Ninth bail blow to abduction probe
Brave new role for Balika Bodhu
Rail tracks on road routes
The City Diary
Mystery shrouds youth’s death
Deb’s club to pay for repairs
Bihar don wants star status in jail
Ferry services in troubled waters

 
 
NINTH BAIL BLOW TO ABDUCTION PROBE 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
The investigation into the ab duction of Khadim’s vice chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman received another set back on Sunday after the court, responding to Mumbai based dancer Swati Pal’s prayer, .offered. her bail, sub ject to certain conditions. But CID officials insisted they were close to cracking the case, having picked up the trail of the doctor who treated the shoe baron in captivity.

The court offer followed the CID’s failure to produce chargesheets against Pal and her husband, Mohammad Jamil, within the stipulated 90 days of their arrest. The bail plea was moved on Saturday, but Pal and her husband may not be able to come out of jail before Tuesday because of the formalities, offi cials said. Sunday was their 89th day in custody.

.She was offered bail as the po lice have not been able to submit a chargesheet before the court with in the stipulated period,. said Raja Chatterjee, subdivisional ju dicial magistrate (special vaca tion bench). Chatterjee had recorded Pal’s confessional state ment on September 29.

To be freed, Pal and Jamil will have to furnish bonds of Rs 10,000 each, besides local surety of Rs 1,000.They will have to meet the in vestigating officer twice every week and their local guarantor must have property within the Cal cutta Municipal Corporation area.

Pal and Jamil are the latest names in a long line of CID fail ures to produce chargesheets for the abduction. Sunday’s double bail blow followed Saturday’s pat tern, when the court granted bail to Md Taqreem and Md Kaiser. They followed in the footsteps of Salt Lake ashramowner Ra bindranath Das, Tiljala don Md Taslim, alias Chunnu, Nabaku mar Mondal, Roy Burman’s driv er, and two Hyderabadbased hawala operators, Md Ishaq and Khwaja Altaf.

Even as the court was hearing Pal’s plea for bail, Das . granted bail late last month . alleged dur ing a media briefing at his Salt Lake ashram that he had been .tortured. during his threemonth stay in jail. .They did everything to force a confession out of me,. he said, adding that .the only time. he met Pal was five years ago. .I did not even know her name was Swati,. Das added. .She was intro duced to me as Manu by her par ents and that was the only time I saw her..

The CID,however, is not yet giv ing up the case as a lost one. After .locating. the house at Haroa, in North 24Parganas, where Roy Burman was kept, the CID is now concentrating on the doctor who treated an injured Roy Burman.

A senior CID official said the doctor was being shadowed con stantly. .He will be picked up any moment,. he added. Arshi Rezzak Khan, alias Rajan, and Arshad Khan, picked up by the Delhi po lice on November 13, led the inter rogators on the doctor’s trail.

A CID team asked Rajan to lead it to the house where Roy Burman was kept. Rajan identified the house and .also led us to the small room where Roy Burman was kept., officials said. The doctor, whose name was not disclosed, agreed to treat Roy Burman for a hefty remuneration.

.The treatment continued for three days under the supervision of the doctor,. Rajan revealed. .The doctor was blindfolded and did not know who he was treating until he read about the abduc tion,. he added.He wanted to back out, but went along with the ab ductors after being threatened.

   

 
 
BRAVE NEW ROLE FOR BALIKA BODHU 
 
 
BY SAMARJIT GUHA
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
From Tollywood to Bollywood to Hollywood Bollywood. our .Balika Bodhu. sure has come a long way. In the twilight of her career, Moushumi Chatterjee has been signed by Deepa Mehta to play .the robust.Ruby Seth in her latest venture, Hollywood Bollywood.

.I have noticed that whenever I try some thing offbeat, it goes unnoticed,. Moushumi told Metro on Sunday. .Mahananda (where she played a devdasi’s daughter opposite Farooque Sheikh) was a case in point. Even the takeoff on Lucy in my serial Albeli. So,when I signed this film with Deepa, I was tightlipped..

And so was Deepa. After the furore that forced her to shelve Water, the director of Fire and Earth is keeping her new film under wraps. Incidentally, Deepa had offered Moushumi a role in Water, alongside Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das.

But now, the DeepaMoushumi partnership has happened.The Ben gali beauty,whose smile had lit up the screen in Anuraag, Manziland Swarg Narak, has just re turned to town after having canned a few shots for Hollywood Bollywood in Canada.

Refusing to elaborate on the storyline of the film that also stars Rahul Khanna, Lisa Ray, Dina Pathak and Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Moushumi said: .I don.t think Deepa would like me to reveal the story, but my character is very interesting. I am a bit of a loudmouth and quite the spanner in everyone’s happiness. But it’s a lonely character.There’s nobody opposite me..

Moushumi did add that Deepa had asked her to be .in perfect shape. for the role, for which she spent long hours at the health club before leaving for Canada.A mother of two daughters, she is .very selective. about her work now.Younger daughter Megha, too, might don the greasepaint. .At this stage of my career, I am actually looking for Hollywood Bol lywoodkind of roles. I listen to at least two scripts every day but the runofthemill stuff does not excite me anymore,. says Moushumi.

   

 
 
RAIL TRACKS ON ROAD ROUTES 
 
 
BY SUVRO ROY
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
For city traffic to hit the fast lane, new roads are just not enough. To bolster road routes with rail tracks, the government has drawn up grand plans for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) grid running through the heart of the city.

Alarmed at the projected popu lation pressure on the city’s strug gling transport system, planners have already identified 97 km of corridors in the Calcutta Metro politan Area (CMA), for operating the electricitydriven LRT vehi cles. .These vehicles, as and when commissioned, will enjoy exclu sive right of way along the desig nated routes,. they said.

There are three modes of pop ular LRT vehicles from which the government can choose . the trolley bus, monorail and a heav ier and improved version of today’s tramcars. A section of the government feels that the mono rail .may not be feasible because of the high cost factor.. A survey carried out by a Japanese agency has revealed that commissioning of monorail on a 13km stretch would cost around Rs 1,500 crore.

In late October, urban develop ment minister Asok Bhattacharya discussed the government’s LRT proposal for Calcutta and sur rounding areas with his counter part in Delhi, Ananth Kumar. .He (Ananth Kumar) was extremely interested, as the LRT does not re quire a heavy investment like Metro Railway or suburban rail way. Also, it is totally pollution free and promotes fuel conserva tion, . added Bhattacharya.

Another plus for the system in use in cities like Toronto, San Francisco, Tokyo, Brussels and Rome is that the project can be ex ecuted by the government without entering into collaborations with Central government departments, like the railways.

.We will have a detailed dis cussion about our LRT plans at the meeting of the newlyformed Metropolitan Planning Commit tee on December 4, which will be chaired by chief minister Bud dhadeb Bhattacharjee,. revealed Bhattacharya.

The LRT system forms part of the government’s Rs 16,000crore masterplan for traffic and trans portation in the CMA over the next two decades. The estimated project cost has been pegged at Rs 4,850 crore. .This project cost has been drawn up assuming that we will have to lay tracks to run the LRT. If we decide on trolley buses, the cost will come down,. a CMDA official said.

The proposed LRT corridors are: .

Kalyani to Belghoria along the BarrackporeKalyani Expressway .

Shyambazar to Dunlop Bridge along B.T. Road .

Airport to Kamalgazi crossing near Garia, along VIP Road and the E.M. Bypass .

Esplanade to Joka via the Maid an, Kidderpore and Diamond Har bour Road.

Another brief LRT corridor has been planned in Howrah,along Foreshore Road, from the station to the Vidyasagar Setu approach. Tram tracks along the Maidan and Diamond Harbour Road will be utilised for the system.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 

Suicide at Metro Sovabazar station

A 35yearold man leapt to his death at Sovabazar Metro station on Sunday evening. Police said around 5.25 pm, minutes before a Tollygungebound train rolled into the station, the man leapt on to the third rail and was electrocuted. Seeing the man jump, the driver of the train applied the brakes, bringing it to a halt. Power to the third rail was also switched off. Metro Railway authorities pulled out the body and train services resumed within five minutes.

Road rage after runover death .

A 70yearold woman was run over by a CSTC bus on Beleghata Main Road on Sunday afternoon.A mob ransacked the bus and beat up the driver,who was admitted to NRS Hospital.

Noise pollution

The police have sought the support of voluntary organisations to combat noise pollution, city police chief Sujoy Chakraborty said on Sunday.

Puja awards

Orissa Governor M.M. Rajendran on Sunday gave away the Impact Sharad Samman prizes at Priya cinema. Singer Usha Uthup, actress Rupa Ganguly and additional directorgeneral of police Ranjit Mohanty and principal secretary, forest, C.S. Samal,were also present. The awards ceremony was followed by screening of Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.

Trafficking arrests

Belghoria police arrested three persons on charges of trafficking. Rajesh Choudhury, along with Saraswati Choudhury and Asima Gayen,would smuggle young girls to Mumbai en route to Dubai, police said.

Theatre festival

An eightday theatre festival is being organised by the Paschimbanga Natya Akademi from November 23. Altogether, 119 groups will participate in the festival, to be inaugurated by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on the Rabindra SadanNandan courtyard.Theatre personalities will meet at Curzon Park and take out a procession to Rabindra Sadan.The plays will be staged at various auditoria.    

 
 
MYSTERY SHROUDS YOUTH’S DEATH 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
Ashoke Bhattacharya, 28, work ing for a private television chan nel, died under mysterious cir cumstances at his Sadananda Road residence in south Calcutta on Sunday. Police said he had com mitted suicide .out of frustra tion,. but Ashoke’s neighbours claim otherwise. Bhattacharya died of thirddegree burns at SSKM Hospital.

As the news spread, locals de manded an inquiry into the inci dent. .We have registered an un natural death case,. said S.K.Lahiri, a police officer.

Ashoke used to live in a first floor apartment of a threestorey building with his parents, sister and brother. All were present in the flat when the tragedy took place. .We have gathered from family members that a domestic problem might have driven Bhat tacharya to take his life. But the motive cannot be ascertained,. said an official.

Reshma, Bhattacharya’s sister, still in a state of shock, recounted having heard her brother arguing with their mother.

.I was busy on the second floor but when I came down, I saw Dada in flames. I raised an alarm and a few of our neighbours came running but, by then, it was too late,. she said.

Somnath Chatterjee, another neighbour, said that around 8.30 pm on Saturday, they saw smoke billowing out of the Bhat tacharya flat.

When we went upstairs to see what was happening, we found Ashoke in flames,. said Chatter jee. .He seemed to be in agony and said that he had been set on fire,. he added.

Later, neighbours revealed that the house was the bone of contention, as Ashoke had been opposed to the plan of his parents selling the property to a realtor.

   

 
 
DEB’S CLUB TO PAY FOR REPAIRS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
Trinamul Congress councillor Rajib Deb on Sunday initiated the reconstruction of the wall of McPherson Square, on Shake speare Sarani, that his supporters had pulled down to host their Kali puja in the park.

The breaking of the park wall had sparked a controversy, with the mayor in two minds about at tending the inauguration of the puja. But, he finally went as party chief Mamata Banerjee was also present on the occasion

. .Reconstruction of the wall will cost about Rs 30,000 and it will be paid by the club,. said Deb, su pervising the civil work. Decora tive plants were also transplanted under guidance of civic horticul turist Ranajit Samanta.

The Opposition, however, said that restoration of the wall did not absolve those who broke it. .Pay ing up for a damage can never jus tify the committing of deliberate damage to people’s property. It is a dangerous logic,. said Nirmal Mukherjee, leader of the Opposi tion in CMC.

Mayor aides Shaktipada Ghosh and Asish Chakraborty, however, said: .Demolition of park boundaries for pujas or a cir cus is a routine affair.. They pointed out that walls of Desha priya Park, Park Circus maidan, Mohammad Ali Park and Kumar tuli Park are pulled down every year during the Durga Puja.

   

 
 
BIHAR DON WANTS STAR STATUS IN JAIL 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
Former Bihar MLA Ranvir Singh, who has been lodged in Presidency Jail, at Alipore, since last week on charges of murder and several other cases, appears determined to wield his clout be hind bars as well.

Minutes before his arrest on Tuesday, Singh had threatened to .shake the foundations of Cal cutta. if he was rounded up.

Singh was a prime accused in the massacre of 11 Dalits at Munger, Bihar, in 1982 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. But,while in jail,he contested the Assembly elections in 1990 from Khagaria and won.Thereafter,he managed to obtain bail and flee.

He has been warning the jail officials almost daily,demanding the status of a .firstclass. pris oner. Sources said the matter has come to such a pass that the au thorities concerned had written to the court as a last resort, seek ing its intervention in the matter.

.He may be a former legisla tor but we cannot award first class status to a prisoner unless the court allows us. Moreover, he has been convicted of murder,. jail superintendent Zakir Hos sain said, adding: .Singh has been demanding a string of facil ities,which we cannot provide to an ordinary prisoner..

Confined to a secluded cell along with brother Sanjay, who was imprisoned earlier for de frauding a citybased finance company, Singh warned that if he was denied .star. status, he would bring his people from Bihar to .teach the jail officials a lesson.

. .We are really fed up with the way Singh has been pestering the officials with one demand or the other. One day, he asked for quality mattresses and mosquito nets. Another day, he called for good food and snacks,. com plained a jail official.

Sources said Singh also quar relled with warders during the day when some of his men came from Bihar to meet him without prior information.While Singh insisted on meeting them,the jail authorities denied permission, saying his relatives could meet him only on fixed days.

Another concern for jail offi cials is Singh’s constant effort to rope in other criminals, lodged in the jail for years. .During un lock period, Singh gets an oppor tunity to interact with other prisoners and he uses this oppor tunity to muster support in his war against jail officials,. al leged a warder.

   

 
 
FERRY SERVICES IN TROUBLED WATERS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Nov. 18: 
A trivial altercation over jobs for temporary employees is threaten ing to halt midstream the century old ferry services between Band haghat and Ahiritola.

Sources said the dispute, if not settled immediately, would affect 17,000 people, including a large number of officegoers, who take the ferry between Calcutta and Howrah daily..

There are four vessels plying in the BandhaghatAhiritola route. While the Ghatal Naviga tion Company runs two vessels, the other two are operated by Joint Ferry Services.

It was smooth sailing for the ferry service till early last month, when a section of the employees of a vessel hired by Ghatal Naviga tion Company to operate on the route, started .threatening and in timidating. the company owner.

The staff of MV Bhagyalaksh mi, hired by the Ghatal company, demanded that they be treated at par with the permanent staff. River traffic police had towed away Bhagyalakshmi after the vessel’s licence expired on Sep tember 18 this year. .The vessel was handed over to its owner, An napurna Debi,. a river traffic po lice official said.

As the company sought a re placement of the vessel from an other firm, the employees of Bhagyalakshmi demanded that they be absorbed in the parent company.

.Don.t we have the right to seek permanent jobs in the parent company?. asked a representative of the aggrieved employees.

Bireswar Bhattacharya, owner of the Ghatal company, said: .No, they do not. I have taken the vessel on hire even though a company headed by my mother owns it. Now that the licence has been can celled and the vessel towed away by the police, I have naturally sought a replacement from anoth er company. So why and where should I employ the Bhagyalaksh mi staff ?. he asked.

The issue could take a nasty turn with the erstwhile Bhagyalakshmi employees threat ening Bhattacharya with .dire consequences.. Bhattacharya has lodged .several complaints. at the Malipanchghara police station.

Howrah superintendent of po lice C.V. Muralidhar said it is a labour problem and both parties should approach the labour com missioner to settle the dispute.

.However, we are trying to thrash out a solution at our level and there is a glimmer of hope that things will be sorted out in the near future,.. Muralidhar said.

   
 

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