Police probe into Chinese whisper campaign
Girl, hitman held in Maruti murder case
Power plays foul
Heritage tag on Freemason hub
Model code for teachers cleared
Bypass surgery
Basu credits poll win to corporate support
Couple drowns in Digha,
Youth kills friend, self
Mob violence after murder of sex worker

Calcutta, May 26: 
Friday’s fiasco at Netaji Indoor Stadium has left the consumers dejected and the cops worried. A day after hundreds of people gate-crashed the stadium to witness the “Grand Chinese Consumer Fair” and found nothing going on, the city police have decided to initiate a probe to find out who started the Chinese whisper campaign.

Sources in the anti-cheating section of the detective department said the police have hit upon two companies after scrutinising the pamphlets, carrying the price list of the Chinese products, which had been distributed in the city.

“One is a Bangalore-based company dealing in electronic goods while the other is Mumbai-based, called Shangrilla Electronics and Automobiles,” the the police said.

“It could have become a major law and order problem. We’re lucky that we could dispel the rumour quickly,” said deputy commissioner, headquarters, Raj Kanojia, referring to Friday’s turn of events at the stadium. “Something may come out within a few days,” he added.

Police sources, however, expressed surprise that not a single person could gather the courage to lodge a formal complaint with the Hastings police station.

Meanwhile, shop-owners in the city’s grey markets in Kidderpore and Chandni Chowk admitted that the sale of Chinese goods had abruptly gone up since the rumours started doing the rounds. “Most of our customers are asking for Chinese items. So, goods which were not smuggled in from China are also being passed off as Chinese,” a shop-owner said.

“Most imported Chinese electronic goods are sold in bulk to the bigger companies,” said Pritimoy Chatterjee, manager of an import-export company. These companies then distribute the products as freebies with other items of sale, he explained.


Calcutta, May 26: 
After combing central Calcutta and the eastern suburban division throughout Saturday, police finally tracked down two members of the gang involved in the murder of 24-year-old Sanjeev Jhulka, alias Bunty, last week inside a Maruti car.

The city police picked up Sanam, alias Sana Ahmed, who provided the female interest in this love story gone wrong, from a hideout in the Taltala area on Saturday afternoon. The South 24-Parganas police raided a house in the Tiljala police station area and arrested Fatman, alias Clive Fernandez Brookes, one of the killers.

Three pipeguns and 10 rounds of ammunition were recovered from Fatman. Police identified the 25-year-old resident of Park Street as the henchman of Gabbar, a gangster.

The arrested duo has confessed to the killing during interrogation. Trisha, the other female member, Gabbar and Ranvijay Rathore are still at large. The city police and the district police are conducting raids in and around the city.

Gyanwant Singh, additional superintendent of police, industrial, said: “A triangle comprising Ranvijay Rathore, Sanam and Bunty led to the killing. Gabbar was engaged by Ranvijay, son of a multinational executive,” said Singh.

Sanam told police they never planned to kill Bunty. “We wanted to teach him a lesson. But during the scuffle inside the car, Gabbar suddenly pulled the trigger of his revolver. The bullet pierced his chest and the body of the car. When we realised that Bunty was dead, Gabbar stopped the car and dumped his body on the Bypass,” she said. Then they drove to Chowringhee Lane, where they abandoned the vehicle.

Sanam, daughter of a businessman in the Taltala area, frequented discos. “She was not from a rich family. So she used to make herself available to support her lifestyle,” said a police officer.

The four met in a disco in south Calcutta. Then they started meeting frequently. The gangsters are drug addicts and hard drinkers.

According to the arrested duo, Bunty had a tiff with Sanam last Sunday as he could not bear her relationship between with Ranvijay. Bunty slapped Sanam. Next day, the girl complained to Ranvijay. Since he was already acquainted with Fatman and Gabbar, he contacted them to teach Bunty a lesson.

On the day Bunty was murdered, Sanam and her friend Trisha called Bunty and they had dinner together at a restaurant in Chinatown. After they had had dinner, Gabbar along with his henchman Fatman stormed the restaurant and bundled off Bunty into his car. Ranvijay, Sanam, and Trisha too accompanied Gabbar.


Calcutta, May 26: 
Power-cuts continued unabated on Saturday even as the city continued to reel under a severe heat wave. However, the Alipore met office held out hope of relief from the hot spell with a forecast of thunder and rains within 15 days.

Though reports of prolonged load-shedding poured in from all corners of the city and the suburbs, CESC officials denied knowledge of any shortfall.

“Power-cuts in Lake Town and parts of Howrah are all due to local faults,” said a CESC official, adding that the situation had returned to normal. “All the faults were repaired within three hours,” the official added.

A WBSEB spokesperson, however, said that the primary cause of the frequent load-shedding was transformer failure.

“In most cases, the transformers burst due to illegal tapping. Moreover, the weather is so hot and humid that it increases the risk to the machine which is already heated up by overload,” said a WBSEB spokesperson, adding that the board does not have an adequate stock of transformers and hence cannot replace a damaged one immediately.

Alipore met office director R.N. Goldar said monsoon is expected by June 7. “The weather is uncomfortable now as the mercury has touched the 36 degree Celsius mark and relative humidity is more than 60 per cent. he explained.


Calcutta, May 26: 
A prime property on Park Street has been freed from the clutches of realtors. A special committee of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation has recently granted heritage status to the Freemasons’ Hall at 19, Park Street. This is the address of the District Grand Lodge of Bengal, the headquarters of the Masonic movement in the region.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee visited the historic premises, next to Park Hotel, on Saturday and was impressed by the structure. Though the international fraternity started in India in the 18th century, the Freemasons’ Hall was built in 1911 on the nearly two-acre premises.

“I had no idea that such a building with huge halls and magnificent ceilings existed here,” Mukherjee said, while touring the “inner temples” of the Lodge. Being a student of archaeology, he evinced interest in the construction and design of the building.

The District Grand Master of the Lodge of Bengal, Iqbal Ahmed, and other office-bearers, while welcoming the mayor, said they had passed through a very difficult period (since 1984) trying to safeguard the property from real estate developers. Court intervention had to be sought when the CMC had at one time given clearance for construction on the basis of false information. “Now that the property is declared a heritage structure, the building is safe,” Ahmed said.

An appeal was made to the mayor to reduce the tax imposed on the premises. After recent hikes, the Lodge has to pay Rs 1.1 lakh annually. Mukherjee promised to look into the matter.

As per available records, the first Lodge in India to be constituted under the United Grand Lodge of England was Lodge Star in 1740. It was formed by Freemasons of the parent English lodge. There are now 15 daughter lodges under the District Grand Lodge of Bengal, the administrative jurisdiction of which covers Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and West Bengal.

The Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons is descended from the association of “operative masons” who were the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages. The organisation began in 1717 in England when cathedral building was on the decline.

and the “operative or free masons” started to accept members from outside their craft. The basic purpose is to make “better men out of good men” by strengthening the character of the individual.


Calcutta, May 26: 
Governor Viren J. Shah, who is also the chancellor of Calcutta University, has recently given his assent to the code of professional ethics for teachers working in 68 colleges in the city affiliated to the university.

As a result, college teachers are now bound to do examination duty, including invigilation at examination centres and examining answerscripts.

Apart from the 68 colleges in the city, 36 colleges in North 24-Parganas, 28 colleges in South 24-Parganas, 31 colleges in Howrah and seven colleges in Hooghly will come under the purview of the code. It allows colleges and universities to take punitive measures against teachers for refusing to examine answerscripts or do any other examination-related work.

Calcutta University vice-chancellor Ashis Banerjee said all 68 colleges have already been informed about the chancellor’s assent to the code and sent copies through courier service. “The code has already been implemented in all the colleges affiliated to the university,” said Banerjee.

Under the new code, college teachers will have to attend classes five days a week and work for five hours daily.

Henceforth, each teacher will have to sign the attendance register, mentioning times of arrival and departure. College authorities can initiate disciplinary measure against a teacher for irregular attendance or early departure.

The chancellor had attended the annual budget meeting of the Calcutta University Senate on March 28. At the meeting, some CPM Senate members had criticised Shah for not giving his assent to the code of ethics which the university had referred to him in August 2000. As per his promise at the meeting, Shah cleared the code soon after.

Syndicate member Anil Bhattacharjee said they welcomed Shah’s decision to give his assent to the code of ethics, which, he said, will help college authorities conduct examinations and run the institutions properly.

The government has set up a one-man committee, comprising former Calcutta University vice-chancellor Ramen Poddar, to formulate a similar code for teachers of state-run colleges.

The Poddar committee is expected to submit its report soon.


Calcutta, May 26: 
Anandalok Hospital in Salt Lake announced on Saturday that it would conduct heart bypass surgery for Rs 45,000.

Hospital founder secretary D.K. Saraf said the service would be available by September 15, by which time special equipment, including a cath lab, would be installed. A sum of Rs 2 crore is being spent on the machinery and the operation theatre. The hospital already has a 90-bed ICCU, where the charge is Rs 75 per day.

Asked how he was able to provide modern health care at such low cost, Saraf said he was keeping margins at the lowest. He was also receiving donations from persons who have benefited from the hospital.


Calcutta, May 26: 
Jyoti Basu today said the Left Front came to power for the sixth consecutive term because it was backed not only by the working class, but also industrialists.

The former chief minister was addressing the first victory rally organised by the Calcutta district Left Front at Shahid Minar this evening.

The difference this time was not only in the venue — previous victory rallies were held in the more spacious Brigade Parade Grounds. Missing were the traditional songs that were presented by the cultural wing of the CPM. Instead, the audience got to hear a sehnai rendition by Asmat Hossain and his troupe. Colourful crackers were also a part of the victory rally.

Basu said the Trinamul and Congress were aware they would lose because it was not possible for the people of Bengal to provide moral support to any unholy alliance. “But I was sure about our victory. A number of industrialists, many of whom are BJP supporters, met me before the elections and said they wanted the Left Front to come to power again. I asked them why and they said they wanted peace and harmony in Bengal which is favourable for trade and industry to flourish,” Basu said.

“The industrialists told me they were hardly bothered with politics and religion and was only concerned about business. They are convinced that Bengal can help them grow their business,” Basu added.

The veteran CPM politburo member also came down heavily on the Trinamul Congress. “They wanted a mahajot to defeat us. but they failed to do so and made a n electoral pact with the Congress,” Basu said.

Without naming Mamata Banerjee, Basu said Trinamul leaders wanted imposition of President’s rule in the state before the elections because they thought the Central rule would help them to win the elections.

“But people of our state have rejected them because common people don’t want any unholy alliance between political parties,” Basu said.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was hopeful about getting cooperation from the Opposition parties. “I expect moral support from those who have not voted for us. Because we have to solve the most difficult problem of unemployment.”

He added: “The Centre is planning to close down 12 textile mills, four jute mills and 56 coal mines in our state. There is no doubt that closure of these units will increase the problem of unemployment. It is very difficult for a state government to solve the problem of unemployment because of our limitations. Still we will try hard.

“The Centre is also trying to abolish the public distribution system. But we have to maintain it in our state at any cost for the benefit of poorer section,” he said.


Digha, May 26: 
A man, his wife and 11-year-old son were washed into the sea this morning when waves as high as 20 feet crashed on the beach. The child is in critical condition at a hospital here, but his parents drowned.

Police said the bodies of Amaresh Dhar (42) and his wife Papia’s bodies were washed back on the beach. The three had come from Calcutta on Friday night and put up at Hotel Saikatabas.

Eyewitnesses said a towering wave crossed the guard wall, gushed towards the shore, and dragged the three away — all, in a flash. Nuliahs immediately dashed into rescue, but the sea was too fast. They only managed to save Anupal.

Local people said the sea had never been so rough this year. Soon after the accident, police began to make announcements, asking tourists not to venture into the sea, especially near Hotel Sea Hawk in Old Digha. “But they (tourists) were in no mood to listen to our advice,” OC, Digha police, Sudhansu Dey, said.

The weekend holiday resort had become crowded as people went to the seaside in large numbers to beat the heat.

“Old Digha is dangerous for tourists now,” said Dey. “We don’t advice anyone to take a bath there. New Digha is a better place. But tourists don’t listen. They have this fascination for Old Digha.”

Tourists, however, complained about the near absence of nuliahs on beaches, unlike in other seaside resorts.


Calcutta, May 26: 
A youth, after killing his friend during a late-night drunken brawl, committed suicide in Tarkeshwar last night.

Police said Robin Satra (30) and Basu Midra (32) were “childhood friends”. They were drinking at a bar on Friday night. “A quarrel broke out between them,” said a police officer.

Basu started hitting Robin with a car jack. Robin fell to the ground and Basu fled, leaving his friend lying in a pool of blood. Robin was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead.

When Basu learnt of his friend’s death, he locked himself in a room and committed suicide.


Midnapore, May 26: 
Police fought a pitched battle with the local people who put up a blockade for hours at Mahishadal in Midnapore to protest against the murder of a woman this afternoon.

Police had to lathicharge when over 2,500 people attempted to set on fire the jeep they were travelling in after damaging it with stones and brickbats. Eyewitnesses said at least 20 people, including women, were injured in the violence. They were rushed to the Haldia sub-divisional hospital.

There was no movement of traffic between Mechada and Haldia as the road blockade continued till late tonight.

Trouble started when the blood-stained body of 22-year-old Hena, a local sex worker, was spotted at a prostitutes’ colony opposite Mahishadal police station. Local people grew agitated when a police jeep went to the spot to bring the body for post-mortem. They gheraoed police officials and damaged the jeep, saying they would not allow the body to be taken away till the culprit was arrested.

Kushal Mitra, officer-in-charge of Mahishadal police station, said police had to lathicharge when the mob turned violent and started pelting stones at policemen.

But local people claimed police had not acted despite knowing who the murderer was.

Ganga Maity, an aged woman in the locality, said women would gherao the police station, demanding the removal of the prostitutes’ colony from the area. “Local policemen are against the removal of the colony as they earn money from there,” alleged Swapan Mondal, a resident of the area.

Additional superintendent of police, Haldia, Sishu Ranjan Pal, who rushed to the spot later in the evening, tried to persuade the local people to lift the blockade but to no avail. “We will not lift the blockade until the demands are met,” said Anadi Maity.

Hundreds of lorries loaded with essential goods remained stranded as the blockade continued. Senior officials are camping in the area.

Pranab visits Sabong

Pradesh Congress president Pranab Mukherjee today visited Sabong where hundreds of Congress workers were victims of post-poll violence.

Accompanied by Somen Mitra, Pradip Bhattacharya, Atish Sinha and Manas Bhunia, Mukherjee reached Sabong in the afternoon. He visited the Congress camp where several party workers had taken shelter after being allegedly driven out of their villages by CPM supporters.

Mukherjee said the party will soon line up a statewide agitation programmes to protest against atrocities unleashed by the CPM.

Bhunia also blamed a section of the Trinamul Congress for his defeat in Sabong. He said there were no Trinamul workers to campaign for him in any of the 13 gram panchayat areas.


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