Five-star billing a ‘face-saver’ for CU
Exhibition to combat diabetes
Chetla residents block roads over murder
Delhi mission for Mange
Pranab puts pact ball in Mamata court
Mixed response to NDA return
Tension over wrong blood transfusion
Left initiative to build social service system
Endless wait for job despite court order
Mizoram targets full literacy

Calcutta, June 2: 
The five-star status, awarded to Calcutta University by the National Assessment Accreditation Committee (NAAC) on Friday, has come as a “face-saver”, university officials said on Saturday, particularly after Jadavpur University was recently named a “Centre of Excellence” by the University Grants Commission (UGC), placing it in the national big league.

“It is a great achievement for all of us. We will try and improve our showing to retain this glory,” said CU vice-chancellor Ashis Kumar Banerjee. A press conference has been called on Monday.

NAAC officials, who conducted an on-the-spot survey of all the university departments in April, communicated the decision through a faxed message on Friday. The five-star status will entitle CU to the maximum allocation of UGC funds in the next five years.

The UGC has made it mandatory for all universities and undergraduate colleges affiliated to it to be rated by the NAAC, which will determine the quantity of financial assistance due to it.

The following are the criteria for being granted five-star status:

A self-assessment report to be prepared by the university for five years. It requires to be approved by NAAC officials who inspect the campus and interact with students, teachers and employees

Infrastructural facilities like spacious classrooms, well-equipped laboratories, modernised libraries and computer facilities

Quality research projects and time-bound completion

Full-proof examination procedure, success rate of students, timely publication of results

Teaching of uncommon subjects

Even though CU falls short of the required standard in terms of examination system and publication of results, it scored for having a Pali department and good infrastructural facilities.

CU science secretary M.K.Sengupta said: “We plan to stress research work in science and technology and improve our work culture.”

The NAAC approval is valid for five years, after which the university will have to get a fresh accreditation. Though CU was one of the contenders in the UGC sponsored “centre of excellence” race among 370 UGC registered universities , it failed to get a position among the top five universities short-listed by the UGC. In Calcutta, Loreto College has won a five-star status from the NAAC.

“Many universities in the country have been granted five-star status. We would have been happier if CU had been placed in the top bracket as it is one of the oldest universities in the country,” said a senior teacher.

Jadavpur University, where an NAAC inspection is due, is also hopeful of getting the same ranking. The NAAC is likely to complete inspection there in two months, sources said.

Three other Bengal universities — North Bengal, Burdwan and Kalyani — have got NAAC accreditation. While Burdwan has won a four-star status, Kalyani and North Bengal have been awarded three stars.


Calcutta, June 2: 
The city branch of Diabetic Association of India, in association with Novo Nordisk Education Foundation, is organising a three-day exhibition at Netaji Indoor Stadium to spread awareness about diabetes.

Dr Anil Kapur, chairman and managing trustee of Novo Nordisk Education Foundation, said: “According to World Health Organisation reports, there are 160-million diabetics in India. The number may increase to 300 million in 25 years.” Spreading awareness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle were of primary importance in combating diabetes, he added.

Starting from June 14, the exhibition, Your Diabetes World, will educate people about the symptoms of diabetes, possible complications, ways of early detection and steps to be taken during emergencies. Dieticians and fitness instructors will be in attendance for visitors. Literature, fitness equipment, insulin delivery devices, blood glucose monitoring meters and health food will be available at the exhibition.

Association secretary Dr Subhankar Chowdhury said: “We will also hold training sessions for doctors and nurses at the exhibition.”


Calcutta, June 2: 
Fresh trouble erupted on Raja Santosh Road at Chetla on Saturday after residents took to the streets with the body of Abdul Hakim Khan, alias Manoj, who was gunned down on Friday.

Residents of the Kalabagan area, along with local Trinamul Congress leaders, staged a demonstration to protest police inaction in tracking down the culprits. They alleged that only one person was rounded up and four others, named in the FIR, were freely moving around in the area.

Six men had shot Manoj, a building materials supplier, from point blank range at the Raja Santosh Road- Alipore Road crossing. Police said the murder was a fall-out of a feud between two local clubs to gain control over the real estate deals in the area. Manoj reportedly paid the price for opposing the entry of criminals in clubs.

On receiving the body from Calcutta Medical Research Institute, residents held a sit-in around 8.30 am at the Alipore Road - Raja Santosh Road crossing. They demanded the suspension of the officer-in-charge of New Alipore police station. Traffic movement was paralysed for more than three hours. The blockade was lifted after police intervened.

A procession was taken out with the body. He was buried in the evening.

Upendra Pandey, a resident of the area, alleged that police had been informed on Friday morning that armed criminals were sighted in the area but they ignored the call. However, officer-in-charge Pinaki Mondal denied receiving any such intimation. “We are combing the area to track down all those named in the FIR,” he said.


Calcutta, June 2: 
The city police will send a team to Delhi to question Manjit Singh, alias Mange, wanted for an abduction attempt and arrested on Friday in a central Delhi guest house by the special cell of Delhi police.

Sanjoy Mukherjee, deputy commissioner (special), detective department, said on Saturday that Mange was wanted in several cases. “We will appeal to the court to bring him here.”

The 32-year-old Mange had attempted to kidnap a city hotel owner on December 14, 1998. But he was injured and arrested during an encounter with a Uttar Pradesh police team. He was hospitalised for a long time and later shifted to Alipore Central Jail. He escaped from the prison van on April 26, 2000, while being taken to hospital for a check-up. The three jail officers escorting Mange were suspended on charges of dereliction of duty.

Detectives said Mange used to stay in a rented flat at Jodhpur Park along with a woman named Archana Sharma. “The police have been on the look-out for Mange since last year,” an officer said.

Woman killed: Shukla Das, 35, was run over on Saturday morning by a taxi on Central Garden Reach Road in the Metiabruz police station area. She was admitted to Calcutta Medical Research Institute, where doctors pronounced her dead. The taxi driver fled, leaving the vehicle behind.


Calcutta, June 2: 
A day after Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee lodged a complaint with Congress president Sonia Gandhi about alleged backstabbing by Congress workers in the Assembly elections, PCC chief Pranab Mukherjee made it clear that alliance with Trinamul will largely depend on Banerjee’s relationship with the NDA.

“The alliance is a political necessity to fight the CPM and its post-poll terror in Bengal. It cannot be a one-way traffic and depends much on coordination between the two parties,” Mukherjee told a news conference this afternoon.

When asked about the steps he intended to take to strengthen the alliance, Mukherjee said the immediate task was to chalk out a strategy to ensue proper floor coordination in the Assembly during the budget session beginning June 14.

“I am eager to hold talks with the Trinamul leader if she is willing,” he said, adding, that only a joint effort could pose a “challenge” to the Marxists in Bengal.

Reacting to press reports on Mamata’s possible re-entry to the NDA, the PCC chief made it clear that the alliance will collapse automatically, once she decided to re-join the saffron brigade.

“Despite our poor show in the elections, we have been able to stop the BJP from opening its account in the state,” he added.

The Pradesh Congress Committee chief earlier met district Congress presidents to ascertain the reasons behind the party’s dismal electoral performance.

“Many district unit chiefs today complained to me that Trinamul workers did not cooperate with them during the polls. They were also aggrieved at the way the alliance was hurriedly worked out without taking the party’s rank and file into confidence,” he observed.

He said district leaders demanded an immediate meeting with Sonia to apprise her of the problems they had faced during the elections.

The meeting, which lasted for hours, turned stormy with a majority of district presidents demanding termination of the alliance.

“We could have fared better in the polls had there been no such alliance,” they asserted. Insiders said leaders from South 24-Parganas, Malda, Murshidabad and Calcutta south were vocal.

“Trinamulis have betrayed us by not working in favour of party nominees during the polls and, as such, the alliance is no more a necessity,” they remarked.

In a reply to a question, Mukherjee said the state Congress might shortly get a new chief as he had requested the high command to relieve him of his organisational responsibilities.

“I have already conveyed my feelings to Soniaji, but it is upto her to take a decision on this score,” he observed.

He added that district committees were being restructured to make them more effective. PCC general secretary Manas Bhuniya has been assigned to talk to district presidents to resolve their organisational problems.

Mamata meets Advani

Mamata Banerjee today met home minister L.K. Advani and complained that the Assembly elections were rigged by Left Front workers and demanded an inquiry into the matter.

Banerjee, who was accompanied by many of her party’s MPs and MLAs, later told newspersons that the home minister had asked her to take up the matter of alleged rigging with the Election Commission.


June 2: 
Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s bonhomie with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has evoked a mixed response, with the Biju Janata Dal wanting her to rejoin the NDA and the Bengal BJP opposing her reinduction into the coalition.

The Bengal BJP has come out strongly against the reinduction of Mamata Banerjee into the NDA. Reacting to the one-on-one meeting between Mamata and Vajpayee yesterday, West Bengal BJP vice-president Muzaffar Khan Said: “On the same day she has a one-to-one meeting with the Prime Minister and a similar one with the Congress President. What does she want to prove — that she is indecisive or playing a bigger game? She cannot take us for a ride.”

Mamata is seeking a reinduction into the NDA for the “limited” purpose of securing a Cabinet berth, he said.

“She is dying to get back into power just to prove to her MPs and MLAs that she still matters somewhere. She ditched us before the elections and went along with the Congress thinking she will become the chief minister with their support. But when that gameplan failed she wants to come back to the NDA,” the BJP leader said.

Khan stressed that the rank and file in Bengal was opposed to Mamata’s return to the NDA for two reasons: “First, we recently fought against each other and traded abuses during the poll campaign. Second, the elections proved that the Congress gained much more from the alliance with Mamata while her party’s performance was nothing to write home about. So what is all this hype about Mamata being the only real opposition to the Left?”

The BJP leader felt that if Mamata came back to the NDA it would hamper the party’s growth in Bengal. “We should build a base on our own rather than ride on Mamata’s back all the time. We should not demoralise our cadre again,” he said.

Khan said he had conveyed the state unit’s “sentiments” to BJP vice-president in charge of Bengal Kailashpati Mishra.

However, Union minister for steel B.K. Tripathi and BJD MP from Puri, said in Midnapore today that his party — a constituent of the NDA — would support Mamata’s re-entry into the coalition.

“Mamata Banerjee will get support from the BJD if she wants to come back to the NDA. We have nothing to say against her,” Tripathi said.

The BJD leader described Mamata as a “good Parliamentarian and successful railway minister”. “We were a bit hurt when Orissa was neglected in this year’s railway budget in terms of new trains. However, some trains, introduced by her, are running through the state,” he said.

Expressing happiness over Mamata’s meeting with Vajpayee yesterday, the minister showered praises on her for her honesty and determination. “She is an honest and courageous lady who can call a spade a spade. She will be an asset to the NDA if she is taken back,” he said.

Referring to the industrial climate in Bengal under the new government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Tripathi hoped there would be some “welcome changes”.


Kharagpur, June 2: 
Tension ran high at Kharagpur State General Hospital in Midnapore district this afternoon when a nurse injected blood of wrong group into 14-year-old Bhanukumari, who is now fighting for life.

Minutes after the news spread, a group of DYFI activists — the youth wing of the ruling CPM — met the hospital superintendent and demanded the immediate suspension of the nurse.

They also threatened to stage a demonstration inside the hospital campus tomorrow. “We will bring in more supporters to stage a demonstration tomorrow, come what may,” warned Pradip Dhar, DYFI’s Midnapore district committee member.

Officials of the health department, however, took strong exception to the DYFI’s threat. They said the matter was brought to the notice of health minister Suryakanta Mishra.

According to hospital sources, Dr S.C. Metla asked Umashankar Shukla to collect a bottle of A positive blood for her daughter, Bhanukumari, who has been undergoing treatment since May 22 for acute anaemia. Unable to collect the requisite blood, Shukla, a daily labourer, took a week to persuade two persons to donate blood. Trouble started on Tuesday when a sister on duty administered B positive blood to the girl.

In his complaint lodged with the Kharagpur (town) police station, Umashankar said he had handed over two bottles of A positive blood.

“I wanted to know how B positive blood was injected in my daughter’s body. This is gross negligence on the part of the hospital authorities,” said Shukla.


Calcutta, June 2: 
The Left Front government is building an efficient social service delivery system to cater to the needs of the man on the street. This was mantra being drilled into the minister and secretaries of 37 department by planning and development minister Nirupam Sen and finance minister Asim Dasgupta for the past three days.

The ministers are also planning the forthcoming budget with the twin goals of employment generation and expansion of government services to the people.

Dasgupta said today that, barring the transport department, all sectors of the government had been covered. “I cannot divulge the exact details before the budget, but I can tell you that our intent is in the interest of the common man,” the finance minister pointed out.

Dasgupta had the chief minister’s brief for proper budgetary allocation for efficient governance.

By all indications, the thrust will be in areas that have been neglected in the past. The Left Front wants to utilise the co-operation department to bridge its gap with the unorganised sector.

Co-operatives will be revived and strengthened in the agriculture, food processing and small industries sectors. Health, mother and child care and rural infrastructure will also be paid more attention than before.

It is also understood that the government is going to use the non-government organisation (NGO) network to access areas in rural and semi-urban areas.

Besides, this time the differences between the finance and other departments over allocation and release of funds is expected to be minimised. Dasgupta hinted that there will be close monitoring of projects.

Boost to river operation

The finance minister today ordered doubling the number of labourers engaged in clearing riverbeds of illegal structures. The irrigation department has also opened a control room in Barasat in North 24-Parganas, which is manned by an executive engineer.

More than a hundred illegal structures on the Ichhamati and Bidyadhari rivers in the district were removed. Dasgupta said that clean-up operations at the confluence of the Icchamati and the Yamuna would commence soon.

The minister said that about Rs 70 lakh would be spent on the operation, which will continue till June 10. About 300 workers, as well as officials and policemen are engaged in the work.


Guwahati, June 2: 
In spite of the Gauhati High Court passing an order for his appointment on compassionate ground as he had lost his father while he was in service, Mukesh Kumar Singh is still running from pillar to post to get justice.

Mukesh’s father, Harendra Prasad Singh, was serving as an assistant teacher at the Jawahar Hindi High School in Dhubri since 1968 but died on June 6, 1997 in Bihar following a cardio-respiratory failure.

Singh had submitted all documents to the headmaster of the school for recommending his case for getting a job on compassionate ground in 1998. The headmaster, after much persuasion, had sent the recommendation letter to the director of secondary education.

He had also written to Assam Governor Lt. Gen. (retd.) S.K. Sinha, who had advised the appropriate authorities to take action. But nothing has happened for the past three years and even the pension and gratuity benefits have not been released.

The Dhubri inspector of schools had raised objections, arguing that as his father had received extended scale of pay, the excess drawal of pay should be recovered. But Singh pointed out in his letter to the Governor that there are many such teachers who have been given extended scale of pay.

He informed the Governor that the inspector of schools had asked him to pay 25 per cent of the total amount his father had received as extended payscale. “It is on this account that the forwarding letter which was to be given to director of secondary education was being delayed,” he said.

The Gauhati High Court on October 12, 1999 had passed an order to the authorities concerned considering his case for appointment on compassionate ground to a suitable Grade III or Grade IV post. The court said the petitioner, Mukesh Kumar Singh, had submitted an application on December 12, 1997 in the prescribed form for appointment on compassionate ground to the inspector of schools.

The petitioner had also sent an application to the director of secondary education but no order was communicated to him. The court disposed off the application, ordering the director of secondary education to consider the case of Mukesh Kumar Singh for appointment within three months.

Singh also wrote to the commissioner of education on the failure of the director of secondary education to consider his case despite many reminders.

Medical strike

The medical fraternity in Nagaland is up-in-arms, protesting the assault on colleagues who had refused to toe the lines of “miscreants” claiming to be members of an underground outfit, reports our Kohima correspondent.

The directorate of medical and family welfare has asked its employees to go on a pen-down strike on June 8. The employees will also wear black badges from June 4 to 8, as a mark of protest.

Two criminals, claiming to be members of the NSCN (I-M), assaulted joint director of the department Ditsolo Kapfo and his personal secretary in their office on May 28 after they refused to pay the percentage cut.

At a meeting held here today, the directorate employees condemned the assault and decided to launch an agitation.


Silchar, June 2: 
The Mizoram government plans to achieve “full literacy rate” in the state in the next 10 years by increasing the number of elementary schools and stepping up non-formal learning.

Senior officials at the directorate of school education, Aizawl, said the literacy expansion scheme would stress on strengthening the primary education set-up in the backward southern district of Lawngtlai.

In the 2001 census, Lawngtlai recorded the lowest literacy rate in the state at 56.46 per cent as against the all-time high of 96.24 per cent recorded in the economically-advanced Aizawl district.

The officials said Mizoram, having a population of nearly eight lakh, recorded a literacy rate of 88.49 per cent in the 2001 census.

It is the second highest in the country next to Kerala and the highest among the seven northeastern states.

The officials also said that Mizoram will be granted a larger quantum of Central funds in the next decade to increase the number of its primary schools, both English and Mizo medium, particularly in Lawngtlai and Chhimtuipui districts. The state has 1,254 primary schools.

Voluntary non-government organisations (NGOs) like the Young Mizo Association (YMA) and the MHIP, a woman’s outfit in the state, will be given a larger and responsible role in the literacy campaign, the officials added.


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