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Monday, August 30, 2010

Saffron terrorism: PM should apologise to people, says Modi

30 Aug 2010

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought an apology from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for use of the term 'saffron terrorism' by the home minister.

'The post of the Prime Minister has been devalued and he has become helpless as someone else is in control of the administration,' Modi said at a public function here.

Criticising home minister P Chidambaram for using the term 'saffron terrorism', Modi said, 'it is the height of misfortune that the Union minister has demeaned the chair which was once held by the Iron man of India, Sardar Patel.'

'Is not there a saffron flag on a temple? Would you call it a centre of terrorist activity? Swami Vivekanand, Dayanand Saraswati, Shankracharya, Swami Ramdas and others who have sacrificed for the country wore saffron clothes. Are you calling them terrorist?' Modi asked.

'Every Congressmen will have to answer this. And the Prime Minister has to apologies to the people of the country for this,' the chief minister added.

Modi said saffron colour is an integral part of Indian tradition. 'By conning the term 'saffron terrorism', the home minister has caused insult to the Indian heritage,' he said.

Attacking the Congress on the alleged misuse of CBI against him, Modi said one cannot make place in people's heart through CBI.

Modi also dared the Congress-led UPA government to compete with Gujarat on the development front.

'The Union government had the country, entire administration and crores of rupees at its disposal. I dare the Union government that despite of all this, Gujarat will be far ahead if there was a competition,' he said.

He said those bent on demeaning Gujarat will be taught lesson by the people themselves.

The chief minister, today dedicated number of project to the people which included a recreation centre, water pumping and distribution station, a sports and commercial complex, a Sardar Patel Heritage Hall and Zonal office of New western zone of the city to name a few.

Modi speaking at a function in Vadodara on Sunday also had demanded an apology from the Prime Minister on the 'saffron terrorism' issue.

India evaluating Chinese stand

NEW DELHI: The government of India is evaluating a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Defence denying that military exchanges with India were suspended. “We will see what that means. For now, defence exchanges have been put on hold from our side. There are no exercises on the anvil,” said government sources.

However, meetings between border personnel would continue, as they are an integral part of the confidence building measures along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Officials said on Friday that India was putting on hold all military exchanges with China, including high-level visits after Beijing denied visa to the Army's Northern Command chief, B.S. Jaswal.

The sources indicated that diplomats from both sides would get down to sorting out differences over this issue, which officials are linking to stapled visas given by China to Indians with passports issued in Jammu & Kashmir on grounds that the State was a “disputed territory.''

At the same time, the officials pointed out that defence exchanges were a small dimension of the larger relationship with China.

The controversy arose while officials from both sides were working on a proposal to send senior Army officers to China. New Delhi was informed about a month ago that it was not possible to take the visit forward because Gen. Jaswal's area of responsibility was such that it caused “difficulties.''

The officials said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir was “candidly discussed'' with China on several occasions and, felt “there was little point'' in taking forward military exchanges in view of the stand taken in Gen. Jaswal's case.

“Modest ties”

The sources described defence ties with China as “modest'' with a “not very ambitious architecture.'' But it had led to the absence of tension on the border, though both sides have differing interpretation of the LAC at several places.

“When we talk of defence ties with China, this incident should not be taken up in isolation. Defence ties were built up over two decades since the December 1988 visit by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Except for one incident in the 80s, there has been no confrontation on the border,'' the sources added.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Diplomatic row between India and China

28 Aug 2010

New Delhi: In a major diplomatic row, defence exchanges between India and China have been put on hold after the latter refused permission to Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal to visit that country because he comes from 'sensitive' Jammu and Kashmir Gen Jaswal was to visit China in July as part of defence exchanges but it could not take place in view of the Chinese objection, sources said here today. In retaliation, India has put on hold visits by Chinese defence officials here.
The visit by a General-rank officer to China was agreed upon between the two countries in January during the Annual Defence Dialogue, the sources said. However, at that time it was not decided as to who will be sent by India, they said.

When India conveyed its decision to send Gen Jaswal, China wrote back saying that he came from 'sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir' and that 'people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa', the sources said. The Chinese side suggested that India may send some other officer and not cancel the visit. The sources said the Chinese objection came close to the visit and so the matter could not be resolved and the trip could not take place. 'I am told that the visit to China has been postponed for a while. I am not aware of why it is being delayed,' Gen Jaswal said. In Hyderabad, Defence Minister A K Antony ruled out snapping defence ties with China in the wake of the row. 'It is not the question of breaking defence ties with China. We have close ties with China, though they could be some problems occasionally,' he told reporters at a function.

Antony said short term problems would not affect overall approach towards China. Commenting on the development, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said the visit did not take place 'due to certain reasons' but did not elaborate. He, however, made it clear that China needed to be sensitive to India's concerns. 'While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each others concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing,' he said. Upset over Beijing's action, New Delhi has kept in abeyance permission to two Chinese defence officials to come here for undertaking a course at the National Defence College. A pending visit by Indian military officials to China has also
been put off by India. Political parties slammed the Chinese action, saying it was an 'insult' to India and asked the government to take up the issue strongly. 'We must strongly condemn the Chinese step. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Government must immediately convey our displeasure in the strongest terms to China. It is the worst kind of insult inflicted upon India by denying permission to Jaswal to visit China,' BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said. 'We have an important, multifaceted and complex relationship with the People's Republic of China,' the MEA spokesman said.

'Our interaction has been growing in a number of areas, including defence. In recent years, we have had useful defence exchanges at various levels,' he said.Javdekar said it should be made clear to China unequivocally that Kashmir is not a disputed area and is an integral part of India. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said India has always maintained that it is interested in strengthening and consolidating relations with China but the 'relationship has to be premised on self-respect and the sensitivities which concern each other.' Tewari said if there is any 'unilateral violation' of the same,
'any reaction that happens in the country is natural and justified and it should happen.'

Toeing the Pakistani line, China in the recent past has been refusing to issue visas to people from Jammu and Kashmir on their passports as it treats the state as 'disputed'. Instead, it issues visas on loose sheets of paper, which is not accepted by Indian immigration officials. Javadekar said China has always fomented trouble in Arunachal Pradesh and they have now begun fishing in troubled waters in Kashmir. 'This is helping Pakistan.'Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh asked the Government to take a 'firm stand' on the issue. 'He (Jaswal) was going on a function which was not private. I think the government of India has to take a very firm and completely unambiguous stand on the issue,' he said. Tewari expressed confidence that the MEA would do whatever is required to be done. 'That is for the MEA to work out what are the best modalities to raise it. I am sure the foreign office is cognisant of it and will do whatever is required to be done,' he said, when asked whether the party would demand the government raise the issue with China seriously. Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur old reporters outside the Parliament House that government had taken a strong view of the issue.PTI

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sohrab case: Johri accuses CBI of pressurising her

28 Aug 2010

New Delhi:In a new turn in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, senior Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Geetha Johri has accused the CBI of pressurising her to implicate some political leaders, including arrested BJP leader Amit Shah.

In a curative petition filed with the apex court, she has sought the removal of Balwinder Singh, CBI's Special Director who is supervising the investigation into the case, and said he be made a witness in it.

Johri accused CBI of pressurising her to implicate some politicians, including Gujarat's former minister of state for Home Amit Shah who has already been arrested in connection with the killing of Sheikh in a fake encounter with police in Ahmedabad in 2005.

She alleged she had been asked by CBI to depose in a particular manner in the case and that her personal assistant was threatened by CBI.

Army visa row: India summons Chinese envoy

Aug 27, 2010

New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs on Friday hit back at China after it denied visa to a senior Indian Army General stationed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The MEA summoned China's ambassador to India to register its displeasure over the entire controversy. According to sources India has put off all military exchanges, including scheduled visit by a Chinese military delegation, till the issue is resolved.

China had demanded that India drop Northern Command chief Lt Gen B S Jaswal from the list of military officials visiting China. Earlier, the Communist Republic had played the Kashmir card by objecting to the inclusion of Indian Army's Northern Command Chief in a delegation, saying the officer oversees Jammu and Kashmir which according to Beijing is a disputed area.

However, Defence Minister AK Antony on Friday clarified that India will not break ties with China over the ongoing visa row.

"There is no question of breaking defence ties with China. Occasionally, there will be some problems but that will not affect the broader approach. Defence ties will continue," Antony said.

India to suspend defence exchanges with China

As Beijing refuses to host Lt. Gen. Jaswal

NEW DELHI: India has decided to suspend defence exchanges with China following Beijing's refusal to allow the Army's Northern Command chief, Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal to join a military delegation for a high-level visit.

In retaliation, India has refused to allow two Chinese Army captains to attend a defence course and a colonel to speak at a higher defence course. While border meetings between Army personnel will continue as before, a cloud hangs over future military exchanges and even a joint exercise. It will remain so until China “unties the knot it has tied,” said senior officials.

Pointing out that India's sensitivities on Kashmir are similar to China's on Tibet, the sources said China questioning the State's status by resorting to this move was unacceptable. “There is little point in taking forward other exchanges in the defence area,” added the officials.

A senior official found it strange that while China had hosted the Army's Eastern Command chief (now the Chief of the Army Staff) even though it has claims on large parts under his military jurisdiction, it objected to the visit of the Northern Command chief even though the main discord over territory is between India and Pakistan. “It appears that Pakistan's interests are more important than their own. They seem to be more sensitive to Pakistan's concerns.”

“While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each other's concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Vishnu Prakash.

Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan met Foreign Office officials but sources denied that the refusal of visa to Lt. Gen. Jaswal was discussed.

Last year, India protested against the Chinese practice of issuing visas to Kashmiris on separate pieces of paper.

Asked if India would retaliate in other areas, the sources said it was not a question of tit for tat. “We have a complex relationship with China. We have taken stock of the situation and stated our position as clearly as we did in the case of stapled visas.”

Expressing themselves in favour of continuing with the dialogue in a wide range of areas, the sources noted that despite ups and downs in the relationship, both sides acted with maturity and were able to keep the discussions going.

Hoping that the controversy would have a “short life,” the sources said that until the boundary question was resolved, such exchanges would help build confidence among the defence establishments. “There is a degree of comfort in communicating after defence officials meet each other. It helps in improving the general atmosphere,” added officials.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Madani arrested, brought to Bangalore; sent to police custody

August 17, 2010

Kollam, Kerala: Abdul Nasar Madani, accused in the 2008 Bangalore blasts case was produced before a magistrate in Bangalore late on Tuesday night. He was sent to police custody till August 26. Madani was arrested in Kollam on Tuesday after a week of drama and suspense.

His supporters were clearly outnumbered by the more than 800 Kerala policemen who had been deployed to facilitate the arrest.

When Madani knew his arrest was imminent he hurriedly called a press conference where he announced his decision to finally surrender before the law.

"I will surrender before a magistrate court but if the police arrest me before that, I am ready for it," he said.

And the actual arrest happened as Madani was heading for the Magistrate's court. Emotional scenes followed with Madani's supporters weeping as their leader was taken away.

With Madani finally in Karnataka police custody, there was a sense of relief.

"I would like to convey my appreciation to Karnataka Police for pursuing this case seriously. I would also like to thank the Kerala government for their cooperation in the matter. Karnataka government will continue our effort to contain such anti social elements," Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said.

Karnataka Police say they have a good case against him; Madani himself maintains his innocence and he has not given up the legal battle.

The hearing is going on in High Court and Madani wants the chargesheet against him quashed. The next hearing on that issue is on Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

US jobs will not go to China, India, Germany: Obama

August 10th, 2010

The US President, Mr Barack Obama, has said that America had returned to robust competitiveness and the danger of jobs and industries fleeing to countries like China, India or Germany was over. "When I took office, we put in place a new economic plan that rewards hard work instead of greed; a plan that rewards responsibility instead of reckless; a plan that focused on our middle class, (and) making them more secure," Mr Obama said at a Democratic Fund Raiser in Austin, Texas. The US President said that the US "was competitive over the long run so the jobs and industries of the future weren’t going to China or India or Germany, but were going to the United States of America, right here." Gradually entering into an election mode with the mid-term elections less than three months ago, the US President has been frequently in his public speeches claiming how his policies are aimed towards stopping outsourcing of jobs and manufacturing. Instead of spending money on special interest tax loopholes that don't create American jobs, we said we're going to make smart investments in education and innovation and clean energy that will benefit all people and our entire economy, he said. "Instead of giving special interests free rein to write their own regulations, we demanded new accountability from Washington to Wall Street so that big corporations had to play by the same rules as small companies and by individuals. That's only fair," Mr Obama said. Observing that it took nearly a decade to enter the current phase of the economic mess he inherited, Obama said it's going to take some more time to "dig our way out" of that hole. "The devastation that has touched so many of our families, so many of our communities, that is going to take some time to heal. And I hear those stories firsthand wherever I travel. I hear about them in the letters that I receive every night that I read from people who are doing their best to keep on striving towards that American Dream, but keep on hitting a bunch of road blocks and are looking for help. So the road to recovery is long and it’s filled with challenges. And I'm under no illusion that we’ve gotten there yet. We've got a lot more work to do," he said. Continuing with his critic of the Republican policies, Mr Obama said: "We've got a choice between a forward-looking agenda that is rebuilding the structure of this economy so it's working for all Americans, or just going back to the same stuff that got us into this mess."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dikshit’s ’final’ CWG deadline: Delhi to miss date again?

August 8, 2010

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s promise of completing all Commonwealth Games projects being implemented by her government by the extended deadline of August 31 is appearing to fall flat.

Top officials in Delhi government admitted that key projects like Barapullah Nallah elevated road and renovation of the Yamuna Sports Complex, apart from street-scaping around the Games venues are unlikely to finished by August-end.

Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said although a carriageway of the Barapulla Nallah elevated road will be completed by August 25, the construction activities on second carriageway could be finished by first week of September only.

The four-km-long elevated road between Sarai Kale Khan and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue of the event, is being built to provide uninterrupted traffic flow from Games Village near Akshardham temple to the stadium.

The over Rs 550-crore project has already missed several deadlines. Similarly, renovation of Yamuna Sports Complex, where archery and table tennis events will take place, is not likely to be completed by August-end. Peripheral works in and around Talkatora Stadium and Karni Singh Shooting Range are also not expected to be over by the deadline.

Finance Minister A K Walia has publicly stated that work in Yamuna Sports Complex will not be over by the month-end. Delhi government had undertaken projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore to improve infrastructure in the city ahead of the Games that start on October 3.

Works related to plantation and greenery are also lagging far behind. Although plantation works have been allowed to run through September, several agencies planning to put up potted plants are a bit confused as police have objected to placing the pots near the gates of the venues.

Facing severe criticism for delay in finishing Games- related projects, Dikshit had last month directed all agencies concerned to complete pending work within the final deadline. Top PWD officials, overseeing street-scaping projects across the city, have also admitted that the works will only be over by mid-September.

The department has deployed an additional workforce of 700 labourers to wrap up the street-scaping projects. "Nine agencies are working on various projects to improve various infrastructure in the city. Some of the projects are getting delayed because of lack of coordination among the agencies," said Chief Secretary Mehta.

Questions are also being raised over whether the 2,000 flats being renovated by the DDA in Vasant Kunj for stay of technical staff of the Games will be completed ahead of the mega sporting event. DDA engineers, earlier in the week, had said that they will not be able to complete the flats before the Games.

Aiyar takes another dig at Games

08 Aug 2010

New Delhi: Nominated Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar Saturday took a potshot at the coming Delhi Commonwealth Games, saying arrangements were being made to ensure that the 100,000 foreign guests expected to come were not mobbed by beggars and the poor.
He was addressing a seminar on the 'Role of Media in the 21st century and India's Image' in the capital.

'In a globalised India, the English media feels prosperous and wants to carry India forward. Nearly 100,000 foreign guests will come to India in less then two months (for the Commonwealth Games). I hear that 70,000 have confirmed their bookings. Special arrangements are being made to ensure that they are not besieged by beggars and the poor, but interact with men attired only in coats and ties,' he said.

'On their way to the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium, they (the foreign visitors) should not chance upon those begging for livelihood at shrine of (Sufi saint) Nizamuddin Auliya,' Aiyar said, adding the 'economic imbalance between the citizens and consumers is glaring'.

The question is 'whether Indians should be made prosperous or India should made richer,' Aiyar said.

CBI continues to quiz Amit Shah

07 Aug 2010

Gandhinagar; Former Gujarat minister Amit Shah continued to be quizzed by CBI officials here Sunday, a day after he was grilled for nine hours in connection with the 2005 killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a staged shootout.

The former minister of state for home was at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here in the morning for the final day of questioning. His two-day period of CBI remand ends Sunday night.

Though Shah has been lodged in Sabarmati jail after his arrest July 25 and judicial remand thereafter, he spent Saturday night in the CBI lock-up in it's regional office in Sector-10 here.

In the morning, he was brought to the CBI camp office in the old secretariat here for further questioning.

Sources in the CBI said the minister faced over 300 questions over the length of the day Saturday. His lawyers who were present, though at a visual distance, said they had no complaints in relation to the questioning.

According to the source, Shah has been less than cooperative in answering questions. On Saturday, he was in the custody of the CBI from almost 10 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. The questioning began around 10.a.m. Sunday again.

He has answered largely in monosyllables or at best with 'I don't remember'.

The former minister has been asked searching questions about the orders he issued in relation to the transfer of key police officers who are now co-accused and his phone conversations - 32 times with Deputy Superintendent of Police N.K. Amin on the day Sohrabuddin's wife Kauserbi is suspected to have been killed, the source said.

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been accused of killing Sheikh in a staged shootout Nov 26, 2005, in Ahmedabad. His wife Kauserbi is suspected to have been killed at a farm near here two days later.

Eighth suspect arrested in Gyaneshwari train tragedy

02 Aug 2010

Kolkata: A pro-Maoist activist has been arrested for his alleged involvement in the May 28 Gyaneshwari Express tragedy in West Bengal that killed 148 people, police said Sunday. A court later sent the suspect, the eighth to be caught in the case, to 10 days Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody.

Laxman Mahato, a People's Committee against Police Activities (PCAPA) leader, was arrested Saturday night from Manikpara area in Jhargram for his alleged role in opening the pandrol clips (used to fix the rail to the sleeper) that caused the derailment of the Mumbai-bound train in West Bengal's West Midnapore district.

'He was arrested by a police team from the Jhargram police district and later handed over to the CBI, which is probing the incident,' Inspector General (Western Range) Zulfiqar Hassan told IANS over the phone.

Laxman was produced before the additional judicial magistrate Sunday afternoon and remanded to 10 days CBI custody.

Laxman alias Dhun, a resident of Kshumgara in Manikpara, was arrested earlier by the Jhargram police July 1 on charges of arms smuggling and remanded in judicial custody. He came back home after being released on bail July 30.

'Laxman's bail was granted July 29 and he was released on July 30,' his defence counsel Kaushik Sinha.

'Laxman was arrested on Saturday night when he was walking past a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Manikpara,' he added.

Earlier two prime accused in the alleged sabotage, Manik Mahato and Bapi Mahato, were arrested. However, two other prime accused Umakanto Mahato and Asit Mahato have so far managed to evade the security agencies.

The CBI has already declared a reward of Rs.1 lakh for providing information leading to their arrest

Friday, August 6, 2010

44 killed, over 300 injured in Leh flash floods

06 Aug 2010

Srinagar: At least 44 people have been killed and over 300 injured in flash floods triggered by a massive cloudburst in Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh region, police said Friday.
A massive cloudburst struck the town around midnight Thursday, triggering flash floods and mud slides, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir zone) Farooq Ahmed told IANS.

A polytechnic college, headquarters of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) camp, many government offices and houses have been damaged. The Leh airport has been inundated.

As many as 4,000 army men, and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police personnel have launched a massive relief and rescue operation.

Over 160 injured people have been admitted to the army hospital.

All communication in the town has been disrupted and authorities are finding it very difficult to reach administration officials there.