Note knock to doctor denial
SFI sniffs poll victory at Presidency
Civic boon for eastern flank
Phone guides ring false
Comeback call for Zee
The City Diary
From scented sticks to stagecraft
Divide-and-rule at cop stations
Watch that sweet foot
AirTel dip in growth graph

Calcutta, March 18: 
A new twist was added to the Anuradha Saha death case on Monday. The prosecution filed a petition in the chief judicial magistrate’s court, Alipore, saying that senior consultant in medicine Abani Roy Chowdhury had actually examined Anuradha and written out a prescription for her.

The consultant, one of the three eminent city doctors against whom criminal charges have been filed by Moloy Ganguly and Kunal Saha, has all along denied having examined the patient, the petition says.

There was nothing in writing to prove that he had, Roy Chowdhury has said in his deposition in the case. Lack of documentary evidence to prove that Roy Chowdhury had examined the patient had led Calcutta High Court to quash proceedings against him in May 1999, an order that was reversed by the Supreme Court in October that year on a fresh petition by Saha.

Monday’s petition, however, stated that the complainants had recently traced a handwritten prescription, allegedly by Roy Chowdhury, and dated April 23, 1998. According to the petition, filed on behalf of the complainants by senior advocate Tapen Roy Chowdhury, the doctor had examined Anuradha when she had gone to Ruby General Hospital. The date was two weeks before she was admitted to AMRI hospital in Dhakuria, when her condition deteriorated.

The petition sought that this prescription be treated as evidence under Section 73 of the Indian Evidence Act, and that the words and figures in the prescription be compared with the handwriting of the doctor, who “is personally present in the court today.”

Soon after the petition was read out and presented before chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Ananda Raha, Roy Chowdhury was seen leaving the courtroom.

Contacted later, his counsel and senior advocate Bishnu Charan Ghosh said the doctor had opposed the petition as submissions by both the prosecution and the defence had been completed and that the case had entered the stage of final argument and disposal.

Also, the prescription date was outside the “charge period” of the case, which is between April 24 and May 17, 1998. There was no scope for inclusion of new evidence of this nature and at this concluding stage, too. Ghosh denied his client was in court when the petition was filed.

CJM Raha, however, did not convey his ruling on the petition, keeping it in abeyance till the final arguments resumed on Tuesday. He then asked the prosecution to present his closing arguments, as had been originally scheduled. The hearing follows a Supreme Court directive received last week that said the lower court could continue hearing the closing arguments and pass a final judgment.


Calcutta, March 18: 
For the first time in the 185-year history of Presidency College, a students’ union avowedly under the umbrella of a parent political party is within sniffing distance of capturing the prestigious college union.

Both the SFI and the Independents’ Consolidation (IC), the main apolitical students’ body that has been in power throughout the past decade, claimed to be in a position to form the panel in a class representatives’ poll, to be held on Wednesday.

However, there was no denying that this was the SFI’s best showing in the college.

Making the results sweeter for the CPM was party state secretary Anil Biswas’ daughter, Ajanta, becoming a class representative with 22, the highest number of votes a candidate got in this year’s election. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s daughter, Suchetana, and state finance minister Asim Dasgupta’s daughter, Ujani, however, did not fight the polls.

Both camps now say they are looking forward to Wednesday’s panel polls, when the college is going to get a new general secretary. Giving rise to the confusion was the extremely hard-fought polls this year — students alleged that the SFI did flex its muscles — with as many as three ties in the first phase.

College principal Amitava Chatterjee admitted that both parties had told him they were gearing to form the panel on Wednesday. IC and SFI candidates separately went to principal Chatterjee’s room on Monday afternoon and submitted memoranda claiming to be in a majority and capable of forming the board.

“Both camps have claimed they will sweep the elections to the office-bearers’ posts,” he said. “We will be in a position to announce the name of the winning group only after Wednesday’s elections,” he added.

In the first phase of polls held on Friday, the SFI won 28 of the 61 seats. Thirty went to the Independents’ Consolidation, the SUCI-controlled DSO and the Naxalite-dominated Presidency College Students’ Association. The other three were tied and went for a repoll on Monday.

The claims and counter-claims started soon after the results of Monday’s repolling were announced. The anti-SFI platform claimed the support of two of the three candidates, named them and said they would form the board on Wednesday with the support of 32 class representatives. The SFI, on the other hand, claimed the support of two independents elected on Friday and another elected on Monday and said they would be supported by 31 candidates.

The claims and counter-claims gave rise to another series of allegations by the anti-SFI platform. “They (the SFI) are now into terrorising independent representatives,” IC spokesperson and former general secretary Rajesh Pande said. A complaint had been lodged with the Jorasanko police on Monday, he claimed. “We are apprehensive about how many of us can come and vote for the panel on Wednesday,” he said.

Security will be beefed up on Tuesday and Wednesday and the entry of outsiders will be prohibited to ensure a fair polling on Wednesday.

School demand: The Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association, has demanded immediate measures for reopening two primary schools — Ashutosh Adarsha Vidyalaya, in Bowbazar, and Nagendra Vidya Mandir, on S.N Banerjee Road— closed from March 1 for lack of teachers.


Calcutta, March 18: 
A task force to speed up development on the eastern fringes of Calcutta. That’s the mayor’s prescription for a balanced growth graph in the city core area.

“The areas between Ultadanga and Dhakuria, bound by railway tracks on the west and the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass on the other, will be the primary focus zone for the special group”, Subrata Mukherjee said on Monday. “We must think of augmenting civic infrastructure in those areas, since large-scale new settlements will be coming up there, following dispersal of the leather industries to Karaidanga and commissioning of the Bondel Gate flyover.”

The target area — including parts of Ward nos. 56 to 59, 65 to 67 and 91, and housing more than a million people — requires “special attention” because it has been neglected for the past four decades and its civic infrastructural facilities are far below those in other city wards.

“Just compare the differences in the availability of amenities between Tangra and Entally, Gobra and Beniapukur or Kasba and Ballygunge and it will be clear why special attention is needed for this stretch,” said Debasish Kumar, chairman of Borough VII. “This, despite house-owners in this area paying property taxes at the same rate as those in the city proper,” he added.

The areas identified in the progress plan include the likes of Tangra, Topsia, Lokenath Garden, Metropolitan Housing, Tiljala, Christopher Road, Kamardanga, Motijheel, Pottery Road, Kusthia Road, Picnic Garden, Bondel Road, Bosepukur and Rifle Range Road.

All these localities lack underground sewer lines, a primary grid for filtered water, pavements, parks and proper roads. The mayor — who was recently petitioned by the CPM, Trinamul Congress and BJP councillors from the area to pay special attention to this shadow zone — said municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya, too, has referred to the demand as ‘justified and rational”.

With special civic attention having worked wonders for the added areas like Behala, Garden Reach and Jadavpur, a joint effort to help the long-neglected areas hit the fast track to development may finally do the trick.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Here’s good news for over 1.2-million subscribers with telephones, who invariably end up dialling ‘244-xxxx’ after consulting a two-year-old Calcutta Telephones directory, when the number has long changed to ‘284-xxxx’.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has upheld an earlier state commission order directing Calcutta Telephones to “update and circulate” telephone directories every year.

The news, however, has not generated much enthusiasm at the CalTel headquarters. Though Calcutta Telephones has managed to bring down the time-lag between publication of directories to around two years now, from four-to-six-year intervals, printing directories every year may be a job that could prove “difficult”, BSNL officials say.

What is, however, more worrying for the CalTel top brass is the cost of printing full directories every year. “Each directory, on an average, costs us more than Rs 200,” a senior BSNL official disclosed. Printing around 600,000 directories every year would cost Rs 12 crore annually.

Calcutta Telephones general manager (customer services) Atanu Chaudhuri said a decision to print directories in 2002 had already been taken. But he declined to comment on the national consumer court directive, as he was not aware of the developments.

The national consumer court decision was taken in New Delhi after Calcutta Telephones appealed against a state commission directive, in response to a suit filed by the Telephone Services Society, officials said. “We see no error in the order of the state commission, which calls for our interference,” states the order, passed by national commission president D.P. Wadhwa and members J.K. Mehra and B.K. Taimni.

What that amounts to, say officials, is an “enormous task”. Calcutta Telephones has a subscriber base of over 1.2 million now and the number is growing by the day. “Saraswaty Press, the state government-run press that printed the last batch of supplementary directories, may be able to meet our requirements, but providing it with the huge data every year may create massive problems,” admitted an official.

Even the last batch of supplementary directories released this year was not of much help to consumers, as they did not contain any reference to the lakh-odd new connections given since August 2001, Telephone Services Society secretary T.S. Srinivasan alleged. Officials admitted the shortcoming. “It doesn’t even have the changed Writers’ Buildings numbers,” an official said.


Calcutta, March 18: 
Cable homes in RPG Netcom areas look set to catch Birthday Boy Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her (HBO) on Tuesday night.

The Zee-Turner bouquet, switched off on February 22 following a price-hike dispute with cable operators, is likely to return to the RPG beam, which serves more than 70 per cent of the city.

Operators, who claim they have procured a “verbal assurance” on a one-year rate freeze, are expected to give Netcom the go-ahead to sign a fresh agreement with Zee-Turner on the new rate on Tuesday morning.

Zee-Turner CEO Sunil Khanna said: “If they sign a new pact, it’s great news for the viewers, who would welcome the channels back.”



Patient kin beat up SSKM employees

The ward master of SSKM Hospital was manhandled by the relatives of a 45-year-old worker of Garden Reach Shipbuilders Engineers, who died in the hospital on Monday. The relatives also beat up three other employees. Police said Sheikh Azad, the deceased worker, received injuries while on duty and was rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. As news of Azad’s death spread, the deceased’s neighbours from Garden Reach gathered at the hospital and stormed the ward master’s office. They alleged that Azad died due to negligence by the attending doctors. The mob ransacked the office and manhandled the ward master. His colleagues who tried to rescue him were also beaten up. Policemen from the outpost on the hospital premises reached the spot and brought the situation under control. Five persons were arrested.

Man with fake boarding pass

CISF personnel arrested a man at the airport for taking a flight to Mumbai with a false boarding card on Sunday evening. Prem Govind Ram Adnani, who had arrived from Bangkok on March 14, along with three others, tried to take the Calcutta-Mumbai IC-273 flight, scheduled to leave Dum Dum at 6.30 pm, with a boarding pass belonging to A. Biswas of Madhyamgram, in North 24-Parganas. A CISF inspector, who was frisking the passengers, became suspicious on finding the man holding a boarding pass belonging to a Bengali, speaking fluently in Hindi. Adnani’s luggage was later off-loaded from the aircraft and the plane left without him. A cheating case under IPC Section 419 has been initiated against him.

Threat calls

Sleuths on Monday evening traced the three threat calls, made to filmmaker Raja Sen and his wife on Sunday, to a Guwahati public call booth. In a complaint earlier to Kasba police station, the Sens had claimed that the callers had asked the filmmaker to block the screening of his film Desh, starring Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Sabyasachi Chakraborty.

Papia, the director’s wife, said she received the first call around 11.10 pm, on Sunday. “A Hindi-speaking man threatened me, saying if my husband did not stop the screening of Desh, he would be killed. The second call came 10 minutes later,” she said. The filmmaker received the third call around 11.40 pm. “I was told to stop the screening immediately,” he said.

Rally results

Maruti Treasure Trail, a car rally for Wagon-R and Alto owners, was flagged off by mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday. Winners were chosen on the basis of mileage and cracking of clues and crossword. S.K. Bajaj, Pallav Sarkar and Surana Maitra bagged the top three spots in the general category. J. Kajaria won the senior citizens’ section and Dr Dipali Poddar lifted the trophy in the women’s section.    

Calcutta, March 18: 
By the time he was 10, he was moving from door to door in the Narkeldanga-Kankurgachhi belt, selling incense sticks that he made himself.

Now, in his mid-40s, he is back to hawking, but with a difference. He is busy pushing theatre — which appears to be on the downswing — drawing strategies to lure the crowd and, more importantly, rake in the moolah.

This, then, is Pankaj Munshi, the man who last week completed the 300th performance of a stage production called Totaram, written by Mohit Chattopadhyay.

Munshi, now a senior Shishu Sahitya Samsad official, had also been a fitter and maker of diesel-run pumpsets. Playing the title role, he admits that hawking this obsession is as difficult as selling incense sticks.

“We must change to suit the demand of the times,” he says, explaining why his group is now heavily into call-shows, once frowned upon by the Bengali theatre society. “Call-shows help us sustain ourselves,” he adds, admitting that new-age marketing concepts are essential for combating cable television.

The man, who once funded his education by doing odd jobs, started life on stage as a part of Badal Sircar’s group, Shatabdi, in 1967. His first directorial venture was Shanibar, performed by the same group, and he joined the Theatre Lovers’ Group as its director in 1974. Samikshan came four years later.

With Totaram, which was first staged on February 14, 1986, it has been a journey up all the way, says Munshi. “The success has more to do with blending 19th Century fable with 21st Century marketing,” he adds.


Calcutta, March 18: 
To check crime in the city, the state home (police) department has decided to break up most of the bigger police stations and create more outposts, officials said on Monday.

Already, plans have been chalked out to form three new police stations in the city, which are expected to function from April, sources said.

A new police station at Maidan will come up, bifurcating the one at Hastings. Another will be set up near Girish Park and a New Market police station will be formed after dividing the Taltala unit.

Maidan police station will come up near Rabindra Sadan, while an old building on Ramdulal Sarkar Street will house the Girish Park police station.

The existing Taltala outpost, on S.N. Banerjee Road, will be converted into New Market police station. The three additions take the number of police stations to 46.

City police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty told Metro: “There was an urgent need for more stations to ensure better policing and management. In a few weeks’ time, the three new police stations should help smoother disposal of cases.”

The proposal to set up the police stations had been pending for the past year with the home (police) department.

It was finally passed after the city police pressed for their formation, citing growing administrative difficulties in the areas.

Currently, Calcutta Police is working on a plan to break up portions of the Lakes, Ultadanga, Cossipore and Chitpur police stations to form new outposts.

The state home (police) department is also considering a proposal to break up Metiabruz police station into three branches. Years ago, the city and South 24-Parganas police had mooted a plan to bifurcate Metiabruz police station to control crime in the area, but the file is reportedly gathering dust at Writers’ Buildings.

Superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas) D.K. Ganguly has pressed for the formation of a Rabindra Nagar police station in Behala. The proposal is likely to receive the nod shortly, police sources added.


Calcutta, March 18: 
City doctors and paramedics have been advised to take proper care of patients with diabetes mellitus to prevent complications like diabetic neuropathy and “diabetic feet.”

With diabetes cases on the rise, this would be a huge task, felt speakers at a symposium on diabetic neuropathy recently. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which the peripheral nervous system is affected because of high sugar levels.

“This will have to be done to prevent such patients going in for foot amputation,” said endocrinologist Vijay Viswanathan, senior vice-president of the Chennai-based Diabetes Research Centre. “A trained person will take just 30 seconds to examine the feet of a diabetic and a lot depends on it,” he said.

According to Viswanathan, after 10 years of being detected with diabetes, 40 per cent of the patients develop diabetic neuropathy, which leads to a loss of sensation in limbs. “Ten per cent of such patients have to go in for amputation,” he said, based on studies conducted in south India.

“But genetic and other pre-dispositions for such an incidence is common throughout the country,” said consultant endocrinologist P.S. Chatterjee, who is attached to the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine.

The reduction in customs duty and excise on glucometers in the recent Union budget is just a drop in the ocean, in terms of relief for the burgeoning diabetic population of the country.

“People will have to be careful so that they do not fall prey to the disorder and, even if they do, they do not suffer from the several complications that it gives rise to,” said one of the speakers at the symposium.

The words came more as a plea than advice at the meeting. The audience was told that the 30-million population, suffering from Type II diabetes mellitus today, will increase to 57 million by 2020.

“The government will be unable to treat such huge numbers, unlike in the United Kingdom, where glucometers are provided free to patients,” said Viswanathan. In such a situation, people as well as doctors cannot afford to neglect feet examination. “Diabetic feet is the most common reason for a patient with diabetes mellitus to need hospitalisation. And when this happens, most have to spend a sizeable amount of their income on treatment, unlike other diabetes patients,” he added.


Calcutta, March 18: 
The AirTel ‘Magic’ doesn’t seem to be working in Calcutta. The cellular service provider has seen a drop in subscriber count, according to February statistics released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). This is in contrast to the growth graph that the Bharti cellular service enjoys in five other circles.

“This is not a matter of concern, as it is part of an internal clean-up job,” said chief executive officer Deepak Gulati on Monday. “The March figures will see a significant increase,” he added.

Command, the cellular service from Hutchison, has registered a growth during the same period, stretching its lead over AirTel to 5,000-plus subscribers in February. Though Bharti has invested more than Rs 70 crore in upgrading its network infrastructure and improving in-building coverage, complaints regarding AirTel accessibility continue to plague the network.


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