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President expresses grief over Sabarimala tragedy

President Pratibha Patil today expressed her profound grief over the tragedy in Sabarimala in Kerala which left 102 people dead and over 40 injured.


In a message, the President wished speedy recovery for those injured in the incident.


The incident occurred at Sabarimala, when devotees, who were returning after having "darshan" of "Makarajyothi" light(culmination of the 41-day-long Makaravilakku festival) got trapped in a stampede.


According to sources, a jeep carrying devotees lost control and ploughed through the crowd, triggering the stampede.


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Four school children killed in train-auto collision in Punjab

Four schoolchildren travelling by an auto-rickshaw were killed when the vehicle was hit by a train at the Ferozepur-Laduka unmanned railway level crossing in this district of Punjab this morning.


According to Divisional Railway Manager  Visvesh Chaubey, the mishap occurred around 0700 hrs when the driver of auto-rickshaw was pulling the vehicle at the crossing. There was some mechanical problem in the rickshaw and the driver, seeing a train approaching, panicked and fled, leaving the vehicle with the children inside it on the track.


The speeding train rammed into the auto-rickshaw, killing the children on the spot. The victims were yet to be identified, the official said.


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Kerala Governor Gavai condoles death of Sabarimala pilgrims

Kerala Governor R S Gavai has mourned the loss of lives in the accident involving Sabarimala pilgrims at Vandiperiyar yesterday.


In a condolence message the Governor said, "I am deeply shocked and saddened at the tragic accident at Vandiperiyar in which several Ayyappa devotees returning from Sabarimala lost their precious lives."


"I share my profound grief of the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. I urge that no effort should be spared to rescue the wounded and rehabilitate the victims of the mishap," Mr Gavai added.


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Congress core group meets to discuss Telangana issue

A meeting of the Congress core group was held here yesterday evening to discuss the demand for a separate state of Telangana that has been raised from many quarters in Andhra Pradesh.


The meeting, held at the 7, Race Course Road residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was attended by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders of the party, including Home Minister P Chidambaram, sources said.


The issue of the separate state of Telangana has caused divisions within the party with several party leaders from Andhra Pradesh expressing themselves in favour of a separate state.


A delegation of Congress leaders from the state had met top Congress leaders here on Wednesday and favoured formation of a separate state.


Sources said the party is mulling idea of a Deputy Chief Minister in Andhra Pradesh from the Telangana region.


The party yesterday announced that Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) chief D Srinivas, who hails from Telangana, would continue in the position.


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Naxals, police exchange fire in Gadchiroli area of Maharashtra

The Maharashtra police and Naxalites exchanged fire near Gorekasa in Gadchiroli district of Vidarbha region today.


According to Gadchiroli police, around 50-60 armed Naxalites were holding a meeting at Gorekasa this morning, when 100 armed state policemen reached the spot and opened fire on them.


In return, the Naxalites indiscriminately fired back, which continued for over an hour. However, the Naxals succeeded in fleeing from the scene, they added.


A policeman and a Naxalite were injured in the exchange of fire, said unofficial sources.


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Two-day meeting of CPI-M Polit Bureau in Kolkata from Saturday

Ahead of Assembly polls in four States and one Union Territory in the middle of this year, the two-day meeting of the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) will begi here tomorrow at a time when the party is battling difficult times in its strongholds.


The meeting is likely to discuss the party's poll strategies in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Pondicherry, besides the issues of price rise and the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam.


The meeting, being held in Kolkata instead of in Delhi, holds a special significance as the party considers West Bengal as its main stronghold.


The meeting is taking place at a time when the party is struggling to regain the vote bank it lost in the state in several elections over the past two years and the opposition Trinamool Congress is in dogged pursuit of power, hoping to deal a "final blow" to the ruling Left Front in the Assembly elections, to be held by June this year.


The party, at present, also faces a tight situation following stepped up political violence in West Bengal and the Trinamool Congress harping on its demand for advancing polls.


The meeting precedes the proposed January 19 talks to be held between Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee over the state's law and order  situation.


The Polit Bureau meeting was one of the reasons the Chief Minister had told Mr Chidambaram that he would not be available for talks in Delhi before the third week of this month.


The Polit Burau is also likely to take up Mr Chidambaram's recent communications to the Chief Minister, which the party described as "biased in nature".


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More than 100 Sabarimala pilgrims feared dead in Kerala accident

More than 100 Sabarimala pilgrims were feared killed and 200 others injured when an overcrowded jeep lost control and ran over them, resulting in a stampede, in a hilly terrain between Kozhikkanam and Pullumede, in Idukki district of Kerala Friday night.

File photo of pilgrims at Sabarimala.
File photo of pilgrims at Sabarimala.

More than 100 Sabarimala pilgrims were feared killed and 200 others injured, many of them seriously, when an overcrowded jeep lost control and ran over them, resulting in a stampede, in a hilly terrain between Kozhikkanam and Pullumede, in this Kerala district tonight.


Police sources told UNI that the injured were being rushed to hospitals as the Chief Minister was coordinating the rescue and relief operations.


Since the area was covered with dense forest, rescue operations could not be done smoothly, as there were no mobile telephone connectivity or wireless access.


The mishap occurred when tens of thousands of Ayyppa devotees, a majority of them from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, were camping in the area, to witness the "Makarajyothi", the  conclusion of the "Makaravilakku" festival at the famed hill shrine of Sabarimala.


Police said a jeep carrying Ayyappa devotees lost control after hitting an autorickshaw and ran over the huge crowd, resulting in the stampede at around 2000 hrs.


Health Minister P K Sreemathy said medical teams were being rushed to the spot and nearby hospitals.


Tens of thousands of devotees turned up for worship at the hill shrine at Sabarimala during the "makara samkrama puja" this evening, marking the finale of two-month-long pilgrimage to the famous Lord Ayyappa temple.


Police said a heavy rush of Ayyappa devotees, mainly from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, gathered in the area as they could witness Makarajyothi clearly on the mountains from the
area.


The death toll was high as over two lakh devotees were present in the Pullumedu, a remote area, when the accident occurred.


Top officials, including the Director General of Police, have rushed to the spot, sources added.


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More than 50 Sabarimala pilgrims feared dead in Kerala accident

File photo of pilgrims at Sabarimala.
File photo of pilgrims at Sabarimala.

More than 50 Sabarimala pilgrims were feared dead and scores of others injured, many of them seriously, in an accident at Pullumedu, near Vandiperiyar, in this Kerala district tonight.

Local police told UNI that 43 bodies had been recovered from the area which witnessed a heavy rush of devotees who were returning after witnessing "Makara jyoti" at Sabarimala Ayyapa temple.

 Initial reports said an overcrowded jeep lost control and ran over pilgrims resulting in a stampede.

State Devaswom Minister Kadannappally Ramachandran said that as per initial reports, about 90 pilgrims were injured in the incident.

Most of the victims were reportedly from neighbouring states.

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Black money: SC asks SG to disclose secret a/c holders names


The Supreme Court today directed Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium to seek instructions from the Centre to disclose the names of secret account holders who have stashed away huge amounts of black money involving lakhs of crores of rupees in foreign banks.


A bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar asked the government, "What is the difficulty in identifying these tax evaders indulging in money laundering?"


The apex court directed the Solicitor General to seek instructions by next Wednesday, January 19, and inform the court about the stand of the Centre on the issue.


The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by former Law Minister and leading advocate Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) K P S Gill, former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap and others seeking directions to the Centre to take prompt and effective steps to bring back about Rs 70 lakh crore of black money illegally stashed away by these tax evaders, including top politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists.


The petitioners have alleged that the government is dragging its feet in the matter and recently it has received information regarding foreign bank account holders from Germany and Swiss banks which have also agreed to reveal the details of bank accounts of the Indians subject to certain conditions.


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SC issues notices to Centre and AP on Azad encounter

The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and the state of Andhra Pradesh on the alleged killings of Maoist spokesman Cherukuri Rajkumar "Azad" and freelance journalist Hemchandra Pandey by the Andhra Pradesh Police.

Taking serious note of the killings, the Supreme Court said, "We cannot allow lawless killings by the state."


A bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha issued the notices to the Centre and state of Andhra Pradesh on a petition filed by social activist Swami Agnivesh seeking a judcial inquiry into the killings.


Justice Alam also said, "We hope the Republic of India will not have the stains of the killings of her own children."


Azad and Pandey were killed on the night intervening July 1 and 2 last year.


The police version is that the search party was attacked by Maoists and the two were killed in retaliatory fire.


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IAF airlifts aid worth $ 1 million to flood-hit Sri Lanka

India is sending urgent assistance worth $ 1 million to provide relief to the flood-hit people of Sri Lanka.


An official press release said the assistance is being sent in two planeloads and consists of dry rations (sugar, dal, salt and some condiments), ready-to-eat meals, blankets, mattresses, water purification kits and malted food.


The Indian Air Force (IAF) is undertaking two IL-76 flights to airlift the aid items for the flood-affected areas in Central, Eastern and Northern Sri Lanka.


The first aircraft left New Delhi for Colombo today and the second flight is scheduled for Monday.

"The government of India expresses its solidarity with the Government of Sri Lanka at this difficult moment and stands ready to assist the Government and the people of Sri Lanka to deal with this humanitarian challeng," the release added.


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Mayawati's 55th birthday on Saturday: sops likely for state employees


The city of Nawabs has been decorated like a bride for the 55th birthday celebrations of Chief Minister Mayawati tomorrow which could bring some benefits for state government employees.


The birthday event which is slated to be a gala event unlike last year, when it was a rather low-key affair, will be held at the newly-constructed auditorium near Ram Manohar Lohia Law Institute.


The Chief Minister will dedicate to the people more than 150 government projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore during the three-hour-long programme which also includes the screening of a film and a visit by her to Asia's biggest sewage treatment plant at Bharwara in the state capital.


According to official sources, Ms Mayawati is expected to announce a special pay package for the Shiksha Mitras and some financial benefits for other employees tomorrow.


Shiksha Mitras, who are responsible for the smooth running of primary education at the village level, have been demanding a better pay scale for a long time. A few months back, they had staged a demonstration in the state capital. At that time, the Chief Minister had assured them of a better pay scale and since then the Finance department has been working on it.


Sources said the Chief Minister would announce three new projects, including the Uttar Pradesh Janhit Guarantee Bill and Mukhya Mantri Mahamaya Sachal Hospital Yojana. The first aims at making administration accountable for implementation of government projects, while the second scheme is for providing mobile hospital services in 15 most backward districts of the state.


Ms Mayawati will also announce an increase in pension for the BPL families under Uttar Pradesh Mukhya Mantri Mahamaya Garib Aarthik Madad Yojana from the present Rs 300 to Rs 400.


Two main projects which will be dedicated to the people are the 345 MLD sewage treatment plant at Bharwara and the newly-developed Hazratganj and Lalbagh.


"Besides, the Chief Minister will also dedicate to the people several overbridges, bridges and roads constructed under different schemes," the official added.


Interestingly, most of the schemes to be dedicated to the masses are those which have been taken up under the Centre's Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).


On the occasion, monuments, parks and statues of Dalit leaders have been illuminated and the streets have been decked up with blue lights, the official colour of the ruling party, and BSP flags.


An enormous gate has been erected at the entry of Kalidas Marg, the official residence of the Chief Minister with two big elephants, the election symbol of the BSP, standing on the two sides to welcome the guests.


The entire city, virtually turned blue for the occasion, has been adorned with big hoardings and banners sponsored by the BSP leaders to greet the Chief Minister on her birthday.


The Lucknow Development Authority(LDA) and other departments of the state government have been working round the clock to make this event a grand occasion.


Over 1000 hoardings have been erected all over the state capital highlighting achievements of the state government.


On the occasion, the LDA is all set to launch half a dozen new housing schemes in the city, sources said.


The Chief Minister will inaugurate new projects which includes an auditorium constructed at Ram Manohar Lohia National University(RMLNLU), which is proposed to be named after Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.


The auditorium, spread over an area of around 1,200 square metres, will have a seating capacity of 3,100, including two halls, one having a capacity of 2,800 people and another with 300 seats, the official said.


Meanwhile, to check illegal collections of funds by BSP activists in the name of celebrating the party chief's birthday, strict measures have been taken by the party leadership.


The party has decided that steps will be taken so that no trader or government official was harassed for money for these celebrations.


The LDA has hired a Delhi-based agency to prepare a 10-minute documentary on the memorials built by the BSP government.


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Banda rape case: bail of victim to be heard on Monday


A local court here today fixed January 17 for hearing the bail application of the victim in the Banda rape case even as she was sent to judicial remand for another 14 days till January 27.


The girl, herself pleaded before the court that she wanted a bail to start a new life whereas her counsel Ramhit Nishad made a plea that the life of the victim was under threat. The rape victim, however, did not mention the threat to her life.


Munsif Magistrate(Junior Division) Ravi Gupta, hearing the case, fixed January 17 to hear the bail application of the girl and sent her to jail under judicial remand till January 27.


The judge also summoned the Investigating Officer (IO) of CB-CID, probing the case, on January 17.


On Monday next, the same court will also hear the petition on whether the girl, belonging to the most backward community, was a major or minor. The judge has already summoned the village secretary along with the village family register and the primary school headmaster to check the age of the girl.


While the Banda police has produced a school certificate claiming that she was a major, the victim's family were saying that she was still a minor.


Yesterday, the accused suspended BSP MLA Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi was arrested and sent to jail under 14-day judicial remand. Two other accused - Rajendra Shukla and Suresh Neta - were also in judicial custody but the fourth accused Ravankar was still absconding.


Meanwhile, a controversy broke out when the arrested BSP MLA made some comment after his arrest yesterday, warning the people behind the conspiracy of dire consquences when he comes out of the jail.


Family members of the MLA clarified that the legislator had made that comment only for the opposition parties leaders who have conspired against him.


"The statement was not targetted towards the victim girl," they claimed.


The girl has been put in jail on December 14 last on charges of robbery in the house of the MLA, whereas she has alleged that the MLA and his three supporters have raped her twice on the night of December 11.


The Uttar Pradesh Govenment had ordered a CB-CID probe into the matter which had found that the girl was raped and the robbery theory against the victim was also false.


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Heavy fog cripples air, rail and road traffic in West Bengal


Air, rail and road services in Kolkata and the rest of West Bengal were severely affected today due to poor visibility caused by heavy fog since morning.


Thousands of passengers were stranded in different places as road and surface traffic remained either suspended or disrupted because of smoggy condition in the air.


Authorities at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport said no flights took off till 1000 hrs because of the fog.


More than 40 flights could not take off and more than a dozen flights had to be diverted to other places, they said.


Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway sources said authorities were forced to either cancel or delay many trains causing severe disruption of services in different sections.


The fog also badly affected vehicular movement, particularly in the morning hours, in the state.


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Srinagar-Jammu highway closed after snowfall


The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed today due to snowfall.


A traffic police official said here the highway had been closed as a precautionary measure following snowfall between Qazigund and Banihal.


He said no vehicle was allowed from Jammu or Srinagar today. Traffic will be resumed after the clearance of snow on the highway, the official added.


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Delhi wakes up to warmer morning , min. temp. rises to 6.1 degrees

People in Delhi woke up to a warmer morning today in comparison to the severe cold conditions of the past many days, with the minimum temperature in the past 24 hours rising to 6.1 degrees Celsius, up from yesterday's 5.3 degrees but still a degree below normal.


The maximum temperature in the past 24 hours rose to 24.6 degrees Celsius, up from yesterday's 21.3 degrees and four degrees above normal for this time of the year.


The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a generally cloudy sky over the capital today with one or two spells of rain or thundershowers. It said the maximum and minimum temperatures today would be around 22 and 9 degrees Celsisus.


The IMD said the maximum and minimum temperatures were likely to be 21 and 8 degrees Celsius tomorrow and 19 and 5 degrees Celsius on Sunday.


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Kerala govt. orders vigilance probe into ex-CJI's son-in-law's assets


The Kerala Government today ordered a vigilance inquiry to look into the alleged amassing of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan's son-in-law P V Sreenijan.


Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had issued the orders, official sources said.


The probe was ordered based on Chief Minister V S Achuthanadan's demand for a vigilance inquiry into the allegations. Mr Achuthanandan had recommended the inquiry based on a petition received by him.


Mr Sreenijan had quit the Youth Congress last week after the allegations surfaced.


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India expresses concern over death of fisherman in firing by Sri Lankan Navy

India today took up with Colombo the reports about the death of an Indian fisherman due to firing by Sri Lankan Navy personnel and expressed its deep concern and regret at the incident.


Mr Vishnu Prakash, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in response to a question about the incident that the Indian High Commissioner had immediately taken up the matter with the Sri Lankan Government.


"We have emphasized that resort to firing in these situations has no justification and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to desist from use of force," he said.


The spokesperson said the welfare and the safety of Indian fishermen in the waters between India and Sri Lanka had received very high priority by Government.


"We have consistently emphasized to the Sri Lankan Government to refrain from firing on our fishermen and scrupulously adhere to the October 2008 Understanding reached between the two governments. We call on the Sri Lankan Navy to exercise maximum restraint and avoid use of force in such situations," Mr Prakash added.


The fisherman was allegedly shot dead and another injured by Sri Lankan Navy peronnel near the controversial Katchatheevu Island in mid- sea yesterday.


A senior police officer of Tamil Nadu Q branch police wing told UNI that the deceased, R Pandiyan (25), hailing from Jegadhapattinam coastal village in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu succumbed to bullet injuries on the spot.


Another fisherman Manikandan (24) was injured in the firing, he said.


They were among four fishermen from Jegadhapattinam who had set sail into the sea for fishing yesterday morning. The other two managed to escape unhurt in the firing.


The two, Manivel (23) and Bhaskaran (52), said a Sri Lankan naval boat surrounded a group of Indian fishing boats while they were fishing and began indiscriminate firing in which Pandiyan was killed on the spot.


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Delhi Metro's Sarita Vihar-Badarpur section to open for public from Friday

The Sarita Vihar – Badarpur section of the Delhi Metro will be opened for the public from 8 am tomorrow after the statutory safety clearance, necessary for opening the line, was accorded to it by Commissioner for Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) R.K Kardam today.


This five kilometres stretch comprises three elevated stations - Mohan Estate, Tughlakabad and Badarpur.


A spokesmnan for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said the opening of the stretch would be of great benefit to the commuters of south Delhi localities such as Mohan Estate, Tughlakabad, Kalindi Kunj and so on as well as the satellite town of Faridabad in Haryana, which is just adjacent to Badarpur.


The footfall of the entire Central Secretariat (CTST) – Badarpur corridor is expected to increase by another one lakh after the opening of the section. Currently, the total footfall on the Central Secretariat – Sarita Vihar corridor is approximately 1.25 lakh.


Four additional standard gauge trains with a peak hour frequency of four minutes will be pressed into service, thereby, increasing the total number of trains to 20 for catering to the increased rush on the corridor. Presently, 16 trains are providing Metro services to the commuters between the Central Secretariat and Sarita Vihar corridor.


With the opening of this stretch, the Central Secretariat – Badarpur corridor will now be 20.16 kilometres long with 16 Metro stations. The DMRC will now have a total operational Metro network of approximately 161 kilometres with 135 Metro stations.


While services on the first day will commence from 8 am, the regular commencement timings will be from 6 am onwards from January 15, the spokesman added.


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Jaya takes on Cong, seems to "closes door" on alliance


The AIADMK today seemed to close the door on forging an alliance with the Congress for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu with party supremo J Jayalalithaa describing the Congress-DMK alliance as a dangerous combine, "which is going to woo the voters with their loot in various scams, including the 2G spectrum."


In a statement here, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was so far keeping the door open for the Congress, for the first time accused the party of jointly cheating the nation to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum scam.


Alleging that the "DMK regime in the State has distinguished itself as the most corrupt in any State, ever," she said the Congress-led UPA Government, for its part, "stands totally discredited with the Aadarsh Housing Scam and Commonwealth Games scam keeping the spectrum scam, close company."


"Armed with all this loot, this dangerous combine is going to woo the voters of Tamil Nadu. The people of Tamil Nadu have to be vigilant. It is upto them to teach these criminal opportunists a fitting lesson," she said.


When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the city on January 2 (to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress), Mr Karunanidhi, after making a show of sabre-rattling against its national ally following raids on former Telecom Minister A Raja, decided that the party could not afford to break away from the Congress, she said.


Ms Jayalalithaa said the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr Karunanidhi ended with both of them separately informing the media that the alliance between the two parties "which jointly cheated the nation (in the spectrum allocation)" was intact.


Thereafter, everything changed and barely three days later, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, "in a gross contempt of court," had rubbished the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the 2G spectrum allocation as totally erroneous, she said.


Mr Sibal claimed that not only had the nation not suffered any loss under Mr Raja, but that a loss of Rs 1,50,000 crore had been caused during the earlier NDA dispensation, she said.


"He tried every trick in his attorney’s handbook in a desperate attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. In short, once the continuation of the DMK-Congress alliance was sealed for the forthcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Raja suddenly became a knight in shining armour," she said.


Alleging that the CBI investigation has run out of steam, she said the documents seized and the details obtained from interrogation had not led to any arrests.


The CAG’s protest that its calculation estimating the extent of loss to the nation were based on absolutely fool-proof and time-tested norms, have gone unnoticed and this constitutional authority has virtually been undermined, she said.


The AIADMK leader, who had offered support to the Congress-led UPA Government in the event of the DMK withdrawing support, accused the Congress leadership of stonewalling the Opposition demand for a JPC probe into the scam and allowed an entire session of Parliament to degenerate into a "no show".


"Mr Sibal, by choosing to debunk the CAG report at an open press meet rather than before the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions relating to the case or the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, which is already looking into the issues raised in the CAG report, clearly shows that the Congress, for the sake of its ally, the DMK, is prepared to destabilise every constitutional authority in the country.


"It is becoming increasingly apparent that the spectrum probe is moving the Bofors way with the guilty going scot free," she said.


"There is reason for every right-thinking person in this country to be concerned," she added.


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Cong MPs from Telangana meet top leadership, say demand justified


Congress MPs from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh today met top leaders of the party here and said the demand for a separate state was justified.


Terming the demand for Telangana as "genuine and very old", 14 Congress MPs, who met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A K Antony and Law Minister M Veerappa Moily here, said that there was no alternative to the formation of a separate state.


Speaking to reporters after the meeting, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Keshava Rao said, "We want a separate Telangana. It is a people's movement."


Sources said the MPs also submitted a memorandum to the Finance Minister that stated that there was no alternative to a separate state of Telangana.


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Fuel-carrying train's engine catches fire in Assam


A major disaster was averted today when a fire that broke out in the engine of a fuel-carrying train was doused in time in upper Assam's Golaghat district.


Official sources said the engine of the train with 51 wagons, which had left Numaligarh Refinery in Golaghat in the morning, caught fire at Adharsatra railway station at around 0930 hours.


The fire was brought under control immediately and authorities ensured that it did not spread to the wagons, which could have led to a major disaster.


The train finally left the station at about 1500 hours when a new engine arrived. A technical fault is suspected to be the cause of the incident, the sources added.


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NIA files charge sheet against 37 SIMI activists in Wagamon camp case

The National Investigating Agency (NIA), probing various terror-related cases in Kerala, today filed a chargesheet before the Special NIA Court here against 37 Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) activists who allegedly took part in the Wagamon Camp.

The chargesheet said the accused organised a secret training camp with an intention to train the participants to advocate, incite and abet unlawful and terrorist activities, disrupt communal harmony and cause threat to sovereignty and integrity of the country, there by waging war against lawfully established government.


The NIA said the accused were all liable to be prosecuted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosive Substances Act 1908.


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Curfew relaxed, situation improving in Meghalaya

Authorities in Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district today further relaxed curfew for six hours from 1000 hrs to 1600 hrs in the riot-hit areas of Resubelpara sub-division, official said.

"The situation is limping back to normal, even as inmates from the relief camps have started leaving for their respective homes," East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakhsi said.


He said today another 1,800 displaced people left from some of the relief camps. "We are expecting more people to follow suit as the situation improves," Mr Bakshi told UNI.


From tomorrow, curfew will be further relaxed for 12 hours from 0600 hrs to 1800 hrs in the entire sub-division, he said.


At least ten people were killed and nearly 50,000 people displaced on both sides of Assam's Goalpara district and Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district following the ethnic conflict between members of the Garo and Rabha tribes.


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MCOCA court allows CBI to probe in Malegaon bomb blast case afresh

A designated Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court today allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to re-investigate the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast case in the wake of the recent confessional statement by Swami Aseemanand, one of the major accused in Samjhauta Express blas case.

MCOCA Judge Yatin Shinde granted permission for the fresh probe when CBI moved an application stating that fresh evidence have come before the investigating agencies after Swami Aseemanand confessed to his role in the 2006 Malegaon blast case.


Advocate Aijaz Khan, appearing on behalf of CBI, urged the court to conduct an inquiry into the information given by Aseemanand in his confessional statement before a magistrate that a meeting was held in Valsad after the Sankat Mochan temple blast in Kashi, which had provoked his group into bombing mosques in retaliation.


He told the court that, as per the information, Aseemanand was one of the conspirators in the blast and, hence, it is necessary to investigate this case once again.


On September 8, 2006, three bomb blasts occurred at different places in Malegaon, in which 38 people were killed and over 100 injured. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had filed chargesheet against nine people in the blast case on November 6, 2006.


The same day, the state government handed over the investigation to the CBI. On February 15 last year, CBI had filed a supplementary charge sheet.


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