Pay justice for teacher
Widow of govt officer in net for flesh trade
Schools put fee hike on hold till ‘settlement’
Trauma tale in kidnap drama
Mange aide held again
The City Diary
Prison cell site for murder plots
Racket bust after drug haul
Principal fights to enter school
Ex-cop’s home burgled

Calcutta, May 8: 
In an unprecedented ruling, Calcutta High Court has directed the government to extract a teacher’s salary dues, with interest, accumulating since the past five years, from his colleagues, who did not let him enter the school premises.

Utpal Chakraborty, who was appointed to teach at Rania Kaltikuri High School, Sonarpur, South 24-Parganas, in 1997, was not allowed to join duty by the teaching and non-teaching staff.

Their stand, according to the defence, was that they were not willing to accept an “ordinary honours graduate” as a teacher in the “highly-reputed” school.

The real reason for blocking Chakraborty’s entry, according to the prosecution, was that he pipped a CPM-backed candidate to the post.

According to the list released by the School Service Commission in July 1997, Chakraborty was granted a job at the Sonarpur school. He got the appointment letter from the office of the South 24-Parganas district inspector of schools in October the same year. He reported for duty a month later.

But he was not prepared for what greeted him. The Rania Kaltikuri staff told him that he could not join the school since he was “not up to the mark”. They were looking for a “better candidate, with higher qualifications,” for the post and would not let an “ordinary graduate” be appointed teacher, Chakraborty was told.

Chakraborty (who graduated with honours in English) lodged an FIR with Sonarpur police station, his lawyer, Lakshmi Pal, told the judge. But that did not help. Left with no option, Chakraborty moved the high court.

While delivering the verdict on Wednesday, Justice Pratap Ray said it was unfortunate that an unemployed youth had been denied a job, which he had secured after clearing the requisite tests. Justice Ray also ordered the Sonarpur police station officer-in-charge and South 24-Parganas superintendent of police to escort Chakraborty to the school. They have also been asked to provide him with security.

But the sternest directive was aimed at the persons who had blocked Chakraborty from taking up the job. The court ordered the South 24-Parganas district inspector of schools to arrange for payment of five years’ salary to Chakraborty, along with an interest of 18 per cent. And the persons who would be made to pay the sum — estimated to run into lakhs — would be the teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, who were looking for a “better candidate” than the government-appointed man, the court decreed.

The state government did not escape censure, either. It would have to cough up Rs 3,400, the money that Chakraborty, still unemployed, had to pay to fight the suit, the judge ordered.

The lawyers for the school had, at an earlier hearing, said that no one tried to block the teacher’s entry. On the contrary, he had, on his own, refused to join duty. There were few takers for their statement, least of all the judges.

Sources in the high court said similar cases have come up in the past, but this is the first time such a judgment has been delivered. “We hope this will act as a deterrent for those who disrupt the proper functioning of the system,” the sources added.


Calcutta, May 8: 
The city police have busted a flesh-trade racket in an apartment in the Hudco housing estate of Ultadanga.

Apart from the flat-owner and four ‘clients’, detectives arrested two girls — one of them doing her master’s in a reputed city university — from the apartment on Wednesday. Several cellphone handsets were recovered from the apartment.

According to deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Soumen Mitra, 50-year-old Papiya Guha, widow of a former deputy director in the commerce ministry, was running the prostitution racket. “They had given it a code name, ‘Dotcom’,” Mitra said. Papiya was among those arrested on Wednesday.

Detectives found out that the state government official had bought the apartment while in service. “We believe his wife started running the racket after his death,’’ Mitra said.

Papiya stayed there with her two daughters. “The immoral activities were carried out only by day, between 10 am and 4 pm,’’ a police officer said.

Elaborating on the modus operandi, Mitra said Papiya contacted the girls on the mobile phones. The clients also got in touch with her on her cellular number.

“They had to mention the code word ‘Dotcom’ to Papiya for her to understand what they wanted,” the detective chief said.

Police said the girls involved in the racket were mostly from city colleges and schools, besides a few middle-aged housewives. “We have some names and are cross-checking their involvement,’’ said a detective department officer, part of the raiding team.

“Her daughters, studying in central Calcutta colleges, were not in the flesh trade. We suspect that Papiya used them to recruit the girls,’’ Mitra added.

Investigations revealed Papiya charged anything between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 from the clients. “She kept Rs 1,000 and the rest of the money went to the girls,’’ he said.

Police said more than 24 girls were on Papiya’s payroll and that the racket had been continuing for some time.

Asked why local residents never protested or informed the police, Mitra said the girls went into the flat masquerading as friends of Papiya’s daughters.

“She was a clever woman and never invited more than four couples in the flat at any point of time, so that it did not attract neighbours’ prying attention,’’ Mitra added.

On Wednesday afternoon, detectives called on Papiya posing as clients. Once inside, they arrested the culprits. “We booked them under the Immoral Trafficking Act,’’ Mitra said.


Calcutta, May 8: 
The first sign of a thaw is showing in the rigid stand adopted by the Church of North India (CNI) schools on the tuition fee hike. On Wednesday, the St Thomas Boys’ and Girls’ schools, Kidderpore, told guardians and the police that the fee hike would be held in abeyance till the issue was sorted out amicably.

“The schools’ management has given a commitment in black and white, that it will not charge the enhanced fees till a meeting is held with the guardians to settle the dispute. We (the administration) cannot pressure the schools to lower the fees, as it is their internal matter. But we are keeping a close watch to ensure that the interests of both the management and the guardians are protected,” said Harmanpreet Singh, deputy commissioner of police (port).

In contrast, despite being buffeted by a wave of protests, St Thomas Church School, Howrah, had stuck to its decision not to effect a rollback of the fee hike.

The guardians are particularly aggrieved, since the state government has not yet announced a cut-back of its contribution to the dearness allowance for teachers. It had merely said it was considering the move, but the CNI schools, on the basis of this, had hiked their tuition fees.

The two schools were shut down sine die on Tuesday after parents went on a protest movement. However, a meeting was held later between the schools, guardians and police officers on Tuesday evening, at which the heads of the two institutions declared that they would not accept enhanced fees from any student till the matter was settled amicably. The guardians urged the management to keep its word.

Sources said that the management plans to convene a meeting with the guardians on Saturday. “We are waiting. The sooner the matter is sorted out, the better. Our children will suffer if the schools don’t reopen early,” said a spokesperson for the guardians’ forum.

Though the institutions were kept closed on Wednesday for the second consecutive day, a large number of guardians had gathered to discuss a course of action if the authorities turned down their rollback demand.


Calcutta, May 8: 
The Class X student, who had disappeared from his Shyampukur home three days ago, returned late on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he confessed to the police the reason for his disappearance. First, he wanted to get hold of Rs 8 lakh as ransom by faking his own abduction. Second, he wanted to hire a contract killer to eliminate his father.

The first lead the police got was by tracing the ransom calls to Rajarhat. The 17-year-old and a Rajarhat-based friend had made both calls on Monday and Tuesday, asking the mother to cough up Rs 8 lakh as ransom for her son.

“We had a hunch that the abduction was fake, as the callers did not mention the place of delivery. Later, we stumbled on details about the boy’s strained relationship with his father, who is separated from his mother for the past five years,” said an official.

When the parents parted ways in 1998, the boy and his mother shifted to their Shyampukur residence, in north Calcutta. His father, meanwhile, moved in with another woman at Narayanpur, near Baguiati, the police said. After some time, the mother and son became owners of two properties, one of which was later sold off for Rs 9 lakh. Hence, the demand for Rs 8 lakh, police said.

During interrogation, the boy confessed that he had already discussed with his friends the need to eliminate his father and start life afresh. Deputy commissioner, north, K.L. Tamta, said: “The boy wanted to take revenge on his father but later must have realised his mistake. Finally, he decided to come back home.”

The boy, meanwhile, told interrogators how his friends and his teachers would make fun of him. “They would jeer at me,” the boy broke down. “Everyone knew he had left us and yet people would cook up stories. I wanted to wreak vengeance on him for all my sufferings,” he told the sleuths.

When contacted, the boy’s mother said: “I think my son is not in the right frame of mind. After what he told the police about the plans on his father, I was taken aback.” She added, though, that she was happy to see him back.

Shyampukur police said the boy’s father, who had recorded his statement at the police station on Monday, was initially upset to hear his son was missing. “But he did not look worried,” an officer added. On Wednesday, the father could not be located.


Calcutta, May 8: 
Michael Chabys, a key aide of Manjit Singh Mange, who escaped from Gujarat’s Bhuj jail on the day of the earthquake last year, was arrested in central Calcutta on Wednesday.

Michael was rounded up from the Cotton Street-Rabindra Sarani intersection. Police seized 10 grams of brown sugar from him. This is Michael’s second arrest in the city in the past six months. He was earlier netted during the Pujas last year, but got bail from court. Michael had been in the city for the past month-and-a-half. “He was demanding money from businessmen in Bowbazar and Burrabazar. Recently, he instructed a trader to pay Rs 5 lakh or face the consequences,” police said.



Nine-year jail term for eight dacoits

A city sessions judge on Wednesday convicted eight persons in an armed dacoity case and sentenced them to nine years’ rigorous imprisonment. The convicts looted Rs 17 lakh from a private firm on Strand Road, in the Hare Street police station area, in August 1995. They were arrested on the basis of a complaint lodged by the owners of the firm, who had alleged that the dacoits had prior information that the money for employees’ salary had been withdrawn from Central Bank.

Suicide at Fort William

A 17-year-old girl, Soni Kumari, daughter of an army employee, committed suicide by hanging herself from the branch of a tree on the Fort William premises on Wednesday morning. Police said the girl was depressed after a dispute with family members. According to preliminary investigations, the girl’s parents were separated three years ago and since then, she was living with her father in the army quarters.

Caught in gunfire

A 28-year-old helper of a truck driver was seriously injured when miscreants opened fire in Chitpur late on Tuesday. One of the attackers was caught after a chase and beaten up. Later, police reached the spot and arrested the injured goon. The miscreant, identified as Kanai Mahato, was admitted to RG Kar Hospital. Police said the incident occurred when six miscreants, led by Manoj Shaw and Kartik Shaw, raided the area to murder Munna Pathak. On seeing Munna seated on the pavement, they started firing. A stray bullet grazed the chest of Botu Roy, the helper. Roy, too, was admitted to RG Kar Hospital.

Property seized

All property belonging to Mohammad Selim, the alleged mastermind of an abduction, has been confiscated. Selim, who is still at large, is believed to have engaged his men to abduct Salt Lake-based businessman Dinesh Singhania in April. Debkumar Ganguly, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, said the total value of the seized property was Rs 1 lakh. A picket has been posted ion front of his house. Singhania was kidnapped when he was reportedly going to purchase a plot in North 24-Parganas. Four persons, including the Singhania family’s astrologer, have been arrested. They have confessed their links with Selim.


lTraffic movement was disrupted on Central Garden Reach Road on Wednesday when a group of truck drivers squatted on the road to protest the “atrocities” of the traffic police. The obstruction was removed after the local police intervened. Trouble started when a traffic sergeant booked a truck driver for violating rules. The driver refused to pay the fine and soon gathered others to put up the blockade. Later, police booked those who participated in the roadblock on charges of violating traffic rules.

Jail programme

For the first time, inmates of Dum Dum central jail will participate in a programme to celebrate the 141st birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on the jail campus. Minister for jails and social welfare Biswanath Chowdhury and inspector-general, prisons, Anil Kumar will be present. Jail sources said undertrials and convicts would recite their own compositions.    

Calcutta, May 8: 
While Gabbar reigns in Presidency jail, Jishu Jain wields clout in the adjoining high-security Alipore Central jail. The criminal, who is charged with committing dacoities, rape and extortion, has formed a gang and is reported to have masterminded four murders from his cell.

Jail sources said on Tuesday that Jain had plotted the murders in connivance with a section of warders and policemen deployed on the Alipore jail premises. The modus operandi was simple. Jain’s henchmen, Biltu and Apu Chatterjee, would meet him once a week when relations of the prisoners were allowed to have an “interview” with the inmates. “Jain’s aides would call on him without disclosing their identities and receive instructions on how to execute the killings,” said a jail official.

Caught unawares by the development, inspector-general of prisons Anil Kumar said it was “not possible for jail officials to monitor the interviews between prisoners and their relations’’. “It is also difficult to ascertain whether those posing as relatives are actually so. We can do nothing if some of Jain’s accomplices meet him, posing as his relations, and take instructions from him,” Kumar added.

Officials said Kumar had already sought a report from jail superintendent Ramapada Bhattacharya on the matter. According to sources, Bhattacharya was informed of Jain’s activities in the cell and his proximity with a section of warders, particularly those owing allegiance to the RSP-controlled Paschim Banga Kararaksha Samity. “But the authorities concerned have not yet taken any action against Jain,” they added.

“It is serious if criminals lodged in my jails have links with the underworld. I have ordered a probe to find out if some jail staffers, particularly the warders, are involved in this nexus,” said a deputy inspector-general of prisons.

Convinced that some policemen are conniving with Jain in his underworld activities, superintendent of police, South 24-Parganas, Deb Kumar Ganguly said those found to have links with the criminal will be brought to book. “We are determined to identify the errant policemen and punish them accordingly,” he said on Tuesday.

According to sleuths, Jain had masterminded the killing of local CPI leader Golok Sen in February 2001 from his cell. In August, Jain’s accomplices murdered a close aide of his rival, Raja. In January 2002, Jain executed the killing of Bua through his aides. Promoter Mahesh Agarwal of Behala was murdered by his men in February.

Police said Jain had managed to recruit some local youths from Parnashree and Sarsuna, in Behala, to carry out the plots at his behest. “Jain had even taken a supari (contract) to kill Sen and Bua, and, for this, he was paid a handsome amount,” they added.

Officials also admitted that a section of policemen from Behala used to pass on information to Jain for “monetary benefits”.

“We have information that Jain has so far earned nearly Rs 15 lakh in the past year and a major portion of the amount is being spent on his court cases,” the officials added.

Sleuths alleged that Jain’s henchmen had a free run in Behala and were frequently spotted moving freely in the area. “We had alerted the Behala police of the activities of Jain’s accomplices, like Biltu, Bablu, Apu, before Mahesh Agarwal had been murdered. But they did not take any action against these goons,” said an assistant commissioner of police, detective department.


Calcutta, May 8: 
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Tuesday claimed to have busted an international racket in smuggling of ephedrine, a drug used to manufacture amphetamine, or the ATS group of stimulants.

NCB officials seized 36 kg of ephedrine, hidden inside boxes in the passenger compartment, from a Howrah-bound train in Chennai. Three people were arrested. “We are interrogating them,’’ the Chennai police said.

Investigations revealed that the consignment was meant for Calcutta and Guwahati. Sources said the drug would be mixed with chemicals in improvised laboratories in the city to make ATS tablets. “ATS is fast replacing heroin and other related drugs in India,” they added.

Director of NCB, Delhi, M.K. Singh, said his department has information that the ATS would find its way to drug cartels in the Northeast, Myanmar and Thailand. “A few grams of ephedrine are sufficient to manufacture ATS tablets,’’ Singh said.

According to Singh, the consignment seized was worth Rs 10,000 but it was sufficient to manufacture ATS tablets worth lakhs.

The detective department of the city police said three students, caught taking stimulants last week on Park Street, had confessed they were ATS addicts.


Calcutta, May 8: 
Calcutta High Court’s writ does not appear to carry much weight outside its premises. Nor does it weigh too heavily on warring factions of a government-sponsored school that was creating a niche among the middle-class residents in the Dum Dum-Belghoria belt.

Almost a year after the court ordered the Belghoria Jatindas Vidyamandir authorities to allow Purabi Mukherjee, headmistress, entry into the school, she is running from pillar to post to resume duty.

Mukherjee’s problems began more than two years ago, when she was beaten up by the local CPM cadre, aided by a section of the school managing committee, who, she said, had “misappropriated the teachers’ provident fund”.

She lodged an FIR and then moved court. Justice Pinaki Ghosh, in a May 2000 order, asked the school authorities to ensure its proper functioning. A month later, following a contempt suit by Mukherjee, he again asked the administration to “allow the headmistress immediately” into the school.

In May 2002, however, Mukherjee, wife of a Kalyani University professor, is still fighting against the school administration and managing committee, loaded with CPM members belonging to the faction that rules the party unit in North 24-Parganas. The special audit conducted by the directorate of school education “did not find serious anomalies”, an official said, but that has not been enough to satisfy the school managing committee.

Mukherjee became headmistress of the school after pipping the wife of an influential CPM North 24-Parganas district secretariat member, residing in Salt Lake. Her tenure, in the beginning, was peaceful, a Belghoria (East) CPM local committee member said.

“But trouble began once she fell out with a group of contractors, close to the dominant faction in the district,” he added. “The matter is complicated,” admitted senior CPM education sub-committee member Santosh De. “There was, to begin with, some allegations over PF misappropriation, but the original issue seems to have been lost in the din,” he added.

“Mukherjee was the first headmistress to instil discipline in the school,” said Kamarhati Municipality vice-chairman and local councillor Prabir Mitra.


Calcutta, May 8: 
The house of a former police officer in the Karaya area was burgled early on Wednesday. The miscreants fled with gold ornaments and cash to the tune of Rs 2.5 lakh. No arrests have been made. According to Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department, the house was empty when the burglers struck. “Yasmin Haque, son of the former police officer, S. Haque, lives there with his family. But he is in Bangladesh to take part in a soiree.”

According to police, the robbery was an “inside” job. “The criminals knew that the family was away on vacation. So they could easily break the collapsible gates and gain access to the locker,” said an officer, adding: “We are looking for the local contact who tipped them off.”

Police said the burglers might have come from nearby Dilkhusha Street, Jhowtala Lane or Broad Street.


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