Death of father in doomed family
Apathy costs patients dear
Sweet 16 turns sour in beer blitz
The City Diary
Burial for ship water supply wing
B-school on fee rollback route
Roadblock over crime rise
Encroachers eat into fish market
Film course for Saarc students
Club-class tag on teachers

Calcutta, May 16: 
On February 16, Krishna Dhan Ghosh lost his son, his wife, his daughter and his own will to live. Exactly three months later, on Thursday morning, Ghosh hanged himself from the ceiling of his Maniktala home. Wife Meera and daughter Sumita had committed suicide in identical fashion within hours of the death of his thalassaemic son Bappaditya.

“I cannot take this pain anymore… I am constantly reminded of your brother and sister and mother… They are calling me and I am going there, Baba,” Ghosh wrote to his eldest son Achintya, just before ending his life.

Ghosh leaves behind sons Achintya, Ranjan and Sabyasachi (who lives in Mumbai), and daughter Amita to grapple with the tragedy befalling a “closely-knit, fun-loving” family. His last born, daughter Madhumita, had succumbed to thalassaemia on October 11, 2001.

On February 16, Bappaditya, 22, was walking down Amherst Street when a private car knocked him down. He was taken to hospital, where he bled to death, in the absence of emergency treatment required by a thalassaemic. Hours later, Bappaditya’s mother and sister hanged themselves from the ceiling of their Maniktala home.

Krishna Dhan then shifted from 29, Ghosh Lane, Maniktala, to a rented place in Kestopur, with son Ranjan. Achintya lived close by, while Amita was in Baguiati.

“For the first two months, Baba (Ghosh) was stoic and mostly stayed at home. We would get together on the 16th of every month and offer flowers at the spot where Bappaditya was hit by the vehicle on Amherst Street and in the room where Ma and Sumita committed suicide,’’ recounted Achintya.

For the past month, Ghosh, a retired WBCS officer, took up a “consultant teacher’s assignment”in Salt Lake and began to frequent the Maniktala house. “As a matter of routine, he would leave Kestopur for Maniktala every morning, offer prayers and stay in the house for a couple of hours, before heading for Salt Lake,’’ said Ranjan.

On Thursday, Ghosh asked Achintya, Ranjan and Amita to reach their Maniktala house by afternoon. “Baba left Kestopur and reached Ghosh Lane around 9 am,’’ said Ranjan. Subhrajit Bose, a neighbour, saw Ghosh busy writing in his bedroom.

At 10.30 am, when Amita tried to call her father, the phone kept ringing. Alarmed, she called Ranjan. “I rushed to the house, pushed open the door and found Baba hanging in the same room, from the same spot as my mother and my sister,’’ Ranjan said.

Ghosh had penned letters to his sons, daughter and Utpal Bhattacharya, officer-in-charge of Amherst Street police station, before shutting the door and hanging himself from the ceiling of the room where he had found his wife and daughter hanging, three months ago.

“Achintya, you are the eldest son and I give you the responsibility to take care of the family… Bacchu (Ranjan) is headstrong and you should guide him through his life… I cannot take this pain any more…,’’ he wrote.

Ghosh urged Bacchu to “show restraint” in his life. wished him “all the best” and described the pain he had suffered for the past three months.

To his only surviving daughter, Ghosh wrote: “I love you, Ma… You are the only shining star in the Ghosh family… Take care of yourself and your children and the rest of the family.”

A long letter was addressed to OC Utpal Bhattacharya. “I thank you for your co-operation on February 16 and 17, after the death of my son Bappaditya, wife Meera and daughter Sumita… I have decided to end my life as (I am) unable to bear the pain any longer… My sons and daughters are here, please help them… I thought Bappa would not have died if my neighbours, who had accompanied him from the house on February 16, had taken proper care of him…

“I had earlier withdrawn the case against a tantrik who had given us a mangal kabach and cheated us…. My sons and well-wishers had convinced me to withdraw the case, but I request you to re-open it and give the cheat exemplary punishment.’’

After fulfilling the formalities for the post-mortem — something that Ghosh had tried in vain to prevent after Bappaditya’s death — Achintya mumbled: “The death of my mother, brother and sister was too much for him to bear. He was going mad with grief. It was impossible to see him suffer like that. Maybe…”

The letter Krishna Dhan Ghosh wrote to The Telegraph, a month after the death of his son, wife and daughter. He recounts how he “lost everything” in a matter of a few hours on February 16, 2002…

The phone rang. Sumita (my daughter) shouted out that someone was calling me to Medical College. I could not believe it. Just 20 minutes ago, Chhotobabu (my son, Bappaditya) had promised to return home with some floppies. How could he be in hospital?

I rode pillion on a bike, with one boy driving and another sitting behind me... I cajoled people. (Chhotobabu has) thalassaemia. So, no sedative, bring saline, oxygen, blood. Don’t move him much, was my plea. I don’t remember, I can’t recall, stretcher to stretcher, trolley to trolley… Saline came, oxygen came. Too late.

I was feeling the weakening pulse on his ankle, two of his friends were massaging his heart. Both the boys were perspiring. No monitor, no oxygen, no ventilator. I knew my fate. “Is he all right?” his mother whispered in my ear. I put my hand on her shoulder. She lay prostrate on the bed beside her son. Someone was splashing water on her face. People on beds, on the floor, whimpering…

Everything was over. My dearest son was no more.

We came down. People were consoling and counselling. My wife was wailing. Sumita was loitering in the campus. I asked somebody to be with her. Dr K had been contacted. Somebody came with an ambulance, but it was too late. Sumita and my wife wanted to go home… My wife told me to take Chhotobabu home even after autopsy. I did not know that she would meet her dearest son in heaven so soon.

We tried to avoid the post-mortem. But it was to be done. That was the law, that was the custom. But no law, no rule to provide essential equipment at the emergency (ward).

Bappaditya would rest in the morgue. We headed home. The front gate would not open. No one answered the bell or the phone. Someone forced the door open. The lights were on. My wife was hanging in the passage. I felt her pulse. No pulse. To her left, Sumita was hanging from the fan rod. I felt her pulse. No pulse.

I did not cry, shout or wail. I just muttered, “Could you not wait for me?” People gathered. They tried to pull me out of the house. I resisted. I knew it was inevitable. Like me, they could not bear the loss of their beloved Chhotobabu. And that was that.

The parallel phone lay close to Sumita’s feet. As I rang the local police station, her feet touched my shoulder. I could hear her whisper ‘Baba’. I was in a trance… The police were prompt. Two bedsheets were provided by my son. His mother and sister were carried away to the police jeep.

My wife lay on a stretcher (in the hospital). Sumita was in a cubicle. Doctors came, felt their pulse and nodded. The doctor-in-charge, the police officer were polite to me. Who else was there I can’t recall. I went to my wife. “Goodbye memsahib.” Patted her cheek. Kissed her. Went to Sumita. “Goodbye Billi.”

That was that. Goodbye.

Krishna Dhan Ghosh
29, Ghosh Lane,
Calcutta-700 006
Dt: 19-3-2002.

Calcutta, May 16: 
With over 60,000 persons suffering from thalassaemia in the state, and the administration remaining apathetic, several self-help organisations have come up over the years. The city itself has about 3,000 such patients, mostly young children.

A core committee, formed last year with representatives of the health department, haematologists and guardians, is defunct. Only two meetings were held but nothing constructive emerged. Director of medical education C.R. Maity says efforts are on to revive it. “But several measures are being taken by the government, including setting up of haematology centres at medical college hospitals.”

The genetic blood disorder leads to a fall in haemoglobin count, tiredness, enlargement of the spleen and abnormalities of the bone marrow. To avoid severe anaemia, patients have to be transfused with blood, sometimes twice a month. This leads to iron deposits in vital organs, which have to be purged with costly chelating agents, said Sudipa Basu of the Thalassaemia Foundation.

Treatment of a thalassaemia major patient is expensive. “Parents may have to spend up to Rs 4,000 a month,” said Ajit Misra, secretary of the Thalassaemia Guardians’ Association. “Many families cannot afford this.”

The association has recently opened its own transfusion centre on Nimtala Ghat Street, where doctors provide guidance to nearly 400 parents. “We are trying our best to subsidise the costs of blood testing, transfusion and medication,” Misra said.

The Thalassaemia Society of India and the Thalassaemia and AIDS Prevention Society have demanded that patients get blood free from blood banks and adequate centres at government hospitals, where the tests can be carried out. At present, only three centres (NRS Medical College Hospital, the Thalassaemia Foundation hospital at Chetla and the Lions Diagnostic Centre at Bondel Gate) conduct the test.


Calcutta, May 16: 
The cops took the fizz out of a liquor company’s beer campaign by cracking down on “offensive” copy in billboards all over the city. Prasenjit, current Tollywood top gun, is endorsing the drink, the sales pitch of which prompted police action on Thursday.

“Only 16! Cold drink kano?”, “Sholotei moja shuru” or “Life begins at 16” — Kalyani Breweries, an affiliate of the UB Group, screamed in the blitz to sell its beer — the cheapest so far in the city, at Rs 16 a bottle. The ad will be removed from next week.

These advertisements, which offended many in Calcutta, forced the city police to invoke for the first time two Acts dealing with visual obscenity.

Armed with these Acts —Young Persons Harmful Publication Act, 1956, and Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 — the cops summoned officers of the liquor company to Lalbazar. After making an apology, the liquor officers gave the assurance that they would remove the offending billboards.

Police threatened to use a third Act — Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 — in future if women were represented “obscenely” on hoardings. All the three Acts entail imprisonment up to two years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department, said: “We were flooded with complaints from individuals and organisations. They wanted the beer ad changed.”

Saisab, a children’s organisation, lodged a complaint with the detective department. Biswajit Jana, Saisab secretary, said: “The ads were encouraging minors to get drunk. So, we pleaded with the police to remove it.” Mitra said he had warned the company concerned to change the ad line, or be brought to book under these two Acts.

Speaking from Siliguri, Prasenjit said he was not supposed to know the ad line used. “I only posed for the photos. I think the beer company only tried to mention the price of the drink by stressing ‘16’.”



HC orders change in varsity ruling

Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed Calcutta University to amend or cancel a resolution passed by its Syndicate 19 years ago. In 1983, the Syndicate had resolved that 10 temporary employees of the varsity’s “health scheme” chapter be given permanent appointment. However, the higher education department refused to approve the resolution. When the temporary employees filed a case in Calcutta High Court, the government agreed to give them permanent status “on humanitarian grounds”, while passing on the financial burden to the university. As the university expressed its inability to pay the salaries, the employees filed a fresh case before Justice Barin Ghosh of Calcutta High Court. Justice Ghosh in his verdict observed that the resolution of the Syndicate was “politically motivated” and directed the university to amend the original resolution.

CMC sacks two for fraud

Two civic employees were dismissed from service on charges of fraud. A probe by the vigilance wing revealed that certificates submitted by Sekhar Sen, a civic sergeant, were forged. Md. Yunus, a sarkar in the licence department, was found guilty of collecting money from unemployed youths with false promises of jobs in the CMC.

Cheat held

The Howrah police arrested a businessman on Wednesday for allegedly cheating a nationalised bank of Rs 5 crore. Police are on the lookout for two other persons involved in the case. Deputy superintendent of police (north) Tanmoy Roychowdhury said the businessman took a loan of Rs 3 crore and promised to pay the capital with 17 per cent interest. He and his two associates have been absconding since then.

Cop dies

A police inspector, Goutam Banerjee, who was injured in an accident near Red Road on Tuesday, died at a private hospital on Thursday. According to the police, Banerjee was from the wireless department.

Employee arrested

An employee of a stock-broking firm was arrested for cheating his company of nearly Rs 17 lakh. The police have recovered Rs 8.27 lakh. On Wednesday, the employee, Jyotish Singh, was sent to a bank to deposit Rs 10 lakh and Rs 6.94 lakh, in two separate bags. He told the police that a man attacked him with a knife and fled with the bag containing Rs 10 lakh when he reached N.S. Road, in the Hare Street police station area. He also suffered injuries on his shoulder. However, on interrogation and after examining his wounds, the police concluded that his story was concocted. Singh later confessed that he passed on the bag to his friend, who is absconding.

Pirated text books

The city police seized thousands of pirated text books of Classes VI and VII during raids in shops on College Row on Thursday. Four persons were arrested, police said.

Run over

A youth was run over by a truck while travelling on a bicycle on Barrackpore Station Road. Police said the driver managed to flee with the vehicle. Thumbs Up TO homoeopathic treatment & research centre for thalassaemia for organising camps to detect carriers of the disease    

Calcutta, May 16: 
After a great debate on the issue for weeks, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Thursday quietly buried a nearly 110-year-old department.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee ordered the closing of the grandiosely-named department of water supply to shipping as maintaining it had become uneconomical.

“Once upon a time we used to make some money by supplying water to the vessels. But with the Calcutta port virtually stagnating, and no vessels to service, we lose around Rs 1 crore every year,” Mukherjee said.

Till the early 70’s, when vessels of various lines would come calling to the Calcutta port, the department would actually find itself stretched, supplying water to them. Its activities started petering out with the fall in the fortunes of Calcutta port.

The department’s fate was sealed on Wednesday when the CMC held a meeting with the officials of Shipping Corporation of India and Metal Scrap Trading Corporation (MSTC) on supply of water. The CMC asked the company to make its own arrangements for delivery of filtered water from the CMC.

Member, mayor-in-council, Sovan Chatterjee also urged them to explore the technical feasibility of mechanising the barges.

Metal Scrap Trading Corporation was invited as the CMC decided to sell off the 80-tonne water-tanker, MV Jalabahi, as scrap. The ship has remained idle for more than seven years.

“It took seven years to repair and paint the ship. When we took delivery of the ship after paying Rs 12 lakh, there was none to man the ship as the master and the sarengs had retired by then,” said Mukherjee.

“She has now become a white elephant for us,” he added.

MV Jalabahi of the CMC is lying unused in a private dock at Bandhaghat, Salkia.

While the CMC spent Rs 12 lakh to repair the ship, it received maximum offers of Rs 10 lakh for it. The rent charge for the docking will surpass the resale value of the ship by 2005.

The ship would have a resale value of Rs 80 lakh if it was in running condition, he added.

According to Chatterjee, the CMC now has to spend Rs 1.5 crore annually to earn Rs 90 lakh a year by supplying 50,000 metric tonnes of filtered water to ships.

Presently, 80 civic employees are working in the department and the mayor said they would be redeployed in other sections.

Trinamul Congress trade union leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay and Citu leader Amalendu Bhattacharya urged the mayor not to take any decision “in haste”.


Calcutta, May 16: 
The impasse at the Indian Institute of Social Welfare andBusiness Management (IISWBM) is over, following the Board’s announcement to roll back the proposed fee hike for the management courses offered by the institute.

The students were informed about the hike — in the range of 20 to 40 per cent — by a notice issued on May 8, 2002, and were asked to pay their dues by July 1.

To protest the move, over 200 students gheraoed the institute officials on Tuesday and Wednesday. The students were demanding immediate withdrawal of the notice by the authorities.

IISWBM governing body member T.C. Dutta, along with two other members, met the students’ representatives on Thursday morning at the institute.

“Dutta gave us a patient hearing and within five minutes we were conveyed the board’s decision to roll back the proposed hike,” said a second-year MBA student.


Calcutta, May 16 : 
A day after businessman Aurobindo Chakraborty was shot dead by criminals in his medicine shop on S.K. Deb Road, in Lake Town, residents of Ultandanga brought the morning’s peak-hour traffic to a halt on Thursday by blocking the roads.

Traffic was hit in the neighbourhood, including VIP Road, the arterial road to the airport, Kankurgachhi and Ultadanga Main Road.

The snarls extended up to Baguiati. Cars and buses bound for Salt Lake were also held up for nearly two hours.

In Lake Town, shops and markets downed shutters as a mark of protest.

Around 9 am, residents of BRS Colony, near the Hudco housing complex, where Aurobindo grew up, hit the roads to protest the murder. They squatted at the VIP Road-Ultadanga crossing, throwing traffic into disarray. They demanded immediate arrest of the culprits and a job for Aurobindo’s widow.

As soon as news of the roadblock spread, police contingents arrived from Manicktala and Lalbazar. Senior officers requested the squatters to disperse and clear the thoroughfare.

Special inspector-general, Presidency range, Gautam Chakraborty, who had gone to the victim’s home in BRS Colony in the morning, was also caught in the traffic snarl.

He assured Aurobindo’s neighbours that the police would undertake a special drive from Lake Town to Salt Lake to round up the criminals.

Led by the IG, the police began to persuade the residents of Ultadanga to call off the roadblock. The residents submitted a memorandum to the IG and dispersed around 10.35 am. But it took nearly another hour for traffic to normalise.

So far, five people have been arrested in connection with Aurobindo’s murder and a string of dacoities in the S. K. Deb Road-Dakshindari area on Wednesday.

Those arrested include Pintu, Raju and Selim, local criminals of the Dakshindari area. “Pintu was trying to wrest control of the area after the arrests earlier of Sona, Pandit and Dukhua,” said the police.

At BRS Colony, neighbours flocked to Aurobindo’s home to convey their condolences to his widow Rekha and his three-year-old daughter, Pampa.

Aurobindo used to supply goods, including spices, to various shops in Salt Lake and had started a medicine shop on S.K. Deb Road on Wednesday.

The police, meanwhile, have stepped up their drive against criminals across the city and arrested two men for extortion from central Calcutta on Thursday. A loaded six-chamber revolver was recovered from one of them.

Deputy commissioner of police, central, Zulfiquar Hasan, said that Ganesh Mondal was arrested from Strand Road, and Mithu Saha, an associate of Sheikh Vinod, was rounded up in Entally.


Calcutta, May 16 : 
Malpractices by unlicensed traders at the Howrah fish market have started worrying the licensed stall-owners. Despite repeated complaints to the fisheries directorate and the police, no action has been taken yet.

A member of the Howrah Wholesale Fish Market Stall-Owners’ Cooperative Society said, on condition of anonymity, that an official of the fisheries department, as well as local musclemen enjoying political clout, are backing the encroachers.

According to a fish merchant, there are at least 280 unlicensed wholesalers in the fish market. “Obviously, the livelihood of 133 licensed merchants is threatened. We have requested the fisheries department many a time to take action, but it has done nothing. There is definitely something fishy going on.”

Sources said the volume of transactions in the market runs to almost Rs 2 crore a day. A major part of the profit is siphoned off by the unlicensed wholesalers, who hijack the fish-laden trucks from Andhra Pradesh, forcing the importers to hand over the consignment to them. They reportedly pay local goons Rs 4,000 per truck hijacked.

“It is a mystery how the unauthorised traders continue to flourish despite a government order which directs importers to deliver fish only to the licensed wholesalers,” sources added. The inspector of the fisheries department had visited the market several times but the unlicensed fish traders carry on business without opposition.

A senior officer of the directorate of fisheries assured the licensed traders on Thursday that he would look into the matter and take appropriate steps. Deputy superintendent of police, Howrah, Ashoke Biswas, said: “If we receive a written complaint, we will take action. I will look into the matter.”

The chairperson of the fish traders’ association, however, said a request to the district enforcement branch had not yielded any result.


Calcutta, May 16 : 
Roop Kala Kendra, the Indo-Italian institution of video production and training for social communication, will start a two-year, post-graduate diploma course in development communications, animation, direction, editing and motion picture photography for students of the Saarc region.

Announcing this at the institute’s Salt Lake office on Thursday, Anita Agnihotri, director, said the objective of the training is not to focus on classical and experimental films but on social communication cinema.

The communication course will enable students implement and evaluate social campaigns, especially made to address development issues.

The students will be helped to develop an understanding of folk art and architecture to infuse ethnic flavour into the animation cinema created by them.

Apart from 2-D animation, techniques involved in creating 3-Dimensional animation, using various high-end software like MAYA, will be taught.

Non-linear editing for animation, using the latest technology, as well as digital creation of sound and music composition will also be taught.

Presently, the institute is functioning on the premises of the West Bengal Film Development Corporation Ltd near Nicco Park, but by July-end, it will shift into a new building.

Agnihotri said the new building will house a full-fledged television production studio, as well as infrastructure for teaching. The studio is expected to be ready by November.

“However, this will not affect our training programmes, as the infrastructure already exists,” she said. She added that the institution receives a grant from the West Bengal government for the training programme.

“This year, the budgetary allocation is Rs 66 lakh. This grant is only for office administration and salary,” she said.

The annual course fee is Rs 20,000, which is only 40 per cent of the total training cost. “We have to look for other ways to break even,” she said.


Calcutta, May 16: 
The CPM has stumbled upon one more reason why teachers can afford to give up tuitions.

The party has discovered that teachers — once inseparable from broken umbrellas, crumpled clothes and torn footwear — are now able to pursue an affluent lifestyle.

Left Front chairman and CPM politburo member Biman Bose said today that he had come across instances where teachers, in a display of newfound affluence, had become members of prominent clubs and organisations with hefty membership fees.

“I know of many teachers who are affluent and have become members of several clubs and other organisations where they have to pay substantially for entry,” said Bose.

“The lifestyle of teachers has undergone a major change after the Left Front government came to power in 1977,” he added.

Bose, who enjoys a considerable say in education issues, said teachers — restive following the government ban on private tuition — should not feel humiliated to give an undertaking to the state on avoiding private coaching.

“It is like furnishing a statement to the income tax department… and giving statements to the government does not mean that the teachers are giving bonds to save their jobs. There is a big difference between a statement and a bond. Teachers should not think that they are giving bonds to the government while submitting statements saying that they are not coaching privately,” Bose clarified.

He added that the government could initiate action against teachers who refused to submit the statement on private tuition as the state was paying the salaries.

“What action does the income-tax department take against a defaulter? The officers initiate departmental proceedings against such a taxpayer. Similarly, I feel that there is nothing wrong for the government to book a teacher for refusing to submit the statement on private tuition,” Bose said at a news conference.

“It is the Left Front government which had introduced provident fund, gratuity and fixed pay-scale for teachers after it resumed power in 1977. Teachers now live well,” the chairman said.

Bose added that one-and-a-half years ago, all Left Front partners had agreed to abolish private tuition.

“However, we (the Front partners) have not taken up the issue of private tuition during our recent meetings. There might be doubts whether the government will be able to stop private tuition, but I must say that what the government has been doing recently is justified,” Bose said.

The Left Front today met at the CPM headquarters to discuss the distress sale of paddy by farmers. Most Front leaders expressed resentment over the government’s failure to procure more grain from the farmers.


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