Pellet surgery pulls Ghising through
‘Blood’ plant infusion to CPM
Race is in mind, not in genes
Movie whets murder instinct
Steel Sourav versus Sting Steve
Calcutta Weather

Siliguri, Feb. 11: 
Five grenade pellets piercing Subash Ghising’s scalp and two lodged in his neck were extracted last night by surgeons who said today the ambushed Gorkhaland movement spearhead was “out of danger”.

Neuro-surgeon Maloy Chakraborty, who operated upon Ghising after facing initial resistance from his loyalists, told The Telegraph: “His state is stable now and he is out of danger. But he is extremely weak and pale due to excessive loss of blood.”

The Gorkha National Liberation Front chief was wounded on the right side of his scalp in a militant strike on his convoy on Saturday. He also suffered gunshot wounds “one at the entry point and the other at the exit point behind his right ear”.

This morning, the GNLF chief told partymen visiting him in Paramount nursing home he was well and did not wish to be taken to Delhi. There was confusion last night with loyalists demanding that he be shifted to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. “I am feeling fine and I would like to go home by tomorrow. Convey the message to my people that I am safe and sound, there is nothing to be worried about. Ask them to maintain peace in the hills at all costs,” Ghising said, as he lay in his hospital bed swathed in bandages.

No outfit has yet claimed responsibility for the strike, but all fingers are pointed at the rival Gorkhaland Liberation Organisation led by Chhatray Subba. Police said the meticulous execution of the attack and the type of arms used suggest a well-trained group is behind the operation.

Some suspect the hand of an “insider” as Ghising had changed his travel plans at the last moment. He was initially slated to put up at Pintail resort on the outskirts of Siliguri for the night, but decided to skip the stopover.

Besides, only an insider would know that Ghising —- who prefers taking the longer Hill Cart road for security reasons —- would opt for the Pankhabari road. The ambush site and the cell found on the person of a slain militant indicate that the assailants were being intimated at every step.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said it was improper to comment on the attack mastermind at this stage. “All I can say is that police have recovered an AK-47, a cellphone and a few grenades from one of the dead, which will help us get a picture in the days ahead.”

An indefinite bandh demanding the attackers’ arrest began in Darjeeling today. Stray violence was reported with loyalists torching the offices of pro-Gorkhaland outfits. A GNLF leader said: “Workers agitated over the murder bid will go further out of control if Ghising goes thousands of km away from the hills.”

Ghising’s surgeon today said the leader had lost a great deal of blood in the attack and had to be given two bottles. “We had to give him 13 stitches to stop the bleeding. Around 1.30 am, we did a CT scan to check if there were more foreign bodies. He regained consciousness around 5 am,” he said.

Ghising was given light tea in the morning and “soft rice” for lunch, Chakraborty said. “He is unwilling to be shifted anywhere. He wants to go home as soon as possible.”

The GNLF chief was rushed to the nursing home last evening by Kurseong branch committee chief I.N. Pradhan. Police cordoned off the area, fearing more strikes. Crack Greyhound commandos also moved in, turning the hospital into a fortress. But this did not deter hundreds of his loyalists, who prayed outside as the operation began at 10.30 pm.

The Bengal government is not taking any chances with Ghising’s treatment. Urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya, who spoke to him for 15 minutes, said an air force plane was on stand-by at Hashimara. Two specialists are being flown in from Calcutta.


New Delhi & Calcutta, Feb. 11: 
Putting in place the last block of a power project he once vowed to build with the “blood” of Bengal, Jyoti Basu has sought to pump a wave of hope through the veins of a showpiece-anaemic CPM.

Basu today dedicated to the nation the Bakreswar thermal power project — once the fulcrum of the Left Front government’s “step-mother” campaign against the Centre — after inaugurating the last unit of the plant. “I am proud, I am overwhelmed by this achievement,” said Basu, who had laid the foundation stone of the project on September 28, 1988.

Basu also thanked “our boys who had taken the pledge to make the project a success with the money collected by selling their blood.” He acknowledged the contribution of former power minister Sankar Sen, who had resigned because of “some misunderstandings”. But, Basu added, “we are in regular touch”.

The CPM moved with alacrity to put the Bakreswar project, along with Haldia Petrochem, on the campaign block for the coming polls. CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said in Calcutta: “We have proved that we are true to our promise. It is an achievement for us. We will go to the people with Bakreswar, Haldia Petrochem and other achievements.”

The party also needs the project to counter a possible rise in the popularity of Mamata Banerjee if she manages to keep railway passenger fares unchanged in the budget.

In the late eighties, the Bakreswar project had been an election plank for the ruling CPM. So were the Gorkhaland agitation and Haldia — issues which are now again in the frontburner. In a political scenario dominated by Rajiv Gandhi, the CPM had used these issues to whip up emotion against Central “discrimination”. The CPM’s high-decibel campaign was launched after Rajiv Gandhi set terms for clearing a Rs 490-crore foreign loan.

Basu had led the hitback, addressing rally after rally to exhort people to sell their blood to make the Bakreswar dream come true.

However, a large portion of the blood collected had to be poured down the drain because of lack of storage space. The Rs 2,300-crore project was finally completed with not sale proceeds from blood but a loan from the Japanese Bank of International Cooperation.


Washington, Feb. 11: 
Ten years after two rival teams of scientists on both sides of the Atlantic began interpreting DNA-encoded instructions that make the human being, they have come up with the startling finding that race is not a scientific concept.

The teams have concluded that men provide a greater force for evolutionary change than women; but they also promote disease.

Scientists across the world are gasping in disbelief at the finding by both teams, prematurely released last night, that human beings have around 35,000 genes, not very much more than a fruit fly or a worm.

Previous research had established that some small flowering plants have about 25,000 genes and tiny worms as much as 19,000.

The teams have, however, not reasoned out why human beings are more complex that worms or flies if they have so few genes.

The significance of last night’s findings, though, is that it will help find genes that promote disease and enable the discovery of better medicines and more scientific treatment.

The findings are also expected to help in better evaluation of environmental hazards and the study of human migration.

After researching on three women and two men — white, black, Chinese and Hispanic — the research found very little differences among them. This led to the conclusion that race has no genetic basis.

The two teams were under the arclights last year when they deciphered letters of the DNA code — the genome with three billion letters — which reveals fundamental information of how the human body functions.

But the rival teams, one in Maryland on the outskirts of Washington, and another a consortium of academic institutions across Europe, China and Japan, are highly critical of each other’s approach.

Last year, then US president Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair brought the rival groups of scientists together at the White House for a truce.

They agreed at this meeting on a joint announcement at the end of their research and a joint publication of their findings.

That announcement was to have been have been made tomorrow here and in Europe at two separate press conferences, but The Observer of London ignored the embargo and broke the story this weekend.

The scientists, therefore, prematurely released their conclusions last night.

One of the teams is led by Dr J Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics in Rockville, Maryland.

The international consortium is funded by America’s National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust of London. Its spokesman is Dr Eric Lander of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachussets.

Despite the truce arranged at the White House, each team tried to prevent the other from publishing findings in scientific journals and speaking time at tomorrow’s joint press conference was to have been very strictly apportioned, to the minute.

The consortium’s report said about their discovery:

“In principle, the string of genetic bits holds long-sought secrets of human development, physiology and medicine”. It also conceded: “In practice, our ability to transform such knowledge into understanding remains woefully inadequate”.

Dr. Venter, writing for his team, said the 10-year research has been “mentally exhausting, in part because we are not mentally equipped to absorb all this. We feel like midgets describing the universe and we can’t comprehend it all”.

Dr Harold Varmus, head of the internationally known Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York compared the findings to viewing the earth from the moon. “It is pretty thrilling”, he said.


Midnapore, Feb. 11: 
A murder scene in a Bengali film shown at a video parlour set off a deranged man on a killing spree this evening before he was lynched by a frenzied crowd.

The 33-year-old man murdered three, including an infant and a five-year-old boy. He attacked six more persons, who were admitted to a hospital with multiple injuries.

The incident took place at Akra village under the Garbeta police station area. Khooner Trishna, a pot-boiler, was being shown to a packed Sunday house at a video parlour. The villagers had also brought children along.

The trouble began with the climax — a brutal murder scene. Haragobindo Bagdi left the barely-lit parlour and returned unobserved with a long iron rod, officer-in-charge of Garbeta police station Nikhil Basu said. Screaming madly, Bagdi started to swing the rod about. Three persons slumped to the floor immediately. Others were hit badly.

Enraged, the villagers dragged out Bagdi and with the same rod, beat him to death. Bagdi used to turn violent on seeing blood or murder-scenes.


Chennai, Feb.11: 
Most Indian captains would, in the past, prefer not reacting to pre-series comments from their opposite number. There would be silence, even though the remarks may have been provocative.

“That’s his opinion” or “I don’t wish to start a controversy” would be the usual defensive refrain. With Sourav Ganguly, it’s different. Well, perhaps, only Sourav can dare to be different.

The other day, Sourav dubbed “unfair” Steve Waugh’s comments specific to the preparation of wickets for the upcoming three-Test series in India.

Today, Sourav actually tore into Steve: “Neither do I read what the Australian captain says, nor will I be bothered by anything he could say.”

Speaking on conclusion of phase-I of the conditioning camp, at the IIT-Chemplast ground, Sourav added: “Steve may feel the pressure is all on India, but I think it’s on the Australians... They’ll be taking to the first Test (Mumbai, from February 27) with a world record 15 wins on-the-trot...”

With Ian Chappell setting the trend, in the early Seventies, a psychological assault has always been part of the Australian armoury —- before and during a series. Only the degree has varied (Mark Taylor, for instance, wasn’t exactly a Chappell), and Steve is keeping the tradition alive.

However, in Sourav, Steve has run into a captain who isn’t just passionate about his and the team’s game, but is determined not to concede ground even in any duel exclusively with words.

If Steve had been seeking to score a few pre-series points, with whatever he said, Sourav’s response should make him think of alternatives for doing so.

Of course, Sourav will himself have to be careful he doesn’t fall victim to on-field needling by the Australians, who must be aware the Indian captain has a one-match suspended sentence (thanks to Barry Jarman) on his head.

In fact, Sourav should do nothing to attract the attention of Cammie Smith, who will be Match Referee during the series.

Meanwhile, answering a volley of questions this morning, Sourav insisted if there was pressure, “it simply would have to be handled.” He candidly added: “The team which does so better, will do better.”

Also, Sourav didn’t run down the performance of the seven specialist spinners at the camp: The seasoned Venkatapathi Raju, Sunil Joshi, Harbhajan Singh, Rahul Sanghvi, Murali Kartik, Sarandeep Singh and Balaji Rao. “They didn’t bowl as badly as it’s been made out... But, yes, our minds are not made up on the ones who will feature in the first Test XIV.”

Asked about the wicketkeeper’s slot, Sourav indirectly conveyed his choice by pointing out Vijay Dahiya “was doing a good job.” The only other specialist wicketkeeper around has been veteran Nayan Mongia, in contention for only the first time this season.

Sourav ended by praising coach John Wright’s innovations at the camp (fielding drills, keeping everybody involved all the time and more) and observing that the many workouts in “hot, demanding conditions” would have helped make the players tough.

Australia, after all, won’t be Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.




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