Report highlights criminal-cop nexus
Leading citizens fire Water salvo
Inter-school athletics meet after 13 years
Manipur gangs snatch ballots on election-eve

Calcutta, Feb 11 
Intelligence agencies in the state have blamed the police-criminal nexus for the deteriorating law-and-order situation in Bishnupur and Sonarpur.

According to a report prepared by the intelligence branch (IB) and the criminal investigation department (CID), most of the criminals terrorising residents and running satta and illicit country liquor dens in the area are being patronised by senior officers of Bishnupur and Sonarpur police stations.

According to senior police officers at Writers� Buildings, the intelligence agencies were asked to prepare a report by deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya after a series of violent incidents in Bishnupur, Pailan, and Sonarpur. The report was recently submitted to state director-general of police D.K. Sanyal.

Local CPM leaders from the disturbed areas have, reportedly, met Bhattacharya at the party headquarters on Alimuddin Street. They have complained against some officers of police stations in the area for openly shielding and helping the criminals.

Investigations have revealed that 25 out of 30 criminals on the �most wanted� list of local thanas and the CID are moving around freely in Bishnupur and Sonarpur.

Heading the list of criminals who have been spotted by residents are Munsef, Rashid, Pappu, Amar, Bishu and Chhoto. All are gang leaders who are said to maintain close links with senior police officers in the area.

According to a senior CPM leader of Bishnupur, the situation now is �alarming� as local people have started blaming the ruling party for the rise in crime.

�We do not dare step out of our homes after sundown. Every night, there are gang wars with gunfire and bomb blasts. The police have got all the information, but they refuse to act. In fact, officers discourage us to register complaints,�� alleged Shakil Ahmed, a resident of Pailanhat.

�Police and criminals go hand in hand here. Businessmen and ordinary residents pay protection money to criminals and they, in turn, keep the police officers happy,�� said Manas Bag of south Bishnupur.

But senior police officers of South 24-Parganas denied any nexus between the local police and criminals. Additional superintendent of police, south 24-Parganans, S.N. Gupta, said: �Some criminals have already been rounded up. We are conducting raids to arrest the rest of the gang leaders and their associates.��

But locals insisted that Munsef, Rashid and some other gang leaders continue to stalk the area quite openly. �We see them everyday, hobnobbing with police officers,�� added Shyamal Mondal, a resident of Sonarpur.

Bomb hoax: A bomb hoax disrupted work at the LIC and CBI offices in Taratalla on Friday morning. Police said a caller rang up the CBI office and warned of a powerful bomb capable of blowing up the building. The bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs searched the building but did not find the bomb.

Road block: More than 500 Trinamul Congress supporters blocked AJC Bose Road in front of Nilratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital on Friday to protest the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the state. Senior police officers persuaded the demonstrators to lift the blockade.    

Calcutta, Feb 11 
Artistes, academics and politicians from the city joined hands on Friday to condemn the way in which the saffron brigade and the Uttar Pradesh government sank filmmaker Deepa Mehta�s efforts to shoot Water in Varanasi.

Over 50 prominent personalities, including sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, economists Amartya Sen and Amlan Datta, filmmakers Mrinal Sen, Goutam Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh and Tapan Sinha, painters Paritosh Sen and Bikash Bhattacharya, actor Soumitra Chatterjee, theatre personalities Badal Sarkar, Ratan Thyam and Usha Ganguly, singers Manna Dey and Ajoy Chakraborty, authors Sunil Gangopadhyay and Bani Basu and footballer Chuni Goswami, have issued a joint statement condemning the �vandalism�.

The student and youth wings of the CPM, the SFI and the DYFI, held a protest rally at Esplanade in which speakers lambasted the �fundamentalist and fascist� forces of the RSS and the Sangh parivar.

The vice-chairman of Higher Education Council, Pabitra Sarkar, said the BJP-led government in Uttar Pradesh had done nothing to check the exploitation of widows in Varanasi and Vrindavan. �It is the Women�s Commission in West Bengal which went to the state to protest against atrocities on widows,� he said.

Vice-chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University Subhankar Chakraborty, former mayor Kamal Basu and environment minister Manab Mukherjee compared the Sangh parivar�s policies to those of Hitler and Mussolini.

�They want to determine the way in which people express themselves. Time and again it has been proved that these forces are finally thrown out by the people,� said Kamal Basu. Theatre personality Usha Ganguly and MLA Ajit Pande were among those who attended the rally.    

Calcutta, Feb 11 
A bold sporting venture in the city has proved to be a huge hit with generationext.

Druk Track Fest 2000 � the first inter-school athletics meet in the city since 1987 � has attracted 950 students from 98 city schools, and revived interest in the �mother of all sports�.

After five zonal heats, the meet concludes at the Rabindra Sarobar stadium on Saturday, where Olympian Sriram Singh will be present to inspire the aspiring athletes.

Also on hand will be talent-spotters from the Amateur Athletic Association, West Bengal, which has given �all technical support� to Track Fest.

The man behind the meet, Amit Sen of Altair Inc., said: �Getting off the starting blocks proved the toughest part. Once the idea caught on, the enthusiasm of the kids overruled everything else.�

Some ran barefoot, others with proper running shoes. Some were drawn by the spirit of participation, others driven by the ambition of sporting success.

Next year, the inter-school meet promises to be back � bigger and better.    

Imphal, Feb. 11 
Armed Kuki gangs resorted to booth-capturing in Henglep constituency of Manipur today, raising doubts about the security arrangements for polling in 28 Assembly constituencies tomorrow.

Sources in Henglep said the Kuki gangs snatched ballot boxes from polling officials and cast votes in favour of a particular candidate. Manipur chief electoral officer D.S. Poonia said he had received similar complaints and was trying to �verify facts�.

Poonia said he was worried about lack of security in Henglep. �I am not satisfied with the security arrangements in the hill districts. However, complaining about it is of no use. I have to make do with the forces made available by the Centre,� he said.

With the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) calling for a boycott of the elections and Kuki militants taking �active interest� in the polls, officials are apprehensive of violence during polling tomorrow. Manipur had demanded 414 additional companies of the Army and paramilitary forces for the elections, but the Centre agreed to deploy only 112 companies.

Of these, 72 are Army and Assam Rifles companies, while the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force account for 40 companies. Altogether 31 companies of the Manipur Rifles are providing security to the candidates.

A Janata Dal (United) candidate was killed by militants in Tipaimukh Assembly constituency last week. Army and Assam Rifles personnel are engaged in �area-domination� activities in Ukhrul, Senapati, Chandel and Tamenglong districts, while the BSF has taken charge of Churachandpur.

Three brigadiers are camping in the district headquarters of Ukhrul, Senapati and Chandel. Four helicopters will airlift ballot boxes from polling booths in the remote areas to the district headquarters.    


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