Encroachers evicted from hospital
Entry drama rocks Iskcon temple on Janmashtami
Stadium arrest blows lid off terror network
Workplace woes plague women
Cops on shady trader trail
Mamata man killed in violence rerun
Trinamul returns Congress fire
Dacoits lynched after heist
Study raises arsenic spectre
Govt trains legal gun on school

Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
In a massive eviction drive conducted by the health department, over 400 shanties that had mushroomed illegally on the premises of the Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital were destroyed on Saturday morning.

All illegal establishments, including shanties, tea stalls, offices of different political parties and clubs, were bulldozed in the 12-hour operation. According to the police, the drive was peaceful. Most of the dwellers had evacuated the hospital premises on Friday night after the health department publicly directed them to do so.

The drive began around 6.30 am with 460 employees from the Public Works Department, fire brigade and CMDA. Hospital superintendent Shyamal Kumar Rudra said: �The hospital had been suffering from power shortage and water crisis because of the encroachers.�


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
On Janmashtami, factional rivalry erupted at the Iskcon temple once again. Throughout Saturday, devotees armed with a court order �to take possession� of the Gurusaday Road property performed kirtan outside the gates, with police standing by. Their bid to enter the premises was thwarted by suspended Iskcon Calcutta president Adridharan Das and his disciples.

On Friday, the high court had granted Dayaram Das, entrusted by the Iskcon Bureau to take over the Calcutta operations, permission to conduct the function since Adridharan �has already been suspended...� Adridharan and his men vacated the Albert Road Iskcon temple on Saturday morning, but shifted base to the Gurusaday Road premises.

According to the court order, Adridharan is �restrained from interfering with the holding of the function� and from �having free ingress and egress into the temple premises�. But he claims that �the temple� only refers to the Albert Road building. But according to Dayaram, when the suspended president approached the court for a clarification on this point, �he was not even heard�.

Now, Dayaram and his group are pointing the finger at the police. �The police refuse to help,� said Dayaram. Ballygunge thana officer-in-charge Bikash Ray said: �The force is at hand to maintain law-and-order only. We can�t intervene on anyone�s behalf.�


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
CID officers probing the Salt Lake stadium scandal interrogated Gobinda Dey, a prime accused, throughout Saturday at Bhabani Bhawan. He was arrested on Friday on the charge of arranging accommodation for criminals in the stadium guest rooms.

Dey, an influential promoter in the Dum Dum-Lake Town area, is, reportedly, close to transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. He is suspected to be involved in a murder case and allegedly provided shelter to criminals and land sharks. When contacted at his residence, Chakraborty�s men said they had heard of Dey�s arrest but refused to elaborate. Chakraborty was not available for comment.

Officials said they were also looking for two of Dey�s accomplices. Interrogation of Jayanta Biswas and Pinaki Mitra, �protectors� of criminals in north Calcutta, has revealed their �nexus� with land sharks and gangs involved in abductions, extortion and smuggling of arms from Bangladesh.

CID officers indicate that the case took on a larger dimension after names of gangs operating in the area were brought to light. The city and district police are collaborating to net criminals involved in organised crime.

Criminals from Bongaon, Ashoknagar, Duttapukur and Dum Dum worked in tandem with smugglers. �These criminals ensure that goods stacked on bunkers of long-distance trains reach their destination safely. Smugglers are protected for anything between Rs 5 and Rs 15,000,� an investigating officer said.

Several gangs have been identified in the Duttapukur, Maslandapur, Gaighata and the Habra-Ashoknagar belt. Interrogation of Mitra and his accomplices has thrown light on a world of crime in the Lake Town-Patipukur-Rajarhat areas. Mitra allegedly gave shelter to Ramua Khatik and Bhagat, a part of a gang operating in the airport area, believed to be involved in abductions, including that of Mullickbazar trader Jai Prakash Gupta.

Two brothers of RN Guha Road, Akram Khan of Jopur, Probash of Gaighata, and Debu and Saheb of Rajarhat, feature high on the list of wanted criminals.

Interrogation of Pinaki Mitra revealed that a former owner of a Digha hotel had given him shelter. Mitra had helped him illegally fill up ponds in Lake Town and �get even� with his mafia rivals.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Thirty-five per cent of women in Calcutta have experienced �some form of sexual harassment in the workplace�; 52 per cent �fear the possibility� that harassment may occur; there is no particular �kind of woman� targeted, for harassment spans �hierarchy, age, payscale, industry and sector�. This, according to the first survey on the issue published in The Politics of Silence by an NGO, Sanhita.

Feedback was taken from 525 respondents (of which 165 were male) engaged in �private, public and government� sector jobs. �Around 50 per cent of men and women... denied that the offence has been committed or the menace exists in their office,� claims the report.

Surveyors also noted a difficulty for respondents to �define the term� sexual harassment. While 76 per cent of women felt that �physical touch� should be categorised as harassment, 67 per cent of men believed it should not. �Unwelcome behaviour with sexual overtones� was the most common offence (39 per cent) reported, while �non-verbal and verbal sexual gestures� and �physical harassment� were the other common complaints.

The offenders, according to the report, are most commonly the �boss or employer�, at 58 per cent, with around 68 per cent of perpetrators in private sector firms being the boss/employer. Around 47 per cent of the �harassers� are colleagues, while in public sector concerns, the �colleague� was the offender as often as the boss. Random people in the workplace, subordinates and clients or outsiders were also found to be frequent culprits.

The nature of harassment was also examined in the survey, which found that �quid pro quo or assurance of job security, increment or promotion in exchange of sexual favours� to be the most common in the private sector. Around 82 per cent of women who have experienced harassment in the private sector identify quid pro quo, while in the government sector, the figure drops to 47 per cent. �Hostile work environment� is the other major complaint.

The report reveals a huge gap between �reality and intent� about how to deal with a sexual harassment case. Around 67 per cent believe they would protest, while in reality, only 27 per cent actually did.

Respondents indicated reluctance to report harassers in �fear of reprisal by the management�. Other leading concerns are �fear of stigma�, and �work being belittled�. Around 92 per cent confirmed that the abuse had detrimental effects on their �work and subsequent relationships�.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
The Mumbai Police has informed its counterparts in Calcutta that at least five wanted criminals, who have fled the western metropolis, are now taking shelter in the city.

They are all linked to Mumbai underworld dons Subhas Dabbawale, Arun Gawli and Fazlur-ur-Rehman. All five, the Mumbai Police has informed, have been in Calcutta for periods ranging from six to two months.

The police said that arrested Mumbai contract killer and Dawood Ibrahim �link man� Abdul Gani Ghaffar Sheikh has provided some �vital information� on how the Mumbai underworld developed links with city criminals. The police said that Ghaffar had revealed during interrogation that some �dubious� city businessmen with shady dealings in Mumbai had taken the help of criminals there and it was through these businessmen that they had built up their contacts in Calcutta.

Police said Ghaffar had revealed the names of some of these businessmen. However, these names are being kept under wraps for the sake of investigations. �We have already started investigating the background of these businessmen and action against them will be taken soon,� an officer said.

The police have also learnt how the entire networking of the criminals is done through mobile phones. Six mobile phones were seized from Ghaffar after his arrest. The police said Ghaffar kept moving from one area to another during his six-month stay in the city.

According to the police, some of the criminals who gave shelter to members of the Mumbai underworld are Illyas, Sona, Gabbar and Pappu. Sona is currently on the run and is wanted in connection with the abduction of Khadim�s owner Parthapratim Roy Burman.

He is believed to be hiding in the Dhanbad-Asansol belt. A CID team has visited the area but has failed to arrest either him or three of his accomplices. They are believed to have headed for Rajasthan, a source revealed.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Barely five days after the murder of two Trinamul Congress workers, another party member was today killed at Lakshminarayanpur village under Joynagar police station in South 24-Parganas district. One person has been arrested.

Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee yesterday threatened to call a continuous strike in the state if the administration failed to arrest the murderers of Niranjan Sardar and Jyotish Sardar. Both were allegedly hacked to death by CPM activists on Monday night.

Officials said Debola Mandal (35), a member of Harinarayanpur panchayat, was dragged out of her residence around 2 this morning and hacked by unknown assailants.

Trinamul MLA from Canning (West), Gobinda Naskar, who visited the area after the incident, demanded a probe into the murder. �We want the police to be more active in the area where murders and other crimes are on the rise these days,� he said, adding that Mamata had been intimated on the incident.

Eyewitnesses said six miscreants armed with swords, bhojalis and other weapons had raided Debola�s residence. Getting no response after knocking the door, the assailants stormed into the room and attacked Debola who was asleep.

Preliminary investigation by Joynagar police revealed that the assailants dragged out Debola from her house and kicked and punched her. As Debola slumped on the courtyard, three gangsters hacked her.

Neighbours rushed to her residence after Debola raised an alarm. However, the attackers had fled by then leaving behind a profusely bleeding Debola. The neighbours rushed her to the Joynagar hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

Deb Kumar Ganguly, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, said a hunt is on to arrest the killers.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Stung by the state Congress� criticism of Mamata Banerjee for sharing a platform with NDA convener George Fernandes at Contai in Midnapore on Thursday, Trinamul Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay today accused the Congress of playing second fiddle to the CPM despite the party�s �post-poll terror in Bengal�.

�The Congress has joined hands with the Marxists at a time when Mamata is trying to combat state-sponsored violence and attacks on Opposition party workers. The party has once again started serving as the CPM�s B-team both in the state and in Delhi,� Bandopadhyay said.

�We will shortly come out with a document giving reasons that forced us to part company with the state Congress. The people will come to know about the party�s role after publication of the document,� the Trinamul leader said.

He pointed out that the Congress leadership did not take Trinamul MPs into confidence while organising a joint deputation with their CPM counterparts to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to discuss the revival of IISCO. �Congress chief whip Priya Ranjan Das Munshi met Vajpayeeji, along with Somnath Chatterjee of the CPM and Rupchand Pal, without informing us about it,� he added.

He said the CPM�s attempts to woo Congress leader Sonia Gandhi became apparent when Chatterjee met her four days ago, along with another party MP Basudev Acharya, to discuss floor coordination in the Lok Sabha.

Sources said the CPM�s initiative to mend fences with Sonia was one of the factors which prompted Mamata to seek an early return. The Trinamul chief, who had earlier expected the Congress leader to adopt an anti-CPM stand and change the PCC leadership after the Assembly polls, was dismayed by the recent bonhomie between the two parties.

Bandopadhyay said the state Congress� decision to take back the Independents responsible for the defeat of Trinamul nominees in many constituencies indicated that the party was never serious about maintaining the alliance. �The PCC virtually backstabbed our candidates during the polls despite seat adjustments,� he said.

Taking a potshot at former PCC chief Somen Mitra for questioning Mamata�s political integrity, Bandopadhyay said: �She is not power-hungry. She quit the NDA over the Tehelka issue but has decided to return as the government accepted our demand for a probe.� On the other hand, the state Congress never cared to launch a real movement against the ruling Marxists and always maintained a secret link with the party, he observed.

Caught on the wrong foot by Mamata�s decision to go it alone in Bengal even after deciding to return to the NDA, BJP vice-president Kailashpati Mishra today arrived here from Delhi to discuss the matter with state party leaders. Mishra later told reporters that the Central leadership would take the state BJP into confidence before finalising modalities of Trinamul Congress� return to the coalition.

State Trinamul leaders today held an informal discussion on the party�s proposed anti-CPM stir from Monday to protest against the twin murders at Sonarpur and other incidents of violence in the state. Mamata would be present at Sonarpur during the party legislators� dharna before the local police station demanding arrest of the culprits.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Villagers lynched seven dacoits after a hot-chase and seriously injured three others at Kakdwip late last night.

While seven dacoits were beaten to death another succumbed to his injuries. Five policemen, who tried to intervene, were also injured. The police, however, managed to rescue three dacoits and arrested them.

The incident took place at Auddibazar under Kakdwip police station. A gang of dacoits barged into a jewellery shop late last night and shot at its owner. The owner had a narrow escape as the bullet pierced through his right hand.

When the dacoits were fleeing with the booty, the shop owner raised an alarm. According to the police, the villagers intercepted the gang members, who hurled bombs at them. Some of the dacoits fled to paddy fields and others jumped into a river. The villagers caught up with them and lynched them. The police said the mob beat the dacoits with lathis and iron rods

Deb Kumar Ganguly, police superintendent of South 24-Parganas, said that a team of five officials from Kakdwip went to the site after they were informed about the incident. The mob turned its anger against the police as well. They did not want the police to come to the rescue of the dacoits.

The villagers alleged that the police had remained inactive in the area where a series of dacoities had taken place in the last few months.

The police managed to rescue three dacoits. A police picket has been posted in the area to keep a close eye on the situation, Ganguly said.

However, no arrests have been made in connection with the lynching. Two pipeguns were recovered from the dacoits, the police said.


Calcutta, Aug. 11: 
Food cooked with arsenic-contaminated water retains the poisonous chemical, studies conducted by the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health have indicated.

According to a study carried out by the institute, curries, pulses, tea and, to an extent, even rice made with arsenic-contaminated water are not free of the deadly chemical even after cooking or boiling. Though boiling of arsenic-rich water reduces its concentration, it increases concentrations in the distillate, or the concentrated extract.

Soluble forms of arsenic are known to be absorbed by paddy plants. Arsenic in plants, irrigated with contaminated water, has been found to be maximum in roots and lowest in the leaf and edible parts.

This is a matter of concern as roots of several vegetables are consumed by people.

Another report on arsenic contamination in some districts of the state says the situation is alarming. The report has called for immediate and united action by agencies concerned, the local administration and the people.

The report � �Concerted action on elimination/reduction of arsenic in ground water in West Bengal� � points out that many areas of Nadia and North 24-Parganas as well as some areas in South 24-Parganas, Murshidabad and Malda have been seriously affected.

Several stages of arsenicosis, the disease resulting from arsenic poisoning, have shown up in over 3,00,000 residents of these areas. As many as 50 lakh people are estimated to be at risk.


Burdwan, Aug. 11: 
The Burdwan district administration is contemplating legal action against the principal of St Xavier�s school for issuing letters to guardians of students. The letters alleged that three school buses were seized after the district magistrate�s daughter was denied admission to the school.

Manoj Agarwal, the district magistrate, found in it a �motive not only to malign� him but also the �whole administration�.

�Neither I nor any of my officials had ever approached the school for admission of my daughter. I do not know what had provoked the principal,� he said.

Agarwal argued that if the school authority found anything wrong in the detaining of the buses it had every right to move court to seek justice. �But I am told that the buses did not have valid documents,� he said.

Corroborating the DM�s statement, the regional transport officer said the buses had been seized on specific charges.

Additional district magistrate (general) Manish Jain wrote to the principal, Father S. Nallail, saying that �a copy of the unsigned letter appeared to be issued by your office, addressed to parents of your school children, raising allegation against the district administration has maligned the image of administration.�

He asked the principal to acknowledge whether the unsigned letter was actually issued by him or by someone under his knowledge. Jain said: �It appeared that someone was trying not only to tarnish the image of the administration but also your school over the issue of normal routine checking drive by motor vehicle officials.�


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