L A T E S T      N E W S

Ex-Maldivian President Nasheed leaves Indian mission

MALE/NEW DELHI: Ending 11 days of stalemate, Maldivian ex-President Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday walked out of the Indian High Commission in Male where he was holed up since last Wednesday to evade an arrest warrant. 

Nasheed walked out of the mission at 4:15 p.m. IST after which India said it hoped that with this development the former President will again resume his social and political life. 

“We welcome this development,” President Mohamed Waheed’s Press Secretary Masood Imad told PTI in Male adding there was no arrest warrant against Nasheed at the moment. 

However, he also added that he was “happy that the longest meeting in world has ended. We were formally told by the High Commission on the first day that Nasheed had come into the Mission for a meeting and will be out once it is over.” 

Nasheed has been in the Indian Mission since February 13 to evade arrest after he failed to appear in court on charges of detaining Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his Presidency. His party claimed that the case was politically motivated and designed to disqualify him from taking part in September Presidential polls. 

“It will be recalled that the former President had entered the Indian Mission in Male on 13 February 2013 on his own volition and had similarly decided to leave on his own. 

“It is hoped that with this development the former President will again resume his social and political life,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement in New Delhi. 

The breakthrough came after a high-level MEA team led by Joint Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was sent to Maldives where it held a series of meetings with senior government ministers and various other stakeholders. 

“The government of India wishes to thank all those who have cooperated in these efforts,” the MEA statement said. 

It said that India has been working closely with the government and other relevant stakeholders in Maldives to strengthen the democratic framework of the country. 

India has maintained broad based contacts with all political parties and democratic institutions in Maldives without interfering in its internal affairs. 

“The government of India urges all parties to maintain peace and calm and hopes to continue its positive engagement in the spirit of the close and friendly relations between the two countries,” it said. 

The official statement also referred to remarks by Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid to his Maldivian counterpart that India has traditional and age old ties of friendship and cooperation with Maldives. 

India would be happy to support all efforts to create favourable conditions for free, fair, credible and inclusive Presidential elections in September 2013 that can contribute to durable peace, stability and prosperity in Maldives and the region, it added. — PTI






15 special teams formed to crack Hyderabad blasts case

Hyderabad: Fifteen special teams have been set up to crack the Dilsukhnagar twin blasts case even as the Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday announced steps to ramp up security including installation of 3,500 CCTV cameras at vital points. 

“We have already gathered vital clues in the case. We are confident we will crack the case soon,” Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy said after a high-level review meeting chaired by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at the Secretariat in Hyderabad on Saturday. 

She, however, said there was no clear information as to who was responsible for the blasts that rocked Hyderabad on Thursday night leaving 16 dead and 117 injured. 

The 15 teams set up to investigate the case will have 10 to 15 personnel each from various wings, she said. 

Director-General of National Investigation Agency S.C. Sinha discussed the probe process with State police officials, she said, adding that government was determined to take steps to ensure that such ghastly incidents do not recur. 

“Since 1995, terrorists have been trying to cause havoc in Hyderabad. In some cases they executed their plans... (but) many terror strikes have been prevented,” the Minister pointed out. 

The Home Minister said 3,500 closed-circuit cameras would be installed at vital locations under Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates to improve the vigil. 

Meanwhile, Director-General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy briefed the Chief Minister about the progress in the probe. 

The Chief Minister directed the medical and health department officials to continuously monitor the treatment of blast victims. 

He also asked the Health Education Minister Kondru Murali Mohan to visit the hospitals and ensure that the managements did not harass the victims’ relatives in any manner. 

The state government would foot the entire bill of the treatment, the Chief Minister assured. — PTI






Willing to appear before JPC as witness in 2G scam case: Raja

NEW DELHI: Blamed for a number of issues in the 2G scam, former Telecom Minister A Raja wants to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) as a witness to tell his side of story.

Raja's request to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar comes days after Attorney General G E Vahanvati blamed him for various issues before the JPC.

He has also been blamed for the 2G scam by other witnesses before the special CBI court.

Raja met Kumar at her office yesterday and handed over a letter expressing his willingness to appear as a witness before the committee.

DMK members in JPC T R Baalu and T Siva had been pressing chairman P C Chacko to call Raja as a witness. They also demanded calling Vahanvati again before the panel after he told JPC earlier this month that the controversial press note regarding 2G licences was changed at the last minute by Raja in 2008 with a different pen.

Vahanvati was then the solicitor general. Chacko is apparently against calling Raja as a witness. He has told members that as an accused has legal protection, he cannot make fresh revelations before any committee. Therefore, there was no point in calling Raja.

But Chacko is yet to take a final call on the issue. "If Raja is to be called, he will be the last witness. If DMK agrees on not calling him, then we have concluded calling witnesses before JPC and we would focus on writing the report," Chacko had recently said.

Parliament sources said the Speaker cannot direct any committee to call a person as a witness. In this case, Kumar can forward Raja's letter to Chacko who is currently in Bangalore. — PTI






No wrongdoing in chopper deal: Augusta

New Delhi: AugustaWestland, which is facing allegations of paying kickbacks to secure VVIP choppers deal, on Friday replied to the Indian show cause notice for cancelling the contract saying it has not indulged in any wrong practice.

The defence ministry, which had given the firm time till Friday to reply to the show cause asking why the contract should not be cancelled in view of the bribery charges faced by it, will take a decision on the future of the Rs 3,600 crore deal in the next few days, ministry officials said.

They said they will go through the response given by the Italian firm along with the evidence brought by the one-member ministry team from Italy and take a decision on the future of the deal in the next few days.

"We have responded to the show cause issued to us by the Indian government within the specified timeframe. We have told the Indian defence ministry that our conduct has met the legal requirements in India and there was no wrongdoing involved in it," an AgustaWestland spokesperson told PTI from Italy.

In its response, the firm has told the defence ministry that "its conduct has been fully compliant with the rules which regulate the AW101 helicopters contract signed with India".

AgustaWestland has said the Rs 3,600 crore contract "was awarded to it following a comprehensive technical and flight evaluation of competing types performed by the IAF in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)."Back






Fresh snowfall shuts Srinagar-Jammu highway

SRINAGAR: The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed for the second day on Saturday even as fresh snowfall across Kashmir prompted authorities to issue an avalanche warning in higher reaches of the Valley.

"The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is closed for vehicular traffic due to
continuous snowfall on either side of Jawahar tunnel in south Kashmir," a spokesman of the traffic department said.

He said snowfall was hampering efforts of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and other concerned agencies to clear the road of the snow accumulated overnight.

The 294-km arterial highway, the only all-weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country, was closed on Friday due to snowfall.

The snowfall in the Valley has affected normal life as electricity supply has been snapped while many roads in the rural areas have been blocked due to snow.

Roads in Srinagar, which received the second major snowfall of the winter on Saturday morning, were rendered slippery and traffic was moving at a snail's pace in most areas.

According to a Met department official, Srinagar received snowfall and rains equivalent to 30.1 mm rainfall since yesterday while Qazigund – the gateway town to the Valley – received 42.2mm.

Pahalgam in south Kashmir received snowfall equivalent to 46.6 mm of rainfall followed by Kupwara (44.0mm), Kokernag (40.6 mm) and Gulmarg skiing resort (35.0 mm) in north Kashmir.

The snowfall has resulted in the mercury staying around freezing point in most parts of the Valley but Gulmarg continued to shiver at minus 5.6 degrees Celsius.

While Kargil was the coldest recorded place in the state at minus 11.0 degrees Celsius, Leh town saw the mercury rise to minus 5.0 degrees Celsius. — IANS




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