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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Litmus test for ruling Left Front and TMC :

WB holds crucial civic polls, EVM snags,clashes reported
Kolkata, 30 May : Amid sporadic clashes and disruptions owing to faulty electronic voting machines, a high-voltage civic election held in West Bengal on Sunday for 81 municipalities, including the all important Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) which recorded voter turnout of only around 75%.
Sporadic clashes were reported from many places in West Bengal Sunday as urban voters queued up to cast votes for civic body polls in the shadow of Friday's train tragedy and the political bickering over it.

Though the situation was largely peaceful, trouble broke out between the ruling CPI(M) cadre and main opposition Trinamool Congress workers in Jamuria of Burdwan dist, and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district, with the security forces resorting to a baton charge to control the situation. Activists of the two parties also clashed in Beleghata in the city stalling polling. In Paikpara there were clashes in Ward Number 4 and RAF had to be deployed. According to reports, electronic voting machines in a number of wards of Bandel, Arambagh and Kolkata were faulty and polling was suspended in these places.
In another incident, one person was injured when a constable of the Tripura police opened three rounds of fire at a polling booth at Patuli in South 24-Parganas district. The injured identified as Bapi Dhar, was rushed to a hospital, IGP (law and order) SK Purakayastha told reporters.
In district', Trinamool workers ransacked a police van at Sripur in Burdwan dist. Some crude bombs were recovered from Liluah in Howrah district where police seized two motorcycles and made one arrest. EVM hitches slowed down the polling process in some booths, the officer said.
Around 85 lakh people (8.5 million) in 1,792 wards across 81 civic bodies, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, are eligible to exercise their franchise in what is considered the last trial of strength for the contesting parties ahead of the assembly election showdown next year. Photos : Indrajit Dutta, Shankar Mondal, Niraj Modi

PCPA denies hand in train derailment, alleges CPI(M) role
PTI, Midnapore, 30 May : Amidst allegations that the People's Committee against Police Atrocities played a role in Jnaneswari Express derailment, the Maoist-backed organisation today denied any involvement in the incident and charged the CPI(M) with "hatching the plot".
"We have no intention to target trains and we condemn and mourn such a colossal loss of civilian lives," PCPA convener, Asit Mahato told PTI over telephone and charged the CPI(M) "with hatching the plot". A day after the state police claimed to have identified two persons of the PCPA recently released on bail having a hand in the derailment of the train's 13 coaches, Mahato said, "Politically motivated statements are being issued to separate us from the masses."
"We will take out a procession in the Jangalmahal to mourn the dead in the train disaster. We strongly condemn such acts which take lives of common, innocent men and we express deep shock," Mahato said.
Countering police's claim, the PCPA leader named four CPI(M) district and local leaders and alleged "Under their leadership, the CPI(M) has opened camps in the last 15 days at Burjoli, Kolla, Patri and Dahimara villages close to Sardiha where the express train derailed." The mishap that occurred in the wee hours Friday has claimed 148 lives so far. Photos : Arpan Mukherjee, AP

Bangladesh 'blocks Facebook' over Mohammed cartoons
BBC News, Dhaka, 30 May : Bangladesh has blocked access to Facebook after satirical images of the prophet Muhammad and the country's leaders were uploaded, say reports.
One man has been arrested and charged with "spreading malice and insulting the country's leaders" with the images, an official told the AFP news agency. Officials said the ban was temporary and access to the site would be restored once the images were removed. It comes after Pakistan invoked a similar ban over "blasphemous content".
A spokesman for the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) told AFP Facebook had "hurt the religious sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population" by carrying "offensive images" of Mohammed. READ FULL STORY

Black Friday's Gyaneshwari Exp tragedy : 148 dead so far
Midnapore, 30 May : The death toll in Gyaneshwari Express derailment rose to 148 after some more bodies, trapped under the engine of the goods train which had rammed into the derailed coaches, were extricated by rescuers this morning.
West Midnapore district magistrate N S Nigam said search was continuing for 25 missing passengers after 13 coaches of the Mumbai-bound train went off the tracks and then were crushed by a goods train coming from the opposite direction. Nigam said some bodies were likely to be extricated from under the engine as rescue operations were still on for the third consecutive day. A foul stench pervaded on the site of the train disaster.
Rescue workers of the railway, personnel of the Army, CRPF, CoBRA, volunteers, NCC and medical teams were at the site watched by a huge crowd from neigbouring villages. Photo : AFP

CID, forensic teams inspect Gyaneshwari Exp. mishap site
Jhargram, 30 May : A CID team accompanied by forensic experts on Sunday inspected the site of the Gyaneshwari Express derailment at Sardiha near Jhargram.
A six-member CID team led by Additional Director General Raj Kanojia visited a 400-metre stretch of the railway track and the State forensic experts team collected samples from the spot, including pandrol clips which were found to be dislodged at many places. “It is a case of sabotage. Planned attacks on the railways have been going on in this area for quite some time. The railway line was cut and the pandrol clips were opened. But without a forensic report, we cannot say whether there was an explosion or not,” Kanojia told reporters here.
Slow pace in climate fund release worries : Bangladesh PM
Dhaka, 30 May : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday lamented slow progress in disbursement of the $30 billion pledged by the developed countries for the climate vulnerable nations for the years 2010-2012.
"Unfortunately, the provisions and mechanisms in the existing framework have failed to secure resources required to finance the adaptation actions on the ground," she said while inaugurating a two-day Asia Regional Conference of Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in the capital. Developed countries, especially the most advanced ones, should not shy away from their own responsibilities to save the humanity, Hasina said, urging the advanced countries for fast track disbursement of the fund promised in Copenhagen climate summit last year.
Ministers and high officials of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Yemen are attending the conference. Bangladesh and European Union (EU) are jointly organising the meeting aimed at enhancing understanding among the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) on climate change risks.

West Bengal civic polls halt Benapole Land Port's trade
UNB, Benapole, 30 May : Trading through Benapole Land Port came to a halt since Sunday morning as elections are being held at different municipalities in West Bengal.
Assistant Commissioner of Petrapole Customs of India JK Nayek confirmed the matter. Benapole Customs Cargo Superintendent Towhidul Islam said the export-import through the port remains suspended since morning due to the elections. Hundreds of trucks loaded with goods and perishable commodities got stranded on both sides of the land port. Aminul Islam, deputy commissioner of Benapole port, said the activities, except export-import, are normal at the port.
Train services resume on crash-hit Jhargram' railway tracks
Jhargram, Kolkata, 30 May : Train services on the Kharagpur- Tatanagar section of South Eastern Railway (SER) resumed today after restoration of both the railway tracks which was obstructed due to derailment of Gyaneshwari Express.
SER sources said the up line was declared fit at 2.56 am and the down line was restored at 7.55 am. One goods train was run on the up line at 4.45 am which was followed by Puri-New Delhi Puroshattam Express at 6.10 am, they said. Another passenger train and a goods train also passed on the up line, sources said, adding a goods train passed on the down line at 8.30 am.
Both the railway tracks remained blocked since early Friday following the derailment of Gyaneshwari Express which was rammed minutes later by a goods train, killing 148 people. Photo : Arpan Mukherjee
5 mln people suffer from blood-related disorders in B'desh
Xinhua, Dhaka, 30 May : Around 5 million people suffer from blood-related disorders in Bangladesh, one hematologist said, urging the government to set up a bone marrow transplantation center immediately in the country to give patients respite from expensive treatments abroad.
"The country has only about 50 hematologists to serve an estimated 5 million people suffering from blood- related disorders, " MA Khan, head of hematology department of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in the capital was quoted by leading English newspaper The Daily Star as saying on Sunday. READ FULL STORY
Cyclone Aila, saline water affects agriculture in Sunderbans
PTI, Sunderbans, 30 May : A year after Cyclone Aila ripped through the Sunderbans, thousands of hectares of once fertile agricultural land adjoining the mangrove forests have turned into a vast wasteland.
The cyclone led to the ingress of saline sea water into the lush green fields stretching across South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas districts, where paddy cultivation provides direct means of livelihood to 85 per cent of the population. The salinity in the soil has snatched away other means of livelihood - animal husbandry and pisciculture from the poor villagers.
"We had no crops in the last season and this year too the prospect of cultivation looks bleak as the salinity refuses to fade away," Dushmanto Mondal, a farmer of Lahiripur village in Gosaba block, said. Photo : AP