Smut suitor in cop Net
Students force rethink on history, Bengali
Charges fly over Metro safety
Kids, computers and dreams to live for
Food inspector showcaused
Green signal to private firms for upkeep of parks
Filtered water users to repay civic loan
Iskcon unit gets court nod for rath
12 Sulfa men killed in Assam
Orissa IAS officers face ministers’ ire

Calcutta, June 21: 
He is 47, married, short and pot-bellied. She is 24, single, tall and attractive.

Posing as a tall, dark, handsome and rich Romeo on the Net, he first wooed and then, on being “rejected”, started hounding her with smut mail.

Now, four months into the mail attack, the nasty Netizen’s game is up. “We have cracked the case,” said Banibrata Basu, city detective chief, on Thursday.

“Having got a fix on the e-mail path, we have identified the culprit as a bureaucrat based in Pondicherry.” The police in Pondicherry have been asked to initiate action against the offender.

It all began six months ago on the chatline when the senior manager with a telecommunications utility ‘met’ the young woman, an executive with a Calcutta firm. Pretending to be an “eligible bachelor about town”, the man wooed the woman with a vengeance.

The girl, “taken in” by the “charming, aggressive, young man”, e-mailed him a few snaps of hers. The man then set up a blind date in Calcutta last month.

One look at her swarthy middle-aged suitor was enough. The girl, a resident of south Calcutta, blasted the “conman” and told him never to write to her or contact her.

Next morning, she was in for a shock — her stalker was back, this time through maniacal mails of abuse. This went on for weeks and her ‘inbox’ remained perpetually crammed with obscene messages from the scorned suitor.

Sick of the cyber sleaze, the woman turned to the police. “That man is pure evil. For god’s sake, help me before I do something drastic to myself,” she told the cops in a formal complaint recently.

On Thursday, Basu announced that the woman’s “virtual nightmare” was on the verge of ending. The deputy commissioner said the detective department cell combating cyber crime, in collaboration with officials from the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), had finally managed to track down the vulgar messages to the Pondicherry bureaucrat’s e-mail account.

The Pondicherry police have been asked to round him up and retrieve the woman’s photographs and e-mails from his possession.

This is not the only cyber-smut case that the fledgling Net crime-prevention team in Lalbazar is close to cracking, in concert with the VSNL.

One of the offenders the sleuths are keeping an eye on is believed to be a woman hounding the son of a Raj Bhavan official.

The young businessman’s wife has been receiving abusive mail from the offender, who signs off as “your Romi”.

The detective department team will “soon unmask the mysterious Romi”, says Basu.

But it’s another case of Net harassment that has left them stumped. This involves the hate mail that an executive member of a reputed club in south Calcutta has been receiving for some time now. Acting on the complaint, the anti- cyber crime squad traced the e-mails of malice to another executive committee member of the same club.

“The situation is quite tricky and this case will, obviously, have to be handled with extra care,” observed Basu.


Calcutta, June 21: 
The state Secondary board has decided to review the Bengali and history syllabi of Madhyamik after students from city schools and their parents complained that the examinees scored “unexpectedly” poor marks in the two subjects. The results were published on May 7.

Concerned over their grievances, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education authorities decided to convene a meeting with experts in the two subjects and discuss the matter. “Along with teachers, we will identify the problem. We will examine the complaints and if they are valid, we may introduce certain alterations,” said A.K. Chakraborty, board president. Similar complaints were received after the publication of last year’s results as well.

Sources at various city schools felt this was “probably” one of the reasons why students from well-known schools hardly figured in the list of the Top 10 scorers in Madhyamik.

A few months ago, the board authorities considered reviewing the Bengali syllabus when last year’s Madhyamik top scorer Rejabul Islam and the officers of his school complained that the marks he had obtained in Bengali were much below their expectation.

Teachers of well-known schools said many students failed to make a mark this year, mainly because of their abysmal performance in Bengali.

A teacher of Gokhale Memorial School said the girl who topped the Madhyamik selection tests scored very low marks in Bengali. So, her aggregate dropped.

Prithwis Basu, general secretary of the West Bengal Headmasters’ Association, said this was the result of incorrect evaluation of answer scripts. “The assessment in history was even worse,” he said. Students of many well-known Bengali medium schools have scored extremely poor marks in history.

He said his organisation had urged the board authorities to take appropriate measures for ensuring proper assessment of the answer scripts. But nothing had been so far, he added.

Students of Vidya Bharati school, too, complained that most of the examinees who appeared for Madhyamik from their school were awarded very poor marks.

According to board officials, a preliminary investigation of the complaints revealed that the students’ performance in the two subjects was poor due to some defects in the question pattern.

For example, students are required to answer too many subjective-type questions in one section, which makes it difficult for them to score high in that particular section.

“We will try and incorporate more objective-type questions, which will enable examinees to score high marks,” an officer said.

Board president Chakraborty said none of the schools made the complaints in writing. “We have got the information about students’ grievances from our own sources,” Chakraborty added.


Calcutta, June 21: 
Two days after the ‘hangman’ episode, the question that hangs heavy over every Metro ride is: How safe is the tube?

The signals emerging from a section of Metro Railway employees are hardly encouraging for the daily commuter. Several staff members have blamed Tuesday’s bizarre incident — which saw Shyamal Roy, a middle-aged man escaping unhurt after hanging outside a speeding morning train from Sovabazar to Girish Park — on “poor maintenance” and “lack of accountability” in the underground railway system.

Metro Bhavan officials, however, have labelled it a “stray case”, which is being probed by a technical committee.

“The most glaring example of the fact that the Metro officials are not equipped to handle an emergency is the fact that the NGEF 1/2 was allowed to run with all passengers to Tollygunge even after the near-mishap,” pointed out a member of the technical team.

Motormen say the bane of Metro is “the poor condition of the old rakes”, which results in “doors not closing properly”. The non-availability of spares is another common problem, they allege.

The authorities, however, rubbish the charges. “Except for some minor problems, all the 12 rakes we use are in good shape. We have also developed some parts indigenously,” said Jayanta K. Mitra, chief operations manager.

The human-error factor is another talking point. “Two trains coming on the same track at Chandni Chowk, a rake overshooting Central station, the no-stop at Jatin Das Park: In all these cases, the drivers were at fault. This will continue to occur if shunters are promoted illegally to motormen and never show-caused,” claimed a employee from the technical section, who also wondered why the Continuous Automatic Train Control (CATC) was taking so long to instal.


Calcutta, June 21: 
It’s a normal day in Busytown: Garbage lies scattered in heaps all over the road. A truck, guided by a mouse, screeches to a halt near the first heap it ‘sees’, someone hops out to pick it up and the truck is then driven, again by the mouse, to the garbage-disposal centre.

Busytown exists inside a software developed by a Chennai-based firm, IT Kids, custom-made for the less-than-seven-year-olds of South Point School. Rudrajit Mitra, Abhishek Banerjee and Ishita Gupta might still not be absolutely confident about all three of their Rs, but they have already mastered the mouse which obeys them in guiding the truck to the garbage-disposal centre.

Most of Bengal’s “do-it-now” ministers might have decided to give a pass-over to their own government’s IT-and-computer dreams, but the five and six-year-olds of South Point are now busy shaping a dream that will add value to their curriculum vitae by the time they are ready to leave school.

“The idea is to prepare tomorrow’s citizens for tomorrow’s world,” said South Point director (administration) Siddhartha Mitra. “We will be happy if we can give our students some value-addition when they find themselves in the cut-throat job-market world, competing for pieces of a very small pie.”

Each student — right from Nursery to Class XII — has hands-on training in computers as part of the school’s plans for them. If kids of Nursery, Kindergarten, Transition and Class I and II have to remain satisfied with their once-in-a-week tryst with the mouse and the keyboard, students of Classes III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII have two ‘computer’ periods every week.

For those studying in Classes XI and XII and fortunate enough to have got Computer Science for their HS, there is bound to be stiff competition for the 44 slots in each class, says computer section-in-charge G.D. Banerjee.

There are at least four hands-on computer classes every week, besides the required number of theory lectures.

And those studying in Classes IX and X will not be missing out either; from the next academic session, the school plans to offer Computer Science as an optional paper for Madhyamik.

Exam worries, however, are the last thing on the students’ minds, claim teachers. If you want to see fun-zone inside South Point School, head straight for the three computer laboratories, including the one for toddlers called Kidspoint. Here, 75 IBM Pentium III machines figure high on the list of a few of their favourite things.

“I really enjoy my computer class,” smiles six-year-old Ishita, busy fighting a fire in Busytown.


Calcutta, June 21: 
The civic food inspector and medical officer of Borough VII was served a showcause notice on Thursday for dereliction of duty after a special health inspection team found appaling conditions prevailing in the kitchens of three renowned eateries on Park Street and Shakespeare Sarani.

“Food inspectors are briefed to pay surprise visits to hotels and restaurants, collect samples of cooked food and verify the quality of the cooking medium and the raw stock. They have to submit regular reports to the chief municipal health officer on the condition of the eateries,” said member, mayor-in-council, Javed Ahmed Khan.

Tuesday’s findings have shaken the civic authorities’ faith in their inspectors, he said. The special team found the kitchens dirtier than a langarkhana, Khan said. The cooks and helpers had discarded their clothes in a corner, the floor was broken, and left-overs were dumped in an open vat for cockroaches and vermin to forage on.


Calcutta, June 21: 
Our neglected parks may get a facelift soon. The state government has invited private parties to take over the city’s parks and gardens for beautification and maintenance, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya told the Assembly on Thursday.

“We have identified some parks in and around the city, which will be renovated in association with the forest department. There are others which can be made suitable for children’s sport. The government will provide the infrastructure and extend administrative help for the purpose,” Bhattacharya said.

The CMDA, too, had taken up beautification schemes of parks in joint venture with private concerns.

“Coal India has sought to beautify a stretch along the Hooghly. Companies will be allowed to raise funds by selling advertisement space or installing hoardings and banners at suitable spots in the parks. However, shops or permanent structures will not be allowed,” Bhattacharya said.

Certain firms have proposed the laying-out of tennis and badminton courts and a cricket pitch on a portion of Central Park, in Salt Lake.

The forest department and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation maintain several parks, most of which are unkempt, said urban development department officials. Opposition legislators said parks turn into crime spots after dark, thanks to poor lighting.

Later, the minister said that players, sport-lovers, environmentalists and social organisations, especially clubs, should also come forward to save the greenery.

“Several organisations and NGOs have already stepped in to help the government with the scheme. We want more aware people with us,” he added.

However, Bhattacharya ruled out a proposal by Trinamul Congress legislators to allow hawkers carry out business around the parks in exchange for a fee. The Opposition had suggested that the money could be utilised for maintaining the parks.

“The proposal sounds good. But once hawkers are allowed to trade around the parks, it will create problems. Besides, parks surrounded by a group of hawkers will not look good,” he said.


Calcutta, June 21: 
Calcuttans will have to pay for filtered water soon to fill up the civic body’s coffers.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has hit upon this scheme to repay the Rs 100-crore loan it had raised from the market in two phases. The money was raised to foot the bill for augmenting filtered water supply in the city, said municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya on Thursday at The Oberoi Grand.

Placing Rs 50 crore as the CMC’s bond in the private market, the minister said that citizens should cough up for the water they consume.

Municipal commissioner Debashis Som said each bond was of Rs 1 lakh and a purchaser would have to buy at least five bonds.

The CMC will repay the loan in three instalments, payable at the end of the fifth, sixth and seventh years. The rate of interest on the loan will range between 11 per cent and 12.5 per cent.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee could not attend the function, as he was at Bansberia, in Hooghly district, scene of labour unrest and police firing on Wednesday.


Calcutta, June 21: 
Who will bring out the Iskcon rath on Saturday? This is the question brought before Calcutta High Court by devotees on Thursday.

Both the administrative body appointed by the Iskcon Bureau in Mumbai and suspended president of the Calcutta chapter, Adridharan Das, had moved court for the right to hold the upcoming rath festival on July 23 and July 1.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice A. K. Mathur and Justice G. Gupta, allowed the administrative committee, headed by Dayaram Das, to organise the chariot-pulling ceremony on the city streets this Saturday on Rathyatra. Commissioner of Police Sujoy Chakraborty had earlier given the clearance to the committee for the ceremony.

Earlier, a petition was moved by Adridharan Das before the division bench, seeking an order directing the police to allow him to hold the rath-pulling in the city on Saturday.

But the division bench rejected Adridharan’s plea and upheld the decision of the city police to allow the eight-member committee to hold the ceremony.

An ad interim injunction was passed on Tuesday, restraining Adridharan and his associates from “interfering with the management” of the Iskcon Calcutta properties.

Adridharan, however, claimed that the division bench had ruled in his favour and the case seeking his suspension by the “breakaway group” was quashed by the high court.


Jorhat, June 21: 
Twelve surrendered militants were gunned down today by their former colleagues at Moran Polo Club nearly 7 km from Moran police station in Dibrugarh district at 11.15 am. Ten Sulfa men were injured in the attack, which is being seen as the worst-ever assault carried out by the Ulfa on their former colleagues. The Moran Polo Club is on the border of Sivasagar and Dibrugarh districts. Unofficial sources put the toll at 14.

The injured were admitted to Pragati nursing home at Sivasagar and later shifted to Assam Medical College hospital in Dibrugarh. The condition of one is stated to be critical.

Sivasagar deputy commissioner Ravi Kota said the surrendered militants of the district had called a meeting at Moran Polo Club today. “The meeting, scheduled for 11.30 am, had not started and about 70 boys were chatting in small groups, when armed men arrived at the spot in two vehicles and attacked the surrendered militants,’’ the deputy commissioner said.

He said going by the number of bodies found in different parts of the club — bathroom, the hall — and a few outside the premises indicated that it was a selective killing. “The militants did not fire indiscriminately. There were no bullet marks found on the walls anywhere,’’ Kota said.

The militants, who came in two vehicles — a Maruti Zen and a Maruti van— first shot dead three Sulfa men waiting near the entrance of the club. The group then entered inside the club and chased the selected targets.

While 12 died on the spot, four others were wounded. The victims were identified as Jintu Sharma, Ajit Sangmai, Gafaruddin Bora, Molin Chetia, Muhi Baruah, Haresh Gohain, Parag Rajkonwar, Manoj Agarwalla, Khirod Gogoi, Biren Gogoi, Sachen Shyam and Paresh Bharaili.

The incident took place a week after Army operations were suspended in Sivasagar district.

Sources said all the victims had directly or indirectly helped the security forces in counter-insurgency operations. An army officer of the intelligence wing in Sivasagar district said the boys were killed selectively.

A Sulfa man who managed to escape the carnage told The Telegraph over phone that the masked assailants, all between the age group of 20 and 25, entered the club and selected the targets. “It’s him, kill him, some of them shouted,” he said. Few of the surrendered militants were even chased and shot inside the bathroom, he added.

“The group fired blankly soon after entering the club premises,” he said. But the PSOs and drivers present there were not attacked.

The Sulfa unit of Sivasagar district had called today’s meeting to sort out future plans in the present political scenario. They had also published a leaflet, signed by nine surrendered militants, to call the meeting. Three main organisers of the meeting, including Samar Kakati alias Mridul Phukon, were not present at the meeting. Phukon left for Delhi this morning.

“They have not approached the district administration. It is also quite interesting as to why they arranged the meeting at Moran Polo Club and not somewhere in Sivasagar district,” the deputy commissioner said.

Kushal Deuri alias Jayanata Hazarika, top surrendered militant of the district who fought the last Assembly elections as an Independent candidate, was not invited to the meeting for taking part in the polls.

Deuri, who was the president of Jatiya Mahasabha, apex body of the surrendered militants, said: “Surrendered militants avoid me these days. I was not invited for the meeting,” Hazarika told The Telegraph over phone.

The deputy commissioner said it was surprising that there was no retaliatory firing from the militants. “Most of the surrendered militants generally carry weapons and they also have PSOs. It is surprising that there was no retaliatory firing,” he added.

The deputy commissioner said though Ulfa was the prime suspect, the incident could be the result of a rivalry between two groups of surrendered militants. “It is not clear till now. Investigations are on,” he added.

A police official said if the Ulfa was involved in the incident, information was provided by some surrendered militants.

Terming the attack as “stupidity”, former publicity secretary of the Ulfa Sunil Nath called for “restraint” on the part of the Sulfa.


Bhubaneswar, June 21: 
After a brief lull, ministers in the Naveen Patnaik government have started spewing venom against bureaucrats, holding them responsible for the sorry state of administration in Orissa.

At a seminar organised by the Orissa State Non-gazetted Employees’ Co-ordination Committee here on Wednesday, three senior ministers including finance minister Ramakrushna Patnaik expressed their serious displeasure over the way the officers are holding sway. The chief minister, chief secretary D.P. Bagchi and home secretary T.K. Mishra were also present at the seminar.

Ramakrushna Patnaik, who is one of the most vocal members of Cabinet, said rightsizing of the administration would be done from the level of top officials. He said that due to the inefficient officials, the state’s demands have not been placed properly before the Centre.

Emphasising the need for fiscal reforms, Ramakrushna Patnaik said it is high time the state took steps to prune the bureaucracy. Over 180 per cent of the state’s revenue receipts are being spent on the bureaucracy.

Revenue minister Biswabhusan Harichandan said the IAS officers were running the state administration whimsically. He assured the non-gazetted employees that he would consider their demands of bringing down the number of departments to 25 from the present 36.


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