Court cancels top cop’s appointment
Police bust fake DVC job racket
Inspector faces mob fury
Docs rid boy of freak organs
Lions school gets secondary wing
Jawan attacked
Naidu silence on Speaker worries PM
Advani ‘ashamed’ of Orissa attack
Singhal wins promise, ends fast
House panel to probe rampage

Calcutta, March 18: 
Calcutta High Court today passed an order setting aside the appointment of D.C. Vajpai to the post of state director-general of police and inspector-general of police.

The court sustained Vajpai’s elevation to the rank of director-general, but held his appointment as DGP and IGP invalid. It directed the state government to order a fresh appointment to this post within three months based on guidelines framed by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the court has ordered that the senior-most officer of the rank of director-general be allowed to perform the duties of the DGP and IGP.

After the court’s verdict, Vajpai will have no alternative but to step down till he is reappointed to the post in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines as the high court today turned down the state government’s request for a story on its order.

The court gave its verdict on a petition filed by director-general (homeguard) Manas Chakraborty who had claimed that the apex court’s guidelines had been flouted in the appointment of Vajpai as the state’s DGP and IGP.

According to the Supreme Court, the DGP and IGP has to be appointed from a panel of three existing police officers of the rank of director-general. At the time of Vajpai’s appointment, as DGP and IGP, he was of the rank of additional director-general, but later, he was elevated to the rank of director-general.

However, legal experts feel Vajpai could be reinstated to the post if he is newly appointed DGP and IGP as he is now of the rank of director-general, thus meeting the Supreme Court requirements. However, his earlier stint as DGP and IGP will be considered “invalid”.

Petitioner Chakraborty, who had claimed that the state government had discriminated against him by superseding him and appointing Vajpai DGP and IGP, said: “Justice has finally prevailed…. I am a very happy man today as this is my moral victory.” Hailing this as a “landmark judgment”, Chakraborty almost broke into tears after the judges read out the ruling in a packed courtroom.

However, Vajpai, who was at the centre of controversy for the past one and a half years, was not present in court today. Neither was he available for comment later in the day. But state law minister Nishit Adhikari said: “I am yet to receive the certified copy of the judgment. But if at all this news is true we will appeal to the apex court against the high court’s ruling and we will definitely win.”

Initially, Chakraborty had filed a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), with Ajit Kumar Panja moving the case on his behalf. However, the CAT’s order went against Chakraborty. After that, he filed an appeal against the judgment before the division bench of Justice Altamus Kabir and Justice Aloke Kumar Basu in the high court.

Siddhartha Shankar Ray fought the case on Chakraborty’s behalf in the high court. “The decision of the state government to appoint Vajpai was politically motivated,” Ray had told the court.

The judges today said the process the government had adopted in appointing Vajpai DGP and IGP was “bad in law and against a ruling of the Supreme Court”.


Asansol, March 18: 
Police today claimed that they had busted a fake job racket after the arrest of the alleged kingpin, Sudhamoy Chatterjee, from Kumardubi yesterday.

On the basis of Chatterjee’s statements, they arrested one Damodar Valley Corporation employee today. The hunt is now on for one Pintu Ghosh who operated the racket from Durgapur.

Police believe some 10 people were involved in the fraud, including some political leaders, DVC employees and even policemen. The group was promising jobs in DVC to the local youths in return for money.

This came to light two days ago when Sujay Halder and his sister Putul from Surya Sen Park of Asansol lodged a complaint with the police, alleging that they both had to cough up Rs 1.6 lakh for their jobs in DVC. They were also given appointment letters which turned out to be fake.

“We had given a hefty amount to Sudhamoy for our jobs. But we later realised that he had cheated us,” Sujay told investigators.

Similar is the condition of Sandip Pandey of Kajora who had paid Rs 1 lakh.

Chatterjee was produced before a court today. He has been remanded in police custody for 10 days.


Burdwan, March 18: 
A mob roughed up the inspector-in-charge of Burdwan police station and another official after they reached late at the scene of a hit-and-run accident in Pirtala near Kalna Gate. Four persons were arrested for assaulting the policemen.

Local residents were agitating after a speeding bus crushed a cyclist, Jhantu Tudu. Though the Burdwan police station was informed minutes after the accident, the policemen arrived much later.

Officials admitted that the duty officers attached to the police station misinformed the mobile patrol van on duty. They asked the policemen in the van to rush to Haldipara — 25 km from Burdwan town — instead of Pirtala.

Residents squatting on G.T. Road near Kalna Gate lost patience after the police did not turn up even after two hours. When they contacted the police station again, inspector-in-charge Samar Pandey picked up the receiver. Realising the mistake, Pandey rushed to Pirtala.

Pandey was mobbed and insulted when he reached the spot and was also manhandled.

Utpal Chatterjee, who was in the mobile van and had gone to Haldipara after being misinformed, was severely beaten up.


Malda, March 18: 
Sahin Alam did not have a clue for the past 22 years that he had a partially developed uterus and an ovary in his body. On Sunday, he became the most-talked-about person in entire Malda after doctors surgically removed both organs from his body.

Little did Alam know what was wrong with him when he complained of severe pain in his abdomen four days ago in his Kaliachak residence. Doctors, after preliminary investigation, thought it was just another case of acute appendicitis. But they later found that Alam had a uterus and an ovary.

“Initially, we thought he had overeaten, but later the pain became acute and we contacted a specialist,” a family member said.

Dr Manabesh Pramanik said he had initially mistaken it to be a case of burst appendicitis. But yesterday, he led a team of doctors and operated on Alam.

“One side of the uterus had burst and a lot of pus had accumulated in that region. Unlike a fully developed uterus in a woman’s body, the uterus found in Alam’s abdomen did not have any opening,” Dr Pramanik said.

The team surgically removed both the invalid organs after a four-hour operation. Doctors are monitoring Alam’s health at the nursing home.

The team also found that Alam’s testicles were not in the scrotum.

“I have come across cases where testicles were found inside the abdomen and a surgery was all that was needed to correct the problem,” Dr Pramanik said.

After Alam recovers completely from the surgery, doctors have decided to examine the exact location of Alam’s testicles and then conduct another surgery to correct the problem.


Bishnupur, March 18: 
The secondary section of The Lions Calcutta Greater Vidya Mandir, a co-education English-medium school, was opened yesterday at Chowhati near Bishnupur in South 24-Parganas.

The school, nearly 20 km from Calcutta, will start holding senior-section classes from the next academic session. At present, it holds classes from KG to class IV.

Swami Ashoktanandji of Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission, who was chief guest at the inauguration, said the school would help young children from rural Bengal get higher education.

“Such institutions are necessary to keep the lamp of knowledge burning among students from villages,” he said.

Inaugurating the new premises of the school, Rohit C. Mehta, former president of Lions Club International, said the institution had fulfilled “a long-cherished dream”.

School headmistress Kuldeep Sahani said the authorities were making efforts to secure affiliation with the ICSE or CBSE boards.


Behrampore, March 18: 
Hooligans last night attacked a BSF jawan and snatched his carbine at Farajipara under Jalangi police station in Murshidabad.

District superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said Lakhpat Singh was attacked while he was on duty on the border. He was admitted to the Behrampore state general hospital with serious injuries. Kumar said police recovered the carbine after a day-long raid at Farajipara village. Four persons were arrested in this connection.

Trinamul supporter killed

Police today recovered the body of a Trinamul Congress supporter, Sunil Pal (25). Though suicide has not been ruled out, district Trinamul president Susovan Banerjee alleged CPM supporters had killed Sunil and then hung him from a tree to give the impression that he had taken his own life. The body was found at Palashbani village under Ilambazar police station in Birbhum.    

New Delhi, March 18: 
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s managers are worried by Telugu Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu’s silence over the choice of the Lok Sabha Speaker and the increasingly shrill cries of secular allies demanding action against Sangh parivar outfits.

Sources said the storming of the Orissa Assembly by VHP and Bajrang Dal activists on Saturday has shocked the allies as much as the Opposition.

Samata Party spokesman Shambu Shrivastwa has demanded action against VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia for spewing communal venom while party MP Prabhunath Singh has called for a ban on the VHP and the Bajrang Dal under the anti-terror Ordinance.

“Enough is enough. This fellow (Togadia) is making provocative statements. Even Shahabuddin (Syed) is restrained these days. The communal situation in the country is fragile,” said Shrivastwa.

The RSS’ resolutions at Bangalore have exacerbated the discomfiture of the allies. The resolutions defended the “action, reaction” theory behind the Gujarat riots and said Muslims should earn the “goodwill” of Hindus for their own safety. They also staked claims to the mosques in Kashi and Mathura.

Sources said the Desam chief was “very unhappy” with the government and its “abject failure in governance”. But as there was no alternative in sight, he may have to continue support to the Centre. “As a warning shot, the most he can do now is to scale down the support from outside to issue-based support,” said a party source.

The source said Naidu was “collecting inputs” from Delhi and assessing the changing “dynamics” within the Sangh parivar vis-ŕ-vis the hardliners and the moderates.

Party sources said the Andhra Pradesh chief minister was miffed with the state of affairs and that was why he had not yet decided whether to back someone as Speaker, the only link his party had with the government.

A worried Prime Minister had rung up Naidu on March 15 asking him about his nominee for the Speaker’s post but, sources said, the Desam boss did not give any positive indication.

The Trinamul Congress, the Janata Dal (United) and the Samata have demanded a ban on the VHP and the Bajrang Dal for storming the Orissa Assembly.

“Fundamentalism in any form should not be allowed in the country and organisations like the Bajrang Dal and the VHP should be banned,” Dal (U) leader Devendra Prasad Yadav said. “We should not allow communal harmony to be disturbed within the country and what has happened in Orissa is a matter of concern,” Yadav said.

Outside the House, he expressed doubts about the nation’s ability to fight global terrorism when “communal terrorists” were attacking democratic institutions within the country?

Trinamul member Nitish Sengupta said as these two organisations have not said a word on this incident “there is need for stronger action against them”. Samata’s Prabhunath suggested invoking of the anti-terror Ordinance to ban the two organisations. The BJP, however, played down the criticism, saying the allies were free to hold their views.

BJP spokesperson V.K. Malhotra pointed out that home minister L.K. Advani has assured the Lok Sabha that action would be taken against any BJP worker found to be involved in the Assembly attack. He said political parties were trying to give the issue a “political colouring”.

On the reported RSS resolution that minorities should understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority, he said: “Majority and minority should have goodwill towards each other. I don’t know what resolution was passed at the RSS meeting.”


New Delhi, March 18: 
Even as NDA allies like the Samata Party, the Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamul Congress demanded a ban on the VHP and the Bajrang Dal for their alleged involvement in the attack on the Orissa Assembly, home minister L.K. Advani said Saturday’s incident made him feel “ashamed”.

The Rajya Sabha adopted a resolution, voicing its “deep concern and anguish” over the March 16 attack and recommending “stern and deterrent action against the guilty persons”. Opposition members, along with ruling benches, minced no words in condemning the incident. They termed the event an “attack on parliamentary democracy”.

In the Lok Sabha, Advani said the culprits, whether from the BJP or any other organisation, should be punished and promised all Central help to the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa. In his brief reply, the home minister said: “When Parliament was attacked on December 13, I felt angry. But the attack on the Orissa Assembly made me feel ashamed.”

Advani asserted that he was proud to be associated with the RSS since his childhood. But said he would be “ashamed” if any organisation connected directly or indirectly to the RSS was involved.

Soon after the Lok Sabha assembled at 11 am, Opposition members asked the Chair to take up the Orissa issue in place of Question Hour. Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed refused, triggering an uproar. The House was adjourned till noon.

However, in Zero Hour, Sayeed allowed a three-hour impromptu debate on Orissa. The NDA allies, led by Dal(U) member D.P. Yadav, launched a frontal attack on the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, saying that “fundamentalism in any form should not be allowed in the country and organisations like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal should be banned”.

Prabhunath Singh of the Samata Party and Trinamul’s Nitish Sengupta supported Yadav. The Samata MP even wanted the guilty to be booked under the anti-terrorism Ordinance.

The treasury benches registered loud protest when Congress deputy leader in the House Shivraj Patil compared the incident to the attacks on Parliament and the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly last year. An unfazed Patil said the Congress was not in a hurry to recapture power, but if the Vajpayee government failed to act in such a situation, people would force it out.

BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra vehemently argued that the Orissa incident should not be likened to the terrorist attacks on Parliament and the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. He accused the Opposition of trying to create fissures in NDA.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was present in the Rajya Sabha when it took up the issue and joined the House in condemning the attack. He called it a “blot” on democracy. “When we call Parliament a temple of democracy, Vidhan Sabha is a small temple,” Vajpayee said.

Vajpayee took strong exception to the VHP and Dal agitators reportedly shouting “Atal Bihari Vajpayee zindabad” while ransacking the Assembly.

Referring to the slogans, Vajpayee said in the Rajya Sabha he would not like “such people” to say “zindabad” to him. “Mai mar jana pasand karunga (I will prefer to die)” rather than be the champion of “such people”.


New Delhi, March 18: 
Nudged by an anxious Prime Minister and assured by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister that his main demand was being met, Ashok Singhal called off his hunger strike that had entered the second day today.

Singhal was told that the Centre and Uttar Pradesh has decided to lift restrictions on the movement of trains, buses and people in Ayodhya. Rajnath Singh gave him the assurance in writing.

Official sources in Delhi said “there are now no restrictions on movement of genuine pilgrims” in Ayodhya and orders had been issued to restore train services through the city with immediate effect.

Earlier in the day, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, expressing concern over the VHP working president’s health, said if necessary, the government would take him in protective custody to ensure his “well-being”.

“I am worried about his health, especially because summer has set in,” Vajpayee said while winding up the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha today.

He, however, could not help indulging in a broadside against Singhal who brought governance to a standstill for the past one month over forcibly handing over the “undisputed” land in Ayodhya to the VHP.

Vajpayee said Singhal probably thought his hunger strike would give another opportunity to the MPs to speak on Ayodhya.

The Prime Minister apparently referred to the strongly worded missive sent to him by 14 BJP MPs from Uttar Pradesh who protested the administrative and security curbs enforced on Ram sevaks visiting Ayodhya.

The letter was one of the pressure points which softened the Centre’s attitude towards the VHP and prompted the attorney-general to plead the case for a shila puja on the “undisputed” site before the Supreme Court.

The BJP feared that a “revolt”, tacit or overt, by Uttar Pradesh MPs could “destabilise” their own ranks.

Describing the situation in Ayodhya as “peaceful and normal”, Vajpayee informed the House that life was slowly returning to normal with schools, shops and business functioning as before.


Bhubaneswar, March 18: 
A House committee headed by Speaker Sharat Kumar Kar will probe the security lapses as well as the involvement of “other people” in Saturday’s attack on the Orissa Assembly. The committee will have to submit a report within a timeframe.

Announcing this at the Assembly this evening, chief minister Naveen Patnaik indicated strong action against people involved in the attack. “It could be senior officials, senior politicians, former ministers and former Union ministers — nobody is too high to be probed,” he announced after a marathon debate on the incident.

The reference to former Union ministers seems aimed at Dilip Ray, Patnaik’s bete noir who is fighting as an Independent in the Rajya Sabha polls. Ray was expelled from the Biju Janata Dal on Friday, a day before the Assembly raid.

Without throwing much muck on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, Patnaik sought to use the incident to turn the tables on his political opponents. “There could be a plot within a plot. Several of my party legislators as well as Opposition members have said that it could be a conspiracy by some politicians. They have alleged that money and muscle power were used for the attack. All those aspects as well as security lapses would be probed by the committee,” Patnaik said.

Several BJD leaders were disappointed by the announcement of a House committee probe, but alliance partner BJP, which was bracing for a judicial probe, was relieved. The police top brass, including the Bhubaneswar superintendent and the deputy inspector-general, were left untouched although events indicated that they were to be blamed as much as the suspended 19 policemen.

Patnaik parried reporters’ questions on a ban on the VHP and Bajrang Dal, saying the committee would examine these issues. Earlier, several legislators had demanded a resolution banning the outfits, but it could not be passed in the House.

As the House reconvened this morning after the attack, the chief minister read out a bland statement detailing the events that led to the raid as well as the action taken by his government. Admitting the failure of the police, Patnaik said steps were being taken to augment security. A three-tier security system is already in place at the Assembly.

Leader of the Opposition Ramakanta Mishra demanded Patnaik’s resignation. Janata Dal (S) leader Ashok Das and CPI leader Nityanand Pradhan called for a ban on the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.


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