The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

February 28, 2009

Malegaon blast accused to contest election

Samir Kulkarni, an accused in the Malegaon bomb blasts, who is currently in police custody has announced his plans to contest the election from Bhopal.

Kulkarni is the leader of the radical Hindutva outfit Abhinava Bharat that is charged of involvement in several terrorist strikes in Maharashtra and attempts to set off bomb blasts in other states also.

The announcement came at the Jabalpur High Court where Kulkarni was brought in connection with the case involving attack on a church. He is the main accused behind the conspiracy.

As he arrived in the court, Kulkarni told media persons that he would fight election from the Bhopal constituency to defeat Congress. He also said that he would respectfully take BJP leader Kailash Joshi towards retirement and instead fight the polls. He was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) along with Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur and other accused.

TIH Bureau

Hindu outfit against allotting elephant as poll symbol

Claiming that elephant is associated with Hinduism, a group of parties led by Hindu Jagran Manch have protested allotting the elephant as election symbol to any party.

Led by the Hindu Jagran Manch, these parties have fired a missive to the Election Commission and expressed their unhappiness over the EC's move to allot elephant as a symbol to contestants.

"Elephant is associated to Hinduism as Lord Ganesha is worshipped and it's use as a symbol would hurt the religious feelings of the Hindus", said Om Prakash Mishra, head of Awadh unit of the Manch, after a meeting in Pratapgarh today.

He has warned that if the symbol was allotted, the Mahapanchyat of Sadhus and Saints would be called for a mass movement. Later a sit-in would be staged at EC office and subsequently at the Parliament, he said.

Apart from the symbols of recognised parties, the commission allots symbols like clock, ladder, pressure cooker, lion and bucket to those who contest as independent candidates or to small parties.

TIH Bureau

Lalji Tandon is BJP candidate from Lucknow

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to field senior party leader Lalji Tandon from Lucknow constituency that was earlier represented by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Tandon is an old BJP warhorse and a familiar face in Lucknow. The other two candidates in the fray are BSP candidate Akhilesh Das and Samajwadi Party's Sanjay Dutt.

Vajpayee had represented Lucknow seat for five terms and his victory was considered certain from the constituency. However, owing to his ill health and age, the party has fielded Tandon.

Though BJP has been on the down slide in Uttar Pradesh over the last decade, the party has been fetching votes from the urban constituencies. Tandon has been associated with the party from the days of Jan Sangh.

However, it will not be an easy task for him to sail through as Akhilesh Das, the BSP candidate, had begun campaigning long back. The popularity of film star Sanjay Dutt should also be a cause for worry for Tandon.

TIH Bureau

February 27, 2009

Tainted Gujarat MLA Maya Kodnani to be sacked!

BJP legislator and a minister in Gujarat government, Mayaben Kodnani, is facing heat after the Special Investigative Team (SIT) chargesheeted her for instigating mass murders.

The Congress leaders met Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma and submitted a memorandum to him urging him to take action against the MLA. Sharma has assured the delegation that he would take all steps within his jurisdiction to ensure action.

Kodnani is charged of provoking the mob to attack Muslim houses in Naroda Patia in Ahmedabad. SIT had made Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel accused in the mass murders during the post-Godhra riots.

The state government affidavit in the court also supports the SIT charge sheet. A number of witnesses told the team that Kodnani was carrying a gun and had distributed swords among the riotous mob.

Kodnani, who is a practicing doctor, had emerged as the most militant face of Hindutva during the carnage that saw nearly 2,000 persons, mostly Muslims dead, in killings.

She had sought anticipatory bail from a local court. Later the SIT approached the High Court which served notice to Kodnani. The date for the hearing has been fixed on March 2.

The state government hasn't dropped her from ministry but there are indications that she may face the axe in coming days. The Governor's assurance to Congress delegation also hints that she could be removed.

TIH Bureau

Tata Nano booking to start from April

The much-awaited Tata Nano will finally reach showrooms across the country by March-end and the booking for the car will start in the first week of April.

The car will be finally launched on March 23 and the next month the buyers can start booking at the nearest dealer. An advance amount of Rs 70,000 will have to be deposited for booking the car.

Though the mass production will take sometime in proportion to the huge demand, it is learnt that the car will hit Indian roads in May. The basic Re 1 lakh car that had been promised would cost around Rs 1.2 lakh after taxes and accessories.

The A/C model will cost around Rs 1.35 lakh. Still, the price would be around 40% less than the Maruti 800. Till now Tata Motors has been successful in creating an unprecedented hype about their Lakhtakia car.

TIH Bureau

February 26, 2009

Thackeray was Modi's saviour after Gujarat riots

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has said that he had dissuaded the BJP leadership from taking action against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi following the post-Godhra carnage.

Thackeray has claimed that due to the large-scale rioting and killings, LK Advani wanted to sack Modi. "It was at my insistence that Modi was not removed", says the Sena supremo.

In an editorial that appeared in the party mouthpiece Saamna, the cartoonist-turned-politician has written that the BJP leadership wanted to replace Modi with some other leader but Thackeray prevailed upon Advani.

"I had told him that if Modi goes then the state will also slip out of the hand of the BJP", writes Thackeray. The post-Godhra riots had caused over 2,000 deaths in the entire state.

Mostly Muslims were killed in the pogrom which had caused international outrage as the riots were believed to have been organised by the Hindutva brigade with the complicity of a section of police and state administration.

TIH Bureau

Bihar BJP MLA calls Muslim legislator 'Pakistani'

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader surprised the members of the Bihar Assembly with his remark about a fellow RJD MLA, whom he called 'Pakistani'.

Following the remark, the opposition MLAs created a ruckus in the Assembly. They entered the well of the house and raised slogans against the BJP leader Ramadhar Singh.

The incident occurred when Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MLAs were attacking senior BJP leader LK Advani during the discussion over budget. RJD MLA Shakil Ahmad was also among those critical of Advani.

However, Ramadhar Singh stunned everybody with the sudden remark. He told Ahmad that he shouldn't speak over the matter as he is a 'Pakistani'. Furious over the remark, RJD legislators rushed towards the speaker's chair and demanded apology.

The leaders of other opposition parties also condemned the communal comment. Speaker UN Chaudhary has called an all party meeting over the issue. In the past also Singh's comments have received criticism.

TIH Bureau

February 25, 2009

Two Shiva devotees jump into fire

Two youths who were devout worshippers of Lord Shiva, sacrificed their lives by jumping into the fire in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh on Shivaratri.

The two persons Sita Ram, 29, and Devi Das, 24, had taken a pledge for 40 days and committed self-sacrifice by throwing themselves into the fire on Maha Shivaratri night.

Both were farmers and would round the clock chant Siva's name, villagers said. Their devotion had taken the form of a blind superstition and had told their families that they would either bring Shiva to their respective homes or go to him.

The incident was reported in Shivnoor village in Adilabad district, reports reaching here from Hyderabad said. The bodies were badly burnt within minutes. The police are looking into the matter.

TIH Bureau

Shiv Sena supremo snubs Advani

The Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Tuesday snubbed BJP leader LK Advani when the latter expressed his intention to meet the Sena supremo at his Mumbai residence.

The Shiv Sena conveyed that it was not possible for Bal Thackeray to meet Advani at such a short-notice, as no prior appointment had been sought by the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate.

Thackeray's refusal to meet Advani took many in the BJP by surprise. Advani had reached Mumbai to attend a party function and after the event, he decided to call on Thackeray.

But the'no' from Matoshri startled Advani's partymen though they didn't react over it. The Shiv Sena is the oldest ally of BJP but the parties have had a strained relationship lately.

It is believed that after the elections, Sena may support NCP strongman Pawar for the post of Prime Minister, in the case of a hung parliament. Earlier also Sena had supported Pratibha Patil, who hails from Maharashtra, for the post of President despite BJP's opposition.

TIH Bureau

February 24, 2009

I'm not a PM candidate, says Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi has ruled out any chance of his becoming the Prime Minister if UPA comes back to power after the upcoming Lok Sabha general elections.

Replying to a tribal youth's query, Rahul said that Manmohan Singh is the Prime Ministerial candidate and would head the government once again, if Congress returns to the Centre.

The son of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said that he didn't even think of this possibility. When asked about the elections in 2014, the scion of Nehru-Gandhi family said that it was too distant in future to even think about it.

Rahul Gandhi has been on an extensive tour in tribal areas of Gujarat. Several leaders in the Congress are pressing the leadership to project Rahul as the Prime Ministerial candidate. However, he has categorically denied that he is in the race for the post.

TIH Bureau

February 23, 2009

AR Rahman gets two Oscar awards for Slumdog

Music maestro AR Rahman brought laurels to the country with Oscar awards in two categories--Best Original Music Score and Best Song, as Slumdog Millionaire got eight awards.

The Indian music composer said 'God is great' in his mother tongue, Tamil, after accepting the award. He recalled a line from the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Deewar, 'Mere paas maa hai' ( I have mother) to thank his mother for her blessings.

Allah Rakha Rahman, who was born a Hindu and later converted to Islam under the influence of a Sufi Saint, said the film was about hope and optimism. "All my life I had this choice to make and I chose love".

He shares the award for best original song 'Jai Ho' with lyricist Gulzar. In all, the movie was nominated for ten awards and swept the function by bagging eight Oscar awards.

Danny Boyle got the award for Best Director and Resul Pookutty was chosen for Best Sound Mixing, sharing it with Ian Tapp and Richar Pryke. Pookutty dedicated the award to his country (India).

Incidentally, Pookutty is also a Muslim while Gulzar is a Sikh. The success of Slumdog Millionaire is also a reflection of the celebration of India's diversity. The 39 minute documentary Smile Pinki also won Oscar award.

TIH Bureau

'TDP will not support Advani as Prime Minister'

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu has said that his party will not support the candidature of senior BJP leader LK Advani as Prime Minister of India.

Naidu said that there was no question of his party giving support to the BJP. He event went to the extent of declaring that the party will have no relations with the BJP in future.

Naidu was a partner in the BJP-led NDA government of which Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. However, on Sunday Naidu said that the support to BJP cost him his minority vote.

The BJP government in Gujarat is held responsible for large-scale communal violence and rioting. The then NDA government at the Centre is also blamed for not reining in the state administration.

Andhra Pradesh has a strong Muslim population. The capital Hyderabad that was ruled by Nizams has 40% Muslim population. Andhra Pradesh also has a strong Christian population.

Congress is in power in Andhra Pradesh and the TDP feels that its support to BJP was responsible for its loss despite Naidu government's initiatives that brought Hyderabad on the map of Information Technology (IT) on the globe.

TIH Bureau

Nano car taken to Ajmer for Khwaja's blessings

TATA Motor's long-awaited car Nano was taken to Ajmer for blessings of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The car is about to be launched later this year.

The much-hyped car will be available in the market soon. The model has been heralded as ordinary Indian's car that was initially priced at Rs 1 lakh (100,000 or equivalent to 2000 dollars).

On Sunday, the officials took the car to the grave of the Muslim Saint at Ajmer in Rajasthan. The grave has been a place for pilgrimage for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and devotees of other religions for more than seven centuries.

The officials prayed for the success of the model as there have been controversies ever since the company took the challenge to manufacture the new car for Indian market.

Maruti has long been Indian middle-class' favourite car. But Ratan Tata wanted a car, which every Indian could afford. After resistance from Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee who led an agitation against land acquisition in West Bengal, the project was shifted to Gujarat.

TIH Bureau

February 22, 2009

'Congress-led UPA may win elections, BJP losing'

Despite the current economic meltdown, the anti-incumbency factor and BJP's tirade against Centre on terrorism, the Congress may again form government, says CNN-IBN.

The pre-election survey shows that United Progressive Alliance (UPA) may succeed in forming the next government at the Centre, as it is likely to get 215-235 seats in the Parliament.

The BJP however stands to lose and its vote share may dip by 7%. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will have to be content with 165-185 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, says the CNN IBN-CSDS survey.

Though neither of the alliances is going to get a clear majority or mandate to rule the country, UPA appears in a better position currently, as it can form government with the support of Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP.

The rest would get around 90-100 seats in the 545 member house. The Left front might not fare well. Mamata Bannerjee's Trinamool Congress can emerge stronger after the Nandigram fiasco and the Singur episode.

The survey predicts a hung Parliament. However, the TV channel said that both the major parties may have to look for new coalition partners to form the next government.

TIH Bureau

Modi masterstroke: First Muslim DGP in Gujarat

The Gujarat government has posted a Muslim as the Chief of State police. Shabbir Hussain Sheikh replaces former DGP PC Pande, whose role in the post-Godhra riots is under scrutiny.

The Narendra Modi government issued orders to post Shabbir Hussain Sheikh Adam Khanwawala as the head of Gujarat police on Saturday. Though he is the senior most IPS officer in Gujarat, the posting assumes significance as he is the first Muslim ever to head the state police.

Lately Modi has been working hard to change his image of a Hindutva hard-liner and is projecting himself as a development-oriented leader rather than an anti-minority leader. He has been focussing on industry and business and avoiding communal references.

The Modi administration had anticipated that Election Commission would remove Pande from the present post. Outgoing DGP Pande was the Commission of Ahmedabad police when communal carnage in Gujarat had claimed thousands of lives with the City being the worst hit.

Nearly a thousand, mostly Muslims, were brutally killed and burnt to death in the riots when Pande was in-charge of the city police in the year 2002. The massacres like Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya and Best Bakery cases had caused outrage across the world.

It was alleged that Pande didn't send police when former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was surrounded by rioters and ultimately killed along with his family members. Meanwhile, Ahmedabad police commissioner OP Mathur, who is considered close to BJP, has also been shifted.

TIH Bureau

February 21, 2009

Muslims stage massive protest in Lucknow

A mammoth rally was organised in Lucknow to protest the excesses of Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and defaming of Azamgarh Muslims. Hindu saints also attended the rally.

Thousands of Muslims under the aegis of Ulema Council organised the demonstration in the Uttar Pradesh capital on Friday. Two trains full of Muslims had reached from Azamgarh for the rally. Surprisingly, many Hindu saints from Ayodhya attended the conclave.

The speakers warned the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre to stop targeting innocent Muslims in the name of fighting terror. They criticized the government for inaction and said that Azamgarh had been dubbed as breeding ground of terror.

Swamy Haridayal Mishra of Ayodhya supported the demands of Muslims and said that the community was put under suspicion and was harassed. Ulema Council has suggested the name of Amaresh Mishra as its candidate from the Lucknow constituency.

Council chief Maulana Amir Rashadi Madani said that Muslim youths were implicated and framed in false cases of terrorism. "We are sad for the death of MC Sharma, the inspector in Batla House encounter but there should have been proper inquiry to find out whose bullet caused the death".

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and BJP leaders LK Advani and Narendra Modi were held responsible for unrest in the society. The main demonstration was held at Tile Wali Masjid.

TIH Bureau

February 20, 2009

LTTE planes attack Sri Lankan capital Colombo

In a daredevil strike, the warplanes of LTTE launched attack on Sri Lanka's capital Colombo. The army headquarters and airport were targeted but both planes were shot down.

The two planes hit Colombo on Friday evening. Bombs were dropped from the planes. Two persos were killed while over 50 persons were injured in the air attacks, initial reports said.

After the strike, there was a complete blackout in Colombo though power was restored later in the night. While one of the planes was shot down, the search was on for the second plane.

Reports said that the other plane had got off the radar but it was also brought down later. The unprecedented attack has come as a surprise for the Sri Lankan government that has recently succeeded in wresting territories previously held by the Tamil Tigers.

The government had claimed that all LTTE air-strips were under the state control now.
Late night reports said that anti-aircraft guns had returned fire and shot the planes down.

The Army spokesperson Udaya Naynayakara said that 31 persons were injured in the air strike while the pilot of the aircrafts were killed. Sri Lanka government said the aircrafts' attack revealed the desperation of LTTE.

TIH Bureau

Delhi 6: Film released amid controversy, songs hit

Rakeysh Mehra's Delhi-6 that showcases life in old Delhi was released amidst the controversy over inclusion of a Chattisgarhi folk song's slightly changed version in the movie.

The Abhishek Bachchan-Sonam Kapoor starrer has already been in the news for portrayal of life in Walled City. The song 'Sasural genda phool', has been widely acclaimed.

The story of the film revolves around an NRI who has returned to India to bring his ailing grandmother to her home. The monkey-man hysteria that had gripped Delhi a few years ago has been used as a metaphor for communalism and anti-Muslim hatred fanned by right-wing politicians.

Controversy over plagiarsing the song

However, Chhattisgarhi artistes are unhappy as they claim it was the original Chhattisgarhi song that was lifted and an altered version has been included in the movie without any due credit.

Gangaram Shivare's song was sung by Bhularam Yadav and later Joshi sisters made it popular across the region. Now they allege that Prasun Joshi lifted the song for the movie.

Mehra's earlier movie, Rang De Basanti, was a Bollywood blockbuster. Waheeda Rahman's graceful presence and Sonam's performance have been appreciated in the film.

TIH Bureau

Mohammad Azharuddin enters politics, bats for Congress

In the season of celebrities joining politics in droves just ahead of Lok Sabha elections, former Indian cricket captain M Azharuddin is the latest to enter the political arena.

Azhar said that he was always an admirer of Congress and its policies apart from its role in the freedom movement. He said that he wanted to give back to the countrymen by joining politics.

Though the Hyderabadi cricketer achieved tremendous fame for his batting exploits and captaincy, Azhar's involvement in the match-fixing controversy brought blemish in the twilight of his otherwise outstanding career.

Though 'tainted', Congress leaders said that they had no qualms in having Azza, who was banned from international cricket, join their ranks. Congress said that there was no criminal case against the cricketer.

A world class batsman who was known for his silken touch and artistry with the bat, Azhar came from a humble Muslim background and later attained dizzy heights in cricket world.

His popularity cut across all cross-sections. The Congress might field Azhar as its candidate from his home state Andhra Pradesh though there is no formal announcement as yet.

TIH Bureau

IAS officer jumps off building, ends life

A senior officer of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) committed suicide by jumping off the top floor of a building in Dwarka in mysterious circumstances in New Delhi on Thursday.

The officer, Santosh Kumar Prasad, 57, who was posted as Additional Director in the Commerce Department, was apparently suffering from depression. He reached the roof of the seventh floor of the building and jumped off.

He was admitted to hospital but the doctors said he was brought dead. He left no suicide note. Prasad lived with his two sons and a daughter in the Vimal apartment. Prasad was suffering from diabetes.

The body has been sent for post-mortem. The police said that they were investigating what caused Prasad to end his life. His family members are also being interrogated in this regard.

TIH Bureau

February 19, 2009

Advani not our PM candidate: JD (U) leaders

In a blow to BJP's efforts to project LK Advani as the NDA coalition's Prime Ministerial candidate, JD (U) leaders have openly come out against the idea.

The Janata Dal (U) leader and party spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari on Wednesday said that the party will not support BJP in projecting LK Advani's name as the PM during the campaigns.

He said that the Nitish Kumar-led JD (U)-BJP coalition government has undertaken pro-Muslim welfare works in Bihar and it expects Muslims to vote for the party. The JD(U)'s rival party Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is the main contender for the Muslim vote.

Besides, JD (U) Member of Parliament (MP) Ejaz Ali has said that the mention of Advani brings painful memories to Muslims. He said that Advani's statements on terrorism have been dubious.

Recalling that he came in support of Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Lieutenant-Colonel Purhoit and Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey, the JD (U) leader said that Advani earlier criticised ATS chief Hemant Karkare and later called him martyr.

Ali went on to say that Advani never felt for Muslims jailed on false charges but his heart went out for Malegaon bomb blast accused. He also recalled the role of Advani in Babri Masjid demolition and the violence during Rath Yatra.

TIH Bureau

February 18, 2009

Sanjay Dutt avoids visit to narrow Lucknow lanes

Actor Sanjay Dutt who is SP candidate from Lucknow put off local residents when he didn't enter the narrow lanes of Walled City in Lucknow despite prior announcement.

Dutt started his election campaign with the visit to Lucknow on Wednesday. He is the Samajwadi Party's candidate for the Parliamentary elections and toured the capital of UP.

However, local residents raised slogans against him when he didn't visit the lanes due to security considerations. He was supposed to visit Ganne Wali Gali where his father, late Sunil Dutt, had lived after partition.

The residents waited for hours to garland him. But Sanju alias Munna Bhai didn't reach the by lane and returned from Aminabad. His roadshow attracted a sizable crowd.

But the residents of Ganne Wali Gali were angry. Inder Kaur who had given his father the house on rent, was also expecting Sanjay but was dejected as he didn't come to the place.

TIH Bureau

February 17, 2009

'Osama Bin Laden hiding in Pakistan'

The world's most wanted fugitive Osama Bin Laden could be hiding in one of the three compounds located in Pakistan's Frontier provinces bordering Afghanistan, as per satellite data imaging.

American researchers have concluded that Laden is staying in an enclosed compound in Parachinar in Pakistan's Khurram agency bordering Afghanistan. The findings are a result of satellite-aided geographic analysis and thermal imagery.

The same tools and techniques have helped locate criminals and endangered species. Laden is on dialysis and needs constant medication for which his house must have an electrical grid in the vicinity. The study was published in MIT international review.

However, the suggestion that Laden is living within in the geographical boundaries of Pakistan could be embarrassing and potentially damaging for the country that has been US' strong ally in the war on terrorism.

He could be in any of the three compounds in Parchinar town in North West Frontier Provices (NWFP). US forces and intelligence agencies have been on Laden's hunt since 2001. His whereabouts have been a mystery since he was last spotted in Tora Bora in Afghanistan, eight years ago.

Parachinar is located in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) just near Pak-Afghanistan border. The tribal region has been the news for US drones that have resulted dozens of deaths lately.

TIH Bureau

'Remove anti-Dalit references from Hindu scriptures'

Once again demand for removal of derogatory references to Dalits, Untouchables and lower castes from the Hindu religious scriptures like Gita and Ramayana has been raised.

"There are hundreds of abusive comments about Dalits that ought to be erased and expunged from the dozen-odd Hindu texts", said Satish Chandra, who is spearheading the agitation.

Talking to journalists in New Delhi, Chandra said that there are Sanskrit shlokas that are contemptuous towards the Dalits and hurt the sensibilities of the community members.

Chandra, who is patron of the Society for Perfection in Education (SFPE), has said that Dr BR Ambedkar faced opposition when he had set afire Manu Smriti (The Code of Manu) and it is natural that there will be opposition even now, but such remarks ought to be taken away as Hinduism has a unique flexibility.

He said that statements like 'teaching shudra a lesson by pouring burning hot oil in his ear' and 'killing him for no offence' abound in the texts of Hinduism. Chandra showed such objectionable references.

He said that Manusmriti alone has 250 anti-Dalit remarks. "A high-level committee is needed to ensure that the books like Valmiki Ramayana, Bhagwad Gita and Manu Smriti are cleansed of such objectionable shlokas", he said. Society secretary Kapil Garg was also present.

TIH Bureau

February 16, 2009

Shahrukh successfully operated for shoulder injury

Bollywood actor and reigning Indian superstar Shahrukh Khan underwent a shoulder surgery at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. The surgery was reported to be successful.

Khan, the leading movie star of Bollywood, was operated by a three-member team of doctors. He was operated for a tear in the muscles of left shoulder, hospital sources said.

After the nearly 2 hr long operation, Dr Sanjay Desai, the head of the doctors team, said that the surgery was a success. He said that the actor will remain in the hospital for the next couple of days.

He had received the injury during a film shooting last year. Shahrukh would return to the sets in a month's time. Earlier, he was operated five years ago when he had a back injury.

Then the surgery was conducted in London. Shahrukh was recently busy promoting his movie Billu Barber. With the Indian Premier League (IPL) ready to kick off, Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knightriders, will be back in the stadium to cheer his team in the multi-million cricket tournament.

TIH Bureau

I'm Parsi, I'll fight your case: Lawyer tells Kasab

Saying that he is neither Hindu nor Muslim but Parsi, the religion of Jinnah's wife, a lawyer has written to Ajmar Amir Kasab and asked the latter's permission to plead the case.

Advocate KBN Lam, a Mumbai resident has sent a letter to Kasab through the Mumbai crime branch. In the letter written in Urdu, Lam has sought Ajmal Kasab's persmission to fight his case.

Kasab is the sole survivor among the terrorists who had attacked Mumbai on 26th November. Lam had earlier written the letter in English but there was no response from the accused.

Believing that Kasab was a school dropout and couldn't understand English, the pleader has sent the second letter. He has communicated that he shares the religious of Qaid-e-Azam's wife and was interested in standing for him in the court of law in connection with the 26/11 case.

Lam, who is a Parsi (Zoroastrian) has also told Kasab that there should be some way for him to meet his parents who are in Pakistan. After the government lawyer refused to take up the case, Lam has decided to take up the case.

TIH Bureau

Advani's softness on 'LTTE terrorism' irks Swamy

Reminding the BJP of its tough anti-terror stance, Janata Party supremo Subramanian Swamy questioned Advani's call for negotiations with the 'terrorist LTTE'.

The former Union minister and chief of Janata Party (JP) said that Advani's call for a negotiated settlement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was dangerous and against the policies of BJP.

Swami, who is a hardline Hindutva leader and is believed to be supportive of BJP's ideology, said that there can't be any talks with Tamil Tigers and India must support the government of Sri Lanka in eliminating the LTTE.

The Janata Party president said that Advani's statement at the MDMK-organised fast was not in line with BJP's zero tolerance policy on terrorism. Swamy has been openly speaking against LTTE for several years and has been given Z security cover due to threat to his life.

Talking to journalists on Sunday, he criticised Advani and said that sympathy to Tamils in Sri Lanka aside, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader must consider his stand on negotiations with LTTE and revise it.

TIH Bureau

Raju Shrivastava may contest election from UP

Eyeing the strong Kayastha community in Uttar Pradesh, both the Congress and SP have offered celebrity comedian Raju Shrivastava to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Shrivastava has reportedly been offered to contest from Uttar Pradesh by the Congress. Though party functionaries haven't come on record, it is learnt that he may be asked to contest from Allahabad (UP).

The City has a numerically large Kayastha community. Over the years Kayasthas have felt neglected by the Congress though they once held important positions and had clout in the State administration and politics. Several other parties including the Samajwadi Party have also offered him ticket.

India's biggest star Amitabh Bachchan belongs to the same community. Kayasthas are an upper caste that has strong population in North India. Their percentage is comparatively higher in UP, Bihar and West Bengal than other states.

Congress wants to attract the influential caste group by cashing in on the popularity of Raju, party insiders said on conditions of anonymity. The artiste hasn't given his assent as yet.

Congress is trying hard to regain the lost ground in UP. After the BJP's rise in the 80s and later the emergence of BSP and SP, the party had lost favour among the electorate.

The party now intends to go beyond Rae Bareli and Amethi that have been its pocket boroughs. The Samajwadi Party (SP) has also been in touch with Shrivastava, sources said.

Talking to journalists at his hometown, Kanpur, the laughtershow artiste said that he was weighing his options and may contest the Lok Sabha elections. He said that Maharashtra Congress leader Kripa Shankar Singh has conveyed his wish to party chief Sonia Gandhi.

TIH Bureau

February 15, 2009

SP, Congress to jointly contest election in UP

Despite the recent war of words between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress leaders, there are strong indication that both the parties will have a tie-up.

Though SP has announced the names of over 50 candidates, it may leave around 18 seats for the Congress. In some other constituencies, there can be a 'friendly fight' in the upcoming Parliamentary elections.

After former BJP leader Kalyan Singh's announcement that he will have an understanding with the SP, there was a war of words between the leaders of both SP and Congress.

This had intensified over the issue of CBI probe into the case of disproportionate assets of Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, with election drawing nearer, it seems both the parties have decided to bury the hatchet and have a pre-poll alliance.

UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi hinted that there could be a decision in next two days. SP leader Amar Singh also spoke positively and said that the seat-sharing formula would be announced in a day or two.

Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha constituencies and the state is crucial for any party to stake a claim to form the next government at the Centre. With SP announcing 58 candidates, Congress may have to settle for 15-20 seats.

TIH Bureau

February 14, 2009

Saffron terror: Bajrang Dal beats siblings on V-day

The Bajrang Dal activists beat up a youth who was accompanied by her sister in Ujjain. The saffron brigade had mistaken them as a couple going out on St Valentine's Day.

The incident caused outrage near the Vikram University Campus in Ujjain, a City in Madhya Pradesh. The girl's plea fell on deaf ears as the Bajrang Dal workers beat her brother.

"They were indeed siblings and had come to university for some work when they were assaulted while going back", said a senior police official. However, no FIR was registered.

As soon as the news spread, the activists of National Students' Union of India (NSUI) staged a protest against the Bajrang Dal. They staged a demonstration and set afire a symbolic effigy of Bajrang Dal.

Across the country dozens of such incidents occurred where young lovers were beaten up or made to do sit ups. The heads of youths were tonsured. In most cities, young couples avoided public places like pubs, parks, theatres et al.

In Nizamabad (Andhra Pradesh), a young couple was forcibly married. In Agra, the Shiv Sena hooligans tonsured the heads of youths who were spotted with their girl friends.

A girl was beaten up and pulled by hair in Jind in Haryana. A policeman, Mula Ram, who had assaulted her was later suspended. The girl's crime was that she had gone to meet her boyfriend.

Hundreds of Sri Ram Sene activists had been arrested in Karnataka on the eve of Valentine's Day. There were solitary incidents reported from other parts of the country including Ranchi (Jharkhand), Jammu, Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Sangli (Maharashtra) and Bijnore (UP).

TIH Bureau

15 killed, 50 injured in Orissa train mishap

Fifteen persons were feared dead while over 50 were reported injured when the Coromandel Express train derailed near Jajpur railway station in Orissa on Friday.

The accident occurred nearly 100 km from Orissa's capital Bhubaneswar. The railway officials feared that the toll could go up. Rescue operations were on and the State police chief had rushed to the scene of accident.

The incident occurred just a few hours after the Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had delivered the interim rail budget speech in the Parliament, focusing on rail security and decline in mishaps.

The derailment occurred at Jajpur-Keonjhar railway section, 70 km near Cuttack. Railway ministry has ordered a probe into the accident. A compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of every person who died in the mishap, has been announced.

TIH Bureau

February 13, 2009

Muthalik, 135 others detained ahead of V-Day

Pramod Muthalik, chief of militant Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sene, was taken in custody along with 135 other potential troublemakers on the eve of St Valentine's Day.

Pramod Muthalik was caught by the police when he was on way from Bangalore to Gulbarga. Owing to the outfit's threat to forcibly marry the young boys and girls found together at public places in Bangalore and other cities, the police caught him.

Officials said that it was a precautionary step in order to ensure peace. Though Muthalik had succumbed to pressure and said that there would not be any protest in Bangalore, he had announced that the 'moral policing' would go as per plans in rest of the Karnataka.

Those taken in custody include activists of Bajrang Dal and other right-wing Hindutva groups who had threatened to take action against youngsters who go on dating, on February 14. Ram Sene (also Sena) has been involved in attacks on Churches in the past.

TIH Bureau

Nithari killers Pandher, Koli to be hanged to death

The special court on Friday pronounced death sentence to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surinder Koli for the Nithari serial killings.

The children were lured, sexually abused and later killed. The sentence comes in the case of teenaged Rimpa Haldar, 14, who was raped and later murdered. Though CBI had not pressed charges against Pandher, the court held him guilty along with Koli.

Terming it the rarest of rare cases, the Judge ordered death sentence for the two persons. Pronouncing the judgement, Justice Rama Jain said that the two persons deserved capital punishment.

The two persons were accused of at least 19 killings. The CBI had pressed charges of paedophilia and necrophilia against Koli, who allegedly cooked the bodies of the dead children and consumed the human flesh.

Rimpa's father Anil Haldar said that the court had done justice to his family. He said that being a poor man it was tough for him to fight the case and thanked his counsel Khalid Khan. Meanwhile, Pandher's son said that his father was innocent and asserted that the family would appeal against the verdict in the higher court.

TIH Bureau

Godhra train burning was not terrorist act: High Court

The 79 persons who were accused of setting afire the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra that had led to backlash against Muslims, will not be tried under the stringent POTA.

The Gujarat High Court has held that it was not an act of terrorism. The burning of train was an accident. The state government had held that train carrying 'kar sewaks' back from Ayodhya was set ablaze by local Muslims at Godhra.

Rejecting this assertion, the court said that the accused would not be tried under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Now the accused persons will be able to get bail after years of confinement.

The BJP-ruled Gujarat government's role in the carnage has come under scanner. Though the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was demolished by militant Hindus in 1992, the 'kar sewaks' were still sent to the site of disputed mosque just around the elections.

After the Godhra incident, the communal riots had engulfed the entire state. Gujarat was termed as a hate-lab of Hindutva as nearly 2,500 persons, mostly Muslims, were killed and burnt to death in the ugliest pogrom.

The train was burnt on February 27, 2002. Despite the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's plea to the Gujarat chief minister to act and perform his 'raj dharma', the riots had continued for weeks.

Due to one of the bloodiest post-partition riots, Gujarat also suffered a setback to its image and the secular ethos for which it was known. Under BJP, it has become the most polarised states lately.

Several organisations claim that the riots were engineered and the genocide was state-sponsored. Successive court rulings have come as a setback to Gujarat government and Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister.

Leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and Bajrang Dal were allegedly involved in leading mobs across the state. Recently Maya Kodnani, a minister in the Gujarat government, was termed an absconder in the case of murdering three dozen persons at Gulbarg society.

The court ruling comes as another blow to Narendra Modi's government. As POTA is no longer applicable, the accused would be tried under the sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

TIH Bureau

Humiliated by RSS goons Mangalore girl ends life

A teenaged schoolgirl, who had been humiliated by suspected Sangh Parivar activists for allegedly befriending a Muslim youth, has committed suicide.

The incident has come in wake of a Hindu girl dragged and mistrated for talking to a Muslim youth during a bus journey in the same town in Karnataka early this month.

The girl, Ashwini, 15, a student of IX, had gone along with a girl, to meet a youth, Salim, when a group of youths dragged the trio to the police station. The girl's parents were called and the girl had been humiliated for her 'act'.

Apparently, unable to bear the mistreatment, the girl hanged herself to death in her house. She committed suicide by hanging self by the ceiling, police said. The suicide has occurred just when groups like Pramod Muthalik's Sri Ram Sene have taken upon themselves the task of moral policing.

Claiming themselves to be the guardians of the Indian culture, the Sene workers had beat up girls at a pub. They had also threatened to disrupt St Valentine's Day celebrations and forcibly marry young couples found in public places on February 14.

TIH Bureau

Shipla Shetty pays obeisance at Shirdi

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty reached the famous shrine at Shirdi and paid obeisance to Sai Baba on Thursday. She thanked the Baba for changing her fortunes.

Shilpa, whose career was on the down slide until her entry into the reality show Big Brother, is riding high on popularity. Revealing her faith in Baba, she says that the blessings of Sai have brought her tremendous luck and success in life.

"I was shooting for a movie at Nashik and as the place is not too far, Idecided to come here for prayers", said Shetty, who was in the news for buying stakes in Rajasthan Royals cricket team that will participate in the Indian Premier League (IPL). She bought a 12% stake.

The actress said that she is a devout Sai-bhakt and makes it a point to come to the shrine at least once every year. The star actress had recently donated a huge amount for the Greenathon campaign.

It was the Big Brother show that brought her international acclaim. Currently Shilpa is busy doing a host of Bollywood and foreign movies apart from her newly found business ventures.

TIH Bureau

February 12, 2009

No Twenty20 cricket for Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar has said that he is not going to play the T20 cricket matches. He however will remain part of the Test and One Day international teams.

The master blaster who has been part of the national Test and the Limited Overs' international teams for the last 20 years, says that he feels that he shouldn't be in the T 20 team.

"I don't want to disturb the current composition of the team, which I feel is doing good", said the legendary batsman, who holds the world records for the highest runs in tests and one days--both forms of game.

The Indian team is about to tour New Zealand where it will play two T20 matches. However, Tendulkar will represent India in the Five Day Matches and the One Day Internationals.

TIH Bureau

Raj Thackeray booked for sedition

A criminal case was registered against MNS chief Raj Thackeray on the orders of a Bihar court for the attacks on the North Indian students in Maharashtra last year.

Thackeray was booked for sedition and criminal conspiracy. The case has been registered on the complaint of one, Ram Lakhan Mishra, who had earlier approached the police.

However, no case was registered then. He later filed a private complaint in the court. The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Darbhanga district court) came down heavily on the police for not registering the case.

Acting on the directions of the court, the police have registered the case of sedition (acting against the state) and criminal conspiracy apart from abetment of the offence.

As per the complaint, Raj Thackeray and his Mahrashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) was responsible for the deaths of youths of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Maharashtra. Raj's provocative speeches were held responsible for inciting the mobs.

TIH Bureau

February 11, 2009

Policeman probing Rizwanur case found murdered

The police official who was investigating the death of Rizwanur Rehman, the Kolkata-boy who had married the daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi, has also been murdered.

Arindam Manna, the police official, was not just the Investigating Officer, but also a witness in the case. He was found dead on the railway tracks at Hooghly with an injury mark, suggesting that he was murdered.

The death of Manna comes just within days of the Todi family members getting bail in the case of Rizwanur' death. Rizwanur Rahman, a young computer graphics designer, was also found dead in mysterious circumstances on the tracks.

He had married businessman Ashok Todi's daughter Priyanka against her family's wishes. Braving the threats to his life, he had brought Priyanka home but was later found dead.

It is believed that he was murdered. Now the death of the key witness and investigator puts a question mark on the future of the investigations in this high-profile case.

TIH Bureau

Muslims not forced to say 'Jai Bhim': Mayawati

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has clarified that it is not necessary for its Muslim workers to say 'Jai Bhim', which has been the slogan of the party.

The party president Maywati has said that the Muslim workers can greet each other with 'Adab' or 'Salaam' and rest of the Hindus can say 'Jai Ramji' rather than 'Jai Bhim'.

Clarifying that the party cadre comes from Dalit castes and as the BSP draws inspiration from Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, it was the standard practice among workers to address each other with the phrase 'Jai Bhim'.

However, it is not mandatory and nobody will be forced to say it. Recently, Muslim scholar Maulana Mahmood Madani had joined the BSP and doubts were raised from various quarters whether it was permissible for a clergyman to say 'Jai Bhim'.

The clarification has come after the controversy erupted. Muslims comprise nearly 20%of electorate in Uttar Pradesh. The BSP is trying hard to get a share out of the Muslim vote, which has mostly been with Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party.

TIH Bureau

February 10, 2009

Prakash Jha to contest elections

Film-maker Prakash Jha is all set to contest the upcoming Parliamentary elections from his home state. He hasn't however revealed which party he intends to join.

Jha, who is well-known for portrayal of Bihar, in his movies like Gangajal and Apharan, is currently shooting another movie, Rajneeti (Politics) in Bhopal in Central India.

Lately several movie personalities have expressed their desire to contest the polls including actor Sanjay Dutt. Speaking to journalists Jha said that he might contest from Bettiah constituency in Bihar.

Jha had once fought election as an independent candidate from Champaran but had lost.
This time he intends to fight it on a party ticket. Jha said that he had good relations with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, Lok Janshakti Party's Ramvilas Paswan and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

TIH Bureau

'Underwear campaign' gathers momentum in India

The drive to send pink 'chaddis' (underwear) to activists of Shri Ram Sene, which was involved in assaulting women in a Mangalore pub, has now become a movement.

The purpose is to shame the right-wing Hindu outfit that roughed up women for visiting the pubs. Nisha Susan, the brain behind the campaign, has urged all the citizens outraged by the attacks on women, to send a chaddi to the Sene.

Do you have a pink spare chaddi (underwear or panties)?, that's the call of the Consortium of Pub going, Loose and Forward Women that also has a group on Facebook. Thousands of people across the country have already joined the movement.

The Shri Ram Sene would be sent these chaddis. The aim is not to get bullied by self-styled moral police. Susan, a journalist, who started the movement, says that women and youngsters have been urged to specially visit the pubs this Valentine's Day.

She says that sending the chaddis is to deliver a message that the self-styled moral brigade is disgusting and how much they are hated. The Saffron outfits have unleashed a reign of terror in BJP-ruled Karnataka lately.

The Shri Ram Sene has already said that St Valentine's Day is a Christian concept and shouldn't be celebrated in India. Every year right-wing groups across the country go on rampage on February 14.

Misbehaviour with couples and ruckus at galleries selling greeting cards and gifts are a common feature. However, the recent attack on women, seems to have forced the urban Indians to stand up and protest against the growing lawlessness and rowdyism.

TIH Bureau

February 9, 2009

FBI's woman official accused of sexual abuse

Fahim Ansari, an accused in the terror strikes on Mumbai, has accused that a woman FBI interrogator had sexually abused her during the course of investigations.

Ansari's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi filed an application in the court today. In the application, Ansari has alleged that three investigators of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interrogated him.

However, one of them who was a woman sexually abused her for long hours during the night. Ansari's counsel has also objected to the questioning of his client by foreign investigators.

He has alleged that the sexual harassment and torture caused itches and wounds in his private parts. Naqvi has sought medical examination and proper treatment for his client.

Reply has been sought from the Crime Branch of Mumbai police as to whether the US agency sleuths were allowed to interrogate the terror accused without any such permission.

Ansari and his brother are in the custody of Crime Branch for their alleged role in the 26/11 terrorist strikes. They were arrested from Uttar Pradesh in connection with the attack on CRPF cam.

Ajmar Amir Kasab is the sole survivor among the terrorists who had held people hostage in various hostels and resorted to indiscriminate firing in the metropolis in November last year.

TIH Bureau

Eight policemen killed in Naxalite ambush

At least eight policemen were feared killed when suspected Maoists attacked a police vehicle in the forest area of Nawada district in Bihar on Monday.

Initial reports said that eight police personnel died in the attack. Though it is feared that the toll may go up. Senior police officials said that the Maoists were responsible for the killings.

It is learnt that the policemen were going to a village to attend a programme on the occasion of Saint Ravi Das Jayanti when the ultra-leftists who had prior information about the arrival of police, launched the attack.

The policemen were reportedly travelling in a landmine proof vehicle. Senior police officials have rushed to the spot of the attack, which is close to the border of Jharkhand state.

More details were awaited about the incident. The latest attack comes within days of the deadly Naxalite strike in Gadhchiroli in Maharashtra where nearly 15 policemen had died in a Maoist attack.

TIH Bureau

'Totka' to ward off evil raises eyebrows at Congress meet

The sight of a lemon and green chillies that were strung together and hanging at the Congress' convention surprised the guests and the media persons.

The green chillies and lemon were hanging at the top of the conclave. It is a common practice among the superstitious masses, to hang the 'nimbu-mirchi totka' to ward off evil eye.

The party's national convention was held at New Delhi on Sunday. Surprisingly, the 'totka' was hanging above the portraits of former leaders like Jawharlal Nehru, Abdul Kalam Azad and Indira Gandhi.

Asserting that it was against the spirit of the Indian constitution that sought to develop rational thinking and shun superstitions, some journalists cornered the Congress leaders. They asked the party office-bearers whether the Congress feared bad omen or it had become superstitious ahead of the elections.

But most of the party functionaries evaded the questions. The UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul addressed the convention. However, the 'totka' (charm) remained a talking point during the entire conclave.

TIH Bureau

February 8, 2009

Modi hits at Nehru-Gandhi family for dynasty politics

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked the Nehru-Gandhi family for the ills in the country. He said that the family has ruled the nation for 37 years.

Modi said that adding the five years of current UPA regime, the members of the family have ruled India for 42 years, as Manmohan Singh is an 'invisible' Prime Minister and the real power is still in the hands of the family.

Speaking at the national executive meet of the BJP at Nagpur, Modi said that this continuing dynasty rule is against the interests of the country. The Gujarat Chief Minister didn't name anybody but the reference was clear.

Rahul Gandhi has been projected as future Prime Minister. Modi also hit at UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and said that it was LK Advani's team that was younger, because the average age of the BJP chief ministers was much less than their Congress counterparts.

Modi also said that the family has ruined everything and drew parallel with the American system where Barack Obama was elected the president because the electorate was fed up with the polices of George Bush, and earlier his father, who had also been the president of United States of America.

TIH Bureau

SIT arrests DSP for post-Godhra riots

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Sunday arrested a DSP for his role during the attack on Gulbarg society. More police officials are likely to be arrested soon.

The SIT arrested Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) KG Erda, who is currently posted at Valsad. Erda has been arrested for his allegedly biased role when the mobs had attacked Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad during the Gujarat riots.

Former Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri was amongst the 38 persons who had been killed in the violent attack by Hindu mobs on the locality in the Gujarat riots (2002).

SIT head RK Raghavan confirmed the arrest though he refused to divulge the exact charges against the arrested official. Erda, was an inspector at Meghani Nagar police station, and had alleged taken no action to prevent the rioting.

Over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the riots in Gujarat and the BJP-ruled state government was accused of giving a long rope to the rioters. Even leaders of the party were involved in instigating the mobs.

The SIT has been constituted on Supreme Court order. Erda has been arrested for dereliction of duty and tampering of evidences. Many other officials are likely to be arrested soon, hinted the SIT officers probing the riot cases.

TIH Bureau

RSS chief puts onus on government for Babri demolition

The chief of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) KS Sudarshan on Saturday said that the government was responsible for the demolition of Babri Masjid and not Kar Sewaks.

The statement has caused a stir in the BJP and the RSS cadre. Though Sudarshan didn't specify whether he held the PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government that was at the Centre responsible for the demolition or the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

At a function of the RSS at Shajapur in Madhya Pradesh, the RSS sarsanghchalak said that he was present in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 and the intentions of the Karsewaks was to construct temple at an undisputed place.

But the structure was razed at the government's behest and the workers of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad were implicated as part of a conspiracy, he said. Sudarshan's statement comes in wake of BJP chief Rajnath Singh's statement that the party was committed to construct the Ram Temple.

TIH Bureau

February 7, 2009

Actor Manoj Tiwari's convoy hits motorcycle, 2 dead

The convoy of Bhojpuri actor and Samajwadi Party candidate from Gorakhpur, Manoj Tiwari, allegedly hit a motorcycle on Saturday, causing the death of two persons on the spot.

Tiwari was returning after a road show late on Friday night when one of the cars in the cavalcade run over the youths. The motorcyle-borne youths--Rajkumar and Pintu were returning to their village from Gorakhpur.

They were admitted to hospital where they were declared dead. Local residents staged a demonstration and blocked vehicular traffic on the highway. The police had registered a case against driver of an unidentified vehicle for the mishap.

No case was registered against Tiwari. A police vehicle was also part of the cavalcade that comprised several vehicles. Tiwari has refuted the charges that his car caused the accident.

The Bhojpuri star has earlier actor in a number of Bollywood movies. Later he left Mumbai and acted in Bhojpuri films where he established himself as a lead hero. SP has named him a contestant from Gorakhpur for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections.

TIH Bureau

Rajnath Singh vows to construct Ram temple

With elections just a couple of months away, BJP president Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that the party was waiting for an opportunity to construct the temple at Ayodhya.

At the national executive of the party, Singh said that Ram temple remained at the top of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) agenda. He said that laws could be framed and special fast track court set up to expedite the process and initiate the construction at the earliest.

It is being viewed as a call to the hard-core Hindutva constituency. The Prime Ministerial candidate of the party, LK Advani, also spoke on similar lines at the national executive.

Though the BJP claims that the party had never abandoned the cause, the failure in Rajasthan and Delhi assembly polls which the BJP had fought over terrorism, had sent the party into introspective mode.

But the speech at Nagpur conclave could be aimed at placating the cadre that took party in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the 80s and 90s. The movement had ultimately led to the demolition of the ancient Babri Masjid (mosque) in Uttar Pradesh.

TIH Bureau

Hindu girl 'abducted' for travelling with Muslim youth

Saffron rage
Suspected activists of the right-wing Sri Ram Sena allegedly abducted the daughter of a Kerala legislator because she was travelling with a Muslim youth.

The incident took place in Mangalore on Friday. The girl Shruti is daughter of a Kerala MLA. Suspected workers of Sri Ram Sena (spelt as Ram Sene in Kannada) and Bajrang Dal forcibly took her away along with her companion.

The boy, Shabeeb, her classmate, was also taken away. The Sene activists assaulted him though they didn't touch the girl. They were journeying in a bus and cracking a joke, which apparently invited the ire of the Sena activists.

When the bus had halted at a stoppage, the activists dragged them out of the bus and slapped them, sources said. They were taken to an undisclosed place. Apparently someone onboard the bus had phoned the anti-social elements and called them.

"My daughter was forcibly brought down and pushed into an auto-rickshaw and taken away because the youth belonged to the other community said CH Kunhambu, the Kerala MLA.

However, they were confined for a couple of hours and later set afree. Karnataka police confirmed that both had been freed and were safe. They were returning to the college after their holidays when the incident occurred.

Sri Ram Sena, an extremist Hindu organisation, has been involved in moral policing. It has attacked Churches in the past and recently beat up women for visiting pubs in Mangalore.

The Sena chief Pramod Muthalik has warned that his cadre would not tolerate any indecency on St Valentine's Day. "We can't tolerate Christian values and culture thrust on our youths", he had said soon after his release from police custody after the pub attack.

TIH Bureau

Azam Khan to leave SP, join BSP!

Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan is likely to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Khan, the Muslim face of SP, is upset as he has been denied ticket from Rampur.

Insiders say that the SP leader is upset at the treatment meted out to him. Once a close confidante of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Khan has lately been ignored in the party.

His departure can be a big blow to Mulayam Singh, as several prominent Muslim leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction against the style of functioning of the party leadership.

At a recent election meeting in Rampur, he made caustic comments in frong of a huge audience against Member of Parliament (MP) Jaya Prada, a former movie star, who was sharing the dais with him.

With tears in eyes, Jaya Prada later tried to downplay the incident and said that Khan was like her elder brother. Azam Khan is unhappy with Amar Singh's growing influence in the party.

It is Amar Singh's support that Jaya Prada has got the party ticket from Rampur, say party sources. It is learnt that unless there is a major effort to placate him, Azam Khan may join Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party.

TIH Bureau

February 5, 2009

SC disapproves Chhattisgarh govt's Salwa Judum

The Supreme Court has said that the state-sponsored movement against ultra-leftist militants was unlawful as ordinary people can't be armed and expected to take on Naxalites.

The bench comprising Chief Justice of India, KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Satasivam, held that arming the civilians to fight the Maoists was unbecoming of a state and it can create a dangerious situation.

The Apex court said that the state should protect the citizens. The bench rejected the stand of state government's counsel who said that special police officers were appointed to fight the Naxals and common citizens were not armed in this struggle.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had made several recommendations following its probe into the alleged excesses during the movement. The Action Taken Report (ATR) on the NHRC recommendations were put up by the government.

Chhattisgarh is among the states that are worst affected by Naxalism. In order to take on the Red Terror, the people's movement involving local tribals was led by Congress leader Mahendra Karma.

Later the BJP government supported it. However, there are frequent complaints of human rights violation. The arrest of Dr Binayak Sen, a renowned doctor and civil rights activist, has also raised questions on the state's sincerity in tackling the Leftist guerrillas.

Tens of thousands of villagers are living in relief camps due to the armed violence between Salwa Judum activists and the ultra-leftists. Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2000.

TIH Bureau

Water crisis: Teashops stop serving water to customers

Acute water scarcity has prompted tea shop owners in Madhya Pradesh to stop giving water for drinking purpose to customers who turn up at the shops for a cup of tea.

At several shops in Indore, the owners have put up a notice asking the customers to not pester them for water. "We have put up the poster because it's tough to get water for tea and expecting that we would offer them glasses of full water, is unrealistic".

"It takes a lot of effort to get water and we send boys who get it in cans on their cycle", said Ghanshyam, who owns a kiosk. "In such a situation we can't afford to give water to the customers".

The Cities in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh are witnessing a severe shortage of water. Due to lesser rain, the ground water level has reached its minimum level in decades.

"We have never seen such a situation where the tea-shop owners stop letting you wash hands or drink water", said Murli, a youth, at a teashop near Rajwada in Indore. Water crisis is leading to frequent rows and there have been bloody clashed over collection of water at public taps and wells.

TIH Bureau

Women's Commission member served notice for 'controversial' comments after attack on girls in Magalore pub

The Woman and Child Ministry has issued notice to National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh for her controversial comments after the Mangalore incident.

After the Sri Ram Sene workers had attacked Amnesia pub in Mangalore (Karnataka) and thrashed girls, the NCW member had said that there was lack of adequate security at the pub.

She had also said that women ought to safeguard themselves and put the onus on them. This was construed as a statement indicting the girls going to pub rather than the Ram Sene activists who vandalised the place on January 24.

The NCW member has been at loggerheads with the Ministry. Union Minister Renuka Chaudhary who heads the Woman and Child Welfare ministry had expressed her surprise at the remarks.

The Ministry's inquiry had found that there was enough security and bouncers were deployed but they were overpowered by the dozens of Ram Sene activists who went on rampage.

The police was also charged of inaction. In this backdrop Venkatesh's comments had put the NCW in a dock. Various groups had condemned the remarks that appeared more in sync with the self-styled moral police. Now she has been asked to reply explain her comments.

TIH Bureau

February 4, 2009

Indians arrested for terror plot in Spain

Several Indians were caught in Spain for an alleged terror plot though some of them may have been caught for forging passports of those involved in the conspiracy.

Sources said that at least one Indian was among those arrested though the figure could be as high as four. Some Pakistanis and Nigerians were also held among the dozen-odd persons arrested today.

Initial reports said that the youths were arrested for falsifying documents and arranging fake papers in connection with terrorism. The raids were conducted in Barcelona and Valencia.

The Indian embassy didn't deny or confirm the reports of arrests.
Spain had witnessed one of the worst terror attacks when commuter trains were bombed in the year 2004.

TIH Bureau

Kalyan Singh's U-turn on Babri Masjid demolition

Kalyan Singh's U-turn is aimed at placating the Muslims who are still angry with him for his role in the demolition of the ancient Babri mosque at Ayodhya in 1992.

Singh today said that he had taken moral responsibility for the demolition of the mosque which had occurred when he was chief minister of BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

Kalyan Singh had resigned and was sentenced to a symbolic imprisonment of one day. The statement comes in wake of the heightened schism in Samajwadi Party over its alliance with the Lodh leader.

He further said that his decision was a political friendship with SP and not a formal alliance. "My aim is to eradicate BJP from UP", said Kalyan. He said that under his rule, there was no injustice and Muslims were given equal treatment.

Meanwhile, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav said that his party doesn't need any certificate on secularism. He was reacting to Congress leaders' veiled attack on party for the understanding with Kalyan Singh.

Earlier, Mulayam had also met Muslim leaders who appeared satisfied with the SP chief's explanation and the circumstances that have prompted him to hold Kalyan Singh's hand.

TIH Bureau

Vinod Kambli enters politics, joins Lok Bharti

Former Indian test cricketer Vinod Kambli has announced his decision to join a relatively lesser-known political outfit, Lok Bharti, in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Kambli said that he had offers from different parties but he chose to join Lok Bharti has he wanted to work at the grassroots and solve the problems of the poor and underprivileged.

"After the terrorist attack in Mumbai, I also felt the need for a change in Indian politics and as the party is working in the field of education and is active among masses, I have joined it", said Kambli, who has two double centuries to his credit in tests.

A childhood friend of Sachin Tendulkar, Kambli has represented India in 17 tests and over 100 Limited Over Internationals. Kambli had rose to fame when he and Tendulkar had sored a partnership of 664 runs in school cricket.

The 37-year-old had list played at the international level nine years ago. The former cricketer has joined the party as its national vice-president. Kambli has also announced that he is launching an academy to promote sports.

TIH Bureau

Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted to AIIMS

Former Prime Minister and veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) on late Tuesday night.

Vajpayee had complained of pain in the chest. He was hospitalized and is under constant medical supervision. The doctors said that he had congestion in the chest but it was not serious.

Senior BJP leaders including the BJP president Rajnath Singh and senior party leader Sushma Swaraj visited the hospital to inquire about his health, said party sources on Tuesday night.

Vajpayee was running fever for the last couple of days. The decision to shift him to hospital was taken later in the night. Senior doctors attending to him said that the condition of the BJP leader was stable.

TIH Bureau

February 3, 2009

Woman minister faces arrest for Gujarat riots, had led violent mobs that attacked Muslims in Ahmedabad

Mayaben Kodnani, an aggressive Hindutva leader and Gujarat minister, who is accused of inciting mobs that killed 83 Muslims in Naroda Patia near Ahmedabad, is now on the run.

The Special Investigations Team (SIT) that is probing the Gujarat riots on Supreme Court's direction, found that Maya Kodnani and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaideep Patel had lied to the investigators.

The witnesses had said that both had incited the mob to attack Muslim houses during the 2002 Gujarat riots. But the duo--Kodnani and Patel, countered the charges and claimed that they were not present in the localities mentioned then.

However, the call records of their cell phone conversations exposed the lies. Kodnani presently holds the charge of woman and child welfare and higher education. She is a practicing doctor also.

Dozens of witnesses had named and identified Mayaben Kodnani. In their statements, they informed the SIT that she had handed over kerosene from her car to rioting mob. Other statements also concurred with the findings.

Through their lawyers, Kodnani and Patel have filed for anticipatory bail in the court. The SIT's police officers had recently sent them notices regarding the imminent arrest but they have been evading the investigators.

The SIT chief said that the duo has been delared absconder and could be arrested anytime now. He said that efforts were on to catch Kodnani and Patel. Kodnani is a three time BJP MLA. She had wide support among local Sindhi populace.

TIH Bureau

RAW official arrested for taking bribe

An official of RAW, the Indian intelligence agency, was arresetd for accepting a bribe of Rs 1 lakh, said Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday.

The RAW official, AS Narayan Rao, was allegedly taking the bribe to clear files of an export company. Rao had promised to use his connections to get the work done and had demanded Rs 8 lakh.

CBI officials said that Rs 1 lakh was the first installment of the amount. CBI's spokesperson Harsh Bahal confirmed that Rao was caught in a hotel in Karol Bagh locality.

The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is India's premier foreign intelligence agency. The arrest has sent shock waves, as it comes just within days of arrest of an officer of Indian Police Service (IPS) Saji Mohan, for carrying 12 kg heroin.

TIH Bureau

February 2, 2009

School van hits train in Punjab, 3 dead

A van carrying school children hit a train at an un-manned railway crossing in the Firozpur district of Punjab on Monday. Three children had died in the accident.

The school van was running at a fast speed and the driver couldn't control the vehicle at the railway line when the train appeared, said Firozpur police officials.

Three children died on the spot. The rest were taken to the hospital for treatment. The senior officials had rushed to the scene of accident. The incident has occurred just within days of a mishap in Rajasthan in which over a dozen children had died.

Seventeen children were injured in the accident. However, the children told police that they were asking the driver to slow down the van as the train was visible but he didn't listen.

Police officers said that the van was carrying children of various villages back home from the school. The children were students of DAV School. The state government had announced a compensatino of Rs 1 lakh to each of the victim's family and promised free medication to injured kids.

TIH Bureau

India shocked: Cops torture six-year-old girl in UP

The images of a child held above the ground by her hair by a policeman, with another policeman mercilessly beating her publicly, shocked the nation on Monday.

The girl was kept suspended by a policeman who had clutched her hair in his fists and held are above the ground. Her shrieks fell on deaf years. The Etawah police's brutal act in full public view, horrified the country.

The images hit the TV channels later in the night. The girl had apparently been accused of theft. Inspector CB Singh was hitting the child while constable SL Yadav had grabbed her hair as she dangled in the air.

The incident occurred near Jaswant Nagar in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the most populous state in the Northern region of the country. UP police have been accused of torture and brutal behaviour in the past.

A senior engineer was recently killed by a public representative (MLA) who had thrown him dead in the police station and the officials hadn't taken action until TV channels beamed the images. That incident had occurred in neighbouring Auraiya district.

Later in the night, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Etawah ordered suspension of the inspector and action against the constable involved in inhuman act. He ordered an inquiry also.

TIH Bureau

Political parties support job reservation for Muslims

A host of political parties and leaders of Jain and Christian have supported the demand to provide reservation to Muslims in employment for the uplift of the community.

Speaking at the convention in Delhi, Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ram Vilas Paswan made a strong pitch for minorities and said that their social and economic backwardness was as bad as that of Dalits.

He said that the Sachar committee report and Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission findings have demonstrated the status of Muslims in the country. He said that it was necessary to take the step and supported 10% reservation for Muslims in jobs.

Jain community leader Bal Patil said that the reservation was needed for overall socio-economic and educational development of Muslims. Christian community leader Dominic Emmanuel also spoke for quota for Muslims in government jobs.

The leaders of Communist parties including AB Bardhan and Forward Block's Debabrat Biswas accepted that it was a genuine need of the hour for the government to take stock of the backwardness of Muslims.

They were speaking at the programme organised under the auspices of Joint Committee of Organisations of Muslims for Empowerment (JCOME) that was organised in New Delhi on Sunday.

The speakers at the conclave said that reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Castes (OBCs) should be extended to cover Muslims also.

Former Chief Justice AM Ahmedi and Muslim leaders like Muslim Majlis Mushwarat chief ex-MP Syed Shahabuddin and editor of Milli Gazette Dr Zafar Alam Khan, attended the convention.

TIH Bureau

Maoists kill 15 policemen in Maharashtra

Naxalites killed a police party comprising 15 personnel in an ambush in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra on Sunday. The ultra-leftists have a strong presence in Gadchiroli.

The attack took place near Madke forest village in Dhanora. Apparently, the Maoists were aware of the movement of police and as soon as the patrolling party arrived, they were fired at.

This is one of the biggest attacks on police in terms of casualties in recent times. One sub-inspector and 14 constables died in the firing. Several other policemen and guards were injured.

There was no information about any Naxal getting injured. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan vowed tough action on Naxalites. The Home Minister Jayant Patil has rushed to Gadchiroli, which is on the border of Chhattisgarh.

Naxalites managed to take away arms and ammunitions including AK 47 rifles. The police suspect that the recent arrest of two dalam commanders may have prompted the Naxalites to take revenge.

TIH Bureau

February 1, 2009

Sania Mirza wins Australian Open mixed doubles title

Sania Mirza won her first career grand slam when partnering with veteran Indin star Mahesh Bhupathi, the Indian pair defeated the opponents in straight sets.

Mirza and Bhupathi beat the pair of Nathalie Dechy (France) and Andy Ram (Israel) in two sets 6-3, 6-1. The final turned out to be one-sided and was wrapped up in less than an hour.

Last year the Indian pair had lost in the final. However, they have made up for the last year's defeat with stylish victory. Mahesh Bhupathi has now won nine grand slam titles, the highest for any Indian.

She is the first Indian woman to ever win a grand slam title. Mirza had a tough year in 2008 when she remained away from the court due to injuries. She went out of the top 100 in the WTA ranking.

TIH Bureau

Indian tennis has another hero: Yuki Bhambhri

Teenaged Yuki Bhambri's surprise victory in the Australian Open's boys category has come just within weeks of Somdev Devvarman's arrival on the scene.

The Delhi-born Bhambri won the singles title for boys at the Australian Open by defeating Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas of Germany in straight sets 6-3, 6-1.

The junior Grand Slam victory comes after a gap of 18 years for India. Leander Paes had last win, US Open juniors singles title, in 1991.

A year ago he had won the Wimbledon's singles title. Much before him Ramesh Krishnan had won junior championships at French open and Wimbledon.

But this is the first occasion, an Indian has won the Australian open juniors tournament. The 1992-born Yuki is the brother of sisters, Ankita and Sanaa Bhambri, who also play tennis for India. Yuki Bhambri was the top seeded player in the tournament in the juniors category and is ranked number 2 in the world among junior tennis players.

The victory augurs well for Indian tennis, as it comes close on the heels of Sania Mirza, rediscovering her touch, along with Mahesh Bhupathi, and the emergence of young Somdev Devvarman on the tennis firmament of the country.

TIH Bureau

Five kids die in hospital fire, Teenager saves five others

The death of five children in a Punjab hospital has left the nation shocked. A teenager who works at teashop saved five other babies when even the doctors didn't enter the room.

All the babies were newborn and less than a week old. Ten kids were undergoing treatment for jaundice through photo-therapy when the fire occurred in the neonatology unit.

The photo-therapy apparatus apparently caught fire due to short-circuit, and five of the children, died in the incubators. The horrific deaths have sent shock waves across the nation and put a question mark on safety measures in hospitals.

But it was the role of a teenager who works a nearby teashop that deserves a mention. His alertness and prompt action saved the lives of five out of ten babies who were in the neonatology unit then.

He heard the cries of nurses and entered the room that was full of smoke. Using the torch of his cell phone, he took the kids out, one by one. Though the doctors were present and didn't venture in. Apparently, the water on the floor caused electrocution.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his grief at the incident. The Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has also ordered a magisterial inquiry and said that those responsible would not be spared at any cost.

TIH Bureau

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