After roof collapse, campus cave-in
Trinamul man falls to bullets
Arms trail leads to Dubai
Performance makes the teacher
Miscreants disconnect couplings to stall trains
Boy lets in dacoits
Raid nets six goons, arms
Kukis abduct Naga leader in Manipur
Tripura law invalid, says court
UGC rules on college teacher posts flouted

Calcutta, March 17: 
A year and a half ago, a research scholar of Calcutta University’s botany department, housed on the Ballygunge Science College campus, was killed after a portion of the roof, along with a drainpipe, collapsed on him.

Now, once again, death is.lurking on the campus, this time in the corridors of the geology department. Only, this time, it’s not the roof, but the ground under one’s feet that is slipping away.

Subsidence has hit the entire ground floor of the department, with large cracks and fissures appearing all over, and portions of it already having caved in.

“The situation is alarming,” confessed Arup Mitra, head of the geology department. “There is not a single room or laboratory that has not been affected by the subsidence and a major accident can occur at any moment.” University officials blamed the subsidence on “insufficient and faulty piling work while the foundation of the building was being laid”.

However, they hastened to. add, the seven other floors of the eight-storeyed building were “totally safe”.

Calcutta University science secretary M.K. Sengupta, who is in charge of the building, said the premises had been inspected by the PWD, which had emphasised that the main pillars and the building structure “are in perfect order”.

But the entire geology department, acclaimed as one the best in the country, looks like a “devastated war zone”, says a student.

There are ‘danger’ notices put up on the corridors, warning of the perils of leaning against the shaky walls. A university official said that since the floors had sunk in, the pressure on the walls to remain erect was that much greater.

In fact, in certain places, the walls have started leaning precariously, almost threatening to collapse on any student passing too close by. The university maintenance staff have even closed down the toilets on the ground floor, fearing a mishap.

A caretaker said: “It is an accident waiting to happen. That is why we have shut down not only the toilets but also a laboratory in the eastern wing of the building. I don’t know for how long classes will be allowed on this floor.”

Worried students and staff have decided not to take matters lying down and have petitioned the vice-chancellor on the state of affairs in this department.

“Every time we walk around in the department, there is always the fear that our feet might sink into the ground, injuring us severely,” said Probir Sengupta, a geology research scholar. “We may not die, but we are definitely courting serious bodily harm unless something is done to rectify matters,” he said.

In 1999, Nabakumar Hudati died on the spot after after a massive chunk of the roof, along with a portion of a drainpipe, fell on his head while he was walking along the side of the building. The authorities had then said it was merely a “maintenance problem” and that the building was “safe and sound”. “But,” countered Krishnapriya Basu, another research scholar, “there is not a single place here that is safe and sound.”

Students say the cracks in the geology department had first developed five years ago, but nothing had been done since then.”I don’t think that any one has learnt any lesson from the earlier mishap,” a student said.

Teachers are worried that this “shaky” state of affairs is seriously affecting academics in the institution. “Most of the equipment that we have is very sophisticated and they have to be placed on level ground,” said Pradip Dasgupta, a teacher in the department. “But, given the condition of the floor, the equipment is leaning on one side, leading to erroneous readings. This is definitely hampering academics here.”

Admission test: Students of Patha Bhavan Primary School seeking admission to the Secondary School section will have to appear for admission tests from this year. A resolution to this effect was passed by the managing committee of the Senior section, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.    

Calcutta, March 17: 
Barely 24 hours after the attack on Trinamul Youth Congress state secretary Goutam Barman in north Calcutta, another party worker, Probir Basu, was shot dead at Dum Dum on Monday night. Police have detained two persons in this connection.

On Tuesday evening, when Trinamul leaders Madan Mitra and Sujit Bose visited the bereaved family, the victim’s father begged them “not to politicise” the death of his son. “Probir was never a Trinamul activist... Please leave us alone,” he pleaded.

To protest the murder, the Trinamul Congress observed a 12-hour bandh in Dum Dum on Tuesday. The bandh passed of peacefully but tension ran high in the area. A strong police picket has been posted to maintain peace. The local Trinamul unit alleged that Probir was murdered by CPM activists, though the CPM strongly denied the charge.

All the shops and the local market in Dum Dum were closed on Tuesday. Both Trinamul and CPM workers kept a watch on the situation.

Goutam Barman narrowly escaped an attempt on his life early on Monday morning at Jorasanko. But even on Tuesday, the police could not make any breakthrough in the case.

On Tuesday, after attending a party meeting addressed by the Trinamul candidate Sujit Bose, Probir Basu went back home at Seth Bagan. After dinner, he was playing a game of carrom in a local club. Five armed youth walked in and shot him from close range. He was taken to R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bishnupada Saha, local Trinamul leader, said: “Probir was a sincere worker of the party. Apart from doing party work, he was involved in social projects too. It is difficult for us to believe he is no longer among us.”

Saha said: “Within a few months, three of our party workers have been murdered but the police have failed to make any breakthrough. Earlier, Buro Mondal and Swapan Bera were murdered. But still, the police are in the dark about their assailants. In the name of investigation, they are harassing innocent people of the area. CPM activists are involved in all the murders but they are still at large.”

He added: “We have informed party leader Mamata Banerjee about the incident and the police inaction in arresting the culprits. Things have come to such a pass that it has become difficult for us to continue election campaigns as the cadre are feeling shaky.”

Aloke Sen, local CPM worker, replied to the charge: “Our party workers are not involved in this murder. Probir was murdered as a result of intra-party rivalry. Now, before the elections, they are trying to pin the blame on us. Earlier, there was no reason for the workers of any political party to feel shaky. Ours is not a disturbed area but now, the Trinamul Congress is trying to whip up pre-election passions. We have asked our party workers not to be provoked.” To maintain peace in the area, a strong police picket has been posted. Superintendent of police, Kuldip Singh, and other senior policemen are camping in the area to pre-empt violence.

Singh said: “Two persons have been detained in connection with the murder.”


Calcutta, March 17: 
The arrest of Hamidul Rehman, said to be an associate of mafia don Chhota Shakeel, on Monday afternoon, has sent the police on an arms trail that could extend all the way from the city to Dubai.

Hamidul, an arms dealer hailing from Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, was allegedly smuggling out Ordnance Depot-marked cartridges “from Calcutta to Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow and Dubai, with the help of friends in the paramilitary and Central armoury”. Police recovered 33 rounds of 7.62 Self-Loading Rifle (SLR) ammunition. Hamidul was also dealing in Light Machine Gun (LMG) ammunition, police said.

Sleuths searched Hamidul’s Chandni Chowk hotel room to find Rs 2 lakh stashed in a suitcase. A diary, with “several Dubai cellphone numbers” was also seized. Five of these numbers were traced back to Chhota Shakeel’s Dubai office, the police said.

Deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Banibrata Basu said Hamidul was a frequent visitor to the city. He had befriended goons like Philips of Park Street, Pradip of Park Circus and Javed Khan of Tiljala by offering them “good money” to help him collect and transport the ammunition.

Hamidul had, apparently, checked into the Chandni Chowk hotel on April 9. He then disappeared for two days, before resurfacing on April 13. During this period, he met his local contacts a number of times to clinch the latest arms deal. The 7.62 SLR ammunition was delivered to him on April 14. But Hamidul was “not satisfied” with the shipment and wanted it to be tested.

Time was running out, as Hamidul was supposed to fly off to Delhi on April 17. He spoke to a contact on the morning of the 16th and ordered an SLR, which Pradip was sent to collect. When Pradip called up Hamidul on his cellphone and confirmed that he had the SLR with him, the arms dealer asked him to meet him near Park Circus. But acting on a tip-off, sleuths surrounded the area and arrested Hamidul and Javed even before Pradip arrived on the spot.

According to Basu, Hamidul’s arrest could blow the lid off an international arms racket, as SLRs and LMGs, generally used by specialist combat units like the paramilitary forces, are favoured by militants. “When militants run out of the sophisticated 7.62 cartridges, it is the job of arms dealers like Hamidul to supply the ammunition,” explained a sleuth.


Calcutta, March 17: 

Scene I

Teacher (checking the home work of a Class II kid): The way you have solved this maths problem is not right... please do it again.Student: But, Sir, my father asked me to do it like this.

Scene- II

Student (back home, in tears): Mama, Sir said what Papa taught me was wrong.

Parents: This is too much, we must meet him...

Scene III

Parents (agitated): Why did you tell our son that the method was wrong?

Teacher (calmly): I didn’t say it was incorrect. But he must follow the procedure I’m following in class.

The above scenes are being enacted in a classroom. The actors, including the one playing the Class II student, are all teachers of St James School. The ‘psycho drama’ is part of a teachers’ training programme conducted by the Human Learning Systems, India, an institution “promoting human resources development through counselling, training and consultancy”.

The daylong workshop on “total quality in teaching” aimed at understanding the psychological make-up of a child and using managerial principles to enhance teaching effectiveness, was attended by 65 teachers from all sections of the central Calcutta school. “The need to analyse our own performance and tune it to contemporary needs prompted us to organise the programme,” said T.H. Ireland, principal of St James. Conducted by H.L.S India director Amitabh Mohan and chief co-ordinator Salony Priya, the programme was divided into six critical issues.

These were: team building, active listening skills, pro-active methods of teaching, constructive criticism, teaching-style identification and conflict management. Other aspects, like teacher-parent interaction and managing different types of students, were also addressed, through enactment of scenes of conflict and resolution.

“We studied the profile of the school by taking inputs from the authorities before finalising the training package by blending psychological and HRD concepts,” said Priya who, along with Mohan, has conducted similar programmes in schools across the country.

“It’s, indeed, a rejuvenating process for teachers, who sometimes tend to forget that they can also learn. We would like to participate in such programmes on a regular basis,” chorused teachers Angela Ghose and Quentin Pope.

“The programme aims at making teachers introspect and then incorporate changes, and to create a situation where children are keen to go to school rather than being sent there,” said Mohan.


Calcutta, March 17: 
Unidentified miscreants disconnected couplings between train compartments to disrupt services on the Sealdah South section on Tuesday morning. The disruption lasted from 6.30 am to 10.30 am, severely affecting the office-hour rush and students proceeding to their educational institutions.

Railway police officials said the miscreants spliced couplers at Hotor, Magrahat, Radhanagar and Bahirpura stations. The rakes were detained at these stations for repairs. Four local trains were targeted by the miscreants. However, the police failed to make any arrests and were not sure about the motive behind the disconnection of couplings.

A railway police force has been deployed to tackle the situation. The station masters of Diamond Harbour and Magrahat have filed an FIR with the railway police.

To compound matters, Monday evening’s thunderstorm snapped the overhead power supply lines at several stations. The storm ripped branches and leaves of trees and tossed them against the cables, snapping them at several points.

Electricians from Sealdah division spent hours repairing the wires. Railway officials said a Diamond Harbour local and a Sonarpur-bound local had to be cancelled and two trains terminated at Mograhat and Hotor, respectively. Services were also disrupted in Baruipur, Lakshmikantapur, Canning and Budge Budge.

Warrant for MLA: Ranjan Tiwary, an MLA from Bihar, has been linked to the abduction bid on Asansol-based businessman Rajesh Dharuka. An Asansol court has already issued an arrest warrant against Tiwary, following an appeal from the Burdwan police. Tewary’s name cropped up during interrogation of Imran and Anil, arrested in connection with the abduction case. Dharuka had been rescued by the police within hours of his abduction on Friday.


Calcutta, March 17: 
Dacoits adopted a novel method to break into a three-storeyed house in Sonarpur, ransack it and make off with valuables while its owners were away early on Tuesday.

A slightly-built boy, between 10 to 12 years of age and barely four feet tall, was employed to lead the dacoits into the house of retired government employee Manindra Kumar Nath.

Instead of breaking open the front door overlooking the main road, the miscreants bored a hole, large enough for the boy to squeeze in through, in the back door of the house.

Once inside, the boy climbed up a chair and opened a side door. The operation was completed within three hours and, surprisingly, none of the neighbours had a clue.

The Nath family is presently in Dhanbad, where their son lives. The house was locked for more than a week, police said.

On Tuesday noon, a relative of Nath lodged an informal complaint with the police. A written complaint will be lodged by Nath, who is expected to return from Dhanbad in a day or two.

“We are looking for the boy who led them in. He may belong to the gang or might have been picked up from the locality. We cannot assess the quantity of the robbed items till Nath comes back. Some people who knew the family were, perhaps, involved in this dacoity,” said Rajiv Dutta, officer-in-charge of Sonarpur police station.

Free trippers: South Eastern Railway realised Rs 8.17 million as penalty from ticketless travellers in March.


Calcutta, March 17: 
The police netted six dacoits and a large cache of arms in two late-night swoops on Monday, at Falta and Mandirbazar in South 24-Parganas. The armed men had gathered in the area to carry out a series of dacoities. One of the arrested goons was wanted in connection with a number of bank dacoities.

Deb Kumar Ganguly, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, said, on Tuesday, that the officer-in-charge of Falta police station, Deepak Piplai, had received a tip-off about a gang of goons assembling at Ghola Rajarampur on Monday night.

Piplai immediately surrounded the area with his men. Three dacoits managed to give the police the slip, while the other three were rounded up. The gang leader was identified as Probodh Naskar and among the houses the goons were planning to loot was that of his father-in-law, Ganesh Mondal.

At around the same time, Pratik Dutta, officer-in-charge of Mandirbazar, was informed of five armed men gathering at Nishapur. Dutta led a police posse to the spot and arrested the dacoits before they could carry out their plan. One of them was identified as Jumman Gayen, wanted for several bank dacoities.

“Four revolvers, five country-made revolvers, a musket, five swords, one airgun , 52 bombs and 31 rounds of cartridges were recovered from the six arrested men,” said Ganguly. “The raids will continue, especially in areas like Diamond Harbour, Canning, Basanti, Kultali and Gosaba.”


Imphal, April 17: 
The president of the United Naga Council, the apex body of Naga tribes of Manipur, was abducted today by suspected Kuki militants from National Highway 39 in Kangpokpi subdivision.

The UNC chief, K. Paul Leo, was travelling to Imphal from Karong village in Senapati district in a passenger bus.

Six Kuki militants stopped the bus in which Paul was travelling near Keithelmanbi village at 1 pm. They dragged out Paul and a Sema Naga couple travelling to Imphal from Nagaland. The Naga couple, however, was rescued by Manipur Rifles personnel later. The couple was escorted by Manipur Rifles jawans to Sekmai police station in Imphal West district.

A source, however, said the Sema couple was rescued by Kuki students after negotiating with the militants. They were then handed over to the Manipur Rifles personnel. Paul’s whereabouts are still not known. The news of the abduction has triggered tension between Naga and Kuki tribes. Additional police forces have been rushed to Kangpokpi area from Imphal under the command of deputy-inspector general of police (range) M.A. Rahman. Massive combing operations have been launched in the area to trace the prominent Naga leader.

Sources said the Kuki militants stopped the bus and searched for Naga passengers. The militants identified Paul and the Sema Naga couple. Paul had left his village this morning to attend a meeting of the UNC here tomorrow. He is a powerful Naga leader as he heads the apex body of Manipur Naga tribes.

Tension has been simmering between Nagas and Kukis since Thursday when a joint team of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and Kuki Revolutionary Army militants gunned down seven Kuki villagers of Awang Keithelmanbi village. They were charged with having connections with their rival, the Kuki National Front (Military Council). Armed clashes between KNF(MC) and the combined team of NSCN(I-M) and KRA insurgents have continued in the area since then.

Sources said the militants who abducted the Naga leader belonged to the KNF(MC). Reports from Kangpokpi said the KNF(MC) are demanding that the NSCN(I-M) should stop arming the KRA in exchange of Paul.


Agartala, April 17: 
The failure of the state government to revalidate the Tripura Code of Criminal Procedure Act 1997 after two years, as statutorily required, has led to many people being held in jails without trial.

In a significant ruling, the sub-divisional judicial magistrate of North Tripura’s Dharmanagar sub-division yesterday declared the law as invalid.

Law secretary A.B. Pal and other senior officials, away for a seminar in North Tripura, were not available for comment. The matter has been brought to the notice of the law department and registrar of the Guwahati High Court.

Sources in the law department said the issue had come up before the magistrate concerned in connection with a bail petition of two persons detained under the lapsed Act, which provides for six months of detention without trial.

While hearing the petition, opposed by assistant public prosecutors, Justice N.K. Sinha observed that the amended Act which was given Presidential assent on December 6, 1997 and needed to be revalidated by legislative sanction within three years.

However, despite the fact that there has been at least one Assembly session after the expiry of the Act, it was not taken up by the House.

While granting bail to the two accused and declaring the Act as “invalid” Sinha ruled: “It may not be out of place to mention here that in some other cases also the accused persons are in custody after the expiry of the statutory period as per provision of Section 167 CrPC. Thus, the code of Criminal Procedure Act 1997 is declared invalid”.

Sources said the judgment would have a cascading effect on all cases under the Act as more than 300 accused continued to languish in jails.

The Tripura government had first amended the Act after the June 1980 riots to detain people for three months without trial. Because of relentless insurgent activities and in order to prevent suspected militants from obtaining bail easily, the state government amended the Act again in 1997.


Imphal, April 17: 
Ninety-nine scholars who have been selected for the posts of government college lecturers by the Manipur Public Service Commission last year have not been given appointments by the state government. Though the MPSC gave its recommendation on July 1, 2000, the state higher education department turned a blind eye to the matter.

Sources said that the state higher education department was more interested in regularising part-timers than appointing the recommended candidates. These 99 scholars meet the requirements stipulated by the University Grants Commission and were recommended after clearing the MPSC interviews.

As per UGC rules, only those scholars who have passed National Eligibility Test conducted by the UGC are eligible to be college lecturers. This policy was undertaken to improve the quality of higher education all over the country.

The state government has been flouting UGC rules for many years. Though college lecturers have to be selected through the MPSC, the higher education department has recruited lecturers through ad-hoc and part-time appointments. The MPSC had last appointed lecturers in 1989.

In August last year, the state higher education department regularised the services of 108 part-time college lecturers even after the MPSC recommended 99 other scholars. Though, the Guwahati High Court has stayed the regularisation, sources alleged that the government had given the part-timers pay-slips for drawing their salaries.

Trinamul leaders quit

The Assam unit of the Trinamul Congress today “disintegrated” with the entire executive body deciding to quit en masse in protest against the indifferent attitude of party chief Mamata Banerjee towards the election symbol, reports our Guwahati correspondent.

Angry leaders of the party ransacked their headquarters at Rajgarh Road here this afternoon and destroyed photographs and cutouts of Mamata Banerjee.

The central executive of the state unit of the party met here at a hurriedly convened meeting after the Election Commission told them that the party symbol is reserved only for West Bengal and they would have to contest as Independent candidates in Assam.

Several senior state leaders immediately contacted Mamata Banerjee who advised them to contest independently as suggested by the Election Commission.


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