Keep the cuffs, let goon go
Mayor U-turn in cable roadshow
Clear-out signal for pavement temples
Second summons to doctor
4 injured, 8 held in clash
Aid boost for blood centre
A drive straight into city hall of fame
The City Diary
‘Bias’ blocks research plea
After Madhyamik, madarsa

Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
One minute he was there, handcuffed and all. The next, he was gone, leaving behind the handcuffs and red-faced police personnel.

In yet another glaring example of callous policing, a 19-year-old undertrial, Ajay Shaw, managed to escape from Jorabagan police station early on Monday morning.

Around 5.10 am, a constable noticed that Shaw, who was handcuffed to the lock-up bars from outside, had disappeared. Finding the handcuffs dangling from the bars and Shaw nowhere in sight, the constable raised an alarm. “Ki bolbo, hath goliye chole gechhey (what can I say, he must have wriggled out of the handcuffs),” said the duty officer of the Jorabagan police station on Monday afternoon.

Ajay, alias Munna, was arrested in connection with a motorcycle theft (case no. 24, dated 7/02/2002) on February 16, and kept outside the lockup on Sunday night after another undertrial, Bihari Das, picked up a quarrel with him. “Shaw was instrumental in getting Bihari arrested three days ago. Bihari swore revenge after we brought him here,” said the duty officer of Jorabagan police station.

On Sunday evening, all hell broke loose after Bihari began beating up Shaw in the lockup. The quarrel followed minutes after a team of sleuths finished interrogating the duo over a huge racket involving smuggled motorcycles. During interrogation, Shaw revealed the modus operandi of the gang and the role played by Bihari. “Why did you spill the beans? You are behind my arrest too,” shouted Bihari, throwing punches at Shaw.

Officer in-charge Dulal Chakraborty asked the sentries to bring Shaw out of the lock-up. “The OC decided to keep him outside the lockup for the rest of the night to stop further trouble,” said deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Banibrata Basu.

More than 12 hours after the incident, senior police officers at the Lalbazar headquarters were in the dark about the details. “I am not sure where he was handcuffed. I heard he was shackled to a chair in another room,” said DC (headquarters) Basu.

DC (DD-I) Soumen Mitra was even more confused: “Yes, I have heard about the incident, but I don’t know how it happened... Erokom to hotei parey (such things do happen).”

The incident also brought to light how policemen flout guidelines while keeping undertrials in custody. A fuming deputy commissioner of police (north), K.L. Tamta, ordered an inquiry into the matter. “They should not have kept Shaw outside the lockup in the first place. If there was any trouble, they should have informed me and he could have been kept in the central lock up,” Tamta told Metro. “I will definitely take action after receiving the report on Tuesday morning,” he added.

Assistant commissioner of police-III Samir Ganguly has been asked to conduct the inquiry. Shaw, remanded in police custody, was to have been produced before a magistrate on Monday.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The civic authorities made a definite climb-down on Monday on the Reliance Infocom roadshow. This comes in the wake of dual pressure from the government and the mayoral council to allow the infrastructure developers a free hand.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee had earlier threatened to stop Reliance from digging up roads for its cable-laying plans for the implementation of the National Optical Fibre Infrastructure Project in the city, forcing Reliance Infocom officials to take up the matter with senior state government officials.

Mukherjee, senior Writers’ Buildings officials said on Monday, was called to the government headquarters last week by state urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya. “No one else was present at the meeting, but what transpired can easily be gauged from the climbdown by the mayor,” a senior civic official said.

Though Mukherjee “officially” denied a U-turn, the statements during the day reflected a softening of stand.

“We had three demands — that there should not be any debris left on the road surface, that the dug-up road must be restored and that no material should remain piled on the road or the pavement for days on end. We are happy that our demands have been met,” Mukherjee said.

But officials said the mayor was putting up a brave front. His mayor-in-council (roads) Anup Chatterjee reiterated his defence for the Reliance modus operandi. “They are doing a much better job of filling up holes on road surfaces,” Chatterjee said. “They are using silver sand, a better material than the CMC itself uses after repair jobs,” he said.

Government sources said the CMC top brass had not studied the recompensation package. Reliance, which will use 212 km of Calcutta’s 1,560-km road length, is furnishing a bank guarantee of Rs 1,200 for every square metre of road dug up and Rs 600 for every square of footpath.

“Besides, they are paying another 25 per cent to the CMC as supervision charges,” a senior official said. “The amount adds up to about Rs 100 crore, so the CMC has nothing to complain about,” he added.

Reliance officials say their work has been conducted smoothly and there have been no complaints from the traffic department so far. “We are a year behind schedule only in Calcutta. We have worked in several states and even other districts in West Bengal, and only the mayor’s attitude is to be blamed for this delay,” vice-president (projects) Kalyan Sarengi said.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The civic authorities have drawn up plans to remove roadside temples for free flow of pedestrian and traffic movement.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said on Monday that there are 400-odd unauthorised temples in and around the city. The largest concentration is in the Hazra, Gariahat, Bhowanipore and Kalighat areas, under Borough VIII. He said the Corporation has already deployed officials for counting roadside temples.

“To me, encroachment has a single definition. If someone builds a temple or any structure on the pavement in violation of civic rules, my job is to reclaim the pavement for pedestrian use,” he said. “I am awaiting a report from officials, engaged in identifying temples and other unauthorised constructions on pavements. We will act after getting it.”

According to Swapan Mahapatra, assistant director, conservancy department, there are at least 50 roadside temples in the central business district alone, under the Borough VI.

The first temple to be pulled down early this month was on the pavement of R.N. Mukherjee Road, in front of Birla Building.

Officials said the operation was carried out in the presence of member, mayor-in-council (conservancy), Mala Roy, chief engineer (conservancy) Arun Sarkar and others.

A big banyan tree was felled during the drive. The three metal bells from the temple are now in the custody of chief engineer Sarkar.

“We were left with no option but to demolish the temple, as it was impeding pedestrian traffic in the busy B.B.D. Bag area,” said Roy.

Chief engineer Sarkar said he had information about roadside temples from district conservancy officers in all 15 borough areas of the Corporation.

“These temples have come up overnight in violation of civic rules. From small thatched structures, they grow into a concrete temples, decorated with tiles, marble slabs and collapsible gates,” said conservancy assistant director Mahapatra.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
Alipore court chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Ananda Raha has directed consultant dermatologist Baidyanath Haldar to appear before him again in the Anuradha Saha death case for further questioning under Section 313 CrPC. The hearing has been set for Tuesday.

The CJM gave the directive on Monday on the basis of an application moved by senior advocate Tapen Roychowdhury, representing complainants Moloy Ganguly and Kunal Saha, brother-in-law and husband of Anuradha. Anuradha died on May 28, 1998, due to medical negligence and an alleged overdose of steroids administered in Calcutta.

Based on a complaint with the police by Ganguly and Saha against three leading city doctors, a criminal case was initiated in Alipore court about six months later.

However, Saha had to seek Supreme Court intervention following a “delay” in the commencement of the trial of the doctors at Alipore court. On January 4, the apex court ruled that the lower court should complete the trial within four months, that is, by April.

The present application was moved by the prosecution advocate last Thursday. He claimed “certain incriminating circumstances” related to the case were not covered in the questioning of the consultant.

The application had also sought the second appearance of senior consultant in medicine Abani Roy Chowdhury on the same grounds. After hearing the representatives of both sides, the CJM, however, did not see any need to summon Roy Chowdhury.

Both Haldar and Roy Chowdhury have already appeared before the magistrate earlier this month and answered about 50 questions each. The third consultant charged in the case, Sukumar Mukherjee, has also appeared in court for three days and answered 124 questions prepared by the magistrate on the basis of submissions by the prosecution witnesses.

Meanwhile, Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta of Calcutta High Court on Monday agreed to hear a fresh petition by Kunal Saha, in which he has alleged that he was being harassed by the West Bengal Medical Council. The date of hearing is March 5.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
Four persons were injured when two groups of local youth clashed in Chattubabu Lane, in the Entally police station area, on Monday morning. Eight persons were arrested.

Police said the clash broke out around 10.30 am when a group, led by Chunnu, tried to interrupt a function being conducted by Gudda and his group. The injured were hospitalised.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
A process is underway by leading city haematologists to set up a highly-specialised centre for the diagnosis and treatment of all types of blood disorders.

The Institute of Haemato-oncology, to be set up at a prominent location in Calcutta, will be a referral centre for leukaemia, thalassaemia, haemophilia and other haematological conditions. The Rs 5-crore project is being financed by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, which is providing the venture a Rs 3-crore loan, including an equity participation of 11 per cent.

Blood doctors, along with a few eminent personalities, have formed a trust, the Haemato-oncology Care and Research Trust, which is spearheading the initiative. Among the members are haematologists Brig. R.N. Dutta, Sharmila Chanda, Asim Basu, Debashis Majumdar, Dilip Bhattacharya, R.N. Ghosh, Barun Banerjee and Santanu Basu, as well as sheriff Sunil Gangopadhyay, filmstar Mithun Chakraborty and M. Siddiqui, director of Bose Institute.

“Rotary International will help out by providing equipment and instruments worth Rs 1 crore,” said consultant haemato-oncologist Ashis Mukherjee, a member of the trust. He is part of the team of doctors to conduct the first bone-marrow transplant in the city at Kothari Medical Centre.

WBIDC chairman Somnath Chatterjee has taken a special interest in the project. “It is for a good cause. There is no centre like this in eastern India,” he had said earlier. With 15 per cent of the country’s population suffering from some sort of blood disorder or the other, the proposed centre will be a boon for the region’s people.

“Once the institute starts functioning, people needing specialised treatment will no longer have to go to centres like the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai or the Christian Medical College in Vellore,” said Mukherjee.

Mithun Chakraborty will help raise Rs 1 crore for the project. Contributing towards this in a major way will be sports minister Subhas Chakraborty. Sources said he is planning to allocate a large portion of the funds collected from the proposed Lagaan match to be held at Salt Lake stadium on Poila Boisakh (April 15).

The location of the institute will be finalised on March 9. The now-dormant Upen Mukherjee block in the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Beleghata is a likely site. “It will be ideal for the 104-bed institute,” said Mukherjee.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The Indian Open in his own backyard, the Royal, in 1999. The Hero Honda Masters at the DLF course, followed back-to-back by the Star Alliance event in Hong Kong in 2000. Arjun Atwal’s friends back home knew he was on the brink of “something big”. But when he snatched the Singapore Masters title — leaving in his wake six-time major champion Nick Faldo on Sunday — to become the first Indian golfer to win a European Tour Event, Arjun broke into an elite club of heroes revered in sports-crazy Calcutta.

The euphoria on the city’s golfing greens, on the eve of the third leg of the Royal Challenge Grand Prix at the RCGC, was understandable. But how does the sports fraternity in general rate Arjun’s feat?

“I think he has shown tremendous self-belief in pulling off this marvellous coup. Arjun always had great application and has been knocking on the doors of the big league for some time,” says former Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar, who has been following the golfer’s career closely, right up to the Laguna National Golf and Country Club greens in Singapore. Kumar, however, would rate Leander Paes’ double at the Wimbledon as a “greater individual triumph... Wimbledon is the biggest show in tennis and he won two titles in one shot, which calls for amazing reserves of stamina and resolve.”

Former hockey Olympian Gurbux Singh agrees it’s a “proud moment, not only for Calcutta, but for the entire country” which will inspire others pursuing any sport. He is, however, quick to single out Leslie Claudius’ triple Olympic gold-winning effort as the “greatest achievement” by any sportsperson from the city. “Leslie is Leslie, then there are the rest,” says Gurbux.

Ex-football star and celebrated coach P.K. Banerjee says that team sports have taken a back seat in the country and the best Indian performances are coming in individual sports. “Arjun has done us proud and could perhaps make it because he doesn’t need to rely too much on organised support infrastructure. He can set his own targets and go for those on his own steam.” PK feels Jyotirmoyee Sikdar’s double-gold haul in the Bangkok Asian Games was achieved against “heavy odds” and ranks right up there.

Former Bengal cricket captain Raju Mukherjee also feels Arjun has done the city proud. “His is a huge feat and ranks among the sporting milestones by Calcuttans, right from Gobor Goho becoming world champion in the 20s or Xaverian Norman Pritchard’s double-silver effort at the Paris Olympics or Leslie Claudius’ legendary feat to Leander’s Gland Slam triumphs.”

The measure of success, warn veterans, lies finally in its enduring impact on the sport. So, the question to ask is will Arjun’s feat inspire a golfing gallop on the greens? His “best friend” on the Indian circuit, Indrajit Bhalotia, feels this can impact the sport in Calcutta only if more people get the opportunity to play golf.

Arjun himself has said that he wants this achievement to “instil confidence among Indian pros and inspire youngsters”. IMG and Shaw Wallace, title sponsors for the Indian Open, are confident of joining hands to lure more youngsters to the greens. IMG is coming out with a quarterly Infolog which will carry all the start-up information and advice an aspiring golfer needs, while the liquor firm is trying to work out avenues to ensure access to courses for those who are not members of golf clubs. “We are also looking at golf clinics in alliance with the clubs. We would like to do what we can to try and initiate more people into the game,” says N.P. Thirukode of Shaw Wallace.



Tanners protest relocation deadline

The Calcutta Leather Tannery Workmen’s Union, a Naxalite organisation, will organise a protest rally near Khal Bridge More on Thursday to protest the Supreme Court’s refusal to extend the February 28 deadline for tanneries to shift from Topsia, Tangra and Tiljala. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hold another hearing on the issue on Wednesday. The apex court on Thursday had rejected a plea by tannery owners to delay their relocation since “nothing was in place” at the leather complex in Karaidanga, near Bantala. The court maintained that they would have to shut down their tanneries on and from March 1. The union leaders submitted a memorandum to state industry minister Nirupam Sen on Monday, demanding that the state government refrain from taking action against the tanneries.

Cops get Nasir confession copy

The city police received a copy of the confessional statement given by Jamaluddin Nasir, a key suspect in the American Center attack, on Monday. R.N. Sinha, the chief metropolitan magistrate, allowed the investigating officer to make a copy of Nasir’s confessional statement, which was recorded over more than five-and-a-half-hours on Friday. The officer had to copy the statement by hand for reasons of secrecy. According to sources, Nasir’s statement will help the police file a chargesheet against Aftab Ansari, the alleged mastermind behind the attack.

Policeman hurt

A sergeant of Calcutta Police was injured on Sunday night at the crossing of Mayo Road and Red Road. Police said on Monday that he was hit by an Ambassador on his way home. He has been hospitalised.

Hijack hoax

Security at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport was beefed up following a hoax call that a flight would be hijacked. O.P Gupta, superintendent of airport police, said passengers were frisked and their baggage was checked before boarding the plane.

Road accident

Two persons were injured when a taxi hit them on Nalini Ranjan Avenue in Alipore on Monday. Police said the injured, a 42-year-old woman and her 18-year-old son, were admitted to Calcutta Medical Research Institute. The driver was arrested and the car impounded.

Retail tie-up

The Home Store, a chain for home products and accessories, has entered into a strategic alliance with Forum Shopping Mall. The mall on Elgin Road will be operational by the Pujas. “The tie-up will increase our presence in eastern India,” said Home Store president Arif Sheikh.    

Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
Several years ago, Justice K.M. Yusuf, chairman of the West Bengal Minorities’ Commission, wrote to the Calcutta University (CU) authorities about the “dismal” state of affairs in the Arabic and Persian department.

Today, two years after submitting his application for a Ph.D registration, his son is running from pillar to post to get himself registered.

After a series of letters to the authorities, including the vice-chancellor and the registrar, he has now written to the chancellor — Governor Viren J. Shah— alleging a distinct bias in CU’s attitude towards his application.

Justice Yusuf, however, is not willing to get embroiled in the controversy. “It’s between my son and the university but what has happened is unfortunate,” he said. Officials say that some of the rules for Ph.D registration appear to have been flouted by the committee that studied the application.

K.I. Yusuf’s proposal to the university in March 2000 was on the “contribution of Professor Ata Karim Burke to Persian studies in Bengal”. He wanted to work under the supervision of a senior teacher of Maulana Azad College.

When his application was ignored twice, Yusuf applied for the third time, whereupon he received a cryptic response, telling him that the “appropriate authority” had not approved of his plea.

Another letter, seeking the grounds for rejection, was returned with the reply: “The Ph.D Committee fears that the project might be identical with other works in the field”.

University officials, however, admitted that the committee had met in the absence of the supervisor, which is mandatory, according to rules.

“This may suggest that the Ph.D committee decided before meeting that it would reject Yusuf’s application,” an official admitted.

Mohammad Rahatullah, a committee member, agreed there was “some controversy... But I don’t exactly remember what happened and on what grounds the application was rejected.”

Besides, CU rules stipulate that the Ph.D committee re-examines the candidate’s proposal within three months after allowing him to modify the topic. Officials hint the case has more to do with the senior Yusuf’s efforts to clean up the Persian section two years ago.

The commission chairman had written to senior university officials and asked them to initiate an inquiry into the state of affairs in the section. CU registrar Tapan Mukherjee, however, said there was no question of linking a son’s doctorate application with his father’s official work.


Calcutta, Feb. 25: 
The first day of Madhyamik 2002 on Monday passed off peacefully in the city. Around 578,816 examinees appeared for the examinations, which will continue till March 7.

Elaborate arrangements have also been made by the government to ensure that the Madarsa 2002 examinations, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, are peacefully conducted.

Abdus Sattar, president, West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education, said 18,835 examinees would appear for the examinations this year at 69 centres across the state.

“No untoward incidents have been reported from any of the centres,” said Haraprasad Samaddar, president, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education. The situation in the districts was peaceful too, except for a solitary incident in Burdwan, where examinees protested power cuts at the school, sources said.

Board officials said a special vigil will be maintained at the examination venues on the days when Mathematics and English (second language) papers will be held. Mobile phones have been banned from the exam centres.


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