Fast-track recruitment for 1000 doctors
B-school brigade steps out with Governor’s advice
Doors shut on leprosy patient
Matador and bus kill four
On toes, police await Ansari
United House rings Ayodhya alarm
BJP brass break decibel code at rally
Sleaze charge on godman
RPF officer knifed
Gang of 20 in 30-minute looting spree

Calcutta, March 9: 
The government has decided to immediately recruit 1,000 doctors in hospitals in Calcutta and the districts to breathe fresh life into the state’s moribund healthcare system.

The city’s medical colleges are introducing diploma courses to train their medical staff.

All this is part of the revamp drive initiated by health minister Suryakanta Mishra, who formed a panel of experts soon after assuming charge in 2001.

“We have asked the state Public Service Commission to recruit 1,000 doctors for the state health services without delay,” confirmed state health secretary Asim Barman.

The health department on Friday issued a notification on the introduction of four diploma courses and a certificate course. “There is a dearth of technical personnel to handle equipment even in the government-run hospitals in the city,” a senior health service officer explained.

The technical staff — graduates in science subjects — can apply for courses in laboratory work, radiography, physiotherapy and radiotherapy. The certificate course will be offered in electro-cardiogram technology. The state medical faculty, which has been asked to determine the duration and the fees, will conduct the courses. The diploma holders would get jobs in government as well as in private hospitals and clinics.

Sources said the 1,000 recruits would be appointed in the 2002-03 financial year. “There is a need for more doctors in our hospitals. The ongoing Rs 701-crore World Bank health project allows us scope to improve the healthcare set-up,” they added.

The new batch will be strategically deployed to tackle problem areas in the city and the districts. Special clauses in the appointment agreement will be included for service in semi-urban and rural areas.

Over 600 auxiliary nurses and midwives are being trained at 30 centres spread over the state in order to develop women and child healthcare, an official said.

The health minister has decided to transfer workers from “unproductive” sectors to areas where they can be gainfully employed. Thousands, for instance, are serving in leprosy and tuberculosis clinics in the state. They will be despatched to endemic zones, like the Dooars and Jhargram, to detect malaria infection. Health department sources said people in these areas were being afflicted with virulent forms of the disease.

According to the health minister, the reshuffle will also help fill up vacancies in the state health services.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Governor Viren J. Shah has called for assistance from premier management institutes in imparting managerial capabilities for rural development projects. He was speaking at the 37th annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) on Saturday.

Around 189 students were conferred post-graduate diplomas in management for the two-year programme, while 55 received degrees in computer-aided management.

Six students received the Fellow of IIMC award and 48 students of the institute’s evening programme were awarded post-graduate diplomas in business management.

Reminding budding managers of their social responsibilities, Shah said: “It involves a commitment on the part of the members of managerial cadre to not merely focus on the profitability of a concern, but to ensure that national interests are not jeopardised.”

The Governor urged that the management institutes in India should “avoid mechanical adoption” of foreign management principles while developing their syllabi. Earlier, Amitava Bose, director, IIMC, outlined the achievements of the students in various academic and co-curricular activities.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Ostracised by her family, a 32-year-old woman, afflicted with leprosy, has been living a secluded life for over two years at her central Howrah residence.

Rukmini Debi (name changed) has been regularly undergoing Multiple Drug Therapy (MDT) but is yet to be fully cured. According to doctors, Rukmini has been suffering from multi-bacillus leprosy for the past eight months. “We found her in course of a field inspection and requested her to visit the clinic. She will be totally cured within a year if she follows our advice,” said a field worker, preferring anonymity.

Rukmini is in the final stages of treatment. “Doctors have assured me that I would be cured soon. Unfortunately, my family is not convinced. They say this is a curse,” said the patient.

Field workers in Howrah face resistance from families of patients. “Whenever we try to convince them that leprosy is a curable disease, they ask us to leave the place. The awareness level has to be raised amongst migrants from the neighbouring states,” a field worker said.

Rukmini also said she wanted to participate in such drives to spread the message.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Road accidents in the city killed three women and a child on Saturday. Six were injured.

Two women and a child died when a Matador ploughed into a slum on Goragachha Road, near Taratala. The three were rushed to SSKM Hospital where they were declared dead.

According to sources, Durgi Dhanuk, 30, was having her morning tea with four-year-old daughter Soni, when the Matador knocked them down. Both died on the spot. The vehicle then ran over another woman, Siya Bhunia, who was washing utensils nearby.

Witnesses said the Matador first hit a pedestrian, injuring him seriously. Then it mounted the pavement and hit the lamp posts. Next in line was a row of thatched dwellings. Other than killing the three, it knocked down five others on the way. Cleaner Shankar Rajbanshi, who was behind the wheel, escaped after the accident.

Kamli Bhunia, a Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) sweeper, said: “I saw the van spin out of control and plough into the slum. I think Shankar was trying his hand at driving and stepped on the accelerator, instead of the brakes.”

The noise attracted local residents, who rushed the injured to the hospital. A mob shattered the windscreen of the vehicle and deflated its tyres. Police intervention brought the situation under control.

“With four poles uprooted, we were worried that the hanging wires might electrocute the crowd,” said the police. The lamp posts were later repaired.

The police are on the lookout for the cleaner and efforts are on to trace him with help from the owner of the Matador.

Another accident occurred on Prince Anwar Shah Road in the afternoon when a state bus on route 31 was trying to overtake another bus on route 42D. An unidentified 50-year-old woman was killed while Rita Sarkar, a 45-year-old pedestrian, sustained serious injuries. Sarkar was admitted to Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishthan.

Death on flight

A passenger died on board a Singapore Airlines flight shortly before midnight on Friday. According to airport police, 64-year-old P.K. Chowdhury was returning to Guwahati via Calcutta with wife Rumita. Chowdhury was found dead in his seat soon after the flight landed at Dum Dum airport. The body was brought to the airport police station and sent for a post-mortem.


Calcutta, March 9: 
On the eve of arrested mafia don Aftab Ansari’s arrival in Calcutta, the CID top brass on Saturday chalked out plans for a security ring to be thrown around the city. The measures are being supervised by IG (CID) Partha Bhattacharya.

A special CID team has been formed to look into the various security aspects, including his place of stay, food and the route he will take to the court after landing at the airport. “We are not taking any chances as Ansari is a prize catch,” a CID official said.

The Dubai-based don is the mastermind behind both the American Center attacks and the kidnapping of Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman. Bhattacharya declined to comment on intelligence reports that several groups of ISI-sponsored militants have sneaked into the city with plans to eliminate Ansari.

A government order, issued a couple of days ago, has authorised Bhattacharya to decide on the list of officers who will interrogate Ansari in Calcutta.

No one was willing to comment on where Ansari would be put up on his arrival. Officials refuted speculations that the gangster might be kept in the central lock-up in Lalbazar. “He will be kept at an undisclosed location. Everything is being decided by the IG (CID),” an official said.


Calcutta, March 9: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today urged the Vajpayee government to spell out its steps to defuse tension over the kar sevaks’ gathering at Ayodhya even as the Bengal Assembly adopted an all-party resolution calling for effective measures to prevent communal disturbances in the country in the wake of the Gujarat violence.

The House expressed “concern and alarm” over the VHP’s decision to start construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya on March 15 on the land by the side of “Babri Masjid” and urged the people of Bengal, irrespective of religion, creed and caste, to maintain communal amity.

“A large number of kar sevaks from different parts of the country have started assembling at Ayodhya for this purpose, which has created a communal atmosphere in the country,” the resolution said.

It also condemned the attack on the kar sevaks on board the Sabarmati Express at Godhra which was followed by serious communal disturbances in Gujarat and some other parts of the country that left several dead and led to a huge loss of properties.

Taking part in the hour-long deliberation on the resolution, Bhattacharjee squarely blamed the BJP for “encouraging communalism”. “The BJP has assumed the same role it played during the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, by lending its support to the communal forces. This is a dangerous proposition,” he said.

The chief minister wondered why the Centre could not come out with a definite plan of action to reduce tension over the kar sevaks’ assembly at Ayodhya. “While the entire nation is deeply worried over the situation, the Union government has not spelt out the steps it intends to take to deal with it,” he said.

Bhattacharjee said: “It is a crime to mix religion with politics, but the BJP has been doing it quite consistently. Its role is not only anti-national but also against the basic tenets of our Constitution.”

The chief minister said the Left Front government was determined to fight communal forces at all costs. “We do not know what will happen on March 15. The country has been pushed to uncertainty and a great danger is ahead,” he said.

Members, cutting across party lines, felt the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat had “miserably failed” to tackle the communal violence leading to a spill-over effect in other states too.

Those who spoke on the resolution included Left Front chief whip Lakshmi De, Trinamul Congress legislator Sougata Roy, RSP’s Tapan Hore, Forward Bloc’s Subrata Basu, CPI’s Purnendu Sengupta and Abdul Mannan of the Congress.


Behrampore, March 9: 
State BJP leaders, including Union minister of state for telecommunications Tapan Sikdar and president Asim Ghosh, today addressed a public rally over microphones causing serious disturbances to the annual examinations of two secondary schools at the Behrampore Grant Hall Ground.

The BJP leaders observing “anti-terrorist day”, claimed they had received the necessary permission to hold the rally. “We obtained permission from the district police superintendent himself,” Sikdar said.

But superintendent of police Rajiv Kumar denied this. “They had been given permission to address a meeting only within the hall. I shall hold an inquiry.”

A teacher of Keseswari Girls’ High School said on condition of anonymity that they had objected when the microphones were being fitted but no one had paid attention.


Siliguri, March 9: 
The Ma Bhavani temple on the busy Bidhan Road in the heart of the commercial hub here was almost always crowded on Saturdays. On this day, the priest — 45-year-old Shyam Narayan Bhagat — used to bless the devotees.

But today was different. In place of the devotees was a bunch of policemen who had come acting on a complaint from the priest’s second wife, Laxmi.

She had alleged that Bhagat had made his living quarters on the floor above the temple some kind of a sex parlour where he performed “tantric sex rituals” with his mistress and two teenaged girls.

The police seized several sleazy videos — that the godman allegedly screened for his disciples — and stacks of pornographic magazines.

In her complaint to the Siliguri police this morning, Laxmi alleged that Bhagat used to harass her and confine her and their infant daughter in a dingy first-floor room at the back of their spacious five-room flat.

She said she had managed to free herself from the clutches of her “captor” husband this morning, and had come straight to the police station.

Bhagat had married Laxmi a few years ago after the death of his first wife. But, she claimed, for about a year now he has been having an affair with Baby Roy who was in her early-twenties. She also claimed the godman was having a physical relationship with two teenaged girls.

The police arrested Bhagat and Baby. The older of the two teenaged girls was taken into custody but the younger one was spared. She has been kept under watch at the godman’s flat.

Bhagat and his wife will be produced in court tomorrow.

The godman refused to speak as today is his day of silence. But Baby told reporters that she was legally married to the priest and the two teenaged girls were her “cousins” staying with her and “studying” in a local school.


Calcutta, March 9: 
A 50-year-old inspector of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) was seriously injured when a group of hooligans stabbed him from behind on the platform of Baidyabati railway station on the Howrah-Bandel section. The injured policeman was first rushed to a hospital in Serampore but was later referred to the BR Singh Hospital.

After being stabbed, the injured officer managed to board a local train. He went straight to the Government Railway Police office at Seoraphuli, and lodged a complaint. He identified some of the attackers and mentioned the names in his complaint.

S.C. Sahu, divisional commandant of the RPF, said the incident occurred around 11 am when Bipradas Bhattacharya, the injured inspector, was walking on the platform in plain clothes. “He went there to collect some information on criminal activities in and around the Baidyabati railway station premises,” said Sahu.

“We had information that Baidyabati railway station had become a den for hooligans. Criminals are hiding stolen fans, bulbs and iron railings in a place close to the station,” Sahu added.


Malda, March 9: 
At least 15 people were injured, four of them seriously, when a gang of 20 armed dacoits raided the house of an upa-pradhan of the local panchayat here and went on a looting spree last night.

In just half-an-hour, the goons decamped with cash and ornaments valued at Rs 1 lakh. However, no one has been arrested so far in this connection.

All the injured, who received sharp-cut and splinter injuries, were admitted to the Chanchol sub-divisional hospital where the condition of four persons was stated to be critical.

The incident took place around 7.30 pm yesterday at Mahanandapur village, 15 km from Chanchol police station. Gautam Saha, the upa-pradhan, said Friday was weekly marketing day and hundreds of traders had assembled there.

Laden tapes seized

The Malda police today seized 16 audio cassettes and several photographs of Osama bin Laden from Kaliachawk. Two persons were also arrested in this connection.


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