Row over attendance cripples BE College
Monk dies at Belur Math
Rampage after clash
Teenagers,child killed in collision
Residents foil burglary attempt, cops �indifferent
Koijam on thin ice despite MSCP aid
Rebels back in mainstream
ONGC to resume work in Nagaland
N-E churches unite in protest
CPI meet on poll debacle

Calcutta, May 19: 
Students of Shibpur Bengal Engineering College (Deemed University) are up in arms against the college authorities� decision to debar some students from taking the exams because of insufficient attendance. A series of agitations led to the suspension of all academic activities at the college on Saturday.

After having failed to convince the authorities about their demand in a string of discussions since Friday night, some students began an indefinite hunger-strike on Saturday morning in front of the main administrative building.

In a bid to ensure strict enforcement of the university�s rules concerning students� attendance, the authorities had decided that they would not allow any student to appear in the final examinations this time if they were found to have attended less than the stipulated number of classes.

The authorities had announced earlier last week that nine students from various departments would not be allowed to sit for the exams, slated to begin next Tuesday, as they had not attended 60 per cent of the total number of classes held during the last academic session.

The announcement caused resentment among the students. They refused to accept the decision as it was unprecedented in the university to debar any student from writing the examinations on grounds of insufficient attendance.

They approached the college authorities, requesting them that the decision be reconsidered. There were at least three final-year students on the list of �discollegiate students�, who had already secured jobs with well-known companies. �A sudden decision to prevent the students from sitting for the examinations will harm their career. If the authorities were really keen to improve students� attendance rate, they should have informed us earlier, a student said.

Trouble broke out on the campus on Friday evening after the authorities refused to budge from their stand.

Around 7 pm, a large number of students held a sit-in in front of the vice-chancellor�s chamber and held a demonstration. They refused to lift the blockade till their demand was met, and insisted that the vice-chancellor and other senior officials stay back till a solution was reached.

Vice-chancellor Amal Jyoti Sengupta summoned the heads of all the departments and held a series of meetings with them.

The meeting continued till Saturday morning but the decision remained unaltered. This infuriated the students, who started a hungerstrike around 9.30 am. The hungerstrike continued till late in the evening.


Calcutta, May 19: 
Swami Hiranmayanandaji Maharaj, former general secretary of Ramakrishna Mission, died at the Mission headquarters at Belur Math on Friday night. He was 91.

He was suffering from stomach cancer, besides various other ailments. He was cremated at Belur Math.

Initiated in 1929 by Srimat Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, he joined the order at Belur Math in 1933. He was elected a trustee of the Ramakrishna Math and a member of the governing body of Ramakrishna Mission in 1973. He served as the general secretary of the order between April 1985 and February 1989. He was the founder-secretary of Purulia Vidyapith.

He was well read in Sanskrit, Bengali and English literature. He also authored a number of books.


Calcutta, May 19: 
CPM supporters damaged vehicles, pelted stones at buildings and blocked the Central Avenue-Grey Street crossing and the Rabindra Sarani-BK Pal Avenue intersection on Saturday following a clash with Trinamul activists.

The CPM party office was ransacked during the encounter. Traffic was disrupted for more than an hour.

Tension ran high after Amal Karmakar, a Trinamul Congress supporter, was allegedly beaten up by some CPM workers around 11.30 am at a market in the Shyampukur police station area.

A couple of hours later, Karmakar returned with other Trinamul supporters and ransacked the CPM party office at Jorasanko. They damaged a vehicle.

CPM supporters lodged an FIR with the Shyampukur police station and held sit-ins at Rabindra Sarani and Central Avenue, demanding �immediate arrest of the culprits�.

The blockades were lifted later after police intervened. No arrest has been made.


Calcutta, May 19: 
Five teenaged boys and an eight-year-old child were killed on Saturday morning when a Tata Sumo they were driving in collided with a truck on Kalyani Expressway. Seven youths were seriously injured in the accident.

All the injured youths were first taken to Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital. The doctors, later, referred five of them to Calcutta hospitals because of their serious condition.

The six victim was identified as Pappu (8), Sanjib Das (19), Santosh Raut (18), Umesh Raut (16), Ramprasad Raut (14), and Lakshman Raut (17). Police said all the 13 boys lived in Kalyani.

Shankhasubhra Chakraborty, sub-divisional police officer, said four persons, including the driver of the Tata Sumo vehicle, died on the spot, while two others succumbed to their injuries on the way to hospital.

The accident occurred around 5.30 am near Buddha Park in Kalyani. All the 13 boys were returning home after attending a marriage at Mogra in Hooghly district.

According to preliminary investigations by Kalyani police, Sanjib, the chauffeur, was driving drunk. �Apparently, the 19-year-old driver was drunk on hooch and he lost control over the vehicle which collided with the truck,� Chakraborty said.

According to eyewitnesses, many of whom were out for their early morning constitutional, the Sumo was zooming at 120 km per hour. The drunk driver did not even try to control the vehicle�s speed while taking a turn.

Ratan Saha, an eyewitness, said: �The empty truck first screeched and then overturned and the Sumo collided with it. The front of the vehicle was completely smashed,� Saha recalled.

The SDPO said the driver of the truck escaped. Police impounded both the vehicles. Traffic movement was disrupted for over half an hour.

Servant stabs woman

A 45-year-old housewife was seriously injured when a domestic help stabbed her late on Friday at Moor Avenue, in the Regent Park police station area. Police said the Nepali servant, who was employed three days ago, snatched a gold chain before fleeing. His brother, who was working at a neighbour�s house, also went missing from Saturday morning. The woman was admitted to a city nursing home in a critical condition.

Trader�s son kidnapped: Mohammad Habibur, the 14-year-old son of a leather businessman was kidnapped from their Park Circus residence on Friday night. Habibur�s parents lodged a complaint with the police. Business rivalry might have led to the abduction, police said. Police are conducting raids on hideouts. No one has been arrested.


Calcutta, May 19: 
A burglary attempt on a flat on New CIT Road, in the Entally police station area, on Saturday morning was foiled after family members and neighbours raised an alarm. While fleeing, the miscreants snatched a gold chain from the flat-owner, police sources said.

Local people alleged that policemen patrolling the area took no initiative to nab the gang.

Around 9.15 am, four youths stormed K.N. Bhanshali�s flat on the first floor and bolted the door from inside. When the gang ordered Bhanshali to hand over the jewellery, other members started shouting. The miscreants rushed out of the house and one of them snatched Bhansali�s gold chain.

Local people chased the gang and asked policemen, who were patrolling nearby, for help. But the police allegedly declined to chase the burglars.

�When we pointed the way the gang had fled, the police replied that the route did not fall under their jurisdiction, though their van was parked at a stone�s throw from the flat,� said local residents.

Man kills daughter

A one-and-half-year-old girl was killed by her father on Wednesday morning at Lolabag in Old Malda. Tapan Saha, the father, who allegedly threw the baby on the ground in a fit of a rage, was arrested. Subrata Mishra, deputy superintendent of police, town, said: �Saha was a mason and he frequently quarrelled with his wife, accusing her of infidelity.�


Imphal, May 19: 
A question mark hangs over the fate of the three-month-old Radhabinod Koijam-led People�s Front ministry. The ongoing battle between the state units of the Samata Party and the BJP has engendered a situation where imposition of President�s rule is a distinct possibility.

Another partner of the National Democratic Alliance at the centre, the Manipur State Congress Party (Chaoba) led by Union minister of state for food processing Thounaoujam Chaoba Singh, has decided to support Koijam during Monday�s vote of confidence.

The other faction of the MSCP, led by Nipamacha Singh, has also decided to vote in favour of the confidence motion moved by the Koijam ministry.

Despite the decisions taken by both factions of the MSCP, Koijam is still short of a majority for surviving the revolt by dissidents inside the ruling People�s Front. Though the central BJP leadership has directed its state unit to support the Koijam ministry, the dissident camp led by BJP legislature wing leader R.K. Dorendra Singh appears determined to oust Koijam.

With Speaker Sapam Dhananajoy now putting his lot with the dissidents, Koijam is neck-deep in trouble. So far, the chief minister has managed to survive because of strong backing from NDA convenor George Fernandes.

The continuation of the Koijam government is a prestige issue for Fernandes as it happens to be the only Samata government in the country. However, with the front unable to decide on the leadership issue, the special session slated for Monday will seal the chief minister�s fate.

Speaker Dhananjoy today said he would try to ensure a peaceful session. Elaborate security arrangements have been made at the Assembly campus in view of the tense political situation.

The Speaker said he was being �neutral� in the ongoing political tussle and appealed to the members for smooth conduct of the session.

Chaoba Singh is trying hard to maintain a neutral stance to avoid a further split in his party. Members of his faction are present on both sides.

Chaoba Singh did not want to take any hasty decision, sources said. Some members of his faction have demanded the resignation of the chief minister.

However, Chaoba Singh has blamed the Speaker for the present political crisis.

The BJP, whose current strength is 26, may face a split as the majority of the members disagree with the BJP high command�s decision to back Koijam. While 25 MLAs are backing Dorendra Singh in ousting Koijam, senior party leader Haobam Bhubon Singh is with the chief minister.

Sources added that the BJP legislators held a closed-door meeting to devise a gameplan to topple Koijam. There is the possibility of them defying the party whip to defeat Koijam in the trust vote.

The dissident camp has sent a letter to the national president of Samata Party, saying that 40 MLAs have withdrawn from the ruling People�s Front.

The letter was signed by Nationalist Congress Party leader C. Doungel, Federal Party of Manipur leader Gangmumei Kamei and BJP leader Paonum Achou Singh. Confusion now prevails about the exact number of the MLAs supporting and opposing Koijam as many legislators are believed to be playing a �double game� to ensure that they remain in the side that eventually emerges the winner.


Agartala, May 19: 
True to the expectations of security forces here, two hardcore area commanders of the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura laid down arms in a simple ceremony at the Assam Rifles headquarters. The militants surrendered to Satyendra Kumar, deputy inspector-general, Assam Rifles and K. Salim Ali, inspector-general (law and order).

The area commanders belonging to the dissident Nayanbasi faction of the NLFT deposited one Chinese semi-automatic rifle and one 7.62 self-loading rifle. After the surrender, each of the commanders were given Rs 15,000 in cash and were promised other rehabilitation benefits, including jobs in the Assam Rifles.

Sources in the Assam Rifles said NLFT area commanders Brinda Halam (30) and Saral Jamatya (20) were active in Sylhet area in Bangladesh, opposite to North Tripura�s Kailasahar subdivision.

Frustrated with the internecine group clashes in the NLFT and the �lack of direction of the unending insurgency,� the duo decided to cross over to Tripura and surrender.

They entered Chowmuhuni Bazar area and contacted the Assam Rifles camp. Later, they were brought to the camp of the 22nd battalion of the Assam Rifles in Ambassa area of Dhalai district. Having quickly made arrangements for the surrender, the officers of the 22nd battalion sent Halal and Jamatya to Agartala.

The formal surrender took place at 3 pm today. At the request of the duo, Assam Rifles made arrangements to provide security to their families.

Addressing newspersons, Halam and Jamatya said they hailed from South Tripura and had joined the NLFT three years ago. They admitted to have organised several attacks on civilians and security forces in areas under their command.

Regarding their decision to lay down arms, Halam said, �Discontent among the lay cadre of the NLFT was rising sharply over hard jungle life, lack of any direction and on grounds of ethnic and religious divide.� They said many others in the NLFT were keen to surrender and settle down to a normal overground life.


Kohima, May 19: 
The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, which stalled operations in Nagaland in 1994, will resume operations in the state under a new set of terms and conditions.

Stating this at a news conference here, state chief secretary R.S. Pandey said the corporation had assured the state government of providing additional remuneration, apart from the royalty on crude oil.

The government and various NGOs have been approaching the Centre as well as the ONGC authorities to resume operations in the state under a new set of terms and conditions.

Accordingly, a series of discussions were held between the two sides.

The final decision was taken recently during a meeting in New Delhi where officials from the petroleum ministry, the Nagaland government and the company participated.

The corporation withdrew its operation from the Champang oil fields in Wokha district, bordering Assam, in April, 1994 after militants� depredations.

The petroleum ministry also agreed to float global tenders in case of other prospective oil/gas fields in Nagaland.

The state government favoured a �consortium� of companies interested in investing in the hydrocarbon sector in the state.

Pandey said the ONGC had agreed to undertake socio-economic development of the local areas and offer employment to qualified youth of the state.

Oil operations in the remaining areas would be decided through international bidding, he added.


Guwahati, May 19: 
All churches in the Northeast, irrespective of their affiliations, have condemned the killing of three parish priests in Manipur on May 15.

�We have received solidarity from the Baptists who have joined hands in condemning the incident which has sent shockwaves through the community,� said Father George Plathottam, director of Don Bosco Communications.

The Catholic Bishops� Conference of India urged the Prime Minister and the Union home minister to ensure the safety and protection of the missionaries in Manipur who have become victims of mindless violence in recent times.

The Vatican Ambassador in India, Archbishop L. Baldisseri, as well as the head of Don Bosco organisations worldwide, Father Juan Edmund Veechi in Rome, have condoled the death of three priests. Condolence messages also poured in from Africa, Spain, the Fiji islands and elsewhere.

Vice-provincial and Salesians of Don Bosco, Dimapur, Jonas Kerkatta said eight Catholic schools in the Imphal valley had received demand letters from insurgent groups in March last year. �Each demand note was worth Rs 5 lakh and was raised to Rs 25 lakh later,� Kerkatta said.

Kerkatta said the letterhead on which the demands were sent belonged to the Revolutionary People�s Force. �Negotiations were held with the militant outfit but they failed,� he said.

Father Kindo, who was one of the three killed, had in fact given Rs 30,000 to the rebels when they had asked them to line up on the field. �We have asked the Manipur government to apprehend the culprits immediately and punish them,� Kerkatta added. All Catholic schools in the Imphal valley have been closed for the last three months and many of the school staff evacuated and sent to different places of the country.

�It is better to close the schools rather than risk the lives of the children,� the Church leader said, adding that the attacks on educational institutions were unwarranted. Kerkatta said the political situation in Manipur was fluid and the government there had failed to ensure the safety of Christians.

The funeral of the three priests was performed yesterday at the Salesian Cemetery at Dimapur. The bodies were brought to Dimapur in a motorcade and hundreds of people lined up in the streets to pay their last respects. Bishop Jose Mukala of Kohima presided over the funeral services attended by over 3,000 people.

A peace rally was held in Shillong yesterday and was attended by students of nearly 80 schools and colleges at the Don Bosco Mini-stadium. Chief minister E.K. Mawlong was also present on the occasion and a six-point resolution passed, condemning the act. Mawlong and other ministers registered �shock and grief� and condemned the incident while appealing to the youth to abjure violence. Father Andreas Kindo hailed from Jharkhand. Six Church workers had been killed in Manipur since 1990.

The rally which was jointly organised by the Archdiocese of Shillong and the Conference of Religions of India, Meghalaya unit, urged the government to stem the bloodshed. The CBCI has sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Union home minister L.K. Advani and Manipur chief minister Radhabinod Koijam.


Guwahati, May 19: 
A two-day meeting of the state unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) began here today to examine the reasons for its poll debacle. The party had to bite dust in the recently-concluded Assembly elections as neither the CPI nor the CPM won any seat.

The CPI and the CPM had won two and three seats respectively in the 1996 Assembly elections. The defeat of flood control minister Pramode Gogoi from Sivasagar came as a major shock to the party.

State secretary (in-charge) Bhogeswar Dutta said the meeting would analyse the reasons for the defeat of the CPI and the People�s Front. The latter included the CPM, CPI and the Samajwadi Party.

�It will also take stock of the new political situation in the state in which the Congress emerged as the leading party� he said. With regional parties nowhere in the picture, the party would study the various permutation and combinations possible to play an influential role in state politics.

The party would try to strengthen its organisational base and enlist more members to get active support from the masses. Insufficient campaigning during the elections was a reason for its bad performance, sources said.

�The CPI has lost its appeal among the masses in the state and has nothing to offer by way of action,� said a political observer.

CPI national general secretary A.K. Bardhan had earlier said the Left parties would play a crucial role in Assam if no party got a majority. The CPI which was a member of the AGP-led four-party-alliance quit the alliance on April 2, a month before the Assembly election. Party leaders said a strong anti-incumbency wave and weak organisation were reasons for the defeat of the party.

Many felt the party�s sudden withdrawal of support to the AGP made it unpopular with the masses. �If the CPI did not agree with AGP�s policies and programmes, it should have never joined hands,� said a party leader.

Kokrajhar bandh

Normal life was paralysed in Kokrajhar district following a dawn-to-dusk bandh called by the All-Bodo Students� Union today.

The Absu called the bandh to protest the killing of two of their activists in Hashratbari village on May 10.

Kokrajhar deputy commissioner J.E Kathar said the bandh was peaceful and no untoward incident had been reported from any part of the district. Trucks on the national highway were plying under police escort, he added.

Business establishments and financial institutions, including banks, remained closed.


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