CPM jams phone gates
Straw of hope for Bleach
Film-makers stand behind TV brothers
Bar proposed on private tutors
24 Tripura rebels killed

Calcutta, Sept. 9: 
The CPM-affiliated All India Telecom Employees Union today prevented workers who have called off the strike from reporting for duty, throwing repair and maintenance work out of gear in the city.

The chief general manager of Calcutta Telephones, K. Ramanujam, said he would not hesitate to call the police if the strikers squat in front of the gates and threaten employees who want to rejoin. “Let us wait and see,” he said.

In Delhi, minister of state for communications Tapan Sikdar said “stern action” would be taken against employees who did not return to work. “Their demands have been met. The unions have signed a pact. Now there should be no more of this,” he said.

A PTI report from Delhi said the National Action Committee Against Telecom Corporatisation, a body of seven Left trade unions, has asked the workers to continue the strike till Saturday midnight. All the other unions had called off the strike last night.

Ramanujam said leaders of the striking union had assured him employees will resume work on Saturday. “But on reaching office on Saturday morning, I found that the CPM-affiliated union members are not working, nor are they allowing anyone to report for duty. They have not given any notice for Saturday’s strike,” Ramanujam said.

Senior officers of Calcutta Telephones said 32,000 lines were non-functional. But they conceded that the figure could be higher as subscribers were not being able to book faults. When the booking clerks went to report for duty on Saturday, the CPM-backed employees threatened them and forced them to stay away.

According to area managers of central and Alipore, R.K. Mishra and K.C. Ghosh, not a single worker could report for duty at important exchanges like Park Circus, Entally, Burrabazar, Alipore, Kalighat and Jadavpur.

The convener of the anti-Left employees’ union which was on strike from September 6, Alok Nandi, said employees were asked to report for duty from today. “We have asked them to clear pending work which had piled up since the last few days at the earliest,” Nandi said.    

Calcutta, Sept. 9: 
British home secretary Jack Straw today said his government has not abandoned Peter Bleach, prime accused in the Purulia arms drop case. “But we have to show respect for the judicial system in a democratic country,” he pointed out.

Bleach is the last of the six accused in the case who is still imprisoned in Presidency Jail.

Though Straw raised the issue with his counterpart L.K. Advani in New Delhi and with Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, his office was unable to exert the same pressure that Russia created in obtaining Presidential pardon for the five Latvians.

Bleach and the five Latvians (three changed their nationality for better access to freedom) were sentenced to life imprisonment for the sensational arms drop in 1995. But Bleach is still in jail.

“Two aspects were raised in my meetings with Mr Advani and Mr Basu: one, that it was taking a long time for Bleach’s appeals to be heard and, two, five co-defendants in the case had been released,” Straw told reporters.

Straw, who is the third-most important man in the British Cabinet, ended his five-day trip to India before leaving for Dhaka.

According to jail sources, Bleach is hopeful about a possible release following Straw’s meeting with Advani and Basu.

“Bleach looked cheerful during the day in his cell,” said a jail official.    

Calcutta, Sept. 9: 
Film producers today decided to stop shooting in city studios as a mark of solidarity with their small-screen counterparts, who stopped production following a ceasework by technicians. They will now use studios in Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad to get their projects completed.

The Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India had stopped work from Thursday to press for a 30 per cent hike in wages.

Commenting on their decision to shift all production work from the city, Ajit Bhattacharyya, the joint-chairman of the producers’ section of Eastern India Motion Picture Association (EIMPA), said the decision was unanimous.

Mahendra Sooni, a film producer, said Bhubaneswar, as a substitute for Calcutta, was on the top of his priority list.

“Why should we wait endlessly for the technicians to resume work?” said Sunil Sharma, another producer. “I am going to complete my film as soon as I can.”

The producers’ section of the motion picture association has announced that it will not give in to the demands of the technicians.

“Costs of producing a film are rising day by day and the returns are dwindling. So we have decided not to give in to their demands,” said Krishna Narayan Dagar, joint-secretary of the producers’ association. The association has dashed off a letter to the Federation of Cine Technicians condemning the pressure tactics.

However, Pantu Nag, general secretary of the Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India, described the ceasework as a “lockout on the part of the producers”.

“We are continuing our work as usual but it is the producers who have decided not to shoot in Tollygunge,” Nag said. The strike has brought Tollywood to a grinding halt, as shooting of both films and television serials have stopped. Only a few ad films were shot today at the Technicians’ studio in Tollygunge.    

Calcutta, Sept. 9: 
The West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association (WBCUTA) today proposed that teachers who give private tuition should be barred from participating in the examination process.

The CPM-affiliated body mooted the proposal at a workshop which was attended by state higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty. The minister assured WBCUTA members that the matter would be looked into.

sThe workshop was organised to discuss proposals for improving the existing examination system, which is followed in the seven state-aided universities and the 340 colleges affiliated to them.    

Agartala, Sept 9: 
The rift between National Liberation Front of Tripura and the Reang-dominated Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) has taken a turn for the worse.

Nearly 24 rebels were killed in a clash at NLFT’s Thangnan base camp in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh on September 3. Reports said a group of BNLF militants had been invited to the NLFT camp at Thangnan to iron out differences and negotiate the release of BNLF supremo Surjyamoni Reang, being held hostage at NLFT’s base camp since July this year.

However, the discussion degenerated into a heated debate followed by a gunbattle. At least 14 NLFT and 10 BNLF militants died on the spot while 20 were seriously injured, The fate of BNLF supremo Surjyamani Reang could not be ascertained.

Murderer held: Police arrested Durga Pasa for avenging the murder of his brother Pradip in Lahung tea estate under Teok police station near here, our Jorhat correspondent reports. Samar Chetri killed Pradip following a quarrel between the two.

One arrested:A foreign liquor retailer, Deepjyoti Handique, was arrested by the police last night.    


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