Jilted lover leads cops to Bypass killers
Student drowns in campus pond
Arms unit raid
Life is balancing act, says Bawa
Police fire to ward off bomb attack
Drunken duo on rampage trail
Poll candidate beaten back
IPFT in crisis as Koloi resigns
Koijam plea on rebel package
MTDC not a sick unit, say employees

Calcutta, March. 10: 
A jilted lover helped the police arrest all the three accused, including the gang leader, involved in the killing of a former state government officer on the EM Bypass and the subsequent snatching of his belongings 10 days ago. Police recovered the briefcase from their possession.

The trio, identified as Kancha, Phuchka and Raju, confessed to the investigating officers that they had beaten up the couple before snatching their belongings.

Around 11.10 pm on February 28, Gopal Krishna Roy (60) and his wife, Samita, were attacked on the Bypass by the three goons near Captain Bheri while returning to their Salt Lake residence.

Debkumar Ganguly, superintendent of police, said Kancha, the 23-year-old gang leader, had masterminded the entire operation along with his other two associates. �He hit Roy on the head with a bamboo, which has already been recovered. Police, however, are looking for another member of Kancha�s group,� Ganguly added.

One day after the incident, police came to know about the role of Kancha and his associates in the incident. Soon, altogether 30 policemen started raiding different hideouts in the nearby Chingrighata-Tiljala area. But the overnight raids yielded no arrests.

Police, then, divided themselves into four groups and started raiding other dens in Hooghly, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas. �We even went into Khanakul, a remote pocket in Hooghly district, but couldn�t track down anyone,� said an investigating officer.

After questioning a number of persons in Chingrighata area, police came to know that Kancha and his associates had taken refuge in the house of Chhabi, a middle-aged female vendor in the Tiljala area, at Ghutiari Sharif, in the Canning area.

The cops then started questioning Chhabi�s former lover, Rabi. Rabi had been in love with Chhabi two years ago. But the woman refused him and finally started living with Laxman, one of the his close friends, in Ghutiari Sharif.

�Rabi helped us a lot. He guided us on Thursday night to Ghutiari Sharif. But he could not locate the house. So we had to come back again,� said a police officer.

On Saturday afternoon, plainclothes sleuths laid a trap at the local bazaar in Ghutiari Sharif. Kancha, finally, appeared and unwittingly strode into the police net. He broke down during questioning and disclosed the whereabouts of his other two associates, Phuchka and Raju.

Ganguly said the goons are residents of Chingrighata. �These criminals are experts in two-wheeler snatching. Two years ago, Tangra police arrested Kancha�s three associates while they had assembled for committing a dacoity. That time, Kancha managed to escape. This is the first time he has been arrested,� he added.

Police are now looking for those persons who buy the snatched items from these goons. �If we can track down the receivers, it will help us unearth a big racket,� said Ganguly.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
When the phone rang suddenly at Ashoke Sen�s Salt Lake residence on Friday afternoon, he was not prepared for the news the caller was conveying: His only son, Arijit, was missing. Arijit was a final-year student of civil engineering at Bengal Engineering College, in Shibpur.

Sen rushed to Shibpur, but when he arrived, he found his son dead.

Arijit and 15 classmates had played boisterous holi all morning and then proceeded for a bath in the campus pond. Suddenly, one of his friends noticed that Arijit was missing.

A classmate ran to Arijit�s room to check if he had slipped out of the pond quietly and returned early. But he was not in his room. It took another 15 minutes for his friends to realise that Arijit had drowned in the pond.

His body was extricated after another 15 minutes. But by then, it was too late. Blood was oozing from Arijit�s nostrils and mouth. He was rushed to Howrah General Hospital in a police jeep, where he was declared �brought dead�.

�When I told Arijit to stay back home for holi, he told me he wanted to celebrate the day with his friends,� recalled his father, desperately checking his tears.

Arijit had been offered a job in a software company with an annual pay packet of Rs 2.5 lakh. He was to head straight for Noida after his finals.

�My son could swim. I still can�t understand how he could drown in such a small pond, surrounded by 15 others,� Sen said. Arijit�s mother refused to leave her room after hearing of the tragedy.

�The actual cause of death will be known only after we get the post-mortem report,� said Swapan Kumar Bagchi, officer-in-charge of Shibpur police station.

According to Bagchi, when Arijit�s body was raised by two qualified divers, his legs were entangled in weeds. �Some people did try to resuscitate him, but it was futile,� added Bagchi.

One of Arijit�s classmates, an eyewitness to the incident, confirmed that Arijit had never ventured to bathe in a pond before. �He had had a bypass surgery a couple of years ago. But after playing holi with us, he joined us for a bath in the pond,� said the friend, preferring anonymity.

According to some other friends who were bathing with Arijit, they had decided to swim across the pond.

�We all knew the pond is very shallow and poorly maintained. The college authorities too had earlier warned us not to get into the pond. But, we just decided on the spur of the moment to take a swim... The entire incident happened so fast. I still cannot believe that Arijit is no more,� he added.

Amaljyoti Sengupta, vice-chancellor of Shibpur BE College, expressed his shock at the incident.

�This is for the first time that a student has drowned on the campus. We had repeatedly warned the students not to bathe in any of the ponds. Arijit was one of the brightest students of the department,� Sengupta added.

According to Pradip Kumar Ray, registrar of the university, the pond was on lease to a private company. �We had erected a fence around the pond but it has broken down,� the registrar added.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
Striking at dawn, the police smashed an arms factory at Baruipur and arrested the owner with an accomplice on Saturday. A well-finished, magazine-fitted rifle and the gun-making instruments were impounded.

Preliminary investigations reveal that a couple of weeks ago, the factory was set up in the area to supply arms and ammunition to cadre of different political parties during the Assembly elections.

Debkumar Ganguly, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, said: �The arrested men have confessed to making the firearms against orders.�

Police were tipped off on Friday about the house of Akbar Ali Mollah, at Dhubdhubi Sherpur, that was being used as a firearms factory. Officer-in-charge of Baruipur police station, Basab Das, along with his force, cordoned Mollah�s single-storey house.

The cops then stormed the house and nabbed the duo. �The culprits were caught while they were making the arms.

Police first arrested Mansoor Ali Mandal and then picked up Mollah, the owner of the house,� Ganguly added.

Both Mollah and Mandal told the investigating officials that they had supplied a number of powerful firearms to cadre of different political parties.

�The duo told the cops that the orders were placed with an eye on the Assembly polls,� said a police officer.

Ganguly added: �We are questioning the duo to track down the buyers and their political affiliation,� added Ganguly.

The price tag on the firearms depends on their calibre. �The range is between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 for each hand-made rifle,� Ganguly added.

The district police have chalked out a plan to form a special team to look after the �arms bazaar� in South 24-Parganas. �We are going to conduct pre-poll raids in different areas,� said a police officer.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
When a hotel sponsors a major exhibition of a star artist�s latest works, does it dwindle into an event? Or is it taken as seriously as it would have been in an art gallery? It is a little of both.

When Governor Viren J. Shah opened the first show of Manjit Bawa�s drawings sponsored by Taj Bengal and organised and curated by Sam�a, headed by Ina Puri, on Saturday evening, the sun-lamps were trained on both the dignitary and the artist.

But that shouldn�t detract from the fact that these were some of Bawa�s best drawings, particularly the ones related to circus acts and trapeze. The effect was even more stunning because the artist had blown up many of them to wall-to-wall dimensions, while some were miniatures.

As Bawa has said in an earlier interview, he has been drawing for the past 45 years and the power of his draughtsmanship is quite evident here. Unlike his paintings, many of which are on display at this exhibition too, there is no exuberance of colours. His charcoal lines and the void they exist in are what matter most.

His most significant drawings are about brinkmanship, life lived on the edge, where one teeters before the abyss but manages not to topple over. The ringmaster cracking the whip subdues the ferocious lion, boys in loincloth light as air swing from a pole a man balances on his navel, a little child, who is apparently levitating, is held aloft by a bearded man who is a Bawa lookalike. The artist holds trapeze artists in suspension as they momentarily touch each other�s fingers. Simian counterparts of these highfliers make merry as they hang from trees. They could have been caricatures as well. But instead of being merely risible, these drawings have a rigid discipline that give them a philosophical dimension.

As Bawa says: �Life is a balancing act. Circus is one word for life. It is the complete word for life. It has a sense of adventure and it requires the maximum perfection of body. It is also touched with humour.� His drawings are a metaphor for this tightrope walk that life is.

Myths and legends are the raw material of Bawa�s paintings. Many of his drawings, too, are made of similar stuff.

His Kamala, or Lakshmi by another name, is a many-armed woman embraced by a baby elephant. He quotes Sufi poetry as he depicts the cowherd playing the flute who could be the blue god or the legendary lover Ranjha as well. A boy is about to be stabbed by a man whose feet he bends forward to touch. �This refers to the 1984 riots. The head of state is about to knife his child. It also refers to the story of Abraham. In Sufi verse, there are references to Hebrew and Buddhist tales. These are multi-layered and the layers overlap.�

The two bitches with ripe udders show Bawa the animal lover at his best. He displays tenderness without lapsing into sentimentality or anthropomorphism.

The hype generated did not go to waste. Many of Bawa�s drawings were snapped up even before the Governor had arrived.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
The police were forced to open fire in the face of a bomb attack by a gang of four miscreants in a narrow lane in the Regent Park police station area of south Calcutta on Friday evening.

According to police, personnel of Regent Park thana were tipped off around 7 pm on Friday about a group of miscreants who had assembled in Ijadaulat Lane �with criminal intentions�. As the police arrived on the spot, the goons boarded a taxi parked nearby and attempted to flee. They hurled bombs at random as the taxi sped off. The police then opened fire and chased the taxi. The miscreants got off the vehicle and melted into the crowd. No arrest could be made.

Residents of the area later held a demonstration in front of the police station, demanding pickets in vulnerable spots. They also sought police help to form a vigilante group.

CM opens seminar: Chief minister Buddadeb Bhattacharjee inaugurated a seminar on disability awareness-building programmes on Saturday morning. Health minister Partha De, Assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim and Suryakanta Mishra, minister for panchayats, land and land reforms, were present.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
Two drunk youth in a Maruti van went on the rampage in a residential complex on Barin Ghosh Sarani, in the Maniktala police station area, hurling bombs, damaging eight cars and injuring four persons on Saturday afternoon. The duo finally drove off.

Police said the youth stormed into the crowded street around 1.30 pm and forced their way into Arabinda Bhawan, a residential complex. Suman Chowdhury, a local, said he noticed a car come to a screeching halt in their area. �The duo got off and started breaking the windscreens of the cars parked in the basement,� Chowdhury said. The residents left their flats to chase the drunks. �Two of them caught hold the duo. But, suddenly, the goons whipped out a razor and started slashing us,� added Chowdhury.

On their way out, the duo hurled bombs. Two residents received splinter injuries. Police suspect Bhola and Som, �known anti-socials of the area�, of the attack.


Calcutta, March. 10: 
Kalyan Banerjee, a city advocate nominated as a Trinamul Congress candidate from Asansol, was severely beaten up when he arrived in Burdwan to launch his campaign.

Banerjee was forced to take the next train back home. The Asansol police said Banerjee had been manhandled by the local Trinamul supporters.

Independent run

Former BJP councillor Shantilal Jain, stung by the party�s decision not to renominate him, on Saturday decided to contest the Jorabagan Assembly constituency as an Independent candidate. Jain said on Saturday night that he would contest the seat to protest the leadership�s decision to sideline those who had played key roles in yesteryears.

The BJP secretariat held a marathon meeting on Saturday afternoon in presence Union minister of state for communication Tapan Sikdar.


Agartala, March 10: 
In a new twist to the ongoing feud in the Indigenous Peoples� Front of Tripura, senior party leader and chief executive of the autonomous district council (ADC) Debabrata Koloi tendered his resignation to the district council chairman Hirendra Tripura.

Koloi�s letter did not specify why he was resigning from the 28-member council. Neither was he available for comment. His detractors in the IPFT had, in deputation, met Governor Lt. Gen. (retired) Krishna Mohan Seth on March 7. They submitted a memorandum seeking his ouster saying 11 out of 18 elected members in the council demanded his removal.

Sources said the �anti-Koloi campaign� was masterminded by party president Harinath Debbarma, an arch rival. This was followed by hectic parleys among elected members.

The Governor referred the issue to the government last night and sought its opinion.

An emergency Cabinet meeting held this morning decided that the government had no opinion on the matter and said the Governor was free to pursue any course of action under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule.

Sources said the party�s �invisible friends� (National Liberation Front of Tripura rebels) had intervened directly in the infighting and given the �green signal� for Koloi�s ouster after the budget session of the council. This was done to �prevent the ruling CPM from taking any advantage�.

However, senior IPFT leaders had convinced the �invisible friends� that the CPM would �pose no problems in the budget session�. The final directive asking Koloi to step down was passed yesterday, sources said, adding that he took no time in complying with the NLFT diktat.

Party sources said resentment against Koloi had been brewing because of the council�s failure to provide even minimum relief to the impoverished tribals over the past 10 months.

Vacant posts

The Tripura government is oblivious of the number of posts lying vacant in various departments. This became evident in the ongoing session of the state Assembly.

Replying to a query from Congress MLAs Billal Mia, Jawahar Saha and Dipak Roy, state minister for human resources Faizur Rahaman said there was no �ready-made information� on the number of posts lying vacant in government departments though �information is being collected�.

Regarding the number of those registered unemployed, the minister said there were 3,38,870 registered unemployed persons in the state. Of these, 1,14,492 were educated unemployed Congress MLA Ratan Lal criticised the government for setting aside funds from budget allocations to personal ledger accounts of officers and utilising it for political purposes. Speaking on the supplementary budget placed by the government for the outgoing financial year, Nath said the government was illegally keeping part of the budget allocations unspent at the fag end of the financial year.


Imphal, March 10: 
Manipur chief minister Radhabinod Koijam has urged the Centre to provide a rehabilitation package for surrendered militants.

Koijam, on his recent trip to New Delhi, informed Samata Party leader and Union defence minister George Fernandes about the state�s unemployment problem and lack of funds for rehabilitating surrendered militants.

As there are no private industries and enterprises, the state�s over three lakh unemployed youth depend on the government for employment, Koijam said.

Requesting the defence minister to set up a �Manipur regiment� in the Army, Koijam asked him to organise special recruitment rallies in the state for various active services under the defence ministry.

Sources said Fernandes had assured the chief minister that the NDA government was keen to develop the Northeast.

The chief minister met Union health minister C.P. Thakur and urged him to provide a special package to tackle the AIDS menace in the state. He also requested the health minister to improve the infrastructure at the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.

Cabinet discussion

The Manipur Cabinet has discussed the unilateral ceasefire announced by the People�s Front government with all insurgent groups in the state in connection with the Yaoshang festival this month.

The co-ordination committee of the People�s Front will convene a meeting on Monday to review the progress of the ceasefire.

The Cabinet has sent its decision to the prime minister, home minister, defence minister and finance minister. It has also reviewed the 26-point action plan submitted to Union home minister L. K. Advani on January 6 by then chief minister W. Nipamacha Singh.

The Cabinet has decided to slash the perks and benefits given to ministers, secretaries and commissioners and provided STD facilities to finance and home department officials only.

Mawlai census: Residents of eight blocks at Mawlai, known as the heartland of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) will answer again the questions posed by census enumerators even as the operation was conducted by and large peacefully in Meghalaya, reports UNI.

Chief minister E.K. Mawlong said census would be redone in eight blocks of Mawlai as some armed antisocials disrupted its operation by snatching relevant documents from the enumerators.

On February 18, the HNLC had threatened the enumerators with dire consequences if they did not stop their operation immediately. The outfit alleged that the public was intimidated by the enumerators while getting their questions answered.

After issuing the threat, reports of disturbing the enumerators and snatching of papers were received on many occasion in a few blocks of Mawlai.


Shillong, March 10: 
The Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation Employees� Union has opposed the government�s branding of the corporation as a sick unit and its bid to privatise it.

Addressing a news conference here, union president S.D. Marbaniang and its other members denied that the corporation was a loss-making unit. They asked the government to instead seek out answers to the huge losses by probing into the managerial decisions made over the years. They alleged that the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) was incurring losses because of mismanagement.

The union leaders said the government had identified tourism as a highly viable industry for the state and that the MTDC had an infrastructure to exploit this.

�The MTDC could be the finest example of tourism in the Northeast, but corruption and mismanagement have obstructed the development of the corporation,� an MTDEU release said.

According to the union, privatisation is not the answer to the corporation�s redemption. �In order to rectify the defects in the management, the government should completely root out corruption from the corporation,� they said.

The union urged the government to effect reforms in the management and order a probe into the failure of different MTDC projects such as the Crowborough hotel project and the Flying Duck project at Umiam. It also urged the government to look into the just-completed but non-starter projects like the Cherrapunjee Orchid restaurant, the Wayside Orchid Hotel at Nongpoh and the closure of Thadlaskien Orchid Hotel.

The union also demanded an inquiry into the fire at the water sports complex at Umiam where a large number of boats were gutted.

It also asked the government to look into the mismanagement in the MTDC�s transport unit. The union said two brand new chassis were purchased and given for body construction in 1993, but the buses are nor visible even eight years.

The union also asked the government to look into the �destruction� of the lower floor of the Orchid Hotel at Polo Hills. The union alleged that the 20-room floor was handed over to the Institute of Hotel Management in 1999, but the IHM left it in a �destroyed� state. The union urged the government to see to it that the IHM restored the floor, as the loss of revenue was huge.

The union has decided to go on a strike from March 26 if the government continues to turn a deaf ear to its grievances. Their demands include payment of arrears with effect from January 1, 1996 to April 30, 2000 and payment of house-building advance.


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