Garbage piles up after conservancy strike
Care centres to be set up for ailing animals
College closed after clash
18 killed in Orissa week of accidents
Murderers of Youth Cong leader held
Jharkhand PCC to issue White Paper
Scribe rues divide in Indian Press
Nipamacha action plan widens MSCP rift
Militancy victim’s body exhumed in Tripura
Rebel beaten, handed over to police

Calcutta, Jan. 6: 
Garbage is piling up in the city, as CITU-affiliated conservancy workers of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) have declared a ceasework for an indefinite period from Saturday.

Conservancy staff decided to stop work till they got a satisfactory explanation from the mayor about “why they were not allowed to work on Friday”. They are worked up because Trinamul Congress activists allegedly ransacked a CPM party office near Dhapa on Friday.

The situation is worst at places like Free School Street, Subodh Mullick Square and Shraddhananda Park. The city produces about 3,000 metric tons of garbage in 525 garbage vats every day. About 1,000 metric tons of garbage was not collected on Friday.

The powerful CITU-affiliated body is agitated as the Corporation garage was “deliberately” kept closed on Friday.

“Conservancy workers were kept waiting in front of the garage. No one opened it”, said Amalendu Bhattacharya, general secretary of the CITU workers’ union. So workers could not collect their salary on Friday, although it was due on that day. Of the nearly 18,000 conservancy workers, about 12,000 belong to the CITU.

Agitating conservancy staff gheraoed commissioner Debashis Som on Saturday. Mala Ray, member, mayor-in-council (conservancy), said: “They are not allowing trucks, payloaders and bulldozers to leave the garage. They are not even allowing us to use Dhapa”.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said he will take up the matter with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He said conservancy workers have not yet communicated to him their reason for declaring a ceasework. He said Corporation staff were allowed to sign the attendance register both on Friday and Saturday. Strong administrative action will be taken against those who did not report for duty on Saturday.

The Corporation staff were paid their salary on Saturday. A Corporation officer said since most banks were closed on Friday because of the bandh, it was impossible to pay salaries.

“It was a day of no work, full pay for the agitating workers today”, said Mukherjee. “They were perhaps not aware that I had excluded water supply and conservancy work from the purview of the bandh”, Mukherjee added.


Calcutta, Jan. 6: 
The state forest department will set up two new rescue centres for animals and birds either seized in raids or captured in the wild.

The centres, in Purulia’s Ayodhya Hills and in Khairibari near Jaldapara, respectively, will be set up at an initial cost of Rs 50 lakh, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) G.B. Thapliyal said.

Already with small centres in Madarihat and Salt Lake, the forest department wants to build larger ones away from Calcutta. “We will have proper enclosures and veterinary care for injured or ailing animals,” Thapliyal said.

Both the plots, covering between two and five hectares, are in forest land. Thapliyal said the wildlife wing captured leopards, which strayed into human habitation around the north Bengal tea gardens. “The centre at Madarihat is too small and we need a proper one in its place,” the wildlife wing chief said.

With more stringent enforcement of the laws, he said, the new facilities were overdue. “For instance, we receive many seized snakes but we don’t have a proper place to keep them before releasing them back in the wild,” he said.

Seized turtles, too, were a major problem. The turtles, caught sometimes in their hundreds in trucks trying to sneak into Bangladesh, have to be produced in court as evidence. Many of these endangered species of turtles, captured for their meat and shells, perish during transportation.

Young animals will be taught to fend for themselves before being released in the wild. The Madarihat rescue centre is now overcrowded with 23 young leopards. The cubs will be put in in cordoned-off forest areas, where they will be able to prey on chicken, pigs and goats.

Accident: A 50-year-old woman, identified as Pratibha Das, a resident of Gobindo Banerjee Lane of Behala, was severely injured when a bus on route 35 ran over her right leg at the Deshapran Sashmal Road-Tollygunge Circular Road crossing on Saturday morning. She has been hospitalised.


Calcutta, Jan. 6: 
Shyamaprasad College was closed on Saturday morning following a clash between students of rival political groups during college elections.

According to college sources, trouble erupted after some student-members of the Trinamul-affiliated Chhatra Parishad produced a court injunction and demanded that the election process be stopped immediately. They complained of an anomaly in the electoral rolls.

“On receiving the stay order from the court, the principal directed that the election be stopped immediately. At this, the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad started celebrations at the college gate”, said a student, on condition of anonymity.

“This infuriated the SUCI and SFI members, who were pleading with the principal to continue with the election”, he added.

The police had to resort to a mild lathicharge to disperse the students.

“We had already posted a police picket in front of the college because we anticipated trouble”, said the deputy commissioner of police, headquarters.

Traffic on the eastern side of S.P. Mukherjee Road was held up for about an hour following the incident.

However, no student has been arrested so far in this connection. The SFI conducted a street-corner meeting after the incident.


Bhubaneswar, Jan. 6: 
Four policemen from Cuttack were killed and two others seriously injured when the jeep they were travelling, collided head-on with a trailer early this morning at Khantapara, 15 km from Balasore.

The policemen, from Darghabazar police station in Cuttack, were travelling on a Commander jeep. They were on their way to Midnapore for investigating a murder case.

Ironically, the accident has occurred at a time when the state as well as the rest of the country is observing Road Safety Week from January 1. In four separate major road accidents during this week, 18 people have been killed and 31 injured.

Police officials of Darghabazar police station said the six-member police squad was going to Kanthi in Midnapore district of West Bengal to arrest the suspected murderers of an antisocial youth in a murder case. The youth from Cuttack was killed on the night of December 31 last year.

The policemen killed in the accident have been identified as sub-inspector G.B. Nanda, havildar Balaram Mohanty, assistant driver Dinabandhu Naik and home guard driver Jajati Rout. Their bodies were brought to Cuttack after post mortem and given a guard of honour by the police.

The two injured police officers, inspector-in-charge of the police station, G.B. Acharya and assistant sub-inspector P.K. Mishra are being treated in the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. They are said to be out of danger.

In the first major accident during the Road Safety Week, five persons were killed at Chhatrapur when their minibus collided with a goods truck on Thursday. The goods truck from Andhra Pradesh was coming towards Bhubaneswar. Three passengers died on the spot while two others breathed their last at the Chhatrapur Hospital.

Nine persons were killed and 23 injured in two separate road accidents in the state yesterday. In the first incident at Gurudijhatia of Cuttack district, seven passengers of an Ambassador car were killed and one injured when the car rammed into a bus that was coming to Cuttack from Sambalpur on. The deceased, including a five-year-old girl named Pooja, were from Manijanga of Jagatsinghpur district. They were going to Athgarh to attend a shraddh ceremony.

In the second mishap of the day, two passengers of a Canter were killed when a jeep collided head-on with it near Begunia in Khurda district. The helper of the bus as well as one of the passengers was killed on the spot. Nine others were seriously injured.

In the last major road accident of 2000, seven New Year revellers, on their way to a picnic party to Gupteswar in Koraput district, were killed when the bus rolled down a hilly road near Baipariguda in Koraput district on December 31. The accident left 28 injured.

Road accidents in Orissa have shown a rising trend in the past seven years. Though the number of road accidents has not increased alarmingly, the casualties and the number of injured persons have increased steadily over the years. While 1,407 had died in 5,882 road mishaps in 1994, 1,799 people were killed in 6,577 road mishaps in 1999. In comparison, 1,882 people were killed in 6,741 accidents in 1998. In 1997, 1,671 were killed in 6,378 accidents.


Berhampur, Jan. 6: 
Three prime accused involved in the murder of Ganjam block youth Congress president Simanchal Beja were arrested from an abandoned house in Khandadeuli village near Rambha this morning.

Police sources said the arrested persons have been identified as Pramod Pradhan, Kuna Behera, Kumuda Pradhan and Subash Mohapatra. Police sources said the main assassin was Kuna Behera who killed the Congress leader with his sword. He has a long criminal record in Surat district in Gujarat.

There are five more persons involved in the case and search is on to arrest them. Beja was killed in B. Kainchapur village in Ganjam district last month.

The culprits belong to a single family and the mastermind behind the murder was Goura Pradhan who is still absconding, sources said.

The arrests diluted the political angle behind the murder. Congress leaders alleged that state Assembly deputy Speaker Ram Chandra Panda of the BJP was behind the murder.

Chatrapur circle inspector Girija Rath, who is investigating the case, said all the three persons denied any political reason behind the murder. They alleged that Beja was a threat to village unity and a menace for most villagers, he added.

An accused has revealed during interrogation that Beja was killed due to a dispute over a community fund of B. Kainchapur village. Police records reveal that more than 50 clashes over the community fund has been recorded in the village.

The Congress had demanded the resignation of Panda and called a bandh in Rambha tomorrow. However, following the confessions made by the arrested persons, the Ganjam Congress leaders refrained from making any comments on the case.


Ranchi, Jan. 6: 
Jharkhand PCC president Indranath Bhagat today said the party will issue a White Paper on the performance of the ruling coalition after it completes 100 days in power as the Babulal Marandi government had failed on all fronts.

Bhagat said the Congress will hold rallies and public meetings in all the district headquarters in the state from January 22 to generate public opinion against the BJP-led coalition.

Bhagat alleged that barring the districts of Singhbhum and Santhal Parganas, extremists were running a parallel government in most of the remaining 16 districts of the state.

Bhagat told newsmen here that in Gumla district, extremists had established a total control in at least 16 of the 18 blocks. In Lohardagga, the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the People’s War (PW) had a firm grip over the hilly tracts and the blocks of Kuru, Senha, Kisko and part of Bhandra. In Ranchi district, barring the city limits of the Jhakhand capital, the MCC has made rapid inroads.

The extremists were also firmly established in most parts of Hazaribagh district, the constituency of Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, and the neighbouring districts of Chatra, Garhwa and Palamau. Chatra has already been declared a liberated zone by the MCC, he added.

Bhagat said while no development activities had been carried out in the Jharkhand region by the decade-long Laloo regime, commercial activities in the region had nearly come to a halt with extremist groups demanding protection money equivalent to at least 33 per cent of the capital outlay of each project, including government projects, before allowing even a single spade to be used at the project sites.

Bhagat said though the new NDA government led by Marandi had reiterated to take effective steps to control extremism by the end of November, they were yet to take any action against them.

This despite the fact that since November 15, extremists had rejected the NDA government’s call for direct talks, abducted and murdered the block development officer of Gidhour under Chatra district, massacred four persons at Gumla and attempted to blow off the paternal house of former Bihar chief minister K.B. Sahay in Chatra and abducted a prominent industrialist from Dhanbad, he added.

Demanding immediate resignation of the Marandi government and holding of fresh elections in the state, Bhagat said all that the NDA government had done in the past 50 days was to flood the people with bags full of promises. He said the chief minister and his Cabinet ministers had made policy statements at random but not one of them had been officially announced by the NDA government nor a common minimum agenda fixed by the BJP in consultation with its allies.


Bhubaneswar, Jan. 6: 
Noted mediaperson and deputy editor of India Today Swapan Dasgupta has said there exists an artificial distinction between what has come to be known as the national and the regional press.

Addressing a function to mark the first anniversary of Oriya newsmagazine Shatabdi here yesterday, Dasgupta said the national and regional dailies in the country draw inspiration from each other. While national dailies pick up leads from regional language newspapers, the regional press also gets inspired by the national press in terms of perspective.

“Reporters in a national paper in Delhi will talk to 15 different people for a story. In Bhubaneswar or any other state capital, the reporters also speak to 15 different people. There is no difference,” he said, adding that the regional dailies also picked up their leads from district newspapers. “It is a chain process,” he said.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to the scribes to write on developmental issues and not just harp on the negative aspects of life. In an opposing viewpoint, the senior journalist said developmental reports were fine except that there would be few readers. “The media has to excite the people to sustain interest,” Dasgupta said.


Imphal, Jan. 6: 
The rift in Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) widened after the W. Nipamacha Singh-led United Front of Manipur government signed a 12-point action plan with the Union home ministry today.

Many senior MSCP leaders, loyal to Union minister of state for food processing Thounaojam Chaoba Singh termed the action plan a sell out of the state’s powers to the Centre. The UFM comprises the MSCP and the Federal Party of Manipur (FPM).

The action plan, chalked out to tackle militancy and improve the administration in the state, was submitted by Nipamacha Singh to Union home minister L.K. Advani in New Delhi today. The plan was evolved after a series of discussions between the state government and home ministry officials since January 2. The document was signed this morning between the home ministry and state government officials.

Many Chaoba Singh loyalists said signing of the action plan amounted to direct interference of the Centre in Manipur’s affairs. As law and order is a state subject, these MSCP leaders alleged that Nipamacha Singh had created a situation which would allow the home ministry to interfere in the state’s administration.

However, Nipamacha Singh loyalists stood by the steps taken by their leader for saving the UFM government. With Nipamcha still commanding a majority in the 31-member MSCP legislature party, his loyalists said Chaoba Singh’s move to unseat the chief minister would not work. Together with four members of the FPM, the UFM strength in the 60-member Assembly now stands at 36, including Speaker Sapam Dhananjoy, a senior MSCP leader and arch rival of the chief minister.

The rivalry between Nipamacha Singh and Chaoba Singh has further widened after today’s events in Delhi. While the Union state minister is the working president of the MSCP, the chief minister is still the official president and commands majority among MSCP legislators. Chaoba Singh manages the party organisation.

Sources said Chaoba Singh is now fully prepared to strike against Nipamacha at the organisational level as he has not been able to garner enough support to split the legislature wing. As per anti-defection law, any split requires breaking away of one-third members and Chaoba Singh needs 11 MSCP MLAs to split the party.

Insiders said Chaoba Singh commands majority in the MSCP’s central executive committee — the highest decision-making body in the party. The Union state minister has called a secret central executive meeting on Thursday to discuss the current development in state politics. The meeting which was attended by Chaoba Singh loyalists have authorised “full powers” to the working president to take any steps in the interest of the MSCP.

Sources said Chaoba Singh may even take the extreme step of removing Nipamacha Singh from MSCP’s presidentship. A vertical split in the MSCP seems likely and Chaoba Singh faction may team up with the Opposition Manipur Democratic Front to form an alternative government with the Centre’s blessings.

As per the MSCP’s constitution, the central executive committee should have 21 members. But its present strength is 24. Of these, Chaoba Singh has at least 14 supporters, sources said. Chaoba Singh loyalists alleged that the MSCP president had violated party constitution and appointed nine of his supporters to the central executive committee.

Sources said the Election Committee had already asked the MSCP to conduct its organisational election by April this year.

Chaoba Singh loyalists accused Nipamcha Singh of not holding the party’s organisational election ever since the MSCP was formed in December 1997 after splitting the Congress. They also flayed Nipamacha’s dictatorial style of functioning in the party.

These MSCP leaders said as per the party constitution, there were three posts of vice-presidents and five posts of general secretaries. However, after Nipamacha Singh appointed his loyalists, the number of vice-presidents had gone up to six and that of general secretaries to seven, they alleged.


Agartala, Jan. 6: 
Police in Udaipur subdivision of South Tripura yesterday recovered the skeleton of abducted day labourer Sahadeb Debnath. The labourer was abducted at gunpoint by militants of the National Liberation Front of Tripura from Dataram area of Udaipur on August 15 last year.

Police sources said NLFT rebel Milon Jamatya, who had been arrested in the first week of December, confessed during interrogation that Arun Barman, Suresh Debnath, Kiron Debnath and Sahadeb Debnath had been abducted while collecting firewood from a jungle near the Elongbari area. They had all been killed soon after abduction because of their inability to pay ransom.

The remains of the first three persons were recovered by the police from the Elongbari jungle. Milon initially feigned ignorance about the fate of Sahadeb Debnath. Finally, in the face of sustained interrogation, he confessed on Thursday that Sahadeb Debnath had also been killed. He also identified the place where the victim was buried. The police recovered the skeletal remains yesterday from the Elongbari jungle.

In another incident, a hostage of the militants escaped from their hideout yesterday. Police sources said Sona Chandra Tripura, who had been abducted by a group of NLFT rebels from his residence in Ichacherra village under Baikhora police station of South Tripura on Thursday night, managed to flee the hideout and returned home safely yesterday. He told the police that he had been severely beaten up by the NLFT militants but managed to escape in the wee hours yesterday when his tormentors were asleep.

Sources said police in Kanchanpur subdivision of North Tripura yesterday arrested two United Bengali Liberation Front rebels, Biresh Biswas and Pravanjan Biswas, under the National Security Act. The duo had been evading the police over the past six months.

Apart from this, jeep driver Ratan Das, who had been abducted by a group of NLFT militants from Bachaibari-Asharambari Road under Khowai subdivision on December 31, escaped from the militants’ hideout in Bangladesh and returned safely yesterday. After reaching Khowai town yesterday, Ratan Das told the police that shortly after the abduction he was taken on foot across the border to Bangladesh and kept trussed up in an NLFT hideout. A group of five militants used to keep vigil over him.

Ratan Das got his opportunity on Tuesday midnight when all the five guards were sleeping. He furtively untied himself and ran till he reached Chunarughat police station area in bordering Habiganj district of Bangladesh. The local people took him to a member of the local union council who gave him shelter and passed on information to the Motor Shramik Union office in Khowai town.

Emissaries of the militants came to know of this and tried to bribe the member of the union council, promising him Rs 1 lakh. But the council member flatly refused and threatened to have the emissaries arrested if they did not leave. Later, the council member arranged to send Das back to Khowai yesterday with an escort.

Explosives recovered: A major tragedy was averted when Assam Rifles personnel detected and recovered high-powered plastic explosives in a bus during routine check-up in Nagaland’s Phek district, defence sources said today, reports PTI.

Nearly one kg of explosives were recovered from a bag hidden under the seat of a Kiphire-Kohima bus near Jessami on January 3, a delayed release said.


Agartala, Jan. 6: 
A victim of insurgency today took chance revenge when he spotted a hardcore National Liberation Front of Tripura militant here and got him caught, not before the public beat up the rebel.

Police sources said one Gopal Shil, displaced from his Gabordi home under Sadar sub-division by militancy, saw NLFT rebel Chitta Debbarma loitering in the court premises here. He shouted and alerted passers-by that Debbarma was a hardcore militant. People present on the spot caught the rebel and beat him severely. The rebel was later rescued by police personnel in the court and promptly arrested.

Shil said two years ago, Debberma had led a tribal mob to his house and set it on fire. The NLFT rebel also kidnapped his younger brother who is still untraced. Sources said the militant came to the court to help another NLFT cadre whose bail petition was scheduled to be heard today.

Chief minister Manik Sarkar today visited remote areas of Gandacherra sub-division in Dhalai district along with the BSF inspector-general. Sarkar visited outlying camps of BSF in Dalap-Ati, Bhagirath and Ratan Nagar areas of the sub-division.


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