Pregnancy death draws damages suit
Negligence claim meets flat denial
Teacher dignity ‘under duress’
Father shot for refusal to accept fiancee
Quota right to read and write
The City Diary
Hitman lands in police net
Return of the native Nooyi
Minister gag on CMDA leader
Family web in Center attack

Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
Encouraged by the efforts of Anuradha Saha’s family to seek ‘justice’ for her death due to alleged medical negligence, the Thakur family of Lake Town has moved the state consumer disputes redressal forum, seeking a Rs 20-lakh compensation for a death during pregnancy.

Sriparna Thakur, 29, conceived in 2000 for the first time after nine years of marriage, according to a petition filed at the forum on Thursday by husband Ashok Thakur and brother Arun Chowdhury. After prolonged treatment and costly medical assistance, the couple was finally becoming parents.

Five months later, Sriparna was admitted to Lake Town Nursing Home on the advice of consultant gynaecologist J.C. Samaddar, former professor of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. The doctor certified the pregnancy “risky” and said the patient needed continuous observation. In such a situation, precautions were necessary and costs secondary, said Thakur’s lawyer, Asim Ganguly.

On June 1, 2001, after two months of continuous treatment at the nursing home, Sriparna brought to the notice of the nurses and doctors that the unborn baby was no longer moving within her. It was her seventh month of pregnancy. According to the petition, the doctor ignored her complaint. On June 4, however, he sent her for an ultrasonography scan at a clinic in Salt Lake, run by Dr C.C. Mondal. The USG report revealed that the baby had died in womb before or on June 1 itself.

Samaddar told the Thakur family that Sriparna would have to be operated on and might need blood. When Thakur returned with the requisition, he found that the operation had been carried out and the dead baby removed. What was of more concern was that his wife’s condition had become critical, as the foetus had decomposed and infected the mother. Sriparna died that night (June 4).

Criminal proceedings were initiated at Lake Town police station the next day. The doctor had taken anticipatory bail, Ganguly said. The Thakurs also lodged a complaint against Samaddar at the West Bengal Medical Council soon after Sriparna’s death.

The case at the consumer disputes redressal forum was initiated on Thursday after submission of the relevant papers.

P.K. Basu and Rita Mukherjee, lawyers representing Samaddar, however, said that Sriparna had innumerable tumours and her pregnancy was risky. “She died of cardiac arrest after pulmonary embolism in the operation theatre itself. The family did not agree to a post-mortem.”

A writ filed by the Thakurs in the high court had been rejected, as there was no cognisable charge against the doctor in the FIR lodged by them.

Arun Choudhury, Sriparna’s brother, said he had also sought help from People for Better Treatment, the organisation started by Anuradha Saha’s husband Kunal and brother Moloy Ganguly, to help victims of medical negligence.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
The second of the three doctors charged with medical negligence in the Anuradha Saha case on Friday denied outright that he had examined the patient in May 1998. “I am completely innocent,” said consultant in medicine Abani Roy Chowdhury at the court of chief judicial magistrate, Alipore, Ananda Raha.

Consultant dermatologist Baidyanath Haldar had deposed before the judge last week. The third doctor, consultant in medicine Sukumar Mukherjee, will be heard next Tuesday.

Saying there was nothing in writing to show that he had examined the patient, Roy Chowdhury, in a prepared statement, said: “After the case was filed, I came to know that Dr Mukherjee, in his prescription of May 11 had written: ‘May I request Dr Roy Chowdhury to see the case.’ Since this was not communicated to me, I did not participate in her treatment.”

He added: “Dr Kunal Saha was my student at NRS Medical College while I was professor of medicine there. Being a student, he expected my participation in the treatment of his wife. Since it did not happen, it might have provoked him to file a false case against me.”

The judge asked him as many as 49 questions, based on the deposition of prosecution witnesses. Among them had been attending physician at AMRI, Balram Prasad, who has said that, as per Mukherjee’s prescription, Roy Chowdhury, along with Haldar, had advised certain blood tests on the patient. He replied: “Prasad never saw me at AMRI. I did not advise any treatment.” He also denied Prasad’s statement that, after Mukherjee left the city on May 12, 1998, a group of consultants, including Roy Chowdhury, had treated the patient at AMRI.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
The fate of the government’s ban on private tuition by teachers of state-aided schools will be decided next Wednesday, when Calcutta High Court delivers the verdict on the issue.

A packed courtroom on Friday — the audience included teachers and other service-holders — saw Justice Alok Chakraborty hear out both sides on the government’s ban.

The amount of importance the government is attaching to scuttle the petition — filed by Supriya Chattopadhyay, an assistant teacher of Andrews’ High School and wife of Trinamul Congress MLA Sovandeb Chattopadhyay — was apparent from the team it engaged in court.

The team comprises three of the senior-most government lawyers — advocate-general Balai Ray, government pleader Rabilal Mitra and additional government pleader Debashis Kargupta.

The decision was followed by a “special and urgent” missive from state primary and secondary education minister Kanti Biswas to the state judicial department officials.

“We cannot take this case lightly, as this is going to determine the reforms in the education sector,” officials quoted Biswas as saying.

Friday’s legal battle hovered around the point of a teacher’s “dignity”. It was “humiliating” the way teachers had been told to declare that they were not engaged in any gainful employment other than their jobs, contended Chattopadhyay’s lawyer Kalyan Banerjee (another Trinamul Congress legislator).

“My client’s argument does not concern the issue of private tuition alone, but also the issue of human dignity,” he said.

“Besides, the penalty threatened by the government against teachers refusing to submit the declaration is legally untenable,” he added, explaining that teachers could not be made to agree to fresh terms and conditions not included in the original appointment papers.

Government pleader Ray, however, found nothing demeaning in a teacher being asked to submit a declaration.

“If a citizen can furnish declarations about his income to tax officials, what is demeaning in submitting a declaration on private tuition or any other trade?” he asked. “Even your honour has to declare his age,” he told the judge.

This, however, did not go down well with Justice Chakraborty. “Why does the government want a declaration every three months?” he asked.

The declaration being debated in court requires teachers to get back to the authorities once every three months, failing which the government can take penal action, including stopping the errant teacher’s salary.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
In a fit of pique, a son shot his father for objecting to the girl he wanted to marry. Hakim Khan, a 55-year-old Afghan, was shot dead by son Abdullah in their one-room rented apartment in Chitpur on Friday morning. Witnesses said Abdullah, incensed by his father’s refusal to accept his fiancee, fired at him and then ran out of the house.

Residents, drawn by the sound of the gunshot, saw Abdullah fleeing while Hakim lay bleeding. “We saw Abdullah running along BT Road, towards Saudagarpatti,’’ said Nirmal Das, a neighbour. “We managed to catch him about 500 metres from the house,’’ Das added.

Abdullah was nearly lynched by a mob before three policemen rescued him and took him in custody. Chitpur police later seized the revolver.

Deputy commissioner of police, north, K.L. Tamta, said the senior Khan hailed from Jalalabad and visited the city periodically to ply his trade. “He rented a room in Chitpur. The son works for a private firm in Assam and was paying a visit to his father when their quarrels came to a head,’’ Tamta added.

Abdullah had reportedly fallen in love with an Assamese girl and wanted to marry her. When Hakim learnt of the relationship, he threatened to disown the son. “The father and son had frequent quarrels over the proposed marriage,” the police said.

Efforts are being made to inform the duo’s relatives in Delhi. Abdullah is being interrogated. Preliminary investigations revealed that Abdullah’s revolver was not licensed.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
Sakhawat Memorial may become the first government-run school in the state to have seats reserved for Muslim girls, if the state government accepts a proposal from the West Bengal Minorities’ Commission. After delving into the school’s history, the government-instituted commission is convinced that the time is right to reserve a quota of seats for girls from the community.

“Muslim girls are the worst victims of the system,” said a senior Commission official. “This is evident when they seek admission to college or even apply for jobs,” he added.

Documents ferreted out of the state archives date the establishment of the school to March 11, 1911. It started from a small room in 13, Waliullah Lane, in central Calcutta, with only eight students. Set up with money from a private endowment from Begum Rokeya after her husband’s death, the original name of the school was ‘Sakhawat Memorial English School for Muslim Girls’, a probe by the Commission has revealed.

The school was taken over by the government on December 19, 1935, as per a Calcutta Gazette notification in February 1936. “But even the takeover did not change the character of the school,” said state minority affairs department officials.

“Documents reveal that it continued to admit only Muslim girls till the Partition,” an official told Metro. In March 1949, the director of public instructions formally notified the school authorities that the words ‘for Muslim Girls’ was being dropped from its name.

Muslim girls, coming from a section that lags economically and educationally, can do with some support from the state, say Commission officials. “If the institution was originally meant for Muslim girls, then at least legally, the criteria applicable to other government-run institutions should not prevail,” said a legal luminary attached to the minority affairs department.

“The school can definitely allow concessions for Muslim girls in the form of reservations,” he added. He cited as example the schools run by Christian missionary organisations, which have a percentage of seats reserved for the community.

Sakhawat Memorial has a separate section for those who opt for Urdu as the medium of instruction, say officials. “But it is true that this section lags behind in terms of performance,” a department official added. The minorities’ commission proposal had reached the government, he admitted. “We have already started an independent inquiry into the details furnished by the commission and a decision is expected soon,” he said.



Woman murdered in Shibpur

Miscreants murdered Sandhya Bhattacharya, a 45-year-old housewife, on Sarat Chatterjee Road, in Shibpur, on Thursday night. Officials said the miscreants first hit the woman on her head and then slit her throat. Later, they covered the body with a blanket and fled. Shibpur police said the assailants had come to the Bhattacharya residence to hand over a mobile handset for Sandhya’s husband. Nothing was reported stolen from the house. Forensic experts have collected fingerprint marks on Friday. The body has been sent for post-mortem. Neighbours protested the sudden spurt in crime in the area.

Shops gutted in dawn blaze

Three shops were gutted in Thakurpukur early on Friday. Five fire engines took nearly three hours to control the blaze. According to the police, some of the fire-fighters were attacked by the locals for arriving late. Fire-fighting equipment was damaged too.

House burgled

Robbers looted Rs 50,000 in cash and ornaments from a house at Baishnabghata on Thursday night. Police said the robbers broke in when the house was empty. No one has been arrested.

Criminal held

Sheikh Akhtar, a local criminal, was arrested from Kankurgachhi on Thursday. Arms were found in his possession.

Flights rescheduled

Indian Airlines has rescheduled some flights from February 18-24 due to operational reasons, a release issued by Indian Airlines informed on February 15. The rescheduled flights include IC 743 on the Calcutta–Agartala sector that will leave Calcutta at 10.40 am on February 18 and reach Agartala at 11.30 am, IC 743 on the Calcutta–Bagdogra sector that will leave Calcutta at 10.40 am on February 20 and 22 and reach Bagdogra at 11.35 am. IC 743 on the Calcutta–Dibrugarh sector will leave Calcutta at 10.40 am on February 21 and 24 and reach Dibrugarh at 12.10 pm. All other flights will operate as per schedule.

Trinamul bandh

Trinamul Congress observed a 12-hour bandh at Santragachhi, Howrah, on the southern fringes of the city, on Friday, to protest the murder of party worker Mrinal De. The bandh was reportedly peaceful. Shops and schools were closed during the day.

Centre opening

Dr Bhabesh Chandra Lahiri Memorial Medical Research, a diagnostic centre on Elgin Road, will be inaugurated by Dr Subir Kumar Dutta, dean, faculty of medicine, Calcutta University, on Sunday. Dr Abirlal Mukherjee, former head, department of ENT, Medical College, will attend.

Drug for spasticity

Paediatric spasticity due to cerebral palsy can be treated with a drug called Botox, according to city doctors. Worldwide research has shown that Botox treatment has led to significant improvement in gait and limb movement, Dr Anupam Duttagupta said.    

Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
City police today swooped down on a central Calcutta neighbourhood to arrest Mohammed Nadeem, accused in half-a-dozen cases of murder and extortion.

Police recovered arms and ammunition from his Colootala Lane hideout.

Nadeem’s arrest is significant in the light of reports that hitmen from Mumbai are moving to Calcutta for kidnapping and contract-killing operations, the police said.

The police are trying to track down Nadeem’s godfather in the Mumbai underworld, with which he has strong links, according to deputy commissioner of police (central) Zulfiquar Hasan.

“We have evidence that he (Nadeem) had visited Mumbai several times during the past two months. I asked my counterparts in Mumbai to provide more information,” Hasan said.

Nadeem operated from Ezra Street, Pullock Street, Strand Road, Zakaria Street, Falmundi and Hare Street areas, Hasan added.

The police official said sleuths are also investigating whether Nadeem had any connection with Jamaluddin Nasir, who was arrested in connection with the attack on the American Center. Detective department officials had earlier confirmed that Nasir had met Sabir and Shaqeel several times. “Shaqeel and Sabir are close associates of Nadeem,” the police officer said.

Police had recently picked up Annu, a member of Nadeem’s gang. “Annu took us to places where Shaqeel, Sabir and Ali Iman — close confidants of Nadeem — were hiding,” Hasan said. However, the police drew a blank as all of them, including Nadeem, had fled.

Nadeem and his gang had fled to Dhanbad in Bihar at the end of January, after the state CID and the detective department of the city police started rounding up criminals, following the American Center attack.

“They had also gone to Mumbai before returning to the city when they ran out of money,” an investigating officer of the Hare Street police station said.

The police laid a trap for Sabir, Shaqeel and Iman as soon as they returned a week ago and took them in custody.

“The criminals broke down during interrogation and informed us about Nadeem’s whereabouts,” said the officer in charge of Hare Street police station, Debu Bhattacharya.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
Indra Nooyi touched base, 26 years after she had passed out of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.

In these years, she had gone places, scripted success stories and climbed steadily but fast the corporate ladder to reach the very top. She’s now the president of PepsiCo, the world’s fifth-largest food and beverages company with revenues of over $26 billion.

“I am still in awe of being the president of PepsiCo,” said Nooyi, sharing her views with the IIMC students today at the institute’s swank new auditorium. On a seven-day trip to the country to understand the company’s performance in India, she found time to talk to the budding managers in her alma mater.

“It’s great to be back on campus after 26 years and talking to you. Most of you weren’t even born when I left the campus.” She hasn’t forgotten those “drunken” old days.

After 1976 — the year she passed out — she’s been with Asea Brown Boveri, Motorola and The Boston Consulting Group. Then she moved to PepsiCo. She’s been there for seven years now. A student wondered what her next move would be. “I don’t know,” she said. “Probably I will have to go to my astrologer to check.”

Then she did a Keynes on someone who wanted to know what her long-term goals were. “What’s long-term? Five years, 10 years, 30 years?”

Before the students could hurl their next questions at her, she decided it was time to give the budding managers an advice or two. “Why don’t you guys clean up the campus?” she asked, pointing out how dirty it had become over the years.

There were moments of laughter, too, during the Q&A session that lasted little less than an hour. “I am married to an Indian and he is an angel of a husband. But it’s very difficult to find Indian husbands who are angels as well,” she said to peals of laughter.

But she hasn’t forgotten her roots. Her success she attributed to her middle-class background.

More advice was to follow, but the students had gathered there precisely for that. Don’t get drawn by big bucks alone, learn to value ethics, she said.

Then the engines purred to life. The fleet of Mercs — reeking of big bucks — wound its way out of campus, carrying away Nooyi and her Pepsi entourage to the airport, to another city.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
Incensed by a Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) employee’s going to the press with news about the organisation’s shortcomings, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya issued orders to serve him a showcause notice.

“This person has been repeatedly making statements in the press falsely accusing the CMDA of financial irregularities. It can no longer be tolerated,” Bhattacharya said at Writers’ Buildings today.

The minister has issued instructions to the CMDA management to see to it that the employee, Pranabandhu Nag, is eventually suspended. Nag, general secretary of the CMDA staff union, however, said he was yet to receive any notice.

“Reports carried in leading newspapers published from Calcutta have carried serious allegations against the CMDA. They have been attributed to this person who claims to be the leader of a union. He has alleged that the CMDA has been withholding funds meant for municipalities in the Calcutta Metropolitan Area,” the minister pointed out.

Rubbishing the news reports, the minister said all grants to the municipalities are routed not through the CMDA but through the municipal affairs department. “These acts of feeding misinformation to the press can no longer be tolerated,” Bhattacharya said.


Calcutta, Feb. 15: 
A chain of relatives of “prime facilitator” Jamaluddin Nasir played a key role in the American Center attack. With the arrest of two more suspects from Jaipur, investigators in Calcutta are now sure that Nasir’s relatives, both close and distant, helped the terrorists at every step, right from renting a room in Hazaribagh to escorting them while on the run.

Detective department deputy commissioner of police Soumen Mitra said: “Four suspects, excluding Nasir and Aftab Ansari, have so far been arrested by the city police and three of them have turned out to be Nasir’s relatives.”

Earlier, sleuths arrested two of Nasir’s relatives -- Adil Hasan and Rohan Alam, alias Monti, from Hazaribagh for helping the gang rent a room there. Monti, a 19-year-old, is the youngest person arrested in this connection. According to sources, though none of them participated in the shootout they helped the killers in their mission.

Jaipur police handed over the two suspects, Shaqeel Ahmed and Dilip Patel, to the Calcutta police team which went there early this week. Shaqeel is also one of Nasir’s relative. “The duo is expected to be in the city by tomorrow afternoon,” said Mitra, who is overseeing the attack probe.

According to sources, Nasir had gone to Jaipur at the end of last November to buy a jeep (RJ 15-077). “Ansari told him to collect Rs 2 lakh from Patel, the local hawala operator. We suspect they had a plan to use the jeep in their operations. However, we are not sure so far whether they had any plans to use the jeep in the American Center attack,” an official said.

Investigators said Shaqeel lives in Nalanda. He had gone to Jaipur three years ago. “Shaqeel then started developing his contacts there. He was told by Nasir to keep in touch with the local gangsters,” said an officer.

The sleuths suspect Shaqeel had aided in securing safe passage for a consignment of arms to Calcutta.

“A number of facts relating to Shaqeel’s role are yet to be verified. We expect some leads after interrogating him,” Mitra said.

The five teams formed immediately after the incident to investigate the case are preparing to interrogate Aftab Ansari. “What I saw in Aftab while interrogating him in Delhi is that he is a cool and calculative person. He is smart enough. He won’t confess all the facts. If we want to make him confess, our officers will have to prove that they have enough information on his network,” Mitra said.


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