Former wakf board member arrested in Rs 1000-crore scam
Around the world on wings of global peace
Gang war ends in murder
Appraisal alert for officials
Daylight murder of promoter
Eviction hammer for Red office
Party punch to panchayats

 
 
FORMER WAKF BOARD MEMBER ARRESTED IN RS 1000-CRORE SCAM 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 22: 
The city police on Saturday made the first arrest in connection with the Rs 1,000-crore wakf scandal which rocked Bengal in 1996.

Hamimul Huda, a former member of the wakf board, was taken into custody from his Collin Street residence on the basis of findings of the one-man commission comprising Justice Gitesh Ranjan Bhattacharya probing the wakf irregularities.

The principal charges against Huda were selling and leasing out wakf properties at “throw-away prices” and “misappropriation of wakf funds”. A number of mutawallis, responsible for collection of revenue from the wakf properties, are also believed to be involved.

The Bhattacharya commission had submitted its report to the government on December 31, 2001. The report was then referred to the minorities development and welfare department. On Friday, deputy secretary D.N. Dey lodged a complaint with the detective department against Huda.

DC, DD, Soumen Mitra said Huda had come to the city from Siwan, Bihar, in 1956 and started working as a carpenter. He gained confidence of local representatives and became a member of the wakf board in 1981. Gradually, he amassed huge property.

In February 1996, irregularities were first detected at a wakf property on Collin Street which involved Huda and his family. A member of the wakf trust lodged a complaint with the city police which started an inquiry. The state minority commission was flooded with similar complaints from Muslim organisations. Prominent personalities, including a minister, were named.

Things came to a head when the then leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Atish Sinha demanded a judicial probe into the scandal in July 1996. In March 1997, chief minister Jyoti Basu announced a judicial commission. Representatives of several Muslim organisations and imams as well as the then minister for animal husbandry Mehboob Zaheedi and public prosecutor Kazi Saffiullah deposed before the commission.

Reacting to the arrest, Sinha, now the Congress Legislature Party chief, said: “The police must now probe further into the matter. The report should also be placed in the Assembly.”

   

 
 
AROUND THE WORLD ON WINGS OF GLOBAL PEACE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 22: 
He’s off to the “biggest aviation show in the world”. And what better way to do it than in a 260-kg micro-light for a month-long transcontinental flight from Udaipur to Wisconsin.

Bangalore boy Arvind Sharma, who manufactures micro-lights for recreational aviation, is off to prove that India is “not a land of snake charmers on the brink of war”. Wings of India is what he calls the expedition, carrying the message of “global peace and integration”, which will end at Air Venture 2002 at Osh Kosh, Wisconsin.

“We had a hair-raising experience landing in Calcutta,” said Sharma, after battling rains on Saturday afternoon. From here, the two-man team, including Delhi-based Sandeep Saraf, ex-pilot to Jyoti Basu, will be off to Chittagong on Sunday morning if the weather holds.

Wings of India set off on June 20, with support from corporates like Titan and Indian Airlines. The aircraft, manufactured by Sharma’s Agni Aviation, can “roughly be equated to a Maruti car”. The single-engine craft runs on automotive petrol and can hold up to 160 litres of fuel.

Sharma plans to cover a total flight distance of around 22,000 km. From Bangladesh it is on to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Beijing, far-eastern Russia over east Siberia up to the Bering Strait from where they will cross over to Alaska. Flying through Canada, they will then stop at Wisconsin, US.

The longest the Zenair 701 will have to stay in the air is eight-and-a-half hours, for part of the Russian sector. Equipped with only a satellite phone, three days’ supply of food, three litres of water, a first-aid box and survival kit, the duo has set the sky as the limit for its peace mission.

   

 
 
GANG WAR ENDS IN MURDER 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 22: 
Gang rivalry claimed a life at Raidighi in South 24-Parganas on Saturday. Subol Naiya, 35, was murdered in presence of his family.

The incident occurred in Kashinagar where Naiya lived. It was around 2.30 am when six miscreants assembled in front of Naiya’s house. Four of them broke down the door and stormed in while the other two stood guard outside. The assassins dragged him out on the courtyard and pumped three bullets into his chest. He was then hacked with choppers.

Naiya’s family members had raised an alarm but no help came. Once the assailants left, neighbours took Naiya to hospital where he was pronounced brought dead.

Officials said the attack was a sequel to a long-standing feud. “The killers knew that Naiya had returned home after a six-month stay under cover,” a police officer said.

Police said Naiya had been linked to several dacoities in south Calcutta. “We have got the names of those involved in the killing,” said Arun Majumdar, circle inspector of Raidighi police station. A joint raid with the Calcutta Police is on the cards to track down the assailants.

Girl killed: Lalita Tirke, 12, died after a ceiling fan crashed on her while she was sleeping inside the staff quarters of a school at Liluah, Howrah, on Saturday. Lalita, a resident of Jalpaiguri, was spending her vacation at her uncle’s place. Police said that around noon, the school staff raised an alarm on noticing that the fan had crashed on the girl. Lalita was rushed to hospital where she was declared brought dead.

   

 
 
APPRAISAL ALERT FOR OFFICIALS 
 
 
BY UTPAL BANERJEE
 
Calcutta, June 22: 
With the Tata Consultancy Service’s report on maximising utilisation of “idle” manpower in state departments already through, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is set to take stock of the performance of its 1,700 West Bengal Civil Services officers.

Long before appointing TCS, the government had, however, stopped fresh recruitment in non-public service commission posts in view of surplus staff. Then chief secretary Manish Gupta issued a circular to this effect on December 11 last year, barely a month after Bhattacharjee assumed office.

While the TCS’ preliminary report is under government scrutiny, the personnel and administrative reforms department has for the first time issued a 12-page exhaustive format of the mandatory annual confidential report for WBCS officers.

“The idea is to explore and assess the efficiency of administrators who will run the offices. One should keep in mind that when something rots, the head rots first. Since WBCS officers hold important posts right from the block level, they should be first set right,” an official spokesman said.

The annual confidential report is a “vital document crucial for an officer’s further advancement in career”, explained the spokesman.

“One should not take it as a faultfinding exercise but as a means to develop one’s personality and explore one’s potential,” he added.

The annual confidential report will include inputs from the officer, the reporting authority, the reviewing authority and the accepting authority.

Divided into five parts, the new format starts with personal information. The reporting officer is asked to set personalised performance targets in consultation with the officer at the beginning of each financial year.

While the year-end “performance appraisal” will be a joint exercise to avoid “vindictiveness or arbitrariness”, regular interactions have been advised to take “corrective steps”, if required.

The reporting officer will also assess a WBCS official’s “personal attributes” like attitude to work, initiative, decision-making, capacity to appraise, inspire and motivate colleagues, planning and coordination, communication skills and public relations.

Besides, the reporting officer will “certify” the official’s nature of work, quality of output and knowledge in his sphere of work as well as assess “aptitude and potential” to help allocate the most “appropriate assignment” to the “right” officer.

A new “outstanding” grade has been added to the earlier categories of “very good”, “average” and “below average”. But the reporting officer will have to be cautious and show sufficient grounds for ranking an officer “outstanding”.

To prevent “abuse of power” by the reporting authority, the reviewing officer can record his remarks on any WBCS official. Any comment by the reporting officer deemed “casual and superficial” can be set aside.

However, Jiban Chakraborty, private secretary to industry minister Nirupam Sen and general secretary of the WBCS (Executive) Officers’ Association, said the ambitious format would have to be complemented by training. “The whole exercise will lose its meaning in the absence of a policy for comprehensive modern cadre training,” he said.

   

 
 
DAYLIGHT MURDER OF PROMOTER 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Chinsurah, June 22: 
A building promoter was shot dead in Serampore this afternoon by unknown assailants.

Susanta Som, 35, was attacked by the armed gang when he was supervising the construction of a building at Khasbagan, police said.

An injured Som sought refuge in a house close by. But the attackers chased him, hurling bombs at their victim. Soon after, the assailants stormed the house and fired at point-blank range, killing the promoter on the spot.

Later, residents put up a roadblock at G.T. Road, demanding the arrest of the culprits. The police used lathicharge to disperse the crowd.

A police official said the motive behind the murder was yet to be ascertained.

   

 
 
EVICTION HAMMER FOR RED OFFICE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Tamluk June 23: 
Six months after its formation, the Purba Midnapore administration launched an eviction drive to clear the district headquarters town of illegal settlements.

Some 325 kaccha houses, 200 shops, six garages, five godowns, an office of the state co-ordination committee (the CPM-backed organisation for state government employees) and a makeshift place of worship were razed yesterday night with little resistance from the settlers.

The demolition drive kicked off at 9 pm on the three-and-a-half kilometre road from Mecheda to Tamluk. After the structures were razed, the road was widened from 80 to 160 feet.

District magistrate Anil Verma claimed that the eviction drive was completed in 24 hours. The official also made it clear that the settlers would have to move out on their own. Only seven houses that had obtained a court injunction escaped the demotion effort.

   

 
 
PARTY PUNCH TO PANCHAYATS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, June 22: 
In the run-up to panchayat polls next year, the CPM leadership today expressed displeasure over the functioning of several village bodies run by its activists, asking them to maintain a transparent administration.

“You have to be very careful about the functioning of the panchayats. You have to run the units honestly and efficiently to give the rural population the maximum benefit of the three-tier system,” panchayat minister Suryakanta Mishra told zilla parishad sabhadhipatis, who head the panchayat system.

The CPM state committee met the sabhadhipatis at the Alimuddin Street headquarters to offer fresh ideas and instructions on the functioning of village bodies.

The party leadership criticised several panchayat units for failing to conduct adult and continuing education programmes that could help the government in eradicating rural illiteracy.

“You should not confine yourselves to the task of providing civic amenities to the rural population. You have to give them education and work hard to run the camps for educating adult illiterates,” CPM leaders reportedly told the zilla sabhadhipatis.

State secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty asked the panchayat functionaries to play a major role in preventing power theft in rural Bengal.

The party leaders also criticised some panchayat functionaries for failing to utilise funds allocated by the government.

“It has come to our notice that many of our panchayat leaders are not bothered about utilising the funds. As a result, the villagers are deprived of their legitimate dues and our panchayat leaders face criticism. We sanction enough funds for the betterment of the rural people and we want the panchayat functionaries to work properly,” the state party leaders told the sabhadhipatis.

   
 

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