Ajit Parsanis is new Director General of Police, Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Government today appointed Mr Ajit Parsanis as the new Director General of Police (DGP) and Arup Patnaik as the Mumbai Police Commissioner, replacing Sanjeev Dayal.

Mr D Shivanandan retired today as DGP and was reluctant for an extension in service.

The State Home Department appointed 59-year-old Mr Parsanis to the top job, sources in the Home department said.

He is the senior most Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in the state followed by K Subramaniam, DG (Anti Corruption Bureau) and Pankaj Gupta, Additional DG (Planning and Co-ordination).

Additional Director General Patnaik (Highway Traffic) of the 1979 IPS batch will replace Mr Dayal.


Police stop Shahid Kapoor's b'day celebrations for crossing deadline

Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor's 30th birthday celebrations were stopped by police at a Bandra pub here after he was found entertaining guests beyond the 0130 hrs deadline, police said today.

After receiving complaints from local residents that loud music was being played at the pub, police reached the place and stopped the music and eventually the celebrations yesterday.

The pub manager was fined Rs 5,000 for keeping the bar open beyond the 0130 hrs deadline, police said.

The actor's film industry friends and close associates were present at the party, sources added.


CBI files case against two former top officials of Mumbai Port Trust

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it had registered a case against two former senior officials of the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and others for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 6.63 crore.

The case, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, was filed against then MbPT Deputy Chairman Ashok Kumar and former Traffic Manager V Ranganath and others, a CBI press release said here today.

"It was alleged that the public servants of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPt) entered into criminal conspiracy along with others with an intention to cause wrongful pecuniary loss to the MbPT in the matter of allotment of sheds for use by a Mumbai-based private firm under casual occupancy instead of the applicable Scale of Rates (SOR).

"In furtherance of the criminal conspiracy, the accused officials further waived the demurrage charges without proper approval from the competent authority for their wrongful pecuniary gains.The accused fraudulently allotted the sheds A, K, L, and N of MbPT to the Mumbai-based private firm under general bye laws without adopting the proper procedure," the release said.

The release alleged the officials had, during 2008, also allowed the delivery of cargo stores beyond permissible limits without levying of the applicable demurrage charges and without sanction from the competent authority, thereby causing wrongful loss of Rs.6.63 crores to the government and a corresponding wrongful gain to the private firm.

It said searches were conducted at the residences and office premises of the officials and the private firm, which led to the recovery of incriminating documents.


26/11: Kasab to appeal against conviction in apex court

Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab, whose death sentence was confirmed by the Bombay High court for his role in the November 26, 2008 terror attack in the metropolis, today expressed inclination to appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Kasab's lawyer Farhana Shah met him in the high security cell in Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai this afternoon in the presence of police personnel.

"Kasab wants to appeal in the Supreme Court against the verdict," the lawyer said.

"He was looking weak and did not talk much," Farhana said after a ten- minute meeting.

The High Court on Monday had upheld the death sentence for Kasab by a trial court. Kasab has 30 days to appeal against the High Court verdict in the apex court. If the court upholds the death penalty, he can file a mercy petition to the President. The petition will then come up for hearing as per the serial order.


Fire Dept gives go-ahead for World Cup matches at Wankhede

Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials breathed a huge sigh of relief after the fire department finally gave an all-clear signal to host the World Cup matches at the newly-renovated Wankhede stadium here today.

The city fire brigade officials had earlier raised doubts about the safety arrangements at the revamped Wankhede stadium, which is scheduled to hold the final of the mega event on April 2, besides a couple of other games.

Fire department officials yesterday conducted another round of inspection at the stadium and said some progress had been made.

"There are some irregularities but not major ones like putting up extinguishers, and so on. They are complying with the norms...the work is on," deputy chief fire officer A N Shinde, who inspected the stadium with his team, told reporters here.

The fire brigade had last week, after inspection, expressed displeasure at the non-compliance of fire safety norms at the stadium. The department had also written a letter to MCA listing the irregularities.

"We had sought reply from the MCA regarding compliance of fire safety norms in the stadium. The reply is expected within two or three days," chief fire officer Uday Tatkare said.

"There are irregularities at the stadium including sprinklers at the stands and ventilation problem in the basement. We have given them the lapses in writing," Mr Tatkare said.

Meanwhile, the MCA has pulled up its socks and begun work to comply with the requisite norms.

"The fire department has given us in writing about the irregularities at the stadium. Work is in progress and once we are done, a team of fire officials would inspect the work after which we would get a compliance certificate," MCA joint secretary Lalchand Rajput had said.

Addressing a news conference on Sunday, MCA treasurer and World Cup tournament director Ratnakar Shetty allayed fears about safety norms at the stadium, and said security would not be compromised while staging matches at the venue.

"When we build a stadium, we take care of each and every person who will come to the stadium. And there would be no compromises in anything required by the government or any agencies," Shetty had told reporters, who were taken around the renovated stadium.

"Every permission that is required will be obtained and without that you cannot have a stadium. But getting a permission is a procedure. It does not happen that you go to a counter and say now give me a no objection certificate (NOC). There is a procedure which is followed and permissions are taken in a sequence."

"Rest assured, all permissions will be in hand, all things required from the fire department and the NOC. What is required is the compliance at the new areas like the basement at the north stand," Prof Shetty had stated.


26/11: Death penalty for Kasab confirmed by Bombay HC

File photo of Ajmal Kasab during a court hearing in the 26/11 case.
File photo of Ajmal Kasab during a court hearing in the 26/11 case.

The Bombay High Court today confirmed the death penalty awarded to lone captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab for his involvement in the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The court also upheld the lower court's order acquitting two Indian co-accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, facing charges of aiding in commission of the crime.

The court, while confirming the state plea seeking confirmation of death to Kasab, rejected his plea praying to convert his death penalty to life sentence.

A division bench comprising Justices Ranjana Desai and R V More, in its operative order, agreed with the submission made by the prosecution that it was the rarest of rare cases.

The court held that the only mitigating circumstances favouring Kasab was that he has not attained the age of majority. There was plenty of evidence against Kasab. Hence, the court confirmed the lower court's verdict which had awarded death penalty to Kasab.

Kasab, who appeared through video link in the court, was smiling after Justice Desai explained the order stating that the death sentence awarded to him by the lower court has been confirmed by the court.

During the arguments, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam termed the attack as an "act of state-sponsored terrorism", executed by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) with the aid of Pakistan's security establishment.

The thrust of Mr Nikam's arguments was that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan with an express intention to destabilise India, wage war against the country, terrorise its citizens, create financial losses and issue a warning to nations whose people were targeted in the attacks.

Justifying the death sentence to Kasab, Mr Nikam said the strikes were the outcome of a single conspiracy hatched by LeT.

Kasab and his accomplices were instructed by LeT handlers on telephone to hold as many hostages as possible to demand from the Indian Government the "liberation of Kashmir and creation of a separate state for Muslims", Mr Nikam contended in support of the charge of "waging war against the nation".

"With this objective in mind, Kasab and his teammate Abu Ismael had headed towards Malabar Hill area, where VIPs such as High Court judges, Ministers and Governor reside, to hold VIPs as hostages to fulfil their demands," he added.

Mr Nikam argued that the trial court had erred in partially accepting the confession of Kasab made before a magistrate, which should have been accepted in toto. Kasab's act of retracting his confession was an "after-thought" and "well-advised".

In the appeal, Kasab argued police had staged a false encounter at Girgaum Chowpatty on November 26, 2008, to implicate him in the crime. He even denied having killed Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, IPS officer Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar during the attack.

Kasab's lawyer Amin Solkar relied on the observation of trial court that bullets recovered from bodies of Karkare and Salaskar did not tally with weapons of Kasab and Ismael although bullets in Kamte's body matched with Ismael's rifle.

Kasab appeared in the High Court on screen through video conference only on a few occasions. Once he spat at the camera and told the Judges that he wanted to be tried in a United States court. However, he did not elaborate.

The High Court twice viewed the CCTV footage showing Kasab and his companions in terror acts.

Alleging that police had suppressed material evidence about CCTV footages to nail Kasab, Mr Solkar said some CCTVs installed at the Chhattrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station had captured two terrorists attacking people but only one footage was shown to the court while the rest was "suppressed for reasons best known to prosecution".

Even this footage did not show the faces of Kasab and his partner clearly, Mr Solkar argued.

Mr Solkar claimed Kasab was not among the two terrorists who attacked CST and his photographs produced by the prosecution to substantiate the charge were morphed.

Terming Kasab's trial as "unfair", he demanded a fresh trial claiming that important witnesses were not examined, material evidence was suppressed and norms were not followed in appointing lawyers to defend him.

Kasab disputed the prosecution's story that he had landed along with nine others in a dinghy at Badhwar Park on the day of the attack, saying that the evidence was concocted to frame him in the 26/11 case. The dinghy was so small that it could not have accommodated 10 people along with their baggage, he claimed.

Kasab said he had come from Pakistan much before November 26, 2008 by Samjhauta Express to Delhi and later arrived in Mumbai to watch Hindi films. He was arrested at the Juhu beach and was in custody when the attacks took place.


Woman commits suicide in Mumbai

A 63-year-old woman allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling fan at her Fort residence in South Mumbai.

Police today said that Malaben Patel took the extreme step last evening when the family members were away at work.

Her family said Malaben had been suffering from some ailment and could have ended her life because of the suffering.

Malaben's body was taken to St George hospital for post-mortem examination, police said, adding that investigations were underway in the case.


40 bar girls arrested iduring raids in Mumbai

 At least 40 girls working in two bars, illegally functioning as dance bars, were arrested by police after raids late last night in the city.

Officials of the Social Security wing of Mumbai police conducted raids at Lotus bar at Grant Road in South Mumbai and picked up 15 girls dancing there.

In the second raid at Velocity bar in Ghatkopar, 26 girls were arrested. The manager of both the bars were arrested, police said.

Under the rules, dancing has been prohibited in bars and girls are not allowed to work beyond 2130 hrs.

State Home Minister R R Patil had issued a warning to the police department yesterday, saying tough action would be taken against police officers, who would allow illegal dance bars to operate in their jurisdiction.

Maharashtra Govt stymies Tendulkar's plan of building gym in new house

India's cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar, who wanted to have a gymnasium in his new under-construction home in suburban Bandra, has been stumped out by the Maharashtra government.

The architectural firm, in charge of Tendulkar's house, had requested the Urban Development Department (UDD) to allow theconstruction of the gym free of Floor Space Index (FSI) on the top floor of the four-storey building at Perry Cross Road.

However, the UDD is not in favour of the proposal as the FSI approved for the 8,998 sq ft plot is one, which means the constructed area cannot exceed the plot area. FSI is the ratio between the built-up area and the plot area.

"The construction has already consumed its full FSI and it also falls under CRZ rule 1967 of zone II, since the house was purchased in 2008," a source from the UDD said.

Also, under the Development Control (DC) rules, only cooperative societies are given additional FSI for a gymnasium but this is an individual's property and hence it is not possible to permit more FSI, the source said.

The UDD has moved the file of the request, with negative remarks, to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is also the Minister of the Department, for a final decision.

Tendulkar's grand house will have a huge parking area, spacious guest rooms and a swimming pool on the top floor.

After reconstruction, it will have 10 rooms. The ground floor will have three rooms plus parking facilities, the first floor will have two large guest rooms, the bedroom and the children's rooms will be on the second and third floors respectively, while the fourth floor will boast of a swimming pool.

The house, which was built in 1920 and owned by a Parsi family, was purchased by Tendulkar for Rs 39 crore in 2008.


Hasan Ali Khan quizzed by I-T officials in Mumbai

Pune-based real estate consultant and stud farm owner Hasan Ali was today grilled by the officials of Income-Tax department for allegedl evasion of taxes running into crores of rupees.

Confirming the news, the sources in the I-T department said Ali came to their Mumbai office in the morning, where he was questioned by the officials till late evening. They, however, declined to give further information as the investigation is going on.

The I-T department had earlier sent a show-cause notice on December 31, 2008, to Khan, demanding Rs 40,000 crore in taxes from him for not disclosing funds in several foreign bank accounts, including $ 8 billion in an account in the Zurich branch of UBS. However, the UBS Bank recently denied any business relationship with Khan.

Prior to that, in January 2007, the I-T department had raided Khan's residence at Koregaon Park in Pune and had seized documents that allegedly showed that he had $ 8.04 billion in a UBS account in Zurich.

The raid followed reports that Khan had allegedly concealed his income and not filed income tax returns since 1999. The department had also raided his properties in Mumbai and Hyderabad.


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan asked to appear before DRI, Mumbai

Noted Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was earlier detained at Indira Gandhi International (IGI)airport in New Delhi for questioning following the recovery of $ 124,000 from his possession, was today summoned by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Mumbai for further questioning.

According to official sources, the singer will be asked several questions regarding the seizure of the amount.

The DRI officials had earlier questioned the singer for more than 24 hours over the recovery of the undeclared foreign currency, much beyond the permissible limit of $ 10,000 as the singer was on his way to Dubai along with his troupe.

The singer, who carries forward the legacy of his uncle and famous Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, was intercepted at the airport along with his manager Maroof and his event manager.

The authorities had found $ 50,000 from Rahat's check-in baggage and $ 25,000 from his hand baggage. He was also carrying Rs 60,000 in Pakistani currency, while his manager was caught carrying $ 50,000. Two bank drafts worth around $ 18,000 were also seized.

Rahat claimed that the money was remuneration for his performances in India since February 2.

Prima facie, an offence under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and Customs Act was made out against Rahat and he was quizzed extensively. But, at the same time, the DRI was trying to ascertain whether he was merely ignorant of currency laws or there was complicity.

The investigating agency probed whether the recovered money was accounted for. The DRI also looked into Rahat's passport details and performance agreement papers. They also tried to ascertain whether he had flown out with large amounts of cash in the past as well.


Himanshu Rewani of IIM Calcutta wins Traders Trophy India 2011

IIM Kolkata student, Himanshu Rewani, wins Traders Trophy India 2011
IIM Kolkata student, Himanshu Rewani, wins Traders Trophy India 2011

Himanshu Rewani, a student of the Indian Institute of Managment (IIM) Calcutta, has won the Traders Trophy India 2011, which is part of the globally renowned competition Traders Trophy Worldwide, arranged by Oxyor.

The 2011 Traders Trophy India event was presented by Religare Capital Market in partnership with the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE).

The qualification rounds of the competition were held at IIMs in Kolkata, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. The best 10 student traders from the qualification rounds at each of these centres took part in the finals held at the National Stock Exchange in Mumbai.

Rewani has qualified for the world final to be held in Amsterdam in May 2011 with winners from 15 other countries, a press release from the organisers said here today.


Three killed, one injured in fire at Tata Group headquarters in Mumbai

Three people were killed and another suffered serious injuries in a fire that broke out in the basement of Bombay House, the headquarters of the Tata Group, in Mumbai's main business district.

The fire, which broke out around 9.30 am, was brought under control by eight fire tenders and four water tankers which were rushed to the spot. The building was evacuated.

Four people were pulled out by the rescue teams from the basement and rushed to the St George Hospital, where three were declared dead due to suffocation.

The three victims were identified by a Tata Sons spokesperson as Farad Wadia, Eashwar Patel and Shashank Pawar.

The spokesperson said relief was being organised for the bereaved families.

"The authorities are investigating the cause of the incident. The Tata group is fully cooperating in the investigations," the spokesperson added.


CBI gets 2-day transit remand of Balwa in 2G spectrum case

A court here today gave the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) two-day transit remand of DB Realty Ltd Managing Director Shahid Balwa, who was arrested by the investigating agency last night in connection with its probe into the alleged 2G spectrum scam.

Mr Balwa, who was arrested from his residence in the western suburb of Bandra, was produced before Additional Sessions Judge S C Chandak this morning. He was expected to be taken to New Delhi later today for further questioning in the case.

Before he was produced in court, Mr Balwa was taken to the St George Hospital for a routine medical examination.

According to a UNI report, Mr Balwa is suspected of investing in various front companies on behalf of former Communications Minister A Raja and some of his aides.

DB Realty and Etisalat had taken over Swan Telecom, one of the companies that got a 2G license by allegedly presenting pre-dated drafts when Mr Raja suddenly changed the criteria for granting license.

Mr Balwa had been summoned twice by the CBI but was arrested after he allegedly refused to make himself available for questioning.

Mr Raja allegedly helped Swan bag 2G licences for 13 circles, including Mumbai and Delhi, for Rs 1,537 crore but Swan sold 45 per cent shares to the UAE telecom giant Etisalat for approximately Rs 4,500 crore within months of bagging the spectrum.

Mr Balwa is the fourth person to be arrested by the CBI in the 2G spectrum case after Mr Raja, his former private secretary R K Chandolia and former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura.

Meanwhile, DB Realty said in a press release that Mr Balwa had been wrongly implicated in the investigations pertaining to the grant of 2G licenses.

"We reiterate that neither Mr Balwa nor any person/entity forming part of the DB Group has done anything inappropriate or illegal. Mr Balwa will be strongly contesting the proceedings. He has immense faith in our judiciary and judicial system and is confident that ultimately the truth will prevail and Mr Balwa will stand vindicated," it said.

"We would also like to state that these developments will not affect the functioning of DB Realty Limited in any manner whatsoever. DB Realty Limited will continue its business in the normal course under Managing Director Vinod Goenka along with the top tier team under the guidance of its Board. We assure all our stakeholders that their interest in the company will be protected," it said.

The release said DB Realty was a strongly capitalised company with a net worth of Rs 3210 crores as of December 31, 2010. It said the company had enough resources to continue with all its projects under construction.


Justice Joseph Francis appointed Judge of Kerala High Court

The President has appointed Mr Justice Madathiparambil Lonappan Joseph Francis, Additional Judge of the Kerala High Court, as a Judge of the Kerala High Court with effect from February 11, 2011.

The President has also appointed Mr Pramod Dattaram Kode, Mr Umesh Dattatraya Salvi, Mr Shrihari Purushottam Davare, Mr Anil Ramchandra Joshi, Ms Mridula Ramesh Bhatkar, and Mr Anand Vasantrao Potdar, as Additional Judges of the Bombay High Court for a period of one year with effect from February 10, 2011 in that order of seniority.

Similarly, Mr Filomeno Manuel Lopo Sales Rosario Dos Reis, Mr Rajesh Govind Ketkar, and Mr Ravi Krishnaro Deshpande have been appointed as Additional Judges of the Bombay High Court for a period of one year with effect from March 26, 2011 in that order of seniority, an official press release added.


Two die in road mishap in Mumbai

A city contractor and his girlfriend were killed after their motorcycle crashed into a tree at Malwani in the western suburbs, police said today.

The mishap occurred last evening when the contractor, Abhishek Mahajan, (23), lost control over the vehicle and it hit a tree near INS Hamla, police said.

Isha Maria (20), a student, who was on an outing with him, died on the spot. Both the bodies had been sent for post-mortem examination at a Borivali centre, the police added.


Bombay HC fixes Feb 21 for final verdict on death penalty to Kasab

CBI Public Prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam talking to media persons outside the Bombay High Court in Mumbai on February 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO
CBI Public Prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam talking to media persons outside the Bombay High Court in Mumbai on February 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO

The Bombay High Court today fixed February 21 as the date for delivering its final verdict on the confirmation plea of Maharashtra goverment over the death penalty awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab by a designated court here for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

On the same day, the court will also deliver its verdict on the state plea challenging the aquittal by a lower court of two suspected Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) operatives, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, for lack of evidence.

A division bench consisting of Justices Ranjana Desai and R V More, which had reserved its order till today, after hearing arguments for three months by the defence and prosecution.

The prosecution urged the court to confirm the sentence to Kasab, while defence prayed that the death sentence by convertd into life imprisonment.

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam justified the death sentence awarded to Kasab and urged for its confirmation, saying that he had committed a heinous crime by participating in terror strikes in which 166 persons were killed.

Kasab's defence claimed there were loopholes in the trial and alleged that some important witnesses had not been examined to seek a fresh trial, which was rejected by the court.

Kasab, in his appeal, against his conviction and the death sentence, denied that he had come from Pakistan along with other terrorists in a boat. He said he had come by the Samjhauta Express train to Delhi and later come to Mumbai to see Hindi films. He claimed he had been arrested at Juhu beach and was was in police custody when the November 26, 2008 terror attacks took place.

About Faheem and Sabauddin, both Indian citizens, the state had argued that the trial court had erred in acquitting them. Faheem had got a passport from Pakistan on the basis of fake documents and both were involved in preparing maps for the terrorist attacks, it said.

The defence for both denied their clients had any role in the 26/11 attacks and submitted that holding forged Pakistani passport did not prove Faheem's role in the attacks.

On May 6 last year, the trial court had given capital punishment to Kasab but acquitted Faheem and Sabauddin on the ground that evidence against them was doubtful.


Bombay HC to deliver order on Kasab's death penalty tomorrow

After hearing arguments for three months, the Bombay High Court will tomorrow deliver its order on the appeal filed by Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab against the death sentence awarded to him for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

A division bench consisting of Justices Ranjana Desai and R V More will also pass an order on an appeal filed by the Maharashtra government challenging the acquittal of LeT suspects Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who were charged with providing maps of targets to terrorists.

The arguments concluded few weeks back after which the court reserved judgement till tomorrow.

For the first time, a video conference link was put up in the high court for hearing appeals. Cameras were installed in the court to enable Kasab hear the proceedings from the jail.

Government counsel Ujjwal Nikam justified the death sentence awarded to Kasab and urged for its confirmation, saying that he had committed a heinous crime by participating in terror strikes in which 166 people were killed.

During the hearing, Nikam displayed photographs of Kasab and slain terrorist Abu Ismael, which showed them indulging in terror acts in and outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). The pictures had been clicked by two media photographers. He also showed the court the CCTV footages from cameras installed at CST, showing Kasab and Ismail moving around with rifles.

Nikam argued that the court had erred in partially accepting Kasab's confession before a magistrate. It had to be accepted in toto and not partially. Kasab's act of retracting his confession in the trial court was an "after-thought" and "well advised", argued Nikam.

Kasab also denied his presence at CST when the incident occurred. His lawyers Amin Solkar and Farhan Shah argued that CCTV footages did not show Kasab's face clearly. They alleged that some footage was shown and others were "suppressed" by the prosecution to implicate Kasab.

About the photographs of Kasab in terror acts, his lawyers argued that they were morphed. They said the trial was "unfair" and demanded a retrial.

The defence also alleged that some important witnesses had not been examined. However, the high court rejected their plea for a fresh trial.

The lawyers referred to the trial court's observation which said that bullets recovered from bodies of Karkare and Salaskar did not match with Kasab's rifle although bullets in Kamate's body tallied with Ismail's weapon.

Kasab denied that he had come from Pakistan along with other terrorists in a dinghy. He said he had come by Samjhauta Express to Delhi and later went to Mumbai to see Hindi films. He was arrested at Juhu beach and was in police custody when the terror attacks took place.

About Faheem and Sabauddin, both Indian citizens, Nikam said the trial court had erred in acquitting them. Faheem had got a passport from Pakistan on the basis of fake documents.

He said Faheem, who had gone to Pakistan and at the behest of LeT, drew maps of targets and gave it to Sabauddin in Nepal. Sabauddin then passed them on to LeT. Nikam showed the passport to the court which had an entry of Faheem's visit from Pakistan to Nepal.

Faheem's lawyer R B Mokashi denied his client's role in the 26/11 attacks. He said holding forged Pakistani passport did not prove Faheem's role in the attacks. He said the map found in slain terrorist Abu Ismael's pocket (claimed by prosecution as drawn by Faheem) was "planted".

Sabauddin's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said Sabauddin had not met Faheem in Nepal. The prosecution had produced only one witness to prove that Faheem gave map to Sabauddin but did not provide any corroborative evidence, he argued and said the trial court had rightly given the benefit of doubt to both the accused.

On May 6, the trial court had given capital punishment to Kasab but acquitted Faheem and Sabauddin on the ground that evidence against them was doubtful.

The prosecution had alleged that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan by LeT on whose instructions Kasab and nine others sailed from Karachi in the boat "Al-Hussaini". Mid-way they hijacked fishing trawler Kuber and killed its navigator Amarsinh Solanki and four other crew members before reaching Mumbai in a dinghy brought by them from Pakistan.


Precious metals bounce back on fresh demand from ornament makers

After a two-day downslide, precious metals bounced back today with silver registering a whopping gain of 705 per kg to Rs 44,690, a two-week-high, and gold advanced by Rs 240 per ten gm to Rs 20,065 on fresh demand from ornament makers coupled with strong global cues, traders at the Bombay Bullion Association (BBA) said.

In the opening session, silver advanced by Rs 725 per kg, but later it slightly weakened from the opening level to end strong at Rs 44,690, up by Rs 705 from its previous close.

Standard and pure varieties of gold moved up by Rs 285 and Rs 290 per ten gm, respectively, in the opening session.

At the end of the day, standard and pure gold finished at Rs 20,065 and Rs 20,165 per ten gm respectively.

The preciouse metals glittered on brisk buying support by stockists and retailers for the ongoing marriage season and firm global trend, dealers said.

In international markets like London, Silver rose to $ 28.95 an ounce and gold to $ 1,350 an ounce.

Following were the closing rates of spot silver and gold:

Silver (per kg).999 grade Rs 44,690 (43,985)

Gold 99.5 standard mint Rs 20,065 (19,825)

Gold 99.9 pure gold Rs 20,165 (19,925)


Sensex crashes by 441.16 points to 18,008.15

Erasing gains of the last two days, the Sensex of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) today nosedived by 441.16 points to settle at 18,008.15, a five-month-low, on profit booking at higer levels from local operators despite strong Asian market.

The Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was down by 131 points to finish at 5,395.75.

The Sensex had gained by 427.09 pts and Nifty by 109.55 pts in the last two days.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today stressed the need for tackling inflation with "great urgency", and said it presented a serious threat to India's growth momentum. There are concerns that high inflation will trigger more monetary tightening from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) this year. A recent surge in crude oil prices amid unrest in Egypt could add to inflationary pressures, brokers said.

Though the market opened on a positive note, it went into the red amid choppy trade. The indices which were badly affected were Realty, FMCG, TECK, IT and Bankex sectors. Heavy selling in late trade pulled the key benchmark indices to their lowest level in five months.

High volatilty was witnessed as the Sensex registered the day's high at 18,542.20 pts, up by 92.89 pts and low at 17,926.98 pts, down by 522.33 pts.

The shares that plummeted were Mahindra and Mahindra (M & M) by 5.31 per cent, followed by ITC, Rel Infra, Tata power, Hindalco Industries, L & T and ICICI Bank.

Power shares saw across the board decline on selling pressure with Reliance Infrastructure and Tata Power hitting 52-week lows. Telecom major Reliance Communications closed at 2.80 pc to rs 114.75.

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) bought shares worth a net Rs 538.71 crore and domestic institutional investors sold shares worth Rs 45.45 crore yesterday, as per the provisional data from the stock exchanges.

Asian markets were higher today with Japanese stocks leading the way. Markets in China and Hong Kong were shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

The market breadth was weak. On BSE, 2,020 shares declined while 903 shares advanced. A total of 91 shares remained unchanged and the total turnover on the BSE was Rs 3659 crore.


Defence Ministry orders inquiry into INS Vindhyagiri-M V Nordlake collision

The Ministry of Defence today said an inquiry was being ordered into the collision between Naval warship INS Vindhyagiri and a Cyprus-flagged container ship M V Nordlake off Mumbai yesterday afternoon.

The collision occurred at about 1630 hours yesterday as Vindhyagiri, a Leander class frigate, was entering the harbour and proceeding at slow speed. Nordlake, which was leaving the harbour, collided with the Naval ship, an official press release said here.

According to it, the collision led to fire and flooding onboard INS Vindhyagiri. INS Vindhyagiri was thereafter safely berthed alongside in the Naval harbour.

Ammunition on board was cleared and all efforts were made to contain the fire and flooding onboard, the release said.

Concurrently, necessary measures have also been taken to prevent any spillage of oil from the ship. Other naval operations and commercial operations in Mumbai port have not been affected. No casualities have been reported, the release said.

A first information report (FIR) has been lodged with the Mumbai Police and Nordlake was held back in the Mumbai harobour. Vindhyagiri, commissioned in July 1981, was fully operational, the release added.

The warship was returning from an outing in the sea for families of naval personnel and some civilians, when the mishap occurred, a report from Mumbai added.


CBI raids residence of Gidwani and Adarsh office early today

Continuing with searches on the premises of the accused in the Adarsh Housing Society case, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) today raided the office of the society and the residence of one of the promoters Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, a former Congress MLC.

According to sources, a team of CBI officials raided the Adarsh Society office and Gidwani's house at around 0600 hours and seized various documents and grilled Gidwani for more than two hours.

Yesterday, CBI conducted raids on offices and premises of four of the accused. Among those raided were chief promoters of Adarsh R C Thakur and Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, former major general M M Wanchoo, who is president of the society, and Ramanand Tiwari, former principal secretary of the state Urban Development department.

The society has been accused of violating environmental norms and of getting the land on the promise that houses would be built for war widows and veterans. However, most of the houses were allotted to politicians, bureaucrats and senior Army and Navy officers.


Prime accused in Sonawane murder case is dead

Popat Shinde, the prime accused in the murder of Malegaon Additional Collector Yashwant Sonawane, died at the J J Hospital here today.

He was admitted to the hospital with serious burn injuries after Sonawane caught hold of him when he was set ablaze by members of the oil adulteration mafia at Manmad on January 25.

The accused was rushed to the hospital for treatment and was lodged in the prison ward of the hospital.

His family members were at his bedside when he breathed his last at about 13OO hrs. His son alleged that the hospital had not given him proper treatment and demanded a probe into his death. However, hospital authorities refuted his statement.

According to the police, Shinde was among the people who allegedly poured kerosene over Sonawane when he tried to take photographs of kerosene being stolen from an oil tanker.

Police sources said that Shinde had been working for the oil mafia for nearly 30 years. Once a roadside snack seller, he befriended truck drivers who operate at the massive oil depots in Manmad.


Inquiry ordered into INS Vindhyagiri-M V Nordlake collision

Director-General of Shipping S B Agnihotri today ordered an inquiry into the collision between a Naval warship, "INS Vindhyagiri", with a Cyprus container ship "M V Nordlake" off the Mumbai harbour last evening, official sources said.

The collision occurred when the warship was entering the harbour and it dashed with the merchant vessel near Sunrock lighthouse.

There was no oil spill or casualties, sources said. There was no threat to the navigational channel, they added.

The warship had on board families of naval personnel and some civilians, who had gone on a sea tour.

INS Vindhyagiri suffered a crack in its hull and was brought to the Naval dockyard, the sources said.


Two die in explosion in chemical unit in Thane district

Two people were killed and another person was seriously injured in an explosion in a chemical plant in Kudus village in Wada taluka of Thane district of Maharashtra, police said today.

The blast occurred on Sunday afternoon, police said.

The deceased were identified as Dhananjay Patil (50), the manager, and Sanjay Palshikar (28), lab-in-charge.

Another worker Ravindra Gaikar (35), who received severe burn injuries, was rushed to a local hospital.

The cause of the explosion is yet to be ascertained and investigations were on, police added.


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