CBI hits baby-swap stonewall
Pot-pourri at lunch table
A runny nose? It could be rhinitis
Partial stay on water lines
The City Diary
Clive�s house lives on celluloid
Tram strike in flyover fallout
Art now tax-free at Academy
Premium cover for policemen
Sinha widow moves court for CBI probe

Calcutta, July 31: 
The CBI is at a dead end. Unable to find a way out of the labyrinth the Medical College baby swap case has landed it in, the investigating agency will hand over its final report to Calcutta High Court �soon�. The one positive outcome would be a permanent home for a �parentless� baby girl.

After over three years of investigating all possible leads and DNA reports, the CBI is about to tag the case �unresolved�, with no solutions for the parents who lost the boy, and no one directly held responsible for the intriguing case.

But little Adrita will be happy. She is the baby Keya Bhattacharya refused to accept, because the nurses had handed her a girl, and not the boy she had delivered. As the investigations dragged on, the baby grew up in the care of the nurses at Eden Hospital, the maternity wing of Medical College. Till former chief justice Anandamoy Bhattacharya and his wife Aparna decided to take her home. The Bhattacharyas are waiting for the formal court order that will give them permanent custody of the girl, now four years old.

CBI sources in Delhi said the inquiries had hit a dead end as the Medical College Hospital authorities could not furnish vital records and documents related to the case. �The hospital has admitted that some of the documents are missing, while others have been destroyed. Without them, no positive conclusion can be reached,�� said Lokenath Bera, CBI senior deputy inspector-general of police.

The report will contain all known details of the case, like the date when Keya first arrived at MR Bangur Hospital�s outpatient department (May 23, 1998). She was admitted to the labour ward (Ward 5) of the hospital on May 25 and, two days later, delivered a �premature, underweight male child� at 12.10 am.

Investigations revealed that the boy weighed 1.25 kg. The labour room personnel had allotted them number 489. The baby was kept in a �warmer� till 4 pm, after which the father, Alok Bhattacharya took the underweight baby to Seva Sadan.

Seva Sadan authorities told Alok they were not equipped to treat the baby and directed him to National Medical College and Hospital, in Park Circus. But the father, unable to admit the baby, took him to the nearby Institute of Child Health at 6 pm. There, no bed was available. He then went to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital around 6.30 pm on May 27 and was directed to Sishu Niwas Medical (SNM) ward.

Records made available by the Medical College authorities say the baby weighed 1 kg. The ward also treats babies not born at Eden. The baby was then transferred to the New Nursery at Eden Hospital building at 7.15 pm. Records there indicate that the baby weighed .95 kg. Meanwhile, Keya was discharged from MR Bangur on June 2.

The CBI has made the following observations:

Weight of the baby in the MR Bangur labour room was 1.25 kg; 1 kg at SNM; .95 kg at Eden Hospital.

The baby�s condition was poor.

Transfer register at SNM ward is missing.

Interpolation in documents maintained at emergency room, SNM, New Nursery with regard to the sex of the baby.

There was one unclaimed female child at the New Nursery, whose DNA sample could not be matched with any one.

There were a dozen babies born at Eden Hospital on May 27.


Calcutta, July 31: 
India�s freshest political face, a veteran atomic scientist and the hottest teen heart-throb. That was the eclectic guest-list at one of Calcutta�s newest restaurants on Wednesday afternoon; one expected, two just dropping by.

It was a rainy-day lunch for junior foreign minister Omar Abdullah, and director emeritus, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, Raja Ramanna, in the footsteps of screen star Fardeen Khan at Grain of Salt. But it was only when the police showed up with sniffer dogs at 11 am did the restaurant find out they would be hosting more than one celebrity on Wednesday.

First to arrive at Sanjeev Kapoor�s Camac Street food stop was Fardeen, with a poss� of Pepsi executives, at 12.30 pm. This was the scheduled B-lunch, to discuss the brand ambassador�s brush with fans at city discos later in the day. Not taking off his grey-green shades, even while devouring the barbecue platters before him, the Jungle man spent around an hour chatting with the suits before pausing to pay his compliments to the chef.

Fardeen�s city stop was brief � flying in this morning and leaving tonight, to be in time for a Mumbai shoot of Khushi. �I sometimes cook myself. I find it therapeutic,� he smiled, in between autograph-signing and photo-shoots with young fans. Looking calm amidst the Bollywood storm, Fardeen sounded sympathetic to the plight of his colleague, Sunjay Dutt. �I myself was involved in a controversial case a year ago, and I didn�t like those who didn�t know the facts to comment on it. But I have known Sunjay and his family for years now, and he is not a terrorist.�

Fardeen had been told that Omar, a �friend�, was due to drop by. �I guess he got busy. He was supposed to come here.� Just as he got up to leave, they were told that Omar had arrived. But when asked if he wanted to pay the politician�s table a visit, Fardeen politely declined, breezing off with his own gang.

The spotlight then shifted to the man from Kashmir, on a �personal visit� to Calcutta. He wandered around � half-sleeved white button-down shirt hanging loose over black trousers � checking out what the buffet had on offer. Refusing to make a formal comment, he preferred chatting with his lunch companions Dr Raja Ramanna, former director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and minister of state for defence, host K.K. Chirimar of Raghunath Exporters, and German and Japanese tea-buyers. �We�ve been family friends for years,� said Chirimar about his two star guests, whose Darjeeling tea garden Steinthal is celebrating its 150th birthday.

Add to the pot-pourri of guests an elaborate security cover, a sharp July shower and Fardeen fans� It was all happening at 22, Camac Street.


Calcutta, July 31: 
Common cold or allergic rhinitis? It�s a common mistake for general practitioners, in Calcutta and elsewhere in the country, to mistake Allergic Rhinitis, �which left untreated, turns into asthma�, for common cold.

The warning comes from the chairperson of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Asia-Pacific Rhinitis Guidelines Initiative, Prof Ruby Pawankar. The allergologist is in town for an interaction with general practitioners to create awareness on the diagnostic and treatment procedure of allergies.

�Allergic Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, resulting from exposure to an inhaled allergic trigger. It has common symptoms, like bouts of sneezing, a runny nose, stuffy nose or an itchy nose, generally confused as a common cold by patients and general practitioners as well,� says Pawankar.

Apart from �a rise in outdoor pollution levels and indoor tobacco smoking, a change in dietary habits in general� have contributed to the increase in allergic diseases. A recent WHO study has also found air-borne pollen like lantana, cucurbita and cassia, cereal flour like wheat and oat, and insects like cockroaches and flies contributing as allergen sources in Calcutta. �In Calcutta and other parts of the country, allergic rhinitis has remained largely undiagnosed, causing a lot of harm. The lack of awareness among general practitioners is evident, and that is where we have stepped in by trying to spread an awareness about allergies,� says Pawankar, also a director of the World Allergy Organisation.

Undiagnosed Allergic Rhinitis turns into asthma � inflammation of the lower airways, causing acute breathing problems, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Evidence collected by WHO reveals that 26 per cent of the Indian population suffers from allergic rhinitis and 80 per cent of all asthma patients have been suffering from co-existent rhinitis.

Susovan Halder, a specialist in asthma, says he does get patients with allergic rhinitis symptoms, with a past history of common-cold treatment. Indian Medical Association secretary and general practitioner R.D. Dubey, however, feels the confusion �takes place because the symptoms are generally similar�.

In Calcutta to release two books on allergic rhinitis � one for doctors and one for patients � Prof Pawankar says: �The patients have a big role to play in understanding the symptoms of rhinitis and explaining it to the doctor. The physician, in turn, must direct the patient to the correct tests, which can detect rhinitis.

For Pawankar, the Calcutta trip, part of a country tour courtesy pharmaceutical firm Astra Zeneca, has been a return to roots. �I studied in Calcutta and still remember Park Street, Alipore and most of the city vividly.� She is working on a plan to open a hi-tech Institute on Allergology in a year. �Although I haven�t finalised the place, a lot of people have suggested Calcutta, where I grew up, and that is definitely on my mind. But most importantly, we need speciality centres in allergology as soon as possible.�


Calcutta, July 31: 
Calcutta High Court on Wednesday stayed for two months the decision of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) to disconnect the water supply lines to only two of the 17 sections of Karnani Mansions, 25A and 25B, Park Street.

The matter was brought before Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya on Tuesday by the Karnani Mansions Residents Association, after the CMC served a notice to pay property tax of Rs 2.33 crore by July 30, or have the water lines snapped.

Representatives of the residents� association, however, said the court had given them till Friday to file an affidavit with rental details. If the affidavit is accepted, the CMC will get three weeks to counter the plea. The residents will then have another week to file a fresh petition. That gives them at least a month before the case is resolved.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has directed municipal commissioner Debasis Som to �take action to realise� the outstanding property tax from the other 15 sections of Karnani Mansions.



SFI assault on RG Kar student

A final-year student of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital was allegedly assaulted and thrown out of his college hostel room in the middle of the night early this week by Student Federation of India (SFI) activists for refusing to rejoin the union. Police said Sandip Baidya, a former SFI member, had shifted to a vacant room to prepare for his exams. Baidya claimed he was beaten up in hostel superintendent Shaukat Ali�s office. The supporters followed him there when he went to make a complaint. All his belongings, he alleged, were hurled out of the third-floor room on Amherst Street. After he failed to convince the hostel superintendent about the assault, Baidya lodged a complaint with the Amherst Street police station which provided him with protection to return to the hostel. Immediately after the escorts left, the SFI supporters returned around 2.30 am on Tuesday and beat him up again. Baidya locked himself inside the hostel superintendent�s office for the rest of the night, before leaving the hostel premises early in the morning. When contacted, Ali said �who fights whom� is not his concern. �They are all adults, so they will have to sort out such things themselves,� he added. Deputy commissioner of police (north) K.L. Tamta said he was monitoring the investigation. �But when the college and hostel authorities cannot do anything about it, what can the police do?� Tamta asked. An SFI spokesperson in the hostel denied the allegation of assault. �A minor incident may have taken place, which, for reasons best known to him, Baidya is exaggerating,� he said.

Classes stalled over salary cut

The indefinite agitation by teachers of Baghbazar Women�s College disrupted the functioning of the institution for the third day on Wednesday. The movement is in protest at the college authorities� decision to deduct a �substantial amount� from the salaries of 16 teachers for not attending special weekly classes on social issues. Teachers held a sit-in in front of the college and stayed away from classes. On the basis of a complaint lodged by the agitating teachers, a Calcutta University (CU) team visited the college on Wednesday. Suranjan Das, CU pro-vice chancellor, academic, said action would be taken after the committee submitted its report �by the end of this week�.

Rs 2-cr drug haul

An apartment in Ekbalpore Lane yielded 24 kg of heroin, hashish, cannabis and other banned substances worth Rs 2 crore during a raid early on Wednesday. Mustaque Ali of Murshidabad was arrested. Police said Ali owes allegiance to Babu Khan, a drug lord of Kidderpore.

Firpo�s crossfire

Fire minister Pratim Chatterjee on Wednesday contradicted deputy commissioner (detective department) Soumen Mitra�s observation that arson was behind the fire at Firpo�s market. Chatterjee said the forensic report had not indicated any sabotage. �It has mentioned something about combustible material. But that alone does not prove that there was foul play,� he said.

Held for murder

Swapan Lodh was arrested in Regent Park on Tuesday night. Lodh was wanted in at least a dozen murder cases, including the killing of Bapi Dutta, a Kudghat-based promoter, in 2001. Police said a revolver was also found in his possession

In the dark

Large areas of Santoshpur, Purba Jadavpur, Kalikapur and Mukundapur went without power from 6 am on Wednesday, following a multiple fault in the CESC�s high-tension underground cable. The fault was repaired and power supply was restored around 7.30 pm. A CESC spokesman said engineers found that the cable had been damaged during digging of the road by the Corporation.

Killer convicted

The judge of city civil and sessions� court, 12th bench, convicted Md. Zaheer, a resident of Giribabu Lane, of murder and sentenced him to five years� imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 on Wednesday. Police said Zaheer had murdered his 26-year-old neighbour Maqsood Alam.

Saha death case

Justice D.P. Sengupta of Calcutta High Court on Wednesday refused to hear an appeal filed by US-based doctor Kunal Saha, challenging the order passed by Alipore chief judicial magistrate on personal grounds. He has requested the chief justice to reassign the appeal. Saha�s lawyer Tapen Roy Chowdhury said the CJM�s sentence against Sukumar Mukherjee and Baidyanath Halder was �inadequate�.    

Calcutta, July 31: 
Much talked about, photographed and filmed. Yet the house of Robert Clive, the man who founded the Empire in India, lies much neglected in Dum Dum. Even about two years ago, its roof was almost intact. Now, if one looks up, one gets a clear view of the sky above.

A cast-iron fireplace is still set in the wall of a first-floor room, the room where Clive is supposed to have dreamt of the empire. Or so an investigative and witty BBC film on the house shot last year would have us believe. It is part of a serial titled House Detectives.

Recently, the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) visited this picturesque ruin and had given instructions for the interior to be covered with a sheet of plastic. But this has not been done yet and it is still exposed to the elements.

Clive�s house is silently disintegrating. It is one of those rare buildings in Calcutta which sits on top of a huge mound. The field on which it rests is hemmed in by what one must dub a concrete undergrowth, considering the mean proportions of these new houses. So from afar, one still gets an unimpeded view of it. In the deathly embrace of banyan and peepul trees, Clive�s house is a romantic vision amidst the urban sprawl.

This is perhaps what drew the BBC team to this ruin. The film was produced by Nicky Pattison. Banani Kakkar of PUBLIC was its associate producer. It is built around the visit of the architectural historian Dan Cruikshank and presenter Anna Bennet to the building. It was screened at the Grand on Tuesday evening before a large gathering.

Shuttling back and forth from the crowded and chaotic alleys of the City of Palaces to the glamour of South Kensington (where the V&A stands), from Murshidabad to the beautiful English countryside (Styche in Shropshire, which is Clive�s birthplace), the film presents a glittering mosaic of constrasting views, colours, sounds and music.

The focus was both on the colonial buildings as well as the palaces of the native princes and merchants in the bylanes of north Calcutta. So we catch glimpses of the imposing columns of the Pathuriaghat Rajbari, Marble Palace and Writers� Buildings, as well. We walk down the thakur dalan of Sobhabazar Rajbari, and then witness a nautch in progress, perhaps the way Clive did after his victory in the Battle of Plassey, aided by Raja Nabakissen, who later became his tutor and confidant.

We drool over the dazzling saar pench, a turban jewel set with a huge sapphire and emeralds and rubies, which was once part of Clive�s treasures and is now in the V&A collection. Along with the camera we marvel at the floral embellishments on a table inlaid with ivory produced in Visakhapatnam. This, too, was part of Clive�s effects.

Even more fascinating was the way in which Cruikshank and Bennet compared the tectonics of Clive�s house and those of the native stately homes, which, as they commented, were really classical buildings in fancy dress. Aided by an artist�s impression of what the splendid house must have looked in Clive�s time, they came to the very plausible conclusion that all buildings constructed by Europeans, including the Raj Bhavan, followed a set pattern that was a hybrid of indigenous and classical ideals.

Cruikshank in his summer suit and posh accent was pucca to the hilt. Bennet had chosen to go native. They hobnobbed with the squatters and their children and panted in the heat.

Together, they stumbled upon a secret of the past concealed behind the buttresses. They discovered the traces of an ancient Mughal building over which Clive must have constructed his home. The evidence was in the two sizes of brick used.

The film ended as S.B. Ota, then ASI local head, showed the traces of a 12th century settlement he had discovered in the mound. It was great watching it. But what does the future hold for Clive�s house? That question remains unanswered.


Calcutta, July 31: 
Tram services in city will remain suspended on August 7, following a face-off between West Bengal transport minister Subhas Chakraborty and the CPM�s labour arm, Citu, of which he is one of the vice-presidents.

The issue: suspension of trams and uprooting of tracks on a 700-metre stretch between the newly-constructed flyover approach road and the Gariahat tram depot. The suspension of services in the area will allow easy flow of traffic, experts feel.

The Citu-controlled Calcutta Tramways Workers� and Employees� Union has slapped a notice on the authorities, warning that they will go on a day�s strike on August 7 to protest the suspension decision.

Nearly 100 trams on route numbers 25 and 26 would ply daily between Howrah and Ballygunge, via this small stretch, but they remain suspended ever since construction of the flyover began two years ago.

Against this backdrop, nearly 200 trams and 250 long-distance buses of the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) will be off the city roads on August 7 for the first time in recent times. Officials said on Wednesday that some minor strikes had been resorted to on earlier occasions, but there had not been a day-long suspension of services of late.

�We will go ahead with the strike to register our protest against the transport department�s abrupt withdrawal of trams and uprooting of tracks in the Gariahat area,� said Rajdeo Goala, workers� union president and CPM MLA from Belgachhia (West). He said the management had uprooted the tracks without the concurrence of the union.

Though the transport minister was not available for comment, department officials said during the day that discussions were on with Citu�s highest leadership to dissuade it from resorting to a strike.

CTC chairman-cum-managing director Sudhir De said that he, too, had received a letter from the Citu-controlled union, warning him that the strike was �inevitable, if you cannot re-lay the track on the Gariahat stretch and make arrangements to re-introduce trams on routes 25 and 26.�

De said work of uprooting the tracks began on July 15, only after the government informed CTC that services on routes 25 and 26 would be suspended to avoid traffic snarls in the Gariahat area. �We were left with no option but to carry out the government order,� he said.

CTC chief engineer Chandra Shekhar Bhattacharya claimed guardians of school-going children were urging CTC to re-introduce services between Ballygunge and Gariahat depot.


Calcutta, July 31: 
Happy days are ahead for artists. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has decided to waive amusement tax on exhibitions of art and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts. �I think the waiver will encourage our budding artists and sculptors,� said Mukherjee.

However, the exemption will remain strictly limited to exhibitions of the visual arts, he added.

There are three non-commercial art galleries in the city � the Academy of Fine Arts, Birla Academy and the Gaganendra Pradarshashala � and the CMC would levy amusement tax only on exhibitions at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Recently, an artists� forum called Dynamic Art Movement drew the mayor�s attention to the anomaly and requested him to exempt visual arts exhibitions from amusement tax.

Forum president Ashit Pal hailed the mayor�s move, saying it would go a long way in helping the financially-weak artists. He pointed out the problems faced by artists in depositing the amusement tax and getting the necessary clearance from Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

Dynamic Art Movement also urged the mayor to earmark 0.1 per cent of the annual civic budget for fostering the growth of public art in the city. It pointed out that in metros the world over, the civic authorities allocate funds to beautify parks, gardens and other open spaces with artwork and sculptures.

�I appreciate the proposal, but a policy needs to be worked out on this,� Mukherjee replied.

In the CMC, he said, 0.1 per cent of the annual budget would mean a sum of Rs 80 lakh. In its present financial condition, an outlay of Rs 80 lakh for the promotion of art would be a little difficult for the CMC to afford, the mayor said.


Calcutta, July 31: 
Alarmed over the growing number of fatalities and physical disability suffered by policemen in accidents, Calcutta Police has initiated a move to bring the force under a health and personal accident insurance scheme. Police commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty, who is monitoring the scheme, held a meeting last week with all the deputy commissioners of police and asked them to implement the coverage at the earliest.

According to the scheme, every policeman, irrespective of rank, will pay an annual premium of Rs 1,440, for which he will get a lakh in case of disability in any accident. He/she will also get up to Rs 50,000 towards treatment for any disease. In case of death in accident, the compensation will be Rs 2 lakh.

Calcutta Police has finalised the scheme after holding discussions with New India Assurance Company.

�Our force, working in police stations and battalions, get a medical allowance of Rs 1,200 a year. So, the policeman need not worry about paying the annual premium. He will have to pay Rs 240 a year only,�� said an officer.

Nearly 1,200 policemen die on duty every year in accidents and from diseases. Though a close relative is entitled to get a job in the event of death of a policeman on duty, the scope is narrowing because of the state government�s financial stringency.

In case of any accident either on duty or at home, or in case of any major disease, policemen do get some financial assistance, but the amount provided is meagre.

�Realising the problems faced by the men, especially our constables, we have decided to launch the insurance scheme. We are convincing the force to enroll in the scheme for its own advantage. Once the men come under the cover, they need not worry for funds in case of any major disease or accident,�� said commissioner Chakraborty.

A policeman gets only Rs 100 a month by way of medical allowance, which, the commissioner admitted, hardly pays for any medicines or treatment that may be required. The insurance scheme will take care of their needs from now, he added.

Calcutta South division will be the first to implement the new scheme. Deputy commissioner of police (south) Kuldip Singh held a meeting with the officers-in-charge of all the 14 police stations under his jurisdiction and briefed them on the formalities of the scheme, in the presence of the insurance company officials.

Singh said the insurance company officials would remain posted at all police stations on pay day every month to help the force handle the necessary paperwork and collect the premium. �The response from the constables has been overwhelming. We hope we shall be able to cover every policeman within the next two months,�� the deputy commissioner said.


Calcutta, July 31: 
Some three weeks after Abhijit Sinha�s suicide, his widow moved the high court to seek a CBI probe into the government official�s death.

Manasi, daughter of Moloy Sinha, a deputy superintendent of police with the CID and a �favourite� officer of the chief minister, said in her petition that she had no faith in the state government, especially after it exonerated the Midnapur police. She alleged that her husband, who was picked up for suspected links with the Peoples� War, was mentally tortured which led to his suicide.

�After the chief minister repeatedly turned down the demand for a CBI probe, we approached the high court for justice,�� said Alok Mitra, counsel for Manasi. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had maintained that the home department was competent to inquire into the matter.

The petition, filed in the court of Justice Altamash Kabir on Tuesday, is expected to come up for hearing either on Thursday or next Tuesday.

Mitra said that all the 22 respondents, including chief secretary Sourin Roy, home secretary Amit Kiran Deb and director general of police D.C. Vajpai, have been served notices about the petition.

Manasi alleged in the petition that the police violated Supreme Court directives while detaining and interrogating Sinha. �Police harassment and mental torture forced my husband to commit suicide.�

Mitra said Manasi also filed an FIR against the Paschim Midnapur police at Dum Dum police station on July 14. Explaining the delay in filing the FIR, Manasi said in the petition that she needed time to recover from the trauma of her husband�s death.

�The home department has not taken any action against police officers for violating the apex court�s directives and abetting Abhijit�s suicide,�� Manasi said in the petition. �This is why we were forced to move the court.�

According to Amita Ghosh and Rajesh Ganguly, advocates assisting Manasi�s counsel, the police violated several Supreme Court directives mentioned in the All India Reporter, 1997, (page 610).

First, the policemen should be in uniform and have their names clearly mentioned in the batches pinned on their chest, which was not the case when Sinha was detained.

Moreover, the police should provide a written document to the accused person�s family, stating the reasons for the arrest or detention. It should also state where the accused will be taken for interrogation. The document has to be signed by a relative of the accused or a respected elder of the locality.

Besides, a warrant of arrest has to be issued in the accused person�s name in case he is being arrested.

However, a senior state police official said: �The state police has not done anything wrong. I am certain that this will be conclusively proved in court.�


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