Cheque-mated union blocks debutant doctor�s stipend
Tanneries trip on green tape
Daring strike at nursing home
Thursday farewell for Father Bouche
Module modelled to hook the homemaker
The City Diary
Workshop without any witnesses
Trauma centre debut next March
Arrested aide gives cops tips on terrorist trail
Three hurt in police party ambush

Calcutta, March. 5: 
It looks like an innocuous piece of paper, a cheque for �Rs 2,033 and 60 paise only�. But it�s behaving more like a hot potato at Calcutta National Medical College, with everyone who touches it, dropping it in a flash.

Niladri Shekhar Pal, who has just completed his internship from the college and is now a house-staff at the adjoining Chittaranjan Hospital, has become the first person to pay the hostel union by cheque. In the process, he has opened a can of worms about how students are fleeced by unions, usually backed by the ruling party, and how the college authorities end up helping in the arm-twisting.

The consequences have not been pleasant for Pal. He was made to wait for the all-dues-cleared certificate, essential for his doctor�s registration, till he agreed to pay the �hostel dues�.

But now, after having paid the amount by cheque � which cannot be encashed, as neither the hostel union nor the SFI union general secretary is authorised to collect any money from any student � Pal has had his house-staff�s stipend of Rs 6,340 blocked without any explanation from the authorities.

Director of medical education Chittaranjan Maiti, after coming to know of the incident on Tuesday, admitted that the administration had no right to force students to pay hostel unions their �dues�. �I will personally enquire about the matter from the hospital superintendent,� said Maiti. �Hostel-union chanda is outside the purview of the administration and we have no right getting involved in such matters,� he added.

The union, too, is in a quandary. �It�s impossible for us to encash a cheque,� said an SFI member. �But this practice of forcing students to pay chanda has been going on, as no regular boarder earlier had dared to make an issue out of this.�

Pal�s problems date back to December 2001, when he received a notice asking him to clear his �hostel dues�. This, despite having documents showing that he had cleared every month�s hostel seat-rent and other official fees. Pal requested college principal Dipti Basu to state �what heads the dues fell under�.

Basu then got in touch with the union, asking it to furnish details of the �dues�. After several �unsatisfactory� responses, the union replied that Pal was yet to pay Rs 2,033.60 to the �G.S. fund� and the �development fund�. The principal, according to officials, told Pal to pay the �dues� without checking whether the college administration could force a student to pay anything to the hostel general secretary.

Realising that his registration as a doctor was in jeopardy, Pal agreed to pay the amount by a cheque (no. 756031, drawn on ICICI Bank), which was duly received by an upper-division clerk of the college, on behalf of the principal. Though principal Basu would not comment on the matter, a senior health department officials labelled the process illegal. �No official has any right to ask a student to pay anything to the union general secretary,� he stated.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
The tannery shift conundrum hit a cost hurdle on Tuesday, even as the Supreme Court adjourned the case till April 2.

The cost of contention: Rs 16 crore for the effluent transport system, which promoters of the Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC) insist must be included in the total cost for the common effluent treatment plant (CETP), to be shared with the Union ministry of environment and forests.

The CETP is crucial to the leather complex, coming up under a build-operate-transfer scheme, which will play host to the east Calcutta tanneries, shut down from March 1 following an apex court order.

The Supreme Court has directed the ministry to decide whether the effluent transport system is part of the CETP project and resolve the matter with M.L. Dalmiya and Company, promoters of the CLC. Officials of the ministry of environment and forests � claiming that the Rs 16-crore cost be treated as a development cost by the promoter � met after Tuesday�s hearing to try and resolve the crisis.

At Writers� Buildings, officials were non-committal about M.L. Dalmiya and Company�s claim that the cost of the effluent transport system be added to the Rs 33 crore cost of the CETP and brought under the BOT programme. Industries minister Nirupam Sen said the issue had not been resolved: �On our part, we have been persuading the promoter to begin work on the CETP as fast as possible.�

Over 500 tanneries in Calcutta � clustered around Tiljala, Tangra, Bantala, Topsia and Pagla Danga along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass � have downed shutters since the February 28 apex court deadline �to shift or stop production� expired. Lakhs of workers have been affected, as the CLC, minus the CETP, is in no position to accomodate them.

Industry sources said the tanners had shown growing resentment to the possibility that they would have to pay for the CETP as well. �We have already paid Rs 600 per square foot of land and we will have to bear the cost of building our sheds and shifting machinery. Where will we find the funds, now that production has stopped?� demanded a tannery-owner.

In the Supreme Court, a division bench of Justices M.B. Shah and Doraiswamy Raju was told that �almost all tanneries� had paid the land cost, but both the state and Central governments had failed to provide the tanners with the promised facilities.

Representing the Calcutta Leather Manufacturers� Association, senior counsel Siddhartha Shankar Ray made it clear to the apex court that �it should not be construed that the tanneries are refusing to relocate�. In fact, said Ray, �we have already paid the land cost. But for government lethargy, the shifting could have been smoother�.

Another counsel for the Association, Deba Prasada Mukherjee, submitted a detailed proposal to the court for shifting the tanneries and commencement of production from the CLC by October 15, 2002. �By October 12, no-objection certificates to operate the tanneries will be obtained and by October 15, they will be commissioned,� stated the plan note submitted to the apex court, which had, earlier, turned down various pleas for pushing back the tannery-shift deadline.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
A gang of three men raided a nursing home in Phoolbagan, east Calcutta, early on Tuesday and fled with Rs 1.8 lakh in cash and ornaments. The dacoits even robbed the patients, some of them seriously ill, making away with their ornaments, too.

Doctors, nurses and Group-D attendants were not spared either. They lost February�s pay-packets.

Tuesday�s dacoity was unlike an earlier one at a medical establishment in the same area about four years ago, senior police officers said. �As far as I can recall, no strike in the past has been this audacious, sparing not even the patients,� said deputy commissioner (headquarters) Banibrata Basu.

The gang struck at Orchid Nursing Home around 3.30 am. Investigators were unsure till late on Tuesday what vehicle they had arrived in. None of them had his face covered and all looked between 20 and 30 years old, according to Sonia Kumari, the superviser on duty.

The only lock they needed to break was at the entrance, nursing home officials said later in the evening. �That achieved, they headed for the cash counter, striding down the 80-ft-long corridor,� said Bimalendu Chaudhuri, owner of the four-storeyed building housing the nursing home. Chaudhuri was on the top floor during the raid.

The gang faced no resistance, Chaudhuri admitted. �The glass door and the collapsible gate just ahead of the cash counter were open,� he told Metro. The three, now toting revolvers, did not waste much time in collecting Rs 1.8 lakh from the counter. Then, they headed for the nurses� cloak room.

Four nurses and three Group-D attendants, besides a senior physician, were on duty at the time. The trio broke open the wooden cupboards that had the staff�s personal belongings and their pay packets for last month. Then, they got hold of the staff members, snatching every ornament they were wearing.

The worst was yet to come. The ground floor, which houses the respiratory unit, had six patients, police said. �They had all their ornaments taken off,� deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra said.

Though no arrests have been made yet, investigators are certain that an insider is involved in the raid. Chaudhuri and the nursing home staff agree. �They broke open only the cupboards in which nurses keep their bags,� Chaudhuri said. �Even their movements in the nursing home show that they know the interiors very well,� he added.

Police officials probing the case are interrogating the nurses and attendants on duty. �Some definite leads are expected very shortly,� Mitra said.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
Father Camille Bouche, whom generations of students of St Xavier�s, and later, St Lawrence High School, remember as a teacher, father-figure and counsellor, died in his sleep in Calcutta on Tuesday morning. He was 79. He was a warm and loving human being, though he never brooked indiscipline.

Father Bouche was born in Beckerich, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on November 10, 1922. In May 1940, when he was attending school in Verviers, Belgium, the Germans shot dead 19 of his contemporaries. He escaped with minor injuries, but it made him decide to dedicate himself in God�s service.

He went into hiding to avoid conscription, and led a nomadic existence, till he joined the Society of Jesus as a noviciate in September 1941. In July 1947, he offered himself for service in India.

Father Bouche arrived in Calcutta in December 1947. In 1950, he went to study Bengali in Serampore. In 1954, he was ordained a priest, and from January 1957 to December 1966, he served the first of his three distinguished terms as Prefect of the senior school. From then onwards, he was associated with the institution in various capacities, and in 1988, he was appointed its Headmaster.

Father Bouche�s students remember him with great fondness. A great raconteur, he would relive Blackshirt and Tintin, at a time translated versions of the comic strips were not available. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Father Bouche was a Bengali at heart. Under the pen name Kamal Bosu, he wrote Bengali short stories.

Disciplinarian though he was, his students were nurtured by loving care. He had moulded the futures of at least three generations of students. Even when he fell ill, he never gave up on his duties. His school and students meant more to him than his health. Father Bouche retired from St Xavier�s in 1990 as Headmaster, and joined St Lawrence High School as Prefect of the primary section. In 2000, he returned to St Xavier�s.

In 2001, Father Bouche was inducted into The Hall of Fame of The Telegraph Education Foundation. Four years earlier, he had received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Foundation,

The funeral mass of Father Bouche will be held at St Xavier�s on Thursday, March 7, at 9 am. He will be interred at Dhyanashram, in Thakurpukur. All Xavierans are requested to attend.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
After students, politicians and cine stars, it�s time now to target homemakers.

Following the success of �hooking� over 100,000 people across the country � including MLAs and MPs in the Bengal Assembly and Tollywood personalities � to computers on World Computer Literacy Day (December 2, 2001), training major NIIT has decided to zoom in on one segment conspicuous by its absence: the homemaker.

To �take computer literacy to the ladies�, the company has designed a programme tailor-made for women to mark International Women�s Day on March 8. �Analysis of the December 2 data highlighted some interesting facts, which prompted us to devise an entry-level course for the ladies,� said Sugata Mitra, chief scientist and senior vice-president, NIIT. According to Mitra, only 30 per cent of the 100,000-plus students were women, with the numbers varying across age-bands and regions. In Calcutta, over 4,500 people had their first tryst with the computers, but hardly 30 per cent of them were women.

�We observed that over 40 per cent of the under-18 enrolments were ladies, while in the 60-plus category, it was below 10 per cent,� said Mitra. The data also revealed that �only 2 per cent of the sample set� were professionals, with ladies accounting for over 60 per cent of them.

The number-crunching also unveiled how women use computers more often that their male counterparts in their official assignments. But when it comes to older women, the move towards the mouse drops sharply.

Mitra stressed that the data brought out much more than the �socio-economic imbalances� in the system.

�Most importantly for us, the analysis of the database brought into light the divergence in the requirements of the two sexes � while males want to know how things work, their female counterparts are more interested in knowing what the system can do for them,� said Mitra.

The man behind course design in NIIT admitted that most of the existing training modules �fail� to address the �tastes and preferences� of women.

�Swift Jyoti for Women, a 10-hour programme for ladies, priced at Rs 500, is an effort to offer them a utilitarian module. Even the examples to elaborate the concepts will be women-centric,� explained Mitra.

The company is expecting �around 200,000 ladies logging on� to the course, with Calcutta being a strong focus area.

The training module will offer 20 out of 25 topics covering communication (chat, e-mail and messaging), Internet (browsing, searching and downloading), text (word-processing), graphics (paint and powerpoint) and numbers (spreadsheet and excel). There will be separate batches to suit the timings of housewives, students and working women. Free courses for under-privileged girl children will also be on offer.

Madhushree Neotia will launch the programme in Calcutta on March 8. Other leading ladies lending support to the click cause will be first lady Anjana Shah, Nabanita Dev Sen, Dolly Roy and Miss India-Earth Reshmi Ghosh.



Youth shot, two criminals caught

Trouble broke out in Chakraberia Road after unidentified men shot a youth, injuring him seriously, around 4.30 pm on Tuesday. Police said Manpreet and Gurpreet, sons of a dhaba owner in Chakraberia Road, along with some criminats, dragged out Vinod, a young man of the neighbourhood, from his house and shot him. The bullet pierced Vinod�s abdomen. Presuming him to be dead, the assailants tried to escape. While both Manpreet and Gurpreet managed to escape, two others were caught and beaten up by a mob. They were later rescued by the police and admitted to SSKM Hospital for treatment.

Terrorist link documents

The AK-47 used in the American Center attack was brought to Calcutta from Hazaribagh on Tuesday night. The Hazaribagh court handed over the weapon to Calcutta Police on Tuesday morning. The team, which went to Hazaribagh three days ago, also collected documents to prove Mohammad Jamaluddin�s terrorist links. Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department, said: �Our officers found eight cottahs belonging to Nasir in Hazaribagh. He might have had plans to set up a hideout for providing shelter to terrorists. We have seized the papers for the land and the Hazaribagh police have been asked to be on guard.� Aftab Ansari, the mastermind of the terrorist attack in Calcutta, is expected here next week. �We have taken all measures. Security arrangements have been tightened in Lalbazar police headquarters,� Mitra added.

Fall to death

A 45-year-old man was killed after he fell from a lorry, which collided with a police jeep near Jagat cinema on APC Road, in the Amherst Street police station area, around 3.45 pm on Tuesday. A policemen, D.R. Ganguly, and the driver, A.K. Sen, sustained injuries.

Body found

An unidentified man was found hanging from a tree behind the Maidan Metro station early on Tuesday. The body was taken for post-mortem.

Saha death case

Plastic surgeon Kaushik Nandi, who was involved in the treatment of Anuradha Saha at AMRI, told the Alipore court on Tuesday that he did not doubt what Balaram Prasad, the attending physician, and Kunal Saha, husband of the deceased, told him about the patient being supervised by the three doctors charged in the case. He also said that for a patient with 25 to 30 per cent of her body surface affected by toxic epidermal necrolysis, fluid intake should have been three to six litres a day. This could not just be oral but had to be intravenous as well. �To my knowledge, this was not given during the patient�s stay at AMRI between May 13 and 17, 1998,� he said.

Held for fraud

Officers of the Enforcement Branch, Calcutta Police, arrested Om Prakash Gupta, a dealer in pulses, at his shop in Posta, in the Jorabagan police station area. He was arrested on charges of selling inferior quality of pulses in packets carrying the counterfeit identification mark of a renowned Calcutta-based firm and cheating customers. On the basis of his confessional statement, police seized 7,900 bags of pulses, each weighing 53 kg, from a godown on Hyde Road, in the South Port police station, on Tuesday.

According to a senior police officer of Calcutta Police, the total value of the pulses seized is estimated at over Rs 58 lakh. A number of empty jute bags, carrying the same counterfeit mark, were also seized.

Explosive hoax

The central garage of Calcutta Municipal Corporation�s ambulance station on C.R. Avenue received a call on Tuesday about a huge quantity of RDX being stored there. A search by the bomb and the dog squads yielded nothing.

Beaten up in class

More then 15 children were injured after a teacher beat up several students during a mathematics class at Ramnagar, in Baruipur, on Tuesday morning. Police said eight children were admitted to hospital with serious injuries, while seven others were released after first-aid. Parents of the injured children have demanded the suspension of the teacher, Swapna Naskar. The headmaster promised to look into the matter.    

Calcutta, March. 5: 
Why did a senior, well-established artist like Veena Bhargava agree to join a workshop where most participants were young? Because it afforded her the opportunity to do things she had never done before. �I have done neither sculpture nor collaboration,� says the artist known for her powerful figurative and representational paintings.

She says they � only four in her group � were given only two guidelines � �Work with material you have never worked with before. And enter a space you have never entered before.� Over eight days she �stretched herself� beyond a point she had ever done, and she speaks positively about this collaborative effort titled White Cube. So, for the first time in her career she used strips of steel and a strip of neon to create her first sculpture.

The workshop, organised by Max Mueller Bhavan, Calcutta, takes its name from the large white room in a multi-storeyed apartment block. About 15 artists have displayed their works there. The project was conceptualised by German artists Iwan Koschmider and Thomas Zacharias, who have worked in the city earlier.

Zacharias says borrowing metaphors from modern art, the empty room was the elementary form, call it the starting point or Point Zero. Their aim was to create in the heart of the city a �pure space opposite to the noisy town.� Fifteen artists he didn�t know earlier were brought together. The future was uncertain. Nobody knew what would happen. They were given simple material like bamboo, jute, colour, clay teacups and other objects of everyday use �to turn the banal into the sublime�, to quote a White Cube handout. It would be a gross exaggeration to say they succeeded in doing so.

All the artists had their own ideas, and they had one room in common. �Extension and reduction� followed, says Zacharias. Extension was chaotic. The next experience was reduction when the group had to find and organise itself. It was open to several other disciplines � dance, music, poetry reading, performance, installation, sculpture � when the different arts came together. �It is an open space where lots of things can happen. It is a meeting space for artists,� says Zacharias.

Asked why so large a space in a prime locality (on the first floor of Himadri Apartments, opposite CCFC) did not attract any viewers, Zacharias replied: �The first aim was that something must happen.� The truth is that Max Mueller Bhavan hadn�t bothered to publicise the event. So it was an event basically by artists, for artists without any winesses. A luxury we can ill afford in a city where there is no alternative space for artists.

Veena Bhargava had chanced upon the space while looking for a suitable old house to hold the workshop. When her friends, Arun and Anuradha Lohia, offered her the room which used to be a bank. The walls were dirty and had to be whitewashed.

Besides Zacharias, the other guiding spirit was Iwan Koschmider who worked in a smaller section of the space with four artists, including Veena Bhargava. Koschmider says each participant coordinated his work in relation to others.

All the four artists discussed the materials they intended to use before starting work. �The material speaks for itself,� says Bhargava. �There was no question of egos. There was constant change and metamorphosis,� she added.

In case a viewer thought the space was cluttered with too many pieces, Koschmider has a reply readymade: �The aim was not to create something that was pleasant and harmless but something that threatened.� Even if there was nobody there to feel threatened.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
Accident-induced trauma, grave bone injuries, nervous system disorders, kidney ailments, GI tract ulcers � multiple super-speciality services under one roof. Armenian Church Trauma Centre (ACTC), a �one-of-its-kind project in eastern India�, which opens its doors to Calcuttans in March 2003, promises to reach quality healthcare in speciality areas to the middle class.

The foundation stone for the landmark hospital, coming up on the four-acre campus at Mukundapur, off the EM Bypass that houses the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS), will be laid by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on March 10.

The start-up funds for the Rs 23-crore unit of the Asia Heart Foundation (AHF) have been provided by the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth. AHF hopes to raise the rest of the project cost through donations.

�The 300-bed super-speciality hospital will be fully-equipped to deal with trauma and orthopaedics, neuro-surgery, spinal surgery, neurology, nephrology, urology and gastroenterology, with a fully-developed radio diagnostics department having MRI, CT scan and gamma camera facilities,�says Dr Alok Roy, AHF vice-chairman. The hospital will also have 10 operation theatres, a blood bank with component separator (apheresis), entire cardiology diagnostics and an outpatients� department with 24 consultation rooms.

�Work starts on March 10 and we aim to complete the project in a year,� says Dr Roy who, with cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty, chairman of AHF, had built RTIICS in �nine months flat�.

When complete, this will be Calcutta�s �first trauma unit in a super-speciality environment� linked to orthopaedics, neurology and neuro-surgery. �To start with, we will commission a network of fully-equipped ambulances at various points to ferry accident victims to our hospital. We are also exploring the possibility of pressing helicopters into service,� adds Dr Roy.

The Foundation, which is also committed to a joint-venture trauma-care centre with the West Bengal government (now likely to come up at NRS Hospital), wants to set up the �mother unit� on its own campus first, to have the support infrastructure ready. With 50 new beds being added to RTIICS, the twin facilities on the Mukundapur campus will house 500 beds in all.

The joint venture between AHF and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) for the tele-medicine project � delivering healthcare services and offering consultation to patients in remote areas through satellite connectivity � will be extended to the Armenian Church hospital too. �Our motto at the Foundation has always been equitable distribution of world-class healthcare,� says Dr Shetty.

ACTC, which aspires to become a �model superspeciality hospital�, will employ �around 650 personnel�, including medical professionals from all over the country and abroad. Together with RTIICS, the new hospital aims to address the afflictions arising out of modern-day pressures and problems.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
He told me he would leave the country as soon as possible. He might be anywhere, from Kathmandu to Pakistan. I promised to help him in Multan if needed � Mohammad Nayeem, arrested Pakistani national and Lashkar-e-Toiba functionary

After establishing Pakistani links in the January 22 attack on the American Center, the police and the CID are on the lookout for Azhar Hussain Khan, alias Sadaqat, the alleged motorcycle-rider in the attack.

Nayeem, who was present in the Hazaribagh house rented by Mohammad Nasir, the key facilitator of the terrorist group in Calcutta, has confessed to meeting Sadaqat, besides providing leads that might lead to the elusive terrorist�s arrest.

Raids had been conducted at Sadaqat�s hometown, Ghaziabad, and several relatives detained for questioning. Sadaqat�s relatives said that on one occasion, he had even brought Nayeem home.

�Nayeem was part of the plan. He had even shared the Hazaribagh house with Sadaqat and the other terrorists for some time. He has been able to provide information about the American Center attack,� said inspector-general of police (CID) Partha Bhattacharya.

Nayeem revealed that Sadaqat had a strong base in Kathmandu and might have gone there. Son of a poor farmer from Ghaziabad, Sadaqat had travelled to Mumbai and got involved with the �mafia� in Andheri. According to a senior police official, several cases are pending against him at Sadar police station, in Mumbai.

Accordingly, the CID has intimated Central intelligence agencies and the New Delhi police about Sadaqat. �Agencies have been given vivid description of Sadaqat from the fleeting glance during the January 22 attack,� the police said.

Referring to the American Center attack, Nayeem revealed that he was asked to stand by if the operation was botched up. �Nayeem is a sharpshooter,� added a senior CID official.

Nayeem also revealed that Pakistani militants were helping out Ansari to spread his network beyond India and Bangladesh to Nepal, where a ransom collection centre was being set up. Nayeem along with Shailendra, Mohammad Dilshad and Mohammad Naveed, were all picked up in New Delhi towards January-end.

A CID team rushed to Delhi after sleuths found that some of the names were tallying with the ones who played a part in the abduction of Khadim�s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman. �They helped the abductors hide Roy Burman in Haroa,� Bhattacharya added.


Calcutta, March. 5: 
Three policemen, including a circle inspector and a sub-inspector, were injured in a clash between criminals and policemen in Maheshtala, on the southern fringes of the city.

According to the police, early on Tuesday, circle inspector (Maheshtala) Chandrakanta Das Mohapatra, along with a few policemen, went on a routine inquiry at Akra, a few kilometres from the police station. Around 11.30 am, when the force reached Akra, one of the policemen noticed some criminals lurking behind them and informed Mohapatra.

�Let us catch them right now,� Mohapatra reportedly told his men. Realising that they were being chased, the criminals started running.

Things took an ugly turn after the criminals hid behind some trees and started firing from country-made revolvers. They even threw bombs at the team, resulting in injuries to Mohapatra and some policemen.

�The circle inspector, a sub-inspector and a constable sustained bomb splinter injuries in the clash and have been provided treatment at a nearby hospital,� said superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas) Deb Kumar Ganguly. The police had no alternative but to retreat. �Since we did not have much ammunition, we decided to go back to the thana,� said one of the policemen in the raid party.

Later, the officer in-charge of Maheshtala police station, A.C. Sarkar, along with a stronger contingent, rushed to Akra and conducted another combing operation. �We finally arrested nine criminals, including the ones that had attacked the earlier police party,� Ganguly added.

The raids continued throughout Tuesday. Two pipeguns, several rounds of ammunition and 14 bombs were seized from the arrested criminals.

Rent nod: Calcutta High Court has expressed surprise that owners of several buildings in the city were not taking the necessary permission from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) while renting out their premises for social occasions.

The truth came to light during the hearing of a case filed by 10 building-owners, who have challenged a CMC notification asking them to pay Rs 8,000 as conservancy charges after each rental.


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