PM pleases party with Pak potshot
Kidnap raids net informer’s rivals
Sacked worker beats manager senseless
Proof test for avenger-assassin
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, July 28: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today played up to the BJP hawks, assuring the national executive that no further dialogue with Pakistan was possible unless cross-border terrorism was put on the agenda and Kashmir accepted as an integral part of India.

As if on cue, the BJP applauded the “mature and sagacious manner” in which Vajpayee and his colleagues handled the Agra summit. “The Prime Minister ensured that India’s core interests were not sacrificed in the negotiations...,” said the three-page resolution that was unanimously adopted. “We entirely agree with him that there can be no compromise on the twin issues of cross-border terrorism, backed by religious extremism, and the status of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India.”

The resolution made it clear that there could be no “meaningful” dialogue as long as the “jihadi” mentality dominated the Pakistani establishment. “There are elements in Pakistan who interpret India’s friendly gestures as a sign of weakness and a proof of the success of the Pakistani-sponsored cross-border terrorism,” it said. “The BJP would like such people to know that India’s friendly overtures are indicative of our overwhelming and oft-demonstrated strength and also of our innate desire for peace and friendship with all our neighbours. If Pakistan continues to adopt a negative posture, the Government of India should draw appropriate conclusions and plan for the future accordingly.”

Vajpayee’s address, interspersed with personal remarks, seemed more like a put-down of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf who, he said, was “ignorant” of Jammu and Kashmir’s history and “unaware” of how summits were conducted. Party spokesman Narendra Modi later quoted him as saying that Musharraf did not come in “search of peace or to seek our hand of friendship” but as a “general” whose “behaviour and approach were task-oriented”.

But the Prime Minister, Modi said, had found the summit useful from one point of view. “I met the Pakistan commander-in-chief, understood him and also identified what lay in his heart and head. These talks will be useful for formulating future Indo-Pak strategies,” Vajpayee reportedly said.

Modi said Vajpayee told the meeting that he had lost hope of a positive outcome after the first round of talks. “He asked me how did I come into politics? I said I was a journalist and had gone to Kashmir to cover Shyama Prasad Mookerjee’s andolan. I was so moved by his movement that I decided to take up full-time politics. So, now you can understand how dear Kashmir is to my heart,” Modi quoted Vajpayee as saying.

The tone of the resolution and the discussions that followed suggested that Vajpayee had no choice but to play along with the hawkish mood in the party vis-à-vis Pakistan. Sources said a senior member asked why Musharraf was invited for talks when he had not made any effort to contain cross-border terrorism. Former Rajasthan chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat — a Vajpayee confidant — even debunked the Centre’s confidence building measures and warned that if they were implemented in his state, “Jodhpur and Jaisalmer could turn into another Jammu and Kashmir”.

Vajpayee was also reportedly silent on his return visit to Islamabad and made only a passing mention of peace talks.


Calcutta, July 28: 
It was billed to be the breakthrough of the week. Pushed to the wall with barely any information trickling in about kidnapped shoe magnate Parthapratim Roy Burman, policemen investigating the case swung into action late on Friday on a tip-off that the kidnappers may be holed up in the southern fringes of the city.

The informer: Mohammed Taslim alias Chunnu, the “titan” of Tiljala. Policemen were certain that if there was one person who would know about the kidnappers, it had to be Chunnu.

With his network of informers, Chunnu, a local businessman with a dubious record and close links with the CPM, gets information on his area that even the smartest of police officers fail to get. As the abduction had taken place at his doorstep —- in front of the Khadim’s warehouse which is a stone’s throw from his house — there was hardly any doubt in any officer’s mind that if Chunnu led the way, they would surely find their quarry.

So when Chunnu told the police on Friday night that he had “solid information” that the kidnappers had taken shelter in or around Garia, there was a flurry of activity at the CID headquarters in Bhawani Bhavan. Policemen were mobilised, cars readied and the raiding parties briefed in detail.

Within minutes, about 50 policemen in eight vehicles sped off in search of the kidnappers, Chunnu in tow. From Topsia to Kalikapur, from New Garia to the EM Bypass, they spent the night scouring the underworld hideouts in search of the kidnappers.

But their quarry proved elusive. At the end of a tiring night — it stretched on to the early hours of Saturday — all that the police had in their net were seven criminals known to be “business rivals” of Chunnu.

Was the Tiljala “titan” taking the police for a ride and making a quick killing by getting his rivals behind bars? “It was a night of wasted efforts,” complained an inspector. “What we finally got was a bagful of goons, all opposed to Chunnu.”

Speaking to The Telegraph today, Chunnu said: “What do the police expect, that I will know everything about every crime committed in the city? Just because Roy Burman was kidnapped near my house, it doesn’t mean that I am involved in this mess. I got information that Manoj Singh was behind it and that Malcolm (another wanted person) knew about his whereabouts, so I informed the police.”

The policemen have taken the incident in their stride. “It is our duty to check out each and every lead and that is precisely what we have been doing,” said Partha Bhattacharjee, IG, CID.


Calcutta, July 28: 
A manager of a Falta-based company was on life-support systems tonight after a dismissed worker waylaid him and led an assault, lengthening the list of battered executives in a state struggling to live down its turbulent industrial-relations past.

An unconscious Subir Dutta, the manager of Antertica Packaging Company, was rushed to hospital on Friday night after the assault. Doctors said Dutta’s condition was extremely critical and he was under observation.

Police have yet to arrest Mozammel Mollah, who, along with a group of employees, allegedly attacked Dutta. Mollah, a carpenter, was sacked by Dutta a few months ago on grounds of incompetence. The police have arrested 15 people so far.

This is the third attack by labourers on managers in the past seven months. In January, workers of Baranagar Jute Mill burnt alive two executives in front of the mill’s central office after one of the officers fired from his revolver, killing a mill worker.

On July 7, workers beat up the general manager and personnel manager of the 111-year-old Howrah Jute Mill.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed concern over Friday’s incident, saying stern action would be taken against those involved. “I have been told that two persons are responsible for the incident,” he said, but refused to name them.

“I strongly feel that the growing mistrust between the management and staff has to be cleared to ensure a healthy industrial atmosphere,” the chief minister said at the Press Club this evening.

He added that a committee has been formed to look into the rising violence in jute mills and the reopening of closed units.

Echoing Bhattacharjee, labour minister Mohammad Amin said the government has taken serious note of the attack.

“I am aware of the incident and the police have been asked to take necessary action. I will meet the union leaders in a day or two,” the minister said.

According to preliminary reports, Friday’s incident was the fallout of a row between Dutta and Mollah.

Mukul Roy, officer-in-charge of Diamond Harbour police station, said Dutta and a colleague were returning home from the Falta factory in a Tata Sumo around 10 pm on Friday.

As their vehicle reached Khailan in Diamond Harbour, Mollah and his followers forced the driver to stop the car, according to the complaint lodged by Gauranga Dutta Chowdhury, who was with the manager. The complaint said the group included some factory workers.

Mollah then dragged Dutta out of the car and began to kick and punch him. The gang also beat him with a baton. The driver and Chowdhury were pushed away when they tried to rescue Dutta.

As Dutta slumped to the ground, Mollah and his associates left. Chowdhury then drove straight to Calcutta and admitted Dutta to a city hospital.

A manhunt has been launched for Mollah, the police said. Senior police officers, including additional superintendent of police (rural) Rajesh Kumar Singh, have gone to Falta.


New Delhi and Dehra Dun, July 28: 
Sher Singh Rana alias Pankaj Kalra has a problem courtrooms rarely witness. After pleading guilty in public, the self-confessed killer of Phoolan is finding it difficult to prove his motive.

At the moment, nobody is convinced that he is the avenger of Behmai. Not police, not Phoolan’s relatives, not even Behmai, where the slain Bandit Queen allegedly mowed down 23 Thakurs 20 years ago.

The first to punch a hole in Pankaj’s story were Delhi police, which produced him in court today after dutifully draping a cloth over his face — several hours after his face was plastered in newspapers and on television screens.

Contradicting Pankaj’s claim yesterday that he had only one accomplice — Ravinder Singh of Meerut— the police added two names to the list, that of Shekhar and Rajvir Singh. But the police would say no more, other than that they have launched a “massive manhunt” for the trio and are looking for a white Maruti used as an escort by the assailants.

The police said they have also seized four SIM cards (mobile phone cards), two cellphones and two country-made pistols from Pankaj.

Two of the cards were bought in Delhi and the rest in Uttar Pradesh. All the cards were exhausted on the day of Phoolan’s murder, which has prompted the police to probe whether someone else was guiding Pankaj over phone.

The police are now pinning hopes on the digital trail of the phone calls. The police wanted to keep Pankaj in custody for a fortnight but the court limited the remand to 10 days.

Dehra Dun police are probing whether he had any links with the underworld as one of the accomplices had been connected with a Mumbai-based don who is now living abroad. The police are looking for two more persons who reportedly accompanied Pankaj to the press club, where he made the dramatic announcement yesterday.

“It could have been a contract murder and Rana’s surrender may have been planned to derail investigations,” a police officer said. He also did not rule out the possibility of Rana retracting his confession in court.

Phoolan’s younger sister Munni Devi, too, refused to buy Pankaj’s Behmai motive. “There is a larger conspiracy involving more people. Uma (Kashyap) and Pankaj should be thoroughly interrogated to get to the truth,” Munni said.

Uma, who heads Phoolan’s political outfit Eklavya Sena, and her husband Vijay Kumar are now in police custody. Pankaj had said yesterday Uma was not aware of the murder plot.

“Uma was always accompanied by Pankaj, Vijay Kumar and two other men. One of them was short and stocky. I did not interact with them much,” Munni said. “When the shots rang out, Ramchander Kashyap (an Eklavya Sena activist) and Uma were chatting. They did not step out of the bungalow for a good 10 minutes,” she added.

However, Ramchander denied the charge and said he ran out fast enough to identify a gunman, though he was masked. “His face was masked but I could identify him as Pankaj from his body movements,” he said.




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Minimum: 27.9°C (+2)


0.5 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 88%,
Minimum: 77%


One or two spells of light to moderate rain in some parts
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Sunset: 6.18 pm

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