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Bedi backs Lokpal Bill, Hazare accuses govt of betrayal

NEW DELHI: Activist Anna Hazare slammed the government on Friday for "betraying the people" on Jan Lokpal, saying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had failed to keep his word.

"The battle for Jan Lokpal has been on for two years. The government has been repeatedly betraying the people of this country," he said.

He threatened to go on an indefinite fast.

Differing with Anna Hazare on the amended Lokpal Bill approved by the Union Cabinet, his team member and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, however, backed the legislation saying it addresses most of their concerns.

Bedi also expressed happiness over the amended Bill paving the way for the constitution of a collegium to select the chief of CBI.

"From nothing to something to more, as we move on! This is how we can read the lokpal bill! Unless we want to stay at nothing!" she tweeted.

She also most of the concerns have been addressed in the draft and cited the appointment of CBI chief and other changes as positive ones.

"(CBI's) its Anti Corruption wing has been brought under oversight of Lokpal. Which is what we needed!" she said.

The activist said, "It is open to opposition parties to improve the Lokpal as part of their manifesto!"

Her remarks contradict Anna Hazare's stand that the amended Lokpal bill was a "farce". He also announced he will launch another agitation if the government went ahead with the enactment of a "weak" legislation.

"The Cabinet has taken the decision of forming Jan Lokpal and Lokayukta in every state. If it has to be created by the states, then why did the prime minister write to us that the central government was ready to establish Lokayukta in states? He did not keep his word," Hazare told a press conference here.

The Cabinet on Thursday delinked the Lokpal from Lokayuktas — or anti-graft ombudsmen — in states as it gave its nod to the Lokpal bill amendments.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and social activists, including Hazare, have slammed the proposed law saying it was not enough to curb corruption.

"We wanted Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 officers to be under its purview. The government agreed to it but now it says these officers will not be under Jan Lokpal. What is the meaning of the Jan Lokpal bill?" Hazare said.

He also criticized the government for not including the Central Bureau of Investigation in its purview.

"I will keep travelling across the country for a year-and-a-half for Jan Lokpal. (Retired army chief) Gen V K Singh will travel with me," he said. — IANS






Diesel prices to be hiked 40-50 paise every month: Moily

NEW DELHI: Diesel prices will be hiked by 40-50 paise per litre every month till losses on the nation's most used fuel are completely wiped out, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily said today.

"Until further orders, oil marketing companies can increase it (diesel price) by 40-50 paise (per litre) every month," he told reporters here.

The government had on January 17 decided to move towards deregulating or freeing diesel prices from state control and gave powers to state-owned oil firms to raise prices in small measures every month till all of their losses are wiped out. 
Diesel is currently sold at a loss of over Rs 10.80 per litre.

On January 17, oil firms hiked diesel price by 45 paise. After including local VAT, the increase in Delhi came to 50 paisa. The diesel now costs Rs 47.65 a litre in the capital.

Moily said the decision to raise diesel prices in small doses every month will stand "until further orders". He, however, did not say when the oil firms will effect the second price increase.

The decision for retail price hike was coupled with a move to charge bulk consumers like defence, railways and state transport undertakings market price which is almost Rs 10 a litre more than retail selling rate, to save an estimated Rs 12,907 crore in annual subsidy.

Moily said he had heard of states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu asking their public transport fleet to refuel at petrol pumps instead of buying diesel from oil firms directly as is the current practice. This is being done with a view to avoid paying the market price mandated for them.

"We need to look into that (issue). I have also heard about it. We are ceased of that matter," he said, adding when rules are laid there are people who find ways to circumvent it.

Instead of buses being asked to refuel at petrol pumps, the states should reduce high local sales tax or VAT on diesel to cut prices, Moily added. — PTI





SC stays arrest of Ashis Nandy

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the arrest of eminent scholar and sociologist Ashis Nandy for making remarks alleged to be anti-Dalit at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Though the bench stayed his arrest, it said "he can't continue making statements like this. Whatever may be
your intent you can't go on making statements."

"Tell your client he has no license to make such comments," the bench told senior advocate Aman Lekhi who was appearing for 76-year-old Nandy.

The apex court issued notices and sought response of the Centre and the Rajasthan Government on a petition filed by Nandy seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him for making the alleged statements at a literary festival.

"In the meantime, the petitioner (Nandy) will not be arrested in FIR filed in connection with the statement made by him at the JLF, on January 26," a Bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said.

The Bench also issued notices to the Governments of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Bihar and sought their response within four weeks as FIRs, in connection with his statement, have been lodged against him in Raipur, Nasik and Patna respectively.

The Bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen told Nandy that statements "are to be made in a responsible manner".

"Why do you say something which you don't want to intend," the court said when Lekhi was trying to impress upon the bench that a person cannot be punished for expressing an idea.

During the proceedings, Lekhi contended that several FIRs at different places cannot be lodged for the same offence, to which the bench said,"It affects people all over. Don't go into that type of submissions."

When Lekhi said that hysteria has been created, the Bench shot back "who is creating (hysteria). Who is author of the statement. Please say what your client has instructed you to say."

During a panel discussion at the Jaipur meet, Nandy had allegedly said that people belonging to OBCs and SCs/STs were more corrupt.

Later, a case was registered against him under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The counsel said the scholar has already tendered an apology for his alleged statements.

Nandy's counsel commenced the submissions by saying "can law penalise an idea".

However, the Bench said "we are not at all happy".

Nandy, apprehending his arrest for the statements made by him, had moved the apex court yesterday for quashing of the FIR against him.

Challenging the proceedings, he had submitted he was facing a serious threat in the surcharged environment against him.

"Because of the surcharged environment against him and the rabid statements made by important political personalities, his physical safety is itself compromised and there is imminent threat of injury to him," his petition said.

"In fact there was no mala fide intent or purpose on the part of the petitioner to make a comment in order to insult or intimidate with intent to humiliate a member of SC or ST in any place within public view," the petition also said.

"The lodging of the said FIR against the petitioner for the alleged offence committed under SC/ST Act is against the basic principles of the fundamental rights which envisages that free speech is the foundation of a democratic society," it said.

Outside the court, Nandy told reporters, I will have to be careful now. The case is sub-judice. I am grateful to the Supreme Court for the relief and to my legal team for making such an excellent case of defence for me."

"I am also grateful to the media for giving me much support, but for one or two rare exceptions. Also, people of India have stood by me," he said. — PTI





Kargil: 'Musharraf himself crossed LoC in 1999'

Islamabad/New Delhi: In an explosive revelation, Pakistan Army Colonel (retd) Ashfaq Hussain has exposed Pervez Musharraf and blamed him for the unwarranted aggression against India in 1999 and revealed that the former Army chief had himself crossed over the LoC.

Ashfaq Hussain in his book ‘Witness to Blunder’ said the Kargil misadventure was masterminded by Major General Javed Hassan, General Mehmood and General Aziz. They made Musharraf agree to the plans which later lead to a limited conflict between India and Pakistan.

Hussain further claimed that Musharraf had himself crossed the LoC and spent a night on the Indian-controlled side. “On 28th March 1999 General Pervez Mushrraf crossed 11 kms beyond the LoC on a helicopter and was escorted by Colonel Amjad Shabbir at a location named Zakriya“Mustakar.”

Pakistan began its operation in Kargil on December 18, 1998 when Captain Nadeem, Captain Ali and Hawaldaar Lalak Jaan crossed LoC to carry out a recce.

“On 17th May 1999 Nawaz Sharif was given the Kargil briefing,” the book further said.

Another former Army officer, Lt Gen (retired) Shahid Aziz, who headed the analysis wing of the ISI during the Kargil conflict, recently revealed that the operation was masterminded by a group of four generals led by Musharraf.

Interestingly, Musharraf, in response to the allegations, has said that 1999 Kargil operation was a "big success militarily” and opeined that if the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had not visited the US, the Pakistani Army would have "conquered" 300 square miles of India.







China's rise welcome if it plays a constructive role: Clinton

Washington: America will continue to welcome China's rise only if it plays a constructive role in the region, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

"The Pacific is big enough for all of us, and we will continue to welcome China's rise if it chooses to play a constructive role in the region.

For both of us, the future of this relationship depends on our ability to engage across all these issues at once," Clinton said yesterday in her last foreign policy speech as the Secretary of State at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a Washington-based think-tank.

"Navigating this relationship is uniquely consequential because how we deal with one another will define so much of our common future.

"We are trying to write a new answer to the age-old question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet," she said.

"To make this work, we really do have to be able to use every lever at our disposal all the time.

So we expanded our high-level engagement through the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to cover both traditional strategic issues like North Korea and maritime security and also emerging challenges like climate change, cyber security, intellectual property concerns as well as human rights," she said.






Nukes could be hijacked by radicals: Pak scientist

London: Increasing radicalisation within Pakistan's military could lead to its nuclear weapons being hijacked by radical Islamists, a Pakistani scientist has warned. "Safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is of a major concern.

The growing radicalisation within the military, given attacks on its own internal bases, could lead to these nuclear weapons being hijacked by radical Islamists," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, who was here for the London launch of his book 'Confronting the Bomb'.

The nuclear physicist and defence analyst estimated Pakistan's arsenal to be similar to India's, at around 120-130 warheads. He was answering questions from members of the Indian Journalists' Association at the Indali Lounge here last evening.

"Earlier, such weapons were seen just as a means of deterrence. The most dangerous development is the increasing search for fissile material as a new dimension of tactical nuclear war has entered the picture. This means the number of weapons will steadily increase," he said.

Hoodbhoy, who received his PhD in nuclear physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stressed that the issue needs to be addressed for the sake of sub-continental as well as global security.Back




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