Punched to death in class
Night guards lynch man on dacoity doubt
Bypass cop killers held
Rights panel rap for police in Nangia case
Now pets may rest in peace
IAS window for district students
Lawyers up in arms over judge post vacancies
Private guards given charge of stadium security
Engineering congress in city
Opp. trains guns at CM

Calcutta, Dec.15: 
A 15-year-old boy was beaten to death by his “best friend” on Friday morning after a dispute over who would sit where in class. Kuntal Ghosh, a student of Class IX in Vivekananda Institution of Shibpur, died after being punched on the head, face, chest and in the lower abdomen by Anjan Makal. The 15-year-old has been arrested on charges of “unintentional murder” and remanded in police custody.

“We have lodged an FIR based on the eyewitness account of Kuntal’s classmates. And Anjan has admitted during interrogation that he had delivered the blows,” said Swapan Kumar Bagchi, officer-in-charge, Shibpur police station.

This is the second time in a month that Vivekananda Institution has found itself at the centre of a controversy. Last month, the father of one of the boys in the primary section had lodged, and subsequently withdrawn, a complaint with the police about a teacher hitting his son with a duster.

On Friday, Kuntal went to school, in white-and-brown uniform, around 10 am. After the morning prayer, he accompanied his classmates to Class IX B and tried to occupy Anjan’s seat in the second-last row. “Our seats are fixed according to our roll numbers but Kuntal, who used to sit behind Anjan, did not like being labelled a backbencher,” said one of their classmates.

However, Anjan was in no mood to make way for Kuntal. An argument broke out between the two friends as Kuntal forcibly dumped his school bag on Anjan’s desk. Anjan threw the bag on the floor. Kuntal flew into a rage and started abusing and hitting Anjan.

“When Kuntal started punching me, I fought back. I had no other option,” Anjan told The Telegraph at the Shibpur police station. “He refused to listen to reason and kept on abusing me in front of all my classmates. I lost my cool... I still can’t believe what I had done.” According to some of his classmates, Anjan pushed Kuntal’s head under the desk and pinned him down. After some time, they noticed that Kuntal “was not moving”. Fearing that something had gone seriously wrong, they pulled him out.

When the classteacher entered, he found the boys standing around Kuntal, lying unconscious on a desk. As news spread, teachers from other classes came rushing and carried Kuntal to the common room. A local doctor who was called in advised immediate hospitalisation. Kuntal was taken to a private nursing home in Shibpur, where he was declared “brought dead”.

The police said there were no marks of external injury on Kuntal’s body, except for a cut below his right ear.

Some of Kuntal’s classmates rushed to his house on Dayal Banerjee Road to inform his parents. When Kuntal’s father Sisir, mother Molina and elder brother Utpal reached the nursing home, they were told “the body” had been shifted to Howrah morgue.

“I just want to see Anjan... and ask him why he hit my son,” said Kuntal’s father. His mother sat silently, weeping inconsolably.

Angry residents of Dayal Banerjee Road assembled outside Shibpur police station and demanded that Anjan be handed over to them. Inside, Anjan sat on a bench with a dazed look.

“He was one of my best friends... we use to play together on the school grounds during the tiffin break every day... I don’t know how this happened,” he mumbled.

Anjan will be produced in Howrah court on Saturday afternoon and is then likely to be sent to a juvenile home, the police said.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
Paranoid over the recent spurt in crime in the area, residents and members of a local resistance group in Tiljala lynched a 30-year-old man and seriously injured another, suspecting them to be dacoits, early on Friday.    

Calcutta, Dec.15: 
Police on Friday claimed to have arrested two other members of the gang that had blown off the head of a constable on the EM Bypass on Wednesday night. The police had been put on their trail by two other arrested dacoits, Uttam Biswas, alias Sahidul, and Sariful.    

Calcutta, Dec.15: 
The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has hauled up several senior police officers for “falsely implicating” three young men in the now-infamous Sharad Nangia kidnap case.

Jayanta Roy, father of Debojyoti, main accused in the Nangia case, had moved the rights commission alleging that the officer-in-charge of Karaya police station, along with a few other officers, had “illegally arrested” his son and his two friends, Haridas Roy and Chandan Saha. The arrests had been made in connection with an FlR lodged by Nangia, a businessman in November 1999, accusing the three young men of attempting to abduct him at gunpoint in south Calcutta.

On Friday, S. Coari, a senior official of the rights body, wrote to Roy, stating that the Commission had conducted an inquiry into the case and concluded that the “three young men had been falsely victimised for no fault of theirs”.

The Commission has recommended that criminal cases be initiated against two officers of the Karaya police station for “brutally assaulting Debojyoti and his two friends while they were in police custody and also for fabricating false evidence against them”.

It has also called for “departmental proceedings” against the officer-in-charge of Karaya police station, Satyajit Banerjee, and sub-inspector Tushar Kanti Sinha, the investigating officer of the case.

The Commission has suggested that an interim compensation of Rs 10,000 be paid to Debojyoti Roy and Rs 5,000 to each of his friends by the three police officers of Karaya thana.

The Commission has also found it “a fit case for prosecution against Sharad Nangia, who is at the root of all evils”.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
On February 6, when 10-year-old Pommy died, all that Siddharta and Shobhita Chakraborty wanted was to give their beloved Spitz a “decent burial”. But the south Calcutta couple soon realised that it was mission impossible. When they approached health officials of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, they were told there was “no facility” for the burial of animals in the city. Finally, Siddharta Chakraborty, a teacher of St Joseph’s College, had to hand over Pommy to “a local boy” who promised to bury the dog at a deserted spot near Tolly’s Nullah, at Chetla, for Rs 800.

Pets in Calcutta may no longer have to suffer Pommy’s fate. The health department of the Corporation is all set to open the first cemetery for pets in the city at Dhapa by February 2001. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who is slated to inaugurate the cemetery, said: “It is unthinkable that in a city where the pet population is more than 20,000, there is no space reserved for their burial... We also plan to set up a crematorium in due course.”

“The burial ground will be on a three-bigha plot of land close to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass,” said member mayor-in-council Javed Ahmed Khan, who added that owners will no longer have to consign their pets to Tolly’s Nullah or the Hooghly. “The owners of the pets will have to pay a fixed fee to the Corporation for the burial or cremation,” said Khan. But the authorities are yet to decide whether owners will be allowed to put up plaques in memory of their pets.

According to a spokesperson of the licence department, the number of licensed dogs in the city is around 20,000 and the Corporation earns an annual revenue of Rs 5 lakh from them. “But the actual number of pet dogs in the city would be more than two lakh,” he added.

Besides dogs, the burial ground — and later the crematorium — would be used for cats, birds, deer, peacocks, parrots and even monkeys.

The Corporation will monitor the functioning of the burial ground at Dhapa through non-government organisations. Its maintenance will be handed over to a city-based NGO in “due course”.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
Realising that its only IAS coaching centre at Presidency College has been a total failure in terms of attracting meritorious students from the city, the government has now decided to woo talent from the districts.

Alarmed at the urban students’ dwindling interest in civil services and desperate to throw up more IAS officers from the West Bengal cadre, the state higher education department has decided to set up a separate unit at Presidency College for “worthy students from the districts”. They will be offered IAS coaching at subsidised fees.

The government move follows the extremely poor success rates in IAS examinations, as very few outstanding students have enrolled at the coaching centre over the past five years.

Only nine students among the 300-odd attending the Presidency centre during this period have passed the IAS exams.

“The existing centre caters mainly to students of Calcutta and the adjoining areas. I think it’s our duty to see that the students in the rural belts can also avail of this opportunity,” said Amal Mukhopadhay, former principal of Presidency College and, at present, director of the centre.

Five years ago, the state government had decided to provide necessary aid to at least four under-graduate colleges in the city for opening IAS coaching centres. Apart from Presidency, Basanti Devi College and Ashutosh College were the other institutions chosen.

According to a higher education department official, Presidency was picked in the hope of roping in a good number of meritorious students from the college itself. But, in the last five years, less than five per cent of Presidency students joined the IAS centre after completing graduation.

It is learnt that the proposed scheme for district students will take off in the next academic session. Those who can’t attend, can avail the coaching through correspondence. They will be offered reading material at subsidised rates.

City students pay Rs 7,000 for the one-year coaching course. In the proposed scheme, the state government will sponsor district students of extraordinary merit so that they can attend the coaching classes, staying in Calcutta. They will be provided with free accommodation and food.

Students of Presidency and other city colleges said they don’t want to join the civil services since there is “too much political interference in the profession”.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
Lawyers are set to hit the warpath to press for filling of vacancies in Calcutta High Court, where the strength of judges has shrunk to 34 following the transfer of three judges in the past fortnight.

Justice S.B.Sinha became chief justice of Hyderabad High Court, V.K.Gupta, his colleague on the judicial bench, became chief justice of Ranchi High Court, while the third, Ranjan Majumdar, is now the chairman of the state administrative tribunal in Salt Lake.

Uttam Majumdar, a spokesperson for the High Court Bar Association, said on Friday that the lawyers’ body has chalked out an agitational programme to highlight the plight of litigants.

In 1988, the Supreme Court had sanctioned 48 judges for Calcutta High Court but at no point were all the posts filled.

“For the past eight years, our court has been running with only 30 judges. After a prolonged agitation by the lawyers, they (the Centre and the apex court) appointed eight judges in the past five months, only to transfer four of them now,” Majumdar said.

The number of cases pending in the high court stands at 360,000, to which 40,000 new cases are added every year.

Lawyers are also concerned at the “slow response of judges” to public interest litigations and environmental issues.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
The security of the Salt Lake stadium complex, a Rs 200-crore property spread over 76 acres, was handed over to a private agency on Friday.

Henceforth, the stadium will be treated as a restricted area, according to the stadium authorities.

General Security and Information Service Pvt Ltd, the security agency which got the nod, has already deployed 30 personnel, some armed, to police the huge complex.

“Entry and exit of both vehicles and persons will be monitored and controlled by the private agency. We hope this will prevent theft and act as a deterrent to anti-socials from the nearby slums who sneak into the stadium complex at night,” said stadium CEO Saumitra Ray.

Walkers’ passes

In view of the stringent screening at entry points, the authorities have decided to issue identity cards to retired morning and evening walkers who use the stadium complex.

Till now, the huge complex was policed by only 14 untrained government staff, working in three shifts. “Effectively, there were a maximum of three people on duty at any given point of time,” Ray clarified.

With no restriction on entry, the stadium had become a safe haven for criminals, which could have contributed to the soaring crime graph in the Salt Lake residential area, feel the authorities.

“It’s surely good news for us as well as the residents of Salt Lake. As it is, we are short-staffed and could do with all the help we can get,” said Kuldip Singh, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas.

“I’m sure it will have a positive impact on the overall security of the Salt Lake residential area,” he added.

Officially, the stadium comes under the jurisdiction of the Bidhannagar (South) police station. But, the 20-odd policemen camping permanently within the complex are actually deployed for duty at VVIP residences.

The private security arrangement will cost the government an additional Rs 60,000 per month, which the stadium authorities hope to raise by reducing the insurance cover on the complex.


Calcutta, Dec.15: 
The Indian Chemical Engineering Congress 2000 will be held in Calcutta from December 18 to 21. The meet, to be attended by around 2,000 delegates, is being organised by the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers and will be hosted at Science City.

The theme of Chemcon 2000 will be ‘Convergence in Technical Diversity’, Prof. A.K. Mitra, local chairman of the organising committee, said. Governor Viren J. Shah will inaugurate the meet.

Prof Stanley Cohen, Nobel laureate, is scheduled to deliver the millennium lecture on the opening day, followed by six plenary lectures to be chaired by Dr Purnendu Chatterjee. Mr Rajat Gupta will speak on ‘Leadership challenges in the new millennium’ on December 19.

An exhibition will also be held on the processes, plants and products of chemical and allied industries.


Imphal, Dec. 15: 
A constitutional crisis is likely in Manipur with the Opposition camp today lodging a complaint with Speaker Sapam Dhananjoy, seeking disqualification proceedings against chief minister Nipamacha Singh.

Congress leader Nimaichand Luwang, in his complaint to the Speaker, said Nipamacha Singh had violated the anti-defection law in the last Assembly session and the matter was suppressed by then Speaker K. Babudhon Singh.

In answer to the query on how a disqualification case of the last Assembly could be taken up in the present Assembly, the Opposition camp said it depended on the Speaker to initiate proceedings.

In the present political battle between the ruling United Front of Manipur (UFM) and the Opposition camp, both sides are abusing power. If the trend continues, a constitutional crisis may erupt in the near future, inviting central intervention under Article 356.

Luwang and Manipur People’s Party president O. Joy Singh defended their position in Nipamacha Singh’s disqualification case. Nipamacha Singh had split the Congress in December 1997 and formed the Manipur State Congress Party while he was the Speaker. He then led the UFM government. But former Congress MLA Y. Irabot Singh challenged the split, saying Nipamacha had abused the powers of the Speaker.

The Gauhati High Court, in its judgment in November, 1999, had asked Speaker Babudhon Singh to initiate disqualification proceedings against Nipamacha Singh by convening a special session.

The order was subsequently challenged by Nipamacha Singh and Babudhon Singh in a division bench of the High Court. The division bench, in December, 1999, ordered that the special session was not required. Babudhon Singh informed the court that he would initiate disqualification proceedings against Nipamacha Singh before March 7, 2000. Election to the seventh Assembly was held in February this year. A new Assembly was constituted on March 1. Nipamacha’s case ha already lapsed. But the Opposition is taking up the matter to create a constitutional crisis.

“If the Speaker of sixth Assembly, Babudhon Singh, can recognise a split in the seventh Assembly after he lost the Assembly elections in February, why can’t the Speaker of the seventh Assembly, Dhananjoy, initiate disqualification proceedings against Nipamacha who violated the anti-defection law in the sixth Assembly,” argued Luwang.

The present nine disqualification cases had come up after their split was recognised by Babudhon Singh before Dhananjoy was elected Speaker. This has prompted the Opposition camp to strike out at the chief minister. These nine MLAs defected to the MSCP after Babudhon Singh recognised the split from their parent parties.

With Dhananjoy at their side, the Opposition is trying out every option to topple the Nipamacha government.

Joy Singh and Luwang demanded today that Dhananjoy constitute a committee to investigate the missing of important documents and files, relating to the nine disqualification cases, from the Assembly secretariat.

Luwang and Joy Singh said they wanted to examine four persons in connection with the missing files. These four are the advocate-general, Babudhon Singh and former Assembly secretaries I.S. Laishram and T. Joute.

Nipamacha today refused to attend a meeting called by the Speaker to discuss the motion.


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