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N A T I O N

AI craft flouting Civil Aviation Rules
Pilot fails to file report on mishap
New Delhi, February 4
Even as Air India appears to be dragging its feet in providing clarifications to the Director General of Civil Aviation about the carrier’s violations of Civil Aviation Rules thereby endangering safety, an A-310 aircraft of its low cost subsidiary Air India Express was involved in a serious incident on the Daman-Cochin sector.

Sonia may visit Assam on February 11
New Delhi, February 4
Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to visit Assam for a day on February 11, kicking off the party’s campaign for the April-May assembly elections. According to a tentative programme, Mrs Gandhi will visit Guwahati, Barpeta and Tejpur where she will address public meetings, interact with party workers and inaugurate a hospital.

Factories polluting Ganga, HC seeks action
Lucknow, February 4
Giving impetus to a protest by sadhus against the pollution of the Ganga, the Allahabad High Court, responding to a PIL, has directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to release 450 cusecs of water into the river from the Naraura Barrage till further orders.


EARLIER STORIES

 

Daya Nayak's arrest stayed till Feb 7
Mumbai, February 4
Encounter specialist Daya Nayak won a reprieve from the Bombay High Court yesterday when it stayed the arrest of the police officer and his associates till February 7. Granting interim relief to Nayak, Judge V.M. Kanade of the court adjourned a plea by him seeking anticipatory bail.

Gawli likely to be arrested
Mumbai, February 4
Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli may be arrested after a polygraph test conducted on him in Bangalore last week. It indicated that he could be lying about his role in the conspiracy to kill film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar.

Ex-HC judge's house auctioned
Kolkata, February 4
Former Calcutta High Court judge Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee’s house at Salt Lake was auctioned today following the Supreme Court’s order and it was sold to Mr Pradip Murarka, a businessman at a reduced price of Rs 51 lakh against the valuer-assessed price of Rs 56 lakh: Rs 20 for the land and the remaining Rs 30 lakh for the two-storeyed building.

More police stations for Mau
Lucknow, February 4
Mau, recently devastated by communal violence, will soon get two new police stations and five new police posts. This was announced Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav at a function to mark Police Week today.

Hizbul conduit nabbed
New Delhi, February 4
The Delhi Police has arrested one Dubai-based Hizb-ul-Mujahideen conduit from a posh colony in South Delhi. The suspect has been identified as Nasir Safi Mir (36). Intelligence agencies got the information about the suspect which was passed on to the Delhi Police following which a trap was laid near South Delhi Public School in the Defence Colony yesterday.

Kumaraswamy may be expelled
New Delhi, February 4
With demands being made by some JD (S) leaders for expulsion of party MLAs who had aligned with the BJP in Karnataka, party president H D Deve Gowda is likely to take action against them before the meeting of national executive on February 20.

Court summons Sajjan Kumar
New Delhi, February 4
A Delhi court today issued summons to Congress MP Sajjan Kumar in connection with a two-year-old case of attempted murder of a candidate for MCD elections.
— PTI


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AI craft flouting Civil Aviation Rules
Pilot fails to file report on mishap
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Even as Air India appears to be dragging its feet in providing clarifications to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) about the carrier’s violations of Civil Aviation Rules (CAR) thereby endangering safety, an A-310 aircraft of its low cost subsidiary Air India Express was involved in a serious incident on the Daman-Cochin sector.

What has sent shock waves in civil aviation circles is that the Commander of the Daman-Cochin flight, Capt M Vasavda, who also happens to be the Training Chief of Air India Express, is understood to have conveniently forgotten to report the serious incident immediately on touchdown as is mandatory.

The incident, which could have resulted in a mid-air collision, was detected during the routine analysis of the aircraft’s Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR). The aircraft on the Daman-Cochin sector on December 5 last year was flying at 37,000 feet and climbed uncontrollably to 40,600 feet. Its speed dropped from 261 to 180 knots almost leading to a stall situation.

Seeking the immediate intervention of the DGCA in its capacity as the regulatory authority for civil aviation in the country, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut pointed out that Captain Vasavda neither informed the Air Traffic Control of this serious change in flight altitude nor did he care to raise the mandatory DGCA Operational Incident Report (OIR).

Mr Raut, in his letter of January 31 to the DGCA about the incident involving the A-310 aircraft of Air India Express, observed that senior retired pilots of Air India had informed him of a similar old incident involving Capt A S Ray pertaining to a 747 Classic aircraft which did not have the benefit of the automatic throttle system. Captain Ray noticed the aircraft speed washing off and pitched the aircraft nose down to regain the speed. In this particular case despite the very minimal loss in altitude, Captain Ray was declared as a “Permanent Co-Pilot” and managed to get back his command only at the fag end of his career.

Further, the MP noted in his letter to the DGCA that according to his information the investigation in this incident had been completed and Capt M K Hathi, Director (Operations) of Air India, was attempting to exert pressure to reduce the quantum of punishment to Captain Vasavda to the bare minimum. “Captain Vasavda, I feel, is guilty on various counts, inability as a commander to control the sudden change in altitude of the aircraft, possibility of a mid-air collision on account of any reciprocal aircraft traffic and most importantly his deliberate attempt at withholding information about this incident from Air India Express and the DGCA.”

The DGCA, in another communication to the CMD of Air India on February 2, sought its clarification for the second time in a span of two weeks if the carrier had flouted CAR and relaxed the flying experience of pilots to be Instructor/Examiner on B 777-200 type of aircraft. Referring to the report in the Tribune of January 20, the DGCA said it had sent a letter on January 25 to the CMD of Air India V Thulasidas seeking his comments about the violation of CAR and provided three days for his response. “We have not received any comments from Air India so far. The matter is very urgent and serious in nature,” DGCA’s Deputy Director (Operations) Arvind Sardana stressed.

Requesting Air India to furnish its comments at the earliest, Sardana made it clear that the carrier’s request for approval as Instructor/Examiner on B 777-200 type of aircraft “in respect of their pilots shall not be considered till the comments on the news item are received.”

Meanwhile, Air India’s Capt Lila Singh, Joint General Manager (Operations), has in statement claimed he was threatened by Captain Hathi to sign on a paper that he did not go through the contents of the letter by senior executives of Air India expressing their complete lack of confidence in the carrier’s Director (Operations). The senior executives of the carrier had submitted this letter of December 19 to Air India’s CMD listing alleged acts of omission and commission and giving a go by to Civil Aviation Rules and severely jeopardising safety.

Capt Lila Singh states that on a flight from London to Ahmedabad “I was called in the cockpit by Capt M K Hathi who was taking over the flight on the Ahmedabad-Bombay route. He (Captain Hathi) closed the cockpit door and threatened me to sign on a paper to say I did not go through the contents of the letter signed on December 19, 2005 addressed to CMD. The correct position is that I did go through the contents of the letter. The letter given to Captain Hathi was under pressure and threats,” Capt Lila Singh added in his statement.

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Sonia may visit Assam on February 11
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Congress President Sonia Gandhi is likely to visit Assam for a day on February 11, kicking off the party’s campaign for the April-May assembly elections.

According to a tentative programme, Mrs Gandhi will visit Guwahati, Barpeta and Tejpur where she will address public meetings, interact with party workers and inaugurate a hospital. AICC secretary Chandan Bagchi briefed Mrs Gandhi on the party’s position in Assam today as Congress gradually gets into election mode.

Besides Assam, Assembly polls are also due in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry. The party has resigned itself to a defeat in West Bengal and Kerala and is willing to play the junior partner in Tamil Nadu. Under these circumstances, it has become imperative for the party to retain its governments in Assam and Pondicherry.

Mrs Gandhi’s trip has acquired significance as the party has lost a string of byelections and performed poorly in the Bihar and Jharkhand polls since it came to power at the Centre. More recently, it lost power in Karnataka when its alliance partner Janata Dal (S) joined hands with the BJP to form a government.

The party is hoping that Mrs Gandhi’s first electoral foray to the key northeastern state will help offset the strong anti-incumbency faced by the Gogoi government. It will also be depending on her to end the rampant factionalism in the state unit, which poses the biggest challenge to the Congress in Assam.

The Congress is faced with serious dissent as its Lok Sabha MP Ghulam Usmani from Barpeta has raised a banner of revolt, publicly attacking the party, the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister. The party has, therefore, made it a point to include Barpeta in Mrs Gandhi’s itinerary, hoping her visit will nullify the adverse impact of this public display of indiscipline.

At the same time, the Centre is hastening the pace of talks with a delegation of ULFA, with the second round of discussions with Mr M.K.Narayanan, national security adviser, now scheduled for February 7. The Congress will stand to benefit in case this dialogue does yield some positive result as this militant group yields considerable influence in Assam.

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Factories polluting Ganga, HC seeks action
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 4
Giving impetus to a protest by sadhus against the pollution of the Ganga, the Allahabad High Court, responding to a PIL, has directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to release 450 cusecs of water into the river from the Naraura Barrage till further orders.

The next hearing has been fixed on February 8.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice A.N. Ray and Mr Justice Ashok Bhushan has ordered the state government to take immediate punitive steps against those factories along the Ganga which were releasing untreated pollutants into the river.

Further reprimanding the state government, the judges have asked the competent authorities to ensure that the water treatment plant at Allahabad becomes fully functional by the time the case comes up for next hearing.

Hearing the PIL filed by Harichaitanya Brahamchari, the judges also heard the official version presented by Additional Advocate-General S.M. Kazim in which he assured the court of effective measures to check the flow of pollutants released into the Ganga by the industries.

Advocate-General Virendra Bhatia had examined the waters at the Magh Mela site a few days ago.

An official of the Naurara Barrage also presented a sworn affidavit before the court in which he claimed that 450 cusecs of water was being released everyday into the Ganga to check pollution ever since the Magh Mela began on Makar Sakranti on January 14.

The issue of pollution of the Ganga at the Magh Mela site in Prayag has become an emotive issue this year. Lakhs of people from across the country assemble during the mela.

Besides, the Kalpwasis, who stay put in a tented township, and scores of sadhus have also been congregating here every year since times immemorial..

The Kalpwasis were the first to protest against the dirty waters of the holy river and filed a PIL. Sadhus followed it up by boycotting the holy dip in the river on the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amavasya on January 22.

The two-day VHP ‘dharma sansad’, that concluded yesterday, also passed a resolution to launch a nation-wide political protest against the pollution of the Ganga.

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Daya Nayak's arrest stayed till Feb 7
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 4
Encounter specialist Daya Nayak won a reprieve from the Bombay High Court yesterday when it stayed the arrest of the police officer and his associates till February 7.

Granting interim relief to Nayak, Judge V.M. Kanade of the court adjourned a plea by him seeking anticipatory bail.

Nayak, his wife Komal, and associate Rajendra Padte were present before the court.

Nayak's counsel in their plea for anticipatory bail told the court that he had already been questioned by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). His lawyers went on to assure the court of complete co-operation by Nayak.

The court also granted exemption to Komal from appearing before the court during the next hearing. The court was told that Nayak's wife was undergoing 'mental trauma' as their five-year-old son had to be left alone at home while both parents were in the court.

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Gawli likely to be arrested
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 4
Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli may be arrested after a polygraph test conducted on him in Bangalore last week. It indicated that he could be lying about his role in the conspiracy to kill film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar.

According to sources, the result of the polygraph test conducted in Bangalore last week indicated that Gawli may have been aware of his lieutenants plan to kill Bhandarkar. Actress Preity Jain was arrested earlier for trying to hire Gawli’s henchmen for the hit job. The starlet had alleged that Bhandarkar had sexually exploited her while promising her roles in his films.

The Maharashtra Government’s Home Ministry has been provided the results of the polygraph tests, the sources said. A decision to arrest Gawli may be taken at the highest level.

The Bombay High Court had earlier asked the police not to conduct the brain-mapping and narco-analysis test on the gangster-turned-politician.

The police is now likely to demand for Gawli being questioned after being administered the truth serum.

Gawli has denied that he was aware of the plot to kill Bhandarkar. He, however, claimed to have called in the police himself when the matter was brought to his notice.

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Ex-HC judge's house auctioned
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, February 4
Former Calcutta High Court judge Bhagabati Prasad Banerjee’s house at Salt Lake was auctioned today following the Supreme Court’s order and it was sold to Mr Pradip Murarka, a businessman at a reduced price of Rs 51 lakh against the valuer-assessed price of Rs 56 lakh: Rs 20 for the land and the remaining Rs 30 lakh for the two-storeyed building.

This was the first time that a former high court judge had been evicted from his own house, which was auctioned and sold to a private party at the court’s order on the plea that the judge had used his chair in obtaining the plot from the Chief Minister’s special quota.

The former judge was not present at the auction room and he was represented by his son and daughter-in-law.

At least, 100 such judges of the country’s various high courts and also the Supreme Court and 150 other VIPs were similarly allotted lands at Salt Lake by Mr Basu but unfortunately only he had been penalised, Banerjee regretted.

The land had been allotted to him within 24 hours of his judgement in granting of a special discretionary power to the Chief Minister for allotment of 10 per cent of the vacant plots to the people against the court’s earlier order on the distribution of lands strictly through public lottery.

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More police stations for Mau

Lucknow, February 4
Mau, recently devastated by communal violence, will soon get two new police stations and five new police posts. This was announced Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav at a function to mark Police Week today.

In all likelihood this seems to be part of the recommendation of the three-member probe team headed by Chairperson of the Board of Revenue Neera Yada, that had submitted its report to the state government a few days ago.

The report is yet to be tabled in the Assembly.

However, there are speculations that it has exonerated the reported role of independent MLA from Mau Mukhtar Ansari for instigating the communal violence in mid-October. Ansari is currently lodged in the Ghazipur jail as an accused in the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. — TNS

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Hizbul conduit nabbed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
The Delhi Police has arrested one Dubai-based Hizb-ul-Mujahideen conduit from a posh colony in South Delhi. The suspect has been identified as Nasir Safi Mir (36).

Intelligence agencies got the information about the suspect which was passed on to the Delhi Police following which a trap was laid near South Delhi Public School in the Defence Colony yesterday.

The police also claimed to have recovered a substantial quantity of RDX and ‘hawala’ cash from his possession.

Nasir was a Kashmiri based in Dubai. He came near the said school to meet one of his acquaintances in his luxury car, DCP, Special Cell, Ajay Kumar said.

“Two kg of RDX, a ABCD timer, a detonator, a pistol with six cartridges and Rs 55 lakh in cash were seized from his possession,” Mr Kumar said.

Police officials further said Nasir had recently accepted the consignment from his contact Latif on the directions of Syed Salahuddin (based in Pakistan) near a five-star hotel at Bhikaji Cama Place on the Ring Road.

During interrogation, Nasir said he was working for Hizbul and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief of the Hurriyat Conference, and that the consignment was to be delivered to one Zahoor of Hizbul Mujahideen in the Defence Colony.

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Kumaraswamy may be expelled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
With demands being made by some JD (S) leaders for expulsion of party MLAs who had aligned with the BJP in Karnataka, party president H D Deve Gowda is likely to take action against them before the meeting of national executive on February 20.

Party sources said the Mr Gowda was likely to take all necessary steps, including expulsion of all those who have violated the “discipline” of the party. They said Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy would face action along with other MLAs who had aligned with the BJP.

Mr Kumaraswamy led a group of 39 MLAs to join hands with the BJP.

The sources said national executive meeting would ratify Mr Deve Gowda’s actions against the rebels.

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