Do-not-disturb sign till weekend
Cops gear up for gangs on the prowl
Buddha push for IT plots
Teachers’ posts vacant for want of men
Judge visit breaks fast at orphanage
Rush for caller-ID gadgets
Technocrat back to set up IT shop
Biswas sings front-unity tune
After Rajarhat, Dankuni
Bandh over MAMC

 
 
DO-NOT-DISTURB SIGN TILL WEEKEND 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The medical process to heal the wounds of Parthapratim Roy Burman began on Friday, the day after his release. He was wheeled into the operation theatre at Woodands Hospital a little after 1 pm, where he underwent surgery to fix his broken left humerus (bone in upper arm).

A procedure called “external fixation” was carried out on the bone which had cracked and broken into several fragments under the impact of one of the bullets fired on him when he was abducted on July 25. The other bullet, which had struck his left forearm, had not caused “serious injury”, Woodlands Hospital medical director S.K. Sen reiterated on Friday.

Sen and orthopaedic consultant Gautam Saha were among the doctors and other personnel in the OT during the 90-minute process. “Dr Saha conducted the surgery, which went off well. He (Roy Burman) is still groggy with the effect of anaesthesia,” Sen later said.

Roy Burman was taken to a post-operation recovery room, before being brought back to his suite on the third floor, later in the evening. He was complaining of pain and had to be administered a painkilling injection.

Though policemen continued their vigil outside his room, they were not allowed to speak to the footwear magnate. “The patient is not yet ready to face a detailed interrogation,” doctors said. This will be not be possible before Saturday, they added.

Roy Burman will require another “major surgery” on his arm on Monday to repair the bone and some damaged nerves, Sen said. “This operation will be of longer duration and will be conducted after a few other tests are carried out on him,” he added. Consultant surgeon Darius Anklesaria, who has already carried out a preliminary examination of Roy Burman, will conduct this surgery.

Roy Burman’s family members and friends were at the hospital from the morning. Only the immediate family, including his father, wife and brother, were allowed inside.

Doctors attending on Roy Burman after he arrived at the hospital on Thursday had found the businessman “somewhat confused” while replying to their questions on the nature of his injuries and the pain. “This marginal incoherency suggests that some kind of drug may have been administered by his captors before his release,” one of them said.

“We are also trying to ascertain whether he was subjected to any other form of injury, which is not apparent or visible. That he has undergone mental trauma is evident. His ordeal will definitely leave a scar. But, on the face of it, he has remained calm and composed, even before he was taken to the OT,” a hospital source said.

Following the decision for a second operation, Roy Burman’s stay at Woodlands now seems likely to stretch well into the next week. The investigative agencies probing the kidnapping will have to carry out their questioning in his hospital suite. The duration of each such session will depend on the “condition of the patient”. Medically, it should not be beyond 60 to 90 minutes each, doctors said.

   

 
 
COPS GEAR UP FOR GANGS ON THE PROWL 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The police are gearing up to tackle the threat posed by professional gangs on the prowl in Calcutta. A select few from the detective department are being put through “rigorous training” under members of the Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh, the CBI Academy in Ghaziabad and the crime branch of Mumbai Police.

“The idea is to give the boys maximum exposure to the modus operandi of police departments operating from places like Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh,” said police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty. “The training should help us in our endeavour to safeguard the lives of citizens.”

For the first module, 20 officers, mostly sub-inspectors from the detective department, have been picked on merit. The programme, at the police training school on the Maidan, starts at 8 am with unarmed combat. “This keeps them physically fit and sets the tone for the tough routine of the day,” said DC-DD (special branch) Sanjay Mukherjee.

The officers then head for the firing range in groups of four, armed with 9mm pistols. This session is supervised by officers from the UP task force and Mumbai Police. “Seven sharp shooters will be selected and sent to the Ghaziabad academy for higher training,” said DC-DD(I) Banibrata Basu. After a two-hour workout, it’s time for “technical training in computers and mobile phones”.

Officers from Mumbai Police are passing on tips to counter the likes of the Dawood Ibrahim gang. “The tactics of such crimelords are discussed in detail. This which will definitely help us,” said a sub-inspector, undergoing training.

Four-member groups will be sent to Lucknow for training on tackling abduction from officers of the task force. “A stint with them will prove invaluable,” said Mukherjee.

   

 
 
BUDDHA PUSH FOR IT PLOTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The space jam in IT-land has become a serious bother for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. With Sector V spilling over, the government has decided to click on the infrastructure button to accommodate more IT shops.

“There is enormous demand for space from entrepreneurs interested in setting up IT industries here. To accommodate them all, we need a large stretch of land where we can build up the infrastructure for IT industry,’’ the chief minister said at Writers’ Buildings on Friday. “We have been desperately trying to identify suitable plots in and around the city for these IT-based industries.”

In what he termed as “a major development”, Bhattacharjee revealed that “Japan has shown an interest” to invest in this sector. “Some proposals have reached us, which are under consideration,’’ the chief minister added.

At a brief function held in the Rotunda, the chief minister handed over 10 acres in the Rajarhat township to IT minister Manab Mukherjee. The IT department will “build the infrastructure and allot space” to entrepreneurs.

“We have acquired two plots of 30 acres and 100 acres at Nonadanga, where a large IT complex will be built. We are searching for more land because of the growing demand,’’ the chief minister said.

Bhattacharjee directed Mukherjee to start work for the Rajarhat IT complex “without delay”.

Gautam Deb, housing minister and chairman of Hidco, the implementing agency for the new township, said the land given to the IT department was in “a prime” location. “Another acre of land has also been given to the IT department in the township, where a multi-storeyed IT-Plaza will be built.’’ Deb added.

Mukherjee said “at least 54 applicants” are waiting for land to set up IT industries in the city. “Hidco has given us 10 acres of land to start with. We may require 100 acres of land in the township in the near future,’’ added the IT minister.

According to the chief minister, “a number of world-famous IT companies” have queued up for a base in Calcutta and utilise the enormous resources and tap the vast market of the state. “IBM is definitely coming in a big way. Wipro has already been given a large chunk of land,” he said.

Confirming reports that Wipro and IBM would provide “computer training in schools, technical colleges and polytechnics”, Bhattacharjee said: “We want students to learn computers in school to help them acquire expertise in this field as fast as possible.”

   

 
 
TEACHERS’ POSTS VACANT FOR WANT OF MEN 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The state School Service Commission is facing a peculiar problem. It can’t fill up a few hundred vacant teaching posts in several boys’ schools in Calcutta and elsewhere in the districts for subjects like history, geography, English, Bengali, philosophy and political science, since the applicants are mostly women.

Teaching posts in nearly 500 boys’ schools in and around the city continue to lie vacant, as predominantly women candidates are appearing in the recruitment tests in these subjects every year. According to sources in the state education department, this is the fallout of a general trend which has seen very few male candidates actually pursuing higher studies in these subjects.

The scarcity of male candidates has put the commission in a fix. There is a standing order by the government that a boys’ school cannot take in a lone female employee. As a result, the commission is compelled to withhold the appointment of teachers in such schools even if an adequate number of candidates qualify in the recruitment tests conducted by it. According to school education minister Kanti Biswas: “The government is aware of the problem that is arising, since girls are doing better than boys in education, philosophy, political science and some other subjects.”

The minister, however, made it clear that the government will not permit the commission to recruit a lone female teacher in any boys’ school. “It is to safeguard the the interest of the candidate that the government allows a minimum of two female teachers in a boys’ school,” Biswas explained.

R.K. Saha, commission chairman, said: “There are plenty of boys’ schools which have only male teachers. Many of them have approached us for teachers in subjects like history and English. But we are unable to fill up the posts despite having suitable candidates, as they are women.”

There are 12,000-odd state-aided secondary and higher secondary schools, nearly a thousand of which are in Calcutta. Education department sources said the government has been following the system of not allowing female teachers in boys’ schools “for reasons of discipline”. Complaints from a section of female teachers already employed in some boys’ schools have also prompted the government decision of not allowing less than two female employees in any given boys’ school. In one such complaint, a female teacher in a boys’ school in the city alleged that some Class IX students had taken her photograph on the sly while she was teaching in class.

According to sources in the commission, there are two options in such a situation. “We have to either appoint two female teachers at a time for these schools, or wait till the employment exchange sends a female candidate for a non-teaching post,” said a commission official. The non-teaching posts in state-aided schools are filled through the employment exchanges.

It is also the duty of the commission to fill the vacant posts to avoid disruption in academic activities of the schools, but it is hamstrung by the lopsided sex ratio among candidates taking up these subjects for higher studies.

   

 
 
JUDGE VISIT BREAKS FAST AT ORPHANAGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The hungerstrike resorted to by the inmates of The Refuge was withdrawn after 27 hours on Friday afternoon. The chief judge of the city civil court visited the Bowbazar orphanage on Friday morning, in response to a plea for intervention submitted to High Court Chief Justice A.K. Mathur.

The strike was called to seek expulsion of two staff members, Satyakam Hajra and Ujjal Roy, who were engaged in disruptive activities at the home, with support from local political leaders. The students also wanted the present committee to be disbanded and opportunities for post-Madhyamik studies.

The orphanage, which has long been riddled by political intervention, was the scene of hectic parleys all day. “The students had even refused to drink water since Thursday noon and five fell ill this morning”, informed superintendent Basudeb Ghosh.

Said city civil court chief judge S.K. Maity: “The Chief Justice is anxious about the situation at the orphanage. Under his instruction, I have met all sides and will submit my report on Monday.” The judge has asked for seven days’ time to take action.

Meanwhile, to facilitate future action, seven governors have offered to resign. “But none of the political elements who forced their way into the 19-member committee have come yet,” said Gobindo, an inmate. “A former students, who was fasting with us, was heckled last night,” he added.

The orphanage turned 100 in February. Unless a purge is initiated, the 350-odd inmates run the risk of losing their only refuge.

   

 
 
RUSH FOR CALLER-ID GADGETS 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The city has witnessed a spurt in the sale of caller-line identification (CLI) machines — most of them from China and not approved by the Department of Telecommunication — in the wake of the abduction of Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman.

Chandni Chowk, the hub of the electronics goods market, has at least 100 outlets selling these gadgets that help those receiving calls on their land lines identify their callers.

The Chinese CLI accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the sales figures; moderate estimates put the daily sale in the grey market at “at least 100” units, and rising.

Rahim Ahmed, of Telezone, says his shop has seen at least one CLI purchase every day through last week. “Most customers say they have been receiving threat calls,” Ahmed told Metro on Friday afternoon, while explaining to yet another customer how the gadget worked. “And buyers include even middle-level businessmen, notches below the Roy Burmans,” he added.

Shopkeepers say customers zero in on the Chinese brand though it is not approved by the Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC), the sole authority which can give its stamp of approval to CLI-makers, because it comes at less than half the price of the TEC-approved brands from Indian manufacturers.

Senior regional TEC officials in the city told Metro that they had an approval list of 50 CLI-manufacturers. “But none of them is based in the eastern region, leave alone Calcutta,” said regional TEC assistant director-general K.L. Das. That could be one of the reasons for the cheaper Chinese variety flooding the market, officials said.

The attractively-packaged Chinese brand, which goes by the name Fujitel, comes at Rs 400 after a brief round of haggling; while the most popular TEC- approved brand available in Calcutta, manufactured by V.D. Telecom, sells at more than Rs 900.

Calcutta Telephones does not have the infrastructure to check whether the gadget installed in any home is TEC-approved or not, admit officials. Their task ends with giving the software connection for a Rs-50 registration fee and the first round of bi-monthly rental in advance.

   

 
 
TECHNOCRAT BACK TO SET UP IT SHOP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
Slowdown, recession, cap on investment, freeze on recruitment... All this has failed to shatter the IT dream of technocrat Jaydeep Mukherjee. The 39-year-old former executive director of PricewaterhouseCoopers has decided to set up shop in his home town and “do some quality work” here.

“Ours is primarily an IT consulting company with a strong focus on HR needs of our clients. We will offer packages comprising both systems and people,” says Mukherjee about IT Options for Strategic Solutions (iTOSS) at Infinity, Saltlec.

The IIT graduate, who had topped both the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary merit lists, has already tied up with Santa Clara-based Anshinx Soft, Washington-based International Resources Group and Mumbai-based Consindia. But the focus for the company operating in the fields of “high and low-end consulting” will clearly be on the domestic market.

“Besides formalising things at our US office, we have also taken up space in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore,” says Mukherjee, who quit PwC to satisfy his “entrepreneurial instincts” and enjoy “the spirit of a start-up”.

Initially, the company will put in Rs 5.5 crore. Lazard India has been roped in to hunt for VCs and initial valuation. “By the end of the first year, we aim to create a team of 50 hard-core IT professionals, follow a linear growth path in numbers and grow into a Rs 40 crore establishment in our third year of operation,” explains Mukherjee, who had started his career with Computer Maintenance Corporation before switching to PwC.

“Only time will tell whether our projections will come true, but we will definitely provide a world-class working atmosphere for young IT professionals,” says Mukherjee. “After all, the point is to do some quality work, so that iTOSS can become a member of the big league of IT companies.”

   

 
 
BISWAS SINGS FRONT-UNITY TUNE 
 
 
BY TAMAL SENGUPTA
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The CPM today countered the Forward Bloc allegation that it had gained power at the expense of other alliance partners.

“We had only 37,000 party members when we came to power for the first time in 1977. But now we have 2.38 lakh party members. During these years, our membership has increased by more than two lakh. But we have not gained strength by weakening our partners,” CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said today at the condolence meeting for Sailen Dasgupta and Niren Ghosh at Dasu-Mati Bhavan in Sonarpur.

Biswas had earlier addressed condolence meetings in six districts; today’s meeting was the seventh. The CPM will organise such meetings in all the 18 districts.

A few days ago, Kamal Guha of the Forward Bloc had alleged that front chairman Biman Bose had been encouraging an indirect split within the Forward Bloc by allowing MP Amar Roy Pradhan to continue in the front despite the Forward Bloc’s decision to expel him from the party. However, Bose had refused to comment on Guha’s statement and said the issue will be discussed at the front’s meeting on August 7.

Biswas today urged CPM workers to strengthen the front and work for greater unity among the partners. “Some of the front partners have a large number of MLAs, some have more MPs than the other. But that does not mean the front constituents with a large number of MLAs or MPs are more powerful than other partners,” he added.

The CPM leader said all the front partners, including the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc, had increased their organisational strength in this year’s Assembly polls and “this was possible because the front is not just an election alliance of some opportunist forces or political parties. We have grown together and increased our strength jointly. We have to keep up this trend to check forces like the Trinamul Congress and the BJP, which together had bagged about 1.26 crore votes in the recently-concluded Assembly elections,” Biswas added.

He, however, was critical about a section of leaders in his own party who, he said, were “devoid of any political ideology”.

“We have noticed that a section of our party leaders are not very serious in fighting imperialism because they are not concerned about the political ideology of our party,” he added.

He felt there had been very few leaders like Sailen Dasgupta and Niren Ghosh in the CPM who had no personal expectations from the party. The party had survived and flourished because of leaders like them.

   

 
 
AFTER RAJARHAT, DANKUNI 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
The state government today unveiled plans to build a satellite township at Dankuni in Hooghly district. The proposed township will be the third in the state after Salt Lake and Rajarhat.

Announcing the plan at Writers’ Buildings, urban development minister Asoke Bhattacharya said the township would be developed by the CMDA. There were also plans to make Dankuni a municipal town with the formation of new municipality, he added.

Bhattacharya said the fund for the project would be raised by selling bonds worth Rs 100 crore and by taking loans from either HUDCO or the ICICI.

According to the plan, the township will come up on 8.62 sq. km. Eight hundred acres of land has already been acquired for the purpose. Three new roads connecting Delhi Road and Bombay Road would be built and one flyover will be constructed. The township will have a separate drinking water supply system with a treatment plant.

Bhattacharya said residents of the area where the proposed township is to be built would not be evicted.

“The township has been planned with a target population of two lakh. It will be like the Rajarhat township where there will be no restriction on land use and will have provision for housing, commercial and industrial complexes,’’ the minister added.

Bhattacharya has convened a meeting with the district administration and people’s representatives on August 14 to finalise the plan.

The minister said engineers had already prepared a plan, which would be finalised after consulting experts and taking opinions from the district administration. Though the cost of the land has not been decided yet, Bhattacharya said they will follow the government policy on selling land at planned townships, that is, subsidised rate for the economically weaker section and LIG, and separate rates for the MIG and the HIG.

“We shall start work as soon as the chief minister has asked us to give special attention ,’’ he added.

   

 
 
BANDH OVER MAMC 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 3: 
Members of the Mining and Allied Machineries Corporation (MAMC) Bachao Committee today intensified their stir, calling a 24-hour Durgapur sub-division bandh on Monday in protest against the Centre’s decision to close down the Durgapur-based sick public sector undertaking even as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee promised to look into the matter.

However, Citu district secretary Debabrata Banerjee said his organisation will not participate in the bandh but carry on its movement against the decision to close down the company in its own way.

The chief minister told reporters at Writers’ Buildings that a delegation of mining experts from Belarus, who met him recently expressed their eagerness to revive MAMC. “I have sent the proposal for the company’s revival. If they agree, there must be a solution to the company and its workers,” he added.

He said he had written several times to the Centre, urging it to take measures for MAMC’s revival but to no avail. “Against this, I feel the delegation from Belarus may help revive the company,” he added.

A Bachao Committee delegation, led by its convener, Tapan Purakayastha, today met sub-divisional officer Durgadas Goswami, urging him to ensure that they could make a written complaint with the police against the CISF for resorting to an “unprovoked and indiscriminate lathicharge” on the peaceful demonstration in front of residence of the chairman-cum-managing director P.R. Rohatgi on Wednesday night.

Purkayastha also told Goswami that they would submit a copy of the revival package proposal to him so that he could put pressure on the Centre through the state government.

The Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), which had recommended closure of the sick company, had set October 29 as the cut-off date for submitting a revival plan. The committee is expected to submit its revival package by the end of this month, Purkayastha said.

   
 

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