Fury over missing students singes police
Murder near Digha beach
Mini-fodder scam lid off
Foreign virus too hard to digest
Mulayam push for early elections
Quota policy takes Rajnath to SC
Cong builds letter shield
Trafalgar swings to Bengali folk
Sonia storm brews in Swamy�s new tea cup
Steel magnate on Hinduism world tour

Suri, Sept. 9: 
Angered by the disappearance of three schoolchildren since Thursday in Dubrajpur near here, the residents protested before the local police station and demanded action to trace the students.

Parents of Ritwik Mondal, Dhrubajyoti Mukherjee and Shyamapada De � students of class IX, VIII and VI, respectively, of Dubrajpur Sarada Vidyapith � said the boys did not return home after they left for school on Wednesday.

Officer-in-charge of Dubrajpur police station Uday Banerjee said the police had left no stone unturned to trace the students. But there were no clues yet.

The relatives of the missing students were particularly worried after a student was killed by his schoolmates at Chinsura in Hooghly district.

In the Dubrajpur incident, the police and other students said the children, though from different classes, were close to each other.

�I don�t know where my son has gone. I had beaten him up the day before he disappeared as he was not paying attention to his studies. On Wednesday, he left home for school and did not return. I inquired at my relatives� houses but he could not be traced,�� said Dilip Mondal, Ritwik�s father. Mondal, an employee of Mayurakshi Cotton Mill, confirmed that his son was friends with Dhrubajyoti and Shyamapada.

�When he did not return the next day, I went to his friends� houses and found that they, too, were missing. Then we lodged a diary with the police,�� he added.

Tarun Mukherjee, Dhrubajyoti�s father and a government employee, had also hit his son for not completing his homework. �I don�t understand where he could have gone. It is not the first time that I had beaten him. I used to take strict action if he was found inattentive in his studies. After hearing of the Chinsurah incident, I am having sleepless nights,� he said. Though the guardians claimed that the students disappeared on their way to school, school authorities said they were not coming for the past fortnight.

The police said the students� photographs had been sent to all police stations in the district and that the CID had been informed.


Digha, Sept. 9: 
Weekend tourists in this sea resort were jolted when the police recovered the disfigured body of a youth from the brush near the old Digha beach this afternoon. Four persons have been arrested and a white Tata Sumo seized in this connection.

Preliminary inquiry revealed that it was a murder committed by outsiders. Police suspect that the miscreants had first stabbed the youth and then thrown the blood-splattered body in the undergrowth. The victim�s face was disfigured with acid.

The arrested youths have been taken to Belda police station for interrogation. Two live bombs and a bottle of acid were also recovered from them.

The body was spotted by tourists taking a walk on the beach. The police was called in after they raised an alarm.

The victim, aged about 30, was not identified till late in the evening. He was wearing a blue shirt, a dark pair of trousers and had several amulets on his arm.

Informed by tourists and locals that a white Tata Sumo was seen parked near the spot, the Digha police sent messages to all checkposts to search all Sumos.

In the afternoon, a Sumo � registration number WB34 F8262 � was stopped by a mobile police unit near Belda. The four youths were arrested with the bombs and acid. Police said the car was registered in Panskura.

The police said the five youths arrived at Digha in the morning and drank liquor throughout the day on an isolated beach. Later, four of them stabbed the victim and threw his body in the brush. Police said the miscreants poured acid on his face to prevent identification.

Residents complained the area behind the marine aquarium is isolated and covered in dense undergrowth. As many as four bodies have been found in the area over the past month. Police had also recovered the body of a woman from the brush, locally known as keyaban, but no headway has been made in the case.

Though police apprehend that the four are the culprits, several hotels and resorts have been raided.


Siliguri, Sept. 9: 
Seven employees of the Toofanganj subdivision treasury office in Cooch Behar have been suspended in connection with the fraudulent withdrawal of funds worth Rs 12.7 lakh.

Sources at the district headquarters said Toofanganj treasury officer Manojit Mondal and additional treasury officer Rajkumar Chowdhury were suspended on Saturday after their state-level counterparts conducted an on-the-spot inquiry. Earlier, sleuths from the Bengal accountant-general�s office had detected the swindle, prompting the district magistrate to suspend five other employees.

District magistrate Chandan Sinha said: �Following a probe, the government had sent a list of five employees allegedly connected with the scam. The list has a name, Rabindra Nath Chakrabarti. Incidentally, Rabindra Nath Chakrabarti and Shibabrata Biswas, employees of the animal resources development department, were arrested earlier in connection with the scam. Since there is no person by this name employed at the Toofanganj treasury, we have asked for a rectification.�

Toofanganj sub-divisional officer Tapan Burman said the scam came to light early in July after the A-G Bengal detected financial discrepancies worth Rs 1.2 lakh. The deputy director of the animal resources department lodged a complaint with the police, who arrested the two employees. �Seven other treasury employees, including the treasury officer and the additional treasury officer, were served showcause notices on their alleged involvement in withdrawal of huge amounts of money by producing false provident fund accounts and fodder bills,� he added.

The A-G Bengal then sent a four-member team, which unearthed the Rs 12.7-lakh swindle. Chakrabarti and Biswas apparently forged several PF accounts and withdrew over Rs 1 lakh from the treasury. Along with several others, they produced false fodder bills amounting to Rs 7 lakh over three months. �The police are now looking for another animal department employee,� Burman said.


Hyderabad, Sept. 9: 
In the battle for military supremacy, where does one side hit the other? In the stomachs of scientists.

A sabotage theory is swirling around the food poisoning of some 60 scientists who had gathered here for a workshop from defence establishments across the country. And it is inevitable that the �Pakistan� hand will appear somewhere in the conspiracy twist to an en masse stomach upset, post lunch.

Andhra Pradesh police neither ruled out sabotage nor the role of Pakistan-backed operatives. �We cannot say for sure who (might be responsible) but we are investigating all angles,� investigators said.

Eighty-five scientists from the Defence Research and Development Laboratories (DRDL), Indian Space Research Organisation and Midhani (Mishra Dhatu Nigam) outfits in Pune, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore were here last week to attend a workshop on electro-magnetic compatibility.

�Very few knew about the workshop conducted by the Society for EMC (electro-magnetic compatibility) Engineers,� said a senior DRDL official.

Around 18 delegates reported sick on the first day, Thursday, after lunch. By the next day, the number had grown to 30 and the conference organisers found the same day that almost 60 were undergoing treatment in hospitals and in the hotels they had checked into.

The coordinator of the workshop, Dr K. Nageswar Rao, said the predicament of the delegates was not known until a day had already passed.

�I have filed a complaint in Saifabad police station and faxed a letter to the director-general of police, H.J. Dora, for speedy action,� Rao added. Hyderabad police commissioner P. Ramulu said the issue was brought to his notice on Saturday after a complaint was filed by the organisers of the workshop.

�Our investigations have revealed that some contaminated foodstuff might have been served from outside, particularly ice cream and the chicken. We have sent samples for chemical analysis,� he said.

Central Court hotel�s general manager, however, said only the ice cream was brought from outside that day to cope with the abnormal rush at lunch.

The menu that day had included vegetable soup, chicken biryani, mutton curry, vegetable curry, dal, chutney, ice cream and gulab jamun.

�We served food to nearly 375 persons that afternoon, including the nearly 100 members of the EMC workshop. So far, only 45 have reported sick. The hotel will take remedial measures.�

Municipal food inspectors visited the hotel this morning and collected food samples for chemical analysis.

�A certain amount of contamination is suspected in the food served to the scientists. It might have been an act of sabotage also,� investigators said.


Lucknow, Sept. 9: 
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today declared that it had become a �majboori� (compulsion) to hold elections this year.

Stopping short of declaring that he would ask his 102 MLAs to resign, Mulayam said the Samajwadi Party would �see to it�� that elections are held this year and not in March 2002, as announced by the BJP.

�There is an understanding between the BJP and the BSP to form a post-poll alliance,�� Mulayam said, adding that the people would not let the plot succeed. �The BJP-BSP alliance has come out in the open, but people have seen earlier what happens when these two parties come together and they will not let it happen again,� Mulayam said.

He claimed that it was not the Samajwadi Party but the people who wanted early elections. He lashed out at the BJP, saying it had failed on all fronts.

Mulayam expressed �very serious fears� that the VHP�s announcement of building a Ram mandir in Ayodhya would have disastrous consequences for the state and the country.

After meeting party leaders to discuss the impending polls, Mulayam said Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee�s statement that there would be a �solution�� to the Ayodhya dispute by March was �inspired (by) and connected�� to the VHP�s stand. �Each and every Samajwadi Party worker is keeping a close watch on the situation and we will not allow anyone to spread fear among the minorities,�� Mulayam added.

The Samajwadi Party alleged that under the BJP-led coalition in Uttar Pradesh, the state government was spending Rs 3 crore per minister each year. �That adds up to almost Rs 300 crore on unnecessary expenses,�� Mulayam said.

He accused the government of systematically killing Samajwadi workers to spread terror and break their morale before the elections. �There have been 185 fake encounters and most of those arrested or killed have been our party workers who belonged to particular castes,�� Mulayam said, alleging that crime had acquired a whole new meaning under BJP rule.

In a statement, the party condemned the move by the government to eject Bangladeshi refugees, numbering close to five lakh, describing it as a blatant attempt to fuel communal passions for political gains.

Coming down heavily on the government�s plan to have a quota system within the reservation policy, the statement said it was not only aimed at alienating a section of society from the Samajwadi Party, but also a �devious move to finish off in the long run all forms of reservation�.

The Samajwadi Party chief, however, failed to explain how the government would go about abolishing reservation.


New Delhi, Sept. 9: 
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister�s decision to create a separate reservation quota for the most backward castes (MBCs), extremely backward castes (EBCs) and most backward Dalits (MBDs) has been contested in the Supreme Court even before the Cabinet formally ratified it.

Former MP R.J. Kureel and social activist Raj Kumar Sinha filed a writ petition against the notification issued by the Uttar Pradesh government on July 28, 2001, under Article 32 of the Constitution. Former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani, who appeared on behalf of the government in the Mandal Commission case in 1992, has also appeared in this case.

The petition challenged the very constitution of the Hukkum Singh Committee by chief minister Rajnath Singh to identify the MBCs, EBCs and MBDs under Article 34, 16 (4), 338 and 342 on the ground that its terms of reference and mandate overlapped the power and functions of the State Backward Classes Act, 1996, and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The petition also pointed out that the two months assigned to the committee, called the Social Justice Committee, for identifying the castes and sub-castes were not enough to cover all districts �what to talk of collecting the data and getting survey done for the purpose of terms and references given to the committee�.

It pointed out that Section 3 of the UP State Backward Classes Act, 1998, stipulated that any commission for backward classes should be headed by and comprise only persons �of eminence, ability and expertise� from these classes. It added that the Uttar Pradesh government�s panel was made up of ministers and bureaucrats from other castes.

The petition also questioned the recruitment advertisements put out by the government, which mentioned a special category for MBCs. This, it said, was �totally illegal� because no government can advertise a new reservation category unless the decision is endorsed by the Cabinet.


New Delhi, Sept. 9: 
The CBI is likely to question Congress MP Priya Ranjan Das Munshi in connection with the �forged letter� controversy, but the main Opposition party said he cannot be compelled to appear before the investigating agency.

CBI sources said it would seek Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi�s permission to quiz Das Munshi on how he obtained a letter purportedly written by the Union Cabinet secretary to the Prime Minister�s private secretary opposing Air-India�s disinvestment.

Union disinvestment minister Arun Shourie had handed over the letter to the CBI after the Congress leader read out its contents in the Lok Sabha during a debate on disinvestment last month.

The controversial letter was dispatched to Hyderabad�s Central Forensic and Scientific Laboratory (CFSL), which concluded that the missive was not genuine.

Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said Das Munshi cannot be compelled to appear before the CBI. Moreover, the matter has already been referred to the Rajya Sabha chairman to be forwarded to a privilege panel. Congress leaders said under existing norms, a member of Parliament cannot be probed for his conduct inside the Lok Sabha.

CBI sources also admitted that Balayogi�s consent is needed to quiz Das Munshi. He would be questioned to ascertain the individuals responsible for the act, they said.

The sources, however, were silent on the agency�s action if the Congress leader refuses to cooperate.

In the Lok Sabha, Das Munshi had said if the letter was found to be fake, he would tender unconditional apology. He, along with many non-BJP parties, was opposed to the matter being referred to an �outside agency� like the CBI.

The agency was quick to register a case under Section 466 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code after the letter was referred to it. Last week, the CFSL confirmed that the letter was not genuine after which the CBI launched a probe to find those responsible for forging it.

Sources said the CFSL, in its report, stated that the letter did not bear Cabinet secretary T.R. Prasad�s signature. The CBI is now looking for �conspirators� who forged his signature.

CBI has reportedly collected several documents from disinvestment and civil aviation ministries, besides the PMO and the Cabinet secretariat. Some politicians and bureaucrats may also likely to be questioned, the sources added.


London, Sept. 9: 
The folk music of Bengal will fill Trafalgar Square later this month in a special initiative by Mayor Ken Livingstone to bring free dance and music to London�s premier tourist attraction every Wednesday evening.

From 4.30 till late, Trafalgar Square will be transformed every Wednesday as singers and dancers representing London�s vibrant cultural mix perform in the open air for tourists and locals. Twenty-five yellow flags will decorate the square for each of the events, which are being organised to celebrate London and its ethnic diversity.

�We�d like school children and office workers to stop by on their way back from work and enjoy a few moments of music and festivity,� said a spokesperson for the Mayor�s office. Trafalgar Square is one of London�s most popular tourist destinations with millions of people visiting the Square every year. �The acts will be completely free and everyone is invited to enjoy Wednesdays at the Square,� the spokesperson said.

On September 18, the East London-based Bangladeshi arts and cultural organisation, Udichi Shilpi Goshti, will bring Bangladesh�s top performers to the Square filling it with the sounds of classical and folk singing, tabla, sitar, flute, dhol and the tanpura. Singers Gopal Das and Kangalini Sufia will be performing at the premium venue in what is billed as the greatest multicultural arts initiative for the city of London.

The Bengali singers will be followed by London�s hottest Asian DJ � DJ Ritu � who will lead her group Sister India. The group of performers is popular on the Asian gig circuit and plays a heady mixture of Bollywood, hip hop, reggae and garage. The Dhol Foundation and the Four by Four dancers will complete the evening, bringing the drums and bhangra beat to Trafalgar Square.

Others taking the stage on various Wednesdays at Trafalgar Square will be the Velayev family from Azerbaijan who will perform a gravity-defying feat five metres above people�s heads while the British circus performers Heir of Insanity will do the trapeze act.

Community choirs will also be performing and the acclaimed singer-songwriter Brenda Rattray will lend her vocal power to the Square. Avanti, a unique display, will transform the fountains of Trafalgar Square.

Ken Livingstone became the first elected Mayor of London last year. While Londoners are looking to him to transform the problems of the city like transport and traffic, the controversial Mayor has taken on the job of revitalising it. He has already cracked down on vehicular traffic coming into London and has plans to turn Trafalgar Square into a pedestrian zone.

Celebrating multi-cultural London in the hallowed shadow of Nelson�s Column and the lions of Trafalgar Square may be his most popular contribution to the city.


New Delhi, Sept. 9: 
The occasion: A tea party

Venue: New Delhi

Host: Subramanian Swamy

Agenda: To destabilise the Vajpayee regime and remove Sonia Gandhi�s primacy as leader of the Opposition

Subramanian Swamy is back again. He plans to host a tea party on September 19 in the capital to project former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar against Sonia Gandhi.

Lying low for some time, the self-styled leader is all set to create some kind of political upheaval. After his return from the US, Swamy promises a big show on September 19. The guest list includes besides Chandra Shekhar, in wilderness since April 1990, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mayavati, P.H. Pandian of the ADMK (though Swamy is yet to patch-up with Jayalalitha).

The Left and the Congress have been left out. However, Swamy is confident that the Left will come around after it�s bonhomie with the Congress ends.

�Well, it is going to be more than a storm in a tea cup. I firmly believe that in order to get rid of Vajpayee, the Opposition needs better leadership than Sonia�s,� Swamy said.

Two years ago, he had got Sonia and Jayalalitha together at a tea party leading to the collapse of the Vajpayee regime. The Opposition, however, failed to stitch an alternative government and Vajpayee returned back after the general elections. Since then, Swamy parted ways with both Sonia and Jaya. However, his stand towards Jaya is softening now. But there is no reconciliation with Sonia. Swamy added that he has a lot to tell about the leader of the Opposition.

He has great faith in guest of honour Chandra Shekhar�s leadership ability and thinks he can be the rallying force for all those who are opposed to the BJP and the Congress. Once the tea party becomes successful, Swamy will bring in some regional parties before going all out against Sonia.

Recently, Swamy has been levelling charges against the AICC chief. The Congress did not respond to the charges. �I do not want to give any credibility to Swamy by responding to his charges,� Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy had said.

In Delhi�s political circles, tea parties have a chequered past.

While Swamy�s tea led to the downfall of Vajpayee regime, Sonia�s tea party was a damp squib when the Left, Samajwadi Party and BSP failed to show up. A tea party hosted by Pakistan high commissioner Ashraf Qazi Jehangir in honour of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf got entangled in a controversy over the presence of Hurriyat leaders.


London, Sept. 9: 
At the age of 75, with his fortune made, his steel empire, Ispat, established across the globe and his three sons settled, Mohanlal Mittal is undertaking a tour of 51 cities in 37 countries to promote Hinduism.

�My regret is that I did not do this sooner,� said Mohanlal Mittal, who is today better known as the father of Lakshmi Mittal, generally reckoned to be the richest Indian in Britain with net assets estimated at �2 billion.

It was, however, Mittal senior who founded Ispat in Calcutta in 1975 and supervised its development to the multi-national company that it has become today. Mittal, now retired, lives in London where he divides his time between the families of his sons, Lakshmi, 51, and Pramod, 44. There are forays to India to see his youngest son, Vinod, 43.

�If I can�t bring unity to my family, how can I bring unity among Hindus,� he joked. �I believe in family quality; it�s more important than money.�

So that he is not accused of becoming political, Mittal is confining his pro-Hindu campaign to outside India. He believes the time has come for 18 million Hindus dispersed across 150 countries to be given a crash course in Hinduism.

Mittal, who has been appointed president of a new organisation called the Hindu Leaders Forum, said that while he was reassured that Hindus in Britain were �more Hindu than Hindus in India�, those in many other countries knew little about their religion and were suffering a loss of identity.

�Something has to be done,� declared Mittal, who was one of 250 Indians who attended the UN-backed New Millennium Peace Summit of religious and spiritual leaders in New York last year. He is convinced that Hinduism has a contribution to make in bringing world peace. �Wars are still going on and three crore people have died in the last 50 years,� he said.

A group of prominent Hindus, including Mittal, is undertaking what is called the �Vishwa Dharma Prassar Yatra�. The money for the tour is being raised from donations but the Mittal millions will probably ensure that the world tour is completed on schedule by December.

�Travelling to 51 cities in 37 countries is not cheap,� Mittal said. Though he was reluctant to say just how much he was putting into the venture, he confirmed: �We have to underwrite it.�

The tour has already started with four countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, and the United States where the leaders visited Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles. The European leg will begin in London and Leicester before moving on to Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Oslo and Lisbon.

The aims of the Hindu Leaders Forum include the promotion of an �authentic and harmonious view of Hindu philosophy, spirituality, religion and culture�; providing �a stage to broadcast the voice of Hindus in an organised and structured manner�; and �teaching the roots of sanatan dharma�.

However, Mittal stressed �the forum will not be involved in any violence and will not engage in promoting hatred or condemnation of individuals, groups or religious denominations�.

Giving examples of the Hindu success story, he said: �37 per cent of American doctors are Indian, and that 5 per cent of the CEOs of top companies in the world are Hindus. In Britain, Hindus in jail are only 1 per cent of the prison population and that too for not very serious offences. Hindus are, more or less, law abiding�.


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