Mother and son stabbed
Strike legal work on
Taxis go off road today
Daughter�s launch, star�s relaunch
High promises for slums
Relative held in murder
Buddha told of bridge assault
Tripura hostages released
Biju Dal fields minister�s wife for Aska bypoll
Former MLA son to contest Assam seat

Calcutta, May 9 
A former marine officer and his mother were stabbed to death by three masons at their Shibpur residence on Tuesday morning. The mariner�s 12-year-old daughter, who was seriously injured, is in hospital, battling for life.

Two of the assailants have been arrested. They have told the police that they killed the mother and son after the mariner, who had charged them with stealing Rs 6,000 while they were working at his house, refused to part with their equipment.

�We have arrested Khurdush and Lal Chand. A hunt is now on for the third killer, Sheikh Siraj, who is also a mason. Siraj may have struck the first blow,� said inspector-in-charge of Shibpore police station, Swapan Bagchi.

The masons have confessed to stealing the Rs 6,000 from the residence of Ashim Mukherjee, 45, and his mother, Namita, 65, a few days ago while repairing the two-storeyed building.

Thereafter, Mukherjee asked them not to work.

�Mukherjee also refused to allow them to take their wooden boards unless the stolen amount was returned. This resulted in a dispute, which might have led to the murders,� Bagchi added.

The masons told the police they were unable to work in other places without the boards. This was causing them a huge loss.

The prime accused, Siraj, had gone to the house a couple of days ago and threatened the woman with a sharp weapon for not allowing them to take the wooden boards, investigators said.

On Tuesday morning, he carried out the threat. The silence in Ramkrishnapur Lane broke at the crack of dawn when the three members of the Mukherjee family screamed for help after being repeatedly stabbed.

All three masons, aged between 20 and 28, came to the house and pressed the doorbell around 5.45 am. Namita was awake and opened the door. On seeing them carrying knives and choppers, she raised an alarm.

Immediately, they began stabbing her and entered the house. The pet dog started barking on seeing the woman being attacked.

Hearing the commotion on the ground floor, Mukherjee came down from his bedroom in his lungi and tried to ward off their attack. The assailants pounced on him, resulting in a scuffle.

In the meantime, the girl, Sayani, woke up and came out of the bedroom. She was dumbfounded to see her father and grandmother bleeding profusely.

The killers immediately stabbed her on the hand and leg. Somehow, she managed to flee to the top floor of the house, where she fell unconscious on the floor of the kitchen.

The assailants returned to Mukherjee and his mother and stabbed them repeatedly. They bled to death on the spot. While Mukherjee�s body was found on the stairs, his mother�s was sprawled on the ground floor.

A ground floor tenant of the Mukherjees, Somnath Majumdar, said: �I heard a lot of cries and the dog barking. I came out and called out to the Mukherjees. It was then that I heard their cries for help,� he narrated.

Soon some people gathered outside the Mukherjee residence. Seeing the crowd, the masons escaped from the back door.    

Calcutta, May 9 
When the Left Front enforces a bandh this Thursday, its advocate-general, Nara Narayan Gooptu, will actually be at work.

Gooptu has invited his counterparts in other states to a meeting in Delhi that will � guess what? � discuss how to make bandhs, strikes and ceasework legal.

In 1997, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had upheld a Kerala High Court judgment banning bandhs, strikes and ceasework, terming them �illegal.�

Now, Gooptu insists the bench which passed the judgment was not a Constitutional bench. �We want to place the matter before a larger bench of the Supreme Court challenging the decision,� he said.

All political parties consider organising such action a part of their inalienable democratic right, Gooptu argues. It is in this context that the advocates-general will try to formulate their appeal.

�If bandhs are illegal, then why is the Supreme Court not taking any action against industrial closures and lock-outs?� Gooptu asked.

Gooptu said that the advocates-general of many BJP-ruled states were also in favour of having the right to call for bandhs. �The BJP, too, calls for bandhs to highlight political issues,� the West Bengal advocate-general said.

Gooptu has already faxed the agenda of Thursday�s meeting to all the states. �The advocates-general of BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have assured me that they will be present at the New Delhi meeting,� Gooptu said.

Besides the contentious issue of the bandhs, the meeting will also discuss the demand to set up a National Judicial Commission.

�We want the panel to be a five-member body that will decide on judges� appointments, promotions and impeachment,� Gooptu said. The commission would also seek to make judges accountable.

Setting up of regional circuit benches of the apex court will be another demand that the advocates-general will place before the President and the Centre.

Gooptu said an important issue that the advocates-general will address was that of vacancies in courts.

Nearly 50 posts of judges are vacant. �In Calcutta High Court alone, there are 23 judges� posts that are yet to be filled up,� Gooptu said.    

Calcutta, May 9 
All taxis will remain off the road on Wednesday to protest alleged harassment by the police, among other things.

The strike is likely to be total, as the call has been given by Progressive Taximen�s Union (PTU) and the Bengal Taxi Association (BTA) has supported it.

BTA president Kalyan Bhadra said his association supported the strike call as it was also to protest the police assault on BTA leaders last month.

During the day, bus, taxi and minibus operators deferred their plans to go on an indefinite strike, at the request of transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, who has invited their representatives to a meeting on Friday.    

Calcutta, May 9 
Pretty as a picture. That�s the first thing that strikes you about Madhuri Dixit (Nene). In the city to sign on the dotted line for the Emami-Madhuri range of �natural� cosmetic products, the actress had a chat with the The Telegraph:

On starting this new innings: I look forward to the challenge of creating something for the people with my experience.

Personal involvement: It will not be the clich�d �secret of Madhuri Dixit�s looks� kind of thing, but it will be an extension of myself.

Director�s special: Even as an actress, I believe I was in control of my characters. But yes, this will be something guided completely by me, so it will be completely natural and there�ll be no compromise on quality.

The Calcutta connection: My first film (Abodh) and now my first foray into a different field... This is a city I react to because of its varied people, its cultural tradition.

Filmi plans: I�ll be doing one or two films a year. It�s time to broaden my horizons.

Roles she is looking forward to: Chandramukhi in Devdas, because there�s something very poignant about her. I�m fascinated by the recreation of the character and the times. Then there�s Lajjya, which I haven�t yet finalised.

The future: People have seen Madhuri the actress. Now, they�ll see Madhuri the entrepreneur.

Who is Madhuri?: (flashes The Smile) That�s tough. Well, I�m someone who would like to do stuff sincerely, or not do it at all. I�m honest and truthful... Star daughter: Within 48 hours of �star son� Abhishek Bachchan�s �entry�, Calcutta played host to the launch of �star daughter� Konkona Sen-Sharma. The daughter of Aparna Sen and Mukul Sharma is starring in Ek Je Aachhe Kanya. �A contemporary film� that takes a closer look at �teenage crime in an urban milieu�, it also stars Sabyasachi Chakrabarty and Debasree Roy and is slated for a Puja or winter release.

After doing bit roles in four films, Konkona decided �to take the plunge� after she found the script �very interesting.� �I do not feel the pressures of being a star daughter because I�m certainly not competing with my mother. I�ll only do films that interest me,� smiled Konkona, a final year English (Hons) student at St Stephen�s, Delhi.

�She insisted that she would be a journalist, but I always knew she�d be an actress,� signed off mother Aparna.    

Calcutta, May 9 
Sops for slum dwellers, a promise to take firm steps to curb illegal constructions, better civic amenities for residents of highrises and rationalisation of rules to check the haphazard growth of multi-storeyed buildings in the city are some of the key points of the CPM�s manifesto for the June civic polls.

The party aims to wrest block votes from slum-dwellers, which can ensure an overall victory against the Trinamul Congress-BJP combine this time. Last time, the CPM-led Left Front secured 45.03 per cent votes, against 54.97 per cent votes polled by the united Congress, BJP and other Opposition parties. Lack of unity between the Congress and the BJP, however, has helped the CPM and other Left Front partners form the board in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation(CMC).

However, the party is wary about the outcome of the attempts of the Trinamul Congress, BJP and the Congress to have seat adjustments in order to put up a 1:1 contest against the Left Front nominees in most of the wards.

The CPM�s Calcutta district committee initially planned to release the poll manifesto on Monday, but had to defer it till Wednesday after Benoy Chowdhury�s death.

Aware of the tendency of a section of �unscrupulous promoters� to grab bustee land, the manifesto has tried to allay slum-dwellers� fear of getting evicted. The party has promised to stand by them in their bid to fight the realtors, despite many of the latter being backed by local leaders.

The district committee, which met on May 3 to finalise the draft of the civic poll manifesto, revealed that 40 per cent of the city�s population lived in about 2,500 registered slums. Apart from these registered bustees, there are many slums having lakhs of people belonging to the low-income group. The party has alleged that pretty little has been done to improve the slum-dwellers� lot under schemes like the National Slum Development Project and Basic Minimum Services for the development of city slums.

The district committee also called for establishment of more health units, primary schools and adequate supply of water and electricity to meet the slum-dwellers� basic requirements. It urged the CMC to relocate some of the primary schools from upmarket areas to the slum zones to impart education to slum children.

The party had earlier received reports from its local, branch and zonal committees expressing �dissatisfaction� over the existing civic amenities in different wards.

The district committee is also in a bind over what is now generally known as �promoter raj�. The government is trying its best to stop illegal construction. It has already formulated the Promoters Act and made it mandatory for realtors to register themselves before undertaking constructions.

�But some promoters are trying to bypass the government and grab slum land. We have to check this,� a party leader said.It is, thus, apparent that the party has not been able to adopt a clear-cut policy, vis-a-vis the menace threatening city environment.

While harping mainly on local issues, the CPM�s poll manifesto also highlights the Centre�s move �to dismiss all elected civic bodies in the country.�

According to urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharya, the Centre intends to appoint administrators and experts to run the civic bodies. �I had strongly protested against Union urban development minister Jagmohan�s move to carry out this plan at a meeting held on January 16 and 17,� he said.

Sources said the CPM intends to highlight this aspect of the Centre�s urban development policy in its campaign for the CMC polls.    

Calcutta, May 9 
In a swift counter-operation 12 hours after the murder of underworld chieftain Chandan Basu, alias Baban, Behala police picked up Loton Basu, a trader and Baban�s relative, from Sarsuna. In a written statement to police officers on Monday, Baban�s mother, Swati Basu, had named Loton and three others as the main accused.

Tension continued to simmer in Behala and New Alipore through the day, with anti-socials patronised by Baban blocking James Long Sarani for an hour on Tuesday morning.

Baban�s associates, wielding lathis and rods, went to shops in New Alipore, Taratala and areas surrounding James Long Sarani, threatening owners to down shutters or face the consequences. A bandh-like situation prevailed till sundown.

Residents of the area alleged that about 100 people, mostly women, armed with broomsticks, bricks and lathis, gathered in front of Panchali restaurant on James Long Sarani where Basu was shot dead on Monday morning.

The young men in the crowd made a futile attempt to stone some buses but police presence in large numbers prevented a repeat of Monday�s violence.

Senior police officers from Behala and New Alipore police stations visited the area.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Baban was killed by rivals. According to the officer-in-charge of Behala police station, Subir Chatterjee, Baban sheltered many criminals on the run. Police officers investigating the case said many of Baban�s men had deserted his camp lately and switched loyalty to rivals in Thakurpukur and Burashibtala.

A couple of days before he was killed, Baban told one of his associates that he had information of a plan by his henchman-turned-rival, Pulak, to kill him.

Deputy superintendent of police Subhankar Chatterjee said Baban had a key role to play in incidents of land-filling in the area. Baban was working for a promoter, Chunilal Mukherjee, and had clandestinely filled up many ponds in the area.

�There was a case against Chuni Mukherjee and he surrendered in court. An officer is investigating the case and Baban�s name figures in the probe. We hope to file the chargesheet shortly,�� he said.

Trinamul leaders visited Baban�s house on Tuesday and condemned the killing.

Another killing: Subrata Bhattacharya, alias Lakshman, 28, was found murdered near Sakunir Math in Behala on Tuesday.

Local councillor Sovan Chatterjee said Subrata had left home with three friends early on Tuesday morning.    

Calcutta, May 9 
Subhrangsu Bhattacharya, professor of a college and also son of a senior CPI leader, on Tuesday lodged a complaint with home (police) minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, explaining how he, his wife and another couple were beaten up by the police on Sunday night on Vidyasagar Setu and then detained overnight at Hastings police station.

Subhrangsu said he could not, however, meet the minister at Writers� Buildings during the day as he was at Benoy Chowdhury�s funeral procession. �I handed over the complaint to Bhattacharya�s private secretary, who promised to pass it on to the minister for necessary action,� he added.

But the CPI state committee appears to have ignored the matter, claiming that the party headquarters had so far not received any complaint on the incident.

Answer scripts found: About 200 answer scripts were found floating in a canal in Parnasree, in Behala, on Tuesday, triggering an agitation by students, guardians and local people.

The English answer scripts, floating in Begar Khal, belonged to Class IX students of Parnasree Vidyamandir. Students, guardians and local residents blocked Khudiram Bose Road, in Parnasree, for about two hours.    

Agartala, May 9 
Having achieved its objective of ensuring victory for the Indigenous People�s Front of Tripura in the recent Autonomous District Council elections, the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura has begun releasing the hostages it had blackmailed Left Front candidates with, prior to the elections.

Police sources said Parbati Reang, wife of CPI leader Manindra Reang, returned home yesterday after nearly a month in captivity.

Manindra Reang contested and won the Birchandranagar-Kalsi seat in South Tripura despite his wife�s abduction from Bagafa on April 9.

Parbati Reang had reportedly begun refusing food and become weak, forcing her captors to set her free. Another person to be released yesterday was 68-year-old Sarbajay Reang, the abducted father of the CPM candidate for the Damcherra-Jampui seat, Rajendra Reang. Hari Debbarma, father of the CPM candidate for the Mandai-Pulinpur seat, also returned home unhurt.

Two other abducted CPM workers from the Jampui area �Manindra Reang and Jankaia Reang � were freed over the past 24 hours.

However, Left leader Mangal Debbarma�s wife and infant son are yet to be released. Drabir Tripura, the abducted brother of CPM candidate for the Karamcherra seat, Gajendra Tripura, is still in captivity.

Mangal Debbarma went into hiding a couple of days before the elections and announced his withdrawal from the poll fray. However, none of the other leaders whose relatives were abducted bowed to the militants� demands. NLFT militants had abducted altogether eight relatives of Left candidates.

Council formation: The Indigenous People�s Front of Tripura today sought the Governor�s permission to form the new Autonomous District Council.

�Since the Governor is in New Delhi, we met his aides and handed over a letter,� said party general secretary Harinath Debbarma. He said the IPFT delegation also met chief executive officer of the district council, M. Nagarju, at Khumlung. �The chairman of the council will be elected on Friday and the swearing-in ceremony is slated for May 19,� Debbarma said.

CPM worried

The CPM leadership is concerned over the erosion of the party�s base in the tribal areas, evident from the debacle in the district council elections.

The Indigenous People�s Front of Tripura won 18 of the 28 elective seats, leaving the CPM with only 10 seats.

The CPM leadership feels tribal leader Dasarath Deb�s death in October 1998 and veteran politician Nripen Chakraborty�s expulsion three years earlier were the major reasons behind the party�s fall from grace.

The Gana Mukti Parishad, the Tribal Students� Union and the Tribal Youth Federation � all organisations affiliated to the CPM � have also become virtually non-functional. Sources in the CPM said most state committee members were critical of the party leadership for its failure to assess the situation before advancing the elections by three months.

The members opined that steps should have been taken to keep militant outfits in check before announcing the polls. �It is not clear who is in power here, the IPFT or the Left Front,� a state committee member said.    

Berhampur, May 9 
Candidates for the byelections to the Aska parliamentary constituency in Orissa filed their nomination papers at Chatrapur today. The byelections are slated for May 26.

The seat was earlier represented by chief minister Naveen Patnaik who resigned from the Lok Sabha to contest the Assembly elections this year.

Kumudini Patnaik, wife of finance minister Ramkrushna Patnaik, filed her nomination papers as the BJD candidate. She was accompanied by a galaxy of state ministers and BJD-BJP legislators, including revenue minister Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, health minister Kamala Das, panchayati raj minister Surendranath Nayak, minister of state for sports and science Ranendra Pratap Swain, minister of state for food supplies R.N. Nanda and Ramkrushna Patnaik himself.

However, the representative of the Khallikote Assembly segment of the Aska parliamentary constituency Sugnani Kumari Deo, who is locked in a political tussle with Ramkrushna Patnaik, was absent.

Congress candidate Umakant Mishra, who is the Ganjam district unit president, also filed his nomination papers today.

Mishra was accompanied by Usharani Panda and Simanchal Behera, Congress legislators from Sorada and Jagannath Prasad. Former Berhampur MP Jayanti Patnaik also accompanied Mishra.

District Congress general secretary Chittaranjan Das said PCC president J.B. Patnaik was expected to visit Ganjam on May 10 to chalk out the campaign strategy.

Two other Independent candidates, K. Sham Babu Subudhi and Binod Panda, also filed their nomination papers for the byelections today.    

Silchar, May 9 
Altogether nine candidates have filed their nomination papers for byelections to the Karimganj North Assembly seat in south Assam.

The BJP has fielded M. Ranjan Das, while the ruling Asom Gana Parishad has named Abdul Karim Mohammad Ali Murad Choudhury as its candidate.

The Congress candidate is Madhavendra Dutta Choudhury, president of the Karimganj district unit of the party.

Murad Choudhury is the son of Sirajul Islam Choudhury, the AGP legislator whose death in March necessitated the announcement of byelections.

The Karimganj North seat, which includes the district headquarters town of Karimganj on the Indo-Bangladesh border, has a 1,39,000-strong electorate.

Returning officer and Karimganj deputy commissioner L. Phangcho said 180 polling booths would be set up in the constituency. Polling is slated for May 26. Observers feel the AGP will be able to retain the seat.

Kohima nominations

Altogether two nomination papers have been filed for the by-election to the Tyui Assembly constituency in Wokha district scheduled to go to the polls on May 26.

Nagaland election office sources said T. A Ngullie has filed his nomination on a Congress ticket while C.Y. Kithan is an Independent candidate. Today was the last date for filing nomination. Scrutiny will be done tomorrow.    


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