Landlord held for assault on tenant
Speed-up signal to high court
Metro lifeline snaps for stranded
Judge puts glowsigns in civic tax net
Own bone marrow for toxic check
Chambal’s terror turns messenger of peace
Auto crashes into truck, four killed
Port Trust asked to clear dues
Imphal curfew fans public rage over firing
Tripura rebels buckle under tribal resistance

 
 
LANDLORD HELD FOR ASSAULT ON TENANT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
A former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer was arrested, along with 16 others, on charges of assaulting his tenant and ransacking the apartment in Salt Lake on Thursday night.

They were produced at Barrackpore court on Friday morning and remanded in jail custody for a fortnight.

The police registered an FIR on the basis of the tenant’s complaint and charged those arrested with attempt to murder, rioting, criminal conspiracy and trespassing under Sections 149, 448, 325, 307, 120 (B), 25 and 27 of the IPC.

Police said the incident was a fallout of a dispute between the landlord, K.R. Sinha (former IFS) , and his tenant, businessman Vinay Singhania, over the payment of rent for an apartment in Salt Lake’s AE Block.

Officer-in-charge of Bidhannagar (North) police station, Prabir Das, said that the tenant had not paid the rent for more than two years. So, an infuriated Sinha had tried to evict Singhania from the flat by the use of “muscle power”.

On Thursday night, according to the police, Sinha and about 16 other men entered Singhania’s flat and started ransacking the rooms. Five of them tied Singhania, his wife, son and daughter and his brother’s wife to chairs.

The FIR says they were then severely beaten up. A pet dog, which was barking at Sinha’s men, was beaten unconscious with a stick.

Attracted by the commotion, some local youth rushed to the spot. They tried to restrain Sinha and his men, but failed as they were outnumbered.

They then called in the police, who reached the spot within 15 minutes. Sinha and 16 of his associates were arrested “red-handed,’’ police said.    


 
 
SPEED-UP SIGNAL TO HIGH COURT 
 
 
BY TAPAS GHOSH
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
The message from the Union law ministry to Calcutta High Court is clear: It’s time to get a move on.

Law minister Arun Jaitley has asked Chief Justice A K. Mathur to “take over a case if the judge concerned fails to pass a verdict six weeks after completion of hearing”. In a letter (no. 150/14/2/2000 Jus M), Jaitley explained that the Centre had taken the decision as per recommendation of the Maliwat Committee, set up to identify methods for quick disposal of pending cases.

The letter reached the high court late on Friday, though a copy of the same had been served to almost all the judges by the chief justice’s office earlier in the day.

The decision has caused a stir in the judicial corridors of Calcutta. A few judges came out strongly against the Jaitley letter and said the “Centre has no legal right to interfere in the administration of justice”.

“Calcutta High Court judges are known to clear pending cases without wasting time. Forget about six weeks, verdict is normally passed within two weeks of the hearing being complete,” said a senior judge, preferring anonymity.

Uttam Majumdar, former secretary of the Bar Association, said: “There is no point in piling up pressure on judges. The sanctioned strength of judges in the high court is 48, but there are only 38 judges at the moment. To ensure speedy trial, the Supreme Court must first increase the number of judges.”

Informed sources said over a hundred cases, hearings of which were concluded more than six months ago, are awaiting verdict in the high court. So, the Central move has brought cheer to a section of litigants.

“Often, powerful parties ‘influence’ court officials and stall verdicts for months. This makes it impossible for most litigants to fight out a case.If a time limit is set for the disposal of cases, it will definitely benefit the common man,” said a litigant at the high court.

The Jaitley jab has gone down well with some state government officials as well. “Jyotibabu has been very vocal about the fact that the courts have been holding up several development projects in the city. He had even requested Chief Justice Mathur to dispose of such cases as fast as possible. This speed-up signal from the Centre can actually help clear a bottleneck of some vital civic programmes,” said a government spokesperson.    


 
 
METRO LIFELINE SNAPS FOR STRANDED 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
Two gone, one to go. For thousands of commuters left stranded by the three-day strike by private buses and minibuses, a struggle awaits them on Saturday as well.

The transport operators decided not to withdraw their strike on Friday, dubbing transport minister Subhas Chakraborty’s assurance of a fare hike as “vague”. Chakraborty has called the operators for a meeting at Writers’ Buildings on Monday to finalise a revised fare structure. The government is expected to announced a revised fare structure on Tuesday.

Calcuttans had a harrowing time on Friday, with nearly 4,500 buses and minibuses staying off the road demanding increased fares in the wake of the recent hike in petroleum products.

It was a repeat of Thursday’s travails for commuters. Office-goers and students jostled for space on overcrowded government buses, and taxis and auto-rickshaws were out to make a killing. Classrooms in several schools went half-empty.

The situation was further compounded by severe disruption in Metro Rail services during the morning rush hour. The Metro, which had proved to be the one lifeline on Thursday, let people down on Friday. A senior Metro Rail official said a fracture was detected on the tracks on Thursday night at Netaji Bhavan station. Replacement of tracks took time and Dum Dum-bound trains could not ply till 9 am.

Then, around 8.45 am, a Metro rake developed “compressor problems” at Girish Park station. As the rake blocked the tracks, services from Dum Dum to Maidan were suspended till 11.04 am. Skeletal services were maintained between Maidan and Tollygunge. Things returned to normal around 11.15 am.

Meanwhile, Ajit Saha, president of Bengal Bus Syndicate, and Sadhan Das, general secretary of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, said they had been forced to carry on with the three-day strike as the government had failed to come up with a concrete proposal on the fare hike. The transport department has been buying time with the “waiting for the Centre to announce a rollback” line.

“Even though the minister has told us that increased fares will be announced by Tuesday, we find this very vague. Subhasbabu has not given us a clue of what kind of an increase it will be,” said Saha.

The Bengal Bus Syndicate has demanded that the minimum bus fare be Rs 3 for the first six kilometres. The Joint Council has pegged the minimum fare at Rs 3.50. Minibus operators want a minimum of Rs 4 for the first two km.

“The transport minister has not been specific,” added Das. “What the government must take into account is the fact there has not just been a hike in diesel rates but also in the prices of spares, lubricating oils, brake oils and chasses over the past year. Whatever the government does to revise the existing fare structure, these things will have to be taken into account.”    


 
 
JUDGE PUTS GLOWSIGNS IN CIVIC TAX NET 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has the right to collect taxes from companies using glowsigns to highlight their products at retail outlets in the city. This was the verdict delivered by Calcutta High Court on Friday. Justice Dilip Seth pronounced the Corporation’s notification to this effect “valid” and “in accordance with the law”.

A spokesman of the Corporation said tax amounting to crores could now be recovered, following the verdict. The worst hit are the two soft drink giants, out to paint the town red and blue.

The reaction from the cola camps was predictable: “We have not received the notice yet, so our lawyers are in no position to react. But for the moment, we can say that we will, of course, abide by the legal verdict.”

In June this year, the Corporation’s move to collect tax from the companies was challenged by Pepsico. The company had petitioned Justice A.N. Roy that the CMC had no legal right to impose a tax on glowsigns.The Soft Drink Dealers’ Association had filed a separate case challenging the notification of the CMC. The court had decided to the hear the matters jointly.

Alok Ghosh, representing the Corporation, argued that as the companies were making a profit through this form of advertisement, they should pay a tax.

Justice Roy had directed the civic body to furnish a list of such glowsigns atop the shops of Calcutta. Ghosh later informed the court that more than 1,500 such advertisement boards had been put up by Pepsico alone.

Due to a shift of jurisdiction, the matter finally came up for hearing before Justice Dilip Seth, who delivered the verdict on Friday.    


 
 
OWN BONE MARROW FOR TOXIC CHECK 
 
 
BY AMIT UKIL
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
Close on the heels of the first bone marrow transplant on a patient in Calcutta and eastern India, city doctors have started the process of infusing a person with her own marrow to treat her for multiple myeloma, or bone marrow malignancy.

This is the first time that the patient’s own marrow (autologous BMT) will be used for such treatment in the region. In August this year, a 41-year-old businessman from Rampurhat, Birbhum, was the first to undergo BMT in the east.

But, in that case, bone marrow donated by his sister (allogeneic BMT) was used to cure the patient of aplastic anaemia, a condition in which the bone marrow stops producing cells. The complex procedure was carried out successfully at Kothari Medical Centre.

The same team of doctors, led by haemato-oncologists Asish Mukherjee and Sharmila Chandra, is carrying out another marrow transplant. But unlike the businessman, this patient, a 51-year-old housewife from Tollygunge, will be given her own marrow, which was harvested through a sophisticated machine called a cell separator.

The process was completed over a four-day period (about four hours each day), ending on Friday. On each day, about 16 litres of blood was withdrawn, circulated through the separator, which took out the “primitive” or mother bone marrow stem cells, and transfused back into her bloodstream.

“Four days of this process yielded 300 ml of bone marrow, which will be stored in a special cryopreservative at -70°C,” said Mukherjee. In this case, this was the target required to be collected.

“The quantity of bone marrow to be transfused varies from patient to patient, depending on each one’s condition,” he explained. After a gap of about two weeks, this marrow will be transplanted intravenously, keeping the patient in a highly-sterlised, zero-bacteria room, where she may have to stay for up to 45 days.

“This confinement is necessary, as the patient’s white blood cell count will be very low because of the chemotherapy that needs to be administered to her,” the doctors added. “She will be prone to all sorts of infection, even from the minutest of germs.”

But the entire procedure is not easy. Multiple myeloma is a malignant disease of the bone marrow, usually with symptoms of tiredness due to anaemia, and severe bone pain. There may be swellings of the limbs as well.

It occurs usually after a person has crossed 50. “It is not advisable to go in for allogeneic BMT as the chances of rejection are high, which is why autologous transplant is preferred.”

Till a few years ago, treatment was through chemotherapy and some amount of radiotherapy. “This helps the patient for about three or four years, after which there is a relapse,” Chandra pointed out.

But now, with the help of marrow transplants, chemotherapy has been supplemented to allow the patient near-normal life for up to 12 years, after which another bone marrow transplant may be required.

The procedure, at Rs 4 lakh, is costly. But the chances of a better quality of life for patients with such a disease increase enormously. Nearly one per cent of all cancers in India are of this type.    


 
 
CHAMBAL’S TERROR TURNS MESSENGER OF PEACE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
A daku to a rajyogi. The transformation is incredible but true.

Pancham Singh, the dreaded dacoit of the Chambals during the 60s and 70s, is now on a peace mission, visiting jails in different states, trying to reform inmates. The dacoit, wanted in more than 150 murder and over 250 robbery cases, is in town to spread the message of non-violence.

Pancham’s formative years were peaceful enough. Born into a farmer’s family in a Madhya Pradesh village, he studied till Class IV and was married off at the age of seven.

“I used to lead a gang of 500 dacoits. Before embarking on a raid, I chanted the gayatri mantra 2,000 times and invoked Goddess Durga. One day in 1970, when the goddess didn’t appear before us in spite of hours of puja, I went deep into the forest to pray alone. But this didn’t help either.” In a fit of rage, Pancham smashed the idol into pieces.

“I was totally frustrated, until a man in white dhoti appeared before me and advised me not to be impatient,” recalled Pancham.

The man told him: “Child, have patience, your wish will be granted. Some devi will come to show you the way.”

On April 14, 1972, Pancham surrendered in front of Indira Gandhi and Jai Prakash Narayan.

He was sentenced to death after trial, which was later commuted to life imprisonment. The dreaded dacoit was sent to Mungavali jail, where he met members of the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya.

Pancham said: “One day at an exhibition conducted by the sisters of the organisation, I saw the same man in white dhoti, who had told me to be patient. I asked the sisters who he was and they said he was Prajapita Brahma. The sisters worked hard to try and reform dacoits by teaching them rajyoga. Brahma Kumari Bimalaben showed me the way of life with the blessings of Parampita Paramatma through his medium, Prajapita Brahma”.

Pancham continued his rajyoga classes inside jail. Observing the spiritual change and his behavioural transformation, the jail authorities released him in 1980. He received 6.5 bighas of land, on which he started a nursery.

“There are about 150 jails in our country and I have already visited some. I plan to visit the jails in West Bengal and preach the message of peace to the inmates with a view to transforming their minds.”    


 
 
AUTO CRASHES INTO TRUCK, FOUR KILLED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
Two men and two women were killed and six people were injured when an auto-rickshaw, in which they were riding, collided with a speeding truck on Jessore Road at Bongaon, in North 24-Parganas, early on Friday.

Three of the victims were identified as Renuka Mondal, 52, Sunil Biswas, 32, and Bidhan Roy, 19. The fourth, a 40-year-old woman, is yet to be identified.

Four among the injured were admitted to Barasat Hospital, while two others had to be shifted to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital in a serious condition.

Police impounded the killer vehicle but the driver managed to flee. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem.

Officials said the incident took place near Gopalnagar More around 3.45 am. The victims, identified as flower-sellers, were on their way to Chandpara market.

Rash driving, coupled with bad road conditions, might have led to the accident, the police said. Besides, the auto-rickshaw was loaded beyond capacity. Under the impact of the collision, it fell into a roadside ditch.

Residents from nearby areas rushed to the spot and sent word to the police station. Officials from Gaighata police station then joined the locals in the rescue operation.

All the victims succumbed to their injuries on their way to a nearby health centre. The injured were rushed to the district hospital.

Policeman injured

A.K.Sanyal, an assistant sub-inspector of Ultadanga police station, was injured at Dakshindari on Thursday night when a group of residents attacked him.

The incident occurred when policemen were patrolling the area to keep a vigil on bursting of banned fireworks.

When the team arrested two offenders, the residents arrived to snatch the youth from custody and forced the police team to leave the spot. Later, a large contingent raided the area again and nabbed the duo.

Youth drowned

A 20-year-old youth was drowned in the Hooghly on Thursday. The victim was identified as Sujit Chowdhury. Police said the incident took place when Sujit, a resident of the Kareya area, came to Fairlie Ghat to take a dip in the Ganga on Chhat Puja.    

 
 
PORT TRUST ASKED TO CLEAR DUES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.3: 
The Calcutta Municipal Coporation has launched a drive against major tax defaulters, including Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) and some prominent city hotels.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Friday that the drive was aimed at realising outstanding property tax, amounting to more than Rs 100 crore. “We will be able to meet the budget deficit to some extent if we can realise dues,” Mukherjee said, adding that 60 per cent of the amount was left unrealised over the years.

Mukherjee said the CMC might offer some relief to domestic tax-payers if defaulters were made to pay up. While the dues from the big hotels amount to Rs 10 crore, multi-storeyed buildings, too, evaded taxes worth around Rs 40 crore.

The CPT’s outstandings run up to more than Rs 30 crore. Notices have been served on the CPT, asking it to pay up without delay, Mukherjee said. CMC tax department officials will approach the hotels and buildings before sending out notices, he added.

“A ward-wise list of defaulters is being prepared. We will first issue notices asking them to clear the dues within a deadline. If they fail, punitive action will be taken,” the mayor said. During the drive, the Corporation had disconnected the water and sewer connections of a highrise at 113, Park Street in October.    


 
 
IMPHAL CURFEW FANS PUBLIC RAGE OVER FIRING 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Nov. 3: 
Tension today mounted in the Manipur capital of Imphal and its adjoining areas as the government clamped a curfew to prevent the people from taking to the streets in protest against the killing of 10 villagers by Assam Rifles personnel yesterday.

Unaware of the fact that a curfew had been clamped, residents of several localities in greater Imphal ventured out of their houses in the morning, only to be beaten up by policemen.

The situation, which was “tense but under control” before the curfew was clamped, took a turn for the worse as the day progressed. Apparently angry with the government for imposing a curfew, a group of locals torched two government buildings at Sawombung in Imphal East district. Sources said the office of the forest range officer was gutted, while the office of the subdivisional officer was partly destroyed. A team of policemen rushed to the area, but could not arrest the arsonists.

Despite the two incidents, the Imphal East and Imphal West district magistrates relaxed the curfew for four hours from 5 pm. Official sources said the curfew was, however, unlikely to be lifted till the situation returned to normal.

At Malom village, where yesterday’s firing took place, the scene was even more grim.

Assam Rifles personnel, who continued combing operations in the area till this morning, allegedly beat up over 50 people since last night. Villagers at Malom Makha Leikai told a group of reporters that the security personnel assaulted male members of every family in the village with rifle butts and boots. Eight women who tried to prevent the jawans from beating up their husbands and sons were also assaulted, they said.

At least 40 of the injured were admitted to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences and the J.N. Hospital here. Twenty-nine of the them were discharged from the two hospitals by noon today. Villagers said Assam Rifles personnel raided Malom three times today and summoned the secretaries of three local clubs, the village headman and meira paibi (women activists) leaders to the headquarters of the 8 Battalion at Imphal airport. The villagers said Assam Rifles officials threatened the village leaders with dire consequences if another blast took place in their area.

The Committee on Human Rights has accused the Assam Rifles of blatant violation of basic human rights and urged the people not to take things lying down.

BJP leader and former chief minister R.K. Dorendra Singh has also condemned the series of incidents since yesterday and demanded chief minister W. Nipamacha Singh’s resignation on moral grounds.

Manipur People’s Party president O. Joy Singh termed the firing on civilians a “cowardly act” and said the government had clamped a curfew in greater Imphal to “cover up the Assam Rifles’ crime”.

A three-vehicle convoy of the 8 Assam Rifles was heading towards Nambol from the battalion headquarters at Imphal airport yesterday when militants triggered an improvised explosive device on the Tiddim highway, 12 km south of this capital town.

Assam Rifles officials claimed two jawans sustained minor injuries in the attack, which took place at 3.30 pm. The blast prompted the Assam Rifles personnel in the convoy to open fire in all directions despite the presence of civilians in the vicinity.

Ten people were killed in the firing, eight of them at a nearby bus-stop and two on a bridge leading to Malom village. Several other residents of the area sustained serious injuries.

Most of the victims, including a woman, were hit on the head, sources said.

NSCN rejoinder: The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has denied reports that the outfit has a “hit list”. The outfit said reports about such a list were created by “problem-makers”. The denial came after newspapers carried stories on four Naga leaders figuring on the NSCN (I-M) hit list. NSCN(IM) leader S. Varah, said the four Naga leaders should not be perturbed by such “false” reports.

The outfit said it was not surprised by such “calculating moves”.    


 
 
TRIPURA REBELS BUCKLE UNDER TRIBAL RESISTANCE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Nov. 3: 
The state’s tribal community is headed for a virtual civil war over the issue of militancy and interference in the religious faith and tradition of Hindus by banned insurgent outfits.

Responding to the call for active resistance by their hoda okra (head priest and community leader), the martial Jamatya tribals have declared war against militants of the National Liberation Front of Tripura in the interior areas of the state. The Jamatyas are handing over militants to security forces or making them lay down arms to the Jamatya hoda (community council).

During the past four days as many as 17 NLFT rebels, mostly belonging to the Jamatya tribal group, have either been handed over to the police or surrendered to the hoda.

In several cases, Jamatya tribals have guided security forces to the hideouts of militants, leading to their arrests.

Police sources said in two successful operations yesterday, two hardcore NLFT militants, Kunja Kumar Murasingh and Utirai Koloi, were arrested from remote tribal villages under Melaghar police station of West Tripura and Birganj police station of South Tripura districts. Sources said the prize catches were made only after authentic information was given to the police by local tribals.

Regarding the active resistance put up by Jamatya tribals against the NLFT, sources said the tribals, responding to the call of hoda okra Bikram Bahadur Jamatya, had forced 17 NLFT rebels and their collaborators to surrender. All the arrests were made in the Tainani, south Maharani and Killa areas. The Jamatyas have threatened the militants and their families with dire consequences unless they mended their ways.

Bikram Bahadur Jamatya has been relentlessly fighting the NLFT’s oppression of Hindu tribals and interference with their religious faith and tradition.

What has peeved the Hindu tribals and Bikram Bahadur Jamatya is the conversion drive at gunpoint undertaken by the militants, who have been forcing tribals to embrace Christianity.

A number of Hindu tribal religious leaders have also been killed by the NLFT after they refused to convert to Christianity.

Sources said the stand taken by the Jamatya community and their hoda would put the NLFT in serious trouble. However, Bikram Bahadur Jamatya has been sharply criticised by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura members of the autonomous district council as they owe allegiance to the NLFT.

Children drowned

Two schoolchildren were drowned in the Bansadhara river near Gunupur in Rayagada district last evening, reports our Berhampur correspondent.

Police said two students of the Gunupur government high school, L. Manikant and L. Sandeep, had gone to the river for a swim in the evening but got drowned. Fire brigade personnel recovered the bodies after nearly two hours of search. The students were studying in class X and scheduled to appear for their secondary board exam next year.    

 

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