Anti-crime crusader hacked, shot dead
Call-girl trail to Maruti murder
Shakespeare, Sourav & Software
Blood bank stocks run dry
Climber duo back at Everest base camp
Cross-vote blame for BJP loss
Why old isn’t gold in Digha
Tragedy strikes wedding party
Gang wars survive Konnagar crime sweep
6 die in mishaps

 
 
ANTI-CRIME CRUSADER HACKED, SHOT DEAD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
Shekhar Naskar, 28. A small-time criminal who had turned his back on the world of vice at the behest of his mother. He then went on to lead a campaign against criminals in the crime den of Bishnupur-Thakurpukur, and become a popular figure in the para. On Saturday night, Shekhar was hacked and then shot dead, about half-a-kilometre from his Rajarampur residence.

The reaction was spontaneous and frenzied. Residents of the area stormed the house of two criminals suspected of being involved in the attack on Shekhar.

A mob of around 2,000, several of them women, went on the warpath, cornering Sambhu and Haju in neighbouring Gopalnagar.

The two ‘accused’ were beaten up, and a paltry police contingent from Bishnupur and Thakurpukur police stations was beaten back. The residents on the rampage pelted the police with stones, forcing the outnumbered cops to beat a hasty retreat.

A large contingent of police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) then raided the area with deputy superintendent of police Subhankar Chatterjee and additional superintendent of police Gyanwant Singh. Sambhu and Haju, both bleeding profusely, were rescued from the mob and rushed to Vidyasagar Hospital, where their condition is said to be critical.

Inspector-general of police, south Bengal, R.K. Mohanti, said two other goons, Sufal and Manik, have been arrested in connection with the murder.

According to local residents, Shekhar was involved in criminal activities till his mother forced him to clean up his act. “He was a member of local crimelord Sagar Manna’s gang. But when his mother came to know about this, she forced him to sever all ties with the goons,’’ neighbour Sajal Mondol said.

From then, Shekhar was a reformed young man. “He formed something of a resistance group, comprising local youth, to oppose criminal activities in the area. He was instrumental in leaking information about country liquor dens and extortion rackets to the police... He paid the price for opposing gunda raj in the area,’’ said Gopal Naskar, a friend of Shekhar’s.

On Sunday night, Shekhar had just finished dinner when Sebastian, a friend from Entally, came to meet him. Shekhar left with Sebastian around 11 pm. When he didn’t return till midnight, anxious family members alerted neighbours and set out in search of him. They found Shekhar lying dead near the trench between Rajarampur and Gopalnagar. “His body bore slash marks, and there were two bullet wounds on his chest and head,’’ said Sunil Haldar, a neighbour. The news of Shekhar’s death spread like wildfire in the dead of the night.

Trouble continued till early on Sunday, with criminals reacting to the police and public action by hurling bombs at local residents while fleeing the area.

Later, a large police contingent, accompanied by RAF personnel, brought the situation under control. The area remained tense throughout Sunday, with a strong police picket posted at the trouble spot.

   

 
 
CALL-GIRL TRAIL TO MARUTI MURDER 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
Police are on the trail of a Salt Lake call-girl racket that was patronised by Gabbar and Ranvijay Singh Rathore, both accused of murdering city youth Sanjeev Jhulka on Monday night. They are now on the run.

Investigations revealed that a middle-aged lady from a well-to-do family runs the racket by cellular phone, inspector-general of police, south Bengal, R.K. Mohanti, said. Two women, Trisha Agarwal and Sanam, alias Sana Ahmed, were present when Sanjeev, alias Bunty, was murdered in a Maruti and his body dumped on the Bypass.

The investigations revealed that the lady lured girls from schools and colleges and ran the flesh trade in three apartments in Salt Lake. “We have got some details from Sanam. Officers are cross-checking these leads,’’ a senior police officer said.

The murder took place after Sanam, Gabbar’s girlfriend, complained that Bunty had misbehaved with her. Ranvijay was asked to convince Bunty to accompany him to China Gardens restaurant, in Tiljala, with Trisha and Sanam. Gabbar arrived at the restaurant with an associate, Clive Fernandez Brookes, alias Fatman, and after a bitter argument, shot Bunty. Police on Friday midnight picked up Sanam from Taltala and Fatman from Tiljala.

Mohanti said Sanam told interrogators that Ranvijay, son of a top-ranking executive of a multinational company, and Trisha were seeing each other for the past few months. “He spent a lot of money on Trisha and frequented her Kasba residence. He even convinced her parents that Trisha was employed as a senior worker in a sales firm, which she is not,’’ Sanam told the police.Last Sunday, Sanam broke down several times during interrogation. “I wanted to help Gabbar. I am madly in love with him,’’ she said. Sanam blamed Trisha for the incident. “She instigated me to speak to Gabbar about Bunty’s misbehaviour. Gabbar is very hot-headed and acts on the spur of the moment,’’ she said.

Sanam told the police that Ranvijay had taken a train to Jaipur with Trisha. “We decided to split after the murder. He left for Howrah in a taxi with Trisha. Later in the night, Ranvijay called up Gabbar from his mobile to say that he was leaving for a relative’s house in Jaipur,’’ she said.

Gabbar, Fatman and Sanam returned to the Tiljala-Topsia area. “Gabbar assured us that everything would be all right,’’ she told the police. Initially, Sanam, Gabbar and Fatman were sheltered in a deserted house in Raicharan Ghosh Lane, in the Bansbagan area. She returned to her Taltala residence on Thursday evening. Sources said Gabbar was in Bansbagan on Saturday but escaped minutes before a police team raided the place.

   

 
 
SHAKESPEARE, SOURAV & SOFTWARE 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
From re-creating the England as Shakespeare saw it to the mystery of the cricket-pitch; from molecular biology to computers. Wondering where on earth you could get to know about all these — and more — under one roof?

Well, if you have just given your class-XII exams and are wondering how to make the summer of 2001 more enjoyable and knowledgeable, head straight for the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) campus opposite Jadavpur University. There, the egg-heads have lined up a two-month knowledge-binge, that promises to be fun, too. And, it’s free.

The list of ‘non-science’ lecturers reads like a who’s who of Calcutta’s academic circles. There will be a lecture on Derrida by Jadavpur University’s Supriya Chaudhuri, who says she “isn’t apprehensive” about lecturing future scientists and technologists on “problems dealing with the constitution of human knowledge”. “There’s bound to be some curiosity about what constitutes knowledge and how we go about understanding it in intelligent, young minds,” she added.

Lectures on humanities and a government-funded institute for the promotion of science apparently don’t gel, but inculcating a thirst for learning in young minds is what the IACS scientists are aiming to do. “Appreciation of science does not exclude the humanities,” explains IACS department of theoretical physics professor Jayanta Bhattacharyya. “The decision to keep at least 25 per cent of the lectures exclusively for subjects which are not taught in any science institute was deliberate,” he adds.

So, if there’s a lecture on stock-market fluctuations for the practical-minded, there’s one on the architecture of the Taj Mahal for the aesthete. For the Shakespeare fan, there will be three lectures by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Swapan Chakraborty and Amlan Dasgupta, also members of the JU English faculty. Joy Goswami and Pinakesh Sarkar will be there to explain the nuances of modern Bengali poetry and Khaled Choudhury will be around to bring alive the stage in the young mind. To bring out the music-lover in the 18-year-olds, there will be a lecture on western classical music by Calcutta School of Music’s Prasanta Dasgupta and another on folk songs by Samir Gupta.

Three-fourths of the lectures will be devoted to the latest craze in the field of science, like molecular biology and digital electronics. Hands-on computer sessions is also on the agenda.

But it definitely won’t be all work. The IACS has roped in Eden Gardens curator Prabir Mukherjee to explain how his breed can help Harbhajan Singh get hat-tricks or the ‘prince of Calcutta’ hundreds. There’s also something about the importance of mind-game in cricket, with Debabrata Roy examining how Douglas Jardine managed to motivate his team to try and stop the unstoppable Aussies in the Bodyline Series.

The ‘classes’ (though the IACS faculty would not like to call the lectures that), start from 9.30 am, Mondays to Fridays, till July 6.

   

 
 
BLOOD BANK STOCKS RUN DRY 
 
 
BY AMIT UKIL
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
The CPM state party headquarters has issued a circular, appealing to all regional and local committees in the city and districts to hold blood donation camps as frequently and as early as possible. Stocks at the Central Blood Bank and the banks attached to government hospitals are precariously low, and relatives of several patients are returning empty-handed. Cold operations are being deferred till blood needed during surgery is at hand.

Enquiries on Sunday revealed that the bank at R.G. Kar Hospital had no stocks at all. “We held two camps today and about 100 units have come in. But they will have to be tested and processed before they can be made available,” an official said.

The blood banks at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and National Medical College Hospital were closed, but the superintendent of the former confirmed that stocks were rock-bottom. Even at the Central Blood Bank at Maniktala, patients were being turned away. “Our stocks of AB positive are nil right now, and all the negative groups are also very low,” a senior technician said.

In all, nine camps had been lined up for Sunday. But the rain resulted in a low turnout of donors. “The team that had gone to Nimta came back with only 10 units. The shamiana was leaking after the shower,” the technician said.

Medical Bank, a voluntary organisation that holds blood donation camps, on Friday urged chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to issue an appeal to the public to come forward and donate blood. His response is awaited.

Realising there was an acute shortage, the party has, however, initiated action. In addition to the circular, it will hold a camp at the party headquarters on Alimuddin Street on June 5 to help tide over the crisis. The circular, issued last week, says that in view of the elections, camps regularly held by the youth wings of the party, like the DYFI and the SFI, could not be held. “All units should now help organise camps,” it said.

Stocks are low in private blood banks too. The Lions Blood Bank on Waterloo Street is issuing units only to card-holders. “People should opt for exchange donations, instead of procuring blood against donor cards,” the bank’s medical officer said.

   

 
 
CLIMBER DUO BACK AT EVEREST BASE CAMP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
The great Bengali dream to stand on top of the world has been shattered yet again. Arupam Das, 35, and Ronotosh Mazumder, 36, stopped by an avalanche at 8,000 metres on Mount Everest, returned to base camp on May 25.

Word reached Calcutta on the night of the 26th, when Milan Nag, stationed at the base camp, rang up his elder brother, Dilip.

This, in turn, was conveyed to the families of Arupam and Ronotosh.

At the Das household, disappointment at Arupam’s failure to reach the summit was overshadowed by the relief that he was “all right”. Elder brother Arindam said: “Arupam was always the adventurous kind... And though my wife and I were apprehensive about this Everest expedition, we encouraged him from the beginning, knowing how much this meant to him... The Everest may well be jinxed for Bengal, but the effort that Arupam and Ronotosh put in is commendable. It has given the Bengali something to be proud of.”

The last few days have been harrowing for Arindam and his wife, as the only news they had of the expedition was what filtered in occasionally from Kashyapati, the team’s agents in Nepal. Now, they are eagerly awaiting his return, delayed by the bandh in Nepal.

There’s another ‘hero’ in this climbers’ campaign from Calcutta — Sujit Sen, 50-plus. “He was supposed to go till the base camp only, but then he pushed on to a height of 22,000 feet. At his age, it’s no mean achievement,” smiled brother Ajit.

Student missing

A CBSE candidate, Avi Das, has been reported missing from his residence at Halisahar, in North 24-Parganas, since Friday, immediately after publication of the results. Avi was a student of Kalyani Central Model School, from where he sat for the Class XII examination as a science student. His parents are teachers.

Father Mahadev Das said on Sunday: “On Friday, Avi went to school and learnt from the CBSE website that he had not fared well in the examination. He has probably failed in one of the science subjects. But he did not tell us anything. He telephoned us from the school saying the results had not been declared. We asked him to come back. He returned, had lunch with us and went on his bicycle to meet his teacher. Since then, he has not returned.”

With no news of the boy till Sunday evening, the family lodged an FIR with Bijpur police station.

   

 
 
CROSS-VOTE BLAME FOR BJP LOSS 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, May 27: 
The BJP suffered its worst electoral setback in Bengal as most party workers voted either for the Trinamul Congress or the Congress to avert a split in the anti-Left votes, feels the party leadership.

The BJP not only failed to open its account, its vote share also dipped. Though the party fielded candidates in 266 of the 294 seats, they fared poorly in a majority of them.

Key BJP leaders came to this conclusion at a two-day brainstorming session that ended at Falta in South 24-Parganas this afternoon. BJP national vice-president Kailashpati Mishra and two Union ministers, Tapan Sikdar and Satyabrata Mukherjee, were present. The session was held at the instance of the party’s central leadership.

The participants said the BJP lost as workers voted for Trinamul in most places to ensure the defeat of party nominees.

A state unit secretary is believed to have pointed out that workers were at their wit’s end when Mamata Banerjee walked out on them. Blaming key party functionaries, he observed: “Our leaders should have undertaken intensive tours of the districts at this critical juncture to explain things to the rank and file. But they have not done anything.”

Those present also indulged in Mamata-bashing and said any effort to tie up with the Trinamul again would be prevented at any cost.

In another move, the leaders decided to revamp the organisation at the grassroots level by replacing those at the helm of affairs in block-level committees with freshers. “Our organisational lapses have also contributed to loss of votes in many places,” said a party leader.

   

 
 
WHY OLD ISN’T GOLD IN DIGHA 
 
 
FROM NARESH JANA
 
Digha, May 27: 
Man and nature combined to play a part in yesterday’s mishap in the seaside resort when the waves washed away a couple and swept their battered bodies ashore, feel officials and tourists.

The pull that Old Digha has over New Digha on the average tourist in spite of the sea being the roughest there can explain the deaths of Amaresh Dhar and wife Papia, they say.

New Digha was a much better — and safer — place to bathe, Digha officer-in-charge Sudhansu De said yesterday after the twin deaths. “The sea near the Sea Hawk hotel, which most tourists seem to prefer, is far more dangerous,” he had added.

But tourists say the administration — besides nature’s threat at Old Digha and man’s refusal to heed warnings it sends out — is just as much to blame for Saturday’s accident when 20-feet waves crashed into the hotel where Amaresh and Papia were staying and washed them — and their 11-year-old son, Anupal, who was rescued — away.

“I have been here for five days. But before the mishaps, I failed to hear a single warning from the administration, asking tourists to keep off Old Digha,” said Pranab Ray who has come from Kharagpur.

The administration could have asked hotel owners to relay the warning if it found the task of alerting each and every tourist individually daunting, he reasoned.

Dilip Sen, a tourist from Shyambazar in Calcutta, spoke about the death of a brother-sister duo, both doctors, a few weeks ago. “But they were not bathing. They were just sitting on the beach,” said Sen. “Those deaths, too, could have been avoided if the administration had warned tourists,” he said.

The reaction of the Digha officer-in-charge today to yesterday’s deaths only added weight to the tourists charges. “Why do you journalists make such a song and dance every time something minor happens in Digha?” he barked back when asked about the steps the administration was taking to prevent a recurrence of Saturday’s mishap.

“What’s the need for such a song-and-dance about some stale news?” he continued. “If you have anything more to find out about yesterday’s occurrence, please ask the Digha Development Authority,” De added.

Tourists bore more grudges against an apathetic administration. They asked that if New Digha was better and safer, why was its infrastructure still in its infancy when compared to Old Digha’s.

   

 
 
TRAGEDY STRIKES WEDDING PARTY 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Siliguri, May 27: 
Five persons, including a woman and three students, were killed and 36 others injured when their truck collided with another vehicle on the busy national highway 31.

The accident occurred when 60 workers from the Saidabad tea estate in Bidhannagar and their families were going to attend a wedding in the neighbouring Satbhaiya tea estate in Naxalbari.

Siliguri additional superintendent of police Ajoy Kumar said: “The Canter collided head-on with a speeding truck near Jayantika tea estate around midnight. The driver of the ill-fated vehicle was apparently drunk and lost control. While five persons, including a 40-year-old women and three students, died on the spot, 36 were injured. Six of them are in a critical condition.”

   

 
 
GANG WARS SURVIVE KONNAGAR CRIME SWEEP 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Chinsurah, May 27: 
A 30-year-old man, said to be a Trinamul Congress worker, was murdered on Sunday night at Konnagar in Hooghly just a day after the special task force of the district rounded up two dozen criminals who had unleashed a months-long reign of terror in the town.

Police said five miscreants dragged out Mubarak Hossein, a contract labourer with the Konnagar municipality, and stabbed him. Finally, they pumped in bullets into his chest. Gang rivalry is suspected to have led to the killing.

The killing came as a blow to the town’s population which was hoping to return to normal life after the raids. In fact, shops and business establishments, which used to down shutters at sunset for the past five months, extended their working hours till 8 pm today.

“I have decided to set up two permanent police camps to wipe out criminal activities permanently from the area,” Hooghly superintendent of police N. Ramesh Babu said.

One camp will come up near Konnagar railway station and another in the Kanaipur-Bansai area.

Clashes between gangs led by Bagha and Shyamal for the past 10 months had resulted in more than 12 deaths. The kingpins have eluded the task force. Unable to lay their hands on Shyamal, the police arrested his brother-in-law, Hiranmoy Das, and associate Seikh Abdul on Saturday.

Bagha was arrested seven months ago, but is out on bail. His lieutenants were, however, picked up.

   

 
 
6 DIE IN MISHAPS 
 
 
FROM OUR BUREAU
 
Birbhum & Birbhum, May 27: 
Six persons were killed and 24 injured in two separate accidents today near the Bakreshwar power plant in Birbhum and on the Behrampore-Lalgola road in Murshidabad.

In the first incident, four persons were killed and 13 injured when a Calcutta-bound truck from Andhra Pradesh collided with a Matador on the Panagarh-Mourigram highway near the Bakreshwar thermal power plant at Sadaipur of Birbhum district.

The accident took place at 8.30 am after the truck driver lost control while trying to avoid a motorcycle coming from the opposite direction.

The dead included three landless farmhands from Dumka in Jharkhand. They had come to Burdwan for work and were returning home on the Matador. The truck-driver, Sheikh Abdul, also died.

The injured have been admitted to Suri Sadar hospital, where the condition of five is critical.

Two persons died and 11, including two children, were injured when a North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus overturned near Bansagar village under the Murshidabad police station. Again the driver lost control when he tried to avoid hitting a cycle-rickshaw.

The dead — 60-year-old Bina Mandal and 45-year-old Rabi Mandal — and the injured were pedestrians. None of the passengers were hurt.

The injured have been admitted to Lalbag sub-divisional hospital, where one of the injured is in a critical condition.

   
 

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