Brakes on architects’ course
62-year-old held for rape of teen
Jailed goon moves apex court
Skipper’s skill carves a skeleton
The City Diary
Pulling strings across seven seas
Couple robbed of Rs 80,000
Tackling waste, the American way
Buses ablaze, pitched battle marks mishap
Cash course for principals

 
 
BRAKES ON ARCHITECTS’ COURSE 
 
 
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Admissions to the bachelor of architectural engineering course, one of the oldest and most prestigious courses taught for the past 53 years at Shibpur Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University), have been closed, following a directive from the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The century-and-a-half-old college, that has produced some of our best architects, has been asked by AICTE to halt admission of students to both its under-graduate and post-graduate courses in architectural engineering from the current academic session. The college has, allegedly, been penalised for “failing to maintain the norms” laid down by the government for running the course.

“The Council of Architecture, the national regulatory body, had conducted inspections of the college and directed us to ask the authorities to stop all admissions this year as they have found that the college had failed to maintain the minimum requirement for running the course,” said B.K. Tosh, AICTE regional officer for the eastern region.

The college authorities and the state government are in talks with AICTE and the Council of Architecture to withdraw the order. “The AICTE officials in Delhi are examining the requests. Considering the interests of the students, permission may be granted to the college to run the course if it promises to rectify the faults,” said Tosh, while admitting that the architectural engineering department in Shibpur had been considered “one of the best in the country” for decades.

Sources in B.E. College said the Council of Architecture had discontinued the course as the institution had not followed certain admission rules and it did not have the requisite laboratory and computer facilities.

Vice-chancellor Amal Jyoti Sengupta, however, said: “The allegation that we do not have adequate laboratory facilities is absolutely baseless. The architectural engineering department is one of the best in the country. Our students have made a mark not only in India, but throughout the world.”

Sengupta also claimed that the institute had strictly followed the admission procedure laid down by the Council of Architecture.

The shut order has left in the lurch students who have cleared the Joint Entrance Examination. With the 20 berths at Shibpur out of bounds, the 30 in Jadavpur University (JU) — up from 20 last year, thanks to an AICTE order — will now witness a mad scramble for the precious seats.

   

 
 
62-YEAR-OLD HELD FOR RAPE OF TEEN 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Mahadev De, 62-year-old iron scrap trader of the Maniktala area, was arrested for allegedly raping a teenager after local people took to the streets on Thursday, demanding police action. The man claimed he was framed.

Deputy commissioner of police (detective department) Soumen Mitra said De went to the girl’s house around 6.30 am, when her mother and maternal uncle were away on work.

De had been introduced to the members of the girl’s family by a common friend when they were looking for someone to introduce them to the Rabindra Sarani branch of the State Bank of India to open a savings account.

Filing a complaint with the police, the girl said De went to her house on his way back home after his constitutional at Hedua and asked her to make some tea.

When she went inside to do so, De locked the door and allegedly committed the crime. When her relatives returned home after an hour, the girl broke down and narrated her experience to them.

Mitra said the girl’s grandmother had died about a month ago, leaving a large sum of money with the SBI’s Rabindra Sarani branch.

When the family members went to the bank to claim the money, the management told them to find someone who will endorse their application for opening a savings account.

A common friend introduced De to the family. He assured them he would stand guarantor. So, he became acquainted with them.

As soon as news of the alleged rape spread, local people gathered in front of the house, blocking traffic for half an hour in Satkari Mitra Lane. Elders accompanied the family to Maniktala police station.

   

 
 
JAILED GOON MOVES APEX COURT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Jishu Jain, believed to be the mastermind of several high-profile crimes in the New Alipore-Behala belt and who has been behind bars for the past 19 months, has become the first city-based criminal in the recent past to move a bail application in the Supreme Court.

South 24-Parganas deputy superintendent of police (town) Subhankar Chatterjee has rushed to Delhi to handle Friday’s case, but state advocate-general Balai Ray, who was to lead the state government’s legal team, has been forced to stay back because of pressing engagements here, say officers.

The bail plea has left city police and legal circles wondering about the reach of the crime empire Jishu has managed to build over the years. This has enabled him to pay Supreme Court legal eagles their fees, which are often upwards of Rs 60,000.

Jishu, say senior officers of Calcutta Police and the South 24-Parganas district police, is wanted in at least two dozen cases. The crimes, they say, range from extortion to murder, the most recent of them being the killing of New Alipore-based promoter Mahesh Agarwal in April. This took place when Jishu had already spent 16 months in jail.

This is not the first time the Jain family has hired top-bracket lawyers. A senior advocate, who till recently was close to the government, was one of the counsels for Jishu’s mother. The case came up before Calcutta High Court in April, after a lower court rejected her bail plea following her arrest in an Arms Act case. Jishu’s mother, allege police, took charge of her son’s empire after he was arrested in December 2000. She ran the extortion racket and organised his boys, officers added.

Agarwal was murdered when Jishu’s mother’s bail plea was being moved. The nine arrested for the murder are Jishu’s accomplices and the only person out of the police dragnet is another of his henchman. Officers say Jishu masterminded the whole affair. “The chargesheet is ready,” Calcutta Police detective department deputy commissioner Soumen Mitra said on Friday.

Despite Jishu employing some of the best legal brains to bail him out at the Supreme Court, Subhankar Chatterjee, before leaving for Delhi, sounded confident of keeping him behind bars. “Even if Jishu manages to secure a bail in this case, there are several other watertight cases we have lined up against him,” he said.

Officers admit that Jishu’s case is “different” from others. “Even when he was behind bars, he kept both Calcutta Police and its counterpart in the district of South 24-Parganas on their toes,” one of them admitted.

But his decision to move the Supreme Court has become a talking point in police circles. “A criminal who, despite spending 19 months in prison, can afford to hire Supreme Court lawyers, demands a special effort from state lawyers,” a senior Calcutta Police officer said.

   

 
 
SKIPPER’S SKILL CARVES A SKELETON 
 
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR
 
BY BAPPA MAJUMDAR 
He replaced the ‘b’ in his name with ‘v’ as a tribute to his hero, Kapil Dev. And budding anatomist Joydev Pal can attribute some of his fighting spirit to the champion cricketer.

Joydev’s father Ronju Lal ekes out a living in Baruipur by giving shape to small clay idols of gods and goddesses. Mother Parulbala has been forced to join a local factory as a daily labourer to help the family make ends meet. And their 20-year-old son is busy pursuing his dream to be a medicine man, ranking 148th in the Joint Entrance Examinations (JEE), against all odds.

Joydev is not sure where his fees for the NRS Hospital and Medical College course will come from. But he is sure about his way with words and his skilled hands, his rhymes with a reason and his clay models. The first to make complicated chemistry and biology lessons easy to remember and the second to understand the human anatomy better.

Having picked up the art of making clay dolls from his artisan father as a child, Joydev stunned anatomists and doctors from several medical college and hospitals with a ‘life-like’ clay skeleton exhibited at a recent seminar at Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College. Joydev has opted out of the college to become an anatomist.

“I was confident of making a complete skeleton. Doctors at the homoeopathic college, however, said it was impossible to create an exact replica with clay,” recalls Joydev. He first surprised his teachers with a clay model of a child’s hipbone, before going on to a complete skeleton that now finds pride of place among exhibits at the college.

“I hope to specialise in human anatomy and reveal more intricate details about the body through research,” adds Joydev.

Finding some biology and chemistry terms tough to tackle, he has converted names and components of metals, alloys and blood groups into Bengali rhyme. Sunchho ki buri/Tin dile kuri/Tama dile aashi/Shei kanshar thala niye jao Kashi (O old woman, 20 per cent tin and 80 per cent copper make a bronze plate…) is one among the 500-odd he has penned.

“The rhymes he wrote now serve as a model for many of our students preparing for the Joint Entrance,” says Dr A.K. Maity of a central Calcutta tutorial, who has been a mentor for Joydev ever since he walked in after securing a first division in Madhyamik from Ramakrishna Ashram Vidyapith. “After seeing his talent, we decided to give him free tutorials. Not only has he lived up to his promise, he has also set a precedent,” says Maity.

Ask Joydev about his problems, especially financial, and he brushes them aside: “I am not worried. I know God will help me in some way or the other.”

   

 
 
THE CITY DIARY 
 
 
 
 

Morning clashes rock Bhowanipore

CPM activists blocked Asutosh Mukherjee Road, in Bhowanipore, for half an hour on Thursday morning following a clash among miscreants. Two men were arrested. Police said two criminals, Bikash and Papu, went on the rampage in the area in the morning. They were on the lookout for rivals Binod and Rajesh. This created panic among people shopping at Jadubabur Bazar. CPM supporters alleged that the miscreants had damaged their party office. Later, they put up the blockade, demanding the arrest of the criminals. Around noon, Binod and Rajesh were picked up. In another incident, there was tension in Kalighat following a clash in which a youth, Rabi Das, was injured. Police said Das was a resident of Chetla and had come to join a Congress rally. He was chased by armed miscreants who shot and hurled bombs at him. A bullet pierced Rabi’s hand and he was hospitalised. Local Congress leaders demanded the arrest of the culprits. The police said the attackers were local residents and had been identified.

HC seeks Saha case papers

The appeal of US-based physician Kunal Saha, challenging a trial court’s verdict dismissing his plea to direct the West Bengal Medical Council to remove Ashok Chowdhury from the post of president during the hearing of the Anuradha Saha death case, took a significant turn on Thursday with the division bench asking the Council to produce “all documents relating to the proceedings” by July 22. The division bench, comprising Justice A. Ganguly and Justice H. Bannerjee of Calcutta High Court, also directed Saha to file a separate affidavit with regard to his complaint that the Council had discriminated against him while hearing the complaint against three doctors.

Kasba tubewell

The Corporation will sink a deep tubewell in Kasba to solve the crisis of potable water. According to the chief engineer, water supply, it will take about two weeks to sink a deep tubewell. Temporary arrangements have been made to divert water from Kalitala pumping station to maintain “at least 60 per cent” of the normal supply to the affected area.

Man run over

A 70-year-old unidentified man was run over by an unidentified vehicle on Strand Road on Thursday. Police said the man was taken to hospital where he was declared dead.

Bus accident

Five persons were injured after a chartered bus carrying about 45 passengers fell into a ditch near Baguiati, off VIP Road, on Thursday morning. Police said the bus was coming from Barasat.

Giraffe leaves zoo

Anubhav, a male giraffe aged 24 months, left for Lucknow zoo by road on Thursday night. In exchange, Alipore will receive several swamp deer, zoo director S.K. Chowdhury said. With the export of the giraffe, the total number of giraffes in the zoo now stands at eight.

Suicide

Lalit Thakur, 41, a regular morning-walker at Subhas Sarobar, hanged himself from a tree near the lake on Wednesday evening.

Tax dues

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said at Writers’ Buildings on Thursday that the state-run Great Eastern Hotel owes Rs 1.5 crore in taxes to the Corporation. The CMC had paid back Rs 10 lakh out of the Rs 30 lakh it owes the hotel for purchase of loaves of bread for students of primary schools run by it.

Play postponed

The play Tomorrow Will Be Better, which was supposed to be staged on Thursday evening at Sisir Mancha by the National Theatre of Nish from Serbia as part of the Ganakrishti Natya Utsav, has been postponed as the 15-member troupe missed their flight. Since it is uncertain when they will arrive, an announcement will be made later.    

 
 
PULLING STRINGS ACROSS SEVEN SEAS 
 
 
BY RESHMI SENGUPTA
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Sudip Gupta’s cubic sitting room in a quiet Selimpur bylane is strewn with paraphernalia and a group is engaged in frenetic work — giving finishing touches to life-size stuffed cranes and dolls or chiselling out masks. In the week ahead, the men and the puppets will be at Holon, in Israel, to stage their craft at the sixth International Puppet Festival, organised by Stainberg Cultural and Arts Centre.

Dolls Theatre is the only puppeteers’ troupe from India to be invited to the gala carnival starting July 22. Gupta, along with five others, will make the trip.

Dolls Theatre works with the relatively less popular form of this art, the rod puppet, and its presentation comes with a lot of improvisation, too. On the proscenium, men in black costumes pull the rods attached to the puppets’ limbs, while the dark backdrop and deft use of light blot the puppeteers out. “Though we move in tandem with the dolls on stage, there is an illusion of the life-size puppets subduing us. Often human characters in masks are involved, too. As our medium is non-verbal, we have been able to overcome the language barrier and reach out to a wider audience,” says Gupta who has travelled across India, including Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Bhopal, for shows.

Last year, Dolls Theatre was chosen in the best exhibit category at the International Puppet Festival held at Tehran, in Iran, for Taming of the Wild, a five-episode presentation on the man-nature relationship. The troupe will stage this widely-acclaimed play — scripted and designed by Gupta — in Israel, too. The 15-minute capsules feature Indian instrumental music and compositions by Wagner and Tchaikovosky.

Since 1990, when Dolls Theatre was founded, Gupta has made puppetry his vocation and the co-artistes have chipped in to run the troupe. Funds are no more a problem now with the group touring the country and travelling abroad on call shows.

Besides researching on modern and contemporary puppets of eastern India, the 35-year-old has also used puppetry in several health awareness campaigns, including one conducted by the CMDA on the city’s outskirts. In the offing is a project with Chitrakoot Gramodyog Viswa Vidyalaya, Madhya Pradesh, on rural development involving the gram panchayat.

But the prized piece in Gupta’s repertoire will be his first “verbal” play based on Sujon Harbola, a short story by Satyajit Ray. “Ray’s narrative beautifully blends the contemporary and elements of a fairy-tale which holds out immense potential for puppetry,” he says animatedly. The skit — stage-actor Soumitra Basu has written the script — will be ready for the audience during the Pujas.

   

 
 
COUPLE ROBBED OF RS 80,000 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Three miscreants stormed the house of an octogenarian couple on Asutosh Mukherjee Road and robbed Rs 80,000 on Thursday afternoon.

Witnesses said the three miscreants came to the first-floor residence of Pranlal and Jaya Saha on Wednesday evening and asked them whether they needed a domestic help. The Sahas refused and they left without any argument.

On Thursday afternoon, they returned and knocked on the door. When Pranlal opened it, they pushed him aside and entered. One of the youths stood guard at the entrance while the others herded Pranlal and Jaya to a corner at gunpoint.

The miscreants robbed Rs 80,000 and while leaving warned the couple not to alert the neighbours. Pranlal later lodged a complaint with the Bhowanipore police station.

“We suspect that the youths are from the locality and were tipped off by someone known to the Sahas,’’ an officer of the police station said.

   

 
 
TACKLING WASTE, THE AMERICAN WAY 
 
 
BY JAYANTA BASU
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
It’ll take an American shovel to clean Greater Calcutta. State urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya, “overwhelmed” after studying the US waste management system at close quarters, is ready to adopt the American model to tackle “one of the most serious problems” in the municipal areas.

“A waste management project has been designed for six municipalities, in tune with the American model. We have already sent the proposal to the National River Conservation Trust (NRCT), a subsidiary of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP), for financial aid,” said Bhattacharya.

The project cost has been pegged at Rs 17 crore, covering the municipalities of Bhadreswar, Bansberia, Halisahar, North Dum Dum, New Barrackpore and North Barrackpore, with “at least 50 per cent” expected from the GAP. Some funds are expected from the Central Pollution Control Board, while the state will pitch in with the rest.

The study tour on “municipal solid waste and waste-water management in the US” was arranged under the Exchange Program for Sustainable Growth as part of the United States–Asia Environmental Partnership (US-AEP). The chief executive officer and an environment cell officer from the CMDA accompanied the minister on the trip. The team — which had gone to study solid waste management, recycling of waste water and sanitary landfill in the US — was not only “fascinated” by the technology used, but also by the degree of “participation, ownership and prioritisation” of the common people.

’It will perhaps not be possible for us to fully emulate the technology part of their system due to financial constraints and other reasons, but we can definitely take a leaf out of their highly-decentralised programme,” said Bhattacharya. “Residents of any area normally take all the major decisions regarding waste management through referendums.”

The government has already set the ball rolling in the targeted municipalities. According to sources, a centralised ‘state-level solid waste management authority’ is in the pipeline to work in tandem with the municipal authorities. “The recently-generated system of a computerised database in several municipalities is helping us plan the proper collection and disposal aspects of waste management,” observed an expert involved in the project.

To spur community involvement, every household will be provided with different coloured litter boxes to ensure separation of waste at source. Fully-covered disposal vans will be introduced to avoid spillage. True to the American model, schoolchildren will be involved in a big way. The endeavour will be flagged off in Bhadreswar with an awareness procession on Friday.

   

 
 
BUSES ABLAZE, PITCHED BATTLE MARKS MISHAP 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Violence erupted in Shyambazar on Thursday morning after rowdies and evicted garage-owners attacked the police with sodawater bottles and bricks, following a road accident.

Three buses were set on fire, while a dozen policemen were injured in the incident.

Police fired teargas shells and resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the mob.

Witnesses recounted details of the accident. They said a 45-year-old woman, Lipika Biswas, got off a private bus at the Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road-Fariapukur intersection and was trying to hail a CTC bus to Esplanade.

“In the process, she slipped and fell. By then, the signal turned green and the CTC bus dashed into her. Fortunately, the driver applied the brakes on time,” said a bystander.

A bleeding Lipika was put on a taxi and taken to R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital. Her condition is stated to be critical. When the mob found that the CTC driver had fled the spot, they started pelting his vehicle with stones.

“Passengers were asked to get off, while the mob sprinkled kerosene on three buses, including the CTC vehicle, and set them all on fire,’’ said Shankar Dutta, a resident of the area.

Deputy commissioner of police, traffic, M.K. Singh, said the mob comprised mostly anti-socials, who were evicted last week in a drive to clear the footpath of encroachers. Singh said the men were running wayside garages, which often spilled over on to the main road and created a chaos.

Sources said that neither the local police nor officers from the North Division arrived on the spot, despite repeated calls to DC (north) K.L. Tamta.

It was learnt that Tamta was not aware of the incident as “he was held up in an important meeting.’’

For half-an-hour, the mob fought with the force, who were injured and later fled the scene. At around 11 am, more policemen arrived and brought the situation under control. Around 24 people were arrested on charges of rioting and harassing the police.

Later in the evening, local policemen sent a letter to commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, protesting the indifference by the North Division outpost.

Police added that the Fariapukur area was becoming one of the most accident-prone zones in the city. “Residents frequently complain of traffic snarls and road accidents in the area. We are looking into it,” said an officer.

The police urged commuters to be careful while alighting from or boarding buses, in view of the monsoon in the city. Roads have become slippery because of rain and so are the bus footboards, the police said.

   

 
 
CASH COURSE FOR PRINCIPALS 
 
 
BY BARUN GHOSH
 
Calcutta, July 18: 
Concerned over dearth of funds in its state-aided 355 under-graduate colleges in the city and the districts, the government has charted out a first-ever, comprehensive course on effective financial management for the principals at the Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management (ISWBM), opposite Calcutta University.

State higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty said on Thursday that the proposed course would train principals on mobilising resources in colleges to make them financially sound. “The time has come for state-aided colleges to give a serious thought on financial management,” he added.

The minister made it clear that the government would encourage college principals to arrange funding by wooing investors and business houses. Registrar U. K. Banerjee said on Thursday that Prof S. Mishra, head of the department of public system management, would meet Chakraborty to finalise the material for the course.

In a related development, acting on Chakraborty’s directive, at least 50 principals and vice-chancellors of institutions in city and its neighbourhood organised a session last week at Surendranath College to discuss ways on mobilising resources.

“The session was a lively one, with principals discussing ways to generate funds,” said Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor, academic, Calcutta University.

He cited two cases in which city-based colleges had already entered into an agreement with business houses for mobilising funds.

Besides business houses, according to Das, alumni associations of different colleges could be a major source for collection of funds. “The rich and wealthy in the alumni associations could be approached for funds,” he said, adding, that vice-chancellor Asish Banerjee had just returned from abroad, getting assurances on funds from former NRI students, based in the US and the UK.

Those participating in the session suggested that civic bodies, municipalities and panchayats be approached for funds. “We can request such bodies to allot a portion of cess or tax they collect from people for the promotion of education,” said Prof S. Dutta, director of Academic Staff College, Calcutta University.

   
 

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