How police and politician organised Salt Lake stadium raid
Pak play for Hurriyat
Imphal women lead rage rerun
Govt act of innocence on UTI
Districts nose ahead in HS too
Calcutta Weather

Calcutta, July 5: 
The entire operation to ferret out criminals from Salt Lake stadium was conducted by a deputy superintendent of police at the behest of a powerful section of the North 24-Parganas CPM leadership opposed to transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. The Howrah superintendent of police was kept in the dark.

Police sources revealed that Howrah DSP Humayan Kabir had led the raid at the stadium on the night of June 26/27 without informing his superior, SP Somen Mitra, even though it was a sensitive operation loaded with political ramifications. The sources said that in his more than four years as sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Barrackpore till March this year, Kabir had developed deep roots in the CPM leadership there. Initially, he used to be identified as “close to” Subhas Chakraborty.

However, as fortunes swung against the transport minister in the district’s politics and the leadership mantle passed on to the Amitava Bose-Amitava Nandi duo, Kabir also decided to shift his loyalties.

“Such was his closeness to the district leadership that before the Assembly polls all efforts were made to have his term extended,” an official said. “It was only because of the strict guidelines of the poll panel about not keeping an officer in the same post for more than four years that he had to be transferred before the elections,” the sources said.

During his tenure as Barrackpore’s SDPO, Kabir had got embroiled in a human rights case and this section of the party leadership had bailed him out, they added. “Between the police and influential politicians, it is always a very conveniently complementary equation,” an official said. “One always helps the other.”

After the operation, Kabir, the sources said, reported the entire incident to Mitra and virtually presented him with a fait accompli. “It was like handing over a dagger after the crime has been committed,” an official said.

It was at this point, once the impact of the deed exploded, that the police decided to launch an elaborate cover-up operation. Mitra prepared a report saying a group of criminals was apprehended at Bantra in Howrah as they were about to commit a dacoity.

On the basis of the information provided by them about their accomplices, Mitra said, a Howrah police team raided a slum in Kadapara in North 24-Parganas without informing their counterparts in the other district. There they gave chase to some dacoits who took shelter in the ramps of the stadium from where they were arrested. He ruled out a raid on the youth hostel in the stadium.

Ironically, it was chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who exposed the cover-up in the Assembly saying he was “not satisfied” with the police report and handed the case over to the CID. He also said the youth hostel had been raided and 16 picked up.


New Delhi, July 5: 
Pakistan continued to dangle the sideline-meeting carrot before the Hurriyat leadership with a letter from President Pervez Musharraf asking its high commissioner in Delhi, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, to make the “necessary arrangements”.

The missive came amid clear signals that the “high tea” for the President at the mission has been called off and only a smaller gathering will be allowed at Qazi’s official residence at Pakistan House.

It remains to be seen whether Musharraf will be keen on meeting the Hurriyat leaders at Qazi’s residence given India’s reluctance. Diplomatic circles are wondering whether the Pakistani President will risk muddying the waters even before he goes on to Agra for the summit.

But it is also not clear what options Delhi has if Musharraf decides to go ahead with the Hurriyat meeting. South Block can only indicate its displeasure but cannot possibly prevent a meeting if it were to take place at the high commissioner’s residence.

“This will create unnecessary bad blood and, to put it mildly, lead to negative publicity for India on the eve of the summit,” an official said.

The Indian dilemma became clear from the remarks of a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office. “We still think it is more a question of posturing than anything else on Pakistan’s part. India has made its position clear about the proposed meeting. If they still go ahead and invite the Hurriyat leaders, we cannot do anything. After all, the Hurriyat leaders are Indian citizens and, like others, have the right to be invited to the high commissioner’s tea party,” he said.

However, the uncertainty appears to have put India in a situation where the government will either have to spell out that it will not tolerate a pre-summit meeting between the Pakistan President and the Hurriyat leaders, or make it clear that if it does take place, it does not matter to Delhi.

In a one-page letter, released by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Srinagar yesterday, Musharraf has informed the Kashmiri leaders that he was keen on a meeting them in Delhi. “Let me assure you that Pakistan will continue to extend full moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their just struggle,” Musharraf said while addressing Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat in the letter dated July 2.

The Hurriyat leadership had sent a similar missive to Vajpayee for a summit-eve meeting, but is yet to receive a response. “Let us hope for the best. I don’t think that a Prime Minister with a vision will block passage to sanity,” Bhat said.

In an interview to an Indian TV channel yesterday, Musharraf had asserted that if progress had to be made on Kashmir, the Hurriyat would have to be involved at some stage. “A solution is not possible without their involvement and earlier the better,” he said.

Asked for a response to Musharraf’s letter to the Hurriyat leadership, foreign ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said: “It is a non-issue.”


Imphal, July 5: 
Reminiscent of last month’s mass outpouring of rage, thousands of women, holding flaming torches, took to the streets of the Manipur capital tonight, defying the curfew clamped by the state administration.

Police, CRPF and Assam Rifles personnel, who had been on alert, were reduced to spectators as hordes of women activists emerged from the lanes and bylanes of the town and converged on the main road leading to the high-security area where the state secretariat and Raj Bhavan are located.

It was only at the entry points to this “hyper-sensitive zone” that security personnel used “real force” to prevent the protesters from marching ahead.

The demonstration coincided with the arrival of a Central team sent to review the situation in Manipur. The delegation’s report will determine the outcome of Sunday’s meeting convened by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to review the agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) to extend the ceasefire to areas in Manipur.

The All-Manipur Students’ Union has threatened to press for Manipur’s secession if the Centre fails to revoke the agreement by July 31. (See Page 8)

The Centre has said it is prepared to review the agreement but not rescind the pact, which had sparked the flare-up on June 18. Over 80,000 people had swarmed the streets of Imphal, setting on fire the Assembly building, party offices and ministers’ bungalows. Fourteen protesters had died in the police firing.

Wary of the women protesters turning violent today, police and paramilitary personnel initially burst only teargas shells to keep them at bay. But the demonstrators defied the security forces, prompting them to fire several rounds of rubber bullets. One of the demonstrators, 55-year-old L. Tamphasana, died in the teargas fire and at least 50 were wounded.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) Ratnakar Baral and Brig. Mukesh Sabharwal of the Assam Rifles tried to convince the protesters to retreat, but their efforts were in vain. The women activists clashed with security personnel at Singjamei, Moirangkhom, Khurai, Uripok, Naoremthong, Airport Road and Kwakeithel. The protest spread to Thoubal and Bishenpur districts as well.

The administration had warned the meira paibis (women’s organisations) that security forces would shoot anyone violating the night curfew.

But officials pressed the panic button even before the procession began at 7.30 pm. Curfew was clamped along the Airport Road when a large group of protesters assembled there before the arrival of the Central team.


New Delhi, July 5: 
The government was well aware of the Unit Trust of India’s decision to suspend its US-64 scheme, besides being fully abreast of the troubled times the mutual fund was going through.

UTI’s former chairman P.S. Subramanyam had kept finance secretary Ajit Kumar informed of his board’s decision to suspend the scheme hit by a huge redemption rush. Besides oral communication, the UTI chief had sent a letter detailing the board’s decision to Kumar, quite some time before going public.

Anxious finance ministry officials had kept a close watch on UTI’s state of health ever since revelations that the Trust had been dabbling in stocks favoured by bull operator Ketan Parekh and had taken a big hit from the stock market meltdown.

Sources said the finance minister himself had sought data on UTI after indications that the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the stock market scam around Parekh would focus on the Trust’s part. Even before this, finance ministry officials had been asked by the minister to keep track of UTI’s finances after a Rs 3,300-crore bailout package was sanctioned in 1999.

However, ministry officials have now started a campaign to prove that UTI’s announcement of freezing the US-64 scheme took them as much by surprise as the public.

Finance minister Yashwant Sinha himself went on record to claim: “We are not very comfortable with the ban on sale and repurchase of US-64 for six months.”

“No big decision or really large investment by any fund or financial institution is possible without political approval, which sometimes even comes right from the Prime Minister’s Office,” admitted a senior finance ministry official.

Many had expected Subramanyam’s head to roll when UTI was indicted for playing into the hands of Global Trust Bank during a planned amalgamation of its subsidiary UTI Bank by allowing GTB to first jack up its share value through allegedly a round of orchestrated buying and then working out an inflated merger ratio.

Subramanyam survived then, possibly because decisions of such magnitude are normally not taken by the UTI’s board of trustees but by politicians. Boards merely implement decisions handed down, very often informally by word of mouth, admit finance ministry insiders.


Calcutta, July 5: 
In a near-repeat of their performance last month in the Madhaymik examination, districts have outshone Calcutta in the continuing battle of the brains by grabbing a large chunk of the higher secondary merit list.

The results announced today reveal that of the 27 students on the merit list, 19 are from the districts and only eight from Calcutta, five of them from South Point school alone.

Nineteen-year-old Ayan Paul of Howrah was the arrowhead of the district schools’ race for glory, securing the first position and causing jubilation and near hysteria in the district which had last thrown up a topper in the long-abolished matriculation examination 50 years ago.

Ayan, a government clerk’s son who went to Howrah Zilla school, achieved the coveted rank with 955 marks, showing a dramatic improvement on his 10th position in the Madhaymik examination of 1999. Saugata Basu of South Point school with 950 marks came second.

Debasatyam Pal of Alipurduar high school, who stood 17th in Madhyamik two years ago, annexed the third position with 945 marks which, he said, would further motivate him to realise his dream of becoming a filmmaker.

The two are not the sole examples of Madhyamik toppers continuing to blaze a trail of glory in higher secondary. Barring Suman Karmakar, the first rank-holder in Madhyamik 1999, many have moved up the merit list.

Four of the 17 Madhyamik 1999 toppers who had held the first 10 ranks between themselves secured prominent positions on this year’s higher secondary merit list. For instance, Tanusree Nath, the holder of the eighth rank two years ago, has improved her position to seventh to become the first among girls.

Only Karmakar and Arnab Sen, the third rank-holder in Madhyamik 1999, suffered a setback in terms of their positions. Taking the examination from BT Road Government-sponsored HS school, Karmakar ended up in the 10th position.

Although district schools almost monopolised the merit list, Calcutta students had the highest success rate of 74.73 per cent. Compared with last year, fewer candidates have achieved star marks and secured first division.




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