Police hunt for dacoits in city satellites
Kasba on high alert as rumours trigger panic
Tailor held on child assault charge
Student dies in road accident
Youth shot dead by road Romeos near Entally
Bandh call against relief denial
Manipur crisis compounds
Tripura tea industry faces fiscal crisis
Dissidence surfaces in Orissa saffron ranks
Manipur set to host polo tournament

 
 
POLICE HUNT FOR DACOITS IN CITY SATELLITES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
After the twin dacoities in the Kasba-Purba Jadavpur area, about 15 criminals involved in a string of dacoities were arrested in the neighbouring districts of Howrah, Hooghly, North and South 24-Parganas.

The police have sounded an alert in these districts and intensified round-the-clock vigil. All police stations have been directed to check the records of the criminals.

Officials at Writers’ Buildings said director-general of police D.K. Sanyal has convened a meeting of police chiefs of all the four districts.

It is learnt that villagers in the districts are forming resistance groups to help the police foil dacoity attempts.

In Howrah, seven dacoits were arrested at Telkal ghat near Shibpur during a night-long raid on Friday. Explosives and ammunition were seized from them.

According to police, the armed gang had assembled at the ghat allegedly to plan dacoities at Manglahat, a bazaar held in Howrah Maidan every Tuesday. The police raided the area and found them drinking. They were arrested before they could escape.

A senior police officer claimed the men had confessed that they were planning to commit dacoities next Tuesday. “We have launched a massive hunt for other criminals on the basis of information provided by those being interrogated,” he added.

In Hooghly, three armed dacoits were arrested in Baidyabati railway station early on Saturday morning. The dacoits had allegedly gathered there to rob passengers of local trains of their belongings. But before they could get into action, they were arrested.

The police said initially, two dacoits from Konnanagar had assembled at the station and waited for the third to turn up. But the two were nabbed before the third arrived. Two revolvers were seized from them.

In North 24 Parganas, four dacoits were arrested in a slum near Sealdah station. Arms and ammunition were seized from them too. According to police, the dacoits were hiding in the slum after one of them received injuries when they made an attempt to commit a dacoity in a local train on Friday evening.

Police later said the arrested men were being interrogated. “We have information that other gang members are absconding and we will be able to nab them soon,” the police added.

In South 24-Parganas, seven teenaged criminals, including a student of a renowned educational institution at Sarisha, surrendered at the Diamond Harbour police station on Friday. The police said they were wanted in a number of murder and dacoity cases in the Diamond Harbour area.

Superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, held a meeting with senior officers on Saturday night to discuss further steps to prevent dacoities.    


 
 
KASBA ON HIGH ALERT AS RUMOURS TRIGGER PANIC 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
Rumours continued to fuel panic in Kasba for the fifth day after Monday’s twin dacoities. A phone call to an LPG godown in South Purbachal on Saturday, informing that a dacoity was taking place in the northern part of the area, sent alarm bells ringing shortly after midnight.

As soon as word spread, over a hundred youth rushed out of their homes with rods and sticks and gathered at the road crossing, on the lookout for dacoits.

As the search proved elusive, they, along with some policemen, surrounded North Purbachal, sealing all the exit points.

An hour later, after further verification with the police, residents realised that it was merely a baseless rumour doing the rounds. They dispersed into smaller groups and began their night vigil.

“We don’t trust the police any longer,” said Shankar Bhowmick, a resident of North Purbachal. “We have collected whatever weapons we could, like knives and iron rods, to protect ourselves.”

Ever since the twin dacoities, residents of Kasba-Purba Jadavpur have formed vigilance committees and have been patrolling the area through the night. Roadblocks have been set up with benches and all cars entering or leaving the area are being searched.

Said Bishwanath Sarkar: “Now, we are doing the work of the police. Had they been alert such crimes would not have taken place here.”

Residents of the area have called a meeting of all the 15 local clubs to work out security measures on a long-term basis. It has tentatively been decided that no matter what measures the police took, residents will continue their night patrols.

Residents have identified a number of houses under construction in the area where “outsiders” stay at night. “Some of them are criminals and we are sure that they have been involved in the dacoities,” Sarkar said. It has been decided that only the caretakers of these houses will be allowed to spend the night there while the others will have to leave.

The superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, A.K. Maliwal, agreed that the idea of a residents’ vigilance committee was “a good one.” “We shall accompany them while patrolling the area at night,” he said.

Officials of the Criminal Investigation Department visited the area during the day and met residents to discuss their problems.    


 
 
TAILOR HELD ON CHILD ASSAULT CHARGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
A six-year-old girl was allegedly raped on Friday night at Metiabruz. Gaffar, alias Bhulu, a 26-year-old tailor, was arrested after being named in the complaint lodged by the girl’s mother. He was produced before the court which remanded him in jail custody for 14 days.

The girl has been sent to MR Bangur Hospital for a medical test.

Preliminary investigation has confirmed that the girl was sexually abused. “The mother brought the child, who was bleeding, to the police station,” said a police officer, adding, “We are waiting for a detailed medical report.”

The incident occurred when the girl was returning home from a nearby shop on Friday evening. Gaffar, who was friendly with the girl’s family, called her to his tailoring shop and offered her sweets. Then he took her to a desolate place and assaulted her.

On returning home, the girl narrated the incident to her mother, who called the family doctor for a preliminary medical test. Later, she took her to the Metiabruz police station and lodged a complaint against Gaffar.

When the news spread in the area, local people raided Gaffar’s house and dragged him out. He was beaten up and handed over to the police. They also staged a demonstration in front of the Metiabruz police station, demanding punishment for the accused.

n Headless body: The police recovered the headless body of an eight-year-old boy from the Hooghly, near Chandpal Ghat, on Saturday. The medical report stated that the child had died 48 hours ago.    


 
 
STUDENT DIES IN ROAD ACCIDENT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
A 20-year-old student was killed and nine persons injured when a private bus overturned on Strand Road near Babughat on Saturday morning. The victim was identified as Bajrang Jaiswal, a second-year student of Bangabasi College.

The incident occurred around 8.30 am when a bus on route 12 was heading towards Metiabruz from Rajabazar. The injured were admitted to SSKM Hospital. The bus driver was arrested and the vehicle impounded.    


 
 
YOUTH SHOT DEAD BY ROAD ROMEOS NEAR ENTALLY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
Muhammad Majid had to pay the price for his act of valour. The 28-year-old, who, on Friday night, beat up some local boys for teasing girls, was shot dead from point-blank range in broad daylight in Suravardi Avenue near Lady Brabourne College on Saturday. The police said the killing is a sequel to Friday night’s altercation.

A murder case has been registered with the Beniapukur police station but no one was arrested till midnight.

Police said Majid, alias Chand, used to supply building materials to promoters and builders in the Entally-Park Circus area.

The incident occurred around 2 pm when Majid was talking to a friend, Mohammed Ansar, in the Park Circus area. Three youth arrived on a bike and came to a halt behind him. One of the pillion-riders took out a revolver and started firing at him.

Three bullets hit Majid on his back, while another bullet pierced his chest as he turned around to face his assailants. His friend raised an alarm but the assailants managed to speed off before local people reached the spot.

Majid, who lay in a pool of blood, was taken to hospital by Trinamul Congress leader Sultan Ahmed, the local MLA from Entally.

Ahmed said the deceased was one of his close associates. He threatened to gherao the Beniapukur police station if the killers were not arrested within 48 hours.

Deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Narayan Ghosh, said one of the assailants has been identified. “We will soon be able to arrest the killers,” he added.

n Rs 5.5 lakh snatched: Employees of a private company were robbed of Rs 5.5 lakh near the Regional Passport Office on Brabourne Road on Saturday morning. Police said the incident occurred when the two were returning from the local bank to their office in Mango Lane. The miscreants sped off in a jeep after snatching the bag containing the money. No arrest has so far been made.    


 
 
BANDH CALL AGAINST RELIEF DENIAL 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov.25: 
In its first major offensive against the BJP-led ruling coalition at the Centre, the Left Front has called a Bangla bandh some time next month.

“We have asked trade unions to organise a state-wide strike to protest the BJP’s anti-people policies, including the denial of funds to us to combat the post-flood situation,” said Left Front chairman Sailen Dasgupta.

Dasgupta said a decision to this effect was taken at a Left Front committee meeting attended by Jyoti Basu.

Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumder later said the Citu will discuss the issue with other trade unions to finalise the date of the strike.

Before that, the Left Front has planned a string of agitational programmes both in Bengal and in Delhi to put pressure on the Centre. All MPs, MLAs and ministers from Bengal will stage a dharna in front of Parliament on December 7. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta will meet the Union finance minister to press for the demand.

Dasgupta said flood victims from nine districts will assemble in front of Raj Bhavan on December 16 to submit a memorandum to the Governor, seeking financial assistance from the Centre.

Basu told reporters after the meeting that the Centre’s “unprecedented” decision reflected an “enemy-like attitude” towards the state.

“More than Rs 583 crore has already been spent from the state government’s fund. But the loss has been estimated at Rs 5680 crore. The state government has demanded Rs 1487 crore from the Centre. There is only Rs 10 crore in the chief minister’s relief fund,” Dasgupta said.

He added that an all-party meeting was held at Writers’ Buildings where it was unanimously decided that the Centre’s help was essential to cope with the post-flood situation. “Will the Trinamul Congress and BJP MLAs go with us to Delhi to press for the demand?” Dasgupta said.

The CPM, too, has planned a number of rallies, to be addressed by Jyoti Basu in the next two days. Accompanied by Dasgupta and some other Cabinet ministers, Basu will address two public meetings at Behrampore and Domkal in Murshidabad district on Sunday and Monday.    


 
 
MANIPUR CRISIS COMPOUNDS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Nov. 25: 
Manipur chief minister Wahengbam Nipamacha Singh continues to face an uncertain political future as he finds it difficult to keep his flock together. Nipamacha Singh is fearing possible central intervention to solve the current imbroglio.

The chief minister is locked in a bitter battle with Speaker Sapam Dhananjoy, who is trying to oust him. Dissidents in his Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) are also waiting for an opportune moment to pull the rug from beneath his feet.

Though the chief minister has herded his men into two camps, he is unsure of support from his own men in the trust vote, scheduled to be held in the winter session of the Assembly starting from December 1.

Members of the ruling United Front of Manipur (UFM), which comprises the MSCP and the Federal of Party of Manipur (FPM), are reportedly unhappy with the manner in which Nipamacha Singh flew out 15 members to Calcutta to keep them far from the reach of the Opposition camp.

The biggest hurdle for Nipamacha is his inability to maintain good ties with central BJP leaders. Though the MSCP is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, it has severed ties with the BJP in Manipur.

State BJP legislature party leader R.K. Dorendra Singh is camping in New Delhi and is reportedly mounting pressure on the central leaders to impose President’s rule in the state and keep the Assembly under animated suspension.

Sources said Union minister of state for food processing, Thounaojam Chaoba Singh, who is the MSCP working president, has also urged the NDA leaders to consider imposition of President’s rule in the state for a brief spell.

Chaoba Singh, who was eyeing the chief minister’s post, is preparing a change in the MSCP leadership once the Assembly is kept under animated suspension, sources from New Delhi said.

Dorendra Singh is also working on the same lines. The BJP leader is working for the installation of a BJP-led coalition in the state. However, the BJP’s strength in the 60-member House is only six.

The Opposition, which is backing the Speaker, is also planning to create a constitutional crisis during the winter session of the Assembly if their original gameplan of toppling the Nipamacha ministry does not work.

Opposition leaders feel that the Centre was bound to act if the state faces a constitutional crisis. The Congress, the largest Opposition party, is also playing an active role in this.

The only respite for the chief minister is that President’s rule cannot be imposed by the NDA government that easily as the Congress forms the majority in Rajya Sabha.

As Parliament is in session, the use of Article 356 of the Constitution by NDA government is seemingly difficult. After the Bihar fiasco, the Centre is wary about the situation in Manipur.

Sources said the BJP may clamp central rule after Parliament session ends so that it escape the Opposition’s onslaught in the Lok Sabha and a defeat in the Rajya Sabha.

Governor Ved Marwah left Imphal yesterday to attend the All-India Police Conference in Chandigarh. He is also expected to inform the Centre about the state’s latest political situation.    


 
 
TRIPURA TEA INDUSTRY FACES FISCAL CRISIS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Agartala, Nov. 25: 
Tripura’s tea industry is in the grip of an unprecedented financial crisis because of a sharp fall in unit price realisation arising out of a glut in the market.

In successive auctions in Guwahati till the 38th bidding, the price realisation of Tripura’s common tea (the state is a non-quality tea producing area) has been Rs 35 or less per kg against the production cost of Rs 55.

Unless the industry is given assistance on a largescale by the state and Union governments, many of the gardens may close down straightaway, sources in the industry said. The only organised industry in the state, the tea industry comprises 57 small and marginal gardens spread over 6,000 hectares of land.

After a brief spell of cost-effective business in 1997 and 1998, the industry was affected by a severe drought last year, leading to a loss of 30 per cent of the total production.

In a memorandum addressed to industry minister Pabitra Kar, Tea Association of India (TAI) secretary P.K. Sarkar spelt out the measures needed to be taken to revive the industry.

While detailing the woes of the increasingly sick industry, the memorandum said the tea industry in the state received no drought relief assistance from the state government even though the Centre had sanctioned funds for drought relief.

Among measures needed to be taken to revive the industry, Sarkar pointed out that the current rate of sales tax (eight per cent) should be abolished just like the government of Kerala has done to enable the industry to sell the product locally. The governments of Assam and West Bengal had also exempted the tea sector from payment of agriculture income tax, having realised that the industry needed this prop to remain viable. But the Tripura government had never considered abolishing or reducing sales tax or agriculture income tax despite the fact that the industry was languishing in a dire strait, he added.

The memorandum, a copy of which was also submitted to visiting chief regional executive of the Tea Board R. Horo, also demanded abolition of the central excise duty. It pointed out that the duty had been abolished in 1993 but was re-imposed in February 1999.

Other concessions demanded by the industry included wage subsidy of 40 per cent to each garden, power subsidy, supply of fertilisers to gardens at concessional rates and supply of rice and wheat to gardens from below the poverty line quota of the state government.

Explaining the reason for this demand, Sarkar said the gardens were supplying ration to labourers at a heavily subsidised rate. Rice was given at 0.62 paise per kg and wheat at 0.54 paise per kg as against their respective purchase rate of Rs 13.02 per kg and Rs 10.50 per kg. Sarkar said unless the rice and wheat were supplied from the state government’s below the poverty line quota, the gardens would not be able to tide over the crisis.

Discussing the industry’s problems with Horo, the TAI delegation, led by Sarkar, pointed out that import of tea by multinationals was also creating problems for the domestic tea industry. Both Kar and Horo have assured of looking into the industry’s demands, Sarkar added.    


 
 
DISSIDENCE SURFACES IN ORISSA SAFFRON RANKS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bhubaneswar, Nov. 25: 
Cracks are finally showing in the saffron ranks of Orissa. Serious differences in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Orissa unit came to the fore after Balasore MP Kharavela Swain threatened to resign from the state executive committee of the party alleging “irrational selection”.

Swain, who was a vice-president in the BJP’s state unit, has been dropped from the high-profile post and accommodated only as an ordinary member of the newly-constituted executive committee. Swain had filed nominations for the post of president against current president Manmohan Samal. However, he withdrew his papers at the last moment owing to pressure from the party high command, which favoured “unanimous election” in the Orissa unit. A sulking Swain was thus forced to patch-up with Samal, his main adversary.

Samal was in no mood to “forgive” his adversary when he declared the new list of office-bearers. Though he took nearly a month to come out with a new list, he managed to keep the dissenters out, thus settling an old score.

Among those who have been marginalised are party spokesperson Shyamanand Mohapatra, Bolangir MP Sangeeta Singhdeo, Mayurbhanj MP Salkhan Murmu, Berhampur MP Anadi Sahu and state minister Golak Nayak.

The dissidents, however, are unlikely to take things lying down. The high-profile Swain, known for his outspoken nature, sent the BJP leadership into a tizzy when he threatened to resign. Former party spokesman Shyamananda Mohapatra is also hurt at the way he has been sidelined.

“We were not even consulted when the list was being prepared. There is no democracy in the party,” a leader of the dissident camp said. But the pro-Manmohan Samal group in the party feels that the dissidents would not be able to make much a difference as the new list has the blessings of the RSS.

The rift in the party has reached such a level that only the intervention of central leaders can bring in a solution. The first meeting of the new state executive, scheduled for December 2, could be a stormy one with the dissident camps readying for a showdown with the new leadership over the issue.

Water tax: Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik today urged several industrial houses to clear the dues towards water tax amounting to Rs 55 crore, an official release said, adds PTI.

Patnaik, who held a meeting with representatives of various industries at the state secretariat here, said if the dues were cleared it would help in raising the state’s resources and lessen the burden on farmers. If there were any disputes in this regard they should be settled through mutual discussions across the table, he added.

Gemstone policy: Orissa government is giving shape to a new gemstone policy for proper harnessing of the rich gemstone deposits in some of the western districts of the state, according to minister for energy, steel and mines A.U. Singh Deo. The new policy will tackle the problems of clandestine mining and trading in gemstones in the far-flung areas where the resources are available, Singh Deo said while addressing the eastern zone mines safety week celebrations of the Bhubaneswar region here yesterday.    


 
 
MANIPUR SET TO HOST POLO TOURNAMENT 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Imphal, Nov. 25: 
An international polo event, “Manipur Cup, 2000”, will be held in the state — the birthplace of the sport. It is a part of the Visit India Millennium programme.

The Manipur Horse Riding and Polo Association has made necessary arrangements for the tournament sponsored by the Union tourism ministry and the Manipur government.

Foreign teams from Chile, Australia and the UK have arrived here to participate in the tournament. A Manipur team and another team of the Indian Polo Association are also taking part.

The event, the fifth international invitation polo tournament, will start tomorrow here at the Mapal Kangjeibung — the oldest polo ground in the world.

Joint organising secretary Ch. Priyoranjan, told The Telegraph today that the Manipur Cup is among the 13 polo tournaments recognised by the Indian Polo Association. However, the Manipur Cup was the only tournament in India where players would use the original polo pony, he added.

The Manipuri pony is known to be the original polo pony.    

 

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