Killers under leaders’ orders
Buddha thrust for biotech boom
Shake a leg, don’t pay through your nose
Bypass now bloodless
A place for some fun on campus
Liluah home inmate tests pregnant
Kidnap quartet in court
Learn first aid to save a life
Bankura cyber-seven beats Bengal govt
School strike to protest transfer

 
 
KILLERS UNDER LEADERS’ ORDERS 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
The spotlight in the Sailen Das murder probe is clearly on the politician-promoter nexus. According to sleuths, the Dum Dum municipality chairman had antagonised a section of the North 24-Parganas CPM leadership, as well as some shady local promoters.

Late on Sunday evening, five persons were detained for interrogation by the North 24-Parganas police in connection with the Das murder case. “Our line of investigation suggests that the killers were carrying out orders of some influential political elements in the district party unit and the Dum Dum civic administration,” a senior police official said. “The murder appears to have been politically motivated. If a free and fair investigation is allowed, it may put several key politicians of this district in a spot.”

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas, addressing a Sunday evening rally to protest the killing of the municipal chairman, assured the gathering that “all steps will be taken to bring the culprits to book”. Referring to Das as a “thorough gentleman”, Biswas said “he was the victim of a deep-rooted conspiracy”.

Das’ keenness to block several land deals and construction projects in the Dum Dum Cantonment belt had irked a section of the district party unit, police officials said. These include:

Proposed handover of the municipality’s blood bank to a private firm

Seven highrises in the Cantonment area

Conversion of a cinema hall into a shopping complex

Handover of property near the municipal hospital to promoters

The list of suspects drawn up by the sleuths includes two promoters with “strong mafia links” and two civic employees with a stake in the area’s real-estate business. Interrogation of some municipal employees and local CPM leaders has revealed that Das had taken the lead in stopping work at a Cantonment site where seven highrises were being developed by two Kumarpara-based promoters at the behest of a civic employee-cum-contractor working in the sewage department.

Das, apparently, found out about the civic employee’s role in the project and his proximity to a former Dum Dum municipality chairman belonging to an influential North 24-Parganas CPM lobby. “We are verifying reports that one of their projects had been cancelled two months ago by Das after he came to know about the murky deals that were being struck in the area behind his back,” an official said.

Das is also believed to have opposed the proposed handover of the municipality blood bank to a private party. “He was under constant pressure to sanction this and also hand over a huge plot in the area, popularly known as Jailer Math, to realtors. It was this local leaders’ lobby that persuaded Das to write a letter to the district magistrate to ‘clear obstacles’ in the handover of a 3.5-acre waterbody to a promoter,” sleuths said.

   

 
 
BUDDHA THRUST FOR BIOTECH BOOM 
 
 
BY SHANKAR MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
After infotech, biotech. Having given the IT sector a thrust by roping in the Microsofts and Wipros, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has now targeted biotechnology.

First step forward: A centre of excellence, the first of its kind in eastern India, progress on which the chief minister is monitoring personally. The centre will be located in Calcutta and search is on for a “suitable plot”, either in Salt Lake or along the EM Bypass.

The Central biotechnology department has flashed the green signal for setting up such a centre. The department is also considering a proposal to offer M. Tech and doctoral degrees in the subject.

The centre, as per the plan, will have “several wings”, including a college, to offer biotechnology degrees for both under-graduates and post-graduates, with further scope for doctoral and post-doctoral facilities. It will also have a state-of-the-art research wing and special facilities for community training. At present, the only biotechnology research centre in these parts is the one set up by The Chatterjee Group in Salt Lake.

“We are setting up the centre of excellence to cover both the theoretical and practical aspects. We shall put to practical use the new formulae in agricultural and other sectors evolved from research work at the centre,’’ said a senior officer from the higher education department. The centre, he added, will concentrate on agriculture, soil, approach for landscape and bio-diversity, medicinal and aromatic plants, herbs and drugs.

“If the biotechnology sector can be developed, viable industries with a wide market are bound to emerge,’’ said another senior official. “In fact, despite a good produce of medicinal and aromatic plants and herbs, this sector has been virtually neglected for want of proper and updated technology... Besides a large domestic market, there is a worldwide market for these products. Though we have started late, we hope to develop the sector very soon,’’ the official added.

A section of industrialists has impressed upon the chief minister the need for a biotech thrust. Following this, Bhattacharjee instructed the higher education department to draw up a plan in this regard. The department has since submitted its detailed proposal to the chief minister and the Centre.

Supporting the biotech move of the Bengal government, the Centre had suggested that either the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology or Bose Institute be turned into a centre of excellence for the purpose. But the Left Front government turned it down on the grounds that “both the institutions were busy with their own academic pursuits which should not be disturbed”.

Under the proposed format, the new centre will function under the West Bengal University of Technology and be governed by an independent body constituted by the higher education department. The governing body, chaired by the vice-chancellor of the newly-set-up university, will comprise experts in the field of biotechnology, industrialists, technologists and bureaucrats.

   

 
 
SHAKE A LEG, DON’T PAY THROUGH YOUR NOSE 
 
 
BY SUBHRO SAHA
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Want to set the dance floor ablaze till late, without burning a five-star hole in your pocket? Want “more fun for less”? To give the young and the restless a chance to dance the night away, JJ’s, “the city’s first private pub-cum-disco outside a star hotel”, will be ready to roll next month, diagonally across Minto Park.

“We are targeting young executives, with monthly pay-packets of Rs 10,000-plus. In other words, anyone with a cellphone and a credit card can walk into the basement of Munna’s Gourmet Wonders and have a good time. There won’t be any entry charge, unlike the existing pubs,” says director Sanjay Singh, younger brother of ‘catering king’ Dipak Singh, or rather, Munna Maharaj.

The promoters are banking on the “affordability factor” to make JJ’s a swinging success. “We will have only cover charges and there will be vegetarian food available till 3 in the morning — pizzas, burgers, pastas, Swiss, Mexican, Thai, the works. All this at half the price of a five-star place,” says Dhruv Dutta, business and marketing manager of the group.

The core competence is fun ’n’ food, with Munna’s roping in star tastemaker Alfonsa Gomes, former executive chef of the Oberoi Grand. “This is also the first time in the city that a vegetarian eatery has obtained a liquor licence, which adds to our uniqueness,” says Singh. Secure parking space for around 150 cars, on AJC Bose Road, is another plus.

To spice up proceedings, each of the six days (the pub will remain closed on Monday) will be dedicated to a particular theme. Tuesdays are earmarked for fashion shows and music launches; Wednesdays for movie premieres, MTV and karaoke; Thursdays for minus-one track music with a live crooner; Fridays and Saturdays will pack in live bands followed by DJ music; jam sessions will liven up Sunday afternoons.

JJ’s will have its light-and-sound system imported from Singapore. “We are getting JBL speakers, multi-coloured lasers, a computerised bar gun to dispense impromptu cocktails, besides the usual strobes, sundancers and pinspots,” says Dutta. The pub will also provide a platform for amateur bands to perform, besides hosting fashion shows and private parties.

Apart from Gourmet Wonders, the group owns Munna’s Millennium, a “Juhu-Chowpatty-style snacketeria” on the top floor of Emami Shopper’s City, Blue Fox on Park Street and the Baker’s Square chain of savouries. Future plans include a 22,000-sq ft “exclusive banquet hall with luxury rooms” in Alipore to cater to “celebrity weddings”, and a multi-cuisine restaurant with a swimming pool in Lake Town.

   

 
 
BYPASS NOW BLOODLESS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
A new heart bypass surgery technique, recently adopted with success at a specialised city hospital, rids the need for blood transfusion during or after the operation. The principle of the procedure is simple: The patient’s own blood, emitted during surgery, is recycled back into his body.

Most of the open heart bypass surgeries in the country are carried out with between five and six units of blood being transfused to make up the loss that occurs during operation. Even the minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass surgery requires up to two units of blood.

But, by using a machine called a “cell saver,” the blood that is usually lost and thrown away during a multiple vessel bypass operation is collected, purefied and returned to the patient on the operation table itself.

“Even the post-op bleeding that takes place while the patient is recovering can and is being recycled, as the cell saver machine follows the patient to the intensive care unit,” explained consultant cardiac surgeon Ajay Kaul of B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre where, till Friday, 12 patients had undergone the new procedure over the last two weeks.

“We have been trying to conserve the patient’s blood as much as possible during a beating heart surgery. It took four months to perfect the technique,” Kaul told Metro. “As much as 99 per cent of triple vessel bypass surgery nowadays is being carried out on a beating heart, where the costly heart-lung machine is not required. Now, even additional blood units are not required.”

The procedure can be done on patients with haemoglobin levels of 10 mg or more. Coagulation time should also be normal, says Kaul. “One unit (about 300 cc) is taken away from the patient when the operation starts and is replaced after the stitches are sewn. Special medicine is also given to reduce bleeding. The blood and other fluids is sucked out into the cell saver which separates the RBC for replacement later. Three units of blood are always kept on standby at our bloodbank in case something goes wrong.”

The procedure has several advantages. It saves a lot of trouble for the patient’s relatives, who do not have to run around for blood units of the matching group. “This problem is compounded when the group is rare, like AB negative.”

It also rules out the possibility of infection that may occur when another person’s blood is transfused. “Even though blood banks are supposed to follow strict testing norms now, some impurities may not be detected because of the window period stage that the impurity is passing through when the blood is collected from the donor,” says Kaul.

   

 
 
A PLACE FOR SOME FUN ON CAMPUS 
 
 
BY MADHUMITA BHATTACHARYYA
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
There’s a little more laughter, a splash more colour in the lives of the Rainbow children at Loreto Day School, Sealdah. And they are slipping and swinging in joy. This Independence Day, the little girls got a new park, courtesy Calcutta Central Ladies Central No 27.

Four swings, two slides, a seesaw and a playhouse are now at the kids’ disposal. The campus, just off the Sealdah flyover, had no playground, until the NGO volunteered to sponsor the play area, where the children would spend meal and break times.

Now, instead of the uneven paving and water tanks, they have a space to run, have fun and play with their few toys. The smiles couldn’t be broader on the faces of the kids who have been taken in by the school.

The girls now have a place to play “house”. As Sister Cyril, principal, walks into the playground, one tiny girl approaches her shyly. “Sister...” she mumbles, holding up a plate of watery sand.

“Is this my rice?” asks Sister, before “eating” from the plate.

Meal time at the doll’s house is serious business for Mou, Regina, Safina, Rina, Gouri and Pinki. The kids have painted a dog, an alligator, a camel, cat, horse and a cow on the multi-coloured walls themselves. “The children are just thrilled, especially the little ones,” smiles Sister.

The Ladies Circle members are also pleased with the effort. They donated 300 textbooks and old toys and clothes to the school as well, on the August 15 inauguration. And this is not the only activity of the club of just 16 members, which is ladies wing of the Round Table.

“We have been funding the SICW Kasba School for the last 12 years, besides holding weekly health check-ups and feeding programmes,” says club publicity convener Shilpa Binani.

The Circlers have donated water filters, dug tubewells and conducted Hepatitis-B vaccinations as well, in addition to providing the school with moulded plastic tables and chairs.

They have also worked with the non-formal schools of the All India Women’s Conference, the NGO Disha and a refugee school in Garia.

Last year, around 200 children from CINI-Asha were taken to Clown Town.

   

 
 
LILUAH HOME INMATE TESTS PREGNANT 
 
 
BY PRONAB MONDAL
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
The Liluah Home for Destitute Women has been rocked by a scandal, yet again.

A 31-year-old deaf-and-mute inmate of the home has been found to be “three months’ pregnant” by doctors of Howrah General Hospital. Following the revelation, the authorities of the Liluah home have transferred her to Sukanya, the Salt Lake centre. The state welfare department has ordered a “high-level inquiry”.

In April, two inmates had attempted suicide in the home. Both the girls had tried to take their lives after alleged “sexual abuse” by another inmate, Monalisa.

Police were foiled thrice in their attempt to arrest Monalisa. She was finally rounded up on the fourth attempt and remanded in Howrah Jail.

The mute woman, at the centre of the latest scandal, arrived at the home 10 years ago. She was recently referred to Howrah General Hospital by the home’s resident doctor, where her pregnancy test was positive. This was later confirmed by ultrasonography.

On receiving her medical report, the authorities informed the welfare department, Howrah district magistrate Sunil Kumar Gupta and other senior officials. The welfare department has directed Gupta to start a probe.

The investigating officers have failed to come up with any leads so far. “The inmate is completely deaf and mute and can’t write. We have engaged experts for clues, but so far, no headway has been made,” said an official. The authorities and investigating officers have questioned her roommates. “Surprisingly, they also don’t know anything and we are still in the dark,” said an official of the district administration.

R.K. Tempo, director of the social welfare department, said she has instructed the Howrah district magistrate to conduct an inquiry. “I have told Gupta to submit his report as soon as possible. We suspect that the culprit is among those who have easy access to the home and may attempt to thwart the probe by threatening the victim,” Tempo said.

   

 
 
KIDNAP QUARTET IN COURT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
The four persons arrested in Hyderabad in connection with the abduction of Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman were remanded in police custody till August 31 after being produced in the sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court, Alipore, on Sunday.

The arrested — Khwaja Altaf Ahmed Qureshi, Md. Ishaque, Mehbub Ali, alias Kaisar, and Abdul Karimuddin — were brought to court under heavy armed escort. A police convoy of six cars followed them, blowing hooters all the way.

A police officer present in court said: “This kind of security is unprecedented for such criminals.” The courtroom was packed to capacity when the arrested were brought from Kasba police station around 3.50 pm. Public prosecutor Taj Mohammed said: “There is definite proof that they were linked with the abduction.”

Ishaque, one of the arrested, pleaded innocence and sought permission to engage a lawyer. The judge promised to look into the request. Inspector-general of police (south Bengal) Prasun Mukherjee later said: “The four were arrested on charges of kidnapping and conspiracy.”

   

 
 
LEARN FIRST AID TO SAVE A LIFE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
It can happen anywhere. At office, while walking on the road. An accident, a heart attack or a stroke so severe that the victim is pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. But death can be staved. Before professional help can reach the victim on the spot or at a hospital, office colleagues or any passerby could give the victim basic immediate attention that can save his life.

“The golden hour between life and death is crucial. If a person, any person, has some simple training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), on how to stop profuse bleeding, on what to do in case of a spinal injury and on how to tie splints to prevent a broken bone injury becoming more severe, that person is doing more than what a doctor can do at that point of time,” pointed out cardiologist Saurabh Kole, secretary of the Calcutta branch of the Indian Society for Critical Care Medicine.

At a workshop held to commemorate the death of 16 football fans at Eden Gardens 21 years ago, intensive care specialists and cardiologists explained to a gathering of sportsmen, students and people that dispensing emergency first aid should be everyone’s responsibility.

Such intervention can prevent irreversible damage to the brain or other vital organs that can occur if the heart stops beating and respiration ceases for more than four or five minutes, said intensive care specialist Satyajit Sinha. He demonstrated on a life-size model how CPR is administered.

   

 
 
BANKURA CYBER-SEVEN BEATS BENGAL GOVT 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Seven individuals, egged on by a now-powerless ex-minister, have succeeded in beating the government to developing the state’s first district-specific information website.

Besides taking Bankura to the worldwide web via www.bankura.org, Sofia, the voluntary organisation the seven have formed, is on its way to beating chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s “do-it-now” government to forming the state’s first private-enterprise intra-district cyber-network for the common man’s benefit.

The seven volunteers come from different walks of life — president Swapan Ghosh is the district librarian, vice-president Siddhartha Bhattacharyya is a lecturer and assistant secretary Anupam Ganguly has a civil-engineering background. But between them and the four other co-members. they share a dream to “clear some misconceptions” about Bankura. “Outsiders have been fed on images of a power-less, snake-infested Bankura,” Ganguly said from Bankura today. “We want to tell the world that there are some other things as well.”

Valuable, but totally unexpected, guidance came from ex-power minister Shankar Sen. “I went to Andhra Pradesh to address a seminar on taking IT to villagers when I was a minister,” Sen told The Telegraph. Impressed by what he saw in ‘“CEO” Chandrababu Naidu’s state, he offered “a model” to the seven-member organisation when approached for help, Sen said. “But it’s all their job and no one should share the credit due to them,” he added modestly.

The “job” that the volunteers have done is so detailed that all that the government, when it gets to district-specific websites, can hope to do is to emulate them.

The website does not leave out anything — among other information it includes the district’s population, the road-length, a detailed picture of the district’s economic status that is backed up with statistics and the history of crafts like the Baluchari and the Dokra.

The project they now have on hand is even more ambitious: it involves cyber-connecting the district’s 22 blocks. Each block, said Ganguly, would have one cyber cafe run by unemployed youths who would charge a nominal fee to give “anyone any information” about the district. “The information may range from the average rainfall the district gets to the agriculture pattern of a specific block,” he added.

But the completed project — the website — should be enough to make the state-machinery envious. The effort that went into it was “immense”, Sofia assistant secretary Ganguly said. It took them “eight months and poring through more than 300 huge volumes” to complete research for the website. “And all that without any government help,” added the former power minister.

   

 
 
SCHOOL STRIKE TO PROTEST TRANSFER 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Midnapore, Aug. 19: 
Boys of a co-educational school in Ghatal have called an indefinite strike after four students were issued transfer certificates after being found playing with sanitary napkins inside the classroom.

The students have called the strike even as the school authorities prepare to celebrate 120 years of the school’s existence, founded by Vidyasagar in 1882.

The school authorities’ action followed a complaint from class-XII girls that some boys in their class had hung sanitary napkins on the blackboard. Headmaster Dulal Kar and matron Sandhya Rana found the complaints to be true after an on-the-spot inspection. After receiving the names of those involved — Abhik Das, Anupam Pal, Ranjan Saha and Gaurab Datta — Kar issued transfer certificates.

Some students gheraoed the headmaster, urging him to reconsider the decision. They also forced other students out of class and locked the gates of the school. The boys sat on a dharna after Kar, backed by other teachers, stood by his decision.

“We had received complaints against these boys in the past and have, therefore, decided to be firm this time,” the headmaster explained.

Local Chhatra Parishad supporters, however, alleged that the students who were issued transfer certificates were not named by their classmates. Describing the headmaster as “incompetent”, they said he got the post as he was a CPM supporter. “He wants to destroy the students’ career as they are our supporters,” they added.

The local administration has taken a serious note of the incident. Ghatal sub-divisional officer Shantinath Ghosh has spoken to the school authorities and teachers’ representatives and asked them to reopen the school on Monday. “We cannot let the image of a school, founded by Vidyasagar, to be tarnished,” Ghosh said.

   
 

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