Asim cracks whip on Romeos
Hacked to death in broad daylight
Hospital gasps in flash strike grip
Kerosene off ration shops till Sunday
Road rule brake on school buses
State sets September date for tech school
Party activists take to streets, traffic crippled
Strike threat sparks line repair scurry
Laloo ploy to block BJP
Centre asked to repeal Act

 
 
ASIM CRACKS WHIP ON ROMEOS 
 
 
BY SUVRO ROY AND CHARLES NANDI
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28 
Alarmed over increasing cases of eveteasing in Salt Lake, finance minister Asim Dasgupta is planning to hit the streets with a campaign against the gangs terrorising women of the township.

“I am determined to put an end to the cruel harassment of women,” said Dasgupta on Monday.

As a first step, he canvassed opinion at a meeting of the FE block committee last Saturday.

At the packed community centre, nearly a dozen girls, accompanied by their parents, told Dasgupta and senior police officers of their ordeals.

Dasgupta told The Telegraph he and “good friend” Buddhadev Bhattacharya, deputy chief minister who also holds the police portfolio, would oversee a drive against the gangs across Salt Lake.

“My family has not had to face any such harassment but that does not mean I cannot understand the pain of these victims. All the victims come from good, educated families,” he said.

As an upshot of Saturday’s meeting, the police arrested 14 youth on motorcycles and cars. They are known to have been harassing women in Salt Lake for a long time.

Saturday’s meeting was attended by additional superintendent of police (Barrackpore), Piyush Pandey, sub-divisional police officer (Salt Lake) Deep Narayan Goswami, local councillor Gita Biswas, representatives of the block committee and local youth.

The girls’ parents urged Dasgupta to take immediate action against the youth harassing their daughters.

They alleged that earlier complaints to the police had not yielded results and requested Dasgupta to take up the matter with the police top brass.

The police said that these gangs, mostly from outside Salt Lake, chose to operate within the quiet township.

“We will take strong action against these gangs. The police have been asked to maintain a strict vigil in the areas where the eveteasers operate, specially the Green Verges,” said Dasgupta.

Police sources said a restaurant in FE block has added to the problem. Girls going to the restaurant unescorted or with their parents are becoming easy targets of these motorcycle-borne youth.

“We have formed special teams to combat this menace in FE block and elsewhere in Salt Lake. Plainclothesmen have been deployed around the restaurants, markets, bus stops and the quiet and lonely areas,” an official of Bidhannagar (South) police station said on Monday.

A high-level meeting has already been convened in Salt Lake to chalk out a strategy on checking eveteasing.

Dasgupta said the police have been asked to act on the basis of complaints lodged by parents in every part of the township.

Police sources said that areas like Nicco Park, Nalban boating complex, Lake Town and Bangur Avenue are also places where vigil has been intensified.

“Such is the extent of eveteasing in some areas of Salt Lake and its neighbourhood that residents are terrified and prevent their daughters from stepping out alone,” a senior police officer said.    


 
 
HACKED TO DEATH IN BROAD DAYLIGHT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28 
A 28-year-old man, suspected to be a criminal, was hacked to death in broad daylight on Monday at Bishnupur, 20 km from Calcutta. He was returning home on his scooter after dropping his daughter at school.

Local residents blocked the road in the area, protesting the murder, and also hurled brickbats at the police when they resorted to a lathicharge to disperse them. All shops and the local market remained closed. No arrests were reported till Monday evening.

Jayanta, a supplier of building materials and formerly a CPM activist, had recently switched over to the Trinamul Congress. Police said he was wanted in a number of cases and was on bail.

On Monday morning, he was returning home after dropping his daughter at Carmel School .As soon as he reached Amtala, a group of young men in an auto-rickshaw intercepted him and attacked him with sharp weapons. They stabbed him repeatedly and sped away, bursting bombs.

Residents rushed a profusely bleeding Jayanta to hospital, but he died on the way. Angry residents demanded immediate arrest of the culprits and pelted missiles at the policemen when they reached the spot, injuring some of them.

Officer-in-charge of Bishnupur police station Utpal Saha rushed to disperse the mob. The police, however, denied having resorted to a lathicharge.

Additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Damayanti Sen said: “Jayanta had a criminal record. He was earlier arrested in various cases. Today’s incident was probably the result of gang rivalry”.

Local Congress leader Biswanath Gayen said: “Jayanta always had a dubious track record. He became a target of the CPM as soon as he joined the Trinamul ranks.”    


 
 
HOSPITAL GASPS IN FLASH STRIKE GRIP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28 
The oldest and largest hospital in the city is under siege, yet again.

Less than four days after junior doctors at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital called off their agitation demanding “more security” and “better facilities”, Group-D employees went on an “indefinite hungerstrike” from Monday, disrupting services.

The agitating staff members were protesting the assault on a general-duty attendant on Sunday night. They gheraoed hospital superintendent S. Sinha and deputy superintendent Chandan Sen for over two hours, demanding action against those involved in the assault. The injured attendant is undergoing treatment in the hospital’s casualty ward.

The agitation on the campus spelt serious trouble for hundreds of critically-ill patients in the emergency and casualty wards.

The situation worsened in the evening, with the attendants refusing to cooperate with the doctors. Sumantra Mondal, who had admitted his grandmother to the casualty ward two days ago, alleged that no one had attended to her on Monday. “Who will be responsible if something happens to her?” he demanded.

Nurses on duty admitted that patients “suffered a lot” due to non-availability of ward attendants throughout the day.

Draupadi Biswas, acting matron, said: “We want the authorities to intervene immediately to restore normalcy. If no action is taken, the situation will worsen in the days ahead and the blame for anything happening to the patients will fall on the nurses.”

The deputy superintendent later said the hospital authorities have taken “strong exception” to the flash strike. “We will definitely probe the matter,” he added.

But the general-duty attendants appeared adamant. “We will not withdraw the agitation until the culprits are arrested. Till then, we will not resume our duties, which include carrying call-books to doctors on duty, until our safety is assured on the hospital campus,” declared ward-master Subrata Neogi.

He alleged they were being subjected to repeated attacks by antisocials on campus. “The hospital authorities are fully aware of this, but no action has been taken so far,” he alleged.

R.K.Tiwari, an officer from Bowbazar police station at the hospital outpost, admitted that the campus becomes “a den of anti-socials” after dark.    


 
 
KEROSENE OFF RATION SHOPS TILL SUNDAY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28 
Blue kerosene will not be distributed from ration shops this week till Sunday.

The reason? “The state food and supplies ministry did not issue this week’s quota of kerosene on Monday,” said Bimal Dey, general secretary of the Kerosene Dealers’ Association.

He said the government will release the next quota of kerosene to dealers on September 4. So, blue kerosene should be back on the public distribution system from next Monday.

“The government had issued an order on August 8 restricting the supply of kerosene to half a litre a week, and not exceeding two litres a month. We are in a fix now, as this is the fifth week of the month and the ministry has already released the month’s quota of two litres,’’ Dey explained.

The government, however, blames the shortfall on the Centre. “The Centre’s allocation of about 80,000 kilolitres every month to the state in inadequate. The demand has increased but the Union food and supplies ministry has not raised the state’s quota,’’ complained food and supplies minister Kalimuddin Shams.

Meanwhile, kerosene dealers have accused the minister of “conspiring with criminals” to siphon off kerosene from the city’s quota to the districts.

“The dealers don’t know what they are saying. The population has grown rapidly in the districts and in the city, most people use LPG. There is a genuine need for kerosene in the districts,’’ claimed Shams.    


 
 
ROAD RULE BRAKE ON SCHOOL BUSES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28 
South Point has decided to suspend bus services of the junior section for “an indefinite period”.

Around 5,000 of the total 10,000 students in the junior section, availing of the 13 school buses, were left stranded on Monday.

The authorities are protesting a move by the Calcutta Police to prevent the buses from being parked outside the school gates and causing a traffic snarl in the area.

The decision to take the vehicles off the road was taken after the police booked one of the school buses for “illegal parking”.

For the past six months, the buses were being parked within the school compound under strict instructions from the police.

But the August 18 accident on the Shri Shikshayatan campus, in which a five-year-old girl was crushed under the rear wheels of the bus that was to take her home, sparked panic at South Point.

The authorities decided to revert to the age-old system of parking the buses outside the school gates.

But the police are determined to impose road and parking rules near schools.

The South Point authorities have threatened not to resume bus services till the police promise to provide adequate number of personnel to control traffic in front of the school every morning and afternooon.

According to police sources, the school was given “several reminders” over the past few days, but the buses continued to be parked outside the compound, “causing serious traffic congestion” in the area.

Hundreds of students travelling by school buses will have to make their own arrangements from Tuesday.

“This is a tussle between the police and the school authorities. The ones to suffer this will be the guardians, who will have to bring their children to school from far-off places and then take them back,” complained S. Mukherjee, father of a Class II student.

S. Mitra, administrator of the school, said the buses were being parked outside the compound for the past 40 years.

Six months ago, the police and the school authorities had come to an agreement that the buses would be parked on the premises throughout the day. But when the school began and broke, the buses would be parked outside the gates and the police would post extra men to control traffic.

“Six months have passed and not a single policeman can be seen in the vicinity when the school begins in the morning and gets over in the afternoon,” alleged school officials.    


 
 
STATE SETS SEPTEMBER DATE FOR TECH SCHOOL 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28: 
The government on Monday promised to commence the first academic year of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Calcutta (IIIT-C) with a bigger batch of graduate students from September 1. Technical education minister Bansagopal Chowdhury said the batch will have 100 students, instead of the 60, as announced earlier.

“We had to increase the batch strength following good demand from meritorious students,” Chowdhury said. From January next year, IIIT-C will begin its post-graduate course with 50 students.

Even as the technical education department gears up to set the IIIT-C rolling, the state government is still on the lookout for its first director. Chairman of the institute’s governing body, chief secretary Manish Gupta, said he was not “satisfied” with those shortlisted earlier. “We are now looking for a competent person from outside the state,” he said.

Stating that the IIIT-C was designed to be a “centre of excellence”, Gupta said it would approach the University Grants Commission (UGC) for deemed university status within a year. The IIITs at Hyderabad and Bangalore have already secured deemed university status.

Gupta said the corporate partners — Globsyn, Institute of Computer Engineers India Limited and the Institute of Engineering and Management — contributed Rs 2 crore each for the Rs 10-crore corpus fund of the institute.

“We are also sounding out global IT giants for their participation in this institute,” Gupta said. The government is submitting a proposal to the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation for their involvement too.

Technical education secretary S.K. Magon said most of the members of the 20-strong faculty have been sent appointment letters.

Its temporary location in the new Technical Teachers’ Training Institute in Salt Lake will also provide hostel accommodation for 52 students. About 30 per cent of the selected students are from West Bengal.    


 
 
PARTY ACTIVISTS TAKE TO STREETS, TRAFFIC CRIPPLED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28: 
The city was paralysed on Monday by CPM, Congress and Trinamul Congress activists who took to the streets in protest.

Traffic was stalled for at least six hours, according to officers monitoring the situation from Lalbazar control room. Thousands of commuters were stranded and vehicles stood fender to fender for hours, waiting for the activists to get off the roads.

The CPM cadre were protesting Trinamul Congress atrocities, while the Chhatra Parishad and Trinamul Chhatra Parishad were celebrating their foundation day.

Police said the CPM rallyists had not taken permission for their protest march. “They violated several provisions of the Calcutta Police Act, but if the ruling party itself decides to break rules and harass people, there is little we can do about it,’’ said a senior joint commissioner of police, watching the rallyists pass through busy central Calcutta roads, blocking traffic for hours.

The CPM rally caught the police and home-bound Calcuttans unawares as it wound its way through Jawaharlal Nehru Road and Lenin Sarani, blocking the north-south corridor. Peak-time traffic stood still on Chittaranjan Avenue, S.N. Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Red Road and Government Place East.

Policemen watched from the sidelines as more than 20,000 slogan-shouting cadre ambled along the streets. Earlier, the rallyists converged from different corners of the city at the Esplanade four-point crossing, from where they proceeded to Park Circus, leaving behind a trail of stalled traffic.

In the morning, College Street and its surrounding areas were blocked after Chhatra Parishad and Trinamul Chhatra Parishad supporters arrived in Matadors, lorries and on foot from different parts of the city and state.    


 
 
STRIKE THREAT SPARKS LINE REPAIR SCURRY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 28: 
Calcutta Telephones’ chief general manager K. Ramanujam on Monday reviewed the progress of repair work and chalked out a contingency plan to keep faults at minimum and maintain normal services when the employees strike work from September 6.

The pro-left telecom workers’ union had earlier struck work on August 24 and August 25, to protest the government’s decision to privatise the telecom department. The anti-left employees’ union are going on strike again from September 6.

T.S. Srinivasan, secretary of Telephone Services Society, however, claimed that more than 30,000 lines were out of order for the past 18 days because of the work-to-rule by the Telecom Engineering Services Association.

Ramanujam said service engineers and officers had worked hard through the day to work on the complaints.

Department officials said by the end of the day, their engineers had rectified around 10,000 faulty lines, bringing down to 6,000 the number of telephones out of order across the city.    


 
 
LALOO PLOY TO BLOCK BJP 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Jamshedpur, Aug. 28: 
The Rashtriya Janata Dal has started mobilising what it calls “all secular and socialist forces” to counter the saffron brigade in Jharkhand.

The party has realised that its political base in South Bihar is being eroded following the status of separate statehood for the region.

RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav has been holding parleys with former Prime Ministers V.P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar as well as Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Left forces to restore the glory of the green brigade as in North Bihar, said senior party leader and Bihar ministser for commerce Baghi Kumar Verma.

Speaking to newsmen at the local circuit house here this afternoon, Verma said the political rivals of his party were floating “rumours” that the RJD has been wiped out in South Bihar although there are at least eight MLAs from the region.

He, however, admitted that his party had concentrated more in the north than on South Bihar before the Jharkhand Bill was passed.

He said now, apart from mobilising the party at the grassroots, stress is now being given to a broader understanding between the “like-minded forces” which include even the Left Front and the CPI(M-L).

Asked to comment on the opposition to the Jharkhand Bill in Parliament by the RJD members, Verma said initially his party was opposed to the division of Bihar.

But taking into account the sentiments of the people of the region and also that of one of its important allies, the Congress, he said the RJD decided to back the formation of Jharkhand.

However, Verma said after the division, North Bihar would be left with only floods and droughts.

Unless the Centre seriously considered a special package for the state, the miseries of the people living there would multiply manifold, he added.    


 
 
CENTRE ASKED TO REPEAL ACT 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Aug. 28: 
The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to repeal the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act by January next year.

Hearing a public interest litigation filed by the All-India Lawyers’ Forum for Civil Liberties, the three-judge bench of Chief Justice A.S.Anand and Justices Santosh Hegde and K.G.Balakrishnan said the Centre should boldly take a decision on the Act instead of “passing the buck” to the apex court.

“Since the Act has been termed a discriminatory one in the affidavits filed by the Centre and the Assam government, what is the hitch in repealing it? Why do you want to pass the buck to us?” Chief Justice Anand asked additional solicitor-general R.N.Trivedi, who represented the Centre at the hearing. Trivedi had said the Centre required time to repeal the legislation. He said a Bill would have to be introduced and passed in Parliament before the Act could be done away with.

The additional solicitor-general informed the court that the Centre was, however, ready to abolish the tribunals set up under the IM(DT) Act.

The legislation, enacted to facilitate detection and deportation of illegal immigrants from the country, is in force only in Assam. There has long been a debate on whether the Act actually helps in deportation of illegal immigrants or protects their interests.

According to the provisions in the Act, the onus of disproving an illegal migrant’s claims to citizenship is on the complainant. This makes the task of deportation difficult as most migrants have obtained ration cards and voters’ identity cards.

The West Bengal government stated in an affidavit last year that it was “impossible” to detect and deport Bangladeshis as unscrupulous officials and politicians had helped them acquire ration cards and voters’ identity cards.

The All-Assam Students’ Union has filed a public interest petition seeking deportation of about two crore illegal migrants and repeal of the IM(DT) Act. “The legislation should be repealed forthwith as it hinders detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants,” it states.    

 

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