Archive for ‘People’

August 4, 2012

Home Minister Shinde to visit Pune today

Mumbai: Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is scheduled to visit the blast sites in Pune on Saturday. Image

Shinde is likely to review the security situation at a meeting with top officials here.

Four low-intensity explosions took place in the busy J M Road area in Pune on August 1.

Shinde, who took charge as Union Home Minister the same day, was supposed to visit the city that evening, but the visit was cancelled.


August 20, 2011

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna

New Delhi: At a time when the UPA is on backfoot over Gandhian Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast, pressing for a stronger Lokpal Bill, government has hinted that it was ready to talk to Team Anna to find a midway, if approached formally.

The indications came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired an hour-long meeting of Congress core group late last night, to take stock of the situation arising out of Anna’s fast at Ramlila Ground.

The meeting was attended by senior Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and AK Antony. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present in the meeting.

“The government has no problem in holding talks with the civil society group led by Hazare if they express readiness,” highly placed sources in the Congress party informed.

A number of Congress leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity said the government should re-engage Team Anna in talks.

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna The meeting came against the backdrop of Hazare setting a deadline of August 30 for the government to get the Janlokpal Bill passed in Parliament, failing which he decided to continue his fast “till his last breath”.

Meanwhile, Congress launched damage control exercise over handling of Anna issue with East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit stating that the Gandhian should not have been arrested and adverse comments made against him could have been avoided.

The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.

The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.

The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.


July 18, 2011

IM, Taliban join hands to target India?

New Delhi: In what may emerge as a big trouble for India, the Taliban is said to have joined hands with India-based terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM).

As per a report, Monday, the nexus was unearthed by investigating agencies while following leads after the arrest of key IM operative Danish Riyaz in June.

Danish’s emails have divulged details of the former being in touch with Haroon of Kolkata along with four other IM operatives, the report said. It has also revealed that the network spreads across other countries.

Not only this Haroon’s emails have revealed that ten people from India were to be sent to Pakistan and then Afghanistan for terror training, the newspaper quoted crime branch official as saying.

Haroor is said to be in touch with Taliban. The investigating agencies are now looking whether ten people were sent for terror training or not.

The investigating officials believe that Danish was in touch with some Gujarat youths as well. The sleuths are working to identify those local contacts.

However, the officials have refused to divulge more details about Danish citing sensitivity of the issue.

Earlier, reports claimed that the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is looking into the possible involvement of an Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Abdullah alias Nata, in the terror strikes.

Officials of the Maharashtra ATS have got in touch with the Kolkata Special Task Force (STF) and have sought details of railway passengers who travelled on the Kolkata-Mumbai and Kolkata-Kanpur route eight days before the blasts.

Abdullah is believed to be a close aide of IM co-founder Amir Raza. Raza has been on the run since the arrest of IM operatives in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra ATS are also looking into the possible involvement of IM’s Azamgarh module in the blasts. ATS officials have already discussed the same with a visiting Uttar Pradesh STF team.

So, far the Mumbai Police have interrogated more than 100 people, including former SIMI activists and aides of arrested or wanted IM suspects.

Also, over 100 phone numbers have been put under surveillance.


July 16, 2011

Tata Group to launch Rs 32,000 houses for rural market After Rs 1-lakh wonder car ‘Nano’, Tata Group is all set to launch a house for nearly Rs 32,000 aimed at rural market by the end of next year.

“At present, the housing project is in the pilot stage in 30 locations spread across the country and we are in discussions with various agencies like Coir Board, Jute Board and also state governments,” Sumitesh Das, head global research programme of Tata Steel, said.

The houses will be made in pre-fabricated, or ‘prefab’, format, under which the company will provide a kit consisting of roofs, doors, windows, etc, which can be erected or assembled.

“It is quick house built in seven days if you have a patch of land. Basic model of 20 sq metres, with flat roof will cost around 500 euros (around Rs 32,000).

Upgraded model with 30 sq metres, which is the Indira Awas Yojana model, will cost 700 euros,” Das said  on the sidelines of Conference on Best Practices of Intellectual Property Management.

“Similarly there are other models which may come with a solar panel on the roof of the house,” Das added.

The 2001 census places the rural housing shortage figure in India at 1.48 crore and the situation may prove to be a big bonanza for the Tatas.

Giving details of the project, Das said by the end of this year, they will get feedback from all the stakeholders like manufacturers, suppliers and various Panchayats.

“In the first pilot project, we saw the interest of people in verandah which we have incorporated, though it was not there earlier. We thought if we incorporate verandah, the buying will be much higher. We need feedback from Panchayats, who are our final customers,”  he added.

He, however, refused to draw parallels between Nano car manufactured by Tata Motors and the 500-euro house by Tata Steel, saying that the market segments are different.

Replying to a question on the challenges that the project might face Das said, “The main challenge it may face is supply chain management due to shortage of production of panels”.

“We are in touch with Coir Board and Jute Board also. The pilot is also to see the supply chain arrangements. If a coir manufacturer cannot meet the demands, then we will have to think of some other product to replace.

We have technology but we do not have entrepreneurs. That’s what we are looking for, people who can invest and make products for us,” Das said.

The life of the house will be 20 years at this stage and may go up as the research goes on, he added.


July 16, 2011

Ilyas Kashmiri is alive: Report Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, the Al Qaeda commander who was believed to have been killed last month in a US drone attack in Pakistan, is alive, a media report said Saturday.

Kashmiri is still active in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Dawn said on its website quoting unnamed sources.

Media reports had earlier said that Kashmiri was killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region.

The US and the Pakistani government however could not confirm his death.

Anti-terrorism experts describe Kashmiri as one of Al Qaeda’s main commanders. He was held responsible for a number of attacks in Pakistan, including the May 22 attack on a navy airbase in Karachi and the 2009 attack on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The US believe that Kashmiri, who is also a member of the terror group Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami (HuJI), was behind the March 2006 suicide bombing of the US consulate in Karachi that killed four people and wounded 48 others.

The US State Department designated him as a “global terrorist”.


July 15, 2011

Mumbai blasts: CCTV footage hold the key Investigators probing the deadly Mumbai blasts are pinning their hopes on close circuit television (CCTV) footage for clues, Friday.

Zee News has accessed CCTV footage from Zaveri Bazar and Opera House, the disturbing visuals show people running for cover and later helping those injured. All in all 23 CCTV cameras are said to have captured crucial images.

As per reports, one camera in Opera House has captured the images of the possible suspects. The footage shows three or four people talking on the phone for over an hour and a half at the same spot.

Moreover, a person carrying a bag is reported to have been identified as a suspect. He is seen moving towards a parked motorcycle and within seconds there is an explosion.

As the government has already confirmed that one of the bodies recovered from the Opera House site had an electric circuit on it, reports speculate whether it was the same person with the bag – possibly carrying the bomb – which exploded prematurely, killing him as well?

Importantly, the investigators have not rejected the possibility of the presence of a human bomb.

Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad chief Rakesh Maria said that investigating officials are thoroughly going through the CCTV footage obtained from the blast sites. “The volume is a huge and we are going through each and every footage,” he said, adding that it was too early to say whether a “human bomb” was used.

Clearly, the authorities don’t want to speculate on who could be involved in the attack.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said it was too early “to point a finger at any one group”.

All groups “hostile to India” are on the “radar” in the probe, he said. The minister revised the death toll to 18 including a person with a severed head from 21 which was put out in an official list released by the ministry. 131 (EDs Correct) persons were injured of whom 23 are in a serious condition.


July 14, 2011

THREE BLASTS ROCK MUMBAI, 18 DEAD Country’s financial capital Mumbai was on Wednesday shaken by three powerful explosions, within minutes of each other, killing at least 18 people and injuring over 100 others in a grim reminder of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack.

The explosions took place at Dadar, Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House.

The first explosion rocked Zaveri Bazar, a popular jewellery market, at 6.54 pm and a minute later another blast shook Diamond Market near Opera House, a busy business area. The third blast ripped through crowded Kabutarkhana area in Dadar area at 7.04 pm.

Reacting to the incident, Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram said the quick succession of the blasts showed that they were a “coordinated attack by terrorists.”

He assured that all measures have been taken in the wake of the explosions in India’s commercial capital. The Home Minister, who reached Mumbai late night, also called for restraint and asked people not to panic.

“A National Security guard (NSG) hub is already in Mumbai. It has been put on high alert,” he said. One Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL) team from Delhi and another one from Hyderabad are in the city to assist the Mumbai Police in the investigations.

UK Bansal, Secretary (Internal Security) told Zee News that NSG is on alert and its bomb-experts are helping the local police. “We have ensured Maharashtra police of all the help as and when they require,” he said.

The terror strike, which revived memories of the Mumbai attack that left 166 dead, coincided with the 24th birthday of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani gunman in the carnage. Kasab has been sentenced to death.

No terrorist group so far has claimed responsibility but Mumbai police suspects the hand of Indian Mujahideen (IM). Sources also claimed that at least seven Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were used in the blasts, which were triggered using mobile phones.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said the blasts at Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar were of higher intensity than the one at Dadar.

“It is a terror act. It is quite obvious that some terror elements are involved in the attack. Zaveri Bazaar blast was carried out with use of IED kept in an abandoned umbrella,” Patnaik said.

All the injured have been admitted to nearby St Georges hospital, KEM Hospital, Saifee and JJ Hospitals with critical burn injuries.

The explosions struck the metropolis two days after the fifth anniversary of the serial train blasts here that had left 186 dead and 800 injured.

While the blast in Zaveri Bazaar was triggered through explosives concealed in an umbrella, the one in Dadar West was caused by an explosive device planted inside a Maruti Esteem car.

“The umbrella was apparently used to camouflage the explosive during the downpour being witnessed in the city, in the bustling Khau Gali in Zaveri Bazaar,” added Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.

Police teams and fire brigades were immediately rushed to blasts sites, which were cordoned off for investigations. Teams of Maharashtra ATS were also rushed to the site along with dog squads.

The Ministry of Home Affairs also confirmed that IED were used in the serial blasts.

One more unexploded device was recovered from Dadar. According to the ACP, the police are probing a suspicious Tiffin box found near the blast site.

The Prime Minister also spoke with Maharashtra CM Chavan and Home Secretary discussed the situation with Mumbai DGP.

Following the blasts, a high alert has been sounded in major cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad and precautionary security measures are being taken by the local administration.

Mumbai police has issued two helpline numbers 022-22621983, 022-22625020 for more information related to blasts.


July 7, 2011

At least 37 killed in train-bus collision in UP

New Delhi: At least 37 people were killed and 17 injured when a train rammed into a bus at an unmanned crossing in Etah in Uttar Pradesh in the wee hours Thursday.

According to reports, the tragedy occurred at around 1.47 am when the Chhapra-Mathura Express train collided with a bus carrying members of a marriage party at an unmanned railway crossing in Thanagaon near Kanshiram Nagar district.

“Till now 37 dead bodies have been recovered and more are feared to be dead. We have learnt that the accident took place at around 1.47 am,” Kanshiram Nagar District Magistrate Selva Kumari J informed reporters.

Relief and rescue operation has started in full swing and top railway and city administration officials have already reached the spot to stock of the situation.

Most of the injured have been admitted to hospitals and community health centres of Kanshiram Nagar and Etah districts. Although majority of those injured are said to be out of danger, ten people are still reported to be in critical condition.

A team of railway doctors is also assisting the local medical staff in treating the injured,” Selva Kumari J said. For further inquiry about the accident, the railway officials have issued helpline number 9893566517.

According to officials, there were around 100 passengers in the bus at the time of the accident.

Meanwhile, expressing shock and profound grief at the loss of life, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakhs for the kin of each person killed, Rs 50,000 each for seriously injured and Rs 10,000 each for those with simple injuries. Separately, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has also announced compensation of Rs One lakh for the kin of the deceased persons.

The Prime Minister has also ordered an inquiry by Railway Safety Commissioner into the accident.

Confirming the development, a Railways spokesman said the inquiry has been initiated by the Ministry of Railways and it will be carried out by the Commissioner of Rail Safety.

The spokesman said the inquiry will go into the causes of the accident.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa and Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal have rushed to the mishap site.


July 5, 2011

Haryana: Father kills teen daughter for refusing to stay with 50-yr-old husband

Kaithal:  From female foeticide to rape to girls forced into unwanted marriages, incidents that have come to the fore seem to show that India just cannot save its women.

A recent one in Haryana reiterates the same.

In the state’s Kasaan village in Kaithal, a 17-year-old girl was killed by none other than her own father. Her offence? She did not want to live with a 50-year-old man, whom she was forced to marry.

The remorseless father went on record to say that pride is larger than life. “We know that our pride is larger than life,” Indra Singh said.

The girl had apparently gone to the police station to ask for protection but the Panchayat intervened and brought her back.

Before anybody could do anything, the girl was murdered.

The village Panchayat, however, claims that the marriage took place in harmony. “We had only decided that they should come on the 4th and then we will explain to her. The girl denied everything. We have her marriage photos. I was involved in the alliance.  Although the girl had initially disagreed but later had changed her mind and the marriage took place in harmony. The panchayat has been insulted,” said the Sarpanch.

The police intervened only when the girl was about to be cremated.

“The body of the girl was lying in her house when we went to file the report. We came to know it was a murder case. We have registered a case and investigations are on. The mamaji has given a statement saying that she was married to man much older. She was not interested in the marriage. We are checking facts,” Simardeep Singh, Superintendent of Police, Kaithal.

The girl’s father and uncle have surrendered.


July 1, 2011

‘ISI aids and abets terrorist sanctuaries in Pak’

Washington: Pakistan spy agency ISI not only aids and abets terrorist sanctuaries in the country, but also provides training and intelligence inputs to extremist outfits, a former top Pentagon General said.

Gen (rtd) Jack Keane also charged that Pakistan Army headed by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who once headed ISI, has been repeatedly lying to the United States on the matter.

But still, the retired American General argued that the US has no other option but to have strategic partnership with Pakistan, given its significance in the war against terrorism.

“The truth is, the ISI aids and abets the sanctuaries in Pakistan that the Afghan operate out of. They provide training for them, they provide resources for them and they provide intelligence for them. From those sanctuaries, every single day Afghan fighters come into Afghanistan and kill and maim us,” Keane, said at a discussion on Afghanistan organised by the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think-tank.

There’s a direct relationship of ISI’s complicity and the deaths of American soldiers and the catastrophic wounding of those soldiers. The chief of staff of the Pakistani military is complicit. He used to be the director of ISI. He put the guy in there who is in charge now and he has full knowledge of what I’m just describing,” Keane alleged.

He said: “This partnership has got to be based on that harsh reality. There are two ammonium nitrate factories in Pakistan. 80 percent of the explosive devices that are used to kill our soldiers, kill Afghan security forces and kill Afghan people come from Pakistan.”

“All of what I just said to you, when we confront them with this, they lie to us. They lie to us just like the Soviet Union used to lie to us. But we have to have a relationship, in my judgment, that is based on the harsh reality and the truth and we go from there in developing this relationship,” Keane said.

The retired US general said Pakistan is a country of strategic consequence – much more so than Afghanistan is – given the size of that population and the growing nuclear arsenal and the fact that there is a raging insurgency inside the country to destabilise it.

“This is radical Islam who wants to take over that country, would have that nuclear arsenal. None of that could we permit to have happen.”

“So we have to have a strategic partnership of some sort with Pakistan. But I think it got to be grounded, once and for all, on the truth. That’s got to be the basis for this relationship. And sometimes, I’m not sure it is,” he added.