10-year-old shot dead in gang crossfire
Flyovers ground traffic
Phone users take up tools, set lines right
Crorepati blow to cinema shows
Teen trio held on charges of dacoity
Central units to pay property tax to civic body
Technicians seek raise, TV shoots cancelled
Airport gets new-look arrival wing
Mizo CM defends minister
Catholic leaders view ‘real’ N-E

 
 
10-YEAR-OLD SHOT DEAD IN GANG CROSSFIRE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
A 10-year-old boy, caught in the crossfire between rival gangs at Tiljala, was shot dead on Thursday afternoon.

Deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Narayan Ghosh, said Sarfaraj, who had been struck by a bullet on his forehead, succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

“We are now looking for Tausif, a criminal, in connection with the murder,” Ghosh added.

The Congress has called a 12-hour bandh on Friday in the Tiljala-Beniapkur area to protest the incident. Congress leader Sultan Ahmed said: “The growing lawlessness in the area has to be checked.”

The tragic incident took place near a bustee on Tiljala Road around 2 pm, when Tausif and his gang members arrived, armed to the teeth, to extort money from Jahangir, a promoter.

“I saw Tausif moving around in the area with a revolver in hand while I was returning from a friend’s place,” said Shamim, a local resident. He immediately alerted other residents of the neighbourhood.

Tausif lashed out at a bustee-dweller after he failed to track down Jahangir. This caused an altercation between residents of the area and Tausif’s gang. About 1,000 locals gathered at the site and gheraoed the armed youth.

Women joined in, pelting stones and bottles at the criminal.

“We refused to hand Jahangir over to Tausif as the promoter is a very helpful man,” the women said. Confronted by public rage, Tausif was forced to beat a hasty retreat.

At this point, a rival gang entered the fray and chased Tausif and his gang. The fleeing anti- socials opened fire in a desperate bid to flee the bustee. The rivals returned fire.

A bullet fired by Tausif hit 10-year-old Sarfaraj, standing at a street corner with a host of other people. As the boy lay in a pool of blood, Tausif fled on a two-wheeler parked nearby.

The boy’s father, Saukat Ali, said later that he had been sent by his mother to fetch something from a shop nearby.

“My son must have stopped to watch the trouble....This cost him his life,” lamented Saukat.

Sarfaraj was taken to National Medical College and Hospital, where he succumbed to his head injuries.

“Tausif was earlier arrested by the police for rowdy behaviour. He was out on bail for the past three months,” Ghosh said.

According to the detective department chief, Tausif probably nurtured a “long-standing dispute” with promoter Jahangir over the control of real estate in the area.    


 
 
FLYOVERS GROUND TRAFFIC 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR AND PRONAB MONDAL
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
After a three-day trial of new traffic manoeuvres to introduce a semblance of order into the chaos caused by two half-constructed flyovers and another yet to begin, the police on Thursday finalised a new set of road rules aimed at easing peak-hour congestion.

The new traffic rules will come into effect from November 1, around the time that work on the Rabindra Sadan flyover is scheduled to begin. They will be in place for the next two years.

As a prelude to the construction, a portion of AJC Bose Road, from the Harish Mukherjee Road crossing to the Camac Street crossing, has been fenced off for a preparatory survey.

“The last couple of days have been terrible for commuters,” said deputy commissioner of police (traffic) K. Harirajan. “But a lot of solutions have emerged out of this exercise and we hope that the traffic flow will be much better for the next few years.”

Commuters have been having an especially harrowing time at the Gariahat crossing, with the stretches between the Gariahat-Rashbehari junction and Gariahat-Gol Park having been made ‘one-way’.“We are aware of this problem, but this one-way system at the Gariahat crossing will have to continue till construction work is on,” said joint commissioner of police (traffic), Anup Chatterjee.

Officials of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners, in charge of the flyover projects, said all steps were being taken to speed up work. “We are using pre-fabricated materials for the construction of the Gariahat flyover to reduce time and minimise inconvenience,” said chief project manager Asim Chatterjee. “These are being made at a factory in Uttarpara and will be erected at the bridge site.”

Some new traffic rules from November 1 are:

(Till the Rabindra Sadan flyover is complete)

The stretch of AJC Bose Road between Rabindra Sadan and Camac Street will be open only to buses and minibuses

Cars and taxis travelling from east to west along this road from 8 am to 2 pm will have to take a detour through Sambhunath Pandit Street, Elgin Road and Harish Mukherjee Road to re-enter AJC Bose Road; the reverse will apply to vehicles moving in the opposite direction from 2 pm

Traffic along Loudon Street will be reversed; traffic will move from north to south till 2 pm; along Rawdon Street, traffic will also be reversed similarly

(Till the Gariahat flyover is complete)

South to north, traffic along Gariahat will be diverted from Gol Park through Southern Avenue and on to the feeder roads

North to south, the traffic will move straight from the Gariahat crossing to Gol Park    


 
 
PHONE USERS TAKE UP TOOLS, SET LINES RIGHT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
Work at telephone exchanges was paralysed on strike Day-II, with junior telecom operators, sub-divisional engineers, and engineers staging demonstrations in front of Telephone Bhavan to protest “corporatisation of the department”.

Although the number of phone faults rose by another 2,000 on Thursday, the chief general manager of Calcutta Telephones, K. Ramanujam, said many subscribers had repaired their own sets by following his “step-by-step instructions” in< b>The Telegraph.

Sixty per cent of the 16,000 Calcutta Telephones employees have stuck work, throwing repair and maintenance work out of gear.

Sources said many subscribers have complained that they are not being able to make STD and ISD calls.

The Telegraph tried in vain to get through to the northeastern states and some cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Jaipur and Allahabad. By the evening, it was almost impossible to get through to Delhi as well.

The chief general manager of eastern telecom region, S.K. Jain, along with other senior officials, parked himself in the the installation room to monitor maintenance of circuits in an effort to improve chances of users getting through STD and ISD lines.

According to Ramanujam, by Thursday evening, around 1,000 subscribers had repaired their own sets and restored connection.

“My phone rang incessantly, with subscribers wanting to know details of the repair procedure which appeared in the newspaper. Many said they had tried it and managed to repair their telephones,’’ Ramanujam said.

B.K. Ghoshal of Behala was one of them. “My telephone suddenly went dead in the afternoon. Following the instructions, I discovered that the wire which connects the distribution point box to my telephone had come loose. I fixed it myself and the phone began to work,’’ Ghoshal said.

Krishnendu Bhattacharya of Jadavpur and Indira Banerjie of Salt Lake had similar experiences to narrate. In both the cases, their telephone lines were giving them trouble till they decided to follow the “do-it-yourself” routine.

Ramanujam directed his senior officers to repair faults on a war footing on Thursday.

“We took the help of some of the agitating employees to repair a few faults in south Calcutta. I think the subscribers are not facing any problems to get local connections,’’ the chief general manager added.

By the end of the day, some 600 faulty telephones in central and north Calcutta had been repaired.

The telecom authorities had carried out a survey of the faults and found that 80 per cent of them are due to minor reasons.

“The telephone goes on the blink often due to a wire snapping in the distribution point box or at the local junction unit, or when ants enter the line junction unit, or the connection inside the unit gets clogged with dirt,’’ general manager, planning, S. Maity, said.    


 
 
CROREPATI BLOW TO CINEMA SHOWS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
Mondays to Thursdays, night shows are a no-no, and evening shows are all about making a mad dash back home before the clock strikes 9.04. With the satellite viewer desperate to keep his/her STAR date with Kaun Banega Crorepati?, cinemas in the city are scrambling to shift evening and night show timings. Priya, south Calcutta’s premier movie theatre, will advance its timings by half an hour from September 15 to avoid clashing with the Big B game show. “KBC has eaten into our night and evening shows, with audience dwindling by 25 per cent for the night shows and 15 per cent for the evening shows,’’ said Arijit Dutta, owner of Priya cinema. Currently, the show timings are 12 noon, 3 pm, 6pm and 9 pm. Dutta said the new timings will be 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm. “Crorepati has become something of a national obsession, and if the people are more interested in watching a game show than a movie, I must respect their sentiments and adjust accordingly,” Dutta added. Pulak Mukherjee, chairman, exhibitor’s section, Eastern India Motion Picture’s Association, said: “Our apex body, Film Federation of India, has decided that we write to STAR Plus to change the timings of the game show.” According to Mukherjee, night shows in suburban cinemas are going empty and the turnout in city theatres is “abnormally low” from Monday to Thursday. Several city hall-owners will be meeting over the weekend to discuss petitioning STAR Plus to change the KBC timings. Premier halls can pack in about a thousand, and Dipen Mitra of Mitra cinema said the night shows have been going “almost vacant” since Crorepati happened. According to Mantu Bose, owner of Basusree cinema, ticket sales for night shows “drop alarmingly” from Monday to Thursday and “shoot up” on the other days. “People now come for evening or night shows on non-KBC days,” said Bose. The game show is also forcing event managers in the city to make changes to their cultural calendar. Renu Ray, executive director of Spandan, said: “We are reworking our schedule to avoid programmes on Crorepati days. This appears to be the safest way out.”    

 
 
TEEN TRIO HELD ON CHARGES OF DACOITY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
Three boys in their late teens were arrested on Thursday on the charges of committing dacoities in south Calcutta during the past few months. Two firearms and choppers were found in their possession when they were arrested at Kankulia railway slum. They were planning to commit a dacoity in the area. The teen trio was led by Sheikh Shajahan, a dacoit, of Mathurapur, in South 24-Parganas. He, too, was arrested.

Acting on a tip-off, the police lay in wait near Kankulia railway bustee, where the teenage dacoits had assembled to plan an operation. Plainclothesmen, who were keeping a watch on the youngsters, took them by surprise. The three boys immediately tried to flee with the police on their heels.

During interrogation, the trio said that they had been operating in the city during the past couple of months. “Their hunting grounds were Southern Avenue, Tollygunge, Kankulia Road, Panchanantala and its adjoining areas, where they were involved in a series of snatchings,” police said.

“The three boys are aged between 16 and 18 years. While Gopal Das is a resident of the railway colony in Tollygunge, Laltu lives in Panchanantala. The third boy, Raju Mondal, lives in Swinhoe Lane,” the police said.

Their leader, Sheikh Shajahan, who was grilled by the police, said he trained them for the past few months and found that all of them were extremely intelligent.

“While Gopal is a cool-headed boy capable of being in control of any situation, Raju has become an expert in handling firearms within a few months. They were badly in need of money and I just took advantage of the situation,” Shajahan reportedly told the police.

They are still being interrogated to find out their involvement in recent taxi-hijackings in the city.    


 
 
CENTRAL UNITS TO PAY PROPERTY TAX TO CIVIC BODY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
All the Central undertakings, including banks, Calcutta Port, Life Insurance Corporation of India, railways and defence, situated in the city will have to pay property tax to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

Union urban development minister Jagmohan has agreed that all Central public sector undertakings (PSUs) would pay property tax to the government, in accordance with CMC rules.

However, a service charge will be levied on Central government offices, instead of the tax. Neither Central government offices nor undertakings situated in the city or elsewhere pay property tax to the CMC now.

The government has been demanding that the existing rules be changed to enable the state to collect property tax from Central offices. Several states supported the West Bengal government’s demand at the urban development ministers’ conference, held recently in Delhi. Ministers from West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Tripura together raised the demand before Jagmohan.

The Eleventh Finance Commission has recommended that all PSUs be brought under the purview of property tax.

State urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya on Thursday said Jagmohan had written to him, saying they could levy property tax on all Central government undertakings and service charge on all the Central government offices.

Bhattacharya said that following the directive, the Central valuation board would soon start assessing all the property of the Central undertakings. He said the rate of service charge which would be levied on central government offices would be restructured.

The municipal affairs department estimated that the CMC can earn over Rs 100 crore a year from the property tax collected from Central PSUs.

“Twenty per cent of the total assets in Calcutta are owned by the Centre. They enjoy all the civic amenities, including drinking water, roads, light, sewerage and garbage clearance. Then why should they not pay taxes, when a private building owner does the same?’’ asked Bhattacharya.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee has already instructed Metro Railway to make an ad hoc payment of Rs 4 crore against tax. Bhattacharya said: “It is a good gesture. I request her to arrange for payment of about Rs 300 crore which is pending from railways against service charges.’’ He added that the amount collected from the Central units would be spent exclusively on the development of the city.    


 
 
TECHNICIANS SEEK RAISE, TV SHOOTS CANCELLED 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
Television serial producers on Thursday decided to stop shooting indefinitely after some technicians demanded that their daily wages be increased immediately by 30 per cent. The producers took the decision at a meeting after the technicians approached actor-producer Prasenjit at a Tollygunge studio for a 30 per cent hike in wages.

Prasenjit refused to oblige, informing the other members of the Association of Television Affiliates (ATA), the producers’ body, of the request. “How could I take the decision to increase technicians’ wages unilaterally ? I informed everybody,” he said .

ATA members and producers rushed to Bharat Lakshmi Studio and tried to negotiate with the technicians, requesting them to at least complete the day’s work.

“They refused to work without a 30 per cent raise and so Prasenjit packed up. After discussing the matter, we decided to stop shooting indefinitely,” said Mallika Jalan, ATA vice-president.

As a result, shoots for at least a dozen serials were cancelled in various studios in the city. At the state-run Technicians’ Studio in Tollygunge, there was no shooting for Bengali mega-serials Janmabhoomi and Ramakrishna.

A meeting between the ATA and the technicians’ body is slated for September 20.    


 
 
AIRPORT GETS NEW-LOOK ARRIVAL WING 
 
 
BY OUR AIRPORT REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 7: 
The trial run of the new international arrival block of Netaji Subhas International Airport will begin on Friday. Passengers from Moscow will be the first batch of incoming passengers to use the new arrival wing.

The existing arrival block is too small to handle the increased volume of international passengers. If two wide-bodied aircraft land at the same time, the passengers do not even have standing space and many have to wait outside the building. There is a shortage of immigration and Customs counters too.

The director, Airports Authority of India (Calcutta), Roshan Lal, said the new international arrival block will have two-and-a-half times more accommodation than the existing facility and will accommodate 500 passengers at a time.

Built at a cost of Rs 11 crore, the new wing will have banking counters, a railway booking centre, postal and foreign exchange facilities, and a shopping complex with snack bars. It will have a VIP lounge and a large hall for the use of executive and business class passengers.    


 
 
MIZO CM DEFENDS MINISTER 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Silchar, Sept. 7: 
Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga today denied media reports that a minister in his Cabinet had been pulled up by the Union environment ministry for killing a barking deer.

He admitted that the venison was served at a dinner he attended but said the animal had “died of illness” and termed the controversy as “concocted.” The state forest department has instituted a probe led by chief wildlife warden T. Milang to ascertain the circumstances leading to the death of the deer in the minister’s custody.

It was reported that K. Vanlalauva, minister of social welfare in the Mizo National Front government, had been chargesheeted by the Union ministry of forests and environment. The barking deer is an endangered animal and its killing is illegal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Vanlalauva had served the venison at a dinner at his official residence which was attended by chief minister Zoramthanga and home minister Tawnluia two months ago.

Zoramthanga told The Telegraph here last night that the deer had not been “killed.”    


 
 
CATHOLIC LEADERS VIEW ‘REAL’ N-E 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Shillong, Sept. 7: 
Christians of the Northeast have been branded ‘‘anti-national’’ because they have not been able to dispel certain wrong notions about the region and its people, according to leaders of the All-India Catholic Union.

“The problem here is a geo-political one and not a religious issue, as is made out to be,” V. Samuel, president of the Delhi unit of the AICU, told a news conference here yesterday.

He and other AICU leaders said they were struck by the vast difference between reality and the information they received about the region.

‘‘There are more gun-toting security personnel moving about in Delhi than I have seen throughout my stay in the region,” said Samuel. “The people of the Northeast are peace-loving and hospitable. It is the fringe elements who are not, and this section seems to be getting the maximum mileage in the media,” he added.

The AICU leader said people in the rest of the country were ignorant about this. ‘‘Fed on reports emanating from the region, people living outside the Northeast believe that the majority of their counterparts here carry AK-47 rifles,’’ Samuel said.

The AICU’s three-day 46th annual general meeting here was its first-ever in the region. The organisers said they held the meeting here in a bid to ‘‘bring the people of the mainland” closer to the region. ‘‘Years of isolation has alienated us from the so-called mainstream, ’’ said Chottabhai, a former president of the AICU.

“What has added to this feeling of isolation is the fact that the Northeast is geographically linked to the rest of the country by just about 30 km of land (the “chicken’s neck” on the map), while accounting for 98 per cent of its borders with three foreign countries,” he added.

Chottabhai said the region’s Christian community had to ‘‘make its voice heard in the national context” loud and clear.

‘‘The people of the region have so far not been articulate enough or the authorities have not taken steps for redressal of their problems. Either way, we are here to lend our voice to yours,” he said.

Newly-elected AICU president Maria E. Menezes and vice-president John Dayal also addressed the news conference. Menezes is the first woman to head the organisation. Dayal said lack of development was the root cause of most of the problems plaguing the Northeast.

On the controversy involving foreign funding and the alleged lack of transparency in the functioning of the Church, the AICU vice-president said, ‘‘We are for total transparency, be it in utilisation of funds or taking decisions.’’

He also denied allegations that Christian organisations were getting the lion’s share of foreign funds.    

 

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