Youth kills father, stepmother
Autonomy push to university exam system
Buddha balm for bereaved
Wanted: Old facade for delayed facelift
Armed gang burgles businessman’s house
Poll clash closes college
Chronicler of songs rooted to radio, tuned in to T
Five jawans killed in Manipur ambush
Orissa Opp. flays Centre over drought
Militancy hits Tripura project

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
Early on Monday morning, a 19-year-old fell to the bullets of a gang of dacoits, trying to protect his parents. Late on Monday night, a 19-year-old shot and hacked his father and stepmother to death over a property dispute.

Sheikh Azizul of Sodepur murdered Haji Rahim Bux, 55, and Kohinoor Bibi, 37. He first shot them with a revolver, then slit his stepmother’s throat and slashed his father’s face and body with a bhojali.

Preliminary police investigation revealed that Rahim had refused to bequeath his property to Azizul. Accusing his father and stepmother of denying him his “right”, Azizul went on the rampage late on Monday.

Seven-year-old step-brother Munna and five-year-old step-sister Rokeya named Azizul as the murderer of their parents. The killer was, apparently, accompanied by three others.

Kuldeep Singh, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, said: “The children, who have been sent to a relative’s house, are now under police protection. They witnessed the entire episode and named Azizul as the murderer.” No arrests had been carried out till late on Tuesday night, though raids were being carried out.

Around 8 pm on Monday, Azizul, who had moved out of his father’s two-storeyed house and was living in a nearby slum, came home with three friends. They were armed with two revolvers and two bhojalis.

“Dada (Azizul) told my mother to make tea for his friends. Papa was not at home... He had gone to the nearby mosque for namaaz. Dada played with me and Rokeya. Papa returned home around 9.15 pm,” said Munna.

The discussion about property turned into an altercation. Investigating officials said Rahim, known to be short-tempered, cut Azizul short, stormed out of the room and headed for the cowshed in the courtyard. Azizul and his three friends followed him there.

“Papa went out to feed the cattle... Suddenly, I heard a loud bang and then Papa screaming,” recalled Munna. “Mummy, who was preparing dinner, ran downstairs. My sister and I followed her. On the staircase, I saw Dada shoot Mummy. As she fell, Dada and his friends attacked her... I was shouting ‘please don’t kill my mother, please leave her’...”

Azizul and his friends left the house,with Rahim and Kohinoor dead, and the two witnesses paralysed with fear. “Some time after Dada left, I ran to the cowshed and found Papa lying in a pool of blood. I shook him, but he did not respond. I then ran to Mummy. She, too, was silent,” said Munna, tears rolling down his face.

Alerted by the cries of the two kids, neighbours rushed in. They informed Ghola police station. The bodies were sent to a nearby hospital for post-mortem.

The neighbours questioned by the police had the same thing to say: “After being denied the family property, Azizul murdered his father and stepmother.”

Israel Ghani, an uncle of Munna and Rokeya, said trouble between father and son was brewing ever since Rahim married Kohinoor. Azizul’s mother, Asura Bibi, had died 10 years ago.

“Soon after Rahim’s second marriage, Azizul started demanding his share of property. Things took a turn for the worse when Rahim bequeathed 14 cottahs of land to his second wife,” said Ghani.

Azizul then stepped up the demand for the remaining 60 cottahs. When his father refused, he left the house and took up a rented place, while working as a construction labourer. The teenager would often come home and invariably end up quarrelling with his father over property matters.

All that came to a gory end on Monday night.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
With students taking to the streets protesting the delay in publication of B.A. and B.Sc. Part-I results, the state government has decided to push for “decentralisation” of the existing examination system.

The proposed move, being viewed as the first step towards ‘autonomy’ for a few institutes, is aimed at reducing the pressure on Calcutta University, to which nearly 200 colleges are affiliated.

The results of this year’s Part-I exams, held in May, are yet to be declared. Students gathered outside the university on Tuesday morning protesting the delay. They shouted slogans and held up traffic.

A high-power panel has been set up by the state Higher Education Council to examine the proposals. The committee will first meet on November 27. the talks will be attended by higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty, education department sources said.

The proposals to make the system more efficient include:

Reduce pressure on the examination department by asking all affiliated colleges to correct and monitor their own ‘pass’ paper answer scripts

At present, answer scripts of all pass and honours papers are corrected and managed by the university’s examination department.

Divide the B.A. and B.Sc. examinations into three parts. This is the Jadavpur University model of conducting exams at the end of every year

At present, the under-graduate exams are divided into Part-I (at the end of the second year), and Part-II (at the end of the third).

lMake it compulsory for college teachers to correct answer scripts.

At present, many teachers ‘opt out’, putting the examiners under enormous pressure

lRevise the examiners’ list. At present, the outdated examiners’ list contains names of many teachers who have retired, while leaving out all who have joined recently.

Education department sources said the state is moving towards “decentralisation” to tackle the problem of non-availability of examiners that delays the publication of results. This year, 80,000 students appeared for the B.A. and B.Sc Part-I examinations. The department had to organise examiners for eight-lakh answer scripts. Each examiner is given a maximum of 500 scripts.

“The Council will submit a report to the government as soon as the special committee completes discussions with the university,” said Pratip Choudhury, member secretary of the council. He added that the council was also considering a proposal to introduce similar reforms in the exam system at other universities like Kalyani, Burdwan and North Bengal.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday visited the two Kasba households in Uttar Purbachal where criminals went on a looting spree and killed a student in the early hours of Monday.

Bhattacharjee arrived at the locality at 7 pm and went directly to Shyamal Kanti Ghosh’s house. Sitting in the drawing room, he consoled Jonaki Ghosh, the grieving mother of young Kaustuv, who had been killed by the criminals.

“I don’t feel like staying here any longer. We want to sell off the house. Please help us get a flat in a decent locality,’’ Jonaki Ghosh pleaded with the chief minister, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Peeved at the total inaction of neighbours and the police, the Ghosh family kept on telling the chief minister that it was “jungle raj” in the locality.

Bhattacharjee directed his officers to beef up security for the family and restore the telephone lines.

“I will also help you get a flat in a decent locality, but first, you discuss the matter with your husband,’’ he said.

Jonaki Ghosh, who fell unconscious on Monday night when her son’s body was brought for cremation, simply nodded, still in a daze.

Earlier in the morning, cornered by an agitated mob in Kasba, state director-general of police Deepak Sanyal admitted that the South 24-Parganas police have been a complete failure in controlling crime in the area.

“I am disappointed that the police haven’t been able to arrest the real culprits,” said Sanyal, advocating a tough stand against criminals.

“In Nadia, the police were able to win the confidence of the people after eight criminals were shot dead in an encounter. The police should always try and corner the criminals, and if they attack, we should be prepared to retaliate,’’ he added.

“We were helpless. I saw Buro (Kaustuv) dying in front of me. Which parents can bear to watch their children being killed in front of them? It’s nothing but the law of the jungle,” the distraught mother wept.

Kaustuv’s father, Shyamal Kanti, was still unconscious. “His blood pressure has shot up and the doctor put him on sedatives,” a relative told Sanyal.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
The heritage committee of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is looking for an old photograph or construction plan of the 160-year-old Currency Building to restore it properly. Chief municipal architect and town planner Saroj Mohan Ghosh said the demolition contractor engaged by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) had wreaked havoc with this stately edifice, not even sparing its massive central dome.

Though the CMC intervened before the building could be razed totally, its conservation was delayed for a considerable period of time because of a legal battle and the CPWD’s unwillingness, said a civic official.

After procrastinating for over three years, the CPWD has finally agreed to engage a consultant to restore the building. The restoration work will be carried out under the guidance of the Indian National Trust for Architectural and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). “Restoration work will start soon as we have reached an out-of-court settlement with the demolition contractor,” a CPWD engineer said.

Both Governor Viren Shah and Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha have recently expressed “deep concern” over the building’s condition and have called for “immediate intervention.” Hence, the CPWD’s sudden sympathy for the building.

The CMC has raised serious doubts over the building’s security, and civic officers are in touch with the police after learning that the security agency engaged by the demolition contractor is allegedly involved in smuggling out valuable Italian marble slabs and Burma teak from the premises. “According to an estimate by engineers of the municipal architect and town planners department, material worth more than Rs 2 crore has been sold secretly at the Currency Building site,” said a CMC official.

The Currency Building was the first Reserve Bank in the country. Notes would be printed there. Three years ago, CPWD had launched a drive to construct a multi-storeyed office complex in its place. Recently, CMC helped CPWD officers establish contact with Dulal Mukherjee & Associates, currently engaged in the restoration of another heritage structure, Metropolitan Building in Esplanade.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
In a daring incident of armed crime at Liluah, Bajranglal Sharma, a Burrabazar businessman, was robbed and his family injured by a gang of six that raided his residence early on Tuesday. Sharma lodged an FIR with Liluah police station on Tuesday morning.

The dacoits assaulted Sharma and escaped with Rs 1.3 lakh in cash and about 250 g of gold. No one was arrested or detained for interrogation till the evening.

The police feel the operation had been planned days before the crime. “It’s amazing. The dacoits seemed to know every nook and corner of the house!” exclaimed an officer of Liluah police station.

The Sharmas live in a sprawling two-storey bungalow on Netaji Subhas Road, near Liluah railway station. The businessman’s wife, daughter and three-year-old grand-daughter were present during the burglary.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the dacoits scaled the 10-ft wall to enter the compound of the bungalow. Then, they carefully cut open the iron grill-gate at the rear of the house. Once inside, they raided the refrigerator and ate whatever food was stored. Then, they prised opened Sharma’s bedroom door with a dagger, beat him up and even threatened to molest his daughter if he didn’t hand over the keys.

“I was more anxious about my daughter than my money,” Sharma said. Two of the dacoits scooped up the ornaments, while the others held the family at gunpoint. The six walked away with the booty without any resistance.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
Classes at Ashutosh College, in Hazra, were suspended on Tuesday after clashes between rival groups of students over elections to the students’ union on Monday night. A police picket was posted on the premises throughout the day to prevent any fresh flare-up.

College principal Amritava Banerjee was gheraoed till late in the night on Monday after the clashes. He was freed only after the police intervened.

Supporters of the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad observed a “black day” against the alleged irregularities in the students’ union elections of the college, slated for November 29.

Tuesday was declared a holiday also as a mark of respect to a former member of the college’s governing body, Arun Prokash Chatterjee, who had died last week, Banerjee said.

Trouble erupted on Monday evening soon after the college authorities cancelled the nomination of a Trinamul Chhatra Parishad candidate, who had lodged a complaint alleging that though he was reluctant to file his papers, his party activists had forced him to.

The situation worsened an hour later, when nominations of 14 more Trinamul Chhatra Parishad candidates were cancelled on grounds of failure to produce other essential papers, such as identity cards.

Following the announcement, the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad challenged the authorities’ decision, saying the move was “pre-planned” and aimed at helping the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) to win uncontested in 15 out of a total 22 seats. They demanded an inquiry into “these corrupt practices”.

Trinamul Chhatra Parishad activists also threatened to go on an indefinite hungerstrike if the authorities failed to start the process of elections afresh. “We were shocked to find so many of our nominations full of errors, while those of the SFI were perfect,” said Trinamul Chhatra Parishad leader Debashis Gayen.

However, Banerjee said the situation was under control and the college will reopen on Wednesday. But fearing further trouble, the college has requested the police to keep a vigil on the campus. The SFI, on the other hand, criticised the vandalism by Trinamul Chhatra Parishad supporters.

Monday was the last date of submitting forms for the poll.    

Calcutta, Nov.21: 
Kalyan Chatterjee rushes for his diary and a pen every time he hears a Tagore song on the radio. The 64-year-old from Barasat has been doing this for the past 30 years. His hobby: to chronicle Rabindrasangeet played by Akashvani.

“I have been listening to Rabindrasangeet for a long, long time. But I used to feel embarrassed when during a conversation on a favourite singer, I could not remember which song of his or hers was broadcast that morning. So I started scribbling them down. It soon became a habit, and then an obsession,” says Chatterjee, who retired from the state registrar of assurances office six years ago.

His diaries, numbering over 40 now, meticulously table the programme, the time of broadcast, the singer and the song played. He also keeps photocopies of radio programmes published in newspapers.

It was an early tryst with Tagore songs for Chatterjee. In his youth, he experienced life in Santiniketan, thanks to his maternal uncle’s house in Bolpur. “He was the librarian of Visva-Bharati. When I would visit him, I used to spend the day roaming around, watching Abanindranath Tagore moving around in a wheelchair, Santideb Ghosh taking dance classes, Sailajaranjan Majumdar singing with an esraj... I even saw C.F. Andrews. Sometimes I posed as a student and partook of the milk and rosogolla tiffin in class,” he recounts.

His job in the government department, quite fittingly, dealt with documentation. And in the course of his work, he met quite a few artistes. “Once, Rahul Dev Burman came to register the sale of a house in south Calcutta. He was surprised to find a music aficionado in ‘so unlikely a place’. I asked him to name the first song his father, the great Sachinkarta, had recorded. He was stumped. So, I gave him the answer,” smiles Chatterjee.

But how did he manage to record the songs during office hours? “Well, I carried a pocket transistor to work,” admits Chatterjee bashfully. “If others could listen to cricket commentary throughout the day, why couldn’t I catch a few songs for an hour or so? It never disturbed work in the office,” he argues.

There is, however, a gap in his recordings. For 11 years, Chatterjee missed the noon session of Tagore songs. “That was when I was transferred to the registration department, which involved constant public interaction. So, I just could not switch on the radio,” he regrets.

But they just don’t play them like they used to, any more, complains Chatterjee. “Very little thought goes into the programmes these days. This monsoon, for instance, only four songs of Barsha were played. Songs are frequently repeated, and live programmes have been done away with. Also, interruptions occur in almost every other programme.”

The ‘historian’, however, allows no interruption in his mission. The energy is starting to flag, but not the enthusiasm. On bad days, when his hand trembles a bit, 21-year-old daughter Tanushree is around to jot it all down.

Age is beginning to catch up. For the past two years, Chatterjee has failed to attend Tagore’s birth anniversary celebrations at Jorasanko, which he had never missed since 1958. But as long as he has his HMV box-gramophone, small Murphy radio and Kobigurur gaan for company, Chatterjee is on song.    

Imphal, Nov. 21: 
Five Army jawans were killed and three seriously injured in an ambush at Matukhong village, 12 km east of Jiribam subdivision, bordering Assam, this afternoon.

Heavily-armed militants opened fire at a Army foot patrol near Matukhong killing three jawans and injuring five. The injured were rushed to the Leimakhong military hospital near here by an Army chopper. Two jawans later died in the hospital. Additional forces have been rushed to the area for combing operations. Many residents of Matukhong and Jiribam subdivision have left their houses fearing Army backlash. Army sources here said they suspected the involvement of either the United National Liberation Front or the People’s Liberation Army in the attack.

Fasting women evicted

The three Manipuri women who are on a fast-unto-death in protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act were today virtually evicted from the Sajiwa jail here.

Irom Sharmila (28), H. Pakpi (41) and Y. Memcha (44) were allegedly forced to sign bail applications and set free.

The police initially took Sharmila to her house, but her family members refused to “accept” her in the condition she was in. They subsequently escorted her to the PDA shopping complex at Porompat and left her there.

With Sharmila refusing to break her fast despite her condition worsening, she was admitted to the nearby J.N. Hospital late tonight. The Manipuri woman was earlier admitted to the same hospital when her condition deteriorated during her stay in Sajiwa jail. Sharmila began her fast on November 5, three days after 10 civilians were killed in allegedly indiscriminate firing by Assam Rifles at Malom village.

Inspired by her, Pakpi and Memcha also began a fast-unto-death on Friday. All three were taken into custody when they refused to end the hungerstrike.

As soon as Pakpi and Memcha were set free at Keishampat this morning, hordes of meira paibis (women activists) thronged the area to express solidarity with the duo.    

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: 
Opposition parties in Orissa have accused the Centre of being “miserly” in releasing funds for rehabilitation of drought-hit people in the state.

Political leaders who attended an all-party meeting here yesterday said the Centre should release Rs 450 crore for drought relief and launch employment-generation schemes like the “food-for-work” programme.

Both the Naveen Patnaik government and the Centre have failed to bring about any improvement in the situation in western Orissa, they said.

However, revenue minister Biswabhusan Harichandan denied that the Centre was apathetic towards Orissa.

He said the Centre had already released 29,230 tonnes of rice and 7,310 tonnes of wheat for distribution among people in the drought-ravaged areas. “The state government is also doing its bit to help the people.

“It has decided to stop collecting money from farmers who have taken cooperative loans. Apart from this, it has decided to provide old-age pension to one lakh people in western Orissa,” he added.

Harichandan said the government was aware of largescale migration of people from the drought-hit areas to neighbouring states.

He claimed they were leaving their villages not because of the drought, but to earn more wages.

The Opposition had earlier adopted a resolution condemning the Centre’s failure to tackle the crisis in the state. Janata Dal (Secular) leader Ashok Das alleged that the all-party meeting had been convened before the winter session of the Assembly merely to stave off criticism.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who presided over the meeting, said he would visit New Delhi soon to seek more funds for drought relief.

Patnaik said the state government was doing everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the drought victims in western Orissa.    

Agartala, Nov. 21: 
With the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura militants stepping up their extortion drive, the much-touted Longai Valley Project and the jhumia resettlement programme is heading for a major disaster in the state.

Sources said the tribal farmers, mostly resettled jhumias, are finding it difficult to cope with the increasing extortion drives by NLFT marauders. Though the project at Khedacherra along the Tripura-Mizoram border is considered a showpiece of the ruling Left Front, the understaffed Damcherra police station fails to provide regular security, the sources added.

Official sources said the project was launched in 1995 on the fertile banks of the river Longai to resettle tribal shifting cultivators. Spread over 270 hectares of land, the project encompasses four villages — Khedacherra, Koroimura, Monacherra and Damcherra — under Damcherra block. Of 1,205 tribal families, 905 were under the resettlement programme. Under the supervision of G.R. Chatterjee, deputy director of North Tripura district rural development agency, the 905 families were completely resettled under the composite project by May 1998.

Once the families prospered, the NLFT rebels started demanding money from the settlers by assessing their properties, homestead and even plants owned by them, sources said. Official sources said Chatterjee was the militants’ prime target as he would have brought a good ransom. However, the resettled tribal farmers and other beneficiaries of the project thwarted all attempts by the rebels to abduct him.

Rebel killed

A hardcore Ulfa militant was killed in an encounter with security forces, while three activists of the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam laid down arms in Sivasagar district over the past 24 hours, reports our Jorhat correspondent. The slain rebel was a member of the outfit’s Rongpur unit.    


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