Boy-hunt in slit-throat murder
Car pollution norms stricter from November
Neighbour arrested for Regent Park killing
Focus on fight with falciparum
Second death in bottle blast
High court goes on-line
Malaria toll mounts in Tripura
Centre offers to widen Naga ceasefire ambit
Missing PLA leader’s body recovered

 
 
BOY-HUNT IN SLIT-THROAT MURDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
He is 17 years old. He studied till Class IX in a prominent English-medium school of the city before dropping out early this year. Today, he tops the police list of the ‘most wanted’.

Keith Ray is being hunted down for the murder of businessman Bishnu Kishan Chand Mahatani.

The 40-year-old jeweller, who owned a shop in New Market, was found with his throat slit open in his highrise apartment on New Park Road, near Park Circus, late on Monday night. The body bore multiple knife wounds as well.

Till late on Tuesday evening, the police could not shed light on the possible motive for the murder.

Raju, a student of Class X in a reputed English-medium school of central Calcutta and a friend of Keith’s, has been detained for interrogation.

The police are trying to track down Keith and another teenaged boy, said to have been present in the room when the crime was committed.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Mahatani, who was separated from his wife, was murdered around 10.30 pm on Monday.

“He and a maid, identified as Aroti Das, had been living in this apartment on 206, New Park Road, under Beniapukur police station, for the past eight years,” Narayan Ghosh, deputy commissioner, detective department, said.

Aroti helped the police reconstruct the run-up to the crime.

“It was around 9.30 pm when the doorbell rang. Saab opened the door and ushered in Keith, who has been frequenting the flat for the past three years, and another teenaged boy. Soon afterwards, Saab took out bottles of beer and whisky from the refrigerator and locked the door to the drawing room,” the maid said.

Around 10.40 pm, Aroti saw Keith unlock the front door and walk out. A few minutes later, the “other boy” too left the apartment.

“I called out to Saab to come and have dinner, but there was no response. I pushed opened the door leading to the drawing room and found him lying on the floor in a pool of blood,” Aroti said.

She raised an alarm and called in the neighbours.

After locals informed the nearby Beniapukur police station, officials from the thana and the detective department rushed to the spot.

Bijoy Jha, the securityman on duty, told investigating officials that he had noticed Keith and his friend entering the apartment on Monday night.

Ghosh said the assailant used a sharp weapon, “may be a small knife”, to kill the businessman.

The other injury marks were found on Mahatani’s palm and hands, leading sleuths to believe that he had tried to defend himself.

According to Aroti, Mahatani used to throw parties at his apartment quite often. These were attended by teenaged boys and girls, with liquor flowing freely. Investigating officials are trying to draw a link between the “wild parties” and Mahatani’s murder.

Ghosh said Keith had been sent to Shimla by his father Lionel Bernard Ray after being expelled from school. But he fled Shimla on September 5 and returned to the city.

On his arrival, Keith had contacted Raju, who will now be produced before the maid and the securityman for ‘identification’.    


 
 
CAR POLLUTION NORMS STRICTER FROM NOVEMBER 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
Bharat Stage II, the desi version of Euro II, will be clamped on automobiles from November 1.

The Euro II auto emission norms have been modified in accordance with local “road conditions” and “driving cycle”.

According to a state government notification, all passenger cars with a capacity of six, including the driver, will fall under the purview of the new conditions.

This means that cars, including government vehicles and taxis, both metered and private, being registered in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area will have to be fitted with engines conforming to Bharat II norms.

According to sources in the state environment department, this proposed clampdown follows an order from the Union ministry of surface transport in January this year. The date for imposition of Bharat II norms on larger vehicles like buses, minibuses, trucks and pick-up vans has not been fixed yet due to “doubts about fuel quality”.

The state government had slapped Bharat I on all vehicles from April 1 this year. Hindustan Motor’s Ambassadors conform to the Bharat Stage I standards. According to a senior official of the state pollution control board, the company has confirmed that all its models will be Bharat-II compliant by September 16.

In the nationwide drive to improve fuel quality to reduce air pollution, all petrol pumps in the city now sell only unleaded petrol. The sulphur content in diesel being supplied throughout the country since April 1, 2000, has been reduced to 0.25 per cent in a litre.

Sources said the central oil companies were ready to supply diesel with .05 per cent of sulphur in a litre at very short notice.

“We shall ask for better-quality diesel as soon as Bharat II norms are ready for all vehicles,” a senior environment department official said. Indian Oil Corporation has confirmed that it will be able to supply about 10 kilolitres of diesel with such specification by April next year.    


 
 
NEIGHBOUR ARRESTED FOR REGENT PARK KILLING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
The arrest of a neighbour has led the police on the trail of the gang that broke into the house of bank manager Achintya Majumdar and killed his wife on Monday.

For about half an hour early on Monday, 16 criminals, believed to be of the Garia-Regent Park area, broke through the front gates of Majumdar’s Vivekananda Sarani house, smashed open the front door with a concrete slab and then shot dead his wife, Suchitra, as she rushed to protect her son.

Through all the clamour and a constantly barking dog, not a single neighbour rushed to their aid or even telephoned the police.

Shamed into silence over the brazen cases of crime taking place in the area, the police threw a security net around the area. But it was a piece of information they received — that a concrete slab similar to the one used to break down the door was lying in front of a house barely 300 metres from the scene of the crime — that led the police to 30-year-old Tukai Das, the occupant of the house.

However, the house was empty when the police carried out a raid on Tuesday afternoon. On running a check with their “informants”, the police stumbled upon Das’ criminal antecedents and began to trace his associates.

One such associate, Satya, now in Presidency Jail, told the police of Das’ probable hideouts. More raids followed and Das was flushed out of a house in Baruipur.

Interrogation of Satya also revealed that Das had come to Garia from Midnapore some years ago and had carried out similar dacoities there. “The modus operandi, as described by Satya, was similar,” a police officer said.

But the police are extremely tightlipped about the information they have been able to pump out of Das. “We are trying to find out if he is associated with this crime,” said additional superintendent of police, S.N. Gupta.

“We have also been told by our informants that he has been keeping an eye on a few other houses in the area,” Gupta added.

What has, however, been baffling both the police and Majumdar’s neighbours is why such a large contingent of criminals would target the particular family, coming from a very middle-class background.

Bank manager Majumdar’s wife was a clerk in West Bengal State Electricity Board and all that the dacoits could get from their house was Rs 6,000 and two gold chains.

Meanwhile, director-general of police Dipak Sanyal, who visited the spot during the day, said that the Garia police outpost would shortly be upgraded into a police station.    


 
 
FOCUS ON FIGHT WITH FALCIPARUM 
 
 
BY AMIT UKIL
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
All three members of a family in south Calcutta were in serious condition on Tuesday and were undergoing institutionalised treatment after being detected with malignant malaria. The three-year-old boy was the first to be admitted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital early last week, while both his parents were taken to a nursing home three days ago with high fever, giddiness and nausea.

The extent of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the more severe form of malaria, in their bodies was high and had begun to affect their vital organs. Their haemoglobin levels had fallen as well. The family has sought the help of Prof Amitava Nandy of Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, who is regarded as a specialist in the treatment of severe and complicated malaria.

This unusual situation of child, father and mother severely falling prey to the parasite is one example of the growing number of malaria cases in the city that are needing special attention. It has coincidentally occurred a few days before a six-day training programme for doctors on the management of severe and complicated malaria began in the city on Monday.

Sponsored by the World Health Organisation and conducted by the National Anti-Malaria Programme, the training is being held for senior doctors in various disciplines and record-keepers who are attached to teaching hospitals in the eastern region. Of the 40 participants, 12 are from Calcutta, while the rest are from Orissa, Bihar, Assam and three other north-eastern states where the incidence of malignant malaria is fairly high.

“The programme stems from a special, multicentric hospital-based study being undertaken on the distribution of severity and deaths due to malaria in the region,” said S. Mohanty, the programme’s senior regional director. “The training objectives are two-fold: one, to enhance the capabilities of doctors/faculties of the participating medical colleges in the departments of gynaecology, pediatrics and general medicine and, two, to cull data on complicated malaria cases from the records of hospitals over the past five years.

Mohanty agreed that specialists in various disciplines today had an infirm base in the treatment of complicated malaria, which had been occurring with alarming frequency over the last five years. Among the complications arising from an attack of severe malignant malaria are failure of kidney, spread to the brain and lungs, cases among children and pregnant women, and iatrogenic complications arising from treatment, including drug-resistance.    


 
 
SECOND DEATH IN BOTTLE BLAST 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
The bottle-bomb blast at Liluah has claimed the life of another child. Sujan Gupta, 9, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.

Sujan’s infant sister, Deepavali, also seriously injured in Monday’s blast, is fighting for her life at Calcuttta Medical College and Hospital.

The blast occurred at Chakpara Bazar, in Liluah, about 20 km from the city, on Monday while Sujan, Sunny (11) and Deepavali (5), children of Prakash and Geeta Gupta, were playing with empty bottles near their Tentultala residence.

Suddenly, one of the bottles exploded, grievously wounding all three. They were rushed to Howrah General Hospital, where Sunny succumbed to his injuries around midnight.

As the condition of Sujan and Deepavali started deteriorating, they were transferred to Calcuttta Medical College and Hospital early on Tuesday. Sujan later succumbed to his injuries, but Deepavali, who has lost her left hand, was still battling it out till late Tuesday evening.

A distraught Geeta Gupta said: “I was cradling my six-month-old son when I heard a loud thud. I rushed out to find the children lying in a pool of blood.”

Father Prakash Gupta is a daily wage-earner and the family lives in a rented house.

Additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Rajiv Mishra said: “The area where the accident occurred is infested with criminals. We are trying to find out how the explosives landed there and then arrest the criminals responsible for the ghastly blast.”

The police have found another live bottle-bomb on the spot. The bottles have been sent to the forensic department to determine the kind of explosives used.    


 
 
HIGH COURT GOES ON-LINE 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept.12: 
Calcutta High Court on Tuesday launched a website to provide litigants with information on its ongoing cases and other information.

Marking the court’s debut in cyberspace, Chief Justice A.K. Mathur said the step to provide ready information on the status of cases would benefit litigants.

The website will list cases of the original side with the names of the judges hearing them.

It will provide visitors with a brief history of the court and also provide the names and phone numbers of advocates and barristers practising in it.

The website will be further expanded to accommodate important judgments.

Calcutta High Court plans to give limited access to judgments, in line with the Supreme Court website, but is yet undecided on whether to command a fee for the service.

With the launch of the website, the high court becomes the first in the country to have a presence on the Internet.

Assault report: Information and cultural affairs secretary Arun Bhattacharya on Tuesday received the official inquiry report on the assault of journalists at Writers’ Buildings on August 10. The inquiry was made by Chittadip Banerjee, joint secretary, home (PAR) department.

Deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya said he would inform the press about the probe findings after going through the report.    


 
 
MALARIA TOLL MOUNTS IN TRIPURA 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Sept. 12: 
Altogether 10 persons have died of malaria and enteric diseases in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura.

Five persons died on Friday and Saturday. They have been identified as Karnajay Reang (40), Purnaram Reang (11), Idaboti Reang (8), Amulya Reang (30) and Naitung Halam (40). Officials said Lungthir, Tharma, Nabajaypara, Maularampara and Bhandarima villages were the worst-affected.

Sources said there was a total breakdown of health services because of militancy in the interior areas and failure of the government and ADC administration to provide facilities for treatment to the affected people on an emergency basis. The departments of health and Primitive Group Programme have organised a number of health camps in the interior areas, but their impact has been minimal.

Kanchanpur hospital in-charge Tushar Mazumdar said: “Till Sunday 87 patients, mostly suffering from malaria and enteric diseases, had been admitted to hospital.” He, however, claimed that measures were being taken to deal with the situation properly.

Youth killed

Militants of a newly-formed outfit hacked to death a Bengali youth in Gandacherra subdivision yesterday for having married a tribal girl.

Police sources said the militants have been threatening Pradip Shil (30), a resident of Narayanpur village in Gandacherra subdivision and a driver by profession, to leave his wife Laxmi Tripura and pay a fine of Rs 10,000 ever since his marriage last year. Shil had ignored the threats.

Yesterday Shil, accompanied by his wife and one-year-old son, went to his friend Dilip Debbarma’s house in Pakhi Tripurapara village. Around 12.30 pm, a group of militants entered Debbarma’s house.

All the inmates of the house including the host implored the militants not to hurt Pradip while his wife fell at their feet to save her husband’s life. But the marauders hacked Pradip to death in front of everyone. No one has been arrested in this connection.    


 
 
CENTRE OFFERS TO WIDEN NAGA CEASEFIRE AMBIT 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Sept. 12: 
In an apparent concession to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), the Centre today said it was prepared to “consider” extending the ongoing ceasefire with the insurgent outfit to Naga-dominated areas in the Northeast.

However, the Atal Behari Vajpayee government has imposed the condition that the NSCN(I-M) must “accept and agree to issue a statement that extension of the ceasefire to other areas will not be interpreted by them (the NSCN(I-M)) as a step towards recognition of their claim to Greater Nagaland.”

What is intriguing, however, is the fact that the Centre’s willingness to accept the long-standing NSCN(I-M) demand of extending the three-year-old ceasefire to Naga-dominated areas in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh runs against the spirit of the Union home ministry’s stand.

After the July 28-29 meeting between NSCN(I-M) chairman Isak Chisi Swu and the Centre’s representative, K. Padmanabhaiah, the Union home ministry had issued a statement saying the ceasefire did not extend to any Naga-inhabited area other than Nagaland.

The Centre’s concession is brought out in sharp relief in a letter Padmanabhaiah wrote to Swu yesterday. In the letter, which obviously has the blessings of the Prime Minister’s Office, Padmanabhaiah said, “The government would consider extension of ceasefire with the NSCN(I-M) to other areas in the Northeast subject to the condition that the NSCN(I-M) accepts and agrees to issue a statement that extension of the ceasefire to other areas will not be interpreted by them as a step towards recognition of their claim to Greater Nagaland.”

The letter, however, says that the issue of extending the ceasefire to “other areas” would require consultation with the concerned state governments, which will be held within an agreed time-frame. A Union home ministry source said all four state governments — Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh — will “no doubt” object to the stand taken by the Centre and not agree to any extension of ceasefire in areas within their jurisdiction “for the simple reason that they do not want to bring trouble on to their doorsteps.”

This is not the first time that the Centre has agreed to extend the ceasefire to the three states. In 1998, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced in Manipur that the ceasefire could be extended to the three states. It was on this issue that then Centre’s principal interlocutor, Swaraj Kaushal, had resigned. The latest stand only exposes differences in the higher echelons of the Union government.

As is evident from his letter, Padmanabhaiah has tried to do a deft balancing act. On the one hand it expresses the government’s willingness to accept the NSCN(I-M)’s demand and on the other it says “your ultimatum that the ceasefire be extended to all Naga areas by September 15 or else it stands withdrawn, is unfortunate and smacks of a partisan stand in utter disregard of the well-being of the Naga people. If as a result of your stand there is a breakdown of the peace process, the NSCN(I-M) would be solely responsible.”    


 
 
MISSING PLA LEADER’S BODY RECOVERED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Sept. 12: 
The bullet-riddled body of the missing People’s Liberation Army leader, Tomcha Meitei alias M.C. Simson, was found early this morning at Imphal’s Singjamei Chinga-mathak Thockchom Leikai.

Assam Rifles officials at Kangla Fort said the top PLA leader was killed in an encounter this morning. However, Simson’s wife, Sundari Devi, alleged in a petition filed at Gauhati High Court today that her husband died in the custody of the Assam Rifles.

Simson was the central bureau secretary of the proscribed Revolutionary People’s Front, the political wing of the PLA. He has been missing since Sunday noon, when he and three social workers were arrested by jawans of the 17 Battalion of the Assam Rifles.

Eyewitnesses said four persons were arrested by the 17 Battalion of the Assam Rifles from the house of a government officer located at Singjamei Chinga-mathak area.

Assam Rifles officials, however, maintained that only two persons were arrested on Sunday while three others escaped.    

 

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