Panel to pave progress path
Life term for husband in highrise case
Humidity high fans viral wave
Insider angle to mariner wife murder
Ceasework at sinking site
Flyover hits land deal dead-end
Clashes erupt in Manipur
Two hardcore NLFT militants arrested
Bhupen backs crushed Thiyam
Bandh hits normal life in Ranchi

Calcutta, July 20: 
The state government will soon introduce a Bill in the Assembly to set up a body that will not only cater to the city’s development needs, but monitor all related aspects as well. The panel will “efficiently handle” the overall growth of the city and provide corresponding infrastructural support.

Stating this in the Assembly on Friday, municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya said the new Act, after it is adopted by the state legislature, will also have provisions for the setting up of a board that will be entrusted with executing all decisions on Calcutta’s development for the next 25 years.

“Apart from framing concrete policies for the city’s infrastructural development through the new Act, the government also plans to increase participation of private organisations in this process,” Bhattacharya said. In fact, he said, the private sector will be expected to play a prominent role in the city’s development.

Explaining that “people’s demand for a better standard of living is increasing by the day”, Bhattacharya said there will be a corresponding rise in improvement in all spheres of civic amenities, like water supply, transport and sanitation. “Therefore, the government alone cannot strengthen the existing infrastructure and we will have to depend on investments from private agencies.”

As part of this process, a perspective plan, Calcutta 2025, is being drawn up by the government and the Unicef has offered to help with suggestions.

Explaining why the “active support” of the private sector will be required for this effort, Bhattacharya said an amount of about Rs 12,000 crore will be needed to upgrade the infrastructure, especially in areas like transport and water supply. “It is impossible for the government to provide such a large sum and that is why we will have to rope in private organisations in our effort,” he said.

To ensure that the “burden of privatisation” is not passed on to the consumer, the government will offer certain sops to the organisations that will provide civic amenities to the consumer.

For instance, if a private outfit sets up a water treatment plant, the government will consider providing the land for it. “In this way, the investment of the private firm will be much less,” Bhattacharya said. “As a result, there will be less reason to pass on the costs to the consumer and, ultimately, the common man will not have to pay higher rates for services offered.”

The humble Calcuttan, too, will have to spare a little to help the government in this direction. He will soon have to pay “user charges” for water connections. Given the size of the city’s population, the minister hoped this will go “some way” in mopping up infrastructure development resources. “This may be especially handy in setting up new water treatment plants, as well as looking after operations and maintenance of the city’s water supply,” Bhattacharya said.

He hoped the new Act will go a long way in promoting better interaction between all the urban development agencies, like the CMDA and the CIT, and the municipal corporation.


Calcutta, July 20: 
On July 3, 1999, Leena Sen was found dead in a Ballygunge Phari highrise — naked and gagged with a dupatta.

Two years later, chartered accountant Pradip Kumar Sen was convicted for “killing wife Leena” by Alipore court on Friday. The fifth additional district and sessions judge Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya pronounced the life sentence, along with a fine of Rs 5,000.

For non-payment of the fine, Sen will have to face “another year of rigorous imprisonment”.

Sen had been “found guilty” on Wednesday, but was given 48 hours to address the court before the judgment was passed. On Friday, he pleaded “forgiveness” before the judge. After hearing him out, Justice Bhattacharya pronounced the sentence, finding the accused guilty under Article 302 and Article 201 of the IPC of murder and of tampering with evidence.

The nature and setting of the Leena Sen murder had made it one of the more high-profile cases in recent police criminology. Pradip and Leena were married in 1995. Both were with reputed private concerns, and it was Pradip’s second marriage.

On June 30, 1999, Pradip lodged a complaint with Karaya thana, alleging that his wife was missing. The story that Pradip had told the police went like this:

On June 29, Pradip, who would frequent the rented Ballygunge flat in which Leena lived from 1979, dropped by after work. When he found the door closed and Leena not responding to the bell, he entered the flat with a duplicate key. Leena was nowhere around. Neighbours, apparently, informed Pradip that she had left the apartment in the afternoon. The next day, Pradip returned to the flat to find the door bolted. Then, he lodged a ‘missing’ complaint.

On July 3, police decided to force their way into the apartment. Pradip was asked to accompany the cops, who broke into the flat and found the naked body of Leena in the kitchen, a dupatta stuffed down her throat.

In the course of interrogation — which involved neighbours and durwans of the building, beside some of Leena’s friends — the needle of suspicion turned towards Pradip, a senior executive with a reputed firm.

“Relations between the two had soured soon after their marriage. Investigations revealed that Pradip was unhappy about the kind of life that Leena was leading. They would have frequent arguments, during which Pradip would accuse Leena of cheating on him,” police said. On July 28, 1999, Pradip was arrested on charges of murdering his wife.


Calcutta, July 20: 
It’s the season for thermometers and paracetamol. Every one seems to know someone down with fever, unless the bug has already bitten him. In most cases, the rise in temperature is of no serious consequence, but while it lasts, it causes suffering. It leaves a debilitating aftermath.

Most of the fevers are being attributed to a viral invasion occurring this year across the city. Reports of an increasing number of victims are coming in at a time when the monsoon has set in and the day’s temperature varies: Sometimes very hot, sometimes cool but always damp and humid.

“These are conditions in which a few types of airborne viruses thrive,” said a senior doctor in the virology department of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine. “We plan to conduct throat swab and other tests to isolate the virus if the high rate of incidence continues,” Dr A.K. Ghosh said, adding that though no major complications have been reported, the extent of the “outbreak” and the type of virus are peculiar to the city this year.

“All we can say now is that the fevers are being caused by a para-influenza type virus that is leading to infections of the respiratory tract and is symptomatic with a general malaise, bodyaches, loss of appetite, weakness, coughing and sneezing. It is the last two characteristics that are spreading the virus, which is why those infected should always use a handkerchief,” Ghosh added.

The outdoor departments of all hospitals in the city are being swamped by people with these symptoms. “In the previous week, we were getting 10 to 12 patients per day after eliminating malaria as the cause of the fever. This week, this has gone up to 25 to 30 cases per day,” Ghosh said.

Similar situations have been reported from the outdoor departments of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, NRS, National Medical and RG Kar hospitals.

Even clinics reported a rise in the number of malarial tests conducted by them over the past week. “This indicates two things: One, that people have become aware about what to do when a fever strikes, and two, that fevers are occurring in growing numbers” said Dr Subhendu Roy, head of Roy and Tribedi.

Physicians say there is no real treatment for the majority of the cases. “Medicine can be given for relief of symptoms. Paracetamol should be taken at five-hour intervals if the fever is over 101 degrees, preferably with an antacid for persons with ulcer-related problems. If the fever persists for more than four days, the family physician should be contacted, as the problem could be due to some other reason,” advised Dr S. Chakraborty of the Calcutta branch of the Indian Medical Association.

School of Tropical Medicine specialists fear the spell will continue as long as humidity levels remain above 90 per cent. “The virus will subside once the level drops to around 85 per cent, and stays that way for a few days,” they said.


Calcutta, July 20: 
The murder of Jyoti Riat in her Raja Basanta Roy Road apartment on Thursday was the “act of a disbalanced person,” the police said on Friday. “We suspect that someone close to the family has done it, someone who is not a professional killer. The way the victim was slashed all over the body, the assailant seems to have been emotionally disturbed. Jyoti had put up a fight,’’ detective department chief Banibrata Basu said.

The body has been kept at the Calcutta Police morgue, awaiting husband Sudarshan’s return on Saturday. Jyoti’s parents will also be in Calcutta soon, a police officer said. Jyoti’s nephew, Gautam, has been detained and the police have been questioning him since Thursday. According to neighbours, Gautam had visited the apartment on Thursday afternoon and spent a few hours with Jyoti.

According to records with the security staff, Gautam had left the apartment at around 2.30 pm, after which there is no entry of anyone else arriving or leaving. Jyoti’s body, with multiple stab wounds, was discovered a few hours later. During interrogation, Gautam, 24, told the police they had gone out together but parted company after a distance. “I went to repair two computer speakers, while Jyoti had to do some shopping. We, however, returned to the apartment together,’’ he told the police.

Gautam left the building at 2.30 pm and went straight to cousin Sanjay’s office on Sardar Shankar Road. Gautam admitted that he would frequent Riat apartment. “Jyoti felt insecure, staying alone. She would receive lot of obscene and threat calls and insisted that I drop in on her,’’ he told the detectives.

“I would go to the flat and surf the Internet and check my uncle’s e-mail, as Jyoti was not computer-savvy,’’ he added.

According to the police, Gautam is a computer engineering student in Nagpur. He hails from Asansol. “Gautam said he came to the city on July 4 and left five days later. He returned on July 15 and has been to Jyoti’s home every day,’’ the police said.


Calcutta, July 20: 
There was panic on Biren Roy Road (West), in Behala, when residents discovered to their horror that a portion of a multi-storeyed building and the adjoining road “had sunk” on Friday morning. Cracks had developed in buildings adjacent to the 182-flat complex, being built by members of the Calcutta Motor Dealers Cooperative Housing Society Limited.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has slapped a cease-work notice on the construction of the rest of the complex, declaring it “illegal”. Swapan Samaddar, member, mayor-in-council (building), along with Sovan Chatterjee, member, mayor-in-council (water) and Asoke Roy Chowdhury, director-general of buildings, CMC, visited the disputed site during the day.

“The construction has flouted CMC rules. So, we have issued a stop-work notice and guards have been posted on the site,” Samaddar said. “The entire construction is being carried out on land reclaimed by filling up a pond illegally. No piling work was done to ensure safety,” added Anjan Das, borough chairman.

However, Hasmukh Thasani, chairman of the Calcutta Motor Dealers Cooperative, said: “Everything is going by the book. We purchased these 227 cottahs of land through the high court. Originally, it belonged to a fan company.”

He added: “Today’s trouble was quite unexpected. The piling work was adequate. The subsidence was caused by the collapse of a wall. All the boundary walls are more than 20 years old and we will rebuild them after the construction work is over. Moreover, a drain running close to the wall has further weakened the foundation.”

H.P.Doshi, a member of the cooperative, said: “The complex is being built with the money of our members and no outside promoters are involved. So there is no question of violating laws by using inferior materials.”

Dwijen Das, who lives close to the building, said: “Around 2.30 am, we woke up to the sound of a thud. The wall surrounding the complex had collapsed and a portion of the building had subsided. However, the cooperative workers repaired the wall themselves.”


Calcutta, July 20: 
Construction of a flyover at Lake Gardens has been delayed because the railways is stalling handover of land to the government, PWD minister Amar Chowdhury told the Assembly on Friday. The government was in constant dialogue with the railways and hoped to get the land soon, Chowdhury added.

Replying to Kanika Ganguly of the CPM, the minister said another flyover at Bondel Gate will come up soon, work on which was in progress. Two flyovers at Liluah and Mourigram were likely to be ready in a year.

As all four flyovers were coming up on railway tracks, construction was hampering vehicular traffic, the minister admitted. He assured the House that things would improve once the flyovers were in place.

He said the western approach to the Liluah flyover was yet to be completed for want of land. “We are holding negotiations with the railway in this connection and hope to get the land soon,” the minister told the Assembly.

A link between the national highway and western Liluah was urgently required as residents of the area had no other communication except trains to reach Calcutta. “We plan to introduce a bus route on July 29, but the road is too narrow. People are hard pressed as the road link is inadequate,” Ganguly added.


Imphal, July 20: 
Over 200 anti-ceasefire protesters, mostly students, were today injured in a fresh confrontation with security personnel on the streets of the Manipur capital.

Of the 170 protesters who were hospitalised, the condition of six is stated to be critical. All six sustained bullet injuries in firing by CRPF personnel, while the rest were hit by rubber pellets fired by the police.

The incident prompted the administration to clamp an indefinite curfew in Imphal from 2 pm.

The protesters were marching towards Raj Bhavan in response to a call by the All-Manipur Students Union (Amsu) when a contingent of police and CRPF personnel stopped them midway.

With the students in the group threatening to turn violent, police officials agreed to take 21 of them to meet Governor Ved Marwah. After being made to wait outside the main gate of Raj Bhavan for an hour, the 21 students were told that only nine of them and a couple of newspersons would be allowed to go in.

By the time the nine representatives were let in, students waiting at the Women’s Bazar area had become restive. The situation spun out of control when the police roughed up an Amsu leader who spoke his mind.

In a matter of minutes, there was chaos in the area as the students retaliated. When the police and CRPF personnel resorted to lathicharge and burst tear gas shells, residents of the Nagamapal, Uripok and Sagolband localities came out of their houses to help the students.

The crowd, which had swelled to 30,000, pelted stones at the security personnel, prompting them to fire rubber pellets. Some CRPF men even opened fire, seriously injuring six of the protesters.

There was an argument between CRPF and police officials over the firing. Manipur police chief A.A. Siddiqui was seen remonstrating with the CRPF commander even as the clash continued. Amsu leader P. Premananda later told The Telegraph that the students turned violent because of the overbearing attitude of the police and civil administration.

He said the administration declared a two-day holiday in all educational institutions to prevent his organisation from taking out a procession today.

Premananda said the students would not have turned violent had the police and CRPF personnel allowed them to meet the Governor and hand over their textbooks to him as a symbolic protest against the extension of the Naga ceasefire “without territorial limits”.

An official source said seven policemen were injured in the clash. The condition of one of them is stated to be serious.

“The protesters beat up the policeman and snatched his service rifle. However, it was returned later,” the source said.

The United Committee, Manipur (UCM), which is spearheading the agitation, has condemned the police crackdown on students.

UCM leaders are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi tomorrow to discuss the ceasefire issue.


Agartala, July 20: 
In a setback to the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), two of its hardcore rebels were arrested by police yesterday.

NLFT rebel Rath Tripura was arrested near Takarjala from a Maruti vehicle along with his fiancee. He was reportedly heading for Dhoomacherra in Dhalai district to get married to the daughter of NLFT group commander Ranjit Debbarma.

The police, who were tipped off by local tribals, intercepted the vehicle at Dayarampara and arrested all four occupants, including the driver.

In course of the interrogations, Tripura said he had joined the outfit after converting to Christianity in 1999 and was involved in attacks on the police.

He parted ways with the official faction of the NLFT led by Biswamohan Debbarma recently and switched allegiance to the dissident faction led by Nayanbasi Jamatya.

In another incident, tribal villagers in West Naliacherra under Ambassa police station yesterday beat up an NLFT activist Ranjit Debbarma before handing him over to the police at Ambassa.

Police sources a group of rebels picked up a fight with a tribal youth playing football near a Buddhist monastery in the village. Irked by the rebels, who were unarmed, local villagers beat them up. While the other rebels managed to escape, one Ranjit Debbarma was caught and handed over to the police.

In another incident, a tribal woman was yesterday shot dead by suspected NLFT militants. According to sources, Sandhyalaxmi Debbarma, a resident of East Belbari village under Jirania police station, was gunned down by the NLFT when she, accompanied by two others, ventured into a forest to collect bamboo shoots.

She was mistaken by the NLFT for a rival All-Tripura Tiger Force militant. Later, the outfit paid compensation of Rs 3,000 to her husband Kartik Debbarma, the sources added.


Guwahati, July 20: 
Sangeet Natak Akademi chairman Bhupen Hazarika today hailed Manipur theatre icon Ratan Thiyam’s decision to return his Padmashree to the government as the “right decision of a tormented man”.

“If I was in Ratan Thiyam’s place, I would have probably done the same thing. The award is the highest honour for an artiste. Returning it only signifies how pained he is by the Centre’s decision (to extend the ceasefire),” Hazarika, also a Padmashree awardee, told The Telegraph over telephone from his Mumbai office.

Hazarika, however, added that he was not contemplating a similar move because “Manipur and Assam’s cases are not similar. Manipur is the worst affected because of the large geographical area in contention”.

The Dadasaheb Phalke award winner, who said he was with Thiyam in Delhi three days ago, added that the Manipur theatre personality sought his views on the decision to return the Padmashree. “I told him to do what he thought was best for his land,” Hazarika said, lamenting the loss of life and property in Manipur.

The legendary singer and music director added that the entire cultural fraternity stood by Thiyam and his conviction.

Stating that he, too, was pained by the Centre’s decision, Hazarika maintained that “I am with the people of Assam. My views are similar to whatever Assam thinks”. Asked to be specific, Hazarika termed the NSCN(I-M)’s demand as “chauvinistic”.

In his letter to the President, Thiyam said the “compulsion of his bleeding heart” forced him to return the honour. “Life has not been normal in the valley of Manipur for the past month. No tangible effort or urgency is visible on the part of the Centre,” Thiyam said. He, however, added: “It is not a disrespect (that I am showing) for the civilian award of Padmashree conferred on me, it is the compulsion of my bleeding heart. Although it is a very painful decision, I am, as a protest, relinquishing this honour,”.

Thiyam said, apart from hurting the sentiments of the people of Manipur, the Union government’s decision to extend the ceasefire to the state had caused “death, injury, turmoil and restlessness” in the region.


Ranchi, July 20: 
Nearly 1,000 people were arrested today as the dawn-to-dusk Jharkhand bandh called by the Jharkhand Adivasi Janadhikar Manch threw normal life out of gear here.

The manch, led by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Salkhan Murmu, is demanding 60 per cent reservation for tribals in government jobs. Today’s bandh is the third one called by the organisation which has now threatened to launch an indefinite economic blockade.

The bandh had no impact in places like Hazaribagh, Lohardagga and Singhbhum, inspector general of police (law and order) R.C. Kaithal told mediapersons. No untoward incident was reported from any part of the state, he added.

Business establishments and schools remained closed. Commercial vehicles were off the road, causing immense hardships to commuters.

Barring a few minor skirmishes in Kantatoli and Purulia Road, the bandh was peaceful.

Rapid Action Force personnel resorted to lathicharge near Netaji Colony on the Purulia Road to prevent the protesters from damaging private vehicles.

While the inspector-general of police claimed that the authorities did their best to thwart the strike, several political parties have termed it as a “government-sponsored bandh”.

“The manch is being led by a BJP parliamentarian. Moreover, the authorities clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 to create panic among the people. Even those who wanted to go out to work preferred to remain indoors,” said Rajesh Kumar Gupta, a senior youth Congress leader of the state.

The bandh failed to evoke any response in East Singhbhum. Schools, shops and business establishments remained open and traffic was normal. However, about 227 persons were arrested and later released, adds our Jamshedpur correspondent.

In West Singbhum, the bandh evoked partial response where 80 people were taken into preventive custody.


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