Internet route to court order copies
Healthcare reform protest spirals
Suicide bid on Metro tracks
Bihar MP’s nephew held for fraud
Jute mill worker stabbed to death in Belghoria
Alert in Farakka after ISI alarm
Pact whiff after CM-Ghising meet
Bloc disowns killer link
Highway block after donation row
CPM office set on fire

Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
The days of queueing up at the clerk’s table for obtaining a copy of a court order are numbered. From the next financial year, litigants will be able to obtain copies of orders and judgments of all the five city courts, including Calcutta High Court, through the Internet.

According to the Chief Justice’s secretariat, a pilot project on computerisation and networking, with facilities like electronic filling of documents and retrieving copies of the court orders through the Internet, is underway.

“By next year, all the city courts, including Calcutta High Court, will be equipped to provide the facilities to the public,” a high court official said.

This landmark development in the judicial system will do away with harassments of litigants and minimise corruption among a section of court officers and peshkars who would demand a fee for issuing copies of the orders and judgements of the court.

At present, the litigants are to pay a bribe of Rs 200 to Rs 1000 to obtain a certified copy of an order. A section of court officials are reportedly involved in the racket.

“This project is part of a move jointly undertaken by the Centre and the state for quick disposal of pending cases through schemes like Fast Track Courts, development of judicial infrastructure, use of IT and setting up of family courts,” the official added.

According to state law ministry sources, the scheme to improve the judicial infrastructure in different cities would be jointly funded by the state and the Centre.

The Central government has already released Rs 34 crore to the states in the current financial year.

Welcoming the move, former secretary of High Court Bar Association Uttam Majumder said: “Not only litigants, the lawyers of different courts are also facing problems in obtaining certified copies of orders.

“The Bar Associations of various courts should also be brought under the purview of the scheme so that lawyers have easy access to the verdicts of all cases.

State Bar Council chairman Saradindu Biswas said: “The judicial system should be modernised through computerisation of the other departments, too. Only infrastructural development can help tackle the huge backlog of pending cases in the country.”


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s long-awaited health sector reforms are likely to undergo an acid test. The CPI has joined forces with the RSP to step up protest against discontinuation of the system of engaging special attendants (SDAs) for patients in government hospitals.

Debasis Dutta, CPI state secretariat member, on Saturday criticised the manner in which SDAs were being disbanded in government hospitals across the state without any prior notice. He demanded an immediate meeting of the Left Front committee to discuss the issue.

“The government should have referred the matter to the Left Front committee before taking a decision on such a vital issue. The SDAs come from poor families. The sudden decision will affect them as well as the patients who require their services,” he said, adding that this should be discussed at the November-14 Left Front meeting.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose on Saturday clarified that patients could continue to avail of the services of SDAs, but it would not be compulsory. The SDAs have been barred entry in all state hospitals from November 1.

The RSP had earlier questioned the government’s decision to do away with the SDA system. On Friday, party secretariat member Sunil Sengupta flayed the government’s decision, saying it would “hurt our efforts to build a stronger Left Front”.

Sengupta said patients would be greatly inconvenienced if service of the SDAs was discontinued. “I will talk to Left Front chairman Biman Bose before the Front committee meeting,” he said. Debabrata Banerjee, RSP state secretary, also defended Sengupta.

Another major Left Front partner, Forward Bloc, also said the matter deserved a full-fledged discussion in the Left Front committee meeting. “We expect the Front chairman to hold a detailed discussion with all partners to clear misconceptions on the issue,” a party spokesman said.

The Left Front partners’ resistance to the discontinuation of the SDA system has come as a shot in the arm for Trinamul Congress, which has launched an agitation at different government hospitals.

Trinamul general secretary Madan Mitra, who has formed the “Save SSKM Hospital Committee”, organised a demonstration on the hospital premises on Saturday, demanding “work for SDAs”. Committee members held a marathon meeting at SSKM Hospital on Saturday to discuss their future course of action. “We will go for a more intensive movement from Monday if the government refuses to reconsider the decision,” Mitra added.

Debdwaipayan Chatterjee, superintendent of SSKM Hospital, claimed that hospital services remained normal through the day.

Protest rallies were held in other city hospitals, too. But a health department official stated that services were not affected anywhere.

Our correspondent from Suri adds that the SDAs of Suri Government Hospital gheraoed the superintendent for more than four hours on Saturday. They demanded the reintroduction of the SDA system.


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
There was a suicide bid on the Metro tracks on Saturday afternoon. Gopal Mitra, 32, jumped on the tracks at Rabindra Sarobar station. He is a resident of Jyotish Roy Road, in south Calcutta. Mitra was first taken to MR Bangur Hospital and later shifted to SSKM Hospital. A suicide note was found in his pocket.

Mitra quarrelled with his wife before leaving home for a relative’s house in Kalighat, Metro Railway sources said.


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
A Ranvir Sena activist was arrested on Friday night on charges of cheating a city-based car finance company. The city police, in a joint raid with its counterpart in Bihar, picked up Sanjay Yadav from Khagaria, in Bihar.

The police said Yadav was the nephew of Bihar MP Ram Sharan Yadav and brother of Ranvir Singh, a key Ranvir Sena leader.

Yadav was brought to the city on Saturday morning and produced before the chief metropolitan magistrate during the day. He has been remanded in police custody for a week.

According to police, Yadav had taken a loan from a car finance company on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road in 1996 to buy a jeep. He paid back Rs 10,000 to the finance company and promised to pay the rest in 35 installments.

No further payments were made in the next five years. “When the company contacted him a few days ago, Yadav sent them a cheque for Rs 99,500. But the cheque bounced as the account number was fake,” said Pradip Sanyal, DC, DD-II. The city police started a probe after the finance company lodged a complaint.


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
An employee of Kamarhati Jute Mill, Suleman Mistry, was murdered in front of his residence at Kamarhati, in the Belghoria police station area, early on Saturday. His body, which was discovered by his neighbours in the courtyard around 6 am, bore multiple stab wounds.

The police claimed a breakthrough after making two arrests in this connection. “The two men we have picked up — Gudda and Gabbar — were directly involved in the murder. They have earlier been named in several cases of extortion and snatching,” said Basab Dasgupta, sub-divisional police officer, Belghoria. The body has been sent for post-mortem.

Mistry, who hailed from Bihar, used to stay alone. Police said four miscreants stormed in while he was asleep in his one-storeyed house. “They broke open the door and dragged Mistry out in the courtyard,” said an official of Belghoria police station.

The miscreants slashed his chest. There were also gashes on his face and legs. After studying the wounds, detectives deduced that choppers had been used for the murder.

Though the body was found in the courtyard, the police are unsure as to where the murder actually took place. “The area is very congested. The neighbours ought to have heard Mistry scream when he was attacked,” said Mahadeb Chatterjee, officer-in-charge of Belghoria police station. .

“We suspect the miscreants gagged Mistry and tied his hands, which is why he could not raise an alarm,” he added.

On receiving a tip-off, three police teams branched out in the crime-prone areas of Belghoria, Titagarh and Khardah. “We raided several hideouts and netted Gudda and Gabbar from the Kamarhati area,” Dasgupta said.

After interrogating the duo, police have ruled out the possibility of a long-standing rivalry leading to the murder. “Mistry did not have any criminal record. He and the miscreants could, at the most, have had a squabble over a trifling issue,” said Chatterjee.

Police are now on the lookout for the weapons used for the murder. “The weapons will be our prime evidence,” said Dasgupta.

Railway reshuffle: Eastern and South Eastern Railways have new chiefs. Arvind Sharma took charge as general manager of Eastern Railway, while N. Krithivasan has become the general manager of South Eastern Railway. Krithivasan holds this post in addition to his assignment as general manager of South Central Railway.


Behrampore, Nov. 3: 
Concerned over the growing threats to the Farakka barrage and the National Thermal Power Corporation, the Murshidabad and Malda superintendents of police held an emergency meeting with top security officials to assess the situation.

The district police heads met their counterparts at Pakur and Sahebgunj in Jharkhand and the inspector-general of Border Security Force (BSF) and the commandant of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

An official spokesman said a Central intelligence report had asked the state home department to strengthen security in and around the thermal power plant and the barrage in view of a possible attack on these vital installations by terrorists sponsored by the Pakistani ISI.

The report also cautioned the home department that some trained terrorists from Bangladesh have taken shelter in Murshidabad and Malda.

Murshidabad superintendent Rajesh Kumar said the CISF has been asked to keep a watch on suspicious characters loitering around the power plant and the Farrakka barrage areas.

It has also been decided to introduce mobile teams on the Ganga to keep a watch on these two installations. Fishing trawlers have been cautioned not to venture within 200 metres of the barrage to avoid arrests.

Kumar said his counterparts at Pakur and Sahebgunj in Jharkhand have been told to remain vigilant as trained terrorists might have sneaked into their territories taking them to be “safer” hideouts.

At the meeting, which went on for over six hours, it was decided to heighten vigil on the Indo-Bangla border. The BSF has been told to see that no one crosses over to these bordering districts.

“Influx of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh has made our task a little difficult. While we have to treat them with a humane approach, there is every possibility of terrorists sneaking in the guise of refugees,” a senior official said.


Darjeeling, Nov. 3: 
The hills were abuzz with speculation that the CPM had entered into a “new partnership” with the GNLF after a one-to-one meeting between Subash Ghising and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that both termed “cordial” and “ground-breaking”.

But neither leader would throw light on whether new political equations had emerged after the one-hour meeting at Darjeeling’s Richmond Hill Guest House.

“We discussed all the relevant points on a lot of subjects that had been hindering the overall development of the hills,” the GNLF leader said. “In all, the meeting was cordial.”

Echoing Ghising, the chief minister said: “We discussed all the relevant issues that had been raised by the GNLF chief and the DGHC (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council). The talks were very successful. What we basically discussed were the developmental bottlenecks in the hills, and ways to solve the growing power crisis and unemployment problem in the hills.”

But political observers read more into Ghising’s easing of pressure on the state government to immediately arrest those who made an attempt on his life in February.

“We discussed threadbare the issue of the attack on me. I am satisfied that the state government has taken some concrete steps,” the GNLF leader said.

“It is surprising that the GNLF chief, in his first public appearance following the attempt on his life on February 10, termed the meeting as cordial,” sources said.

“Ghising had been maintaining that the real culprits behind his attack were still at large and that there would be no further election to the DGHC after 2001,” said a political observer.

This was the chief minister’s first visit to the hills after he assumed office in May. Earlier, addressing a gathering after inaugurating the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Museum and Centre for Studies of Himalayan Language, Society and Culture at Giddha Pahar, some 4 km from Kurseong town, a nostalgic Bhattacharjee conceded the communists’ “folly” in assessing Netaji’s contributions to the freedom struggle.

“But today, we have realised our mistake…. (Netaji) is renowned the world over for his courage and rare persuasive struggle for India’s freedom. His was a struggle without strings attached. (He was) a natural warrior and committed soldier,” the chief minister said.

He unveiled a bust of Netaji at his ancestral home in Kurseong where the British had interned him for over three months.

“We communists today realise the contribution of the great fighter. We salute Netaji for his freedom struggle,” the chief minister said.

The ancestral home has been converted into the centre which will be run in collaboration with the Netaji Institute of Asian Studies.

Bhattacharjee urged the DGHC and all the municipalities of Darjeeling hills to work together with the state government for the socio-economic uplift of the hill people.


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
Desperate to avoid embarrassment, the Forward Bloc today hastily disowned B. Rambabu – the prime accused in the murder of the Chowbey brothers – after his arrest in Hyderabad yesterday.

Rambabu, who went about Kharagpur claiming to be a Forward Bloc leader, was wanted in nine murder cases, including that of Gautam Chowbey’s brother Manas in June 1999. Only two months ago, his men shot dead Gautam, a day after he was made chief of the Trinamul Congress youth wing.

“We have no truck with Rambabu and we want the law to take its own course,” state Forward Bloc secretary Ashok Ghosh said. He, however, admitted that though Rambabu was not an active member, he was attached to the All India Yuva League, the party’s youth wing.

The Bloc chief promised to look into how Rambabu had got away by claiming he was a Forward Bloc leader from the Kharagpur area though he did not hold any position in the organisation.

“We have sought details from our Kharagpur unit and will discuss the matter in a day or two,” he added.

Echoing Ghosh, Yuva League secretary Naren Chatterjee said the party’s youth wing had dissociated itself from Rambabu because of his criminal activities. “We never made him a member of the League even though he applied for it a number of times,” he added. But Left Front circles alleged that though Rambabu was not a “member”, the Bloc leadership used to depend on him to raise funds for the party in the Kharagpur area.

Quick to gain political mileage out of the issue, the Trinamul Congress said the party activists would shortly organise a rally in Midnapore to highlight how Front constituents were harbouring hooligans.

“What the CPM has done in Tiljala by encouraging Mahammed Taslim alias Chunnu, who was arrested in connection with the Khadim’s abduction, the Forward Bloc has done in Kharagpur by protecting Rambabu,” alleged Trinamul leader and leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Pankaj Banerjee. He said his party would start its agitation from Monday.

This afternoon, slain Gautam Chowbey’s supporters assembled in Kharagpur town to celebrate Rambabu’s arrest. “We are happy to learn that the mastermind behind a dozen murders in the town is now in the police net,” said a Trinamul youth activist.

Gautam’s mother Gouri Chowbey, however, refused to comment on Rambabu’s arrest.


Haldia, Nov. 3: 
Traffic came to a standstill for 12 hours on a state highway today after local club members assaulted a bus driver at Mahisadal.

The members had stopped a private bus plying on the Haldia-Bankura route around four in the morning and demanded a huge subscription for Kali Puja.

The driver said no. An altercation followed. Then the youths beat up the driver. A little later, the local bus association blocked traffic on Highway 41.

“We have found that a dispute over Kali Puja subscription led to the road blockade but the situation normalised by evening,” said Bijan Bhattacharya, officer in-charge of the Mahisadal police station. Thousands of vehicles on the Haldia-Mecheda sector got stranded on the highway. Senior police officers rushed to the spot to persuade the drivers’ association to withdraw the blockade.

But the drivers refused to budge, saying they were being made to pay for Pujas regularly. They lifted the blockade only around 4 in the evening after the police assured to look into the matter.


Calcutta, Nov. 3: 
Trouble broke out late last night at Basanti in South 24-Parganas district after miscreants set fire to the Talda CPM local committee office.

The unit office was burned down before police and fire brigade officials arrived. However, no news of casualty or injury has been reported.

Police said around 11 pm about 12 miscreants came to the party office. They first ransacked it and damaged the furniture. “Some people sprinkled kerosene and set the office on fire. Within minutes, the fire went out of control ...and the party office was gutted,” said an officer of Basanti police station.

Local residents, however, did not come forward to resist the miscreants. “Most of the locals have been traumatised. They have been witnessing frequent clashes. Now none of them will dare to protest against it,” said a resident.

Residents said the incident is a sequel to a long-standing political rivalry between the local CPM and the RSP.

Police also echoed the residents. “Tension and violence have gripped the area since the last panchayat polls. Sporadic clashes have taken place here. Now both the CPM and the RSP are fighting for control on these areas. We think the situation will be worsened before the coming panchayat election,” a police officer said. No arrests have been made in this connection, he added.


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