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Boom in sky; dhoom on ground
India acquires ABM tech

Balasore, November 27
In a major breakthrough, country's defence scientists today successfully carried out a surface to surface missile interception over the Bay of Bengal brightening the prospects of development of an indigenous anti-missile shield.

A target Prithvi missile was launched from the interim missile test range near here at Chandipur, its trajectory was monitored and then it was successfully intercepted by another missile fired from Wheeler Islands.

Though, the Navy had successfully conducted missile interceptions over sea using Israeli Barak missiles, this was for the first time defence scientists had successfully carried out an interception of surface to surface missile. This could bring some relief as India actively faced a threat from the presence of nuclear missile capability in the neighbourhood.

The interceptor missile, which was in anti-missile mode, was not identified by DRDO officials who said "the interceptor missile had inertial guidance mid-course and active-seeker guidance in its terminal phase".

DRDO for years had been working on making Trishul missile into an indigenous anti-missile system trying to incorporate into it the capability of taking on multi-targets at the same time. But the missile had failed many of its critical tests.

"The country has achieved a significant milestone in the missile defence system," a Defence Ministry official said in New Delhi after the reports of successful interception came in.

"We have acquired air defence capability against incoming missile", the official said. The success of the mission assumed significance as DRDO scientists were able to "continuously track the missile and feed its trajectory into computers to launch its interception", he said.

The officials said the target missile interception time was programmed at 170/175 seconds while the missile from Wheeler Islands blasted off roughly 60 seconds later with interception time of 110/117 seconds.

The distance between Chandipur, which is on the shoreline, and Wheeler Islands off the Dhamra coast in the Bay of Bengal, is about 72 km.

Faced with the failure of its Trishul project, India had been in negotiations with the US, Israel and Russia for procurement of an alternative anti-missile defence system.

"Notwithstanding the success of today's interception", Defence Ministry officials said "we will continue to observe the development of the US Patriot anti-missile shield as well as other competing systems". — PTI

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Ash, Abhishek in prayers
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Varanasi, November 27
The “Umrao Jaan” couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, along with the Bachchan family, stayed awake last night, praying at the historic temples of Varanasi, setting the rumours abuzz.

Arriving by a chartered plane at around 10.20 p.m. last night, Abhishek, Amitabh, Jaya, sister Shweta Nanda, Ajitabh and daughter Namrata and SP national general secretary Amar Singh drove into the Taj Ganges through the rear gate to avoid the media and the general public.

Shortly thereafter, family priest Chandramouli Upadhyaya visited them. At around 2.30 a.m. senior district officials escorted the family to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, where Pt Sitaram Shastri first carried out the exclusive “mangala aarti” for them, followed by the “rudrabhishek puja”.

Speaking to the media, the family priest maintained that the Bachchan family was here to perform certain prayers on the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of Amitabh’s father Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The priest, however, found it hard to explain what Aishwarya was doing at such a close family function.

Amid heavy security that kept the media at bay, the family spent several hours praying at both Kashi Vishwanath and later at the Sankat Mochan temples. An eyewitness said the rituals started at around 3 a.m.

As per temple sources, the senior Bachchan while holding a “silver shringi” performed “abhishek pujan” with Jaya standing to her right, holding his right hand. What raised eyebrows, however, was son Abhishek who stood to the left of his father with Aishwarya on his right side.

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