IIIT students press boycott button
Waterfront don in police net
‘Sahada’ Swapan arrested
Teachers’ protest clouds Shibpur reopening
Saha pill dose was harmful: Expert
Cop van hits boy
Sealdah sweep for suburbs
Party, govt back Buddha
Calcutta link in spy ring
Crackdown on Howrah food stalls

 
 
IIIT STUDENTS PRESS BOYCOTT BUTTON 
 
 
BY DEVADEEP PUROHIT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
Discontent brewing for the past 15 months finally reached a flashpoint on Saturday. Over 200 students at the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Salt Lake, decided to go on an indefinite strike following the management’s “total failure” in improving the quality of academic resources and infrastructure at the fledgling institute.

The students are pinning their hopes on the chief minister’s intervention. “We shall return to the classes only after the chief minister gives us a hearing. We have submitted a letter to our director on Friday, informing him of our decision,” said the students of the government-promoted tech school in Salt Lake, billed as the brainchild of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Swapan Bhattacharjee, director, IIIT, initially denied receiving any such letter, but later said: “I was not in office in the second half of Friday, so I can’t comment on the issue.”

For the students, going on strike was their “last resort” after a 15-month stint at the institute and spending around Rs 60,000 as tuition fees.

“Despite repeated promises, the management did nothing to resolve our problems. Instead, we were threatened with disciplinary action. We had even written to the minister and the secretary of technical education. But nothing has changed,” said a second year student, who forsook Indian Statistical Institute to join the IIIT. Most students, who qualified in an all-India entrance test taken by over 20,000 applicants, regret their decision of joining IIIT.

The institute has two batches of students enrolled in graduate diploma in information technology (GDIT) programme, but it is yet to be recognised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). “The prospectus carried promises of making the institute a deemed university, capable of awarding B.Tech degrees, within six months. But there are hardly any signs of fulfilling these promises,” said a student.

The students feel that the government has “cheated” them in more ways than one. “The advertisement boasted of a 10-acre built-up campus, but we still don’t have a building of our own. We were promised faculties from the IITs, but there’s no one of that stature. The library is non-existent and computer facilities are worse,” he added.

Students are citing examples of the achievements in the IIITs based in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Gwalior and Allahabad. “In Hyderabad or Bangalore, they have corporate associates like Infosys, Wipro and IBM, whereas here we have some local partners, who just run private engineering colleges. Our counterparts in the other IIITs get to interact with the industry. We don’t get such opportunities here,” pointed out one of them.

   

 
 
WATERFRONT DON IN POLICE NET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
Darren Syed wanted to “control” the riverfront. But the 28-year-old criminal’s plans went haywire when he fell into a police trap early on Saturday. A pistol and a consignment of cannabis were found on him.

A team from the Port police station was sent to Mumbai last year in pursuit of Darren. “But despite month-long efforts in Mumbai to trace him, Darren eluded us. On Saturday, however, his luck ran out,” said DC (port) Harmanpreet Singh.

Darren’s rise to fame started in the 90s when he along with close aide Roshan Ali began extorting local warehouse owners.

In a bid to dominate the Port area, Darren had eliminated Sheikh Jehangir, alias Mughal, on February 12.

When the police tried to track him down, he fled to Mumbai. From there, he started to co-ordinate criminal activities in Dubai and Calcutta.

Darren also played a key role in the abduction of a Posta-based businessman on April 29. The ransom was routed through the hawala network to Dubai.

“We suspect that he is involved with the underworld in Dubai as well. We are trying to establish his involvement in other abductions too,” said a police officer.

On Saturday, a trap was laid in Garden Reach, where Darren was supposed to meet a friend.

“A white Ambassador pulled up. As soon as Darren stepped out, he was overpowered by our men,” Singh said.

The Ambassador was with him on Friday, too, when he was seen near the Ekbalpore police station, arguing with some men, an officer said.

Investigations revealed that a local businessman owned the car. “Since he did not file a complaint, we presume he had lent the vehicle to Darren. We are looking for him as well,” said an official.

   

 
 
‘SAHADA’ SWAPAN ARRESTED 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
‘Smashan’ Swapan, an extortionist-turned smuggler, was arrested from a hideout in Jagannath Bose Lane, in the Munchipara police station area, on Saturday.

He was picked up from an illegal country liquor shop and was remanded in custody. A revolver was recovered from him. The police later detained two youths, suspected to be his associates.

Swapan gained notoriety for extortion in and around the Keoratala crematorium.

When filmmaker Satyajit Ray was being cremated there, the police tried to arrest the goon, who had made the burning ghat his hang-out. Swapan called out for help to the then police commissioner Biren Saha, referring to him as “Sahada”, in presence of the city’s glitterati, including the then home minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The degree of familiarity with the criminal subsequently cost Saha his chair.

Recently, Swapan started smuggling electronic goods from Siliguri. He had arrived in Calcutta on Friday night to strike a deal when a police informer spotted him. He was arrested on the basis of the tip-off.

   

 
 
TEACHERS’ PROTEST CLOUDS SHIBPUR REOPENING 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
A threat of agitation by teachers has cast a fresh shadow of uncertainty on Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), Shibpur. The college, which remained closed for over a month due to clashes between students and members of the CPM-controlled union, is set to reopen on Monday.

On Saturday, a large section of teachers threatened to launch a movement against the authorities’ “high-handed attitude” in taking major administrative decisions. The vice-chancellor has called an emergency meeting with senior teachers on Monday to discuss the stalemate.

The grievance list of the teachers includes the authorities’ decision to take action against some students for their alleged involvement in the December 23 issue, which led to the closure of the college the following day. Faculty members said it was “unfair” on the part of the authorities to punish the students, as the inquiry committee probing the incident had yet to submit its report.

At least 20 students, who were accused of creating trouble on December 23 night, have been suspended till further notice. A senior official said they have been asked not to attend classes to avoid further trouble. However, they have been permitted to sit for the exams, which are likely to be held next week.

The teachers threatened to stop co-operating with the authorities if important decisions continued to be taken disregarding the rules of the university.

Amaljyoti Roy Choudhury, dean of engineering and applied science faculties, has resigned in protest. “The authorities have flouted the norms of the institution. I don’t want to be a party to such illegal acts,” said Roy Choudhury. His designated successor has also expressed unwillingness to take over.

Shantanu Karmakar, general secretary of Bengal Engineering College Deemed University Teachers’ Association, pointed out that major decisions, like keeping the college shut during a crucial academic session and preventing about 20 students from entering the premises, had been taken in the absence of senior members of the board of management.

In none of the recently-held meetings were all the members present. Representatives from the state higher education department, University Grants Commission and the Union ministry of human resource development were absent. According to the university rules, no important decision can be taken in their absence, he pointed out.

In a meeting on Wednesday, a decision was to reopen the students’ hostels and resume academic activities from Monday.

   

 
 
SAHA PILL DOSE WAS HARMFUL: EXPERT 
 
 
BY OUR LEGAL REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
The dosage of Depmedrol allegedly prescribed to Anuradha Saha was “harmful”. This was stated in court on Saturday by Salil Bhattacharya, professor of pharmacology in Benaras Hindu University.

Twelve witnesses, including Bhattacharya, were examined on Saturday in connection with the Anuradha Saha death case.

Bhattacharya deposed that the medicine, Depmedrol-80 mg, should not have been administered twice daily, as was allegedly prescribed to Saha. “A dose of 40 to 120 mg can be administered to a patient for a period between a week and a fortnight,” the pharmacologist said. Chief judicial magistrate Ananda Raha heard the witnesses.

The three city doctors — Abani Roy Chowdhury, Baidyanath Haldar and Sukumar Mukherjee, the respondents in the case — will be cross-examined on February 8. Three expert witnesses, J.C. Rousoun of the University of Paris, Peter Friech of the University of Innsbruck and Dev Fine of the University of North Columbia, will also submit their opinion.

The other witnesses present on Saturday were Farooque Kudwadi of Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, Anil Sydeh, director of Upjon Pharmaceuticals Ltd which manufactures Depmedrol, Balaram Prasad of Advance Medical Research Institute, Ashoke Chowdhury, president of West Bengal Medical Council and three physicians, including US-based doctor and husband of the victim, Kunal Saha.

Two of the accused physicians, Mukherjee and Roy Chowdhury, were present in court during Saturday’s hearing.

The victim’s brother, Moloy Ganguly, had filed a criminal cases against the doctors alleging that his sister died due to wrong treatment. The Supreme Court has directed the Alipore court to finish the trial within four months. Saha has filed a litigation demanding transfer of the pending case to another state, as he “will not get justice in West Bengal”. His petition will be heard in the apex court on February 11.

   

 
 
COP VAN HITS BOY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
Rajesh Singh, 12, son of a constable, was seriously injured after a police van hit him from behind at Shibpur, in Howrah.

Police said Rajesh, a Class VII student of a local school, was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries. Rajesh was on his way to school on Saturday morning when the accident occurred. The driver fled, leaving the vehicle behind.

Locals gathered on the spot and blocked the road to protest rash driving. Normalcy was restored after senior police officials intervened.

   

 
 
SEALDAH SWEEP FOR SUBURBS 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, Feb. 2: 
After Operation Sunshine II at Sealdah, the railway authorities have planned a two-month drive against encroachers in all stations and adjacent areas in its eastern division from February 17.

“After the successful operation in Sealdah, we have decided to clean suburban railway stations located in the districts by removing unauthorised settlers,” D.C. Mitra, divisional railway manager, Sealdah, today announced.

The drive would begin from Kalyani station, which has the largest concentration of encroachers. Then it will move to Chakdah, Kanchrapara, Ranaghat and, finally, Krishnagar. In the south section, Garia, Bagha Jatin, Dhakuria and Ballygunge stations would come under the sweep.

Mitra, who has been meeting district magistrates of Nadia, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas, said he had sought the cooperation of MPs, MLAs and key political functionaries to make the programme a success.

Railway minister Nitish Kumar had taken a personal interest in the project, he added.

   

 
 
PARTY, GOVT BACK BUDDHA 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Feb. 2: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today received a shot in the arm over his move to crack down on unaffiliated madarsas indulging in “anti-national and illegal activities” with Left Front chairman Biman Bose and higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty backing his stand.

Chakraborty told a meeting of the West Bengal Officers’ and Supervisory Staff Association in Burdwan that the government would “not allow any kind of anti-national activities on the plea of imparting religious education and would try to prevent any neighbouring country’s interference with our educational system. The state government will never provide funds to any madarsa or any other kind of institution for the purpose of preaching religion”.

Bose, too, strongly supported the chief minister’s stand while addressing a three-day conference of the CPM’s Assam unit, which concluded in Guwahati today. “As these madarsas are not affiliated to the state madarsa board, we do not know what is being taught and also the credentials of the students and teachers in these institutions.”

Bose, a CPM politburo member, justified Bhattacharjee’s tough stand, saying “he has done nothing wrong by engaging the police and other agencies to gather the required information about these madarsas since the education department does not have detailed facts about them”.

“The chief minister’s objective is very clear. Unless these institutions become affiliated to the madarsa board, their students will never be able to compete with those from other institutions,” he asserted.

The higher education minister, however, made it clear in his address that the state government did not intend to target any particular community while taking appropriate action against unaffiliated madarsas engaged in unlawful activities.

“We can never support imparting of religious education in madarsas to serve communal interests. We will put down with a firm hand Islamisation or saffronisation of education. We want our educational system to be rational, intelligent and realistic, based on science and technology,” Chakraborty observed.

Chakraborty is the first senior CPM minister to extend his unflinching support to the chief minister’s tough stand.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today received a shot in the arm over his move to crack down on unaffiliated madarsas indulging in “anti-national and illegal activities” with Left Front chairman Biman Bose and higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty backing his stand.

Chakraborty told a meeting of the West Bengal Officers’ and Supervisory Staff Association in Burdwan that the government would “not allow any kind of anti-national activities on the plea of imparting religious education and would try to prevent any neighbouring country’s interference with our educational system. The state government will never provide funds to any madarsa or any other kind of institution for the purpose of preaching religion”.

Bose, too, strongly supported the chief minister’s stand while addressing a three-day conference of the CPM’s Assam unit, which concluded in Guwahati today. “As these madarsas are not affiliated to the state madarsa board, we do not know what is being taught and also the credentials of the students and teachers in these institutions.”

Bose, a CPM politburo member, justified Bhattacharjee’s tough stand, saying “he has done nothing wrong by engaging the police and other agencies to gather the required information about these madarsas since the education department does not have detailed facts about them”.

“The chief minister’s objective is very clear. Unless these institutions become affiliated to the madarsa board, their students will never be able to compete with those from other institutions,” he asserted.

The higher education minister, however, made it clear in his address that the state government did not intend to target any particular community while taking appropriate action against unaffiliated madarsas engaged in unlawful activities.

“We can never support imparting of religious education in madarsas to serve communal interests. We will put down with a firm hand Islamisation or saffronisation of education. We want our educational system to be rational, intelligent and realistic, based on science and technology,” Chakraborty observed.

Chakraborty is the first senior CPM minister to extend his unflinching support to the chief minister’s tough stand.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA LINK IN SPY RING 
 
 
FROM PROBIR PRAMANIK
 
Siliguri, Feb. 2: 
Sleuths probing the ISI-hawala nexus today claimed to have established the connection of a Calcutta-based hawala operator with the Siliguri spy ring run by Pakistani agent Dilshad.

An investigator said raids on Ram Krishen Baheti’s transport firm in Jorasanko and his Golabari residence in Howrah yielded several documents, computers, floppy disks with coded hawala transaction records, a passport, telephone numbers and diaries establishing his links with the spies as their facilitator.

But Baheti, who was arrested on January 29 from Brabourne Road, protested his innocence. “Mujhe kuch nahi malum. Mujhe fasaya gaya hai,” the 28-year-old told reporters here. Baheti, who is alleged to have played host to Dilshad at his Calcutta office, also denied acquaintance with the ISI agent. “Mai koi Dilshad-ilshad ko nahi pehchanta hoon.”

But the sleuths believe they have established his hand in the Siliguri spy case. “Documents seized from his transport firm, Hindustan Goods Carrier, which was a front for his hawala operations, and a passport revealed that Baheti was not only a leading hawala and hundi operator routing clandestine money transactions for the ISI through the Calcutta-Mumbai-Lucknow-Karachi-Abu Dhabi route, but also indicated that he was part of operations to pass on vital information to his ISI controllers in Pakistan and Dubai. The hawala operator also used the Calcutta-Hyderabad-Chennai-Bangalore route,” a special investigation team official said.

The passport seized from Baheti’s residence showed he had visited West Asian countries and Pakistan “several” times between 2000 and 2001.

Investigators had been on Baheti’s trail since an employee of his Siliguri office was arrested last month based on Dilshad’s confession that he had received funds through the office.

   

 
 
CRACKDOWN ON HOWRAH FOOD STALLS 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Howrah, Feb. 2: 
Alarmed at the mushrooming of roadside eateries and sale of peeled fruits in Howrah town, the district administration has planned a crackdown from next week.

“Contaminated food from roadside eateries and cut fruits are posing a serious health hazard and we have failed to put a brake on them. However, this time we are serious about the drive against vendors,” Chanchal Bandhopadhyay, commissioner of Howrah Municipal Corporation, said, admitting that he had received numerous complaints about the menace.

Bandopadhyay said a joint drive with the police would be undertaken to rid the town of the unauthorised eateries and vendors. “If necessary, we will approach leaders from various political parties to back the drive,” he added.

The commissioner explained that a sustained drive could not be undertaken earlier due to staff shortage. But corporation sources said stiff opposition from the CPM, which controls the civic board, had stood in the way.

“No one is serious about sustained raids, and whenever one or two raids are conducted in a year, someone from the corporation gives them prior intimation to move away. Ultimately our mission fails as the vendors are back within days,” said a corporation official.

   
 

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