Suicide after love turns sour
Designer dreams turn to dust
Constable run over by bus
Coercion drives realtors to cop door
Arrest alert over lift death
Open-air lair for zoo lions
Net, e-mail on the phone
Manipur outfit turns down ceasefire offer
NLFT ‘minister’ killing confirmed
Opp. trashes starvation death report

Calcutta, March 20: 
She was bright, beautiful and ambitious. She also came from one of the city’s more famous families.

The only mistake that 27-year-old Kakoli Mullick, a descendent of Raja Rajendralal Mullick, made was in developing a relationship with Anup Saha, a young and dashing tea garden owner.

On March 12, Kakoli set herself on fire in front of Saha’s Shakespeare Sarani residence, frustrated at his “indifference” and for having led her into “a life of misery”. On Monday, she succumbed to her injuries at a city nursing home, leaving behind three suicide notes. An accountant by profession —- Kakoli had cleared her chartered and cost accountancy intermediate levels — she was working with a city stock-broking firm.

It was while doing her articleship at a city chartered accountancy firm that Kakoli met Anup Saha. For the next five years, her life went on an “emotional roller-coaster” ride. But when Anup kept on avoiding the issue of marriage, things started going “drastically wrong” for Kakoli, and her troubles began.

In one of her suicide notes, Kakoli writes: “Anup took Rs 5 lakh from me on the pretext of setting up a joint business. For the past five years that we have been going around... he exploited me and (I got exploited) in the hope that we will get married in November this year.”

But even this turned out to be an illusion, for Kakoli mentions in her suicide note: “When I wanted a commitment from him and my father wanted to set the marriage date, he began to hedge. We had bitter arguments and I realised that Anup was trying to avoid me. When I confronted him, he bluntly told me that he did not have any feelings for me any longer and suggested that we just remain friends.”

It was then that she felt that her life wasn’t worth living any longer. On March 12, she went to Anup’s Shakespeare Sarani residence to bid him a “final goodbye”. But, her family members claim, she was driven out on to the road, where she calmly set herself on fire.

The suicide notes found in her handbag were addressed to her father, mother and Anup. The police recovered them after she was admitted to a hospital, and then shifted to a nursing home, where she suffered for the next seven days.

The detective department of the city police has taken up the probe from Tuesday, after the Shakespeare Sarani police registered a murder case against Anup.

“We are on the lookout for Anup but he is absconding since the incident,” said deputy commissioner of police (south), Ranjit Pachnanda. “He may have gone to his tea gardens in Assam. We have already got in touch with the Assam police in this connection.”

Kakoli’s father, Ashok Mullick, who stays in Creek Row’s ‘Mullick Bari’, said: “We were opposed to our only child’s relationship with Anup. But she seemed so deeply in love with him that there was very little we could do to stop her. Finally, see what a tragedy it all turned out to be.”


Calcutta, March 20: 
They had been sold a dream of becoming “top-grade fashion designers” for an admission fee varying between Rs 16,000 and Rs 20,000, followed by “another Rs 25,000, in parts,” during the course.

With the dream fast turning to dust, the students have decided to fight back.

Fed up with “continuous deferment of examinations” and “various other academic irregularities”, students of Anima fashion institute took to the streets of Bhowanipore, protesting “apathy and fraud” on Tuesday.

“‘Anima Animates Your Dreams’ is their tall claim. In reality, the authorities aren’t even bothered about providing minimum facilities to the students,” alleged one of the girls assembled in front of the principal’s office on Elgin Road. The girls, who gheraoed principal Amal Ghosh, were demanding “immediate refund” of their fees. They even threatened to lodge a case of “cheating” against the authorities at the local police station.

“We have been tolerating this nonsense for the past two years. But we lost our patience on Tuesday. The authorities had announced that the fashion and textile designing exams would be held at 1 pm. We reached the institute on time and waited for over two hours, but no one turned up to conduct the tests. This was the last straw,” said one of the students.

“When we came for our exams, we found that the entire campus was without electricity. The only thing the authorities do on time is collect the fees. The infrastructure is poor, the faculty inadequate and the exams are deferred continuously, giving the authorities the excuse to keep on extending our term and charge extra fees. How can the authorities behave in this manner with students?” demanded another girl.

Ghosh, principal of Anima, however, brushed aside the allegations. “The institute is a reputed one and has been running for the past seven years without a single complaint from the students about lack of infrastructure. The examinations on Tuesday had to be deferred due to a power problem. This is a temporary hitch, which will be resolved soon.”

But the angry students were not to be pacified. “We refuse to be taken for a ride any longer. The authorities will have to change the way they function, refund our fees or face the consequences,” warned a girl. The students further alleged that several of their seniors had not been awarded their diplomas, despite repeated reminders to the authorities.

Anima, which conducts various courses in fashion designing, textile designing and interior decoration, is run by a private body. It has four branches in the city, with each catering to around 150 students. The duration of the courses at the institute vary between 12 and 18 months.


Calcutta, March 20: 
A 57-year-old traffic constable was killed early on Tuesday near the Shyambazar five-point crossing when a speeding bus of the Calcutta State Transport Corporation knocked him down. The victim was identified as Arun Kumar Ghosh, a resident of Bagbazar.

The accident occurred early on Tuesday while Ghosh, who was off duty, was crossing Mohan Lal Street on his way back from a nearby market. The driver of the bus failed to slam the brakes in time to avoid hitting Ghosh, who was crushed under its wheels.

Immediately after the accident, the bus driver drove his vehicle to Shyampukur police station and surrendered.

As news of the mishap spread, residents blocked the road, demanding stern action against the driver. The sudden roadblock set off a massive traffic snarl in the peak hours. A number of Higher Secondary examinees and office-goers were stranded. The residents gheraoed the policemen who arrived to clear the blockade. They demanded that a traffic policeman be posted in the area.


Calcutta, March 20: 
Stalked by extortionists, realtors of south Calcutta have turned to the police for protection. Led by the City Developers Forum, around 40 builders met officers-in-charge and assistant commissioners of 13 police stations, at the office of the deputy commissioner of police, south, late on Monday.

In the “confidence-building exercise”, the realtors sought an assurance from the police that prompt action would be taken when they were in trouble. The developers, rattled by a series of coercion cases, topped by builder Biswanath Ghosh being abducted from Southern Avenue at gun-point on Monday, expressed fear of escalation in extortion in the run-up to the Assembly polls.

Late on Tuesday, the police said that kidnappers had set Biswanath Ghosh free. “Following day-long raids conducted by personnel of Lake police station, the realtor was released. His condition is okay. Raids are continuing to round up the gang,” said DC, south, Ranjit Pachnanda.

The bridge-building exercise on Monday served as a platform for the police and the realtors to put their heads together. “At Monday’s meeting, we suggested that a rapid action special task force be formed to tackle the menace of extortion and also to ensure that the criminals don’t wriggle out on bail easily,” said a representative of the Forum.

Assuring the realtors of “all possible help”, Pachnanda urged them to inform the local thana the moment they receive a threat call. “We have also advised the developers to have caller-line identification installed at their residences and offices. Besides, they must always inform the thana before starting construction on a new project so that the local police can be present on the spot,” said Pachnanda. The police feel these new-wave extortionists are all “budding criminals” who have been trying the resilience of the realtors, waiting for soft targets to crack. So, the prescription from the police was — “Do not panic over threat calls and give in to their demands.”

One of the primary pre-poll fears expressed by the realtors was that in many areas like Ballygunge and Alipore, the extortionists were all politically-motivated. Some ‘cash’ calls, they claimed, came from local councillors, as well. “Often, the threat of a violent backlash from these local goons and politicians dissuades builders from complaining to the police,” admitted a representative of the Forum.

According to Pachnanda, “the 33 tiger mobiles” which patrol the streets of south Calcutta “are adequate” to tackle the problem, provided the local thanas are informed in time. The police have also been laying traps at construction sites for extortionists.


Calcutta, March 20: 
Two persons were arrested on Tuesday in connection with the death of 10-year-old Prakash Mehtani on Park Street on Monday. A senior official of Otis elevators and the caretaker of the apartment in which Prakash lived were held on charges of causing death by negligence of machinery.

Deputy commissioner of police, south, Ranjit Pachnanda said: “Preliminary investigations have revealed that they were responsible for the tragic incident. Necessary action will be taken if more people are found guilty.”

A post-mortem was conducted on Prakash on Tuesday. The report will be available in two or three days, police officials said.

Prakash Mehtani, son of a New Market trader, was killed on Monday evening when the elevator door he was said to be leaning against opened suddenly, sending him plummeting three floors down the lift shaft. He was playing in the lobby on the fifth floor of Ambassador Apartments, at 61/A, Park Street.

Following the incident, mayor Subrata Mukherjee has ordered a probe to find out the persons responsible for the accident.

Mukherjee directed the building department to conduct a survey on elevators in several apartments. A special team, formed on Tuesday, will visit the city buildings, especially the old highrises.

“If we find negligence on the part of the companies entrusted with maintenance of the elevators, action will be taken against them,” said an official of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.


Calcutta, March 20: 
After rhinos, tigers, bears, elephants and primates, it’s the lions’ turn at the Calcutta Zoological Gardens to get an open-air enclosure. And the 122-year-old Burdwan House is being remodelled to house the Asiatic lion.

The animals, at present, are lodged in dark cages beyond the stately verandah of Burdwan House, which was inaugurated in 1879. The Central Zoo Authority, which stressed the need for keeping the zoo animals in their natural habitat, has granted Rs 52 lakh for the plan.

Zoo director A.K. Das said the facade of Burdwan House would be preserved as a heritage symbol. The cage bars will be replaced with windows, so that visitors can sit on the verandah for viewing. A semi-circular moat will be dug up behind for the enclosure. At present, eight lions, including two year-old cubs, are housed in the city zoo.

“Unlike the tigers, the lions can be released in the enclosure for viewing,” Das said. This will be possible as lions move in prides, unlike tigers, which are solitary by nature.

With one more open-air big cat enclosure on the cards, the zoo authorities are wary about intrusion by visitors. Two young men were mauled to death by tigers in 1998 and 2000, after they had intruded into the enclosure.

“We have adequate security arrangements in the zoo. Barbed wire fences are being erected in the new white tiger enclosure. The lions, too, will be well-protected,” Das asserted.

Burdwan House, which is located across Ezra House and houses the zoo’s giraffe family, has had a chequered past.

Twenty years ago, two tigers had escaped from the House, which was then under construction. The city police commissioner ordered their execution for public safety. A possé of policemen climbed on to rooftop of Burdwan House and killed the two tigers holed up nearby.

In the late 1960s, Shaitan, a lion, mauled his keeper to death in Burdwan House. The keeper had entered the cage to clean it when Shaitan pounced on him.

In 1972, Burdwan House exhibited the first surviving tigon in the world. Subsequently, crossbreeds like the litigon also attracted thousands to Burdwan House.


Calcutta, March 20: 
Calcuttans will soon be able to send e-mails and surf the Internet through a pay-phone. The concept is already working in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, say representatives of ZIP Telecom.

Over the last two months, 200 ZIPFones have been installed by franchisees all over the city, while another 90 units are in the pipeline. Since February 1999, 10,000 such phones have been in use in 25 cities in the country. Calcutta is the first in the east. “Within a month, these phones will be upgraded to provide facilities like e-mails, voice-mails and Internet surfing,” said Shekhar Wadke, general manager (east).

“The typical pay-phone will be replaced by multi-utility units. This will help over 80 per cent of the population, who can’t have connections at home,” said company president Shishir Lall.

The instrument, developed and manufactured in India, has a global patent. Its built-in, six-inch LCD panel displays usage instructions, rates and billing details, as well as advertisements. A membrane keyboard, provided by the company, will have to be attached. Customers will then be able to send e-mails at just Rs 5, Lall said.


Imphal, March 20: 
The banned Revolutionary People’s Front — the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army — has rejected both the government and the Army’s ceasefire offer. The RPF said it would continue its struggle until the Centre ends its “colonial rule” in the state.

Another rebel outfit, the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, had earlier rejected the ceasefire offer. Both outfits are constituents of the Manipur People’s Liberation Front.

The outfit’s rejection comes a day after Governor Ved Marwah announced the setting up of a contact group to liaison with insurgent outfits of the state. In his address to the Assembly yesterday, he said the group would comprise eminent persons who will establish contact with the outfits before formal talks begin.

The Radhabinod Koijam-led government had announced a unilateral ceasefire with all militant groups operating in Manipur during the month of March on account of Yaoshang (Holi).

The Governor’s said it would not be easy for the insurgent groups to respond immediately to the unilateral ceasefire and appeal for talks. He said steps have been taken to involve all political parties in the process of ushering in peace and development in the state.

“The people have suffered for too long. My government is committed to break the impasse and strive unitedly for restoration of peace and normalcy,” he said. Marwah hoped that the people would respond favourably and support the government’s stand.

The response from the rebels to the government’s unilateral ceasefire has not been satisfactory though the chief minister claimed that there have been no serious violation of the ground rules. Chief of the RPF’s communication and publicity department, M. Lalhaba, however, termed the truce a meaningless exercise.


Agartala, March 20: 
Police today confirmed the death of the National Liberation Front of Tripura’s self-styled “defence minister” Utparna Tripura last week.

NLFT “commander” Nayanbasi Jamatya has stated in fax messages sent to local dailies that the outfit’s “official” faction, comprising leaders like Mantu Koloi, Dhanu Koloi, Biswa Mohan Debbarma, had engaged Utparna Tripura to “eliminate” him.

Tripura as well as another cadre reached the camp where Nayanbasi was staying but were shot dead. Nayanbasi recently fled the outfit’s headquarters in Thangnan area under Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh along with a large group of followers.

Inspector general of police (law and order) K. Salim Ali confirmed the death of Utparna Tripura. A resident of Dhooma Cherra area of Dhalai district, Tripura was a former rebel of the Tripura National Volunteers. He had surrendered in September, 1988. However, after availing of rehabilitation benefits, he joined the NLFT and rose to the rank of “defence minister”. He was behind the abduction of senior political leaders.

Two abducted: Police recovered the decomposed body of a tribal youth, who had been missing since March 13 in South Tripura.

Sources said Tejendra Tripura, a resident of East Pilak village in the district went missing from the Rangacherra area. His body was recovered by a police party from the Baikhora police station following disclosures by six arrested persons that he had been killed and buried there.

In a separate incident, suspected National Liberation Front of Tripura rebels kidnapped two non-tribals — Saumitra Sarkar and Dulal Debnath — from the Manu-Chhailengta road in Dhalai district yesterday.


Bhubaneswar, March 20: 
Opposition members in the Orissa Assembly today trashed the report of the special relief commissioner on the alleged starvation death of a woman in Bolangir district, terming it “erroneous and influenced by the government.”

Special relief commissioner Hrusikesh Panda, in his inquiry report, has said that the death of Premasheela Bhoi was not due to starvation, but due to “anaemia and other diseases.”

During the last Assembly session, the government had asked Panda to inquire into Bhoi’s death after the Opposition stalled proceedings demanding a thorough inquiry into the issue.

Congress MLA from Kantabanjhi, Santosh Singh Saluja, in whose constituency Bhoi’s village is situated, poked holes in the report. Listing the lacunae of the report, Saluja pointed out that the report says nothing about Bhoi’s post mortem report.

Pointing out another “glaring error,” he said that while the death occurred on December 1 last year, how did the commissioner know about on November 3, as mentioned in his report. He demanded a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the Orissa High Court into the death. Leader of the Opposition Ramakanta Mishra and Congress legislator Suresh Routray also supported Saluja’s demand for a judicial probe.

However, revenue minister Biswabhusan Harichandan dismissed the Congress demand for a judicial probe.

Murder attempt: Panic spread in the Bhubaneswar court premises this morning when a litigant of a nearby village was attacked by his neighbour with a sharp weapon. The victim, however, survived and is being treated at a local hospital.

Police said Choudhury Debashis Das of Bhingarpur village in Balianta police station was attacked by Sharat Bhoi of the same village when Das was talking to his lawyer. Bhoi, who is reported to have a running feud with Das over land, dealt sharp blows on Das with a katuri. The lawyers overpowered Bhoi and handed him over to the police.


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