September 4, 2011

Mamata Banerjee's office has no space for freedom fighters

DNA / Santanu Banerjee / Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:00 IST

Several changes have hit the Writers Building during the past 100 days since Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister. But amidst these, one important change that has gone unnoticed in the state secretariat building is that portraits of three Indian freedom fighters have gone missing.

A section of the government officials are searching for clues to the missing portraits of Binoy Krishna Basu, Dinesh Chandra Gupta and Badal Gupta — who entered the Writers Building as young men to challenge the British and become martyrs during the freedom struggle.

The trio entered the building on December 8, 1930 and shot dead a British official, Col NS Simpson, the then Inspector General Prison, Bengal. Subsequently, they engaged the top officials in a gun battle in the building — which is now called the Veranda Battle.

Though they were overpowered, two of them died — Badal on the spot and Binoy in hospital— after consuming potassium cyanide. Dinesh, who survived, was hanged.

During the Left front rule, a small stone slab was installed in their memory at the end of first floor corridor of the Writers’ Building. Later, portraits of the three were put up in the lobby of the chief minister’s office in 1980.

Interestingly, after Banerjee started her clean up operations at the Writers’ Building, which included changing the colours of the office, its lobby and giving it a new look, the portraits were taken off from the walls.

Now, the officials looking for clues to the missing portraits said: “When this government is ready to pay tributes to all famous men in history why are the portraits of the three missing?”

And what is more baffling, no one knows if the portraits will ever come back. However, some officials said: “The portraits were sent to artists for restoration work, so that they look better.” But even they did know how long that would take.
URL of the article:

100 Days of TMC-Congress Govt: A False Start

KOLKATA: WHAT are the high points of the first 100 days of the TMC-Congress government in West Bengal? 

Organised terror against the opposition, which has claimed lives of 33 Left Front activists, injured hundreds; 684 women were assaulted physically, 508 molested and 23 raped; nearly 40,000 had to leave their homes under threat. An unprecedented extortion campaign is going on in villages.

Campaign of political vendetta, using state police forces for that purpose. More than 1500 false cases have been registered against the CPI(M) leaders and activists. CPI(M) leaders, including MLA and former minister Sushanto Ghosh, have been put in prison. CPI(M) state committee members have been targeted too.

Land grabbing and comprehensive attack on panchayats.

A unique budget without budgeting, without finalisation of sources of revenue and expenditure.

Refusal to discuss budgets of important ministries, including home, in the assembly. The chief minister herself is in-charge of these ministries.

Reversal of decisions, hastily announced by the chief minister and other ministers. One of the more important one is retarding on the re-establishment of the legislative council in the state.

Lots of nominated committees with the TMC and pro-TMC people, presiding over the jeopardising of normal governmental functions.


As per the government’s claim, peace has been restored in Darjeeling! But the reality is that the process of peace restoration, initiated by the government, has been done at the cost of recognising the term Gorkhaland.
The process to establish Gorkhaland Territorial Area has started. The survey will be conducted in order to include the new areas into the said territory.


The Singur problem remains and has become much complicated with the new government’s decision to return the lands to the unwilling farmers with the force of the special legislation. The whole controversy has aggravated since it has gone to the court.


The chief minister had earlier declared that there will be 23 new ration shops in jangal mahal area to ensure food distribution. Unfortunately, not a single one has been established in West Midnapore district, where 11 of 23 blocks of jangal mahal are situated.

The government has a proposal for the creation of 10,000 Special Police Officers to tackle the 'Maoist' situation in jangal mahal like the Chhattisgarh government. In this context the government has completely dumped the Supreme Court’s order against the creation of SPOs to tackle the 'Maoist' problems.

Meanwhile, the 'Maoists' have started to regroup.


The performance of TMC-led government in the specific sectors like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is not only poor but also much lower than the performance made during the tenure of the Left Front government. The contrast with the tenure of the Left Front government can be easily seen. The government has claimed that a total number of 1 crore 59 lakh working days have been created whereas the same was 15 crore at the time of the Left Front government.


The document, celebrating 90 days, published by the new government has proclaimed that it has already provided jobs for 2,79,286 people in its first months. The break up shows that out of those jobs 2 lakh jobs have been given in the private sector and the 79,286 have been provided in the government offices. The government did not bother to disclose the names of the private sector where the jobs have been given and the government sector break up reveals that most of the posts have been proposed and created. So, as yet the government has not provided any jobs.


Most of the works cited in the book released by the TMC-led government are the repetition of the projects and works undertaken by the government of West Bengal during the tenure of the Left Front.

The modernisation of the Coochbihar Airport and the commencement of Kolkata-Coochbihar flight - in reality, the whole infrastructural work, was done during the time of the Left Front government and the project was waiting for its official inauguration.

The draft policy for the street vendors was also introduced during the time of the Left Front government, although it is falsely cited as a success of the new government.

A project of Rs 500 crore for job generation and a project of Rs 800 crore for building urban houses, has been falsely claimed by the TMC government as its success. They were also the projects taken up by the Left Front government.

Peoples’ Democracy, September 04, 2011

Sculptor forced to leave studio

Prithvijit MitraPrithvijit Mitra | TNN, Sep 1, 2011, 02.32AM IST

KOLKATA: He chips away listlessly at a block of marble, often stopping abruptly to stare at his chisel. Then he gets up and steps out into the balcony, pacing up and down before he returns to settle down once again. The chipping starts, but sculptor Gopal Prasad Mandal looks rattled and out of sorts. He has reason to be. Three weeks ago, Mandal, a retired teacher of the Government College of Art whose works have been exhibited around the globe, was allegedly assaulted and driven out of his studio in Behala. The reason: Mandal refused to give in to threats from a group of locals who had been demanding money.

On August 12, as he was entering his studio at Behala's Parui Kancha Road, Mandal was hit on the back with a hammer by one of the labourers appointed by him to construct the studio. The bleeding artist rushed to the local Behala police station to lodge an FIR, but was allegedly asked to get a witness. Mandal was forced to register a general complaint. Shaken by the sudden assault and persistent threats, he left the studio where he had been staying for the last three months and has since been confined to his Salt Lake residence. More than 80 of his sculptures, including a series of terracotta figurines that he was working on, are lying at the Behala studio. Mandal fears these could be stolen by labourers who still occupy a portion of the two-storey house.

"A group of local youths, who claimed they were Trinamool Congress members, started asking for money ever since I started renovating the house in Behala which I bought in 2009. My plan was to create a sculpting studio on the ground floor and another one on the first floor which I intended to use for painting. Immediately after I appointed labourers, the youths came and asked for Rs 5,000. When I refused, they told me that I must buy construction material from them. I agreed, for there seemed to be no other option. But the demand for money continued and they started threatening me," said Mandal.

In July, the youths came to the studio and threatened the labourers who had been staying on the ground floor. "Next morning, the labourers started heckling me for payments though it was not due. The group was led by Ismail Sheikh, whom I had allowed to stay at the studio till the construction was completed. I asked him to move out but he refused, saying he needed a week to make an alternative arrangement. He never left my studio," alleged Mandal, a disciple of legendary sculptor Chintamani Kar.

As he was returning from the local market on August 12, Tohid Sheikh - a labourer who had been residing at the studio - allegedly charged at him with a hammer. Mandal ducked and the hammer landed on his back, creating two deep gashes under the shoulder. He had to be taken to Vidyasagar Hospital. "I was taken aback, for I had no problem with the labourers, least of all with Tohid whom I hardly ever interacted with. I suspect he was paid by the local toughs to attack me. They obviously wanted to teach me a lesson for refusing to pay up," he said. Tohid was later arrested and released on bail.

Mandal kept receiving calls for money from the labourers. Last week, Ismail Sheikh asked for Rs 30,000 as part payment for the construction job. Mandal took his son along to the studio and made the payment. One of the local youths immediately took away Rs 5,000 and asked Mandal to pay an equal amount to Sheikh. "I told them I did not have the money and will not make any further payment. But I am scared to visit my studio now. They might try to kill me," said Mandal.

The sculptor claimed he has lodged a complaint with the SP of South 24-Parganas, though the latter said he was yet to receive it. "The matter would be looked into once I receive the complaint," said SP (South 24-Parganas) L N Meena.

Mandal, however, fears that it could be too late by the time police take action. "Almost half of my life's works are there at the studio. It would be a big loss for me if they are stolen. All I want is to be able to return to my studio and resume work. I can't work at my home for there's hardly any space," Mandal said.

Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said he couldn't act till he received a complaint. "I can't keep track of what's happening in the lanes and bylanes of Behala. I will look into the matter once I receive a complaint," Chatterjee said.