank front office-cum-lounge. “The KnowledgePubs, catering to the IT-education mass market, will be informal, but not casual, relaxed but not unserious,” declares Dasgupta. The difference is in both ambience and approach. The training method will be an integration of instructor-led training (ILT), computer-based training and web-based training (WBT). “In today’s competitive world, the industry focus is shifting from purely technical credentials to overall IT skills and from ready adaptability to real-world applications. The conventional training centres, with their ILT method, fail to achieve this objective and WBT alone can’t be successful in a country where Internet penetration is just two per cent. So, the answer lies in integration,” explained Dasgupta. So, at a KnowledgePub, one can either rely on the ‘interactive computer’, instructors, or simply log on to the courseware at KnowledgePub.com. Besides imparting technical skills, the centres will also offer modules on finance, human resources, project and business management. “KnowledgePub is the outcome of the shift in focus in the computer-training industry from the sellers to the customers. And this will surely set a new trend in the look and feel of the IT learning environment,” signs off Dasgupta.    

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
The police on Thursday went on an overdrive against private and public vehicles for using high-pitched horns violating the decibel limit. The police swung into action after environment minister Manab Mukherjee charged the force with a lack of initiative, amid fears that the high-pitched horns were leading to a spurt in hearing defects.

Sources said the environment minister spoke to deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya last week about the high decibel pollution outside schools and colleges and at important intersections.

Mukherjee showed him a report prepared by the environment department, which suggested that people are developing aural problems because of the horns. Environment and health department sources said two out of every 10 Calcuttans complain of hearing problems and are on medication.

The head of the department of ENT of Sambhunath Pandit Hospital, Debashish Mukherjee, said his department had recorded a sharp rise in patients suffering from aural disorders.

Deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda, said officers from local police station took part in the raid, conducted in front of nine schools and three hospitals and key intersections.

Police said 99 vehicles were penalised for using high-pitched horns. “Police seized their papers and booked the vehicles under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act,’’ Pachnanda said.

Police admitted that the situation is alarming. A source at the Motor Vehicles department said a vehicle is authorised to fit a horn within the 70-decibel limit. But most bus drivers ignore the law and fit horns of 100 to 250 decibels.

On Thursday, police officers waited in front of South Point, Lakshmipat Singhania, La Martiniere, Sekhawat Memorial and Shri Shikshayatan schools. They stopped vehicles and ordered the drivers to honk. Policemen measured the sound level and slapped a fine on the driver if it crossed the permissible limit.    

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has further extended the deadline for paying tax arrears without the interest and penalty from 1990 to March 1995.

Following a discussion with the chief minister, mayor Subrata Mukherjee had announced on Wednesday that house- owners with tax dues for their residential buildings up to 1990 will get an opportunity to clear their dues without interest and penalty if they paid up by November this year.

Hawker-free zone: Mukherjee also announced on Thursday that the CMC has drawn up a plan to make the central business district area, stretching from BBD Bag to Victoria Memorial, a zone free from hawkers.

ID cards: Member, mayor-in-council, Mala Roy, said that the encroachers on both banks of the Tollygunge Panchannagram channel in ward 108 will be given identity cards to avoid controversy when they are rehabilitated in future.

The re-excavation of the sewage channel is included in the Asian Development Bank’s environment development scheme.    

Calcutta, Aug. 10 
Trouble broke out on BT Road after a 10-year-old boy was run over by a private bus on route 78/1 on Thursday morning. Soon after the mishap, youth of the area turned violent and damaged the bus. Police arrested the bus driver and impounded the vehicle. The victim has not been identified yet.

The incident took place at 10.45 am, when the bus, speeding towards Sodepur from Shyambazar, knocked down the boy in front of Rabindra Bharati University. As soon as news of the accident spread, residents rushed to the spot and got hold of the bus driver. They threw stones at the vehicle, damaging it. Three other vehicles were caught in the violence.

Traffic was thrown out of gear. Passengers of other vehicles panicked and fled the spot. Protesting against reckless driving, residents blocked BT Road for over an hour from 11 am.

Later, a possé from Cossipore police station was deployed to control the tense situation. Residents fobbed off the policemen and refused to withdraw the blockade. However, the obstruction was withdrawn after policemen assured the agitators they would clamp down on rash drivers.    


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