A friend indeed and a friend in need
Flash of smile at squeeze on Jaish
Sailen killer in Ajmer net
Woman loses uterus & SC plea
CM fate hangs in balance
Hospitals on bio-war wrong foot
Jet announces new fares
Terror clouds over Goa
UK prepares to fight bio-war
Calcutta Weather

Washington, Sept. 26: 
When the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are avenged and America’s anger is assuaged, the difference between Pakistan and India will stand out in the minds of those who make decisions at the White House, on Capitol Hill or the rest of the Bush administration.

Pakistan has grabbed everything that it has been offered in terms of lifting of sanctions, economic aid or legitimacy for its military junta and is asking for more and more.

India, on the other hand, is not even asking for proof that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks in New York and Washington this month. Like a reliable friend of the US who is standing by in case of need, India is taking America’s word at its face value and is of the view that proof or no proof, the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and religious extremism in South Asia are evils which have to be rid of.

Nothing serves India’s interests better.

This difference in Indian and Pakistani approaches to the emerging anti-terrorist coalition was highlighted during national security adviser Brajesh Mishra’s visit to Washington which concluded yesterday. Among others, he met defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Some of those who served under Henry Kissinger when he stealthily visited China for the first time through Islamabad and others who served under Ronald Reagan when Pakistan was made a frontline state against the Soviets in Afghanistan have a sense of deja vu about what Musharraf is doing now.

Many of them are part of the Bush administration. They say Pakistan has always survived and thrived on America’s ‘adversity’ as a superpower.

Sources privy to Mishra’s talks on Capitol Hill, the White House and the Pentagon insist that he did not even refer in passing to Indo-Pak relations. He did not have to tell the Americans Pakistanis have strong links with al Qaida. It was clear from what US officials told him that they were more than aware of the connection.

Underneath such diplomacy, lacking in aggressiveness, was the realisation in the Prime Minister’s Office that India could not now expect the US to give priority to New Delhi’s concerns about Kashmir and the like when Washington is burdened with monumental challenges of its own.

It is interesting to contrast such an approach with that of Pakistan. According to reports reaching here, during talks with a US military delegation yesterday, Pakistan’s top army brass demanded assurances from Washington limiting US military assistance to Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance.

They expressed unhappiness over the decision by the White House to target Pakistan-based terrorist groups and US refusal to seek a fresh UN mandate for military action.

Pakistan also wants a review of US policy on the inclusion of Muslim states in the anti-terrorist coalition.

All that Mishra told the Americans, sources here said, was that in its fight against terrorism the US should not make any distinction between al Qaida and other terrorist outfits in the vicinity of Afghanistan.

Otherwise the effort to get rid of bin Laden and al Qaida will be counter-productive. The forces of terror will resurface later under another brand name. The implications of Mishra’s message was clear to all those who heard it here. Indeed, Rumsfeld, one of Mishra’s interlocutors here, yesterday said in public for the first time that “revolving coalitions” would be needed to deal with terrorism.

That means the US would strike against some states or outfits with the support of one group of coalition partners. In another strike, some of these partners would be left out.

Rumsfeld’s statement is pregnant with implications. It means America needs Pakistan today to get bin Laden “dead or alive”, but it may not need Islamabad tomorrow as some other potentially dangerous terrorist networks are targeted. There are men in the army general headquarters in Rawalpindi who read this writing on the wall. That explains Pakistan’s gyrations in the last two days to secure all kinds of assurances from Washington.

For the moment, though, the Bush administration is willing to go to any length to please Pakistan. Without Islamabad’s support, there isn’t the faintest hope America can lay its hands on bin Laden.

Everyone who met Mishra here and in New York earlier said there would be no change in course on relations with India. Such an assertion even in the midst of America’s worst crisis in half a century says it all.


New Delhi, Sept. 26: 
India’s mood lifted today with the belated realisation that the Al Rasheed Trust blacklisted by the Bush administration was a front for the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist outfit active in Kashmir.

Though New Delhi had concealed its disappointment, privately there was a feeling of being let down when the US announced the list of 27 individuals and terrorist groups whose accounts would be frozen. The Harkat-ul Mujahideen was the only Kashmir militant outfit on the list.

Uncomfortable questions were raised in some quarters about the government’s rush to support the US when Washington was paying no heed to India’s concerns.

Some of these misgivings were allayed a full 24 hours later when government agencies discovered that the Karachi-based Al Rasheed Trust has close links to the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The group was floated by Masood Azhar, one of the three militants freed in exchange for the release of passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines flight on New Year’s Day last year.

Indian officials said the Al Rasheed Trust was founded by Hyder M. Habib, owner of the Habib Bank, Pakistan’s most successful private bank. The cash-rich trust is headed by Mullah Khail and receives funds from at least 57 Muslim countries.

The trust, which does a lot of charitable work, also uses its funds to support jihadi groups in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya, the officials added.

Al Rasheed provides allowances to families of “martyrs” who die fighting infidels. Jihadi prisoners are given legal and financial assistance in India and elsewhere.

The trust finances blood banks and pays for artificial limbs for those crippled while fighting the enemies of Islam.

It funds setting up of madarsas, the launching pads for recruiting militants, and organises religious programmes for the young. Al Rasheed also helps raise volunteers for jihad.

The trust has offices all over the world, four of them in Karachi. The University Road branch, located opposite the PIA Planetarium, controls foreign funds and acts as a liaison between Taliban and Jaish-e-Mohammed leaders and field commanders.

Another branch of the Al Rasheed Trust in Uzma Centre, opposite Madina Masjid on Tariq Road, is said to be the centre for recruiting Afghan nationals and serves as a meeting point for Jaish-e-Mohammed cadre.

However, officials say the trust also does a lot of good work in Afghanistan — repairing roads, setting up bakeries and supplying food to people in remote mountain villages.

India has asked the US to ban the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, home minister L.K. Advani said today.

“So far we have not received any response from the US on this,” Advani said, adding that while Britain had banned the two outfits, Washington was yet to follow suit.


Calcutta, Sept. 26: 
A pilgrimage to seek divine blessing backfired on Biswajeet Burman, the prime accused in the murder of Dum Dum municipality chairman Sailen Das.

Burman, who is believed to have pulled the trigger on Das on August 13, was arrested from Ajmer Sharif early this morning.

Inspector-general of police (south Bengal) Prasun Mukherjee said “on the basis of specific information”, a police team had camped in Ajmer waiting for Burman, who walked straight into the net near Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s dargah. “A second person, an associate of Biswajeet, has also been arrested. But he has so far not been identified,” Mukherjee added.

The police team monitoring the case suspects that the second person had helped Burman escape from Calcutta after the murder. “I don’t think he is one of the killers. He is wanted in other criminal cases, but he was staying with Burman in the dargah area when we finally caught him,” superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas) M. Harisen Verma said this evening. “We will learn more about the details after they arrive tomorrow morning,” he added.

On August 13, three assailants gunned down the 72-year-old Das in front of his P.K. Guha Lane residence. During the course of investigation, police learnt that Burman, a contract killer, was given Rs 2 lakh by S.P. Kamath, a close associate of former Dum Dum municipality chairman Sudhir Bhattacharya, to eliminate Das. The plot was hatched at the residence of Ibrahim, who supplied the motorcycle used by the assailants during the killing.

Burman lured three small-time-crook friends — Bachchan, Chotka and Ismail — into the conspiracy with promises of “big money” from the supari killing. The police learnt about Burman after Kamath and Ibrahim spilled the beans during interrogation. Ismail was arrested a few days ago and the police recovered the weapon used to kill Das.

Two days ago, a police team from Dum Dum rushed to Ajmer Sharif after receiving information that Burman would travel to the town from New Delhi for the annual urs.

“He made the mistake of contacting his few trusted friends in Dum Dum on whom we were keeping a close watch. The moment we learnt about his whereabouts, we started our operation,” an official said.

Burman told the police that immediately after killing Das, he left by road for Puri, where he stayed for a few days with local criminals, before moving to Delhi. He stayed in the capital for some days before shifting to neighbouring towns and constantly changed hideouts.


New Delhi, Sept. 26: 
The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of a woman who lost her uterus in an operation as she could not establish beyond doubt negligence on the part of the doctors.

A division bench of Justice S. Rajendra Babu and Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said: “In a large majority of cases, it has been demonstrated that a doctor will be liable for negligence in respect of diagnosis and treatment in spite of a body of professional opinion approving his conduct if it has not been established to the court’s satisfaction that such opinion relied on is reasonable or responsible.”

The judges said: “If it can be demonstrated that the professional opinion is not capable of withstanding the logical analysis, the court would be entitled to hold that the body of opinion is not reasonable or responsible.”

However, in the case of the “unfortunate woman losing her uterus”, the apex court said it could not come to the conclusion that the course adopted by the doctor was illogical.

The appellant had gone for a pregnancy termination at the Lakshmi Hospital in the capital.

Her husband and others contended that after some time the doctor came out of the labour room to inform them that the patient was in a serious condition and needed an operation. The woman later found that her uterus was missing.

The court cited cases where a medical procedure adopted could be a departure from the orthodox course of treatment.

But the judges said it should be proved beyond doubt that the deviation resulted in irreparable loss.

The National Consumer Commission has also dismissed the woman’s claims as she could not “prove negligence on the part of the respondent” doctors and the hospital.

The court added that there might be cases in which expert evidence could not be relied upon to establish the proper level of skill and competence.

The judges said: “If the record discloses expert evidence both for and against a particular procedure, whether the evidence adduced is reasonable and responsible and whether such evidence is capable of withstanding the logical analysis is for the court to decide.”

This means that though there may be contrary expert opinions and evidences, courts conclude their validity on the basis of logical analysis.


New Delhi, Sept. 26: 
The BJP’s top brass appears to be in a dilemma on whether it should replace Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel for the party’s poor showing in the recent by-election.

While indications from the 11 Ashoka Road headquarters suggested that Patel was almost certain to go, Gujarat BJP sources maintained that the issue hinged on two factors. One, whether the move would invite a split at a time when the nation had more serious concerns and second, who would replace Patel.

Patel arrived in the capital today along with state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana and general-secretary (organisation) Sanjay Joshi. The chief minister had a three-hour closed-door meeting with home minister L.K. Advani. Party president K. Jana Krishnamurthi and central prabari in charge of Gujarat Madan Lal Khurana were also present.

But it was the presence of Madan Das Devi, the RSS joint general-secretary in charge of its political wing, which fuelled speculation that Patel’s exit was almost certain. Krishnamurthi met Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee later in the day.

Earlier, Khurana had indicated that it was just a matter of time before Patel would be eased out. “A decision will be taken in the meeting (between Krishnamurthi and the Vajpayee) and it will be communicated to you later,” he told the press.

But after the 15-minute one-to-one session, the BJP chief hinted that the issue was still open. Krishnamurthi said he expected to meet Vajpayee in a day or two depending on the Prime Minister’s “convenience”, only after which a decision on Patel’s fate would be taken. “Whatever decision has to be taken by the central leadership will be taken at that time,” he said.

Krishnamurthi said the Gujarat leaders were directed to prepare a report on reasons for the party’s defeat in the bypolls. “Advaniji and the Prime Minister will act on the basis of that report and depending on its findings, they will arrive at their conclusions and at that time take a decision,” he stated.

BJP sources claimed that Advani wanted to show the door to Patel after the party lost the Sabarmati Assembly seat. The constituency falls under the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat which the home minister represents. For Advani, Gujarat is as politically crucial as Uttar Pradesh is for Vajpayee. “It is their respective karma bhoomi,” said the sources.

Just as the Prime Minister ensured that Kalyan Singh was ousted as the chief minister after the 1999 general elections debacle, Advani, too, wanted Patel to go if the BJP had to salvage its prospects in Gujarat before the next Assembly polls.

Apparently, Patel has got his act together once he scented his impending dismissal. When TV channels beamed Khurana’s statement on Patel’s imminent ouster, he reportedly got furious and called Khurana to seek an explanation. Khurana denied the quote attributed to him. The chief minister has deferred his departure by a day.

Among the names mentioned as possible successors are Union ministers Kashiram Rana and Vallabhbhai Kathiria and state minister Suresh Mehta, who had replaced Patel in 1995.


New Delhi, Sept. 26: 
Hospitals in the capital are ill-equipped to handle victims of chemical or biological warfare, but doctors promise there will be no shortage of blood.

“In case of a biological and chemical war, our hospital is not equipped to face the situation. Such a situation creates mass casualties overnight, where over 400 people may need assistance,” says Dr Jagdish Prasad, medical superintendent and consultant in cardiac surgery at the Safdarjung hospital.

“Our hospital has only 60 emergency wards and we will need more equipment to deal with the calamity. At present we have 35 ventilators, and though this is the largest in the capital, it is not sufficient to deal with a calamity of such a scale,” Prasad said.

Prasad added: “We will do our best to come to help if a war breaks out. We will discharge our routine patients and take those people who need immediate treatment. Probably, we will have to take measures similar to the Uphaar tragedy when we had to work overtime.”

A haematologist with the Lions Hospital shuddered at the prospect of a biological war being unleashed on the capital. “The use of chemical and biological weapons will affect thousands, and 99.9 per cent hospitals in Delhi are not equipped to deal with such a situation. Not only India, a number of hospitals outside cannot deal with such a situation. Even medical literatures don’t say much about handling people affected by such a war,” said Dr T.K. Basu.

Painting a grim picture, Basu said: “The use of cyanide gas used for chemical warfare will be lethal. Respiratory problem is one of the immediate outcome of such a war.”

Dr S.C. Basu, another medical consultant in the city, said that, apart from causing respiratory problems, toxic gases affect the sex gland as well.


New Delhi, Sept. 26: 
Jet Air-ways has rationalised fares on some sectors, leading to savings of between Rs 80 and 600 in one-way air travel. The new fares take effect from October 1.

The point-to-point fares for long-distance travel have also been rationalised, resulting in a reduction ranging from Rs 200 to 300. Special fares will continue on most sectors.

The new fares, all one-way, will be: Delhi-Bagdogra Rs 5,750 (down Rs 600); Delhi-Jammu Rs 3,280 (down Rs 200): and Delhi-Varanasi Rs 3,750 (down Rs 355).


Sept. 26: 
Goa will face a second off-season if George Bush strikes soon.

Hoteliers feel the beach lovers’ paradise will be hit hard if events take a more serious turn in the US, as more tension will affect the chartered flights that bring in droves of foreign tourists to Goa every year. Overseas tourists arriving in chartered flights — which offer cheap fare — have been the mainstay of Goa tourism since 1987.

“Our season picks up from October-November when the flights start coming. There may be huge cancellations if tension intensifies,” says an official of the Majorda Beach Resort in Goa.

Dominic Noronha, who represents Finnair in Goa, claims the impact is already being felt. “We handle charters from Goa, and had permission for two flights a week. One flight each week has already been cancelled. People are afraid to travel (at times like these),” says Noronha.

“It depends on what happens in the next two or three weeks,” says Helmut Michelburg, general manager, Taj Exotica. Nearly a quarter of the one-million-plus tourists per year in Goa are foreigners and local tourism depends on them. They get to travel cheap in the chartered flights which operate mainly from Europe in association with travel agencies.

The agencies arrange block bookings in both flights and hotels. “The cost works out to about one-fifth of the amount a foreign tourist would have had to pay if he or she had travelled on his own,” says Reo Ferron Martin, marketing manager, International Business Travellers’ Club.

Large hotel projects have come up in Goa over the years to cater to charter tourists. Big hotels like the three Taj Group hotels, the Renaissance resort and Majorda resort also depend heavily on the charter tourists. “Charter tourists add up to about 70 per cent of our guests,” says Chandrakant S. Sangawar of Majorda.

A drop in the charter flights will also affect the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, and Kerala, the two other foreign tourist hotspots in India, hoteliers said.

Some in Goa believe that the adverse impact is being played down since those in the trade feel that any additional negative publicity could result in bursting Goa’s “tourism bubble”.

“Those who have been following the events closely know there’s no reason to panic,” says Sangawar. Others feel it is too early to predict anything. Subhash Phegdhe of the Vasco-based Aircon agents says there is no impact till now. The firm handles some 12 British charter flights each week, mainly on Friday-Saturday-Sundays, landing at Goa’s navy-controlled Dabolim airport. “It all depends on how the situation develops. Right now, there’s no news of fewer flights,” says Phegdhe.

Social analyst, cost-engineer and environmental campaigner Anthony J. Simoes agrees. “I don’t think the Afghanistan situation should affect tourism in Goa. What we could see is a contained war, not a full-scale all-out one. The territory there doesn’t lend itself to carpet-bombing unlike in Iraq. There could be surgical removals in Afghanistan.”


London, Sept. 26: 
Britain’s hospitals have started buying emergency equipment to deal with the aftermath of germ or biological warfare, as the war comes closer home, and London is seen as a major target.

The National Health Service (NHS) has started buying decontamination units, protective clothing and vaccines as part of the contingency plans to handle chemical warfare. Alan Milburn, the health secretary said yesterday that he had asked the NHS to review its emergency contingency plans in the light of the US terrorist attacks to ‘’ensure they are flexible and can cope with different eventualities.’’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday warned governments to start preparing response plans in the event of such an attack. The WHO said this may involve diseases such as anthrax, botulism — which causes paralysis — or smallpox. The threat could come from the air, in food or from contaminated supplies. A plane carrying just 100 kgs of anthrax could kill millions if it sprayed its cargo over a major city.

A 400-strong joint army-RAF regiment is on permanent stand-by in case of a chemical attack. The RAF regiment, based at Honington, Suffolk, has been fine-tuning its prototype rapid tracking and analysis system which detects biological agents. These can detect chemical agents by analysing them in the air.

Any terrorist attempt to fly aircraft such as crop sprayers, towards British cities would generate an instant RAF attack.

Emergency services and local authorities across the country are also on alert and water utilities, electricity plants and reservoirs have been ordered to tighten security. Plans for a national civil emergencies agency are also under way.

Anchor Supplies, in Nottingham, which sells military surplus equipment, yesterday claimed to be selling 1000 masks a week.

But experts have warned that there is little a gas mask will do to protect anyone from a biological attack. “Nerve gases like Sarin, affect the skin and masks would not do any good,’’ said Dr Simon Whitby of the University of Bradford’s department of peace studies. Also many of the chemical poisons act slowly on the body, infecting the persons weeks before the symptoms become visible.

Russia applies pressure

Russia today urged more than a dozen countries to sign up to a 1997 international chemical weapons convention or face condemnation as “suspects who open the way to terrorism”, reports Reuters from The Hague.

The international body in charge of implementing the chemical weapons control accord needed to take “tough action” against countries which did not sign up, a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said on a visit to the Netherlands.

“The option is either you join the convention or you become suspects who open the way to terrorism,” Russia’s chemical disarmament chief and former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko said.

Russia is one of 143 member states of the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Nineteen countries have not signed the convention. “Many of these (non-member) countries are in the Middle East...,” Kirienko said.

Russia inherited the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpile from the Soviet Union and is aiming to destroy its 40,000 tonnes of toxic agents by 2012. The US has 32,000 tonnes, Kirienko said.




Maximum: 34.9°C (+3)
Minimum: 26.4°C (0)



Relative Humidity

Maximum: 95%,


Partly clear sky.
Sunrise: 5.30 am
Sunset: 5.27 pm

Maintained by Web Development Company