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Kejriwal begins dharna outside Rail Bhavan

NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented face-off with the Centre, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today began a dharna in front of Rail Bhavan, calling himself an "anarchist" and asking "honest" police officials to take leave and join his protest demanding action against some of their colleagues.

Defying prohibitory orders in force in the high-security area near the seat of power, Kejriwal accompanied by six of his ministers, came down hard on the Centre for the current situation arising from their demand for action against officials who refused to raid an alleged drug and prostitution racket in an area in South Delhi.

"Some people are saying that I am an anarchist. I am spreading disorder. I agree I am an anarchist. Today I will create anarchy for Shinde," he said in an impromptu address to his party MLAs and supporters at the dharna site from where police asked him to shift to nearby Jantar Mantar.

He asked honest officials among the police force to take leave and join him in the agitation demanding the Delhi Police be brought under his government, a demand rejected by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

45-year-old Kejriwal said he has come prepared to stage dharna for at least 10 days and would continue the agitation further if need be.

Earlier in the morning, Kejriwal along with his supporters attempted to go to North Block housing the Home Ministry to lodge their protest. However, they were stopped near the Rail Bhavan as the nearby Vijay Chowk and the entire Rajpath were sealed for the Republic Day rehearsal that was going on.

In his address to his MLAs and supporters, Kejriwal put the blame squarely on the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Centre for the situation that has led to his dharna and appealed to people to join him.

He said any crisis arising out of the situation, including disturbance in holding Republic Day celebrations, will be the responsibility of the Centre.

Kejriwal claimed that a woman official of the Ugandan High Commission met Law Minister Somnath Bharti and gave him a letter written by an official of the Mission to the government in Uganda on a woman from his country brought to Delhi and allegedly forced into prostitution racket.

He claimed the Ugandan official welcomed their campaign on the issue.

The Chief Minister attacked functioning of the police saying the streets of Delhi are not safe for women. He also alleged that some police officials take money share which go to their superiors also.

Rejecting Shinde's statement that action can be taken only after an inquiry, the Chief Minister demanded immediate suspension of the "corrupt" officials who refused to act in the interest of the public whose cause Bharti had taken up.

The minister had sparked a controversy last week when he went to a locality in his constituency of Malviya Nagar, claiming a drug and prostitution ring was being run from a residence and demanded police raid the place.

However, the police refused saying they have no warrant to do so. The AAP workers allegedly forced a couple of women from Uganda to give urine samples. Their action came under alround attack but the AAP Government insists that action should be taken against the police officials.

This is perhaps for the first time that a Chief Minister and his entire Cabinet is holding a dharna against the Central Government to press for their demands.

Kejriwal also said his protest will not affect governance as he will clear files from the protest site.

The Delhi Police asked Kejriwal to shift his protest to Jantar Mantar, citing prohibitory orders in the high-security area. Police made it clear that the protest will not be allowed to continue in the area.

Defending his action to hold dharna, Kejriwal asked those gathered whether it was wrong to demand suspension of policemen in connection with the rape of Danish woman and those who failed to act on his Cabinet colleagues' letter demanding protection for a woman who was later allegedly burnt alive by her parents-in-law.

Kejriwal said he was demanding action against policemen who failed to check drug and sex racket being run from south Delhi. He said under such circumstances, ministers should be seen among people instead of sitting in the cosy comforts of their big bungalows.

Kejriwal also criticised a section of the media, Congress and BJP for describing actions of AAP leaders as "vigilantism".

He also referred to the allegation made by former Union Home Secretary R. K. Singh against Shinde that he was involved in the transfer of SHOs in the Delhi Police.

"It creates doubt that money has changed hands (for the purpose)," said Kejriwal.

He said most policemen are not corrupt and asked the honest ones to join AAP's movement against corruption. He recalled that the Delhi Government has given Rs 1 crore compensation to the next of the kin of the policeman who was killed by liquor mafia recently. — PTIBack












Action against policemen only after inquiry: Shinde

NEW DELHI: Asking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to maintain the dignity of the office he holds, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today ruled out any action against Delhi Police personnel till an inquiry is over.

Talking to reporters here on the sidelines of a function to mark the raising day of National Investigation Agency (NIA), he also made it clear that the Centre will not hand over Delhi Police to the state government.

Asked about dharna being led by Kejriwal outside theRail Bhavan, Shinde said, "He should maintain 'garima' (dignity) of the chair of Chief Minister and wait till the judicial probe is completed. After all he is a Chief Minister... (which is) a high post. He should cooperate." Kejriwal is protesting alleged inaction against Delhi Police officials who had a tiff with Delhi's Law Minister Somnath Bharti in Malviya Nagar in south Delhi last week.

Bharti had created a controversy when he went to a locality in Malviya Nagar, claiming a drug and prostitution ring was being run from a residence and demanded police raid the place. However, the police refused, saying they have no warrant to do so.

Shinde said, "Ordering judicial inquiry means fixing of responsibility in an impartial manner. There is no interference in the probe. The Lt Governor has made it clear that the probe will be expedited.

"After Nirbhaya (case), we have said there should be section 144 CrPC always in Vijay Chowk and other nearby areas.

If they want to protest, they should go to Jantar Mantar." He said, "In inquiry everything will come out (as to) who is guilty and who is not. I am in touch with Delhi Police." 

Shinde ruled out any move to hand over the Delhi Police to the Delhi Government, as demanded by Kejriwal, and said even in the US, Washington DC is under the federal authorities.

"The demand for handing over of the Delhi Police to the Delhi Government has been an old one. Like in the US — Washington DC, the concept is that the Capital is under the Centre. This (demand) is not possible."

To a question about allegations by AAP that anarchy in Delhi was because of the Congress and BJP, Shinde said, "The whole country is witnessing where is anarchy and who is creating anarchy." — PTI Back











Telangana Bill not comprehensive, needs amendments: BJP

NEW DELHI: The BJP on Monday said the Telangana Bill providing for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was not comprehensive and that amendments are needed in it so that concerns of Seemandhra region could be addressed.

The main opposition party, whose support will be crucial for passage of the Bill in Parliament, accused the Congress of mishandling the issue and treating it as an “internal matter”.

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, while participating in a protest organised by the party’s Andhra Pradesh unit in New Delhi to demand amendments to the Telangana Bill, maintained his party’s commitment to division of the state but said concerns of Seemandhra region need to be addressed.

“BJP is committed for division of the state. We are in favour of creation of the new state of Telangana,” he said.

At the same time, he added, “the BJP will stand by the Seemandhra people as far as their genuine problems are concerned. We will do everything. The Bill brought by the Congress government is not comprehensive and does not address the concerns of people of different regions”.

Asking the government to “seriously understand apprehensions and fears” of Seemandhra region, Naidu said, “It is the duty of the ruling party to understand the problems and then come with needed amendments and then take everybody into account and get the Bill passed.”

He said the Centre should declare in the Bill a new Capital for Telangana, 10-year tax holiday to woo industrialists for establishing their units and upgradation of Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati airports into international airports.

His comments assume significance as the government is planning to introduce the Telangana Bill in Parliament during the resumed winter session beginning on February 5.

Though the demonstration held at Jantar Mantar had a visible presence of BJP leaders from Seemandhra region, eyebrows were raised because of the absence of Andhra Pradesh BJP president G. Kishan Reddy.

When contacted, Reddy told PTI from Hyderabad that he could not attend the demonstration as he was given a slot to speak on the Telangana Bill in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Monday.

He denied any difference of opinion within the state unit of the party over the bifurcation issue.

“We would urge the Centre to address the problems and concerns of Seemandhra people, when the bill would be tabled in the Parliament,” he noted.

Reddy was elected from Amberpet Assembly constituency in Hyderabad in 2009. — PTIBack












Examining issue of blacklisting AgustaWestland: Antony

NEW DELHI: After scrapping AgustaWestland’s Rs 3,600 crore deal for supplying VVIP choppers, the Defence Ministry today said it will take a decision on the issue of blacklisting the firm after consultations with the Law Ministry and CBI.

“We are examining the whole thing and we will take a decision after detailed examination and in consultation with the Law Ministry and CBI. I don’t want to take any hasty action that will cause problems to us… . There is no understanding between the government and the company,” Defence Minister A. K. Antony said on the sidelines of an NCC function here.

He was replying to a question on reports that the Anglo-Italian firm and the government have reached an understanding and the former would not be blacklisted.

The Defence Minister said the government is focusing on encashing its bank guarantees in Italy and India. “In the Indian bank, we have encashed it. In the Italian bank, we are trying to get our money. There (in Italy) they have disputed but immediately we are trying to fight case and we are taking other actions to protect our interests,” he said.

The Defence Ministry cancelled its contract with AgustaWestland on January 1 after it found that there was alleged breach of the pre-contract integrity pact.

AgustaWestland has denied any wrongdoing on its part in the case relating to alleged kickbacks in the deal. After scrapping the deal, India encashed a guarantee of over Rs 250 crore deposited by AgustaWestland in a bank in Delhi even as it is preparing to file an appeal against an Italian court’s stay on its move to encash another guarantee in an Italian bank. — PTIBack











Nursery admissions: HC refuses to stay Lt Governor’s notification

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to stay a notification on the criteria for nursery admissions in New Delhi.

A division Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw dismissed the plea of unaided private schools challenging notification of Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, fixing the admission criteria for nursery.

The schools said the new guidelines were “arbitrary”. — IANSBack












Agni-IV missile successfully test-fired 

Balasore (Odisha): India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable strategic missile Agni-IV, with a strike range of about 4,000 km, from a test range off the Odisha coast.

“The test firing was a total success. The missile travelled its full range,” MVKV Prasad, the Director of Integrated Test Range, told PTI.

It was test launched from the launch complex-4 of the ITR at Wheeler Island, at about 10:52 am, defence sources said.

A high performance on-board computer with distributed avionics architecture, a high-speed reliable communication bus and a fully digital control system were used to control and guide the missile to the target, the sources said.

“It is equipped with modern and compact avionics to provide high level of reliability,” a DRDO official said.

“The state-of-the-art Ring Laser Gyros based high accuracy INS (INS) and Micro Navigation System (MINGS) complementing each other in redundant mode have been incorporated into the missile system in guidance mode,” the sources said.

The sophisticated missile is lighter in weight and has two stages of solid propulsion. The payload, with a re-entry heat shield can withstand temperature of more than 3000 degree Celsius, a defence scientist said.

The missile is undergoing developmental trials by the DRDO.This is the third development trial of Agni-IV missile by the DRDO.

Radars and electro-optical systems along the coast of Odisha have been positioned for tracking and monitoring all the parameters of the missile.

Two Indian naval ships were anchored near the target area to witness the final event.

The last trial of the missile was carried out successfully on September 19, 2012, from the same base. — PTIBack









13 killed in suicide blast near Pak army headquarters

ISLAMABAD: A Taliban suicide bomber blew himself near Pakistan's main military headquarters on Monday, killing 13 persons just a day after the militants struck inside an army compound in the northwest of the country killing 20 troops, officials and militants said.

The two-day barrage is among the most intense onslaughts recently against the Pakistani army as it struggles to battle insurgents in the country's volatile frontier regions.

Monday's attack took place early in the morning in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, next to the capital of Islamabad. Police official Sardar Zulfiqar said a suicide bomber struck just outside the main military headquarters.

A retired officer and five soldiers were among those killed, according to police officer Haroon Joiya, who said the bombing also wounded 18 persons.

The suicide bomber was riding a bicycle and detonated his explosives when he got close to a military checkpoint, said Joiya.

Sunday's bombing in the northwest targeted a vehicle in a convoy that was about to leave a military base in the town of Bannu and drive west to the North Waziristan tribal area, police official Inyat Ali Khan said. Pakistan's military said that attack also wounded 30 troops.

The Taliban had also claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack and called it a suicide bombing. Military officials said the blast came from an explosive planted in the vehicle, hired by the paramilitary Frontier Corps. While the army has its own transport vehicles, the paramilitary forces often hire vehicles when they need to move troops in large numbers.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Shahidullah Shahid, said the attack had been carried out to avenge the death of Waliur Rehman, the group's former second in command. He was killed last year in a US drone strike.

"We will avenge the killing of every one of our fellows through such attacks," the spokesman warned.

Shahid also claimed responsibility for the Rawalpindi blast, saying in another telephone call on Monday that the army was the target.

North Waziristan is considered a safe haven for al-Qaida-linked militants and Pakistani troop convoys in the region are often hit by roadside bombs, though attacks inside military compounds are rare.

Last December, a suicide bomber killed four Pakistani soldiers when he rammed an explosive-laden car into a checkpoint outside an army camp in North Waziristan. And last April, 30 Pakistani troops died over a four-day period in another part of the northwest called the Tirah Valley as part of an operation to oust militants hiding there.

The Pakistani military has been fighting for years in the tribal areas against militants who want to overthrow the government and establish a hard-line Islamic state. The tribal region is also a refuge for insurgents fighting NATO and US forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected last May, has promised to end the fighting through peace talks. But so far the Pakistani Taliban have shown little desire to negotiate with the government and ruled out talks after a US drone strike killed leader Hakimullah Mehsud on November 1. Previous attempts at talks quickly failed.

Mehsud's replacement, Mullah Fazlullah, is not seen as a supporter of peace talks. Fazlullah is known as a particularly ruthless militant who planned the failed assassination targeting teenage activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012.

But in their statement on Sunday, the Taliban said they would be open to talks with the government - but only if the government proved it was sincere and had enough "power," a reference to the perception that the army wields the real power in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister is chairing a Cabinet meeting later today to discuss country's counter-terrorism policy. — APBack




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