October 27, 2013

Manna Deys family upset with Mamata, refuses funeral in Kolkata

Aparajita Ray, TNN, Oct 24, 2013, 07.43PM IST

BANGALORE: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee called the late Manna Dey's younger daughter Sumita Deb around 11am on Thursday, asking to allow her government to host a grand funeral for the legendary singer.

She sent her representative, Kalyan Banerjee, MP from Kolkata, to pay tribute to the music maestro who had made Bangalore his home for two decades, and convince the bereaved family to allow the cremation to be performed in Bengal.

However, sources said Manna Dey's family ignored the Bengal CM's request and continued the rituals and cremation at the Hebbal crematorium here. Sumita was also not willing to talk to the West Bengal CM, they added.

The family was said to be upset with the apathy shown by the Mamata government in helping the singer's family during his five months of stay in hospital.

Sumita Deb told reporters the family had pleaded with the chief minister and Kolkata police commissioner to help them, when the funds set aside for his treatment were allegedly siphoned off by Dey's nephew. However, there was no response from them.

She said she hadn't rejected the offer to take the body to Kolkata but only decided to go ahead with the cremation, as everything had been arranged. "He was a simple man with great ideals, and would have preferred it this way."

Manna Dey's family had alleged that his nephew had withdrawn Rs 12 lakh from the joint account he shared with his uncle, jewellery and a watch valued at Rs 15 lakh from a locker.

"She didn't come forward to show any concern for the family which was going through a tough time in the five months and 10 days when he was undergoing treatment," Sumita said.

Manna Deys family upset with Mamata, refuses funeral in Kolkata

TMC Govt in West Bengal conspiring against me: Chowdhury

Last Updated: Sunday, October 27, 2013, 15:59  

Chowdhury's lawyer Pijush Ghosh said his client's name was in the charge sheet and the court accepted police's prayer and issued a warrant. 

"It's a cognizable offense and he can be arrested," he said. 

Trinamool Congress leader and Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee said the warrant is not a political matter. 

He was quoted by media, as saying earlier: "The court has issued some order and accordingly, the law will take its course. We won't comment on what he (Chowdhury) is alleging. He may allege anything but this is a court's order and not our party order. How can the government defy court's order?" 

But the Congress has called the move to arrest Chowdhury "a vendetta" since Murshidabad was his stronghold which Trinamool was trying to influence. 

"It is a plan of the TMC to weaken the Congress, as within a month, there will municipality elections in the district. The Congress, however, is prepared for every challenge," Chowdhury said. 

First Published: Sunday, October 27, 2013, 15:59

West Bengal floods and the blame game

THE HINDU, KOLKATA, October 21, 2013
It is indeed a tragedy that 17 lives should be lost in the recent floods in West Bengal, even as the trail of death and devastation left by the mighty Cyclone Phailin was hemmed in, in a manner that has attracted wide acclaim.
It is also ironical that an organisation like the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), described by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as one of the temples of modern India, found itself in the dock, accused of causing a disaster it was mandated to control.
Last week, just as the country heaved a sigh of relief that there was no major loss of life due to the monster cyclone, in West Bengal, people and their habitats were getting submerged under the gushing waters from the DVC and Jharkhand.
Caught unawares amid Durga Puja festivities, the West Bengal government simultaneously launched a rescue operation, and a tirade against the DVC and Jharkhand government, even shooting off a letter to the Prime Minister labelling the disaster as man-made.
The truth lies elsewhere.
The DVC came into existence in July 1948 as a multipurpose river valley project. Among its primary mandates were flood control, irrigation, and generation, transmission and distribution of power.
It controls floods mainly through four dams constructed in 1959. Their present storage capacity is 0.73 million cubic feet. All these are in Jharkhand, which had given land for these projects although it is not the targeted beneficiary.
These dams help check the mighty Damodar river which floods large parts of south Bengal when in spate during monsoon. The DVC, whose command area lies in a crescent through south Bengal and Jharkhand, is co-owned by the State governments of West Bengal and Jharkhand, and the Government of India.
The ageing DVC dams have helped moderate major and minor floods in 1959, 1961, 1973, 1978 and 1995, although their capacity has been reduced over the years.
The Durgapur Barrage, and its irrigation and navigation canals in West Bengal’s Bankura and Burdwan districts play a major role in the State’s flood control mechanism. They were built by the DVC and handed over to the State government for operation and maintenance. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s has charged the DVC and Jharkhand government with frequent discharge of water, which was flooding vast tracts of her State, adding that this was being done without adequate notice.


Experts say that the buck should stop at the door of the successive State governments in West Bengal, including the present one, which has turned a Nelson’s eye to issues like de-silting the Durgapur Barrage — whose storage capacity is vastly reduced due to lack of maintenance. A day’s notice is given by the DVC and there is a 48-hour gap between the notice and the water actually reaching the flood-prone areas in Bengal. The same cannot be said of the Jharkhand government, which often releases water without adequate notice. The quantum of the release from the DVC and Jharkhand dams is linked with the actual amount of rainfall which does not come with much advance notice.
This year, the rainfall was particularly heavy in this region, which is unusual for this time of the year. Some flooding due to release of water is unavoidable and proactive measures, rather than reactive ones are called for. But it is the West Bengal government’s duty to protect its people from a ‘routine phenomenon.’ Playing politics and a high decibel blame-game is not the best way to do that.

WBHRC report indicts TMC government, police in Presidency University attack case

By Indrajit Kundu  
India Today, Kolkata, October 22, 2013 | UPDATED 22:26 IST

KOLKATA: The West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) on Tuesday finally came out with its observations on the April 2013 attack on Kolkata's prestigious Presidency University. 

In a scathing indictment of the Mamata Banerjee govt, the report blames 'police inaction' for the incident. The report clearly states that the ruling Trinamool Congress students wing TMCP was squarely responsible for the incident and that there was 'no provocation that came from within the University'. It also states that the police inaction was deliberate, as those on rampage belonged to the student wing of the ruling party.

WBHRC in its recommendations has asked the state govt should 'formulate suitable guidelines for dealing with cases of unlawful activities by the students in educational institutions'. In a scathing indictment, the report states that the police's 'failure to discharge duty' had resulted in serious erosion of values and vitiated the atmosphere in many educational institutions of the State.

The WBHRC had taken suo-moto cognizance of the incident that had shocked the entire students' fraternity in the state. The commission had formed a one-member committee headed by former Presidency principal Prof Amal Mukherjee. In his report, Mukherjee had claimed that the attack had a clear 'political motive', that it was done by 'outsiders' having specific political affiliations, that SFI was the main target of the attack, and that it was in 'retaliation to the attack on Bengal CM in Delhi the previous evening.'


The Commisison finds that on 10.04.2013 the said University was peacefully conducting its teaching. The classes were also going on peacefully.  Around 1 O'clock a group of outsiders carrying TMCP flags and shouting slogans assembled at the main gate of university which was kept locked that time. 

Thereafter, the Registrar came out of the Vice Chancellor's room to receive a call on his cell phone when he heard a tremendous hue and cry coming from the gate and he rushed to the gate to find that the processionists had broken open the gate and entered the University campus. 

This version of the Registrar has virtually been corroborated by the Commissioner of Police and also by the Sub Inspector of Police, Sadhu Ch. Singha who was on the spot.  Sadhu Ch. Singha deposed that two of the processionists were trying to scale the university gate and were trying to tie the TMCP flags on the gate.

His findings are that at the time of the alleged incident, the situation in the University was peaceful and no provocation came from the University. These two findings tallied with the version of the police.

Mukhopadhyay gave details of the slogans which were raised by the processionists and from which it appears that they were angry with the SFI supporters in view of some incidents which happened in Delhi in which the Hon'ble Chief Minister of West Bengal was allegedly obstructed.

Professor Mukhopadhyay also held in the course of enquiry that one Shri Partha Bose, a Corporation Councilor of TMC was found standing with the unruly processionists who wanted to break open the University gate.

From the video footage shown to Professor Mukhopadhyay and the statement of Constable Sanjit, he came to hold that no brickbat was thrown from inside the University.

The human rights of the students certainly include the right to continue their studies in a peaceful atmosphere and the University authorities are also entitled to run the institution without being disrupted by such acts of hooliganism leading to destruction of their properties and leading to a total anarchy in the campus which posed a serious threat to the life and limbs of its students, teachers and members of the non-teaching staff.

Police was informed before the incident, in the course of the incident and police was present throughout the incident when the processionists went berserk in the University campus destroying properties, shouting slogans, assaulting students, chasing girl students at will for about an hour. Strangely enough no arrest was made even though the local Police Station was at a distance of less than one kilometer.

All these offences were committed with impunity by the intruders and the police was inactive. Any ordinary man of normal prudence will think that the police was inactive only because the processionists were carrying flags of TMCP which is the students' wing of the party in power.

In our opinion a major clash did not take place as the students of the University did not retaliate and were effectively controlled by their teachers. They were at the receiving end throughout the incident.

We do not think that for non-escalation of the situation, the Officer-in-Charge, Jorasakho Police Station deserves any credit. He miserably failed to discharge his duties possibly because he found that the rampaging students belong to the TMCP, the students wing of the party in power.


The State Government should formulate suitable guidelines for dealing with the cases of unlawful activities by the students in educational institutions.

Even though law is clear, such guidelines are required to be made as police often fail to discharge their duties according to law to tackle unlawful activities by students in educational institutions.

This has resulted in serious erosion of values and vitiated the atmosphere in many educational institutions of the State. Instances of lawlessness by students are on the increase and these things must be curbed not only to protect the human rights of innocent students and helpless teachers but also to maintain the purity and sanctity of these institutions.

It must be remembered that the existing infrastructures in our educational institutions are inadequate and we can ill afford to deplete them further.

Education is the most cardinal factor in social development and without education all other rights are like writs in water. Those guidelines be framed by the State Government within two months from the date of communication of the order.

In so far as the inaction of the Officer-in-Charge of Jorasanko Police Station is concerned, the Commission refrains from making any recommendation as he has already been reprimanded by the higher authorities.

The State Government is requested to inform this Commission about the action taken on the basis of the recommendation as stated in (a) above within a period of two months from the date of communication.

Writers’ Buildings temporarily dethroned as West Bengal’s seat of power

The State Secretariat will move to Howrah while renovation work is carried out at Writers’

For the first time in its history, the buzz of power that reverberates in the corridors of Writers’ Buildings, the West Bengal Secretariat, will fall silent as much of the Secretariat, including the Chief Minister’s office, will move to a new address on the other side of river Hooghly on Saturday.

Though the shift is temporary, the Trinamool Congress’s decision to relocate as many as 11 of its departments out of the historic building in the heart of the city has generated much curiosity.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced on August 7 that the relocation would take place as the historic structure, which she said had turned into a “tinderbox,” needed to be renovated and restored.
On Saturday, thousands of State government employees along with the Ministers will shift to the Howrah River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) Building, a 14-storied high-rise on the banks of the Ganga in the Howrah district.
The entire process of restructuring the HRBC Building, christened ‘Nabanna’ (new crop of paddy), and that of renovating and restoring Writers’, which was constructed in the early 18 century, is estimated to cost the State Exchequer about Rs. 200 crore.
The HRBC Building, which was conceived and set up during the tenure of the previous Left Front government, was to have housed a garment park; now instead it will be the new seat of power of the State government.
A glance at the history of both pre and post- Independent era shows that Writers’ was in private hands till the East India Company bought it in 1854. It has since been one of the most important pieces of architecture in the city and a major landmark.
Historian P.T. Nair said the reddish, customised emulsion that forms Buildings’s exterior was used to bind the red bricks during its construction. That gave the structure, both Gothic and Regal, its trademark red colour.
Like many State employees used to working there, who rue their new address mainly because of infrastructure bottlenecks and lack of facilities such as drinking water, Mr. Nair is also unable to reconcile to the decision to shift the State Secretariat to Howrah.
One consolation could be the State government’s assurance that all statutory bodies concerned will be consulted during the process of restoration and renovation work.
The Department of Architecture at two prominent institutions — Jadavpur University and Bengal Engineering and Science University — have been given the task of preparing a detailed report on the structure’s restoration.

West Bengal govt has 64 secret files on Subhas Chandra Bose: Family

KOLKATA: Family of Subhas Chandra Bose on Monday claimed that the West Bengal government held 64 secret files related to Netaji and that chief minister Mamata Banerjee had not responded to letters about them.
"They have 64 files pertaining to him. If they are made public, we will get a lot of information on him. We demand that these files should be declassified immediately," family spokesperson Chandra Kumar Bose told reporters.
"We had once written a letter to her (Mamata) but she didn't even reply. We want an appointment with her, but she doesn't even respond," family member Madhuri Bose said on the 70th foundation day of the provisional government of Azad Hind.
"If the state government isn't releasing files on Netaji, how can we ask the Central government to release files? It is the responsibility of both the governments to reveal all the records," said researcher Anuj Dhar, who has written three books on the life of Netaji.
In an earlier disclosure under the RTI appeal made by 'Mission Netaji', a Delhi-based research trust, the Prime Minister's Office had admitted that it was holding 33 secret files concerning Netaji.
The leader had escaped from house arrest by the British in 1941 to seek international support for India's freedom struggle. After organising the Indian National Army with Japanese help he went missing in 1945, giving birth to India's most debated mystery.
He was last seen at the Bangkok airport on August 17, 1945.
The Mukherjee commission formed by the Centre had rejected that Netaji had died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.