Belur Math twin for Behala
Journalists in bomb attack
Mystery man in trader murder
Daylong fast, rally hit phone services
Fatal mishap sparks fury
Streetcars that Subrata doesn’t desire
Hawkers protest eviction
2 women branded witches near Ranchi, one killed
Poll panel turns tables on Mahanta
One killed in Tripura, trader freed

 
 
BELUR MATH TWIN FOR BEHALA 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE AND DEBASISH CHATTERJEE
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
A quiet neighbourhood in Behala will soon reverberate to the sounds of frenetic construction work as a dedicated team of architects, builders, masons and decorators sets about creating a miniature version of Belur Math.

On Thursday, senior monks of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math said the famous monastic headquarters at Belur will be recreated — temple, prayer hall, arches, pillars and all — at Sakher Bazar.

“We have felt for a long time that thousands of disciples from Calcutta should be spared the trouble of travelling such a long distance to visit Belur. The proposed smaller version of the Math should enable them to pray in peace nearer home,” a monk said, on condition of anonymity.

The 15th Ramakrishna Mission centre in the city will be commissioned “within a year from the commencement of construction”.

It will come up on 10 bighas of land where the Mission now runs an old-age home for men.

Another building houses an office of the Mission and the residential quarters of the monks staying at the centre.

Donations will be raised from the public to build the new complex, with a two-tiered temple, spread over approximately one bigha, at an estimated cost of Rs 1 crore.

Other features at the centre will be:

n A sophisticated auditorium to seat 500 people

n A modern library

n Meditation halls

n Facilities for studying comparative religions and languages

Belur Math, situated on the banks of the Hooghly opposite Dakshineswar, was conceived by Swami Vivekananda and set up by Swami Vijnyananda. Other prominent Mission centres include the Institute of Culture at Gol Park, in south Calcutta, and Swami Vivekananda’s ancestral house on Shimla Street.

The entire G.T. Road stretch via Howrah station is invariably congested, forcing devotees from southern and south-western parts of Calcutta to spend hours on the road to and from the Math.

Despite this, the Math records nearly 5,000 visitors every day.

Apart from devotees , a large number of tourists from different parts of the country visit the place of worship, Math sources said

Because of its proximity to Dunlop Bridge, it is more convenient for those coming from north Calcutta.

“It takes us a long time to reach Belur Math because of traffic jams on the Howrah side. So, it’s impossible to plan a trip every weekend. We came to know that a temple was being built at Behala a few months ago. We are now eagerly awaiting its completion,” said A.K. Chakraborty, a resident of Taratala.    


 
 
JOURNALISTS IN BOMB ATTACK 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
Trinamul Congress supporters went on the rampage on Beleghata Main Road, near the Sales Tax Building, on Thursday morning, hurling bombs and brickbats, smashing windscreens of passing vehicles and attacking police and mediapersons. At least half-a-dozen policemen and a number of pedestrians were injured and over a dozen vehicles damaged.

Bombs were hurled at two senior journalists from Ananda Bazar Patrika, Hirak Bandyopadhyay and Anindya Jana, and one from Indian Express, Subrata Nag Choudhury, who were on their way to office in a car. A bomb exploded on the car’s bonnet, shattering the windscreen. The driver was seriously injured with splinters in his hands, arms and stomach, while Nag Choudhury suffered a cut on his arm.

“We were stuck in the roadblock and found the police trying to disperse Trinamul supporters. The police waved us on and so we went ahead. Suddenly, a protester charged at us with a bamboo, smashing windscreens of some cars in front of us. When I shouted at him not to touch our car, he backed away. But then, there was a sudden blinding explosion. The next thing I saw was our driver, Raghu, bleeding profusely,” said Jana.

Added Nag Choudhury: “It was clear that the lumpens had taken over the streets, with the police mere bystanders.”

In New Delhi, Trinamul leader and railway minister Mamata Banerjee was furious when she heard about the attack on mediapersons and asked party MP Sudip Bandopadhyay to inquire into the matter and instructed him to ask party supporters not to put up roadblocks as it “inconveniences common people”.

Bandopadhyay visited the ABP office on Thursday afternoon and said the party would take “disciplinary action” against all those who involved in the incident.

An FIR was filed by the ABP journalists with Entally police station. The police said a suo motu case had been initiated against the Trinamul cadre. Eight persons were arrested till the evening.

At around 10 am, Trinamul supporters blocked Beleghata to protest the arrest of party activist Kalidas Bose. Trouble began around noon, when a large possé of police arrived to clear the streets.

Trinamul men clashed with the police and attacked vehicles with iron rods and bamboos. The police finally resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the mob.

The Press Club of Calcutta has condemned the “heinous attack”.    


 
 
MYSTERY MAN IN TRADER MURDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
A bracelet with the initial ‘J’ tucked under a sofa in slain businessman Vishnu Mahtani’s apartment was found by the police on Thursday, providing the first corroboration of statements being made by Keith Ray on the identity of the killers. Seventeen-year-old Keith, arrested on Wednesday, has told the police he saw a person called Jishu murder Mahtani. Keith, who used to study in a prominent city school, later sought a transfer to a school in Shillong.

Jeweller Mahtani, who stayed in a plush apartment at 206, New Park Street, was found murdered in his room by maid Arati on Monday night. Mahtani was a divorcee and lived alone in the apartment since 1992. Deputy commissioner of detective department, Narayan Ghosh, said police are looking for Jishu, to whom the bracelet possibly belongs.

“Keith told interrogators that Jishu knifed Mahtani to death right in front of his eyes,’’ Ghosh said. “I saw the whole episode. Mahtani was brutally knifed before me by Jishu. Blood was oozing from Mahtani’s throat and he collapsed on the floor. I was frightened and fled from there,” Keith told detectives.

“Keith went to Mahtani’s flat alone on Monday night. When he entered the drawing room, a middle-aged man, whom Keith claims he does not know, was already there. Mahtani introduced him as Jishu,’’ investigating officers said. Detectives have sent policemen with the bracelet to city shops to check if it is possible to track down the owner.

Detectives went to Mahtani’s apartment on Thursday morning and searched his bedroom and other adjoining rooms. “We found the silver bracelet under the sofa.We also seized a diary and some photographs stashed in the cupboard,’’ a detective said.

Another student of a reputed English medium school, Raja Ghosh, who was detained by the detectives, said that Keith was not a close friend.

Arati told the detectives she saw Keith and another person, whom she could not identify, leave the room minutes before she discovered Mahtani’s lifeless body. Keith described him as a well-built person in his mid-thirties. Police on Thursday fanned across the city in search of Jishu. “We are not sure if he killed Mahtani. But he was definitely in the room when the murder was committed,’’ Ghosh said.

Detectives questioned many of Mahtani’s business associates and friends to find out if he was in debt or if there was any rivalry. “He had bought a jewellery shop in New Market’s A block from his partner,’’ a detective said. Detectives said Mahtani hosted “wild parties’’ in his apartment overlooking Topsia police station. Officials of Beniapukur police station said other flat-owners had once complained against Vishnu and his parties.    


 
 
DAYLONG FAST, RALLY HIT PHONE SERVICES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
Telephones services were hit on Thursday after some junior telecom officers, divisional engineers and sub-divisional engineers left their place of work and demonstrated against the Centre’s policy of corporatisation in front of Telephone Bhavan, in Dalhousie Square, throughout the day.

Chief general manager of Calcutta Telephones, K. Ramanujam, said 22,000 telephones are still out of order. Subscribers faced problems in getting outstation connections, particularly to Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi.

Sources at the Eastern Telecom Region (ETR), which is in charge of STD and ISD connections, said that they faced some technical problems. “With junior engineers on a hungerstrike, there was a dearth of manpower in the department, and so it took some time to take up repair work. We hope there won’t be any problem to get outstation calls from the evening,’’ a senior ETR officer said.

Junior telecom officers, along with the sub-divisional and divisional engineers, man the exchange. “These engineers are in charge of the maintenance of an exchange. There are 31 big exchanges and 200 small exchanges and 950 JTOs working there,’’ Ramanujam said.

According to telecom department sources, there are mainly three reasons for a telephone to go out of order.

“It can either be because of some internal technical fault at the exchange, or external faults in the underground cables, or in the instruments. The linesman and technicians repair any damage in the cable lines, but JTOs and sub-divisional and divisional engineers repair the internal technical faults in the exchanges,’’ a senior general manager of the telecom department.

“We had drawn up an extensive work schedule to repair faults but the demonstration by employees has slowed down the process,’’ Ramanujam said.

The junior telecom officers sat in front of the gate of Telephone Bhavan immediately after reporting for duty on Thursday morning. They began their relay hungerstrike and organised a meeting in protest against Centre’s telecom policies.

Those owing allegiance to the Telecom Engineering Officers’ Association have been demonstrating against the Centre’s policy for some time. “We have not gone on strike, but we are strictly following the work-to-rule policy. We have nothing against the subscribers, but it is important that everybody knows how the Centre is selling off a profit-making concern,’’ said Dilip Saha, an executive member of the association.

Saha said senior members of the unions are in touch with the communication ministry. “We have placed our demand with the ministry. We are awaiting the minister’s reaction,’’ he added.

Employees said they will be back at their exchanges from Friday. Ramanujam said from Friday, the staff is expected to work full time.    


 
 
FATAL MISHAP SPARKS FURY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
Trouble erupted in the Vivekananda Road-Amherst Street area after a middle-aged woman was run over by a private bus on Thursday night. Hundreds of local people tried to set the bus on fire. They also attacked other passing vehicles.

A police van on duty at the crossing of Vivekananda Road and Amherst Street rushed to the spot and dispersed the mob.

Santanu Saha, a resident of the area, said an airport-bound bus on route 46 knocked down the woman who was crossing the street.

“The bus was trying to overtake another vehicle and the driver saw the woman only when it was too late,’’ said Saha.

Some vehicles behind the bus also ran over the woman, without noticing her body. Police said the driver fled immediately after the accident.

n Regent Park arrests: Two more people were arrested on Thursday on charges of being involved in the dacoity at bank manager Achintya Majumdar’s house and killing of his wife, Suchitra, on Monday morning.    


 
 
STREETCARS THAT SUBRATA DOESN’T DESIRE 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
Calcutta may soon lose part of its old-world charm. Two tram routes in busy central Calcutta may soon be wound up to ease congestion during peak hours.

One of these is the Sealdah-to-Strand Road route, which wends its way through Mahatma Gandhi Road. The other is from Lalbazar to Bagbazar through Chitpur.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee met state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Thursday and placed this proposal before him. Among Mukherjee’s other proposals were demolition of tram tracks above road level, realignment of tracks to road level, so that other vehicles may move along with trams, and marking of the area between Victoria Memorial and Writers’ Buildings as a “no-hawkers’ zone.’’

In a more jocular vein, the mayor said the raised tram tracks in the middle of roads were often used by residents of south Calcutta as open-air toilets for their pet dogs in the morning.

Welcoming Mukherjee’s suggestions, Chakraborty said winding up tram services from two important routes in the city would require the chief minister’s approval. He said his department would soon start work on the repair and realignment of tram tracks.

Mukherjee criticised the government for neglecting tram tracks and for running ramshackle trams. “Approaching trams make a deafening noise that can be heard even when they are two kilometres away. Tracks have not been repaired for the past six years. In most places, tracks are broken,” he said, adding that the city’s tram services were the worst among the 62 countries where trams are still plying.

Justifying his recommendations for removal of trams from Mahatma Gandhi Road and Chitpur, Mukherjee said: “Slow-moving trams are responsible for chronic traffic snarls on these two major road links in central Calcutta. There is no scope for widening the roads here and shifting of tram tracks from the middle of the road,’’ Mukherjee said.

The mayor feels there is scope for beautifying the Maidan and its surroundings areas. “The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has already undertaken the job to light up the entire stretch from Victoria Memorial to Chowringhee. But this is not enough. The government should declare the area a no-hawkers’ zone once the beautification is completed,’’ Mukherjee said.

Cyclist beaten up: A teenaged cyclist was severely beaten up by youth of Bijoygarh on Thursday for allegedly knocking down a man. Police said the boy, Narayan Ghosh, has been admitted to a private nursing home in a critical condition. One person was arrested in this connection.

Run over: Residents blocked roads at Asokenagar, in Barasat, after a youth was run over by a truck on Thursday while he was trying to stop the vehicle for collecting subscriptions for Viswakarma puja.    


 
 
HAWKERS PROTEST EVICTION 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Sept 14: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Thursday was in a spot over the Taltala police drive to evict hawkers of the Sudder Street Hawkers’ Congress, a Trinamul-controlled union. A large number of the hawkers, led by union president Madan Mitra, rallied at Calcutta Municipal Corporation and met the mayor to protest “police high-handedness.”

Mukherjee expressed surprise over the police drive, indicating that the CMC has put on hold its campaign against hawkers, in view of the festive season. “I will take up the matter with deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya,” he told the hawkers’ representatives.

Mitra told the mayor the hawkers were ready to cooperate with the CMC, but added that the local police had no authority to disrupt their business on Durga Puja-eve.

Mitra also alleged that the local police had spared the Citu-controlled hawkers in central Calcutta, but was harassing those with Trinamul affiliation.

A memorandum was submitted to the officer-in-charge of Taltala police station, drawing his attention to the “uncalled-for police drive” against the hawkers of Sudder Street and Chowringhee Road, in front of YMCA and Peerless Inn.

The police, however, said their drive in Esplanade and its surrounding areas had been continuing since last year.

“We have told the hawkers the area is out of bounds for them. While carrying out the drive, we do not differentiate between political parties,’’ said a senior police officer supervising the eviction.    


 
 
2 WOMEN BRANDED WITCHES NEAR RANCHI, ONE KILLED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Ranchi, Sept. 14: 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT Two old women, suspected of practising witchcraft, were beaten up, stripped and paraded naked in a village near here. One woman succumbed to her injuries.

The two women, aged 75 and 65 years respectively, were severely beaten up, stripped and later paraded naked through the streets of Gandhigram under Angara police station, 30 km from Ranchi, on charges of being witches on Monday. The victim’s body was thrown into a tribal burial ground in a bid to preclude detection by the police.

An FIR has been lodged at the Angara police station by Paras Baltha, the 50-year-old son of the victim, 75-year-old Jeetan Devi.

In the FIR, he said Bigni, the 10-year-old daughter of one Mahavir Oraon of Gandhigram village, died of acute hepatitis on Sunday. Paras added Mahavir’s daughter-in-law Laxmi was suddenly “possessed” by evil spirits on Monday and screamed that Jeetan Devi of their village had cast an evil spell on the sick Bigni, resulting in her sudden death.

Paras alleged that when Mahavir’s sons and other family members heard Laxmi, they attacked Jeetan Devi, dragged her out of the house and severely beat her up. She was stripped naked, after which the assailants burnt her clothes. Paras alleged that later the assailants tonsured her, smeared her head with lime and then paraded her naked through the streets of the village. Jeetan Devi was locked up in the room of the primary health care centre in the village.

Paras alleged that after locking up his mother, the villagers beat up 65-year-old Dubhan Devi. She was beaten up, stripped, tonsured and paraded naked throughout the village and finally locked up in a club room of the village.

Yesterday, the villagers unlocked the rooms where the two women had been confined. While the two women were being beaten up, Jeetan Devi died. In the ensuing commotion, Dubhan Devi managed to escape.

The villagers then summoned Etwa Naik, a barber by profession, and asked him to dispose off Jeetan Devi’s body. It was later recovered from a tribal burial ground by the Angara police, who rushed to Gandhigram after receiving news of the incident.

Angara police station officer-in-charge Ram Chandra Prasad said FIRs have been lodged against 14 persons including three women for causing the death of Jeetan Devi and beating up Dubhan Devi. Four persons were arrested while the other accused fled. The incident was the first of its kind in the region, the O-C said. Police protection has been provided to the family of Dubhan Devi and Jeetan Devi’s body sent to Ranchi for post mortem.    


 
 
POLL PANEL TURNS TABLES ON MAHANTA 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Guwahati, Sept. 14: 
The Election Commission today turned the tables on chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, terming his allegation about the Congress using Ulfa activists as counting agents in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections as an attempt to cover up his government’s failure to maintain law and order during the polls.

Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurty told The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi that the commission’s primary responsibility was to conduct elections, while providing an atmosphere conducive to free and fair polls was the state government’s duty.

“Though we do issue certain law and order-related directives to the state government during the electoral process, it is not our duty to prevent untoward incidents,” Krishnamurty said.

He said “no specific case” of Ulfa militants acting as counting agents in the last Lok Sabha elections had been brought to the commission’s notice.

In an interview to The Telegraph, Mahanta had claimed that the Congress passed off Ulfa militants as party members and used them as counting agents. He said this came to light when some of these militants surrendered recently.“The Assam government is in possession of the identity cards issued to them by the Election Commission,” Mahanta said.

Countering the charge, Krishnamurty said the state government was to blame if Ulfa rebels were actually involved in the electoral process.

Chief electoral officer Bhaskar Mushahary said he had “taken note” of Mahanta’s statement. He said the allegation, however, did not mention any specific instance of Ulfa rebels acting as counting agents.

“We will conduct an investigation to find out if any Ulfa rebel was issued an identity card,” he said.

Counting agents of all political parties are issued identity cards for entry into counting centres.

The Congress clinched 10 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in 1999, while the BJP won two and the Autonomous State Demand Committee one. An Independent Bodo candidate won the remaining seat. For the Asom Gana Parishad, it was the second electoral setback in two years.

Mahanta claimed the Centre had assured the state government that it would look into the alleged Congress-Ulfa nexus and consider the demand to debar the party from contesting the Assembly elections, slated for May next year.

He said it was imperative to prevent the Congress from repeating what it did last year.

However, Krishnamurty said debarring a party from contesting elections was a complicated issue. “If such a complaint is lodged with the commission, it will have to examine whether debarring a political party from contesting elections comes under the purview of the Representation of People’s Act,” he said.

Other senior Election Commission officials in New Delhi also took note of Mahanta’s statement. One of these officials said over phone that the issue was “highly sensitive”.    


 
 
ONE KILLED IN TRIPURA, TRADER FREED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Sept. 14: 
A tribal supporter of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura was shot dead last night.

In separate incidents, security forces rescued an abducted Bengali trader and arrested six militants.

Police sources said a group of unidentified militants last night raided the house of IPFT supporter Rajkumar Noatin at Nailonbari village under Melaghar police station and summoned him out. On seeing that the persons were known, Rajkumar’s wife opened the door. The militants immediately barged into the thatched hut and hacked Rajkumar to death. No one has been arrested in connection with the killing.

In another incident last night, a combined force of police and Central Reserve Police Force jawans rescued Pushpa Nath, a Bengali trader abducted from Jayasri market under Kanchanpur subdivision. Sources said the hostage was rescued from remote Monacherra area under Damcherra police station.

The combined force also arrested six militants identified as Sainilbul Tripura, David Reang, Anjan Reang, Pranayram Reang, Baroi Reang and Tobaram Reang.

Sources said Pushpa Nath’s abduction last month had triggered largescale violence, in which several tribal and Bengali civilians had been killed.

Bihar students killed

Four students were killed and six injured, two of them seriously, when a huge tree broke and fell on them at a private school at Salkhua Bazar in Bihar’s Saharsa district, reports PTI.

The tragedy took place yesterday. The dead were identified as Sanjay Yadav, Pappu Yadav, Supreme Yadav and Prashant Kumar Yadav.    

 

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