Cash crunch sends CU to alumni abroad
CPM leader shot dead
Chartered bus strike threat again
Doctors push for heart implant with tissue valve
Teach better to ban tuition: Sen
War-against-state charge on lecturer
Allies sore over jubilee junkets
Darjeeling shut down

 
 
CASH CRUNCH SENDS CU TO ALUMNI ABROAD 
 
 
BY TAMAL SENGUPTA
 
Calcutta, July 6: 
Cash-strapped Calcutta University (CU) has hit the road in search of funds. Vice-chancellor Ashis Banerjee has undertaken an overseas trip to mobilise resources for the university.

Banerjee, who left Calcutta for the US on July 1 to attend the Biswa Banga Sammelan, will meet former CU students who have settled abroad and seek funds from them for the development of their alma mater. He will also stop over in the UK on his way back for the same purpose.

CU officials said on Saturday that Banerjee was invited by the organisers of the Biswa Banga Sammelan being held at Atlanta.

“The vice-chancellor wanted to use the international gathering to mobilise around Rs 10 crore from former Calcutta University students,” they added.

The Biswa Banga Sammelan is expected to bring together Indians from all over the world who have established themselves in their adopted countries.

According to CU sources, this is the first time that a vice-chancellor of a university with a five-star rating has decided to meet former students to seek financial assistance.

During his 12-day tour of the US, Banerjee will approach ex-students and convince them to donate for the development of the university.

Banerjee’s move follows a recent decision by the state government to allow the universities to generate funds to bear their educational expenses for at least three months a year.

Governor Viren J. Shah, who is also the chancellor of CU, has advised the university authorities to initiate a move to raise funds.

Officials admitted that the university faced a deficit of about Rs 12 crore during the last financial year.

The state government has also expressed its concern over the increasing cost of running the universities and had advised the authorities to generate funds for themselves.

Calcutta University has already raised its tuition, examination and registration fees for conducting research at the university in a bid to earn more revenue.

The university plans to sell off some of its property spread over different parts of the city and elsewhere in Bengal. It has also agreed in principle to introduce some self-financing post-graduate courses to enable it to minimise its dependence on the state government.

The University Grants Commission has also advised the university to draw up a plan to become financially self-reliant.

   

 
 
CPM LEADER SHOT DEAD 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, July 6: 
Barely 24 hours after the killing of two CPI activists in Midnapore, a key CPM functionary of South 24-Parganas was shot dead late on Friday. Two persons have been arrested in this connection.

The incident occurred around 11 pm when Sujauddin Laskar, a 50-year-old member of the CPM-controlled Narayanpur gram panchayat, was returning home from Canning market. A gang of five masked men intercepted Laskar on the way and and fired at him from point-blank range.

As Laskar lay unconscious, the miscreants hurled bombs and fled in the dark. Residents rushed him to Canning sub-divisional hospital where he died on Saturday morning.

As the news of his death spread, hundreds of CPM supporters took out a string of processions condemning the murder. They also raised slogans against police inaction and demanded that those involved be arrested within 48 hours. Later, a CPM delegation met the district administration and submitted a list of local criminals.

Superintendent of police, Deb Kumar Ganguly, said on Saturday that raids were being conducted in several hideouts to round up the miscreants. “We have got some vital clues after interrogating the two arrested,” he added.

Ganguly said Laskar was involved in the murder of a former CPM gram panchayat member who was shot last year. Later, Laskar surrendered to the court and was granted bail.

“Friday’s murder may be the fallout of a long-standing feud between rival factions of the CPM,” said an officer of the Canning police station. He said infighting within the CPM had become routine in the area with party leaders turning a blind eye to the spurt in gambling and other criminal activities.

Minister for land and land reforms and CPM MLA from Canning Abdul Rezzak Mollah refuted the allegation and claimed that the murder was sparked by gang rivalry. “The CPM is unnecessarily being dragged into the controversy to tarnish our image,” Mollah added.

Local CPM leader Dulal Ghosh alleged the murder was masterminded by Congress-backed criminals. He said local CPM workers were often being attacked in the run-up to the panchayat elections, slated for early 2003.

Several pickets have been posted in the area and sub-divisional police officer Dilip Adak is camping there to monitor the situation.

   

 
 
CHARTERED BUS STRIKE THREAT AGAIN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 6: 
The West Bengal Contract Carriage Owners’ and Operators’ Association, engaged in ferrying around 80,000 students to schools in and around Calcutta, once again threatened on Saturday to go on an indefinite strike from July 17.

The association had earlier called an indefinite strike from July 1 and then deferred it following the intervention of state transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. The members were protesting the rampant use of private cars for ferrying schoolchildren and office-goers.

Association secretary Himadri Ganguly alleged on Saturday that they were left with no option but to go on strike as the minister had ignored their grievances. “The government is aware of the fact that we have been incurring heavy losses. But nothing has been done to stop this practice,” he added.

According to Ganguly, the minister had promised to look into their grievances at a meeting on June 30. But two days later, Chakraborty “encouraged” pool car-owners to carry on with their business by pasting a sticker bearing the name of the school concerned on the vehicle. “This is nothing but a breach of trust,” Ganguly alleged.

Association members slam-med the minister’s “double standards” and said they would not budge from their stand this time. “There is no further scope for negotiation since we have been let down by the government,” a member said.

   

 
 
DOCTORS PUSH FOR HEART IMPLANT WITH TISSUE VALVE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 6: 
Concerned over a rise in rheumatic heart diseases among children and the lack of follow-up treatment after the implantation of mechanical heart valves, city-based cardiologists have called for increased use of bio-prosthetic or tissue valves. Over 5.9 lakh children in the country are reported to be suffering from such diseases, caused due to narrowing of heart valves, blocking the blood flow.

In India, around 9,000 valve implants take place annually but 95 per cent of these are carried out with mechanical (steel) valves, which the doctors feel are cumbersome and need to be replaced with bio-prosthetic ones.

“A person undergoing a mechanical valve implant has to be careful about the follow-up treatment to prevent blood clotting, which is a common occurrence. But an implant with bio-prosthetic valves does not lead to coagulation,” says cardiologist and ITU specialist Subrata Maitra.

Even the routine prothrombin test is beyond the reach of patients from rural areas. The test, which detects blood clotting, can be fatal if found positive. City doctors say that mechanical valves have been found to be unsuitable for heart patients with added complications such as peptic ulcer, age and brain damage. “These patients can always go for tissue valve implants that have no complications at all,” they explain.

“Bio-prosthetic valves should be recommended even for pregnant women with a rheumatic heart,” says senior cardiologist Tarun Praharaj. He added that rheumatic heart diseases, which happen mostly due to negligence of common ailments such as continuous throat infections, can be brought down by conducting awareness campaigns.

Recently, Dr Pia Myken, an expert in valvular surgery in Sweden, had advised city doctors to promote bio-prosthetic valves. During an interactive session at BM Birla Heart Research Centre, Dr Myken said bio-prosthetic valves provided a better alternative to the mechanical ones.

The cost of a bio-prosthetic valve is estimated at around Rs 50,000 and surgery charges are around Rs 70,000.

Dr Ajay Kaul, senior valvular surgery expert, said the transplant is beyond the means of the average Indian. Health insurance could go a long way in making bio-prosthetic valves popular as is the case in advanced countries, Kaul added.

   

 
 
TEACH BETTER TO BAN TUITION: SEN 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Bilpur, July 6: 
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday said the government should not ban private tuition immediately without improving the infrastructure of schools.

Addressing a gathering organised by Pratichi India trust, founded by him to impart education among poor children, Sen said: “The government has to ensure that no student needs private tuition. For this, the quality of education in schools will have to improve. Only then can a ban on private tuition be thought of.’’

Several teachers, guardians and students were present on the occasion and most expressed their opposition to the ban on private tuition. Even the toppers in the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations, they pointed out, had taken private tuition.

Soon after the state government passed a law banning private tuition, the Nobel laureate had said private tuition was “a regrettable necessity’’. Clarifying his views on Saturday, Sen said the entire education system, especially the primary education sector, would have to be revamped before taking such a decision.

“A committee has to be set up in each school comprising representatives of students, guardians and teachers. The government has to formulate a policy after receiving the committee’s suggestions. Besides, poor children should be inspired to attend school. Incentives like mid-day meals and sports must be offered to woo them,’’ Sen said, adding that if Tamil Nadu could improve its primary education system, West Bengal could do so as well.

Sen said teachers should not be utilised for non-teaching activities like census and preparing voters’ lists. The teacher: student ratio should be strictly maintained at 1:40, he added.

New IA flights: Indian Airlines will soon introduce a flight between Calcutta and Hong Kong and operate a third flight on the Calcutta-Mumbai sector, IA’s regional director Vikram Badsha said.

   

 
 
WAR-AGAINST-STATE CHARGE ON LECTURER 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Paschim Midnapore, July 6: 
A lecturer at Rajabazar Science College, arrested for alleged Naxalite links, was charged with waging war against the state and produced before the chief judicial magistrate court this afternoon.

Kaushik Ganguly, a lecturer in chemical engineering, was remanded in police custody for five days along with Parasar Bhattacharya and Tinku Ghosh, who were also arrested for alleged links with the People’s War Group. Rabindranath Mahato was, however, remanded in judicial custody for the same period.

The accused will be produced again on Thursday. Public prosecutor Raicharan Rai said they would be tried for waging war against the state.

The four were arrested yesterday from Dum Dum and Uttarpara following the confession of PWG activist Partha Banerjee, who was nabbed from Belgharia last month.

Investigating officials said that during interrogation, Banerjee revealed the involvement of several persons, particularly educationists, with PWG. The rebel leader had also accompanied the police during the raids.

The police said Ganguly, the lecturer, had links with front-ranking PWG leaders of Andhra Pradesh, Ganapati and Kishan. Another accused, Mahato, was responsible for arranging shelter for PWG rebels. Ghosh and Bhattacharya were informers.

The police added that another person, nicknamed Dipak, was absconding in the city.

“We got a lot of information after interrogating them and verifying their statements. We are in touch with the Andhra Pradesh police,” said additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Anil Srinivas. He added that the police had information that many PWG activists had taken shelter in the city and that raids were on to trace them.

Several research scholars from Rajabazar Science College assembled at the Midnapore court where Ganguly was produced. Most could not believe that their professor had Naxalite links.

“We have seen Ganguly engrossed either in reading or writing. We could never believe that he maintained links with PWG activists,” said research fellow Tilak Dutta.

A functionary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberty, Arun Majhi, threatened to move the state human rights commission for alleged harassment of Ganguly. Majhi also claimed that the lecturer was beaten by the police.

   

 
 
ALLIES SORE OVER JUBILEE JUNKETS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 6: 
Relations between the CPM and its allies showed signs of turning frosty when the party decided to send only its ministers and leaders to other states to highlight the achievements of the 25-year-old government.

Ministers belonging to other parties of the combine were left in the cold when the CPM assigned the publicity task only to its members.

Minor Front partners like the Forward Bloc, the CPI and the RSP have expressed their grievance over the matter. Some 25 CPM ministers and leaders, including chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, party state secretary Anil Biswas, politburo member and Front chairman Biman Bose, industry minister Nirupam Sen and health minister Surya Kanta Mishra, have started visiting several states to highlight the achievements of the Front government.

“Ours is a Left Front government and we are also its partners. Naturally, the CPM has not done justice by not including our ministers in the campaign in other states”, said a senior CPI leader on the condition of anonymity.

“It seems that the programme was chalked out by the CPM alone. But it would have been better if the CPM had allowed ministers of other Front partners to go to other states,” said CPI state secretary Manju Kumar Majumder.

Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh said the decision to assign ministers to visit other states was not taken in any Front meeting.

“As far as I know, the Left Front has not discussed anything in this regard in its recent meetings. We have been told to take part in similar functions in Bengal districts only. But we were not informed that the CPM had decided to send its ministers to other states. Since our government is a government of nine political parties, we can expect that all the partners of the ruling Front have the responsibility to highlight the achievements of the government,” Ghosh added.

RSP central secretariat member Sunil Sengupta said the Left Front met on Wednesday but had not discussed the issue. “Naturally, I have a feeling that the programme was made exclusively for the CPM. The impact of the programme could have reached its culmination if ministers of all the Front partners were involved,” he added.

The chief minister visited Mumbai from June 22 to 23. The health minister visited Bhubaneswar on June 23 and his counterpart in the industry department went to Coimbatore and Madurai on June 24 and 25, respectively.

   

 
 
DARJEELING SHUT DOWN 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Darjeeling, July 6: 
Life in Darjeeling town came to a standstill in response to a 12-hour bandh call to protest against the murder of a rebel CPM leader’s son. However, while Kurseong was partially affected, the bandh failed to make an impact in Kalimpong.

Deo Chand Lama, son of Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist leader Deo Chand Lama, was murdered on Thursday night by alleged CPM activists near his residence at Gangata.

Darjeeling superintendent of police Sanjay Chander said all the seven accused named in the FIR were arrested.

“The main accused, Karzung Tamang and Mani Bhujel, were arrested yesterday. Five others — Dawa Ghising, Manoj Mukhia, Arjun Tamang, Jitendra Tamang and Birendra Tamang — were nabbed today from Singtam tea estate under Pulbazar while they were trying to escape to Sikkim.”

Lama, a primary schoolteacher and Gangata panchayat member, was returning home on his motorcycle from a marriage party when he was snared and hacked to death.

“From what the accused said it is apparent that Mani Bhujel had picked up a fight with Deo Chand’s companion at a drinking joint. Bhujel then waylaid the duo at 18 Golai and killed Deo Chand. His companion was injured in the attack. The murder took place in the heat of the moment and it does not seem a pre-planed one,” said Chander.

The police said though the accused were affiliated with the CPM, they “were not active members of the party”.

The former Rajya Sabha member and state minister, Dawa Lama, had accused his former party of plotting his son’s murder. However, the CPM denied the allegation, saying it was committed by anti-socials.

   
 

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