Gun blazes in subscription row
Khadim’s ransom king
Mine rescue effort aborted

Calcutta, Oct. 13: 
A 28-year-old youth received bullet injuries late on Friday when a security guard of Ichhapur Gun and Shell Factory fired at him. The firing took place following an argument over subscription for Durga Puja.

The youth was admitted to RG Kar Hospital, where his condition was stated to be critical. The factory employee was arrested. The police are looking for three others, who went to the guard’s quarters to collect subscription.

The incident occurred around 10.30 pm on Friday, when members of the local Ichhapur Anandamath Club, led by the victim Tapas Chakraborty, went to the quarters of Harsh Narayan Pandey, a security guard, for collecting puja subscription. “Pandey first refused to pay. Then he requested the members to scale down the amount,” said Harisena Verma, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas district.

“As a heated argument ensued, Pandey came out with his service rifle and fired at Tapas,” said an officer of the Noapara police station. As Tapas slumped to the ground, others fled the scene.

A section of club-members then informed the Noapara police while others rushed Tapas to RG Kar Hospital.

The police have not decided whether the permission for the club’s Puja will be cancelled.


Calcutta, Oct. 13: 
The CID’s latest “catch”, Abdul Rashid, had received the largest share of the ransom booty in the Khadim’s kidnap case, according to inspector-general, CID, Partha Bhattacharya. He is believed to have received around Rs 1.5 crore.

Rashid is also known to be close to Farhan Malik, believed to be the Dubai-based mastermind of the kidnap. He was arrested in Delhi on Thursday and was brought to the city on Saturday.

“He is a big catch and this arrest should help us wrap up the case,” Bhattacharya said. Rashid is suspected to have stashed away his share of the money in a foreign bank and should be able to shed light on Malik’s operations. Investigations revealed that Rashid coordinated the abduction plan with Malik in Dubai and the abductors in the city.

The CID first learnt of Rashid from a recorded telephonic conversation between Happy Singh, Rashid, Aftab and Malik.

“We suspect that he played a pivotal role in the entire planning, leading to the abduction of Roy Burman. He was continuously in touch with Aftab, suspected to be one of the abductors along with Hussain,” said a CID official.

In course of interrogation, Rashid revealed that he had travelled to Dubai and chalked out the last-minute details of the June 25 abduction. Bhattacharya dismissed speculations that Rashid had visited the city earlier.


Asansol, Oct. 13: 
Rescue operations at the Punuria coal mines in Asansol, where nearly 100 people were feared to have been trapped, had to be suspended minutes after it started during the day.

Authorities, however, maintain that neither is anyone trapped nor has any complaint been lodged with them about missing persons from the area.

Local people agitated as the operation which started only today after a team from New Delhi arrived, three days after the disaster, had to end abruptly.

A lone bulldozer which had been pressed into service developed mechanical fault forcing the authorities to abandon the rescue operation. Senior officials, including the district magistrate, were not available for comment.

The earth-removing work was stopped about 2 am, said B.N. Ramesh, Burdwan superintendent of police. He hoped that operations would be resumed soon.

The bulldozer that was pressed into operation had come from Eastern Coalfields’ Gorundi colliery. More were likely to be requisitioned tomorrow. “We have contacted Eastern Coalfields officials asking for two more bulldozers,” the official said.

About 66,000 cubic metres of earth had to be shifted. Officials maintained that it would take up to four months to complete the entire clearing operation of the illegal mines.

In another development, coal minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he would seek a report from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for a “clear picture”. The matter will also be discussed at a national mine’s safety meeting in New Delhi tomorrow.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Paswan said such random, unscientific and illegal mining could jeopardise the lives of Coal India’s miners. He said he had been cautioning all coal-producing states against these hazardous ventures.

The two-member expert committee, comprising technical director of ECL Anjan Mukherjee and director-general of mines safety S. Yahid, formed on Thursday night had been sent to Panuria for an on-the-spot study of the situation.

“We have to excavate the entire area to start any rescue operations as we do not have any underground mines plan. The DGMS has prevented us from using any heavy machinery on safety grounds,” Mukherjee said.


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