Cine star in saviour role
Assault cripples Medical College
String of mishaps leaves four dead
Canine comrades queue up to rescue Rufus
Cops hit the streets to check jaywalkers
Special branch split for police cell on militants
Toy bonanza for poor children
Arun Mitra dies
Centre mulls ban on Khasi militant outfit
Tiger Force rebels raid Tripura market area

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
“You are my sister. I was horrified reading about your plight. I want to help you get out of this traumatic life.’’ This was what filmstar Mithun Chakraborty told 18-year-old Nayana Sen (not her real name) when the two met on Tuesday afternoon.

As reported in Metro on Monday, Nayana was driven to prostitution after her parents’ death.

She now lives in Sonagachhi, studying in a junior college by day and entertaining customers at night in order to pay her tuition fees and save money to escape from the “hell-hole”.

“Are you ready to return to a normal life? Ask yourself this and take 10 minutes to think about it before you tell me,’’ Mithun told an overawed Nayana.

“I am offering you a job which will pay you Rs 3,000. I will finance your studies and my organisation, Aamra, will find a place for you to live,’’ he added.

For 10 long minutes, there was absolute silence in the fimstar’s central Calcutta hotel suite. All eyes were on the young girl.

“Yes, I will take it,’’ she finally whispered, tears welling up in her eyes.

For someone who had saved up Rs 15,000 in the past eight months by entertaining five customers every night, and was hoping to escape to freedom in a year’s time, Mithun’s gesture was like an impossible dream come true.

“They killed my father, who was an officer in Golabari police station. My elder brother got a job in the US and left me and my mother to fend for ourselves,’’ Nayana told her new-found ‘brother’.

“When my mother was sufering from leukemia, I sold my jewellery and withdrew all our savings for her treatment. Then, she died and the world went dark. I had nobody to turn to and...”

Suddenly, Nayana went quiet.

“Are you feeling shy? You are my adopted sister. Tell me why you took to this trade,’’ asked Mithun gently.

“My relatives, neighbours were after my blood. No one came forward to help me. I wanted to continue my studies at any cost. There was no alternative but to sell myself,”’ she concluded.

“This is unimaginable,” exclaimed the filmstar, before directing his personal secretary to finalise a job and accommodation for Nayana “immediately”.

Meanwhile, several individuals and organisations contacted The Telegraph on Tuesday, offering to bail Nayana out.

Among them were Coates of India, Trisys Communication, Rainbow Productions, and a New York-based NRI.

Local councillor and CPM leader Sudhanshu Sil said he would extend “all help” to get the girl out of Sonagachhi.

But by the looks of it, a filmi hero with his heart in the right place is enough to give Nayana a new life.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
Emergency admissions were stopped and work at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital was affected on Tuesday after junior doctors struck work to protest an attack on some of their colleagues.

The doctors were attacked “by outsiders” after a 21-year-old road accident victim died in the emergency department on Tuesday afternoon. Nearly 100 post-graduate trainees and junior doctors gheraoed principal S.K. Bose till late in the evening, demanding security for those on duty in the wards. Superintendent S. Sinha was not present when the incident took place.

The ceasework will continue as the junior doctors’ demands of lodging an FIR against the assailants and setting up a police picket were not met.

A final decision on continuing with the strike will be taken at a meeting on Wednesday.

Trouble began when Chandan Mukherjee, in the hospital with head and chest injuries sustained in a bus accident, died at the emergency ward about nine hours after he was admitted at 4.15 am.

S. Biswas, the attending doctor, said: “At the time of his admission, he was alert and conscious. His blood pressure was normal. We administered oxygen and IV-drips. But he also required a CT scan, for which we referred the patient to Bangur Institute of Neurology. Before we could make arrangements for him to be taken there, his condition deteriorated. At about 12.40 pm, his condition became critical and he expired at 1.50 pm.”

Initially, only two persons were with him. But after his death, a mob of 100, armed with iron rods, chains and bamboo sticks, entered the ward and attacked the attending physicians.

Some of them ran into the operation theatre. But the assailants dragged attending physician Tapan Jyoti Ghosh and some other doctors out of the OT and beat them up. “Before leaving, they threatened us with dire consequences,” said Biswas.

“The police turned up after the assailants had left and the police picket in the compound has also been withdrawn. So now we are at the mercy of the hoodlums,” he added.

The ceasework has hit the patients hard. Minati Gayen, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday for a gall bladder operation, said: “My operation was fixed for Thursday. But I don’t know what will happen if the strike continues.”

Rita Barua, admitted to the hospital with appendicitis, was to undergo the operation on Wednesday. “The doctors were very concerned about my condition. But now they do not seem to be bothered. What will happen if my condition deteriorates suddenly?”    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
Four persons were killed and a woman and her six-year-old daughter injured in a series of road accidents in the city and on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass on Tuesday.

A mob set ablaze a private bus on route 1A after a 34-year-old cyclist was run over near the Satyajit Ray Film Institute at Purba Jadavpur, on the Bypass.

The mob also damaged three fire engines and injured an officer. Residents blocked the Bypass for two hours, demanding immediate arrest of the driver.

According to additional superintendent of police (industrial) S.N. Gupta, the accident occurred around 8.30 am.

The cyclist was trying to cross the road when the bus knocked him down from behind, killing him on the spot. The panic-stricken driver immediately fled the scene with his vehicle.

Locals stopped another bus on the same route and set it on fire. A police van was also damaged by the mob. Police officers rushed to the spot. The blockade was lifted after police assured the agitators that the driver would be arrested at the earliest.

In another incident, a mob stoned buses at Phoolbagan after a private bus bound for Sealdah hit a woman and her six-year-old daughter in front of Bidhan Chandra Roy Children’s Hospital at 10 am. The woman was rushed to Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital in a critical condition. Her daughter was admitted to BC Roy Children’s Hospital.

Krishnananda Sarkar, officer-in-charge, Beleghata police station, said although the driver and the conductor managed to escape, the bus has been seized by officials of Narkeldanga police station.

Angry residents blocked the Phoolbagan crossing at Maniktala Main Road for two hours from 10.30 am, demanding immediate arrest of the errant driver. Eyewitnesses said the driver lost control as the bus was trying to overtake another in front of the hospital.

Abdul Gaffar Khan, 55, was run over by a Matador van at the crossing of Prinsep Street and Chittaranjan Avenue. Khan was taken to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, where he was declared “brought dead”. Angry residents blocked the road for nearly an hour from 9 am.

A taxi-driver, identified as S. Roy, 40, was killed after he lost control of his vehicle and hit a roadside wall at the crossing of St. George’s Gate Road and Commissariate Road at Hastings at 12 noon.

In another incident, an unidentified 50-year-old man was hit by a speeding vehicle in the morning, killing him on the spot.

No arrests were made in connection with any of the incidents.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
Rufus looks like any other Lhasa Apso, if you don’t know how old he is. The two-and-a-half-month puppy weighs only 1.3 kg. Suffering from severe anaemia, he sits cradled in his mistress’ arms without a whimper, awaiting a bloodline.

Moitri, a south Calcutta veterinary clinic, has found a solution to Rufus’ problem — regular blood transfusions that can keep the pup alive long enough to diagnose and correct the cause of his ailment.

The canine queue at the clinic on Tuesday evening was indication enough that there are people with pooches ready to come forward to help a dog in need.

Boxers, Labradors, Retrievers, and even an eminently elegant Afghan Hound stood by, waiting to have their blood typed so they could also come to the aid of other dogs.

Rufus’ saviour of the day turned out to be bright-eyed Simba, a three-year-old Cocker Spaniel-Labrador cross-breed, accompanied by mistress Radhika Bose.

“Rufus had been to many vets, all of whom prescribed strong medication not fit for a puppy. I had run out of alternatives till I found Moitri,” said Sushmita Pal Chowdhury, minutes before her Apso was wheeled into the OT.

“One transfusion can be safely given to dogs without fear of blood coagulation, but without blood typing, a second transfusion becomes a serious risk,” explains Kishore Ganguly, proprietor of Moitri, who set about devising a means of blood matching for dogs.

Haemotologist Dilip Bhattacharya was called in to conduct dog-blood typing for the first time in the city and six possible donors were identified for Rufus, who went in for the first transfusion 10 days ago.

Now, there is a ready group of donors which can be called upon whenever Rufus’ condition deteriorates for the Tommys, Rockys, Bullets and Badshahs have decided to be more than just man’s best friend.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
In a bid to reduce the number of road mishaps and impose pedestrian traffic rules, the police cracked down on jaywalkers at major crossings on Tuesday.

Deputy commissioner of police, south division, Ranjit Pachnanda, said the drive, conducted in coordination with the traffic police department, let off 172 jaywalkers after a stern warning. Twelve private buses were booked for “rash driving”.

Tuesday’s drive to educate and prosecute pedestrians was launched under instructions from police commissioner D.C. Vajpai. Pachnanda said this was not a “one-day drive... We will continue it to make the streets safe,” he said.

Pedestrians violating road rules were stopped at the crossings of Shakespeare Sarani-Camac Street, Park Street-Camac Street, Park Street-Chowringhee Road, Shakespeare Sarani-Chowringhee Road, Mayo Road-Dufferin Road, on Southern Avenue, Gariahat Road, Rashbehari Avenue, Taratala and its adjoining areas.

Not all jaywalkers were prosecuted. “We stopped them and tried to convince them that crossing the road while the traffic was in full flow could cost them their lives,” said an officer.

Over the past three days, the police have been using the public address system on various thoroughfares to educate pedestrians about following traffic rules.

“People here are in the habit of crossing roads without waiting for the traffic lights to turn red. This may cause an accident any moment. Often, it is not the motorist’s fault, as pedestrians try to scurry across the road,” said an officer.

Some people protested the police crackdown. “Walking on the footpath is not always possible because of various reasons. And the traffic police do not seem to care about the people waiting for a long time to cross a busy street,” a pedestrian on Park Street complained.

To ensure pedestrian safety, the police have decided to put up railings on the footpaths. “People will be forced to use the sidewalk if the iron railings are set up along the footpath near the crossings,” the officer said.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
With the threat from ISI and other Pakistan-sponsored terrorists rising in the city, the state government has bifurcated the post of deputy commissioner of police (special branch) to create a new post of deputy commissioner of police (security).

The job of the DC (security) will be to monitor the activities of ISI sympathisers and Muslim fundamentalists. Intelligence officials admit that militants are using Calcutta as a transit point to pass on information as well as arms and ammunition.

Deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya had recently acknowledged the presence of militant sympathisers in the city and promised to beef up security arrangements and tone up the intelligence-gathering machinery.

Two ISI agents, three suspected Ulfa sympathisers and two alleged LTTE militants were arrested from city areas and the airport during the past two weeks.

Sources said Bhattacharya, who also looks after the home (police) portfolio, expressed his displeasure with information-gathering set-up of the special branch. The DC, special branch, Suman Bala Sahoo, was shifted to the state police and M.K. Singh was asked to assume charge immediately. Police sources said Pradeep Banerjee, now DC, 6th Battalion, is expected to become the new DC of security.

South-eastern division

The government has also decided to form a new police division in the trouble-torn south-eastern parts of the city, with three sensitive police stations from east Calcutta and four from the south division. Police said a new post of DC, training, has been created to supervise police training.

Sources said police chief D.C. Vajpai and additional commissioner of police Damodar Sarengi had a lengthy meeting with the deputy chief minister a fortnight ago, where the changes were discussed at length. Vajpai and Sarengi told Bhattacharya of the urgent need to carve out a new division in the south-eastern area.

Police officers quoted statistics available with the detective department to tell Bhattacharya that the area is crime-prone and the divisional deputy commissioners are finding it difficult to cope with anti-crime work.

“All police stations in the south and east are sensitive and were becoming increasingly difficult for two divisional DCs to handle,’’ said a senior officer. The south-east division will consist of Topsia, Tangra, Beniapukur, Lake, Gariahat, Karaya and Ballygunge police stations.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
To bring a little bit of laughter into the lives of Calcutta’s street-children, a non-government organisation has decided to gift them a toy library.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation authorities have promised to allot a room on the premises of a Corporation school for setting up the library.

“Entertainment and recreation are as important as free food and education for the development of poor and destitute children,” said Subir Ghosh, secretary of Feelings India. “We have already begun the process of collecting the toys. We are going from door to door, requesting parents in well-to-do families to donate their children’s old toys. We are also asking kids to gift their toys to the less fortunate.”

The initial response from parents approached to donate their children’s old toys has been “tremendous”, said Feelings India sources. Initially, members of the organisation will carry the toys from place to place and distribute them to the street-children, who will be allowed to play with the toys for a few hours.

A full-fledged library, where children will be able to come and borrow toys and play for some time, will follow. “But for this, we need a very large space and a huge collection of toys,” said Ghosh.

The children who come to the library will be also given facilities for free medical treatment. Members who do the rounds with the toys will be accompanied by medical practitioners. While some of the kids play with the toys, the others will be examined by the mobile unit of doctors.

“Several prominent doctors in the city have already agreed to accompany us on these toy tours,” said Ghosh.    

Calcutta, Aug. 22 
Poet Arun Mitra died at his south Calcutta residence early on Tuesday of a cardiac failure. Mitra, 92, was a widower. He is survived by two children.

The poet was suffering from prolonged geriatric ailments and had just recovered from a femur fracture before his death, family sources said.

Mitra’s last wish was that his body be donated to the anatomy department of NRS Medical College and Hospital.    

Shillong, Aug. 22 
The Union home ministry is “seriously considering” banning the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, which has been carrying out hit-and-run operations in this capital city since the past week.

The administration imposed a curfew after a series of encounters between the HNLC and the security forces. A Central Reserve Police Force havildar was killed and a constable injured in one of these incidents.

HNLC militants had also ambushed superintendent of police (city) S.S. Kynjing’s convoy on Independence Day.

G.K. Pillai, joint secretary (Northeast affairs) in the Union home ministry, told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi today that the Meghalaya government had sought a ban on the HNLC. “The proposal is under consideration,” he said.

On the involvement of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) in the incidents here, the home ministry official said the security forces had been given a free hand to deal with the outfit.

“Since Shillong is not in Nagaland, the security forces can take necessary steps against the NSCN(I-M) without being accused of violating the ground rules of the Naga ceasefire,” he said.

Meghalaya chief secretary J.P. Singh, when contacted, refused to comment on the proposal to ban HNLC. “I cannot tell you anything on this,’’ he said.

According to intelligence reports and confessions made by some arrested militants, over a dozen NSCN(I-M) rebels sneaked into the city between August 17 and 18 to “assist” the HNLC in subversive operations.

The NSCN(I-M) was instrumental in the formation of the Hynniewtrep A’chik Liberation Council in 1992. The outfit was rechristened the HNLC when the Garo youth in its ranks launched a separate movement.

In return for training and providing weapons to HNLC activists, the NSCN(I-M) takes the lion’s share of the money extorted in Meghalaya.

Naga militant leaders have been using Shillong as a “safe sanctuary” since the Fifties.

Red Cross survey

A Red Cross team today completed its survey of devastation caused by floods in the state but said the quantum of relief will be decided later, our Guwahati correspondent reports.

The information in-charge of the five-member team, Solveig Olatsdottir, told The Telegraph that the team will leave for damage assessment in Bihar and West Bengal tomorrow and the relief amount will be decided only after it finishes its survey in the other two states. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has appealed for $ 3.5 million from its international donors for relief and rehabilitation work in the three states, most parts of which were badly affected by floods. Nearly 35 lakh people were affected in Assam alone in the third wave of floods.    

Agartala, Aug. 22 
Virtual anarchy prevailed in large areas of the Khowai subdivision with reports of largescale looting and arson.

A large group of tribals, backed by six heavily-armed All-Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) rebels led by ‘area commanders’ Ranjan Debbarma and Hiralal Debbarma, swooped down the Bengali-dominated Bachaibari market near Khowai subdivisional town yesterday, police said.

The militants opened fire in the air to scare away the traders and looted cash and valuables worth Rs 25 lakhs. The panic-stricken traders informed the nearby BSF post and the police in Khowai town. While the BSF jawans refused to move, the police sent a mobile patrol van to the spot.

A large number of Bengalis have been forced to take shelter in refugee camps. Two trucks loaded with food meant for ration shops were looted at Chebri on the outskirts of Khowai town.

In a separate incident yesterday, one 12-year-old tribal girl was killed and a middle-aged tribal seriously injured as a mob of Bengalis attacked Subal Kobra Para village following theft of 15 of their cattle.

The police said a group of armed tribal miscreants raided the Bengali-dominated Taranidas para village and snatched away 15 animals. The Tripura State Rifles jawans posted nearby gave chase and recovered 12 of the 15 stolen cattle. Incensed by the theft, residents of Taranidas para raided the nearby the tribal-dominated Subal Kobra para village and hacked to death a 12-year-old girl Nihar Rani Debbarma and seriously injured Krishna Debbarma.    


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