Five-star status for Jadavpur
Contempt twist to medical case
Andhra storm casts dark cloud over fair-sky Pujas
Ransom ruse for fun trip
4 arrested in showroom pay-up plot
For Swati, mum’s not the word
The City Diary
A new role-call for Tollywood better halves
Sip a glassful of germs
Buddha pill for better healthcare

Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
With a centre of excellence tag, can five-star status be far behind? Five months after it was adjudged a centre of excellence, Jadavpur University (JU) on Wednesday looked set for greater glory, with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) indicating that the institution would be accorded the coveted five-star status in November.

Now in its 46th year, JU will become the third educational institution from Calcutta — after Loreto College and Calcutta University — to bag the NAAC star status. Out of 35 universities assessed so far by the Council, only 16 (including Calcutta University) have been able to secure five stars.

JU’s achievement notwithstanding, the “lack of initiative” displayed by approximately 350 under-graduate colleges in Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal to strive for top billing from NAAC, has left Council officials “concerned”.

NAAC director V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai and other Council officials brought up the pronounced lack of initiative on part of the colleges in course of a meeting with state higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty on Wednesday. They asked him to urge these institutions to “work towards obtaining NAAC status”.

In the event of universities failing to get themselves accredited to the Council by 2002 and the affiliate-colleges by 2003, the University Grants Commission (UGC) will begin to turn off the funds tap for these institutions.

“ We are concerned at the low response…. Nowhere in India are under-graduate colleges as indifferent to the requirement of getting the accreditation as in the east, especially Bengal . As a matter of fact, colleges in south and west India are actually aggressively working towards getting the status as quickly as possible,” said NAAC officials.

“Even though the Bengal government has reacted positively to the system of assessment and accreditation, we have requested it to be pro-active. We are in a hurry to complete the process, ” they added.

Barring Loreto, no other college in the state has made a move for NAAC accreditation so far. To get the billing, each institution will have to undergo a process of detailed self-assessment of its performance.

On Wednesday, the visiting NAAC officials completed the three-day inspection of various JU departments.

The official verdict will be sent to the university next month, after the team returns to its headquarters in Bangalore.

“There is no doubt that most of the departments in all the three faculties in JU have achieved academic excellence. We will be able to make our final reports ready within the next two weeks and send them to the university by the first week of November, Council officials said.”

Two NAAC teams are presently touring the city to assess the performances of JU and Rabindra Bharati University. A clearer picture relating to Rabindra Bharati’s NAAC assessment will emerge on Thursday.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
A case of “medical negligence” and “wrong treatment” took a dramatic turn in Calcutta High Court on Wednesday. The court pulled up the president and secretary of the West Bengal Medical Council in the Anuradha Saha death case.

Ashok Chowdhury and secretary Dilip K. Ghosh of the Council were asked to clarify why contempt proceedings should not be started against them for “not complying with the court’s earlier order” of serving a show-cause notice on Dr Sukumar Mukherjee in the case.

Justice Pinaki Ghosh of the high court on Wednesday passed the order against the medical council officials on the basis of a petition filed by US-based doctor Kunal Saha, husband of Anuradha.

Justice Ghosh had, on March 13, directed the state medical council to serve a showcause notice on Dr Mukherjee.

This has not been served till date. Chowdhury and Ghosh were asked to file affidavits on the matter after the Puja vacations, when the case, say observers, could well script medical history.

Kunal Saha had come to Calcutta on holiday with wife Anuradha a few years ago. Anuradha had fallen ill with a skin irritation and had been treated by some eminent city doctors, including Dr Mukherjee. But Anuradha’s condition deteriorated and she was transferred to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, where she died.

Kunal Saha then lodged a complaint with the West Bengal Medical Council, accusing Dr Mukherjee of “negligence” and “wrong treatment”.

In his first petition on March 1, Saha had alleged that members of the state medical council were not taking any steps against Dr Mukherjee, despite repeated requests to its office-bearers.

Saha sued the doctors who had treated his wife in civil and criminal courts. He also lodged a complaint against the physicians with the state medical council.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
Four days after the monsoon had ‘officially’ bowed out, rain lashed the city through most of Wednesday. This threw peak-hour traffic out of gear, stopped Puja shoppers in their tracks and cast a dark cloud over the prospects of a fair-weather Puja next week.

The weatherman put the showers down to “a cyclonic storm over the Andhra Pradesh coast”. R.N. Goldar, director of Alipore Meteorological Centre, warned on Wednesday that the rains would continue for the next 48 hours. At 5.30 pm, the weather office recorded a rainfall of 33.9 mm.

“The cyclonic storm was developing over the Andhra coast since Monday. On Wednesday, it weakened into a well-marked low pressure over north Andhra and adjoining Karnataka,” Goldar said. “A trough from this extends up to north Orissa and an upper-air circulation also lies over Orissa and adjoining Gangetic West Bengal. As a result, fairly widespread rains were reported from Calcutta and elsewhere in south Bengal. The weather is likely to improve by the weekend, but it is difficult to predict if the weather will play fair during Durga Puja.”

The civic authorities are keeping a close eye on the weather and have put all city pumping stations on the alert. Rajiv Deb, member, mayor-in-council in charge of drainage, said if the weather did not improve by the weekend, the Corporation would have to gear up to tackle a rain-soaked Puja.

“We have asked our engineers to ensure that there are no choked drains in the city. Batches of workers are engaged in shifts to clear plastic and other non-biodegradable matter from the drains. Once the drains are choked, even hours of pumping can’t take the accumulated water off the streets,” Deb said.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
The idea had come up casually, while chatting with his friends. How best could they enjoy themselves during the Puja holidays? Drive down to Digha and have a whale of a time? Or escape to Diamond Harbour to spend a few days by the Bay of Bengal?

The place, Gufran Khan and his friends decided, could be decided on later. But what about the money? How would they fund their pleasure trip? All accounts now suggest that the idea came from Gufran, 20-year-old son of a Colootola businessman. He decided that with the help of his friends, he would kidnap himself.

On Monday, Gufran told his family he was going out to visit his friends. He did not return home. As he often returned home late, his family wasn’t worried. Late on Monday, when he did not show up, his father, Iqbal Ahmed Khan, decided to lodge a missing persons complaint with the police.

As in earlier cases, on suspicion of a kidnap, the police installed a caller-line identification device at the Khan residence.

On Tuesday morning, the phone rang. The call was quickly traced to a public call office in south Calcutta.

The police despatched a team there, but the booth-owner said he was not aware of who had made such a call.

The wait began afresh. On Tuesday evening, the ‘kidnappers’ called the Khan residence again. This time, they spelt out the specifics. The Khans were told to bring Rs 50,000 in a briefcase to a particular spot by the tank in Victoria Memorial. The time set: 11 am on Wednesday.

At the assigned hour, a relative of Gufran’s, along with a posse of plainclothes policemen, arrived on the spot. A young man approached Gufran’s relative and asked for the briefcase. A few words were exchanged and the briefcase was handed over.

The youth sprinted across to a waiting car. The policemen were not to be shaken off. They surrounded the car and found Gufran sitting comfortably inside. He was arrested, along with two associates.

“Gufran has admitted to planning his own kidnapping,” said DC, central, Zulfiqar Hassan. “He has been charged with misleading his parents, misinformation and related offences.”

Khan senior rued: “This is a sad day. I did not think I would live to see the day my son would pull such a nasty trick on me.”


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
The police swung into action 24 hours after puja organisers took away as hostage two employees of a showroom owned by Sankalp Motors. On Wednesday, they arrested four people on charges of extortion.

The Lake Town police reportedly asked the showroom employees on Tuesday to negotiate with the organisers instead of registering a complaint. Things started moving only after district police superintendent M. Harisena Verma intervened.

During a raid on Tuesday, the police picked up four members of the Golaghata Puja Sammilani, who had stormed the showroom and demanded Rs 10,000 as subscription. “The four were picked up from their homes and we have started a specific case against them,” said an official of Lake Town police station.

A number of extortion rackets in the name of subscription was busted on Wednesday. Policemen caught three organisers red-handed while they were extorting money from bus and auto passengers in the Habra area.

Officer-in-charge of Habra police station, Prosenjit Das, got into an auto as a passenger. When the vehicle reached Bergum, a group of organisers blocked the road and forced the passengers to pay up. “When they refused to relent, we arrested them ,” said an officer of Habra police station.

A special message has been sounded at all police stations to take action against organisers extorting money from businessmen as well as general people. The state government also issued a directive on Tuesday, saying it will not tolerate any incident of forcible collection of subscriptions.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
Swati Pal, alias Mousumi, lodged in Presidency jail since August 23, in connection with the abduction of Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman, is back in the news. Her desperation to terminate her pregnancy has landed the jail authorities in a spot.

When, during medical examination in custody, jail doctor A.K. Roy found Swati two months’ pregnant, she insisted that she wanted to abort the child. Roy advised her to approach the sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM).

Hours after the SDJM’s permission came through on Tuesday afternoon, jail officials were launching a hunt for a “safe place” for the abortion. “We are yet to decide where we can carry out Swati’s abortion. After all, she is a high-security prisoner and the medical procedure has to be kept strictly confidential,” said Presidency jail superintendent S.R. Hussain.

Jail sources confirmed on Wednesday that the authorities had written to SSKM Hospital surgeon superintendent Deb Dwaipayan Chattopadhyay, requesting him to constitute a medical board for Swati. Deputy inspector-general of prisons Anup Tripathi, who paid a visit to Swati’s cell on Tuesday, said she might be taken to the SSKM Hospital “in a day or two” for medical tests. “We would always prefer a government hospital to a private nursing home,” he added.

Swati, however, has made it clear to both prison officials and her parents that she would not like to step out of the jail hospital. But a senior jail official admitted that the hospital in the jail is not equipped with sophisticated equipment.

To try and convince Swati, the jail authorities called in her parents, Sudhir and Shobharani. They were taken to a separate enclosure, from where they spoke to Swati for nearly an hour.

“I told her (Swati) to follow whatever the jail authorities decided. But I don’t know whether she will agree,” Sudhir later said.

The mother, however, supported the daughter’s plea. Shobharani, who came to know about Swati’s pregnancy last week, said: “She has suffered a lot during the past two months. With her failing health, she may not be in a position to go elsewhere. So, the authorities can bring some experts into the jail.”



Youth shot dead in Chitpur house attack

Visitors at Shraddhanjali, a Sreeleathers exhibition of paintings on the Puja spirit drawn by people from about 80 major localities in Calcutta and Howrah. Judges Wasim Kapur, Ganesh Haloi and Niranjan Pradhan picked Maddox Square, Netaji Sporting, Lake Town, and Bosepukur Sitala Mandir as the three winners. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury A 22-year-old youth, Prabhash Roy, was murdered at his Rabindra Sarani residence early on Wednesday. Police said four miscreants stormed Roy’s house and shot him from point-blank range. Roy died on the spot. On hearing the gunshots, neighbours rushed to Roy’s house. But the gunmen managed to flee. According to preliminary investigation, a dispute in the locality might have led to the incident. DC, DD-I, Soumen Mitra said Roy was a driver of a medicine shop owner. According to local residents, he returned home in an inebriated state on Tuesday night. No arrests have been made.

School versus plaza case

Calcutta High Court will hear the case of Calcutta International School against the Corporation and builders of a market plaza coming up on a plot adjacent to the school’s Lee Road premises three weeks after the court reopens following the Puja vacations. Justice Pranab Kumar Mukherjee directed the builders, Heiglers Development and Construction Co Ltd, to continue construction “according to the sanctioned building plan”, but only after leaving “the required side space adjacent to the boundary wall of the neighbouring (school) premises”. CMC inspectors and private architects examined the nursery building of the school and ruled it “safe for the time being”. The school authorities are concerned about a hole that has been dug behind the nursery building, which, according to engineers, poses a threat if rains continue.

Cabinet meeting

The last state Cabinet meeting before the Pujas will be held on Monday at Writers’ Buildings. Official sources said on Wednesday that several important decisions, including those related to IT-based industries, are likely to be taken at the meeting.

Airport fracas

The police have started a case against 15 customs officials on Wednesday for allegedly manhandling cops on duty at the airport. Two customs officials entered the airport building without identification cards, according to airport police sources. Kalyan Chakraborty, officer-in-charge of airport police station, said trouble started when they were asked to produce their identity cards.

Boy run over

Residents of Habra put up a roadblock in the area on Wednesday after 13-year-old Surajit Pal, a student of Class VII, was run over by a trekker in front of his house. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition where he succumbed to injuries. The driver fled with the vehicle.

Life sentence

Mohammed Rafiq, arrested in connection with a dacoity, was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 14 years on Wednesday at the Alipore Court. He was a close associate of the late Abdul Wajid Akunji. He was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 or face another six months in jail in case of default. Rafiq was arrested on October 22, 1998, but escaped while being produced in court. He was arrested again a month later.

CMC chairman

The Opposition Left Front barred CMC chairman Anil Mukherjee from entering the civic house to conduct the monthly meeting of councillors on Wednesday, demanding an explanation for his controversial resignation. In his absence, Dulal Das Thakur conducted the meeting. Thumbs Up TO calcutta ahead, an UK-based NGO, for donating computers to Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, a repository of Bengali literature    

Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
To dispel a myth that an actor’s wife usually remains content under his halo, most Bollywood and Tollywood wives are digressing off the beaten path. So, while the maxim goes that behind every successful man is a woman, the actors’ wives have every intention to retain an individuality away from their better halves’ powerful vignettes.

Possibly the trend started when Rhea Pillai Dutt (Sunjay Dutt) took to imparting Art of Living and Mana (Sunil) Shetty started organising major charity lunches and dinners in aid of noble causes. If not exactly in their footsteps, the Tollywood wives have not fallen behind in doing their bit.

Four years back, Dipa Mullick, actor Ranjit Mullick’s wife, found that her teenaged daughter did not need her fussings any more. “Which is when I thought, let me make my time useful with under-privileged children. So, I got around 25-30 of them and started teaching them at my Golf Club residence.” The children are loyalty personified when it comes to talking about “Aunty”. And why not? She has made a sea of difference to their lifestyle.

Says Dipa: “Today, they finish their daily chores and rush to my house. Learning has become oh-so-necessary for them.”

Though she wouldn’t like to publicise this, actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty’s wife Mithu spares a considerable time and money for those in need. “Though not regularly, but I keep in touch with CINI (Child in Need Institute) and visit the expectant mothers, besides donating some money,” says Mithu, after a lot of coaxing.

Every year, Nilanjana (Arjun) Chakraborty visits a thalassaemia society in Madhyamgram and spends a day or two with the victims. She says her contribution is only measly but it makes her feel nice within.

“I run simply by instinct. So, when the calling comes for Madhyamgram, I do not for once think that Mithun Chakraborty or my husband are patrons of the organisation.” Apart from that, Nilanjana plans to do something concrete for the cycle-rickshawallahs, since they are a “discarded” lot.

“Though I do not need to, yet I often take rickshaws for short distances, only to provide these people with some money. Government apathy and modernisation has deprived this lot of a sizeable income. My heart goes out to them,” says Nilanjana.

Similarly, Dipti Chatterjee, Biplob Chatterjee’s wife, feels that there’s much more to life than just being an actor’s wife or a housewife. She says: “Being a housewife is a thankless job. So, while I am teaching at National High School, I started teaching slum-children from the nearby bustees of Sarat Bose Road. Even now, when I have shifted to Tollygunge, I often go back and teach them once in a while.”

Chatterjee plans to take a break from regular teaching and open a school for the under-privileged.

Compassion is something Nandini Pal (Tapas’ wife) learnt early in life. Specially when it came to animals. A few months ago, passersby on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass were astounded on seeing her trying to fit in an injured calf in her Maruti. Recollecting the incident, she says: “Even Tapas was telling me to leave the animal alone but I couldn’t. I go around the city looking for strays and nurturing them if they are hurt or malnourished. Sometimes, I bring them home but space is a constraint. At various places, I have my little pets, who recognise me whenever I visit the areas.”

For Dipa, Mithu, Nandini, Nilanjana and Dipti, social service is not a fashion statement. They could have led a cushioned life, but decided to spend some quality time for “inner comfort”.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
Over 70 per cent of Calcutta’s drinking water is unfit for human consumption. Howrah is marginally better off, at 66.67 per cent.

The Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samiti placed these facts before the Green Bench of Calcutta High Court on Wednesday, pleading for “immediate intervention” before things get out of hand.

The places from which the samples were collected included schools, colleges, hospitals, railway stations, courts and even Corporation offices. The samples were tested at four laboratories; three of them — the National Test House, the All-India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health and the Central Pollution Control Board — are government-controlled agencies.

According to the findings, every state government-run medical college and hospital in Calcutta had bacteria in the water.

Only, the water collected from Infectious Diseases Hospital was bacteria-free. Even a tap opposite the health department office inside the Calcutta Municipal Corporation headquarters on S.N. Banerjee Road was teeming with bacteria. The water available at Calcutta High Court was unfit for drinking too.

The water supplied at Sealdah was laced with bacteria but the tests failed to detect the presence of any in the water collected from Howrah station.

The situation had worsened over the years. Gourkishore Ghosh had filed a similar suit in 1985. Instead of improving, the percentage of bacteria-contaminated water had increased to more than double, GNS representatives said. They also placed before the court a World Health Organisation report, which put the number of deaths by water-borne diseases at 3.4 million worldwide.

“But the authorities here cannot even provide such figures,” they added.


Calcutta, Oct. 17: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday said the state government would leave no stone unturned to restore discipline in hospitals in West Bengal.

Inaugurating Suraksha, a multi-discipline, state-of-the-art hospital opposite Salt Lake stadium, in JC Block, Bhattacharjee said his government was trying to streamline hospital administration.

“Administration in hospitals is weak. But we will make every feasible effort to improve conditions,” the chief minister said.

Lauding the efforts of Suraksha, Bhattacharjee said he would consider a proposal from the private hospital to open a medical university in the state.

“Suraksha is interested in setting up a medical university in the Rajarhat township. I have asked them to submit a proposal. We will definitely encourage medical universities in the private sector and want more private hospitals to come up in the state,” Bhattacharjee said, adding that the government has already received a number of proposals in this regard from the private sector.

The chief minister also said that the government was in the process of drafting a set of guidelines for doctors interested in private practice. “We want to make the existing rules and regulations on private practice more foolproof. The health minister is working on it,” he added. Health minister Surya Kanta Mishra accompanied Bhattacharjee to the programme.

Suraksha has been set up primarily to treat critical cases. It will offer specialised treatment round-the-clock and also has out-patient departments in all branches. The 11-storey, 204-bed hospital has been built on a 20-cottah plot at an estimated cost of Rs 40 crore. It also has a cardiac care unit for all age groups.

Of the 204 beds, 100 are standard, 10 are day-care, 15 belong to the nursery and 79 are reserved for intensive care cases. The hospital houses neurology, gynaecology, infertility and paediatrics, among other departments.


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