Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Perfect Package of HAZARDs: Quattrocchi, Tsunami, Prafulla Patel, Chettiyar Chidambaram and Nclear Galaxy Order Triiblis

Perfect Package of HAZARDs: Quattrocchi, Tsunami, Prafulla Patel, Chettiyar Chidambaram and Nclear Galaxy Order Triiblis
Trouble Galaxy Destroyed Dream, Chapter 389
Palash Biswas
Reform affiliating-varsity model

Reform affiliating-varsity model

The ability to own a good portion of the curriculum will allow colleges to introduce new courses and new ideas in education.

Communications driving growth 

Share of communications sector, which include postal, telephone and telegraph services, to total GDP has risen from a meagre 0.7% in 1980s to 5.7% in 2007-08.

Bank sales & phony traps 

With mobile penetration on the rise, most banks customers are targets for phone sales.



Gandhi as a luxury label

30 Sep 2009, 0147 hrs IST, ET Bureau
t could turn out to be a very limited edition pen indeed. Apart from the irony of designing a writing implement that costs as much as an
apartment and naming it after a legendary byword for simplicity, Montblanc may not have bargained for the ire it could arouse by using a national symbol.

Priced at around Rs 12 lakh, the premium white-gold 'Mahatma Gandhi
Limited Edition 241' has hand-twined gold wire around the middle, supposedly evoking the khadi thread he spun. But Montblanc will have to spin a pretty good yarn of its own, so as not to fall foul of the 'Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950'.

Unless Montblanc has had the foresight to obtain a waiver, it violates the Act that bans the use of "any name or emblem specified in the Schedule or any colourable imitation thereof without the previous permission of the central government" for the "purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design".

No one can "register a trade mark or design which bears any emblem or name" in this proscribed list. And 9A of the Schedule includes "the name or pictorial representation of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj or the Prime Minister of India or the words 'Gandhi', 'Nehru' or 'Shivaji' except the pictorial use thereof on calendars..."

Also forbidden is the use of the national flag, the Ashok Chakra, and "the name, emblem or official seal" of entities as diverse as the President of India, Governor, Republic or Union of India, UN, World Health Organisation, the Ramakrishna Mission, the International Olympic Committee and Interpol.

The company has obviously gone to great lengths to research the Mahatma — even 241 apparently stands for the miles he covered in his Dandi March, but has it also researched relevant laws? With the furore over the auction of Gandhi items still fresh in many minds, India's most 'aam aadmi' as a luxury pen label — even at the 'janta' edition price of a mere Rs 1.5 lakh or a little more than a Nano — may be a bit much for the government.

Indian Prime Minister Manmoha Singh delivers a speech during the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy 2009 in New Delhi on September 29, 2009. India`s prime minister vowed that a massive increase in nuclear power generation over the next four decades would allow the booming country to reduce its impact on global warming. Manmohan Singh told an international atomic conference in New Delhi that the civilian nuclear supply agreement he signed with the United States last year had opened an era for safer, cleaner energy production. - AFP


srael moves closer to freeing captive soldier

The Associated Press - Matti Friedman - ‎55 minutes ago‎
JERUSALEM - Israel decided Wednesday to free 20 Palestinian women from Israeli prisons in exchange for a videotape proving that a captive Israeli soldier held in the Gaza Strip is still alive.

Brown defiant after losing Sun's backing

AFP - ‎15 minutes ago‎

Typhoon Kills at Least 41 in Vietnam

New York Times - Seth Mydans - ‎1 hour ago‎
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam - Typhoon Ketsana headed west toward Laos Wednesday after battering central Vietnam with powerful winds and heavy rain, leaving behind blue and sunny skies but dangerously rising flood waters. - Bloomberg - Reuters India  - Wikipedia: Typhoon Ketsana

N-energy benefits should not remain confined: PM

Press Trust of India - ‎1 hour ago‎
New Delhi, Sep 30 (PTI) Seeking international cooperation in its efforts for a major expansion in the nuclear programme, India today said benefits of atomic energy should not remain confined to a "privileged few" as it was vital to meet power ...

'Chandrayaan Mission a Complete Success' - ‎Sep 28, 2009‎
India's Chandrayaan Mission, which was called off just last month owing to a communications failure, has been termed a complete success by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) chairman, G Madhavan Nair.

Taliban film shows leader is dead

BBC News - Syed Shoaib Hasan - ‎1 hour ago‎
The Taliban in Pakistan have released a video confirming that their former leader Baitullah Mehsud is dead. A video received by the BBC shows the body of the former head of Pakistan's largest Taliban group lying in a room.

Nepali UCPN-M congratulates CPC on 60th anniversary of China

Xinhua - Xiong Tong - ‎25 minutes ago‎
KATHMANDU, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Nepal's single largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA), the Unified Communist Party of Nepal Maoist (UCPN-M) on Wednesday congratulated the Chinese government and people on the 60th anniversary of the founding of ...

Shopian case: Probe ordered into conduct of doctors who conducted ...

Times of India - ‎38 minutes ago‎
PTI 30 September 2009, 03:30pm IST SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday ordered a departmental inquiry into the conduct of two teams of doctors who carried out autopsy of the two women allegedly raped and murdered in Shopian.
 The government on Tuesday looked to give the over two-decade-old Bofors bribery scandal a legal burial, informing the Supreme Court that it had decided to withdraw case against Ottavio Quattrocchi.
Today, the Galaxy has to suffer from a perfect pacckage of HAZARDS!
Quattrocchi, Tsunami, Prafulla Patel, Chettiyar Chidambaram and Nclear Galaxy Order Triiblis!
Global financial stability improves, but risks of reversal high: IMF
 Global financial stability has improved following unprecedented policy actions and signs of economic recovery, but overall risks
remain elevated and the risk of reversal remains significant, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

IMF estimate of global losses arising from the crisis for 2007-10 now stands at roughly $3.4 trillion largely due to rising securities values, it said in the October Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), released in Istanbul Wednesday. The new estimate is around $600 billion lower than the last GFSR.

While systemic risks have declined, the policy challenges are significant, the report said ahead of the Annual Meetings of the IMF-World Bank Group.

Policymakers, IMF said need to (i) ensure sufficient credit growth to support the nascent economic recovery; (ii) devise appropriate exit strategies; (iii) manage risks associated with sovereign balance sheet pressures; and (iv) maintain a balance between regulation and market forces in reducing future systemic risks.

Moving toward the medium-term, policymakers should seek to restore market discipline, address risks posed by systemic institutions, institute a macroprudential policy approach, and strengthen the oversight of cross-border financial institutions, it said.

Financial institutions continue to face three main challenges-rebuilding capital, strengthening earnings, and weaning themselves off government funding support, GFSR said.

Securities write downs by financials have begun to taper, but credit deterioration will continue to lead to higher loan losses over the next few years, the report said. Bank write downs on holdings of loans and securities realized between mid-2007 and mid-2009 have amounted to $1.3 trillion.

IMF estimates that $1.5 trillion of actual and potential writedowns through end-2010 has yet to be recognized. While the capital positions and outlook for banks have improved significantly since the last GFSR, earnings are not expected to fully offset forthcoming writedowns.

Banks have enough capital to survive, but they remain under deleveraging pressure, the report said. With steady-state earnings likely to be lower in the post-crisis environment, stronger action is needed to bolster bank capital and earnings capacity to support lending.

Private sector credit growth has continued to contract across the major economies as weak activity and household deleveraging restrain private sector credit demand and the financing capacity of both the bank and non-bank sectors remains limited, it said.

However, total borrowing needs are not decelerating as rapidly, due to burgeoning public sector deficits. The likely result is constrained credit availability, IMF said suggesting continued support by central banks may be required to help alleviate this constraint.

Tail risks in emerging markets have declined as a result of strong policy measures. Asia and Latin America have benefited most from the stabilisation of core markets and a recovery in portfolio inflows, the report said.

The situation is most acute in emerging Europe, where corporate revenues are declining sharply as a result of the recession and several large defaults have already occurred, it said.
Indian markets ended at day's high Wednesday as sentiments turned bullish as soon as the benchmarks crossed psychological resistance

National Stock Exchange's Nifty ended at 5079.25, up 72.40 points or 1.45 per cent. The index touched an intra-day high of 5087.60 and low of 5004.35.

Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex closed at 17126.84, up 273.93 points or 1.63 per cent. The index hit a high of 17142.52 and low of 16868.46.

BSE Midcap Index was up 0.95 per cent and BSE Smallcap Index gained 0.94 per cent.

Biggest Nifty gainers were State Bank of India (5.74%), Axis Bank (5.51%), ICICI Bank (4.46%), Maruti Suzuki (4.31%) and Mahindra & Mahindra (4.1%).

ONGC (-1.9%), Idea Cellular (-1.18%), GAIL (-1.1%), Suzlon (-0.97%) and Power Grid (-0.95%) were the laggards in the rally.

Market breadth on BSE was positive with 1600 advances outnumbering 1176 declines.

(All figures are provisional)
he BSE Sensex climbed above 17,000 points on Wednesday for the first time since May 2008, led by banks and Reliance Industries on hopes
quarterly earnings would top expectations.

Shares in leading mobile firm Bharti Airtel rose 0.5 percent, as exclusive talks deadline loomed for a tie-up with South Africa's MTN Group. There is still little clarity about the outcome of the deal, which is facing increasing scrutiny in South Africa.
Oil India gained as much as 9.3 percent on its trading debut after the state explorer's heavily subscribed $570 million IPO, potentially boosting government plans for selling stakes in other companies.

By 11:39 a.m. (0609 GMT), the 30-share BSE index was up 1.13 percent at 17,043.74, with all but two components gaining. The index had started 0.09 percent higher. It has risen 76.7 percent so far in 2009, making it one of the best performing indices in the region.

"There is visibility in terms of earnings which is adding to the confidence," said Rajesh Jain, chief executive at Pranav Securities.

Companies begin releasing their quarterly results from the second week of October, and advance tax payments indicate robust profits.

Top lender State Bank of India led the gains, climbing 2.8 percent to 2,149.25 rupees as investors expected strong corporate earnings to boost the bank's profits and ease bad debt worries.

ICICI Bank rose 1.2 percent to 874.50 rupees.

"The markets could do very well to take a correction ahead of the results but every dip sees fresh buying. The advice is to stay invested and review global markets, liquidity and Indian festival demand before buying again," Jain said.

Energy giant Reliance Industries gained 1.2 percent to 2,191.30 rupees. Tata Consultancy Services rose 0.7 percent to 614.70 rupees after the top software exporter said it signed a multi-million dollar contract with a Singapore state organisation.

Software bellwether Infosys added 1.4 percent to 2,319.10 rupees.

The strong debut of Oil India helped larger rival Oil and Natural Gas Corp climb 1 percent to 1,197.75 rupees.

Bharti was up 0.5 percent at 420.9 rupees.

In the broader market, 1,570 gainers were ahead of 849 losers on relatively low volume of 164.5 million shares.

The market was shut on Monday for a local holiday and will be closed on Friday for Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary. Analysts said the holidays would keep investors cautious. The 50-share NSE index rose 0.88 percent to 5,051.45.


* Larsen & Toubro rose as much as 1.05 percent to 1,665 rupees after sources told Reuters on Tuesday the firm was readying a $600 million share sale to institutions.

* Drug maker Wockhardt Ltd rose to a 52-week high of 191 rupees after it received tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for marketing tamsulosin capsules, used to treat enlargement of prostate.

* Radico Khaitan rose as much as 3.9 percent after the liquor maker said it planned to raise 3.75 billion rupees, through equity or related instruments, global depositary receipts, foreign currency convertible bonds and warrants.


* Oil India on 4.9 million shares
More than 120 people were killed when a series of tsunamis triggered by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake swept across the South Pacific,
Overturned people
Huge tsunami waves spawned by a powerful undersea quake of magnitude 8.0 hit Samoa islands and American Samoa. (Reuters)
reports from the region said on Wednesday. ( Watch Video )

At least 100 people were killed in Samoa, the disaster management office of the island state of 220,000 people said. Several tourist resorts and villages were destroyed, it reported.

Another 19 people died in neighbouring American Samoa, while 10 deaths were reported on Tonga's northern island of Niuatoputapu.

New Zealand's 'Stuff news' website quoted witnesses as saying the devastation in Samoa was unimaginable "with bodies, covered in clothes, strewn around coastal villages".

Reports said cars and people, including children torn from the arms of their mothers, were swept out to sea by waves of up to six metres as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later.

New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English told a news conference in Wellington there had been "considerable loss of life" with many more deaths likely to be reported in an unfolding tragedy.

An unknown number of New Zealand and Australian tourists, holidaying in Samoa, were believed to have died, trapped in tourist resorts as the tsunami followed one of the world's biggest earthquakes this year.

The south coast of Samoa's main island Upolu was devastated. "We've had very heavy damage all along the coast and most of the tourist resorts have been wiped out," Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni said.

Up to 20 people were reported killed in the beach resort Lalomanu, which is popular with New Zealand and Australian holidaymakers.

US President Barack Obama declared a "major disaster" in the US territory of American Samoa, freeing up federal funds for disaster relief.

English said a New Zealand air force maritime surveillance plane has been sent to look for survivors swept out to sea and other defence forces put on standby to fly medical aid and emergency shelters to Samoa, a former New Zealand territory.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake, which was located about 204 km southwest of Samoa, at 8.0 on the Richter scale after earlier estimating it at 8.3.

As aftershocks continued to hit the two Samoa states, seismologists reported two more quakes measuring 5.6 and a third of 5.8 in the South Pacific.

The 'Pacific Tsunami Warning Center' lifted its alert to countries across the South Pacific about five hours after the first quake and people in Samoa were reported to be returning to the sites of their homes to inspect the damage and search for the missing.

Civil defence officials in New Zealand, 2,685 km away from the quake's epicentre, issued an alert for the country's entire coastline after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a three-metre tsunami was travelling across the Pacific at about 800 km an hour.

It lifted its warning after nine hours, telling people it was safe to return to the beaches.
Praful Patel asks Air India to reduce costs, debts
 After its pilots called off their strike on Wednesday, civil aviation minister Praful Patel asked the cash-strapped national carrier
to take steps to reduce its expenses and debts.

"The government's support for Air India doesn't come without a rider. We have asked the carrier to cut costs," Patel told reporters here soon after the pilots said they were returning to work.

The government has in principle agreed to infuse funds up to Rs.5,000 crore into Air India. The airline's losses since last fiscal till recently is expected to be over Rs.7,200 crore.

Regarding the management decision to cut wages, Patel said the management and workers should avoid taking unilateral decisions.

He said a pilots' committee will be formed to discuss the wage cut issue.

Also Read

"There is no reason for any section of the employees to be unhappy. The committee of pilots will discuss pay cuts with the management," he said.

Senior executive pilots of Air India went on sick leave Saturday to protest against cuts in their productivity linked incentives. The protest was called off on Wednesday following the government's intervention.

1 crore women hold PSU bank accounts

30 Sep 2009, 1256 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan & Pradeep Thakur, TNN
 NEW DELHI: In the long haul for women's empowerment, another milestone has been achieved. For the first time, the total number of accounts held
by women in public sector banks has crossed one crore.

The number of accounts with access to credit
grew from 92 lakh in the year ended March 31, 2008 to 1.05 crore on March 31, 2009.

The number refers to just individual beneficiaries. If self-help groups and those dealing with banks in the private sector are added, the number of women beneficiaries would be manifold.

Even in 2008, when all financial institutions were engaged in consolidation, public sector banks added at least 10 lakh new women account holders under their credit facility.

The growth augurs well for the UPA government's objective of bringing at least 50% of rural women under the credit facility extended by PSBs by linking them through self-help groups.

The country's largest bank, State Bank of India, with over 22.40 lakh account holders in 2009, remains on top of the chart on this count. It is followed by Canara Bank with more than 10 lakh account holders , Punjab National Bank with 8.44 lakh accounts and Indian Bank with 5.50 lakh accounts. Syndicate Bank and Bank of Baroda were the only other banks having more than 5 lakh women account holders under their credit facility.

Though most of the PSBs achieved the government's target, according to finance ministry data, as of March 2008 four PSBs — Allahabad Bank, Dena Bank, State Bank of Patiala and IDBI Bank — failed to meet the target set by RBI in earmarking 5% of their net credit to women entrepreneurs. In 2009, State Bank of Patiala and IDBI could not achieve their target.

Besides easy credit flow through PSBs, the UPA government had facilitated micro finance to those women who have not been able to avail of institutionalised banking support through the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. The government has announced increasing the Mahila Kosh's corpus from Rs 100 crore to Rs 500 crore over the next few years.


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India not convinced Pak acting on 26/11: Chidambaram

The Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministers have met this Dusshera weekend, but they have been unable to overcome the standoff created by the investigation into the Mumbai terror attack probe. At home the war against Naxals is set to intensify with an MP's son being killed in Chhattisgarh. At a time when the internal and external security challenge remains potent, CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai questions the man responsible for meeting those challenges: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Is Pakistan stifling the 26/11 probe? Mr Chidambaram, we are asking this because only yesterday (Sunday) the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi, after talks with the Indian Foreign Minister said the trial against the 26/11 suspects will start on October 3. Do you see this as a positive step at last?

P Chidambaram: When it starts I will see it as a positive step. These dates have been set many times before. For example, the last date that was set the judge was on leave, they said. So when it starts it is a positive step.

Rajdeep Sardesai: So to that extent you are still not convinced about the sincerity of the Pakistani action. You still believe that the proof of the pudding is essentially, as always, is in its eating?

P Chidambaram: That is right.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Are we then to presume that Mr Chidambaram believes that Pakistan is insincere when it talks about 26/11? Because that is the impression one has got over the last few months, that you are not convinced that Pakistan is serious about prosecuting those who are responsible for 26/11?

P Chidambaram: I don't want to make any judgments or use any judgmental words, but you are right I am not yet satisfied that Pakistan is moving as it should on the 26/11 incidents.

Rajdeep Sardesai: What is that would convince you? Would it be just the trial starting against the seven suspects who have already been arrested? Or would it require Hafiz Saeed, crucially, to be arrested and prosecuted for you to be convinced?

P Chidambaram: There is more than that. The trial must start--that is a given. Hafiz Saeed must be arrested, interrogated and the investigation must take place on Pakistan's soil. All the evidence against Hafiz Saeed is on Pakistan's soil, so that has to be gathered. They have to respond to our letters rorgatory. There are some requests pending from the FBI and the Indian agencies for certain things--that Pakistan has to respond to.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir, the (Pakistan) Foreign Minister yesterday (Sunday) said he doesn't want to take the Hafiz Saeed case to court if it's a half-baked court. You are a lawyer--

P Chidambaram: So let him bake it fully.

Rajdeep Sardesai: You want him to bake it fully?

P Chidambaram: Because the evidence is on Pakistan's soil.

Rajdeep Sardesai: You keep saying that the evidence is on Pakistan's soil. Do you believe we have shared all the bits of evidence we have; that our dossiers are good enough to stand scrutiny in a court of law?

P Chidambaram: Since you remind that I am a lawyer, let me explain. Whatever an investigating officer gathers is only prima facie material--it is admissible as evidence according to the rules of evidence. It will be subject to cross-examination by the other side.

If it stands up to cross examination, if the court accepts it as probable, credible and trustworthy then it becomes evidence to punish an accused. We have gathered an enormous material (of evidence) and we have shared every bit of material so far with the Pakistanis. If more material comes out in the trial in Mumbai, if witnesses present some more evidence we will share that also.

Rajdeep Sardesai: We are also getting mixed signals from Pakistan specifically on Saeed. Prime Minister Gilani one day says he has been arrested; next day his (Saeed's) lawyer says he is freely moving around; we hear that he was a state guest at an iftaar function in Rawalpindi.

P Chidambaram: I have heard four versions.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Has the government of India got different versions as well?

P Chidambaram: I have heard four versions. Arrest is one version, house arrest is one version, place some restrains upon him is the third version and he is a free man is the fourth version.

Rajdeep Sardesai: Those are the versions coming through the media, but what about the government?

P Chidambaram: No, I have heard the ministers speak the words I have just uttered.

Rajdeep Sardesai: If you as Home Minister are not convinced yet that Pakistan is acting on 26/11, why should the Foreign Ministers have met in the first place in New York?

P Chidambaram: That raises questions involving the whole government. That is not a Home Ministry issue. Nevertheless since you have asked, we have agreed to engage the Pakistanis but we have said when and in what manner a dialogue will start will depend on action that Pakistan takes post 26/11.

That doesn't mean Foreign Ministers should not meet or Foreign Secretaries should not meet. There is no composite dialogue and there is no dialogue on any substantive issue.

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Govt plans IPOs in 5 PSUs by March 2010

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Posted: Sep 30, 2009 at 1057 hrs IST
 Mumbai India plans to sell stakes in at least five state-run firms by the end of the fiscal year in March 2010 following successful IPOs of two firms that raised $1.8 billion, a government official said on Wednesday.

The first of the stake sales could be follow-on offerings in utilities Rural Electrification Corp or NTPC, S. Pradhan, the joint secretary of the department of disinvestment, told reporters after state-run Oil India made its stock market debut.


The Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex on Wednesday surged past the 17,000-points level for the first time in 16 months in early morning trading on the back of sustained buying by foreign funds in heavy-weight stocks in anticipation of strong quarterly earnings.

The Sensex shot up by 175.88 points, or 1.1 per cent to 17,028.79 points at 1100 hrs, a level last seen on May 23, 2008. The barometer ended 159.91 points higher on Tuesday.

The wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty also gathered 43.90 points at 5,050.75.

Brokers said continued buying by foreign funds on the domestic bourses on expectations of strong quarterly earnings mainly bolstered the trading sentiments, helping Sensex to go past the 17,000-mark.

The rally was backed by a steep rise in stocks of banking, oil and gas, IT and metal segments.


Air India pilots' strike called off!

Air India pilots called off their four-day long strike over cut in their performance-linked incentives (PLI) and arrears on Wednesday morning.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday Captain VK Bhalla said the pilots association decided to call off their stir following Centre's intervention.

"I am very grateful to the Prime Minister who asked Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to intervene in our crisis. I have full faith on the assurances given by our Aviation Minister. If the Minister says that it (PLI) will be paid then we trust him. Civil Aviation Minister is the government and we trust the government. Therefore, we are going to call off our strike with immediate effect," said Bhalla.

He also added that there would be a turn-around committee formed to look into the demands of the pilots.

"The strike was for a serious issue. Now that the issue has been resolved, there is no pointing continuing the strike," he said.


Retaliation rage in Maoist zone


Times of India reports:

Three days after the arrest of PCPA spokesperson Chhatradhar Mahato, Maoists retaliated with heavy firing at Bankati in Binpur, around 200

km from Kolkata, on Tuesday evening. But no casualties were reported from either side.

Tuesday's violence, during which 30 rounds were fired, continued till late in the evening. This is the second instance of firing

by Maoists in the last eight days. Last Monday, armed Maoist cadres had attacked a CPM party office at Enayetpur but were forced to beat a retreat in the face of opposition. With the two-day bandh called by PCPA starting from Wednesday, police are cautious about more strikes.

PCPA leaders are in no mood to let go the battle at this stage. "The way combined forces are torturing the villagers, people want us to go for a stronger movement even if it means spilling blood," said PCPA leader Asit Mahato.

Adding to the confusion, posters appeared at Belpahari on behalf of CPI (Maoist) threatening to kill "corrupt Trinamool leaders like Nishikanta Mandal".

In the absence of Chhatradhar Mahato, PCPA is projecting Santosh Patra as the voice of the organization. Till Mahato's arrest, Patra handled cash for the organization. The 45-year-old Patra is known as a smart talker. After the combined forces started its operation in Lalgarh, Patra has been on the run. He has been seen around Dherua in the last three months.

Police suspect that Maoists will continue with late strikes to avenge Mahato's arrest. Around 5.30 pm, gunshots were heard at Bankati. Though Maoists have been present in other parts of Binpur, their presence at Bankati was not known earlier. Police suspect that Maoists are spreading their area of influence in the remaining parts of Jangalmahal.

On Monday evening, the Red ultras had set on fire two buses at Dohijuri and Binpur after asking all passengers to get down. On Tuesday morning, landmines exploded at Dherua and Rathbera, Binpur. No one were injured. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion has put on hold a tribal festival held at this time.

Meanwhile, state home secretary Ardhendu Sen and city police chief Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti defended the police having used the garb of journalists to apprehend Mahato. Sen said there was "nothing wrong" in it. Chakrabarti, too, held a similar view. "To arrest a person who has several charges pending against him, every means is justified," Chakrabarti said.

"It will be all right after a while," Sen said. The home secretary said that the state government was on the alert and taking adequate measures to counter the bandh called by the Maoists on October 3. Asked why Mahato was not arrested earlier when he had met government officials or came to Kolkata, Sen said the situation had been different then. "It is a changed situation now," he said.

Sources said that writer Mahasweta Devi who has supported the Lalgarh agitation spoke to Chakrabarti about the manner in which Mahato was arrested. Chakrabarti refused to comment on the matter.

The West Bengal Union of Journalists condemned the "misuse of journalists". "We hold chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee responsible for whatever police has done," said Asim Kumar Mitra, president of the union.


Mahato had links with Maoists, says West Bengal

Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: The West Bengal administration, which has confirmed information of Chhatradhar Mahato, convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC), having "connections" with the Maoists, does not see anything wrong in the manner of his arrest near Lalgarh in Paschim Medinipur district. Policemen posing as journalists arrested him on September 26.

"Yes," was Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen's reply to questions from journalists here on Tuesday whether the State administration was sure that Mr. Mahato had links with the Maoists.

Mr. Mahato has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Asked whether it was ethical on the part of policemen to pose as journalists to arrest the PSBJC leader, Mr. Sen said he was aware of such questions being raised in certain quarters. "But I am not one with them," he said of those disapproving the way the arrest was made.

The International Federation of Journalists reportedly said in a statement that it was "deeply disturbed" by the implications of the operation. Some human rights activists have also expressed their resentment.

Responding to apprehensions of journalists that the operation could affect their functioning while reporting on events at Lalgarh, Mr. Sen said: "It might be difficult for a few days, after which all will be well and it will no longer be difficult to collect information… Telephonic interviews can always continue."


CPI-Maoist urges war against 'state terror'


Calling arrested Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy a "role model" for the youth, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) on Tuesday also urged people to unite against "state terror".

The CPI-Maoist, in a statement, termed the operation against their cadres a "cruel war" led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

It said the "Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram fascist clique has upped its cruel war by launching the biggest-ever armed onslaught on the adivasis and CPI-Maoist in Chhattisgarh".

The outfit appealed to all revolutionary, democratic and peace-loving forces to unite to resist this "fascist country-wide offensive" by the central and state governments.

It called upon the party cadres, "the brave PLGA (People's Liberation Guerrilla Army) fighters, and the revolutionary masses to rise up courageously to confront the brutal offensive unleashed by imperialist agents ruling our country, to prepare for immense sacrifices in this war of resistance".

The CPI-Maoist also urged them to mobilise masses all over the country into militant movements against the "brutal onslaught" by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh.

In an earlier statement, it described its London-educated leader and ideologue Kobad Ghandy, who was arrested in New Delhi Sep 17, as a "role model to be emulated by the new generation of youth".

The statement said Ghandy had organised revolutionary activities in Maharashtra during the 1970s and became a member of the central committee of the erstwhile Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (Peoples War) in 1981.

He continued as member of the central committee of the merged CPI-Maoist in 2004 and was elected to the politburo after the unity Congress in February 2007. He played a crucial role in bringing out the party publications in English and was also looking after the sub-committee on mass organisations set up by the central committee besides other work.

The CPI-Maoist called Ghandy's arrest a temporary success for the authorities.

"The reactionary rulers were elated by this temporary success and the wily Chidambaram had congratulated the intelligence agencies for the prize catch. Like true heirs to George Bush, these state terrorists have stepped up their propaganda that the Maoists and the Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy are terrorists."


Maoists demand Ghandy's unconditional release

CPI (Maoist) hails Ghandy as a role model for the youth to emulate
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi Hardnews

More than a week after CPI (Maoist) leader, Kobad Ghandy, was arrested in Delhi; the outfit has sought his unconditional release.

The party hailed Ghandy as "a role model to be emulated by the new generation of youth that is being estranged from its own people by the elitist, slavish, anti-people colonial education system and selfish values promoted by the pro-imperialist rulers".

Terming it to be a combined attack by the mainstream political parties, the banned organisation said in a press release, "The various exploiting class parties in the states, irrespective of their colour, have engaged their lawless repressive State apparatus to eliminate the central and state leadership of our party."

Acknowledging Ghandy's arrest as a great loss to the party and the cause of the Indian revolution, the party says Kobad had forsaken a life of luxury to serve the oppressed. According to the press release, "Comrade Kobad Ghandy, who hails from a rich, elitist background, had abandoned everything and mingled with the oppressed masses to serve them selflessly for almost four decades. He lived with unorganised workers, adivasi peasants and the urban poor and became popular among the oppressed sections of the Indian people."

Ghandy was arrested in Delhi on September 21, 2009. He is in Tihar Jail after the court sent him to a 14-day judicial remand. His lawyer, Rajesh Tyagi, is yet to get a copy of the FIR. "Until we get a copy of the FIR, we can't proceed," Tyagi told Hardnews. He also added, "We have filed an application asking the court to direct the police to provide us a copy of the FIR and also to provide Ghandy specialised medical treatment as he is suffering from cancer and various ailments of the kidney and heart."

Hardnews learnt that Ghandy is a member of the banned CPI (Maoist). Reportedly, he has no criminal record anywhere in the country. His lawyer said that practising an ideology is not a crime and that there are many active Maoists groups in the country. Only some of them are banned. "So, the police must tell us to which particular group he belongs to," Tyagi said.

Meanwhile, the CPI (Maoist) claimed Ghandy to be a member of the party's politburo. "He organised revolutionary activity in Maharashtra during the 1970s and became a member of the central committee (CC) of the erstwhile CPI-ML (PW) in 1981. He continued as a member of the CC after the merger and formation of CPI (Maoist) in 2004. He was elected to the Politburo after the 9th Unity Congress in February 2007. He played a crucial role in bringing out the party's publications in English and was also looking after the sub-committee on mass organisations set up by the CC besides other works," the outfit said.

In a bid to defend their activities, the Maoists claimed that they have only punished the repressive forces, the feudal lords and police informers. It is the security apparatus of the country, under the influence of imperialist agents, which is brutally killing and raping tribals and dispossessing them of their lands.

"None would believe that the freedom-loving Maoists who are fighting for the oppressed people undergoing countless sacrifices and facing tremendous hardships and brutal repression by the police would terrorise the very same people for whose liberation they have been waging a bitter war against the Indian state " the party claimed.

Amid all this fighting between the Maoists and the security forces, it is the hapless tribals who fall victims. They are either mistaken as Maoists by the security forces or as police informers by the Maoists.


First Published : 30 Sep 2009 02:17:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 30 Sep 2009 11:03:27 AM IST


NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday looked to give the over two-decade-old Bofors bribery scandal a legal burial, informing the Supreme Court that it had decided to withdraw case against Ottavio Quattrocchi.

In the Howitzer deal of 1980s, kickbacks of Rs 64 crore as commission were alleged and Italian businessman Quattrocchi remained the only accused.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that all efforts to get Quattrocchi extradited had failed. He said the CBI had decided to close the case by also taking into account a 2004 Delhi High Court judgement which held that no case of corruption was made out in the Bofors gun deal.

Advocate Ajay K Agrawal who moved the apex court in 2006 challenging the de-freezing of Quattrocchi's bank account in London, opposed the government's stand. He told the Bench that Quattrocchi was being treated as the son-in-law of the country and alleged that the government was using its top law officers as tools. The Bench posted the matter to December 11 for further hearing.

CBI named Quattrocchi in a chargesheet in 1999 as the conduit for the Bofors bribe. Quattrocchi, said to be close to the late Rajiv Gandhi, who was prime minister in 1987 when the scandal broke, and his wife Sonia, was accused of receiving millions of dollars for helping fix the $1.4 billion deal.,+officially&artid=aBYgjbTpJfY=&SectionID=b7ziAYMenjw=&MainSectionID=b7ziAYMenjw=&SectionName=pWehHe7IsSU=&SEO=Ottavio+Quattrocchi,Chief+Justice+K+G+Balakrishnan


Visiting Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday that the Army would not be involved in the offensive against naxals. Union home minister P Chidambaram on Friday said Maoists' penetration into civil society is a serious impediment to anti-Naxal operations.

"But his would not stop the government from taking action against the Maoists,'' he said.

The home minister, who was on a whirlwind tour of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand on Friday ahead of a major offensive against the outlawed outfit in the two states, said the Left extremism is the biggest challenge to democracy and rights bodies should condemn the armed liberation struggle

He said it was a matter of concern that Jharkhand had become the "epicentre of left-wing extremism" along with Chhattisgarh.

"There is no proposal to involve the Army in the anti-naxal operations," said Mr. Chidambaram, who was in Ranchi to review the security situation in Jharkhand.

"Left-wing extremism is the gravest challenge to our way of life, our republic and our democracy," he said of the banned CPI (Maoist).

"Our policy on left-wing extremism is very clear. There is no place for violence or so-called armed struggle for liberation in a republican, democratic form of government.

"They believe in armed liberation struggle. We reject that argument. So long any one indulges in violence, the State has to oppose and fight the group," he said.

He said the Centre had made it clear at the recent Chief Ministers' Conference in New Delhi that the so-called armed liberation struggle was unacceptable, and the police would act against it.

Earlier, Mr. Chidambaram said in Raipur that the Centre was committed to fighting naxalism and would provide all help to the Chhattisgarh government to eradicate the extremists.

 Home minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the central government would extend all support to states to counter and defeat left-wing

extremism in what would be a "long-drawn" fight.

"It is a long drawn fight against Naxals (Maoists). The centre is totally supporting Chhattisgarh in its efforts to counter left wing extremism," he told reporters at the state secretariat where he reviewed the state's internal security situation in the wake of police and para-military forces mounting an onslaught against the Maoist rebels.

Chidambaram, who refused to take any questions, said his visit to Chhattisgarh was to assure the centre's support in the state's fight against the Naxalites and to offer his condolences to the policemen who had laid down their lives while fighting the rebels.

Referring to the July 12 incident in which 29 police personnel, including Superintendent of Police V.K. Choubey, were killed in an Maoist ambush at Madanwara in Rajnandgaon district, he said the state government had taken prompt action to provide relief to the families of the killed security personnel.

Meanwhile, official sources said the government of Chhattisgarh - India's worst Maoist hit state - had sought more forces and resources from the centre at the meet so that simultaneous operations could be carried out in the state's sprawling, mineral-rich Bastar region where the rebels hold sway since the late 1980s.


The agitating executive pilots of Air India called off their four-day-old strike on Wednesday, a day after Government gave an assurance that status quo will prevail on cost cutting measures relating to productivity-linked incentive (PLI).

Capt V K Bhalla, representative of the protesting Air India pilots, said they have decided to withdraw the strike following assurances given by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. He also thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for intervening in the matter.

"The strike is being called off in view of the assurances by the Civil Aviation Minister that status quo will continue on issues," he said.

"I apologise to the passengers for inconvenience caused due to the agitation," Bhalla said.

"I am appealing to all the agitating pilots to resume duty," he said.

Bhalla said they have received a communication from the Government in which the pilots have been assured that their grievances would be looked into.

The pilots' agitation had forced the airline to cancel over 240 flights in the last four days.

Bhalla said the minister has given assurance that there will be no salary cuts. "The minister represents the government and I have full faith in him and trust him absolutely," he said.

"We will now work in full cooperation with the management and all the pilots will start flying," he said. On cost cutting issues, Bhalla said "there will be a turnaround policy committee. All these issues will be discussed in that committee".

Patel had yesterday appealed to the striking pilots to return to work failing which the Air India management was "free to take any action" against them.

Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav had said that the PLI and allowance of July have been paid and it will reflect in the account of pilots by October 6 or 7.

The Prime Minister had yesterday reviewed the situation arising out of the agitation with Civil Aviation Secretary Madhavan Nambiar and Jadhav.

About 200 Air India pilots had reported "sick" since Saturday in protest against a 50 per cent cut in their productivity-linked incentives (PLI) and payment of their due flying allowance of three months. Government had said that the agitation had cost a loss of over Rs 100 crore.


Meanwhile,Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily has backed the Centre's decision to drop the case against Ottavio Quattrocchi admitting that there was nothing left to do in the case.

Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman, is the main accused in the Bofors gun purchase scam.

Moily pleaded helplessness in the investigation and defended the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) positive role.

Speaking to a private news channel Moily said: "This case is going on since long. If he could be brought back and any conviction could be held then the case could be pursued with a positive result. But ultimately nothing positive was found."

"In Feb 2004 itself the Delhi High Court said it is a waste of time. Thereafter the case was handed over to the CBI, and they have been playing a positive role for 22 years now. We must have spent more money in the case than the Bofors gun itself," Moily added.

On Tuesday, the CBI decided to withdraw all cases registered against Quattrocchi in the Bofors gun purchase scam.

"We want to close the matter against Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi," said the CBI.

Earlier, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that they want to withdraw all cases against Quattrocchi.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that the CBI has failed to extradite Quattrocchi and that the Delhi High Court has held that there is no case under the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Bofors matter.

The Supreme Court will hear the matter on December 11.

The controversial Bofors gun deal was a major corruption scandal in India in the 1980s, in which former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and several others were allegedly accused of receiving kickbacks from A B Bofors, the Swedish arms manufacturer, in order to win the bid to supply the Army with 155 mm howitzer guns.

The court had on February 10, 1997, sent letters to Malaysia and the UAE seeking the arrest and extradition of Quattrocchi.

The CBI had registered an FIR in the Bofors case on January 22, 1990, three years after Swedish Radio on April 16, 1987, had claimed that A B Bofors had paid kickbacks to top Indian politicians and key defence officials to secure the Rs 1,437 crore gun deal.

The contract between the Indian Government and AB Bofors was signed on March 24, 1986.

Statesman News Service reports:
In what could turn out to be the endgame in the over 22-year-old Bofors gun kickbacks scam, the Manmohan Singh government today told the Supreme Court that it has decided to close prosecution against the fugitive Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi (see photo), a key accused in the multi-crore scam.
The Solicitor-General, Mr Gopal Subramanium, told a Supreme Court Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, KG Balakrishnan, that all "efforts" to extradite Quattrocchi have failed. The sole surviving accused in the case relating to the alleged bribe payment of Rs 64 crore as commission in the purchase of the US $1.4 billion Howitzer gun deal from the Swedish arms company Bofors, Quattrocchi had been on the run for many years and has never faced trial in any Indian court.
The Centre's move to close all cases against Quattrocchi followed the 12-year Interpol Red Corner notice against him being taken off from the CBI's wanted list on the legal advice of the then Attorney General, Milon Banerjee, in November 2008 on the ground that the agency "did not have any basis" to keep the Red Corner notice alive "especially in view of the fact that it lost the case for his extradition from Argentina in February 2007".
Mr Subramanium told the apex court that the CBI has taken the decision to close the case by also taking into account the February 2004 Delhi High Court judgement which had held that no case of corruption was made out in the Bofors deal. He said the government came to the decision after taking into account all the facts of the case.
The Congress-led UPA government's move instantly drew fire from various quarters, with the Opposition led by the BJP crying foul and accusing the government of allegedly "letting Quattrocchi off the hook" again because of his alleged proximity to the Rajiv-Sonia Gandhi family. The Congress rejected such allegations as "unfounded and baseless" while defending the government's move.
The petitioner lawyer, Mr Ajay Agrawal, who had moved the apex court in January 2006 against the then defreezing of Quattrocchi's bank account in London at the behest of the same government, opposed the stand of the Centre and the CBI. "Quattrocchi has been treated by this government as the son-in-law of this country," he said.
"CBI and the entire government is trying to close the case," said the advocate, who has challenged the Delhi High Court's May 2005 verdict ~ quashing charges against other accused ~ after CBI decided not to go for an appeal against the decision. The Solicitor General, who had once objected to the description of Quattrocchi as "son-in-law", said the CBI tried to get him extradited following the Red Corner Notice issued against him but failed.


LeT determined to attack India again: Report


Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant outfits operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar-e-Toiba has persisted and even flourished, since ten recruits killed over 180 people in Mumbai mayhem on November 26 last year, 'The New York Times' reported.

Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai investigations, copies of which were obtained by the US daily, offer a detailed picture of the operations of Lashkar network that spans Pakistan. It included four houses and two training camps in Karachi that were used to prepare the attacks.

In fact, Lashkar's broader network endures, and can be mobilised quickly for elaborate attacks with relatively few resources, the daily quoted Lashkar members and intelligence officials from the US, Europe and Pakistan as saying.

But by all accounts Lashkar's network, though dormant, remains alive, and the possibility that it could strike India again makes Lashkar a wild card in one of the most volatile regions of the world, the report said.

Days back, Israel had also warned of a possible strike in India, saying militants were planning again a Mumbai-type attacks in that country, targeting large concentration of Western and Israeli tourists.

One highly placed Lashkar militant said the Mumbai attackers were part of some groups trained by former Pakistani military and intelligence officials at Lashkar camps. "Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes."

Even as new details emerge about the Mumbai attacks, senior American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have expressed grim certainty that Lashkar-e-Toiba is plotting new attacks.

The United States warned Indian officials this year about a Mumbai-style attack by Lashkar against multiple sites in India, according to a senior US counterterrorism official.

The unnamed counterterrorism official said that the information, gleaned from electronic intercepts and other sources, was not specific but it was significant enough for American officials to alert their Indian counterparts.

"There were indications of possible terrorist activity in the run-up to the Indian elections," in May, "and that information was shared promptly with Indian officials," the US daily quoted the counterterrorism official as saying.

Pakistani officials, however, say they've been kept in the dark. But, if there is one thing on which the intelligence agencies agree, it is that the consequences of a new attack by Lashkar could be devastating, the daily said.

"We do fear that if something like Mumbai happens in India again there might be a military reaction from the Indian side and it could trigger into a war. Right now we cannot guarantee that it'll not happen again because we do not have any control over it," a Pakistani official said.

 Report for duty by 5 pm or face action: Govt to pilots
The Central Government on Wednesday warned that it would take strict action against Air India pilots if they do not report for duty by 5 pm on Wednesday.

According to sources, a certain section of the pilots are still unwilling to return to work.

The Government said that the Air India management would wait till 5 pm, after which the Civil Aviation Ministry would take action.

Action could include the sacking of the pilots, or the revocation of their licence to fly.

The warning came after Air India executive pilots called off their strike following government assurances to look into their concerns.

As senior Air India pilots withdrew their agitation, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Wednesday said the airline would soon set up a Committee, including representatives of the Ministry and pilots, to work on a turnaround plan and discuss issues relating to their pay and incentives.

However, Patel also warned that the management would be "free to take stern action" if any section of the agitators did not resume work forthwith.

"We are thankful and happy that the pilots have called off their agitation .... the Air India CMD (Arvind Jadhav) will be shortly forming a committee," Patel told reporters soon after the pilots' agitation was called off.

He said the Ministry stood by the AI management's order of September 27 which announced the formation of this Committee on the turnaround plan. "It will also include representatives of the Civil Aviation Ministry," he added.

Expressing hope that normalcy of operations would be resumed by this evening or early tomorrow, Patel said "the passengers of Air India and the finances of Air India should not suffer". All sections of employees should cooperate to see that the national carrier's "reputation is regained immediately and confidence restored."

He said the government was extending "fullest support" to Air India by deciding to infuse equity and converting high cost debt to low-cost. "But government support comes with riders and these are difficult times for airlines, not only in India, but all over the world."

Opposing any "unilateral action" by the management, Patel said "government will ensure that the management and all sections of the employees sit together and exchange views" on the problems being faced by the national carrier.

The Minister said the agitating pilots also felt there were various ways to achieve cost reduction and enhance revenues for the airline.

Maintaining that government's desire was to ensure improvement in Air India's financial health through the turnaround programme, Patel said he had briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the proposals to support Air India in this regard.

Asked about unconfirmed reports that a section of pilots still wanted to continue their agitation, he said "we have set a deadline and I hope everybody adheres to it. If not, the management is free to take stern action."

He said salaries and productivity-linked incentives for July have already been disbursed to the pilots and those for August would be paid soon. "There is no reason for any section of employees to be unhappy."

Patel said he was very concerned that the entire civil aviation sector, both in India and abroad, was going through a downturn and added that "every section of employees must behave responsibly."

"The avenues of employment are not available globally. In India, the employment scenario (in the sector) is much better as the spirit here is not anti-employee," Patel said in response to questions.


Centre files fresh affidavit in Ishrat Jahan case


 The Centre on Wednesday filed a fresh affidavit in the Gujarat High Court in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, saying it never justified the action of Gujarat police and had no objection to an independent inquiry in the case.

"The Central Government was not concerned with the merits of the action taken by the Gujarat Police and anything stated in the (earlier) affidavit was not intended to support or justify the action of the State police," the fresh affidavit filed in the High Court today said.

"If, on a proper consideration of the facts it is found that an independent inquiry and investigation has to be carried out, the Union of India would have no objection to this and would abide by the decision of the Court," the affidavit filed by Under Secretary, Internal Security-VI in the Ministry of Home Affairs, R V S Mani said.

Judicial inquiry in the Ishrat Jahan case by magistrate S P Tamang had concluded that the encounter of Ishrat Jahan was fake.

After Magistrate Tamang's report, Gujarat government quoting an earlier affidavit filed by the Centre in the High Court, had tried to justify the encounter by saying that as per Centre's affidavit Ishrat and three others were linked to Laskar-e-Toiba terror outfit.

Gujarat government's action of justifying the encounter of Ishrat, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani, had resulted in war of words between the Congress leadership and the ruling BJP.

After that, the Centre had decided to file a fresh affidavit in the Gujarat High Court. The earlier affidavit filed by the Centre said that as per intelligence inputs all the four were LeT operatives and had come to Gujarat for terrorists strike.

The fresh affidavit filed by the MHA has said, "the Central Government in the said affidavit did not address any issue relating to the merits or otherwise of the police action. It was essentially concerned with the dealing of allegations relating to the intelligence inputs which were available with the Central Government and which are shared on a regular basis with the State Governments".

"The primary concern of the Central Government was to see that the inputs gathered by the Indian security agencies and their efforts were not discredited. It should be clear to all such inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the State Government and the State police to act on such inputs.

The Central Government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action," the fresh affidavit said.


26/11 trial: Kasab confessed to magistrate, wanted to inspire others

  A city Magistrate told the 26/11 trial court that prime accused Ajmal Amir Kasab had confessed before her voluntarily, his role in the terror attacks, saying he wanted others to draw inspiration from his confession.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant Vagule said Kasab was produced before her on February 17 where he said he wanted to confess.

He was given 24 hours to reconsider if he wished to confess, she said.

"On February 18, when Kasab was produced again before me, he reiterated that he wanted to confess. He showed no remorse for his crime and told me that he wanted to confess so that others may derive inspiration from his action," Vagule told the Court.

"I also asked him whether there was any promise or force exerted upon him to confess and I also reminded him again that it was not obligatory on his part to confess and also that it would be used against him in the trial for sentencing him," the Magistrate who deposed as a witness told Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nigam.

The Magistrate was examined as a witness because Kasab had retracted his confession saying that he had made it under police duress.

"I also conducted a physical examination on Kasab and found that he had two injuries on his wrist which he said he had sustained during firing in the attacks, the Magistrate said.

Kasab was again given 48-hours to reconsider and was produced before the Magistrate on February 20. He once again reiterated that he wanted to confess voluntarily but since the Court time was over, he was asked to come the next day.

Finally, his confession was recorded on February 21 when he was produced without handcuffs before the Magistrate, the Court was told.

"I enquired from Kasab that whether 48-hours time was sufficient and he said yes. I also enquired whether anybody from the police had met him in the last 48-hours to which he replied in the negative. He was once again reminded that the confession could go against him," the Magistrate told Judge M L Tahiliyani.

"After questioning Kasab, I was satisfied that he was ready to confess without any force and was doing so voluntarily. His confession was then recorded by me," she said.

Since some words were in Urdu, the confession was recorded in question-answer form, she said. All pages have signatures of Kasab and the Magistrate.

The confession of Kasab was shown to the Magistrate and she said that it was the same confession that she had recorded that day.

The move to examine the Magistrate is considered significant because Kasab had retracted his confession in the trial court saying his statement was recorded under duress and that he had not given a voluntary confession.

The Prosecution is relying on confession made by Kasab before the Magistrate and upon the guilt plea made by Kasab mid-way during the trial.

However, in the guilt plea Kasab has not accepted his entire role. For instance, he has admitted to have fired at the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus (CST) but said he was only following the instructions of Abu Ismail who was leading the team.

Kasab has also not admitted in the guilt plea that he had planted a bomb in a taxi and said it was Ismail who had done it. Besides, Kasab denied having fired at slain police officers Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar.

However, in the confession, Kasab had admitted his role in the CST attack, firing at the police officers and planting bomb in the taxi. Therefore, it is important to examine the Magistrate, Nikam had said.

Kasab had also bared the role of Lashkar-e-Taiba in his confession saying that LeT chief Hafeez Muhammed Saeed, the outfit chief of operations Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhavi and its member Abu Hamza had trained the accused in various parts of Pakistan in military exercises and intelligence training.

Kasab had said that Sayeed had told them that time had come for 'jehad' and their ultimate goal of capturing Jammu and Kashmir could be achieved by attacking India.

They were told to go to Mumbai and indiscriminately fire at people killing as many as they could. Mumbai was the target because it is a financial hub and attracts foreign tourists.

The attack, in which over 160 people, including some foreigners were killed, was a proxy war on India and aimed at destabilising the country, Nikam said.

Kasab is involved in seven cases-- murder of crew of marine vessel 'Kuber', including its navigator Amarsingh Solanki, CST firing, Cama Hospital firing, gunning down three police officers, taxi bomb explosion in Vile Parle, theft of Skoda car and a policeman's murder at Chowpatty.

Kasab's team mates, killed by security armed forces, were involved in firing at Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, Leopold Cafe, Nariman House and the taxi bomb blast at Mazgaon. Kasab has been charged with conspiracy in these cases.


Shopian case: HC imposes ban on reporting investigation


Jammu and Kashmir High Court imposed a blanket ban on reporting the investigation part of Shopian rape and murder case.

CBI, which is investigating the case, should not reveal anything to the press, a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammed Yaqoob directed when the case came up for hearing.

17-year-old Aasiya was found dead along with her sister-in-law 22-year-old Neelofar in a stream in Shopian on May 30. Their deaths had led to 47 days of protests in the town with locals alleging that security personnel were responsible for the crime.

The CBI took over the investigation into the case on September 17.



Calcutta HC slaps contempt notice on green card holder


The Calcutta High Court has issued a contempt notice against a Green Card holder in the US after his estranged wife complained that her husband was citing an US court direction over the custody of their child, while not complying with its orders.

Adrija Mukherjee Biswas claimed before the court that her husband Debasish has initiated several proceedings against her in a Pennsylvania court.

Her lawyer Biswajit Basu claimed before the court that since the parties were governed by Indian laws and an Indian court having jurisdiction over the matter passed an order on the custody of the child, the husband by obtaining orders from a US court has committed contempt of the Indian court.

Basu submitted that as the couple was married in India and were citizens of India during the marriage, it was the Indian law which had jurisdiction over the case.

Debasish, originally a resident of South Kolkata, and now working as a computer engineer at Delaware in Pennsylvania, married Adrija under the Special Marriage Act here in 2001.

They went to Delaware after the marriage and had a child in January 2006. However, differences cropped up and following prolonged disputes, Adrija returned to her father's home here with her child.

Adrija filed a case under section 498A (marital torture) and also a matrimonial suit seeking divorce at Alipore district court in Kolkata.

In the suit she prayed that Debasish be not allowed to take the away the child as she was the natural guardian, which the court rejected. Adrija then moved the high court.

Hearing the matter ex parte, Justice Banerjee passed an interim injunction on July nine restraining the husband from taking away the child. Basu said that a copy of the order was mailed to the husband in the US and that it had been received.

He said that following this, Debasish had reportedly initiated proceedings against his wife in the district court in Delaware and had also claimed that she had violated orders in this regard.

Adrija then initiated contempt proceedings against Debasish for trying bypass the Indian judicial process and also attached copies of the proceedings at the Delaware court that the husband had sent to Adrija.


Places of worship: SC bans fresh construction

Our Legal Correspondent
NEW DELHI, 29 SEPT: Taking serious note of rampant encroachment on public land in the name of religion, the Supreme Court today imposed a blanket ban on all new and future constructions of unauthorised religious buildings on public land across the country.
The restriction would apply to temples, mosques, churches, gurdwaras and places of worship of all other communities, a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundakam Sharma said in an interim order.
The Bench passed the direction after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium informed the apex court that the Centre and the states had reached a consensus that there shall be no fresh construction of places of worship at public places.
The Bench said its order would be enforced till the issue relating to construction of places of worship at public places is finally resolved by the apex court.
The apex court also directed various governments of the states to decide the fate of existing places of worship on public land on a "case to case" basis.
The petitioners have contended before the court that criminals, land mafia and anti-social elements exploit the religious sentiments of the people to grab public land through the construction of such places of worship.
Acting on the petition, the apex court on 31 July had directed the Central government to ensure that no place of worship is allowed to come up by encroaching public place. "The solicitor general will file an affidavit to ensure that no temple, church, mosque or gurdwara is constructed on a street or a public space," the Bench had demanded while hearing a lawsuit by the Union government challenging a Gujarat High Court judgment of 2006, ordering the demolition of several places of worship of various faiths that had mushroomed illegally on thoroughfares and other public places.


A win and a prayer

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Sandeep Dwivedi

Posted: Sep 30, 2009 at 0849 hrs IST

There are two contrasting shades when it comes to India-Pakistan cricket. It's either the war-minus-guns rhetoric or the more romanticised brothers-separated-by-partition one. The players from both the sides have repeatedly refrained from giving their take based on prevailing times, but inadvertently, each time Indian and Pakistani cricketers are within striking distance, the background score changes depending on the mood of the spin doctors.

In the lead-up to India's opening game of the Champions Trophy, there was a desperate bid to toss words such as revenge in the mouth of those wearing green, while players in blue were instigated to flex their muscles based on statistical superiority at ICC events.

Within days, there has been a 360 degree twist in the tale. With India now banking on Pakistan to beat Australia to have any chance of progressing to the semi-finals, it has become convenient to portray the arch-rivals as amicable neighbours who regularly call on each other for favours.

At the press conference MS Dhoni addressed before their last group match, there were repeated attempts to depict Younis as a friend who would walk across to the troubled Indian captain and put a hand around him to say 'I am there for you'.

But Dhoni didn't bite. Dhoni was asked what suggestion he would give Younis that would help them beat Australia by a big margin. No luck, as Dhoni said: "He is a good captain, he has a different team."

Another attempt followed: Do you want Pakistan to play their best side?

Dhoni: It's not what we want, it's about what they want to achieve.

As a last ditch effort, even fans were dragged into it: Do you think the Indian fans should support the Pakistan team? Dhoni: It is entirely up to them. Dead end.

Not losing heart, the attempts at getting the perfect quote continued as Younis took Dhoni's position behind the microphone, with the point about fans brought up again.

Younis, taking a neutral stand, gave a stern school teacher-like lecture on the exaggerated hype around India-Pakistan games. "We should stay neutral about these things. They should be there appreciating a good performance. When we (India and Pakistan) played, who was the biggest winner? Cricket. It was the biggest crowd in the tournament," he said.

Impressive Windies

Irrespective of how many are cheering for them though, it will be a big ask for Pakistan to beat Australia, who have lost just one of the last nine one-dayers they have played.

Incidentally, one of the most important variables in the complicated equation are the West Indies; they were also the least discussed. The second-string side, led by Floyd Reifer, have put in two strong performances on the fast and bouncy Wanderers pitch and it's not too far-fetched to imagine their quicks troubling the Indian batsmen. However, the prevailing mood around the venues made it seem like a given that the Windies would not provide too much of a hurdle.

India and Pakistan will be playing one hour away, but for some reason, it almost felt like they were going to be facing off once again.



40,000 sq km under Naxal control, govt tells house panel


on Wednesday that the Red ultras were calling the shots in nearly 40,000 square kilometre area -- mainly parts of the dense forest area in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand -- where the government has virtually no control.

Earlier, home minister P Chidambaram, while addressing police chiefs in a conference on Monday, stated in detail the extent of the menace. He mentioned that over 2,000 police station areas in 223 districts in the affected states were partially or substantially affected by naxalism.

The bare facts about the menace also came up for discussion in the first meeting of Parliament's Standing Committee on home affairs here on Wednesday.

Besides briefing the panel -- headed by BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu -- on naxalism, the home ministry officials also presented before them reports of the overall internal security situation in the country.

Earlier in the day, the home minister, while addressing the concluding session of the three-day DGs' conference, asked the state police chiefs to quickly complete the ongoing Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) in order to increase coordination among various agencies.

The CCTNS project covers all states and Union Territories. The system will provide enhanced tools for investigation, crime prevention, law and order maintenance and other functions like traffic management and emergency response.


Nukes of 200kt yield possible: Architect of Pokhran-II


MUMBAI: R Chidambaram, ex-AEC chief and the architect of the 1998 Pokhran nuclear weapons tests, on Thursday rejected the demand for a peer review
to assess the yield of the thermonuclear bomb saying the Pokhran-II data had already been subjected to several peer reviews.

In fact, Chidambaram said India had the capability to build fission and thermonuclear weapons with yields up to 200 kilotons. Trying to put a damper on the raging controversy on the yield of India's H-bomb, Chidambaram said that due to ''proliferation sensitivity, the design details of the thermonuclear device have not been made public''.

''Considering this, I do not think there is any need of a peer review. It's an unnecessary controversy. Kakodkar and I are saddened that two of our colleagues are raising doubts about the yields,'' he said at a press conference that was also attended by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar and Barc director S Banerjee.

Chidambaram was responding to a demand made by former AEC chief P K Iyengar and former Barc director A N Prasad that there should be a peer review of the thermonuclear test. Iyengar and Prasad were subsequently supported by K Santhanam, a key player in the Pokhran test, who was the first to reveal on August 27, 2009, that the yield of the device was around 25kt and not 45kt as stated by Chidambaram and then scientific adviser A P J Abdul Kalam.
Santhanam, when contacted to respond to Chidambaram's clarification, refused comment.

The thrust of the media briefing held at AEC headquarters in Colaba was that the May 1998 weapons tests were fully successful .

''They have helped us build a nuclear deterrence of different yields. A great deal of further scientific and technical development work has taken place since May 1998. We have published as much data as possible without
releasing proliferation-sensitive information,'' Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said that yield measurements were based mainly on advanced seismology and radio chemistry. ''Radio chemistry has been used in many areas,'' he said.

Dismissing suggestions that computer simulation was no substitute for a real test, Kakodkar said that the biggest gain of these tests was in the area of computer simulation.

What about police behaviour, Mr Chidambaram?


Sounds of war: silent dogs and empty roads
Not barking?
Battle must be brewing

New Delhi, Sept. 29: Sometimes listening for a dog's bark can save more lives in a Maoist zone than a bullet-proof vest.

The dogs always disappear before an attack: the guerrillas know the strays can forewarn the enemy. But the absent dogs can still sound a warning, if only the forces can read the sign in their silence, a senior Orissa police officer told The Telegraph.

It's this ability to observe the little details that look out of place — the hallmark of fictional detectives — that are key to survival in hostile terrain, where even a rustle in the shrubs can portend lurking danger.

The signals are provided mostly by a sudden hush — on the roads because the buses aren't running, at a factory because local employees have vanished before closing time, in the market because shops have shut early.

Or, of course, around the security forces' camp where the dogs haven't turned up for dinner.

Veteran security officials say Maoists and other militants order villagers to kill the dogs or shut them away somewhere for a day or two before a raid. It's a lesson the army has imbibed in Kashmir, and some paramilitary battalions in rebel belts too have taken to feeding leftovers to the dogs to earn their loyalty.

"If you haven't learnt that you need to befriend the local dogs before the local population, the massacres will continue," the Orissa officer said.

They are continuing — with over 130 personnel killed by Maoists this year — because few among the central and state police teams in the jungles of Jharkhand or Orissa have been taught at their training schools to pick up the subtle clues.

Now, the forces are beginning to teach themselves. Feedback from counter-insurgency personnel to their bosses notes that local villagers often buy first-aid material, and drums to store them in, hours before an attack.

Such untaught skills are crucial to survival in battle zones anywhere, a New York Times report says. It quotes a Marine commander in Iraq, Lt Donovan Campbell, about how his platoon escaped a bomb encased in concrete and planted in rubble, about 100 metres from a decoy bomb placed in the middle of the road.

"One of my marines… said, 'That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect'," Campbell said. "Unless you know what rubble in that part of Iraq looks like, there's no way you'd see that."

Similar alertness could have saved police officer B.P. Choubey and 28 of his men, lulled into a sense of security on a Chhattisgarh road they knew was virtually ambush-proof since it passed through a clearing. Choubey had forgotten that BSNL had dug fresh trenches on the flanks to lay telephone wires — ideal spots to plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Nobody at Orissa's R. Udayagiri had noticed the absence of highway traffic, blocked by Maoists 10 hours before the pre-dawn siege of the town in 2006. In Jharkhand, the guerrillas usually block roads 5km either side of the target site.

Nor had anyone at Nalco's Koraput complex cared that 78 casual employees, all local people, had vanished before dinner on April 12 this year. The cost of the oversight: 11 dead CISF men.

Indian police academies say nothing about the importance of noting the small changes in the rhythms of rural life, the oddities in behaviour. Besides, the Indian paramilitary and police are overworked — neuroscientists told the NYT that even the most observant brain would not pick up subtle clues if overwhelmed by stress.

Not all the clues are noted consciously, though, the NYT report says. Some arrive in the form of hunches or a gut feeling, for instance, of extra tension in the air. As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

Sgt Don Gomez felt "very creepy" on a deserted Baghdad road — trash was heaped in a spot where he had never seen it before. Later, the explosives team found a bomb.

Sgt Edward Tierney, leading a nine-man patrol in Mosul, saw a parked car, facing opposite traffic, windows rolled up. Two young boys stared out of the back window, faces leaning together.

It was hot and a soldier sought permission to approach the car and offer the boys some water.

"I said no — no," Tierney said. He had an urge to move back before he knew why: "My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling."

Within seconds a bomb exploded, wounding the soldier and probably killing the boys.

Tierney often wonders what tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location, or the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of this.

"I can't point to one thing," he said. "I just had that feeling… when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it's not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is."

Bofors ghost to be buried

New Delhi, Sept. 29: The "phantom of Bofors" looks set for a legal burial with the government informing the Supreme Court today that it had decided to withdraw the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium told a bench headed by the Chief Justice that all efforts had failed to extradite Quattrocchi, an accused in the two-decade-old case relating to alleged payment of Rs 64 crore as commission in the Swedish Howitzer deal.

He said the CBI had decided to close the case by also taking into account a Delhi High Court judgment that held no case of corruption could be made out in the Bofors deal.

Subramanium said the government came to the decision after taking into account all the facts of the case.

The solicitor-general's statement in the court came under immediate attack from the BJP and the lawyer who is pursuing the Bofors case in the Supreme Court.

The Congress said the "phantom of Bofors" stood no legal scrutiny despite being repeatedly raised by the Opposition. "It is a good step, though taken rather late. The Opposition has been bringing out the phantom of Bofors from the cupboard and slaying it again and again for the past 23 years," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

He said whenever the issue went to any court in India or abroad, it could not withstand legal scrutiny. "It's time that the era of character assassination is brought to an end," he said.

The BJP said the Congress government was bailing Quattrocchi out as he "knows too much". Citing earlier instances when the UPA government had allegedly helped the Italian businessman, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "The CBI was not allowed to file an appeal against the court order passed in 2005. In Argentina, an order was passed refusing extradition to Quattrocchi but no appeal was allowed to be filed again."

"Quattrocchi has been treated by this government as a son-in-law of this country," said advocate Ajay Agrawal, who had moved the apex court in January 2006, against defreezing Quattrocchi's bank account in London.

Quattrocchi, 69, is the sole accused in the case after Delhi High Court on May 31, 2005, quashed charges against the other accused. Quattrocchi has not appeared before Indian courts.

The solicitor-general, who objected to the description of Quattrocchi as "son-in-law", said a call had to be taken for the closure of the case.

The CBI and the Centre took into consideration the February 4, 2004, verdict of the high court which held there was not a rubble of evidence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Rift hint in Mahato quiz

Midnapore, Sept. 29: Chhatradhar Mahato has told his interrogators that he had been sidelined in the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities by hardliners who want Maoist involvement, police claimed.

"Chhatradhar told us that when the tribal agitation started in November last year, he wanted it to be peaceful and independent. But gradually he lost his earlier grip on the movement as some of the hardliners wanted militant action with the Maoists. Inner squabbles started. So, it was the Maoists who gradually got a greater hold on the movement," a police officer said.

The police have also come to know that he was against indefinite strikes in the tribal belt as it inconvenienced common people.

The tribal leader, however, has not given the names of villagers providing shelter to Maoist leaders Kishanji and Bikash.

The police are also asking him about local youths in the tribal belt of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia who have received guerrilla training from the rebels. "So far, we have not been able to get much information from him," the officer said.

Mamata looks to Centre to topple Left

Calcutta, Sept. 29: Mamata Banerjee today said she would request the Centre to "immediately topple the CPM-led government" in Bengal for "unleashing state-sponsored terrorism".

"Enough is enough. I am losing my patience. The CPM has been on a killing spree even during festival days across Bengal in connivance with some policemen. Something has to be done to put an end to the state-sponsored terrorism," she said.

"I want the Centre to intervene immediately to topple the CPM-led government that has throttled democracy by letting loose anarchy and lawlessness."

The immediate provocation seems to be the killings of at least a dozen party activists in different places across the state since September 22, which was Sashthi.

"See, how my people are getting killed by CPM men even during festive days. It's a shame for the administration because when the chief minister is busy holidaying at Maithon, his nandi-bhiringi are targeting innocent people," she said, reeling off the names of those killed.

Mamata argued that central intervention was necessary because parliamentary democracy and internal security were at stake in Bengal.

The Trinamul Congress chief said she was in "constant touch" with the Union home ministry. "I shall submit a detailed list of people who got killed by CPM cadres to Chidambaramji when I meet him in Delhi," she said.

Trinamul sources said Mamata, who leaves for the capital tomorrow, has already set up an appointment with P. Chidambaram, the home minister. She has also given an update about the development to Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

PM pins Maharaja to hot seat
- Govt stalls Air India shutdown plan, issues ultimatum to pilots

New Delhi, Sept. 29: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened tonight to stop the Maharaja from declaring an unprecedented shutdown at the state-owned, loss-laden airline but the government still talked tough by ordering the striking executive pilots to return to work after a four-day agitation or face unspecified action.

Air India was forced to cancel all its flights in the morning and suspend ticket bookings for the next 15 days as 200 of its 1,200 pilots called in sick in protest against deep pay cuts. In Calcutta, 10 flights were cancelled, affecting passengers travelling after the Puja holidays.

Official sources said the airline had readied plans to declare a shutdown after executive pilots reported sick four days in a row in protest against the 70 per cent cut in productivity-linked incentives (PLI) that make up the bulk of their pay packets.

However, Singh stopped the airline from activating the drastic plan.

The Prime Minister and civil aviation minister Praful Patel directed the top brass to make all efforts to keep the state-owned airline operational.

Earlier in the day, Singh had reviewed the situation with civil aviation secretary Madhavan Nambiar and cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar. Air India's chairman-cum-managing director Arvind Jadhav was also present.

Patel held out an olive branch to the striking pilots, adding that the pay cuts had not been implemented and could be discussed after they returned to work.

"There is no pay cut as of now for the executive pilots. The decision will not be implemented without consulting the pilots," Patel said. "Please co-operate and join your duties."

The executive pilots spurned the minister's appeal and said they would return to work only after an unambiguous assurance from the authorities that there would be no pay cuts.

However, more trouble loomed as check engineers — the highest-paid engineers at the airline who face a similar prospect of a 70 per cent cut in their allowances — also struck work.

Patel warned: "I hope the entire airline will come back to full operation from tomorrow, failing which the management will be free to take any decision that it feels is necessary."

Sources said the airline had set a midnight deadline for the resumption of work and would crack down on the striking pilots after that.

"We are not resuming work tomorrow," said a defiant Captain V.K. Bhalla, who is spearheading the agitation.

The pilot protest has led to the cancellation of over 230 flights over the past four days, with 80 being called off today.

Bhalla accused the Air India brass of trying to prolong the stand-off to try and help rival private airlines that have also been badly roiled by the effects of a sharp economic slowdown over the past year. The airline rubbished the charge.

Civil aviation secretary Nambiar met officials of private airlines and asked them to accommodate Air India's stranded passengers. He also asked them not to take advantage of the situation and raise fares — a situation that arose last month when pilots at Jet Airways launched a strike.

Jadhav said Air India's PLI expenditure had ballooned to an unsustainable level of Rs 1,500 crore in the past two years. Half of this amount goes to cockpit and cabin crew and the other half is paid out to the other 26,000 employees.

The agitation was sparked off as the airline, which has racked up accumulated losses of Rs 7,200 crore, devised a restructuring plan designed to pare costs in order to qualify for government-backed loan guarantees and a fresh infusion of capital.

"We understand that no one wants to see a cut in take-home emoluments," said Patel. "But at the same time, it is imperative to understand that Air India in its current form cannot absorb the high cost structure."

The restructuring plan involves a mix of pay cuts, route rationalisation and fleet optimisation strategies.

Rs 950cr on way to save forest land

Jamshedpur, Sept. 29: Jharkhand is all set to get Rs 950 crore from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (Campa) to rejuvenate over 4,000 hectares of forests as a part of a nation-wide effort to promote afforestation in areas where forest land was used up for development projects.

In Jharkhand, 4,700 hectares of land, mostly in districts of Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Giridih and Chatra, have been identified for various afforestation programmes, the proposal for which has already been sent to the Union ministry of environment and forests.

"We hope to get a notification soon," said C.R. Sahay, the principal chief conservator of forests, who will be co-ordinating the programme in the state.

"Work should start from October or November. Of course we will have to seek the approval of a number of authorities in between, after which the money will come to the state Campa account," he added.

The regeneration project in the districts would concentrate on compensatory afforestation in double degraded land, safety zone reclamation around a 7.5-metre radius of a mining area, catchment area treatment and tree plantation below transmission lines.

Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2008, was introduced by the Union ministry of environment and forests to streamline efforts at regenerating forests by setting up Campa which would be responsible for managing the fund and deciding on issues such as compensation or identifying land for afforestation.

One of the main objectives of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, was to promote afforestation to compensate for the massive diversion of forestland for development.

But with states having failed miserably in regenerating forests, the Supreme Court in 2002 asked the Centre to set up a separate compensatory fund. From 2002, states have been contributing to the fund that has so far remained with the Centre.

This money will now go back to the states in phases for conducting afforestation programmes. The first tranche will be around 10 per cent of the corpus.

The total amount to be disbursed — via a central ad hoc Campa — for all states was around Rs 11,000 crore.

States would also have its own Campa with a governing, steering and executive committee through which the funds would be channelled. And in order to keep a check on its use, the Centre has formed an advisory council to be headed by Jairam Ramesh, the Union minister of state for environment and forests.

The comptroller and auditor-general of India will undertake audits both at the Centre and at the state ensuring proper utilisation of funds.

KLNLF suspends ethnic cleansing

Nagaon, Sept. 29: The Karbi militant outfit, Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), today announced the "suspension" of its operations against "Hindi-speaking people" in the "greater interest of peace and development".

The declaration will come as a great relief for the large number of Hindi-speaking people based in Karbi Anglong. The outfit has killed as many as 30 Hindi-speaking people and torched hundreds of houses in a series of attacks in 2007.

KLNLF publicity secretary Rezek Dera said the outfit was committed to peace and therefore will wait for a positive response from the government to its offer for talks.

Dera, who spoke to The Telegraph over telephone from an undisclosed location, said as the outfit was "moving towards democratic negotiations of our demands" its leadership felt that all types of operations, either on Hindi-speaking people or attacks on government property, should be stopped.

"Our two-month deadline for the government to respond to our ceasefire offer will end on Wednesday. We would like to wait and watch for some more time as we resolve to refrain from bloodshed."

Earlier, the militant group had said it would launch massive operations against the Hindi-speaking people living in the Karbi areas from October if the government "did not show sincerity" to its offer of political dialogue.

The outfit had also ruled out surrender of arms in the name of ceasefire.

Dera today said the condition of "arms surrender" could be negotiated "if and only if both Delhi and Dispur gave serious, sincere and fait-hful assurance to discuss the outfit's main demand of a separate homeland for Karbis".

"We will surrender arms but for that the Centre and state will have to give us assurance that our self-ruled homeland (Hemprek Kanthim) issue will be seriously considered," Dera said.

A leader of an organisation representing Hindi-speaking people in the district said, "Nobody wants a revival of the 2007 bloodbath."

With a population of more than 50,000, the Hindi-speaking people play a big role in the socio-economic as well as the political sphere of Karbi Anglong. These migrants usually work in sugarcane fields in the western part of the district.

The KLNLF emerged in 2001 as a faction of the United People's Democratic Solidarity, led jointly by Harsing Timung and Wilingson Timung who refused to accept the ceasefire.

The faction, which was initially called the UPDS (anti-talks), later took on the name of KLNLF.

The organisation established a working relationship with the 27 battalion of Ulfa and carried out a series of attacks in the district.

The KLNLF had called a unilateral ceasefire for 75 days from January this year and also sought a political solution to their demands.

Indo-US defence drill off

New Delhi, Sept. 29: A dozen officers of the armed forces preparing to go for a joint drill with the US were left red-faced after their trip to Japan was cancelled, an action that has raised questions on where the India-US military-to-military relations that have intensified over the last five years were headed.

The officers — eight from the navy, three from the army and one from the air force — were called to New Delhi from their separate stations across the country. They were preparing for the last 10 days in the capital.

The armed forces had got an "in-principle" approval for the exercise — an annual feature — last December, a navy source said. But a defence ministry source said, "the file for the requisite permissions was not moved in time".

The source added that the defence ministry had "cleared it". For international military exercises the armed forces also have to take clearances from the finance and external affairs ministries. The personnel involved are also checked and cleared by the Intelligence Bureau.

The failure of the armed forces to send a team to a regular annual drill immediately cast doubts on claims that India-US military relations were being strengthened. This was because there were other drills that could not be held this year.

In April, a contingent of the US naval special forces — called Seals — had reached Goa for an exercise with the Indian Navy's Marine Commandos. Five days before the drill was to start the armed forces were asked to defer it. The move annoyed Pentagon.

In another case, after the permission for a drill was given at the last minute, a US officer told his counterpart: "I believe you guys in Delhi also reach late for your own wedding."

An India-China army exercise (named "Hand in Hand"), said to be annual event since December 2007, has also been dropped from this year's calendar.

Exercise Habu Nag, the drill for which the 12 officers were preparing, was to be held in Okinawa, Japan. Last year the exercise was held in Visakhapatnam — the third since it was initiated.

Defence ministry sources are quick to refute insinuations that the India-US military relationship was hitting stumbling blocks. They point to two major exercises scheduled in October. The latest in the series of Cope India — an air forces and paratroopers drill — is slated to be held in Agra from October 19 to 24.

Coinciding with it, the latest version of Exercise Yudh Abhyas is to be held near Babina. In scale and scope both these exercises are much bigger than Habu Nag. For Cope India, the US air force is deploying a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift transport aircraft, a C-130J Super Hercules and threeC-130H transport aircraft.

The Indian Air Force complement includes an IL-76 heavy lifter, four AN-32 transporters and two Mi-17 helicopters. For Yudh Abhyas, the US is deploying a big contingent of Stryker vehicles for the drill with the Indian army's armoured corps. The Stryker deployment will be the largest by the US military outside Iraq and Afghanistan.


IMF cuts crisis losses prediction

Dollar notes
The IMF says the risks to the financial system have subsided

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for the amount likely to be written off globally in bad loans and investments by 15%.

The total it expects banks to lose between 2007 and 2010 has been cut to $3.4tn (£2.1tn) from $4tn.

The IMF said the change was made because the world economy was growing faster than had been expected.

But it has warned that the improvement should not be taken as an excuse to delay necessary financial reforms.

Its Global Financial Stability Report said that risks to the global financial system had subsided as a result of interventions by governments and central banks, as well as signs of a global recovery.

Not strong enough

"We are on the road to recovery, but this does not mean that risks have disappeared," said Jose Vinals from the IMF.

Its report also warned that banks overall had recognised slightly less than half of their losses, with US banks more advanced in the process than their counterparts in the UK and the eurozone, meaning there is still a great deal of bad news to come.

It said that bank balance sheets had been stabilising, but that banks were not yet in a strong enough position to support the economic recovery.

It based this on the prediction that even the growing earnings expected from banks in the next 18 months would not be enough to offset the amount they would have to write off because of bad loans and investments.

The report is published the day before the IMF's World Economic Outlook, which is expected to revise upwards its forecast for global economic growth in 2010 from 2.5% to 3%.

The IMF warned of the dangers of complacency as signs of economic recovery emerge.

It called on governments to press ahead with reforming their financial systems, including:

  • Forcing banks to keep more cash in reserve
  • Widening regulation to all institutions which could threaten economies if they failed and making sure they are paying for the risks that they take
  • Coming up with regulatory systems that are unaffected by the peaks and troughs of the economic cycle
  • Improving international co-operation to help deal with businesses that operate globally.

India withdraws Bofors graft case

Ottavio Quattrocchi
Mr Quattrocchi has always maintained his innocence

India has dropped a graft case against an Italian businessman accused over an arms scandal which ended Rajiv Gandhi's prime ministership 20 years ago.

The government told the Supreme Court the case against Ottavio Quattrocchi was being withdrawn.

The opposition BJP condemned the decision, it said the government was shielding the Italian businessman.

He was accused in the Bofors corruption case. In April India withdrew his name from the Interpol "wanted list".

"The central government has consented for withdrawal of the prosecution of Quattrocchi," Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

"We have to take a call on the matter and the government has taken a call after considering all aspects," he said.

Mr Subramanium said India's top investigating agency, the CBI, had taken the decision to close the case by also taking into account the Delhi high court judgement of 2004 which had held that no case of corruption was made out in the Bofors deal.


The opposition BJP has criticised the government for dropping the case against Mr Quattrocchi.

"Every attempt has been made by the government to shield him, which is highly condemnable and is a blot on the face of this government," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Bofors gun
Illegal commissions were allegedly paid on the Bofors guns

The Bofors case has been one of the highest-profile and longest-running criminal investigations in India.

It involved the Swedish firm AB Bofors, which was alleged to have paid $1.3bn in bribes over the sale of 400 howitzers to India in 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister.

The Bofors issue is extremely sensitive politically for the governing Congress party as Mr Quattrocchi was known to be a friend of party leader Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who is Italian-born.

Mr Quattrocchi was allegedly the intermediary in the Bofors deal and received $7m in bribes and other illegal payments.

Indian investigators have tried unsuccessfully for much of the past decade to get Mr Quattrocchi extradited to India.

The Italian businessman has always denied any involvement, arguing he was the victim of a political vendetta in India.

The case contributed to the election defeat of Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, two years before he was assassinated.

In 2004, he was posthumously cleared of any wrongdoing in the deal.


India wants suspect extradited
02 Mar 07 |  South Asia
India court pressure over suspect
26 Feb 07 |  South Asia
India arms scandal suspect 'held'
23 Feb 07 |  South Asia
Bofors accused empties accounts
23 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Hindujas acquitted in Bofors case
31 May 05 |  South Asia
Hinduja brothers: Wealthy and reclusive
31 May 05 |  South Asia
Q&A: Hinduja Bofors case
31 May 05 |  South Asia
Rajiv Gandhi cleared over bribery
04 Feb 04 |  South Asia

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Deadly tsunamis strike in Pacific


Amateur video of the tsunami aftermath in American Samoa

Tsunamis triggered by a strong quake in the South Pacific have killed more than 100 people across a number of islands.

At least 77 people were reported dead in Samoa, more than 25 in American Samoa and at least six in Tonga.

Samoan officials say whole villages have been destroyed while hundreds of people are reported to have been made homeless in American Samoa.

An 8.3-magnitude quake struck at 1748 GMT on Tuesday, generating 15ft (4.5m) waves in some areas of the islands.

The Samoa islands comprise two separate entities - the nation of Samoa and American Samoa, a US territory. The total population is about 250,000.

A general tsunami warning was issued for the wider South Pacific region but was cancelled a few hours later.

Samoan PM Tuila'epe Sailele Malielegaoi said the latest death toll there was 77, including four overseas visitors, with 150 more people being treated in hospital.

He said he was shocked at the devastation.

"So much has gone. So many people are gone," he told Australia's AAP news agency.

US President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in American Samoa, enabling federal funding to made available to help victims.

False alarm

"Some of the areas are only a few feet above sea level, so you can imagine the devastation," said Eni Faleomavaega, who represents American Samoa in the US.

Flood damage in Fagatogo, American Samoa (30 Sept 2009)
High waves damaged property and swept cars out to sea

"It caused severe damage to property, there are cars floating everywhere."

Mr Faleomavaega told the BBC the waves had "literally wiped out all the low-lying areas in the Samoan islands".

He said the tsunami had hit within minutes of the quake, leaving people with no time to escape.

"There would have been no warning system capable of giving adequate warning to the people," he said.

Samoa's Deputy PM Misa Telefoni told AAP that "the ocean went out within five minutes".

"With the location and the intensity... I don't know if anything better could have been done."

Officials at the Samoa Meteorology Division said many of those who died were killed by a second wave after they went to gather fish that had been washed up after the first.

The water was swirling like a spa pool outwards [towards] the rim of the lagoon and in a few seconds the water sunk
Ula Osasa-Mano


Sirens reportedly blared out across the Samoan capital, Apia, again late on Tuesday but the warning was thought to be a false alarm.

Dr Lemalu Fiu, at a hospital in Apia, said the number of casualties was expected to rise as people arrived from coastal areas.

Mr Telefoni said there were fears the major tourism areas on the west side of Upolu island had been badly hit.

"We've had a pretty grim picture painted of all that coast," he said.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed the death of two Australians - a six-year-old girl and a 50-year-old woman.

Both Australia and New Zealand are preparing to send emergency aid.

Samoan officials say it could take a week before the full extent of the damage is known.

A government official in Tonga said at least six people had been killed and four more were missing.

Beaches gone

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) said the quake struck at a depth of 33km (20 miles), some 190km (120 miles) from Apia in Samoa.

American Samoa governor Togiola Tulafono on the tsunami aftermath

Radio New Zealand quoted Samoan residents as saying that villages were inundated and homes and cars swept away.

Graeme Ansell, a New Zealander near Apia, told the radio station the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale had been "wiped out".

"There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need around here," he said.

Witnesses have reported scenes of destruction.

"It's horrible... The village is gone and my once beautiful beachfront villa has now been submerged in water," Josh Nayangu told the BBC after fleeing the area on a small fishing boat with his wife and son.


Flooding in Kon Tum province in the Central Highlands, Vietnam (29 September 2009)
Many of the deaths in Vietnam came in the Central Highlands

The powerful typhoon that has hit the Philippines and Vietnam with deadly force is now battering Cambodia.

At least nine people have died in Kampong Thom province in central Cambodia.

When Typhoon Ketsana hit Vietnam, more than 30 people were killed and almost 200,000 people fled their homes; severe flooding remains in central provinces.

In the Philippines, where the typhoon hit over the weekend, at least 246 people are known to have died.

Relief officials in the Philippines, struggling to feed and shelter hundreds of thousands of displaced people, admit they have been overwhelmed by the disaster.

They warn that new storms are heading towards the country.

Cambodia caught

In Vietnam, Ketsana hit with torrential rains and winds of more than 150km/h before it headed inland towards northern Cambodia and southern Laos.

Typhoons usually weaken on reaching land, but Ketsana is still dangerous, officials said.

"At least nine people were crushed last night when their house fell down," said Chea Cheat, chief of the Red Cross office in Kampong Thom province, about 130 km (80 miles) north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

He added that at least 78 houses in his province were destroyed and that heavy rain and rising floods were continuing.

International organisations and government officials in Cambodia said they were distributing tents and food to affected people while assessing damage across at least five of the country's provinces.

Vietnam floods

The BBC's Guy De Launey in Phnom Penh said that Ketsana had been devastating when it headed toward the city of Danang, on central Vietnam's coast.

The airport and schools were closed. Railways and roads linking north and south Vietnam were cut off. Danang airport has since reopened.

The biggest floods in decades now threaten Vietnam's central provinces, correspondents said, with thousands of homes inundated with water.

Vietnamese state media reported that at least 33 people had died from floods and landslides in seven coastal and central highland provinces, and river waters in Quang Nam provinces could reach a level last seen in 1964.

Around 170,000 people were evacuated before the typhoon made landfall.

Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said late on Tuesday that he hoped power supplies would be restored quickly, particularly to Quang Ngai province where Vietnam's first oil refinery, Dung Quat, was due to reopen after an outage shut the plant's test runs last month.


People try to get aid in Marikina City (29 September 2009)


In the Philippines, the government said it now believed 246 people had died after the storm struck on Saturday, a figure that is expected to rise as mud is cleared from the worst affected areas.

Almost two million people were affected by the flooding in Manila, the worst to hit the city in 40 years. At one point, 80% of the city was submerged.

Ketsana, with winds of up to 100km/h (60mph), hit the Philippines early on Saturday, crossing the main northern Luzon island before heading out toward the South China Sea. Officials say more than 40cm (16in) of rain fell on Manila within 12 hours, exceeding the average for the whole month of September.

Meanwhile forecasters said a new storm forming in the Pacific Ocean was likely to enter Philippine waters on Thursday and make landfall later on the northern island of Luzon.

Typhoon leaves 31 dead in Vietnam
29 Sep 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippine flood death toll rises
29 Sep 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippine floods test rescuers
28 Sep 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippines battles flood chaos
27 Sep 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Philippines floods
28 Sep 09 |  Have Your Say
In pictures: Philippines floods
26 Sep 09 |  In Pictures
Animated guide: Typhoon
25 Aug 05 |  Science & Environment


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Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 10:45 UK

Tsunami damage in Pago Pago, American Samoa
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