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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Political and Other News 2013: Part 1

Political and  Other News 2013:Part 1

Pak troops cross LoC, kill one Indian soldier, mutilate body of another :

Jammu: In a major escalation to the ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts, a group of Pakistan Army soldiers raided across the Line of Control in Mendhar Sector and killed two Indian soldiers and injured one more. The Pakistani troops attacked an area domination patrol party of the Indian Army. In the ensuing gunfight two Indian soldiers were killed and the body of one of them was mutilated by the intruders.

In a statement, the Army said, "A group of their regular soldiers intruded across the Line of Control in the Mendhar Sect on 08 Jan 2013. Pakistan Army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving towards own posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders. The fire fight between Pakistan and own troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated back towards their side of Line of Control".The statement added, "This is yet another grave provocation by Pakistan Army which is being taken up sternly through official channels.

"(There has been) a significant escalation to the continuing series of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by Pakistan Army."
The ceasefire violation is the second in two days. On January 6, the Pakistani troops had fired mortar shells towards Indian Army posts in Uri sector near the Line of Control."They (Pakistan Army) started firing mortar shells towards our posts at Churunda village in Uri sector around 3.15 am," an Army spokesman said. He said some of the shells landed close to civilian habitation but there was no damage done.

"The fire fight between Pakistan and our troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated towards their side of LoC. Two soldiers Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh laid down their lives while fighting the Pakistani troops," the statement said.
Reacting upon the Poonch incident, Pakistan military officials denied that the attack had been uprovoked. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, hit back, saying, "We deny that Indian forces violated the ceasefire and did infiltration. The sanctity of ceasefire on LoC should be upheld."
Former Army chief General VP Malik said the incident was serious and could escalate. "This is a very serious incident that has taken place. There is likelihood of this escalating also."In last about one month, Pakistan Army has violated the ceasefire agreement nearly a dozen times. Most of these firing incidents were in Rajouri, Uri and Keran sector to help infiltration attempts, Army officials said.

Haradhan Bandopadhyay Ends his Memorable Actor`s Journey Always as a Director’s first choice From Satyajit Ray To Anurag Basu:

Haradhan Bandopadhyay (6 Novenber 1926 - 5 January 2013) was a Bengali Indian male actor of Television and Films. He made his debut in 1948 Bengali film Devdut directed by Atanu Bandopadhyay. His Had Worked with most prominent directors of Bengali Cinema Like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen.

Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary celebrations to begin on Jan. 12:

The Government of India has decided to undertake the commemoration of 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on January 12 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan auditorium.President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the commemoration in the presence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.Minister of Communications and IT Kapil Sibal, Minister of Culture Chandresh Kumari Katoch, and General Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math Swami Suhitananda will also be present during the occasion.The programme will consist of addresses by dignitaries on the importance and relevance of this commemoration, in the present context.Children from the Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi will render a singing performance. A set of commemorative coins and commemorative stamps on Swami Vivekananda will also be released on the occasion.

A National Committee under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was constituted to consider policies and to lay down guidelines for the commemoration and to decide on the time frame for the commemoration related activities.A National Implementation Committee was also constituted in 2010 under the Chairmanship of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to implement the decisions of the National Committee.

BJP holds protest against Government decision to de-regulate diesel:

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders staged a protest on Friday over the Congress-led UPA Government's move to de-regulate the diesel price, and demanded a rollback.The protestors in New Delhi raised slogans against the government, and accused it of being insensitive towards the people of the country.

"People are being looted in the name of economic policies. The cause of this inflation is the corrupt practices of the government. The people have to bear the brunt of all this. The move to deregulate diesel is in a way directly affecting the people," said Delhi BJP President Vijender Gupta.Similar scenes were witnessed in Gujarat's Ahmedabad city where the BJP leaders burnt effigies to vent their ire over the government's move.

"We are demonstrating against the Central Government's decision to deregulate diesel. This will cause more inflation, because the permission to hike diesel by 40-50 paise every month will impact the common man. The new rate of 9.60 rupees has come into effect for railways and several other companies. This is impacting day-to-day commodities," said BJP leader Alok Sharma.Talking to the media after the meeting on Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs in New Delhi yesterday, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dr. M. Veerappa Moily said that there is no increase in the prices of Diesel and Kerosene.

Dr. Moily, however, said that the oil companies have been permitted to raise diesel prices by a small quantum periodically till such time that they are able to cover Rs 9.60 per litre loss they incur on the fuel.Dr. Moily, who refused to provide details of diesel price increase, said the raise may take place as early as tonight.

The government also raised the cap on supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to nine bottles from six per year."I am happy to inform the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs has decided to raise the cap on subsidised LPG to nine cylinders per household in a year from existing six cylinders," Dr. Moily said.The consumers will get a quota of five subsidised cylinders between September 2012 and March 2013. They will be entitled to nine cylinders per annum from April 1, 2013.

Headley gets 35 years in jail for role in 26/11:

Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley was today sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US Court for helping plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks but escaped death penalty under a deal with the US government over which the judge had serious reservations.“The sentence I impose, I’m hopeful it will keep Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life,” US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said on Thursday.The Judge said it would have been much easier to impose the death penalty. “That’s what you deserve”.52-year-old Headley had entered into a plea bargain with the US investigators under which he escaped death sentence.

But many were left surprised when the US prosecutors did not seek life sentence for Headley.Headley was ordered to serve 35 years, followed by five years of supervised release by Leinenweber.There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 per cent of their sentence.“Headley is a terrorist,” the Judge said while imposing the sentence on 12 counts in a packed court.Leinenweber also said, “He commits crime, cooperates and then gets rewarded for the cooperation.“No matter what I do, it is not going to deter terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists do not care for it. I do not have any faith in Headley when he says that he is a changed person now.“I do believe that it is my duty to protect the public from Headley and ensure that he does not get into any further terrorist activities. Recommending 35 years is not a right sentence”.Asked if he wanted to make a statement, Headley, said, “No your honour”...

In pleading guilty and later testifying for the government at the trial of co-defendant and school time friend Tahawwur Rana, Headley admitted that he attended training camps in Pakistan operated by Lashkar—e—Taiba, on five separate occasions between 2002 and 2005.In late 2005, Headley received instructions from three members of Lashkar to travel to India to conduct surveillance, which he did five times leading up to the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed approximately 166 people, including six Americans, and wounded hundreds more.A week back, Leinenweber had sentenced Rana for 14 years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for providing material support to LeT and planning terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen.Both Headley and Rana were arrested in 2009. Headley was a small-time narcotics dealer turned US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informer who went rogue.In their closing arguments, US attorneys Daniel J. Collins and Sarah E Streicker had sought between 30 and 35 years of imprisonment for Headley.

His attorneys Robert David Seeder and John Thomas had sought a lighter sentence arguing he had given huge amount of information to the US government against terrorist organisations like LeT and several of its leaders.Headley has confessed that he had undertaken numerous scouting missions for his handlers in Pakistan. He had videographed a number of targets in India including the iconic Taj hotel in Mumbai which was attacked by 10 LeT terrorists.

According to security agencies, the detailed videos made by Headley was the foundation on which the Mumbai attacks was planned and carried out.Headley, born to a Pakistani father and American mother, had even changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 to easily move in and out of India without raising suspicion.

The US attorneys argued that while there is no question that Headley’s criminal conduct was deplorable, his decision to cooperate, provided uniquely significant value to the US government’s efforts to combat terrorism.“We are seeking less than life time sentencing, because of the significant intelligence value information provided by Headley. Crime is deplorable, shocking and horrific.

“We have to recognise the significant value of the information. We believe that 30—35 years of imprisonment would be justified and balance and thus be downgraded from life sentence,” Collins said.Former US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who appeared in court, urged leniency saying that Headley’s decision to become an informant “saved lives.”

 Cabinet approves Lokpal bill amendments:

The cabinet Thursday accepted the separation of Lokayukta in the states from the Lokpal at the centre, while accepting 14 of 16 amendments recommended by a select panel of members of the Rajya Sabha on the proposed bill to institute an anti-graft ombudsman, Lokpal."We have accepted 14 out of 16 amendments proposed by the select committee... we did not approve two," Minister of State in the prime minister's office V. Narayanasamy told reporters after the cabinet meeting.The bill will now be put to vote in the Rajya Sabha, and will also return to the Lok Sabha with the new amendments, Narayanasamy said.

The Lok Sabha had approved the Lokpal bill in 2011, but it got stuck in the upper house. In May 2012 it was referred to the select panel.Given that two amendments recommended by the select panel have been turned down by the government, officials facing a preliminary probe will be given a hearing under the present draft of the bill, and the Lokpal will also have no power to transfer CBI officials investigating a case referred by it.The prime minister's office, Narayanasamy said, will also be under the Lokpal, with some riders related to national security and external affairs.

According to the minister, the state government will have to enact a law for setting up an institution of Lokayukta within a year of the centre passing the Lokpal bill.
The selection panel for the Lokpal will comprise the prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India, and an eminent jurist, the minister said.He said charitable institutions aided by the government will also come under the ambit of the anti-graft ombudsman.

On the selection of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, the minister said it will be done by the prime minister, the leader of opposition in the lower house and the chief justice.The minister also said that a person affiliated with any political party would not qualify to be a member of the proposed Lokpal.

The bill also proposes that director prosecution of the CBI be selected by the chief vigilance commissioner."I am happy to say the cabinet has given the seal of approval. The select committee recommendations have broadly been accepted," Law Minister Ashwani Kumar told reporters.

Earlier this week, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote to social activist Anna Hazare assuring him that the legislation would be passed in the coming budget session of parliament."It is for the parliament to decide on the bill," Narayanasamy said.

Congress workers booked for vandalism in Murshidabad:

Police Friday filed a case against Congress activists who vandalised the district magistrate's bungalow premises in West Bengal's Murshidabad district in the presence of Minister of State for Railways Adhir Chowdhury Thursday.

Angry at District Magistrate Rajeev Kumar for not personally meeting a deputation from Congress workers protesting the death of a party worker in police custody, the activists forcibly entered his official residence in Baharampur town, smashing flower pots, uprooting plants and stoning public vehicles.Chowdhury, who was leading the demonstration outside the bungalow, jumped on to a vehicle and was seen trying to pacify the workers.After the violence, the district magistrate accepted the memorandum in person.

District Superintendent of Police Humayun Kabir said the complaint has been filed against 1,200 Congress supporters. "Some of them have been named in the FIR under certain bailable and non-bailable sections."The sections include criminal trespass, rioting and attacking on-duty police personnel, he said.However, Kabir refused to answer specific queries about whether Chowdhury's name figured in the FIR."This is a secret matter. I cannot divulge this. There is a chance that they may flee if it becomes public that their names figure in the FIR," he said.But Chowdhury seemed belligerent while denying that his party workers had vandalised the DM's bungalow.

"I am a Congress worker first, and then a union minister. When my workers are being killed in custody, I cannot sit idle. There was no vandalism. But the situation could have turned really ugly. I risked my life to stop my workers who were really angry after the DM refused to accept the deputation in person.""Our state level leaders were also present. The DM was repeatedly requested to come and take the deputation. But he did not. I am stunned by his audacity. How can he behave like this with people's representatives?""In such situations things do not remain under the control of leaders. But the situation could have been avoided easily had the DM cared to show a little more courtesy to political workers and elected people's representatives," he said.Chowdhury said he was not bothered if his name was in the FIR or not. "During the previous Left Front government, lots of such baseless cases were filed against Congress workers. The Trinamool Congress regime is just carrying forward such a policy."

"If they frame us, we will start a movement in Murshidabad and across West Bengal," Chowdhury said.Meanwhile, Trinamool MP and former union minister Sultan Ahmed demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sack Chowdhury.Refering to the Feb 23 by-polls in the district's Rejinagar constituency, Ahmed urged the Election Commission to bar Chowdhury's entry in the district till the election process was over.

Pak teen activist Malala discharged from UK hospital:

Almost four months since she was shot in the head, Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai has been released from a UK hospital where she was being treated after being attacked by the Taliban.Yusufzai had made a good recovery from a five-hour operation she underwent on her skull and ear at Birmingham's QueenElizabethHospital.

Medical staff said she was well enough to be discharged as an in-patient following the surgery last weekend, Sky News reported.

The hospital said the 15-year-old will now continue her rehabilitation at her family's temporary home in Birmingham and will visit occasionally for outpatient appointments.It said her family had asked for the media to respect their privacy and dignity at this time.

Malala was shot in Pakistan's conservative SwatValley on October 9 and was air-lifted to the QueenElizabethHospital on October 15 for further specialist treatment. She received bullet wounds just above her left eye.Malala had earlier this month undergone two successful operations to attach a titanium plate and cochlear implant.

The procedures carried out on her included Titanium cranioplasty which is repairing of the missing area of skull with a titanium plate that has been moulded to accurately replicate the skull.The other procedure was the Cochlear implant which is fitting a small, complex electronic device that provides a sense of sound to someone who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

Kolkata college violence: Police remand for 12 accused:

The two main accused of Garden Reach violence were on Wednesday remanded in police custody till February 26.

The other 10 accused of yesterday's campus violence that claimed life of a police officer and wounded one critically were also remanded in police custody till February 19.Sk Suhan and Ibon, the two main accused, were arrested yesterday along with 10 others after sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury was shot dead during a clash between Congress and Trinamool Congress student unions at Hari Mohan Ghosh college during filing of nominations for a college election.

Police Commissioner RK Pachnanda handed over a cheque for Rs 2 lakh to the SI's widow Minati at her Thakurpukur residence during the day and assured of providing a job to her daughter Tanushree.

"We will also take care of her son's studies," Pachnanda said after meeting Minati who broke down.Minati said she expected Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in charge of the Home (police department), "to see how the family was facing a crisis with the death of the only earning member".

"Responsibility to maintain security has been given to those who have no security for themselves," she said.Chowdhury's daughter Tanushree demanded exemplary punishment to the killers of her father.

 Government begins process to cancel VVIP chopper deal:

As more high-profile names cropped up in connection with bribery allegations in the $750 million VVIP chopper deal, the Indian government Friday put the contract with Italian firm Finmevcanica on hold and began the process to cancel it.The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has been entrusted to probe the bribery allegations, is likely to send a team to Italy within a week to probe the alleged around 51 million euro crore kickbacks paid by Finmeccanica to clinch the deal.

In a three-para statement, the ministry of defence said it has "initiated action for cancellation of contract for procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters for the use of VVIPs".It also issued a formal show cause notice to AgustaWestland, the subsidiary of Finmeccanica, seeking cancellation of contract and "taking other actions as per the terms of the contract and the Integrity Pact". The company has been given seven days to reply.

The action comes a day after the government warned Finmeccanica of legal action, including blacklisting, and asked whether any slush money had been paid to fix the deal that has led to a political uproar.The defence procurement scam came to light when the Italian government arrested Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi Tuesday for allegedly paying bribes to clinch the chopper deal.The government launched a CBI probe into the bribery charges on Tuesday.

Clarifying its position, the government Thursday had noted that the mandatory technical requirements of the chopper were changed in the tender during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2003, with the then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra playing a key role.

It had also noted that the changes in the tender were incorporated during March 2005 to September 2006 when Pranab Mukherjee was defence minister and S.P. Tyagi was the Air Chief. Mukherjee is now president of India and Tyagi is facing allegations that three of his kin took kickbacks to swing the deal.The defence ministry has asked the external affairs ministry for more information from Rome on the AgustaWestland chopper deal, said a source.In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has said his government would guarantee the "correct governance" of state-controlled defence firm Finmeccanica."The government was able to intervene with some measures to guarantee the correct governance of the company and the whole group," Monti said.The Italian prime minister had earlier promised to do "whatever necessary to clean up" Finmeccanica.

Hyderabad blasts: Ammonium Nitrate used in bombs:

A day after two blasts rocked Hyderabad's busy Dilsukh Nagar area, reports indicate ammonium nitrate, a small quantity of explosives and iron nails were used in the bombs.

Initial reports on Friday copper wires used to tie several pieces of the bombs together, which were packed in aluminium containers.It is also speculated a delayed timer was used for detonating the bombs used in the blasts. The delayed timer provides ample time for the bomb-planter to escape after placing the bomb.

Police on Friday gathered vital clues in the devastating bomb attacks in Hyderabad and also announced rewards for anyone providing information about the suspects seen in Dilsukh Nagar where the evening rush hour bombings on Thursday also maimed dozens.Meanwhile, the death toll in the twin bomb blasts that rocked Hyderabad rose to 16 with two more of the injured succumbing to their injuries today while the Crime Investigation Department (CID) began the probe.The toll could mount further as the condition of some of the injured is critical.

Intelligence sources on Thursday night said the modus operandi 'bombs on bicycles and choice of locations' pointed to the Indian Mujahideen, an amorphous group suspected to have carried out the May 2008 serial blasts in Jaipur, where too bombs were tied to eight brand-new sports bicycles.

Security sources said they also suspected the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which had promised to retaliate after India hanged Afzal Guru for his involvement in an attack on Parliament in 2001.

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Friday India had intelligence agency warnings of a security threat several days before two bombs went off in the city.

Two first information reports were registered at Saroornagar police station under the limits of Cyberabad police commissionerate. The case was later handed over to the CID.

National Investigation Agency with the help of Central Forensic Science Laboratory and Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory gathered clues from the sites of both the explosions.

Police get vital clues
Police on Friday gathered vital clues in the devastating bomb attacks in Hyderabad and also announced rewards for anyone providing information about the suspects seen in Dilsukh Nagar where the evening rush hour bombings on Thursday also maimed dozens.Cyberabad Police Commissioner D. Tirumala Rao asked people for information about a young man seen in the area before the bombs went off.Claiming that police had obtained many clues, Rao said he was confident the case would be cracked. He said investigations were on at a brisk pace.Police are believed to have gathered revealing clues from CCTV footage."I don't think CCTVs have failed. Some images have been captured," Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after a visit to the scene of attack on Friday evening.Of the three CCTVs in the area, two are believed to have captured some images which may help the police in identifying the terrorists who planted bombs near two cinema theatres.

Pall of gloom

A pall of gloom descended on the otherwise busy Dilsukh Nagar Road while heart rending scenes were witnessed at hospitals.There was palpable tension in Dilsukh Nagar where VIPs made a beeline while thousands gathered out of curiosity.Besides Shinde and Azad, union ministers S. Jaipal Reddy, K. Chiranjeevi and Sarve Satyanarayana, BJP president Rajnath Singh, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi visited the blast site and hospitals.Hundreds of people, mostly BJP and ABVP activists, gathered at the blast sites and raised slogans against terrorists and Pakistan.

Police had a tough time in controlling the crowds. Though police did not impose any restrictions on traffic, only few vehicles were on the roads.Most shops and business establishments on the road was closed.

Opposition attack Shinde
Shinde faced anger over the attack from opposition politicians who questioned whether the government had done enough to prevent it after the warning. Police said two of three security cameras at the market were not working at the time.No group claimed responsibility and Shinde said it was too early to make accusations.

Shinde said the government had warned states of an unspecified threat though no particular target was identified. "A general alert was given in the past two to three days to the whole country. And that's all," he added.BJP - the main opposition party - termed the blasts a "massive failure" and slammed the UPA government on its claim that it was committed to fighting terrorism, while urging Shinde to follow it up with action."Show that you are committed to fight terrorism. Is the centre's role only to alert the states or help them stop acts of terror," Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha after Shinde's statement.Stating that the government and the opposition were not on the same page on handling terrorism, she said the two parties need to fight the menace jointly.The BJP also blamed Pakistan for the terror attacks in Hyderabad, and asked the government to scale down relations with the neighbouring country and stop confidence building measures for the time being.He also assured that the prosecution would do its duty in the case of Orsi."I am sure that the prosecution in this case will do its duty as in other similar cases," he told reporters.India has inducted only three of the 12 AgustaWestland-101 helicopters till now, with the remaining nine slated for delivery later this year.

India so far reported to have paid a part of the total amount to AgustaWestland, the Britain-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica.The government move can be seen in the light of the upcoming budget session of the parliament, beginning Feb 21, which could see the government put in the dock over the bribery allegations.Former Air Chief Tyagi and his three kin -- Julie, Docsa and Sanjeev - have denied allegations of receiving kickbacks of around Rs.72 lakh from middlemen.The Italian probe report suggests that the former IAF chief had met the middlemen more than six to seven times and allegedly briefed them about the developments in the contract.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has compared the defence scam to Bofors, slammed the government for "unnecessarily" dragging the National Democratic Alliance into the chopper deal."First, they deny the existence of a scam; then they try to evade an answer. They try not to have an inquiry, their mission is to cover up and deflect attention to some other issue," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here.

Boxer Vijender not involved in drug racket: Police:

Punjab Police Friday said boxer Vijender Singh was not involved in a drug smuggling racket.

However, police said that they found a car registered in Vijender's wife Archana's name near the alleged drug peddler's flat -- but no contraband was found in it.

Earlier late Thursday evening, Fatehgarh Sahib police had conducted raids at a flat in Zirakpur town in Mohali district and had recovered 26 kg heroin worth Rs.130 crore in the international market.The flat belongs to NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon and is in Swastik Vihar area in Zirakpur, 10 km from state capital Chandigarh.

During the interrogation, Kahlon said pugilists Vijender Singh and Ram Singh were his clients and they used to visit him. However, police have refuted these allegations against the boxers."We recovered Vijender's car from near the NRI's house but it does not indicate his involvement in the drugs racket. We will call Vijender for questioning, if required," said Hardyal Singh Mann, senior superintendent of Fathegarh Sahib police.

Asian Games gold medallist and Olympics bronze medallist Vijender has denied the allegations."It is rubbish. I do not know this drug peddler. I am in Mumbai for work. My friends had dropped me at the airport in my wife's car. I do not know how it reached the Zirakpur flat. Nothing has been recovered from the car," Vijender said.

Kahlon, a Canada-based NRI who works as a truck driver, and Kulwinder Singh alias Rocky, of Nawanshahar Badala village in Mohali district, were arrested from Zirakpur by Fatehgarh Sahib district police late Thursday. Both the accused were presented in a local court Friday and were sent to four days' police remand.

While Vijender is a deputy superintendent of police in Haryana, Ram Singh - a Punjab police officer - is training at NIS in Patiala, ahead of an international championship.Fatehgarh Sahib is 45 km from Chandigarh

Srinagar CRPF camp attack: Suspected Pakistan terrorist arrested, hunt on for another:

A Pakistani terrorist, suspected to be involved in the suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Srinagar, was on Thursday arrested from Chattabal area in the city. On a tip off about presence of two terrorists in Chattabal, the special operation group cordoned off the area and nabbed Abu Talib, a resident of Multan, sources said.
The spot where he was picked up from is a little over a km from Bemina area where the terrorists struck on Wednesday, leaving five CRPF personnel dead and seven others injured.

The Pakistani terrorist opened fire on the SOG personnel with a pistol but he was overpowered and arrested, the sources said. The terrorist told police that he is a resident of Multan in Pakistan and was operating under the alias of Abu Talib, they said.Sources said the breakthrough was achieved when the intelligence agencies traced a call made by the terrorist to his handlers in Pakistan soon after the attack on Wednesday. Two suspected Pakistani terrorists, disguised as cricketers had on Wednesday stormed a CRPF camp in Srinagar in a 'fidayeen' (suicide) attack, the first major strike in the city in three years.

Kerala - 'Happening' state this week:

Much national news was made in Kerala this week. The case of the diplomatic row over the trial of the two Italian marines accused of shooting dead two fishermen Feb 15, 2012 continues, even as the antics of a loose-tongued chief whip of the Kerala assembly, P.C. George, made headlines.Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been on edge this past year, after the killing of the fishermen off the Kerala coast by the marines.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist in the state lost no opportunity to fish in troubled waters over the Italian marines issue, and went so far as to link Congress president Sonia Gandhi to the case, given her country of origin.Till the end of last year, Chandy played safe. He won appreciation for the tough stance he took. When the marines were granted permission to return to Italy for Christmas, many felt Chandy had succumbed to pressure from Delhi. There was apprehension that they would not return, but they were back ahead of the deadline that time.In January, however, the apex court ruled that the marines case would be tried in a special court to be set up in Delhi; the Kerala High Court did not have jurisdiction in the matter. Tongues were set wagging again, and many held that the chief minister's efforts would come to nought. The fears came true -- after the change of government in Italy, the government of that country has now decided not to send the marines back. (The two were allowed to return February to cast their votes and spend time with their families).

"There will be no laxity on our part. We have already told the centre that the marines will have to return to face trial," Chandy said, as the matter became a hugely contentious and completely unprecedented diplomatic row between the two countries.The CPI-M has been using this instance to raise emotions.

"Who does not know that all the players in this case are colluding and the fears that we raised soon after the incident took place are now coming true," said CPI-M politburo member Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.As Chandy entered damage-control mode, flying to Delhi and interacting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, fresh trouble was unleashed back home by chief whip of the assembly George, a veteran six-time Kerala legislator, who alleged that Minister of Forests K.B. Ganesh Kumar was beaten up by his lover's husband.A Malayalam newspaper had earlier reported the incident, without disclosing the minister's name.
As the issue hogged headlines in the state, George went a step further and unleashed a diatribe on a TV channel against two top leaders, K.R. Gowri and late T.V. Thomas, married couple that later parted ways over political differences, and both former ministers.This led to widespread protests from both the ruling and opposition legislators.Friday morning, this issue flared up in the Kerala assembly. The entire opposition was up in arms, demanding action against George for his frequent lapses into tactlessness. The uproar in the assembly came just as Finance Minister K.M. Mani was about to present the state budget.

George, however, said it was all because of a mischievous TV channel that had aired what was meant to be a private chat. "If anyone feels hurt, I apologise," he said.
Speaker G. Karthikeyan intervened to assure the house that he would look into the rules and procedures of the house to deal with the issue.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been a legislator for four decades, and realises that some of the pressures he faces comes from running a coalition government. What compounds the problem is the thinness of the majority -- just three legislators separate the rival fronts in the 140 member assembly.
"Those who occupy public positions should be careful when they make statements," remarked Chandy.As a new session of the assembly begins Friday and extends till the second week of next month, Chandy braces for more punches from the opposition.

Sanjay Dutt's 20-year nightmare:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's conviction in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case and sentenced him to five years imprisonment. Dutt, who has already served 18 months of his term in prison, has four weeks to surrender.Dutt, who was convicted under the Arms Act for illegally possessing weapons, had been awarded six years imprisonment by the TADA (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) court.However, the apex court reduced the sentence from six years to five years. This effectively means that Dutt will be in jail for three years and six months as he has already undergone 18 months imprisonment.

March 12, 1993: Mumbai rocked by 12 bomb blasts between 1:33 pm to 3:40 pm which killed around 257 people and injured another 713. Property worth Rs. 27 crore was damaged in the blasts.

April 19, 1993: Police escorts Sanjay Dutt on his arrival from Mauritius, saying an AK-56 rifle found in his house was from the consignment of arms smuggled into India before the blasts. He is arrested.

April 26, 1993: Sanjay Dutt admits to the charges in his confession. But later retracts.

May 3, 1993: Sanjay Dutt released on bail.

November 1993: A 90,000-page long primary chargesheet was filed against the 189 accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case including Sanjay Dutt.

July 4, 1994: Bail cancelled and he is re-arrested.

October 16, 1995: After spending nearly 16 months in jail, Sanjay Dutt again gets bail.

March 2006: When framing murder charges against extradited Abu Salem and co-accused Riyaz Siddiqui in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, the prosecution said that Salem delivered 9 AK-56 rifles and some hand grenades to Dutt at his Bandra house in the second week of January 1993.

November 27, 2006: TADA court delivering verdict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case summons Sanjay Dutt.

November 28, 2006: Sanjay Dutt is found guilty under Arms Act but is acquitted in all cases related to TADA.

February 13, 2007: The special branch of Mumbai police arrested Abdul Qayyum Abdul Karim Shaikh, a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim and wanted by Mumbai Police Special Task Force for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts from Mumbai. Qayuum had been named by Sanjay Dutt in his confessional statement. Dutt had said that he met Qayuum in Dubai in September 1992 and bought a pistol from him. According to CBI, the pistol was sold to Sanjay at the instance of Dawood's brother Anees Ibrahim.

July 2007: Sanjay Dutt convicted for illegal possession of a 9 mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle but acquitted of more serious charges under the now defunct Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) law and sentenced to six years jail term.

August 2, 2007: Sanjay Dutt re-arrested. Taken to Yerawaada Jail in Pune.

August 20, 2007: Sanjay Dutt Dutt granted bail by Supreme Court.

August 23, 2007: Dutt is released from jail.

October 22, 2007: Dutt is back in jail but again applied for bail.

November 27, 2007: Dutt is granted bail by the Supreme Court.

January 2009: Dutt announced that he would contest the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on the Samajwadi Party ticket.

March 2009: Withdraws his candidacy after the Supreme Court refused to suspend his conviction, the Samajwadi Party instead named him the General Secretary of the party.

December 2010: Leaves the post of Samajwadi Party General Secretary due to many controversies.

August 2012: Dutt admitted meeting underworld don Dawood Ibrahim once at a dinner that was hosted by him in Dubai. He responded in the negative to the Supreme Court's query if he had any friendship with the don. The court was told that the said dinner related to the period prior to the 1993 serial bomb blasts and that was the only occasion that the actor met the don, suspected to be in Pakistan.

August 2012:  Dutt told the Supreme Court that his offence of possessing a rifle and ammunition was not linked to the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. Appearing for the actor, senior counsel Harish Salve told the apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan that he came to possess the weapon in September 1992 when his father Sunil Dutt and sisters were facing threats as the senior Dutt's help to Muslim victims annoyed some

Autopsy shows SFI leader had forehead injury and broken jaw, say reports:

According to reports, Gupta had an injury to the back of his head and had injury marks on other parts of his body was well and that all wounds were sustained before he died.Claiming that the police had no role in the death of the SFI leader, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien said on Wednesday that CCTV footage suggested that it was an accident. "Let me categorically state that the police in West Bengal had a mandate from 1977 till 2011 to filter all their actions through a political prism. Thankfully in the last twenty months, that mandate has been changed. So, they can work without any political pressure. Some of the CCTV footage suggest that this is an accident," O'Brien said."Any accidental death is regrettable and tragic. When a precious young person's life is snuffed out, the loss is even bigger for our society," he said.

"We cannot bring the boy back sadly but what we can do is to stand by his family in their moment of grief and in the future," O'Brien said.Hundreds of activists took to the streets in Kolkata Wednesday accompanying the funeral procession of the SFI leader who died in police custody after participating in a protest.The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has ordered a probe into his death.Gupta, 24, a post-graduate student of the Rabindra Bharati University and West Bengal state committee member of the SFI, died Tuesday evening at a state-run hospital amid allegations that a baton charge by police led to his fatal injury.Police, however, said that the activist died after he crashed into a lamp post while being taken to jail. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital Wednesday, said the incident was "unfortunate". She added that many activists of her party had been killed when they hit lamp posts while travelling by trains.

She said: "Any death is unfortunate. I shall not speak any more on this."She assured all help to the bereaved family.Gupta's body, wrapped in a red flag of the Communist Party of India-NMarxist, was carried in a flower-bedecked hearse to the Netaji Nagar College, where he was general secretary of the students' council. Grieving students and teachers offered floral tributes to the youth leader amid cries of "Lal Salaam".The body was then taken to Gupta's residence at New Garia on the city's southern outskirts.

"He was mercilessly beaten by police while the arrested students were being taken in a bus to the Presidency Correctional Home (jail). Policemen on the street rained batons on the activists, including Sudipto. He lost control, fell from the bus and collapsed after crashing against a lamp post," said an SFI activist, who was an eye-witness."Gupta was hit on his head so hard that one of his eyes popped out," state SFI joint secretary Shatarup Ghosh, also an eyewitness, said.

The incident occurred when hundreds of SFI activists were participating in a law violation programme to protest the state government's decision to stall students' union elections at all educational institutions for the next six months.Taking suo motu cognizance of Gupta's death, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Wednesday ordered the city police commissioner to probe the matter and submit a report within seven days.

"The commission has asked the city police commissioner (Surajit Purakayastha) to initiate a probe headed by an assistant commissioner of police and submit the report within seven days," the commission's joint secretary Sujay Haldar said.The commission has also formed its own investigating team and will examine witnesses and other evidence to probe the cause of Gupta's death. The report will be submitted to the commission in seven days.

Haryana IAS officer Khemka transferred again:

Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who had ordered a scrutiny of land deals of UPA chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, was Thursday transferred by the Haryana government to an inconsequential post. Khemka, now managing director of the Haryana Seeds Development Corp (HSDC), will now be secretary of Haryana Archives, which is responsible for preserving public and private records in the state.The latest transfer came after Khemka highlighted irregularities in HSDC, leaving the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government embarrassed.

Khemka has been transferred almost 45 times in his two-decade-long career as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
He hit national headlines in October last year when he cancelled a mutation of a multi-crore-rupee land deal between Vadra's company Sky Light Hospitality and realty giant DLF.The officer even ordered a probe into all land deals done by Vadra and his companies in Haryana's Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat and Palwal districts since 2005.After Khemka's action Oct 8, the Hooda government went into an overdrive to undo it. Within days, the district authorities of four districts gave a "clean chit" to the land deals done by Vadra and his companies.

The Hooda government set up a committee of bureaucrats to look into the action taken by Khemka. The committee held that Khemka's actions as director-general of land consolidation were not in accordance with laid down procedures.Khemka questioned the rationale of the committee in submitting its report without even seeking his views on the action taken in the land deals.An unfazed Khemka also claimed that action taken by him as director general of consolidation could only be reviewed by the high court and the state government did not have the jurisdiction to undo it.Khemka was removed from his post Oct 11 by the Hooda government, which sought to project it as a routine transfer.Vadra and his companies had made land purchases of nearly 170 acres in Gurgaon, Palwal, Mewat and Faridabad districts since 2005.

Margaret Thatcher (Iron Lady) dies of stroke aged 87:

Baroness Thatcher, Britain's greatest post-war prime minister, has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke, her family has announced

Rajiv Gandhi middleman for Swedish jets in 1970s: Wikileaks :

Was Rajiv Gandhi a middleman in the 1970s for a Swedish company that was looking to sell fighter jets to the Indian Air Force?

A sensational claim to that extent has been made in a new round of WikiLeaks expose of US diplomatic cables relating to “the Henry Kissinger era”, published in India in collaboration with The Hindu.

One of the stunning cables (read here), sent by the US embassy in New Delhi in October 1975 (when India was under Emergency), records in telegraphic language that: “Swedish Emboff has informed us that main Indian negotiator with Swedes on Viggen at New Delhi end has been Mrs Gandhi’s oler (sic) son, Rajiv Gandhi. Latter’s only association with aircraft industry (to our knowledge) has been as pilot for Indian Airlines and this is first time we have heard his name as entrepreneur.”

The allegation against Rajiv Gandhi as an arms dalal relates to the mid 1970s. Getty Images.
This is arguably the most sensational of the claims relating to India in the first tranche of the Kissinger Cables, which The Hindu has begun serialising from Monday.

There is no independent confirmation or denial of the claim that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son, who was then a pilot with Indian Airlines, did in fact negotiate on behalf of the Swedish company Saab-Scania,  which was looking to sell 50 Viggen fighter aircraft to India. The very cable that mentions Rajiv Gandhi as an “entrepreneur” also states explicitly that US officials have “no additional information to either refute or confirm the above information.”

In any case, Saab-Scania lost out on the deal, having been forced to withdraw from the “fighter sweepstakes” by the US; the deal was eventually secured the British SEPECAT Jaguar.

Nevertheless, the allegation that Rajiv Gandhi, the man who would later become Prime Minister  and become embroiled in another scandal relating to another Swedish arms manufacturer in the Bofors howtizer gun deal, may have served as a middlemen of sorts in a fighter jets deal has the potential to send political feathers flying in India.

Nor is this the only suggestion that Rajiv Gandhi was engaged in negotiating on behalf of Saab-Scania. The Hindu report (here) cites another cable from the US embassy in New Delhi from February 1976 (read here), which quotes Swedish embassy officials as waxing eloquent on Rajiv Gandhi’s merits in pushing the deal.

The cable notes: “The Swedes here have also made it quite clear they understand the importance of family influences in the final decision in the fighter sweepstakes. Our colleague describes Ranjiv Gandhi (sic.) in flattering terms, and contends his technical expertise is of a high level. This may or may not be. Offhand we would have thought a transport pilot not the best expert to rely upon in evaluating a fighter plan, but then we are speaking of a transport pilot who has another and perhaps more relevant qualification.”

The Kissinger Cables relating to India also have other sensational claims, including that at the height of the Emergency, Socialist labour leader George Fernandes, who was then organising a campaign of violent sabotage activities, sought funds from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the French government. (Read The Hindu report here and the US Embassay cable here.)But the bombshell relating to Rajiv Gandhi is arguably the most sensational.

Blasts at Boston Marathon Kill 3 and Injure 100:

Two powerful bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, killing three people, including an 8-year-old child, and injuring more than 100, as one of this city’s most cherished rites of spring was transformed from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams and carnage.
Almost three-quarters of the 23,000 runners who participated in the race had already crossed the finish line when a bomb that had apparently been placed in a garbage can exploded around 2:50 p.m. in a haze of smoke amid a crowd of spectators on Boylston Street, just off Copley Square in the heart of the city. Thirteen seconds later, another bomb exploded several hundred feet away.

Pandemonium erupted as panicked runners and spectators scattered, and rescue workers rushed in to care for the dozens of maimed and injured, some of whom lost legs in the blast, witnesses said. The F.B.I. took the lead role in the investigation on Monday night, and Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Boston office, described the inquiry at a news conference as “a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation.”

The reverberations were felt far outside the city, with officials in New York and Washington stepping up security at important locations. Near the White House, the Secret Service cordoned off Pennsylvania Avenue out of what one official described as “an abundance of caution.”

President Obama, speaking at the White House, vowed to bring those responsible for the blasts to justice. “We will get to the bottom of this,” the president said. “We will find who did this, and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”

Mr. Obama did not refer to the attacks as an act of terrorism, and he cautioned people from “jumping to conclusions” based on incomplete information. But a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity afterward, said, “Any event with multiple explosive devices — as this appears to be — is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror.”“However,” the official added, “we don’t yet know who carried out this attack, and a thorough investigation will have to determine whether it was planned and carried out by a terrorist group, foreign or domestic.”Some runners were approaching the end of the 26.2-mile race when the two blasts, in rapid succession, sent them running away from the finish line.“The first one went off, I thought it was a big celebratory thing, and I just kept going,” recalled Jarrett Sylvester, 26, a runner from East Boston, who said it had sounded like a cannon blast. “And then the second one went off, and I saw debris fly in the air. And I realized it was a bomb at that point. And I just took off and ran in the complete opposite direction.”There were conflicting reports about how many devices there were. One law enforcement official said there had been four: the two that exploded at the marathon and two others that were disabled by the police. The official said that the devices appeared to have been made with black powder and ball bearings, but that investigators were unsure how the two that exploded had been set off.It was unclear Monday evening who might be responsible for the blast. Although investigators said that they were speaking to a Saudi citizen who was injured in the blast, several law enforcement officials took pains to note that no one was in custody.

Some law enforcement officials noted that the blasts came at the start of a week that has sometimes been seen as significant for radical American antigovernment groups: it was the April 15 deadline for filing taxes, and Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, the start of a week that has seen violence in the past. April 19 is the anniversary of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.The explosive devices used in the attacks on Monday were similar in size to the device used in the 1996 attack at the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta but were not nearly as large as the one used in Oklahoma City. In the Atlanta attack, a pipe bomb was detonated near pedestrians, killing 2 and injuring more than 100 — similar numbers to Monday’s attack.The attack in Oklahoma City was far larger because the perpetrator used a truck packed with thousands of pounds of explosives. The device killed more than 150 people.The attack on Monday occurred in areas that had been largely cleared of vehicles for the marathon. Without vehicles to pack explosives into, the perpetrators would have been forced to rely on much smaller devices.Officials stressed that they had no suspects in the attack. The Saudi man, who was interviewed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, had been seen running from the scene of the first explosion, a person briefed on preliminary developments in the investigation said on Monday afternoon. A law enforcement official said later Monday that the man, was in the United States on a student visa and came under scrutiny because of his injuries, his proximity to the blasts and his nationality — but added that he was not known to federal authorities and that his role in the attack, if any, was unclear.The explosions brought life in Boston to a halt. Police officials effectively closed a large part of the Back Bay neighborhood, which surrounds the blast site; some transit stops were closed; planes were briefly grounded at Boston Logan International Airport and the Boston Symphony Orchestra canceled its Monday night concert. A Boston Celtics game scheduled for Tuesday was also canceled.

Boston was bracing for a heightened law enforcement presence on Tuesday, with its transit riders subject to random checks of their backpacks and bags, and many streets in the center of the city likely to be closed to traffic as the investigation continues. Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday night that “the city of Boston is open and will be open tomorrow, but it will not be business as usual.”Boston’s police commissioner, Ed Davis, urged people to stay off the streets. “We’re recommending to people that they stay home, that if they’re in hotels in the area that they return to their rooms, and that they don’t go any place and congregate in large crowds,” he said at an afternoon news conference.It had begun as a perfect day for the Boston Marathon, one of running’s most storied events, with blue skies and temperatures just shy of 50 degrees. The race typically draws half a million spectators. And long after the world-class runners had finished — the men’s race was won by Lelisa Desisa Benti of Ethiopia, who finished it in 2 hours, 10 minutes and 22 seconds — the sidewalks of Back Bay were still thick with spectators cheering on friends and relatives as they loped, exhausted, toward the finish line.Dr. Natalie Stavas, a pediatric resident at Boston Children’s Hospital, was running in the marathon with her father and was nearing the finish line when the explosions shook the street.“The police were trying to keep us back, but I told them that I was a physician and they let me through,” she recalled in an interview.First she performed CPR on one woman. “She was on the ground, she wasn’t breathing, her legs were pretty much gone,” she said, adding that she feared that the woman had not survived.

Then she tried to help a woman with an injury in her groin area, and a man who had lost his foot. Dr. Stavas said she had applied a tourniquet to the man’s leg with someone’s belt. “He was likely in shock,” she said. “He was saying, ‘I’m O.K., doctor, I’m O.K.’ ”“Then ambulances started coming in by the dozen,” she said.The blast was so powerful that it blew out shop windows and damaged a window on the third floor of the Central Library in Copley Square, which was closed to the public for Patriots’ Day.A number of people were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, said Dr. Alasdair Conn, the hospital’s chief of emergency services — and several had lost their legs.“This is like a bomb explosion we hear about in Baghdad or Israel or other tragic points in the world,” Dr. Conn said.Several children were among the 10 patients who were brought to Boston Children’s Hospital, including a 2-year-old boy with a head injury who was admitted to the medical/surgical intensive care unit.The police faced another problem as they tried to secure the blast scene: many spectators dropped their backpacks and bags as they scattered to safety, and investigators had to treat each abandoned bag as a potential bomb. There were bomb scares at area hotels. At one point in the afternoon, Boston police officials said that they feared that a fire at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum could have been related to the marathon bombs, but they later said it seemed to be unrelated.The Boston police said that they were getting numerous reports of suspicious packages. Asked if they had found all the explosive devices, Mr. Davis, the police commissioner, urged citizens to remain alert and said he was “not prepared to say we’re at ease at this time.”


Moments after investigators went before television cameras to broadcast photos of the two men in ball caps wanted for the Boston Marathon bombing, queries from viewers started cascading in - 300,000 hits a minute that overwhelmed the FBI's website.

It marked a key turning point in a search that, for all the intensity of its first 72 hours, had failed to locate the suspects. Experts say it instantly turned up already intense pressure on the two men to flee or almost certainly be recognized - increasing the chances they'd make mistakes that would lead to them being exposed.

Late Friday, the manhunt at last reached an end in the Boston suburb of Watertown, when police cornered 19-year-old suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hunkered down inside a blood-spattered boat parked in the backyard of a three-bedroom house.

Bomb blast near BJP office in Bangalore, Centre orders probe:

t least 16 people have been injured in a bomb blast near BJP office here in Malleshwaram on Wednesday morning. The injured include 8 cops, according to TV reports.

Investigators probing the blast say that a bomb was fitted on a motorcycle parked near the BJP office.Police sources said the blast occurred in a black Ind Suzuki motorcycle parked next to a Maruti Omni on the pavement diagonally opposite to the BJP office.As the bomb went off in the motorcycle, the Omni and another Santro car parked next to it went up in flames. A Honda Dio and Bajaj Chetak scooters parked to the left of Santro car too caught fire.Two KSRP vans, with policemen, parked near the two scooters also took the brunt of the attack. The front window panes of one of the vehicles was shattered. Initially, the police had suspected that the explosion was due to the blast of a LPG cylinder placed in the boot of a car.However, the city police chief ruled this out after initial inspection.

"It's not a LPG cylinder blast as suspected," Bangalore police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar told reporters after visiting the site.Raghavendra Aurandkar said that police suspect the blast was caused by explosives strapped to a bike, parked near BJP office.However, this can be confirmed only after investigations, he added.The motorcycle used to place explosives was completely destroyed in the explosion.The police have launched a manhunt to trace its owner.The extent of damage suggests that the bomb was strapped to the bike, sources added.Cops are questioning mechanics to find if they fitted anything suspicious on to any bike in the recent past.The police are also focusing on around half-a-dozen phone numbers on which calls were made to and from in the area between 10 and 11 am during which the blast took place.Meanwhile, the Centre has ordered an inquiry into the blast."I have ordered an inquiry. The secretary home department will look into it," Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters in Kolkata.

Bengal's Saradha chit fund scam: Kingpin Sudipta Sen sent to 14-day police custody :

Sudipta Sen, the kingpin in the the chit fund scam, was produced in Bidhannagar court in Salt Lake in the eastern fringes on the city, and remanded in 14-days police custody on Thursday.The Saradha Group promoter and the main accused in the Bengal chit fund scam, was brought to the city late on Wednesday night from Delhi. He is on a four-day transit remand from a Jammu and Kashmir court since he and his two associates were arrested from Sonmarg in J&K the previous Tuesday.Sen and his associates, Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Chauhan, had been on the run for nearly a week even as the collapse of his finance company unfolded. While he was underground, he sent an 18-page letter to the CBI, listing 22 politicians, including two influential MPs of the ruling Trinamool Congress. The name of the wife of a senior UPA minister also figures in the list.

At the Kolkata court, Sen was met by hordes of protesters, some of them crying and shouting angry slogans. The Congress activists broke past the police lines security and tried to reach the millionaire whose chit fund bust has left thousands of small investors bankrupt. Cops had to resort to 'lathicharge' to disperse the crowds at Wellington Square, where the Congress-led victims assembled before walking to Writers' Buildings, the state headquarters.

Sen has been arrested under Section 420, 421, 467 and 406 among others of the CrPC. Officials said the police are likely to seek a fortnight's custody to track Sen's money trail. The Bishannagar police, which is investigating the case, have questioned several middlemen including Sen's cook Hemanta Pradhan, who was made a director in one of his companies.

In his letter to the CBI, Sen has accused two Trinamool MPs, Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose of exploiting him and squeezing funds which made his companies bleed. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee rejected the accusation at a press conference on Wednesday while announcing a corpus of Rs 500 crore for the victims of the fraud. On Monday, in another media conference, she had refused to bail out those who were conned by Sen, saying, "What is gone is gone." Part of the Rs 500-crore relief fund will be funded by new taxes on cigarettes.

Kunal Ghosh is a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamool Congress

* Ghosh, a journalist, was earlier group CEO of Saradha’s media unit

* Ghosh drew a salary of Rs 16 lakh per month from Saradha

* Saradha media group owned about 10 publications and TV channels

* He was earlier the editor of Tutu Bose-owned ‘Sambad Pratidin’

* He left the Saradha group in 2011.

Srinjoy Bose is also a Rajya Sabha MP of the Trinamool Congress

* He has allegedly been named by chit fund CMD Sudipta Sen as one of the two TMC MPs who blackmailed him

* Bose is the son of shipping magnate Tutu Bose

* Bose owns a stake in one of the country’s top football club ‘Mohun Bagan’

* Bose was also the owner of ‘Sambad Pratidin’, the daily which had Kunal Ghosh as its editor.

 Sebi asks Bengal to probe five more chit fund companies:

As the investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam threatens to reach the doorstep of the Trinamool Congress, the markets watchdog is learnt to have warned of a larger, more frightening scenario: similar Ponzi schemes run by at least five other companies in West Bengal, involving over Rs 4,000 crore of small investors’ money.In its latest communication sent to the state government, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is learnt to have recommended an immediate probe and steps against these five firms.

“The companies are in danger, so are the investors,” SEBI is learnt to have said.“It is a pressure cooker bomb situation in Bengal now with scores of dubious financial institutions mushrooming and duping millions of investors with the lure of quick financial returns. One (Saradha) has gone bust, several other disasters are waiting to happen,” a top SEBI official told The Indian Express.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has acknowledged the receipt of one letter from SEBI regarding the Saradha Group, but has so far been silent over the other companies which, it is feared, may have raised even bigger sums from depositors.

On SEBI’s list of suspect companies is the Rose Valley Group, which has interests in realty, hotels and resorts, travel, media and insurance. A team of SEBI officials were learnt to have visited the company’s offices to inspect their books last week, but were allegedly denied entry.The officials later complained officially that “government servants were obstructed to perform their duty”, sources at the Bidhannagar police commissionerate said.

Earlier, a team from the audit firm KPMG, who were commissioned by SEBI to conduct a “forensic audit” of Rose Valley’s accounts, too had allegedly been denied entry into the company’s premises. Panicky investors have been thronging the company’s offices across Bengal seeking refunds, leading to some violence over the past two days.

SEBI officials said they had held at least 12 meetings with officials from RBI and the Bengal finance department over the last two years, at which the chit funds were discussed. According to the minutes of these meetings, SEBI and RBI officials had repeatedly asked the state government to act against these companies.
Saradha Group CMD Sudipta Sen and his two associates Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Singh Chauhan were on Wednesday taken to Kolkata after a court in Ganderbal, Jammu & Kashmir, allowed their four-day transit remand. The trio, on the run since April 10, had been picked up from a hotel in Sonamarg on Monday night.

In Bengal, police continued to search for properties belonging to the group, and interrogate company officials. Somnath Dutta, vice-president of Saradha Printing and Publishing Pvt Ltd, the company’s media wing which had several publications and TV stations, was questioned for several hours. Police sources said at least six sister concerns of the group were also under the scanner.

SEBI officials said that besides Saradha and Rose Valley, notices had been sent to the MPS Group, Sun Plant Group and Sumangal Industries, asking them to stop collecting chit fund deposits.

The regulator has started criminal prosecution proceedings against 58 companies which have allegedly raised money in an “unauthorized manner”.
Rose Valley published advertisements in some newspapers on Wednesday, promising to repay all depositors, and asking them to have “trust” in the company’s “asset based” operations. Asked for a comment earlier, the firm had said: “Rose Valley Real Estates & Constructions Ltd... (has not) collected any money from the public... since 03/01/2011, even though we are not coming under the SEBI Act. None of our group companies is a chit fund, nor it deals in finance business.”
P N Manna, chairman of MPS Group, said, “We have orders from several courts to continue with our business. We have provisional registration under SEBI.”
Meanwhile, it emerged on Wednesday that Saradha’s Sen has sent a letter to SEBI, denying “that it (the company) is running any ‘collective investment scheme’”. The letter says, “The noticee (Sen) has further submitted that the company data are stored in servers in Boston in USA and is under control of the staff members and brokers.”The Indian Express had on Wednesday reported details of Sen’s 18-page letter to the CBI, in which he alleged “blackmail” by influential people, including Trinamool Mps.

China's 'new front' on Indo-Nepal border:

The Chinese clamour over Arunachal Pradesh has raised many eyebrows in India. Even as the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Thailand on Saturday was being looked at as an effort to cool down the tension between the neighbouring countries, the Dragon nation has opened another anti-India front. This time in Nepal.

Silently but speedily China is spreading its wings in the erstwhile Hindu kingdom, mainly to unleash anti-India propaganda. Besides acquiring some major construction projects in Nepal, the Chinese are also making their presence felt by opening language centres in Nepali cities on the Indo-Nepal border. These centres are teaching Chinese language. But, what raises suspicions on Chinese intentions is the fact that these centres are open only for Nepali citizens.

The surge in Chinese activities in the neighbour country is a matter of concern for India which is already fighting terrorism being pushed into the country from Pakistan. It's a known fact that China often uses Nepal as a buffer state against India. After the Indo-China war of 1962, the Dragon country has made constant efforts to increase its influence in Nepal. Though it did not succeed much till Nepal was under the rule of monarchy, the fall of monarchy and growing Maoist grip over Nepal has given a fillip to Chinese plans.

A clear indicator of this is the construction of Sikta barrage in Agaiya village of Banke district (Nepal). Its construction was delayed for almost three decades owing to Indian protest. But, once Maoists held sway over the Nepali government, the construction was given a go-ahead in 2006. Moreover, the contract for the project was given to Chinese firm — Sinehydro. In fact, a team of 40 Chinese engineers is engaged in the construction of the Sikta barrage in Agaiya district of Nepal. The district touches the Indian district of Shravasti. The distance from Indian border to the barrage is barely 14 kilometres. The possibility of Chinese infiltration in important zones of war on Indian border areas due to the presence of Chinese engineers cannot be ruled out.

Also, after the completion of the barrage the flow of river Rapti towards India will be diverted towards Nepal which will create acute water shortage in Indian area. Efforts have also been started to divert the flow of rivers flowing towards Indian area from Parchu lake located in Chinese area adjoining the state which may lead to floods in the borders districts of India during monsoon.Not only this, if the and Sikta barrage ever breaks down due to technical reasons it will severely impact the security arrangements made on the India border. China, thus, seems to be working on these two projects under well-planned policy to tease India.Similarly, China has established the office of 'Maitri Sangh' in Nepal adjoining Indian border territory.Meanwhile, a 10-member team comprising five Chinese and five Tibetan national recently visited Nepalganj headquarters of Banke district (Nepal). The team toured the Indo-Nepal border and secretly clicked photographs of the Rupaidiha main gate located on Indo-Nepal border.The Indian intelligence agencies, however, learnt about this when the team had already left for Kathmandu.Assistant army Nayak Devendra of Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB), when contacted, told TOI that he will report the incident to his senior officers.

Police seize property documents of Saradha Group:

Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen, along with two others Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Singh Chauhan are currently in 14 days' police custody.

The police seized documents relating to the property of the Saradha Group today."We have seized property documents relating to the investigation into the Saradha Group," Arnab Ghosh, Deputy Commissioner (DD), Bidhanagar City police told PTI here.Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen, along with two others Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Singh Chauhan are currently in 14 days' police custody.Sen has been accused of duping thousands of investors in Bengal.The police yesterday took Debjani Mukherjee to the main office of the group and seized important documents.

Rs.100 crore found in Saradha Group chief’s 254 accounts:

 West Bengal Police have found Rs.100 crore in 254 bank accounts of Sudipta Sen, the arrested promoter of the chit fund aided Saradha Group, and were also looking into why the agencies which monitor such companies “did not” do their job.

“We have unearthed 254 bank accounts. We have so far seized approximately Rs.100 crore,” Bidhannagar Deputy Commissioner of Police Arnab Ghosh told media persons here Friday.The commissionerate, now probing the Saradha case, has taken Sen into custody to subject him to intense grilling.Ghosh said Sen never kept money in those accounts for long durations. “Often, the money disappeared from the accounts within 48 hours.”In an oblique reference to the central agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Board of India, which monitor collective investment schemes like the ones operated by the Saradha Group, Ghosh said it was clear that such bodies did not do their job. However, he did not name any of the agencies.

“It is clear they didn’t do their job. I won’t take any names. We are also looking into why they didn’t do their work. But that is only a part of the investigation, not the entirety,” Ghosh said.The officer said papers for two under-construction commercial plots in the name of Sen have been found in Chandannagore in Hooghy district.Meanwhile, Manoj Kumar Nagel, arrested director of one of the group companies, was presented in court which further remanded him in police custody till May 8 on a complaint lodged by an investor at the Salt Lake Electronics Complex police station.“His bail petition has been rejected and he has been remanded in police custody till May 8,” Ghosh said.Nagel was arrested on April 21.The group’s companies went bust mid-April and downed shutters across West Bengal after they were unable to repay the lakhs of depositors – mainly poor people from villages and small towns – who had parked their hard-earned money with them lured by the promise of huge returns.

Another Saradha depositor commits suicide

In the sixth case of suicide in connection with the collapsed chit fund company Saradha, a depositor, who had invested his money in the scam-ridden company today committed suicide in South 24 Parganas district. Ranjit Pramanik (18) who had invested his money in the scam-ridden company committed suicide by consuming poison at Thakurchawk in Joynagar area of South 24 Parganas district, police sources said.

Earlier 50-year-old Urmila Pramanik, a resident of Baruipur in South 24 Parganas district, who had invested Rs 30,000 in the Saradah group had set herself on fire on April 20 and succumbed to her injuries on April 21 in Chittaranjan Hospital after the Saradha group went bust. Swapan Kumar Biswas (36), a money collection agent of the Saradha group who had deposited Rs four lakh from his personal savings in the scam-ridden company was found hanging from the ceiling of his house at Balrampur in Purulia district on April 27. Three agents of the Saradha group in South 24 Parganas district had also committed suicide at Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour and Falta after the scam-ridden company went bust.

West Bengal government opposes CBI probe into chit fund scam
The West Bengal government today opposed a prayer for CBI investigation into the multi-crore chit fund scam, claiming in an affidavit to the Calcutta High Court that at this stage credibility of the investigation by the state police cannot be doubted.

"At this stage any direction for handing over investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would be premature," the affidavit, submitted before a division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi, claimed. "The police authorities have acted with promptitude commensurate to the urgency of the situation. There has been no laxity on the part of the state respondents in the matter of investigation," it said.

"The main accused persons have been arrested. At this stage credibility of the investigation cannot be doubted," the state asserted in its affidavit. Sudipto Sen, the chairman of Saradha Group, was arrested along with two associates from a hotel at Sonamarg in Kashmir and were at present in the custody of the Bidhannagar Police, which is investigating the matter. Opposing the petition, the state claimed that it was politically motivated and therefore not maintainable. The police authority is interrogating the arrested persons and taking necessary action to unearth the entire scheme and modus operandi, it was claimed.

Pointing out that apart from Saradha Group, there were more players in the field and a comprehensive strategy was to be taken to cover all such cases, it said that the government has constituted a four-member commission of inquiry headed by Justice (retd) Shyamal Kumar Sen. A special investigation team, headed by the Director general of West Bengal Police, has also been formed, it was stated in the report. "The state government has so far undertaken no covert or overt action to shield anybody," it said denying allegations by the petitioner that efforts are on to shield influential people allegedly involved in the matter.

Sarabjit Singh cremated with state honours, thousands pay final respect:

The mortal remains of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who died after being brutally assaulted in a Pakistani jail, were on Friday consigned to flames in his village with full state honours amid emotional scenes.A contingent of Punjab Police reversed their arms and then fired shots in the air as a mark of respect to 49-year-old Sarabjit, who died yesterday in a Lahore hospital.

The pyre was lit by Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur in the presence of his wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Swapandeep and Poonam and son-in-law Sanjay. Dalbir Kaur was assisted by local SAD MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha.A large crowd comprising villagers and VIPs, including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, bid a heartfelt adieu to Sarabjit, whose body was brought here late last night 23 years after he inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan.The final journey of Sarabjit commenced at around 1.15pm with his coffin, wrapped in the tricolour, being taken to a flower-bedecked hearse van stationed adjacent to a government school ground where the body had been placed for the people to pay their last respect.Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur were among others present. Badal had announced a state funeral and three-day state mourning besides financial aid to the family and government jobs for his daughters.A Granthi recited prayers at the cremation ground before the pyre was lit. People climbed rooftops of nearby houses to have a last glimpse of Sarabjit.

Others present included Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, vice chairman of National SC Commission Raj Kumar Verka, Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma and leaders representing various parties, including SAD, BJP and Congress.Villagers consoled sobbing members of Sarabjit's family as the body was taken for the last rites. His distraught daughters felt unwell during the funeral and had to be helped by the locals.Slogans like 'Pakistan Murdabad' and 'Sarabjit Amar Rahe' (Long live Sarabjit) rent the air as his body was placed in the school ground to enable people to pay their respects. The mortal remains were later taken in a procession to the nearby village cremation ground.

Tight security arrangements were made at the cremation site in view of the presence of a large number of VIPs and additional police contingents were brought from Tarn Taran and other adjoining districts, including Amritsar.The funeral procession took some 45 minutes to reach the cremation ground, about 400 metres from the school ground, after taking a round of the village.The village with a population of around 11,000 and located about 36km from Amritsar, was in a state of mourning since Thursday with residents gathering near the house of the family after the news of the Indian prisoner's death spread.Shops and commercial establishments in this area remained shut today. The village witnessed some angry protests with locals raising anti-Pakistan slogans and burning effigies.Meanwhile, a second autopsy was conducted on Thursday night by a team of six doctors at the government-run Amritsar Medical College to ascertain the cause of Sarabjit's death. The first postmortem was carried out at the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has demanded an independent probe by an international agency into the circumstances leading to Sarabjit's death.According to his family, Sarabjit had inadvertently crossed the zero-line near here in an inebriated state while working in his fields which run along the border.Sarabjit was arrested in 1990 by the name of Manjit Singh by Pakistan army in 1990. He was accused of being an Indian spy and was charged with plotting series of bomb blasts in 1989 at Lahore and Multan.

He was tried by courts and was awarded death penalty. Sarabjit's trial in Pakistan was based on a statement which Pakistani authorities had claimed was given by him during the course of investigation.However, Sarabjit had said during his trial in court that he was a farmer on the Indian side of the border and had strayed into Pakistan while he was drunk, a stand which was also taken by his family members.His 54-year-old sister Dalbir Kaur had unsuccessfully led a campaign to secure Sarabjit's freedom. She was joined by Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur (around 45-year-old) and daughters Swapandeep Kaur and Poonam, both in their mid twenties.The two daughters were minors when their father crossed over to Pakistan and they had their first glimpse of their father in 2008 when they went to Pakistan with their mother and aunt.

Dalbir Kaur had gone to Pakistan a couple of times as part of her attempts since 1991 to get her brother freed.Sarabjit, the second Indian prisoner to die in Pakistan's notorious Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore this year, was brutally attacked on Friday last by six fellow inmates when he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for a break.Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons.His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. The previous Pakistan Peoples Party-led government had put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008.

Railway bribery scam: PK Bansal resigns:

Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal resigned on Friday after a bribery scam involving his family members hit the ministry.Bansal met Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the latter's official 7, Race Course Road (RCR) residence.Bansal's resignation comes after Sonia Gandhi's meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Congress President Sonia Gandhi had asked the PM to take a final decision on the ministers. According to news channel CNN-IBN, Sonia Gandhi felt that allegations against the minister's kin may damage party's image and that the damage must be controlled.Congress Party earlier in the day made it clear that 'it is not going to spare anybody mired in corruption'."The Congress is examining the issue very seriously," Congress spokesperson Bhaktcharan Das told reporters here, when asked about the bribery allegations against Bansal.Earlier in a possible sign of things to come, Bansal had skipped a cabinet meeting on Thursday and also did not attend office on Friday.

CBI investigation next?
Bansal is likely to be quizzed soon by the CBI in connection with the alleged Rs 10 crore bribery scandal involving his nephew Vijay Singla and Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, both of whom reportedly met at his residence. According to a CNN IBN report, although there are no direct evidences of Bansal's direct involvement in the scandal, he may come under scrutiny of the CBI if enough leads are found to warrant his questioning.

The CBI on Thursday had questioned Bansal's private secretary in connection with the alleged Rs. 10 crore bribery scandal that involves minister's nephew V Singla.A Delhi Court had earlier sent five accused, including Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla, to judicial custody till 20 May in connection with the Rs 10 crore railway bribery case.The Special CBI Judge Swarna Kanta Sharma sent Bansal's nephew Vijay Singla, suspended Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar, and three other accused-Singla's close aide Ajay Garg, businessman Sandeep Goyal and Managing Director of GG Tronics India Pvt Ltd, Narain Rao Manjunath-to judicial custody after they were presented in court.The CBI, which moved an application seeking to send them in judicial custody, said the investigation in this case is in progress and it is still at an initial stage.The investigating agency told the court that crucial witnesses are yet to be examined and some documents are to be collected from various departments.The court while accepting the CBI's plea sent all the five accused to judicial custody.Bansal had earlier told the Congress leadership, including the Prime Minister, that he has no business links with his nephew.64-year-old Bansal, who was made Railway Minister in October last year, also sought an expeditious CBI inquiry into the issue."I have always observed highest standard of probity in public life and look forward to an expeditious investigation by CBI in the matter," he said.

Congress wins Karnataka, BJP decimated; JD(S) gains:

The Congress on Wednesday prepared to take power in Karnataka with an absolute majority, leaving the ruling BJP far behind with less than 40 seats in the 224-member assembly.As votes were counted, the Bharatiya Janata Party appeared set for a humiliating rout in the state where it took power five years ago — relegated to the third spot.In contrast, the Congress headed for triumph. Congress workers celebrated wildly in Bangalore, bursting firecrackers.Congress strongman in Karnataka Siddharamiah was sanguine in victory. "It was only expected," said the man who could be the next chief minister.Added BJP leader and former chief minister Sadanand Gowda soberly: "We have not been able to rise to the occasion. We could not reach out to the voter with whatever development work we did in Karnataka."According to the latest trends available, the Congress could win 118 seats, comfortably over the halfway mark of 113.

The BJP, which has seen three chief ministers in five years and found itself split right down the middle with BS Yeddyurappa forming his own party, was way behind with 36 seats.Even the Janata Dal-S (JD-S) was ahead with 41 seats. And Yeddyurappa's Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), who left the BJP amid allegations of corruption, made its political debut with an estimated 14 seats.It was a reversal of fortunes of sorts for the two main parties — the Congress, readying for power in Bangalore, is on the backfoot in New Delhi as the BJP demands the resignations of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as union ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar.For the Congress, battling an opposition offensive over graft charges in New Delhi, the victory was just what it needed to get a morale boost ahead of the general elections in 2014.Said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi: "We are winning because people have seen through and rejected the BJP."For the BJP, the election result was a sharp fall from five years ago when it won 110 seats and formed its first government in the south with the help of five independents.The rout saw deputy chief minister KS Eshwarappa, trailing in his home constituency in Shimoga along with law minister S Suresh Kumar in Rajajinagar in Bangalore and Muruegesh Nirani in Bilagi in north Karnataka.The party lost badly both in rural and urban areas. A sorry scenario because it had hoped to make Karnataka the base to make a major breakthrough into south India."We have lost the election. And it is time for introspection," BJP leadeer Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who had hoped perhaps to be the kingmaker, said he was happy to be the main opposition.

"We will be happy to be the main opposition in Karnataka. We will play our role well. The Congress is not going to come to us seeking our help, we know that," the former chief minister said.The assembly has 224 elected and one nominated members. The election took place on May 5 for 223 seats as election was cancelled in one constituency after the BJP candidate died.

New Hope from Pakistan’s Vote:

The victor in the recent Pakistani elections, Nawaz Sharif, has indicated he places high priority on improving relations between Pakistan and India.

Sharif made some significant strides in promoting detente between the two South Asia powers during a previous stint as prime minister, and he wants to recoup ground that was later lost after the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 by a Pakistani-based group. Wasting no time, Sharif has invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan to attend Sharif’s swearing-in.Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the apparent winner of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections on May 11, 2013. He is expected to serve as the nation’s next prime minister.This is all to the good, and has received recognition as such in India (although with caution in the case of the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party). Americans, however, need to be prepared for how a successful Sharif may bring about some changes in Pakistani-U.S. relations that may not seem so good in Washington.This is suggested by an editorial earlier this week in a major Indian daily, the Hindustan Times. The editorial said that part of what Indians ought to hope for from a new administration in Islamabad is “a government that will understand that cutting dependence on the United States and China is only possible if Pakistan has a modus vivendi with India.”

Note the implication that understandably can raise American eyebrows: a looser Pakistani relationship with the United States may accompany a less hostile Pakistani relationship with India.Sharif is indeed likely to do a good number of things that will not sit well in Washington. Some of these things he would be doing anyway, but some of them will be related to his attempted rapprochement with India.The political realities he faces include, besides the Islamist militants who have become a bigger part of Pakistani affairs in recent years, a Pakistani military that ended his last prime ministry with a coup and whose main reason for existence is to defend the country against arch-adversary India.

The more political risks Sharif takes in improving relations with that adversary, the more he will have to bolster his nationalist credentials elsewhere, including on matters involving relations with the United States.There will be a tendency in Washington to judge Sharif’s performance piecemeal, involving whatever is the latest concern about security in northwest Pakistan or something else. It would be better to take a more strategic view with the big lines of conflict in South Asia in mind.

Indian-Pakistani rapprochement is still worthwhile and very much in U.S. interests, even if it is accompanied by greater nationalist testiness in U.S.-Pakistani relations. It is worthwhile partly because stability in the relationship between the region’s two nuclear-armed powers is important in its own right. It also is worthwhile because improvement in that relationship will make it easier for Washington to deal with some other regional issues important to it.The most prominent of those issues involves Afghanistan. The background to just about every Pakistani policy and action about Afghanistan that is unhelpful, including ones involving the continued Pakistani relations with the Afghan Taliban, is Pakistani concern about India.To Pakistan, Afghanistan is its strategic depth in the standoff with India, and it gets apoplectic over any inroads that India itself makes in Afghanistan. The more that the Indian-Pakistani relationship improves, the less intense will be the apoplexy and the less troublesome a player Pakistani is likely to be on issues involving Afghanistan.Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site.

IPL spot-fixing: Sreesanth, 13 others sent to 5-day police custody:

Indian pacer S Sreesanth and 13 others, including two cricketers of the Rajasthan Royals franchise, were sent to police custody for five days by a Delhi court for being quizzed in connection with the IPL spot-fixing case.They were produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma at his residence adjacent to the Saket court complex yesterday.Sreesanth and his IPL teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, who were arrested in Mumbai, were brought to the court complex with their faces muffled, along with 11 bookies and middlemen of Mumbai and Delhi.

Media was barred from entering the magistrate's residence, which was under a thick security blanket.Briefing media here on Thursday, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said that the Special Cell had hundreds of hours of recordings of phone conversations between the players and bookies, 14 of whom have also been arrested.Kumar also gave a detailed account of the conversations that took place between bookies and the arrested Rajasthan Royals players-Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.Kumar further revealed explosive details of the modus operandi followed by bookies and the cricketers, giving audio-visual proof of three IPL matches which were manipulated."In certain overs they (the players) were supposed to give away a certain amount of runs. The bookies gave players instructions that they have to indicate that they would give away these runs," Kumar said.

IPL 6 spot-fixing: Sreesanth confesses to the crime:

The three tainted cricketers who were arrested on Thursday following allegations of spot-fixing were interrogated today by Delhi Police.According to latest reports in Indian media, the prominent player among the three - S Sreesanth - has just confessed to Delhi Police. Sources say Sreesanth has said that he has done a mistake, reports ToI.One of them – Ankeet Chavan – was the first to break down and accepted his role in spot-fixing.Earlier in the day, Sreesanth had alleged that he was framed because of his association with an alleged bookie named Jiju Janardhan. His lawyers had also insisted he was innocent.All 14 men arrested in the scam spent Thursday night in police custody.Meanwhile, police is investigating whether spot-fixing took place in matches involving Rajasthan Royals other than the three matches in which three of its players were allegedly involved.

IPL spot-fixing: CSK boss Gurunath Meiyappan arrested in Mumbai:

The IPL spot-fixing scandal netted its biggest catch Friday as the Mumbai Police arrested Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of the Indian cricket board president N Srinivasan and head of the most successful team in the six-year-old league, for his suspected role in the betting-fixing racket. Express Editorial: Disqualify CSK, sack SrinivasanMeiyappan, the chief of the Chennai Super Kings team owned by Srinivasan's India Cements, was questioned for nearly three hours by Mumbai Police Crime Branch officers before being arrested late on Friday night. Shekhar Gupta's National Interest column: The giant fix"We have interrogated Meiyappan and based on information that we have and this interrogation, we find that he was involved in the offence. He will now be placed under arrest and we will produce him within 24 hours before the magistrate as per law," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Himanshu Roy.

Roy declined to share details of Meiyappan's questioning. He is the tenth person to be arrested by the Mumbai Police in the case.Meiyappan's name allegedly emerged from the phone call records of Vindoo Randhawa, the actor-son of the late wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, who is believed to have worked as a bookie under the nickname 'Jack'.Police sources said his name also surfaced during the interrogation of Vindoo, hawala operator Alpesh Patel and bookie Prem Taneja. Vindoo has alleged that Meiyappan was placing bets through him, police said.The Crime Branch had Thursday summoned Meiyappan to Mumbai for questioning and had given him time until 5 pm on Friday to present himself. Meiyappan's request for time until Monday was rejected Friday, forcing him to rush to Mumbai.

The face of CSK during the IPL auctions, Meiyappan spent the first half of Friday evading the media by changing SUVs in Kodaikanal. He reached the Madurai airport at 5.25 pm, and once inside, shifted to another SUV to evade the media.

Shinde holds high-level meet, says Centre, states will launch joint action against Naxals:

Days after the brutal attack by Maoists on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Friday said that the Centre and states would undertake joint operations to eliminate the Naxal threat.Shinde, who was presiding over a high-level meeting to review the security situation in Chhattisgarh in the wake of the May 25 Naxal attack, said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating whether their was a security lapse that led to the tragic Bastar incident.Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt and Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh participated in the meeting that was attended by other top officials and chiefs of all central and state security agencies.

Shinde on his arrival earlier in the day visited the native place of former Chhattisgarh PCC Chief Nand Kumar Patel in Raigarh to convey his condolences to the bereaved family. He also visited the injured admitted to a hospital in Raipur.Shinde had earlier on Thursday assured full protection to politicians working in Naxal-affected states irrespective of their party affiliation."The security arrangement for everyone will be strengthened and especially for those persons, who are working towards bringing a democratic set up in the Maoist-affected (areas). Leaders and workers of all parties will be given full security," he told mediapersons in the national capital last evening.Shinde admitted that the ultras pose a threat to urban cities of the country."We have intelligence reports of the same. In Pune also, I had said that Maoist outfits are spreading their wings. We have information that the rebels might attack many urban cities," he said.The Home Minister also refuted media reports about him extending his stay in the United States, saying he had to stay on for consultations with an eye specialist.

Shinde had earlier led a delegation to the United States for a homeland security dialogue before deciding to stay back for eye-related consultations.
An all-party meeting convened by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh on the Maoist issue yesterday urged the Central Government to come out with a work plan, and called for better coordination to tackle the threat.The meeting, which was attended by leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left Parties, concluded that the Maoist issue is a national problem and not specific to a particular state.
Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh had earlier on Tuesday said anti-Naxal operations will be intensified with more security forces and modern weapons being provided by the Central Government to the affected regions."We will coordinate with Naxal-hit states adjoining Chhattisgarh and forces and modern weapons would be provided by the Centre for anti-Naxal operations," he told mediapersons in Raipur after holding a meeting of senior officials at the police headquarters.
Singh further said a judicial inquiry has been set up to find out the error."The state government has requested the honourable Chief Justice to nominate a sitting judge. We will come to know where was the error," he said.Singh further said there is proper coordination with the neighbouring state governments, and added that the ultras are on the backfoot at several places.The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing the attack by the Maoists on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh.
Heavily-armed Maoists had on Saturday ambushed a convoy of Congress leaders in the state"s Bastar district, killing 28 people including PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son Dinesh, Congress leader Mahendra Karma and ex-MLA Uday Mudliyar and injuring 37 others.Former Union Minister V.C. Shukla injured in the attack is being treated at a Medanta hospital in Gurgaon. His condition is stated to be critical, but stable.

Maoists say Bastar attack was to punish Cong leaders:

Three days after the grisly strike on the Congress convoy in the jungles of Chhattisgarh's Bastar district, which killed 27 people including senior party leaders, Maoists have claimed responsibility for it. In a four-page letter and an audio cassette sent to the media on Tuesday, they said the May 25 attack was meant as a revenge on Congress leader Mahendra Karma, PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and former Union minister VK Shukla.

In the letter, Gudsa Usendi, spokesperson for Dandkaranya special zonal committee of Maoists, said, "The purpose was to punish Mahendra Karma, who had launched the anti-naxal movement Salwa Judum. His family has been traditional oppressors of tribals". Patel was "punished" for deploying paramilitary forces in Bastar when he was the state's home minister. Shukla was the "enemy of the common man".The Maoists had shot Karma and staged a victory dance around the body. Patel and his son Dinesh were dragged out of their car and shot as well.Shukla, who had been hit by three bullets, is in a critical condition.The central leaders of the Congress and the BJP came in for fire as well.

The letter criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and BJP chief Rajnath Singh for terming the killing "an attack on democratic values".It further demanded that the anti-Maoist Operation Green Hunt be called off and jailed Maoist leaders be released.The Centre ruled out accepting the demands or holding talks.Indicating that the anti-Maoist operations will be intensified, minister of state for home RPN Singh said, "There is a need to take a relook at the policy dealing with Maoists".The Chhattisgarh government has already suspended Jagdalpur superintendent of police Mayank Shrivastava and transferred Bastar inspector general of police Himanshu Gupta.Karma's district, Dantewada, meanwhile, crawled with security forces, while locals stayed home. His village, Kavalnar, looked desolate. The neighbouring Alnar village was silent."We are terrified of going out, as Maoists or the security forces might target us," said a local, Jaldev Nag.In Keshpur, BJP leader Napu Tula said he was thinking of quitting politics."No one thought politicians would be targeted this way. Security comes first," he said.The attitude did not help mitigate the fear factor.Farmer Pusao Saran voiced everyone's concern: "We are poor. Who will make us feel secure?"

I don't have money to pay your salaries, Vijay Mallya tells Kingfisher Airlines employees:

Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya on Friday told his agitating employees, who began a hunger strike, that he did not have money to clear their salary dues. "I don't have the money to pay your salary dues, because I cannot use the proceeds from the United Spirits-Diageo deal for this due to an injunction from the Karnataka High Court," Mallya reportedly told the striking employees.The employees of the grounded airline have been on a hunger-strike since Thursday at the Kingfisher House in Mumbai seeking salaries which have not been paid since last August. Mallya told the employees that the airline's chief executive Sanjay Agarwal would hold meetings with them.

The employees, however, said the meetings with Mallya earlier did not yield any results and that they would continue with their hunger strike. In November 2012, Mallya clinched a deal with British liquor major Diageo to sell majority 53.4 per cent stake in United Spirits for Rs 11,166 crore. The deal also involves Mallya selling 19.3 per cent of his personal/promoter holding in United Spirits to Diageo for a consideration of Rs 5,742 crore. Kingfisher employees were expecting Mallya to bring in funds from the proceeds of the Diageo deal.Driven by mounting losses, the airline, which never made any profit since inception in May 2005, has remained grounded since last October and the regulator DGCA cancelled its flying licence in December. "As many as 60-70 employees are currently on an indefinite hunger strike at the Kingfisher House near the domestic airport," sources said late Thursday evening.

Though the flamboyant chairman Vijay Mallya has been promising relaunch since February 2013, nothing has happened so far. Meanwhile, the 17 lenders to the airline, which owes them nearly Rs 7,500 in principle, excluding arrears since January 2012, have sold sureties and shares of the airline as well as group companies worth around Rs 1,000 crore so far as part of their recovery process.

Britain's future king has Indian heritage, DNA proves:

Prince William ,second-in-line to the throne, will be first British king with proven Indian ancestry, DNA analysis has revealed. The DNA analysis of saliva samples taken from the Duke of Cambridge's relatives have established a direct lineage between the 30-year-old prince and an Indian housekeeper on his mother Princess Diana's side.It is his only non-European DNA and means he will become the first Head of the Commonwealth with a clear genetic link to its most populous nation - India .William is now likely to be encouraged to make his debut mission to India soon after the birth of his baby next month.Researchers have uncovered the details of his lineage via a doomed relationship of William's Indian great-great-great-great-great grandmother.Eliza Kewark was housekeeper to Prince William's great grandfather Theodore Forbes (1788-1820), a Scottish merchant who worked for the East India Company in the port town of Surat  in Gujarat.

Eliza's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was passed on by her daughters and granddaughters directly in an unbroken line to Princess Diana and then on to Prince William and Prince Harry .Eliza is claimed to have been Armenian, possibly because her surname is rather like the Armenian name Kevork and letters from her to Forbes have been found which contain Armenian script.This in turn suggests a degree of Armenian cultural heritage and the possibility that her father may have been of Armenian descent."But we believe that all the evidence we have gathered shows that her genetic heritage through her motherline is Indian," Britains DNA, a DNA ancestry testing company, said in a release."Princes William and Harry carry Eliza Kewark's markers but will not pass this Indian mtDNA onto their children, as mtDNA is only passed from mother to child," it added.Jim Wilson, a genetics expert at the University of Edinburgh and BritainsDNA who carried out the tests, said that Eliza's descendants had an incredibly rare type of mtDNA, inherited only from a mother.It has so far been recorded in only 14 other people, 13 Indian and one Nepalese.The revelation explains why the Scottish father of Eliza's children suddenly deserted her and sent their daughter, Katherine, to Britain at the age of 6.

 Toll may cross 1,000, Uttarakhand CM says:

As daredevil pilots meandered their craft through unpredictable weather and soldiers slithered down wobbly choppers to help the stranded, hungry and sick people, rain and flood-ravaged Uttarakhand's chief minister finally conceded on Saturday that fatalities from the disaster could cross 1,000."The death toll is likely to be around 1,000," Vijay Bahuguna told reporters in Dehradun as rescuers stared at gloomy skies and more rain in the days ahead, making the task of ferrying to safety the 22,000 pilgrims and villagers who still remain out of reach more daunting.

Officials said the threat of fresh rain and epidemic breakout loomed large. In fact, on Saturday, bad weather and fresh destruction of some newly-erected infrastructure impeded rescue with security forces being unable to clear Kedarnath Valley and airlifting only 500 out of Badrinath where at least 8,000 are still stuck.

"According to the forecast with us, rain is likely on Monday and Tuesday. Even 3-4 cm of rain may hamper our work. Our choppers cannot navigate through the clouds in the valley," said Air Marshal S B Deo, chief of air operations.Sunday's operation is going to be especially difficult in Kedarnath valley, where several hundred bodies strewn over 30 sq km have started stinking due to decay. Forces are already functioning with masks over their faces with epidemic outbreak looming large.Much of Saturday was spent reestablishing broken roads and bridges in the Badrinath axis and building new helipads at Auli and Gaurikund. However, with infrastructure in place, forces hope to step up rescue work on a war footing on Sunday and try to evacuate everyone. "We are doubling our strength in Badrinath axis and putting even the administrative staff on duty tomorrow," said an ITBP officer overseeing rescue work.

Despite the difficulties, armed forces and ITBP rescued all 500 people stranded in and around Gangotri while 350 people of 1,000 stranded in Kedarnath valley around Rambada and Junglechetti were airlifted on Saturday. Forces also evacuated 1,550 people from Pandukeshwar while Ghjagaria on the Hemkunt axis was cleared of almost all pilgrims. A total of 61 helicopters were pressed into action.However, only 450 people could be airlifted out of main Badrinath and 700 are still stranded in Yamunotri. "Though there was no rain, fog interrupted air operations. The Lambagad bridge we had built in the Badrinath axis was swept away by Alaknanda on Friday night. We could not evacuate anyone from main Badrinath on foot. We had make another bridge today," said an ITBP official.

 1000 have died in the flash floods: Vijay Bahuguna:

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Saturday confirmed that more than 1000 have died in the flash floods that recently hit the picturesque hill station.

"At least 1000 have died while thousands are still stranded. We welcome all the chief minister who are visiting the state," says Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde earlier in the day said that close to 30,000 people have been rescued so far from different parts of Uttarakhand, while over 40,000 people are still stranded.Shinde, who took stock of the rescue and relief operations in the flash flood hit areas of the hill state, said the evacuations will be completed in one or two days if the rescue operations continue in the same manner.

"Despite bad weather, the Army, NDRF and ITBP are landing and conducting rescue operations. Operations are underway on a war footing," he said, while emphasizing that the men in uniform are trying their best to evacuate those stranded.The Home Minister said the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been ordered to build access roads so that the stranded people can be reached.Shinde said the identification of dead bodies has begun.He, however, said that some of the bodies recovered were not identifiable." DNA tests of decomposed bodies will also be undertaken," said Shinde.

Shinde further informed that the government has appointed former Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal as a nodal officer to oversee the relief and rescue operations.
He informed that 550 deaths had occurred till yesterday."Also, 1,751 houses, 147 bridges and 1,307 roads have got damaged," he added.The Home Minister also played safe on the BJP's demand that Uttarakhand floods should be declared as a national calamity.

Chopper makes emergency landing in Uttarakhand:

A helicopter made an emergency landing in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand's Harsil town Friday, an official said.
The Pawan Hans helicopter developed a technical fault as it was landing in Harsil town, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) official said Friday.

"There is no report of any casualties in this incident. The private chopper at the time of landing developed a technical fault, made an emergency landing," ITBP spokesperson Deepak Kumar Pandey told IANS.

On Tuesday, Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed carrying 20 personnel while returning from a rescue mission in Uttarakhand.

 Uttarakhand: Over 1000 still stranded, rescue operations continue:

Even as rescue operations continue across the flood ravaged areas of Uttarakhand, 1000 people are still stranded in Pittoragarh, and a total of 2395 villages in the area have been affected. According to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), communication to most areas has been established and there are no reports of an epidemic in any part of the state.

 Uttarakhand: Mass cremations begin, 3,500 await evacuation, death toll set to rise:

With the weather clearing a bit and a threat of epidemic looming large, mass cremations of bodies of people killed in the floods caused by unprecedented rainfall in Uttarakhand finally began in Kedarnath today, even as 3,500 people waited to be rescued 11 days after the disaster.

As 1,000 more stranded people were evacuated from Badrinath and Harshil sectors by air and road routes in rain and fog, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne on a morale boosting mission to Uttarakhand after the IAF chopper crash pledged to continue with rescue efforts and hoped to wrap it up in the next few days. "The mass cremation of bodies in Kedarnath, which was being put off again and again for the past two days due to bad weather was finally taken up this afternoon, " IAS officer Ravinath Raman said from Guptkashi. The temple town of Kedarnath was the epicentre of destruction. However, the number of bodies cremated were not immediately known.

Around 3,500 people are still waiting to be evacuated from Harsil and Badrinath areas, an Army release said. Around one lakh stranded people have been rescued so far since the disaster struck the hill state on June 15.Browne said if the IAF, which is part of the multi-agency operation that also included the Army, ITBP and NDMA, got three to four days of good weather, it will be able to complete its mission.

"If the weather starts improving by Friday or so, then by Monday, Tuesday we should have all this (task) finished," he said. "We are over the hill", he told reporters in Gauchar, the forward base for the rescue choppers."Operations are going to continue. In fact, most of the work has already been done. It is now a question of getting the people out from Badrinath and the Harsil sector," he said, adding, "Our rotors will not stop churning. That means, we will continue with the job till get the people out."

Kanimozhi, Raja elected to Rajya Sabha:

 DMK's Kanimozhi, CPI's D. Raja and four AIADMK candidates were Thursday declared elected to the Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu.The four victorious AIADMK candidates are K.R. Arjunan, R. Lakshmanan, V. Maitreyan and T. Rathnavelu.Maitreyan, Raja and Kanimozhi were re-contesting their seats.

DMDK's A.R. Elangovan lost the election, with just 22 votes as against the 34 needed to be elected. While the party has 29 legislators, seven had turned rebel and did not vote for the party nominee.While Raja of the Communist Party of India was supported by the ruling AIAMDK and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the DMK, which had 23 legislators, was supported by Congress (5 legislators), and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) and Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT) having two legislators each.The poll saw 231 members of the 235-member assembly voting with PMK, having three legislators, boycotting the elections. One vote was declared as invalid.

President signs food security ordinance:

President Pranab Mukherjee Friday promulgated the national food security ordinance, which aims to provide subsidised food grain to around 67 percent of India's 1.2 billion people.The measure is expected to be a game-changer for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, coming ahead of the polls to five state assemblies this year-end, and the general elections of 2014.

The food security bill, one of the big-ticket welfare initiatives of the UPA and a pet project of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is expected to provide subsidised food grains to around 800 million people.This would entail an initial cost of around Rs.1.3 lakh crore to the government.

The government, which is in minority and is surviving on outside support, skipped a debate in parliament by issuing the ordinance, and invited the ire of the opposition parties who slammed the government for demeaning parliament.While the step has sparked off speculation over early polls, some reports have also said the announcement was made as upcoming assembly polls may be announced soon and the model code of conduct would have created a hurdle, as it prohibits the government from announcing any big policy initiative that could impact voting.

 Rs 2500 crore seized from four trucks in Mumbai:

The Income Tax Department and National Investigation Agency personnel on Monday night seized cash worth Rs 2,500 crore, and gold and diamond jewellery from four trucks here and detained 47 people.It is being billed as the biggest operation of its kind.

The trucks were apprehended from outside Mumbai Central railway station, stumping the investigators who suspect a terror angle, a top IT official, requesting anonymity said on Tuesday.According to sources, each truck with around 15 people on board, was carrying around 35 bags, allegedly stuffed with cash and valuables.At least 47 people, including personal couriers, locally known as ‘angadiyas’, were detained and 20 were let off after initial questioning by the two agencies early Tuesday morning.According to reports, the cash was to be transported to Ahmedabad on Gujarat Mail.

I-T officials said that so far, 50 bags containing cash have been scrutinised and they are looking into the contents of the remaining.Prima facie the cash appears to be part of hawala transaction, to be carried to Gujarat from Mumbai, they said.In an interesting twist in the case, it has been revealed that an Inspector stationed at South Mumbai’s VP Road and his colleagues had escorted the trucks to station.

The joint operation by more than 100 officers was carried out at around 9 pm, when the four trucks reached outside the Mumbai Central station to unload the suitcases.Those detained with around 150 suitcases of cash are still being grilled.The operation was carried out following a tip-off received by the NIA at least a week ago.It roped in the I-T Department for help as a huge amount of cash was involved.Not ruling out a terror funding angle, at least a dozen of those detained are being questioned separately by the NIA.

The IT officials are still counting the cash at their head office in Scindia House in Ballard Estate in south Mumbai, which houses many other central government offices.The true value of the consignment is expected to be known only within another day or so, an official said.

Govt says ‘terror' attack after blasts at Mahabodhi Temple:

A series of explosions in and around Buddhism's holiest shrine in Bihar injured two persons early on Sunday, in what the government described as a “terror” attack. The Mahabodhi Temple complex is located in Bodh Gaya, the place where the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.

“It is a terror attack ... no outfit has claimed credit for these attacks,” junior home minister RPN Singh told reporters.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and said such attacks on religious places “will never be tolerated”.The explosions, which occurred between 5:30 am and 6 am, injured two persons, Bihar police chief Abhayanand told reporters in Patna.Four blasts occurred inside the Mahabodhi Temple premises, three blasts at Tergar monastery and another near the famous 80-foot Buddha statue, Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said, adding a team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will probe the explosions.

One blast occurred where a tourist bus was standing, Home Minister Sushil Shinde informed reporters.An eyewitness monk told a TV channel he heard explosions near the Bodhi tree, a sacred fig near the Mahabodhi Temple which is said to be a descendent of the one Buddha sat under for three days and nights in the sixth century BC, before finding enlightenment.“The place where we offer butter lamps, there was one explosion there. The incident occurred behind the Bodhi Tree,” he said

Narendra Modi condemns terror attack on Mahabodhi temple:
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi condemned the terror attack on Mahabodhi temple in in Bihar's Bodh Gaya district.

"Cowardly attack on Mahabodhi Temple is a matter of great sadness for the people of India and the Buddhist community around the world," Modi wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.Nine serial explosions rocked the internationally renowned temple town of Bodh Gaya, including four in the Mahabodhi Temple complex, injuring two monks in the blasts.

The Mahabodhi Temple is frequented by Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China and Japan and the whole of southeast Asia. A total of 52 countries have established their monasteries here.

Legendary actor Pran dies at 93:

 Pran, one of Bollywood's most respected actors, died in Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital today. He was 93 and had been admitted to hospital a month ago.

"He died after a spell of prolonged illness," his daughter Pinky told news agency PTI. "He was not keeping well, he was very weak. His health was deteriorating," she added.Pran received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year in May. He was unable to travel to Delhi to receive the award at the presentation ceremony because of ill health. He was given the award at his home in Mumbai the next day.

Pran, star of films such as Zanjeer and Amar Akbar Anthony, began his career as a hero in Punjabi films, made a tremendous impact on Bollywood as the villain in Dilip Kumar's Ram Aur Shyam and was the first actor to break stereotype by playing character roles as well. In the '70s, there was almost no major film that did not feature Pran and he was often higher paid than the hero. Pran was credited with making the role of the villain as important as the hero's, and was known for his sophistication and style on screen. (Read: Pran, Bollywood's 'black gold')

Pran was also credited with helping actor Amitabh Bachchan get his biggest break - Zanjeer, which marked the rise of the Angry Young Man and made Amitabh Bachchan famous. Pran played one of his best known roles - the Pathan Sher Khan - in Zanjeer. He and Amitabh Bachchan formed a long and successful screen partnership after Zanjeer and struck up a lifelong friendship. Pran made one of his last public appearances at Amitabh Bachchan's 70th birthday party in October last year.

Pran's other famous films include Madhumati, Half Ticket, Upkar, Kashmir Ki Kali, Don, Karz, Naseeb and Shahenshah. He last appeared on-screen in 1997's Mrityudaata.He is survived by his wife Shukla, daughter Pinky, and sons Arvind and Sunil.

 Irom Sharmila remanded to judicial custody:

Activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a fast for the past 12 years to demand withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Manipur, has been remanded to judicial custody for 15 days.

Sharmila who has been produced before the judicial magistrate from time to time for more than 12 years, was produced before the court of junior magistrate Imphal east district on Tuesday, who remanded her to 15-day judicial custody.Speaking to media personnel, who were present at the court, Sharmila alleged that AFSPA has not been withdrawn from the state due to "the weakness of the state government which has failed to convince the necessity to withdraw and repeal the act".

Sharmila, whose cause has been recognised nationwide, expressed her desire for all sections of the society to raise their voice collectively against the AFSPA.Under AFSPA security forces have the power to 'shoot any suspect even causing death' if he or she was suspected of acting in contravention of law.

Sharmila began her fast unto death to demand withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur after nine innocent civilians were killed in an alleged encounter in 2000 near Imphal airport.

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