State passes rally-ban buck to Subrata
Intelligence alert on statehood battle build-up
NDA team for Midnapore arrives
CPM wields board broom
Govt offers new-college sop before polls
Case against four press-punchers
CMC calls for killer label on malaria
Four held for smuggling
Debangshu denied bail

 
 
STATE PASSES RALLY-BAN BUCK TO SUBRATA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
The state government has referred the issue of banning rallies on city streets to the newly formed Trinamul-BJP board of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

Filing a report before the high court on Friday, the state government said under Section 167 of the Bengal Municipal Act, 1993, roads, streets, lanes, parks, and open spaces in the city were vested with the CMC and fully controlled by the civic body.

The government claimed that political parties and other organisations should obtain permission from the CMC, now headed by mayor Subrata Mukherjee, to hold rallies in city streets.

The report further stated that if the CMC allowed political parties to hold rallies in city streets, the police should take responsibility to maintain law and order during such rallies.

Submitting this report before the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Barin Ghosh, government counsel Balai Roy said: “The police have already taken steps to alleviate the ordeal of the common people caused by frequent political rallies which clog the city’s busy thoroughfares.” He added: “The police have banned rallies in areas around Lalbazar.”

The government report was submitted in accordance with the court’s earlier directive.

The bench had passed an interim order on a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Supradip Roy against the administration and political parties, seeking a ban on holding rallies and meetings in city roads and parks on weekdays.

The PIL had requested the court to direct chief minister Jyoti Basu to call an all-party meeting to adopt a scheme or enact a law to ban rallies on city streets on weekdays. Roy urged the court to restrict political rallies to Sundays only.

“Let the meetings be held at the Brigade Parade Grounds only and no procession should be allowed to march towards the venue of the rally through Chittaranjan Avenue, College Street, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Esplanade and Sealdah. These areas should be declared public utility areas,” the petition had mentioned.

On Friday, Roy sought the permission of the court to include all political parties and mayor Subrata Mukherjee as parties in the case.

The court directed Roy to file an application in this regard.

Report on Keshpur

Calcutta High Court will consider whether a team of senior advocates should be sent to Keshpur to assess the present situation there and in other adjacent areas of Midnapore. The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice B. Ghosh was reacting to a petition filed by lawyers Subroto Mukherjee and Uttam Majumder, which claimed that the situation in these areas was still grave.

The petitioners filed two separate applications demanding deployment of the army in Keshpur to save “common villagers”.

Going by the court’s earlier directive, the director-general of state police on Friday submitted a report before the high court on the recent situation in Keshpur and adjoining areas through advocate general N.N. Gooptu.    


 
 
INTELLIGENCE ALERT ON STATEHOOD BATTLE BUILD-UP 
 
 
BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
An intelligence report has alerted the state about the alarming situation in Jalpaiguri district, where Kamtapuri extremists are marshalling resources for a violent separatist movement.

The state government has also directed the district administration to intensify the search to trace the Kamtapuri People’s Party (KPP) activists, who gunned down two school teachers, both local CPM leaders, on Monday.

Six KPP activists have been arrested so far in this connection.

According to the intelligence report, both the KPP and Kamtapuri Liberation Organisation (KLO) are gearing up for more intensive attacks.

The report also indicated that some CPM leaders and government establishments might be the targets. The district police have also been alerted. Police are making elaborate arrangements to guard important government offices, places of worship and radio stations in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Darjeeling districts.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya rushed to Jalpaiguri, reportedly at chief minister Jyoti Basu’s instruction.

Bhattacharya held a meeting with the district magistrates, superintendent of police, additional director general of police (Intelligence Branch) and the divisional commissioner to review the situation.

He instructed the administration to step up vigil on the possible targets and on the movement of the terrorists.

“The KPP terrorists have killed six of our party leaders in the past two years and damaged property. The government will not tolerate any separatist movement,’’ Bhattacharya told The Telegraph from Jalpaiguri. He said the entire Jalpaiguri, Moynaguri, Falakata and Kumargram area was tense. “We have asked people not to get provoked. We shall fight the KPP politically,’’ Bhattacharya said.

Meanwhile, about 10,000 people took part in a procession organised by the CPM on Friday to protest the murder of the two leaders.

Director general of police, Dipak Sanyal, has instructed the district police to continue combing operations.

He has submitted a preliminary report to deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, expressing concern at the on-going ethnic clashes at different places in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts.

Research unit opened: Manovikas Kendra Rehabilitation and Research Institute for the Handicapped (MRIH) has set up a new unit at their EM Bypass centre. This new unit, the Bio-medical Research and Diagnostic Centre, will help predetermine the birth of mentally challenged children.

Tamil theatre festival:


 
 
NDA TEAM FOR MIDNAPORE ARRIVES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
An inquiry team appointed by the National Democratic Alliance, comprising six members of Parliament, arrived in Calcutta on Friday night to visit “disturbed areas” in Midnapore district. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee was at the airport to receive the team.

The team, led by S. Venugopalachari of the Telugu Desam, will leave on Saturday morning to make an on-the-spot study of the situation prevailing there.

The move is aimed at countering the visit of a delegation of CPM MPs to Midnapore last month. “We will submit a report to NDA convenor George Fernandes after we return to New Delhi,” Venugopalachari said on his arrival.

Other members of the team are Prabhunath Singh of Samata Party, Sanjay Paswan of the BJP, S. Jadav of Shiv Sena, C. Krishnamurty of the MDMK and Sudip Bandopadhyay of the Trinamul Congress.

Talking to reporters, Venugopalachari said: “We will visit those areas which have been experiencing continued violence.”

But the team has not yet decided whether it will visit trouble-torn Nanoor as well. “We will decide that tomorrow,” said Venugopalachari. Bandopadhyay said the decision would depend on the time available after touring the affected areas in Midnapore.

Places like Keshpur, Pingla, Sabang, Garbeta and Chamkaitala have witnessed repeated clashes between the Trinamul Congress and CPM supporters. Over 100 people from both sides have died ever since the clashes broke out about a year ago. The violence increased after the Trinamul wrested the Panskura Lok Sabha seat from the CPI last May.

The team has no intention to meet chief minister Jyoti Basu or other political leaders.

Venugopalachari clarified that the team had not been sent at the behest of Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee. “It is an independent NDA decision.”

Meanwhile, the DYFI, the CPM’s youth wing, held a rally at Chamkaitala to counter the meet organised by Banerjee on Wednesday. Local leaders claimed that the turnout was larger than that at the Trinamul rally.

Boy assaulted: A 14-year old boy, Sambhu Biswas was brutally assaulted on charges of theft at Gangnapur in Ranaghat on Friday, says a staff reporter. Police said Sambhu was picked up from his home by Chanchal Mukherjee and his men, who took him to a field and beat him up. Taking him for dead, they left after admitting him to a hospital.    


 
 
CPM WIELDS BOARD BROOM 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
n a desperate bid to retain control over the Uttarpara-Kotrang municipality, the ruling CPM has dropped 12 of the 13 councillors. Election to the municipality will be held on Sunday and the party has taken a major risk by dropping almost all the sitting councillors, including chairman Santipriya Dasgupta.

In the 25-member civic board, the CPM had 13 seats and the CPI one. The Congress and Trinamul Congress had four and seven seats, respectively.

But the CPM’s decision has surprised many important district party functionaries.

“This is the most crucial decision we have ever taken. Many state leaders also suggested that we accommodate as many sitting councillors as possible, but we managed to convince them that our poll prospects will be severely dented once we nominate these sitting councillors to fight again, a CPM district secretariat member said. “If we win, this will be an example for our party bosses who might be encouraged to take a similar decision in the coming elections”, he added.

In all, 99 candidates are in the fray for the 25-member civic board. The one bright spot for the CPM is that many dissident Trinamul leaders are contesting the polls independently and are likely to divide the anti-CPM votes.

Trinamul Congress Hooghly district chief Dilip Jadav, however, discarded this theory. He alleged that the CPM was backing many independent candidates. “The CPM’s only intention is to divide anti-CPM votes. They have also put some former Congressmen in the fray to defeat us”, Jadav pointed out.

The CPM is promising a clean civic body in its campaign, and using this to explain the new faces.

Clarification

The article “Life’s Little Lessons” in Metro (edition dated August 9) mentioned that Lakshmipat Singhania School has lowered its admissions age from five to three. Principal A. Rozdan has clarified that the admission age has “not yet” been lowered. It remains at four, not five years.    

 
 
GOVT OFFERS NEW-COLLEGE SOP BEFORE POLLS 
 
 
BY BARUN GHOSH AND
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
The ruling CPM plans to open new colleges in the city and the districts before the Pujas in a step seen to appease the electorate before next year’s Assembly elections.

State minister for higher education Satyasadhan Chakraborty recently said the higher education council has already begun inspecting the buildings.

“Officials have been asked to submit reports within seven days of completing the inspections,” he added.

The new college at Beckbagan in south Calcutta has already started functioning. Another college is soon coming up at Behala.

Asked whether this move was aimed at wooing voters, the minister declined to comment.

Officials of the higher education department, however, admitted that the government appeared more serious this time, unlike in previous years, to set up new colleges because of the coming elections.

“Never before did the government undertake such a massive exercise for setting up new undergraduate-level colleges,” one of the officials said.

Mainline opposition parties did not hesitate to point out that the CPM, faced with an eroding base even in the rural belt, had undertaken the move with an eye on the coming elections.

“The CPM’s gameplan is to influence the elite middle-class voters, who are disenchanted with the Front’s education policy,” said Trinamul spokesman Pankaj Banerjee.

According to reports, the Left Front, entrenched in the saddle since 1977, did not, however, undertake any such measure either in 1992 or in 1996 when Assembly elections were also held.

Observers say the move is one of the last-ditch efforts to restore the CPM’s image, sullied in recent years due to its failure to promote higher education.

According to officials, Left Front MLAs and MPs have been assigned to identify the areas which need new colleges.

For instance, the government had last month cleared the opening of a new college at Kashipur in Purulia with recommendations from local CPM MP Basudev Acharya.

Another college is coming up at Mirik in Darjeeling with the approval of Asok Bhattacharya, urban development affairs minister and local CPM legislator.

New colleges are also planned at Ketugram in Burdwan and Chapra in Nadia, two in Bankura and another near the Sunderbans in South 24-Parganas.

The officials pointed out that a number of factors like infrastructure, staff strength and student capacity will be taken into account before the final approval for the new colleges is given.    


 
 
CASE AGAINST FOUR PRESS-PUNCHERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
The city police started a case on Friday against four Writers’ Buildings employees for assaulting journalists outside the office of the director of the information and cultural affairs department on Thursday.

Deputy commissioner, headquarters, Nazrul Islam, said the assaulted journalists had lodged complaints at Hare Street police station.

State home secretary, Sourin Roy, described the incident as a criminal offence. “A departmental probe will also proceed separately’’, he said.

Trinamul workers staged a demonstration in front of the Writers’ Buildings central gate. They shouted slogans against the assault of scribes by CPM-controlled state coordination committee activists. The police arrested 60 Trinamul workers before dispersing the demonstrators.

Press Club, Calcutta, has appealed to all mediapersons to observe “Protest Day’’ on August 16 and wear black badges.

Representatives of several organisations met deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who also holds the information and cultural affairs portfolio and lodged protests against the attack.

West Bengal Information and Cultural Officers’ Association, which had submitted a deputation to the director of information on Thursday, in a statement expressed “shock” at the incident.

Expressing regret, the association added: “Journalists came to the office of the director of information to inquire about our deputation, but left when we told them that the association does not want to publicise its grievances through the media.’’.

The officers’ association, however, did not mention which section of government employees had assaulted the scribes. Neither did they demand action against errant employees. Officials of the information and cultural affairs department, who witnessed the incident, have also not come forward to identify the culprits.

Ashok Bose, president, Press Photographers’ Association, told Bhattacharya that scribes and photo-journalists could not be cowed down by brutal force. He demanded stern action against the culprits.    


 
 
CMC CALLS FOR KILLER LABEL ON MALARIA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided that it would urge the state government to declare malaria a “killer disease.”

A resolution to this effect was made on Friday at a meeting attended by mayor Subrata Mukherjee, member, mayor-in-council Javed Khan and senior officials of the Corporation’s health department.

The mayor also announced that the CMC will launch a major drive against malaria from September, when the disease is most rampant.

The CMC will also assess the infrastructure at all Corporation-run malarial clinics in Calcutta. According to Mukherjee, measures were being taken to provide round-the-clock service to patients in some clinics, especially those in malaria-prone zones.

“We are also trying to procure more expensive, effective medication for corporation-run clinics,” Mukherjee said.

Khan said inclusion of malaria in the government’s list of “killer diseases” was necessary, as this will empower the Corporation to take action to check the menace.

“After we meet officials, we will approach the government to bring the amend the Bill to include malaria on the killer diseases list,” Khan said.

An 11-member committee will work on the amendment besides initiating a anti-malarial drive in the city. The committee will include the mayor, MIC, health, CMC officials, eminent doctors and government agency officials.

According to Khan, construction sites are the biggest breeding grounds of malarial larvae.

Making a strong case for amending the existing law, Khan said the Corporation was hamstrung under existing regulations which allowed it to only slap fines on negligent promoters and contractors.    


 
 
FOUR HELD FOR SMUGGLING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
The police arrested four smugglers from Jagatpur in Baguiati on Friday and recovered Bangladesh-made cigarettes worth Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 1.4 lakh in cash from them.

A foreign-made VCP, a television set, a telephone and some important papers were also seized.

Kalyan Mukherjee, sub divisional police officer of Barasat said the police raided a house, acting on a tip-off where the smugglers had put up.

“We are now looking for the other gang members”, he said    


 
 
DEBANGSHU DENIED BAIL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.11: 
Calcutta High Court denied Debangshu Sengupta’s petition for bail on Friday. He was arrested in connection with the murder of his wife, actress Rumni, on May 27.

In the division bench of Justice N.A. Chowdhury and Justice H. Banerjee, Bolai Roy and Asim Roy, the petitioners’ counsel pleaded that their client was innocent and the police had no criminal evidence against him.    

 

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