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Monday, April 20, 2009

န Salboni : Edge of bloody flashpoint

Salboni, 22 April : The Maoist-affected districts stand on a bloody precipice as guerrillas and state forces battle it out in the run-up to voting day. On Wednesday afternoon, Maoists triggered six back-to-back blasts in the Dudhpatari area of Salboni to scare away CRPF jawans who had entered the area from the Goaltore end to look for a CPM supporter abducted the day before.
The blasts are a continuation of the Maoist offensive in Salboni on Tuesday, in which four CPM cadres were abducted. Two of them were found dead after a few hours, while a third returned in an injured condition. Nepal Sen, the fourth cadre, is still missing. The blasts come close on the heels of similar Maoist attacks in Bihar and Jharkhand on the same day. On Monday, four Trinamool men had been shot at in Keshpur. These incidents have turned the West Midnapore-Bankura-Purulia belt into a battle zone.
Exports to NE India touching $1bn by 2011: IBCCI
Dhaka, 22 April : The Indo-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry hopes to see Bangladesh's exports to the northeastern Indian states touch $1 billion by 2011. IBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad said the export basket would now include products like brick, plastic goods, readymade garment, agro-products and frozen foods.
Bangladesh exported products worth $1.4 billion in 2007-8 financial year, and goods worth $35.8 million were sold to India, he added. The exports to India mainly are frozen foods, processed agro-products, jute and jute products, tea, chemicals and readymade garment.
"We hope to close a deal to supply 40 crore pieces of bricks worth Tk 200 crore with the Tripura state government in the next 10 days," said Ahmad.
Shah Rukh Khan's dreams of victory lap with IPL trophy in Kolkata
PTI, Durban, 21 April : Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan admitted his team Kolkata Knight Riders is under a lot of pressure to perform due to the multiple-captaincy controversy in the second edition in Indian Premier League (IPL).
Shah Rukh said a fan following in a city like Kolkata also adds to the pressure. He hopes to win the IPL trophy this time around for Kolkata and take out a victory march in the city. "I know the team is under a lot of pressure after the multiple captains, the choice of captain and all that. At the moment the team is under a bit of disarray, but we will stick together. We have started doing it," Shah Rukh said after KKR logged their first points, beating Kings XI Punjab by 11 runs via D/L method.
"But I know they understand and they love the team. I am waiting for the day when I will go around Kolkata with the IPL trophy. I am sure the day will come," he said.

On eve of World Earth Day, Elephants kill 3 in Teknaf
Cox's Bazar, 21 April : A group of elephants killed three people, including two children, as they were collecting firewood in the Teknaf hills near the Myanmar border on Tuesday, said a local government official.
"The elephants trampled them after knocking them over with their trunks," said Yunus Bengali, vice chairman of Teknaf Upazila.
Elephant attacks have become more frequent in South Asia in recent years, as their forest habitats shrink due to encroachment by growing human populations and habitats, say conservationists. One of the world's most densely populated nations, Bangladesh's forest cover has shrunk to just 17.5 percent over past decades, with an estimated elephant population of 400, including 100 in captivity. The World Conservation Union says that an average of 40 people are killed each year by stray elephants in Bangladesh.
Prisoners protest against IPL TV ban in Alipore C Jail
Kolkata, 21 April : Hundreds of inmates at a prison in Kolkata have gone on hunger strike after they were not allowed to watch Indian Premier League cricket matches, officials said on Monday.
BD Sharma, the inspector general of West Bengal prisons, said the protest began after guards rejected prisoners' demands to be able to watch the matches taking place in South Africa that are being broadcast on a private channel. "They are free to watch the national channels aired by the state-run network, but we can't allow inmates to watch private channels for security reasons. We have to go by the rules," said.
The protest, by 500 inmates at the Alipore central jail in Kolkata, was continuing on Monday, Sharma said. IPL matches, which star the best Indian and international cricketers playing in the popular Twenty20 format, started on Saturday and finish on 24 May.

Tripura Lok Sabha elections Campaigning ends today
Agartala, 21 April : Campaigning for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections, along with 2 Tripura Lok Sabha seat will come to an end on Tuesday. The polling will be held on 23 April.
In the second phase, the election will be held in 141 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 13 states and Union Territories of India. The elections would also be completed in the state assemblies of Andhra Pradesh (140 seats) and Orissa (77 seats).
The states going to the polls in this phase include Andhra Pradesh (20 seats), Assam (11), Bihar (13), Goa (2), Jammu and Kashmir (1), Karnataka (17), Madhya Pradesh (13), Maharashtra (25), Manipur (1), Orissa (11), Tripura (2), Uttar Pradesh (17) and Jharkhand (8).

Polling has already been completed in 124 seats in the first phase on 16 April. The 15th Lok Sabha elections will take place in five phases on 16, 22, 23, 30 April and 7 and 13 May throughout the India.

W.Bengal government moves to end Lalgarh impasse
Kolkata, 20 April : Officials of the Election Commission, the West Bengal government and representatives of agitating tribals will hold a meeting Wednesday to end the stalemate at Lalgarh on holding Lok Sabha polls on 30 April.
The meeting will be held in Midnapore town, the district headquarters of Midnapore West. Earlier, the tribal body Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) had submitted a 23-point charter of demands and said that it would allow central forces to be deployed for 12 hours on polling day for conducting the polls only if its demands were met.
Confirming the meeting, state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said the charter will be discussed, but the government will not give in to the demand that former police superintendent of police Rajesh Singh apologise to the tribals for alleged police atrocities. Besides state chief electoral officer Debashis Sen, the district superintendent of police, the district magistrate and the central observer for the Jhargram parliamentary constituency will attend the talks.

'Buddhadeb had ordered the Nandigram police firing'
Says Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh in Press meet

Kolkata, 20 April : Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh today seemed to suggest Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had ordered the 14th March Nandigram police firing that left 14 people dead, gifting fresh ammunition to Mamata Banerjee and raising eyebrows in the CPM.
The chief minister has admitted at a Left Front meeting that he had committed a mistake by ordering the police firing,” Ghosh said and went on to laud Bhattacharjee for the admission. The Opposition seized on the part of the statement that referred to the order to fire. Mamata said Ghosh was “right” but “unfortunately, they (CPM allies) become one after saying all this.”
It was not clear whether the 86-year-old Ghosh meant the west Bengal chief minister had personally ordered the firing or that the overall security operation had the approval of Bhattacharjee. Asked, Ghosh did not shed more light.

Kolkata's low crime linked to civilising effect of books
The city I came from, Kolkata, has a huge book culture : Amartya Sen
Amit Roy, Telegraph, London, 20 April : Kolkata has the lowest crime rate in the world because of the civilising effect of books, Amartya Sen said today in his keynote opening address at the London Book Fair.
Even by Sen’s exacting standards, it was by common agreement one of the Nobel Prize winner’s most brilliant speeches when he spoke on
“India in the Modern World”. With India chosen as the “market focus country” at the London Book Fair this year, the economist and moral philosopher examined the possible relationship between a love of books and low crime.
After his speech, Sen told The Telegraph: “I don’t know the answer but it is something worth looking into.” This year the British Council has brought nearly 50 authors from India who, between them, represent 15 languages. Nearly 100 publishers from India have also made the journey to the Earl’s Court exhibition centre in London. It was pointed out that India is now the third largest publishers of English books in the world. This works out to 15,000 titles a year.
Sen, however, did not deal with dry statistics. His speech made Kolkata sound the most exciting literary city in the world. The question he posed was: “Does the culture of books influence the life of the city in any profound way?” He then offered an intriguing theory which even the people of Kolkata might not have considered.
“To consider one remarkable feature, Kolkata has, by a long margin, the lowest crime rate in the world, including the incidence of homicide and murder,” he said. “While the number of murders per hundred thousand people per year varies between 2 and 10 per year in many cities in Europe and America, and between 15 and 50 per year in many cities in Africa and Latin America, the homicide rate in impoverished Kolkata is only 0.3 per cent; a fraction of the rate in any other city in the world.”
B'desh seeks to increase trade with North-East India
Agartala, 20 April : Bangladeshi trade and industry groups have said they would increase trade and economic activities with India's northeast region and urged Dhaka to provide transit facilities to India. 'We have decided to start business and education tourism with the northeastern region,' said Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A 10-member Bangladeshi delegation headed by Ahmad and comprising members of various Bangladesh trade bodies held a series of meetings here over the past few days with Indian businessmen and government officials to chalk out strategies for setting up of joint venture projects and intensifying trade and business between the two countries.
Bangladeshi trade bodies have also urged Indian authorities to open a special counter in the Indian High Commission in Dhaka so that northeast-bound Bangladeshi businessmen, students and tourists can get visas more easily. The Tripura government had earlier set up a seven-member task force comprising officials and trade bodies of the two countries to suggest measures to enhance economic activities between northeast India and Bangladesh. Photo : Reuters
Andaman & Nicobar Command’s approach
To spread message of 'Outreach to Islands'
Port Blair, 20 April : Andaman & Nicobar Command, in its approach to spread message of “Outreach to Islands”, is undertaking a J-24 sailing boat expedition to Andaman Groups of Islands from 20 – 27 April, 2009. The expedition will cover all major harbours i.e. Havelock, Diglipur, East Island, Mayabandar, Rangat Bay and Neil of Andaman Islands. The skipper Cdr Tribhuwan Jaiswal and his crew members will enroute interact with locals and residents of various islands during the expedition.
The Flag Off Ceremony for this event was held at Naval Wharf this morning and the expedition was flagged off by Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, Commander-in-Chief Headquarters, Andaman and Nicobar Command.
Khaleda asked to leave cantt house within 15 days
Dhaka, 20 April : Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, widow of slain army-chief-turned-president Ziaur Rahman, was given official notice Monday to vacate the 6 Moinul Road residence in Dhaka Cantonment, said party officials.
Speaking to reporters in the evening, a BNP official dismissed the notice, and questioned its validity. "This has no legal basis," said BNP joint secretary general Nazrul Islam Khan. "This is purely personal vendetta."
Khan said they were consulting legal experts and senior party leaders. Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas, private secretary to the BNP chairperson, told reporters that several Cantonment Board officials handed the notice to a household employee at the Moinul Road mansion. He said the former prime minister was with her lawyers at her Gulshan office in the afternoon.
Rizwana wins Goldman Environmental Prize
Dhaka, 20 April : Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA), has been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize 2009 for the Asia region in recognition of her contribution to the conservation of the environment.
As Bangladesh's leading environmental attorney, Rizwana's legal advocacy for tighter regulations for the country's environmentally devastating ship-breaking industry in particular, makes her one of six winners of the world's largest prize for environmentalists this year, says a press release.
Rizwana, who is an advocate of the Bangladesh Supreme Court, will receive the award at a ceremony in San Francisco today and will be honoured at a smaller ceremony in Washington DC on the occasion of Earth Day on 22 April.

Criminal and Fire arms held on eve of Pranab meet
Nadakumar, Tamluk, 19 April : A day before, Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s meeting at Mahisadal, the Midnapore East district police today arrested a suspected hardcore criminal at Sridhar More on NH-41 in Nandakumar and recovered a huge cache of sophisticated firearms and ammunitions from his possession.
Superintendent of police, Pallav Kanti Ghosh told Bengal Newz that six sophisticated firearms including three foreign made 9 mm revolvers were recovered from his possession. Police also seized 40 rounds of cartridges and three 9 mm magazines from him. “The arrest would invariably help us to unearth arms and ammunitions which have already been stockpiled in the troubled areas of Nandigram and Khejuri”, Ghosh said.
Meanwhile, the arrest has sparked off fear about the possibility of violence erupting prior to the elections. Though, the district administration convened an all-party meeting for peaceful polls, the political situation is gradually warming up with both the CPI(M) and its rival Trinamul Congress crossing swords with each other in their mass meetings. Photo : Raghu Nandan Mallick

Massive Power crisis shuts down Kolkata and Howrah
Unprecedented Blackout ordeal lasts beyond midnight
Kolkata, Howrah, 19 April : The entire CESC system collapsed on Sunday evening the first time in its history plunging the 2 citys into darkness and distress in the middle of a heat spell. The unprecedented crisis blacked out over 3 million homes in Kolkata and Howrah.
Hospitals were in darkness for at least an hour. Water supply was cut off all evening. There were long queues at the airport as X-ray machines and conveyer belts did not work. About 200 passengers were stuck in an AI plane bound for Delhi as the aerobridge lost power. In crematoriums, bodies piled up as electric furnaces failed. There was chaos all round. Protests erupted across the Kolkata, leading to huge traffic jams. The administration, which had not faced such a situation before, seemed lost for answers.

Though the snag was identified within an hour, CESC officials were tightlipped on whether a systemic loophole caused it or if the problem could recur. The allout failure has prompted a police probe. The shutdown happened around 4 pm, just ahead of the IPL match between Team Delhi and Kings 11 Punjab. Kolkata Knight Riders were to take on Team Hyderabad later in the evening something that the entire city was looking forward to. At 4.40 pm, Metro commuters rushing home were in for a shock the lights went out and even the stations plunged into darkness. Overground, streetlights went off. And houses and shops suddenly went dark.
A frantic search ensued to detect the fault. CESC sources said they traced it to a crash in a West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd (WBSEDCL) substation in Howrah, which triggered a fault at the CESC synchronization point, breaching its protection system and creating a domino effect. WBSEDCL officials, however, claimed the fault was in a CESC line between Howrah and Liluah and called for an investigation into how it triggered the system collapse. The failure at the critical synchronization unit the only point where all power supplied by CESC and WBSEDL pass through to undergo a voltage-phase-frequency match cut off power to the entire city and suburbs. CESC power generating stations at Budge Budge, Titagarh, Southern and Kashipur tripped.
Photo : AP & Indrajit Dutta

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