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Kolkata

Opposition slams Modi government at Mamata rally, calls for BJP ouster

Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.

 
TMC rally: Opposition unites in a show of strength
Leaders of more than 20 opposition parties attended a massive rally in Kolkata organised by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chairperson Mamata Banerjee and joined her in giving a clarion call for the ouster of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre in the coming elections.
 
All the leaders who were present at the "United India Rally", which attracted thousands of people, spoke of the problems being faced by the poor and vulnerable sections across the country because of the present regime's policies and measures and urged the people to vote it out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Ms. Banerjee also said the question about the Prime Ministerial candidate could be decided later, stressing the immediate task was for all of them to come together and oust the BJP from power.
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not attend the rally but sent their representatives. Mr. Gandhi also sent a message in which he extended his support to "Mamata Di" on the show of unity and hoped that they send a powerful message of a united India together.
 
"Across India, there are powerful forces afoot. Forces that are fanned by the anger and disappointment of hundreds of millions of Indians who have seen through the false promises and lies peddled by the Modi government," he said in the message.
 
"These forces are moved by the hope of a new tomorrow; a tomorrow filled with the idea of an India in which  the voice of every man, woman and child will be heard and respected no matter what their religion, economic status or region.
 
"The entire opposition is united in our belief that true nationalism and development can only be defended on the tested pillars of democracy, social justice and secularism, ideas that the BJP and Mr. Modi are intent on destroying.
 
"We commend the great people of Bengal who have historically been at the forefront of defending our ideas," he said.
 
Those present at the rally included former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief H D Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Abhishek Singhvi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, Karnataka Chief Minister and JD-S leader H D Kumaraswamy, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmy Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav,  former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang.
 
Others present included Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M K Stalin,  Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra, former BJP Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Ram Jethmalani, dissident BJP MP and actor Shatrughna Sinha, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren.
 
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"A new dawn is coming. We have taken the pledge to work together," Ms. Banerjee told the huge crowd.
 
"Some people are trying to destroy the country. As Arvind Kejriwal said, what Pakistan could not do in 70 years, the Government at Centre managed to do in just five years. They have managed to drive a wedge between communities. They have destroyed all the institutions. They have started politics of hate. They have destroyed the country’s economy," she said.
 
"Jan Dhan, NPA, Rafale, insurance are big scams. There are other big scams as well. Those who are dishonest are preaching about integrity. They are talking about honesty? How much money did they have five years ago and how did their wealth increase? I don’t want to make personal comments but they initiated it. I believe in politics of courtesy but they do not care about it. They crossed the Lakxman Rekha. They tried to implicate Sonia ji, Lalu ji, Akhilesh, Mayawati ji and even me. Why will they expect to be spared?" she asked.
 
"People are asking who will be the leader. There is no dearth of leaders here. Their party is leaderless, so there is just one Prime Minister. In our gathbandhan, we all are leaders, we all are workers, we all are the subjects and we all are the kings. This is democracy. We will later finalise who will be the Prime Minister. The time has not yet come," she said.
 
"Enough of Achhe Din, it is time to bid goodbye to BJP. It is time for change at Centre. For the sake of youths, farmers, labourers, and people of the country, we have to defeat the BJP," shhe said.
 
"We are against divisive politics. We are against hate. We do not want bloodlust. We are against discrimination. We want constructive politics, not destructive agenda.
 
"Hindu stands for sacrifice, Muslims represent integrity. Christians stand for love and Sikhs represent validaan. This is our country. A person who can work for all, without discrimination, will be the leader of the nation," she said.
 
Addressing the rally, Congress leader Kharge appealed to all parties to unite to save the Constitution and democracy. He said the BJP had promised two crore jobs every year, but has only helped its corporate friends.
 
"A rainbow of 22 parties is replacing dark clouds hovering over the country," Mr. Abhishek Singhvi said.
 
Mr. Chandrababu Naidu said Mr. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had betrayed the nation. He said the public mandate that brought them to power also had the strength to overthrow them.
 
"If BJP tries to victimize our leaders and harass the public, it will pay a heavy price. We will fight fearlessly to save democracy," he said.
 
"All the leaders forming the Mahagathbandhan have one ambition, ‘Save India, Save Democracy'. Since coming to power, the BJP govt has used every strategy to divide the people. We have united India and a new Prime Minister will rise out of this union," he said.
 
Mr. Kumaraswamy said the government at the Centre was headed by "undemocratic persons". He said demonetisation had hit the poor in the country hard, especially in the rural areas. He said it was sad that the Union Government had turned a deaf ear to the needs and woes of the people.
 
Mr. Stalin said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be the second war of independence. He said Mr. Modi was sure that he would not get a second term as Prime Minister and that is way he was fiercely attacking the Opposition at every opportunity.
 
"He is afraid of our unity. We must come together to protect India," he said.
 
Dr. Farooq Abdullah said there was a need to save India from the BJP, which  was dividing people on religious lines. He said the parties present must fight the elections together, pointing out that the question of who should become the Prime Minister could be decided later.
 
Mr. Tejashwi Yadav said the opposition parties were united in their diversity and would not be scared by the government's intimidation tactics.
 
Mr. Arun Shourie said no Government had said so many lies or undermined institutions as the Modi regime had done. "We all should have one aim, of removing BJP from the Centre," he said. He said the Opposition must ensure a single candidate against the BJP in all constitutuencies and urged them to hold rallies in every corner of the country.
 
Mr. Yashwant Sinha said it was not about removing one man from power but about coming together to defeat an ideology.
 
Shatrughan Sinha said people kept asking him why he spoke against the BJP when he was still in the party. "The mood of the nation is for 'parivartan' (change). People want a new leader," he said.
 
"If speaking truth is rebellion then you should consider me a rebel. Along with truth, I also don't compromise with principles," he said.
 
Mr. Jayant Chaudhary said Ms. Banerjee had united the Opposition and said it was imperative to get rid of Mr. Modi from the Centre.
 
Hardik Patel, who was invited to be the first speaker, said, "Subhas Chandra Bose had given a slogan to fight against ‘goro’ (Britishers), we are fighting against ‘choro’ (thieves),” he said.
 
Mr. Jignesh Mevani said the country was facing an unprecedented crisis with the exploitation of the poor, minorities and Dalits under the present regime.
 
Mr. Pu Lalduhoma of Zoram Nationalist Party of Mizoram said minorities felt unsafe under the BJP-led NDA government.
 
Mr. Hemant Soren said the BJP must be uprooted from not just the Centre but the States, too.
 
Thousands of people turned up for the rally. The TMC put up flexes and posters with photographs of the visiting leaders on roads leading to the venue of the rally from the airport.
 
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Calcutta HC gives conditional nod to BJP's rath yatra in Bengal

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.

Calcutta High Court (File photo: IANS)
Calcutta High Court (File photo: IANS)
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
The state government had last week rejected BJP's plea to hold the 'Rath Yatra', touted as the 'save democracy rally', saying there was "grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath" of the programme.
 
The BJP had moved a single bench of the Calcutta High Court on December 17 after the Bengal government's decision and proposed December 22, 24 and 26 as fresh dates for the three Rath Yatra rallies.
 
Acting on a fresh plea filed by the saffron party, Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty allowed the rallies to be taken out, but said the organisers have to inform the police superintendent of the district concerned 12 hours before taking out the yatra.
 
He said the organisers would be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property during the rallies and directed the state police to deploy adequate force to ensure that there is no breach of law and order.
 
The court has also asked the organisers to make sure that rallies do not affect the vehicular traffic on the state highways and arterial roads.
 
Welcoming the verdict, the state BJP leadership termed it as a victory of democracy and said they would hold discussion with the party's senior leadership in Delhi before officially announcing the dates.
 
"We welcome the verdict. It is a victory of democracy and the democracy-loving people of the state. We will follow the court's directives to conduct the rallies. The court has not mentioned any dates in its verdict. As of now our dates are as announced earlier. But we will discuss the matter and take the final call," said state BJP leader Jay Prakash Majumder after the verdict.
 
"We ask the Trinamool Congress activists not to impede us from conveying our message to the common people. Let the people decide whether they would accept us or not. That is how a democracy should function. So Trinamool should not create any obstruction in our programmes," he added.
 
When asked if the party is ready to fight the state government which may move a division bench in the High Court to seek a stay on the current order, the BJP leader said, "They have the right to do so. But we have said before that no one would be able to stop BJP's 'save democracy' rallies. We have full faith in court and the constitution."
 
The BJP was originally scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town of Tarapith, flagged off by party president Amit Shah on 7, 9 and 14 respectively. These rallies were meant to touch all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state before converging at Kolkata in January.
 
IANS
 

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Kolkata bridge collapse: Rescue operations on, suo motu case lodged

Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.

 
Kolkata bridge collapse: rescue efforts on
 
 
Rescue operations continue on Wednesday after a portion of a 40-year-old bridge collapsed in south Kolkata a day earlier, even as a suo motu case has been lodged against the persons responsible for the accident. Two persons are still reported missing.
 
A part of the Majherhat Bridge between Taratala and Mominpur collapsed around 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday in south Kolkata, crushing a person to death and injuring 19 others.
 
"Two persons are still missing and a suo motu case has been lodged under IPC 304 and 308 against responsible persons," police said.
 
Four teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), fire brigade and personnel of disaster management teams are at the spot.
 
Cranes have been deployed and gas cutters are being used for the rescue operation. Three columns of army personnel are also present at the spot.
 
"Our team is still working on the rescue. Overnight and this morning, we tried to dig holes in the concrete slab decks that caved in to find out whether anyone is still trapped underneath.
 
"Cameras are also being used to find out what remains below the debris. Removing the rubble would take more time," a member of the rescue team said on Wednesday.
 
The West Bengal government has initiated a probe into the incident. "Investigations are going on. At this point, we cannot come to any conclusion regarding the possible reasons behind the accident," a member of the forensic team said.
 
Pedestrians and commuters in buses and cars who were on the collapsed structure were rescued.
 
The bridge was the main connector between central and southwest part of the city. Due to the partial collapse of the bridge, traffic has been diverted. Tram services on some routes have been withdrawn, a Kolkata Traffic Control official said.
 
Goods vehicles' movement has been restricted on some of the arterial roads between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
 
State government will pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Soumen Bagh, who died in the accident.
 
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State Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said on Tuesday that heavy construction work of the metro project beside the collapsed bridge could have weakened its pillars.
 
City metro railway authority, however, ruled out any such possibility.
 
Amid blame game over the partial collapse of the bridge, the Eastern Railway said it was not conducting any maintenance work at the accident site.
 
However, experts said the bridge was very old and as such structural defect or use of inferior quality material cannot be cited as the reason for the collapse.
 
They said the bridge has been withstanding heavy vehicles for more than 40 years and that the only reason that may have triggered the collapse could be "lack of maintenance".
 
According to a state official, the 40-year-old bridge was constructed by the Kolkata Port Trust and maintained by State Public Works Department.
 
However, a Kolkata Port Trust official said it does not have any records that show the bridge was constructed by it.
 
IANS
 

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16 dead, 63 injured as under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata

At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata on Thursday.

 
Kolkata: 10 dead in under-construction bridge collapse
 
At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata today.
 
Police sources told NetIndian that the 16 dead included 14 men and two women, all of whom were crushed under the tonnes of concrete and steel that came crashing on them around 1215 pm today without any warning.
 
They said nearly 60 others had been taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment of injuries.
 
Officials feared the number of casualties could increase as search and rescue teams made their way through the mangled steel and concrete through the night.
 
Army personnel and teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the local police, the fire brigade, other agencies and hundreds of volunteers in a massive rescue effort with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and so on.
 
Several people were feared trapped below the debris of the bridge and frantic efforts were being made to reach them without loss of time. As people dug through the rubble, they found cars, taxis and other vehicles trapped under the concrete.
 
Hundreds of people of the locality and passers-by rushed to the spot and began trying to remove the debris with their bare hands, using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, even as the authorities made arrangements to rush cranes, gas cutters and other machinery as well as ambulancesto the scene. 
 
Scores of witnesses told journalists at the scene that they heard a loud rumble and then a massive thud as the huge bridge suddenly came down without any warning.
 
Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area showed people going about their normal business and traffic moving as usual under the flyover when it suddenly came crashing down.
 
Traffic in the entire area came to a total standstill and there were traffic snarls in several nearby areas as a consequence.
 
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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning for the state assembly elections outside Kolkata, rushed back to the state capital and visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
She said stringent action would be taken against officials of the construction company, the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Limited, or any others found guilty of negligence.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in the United States on an official visit, took stock of the situation and expressed shock and grief over the incident.
 
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations. 
 
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was touring West Bengal as part of the BJP's election campaign, asked the Director General, NDRF, Mr. O.P.Singh, to rush rescue teams to the spot.
 
An official press release said seven NDRF teams had been deputed to the site and two more teams were being mobilized for the rescue operations.
 
"I am deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident," he added.
 
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Modi invokes spirit of Team India; says Centre, states must work together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.

 
Delhi alone will not run nation: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Addressing a public meeting after dedicating to the nation the 2.5 million tonne modernised and expanded IISCO steel plant at Burnpur in West Bengal, he mentioned various instances of cooperative federalism of recent months, including the setting up of the NITI Aayog, and the devolution of additional revenues to the States through acceptance of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 
 
He also mentioned that the decades-old land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh had been successfully resolved through the same spirit of Team India, with all state governments concerned and political parties coming together to support a solution of the problem.
 
He said the nation would move ahead faster when the Centre and the states worked together.
 
"Sadly Centre-State relations were tensed for a long time. I have been Chief Minister for a long time and I know that such behaviour will not be good. We have brought in a change, we focused on co-operative federalism. Delhi alone will not run the nation," he said.
 
"India will not change without a 'Team India'. The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are one team that will take India ahead. The nation is bigger than any party," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said the time had now come for India to address the issue of "geographical imbalance" along with the economic and social imbalances. He said that eastern India, too, should develop as fast as western India is developing, and for that, development of West Bengal is essential. 
 
"The eastern part of India has immense potential. The people are also skilled," he said.
 
He said District Mineral Foundations would be set up to help speed up progress and welfare of the poor in mineral-rich districts. He said that, within a year, the atmosphere of gloom in the country had lifted, and all global rating agencies were now agreed that India is among the world's fastest growing economies.
 
"A year ago the world had a different perception about India. Now the world says in one voice that India is a fast growing economy," he added.
 
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Trinamool Congress MLA Satyajit Biswas shot dead in Bengal

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Satyajit Biswas, a Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator in West Bengal, was shot dead at point-blank range while he was attending an event in Majhdia, 120 km from here, today.
 
The two-time member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Krishnaganj constituency in Nadia district, had just inaugurated a Saraswati Puja function and was watching a cultural show while seated in the front row when someone from the milling crowd fired at him.
 
There was chaos all around as Biswas slumped to the ground, covered in blood, and the assailant managed to escape in the confusion, soures said.
 
A team from the Criminal Investigation Department of the West Bengal Police is probing the murder, they said.
 
While the TMC held the BJP responsible for the murder, the BJP blamed the ruling party's factional feuds for the killing and called for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
 
"Satyajit Biswas our MLA was a dear colleague. Words fail me. Recently BJP leaders tried to stoke tension in the area. This was an orchestrated plan to eliminate him, designed to try and benefit BJP. People will give a befitting reply to perpetrators of this dastardly act," TMC General Secretary Partha Chatterjee said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"Those who have killed him will not be spared. Those responsible for his death will be brought to book. BJP is responsible for this shocking death. There are some traitors who have killed him," he said.
 
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Mamata calls off protest after SC order on Kolkata Police chief

File photo of Mamata Banerjee
File photo of Mamata Banerjee
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today called off her two-day hold protest against the Centre for allegedly trying to muzzle Opposition voices, using the CBI and other agencies, after the Supreme Court earlier in the day directed Rajeev Kumar, the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the chit funds scam but made it clear that he cannot be arrested.
 
Banerjee, who had hailed the Supreme Court's order as a moral victory for West Bengal and the country, said she had taken the decision to call off her "dharna", which she had begun on Sunday evening, on the request of all the Opposition leaders who had backed her.
 
However, the "Save India" protest will continue in Delhi next week on February 13-14, she said.
 
Standing alongside Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, who visited the "dharna" site today, Banerjee thanked all the political leaders and parties as well as various organisations and others who had extended their support to her fight.
 
"This is not a Trinamool dharna. This is a political ‘Satyagrah’ movement, I have maintained from the beginning. This dharna was to save our democracy, to save the Constitution, to save the federal structure, the IAS officers, administrative officers.
 
"When we are fighting a battle collectively, I cannot take a decision without consulting all the parties of United India. We consulted with Chandrababu Naidu Ji, Tejaswi and even Devegowda Ji spoke to me this morning.
 
"This dharna is a victory for Bengal. This is a victory for the country. This dharna is a victory for democracy, federal structure and the Constitution," she said.
 
"The Supreme Court gave a very positive verdict, for the people, by the people and of the people. We have decided to call off the dharna here today. However, the protest will continue in Delhi next week.
 
I have done dharnas in the past, sometimes for 21 days (against custodial deaths) and 26 days (during Singur movement). I can continue. But the request came from other political parties.
 
"We have got justice from one pillar of democracy – the judiciary. The court has clearly said there can be no coercive action or arrest. They have repeated what they had said earlier, about meeting at a neutral place. We will abide by that. Our police has already initiated action to respond to Supreme Court order," she said.
 
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Banerjee denied that Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who was at the centre of the latest stand-off, had participated in her "dharna".
 
"It came to my notice that Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, has sent a letter to the Governor. The Home Ministry wants to know why Rajeev Kumar joined my dharna. The entire media – local, national and even international – were present. Did anyone see Rajeev Kumar on the dias with me?
 
"Why have they lost their sleep over a police officer? Why are they having nightmares? They want to take action against Rajeev Kumar. What is this? He never joined the dharna. This is a blatant lie.
 
"As per protocol, it is the duty of police officials to be present with the Chief Minister, Governor or the Prime Minister to give protection and security. That is the law. So, can they not even come here to talk to me?
 
"There is a separate room next to this stage, where we even held a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
 
"Do they think they can do anything? This is political vendetta. They are controlling all the central agencies and now want to control the state agencies also?" she asked.
 
Banerjee accused the Centre and the ruling BJP of trying to meddle in every area. 
 
"They want to control everything. Is this a one-man rule? Then there is no need for democracy. The Indian Constitution delineates the role of Centre and States. Both the governments have their own jurisdiction. They have become desperate.
 
"From political parties to IAS/IPS officers, media to civil officers – no one is being spared. They think they are the only nationalists, and everyone else is an outsider. We have to oust them from power. We have to oust, we have to oust, we have to oust.
 
"Atrocities should be stopped. We will fight together. We will only allow Constitutional and legal provisions. We will abide by law. We are disciplined soldiers," she added.
 
Banerjee began the protest on Sunday evening, shortly after a team of CBI officers made an unsuccessful bid to question Mr. Rajeev Kumar at his residence in Kolkata, leading to an unprecedented stand-off between the CBI and the Kolkata Police.
 
She visited Rajeev Kumar at his residence in a show of support and later sat on a "dharna" at the Metro Channel here.
 
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SC directs Kolkata Police chief to appear before CBI, says he cannot be arrested

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Rajeev Kumar, the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to appear and make himself available before the CBI in connection with the chit funds scam but made it clear that he cannot be arrested.

The Supreme Court today directed Rajeev Kumar, the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to appear and make himself available before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the chit funds scam but made it clear that he cannot be arrested.
 
"Having heard learned counsels for the parties, we direct Shri Rajeev Kumar, Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to appear and make himself available before the investigating agency, namely, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and to faithfully cooperate with the investigating agency at all times," a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and including Justices Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said in its order.
 
"However, we make it clear that no coercive steps ncluding arrest shall be taken against the Commissioner of Police.
 
"To avoid all unnecessary controversy, we direct the Commissioner of Police to appear before the investigating agency in Shillong, Meghalaya on such date(s) as may be fixed," the court said in its order on a petition filed by the CBI after a team of its officers made an unsuccessful bid to question Mr. Rajeev Kumar in Kolkata on Sunday, leading to an unprecedented stand-off between the CBI and the Kolkata Police.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reacted strongly to the CBI bid to make its way into Mr. Rajeev Kumar and has been on a protest at the Metro Channel in Kolkata since Sunday evening in protest against what she said were attempts by the Centre to muzzle Opposition voices by using the CBI and other agencies.
 
With regard to a separate contempt petition filed by the CBI against top West Bengal officials, the apex court directed the Chief Secretary of the the state, the Director General of Police and Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to file their replies to the statements made in the contempt petition on or before February 18.
 
"We further make it clear that on consideration of the replies of the aforesaid three authorities, the Court may require the personal presence of the said officers on 20.2.2019, which presence, if required, would be intimated to the officers concerned by the Secretary General of this Court on 19.2.2019," the order said.
 
Reacting to the Supreme Court order, Banerjee told journalists at the site of her protest that it was a moral victory for Bengal and the country.
 
"We respect the judiciary and the media. We are grateful and obliged. We welcome the Supreme Court verdict. This is what we wanted.
 
"The court has rejected the contempt of court allegation against us. This order (that Kolkata Police and CBI have to meet and talk mutually) was passed in the past also. The court has also said the Kolkata Commissioner of Police cannot be arrested.
 
"Even Rajeev Kumar, the Kolkata Commissioner of Police, had written five letters to the CBI saying he is reading meet at a mutual place. But the CBI went to his residence on a Sunday evening to arrest him. Supreme Court has clearly said today that he cannot be arrested," the Trinamool Congress chief said.
 
"We respect All India service officers. But when central agencies don’t seek State’s permission and go to the residence of an IPS officer to arrest him, it is against the spirit of federal structure.
 
"This is a jana-andolan, not a Trinamool andolan. We are fighting to save India, save the Constitution. This is fight of crores of people, not Rajeev Kumar alone," she said.
 
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Banerjee, who has received the support of the Congress and several other Opposition parties in this matter, said her party would strengthen its ties with other political parties. "We will fulfill our slogan, Modi hatao, Desh bachao."
 
"I have struggled all my life. I had gone on a hunger strike here for safeguarding the rights of farmers. We have to protect the federal structure. Centre is trying to run a parallel administration. This has never happened before. This is happening because of the vindictive attitude of Modi-Shah. I am going to lay down my life but I will never compromise.
 
"I am an LIP (Less Important Person). I am just a simple citizen of the country. All the parties will together decide (who will become the Prime Minister of the country). 
 
"There are many precedents of Chief Ministers sitting on dharna. This is my responsibility for my officers," she added.
 
Banerjee had said yesterday that her fight was against Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, she said, was "destroying the country by creating unneccessary divisions among the people".
 
The current stand-off began on Sunday evening when several CBI officers had landed up outside the residence of the Police Commissioner but were stopped by the police and taken in jeeps to a police station, where they were detained for some time before being released.
 
As the showdown between the CBI and the West Bengal Police played out, Banerjee had rushed to Kumar's residence in a show of support for him and later began her "dharna".
 
The CBI said they were investigating the case on the directions of the Supreme Court and insisted they were only carrying out their duties. 
 
An Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1989 batch (West Bengal cadre), Rajeev Kumar was the head of a Special Investigation Team that probed the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams. The CBI has said that they need to question him regarding some documents and files and that he has not responded to repeated notices to him to appear before the agency. It accused him of shielding the accused and expressed apprehension that he might attempt to destroy evidence in the case.
 
Today's order means that Rajeev Kumar would have to make available all such material to the CBI.
 
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Mamata's protest continues, SC to hear CBI's plea on stand-off with Kolkata Police on Tuesday

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her protest against the Centre for allegedly trying to muzzle Opposition voices, using the CBI and other agencies, for the second day on Monday.

 
Mamata Banerjee continues her protest for second day
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her protest against the Centre for allegedly trying to muzzle Opposition voices, using the CBI and other agencies, for the second day today and said her fight was against the "person who is destroying the country by creating unneccessary divisions among the people".
 
"He is creating fear in the minds of the people," the Trinamool Congress chief told newspersons at Metro Channel, the venue of her "dharna", which began more than 24 hours ago.
 
Banerjee began her protest yesterday evening after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) made an unsuccessful attempt to question Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the chit fund case here yeserday.
 
Several CBI officers had landed up outside the residence of the Police Commissioner but were stopped by the police and taken in jeeps to a police station, where they were detained for some time before being released.
 
As the unprecedented showdown between the CBI and the West Bengal Police played out, Banerjee rushed to Kumar's residence in a show of support for him and later began her "dharna".
 
The CBI said they were investigating the case on the directions of the Supreme Court and insisted they were only carrying out their duties. 
 
An Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1989 batch (West Bengal cadre), Rajeev Kumar was the head of a Special Investigation Team that probed the Saradha and Rose Valley scams. The CBI has said that they need to question him regarding some documents and files and that he has not responded to repeated notices to him to appear before the agency. It has also expressed apprehension that he might attempt to destroy evidence in the case.
 
"A situation has been created where opposing the BJP is being taken to imply being anti-national, and opposing is being taken as an excuse to use different investigating agencies to harass people and to throw people in jail. They are using the most lowly ways to create hatred in the minds of the people," Banerjee said.
 
"From the day they came to power, they have been busy in finding ways to get rid of the Opposition. Our Satyagraha movement will continue," she said.
 
Banerjee said her "dharna" would continue till February 8. She said the date had been chosen because the Madhyamik Examinations will start the next day, when restrictions on the use of loudspeakers would come into place.
 
"India has always been a humane society. I am fighting under the ‘Save India’ banner to save the unity and integrity of the country, and above all, to save the democratic rights of people, citizenship rights, property rights, freedom of speech, and to ensure that officers can conduct their work in an impartial manner," she said.
 
"There is no political issue involved in this. They are torturing everyone. We always respect the law and feel that things should run as per law. But if someone tries to destroy the pillars on which democracy stands, then there would be nothing left of the democratic process that we are so proud of," she said.
 
"It is in this background that I am conducting ny protest here. This is not some small incident. Leaders from across the country, who believe in the federal structure, are supporting me in this struggle. We extend our sincerest thanks to all of them," she said.
 
"This is not my individual fight; this is a collective fight. I hope democracy and the rule of law find a favourable atmosphere to go their courses.
 
"We will never support any attempt to control the media, gag people’s right to speak, use the judiciary in an unbefitting manner, to indulge in a coup. There can always be differences among people.
 
"No government work would be hampered because of this protest. Our official work and our struggle to secure the rights of the people will continue simultaneously. I request all of you to protest in a peaceful manner. Do not get influenced by any instigatory tactics," she added.
 
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Meanwhile, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is understood to have sent his report on the situation to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today.
 
The Home Minister had called up Tripathi yesterday to take stock of the situation.
 
In Delhi, the CBI moved the Supreme Court today and sought the cooperation of the Kolkata Police Commissioner in their investigations. The plea will be heard tomorrow.
 
The CBI's application was mentioned by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjeev Khanna.
 
The court said it would hear the plea tomorrow and that it would be open for the solicitor general or any other party to lay before the court any material, by means of an affidavit, to show that the Kolkata Police Commissioner or any other authority was trying to destroy evidence related to the case. 
 
The BJP, meanwhile, defended the CBI's moves in the case and wondered why Banerjee was protecting the Police Commissioner.
 
"She kept quiet when many of her Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs, were arrested in corruption cases but has started a sit-in to support a police officer ... these suspicious circumstances clearly indicate that the police commissioner knows a lot and therefore needed to be saved," Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the developments in the state were "unfortunate and unprecedented" and "dangerous for the democratic polity of the country".
 
He said that if law enforcement agencies were not allowed to carry out their duties it would lead to anarchy.
 
Trinamool Congress members raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and found support from the Congress, the NCP, the SP, the RJD and the BJD, among others. They alleged the Centre was misusing the CBI and other agencies for its narrow political ends ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The ruckus led to repeated adjournments before the Chair adjourned the house for the day.
 
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Mamata begins dharna after CBI-Police showdown in Kolkata

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a scathing attack on the Centre after a CBI team made an unsuccessful attempt to question the Commissioner of Police of Kolkata in connection with the chit fund case and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah of trying to stage a coup against her.
 
"The situation in the country is like a super-emergency. I have decided to sit on a dharna to save the Constitution, to save democracy, to save the federal structure," the Trinamool Congress (TMC) said as she began a "Save the Constitution" protest at the Metro Channel in the city.
 
This came after several CBI officers landed up outside the residence of Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar but were stopped by the police and taken in jeeps to a police station, where they were detained for some time before being released.
 
As the unprecedented showdown between the CBI and the West Bengal Police played out, Banerjee rushed to Kumar's residence in a show of support for him.
 
The CBI said they were investigating the case on the directions of the Supreme Court and insisted they were only carrying out their duties. Sources also indicated that the agency might approach the apex court in Delhi tomorrow on the latest develpments.
 
Banerjee received support from Congress President Rahul Gandhi and several other Opposition leaders.
 
"I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces," Gandhi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Messages of support also came in from former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, former J&K Chief Minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah, DMK chief M K Stalin and RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav, among others.
 
"I am anguished. The manner in which Modi and Shah are trying to take control of Bengal is unprecedented. Just because I organised the United India Rally, I am being targeted," Banerjee said at a press conference.
 
"You have seen the speech of the Prime Minister. The language he used is not befitting a Prime Minister. He had threatened yesterday only that CBI will be used," she said.
 
She said the BJP's expiry date had arrived and that the party would be voted out in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, expected to be held in April-May. "They have to win the mandate in an election, not by force," she said.
 
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Banerjee said it was her government that had constituted the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that arrested the chit fund owner. "The action against chit funds began during our regime," she said.
 
"Every time there is an election, they start raking up the issue of chit funds. Modi is writing the script and Mr. Doval is implementing it through CBI," she said, referring to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
 
She wondered if the Centre would now impose President's Rule and said the people would give a befitting reply if it did so.
 
"The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. Let them prove their allegations against Rajeev Kumar. How can they come to the residence of the Kolkata CP without warrant? This is a constitutional breakdown. They are running a parallel administration.
 
"I appeal to all Opposition parties to work unitedly  to oust Modi from power. Modi hatao, desh bachao," she said.
 
"The offices of Governors have become branches of BJP party office.
 
"The situation in the country is like super-emergency. I have decided to sit on a dharna to save the Constitution, to save democracy, to save federal structure," she said.
 
Banerjee asked her party workers to organise rallies between 2 pm and 4 pm in every block of the state.
 
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'Iconoclast' filmmaker Mrinal Sen passes away at 95

Mrinal Sen (File photo: IANS)
Mrinal Sen (File photo: IANS)
Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen famed for his ability to put searching questions before the society -- especially the middle class, died at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday following old age complications, family sources said.
 
Sen, 95, a widower, is survived by his only son Kunal.
 
Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m. after a cardiac arrest, his family physician said.
 
His demise brings the curtains down on one of the most glorious chapters of filmmaking in India, where Sen and late directors Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak are revered as the 'trinity' for giving birth to the parallel (or new) cinema movement in the country.
 
The "trinity" gave a new direction to the idea of filmmaking in India, displaying spontaneity, aesthetic sense and deep knowledge of the medium, that made the world look up in wonder and respect at their creations.
 
Born on May 14, 1923, at Faridpur (now in Bangladesh), Sen made his first Bengali film "Rat Bhore" (The Dawn) in 1953, but it was his second directorial effort "Neel Akasher Niche" (Under the Blue Sky) that received acclaim in the country for its lyricism and humane qualities.
 
Sen followed it up with "Baishey Shravan" (Wedding Day), that earned him plaudits from the critics beyond Indian shores.
 
In 1969, Sen worked on a small budget provided by the Central government to direct "Bhuvan Shome" (Mr. Shome) -- a film regarded as an important milestone in the new cinema film movement in India.
 
A lifelong Leftist, who, however, never took the membership of any communist party in India, Sen has left behind a rich repertoire of 27 feature films, 14 shorts and four documentaries during a career spanning six decades.
 
Among his other venerated films are "Interview" (1971), "Ek Adhuri Kahani" (An Unfinished Story, 1971), "Calcutta 71" (1972), "Chorus" (1974), "Mrigayaa" (in Hindi - The Royal Hunt, 1976), "Oka Oori Katha" (in Telugu - The Outsiders, 1977), "Ek Din Pratidin" (And Quiet Rolls the Dawn, 1979), "Akaler Sandhane" (In Search of Famine, 1980), "Chalchitra" (The Kaleidoscope, 1981), "Kharij" (The Case Is Closed, 1982), "Khandhar" (The Ruins, 1983), "Genesis" (1986), "Ek Din Achanak" (Suddenly, One Day, 1989).
 
His last film "Aamaar Bhuvan" (This, My Land) came in 2002.
 
An intellectual par excellence and a great conversationist, Sen regaled in calling himself an "iconoclast" and "By accident, a maker of films".
 
Widely feted, Sen received the Padma Bhushan in 1981, the Dadasaheb Phalke -- the highest award in Indian cinema -- in 2005, the French government's Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et letters (Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters) in 2001, and Order of Friendship from the Russian government in the same year.
 
He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1997 to 2003, and president of the International Federation of the Film Societies for some time.
 
Respected across the globe, Sen served as a member of International Jury at various film festivals, including Cannes, Venice, Berlin, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, Tokyo, Tehran, Mannheim, Nyon, Chicago, Ghent, Tunis and Oberhausen.
 
He came out with his autobiography "Always Being Born" in 2004.
 
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Condoling Sen's death, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said "it is an irreparable loss to the world of filmmaking".
 
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: "Mrinal Sen no more... a most amiable, distinguished creative cinematic mind, contemporary of Satyajit Ray and Rithik Ghatak. I did my first ever voiceover in his film 'Bhuvan Shome'. Prayers and condolences."
 
Famous Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta termed Sen's death as "the end of an era".
 
Acclaimed Bengali actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen, who worked in three films made by Sen, said more than a director and a colleague, he was like a family member.
 
Film and stage actor Kaushik Sen, who debuted in Sen's film "Ek Din Pratidin" as a child actor, was at a loss for words.
 
"My relationship with Mrinal Sen was very personal... cannot say much at this point. I learnt a lot of technical things about acting and filmmaking from him. I first acted in front of the camera because of him and my first film was also directed by him. I have also acted in the last film made by him," Kaushik said.
 
Veteran actor Ranjit Mullick, who also made his acting debut under Sen, grieved at the "painful news".
 
"Mrinal Sen's name is pronounced with stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak in the same breath. I cannot believe he is no more. It is a painful news. He had a great sense of humour," Ranjit said.
 
IANS
 

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Filmmaker Mrinal Sen passes away at 95

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Legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen died at his south Kolkata residence on Sunday following old age complications, said a member of his family.
 
Sen, 95, a widower, left behind his only son Kunal.
 
Sen, who was ailing for a long time, breathed his last at his Bhowanipore home around 10 a.m.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has condoled Sen's death.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Forty injured in Kolkata Metro train fire

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At least 40 people were injured after an air-conditioned rake of a metro train in Kolkata caught fire on Thursday evening disrupting metro services partially for four hours, West Bengal ministers and police said.
 
Panic gripped the passengers as thick smoke was seen coming out of the second compartment of a Dumdum-bound metro rake between Maidan and Rabindra Sadan metro station around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
 
"We saw a fire on the track outside the rake. The compartment was filled with smoke. The train was moving in that condition. It was like the film Burning Train (a 1980 Bollywood action thriller in which the Super Express catches fire on its inaugural run and continues to move at full speed)," said a passenger.
 
Senior officials of Kolkata Metro, city police and personnel of West Bengal fire service and the disaster management team rushed to the spot and carried out immediate evacuation of the stranded passengers. The metro authorities have ordered a high-level probe.
 
"Forty (passengers) were brought to the hospital for treatment. Five of them were admitted in the SSKH Hospital," state public works minister Aroop Biswas said. But an official of the hospital said seven people have been admitted.
 
Biswas said chief minister Mamata Banerjee, now on tour at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district, was monitoring the situation.
 
"One passenger has a fracture in his leg. Some others are under oxygen support," said city mayor Firhad Hakim.
 
A Kolkata police officer said all the passengers and staff have been evacuated from the rake.
 
The metro authority confirmed the fire has been successfully put out and urged people not to panic.
 
"We disconnected the power supply on the track and the train and stopped the train inside the tunnel as soon as we heard about the smoke. The fire on the outside was put out. Some glass window panes had to be broken to rescue the passengers. We are happy that a major accident could be averted," Kolkata Matro CPRO Indrani Banerjee said.
 
The official said the metro railway was running a truncated metro service between Noapara and Central and New Garia to Tollygunge.
 
She said the evacuation was started at 5.20 p.m. and completed by 5.50 p.m.
 
However, many commuters who were evacuated from the train, complained that they were stranded for more than half-an-hour after the fire broke out while some alleged no announcement was made by the motorman of the train.
 
They claimed some of the passengers fell ill due to the smoke and alleged that the rescue operation was delayed.
 
"According to primary investigation, it seems that a spark in the TRCC third rail that supplies power to the trains might have caused the fire. The situation is under control. We are probing the matter," said Jag Mohan, Director General of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services.
 
State Fire Services Minister Sujit Bose claimed that the metro railway's alarm system did not function causing panic among the passengers.
 
IANS
 

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Fire in Kolkata metro coach, 16 injured

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At least 16 people were injured after an air-conditioned rake of a metro train in Kolkata caught fire on Thursday evening, police said.
 
Panic gripped the passengers as thick smoke was seen coming out of the second coach of a Dumdum-bound metro rake between Maidan and Rabindra Sadan metro station around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
 
Senior officials of Kolkata Metro, city police and personnel of West Bengal fire service and the disaster management team rushed to the spot and carried out immediate evacuation of the stranded passengers.
 
"According to our reports, 15 passengers sustained minor injuries in the incident while one person has got a fracture in his leg. Everyone has been successfully evacuated from the rake," a senior officer of Kolkata Police said.
 
The metro authority confirmed the fire has been successfully put out and urged people not to panic.
 
"We disconnected the power supply and stopped the train inside the tunnel as soon as we heard about the smoke. The fire on the outside was put out. Some glass window panes had to be broken to rescue the passengers. We are happy that a major accident could be averted," Kolkata Matro CPRO Indrani Banerjee said.
 
However, many commuters who were evacuated from the train, complained that they were stranded for more than half an hour after the fire broke out while some alleged no announcement was made by the motorman of the train to pacify them.
 
They claimed some of the passengers fell ill due to the smoke and alleged that the rescue operation was delayed.
 
"According to primary investigation it seems that a spark in the TRCC third rail that supplies power to the trains might have caused the fire. The situation is under control. We are probing the matter," (DG) of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services Jag Mohan said.
 
IANS
 

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KCR meets Mamata, says his mission is to form non-Congress, non-BJP front

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Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, on Monday met his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and said his mission was to form a non-Congress, non-BJP front and that a concrete plan would be unveiled soon.
 
"That's what is the mission of KCR," Rao said after the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna, when a mediaperson asked him whether he was still looking for a non-Congress, non-BJP front.
 
When a mediaperson asked what exactly his mission was, he replied "That is what you said. That's my mission... I will continue my effort. Don't be in such a haste. This is not a small thing... taking a decision across the table."
 
Rao said they discussed matters of mutual interest and "also matters of national politics".
 
He hoped "very soon" they would come up with a concrete plan.
 
"Our dialogue will continue. Very shortly I think, we may come out with a concrete plan.. wait for the appropriate time... You will see things happening very shortly. We will give you good news. We will let you know," Rao said, as Banerjee was seen nodding in agreement.
 
"My discussions with didi (elder sister, as Banerjee is affectionately called) are always good. We had a discussion. We will continue our dialogue. The results will be visible," he added.
 
KCR, who became the chief minister for Telangana for the second consecutive time after winning the recent assembly polls, mentioned that Banerjee had congratulated him for Telangana Rashtra Samithi's victory.
 
Rao had also met his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar on Sunday as part of his series of meetings with regional leaders for forming a federal front of regional parties.
 
IANS
 

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Former Bengal Minister Nirupam Sen dead

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Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former West Bengal Commerce and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen died early on Monday, party said. Sen was 72.
 
The former politburo member succumbed to multi-organ failure around 5 a.m. at a private hospital in the satellite township of Salt Lake.
 
Sen, who handled the industrial reconstruction, planning and power portfolios in the erstwhile Left Front regime under Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, was suffering from neurological and kidney related ailments.
 
Sen was elected to Bengal state assembly in 1987, 2001 and 2006 from Burwan South seat. He lost to Trinamool Congress candidate Rabi Ranjan Chattopadhyay in 2011.
 
He was survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
 
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HC division bench quashes order permitting BJP's Rath Yatra rallies

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The BJP's plans to take out Rath Yatras christened 'Save democracy rallies' in West Bengal again hit a roadblock, with a Calcutta High Court division bench on Friday quashing the order of a single bench that gave a conditional go-ahead to the programme.
 
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Debasish Kargupta and Justice Shampa Sarkar sent the case back to the single-judge bench with a directive that the latter consider the intelligence inputs provided by the state agencies.
 
The Mamata Banerjee government had moved an appeal at the division bench against Thursday's single-bench order and sought urgent hearing.
 
While setting aside the single-judge bench's order, the division bench directed it to study afresh the 36 intelligence inputs from 31 police stations and five police commissionerates submitted by the state government before it.
 
The ruling came after state advocate general Kishore Dutta argued that the single bench had not considered the intelligence inputs and returned to the government without opening the sealed cover in which the inputs were given.
 
Dutta said the intelligence inputs had apprehended communal disturbances if the BJP's proposed programme was given the green light.
 
In an interesting development, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi pleaded as a counsel of the Director General of Police and the additional director general (law and order) and argued that the rally and the reception part of the programme would lead to huge traffic bottlenecks, inconveniencing commuters.
 
Sanghvi said with the BJP submitting that 1,500 people would take part in each of the three Rath Yatra rallies in the state, there would be a kilometre long bus convoy in each case, jeopardising vehicular movement. He said the police have no objection to the holding of meetings, and pointed out that nearly 2,100 such political meetings called by the saffron outfit in the last two years have got the nod in the state.
 
The police's objection was about the rally and reception part of the programme that could cause traffic chaos, he argued.
 
On Thursday, acting on a petition filed by the BJP against the government refusing permission for the rallies, the bench of Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty had given conditional permission to the programme, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
The state government had last week rejected BJP's plea to hold the 'Rath Yatra', arguing there was "grave apprehension of major breach of peace and communal violence during and in the aftermath" of the programme.
 
The BJP had moved a single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court on December 17 after the Bengal government's decision and proposed December 22, 24 and 26 as fresh dates for the three Rath Yatra rallies.
 
The BJP was originally scheduled to hold three Rath Yatra rallies from north Bengal's Cooch Behar, South 24 Parganas district's Gangasagar and Birbhum district's temple town of Tarapith, flagged off by party president Amit Shah on December 7, 9 and 14, respectively. These rallies were meant to touch all 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state before converging at Kolkata in January.
 
IANS
 

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Senior Kolkata journalist arrested by CBI in chit fund case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday arrested Suman Chattopadhyay, editor of a leading Bengali daily, in the I-Core Group chit fund scam, an official said.
 
Chattopadhyay had allegedly received money in his bank accounts from the chit fund firm, the agency's spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
 
Chattopadhyay, also a director in Disha Productions and Media Private Limited (DPMPL), was arrested after several hours of questioning at the agency's office at the CGO complex in a case registered against the I-Core Group.
 
"The investigation has revealed that funds collected illegally by the I-Core Group were allegedly diverted in the accounts of DPMPL as well as personal account of Chattopadhyay," the spokesperson said. 
 
"He will be produced before a special Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Odisha's Bhubaneswar on Friday," he said.
 
"The investigation is continuing," he added.
 
The CBI in 2014 started its probe into the affairs of the I-Core Group following a Supreme Court order asking the central agency to investigate all non-Saradha (Group) fund mobilising companies.
 
The Managing Directors of I-Core E Services Limited, Anukul Maity, and his wife Kanika were arrested in 2017 by CBI on charges of cheating. 
 
The couple was earlier taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department of West Bengal police in cheating and other fraud cases.
 
The company had mobilised funds, mainly in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal, through its ponzi schemes that promised returns at rates much higher than those prevailing in the market.
 
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Calcutta HC gives conditional nod to BJP's Rath Yatra

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday gave conditional permission to the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rath Yatra rallies, saying the organisers will be liable for any untoward incident or damage to public property.
 
Acting on a petition filed by the BJP, Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty said the organisers have to inform the police superintendent of the district concerned 12 hours prior to taking out the yatra.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Legendary classical singer Arun Bhaduri passes away

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Legendary classical singer Pandit Arun Bhaduri, known for his deep and sonorous voice, passed away at a city hospital on Monday following age-related ailments and respiratory distress, family sources said.
 
Bhaduri, 75, is survived by his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a grandson.
 
Born in West Bengal's Murshidabad on October 7, 1943, Bhaduri received his initial lessons in Indian music from Mohammed Abu Daud, before fine-tuning his knowledge on the nuances and embellishments of the Hindustani Classical Music from Mohammed Sagiruddin Khan.
 
Later, he was also taught by the late Ustad Ishtiaq Hussain Khan of the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana, and Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh.
 
Greatly influenced by Ustad Ameer Khan, Bhaduri imbibed his aesthetic qualities, and successfully created a style of his own by fusing the various styles he learnt from the stalwarts.
 
He joined the ITC Sangeet Research Academy as a musician scholar and rose to become one of its most venerated Gurus.
 
A top grade radio and television artiste, Bhaduri received invitations from music festivals in the UK, the USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
 
Bhaduri is also known for his excellent rendering of Bengali songs and bhajans.
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed grief at Bhaduri's demise.
 
Recalling that the state government had conferred on him the state's highest civilian award, Banga Bibhusan, in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to music, Banerjee said his passing away would "create a big void in the world of music and culture".
 
IANS

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West Bengal: Former LF minister Abdus Sattar joins Congress

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Former West Bengal minister Abdus Sattar, who severed his long association with the CPI-M last year, on Monday joined the Congress, calling it the only party capable of challenging the communal policies of the BJP.
 
Sattar, who served as Minister of State for Minorities Development during the Left Front regime, was welcomed into the Congress by state party chief Somen Mitra and in-charge of Bengal Gaurav Gogoi.
 
"I decided to join the Congress after I became convinced it is the only party that can stand up to the communal onslaught launched by the BJP across the country," Sattar told mediapersons at the state Congress headquarters Bidhan Bhavan.
 
Sattar had not renewed his membership of the Communist Party of India-Marxist in 2017. Since then, he had not been associated with any party.
 
IANS
 

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Opposition to meet before winter session of Parliament: Naidu

 
Chandrababu Naidu meets Mamata Banerjee in Howrah
The much-talked about meeting of parties opposed to the BJP to strategise against the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha elections has been postponed and may now be held after the current Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said after a meeting between them here.
 
Claiming that democracy in the country was in danger, Naidu, who is also the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, said on Monday that there is a "democratic compulsion" for the senior opposition leaders to join hands to protect the nation. 
 
Echoing his views, Banerjee said the meeting of anti-BJP parties would be held after campaigning in the Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament.
 
"The meeting to be held on November 22 has been postponed due to the ongoing election campaign. We want to meet before the next parliamentary session. We are in discussions about it. The date of the meeting will be announced soon," Naidu told reporters following the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna here. 
 
"Democracy in the country is in danger. So there is a democratic compulsion for us to join together. It is the responsibility of us, the senior leaders to protect the nation. Those who are opposing BJP will join together, discuss everything and chalk out a programme to go forward," he said. 
 
Naidu, whose TDP was earlier an ally of the BJP, has met a spectrum of leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP's Sharad Pawar, DMK's M K Stalin, National Conference' Farooq Abdullah, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and BSP chief Mayawati to forge a front against the ruling party and had proposed a meeting of opposition parties to be held in New Delhi on November 22. 
 
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Terming the meeting with Banerjee as successful, Naidu said fighting together has become necessary as all major institutions in the country including the CBI, the Income Tax Department, the RBI are under threat while the nation's economy is at a standstill. 
 
"We have to protect the institutions... you name any institution, they are under severe pressure and threat. Be it the CBI, Income Tax, RBI every institution is under threat. Even the petrol and diesel prices are increasing, there is inflation, the whole nation's economy is at a standstill," he said. 
 
Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, said she has invited Naidu for her proposed opposition party meeting here in January next year, which was confirmed by the TDP chief.
 
"We are grateful that he has come here. I invited him also for the January 19 meeting. We are discussing the matters for the country's interest and earlier, we also discussed so many things. Today, we discussed in detail about the next future plans. When the meeting will be decided, we will discuss the plan of action. We are working and speaking together," Banerjee said. 
 
When asked about the face of the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties, Banerjee said, "Everybody will be the face of this Mahagatbandhan (grand alliance)."
 
Naidu interjected to say that "all of us are senior to Modi".
 
IANS
 

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Anju Seth takes over as Director of IIM Calcutta

Anju Seth
Anju Seth
Prof. Anju Seth took over as the new Director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta here this morning -- the first woman to hold the coveted position.
 
An announcement to this effect was made by the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of IIM Calcutta, Mr. Shrikrishna Kulkarni.
 
“We are indeed delighted that Anju will be the first woman Director of IIMC. She was the unanimous choice of the Search Cum Selection Committee and the BOG. On behalf of the IIMC fraternity, it is my privilege to welcome her to the IIMC team," Mr. Kulkarni added.
 
Prof. Seth is an alumnus of IIMC and has most recently held the position of Pamplin Professor of Management at Virginia Tech in the United States.
 
She completed her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and has a distinguished academic career spanning over 25 years.
 
Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Prof. Seth was Professor of Business Administration at University of Illinois. She has received numerous awards for her teaching and research.
 
She is on the editorial board of many scholarly journals. During the past several years she has maintained strong connections with academic and professional organizations in India such as Vedica Scholars Program and many others.
 
Speaking on her new responsibility, Prof. Seth said, “It is an honour and privilege to be appointed to serve IIM Calcutta in the position of Director. I look forward to working with faculty, staff, students, Governors and all other stakeholders to build on the Institute’s strong foundations and accomplish new heights of eminence.”
 
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Amitabh Bachchan has preserved most of his films: Expert

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Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan has successfully saved the prints of most of his films, an expert said on Thursday.
 
Founder and Director of Film Heritage Foundation Shivendra Singh Dungarpur said Bachchan used to ask the producers to give him the prints of his films.
 
"When we approached Bachchan, we found it interesting to note that he used to ask the film producers to give him a copy of a subtitled print and another print. In that process he maintained most of his films," Dungarpur said at the 4th Preservation and Restoration Workshop's opening at KIFF.
 
He said film restoration is the need of the hour. There has to be awareness about it, as there was a need for trained archivists.
 
"I am really glad with such concerted efforts for restoring great works of Bengali cinema. We are celebrating the centenary of Bengali cinema. So saving our work is of utmost importance," said KIFF chairman and leading Bengali actor Prasenjit Chatterjee.
 
Bachchan is the brand ambassador of the initiative. He shared a video message wishing it great success.
 
"West Bengal produced some of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwick Ghatak and so on. I would thank the government for supporting the initiative, so the future generations would be able to see these works," Bachchan said.
 
At least 100 Bengali classics have been identified for restoration.
 
IANS
 

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One coach of Dhauli Express derails near Panskura, no injuries reported

A coach of the 12821 Howrah-Puri Dhauli Express got derailed between Bhogpur and Panskura stations in the Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal this morning but none of the passengers was injured, official sources said
 
The derailment occurred at about 7.10 am when one wheel of the AC Chair Car (D3), sixth from the engine, got derailed on the middle line of the section in Kharagpur division of South Eastern Railway. The  Up and Down lines were unaffected and free, the sources said.
 
Panskura is located about  67 km from Howrah in West Bengal and 416 km from Puri in Odisha.
 
The guard of the train had reported that there were no injuries to any passengers, the sources said, adding that senior railway officials had left for the spot.
 
Arrangements were being made to detach the affected coach  and run the rest of the train soon, they said. Passengers of the derailed coach would be adjusted in other coaches.
 
"The front and rear portions of the train will be amalgamated at Panskura station very shortly. Passengers of D3 coach will be suitably adjusted in other coaches. Passengers will be served tea and snacks at Panskura. General Manager of South Eastern Railway P. S. Mishra is personally monitoring the situation from the control room," the  sources added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines: 
 
Howrah Station 03326377197
Kharagpur:  03222255897 & 03222255751
Balasore: 06782265767
 
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