L A T E S T      N E W S

PM assures protection to north-east people

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said miscreants spreading rumours that have led to people belonging to north-east flee from Bangalore, Pune and other parts of the country, should be brought to book.

Making a statement after Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari suspended Question Hour to take up a discussion on the issue, Singh said at stake is not just unity and integrity of the country, but also communal harmony.

"Any miscreant fanning rumours should be brought to book," he said.

"Whatever may have happened in Kokrajhar (in Assam) should not be used as an excuse to fan rumours. The government will create a feeling of security among people of north-east in any and every part of the country," he said.

"This country belongs to them as much as it belongs to others. We must curb all the elements which are out to create trouble on this sensitive issue," he said, adding a message has to be sent out to all those who want to disturb peace in the country.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha on Friday rose as one to apply balm to people from north-east who are fleeing parts of the country driven by rumours of impending attacks on them and demanded strong action against those creating fear psychosis.

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj stressed on the need to rise above party lines and send a clear message that people from the north-east have the freedom to live, work and study wherever they wish in the country.

She said the government should create helplines to address grievances of the people from the north-east and step up patrolling across cities, particularly in areas and hostels where they reside in large numbers.

Ninong Ering (Cong) said reports of attacks on people from north-east send a wrong signal and action must be taken against those spreading rumours. "We are sad. We think ourselves as Indians .... but after incidents in a small area of Kokrajhar in Assam .... people of Mongoloid features are attacked .... It sends a wrong signal," Ering said.

He appealed to the Home Minister to treat this matter very seriously and take strict action against those spreading these rumours.

"Strict action must be taken against those involved in spreading rumours as they are trying to create instability... China, Pakistan, Myanmar whosoever is trying to drive a wedge in the country should be dealt with firmly," he said.

Ering, who represents Arunachal Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, said Parliamentarians must take a personal interest in removing the fear psychosis among the people of northeast. — PTI




Exodus from Karnataka continues 

BANGALORE: Appeals and assurances of safety by the Karnataka government notwithstanding, people from north-east continued to flee the state in hordes for the third consecutive day on Friday, driven by rumours of impending attacks.

The exodus so far confined to Bangalore has now spread to some other parts with people of the north-east region living in Mysore, Mangalore and Kodagu arriving here in trains and buses and rushing to railway counters to buy tickets.

More than 15,000 people have fled the city in the past two days following the rumours, official sources said on Friday.

The railways had sold 9,718 tickets for the two special trains that headed to Guwahati on Thursday night, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore, Anil Kumar Agarwal, said on Friday morning.

Officials estimate the number of people from the northeast, including students, residing in Bangalore in the range of 2.5 lakh and 2.75 lakh.

The government continued to reach out to the community urging them to stay on and assured them that it is committed to safeguarding their lives and property in Karnataka.

"We on behalf of people of Karnataka and government once again reassure the people of the northeastern community that they are safe and welcomed in Karnataka", the government said in an advertisement, signed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and Home Minister R Ashoka, published in newspapers on Friday.

The government said no violent incidents have been reported. "We thereby urge not to heed to rumours and rest assured that stringent security measures have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents".

Strict action would be taken against anyone spreading rumours. "We also request the north-eastern media not to go by unconfirmed reports which can create further fear and confusion," Shettar and Ashoka said.

"The exodus of north-east people from the city is not due to threat factor, but due to anxiety to be with their parents at a time when Assam has been gripped by violence," Law and Parliamentary Minister S Suresh Kumar said. Official sources said railways have arranged a special train to Guwahati which would leave in the afternoon. "Looking at the demand for tickets to north-eastern states, we may arrange some more special trains," a railway official said.

Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Home Minister R Ashok, DGP Lalrokhuma Pachau, himself from the north-eastern state of Mizoram, and Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji have repeatedly assured the north-eastern people of their safety, but rumours have overwhelmed them.

The Intelligence Bureau and state police are yet to ascertain the source of the rumours.

The state home department has ordered surveillance of social media sites to check for people who are distorting facts and circulating false information.

Suresh Kumar also requested Shettar, who is in Delhi on Friday, to urge railways to arrange for as many special trains as possible to clear the rush as he expects more people from the north-east to leave. — PTI




CAG reports slam UPA govt

NEW DELHI: Three key CAG reports were tabled in Parliament on Friday indicting the government of causing a combined loss of crores of rupees to the national exchequer.

The much-awaited CAG report on coal block allotment said private firms are likely to gain Rs 1.86 lakh crore from coal blocks that were allocated to them on nomination basis instead of competitive bidding.

The audit report on Delhi airport slams the levy of development fee on passengers and says the civil aviation ministry violated the bid conditions for the benefit of GMR-led DIAL to the tune of over Rs 3,415 crore.

The third CAG report flays post-bid concessions to Reliance Power and says the Anil Ambani-led firm got undue benefit of Rs 29,033 crore when the government allowed use of surplus coal from blocks alloted to Sasan power plant for its other projects.

Reacting to the CAG reports, minister of state in Prime Minister's office V Narayanasamy said that the govt auditor was not following its mandate.

Meanwhile, the BJP demanded resignation of the government alleging that scams in the coal, power and airport sectors had exposed the "loot and plunder" of the country. "

The party sought Prime Minister's resignation as he headed the coal ministry at the time of alleged irregularities.

The government is badly exposed by the three CAG reports on power, coal and Delhi airport. The magnitude of these scams, according to the CAG report, is between Rs 1.6 and 1.86 lakh crore," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside Parliament.

The CAG in its report, tabled in Parliament, names 25 companies including Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Steel, Tata Power and Jindal Steel and Power which have got the blocks in various states.

"Delay in introduction of the process of competitive bidding has rendered the existing process beneficial to the private companies. Audit has estimated financial gains to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore likely to accrue to private coal block allottees," CAG said in a report on allocation of coal blocks. The CAG said it has arrived at the estimates based on the average cost of production and average sale price of opencast mines of Coal India in the year 2010-11.

"A part of this financial gain could have accrued to the national exchequer by operationalising the decision taken years earlier to introduce competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks," CAG said.

The auditing body said it is "of strong opinion that there is a need for strict regulatory and monitoring mechanism to ensure that benefit of cheaper coal is passed on consumers".

The concept of allocation of captive coal blocks through competitive bidding was announced in 2004. However, government is yet to finalise the modus operandi of competitive bidding. — PTI





Geetika suicide case: HC rejects Kanda's anticipatory bail plea

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Friday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of absconding former Haryana minister Gopal Goyal Kanda, the key accused in former air hostess Geetika Sharma suicide case.

Justice PK Bhasin, who had reserved his order on Kanda's bail plea after a day-long
hearing on August 14, pronounced it at 4 pm on Friday.

A magisterial court, meanwhile, issued a NBW against the elusive lawmaker and asked the police to execute the arrest warrant by August 24.

During the hearing, ASG Siddharth Luthra had opposed Kanda's bail plea saying that it needed to quiz him to find the missing computers and other crucial evidence in the case.

An absconding accused does not deserve anticipatory bail as "there is an answer to be given to the society, the dead soul and the victim's family," the ASG had said.

The computers, which may give crucial leads in the ongoing probe against Kanda, co-accused Aruna Chaddha and the victim are missing from the Gurgaon-based office of MDLR group, he had said, adding that Kanda's custodial interrogation was needed to trace them.

Kanda's counsel KTS Tulsi, however, had said that the ingredients of offence of Section 306 (abetment of suicide) under the IPC was missing in the FIR as the accused neither "urged", nor "incited" nor "goaded" the victim to commit suicide.

"I was her employer and you cannot hang me with the next pole just because of the fact that I knew her," he had said.

Kanda has been accused of abetting the suicide of Sharma, an ex-air hostess of his defunct MDLR airlines. — PTI




Elderly Sikh shot dead in Wisconsin state

WASHINGTON: Barely 12 days after the shooting at a Gurdwara that killed six worshippers, an elderly Sikh man has been shot dead in an attempted robbery incident in the same Wisconsin state.

A manhunt has been launched to nab the assailant, police said. The death of another Sikh has sent shock waves among the Sikh community members in Washington, even though the police have termed it as a robbery incident and ruled out any link to the August 5 shootout inside the Oak Creek Gurdwara that killed six Sikh worshippers.

The deceased Dalbir Singh, 56, assisted his nephew Jatinder Singh in running a grocery store in Milwaukee city, Wisconsin.

The incident happened Wednesday night when some unidentified men entered the shop and put a gun to Jatinder Singh head.

Jatinder Singh said he and his uncle made it back into the store and pushed the side door shut, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

But one of the men fired a shot through the door, killing Dalbir Singh, it said.

Dalbir Singh was a regular visitor to the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, but was not present when the tragic incident happened on August 5.

Jatinder Singh had gone to the Gurdwara, but had left its premises before the shootout began. — PTI




Time, CNN revoke Fareed Zakaria’s suspension

Washington: The Time magazine and the CNN today revoked the suspension of Fareed Zakaria, the noted Indian-American writer and journalist, who was suspended last week by both outlets for alleged plagiarism. 

Following a review of the allegations of plagiarism, for which Mr Zakaria has apologised, the CNN and the Time in separate statements termed it as a “journalistic lapse” and an unintentional error, and announced that his popular column and the Sunday talk show would now resume. 

“We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria’s columns for Time and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologised,” Time’s statement read. 

“We look forward to having Fareed’s thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on Sept 7,” it said. 

The CNN followed suite. 

“CNN has completed its internal review of Fareed Zakaria’s work for CNN, including a look back at his Sunday programmes, documentaries, and CNN.com blogs. The process was rigorous. We found nothing that merited continuing the suspension”. 

“Zakaria has apologised for a journalistic lapse. CNN and Zakaria will work together to strengthen further the procedures for his show and blog,” the news channel said. 

“Fareed Zakaria’s quality journalism, insightful mind and thoughtful voice meaningfully contribute to the dialogue on global and political issues. His public affairs programme GPS will return on Sunday, August 26 on CNN International,” it said. — PTI




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