Jadavpur campus in eye of job blitz
Kingpin eludes nightlong raids for Bypass killer
Court rejects rape denial by cops, orders CID prob
Amit uncle goofed up, got a toffee
Law-makers and breakers
Traffic rules for southern areas
Luwang scans Manipur hospitals
Left attacks Mahanta on NDA parleys
Tripura House criticises railway budget
Suspension order on Cong MLAs lifted

Calcutta, March 2: 
Placement finding pride of place on campus is not the sole preserve of B-schools any more. This time, Jadavpur University has scored almost a perfect 10 in the placement of its engineering graduates in top-ranking companies across the country.

University sources said 490 out of 500-odd students, who will be completing their graduation and post-graduation engineering courses in June, have already been picked up through campus interviews. There has been a quantum leap in salaries offered as well, with the bar being raised from the Rs 2-lakh per annum offers till last year. This year has witnessed a high of Rs 4.9 lakh per annum, followed by several in the Rs 3-lakh-plus category. According to a student of IIT-Kharagpur, the average at the tech school has been Rs 4 lakh per annum this time.

Subroto Mondol, chief of the placement bureau at JU, pointed out that it’s the first time that students from the mechanical, production, electrical, metallurgical streams — as opposed to just the electronics, telecommunications and computer science departments — have scored heavily at the campus interviews. According to Mondol, this can partly be attributed to the fact that the university had “increased interaction” with reputed companies over the past two years to ensure better job facilities for students.

Among the big ones to cast their net wide at JU are Wipro, IBM, Wipro Infotech, Infosys, TCS, CTS, Texas Instruments, Silicon Automation, Tisco, Telco, CEROT, NTPC, and IDBI.

IBM alone has accounted for 22 students from JU this time. “A large number of candidates from Jadavpur have been taken in because they have done well in the written tests,” said Sashikala Viswanathan, HR manager, IBM group, from Bangalore.

No less than 97 budding engineers have landed a job with Wipro. According to Ritesh Raina, campus relations manager, Wipro, it was company policy to pick up students from premier institutions across the country. “The students from JU scored heavily in the written round, beating back candidates from other leading engineering colleges,” explained Raina, from Bangalore.

Tirthankar Dhar, final-year student of production engineering recruited by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), felt the credit for this year’s campus interview scorecard should “go to the students” who had excelled “against all odds”, including a long-dawn work-to-rule by teachers this session.

But Mondol felt the success story has been scripted by a combination of factors, including the high academic standards set by teachers, the syllabus which had been restructured according to ‘market’ requirements, and the efforts of university authorities to build bridges with leading engineering firms.


Calcutta, March 2: 
Even as nightlong raids by the police along the EM Bypass netted one of the suspects believed to be behind the killing of a scooterist on Wednesday night, the kingpin of the gang eluded the dragnet.

On Wednesday night, as Gopal Krishna Roy and his wife were travelling down the Bypass, criminals used a bamboo to ‘trip’ his scooter and then beat him up, before escaping with his briefcase. The next morning, Roy succumbed to his injuries.

Shaken into action after Roy’s death created an uproar across the city, the police raided a number of slums between Tiljala and Chingrighata, along the Bypass, in search of criminals through late Thursday night and early Friday.

But even though most of the criminals had fled the area, the police claimed that one of the persons behind Wednesday’s crime, Bhola, was arrested from a shanty in a Chingrighata slum, where he was hiding. Interrogation has revealed that the crime was committed by a four-member gang who had taken up operating in the area in the past couple of months. Bhola told the police that all of them came from nearby slums and had once again revived the early Eighties’ practice of ‘tripping’ two-wheelers and then robbing the riders.

The police claim they now have leads to the whereabouts of the other gang members and will carry out sustained raids to net them.

Meanwhile, security in the area, which has seen a number of dacoities in the recent past, has been stepped up with a number of highway patrol cars on duty throughout the night.

The director-general of police, Deepak Sanyal, visited Roy’s widow at her Salt Lake residence on Friday afternoon and assured her that her husband’s killers would be apprehended soon.


Calcutta, March 2: 
In yet another ‘no-confidence’ vote against the city police, Calcutta High Court on Friday rejected a detective department denial on the alleged rape of a deaf-mute girl by constables in a van while she was being taken to prison, saying it was an effort to “shield” the guilty.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Girish Gupta, instead, asked the deputy inspector-general of police of the criminal investigation department (CID) to probe the incident afresh.

On September 8 last year, the girl, roaming aimlessly in the Watgunge area, was picked up by a police patrol. The next day, she was produced at Alipore court, where the magistrate ordered that she be sent to Presidency Jail for safe custody.

On September 19, after returning to prison from another appearance before the magistrate, the girl was found by other inmates, huddled up and weeping inconsolably. After being repeatedly asked why she was crying, the girl used sign language and gestures to tell the other women in the prison that she was raped by the police on the way back from prison. The inmates raised a hue and cry over the issue, drawing the attention of the jailer.

A medical examination was ordered the next day and the attending prison doctor reported that the girl had, indeed, been sexually abused.

On the basis of a public interest litigation filed by advocate Tapas Bhanja, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged crime, the high court asked for a report from the detective department. Chief Justice Mathur and Justice Gupta observed that the report submitted by the detective chief was “an effort to shield the guilty.” They directed the deputy inspector-general of the CID to submit the report within two months and called for “stern action” against the culprits.

The detective department submitted before the court that the girl had ‘not’ been molested by policemen accompanying her.


Calcutta, March 2: 
Navneet Sewak, aka‘Raj Kapoor, a seven-year-old student at Maheshwari Sishu Vihar, went from Burrabazar to Mumbai to meet Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday, February 27. The boy, a patient of thalassaemia, was taken on his ‘dream trip’ by Make-A-Wish Foundation, which makes the fondest wishes of terminally-ill children come true, and Jet Airways, which sponsored his flight...

My first wish was to have a cycle. But then I realised that our house is too small to keep a cycle in. Then, I saw Kaun Banega Crorepati?, and then Mohabbatein three times, and I decided that I wanted to go to Mumbai to meet Amitabh, and maybe even be on TV...

When they (Make-A-Wish Foundation) told me that it was really going to happen, I was so excited. On Tuesday morning, we all left, on a plane. When we reached, they took me to the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati? First, I changed into Raj Kapoor clothes, and then I went down to the studio.

They were shooting, but after they finished, they let me sit in the hotseat! I took pictures with Amitabh uncle, and so did mummy and everyone else. I called him Mr Shri Narayan Shankar (his name in Mohabbatein), and he was so happy! Then, we all went to Amitabh uncle’s room beside the studio. There was such a big model of a car there! And there were posters all over the room of him, and Abhishek Bachchan, in all different films.

Then, I turned quiz-master. I asked him what our country’s national anthem is. I gave him four options — a) Vande Mataram; b) Saare Jahan Se Achcha; c) Jhhanda Ooncha Rahe Hamara and d) Jana Gana Mana. He picked the wrong answer, Saare Jahan Se Achcha... But I think he did it on purpose.

I gave Amitabh a toffee, which I had got on the plane. And I sang and danced to my favourite Raj Kapoor song, Jeena Yahan, Marna Yahan, from Mera Naam Joker.

Amitabh took this big poster of himself and the heroes of Mohabattein off his wall and gave it to me! And I said I liked another one of Abhishek, and he was going to give that to me too, but I stopped him. Where would I hang it in my house?

I met Siddhartha (Basu) ‘uncle’ as well, and he gave me a bag, that says ‘Star Plus Kaun Banega Crorepati’ on it, with a KBC watch, cap and shirt inside.

They told me that I couldn’t be on the show because I am only seven. But they are so nice... and they told me I could be on the Bournvita quiz show instead!

I went for the Bournvita Quiz Contest on Thursday. I met Derek uncle, and he asked me a lot of questions, and then we started shooting.

I was the ‘celebrity’ of the day. I sang Jeena yahan... and asked the contestants to the name the actor. They answered that easily, but then they were shown a photograph of a bird flying, and I had to ask what bird it was. None of them knew!

Derek uncle told me that I had asked a very difficult question, and that I was the “best guest” they had ever had on the show. I then signed my name on this big gol thing. And another aunty gave me a box with so many toffees... no, chocolates, in it. I haven’t had them yet...We came back on Thursday night...

Right now, I’m too tired to go anywhere. But a few months later, I think I would like to visit Mumbai, again, this time in a train, to meet Amitabh and Derek uncle.


Calcutta, March 2: 
The government may have suddenly become very protective towards heritage, but it seems to be strangely impervious to violations of laws to protect heritage in institutions run by it — namely, Bethune College and School, the oldest educational institutes for women in the land.

Attempts have been on since 1997 to construct an auditorium on the playground there. That plan seemed to have been aborted soon afterwards, because archaeological finds were discovered there. Suddenly, renewed efforts are being made to put it up — even by flouting laws.

The government has declared both buildings as heritage structures. They share a campus and also the playground. The old coach-house used to stand there and it was pulled down that year to make space. Of course, nobody pointed out that it was an assault on history.

Years ago, the plot used to be wasteland. When it was founded in 1849, it was meant for Hindu women alone, and went by the name of either Hindu Female School or Calcutta Female School. It was named after John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune only after the death of the educationist.

The Shimla area used to be a marketplace, and according to archival documents, it was so even way back in 1765. It continued to be in that state till 1905, when on the initiative of then headmaster, Shyama Charan Gupta, the market moved away. The plot was incorporated into the school in 1916. Since 1920, it has served as the playground.

Though the Bethune School authorities were against the plan to construct an auditorium (the plot was the only open space for its girls), in April 1997 the playground began to be dug up to build a 250-seat auditorium for the college with close to 1,000 students. Relations between the college and the school are still strained over this. The excavations yielded artefacts of historical significance, though the directorate of state archaeology has, time and again, cried itself hoarse denying their importance. Building the auditorium was stayed and archaeological excavation was done in two phases — November 1997 to January 1998, and December 1998 to February 1999.

For nearly two years, building activity stopped. Then suddenly this February, there was a flurry around the pit. The contractor, who is building the auditorium, has reportedly prepared its model. Building material began to be piled up near the plot, and it buzzed with activity again.

But a couple of days ago, work stopped again, just as soon as it began. Bonani Kakkar of the NGO, People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC), in a letter dated February 1, had drawn the attention of Debashish Som, commissioner, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), to the building activity in the compound, in contravention of the heritage laws. The plan needed to be okayed by the heritage committee.

Soon, the building department of CMC found out that the Public Works Department (PWD), which is in charge of its construction, had not even bothered to take CMC sanction for putting up the new structure. CMC has served a stop-work notice on PWD.

What is even more surprising, the PWD built a new wing of the school, named Vidyasagar Bhavan, in record time in 1999, after demolishing another school building that dated back to the 1880s. Nobody intervened then either. The principal of Bethune College, Pushpa Mishra, refused to see this correspondent, and instead, stated through an emissary that one should meet the PWD representatives instead.

The headmistress of Bethune School, Chhaya Sengupta, was unable to answer any questions because Wednesday was her last day in school.


Calcutta, March 2: 
In a bid to give south Calcutta a respite from traffic snarls, the South 24-Parganas district administration has undertaken a programme jointly with Metro Railway. The project will take off on Saturday from the Tollygunge Metro Railway station.

The programme will involve traffic regulation on a major scale. After conducting a survey in the area, it has been decided that autorickshaws, Matador vans and Trekkers will be allowed to park only on one side of the road. Hawkers will no longer be allowed to do business on the main road.

Deputy superintendent of police (Town) Subhankar Chatterjee said gradually, Garia, Bagha Jatin, Jadavpur, Bansdroni and Behala will come under the ambit of the programme. The project will be funded by the district administration, with Metro Railway pitching in for the Tollygunge stretch. Officer-in-charge of Behala police station Subir Chatterjee said: “Meetings were held with the local transport operators and political leaders to solve the traffic problem.”

To run the project smoothly, 70 extra constables and 15 special sergeants will be deployed. These sergeants will have the power to prosecute errant drivers which the policemen on duty cannot do. Median lines will be drawn and dividers put up on the main roads. A traffic regulation awareness drive is on the cards, additional district magistrate (development) Utpal Mukherjee said.


Imphal, March 2: 
Manipur health and family welfare minister Nimaichand Luwang has warned of a crackdown on private hospitals and medical institutions which do not conform to official specifications in terms of infrastructure and quality of service.

Luwang, a doctor by profession, said at a function here yesterday that a medical college could be established only in accordance with the rules framed by the Medical Council of India. He expressed displeasure over the fact that some medical institutions in the state were violating these rules.

Sources said a few medical and nursing colleges had been illegally established in the state. The W. Nipamacha Singh government overlooked the problem, but the People’s Front government is doing the reverse, they said.

Luwang is reportedly contemplating closing down all such institutions unless the Medical Council of India certifies these as legal. The number of private hospitals and nursing homes in this capital town has increased manifold over the past few years. Most of these hospitals do not have the infrastructure required to provide the best possible treatment to patients. The doctors who examine patients in these institutions are mostly attached to government hospitals.

Luwang said private hospitals flouting the Manipur Nursing Act would face stringent steps. He said the health department could not allow private hospitals without proper infrastructure to operate. In a statement last year, Governor Ved Marwah expressed unhappiness over government surgeons performing operations in private hospitals.

A doctor posted at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences was later pulled up when a patient he had operated upon at a private hospital died. The case was taken up by the Manipur Human Rights Commission.

Luwang said yesterday that apart from salaries, government doctors were being paid non-practising allowances. “But many doctors treat patients privately despite being paid non-practising allowances. This is illegal,” he added. The health minister said he would try to stop the trend of government doctors practising in private hospitals. “Those who still want to treat patients privately should not accept non-practising allowances,” he said.

On scarcity of specialists in the hill districts of the state, Luwang said the new government would take steps to ensure that each hill district had at least one specialist.

He said specialists could be sent to the hill districts “on rotation”, with each posting lasting three months. “I urge doctors not to shirk responsibility and avoid working in the remote areas,” he added. The health minister disclosed that the Japanese government had agreed to construct a hospital in Manipur and sanctioned Rs 4 crore for the purpose. However, construction is yet to begin as the previous state government failed to select a proper site for the hospital. Luwang said he would do the needful soon.


Guwahati, March 2: 
The CPM today took strong exception to a revelation by the ruling Asom Gana Parishad that it was holding parleys with partners of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance for a poll tie-up.

CPM leaders also denied claims by the AGP that the Left parties were taken into confidence before discussions were held with NDA partners.

“Our party is yet to hold any discussion with the AGP about the coming Assembly elections. If the AGP has been holding discussions with any other party on any electoral understanding, then they have been doing it on their own and we were not told about it,” CPM central committee member Uddhab Barman today said in a sharp reaction to the AGP declaration.

AGP vice-president Nurul Hussain yesterday said his party has been holding parleys with NDA partners in the state.

Hussain also claimed that the AGP had taken both the Left parties into confidence about initiating parleys with NDA partners in Assam for a poll tie-up.

Hussain told newsmen that both the Left parties are opposed to a tie-up with the BJP but they have no objection to the AGP holding discussions with any NDA partner. The AGP leader, however, ruled out any truck with the BJP. If the reaction of the CPM to the AGP holding discussions with the NDA partners is any indication, then the Left party is still not convinced about the ruling party’s declared stand towards the BJP. Cracks surfaced in the four-party ruling coalition after the AGP youth wing invited Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam to address a rally in the city.

Incidentally, the AGP youth wing also invited leaders of several other NDA partners to the rally but the two Left parties were not invited.

The cracks in the four-party alliance widened after the two AGP members in the Rajya Sabha voted in favour of the BJP on a motion relating to the Babri Masjid issue.

The Left parties took strong exception to this stand of the AGP parliamentarians. Chief minister and AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, however, justified the party MPs’ stand, saying that the AGP had opposed the motion as it was brought by the Congress.

Following these developments, both the CPM and the CPI had demanded that the AGP should clarify its stand on the BJP. The AGP later described the BJP’s politics “to be against secularism and unity” in its political resolution adopted at the Nagaon conference.

Road blockade: The Assam unit of the Youth Congress will block roads in all district headquarters on March 12 in protest against railway minister Mamata Banerjee’s alleged indifference towards the Northeast in general and Assam in particular.


Agartala, March 2: 
The Tripura Assembly has expressed unhappiness over the new railway budget which was discussed by the House today. The Assembly also resolved to appeal to the Centre to hike the allocated amount of Rs 40 crore for speedy completion of the 108.5-km railway track connecting Kumarghat in North Tripura and the state capital.

Initiating his private member’s resolution, CPM legislator Samir Deb Sarkar said the allocation of Rs 40 crore for the project in the current budget for the next financial year came as a “shock” as the total cost of the project was Rs 875 crore. Last year too, the amount allocated was the same, he added.

Transport minister Sukumar Barman and CPM legislator Khagendra Jamatya also slammed the Centre as well as Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee for “ignoring Tripura”.

Attributing the puny allocation to the Union railway minister’s lack of awareness about the state of Railways in Tripura, they stated that the completion of the railway project was crucial to the state’s development.

However, striking a discordant note, Tripura Upajati Juba Samity MLA Rabindra Debbarma said the much-hyped railway line connecting North Tripura and the capital could give easy passage to Bangladeshi infiltrators and outsiders.

He referred to similar opposition to railway extension in Meghalaya and said the state could do without the rail line to save the indigenous tribals from being swamped by outsiders.

In his reply, chief minister Manik Sarkar deplored the Union railway minister’s failure to honour her commitment in regard to budgetary allocation for the development of Railways in Tripura.

The chief minister also said he had spoken to Mamata Banerjee before the budget was placed, requesting her to increase the allocation. He said development in railway infrastructure was essential for investment in the state.

The House resolved to make an appeal to the Union government for more allocations for the Kumarghat-Agartala railway project and the 110-km Agartala-Sabroom project, the cost of which at current prices has been estimated to be Rs 390 crore.

Biodiversity museum

The biodiversity museum of Gauhati University’s zoology department — which boasts of a variety of fossils from the region’s indigenous species — has enabled students to study the evolutionary sequences of fossils in the Northeast, reports our Guwahati correspondent.

As another feather in its cap, the museum, because of the shift from “taxonomic to field-level studies”, has graduated from a department museum to a general biodiversity one. It was started in 1963 for the benefit of the students and researchers in the subject.


Agartala, March 2: 
The five-day deadlock over proceedings in Tripura Assembly showed signs of ending today as Speaker Jiten Sarkar withdrew the suspension order slapped on three Congress legislators for unruly conduct in the House yesterday.

The Congress has been demanding that inspector-general of police (intelligence) Kishore Jha be reprimanded for his alleged misconduct with Congress MLAs in the House on February 23.

Yesterday, three MLAs, Sudip Roy Barman, Ratan Lal Nath and Dipak Roy, were suspended after they accused the Speaker of being “chieftain of dacoits” and threw potatoes and rotten eggs at him.

Despite withdrawal of the suspension order, the three legislators could not attend the day’s session because of a “communication gap”.

With the entire Congress bench staying away, the day’s proceedings began quietly with chief minister Manik Sarkar bringing in a motion to withdraw the suspension order passed by the Speaker on the three Congress legislators. The motion was passed unanimously and Sarkar ruled that the suspension stood withdrawn.

The officers from the chief minister’s office called on the three MLAs at their homes and apprised them of the withdrawal of the suspension order. But the legislators maintained that they would not attend the House without being aware of the business to be transacted on the day. By the time the relevant papers reached the MLAs, it was 2 pm and they did not come to the House.

However, leader of the Opposition Jawhar Saha hinted that the Assembly would function only five days (Monday to Friday) from next Monday, indicating that things would be normal. Saha said he had sought the intervention of Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi into the impasse.

Sources in the Assembly said following a plea made in the House by veteran Congress MLA Ashok Bhattacharya for ending the deadlock, Sarkar called a meeting with the Congress legislators. Parliamentary affairs minister Keshav Mazumder, Congress MLAs Ashok Bhattacharya, Birajit Sinha and the leader of the Opposition attended the meeting.

The meeting resolved that the Congress Legislature Party will treat the “issue of IGP Kishore Jha’s” assault on them as closed in the spirit of “forgive and forget” and the suspension order on the three MLAs would be withdrawn.

Sarkar, accompanied by Mazumder and Congress MLAs, then met the Speaker and apprised him of the decision reached at the meeting.

The Assembly today functioned normally after five days of bickering.


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