College doors open, jobs shut
Threats land teaser trio back in cop net
Curtains down on sessions court
Pump permit stay extended
The City Diary
Police press panic button over Puja traffic
Cuffs for Mumbai killers
Mayor fails to broker deal
Feb. date for complete map of city
Boost for infotech-enabled services

Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Even in victory, she faces defeat. Her nine-year-long battle has been won, but it is too late for her to do anything meaningful with it.

As Justices Ashok Ganguly and Hrishikesh Banerjee pronounced that she should join the B.Ed course at Gandhi Centenary Memorial College on August 21 — where she had been denied admission since 1992 — the first reaction of 36-year-old Tehmina Khatun was not one of joy, but of futility. One year from now, when she acquires the degree, she will not get a job in any government school. For, in all such institutions, the cut-off age for joining is 35.

“My emotions are mixed at the moment,” Tehmina said after the judgment. “I will have no use for my degree; my age will disqualify me from joining any government school. Besides, which private institution will give me a job when they learn I have fought such a prolonged court battle? But I am extremely happy that I have finally won my case against the college authorities. I had been denied entry for the wrong reasons.”

Tehmina’s travails began in 1993, shortly after she married Sukumar Mitra and sought admission to the B.Ed course at Habra’s Gandhi Centenary Memorial College. In the written test, she ranked among the top 10 but during the interview, the college authorities asked her why she had not changed her surname. She told them it was a personal matter.

When the admission list came out, Khatun’s name was not on it. Officially, the authorities informed her that she had been denied admission on the grounds that she could not produce a ration card with the address of her new residence after marriage.

The couple took the case to the Barasat munsif court, alleging that the college authorities were prejudiced. The court ruled in her favour, but the college authorities did not relent. Instead, it went on appeal to the court of the Barasat civil judge, which upheld the lower court’s judgment. The college once again expressed its inability, saying the academic session had started and it was not possible to admit anyone midway.

The following year, 1994, the college refused Tehmina admission again and contested the case in the same court. For the next eight years, the hearing went back and forth till finally, on April 29 this year, the court once again ruled that Tehmina be admitted forthwith in the college.

It was then that the college moved the high court. The lengthy proceedings concluded on Monday. The college authorities told the court they would admit Tehmina.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Last week, they had been rounded up for teasing a college girl. Last night, they were grilled again for pressuring the victim to withdraw the complaint.

Three persons — an advocate, a physiotherapist and a Central government employee — were re-arrested on Sunday night from the Beniapukur area when they went to the girl’s New Park Street residence once again to force her to withdraw her complaints.

Two guardians — the advocate’s father and the government employee’s uncle — were also arrested from the spot for aiding the accused.

Sanjoy Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police, eastern suburban division, said all five, arrested on the charges of ‘wrongful restraint’, were produced before the magistrate at Sealdah court, where they were granted bail on Monday.

The trio had landed in the police net last week while teasing the girl on the EM Bypass. Police said that evening last week, advocate Durjoy Sengupta, physiotherapist Soumen Pal and government employee Anupam Bandopadhyay were driving down the Bypass in an Indica.

“The girl was on her way back from a relatives’ house and she was alone in an Ambassador, apart from the driver,” said deputy commissioner Mukherjee. “As soon as they saw the girl travelling alone, the trio followed, passing obscene remarks and making lewd gestures.”

The girl later told the police: “I told my driver to slow down so they could overtake us. But instead, they pulled closer to our car. I rolled up the windows.”

She then asked her driver to speed up. The other car, too, accelerated. The chase ended with the Indica crashing into the Ambassador.

The three men stepped out, hurling abuses at the driver and the girl, according to the complaint lodged with the police. The driver was dragged out and beaten up. None of the passing vehicles stopped to help.

“The girl started screaming. A police vehicle patrolling the Bypass finally came to her rescue. The three were arrested on the spot for outraging modesty through action and gestures. They were taken to Topsia police station,” Mukherjee said.

After obtaining bail, the three men were back, this time trying to force the girl to withdraw her complaint.

According to investigators, the advocate first started threatening the girl over the phone. “Two days ago, the men went to her house and told her to withdraw the complaint. Since then, they kept returning, trying to compel the girl to change her statement recorded at Topsia police station. They even told the girl’s family that they would come on Sunday night to settle scores,” said an official of Beniapukur police station.

After receiving a complaint from the victim’s family, the police lay in wait on Sunday night in front of the girl’s house. “Around 8 pm, a car screeched to a halt on the spot. Five men got off. We waited for them to enter the house,” said Mukherjee. “Then we stepped in and rounded up the five.”

Airport detention: A senior officer of the Assam Police was detained at Calcutta airport on Monday for carrying 10 live cartridges without valid documents. Airport sources said the official, B.R. Das, commandant of the Third Battalion of Assam Police, was travelling to Guwahati from Bangalore. CISF personnel found the cartridges while checking his luggage. He was handed over to the police, the sources said.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
It took Justice Gorachand De a full 15 minutes to ‘dress up’ in an adjoining chamber before entering room no. 11 of Calcutta High Court, at 11 am on Monday. The flowing white wig was in place, as was the bright red robe. Daughter Ananya Das, an advocate, was also there to click the regalia. All for the last time.

Seven minutes later, Justice De closed a historic chapter by dissolving a four-decade-old case, the only one the country’s last-remaining ‘criminal & sessions court’ had been dealing with. For 39 years, nearly 40 people had been converging in this courtroom to resolve the high court’s longest-pending case, in which the accused has been absconding since 1970. Till the last hearing, the sessions court would convene twice a year.

The case dates back to 1963, when Customs officials, led by assistant collector S. Parolekar, had seized from Howrah station three boxes of camphor, that were on their way to Chennai. Officials also arrested one P. N. Sharma in this connection. The court later directed the Calcutta Police detective department to probe the matter.

Two years later, after he was released on bail, Sharma wrote to the collector of Customs, alleging Parolekar had demanded a bribe of Rs 2,000.

Sharma claimed he was arrested because he had refused to pay up. Soon after, Parolekar filed a defamation suit against Sharma. The court was handling both cases.

On Monday, deputy sheriff Biswajit Mitra, the lawyers, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Sivaji Ghosh and deputy commissioner, detective department, Soumen Mitra, along with senior officers of the agency probing the case, were present in the courtroom.

Mitra said sleuths had made several trips to Sharma’s homes in Etawah and Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, but could not track him down.

The last hearing of the case was like a flashback from the Sixties. Very little had changed. Two guards, armed with lances, manned the front door; an orderly with a silver mace escorted the lawmen to the court; the peons were liveried in white, with red sashes. The cage, with a special staircase leading up to it, was empty, as it has been for the past four decades. The accused was missing, the solemnity was not. The guard announced the entry of Justice De in grand style.

Kazi Safiulla, public prosecutor, appealed for the closure of the case, as there was no chance of tracking the accused. The police, too, failed to shed any ray of hope in producing the accused for the next hearing.

Justice De then brought the final hammer down, signalling the closure of the case and the dissolution of the sessions court. Following tradition to the ‘T’, he then proceeded to the sheriff’s room in the high court. Sunil Gangopadhyay was not in town and so Biswajit Mitra had presided over the matter.

“This was a rare case… It will be remembered as the last sessions case in a high court,” said Justice De.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Calcutta High Court on Monday extended its earlier order and directed oil companies not to cancel the licences of petrol pumps that had obtained permits after January 2000. Justice Pinaki Ghosh adjourned the hearing for three weeks.

To date, 63 owners of petrol pumps have moved the high court, challenging the notifications issued by oil companies on August 11, cancelling licences of at least 230 petrol pumps in the state.

The oil companies had taken the step following a Central order scrapping permits of more than 2,300 petrol pumps, in the wake of the allotment scam.

On Monday, appearing for at least nine petrol pumps of Bankura and Murshidabad districts, advocate Ekramul Bari alleged that the interim stay order passed by the court on August 14 had been violated by an oil major, especially in Bankura.

The Supreme Court has fixed August 26 to hear all cases relating to the cancellation of licences of petrol pumps.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 

Arrested for kidnap hideout owner murder

One person was arrested in connection with the murder of Mohammed Rafique, the landlord of the house in Haroa where Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman was kept after his abduction on July 25, 2001. The arrested person, identified as Pintu Mullick, confessed during interrogation that he had planned to kill Rafique since he was involved in his grandfather’s murder several years ago.

Four picked up for driver death

Four persons were arrested on Monday in connection with the murder of a driver on August 9 near Kamarhati, in North 24-Parganas. Police said Raju Biswas was hacked to death by four men, who had hired the Maruti from Jagaddal. The four were picked up from a hideout. They had planned a series of robberies, but aborted the mission after the murder. The car has been recovered.

Student demand

Students of the Government College of Art and Craft, who have been boycotting classes since August 8, have written to the education secretary, the director public instructions and the college principal, demanding that their hostel at 20, Jadulal Mallick Road be repaired immediately. They also want a team to be sent to carry out an assessment of the building’s condition, particularly the toilets. On Monday morning, the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Narendrapur, the landlord of the five-storeyed building, sent materials to repair the rooms in which the boarders live.

Deer poaching

Five persons were arrested and remanded in judicial custody on charges of poaching in Raidighi, South 24-Parganas. District forest officer Subhendu Bandyopadhyay said in Alipore on Monday that the five were caught after they shot a deer in the forest.

Fire in hospital

Fire broke out in the outdoor wing of the endoscopy department of Balananda Brahmachari Hospital, in Behala, on Monday afternoon. Fire-brigade sources said the blaze started from an air-conditioner. Two engines were pressed into action and the fire was extinguished within an hour. The furniture in the room was damaged. No one was hurt, sources said.

Xaviers course

The Bachelor Business Administration course was introduced at St Xavier’s College on Monday. The ceremony to welcome the first batch for the three-year Calcutta University (CU) course was attended by vice-chancellor Asis Banerjee, dean of the commerce and business management faculty Ranajit Chakravarty and St Xavier’s College alumnus, industrialist Sanjiv Goenka. The course, the vice-chancellor said, was in parts “purely theoretical and cleverly practical”. Goenka, a former commerce student of the college, said he experienced “pangs of jealousy” for not having had the BBA option. Five city colleges have, so far, introduced the CU course, which was launched last year.


Congress activists blocked roads near Duttapukur, in North 24-Parganas, to protest the failure of the police to arrest the culprits involved in the murder of Congress leader Arun Ghosh on August 7. The protesters, who had blocked NH 34, alleged that the police knew who the culprits were, but had taken no action. Seven persons had been named in the FIR by Ghosh’s family members.

Police report

Apropos the article ‘Tantra raid’ published on August 19, the police report handed over to The Park states that neither was “music heard” nor were “drinks found being served” when officers visited the club at 4 am on August 18. The visit was “in connection to check and confirm that the stipulated licence conditions were being followed”.    

Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
With around 53 days to go for the Pujas, the city police have pressed the panic button over incomplete work under the Gariahat flyover. Deputy commissioner of police, traffic, M.K. Singh, and DC, south, Kuldip Singh, on Monday inspected the area, which draws a record crowd during the four-day festival.

The area below the flyover is now full of mud and litter. The contractors had dug up Gariahat Road while constructing the flyover but did not fill up the potholes. Police said the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) is supposed to repair the road but has not done so.

Singh, along with officer in-charge, south-east traffic guard, B.B. Modak, took stock of the space available for traffic during the Pujas. “Traffic will have to be restricted to 20 feet, which is much less than last year. Pedestrians will have a 10-ft-wide passage,’’ Singh said.

Modak said more than 60 vehicles pass per minute through Gariahat Road during the Pujas. “Judging by the present state of the road, vehicles cannot move at more than 10 kph,’’ he added.

According to police estimates, Ekdalia Evergreen draws a record six-lakh-strong crowd during the evenings. Singhi Park Sarbojanin, in Dover Lane, and Falguni Sangha, on Suren Tagore Street, also attract a mammoth crowd.

According to senior officers, more than a million people move around the Gariahat intersection during peak Puja hours.

Kuldip Singh, M.K. Singh and other officers drew up a few measures at the spot on Monday evening:

Gariahat Road, from its intersection near Mandeville Gardens to Gol Park, will be barricaded on both sides so visitors will be guided automatically into the pandals

Cornfield Road will be made two-way. There will be no parking bay on Cornfield Road and Mandeville Gardens

Visitors will not be allowed to approach Singhi Park from Dover Lane. They will be guided through Nandy Street and Ramani Chatterjee Road

Those approaching from Bosepukur will be guided through barricades on Rashbehari Avenue and Gariahat Road

Only cars and light vehicles will be allowed to ply on Gariahat Road. Buses will be allowed on the flyover. In case of congestion, all vehicles will be diverted down the flyover

Police will allow about 70 cars to be parked below the flyover

HRBC officials claimed they have already started repairs under the flyover. “We hope to complete it before the Pujas,’’ an official said. But he was non-committal about repairing Gariahat Road. “Senior officers will take a decision,’’ he added.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
The city police solved the murder of three youths in Mumbai on Monday, with the arrest of two goons in Baruipur. The arrested duo confessed to the killings, that took place six months ago, during interrogation on Monday. They were handed over to the Mumbai police.

The accused, Mustaque Ahmed and Afsar Alam, were rounded up in Baruipur during an overnight raid conducted by Mumbai and Calcutta police. Two girls, Rani and Mithu, friends of the arrested duo, were also detained.

Investigators are on the look-out for another youth, Saukat, who was involved in the killings. Saukat has been absconding from the day of the murders.

Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department, said the three youths — Mohammad Sanaullah, Mohammad Mazhar and Sheikh Babloo — were murdered in a guest-house in Bhendi Bazar, in the J.J. Marg police station area, on February 21. Next day, the killers fled Mumbai. “The victims and the accused belong to Metiabruz and Garden Reach. They left the city two years ago to work as labourers in Mumbai. But later, they turned criminals,” added Mitra.

After interrogating the duo, the police came to know that the three youths were murdered as they had attempted to molest Rani and Mithu. “On February 20, Sanaullah, Mazhar, and Babloo stormed Ali Hussein Hotel, in the Dharavi slums near Bhendi Bazar, where Rani and Mithu were staying, with their henchmen. The trio tried to molest the two girls. Saukat was badly injured when he tried to resist the attackers,” said Mitra.

“When we returned from work, we saw bloodstains on the floor of our room. Then, we decided to kill the trio,” the arrested duo told the police. “So, we went to Kurla Market and bought hammers and knives.”

“On February 21, around 8 am, we stormed Gujarat Guest House, where the trio had put up. We saw Sanaullah, Babloo and Mazhar smoking charas. We smashed their heads with the hammer. Before leaving, we slit their throats,” said Afsar.

Mitra said: “A team from Mumbai arrived in the city three days ago. They had sought our help in February, immediately after the incident. Initially, we had picked up a youth from a slum near Garden Reach. After interrogating him, we came to know about the other accused.”

Investigations revealed that Rani and Mithu had been taken to Mumbai two years ago. “Initially, they used to work as bar-dancers in Mumbai. They made several trips to Dubai as cabaret dancers. Subsequently, the girls started living with Afsar and Mustaque,” added Mitra.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Mayor Subrata Mukherjee and the civic contractors are on a Rs 10-crore-bargain row over resuming work. The contractors have been on strike for the past six months over arrears. A pre-Puja facelift of the city’s roads, parks and gardens, apart from maintenance of sewer lines, calls for an early resolution of the dispute between the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the contractors.

“The pre-Puja facelift is urgent but the CMC is not in a position to get it done by new contractors because of an interim order of Calcutta High Court,” said Mukherjee on Monday.

At a meeting on Thursday, Mukherjee agreed to pay the contractors Rs 30 crore of the Rs 109-crore dues. The contractors’ forum had demanded disbursement of at least Rs 40 crore. “A burden of an extra Rs 10 crore will be too much for the fund-strapped civic coffers, from which I have already paid Rs181 crore,” said Mukherjee.

The contractors will convey their stand on resumption of work to Mukherjee by Tuesday.

Asish Kumar Bhanja of the forum said the dues of the contractors and suppliers, up to August 2001, could be met if Rs 40 crore was disbursed by the CMC. He said the contractors’ total arrears from December 2000 to March 2002 had accumulated to Rs 109 crore.

A split, however, is imminent among the civic contractors, said mayor’s council member Sovan Chatterjee on Monday. “On Sunday, about 200 contractors of Cossipore, Behala and Garden Reach have already expressed their desire to resume work,” he claimed.

Condemning the statements of the mayor and his council member, president of the forum Sudhendu Kumar Chatterjee said on Sunday: “They are trying to give the issue a political twist.” He said the CMC had admitted in court that around Rs 180 crore was outstanding over the past 21 months. “Over 768 of the 3,000 contractors had submitted their bills up to March 2002, totalling Rs 63.01 crore, to the court,” Chatterjee said.

Mayor Mukherjee said the CMC, on an average, would disburse Rs 205 crore annually to pay the contractors their dues, and this year, Rs 181 crore had been been disbursed before the forum started its ceasework.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Calcutta might get its first ‘A-to-Z’ map by this financial year. The map, prepared by the National Atlas & Thematic Mapping Organisation, affiliated to the department of science and technology, government of India, will contain detailed information of the city on a ward basis. “Work on the project is almost complete, except the editing,” said G.N. Saha, joint director of the organisation, on Monday.

“The map will come out in the form of a diary. We expect to publish it before February 22, the birth centenary of Prof S.P. Chatterjee, eminent geologist and founder of the organisation,” said Saha.

“All information on individual land-holdings, important landmarks, basic service functions, community centres, lanes and by-lanes will be shown in the map,” he added. The scale factor has also been added to it.

The project was taken up by the organisation three years ago, with the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) providing infrastructure. The price, however, is yet to be decided upon.

Earlier, a map of Salt Lake was released by the organisation at the last book fair. “However, Calcutta A to Z will contain more information,” said K. Mukherjee, secretary of the committee that will celebrate the birth centenary of Prof Chatterjee.

The organisation also plans to publish monographs, reprint versions of Bengali maps, a primary school atlas in Bengali, disaster maps of East and West Midnapore and Malda.

Le Plateau de Meghalaya, a book written by Prof Chatterjee in French, will also be published during the centenary celebrations, the organisers said.


Calcutta, Aug. 19: 
Latching on to the explosive potential in IT-enabled services, the government today announced a six-point policy that would shape the expansion of the sector.

The administration meant business. At least that is what it tried to put across. A MoU (memorandum of understanding) was signed and three companies providing IT-enabled services were allotted land in Salt Lake before chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee unveiled the new policy at the rotunda in Writers’ Buildings.

“Though we had a late start, the IT sector in Bengal has registered a 115 per cent compounded average growth rate between 1996 and 2001,” the chief minister said. “Now the IT policy needs updating, and that will be done soon. But before that, we need to focus on the short-term, where IT-enabled services is an important factor.”

The services include back office operations, call centres, content development and animation, data processing, medical transcription, payroll processing and website services among other things. The sector is expected to grow by 75 per cent and generate Rs 7,100 crore by 2002-end, says Nasscom. IT services, on the other hand, is expected to grow by only 23 per cent.

“Bengal and Calcutta are well-placed for growth in IT-enabled services. The quantity and quality of our science and computer engineering graduates is more than adequate, our electricity supply and telecom connectivity (both BSNL and Reliance) are good. The district headquarters are connected now,” Bhattacharjee listed.

A recent Nasscom study on the prospects of nine cities as destinations for IT-enabled services has ranked Calcutta fourth.

In fact, “27 business process outsourcing units, or call centres, already exist. Andhra Pradesh has 24. The units here are run by associate groups of the Birlas, Tatas, TCG and Price Waterhouse”, the study says.

The chief minister today said talks with Wipro, IBM and GE for projects on IT-enabled services “were in the final stages.”

The MoU signed today was between Webel and Jayshree Infotech, an IBM partner.

A Jayshree spokesperson said IBM would help in co-branding and co-marketing the proposed facility.

The chief minister said: “We have studied the state’s position and, to achieve our vision of ranking among the top three IT states in India by 2010, with 15-20 per cent of the country’s total IT revenues, we have decided to:

declare IT-enabled services a public utility service;

grant these units establishment status under the shops and establishments Act;

allow round-the-clock, 365-day working (call centres are involved in international activities and with markets abroad and India is well placed for day-night work with the US and Australia having about 12-hour time differences);

provide through law good working conditions for women during night — rest rooms, transport;

have a system of an extra holiday for those who work overtime (more than 48 hours a week);

provide financial and tax incentives to investors to start projects on IT-enabled services —exemption from consumption tax, stamp duty and electricity duty, among others).

“A mega project will get more incentives,” Bhattacharjee added. Infotech minister Manab Mukherjee, chief secretary Souren Roy and representatives of the IT-enabled services sector were present at the policy unveiling.


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