Oath of office & grand farewell
Bedlam over building, 20 injured
Beltala slams brakes on tout raj
Bagchi murder suspect’s brother arrested
Mayor framing code for councillors
Loan row sparks multiple murders in family
Rs 1.75 crore okayed for Salt Lake stadium
Army runs into rights fire
Tripura police refurbish image

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
A final coat of paint for Raj Bhavan’s banquet hall, giant screens being put up around the city, officials scurrying around with last-minute preparations. All this, with hours to go for a swearing-in ceremony that will see a new West Bengal chief minister after 23 years.

Buddhadev Bhattacharya will be sworn in as chief minister at the banquet hall of Raj Bhavan at 4.30 pm on Monday. Governor Viren J. Shah will arrive in the morning from Darjeeling to administer the oath of office. Chief secretary Manish Gupta will conduct the programme.

Jyoti Basu will be present as a ‘special guest’. “I shall be there to witness the greatest event of my life. This time, I will not be taking oath but be witness to a ceremony where all my Cabinet colleagues will be sworn in afresh, with Buddha (Bhattacharya) as chief minister,” said Basu.

Bhattacharya’s family members, including mother Liladevi, wife Meera and daughter Suchetana, will also be present.

At the Raj Bhavan banquet hall, an elevated 15-ft-by-12-ft wooden dais has been constructed to accommodate Shah, Bhattacharya and Basu. Chief secretary Gupta visited the venue twice on Sunday to oversee the arrangements and information department officials conducted a ‘rehearsal’ of Monday’s programme.

Tarapada Ghosh, director of information, said chairs were being arranged on both sides of the dais to accommodate the 43 ministers who will take the oath after Bhattacharya is sworn-in.

All members of the Basu Cabinet will resign before they are sworn in for a period of six months. But there will be no reshuffle of portfolios. Co-operation minister Bhakti Bhusan Mondal, in SSKM Hospital with malaria, will be brought to Raj Bhavan in an ambulance.

Four Central ministers from Bengal — Mamata Banerjee, Ajit Panja, Tapan Sikdar and Satyabrata Mukherjee — have been invited. But Trinamul leader Pankaj Banerjee said they will boycott the programme “to protest CPM misrule in Bengal”.

Around 400 guests are expected to fill up the sprawling banquet hall, which has got new curtains and furniture and six chandeliers.

The guest list includes, among others, Mrinal Sen, Sourav and Dona Ganguly, Suchitra Mitra, Aparna Sen, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Buddhadev Guha, Amala Shankar, Chintamoni Kar, Pabitra Sarkar, Ajoy Chakraborty, Bivash Chakraborty, Shankho Ghosh, R.P. Goenka, B.M. Khaitan, Shishir Bajoria and Harsh Neotia. There will be some guests’ of the Governor as well.

Roadshow to remember

Will the farewell overshadow the welcome? On Monday, even as Buddhadev Bhattacharya takes the oath, the spotlight will, well and truly, be on outgoing chief minister Jyoti Basu.

The city is gearing to give Basu a grand send-off on his last ‘official’ drive from Indira Bhavan to Raj Bhavan on Monday afternoon. The man behind what promises to be a road show to remember: Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. Organised by Pather Panchali, an organisation headed by Ramala Chakraborty, the minister’s wife, the farewell programme will see thousands lining the convoy route.

The 12-km stretch of the E.M. Bypass, Theatre Road, Chowringhee and Red Road will be full of flowers, banners, festoons and flags. People from all walks of life will be present, carrying posters and portraits of Basu. Women will blow conch shells and children will shower petals as his convoy passes. Chakraborty had earlier asked Basu to travel in an open jeep but the proposal was turned down by the police. The move to roll down the windows of his bullet-proof car has also been stalled. Over a thousand policemen will ensure smooth passage.

After the swearing in, the Left Front will felicitate the longest-serving chief minister of India at Netaji Indoor Stadium. The programme will be telecast live and giant screens are being put up at Tollygunge Phari, Gariahat, 8B bus stand at Jadavpur, Park Circus, Sealdah, intersection of M.G. Road and Strand Road, Hedua, Shyambazar, Ultadanga station and Sinthi More.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
Over 20 people, including the Trinamul Congress councillor of ward 34, Ajoy Sanyal, and several women and children were injured on Sunday in a clash with CPM workers over the construction of a building at Beleghata.

Jawans of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed in the area, where tension prevailed. Traffic was suspended in the area for over an hour from 11.30 am, when CPM workers put up a road block to protest against an alleged attack on them by Trinamul workers.

Trinamul workers staged a dharna, demanding immediate arrest of the “attackers.” Both the Trinamul and the CPM feared fresh attacks at night.

State environment minister and local MLA Manab Mukherjee (MLA), who visited the area after the incident, held the local Trinamul Congress councillor responsible for the violence.

He met the officer-in-charge and the deputy commissioner of police (eastern suburban division), Mihir Bhattacharya, at the police station.

Trouble erupted in the morning when Ajoy Sanyal met Kajal Saha, who was reconstructing his house on Beleghata Main Road, and asked him to stop work as, according to him, Saha had not secured the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s (CMC) permission.

Sanyal said: “Saha had permission only to repair the house. But flouting that order, he was carrying out new construction.

“Some CPM workers assaulted me and my companions while I was returning from Saha’s residence,” Sanyal alleged.

Sanyal then went to Beleghata police station to lodge a complaint but OC Krishnananda Sarkar refused to do accept the complaint. Later, however, he obliged.

Sanyal said while he was returning home, he found RAF jawans beating local people. A number of innocent people were injured.

Piyali Chakroborty, an eight-year-old girl, said an RAF jawan beat her up for nothing. Subal Misra, a Trinamul worker, who was bleeding, said RAF jawans had beaten him up, along with other activists.

However, local CPM workers, including Kajal Saha, denied all the allegations.

Saha said the CMC had declared the house unsafe in 1996. After obtaining permission, for the past 10 days he had been repairing it. On Sunday, about 20 men, led by the local councillor, allegedly attacked him and his men as he refused to pay Ajoy Sanyal hush money. Saha alleged that Sanyal’s men beat up local people, some of whom were admitted to hospital in a critical condition.”

Jharna Paul, Saha’s neighbour, said the attackers damaged her house. When she protested they assaulted her and her son.

Debabrata Roy, a local CPM worker, alleged that Trinamul workers ransacked the place where a Nagarik convention was being held.

The OC said none of the men involved in the clash were armed and bombs were not exploded. No one was arrested either.

Later, deputy commissioner (headquarters) Narayan Ghosh said about 10 persons were injured but nobody was in a serious condition.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
Think about Beltala ‘motor vehicles’, and you think wheels within wheels within wheels.

Concerned over the tout raj in the public vehicles department at Beltala, the state government has drawn up a 10-point programme to cleanse the system. This involves a ‘ban’ on brokers in and around the Beltala office. Vehicle-owners have been asked to approach officials directly. The plan provides for computerisation of licence, permits, collection of taxes and registration of vehicles.

A complete reshuffle of the present administration is also on the cards. Employees who have been working for five years or more in a section will be shifted out and those working for more than 10 years in the department will be transferred to another department. “This will be done to break the unholy nexus existing at Beltala,” said a transport department official.

The system of vehicles inspection will be strengthened by increasing manpower. A special team comprising officials from transport, environment and police departments will be formed to crack down on polluting vehicles. Fitness tests will be carried out on the outskirts of the city. For this, a large plot of land has been identified near the airport.

The state transport department had pulled up director T.V. Venkataraman last month and directed him to initiate a move to restore ‘order’. Venkataraman submitted a proposal to the transport department, stating: “Our infrastructure is inadequate to deal with about 500,000 vehicles plying in the city. We need to refurbish the entire department to restore work discipline and check corruption.’’

The director added: “We shall take all steps to stop corruption at the PVD. Our aim is to provide better and prompt services to the vehicle-owners, so that they need not go to any broker. The new programme will give a facelift to the department.’’

At a high-level meeting with senior officers, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty finalised the clean-up programme.

The reform programme had run into trouble when Chakraborty had clashed with his deputy, Sushanta Ghosh, over the issue.

Ghosh, convinced that the first step to combat corruption at Beltala was to get rid of the director, had, without informing the minister, “released” Venkataraman and asked the home (personnel and administrative reforms) department to depute another official.

A furious Chakraborty took the matter to chief minister Jyoti Basu. The tug-of-war ended with Basu backing Chakraborty and asking him to go ahead with the plan that had been drawn up by the director and the department. Chakraborty then recalled the file, cancelled the release order of Venkatraman and asked him to lead the crusade against corruption at Beltala.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
In a pre-dawn swoop on Sunday, Kasba police arrested Bhulu, brother of Laloo Das, currently in jail on charges of killing CPM leader Gurupada Bagchi.

According to the police, Bhulu had threatened to murder Vinod Sardar , a middle-aged trader who had witnessed the gruesome killing at the Kasba fish market on the morning of January 23. Sardar started receiving threats ever since he consented to testify in court.

Sardar, who lives in Swinhoe Lane with his family, was among the few present on the spot when Bagchi was shot.

He has already given a written statement to the police, identifying the criminals and the reasons behind the killing.

After the murder, the ruling CPM had accused senior police officers of being hand-in-glove with local anti-socials.

A mob of party cadre ransacked Kasba police station and injured a number of policemen, protesting the murder.

Kasba police said they have already chargesheeted Das for the murder.

According to a close relative of Sardar, Bhulu and Kalu — both anti-socials — along with five other local thugs, had intercepted the trader a few days ago near his house. “They tried to kill him with sharp weapons. He saw the attackers in the nick of time and screamed for help, alerting passers-by. Sensing trouble, the criminals escaped,’’ the relative added.

Sardar lodged a complaint with the police that day and left home to stay elsewhere. Investigators said the trader holds the key to the prosecution of Laloo and other criminals in court.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
A seven-member team from a para adventure club, North Calcutta Disha, has set an Indian record (to be incorporated in the 2001 edition of the Limca Book of Records) by completing a motorcycle expedition from the city to the North Face base camp of Mt Everest in China at 17,600 ft, covering a distance of 2,926 km.

Pouring in their savings and with some help from the West Bengal Sports Council, Rajesh Sarkar, Santanu Roychowdhury, Subhro Sengupta, Subrata Boral, Indradeb Chatterjee, Mohammed Sanaullah (Tunu) and team leader Gautam Dutta zip, zap, zoomed off from Dum Dum at 8 am on September 12.

Leafing through the diary capturing 17 days of the road-to-Everest drama:

September 12, Day 1: Smooth ride to Massanjore, our first stop.

September 13, Day 2: A clear day dawns. We set off early to reach Barauni by evening. Night halt.

September 14, Day 3: Target: Birgunj on Indo-Nepal border. No sweat! Even the formalities at the border check-post get over in a jiffy.

September 15, Day 4: We are in Nepal, whizzing down fantastic metalled roads through the towering Terai when the rains lash us. We’ve had rains on and off in the afternoons, but this will take some beating. Dripping wet, we enter a sleeping Kathmandu at 10.30 pm (local time). Check into hotel at Thamel.

September 16, Day 5 to September 19, Day 8: Cool our heels in the Nepalese capital. Schedule goes haywire as we have to stay on for two extra days trying to wade through red tape — Customs clearance, a thumbs up from the Indian Embassy and a green signal after huge landslides on the Sino-Nepal border.

The wait for the paperwork turns boring as Gautamda warns us not to move around town on our bikes after we almost get booked for violating a no-entry zone.

September 20, Day 9: We hit the road again — the Friendship Highway — while it’s still dark. We aim to cover 113 km to Kodari on the border and then travel another nine km to Jhangmu, the first Chinese town. Dhulikhel in the early morning light is a feast for the eyes with the mist lifting slowly from the valley.

We stop at Jalbire police check-post for breakfast at a dhaba. It’s surprisingly deserted. “Saab, aapko army socha hai,” the dhaba-owner explains. The uniform mackintoshes (canary yellow and red) have scared them off.

The Bhotkoshi river joins the road and snakes along it till the border. We stop to refuel at a petrol dump in Barabishe, 20 km from the border. The Friendship Highway turns unfriendly — stones packed in mud is all that’s left of the road. We’re approaching The Landslides.

Our first glimpse of a mist-covered Jhangmu. About two km from the border, a long queue of vehicles signals that the biggest landslide lies ahead. Traffic has been at a standstill for a week. More than 200 vehicles stranded, among them a British team on a world tour. We push our bikes through a risky, muddy stretch to reach the check-post.

Right ahead is Friendship Bridge spanning the Bhotkoshi. Two Chinese security officers remind us to shift from the left to the right of the road as soon as we enter the Chinese half of the bridge. Clearing Customs is smooth, but the next nine km to Jhangmu is most definitely not.

It takes us five hours to cover perhaps the trickiest stretch we’ve ever encountered. There’s no road to speak of. Recurrent landslides have taken their toll, and the mountain streams are flowing along what once, surely, was the road. At certain points, our bikes are ferried across by Tibetan porters.

Bad news awaits us in town. The Chinese liaison officer and the truck carrying our supplies, including 300 litres of petrol, from Lhasa have not arrived. Two days of unscheduled stop.

September 23, Day 12: Our Chinaman, Top Den, reaches at 12.30 pm, forcing us to set our day’s destination at Nyalom, only 35 km away. The air’s getting thinner as we leave the treeline behind. The wind-swept barren expanse is at once breathtaking and imposing. The mood turns grim as Tunu shows the first symptoms of altitude sickness. He’s gasping, making it difficult for him to even ride pillion. We check into a hotel at 7.30 pm. Drying our shoes and socks in the sub-zero temperatures has been more than a bit of a bother, but the boys are by now experts in using hotel lamps to good use!

September 24, Day 13 : Our first view of a snow-covered peak — Mt Xisha Pangma (26, 940 ft) — lifts our spirits. Team decides on a big push to make up for lost time. Today’s target: Xigar (14,200 ft), 222 km away. We race through cold desert with striking white peaks for company.

Where’s our Holy Grail? The answer’s blowing in the spine-chilling, minus 16 degree Celsius wind. Tingri, on a sun-soaked afternoon... suddenly, Gautamda screeches to a halt on a curve. We all follow his gaze, and there looms what we’ve driven miles and miles to see — sparkling and pristine white, with wisps of mist rising from its slopes in the afternoon heat. Time stands still at 2 pm as Gautamda gives an impassioned speech on the “monarch among mountains”.

After a brief halt, of moments made eternal, we press on. But shortly before Tingri, where we stop for lunch, Tunu collapses. The high-altitude pulmonary oedema, or HAPO, is taking its toll, and we decide on an acclimatisation halt at Xigar. After the indifferent roads from Nyalom, we hit a beautiful metalled stretch before Xigar check-post. I let my Samurai rip, and the machine touches 100 kmph! It’s heady stuff, though the ice-cold wind pierces through the felt-lined jackets and chills me to the bone.

My Samurai is purring smoothly, but we aren’t too happy with the Yamahas. They’re showing signs of electrical faults, and with Tunu in bad shape, we’re perilously close to the panic button.

At Xigar, we pay through our noses — 500 yuan per person per day — to find accommodation. As Tunu’s condition worsens, he starts hallucinating. Gautamda plays Florence Nightingale.

September 26, Day 15: After a day at Xigar, Tunu’s back on his feet. We’re off. Destination: Base camp, 112 km away. We retrace our treads for a few km and then turn off Friendship Highway into the Chomolungma National Nature Preserve. The Tashi Dong village deep into the core area, with its primitive people, makes us feel as if we’ve travelled back in time to Genghiz Khan’s Mongolia!

We wade through the Rangbook river several times as it crisscrosses the core area. We’re soon at Tungla Pass (16,500 ft), which affords a glorious view of the Everest and its companion peaks — Makalu, Lhotse and Choyou.

Luckily, the dreaded Rangbook river near the monastery is not in spate. We halt at the gumpha to gape at the Everest — a splendid view framed by two slopes — while the monks gawk at the bikes. They’ve never seen such a contraption before!

Day-stop at the base camp, where we are greeted by a Lithuanian and a Korean team.

September 27, Day 16: We leave our bikes with our new-found friends and hike to the advanced base camp at 17,800 ft. Night in tents.

September 28, Day 17: A climb up to the Rangbook Glacier. It’s here that it hits us — the realisation that it’s all over. End of the road. Time to head back home...    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Sunday that he will seek help from Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim to frame a code of conduct for “the better management” of the civic House.

Leader of the Opposition Kanti Ganguly will be on the panel. “In the absence of any code, the chairman is helpless if a member behaves improperly in the House,” Mukherjee said.

“What steps can the chairman take against a councillor if he attends the House in shorts and singlet and smokes in his chair?” he asked. Mukherjee also stressed on the need for introducing a specific procedure for introducing the questions, points of order and tabling of a motion on the floor.

Cellphone ban

However, before framing the code of conduct, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation has decided to impose a ban on cellular phones in the House when the civic council is in session from November 1.

Civic body chief whip Aparna Neogy of the Trinamul Congress has already discussed the matter with chairman Anil Mukherjee and the mayor.

Mukherjee said he will soon issue an order to the 140 councillors to switch off their cellphones while attending a civic council session. Appreciating the move, Kanti Ganguly said: “I must admit this is the right step. It is a nuisance when the phones ring while the House is in session.”

“More than 90 per cent of party councillors have cellphones and the shrill sound of the phones make it difficult for the chairman to conduct the proceedings of the House,” Neogy said.

Attendance in the House, too, has thinned these days. Often 10 to 12 members walk out of the House in quick succession to attend their calls and converse for about 15 minutes or more.

Last week, many councillors were found loitering in the balcony, talking on cellphones, while the House was in session, officials said. A councillor’s cellphone rang while he was addressing the House.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
Three members of a family were hacked to death on Saturday night at Haturia, in Bagnan, 40 km from Howrah city.

A few hours later, the prime suspectwas found in a pool of blood. A fourth family member is battling for his life in hospital.

The bodies of Pannalal Dolui (60), wife Bharati (51) and sister-in-law Tarabala (34) were found in the courtyard of their house in Haturia with their throats slit.

Neighbours took Jaharlal Dolui, Pannalal’s brother, to National Medical College and Hospital. He was barely able to breathe and is in a serious condition.

The prime suspect, Hemanta Dolui, a kin of Pannalal who lived one house away, was also found with his throat slit a few yards away from the other bodies.

According to neighbours, Pannalal used to drink at home with Hemanta every alternate night. Hemanta, who was neck deep in debt, needed money urgently for an appendicitis operation.

“The doctor advised my husband to undergo an operation as soon as possible, but my husband neglected the pain for months until it became unbearable,”lamented Debjani Dolui, Hemanta’s wife.

Pannalal’s son Amar, who was surprisingly cool after the deaths of his parents, said Hemanta had demanded Rs 10,000 on Saturday night for his operation, which Pannalal refused. “He (Hemanta) started abusing my father and said he would not let him rest until he had extracted the money.” Amar said his father, who owned an X-ray clinic in Amta, had borrowed Rs 2,000 from Hemanta a few months ago.

“I was sleeping in my room when I heard my uncle (Jaharlal) screaming. I jumped out of my bed and saw Hemanta dragging my mother down the staircase,” Amar recalled.

He rushed out to join his uncle, who was in a scuffle with Hemanta. “Before I could intervene, my family was killed,” he said. Amar’s left hand was bandaged. He was injured by Hemanta during the scuffle.

In a striking twist to the tale, police found Hemanta’s body, with the throat slit, barely a couple of yards away from the Dolui residence. The police are baffled over the motive for the multiple murders. They, however, seemed ruled out a political motive behind the murders, though Pannalal was a local panchayat member.

“Why should so many people be killed for Rs 10,000?” wondered Surajit Kar Purakayastha, superintendent of police, Howrah. “I will seek the help of forensic experts and sniffer dogs for the case,” he added. One person has been detained for interrogation.    

Calcutta, Nov. 5: 
The government is said to have given administrative approval to an amount of Rs 1.75 crore for the facelift of Yuba Bharati Krirangan, ahead of the showpiece Millennium Cup international soccer meet in January 2001.

All India Football Federation president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who spoke to state finance minister Asim Dasgupta on Saturday evening, was conveyed the news of the sanction. Das Munshi, who met state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty on Sunday, apprised him of the finance department’s clearance.

The Hooghly River Bridge Commission, assigned to carry out the improvement project, had initially given an estimate of Rs 2.15 crore for the 70-point improvement programme submitted by the stadium authorities to the finance department. No major renovation work has been taken up at the gigantic stadium in the past 15 years.

“We might have to drop a few items for the time being or modify the improvement programme to some extent, considering the revised budget,” said stadium CEO Saumitra Ray. Work will begin by November 15 and is expected to be completed by December 31.

Priority will be given to selective weeding of the ground, modification of the players’ changing rooms and the VIP and VVIP blocks, construction of a modern press box and servicing and modification of the existing floodlights.

The fence between the ground and the stands will be reconstructed at a cost of Rs 8 lakh and six new commentary boxes built at the five-metre level. Among other modifications, TV camera positions will be modified to accommodate up to 15 different channels and electrically-operated sprinklers installed for watering the ground.    

Imphal, Nov. 5: 
The Assam Rifles today faced a barrage of criticism for washing its hands of the killing of 10 people at Malom Makha Leikai near Imphal airport on Thursday.

The Army’s Eastern Command yesterday said the civilians were killed by “unidentified militants” who tried to ambush an Assam Rifles convoy on the Tiddim highway, 12 km south of this capital town.

It said the rebels opened fire after “unsuccessfully” trying to blow up the last of three vehicles in an Assam Rifles convoy heading towards Nambol from the 8 Battalion headquarters at Imphal airport.

“Seven to eight persons waiting at a nearby bus-stop were killed in the firing, while three of the militants were killed when the Assam Rifles personnel returned the fire,” it added.

However, lawyer and human rights activist Khaidem Mani today said there could not have been any militant among the victims. “Since the state government has announced ex gratia for the next of kin of all 10 victims, none of them could have been a militant,” he argued.

Mani said the truth could be arrived at only through a judicial probe by a High Court judge. “A magisterial inquiry into such an incident will not suffice,” he said.

The human rights activist said the Malom incident was an example of “gross misuse” of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by the Assam Rifles. “The legislation does not empower the armed forces to kill civilians. The Assam Rifles personnel involved in the firing at Malom can be punished under the Army Act of 1950,” he added. Convenor of the Committee on Human Rights, L. Pardesi, echoed Mani’s views. “The Army’s claim that three of the victims are militants is a blatant lie. We have confirmed that all of those killed were civilians,” he said.

Former chief minister Rishang Keishing took up from where the human rights activist left off, saying the government needlessly panicked after the incident at Malom village. The proscribed Revolutionary People’s Front, too, condemned the killing of 10 civilians “in cold blood”.

BJP leader and former chief minister R.K. Dorendra Singh left for New Delhi today to apprise the Union home minister of the situation in Manipur.

He is also expected to meet defence minister George Fernandes.

Statewide bandh: Six organisations, including the All-Manipur Students’ Union, have called a 17-hour Manipur bandh from midnight tomorrow in protest against excesses by security personnel.

In a joint statement today, the six organisations demanded a judicial inquiry into the Malom incident.    

Agartala, Nov. 5: 
Gone are the days when arrested militants bragged how they made policemen posted in far-flung areas sing bhajans within the confines of their “not-so-safe” outposts.

Even 20 years ago, a police constable posted in South Tripura’s Raisyabari police station admitted to paying Rs 500 to the NLFT.

“But the officer-in-charge of the police station has to pay much more. He donates Rs 3,000 a year,’’ said the constable with candour.

But policemen stopped paying “tax” to militants since last year and tough officers like Debjan Chakma, Sadhanmoni Chakma, Ratan Mazumder, Manoranjan Debbarma and Jiten Debbarma ensured that militants paid a heavy price for their depredations.

It has taken just two months to bring about the transformation but the new director- general of police (DGP) Bhusan Lal Vora, the key figure behind the “metamorphosis” of Tripura’s much-maligned police force refuses to claim credit for it.“Our officers and jawans are working very hard,’’ said Vora, adding that the state government was extending full co-operation. He said a large cache of arms like SLRs and AK-series rifles as well as night vision devices have been procured and vehicles requisitioned for the force in the rebel-infested interior areas.

Vora has also started “refresher courses” for policemen, including arms training. Three firing ranges will be set up shortly with the help of Madhya Pradesh police. “We are now procuring authentic intelligence from people at the grassroots level and it is helping us a lot. It also proves that people have regained confidence in the police.’’ However, shortage of manpower is proving to be a major hindrance for the force and Vora has already apprised the chief minister of the need for more people.

“The state government is also facing resource constraint and the chief minister has assured me that he will look into the matter. We have already received more than Rs 5 crore from the Union home ministry for modernisation,” Vora added. Citing an instance of manpower shortage, he said the Kailasahar police station in North Tripura had a sanctioned strength of 15 constables as per rules framed in 1971. “But in view of the sharp rise in population and insurgency, the outpost requires at least 100 personnel,” he said.

The DGP said since he took over three months ago, new police stations have been set up in Champahaor, Kachucherra and Khedacherra in West and North districts while another one has been set up in south Ananda Nagar area in Sadar subdivision.

Interaction between policemen in remote areas and senior officials has also increased and incentives have boosted the morale of the force.

Besides, the system of awarding cash rewards and the director-general’s commendation disk as well as out-of-turn promotions to successful officers have also worked wonders.

Having worked as an inspector-general (Punjab police) under supercop K.P.S. Gill, Vora attaches “utmost importance to the human factor” and spares no effort to enthuse officers and jawans. He has already taken an initiative to launch a joint offensive against militants with Mizoram and Karimganj police.    


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