Student clash sparks medical hostel closure
Hijacker lands after 12 years
Traffic scheme to curb expressway mishaps
Mamata to stay off Buddha flyover stage
Assault charge on jawans
Dum Dum’s Dulal confesses lynch link
Poll ploy trips on Central Act
Ulfa kidnap plot

Calcutta, April 13: 
A day after clashes between supporters of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the CPI (ML)-backed Democratic Students Association (DSA) at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, the authorities, in an unprecedented move, announced the closure of the main boys’ hostel on Saturday. The decision was taken at an emergency college council meeting held during the day.

Classes could not be held in any of the city’s medical colleges on Saturday as the SFI organised a mass boycott to protest Friday’s “attack” on its supporters.

The 300-odd boarders, mostly DSA supporters, will be asked to vacate the premises by Thursday afternoon or face police action.

“This was an unanimous decision taken by the college council. There was no other alternative as the council apprehends further trouble at the hostel if stern action is not taken. The decision has been okayed by the health minister,” principal Soumendra Nath Banerjee said.

Trouble broke out after a second-year student of the college, Pradipto Dutta, an SFI member, was allegedly dragged out of his hostel room after midnight on Thursday by DSA members and taken to the terrace. The DSA supporters were apparently annoyed with Dutta’s campaign against their union. Dutta was heckled and then locked in a hostel room till the wee hours of Friday. After his release, Dutta reported the matter to his SFI seniors, who in turn informed the local CPI(M) committee.

Dutta filed a complaint with the police while SFI members began to garner support. At least 10 from the National Medical College and Hostel, 10 from Nilratan Sirkar Hospital and Medical College and several more from other colleges joined them.

Clashes broke out soon after as rival union members ransacked rooms. Several SFI supporters from other colleges were beaten up.

Later in the afternoon, a delegation comprising the college principal, some departmental heads and officers of the Bowbazar police station visited the hostel. “Both parties showed us rooms that had been ransacked and claimed to have been attacked first,” said Banerjee.

Even while the delegation was conducting rounds of the hostel, a fight broke out nearby. “The main gate was locked and several boys were fighting. Some DSA members hurled stones at us and one hit me near the eye,” the principal added.

Later on Saturday, the emergency council meeting was called to review the situation. Monitored by senior CPI(M) zonal committee functionaries, the college principal, the superintendent, the hostel advisory committee members, eyewitnesses and the departmental heads sat till 2.30 pm, before deciding to shut down the hostel.


Calcutta, April 13: 
A Myanmarese student, who had hijacked a Bangkok-Yangon flight 12 years ago and forced it to land at Dum Dum airport, was brought to the city on Saturday. He will be produced in Barrackpore court on Sunday.

Soe Myinth had been arrested on April 10 from his New Delhi residence for not appearing before the court despite repeated summons. The CID sought a transit remand from a New Delhi court immediately after his arrest so that he could be brought to the city.

A supporter of Myanmarese pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Myinth had diverted the flight to Calcutta en route to Yangon aided by Htin Kyaw. The two surrendered to the police and confessed to planning the hijacking to draw the world’s attention to Myanmar. After he was released on bail, Myinth settled in Delhi with wife Thin Thin. He soon became the joint secretary of the Burma Media Journal and lobbied for democracy in his country.

Myinth’s lawyer, Nandita Haqsar, who is in the city to plead his case, said both Myinth and his wife were “totally unaware” that a city court had issued summons in connection with the case that “created headlines way back in 1990”.

Special inspector-general (CID) V.V. Thambi said the CID arrested Myinth as the case was still on. He will be produced before the second additional district judge in Barrackpore on Sunday.


Calcutta, April 13: 
Alarmed at the spate of mishaps on Kona Expressway, including Friday’s accident which claimed 22 lives, the district administration has prepared a traffic management scheme.

Two of the 16 injured in the truck-Matador collision on the seven-km long expressway were shifted to SSKM Hospital on Saturday after their condition took a turn for the worse. They were undergoing treatment at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.

As part of the scheme, traffic signals will be installed at seven vital intersections on Kona Expressway, connecting Bombay Road and Vidyasagar Setu, in May to minimise chances of accidents, officials said.

Of the seven points, signals will be introduced in three areas at a cost of about Rs 21 lakh. The signals will be in operation within a few days. This was decided on Saturday at a high-level meeting comprising senior district traffic and police officials.

District magistrate Vivek Kumar said the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority and other agencies would assist the district administration in installing traffic lights on Kona Expressway.

Kumar has already discussed the course of action with district police superintendent C.V. Muralidhar. A string of measures are in the offing to control traffic in the district, he said.

The district magistrate said action would be taken against those flouting traffic rules. “Reckless driving has to stop immediately,” he said.

Additional director-general of police (traffic) K.J. Singh visited the site of the accident on Friday to take stock of the situation. He will examine the spot on April 17 along with a team of traffic experts.

“Several steps will be taken soon to prevent vehicles hurtling down the expressway at breakneck speed,” he said.

The team of experts would decide on erecting dividers, installing more traffic lights and the number of mobile patrol and police outposts on Kona Expressway, Singh added.

“My department will carry out a special drive to raise awareness among drivers and pedestrians. Boards with traffic instructions will be erected near schools and railway bridges.”

Meanwhile, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Saturday handed over compensation to the local gram panchayat for distribution among the victims’ families. An amount of Rs 25,000 each will be handed over to the victims’ next of kin. The injured have also been granted Rs 12,000 each. The state government will bear their cost of treatment.

Five held for dacoity: Five dacoits were arrested on Saturday for committing two robberies last week in the Calcutta Port Trust staff quarters. Police said the miscreants, all from Kulpi and Mathurapur, were nabbed from a hideout in south Calcutta. A revolver was recovered from one of them. The city police have asked the South 24-Parganas police for information on cases pending against the five.


Calcutta, April 13: 
Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee has declined to share a platform with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for the inauguration of the Gariahat flyover in south Calcutta on Sunday as it will “send a wrong signal to the party workers reeling under the CPM’s terror”.

Mamata, who had earlier been requested by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty to attend the function as the local MP, said on Saturday that the flyover project was “faulty” and will “ruin the ambience of Gariahat”. “I don’t want to get myself associated with such projects,” she added. The flyover will be opened to vehicular movement from Monday.

Trinamul sources said Mamata decided against sharing the stage with the chief minister in the “larger interests” of the party. The Trinamul supremo has, of late, launched a political offensive against Bhattacharjee, holding him personally responsible for “the murders of party workers in the hands of CPM supporters and subsequent police inaction”.

Apart from Mamata, the list of absentees from the Trinamul camp will include local legislator and party chief whip in the Assembly Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who is now on a foreign tour.

Trinamul leaders have also taken “serious exception” to the state government’s failure to invite leader of the Opposition Pankaj Banerjee. “The CPM is trying to make political capital out of the inauguration of the flyover. This is clear from the invitation extended to the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee who happens to be the MP from Bolpur,” Banerjee said.

Apart from the chief minister and transport minister, a host of CPM leaders, including Ballygunge legislator Rabin Deb and Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners chairman and MP Swadesh Chakraborty, will attend the inauguration. A senior official of the Japanese consulate will also be present at the function. The Japan Bank of International Cooperation has provided funds for the flyover built by Senbo.

Mamata had shared the platform with then chief minister Jyoti Basu at the foundation-stone-laying ceremony for the flyover in November 1997. The state government invited her to the flyover inauguration after she complained of the Left Front’s “tendency to ignore her as the leader of the principal Opposition party”.

nHealth tirade: Mamata Banerjee on Saturday lambasted the state government for failing to improve health services. “Instead of concentrating on hospital infrastructure, the Left Front is asking doctors to follow the Clinical Establishment Act without realising how much money will have to be invested for it, Banerjee said. She was speaking at a seminar organised by Indian Medical Association. She advised doctors to meet the chief minister and the Governor to discuss their grievances. “We may take to the streets to protest this Act,” she added.


Behrampore, April 13: 
Trouble broke out at Sarkarpara in Murshidabad on Saturday after a boy was allegedly beaten up by Border Security Force (BSF) jawans.

Askan Sheikh, a Class VI student of Sarkarpara School, had reportedly failed to provide information on two fleeing Bangladeshi fishermen.

Askan was bathing in the Padma, when a BSF patrol party on a boat asked him whether he had seen the two Bangladeshis enter the village.

Despite Askan’s claim that he had not seen anybody, the BSF men allegedly beat him up.

Askan had to be admitted to a local health centre, from where he was shifted to a private nursing home in Behrampore town on Saturday. District police superintendent Rajesh Kumar has asked for a report on the incident.

Askan’s father Feroz Sheikh said he met minister of state for refugee rehabilitation Nayan Sarkar, who is currently touring Behrampore.

It was at the insistence of the minister that Feroz lodged a complaint with the Jalangi police station.

“I hope action is taken against the jawans. They cannot take law in their own hands. My son was beaten up for no reason,” he alleged.

Residents of Sarkarpara are also upset at the increasing BSF atrocities and have sought action against the jawans.

The district police superintendent said he had asked the officer-in-charge of Jalangi police station to inquire if the boy had actually been assaulted.

Before filing a case against a paramilitary personnel, it is necessary to verify the charges, he explained.

“If we find the jawans guilty, we shall definitely start a case against them,” he said.


Calcutta, April 13: 
Two days after his arrest in connection with twin murders, Dulal Banerjee, an influential CPM leader from the Dum Dum-Cossipore area, today confessed that he was present when Chandan Chakraborty and Sanjib Goswami were beaten up by a mob allegedly for stealing earrings from a housewife in the locality.

Banerjee was arrested on Thursday night from his residence on charges of masterminding the murders of two local youths — Chandan Chakraborty and Sanjib Goswami — on the night of March 4.

The widows of the victims subsequently lodged complaints with the police, saying Krishna, Pancha, Bhombal, Bapi Khara and Kele Gupi — all associates of Banerjee — had murdered their husbands. On the basis of their complaints, the Cossipore police initiated an investigation which was later handed over to the detective department of the city police as some of the FIR-named persons have links with a section of police officials at Cossipore police station.

Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department, who is probing the case, said at Lalbazar this afternoon that Banerjee had admitted during interrogation that he was aware of the lynching and “he was present … where the duo was beaten up”.

According to Mitra, Banerjee has yet to disclose the motive behind the killing. “We have come to know that stealing of earrings for which the youths were lynched was fake. No complaint was lodged with the Cossipore or any other police station in connection with that,” Mitra said. “The accused used it as a cover.”

The sleuths have recorded the statements of at least 12 local people who saw what happened. “They all came forward and were ready to help us with information on the lynching,” he said.

Explaining the reason for the delay in arresting Banerjee, Mitra said: “It took us time to collect evidence against Banerjee. Now we are armed with documents to prove his active participation in the incident.”

The investigators also found during their investigation that a complaint was lodged against Banerjee with the Dum Dum government railway police (GRP) one year ago for snatching an accused from the custody of GRP officials. “A case of rowdyism was also lodged with the Cossipore police station two years ago. We are now trying to find out whether there is any other case pending against him. We are confident of filing the chargesheet against Banerjee at the earliest,” Banerjee said.

Stung by public criticism, Alimuddin Street mandarins, who already expelled Krishna, one of Banerjee’s associates, are considering stern disciplinary action against Banerjee.

The party has set up a committee under former mayor Prasanta Chatterjee and Dilip Sen — an influential district committee leader — to probe the incident.


Calcutta, April 13: 
Changes in a Central Act have upset the state’s plans to woo rural voters ahead of the panchayat polls by providing electricity to a large number of villages.

The power department usually declares a village electrified if it has a single streetlight. Households are to apply for connections on their own. However, under the changed Act, a village has to enrol at least 60 per cent of its population as consumers before it can be branded as an electrified area. This rule also applies to electrification through non-conventional sources of energy like solar and wind power.

The changed Act will make it difficult for the state to claim it has been able to provide power to a large number of villages.

With panchayat elections not too far away, the Left Front has undertaken work on rural electrification on a priority basis. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee inaugurated a power sub-station at Sonakhali, “the gateway to the Sunderbans”, with much fanfare on April 2. This was followed by a similar function at the Sagar Islands on April 7 when he inaugurated Asia’s first — and the world’s third — wind-diesel hybrid power unit. On both the occasions, power minister Mrinal Banerjee accompanied Bhattacharjee.

Sources said most poor people in the villages without electricity find it difficult to pay for the connections on their own. The state government is, therefore, considering cross-subsidisation to ensure they get power at a much cheaper rate.

“We have approached both the state and the Centre to arrange for the subsidy component for the economically weaker section,” managing director of West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Corporation S.P. Ganchowdhury said.

Power department officials said the department has the necessary infrastructure to provide connections to the non-electrified villages by 2005 as promised by the state government. Once the state government and the Centre reach unanimity over cross-subsidy, the villages will be electrified, they said.


Siliguri, April 13: 
In a bid to re-establish its lost base and spread panic in north Bengal, the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) and its terror partner Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) had hatched a plot to abduct several Left Front leaders, including state forest minister Jogesh Burman.

Central and state intelligence agencies and the police stumbled upon the plot after last Sunday’s fierce gun-battle with a group of top Ulfa-KLO militants on the edges of the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in Jalpaiguri district bordering Bhutan.

Coming on the heels of the daring abduction of Assam Congress legislator Chandan Sarkar’s eldest son, Pradeep, from the same locality earlier on March 4, the discovery has put the security forces on high alert.

Intelligence sources said the recovery of a dairy, a sophisticated FM radio set, a cellphone and a photo album provided vital clues to the militants’ plot.

Police recovered these articles from a “hurriedly abandoned camp of the militants deep inside the dense teak and sal forests in the sanctuary”.

“Entries in the dairy and the photographs recovered revealed that the group had chalked out an elaborate plot to abduct senior Left Front leaders, including the state forest minister, who is also the local legislator. The militants had come down from their area command camp in the Kalikhola-Nichula area in neighbouring Fifshu jungles in south Bhutan,” the intelligence official said.


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