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Hyderabad blasts: NIA gets custody of two IM members

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court today granted NIA four-day custody of two alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives to further interrogate them in connection with the Hyderabad twin blasts that left 16 dead.

During an in-chamber hearing, District Judge I S Mehta allowed the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) plea seeking custody of Syed Maqbool and Imran Khan to confront them with another alleged IM operative Obaid-Ur-Rehman, who has been brought from Bangalore Central Jail and is in NIA's custody till March 20 in connection with the case, sources said.

Maqbool and Imran were brought from Tihar Jail after the court had yesterday issued production warrants against them.

Sources said the NIA told the court that they need to confront both Maqbool and Imran with Obaid-Ur-Rehman as some conflicting statements have been given by them during their separate interrogation.

The two were earlier remanded to NIA's custody for five days by the court during which they were taken to Hyderabad in connection with the blasts.

Rehman was remanded to NIA's custody on March 13 after the agency had submitted that his custodial interrogation was required to unearth the entire conspiracy which led to the bombings. He was brought from Bangalore jail after the court had issued a production warrant against him.

The sources had said the NIA had told the court that Rehman was a key IM operative and he may give some vital information against the banned group's members who were involved in the blasts.

The NIA had told the court that Maqbool and Imran had revealed some important facts about the blasts, the sources had said.

Maqbool and Imran were lodged in Tihar Jail after their arrest by Delhi Police in the August 2012 Pune blast case. The NIA had told the court that the duo recced Hyderabad's Dilsukhnagar area where the blasts took place.

The court had also issued non-bailable warrants against IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and nine other operatives of the banned group in connection with the Hyderabad blasts — Iqbal Bhatkal, Mohsim Chaudhary, Amir Reza Khan, Dr Shahnawaz Alam, Asadullah Akhtar, Ariz Khan, Mohd Khalid, Mirza Shadaab Beg and Mohd Sajid.

According to the sources, the NIA had told the judge that the conspiracy behind the Hyderabad blasts was hatched by the IM modules. The NIA said the blasts took place in Hyderabad on the alleged instructions of Riyaz Bhatkal. — PTI







Swiss woman gang-raped in Madhya Pradesh

DATIA (Madhya Pradesh): A Swiss woman was gang-raped by a group of eight unidentified persons in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh, the police said on Saturday.

The incident took place near the town on Friday night when the woman along with her husband was touring the region on a bicycle as part of their India tour, Datia SP, C.S. Solanki told PTI.

The couple was camping at a place on their way back from Orchha, where temples of Lord Ram are situated, and were proceeding to Agra when they were looted and the victim was allegedly gang-raped in the presence of her husband, police said.

The woman has been admitted to Kamalaraje hospital in Gwalior and her medical tests have confirmed rape, police sources said.

Eight persons have been rounded up on the basis of suspicion and are being questioned in connection with the case, the SP said.

“We are scouring the forest area in search of those involved in the crime,” he said. — PTI







EU for mutually acceptable solution to marines row

BRUSSELS: The European Union (EU) said it hoped Italy and India would find a "mutually acceptable" solution to the escalating dispute over Rome's decision not to return to India two marines for trial on murder charges.

"The EU is taking note of the ongoing discussions between India and
Italy and continues to hope that a mutually acceptable solution can be found through negotiation," said a spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief.

Angered by the Italian government's refusal to return the two marines - Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - to stand trial for the killing of two fishermen off India's southwest coast in February 2012, New Delhi is downgrading its diplomatic ties, Indian government sources said Friday.

India has instructed its ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta not to go to Rome, meaning there will be no ambassador-level representation between the two countries. India's Supreme Court has also slapped a temporary travel ban on Italian ambassador to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini.

In its letter to the Italian ambassador, the Supreme Court said Mancini "violated" a "sworn declaration" he presented in February that Italy would return the marines.

Latorre and Girone were allowed back home to Italy to vote in the national elections.

The marines face trial by a special Indian court for shooting and killing two Indian fisherman, Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki, while guarding an Italian oil tanker off the coast of Kerala.

The Italian government claims India does not have jurisdiction in the case as the incident took place in international waters. — IANS







Saina storms into Swiss Open semis

BASEL: Saina Nehwal was on course for her third consecutive Swiss Open title as she stormed into the semifinals of the Grand Prix Gold tournament after thrashing Tzu Ying Tai of Chinese Taipei.

The top-seeded Indian outplayed her opponent 21-11, 21-12 in the quarterfinals that lasted just 29 minutes.

Saina next plays Shixian Wang of China in the semifinals, whom she had beaten in the 2012 final.

Saina was in rampaging form in the quarterfinals as she dictated terms over her opponent by virtue of her dominating net play and rallies.

The London Olympics bronze medallist was up 10-3 in no time in the first game though the Chinese Taipei player reduced the gap to 14-10. From there, Saina reeled of five straight points to take the first game without much sweat.

The second game was no different and Tai was able to compete with Saina till 3-3 and from there on, the Indian led till the end.

Saina did not relax a bit as if she wanted to end the match quick and conserve energy for the next match. From 13-6, she cruised to 20-10 up and wrapped up the match. — PTI







Mitchell Starc powers Australia to 408

MOHALI: One run was all that separated Mitchell Starc from becoming the first number nine Australian batsman to notch up a century in India, as the visitors posted a competitive 408 all out in the third Test in Mohali on Saturday.

Though he missed out on the hundred by a whisker, Starc, along with Steven Smith (92), did enough to frustrate the Indians, helping Australia add 135 runs in the first session of play before Ravichandran Ashwin trapped last-man Xavier Doherty (5).

The Indians scored three runs from the one over they faced before lunch with Murali Vijay scoring all of them and Shikhar Dhawan yet to open his account.

Starc was caught-behind on 99 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Ishant Sharma, which also dashed his hopes of becoming the first Australian in 66 years to score a century while batting at number nine.

Another record tumbled on the day was Starc and Steven Smith’s 97-run association for the eighth-wicket, which surpassed the previous best of 73 between Shane Watson and Brett Lee for this wicket at this ground.

Starc smashed 14 fours and faced 144 balls during his 146-minute stay at the crease. Making a sort of a lucky comeback to the Test squad after more than two years in wilderness, Smith made it count with a career-best score that included 10 boundaries and a six. He occupied the crease for 235 minutes and faced 185 balls.

A well-deserved century in sight, Smith became a victim of a viciously turning delivery from Pragyan Ojha and an equally good work by Dhoni, who stumped the batsman in a flash.

For India, Ishant and Ravindra Jadeja finished with three wickets each, while Ashwin and Ojha had two apiece. — PTI




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