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25 Oct 2014

West Bengal: Over 13 lakh investors left disgruntled

While 18 lakh depositors of Saradha-owned chit fund companies applied for compensation, only 4.98 lakh have
been compensated by the state.
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Kolkata | October 24, 2014: The state government’s order to close down the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission, which was looking into the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, on Wednesday has dashed hopes of more than 13 lakh depositors of these money-pooling firms who still await a refund of their invested money.
While 18 lakh depositors of Saradha-owned chit fund companies applied for compensation, only 4.98 lakh have been compensated by the state. Apart from them, five lakh depositors of other ponzi schemes being investigated by the commission have also not received a single paisa from the government.
For the past five months, 40-year-old Ruhul Amin, from Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district, has been routinely making rounds of the office of the Sen Commission on Council House Street twice every month to check the progress of his application seeking refund of the money that he had deposited with the Saradha Group.
“We were duped for the second time. First it was Saradha Group owner Sudipta Sen and then Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who cheated us. It was a colossal case of discrimination,’’ Amin, who lost about Rs 1.5 lakh, told The Indian Express.
Some of the depositors came near the Sen Commission office and, loitered around aimlessly, looking at the huge police force deployment.
“From Sudipta to Didi, everybody played ducks and drakes with our lives,’’ said a couple of unhappy investors.
Though official records state that 18 lakh depositors of Saradha chit fund firms applied for compensation, big sacks, containing applications, lay unopened in the office, suggesting that the number could be more.
When asked the reason for the order, Mamata said Tuesday she was closing the commission down since the state government had no funds. “I had money to compensate five lakh people only. But to refund the rest, I have no money,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen filed his 404-page report to the state government. Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court rejected a petition of a section of the depositors to consider an extension of the term of the Sen Commission. However, some other investors said they would move the court again to redress their grievances. “We were wondering why we were discriminated against. While a small section has got the money we did not get it. It is sheer discrimination and it is unconstitutional,’’ Chittaranjan Das from Memary of Burdwan, who had deposited Rs 4.5 lakh with a chit fund, Shile India Agro Industries Ltd, told The Indian Express.
Officials of CBI and Enforecement Directorate went to the Commission office Wednesday and collected the software containing information on various companies and the depositors.

Kali Puja over, but winter still a month away

TNN | Oct 25, 2014, KOLKATA: Did you feel unusually warm this Kali Puja? Did you miss the nip in the air on Diwali? Even as the season's major festivals drew to a close, there is no sign of a dip in mercury. Going by the weatherman, the situation will stay this way for over a month more before winter sets in some time early December.
"Festivals have traditionally coincided with change of seasons. This year though, the early schedules of Durga Puja and %Diwali have meant that the festivities were celebrated in relative warmth. In Kolkata, winter usually sets in late (towards November-end and December-beginning). This year, too, we don't expect winter to set in before the first or second week of December," Regional Meteorological Centre director GC Debnath said.
Till winter arrives though, the weather will be comfortable since humidity will be low. With the retreating of monsoon, no more rain is expected unless there's a cyclonic formation. Though a tropical cyclone is developing in the Arabian Sea and is likely to bring rains to northwest India, eastern India will be beyond its influence.
"In meteorology, we consider October-November to be the cyclone period. Kolkata's weather will be dry unless a cyclone develops in the Bay of Bengal and brings scattered showers," he said.
Between now and winter, there won't be any great variance in day temperature though night temperature will gradually drop. "November is the transition period when the difference between the day %and night temperatures will increase. %Early mornings are beginning to get pleasant. This trend will continue through November," said Debnath.
A light comforter at the foot of the bed will come handy as the temperature difference between the day and night will be nearly 10°C. While the day temperatures will %hover between 29°C and 32°C, the night temperature, particularly between 3am and 5am, will be between 18°C to 22°C over the next few days.
Finally, if Diwali night was unusually warm, crackers contributed to the heat. With crackers emitting heat while being burst, the cumulative heat generated by over a million crackers that were burst over seven-eight hours on Thursday not only generated enough heat to push the mercury up a few notches, the smog that subsequently enveloped the city also trapped the heat from escaping into the atmosphere.
"Bursting of crackers across the city does have a local effect for a limited time. If particulate matter in the air goes up, they will trap and retain heat over a longer time, pushing up temperature by a couple of degrees. However, this effect should not last beyond a day," the Met office director added.

Sikkim Speaker returns after Cameroon meet

SNS, Gangtok, 24 October 2014: Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly KN Rai presented two papers in the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting that concluded recently at Yaoundé in Cameroon. 
Mr Rai, who was accompanied by his wife, Rashmika Rai, to the conference, spoke on how Parliament can ensure that young people are placed at the centre of sustainable development, and on ‘Good Governance for the 21st Century: Transparency and Accountability,’ a press release issued here by the District Information Officer, Information & Public Relations Department, said today. 
Workshops during the meet was held on ‘Unity in diversity: The role of Parliament, ‘Joining hands for Women’s Right: The role of the Parliament in gender empowerment,’ Evaluating the emergent content of the post-2015 Development Agenda against the standards set out in the Commonwealth Charter,’ ‘Financial oversight in Westminster style and Francophone Parliament: Sharing good practice, “Role of Parliament in providing for the most vulnerable in society,’ and ‘Parliamentarians and Public Trust: Do Codes of Conduct help?’ 
Mr Rai also participated in an event where tree saplings were planted at the Limba Botanical Garden along with other dignitaries attending the meeting. 
The couple also visited Paris (France), Frankfurt (Germany), and Amsterdam (Netherlands) as part of their post-conference tour, and has returned to Gangtok, the release said.

DU to offer certificate courses in 8 North East languages

EOI, New Delhi, 24 October 2014: Delhi University is planning to offer short term certificate courses in eight North East Indian languages in run up to its preparation for the heritage tour to that region in December. 
"There is a proposal to offer short term courses in eight different languages of the North East which will include tutorials on basic working knowledge of the languages and not the detailed scripts," DU Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh said. 
As many as 900 students will be given the opportunity to travel on "Dharodhar-Gyanodaya Express" from December 20 to 30 which is all set to travel to northeast region this year to enrich students about the culture and heritage of the region. 
"While the university has invited proposals from the students regarding the projects they would like to undertake during the journey, the short term certificate courses will give an opportunity to the students to learn the languages irrespective of the tour,"Prof Chandrahekhar, Coordinator for the Gyanodyaa Express, said. 
The certificate courses which will run for a duration of one month will be open to all students whether they are selected for the train journey or not. 
"The languages for the proposed courses include Assamese, Nagamese, Manipuri, Arunachali and Tripuri. There will be foundation courses in Nepali and Bengali as well which are widely spoken in Sikkim and Tripura respectively," said Dr Santacruz, Deputy Dean Students' Welfare and Coordinator for the North East students. 
"However, no decision has been reached yet on whether these are one-time courses or will be offered in future as well," he added. 
According to the university records, around 5,000 students from the North Eastern states are enrolled in various undergraduate and post graduate programmes. PTI

IAF asks personnel not to use Xiaomi phones

PTI, EOI, New Delhi, 24 October 2014: IAF personnel and their families have been asked to desist from using Chinese 'Xiaomi Redmi 1s' phones as these are believed to be transferring data to their servers in China and could be a security risk.
"F-secure, a leading security solution company, recently carried out a test of Xiaomi Redmi 1s, the company's budget smartphone, and found that the phone was forwarding carrier name, phone number, IMEI (the device identifier) plus numbers from address book and text messages back to Beijing," says an advisory issued by the IAF to its personnel.
The IAF note, issued some weeks back, has been prepared by the intelligence unit based on the inputs from Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), according to IAF sources.
Emails were sent by PTI to the company for its response on this development but those remained unanswered.
However, in a general statement two days back, the company had said it was fully committed to storing its users' data securely at all times.
The company said it is migrating some data on non-Chinese customers away from its servers in Beijing due to performance and privacy considerations.
It said that earlier this year, its e-commerce engineering teams started migrating its global e-commerce platforms and user data for all international users from their Beijing data centers to Amazon AWS data centers in California (USA) and Singapore.
This migration process will be completed by the end of October and will benefit users in all of our international markets in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Incidentally, the Taiwanese government is investigating whether Xiaomi Inc is a cyber security threat due to privacy issues.

Uncle held for rape of 2-year-old

Minor rape
Saidul Khan, TT, Tura, Oct. 24: A two-year-old allegedly raped by her own uncle and undergoing treatment at a hospital here is said to be critical.
The child was raped by Antonis Ch. Marak, 45, while the victim’s parents were working on a nearby paddy field, on Wednesday.
“Based on the father’s FIR, the accused was arrested the same day,” said Bruno A. Sangma, the additional superintendent of police, West Garo Hills.
The incident took place at Kherapara village in West Garo Hills.
The accused had fled to Bolchugre village, near Tura, where he was arrested.
He was produced in court yesterday and has been remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody.
“The child has been crying throughout the day. An operation will be performed on her,” said a doctor.
The two-year-old’s mother said, “We were in the nearby field and left the child with my brother. On our return, we found her crying and bleeding. We were shocked to see our daughter in such state and brought her immediately to Tura.”
The deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills, Pravin Bakshi, has expressed shock over the incident and assured all help to the victim’s family.
“We are monitoring the case. If required, we will shift her to Guwahati for further treatment,” he said.

Bengal’s turf war explodes - Cops bombed in BJP vs TMC

TT, Bolpur, Oct. 24: A group of villagers today hurled bombs and brickbats to beat back a police squad hunting for explosives in Birbhum, blowing the lid off a turf war between the Trinamul and the BJP in an erstwhile Left bastion.
At least five policemen, including the officer-in-charge of Parui police station and the circle inspector of Bolpur, were injured this afternoon in the attack that was launched by alleged BJP supporters to thwart a raid for bombs at Choumondalpur village in Birbhum’s Parui.
Such was the ferocity of the attack that the OC, Prosenjit Dutta, fell and lay on the ground for almost a minute before his heavily outnumbered and fleeing team picked him up and retreated.
A bomb — a part of the daily narrative in Bengal ever since one blew up on two suspected assemblers in Burdwan on October 2 — caught the OC in the back but his life was saved because it did not explode on impact.
Birbhum is the playground of Anubrata Mondal, the controversial Trinamul district president certified as a “very good boy” by the chief minister and known for exhorting his supporters to bomb the police if they go to the aid of dissidents when their houses are burned down.
Against such an intimidating backdrop, Choumondalpur came under the BJP’s tutelage because most CPM supporters, who had crossed over to Trinamul after the 2011 Assembly polls, went over to the BJP along with older Trinamul activists. The crossovers effectively made it “a BJP village”.
Over the past two days, Trinamul activists were trying to regain control of the village, triggering charges of attacks and counter-attacks.
Today, the ruling Trinamul and the BJP, which is striving to fill the vacuum left by the CPM in Bengal, were quick to blame each other.
The state police echoed the ruling party and named a BJP leader who had switched over from Trinamul after the Lok Sabha polls.
The sequence of events points to a vicious cycle of “your-bomb-versus-my-bomb” confrontation in which the police have been reduced to a pawn — or a collateral casualty.
On a tip-off in the morning, the police found 14 plastic containers with as many as 500 crude bombs on the premises of a health centre run by the state government. The containers were kept in an abandoned quarter 30 metres from the main health centre building in Sattor.
Suspicion fell on Trinamul supporters although the party denied any hand.
A few hours later, the police received a tip-off, reportedly from a Trinamul leader, that bombs were hidden in a poultry farm at Choumondalpur, the “BJP village”.
On the way to the poultry farm, the dozen-strong police team received another alert —the third in a matter of hours — of a cache at another place. The police made a quick search of the place but did not find any explosives.
It was after leaving this place and while heading to the poultry farm that the police squad ran into the enraged villagers.
An officer said: “The villagers told us that there were no bombs and asked us to search Trinamul offices and recover the bombs there first. When we warned them that we would use force to raid the poultry farm, nearly 100 villagers surrounded us.”
When the attack was launched, “we decided to retreat as we were outnumbered”, the officer recounted. “We were running towards our vehicles when bombs were hurled at us. The OC fell. The vehicles had started. Two policemen picked him up and put him in one of the SUVs.”
Rafiqul Sheikh, the driver of the OC’s vehicle, said: “We could have been killed. Our OC fell and lay on the ground for nearly a minute. A bomb hit him in the back but did not explode.”
OC Dutta has been admitted to the Suri Sadar hospital with injuries in his head, neck and spinal cord. The others were released after first aid.
The OC said from his hospital bed over phone: “We had to run away because the villagers attacked us with bombs.”
Later, a bigger police force raided the village and arrested four BJP supporters and detained 10.
Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata said: “The attack was led by local BJP leader Sadai Sheikh.”
Inspector-general of police (law and order) Anuj Sharma said: “Some miscreants led by a BJP leader named Sadai hurled bricks and bombs at the police party.”
Sadai, who was with Trinamul before the general election, said: “When I joined the BJP, many villagers also did so. Today Trinamul activists came to the village with the police, and the villagers resisted. We did not hurl bombs.”
SP Alok Rajoria blamed BJP supporters for the attack and said it was pre-planned.
Birbhum BJP president Dudh Kumar Mondal claimed that since “Trinamul supporters in the village have switched over to the BJP, they are using the police to harass the villagers. The villagers were angry but they did not hurl bombs. Trinamul activists did so.”
A senior police officer summed up: “In this particular case, the BJP supporters are responsible. But from our sources we have learnt that the bombs at the health centre were hidden by Trinamul supporters. Then Trinamul activists tipped off the police that bombs are hidden by BJP supporters at Choumondalpur.”
Malay Mukherjee, a vice-president of Trinamul in Birbhum, said: “Our party supporters did not hide the bombs in the health centre.”

Fire in godown

TT, Siliguri, Oct. 24: A fire broke out at a godown that stores edible oil and plastic containers at Jalpai More here this morning.
Four fire engines were called to douse the flames.
Amit Dalmia, the godown owner, said: “I can’t say how the fire broke out. There are chances that a flicker from crackers or sparklers burning during Diwali celebrations might have caused it. I had goods worth around Rs 1 crore in stock and need to assess the damage.”
The officials of state fire services department have said the godown is located in a crowded area in Siliguri, and lacked fire safety measures and probably does not have a fire licence.
Local people said around 6.30am they saw smoke bellowing out of the godown.
They then informed officials at the Siliguri fire station, which is located nearby, and four fire engines came to douse the flames.
Apurba Kumar Das, the station officer of Siliguri fire station, said: “We could bring the fire under control by 12.30pm. No injury has been reported. Considering the locality it would have developed into a major fire if it had spread out of the godown.”
“The godown houses inflammable items and edible oils. Still, there was no proper fire safety equipment. We also suspect that the owner does not possess a fire licence which is an offence,” he added.

Steps to fight dengue

TT, Siliguri, Oct. 24: Minister Gautam Deb today said Siliguri Municipal Corporation would take steps to kill mosquitoes and start a fever survey as part of efforts to contain dengue which was suspected to have affected at least 11 people in town.
The north Bengal development minister held a meeting with health and SMC officials in his office here this morning to take stock of the situation after suspected cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, had been reported in Siliguri.
Seven persons from two families and four others, all from Khalpara in Siliguri, have been afflicted with symptoms of dengue. While the seven are under medication at home, four have been admitted to nursing homes.
Deb said SMC would augment its infrastructure to arrest the spread of the disease. “The SMC has five fogging machines and will buy two more soon. The civic body will also purchase additional 25 sprayers (used to spray mosquito larvicide oil). It has 25 sprayers as of now. The fogging machines and sprayers will be pressed into service to kill mosquitoes and their larvae. SMC workers have already started sprinkling bleaching powder in all wards,” said Deb.
The minister didn’t say if any patient was suffering from symptoms of dengue — fever and body ache — in Siliguri at present. He said “there is no dengue-outbreak and no reason to panic”.
“Between January and October, 162 suspected dengue cases were reported in and around Siliguri. All these patients’ blood was examined and only 34 of them have been tested positive. Of the 34 patients, 18 were found afflicted with dengue last month,” he said.
Deb said his department would grant Rs 4 lakh to the SMC to carry out a door-to-door fever survey in 10 wards. “Civic workers will conduct the survey in the wards where suspected dengue cases have been reported. This would help us know the exact situation,” he added. He said chief medical officers of health of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling would meet private nursing home owners on Sunday to ensure better treatment for suspected dengue patients.

2 die in potholed highway accident

A potholed stretch at Susthani More on NH34, 1.5km from the accident spot.
(Surajit Roy)
TT, Malda, Oct. 24: Two persons were killed when a speeding pickup van turned on its side while negotiating a potholed stretch on NH34 near Sadullapur near Malda town last night.
Of the 25 injured, five are in Malda Medical College and Hospital and 20 others were released after first aid. The driver was unhurt.
The Farakka-Raiganj stretch of NH34 — the highway starts from Barasat in North 24-Parganas and ends at Dalkhola in North Dinajpur — has been in a bad state for around five months.
Sources at Englishbazar police station said 11 persons have been killed in accidents on the stretch in the past one month.
Imran Sheikh, 12, and Manirul Sheikh, 30, both from Jalalpur in Kaliachak, 30km from Malda town, died on the spot.
Rafiq Sheikh, 20, one of the injured, said they had hired the van from Jalalpur to go to Pirpirani Dargah in Englishbazar and return. “We were returning to Jalalpur around midnight. The condition of the road is bad with potholes all over. Some of us asked the driver to slow down. He swerved to avoid a pothole and the vehicle turned on its left side. Many of us were trapped under the van. Local people helped us. They stopped vehicles and helped us reach the hospital. I have cuts and bruises on the right leg. I was released after the wounds were dressed,” he said. Sadullapur is 5km from here.
M.A. Rashid, the vice-principal of the medical college, said: “Of the 25, 20 were released after first-aid. Five are in serious condition having suffered head injuries and they are in the hospital.”
Malda police chief Prasun Banerjee said they were investigating the matter. “It seems that the bad road condition caused the accident,” he said. On August 11, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had driven down a potholed 22km stretch on the same highway between Kaliachak and Malda.
Food processing minister and Trinamul Englishbazar MLA, Krishnendu Chowdhury, said: “The frequency of accidents, many of them fatal, is on the rise because of the pathetic condition of a 105km stretch on NH34 between Farakka and Raiganj. Our chief minister had a bad experience when she took the highway from Calcutta to Malda and then to Raiganj. She had written to the Centre asking the National Highways Authority of India to repair the stretch. The Centre has done nothing. Three months have passed and the monsoon is over.”
NHAI officials said repairs would start when funds arrive. The Congress blamed the Centre and the state for the state of affairs and the BJP blamed the Bengal government.
District Congress president and Malda North MP Mausam Noor said: “Both the Centre and the state are to be blamed. The NHAI is doing nothing and the state is silent. Innocent people are getting killed. We will launch a movement if the road is left as it is.”
BJP district president Shibendu Shekhar Roy said: “The highway cannot be repaired as the state is not co-operating with NHAI for acquiring land for widening. The state should be more co-operative in order to get the highway widened.” Sanjiv Sharma, the NHAI project director in Malda, said: “We have sent an estimate of Rs 11 crore to to Delhi. We expect the funds soon.”

24 Oct 2014

Girls flee home over no FB access

Monotosh Chakraborty | Oct 24, 2014, KOLKATA: Two cousin sisters studying in a south Kolkata school have disappeared from their homes reportedly on being denied access to facebook.
The girls, studying in Class VIII and IX, have written letters to their parents, expressing their unfulfilled aspirations. Both of them promised their parents that they would return home after tasting success.
Amrita Chakraborty and her cousin Puspita Chakraborty (names changed to protect identities), left their homes in Pratapgarh and Bonhooghly in Sonarpur almost at the same time on October 12 on the pretext of going to local shop.
When neither returned home after even an hour, the families got in touch with each other to check whether their girl had gone to other's home.
Early on Monday, October 13, they lodged a missing diary with Sonarpur police station.
"The letters of both girls have a common motive. Both of them were unhappy with the constant denial of their parents to let them access internet and social networking sites. Both confessed that their parents were loving, but they said that they would be failures in life if they continued to live in such homes. They want to come back after achieving success," said an investigator.
The letters are now in police custody.
The girls switched off their mobiles after they left home. After monitoring the mobiles, police got to know that the phones were used a couple of times in Chennai, where the family has relatives. When contacted, however, they told the Chakraborty family that the girls never came to their house. Incidentally, before they left home, both girls reportedly exchanged as many as 64 messages with one of their Chennai relatives.
The parents claimed that both girls were average in studies and had excessive interest in e-mails and Facebook. Their parents stopped them as their obsession with social networking affected their education.
This led to rebukes and scoldings. "We tried make them understand why Facebooking would ruin their careers," said a parent. "Their parents put a complete embargo on Facebooking till the board exams. That must have upset the girls immensely," said a family member.
Police interrogated the family members and seized a number of documents from their respective homes.
The CID missing persons squad wing was alerted about the case. Police hope for an early breakthrough and claimed to have stumbled upon some crucial clues at the homes of the girls.

Mystery as two Sikkim kids reach Kaliyaganj

File photo of some rescued children
SNS, Raiganj, 23 October: Police rescued two children hailing from Sikkim from Singhatore village in Bochadanga under the Kaliyaganj police station area of North Dinajpur district this morning. Six-year-old Karma Bhutia and seven-year-old Bijay Chhetri are residents of some village at Manpur in South Sikkim, it is learnt.
They reportedly got down from the NJP-Radhikapur-bound train in Kaliyaganj station yesterday, and were found roaming about in Singhatore village today. After being informed of them, police sprang into action and took them in custody.
“We have come to know that the children are residents of south Sikkim. They boarded the NJP-Radhikapur bound train from NJP station. The reason for their leaving their home and arrival here is still a mystery, as they are too small to give out all the information,” Kaliyaganj police station IC Sreemanta Bandapadhaya said. 
“We have started investigations to ascertain whether some persons are involved in trafficking them to some other place. 
The children were handed over to the Child Welfare Committee in Raiganj.

NGOs to act on wildlife deaths post Diwali

SNS, Siliguri, 23 October : At a time when the forest department is planning to involve non-government organizations in stopping man-animal conflict, which is on the rise in north Bengal, NGO members are not in the mood at present to start wildlife conservation campaigns due to the Diwali and other festivals.
Following the electrocution of four elephants in the Terai and the Dooars region this week, the forest department plans to rejuvenate the committee for wildlife conservation and protection with the help of NGOs and some departments concerned, including the police and the power department.
The activities of the committee have been discontinued in this region due to unknown reasons.
The committee usually goes into action after it gets reports on the deaths of wild animals, mainly elephants and leopards, in this region, sources said.
A leader of an NGO, Surya Kanta Banik, who works for wildlife protection in this region, said: “The death of elephants is unfortunate and we, the educated people, not the villagers are held responsible for that. After discontinuation of our campaign, as villagers are unable to prevent elephants and leopards from entering villages they commit such shocking crime.”
“I have discussed the matter with some other members but they are not in the mood to start campaigning because all are (even villagers) in a festive mood. We will start campaigning after Diwali,” Mr Banik said.
A senior forester said the death of elephants due to electrocution and poisoning is nothing new in this region.
“Several elephants died of electrocution in paddy fields over the past few years,” he said.

BJP eyes SMC wards for drive against CM

SNS, Siliguri 23 October 2014: As part of the party’s state-wide campaign of collecting one crore signatures, demanding the resignation of Mamata Banerjee over the Burdwan blast issue, the Siliguri district committee of the BJP has set a target of gathering signatures of at least 100 people from each Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) ward. Party state president Rahul Sinha has said during campaigns in north Bengal that the party will highlight the “state government's role” in the Burdwan explosion.
"We have set a target of collecting the signatures of at least 100 people in all the 47 wards," Siliguri district committee president of the party Rathindra Bose said.
"Along with the statewide membership collection drive, the signature programme will kick off here on 1 November. We can see that the support base of the party is getting stronger gradually," he added.
Mr Sinha said the party, like in other parts of the state, will highlight the role of the state government in connection with the blast. According to him, the state government was trying to not cooperate with the National Investigation Agency.
"We have decided to campaign on this issue in north Bengal too. We have laid special emphasis on this part of the state. We have already started the signature campaign in other parts of the state and our target is to collect one crore signatures. After 15 December, we will hand it over to governor Keshari Nath Tripathi," he said from Kolkata.

Bouquets and brickbats for CM’s free-hospital move

SNS, Siliguri, 23 October 2014: Hundreds of people have appreciated chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to make treatment of poor patients in government hospitals totally free of cost.
A section of people, active online, however, also strongly criticised her decision.
“All patients will receive free treatment, free diagnostics and free surgery in all government hospitals and health centres from village to the district level,” Miss Banerjee yesterday wrote on her Facebook wall.
“There are around 70 lakh people in districts who depend on government hospitals and cannot afford to pay for the beds,” she added.
While Somnath Bhattacharya, a netizen, welcomed the decision and said: “Health and education must be free in a country.”
Another Manab Pal said: “This is a very bad decision and only people belonging to the BPL (below poverty line) should get the opportunity.”
However, Rajat Roy’s take was different. “First accelerate growth in the state, the government will then have more money to spend on the poor,” he said.
Another, Jiten Tripura said: “The government will go bankrupt (with this decision).”
Reacting to the decision, Robson Jani, Md Yusuf Ali Khan, Hanif Khan and Abu Rajhan said: “It’s a brilliant idea to fill the hospitals with cats and dogs (meaning common people). Even you can’t find a cat or dog inside a hospital. Patients will be half dead thanks to the behaviour of the nurses and doctors. They are so hostile, so rude and heartless.”
“It’s a new gimmick. The state will spend a huge amount of money unnecessarily. Dear CM, finally will genuine beneficiaries get the opportunities?” Debmalya Dutta said.
Sanjoy Ganguly said: “Kindly notice the cleanliness of government hospitals, the conditions are worse due to staff crunch.”
“Your decision is definitely commendable in the interest of the poor people in the rural belt, but a strict and regular vigilance is required to see that people are being really served,” said Satyanarayan Gupta.
“It is a fantastic effort, but didi (CM), make a separate window for people who want to pay and get an early response,” said Soumya Basak.
However, commenting on the post, Adinpannya Bhaskar Bhattacharya explained the character of Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultan of Delhi from 1324 to 1351, and who is also called a man of ideas and the ‘wisest fool,’ and said: “Good thinking, but systems for implementations are full of flaws like bin Tughluq’s.”
Notably, over 10,000 people had ‘liked’ the chief minister’s post till 6 pm today and 785 persons had shared it. Over 1,900 people had commented on the post so far.
Hundreds of people have said “nice didi,” “thanks didi,” “an outstanding step” and a “great job in the health sector,” and a flood of other praises like “a decision for maa mati and manush.”
One of them, Ayan Mukherjee, said: “My father is now admitted in a state-run hospital… I bought medicines from the fair price shop at 66 per cent discount … which is great, and now this will surely help people who are financially down like me.”
One Arun Chakraborty suggested: “Bring some bills to monitor and stop private hospitals and nursing homes from extracting money from patients.”

Cow pat crisis? Go to Netra

Vivek Chhettri, TT, Darjeeling, Oct. 23: The crisis of a strong-smelling festival day essential in Darjeeling town has drawn people to a flower seller, who is selling blossoms with an unusual “freebie” on the side.
Marigold garlands and lotus buds are on sale at Netra Prasad Khatiwada’s roadside stack for the Tihar festival, the equivalent of Diwali in the hills. The freebie is a scoop of cow pat, also for the same hill festival.
Khatiwada has cashed in on a crisis — cows are hardly reared in the hills nowadays, so cow dung is hard to get.
Hindus regard cow dung holy as they worship the animal. In the Tihar festival, residents use cow pat to cleanse their homes.
At Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, Khatiwada has kept on the side a lump of dung, which he got from a nearby village. He claimed he had been giving a free scoop of cow pat to all customers.
The flowers are generally brought from the plains, so hawkers in the hills are in a great hurry to sell them before they wilt.
Khatiwada, it seems, has found a good plan to sell his flowers fast, but some in the Chowk Bazar market have alleged he was not giving the cow pat for free. He was selling each scoop.
“I am selling marigolds and lotuses. However, I am not selling cow dung as I have been told that one must not sell cow dung,” Khatiwada said.
The dearth of cow dung stems from the fact that most of the villages around Darjeeling have stopped rearing cows. “Actually, it is difficult to get cow pat. I stopped using cow pat to cleanse my house five to six years ago,” said Sunita Pradhan,a resident of town.