Charges filed in deposit dupe case
Don’t mar the marble
A splash of colour, a dash of green
The City Diary
Football fiesta on screen for a fee
Man robbed at bank
Car-lift racket bust nets three, 10 vehicles
Mayor cuts costs for progress
Woman killed in BSF firing
Coal mafia link with cops exposed

 
 
CHARGES FILED IN DEPOSIT DUPE CASE 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
The detective department of Calcutta Police submitted a chargesheet against Sanjiv Kapur of Citi Securities, in Sealdah court, on Wednesday.

Kapur had been identified as the kingpin in the investment-scheme scam, busted in November 2001. His arrest had put the police on the trail of several firms offering up to 120 per cent annual returns on investments and collecting deposits running into several crores from retail investors.

Though there are no clear estimates of the total amount raised by these firms, the police have pegged it at “more than Rs 4 crore”. This is likely to go up, as “fresh complaints” are still being filed, the police said.

Deputy commissioner, detective department, Soumen Mitra, said Kapur has been charged under eight Sections and accused of forging documents, collecting money from people, cheating and providing false information.

Sleuths on the case said 62 witnesses had been examined and documents seized from Kapur’s offices scanned carefully during investigations.

“We interrogated the agents recruited by Citi Securities to collect money from customers,’’ Mitra said. Books of accounts, bank statements, receipts and several other documents were attached with the chargesheet.

The chargesheet lists the manner in which Kapur cheated investors. A supplementary chargesheet has been filed against nine associates of Kapur.

Those named in the chargesheet include Om Prakash Sharma, Sanjay Singh, Sanjay Agarwal and Rajiv Kapur of Citi Securities; Zameer Ahmed Khan and Shibaji Roy of Zed Securities; Rajendra Kumar Singhania of Invesco Securities; Thakur Rajendra Singh of Sai Securities; and Prabhu Dayal Chomal of PDC Securities.

Mitra said their bail application would come up for hearing in the next few days. “But with the chargesheet having been filed on Wednesday, we hope they won’t be granted bail,’’ he added.

The police had picked up the scent of the scam after Citi Securities failed to fulfil its payment obligation, prompting an investor to file a complaint with Hare Street thana.

Before the police could act, Parimal Chatterjee, an investor-turned-franchisee of Citi Securities who had lost his life’s savings, committed suicide.

This had sparked government intervention, with finance minister Asim Dasgupta announcing the decision to introduce “a special law” enabling the police to initiate suo motu action against firms running “illegitimate collective investment schemes”.

   

 
 
DON’T MAR THE MARBLE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
This is the beginning of the end -- unless steps to preserve it are taken at once.

The damage to Victoria Memorial, one of the city’s most imposing landmarks, is clearly visible after decades of exposure to air pollution. Environmentalists have sought prompt measures to stem the rot. But the government has not stirred.

On Wednesday, a city non-government organisation (NGO), Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity, announced that it was time to act. On June 17, the NGO will file a public interest litigation in the high court to force the government to protect the edifice against air pollution.

“We will seek court intervention for the proper preservation of one of the city’s most historical monuments,” said Subhas Dutta, general secretary of the organisation.

“The West Bengal Pollution Control Board had recommended a number of steps for proper preservation of Victoria Memorial, but none of them has been taken seriously by the government,” Dutta said.

Metro had reported last October on the beating that the monument was taking and highlighted the concern expressed by the chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board about the gradual blackening of the edifice.

Following this, Governor Viren J. Shah stepped in. The state pollution control board was activated to carry out a survey to assess the impact of vehicular pollution on Victoria Memorial, and also to analyse the quality of air in and around the monument.

The board listed a number of recommendations, including:

A marble deterioration study to be taken up by a competent organisation, like the National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute, to assess the damage. This would pave the way for remedial measures

A total ban on the use of coal and wood in the two restaurants and the staff quarters located on the Victoria Memorial campus. The sulphur dioxide emitted from the kitchens is known to be extremely harmful to marble

A total ban on burning of leaf litter in the Maidan area as the Memorial bears the brunt of the smoke

“Four months have passed since the pollution control board submitted its report, but no action has been taken to save the structure from destruction,” Dutta said. “We are going to fight this case till some concrete measures are taken to save it.”

Dutta also pointed out that despite the board’s warning that the use of coal and wood in the vicinity of the monument could cause considerable damage, the authorities were allowing employees in the residential quarters to use coal for cooking.

No step has been taken to check the burning of leaves near the Memorial, either.

The authorities, added Dutta, had failed to stop the seepage of rainwater from the roof of the central hall. A visit to the central hall on Wednesday evening revealed that the seepage was damaging a statue of Queen Victoria, one of the main attractions of the monument.

Victoria Memorial’s curator Chittaranjan Panda, however, said the Archaeological Survey of India had already started work to repair the cracks on the structure and Rs 2 crore had been spent on the restoration.

Panda ruled out any action against the employees adding to the pollution problem on campus. “We cannot drive out our poor employees for the sake of a better environment. The question of evicting these people who have staying here for 70 years, does not arise,” he said.

   

 
 
A SPLASH OF COLOUR, A DASH OF GREEN 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
Trees and shrubbery will add splashes of green and colour along most of Calcutta’s arteries, spanning nearly 32 km from the airport to Garia via the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. From next month, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) will start implementing this beautification and landscaping project, estimated to cost Rs 5 crore. The project, as and when implemented, will seek to create sloping beds of colourful flowers, shrubs, trees and plants on either side of roads, apart from growing them on the dividing medians and circles. A Singapore-based agency is currently designing the landscaping project for the CMDA.

The project is the brainchild of urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and Sudhanshu Sil, CMDA member and also a CPM legislator, who visited China a few months ago and returned with development ideas that have found wide acceptance in and outside the government.

At a recent meeting with his officers, Bhattacharya called for a “vigorous execution” of the project, which he said would supplement the government’s efforts to showcase Calcutta to attract investors to the state.

Impressed by the model of urban development in China, especially in Shenzhen, Sil wanted the model to be followed, on a modest scale to begin with.

“This project is going to get underway from next month,” Sil said, “but we at the CMDA are going back to the drawing board to conceptualise a string of smaller projects for implementation along thoroughfares in the city.”

It is learnt that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, impressed with the idea, has just given the green light to the project on the airport-Garia stretch, which is flanked by important landmarks like the Science City, Salt Lake stadium, the Park Circus Circle and upcoming hotels like the Hyatt Regency and ITC’s Sonar Bangla.

The project appears to have received a boost even before its implementation — corporate giants like the ICICI bank, Bengal Ambuja Housing, Indian Chamber of Commerce and the Peerless group are learnt to have approached the government with offers to sponsor various parts of the stretch. Selvel, the outdoor advertising agency, has already agreed to sponsor 12 to 15 km.

Once the project gets underway, CMDA and the PWD, which has been assigned to beautify the stretch between the airport and Ultadanga, will start planting trees on either side of the road. Trees of one particular colour alone will be planted on one particular intersection, followed by an array of colours for the next stretch.

“We have decided to use orange and yellow on one stretch and mauve and pink in another, between two landmarks. The vivid use of colourful deciduous trees will help the motorist identify the stretches of road,” said a senior CMDA official.

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Waterlogging rap for CMC engineer

Aftab Ansari on his way to Bankshal court on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Datta An executive engineer of CMC attached to Dhapa lock pumping station was suspended on the charge of dereliction of duty. Negligence on his part was blamed for inundation of a large stretch of east Calcutta from Phoolbagan to Topsia during the showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, along with his council member (drainage and sewerage) Rajib Deb, visited the pumping station following repeated complaints of waterlogging from the area and found that the engineer had not attended duty before 10.30 am on Wednesday. Besides, only three of the six pumps at the Dhapa station were in working condition. He had not informed the chief engineer of his department about this.

Jail custody for Ansari

Dubai don Aftab Ansari, one of the main conspirators in the American Center attack, was produced in the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate on Wednesday. The judge sentenced him to jail custody till June 18. He was given a copy of the chargesheet and taken to Presidency jail.

Extortion arrests

The Port police arrested three persons on charges of extorting money from newsprint handling pool workers in the dock area. Police said Asrar Khan, Mukhter Ahmed and Mainur Rehman used to collect Rs 490 per tonne from the newsprint clearing agents. The agents complained to DC, port, Harmanpreet Singh after which he ordered a crackdown. The three were picked up on Wednesday afternoon.

Diary against dogs

About two dozen women of Ripon Street lodged a complaint with the Park Street police against a woman, whose pet dogs “create a nuisance in the neighbourhood and snarl at passersby”. Park Street police station officer-in-charge Prabir Das registered a diary and a team was sent to sort out the problem.

Five goons held

Five miscreants were arrested in Chetla for extortion and other criminal activities. According to the Alipore police, the local traders had recently complained that the five were demanding money from them. Acting on a tip-off, a police team raided the criminals’ hideout on Tuesday night and rounded them up.

Sari scheme

The state government has announced a plan to increase the sale of saris manufactured by Tantuja and Tantushree. It has decided to appoint salespersons for a door-to-door campaign. The decision follows plummeting sales of Tantuja products in the past few years.

Killer brothers

Two brothers were arrested on charges of stabbing a neighbour to death. Police said Ainul, 25, and Zainal Mondol, 30, stabbed Mehboob Mondol, 28, over business rivalry in Habra, North 24-Parganas, on Wednesday morning.    

 
 
FOOTBALL FIESTA ON SCREEN FOR A FEE 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
Twelve o’clock is kick-off time at Kalighat Metro station. A train zooms in, but no one makes a move. Instead, a roar goes up on the platform as Zinedine Zidane jogs out of the dressing-room tunnel. World Cup fever has seeped underground.

Incoda, the company which provides programme content on the Metro TV sets, has made arrangements to beam all World Cup matches live. And passengers are having a ball. Swapan Adhikari, AC operations supervisor at Netaji Bhavan, said: “There is always a crowd on the platform if a match is on. And if it’s a big game, then people forget all about trains and stay put.”

Take Rakesh Sharma of Bansdroni or Siddhartha Roy of Dum Dum. Having given the fourth train on the trot a miss, they were cheering Les Bleus as the clock inched towards halftime. “If they equalise, I’ll stay on for the entire match,” said Roy. Employees of private firms, neither would reveal their office names for “obvious reasons”.

Mukesh Kumar, at Esplanade, had no such qualms. Perched on his suitcase, the young engineer from Patna said: “I came this morning to appear for a Public Service Commission interview at Kalighat. On the way, I noticed that they were screening the matches here. So after the interview, I took the tube to watch the match till it’s time to leave for Howrah for my 6 o’clock train.”

It’s definitely not just ‘daily’ passengers who are crowding the platforms. Subhendu Sarkar, station-master, Kalighat, recalled: “On the day of the Brazil-China match, there was a power cut in the locality. A group of boys asked me if the match was on here. All of them bought Rs 4 tickets and rushed in, not to catch a train but the match… They either take the train to the next station or request our men to let them out. That much can always be done as a goodwill gesture.”

The boys of Kidderpore Sporting Club, beside Maidan market, are getting to catch the Cup thanks to such a “goodwill gesture” on the part of the Esplanade station staff. Sitting on the platform in a huddle, they have been a regular fixture, cheering on Batistuta and the boys.

“We had bought a colour TV at the club for the World Cup, but Doordarshan let us down. Thank god for Metro. Otherwise, we would have had to peep into people’s drawing rooms,” said Khokon Jana, the day before Argentina’s Cup campaign came crashing.

Across Maidan market, there’s another Metro hosting the matches on nine-by-nine-foot screen — the Esplanade cinema cashing in on the Cup craze. It’s World Cup action, not the 23rd March 1931 Shaheed stars, that’s drawing in ticket-toting crowds to the Metro lobby.

“This is a tribute to cine-goers and football fans alike,” said Sanjeev Khandelwal of Metro. Patrons holding a ticket for the noon or matinee show are welcome to check out the sporting action before and after. The “add-on service to patrons” is likely to become a regular fixture at the hall. “We would like to keep screening shows of special interest,” added Khandelwal.

Down south, the football fever is set to hot up and hit the hall from June 25. Priya cinema, at Deshapriya Park, is in talks with the Delhi-based Interactive TV to serve out the semis and the final on big screen. “They have approached us for the matinee and evening shows on June 25, 26 and 30,” says owner Arijit Dutta.

If the Cup deal is clinched, football fans will have an air-conditioned large-screen experience, complete with digital effects and surround-sound. Passes, not tickets, are likely to be circulated for these special shows.

No such barriers at Belghoria club. This, along with Bosepukur club, Raipur club, Howrah indoor stadium and a few other venues, are to have a 12-by-nine-foot screen starting from the quarter-finals. Part of Coke’s Cup campaign in the paras of Calcutta, the special shows, starting June 21, will also involve contests and celebrity visits to add to the viewing experience and the football fiesta.

   

 
 
MAN ROBBED AT BANK 
 
 
BY AVIJIT NANDI MAJUMDAR
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
An employee of a private company was robbed of Rs 80,000 at a Park Street bank, where he had gone to deposit the cash on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Prabir Das, officer-in-charge, Park Street police station, the employee, Rajesh Mullick, working for Jain Udyog Limited on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, had gone to the IDBI branch on Park Street to encash a cheque. “Mullick was instructed to withdraw cash to the tune of Rs 1.80 lakh from IDBI and deposit it with Vijaya Bank on Park Street,’’ Das said. The company provides car loans.

Sources said the robbery took place when Mullick reached Vijaya Bank around 1.45 pm on Tuesday. “When I was about to deposit the cash, I heard someone call out my name from behind. I turned around but found nobody. Then, I returned to the cash counter to collect the deposit slip,’’ the employee said.

To Mullick’s surprise, the cashier gave him a deposit slip for Rs 100,000. When Mullick asked him about the rest of the money, the cashier denied that he had received the notes. An argument ensued but the missing cash could not be found.

A worried Mullick then went back to his office and informed his director. Together, they went to Vijaya Bank and complained to senior branch manager K.B. Sethi about the missing cash.

The manager asked the duo to wait till 5.30 pm, when the day’s collection would be tallied. But even after tallying, the missing cash was not located. A complaint was then lodged at Park Street police station.

Sethi and some officers of Vijaya Bank were summoned to the police station on Wednesday and interrogated throughout the day. Investigation revealed that miscreants keeping tabs on Mullick must have fled with the cash he left at the bank counter.

“We suspect the involvement of a gang, whose modus operandi is distracting depositors, at various banks in the city. We have some leads on the gang and hope to round them up soon,” said Das.

   

 
 
CAR-LIFT RACKET BUST NETS THREE, 10 VEHICLES 
 
 
BY A CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
The Howrah administration on Wednesday busted a car-lifting racket thriving in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Superintendent of police Rajesh Kumar said on Wednesday that three people were arrested following a tip-off and 10 Tata Sumos impounded. “The group would steal cars in Calcutta, change the number-plates and registration papers and even the colours to evade identification,” he said.

According to Kumar, a probe is on to find out whether the car-lifters have links with terrorists hiding in the city. “We are interacting with the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to verify the links,” he added.

“A marathon interrogation, lasting over five hours, revealed that at least a dozen others are involved in the racket. We are on the look-out for those absconding,” said additional superintendent of police, headquarters, Reshmi Sinha.

   

 
 
MAYOR CUTS COSTS FOR PROGRESS 
 
 
BY DEEPANKAR GANGULY
 
Calcutta, June 12: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has decided to cut down expenses on 23 civic markets and uniforms of Class IV staff in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), to mobilise Rs 5.5 crore for development projects in the city.

According to Mukherjee, nearly Rs 4 crore can be saved if the CMC shirks its responsibility of sweeping, cleaning and managing the markets and another Rs 1.5 crore can be mobilised by discontinuing the system of providing uniforms to about 20,000 civic workers.

“It is annoying that while traders profit, the CMC has to spend tax-payers’ money to clean markets and provide security to their shops,” said the mayor. “What’s the use of maintaining markets when the CMC cannot control the price of goods or check the scales?” he asked.

“The age-old kutchery system of zamindari, with elaborate arrangements of a nayeb and a gomoshta prevailing in the civic markets must go,” he added

In the new system, he said, civic workers can only open and close the gates of a market, while the maintenance has to be carried out by the respective borough offices.

Citing an example on waste, Mukherjee said that whereas for a CMC ward there are only 80 sweepers, New Market has nearly 123 sweepers employed, apart from 100 sergeants and private security guards.

According to dissident mayor-in-council member Samsuzzaman Ansari, the mayor’s decision reeks of an “ulterior motive”, as he had been under pressure from Trinamul Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee to take back his circular on inheritance rights of traders.

Calling Mukherjee “vindictive”, Ansari said he should know that New Market and Gariahat market make a profit after meeting all expenses.

He added that the CMC earns Rs 2.85 crore from New Market annually and spends Rs 2.45 crore on its maintenance.

Meanwhile, trade union leaders in the CMC, such as Amalendu Bhattacharya and Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, said they would protest if the mayor abolished the system of supplying liveries to the workers and Group D employees.

“In the past 25 years, have you ever seen a civic employee turning up for work in his uniform?” the mayor asked. According to an accounts officer, most of the uniforms were sold off in the city’s markets.

Trade union leaders in the civic body are reportedly pressuring the mayor to introduce a liveries allowance, instead of supplying uniforms to the workers, but Mukherjee has turned down this proposal.

   

 
 
WOMAN KILLED IN BSF FIRING 
 
 
FROM KAUSHIK SEN
 
Balurghat, June 12: 
A housewife was killed and several injured yesterday evening when BSF jawans fired at villagers of Kismat during a raid.

The deceased has been identified as Kajnur Bibi. The injured have been taken to Malda Sadar Hospital.

According to officials, the firing took place when irate villagers attacked the jawans who went to conduct raids against cow smuggling.

However, the villagers, under Gangarampur police station near Balurghat, alleged that when they protested against the highhandedness of the jawans, the securitymen dragged the residents out of their houses and beat them mercilessly.

Kajnur Bibi’s father, Meher Ali, claimed that the BSF jawans had forcibly barged into the room and opened fire indiscriminately. “Kajnur was hit in the head and she later succumbed to her injuries,” said.

Police has filed a case against the BSF jawans involved in last night’s incident. “We have initiated a murder case against the personnel of the BSF involved in the incident. A SLR was seized from them. Investigation is on to find out the details of the incident and if anyone is found guilty, he will be taken to task,” said additional superintendent of police Saroj Kumar.

Soon after the incident, additional district magistrate of South Dinajpur Gautam Ghosh and SDO of Gangarampur Don Bosco Lepcha visited the site to assess the aftermath of the incident.

Later the officials went to the BSF camp to discuss the situation.

Uneasy calm prevailed in the village even as a large contingent of police was deployed in the area.

Residents alleged that atrocities by the BSF was becoming a routine affair. They threatened an agitation if the administration did not redress the issue.

The villagers have decided to submit a memorandum to district officials, alleging constant harassment by BSF jawans. They demanded that securitymen found responsible for the firing incident be firmly dealt with.

   

 
 
COAL MAFIA LINK WITH COPS EXPOSED 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Durgapur, June 12: 
A raid at a gangster’s house at Faridpur has exposed the nexus between police and the coal mafia.

Acting on a tipoff, a police team raided the house of Prasanta Singha Roy alias Bapi Mobile last night. Besides a pipe-gun and ammunition, the sleuths seized documents that included names and addresses of some police officials, confidential district intelligence branch reports, orders on police postings and transfers and duty schedules of the mobile security force. The letter head of Eastern Coalfields Limited, fake coal challans and delivery orders, rubber stamps and other confidential papers were also recovered.

However, the gangster fled before the police could nab him.

“Though it is a shame to our force, it has been proved that a section of the police is associated with the coal smugglers. After raiding Roy’s house, we got have sufficient evidence to prove the police-coal mafia nexus. I have submitted a first hand report to the DIG (Western range) and have asked the intelligence branch to probe the matter,’’ said district SP B.N. Ramesh.

   
 

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