Robbery at petrol station, lakh stolen
Pre-dawn raid nets Behala goon and girl
Shops gutted at Beleghata
Bangla pirates abduct fishermen
Accuser and accused land in prison
Sunday meet for Mamata rethink on NDA option
Tonsure slur on CPM

Calcutta, June 9: 
In a 15-minute operation early on Saturday morning, four goons stormed a petrol pump in Cossipore, fired guns and fled with Rs 1.10 lakh.

Of the two persons injured in the firing, one is reportedly in a critical condition. It happened within 48 hours of a robbery in central Calcutta, in which dacoits made off with Rs 10 lakh.

According to Banibrata Basu, deputy commissioner, detective department, four men, aged between 20 and 22, drove to the petrol strength at the BT Road-Kasinath Dutta Road intersection in a Tata Sumo around 1 am. The goons stepped out of the car and ran towards the petrol station office, where six persons, including the manager and one of the pump owners, were present.

On seeing them approach, Aloke Kotal, an employee, came out of the room.

The men fired at him from point-blank range, but the bullet grazed his forehead. Kotal slumped on the ground, bleeding profusely.

Three members of the gang then stormed the office, while one stood guard at the door. They whipped out revolvers and pointed at Jayanta Dutta, a manager of a travel agency who was there to clear his dues. The goons ordered him to hand over his belongings. �As Dutta hesitated, one of them hit him on the head with the butt of a revolver. Dutta had to shell out Rs 4,000,� the detective department chief said.

The goons, who spoke both Hindi and Bengali, forced Sanjay Konar, the petrol pump manager, to hand over the key to the locker. Then, pushing him aside, they took out the money and stuffed it in a gunny bag.

�The man at the door called out to the Tata Sumo driver, who drove close to the office. The men jumped in and fled towards Sinthi More,� said Nandan Nath Sarker, another employee.

Employees of the petrol pump took Kotal to a local nursing home, but the doctors advised them to shift him to a place with better facilities. Kotal was then admitted to AMRI Hospital, where he underwent a surgery.

Jawahar Bhowmik, one of the petrol pump owners who was present during the robbery, informed Cossipore police station. Officers of the detective department went to the spot and conducted an inquiry. �Our experts have collected articles to get fingerprints of the dacoits,� Basu said.

Police are also probing the reason behind the goons attacking only Kotal. �It may be possible that Kotal knew the goons, who shot him to finish him off. We hope to get some information on the attackers once Kotal is interrogated.�

However, doctors at AMRI prevented the police from interrogating Kotal on Saturday. �The hospital authorities said he was still in a critical condition and was shifted to the intensive care unit,� Basu said.

Investigation is on to find out whether the same group was involved in the robbery at the Century Plyboard India Ltd office in Lyons Range, near Writers� Buildings, on Wednesday. �The goons were of the same age and the modus operandi in both cases was daring. We shall compare the fingerprints collected from both spots of attack. We are waiting for a report from our experts. We have already got some leads in the plyboard office robbery case,� said the detective department chief.


Calcutta, June 9: 
A criminal of Behala and his girlfriend fell into the police net in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday. The couple, Chandan Das, 26, and Maya Swarnakar, 23, were picked up from a hideout on Bhupen Roy Road, in the Behala police station area.

The duo was produced in Alipore court on Saturday. Chandan was remanded in police custody, while Maya was sent to jail custody.

Chandan was wanted in a number of cases like murder, extortion and robbery, said Subhankar Chatterjee, deputy superintendent of police (town). �About 18 cases have been registered against him at Behala police station alone. Of these, four are murder charges. Chandan had been arrested earlier in connection with the Oxytown murder case in which four persons of a family were hacked to death,� Chatterjee said.

Police did not have prior information about Maya and came to know about her while conducting the raid. Preliminary investigation revealed that she was a member of the gang headed by Chandan. Maya was involved in his brown sugar trade.

�Her arrest will help us find out if other girls were involved as well,� Chatterjee said.

Police had been on their trail for the past one month. Subir Chatterjee, officer-in-charge of Behala police station, said: �We received a tip-off on Friday afternoon that Chandan had taken shelter in Behala. A plan was chalked out and accordingly, a team of 15 policemen was deployed at Bhupen Roy Road from the evening. Mobile vans sealed off all the major outlets and plainclothesmen, posing as hawkers, kept a close watch on the area. In the early morning, six policemen broke open the door and stormed the house.�

Chandan, a gangster, has been operating in the Behala, Thakurpukur and Amtala areas for the past few years, police said. He would extort protection money from realtors, who were constructing highrises in Thakupukur and Behala.

Police, however, claimed that with the arrest of Chandan, all the gangsters of this crime-prone area were now behind bars. �Altogether 150 criminals � including criminals like Jishu Jain, Dabloo Singh, Mona Bhai, Ganesh Chhetri and their accomplices � have been arrested recently.�

According to police, the crime rate in the locality has dropped considerably with the arrests. While 23 persons were murdered in Thakurpukur in 1999, the number dropped to nine in 2000. There were only two murders this year. �We are on the lookout for those miscreants who are still at large,� the DSP added.

Freedom-fighter dies: Santosh Kumar Chatterjee, a former Indian National Army officer posted in South-East Asia, died on June 7. He was 90. Chatterjee was founder member of Leather Exporters Manufacturers Association.


Calcutta, June 9: 
Three shops on Beleghata Main Road were gutted on Saturday morning. Three fire engines were pressed to douse the blaze. Police said around 9 am, residents of the area saw smoke billowing from a shop. The fire brigade was informed and firemen fought to control the fumes for over an hour. No one was injured in the incident.

Rs 1 lakh looted: A man, posing as a bank employee, made off with Rs 1 lakh from a customer. Nitin Adarsh, an employee of a jewellery shop, was counting cash on Saturday afternoon at HDFC Bank on Lansdowne Road, in the Ballygunge police station area, when a middle-aged person, pretending to be a bank employee, asked him to collect a deposit form. When Adarsh returned to the counter after collecting a form, he found his bag missing.


Calcutta, June 9: 
Bangladeshi pirates struck for the second time in the past two months, kidnapping seven fishermen on Thakuran river under the jurisdiction of Kultali police station in South 24 Parganas on Saturday morning.

The police said there were at least 21 fishermen in seven trawlers. The pirates took away seven of them at gunpoint. The others were released on condition that they pay up Rs 1 lakh to their men at Canning Ghat by Tuesday. The pirates threatened that the abducted seven would be killed, if the amount did not reach them within the stipulated time.

Minister of state for Sundarbens development Kanti Ganguly, who was at Pailan to attend a ceremony, had to cut short his speech and rush to Kultali. Senior officials, including superintendent of police Deb Kumar Ganguli, also visited the site. Sub-divisional police officer, Baruipur, Kallal Ganai, said police teams from all three adjoining stations had been pressed into action. The Border Security Force has also been alerted.

Of the seven abducted fishermen, four have been identified. They are Rainan Ali, Kata Moitra, Nirmal Halder and Baudev Gharami, all residents of Mathurapur.

Govinda Pradhan of South 24-Parganas Fishermen�s Union expressed concern at the growing incidence of abduction in the Sundarbans.

�Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee had promised to put an end to such crimes while campaigning in the area before the Assembly elections. He seems to have forgotten what he had said,� he said.


Calcutta, June 9: 
In a novel case, both the accused and the accuser landed behind bars on Saturday.

Ainul Haque, the accused and a resident of the Beniapukur police station area, was held in connection with a Rs 13-lakh fraud case, while the Ekbalpore police station picked up Wajir Ahmed, the accuser, an NRI with British citizenship, on charges of car theft. Both are now in police custody.

Banibrata Basu, the city detective department chief, said Ainul was arrested on the basis of a complaint by Ahmed on June 6. Ahmed claimed that he had invested Rs 13 lakh to start an ice manufacturing unit in Howrah. Ainul had promised to pay him 80 per cent of the profit.

�He found out that Ainul had sold off the machinery,� Basu said. The arrested Ainul claimed that Ahmed had stolen his car. Consequently, the NRI was arrested.


Calcutta, June 9: 
Bowing to pressure from party MPs to rejoin the NDA without delay, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has convened a meeting of party MPs on Sunday to discuss the �crucial� issue and brief them about the outcome of her mission Delhi.

Mamata was in Delhi for nearly a week to meet President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and brief them about the �terror unleashed by CPM� after the Assembly elections. She also called on Union home minister L.K.Advani and NDA convenor and Samata Party leader George Fernandes to discuss the possible re-induction of her party into the NDA.

Trinamul sources said party MP Ranjit Panja has organised Sunday�s meeting at his Barasat residence. All party MPs have been invited, barring rebel Ajit Panja.

Though the Trinamul leader was unavailable for comment on her return to Calcutta, party officials said she was toying with the idea of rejoining the NDA after party MPs prevailed on her to give the issue a second thought at a meeting in Delhi on June 6. �All six MPs of the nine present there were in favour of rejoining the NDA,� party MP from Panskura, Bikram Sarkar, said.

Sarkar warned on Saturday that there would be a split in the party if Mamata delayed her decision. �We must rejoin the Centre to provide protection to party workers who have been rendered homeless in the districts,� Sarkar said.

Rebel MP Ajit Panja expressed happiness on Saturday at other party MPs toeing his line. �It is good that others have realised that the return to the NDA fold is the need of the hour,� he said.


Calcutta, June 9: 
The CPM today ordered a probe into the alleged tonsuring of a women stenographer of the Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) yesterday by the Ganatantrik Mahila Samity, the CPM�s women�s wing.

Pratima Guria was allegedly tonsured and paraded for her alleged extra-marital relations at Haldia in Midnapore.

Midnapore police confirmed during the day that some women members from the samity joined those who had heckled Pratima Guria after one of her office colleagues, Biman Barman, had died at her quarters on June 2. Pratima, however, lodged an FIR against five women without pointing to any political affiliations.

�We cannot support physical assault on a woman even if she is proved guilty. We will certainly take action if our members are involved,� samity president Shyamali Gupta said tonight in Calcutta.

On June 2, Pratima�s colleague, Bimal Barman had died in her quarters. Pratima said her colleague fell ill on her way home. �I took Barman to my quarters and nursed him. Unfortunately, he died at my quarters before he was taken to the CPT hospital,� she said.

Irked by Barman�s death, some women entered Pratima�s quarters and dragged her into the streets. Then they tonsured her head and forced her to parade in public.

Debashis Bej, sub-divisional police officer, Halida, however, expressed his inability to arrest the five women named in the FIR. �These women are not thieves. So, we cannot arrest them simply on the basis of the FIR until a probe is completed,� he added.

Residents were also not satisfied with Pratima�s version. �Why not she took Bimal Barman to the local hospital instead of taking him to her quarters? The CPT hospital is a stone�s throw away from her quarters,� they asked.

Gupta said she was trying to get in touch with the Haldia municipality chairperson and samity leader in Haldia, Tamalika Ponda Seth. �I have sought details of the incident from other samity members. We have taken strong exception to the manner in which the woman was paraded with her tonsured head,� she said.


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