Police claim breakthrough with 2 arrests
Days of dread, endless nights without sleep
Sub-broker held for scrip scam
Healthcare strike call over assault
Do things a little different and you can win
Rogue cop report sets off reshuffle signals
Warships in amity float
Sell-out option for canal settlers
‘Only lunatics will invest here’
Rampage forces Utkal varsity closure

 
 
POLICE CLAIM BREAKTHROUGH WITH 2 ARRESTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
The first major breakthrough was made in the Kasba dacoity with the arrest on Thursday of a criminal in the Baguiati area of North 24-Parganas. A 38-year-old dacoit, Shambhu Mondal, was caught early on Thursday. Another criminal, Ansar Ali Bhutto, was arrested in Baguiati. Bhutto was involved in several cases, including murder, for which he was booked by the detective department.

Mondal was arrested in an autorickshaw by policemen pretending to be passengers. A six-chamber revolver was seized from him. Kalyan Mukherjee, sub-divisional officer of Barasat police, said: “With Mondal’s arrest, we have come to know about the modus operandi of gangsters of the rural areas of South 24-Parganas who have been committing dacoities in Calcutta.”

Mukherjee said Mondal might have detailed information on the gangsters who committed a dacoity in Kasba and killed a 19-year-old youth early on Monday. Mondal had committed a number of crimes in the rural areas of South 24-Parganas.

“Mondal, known as the Terror of Bhangore, once used to lead seven gangs at a time along with henchmen identified as Kashem, Siddique and Islam. We suspect he knows the whereabouts of the gang which committed the Kasba dacoities,” Mukherjee said.

Now, police are trying to figure out exactly how the “ruburb” (a hybrid of rural and suburb) dacoits commit a crime in and around Calcutta. “We are interrogating Mondal round-the-clock after getting a special order from the CID and the DG’s office. He has revealed important facts about their style of operation. We hope it will help us track down the Kasba culprits,” added Mukherjee.

According to officers investigating the case, police teams arrested 32 criminals in several areas of South and North 24-Parganas on Wednesday night. The police raided a mud hut in Joynagar to arrest Halim Sheikh, Samsul and Nurfat. Crime records reveal that they are henchmen of Chhota Selim, who has been charged with committing the Regent Park dacoity and murder, and is now in jail.    


 
 
DAYS OF DREAD, ENDLESS NIGHTS WITHOUT SLEEP 
 
 
BY PRONAB MONDAL
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
Fear descends with dusk over Uttar Purbachal.

Late on Wednesday evening, local youth spotted three strangers walking down the deserted road leading to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. Suspecting the worst, they started shouting. A few other local residents also raised an alarm.

Their cries alerted policemen near the Palli Unnayan Club. The cops rushed to the spot and accosted the three youth. It turned out that they were just relatives of a resident of the area and were returning to their Bansdroni home after a social call.

That’s life on the edge in the Kasba area some 72 hours after two houses were looted and a teenager was shot dead by a gang of dacoits.

Despite chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s now-famous assurance of “I am with you”, there was very little to show by way of police presence in the locality on Wednesday night.

A police vehicle was stationed at the intersection of the Bypass and Uttar Purbachal Road at around 8.30 pm. But by 10 pm, it was gone. The vehicle returned at 11.30 pm, hung around for half-an-hour and then rattled off again.

“We are living in constant fear. What’s the point of putting up several barricades along the Bypass and not patrolling the dark lanes of these residential areas?’’ demanded Subrata Santra.

Akshay Deb, the bank manager whose house the dacoits had smashed their way into around 2.30 am on Monday, and his family are struggling to put the nightmare behind him.

“I cannot sleep properly. When the clock strikes two, I wake up just to make sure that the children are safe,” says wife Bhaswati.

“My 10-year-old daughter Anindita asks me before going to bed: ‘Ma, will the police be here throughout the night?” says Shrabani Banerjee, next-door neighbour of the Ghoshs, where the goons killed 19-year-old Kaustuv. Shrabani witnessed the murder through her window.

So, are people thinking of moving out the area? “Where will we go? Fleeing is not the solution. Resistance is the only answer,” feels Tanmoy Dasgupta.    


 
 
SUB-BROKER HELD FOR SCRIP SCAM 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
In a mid-afternoon swoop at the stock market, the detective department of the city police arrested Sanjoy Bansal, 35, a sub-broker, on Thursday. He stands accused of fraudulently transferring shares worth Rs 50 lakh in the name of his wife, Anju More.

The chief metropolitan magistrate of Calcutta remanded Bansal in police custody till November 29. The courtroom was packed with many who had entrusted the sub-broker with their savings.

According to detective chief Banibrata Basu, the shares had been handed over to Bansal by one P.C. Golecha in October this year. Preliminary investigations revealed that some of the shares belonged to prominent bureaucrats, including IAS and IPS officers, with whom Golecha had “close contacts”.

Detectives refused to disclose the names of the “high-profile clients” as it would impede investigations. They admitted that a “number of telephone calls”, with requests to go easy on Bansal, came through from “influential quarters” as news of the arrest spread.

Basu said Bansal had the reputation of a “cheat” in the stock market and had been arrested earlier this year on similar charges. “We are looking up the records to find out details of the case in which he had been arrested,’’ he added.

Bansal was, apparently, introduced to the stock market by one S.K Khetry a couple of years ago. Since then, it has been a steady rise for the “suave, smooth-talking” Bansal. From an absolute nobody in the “share bazaar”, he grew big in next-to-no-time. “He was well-connected and was often seen with influential bureaucrats and power brokers,” sleuths said.

Bansal, operating from 15 offices in the city, had managed to link up with some “insiders” at Lyons Range, the city’s stock market, too. “He speculated on share prices and often hit the bull’s eye, attracting attention and clients,’’ detectives said.

But Bansal had been fraudulently transferring money and shares in his wife’s name for quite some time. Earlier this year, he was caught when he tried to play the trick on a resident of New Alipore.

Sleuths suspect that Bansal has defrauded several people of around Rs 1 crore. A few have registered complaints with the police, while most have preferred to remain silent. Basu has, however, assured investors that the shares they had handed over to Bansal will be “protected”.

Shot dead: A 25-year-old youth was shot from point-blank range and then hacked by unknown assailants on his way home to Sodepur, in North 24-Parganas, late on Wednesday night. The victim was identified as Narayan Shil. A search yielded two revolvers from his body. Police said gang rivalry might have led the murder.    


 
 
HEALTHCARE STRIKE CALL OVER ASSAULT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
All medical personnel and establishments in the New Alipore, Behala, Thakurpukur and Maheshtala areas will observe a day’s cease-work on Friday. The cease-work, called by the Behala branch of the Indian Medical Association, is in protest against the assault on Sanjib De Sagar, a physician. Dr De Sarkar, who lives on James Long Sarani in Behala, was attacked on Tuesday following the death of a 19-year-old boy, Kausik Dutta.

Private clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres, polyclinics and allied medical houses and organisations will all remain closed. About 250 doctors and more than 100 medicine shop-owners will join the agitation. Emergency services will be spared, though.

Kausik was a rheumatic heart disease patient being treated by Dr De Sagar. For the past six months, he had been running a mild temperature and was referred to a specialist, Dr Siben Dutta, during the second week of October. He was admitted to Behala Balananda Hospital under the treatment of Dr C.C. Kar. After being treated for 20 days, Kausik was shifted to B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre as his condition took a turn for the worse. The boy was put on ventilator on admission and remained on life-support till he died on November 21.

According to Dr Sankar Banerjee, secretary of IMA’s Behala branch, they received anonymous calls threatening Dr De Sagar with “dire consequences”. On Tuesday, a mob ransacked his house and manhandled him, blaming him for Kausik’s death.

Condemning the attack, the IMA secretary said that the hospital administration gave the physician a clean chit. But Dr De Sagar was still living in fear on Thursday: “Since Tuesday’s attack, I can’t sleep in peace, as they have threatened to come back,” he said.

About Friday’s strike, Dr Banerjee said: “We may keep some drugstores open. The final decision will be taken by the Bengal Chemists’ and Druggists’ Association.”    


 
 
DO THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENT AND YOU CAN WIN 
 
 
BY MADHUMITA BHATTACHARYYA
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
For Shiv Khera, attitude is everything. And if the success of his You Can Win is not proof enough that everyone who’s anyone is jumping onto the bandwagon, just ask the delegates at his three-day workshop in a city hotel.

Entitled Blueprint for Success, everyone from Customs officials to academicians to marketing executives seem to be getting into the ‘attitude’ act. “He is an evangelist, he recalibrates one’s mind,” according to Harish Bijoor, vice-president, marketing, Tata Coffee Ltd.

Khera, founder of Qualified Learning Systems Inc. USA, and consultant to Lufthansa, Johnson & Johnson and ANZ Grindlays, makes it a point to invite government organisations to nominate delegates to attend his workshop waiving the Rs-23, 500 fee.

No one from the “business before all else” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government turned up for the Calcutta seminar organised by Round Table 34 Calcutta, the proceeds of which will go towards the reconstruction of a school in Bakul Bagan.

But two senior Customs officials, nominated by the department, were there to take the first steps towards “mastering positive thinking”. M.K. Sil of the Indian Revenue Service and P.K. Ghosh, superintendent of the Customs and Central Excise, participants both, feel that it is a “positive change” to “strive to be on the same platform as corporates”. Ghosh, linked to the personnel training wing, believes that “there has been a change in focus in the functioning of government departments”. According to Sil, a trainer at the National Academy of Customs Excise and Narcotics, the government is now “projecting a policy of change management”. They hope to integrate some of Khera’s ‘modern’ methods into their own training programmes.

Good news for Shiv ‘winners don’t do different things, they do things Differently’ Khera. For born in Bihar, educated in Delhi and currently settled in Singapore, he is an angry man today, convinced that “the whole nation has an attitude problem”. Anger has its virtues, feels the writer who’s wrapping up You Can Lead and There’s No Free Lunch, for “nothing ever changes until one person gets angry enough to do something about it... If you aren’t part of the solution, you are the problem”.

It’s a desire to be part of the solution, rather than the problem, that drew around 50 participants to the Khera show. As Prof. Dilip Shah of Bhowanipore Education Society put it: “A workshop like this helps us address and imbibe essential tools of human resources management.”

Khera has conducted his motivation workshop for IAS officers in Mussourie and IPS officers in Uttar Pradesh. And next Monday, he will be in Dimapur for a three-day workshop with the “chief minister of Nagaland, and 100 bureaucrats”.    


 
 
ROGUE COP REPORT SETS OFF RESHUFFLE SIGNALS 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
The ripples of the recent string of dacoities have reached Writers’ Buildings. The government on Thursday initiated action on the basis of a just-prepared report on policemen suspected to be hand-in-glove with criminals. A reshuffle in the police ranks is also on the cards.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held a meeting with Gautam Chakraborty, DIG (Presidency range) and other senior officers on how to contain tainted lawmen, home department sources said.

According to the sources, work on the report on rogue officers began on Tuesday after Bhattacharjee read the riot act, following the gruesome dacoities in Uttar Purbachal in Kasba.

Apparently, Bhattacharjee insisted on the exhaustive report after information reached him through official as well as party channels that many policemen, some of them holding key positions in east and south Calcutta, had underworld links. Residents of Kasba, Jadavpur, Behala and Thakurpukur have complained to the chief minister to this effect.

The report on tainted officers, which is “not final”, names policemen attached in various capacities to Bishnupur, Sonarpur, Purba Jadavpur, Kasba, Behala and Thakurpukur police stations. Statistics show a high crime rate in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of these police stations.

Quoting the report, a home department source said there is documented proof of how a senior officer of Bishnupur police station is helping Munsef Mollah, a local crime lord of South 24-Parganas. Mollah is wanted in several cases of murder, extortion and dacoity, lodged against him at Bishnupur and Thakurpukur police stations.

The report has levelled similiar charges against a deputy superintendent of police, six inspectors and a dozen sub-inspectors. It also names their criminal links and furnishes, in most cases, documented proof.

Bhattacharjee, who also holds the police portfolio, indicated that the government might soon order a reshuffle in the police ranks.

“We are thinking of changes in the lower level to tone up the working of the force,” he said at Writers’ Buildings. He is believed to be planning changes in Jadavpur, Kasba, Tiljala, Regent Park, Topsia and Bhangar police stations, as also streamline the intelligence wing.

The chief minister pulled up senior officers at a high-level meeting at Writers’ on Wednesday. Director-general of police Deepak Sanyal, reportedly, bore the brunt of his ire. When officers complained about lack of proper infrastructure, Bhattacharjee promised to provide them the necessary equipment, but sought results. He has reportedly set a fortnight’s deadline for arresting the Kasba criminals.    


 
 
WARSHIPS IN AMITY FLOAT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
Come February next year and a motley flotilla of at least 26 warships from 22 countries will drop anchor off the Gateway of India, Mumbai, in a celebration of peace and cooperation.

“For the first time in its history, the navy has invited warships from friendly maritime nations around the world to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR), to be held in Mumbai from February 15 to 19, 2001,” Commodore Arvind Bali of the Western Naval Command told reporters in Calcutta on Thursday.

The objective of the grand exercise is to “enhance military-to-military exchanges with friendly navies and to foster a spirit of friendship and co-operation,” said Commodore R.K. Das, naval officer-in-charge, West Bengal. ‘Bridges of Friendship’ has been chosen the theme of the IFR.

The showpiece of the IFR is the ceremonial review of the assembled fleet by President K.R. Narayanan. It is a custom for the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to review the fleet once in his tenure. So far, 14 countries have confirmed sending their naval chiefs and delegates to the event. More than 3,000 foreign guests are expected.    


 
 
SELL-OUT OPTION FOR CANAL SETTLERS 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
The state government has placed an alternative proposal before the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the rehabilitation of settlers along Tolly’s Nullah. The ADB, which is funding a Rs 1,600-crore project for renovating the canals and the sewerage and drainage network of Calcutta, had earmarked Rs 35 crore for rehabilitating the evicted people within two km of their original houses.

However, former chief minister Jyoti Basu had said, during his tenure, that development work in the state would be affected if illegal settlers were rehabilitated. On Basu’s instructions, state urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya had consulted mayor Subrata Mukherjee while chalking out the strategy on rehabilitation.

Bhattacharya said on Thursday: “After their recent visit to the city, the ADB officials were convinced with the new plan, which will be soon announced.” The ADB is scheduled to ratify the project at its Manila headquarters meeting on December 7.

The government has identified 3,500 families along the canal and given them identity cards, urban development department sources said. “These people will be given a sum and asked to move out,” an official said. Bhattacharya hinted that there were some “legal settlers” who would be compensated.

The first phase of work includes facilitating the construction of the Metro Railway extension from Tollygunge to Garia. Work will soon begin on a six-km stretch.    


 
 
‘ONLY LUNATICS WILL INVEST HERE’ 
 
 
BY DEVADEEP PUROHIT
 
Calcutta, Nov.23: 
Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter & Gamble and author of the best-selling India Unbound, lived up to his reputation of “saying it as I see it” on his two-day visit to Calcutta. “No investor in his good senses will ever dare to set up shop in West Bengal as those who have tried have burnt their fingers. You will have to be a lunatic to invest here.” He added: “I feel sorry for the mothers of Bengal, as their children will have to migrate out of the state in search of better opportunities.”

The ex-student of Harvard Business School had an explanation ready to support his hypothesis. “Investors have had enough of state government-backed hostile trade unionism. Besides, the negative role played by the CPM in the Centre by obstructing reforms has reduced its credibility and distanced it from the investors,” explained Das, before adding with a smile, “The exercise of portraying an investor-friendly image of West Bengal is like painting stripes on an elephant.”

Das, who read from his book and then indulged in a lively Q&A at Landmark on Thursday evening, plans to catch up with “old friends” like Viren J. Shah and Amiya Bagchi, and then address students at IIM, Joka.

In his book, Das recounts the country’s economic and social transformation, post-Independence. The corporate hotshot-turned-commentator of the Indian economy traces the failure to hit a higher growth path to “faulty planning” in the early days after Independence. “Nehru’s idea of socialism led to statism and in the name of the commanding heights of the public sector, the government ventured into basic areas like bakeries and hotels. The creation of the public sector units and the neglect of private entrepreneurial initiatives have proved disastrous,” declares Das.

But the “social democrat” doesn’t rule out the role of government completely. “The government should play the role of facilitator and primarily be concerned with proper governance to enforce property rights and engage itself in areas like education, health care etc.”

The man who has seen it all in the spheres of business and economics feels “the reform process which started in the 90s is the best thing to have happened to the economy in the last five decade and if reforms are carried forward, India has the potential to emerge as a global player”.

As far as Bengal goes, Das prescribes “some visible initiatives” from the government resulting in concrete results to change the perception regarding the state.

“But it will take some time and till that time, the prosperity of the state will depend on remittances,” he said.

And he’s not too sure that the Marxists giving way to Mamata will sort out the mess the state is in. “Mamata Banerjee can be welcomed to power just for the sake of change. But she will also find it difficult to reverse the fortune, given her overemphasis on populist agenda.”    


 
 
RAMPAGE FORCES UTKAL VARSITY CLOSURE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 23: 
The Orissa government today closed Utkal University sine die following yesterday’s violence which left at least half-a-dozen vehicles gutted. The decision was taken after a meeting of the university vice-chancellor and government officials.

The students of the university went on the rampage after a final year MCA student was run over by a speeding truck near the university square. Another student was injured in the accident.

Hundreds of students torched trucks, buses and several vehicles, including the vice-chancellor’s car, demanding compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the victim. The students also did not spare mediamen. Soon after the closure order, police evicted the students from all the five hostels in the university.

The government also deployed 21 platoons of police force around the university area to restore peace. One section of armed police force has been deployed around the residence of vice-chancellor G. Das. State home secretary T.K. Mishra said the government would provide a job to the next of kin of the victim. It would also bear the cost of treatment of a student who was injured in yesterday’s accident.

Bhubaneswar superintendent of police and the vice-chairman of Bhubaneswar Development Authority today held a meeting to improve the traffic signalling system in the city.

The government has also asked for more funds from the Centre for developing the traffic system in the capital, the home secretary said. The students had demanded construction of a flyover near the university square.

The students have threatened to launch an agitation if the government did not award compensation to the family of the deceased. Workers clash: The differences among the Biju Janata Dal leaders in the Ganjam district came to the fore as supporters clashed at the district party meeting organised at village Golla near Buguda yesterday, adds our Berhampur correspondent. The meeting was disrupted for several hours due to clashes between the factions state finance minister Ramkrushna Patnaik and Ganjam district BJD president Madhabananda Behera.    

 

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