Blood on streets, bus ablaze
Tiljala trail in Dum Dum murder
Last shanty razed along canal banks
Enter, gateway to swifter access
The City Diary
A cradle of hope, a haven for the homeless
Friday date for Part II results
Varsity sets up art restoration lab
Schools ground diploma engineers
SFI leaders showcaused for gherao

 
 
BLOOD ON STREETS, BUS ABLAZE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
Six dead, three critically injured. A bus burnt, several vehicles damaged. That was the count at the end of a Thursday marked by tragic accidents and road rage.

What was, in the evening, termed as “a sad day for Calcutta” by M.K. Singh, deputy commissioner, traffic, began as early as 5 am. Prayag Raj Jaiswal, 38, was run over by a lorry on APC Road.

At 7 am, Kanak Kayal, 40, was crossing Mahatma Gandhi Road, in the Amherst Street area, on her way to NRS Medical College and Hospital for treatment. She was run over by a private bus. Kanak, a resident of Mograhat, in South 24-Parganas, was, ironically, taken to NRS, where she was declared “brought dead”. The driver fled but the bus, plying between Sealdah and Howrah, was impounded.

At 7.45 am, Rupa Dey, 28, was taking her nine-year-old son Sumit to St Paul’s School. Rupa had just started to cross the street in front of Prachi cinema when, to her horror, she spotted a Sealdah-bound private bus speeding straight for Sumit, a few feet ahead of her. In a desperate bid to save her son, Rupa lunged forward and shoved him away. The bus grazed the son, but the left rear wheel crushed the mother.

The killer bus then swerved to the left, knocking down Kaushalya Mahato, 32, and her four-year-old son Surit, also on his way to St Paul’s School, and sped away.

At NRS Medical College and Hospital, Rupa was declared “brought dead”, while Sumit was admitted in “a critical condition”. Kaushalya and Surit were taken to the emergency section, from where the boy was shifted to the surgical ward. Doctors attending on him feared they might have to amputate one of his legs to save his life.

As news of Rupa’s death reached the accident site, a mob went berserk. All passing vehicles were stoned. Then, a private bus on route 230 was stopped. The passengers were ordered off before it was set ablaze. Another section of the mob, meanwhile, was busy smashing the windscreens of a bus and three cars. Attempts to set another bus on fire were thwarted by a police contingent which, too, was pelted with brickbats.

The police resorted to “a mild lathicharge”, in which some people were injured. Order was restored around 9.30 am.

“The entire Sealdah area has become a death trap. With the speeding buses refusing to follow any road rules, and the tram tracks running down the middle of busy streets here, an accident is just waiting to happen,” alleged local people. “How many more lives will be lost and families destroyed before the police and the civic authorities do something about this?” they demanded.

Within 15 minutes of the mob fury in Sealdah being brought under control, trouble broke out on Harish Mukherjee Road, with Sunil Shaw, a cyclist, being run over by a minibus. The 38-year-old resident of Sambhunath Pandit Street was crossing the road when the minibus, in a bid to overtake another bus on the same route, smashed into him.

The minibus sped away. Local residents put up a road blockade, disrupting traffic till 12 noon.

Around 7.55 am, an unidentified middle-aged man was run over and killed by a private bus at Taratala.

There was blood on the streets again in the evening. At around 6.15 pm, an unidentified 40-year-old woman was killed by a CTC bus near the Rajabazar tram depot. Police said the accident occurred while the bus was leaving its depot. The woman was knocked down while crossing the street. She was taken to NRS Medical College and Hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. The driver managed to flee.

The spate of road accidents comes within hours of the police complaining about how the “ever-increasing” pressure of vehicular and pedestrian flow had made the streets of Calcutta difficult to monitor.

M.K. Singh,while explaining the cause of rising accidents, had observed how “the six per cent road space in the city has been further reduced” due to various factors beyond the control of his force.

In the past three years, road space has been reduced due to the rise in pedestrian flow and the return of hawkers to the pavements. This has coincided with the volume of traffic going up by 143 per cent, according to police records.

   

 
 
TILJALA TRAIL IN DUM DUM MURDER 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
From Dum Dum to Tiljala, from Sailen Das to Parthapratim Roy Burman, the police have traced a common link.

Interrogation of Biswajit Burman, prime accused in the Sailen Das murder case who was arrested in Ajmer on Wednesday, has established his links with “well-known” criminals of Tiljala. Biswajit has told the police that he learnt to shoot and kill at a tender age while in Tiljala. It is also with the help of the Tiljala underworld that he escaped from the city after the daring August 13 operation at Das’ P.K. Guha Lane doorstep.

“Biswajit had good contacts, which he used to flee the city to a safe house in New Delhi, before proceeding to Ajmer,” said superintendent of police (North 24 Parganas) M. Harisena Verma.

Biswajit shot into prominence last year after killing Karaya criminal Vijay Yadav. That killing helped him re-establish his links with the Tiljala underworld, as he managed to evade arrest by slipping into the area’s murky bylanes.

“Biswajit started frequenting Tiljala more often since then,” officer-in-charge of Karaya police station Subrata Ghosh said. “That he was hired for the job explains the kind of reputation he had among criminals,” Ghosh added.

Sustained interrogation during the past 24 hours in Ajmer has revealed that Biswajit was contacted by Bhava, son of a police constable, with a “fat offer” of Rs 2 lakh to kill Das.

“I was told they wanted someone from south Calcutta to carry out the job to evade detection,” Burman told his interrogators. Babulal Sharma, a Dum Dum-based promoter, had asked Bhava to hire him for the job, as he “was swift and a good marksman”, according to Biswajit.

Police learnt that Bhava met Biswajit and Chhotka, a close associate, “several times in Tiljala” for dry runs before they were invited to visit P.K. Guha Lane. It was Bhava again, a trusted police source, who introduced Biswajit to Ibrahim, the man who supplied the motorcycle used by the killers to reach Das’ residence.

“I told them I needed a few other men for the operation, which they initially refused. They agreed after I told them I was not conversant with the topography of Dum Dum Cantonment,” Biswajit told his interrogators. He had roped in Ismail and Bachchan for the operation by August 1.

Biswajit met Ibrahim at his Dum Dum residence, where the plot was given its finishing touches. Sharma, who till now has insisted that he was told of the plot at the last minute, broke down after hearing of Biswajit’s arrest.

“It is clear that Sharma, under instructions of influential Dum Dum municipality employee S.P. Kamath, asked Bhava to employ a contract killer for the job. It seems the offer was too much for the young criminal to resist,” SP Verma told Metro.

On August 13, Biswajit rode the motorcycle with Ismail and Bachchan to Das’ residence, where he put his sharp-shooting skills to use. Biswajit fled the spot after snatching a bike from Das’ neighbour, Sandip Biswas, to airport gate no. 1. After hanging around for a day in North-24 Parganas, Biswajit left for Puri en route to New Delhi, police suspect.

   

 
 
LAST SHANTY RAZED ALONG CANAL BANKS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
The last shanty on the banks of Tolly’s Nullah came down at 5.15 pm on Thursday, bringing the eviction drive to an end. Neither the settlers nor the Trinamul Congress put up any resistance.

“The chapter is closed. All that is left to be done is the removal of debris,” said South 24-Parganas district magistrate Alapan Bandopadhyay. On Thursday, a 6.5-km stretch between Kudghat and Garia were was cleared.

Whatever hopes the settlers had of obtaining a stay on the demolitions dissolved on Thursday. When the Supreme court hears their petition on Monday, there will be nothing much to deliberate on.

On the concluding day of the drive, the South 24-Parganas district administration, police and CMDA officials cleared the stretch from Garia bridge to Bansdroni.

The Trinamul, however, is threatening more protests. “We are holding meetings at the Garia crossing daily to protest the inhuman eviction of settlers by the CPM-led government. On Friday, we will take out a procession from Garia to Naktala. We will continue in our efforts to build up public opinion against the eviction,” said Mukul Roy, all-India general secretary of Trinamul.

For starters, Trinamul has organised a rally on Friday to try and whip up support against the Left Front on the eviction issue.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said that with the banks of Tolly’s Nullah free of encroachers, the government will now take up more such projects along the banks of Circular Canal and Bagjola canal. “The entire city cannot suffer because of a few families, who have illegally settled on the banks,” he added.

   

 
 
ENTER, GATEWAY TO SWIFTER ACCESS 
 
 
BY ALOKANANDA GHOSH
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
If speed is the essence, there’s good news for software shops in the Salt Lake Electronic Complex (Saltlec). The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) is all set to commission a high-speed data communication facility in Saltlec. The new gateway, built jointly by STPI-Delhi and Webel, is expected to be operational in the first week of November.

“The first STPI gateway in Calcutta will enable software units to access other remote networks faster, resulting in better connectivity and productivity. Data communication services under the brand name SoftNet will provide a gamut of services, including access to the Internet and two-way video-conferencing,” says Chiranjib Rudra, director of STPI Calcutta.

The facilities will be available for now to export-oriented units (EOUs) in the city. Selling bandwidth to private Internet service providers (ISPs) will be considered later. This will be the fourth government gateway in the eastern region, with one each now in Calcutta, Halisahar and Bhubaneswar. Caltiger has a private gateway in Calcutta. “The STPI has 20 international gateways in different parts of the country. The Calcutta one will first provide around 40mbps of bandwidth to users. This can be upgraded as and when required,” adds Rudra.

Among the beneficiaries of increased bandwidth in Saltlec will be software major Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS). Siddhartha Mukherjee, vice-president, welcomes the move: “Bandwidth is a major concern for all software development units here. We have to communicate with our clients overseas and also transfer a huge amount of data and graphic files every day. It is especially difficult to develop graphic files with the present bandwidth constraints.”

Webel has allocated 3 acres near the second STP building for the earth station. The state’s nodal IT agency has also contributed around Rs 1 crore to the Rs 15-crore project and provided 3,000 sq ft of built-in space at the site.

Besides better connectivity, the earth station will also be utilised for value-added services, like virtual private network (VPN), application service provider (ASP), frame relay and IP roaming. The IP roaming facility will allow users to access their Internet account from anywhere in the world, while the frame relay option is used for access with speeds higher than 56kbps. Companies can use the VPN to create their own “secure network” and transport data on the Net. The STPI also plans to function as an ASP “to manage and distribute software-based services and solutions” to customers.

“With the software industry expected to grow fast, the earth station is coming up at the right time in the right place,” concludes Rudra.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Patient commits suicide

Manju Dey, 26, a heart patient, committed suicide inside a toilet of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on Thursday. A resident of Singbhum in Hooghly, Dey had been undergoing treatment in the cardiology department. Doctors said she had been suffering from psychological problems.

Cellular service

Reliance-promoted Reliable Internet Services has reportedly signed the cellular licence for the Calcutta circle, which it won in the last round of bidding, on Thursday. In the latest round of cellular bidding, Reliance had emerged as successful bidder for the Calcutta circle with a bid amount of Rs 78.01 crore.

Forged papers

The police recovered forged National Savings Certificates and non-judicial stamps worth Rs 3.7 lakh from the Port area on Thursday. Two persons were arrested in this connection. One of them hails from Bihar.

Club raid

A team from Saturday Club met mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Thursday “to apprise him of the circumstances of the raid” conducted by mayor-in-council, health, Javed Khan at the club on Wednesday. “We told the mayor that we want to stay within the parameters laid down by the CMC. But the way the officials tried to get in, with the electronic media in tow was unacceptable,” club president T.P. Ray said. The mayor has promised to look into the matter, he added.

Gariahat traffic

Traffic will be regulated in the Gariahat area for five consecutive days from Friday to facilitate the construction of the fly over there. Buses will ply along the main roads while private cars and taxis would be routed through the adjacent lanes and by-lanes. According to official sources, if the regulation proves successful, the system will continue.

Arms racket

The North 24-Parganas police busted an arms racket operating from Lake Town on Thursday. Eight weapons, 25 bombs, five kg of explosives and ammunition were found in a house in Lake Town. Police said the haul follows the arrest of drug peddler, Sekhar Mondol, two days ago. He confessed to have stored the weapons in a godown. Thumbs up to haldia dock complex for receiving an ISO 9002 certificate for quality management system with respect to activities related to port functions, shipping and cargo handling of the dock    

 
 
A CRADLE OF HOPE, A HAVEN FOR THE HOMELESS 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
This Puja gift couldn’t have been more well timed. City streetchildren will soon find a roof above their head, thanks to the hawkers evicted during Operation Sunshine. With hawkers turning their backs to the massive structure built on Galiff Street, at a cost of Rs 1.75 crore, for their rehabilitation, the civic authorities have decided to turn it into a night shelter for these children of a lesser god.

According to estimates drawn up by the conservancy department of the Corporation, at least 4,000 out of nearly 20,000 streetchildren, can be accommodated in the structure, which was originally built to house 856 hawkers. The CMC had constructed the stalls shortly after the hawker eviction programme in 1997 to rehabilitate them when they were driven out from the pavements of Shyambazar and Hatibagan.

But, the hawkers refused to go, despite requests from the CMC as well as the government. The stalls have been lying vacant since then.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Thursday he would soon get the proposal cleared by the government. “The stalls are gathering dust for about four years now. It is clear that the hawkers will not shift. So, we have decided to convert them into a night shelter for streetchildren. I will submit a proposal to the government soon,” said Mukherjee.

“We are answerable to the people and we have no right to misuse tax-payers’ money. It will be far better if the structure can be used as a night shelter for the hapless streetchildren of the city, who sleep on the pavements at night,” the mayor said. He said the CMC would seek the help of NGOs to manage the shelter.

According to the outline of the scheme, the night shelter will have about 4,000 folding cots and small lockers where the children can keep their belongings.

“In the morning, the NGOs can offer elementary education. They are also welcome if they come forward with plans to provide food, milk or health drinks for the children,” Mukherjee said.

Assistant director of the conservancy department, Swapan Mahapatra, said that an earlier survey carried out by the CMC had revealed the streetchildren were mostly orphans or deserted by their ragpicker or beggar parents. Mahapatra said a section of them was found to have migrated from the districts after being orphaned or deserted. “They roam the streets aimlessly, beg and live off left-overs from hotels and restaurants.”

Later, some of them take to ragpicking or begging, while others come in contact with criminals and become small-time thieves or drug peddlers. They spend their nights on the pavement, bus stands and railway stations.

“If we can launch the night-shelter scheme successfully and give them basic education, then we feel their rate of turning to crime for a living will be less,” the mayor said.

NGOs like CINI-Asha, who work with streetchildren, are, however, yet to be informed. “We have several schemes on streetchildren, their health and literacy. But we are not in a position to comment until we know what the CMC’s scheme is all about,” said Paromita Aich of CINI-Asha.

   

 
 
FRIDAY DATE FOR PART II RESULTS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
The results of this year’s BA, B.Sc, B.Com Part II (general) examinations of Calcutta University will be declared on Friday, sources in the controller of examinations department said on Thursday.

Nearly 30,000 candidates had taken the examinations, held in May this year. The marksheets will be distributed to the authorities of the respective colleges from the university’s College Street campus at 3 pm on Friday.

However, university officials said students will get their marksheets only by Saturday morning.

The 30,000 candidates are the first batch of examinees to have appeared in the three-year BA, B.Sc, B.Com Part II (general) examinations this year. Abolishing the two-year (general) course, the CU had introduced the new three-year course in 1998.

   

 
 
VARSITY SETS UP ART RESTORATION LAB 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
An impressive collection of more than 2,000 rare paintings, owned by Calcutta University, has gathered so much dust over the years that most of them are in a deplorable state now. The university, for the first time in 145 years, has set up a laboratory to restore this unique collection of art objects.

And, National Museum, Delhi, has stepped in with funds to run the laboratory and carry out the restoration work.

The portraits, some more than 10 ft long and six to eight feet in width, were painted by renowned artists of the Bengal school. At least 18 of these were displayed on the walls of Darbhanga Hall. Another 30, kept in the Old Senate Hall before it was demolished in the 1960s, were reportedly stacked in a room of the university-run Ashutosh Museum. Layers of dirt have made the figures opaque.

“The university has always emphasised on enriching its collection, which also comprises paintings of the Rajasthani, Pahari and Kalighat schools of art. But never before had we realised that a separate restoration laboratory is required to keep the paintings in good condition,” said N. Goswami, curator of Ashutosh Museum.

A W.C. Bonnerjee portrait by Sashi Hesh is one of the valuables now under restoration. A portrait of Rashbehari Basu, by J.P. Ganguly, was badly damaged after it fell off the Senate Hall wall. The condition of a Tagore portrait by Ramendranath Chakraborty, now coated with layers of dirt, is no better off either. The portraits of Ashutosh Mukherjee, the Maharaja of Darbhanga and Tarak Nath Palit share a similar plight.

The university has decided to engage graduates from art colleges, including Rabindra Bharati University and Government Art College, for restoration work. A panel of experts, including Chintamoni Kar and Ashesh Mitra, will guide them.

   

 
 
SCHOOLS GROUND DIPLOMA ENGINEERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
Realising that diploma engineers have no takers in secondary schools, the state government has stopped recruiting such engineers this year.

Last year, about 45 diploma engineers were taken in as work education teachers in a number of city and district schools. But their recruitment has posed a problem for the state education department.

All 45 diploma engineers were appointed through the School Service Commission (SSC) but after their recruitment, the schools’ authorities faced problems in assigning jobs to them.

“These engineers have no experience in teaching work education. As a result, we find it difficult to assign them jobs. Most of them sit idle during school hours,” alleged Prithwis Bose, president of the West Bengal Headmasters’ Association (WBHA).

“The government had erred in appointing them. In many schools, these engineers are being asked to take science classes instead,” Bose said.

Recently, the education department had instructed the schools, where these engineers are employed, to offer them the pay-scales enjoyed by teachers who had graduated with pass marks.

School education minister Kanti Biswas said: “We are not appointing engineers any more because schools don’t want any engineers as work education teachers.” SSC chairman Arun Kiran Chakraborty echoed the opinion.

The SSC will be holding a teacher’s recruitment examination on October 14. Altogether, 3.2 lakh candidates have applied for thousands of vacant posts in secondary schools.

“This time we are holding examinations to recruit teachers in 60 subjects, which is the highest in the past three years. The SSC will prepare a panel of teachers and they will be given appointment as per requirement,” Chakraborty claimed.

   

 
 
SFI LEADERS SHOWCAUSED FOR GHERAO 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 27: 
Two SFI leaders of Rabindra Bharati University (RBU), who had gheraoed the vice-chancellor on Wednesday, have been showcaused by university authorities and asked to give a written explanation within three days.

Swapan Pal and Nazrul Islam Mollah, general secretaries of the SFI-controlled students’ union, had gheraoed vice-chancellor Subhankar Chakraborty on Wednesday in his office on the B.T. Road campus and snapped the telephone connections of his office.

Chakraborty himself slapped the showcause notices on the two leaders on Wednesday. The leaders were demanding employment for two candidates as Group-D staff in the university, which Chakraborty had refused to accept.

State SFI leaders Tarun Banerjee and Somnath Bhattacharjee rushed to the campus on Wednesday after they came to know that the vice-chancellor had been gheraoed. Both Banerjee and Bhattacharjee asked the activists to lift the gherao.

A senior university official said: “It is strange that candidates for the university posts are being recommended by the student’s union. How can they interfere in administrative matters?”

   
 

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