PM harps on peace and development in Assam

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flanked by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi (R) and APCC President Bhubneswar Kalita at an election campaign rally at Juria in Nagaon district on April 2, 2011.  UNI PHOTO
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flanked by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi (R) and APCC President Bhubneswar Kalita at an election campaign rally at Juria in Nagaon district on April 2, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Harping on the slogan of peace and development in Assam during Congress rule, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged the people of the state to vote the party back to power to help it continue the good work.

Congress supporters defied an ULFA-sponsored bandh to attend the Prime Minister's campaign rally.

Addressing an election rally at Dhakuajhana in North Lakhimpur district, Dr Singh congratulated the Tarun Gogoi-led government for ensuring peace and development.

Ten years ago, when the Congress came to power here, the state was gripped by an economic crisis. Government employees were not getting their salary and growth was stagnant, he said.

"I must congratulate Mr Gogoi and his team for ensuring this turnaround of fortune of the state," Dr Singh, who became the first Prime Minister since Independence to visit Dhakuakhana, said.

He listed the various developmental projects and schemes being undertaken by the Congress governments in the state and the Centre.

Appealing to the people to vote for the Congress, Dr Singh said, "I urge the peole to vote us back to power so that they can truly reap the benefits of the developmental works being pursued by Congress in the last 10 years."

Taking a dig at the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said, "I am sure that these opportunistic parties will not be able to sway the minds of the people with their false promises."

On the militancy problem in the state, Dr Singh noted that much progress had been made in establishing peace in the state.

"I was happy to meet the ULFA leadership in New Delhi in February. The talks were held in a good atmosphere and gives hope for the future," he said.

"Talks can solve all disputes and the government is always ready to sit for negotiations with groups that abjure violence," Dr Singh added.

He also said the Indian Constitution was flexible enough to accommodate the needs of all categories of people.

Congress supporters defied in hordes an ULFA-called 12-hour statewide shutdown to attend the rally.

A local bandh called by nine non-political organisations also failed to have much impact in the turnout in the rally, though normal life was hit in Dhakuakhana during the double bandhs.

The organisations had called the bandh, alleging failure of the incumbent Congress MLA and state Cultural Affairs minister Bharat Narah to work for the development of the constituency.


Goa Minister detained at airport for carrying undeclared foreign currency

Goa Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate was detained at the airport here for carrying undeclared foreign currency.

The minister, who was on his way to Dubai, was detained late last night by Customs officials, sources said.

He was being questioned on carrying foreign currency over the permissible limit, the sources added.


SC refuses to recall order of cancellation of Raju's bail

The Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its earlier decision of cancellation of bail to former Satyam Computers CEO B Ramalinga Raju and three others, who are facing allegations of defrauding large number of investors of their hard-earned money to the tune of about Rs 14,000 crore.

A bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma dismissed the review petition filed by Raju, his brother and former Managing Director of the company D Rama Raju, Srisailam and D Venkatpathy Raju.

The apex court had cancelled the bail of the petitioners on October 26 on an application filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The petitioners are facing allegations of falsifying and forging the company's accounts to create an impression among the investors that it was in sound financial health while actually being in the red.

Ramalinga Raju had also diverted funds to the company of his son.


Chief medical officer shot dead in Lucknow

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the headquarters of the Uttar Pradesh Health and Family Welfare Department here was shot dead by criminals in the Gomti Nagar area today, police said.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police D K Thakur said Dr D P Singh was shot dead by some criminals near his residence in the Gomti Nagar area at 0630 hours today when he was going for a morning walk.

The doctor was immediately rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, Mr Thakur said.

The criminals, who came on a motorcycle, pumped bullets from a very close distance and thereafter fled away before people could raise any alarm.

The DIG said a search was on to nab the criminals in the area and all the entire exit points of the state capital had been sealed off.

This is the second murder of a CMO in the state capital during the past six months. On October 27 last, Dr Vinod Kumar Arya was also shot dead in a similar fashion in the Vikas Nagar area when he was on a morning walk.

Dr Arya was also working as CMO in UP Health and Family Welfare Department.


Shiney Ahuja to be shifted from Arthur Road Jail after World Cup

Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja, who was sentenced to a seven-year jail term for raping his maid servant, will be shifted from the high-security Arthur Road Jail to some other jail in the state after the World Cup final scheduled for tomorrow, sources in the jail said.

Since the Arthur Road Jail is basically a prison for undertrials and the actor has been convicted, he will be shifted. But, as the entire police force is busy in extensive security arrangements for the World Cup, he will be shifted later.

"After the final match, we would get our men and then could escort Ahuja to either Thane Central jail, Pune's Yerwada jail or to Nashik jail," said a senior police officer who supervises the police requirement for the courts, jail and other important places.

A fast-track court on Wednesday convicted Ahuja for raping his maid, although the victim had retracted her statement during the trial. Soon after the verdict delivered, Shiney's bond that he had furnished earlier was cancelled and he was taken to Arthur Road Jail.

Shiney was arrested on June 14 and released on bail three months after the 20-year-old girl in June 2009 lodged a police complaint alleging that she was raped by the actor at his Oshiwara residence in a city suburb.

In September last year, the maid turned hostile though she identified the actor in the in-camera trial held in the fast-track court saying that the incident had never occurred.

The court convicted him based upon the forensic evidences and other materials available against him.


Chidambaram describes Home Secretary-level talks as "positive"

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today described the two-day Home Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as "a positive development" and said it is one of the manyvsteps to be taken towards resolution of disputes between the two nations.

"It is a positive step. It is one among many steps that have to be taken towards resolution of disputes between India and Pakistan,"

Mr Chidambaram told reporters when asked about his view on the talks here between Home Secretary G K Pillai and Chaudhary Qamar Zaman on March 28-29.

Mr Chidambaram said Mr Pillai would be visiting Pakistan for the next round of talks. He added that the joint working group, meanwhile, would meet to discuss liberal visa regime.

"These are positive developments consistent with the Indian government's policies enunciated by the Prime Minister and we are happy to play our role in the Ministry of Home Affairs," he said.


Census 2011: North-East district of Delhi is most densely populated

Delhi is not only the most crowded among the 35 States and Union Territories in the country, but the North East district of the National Capital Territory (NCT) is also the most congested district in the country, preliminary data of Census 2011 shows.

As many as 11,297 people live in one sq km in the NCT, while its North East district has squeezed in 37,346 residents in the same area, according to the Census Commissioner.

In a big contrast to Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh is the least dense state with just 17 people sprawled across one sq km, while just one person can roam across a sq km in its Dibang Valley district.

However, in absolute numbers, the country has two districts with a population of one crore plus with Thane adjoining Mumbai topping the chart with a head count of 1,10,54,131, followed by North 24 Parganas in West Bengal at 1,00,82,852 people.

The two least populated districts in the country are both located in Arunachal Pradesh. These are Dibang Valley (7,948) and Anjaw (21,089).


CPI(M) Councillor shot dead in West Bengal

A Communist Party of India (Marxist) Councillor was today shot dead by two cycle-borne assailants in poll-bound West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district, some 20 km northeast of here, police said.

Seven-time Barrackpore Municipality's No. 17 Ward Councillor Jamil Akhtar was shot twice on his temple while he was sipping tea at a stall near his residence on the Ali Hyder Road at Mathpara near Titagarh police station.

While the ruling CPI(M) alleged that the murder was politically motivated and blamed the Trinamool Congress, the latter denied any involvement and held rivalry within the CPI(M) responsible.

Eyewitnesses said the miscreants, who came riding a bicycle, gunned down the veteran CPI(M) leader from point blank range and fled. They also said the popular leader used to come daily at that time for his tea.

Incidentally, Akhtar had earlier received threats.

Angry CPI(M) supporters forced closure of all educational institutions and blocked surface transport and railway movement for hours from 1000 hrs.

Police immediately rushed to the area but failed to remove the body as an irate mob put up a blockade. The mob further tried to ransack a shop and police had to resort to a mild cane charge to disperse them.

The mob vandalised a police jeep breaking its windscreen, the IC Titagarh said.

CPI(M) District Secretariat member Amitabha Nandy and former Lok Sabha member Tarit Topdar rushed to the spot and tried to placate the angry locals. The two leaders led the police to remove the body after about three hours of negotiation with the locals.

A dawn-to-dusk bandh has been called by the CPI(M) tomorrow covering the Barrackpore Assembly segment to protest the killing.

"Police are helpless and cannot stop crime because it is a conspiracy by the Trinamool Congress," Mr Nandy remarked.


Miscreants damage Antony's poll campaign podium

In a serious security lapse, miscreants ransacked the venue of an election meeting to be addressed by Defence Minister and Congress leader A K Antony at Edat, near Payyannur, in Kannur district of Kerala later in the day today.

Police said a portion of the make-shift stage and decorations were damaged by miscreants in the wee hours today. Congress activists were present at the venue till midnight last night.

Security had been tightened in the area in view of the incident.

Mr Antony was to address the public function at Edat at 1500 hrs, after inaugurating the Edat Congress Committe Office 'Mahathma Mandiram', about 2 km from Payyanur.

The stage was arranged in front of the Edat Congress office on the side of the National Highway (NH)-17.

Mr Antony was to attend his first election meeting at Payyanur Gandhi Maidhan at 1430 hours for UDF candidate Brijesh Kumar, and later at five other places in different areas, including Kannur town , to mobilise support for the Front's nominees.

Meanwhile, District Congress President P Ramakrishnan said that CPI(M) activists were behind the incident. He alleged that lack of police protection for a venue at a sensitive area to be addressed by the country's Defence Minister had resulted in the incident.


SIT questions former Minister Jadeja in Gujarat riots case

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) today questioned former Gujarat Minister and BJP leader I K Jadeja for his alleged role in the 2002 riots.

The SIT had earlier questioned Mr Jadeja in November 2009.

Mr Jadeja, who was summoned by the SIT, appeared before it this morning. Sources at SIT said the questioning lasted for about two hours. It was not immediately known why he was summoned again by the agency.

The questioning of Mr Jadeja assumes significance in view of the fact that the SIT recorded a statement of DIG Sanjeev Bhatt few days ago in the wake of Supreme Court observation on the investiation report that the inferences drawn by SIT chief R K Raghavan did not match the findings of the team in the probe against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots that officially left 1,180 people dead.

The Supreme Court had asked the SIT to examine the observations of the amicus curiae and considered conducting a further probe into the complaint by Zakia, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffrey, who was murdered in a riot at Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002. As many as 69 others died in the riot at Gulbarg Society.

Zakia has filed a 100-page complaint against Mr Modi and 62 others, including his Cabinet colleagues, accusing them of conspiracy in the riot at Gulbarg Society.

Retired IPS officer R Sreekumar had alleged that two Ministers in the Modi Cabinet, late Ashok Bhatt and I K Jadeja, were present in the Ahmedabad and Gandinagar control rooms of the police during the riots. They were accused of being in contact with the BJP and VHP leaders elsewhere.


NIA's credibility more than that of Aseemanand: Chidambaram

Union Home Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram holding a press conference to present the Report Card of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the month of March, 2011, in New Delhi on April 01, 2011. Union Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai and the Director General (M&C), Press Information Bureau, S.M. Khan are also seen.
Union Home Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram holding a press conference to present the Report Card of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the month of March, 2011, in New Delhi on April 01, 2011. Union Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai and the Director General (M&C), Press Information Bureau, S.M. Khan are also seen.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the credibility of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is more than that of Aseemanand, an accused in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case, and hoped that the agency would take the case trial to its logical end in a court of law.

Mr Chidambaram's remarks came in response to a question whether the NIA would be able to prove its case against Aseemanand after the latter did a volte face and told Ajmer's chief judicial magistrate that he had agreed to turn approver in the case under pressure from the investigating agencies, including the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NIA.

"Please remember, Aseemanand is an accused in the case and the credibility of NIA is more than that of Aseemanand," said Mr Chidambaram at the release of the monthly report card of his ministry.

The swami had earlier sent a letter to the magistrate, expressing his desire to turn an approver in the case and stand witness for the prosecution.

The Rajasthan home department has agreed to hand over the probe in the blast to the NIA.

The Centre had sent a proposal to various state governments to hand over the probe into cases involving the right-wing terror organisations to the federal agency. The cases included terror attacks on the Ajmer Dargah, Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid and in Malegaon, Maharashtra.

The Centre's contention was that since the same radical outfits were involved in these attacks, they should be investigated by the NIA.

The Centre also proposed to hand over the investigations in the murder of slain Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Sunil Joshi - a key accused in the cases - to the NIA. Joshi was shot dead in Madhya Pradesh soon after the Ajmer blast.

The Ajmer blast case had been investigated by the Rajasthan ATS that had submitted a charge sheet against three accused last October and arrested Swami Aseemanand, among others.


Shunglu committee report being analysed by ministries: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Shunglu Committee report on alleged irregularities in the organisation of the 2010 Commonwealth Games was being analysed by various ministries.

Talking to reporters here on the sidelines of a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan to give away the Padma Awards, the Prime Minister said, "The report is under analysis by various ministries. I am yet to get the analysis from the ministries."

The high-level committee, headed by former Comptroller and Auditor General V K Shunglu, appointed by the Prime Minister to look into allegations of irregularities in the conduct of the sporting event, had recommended strict action against then Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati B S Lalli and then Director General (Doordarshan) Aruna Sharma for providing "undue benefit" to Sis Live and Zoom Communications in the award of broadcasting rights of Commonwealth Games.

The Prime Minister had appointed the Shunglu Committee after the conclusion of the CWG in October last year to look into allegations of irregularities in the organisation of the Games.

In its city infrastructure report, the Shunglu Committee has pointed out several irregularities in various CWG projects implemented by Delhi government and indicted Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for them.

The Sheila Dikshit government has already rejected the Shunglu report. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Delhi government termed the findings of the panel "unfair" and "inconsistent".


Niira Radia tapes case: SC to hear Tata petition from Apr 19

The Supreme Court will start from April 19 the regular hearing of the petition filed by industrialist Ratan Tata in the Niira Radia tapes case.

In the petition, Mr Tata has objected to the leakage of his conversation with corporate consultant Radia to the media, alleging that such leakage has violated his right to privacy as a citizen of India.

A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly will also hear an application, filed by Centre for PIL, an NGO, counsel Prashant Bushan seeking directions to the government to make the entire conversation between Radia and others, including industrialists, politicians and journalists public as the people have the right to know how the country is being governed.

Mr Tata has also prayed to lay down appropriate guidelines to protect citizens against such attacks on their privacy as such attacks amount to violations of their fundamental right, Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

All the tapes containing the conversation of Radia, who is facing allegations of indulging in anti-national activities, have been kept by the Supreme Court in safe custody.


CBI may be asked to probe Batcha suicide case: Govt to SC

The Union Government today informed the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may be asked to investigate the Sadiq Batcha suicide case in view of the recommendation of the Tamil Nadu government for a probe by the agency.

Sadiq Batcha, a close aide of former Union Communications Minister Andimuthu Raja, was found hanging at his Chennai residence on March 16 in a case of apparent suicide.

The CBI had questioned Batcha in relation with the 2G spectrum scam and his residence was also raided.

Senior counsel K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, also suggested the name of senior counsel Uday Lalit for appointment as senior Special Prosecutor for conducting 2G spectrum trial.

The CBI is all set to file its first charge sheet running into 80,000 pages in the court of Special CBI Judge O P Saini who has been appointed as special judge exclusively for 2G spectrum case trial.

Seven accused, including Mr Raja, four officials and two telecom companies, Swan Telecom and Unitech Telecom, are likely to be charge sheeted for the offences of criminal conspiracy, forgery and under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged bungling in the allocation of 122 spectrum licenses.

A bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said on Tuesday that the latest CBI status report virtually confirmed the CAG report which had said that the accused persons in 2G spectrum scam caused a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crores to the country.


Hazare to go on fast in Delhi from Apr 5 to press for Lokpal Bill

Noted social activist Anna Hazare has decided to go on an indefinite fast from April 5 in New Delhi to press for implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Mr Hazare will also launch the "India Against Corruption" (IAC) movement.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Radheshyam Jagtap, Pune district head of Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan Nyaas, said a signature campaign had been launched on Jangli Mahraj Road from April 3 to garner mass support for the movement.

He said Mr Hazare would seek government action against those involved in corrupt activities.

"The investigating agencies are controlled by the politicians, hence we have decided to put pressure on the government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill," Mr Jagtap said.

The IAC is supported by organisations such as Professionals Party of India; Parivartan, Pune; Dnyan-Setu, Pune; Sajag Nagrik Manch, Pune; Art of Living, Pune; and Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan Nyaas, Ralegan Siddhi.

The Nyaas was established by Mr Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.


Kerala: Youth get raw deal in seat allocation for assembly polls

Youth, who constitute about half of the electorate in Kerala, has less representation among the candidates in April 13 Assembly elections.

Both the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) have allotted a majority of the seats to their senior leaders.

The LDF has just allotted 22 per cent of the seats for its youth brigade. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which leads the front, has fielded youths in 20 of the 93 seats that it is contesting.

The Communist Party of India, the second largest constituent in the LDF, has been more liberal in giving youths representation. Of the 27 seats, the CPI has allotted about half for the youth, which no other party can boast of. The other LDF constituents -- JD(S), RSP, NCP, Kerala Congress and INL -- have totally ignored the youth.

The Congress, which leads the UDF, has given a better representation to the youth than its rival CPI (M). They have fielded about 25 youth candidates of the 82 seats that they are contesting.

This youth representation in the Congress is seen to be spearheaded by none other than Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

The issue of youth candidates had even delayed the list of Congress candidates.

Though the Congress had ensured enough representation for the youth in its list, the other constituents of the UDF - IUML, JSS, SJ(D), KC (J), CMP, KC (B) and RSP (B) have not given so much importance to the youths.

The Indian Union Muslim League(IUML), which is contesting 24 seats, has given seats to only two youths. Of the 15 KC(M) candidates, only four youths are in the fray. The other constituents have just ignored the youth.

The Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP), which is hoping to open its account in the state Assembly, has allotted about 35 per cent of the seats to youth.

Prominent youthful faces in the LDF include DYFI All-India President P Sreeramakrishnan, who is contesting in Ponnani, DYFI state unit secretary T V Rajesh contesting in Kalliassery and SFI state Vice-President A A Rahim in Varkala.

NSUI national President Hibi Eden contesting from Ernakulam, KSU Vice-President Rijil Makutti from Thallasery and Youth Congress President P C Vishnunath from Chengannur are the youth in the UDF camp.


SC asks govt to file CBI report on Lalli

The Supreme Court today directed the government to file the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on former Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lalli.

Mr Lalli was placed under suspension following allegations of corruption in allocation of live telecast rights for the Commonwealth Games hosted by Delhi in October 2010.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil had under Article 317 of the Constitution referred the matter to the Supreme Court seeking its opinion whether Mr Lalli can be dismissed from service.

The future of Mr Lalli will depend on the outcome of the Presidential reference.


4 killed, 12 injured in road accident in Rajasthan

Four persons were killed and 12 injured when the jeep in which they were travelling overturned near Kyaria village in Udaipur district of Rajasthan last night, police said today.

The ill-fated jeep was carrying passengers from Jhadol to Ugana for participating in a traditional "mela" when the driver lost control of the vehicle and it turned turtle near Kyaria.

While two persons died on the spot, the other two succumbed to their injuries later. The injured were admitted to nearby hospitals, the police added.


SC nod for CBI investigation against Koda, 3 ministers

The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the allegations of massive corruption against former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and some of his Cabinet colleagues.

A bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of Binod Kumar Sinha challenging a Jharkhand High Court order dated August 4,2010 vide which the investigation of the case was transferred to CBI.

The criminal case was registered in 2009 by the state government against Koda and Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Prasad Shah and Bandhu Tirkey, former ministers of Jharkhand.

There were serious allegations against them of acquiring huge illicit wealth running into hundreds of crores of rupees.

According to the state, 32 companies have to be investigated and the money acquired by illegal means is reported to have been invested in Bangkok (Thailand),Dubai(UAE), Jakarta (Indonesia), Sweden and Libya.

The apex court in its judgement noted, "in the written submission it is categorically stated that the CBI is investigating into the commission of these offences alone and presently is not investigating any offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as the investigation under the PML Act is solely and exclusively within the jurisdiction and domain of the Enforcement Directorate,which is of course subject to the exercise of power by the Central government under section 45 (1-A) of the PML Act.

"On consideration of the totality of the facts and circumstances,we are clearly of the view that no interference is called for. The appeal being devoid of any merit is accordingly dismissed."

According to the state, the four are facing serious allegations of criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act by amassing wealth through corrupt means by abusing their official status as ministers. Sinha is an absconder and evaded arrest.


2G spectrum: Judicial custody of Raja extended till April 2

The judicial custody of former Union Communications Minister A Raja and three others was today extended by a Delhi court till April 2, when the Central Bureau of Investigation is to file its first charge sheet in the case.

The order extending judicial detention of Mr Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Mr Raja's former private secretary R K Chandolia and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, all lodged in Tihar Jail here, was passed by Special CBI Judge O P Saini during proceedings conducted through video-conferencing.

All four were arrested for their alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam.

The CBI, which was to file the charge sheet in the case on March 31, was given two-day extension to file it on April 2 by the Supreme Court.

Mr Raja was arrested by the CBI along with Mr Behura and Mr Chandolia on February 2, while Mr Balwa was arrested from Pune on February 8.


HM militants involved in killing of NC leader, says J&K police

Jammu and Kashmir police has identified the militants responsible for killing the ruling National Conference (NC) leader Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Bhat in south Kashmir district of Pulwama last night.

A police spokesman said this evening that a massive hunt has been launched jointly by Army, police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to nab the militants identified as a self styled divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)and two of his associates.

He said a group of militants shot dead Bhat at village Pinglish Tral in Pulwam district last night. The wife of Bhat, Haseena Bano, was also injured in the firing.

Sources said the main aim of the killers was to terrorise the people and keep them away from the Panchayat polls, being held in the state from April 13 after a gap of about two decades.

However, they said, security and other arrangements had already been finalised to provide a free and fair atmosphere for voters to cast their ballots.

Bhat was killed by the gunmen, who gate crashed into his house at Tral, about 35 km from here in Pulwama district of south Kashmir. His wife Haseena was also injured in the shootout and admitted to hospital.

This was the first killing of a political leader in the Kashmir valley after announcement of Panchayat polls in the state.


India votes for sanctions against Ivory Coast's Gbagbo

India has voted in favour of a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions, including a travel ban and asset freeze on Cote d'Ivoire's strongman Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and close aides, the Ministry of External Affairs said here today.

However, while supporting the sanctions, India has warned against the UN siding with Alassane Ouattara, the lawful winner of the November presidential polls, and said its 10,000-strong peacekeeping force (UNOCI) should not be part of the political stalemate in that country.

"They (peacekeepers) cannot be made instruments of regime change," India's permanent representative at UN Hardeep Puri said.

"The UNOCI should also not get involved in a civil war, but carry out its mandate with impartiality and ensure safety and security of peacekeepers and civilians."

India also expressed concern over the growing tendency to hurry the process of adopting resolutions.

"We think that there should be enough time for deliberations and consultations with all countries concerned. In situations, such as those envisaged in the present resolution, it is imperative that Troop Contributing Countries be first consulted on the mandate of the UN peacekeepers," Mr Puri said.

The resolution, which came five days after Nigeria and France introduced a draft resolution expressing concern that the country could relapse into a civil war, calls on Gbagbo to quit as President of the West African nation.


SC refuses to take up Hassan Ali's plea against ED custody

The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a verbal request of the counsel for Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan against the order of the trial court, sending him to three days Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody for further interrogation in the black money case.

A bench comprising Justices P Sudarshan Reddy and S S Nijjar told the counsel for Hasan Ali, accused of evading taxes worth crores of rupees, to file an appropriate application against the trial court's order.

The apex court had earlier rejected the ED's status report saying that for the last three years the investigators have not asked any question about the source of black money stashed away in foreign banks by tax evaders through money laundering channels.

The apex court had however directed the authorities to provide protection to Hasan Ali and his family members as his life is under threat.

In the meantime, the Income Tax Department is likely to slap a Rs 20,000 cr income tax dues notice on Hasan Ali's associate Kashinath Tapuriah, brother of late Priyamvada Birla.


ICCR Chair of Corporate Responsibility & Governance at Leipzig School

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Leipzig Graduate School of Management (HHL), Leipzig, Germany have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of ICCR’s Long-Term Chair of Corporate Responsibility & Governance at HHL.

Ambassador of India to Germany Sudhir Vyas signed the MoU on behalf of ICCR along with Prof. Dr. Arni Vilks, Rector; Dr. Judith Marquardt, Chancellor; Prof. Dr. Andreas Pinkwart, Rector (Designate); and Dr. Axel Baisch, Chancellor (Designate) of HHL.

Under the terms of agreement, ICCR, in consultation with the HHL, shall appoint a suitable Indian academician to hold the Chair for a period of one year. During the period, the Visiting Professor would contribute to the academic life of HHL by engaging in teaching, research and mentoring. The Chair would commence from September 1, 2011 and the MoU will remain valid till August, 2012.

This Chair is ICCR’s seventh chair in Germany. They include five Rotating/Short-Term Chairs in various universities of Germany and a Long-Term Heinrich Zimmer Chair of Indian Philosophy & Intellectual History at Ruprecht Karl’s University of Heidelberg.

Establishment of this Chair is another major step in propagation of India-related studies in Germany and thereby fulfilling ICCR’s larger mandate of fostering and strengthening academic and cultural bonds and towards enhancing knowledge and awareness about India, an official press release added.


No change in Civil Services interviews scheduled for April 14: UPSC

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) today clarified that the Civil Services Personality Test/Interviews would be held by it on April 14, 2011 as scheduled.

An official press release said there was no change in the schedule of this examination though April 14, 2011 has been declared a closed holiday on account of the birthday of Dr B R Ambedkar for all Central Government offices.


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