Teen held for trader murder
Burglars break into income-tax building
Bacteria alert at 22 hospitals
15-year wait for CU property case
All of the city at your fingertips
Maulana house turns museum
Knowhow crash course for minority tailors
Saltlec firm floats Rs 40-cr techno complex
Pigging it out at New Market
CPM mulls stadium probe

 
 
TEEN HELD FOR TRADER MURDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Even before the blood has dried in the Navaz Wadia murder case, and with the police still grappling for clues, a garments businessman was found murdered in his Robert Street apartment on Monday morning. The prime suspect: A 15-year-old boy, who worked as a durwan in the businessman’s house.

Chandra Kant Ojha, 75, was found dead in his apartment in the Bowbazar area, gagged and with his feet and hands bound with ropes. Initial reports suggest he was strangled to death.

Later in the day, the police arrested the durwan, Dinesh Singh, on charges of murdering Ojha. The “tell-tale” scratch marks on his arm apparently gave him away, the police said. “We are examining the matter, but it seems that Singh injured himself while struggling with the businessman,” said DC, DD (I), Banibrata Basu.

“Initial investigations indicate it was a murder for financial gain,” Basu said. “We believe that two other people, Dinesh’s brothers-in-law, are also involved in this and a hunt has been launched for them.” However, so far, the police have not found anything missing from the businessman’s house. The police alleged that Dinesh, along with his associates, tied up Ojha and gagged him before strangling him to death. The body did not bear any deep external marks of injury.

At around 9 in the morning, on returning from the market, Ojha’s domestic help, Rabihari Munna, noticed the businessman’s lifeless body lying on the floor. He rushed to inform next-door neighbour Narendra Deo Tiwari. They then called up Bowbazar police station. “We are probing whether Ojha was strangled or poisoned. Only a post-mortem will confirm this,” said officer-in-charge of Bowbazar police station, Asit Baran Sil.

The police team has also found a piece of cloth, possibly smeared with chloroform. “The cloth has been sent for chemical analysis,” Basu said. A few items were also scattered around the flat, police said.

Munna told the police that when he returned from the market, he found the door to the house wide open, even though he had shut it while leaving in the morning. A glass of milk, which he had served Ojha before leaving for the market, was lying untouched in a corner table.

However, there are several aspects to the case that are still baffling the police. First, despite the “murder for gain” theory, Ojha’s almirah was untouched and the flat was not ransacked.

“We will have to check if the killers were after any documents. We are, however, not ruling out any other reason for the murder,” said a senior officer connected with the probe.

Also, despite the bruise on Dinesh’s arm, there is no other sign of a struggle in the room.

Neighbours described Ojha as a very friendly person. “He never quarrelled with anybody. He was a perfect gentleman,” said Asim Dey, a resident of the locality. Dey, who works for a company in the same building, said Ojha had several friends visiting him off late. Investigations have revealed that of late, Ojha entertained several visitors in his flat, mostly connected to his textile business.

Till about six months back, Ojha’s wife and two sons lived with him. But they decided to shift to Allahabad, from where the family hailed.

   

 
 
BURGLARS BREAK INTO INCOME-TAX BUILDING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Robbers came knocking on the taxman’s locker door on Saturday night. The goons entered the chief commissioner’s office in the accounts section of the imposing Income-Tax building at Chowringhee Square, broke open four locks of an iron safe and looted Rs 3,67,835. The money had been kept in the first-floor safe after payment of salaries last Friday.

Income-tax officials learnt of the heist on Sunday afternoon when an employee, Gautam Mandal, entered the accounts section on some work. Mandal, according to officers of Hare Street police station, found the iron safe open and the four broken locks strewn on the floor. He then called the police and lodged a complaint.

R.L. Mukherjee, officer-in-charge of Hare Street police station, said: “At first, we wondered how the goons had got in, as the locks on the main door of the accounts section had not been tampered with. Then, we found that the windows on the western side did not have iron bars. It is likely that the miscreants just opened the glass windows and entered the office.”

A.K. Sarker, another tax employee, explained that the money had been kept in the safe as a number of employees had failed to draw their salaries on Friday.

Banibrata Basu, deputy commissioner, detective department, said: “The incident must have occurred between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Officials of the detective department’s burglary wing are on the case. They are probing how the goons knew about the money being in the safe and how they entered the high-security building so easily.”

The income-tax department is supposed to have round-the-clock security arrangements. Despite the elaborate security system, the miscreants easily entered and fled the premises with the money. We are checking the security systems carefully,” said an officer of Hare Street police station.

According to members of the investigating team, the miscreants may have acted on a tip-off. According to preliminary investigation conducted by the detective department and Hare Street police station, the operation was a well-planned one.

“Preliminary investigation and the modus operandi suggest that the miscreants knew exactly how to go about it. They seemed to have precise information about where the money was and how to get to it,” said an investigating officer. “They did not open any other window. Without smashing the glass, the goons just opened the window in the cash section and entered the room.”

Fingerprint experts have been pressed into service. “We will cross-check the fingerprints with our charts to find out if they match those of booked criminals,” said the detective chief.

Businessman robbed: A Dhanbad-bound businessman was robbed of Rs 55,000 from a compartment in the Black Diamond Express on Monday. A complaint was lodged with Howrah GRP.

   

 
 
BACTERIA ALERT AT 22 HOSPITALS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is slapping a notice on the authorities of all 22 hospitals in the city, asking them to clean the hospital underground reservoirs at least once a week.

The decision was taken on Monday after samples collected from taps in various wards of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, NRS Medical College and Hospital, Bangur Hospital and Sambhunath Pandit Hospital were found teeming with coliform bacteria.

Coliform bacteria in proportions beyond permissible limits was also found in the water of a tubewell in the courtyard of the central municipal building, where the mayor has his office. The water supply department disinfected the tubewell with bleaching powder.

“We will cut off their filtered water supply connection if the hospitals don’t take steps to clean up their underground reservoirs regularly”, said member, mayor-in-council (water supply), Sovan Chatterjee. According to chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury, coliform bacteria contamination is measured in maximum probable number (MPN) count and up to 3 MPN can be allowed in water.

   

 
 
15-YEAR WAIT FOR CU PROPERTY CASE 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Fifteen years after Calcutta University filed a suit to get back all its property in “illegal possession”, Calcutta High Court will hear the matter for the first time later this week.

The property, which the university claims to be its own but which it cannot use, is valued, at a moderate estimate, at over Rs 100 crore. It includes a number of houses donated by Raja Subodh Mullick’s family, which were later passed off, illegally, to others, the university has claimed.

The university filed a suit in Calcutta High Court against a company, which had allegedly bought one such property on Upper Wood Street, besides eight similar cases against others, 15 years ago. The Upper Wood Street property had been donated to the university by Nirod Mullick, son of Raja Subodh Mullick, in 1956.

Nirod Mullick had made it clear in his will that he wanted all the property he owned in the city to go to the university if son Hamid died without begetting any issue. The list of property he donated comprised 14 sprawling tracts of land, including that on Upper Wood Street, many of which came with palatial buildings.

Hamid died without leaving behind any child, thereby — according to the will — allowing the property to pass to the university. But Mahadeo Misra, one of durwans, “tactfully” sold out all the property to others, the university’s lawyers alleged before the court. “The Upper Wood Street property was one of them,” a source close to university legal circles said.

The university is fighting for possession of 13 huge buildings, all mentioned in Nirod Mullick’s will, in different parts of the city.

It is facing an acute shortage of space at present, say officials. It cannot implement several projects because of this space-jam, they add.

“It is impossible for the university to buy land and buildings for the projects,” one of the officials said. “The only option is to fight in courts of law to recover property that is rightfully its,” he added.

Besides implementing several projects on hold, the university has plans to utilise these buildings for revenue-generation, his colleagues said. Government and University Grants Commission grants were just not enough to help the varsity make both ends meet, they explained.

The case comes up for hearing before Justice M.H.S. Ansari. Mahadeo Misra, the durwan whom the university has accused of selling off ‘its’ property, has been made a party to the case.

   

 
 
ALL OF THE CITY AT YOUR FINGERTIPS 
 
 
BY SUNDANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Live at Shyambazar, want to use the ATM at Salt Lake on the way to your Sector-V office but don’t know which turn to take? Or have you just moved into your new Golf Green home but don’t know exactly where the local medical store is?

Don’t worry. Your days of getting lost in Salt Lake or, for that matter, any para in Calcutta, may finally be over, by the end of this year. Two years down the line, the lanes and bylanes of Howrah and Barasat could well be at your fingertips.

The Salt Lake-based National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation, the only agency in the country involved in thematic mapping, is working on “digital maps” of Calcutta, Salt Lake, Howrah and Barasat. Starting with Salt Lake, these will be the first four urban centres in India to have maps stored in floppies.

The maps will be the most detailed till date. “Each plot of land, every park and playground, bus stops, local clubs, sweetmeat shops and rickshaw-stands will find mention on the maps,” said Prithvis Nag, director, NATMO.

It was the 48-sheet Calcutta map that took most of NATMO’s time. Work began almost three years ago, the agency’s joint director J.N. Saha said. “The project, mooted by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, costs Rs 60 lakh,” he added. The expenses have been shared by the Corporation and the Union government’s department of science and technology, of which NATMO is a wing.

The details that the map-makers went into — the map-to-real scale was 1:4000 — accounted for the time taken, NATMO officials said. “The map would be a great help to the Corporation, as attachments to the map would display the name of every plot’s owner and the use to which he/she had put it,” they added.

The Salt Lake digital map has already been vetted by the Survey of India and the ministry of defence. All classified information had to be deleted because of “security risks”, NATMO deputy director Tridib Basu said. Hard copies will be available to the public for Rs 400. “We can’t sell floppies, as no such rules have been framed yet,” Basu added. The Howrah and Barasat maps will take some more time to be updated and then vetted, say officials. Besides the digital maps, NATMO also plans to release all four maps in book-form later.

   

 
 
MAULANA HOUSE TURNS MUSEUM 
 
 
BY DEBASHIS CHATTOPADHYAY
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
The house on Ballygunge Circular Road, where Maulana Abul Kalam Azad spent a good part of his life, will soon be turned into a museum and institution on Indian history.

After a prolonged legal battle, the government handed over the building to the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies on Monday. The institute functions from Behala now.

The large house on 22 cottahs at 19A, Ballygunge Circular Road, was purchased for a song by Ramkrishna Naskar from the Raja of Mayurbhanj in 1892.

Occupied by individual tenants and companies, who never maintained it, the building is dilapidated. Huge drums are dumped all over the place. Inflammable articles are stored here.

Maulana Azad stayed in the house at the request of Hem Chandra Naskar, a Congress leader of those times. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and other leaders visited the building. Here, the draft of the Quit India movement was prepared. Maulana’s wife died in the building, and Najma Heptullah, former chairperson of Rajya Sabha and Congress leader, spent her childhood here.

Mahabir Singh, director of the institute, said: “The higher education department got possession of the building through the land acquisition department. It was handed over to the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies to build a study centre and a museum to honour the memory of Abul Kalam Azad, who lived there for several decades. We will renovate the building, keeping in mind its historical importance.”

Satya Mazumdar, manager of the Sri Sri Anandamayee and Sri Sri Kubereswar Trust, which looked after the building, said: “We could not maintain the building for lack of funds. So we offered it to the state government. The issue was settled after a long-drawn-out process.”

Ram Chandra Ghosh, who has lived in the building for more than 30 years with his family, said: “The building was acquired almost forcefully. They issued a notice on us on Saturday to vacate it and we prayed for time. But they did not listen to us. Today, they came with the police and threw us out, although we have been paying rent regularly.”

Shyamal Kumar Bakshi, another tenant, said: “We are here for the past 35 years but they offered us only Rs 360 for vacating the flat, although I have paid my rent regularly.”

At this, the estate manager said: “The amount was fixed by the court and they know that.”

   

 
 
KNOWHOW CRASH COURSE FOR MINORITY TAILORS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
The Skill and Technology Upgradation Programme for Minority Communities will be launched at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) on Tuesday.

The course, organised by the West Bengal Minorities Development and Finance Corporation , in conjunction with NIFT Calcutta, aims at boosting the technical and marketing skills of minority-community tailors.

Mohammed Salim, minister for development of minorities, will inaugurate the programme. All candidates have been short-listed and sponsored by the Minorities Development and Finance Corporation.

Thirty men and women will go through three months of training by NIFT Calcutta faculty on topics ranging from textiles to understanding consumer trends.

They will be awarded certificates at the end of the three-month course, which “helps them get soft loans for production units later on”. Classes will be held twice weekly, for seven hours a day.

Most candidates are from the unorganised garments sector. Pricing is, thus, a focus area for the course, as is how to market a garment and reach out to a larger market by imposing stricter quality control.

“We brush up their designing skills, as well as knowhow of the latest machinery and technology,” says Bharati Moitra, fashion design faculty, NIFT.

“Sometimes, they are not aware of basic variations, such as the different varieties of collars or cuts,” she adds. The students, mainly between the ages of 25 and 35, will also be taken on industry visits.

   

 
 
SALTLEC FIRM FLOATS RS 40-CR TECHNO COMPLEX 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) has announced plans for three new techno complexes for over 6,500 employees at Calcutta, Pune and Chennai. The Calcutta centre, for which the foundation stone was laid in the presence of IT minister Manab Mukherjee on Monday, is expected to start operations by 2002-end.

CTS, a software development, integration and maintenance services company, has chalked out an investment of Rs 40 crore for the 100,000 sq-ft centre at Saltlec, which will house “the latest telecommunications and networking infrastructure” to service customers in the US, Europe and Asia.

A major recruitment drive in the leading universities of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is also on the cards. The company plans to recruit “around 1,400 fresh graduates” through campus interviews. The number of employees in Calcutta could go up to 1,000 from the present 550 by the year-end.

CTS has around 3,500 employees worldwide, of which 2,700 are in India. This number is expected to cross 4,600 in the next two months. CTS has also set up an independent body, Cognizant Academy, that has arrangements with various engineering institutes and universities and facilitates training for its employees.

Elaborating on the nature of work that would be undertaken at the Calcutta centre, Lakshmi Narayanan, president and chief operating officer, said: “Cognizant is partnering Fortune 100 companies. We would require skills from various fields to build versatile capabilities to service our global clients whose IT requirements are very specific.”

The company plans to focus on e-business and enterprise application management to sustain its growth rate in the next few years. “We will have to build a congenial work environment, high-quality infrastructure and high bandwidth for maintaining connectivity with our global clients,” he added.

According to Narayanan, the CTS has seen “a high growth” rate in its Calcutta office, which accounts for “around 18 per cent” of the company’s total earnings.

The Rs 704-crore company, which has won the Calcutta’s “largest software exporter” award from the Software Technology Parks of India in 1999 and 2000, plans to invest Rs 150 crore over a period of three years. Narayanan said the funding for the new ventures will be through internal accruals and reserves from the $ 22.4-million initial public offering (IPO) made in June 1998.

The 100,000-sq-ft CTS centre at Pune, being built at a cost of Rs 40 crore, is expected to begin operations by 2001-end. Construction of the proposed 400,000 sq ft centre at Chennai, which will require an investment of Rs 70 crore, is expected to start in another two months.

   

 
 
PIGGING IT OUT AT NEW MARKET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
New Market has been hit by a Corporation drive to give a clean look to Free School Street. After the vat on Free School Street, where pigs would scavenge, was removed, the pigs have now targeted the fish and vegetable ranges of New Market for a meal. Consequently, traders of New Market have lodged a complaint with the conservancy department, demanding immediate removal of pigs from the area.

The CMC Act does not allow rearing of pigs in the city. But conservancy sweepers residing at Kora Bardaan colony, adjacent to New Market, run piggeries in the colony’s courtyard.

The Corporation’s drive to remove pigs from the New Market area was thwarted several times after conservancy workers declined to co-operate with the authorities.

Conservancy officers do not dare conduct a drive on their own, as according to them, netting pigs is a tough job. It requires trained hands to catch pigs, as they become aggressive when chased and a bite requires anti-rabies injections.

Second, people running piggeries are vehemently opposing this move as it would jeopardise their economics.

A full-grown pig weighs more than 120 kg and yields around 100 kg of pork. The current market price of pork is Rs 70 a kg. Hence, 50 pigs are equivalent to an asset of Rs 2.5 lakh.

Chief engineer, conservancy, Arun Sarkar, said: “We can remove the pigs only if we are not to maintain an account of the number caught.” Trade union leaders have charged conservancy officers of earning money by selling pigs illegally, he said.

“It is unthinkable that pigs freely roam the streets of an A-1 city like Calcutta,” said assistant director, conservancy, Swapan Mahapatra.

Pigs harbour germs and act as vectors for spreading several killer diseases, said deputy chief municipal health officer R.N. Sanyal. The total number of pigs in the city can be pegged at several thousands.

More than 700 pigs are slaughtered daily in the CMC slaughterhouse. In June 1998, the CMC had sent some 150 of them to a slaughterhouse at Suormari, on Govinda Khatik Road.

   

 
 
CPM MULLS STADIUM PROBE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 2: 
Lending weight to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s hard line against Subhas Chakraborty, the CPM today began to cut the beleaguered sports minister to size as it hinted at an independent inquiry into the serious charge of him harbouring criminals in Salt Lake Stadium.

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas and Biman Bose, both politburo members, expressed displeasure at the controversial Chakraborty’s style of functioning. They said the party would supplement Bhattacharjee’s efforts to find out the truth about the stadium episode.

“We will address the question of instituting a party-led inquiry into the stadium episode after the CID submits its report to the government. After all, the CID has just been assigned to take over and complete the police investigation into the whole affair,” Biswas said.

The CPM, which initially appeared to be organising a cover-up for Chakraborty, today began downsizing him after it was jolted by the arrest of Tapas Ghosh Dastidar, one of the sports minister’s close associates and an important party functionary in the Dumdum area.

In its view, the involvement of Ghosh Dastidar in the stadium episode —- as established by the police —- is a pointer to a wider and far more disturbing nexus between party functionaries and the underworld which called for swift and tough handling.

“We are disturbed at the way things have been allowed to happen in Salt Lake Stadium. The truth must be unearthed now. And we have full faith in the chief minister and his initiatives to establish the truth. Nobody is going to be spared for his political affiliation,” said Biswas.

At yesterday’s state committee meeting however, Biswas and Bose had blocked an attempt by Chakraborty’s detractors in North 24-Parganas, notably district secretary Amitava Bose, to orchestrate a demand for a party-level inquiry against him.

Another proof of the CPM’s hardening stance came when Biswas refused to buy Chakraborty’s claim that the stadium episode was part of a conspiracy against him by Trinamul Congress members and a section of police officials. “ I am not habituated to seeing a conspiracy in everything,” he said.

Since the stadium episode, both the CPM North 24-Parganas district committee and the state leadership have begun clipping Chakraborty’s wings.

The district committee has split into two the party’s Salt Lake local committee, which used to be headed by Nandagopal Bhattacharjee, Chakraborty’s brother-in-law. Nandagopal has been made secretary of Salt Lake Unit-II, which is smaller than Salt Lake Unit-I headed by Pranab Banerjee.

Chakraborty and his associates have alleged that the local committee has been whimsically divided by the powerful lobby in the party.

The sports minister also met Biswas a couple of days ago to seek his intervention. But Biswas refused to intervene saying “it is an affair of the district committee and I have nothing to do with it”.

CPM insiders said the influence of Chakraborty and his associates on the party units in Salt Lake will be considerably lessened by the division.

   
 

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