Cops to catch cops off guard
Mumbai killers elude police dragnet
Family with HIV patient shunned
Details sought on Delhi trio
Fill ‘er up and sell a cell
Gadget crash course for docs
Leather centre on fast track
Surjeet’s Kashmir solution

 
 
COPS TO CATCH COPS OFF GUARD 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
A group of guards to keep watch on those on guard. That’s the formula the city police top brass has chalked out to ensure “effective policing”.

Officers belonging to a special cell will pay “surprise visits” on motorcycles to vital installations, not to check on the security cover, but to keep tabs on their colleagues on duty.

Two days after an inebriated Second Battalion constable, Biswajit Mondol, shot dead security guard Pratyush Karmakar at the Tiretta Bazaar Telephone Bhavan, city police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty summoned senior officials on Saturday and asked them to “remove the chinks in the armour immediately”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Chakraborty said he had asked his men to “identify and report corrupt policemen”.

“I have instructed the officers to immediately take men off duty if they are found to suffer from mental fatigue or are indisciplined,” the commissioner said. “Officers will visit protected sites and speak to the owners of the properties and the cops on duty. Their job will be to find out the problems and report it to the department concerned,” Chakra-borty added.

Several batches of the 4,800-strong eight-battalion force are deployed in front of important buildings. The security cover increased considerably after the September 11 attack in New York. However, many constables are known to have voiced their concern against “hectic and tight schedules”.

A deputy commissioner of a battalion said he receives “several applications” from his men, either asking for transfers on health grounds or requesting for frequent leave. “Sometimes constables have been found not reporting for duty or drinking a lot,” he said.

Concerned with incidents of trigger-shy constables ducking away from the line of fire or shooting their own colleagues in a drunken state, the commissioner held extensive talks with officers to step up the gas against errant policemen. “Those found guilty of drinking alcohol on duty or showing evidence of irrational behaviour will be immediately removed and punished,” the commissioner said.

Chakraborty is learnt to have asked those at the meeting to pass on the message to all the officers-in-charge of city police stations. The battalion deputy commissioners have been asked to submit regular reports on their men to the commissioner, in addition to the “independent monitoring” done by the police chief himself through the special cell.

Investigation on Thursday’s incident revealed that Mondol was cautioned several times for irrational behaviour and dereliction of duty since 1998.

Several business houses have reportedly expressed concern over the deployment of policemen who are “not in the right state of mind”. The commissioner has reportedly threatened action against officers found not enforcing the code of conduct.

   

 
 
MUMBAI KILLERS ELUDE POLICE DRAGNET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
The police on Saturday drew a blank in their efforts to nab the suspects in the murder of three Calcutta-based criminals two days ago in Mumbai. A team from Mumbai Police, which had come down to investigate the murders, failed to track any of the killers suspected to be travelling to the state to take cover.

The police had laid a trap at Howrah and Kharagpur railway stations. “We were tipped off that the suspects might have taken Geetanjali Express or Mumbai Mail and would get off at Kharagpur. Accordingly, forces were deployed at the stations but there was no one matching the descriptions of the killers,” said a Government Railway Police (GRP) official.

The three victims — Mohammad Rajauddin alias Raju, Samanullah Abdul Khalid and Mazhar — were sharing a room in a Mumbai guest house on J.J. Marg since February 14 when they fled Calcutta to evade arrest. The three were hacked to death on Thursday.

The needle of suspicion points towards their accomplices — Md Mustaque, Afsaruddin and Shaukat — who are now on the run. Investigation revealed that Mustaque was staying with the victims at the guest house when the murders took place. “The other suspects were staying in an adjacent guest house for the past six months,” said R.R. Sharma of J.J. Marg police station.

Sources said the victims and the suspects hailed from the Garden Reach-Ekbalpore belt. The leader of their gang, Manoj Singh, is now behind bars in Calcutta on charges of murdering Port area don Kasma.

When officials of the J. J. Marg police station found out that the victims and the assassins were from Calcutta, a team was despatched by the morning flight from Mumbai on Friday.

On being questioned, manager of the guest house, Reshma Ishaque said her mother Khurshida had discovered the bodies of the criminals at 11 am on Thursday. “My mother was informed of some commotion in the victims’ room. She found that Raju had been slashed while the other two, Khalid and Mazhar, were hacked,” said Reshma.

A search of the victims’ room in the guest house on Friday yielded Rs 10,000, some cash-cards and a passport belonging to Mustaque. “The passport has been issued from Calcutta in 1997 but Mustaque had never travelled abroad,” added Sharma.

Provident fund returns: Additional central provident fund commissioner M.L. Meena has requested employers to submit returns for 2001-2002 by March 15 so that account slips could be handed over on April 1.

   

 
 
FAMILY WITH HIV PATIENT SHUNNED 
 
 
BY TARAK NATH DE
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
Villagers of Domjur, in Howrah, have ostracised the family of a suspected AIDS victim after they came to know of the youth’s HIV infection. The matter came to light during an awareness camp conducted by health officials in the district.

“The patient attended the camp to tell us about the ordeal he and his family have been facing. We have already brought the matter to the notice of the state government,” said Howrah chief medical officer of health, (CMOH), M.K. Ghosh.

Stung by humiliation at neighbours launching a negative campaign, the youth’s family has decided to take up the issue with the state Human Rights Commission as the last resort.

“We are passing sleepless nights ever since the villagers boycotted us,” said the patient’s mother. “We will have to shift elsewhere if the situation does not improve,” she said.

Come what may, the mother is determined to stand by her son. “The doctors of a premier medical institution in Calcutta are helping us,” she said.

The youth tested positive in the Enzyme Linked Immuno Solvent Assay (ELISA) at the School of Tropical Medicine in December. He has been asked to undertake a Western Blot test to confirm the findings.

“We are poor people. How can we afford such an expensive test? We are looking to the doctors to save my brother. He has sunk into depression,” the victim’s brother said.

The youth worked as a goldsmith in Chennai some years ago. He is suspected to have been infected during his frequent visits to brothels.

“Doctors in Chennai advised me to return home after they detected HIV symptoms. I returned to Calcutta soon after. The doctors are very co-operative here and have assured me of all possible help,” the patient said. “I don’t know what is in store for me, but if my family is being constantly harassed I might have to move elsewhere,” the youth added.

Computer training: Aptech Computer Education is introducing call-centre training under the brand name “Calltech” in eight out of its 18 centres in the city. This was announced on Saturday during a seminar on ‘Career Opportunities in the IT-enabled Services Sector’.

   

 
 
DETAILS SOUGHT ON DELHI TRIO 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
The city police have sought information on three suspected ISI agents, picked up in New Delhi for their involvement in the American Center attack on January 22.

The trio, arrested on January 29, was part of Dubai-based don Aftab Ansari’s network in Calcutta. They had reportedly provided back-up to the attackers. The trio is being interrogated at an undisclosed location in Delhi.

Speaking to The Telegraph over telephone, joint commissioner of police (crime), New Delhi, U.K. Katna, said on Saturday: “So far, we have arrested 15 people suspected to be part of Ansari’s network. Some of them are involved in criminal activities in Calcutta.”

Of the three, two are Bangladeshis and had been directly recruited by Ansari. One of them, Jamaluddin, had stayed in Calcutta for several days and is believed to have strong links with Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami of Bangladesh.

“They had crossed over from Bangladesh and met Ansari’s henchmen in Calcutta, before fleeing to a New Delhi suburb after the American Center attack. We are checking out their antecedents,” an official said.

   

 
 
FILL ‘ER UP AND SELL A CELL 
 
 
BY SUNANDO SARKAR
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
They have spent most of their lives filling petrol or diesel. A few others have handled liquefied petroleum gas cylinders. But some of them — employees of Indian Oil petroleum product dealers —will soon try their hand at something new.

Come March, attendants at petrol pumps might approach customers with bargain deals for cellphones.

Calcutta Telephones, a subsidiary of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), has tied up with Indian Oil Corporation to sell cellphones which, due to some technical hiccups, have not been finding any takers.

The result: Around 20 pump attendants and cylinder suupliers are now learning the basics of cellphone operations and the nitty-gritty of marketing the public-sector telecom product.

BSNL officials admit that the tie-up indicates the measure of desperation at the Calcutta Telephones headquarters.

“We have tied up with 13 dealers in the first phase,” said Indian Oil spokesperson Dipak Bose. “Six of them deal with LPG while the others run diesel and petrol pumps,” he added.

Given a self-imposed target of selling at least 15,000 cellphones by March 31, the telecom giant has succeeded in selling only a little more than 7,000 sets to date, say officials.

Besides picking up the rates of incoming-outgoing calls and pre-paid/post-paid services, the men are also getting acquainted with the different services the BSNL product offers.

Classes are being held at the new services cell of Calcutta Telephones. “Because of their age, the trainees may find it difficult to pick up the use of modern gadgets but we are confident that they will learn the ropes,” a Calcutta Telephones official said.

The BSNL, according to an official, is being hit by “a faulty marketing policy”. In contrast to the high-voltage sales campaigns of private competitors, like Airtel and Command, the BSNL sales pitch is more of a “gentle persuasion”, officials admit. “Moreover, we are not being allowed to spend on customer-friendly schemes,” one of them said.

Woman dead: An unidentified woman was run over by a tram on Bidhan Sarani on Saturday morning.

   

 
 
GADGET CRASH COURSE FOR DOCS 
 
 
BY UTPAL BANERJEE
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
The fault lay with the doctors, not the machines. Good these doctors might be but when it came to handling these gadgets, they drew a blank.

Having diagnosed the problem thus, the health department now wants to train doctors to handle gadgets that have so far gathered dust.

But the department wants to ensure that these doctors are not above 45 and not below the rank of assistant professor.

These doctors will be sent to the country’s best hospitals where they will undergo training on how those care centres, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, function.

The health department has directed the principals of various medical colleges to send a list of doctors with brilliant academic records. The health authorities will choose from the shortlist.

“The knowledge tour has become imperative in the light of changed outlook and attitudes. In the past, machines were bought at random without any assessment of the expertise available to handle them. In fact, crores of rupees had thus been wasted as sophisticated gadgets remained mostly idle or even met with a natural death because there was no one to use them,” director of medical education C.R. Maity said.

However, this time, the government is determined not to make the same mistake. “We will not only buy modern gadgets but also ensure that the doctors are able to use them,” he said.

The training will mainly cover disciplines like cardiology, nephrology, ENT, ophthalmology, paediatrics, medicine, orthopaedics and laparoscopic surgery.

   

 
 
LEATHER CENTRE ON FAST TRACK 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
The state government has chalked out plans to expedite completion of the Calcutta Leather Complex following the Supreme Court’s refusal to extend the February 28 deadline for tanneries to shift from Topsia, Tangra and Tiljala.

However, work on the common effluent treatment plant for the complex is expected to begin only after the Union ministry of environment and forests approves the project and sanctions half the project cost.

“The Union government will bear half the cost of the effluent treatment plant as promised to the Supreme Court. The other half will be borne by the state government,” a senior industry department official said.

The estimated cost of the plant, according to rates calculated several years ago, was Rs 65 crore.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea by the tanners to delay their relocation stating that nothing was in place at the leather complex in Karaidanga near Bantala. The court held that they would have to shut down their tanneries located in Topsia, Tangra and Tiljala on and from March 1.

The construction of the effluent treatment plant is of utmost importance for the project as it will not allow toxins generated by the tanneries to pollute the local environment.

The official said the land required to set up the plant has already been acquired and it had been freed of encroachments. “We have also nearly finished about 50 dwelling units for a small village which falls within the leather complex,” he said.

Industry secretary Jawhar Sircar said work on the effluent treatment plant was progressing “according to the date schedule” fixed by the department. He said the Union government will release funds under the Ganga Action Plan.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to have another hearing on the issue on February 27.

   

 
 
SURJEET’S KASHMIR SOLUTION 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Feb. 23: 
CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet today accused the BJP-led Centre of surrendering to the diktat of the US which, he said, not only wants to impose its hegemony all over the world but is also posing to be a friend of both India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

At a discussion on the “present situation in Kashmir” during the CPM’s twentieth state conference, Surjeet said sanctioning more autonomy and implementing Article 370 in the true sense could only bring a lasting solution to the troubled region.

The US, he claimed, had in mind an independent Kashmir so that it could have complete control over it. The US design, he added, would give it the strategic advantage to keep dominating over India, Pakistan and China.

   
 

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