Kolkata fire: Caretaker, assistant in 14-day custody

A notice informing public about demolition work hangs on the gates of the Stephen Court building in Kolkata on Thursday

The caretaker of the fire-ravaged heritage building on Park Street and his assistant were on Thursday remanded to 14-day police custody as the blame game intensified with the Chief Minister warning civic officials of stern action over the ‘racket’ in illegal constructions.

Tarun Bagadia, the caretaker of Stephen Court, and his assistant Ramshankar Singh, arrested on negligence and other charges, were sent to police custody by a court of the chief metropolitan magistrate.

Acting on a petition, the Calcutta High Court granted interim stay on the demolition of any portion of the 150-year-old Stephen Court.

Debraj Sharma and other residents of Stephen Court submitted that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, in the name of demolishing the two top floors of the building, was destroying their property and not allowing them to enter.

The fire that broke out on Tuesday claimed 24 lives.

While Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee put the number of missing at 24, Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said 12-15 people were untraceable.

Buddhadeb talks tough

Facing public outrage over the absence of safety norms, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee accused the civic administration of being hand in glove with the ‘coterie’ of illegal builders.

“The top floors of Stephen Court are illegal. We are investigating what the KMC’s role was at that time…The city has a coterie of illegal builders with whom the administration is involved. Exemplary punishment will be given. The fire has taught the government to intervene in such situations immediately,” he said in the State Assembly.

He went on to say that “a racket is working” in connivance with a section of the administration.

Search still on

Firemen continued search for the third day for those missing after the fire in the building as a stench was coming from the rubble on the upper floors.

“We can’t rule out more bodies as debris is yet to be cleared,” a fire brigade official said.

The residents demanded that they be allowed into the building, which was out of bounds for them, to collect their valuables.

The police and KMC officials had a tough time in facing the demonstrators, who included women with some lunging at the officials. “Save our houses. Don’t demolish them,” read one of the posters of the demonstrators.

And now, a museum on Sachin

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Thursday announced that a museum on the career of Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar would soon be built in the state.

The museum will depict the life and cricket career of the master batsman, who recently became the first player in the history of the game to score a one-day international double hundred.

Sachin is also the first Indian sportsperson to have his wax statue erected at the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum in London.

The statue was erected last year on Sachin’s 36th birthday. The statue had been formally launched by Tendulkar in Mumbai, who had exclaimed “it was so real, it was fanastic! I’m glad it doesn’t breathe.”

 He became the first Indian sportsman to make the grade and joined cricket legends Brian Lara and Shane Warne.


India Fashion Week opens after fire permit delay

NEW DELHI — Organisers of India’s leading fashion week said the event would finally open on Thursday after a missing fire permit forced the cancellation of all shows on the first day.

Designers, models, traders and the media waited in vain at the venue until late in the evening on Wednesday as police conducted a surprise check on the paperwork for the five-day Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in New Delhi.

“The event will open on Thursday. We have the fire safety certificate now,” said Bhavna Katyal, a member of the organising team.

Katyal said they had failed to obtain a certificate from the fire department showing that all safety arrangements were in place at the venue which led the police to order its closure.

The event, in its 15th edition this year, will feature 130 Indian designers showcasing their collections, and had eight shows planned on the opening day.

Among India’s host of fashion events, the biannual India Fashion Week along with the Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai are considered the most important events on the calendar.

Katyal said she was unsure how the cancelled shows would be rescheduled at the Okhla exhibition centre in the south of New Delhi.


‘I know who planted the bomb on Kingfisher flight’

A mysterious caller has been nagging the harried airport police and claiming to have information of the people who planted a crude bomb in the Kingfisher aircraft on Sunday.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (north east) Basavraj Malagatti received a phone call from a Mohan from Mumbai. He claimed that he has filmed the people who had kept explosives in the aircraft.
Malagatii said that the caller informed him that he has converted the recording into a CD and would give it to him if he gets suitably rewarded.
“I got the call at 7.15 pm on my landline number. The caller refused to divulge his complete identity and his phone number.
When I assured him that he’ll be rewarded if he gives me the CD and his phone number, he said he’ll contact me soon and took my mobile phone numbers,” Malagatti said.
Malagatti added that the caller said he would give his bank account number for depositing the money as he would need it to fly his associate down to Bangalore with the CD.
“I assured him that I’d give him two and fro charges along with the cash reward if I get the CD and asked him to send his associate. However, he didn’t reply to it and disconnected the call,” said Malagatti.
“I’ve asked my officers to track the number as I think he’s a prankster. However, we cannot rule out any possible leads.”
Meanwhile, the Kerala police have picked up a few people in Thiruvananthapuram, including a ground staff member of Kingfisher airlines.
They have also detained a scrap dealer and an explosives licence holder in connection with the case.
Also, on a tip-off from the Kerala police, the Bangalore airport police have detained three people who were travelling from Kerala to Dubai via Bangalore. They are presently being interrogated.

Rakesh Maria likely to be appointed Maharashtra ATS chief

Mumbai: Rakesh Maria, Mumbai’s Joint Police Commissioner of Crime is likely to be appointed as Maharashtra’s new Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief.

Maria replaces K P Raghuvanshi, as reports confirm that he made the mistake of going public with information critical to tracking down terror suspects in Pakistan.

Sources said Raghuvanshi has been asked to step down from his post following his fault of going public with regard to information on terror suspects.

Maria has been credited for solving the 1993 blast case and has been the face of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks probe.

Raghuvanshi’s second term as the Maharashtra ATS Chief was cut short with this transfer. He also has been facing criticism for the non-performance in the Pune Blast case. (ANI)

Gates Foundation to invest Rs. 250 crore in UP

Uttar Pradesh has been assured of an investment of Rs. 250 crore by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in medical, health and family welfare sectors in the state. Besides, the Foundation has also shown interest in extending its contribution towards improving the State’s health indices.

This was decided at a meeting between the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati and the Foundation’s founder, Melinda Gates in Lucknow on Wednesday. The meeting held at the Chief Minister’s 5, Kalidas Marg official residence was attended by the officers of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The programmes run by the Foundation in the State’s health and family welfare sectors, as well as the future plans were discussed in the meeting. Appreciating the initiative taken by the Founation, Ms. Mayawati assured all possible assistance from the Uttar Pradesh Government.

According to an official spokesman, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was informed by Ms. Gates that schemes worth Rs. 500 crore have been launched by the Foundation with the maximum investment being made in U.P. . Ms. Gates said the Foundation was interested in extending the benefits to those sections who were unable to avail the medical, health and family welfare services.

Particular emphasis was laid on women and child welfare and polio and tuberculosis eradication programmes by Ms. Gates, the spokesman said.

Ms. Gates was apprised by the Chief Minister how the long period of political instability in Uttar Pradesh had ended following the formation of the Bahujan Samaj Party Government in May 2007. Ms. Mayawati said a comprehensive health and family welfare programme had been formulated by her Government to ensure that these services were extended to poor and deprived sections of the population.

Ms. Mayawati said the people of the State, particularly the poor, were now ensured of better health services.

Crane overturns at Delhi Metro site; two injured

Two persons were injured when a mini-crane at a Delhi Metro construction site toppled and fell on an autorickshaw in south-east Delhi this evening.

The incident took place at Alimore in Sarita Vihar at around 4:30 pm.

“The mini-crane called hydra toppled and fell on an autorickshaw at a construction site between Mohan Estate and Tuglaqabad Metro stations on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur line,” a Delhi Metro official said.

The driver of the autorickshaw and a labourer identified as Rajesh (30) were injured in the incident. They were rushed to AIIMS Trauma Centre where they are undergoing treatment, police said.