Boy falls to death in drain
Trinamul boost to fight rail eviction
Vision to groom future, mission to nurture merit
Bridge too far for Left allies
Terror alert in N. Bengal

Calcutta, Dec. 29: 
A six-year-old boy died on Saturday afternoon in the South Port police station area when he fell into a roadside drain belonging to the Calcutta Port Trust (CPT).

The accident occurred after a portion of a wall, also erected by the CPT, collapsed on him. The boy was rescued from under the rubble and rushed to SSKM Hospital, where he was declared dead.

The police said the poor condition of the wall might have led to the tragedy.

As soon as the news of the incident spread, local residents assembled in front of the police station and blamed the CPT authorities. They also demanded the immediate arrest of those involved in erecting the “weak wall”.

The incident took place around 4.30 pm at 19, Coal Dock Road, when Mukesh Kewat, the deceased, was playing with his friends. A ball fell into the drain and Mukesh climbed down the wall to collect it.

Mukesh’s friends also went to help him retrieve the ball. As the boys attempted to scale the wall, it gave way and Mukesh was trapped under a pile of bricks.

“When Mukesh’s friends raised an alarm, locals dragged out his body from the rubble.

There were severe gashes on his head. “He was taken to SSKM Hospital but doctors said he had probably died on the spot,” said Harman Preet Singh, deputy commissioner, Port division.

According to the police, the drain was not in use and the CPT authorities had erected a wall to save the sewerage line from choking. Both the person, who was awarded the contract to construct the wall and CPT officials will be interrogated, said a police officer. CPT officials, however, were not available for comment.

The residents also expressed their displeasure against the CPT authorities. “Had the CPT men erected the wall properly, the child would not have met such a gory end,” said a resident of Coal Dock Road. CPT officials, however, were not available for comment.

As news of the death spread, a pall of gloom descended on the neighbourhood. “Mukesh’s mother has not regained consciousness ever since she heard of her younger son’s death,” said Prakash Tiwari, a neighbour.


Calcutta, Dec. 29: 
The Trinamul Congress is once again set to thwart the eviction drive along Ballygunge to Majherhat railway tracks. After its failure to prevent eviction along Tolly’s Nullah, the party has chalked out plans to prevent about 30,000 people, living along the railway tracks, from being evicted.

The residents have formed a committee under the leadership of Trinamul Congress MLA Saugata Roy and decided to stall the eviction drive “at any cost”.

Tension mounted on Saturday morning after railway officials asked the settlers to vacate the stretch by January 5. Following the announcement, the encroachers rushed to Roy seeking his intervention. Roy later told reporters that they will organise a human chain on Sunday morning at Dhakuria railway station.

He added that the authorities had mooted an eviction drive in 1998, but failed to carry it out, as the state government did not provide police help. “But this time, the government might help the railway authorities because the CPM, which used to dominate the area, lost its hold. Two Trinamul Congress MLAs, Roy and Pankaj Banerjee, were elected from these areas. Naturally, the CPM-led government might offer help to the railway authorities in evicting the settlers,” said Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, a member of the newly-formed committee.


Calcutta, Dec. 29: 
From a small village in Midnapore to the surgery section of NRS Medical College and Hospital, Tapan Samanta has come a long way. Born in a peasant’s family in Mirpur, Tapan had to discontinue his studies twice before claiming a berth in one of the premier medical colleges of the country.

But Saturday marked the beginning of a fresh lease. Relieved from the burden of garnering funds, he announced his mission: “I will finish M.D. and go back to my village to serve the poor.”

And it was not only Tapan. Confidence was writ large on the faces of nine other youth — Arnab Kumar Patra, Sripada Mishra, Samir Hazra, Prasanta Kumar Paul, Rabindranath Gayen, Sambhu Sau, Manasanta Biswas, Samir Kumar Paul and Swarup Chattopadhyay — who were promised funds to help them continue their studies.

Their helpline: An educational foundation, set up by Dr Moni Bhaumik, promising support to poor and meritorious students pursuing graduate studies in engineering, medicine and science, which was launched on Saturday.

“Despite the abundance of talent in rural Bengal, very few can pursue their dreams. The foundation will help these meritorious students in contributing to the growth and development of the country,” said Bhaumik, a renowned laser scientist, who has come up the hard way himself.

The fund, set up with an initial capital of Rs 1 crore, has selected 10 students for the scholarship on the basis of their achievements and financial conditions and will help them in meeting their food, lodging and tuition expenses throughout their academic career. The amount of scholarship will depend on the extent of expense and will range between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 a month.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who handed over prizes to the students, welcomed the move of setting up the foundation for needy students. “In an era of science and technology, the next century belongs to these boys. But our biggest challenge will be to stop such students from seeking greener pastures in the West,” he said.


Behrampore, Dec. 29: 
The controversy over the bridge linking Jangipur with Raghunathganj in Murshidabad, which chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will inaugurate tomorrow morning, is threatening to tear apart Left Front unity in the district.

RSP leader and state PWD minister Amalendralal Roy decided to name the 1,160-meter-long bridge built at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore, after his relative Raj Ballab Roy, a freedom fighter and the first chairman of Jangipur municipality.

Roy’s proposal was, however, vehemently opposed by district CPM leaders. The party wanted to name the bridge Kabiyal Gumani Dewan Setu, after the famous folk singer of undivided Bengal. The party’s stand on naming the bridge, whose foundation stone was laid in 1996 by then chief minister Jyoti Basu, to commemorate birth centenary of the folk singer received unflinching support from the Forward Bloc, the CPI and state Socialist Party.

Apprehending political isolation, local RSP leaders then suggested that the bridge be named after former party MP Tridib Chowdhury, who had single-handedly built the RSP stronghold in Murshidabad after Partition. Roy had even threatened to resign if the CPM ignored his party’s suggestion.

The issue was referred to the Left Front’s state committee, which also failed to resolve the dispute. Finally, Front partners decided to leave the bridge unnamed and open it to traffic despite the controversy.


Siliguri, Dec. 29: 
Pakistan’s ISI is planning subversive operations in north Bengal, with the help of militants based in Nepal and Bangladesh, say Indian intelligence officials.

Sleuths have stumbled upon plans by the Nepal-based Harkat-ul-Ansar and the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen to target army and public installations on Republic Day, to divert attention from the western front.

“Plans are afoot to target congested public places like railway stations and airports and commercial hubs and even army installations in Calcutta. The ISI gameplan is to divert attention from the build-up in the western sector,” said a military intelligence official.


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