CBI double blow to Dalmiya
Bangaru puts Babri big guns in line of fire
Mumbai mafia targets woman
Hunt for monkey-diners
Strike cloud on chopper crash
Calcutta Weather

 
 
CBI DOUBLE BLOW TO DALMIYA 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
New Delhi & Calcutta, Nov. 13: 
The CBI today raided the premises of Jagmohan Dalmiya, WorldTel chief Mark Mascarenhas and five Doordarshan officials and lodged five separate cases against them for allegedly causing a loss of several crores of rupees to the government by awarding telecast rights for cricket and tennis matches to a private television channel though the national broadcaster had the same facilities.

CBI sources said the tournaments for which documents were dug up and will be scrutinised are the 1996 World Cup in the subcontinent, the 1997 French Open and the 1998 International Cricket Council (ICC) knockout tournament held in Dhaka. Dalmiya was president of the ICC during the Dhaka meet.

The CBI said it has some documents relating to the awarding of telecast rights to WorldTel, United Television Network (UTV) and television rights marketing company Stracon.

“Now that regular cases and FIRs have been lodged, the documents obtained will be scrutinised and the next step may lead to the arrest and interrogation of some of the suspected persons,” an official said.

He, however, declined to reveal details of the amount of loss caused to the exchequer.

The cases were lodged as a sequel to a series of early morning raids at 25 premises in Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore, Mumbai and Lucknow belonging to Dalmiya, Mascarenhas and the Doordarshan officials. The operation was carried out by investigators from the CBI’s anti-corruption wing. All the cases have been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Although CBI director R.K. Raghavan is abroad attending an Interpol conference, the cases were initiated after the bureau’s legal cell and other senior officials flashed the green light.

This is the second time in four months that Dalmiya’s residence and business establishments have been raided. On July 20, income-tax authorities had visited 35 premises of Dalmiya as part of the “search and seizure” operation against top cricketers, administrators and bookmakers.

A team of seven officials from the CBI, led by superintendent of police B.C. Bhatnagar, raided Dalmiya’s residence in Calcutta’s Alipore around 8.45 am today. Dalmiya said he was not questioned during the hour-long raid by the CBI officials who, he added, were “very polite”.

Dalmiya handed out to reporters a list of documents the sleuths were looking for. These included papers related to correspondence between:

Doordarshan and Stracon regarding Wimbledon 1997 and the 1998 ICC knockout in Dhaka.

Doordarshan and WorldTel on the 1997 Independence Cup and the Dhaka tournament.

Doordarshan and ICC regarding purchase of television rights for the Dhaka knockout.

Dalmiya said he could only help the CBI with documents related to the ICC. “They could have asked for the document... It is all on record,” he added. But he did not say whether the investigators seized any document.

Simultaneous raids were carried out in Delhi on the premises of UTV and Stracon, owned by Siddhartha Ray, sources said.

In Bangalore, Mascarenhas’ residence and office were searched and some documents seized. Raids were also carried out against five senior Doordarshan officials, including K.S. Sarma who was director-general during the 1996 World Cup. Their premises have been sealed.    


 
 
BANGARU PUTS BABRI BIG GUNS IN LINE OF FIRE 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Nov. 13: 
The resignations over the Gujarat chargesheet have re-opened the debate over whether L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti — chargesheeted for the Babri Masjid demolition — should take the cue and quit “gracefully”.

On Saturday, Harin Pathak, minister of state for defence, and Gujarat health minister Ashok Bhatt had quit after being chargesheeted by an Ahmedabad court for the alleged murder of a policeman in a riot during the 1985 anti-reservation stir.

The Prime Minister’s Office overcame pressure from the BJP and forwarded Pathak’s resignation letter to President K.R. Narayanan late tonight.

BJP chief Bangaru Laxman sparked off the debate yesterday when he told a television programme that the party would consider the issue if charges were framed against the three Union ministers named in the Babri chargesheet. “It will be definitely considered at that time,” Laxman said. “Everyone will have to prove that they had not committed a mistake.”

But Laxman added a rider, saying the “entire country and the entire party” knew that Advani and the others had not done anything of that sort.

An embarrassed BJP latched on to the latter part of Laxman’s statement in a bid to emphasise that the party was unanimous in backing the three. “Why is the press only focusing on the first half of the statement concerning the resignation? Laxman also made it clear that nobody believes the charges are true,” a leader said.

But BJP leaders were silent when pointed out that their president’s statement differed from the party’s stated position — that the Ayodhya case was a matter of “faith” and would stand the test only in a “people’s court” and, therefore, there was no question of any chargesheeted leader stepping down.

Sources also dismissed the suggestion that Pathak and Bhatt had set a precedent for leaders to follow on a matter that did not involve corruption and “moral turpitude”.

“We will go on a case-by-case norm and will not follow any broad precedents,” said a source.

So far, the BJP had maintained that leaders should quit only on corruption charges and not on those originating from political “agitations”.

It also used this logic to justify Advani’s resignation from the Lok Sabha after he was charged in the hawala scam.

“Ayodhya was a political agitation and Advani took it as one. There is enough evidence to show that Advani and the others were exhorting the crowd not to demolish the structure,” said spokesman Jana Krishnamurthy.

The party’s defence of Pathak and Bhatt also revolves around this distinction between “politically motivated” cases and those involving abuse of office. “This is not a case involving moral turpitude. There is intrinsic evidence to show these two persons were not present in the crowd which allegedly killed the police constable,” Krishnamurthy said.

BJP sources reluctantly admitted that the differences between the party and the government in the Pathak case and Laxman’s views on the Babri chargesheet reflected the party’s internal “tensions”. They added that Advani was not too happy with the way the two were asked to resign. First, because Gujarat was his political battleground and, second, the resignations could set a precedent for him.    


 
 
MUMBAI MAFIA TARGETS WOMAN 
 
 
FROM DEBASHIS BHATTACHARYYA
 
Mumbai, Nov. 13: 
Unidentified gunmen today shot at Neeta Naik, a Shiv Sena councillor and wife of jailed gangster Ashwin Naik, in a Central Mumbai apartment building, injuring her critically.

Neeta was shot in the head, neck and stomach as she climbed the stairs to her flat in Subhasis Building on N.M. Joshi Road around 1.30 pm, police and Sena leaders said. She was admitted to K.M. Hospital in Parel, where her condition was stated to be “extremely serious”. Mumbai was rife with rumours that Neeta had died, but there was no confirmation from the police.

The attack has raised the spectre of a renewed spurt in gangland violence in the country’s commercial capital. It comes barely 10 days after the Chhota Rajan gang killed three suspected associates of Chhota Shakeel — Karachi-based don Dawood Ibrahim’s right-hand man — in retaliation against the September 15 attempt on Rajan in Bangkok. Ashwin Naik, who is in prison, is the brother of gangster Amar Naik, who was killed in an encounter last year.

Police could not immediately say if the attack was linked to the Rajan-Ibrahim rivalry. In the past, Dawood’s gang has killed mid-level Sena and BJP leaders after Rajan’s hitmen took out the 1993 Mumbai blasts suspects. The D-company has not attacked any woman leader before.

Police were still not sure of the number of assailants or how they escaped. They suspect the attackers might have used handguns fitted with silencers. Naik was returning from a Sena conference in Amravati district. “We all got down from a train at Dadar around 12.30 pm and she immediately left for home,” said Dagru Sakpal, Sena MLA from Lalbag. But Sakpal refused to say who the party suspects to be behind the attack. “It is for the police to find out,” he added.

A history graduate from Sophia College, Neeta, now in her early forties, married Ashwin, an engineer-turned gangster, in 1987 after a love affair. They have a son and a daughter, both of whom were inside the flat at the time of the attack.

Neeta was elected councillor on a Sena ticket in 1992 and re-elected in 1997 from Chinchpokli. She was also a strong contender for mayor in the mid-Nineties. After heading the corporation’s education committee, Neeta was put on the crucial standing committee on financial affairs. Sources claimed that Neeta was running her husband’s gang since his arrest by the West Bengal police last year while trying to cross over into Bangladesh.

Apparently, the police had no charges against her.    


 
 
HUNT FOR MONKEY-DINERS 
 
 
FROM PROBIR PRAMANIK
 
Kalimpong, Nov. 13: 
Two limbs of a monkey lay scattered inside a smouldering farmhouse in the orange orchard.

North Bengal police snapped up the remnants of the apparent supper as evidence that the militants who killed a homeguard yesterday and held off a raiding party for 24 hours were Nagas. The authorities have pressed Central forces into the manhunt launched today.

“The recovery of limbs of the monkey at the hideout establishes that the militants are Nagas. A body of a militant (one of the two rebels killed in the encounter) also makes it apparent,” North Bengal inspector-general of police N.R. Das said.

The police suspect they belong to the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah). “They have been using the remote Tinkathari-Guabari village close to the Bhutan border as a camp to train a local militant outfit. We are yet to identify the outfit,” he said.

Chattray Subba, who had revived the Gorkhaland Liberation Organisation, has denied any link with the rebels.

Recovering from the shock, a heavily armed force today scoured the forest for the militants who disappeared after setting fire to the farmhouse. The security forces suspect they are still holed up inside the forest.

The farmhouse, atop a strategic hill, offered the advantage of height to the militants, helping them to pin down the police party for a long time.

“We were asleep when the encounter started late on Saturday night,” said a woman who stays a kilometre away from the farmhouse.

“On several occasions, groups of eight to nine young men in army fatigues and black dungarees moved around in the evening. We presumed that they were soldiers from the nearby camps in the Dooars,” she said. “Twice a few of these men came to our house looking for chicken.”

She warned that the Nagas could be hiding above the orchard. The possibility of the militants still being in the vicinity was strengthened by a teenager. “After the police party left the spot around midnight, we heard a lot of movement in the forest,” he said. All routes have been sealed.    


 
 
STRIKE CLOUD ON CHOPPER CRASH 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
New Delhi & Calcutta, Nov. 13: 
The wreckage of an Indian Air Force helicopter with five bodies and as many survivors was found today in the Rann of Kutch near the western border with Pakistan.

Though defence minister George Fernandes said there was no reason to suspect Pakistan’s role in the incident, air force chief A.Y. Tipnis tonight suggested that the helicopter may have been shot down. “It is a possibility. But it is premature to say so at this moment,” Tipnis told a news channel.

Tipnis, who visited the crash site, said three BSF survivors told him they saw three fishing boats in the area. But no Indian boats operated there.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 32.4°C (+2)
Minimum: 20.3°C (+l)

Rainfall:

Nil

Relative humidity

Maximum: 96%,
Minimum: 41%

Today

Partly cloudy sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 20°C    
 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company