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20091211

Pakistan's attitude unchanged, infiltration continuing: Pillai

Jammu: Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai on Friday said there was no change in Pakistan's attitude as infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir was continuing. "Pakistan continues to infiltrate terrorists into this side. There is no change in Pakistan's attitude, as infiltration is continuing," he told reporters here. Pillai said that the dialogue with the separatists will continue. "The dialogue is the only way to address all the problems."

The Home Secretary, who arrived here on Friday, is on a two-day visit of the state. After reviewing the security situation, he met Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, with whom he discussed all the matters concerning security, especially that of the pro-dialogue separatist leaders, a subject that had gained significance after an assassination bid on senior separatist leader Fazal Haq Qureshi.

Indian copper company creates jobs in Kentucky

Washington: An Indian copper company, Chandra Proteco Ltd., will start a manufacturing operation in Morgantown under the name Kentucky Copper Inc to create 106 new jobs with an investment of nearly $32 million, Kentucky state governor announced.

"The start-up of Kentucky Copper in Morgantown will create more than 100 direct jobs and a tremendous economic boost for not only Butler County, but for all of south central Kentucky," said Governor Steve Beshear.

"Kentucky is proud to partner with Chandra Proteco on this new investment and will continue to work with the company to establish and grow its operations in the Commonwealth," he said.

Chandra Group has been in the field of copper and copper cable business for more than 40 years, and specializes in transposed cable and railway cables for traction. With more than 500 employees in India, the company's facilities are spread over India, Europe, Africa and China.

"We are delighted to bring the extensive experience of our parent company, Chandra Copper, to Kentucky along with a commitment to be an active part of the community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky," said Mukul Gupta, president of Kentucky Copper.

Kentucky Copper will be located in a 163,000 square-foot facility on Veterans Way and will include warehousing, manufacturing and office space, as well as a technology centre.

The company will manufacture products to be used in power transformers, energy transmission and distribution applications, as well as high-speed trains. Three product lines will be phased in and will produce magnet wires, profile and trolley wires and continuously transposed conductors.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Chandra Protecto Ltd. for tax benefits up to $6 million under the former Kentucky Rural Economic Development Act.

Andhra crisis deepens as legislators' resignations pour in

Hyderabad: The political crisis in Andhra Pradesh, triggered by the central government's decision to grant separate statehood to Telangana, deepened today with legislators from the other two regions continuing their mass resignations while shutdowns paralysed life in parts of the state.

The southern state stood divided on regional lines, with as many as 130 legislators submitting their resignations protesting the decision on Telangana.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said no hasty decision will be taken on the issue of a separate Telangana state, Congress MPs from the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions who met him today in New Delhi quoted him as saying.

As many as 20 Congress MPs, including union ministers, led by K.Sambasiva Rao met the prime minister and raised their apprehensions on carving out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

"The prime minister has assured us that no hasty decision will be taken on this issue. He said the matter will be discussed in the Congress core committee meeting expected later Friday," Rao told reporters later.

L. Rajagaopal, one of the three Congress MPs who have submitted their resignations, has threatened to launch a fast unto death to prevent bifurcation of the state. The MP from Vijayawada said he would never accept a separate Telangana state.

Cutting across party lines, 130 state legislators from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions also have submitted their resignations to Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy. These include 76 legislators of the ruling Congress, 40 of the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and 14 of the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP).

These legislators allege that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre took a "unilateral" decision on carving out a separate Telangana state without consulting them.

There are 175 members from the two regions in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh assembly, while the remaining 119 members come from the Telangana region.

The speaker said he had not accepted their resignations and was seeking legal opinion on the issue.

The uproar over resignations stalled both houses of the state legislature, forcing their adjournment till Monday.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah said his government was not reduced to a minority as the resignations of the legislators were not yet accepted. The Congress has 156 members in the state assembly.

Giving a new twist to the row over Telangana, Rosaiah said he had not received written or oral directions from the central government to move a resolution in the assembly.

He said Home Minister P. Chidambaram had only said that the process for formation of Telangana state would be initiated and to his understanding, it implied that consultations would begin with leaders of other regions.

He appealed to legislators of all political parties not to resign in anger, pointing out that a resolution can be passed only after consensus.

The chief minister also appealed to people, especially youth, to show restraint and not to resort to violence.

However, the shutdown called in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions by all parties and various groups opposed to bifurcation of the state turned violent as protesters set afire buses, a post office and attacked a bank.

Normal life was paralysed in nine coastal districts and four districts of Rayalaseema as state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) buses went off the roads. Shops and business establishments remained closed.

In the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, protestors attacked a branch of the HSBC Bank while in Kadapa town of Rayalseema, a post office was set afire.

Protesters also staged road blockades on national and state highways and stopped trains at various railway stations.

The regional divide saw lawyers of Telangana and Andhra clashing in the state high court here. Tension prevailed as lawyers opposing a separate Telangana state clashed with those demanding bifurcation.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai's statement that the process of formation of Telangana state would continue and that Hyderabad would be its capital of Telangana, evoked strong reaction from the ministers and legislators opposing division of the state. They termed Pillai's remarks "provocative".

Meanwhile, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K.Chandrasekhar Rao, whose 11-day hunger strike forced the government to agree to his demand for a Telangana state, was today discharged from a hospital here.

KCR, as he is popularly known among the people by his initials, returned to his home here. The TRS, however, dropped its plans for taking out a victory rally.

Mayawati for trifurcation of Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today said she is for creation of independent states of Bundelkhand and Harit Pradesh out of an "unmanageable Uttar Pradesh". "I have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to give us clearance for creating independent states of Budelkhand and Harit Pradesh out of a giant-sized and unmanageable Uttar Pradesh," Mayawati told a hurriedly convened press conference here today evening.

She said her move follows the central government's nod for carving the state of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh.

She said: "I was always in favour of smaller states as they are much simpler to govern."

Muttemwar to meet PM, Sonia for Vidarbha

New Delhi: Congress MP from Nagpur and former central minister Vilas Muttemwar today said he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to demand a separate Vidarbha state.

"I will meet the prime minister and Congress president on this issue. I am waiting for an appointment," said Muttemwar, who wrote a letter to the Congress chief and the prime minister on Thursday afternoon demanding the centre's intervention to carve out a separate Vidarbha state.

"We want a separate Vidarbha state. There is no change in our stand," Muttemwar told the media, reacting to Congress leader Oscar Fernandes's statement that any decision on separate Vidarbha state would be taken only after discussions within the party and the government.

Muttemwar said that there had been a demand for separate Vidarbha state for over 50 years.

Patnaik, new Assam governor, asks ULFA to shun violence

Guwahati: Former Orissa chief minister J.B. Patnaik, who was today sworn in as Assam governor, urged the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to shun violence and come for unconditional peace talks with the government.

"First they (ULFA) should eschew violence and then come for unconditional peace talks," Patnaik said soon after being sworn in as the new governor of Assam today.

Patnaik has replaced Syed Sibti Razi whose term expired. He was sworn in as Assam governor by J. Chalameswar, chief justice of the Gauhati High Court.

"I would execute my constitutional duties and whenever required I am ready to extend my services," Patnaik said when asked if he could take a lead in furthering the deadlocked peace process between the government and the ULFA.

We want plebiscite on sovereignty: ULFA

Guwahati: The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) today urged New Delhi for a plebiscite to decide if the people of Assam want independence.

"Talks, if any, have to be on the issue of Assam's independence or sovereignty. If the government cannot hold talks on the issue of sovereignty or independence, let there be a plebiscite on the issue," ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah said in an emailed statement to the local media here.

The ULFA, a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland since 1979, said it was ready to hold peace talks if New Delhi discussed their core demand of sovereignty.

The central government had already rejected their demand saying sovereignty cannot be a subject for discussion.

"In the name of holding peace talks, the government has all along been staging dramas," the ULFA statement said.

"Our stand is very clear, we are not going to sit for talks if the issue of sovereignty is not discussed," Baruah said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi once again reiterated the government position saying sovereignty cannot be discussed.

"No country in the world could ever discuss or grant sovereignty. The question of discussion on sovereignty simply does not arise," the chief minister told media.

Ajit, Jaswant raise demand for new states

New Delhi: Taking a cue from the government's decision to start the process for formation of Telangana state, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh and expelled Bharatiya Janata Party MP Jawant Singh raised demands for Harit Pradesh and Gorkhaland respectively.

Ajit Singh said here that his party would start an agitation if the government does not consider the demand for Harit Pradesh, a proposed state comprising parts of western Uttar Pradesh.

He said the government should not respond to demands only if people resort to violence. Ajit Singh, MP from Baghpat, said his party was giving government some time to consider demand of Harit Pradesh.

"If the government does not consider demand for Harit Pradesh, we will start an agitation," he said.

Jaswant Singh also raised the demand for Gorkhaland.

He told reporters outside parliament that the demand for separate state of Gorkhaland was not new. Jaswant Singh was elected as BJP MP from Darjeeling in 2009 following the BJP's support for Gorkhaland.

The clamour for smaller states has also touched Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad, who had opposed creation of Jharkhand from undivided Bihar.

Lalu Prasad said here that his party supported demand for creating new states of Purvanchal and Bundelkhand.

The BJP, which among the national parties is the strongest votary of smaller states, criticised the Congress-led central government over the way it had initiated the process of formation of Telangana.

"It was done without proper homework and without a clear roadmap," senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

We hope to complete nuclear deal soon: US envoy

New Delhi: Even as a crucial reprocessing pact is being finalised, the US today said it hoped to complete the landmark nuclear agreement with India soon and described the atomic pact as a "strategic win-win for both countries".

Welcoming the visit of a high-profile delegation of top US nuclear companies to India, US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer said it underscored the commitment US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made in Washington for the two countries to "realise the full potential and aspirations of landmark civilian nuclear agreement".

"We hope to complete this landmark agreement soon," he said.

Linking the India-US nuclear pact with the ongoing international climate change negotiations, the US envoy stressed that this agreement would "lead to the development of important clean energy alternatives and greater access to affordable energy for the people of India, while creating jobs and economic opportunities for the citizens of both our countries".

"It is a strategic win-win for both countries," he underlined while calling for the cementing of "a global and enduring partnership" between the two countries.

GE Hitachi and Westinghouse were among top American nuclear engineering companies from the US who visited India this week and held talks with top Indian nuclear officials and companies.

The two sides were close to clinching a pact on reprocessing spent fuel during the visit of Manmohan Singh to Washington last month, but could not do so due to minor differences in the language of the text.

The two sides are trying to bridge the differences and are expected to finalise the pact soon.

20091210

Gorkhaland fast begins today. What's next?



After the centre gives in on Telangana, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will initiate fast-unto-death programmes for the cause of statehood today.

Courtesy: NDTV

Chidambaram stands by Liberhan report, says judge went by brief

New Delhi: Home Minister P. Chidambaram today resolutely stood by the Liberhan Commission report on the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, and said the judge had strictly gone by the brief assigned to him. Replying to a 10-hour short duration discussion spread over two days in the Rajya Sabha on the Liberhan Commission report and the government's Action Taken Report on it, he also said the Sangh Parivar's behaviour on Dec 6, 1992, when the mosque was brought down "cannot be accepted in a pluralistic society."

"The judge has answered the questions put to him... Facts to the best of his ability have been brought out by the judge," the home minister said, answering criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the report was incomplete as Justice (retd) M.S. Liberhan had not gone into the genesis of the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

"The Liberhan Commission understood the scope of the enquiry. It was not asked to rule on the ownership issue," Chidambaram pointed out in his hour-long reply to the debate.

"That issue should be reserved for the title suit," he said, adding: "We are not here to decide on the title suit."

Reading extensively from the report that indicts some 68 members of the Sangh parivar, Chidambaram said: "Obviously, one side feels hurt but we also feel strongly at the damage done to the essence of the country by the demolition."

"If there is one point in recent history when the Hindu-Muslim gulf became a chasm, it was Dec 6 and we are trying our best to bridge it," Chidambram said.

Answering criticism of the ATR that not enough had been done, the minister pointed out that the document was reflective of the Liberhan Commission's recommendations.

"If the recommendation was tepid, then the action taken is tepid. If the recommendation was pointed, the response is pointed. If the recommendation is of a general nature, the response is like that," he said.

At the same time, he said the conclusions contained in the report "need to be studied carefully to decide if the government was obliged to take action. We have to examine what action, if any, should be taken against the people who collected and received money for hatching the conspiracy of the demolition."

"Huge funds were collected. The CBI has collected evidence. We have to examine what action can be taken, who collected and got what," he added.

"It also needs to be examined if the list of names in the FIR relating to the conspiracy needs to be expanded," the minister said.

Chidambaram was repeatedly interrupted by BJP members during his reply but steadfastly refused to yield. Such was the pandemonium created by BJP MP Vinay Katiyar that Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan had to warn that he would be asked to withdraw if he did not resume his seat.

At one stage, a visibly irritated Chidambaram asked: "Since when the BJP become so intolerant that it won't permit a minister to make a reply?"

The discussions went along expected lines with the Congress and non-BJP parties roundly flaying the radical Hindu groups for the demolition and the BJP justifying the act but not owning up for it, even as it rejected the Liberhan Commission report.

Participating in the discussion on Wednesday, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley had termed the report a "national joke".

Muslim MPs, regardless of their party affiliation, were particularly harsh on the BJP and more than one member asked for the mosque to be reconstructed, even as they spoke of the need to move ahead.

Intervening in the discussion, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal termed the BJP's position on the Babri Masjid demolition a "national shame", and said the BJP was taking the country in a wrong direction "in the name of Lord Ram".

"Don't make false arguments. You will regret it tomorrow. You are taking the country in a wrong direction -- that too, in the name of Lord Ram," Sibal maintained.

Rejecting the BJP's contention that the demolition of the Babri mosque was a spontaneous act, Sibal said the demolition was "a scripted exercise" carried out for political purposes.

"Lord Ram made a sacrifice to keep promise of his father. You want use his name to come to power," he said, asking if Lord Ram was alive, would he have carried out a rath yatra?

"He would have worked for better education and health," the minister said.

US unsure over Indian request for Headley extradition

Washington: The US considers it "premature" to say how it would respond to India's request for the extradition of Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley, charged with scouting targets in Mumbai for the 26/11 terror attack.

"Obviously, we do have an extradition treaty with India, but how that will work going forward, I think that's premature," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said when asked whether the US would accede to the Indian request.

"As to the precise disposition of this case, at the present time, I'll defer you to the Department of Justice," he said noting that the Headley case was before a Chicago court.

Headley, son of an American socialite mother and a Pakistani diplomat changed his given name of Daood Gilani in 2006 to avoid suspicion about his Pakistani origin, according to the charges filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the Chicago court.

Headley and Pakistan born Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana, with whom Headley had gone to a military school in Pakistan, are also charged with scheming to attack a Danish newspaper that in 2005 published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and triggering widespread anger in the Muslim world.

Asked if India had expressed any concern about where US military aid was going as both Headley and Rana had links with the Pakistani military, Crowley said: "We are in an ongoing discussion with the government of Pakistan and the government of India trying to reassure both that they have nothing to fear from each side.

"We understand that for the region to advance, ... it's very important for us to reduce tensions and to have all sides have a clearer picture of the intentions of the other," he said.

Crowley also declined to link the Headley case with the arrest of five young Muslim Americans arrested in Pakistan on the suspicion of possibly trying to meet up with a terror group implicated in the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.

"There is an emergent case in Chicago. I would not link that case and these individuals in any way," he said when asked about the implications of the arrest of five on suspicion of terrorist links.

"Because all we know at this point is you have five individuals from the Washington, D.C. area who have made their way to Pakistan, I would not draw any inferences as to what that means."

102 Andhra legislators submit resignations

Hyderabad: As many as 102 members of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly have submitted their resignations to the speaker to protest the proposed bifurcation of the state.

Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy told reporters today that 102 legislators of the total 294 legislators had submitted their resignations to him since Thursday.

"I have not accepted their resignations and will take a decision after talking to them individually," he said.

A total of 57 legislators of the ruling Congress party, 32 of the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and 13 of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) have submitted their resignations.

These legislators allege that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre took a "unilateral" decision on carving out a separate Telangana state without consulting them.

Demand for separate Bodoland gets new impetus after Telangana issue

Guwahati: Their demand for an independent state of Bodoland started on March 2, 1987 under the leadership of Upendranath Brahma of ABSU and after a log phase of suppression, the exponents of the movement have once again awaken to see their demands get fulfilled. Thanks to the recent decision of Central Government to divide Andhra Pradesh.

Bodo Peoples' Action Committee (BPAC), a wing of ABSU, which triggered the movement with a call "Divide Assam 50-50", have now come to the forefront with their demand once again after a long hiatus.

These militants had dropped their weapons and settled for an autonomous council after the then-NDA government made it clear that reorganisation of states was not possible. In a recent bid to meet their demands, Hagrama Mohilary, the chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council, have come up with a poignant question, "If Andhra Pradesh can be divided and Telangana formed, why Bodoland cannot be carved out of Assam."

Mohilary, who was earlier the head of the Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) reasoned that if the central government can now change the policy for forming new states for Telangana, then the government should also do the same for Bodoland.

Bodoland is a region in the north bank of Brahmaputra River, in the state of Assam. Bodo language speaking ethnic group predominantly reside in this area.

US rules out mediation on Kashmir

Washington: Ruling out a mediatory role in Kashmir, the United States has said that while it understood the importance of the issue to both India and Pakistan, it was ultimately between the two nations to resolve.

"We understand the importance of the Kashmir issue to both Pakistan and India, and it is something that we do discuss with both countries," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Thursday when asked to comment on such a suggestion by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

"But obviously, at the end of a process that has to be something that is resolved ultimately between Pakistan and India with the active involvement of the people of Kashmir."

Asked if the US saw any role for itself in this process, Crowley said: "I'm not aware that we've been asked to play a specific role at this point."

"I'll leave it there," he added when pressed if the US did not see any role "not even with Pakistan."

Asked if he agreed with Zardari's view on resolving the Kashmir issue, he said: "I'll let the president's view stand on its own."

In an opinion piece published in the New York Times on Thursday, Zardari had called upon the US to demonstrate American neutrality and willingness to help India and Pakistan overcome their mutual distrust by stepping up its efforts "to mediate the Kashmir dispute".

Suggesting that public mistrust of the United States in Pakistan "also stems from regional issues, specifically policies concerning India," he wrote: "I know it is the conventional wisdom in Washington that my nation is obsessed with India."

Likening the Kashmir issue to the "Israeli-Palestinian dispute", Zardari said: "But even to those of us who are striving towards accommodation and peace, the long history and the unresolved situation in Kashmir give Pakistanis reason to be concerned about our neighbour to the east.

"Just as the Israeli-Palestinian dispute cannot be resolved without accommodating the Palestinian people, there cannot be permanent regional peace in South Asia without addressing Kashmir," he added.

Referring to concerns in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar legislation linking US non-military aid to progress in the fight against terrorism, Zardari said: "It shows how sensitive many here are to what they see as unfair treatment by the United States."

"It would be helpful if the United States, at some point, would scrutinise India in a similar fashion and acknowledge that it has from time to time played a destabilising role in the region," he added.

Azad wants parliamentarians to become health spokespersons

New Delhi: Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that all parliamentarians must become spokespersons for health and create awareness about the prevention of various diseases.

"There is need to create an atmosphere for better accountability and progress of health related initiatives at both central and state levels," he said, at a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Health here.

Chairing a meeting of the parliamentary committee, the minister said, "The members of Parliamentary Standing Committee and Consultative Committee should emerge as a strong voice for health sector both in parliament and outside".

The committee today discussed reproductive and child health programmes in India. In a lively discussion, committee members said there is a need for "better monitoring" of several healthcare initiatives.

While Samajwadi Party's Shailendra Kumar said there is a need for better awareness among the people, Trinamool Congress' Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar emphasized the involvement of MPs in monitoring of central schemes at the state level.

Communist Party of India-Marxist's R.C. Dome, another member of the committee, said that neo-natal care is a matter of concern and should be strengthened at all levels.

Many other parliamentarians while supporting the view said that malnutrition issue needs more attention and awareness must be created in local language.

The Congress' Oscar Fernanades said that poverty and lack of awareness are the two biggest bane of health sector. All members emphasised a sharper focus on family planning and awareness generation.

End of the road for Bajaj scooters



NEW DELHI: For Bajaj Auto, it’s a case of looking to the future rather than the past. But consumers who remember India before liberalization will probably feel pangs of nostalgia at the announcement that Bajaj Auto is set to stop making scooters.

Many can still recall the days when waiting lists for Bajaj scooters stretched into years, with people willing to pay a premium equal to the original cost to get hold of one. The sturdy vehicles were much sought after as wedding gifts; strings were often pulled and quotas invoked to speed up the allotment. Once the world’s biggest player in scooters, selling over a lakh units monthly in its heyday, Bajaj’s long-running advertising campaign described ‘hamara Bajaj’ as the symbol of a resurgent India.
But rather than look into the rearview mirror, Bajaj Auto is focusing on the road ahead. Bajaj Auto managing director Rajiv Bajaj announced on Wednesday that the company was all set to bid adieu to the segment as it concentrates on motorcycles, in line with its ambitions of emerging as the world’s biggest bikemaker ahead of Honda. ‘‘We have an opportunity to shoot for something... to be the largest motorcycle maker in the world,’’ Bajaj said as he announced growth plans for the motorcycle segment.

While the greater potential in the motorcycle segment may be one of the reasons prompting Bajaj to exit the scooter market, the company’s listless performance in scooters would certainly be among the other compelling reasons behind the withdrawal, expected by the end of this fiscal.

Bajaj has seen its scooter volumes drop to barely a couple of hundreds per month. The company, which dominated the scooter market with geared brands like Chetak and Super, suffered in the 1990s with the coming of motorcycles in the market that were not only more stylish and appealing but they also offered greater mileage.

“We want to become a motorcycle specialist and do not want to distract ourselves by scooters and mopeds... we cannot get greedy and try to do everything,” Bajaj said. “We are not developing scooters. We have no scooter on the drawing board.”

Fissures in Congress over Telangana issue, MPs to meet Sonia

New Delhi: Upset over the Congress central leadership's sudden announcement of steps to create a separate Telangana state, some Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh are to meet party president Sonia Gandhi today. Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, MP from the Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, told media: "I am going to meet the Congress chief along with other MPs from the state and tender my resignation." Reddy said he along with others had met Congress central leaders on Wednesday night in New Delhi. "But they did not hint at all that they are taking a decision to initiate the process of bringing a resolution in the Andhra Pradesh assembly," he added. "The high command kept us in dark," he said. Following pressure and fearing for the deteriorating condition of Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who had been on a fast-unto-death for the past 11 days, the central government on Wednesday pledged to form a separate Telangana state out of 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Reddy said: "We are people's voice. We are for an integrated Andhra Pradesh."

But later today, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi tried to gloss over the differences in the party over the Telangana issue.

"The Congress knows how to deal with problems. We just have to wait. In the natural progression of time, things will settle down. We have indicated that the centre has initiated the process (of the state's formation) and it is now for the state assembly to take it forward," Singhvi told reporters.

"As the matter will proceed to the assembly, it will be sorted out," he added.

"The decision to initiate the process of formation of a separate Telangana state is in accordance with the Common Minimum programme of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) where it has talked of political consensus to meet the demand," he added.

Tamils will be resettled by January-end, Sri Lanka assures India

New Delhi: Sri Lanka today assured India that it will resettle around 300,000 internally displaced Tamil civilians before the end of January 2010 and reiterated its commitment to a political process that can lead to "lasting peace and reconciliation" in the island nation.

A high-level Sri Lankan team led by Basil Rajapaksa, member of parliament and senior adviser to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which concluded its two-day visit to India today, briefed top Indian officials about steps taken by Colombo to resettle the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their original places of habitation.

The Lankan team also included Lalith Weeratunga, secretary to the president, and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. They met National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan,, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar. They also called on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

"The Sri Lankan side mentioned that more than 158,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have since left the camps and around 115,000 remained," a joint press statement said here.

"They indicated their resolve to resettle the IDPs before end-January 2010," the statement said.

The Sri Lankan government had set a 180-day deadline for resettling IDPs after the Lankan forces defeated the LTTE in May, bringing to an end decades-long insurgency in the island nation.

India welcomed the initial steps taken by Colombo to relax movement and travel restrictions on IDPs and hoped that the displaced "would resume their livelihood and return to a life of normalcy."

To ensure quick resettlement of the IDPs, the Indian side stressed that it had enhanced the number of Indian de-mining teams in the area, provided additional quantity of shelter material and agricultural starter packs and was now in the process of providing cement bags for reconstruction of damaged houses of IDPs.

Colombo profusely thanked India for its assistance, that included the 60-member Indian Field Hospital at Menik Farm, Vavuniya, where more than 50,000 patients were treated and 250,000 family packs sent by the government of Tamil Nadu to Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan side agreed with India on the need for quickening a political solution to the decades-old ethnic dispute.

"Both sides recognized the importance of sustaining peace and moving towards a political solution in Sri Lanka. The Indian side welcomed the holding of local elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya," the joint statement said.

"Both sides agreed on the need for political arrangements which would serve the legitimate interests and meet the aspirations of all Sri Lankan citizens," the statement said.

The Sri Lankan side, the statement said, reiterated the commitment of the government of Sri Lanka to a political process that would lead to lasting peace and reconciliation.

The two sides also agreed to continue their discussions on the draft memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in fisheries.

The visit takes place against the backdrop of intense feelings in India over the rehabilitation of Tamil civilians who are presently living in crowded refugee camps. The issue flared in parliament a few days ago when senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj quoted a renowned poet to say that if she did not raise the issue of the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils, her soul would be dead.

Swaraj also recalled watching a video of a Tamil man being mercilessly beaten by the police and being pushed to drown in the sea.

TRS warns against betrayal on Telangana state

Hyderabad: With legislators and MPs from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions resigning en masse to try and stall a resolution on separate Telangana state, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) today warned against betrayal to the people of the region.

A day after the central government agreed to the demand for a Telangana state, as many as 126 state legislators and several MPs from the other two regions and belonging to the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party and the Praja Rajyam Party quit in protest against the "unilateral" decision by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

"We will not tolerate if anybody tries to humiliate Telangana through such tactics," said TRS legislator E. Rajender.

He said the government would have to fulfil its promise of moving the resolution in the state assembly. He termed the resignations a conspiracy to prevent formation of Telangana state.

Another TRS leader, N. Narasimha Reddy, tried to play down the resignations.

"The resignations are an internal matter of those parties. We are interested only in formation of separate Telangana state and nobody can stop it," he said while addressing a massive meeting of students at Osmania University to celebrate the victory.

Speakers at the meeting also made it clear that there was no question of allowing union territory status to Greater Hyderabad and said the city would be the capital of the new state.

Russian consul general seeks proper probe into rape case

Panaji: The Russian consulate in Mumbai has asked the Goa chief minister to ensure proper investigation into the alleged rape of a 25-year-old Russian girl by a local politician, and warned that such incidents "spoil the image of Goa as a safe place for tourists".

In his letter dated December 7, a copy of which is in possession of media, Consul-General Alexander Mantytsky said: "The consulate general would like you to order corresponding authorities to take necessary actions to investigate the crime, punish the guilty and keep us well posted on about the results".

It cites the Russian woman's claim that the Goa police officials had tried to dissuade her from filing a case against the accused, John Fernandes, a politician attached to a regional political outfit, the Save Goa Front (SGF).

"Next day, they went to the Colva police station to lodge a complaint. Policemen asked not to do that because John Fernandes was a local politician and any attempts to investigate this case would be useless," the consul general's letter quotes the victim as saying.

"As per the applicant, the police threatened her with the cancellation of her visa. They forced her to file a complaint about molestation, not rape. Police also registered the case under section 354 (assault) of the IPC and warned her if she did not change the rape charge, she would lose her job," Mantytsky said.

He noted that the victim is a holder of a triple business visa valid till October 2010 and that she is the Russian representative at the Leela hotel at Cavelossim, in South Goa.

Nearly 30,000 Russian tourists visit Goa each year.

BJP taking country in wrong direction, says Congress

New Delhi: Terming Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) position on demolition of the Babri mosque as a "national shame", the Congress said today that the opposition party was taking the country in a wrong direction "in the name of Lord Ram".

"Don't make false arguments. You will regret it tomorrow. You are taking the country in a wrong direction -- that too, in the name of Lord Ram," Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal said participating in the debate on the Liberhan commission report in the Rajya Sabha.

Rejecting the BJP's contention that the demolition of the Babri mosque was a spontaneous act and the Liberhan report was a "national joke", Sibal said the demolition was "a scripted exercise" carried out for political purposes.

"Lord Ram made a sacrifice to keep promise of his father. You want use his name to come to power," he said, asking if Lord Ram was alive, would he have carried out a rath yatra?

"He would have worked for better education and health," the minister said.

Sibal said contours of administration were destroyed by the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh. "There was no difference between a political party, police and bureaucracy," he said, adding that the state agencies helped carry out the agenda of the ruling party.

The minister said that BJP leader Arun Jaitley in his speech Wednesday had skirted the core issue of the responsibility for mosque demolition.

"The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal and their office-bearers in connivance with Kalyan Singh entered into a joint enterprise for destruction of the disputed structure," he said, adding that it was a canard to say that it was a sudden upsurge of sentiments.

"You are playing a joke on the people of this country. You, for a moment, destroyed the soul of India," he said.

Extensively quoting from the Liberhan report, Sibal said Kalyan Singh acted to redeem the BJP's manifesto. The BJP should own up responsibility for the demolition and apologise.

Sibal, whose speech was repeatedly disrupted by the BJP benches, said that the BJP had taken up the temple issue for political purposes after its dismal performance in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.

Going into the details of events of December 6, 1992, he said that the para-military forces were not allowed to take action, police did not stop kar sevaks, and the state government did not associate intelligence agencies in reviewing security of the structure.

Noting that BJP leader L.K. Advani had said that the kar seva will be symbolic, Sibal asked where did the iron bars, pick-axes, and ropes, used to pull down the structure, come from.

He said the Kalyan Singh government had acquired land near the disputed structure so that the kar sevaks were in a better position to destroy the mosque.

Fresh snowfall in Himachal, Rohtang pass again closed

Shimla: Moderate to heavy snowfall was reported across the higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh today, a weather official said. The Rohtang Pass was again closed for vehicular traffic after fresh snow in the area.

"The higher reaches of Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba districts experienced moderate to heavy snow Thursday," Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office here, told the media.

Sher Singh, district public relations officer of Lahaul and Spiti, said the entire district had been experiencing snow since Wednesday.

He said Keylong recorded 27 cm of snow, Kaza and Koksar 14 cm each and Udaipur 30 cm in the district.

A report received from Chamba district said that Tissa, Pangi and Bharmour areas have also received snowfall.

The Rohtang Pass in Kullu district is covered with three to four feet-deep snow, leading to its closure again. The pass, at an altitude of 13,050 feet, was re-opened on Dec 3 after it remained closed for 24 days after massive snowfall in the region.

Hills overlooking the popular tourist destination Manali also experienced moderate snow, while Manali town had mild rain.

Keylong was the coldest place in the state at minus 3.2 degrees Celsius followed by Kalpa in Kinnaur district at minus 1.8 degrees.

20091209

Telangana demand shows people feel neglected: Chidambaram

New Delhi: Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said the demand for a separate Telangana state in Andhra Pradesh showed how people feel neglected despite speaking same language. "Last night (Wednesday) the government announced initiating the process of formation of Telangana. The region is a good example of how people feel neglected despite speaking same language," he told reporters here.

When asked about the possible impact of state formation, he said: "The US has one-third of our population still it has 50 states."

Following pressure and fearing for the deteriorating condition of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who had been on a fast-unto-death for 11 days, the central government late Wednesday pledged to form a separate Telangana state carved out of 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Operations conducted by LeT member serious, says police

Thiruvananthapuram: The operations conducted by suspected self-styled south India chief of the Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba T. Nazeer and his accomplice were serious, Inspector General of Police Tomin J. Thachenkeri who is heading the Kerala police team interrogating the duo said today.

Vital leads have now been sourced from Nazeer, Thachenkeri told media over phone from Bangalore.

"Today again I am interrogating him and by now it has come to light that Kerala was a place which he used effectively for his activities and we have got very valuable information in the past few days," he said.

Both Nazeer and his accomplice Shafas were picked up near the Meghalaya border last week and were brought to Bangalore where he was allegedly involved in the bomb blast that took place last year.

"I am unable to disclose all what has come to light but I can say that he sourced materials to make bombs from a few places in Kerala. He had people to help him," said Thachenkeri.

Already one person who helped Nazeer has been picked up by the Bangalore police with the help of the Kerala police from Thaliparambu in Kannur district.

"Three more people have been picked up from Kannur and the right word you can use is that they are not arrested but they are in custody. Without any doubt I can say that the investigations and the interrogation are going in the right direction," he said.

He also added that he will continue to be in Bangalore till the official who heads the Anti Terror Squad in Kerala who is right now abroad returns and joins the interrogation.

Krishna unprepared on incursion query, says BJP

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna found himself on the back foot in Rajya Sabha today when asked about number of Chinese incursions into Indian territory in the last two years.

"There has been no increase in the number of incursion. I will pass on the information to the honourable member," he said in reply to a supplementary asked by Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during question hour.

This did not satisfy Prasad who said: "The minister is not prepared, he should have statistics."

"I will share it with you and the house," Krisha replied.

"This is an assurance," Chairman Hamid Ansari ruled and moved to the next question.

Telangana issue again rocks Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The Telangana issue briefly rocked the Rajya Sabha today with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members objecting to Home Minister P. Chidambaram making a statement on the creation of a separate state without taking the house into confidence.

BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu raised the issue as soon as the house assembled saying, "The home minister was in the house yesterday (Wednesday) and he should have taken the house into confidence instead he made a statement outside."

Amid protests from Congress members, Chairman Hamid Ansari said: "Members are well aware of the constitution. Nothing will be done without the consent of this house."

The protest continued for five minutes before Ansari managed to order the house and proceeded for question hour.

BJP had forced 15 minutes adjournment of the house on the issue on Wednesday.

Following pressure and fearing for the deteriorating condition of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who had been on a fast-unto-death for 11 days, the central government late Wednesday pledged to form a separate Telangana state carved out of 10 districts of Andhra Pradesh.

KCR achieved in 11 days what he could not in eight years

Hyderabad: In June, when then Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy asked Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao where he would hide after the humiliating electoral defeat, few would have thought that the goal of a separate state would be achieved in just six months.

Through his 11-day fast-unto-death supported by mass protests, the 55-year-old achieved what other leaders from the region could not in five decades.

For the TRS chief, who called off his fast late on Wednesday and broke down while paying tributes to those who laid down their lives for the formation of Telangana, the sudden demise of Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in September removed the biggest hurdle in achieving his goal.

YSR, as Rajasekhara Reddy was popularly known, was belligerent in his attacks on Rao. With his iron-like grip over the government and Congress and the kind of rapport he had with the central leadership, he never allowed Rao to dominate.

In October, when the Supreme Court declared Hyderabad a free zone in matters of recruitment to police department, KCR, as the TRS chief is known among his supporters, saw it as a golden opportunity to strike.

The death of YSR and the court order provided much needed oxygen to TRS reeling under the rout in March-April elections.

The TRS founder gave the slogan of "Telangana waley jago, Andhra waley bhago ((Arise people of Telangana, run away people of Andhra)".

A frail-looking KCR has always been a crowd puller. Known for his acerbic criticism of his rivals with a mixture of Telugu and Urdu words, he attracted a huge crowd at the public meeting at Siddipet on Oct 21, where he threatened civil war for achieving separate state.

It was in 2001 that KCR quit as deputy speaker of the assembly and resigned from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to float the TRS. The former minister hailing from Medak district revived the decades old movement, which has almost died after the violent agitation of 1969.

His rallies proved an instant hit and the party made an impressive electoral debut in local body elections.

In the 2004 elections, which TRS fought in alliance with Congress, the party had bagged 26 assembly and five Lok Sabha seats.

Though he succeeded in taking the Telangana issue to the centre stage and extracted promises from Congress-led UPA government, he failed to achieve his goal.

His flip-flop on the issue, the repeated deadlines he fixed for achieving the goal, his perceived dictatorial attitude and controversial decisions disillusioned the party cadre and 10 legislators staged a revolt.

KCR pulled out of coalition governments and threatened to expose the Congress for betraying the people of Telangana. However, his gamble of going for by-elections last year boomeranged as the TRS could retain only seven assembly and two Lok Sabha seats.

He found a new ally in TDP after it backed the demand for separate Telangana before the elections early this year.

TRS contested 50 of the 119 Assembly seats in the Telangana region but won only 10. YSR interpreted this as the vote against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

KCR's critics, including revolutionary balladeer Gaddar, said he was weakening the movement by running after votes instead of launching a mass movement.

Gaddar, who had also announced plans to launch his own party, was proved right as KCR succeeded in achieving through agitation what he could not through votes.

Bangladesh's main opposition party resents 'transit' to India

Dhaka: The country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has opposed the government's move to join the UN-sponsored Asian Highway, saying it would provide "transit" to India for its northeastern region.

A resolution passed at the fifth national council meeting here reiterated its stand, which had been adopted when the party ruled the nation (2001-06), that India stands to gain at the expense of Bangladesh, reports the New Age.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has initiated moves to join both the Asian highway and the Asian rail network that would connect Bulgaria in Europe to Bangkok in Southeast Asia, a move that reverses what it considers the 'isolationist' policy of the government of her arch political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia.

Bangladesh is in talks with the Indian railway authorities to improve the rail infrastructure and make it compatible for the transnational network.

By another resolution, the BNP asked the government to "expedite diplomatic efforts" to prevent India from building a dam on Barak river at Tipaimukh, 200 km upstream of Bangladesh.

Zia had made this demand in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that was sent a few months back.

India says it will not draw water from the Tipaimukh dam and states that it is only for power generation. It has repeatedly assured that it will do nothing to jeopardise Bangladesh's interests.

Both are delicate issues in Bangladesh-India bilateral ties that are expected to come up during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit next month to New Delhi.

Another resolution passed by the BNP was asking the government to resolve the maritime boundary "in consultation with neighbouring countries".

Maritime boundary is emerging as an important issue in South Asian region with all the littoral states in the Bay of Bengal rushing to explore hydrocarbons.

Marginal improvement in KCR's health condition

TELANGANA DRAMA UPDATE:

TRS Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, who is on a hunger strike on Telangana issue, has started taking intravenous fluids and his condition has marginally improved, doctors attending on him said today.

"He (Rao) was refusing to take any intravenous fluids or any other medication. However at around 1 pm, he agreed to have intravenous fluids," the doctors of the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) said.

"He also agreed to undergo blood tests. The blood samples were drawn. Then IV line was established. Subsequently, intravenous fluids were administered to him... the initial blood reports indicate that the reports are near normal," they said.

"He took antibiotic dose in the afternoon and also agreed for starting saline," they said.

Earlier in the morning, the doctors said the TRS chief refused intravenous antibiotic and fluids.

Courtesy: PTI News

Govt silent on timeframe for solution to Telangana

TELANGANA DRAMA UPDATE:

Government today said a solution to the contentious Telengana issue is "under discussion" but did not give any timeframe for it.

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the issue is under discussion but the government has not yet arrived at a decision to the issue, which hogged the limelight following violent protests by TRS and indefinite hunger strike by its chief K Chandrasekhar Rao.

"It (solution) is not decided yet. It is under discussion," Moily told reporters here.

Asked whether a solution will be arrived within a day or two, the Minister said, "we have not decided yet. Then how can I say that the issue will be solved within a day or two.

How can I give you a timeframe?"

However, he expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved, saying that all problems have a solution.

Courtesy: PTI NEWS

Have patience on Telangana: Sonia tells Cong MPs

TELANGANA DRAMA UPDATE

Congress President Sonia Gandhi today told party MPs from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh to have "patience" on the separate statehood demand as she is seized of the matter.

She made the remarks to a group of MPs from the state who called on her to greet on her 64th birthday here.

The MPs also told her that the people of Telangana are "hoping that the Congress President will come to their rescue and take steps for the creation of Telangana."

"We told her about the Telangana demand. She asked us to be patient and that she is aware of the issue completely and will take a decision," Malkajgiri MP Sathyanarayana Sarvey told PTI.

Besides him, several MPs, including Karimnagar MP Ponnam Prabhakar was also present during the meeting.

Courtesy: PTI NEWS

Police crack down on students at Osmania University

TELANGANA DRAMA UPDATE:

A day ahead of the call for march to the legislative assembly to press their demand for a separate state, police today cracked down on pro-Telangana activists on the Osmania University campus taking into custody around 50 of them.

They also foiled an attempt by the supporters of BJP's students wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to storm the state assembly, which is in session.

The TRS and the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of students, spearheading the statehood movement, have together called the march to the assembly tomorrow to give an added thrust to their agitation.

The JAC activists had been mobilising support for their movement on the campus where they had pitched camps since last nine days.

"The protesting student leaders who are led by outsiders have been removed from the camps. We asked them to stay away from the Osmania University.

Din in Andhra assembly over Telangana issue

TELANGANA DRAMA UPDATE:

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly was adjourned for 15 minutes today over the TRS demand for passing a resolution favouring formation of a separate Telangana state.

For the second consecutive day, TRS members, holding placards, raised slogans and demanded that the House pass the resolution in favour of Telangana.

The Centre should be given time to take a decision on the Telangana issue, Chief Minister K Rosaiah said and appealed to the TRS members to let the House take up business as per the agenda.

"This (Telangana) is a sensitive issue. It is not easy to pass a resolution. Don't you want the resolution to win (if introduced). The issue is under consideration of the government. You have made your point. Let the House discuss other public issues of importance," Rosaiah said.

Courtesy: PTI NEWS

20091208

Kashmir resolution crucial for South Asia stability: US military chief Mullen

Washington: Describing the resolution of the Kashmir issue as crucial for the stability of the South Asian region, the US' military chief has welcomed India's reduction of troops in Jammu and Kashmir. "In the long-run, resolution of the border in the east in Kashmir is a very important outcome. Obviously, that is a principal concern to India and Pakistan," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told foreign correspondents here on Tuesday.

"But there is a concern to many others in terms of stability of the region. I think that is a key part of what needs to happen in the future," Mullen said when asked how the US was addressing Pakistan's concerns about its border with India and the Pakistani militants receiving military weapons from Afghanistan.

Welcoming India's decision to reduce troops from Jammu and Kashmir, Mullen said "de-tensioning" of the state's border with Pakistan was absolutely critical to the long-term stability of the region.

"I really do believe that de-tensioning that (Kashmir) Indo-Pak border is absolutely critical to the long term stability in that region and it is going to take outreach on the part of both countries."

"I am very positively moved by the steps that the Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh's government has taken with respect to this," Mullen said when asked about the implications of New Delhi's decision to reduce troops in Jammu and Kashmir.

He added: "I think that the adjustments that the Indians have proposed, and to the degree that has been executed - I am just not current on the level of execution right now - but certainly executing those changes is a very positive step.

"I think, the leadership - the political leadership, the diplomatic leadership and military leadership in both countries and in the region need to continue to encourage and also to respond."

The top US military official, who has made several trips to Pakistan in the last one year and has been in constant contact with the top Pakistani military leadership, said the US will coordinate its counterinsurgency efforts on the Afghan side for addressing Islamabad's concerns over possible influx of militants into tribal areas.

Indian student attacked again in Australia

Melbourne: Another incident of racial discrimination and violence resulted against Indian students in Australia, when a student of India of 23 years of age was stabbed by unidentified attackers in Melbourne today.

The student who worked part time as a taxi driver was attacked brutally at Brunswick West Street in the city. The student parked his cab outside the house of his girlfriend in the early hours today. Suddenly a scream was heard by his girlfriend who rushed outside and found her boyfriend bleeding.

Police said that the assault was not because of racial discrimination or robbery as nothing was stolen from the student. Investigators are now searching for the assailants and the actual reason behind the attack.

Since the month of June more than 30 Indian students and teens have been assaulted in different Australian cities. The government of Australia has promised to undertake necessary measures against these attacks but still nothing seems to be done yet.

HIV/AIDS bill soon to be finalised: Azad

New Delhi: The HIV/AIDS bill, aimed at preventing discrimination and protecting the rights of people living with the disease, is "under finalisation", union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday. Azad informed the Rajya Sabha that the government proposes to introduce the HIV/AIDS bill but there were no firm dates yet.

"The draft of the bill on HIV/AIDS is at present under finalisation. However, no firm date can be indicated at this stage," he said in a written reply to a question on when the bill was going to be introduced in parliament.

India has 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients who often battle discrimination and social ostracism at various levels.

The bill aims to ensure equal rights for HIV positive people so that they don't face discrimination at work, healthcare centres, in education and other settings.

The bill was first drafted in 2005, but has since run into roadblocks.

Lay down arms before talks, insurgents told

New Delhi: The government today reiterated that talks will be held with insurgents in the northeastern region and Maoists only if they gave up their weapons.

"Our stand is clear. Lay down arms, give up demands for sovereignty and talks can be held. My appeal is common to all insurgent groups (in the northeast). Give up demands for sovereignty and lay down your arms. This will open the way for talks," Home Minister P. Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha.

The minister was asked if the government was contemplating talks with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Chidambaram added that three leaders of the group had been apprehended on the Meghalaya-Bangladesh border and handed over to the Assam Police.

He replied in similar vein to another question on the steps the government was taking to contain the Maoist menace.

"If the Naxalites (Maoists) abjure violence, talks can be held on all matters of concern," Chidambaram said.

Ranganathan Mishra report to be tabled this session: PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the Justice Ranganathan Mishra report on the status of religious and linguistic minorities in the country would be tabled in parliament during the ongoing session.

Manmohan Singh's assurance to the house came following an allegation by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav that the report had been leaked to the media without being submitted before the house.

"I have taken note of it. I assure that the report will be tabled before the session gets over," he said in the Lok Sabha.

The National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities led by Justice Ranganathan Mishra, former chief justice of India, had submitted its report to the prime minister May 22, 2007.

KCR's health gets worse after refusing to stop fasting

Hyderabad: The health of the chief of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, K Chandrasekhar Rao is weakening at an alarming rate as per a medical bulletin that also suggested that he was in urgent requirement of oral feed.

Rao is 55 years old and has already been fasting for 11 days demanding a separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh. He has already said no to intravenous antibiotics, glucose, saline and all other related supportive treatments as per the doctors who have been treating him at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, where he is presently admitted.

The medical bulletin has suggested that he has not been helping the doctors with his treatment and has not done a blood test. Even though he is still in his senses and has been talking it has been suggested that he took treatment.

T Harish Rao, one of the senior MLAs of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and KCR's nephew has requested the leader to stop his fast, along with other family members but has not been able to meet with much success.

Telangana bandh hits IT and ITeS hard

HYDERABAD: The second day of the Telangana RashtraSamiti (TRS) called bandh had an impact on the large IT and ITeS sector in the city. "Many companies have reported an average attendance of around 60 per cent," said M Narsimha Rao, president, Hyderabad Software Exporters Association (Hysea).

While this has been so, one large IT player reported an attendance of as low as 30 per cent in its non 24x7 operations while its 24x7 operations had 90 per cent attendance. The head of another US headquartered IT company said that of the 12 buses it operates from various parts of city to ferry its employees to its centre in Hi-tec City, one was blocked near ECIL. "Many employees who use their personal transport called to say that they cannot come as they do not have fuel to drive their two wheelers," he said. Petrol stations in the city remain closed from Saturday evening itself though the bandh was effective midnight. Even as some top managers made alternative plans like transferring petrol and diesel from their cars into others to run them, many employees stayed put in their homes.

On the bandh and the impact it would have on the image of the industry, Som Mittal, president, National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) said: "While everybody has a right to protest, we have to realise that we are servicing global clients on a 24x7 basis. This doesn't help anyone and ultimately clients will move away. Hyderabad in particular has a large and important hub for us with its BPOs and 24x7 operations."

Hyderabad has been a favourite destination for IT investments employing about 2.5 lakh people making it the largest organised employer in the state. "We have to put plan B whenever there is a bandh. Frequent bandhs raise concerns and doubts amongst customers. They also put a big question mark on our plans to increase headcount and expansion even as we are just turning around the corner after the recession," rued the centre head of a large IT company.

While this was so, some TRS activists pelted stones and broke the glass panes of some cars parked outside the Genpact Centre in Uppal area of the city. Even though AP government was sympathetic and provided additional security, the effectiveness of that was limited. "While Nasscom continues to work with the state government, it needs to take charge," Mittal stressed.

Industry in general is also a worried lot. When contacted, Y Harishchandra Prasad, chairman, CII AP chapter quipped: "Any bandh is bad for the industry and it is affecting us adversely. We are just waiting and watching the developments carefully." He refrained to comment further due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Apprehension among corporates was also visible as companies which had scheduled press conferences in the city on Tuesday have cancelled them fearing trouble, though the bandh would be over. "Our client asked us what they should do. As a precautionary move we advised them to postpone it," said the head of a PR agency.

Moreover, it is sad for students as employment opportunities are whittled away. They need to understand the long-term implications of their actions, pointed out an industry leader.


Courtesy: Times Of India

20091207

Will Asaram Bapu be arrested for attack on ex-sadhak



Ahmedabad: Will Asaram Bapu be arrested in the case in which a former sadhak was fired at by two assailants on Saturday night?This is the question doing rounds after the case of Raju Chandak being shot at came to light. Chandak was allegedly facing threats from aides of Asaram prior to the incident.
It should be noted that though few sadhaks were arrested and the ashram itself came under cloud after the mysterious death of two boys of the gurukul, Asaram himself was not touched by the Gujarat police. Asaram Bapu has been accused by Chandak of being the brain behind the firing incident that happened in the Sabarmati area.

The FIR lodged by Chandak names Asaram and two others for attempt to murder. As per the rules, police are required to immediately act against a person if he is named in an FIR and faces charges as serious as attempt to murder. DNA sought legal opinions on the matter.

"As per the orders of various high courts and the Supreme Court, the police should immediately take action against any person who is named in a police complaint. In the present case, Chandak has clearly named Asaram and it is reason enough for the police to take action against him," said lawyer Rajesh Modi, of sessions court.

However, another lawyer said that the police should nab the main accused first and then look for the conspirator. "The police should first trace the main accused who fired at Chandak and then take action against Asaram Bapu. It is a general principle of law that police should nab the main accused and if he or she names a conspirator, then the police can take against the conspirator," said PA Jadeja, lawyer of Gujarat high court.

Another city lawyer expressed views similar to Jadeja's. "Until and unless the accused are identified and arrested, the police cannot approach a person who is alleged to have been involved in an offence. This is the case even if the person has been named by the victim. The police should first identify the assailant," said Hashim Qureshi, lawyer of Gujarat high court.

"In the present case, if the police think it is the prima facie case they can arrest Bapu," opined RK Shah, a HC lawyer.

Ranbir, Priyanka didn't hike fee for my movie: Sajid Nadiadwala

Mumbai: Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra are riding high at the box office these days but they offered to keep their fees at the most reasonable for "Anjana Anjani", making Sajid Nadiadwala a happy producer.

"Ranbir and Priyanka were already part of our extended family. When Ranbir's father Chintu-ji (Rishi Kapoor) was working in my dad's production 'Hathyar', I was an assistant. That's when I got to know Chintu-ji and his family," Nadiadwala told the media.

"Priyanka has been family from the time she did 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi' for my banner. So yes, they've certainly not hiked their price just because they are super-saleable today. In fact, they didn't even discuss money with me."

This is Ranbir and Priyanka's first film together and Nadiadwala says their chemistry was evident in Bangkok. "Both Ranbir and Priyanka have changed their looks for this film. They hardly knew one another before the shooting. So they're getting to know each other as their on-screen romance progresses.

"Ranbir is entertaining on screen. But he carries that sense of fun from the screen to the sets. Priyanka was in her own shell to begin with. But her resolve didn't take long to dissolve," he said.

Nadiadwala's last release "Kambakht Ishq", which starred Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor, got a lukewarm response but it hasn't dissuaded him from shooting "Anjana Anjani" in foreign locales. He heads to the US to shoot the film.

Those who thought Nadiadwala was done with sylvester Stallone, who played a cameo in his "Kambakht Ishq", here's the surprise element - he has an appointment with the Hollywood action star who may make an appearance in "Anjana Anjani" as well.

"We don't work that way in our production house. Our bonds are for keeps," said the producer, whose elder son Subhaan is a big fan of Stallone.

Subhaan kept in touch with his idol long after "Kambakht Ishq" came and went.

"Subhaan is coming with us only to meet Stallone. To call him Stallone's fan would be an understatement. He isn't a fan, he's a fanatic. His day starts with Stallone's signature song 'Eye Of The Tiger' from 'Rocky'. He knows every trivia associated with Stallone,"Nadiadwala said.

The love of Rocket Singh's life is sales: Ranbir

Mumbai: Ranbir Kapoor and on screen romance almost go hand in hand but his much awaited "Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year" has no love angle. He says the film's protagonist is completely in love with sales.

"It is not a love story. The character Rocket Singh is in love with sales. It's a very simple movie," Ranbir told the media.

This year Ranbir was seen with Konkona Sen Sharma in hit movie "Wake Up Sid" and later teamed up with Katrina Kaif in romantic comedy "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani", winning the hearts of audiences.

And now comes "Rocket Singh" in which he plays Harpreet Singh Bedi, who has just graduated with embarrassing marks. But that doesn't stop him from dreaming about an exciting career. Releasing Friday, the film has been made under the Yash Raj Films' banner.

This is the first film in which Ranbir's physical appearance has been changed for a role. He looks a typical Sikh youth complete with a turban and beard. "It was very important to feel the character first, later you automatically start living him," Ranbir said.

He said that director Shimit Amin and screenwriter Jaideep Sahni had held different workshops for the cast and the crew before starting the shoot.

"Shimit wanted to make the character as real as possible so that it doesn't look as if an actor is trying to be a sardar. Shimit and Jaideep held workshops for 30 days, not just with me but the entire cast and crew," the actor said.

But despite being a Punjabi, Ranbir's character speaks fluent Hindi. "He is Mumbai-based fourth generation sardar, so he has no influence of a Punjabi accent in his diction," Ranbir explained.

In real life too, Ranbir is half Sikh as his maternal grandparents were Sikh.

"My maternal grandmother was extremely thrilled that I was playing a Sardar," said Ranbir.

"I am half sikh though I didn't understand the religion like I do after doing this film. I respect the sacrifices they made and the discipline they have in their religion. It's not that easy to keep a beard and tie pagdi (turban) in warm countries. I really respect them because they do it for their religion and not for their comfort," he said.

Asked what Rocket Singh sells, he said: It's an integral part of the film and we want to guard it till the film releases."

Ranbir hopes that "Rocket Singh...", which is his last release of the year, repeats the success stories of his previous releases and ends the year on a happy note.

"Some films work, some don't. 'Wake Up Sid' worked in a capacity it was meant to work. 'Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani' was a big grosser. As an actor I would like every film of mine to do well. It feels great, as the hard work you put in this whole year has been paid off. With 'Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year', I hope it does better than better," said Ranbir.

Asked if this back-to-back success was adding to the pressure on him, he said: "There is no pressure at all. I am an actor, I don't believe in genes or living in what my great grandfather or my parents have achieved. Here I am as an individual and that's how audiences are going to perceive me, not as someone's son or grandson."

"If my films are doing well, I would like to take some credit for it," he added.

The title song of "Chak De! India", Shimit Amin's last film, had become a sports anthem.

"I hope 'Pocket main Rocket' becomes a salesman's anthem," Ranbir said.

Headley cased Mumbai for two years before 26/11 attacks

Chicago: New federal charges filed against suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba operative David Coleman Headley accuse him of conducting extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai for more than two years before last year's deadly attacks that took the lives of 166 people. Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, already accused of plotting to murder a Danish newspaper cartoonist, on Monday was charged with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark, to provide material support to foreign terrorist plots and to provide material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based militant group.

According to the charges, after learning from members of Lashkar in late 2005 that he would be travelling to India to perform surveillance for Lashkar, Headley changed his name from Daood Gilani on Feb 15, 2006, in Philadelphia, in order to present himself in India as an American who was neither Muslim nor Pakistani.

He later made five extended trips to Mumbai in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008, each time taking pictures and making videotapes of various targets, including those attacked in Nov 2008.

Starting from Nov 26, 2008, and continuing through Nov 28, 2008, 10 attackers trained by Lashkar carried out multiple assaults with firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices against multiple targets in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, the Leopold Cafe, the Nariman House and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, each of which Headley allegedly had scouted in advance.

Headley allegedly attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan that began in February and August 2002 and August and December 2003.

After being tasked in late 2005 with gathering surveillance in Mumbai and changing his name in early 2006, the charges allege that Headley traveled to Chicago in June 2006 and advised a person identified in the charges as Individual A of his assignment.

Headley obtained Individual A's approval to open an office of First World Immigration Services in Mumbai in 2006 as cover for his surveillance activities, the charges allege. Headley allegedly misrepresented his birth name, father's true name and the purpose of his travel in his visa application.

After each trip that Headley took to India between September 2006 and July 2008, he allegedly returned to Pakistan, met with other co-conspirators and provided them with photographs, videos and oral descriptions of various locations.

In March 2008, Headley and his co-conspirators discussed potential landing sites for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea in Mumbai, and he was instructed to take boat trips in and around the Mumbai harbor and take surveillance video, which he did during his visit to India starting in April 2008, the charges allege.

At various times, Headley allegedly conducted surveillance of other locations in Mumbai and elsewhere in India of facilities and locations that were not attacked in November 2008, including the National Defence College in Delhi.

The count against Headley charging conspiracy to bomb public places in India that resulted in deaths carries a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death.

All of the other counts against Headley carry a maximum of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

US prosecutors said they had also unsealed charges against a retired Pakistani military major, Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, for participating in the conspiracy to attack the Danish newspaper and its employees.

Headley and another Chicago man, Tahawwur Hussain Rana, were initially arrested in the Denmark case, charged with plotting an attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten out of revenge for a dozen cartoons printed in 2005 depicting the prophet Muhammad.

Rana has denied involvement in a terror plot.

Authorities said Headley has been cooperating with investigators since FBI agents arrested him at Chcago's O'Hare airport in October.

Manmohan Singh is the most capable PM, says Rahul

Lucknow: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the most capable person to hold the post in the country, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said today.

"We have the most capable person as the prime minister of the country. Not only the Congress party acknowledges that, the opposition and the rest of the world also accept the fact," he told reporters here during his two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh.

When asked why he did not take up the post, the MP from Amethi said: "The reason that I did not become the prime minister of the country is that there are a host of other senior political leaders in the party who are more capable than me."

"My agenda is to bring young people into politics, into youth organisations such as NSUI and Youth Congress and not focus on who should become the prime minister of the country," he said.

Expressing concern over rising prices of essential commodities in the country, Gandhi said: "I have had discussions with the prime minister and he categorically assured me that steps are being planned and effected to control the menace."

"At the moment, the price of pulses seems to be rising. There is also the problem of hoarding at the state level which again significantly contributes towards price rise," he added.

Will Headley get tried in India?

Chicago: The prospects of David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani standing trial in India for his alleged involvement in the planning of the Mumbai terror attacks do not appear promising despite a comprehensive extradition treaty between the two countries.

Considering the gravity of the charges he faces under US laws Headley is expected to remain the focus of an intense investigation for a length of time. The six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India are more than enough to seal Headley's fate in the US if he is found guilty. Federal prosecutors have also charged him with additional six counts of "conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark."

Although the 1997 U.S.-India extradition treaty gives New Delhi the ability to call for Headley's extradition, initial reading of the charges suggest that he is expected to be remain in the US for the foreseeable future.

Article 2(1) of the treaty defines an extraditable offence as "one punishable under the laws of both Contracting States by deprivation of liberty for a period of more than one year, or by a more severe penalty. Use of such a ''dual criminality'' clause rather than a list of offences covered by the Treaty obviates the need to renegotiate or supplement the Treaty as additional offences become punishable under the laws of both Contracting States."

Given that a conviction on the basis of the charges, if and when that happens, carries a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death at least theoretically he is extraditable. Even the fact that he is a US national is no obstacle in the way of his extradition under Article 3 which provides that "extradition shall not be refused on the ground that the person sought is a national of the Requested State." "Neither party, in other words, may invoke nationality as a basis for denying an extradition," it says.

Notwithstanding this clarity, this particular extradition may become untenable in practical terms because the US law enforcement would prefer to keep him within their control for leads to any future investigations.

To give the US investigation specificity, the official press release also named six Americans who were killed in the attacks. They were identified as Ben Zion Chroman, Gavriel Holtzberg, Sandeep Jeswani, Alan Scherr, his daughter Naomi Scherr, and Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum.

Officials would not comment whether the serious charges are in any way connected with the ongoing visit of a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team to India and Pakistan. But it is likely that Headley's continued stay in federal custody without bond since his arrest on Oct 3 and also without any scheduled bond hearing has to do with the expansion of the charges where India would have given significant inputs.

While the Indian media had been reporting for sometime without any specific attribution about Headley's alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the US charges are the first official step of naming him directly.

The fact that some of America's top law enforcement officials were quoted in the press release also underlined the importance that is being given to the Headley case. FBI Director Robert S. Muller, III, said, "This case illustrates the importance of continued global cooperation to combat terrorism around the world. The FBI continues to strengthen relationships and to foster collaboration with our international partners to best ensure our collective ability to identify and disrupt international terror networks."

"This case serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat is global in nature and requires constant vigilance at home and abroad," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "We continue to share leads developed in this investigation with our foreign and domestic law enforcement partners as we work together on this important matter."

Also quoted was Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who has a national reputation as tough prosecutor. "This investigation remains active and ongoing. The team of prosecutors and agents will continue to seek charges against the other persons responsible for these attacks. I continue to express my deep appreciation to the FBI agents and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their extremely hard work on this matter," Fitzgerald said.

Gorshkov deal successfully concluded: Indian foreign secretary

Moscow: India and Russia have "successfully" concluded the agreement on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, ending a long standoff over the key defence deal, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said.

The issue, Rao said, came up during the summit level talks between visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday.

"Both the leaders discussed the issue and noted excellent progress on negotiations on price and technical issues which have been brought to a successful conclusion," she told reporters in a late night briefing.

But the foreign secretary gave no details about the price. Sources had earlier said that it was "satisfactory" for both sides.

The delivery of the aircraft carrier, now rechristened INS Vikramaditya, was agreed years ago but has been long delayed due to bargaining over refitting prices.

The haggling of the Soviet-era carrier had come to symbolise the strains in relations between the two Cold War allies.

Russian media quoting Kremlin sources confirmed that Moscow would finally deliver the refurbished aircraft carrier to India.

However, there was no word on when the vessel might be handed over to the Indian Navy.

Manmohan Singh was on a three-day trip to Moscow during which he signed six bilateral pacts, including a deal on the peaceful use of atomic energy that guarantees uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies for Indian reactors and transfer of technology.

The two sides also inked three military pacts.

FBI team to visit Pakistan to follow Headley leads

Washington: As prosecutors charged American terror suspect David Coleman Headley with conspiracy in last year's Mumbai terror strike, the US said a Justice Department and FBI team will visit Pakistan to follow up on leads about his activities there.

The US team which briefed Indian investigators on the case in New Delhi on Monday "will travel directly to Islamabad to brief appropriate Pakistani security officials," State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters on Monday.

"We're also working with Pakistani officials to follow up on leads regarding Headley's activities in Pakistan," he said hours after prosecutors in Chicago charged the son of a Pakistani diplomat and an American mother with carrying out surveillance on targets in India in advance of the 26/11 terror attacks.

Describing Pakistan as "a critical partner in the fight against terrorism," he said: " We are committed to building a long-term partnership with Pakistan - as the President (Barack Obama) has said, a long-term strategic relationship."

Asked if the US will allow the Indian investigating agencies to question Headley and his alleged accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistan born Chicago businessman who has Canadian citizenship, Kelly said: "I think that' s the kind of detail that I really have to refer you to the Department of Justice on."

Asked if the US was satisfied with the cooperation it was getting from Pakistani authorities in the Headley case, he said: "...We have a very broad and deep relationship with Pakistan on a number of issues, including law enforcement and security issues."

Taking note of the filing of fresh charges against Headley, 49, Kelly said: "Well, obviously, our role is to be the liaison with the governments who are concerned in these judicial issues."

"The US Department of Justice and the FBI sent a briefing team that today (Monday) shared with Indian law enforcement counterparts information disclosed by Headley relating to his alleged roles in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and his alleged role in plotting an attack in Denmark."

This visit, he said "reflects the President's commitment to Indian Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh during his recent visit to cooperate closely on the case."

"We have also been cooperating or consulting closely with Pakistani authorities on this case as well, following the practices developed in previous high-profile counter-terrorism investigations," Kelly said.

"After the meetings in New Delhi, this team of the Department of Justice and the FBI will travel directly to Islamabad to brief appropriate Pakistani security officials," he said.

Headley case shows importance of global cooperation: US

Washington: US law enforcement officials say the case of American terror suspect David Headley charged with conspiracy in last year's Mumbai terror strike shows the importance of vigilance and global cooperation to combat terrorism.

"This case illustrates the importance of continued global cooperation to combat terrorism around the world," FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, said on Monday as prosecutors in Chicago filed fresh charges against Headley, the son of a Pakistani diplomat and an American socialite mother.

"The FBI continues to strengthen relationships and to foster collaboration with our international partners to best ensure our collective ability to identify and disrupt international terror networks," Mueller said.

"This case serves as a reminder that the terrorist threat is global in nature and requires constant vigilance at home and abroad," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "We continue to share leads developed in this investigation with our foreign and domestic law enforcement partners as we work together on this important matter."

"This investigation remains active and ongoing. The team of prosecutors and agents will continue to seek charges against the other persons responsible for these attacks," said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

"I continue to express my deep appreciation to the FBI agents and other members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their extremely hard work on this matter," said Fitzgerald.

The US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California and the FBI' s offices in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, are also participating in the case.

No date has been set yet for the arraignment of Headley, 49, in US District Court in Chicago.

Headley was charged in a 12-count criminal information with six counts of conspiracy to bomb public places in India, to murder and maim persons in India and Denmark and provide material support to foreign terrorist plots, and to provide material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan based terror outfit.

He has also been charged on six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India.

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Telangana shut for second day; KCR continues fas



Hyderabad: Normal life remained paralysed in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh on Monday for the second successive day as the 48-hour shutdown called by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) demanding a separate state of Telangana evoked total response.

Hyderabad and nine other districts of the region continued to be tense as TRS chief K Chandrasekhara Rao's fast-unto-death entered the ninth day.

For the second day, buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) remained off the roads while road blockades by the protestors affected vehicular movement on the highways.

All educational institutions, shops, business establishments, cinema theatres and petrol bunks remained closed in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana, causing severe inconvenience to the public.

Tension prevailed on the campus of Osmania University in Hyderabad on Monday morning as armed policemen and personnel of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were mobilised in huge numbers to prevent students from taking out a rally to the state assembly.

Police entered the Arts College on the campus and the university hostel to evict students, who planned to lay siege to the assembly to demand that it pass a resolution on a separate Telangana state.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of students and teachers of Osmania University has protested the police action and demanded that the government withdraw all forces from the campus. The JAC leaders have warned the government of serious consequences otherwise.

Suicide by five Telangana sympathizers, sporadic incidents of violence, widespread protests across the region and road blockades marked the shutdown on the first day Sunday.

Meanwhile, KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, continued his fast-unto-death at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) here demanding separate statehood to the Telangana region.

Doctors at NIMS said KCR, who was in judicial custody, was running high temperature and had turned very weak as he has not been taking food for the past nine days.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah personally went to NIMS Sunday night to persuade KCR to end the fast but the latter made it clear that he would not call off the fast unless a decision was taken on carving out a separate Telangana state.

Rosaiah, who was accompanied by Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) president Ajit Singh and health minister D. Nagender, told KCR that the central government was seized of the Telangana issue but the TRS chief demanded that at least the state assembly pass a resolution.

KCR was arrested on November 29 by the police near Karimnagar town when he was heading to Siddipet town in Medak district for launching a fast unto death. He was taken to Khammam town, where a court sent him to jail for 14 days.

India is facing both internal, external threats: RSS chief

Chandigarh: Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said here on Sunday that India is facing internal threats from various quarters and the outside world is trying to take advantage of the situation. "India is facing a big problem of Maoists and Naxalites. Unfortunately other countries have established strong links with them and now they are posing a big threat for the country's security," said Bhagwat, while addressing RSS workers' convention here.

"India is also facing threat from its neighbouring countries. Everyone knows the intentions of Pakistan, China wants to snatch one whole state just through negotiations and so far Bangladesh has not declared the various terrorist based in their country."

The RSS chief also attacked the developed countries, holding them responsible for current disorder in the world.

"Countries, which teach us lessons of peace and harmony, themselves indulge in bombing and attacking other countries. Just to sell their weapons, they drag other poor countries into war," he said.

He said that differences based on caste, creed and languages have become very deep in the country and some political leaders are using them as a tool to fulfill their political aspirations.

"Socialists and capitalists have not been able to deliver on their promises and even the growth of science and technology is failure in bringing peace of mind to humanity. Its time to take along all sections of society if we want to live a safe and secure life," Bhagwat said.

FBI team in India with Headley information

New Delhi: A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team arrived in India today on a two-day visit with information on Pakistan-born suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana presently in US custody.

"Investigations are on in the matter. The FBI team is here and we have been assured of all cooperation from the US," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said on the sidelines of the India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference here.

India hopes the FBI team will have key information about the two terror suspects, whose roles are being probed in last year's Mumbai terror attack, which left over 170 people dead.

Headley and Rana had travelled to India extensively before the 26/11 attacks.

Indian intelligence agencies believe Headley was a missing link in the Mumbai attacks and had provided photographs, maps and other details to the 10 Lashkar terrorists who sailed into the city through Karachi.

The FBI had Oct 3 arrested Headley, a Pakistani born national but settled in the US, for alleged links with an international terror network. Rana, a Canadian citizen and Headley's accomplice, was arrested Oct 18. Rana was living legally in Chicago, where he operated an immigration centre.

The two, according to the FBI charges, were scheming a terror attack on a Danish newspaper that had published blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban.

According to investigators, they were working on behalf of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit and were planning new terror attacks in India.

The decision of the FBI to come to India follows intensive discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama in Washington last month.

CIA chief Leon Panetta had disclosed the links of Headley-Rana to elements in Pakistan's ISI when he met National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan in New Delhi in November.