Monday, October 4, 2010

TD invites KCR to Delhi protest

Increasing its pressure on the TRS, the Telugu Desam, on Sunday, invited the TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekar Rao, to join the party-sponsored protest programme that it plans to host before the residence of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, on October 25.

Party leaders from the Telangana region met at Mr Chandrababu Naidu’s residence to chalk out modalities of the protest programme in New Delhi and have decided to invite all political parties including the TRS and the Congress to the ‘Chalo New Delhi’ programme. “We will invite all political parties to join us to sit before 10 Janpath. KCR should respond to our invite and join our programme if he has even the slightest commitment to resolve the T-issue,” said the senior TD leader, Mr Mothkupalli Narasimhulu.

In a bid to single out the TRS, the TD leadership has decided to invite the leaders who are heading the joint action committees in the Telangana region to the programme as well.

The party also discussed the pros and cons of inviting the new party launched by Gaddar for the protest. Though it was decided to invite Gaddar, some leaders opined that the party should wait and watch to understand the philosophy and the people of the new party before inviting them.

FM tune: No curbs on FIIs

The Union finance minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said that domestic stock markets have an appetite for more foreign investments as FII inflows were still at moderate levels. He also made it clear that it was not yet time for government intervention to check FII inflows.

Cumulative net FII inflow in equities and debt market till October 1 is pegged at $109 billion, of which $92.03 billion is in equities and $17.28 billion in debt. Net FII inflows since Mr Mukherjee presented his Budget on February 26 is pegged at $26.33 billion, of which $19.02 billion is in equities and $7.33 billion in debt, according to FC Research Bureau data.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock benchmark Sensex index closed at 20,445.04 points when trading ended on Friday.

The finance minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, speaking exclusively to Financial Chronicle on the state of the economy on Wednesday, a full seven months since presenting his last Budget and before North Block gears up to start work on the next one five months from now, said when asked if large portfolio inflows were a big concern for him: “We will have to make an assessment about how much of inflows will lead to overheating... we will have to see whether money is coming in for a very short term, medium term or long term. What we know is that countries where safe investments can be made are still in some difficulty, and their recovery process is still not robust. The recovery is weak in the whole of the euro zone, except Germany and France. North America is also not very strong.”

Gaddar party to be a storm in KCR T cup

A new political formation called the Telangana Praja Front has emerged as an alternative to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and its chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who have hitherto been the most aggressive proponents of statehood for Telangana.

Poets, intellectuals, artists and dozens of joint action committees that were formed after December 9, 2009, have come together to endorse the Telangana Praja Front which will be led by the famous balladeer Gaddar. Known to be a Maoist sympathiser, Gaddar has wide contacts with Telangana artists, poets and people’s organisations working for human rights. Political parties such as the Congress and the Telugu Desam too have welcomed the new outfit, with the TD leader Mr Revuri Prakash Reddy, offering to convince his boss, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, to endorse the new party if Gaddar is ready to work with the TD. The Osmania Joint Action Committee has already announced its support to the new party.

The new party has found champions among dozens of joint action committees that have been complaining that Mr Chandrasekhar Rao is not taking them into confidence.

“We will decide the future course of action and modalities of the party on October 9 at Nizam College where representatives of different sections will meet and decide the action plan to achieve Telangana,” said Gaddar.

“If political lobbying can bring about a Telangana state, why has it failed to do so after Mr Chandrasekhar Rao was elected with 2.6 lakh majority in the Karimnagar election?” he questioned.

Olympic start to CWG

The 19th Common-wealth Games got off to a spectacular opening on Sunday. It was an extravaganza that blended tradition and technology in a smooth mix before 60,000 enthralled spectators and a billion people watching on TV.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr L.K. Advani, Ms Sushma Swaraj and a host of bigwigs sat in companionable peace as the curtain went up in spectacular style.

“I am delighted to declare the Games open,” said Britain’s Prince Charles, who was greeted with chants of “India! India!” This was followed by the President, Ms Pratibha Patil, who concluded by saying “the 2010 Common-wealth Games in Delhi are now open. Let the Games begin.”

The Delhi sky exploded into a frenzy of colour and light before morphing into a musical routine that left spectators with sore palms and a lump in their throats.

The much-touted “aerostat” rose to much acclaim and applause, becoming a screen of sorts to reflect and support the action and activity underneath.

The teams strolled in led by medal-toppers Australia. Going by the smiles of three women athletes of the squad all the problems they had either anticipated or faced on arrival had long vanished.

The International Olympic Committee president, Mr Jacques Rogge, who had a ringside view of the preparations for the event, said India had set a “good foundation stone” for an Olympic bid in future.

“There is a difference between Olympics and Commonwealth Games. But I think India has set a good foundation stone for the Olympics bid ..,” Mr Rogge said.

Friday, October 1, 2010

India, Oz all set for big test

When Australia arrived here in 2008, they were not just planning to keep possession of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, they were talking of putting daylight between themselves and the rest of the Test-playing community. They, however, departed four Tests later with a 0-2 loss and an unnerving knowledge that their dominance of Test cricket was as good as done.

It’s ironical that India’s two-match Test series against Australia this time — the first of which begins here from Friday — throws up the opposite scenario. After a bumper 2009 that saw them reach number one in the Test ranking, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have had a mixed year so far that is threatening to cut short their stint at the top.

India haven’t lost a series at home in two years, but with draws in the last two, Dhoni has a lot on his platter. There is unpredictability over India’s bowling resources with both Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth returning from injury, and Ishant Sharma on the rebound after a woeful season.

No decision has also been taken on Harbhajan Singh, who is suffering from an ankle sprain. “It is a bit of a concern, but you can’t control injuries. We’re just hoping he’ll be available for selection, but if he’s not we’ll have to make use of the available resources in the best possible manner,” Dhoni said. “He has been our main spinner since Anil Kumble left cricket (in 2008). He has been well-supported by Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, but the main attack has always revolved around him.”

Harbhajan’s absence will be a big blow to India’s aspirations of putting it past Australia as he has been hugely successful against them. In case he doesn’t make it, India will be forced to decide between either another pace option in Sreesanth, or Mishra. Sreesanth is as aggressive as Harbhajan, but has been underwhelming as far as his performance is concerned. Mishra, in contrast, has had a reasonably good season, but lacks the ability to get under the batsman’s skin.

Whatever the final combination, India know where their strength lies — in batting. A slimline Virender Sehwag has been oozing confidence both in words and at nets every since the Indians came here. His opening partner Gautam Gambhir has also had a proper pre-season rest.

India’s start to the new season leading up to the World Cup could well depend on how damaging they prove to be in these two Tests. A nice, solid platform from them will be just the thing the old warhorses in the middle-order would need to settle in.

The Teams

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Venkatsai Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Peter George, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson.

TD says KCR is not sincere on T

The Telangana Telugu Desam Forum convener, Dr Nagam Janardhan Reddy, alleged that the TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s actions indicate that he doesn’t want Telangana. “The TRS chief is systematically using the Telangana issue for his personal and political gains. He lacks sincerity over the issue,” Dr Janardhan Reddy alleged.

“Mr Chandrasekhar Rao is deliberately trying to target the TD while ignoring the Congress which alone can take a decision on Telangana. If Mr Rao is sincere about the issue he should take all parties together and pressurise the Centre to carve out a separate state,” he said. Referring to Mr Rao’s statement that there was no need for a dharna in front of the UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi since she had already announced a process for a separate Telangana on December 9 and it was Mr Naidu who had stalled the operation, the TD leader questioned whether Mrs Gandhi had no role in the December 23 statement which stalled the process.

“Mr Chandrasekhar Rao should come out of the grip of the Congress. He has never demanded in Parliament the introduction of a Bill to carve out Telangana,” Mr Nama Nageshwara Rao, TD MP said.

The Telangana Telugu Desam leaders are up in the arms against the TRS chief for his verbal and at times physical attacks on them.

Parties to move SC over verdict

The Sunni Central Waqf Board on Thursday said it would appeal in the Supreme Court against verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya title suits. Interestingly, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, one of the early litigants in the Ayodhya title suits, also said it would challenge the HC order to divide the Ramjanmabhoomi land in three parts.

Mr Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board, said the court verdict, which came after 60 years, was "partly disappointing and against expectations". He ruled out the possibility of accepting one-third of the land. “The Babri mosque cannot be reduced to a part or portion,” he said.

“The board will move the Supreme Court after a meeting of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board,” he said, adding that not much more could be said without studying the judgment in detail.The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president and Hyderabad MP, Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, said Muslims will appeal in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court verdict.

"We are hugely disappointed by the HC judgment,” said Mr Owaisi. “We have lost the battle but still the war can be won and we will win it in the apex court. The division of land is not acceptable to the Muslim community.”

Referring to the verdict, Mr Owaisi said one of the three judges has clearly stated that a Ram temple was not destroyed to construct a masjid there. “There are many historical evidences that were submitted to the court but the court has erred in law by not looking into them,” he said. “As such, we have a good case for appealing to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kamlesh Tiwari, president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, said the organisation had decided to challenge the decision to divide the Ramjanambhoomi land in three parts. “Our fight for the Ramjanmbhoomi was acknowledged by the entire bench unanimously,” he said and pointed out that the legal battle was initiated by Mahasabha president of Faizabad Gopal Singh Visharad in January 16, 1950.

At the same time, the Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, the apex body of sadhus and saints, welcomed the Allahabad High Court's verdict on Ayodhya title suits saying the Ram temple issue had come out of the trap of political parties with the ruling. “This is not a matter of victory or defeat. Now the political parties cannot play politics in the name of Ram temple issue,” said the parishad general secretary, Swami Hari Giri.

Appealing to all sections of society to maintain calm, the Swami asked Muslims to join Hindus for the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya.

Clear path to build Ram temple: Advani

Lord Ram is back at the centrestage of saffron politics. An upbeat BJP and RSS on Thursday said the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on Ayodhya had paved the way for the construction of a “magnificent Ram temple” at the disputed site.

Both the RSS chief, Mr Mohan Bhagwat, and the senior BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani, also appealed for restraint and said the verdict had opened a “new chapter of reconciliation” in the country.

Mr Advani said: “It is a significant step forward towards construction of a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram.” Echoing the RSS line, he added that the “verdict opens a new chapter for national integration and a new era of inter-community relations.”

He said, “The expert opinion of the Archaeological Survey of India and the other agencies has clearly opined that there were remains of a Hindu religious structure at the disputed site.”

Evoking the name of “Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram”, Mr Bhagwat said on Thursday evening that the Ram temple movement was “not a reactionary one... nor is it against any particular community”.

The RSS chief, taking the “opportunity to heartily and affectionately call upon countrymen, including Muslims”, exhorted everyone “to forget all ill-will and hard feelings... of past decades” and welcome the judicial verdict. He urged people to become “active collaborators in organising the constitutional and practical means to build a magnificent temple.”

The RSS chief said the verdict “Should not be seen by society as a victory for one group or defeat for the other”.

Judges divide land to unite India

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in a majority verdict on the Ayodhya title suits on Thursday ruled that the 2.7 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya is to be divided equally into three parts among Hindus and Muslims.

It dismissed the Sunni Central Waqf Board’s claim to the Babri mosque with a 2-1 majority and accepted that the land in question was the birthplace of Lord Rama.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and Dharam Veer Sharma, however, were unanimous in the opinion that the makeshift temple of Ram Lalla could not be removed and the land on which it was located rightfully belonged to the Hindu litigants.

The detailed judgment was of over 10,000 pages.Mr Zafaryab Jilani, the counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board, said the court verdict, which came after 60 years, was “partly disappointing and against expectations”. He said the board would appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court. Mr Jilani ruled out the possibility of accepting one-third of the land. “The Babri mosque cannot be reduced to a part or portion,” he said.

Justices S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal ruled that the disputed property should be equally divided among the Hindu Mahasabha, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Central Waqf Board, with each party getting one-third.

Justice Dharam Veer Sharma was categorical that the land belonged to Hindus and rejected the claim of the Sunni Waqf Board. Justice Sharma ruled that the disputed site is Lord Ram’s birthplace and that the disputed structure constructed by Babur was built “against the tenets of Islam” and “did not have the character of a mosque”. Justice S.U. Khan said the mosque was built by Babur, not by demolishing a temple, but on the ruins of a temple, as found in the Archaeological Survey of India report.

The court pointed out that the mosque was not in use and hence the disputed structure could not be termed a mosque in the true sense of the term. However, the entire bench held the view that the central dome of the disputed structure — where the idols had been installed since 1949 and again in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri mosque — belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha. The Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara have been given to the Nirmohi Akhara.

The bench has also directed maintenance of status quo for three months and invited suggestions from all parties for demarcation of the land.

Justice Khan said, “All the three sets of parties, i.e., Muslims, Hindus and the Nirmohi Akhara, are declared joint title holders of the property/premises in dispute as described by letters A B C D E F in the map Plan-I prepared by Shri Shiv Shankar Lal, Pleader/Commissioner appointed by the court in Suit No. 1 to the extent of 1/3rd share each for using and managing the same for worshipping. A preliminary decree to this effect is passed."

However, the Judge said the portion below the central dome, where the idol remains in a makeshift temple, will be allotted to Hindus in the final decree and that the Nirmohi Akhara would be allotted a share including that part shown by the words “Ram Chabutra” and “Sita Rasoi” in the map.Justice Khan added, “However, if while allotting exact portions, some minor adjustments in the share are to be made, then the same will be made and the adversely-affected party may be compensated by some portion of the adjoining land which has been acquired by the Central government.”

Justice Khan held that the disputed structure was constructed as a mosque “by or under the orders of Babar but it is not proved by direct evidence that the premises in dispute, including the constructed portion, belonged to Babar or the person who built it”. He said no temple was demolished for constructing the mosque as it was built over the long-lying ruins of a temple.

Justice Agarwal said, “It is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure, i.e., the disputed structure being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janamsthan and place of birth of Lord Rama as per faith and belief of Hindus belong to plaintiffs (party on behalf of Lord Rama) and shall not be obstructed or interfered in any manner by the defendants (sic).”

He also observed that the area within the inner courtyard, except some portion, belongs to Hindus and Muslims since both had been using it for centuries. “It is, however, made clear that the for the purpose of share of plaintiffs (parties on behalf of Lord Ram) under this direction, the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure shall also be included,” he said.

Justice Agarwal said the open area within the outer courtyard shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara and the party for Lord Ram since it has generally been used by Hindus for worship.

“It is, however, made clear that the share of Muslim parties shall not be less than one-third of the total area of the premises and, if necessary, it may be given some area of the outer courtyard. It is also made clear that while making meets and bounds, if some minor adjustments are to be made with respect to the share of different parties, the affected party may be compensated by allotting the requisite land from the area which is under acquisition of the government of India,” the Judge said.

In his findings on issues, Justice Agarwal said the parties of the Muslim side had failed to prove that the disputed property was constructed by Babur in 1528 AD. In his separate judgment, Justice D.V. Sharma observed that the disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram. “Place of birth is a juristic person and is a deity. It is personified as a spirit of divine worshipped as Lord Rama as a child (sic). Spirit of divine ever remains present everywhere at all times for anyone to invoke at any shape or form in accordance with his own aspirations and it can be shapeless and formless also (sic),” he said.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, particularly Lucknow, was converted into a fortress with thousands of paramilitary personnel patrolling the streets. Aerial surveys of “sensitive districts”, including Ayodhya, were carried out Thursday afternoon and the majority of the commercial establishments and shops opted for a complete shutdown after 2 pm when the streets wore a deserted look. The court premises had been turned into an impregnable fortress and all roads leading to it were declared as no-access zones.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pricey Sunny out of IPL

Lalit Modi is not the only one out of the IPL. Cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar will not be in the council when IPL-4 begins.

The BCCI has decided that Ravi Shastri and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi will be the two cricketers deciding on playing matters, that too in an honorary capacity. The move will become formal once Pataudi gives his consent to serve without the `1 crore net (tax-free payment) that each of the three cricketers got in the first three editions.

It is learnt that Modi had promised to increase the payments to the cricketers on the council on a differential scale, with as much as an additional million dollars going to the top player.

That did not go down well with the BCCI, which wants to change the structure of the IPL by making it a subsidiary tournament under its aegis instead of letting it be run by a sporting czar like Modi.

With Mr Sharad Pawar, ICC president, not in a position to lend his voice in BCCI matters now, Gavaskar may have been isolated. It is believed that he may become a mentor figure for one of the two new teams that are slated to join in season 4.

It is thought that Gavaskar will in some way be attached to the Kochi franchise while also being in a position to retain his commentary position as a freelance commentator.

US Senate blocks bill on H1B bar

Two amendments moved by the US Senator, Mr Chuck Grassley, on restricted hiring of foreign workers and another aimed at preventing abuse of H-1B and L1 visas could not pass the Senate floor.

The amendments moved along with the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act, was bloc-ked by the Democratic Party, he said. The offshoring Act, meant to ensure that firms taking US government aid do not outsource jobs, was blocked by the Republicans.

His first amendment would have prevented any firm engaged in a mass lay-off of American workers from importing labour from abroad through temporary guest worker programs.

The second would have taken aim at fraud and abuse of the H-1B and L Visa programmes, while making sure that Americans have the first chance at high-skilled jobs in the US.

The H-1B and L1 Visa amendment would have required employers to try and recruit US workers before hiring H-1B visa holders.

Judgment day: Nation waits for verdict in Ayodhya title suit

Police has tightened security in 50 sensitive towns in Andhra Pradesh to avoid trouble after the Ayodhya verdict even as the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, and the director-general of police, Mr K. Aravinda Rao, made fervent appeals for calm.

The government ruled out declaring a holiday to government institutions and schools on Thursday, saying things would be normal. Some schools, however, will be closing early to enable children to reach their homes by 3.30 pm, when the Allahabad High Court will pronounce its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit.

Security was ramped up across the country and leaders across party lines called for restraint in the aftermath of the verdict on four title suits on the ownership of the disputed 2.7 acres of land in Ayodhya.

In New Delhi, invoking Mahatma Gandhi and resting hope on the young generation, the home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, made an appeal for peace, stating that India has “moved on since 1992”. He said, “the India story is much bigger a story and young people recognise that bigger story should not be derailed over dispute over a piece of land.”

The AP police chief said the towns in Anantapur, Kurnool and Chittoor district have been added to sensitive areas list and urged people not to get emotional about the verdict. He specially appealed to the youth not get involved in the clashes and spoil their careers as they will be booked by the police.

“We are requesting the cooperation of the public,” said the DGP. “All community leaders and political parties have pointed out that this judgment is not the end of the road."

Police has taken 100 rowdysheeters into custody and has deployed additional forces across the state. The Hyderabad police commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan, imposed 144 section of CRPC banning assembly of more than four persons.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Athletes to hold fort in opening gala

In a first for the 80-year-old Commonwealth Games, athletes will be provided the honour of marching into the stadium for the opening ceremony, much like the Olympic Games. Commonwealth Games Federation president Mike Fennell announced the protocol arrangements for the opening ceremony of the Delhi Games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on October 3.

“For the first time in the history of the Games the athletes will march into the stadium during the opening segment of the ceremony after which they will be seated to enjoy the rest of the ceremony,” a CGF statement said here on Tuesday.

“Both the CGF and the Organising Committee have agreed that the emphasis of the opening ceremony must be on the athletes of the Commonwealth, allowing them to be the focus of attention,” Fennell said.

The dignitaries to be present at the ceremony will include President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, HRH the Prince of Wales, as the representative of the Head of the Commonwealth, the Queen, Fennell himself and OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi, all of whom will officiate at the ceremony.

3,100 athletes check into Village

Athletes from around the world continued to pour into the Athletes Village on Tuesday. About 850 sportspersons arrived on the day, among them Canadian Susan Nattrass, a six-time Olympian and seven-time world trap shooting champion.

Jamaica’s contingent of 87 athletes who entered the Village included the shooting, cycling, netball and athletics teams. The other large contingents arriving included Northern Ireland (83), Samoa (57), Guernsey (55), New Zealand (52), Cook Islands (49) and Australia (48).

Australia, one of the countries that had slammed the village last week, said the organisers were working hard to improve the facilities with less than a week remaining before the start of the event.

“It’s pretty good. I feel completely safe and secure,” Lynsey Armitage, a member of the Australian lawn bowls team, said.

South Africa also said the first contingent from their 150-
strong squad had moved into the village on Tuesday after the residential zone was passed as fit by the team leader.
There was more good news as coach of women’s world 800m champion Caster Semenya assuring of her trip to India. “She is still coming to India,” Semenya’s coach Michael Seme told an Australian newspaper.

Red alert: Police bans pillion riding

Bracing itself for the aftermath of the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ayodhya title suit, the city police banned pillion riding for a week from Tuesday and also deployed 20,000 personnel in the city.

“Pillion riding would not be allowed from 9 pm to 6 am from September 28 to October 4,” said the Hyderabad police commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan. “Women and children below 12 years are exempted.”

The city police extended prohibitory orders and banned gathering of more than four persons, holding rallies and making speeches or displaying banners or flags. The Cyberabad police imposed Section 144 within its limits. CRPF and RAF personnel would be deployed from Wednesday.

The Centre identified 32 trouble spots across the country and kept forces on alert at 16 places and has readied transport aircraft.

State gets Polavaram shocker from Centre

The state’s efforts to get national status for the Polavaram project received a jolt on Tuesday when the Central Water Commission (CWC) made it clear that it would not send the proposal for clearance to the Expenditure and Finance Committee (EFC) until the Central Electricity Authority gave the Techno Economic Clearance (TEC) for the 960-mw hydro power project.

This means that national status for Polavaram will take more time as the CEA has asked AP Genco to prepare a detailed project report for a second time.

The project has been waiting for national status for four years. It had received all clearances and was awaiting a final nod from the EFC. The irrigation department, meanwhile, has dropped hopes of getting the TEC in time and has requested the Chief Minister’s permission to go ahead with separate tenders for the hydro project and the dam and spill way.

Raising serious objections over availability of water and floods in the Godavari, the CEA had asked Genco to submit a revised project report to get the TEC. “We are finalising the report as the apex electricity body wanted to know about several other aspects of the project, it will take more time,” said Mr Adiseshu, director (Hydel), Genco.

Until AP Genco submits a revised DPR, there will be no TEC. If there is no TEC, the CWC will not propose national status for the project before the EFC.

The state is awaiting the status as it would ensure 90 per cent of the project cost from the Centre.

Meanwhile, the National Forum Against Polavaram Dam resolved to stall the project alleging that it will displace more than two lakh people and over 300 habitations. The convener of the forum, Mr Badal Kumar Tah, said consent has not been taken from the people of affected.

Siddhantis to fix festival dates

Senior siddhantis from various parts of the state will converge for a summit at the temple town of Basara on October 3 to standardise the Telugu panchangam or almanac.

Mr V. Mrutyunjaya Sarma, who is coordinating the event, said as many as 30 senior siddhantis sort out differences among various panchangas on events such as festivals, muhurats and eclipses.

In recent years, there have been differences among siddhantis even on festivals such as Ugadi, the Telugu New Year, often forcing people to celebrate it on two different days.

“The idea is to evolve a code of ethics for siddhantis in the state,” said Mr Sarma, who also heads the Medak district unit of AP Brahmins Association. “Panchangam prepared by different siddhantis follow different patterns.”

“Unfortunately, over a period of time the standards have fallen and siddhantis often end up as a laughing stock,” he added.

The Telugu almanac is based on the calculations of Bhaskara II dating back to the 12th century. The Telugu lunar calendar has a cycle of 60 years and the interpolation of the solar calendar has often led to differences among siddhantis on when the actual muhurat of an event or festival begins.

The senior siddhanthi from Tirupati, Tangirala Poornachandra Siddhanti, will chair the event. “We will also discuss how to expose bogus siddhantis,” said Mr Sarma. “Only well qualified siddhantis should be allowed to prepare the almanac.”

Praful stopped at Chicago airport

The Union civil aviation minister, Mr Praful Patel, was stopped for questioning by authorities at the Chicago airport in the United States but later allowed to go on Monday night, in a case of mistaken identity.

According to sources, the incident occurred after Chicago airport officials posted a lookout notice for someone with a “similar name and date of birth” as that of the minister. Indian diplomats in the US intervened following which Mr Patel was allowed to leave.

Mr Patel, as an Indian minister, is exempt from frisking at American airports. The Union civil aviation ministry sought to downplay the incident. The minister stated, “I’m in Montreal and nothing happened... There is a person with
similar name and date of birth and that’s why they just
checked.” The minister is on an official visit to Canada.

There was a furore last year when the former President, Dr A.P.J. Kalam, was subjected to checks at the New Delhi IGI airport by an US airline.

60-year Ayodhya wait ends tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed two petitions to defer the Ayodhya title suit ruling and cleared the decks for the Lucknow bench of the Allhahabd high court to pronounce judgment in the 60-year-old case.

Soon after this, it was announced that the three-member high court bench would deliver its verdict at 3.30 pm on Thursday, September 30.

The September 30 date fixed by the Lucknow bench is of some importance as one of the judges of the three-member bench, Justice D.V. Sharma, is due to retire on October 1. The other two judges on the bench are Justices S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal.

Preferring not to comment on the merits of the case and offering no major observation during the hearing of arguments by a battery of senior advocates for the contesting parties, a Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and K.S. Radhakrishnan, in a very brief order, rejected two special leave petitions by the former bureaucrat, Mr Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, to allow the contestants a last chance for a negotiated settlement.

“Having considered the detailed arguments advanced in these cases, we are of the view that the special leave petitions deserve to be dismissed. Accordingly, we hereby pass the following order: the SLPs ... stand dismissed,” said the chief justice of India, reading the order from his diary as the court reassembled at 2 pm.

The only notable observation came from Justice Alam, who said: “We are running out of time because you woke up very late. It (the case) has been going on for the past 50 years.”

Justice Alam further asked: “Why were you quiet all these years. Why is this petition only before the judgment is to be pronounced?”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jagan drops his father’s style of delivering speech

On the 17th day of his Odarpu yatra, the Kadapa MP, Jagan Mohan Reddy, has changed his style of delivering speeches. Visiting villages in Ballikurva and Martur mandals of Prakasam district, the Kadapa MP took to speaking in very fast bursts very different from the slow speed with long pauses that he adopted earlier on in imitation of his father, the late YSR.

The new style of speaking will have a wider appeal for women and the young, according to political analysts. After an overnight stay in Konanki, Mr Reddy resumed his yatra by offering flowers before the statue of YSR at the zilla parishad high school in Konanki on Thursday morning. He then went to Nagaraju Palli Tanda and offered prayers at Anjaneya Swamy temple.

Banjara tribals gave him a warm welcome with a traditional dance. Jagan claimed that every farmer will remember YSR whenever he switches on the motor that works the pump that provides free power for his fields.

Shoaib caught tampering with ball

Pakistan’s beleaguered cricket team was hit by yet another allegation on their ill-fated England tour, this time a UK newspaper publishing photographs to claim that fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar had tampered with the ball in the fifth and final one-dayer against England on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail published photographs of Akhtar allegedly “running his left thumb along the ball’s seam before dropping the ball on the ground and standing on it with his spiked right boot” in the 41st over of England’s inning before bowling to Paul Collingwood.

There was no reaction to the claim made by the newspaper by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday.

The end of the Pakistan tour of England has put the focus back on the outcome of the Scotland Yard investigation into illegal spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test match between Pakistan and England last month. Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer and bowler Wahab Riaz have been questioned by the Met police.

The International Cricket Council has already suspended Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer pending an inquiry.

The relationship between the two cricket teams deteriorated sharply since the first round of spot-fixing allegations surfaced.

The lowest point came when England batsman Jonathan Trott and Pakistan bowler Wahab Riaz were involved in an altercation at nets before start of the fourth one-day international at Lord’s on Monday afternoon.

Jaipal, Gill take over to clean up Kalmadi mess

In a last ditch-attempt to save the Commonwealth Games, due to start here on October 3, the Centre has finally decided to move in. Marginalising the controversial head of the Games organising committee, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, two Cabinet ministers — Mr S. Jaipal Reddy (urban development) and Mr M.S. Gill (sports) — are now expected to oversee all the preparations for the Games in the remaining time left and clean up the mess.

The snub to Mr Kalmadi became evident as neither he nor any OC member was called for a high-level meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence on Thursday evening. Those present included, besides these two Cabinet members, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, national security adviser Shivshankar Menon and Union home secretary G.K. Pillai.

It has also been decided that the Prime Minister will not meet the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Mr Michael Fennell, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday amid reports of mounting glitches surrounding Games preparations.

It has been conveyed to the Games organisers that in case Mr Fennell has any query he could meet the Cabinet Secretary, Mr K.M. Chandrashekhar, or the urban development minister.

At the meeting, Ms Sheila Dikshit was also asked to press in all available Delhi government resources to spruce up the CWG Village.

Divided SC has Ayodhya verdict put off by 5 days

As the government had its fingers crossed on the sensitive Ayodhya issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the pronouncement of the Allahabad high court judgment on the title suit by Hindus and Muslims for the ownership of the 2.77 acres of land on which the demolished Babri Masjid stood.

The interim stay was granted by a division bench comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale till September 28 despite sharp differences between them on entertaining a petition by Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, one of the parties to the suit, for deferment of the verdict.

While Justice Raveendra was not inclined to entertain the petition, saying “if in 50 years you have not been able to settle the dispute despite hundreds of opportunities, there is no reason for allowing the issue to remain as a festering wound,” but Justice Gokhale said though there might be little chance of the negotiations to succeed, “yet if there is even one per cent chance, why not it be given a try?”

“If it is postponed for some time, what is the prejudice? There may not be change in the stand of the parties, but what is the harm to give a chance. You will be the first people to blame us if there is (any) consequences (of the verdict),” Justice Gokhale told senior advocates Anoop George Chaudhary and Ravi Shankar Prasad, opposing the deferment.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

APSRTC to set right killer buses

Driving behind an APSRTC bus comes with its own perils. The APSRTC fleet is besieged with myriad problems like malfunctioning indicators and defective tail lamps that create problems on road as bus drivers often have to use hand signals which the motorists behind can’t see. Also drivers coming from the opposite direction get confused when the buses turn.

Mr T. R. S. Mukund, a senior service engineer said, “The indicator lamps don’t blink, which lead to accidents. The drivers sometimes show hand signals, but it is not possible every time to watch out for the hand.”

Mr N. Narayan Murty, a businessman said, “I travel by car and sometimes when buses take an unexpected turn it result in accidents. The accident might be a minor one but it is not safe to follow an APSRTC bus.”

Non-functioning tail lamps and brake lamps are also some of the problem areas.

A college student, Mr Narendra Reddy, said, “During the night tail lamps don’t function and you never know when the bus is going to stop. So there are chances of the vehicle behind colliding into the bus.”

Admitting to the problem, Mr Purushottam Naik, the regional manager of RTC, city region, said, “We are in the process of rectifying the problem and a special drive for lights is been carried out. In the coming few days things are going to be fine.”

Other problems have also surfaced regarding fitness tests, pollution control and braking system.

Responding to the cases, Mr Ravindra Babu, regional manager for Ranga Reddy region, said, “The APSRTC conducts fitness tests on all buses every year and a smoke test every month. We are ensuring that all buses meet the standards. We are also focusing on the braking system,” he added.

Laddu ‘fixing’ mars auction

The auction of the popular Balapur Ganesh laddu held in Balapur village of Ranga Reddy district on Wednesday was marred by allegations of “laddu-fixing”.

Though the auction fetched a record `5.35 lakh for the 21-kg laddu — `25,000 more than the successful bid amount last year — Ms G. Saritha, a city-based realtor, alleged that the laddu was given to the second-highest bidder. She said that she had bid `3.5 lakh and was willing to go even higher.

Mr Kodali Sreedhar, a resident of Miyapur and native of Bodhan in Niamabad district, was declared the winner of the auction by Balapur Ganesh Utsav Samithi President Mr K. Niranjan Reddy. “It’s a dream-come-true for me. For the past 20 years, it had been my dream to bid and win this auspicious laddu. I am happy and pray to Lord Vinayaka that he blesses us all with health, wealth and success,” said Mr Sreedhar, who heads a private travel agency.

Ms Saritha contested the decision of the organisers to announce Mr Sreedhar as the winner. “I bid `5.5 lakh and was willing to bid higher. But I was shocked that the auctioneers announced the name of one Mr Kodali Sreedhar as the winner for `5.35 lakh. They did it deliberately though I was bidding right there at the spot. It is clear that the Balapur Ganesh Utsav Samithi had finalised the name of the winner of the auspicious laddu even before the auction began,” she complained.

Let’s have a T-party, TRS chief tells CEOs

Adopting a suave avatar, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, on Wednesday gave a pep-talk to industry captains nervous about the state’s bifurcation and promised to roll out the red carpet for them in the proposed Telangana.

Making a power point presentation at the closed-door interactive session organised by the International Market Assessment’s (IMA) India CEO Forum, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao asked top executives of over 100 firms not to be unduly perturbed by the present volatile situation.

“The suspense will end soon,” he said. “Telangana, with its decentralised administrative setup and committed political will, aided with vast wealth of natural resources and human resources, will emerge as strong economic hub of the country. The development will go beyond Hyderabad.”

CEOs of DuPont India, Apollo Hospitals, SKS Micro Finance and dozens of other firms were all attention as Mr Chandrasekhar Rao made a strong pitch for Telangana as an international investment destination.

The TRS leader said Telangana was not a new state but one that was being “reinstated”. “Much before the forceful merger with Andhra region, Telangana already had an atmosphere and economic infrastructure conducive to industrialisation,” he reminded. “Hyderabad as capital of Telangana will continue to build and progress further. There need not be any apprehensions regarding this.”

He cleverly downplayed comparisons with Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand and pointed out that unlike them, Telangana had been exposed to industrialisation right from the Nizam’s era.

The short-sightedness, lethargy and corruption of successive governments had resulted in the State not realising its full industrial potential compared to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, he said.

“When Tata Motors decided to leave West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh had a golden opportunity to start a major automotive manufacturing unit here but before the elephant (AP government) could even move, the eagle (Gujarat and its Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi) grabbed the opportunity,’’ he said, raising laughter among the CEOs.

When business leaders asked him about the likely situation after December 31, Mr Chandrasekhar Rao said he expected the the Srikrishna Commission to re-launch the process to carve out Telangana.

“If not, a strong agitation would be inevitable,” he said, while urging CEOs to take a long-term view.

CWG false ceiling crashes

Adding more disgrace to India’s attempts at holding the Commonwealth Games, a day after the footbridge collapsed near Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday, a false ceiling at the newly-constructed weightlifting stadium at the same venue also partially caved in on Wednesday morning.

Thankfully, however, there were no injuries in the incident which took place at 8 am while a joint team of Delhi government and CWG organising committee officials were inspecting the venue. As India’s image continues to take a hit globally over the Games, the president of the CWG Federation, Mr Michael Fennell, is making an emergency visit to New Delhi on Thursday. He is expected to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to save the Games.

2 teachers in the dock for kids’ abuse

A Telugu teacher of Bengarupalem village near Tirupati faced the wrath of students for misbehaving with a Class IX girl student while villagers conducted a rasta roko in Nizamabad after the principal of a private school thrashed a Class II student giving him bleeding injuries.

Subramanyam, 46, Telugu teacher of ZP High School in Bangarupalem asked the girl student to stay back when she was about to go home for lunch.

The girl entered the vacant classroom. But the teacher caught her from behind and started fondling her. The frightened girl shrieked and escaped the teacher’s embrace. She ran to the staff room and complained to other teachers.

Some of the teachers allegedly tried to hush up the incident but the agitated girl rushed home and brought her parents.

Students and parents gathered in the school compound and attacked the teacher. When he tried to flee, the mob caught hold of him and handed him over the police. The police took him into custody and started an investigation.

Meanwhile, the residents of Tekrial village in Kamareddy mandal of Nizamabad staged a three-hour rasta-roko after Mr Anjaneyulu, principal of New Sadhana High School at Kamareddy, mercilessly thrashed an eight-year-old student, Balu. He suffered severe injuries. Sources said that Balu had gone out of the school bus on Monday morning to relieve himself. The bus sped off without him and he arrived late in school. For this “crime”, Anjaneyulu called the boy to his room on Tuesday and beat him with a ruler as punishment.

The boy suffered severe injuries and bled. His angry parents, accompanied by other villagers, staged a rasta roko demanding that the principal be handed over to them. ABVP leaders joined the protest and demanded action against the principal.

MPs want cut in Kashmir troops

The Centre is expected to consider significant reduction of security personnel in civilian areas in Kashmir after the all-party delegation, which returned to the Capital on Wednesday after a two day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, submits its report to the Union home ministry.

The government sources disclosed that majority of the political parties took the view that there is a need for “visible” reduction of security forces especially in residential areas within the Valley to stop the alienation of people. This seems to have emerged as the topmost priority for the Centre which is keen to initiate confidence building measures to stem the crisis.

Sources said that a decision on dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is unlikely to happen anytime soon. However, a redeployment of security forces in the Valley is on the cards.

The all-party delegation is expected to meet again in the Capital to evolve a response which can then be placed before the home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram. The home ministry is expected to take the proposals of the all-party delegation to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for a final view.

Government sources said the parleys between the leaders of national parties and the separatists in the Valley has been a “positive” development.

“While the political outfits’ demand for a dialogue with tall sections and political forces in J&K has been met, the separatists on their part cannot complain that their views have not been heard,” an official said.

The delegation has heard views of the people and both sides are satisfied with the discussions, he added.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teacher breaks student’s hand

A woman physical education teacher thrashed two Class X students breaking the arm of one of them and bruising the finger of the other at a Zilla Parishad government high school at Siddarampuram on Saturday.

The news came to light only on Monday when angry parents staged a protest in front of school demanding the teacher’s suspension. Sources said that Ms K. Anitha, a newly-appointed physical education teacher, had asked her students to take part in a drill on Saturday.

However, the two students, A. Harish and Y. Suresh of S. Kondapuram, requested her to excuse them saying that they were ill. This provoked the teacher who thrashed them mercilessly. When the terrified students reached home, the parents found that Harish had a fracture in his arm and Suresh was nursing a wound on his finger.

Though the parents went to school to question the teacher on Saturday evening, she had left by then. The parents then took the boys to the local doctor for treatment.

5 MPs fuelled T fire, say mantris

A group of ministers from Telangana on Monday made a scathing attack on five Congress MPs from the region, terming them agents of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

The ministers, Mr D. Nagender, Mr M. Mukesh Goud and Mr D. Rajanarasimha said the MPs Mr Madhu Yashki, Mr G. Sukhender Reddy, Mr M. Jagannadham, Mr G. Vivekananda and Mr S. Satyanarayana were implementing the agenda of the TRS and damaging the interests of the Congress.

Sources said the ministers raised the issue in the Cabinet and urged the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah rein in the MPs. Otherwise they would be left with no choice but to bring to the notice of the high command the “highly undisciplined and objectionable” behaviour of the MPs, said the ministers.

Mr Rosaiah agreed with the concerns expressed by the ministers and said that party leaders should abide by the high command’s decision to leave the Telangana issue to Justice Srikrishna panel and behave as representatives of the entire state till the Centre took a decision.

Mr Goud said these MPs had either “descended from abroad” like Mr Yashki or defected from the TD.

MPs reach out to top Kashmir separatists

The separatist Hurriyat leaders may have wanted to have nothing to do with the visiting all-party delegation led by the Union home minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, having announced their decision to not meet it.

But all didn’t seem lost as some delegation members reached out to both Hurriyat hardliner, Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani, as also its moderate face, Mr Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and met them within hours of landing here.

And thus were taken a few tentative but significant steps in at least trying to have some sort of engagement with the separatists and also the moderates during the extremely troubled times that the Kashmir Valley has been witnessing over the last three months.

Over 100 people have died in the Valley since early June, a majority of them young boys in their teens even as violence in the Valley continues unabated. Some delegation members also called on the JKLF chief, Mr Yasin Malik, who too had declared on Monday morning that he would not meet the all-party team.

While the PDP leader, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, stayed away from the meeting, a delegation from her party did go and demanded “out-of-the-box thinking” to resolve the Kashmir problem.

Earlier, the 39-member delegation led by Mr Chidambaram arrived here on Monday in what is being touted as a bid by the political class to ascertain the ground situation in the turmoil-ridden Kashmir Valley.

The delegation probably had the first taste of the situation as it travelled through deserted streets of curfew-bound Srinagar.

While the Hurriyat hawk, Mr Geelani had announced his decision to not participate in the all-party meeting some days ago, Mr Mirwaiz had announced it only on Monday morning along with Mr Yasin Malik, both having got the invitation only on Sunday evening.

Ironically, both Mr Geelani and Mr Mirwaiz are now under house arrest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

City, Delhi put on high alert

The city has been put on high alert following the shooting incident near Jama Masjid in Delhi in which two Taiwanese nationals were injured.

After Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility of the attack, the Commissioner of Police, Mr A.K. Khan, reviewed the security arrangements with the top police officers and anti-sabotage checks were intensified at Ganesh pandals.

“Since the Ganesh festival is on and the immersions are scheduled for September 22, we are taking no chances. There is a country-wide alert issued for the Commonwealth Games. Indian Mujahideen (IM) had also carried out the twin explosions in the city. So we have to be alert,” said an official of state Intelligence department. IM stated in an e-mail that Sunday’s incident was a revenge for the Kashmir killings by security forces and the Batla House encounter.

The police also said IM might have recruited many new cadres across the country and Hyderabad was not being ruled out as a recruiting ground.

KCR twists T-line on jobs for locals

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, turned the T-line upside down, stating that everyone born in Telangana would have all rights to government jobs when the region gets statehood.

The new diktat means that a child of a person belonging to either Andhra or Rayalaseema will be considered a Telanganite if he is born in the region.

This is seen as a deviation from the stand of pro-statehood parties which defined a Telanganite as a person who belongs to the region.

Faced with protests from pro-statehood parties, Mr Rao said he would “give his life” to support his stand.

Participating in a TV debate late on Saturday night, Mr Rao declared that those born in Telangana would have all rights to jobs and political posts in the new state. He called those opposing his new view as “fools” and “idiots”.

Telangana lawyers and different joint action committees were not amused by this sudden deviation by the TRS chief.

Some statehood units have threatened to stage protests to force Mr Rao to abandon his stand.

During their recent agitation, Telangana lawyers had been demanding that the government remove some names from the list of Telangana law officers, alleging that they had come from other regions long back and had settled here, and therefore could not be treated as Telangana locals.

This had started a debate on who is an “original” Telanganite, and who is not.

Militants fire at tourists in Delhi, set off bomb in car, spread CWG scare

With the 2010 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony exactly a fortnight away, an already security-conscious Delhi received a sudden scare on Sunday morning with two unidentified men on a motorcycle firing several rounds at a stationary minibus carrying several foreigners close to Gate No. 3 of the historic Jama Masjid in the walled city.

Two of them, identified as Taiwanese nationals, were injured in the firing, and one is in critical condition in hospital.

A red alert has been sounded across Delhi following the incident.

The Union home ministry is closely monitoring the situation, and the Delhi police and the intelligence agencies have swung into action to identify those responsible.

The motorcycle has been traced to one Yatinder, a resident of Nangloi.

Three hours later, a Maruti 800 went up in flames when a “crudely-circuited” pressure cooker bomb exploded metres away from Jama Masjid, but luckily no one was injured.

The owner of the car, Bobby, and the motorcycle owner, Yatinder, have been detained for questioning. The gunmen are yet to be apprehended.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Justice Reddy quits, court to crush T-stir

As the Andhra Pradesh High Court descended to chaos with the advocates coming to blows in courtrooms, a pained Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy on Thursday offered to step down from his post.

Justice Nagarjuna Reddy has been taking flak for mishandling the violent agitation by Telangana advocates in the absence of Chief Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakru. Fellow judges criticised him when they met on Wednesday to take stock of the situation in the wake of the indefinite fast by Telangana advocates demanding regional quota in postings.

Sources said the Judge submitted his resignation letter in the full court meeting called by Chief Justice Kakru, who reached the city after cutting short his leave on the advice of the Chief Justice of India. The meeting unanimously resolved to deal the situation with an iron hand.

Expressing anguish at the way the situation had developed, Justice Nagarjuna Reddy told the CJ that he wanted to quit the post and requested that his resignation be forwarded to the President. However, Justice Kakru did not accept the resignation and assured he would look into the matter.

In his resignation letter Justice Nagarjuna Reddy said he was disturbed at the happenings in the court in the last three days and pointed out that innocent advocates suffered from attacks by anti-social elements.

Meanwhile, the full court decided to identify the persons involved in the obstruction of the proceedings of the court on September 14, 15 and 16 and take appropriate criminal and civil action. Miscreants who damaged the High Court’s property would also be punished.

It also constituted committee with five judges to frame rules to regulate the conduct of advocates in courts and resolved not to allow any kind of processions, dharnas, rallies and slogans on the court premises and to handle any violation by taking stern action.

Bookie claims all Pak-England Tests were fixed

Law enforcement agencies here are searching for an unidentified bookmaker, who appeared on a television show and claimed that all the Tests between Pakistan and England last month were fixed.

The bookmaker, whose face was hidden, appeared in a talk show and claimed that there are two yet-to-be-caught players present in the Pakistan team who had been involved in match-fixing in the past.

The bookmaker also claimed that players were purchased by big bookmakers for bigger

His claims come amid the raging controversy of alleged spot-fixing by the suspended
Pakistani trio of Test skipper Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir during
the same series.

Reliable source said soon after the interview of the bookmaker was aired, the law
enforcement agencies got into action and were trying to locate and identify the man.

"The police and FIA are making inquiries about the man who has gone into hiding now.
He is a bookmaker from Karachi," a source told PTI.

The bookmaker also alleged that some well-known players in the past had been involved
in fixing matches and took the names of two top spinners and an opening batsman.

"It is a wrong impression that fixing deals are done on mobiles. Majority of the business
is done on landline numbers and rates for spot fixing and match fixing are initiated from England," he claimed.

"India is the biggest market for bookmakers and spot fixing is done the most in India," he added.

He claimed that when fixing was done, selected bookmakers made a killing by knowing
in advance which player will perform in what way.

"It is called player fixing and players are brought for heavy sums."

He also made the startling allegation that there were agents working on behalf of officials in the cricket board who were also making money out of fixed matches and spot fixing.

He said top bookmakers operated through agents who lured and coordinated with

A former senior player, when contacted, said it was hard to give credence to the man's
claims as he was not identified at any stage.

"If he is telling the truth then it is for the law enforcement agencies to locate him and arrest him and get information out of him."

India, Pak, Afghanistan and 17 others on US' drug 'Major List'

The US President, Mr Barack Obama, has identified India, Pakistan and Afghanistan,
and 17 other countries as a major drug transit or a major illicit drug- producing nations of the world. The other countries on the list includes the Bahamas, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. A country's presence on the 'Majors List' is not necessarily an adverse reflection of its government's counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the United States, President Obama said in a memorandum sent to the Secretary of State in this regard. "One of the reasons that major drug transit or illicit drug producing countries are placed on the list is the combination of
geographic, commercial and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced
despite the concerned government's most assiduous enforcement measures," the
President said. Mr Obama designated Bolivia, Burma, and Venezuela as countries that
have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations
under international counter-narcotics agreements. However, he continued support for
bilateral programs in Bolivia and limited programs in Venezuela arguing that these are
vital to the national interests of the US. In his memorandum, Mr Obama notes that
Afghanistan continues to be the world's largest producer of opium poppies and a major
source of heroin. While the country has been making progress in reduction of poppy
cultivation, Obama said, the country must demonstrate even greater political will and
programmatic effort to combat opium trafficking and production nationwide. "Although Brazil no longer qualifies as a major drug transit country to the US, narcotics control in this country which occupies such a large landmass in the hemisphere is of serious concern," he said, adding drug traffickers continue to move significant quantities of cocaine through West Africa.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

AP refutes T-lawyers’ allegations

Clearing doubts about the alleged irregularities in law officers’ postings, the state information minister, Dr Geeta Reddy, said lawyers from the Telangana region got the majority of the posts.

Refuting allegations that injustice was meted out to the region in appointing of law officers, Dr Reddy released statistics of region-wise appointments.

Of 39 government pleader posts, Andhra got 13, Telangana 18 and Rayalaseema 8.

Of the 72 assistant government pleader posts, Andhra region got 26, Telangana 33 and Rayalaseema 13.

Of the 132 standing counsel posts, only 59 were filled up till date of which 26 went to the Telangana region while Andhra got only 16 and Rayalaseema 17.

“The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, appointed Mr Deshpande on Tuesday as Public Prosecutor. He is from Adilabad. There is no truth in allegations that Telangana was neglected,” she said.

The minister for law, Mr M. Venkata Ramana, pointed out that the government would give equal representation to the three regions while posting additional advocate general.

The minister requested the lawyers to maintain restrain and uphold professional values.

The Cabinet sub-committee comprising law, information and forest ministers had met on September 7 to discuss the alleged irregularities in postings of law officers and found there were no such instances.

“The committee invited Telangana lawyers and their office bearers to talk. There were no irregularities in the appointments, and if Telangana lawyers have any information proving otherwise, they can submit it to the committee. We are ready to look into it,” said Dr Geeta Reddy.

High Court under T siege, judges attacked

The atmosphere at the Andhra Pradesh High Court was highly charged on Wednesday as Telangana lawyers went on a rampage following a boycott call given by the Telangana Advocates’ Joint Action Committee.

A division Bench described the incident as a Constitutional breakdown as agitators damaged furniture and equipment in the court halls, including the Registrar-General’s chamber. They did not even spare the judges and hurled law books and placards at the Benches.

Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao and two members of his personal staff sustained injuries when the agitators hurled the All India Law Reporter books at the Bench.

A bench comprising of Justices V. Eswaraiah and Noushad Ali directing the Chief Secretary, DGP and the city police commissioner to take immediate steps to maintain law and order. Sources said the judges passed a four-page order in their chamber and sent it to the registrar with an instruction to communicate it to the authorities. To make matter worse, prominent Telangana Rashtra Samiti leaders also reached the High Court to express their solidarity and support to the agitating lawyers.

JNTU lecturer accused of harassment

The situation was tense at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University College on Wednesday following allegations of sexual harassment against Fine Arts HoD of Painting, Mr Stanley Suresh. The students staged a dharna on the premises and lodged a complaint at the Humayun Nagar police station.

According to sources, students walked out of the classes and staged a dharna at around 11.30 am on Wednesday. They alleged that Mr Suresh had been molesting girls and harassing boys by sending them out of the class if they talked with the girls.

“Some of the students gave a representation. However, they have mentioned that he was previously involved in several cases, but didn’t mention any recent ones. They stated that several girls had dropped out of the college as they were unable to endure his torture,” said Humayun Nagar PI, Mr P. Madhukar Reddy.

Sohrabuddin case witness faked shootout, friend questioned: Police

Azam Khan, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing, tried to fabricate a story about an attempt on his life by shooting himself in the shoulder, say police. He, his friend and cousin are being questioned.

Khan, who had given evidence in the killing of Tulsiram Prajapati — a witness to the alleged staged shootout of Sohrabuddin, had on Tuesday claimed that "masked gunmen on motorcycles" attacked him while he was driving his car. He had sustained injuries in the right palm and shoulder.

His friend Iqbal who was with Khan told police during interrogation that Khan had fabricated the story about an attempt on his life.

Khan shot himself to come into limelight and seek police protection, police say.

"Our investigations reveal that Khan fired at himself and requested Iqbal to cook up a fake story," a senior police official said on the condition of anonymity.

Khan told Iqbal about the plan before the incident, police said.

After shooting himself he asked Iqbal to inform police that two unidentified people had attacked him and also sought the help of his cousin to dispose of the weapon, police say.

Police say there were different versions by Iqbal and Khan about the incident. Police have also failed to recover the weapon used in the attack.

"There was no witness to the incident, which is surprising," official added. "We are questioning Khan, his cousin and Iqbal."

Prajapati was killed in an alleged staged shootout in Gujarat's Banaskantha district Dec 28, 2006, over a year after Sohrabuddin was killed on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

SBI may extend teaser rates again

The country’s largest lender State Bank of India may extend its popular teaser rate scheme for home loans, which is scheduled to expire on September 30. Under this scheme, borrowers get home loans at a cheaper rate for the first few years.

According to SBI managing director, Mr S.K. Bhattacharyya, “We are getting an overwhelming response for home loans. It is a very good scheme. We feel that the eight per cent rate of interest on home loans is viable and that’s why it has been continued.”

When asked if the scheme would be extend further after September 30, the SBI managing director retorted back: “Why should we not continue it?”

Mr Bhattacharyya was speaking on the sidelines of a programme organised by Ficci here on Monday.

Under the current terms and conditions, SBI charges eight per cent on all home loans for the first year. For the next two years, the interest rate is nine per cent. This means that on a Rs 20 lakh loan with a life of 20 years, your monthly instalment will work out to about Rs 16,700 for the first year. For the second year, it will Rs 17,995.

Mr Bhattacharyya, however, also made it clear that the final call would be taken by SBI’s ALCO meeting in the next few days.

He said that SBI plans to earn 20 per cent of its income from overseas operations by 2013.

I was duped, claims hameed

Pakistan cricketer Yasir Hameed, whose interview with News of the World tabloid created another controversy for his country, claimed late on Sunday night that he was duped into making match-fixing claims against his teammates.

Hameed, who met Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt and high commissioner Wajed Shamsul Hasan on Sunday, said he was approached by a man who he believed was offering him a sponsorship deal and did not know the conversation was being recorded.

“When I was having dinner with a friend at the Holiday Inn Nottingham on the evening of Monday August 30, 2010, I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etihad Airways,” Hameed said.

Hameed said he had only now discovered the man was the News of the World’s investigating editor Mazher Mahmood.

He claimed that the person, who identified himself as Abid Khan, had recorded their “conversation without me knowing about it.”

“Naturally, I was interested in what he had to say and we began a conversation,” Hameed said in a three-page statement here.

“He offered me at least £50,000 for the deal.”

Hameed said the man, who identified himself as Abid Khan, asked for the names of four more Pakistan players who may be interested in a similar deal and then asked him about the match-fixing allegations.

“As I saw him as a friend and a potential agent I naively started to answer his questions,” Hameed said. “As far as I recall, I only told him whatever I had already read in the newspapers about the matter,” said Hameed, who had initially denied giving any interview to the tabloid.

He said the chat “was largely inaccurately reported in the News of the World.”

The cricketer, who is under immense pressure for claiming that almost every game was fixed, said that the tabloid tried to bribe him to implicate his colleagues, skipper Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, in match-fixing.

“It seems that Abid had a hidden camera which I was totally unaware of. Two days later Abid then called me and offered me £25,000 to give a statement against the three current players under investigation, which I immediately refused and put the phone down,” he said.

He said that the tabloid had also tried to intimidate him over the issue. “Subsequently, I received a text message from Abid Khan from his number 078 6010 9876, which I found to be intimidating,” he said.

The text message that Hameed received revealed: “Pls call me. Incidentally you are in video drinking wine and saying all the quotes attributed to you. Denying it is just stupid as we will be releasing the video to tv. Better that you stand up and speak the truth!!!!”

Hameed said that he did not react to this message at all and contacted the cricket board officials. “However, I decided not to respond or react. I brought the matter to the attention of Pakistan Cricket Board,” his statement added.

Yasir Hameed
I was having dinner with a friend at the Holiday Inn Nottingham on August 30, 2010, when I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etihad Airways.

Blaze hits landmark Madina Hotel

The first floor of the 60-year-old Madina Hotel, a city landmark, was damaged in a major fire that broke out in a store adjacent to it on Monday morning.

The flames engulfed the store and gutted the New Madina Bag Works at Patthar Gatti in Charminar. By the time fire engines rushed to the spot the flames spread to the first floor of the Madina hotel, famous for its biryani, tea and, in this season, haleem.

Four fire tenders battled the flames for one-and-a-half hours before they contained the fire.

The traffic jam caused by a crowd of disaster tourists prevented the fire brigade from reaching the area in time.

A fire engine stationed at the High Court complex 500 metres was not deployed. Another from the Moghalpura fire station took over an hour to reach the spot.

The hotel stands at one of the busiest intersections in the old city, and traffic was jammed for two hours.

Police and fire department officials suspect that the fire was triggered at 11 am by a short circuit.

Nobody was injured as the fire started moments after the shops had opened for the day.

Mr G.V. Raghu, GHMC chief city planner, said he had asked officials to inspect the structural stability of the hotel. Any decision on the future of the hotel will be taken after he receives the report. “It is not in the list of historical monuments,” he said.

Congress MPs fight over Group-I exams September 7th, 2010

The Congress MPs from different regions on Monday started to settle scores on the controversial Group-1 prelims conducted by APPSC on Sunday.

The senior Congress MP from Anantapur, Mr Anantha Venkatarami Reddy, said Seema Andhra Congress MPs would meet on September 9 in Hyderabad and complain to the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, against the rude behaviour of Congress MPs from the Telangana region.

Mr Venkatarami Reddy told mediapersons that the Telangana MPs defied government rules and tried to prevent the exam. “They also criticised the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, and tried to destabilise the government,” he said.

The MP said that despite pledging loyalty to Mrs Gandhi, they had joined hands with parties that were anti-Congress. He also said he had definite information about the Telangana Congress MPs who had helped the TRS win the bypolls.

The Vijayawada MP, Mr Lagadapati Rajagopal, also addressed a media conference in the evening and appealed to all sections of the people not to fall prey to the disinformation campaign launched by ‘vested interest’ groups.

He said some people wanted to create rift among different regions in the name of alleged injustice to the Telangana region.

Meanwhile, the Telangana Congress MPs had a dinner meeting at the residence of Pedapalli MP, Mr G. Vivek, on Monday night and decided to write to Mrs Sonia Gandhi to direct the CM to cancel the exam.

PM lays down policy rekha for judges

Days after the Supreme Court rapped the Centre for not distributing free foodgrains to the poor, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said the apex court should not get into “the realm of policy formulation”.

Dr Singh’s response came during an interaction with newspaper editors at his 7 Race Course Road residence here on Monday.

The court’s directive came last week when the food minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, got a rap on his knuckles for stating that its order on distribution of free foodgrains to the poor, instead of allowing it to rot, was difficult to implement.

On Monday, Dr Singh rose to Mr Pawar’s defence, saying where policy issues are concerned these should “remain the concern of policymakers and the government of the day”. Stating that he respected the “sentiments” behind the SC directive, Dr Singh asked how free foodgrains could be distributed to 37 per cent of the population which lives below the poverty line.

He asserted it is not possible to provide free foodgrains. The PM pointed out that providing free foodgrains would destroy the incentive that farmers have to produce more. If there were no foodgrains available, there would be nothing to distribute.

He said: “I do recognise that food should be available to people below the poverty line at concessional prices. We have not allowed any increase in the issue price of foodgrains to people below the poverty line since 2004.”

Republicans talk about me like a dog, says Obama

US President, Mr Barack Obama, has caused quite a flutter by accusing his Republican opponents of talking about him "like a dog" at a rally to launch his embattled Democratic party's election campaign.

"Some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time and they're not always happy with me," he said addressing a union crowd on
Labour Day on Monday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"They talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks, but it's true," he told
the union crowd straying from his prepared remarks to take a more aggressive tone in
campaign mode.

"They're betting that between now and November, you'll (voters) come down with a case of amnesia," Mr Obama said in the speech less than two months ahead of midterm
elections where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are on stake.

"They (Republicans) think you'll forget what their agenda did to this country. They think
you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped
devastate our middle class and drive our economy into a ditch. And now they're asking
you for the keys back," he said with some bitterness, alluding to the recent tirade
launched against him by his critics.

Day-long strike hits life in WB, Kerala

Workers affiliated to central trade unions on Tuesday went on a day-long industrial strike across the country to protest against price rise, alleged violation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs disrupting normal life in Left-ruled West Bengal and Kerala. Elsewhere, life remained unaffected by the strike which comes two months after a nation-wide bandh called by BJP and Left parties against the UPA Government's economic policies and the spiralling prices. Workers from sectors including coal, power, telecom, banks, insurance, defence, port and dock, road transport, petroleum and construction are participating in the countrywide strike under the banner of AITUC, CITU, HMS, AIUTUC, TUCC, AICCTU, UTUC and Congress-affiliated INTUC. Bank employees, mainly belonging to public sector, cooperative and rural banks, joined the strike opposing FDI in the banking sector and grant of licences to private banks. The strike disrupted flight operations and road transport and business and industries in West Bengal and Kerala. The call for the strike was given by Coordination Committee of the Central Trade Unions of which INTUC president, Mr G. Sanjeeva Reddy, is the convener. "Strike has begun all over the country. Those employed in private sector are also participating the strike in many places," AITUC general secretary and CPI MP, Mr Gurudas Dasgupta, said. Normal life was hit in West Bengal and Kerala with air and road transport remaining disrupted in the wake of the strike call which took the shape of a bandh in the two Left-ruled states. Flight operations to and from Kolkata were crippled as private airlines including Kingfisher, Indigo, Jet Airways and Spicejet together cancelled nearly 80 flights. However, Air India sources in Kolkata said their flight operations remained normal with the airline operating eight flights in the morning after the strike began. In Kerala, the strike was total in transport sector with buses, trucks and taxis keeping off the roads. However, the protest did not affect public utilities like power and water supply. Trains were also running without any disruption. In Tamil Nadu, the day-long strike evoked lukewarm response as normal life remained unaffected. But, flight services on the Chennai-Kolkata route were hit as six flights were cancelled. In a five-point charter, Trade unions have also demanded that disinvestment in public sectors be stopped and substantial investment for social security in the unorganised sector be made.

Monday, September 6, 2010

APPSC chief is leak leader, says KCR

The TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, branded the APPSC chairman, Mr Venkatarami Reddy, a “useless fellow” and “a leader of leaks”, and demanded the cancellation of Group-1 prelims in the wake of a reported question paper “leak”.

“Nowhere in the world are exams conducted at gun-point and by locking up exam centres. If the government does not cancel them the consequences will be severe. We are also examining legal options to force a cancellation,” said KCR.

“What great hurry is there for the government and APPSC for conducting the exam when the latter actually postponed the same twice earlier?” he asked.

OGH to get first emergency team

Osmania General Hospital will have India’s first Emergency Medicine Department recognised by the Medical Council of India, by the first quarter of 2011.

Besides the 60-bed EMD, trained emergency super-specialists (Code Blue Team) will be available 24x7 to attend to emergency cases within the crucial “golden hour”.

“Many more lives can be saved if an EMD is established in government hospitals which receive the maximum number of emergency patients – as many as 200 on some days,” said Dr Zafar Hashmi, resident medical officer and civil assistant surgeon at OGH.

The EMD includes a Code Blue Response Team consisting of a cardiologist, a nurse, a guard, an anaesthetist and an electrician.

Qualified emergency specialists holding an MD in emergency medicine will attend to patients within the first 10-60 minutes of any mishap and the gravity of the situation can be identified immediately. As a result of zero waiting and attending time and zero negligence, more emergency patients can be saved, says Dr Chandra Sheker, head of the department of anaesthesiology and critical care at OGH.

Emergency medicine is considered important enough to be integrated into the medical syllabus. Discussions have already been held with the vice chancellor of NTR University to develop it as an academic discipline. Dr Chandra Sheker has been appointed by the Academic Council to draft the curriculum.

Politicians eye hydel projects

After a gap of six years, the state government has decided to allow new mini hydel power projects once again and political leaders, cutting across party lines, are making a beeline to the irrigation department with a hope of bagging a few.

The mini hydel projects will come up on irrigation projects that have been completed over the last six years under Jalayagnam and the irrigation wing has decided to open major canals for setting up the mini hydel projects with capacities ranging from 0.5 mw to 5 mw.

The allocation of mini hydel projects had first started during Mr Chandrababu Naidu’s regime and had proved to be very profitable for those who had got licenses.

At that time the list of licensees included a former chief minister, a home minister and senior ministers and several public representatives. But when Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy took charge in 2004, he directed officials to stop new allotments.

Now with the irrigation department planning to open the canals for hydel power generation once again, political leaders are again showing an interest.

“We have constituted a committee to examine the issue. We have not taken a decision on this but will do so once the committee submits its report,” said irrigation secretary Mr Adityanath Das.

On an average, a single mega watt-capacity mini hydel project will generate revenues of around Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore for the promoters.

Some leaders met officials of APGenco and the irrigation department enquiring about the probable places where the mini hydel projects might come up.

There are as many as 11 mini hydel projects on the Nagarjuna Sagar right canal and political leaders are now eying the left canal of the project.

“In the last six years no new project was sanctioned and some projects were even cancelled. New projects will certainly increase power generation in the state,” said an MP who is in the race for a hydel project.

74 matches to pep up IPL show

The Indian Premier League governing council on Sunday unveiled a heavily-modified schedule for the 2011 season, diluting the existing home-and-away format for the games to make up for the addition of two new teams to the competition.

The 10 IPL franchises will be divided into two groups of five for the next three years with a total of 74 matches per season compared to 60 played this year.

In the new format, each team will play the other four in their group home and away, which means the league stage will consist of 40 matches. The three top teams from each group will then progress into another round of home and away matches, which will comprise 30 games, followed by the semi-finals, a third-place playoff and a final.

The 2011 season is tentatively scheduled to begin on April 2, five days after the World Cup ends.

Despite the change in scheduling, teams will get to play 14 home and away games — as they’ve been doing for the past three years — although in a slightly convoluted format. However, had the current format adopted as it is, the IPL-4 would have stretched to 94 matches.

Hameed blows the lid, says all matches fixed

Pakistan cricketer Yasir Hameed was on Sunday afternoon questioned at his country’s high commission in central London after a newspaper published details of an interview in which the opening batsman had claimed other Pakistani cricketers were involved in widespread match-fixing. The scandal, meanwhile, continued to grow bigger with reports emerging of a Sri Lankan player’s involvement as well.

Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ejaz Butt, high commissioner Wajed Shamsul Hasan and other senior officials questioned Hameed for more than two hours on Sunday, but they did not talk to the media or issue any statement on the fresh allegations against Pakistani cricketers made by the News of The World, a weekly tabloid.

Hameed, wearing jeans and a brown leather jacket, was summoned to the Pakistan high commission and reached at 2.30 pm, but it seems he was whisked out secretly from there as there was no sign of him there after 5.30 pm.

There was speculation that the remainder of Pakistan’s tour of England may be called off but no official confirmation till the time of going to press. The situation was expected to be clearer only after the meeting at the Pakistan high commission gave over.

Rosaiah passes PSC test amidst T-storm

The Rosaiah government heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday as the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) Group-I prelims went off without any major glitches.

The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, had been under pressure from various quarters, including own party legislators and ministers, to put off the prelims but barring stray incidents of violence, the exams, opposed vehemently by the Osmania University Joint Action Committee and various Telangana outfits and equivocally supported by the Seema-Andhra region, went off peacefully.

However, sporadic protests and heavy security marked the exam in Telangana districts. The exam centre in the B.Ed College at OU saw agitation as Telangana students managed to enter the hall, burn question papers and break windows. Some Congress MPs made the situation worse when they violated Section 144 and entered the OU campus.

The students also “leaked” the question paper by reading it out in front of the media.

The TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, demanded the cancellation of Group-1 prelims in the wake of a reported question paper “leak”.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Girl getting better, opening eyes

The doctors at OGH, who examied a girl who was declared ‘brain dead,’ said they had found her moving when she was brought in.

“After examining her condition, we realised that the girl was not brain dead. We found slight movements in her body. We put her on anti-venom and other medication. She is now on ventilator support. Her condition is improving and she is opening her eyes,” added Dr Sheker, who, along with his team is treating the teen.

“The doctors at the hospital in Nalgonda said there was nothing more to do and told us to pray to God. But we didn’t give up and brought her to Hyderabad,” said Ms Swaroopa’s, father Mr Ram Singh, a watchman.

Though still on ventilator-support, doctors feel there’s a fair chance of Ms Swaroopa’s survival. She, however, has to be in the respiratory intensive care unit for at least the next two to three days. But her case looks “hopeful,” OG doctors said.

It is suspected that the girl was declared “brain dead” so that her organs could be harvested, which has become a thriving medical business these days. As to whether Swaroopa’s case was a deliberate attempt for organ harvesting by the private hospital, OGH authorities refused to comment.

Drunk, mentally-ill man kills six without motive

Central Zone police arrested a psychopathic killer who murdered six persons in areas under the Narayanaguda, Nallakunta and Saifabad police station limits in the last six months.

The accused, Rama Chandra Rathore, 55, is a native of Gulbarga district in Karnataka. “He used to commit murders under the influence of alcohol and had no motive behind the killings,” said City Police Commissioner, Mr A.K. Khan.

The police said Rathore assaulted Y. Krishna Yadav, a 60-year-old watchman with a boulder on July 2. Krishna died while undergoing treatment in a private hospital. On July 7, he attacked G. Gopal, 60, and Anjaneya Manga 35, at Padma Colony in Nallakunta, while they were sleeping, and killed them.

On July 12, he murdered L. Tarun, 28, a supplier, in a hotel at Narayanaguda and killed a security guard, Ashok Kumar Jha, 45, on August 1 in Khairatabad. On August 28, he hurled a boulder at B. Naresh, a 19-year-old student from Barkatpura, killing him.

“After killing Naresh, Rathore took his cell phone and sold it to a person in the city. The police trapped the person to whom the cell phone was sold and from him got a description of Rama Chandra Rathore. As one of the vagabonds told us that he belongs to Gulbarga, we sent a team there and with the help of the local police were able to arrest him,” said Central Zone DCP Mr Akun Sabharwal.

“We found it very difficult to detect these six murder cases as there was no motive behind the murders,” said Mr Khan. “Rama Chandra Rathore also confessed to having committed thefts and robberies in the city and in Karnataka and Maharashtra. As similar cases were registered in Gulbarga town, we suspect Rathore’s hand behind them. However, we are investigating them,” said Mr Khan. It is learnt that Rathore, who lost his parents in childhood, was alone and mentally disturbed.

The Narayanguda police had already remanded a person in the murder case of G. Gopal and Anjaneya Manga. Mr Khan said the officials who made the arrest would be suspended if the arrested person is innocent.

KCR’s daughter plans cricket foray

The Telangana Jagruti, the cultural arm of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, is planning to make a big foray into cricket and other sports in the region to enlarge the parent party’s base.

According to sources, Telangana Jagruti, plans to establish cricket clubs in all 119 Assembly constituencies in the region. They said 12 of them will be established soon. The TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter and president of the Telangana Jagruti, Ms Kavita, has recently registered the Telangana Cricket Association and is apparently planning to make inroads into Hyderabad Cricket Association too.

Sources say that along with several other politicians, Ms Kavita is also aiming for one of the two nominated vice-president’s posts in the HCA. Though several politicians and bigwigs have their eyes set on the HCA, the recent elections have proved that the former test cricketer, Mr Shivlal Yadav’s team calls the shots in the association. Mr Yadav’s team defeated the Congress MP, Mr G. Vivekanand, and the Congress leader, Mr Kasani Gyaneshwar, in the HCA elections.

Since there are already 214 clubs under HCA, the entry of new clubs has been banned and this has become a hurdle for the TCA to get a foot-hold into HCA. Thus, in a bid to create its own lobby, T-activists now plan to float new clubs and bring pressure on HCA to accept affiliations.

Ms Kavita had met the Union agriculture minister and ICC chairman, Mr Sharad Pawar, and sought recognition of the TCA. Mr Pawar had reportedly told her that it was no easy task to get an affiliation since it involved huge funds and asked her to wait for some time. She also met BCCI vice-president, Mr Arun Jaitley, in this regard. There are also plans to float football, hockey, badminton and other sports clubs in the region.

T-parties go ahead with Sept. 5 bandh

The Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC) called for a ‘Telangana bandh’ on September 5 to thwart the attempt by the AP Public Service Commission to conduct the Group-I services preliminary exams across the state.

It also called for boycott of classes on September 4 in all the universities of the Telangana region. The Telangana Political Joint Action Committee (TPJAC) has extended support to the bandh. The TPJAC and OUJAC have been demanding 42 per cent quota for Telangana students in Group-I jobs and have threatened to disrupt the exam if APPSC goes ahead with the exam without agreeing to the demand.

However, the APPSC has decided to go ahead with the exam on September 5.

Pak defends tainted trio, hints at Indian hand in fixing saga

Pakistan High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Wajid S. Hassan, on Friday gave a new twist to the spot-fixing scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team, saying the three accused players were "innocent" and Indian bookmakers were involved in the whole murky episode.

"I found that all these three players were absolutely innocent. They were not involved, they have been taken for a ride and the agent (Mazhar Majeed) was the culprit, in the sense that he was responsible for defrauding some Asian bookies," Mr Hassan said.

"The British press says Asian but if they were from Pakistan they (British media) would have called Pakistanis, which means some Indian bookies were involved in it. This Majeed allegedly defrauded these Indian bookies and so the newspaper investigated this sort of sting operation through their sources here," he told a news channel.

Hassan's statement came even as the International Cricket Council had charged the three players — Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — with corruption offences and provisionally suspended them from all forms of the game pending a decision on the charges.

Succumbing to all round pressure, Pakistan had on Thursday dropped the tainted trio from the ODI series against England scandal but strongly defended them and vowed full support.

Refusing to accept that the three players were dropped in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, the Pakistan High Commissioner had said the trio had opted out.

"They are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further," Mr Hassan had said.

"Therefore, they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the rest of the matches until their names are cleared," he added.

Mr Hassan had also raised serious doubts on the authenticity of the News of the World's expose, saying, "What is the reputation of those people who have brought us this story?"

In an interview on BBC television, Mr Hassan had said, "We are not seeing on the video what the date is or what the time is."

"Do you have answers to these questions? The video wasn't timed or dated. It could have been filmed before or after the match, or at a different time."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

‘CM’ Geeta raises brows

The tourism minister, Ms J. Geeta Reddy’s urgent trip to Delhi on Wednesday triggered intense speculation in political corridors that she might be elevated to the post of Chief Minister or deputy Chief Minister soon.

Interestingly, the frenetic discussion on another succession saga was triggered in Congress circles on the eve of the death anniversary of the late Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.

Ms Geeta Reddy being summoned to Delhi when the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, was confined to his bed because of viral fever added spice to discussions.

However, the minister said from Delhi that the PCC chief, Mr D. Srinivas, had asked her to fly in immediately in order to sign the set of nomination papers from the state unit of the party proposing Ms Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.

“I came here since I was asked by the PCC president and nothing more should be read into it,” she said. “I will be in Delhi till Thursday afternoon and will reach the state capital by tomorrow evening to participate in the death anniversary observance of YSR.”

State kids to get health cards

All students of government schools in the state will be issued health cards with details of their medical status from October 2. They will also undergo monthly check-ups.

“Around 90 lakh students in the 5-15 age group can benefit from this scheme funded by the National Rural Health Mission and Sarvasiksha Abhiyan,” said the secretary (health and family welfare), Dr P.V.Ramesh.

Health cards issued to the students will have information on blood group, body mass index, date and details of immunisation programmes, information on supplementary nourishment and so on.

Officials said the scheme had been undertaken keeping in view the high rate of malnutrition among children and complaints about the inadequate quality of the mid-day meal.

“A cluster level medical officer will visit the schools every six months,” said Ms Anusha Bharadwaj, social development specialist (school health) from strategic planning and monitoring unit of AP health department. “Trained paramedics from PHCs will go to the schools every month to screen the children for various ailments including congenital heart diseases, asthma, dental and eye problems.”

The students would also be immunised against diphtheria and tetanus, she added. “De-worming tablets and iron and folic acid tablets for anaemia will also be given to the affected children regularly,” said Ms Bharadwaj.

School principals will keep the health cards and would also forward them regularly to the parents.
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