March 13, 2010


Headmaster released at a village near Lalgarh

KOLKATA(INN): The writing on the wall has been there for some time of late. The noxious game of the left sectarians of kidnapping villagers and minor officials and the calling for what these thugs term an 'exchange of prisoners,' has finally come to deserving and shamed halt.

The headmaster Ranjit Duley was kidnapped last week from Sarenga in Bankura. The demand for exchange of six hardened killers with Duley could be turned down by the police solely because of the free-ranging courage as opposed to any mental frame of siege of the rural masses of the district.

Rather than let free the six criminals, the police went ahead and took into custody for- interrogation- 37 more 'Maoists' who had been cosy, careless, drunk and were entrapped. What would Koteswara Rao aka Kishanji would say to all this. Ranjit Duley has returned home. We recall how the ‘Maoist’ criminals had gunned down his brother Bishnu a year back

'Vikash' the other piece of garrulousness of the criminals has not been 'on air' for three weeks now, we note. Coming back to the metropolis, we note from Biman Basu, chairman Left Front and Bengal CPI (M) secretary that the LF would begin talks with the Workers’ Party whose secretary has expressed a desire to join the Left Front in times when ‘fresh attacks are raining down on the Communists and the Left’ from imperialism and divisive forces. (B PRASANT)


KOLKATA(INN): The so-called New People’s Army of the Philippines (NPAP) of the ‘Communist Party of Philippines’ (who are self confessedly ‘Maoists’) have been helping the ‘Maoists’ of Bengal with military training. The information has been leaked by sources in the ranks of the ‘Maoists’ of Bengal themselves.

We recall how not far back, in the beginning of this month in fact the NPAP ambushed the Filipino army on the outskirts of the Mansalay township in Mindoro Oriental province had done to death 12 soldiers and had looted their arms and ammunition plus the fatigue uniforms, much like what the “Maoists’ do in Bengal and elsewhere. Like the ‘Maoists’ here, the NPAP has been on an extortion spree over the past decade calling upon young men and women to join the ‘ranks,’ or to pay up.

Police interrogation has brought to light that Venkateswara Rao aka Dipak aka Sukumar has been trained by the Filipino ‘guerilleros,’ probably in Jharkhand and that he has developed into a psychopathic assassin who kills at will and has no trauma from doing the deed. Amongst the cadres of the CPI (M) whom Dipak killed with his own hands were comrades Kartick Singh and Gatilal Tudu at Barikul, comrade Fagu Baskey at Belpahari, comrade Sudhir Singh Sardar of Belpahari, and comrades Rabindranath and Anandamoyee Kar at Bandowan (the Kars were burnt alive after being shot).

The kidnapped headmaster of Sarenga is yet to be traced and the worse is feared. The ‘Maoists’ have in the meanwhile ran a sweep of armed assaults across Salboni in Midnapore west and killed comrades Shibshankar Das, Chandan Singh, and Binod Singh. Dipak has confessed that he is well-known to members of the so-called ‘civil society’ and is especially in good terms with an elderly woman littérature as well as a ‘human rights campaigner.’ (B PRASANT)


KOLKATA(INN): The widening of people’s resistance to the left sectarian incursion has put the self-styled ‘Maoists’ on the defensive. The Bengal unit of the CPI (M) believes that the sectarians are met toe-to-toe in several areas of Midnapore west, Bankura, and Purulia. We recall especially after a recent tour of three days in the western districts of Bengal that the siege mentality that had never worked with the working class and the rural proletariat here in Bengal even when Naxalism was at its height in the 1970s is simply not present, now more than ever. Fearlessness is the key in a great swathe of the countryside. The violence of the ‘Maoists’ continues but the masse would not be cowed down.

The initial firepower of the ‘Maoists’ along with the ambivalence of the union government and the logistical support of the Trinamuli brigade of lumpens, may have had a ‘desired effect’ of the ruling classes in the villages. Now, however, political resistance, more than protest, is the order of the day in the laal mati areas of Bengal. The CPI (M) stays in the front line, as the vanguard party of the working class, organising, agitating, propagating, and leading, the mass of the rural people.

Elsewhere, several top flight leaders of the ‘Maoists’ have been caught by the Bengal police sleuths. The latest such a person to be apprehended is Venkateswara Reddy aka Dipak aka ‘Telgi’ Dipak, aka Sukumar.

This heinous criminal with several murders attributed to him by the police investigation agencies went about Nandigram under the latter nom de plume and was instrumental in providing arms training to Trinamul Congress cadres, and some of these were later allowed to join the il-formed and undisciplined ranks of the ‘Maoists’ in both Midnapore west and Bankura, later also in Purulia and beyond. Rao shared the dais with Trinamuli supremo and her lieutenants according to the claims made by members of the ‘Maoist’ unit of Midnapore west.

An uncomfortable Sisir Adhikary, a central minister, as a bouquet of reward for his ‘work’ in Nandigram and elsewhere was found visibly embarrassed when queried about the ‘Maoist claim. He would demur and said that even if the ‘Maoists’ existed, it now ‘mattered little to him.’ This is important stuff. Earlier, on every occasion similar questions were put to him, or for that matter to the Trinamuli leadership, the inevitable response was either an angry clam up, or a high-pitched denial that there were at all any ‘Maoists’ in Bengal.

The villain and killer ‘Kishanji’ aka Koteswara Rao has stopped appearing before the television channels. He ha started to cosy up to the union Home minister by putting forth his personal cell phone and facsimile number on the scroll of very many TV channels, with no response from the union government, on the surface that is. The compulsion of what is called the dharma of the alliance and the alluring prospects of sharing the loot in Bengal has certainly kept the two uncomfortable partners, the two Congresses, Pradesh, and Trinamul, on the tenterhook of political uncertainty that occasionally bursts out into internecine violence.

However, the impression should not be conveyed through the above words that the left sectarians have ceased operations. The attack on the Shilda camp of the EFR has been recently ‘justified’ by the ‘Maoists’ in a Bengali leaflet as ‘a response’ to a ‘Chidambaram-led state violence’ in Bengal (one can always learn from the ‘Maoists’ lessons on ‘how to distort Marxism-Leninism,’ even the ‘thoughts’ of Mao Ze-dong qua ‘Kishanji’). Since then five CPI (M) workers have been done to death in a brutal manner in the laal mati zones. A headmaster of a school has been kidnapped and an ‘exchange of prisoners’ has been raucously demanded, Sankrail PS fashion, for six hardened criminals in the jail under police custody and interrogation. The people’s movement against ‘Maoists’ in the meanwhile continues to grow, widen, and consolidate. (B PRASANT)

WB ‘intellectual powerhouse’ of India: Duke of York

Express News Service Posted online: Saturday , Mar 13, 2010 at 0258 hrs
Kolkata : Having arrived a day ago as part of his first visit to Kolkata, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on Friday referred to West Bengal as the ‘intellectual powerhouse’ of the country. “I am clear that West Bengal continues to be the intellectual powerhouse of India,” he said.

As the United Kingdom’s Special Representative for International Trade, Andrew expressed concern over the environmental impact of global warming over Sunderbans. “The threat (of global warning) will resonate strongly in this part of India, in particular with the low-lying Sunderbans delta,” said Andew.

Addressing the representatives of the business community at a seminar on “UK-India Business partnership: Low carbon Economy’ organised by the Confedertaion of Indian Industry (CII) and British Deputy High Commission, the Prince said that trade between two countries was worth 12.6 billion pounds last year and India was one the biggest inward investors in UK and UK is the European investor to India.

Andrew said the transition to low carbon companies is creating business opportunities and UK is one of the most preferred markets for such products. “Many of the new generation of low carbon companies have been born directly out of university research, operating at a forefront of nano-technology, bio technology and computer science,” he said. The Prince also took a boat ride today and visited an old ship construction company in the city.

“I took an early morning boat ride on the Hooghly this morning while on a visit to Garden Reach ship-builders, which is being modernised by British assistance,” said Andrew.

CESC to set up five thermal power plants

KOLKATA,13th March: CESC plans to set up five thermal power plants with a combined capacity of 5,000 MW over the next few years, with investments in the range of INR 20000 crore.At its 600 MW Haldia plant in West Bengal, CESC is facing land acquisition hurdles. Once the land acquisition is complete, it will take about 33 months for the project to be completed.Dhariwal Infrastructure a subsidiary of CESC is undertaking a 600 MW project at Chandrapur. This project is expected to be completed in another 34 months.The company is mulling to set up one thermal generation unit each in Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa. By 2013, the company is hopeful of operationalising at least two of these three Greenfield projects.

Vikram Solar to invest INR 500 crore in West Bengal

KOLKATA: Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd a part of the Vikram group of industries would invest INR 500 crore to manufacture wafer and photovoltaic cell at its plant in Falta SEZ in West Bengal.Mr HK Chaudhury chairman of Vikram group said that to start with, the company had already invested INR 100 crore to produce PV modules with a generation capacity of 25 MW. He added that "The capacity will be expanded to 50 MW by the middle of the next financial year.”He said that Vikram Solar GmBH in Germany had been supplying 1 MW of solar power to the grid in that country. The company is also in talks for setting up solar power projects in countries like Italy, Bulgaria and France. Currently, the plant employs around 100 persons and the number would go up to 800 once the expansion process is complete.(Sourced from PTI)

IIT Kharagpur plays leadership role in advancing renewable energy in rural India

IIT KGP has been working on Bioenergy research for several decades now and with the recent launch of the PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy (PKSCB), the institute today conducted a symposium on Energy for the powerless: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, on the occasion of the fifth year celebration of the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT KGP.

Mumbai, Maharashtra, March 12, 2010 /India PRwire/ -- IIT Kharagpur (KGP) the premier institute of technology and the country's think-tank take the initiative to advance the use of renewable energy in rural India. IIT KGP has been working on Bioenergy research for several decades now and with the recent launch of the PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy (PKSCB), the institute today conducted a symposium on Energy for the powerless: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, on the occasion of the fifth year celebration of the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT KGP.
With the growing changes in technology revolutionizing the lifestyle of the rural masses in India, the PKSCB in its endeavor to promote bioenergy is harnessing the potential of young minds and encouraging entrepreneurship in this direction. While the urban success story of India is still being penned down, the young IITians are working toward the development and betterment of the rural masses. Known for their technological prowess, IIT KGP has the unique advantage of deploying this skill to enhance the life of these rural masses along with promoting entrepreneurship. PKSCB is currently exploring ways to adopt a few villages around the campus in order to help make them self-sufficient and sustainable, energywise.

The center brought together an eminent panel of distinguished members, who encouraged students to emulate their success stories through a knowledge-sharing session that was filled with enthusiasm and excitement from both students and panelists. The panel consisted of Dr. SP Gon Chowdhury, MD, West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited, Gyanesh Pandey, CEO, Husk Power Systems - the company that has recently created waves for their innovative technology of producing electricity from rice husk, Anish Thakkar, Co-Founder and Director, Greenlight Planet Inc. - who has successfully combined cutting-edge technology with innovative distribution networks to commercialize low-power LED solar lanterns for rural India and Dr. Prabha Kant Sinha, Founder & Co-Chairman, ZS Associates.

According to Dr. SP Gon Chowdhury, MD, West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited, "Energy is the key input for socio-economic development of a nation. The fast industrialization and rapid urbanization besides mechanized farming have generated a high demand for energy in all forms, be it thermal, mechanized or electrical. With fossil fuels having been exploited in an unsustainable manner the need of the hour is to develop alternate sources of energy that are not only sustainable but also eco-friendly". He also welcomed the initiative IIT KGP is taking to develop alternate energy sources and sensitize young minds to the need of the hour.

With both Gynesh Pandey and Anish Thakkar sharing their experiences and answering questions for an invigorated student body, the session was exciting and educating for students opting for entrepreneurship. Said Gyanesh Pandey, CEO, Husk Power Systems, "The power to empower lies in the simplicity of the solution to complex problems while creating socio-economic value for the rural masses and at the same time creating entrepreneurship with focus on sustainable solutions."

Dr. Prabhakant Sinha, Founder & Co-Chairman, ZS Associates, who joined the seminar through a video conferencing from Chicago, added, "While the center is focused on creating India specific bioenergy solutions it is also keen on using its knowledge base and putting it into action through products, services and business solutions. With the aim of becoming a hub for researchers and industry to gather and share knowledge and information, the PKSCB is excited to facilitate the symposium and looks forward to other initiative of the kind in the future". Dr. Sinha encouraged youngsters towards entrepreneurship while pointing out the need for inclusive growth and creating value for the bottom of the pyramid.

The symposium ended with young IITians like Sourav Das (winner of Eureka - Business Plan competition of Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Bombay) and Manoj Mandelia (honoured at MIT's EmTech 2010 where he was the youngest innovator on the list) sharing their plans for entrepreneurship and their dreams to make rural India self-sufficient and sustainable.

About Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur:
started in 2005, is a student body which promotes entrepreneurship and innovation among students of IIT and other engineering college, nourishing student ideas to profitable business ventures. It facilitates enterprise formation through various bplan competition, VC and Angel investors forum and strategy consulting. With wide array of industry stalwarts E-Cell provides round the year inspiration through guest lectures, summit and workshops. In short our motto is THINK BIG START SMALL. The cell has helped setup about 20 successful startup companies in the last five years.

About PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy, IIT KGP:

'PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy' at IIT KGP, India's first integrated bioenergy center, is envisioned to accelerate research, education and innovation in the important field of bioenergy. It brings interdisciplinary expertise of IIT Kharagpur faculty to bear, and establish collaborations in India and around the world. This center provides a unique opportunity to apply an integrated and collaborative approach to solve energy, climate change and economic challenges.

"Imaginary" Railway Budget, promised for West Bengal nothing in reality

New Delhi, 11th March: Participating in the Rajya Sabha on the discussion on general budget CPI(M) MP Shyamal Chakrbaorty said that at the outset he would like to give two examples of the railway safety measures. One is the answer to the question raised by an hon. Member of this House. Sir, the MoS of the Railways replied that about 41000 vacancies are existing in the categories deputed primarily for maintenance of tracks. So, only in the safety category, 41000 vacancies are still there.

He said, he would like to give another example. It was a statement by P.R. Menon, the General Secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union. Mr. Menon does not belong to any Left political party and he says, "The workmen are not getting proper equipment and gears. A number of workers carrying out repairs of OHT lines are electrocuted because they are forced to work without isolating the connections." So, these two instances are enough to explain the situation prevailing in the Railway department, particularly on safety measures.

Now, an impression has been created throughout India that the two consecutive Budgets have given so many projects to West Bengal. Actually, at face value, it appears so. But, what is the real situation?

He said, in the last year's Budget, 375 railway stations were announced which were to be upgraded as model stations. This year also, some new railway stations have been added. There was a name in that list. The name of the station was Nanur. I wrote a letter raising a question to the Railway Department as to where the Nanur railway station is situated. The MoS of the Railways replied that there is no such station by the name of Nanur in the Indian Railways network.

At this point BRINDA KARAT: said where is the Railway Minister? She should have been here.

Shymal Chakrbaorty said, Similarly, she recently announced in the Budget paper that names of two metro stations would be changed. One station would be named after the name of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in place of Rashbehari and the second one would be named after Mother Teresa in place of Park Circus. I tried to search as to where those metro stations were. But, there are no metro stations by the name of Rashbehari or Park Circus. So were the announcements.

Eighteen medical and nursing colleges were announced in the Railway Budget. But, not a single foundation stone has been laid for the colleges till this time. Sir, I have been given only seven minutes. How can I explain all these things? Now I come to the question of hawkers. She had assured in her Budget Speech that hawkers would be given medical insurance. It is a very good proposal. But, reality is that the railway hawkers have been fighting for too long for getting identity cards and licences. They have been deprived; they have been denied. Not only that. They have been subjected to torture by the Railway Police.

A fine of Rs.2000 or Rs.4000 was also imposed When the railway officers were asked why they were doing all these things, they replied: "It is the order from the highest authority!" Sir, how will the hawkers be identified if there is no identity card issued to them? If they are not allowed to hawk inside the train, how will it be possible?

Charboarty said that, take the example of Purulia Power Project. In the last year's Budget, it was announced that a 1,000 megawatt thermal power project would be set up in Purulia in collaboration with NTPC. One year has lapsed. Not an inch of work has been done there! Not only that; the NTPC the major partner has been withdrawn from that Project!

He said, coming to the Naihati Railway Project over the River Ganges, it was opened with much fanfare. But what is the reality? That work has been under construction for the last few years. Once there was a foundation stone laid by the hon. Minister. Now, all the foundation stone work has been completed. Only the railway line had to be installed there. Now, again, replacing that foundation stone, a new foundation stone has been laid! That is also one of the changes made! Now, she is saying about the Chittaranjan Locomotive Factory that manufactures railway engines.

He said when she was a Minister in the NDA Government, 3,000 posts were abolished. Still 2,500 posts are lying vacant. Orders were placed for 230 railway engines, but they could not complete them. They have completed only 205! The workmen are not there. And 50 per cent of that work is outsourced., She announced in the Budget that Burn Standard and Brethwiett would be taken over by the Railways. This year, in the Budget, not a single line has been written about that nor have any steps been taken! About Basumati Printing Press, she has made an open statement that she will take over it. When it was clear that "take over" means not only 'assets' but the 'liabilities' also, 'liabilities' of the employees are also to be taken. But, now,she is keeping mum! So, all these things are going on. She has now set up three Committees. In the name of 'passenger amenities', three Committees have been constituted. There is no IAS Officer; no IPS Officer; no technical person! But who are there? A painter is the Chairman! A theatre worker is the Chairman! A quiz master is the Chairman! They are making Rs.50,000/- per month. And free railway pass, free car; everything is given. What is the task of this Committee? Cleaning the bathrooms! This is the task. Some Committee members were also appointed by those three. Their only qualification is that they supported her in the last Parliament election! This is the only qualification! Huge expenses are being spent. All these expenses in railway accountAn innovative task has been taken by her; that is, changing the colour of all the railway stations! It was red. Because she does not like 'red'Like some creatures,......(Interruptions)... She is changing the colourNow, she is changing the colour of the stations. So, the colour of all the stations is going to be changed.

He said that Congress Members should be ready to hear slogans to change the colour of the Red Fort from red to green.

March 11, 2010

Trinamool gave us arms, says arrested Maoist leader

KOLKATA: The following story has been published Friday, March 5 edition of ‘The Hindu’. This is a report on the interrogation of Maoist leader “Deepak”. It shows the Trinamool-Maoist nexus.

Trinamool gave us arms, says arrested Maoist leader

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: The arrested Maoist leader Venkatesh Reddy alias Deepak, has admitted that he was tasked with setting up a safe corridor between the forested areas of West Bengal’s southwestern districts (known as Jangalmahal) and Nandigram, police sources said on Thursday.

Deepak, who was arrested here on Tuesday, is also reported to have said the Trinamool Congress had provided Maoists with arms and that they, in turn, gave supporters of the party arms training during the movement in Nandigram.

It was the Maoists’ intention to gain a foothold in the Nandigram area with Trinamool help in the course of the agitation, led by the party in 2007 against alleged moves by the State government to acquire land for the setting up a chemical hub there.

Deepak, who was grilled round the clock by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department and other higher police officials, is learnt to have been cooperating with the interrogators and speaking candidly about his activities.

However, he declined to divulge details of the organisational set-up of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), its activities and city-based sympathisers, for fear of the police embarking on random arrests.

‘Ideological differences’

According to the interrogators, Deepak said he “has ideological differences” with Maoist Polit Bureau member Kishanji over the method of continuing the movement, and blamed him for “hurrying up with things,” which resulted in successive blows to the outfit in the form of arrests and killings of squad members.

Deepak has reportedly admitted that once Operation Green Hunt is fully operational in all States, the Maoists will not be able to combat the security forces for long.

He said he was sent to West Bengal first in 1995 to do groundwork on the possibility of extending the Maoist movement.

For, the State had already witnessed one such movement in the 1970s.

Deputed to Lalgarh

Deepak said the party leaders had hoped to generate support in north Bengal as Naxalbari is located there.

Backing, however, came from the southwestern parts, and he had been deputed to the Lalgarh region since 1999 to raise armed squads before being asked to look after the land movements in Singur and Nandigram in 2006.

March 10, 2010


Interview with Manabendra Mukherjee, West Bengal Tourism Minister by Surhid Sankar Chattopadhay published in FRONTLINE, Issue 06 :: Mar. 13-26, 2010

WEST Bengal Tourism Minister Manabendra Mukherjee has come up with a number of new projects to promote tourism in the State, unique among them being the concept of river tourism. Mukherjee became a Minister for the first time in 1996 in the Jyoti Basu Cabinet. Known for his innovative approach in handling issues relating to the various departments he has headed over the years, Mukherjee feels that with greater effort the tourism sector in the State can attract more foreign and domestic tourists.
Excerpts from an interview:
What is the tourism situation in West Bengal today?

I would say it is okay; not very satisfactory. As far as foreign tourist arrival is concerned our State is ranked sixth. In the domestic tourism sector, we are ranked eighth. While the rankings are not quite bad, it is still far from satisfactory. We have to push hard to attract more foreign and domestic tourists.But West Bengal has practically all that is required to make it a top tourist destination.

It is correct that West Bengal has practically everything to make it a tourist hub. In fact, it is a mini-India in itself. It has everything except the result [smiles]. But I must say that it is also a question of perception. After the 1960s, there has been a deliberate attempt to portray West Bengal in a negative light and that has deterred a lot of tourist inflow. Now that is changing. Every year the number of tourists coming to West Bengal is increasing. If we push hard, we can disprove the wrong perception of the State.
What are your thrust areas for promoting tourism?
There are some category-wise thrust areas and those dictated by geographical considerations. Our immediate thrust areas are very specific: first develop north Bengal, particularly the Doars as a major tourist destination; second, the river Ganga; third, the metropolitan city of Kolkata; fourth, Murshidabad, the old capital of Bengal; and finally, the district of Birbhum.

We are looking at the Doars, because it is one of the most beautiful places in West Bengal. River tourism is a new concept for us. The Ganga flows through the State. That is why we are trying to promote the Ganga as a major tourist attraction. Already quite a few river cruises are operating. We are developing the infrastructure along the river so that we can attract and accommodate more tourists, particularly international tourists. This is a completely new initiative and we are getting a positive response.

Now, let us look at Kolkata. We believe Kolkata has the potential to be a huge tourist attraction. It is just that it has never been marketed properly. Heritage tourism is another aspect that has been neglected slightly. The best place to promote this kind of tourism would be Murshidabad, which is also on the bank of the Ganga. We have a plan to promote a tour along the river, starting from the Sunderbans [at the mouth of the Ganga], through the city of Kolkata, right up to Murshidabad. We have already made a suggestion to the Centre for a tour route along the river from Sagardeep to Allahabad – a route with 5,000 years of the history of Indian civilisation behind it. As I have already mentioned, the response to the idea of river tourism has been very encouraging. We are also concentrating on developing tea tourism and rural tourism.
Are you looking at private participation in the projects that you have mentioned?

Most certainly. As far as economic planning is concerned, no government can afford to spend a huge amount only on tourism. If you take the priorities into consideration, it is more important to put a blackboard in a school than set up a tourist lodge or a hotel. As far as our declared policy on tourism is concerned, the State government’s focus will be mostly on the development of infrastructure to facilitate tourism and on the introduction of new tourist destinations; the rest will be done by private investors.
Can you tell us something about the new areas that you have introduced in the tourist map of West Bengal?

We are going to develop Ahiron Beel in Murshidabad and Ballavpurdanga in Birbhum. Everybody knows Murshidabad and Birbhum but very few people know about these other places. These are beautiful places but still largely undiscovered by tourists mainly owing to lack of proper infrastructure there. We have now set up a rural tourism centre at Ballavpurdanga, which is near Shantiniketan. What attracted Maharshi Debendranath Tagore and his son Rabindranath in Bolpur (where Shantiniketan is located) can no longer be found. Shantiniketan is beautiful, but it is not what Rabindranath saw when he first came to the region.

Ballavpurdanga, which is largely untouched by tourism, still retains the old charm of the region. The local tribal populations are directly involved in the project.

We are going to promote Chinatown in Kolkata as a tourist spot. Nowhere in India can you find a place like Chinatown [where the Chinese had settled over 150 years ago and still retain their culture and cuisine and celebrate their festivals].

Initially the people of Chinatown were a little hesitant about the whole project, as no one had really taken the initiative of putting the people of Chinese origin of Kolkata in the forefront of society. But now they are very enthusiastic about it and are participating actively in the project having understood that the government is serious about it and that they will benefit as the project will get them good business.
Some of the important tourist destinations in Bengal have been witnessing a bit of unrest – the Darjeeling hills, traditionally the most popular tourist spot in the State, with the secessionist movement launched by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha; and Bankura and Purulia districts where the Maoist menace is spreading. Has tourism been hit in the State because of these factors?

This is part of the game. The most attractive place in India is Kashmir, and for the past three decades that region has been a disturbed one. While it is true that we have to solve certain problems in the State, it is also a fact that the number of tourists coming to West Bengal has been increasing in spite of the problems that you have mentioned.

Definitely tourism in the State has been hampered to some extent in the sense that if the situation in Darjeeling were absolutely normal we could expect a far greater number of tourists. I was recently reading an article which said that the maximum number of transport strikes in the world takes place in Paris; does that deter tourists from going to Paris?
What are the areas that require more attention?

Basically, developing infrastructure and attracting more private investments in the tourism sector. Owing to the economic recession, investors have been a little shy to come forward and invest in tourism; but good days will return and they will come forward again. Meanwhile, we will have to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place.

March 6, 2010

Bengal Cops land explosives haul in Maoist den

Kolkata, 5th March, 2010 : A huge haul of explosives, enough to blow up Writers’ Buildings, has been recovered by police from a Maoist hideout in a forest in Shirshi, barely 30km from Lalgarh. The 250kg of explosives —200kg of potassium nitrate and 50kg of sulphur — is the largest such recovery made by the police from the Maoists. The explosives were buried in the forest in five sacks.

“When mixed together, the potassium nitrate and sulphur along with charcoal and splinters make a very potent explosive,” said Manoj Verma, district superintendent of police. “About 400kg of explosives could have been made from it. Never before has such a large quantity been recovered from the Maoist-infested areas of the state.”

The largest explosives haul so far has been 14kg. Police officers said that on Wednesday night the joint forces started combing the Shirshi area following a specific tip-off that a team of about 30 Maoist guerrillas led by Badal of Lalgarh had taken shelter in the region.

“Around Wednesday midnight, when we had crossed Shirshi village and were proceeding towards the jungle, shots were fired at us. We fired back. About 300 rounds were fired till Thursday morning,” a police officer said. Around 8am yesterday, when firing from the forest stopped, the security forces advanced cautiously into the jungles and came across a mound of earth.
“The earth appeared to have been dug not very long ago. Maybe a few days ago. So we dug up the earth again and found the sacks of potassium nitrate and sulphur in a pit. We also found a cooking gas cylinder and the carrier of a motorcycle lying beside the mound of earth,” a police officer said.

The police said it seemed that the Maoist group had fled in a hurry and did not get time to take the explosives. After the sacks were dug out they were sent to explosives experts in Midnapore town who examined the contents and confirmed the nature of the chemicals.
A senior officer said the police suspected that explosives were being made under the supervision of a senior Maoist leader. The presence of the cooking gas cylinder strengthened the police theory that a move was afoot to make a large number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). “Obviously a gas cutter was being used to make splinters out of things like the motorcycle carrier,” an officer said. “It is possible that the gas cutter was being employed to cut galvanised iron pipes used to make directional mines.”

“We feel that a senior Maoist leader who is also an explosives expert was present in the Shirshi forest and IEDs were being made under his supervision,” the SP said. The police said Kishen, the best-known Maoist leader in Bengal, was not an explosives expert. Rebel leader Telugu Deepak had been arrested in Calcutta earlier in the week.

In all probability, the potassium nitrate had been brought from Jharkhand as the Maoists there are better equipped. Officials said that late last year a truckload of potassium nitrate coming from Maharashtra and headed for a fertiliser factory near Durgapur had been hijacked from the Jharkhand border by the Maoists.

“It is possible that the chemicals that we recovered today were part of that haul,” an officer said.
A month ago, the police had stumbled across two large tents in the Ajnashuli forest, 10km from here, and found a stock of sulphur and a small amount of gunpowder there along with instruments to repair firearms.

“The camp had been hastily abandoned and we found an empty mortar shell along with dismantled parts of country-made revolvers and single-barrel guns,” a police officer said. “It was quite apparent that this was some kind of a mini-factory for repairing firearms.” An expert said that had the explosives been distributed across five places in Writers’ Buildings, they would have had enough firepower to blow up the state’s administrative headquarters.

March 2, 2010

SFI Sweeps Students’ Union Elections in Bengal

KOLKATA: OVER 2009 and 2010, the Bengal unit of the SFI has been eminently successful in leading the election results in more than 65 per cent of the undergraduate colleges and universities, including technical institutions, wherever elections have been held for the formation of the student’s unions (SU).

From Siliguri in the north to the Sunderbans-bordering urban conurbations and rural stretches, the insidious slogan raised by the ruling classes and the media they patronised about Paribartan (change) has failed to click with the majority of the students.

The latest examples of the SFI sweep across the state are the Presidency College and the Scottish Church College. Both have been won over the SFI, in the former college for the second time running, in the latter for some time now. News reaches us that the large number of colleges that went in for SU polls on February 19 in Nadia have been won by the SFI.

We single out Presidency College for our take on the nature of the SFI success in the wake of the results of the Lok Sabha elections where, too, the young people had voted, albeit perhaps in a different way. What has brought about the Paribartan since then?

The Presidency College once had the awkward reputation that the students there lately voted for either the rightists or the left sectarians. The past two years have proved shining exceptions and the margin of both votes polled by SFI candidates and the seats that the SFI have won, have gone considerably up.

The present elections at the Presidency College saw the SFI romp home with 39 seats with the combined opposition of the ‘Maoist-BJP-dominated independent consolidation relegated to the second spot with 30 seats. One seat was a tie.

The student movement in Bengal has always been a Left one. We recall how back when we were students of this august institution, the BPSF had had a running battle with the rightist and the opportunist outfits of various kinds. Much later, when the Naxalite movement arose out of a bloodbath on the college street area, the BPSF had not given an inch away politically and organisationally.

The 1950s and the 1960s were witness to the Communist movement, specially the struggle led from the vanguard post by the CPI(M), being equipped with cadres who had come up through the student movement. Biman Basu, Shyamal Chakraborty, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Shyamali Gupta are names known principally for the leadership they provided to the BPSF and then the SFI.

The turn-around following the Lok Sabha polls started indeed with the rejection by the Bengal student community of the politics of violence, anarchy, and mayhem indulged in by the right reactionaries and their left sectarian lackeys at the Panihati College in north 24 Parganas followed by the bloodshed of SFI workers at the Harimohan Ghosh College in South 24 Pargans.
The bringing in of anti-social elements as routine chore by the Trinamuli-backed student outfits in the Kolkata colleges (Shyamaprasad College is the latest such example, in Kolkata) was yet another provocation to students who saw that the academe itself was about to be put under the shadow of the sword and the gun. The students responded with a rousing win for the SFI in a series of colleges and universities since then.

The agent provocateurs of anarchy and mayhem could mislead the young generation for a time, albeit brief, but in the final analysis it has been the politics that had dominated the thinking of the students, with the organisational integrity of the SFI at the grassroots’ level adding finally to what appears to us as a series of debacle that we are about to witness for the forces of counter-development and pro-anarchy, of the extreme right and left.