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Indian gold smiths stranded for months in Iran are finally back to their motherland

Amit Kumar Mishra

Eleven of twelve goldsmiths, who were stranded in Iran after their passports were allegedly seized by their employer, returned to Kolkata on Wednesday after efforts by an anti-trafficking organisation and the Ministry of External Affairs. The twelfth is likely to return on Saturday.

Sk Moinuddin, a resident of Hooghly, looked relieved as he exited Kolkata airport on Wednesday afternoon. “I had gone to Iran for a job and paid Rs 35,000 to an agent, Gyasuddin Mullick. I went to Iran on April 12 and worked there for about two months. While we were promised a good salary, they gave half the amount in the first month and I continued working for another month without pay. Slowly, they stopped providing us food even. When we confronted the authorities, they threatened us and took away our documents and passports,” said Moinuddin.

Moinuddin said the group then found a mobile app of the National Anti-Trafficking Committee and sent it a message. “We were 12 people confined to a room and they would give us water after 19 hours,” he said. The chairman of the committee, Sk Jinnar, then contacted their family members and wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Prime Minister and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “One person who is still stuck will be back here by Saturday,” said Jinnar.

The local agent, Gyasuddin Mullick, claimed he did not know about the employer’s intentions.“I had taken money from them, about Rs 35,000 each, for visa and other expenses. The main agent was in Dubai, I shouldn’t have believed him. I myself was stuck there,” said Mullick. Jinnar too said, “The main culprit is in Delhi, who had assured Mullick of jobs for 14 people. Our focus is to put him behind bars…” The family members of the 11 youths thanked the authorities. When asked about the matter, a family member of one of the youths said, “…it will be great if the government brings in tougher laws against such touts.”

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Two Bailey bridges built in New Alipore after the collapse of the Majerhat flyover.

Amit Kumar Mishra

The State Government has decided to set up two Bailey bridges over Tolly’s Nullah in Tollygunge to ease the traffic flow across New Alipore, Behala and Joka.

One of the Bailey bridges will link Mahatma Gandhi Road with Narendra Nath Ghosh Lane and run parallel to the Karunamoyee bridge and the other will connect Izzatullah Lane and Canal Road. An official in the urban development department said the Bailey bridge that would run along the Karunamoyee bridge, around 1.5km apart, would be opened to traffic in December. The other will be ready by January.

A Bailey bridge is a portable, pre-fabricated structure with a modular assembly. For years, these bridges have remained the most preferred option for the army in filling connectivity gaps, especially in remote areas. “We want to provide alternative avenues for vehicles headed for the city proper from parts of Behala, Joka and adjacent areas. Work to set up the first bridge (the one along the Karunamoyee bridge) will start next week,” urban development minister Firhad Hakim said on Thursday. Hakim visited both sites with engineers from the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), police officers and representatives of the Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE) on Thursday before drawing up the plans. The CMDA, which functions under Hakim’s department, will execute the two projects with help from GRSE, a central government outfit that set up the two Bailey bridges over the Chetla canal following the collapse of the Majerhat bridge.

The twin brides connect Alipore Avenue with Humayun Kabir Sarani in New Alipore. “The urban development minister has informed us about the government’s willingness to set up two Bailey bridges. We visited the two sites with him on Thursday. The dimensions of the bridges are yet to be finalised,” a GRSE engineer said. “We have told the minister that it is possible to set up the bridges over the Chetla canal. The other formalities will now be taken up.” Officers in the traffic police said the load on the Karunamoyee bridge would reduce a lot if small vehicles, such as cars and two-wheelers, plying between Tollygunge and Joka/Behala are directed to the Bailey bridge. “According to the initial plans, Tollygunge-bound vehicles from Joka and Behala will be allowed to use the new bridge in the morning rush hours. In the evening, Joka/Behala-bound vehicles will be allowed on the bridge.

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Rs 5 Lakh Compensation for Howrah Stampede Victims, announces railway minister piyush goyal

Amit Kumar Mishra

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to those injured in a stampede at a railway over-foot bridge at Santragachhi station in Howrah.

Goyal in a statement said, "Railways would give ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of every deceased, Rs 1 lakh would be given to the grievously injured and Rs 50,000 to those who suffered simple injuries."

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital where the injured were being treated, earlier announced a compensation of Rs five lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each to the injured.

At least two people died and over dozen others injured including two children on Tuesday evening in a stampede at Satrangachhi station.

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In this Bengal village Durga Puja is a way of atonement for supporting Maoist rebels

Amit Kumar Mishra.

A 27-foot martyr column still stands in the village in the memory of Umakanta Mahato, a leader of a Maoist-backed outfit, who was shot dead in a gunfight with the security forces in August 2010. The paint on the structure has peeled off and the ground is overrun with weeds that have completely hidden four more smaller columns, one of which is in the memory of Sashadhar Mahato, a leader of CPI(Maoist).

Villagers had built the memorials in 2010. Barely 100 feet from the column that was once regularly washed and maintained by villagers, microphones are blaring away at the pandal of the only community Durga Puja in the 10 neighbouring villages that about 10 years ago formed one of core areas that was almost a “liberated zone” by the Maoists.“After (Maoist leader) Kishenji was killed in end 2011, the locals don’t mention the names of the rebels. Now we want lasting peace. So we are organising Durga Puja so that they (Maoists) don’t return here,” said Debendra Mahato, a villager who is about 70. This is only the third year that members of Birihandi Udiyaman Tarun Sangha, the local club set up in 1974, is organising Durga Puja.

Though Bengal is now free from the rebels, between 2009 and 2011 they almost had a free run in vast forested swathes of the districts of West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and Jhargram. About 500 lives were lost in clashes between the rebels and security forces in Bengal in this period. In addition as many as 148 passengers of the Mumbai-bound express train died after a few bogies got derailed after midnight May 28, 2010 after Umakanto Mahato and his men cut of a part of the tracks.

We wanted to do something different to announce a decisive break with the past. The villages often used to lament that there is no puja in the area and during a chat three years ago, we decided to organise one in the village,” said Jagadish Mahato, secretary of the club. About 150 families live in the village, where the main economic activity centres around cashew plantation and cultivating fish in local ponds. They pooled in Rs 7 lakh to organise the puja.

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