Dum Dum den for man from Mumbai in Khadim’s kidnap
US pops Afghan surprise on Delhi
Power to people via cooperative
Visions of bandwidth heaven
Stadium big fish in Digha net
Calcutt Weather

 
 
DUM DUM DEN FOR MAN FROM MUMBAI IN KHADIM’S KIDNAP 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5: 
Investigators probing the Parthapratim Roy Burman abduction say one of the key suspects could have stayed in a busy Dum Dum neighbourhood till the afternoon Khadim’s owner returned home.

Evidence collected by the special investigating team in the last 30 hours indicates that one of the suspects stayed at a house in the Ghoshpara area along Dum Dum Road from June 1 to July 7. He suddenly left the rented accommodation on July 7 — ostensibly because his Bangalore-based daughter had taken ill — but was spotted in the area with his moustache shaved off on July 24, the night before Roy Burman was kidnapped, and August 2, the day an injured Roy Burman took a rickshaw and a taxi back home.

“The photograph of a notorious Mumbai-based gangster matches with the description of the man who rented the room in the Ghoshpara house,” an investigator said. “The sketches of our suspect have also been identified by neighbourhood people and we are searching for him,” he added.

On June 1, a man in his thirties — claiming to be Ijaz Khan from Mumbai — with a woman, supposedly his wife, knocked at Balai Ghosh’s house. “They specifically wanted to rent the third-floor room of our four-storeyed building,” Ghosh said today.

“It seemed strange that a man from Mumbai would want this room in a building on a narrow bylane for Rs 2,500 a month but we didn’t quiz him,” he added.

Khan, a stout man sporting a bushy moustache, hardly spoke to anybody or ventured out, his neighbours said. But he would entertain guests on certain evenings, they added. Another man joined the couple a few days later and stayed with them. “We told him we didn’t want any trouble,” the landlord’s son, Sourin Ghosh, said. “How were we to know that the CID would be looking for him in an abduction case?” he asked.

Khan told a few curious local people he had plans to deal in clothes at Chitpur. But he seemed to idle away his time, another tenant of the same building said, adding that the couple bought new television sets, refrigerators and furniture for their dimly-lit room.

But on July 7, Khan approached the landlord and said he would have to leave Calcutta. His daughter was ill in Bangalore, he explained, and left with his wife within a few hours after clearing his dues, Ghosh said today.

More curiously, Khan was seen twice in the neighbourhood long after that. The night before Roy Burman was kidnapped, Khan and his wife were seen scouring the neighbourhood on a motorbike. “My daughter-in-law saw him at the market,” Ghosh said. “He had shaved off his moustache and was wearing contact lenses,” he added.

Again, on August 2 — the day Roy Burman returned home — Khan spoke with a paan-shopowner in the locality. He was taking a flight to Mumbai as “his work in the city was over”, Khan told the shop-owner.

Investigators rushed to the Ghoshpara house and searched the third-floor room immediately on Roy Burman’s return. “The room was virtually empty,” a CID official said. “Ordinary people usually don’t take such pains to clean up a room they would leave behind,” he added. Several persons from the area, including the owner of the paan-shop, have been picked up for questioning.

A CID team has gone to Mumbai and Hyderabad with photographs and sketches of the man. A team is currently in Mumbai, studying a recorded conversation between the abductors and the Roy Burmans.

   

 
 
US POPS AFGHAN SURPRISE ON DELHI 
 
 
FROM K.P. NAYAR
 
Washington, Aug. 5: 
There is palpable unease in the corridors of South Block over US policy on Kashmir in the aftermath of the Agra summit.

Notwithstanding the back-slapping demeanour on both sides during the visit of Christina Rocca, the US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, to New Delhi last fortnight, some of Rocca’s statements have caused concern at the highest levels of the Indian leadership.

At the heart of New Delhi’s worry is the impression left behind by Rocca that there is a clear link between Kashmir’s woes and the troubles in Afghanistan.

In the past, the Indian leadership has been delighted by assertions by Rocca’s predecessor, Karl Inderfurth, that the problems in Kashmir and Afghanistan have an umbilical cord tying one to the other. But the Clinton administration’s view was that under-employed mujahideen from Afghanistan were finding fertile ground for jihad in Kashmir and were moving there, just as rockets, missiles and weapons from militias in Afghanistan were finding their way into Kashmir.

It was this shared perception that led to the creation of a joint working group on terrorism.

Rocca too spoke of Kashmir and Afghanistan in one breath. But she appeared to suggest a new twist to this linkage, which is causing worry in New Delhi.

The Indians detected a curious rationale between Rocca’s lines in New Delhi that unless India and Pakistan sat down and talked about Kashmir, it would be unrealistic to expect General Pervez Musharraf to reduce support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Indian assessment of Rocca’s line based on her conversations with Indian officials and South Block’s analysis of US policy from other sources runs as follows. If there had been at least an outline of an agreement in Agra followed by the initiation of even a basic dialogue on Kashmir, Musharraf would have been emboldened on his return home to rein in the jihadis.

But in the absence of any such agreement, domestic compulsions require Musharraf to continue to placate the militant outfits.

Some years ago, when Pakistan was on Washington’s terrorist watch-list, Islamabad shifted training camps for militants volunteering to fight in Kashmir out of Pakistan and into Afghanistan.

These camps continue to attract thousands of Pakistanis from the madarsas for training and, subsequently, holy war.

In order for Musharraf to dissuade Islamic parties in Pakistan from sending cannon fodder to these camps, he has to demonstrate to these parties that he is making progress on Kashmir through dialogue. Or else, his legitimacy to continue in office will itself be at risk.

America’s interest is less in Kashmir than in seeing an end to this influx from Pakistan in active militant support for the Taliban.

So runs the argument that Musharraf is hamstrung in changing his policy towards Afghanistan unless he can first change his policy on Kashmir.

   

 
 
POWER TO PEOPLE VIA COOPERATIVE 
 
 
BY SUTANUKA GHOSAL
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5: 
Rabindranath Bose is in a hurry. He’s rushing to Basubati where a fault in the transmission line is causing power cuts.

Bose works for a cooperative society that takes power to the people. Not quite the kind of power the Left Front had intended for the people but, encouraged by its experience with the cooperative society, the government is taking Bengal’s experiment with decentralisation into electricity distribution.

The Singur-Haripal Rural Electricity Cooperative Society, an organisation of 157 people — all local residents — is the only one of its kind in the country that distributes power, much more efficiently and profitably than any state electricity board.

Now the Bengal government has decided that power will be taken to rural areas, which do not yet have it, through such cooperatives alone.

“We have decided that the power department will henceforth issue registration for setting up electricity cooperative societies to expedite rural electrification,” Mrinal Banerjee, power minister, said.

The state electricity board (SEB) will sell power to these societies at a concessional rate. In turn, the societies will sell the power to consumers at SEB’s commercial rates — the difference being used to keep them going.

For instance, the SEB sells power to the cooperative at Singur and Haripal — in Hooghly district about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Calcutta — at 79 paise per unit. “We sell the power to our consumers at Rs 1.70 (the same rate the SEB charges its consumers),” said Usharanjan Chakraborty, managing director of the cooperative.

The cooperative has lighted up the homes of about 60,000 families in the area and hopes to cover the remaining 40,000 in two years. Most of all, the society has kept its head above water while the SEB suffers huge losses every year. And, unlike the SEB, it does not go on adding to its workforce. It started with 157 and continues with that strength.

R.K. Kapur, director of the Independent Power Producers’ Association of India, said: “Transmission and distribution of power through cooperative societies can be extremely successful, if handled properly.”

Having built up assets of Rs 15.88 crore, the Singur-Haripal group has already proved that it has the potential to rank alongside the National Dairy Development Board Kapur mentioned as cooperative success stories.

The trick is to make the local people responsible for their assets. “We are always alert about maintenance. Power cuts are unavoidable, but we see that they do not happen because of line faults,” said a Nimaisadhan Basu, chairman of the cooperative.

   

 
 
VISIONS OF BANDWIDTH HEAVEN 
 
 
FROM M. RAJENDRAN
 
New Delhi, Aug. 5: 
He is the Nabob of Bandwidth. Partha Mitra, a 1989 batch physics student of Presidency College and St. Xavier’s School, is literally stirring the airwaves.

Mitra (35), who heads a Bell Labs project, has come out with a startling assertion: he and his team can “theoretically” reach bandwidth speeds of 100 terabits per second (equivalent to 20 billion one-page e-mails simultaneously per strand of fibre). Put that in perspective: current bandwidth speeds are 2-3 terabits per second.

A team led by Mitra calculated that this is the maximum amount of information that can be transmitted over optical fibre. As demand for services like high-speed Internet access continues to grow and bandwidth-hungry applications like video-on-demand become increasingly popular, optical fibre will be able to keep pace with the demand for these services and those as yet unimagined. In the realm of bandwidth technology, this is a nutcracker: till now it had been difficult to theoretically calculate how much information can be transmitted over a glass fibre because the physical properties of glass make light transmitted over fibre susceptible to scrambling in a very complicated fashion.

For example, the speed of a light signal travelling through fibre depends on the intensity of the light and is not a constant as it would be in free space.

Physicists refer to this behaviour as a “non-linear” response. What it means is that such effects cause a part of a signal travelling through the fibre to turn into noise. As a result, calculating the exact amount of information that can be sent over a fibre posed a thorny challenge.

Mitra and his team took the challenge to simplify this by using an analogy from quantum physics, together with ideas from information theory. They looked at telecommunication systems that use wavelength division multiplexing — a technique by which light waves of different colours are simultaneously transmitted over the same fibre, allowing more information to be sent — and estimated how much information can be conveyed from a transmitter to a receiver. They found that if a signal is sent with too little power, the signal will be overcome by the noise in the system. On the other hand, sending a signal that is too powerful will interfere with other signals. With wavelengths and values typically used in communication networks, the scientists determined that it is theoretically possible to send 100 terabits of data per second without excessive noise or interference.

In an e-mail interview with The Telegraph, Mitra said: “We have a basic research result, the immediate impact of which will be on how people think about the system design — it is difficult to predict when laboratory demonstrations will reach these predicted limits. But the commercial viability will depend on how much that extra equipment costs, rather than the cost of the fibre itself.”

Fibre used in telecommunications is made of glass (silica). The estimates Mitra’s team made were based on parameter values relevant to standard fibre. To reach these higher data rates, one wouldn’t necessarily need to change the fibre which is already laid on the ground, but would have to add extra equipment at the two ends of the fibre.

“Our research shows that fibre is indeed a good way to build a communication network because the communication capacity can be scaled up by a lot by simply adding the terminal equipment,” said Mitra.

The scientific results of his broadband discovery appeared in the latest issue of the British journal Nature.

Mitra, whose research interests include the understanding of complex biological and man-made systems, has several research collaborations with colleagues at Caltech, New York University, Rockefeller University and the University of Minnesota in the US.

   

 
 
STADIUM BIG FISH IN DIGHA NET 
 
 
FROM KUMARESH GHOSH AND NARESH JANA
 
Midnapore, Aug. 5: 
After government-owned guest-rooms in Salt Lake stadium, it’s the turn of Calcutta Police Cooperative-hired hotel rooms at Madhuban Lodge in Digha.

Digha police arrested 28 people from the hotel in an early-morning raid today. Most of them, senior officials suspect, are connected to the 16 persons flushed out from a similar early-morning operation in late June from Salt Lake stadium.

Officials are also investigating whether the arrested criminals are, in any way, connected to the abduction of Khadim’s owner Parthapratim Roy Burman. Hotel manager Ajay Das has admitted to the police that his Calcutta-based boss had asked him not to register the names of four persons who came from the city on Friday.

The hotel has recently changed hands with unconfirmed reports saying the new owner has strong links with the police in Calcutta and could be using the hotel as a front for other activities. No version about the hotel’s ownership was available from the management.

The only person who fled the June raid, notorious criminal Palash, could also be one of those 28 arrested today. A team from the CID, which is investigating the Salt Lake stadium case, left Calcutta for Digha later in the day to identify those arrested.

The June arrests, from the stadium where transport minister Subhas Chakraborty’s writ is law and where no room can allegedly be booked without the consent of his associates, led to allegations that they had been harboured there by the minister and his associates. Chakraborty had made use of them to retain the Belgachhia (East) constituency during the Assembly elections, his political opponents in and outside the CPM had alleged.

The arrests, which came after the party had indicated that it was against any harsh action against Chakraborty, could trigger a renewed campaign against the minister.

Today’s raid was similar to the late-June operation in the stadium’s guest-rooms. As in the June raid, all the 28 arrested today were sleeping when the Digha police chose to strike around 4 am. Again, like in the stadium flush-out, the raiding party met with almost no resistance from the criminals.

Digha police officials, like their Howrah counterparts who conducted the raid in the stadium, first surrounded the lodge and then sealed all exit points. And, as in the June operation, most of the criminals were pulled out of bed by the police.

Though police could not confirm whether Palash was among those in the net, Midnapore SP A.K. Maliwal confirmed that Pinaki Mitra, an influential CPM leader from Lake Town and a key suspect in the stadium episode, was among those arrested. Officials said Mitra was wanted for marshalling criminals for the ruling party during elections.

   

 
 
CALCUTT WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 32.5°C (+1)
Minimum: 26.5°C (+1)

Rainfall

0.4 mm

Relative Humidity

Max: 95%
Min: 70%

Today

One or two spells of light to moderate rain in some parts
Sunrise: 5.12 am
Sunset: 6.13 pm
   
 

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