Justice delay for jailed man
Expulsion finale to imposter impasse
Temple arrest sparks clash
Fight hots up for big pizza bite
Angling bait for burial grounds
Quality lessons for those in need
Command eyes client spiral
The City Diary
Port’s new crime wave
Stage set for clean canal rerun

Calcutta, April 11: 
He spent seven years in jail for a crime he committed. Now, for a year and a half, he is rotting behind bars, for seeking justice.

Yunus Ali’s incarceration began in 1994, when, one night, he and his gang of criminals stopped a car in front of All India Radio and robbed its passengers of over Rs 3 lakh in cash and jewellery.

A case was registered at Hastings police station and, after a search of three days, Yusuf and his fellow criminals were tracked down and arrested. It took the police a few weeks more to gather evidence and stitch together a chargesheet which they presented to the city civil and sessions court.

After hearing the arguments, Justice B. Lala found all four men guilty of committing a dacoity and sentenced them to seven years of rigorous imprisoment.

Along with this, he slapped a fine of Rs 2,000 each, in lieu of which the convicted would have to serve an additional two months in jail.

While three of the others sentenced to jail paid up the amount, Ali said he did not have the money and filed a petition in the high court, appealing that the amount be waived in his case. The hearing dragged on and on, for the full seven years of Ali’s jail term.

Early in 2001, the three others who had paid the fine were released from jail, having completed their seven-year terms. Ali, however, was kept behind bars as the hearing of his waiver petition was still continuing.

As months dragged into a year, and even the additional two-month period in incarceration had been served, Ali kept appealing to the Presidency Correctional Home authorities to hasten his release.

When even this failed to have its desired effect, the superintendent of the jail advised Ali to get himself another lawyer to plead his case.

Ali wrote to a lawyer who was known to those who had served time with him, explaining the reasons why he continued to languish behind bars.

The lawyer, Naba Kumar Ghosh, advocate of the city civil and sessions court, moved the high court again on Thursday, and a hearing has been set for April 18.

Commenting on Ali’s predicament, high court criminal lawyer Subrata Mukherjee said Ali’s was a “rare” case. “This is one of the drawbacks of our system of justice,” he said.

“On completion of the jail term, the superintendent should have the authority to release the convict, instead of referring the matter back to the court for its approval,” the lawyer added.

Mukherjee said the purpose of a fast-track court, introducted in the state recently, was being defeated primarily because of this clause.

“In Ali’s case, the lower court could not release him because a separate petition was being heard in the high court and he has been unnecessarily kept behind bars,” Mukherjee said.


Calcutta, April 11: 
The imposter impasse at Presidency College ended on Thursday, with the expulsion of the student found guilty of using a fake marksheet to gain admission to the institution two years ago.

Acting on the basis of recommendations from members of its disciplinary committee, who met on Wednesday evening, the college shut its doors on the second-year student of Hindi, registered as Siddharth Shah. And the fate of Shrishyam Jaiswal, who had used Shah’s marksheet to gain admission, now lies in the hands of the police.

“Going by the rules of the college, we cannot expel Jaiswal, as our rules do not permit us to take such an action against a person whose name does not exist on our register. Our records show Siddharth Shah as our student and so we have expelled him. The police will take care of Jaiswal’s punishment,” said principal Amitava Chatterjee.

According to the decision of the disciplinary committee meeting, Jaiswal (or Shah) will never be allowed to enter the College Street campus again.

As the college is “directly controlled” by the state government, the authorities have also forwarded the decision of the disciplinary committee to the state higher education department.

The fraud had hit the headlines after a section of students belonging to the Independent Consolidation (IC) lodged a complaint that Jaiswal had been using Shah’s identity for the past two years. Jaiswal had even won a vital round in the just-concluded students’ union elections of the college.

On receiving the students’ complaint, the college requested the police to conduct an inquiry. The police probe concluded that Jaiswal had, indeed, used Shah’s marksheet to gain admission two years ago.

But Sujoy Ray, general secretary of the newly-formed students’ union, rubbished the IC complaint that Jaiswal had won the elections as an SFI-backed candidate.

Sources in the college said the police have summoned Shah to the college for interrogation.

“Our institution is not only the best under-graduate college in our state, the University Grants Commission has also declared the college as ‘number one’ among all such institutions in the entire country, in terms of academic excellence. We are determined to prevent a repeat of such an incident,” said Chatterjee.

The principal, however, dismissed allegations that loopholes in the admission procedure had allowed Jaiswal to adopt unfair means. “Our system is absolutely foolproof,” claimed Chatterjee. He, however, added that they would soon write to the state Higher Secondary Council, suggesting the system of affixing photographs to HS admit cards and marksheets.


Calcutta, April 11: 
Residents squatted on B.T. Road and went on the rampage to protest the arrest of the chairman of a local temple committee, Rajendra Sau, on Thursday. Sau was held on charges of illegal construction. Three vehicles were damaged and four policemen injured in the violence. B.T. Road was closed to traffic for about an hour. Police lathicharged to disperse the mob.

According to the residents, the violence erupted over the construction of a wall around the temple at 57/6, B.T. Road. “There had been frequent thefts at the temple. We had reported the thefts at Cossipore police station, but no action had been taken,” they added.

The temple committee then decided to erect a boundary wall as a security measure. On Thursday, while Sau was supervising the construction, the police took him in custody.

Deputy commissioner of police, north, K.L. Tamta, has ordered an inquiry into the arrest and its aftermath.


Calcutta, April 11: 
With international major Pizza Hut all set to bite into the city’s pizza pie, competition in Calcutta is sizzling up this summer. And no one’s really complaining.

Come June 1 and 22, Camac Street, the city’s “most happening” shopping mall, will open its doors to eastern India’s first Pizza Hut outlet.

Spread over 5,450 sq ft, seating 150-175 diners, and dishing out the trademark ‘Pan’ and ‘Italian’ crusts, the popular chain promises to provide a fresh push to the pizza war in town.

While Camac Street will have dine-in, carry-out and delivery, another store on Ballygunge Circular Road, close to the Domino’s Pizza base, will be for take-away and delivery. The chain, with 14,000 outlets worldwide, is looking at two more outlets in Calcutta “by end-2003”.

“We are proud to bring to Calcutta the familiar freshness and taste that has made Pizza Hut a favourite brand worldwide,” says V.K. Datta, executive director, Devyani International Private Limited, franchisee of Tricon Restaurants International, owners of the brand.

With interiors in trademark post-office red, the Pizza Hut outlets in town will offer some special toppings — “mostly in fish” — to suit the Calcutta palate. Of course, there will be the standard features like the Bottomless Pan, where one can eat an unlimited number of pizzas for a fixed amount. “We are also looking at providing incentives, like free pizzas, to students securing 90 per cent or more in their school exams on production of marksheets,” smiles Datta. While pizzas will cost between Rs 65 and 400, a wide choice of pre-mixed and ‘make-your-own’ salads range from Rs 65 to 90. The 22, Camac Street outlet, likely to serve beer, is targeting an average daily sales of Rs 1.5 lakh.

If the Pizza Hut franchisees are “not worried” about the competition, the competition too, it seems, is looking forward to the fight for the big bite. “It will actually help the pizza market grow faster,” says Shibaji Hazra, regional manager, Domino’s Pizza, which claims to have “nearly 80 per cent share of the Rs 7-crore market here”.

Domino’s, in town for two years now, doesn’t want to change basic strategy, though. “We will concentrate on our critical USP, which is on-time delivery, since we can’t match them (Pizza Hut) in dining experience,” says Hazra.

Don Giovanni’s, the local player, feels the need to constantly upgrade to “keep in tune with changing times”. Says Indranil Banerjee, general manager: “The fact that big brands are coming to Calcutta shows pizza is in. As the market grows, we can grow with it.”


Calcutta, April 11: 
For once, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) is not fishing in troubled waters. It is fishing for compliments instead. With the approval of the Mohammedan burial board, CMC will open a dozen tanks, covering more than 100 bighas, inside the burial grounds at Bagmari and Gobra to anglers soon. All 12 belong to CMC’s civic health department.

A proposal in this regard will be placed before mayor Subrata Mukherjee for his approval, once he arrives from Honolulu next week. The revenue collected from the entry fee will be used to engage a private security agency at the burial grounds and for giving them a facelift. Once executed, the project is expected to generate about Rs 50 lakh a year. The mayor will make the final decision — whether the CMC itself will issue entry passes against the payment of requisite fees, or if it will hand over the right to private agencies through auction.

The Mohammedan burial board has already endorsed the proposal. “We welcome the idea, as it will save the ponds from illegal pisciculture by groups of local toughs,” said the board’s vice-chairman, Mumtaz Alam.

A gang of toughs has stolen fish worth Rs 50 lakh from the pond in the Bagmari burial ground, at Maniktala, over the past 10 years, said Javed Khan, member mayor-in-council (health). He alleged that the former CPM-led board in the CMC may have had a nexus with the gang. The gang faced resistance from the civic authorities last week, when in a pre-emptive measure to retrieve all the fish, they installed pumps to drain out the 50-bigha pond there.

Subsequently, on Saturday, the CMC engaged fishermen to collect the silver harvest. The average weight of the carp — katla and rohu — in these tanks was between two and three kg.

Just about 30 years ago, there were more than 2,300 ponds in the city core area (wards 7 to 90), according to Khan. Most of them have vanished. Only 150 waterbodies somehow managed to survive — in spite of the machinations of land sharks. Most of these surviving ponds are too small for angling.


Calcutta, April 11: 
A school to impart high-quality education was the only thing on the list of demands for residents of Rajpur. That is what prompted the Lions Club of Calcutta (Greater), which has been working in the area for the past 30 years, to build the sprawling Lions Calcutta Greater Vidya Mandir, with the aim to provide quality education for those in need.

The school, inaugurated on March 17, has been designed for families unable to enrol their wards in English-medium institutions, either for lack of funds or inaccessibility to the few up-to-the-mark establishments in the area.

The Club has worked in Rajpur for 30 years, running a medical clinic. Around five years ago, three rooms at the Lions Multi-Project Centre started to be used for non-formal classes. “The only thing these people ever asked us for was a decent school,” says S. Daga, chairman of the school managing committee.

Classes started at the sprawling school building on April 1. The 63-cottah premises, a few kilometres from Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur, currently has 200 students, with capacity for many more. The first phase, for Nursery to Class V students, has been completed, with 20,000 sq. ft developed so far. The ground floor will accommodate an auditorium, extra-curricular activity area and canteen for staff and students.

The first-floor houses the classrooms up to Class VI, administrative rooms and computer centre, with 15 Pentium machines installed so far. Plans have been sanctioned for two more floors to accommodate all the classes, eventually scheduled to be up till Class XII, under either the CBSE or ICSE councils. One class will be added every year.

The playground is currently being prepared in the open area in front of the school, with volleyball, badminton and basketball courts alongside the building. At the back, a games area has been set aside for kids, where a slide, swing-set and see-saw have already been installed.

Set up under the Lions Calcutta Greater Education Trust, the school received a US $75,000 donation from the Lions Club International Foundation. Club members and private donors funded the rest of the Rs 1.25-crore project.

The school is being run on a “no profit, no loss” basis, so students, mainly first generation learners, are being charged Rs 200 per month up till Class II, and an additional Rs 50 for the computer classes compulsory thereafter. The neighbouring Ramakrishna Mission has been approached for academic advice, according to Nirmal Khaitan, trustee and member of the school committee.


Calcutta, April 11: 
Command, the oldest cellular operator in the city, is gearing up to accommodate new subscribers in the network and improve the quality of its services.

The Hutchison associate has installed an SR-8 version switch which can accommodate 100,000 more subscribers in its network.

“From a subscriber base of around 72,000 in March 2001, we have grown to 1,54,188 in a year’s time. We expect to hold on to our growth rate of around 7,000 to 8,000 subscribers per month. We also expect our services to be more in use in the coming days,” said Sanjoy Mukherjee, chief operating officer, Command.

The installation of the second switch is part of the cell major’s plan to augment its infrastructure in the city.

While the Command COO is confident of retaining the position of market leader, he doesn’t expect further price cuts. “Call rates in Calcutta are one of the lowest in the country. It will be difficult for any of the players to slash it any further,” he observed.



Tuesday exams off, Part-II from April 17

Mahila Congress workers burn an effigy of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Jawaharlal Nehru Road on Thursday to protest violence in the state. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury All undergraduate and post-graduate examinations of Calcutta University scheduled to be held on April 16 have been postponed in view of the proposed strike call given by Left trade unions, officials in the university’s controller of examination department said. The BA, B.Sc Part-II examinations of Calcutta University will begin on April 17. The university authorities have decided to keep its controller of examination department open this weekend for the benefit of examinees and colleges with regard to collection of admit cards. The examination department offices will function between 11 am and 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, university officials said.

Four judges for high court

Four new judges were appointed to Calcutta High Court on Thursday. The new judges are Sailendra Prasad Talukdar, Rajendra Nath Sinha, Sadhan Kumar Gupta and Prabhendu Narayan Sinha. All of them have been elevated to the post from higher judicial services. Talukdar is the state judicial secretary while the others are chief judges of different subordinate courts. The total number of judges in the high court is now 43, against a sanctioned strength of 48.

Scholarship test

The results of the scholarship examinations for Class IV students of state-aided schools will be published next week. The examinations were conducted by the Primary Development Board, an NGO, in February. More than 2.8 lakh students had appeared in the tests.

Two women die

A 60-year-old woman was run over by a lorry in Howrah on Thursday. Police said the driver fled with the vehicle immediately after the accident. Another 60-year-old woman Sarala Dalui was struck by lightning on Wednesday night at Baruipur, on the southern fringes of the city. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

2 held for murder

Two more persons were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the murder of promoter Mahesh Agarwal. Police said the two were picked up from Thakurpukur. In all, four arrests have been made in connection with the case.

Taxi strike threat

The Bengal Taxi Association has threatened to call an indefinite taxi strike from April 22 if the government does not take action against owners of private vehicles illegally plying their vehicles on hire.

Prisoners hurt

Six prisoners were injured on their way to Alipore court, along with 13 other prisoners from the Muchipara police station. Police said the prisoners clashed in the prison van. The injured were taken to hospital.

Hall closed

The police have shut down Nur Mahal cinema hall in central Calcutta for screening a pornographic film on Wednesday. The owner and the manager of the hall were arrested.

Protest rally

Writers and academicians will take out a rally on April 18 to raise funds for the Gujarat riot victims.    

Calcutta, April 11: 
From over 1.5 crore tonnes of cargo in the early 70s to a dwindling 25 lakh tonnes in 2002. From nearly 100 ships a week, carrying bulk cargo, to about 110 container-laden ships a month.

Calcutta Port has undergone a radical change. With a drastic change in crime pattern, business has been badly hit in the port.

With very little or negligible cargo reaching the port, mainly due to bad business and the receding waterline, it now serves to pump in funds for subversive activities.

The likes of Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Walia and Nazir have found a easier way to make money — raising funds for home-grown jehadi activities through planned abductions and extortion rackets.

“The crime pattern in the Port area has definitely changed for the worse. It is no longer confined to the dockyards, but has spread into the city, besides extending its network to Mumbai and Dubai,” said a senior intelligence wing official.

“There is hardly any cargo coming in, as it used to in the past. The notoriety of the Port has spread far and wide,” said deputy commissioner of police (port) Harmanpreet Singh.

On Wednesday, there were hardly any ships at the 16 berths of the Netaji Subhash and the Kidderpore dockyards. But Ajit Pal, a criminal, was busy collecting Rs 120 from each lorry that passed through Kidderpore.

“Sometimes, he makes around Rs 2.4 lakh in two days. But, unlike 10 years ago, the money nowadays serves as an investment to procure arms and strengthen criminal contacts,” said an official of the Port police.

With the recent arrests of Noor Ahmed, Subrata Hazra and Darrain, it seemed the situation would change. However, the likes of Walia and Nasir have seized the opportunity to assert their supremacy over the area.

“It may not be like what it used to be, but the mafia still operates,” opined a senior officer.


Calcutta, April 11: 
The second phase of eviction along Tolly’s Nullah will begin on Friday. Illegal settlers along the nine-km stretch, from Kudghat to Hastings, will be evicted in this phase.

On Tuesday, an emergency meeting was held at Alipore, attended by the district magistrate of South 24-Parganas, deputy commissioner of police (south), the superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, representatives from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), CMDA, CESC, the state electricity board and Calcutta Telephones.

Mala Roy, member, mayor-in-council, said: “The CMC has asked for a single pay-loader. I am going to discuss the matter in detail with mayor Subrata Mukherjee and municipal commissioner Debasis Som.”

A stretch of at least two-and-a-half kilometres falls under the purview of the district police, while the rest is under the jurisdiction of Calcutta Police.

Additional superintendent of police (Industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh said the district police would assist in the eviction from Kudghat to Tollygunge Circular Road, while Calcutta Police will take care of the additional patch.

About 1,000 illegal occupants have been served with government notices to vacate and coupons have been provided to them to meet the expenses incurred while shifting. Sources said the occupants have been kept posted with the eviction date and time over the past few months.

Superintendent of police Deb Kumar Ganguly said: “I hope, this time, we do not face trouble because the settlers have been informed in advance. In any case, demolition in the second phase will not be large-scale.”

The first phase of eviction, from Garia to Bansdroni, was completed last year. At that time, the government had to face trouble as the CMC did not send the pay-loaders on time, while Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee tried to thwart the eviction drive with a series of demonstrations. Later, around 1,200 settlers were successfully evicted.


Maintained by Web Development Company