Stolen Memoryreturns home
Demolition Deb faces showcause
8 months to a year in MBBS
Winter waits for rain to recede
The City Diary
Camera, craft & camaraderie
Sleaze shock on film fest �site�
Old balcony caves in on pedestrians
Broken road railings to be replaced
Water tax ploy to vex party, feels Mamata

Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Memory came back to Calcut ta on Sunday night.

The Hemen Mazumdar paint ing, stolen from the Chowd hurys. ancestral home at Bhan darhati, in Hooghly, was fetched from Delhi by a twomember Ben gal police team.

On Saturday, Prakash Kejriw al, owner of Chitrakoot Art Gallery in south Calcutta, was ar rested after a raid. Police said the stolen painting had gone to an auction in Delhi allegedly from Chitrakoot.

Neither the gallery nor the Ke jriwal family was willing to comment. Four Mazumdar paint ings were seized from the gallery during the raid.

The police claimed to have stumbled upon an international racket in stolen and fake paintings of the Bengal school. The DIG (CID), V.V. Thambi, said: .The racket .has been thriving for some time..

The stolen painting, Memory or Recollection, was offered for sale at an auction in Delhi held by auctioneers Bowring�s, its first in India. There were two other Mazumdar works at the auction, but Memory was pulled out during the sale because its provenance . ownership . was not clear. The auctioneer had then said that there was a problem with the title.

It has now come to light that a member of the Chowdhury fami ly, with which the painter had close ties, travelled to Delhi after learning from a newspaper report that the painting was being of fered at the auction, held on November 5.

This painting, with another Mazumdar work, was stolen from the Chowdhury home on the night of December 14. The two were part of a group of 10 paintings gifted to the family by the painter himself.

The family member who flew to Delhi to stop auction of the painting alerted the station house officer of Nizamuddin police sta tion as the Oberoi, where the Bowring�s sale was being held, came under its jurisdiction. He also informed the general manag er of the hotel, as well as Bowring�s.

Partha Bhattacharyya, IG (CID), who has been following the case ever since the theft, was told of the development. He, in turn, alerted the deputy commissioner of police in Delhi.

A team of officers visited the Oberoi ballroom where the auc tion was being conducted and asked Bowring�s officials present there on whose behalf the paint ing was being sold. They showed a letter which indicated that the source was someone based in Calcutta.

Bowring�s was unavailable for comment.

The search now appears to have led to Kejriwal. There is no evidence yet to suggest that the galleryowner had knowingly handled a stolen painting or if it had passed through his hands at all.

.We will have to check whether Kejriwal knew that this painting was stolen,. said a CID official.

One of the other two Mazum dar works sold at the auction fetched Rs 18 lakh, though it was on paper. According to the Bowring�s catalogue, the painting, called Rose or Thorn, was a gift from the artist�s family to the late Ram Kumar Kejriwal in 1949.

The police team that visited the auction seized Memory. Fail ing to bring the painting back to Calcutta, the Chowdhury family went to Calcutta High Court with a writ last Thursday. Vacation judge Asim Kumar Banerjee passed an interim order the day after, directing the officerin charge of Dhaniakhali police sta tion, where the theft was reported on December 15, 2000, to fetch the painting from Delhi.

The judge also ordered that once it reached Calcutta, it should be delivered for storage in Victo ria Memorial. The Dhaniakhali OC, S. Roy, carried the painting to Calcutta on Sunday night and will deposit it at Victoria on Monday.

The painting shows a lady holding the anchal of her sari as she dresses in front of a mirror. The artist�s signature occurs on both left and right corners of the painting. In the other Mazumdar work stolen along with it, a lady is seen carrying a pitcher on her way back home after a bath. This one is still untraced.A third paint ing by an unknown artist, also stolen on that night, was found abandoned outside the Chowd hury�s Bhandarhati residence. Clearly, the thieves knew what to take and what to leave behind.

Painters are not surprised at the turn the case has taken. Both Ganesh Pyne and Ganesh Haloi are aware of the racket in stolen and fake paintings. Haloi said that with increased interest in objects of art, such crimes had become commonplace. .It is absolutely imperative to have proper docu ments of evaluation before any transaction takes place,. he said.

Pyne narrated an incident where a couple had brought to him a painting purportedly done by himself. It was a fake, but had still been certified as original by .someone in Delhi who is part of the official machinery..

Actor Victor Banerjee, who started Calcutta�s first gallery in 1980, said: .Ever since the Bengal school of art became popular, this has become the rule..


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
The breach in the Macpherson Square wall has pushed Trinamul Congress councillor Rajib Deb into a hole.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee on Sunday prepared to ask Deb, a member of his mayoral council, to .show cause. for the demolition of a portion of the park wall on Loudon Street to erect a Kali Puja pandal. .The showcause letter is ready and will be issued on Mon day,. the mayor confirmed, adding that .no act of vandalism can be supported..

Deb, former councillor of ward 63 and a resident of the area, had okayed the demolition to make way for the Kali puja pandal of .his. AllWin Club. He later pledged to pay the Corporation Rs 50,000 to rebuild the damaged northern wall and gate. The Loudon Street park had been handed over by the Corporation to Hindustan National Glass for maintenance.

The mayor�s move comes in the wake of Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee expressing .severe dis approval. of Deb�s demolition de cision. She reportedly called up Mukherjee and asked him .to take serious note. of the matter. The government, too, has re sponded sharply to the incident, with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee voicing his disap proval and urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya putting it down on paper.

Bhattacharjee had made his views on the parkpandal problem clear to the mayor when they met during the inauguration of the Kolkata Film Festival. .If the Cor poration fails to deal seriously with such an act of gross indisci pline and anarchy, it will return to haunt both the civic body and the government,. Bhattacharjee re portedly told Mukherjee. .How can we implement discipline if senior mayoral members them selves break the law with impuni ty and go scotfree?.

Deb now finds himself in the line of fire of fellow councillors, too. Mayorincouncil (parks) member Hridayanand Gupta turned down an invitation to be chief guest at the inauguration of the Macpherson Square puja.

.They have destroyed public property. I am not going there,. he announced. Anup Chatterjee and Swapan Samaddar said that Deb, being an important member of the mayorincouncil, should protect public property, instead of destroying it.

Chairman of the Trinamul controlled civic board Anil Mukherjee said Deb�s act would be .fodder for the opposition CPM., especially with the month ly meeting just round the corner.

Leader of the Opposition Nir mal Mukherjee provided a taste of things to come as he brushed aside Deb�s defence that he would pay for the reconstruction. .The next thing we will hear is someone willing to pay for repairing the Corporation headquarters after demolishing it,. Mukherjee said.

The man at the centre of the storm, however, remained unper turbed. .We had sought verbal permission from the Corpora tion,. Deb reiterated.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Eight months make a year. That�s what firstyear medical students have realised to their horror.

According to a recent health department circular announcing the routine of the first MBBS exams, students will have to sit for their tests eight months into the yearlong course. The date has been brought forward to enable Calcutta University to publish the results in time. So the students are, in effect, being penalised for the univer sity�s perceived inability to publish results in time.

.I can understand the problem this poses to students, but the health department is helpless,. director of medical education Chit taranjan Maiti said on Sunday. .It�s important to publish results in time and Calcutta University, with such a huge volume of students, will be hard put to publish results before the end of the academic year if exams are held after the usual 340 days..

Maiti, however, .sympathised. with the students, .especially those who come from villages and need the first few months to just settle down..He promised to .raise the issue with university officials. so that .students don.t have to suffer because of examiners. constraints..

The rescheduling of exams may also put the colleges here at the risk of derecognition,warn teachers, as the directive flouts Medical Council of India (MCI) rules..Medical colleges here have been under the MCI scanner. We are not sure how the MCI will react to the gross violation of rules now,.a Medical Teachers. Association spokesperson said.

MCI rules stipulate the schedule of the medical course for all col leges in India. The first MBBS is a oneyear course, divided into two semesters,which should have a minimum of 240 teaching days each. The same rules keep aside 100 holidays, with the remaining 25 days earmarked for examinations. Firstyear medical students were ad mitted to colleges in the first week of September this year. According to MCI rules, the exams cannot be held before August 2002. Instead, they have been asked to appear for the exams from May 4.

.I am still struggling to adjust to the complicated English termi nology,. said Dinesh Mandal (name changed on request), a firstyear student from a south Burdwan village. His classmate, Shankar Su tradhar from a Purulia village, added: .Getting used to college life in a big city needs some time. Exams eight months into a yearlong course gives us very little time to prepare..

Opposition students. bodies, like the DSO, have already launched an agitation and even the SFI, the ruling CPM�s students. wing, has been forced to speak up against the .unscientific. routine.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Providence allowed sunshine dur ing Durga puja but appears to be in two minds about Kali puja three days away. On Sunday, the mini mum temperature dropped by a degree, heralding the onset of winter next week, the weather of fice said. Saturday�s rain and well marked depression in the west central Bay caused the drop.

As on Saturday, the sky rem ained heavily overcast on Sunday, dampening the preDiwali spirit. R.N. Goldar, director of the Alipore meteorological centre, predicted rain in Calcutta and its adjoining areas in the next two days, with the chances of the weather improving from late on Tuesday.

There is forecast of rain in other districts in south Bengal, particularly the coastal areas, and Orissa. Till 8.30 am on Sunday, the Met office recorded 6.8 mm of rain in Calcutta. Goldar said a low pressure that developed off the Andhra coast on Saturday morn ing strengthened into a depres sion on Sunday morning 100 km southeast of Kankinada.

Moving in a northwesterly di rection, the depression is likely to intensify further and cross the Andhra coast between Kankinada and Visakhapatnam by Sunday night..Under its influence, light to moderate rain will occur over Cal cutta and other parts of Gangetic West Bengal for the next couple of days. The weather is likely to im prove from Tuesday,. said Goldar.

Winter may set in next week if the sky remains clear. .There is al ready a nip in the air. Within a week, the sky should clear and the North Wind will blow,. Goldar said. The wind from the east and the cloud cover resulting from the depression is blocking the North Wind, the Met office said.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 

Brother pushed to death in property row

Lalmohan Sarkar, a clerk at the Bamangachi railway office, was arrested on the charge of killing his elder brother, Tapan Sarkar, on Sunday morning.A dispute over property might have led to the incident, police said.On Sunday morning, the brothers were having an altercation at their W.C. Bonerjee Street house when Lalmohan suddenly pushed Tapan,who fell on the ground and collapsed. He was rushed to hospital,where doctors pronounced him dead.

Jagaddhatri puja awards

The Snowcem Ananda Jagaddhatri Puja Arghya, organised by Anandabazar Patrika in association with Snowcem India, will be held among Jagaddhatri puja committees at Chandannagar. Awards will be given to puja committees within the Chandannagar corporation area for the best idol and the best illumination, apart from three prizes for the best overall performance.The best sculptor and best illuminator awards carry a cash prize of Rs 11,000 each.The awards in the best overall performance category have cash prizes of Rs 21,000,Rs 11,000 and Rs 6,000.

Airport security

The Central Industrial Security Force will take charge of the internal security at both the domestic and international terminals of Calcutta airport, superintendent of airport police O.P. Gupta said on Sunday. The CRPF and the West Bengal Police hold joint responsibility of airport security now.

Peace soiree

Leading artistes attended a function at Laha Bari, off Thanthania Kali temple, on Sunday.The theme was world peace. Songs and poetry by Tagore were performed and read out by Indrani Dutta, Anubha Ghosh, Aniruddha Sinha, Sushmili Dutta and playwright Bibhash Chakraborty.

Educationist dead

The first director of BE College (Deemed University), Shibpur, Biman Sen, passed away at a hospital near Heathrow Airport, London, on Sunday. He was about to board a flight to Calcutta last week when he suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. Sen was 70.    

Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Forget everything. Clear your mind of everything you have learnt over the years. Let�s start learning all over again.. These words, spo ken by Raghu Rai, set the tone for a threeday workshop on .Photojour nalism in the Cyberage..

Organised by The British Council, SPACE (Society for Photodocumentation and Alter native Cultural Endeavour) and New Oriental Photography Stores, it also brought together Neil Burgess from the UK and ShahidulAlam from Bangladesh.

The shortlist of 25 participants included lensmen from leading magazines, newspapers and news agencies from various parts of the country, Nepal and Bangladesh. The workshop that promised .valuable insight. into developing skills, reading the demands of a photo, building a relationship be tween photographer and subject, planning an assignment, pitching one�s portfolio and various copy right issues, lived up to its billing.

Rai blamed the .mechanical photographs. of today on the lack of proper training institutes, as he delved into the nuances of every aspect of photography. The inter active sessions moved from .the motive behind taking photo graphs. to .how to click the shutter at the precise moment to capture the mood the photographer wished his creation to exude. and much more. .A good photograph is worth more than a thousand words,. emphasised Rai, as he un veiled a stunning range of black andwhite transparencies.

.This medium of visual com munication is of great impor tance in India as the literacy rate is low,. observed Alam, who also used some of his work to explain .how to author a photograph..

The 12photograph portfolios of each participant were scruti nised by the maestros in oneon one sessions. .Each photograph in a portfolio should be a knock out,. said Burgess, lamenting how .even great photographs are often marred by mediocre printing..

To test the .streetskills. of the participants, .so essential to this profession., they were given four hours and an equal number of films to shoot on .morning activi ties.. Of the photographs taken, they were required to submit 1012 for the final judgment.

Once the ice was broken, there was no stopping the flow of words and images as the veterans min gled with the eager learners.Alam had promised .some deviation from the schedule. at the very onset. There were deviations aplenty as the workshop gathered momentum. Lunch was one of the casualties as the .official hours. stretched on.

In the end, addresses were ex changed, along with professional notes, as craft and camaraderie mingled. Everybody, it seemed, in the course of honing their skills, had found something more endur ing . new friends.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Eager to catch up with the latest on the 7th Calcutta Film Festival, Ritu Singh of Panditiya Place on Sunday logged on to what she be lieved was the film festival�s web site. But what flashed on the computer screen when she keyed in left her aghast. It was hardcore pornography, with the cursory warning . .for adults only.

. .I was looking for the timings of the retrospective on Italian filmmaker Paolo Pasolini, this year�s key attraction, and have no words to explain what this ex perience,. said Singh, who log ged out immediately. .I checked with the Nandan authorities and learnt that the official website has a different URL (Uniform Re source Locator),. she added.

The Nandan authorities crosschecked with their official website and informed Singh that official site was www.calfilmfestival. org. Festival and Nandan di rector Angshu Sur said he would take up the matter with the police once the festival ended.

.I have been receiving com plaints in this regard for the past few weeks. I tried to locate those who hosted the website but failed to trace them. I will definitely speak to the police,. Sur said.

Police officials admitted that the problem had caught them un awares. Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Banibrata Basu described it as a problem of .cybersquatting., a technical term for preregistering a domain name in anticipation of a bigger event. .Whoever is behind this mischief must have done that to attract Net traffic,. Basu said.

.More than 100 films from 20 countries will be screened at the film festival. I am not a film buff, but today being a Sunday, I thought I would check out the festival schedule on the website and plan accordingly. But the ex perience was rather horrible,. says Krishnendu Das, director of a citybased software company.

Raja Sen of Garia, too, had a similar experience. .I was not aware of the film festival web site�s URL and, so, used a search engine to find the site. Minutes later, pornographic stuff was dis played on the monitor,. Sen said.

A cyber cafe jockey at Chand ni Chowk said he was .not tak ing any chances. and informing surfers about the official festival website well in advance.

.With the police keeping tabs on us these days, we can.t allow people to watch pornography in public, even if it happens by mis take,. he added.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
Nine persons were injured in the collapse of a part of a balcony and a staircase of a dilapidated house on Keshub Sen Street on Sunday.

Officials of the Calcutta Mu nicipal Corporation and the police said eight persons were trapped under the debris of the balcony. They were taken to hospital.Wit nesses said the balcony collapsed on pedestrians below. Three per sons were struck on the head and shoulder by the cement blocks.

Local residents helped the po lice and firemen in the rescue, lasting about half an hour.

.The building was in bad shape and we had repeatedly pointed it out to the inmates. The structure needed immediate re pair,.. said a senior engineer of the local borough committee, who in spected the building after the cave in. While neighbours rushed to remove the rubble and take the in jured to hospital, they heard a re sounding thud from within the building. .We ran inside, to find that the staircase of the building had caved in. People were scream ing for help,.. recalled Sunil Das, a local resident.

Cots, bedsheets and bits of fur niture lay strewn, and residents rummaged through them for their belongings. CMC engineers have urged them to vacate the house.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
The railings down the middle of some city roads are either missing or have been forced open so that pedestrians can cross over, with scant regard to traffic rules.

M.K. Singh, deputy commis sioner of police (traffic), agreed that at some places, the railings were missing. .We are replacing the broken dividers. Repair of oth ers have started,.he added.Accord ing to the traffic department, the railings ensured road safety. Not only did the average speed of vehi cles increase, but the rate of mishaps, too, had come down. But within a year and a half, the railings have been broken at many places. At most places, the damage has been done by pedestrians.

In the first phase, the railings were erected on major roads, like AJC Bose Road, Gariahat Road, APC Road and Diamond Harbour Road. Later, the other roads were included. In one of the most acci dentprone zones on AJC Bose Road, from Mullickbazar to Ripon Street, people cross the road through gaps in the guard railings.

Similar gaps on Diamond Har bour Road and Circular Garden Reach Road, in the Kidderpore area, and on Rashbehari Avenue, in south Calcutta, are allowing people to cross road dangerously.

Deputy commissioner Singh said that in most places, the gaps had been identified and repairs are to be completed soon.


Calcutta, Nov. 11: 
The proposed tax on filtered water is meant to embarrass the Trina mul Congresscontrolled civic board, acccording to Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Baner jee on Sunday.

With mayor Subrata Mukher jee by her side, Mamata told re porters that the civic board had no intention of imposing water tax, particularly on slumdwellers.

.The muchhyped tax is being proposed by the government and the Trinamul, which controls Cal cutta Municipal Corporation, has nothing to do with it,. Mamata as serted. .That is why we have plan ned a protest rally on November 18,. she added.

Minutes after her unopposed election as chairperson of the All India Trinamul Congress on Sun day, Mamata alleged that the CPM wasattempting to scuttle many de velopment projects being under taken by the civic body.

.This is nothing but an ugly at tempt by the ruling CPM to tar nish the image of the Trinamul, which has been perfomed well during its yearlong tenure in the civic body,. she said.

Then there were these stories about a rift between her and the mayor, scoffed Mamata.

.I want to make it clear that I have no differences with mayor. We had to sacrifice a lot to wrest the civic board from the CPM.We are determined to continue serv ing the people of Calcutta well,. she added.


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