The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

March 31, 2009

Woman lawyer's house stoned for taking up Kasab case

Shiv Sena workers stoned the house of advocate Anjali Waghmare, who was asked by the court to represent Ajmal Kasab, an acused of 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes.

Waghmare, 40, had agreed to fight the case. However, after Monday evening's incident, she had apologised for accepting to defend Ajmal Amir Kasab and wrote a letter to the Shiv Sena in this regard.

The judge had appointed Waghmare as Kasab's counsel when he told court that he had no lawyer to take up his case. The lady lawyer had told journalists that she would be able to provide a good defence.

Later she had also said that denial of a lawyer to Kasab would have a negative impact on the case. But the Shiv Sena workers attacked her house in Mumbai later in the day. Subsequently, she apologised and said that she would not fight the case.

TIH Bureau

March 30, 2009

Varun Gandhi booked under stringent NSA for his speech against Muslims during UP election campaign

The Uttar Pradesh police has booked Varun Feroze Gandhi, the grandson of Indira Gandhi, under the National Security Act (NSA) for his hate speech in Pilibhit.

Under the provisions of the non-bailable NSA, Varun may not find it easy to come out of the jail. Though it doesn't bar him from contesting elections, he may not be able to campaign during the elections.

The latest action of UP police spells further trouble for Varun, who has emerged as the poster boy of militant Hindutva ideology with his alleged public comments to cut the heads of Muslims whom he had referred to with a derogatory word.

The District Magistrate of Pilibhit, Ajay Chauhan, ordered initiation of NSA proceedings against Varun, who is currently lodged in Pilibhit jail. The BJP has termed it a political vendetta.

The UP government has however justified the action and held that his provocative and communal speeches had vitiated the atmosphere. It said that the action was necessary to ensure free and peaceful elections.

Apart from the hate-speech, the grounds for invoking NSA included the attack of BJP workers and Varun's supporters on police. Hundreds of workers had clashed with police, damaged vehicles and hurled stones at the jail, protesting his arrest.

TIH Bureau

March 29, 2009

After Varun, Maneka turns 'anti-Muslim'

After Varun Gandhi's communal speeches, his mother Maneka has alleged that a Muslim official was responsible for attacking the supporters of her son on Saturday.

The BJP workers had thronged the court premises and later went along with police vehicle to jail where Varun was taken. On way, they had hurled stones at police and tried to storm into jail.

But Maneka said that a Muslim police officer had provoked the supporters of Varun. She reached the prison later in the day. Talking to journalists she said that the inspector had caused injuries to two dozen supporters of Varun.

Tension continues in Pilibhit where thousands of BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists had clashed with the police in the day. They had damaged vehicles and fought street battles with police.

Even after the use of tear gas and lathi-charge, the mob couldn't be controlled easily. Maneka claimed that she had noticed the action of the officer. "Of the 45 persons who were injured, this officer alone was responsible for hitting 25".

Earlier, Varun had surrendered in the court. He was sent to the judicial custody till March 30. He has been booked for his anti-Muslim speeches in which he threatened to cut the heads of Muslims and also equated the community members with Osama Bin Laden.

TIH Bureau

March 28, 2009

Hate speech: Court sends Varun Gandhi to jail

The Pilibhit court has sent Varun Feroze Gandhi, the great grandson of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, to jail for abusing and threatening to kill Muslims.

Varun, who had delivered an allegedly offensive and inflammatory speech targeting the Muslims and Sikhs during his election campaign in Pilibhit, was sent to jail on judicial custody.

The next hearing will be held on March 30. Till then Varun will be lodged in the jail where he will have to spend two nights. The criminal charges against him are of serious nature including causing enmity between sections of the society.

As it was a non-bailable offence, Varun today reached the court and surrendered. He courted arrest amid high drama as thousands of BJP workers holding saffron flags and chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' followed him in the form of a procession.

After the judge ordered him to be sent to prison, his supporters raised slogans in his favour and clashed with police. They surrounded the police vehicle taking Varun and tried to stop it.

Outside the jail also there was commotion. The police had to resort to cane-charge and burst tear gas shells to bring the situation under control. Varun Gandhi is the BJP's official candidate for the elections from Pilibhit constituency.

TIH Bureau

March 27, 2009

HC cancels Kodnani's bail, terms religious fanatics as terrorists

The Gujarat High Court has cancelled the anticipatory bail was granted to State minister Maya Kodnani, the female face of Gujarat communal carnage and a riot accused.

Following the order, Kodnani has resigned from state cabinet. She now faces arrest.
Kodnani, a practicing doctor and minister, had allegedly led the mob that had killed 106 persons in Naroda Patia during the anti-Muslim pogrom in the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002.

She was accused of distributing weapons to the rioting mob and instigated them for attacking the houses of Muslims. The Supreme Court (SC) appointed Special Investigative Team (SIT) had found her role in the mass murders and obtained clinching evidences.

In an order on Friday, the High Court cancelled the bail to both Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel. The Judge held that communal harmony was vital for any successful democracy and held that religious fanatics were no better than the terrorists.

The decision has come on the day, LK Advani is reaching Gujarat to set off his election campaign. The cancellation of her bail has come as an embarrassment for the ruling BJP. The official spokesperson of BJP said that the party respects the order of court.

TIH Bureau

March 26, 2009

Cell phone bursts, youth's private parts burnt

A youth's private parts were badly burnt when the Chinese cell phone he had kept in his trousers pocket, burst in a Madhya Pradesh town.

The condition of victim is critical. The youth Raju, 22, lives in Dhar district in Western MP. On Thursday, his cell phone caught fire and exploded. Raju's private parts were badly burnt. The doctors said that all the flesh had been charred and the penis blown up.

"His condition is bad as the penis has almost disappeared. We hope that he can be saved and have sent him to Dahod in Gujarat", said the local medical practitioner who gave first-aid to Raju. The youth's family said that they were sitting in the house when the blast took place in Raju's pocket.

 Not just his private parts but his thigh was also burt in the incident. "It was a China-made cell phone handset", said his family members. One of his hands was also burnt. Though he suffered heavy blood loss, there is still hope that he can be saved.

But it is not sure yet whether his reproductive organ could be restored medically, said a doctor at the hospital. The Chinese cell phones are common in rural India as they are comparatively cheaper than phones manufactured in other countries.

TIH Bureau

BJP leader arrested for raping daughter for eight yrs

Barely days after the Mumbai incest case involving a businessman raping his daughter surfaced, a politician from Punjab has now been arrested for a similar crime.

The man, Ashok Taneja, a BJP leader in Ajnala, a border town near Amritsar, was arrested after his daughter approached the police and made a complaint of rape against her father.

The 20-year-old girl, who studies in a college, said that she was sexually abused for eight years. She suffered for long and decided to put an end to it by lodging a complaint with the police.

Taneja has been arrested. The police said they were interrogating him. The accused is BJP general secretary in the town that borders Pakistan. The BJP is part of the coalition government with Akali Dal in the state.

The case has come to light within days of a Gujarati family living in Mumbai being accused of similar crime. The Mira road incest-rape case has left the nation shell-shocked.

Businessman Kishor Chauhan, settled in Mumbai, raped his daughter with the help of his own wife, Anjana, who facilitated her husband in sexually exploiting the girl for several years.

The family was under the influence of a practitioner of witchcraft and black magic, Hasmukh Rathaur. He had told the couple that the incestuous relationship will help them in business and make them rich.

TIH Bureau

March 25, 2009

School expels Muslim boy for keeping beard

A Missionary school in Madhya Pradesh expelled a Muslim student for keeping a beard. The High School student has now approached the Supreme Court demanding justice.

Mohammed Salim, a student of Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School in Sironj town in Vidisha district, had kept a beard but the principal forced him to leave the school.

She contended that it violated the policy of her school. The counsel of the boy filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court but it was rejected. The Apex court has now admitted the petition.

Salim's counsel has held that the school can't discriminate among children on the basis of their beliefs and should not interfere with religion. "Beard has a religious symbol in Islam and when a fellow Sikh boy can keep a beard, a Muslim can't be denied the same privilege in a secular country".

The Supreme court has sought information about the school and whether it is a government-aided institute. Salim's lawyer has held that the school's action tantamount to the violation of freedom of religion enshrined in Indian constitution. The Christian missionary run school is a minority educational institute as per the Madhya Pradesh government.

TIH Bureau

March 24, 2009

Advani's contribution is Babri demolition, says PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hit out at BJP leader LK Advani on Tuesday, saying that the latter's 'contribution' to the country was the demolition of Babri Mosque.

Singh said that the terrorist attacks on Indian Parliament and Red Fort, surrender to militants' demands during the Kandahar plane hijack case and Gujarat genocide, all took place when Advani was Home Minister of the country.

Upset over the allegations that he was a weak Prime Minister, Singh chose to counter-attack and recounted the above incidents, saying that the electorate should decide who is weak.

Singh was speaking to journalists after releasing the Congress manifesto for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He termed Advani as an 'opportunist' for his visit to Jinnah's mausoleum in Pakistan nearly four years ago.

TIH Bureau

Four Andhra youths killed in road mishap in America

The death of four young students in an accident in United States has come in wake of several such recent deaths of Indian students in mishaps in America.

There have been an alarming rise in incidents involving death of young students from Andhra Pradesh in mysterious circumstances that range from mishaps, shooting on the campus or suicide. The latest incident has again alarmed the residents of the State.

The four youths including three girls were returning home when their car was hit by an off-duty police officer's car. The woman police official was allegedly drunk while driving.

The four victims including three girls Anusha Anumolu, Anita Lakshami, Priya Muppvarapu and the young man, Satya Chinta, were pursuing MS (Information Technology) at a university in Charleston.

The policewoman Chrissy Miller was driving her SUV that crashed into the Honda car in which the four youths were travelling. They had gone to an Indian restaurant and were returning home.

Large number of techies from Hyderabad and other cities across AP go to United States of America (USA) every year for better fortune. But parents are wary after repeated incidents involving deaths of youngsters abroad.

TIH Bureau

March 23, 2009

Don't field Varun Gandhi, EC tells BJP

Holding the BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, guilty of delivering speeches that violated model code of conduct, Election Commission has asked BJP not to field him.

The Election Commission (EC) deliberated over the issue and after examining the CD that has a recording of Varun's speeches, held him guilty of misconduct and causing enmity among sections of society.

The EC order further says that the speeches have highly objectionable and derogatory references towards a community and provoke citizens to indulge in violence. It also asked the BJP not to field him as its candidate.

"Fielding him in the election would be held as endorsing his views that are unpardonable", says the order that terms the speech as a threat to the social, democratic and plural fabric of the country.

Varun had delivered speeches in his election meetings in Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh). The speeches wee mainly directed at Muslims but also had derogatory reference to the Sikh community.

TIH Bureau

March 21, 2009

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in soup over Temple comment

Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is in the midst of a controversy after reportedly commenting that the BJP is not a construction company to build Ram temple.

In an interview with Gulf News correspondent Nilima Pathak, Naqvi criticised his party's candidate from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi for making anti-Muslim speeches. He said that terming every skullcap-wearing Muslim as a product of Osama Bin Laden's factory, is objectionable.

On the issue of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Naqvi said that it was not a political issue for BJP. He said that BJP is not a construction company that will build mosque, temple, church or other structures.

It will build a consensus for facilitating the construction of temple in Ayodhya. The historic Babri Masjid was demolished after BJP LK Advani's rath-yatra and the construction of temple along with Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code have been among the main poll planks of the Saffron party.

Naqvi had recently landed in a controversy when he had made a comment over women wearing lipstick and powder in the wake of citizens' angry protests against the entire political class following terrorist attack in Mumbai.

TIH Bureau

Mohan Bhagwat is RSS chief, Sudarshan retires

Mohan Bhagwat has taken over as the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) after KS Sudarshan decided to step down at the three-day meet of the RSS in Nagpur.

Sudharshan served as the chief of the conservating right-wing Hindu organisation for nine years. The RSS is a major revivalist organisation that has umpteen off-shoots including the militant Bajrang Dal and the VHP.

The new RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Rao Bhagwat is understood to be a well-wisher of BJP leader LK Advani, while the outgoing chief Sudarshan had even advised him to retire from active politics.

The annual general meeting of the RSS is currently on in Nagpur. With Sudarshan announcing his retirement, the focus in on Bhaiya Joshi and Suresh Soni who are the frontrunners for the post of General Secretary.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is a controversial organisation that has been banned in the past. However, in recent years, particularly after the BJPs rise in power at the national-level, the RSS seems to have become a more open organisation compared to the past.

TIH Bureau

Azharuddin to contest from Uttar Pradesh!

Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin who had recently joined the Congress party is likely to fight election from either Meerut or Moradabad in UP.

However, there is also speculation that he may be fielded from Tonk seat in Rajasthan. The central high-command is tight-lipped on the issue but it's clear that he would contest the election from North India rather than his home state.

The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) chief Reeta Bahuguna Joshi on Friday said that UP Congress Committee had decided to field Azhar from either of the two constituencies.

Both the seats have strong Muslim population. Joshi was speaking to media persons in Lucknow. Meerut has 30% Muslims while the percentage of the community is even higher in Moradabad. Azhar hails from Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

But the Congress feels that as his appeal cuts across states and religions, he can fetch votes from all the communities and win a seat in UP where the party has failed to perform well over the last two decades.

Azhar was earlier keen on fighting from Nizamabad in AP. But now he will fight from UP and also campaign for the party to revive its chances in the state that sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha.

Though the 'tainted' former captain of Indian cricket team had been banned from international cricket due to his alleged involvement in match-fixing and the betting controversy, he faces no criminal charge.
TIH Bureau

March 20, 2009

Mallika Sarabhai Vs Advani in Gandhinagar

Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai had announced that she would contest the election against the BJP's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.

She said that she would be contesting the election as an independent candidate but would not mind if the Congress offered her support. "I am a people's candidate and I stand for them".

The renowned dancer said that she her desire to enter into the political field was because of the degeneration of politicians and the politics of divisiveness. Sarabhai said that her plank was inclusiveness and she would fight the politics of hatred and corruption.

The daughter of Vikram Sarabhai, a towering figure in Indian space programme, Mallika has acted in movies. She had been booked for various charges when she raised her voice against the persecution of minorities, especially Muslims, in Gujarat.

After the Godhra riots, Sarabhai had denounced the role of Narendra Modi-led BJP government. She says that Congress had offered her ticket for the Assembly elections several times in the past but she felt that now she had to fight the Parliamentary elections.

TIH Bureau

March 19, 2009

Varun Gandhi accused of distributing cash in Pilibhit

The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family and a BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Varun, is again in the midst of a controversy for allegedly distributing cash in his constituency.

Varun, who is contesting from Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is accused of handing over money to various persons during his election campaign recently.

This is a serious violation of the model code of conduct and has landed him in fresh trouble after the FIR registered against him for delivering an anti-Muslim speech in which he asked for cutting the hands of anybody who raised finger towards Hindus.

He had also allegedly said that he would cut the heads of Muslims and used derogatory word for the community. An inquiry conducted by the district administration has revealed that he indeed gave away cash.

The video footage of his election campaign also shows Varun's supporters handing over envelops to the Sadhus (priests) present on the dais after he left the programme.

TIH Bureau

March 18, 2009

Sikh Gurdwara burnt in London, cops don't rule out possibility of racist attack

In a tragic incident, a place of worship of the Sikh community in London was set afire by unidentified persons. Police suspect it could be a racist attack.

The Sikh Sangat Gurdwara in East London that was established nearly three decades ago was set afire, said reports reaching here on Tuesday night. Large parts of the building and the religious texts including Guru Granth Sahib were burnt.

Fifty fire-fighters were pressed into service but it took eight hours to douse the fire. Nearly 75% of the structure was burnt. Eyewitnesses said an intruder who tried to reach the holiest place inside the Gurudwara, was intercepted by women.

He later ran away but soon the building was in flames. Women devotees tried to put out the fire by throwing buckets full of water but failed to stop the fire from spreading.

It is suspected that the attack on Sikh temple could be the handiwork of racist gangs. There was racist graffiti seen on the walls of the Gurdwara recently. The police are working on the clues to findout the group or person involving in the setting the famous Britain Gurudwara ablaze.

England has a large Sikh population, mostly immigrants from India. Sikhs are among the biggest religious groups in the country along with Muslims and Hindus. There have been sporadic incidents of racism against the community lately.

TIH Bureau

March 17, 2009

Lalu, Paswan to contest 37 seats, Congress furious

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) have decided to field candidates in 37 out of 40 constituencies in Bihar, leaving just three for Congress.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan today made the announcement that they would fight the election as allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

They claimed that they would fight the election on the plank of secularism. However, this arrangement has left the Congress seething, as it has been left with a mere three seats to field its candidates.

Sources said that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi is upset with the development. While Lalu holds sway with Yadavas and sections of backward communities other than Muslims, Paswan has a strong following among Dalits.

The Muslim community also identified itself with Paswan, who had joined the NDA government but quit over the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. The alliance can add to the troubles of BJP, though the JD(U)-BJP government has created an image for good governance.

Meanwhile, Lalu Yadav has to deal with a revolt in his own house. His brother-in-law and MP Sadhu Yadav has charged him of surrendering to Paswan. He has protested the decision to field film-maker Prakash Jha from Bettiah constituency.

TIH Bureau

Criminal case against Varun Gandhi

A criminal case has been registered against the BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, for inciting enmity among different sections of the society in his speech.

The Election Commission (EC) had directed the district magistrate to register an FIR for the inflammatory speech, which Varun had delivered during his election campaign recently.

Following the orders, the case was registered against Varun under section 153 (A) for promoting hatred and causing disharmony other than sections 123 (A) and 123 (B).
The EC had also sought explanation from the District Magistrate (DM).

A Congress delegation met the Election Commission N Gopalaswamy regarding the offensive speeches. The CD was aired by various news channels on Monday, causing outrage.

Meanwhile, the BJP leaders have also condemned the speech. Party leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said that Varun has abused the Muslims of the country and he should apologise.

TIH Bureau

Varun Gandhi in trouble over communal remarks

The BJP candidate from Pilibhit constituency in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Varun Gandhi is in the eye of a storm due to his anti-Muslim comments in speeches during poll campaign.

Gandhi made inflammatory comments at a public meeting. The Election Commission has taken cognisance of the speeches that were shown live on various television channels on Monday.

He had allegedly said that he would severe the hands and heads of members of a particular community. Varun reportedly used an abusive slang for the Muslims in one of his speeches.

The fierce tone of the 'other' scion of Nehru-Gandhi family has even shocked the BJP leaders. The Congress candidate VM Singh and other local leaders are also approaching the authorities for suitable action.

Varun is the son of Maneka Gandhi She has left the seat for him in order to launch his political career. Though he is known to be politically active, his strong anti-minority rhetoric has surprised even the firebrand BJP leaders.

The Election Commission has served a notice on him. Already a case has been registered against him for delivering provocative and fiery speeches that can disrupt peace and law-and-order.

TIH Bureau

March 16, 2009

Zardari bows to Nawaz Sharif, CJ to be reinstated

Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has bowed to mounting public pressure and agreed to reinstate Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry after Nawaz Sharif began his long march.

The crisis was diffused after Zardari announced on Monday that deposed Supreme Court Judge Iftikhar Chaudhary would be back. Former President Pervez Musharraf had dismissed Chaudhary during the emergency in 2007.

With Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today declaring that all the sacked judges would be reinstated along with the Chief Justice (CJ), the former PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif who had defied the house arrest orders, cancelled his long march.

Chaudhry will take over as Chief Justice on March 21, the same day incumbent Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar retires. The government has also agreed for an appeal against the court order barring Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from contesting elections.

TIH Bureau

Slumdog child actors ousted from school

The Indian child artistes who acted in Slumdog Millionaire have been expelled from the school due to short attendance. The movie had won Oscar awards in eight categories.

As many as 20 children who worked in the movie have not been allowed to return to the classes. The school authorities said that the children had missed classes for two months, which was quite a long period.

As the kids had been involved in the shoot, they remained away from the school without the requisite permission and paperwork, which their poor and mostly illiterate parents were unable to peform.

All these twenty children were supporting cast for the lead child actors in the movie. These children, most of whom, belong to poor families living in slums in Bandra in Mumbai.

A delegation comprising parents of these children met the Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Dutt, urging her to intervene and speak to the school authorities to ensure that the academic year of the children is not wasted.

Dutt has assured the families that she would try to convince the school authorities to allow the children back to the classroom. The Danny Boyle movie that was largely shot in Mumbai had won eight Academy Awards.

TIH Bureau

March 15, 2009

BJP opposes Charlie Chaplin statue in Karnataka

Terming the legendary Charlie Chaplin as Christian, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Karnataka are opposing the installation of the American actor's statue.

The local BJP leaders in Baindur near Udipi claimed that because Chaplin was a Christian, his statue would hurt the Hindu sentiments. Movie-maker Hemant Hegde was putting up the statue for the shooting of his film, Houseful.

But the BJP leader Suresh Batwadi and his supporters stopped the shoot. They alleged that the 67 feet statue was supposed to be installed on the land owned by a temple and it couldn't be tolerated.

Senior party leaders also share the same view. Home Minister VS Acharya has said that as the local residents were objecting to the installation of the statue, it couldn't be erected.

The police officials said that the Hindu populace wanted a statue of Vivekananda rather than Charlie Chaplin. Karnataka has been in the news for attacks on Christians and Churches apart from Saffron outfits taking on women visiting pubs.

TIH Bureau

March 14, 2009

Police stop Pravin Togadia, VHP workers cane-charged

Jain doctor Praveen Togadia leads VHP
The Uttar Pradesh police cane-charged the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers led by Pravin Togadia in Bhadohi on Friday. Ten persons were injured in the incident.

Togadia was on his way towards the residence of VHP district chief Jagdish Jaiswal when the police stopped him for passing through a communally sensitive area. His car was not allowed to move further.

However, when the VHP workers refused to go by an alternative route and had confrontation with police, they were forcibly stopped at Ahmadganj crossing. The police later resorted to lathi-charge that resulted in injuries to ten activists.

Togadia, who is the general secretary of the VHP, is a firebrand leader. Though a Jain by religion, he has been an outspoken leader for VHP which is considered a fundamentalist Hindu organisation and a proponent of the philosophy of Hindutva.

TIH Bureau

March 13, 2009

Third front launched ahead of polls

A grand alliance of nine parties has been forged to provide a non-Congress and non-BJP alternative to the electorate just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The leaders of these parties gathered at Tumkur near Bangalore in Karnataka. The parties include CPI, CPM, Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), BSP and JD(S).

The party leaders vowed to provide an alternative to the Indian voter with the plank of pro-Dalit, pro-poor and pro-minority government upon coming to power at the Centre.

Though Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati didn't attend the meeting, she sent her trusted lieutenant Satish Mishra to participate in the event. AIADMK leader Jayalalitha was also absent and sent her representative.

Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Devegowda along with Communist leaders Prakash Karat and AB Bardhan addressed the gathering. The Congress and the BJP have dismissed the attempt of the third front parties though analysts say that the alliance may play a crucial role in case of a hung Parliament.

TIH Bureau

March 12, 2009

Two die in police firing in Varanasi

Two persons died when the police fired at a group of protesting Muslims in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. Over a dozen other persons were injured in the incident.

The trouble began when colour was splashed at the wall of a mosque in Bazardih locality of Varanasi on the occasion of Holi. Angry Muslims gathered near Gausia Masjid and raised slogans.

The Hindus in the neighbouring locality also gathered and both sides had a confrontation with stones hurled against each other. The police rushed to the spot and fired shots, causing the death of two persons.

The dead were identified as Shafiq and Moin. Police said that they fired to control the mob. The situation remained tense and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC were enforced. Curfew was however not imposed.

Communal riots were reported in several parts of the country in the two days. One person died in Mahidpur town in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) when the police fired at a mob on Id Miladun Nabi.

In UP's Bareilly, one person died while there was a clash between Muslims and police in Lucknow also. Holi fell a day after Miladun Nabi causing tension and Hindu-Muslim clashes at various places in the country.

TIH Bureau

March 11, 2009

Arya Samaj enters political arena

The Arya Samaj is all set to launch its political outfit and would field candidates in North India, especially, Haryana for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

It will field candidates under the banner of Rashtriya Arya Rajya Sabha (RARS), its political wing. The Arya Samaj that was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati is a revivalist movement in Hinduism.

But this is not the first time when the Hindu organisation has entered politics. In 1972 and 1977, its candidates had contested the elections. In fact, a contestant Swami Agnivesh had even won the election and had entered the Assembly to later become a state minister.

The leaders of the sect claim that their aim to enter the electoral field is to cleanse the politics of corruption and work for the betterment of the society along with uplift of the poor. The Election Commission has been approached for registration, according to reports.

TIH Bureau

March 10, 2009

Ragging causes MBBS student's death

In a shocking incident, a junior student at a medical college in Himachal Pradesh, died as a result of excessive and brutal ragging by his seniors.

Aman Kachroo, 19, who was student of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh (HP), succumbed to the injuries on Sunday.

It is learnt that Kachroo was mercilessly beaten by the third year students. He had earlier told his parents that about the ragging but they didn't think that it could take his life.

Kachru had told them that drunk seniors would brutally beam them. The boy had received injuries in the face, chest, ears and other parts of the body. After his death, the college authorities tried to hush up the matter by trying to pass it off as a case of suicide.

The college administration didn't even call the police even much after the death. Later when the news of a medical student getting killed due to ragging became public, the college principle offered his resignation. The police have conducted the post-mortem report and said that they had arrested two of the offenders.

TIH Bureau

March 8, 2009

Terror accused Sadhvi Pragya in hospital

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was admitted to a government hospital after she went on fast claiming that she had been served non-vegetarian food in the prison.

She is an accused in the Malegaon blast case and is currently lodged in the Byculla jail. Thakur had refused to eat the food served in the jail and as a result her health was affected.

The MCOCA court had directed that in case her health deteriorates, she could be admitted to the hospital. The self-styled Sadhvi, who became the poster girl of militant Hindutva, has said that a piece of egg was found in her food.

She held that it was against her religious beliefs and she was vomiting constantly after the incident. Her lawyer had also demanded that she should be allowed to get home cooked food from her family in the jail.

For the moment, the Sadhvi has been shifted to the JJ Hospital. Pragya Thakur is charged of planning and conspiring the bomb blast at the Muslim dominated Malegaon town in Maharashtra in 2006.

TIH Bureau

Advani woos Muslims, says BJP not anti-Muslim

Senior BJP leader LK Advani, who is seen as a Hindutva hardliner, on Saturday said that his party has always protected the interests of the Muslim community.

Advani said that BJP was never against Muslims. He also said that under the BJP's rule, the per capita income of Gujarati Muslims was highest in the entire country.

He was speaking at a rally in Jamshedpur. He praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and said that electricity was supplied round the clock in thousands of villages Gujarat unlike other states.

Incidentally, Gujarat is the same state that had witnessed communal carnage in which over 1,000 Muslims were killed nearly five years ago. Advani's statement is seen as an effort to project a moderate image for himself.

As Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP, Advani is yet to become as acceptable as former Prime Minister and veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Advani had rose to popularity with his 'rath yatra' during the Ayodhya movement that had ultimately led to demolition of the Babri mosque.

Though believed to be a Hindutva sympathiser, he has been trying to appear moderate. Recently, Advani had condemned the attacks of Sri Ram Sena on pub-going women in Karnataka's Mangalore.

TIH Bureau

Naveen Patnaik's BJD ends alliance with BJP

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got a jolt when its alliance with Biju Janata Dal (BJD)came to an end on Friday. The BJD was its alliance partner for almost a decade.

The Orissa Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik announced that his party will contest the election on its own. He said that the BJD will field its candidates in all the seats.

The alliance broke down over failure of both the parties to agree on a seat sharing formula. The decision comes as a shock to the BJP which is hoping to steal a march over Congress in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Orissa has 21 Lok Sabha seats and Naveen Patnaik's BJD wanted to contest 12. The Assembly polls are also being held simultaneously and the party wanted 100 seats out of 147, which meant just 47 seats for the BJP.

TIH Bureau

March 7, 2009

Life sentence to six teachers for student's rape

Six teachers who had allegedly gang raped a Dalit girl student in Gujarat's Patan a year ago, have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court on Friday.

The shocking incident of rape at the Primary Teachers' Training College had come to light last year. The six teachers--Manish Parmar, Ashwin Parmar, Kiran Patel, Suresh Patel, Atul Patel and Mahendra Prajapati, were held guilty by the court.

The judge SC Shrivastava pronounced the judgment. All the six teachers were sentenced for life term. They have also been penalised and a fine of Rs 4,000 each was imposed on them.

Besides, they will have to pay compensation of Rs 10,000 each to the victim' family. The girl was raped over a period of six months by the gang of teachers who sexually assaulted her.

Later the girl mustered courage and informed the parents. After the case hit the headlines, the Narendra Modi government had ordered a magisterial inquiry and compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the victim.

TIH Bureau

March 5, 2009

Mulayam Singh seeks Deoband Ulema's blessings

Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday visited the Islamic seminary at Deoband and sought the Ulema's blessings ahead of the elections.

Yadav met the 98-year-old head and rector of Darul Uloom Deoband, Maulana Marghoobur Rahman along with other senior Ulema. He told them about the communal forces that wanted to divide the country.

The SP chief urged the clerics to pray for defeat of such forces that are acting against the interests of the country. He praised the role of Muslim clergy in the freedom movement.

He said that he felt delighted at his reception in the historic Darul Uloom. Yadav who is under fire from certain sections for taking the support of former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, said that he was committed for secularism and harmony.

Yadav told the Ulema that Mayawati had campaigned for Narendra Modi in Gujarat and after the Lok Sabha elections her party could again support the BJP. He said that Mayawati's BSP and BJP were parties were similar agenda.

However, Deoband Ulema later issued a statement saying that the institution doesn't support any political party but welcomes everybody like BJP's Vinay Katiyar who was recently invited. It further said that the institution's wishes are with every person in his legal and lawful pursuits.

TIH Bureau

March 3, 2009

Sri Lankan cricket team members shot at in Lahore

At least six members of the touring Sri Lankan cricket team were injured when unidentified miscreants fired at them in Lahore on Tuesday morning.

Five policemen were reportedly killed in the incident of firing. Sources said that grenades were also lobbed at the team. A senior police official confirmed that at least six players were wounded, two of them seriously, while five police officer had died.

The unidentified gunmen had attacked the bus that was carrying the players to the ground. Though it was not very clear whether the team members were targeted, the daredevil attack on the touring cricketers has come as a major embarrassment for Pakistan.

There is a possibility that the tour could be cancelled. Besides, there may not be any cricket in near future in Pakistan as teams would avoid visiting the country. The entire area near the Liberty market had been cordoned off and the search operations had begun.

The Sri Lankan team is currently in Pakistan to play a test match. Later reports said that more than half-a-dozen team members may have been injured in the firing. The bus was surrounded when it was taking the players to Gaddafi stadium for a practice session.

Following the incident, the tour was called off and the players air-lifted straight from the ground and taken home. The attack is termed as a lethal blow to Pakistan cricket as no other country would agree to visit the place in near future.

TIH Bureau

March 2, 2009

EC announces General Election schedule

The general elections will be held in five phases but will be completed in a period of less than a month, starting from April 16 and ending on May 13.

The Election Commission of India today announced that the Lok Sabha polls would conducted in five phases. The voting dates are April 16, 22, 23, 30 and May 7 & 13. The counting of votes would be done on May 13.

The troubled Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state will have a five phase election. Apart from Kashmir, India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh will also vote in as many phases, said Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy.

However, among other major states Bihar will have a four-phased poll while Maharashtra and West Bengal will vote in three phases. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Punjab will have election in two phases.

The rest of 15 states and seven centrally-administered (Union) territories will have polling completed in a day. Over 71 crore (710 million) electorate would vote for electing the government in the world's biggest democracy.

TIH Bureau

March 1, 2009

VHP doesn't want Muslim leaders in BJP

Hardening its anti-minority stance, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Saturday said that there should not be any place for Muslim leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

VHP leader Giriraj Kishore today said that neither Shahnawaz Khan nor Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi can be acceptable in a party like BJP that claims to speak for the majority Hindu community.

Expressing his unhappiness over the presence of Muslims in BJP's leadership, Kishore said that any such candidate would have no support of the VHP's cadre during the upcoming elections.

Kishore is a hardliner and has often taken positions that have been stronger than the stand of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), though the VHP is one of the offshoot of the Sangh Parivar.

Shahnawaz Khan will contest from Kishanganj in Bihar while Naqvi is likely to be fielded from his home constituency, Rampur. They are the only two major Muslim faces of BJP.

TIH Bureau

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