Parking ban plan in school
Govt permits NGO aid for Midnapore
New courses, no teachers in state-run colleges
Telecom agitation to affect maintenance
Dacoity bid thwarted
GNLF criesfoul over delay in foodsupply
Torture victim to get security
Bihar university blocks results of 45000 students
Soren sidelined for ‘cause’
One killed, one hurt in Tripura blast

 
 
PARKING BAN PLAN IN SCHOOL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
The day after five-year-old Pragya Dalmia was run over by a bus on the premises of Shri Shikshayatan, police said they are “seriously thinking of asking the authorities not to allow school buses to be parked in the compound”.

Police officers have decided to “inspect” the school compound soon following reports that the kindergarten students play where the buses are parked everyday.

“An accident may occur any time,” a senior officer said.

Pragya was crushed under the rear wheels of the school bus that was to take her home on Thursday morning. She was knocked down when the driver was reversing and failed to notice the girl.

The school remained closed on Friday. The bus driver is still absconding.

Referring to Thursday’s “tragic incident”, minister of state for transport Sushanta Ghosh said: “Parents should come to us if they have any complaints regarding drivers and conductors on school buses.”

The minister, however, clarified that his department was not in a position to take action against the school authorities.

“The police can take some action if parents lodge a complaint of negligence against the school,” he added.

The girl’s parents have not lodged a complaint against the school yet.

On Thursday, members of the bereaved family had blamed the accident on the school authorities as it took place on the premises and there were no teachers at the site where the kids were boarding the buses to leave for home.

Youth Congress supporters staged a demonstration in front of the school on Lord Sinha Road, on Friday.

The agitators, protesting the “failure of the school authorities to ensure the safety of its students”, blocked the road for nearly two hours from 11 am disrupting traffic in the area.

Flight delayed: An Indian Airlines Airbus 300 on the Calcutta-Delhi sector was delayed by over five-and-a-half hours on Friday morning due to non-availability of pilots. The plane finally took off at 12.30 pm after the Airbus arrived from Delhi around 11.45 am.

Train-car crash: Train services of the Eastern Railways were disrupted on Friday morning when a Howrah-bound Bandel local hit a Maruti car at a level-crossing between Bally and Belur stations. Three Up and two Down trains had to be cancelled.    


 
 
GOVT PERMITS NGO AID FOR MIDNAPORE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
The state government has agreed to allow non-government organisations to provide relief material to victims of political clashes in Midnapore district.

The move was announced by deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya after West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Manas Bhuniya met him at Writers’ Buildings on Friday.

Bhattacharya said NGOs could approach the district magistrate for the distribution of relief to the affected villagers. He pointed out that, officially, there was no provision for the government to arrange for assistance to victims of political clashes, as opposed to natural calamities.

Villagers and supporters of the CPM, the Trinamul Congress and the Congress have suffered loss of life and property with rival party supporters destroying crops, looting property and torching houses in almost all the blocks of the district.

“People are living in most inhuman conditions as a result of the clashes which started in Keshpur and neighbouring areas almost two years ago,” Bhuniya said after the meeting.

“In Sabang alone, there are 400 homes that no longer exist. With the monsoon having set in, the villagers are going through hell. There is no food, shelter or clothing, and the district administration has provided no relief in any form whatsoever,” the PCC official, who hails from Sabang, added.

Last week, a six-member National Democratic Alliance team of parliamentarians visited several villages near Midnapore town and Keshpur to carry out an on-the-spot survey.

The members were unanimous in their opinion that whatever be the political affiliation of the villagers, the government and the local administration should have come forward with relief measures for those affected by the clashes.

“The plight of the Adivasis, Dalits and other minorities is the worst, and there has been no compensation or ex-gratia to the victims, in many cases, for two whole years.

“The government has not fulfilled even its minimum responsibility towards the villagers who have been suffering for months,” Bhuniya said.    


 
 
NEW COURSES, NO TEACHERS IN STATE-RUN COLLEGES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
The state government’s policy to introduce honours courses in several new subjects at a large number of state-funded colleges in the districts has led to an acute crisis of teachers in these institutions.

The crisis has arisen as the new courses were started without sanctioning an adequate number of teaching posts. Nearly 50 undergraduate colleges, which had introduced the new subjects during the 1998-99 season, are now either depending on part-time teachers or doing without any.

“Even a year after these new subjects were introduced, most of the institutions don’t have permanent teachers,” said Pradip Dutta, a teacher of Presidency College and leader of an association of teachers of government colleges.

Dutta feels the government’s move was encouraging as it aimed to curb the annual rush for admission to undergraduate courses at a few city colleges.

Government sources pointed out that following pressure from the government, the Serampore Girls’ College in Hooghly had opened undergraduate courses in electronics and computer science last year. But the college still doesn’t have a full-time teacher for these subjects. Similarly, the geography honours course was introduced at Krishnagore Government College a year ago.

The students, who had enrolled for the new course, are now at a loss as they don’t know how their syllabus will be completed before they take their Part I exams, since they don’t have a permanent teacher in the subject.

U.N. Ray, senior official of the higher education department, said the colleges had been asked to open the new courses only after sanctioning an adequate number of teaching posts. “We will definitely look into the matter,” he added.

n Golden jubilee: The Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute organised a seminar on “ Sol-Gel Science and Technology” as part of its golden jubilee celebrations on Thursday and Friday. Prof. C.N.R. Rao of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research inaugurated the seminar, which was attended by over 500 students.    


 
 
TELECOM AGITATION TO AFFECT MAINTENANCE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
Announcing a work-to-rule agitation to protest non-implementation of salary and service recommendations, telecom workers have said they will not attend to emergency maintenance work after duty hours from Saturday. This could affect maintenance and installation work in the local telephone exchanges, local and long-distance calls, and Internet networking. The Telecom Engineers Services Association (TESA) said they would continue their agitation till their demands are met. Sudipto Chatterjee, general manager (customer service) of Calcutta Telephones, however, said the agitation will not affect services. “Besides the engineers, there is enough technical staff to deal with the situation,” he said. Sadhan Ghosh, joint secretary of TESA, eastern zone, said the recommendation from the telecom ministry and the Fifth Pay Commission have not been met. The association has submitted a 12-point charter of demands to the chief general manager in this regard. “We cannot go on like this,” said Ghosh, adding that “all essential services” like newspapers, nursing homes, hospitals, etc., will be exempt from the purview of the agitation.    

 
 
DACOITY BID THWARTED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
Two armed dacoits were caught and severely beaten up by local residents when they attempted a burglary at a flat in New Alipore in south Calcutta on Friday afternoon. Two others managed to flee, the police said.

“Two firearms and two rounds of bullets were seized from them,” DC (DD) Narayan Ghosh said.

According to the Agarwals whose ground floor apartment in Block-P was raided, two armed youth tried to force their way in. On seeing the youth brandishing revolvers, the lady of the house slipped out through the back door and raised an alarm. About 500 people gathered outside the four-storeyed building. They managed to nab two members of the gang.    


 
 
GNLF CRIESFOUL OVER DELAY IN FOODSUPPLY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug.18 
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has threatened to renew its agitation in the hills of north Bengal. The immediate cause: the state government’s delay in arranging for the supply of foodgrain and pulses through the public distribution system at subsidised rates to ration card-holders below the poverty line. GNLF legislator Shanta Chhetry met chief secretary Manish Gupta at Writers’ Buildings on Friday and informed him that the hill people had not even been receiving rations at the old rates for the past four weeks. “Most districts in West Bengal have already come under the new scheme. But the government is yet to take any action for Darjeeling,” she said after the meeting. The state circular regarding supply of low-cost ration to card holders below the poverty line has not been issued in the Hills. Also, shops do not have adequate stocks. “We will resort to a widespread movement if no immediate measures are taken,” Chhetry warned. This could coincide with the renewal of agitation for Gorkhaland. GNLF supremo Subhas Ghising will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other leaders in New Delhi next month to discuss the issue. Deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya said: “There will be no separate state, but we will grant greater autonomy to the Hill Council.” n School quiz: The Discovery Channel Quiz 2000, conducted by Derek O’Brien, was held at Science City on Friday. In all, 1,300 students from 48 city schools took part in the junior and senior preliminary rounds. Aalekh Choudhury and Soumyajit Mitra of MP Birla Boys’ School and Sayan Bhattacharyya and Rohit Samanta from Calcutta Boys’ School won the senior and junior groups respectively.    

 
 
TORTURE VICTIM TO GET SECURITY 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Aug. 18 
A division bench of the Gauhati High Court today directed the Manipur government to allow relatives of ailing Khuraijam Pranam to meet him at the J.N. Hospital and has asked the state to ensure protection of his life.

The 24-year-old Pranam is now battling for life at the security ward of the hospital after he was allegedly tortured by Assam Rifles personnel in custody.

The High Court’s order came after Pranam’s father, Khuraijam Biren filed a petition saying his son was not handed over to any police station following arrest by Assam Rifles personnel.

Pranam was picked up by the personnel of the Eighth Battalion of the Assam Rifles on July 28 from Maibam Lokpaching in Bishenpur district.

Though it is mandatory for security forces to hand over arrested persons to the nearest police station within 24 hours of the arrest under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Pranam was not handed over to the police. He was kept at Assam Rifles’ camp for two days and allegedly physically tortured.

He was brought to the J.N. Hospital with serious injuries on July 30 by the Assam Rifles personnel after Nambol police station refused to accept him in that condition. Doctors at the hospital conducted a surgery on August 4.

Following the admission of the petition, the High Court on August 10 had asked the 8 Assam Rifles authorities to hand over the youth to the nearest police station.

After Assam Rifles failed to comply with the High Court’s directive, a division bench comprising Justice W.A. Shishak and Justice N. Surjamani Singh yesterday ordered the Assam Rifles to produce Pranam today before the High Court. Assam Rifles today produced a document saying Nambol police station accepted Pranam on July 30.

The High Court also acknowledged that Pranam was in the hospital and was not fit to move. It asked for the continuation of his treatment.

Minister dies: Minister of state for higher education L. Bhagyachandra Singh who was admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) hospital following a heart attack today died this evening.

He is survived by his wife, seven sons and three daughters. The minister slipped into a coma following an internal haemorrhage after the heart attack.    


 
 
BIHAR UNIVERSITY BLOCKS RESULTS OF 45000 STUDENTS 
 
 
FROM RUDRA BISWAS
 
Ranchi, Aug. 18 
Nearly 45,000 students from all over Bihar, including more than 9,000 from the Jharkhand region, who had appeared for their matriculation exams earlier this year, have been declared persona non grata by the Bihar School Examination Board.

Their results have also been withheld after the board suddenly decided to crack down on foreign nationals seeking Indian nationality through the back door.

The board warned that it would rescind the results of all the 45,000 students who had failed to submit their domicile certificates at the time of filling up of forms for matriculation exams.

A source in the BSEB said in 1995, the board had noticed that more than 190 Bangladeshi students had appeared for their matriculation exams from government-run schools in Godda and Dumka in the Santhal Parganas after crossing over through North Bengal.

Though several BSEB officials were suspended for allowing the foreign nationals to take the exams, there was apprehension that illegal immigrants had found another way of gaining Indian citizenship, the source said.

To prevent the racket from flourishing, the BSEB amended the 1964 Bihar School Examination Board Act. It became compulsory for all private students to appear for matriculation exams only through government-run schools. They were also made to submit domicile certificates at the time of filing up of forms for the exams.

However, Father James Toppo, principal of St. John’s School, Ranchi, told The Telegraph that contrary to the claims of BSEB, the amendments reportedly done in 1996 were kept a closely guarded secret and never circulated by the board to any of the schools in the state. He said the board had not objected while accepting the forms of the 1999-2000 batch, though no domicile certificates were submitted.

Father Toppo said the school authorities would file a writ petition against the board’s decision to withhold the results. Seventeen missionary schools have also filed a writ petition before the Ranchi bench of the Patna High Court praying for publication of all withheld results to enable the students to pursue higher studies.

The principal said this was a stepmotherly attitude towards the new Jharkhand state.

Militant influx

At least 12 National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) militants entered Shillong during curfew relaxation period to help the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, even as security forces continued a manhunt to raid militant hideouts in the city today, reports UNI. An 11-hour night curfew was imposed since 5 pm as search operation continued for the third day today. Police said the NSCN(I-M) cadres were taking shelter at Nongthymai, Jiengking and Rynjah in three groups.    

 
 
SOREN SIDELINED FOR ‘CAUSE’ 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Ranchi, Aug. 18 
The All-Jharkhand Students’ Union today virtually joined hands with the BJP in an offensive against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren. The Ajsu reiterated that it would lend the support of its two MLAs to any combination which would guarantee a “clean” chief minister for Jharkhand.

The Ajsu today further said it would not allow a corrupt politician like Shibu Soren to occupy the chief minister’s chair in the new state. Soren, who was indicted by the CBI in the 1993 JMM payoffs case and later for the murder of his private secretary Shashi Nath Jha, is facing a Herculean task in establishing his credentials as a leader with an untarnished image. The campaign for a clean and unblemished chief minister for Jharkhand is slowly but steadily gaining momentum.

Over the past week, senior BJP leaders, led by Union minister of state for forests Babulal Marandi and later joined by national vice-presidents Karia Munda and Kailashpati Mishra, have demanded the chief minister’s post for their party. They have announced that the BJP, with the highest number of 32 MLAs out of a total strength of 81 in the proposed Jharkhand Assembly, had the “right” to appoint its own chief minister who could deliver the goods.

Ajsu MLAs Joba Manjhi, currently minister of state in the Rabri Devi government, and Sudarshan Mahto along with former MLAs Suraj Singh Besra, Laxman Soi and Praveen Prabhakar, today met newsmen at the end of a meeting of the Ajsu central co-ordination committee. They said both MLAs have been directed to support any combination which guaranteed a clean and unblemished chief minister, preferably a tribal, for the new Jharkhand state.

The leaders added that other preconditions set by the Ajsu include withdrawal of all cases against Jharkhandi activists, many of whom are still languishing in jails all over the region, inclusion of the Ajsu in major policy-making bodies and equitable representation of all castes, tribes and communities in the Cabinet. The leaders stressed that both the Ajsu-supported Independent MLAs would guarantee their support to any combination which agreed to fulfil all four conditions set by the Ajsu central co-ordination committee.

The student leaders today also announced their intention to float a new party before the end of the year to motivate tribals for the task of building a new Jharkhand.

BJP leader’s demand

Senior BJP leader Lal Rajkishore Nath Sahdeo has urged President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to appoint party senior vice-president Kailashpati Mishra as Governor of Jharkhand, reports UNI.

Sahdeo, who had resigned from active politics for “personal reasons,” said Mishra was well versed with the socio-economic fabric of Jharkhand and would be the “best choice” for the post when Jharkhand was on the verge of attaining statehood. A chief minister with a vision and a Governor versed with the demography of the region could help steer the area towards prosperity, he said.

Ethnic tension was being fanned by some vested interests opposed to Jharkhand’s development, he said, adding the new state would be facing serious challenges which “a tough and visionary government” could alone tackle. <

Interim govt

Mishra said the National Democratic Alliance should form the interim government in Jharkhand, with the chief minister belonging to his party, reports PTI.

The BJP’s claim for heading the interim NDA government was strongest as it was the single largest party in the region having 32 MLAs, Mishra told newsmen here yesterday.

He claimed there was no difference of opinion among NDA constituents over the chief ministership issue, which would be decided by the legislators of the coalition in consultation with their central and state leaderships.    


 
 
ONE KILLED, ONE HURT IN TRIPURA BLAST 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Aug. 18 
A tribal youth was killed and another injured in a blast triggered by suspected United Bengali Liberation Front (UBLF) rebels in North Tripura today. Three non-tribals were also kidnapped .

Police sources said a group of armed UBLF rebels called out two tribal youth, Surendra Debbarma and Rabindra Debbarma, from their homes in Padmabil village under Panisagar police station of North Tripura district last night. After dragging the youth to a distance, the UBLF activists triggered blasts, killing Surendra Debbarma on the spot and seriously injuring Rabindra who was shifted to Kailasahar district hospital in a critical condition.

Nobody has been arrested in this connection. Sources said the attack was the “handiwork of Bengali militants.”

In a separate incident yesterday, three persons including a priest were kidnapped at gun-point from the remote Lambabil village under Manu police station of Dhalai district. Two persons, Kartik Dewan and Ranjit Chakraborty, were kidnapped yesterday from Lambabil area on their way back from Manu market. Besides, one Rabindra Das (27) of Lambabil village was also kidnapped by the same group.

Union defence minister George Fernandes arrives here on a day’s visit on August 30, official sources said. The state government had long been pressing the Centre for deployment of armed forces in Tripura for counter-insurgency operations.

The three MPs of the state also met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee recently to press for Army deployment.    

 

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