BENGAL POLITICS: Schoolgirls bear bomb brunt

BENGAL POLITICS: Schoolgirls bear bomb brunt – Asok Bhattacharya and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee don’t have FIR’s filed against them for being morally responsible as in Darjeeling ?!!

Sonali at Behrampore General Hospital on Thursday - in no state to file FIRs ?!! (TT)


Behrampore, Sept. 9: Two schoolgirls were injured, one seriously, in their sleep when Congress supporters allegedly hurled bombs at their house during a clash with CPM activists that also claimed one life in Murshidabad last night.

Doctors said the condition of Sonali Khatoon, 12, a resident of Teghori village, was serious. Part of her abdomen had to be stitched up because her entrails had come out through her splinter wound. Her younger sister, Rupali Khatoon, 10, received splinter injuries in her hands and legs.

The girls were sleeping with their grandfather, Zaher Ali, 60, in the veranda of their house when the bombs were hurled. Ali, a CPM supporter, is in hospital with splinter injuries.

Their neighbour, Yakin Sheikh, also a CPM supporter, died of injuries he suffered in another bomb attack on his house. A Congress activist and a CPM supporter were injured in the clash.

Sonali, Rupali and the other injured persons were taken to the block hospital at Beldanga from where they were referred to Behrampore General Hospital early this morning.

Ananda Mondal, the superintendent of the Behrampore hospital, said: “Her (Sonali’s) entrails had come out through the wound in the abdomen. We had to stitch it up. She is still not out of danger. We have kept her under observation.”

The girls’ father, Kadar Sheikh, said his daughter and their grandfather were sleeping in the ground-floor veranda of their house while he and his wife were sleeping inside.

“Close to midnight, Congress supporters attacked our house. They hurled several bombs at our house and splinters hit my daughters and my father,” said Kadar, a farmer owing allegiance to the CPM.

Kadar said he could not come out of the house immediately because the attackers were hurling bombs indiscriminately. “Half an hour later, we managed to take my father and daughters inside,” he added.

Police arrived around 2am and took the injured to hospital. The clashes stopped after the police came but started again after some of them left with the injured people.

After a blood-soaked Sonali was attended to at the hospital and her wound stitched up, her father dressed her up in her school uniform as it was the “only good” clothes she had. A police officer said tension had been brewing in Teghori since last week when the treasurer of the local Congress, Haider Mullick, joined the CPM.

“The Congress workers have alleged that Haider had stolen Rs 1 lakh from the party’s coffers before joining the CPM. Haider, backed by the CPM, has refused to return the money,” a police officer said.

District superintendent of police B.L. Meena said five persons had been arrested in connection with the clash.

“We have deployed RAF personnel at the village,” Meena said.

Rain curtails central team’s drought tour – rain not on time, like the relief in Bengal ?!!


Malda, Sept. 9: A four-member central team deputed to assess the drought condition in the district was greeted by torrential rain and visited only the least affected areas after cutting short the tour.

The worst drought-hit blocks — Habibpur, Bamongola, Gajole and Old Malda — remained out of the team’s tour.

“Affected farmers had been waiting for the whole day to talk to the central team about their plight. But they did not even come to our area reeling from an unprecedented drought spell,” said an angry CPM MLA of Habibpur, Khagen Murmu.

The team members, headed by Jute Corporation Development director Santosh Kumar Biswas, reached Malda by Intercity Express around 1am.

When the team members reached Chakbahadur village, it was raining heavily. Still, they got off their cars and talked to the villagers. Jute cultivated on thousands of bigha of land had been badly affected by the drought.

CPM targets Rahul with Amethi potshot – the guilt of the guilty on display ?!!

Rahul Gandhi with a mature smile - well aware of the blame games the CPM plays ?!! (TT)


New Delhi, Sept. 9: The CPM today hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of the Bengal government at this week’s Calcutta rally, saying the Gandhi family pocket boroughs of Rae Bareli and Amethi were worse off than Purulia, one of the state’s poorest districts.

“A comparison of the socio-economic indicators of Purulia with those in Rae Bareli and Amethi will tell the real story. The number of people below the poverty line in Purulia is 31 per cent compared to 54 per cent in Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said an editorial in the latest edition of CPM mouthpiece People’s Democracy.

Rahul had not specifically mentioned Purulia at the September 26 rally but suggested that the central funds meant for poverty alleviation schemes were not reaching the intended beneficiaries in Bengal. The Amethi MP had accused the ruling Left of taking the state backward and perpetuating poverty.

The editorial cites development indicators — such as families with electricity, per capita expenditure, and number of vaccinated children — of Rae Bareli-Amethi and Purulia. Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli in the Lok Sabha.

The editorial also criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the Supreme Court’s order asking the government to distribute foodgrain rotting in godowns among the poor free.

Protest over Bhuniya nomination process – first the apathy and now the energetic resentment ?!!


Calcutta, Sept. 9: A dozen Congress leaders who had been removed from their posts today organised a demonstration in front of the party headquarters off CIT Road, protesting the manner in which Manas Bhuniya was appointed state unit’s chief.

The former district Congress presidents, removed for “non-performance”, and their supporters demanded that the state party chief be either elected through secret ballot or nominated through consensus. None of the procedures was followed in the case of Bhuniya, who was nominated by the high command, they said.

The leaders, including Pradip Bhattacharya, Debi Ghoshal, Nirbed Roy, Biplab Das and Pradip Ghosh, also alleged that they had been “unceremoniously” removed.

Some Congress leaders said the public show of discontent against Bhuniya had “damaged the party’s image”.

Rahul Gandhi had urged party workers at a rally in Calcutta on September 6 to work together ahead of next year’s Assembly polls. “It’s unfortunate that Bengal Congress leaders failed to learn from Rahulji who tried to inculcate discipline in them during his recent visit,” said an AICC leader from Delhi.

Bhuniya, who is in Tamluk, said: “The demonstration amounts to an insult not only to me but also to the organisation.”

Buddha hires a brand guru – how about the English nursery rhyme: ‘DING DONG BANG’ , what ?!! – doesn’t ryme with intellectual, hardworking and erudite, nor with upright, just and non-parochial ?!!

Brand Guru Wally Olins - in for quite a tough job ?!!


Sep 9, 2010: The man positioning London for the 2012 Olympics has been given a brief to brand Bengal.

Wally Olins was on Thursday appointed “to create a brand idea and brand identity for the state of West Bengal”, three months after he had met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee with a proposal to position the state as a place to invest in, study in, work in and visit as tourists.

During his Calcutta visit in June, Olins had told Metro: “Unfortunately, Bengal is one of those areas that is least known and least understood both within and outside its own country.”

Now, the 79-year-old who has branded Poland, Spain and Rio de Janeiro — besides being adviser to Orange, Prudential, Forte Hotels, Coca-Cola, Renault, Volkswagen and Tata over five decades — has been hired to help change that.

“We have accepted the offer and are forming a steering committee to which they will submit a presentation in October,” said Niloy Ghosh, director of information, information and cultural affairs, who handed over the appointment letter to Olins’s company Saffron Brand Consultants.

The steering committee, to be formed within a fortnight, will be chaired by the chief secretary and include departmental secretaries from agriculture, tourism, IT and more. “We will also facilitate their meetings with renowned people from various fields to help with the brand-building project,” said Ghosh.

Of what use is this exercise in the time of such political antagonism? “The government has stressed that this will be apolitical. Even when Wally met the chief minister and the finance minister, they were clear about the apolitical nature of the project,” said Avik Chattopadhyay, the CEO of Saffron Brand Consultants, India.

The brief for Team Wally Olins is to resurrect the bruised image of brand Bengal by “sending out a positive signal”. Instilling pride in people, reaching out to people and changing the popular perception about Bengal would hold the key (see box).

“Bengalis are usually perceived to be intellectual, hardworking and erudite but the moment you think of Bengal, a lot of negatives come to mind such as lack of professionalism, bandhs, the Maoist movement….We are expected to find that one unifying idea to bring back the sense of pride and create a positive disposition as well as a fair and unbiased evaluation of the state,” said Chattopadhyay.

What does Olins branding Bengal mean? “Such an image consultant approaching a state that is usually far down the pecking order is itself a great fillip. One should look at the professional positivity and not be cynical of what I think is a great start,” said advertising veteran, Anurag Hira.


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