The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

April 29, 2009

Four killed in train accident in Chennai

At least four persons were reported dead while over a dozen were injured when a passenger train had a collision with a goods train in Chennai on Wednesday morning.

The accident occurred at sub-urban Vyasarpadi railway station. An unidentified person had taken over the engine of the train and set it off, causing the mishap, said TV reports.

The passenger train was on way from Chennai when it met with a mishap at Jeevnagar, where the goods train from Arakkonam rammed into it. It was feared that the casualties could mount.

The pileup involved several compartments of the two trains. Mangled bogeys were lying upturned at the scene of the accident. It is believed that a person had entered the goods train and operated it, causing the accident.

Sources said that some joyriders had made way into the engine and led the train. Rescue workers and fire fighters were involved in relief work. Train services were badly hit in Chennai.Meanwhile, Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav has ordered an inquiry into the mishap.

TIH Bureau

Tamils attack India House in United Kingdom

Hundreds of Tamils who were protesting outside the Indian High Commission in London, resorted to violence and attempted to damage the building of the India House.

The Tamil activists had gathered outside the High Commission's office and began shouting anti-India slogans. They were upset with the Indian government's role on the issue of Sri Lankan army's attack on Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

With army closing in on the LTTE bastion and the rebel Tigers barely controlling an area of 5 sq km, the pro-LTTE groups had given a call to protest the inaction of the Indian government in protecting the interests of Tamilians.

Some of the angry protesters barged into the building through the main door. The security men overpowered them and forced them out. However, there were attempts to damage the building by hurling stones.

The incident has come in wake of the damage to the statue of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in India Palace public square in London just a few days back by suspected pro-LTTE groups.

The statue had been uprooted. Apart from England, similar protests have been held in United States of America, France and Canada also apart from Malaysia and some other Asian countries.

TIH Bureau

April 28, 2009

Supreme Court orders probe against Narendra Modi

The ghost of the Gujarat riots has come back to haunt Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as Supreme Court has ordered a probe into his role in the riots.

The Apex court on Monday asked the Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by the former CBI Director RK Raghavan to investigate the role of the Chief Minister and several other senior government functionaries in the communal riot.

The victims had charged the state government of inaction and holding a meeting with the police officials to instruct them to allow the 'rioters to go amok and give vent to their anger against Muslims'.

The post-Godhra communal carnage, which is believed to be one of the worst incidents of racial killings and mass murders, had left over 1,000 dead. Mostly Muslims including women and children were among those who died in the violence.

Among other victims, the wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed by a riotous mob, had alleged that the police were deliberately not sent to rescue the victims and the police officials had conspired with the killing mobs.

Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia had approached the Supreme Court. She had complained that the Ahmedabada police had not registered any criminal case regarding the killings at the Gurbarg Society.

The Congress has called the SC decision a slap in the face of Narendra Modi. The CPI (M) has also hailed the decision. However, the BJP has said that there is no reason for Modi to resign and said that there is no parallel with the case of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar who were linked to anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

TIH Bureau

April 27, 2009

Bollywood star Feroz Khan passes away

Bollywood actor and director Feroz Khan who had acted in blockbusters like Qurbani and Dharmatma, died at his residence in Bangalore. He was suffering from cancer.
Khan was 70. He was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. One of the leading figures of Indian movies, Khan, who was also a producer and director, had begun his movie career in with the film Didi in 1960.

Khan, who made high-budget action movies and had a special love for animals, specially horses, is survived by sons, Fardeen and Laila. He died on late Sunday night in his hometown, Bangalore.

Feroz (also spelt Firoz) was the son of a Pathan, Sadiq Khan, who hailed from Afghanistan's Ghazni province. His mother belonged to Iran. Feroz' brothers Sanjay Khan, Akbar Khan and Samir Khan are also actors. His son Fardeen Khan is also an actor.

In early 60s, he had acted in an English movie Tarzan Goes to India opposite Simi Garewal. In 1965 he starred in Oonche Log that turned out to be a hit movie. He appeared in his last movie, Welcome, in 2007.

Khan was a leading star of Indian cinema through out the 70s and 80s. Dharmatma was inspired by The Godfather. He had also acted in movies like horror classic Nagin, Jaanbaaz, Dayavaan, Yalghaar and Janasheen.

The classy filmmaker who was known for his horses as much for his style and deliverance of dialogues in Urdu, would be buried in Bangalore on Monday, said family sources.

TIH Bureau

Youth's bid to hurl shoe at Prime Minister

An engineering student's bid to throw shoe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had gone to Ahmedabad for Congress' election campaign, stunned the security personnel.

The incident occurred in Tagore Hall on Sunday. The youth took out his show and was about to throw it when the security personnel got alarmed and rushed towards the youth to stop him.

The shoe fell much short of the stage but it caused a stir. The Prime Minister later asked the security personnel to leave the youth and not initiate any legal proceedings.

Singh is the fourth politician after BJP leader LK Advani, Congress MP Navin Jindal and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who have been targeted in a similar manner in the recent weeks.

The youth was identified as Hitesh Chauhan, 21, a resident of Bapu Nagar. He is pursuing a computer course and decided to throw the footwear to grab attention, sources said.

However, local Congress leaders claim that he was an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is an affiliated organisation of the Bharatiya Janata Party. They also criticised the state of security in Narendra Modi-ruled Gujarat.

TIH Bureau

April 25, 2009

Shourie projects Narendra Modi as future PM

Former Union minister Arun Shourie on Friday said that Narendra Modi could be projected as BJP's candidate for the post of Prime Minister after LK Advani.

Shourie said that Modi has run Gujarat efficiently and implemented all the promises he made in the party's manifesto. He suggested that Modi's name could be considered for the post after Advani.

The journalist-turned-politician said that currently Advani is the Prime Ministerial candidate but Modi can be projected after him as Gujarat has emerged as a model state in terms of governance.

Modi is seen as a hardliner outside the BJP. He was at the helm in Gujarat when the communal violence in the post-Godhra period had caused the death over 1,000 Muslims across the state.

One of his former cabinet ministers, Mayaben Kodnani, who is a practicing doctor, was recently arrested for leading mobs during the communal carnage. She is currently in the judicial custody.

While BJP's allies aren't comfortable with Modi, there are leaders within the BJP who are also opposed to the Gujarat chief minister. However, this is the first occasion that a senior BJP leader has openly termed Modi as a successor to Advani.

TIH Bureau

April 23, 2009

Maoist Menace: Naxals hijack train in Jharkhand, later release hostages

The Maoist guerillas held a passenger train hostage in Latehar district in Jharkhand.

The incident occurred on the eve of the second phase of polling though later they released the 200-odd passengers.

The train carrying nearly 700 passengers was on its way from Mughal Sarai to Barkana.

But the Naxals took control of the train in the forest areas of Hehegada. Heavily armed left-wing militants had boarded the train at Barwadih.

After the state government tried to talk to the Naxals and made attempts for negotiations, the Maoists let the train go at around 11:50 am. IThe incident of holding up a train has come as an embarrassment to the Centre.

The incident has sent shockwaves across the county. Naxalites said that it was a symbolic protest and they did not intend to harm the passengers. The Maoists were upset with a police encounter recently.

Officials claimed that Naxalites were killed in the cross-fire while local residents (and Naxals) say that ordinary villagers were shot dead in cold blood. It was to protest this incident that Naxalites seized the train.

They had given a call for bandh (strike). Though polling had been completed in this region in the first phase of election, the latest incident comes just when several regions across the country are going to polls the next day.

Besides, Palamu station was bombed on the the same day. Trucks were set afire on the Grand Trunk (GR) Road, causing the death of one person. Polling booths and school buildings were also attacked today. Earlier on April 16 Naxalites had struck at 14 places, killing 19 persons across the country.

TIH Bureau

April 22, 2009

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur assaulted in jail

Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, who is the alleged mastermind of the terrorist strike in Muslim-dominated Malegaon, was hit by a Muslim jail inmate in the prison.
Thakur, who is lodged in the Byculla prison in Mumbai, was attacked by a fellow jail inmate, Mumtaz Sheikh. Her advocate claims that Sheikh had initially abused Thakur and threatened her.

Later he threw a bowl at her. Thakur was hit in the face and received minor injuries. This was disclosed in an application that was moved in the MCOCA court on her behalf on Tuesday.

The application sought the court's approval to file a plaint in this regard. After the court granted the permission, her lawyer plans to file a complaint would be filed in the Metropolitan Court.

Thakur had become the face of Hindutva terror after her role in the bomb blast at Malegaon town in Maharashtra was unearthed last year. She is lodged in jail along with the other co-accused.

TIH Bureau

April 21, 2009

Paswan supports Lalu's stand on Babri demolition

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan has supported his coalition partner Lalu Yadav, who had recently blamed Congress for the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Paswan said that Congress could have stopped the demolition of the mosque at Ayodhya in 1992. However, the then Union government didn't act and allowed the structure to be razed.

The statement adds to increasing pressure on Congress which is trying hard to bring back the minorities back into its fold. RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who headed the portfolio of Railway ministry in the UPA government, had made the charge recently.

Yadav's statement was countered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said that it was the BJP's state government that had let the mosque destroyed. However, Congress leaders may find it tough to explain its party's role in the demolition.

In Bihar, Congress is fighting the election without its long term allies, specially the Rashtriya Janata Dal. The party is aiming to get back its old vote bank that included Muslims, Dalits and Backwards.

With the demolition of mosque again becoming an election issue, Congress leaders have now tried to counter attack with the demand to investigate the role of Lalu Yadav in the Bhagalpur riots.

TIH Bureau

April 19, 2009

Sanjay Dutt booked for offer to 'kiss & hug' Mayawati

The Uttar Pradesh police on Saturday registered a case against actor-turn-politician Sanjay Dutt for offering to kiss and hug BSP supremo Mayawati at an election rally.

Dutt, who is general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, had offered to kiss and give 'pappi' (kiss) and a 'jadu ki jhappi' (hug) to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief during the election campaign.

He was addressing a public function in Pratapgarh. The police have registered a case of obscene remarks against Dutt. Just a couple of days back he was booked for a controversial speech.

In a political rally ahead of election, Dutt had reportedly said that he was tortured in police custody because his mother was Muslim. Sanjay Dutt is the son of legendary actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis. Sunil Dutt was also an MP for Congress in later years.

In one of his movies, Dutt who played the role Munna Bhai offered the 'jadu ki jhappi', a hug, to cure patients and also take on his adversaries who underwent change of heart with the emotional embrace. But this gesture has proved costly to the actor now who often gets into controversies.

TIH Bureau

April 17, 2009

Naxal violence rocks nation: 19 killed on polling day

Left-wing extremism claimed the lives of 19 persons in the first phase of polling. Naxalites triggered blasts and shot dead security personnel in four states in the country.

The scale of Naxal violence was unprecedented and the Maoists almost threw a direct challenge to the might of the government, on the day the first phase of polling took place.

In Jharkhand's Latehar, a landmine blast hit a bus causing the death of five personnel and two passengers. The incident occurred just after voting had begun in the morning.

Polling booths were set afire, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) taken away and CRPF personnel fired at in Narayanpur and Dantewada in Naxal-infested Chhattisgarh. IED blasts were reported from several places.

The policemen exchanged fire with Naxalites and one jawan was killed. Maoist violence was reported from parts of Orissa, Bihar and Maharashtra also. As many as 124 constituencies in 17 states had gone to polls on Thursday. Nearly 60% electorate exercised their franchise.

TIH Bureau

April 16, 2009

Slipper thrown at Advani in Madhya Pradesh

A BJP worker hurled a footwear at the party's Prime Ministerial candidate LK Advani during an election meeting in Katni district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday.

The slipper missed the target but the person was immediately taken into custody and policemen took him away. He was identified as one, Pawas Agarwal, who was associated with Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of BJP.

It is not known why Agarwal chose to throw chappal at the veteran party leader. The incident comes in wake of a Sikh journalist Jarnail Singh throwing a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and later a retired teacher committing a similar act in Haryana, targeting Congress MP Navin Jindal.

There was an intelligence input that a footwear could be thrown during Advani's public function earlier in Thiruvananthapuram and the people were asked to take off their shoes. However, it occurred in Katni where Advani arrived for campaigning today. He appeared unruffled and delivered his speech without mentioning the episode.

TIH Bureau

Sonia terms Advani as RSS' slave

The UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesdy made a sharp attack on BJP leader LK Advani when she called her a slave of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The statement comes in wake of Advani's criticism of Manmohan Singh as a weak Prime Minister. Sonia said that Advani couldn't take a decision on his own and needs RSS' nod for every statement.

Reminding Advani about his remark terming MA Jinnah as a secular person, Sonia said that he had to leave the post of BJP's president after he made that pronouncement which the Sangh didn't approve of.

She said that the people knew who is a slave of RSS. Sonia was addressing a rally of the Congress in Bidar district in Karnataka. RSS is a right-wing Hindu organisation that has its headquarter in Nagpur.

Most of the BJP cadre comes from the Sangh. Advani has also been an RSS volunteer in the past. She mocked at the BJP's claims of fighting terrorism better than the Congress. Lately leaders of both parties have been trading charges against each other but this has been by far the strongest statement from Congress camp.

TIH Bureau

April 15, 2009

Hindutva outfit behind terrorist strike at Ajmer dargah

Extremist Hindu group Abhinav Bharat has been found involved in the bomb blasts that had rocked the famous Islamic sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan in the year 2007.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan police has confirmed that Abhinav Bharat that was involved in the bomb blast in the Muslim-majority Malegaon town, had also been involved with the attack on the Ajmer shrine.

Lieutenant Colonel Srikant Purohit, an army official, was arrested for planning and executing the terror attack in Ajmer. The Maharashtra ATS had arrested Purohit and his accomplices including Dayanand Pandey, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur and Abhinav Bharat leader Samir Kulkarni.

During the brain-mapping and narco-analysis tests, Purohit had reportedly confessed that Pandey was the mastermind and had planned the explosion at Ajmer Sharif Dargah. The terrorist attack had taken place on October 11, 2007.

The Rajasthan ATS chief Kapil Garg has confirmed that the investigation in the Ajmer blasts case is pointing towards the role of right-wing Hindu organisation Abhinav Bharat.

The role of Abhinav Bharat had first come to fore when Maharashtra ATS under Hemant Karkare unravelled the terror network. Karkare had later died while fighting terrorists in the attack on Mumbai.

It was suspected that terrorist strikes on Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Samjhauta Express train carrying Pakistani passengers and similar other attacks on Muslim shrines were carried out by the group.

TIH Bureau

April 14, 2009

India TV's opinion poll puts NDA ahead of UPA

While most opinion polls have suggested UPA lead over NDA, the India TV-C voter opinion poll gives NDA a slight edge over UPA with Congress and BJP getting equal seats.

The survey gives equal seats to Congress and BJP. Though NDA (189) has a slight lead over Congress-led UPA (185), the latter may be able to form government with the help of Third front and Fourth front parties.

The Third Front will together reach the figure 113 in the Lok Sabha, while Fourth Front that includes Lalu Yadav's RJD, Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP and Mulayam Singh Yadav's SP will together secure 56 seats in the Parliament.

The survey gives Congres 141 seats followed by NCSP 13, TMC 12, DMK 13, National Conference 3 and UDF 2 among other partners. Left is slated to get 33 seats followed by BSP 32 and Samajwadi Party 26.

Among the other parties the numbers are: AIADMK 24, TDP 12 JDS 2, PRP 6, RJD 16, PDP 1. The projected seats of the parties in NDS include JDU 18, Shiv Sena 12, RLD 4, SAD 5.

Though the UPA appears losing ground, the support of RJD, Samajwadi Party and other 'secular' parties can still stop LK Advani from becoming the next Prime Minister, as NDA doesn't seem to have as many allies.

So is Manmohan Singh poised to be PM again? It all depends on the numbers of Congress. Its equations will the Left and the third front after the elections will determine the composition of the Parliament.

The India TV channel aired the poll on Monday. Most of the other channels including Star TV, CNN-IBN and other channels have predicted that UPA would emerge as the biggest coalition.

TIH Bureau

April 13, 2009

Naxals attack NALCO: 11 CISF personnel killed

In one of the most deadliest attacks in Orissa, the Naxalites struck at the bauxite mine of National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) in the Koraput district on Sunday.

The CISF lost eleven commandos in the nine hour battle with the Maoists. As many as four Naxalites were killed in the encounter though the police suspected that more bodies could be recovered.

Over 200 armed Naxalites at stormed into the hill top mine, which is the biggest bauxite reserve in Asia, and had held 80 employees hostage. As many as 11 CISF jawans were killed while over a dozen were injured.

The mining work has stopped and the police are conducting search operations in the entire area. It is feared that landmines may have been laid by the left-wing extremists.

TIH Bureau

Terror strike on Kamrup Express in Assam

Hundreds of passengers aboard Kamrup Express had a narrow escape when two blasts occurred on the railway track minutes before the train was about to pass.

The two powerful bomb blasts took place on the track within a duration of 10 minutes. The entire track was blown away as a result. "A major tragedy was averted", said railway officials.

The incident occurred in Karbi Anglong district, nearly 300 km from Assam's capital Guwahati. The train was on way to Dibrugarh. As the train slowed down after blasts, the militants fired at the train. This is the third successive attack on passenger trains in Assam this week.

On April 9, a trooper was killed and 18 others injured when terrorists had attacked the Barak Valley Express in North Cachar Hills district. The next day, two seurity personnel were killed and over a dozen injured when a goods train was targeted in the same district.

The role of Dima Halim Daogah of the Jewel Garlossa faction, also known as Black Widow group was found in the earlier attacks. Ahead of Lok Sabha polls, the separatist organisations have again intensified attacks.

TIH Bureau

IT major Infosys sacks 2,100 employees

India's leading IT company Infosys Technologies that has earlier been labelled among India's best employers has fired 2,100 employees after the performance appraisal.

The company has now held that due to the ongoing economic recession, Infosys management has decided to implement zero tolerance policy for non-performers among its staff.

The decision was taken after the recent performance review. Infosys had 1,05,000 employees including over 40,000 trainees. However, the appraisal was meant for the 60,000 regular employees.

Apart from 3.5% job cuts, the variable salaries of the top executives have also been curtailed. Infosys is among India' leading software firms along with Wipro and TCS. NR Narayan Murthy had founded the IT company.

TIH Bureau

April 12, 2009

Congress promises reservation for Muslims

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that Congress would take steps to provide reservation for Muslims in government jobs as well as private sector.

Addressing the editors of Urdu newspapers, Singh said that the Congress was committed to the welfare of Muslim community and already the percentage of Muslims in paramilitary forces has gone up to 10%.

This will be taken up to 15% if we are voted to power again. Singh said that Muslims aren't getting adequate representation in banks and private section and the party has taken note of it.

He said that the manifesto promises job reservation. "We would ensure that there is a national consensus for reservation for the community and will subsequently provide for proportional reservation for Muslims in jobs".

Singh said that action would be taken against those responsible for torture innocent Muslims youths under false criminal charges by implicating them in cases of terrorism.

"We will ensure that there is no violation of human rights". If it is established that a person was framed, strict action would be taken against guilty police officers and authorities while the victims would get compensation, he added.

TIH Bureau

Priyanka hits out at Narendra Modi

Congress leaders have strongly reacted to BJP leader Narendra Modi's comments that termed Congress as a 125-year-old woman which is no longer needed.

The party has said that Modi's speech was insulting to elderly citizens. Priyanka Gandhi asked, 'Do I look old to you?'. BJP leaders may find it tough to answer to this query.

The BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate is 81-year-old LK Advani. However, in contrast to Modi's mocking aggression, Priyanka walked away with a sharp query that has hit the BJP.

Congress spokesperson has termed Modi's remark as 'perverted'. 'The BJP has an anti-woman mindset and women would not tolerate this insult', it said. The Gujarat chief minister had said that Congress was a 'budhiya' (old woman).

Congress leader Jayanthi Natarajan recalled Modi's past comments about Muslim women going out to attend nature's call and his description of riot camps as child making factories.

TIH Bureau

April 10, 2009

I was tortured, beaten up in custody: Sanjay Dutt

Bollywood star and Samajwadi Party leader Sanjay Dutt has alleged that the Mumbai police had tortured him when he was in custody in the Mumbai blasts case.

"They used to tell me that my mother (Nargis) was a Muslim and would beat me", said Dutt, addressing a rally for the Samajwadi Party candidate in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.

"Then they would say that my father (Sunil) was a Hindu and would again hit me". Dutt said that after his arrest under the TADA law, he was forced to make a confession.

He said that the police can force anybody to confess anything. Dutt went to say that if he was given power, he could also force any policeman to accept that he was the chief conspirator behind an attack like 9/11 Twin Tower destruction in America.

Dutt said that the now-defunct TADA and the POTA acts were draconian laws and victimised ordinary and poor citizens. The Mumbai police have countered the charge and said that Dutt was not subjected to harassment or torture.

Sanjay Dutt was arrested for possession an AK 56 rifle following Mumbai bomb blasts. Though he claimed innocence, he was slapped with TADA and had spent time in jail. Sanjay's father Sunil Dutt was a Congress leader and his sister Priya is now contesting in his place.

However, Sanjay had recently joined the Samajwadi Party. He intended to fight from Lucknow but a recent Supreme Court order barred him from contesting the Lok Sabha elections.

TIH Bureau

Vaiko booked for pro-LTTE statement

MDMK supremo Vaikho who had warned of bloodbath in case of any harm to LTTE chief V Prabhakaran, has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Vaiko had warned the government of serious consequences in case the Sri Lankan army offensive against Tamil Tigers leads to 'something' happening to the LTTE's top leader Prabhakaran.

The firebrand MDMK leader had went on to said that there was nothing wrong for Tamil youths to take up arms and fight in LTTE's support. He had even suggested that youths from Tamil Nadu may sneak into Sri Lanka.

His speech in Chennai that warned of blood bath in Tamil Nadu forced the police to register a case against him for inciting people to indulge in violence. Vaiko now says that his intentions were good and he wanted to warn the government.

LTTE, one of the most deadliest terrorist organisations in the world, is fighting for its survival in Sri Lanka. Though LTTE had been behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, there is support for the banned group in parts of Tamil Nadu.

TIH Bureau

April 9, 2009

Latest opinion poll gives UPA 230 seats, NDA 181

The latest Opinion poll by Triveni Media Limited and Voice of India network has predicted a hung Parliament and UPA emerging as the biggest coalition after elections.

The pre-poll survey gives 230 seats to Congress-led UPA and just 181 to the BJP's alliance. As per this opinion poll, the third front will manage 124 seats and can play kingmaker.

It says that Congress will emerge as the biggest party with 139 seats followed by BJP at the second slot with 134 seats. BSP is poised to become the third largest party with 42 MPs including 37 from Uttar Pradesh.

The polls shows that unless there is a major change the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not be able to form the government. Despite all efforts, LK Advani has managed to get just six allies and his party will suffer on account of it.

Samajwadi Party will also suffer losses and will win just 14 seats. The forecast says that based on the sample survey of voters across the states, the third front will be the biggest beneficiary.

It could dump SP and again support Congress to form the government. Other important coalition partners of Congress will be Trinamool Congress (15), NC (12), RJD (11), DMK (19), LJP (5), JMM (3) and Muslim League (2).

BJP's partners JD (U), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal will get 17, 13 and 6 seats. The role of third front and regional parties including the leftists will be crucial. TDP 16, AIADMK 14, BJD 13, JD (S) 4, Communist Party of India (CPI) 4, Forward Bloc 2, RSP 3 and TRS 4.

TV Channel Voice of India (VOI) commissioned the poll. The earlier polls had also predicted a hung Lok Sabha where no single party or coalition will reach the magic figure of 272 but UPA has been the favourite to win most seats.

TIH Bureau

April 7, 2009

ULFA Terror: Death toll in Assam blasts goes up to 10

The death toll in the serial bomb blasts that had hit Assam on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state, has gone up to 10.

No terrorist organisation has claimed the responsibility for setting off the deadly exlosions as yet. 

However, it is believed that the banned United Liberation Force of Assam (ULFA) could be responsible for the blasts.

Four blasts had occurred on Monday (April 6) causing the death of eight persons. As many as 65 persons had received injuries in the terror strikes.

The terrorists had used Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) to set off the blasts. A woman Shahida Khatun and another person Suman Dutta who were undergoing treatment in the hospital, succumbed to the injuries. The death toll in the bomb blasts has now gone up to ten.

Though Islamic fundamentalist groups are also active in the region that borders Bangladesh, the separatist ULFA that comprises mostly Hindus, has been chief involved in bomb strikes in this North Eastern state for several decades.

TIH Bureau

Sikh journalist throws shoe at Indian Home Minister

A Sikh journalist who was upset over the clean-chit to Jagdish Tytler in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, hurled his shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram in Delhi.

The journalist, Jarnail Singh, who works with Dainik Jagran, threw the shoe in Chidambaram's direction however it didn't hit the minister. Singh was arrested and taken into custody. He now faces a possible three year sentence.

Singh, a journalist with a Hindi daily, had asked a question about CBI's clean-chit to Tytler. But when Chidambaram avoided the query, Singh took off his shoe and threw it.

The Home Minister asked the staff to take the scribe away but directed them to treat him gently. Chidambaram later said that he had fogiven Singh. He also asked the other journalists to not let the incident hijack the entire press conference.

The Congress party has issued a statement pardoning the journalist. The incident has come barely months after Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Al Zaidi had flung his shoe at US president George W Bush during the latter's visit to Iraq.

TIH Bureau

April 6, 2009

Shahrukh Khan snubs Sunil Gavaskar over latter's comments on KKR

Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan on Sunday lashed out at cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar for his comments on Khan's cricket team in the forthcoming Indian Premiere League (IPL).

Khan was upset over Gavaskar's criticism of the set up of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team particularly the comment about having multiple captains. 'King' Khan is a co-owner of the team.

In a newspaper column in Hindustan Times, the former Indian cricket captain had flayed the multi-captain plan of Australian John Buchanan. He had termed Buchanan a failed cricketer.

Though Khan said that he had immense respect for Gavaskar and had enjoyed his game, the Bollywood star said that T20 was a different game and Gavaskar had never played it in his career.

TIH Bureau

April 5, 2009

Omar Abdullah takes BJP to task over Article 370, condemns demands to abrogate it

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, has said that the BJP's promise of abrogating Article 370, which grants special status to the state, is a farce.

Responding to queries about the BJP's poll promise, Abdullah said that it was not possible for the BJP to take such a step. He said that the BJP doesn't have the powers to revoke the Article and that it has been misleading electorate on the issue.

It is a constitutional guarantee and any such attempt would affect the relations between Sri Nagar and New Delhi, said the National Conference (NC). The party has issued a statement and said that it is not easy to abolish the Article.

The Conference termed BJP's promise as 'outrageous' and against the interest of the country and also the state of J&K. Abrogating the Article 370 of Indian constitution has been among the major planks of BJP along with construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya and Uniform (Common) Civil Code.

TIH Bureau

April 3, 2009

CBI to prosecute Sajjan Kumar, clean chit to Tytler

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday gave a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, who was an accused in the anti-Sikh riots case of 1984.

Tytler got the reprieve because the CBI found the witness who had frequently changed his statement as unreliable. However, the charges would be framed against the other Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.

Tytler, who was born to a Sikh mother and also raised as a Sikh, was an accused in the riots. He is the Congress candidate from North East Delhi. But the CBI today exonerated him due to lack of sufficient evidence and unreliable witness.

The CBI today hinted that it had sufficient evidence to prosecute Sajjan Kumar, who is the Congress candidate from South Delhi. The Nanavati Commission had held that two leaders had a role in leading the riotous mobs.

Over 3,000 Sikhs were murdered and set afire in the mob violence in Delhi after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards in 1984. The cases were reopened following Centre's directive.

TIH Bureau

Akshay Kumar unzips at Lakme fashion show

Actor Akshay Kumar's daredevil act of asking his wife Twinkle Khanna to unzip his jeans in a fashion show, causing outrage among the audience.

The Bollywood film star almost forced his wife to unbutton him at the Lakme Fashion Week function in Mumbai. Though Akshay was unveiling the 'Unbuttoned' brand of Levi's Jeans of which he is ambassador, the act surprised the audiences.

The cameras also captured the act, which was described by many as 'shocking'. A Mumbai-resident has filed a complaint with the police and sought an FIR against Kumar for the indecent act.

The police said that they were examining whether a wife unzipping her husband can be termed an offence. "We have to make sure that it was obscene act and the case is strong enough to stand in a court of law", said a police officer.

Though the actor later said that he sought apology from anybody who felt hurt by his act, the complainant Anil Nair said that it doesn't behove an actor like Kumar to publicly commit such a vulgar act.

TIH Bureau

April 1, 2009

SC judgment on student's beard shocks Muslims

The Apex Court's judgment rejecting a schoolboy's plea to be allowed to keep beard has shocked Muslims who feel that comments on Talibanisation were unwarranted.

Mohammad Salim, a student of Nirmala Convent school in Sironj town in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh), had approached the court after the school expelled him for keeping a beard. The boy's counsel held that there was no clause prohibiting a beard earlier.

After the High Court dismissed the plea, Salim's lawyer filed a case in the Supreme Court. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the student's plea. Justice Markandeya Katju held that secularism can't be overstretched.

'We don't want to have Talibans in this country', remarked the Judge who asserted that he was a secularist but held that there should be a balance between rights and personal beliefs. Salim is the son of a vegetable vendor. Retired Judge BA Khan had pleaded on his behalf.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Ahmad Bukhari said that linking Talibanisation with beard is unfortunate as Talibans are a creation of America. "Had the government banned the Sikhs from keeping beard and carrying Kirpan weapon when the terrorism was at its peak in Punjab in the 80s", questioned Bukhari.

Regretting the comment, Maulana Mahmood Madani of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has said that it was justice Katju's personal observation and said that if beard symbolised Talibanisation, then the community is prepared to strive for our legal and religious rights.

The Imam of Fatehpuri Mosque Mufti Mukarram said that the Centre should have clarified its position on beard, as already there is a confusion on the issue. Perhaps, the court may have not given such a verdict had the government made its position clearer.

Meanwhile, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan has said that sporting a beard is the fundamental right of Muslims and has urged the missionary school to give a concession to student and allow him to study without compromising his faith.

Urdu newspapers have expressed shock at the development. "The court could have dismissed the student's plea but adding the remarks which equate every bearded Muslim as Taliban was unnecessary", wrote a Delhi-based newspaper.

Some Muslim organisations are planning to file an appeal. The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawart has expressed its deep concern over the issue. The opinion was bizarre and uncalled for, said Zafarul Islam Khan.

TIH Bureau

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