Suspected Hizbul militant grilled
Nostalgia and tears at Bethune reunion
Crack found on plane wing
Grand rally prelude to Mamata drive
Gang of jute smugglers busted, 7 held
Murder bid sparks anger, roadblock
Police gun down Ulfa hitman
No end in sight to rape impasse
Jharkhand Cong bickers over govt

Calcutta, Aug. 12 
The 42-year-old suspected Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Jamil Akhter, told interrogators on Saturday that terrorists were planning to strike several vital installations in the city, according to senior officers of the special branch and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau.

But sleuths could not get any further details out of Akhter. “He is not revealing the names or antecedents of the persons who were to carry out the operation. We have not got access to the plan as yet,’’ a intelligence officer said.

Beniapukur police on Friday arrested Akhter from his house at Mafidul Islam Lane. Police and security agencies have launched a manhunt to track down Akhter’s associates.

“However, his arrest was highly publicised and we fear the three have left the city,’’ an officer of the special branch said.

Deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Nazrul Islam, said investigators seized several documents from Akhter’s house which revealed he was on the Mujahideen payroll and took orders from the outfit’s Karachi office.

Islam said security has been beefed up around key Central and state government installations like All-India Radio, Writers’ Buildings, Calcutta airport, Victoria Memorial and other buildings.

Police checked Akhter’s passport and found he is a frequent visitor to Dubai. His neighbours at Mafidul Islam Lane said that several “bearded, tall and well-built strangers’’ visited him regularly at home, where he lived with his wife and two sons.

Akhter runs a small air-conditioning and refrigerator shop on Rifle Range Road. “He could not justify his Dubai trips or where he got the money to get there,’’ an officer said. Police are verifying a tip-off that Akhter was in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir last year and attended a meeting in Muzaffarabad, where Hizbul commanders briefed their “agents’’ on the jehad against India.

Police said Akhter has flown several times to Bangladesh, Singapore and Pakistan over the past four months. Officers have seized his passport and are studying the documents seized from his house.    

Calcutta, Aug.12: 
Former students of Bethune School assembled at a function on Saturday and recalled the glorious past of the 151-year old institution, which was closely connected with the Bengal renaissance in the 19th Century.

The re-union was organised by the school’s ex-students to commemorate the death anniversary of John Eliot Drinkwater Bethune, who arrived in India in 1848 and founded the school the following year with an aim to promoting female education in Bengal.

Suchitra Mitra, Rabindrasangeet exponent, herself a former student of the institution, released a book called Bethune School o Nari Sikkhar Dersho Bochor. The publication has been organised by the institution’s re-union committee. Members said a second volume of the book is on the cards.

While ex-students recounted “happy memories” of their school days, the 76-year-old singer was in tears: “I am nostalgic. I cannot control myself. I had first stepped into this institution when I was a 11-year-old girl. I am extremely happy to be here,” she said.

The function ended with a rendition of Tagore’s Purano se diner katha, sung together by all the ex-students attending the function.

Earlier, students presented a programme in memory of their school’s founder.    

Calcutta, Aug.12: 
A major disaster was averted with the chance detection of a six-foot-long crack on the left wing of an Indian Airlines Airbus 300 bound for Delhi on Saturday morning.

The aircraft had arrived from Delhi on Friday evening. It had been checked by engineers on night duty and cleared for take off.

On Saturday, after luggage had been loaded onto IC 264 and passengers were about to board the aircraft, engineers at departure noticed the crack. Passengers were put onto another aircraft, which left for Delhi three hours behind schedule.    

Calcutta, Aug.12: 
Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee will lead a mahamichhil (grand procession) in the city on Sunday to kick off her party’s campaign against the CPM’s “political terror in the state.”

The procession will start from Subodh Mullick Square at 1 pm and terminate at Gandhiji’s statue, off Park Street, where the Trinamul leader will address a rally.

The mahamichhil will be backed up by similar agitations in all district headquarters through the month. Mamata will go on an intensive “mass contact” drive from the first week of September, after Parliament’s monsoon session breaks.

Trinamul spokesman Pankaj Banerjee said the mahamichhil aimed at fostering public opinion against the CPM’s “terror tactics and political violence in rural Bengal, evident from the massacre of Trinamul workers in Midnapore, Bankura, Hooghly and Birbhum.”

He said Trinamul would continue to underscore the need for President’s rule in the state to ensure a free and fair Assembly election, since the CPM appeared “bent on using the state administration and the police to rig it.”

The Trinamul Youth Congress has threatened to gherao and heckle minister of state for transport Sushanta Ghosh in Calcutta for “threatening Mamata and using abusive language against her” at a rally at Chamkaitala on Friday. “He must apologise within three days or face the consequences,” said a party statement.    

Calcutta, Aug.12: 
The police on Saturday smashed a ring of jute smugglers and arrested Ramesh Gupta, a businessman from Burrabazar, with six associates. Ten bales of jute, worth Rs 15 lakh, were seized. The arrested have been remanded in police custody.

Gupta’s driver and aides removed the jute bales in Howrah while they were in transit from a Hooghly mill to the port for shipment. Police rounded up Gupta’s driver, Ehsanul Haq, and another gang member, Akbar, from Ekbalpore.

Deputy commissioner of police, port, Z. Hasan, said Gupta, who operates from Cotton Street and owns a large godown in Shibpur, would forward the stolen jute to his manufacturing unit in Howrah.

Hasan said the authorities of a jute mill in Bauria, Hooghly, had complained to South Port police station last week that a few tonnes of jute were missing after they had been loaded into a container truck and despatched from their factory to the port. “The authorities told us they were despatching another consignment of 32 bales on Friday,’’ officer in charge of South Port police station A.H. Hossain said.

Police raided Gupta’s godown and recovered the bales.    

Calcutta, Aug.12: 
Trouble erupted at Pailan, with thousands of residents squatting on Diamond Harbour Road to protest criminals shooting a 34-year-old man, Pranab Naskar, on Saturday. Witnesses said Naskar, a promoter, had just stepped out of his house in the morning when he was surrounded by six criminals.

They pinned him to the ground and fired from the country-made revolvers. Police said one bullet pierced Pranab’s shoulder but two others missed the target.

Pranab’s neighbours and brothers rushed out of their houses on hearing the din and chased the assailants, but they managed to flee. Pranab, profusely bleeding, was admitted to a nursing home in Ekbalpore, where he is battling for life.

Police said Pranab was involved in several landfill projects and had developed bad blood with some criminals of the area. Pranab’s brother, Pijush, named Bhola, Rashid and a few members of the Munsef Mullah gang as the attackers.

Tension erupted as news of the attack spread. Shopkeepers downed their shutters and local youth took to the streets, blocking Diamond Harbour Road till late on Saturday evening.

Held for killing:Absconding CPM activist Anjan Dasgupta has been arrested for his involvement in the killing of CPM leader Debal Ghosh at Falakata tourist lodge, Jalpaiguri district. Ghosh was gunned down at point-blank range on June 16 at a local party office. Dasgupta, a DYFI leader, fled soon after the murder.    

Jorhat, Aug. 12 
A top Ulfa hitman and “explosives expert” was gunned down by security forces today inside a hotel in the heart of Tinsukia town in Upper Assam. Three other militants were also killed.

A huge cache of explosives, a .32 pistol, Chinese-made hand grenades and many incriminating documents were also recovered. The slain “explosives expert” of the banned outfit has been identified as Apurba Gogoi from the Duliajan area of the district, the Tinsukia superintendent of police said. The other three were yet to be identified, police said.

Troops of the 9 Grenadiers under the 2 Mountain Division and Tinsukia police cordoned off Hotel Rex on Rongagora Road at 3 am. The troops shot dead the quartet after the cornered militants fired on them. Army sources said the militants were planning to disrupt Independence Day functions in the district. Security has been beefed up in Tinsukia district and elsewhere in Upper Assam as threats of militant strikes loomed large.

Police were mobilising public support in resisting the rebels. In many districts in Upper Assam, villagers were guarding railway tracks at night. “We cannot take any risks. If something happens we will have to face the music (of the security forces),” said a villager of Safrai. They are guarding the 3.5-km stretch of railway track running along the village.

BJP flays AGP: The BJP today criticised the Asom Gana Parishad government for protecting illegal migrants in the state. “The Assam agitation (which had driving out foreigners as its focal issue) on which the AGP rode to power has completely taken a backseat”, party’s state unit organising general secretary V. Satish told newsmen here.    

Imphal, Aug. 12: 
The Manipur police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are continuing to have serious differences over the investigation into the alleged rape of a housewife at Lamdan village.

A 27-year-old housewife was allegedly raped by two CRPF jawans at the village in Churachandpur district on July 19. The police started investigating the charges after a case was registered against the CRPF at Loktak police station.

While the CRPF authorities are insisting on DNA tests of the alleged culprits instead of a forensic examination, the state police are unhappy over the way the CRPF authorities are frequently going to the Press on the mode of investigation.

The police want to conduct the probe without being subjected to any pressure.

A press release signed by inspector-general of police (law and order) A. Romenkumar Singh today appealed to all “to extend unstinted help, support and co-operation to the investigating agency to find out the truth in the larger interests of criminal justice.”

The appeal by the Manipur police came after the CRPF, in a statement yesterday, accused the police of dragging their feet in the investigation.

CRPF deputy inspector-general (operations) J.S. Bisht has said the DNA tests would eliminate the possibility of “wrong persons” being punished. The CRPF said they are ready to produce the eight personnel who were alleged to have gone to the victim’s house before a judicial magistrate for test identification parade as per the law.

Reacting to the CRPF’s criticism, the police highlighted various aspects of rape and the trauma faced by the victim. It even quoted a judgment of the Delhi High Court which said, “It would be better if the higher officers do not go to Press while investigations into such a serious case is in progress.” The Delhi High Court’s observation has said “sometimes publicity-hungry officers do spoil the case for the prosecution.”

“Keeping in view the judicial observation coupled with the seriousness and sensitivity of the case, an introspection into the professional performance, not in a spirit of denigration but in dialectical perspective and an objective of synergetical co-ordination between the CRPF authority and the state police to find out the truth, so that the culprits are punished, is the need of the hour,” the police statement read.

“The inherent bashfulness, the innocent naïveté and feminine tendency to conceal the outrage of masculine sexual aggression are factors which are relevant to improbablise the hypothesis of false implication,” the police said.

The investigation of a rape case is very sensitive and delicate, which requires meticulous steps to identify the suspect without exposing the unfortunate victim, the police added.    

Ranchi, Aug. 12 
Differences have surfaced in the south Bihar Congress unit over the issue of government formation in the proposed Jharkhand state. Senior party leaders are issuing contradictory statements to the media, resulting in confusion among the rank and file. While Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Furkan Ansari maintained that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren has already agreed to join a non-BJP coalition along with the RJD, state welfare minister Bagun Sumbrui today said the Congress should allow the National Democratic Alliance to form the new government. Irate Congress supporters submitted representations to AICC observers Gopi Nath Dixit and Satya Bahin demanding setting up of a separate Jharkhand PCC and the ouster of all Congressmen hailing from north Bihar. The central observers have been sent to assess the mood of grassroots workers in view of the organisational elections slated for October. Party workers also demanded the immediate removal of PCC chief Chandan Bagchi, who had allegedly tried to lobby with the high command into referring the Bill to a select committee. Sources said dozens of party workers, who met the AICC observers, said the nearly-defunct Jharkhand Regional Congress headed by MP Thomas Hansda should be disbanded and a six- member ad hoc committee be set up to oversee organisational polls following the creation of a separate state. Party workers said fresh nominations should be sought for the post of delegates to the Jharkhand PCC and these should be filled up by tribals and those permanently settled in Jharkhand. Workers said they would not accept any “non-Jharkhandi leaders.”    

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