Hired hand in family wipe-out
Few takers for autonomy pill
Ready for The Rising, digitally
The City Diary
Varsity property sell-off scheme
Pak byte in crime Net
Rs-50 cable fee hike on the cards
Stage set for Lakes eviction
Mayor under pressure to clear dues
Aftab handover

Calcutta, May 3: 
Twenty-two-year-old Sohini Pal’s private tutor Lakshmi Narayan Chakraborty, also her lover and next-door neighbour, had employed a Behala criminal to wipe out Sohini and three other members of the Pal family at Oxytown, on the southern fringes of the city, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Filing the chargesheet nearly two-and-a-half years after the brutal murders at Oxytown, the CID informed the Alipore trial court on Thursday that the hired criminal, Chandan Das, had killed Sohini, her father Bidyut, mother Manjulika and sister Triparna.

The teacher had decided to kill Sohini after discovering she was pregnant and was pressuring him to divorce his wife and marry her, said V.V. Thambi, special inspector-general, CID.

In the chargesheet filed in Alipore court, the CID has pressed charges against Chakraborty and Das under sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC, booking them for murder, destroying evidence and plotting the murders. If convicted, both will face life imprisonment.

However, the CID has not yet charged the three associates of Chandan, suspected to have assisted him in the crime. The trio, Bharat, Babu and Dilip, are absconding.

The mutilated bodies of Sohini, 22, Triparna, 16, and their parents were discovered, lying in dried pools of blood, in their house at P-73, Oxytown, three days after they met their death on June 14, 1999.

Investigators pieced together a story of lust, deceit and violence from various quarters, after unearthing evidence of the relationship between Sohini and her tutor. Chakraborty was the headmaster of a local school and Sohini took lessons from him.

Thambi said the CID has listed 13 persons as key witnesses. It has also attached documents, including forensic reports and letters written by Sohini, as evidence to support the chargesheet.

“Their statements have given us strong indications about Sohini’s involvement in the crime,’’ Thambi said.

According to the CID’s chargesheet, Sohini was pressing Chakraborty to forsake his wife and marry her. Chakraborty successfully convinced Sohini that her family would object to the marriage and that her parents and younger sister must be eliminated before the two could elope.

Keeping Sohini in the dark, Chakraborty employed Chandan and his associates to wipe out the family, including Sohini, and asked them to make the killings look like a suicide by the Pals. The mastermind had even made Sohini agree to the plan and let the killers in through the back door.


Calcutta, May 3: 
The Centre’s move towards granting autonomous status to National Library has struck a note of discord among the workforce, adding to the chaos that is already prevailing.

The opponents — members of the Citu-backed National Library Employees’ Association — say the move, besides reducing the number of the already depleted staff strength, will not achieve much. Officially, however, the union has desisted from offering any suggestion.

Those on the opposite side of the political fence, the Intuc-backed National Library Staff Association (NLSA), are happy with the proposal but are afraid to voice it, They fear an erosion in support base. Though it is now silent, the recent incident of book-burning, in which NLSA secretary Saibal Chakraborty was the key witness, is a reason behind its not wanting to get into any more controversies.

The autonomy proposal has a 30-member board playing a pivotal role in the plans. This, a section of the library staff feels, is essential to get the institution into ship-shape. “There is no option as, left to its own, the management hardly does anything to carry out the Centre’s instructions on bettering the working conditions,” said NLSA president Subrata Ray.

The failure of the administration to check the growing indiscipline — officials are often absent without reason — is the primary factor why the Centre is moving towards autonomy, most in the NLSA say, adding that perhaps, this was the only solution to the problems plaguing the institute.

They cite the example of the library’s computerisation, at a cost of Rs 1 crore, a decade ago, as a case in point. “Why should a reader have to wait for 30 minutes to get a book of his/her choice? Why have the benefits of computerisation not been passed down to the readers?” one of the employees asked. Such questions are being raised frequently now, especially after the visit of joint secretary, department of tourism and culture, Vivek Ray, who discussed the issue on April 17 with the administration, including library director Shyamalkanti Chakraborty, and the two unions.

“More than 50,000 books are now dumped in a corner of the annexe building,” an official said. “If we have computers and adequate staff for preparing catalogues, why have the books been left to rot?” he asked.

Ray also alleged that senior library officials, including Shyamalkanti Chakraborty, were not staying on the campus, violating the rules.


Calcutta, May 3: 
A touch of Bollywood’s maya is set to grace Hollywood, before making its way back to Bengal. Maya Entertainment Limited, the digital-effects company set up by Ketan Mehta and ‘memsaab’ Deepa Sahi, has been commissioned for the effects of Through the Moebius Strip, with a budget of over $6 million for animation alone. Ketan’s next directorial venture will bring him to Barrackpore, to capture the fateful events of 1857 for the historical drama, The Rising.

Through the Moebius Strip, a US-China co-production, is based on the life of French animator Jean Giraud, known as Moebius, the talent behind films like Alien and Fifth Element. Part of the 3-D computer effects for the film, directed by Franc Foster, an ex-Sony Pictures man, will also be created in China. “Our work was spotted by Franc when he was with Sony,” explains Ketan, in town to launch the Calcutta branch of Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), the training wing of the firm.

Mehta will start casting for The Rising in July, while shooting is to commence in November. “We have identified a location in Barrackpore for the live-action shoots,” reveals Mehta, who will recreate the feel and look of 1857 digitally.

The filmmaker behind Maya Memsaab and Bhavani Bhavai started off with “digital content creation” six years ago, when he found that basic facilities for special effects weren’t available here. To cater to the digital demand, MAAC was set up. “Two years ago, only about one per cent of all films went for digital content, while now, over 20 per cent want some kind of work done,” Mehta observes. From titling and colour correction to elaborate fight sequences, the Mumbai industry has warmed to the digital age.

So have audiences across all categories. “When we started work on Captain Vyom, India’s first sci-fi TV show, people thought we were crazy to attempt such a thing in the land of mythologies. But that had a successful 52-week run.”

Now Vyom is being re-made as a fully animated show and computer game for the international market. After The Rising, Mehta plans on making an “Oriental sci-fi film”, Manas.

While little digital work is being done for films in Bengal, Mehta feels this is set to change. Not a surprise, when “over 30 per cent” of ‘techno-artistes’ working for Maya are Bengali.    


Patient escapes from hospital

A tuberculosis patient of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital was found lying unconscious on BT Road late on Thursday. Police said 35-year-old Sona Sengupta, a resident of Belghoria, was hospitalised on Thursday morning. He walked out from the hospital at night. Preliminary investigation revealed that Sona was a drug addict. He was hospitalised again on Friday.

10 held for flesh trade

Ten persons, including four women, were arrested for running a flesh trade racket on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road early on Friday. Police said the four young women belonged to respectable families. Ten such places were raided in the past month and 28 persons, including some college girls, have been arrested.

Teachers’ threat

The members of Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association on Friday threatened to launch a movement next month if the government failed to fulfil their demands concerning release of post-retirement benefits.

New flight

Indian Airlines has introduced an additional evening flight between Calcutta and Delhi from May 8, departing at 5 pm both ways, to provide passengers a choice of two evening flights. The new flight IC 201\202 will operate daily with an Airbus A320 aircraft. With the introduction of this flight, there will be three daily Indian Airlines flights linking Calcutta and Delhi.

The schedule of IA flights between Calcutta and Delhi is as follows: IC 263 will leave Calcutta daily at 7 am and reach Delhi at 9.05 am. IC 201 will leave Calcutta at 5 pm and reach Delhi at 7.05 pm. IC 402 will leave Calcutta daily at 7 pm and reach Delhi at 9.05 pm. IC 401 will leave Delhi at 7 am and arrive at Calcutta at 8.55 am. IC 264 will leave Delhi at 5 pm and arrive at Calcutta at 6.55 pm. IC 202 will leave Delhi at 7.45 pm and reach Calcutta at 9.40 pm. The departure timings of flights IC 771 on the Calcutta-Bangalore sector has been revised from May 8, to leave Calcutta at 7.45 pm and reach Bangalore at 10.10 pm. All other flights will operate as per schedule.

Torture case

Siladitya Sanyal, counsel for Sonia Ghosh, told The Telegraph on Friday that high court judge K.J. Sengupta in his order did not direct the Women’s Grievance Cell of Lalbazar to take any step against his client or her family members. Sonia, a resident of south Calcutta, is fighting a case against her in-laws, also residents of Calcutta, alleging that she was brutally tortured at her in-laws’ house. Sonia’s husband, Abhignan Ghosh, has has refuted the allegations against him.

Books Day

The state government has decided to observe May 7 as Books Day. All state schools will distribute free books to students of Classes I to V. Panchayats have also been instructed to distribute books to their students.

Seminar on family

A seminar on ‘Representations of the Family in Indian and American Women’s Writing’ will be held on Saturday at the Women’s Studies Research Centre, Alipore campus, Calcutta University. The speakers include Shahnaz Nabi, Dipannita Dutta and Kanchi Dasgupta. The chairpersons are Uma Dasgupta, Nabanita Dev Sen, Bani Basu and Tapati Gupta.    

Calcutta, May 3: 
Calcutta University (CU) has undertaken a scheme to dispose of many properties it has no use for. These properties came through donations more than a decade ago. Around 30 of them are lying unused. The move is aimed at raising funds to complete its proposed techno-campus project at Salt Lake before the 150th centenary celebrations in 2007.

The university Syndicate on Tuesday decided to accept a proposal from the state tourism department to hand over more than 16 bighas in Sukhchor, on the banks of the Hooghly, to a Delhi-based chain of hotels. Sources said the Basu Mullick family of Calcutta had donated the land in Sukhchor to the university way back in 1936.

Litigations and other problems, such as decentralisation, are some of the factors that have prevented the authorities from using the properties over a period of time. Sources added that at the same time, the university was unable to sell off the properties because the donors had clearly stated that they should be used for the fulfilment of the university’s motto, “Advancement of Learning.”

“After examining the details of the agreements, the university has come to the conclusion that there is no problem in selling off the properties, as the funds generated will be spent for expanding the university’s academic activities. This is strictly in conformity with the original agreements,” said a senior official of the university.

“The idea is not just to raise funds for setting up the proposed techno campus. We are also thinking of approaching NRIs for donations and realising outstanding rents from tenants occupying many of our buildings,” added the official.

As a part of its drive, the university has already sold a large property on Rowland Row, off Ballygunge Circular Road, for Rs 2 crore. “Recently, we had realised outstanding rent to the tune of Rs 15 lakh from three tenants of one of our properties on Council House Street,” said the official. He added that the plot in Sukhchor should fetch a handsome amount as well.

In addition, three US-based NRIs have donated a considerable amount while the university authorities are in touch with the alumni abroad to make arrangements for more donations. “We do require a sizeable amount to set up the campus and the funds that have accumulated till now are not enough,” said the official.

Jagannath Bag, joint director, state tourism department said on Friday that he had approached the CU for handing over the Sukhchor land after receiving a proposal from the Delhi-based company. “The company showed interest in setting up a chain of hotels and resorts along the banks of the Hooghly, between Chandernagore and Calcutta,” said Bag. “It also requested us to identify plots along the river where the proposed hotels can be set up. While working on the project, we found the Sukhchor land a potential site for the purpose,” said Bag.

Apart from Sukhchor, the tourism department has identified five other plots, which can be developed as resorts or hotels.


Calcutta, May 3: 
The detective department of the city police has traced the route of a hacker to a cyber café in Islamabad, Pakistan. There have been half a dozen incidents of hacking by Internet users from cyber cafes in Pakistan in the past one month, sources said.

The incident has shocked detectives, who are now examining possibilities of hackers infiltrating into private computers of senior police officers and accessing confidential database.

The detectives have forwarded their findings to the VSNL. Sources said currently there are 50,000 Internet users in the city.

According to a probe report, a copy of which is available with Metro, an Internet user from personal computer-port number “’’ had complained that his system had been hacked.

“They had intruded into the system by incorporating the Deep Throat and Trojan Horse virus,’’ the user complained to the police. Detectives are, however, unwilling to reveal the name of the user for investigative reasons.

“Hackers are definitely stealing information from the database. The user, who complained, noticed that a number of files in his inbox was decreasing, although he had not deleted the contents,” said a senior officer of the cyber cell of the detective department.

The detectives sought the help of a private software company to track the route of the hacker. In this instance, the Internet user was using a private Internet Service Provider (ISP).

The hacker was using a private computer — port number “’’— from Cyber House, a cyber café in Islamabad. He had logged into the Internet through Paknet, an ISP in Pakistan.

With the help of the Trojan Horse, a virus used for hacking, the user ‘travelled’ to Sing Tel in Singapore. With the help of another virus, Genuity, the hacker’s route went to New York from Singapore. From New York, the hacker got a connection to VSNL in Mumbai. Through the VSNL, the hacker then travelled to Chennai to enter Calcutta.

It took 15 “stoppages’’ for the hacker to enter the Calcutta computers from Islamabad. In the process, the person went though ISPs in Singapore, Calcutta, Pakistan and USA.

According to Dinesh Garodia, a computer expert, currently working with the Calcutta Police, an Internet user will have to be on guard and keep on deleting junk mail. “We advise users to be careful while opening their mail. Suspicious addresses should not be checked at all,’’ he said.

Sources said senior officers, including police chief Sujoy Chakraborty, have been advised to clear their mail boxes at regular intervals.

“We are investigating whether there is a bigger gameplan involved in the crime,” said a senior police officer. “After the shoot-out at the American Center on January 23 and the involvement of international terrorist gangs in criminal activities here, we have become careful about tracing calls and mails, especially from countries such as Pakistan. We can never tell where the trail might lead.”


Calcutta, May 3: 
With the impasse over the Sony bouquet of channels having been resolved, cable and satellite (C&S) homes in the city are bracing for a fresh hike in monthly subscription rates.

Cable operators across both the RPG Netcom and SitiCable feeds maintain that there will be a “minimum” increase of Rs 50 per point per month, come June. “Since January, we have been hit by blow after blow. We can’t go on absorbing the rising costs of pay channels any longer. An upward revision of at least Rs 50 per subscriber is on the cards,” says Tarak Saha, secretary, Forum of Cable Operators (FCO).

The Forum, a leading association of RPG Netcom-affiliated operators, has withdrawn its threat to boycott the Sony package for the time being. “The broadcaster has given us verbal assurance that they won’t effect a fresh rate hike in the next one year and we have decided to wait and watch,” says Saha.

Cable Television Operators Association (CTOA) has accepted the Sony package without any rider. “They have also agreed to give us business and marketing support at ground level and promised to help with consumer-awareness programmes,” says a CTOA representative.

Both the unions, however, are unanimous on the impending hike in subscription rates. “With Sony going up from Rs 26.50 to Rs 40 and Ten Sports (which claims it has exclusive rights to the World Cup) set to come in, we can’t help but raise rates,” says an operator.

While it is learnt that most areas in and around the city will raise fees by Rs 50, some paras might even see a Rs 70-75 jack-up. Suburbs and districts, which still have monthly rates of Rs 125-150 per point, are expected to come closer to the Rs-200 bracket.


Calcutta, May 3: 
Fearing stiff resistance from encroachers, police and the railway authorities have made elaborate arrangements for Saturday’s drive to evict over 12,000 illegal settlers from either side of the railway tracks at Dhakuria, Lake Gardens and Gobindopur.

Saturday’s eviction will be one of the biggest in recent times to remove encroachments from railway property. According to sources, the area surrounding the Lakes is already tense, with Trinamul Congress leaders gearing up to prevent the drive.

South Calcutta Trinamul MLAs Pankaj Banerjee and Subrata Bakshi visited the area on Friday morning, asking the settlers to resist the drive. Saugata Roy, Trinamul MLA from Dhakuria, is currently in Delhi and has reportedly held several meetings with party chairperson Mamata Banerjee on ways to stall the drive. Mamata called up Trinamul chief whip Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay and told him that she would be present at Dhakuria to prevent the eviction. “She asked me to proceed to Dhakuria early in the morning and said she would also be present,” said Chattopadhyay.

Mamata has also taken up the matter with railway minister Nitish Kumar. Sources say attempts are being made to obtain a stay order from the Supreme Court in this regard.

Deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, Banibrata Basu, said the drive will start at 7 am on Saturday. Nearly 1,000 policemen from the Government Railway Police (GRP), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Calcutta Police would be deployed for the drive.

Doubts, however, persist on whether the Trinamul-run Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) will supply the bulldozers and pay-loaders required to demolish about 2,500 illegal structures, including 800 concrete ones. “I don’t know anything about the CMC supplying the bulldozers. No one has approached me from the railways,” said mayor and Trinamul MLA Subrata Mukherjee.

Sources add that the mayor is cautious about the scheduled eviction, since he had drawn flak from Mamata for despatching pay-loaders for eviction along Tolly’s Nullah last year. Railway engineers will supervise the demolition. The CESC has already disconnected power lines along the stretch where the eviction will be carried out.


Calcutta, May 3: 
After collecting Rs 100 crore from defaultee landlords, post-success of the waiver of interest scheme, pressure is mounting on mayor Subrata Mukherjee from his council members and Trinamul Congress councillors to spend a portion of the money to pay the Rs 180-crore dues of CMC contractors.

Mukherjee, who is reluctant to spend any of this money on the agitating contractors, decided to sit for a discussion with them on Saturday. “The government had approved the waiver of interest scheme on condition that the funds will be utilised for city’s development,” said Mukherjee. He felt that CPM was creating a situation whereby he would be forced to pay up from the funds collected.

Following the movement by civic contractors, maintenance work in the city has come to a standstill. Two hot-mix plants at Palmerbazar and Goragachha have virtually been closed down, as contractors refused to supply stone-chips.

From Tuesday, civil contractors have been preventing conservancy men from clearing vats and demanded their solidarity in the movement. The civic authorities lodged complaints against the contractors at Burtola and Amherst Street police stations on Tuesday.

The same thing happened at the Masjidbari Street vat on Wednesday, and chief engineer (conservancy) Arun Sarkar and assistant director Swapan Mahapatra had to go to the spot to use their powers of persuasion on the contractors.

According to the conservancy department’s estimate, about 1,800 tonnes of garbage are cleared daily by contractors and their dues have spiralled to Rs 4 crore. All the mayor-in-council members and borough chairmen, excepting member (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee, want a percentage of the collections to be utilised to reduce the debt burden. Chatterjee wants the entire amount to utilised for the improvement of water supply.

“The city is in need of early implementation of water supply augmentation schemes, which calls for an investment of Rs 140 crore. Hence, the Rs 100 crore must be invested in water supply projects”, said Sovan Chatterjee.

The schemes include setting up a 40-million-gallon capacity water treatment plant at Palta, refurbishment of the 62-inch-diameter water mains between Tallah and Palta, and the commissioning of booster pumping stations at Kalighat, Ranikuthi and Jadavpore, Chatterjee said.


Calcutta, May 3: 
Aftab Ansari, prime accused and alleged mastermind of the terrorist attack on the American Center, in which five policemen were killed, was on Friday handed over to the Delhi police after being produced in Howrah court.

A team of Delhi police had filed a petition, seeking a transit remand, so that Aftab could be taken to the Capital in connection with the abduction of a well-known businessman.

V.V. Thambi, special inspector-general, CID, said the Delhi police team will leave city on Saturday. “They have already got Ansari’s official custody. They are in the city on some other work,” he added.


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