Thursday, August 16, 2012, Chandigarh, India





L A T E S T      N E W S

NE crisis: Shinde warns rumour-mongers

NEW DELHI: As over 5,000 panic-stricken people from the north-east fled Bangalore after reports of attacks on some of them, the Centre on Thursday said there was no threat to anyone from the region living anywhere in the country and warned of strict action against rumour-mongers. 

“If rumours are spread, strict action will be taken against those who indulge in such activities,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters outside Parliament House. 

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he had spoken to Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, requesting him to ask the people to share information on rumour mongers. 

Extra trains have been pressed into service for Assam to help people who wanted to leave Karnataka, Shinde said, asserting that the situation in the state was peaceful. 

Reacting to reports that people from the north-east were attacked in other parts of the country, Home Secretary R K Singh said in Delhi, “There is no threat to the people of the north-east in any part of the country.” 

On reports of mass exodus of people from the north-east living in Bangalore, Singh said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary and Director-General of the Karnataka Police and they had informed him that there was no incident of attack on anyone from the region anywhere in the state. 

In Bangalore, the Chief Minister held a high-level meeting on Thursday to review steps to tackle the situation. 

Two Assam-bound special trains were operated late last night in addition to the regular service to clear the sudden rush of passengers triggered by the rumours in the wake of one incident of attack on people from the north-east in Pune in the wake violence in Assam. 

Railway officials had said in Bangalore on Wednesday that they had sold over 5,000 tickets for north-eastern destinations. 

Shinde said 300 people left last night and two extra trains have been pressed into service today for Assam. 

The stabbing of a Tibetan student by two motorcycle-borne men in Mysore on August 14 added to the fears of the north-eastern people whom the government and police are trying to convince that they are safe in the state. 

State DGP Lalrokhuma Pachuau, who himself is from the north-eastern state of Manipur, told PTI that the exact number of people who fled the city was not known as many bound for Guwahati were regular passengers, and not those leaving following the rumours. 

Concerned over the development, the Prime Minister spoke last night to Shettar who assured him that steps were being taken to give protection to the people from the north east. 

Besides the Prime Minister, Shinde and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also spoke to Shettar on the issue. 

The Union Home Secretary said, “Last night when I got an information that some people from Assam were under threat in Karnataka, I rang up the DGP and checked up with him... There is nothing. 

“When people thronged the (Bangalore) railway station to go to the north-east, the Home Minister of Karnataka himself went there and told them that there is nothing. So the rumour mongering has to be stopped. Some people are spreading rumours,” he said. 

A small group of people at the Bangalore railway station said, “We are expecting the railway authorities to make an announcement of arranging special trains to Guwahati. We want to be with our families in Assam. We have been informed that some people are planning to attack us.... 

“We do not want to take any risk as nobody comes to our rescue when we are attacked,” Monica and others from the north eastern region said as they waited at the railway station this morning. — PTIBack




Some forces are trying to destabilise Centre and state: Gogoi

GUWAHATI: Appealing to students and people from Assam living in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh not to panic, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said unidentified forces were fomenting violence in lower Assam and trying to destabilise the central and state governments. 

“It is true that there are some forces who are trying to destabilise the Centre and the state government. There are game plans against the state government also. There are forces. I do not deny that,” Gogoi told reporters. 

He said some people were using text messaging and other methods to create panic, not only in the strife-torn areas, but also among students and professionals from Northeast, and Assam in particular, who are staying in states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. 

“It is also true that rumour has created a lot of problems. We are looking on ways to curb such things,” he said. 

Gogoi urged them not to panic and said he was in constant touch with his counterparts in both the states. 

“There is no threat to them. Even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have spoken to the chief ministers of the two states. The exodus is the result of rumour.” 

Asked if his government is contemplating a temporary ban on bulk SMSes to stop spread of rumours, Gogoi said: “We are looking at it to see how far we can go legally. We have not taken any final decision.” 

He admitted that new technology has created problems. “With new technology, rumours are now spreading faster. 

Besides, this time the ethnic violence has also got far more publicity than previous such incidents in the state.” 

Gogoi said the state government has put in place security measures to ensure that the Eid festival passes off peacefully. — PTIBack




Pak Hindus to get long-term visas if they apply properly: Govt

NEW DELHI: With several hundred Pakistani Hindus arriving in India following alleged persecution, the government on Thursday said they will get long-term visas to stay in the country if they apply under stipulated rules.

"So far, no one has applied for long-term visa. Basically, we have norms for the long-term visa. If they apply under them, they will get it," Union home secretary R K Singh said here.

He was replying to a question on the possibility of India granting long-term visas to those Pakistani Hindus who have come to the country in last few days.

Most of these people have come on a month-long visa ostensibly for pilgrimage and many of them have reportedly expressed their desire not to go back to Pakistan.

Almost all Pakistani Hindus, before leaving that country, had to give an undertaking to the authorities there that they would not seek asylum from the Indian government and that they would return to Pakistan within 30 days.

Head of such a group, Anup Kumar had alleged that Hindu families were not safe in Pakistan, since kidnapping of young Hindu girls and brides by fundamentalists at gunpoint had become a routine affair.

He did not rule out the possibility that majority of the community members would never like to go back to Pakistan under the prevailing circumstances. — PTIBack




8 killed in Kamra airbase attack in Pakistan 

ISLAMABAD: A group of terrorists armed with sophisticated weapons and suicide vests on Thursday stormed a key Pakistan Air Force base in Punjab province that is believed to house nuclear weapons, triggering an intense gun battle that left seven attackers and a security personnel dead. 

The terrorists, some of whom were reportedly wearing military uniforms, sneaked into Kamra airbase at about 2 am despite a state of high alert at the facility. 

The attackers breached at least three barriers and tried to target Saab—2000 surveillance aircraft, news channels reported. 

Following a gun battle that lasted over three hours, seven terrorists were gunned down by commandos, a PAF spokesman told the media. 

He said eight terrorists were involved in the attack. 

There was no word on the fate of the remaining attacker. 

The spokesman said explosives were strapped to the body of one attacker. He said the attackers were engaged by two teams of commandos. 

The spokesman said one security personnel was killed and several others, including base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, were injured. 

Azam, who was leading the operations, was hit by a bullet but he is “safe and stable”, the spokesman said. 

Earlier reports had said two security personnel were killed. 

The military’s media arm told reporters that the situation at the Kamra airbase was under control and troops were conducting a search operation to ascertain if any more terrorists were inside the complex. 

The PAF spokesman said one aircraft was damaged when it was hit by a rocket—propelled grenade fired by the attackers. 

He did not give details of the extent of the damage. 

The attack came just two days after Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani reiterated the country’s commitment to the war on terrorism. 

Amid speculation about a new campaign against the Taliban in the tribal belt, Mr. Kayani said the war on terrorism was Pakistan’s “own war and a just war too“. 

The brazen assault was described by experts as a serious security lapse as The Express Tribune newspaper had reported on August 10 that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan could target PAF facilities in Punjab before Eid-u-Fitr. 

Citing intelligence reports, the daily reported that militants could carry out attacks on the 27th or 28th of the Islamic month of Ramzan or August 16 and 17. 

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a string of assaults on Pakistan’s military installations. In the past, militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban have attacked the army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and a key naval airbase in Karachi. 

Several Western media reports in the past have said that nuclear weapons are based at the Kamra complex, which is home to an airbase and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex that assembles JF-17 combat jets and drones. 

As troops conducted a search operation within the airbase, residents of nearby areas were told to remain within their homes. Large contingents of police and army soldiers cordoned off the area. 

Shortly after the attack began, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying that the attackers could have had help from elements within the airbase. 

The terrorists reportedly entered the airbase from Pind Suleman Makhan, a village adjoining the PAF facility. 

The PAF sought help from the army and troops from an elite anti-terrorism commando unit in the garrison city of Rawalpindi were despatched to Kamra. 

Witnesses told the media they had heard intense firing and several explosions from within the airbase. 

The Kamra complex and its personnel have been targeted by terrorists several times in the past. 

On October 23, 2009, seven persons were killed when a suicide bomber struck a check post outside the airbase. — PTIBack



Lawyers seek suo motu proceedings against Mamata

KOLKATA: A section of lawyers on Thursday moved the Calcutta High Court seeking suo motu contempt proceedings against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her comments against the judiciary on August 14. 

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi, refused to start suo motu proceedings against Ms Banerjee after the matter was mentioned before it. 

The division bench instead asked the lawyers to move a petition if they wanted to. 

The bench also observed that they were her personal comments and that the court was not perturbed by such comments. 

A section of lawyers also moved the court of Justice K J Sengupta who said that he would hear the matter at 2 p.m. 

Mamata Banerjee had said during a function in the State Assembly that there were instances when court judgements had been delivered for money. — PTI




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