Don calls trace path of terror
Floods sink pre-Puja road repair plans
Buses, taxis signal strike for fare hike
Karate kids eye triumph at Sydney tryst
Tripura chief minister on rebel hitlist
Ban on Tripura puja triggers tension
Priest murder mystery solved
Mahanta peps up police morale
Army kills Bodo rebel
NSCN-IM accuses Jamir of ‘treason’

 
 
DON CALLS TRACE PATH OF TERROR 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Oct 2: 
It was a bright sunny morning in 1998. Jaffar, 23-year-old-brother of crimelord Lambu Feroz, was strolling down Tiljala Second Lane. Three ‘friends’ were waiting for him on the footpath opposite. They waved at him and Jaffar smiled back. Then, a staccato burst of gunfire. Five bullets slammed into Jaffar. He slumped to the ground in a pool of blood.

Don calls trace path of terrorThe fragile peace of the tinderbox that is Tiljala-Topsia was shattered. Word spread that Lulla Bapi, the reigning crimelord of the area, had killed Jaffar. Lambu Feroz swore revenge but was no match for Lulla Bapi’s musclepower. There was one man, he realised, who could take on the might of Lulla Bapi: Sheikh Vinod.

Lambu Feroz knew the 33-year-old gangster as a sharpshooter and a daredevil. He called up Vinod and sought his help. Vinod, who was engaged in a fierce turf battle in Tollygunge with rival Shahzada, agreed at once.

Thus began the bitter, bloody fight in Beniapukur, Tiljala and Topsia. According to underworld sources, 21 youngsters were killed in a sudden spurt of violence. Police records at Topsia and Tiljala police stations register 12 deaths.

The police were never too sure why such a bloody battle had erupted so suddenly in the eastern fringes of the city. But on Sunday, the missing links fell into place after a crack team of city detectives and sleuths of South 24-Parganas tracked down the numbers called from Vinod’s cellphone (98310-64344) to expose his crime network.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, detectives said they dialled each of the 26 numbers Vinod would call frequently. “He had close links with these men, most of whom are from decent, middle-class families and managed the crimelord’s affairs,’’ a detective said. According to detectives, the police initially had no clue that Vinod was operating from Topsia and Tangra. Only after questioning those on Vinod’s cellphone list did the detectives realise this was his hideout.

Investigations revealed that in 1998, Vinod and his henchman Kalua, 32, entered into a strategic alliance with Lambu Feroz, with an eye on the lucrative land dealings along the E.M. Bypass in the Tiljala-Tangra-Beniapukur area. Tiljala-Topsia was then in the vice grip of Lulla Bapi, Gudda and Jani. They kidnapped Shabana, 18, sister of Langra Sahid, an associate of Lambu Feroz, late in 1998. “The criminals collected a whopping Rs 2 lakh almost every day from the builders,’’ a police officer said.

Vinod and Kalua took shelter on G.G. Khan Road. Meanwhile, blood continued to flow in Topsia and Tangra, with the murder of Javed, 23, Sheikh Babu, 22, Arif, 22, Moslem, 21, all members of Feroz’s gang.

Vinod, Kalua and Feroz struck back in July, 1999. Lulla Bapi was sipping tea at Beniapukur, very close to the police station, when the three surrounded him and shot him down. A few days later, Sheikh Bugla, a close associate of Gudda, was hacked to death. The message went out loud and clear: Vinod, Feroz and Kalua had arrived to take over Tangra. A few months later, they rescued Shabana from a house near Malancha cinema hall in Tollygunge.

Police sources said most murder cases pending against Vinod are at Tiljala and Topsia police stations. His associates used his name to spread terror in Baruipur and Bagherkhole. On the day seven of his associates were lynched in Bagherkhole, Vinod had fled to Feroz’s house. But the man who had once brought him into Tiljala turned his back on the fugitive. Vinod was forced to seek shelter in another associate’s house at Teghoria, North 24-Parganas. But it was unfamiliar territory for him and his wife was pregnant.

Realising that he had reached a dead end, Vinod sent out surrender signals. Ultimately, on September 18, the law caught up with Calcutta’s ‘most wanted’ — when he turned into a blind lane of Teghoria with the cops hot on his trail.    


 
 
FLOODS SINK PRE-PUJA ROAD REPAIR PLANS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct 2: 
River waters twice a day for five days: an apt prescription for fouling up city roads.

This is exactly what has happened to long stretches of roads alongside the Hooghly and its canals as the tide waters ended their onslaught on Sunday.

With the Pujas barely three days away, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation is helpless. “We’re afraid pandal-hoppers will have a bumpy ride in some pockets,” said an official of the roads department.

Chief engineer (roads) Sajal Banerjee said Romesh Mitra Road, Townshend Road, S.P. Mukherjee Road and roads in Behala and Garden Reach had been affected badly.

But tide-affected roads aside, there are several other thoroughfares the CMC could not attend to. As much as about 400 km of roads in the CMC area require restoration. Only 30 km will be possible before the Pujas commence.

Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road (near Harisha Market), Bidhan Sarani and Rabindra Sarani, B.K. Pal Avenue and Beadon Street in the north require immediate repairs. A large number of roads in Behala and Garden Reach, too, need attention before the Pujas.

“But this is not possible immediately as flood waters have left behind ankle-deep mud and slush,” said member, mayor-in-council, Anup Chatterjee. The conservancy department will require a few days to remove the slush before the repairs can be taken up.

Former member, mayor-in-council (roads), Sudhanshu Sil held the Trinamul board in the CMC responsible for the situation.

Road repairs were suspended for about a month till September 14 as there was no stock of bitumen. Indian Oil Corporation had told the CMC to create a buffer stock of bitumen, as their plant would shut down for 25 days. But the civic authorities had turned a deaf ear.

Chatterjee, on the other hand, said “The Trinamul board is hardly three months old. Besides, just before the election, the CPM-led board undertook repair work. Why did it not last for more than two months?”    


 
 
BUSES, TAXIS SIGNAL STRIKE FOR FARE HIKE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct 2: 
Private transport operators in the city and the districts have threatened to go on strike after the Pujas, demanding a hike in fares in view of the recent increase in petroleum and diesel prices.

The Bengal Bus Syndicate, Joint Council Of Bus Syndicate and the Bengal Taxi Association wrote to transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Sunday, seeking a new fare structure “at the earliest”. Tapan Banerjee, an official of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, said the council has served a seven-day ultimatum to the state government, demanding a revision of the fare structure.

Fearing an imminent strike by private transport operators, the minister has promised to initiate a dialogue with them on Tuesday.

“I have requested them not to go on a wildcat strike during the Pujas and I am happy that they have agreed to consider my request,” he said. Chakraborty even indicated that the government might increase the fares of state buses following the oil-price hike. “It will be difficult for the operators to ply their vehicles,” he said.

Joint council spokesman Banerjee claimed its members run 7,000 buses in the city every day and will have to bear an extra cost of Rs 300 per bus in the wake of the diesel price hike. “In the districts, we run 13,000 buses and will incur an additional expense of Rs 400 per bus,” he added.    


 
 
KARATE KIDS EYE TRIUMPH AT SYDNEY TRYST 
 
 
BY DEVADEEP PUROHIT
 
Calcutta, Oct 2: 
Snihil Raghav and Mayukh Dey are always throwing kicks and punches — either at each other or at kids in their ‘category’. But the parents of these six-year-olds do nothing to stop them. In fact, they are pleased as Punch about the way the two use their tiny fists of fury.

Snihil and Mayukh are Calcutta’s karate kids. After our Olympians practically sank without a trace in Sydney, the two are headed Down Under to salvage some national sporting pride.

The comrades-in-arms from Salt Lake will carry the Indian challenge at the Sydney World Cup of Martial Arts, starting from October 6. This is the first time that India will be competing in the six-to-eight age group of this premier tournament, where participants from 60 countries will fight it out.

Ask them what they will do in Sydney, as they take a break from punching the bag, and the answer flies fast and furious: “Fight karenge aur zaroor jeetenge”.

While Snihil is a Class I student of St James, Mayukh is at Mother International School in Salt Lake. Both train together (for six hours these days), freak out on cartoons, and share a common hero: “Bruce Lee is good, but Jackie Chan is just too good.”

The junior karatekas’ tryst with martial arts started at the age of four, when their parents took them to Budo-Ryu Karate-Do International at Salt Lake.

“When we saw their interest, we encouraged them to take it up seriously,” chorus fathers Sanjeev Raghav and Monojoy Dey.

Within a year and a half, Snihil and Mayukh became blue belts after crossing the white, yellow, green and orange hurdles under the watchful eye of coach Premjit Sen. Success at this year’s national championships in July at Kshudiram Anushilan Kendra earned them a ticket to Sydney.

“We are so proud of the boys, but it was really difficult to arrange for the funds,” complains Sanjeev. “We approached both the Central and the state governments for their support. Nothing but promises were forthcoming,” adds Monojoy.    


 
 
TRIPURA CHIEF MINISTER ON REBEL HITLIST 
 
 
FROM SEKHAR DATTA
 
Agartala, Oct. 1: 
The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) has reportedly prepared a hitlist to “eliminate” top non-tribal ministers of the state during the ensuing Durga Puja after having lost over 15 hardcore rebels and a huge amount of arms and ammunition in a recent police crackdown. According to sources, chief minister Manik Sarkar heads the list.

This was confirmed by a confidential circular issued by the superintendent of police (intelligence wing), West Tripura, to all police stations and officials.

“According to an input, three NLFT militants have sneaked into Agartala for attacking non-tribal ministers of Tripura including the chief minister. Another related input indicates engagement of two non- tribals for a similar purpose by the NLFT,” the circular said.

Senior police officials here admitted to the issuance of the circular but refused to elaborate saying, “The matter is very serious.’’ State police sources said security of the chief minister as well as other ministers have been tightened and a massive manhunt has been launched to track down the killers.

A watch tower would be erected and sniffer dogs deployed at the chief minister’s official residence as part of a thorough overhaul of security, sources said.

Similar measures would be initiated at residences of other ministers as well.

Sources said after lying low for sometime because of internal squabbles, the NLFT was trying to hit back with “selective targets”.

The Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence agents in Bangladesh recently propped up the outfit with arms and explosives. Two Bangladeshi “snipers” have also joined the outfit’s hit squad, sources said.

The ruling CPM refused to react on the matter and said, “We do not rule out such an attempt but the government is looking into the matter.”

In the past, a host of state leaders including former health minister Bimal Sinha were assassinated by the rebels.    


 
 
BAN ON TRIPURA PUJA TRIGGERS TENSION 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Oct. 1: 
Tension has been reportedly mounting in the interior areas of the state following the imposition of a ban on Durga Puja by militants of the National Liberation Front of Tripura and the determination of Hindu tribals and Bengalis to organise the puja with armed guards, if necessary.

NLFT militants have circulated pamphlets in interior areas imposing a ban on holding Durga Puja. Security has been beefed up throughout the state in view of the escalating tension.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has issued a statement calling for organised resistance against militant depredations and their interference with the religious rights of the people. The statement, signed by Swami Kripalananda Giri of the VHP, mentioned the killing of Hindu saint Santi Tripura on August 27. Giri called upon all Hindus, cutting across ethnic lines, to form dharma suraksha samities in all localities for peacefully organising the puja.

The tension over Durga Puja has taken a new turn with the hoda okra (chief priest and social leader) of the Jamatya tribal community issuing a statement. Bikram Bahadur Jamatya has called for resistance against the NLFT’s interference with the religious faith of Hindu tribals.

In a meeting held on September 24 at Hodraibari under Teliamura police station, chief priest Bikram Bahadur has called upon all tribal Hindus to defy the NLFT call. Asserting that he was constantly facing threat to his life, Jamatya said all the 187 kings who had ruled Tripura for 500 years have never interfered with the religious beliefs of people belonging to other faiths.

The dispute over the puja is all set to take an ugly turn in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura. The Hindu Reang tribals and Bengalis have decided to organise the puja in defiance of the NLFT ban.

The situation has become tense after the Reang-dominated Bru National Liberation Front parted ways with the NLFT. It has called upon the people to organise Durga Puja.    


 
 
PRIEST MURDER MYSTERY SOLVED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Oct. 1: 
The mystery surrounding the killing of a Catholic priest, Victor Crasta, by militants of the National Liberation Front of Tripura on July 25 has been resolved at last. An arrested militant has admitted to the police that NLFT militants had shot dead the priest inadvertently.

Crasta was shot dead on July 25, when his vehicle came under fire on the Panisagar-Damoherra road while heading for Mizoram.

Two other Catholic priests seated in the vehicle sustained injuries.

Chief minister Manik Sarkar had ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.

The police were initially foxed by a statement issued by the militant outfit disowning responsibility.

Police sources said officers and jawans of Damcherra police station conducted a search operation in Khedacherra area and arrested a hardcore NLFT militant Tito alias Amit Debbarma on Tuesday.

In the course of interrogation, Tito made the sensational disclosure that Catholic priest Crasta was shot dead by mistake.

The militant who fired the shot has been sentenced to death by the high command of the NLFT.

Regarding the fate of the two Bengali small traders Sajal Nama and Babul Talukdar abducted on the same date, Tito Debbarma said both the Bengali traders have been killed and their bodies dumped as well.

Sources said the version given by Tito was correct and the bodies of the traders would be recovered soon.

Section 144 in S. Tripura: South Tripura district magistrate Teginder Singh has promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in the entire district for the next month to maintain peace and normalcy in the district, reports UNI.

An official release said here today that the prohibitory order would remain in force till November 2.

The release said all officers-in-charge of all the police stations had been asked to take stern action against those who violate the order.    


 
 
MAHANTA PEPS UP POLICE MORALE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Guwahati, Oct. 1: 
Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today called upon the Assam police to dedicate themselves to the task of wiping out insurgency and defeat the evil designs of foreign agencies which, he said, are aimed at destabilising the state.

Mahanta warned that the insurgent outfits, with the active support of foreign agencies like Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, had been desperately trying to carry out subversive activities in the entire Northeast to weaken the state machinery.

Mahanta was speaking at a function held at Judges’ Field here today to mark the celebration of the first Assam Police Day and ceremonial presentation of a new flag to the force. This is the first time since Independence that the state police will have their own flag. The red and blue flag has an emblem of a japi, a traditional Assamese cap.

Announcing the new motto of Jana hit aaru jana sewa (in the service of the people) adopted by the Assam police, the chief minister expressed the hope that this would bring the force closer to the people.

He called upon the police personnel to uphold the police flag which he described as the symbol of their identity, unity and prestige. To give the function a secular colour, the flag was consecrated amid chanting of hymns and verses by saints of different religions before it was formally presented by Mahanta to the ensigned officer.

A total of 268 jawans representing different Assam police battalions presented an impressive marchpast with a piped band playing police anthems in the symbolic presentation of the state police force as a “better and brighter” pack to promote a people-friendly image.

The chief minister also presented police medals to 63 policemen, posthumously to six of them, for showing valour, courage and exemplary performance in counter-insurgency operations and maintenance of law and order.

He also announced the institution of a new police medal by the director-general of police.

From being a mute “spectator” in the initial days of insurgency, when it was forced to play second fiddle to the Army and paramilitary forces, the Assam police are now considered the motive force behind the unified command success story.

The Assam police have achieved “stupendous success” in their anti-insurgency operations following adoption of the new strategy of involving people.    


 
 
ARMY KILLS BODO REBEL 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Guwahati, Oct. 1: 
Army troops operating in Lower Assam’s Nalbari district shot dead a suspected National Democratic Front of Boroland militant early this morning. The incident took place when an Army patrol party patrolling Donsamka village near arimakha in the district was challenged by a suspected insurgent.

On being challenged, the militant threw grenades at the Army jawan and tried to flee. Security forces returned fire killed him on the spot, said a defence press release.

One 9mm revolver with ammunition was recovered from the slain militant. The banned ULFA is in total disarray as there is serious infighting between the top brass of the outfit now holed up in Bhutan and its cadres willing to surrender, said Assam Director General of Police P. V. Sumant, adds PTI.

AGP dharna: The ruling Asom Gana Parishad will stage demonstrations across Assam on Tuesday in protest against the hike in prices of petroleum products. Chief spokesperson of the party, Birendra Prasad Baishya, today termed the Centre’s move as “anti-people”.

He said the hike in prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG would lead to high inflation. Baishya said the AGP steering committee yesterday decided to launch a series of agitation programmes to mobilise public opinion against the rise in prices of petroleum products.    


 
 
NSCN-IM ACCUSES JAMIR OF ‘TREASON’ 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Kohima, Oct. 1: 
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) has charged chief minister S.C. Jamir with masterminding the recent arrest of three rebels of the NSCN’s Khaplang faction in Assam’s Sivsagar district. The outfit also said that Jamir was throwing a spanner in unity efforts among the Nagas.

Sivsagar police last week arrested nine Khaplang functionaries including three kilonsers (ministers) while they were on their way to Mokukchung from Mon. The arrested were remanded in a week’s police custody. In a press release issued here today, the NSCN(I-M) said the chief minister was “so afraid of Naga solidarity that he masterminded the recent arrests of the Khaplang rebels, even as Naga nationalists were vigorously pursuing unity among the Nagas”. Despite the NSCN(I-M)’s rejection of an intra-factional ceasefire with the Khaplang variant, both the outfits were reportedly inching towards an “understanding” and have even declared Zunheboto and Tuensang districts as “peace zones”.

Identifying Jamir as enemy Number One, the NSCN(I-M) said the chief minister was “very jubilant” when the outfit’s general secretary was arrested by Thai authorities in Bangkok. It said Jamir was ready to “collaborate with any organisation or individual” to bolster the peace process but “minus Muivah”.

The NSCN(I-M) reiterated that with the release of Muivah the peace initiatives have regained momentum but “Jamir was the main stumbling block”.

The outfit alleged that the security forces were harassing “innocent civilians” after the two recent skirmishes the outfit had with the Army. The ceasefire between the Centre and the NSCN(I-M) has taken a roller-coaster ride with recent exchanges of fire between the outfit and security forces.

The outfit said the security forces were “lurking provocatively in the vicinity of designated areas in the name of implementing ground rules”. Though the Army talked of honouring the ceasefire, it was repeatedly conducting raids and harassed NSCN(I-M) rebels, the outfit added.

It also said it would “not allow” the Army to conducted raids to “disarm the NSCN(I-M)”. On the extension of the truce to Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring states, the outfit said the security forces were in cahoots with the states to stall the extension.    

 

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