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Govt slightly disappointed over Headley's sentence: Khurshid 

NEW DELHI: India on Friday said it will continue to press for extradition of David Headley from the US after the Pakistani-American LeT terrorist escaped death penalty for helping plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and sentenced to 35 years in jail by an American Court. 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the government was “slightly disappointed” over the quantum of sentence, saying the 52-year-old convict should have got a “severest sentence”. Asserting the India’s demand that Headley should be tried in India, Khurshid said he would have possibly got a “serious and severe” sentence in this country. 

Khurshid, however, said the sentence handed over to Headly was a 'beginning'. “The-35-year sentencing and what the judge said is a beginning. We understand there are legal procedures in the US but nevertheless the position we have, the request (extradition) that we have made remains intact,” Khurshid told reporters. 

Union Home Secretary R K Singh also said that India will push for Headley’s extradition. 

Meanwhile, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi expressed disappointment at the verdict and demanded that he should be tried in India. 

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy demanded that Headley should be extradited to India and be tried under Indian laws and given capital punishment. 

“I think going by what the judge has said this should go a long way in hopefully conveying a very clear message that the kind of things that have been going on in the past will not be tolerated,” Khurshid said. 

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said yesterday, “The sentence I impose, I’m hopeful it will keep Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life.” 

The Judge said it would have been much easier to impose the death penalty. “That’s what you deserve”. 

Headley had entered into a plea bargain with the US investigators under which he escaped death sentence. 

“Headley is a terrorist,” the Judge said while imposing the sentence on 12 counts in a packed court. 

Justice Leinenweber also said, “He commits crime, cooperates and then gets rewarded for the cooperation. 

“No matter what I do, it is not going to deter terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists do not care for it. I do not have any faith in Headley when he says that he is a changed person now. 

“I do believe that it is my duty to protect the public from Headley and ensure that he does not get into any further terrorist activities. Recommending 35 years is not a right sentence”. 

‘Headley could still be extradited’ 

David Headley could still be extradited to India in a rare case if he violates his plea deal under which he escaped the noose, an American attorney has hinted. 

For this slim possibility of his extradition, Headley would have to violate his plea agreement by not cooperating with the US government or any foreign government in future investigations and not being truthful, Acting US Attorney Gary S Shapiro told reporters in Chicago. — PTI





K'taka Governor may ask CM to prove majority

BANGALORE: Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj today indicated that he might ask Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly in the wake of 13 ruling BJP MLAs announcing their decision to quit the House membership.

"I have already summoned the assembly on February 4 (for Budget session) and if I feel that this government has come into minority, then I will order him (Shettar) to prove his majority at the first instance before transacting any business," Bhardwaj told reporters in Bangalore.

Seeking to push the government into a crisis, 13 MLAs loyal to Karnataka Janata Party chief BS Yeddyurappa had gone in a delegation on Wednesday to meet Speaker KG Bopaiah to submit their resignation from Assembly membership but in vain as he was not in station.

Enraged over this, they had submitted copies of their resignation letters to Bhardwaj.

The governor said he has received letters (copies) from Yeddyurappa and also the MLAs.

Bhardwaj said the Chief Minister would "possibly" meet him today and "so I will confront him with what has been given to me (Assembly records) and if necessary I will ask him to prove his majority."

"In the meantime, I have dictated my orders that this is a split in the political party of the BJP. So you study the relative strength of the party in the Assembly. But assembly records were not with me. Therefore, I summoned the records. So I will see what is the strength..." 

Bhardwaj said neither Shettar nor Home Minister and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok were in the city and he contacted them and told them about the developments and sought their response.

The governor said he is following the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court in the SR Bommai case.

"So this is the broad thinking in my mind and except this, I cannot talk to the Speaker. The Speaker is an independent office and he is not in town."

He said since the Speaker was not in town, he had not sent any communication to him. "I have sent (communication) to the government and told the Chief Minister to immediately contact the speaker and it is the duty of the government to transact business and government has to arrange for his presence."

Asked if there was a constitutional crisis and government should continue in office, he said, "There is constitutional law which applies straightaway that the Governor has to send the matter to the floor of the House. I am thinking on that line."

In the 225-member Assembly, BJP has a strength of 117, excluding Speaker, and it requires 113 for a simple majority. Congress has 71 members and JDS 26. There are seven Independents and two vacancies. One member is nominated. — PTI






ArcelorMittal to shut parts of Belgium plant

New Delhi/Luxembourg: World's largest steel maker ArcelorMittal today said it will close a coke plant and six production lines in Belgium hitting 1,300 jobs, a decision which may face resistance from Brussels.

The Lakshmi Mittal-led company, which had shut down the liquid phase steel production facility in the same plant in the Liege region of Eastern Belgium in October, 2011, earlier in the day said "with regret" that it intends to close a number of additional assets.

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who is in Davos, tweeted: "I support the workers. This is the first message this afternoon at the time of my encounter with Lakshmi Mittal." ArcelorMittal, which has recently incurred wrath of the French government over closure of two blast furnaces, however, said: "Regrettably, since October 2011, the economic outlook has further deteriorated. Demand for steel in Europe dropped by a further 8-9 per cent in 2012 and is now 29 per cent below pre-crisis levels.

"This is unsustainable on an on-going basis," it said, adding it thus proposed to close the hot strip mill, one cold rolling flows, two galvanisation and electrogalvanising lines each.

"Additionally, the company is proposing that the coke plant, which is no longer viable due to the excess supply of coke in Europe, also be permanently closed," it said.

The company had closed liquid phase steel production facility in Leige in October 2011, but said that despite the closure, the facility reported an EBIT loss of more than Euro 200 million in first nine months of 2012 and no improvement is foreseen in 2013 due to the continued weakness of European market.






No screening of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam in Hyderabad

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday stopped the release of Kamal Haasan's film Vishwaroopam in Hyderabad after some Muslims organisations complained that the movie had hurt religious sentiments of the community. Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy directed police to stop the screening till January 28 after some Muslim leaders called on her and demanded a ban on it.

Following this, Hyderabad Police Commissioner asked cinema distributors not to screen the movie at theatres in the city.

The Cyberabad Police Commissioner, covering areas around Hyderabad, also directed theatres not to show the movie.

Officials said the orders were issued in view of the demands by Muslim organisations. Also, there were fears of law and order problems on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi being celebrated on Friday.

It was not immediately clear if the movie would be released in the rest of the state.

A day earlier, the Madras high court declined to stay Tamil Nadu government's order suspending the release of the film.

The court asked the filmmaker to postpone the release till January 28 so that it could view the same on January 26.

The movie in Tamil and Telugu was scheduled for release on Friday; the Hindi version, titled "Vishwaroop", is set to hit the screens February 1.

Vishwaroopam is produced and directed by Kamal Haasan, who has also acted in it. — IANS






Six killed in Mumbai slum fire

MUMBAI: At least six people were killed and seven injured in a fire that gutted over 50 hutments in southern Mumbai’s Mahim area early Friday, officials said.

According to the BMC Disaster Control Centre, the fire broke out around 5 a.m. in the Nayanagar slums in Mahim and quickly spread, catching the occupants unaware in their sleep.

Seven fire engines and eight tankers rushed to combat the blaze and finally managed to control it after four hours. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Congress MP from the area Eknath Gaekwad said the slum is a thickly populated and there was a possibility of the casualty figures going up.

“The narrow lanes in the congested locality prevented quicker rescue operations, but the city fire brigade did a commendable job and prevented higher casualties,” Gaekwad told IANS.

Hundreds of families suddenly rendered homeless sat on the roadside, crying helplessly. 

Gaekwad and other social workers have assured relief to the displaced families.




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