Success sequel for district schools
Snag traps results in goof-up Net
‘Moment of madness’ in Maruti murder
Four held with fake passports
Mayor wants, mayor gets: Cop clout
Triple-stint MLA seeks unity in house divided
Books in peril find foreign custodians
Security bond go-slow row
Car-makers await incentive signal
Killer mob pounces on police

 
 
SUCCESS SEQUEL FOR DISTRICT SCHOOLS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
In a rerun of the previous years, Calcutta schools found themselves elbowed out of the first three positions in Madhyamik 2001. The results, published on Thursday, showed a pass rate of 70.23 per cent, against 70.45 per cent last year.

Altogether, 575,731 candidates took the exams held in March. In all, 20.38 per cent secured first division marks, 38.04 per cent second division and 11.8 per cent third division. Marksheets will start reaching the schools from Friday.

A senior official of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education said Madhyamik 2002 will be held in February.

The high point of Madhyamik 2001 was that for the first time in the history of the examinations, the first position was secured by two students jointly, both scoring 766. Subhasish Saha and Amitava Pal, two examinees from Dinhata, in Cooch Behar, and Balurghat, in South Dinajpur, shared the first position. Prasanta Patra of Bheduasole High School in Bankura stood second with 765 marks.

The third and fourth ranks went to Sumanta Basu and Ayandip Nandi of Mahesh Sri Ramakrishna Ashram Vidyalaya, in Hooghly district. While Sumanta scored 764 marks, Ayandip totalled 762.

Boys clearly dominate the merit list as a sole girl examinee finds a place among the top ten. Iti Baidya of Gobardanga Khantura High School, in North 24-Parganas, stood ninth with 755 marks

There are at least four instances of joint rank-holders. While Subhasish and Amitava share the first position, Arghya Basu of Hindu School, in Calcutta, and Amit Chakraborty of MSS (Gopalnagar) High School in Dinhata, Cooch Behar, share the fifth position with 761 marks.

Iti and Debajit Majumdar of Nadipar NC High School, in Balurghat, share the ninth position. Nirupam Roy of Midnapore Collegiate School and Sumanta Dawn of Burdwan Municipal School stand 10th jointly, both with 754 marks. There is a difference of only 12 marks between the first and 10th ranks.

Hindu School and Patha Bhavan are the two city schools which have managed a place in the merit list. While Arghya of Hindu stood fifth, Shamodeep Bhattacharyya of Patha Bhavan came seventh.

On Thursday, Arghya of Hindu School recounted how he had to sacrifice hours of cricket and swimming to prepare for Madhyamik.

“Cricket is my passion, and Sachin Tendulkar my favourite cricketer. I trained at Howrah Union Club for some time. But I had to stay away from practice for the sake of studies,” he said.

Arghya’s father, Asis Kumar Basu, is a senior accounts officer in the BSNL. Mother Santi is the inspiration behind Arghya’s success. “I would study for six hours a day before the qualifying tests. But after that, I had to study for 11 hours on an average every day till Madhyamik began,” said Arghya, who had private tutors for each of the subjects.

Like Arghya, Shamodeep Bhattacharyya, too, had to give up his hobbies.“I like to play the tabla, but I had to stop practising for want of time,” he admitted.

Shamodeep’s father, Pradip Bhattacharyya, is the deputy manager of a nationalised bank in Salt Lake.

Shamodeep had five private tutors who would coach him in Bengali, English, mathematics, physical science and life science.

Shamodeep is not surprised that students from the districts have topped Madhyamik 2001. “I think students in the districts are much more sincere in their studies. Also, they do not face the distractions of city life,” he observed.

Board president Arun Kiran Chakraborty said: “Madhyamik certificates this time will be hologrammed to prevent forgery.”

   

 
 
SNAG TRAPS RESULTS IN GOOF-UP NET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
The pet promise: We are going hi-tech this time. The Net result: Oops, we goofed up again.

The government has done it again. After assuring 600,000-odd Madhyamik candidates and their anxious guardians that all results would be available at westbengal. gov.in and westbengalgovt.org from Thursday morning, the authorities ended the day making feeble attempts to say “sorry for the technical fault”. Both sites failed to show the results throughout Thursday. It was left to wbresults.nic.in and www.tathyabangla.net to bail out the students.

Officials of Webel, the nodal IT agency entrusted by the Madhyamik Board to upload the results on the two government sites, later announced that while the entire data had been uploaded, the results did not show because “the server failed”. “We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to students. Our engineers have been trying to repair the snag. But the server being used was a special US one, so immediate rectification was not possible. We are trying to find out exactly why this problem occurred,” said Samir Roy, general manager, Webel.

This would hardly pacify the Madhyamik candidates and their parents, caught in a Net of chaos on Thursday. They had started queuing up outside neighbourhood cybercafes from 9 am. At Calcutta Information Centre, the crowds started swelling from 11 am. With news filtering in that the two government sites had flopped and the others would not be functional till 2.30 pm, the gathering grew restive. The police and officials struggled to pacify the agitated guardians. The doors were finally opened around 3 pm.

   

 
 
‘MOMENT OF MADNESS’ IN MARUTI MURDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
Providing a flourish of drama to the killing of Sanjeev Jhulka, alias Bunty, in a Maruti car on May 20, Ranvijay Singh Rathore, who surrendered before the police on Tuesday, said: “Gabbar was so drunk and angry he did not know quite what he was doing.

“I was driving the Maruti while Gabbar and Bunty were in the rear seat,” Rathore told his interrogators on Thursday. “Both had been drinking for the past few hours and despite our urging, would not stop. A fight was inevitable, as there was a lot of bad blood between the two. Gabbar got angry and shot Bunty.”

Senior police officials said Rathore and girlfriend Trisha Roy, who had surrendered a day before him, had both been cooperating with the investigations and had provided a number of leads into the killing of Bunty.

On Wednesday, the police had detained three of Gabbar’s girlfriends from different parts of the city and questioned them about the gangster’s whereabouts. They provided the police with an insight into his lifestyle and mode of operation, but failed to inform them where Gabbar was hiding.

Rathore also told the police that after dumping Bunty’s body by the side of the EM Bypass, they had driven to Taltala, parked the car and proceeded to his home.

Then, after collecting some money from there, he and Trisha headed for Howrah station to catch a train to Jamshedpur. Rathore told the cops that after spending a few days in the steel city, they had headed for Delhi, where they met Gabbar and put up with the goon’s brother-in-law, Robert D’Souza, in a house in a trans-Yamuna colony.

“It was a mad thing to do,” Rathore told his interrogators about the murder of Bunty. “Unfortunately, we are now all involved in this.”

The state human rights commission has served a notice on the superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, asking why Trisha’s mother was put into the lock-up at Kasba along with her daughter.

Though the police have said that it was done for Trisha’s safety, the human rights commission has pointed out that the incarceration was “unnecessary”, as there were lady police constables present at the police station that night.

   

 
 
FOUR HELD WITH FAKE PASSPORTS 
 
 
BY OUR AIRPORT CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
Four passengers were arrested at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport on Thursday for allegedly travelling with forged passports. Three of them — Ashokebhai Mangaldas Patel (43), Prem Kumar Newakbhai Patel (30) and Sweta Patel (28)— are from Gujarat, while Rajpreet Kaur (23) is from Punjab.

According to the police, the four left for New York on May 31 to try and land jobs there. But the passport control officers in the Big Apple realised that all four passengers had changed their names and were using false passports. They were promptly detained at New York and then flown back to Calcutta. The four passengers arrived in the city by a Royal Jordan Airlines flight. The airport passport control office then handed them over to the police.

   

 
 
MAYOR WANTS, MAYOR GETS: COP CLOUT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
New York has Rudolph Giuliani. He has used the New York Police Department with telling effect. Greater London has Kem Livingstone. He doesn’t yet have the police at his disposal, but is on his way to getting greater powers and greater glory. Now, Calcutta joins the elite league — mayor Subrata Mukherjee will soon become the first mayor in India and among very few in the world to have at least “a part of the police force” at his disposal.

The government has decided to create a new post of a deputy commissioner who will be in charge of Calcutta Municipal Corporation affairs. He, and the force under him, will be at the disposal of mayor Mukherjee whenever he needs them.

“This will curb the civic authorities’ dependence on the police and ensure operational convenience,” said the mayor, who has agreed to arrange space for the new deputy commissioner at the Corporation headquarters.

But the decision, which means a substantial enhancement of mayoral powers, is likely to be a double-edged sword. The decision to give the Trinamul Congress-controlled board extraordinary powers will also mean taking away something from its disposal — it will no longer be able to play the blame-it-on-the-Left game whenever in a spot.

The decision, taken by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee following a meeting with Mukherjee and other members of the mayor-in-council, is also expected to give a new dimension to the intra-Trinamul political dynamics. Mukherjee’s detractors in the party are unlikely to pass up the opportunity of highlighting this government move as yet another proof of how the mayor seems to get his way — unlike other Opposition leaders — with the Left so easily.

Political implications apart, the decision is a big boost for the beleaguered Corporation, which constantly complains of “lack of adequate cooperation from the police” when it has to get tough with civic offenders. Now, the mayor can take up any drive against illegal constructions or encroachments on roads without having to depend on police action.

The government has cleared the mayor’s proposal of offering waiver of interest and penalty to 120,000 defaulter-landlords who have unpaid property tax dues. The scheme, however, is a one-time offer — valid from July to December.

The chief minister has also directed the mayor to resume the drive against hawkers to keep them off the pavements of 21 major roads and rein in hawkers at other places.

   

 
 
TRIPLE-STINT MLA SEEKS UNITY IN HOUSE DIVIDED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
Putting to rest intense speculation and ending a four-cornered contest, sitting Anglo-Indian MLA Gillian D’Costa Hart has been nominated by the government to represent the community in the state legislative Assembly for a third consecutive term. D’ Costa Hart announced at a press conference on Thursday that she had received the letter of nomination in the afternoon.

The principal of Welland Gouldsmith School dismissed allegations levelled against her by rival camps, backing Barry O’ Brien and Antony Sayers, as “baseless” and, in some cases, even “malicious”. “I wish to rebut some of the charges made against me, like not voicing the needs and grievances of the community, of seldom attending Assembly sessions, of not caring for the community and of having worked to its detriment,” she said.

Both Barry and Sayers had been calling for a change and alleging that the sitting MLA had done nothing during her 10 years in the hot seat to deserve another stint. “The Kolkata Association of Anglo-Indians is absolutely shocked at the government decision. I demand that all major decisions regarding the community she (D’ Costa Hart) takes, must be in consultation with our association. Otherwise, we will bring her down from her high horse. She can’t have that chair so easily, she is accountable for everything,” thundered Sayers. Barry was more circumspect in his reaction. “I accept the government’s decision most gracefully. But I have realised over the past few weeks how much trust and confidence the people have in me. I intend to do my best to take the community forward,” he said.

Charles Mantosh, who had filed his papers on Wednesday, said: “We are welcoming the nomination and will support her wholeheartedly. But she must ensure 20 per cent reservation for poor Anglo-Indian children in all Anglo-Indian schools.

D’Costa Hart, on her part, sought the cooperation of all her rival candidates and expressed the wish to work in tandem with them to address the problems of the community. This, given the nature of the bitter berth battle, seems easier said than done.

“Housing will be my main thrust area and I have received assurances from the government that low-cost housing will be provided to members of the community in the Rajarhat complex. I also want to carry forward the projects in Tiljala for water supply, electricity and roads and also work on the Lawrence D’ Souza Home for the aged,” she declared.

   

 
 
BOOKS IN PERIL FIND FOREIGN CUSTODIANS 
 
 
BY SUBHRO SAHA
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
The invaluable collection of rare books of Janaki Nath Mukerji will finally have proper custodians. For four generations, the Mukerjis, direct descendants of Krittibas Ojha, have collected more than 10,000 books, on an amazing variety of subjects and JN himself accounted for at least 80 per cent of the collection.

This rare assortment, which had been withering away at the Mukerji residence on 1, Sambhunath Pandit Street for years, has now got takers with credentials after Metro wrote about the collection last November. “The response to the Metro story was overwhelming and we were flooded with enquiries. However, three parties, two from abroad, showed the most interest and we have reached agreements with them,” says Soumen Mukerji, great-grandson of JN and now protector of the collection.

Dibner Institute of History of Science and Technology of the MIT, US, has committed to acquire 40 per cent of the collection. “Mr Benjamin Weiss, curator of old and rare books and head of publications exhibitions at the institute, has written to us saying that Dibner will acquire and preserve the books at the institute as the J.N. Mukerji Collection,” says Soumen.

The National Library Board of Singapore has promised to pick up all the books on English literature. “We are donating the books free and the overseas institutes will bear the cost of freight and transport. We just want the collection to survive, for which expert aid is needed and we can’t do that here in our residence,” says the relieved great-grandson.

The posts and telegraphs department, at the initiative of postmaster-general S.B. Bhattacharya, has also come forward to pick up the books on telecom and wireless, in which JN had done pioneering work. These books will be preserved in the archives of the philately museum of the GPO.

“We will still be left with a huge number of books on religion, geography, history... for which we are thinking of contacting the National Archives of India,” says Soumen.

   

 
 
SECURITY BOND GO-SLOW ROW 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
The CMC and the state government are pointing fingers at each other over allegations of “lack of work culture”. During a meeting at Writers’ Buildings, mayor Subrata Mukherjee reminded chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of a proposal sent to finance minister Asim Dasgupta about seven months ago for raising Rs 100 crore from the market by releasing security bonds.

Mukherjee said the CMC did not even request the state government to stand guarantor for the bonds. “All the finance department had to do was sign the proposal after writing ‘seen’ on the document,” he said. But the proposal was yet to be cleared.

In reaction to the report, leader of the Opposition in the CMC, Nirmal Mukherjee, said the mayor “should mind his own office first before criticising others.” According to Mukherjee, it took more than eight months to pass a proposal for sinking a hand tubewell in Calcutta in the Trinamul Congress regime. Calling him an autocrat, he said the mayor had started going against the spirit of democracy by centralising powers.

   

 
 
CAR-MAKERS AWAIT INCENTIVE SIGNAL 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, June 7: 
Automobile-makers and oil companies are ready to switch over to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) once the fiscal incentives for the conversion are announced.

Owners of old cars will be required to shift to LPG by the year-end, in a bid to reduce air pollution.

At a Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers workshop on LPG infrastructure and future plans at the state pollution control board office on Thursday, experts discussed conversion and retrofitting of old cars.

With most of the technical expertise in place, car manufacturers and oil companies said they were waiting for the government to announce the fiscal incentives.

Pollution board officials pointed out that 90 per cent of the old taxis and buses emitted noxious smoke. These vehicles accounted for half of the air pollution in the city, they said.

S.A. Nafis of Hindustan Motors said the company would be ready to offer the LPG option to the customers by September. It was on the threshold of launching upgraded diesel engines, he said.

E.A. Vimal Nathan of Bharat Petroleum pointed out that the success of LPG-driven cars would depend on pricing incentives, a sound dispensing network and monitoring.

He said the dispensing centre, which had been set up in Delhi after the Union government cleared the use of LPG in cars, could be replicated in Calcutta.

Spelling out the safety aspects of LPG storage and dispensation, G.L. Deb, deputy chief controller of explosives in Calcutta, said LPG cylinders scored over CNG ones in that they were lighter and cheaper. Retro-fitting of cars should be done only in authorised garages, he said.

Environment minister Manab Mukherjee said more such workshops were in the offing to facilitate the transition to LPG.

   

 
 
KILLER MOB POUNCES ON POLICE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bolpur, June 7: 
Police fired 20 rounds to quell a mob that lynched a trader at Angargaria village in the Mohammadbazar police station area of Suri, about 50 km from here, this morning.

At least 21 policemen, including deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Bastav Vaidya and circle inspector of Suri Sadar police station Shyamal Kundu, were injured in a pitched battle with the irate villagers, who hurled bricks and stones. Five of them have been admitted to Suri Sadar hospital in a serious condition.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been promulgated in the area.

The trouble started when villagers recovered the body of Sitanath Das, 50, a brick kiln owner of the area who was missing since May 23, from behind the house of local potato wholesaler Shristidhar Mondal.

Suspecting foul play, villagers charged the 45-year-old Mondal with murder and surrounded his house. Mondal panicked and reportedly confessed to the crime, mentioning the name of Kirti Pal as an accomplice.

The infuriated villagers started beating him up and ransacked his house. He later died. Another group rushed to Pal’s house, but he was not found. The men vent their anger on his house.

As a large police contingent led by Vaidya arrived, the mob turned its ire on them. It rained brickbats on the outnumbered policemen. Sensing danger, the police drivers turned the jeeps away.

But the force returned on foot and tried to pacify the crowds. Failing to persuade the people to disperse, the men in khaki fired 20 rounds in air. No one was injured in police firing.

Explaining the anger, a villagers alleged that a group of villagers lodged a diary with the police after Das went missing, but they took no steps to find him. Another villager, Arijit Pal, alleged that the police had tried to protect Mondal though they knew that he was the culprit.

   
 

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