Killer tells tale of child sacrifice
BJP for dual policy on Bangla influx
Chomsky’s turn at carpet-bombing
Shunned Rajkumar aide in poll queue
Nitish chugs on Mamata rail trail
Advani words in Arun mouth stir up storm
Hounded Naxalites bury the hatchet
Surrender order resurrects fodder ghost
Huge slice of World Bank aid for TN

Nov. 5: 
My heart broke as I laid the child on the ground before Danav Baba (the demon god), then firmly pinned him down with my knees and slowly severed his tongue with a blade so he could not shout and disturb my chanting. I hypnotised the boy, then smashed his head against a rock.

After my puja was over, I throttled him and then threw the body into the Gaur river. The waters swept away his body.

The chilling narration over, Mula Gond, a 62-year-old man who confessed to sacrificing a six-year-old boy, was whisked away by police. Following Gond was 13-year-old Dinu, who the police have arrested on charges of being an accomplice.

The sacrifice was carried out on October 30 hardly 15 km from Jabalpur in central Madhya Pradesh to ensure that Mula’s children and grandchildren were gifted with long lives.

Mula’s tryst with Danav Baba started three years ago. “My entire family used to suffer endlessly. I lost four of my children to vague illnesses that doctors couldn’t cure. My wife, my daughters and grandchildren were perpetually ill,” he said.

After medicines failed, Mula vowed to offer Danav Baba, a tribal deity, manav bali (human sacrifice), if the “god cured my family of illnesses and made my children happy”.

“My family recovered almost immediately. There were no more illnesses, no more deaths. Two years passed by and I forgot about my promise to Danav Baba. Suddenly, he started haunting me in my dreams shouting, yelling and threatening, bali chahiye,” he said.

“I tried ignoring my dreams. But a month ago, he appeared in my dreams and said that if I did not fulfil my promise, he would kill my entire family, I realised their was no escape,” added Mula

The day was fixed, it was a Sunday night and overlapped with kartik purnima, which according to Mula was a good day to please the gods.

He went to the market and bought coconuts, incense sticks, earthen lamps needed for the puja and a havan, including charcoal, matchsticks, ghee and rice. Mula’s search for a human to sacrifice ended when he spotted his neighbour’s son Santosh playing outside the house.

Next morning, Mula approached Dinu, a teenager who worked as an agricultural labourer on the same field as him, for help.

On Sunday, the victim’s mother Guddibai left her two children, Shivkumari (8) and Santosh playing in the courtyard while she went to the market to buy vegetables .

Dinu told the police that after Guddibai left, he lured the boy with a paan treat. Santosh jumped on to Dinu’s bicycle and they rode away. As planned, Dinu handed over the child to Mula at the village bus stop.

Mula covered the boy with a towel, picked him up and walked seven kilometres on foot to reach Danav Baba’s mandir where he sacrificed the child that night.

Guddibai reported a missing case with the police late that night when Dinu denied he had taken the boy for a ride on the bicycle.

At 3.15 pm next day, the boy’s body was found at a dhobi ghat on the same river. An adivasi constable, Nand Lal Paraste, who himself practices black magic, then provided the breakthrough.

On seeing the injury marks on the body, he suspected the child was sacrificed and the police soon chanced upon the sacrifice site.

The police then made a list of all adivasis practising occult in the area and approached them one by one. Three men identified Mula as the man who they had seen walking down the banks of Gaur river carrying a little boy.

After denying his involvement for the next 24 hours, Mula confessed yesterday.


New Delhi, Nov. 5: 
The BJP has urged the Centre to make a “clear and official” distinction between Bangladeshi “infiltrators” and “refugees” so that they could be treated “differently”.

At the Amritsar national executive, a report by the party’s Bengal unit on the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh pointed out that as there was no Central directive on whether the “persecuted and brutalised” Hindus would be accepted, they were being treated on a par with the infiltrators. The report also alleged that the state police was subjecting the Bangladeshis to harassment and extortion.

The party called on the Centre to launch a “strong” diplomatic offensive on the Bangladesh government so that the atrocities on Hindus would stop and their properties restored. The BJP hopes such a move would force Dhaka to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of “anti-Hindu” crimes, especially murder and rape.

Asked if the distinction the BJP sought to make between the “refugees” and “infiltrators” was on the basis of religion, spokesperson Maya Singh said: “Religion is not the yardstick. Those in serious distress should be treated as refugees while those who come in search of jobs and other economic considerations should be considered infiltrators.”

But, in the past, whenever the party took up the issue of “infiltration” from Bangladesh, its position has been that Muslims would fall in that category while Hindus would be treated as “refugees” who could be given the rights and privileges of an Indian citizen. The rationale was that Hindus had “fled” Bangladesh to escape “religious persecution” by Islamic fundamentalists and, therefore, “deserved” to be treated “differently”.

The party’s distinction between “refugees” and “infiltrators” had become a sticking point in its alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad each time they tried to strike a pact.

The AGP was of the view that there was no difference on religious grounds as far as Bangladeshi migrants were concerned.

The Bengal unit’s report accused the state government of putting a “lid on all news in this regard to prevent polarisation of political support on Hindu-Muslim lines as also to prevent hurting its Bengali-Muslim vote bank”. It also noted that both the Congress and Trinamul Congress were silent on the issue.

The BJP demanded that “adequate” publicity be given to both the “atrocities” and the government’s “efforts” to stop them. It also said Central leaders should visit the states which share a border with Bangladesh to generate public opinion on the issue.

Bengal stand

The Left Front government in Bengal will treat the refugees from Bangladesh sympathetically, Front chairman Biman Bose said.

The government had no specific information as to how many Bangladeshis had actually crossed over.


New Delhi, Nov. 5: 
At roughly the time US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld was on the steps of South Block this morning describing the bombing campaign in Afghanistan as one of the smartest military operations in history, America’s leading critic was calling it “the worst form of biological warfare”.

Rumsfeld probably did not know it, but standing next to him, defence minister George Fernandes was among a keen audience who heard out Noam Chomsky over the weekend. Fernandes quietly left the venue on Saturday evening as Chomsky finished a speech that tore to shreds American policy in this war. But that lecture was only a warm-up to what was to follow today as Chomsky spoke on “militarism, democracy and the right to information”.

If Fernandes had learnt something he did not already know, it did not show as he affirmed India’s support to the war against terrorism and sought increased military cooperation in exchange at the South Block meeting.

Several kilometres north of the centre of power in the capital, at the Delhi School of Economics, pacifists were celebrating their own small festival of dissent with Chomsky in the lead. “Small”, by Calcutta standards, modest — generously so — by Delhi’s where the political culture is not only more centrist but also intolerant of criticism against Operation Enduring Freedom.

Just last month, six students of Delhi University were arrested on the serious charge of sedition for having distributed leaflets campaigning against the war.

Chomsky visits Calcutta next week — as a guest of the West Bengal government — and it is to be reasonably expected that the Left Front will turn out an audience for him that will be at the very least a multiple of the 1,000-odd who turned up to hear him today.

Chomsky did not disappoint. In a speech not marked by any flash of oratorical skill but laced with irony, he dissected American foreign policy as reflected in its current “purposeful programme of mass murder”. American bombs have blown up power stations and water supply utilities; the United Nations has been forced to terminate its mine-clearing operations to make way for cluster bombs; food aid to an already impoverished country has put at risk the lives of seven million men, women and children — what is this if it is not biological warfare? — and there has been no reaction to any of this in the US.

“It is perfectly normal for a western civilisation — and history will show that it is actually normal — to starve millions in a poor peasant society in the third world.”

Chomsky dwelt at length on Rumsfeld’s pet missile defence system — an attempt “to militarise space”, he called it — and the so-called “Washington Consensus”, the worldwide rush to justify, apologise for and join in an ideology of “market fundamentalism” that passes for globalisation.

The burden of Chomsky’s song — terrorism is not a weapon of the weak, but a weapon of the strong. America, he emphasised, is the only country in the world to be condemned by the International Court of Justice for terrorism.

The immediate reaction to Chomsky within the precincts of D-School — which put up banners announcing “Violence-Free Zone” — was enthusiastic.

Writer Arundhati Roy, heaved a sigh of relief to find one American who was not saying “all those stupid things” that Larry King and Dan Rathers and others keep saying on television all the time.


New Delhi, Nov. 5: 
International auctioneers Bowring’s held its first auction here today at the Oberoi’s ballroom to a capacity house packed with collectors, socialites and cocktail circuit regulars.

Paintings attracted the highest interest of the 135 lots put on the block. Hemendra Mazumdar’s Rose Or Thorn sold for a record Rs 18 lakh, but a second Mazumdar work was withdrawn because of controversy.

A landscape by Jamini Prakash Gangooly sold above its marked price at Rs 7.2 lakh, while a Nikolai Roerich landscape sold for Rs 6.2 lakh, with most of the bidding done over the phone.


Bangalore, Nov. 5: 
Maradagi Nagappa, the abandoned associate of actor Rajkumar, is giving politics a shot.

“It has been tough for me to make both ends meet since the kidnap crisis. My fortunes may change for the better if I win the elections,” says Nagappa, contesting as an Independent for the Bangalore City Corporation elections scheduled for November 11.

He has no manifesto to show but says if elected, he will sincerely work for the welfare of his corporation ward, Gayatrinagar.

Kannada Chaulvali leader and former MLA Vatal Nagaraj, who hails Nagappa as the “real hero”, says his organisation will support Nagappa’s candidature.

Nagappa, an assistant film director, shot into the limelight, when he escaped from the lair of most-wanted bandit Veerappan in the jungles bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu last year.

Since then, the Rajkumar family has been treating him with contempt for nearly jeopardising the life of the actor, then held hostage by Veerappan. The family feels by breaking loose from the brigand’s gang and running to freedom, Nagappa left Annavaru, as Rajkumar is fondly called by his millions of fans across the state, in the lurch.

Police have described Nagappa’s feat as spectacular because no one has ever managed to escape from Veerappan’s clutches since the sandalwood smuggler-cum-poacher began his “bloodletting” career two decades ago.

Nagappa simply did not only flee the jungle but summoned the courage to deliver a blow to Veerappan in the dead of the night before taking off. Nagappa had braved Veerappan for nearly two months.

Initially, the police believed he had cooked up the story. After corroborating evidence, chief minister S.M. Krishna was finally convinced that Nagappa had “played hero” after all.

But his escape severed his close relationship with the First Family of Karnataka.

“If he wins, it will not only bring in a regular income but also respectability,” says Nagappa’s wife, Nalini. “The film industry has shut its doors on us. No one is entertaining him,” she adds.

My husband has neither any job nor any source of income. We are finding it difficult even to pay school fees for our daughter,” complains Nalini.


Patna, Nov. 5: 
Apprehensive about Mamata Banerjee’s re-entry in the Union Cabinet at the cost of his railway portfolio, Samata Party leader Nitish Kumar is playing it her way.

Like the Trinamul Congress chief used to be as the railway minister, Kumar is seen less in his ministry and more in his home state Bihar, announcing new trains, addressing rallies and meeting partymen.

Changing equations in Bihar politics is also taking away much of his time. Trouble is brewing within the Samata in several districts. In Chhapra, 22 office bearers, including the district Samata chief, resigned late last month.

Kumar has been repositioning himself in the party and the state since the reinduction of George Fernandes as defence minister.

Kumar has been to most party meets in the state over the past month and his residence at Boring Road in Patna has become a hub of political parleys. Leaders of various Samata factions and some NDA constituents have been frequenting his house to get a measure of the state’s political mood.

Most new trains he launched or the ones extended run through Kumar’s political belt.

On November 12, he will inaugurate the Patna-Howrah Shatabdi Express. The superfast deluxe train will have a stop at Mokama, part of Kumar’s constituency.

Apart from extending the Bokaro Shatabdi to Ranchi, he has also extended the Sharamajibi Express till Rajgir. An express train will also run from Hajipur to Bajwara.

According to railway sources, Kumar attended at least 10 programmes in Bihar in the past two months, either opening computerised reservation counters or extensions of platforms.

“The railway minister these days agrees to any proposal — to even open a lavatory for a railway station,” said a Samata leader.

Kumar’s “uneasy relation” with Fernandes is believed to have prompted him to close ranks with his long-time rival in the NDA, Ram Vilas Paswan. Kumar not only shared the dais with the Lok Jana Shakti leader but with his help organised a farmers’ rally on October 31 at Hajipur, Paswan’s constituency.

Kumar also declared that he would not scrap any of the projects undertaken by Paswan during his stint as railway minister, ending speculation that Hajipur’s east-central zonal railway office was about to be shifted.

The new friends that Kumar is set to make are expected to serve as a political sideshow in a widening rift between the railway minister and the defence minister.

Kumar has been closer to Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav than anyone in the NDA. But now he has gone a step further by offering the renewal of talks for the Dal (U)-Samata merger.

Though Yadav’s insistence on continuing as the party president is still a stumbling block, Kumar has decided to continue the merger talks, sources said.


New Delhi, Nov. 5: 
The BJP is apparently in a tight spot over law minister Arun Jaitley’s quote which was attributed to home minister L.K. Advani in the course of the party’s just-concluded national executive.

The quote in question was on the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.

During a discussion on terrorism, Jaitley quoted Advani as warning the Opposition that if it opposed the Ordinance in Parliament it would be “appeasing terrorists” and would be seen as on the same side as them. Though the law minister said this in front of TV cameras as well as to the print media, it was said informally and not in a proper official briefing.

The quote was withdrawn by BJP president K. Jana Krishnamurthi when he met the press the following day. He said: “I know Advaniji for 30 years and he could not have said it.” Asked if Jaitley was deliberately misleading the press, Krishnamurthi said: “It is up to you to take his word or mine.”

When asked today for a further clarification, the BJP chief reiterated that he had not heard Advani say such a thing. General secretary Sanjay Joshi also backed Krishnamurthi, saying: “I do not remember Advaniji say anything of this sort. If the Opposition has a different point of view, how can anyone simply brand them as anti-national?”

Krishnamurthi said he would meet Advani tomorrow and ask him to explain what “really happened”. He also said Jaitley was not authorised to brief the press on the executive’s proceedings.

“On such occasions nobody is authorised to speak to the press. It was so when Advaniji and Atalji were BJP presidents,” he said. “Somewhere a slip has taken place.” But he made it clear that the law minister will not be taken to task. “It is not such a matter as to be taken up substantively,” Krishnamurthi said.

The seeming contradiction arose because Jaitley was keen to push through the home minister’s line on the Ordinance. He was the only Cabinet minister and BJP representative to appear in the media room on both days of the executive to wax eloquent on the Ordinance and emphasise that the Opposition will be in trouble if it challenged the Ordinance.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, on the other hand, spoke of evolving a “consensus”. He was quoted as saying this by Krishnamurthi.

PM insincere: Cong

The Congress today rejected Vajpayee’s offer to work out a consensus on the Ordinance, saying the BJP’s advocacy of the Tada clone was “dictated” by political considerations ahead of the elections in Uttar Pradesh.

AICC spokesman Jaipal Reddy called Vajpayee’s appeal “insincere” and said: “The Prime Minister’s statement calling for a consensus is not only belated but profoundly and patently insincere.”


Patna, Nov. 5: 
Close on the heels of the massacre by MCC guerrillas of 13 policemen in Dhanbad, the two banned rival Naxalite groups operating in the region — the MCC and the PWG — have decided to reconcile differences and strengthen their organisational base in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Seven frontal organisations of the PWG and MCC have, for the first time, decided to hold a joint demonstration in Patna tomorrow. The decision to hold the rally in Patna follows crackdowns on their activists by the Babulal Marandi government in Jharkhand.

Although an anti-US demonstration is the main agenda of the meeting, the frontal organisations will also target the NDA government at the Centre and the Marandi government.

These organisations include the All India People’s Resistance Forum, the Mazdoor Kisan Sangrami Parishad, the Bharatiya Naujawan Sabha, the Democratic Students’ Union, the Jan Pratirodh Sangharsh Manch, the Krantikari Buddhijivi Sangh and the Krantikari Sanskritik Sangh.

Announcing their joint rally at a press conference in Patna on October 29, outfit leaders declared they would propagate their ideology and highlight problems confronting the downtrodden masses.

The armed cadre of the MCC and the PWG are no longer a demoralised lot. Despite anti-militancy operations in several parts of Bihar and Jharkhand, the rebels have inflicted heavy casualties on forces opposed to them. The oufits are also gearing up to make the people aware of their work for the masses.

Both the MCC and the PWG have a long history of violence behind them. The MCC announced a unilateral ceasefire against the PWG in January last year, prompting the war group to order its cadre to cease hostilities against the Maoist communists two months later.


Patna, Nov. 5: 
Laloo Prasad Yadav’s worst fears came true today after the Supreme Court asked him to surrender before a special court in Ranchi on November 26 in connection with the fodder scam cases and refused to grant him blanket bail.

A three-judge bench of Justice K.T. Thomas, Justice S.S.M. Quadri and Justice U.C. Banerjee said the RJD chief could apply for bail after he surrendered. “It is for Yadav to satisfy the trial court in this regard,” the bench said.

The court, however, restrained the CBI from arresting Laloo till he appeared before the Ranchi court. The bench also ordered the special court to decide the bail application the same day.

Laloo, who had been dreading this prospect of having to appear before a trial court in Ranchi, capital of hostile BJP-led Jharkhand, appeared resigned. “When the jurisdiction has already been decided, what alternative I have except to surrender to the court in Ranchi. I have faith in the judiciary and I hope justice will be done in the Ranchi court,” the former Bihar chief minister said.

Despite the brave front, 1 Anne Marg, chief minister Rabri Devi’s official residence, was shrouded in gloom. No senior RJD or Congress leaders were around. Rabri, who was with her husband when the news first came in, disappeared from the courtyard where Laloo was briefing reporters.

The RJD chief said his only worries were over his wife and the government she was running. “She is too busy with the children to pay attention to every single nitty-gritty of governance,” he said. Then, in a flash of defiance, he added: “This, however, will not be any threat to the government. In my absence things will run more smoothly, for every minister in her Cabinet will work more sincerely when I will be in Ranchi.”

Laloo hopes that even if he is taken into custody on November 26, he would have to be produced regularly in the Patna court in connection with the disproportionate assets case, now in progress. “It is an everyday trial. So producing Laloo Yadav regularly from Ranchi would not be possible. We hope he will have to be kept in Patna’s Beur jail,” said senior RJD leader Ramkirpal Yadav.

Laloo and his associates also hope to make political capital of his incarceration in Jharkhand. “Even if I am forced into the dungeons of a jail, I will not sit idle. I have nine MLAs there who will come to meet me everyday,” he said, warning that any ill-treatment would snowball into a political issue. “And don’t worry, all the leading BJP leaders will have to go to jail,” he added as a parting shot.

Laloo said he would not make an issue of the surrender. His associates have been asked to restrain themselves, but RJD workers breathed fire. Who could stop them, they thundered, when their chief’s aides follow him to Ranchi.

Laloo had been preparing for the “surrender ceremony” from Saturday, when he visited his constituency, attending half-a-dozen rallies and announcing six new projects. Laloo cracked jokes to dispel the gloom. He escorted the reporters to his paddy field, where rodent-trappers from the Mushahar caste were on the job.

He asked the group leader how they trapped the pests. His face lit up as the Mushahar chief narrated how they enticed the rats out of their holes. “Don’t you think these men would be able to dig out (Osama) bin Laden from his hole more efficiently than the US?” he said breaking into a laugh.


Chennai, Nov. 5: 
The cash-strapped Tamil Nadu government has sought assistance from the World Bank for infrastructure and poverty reduction projects with an outlay exceeding Rs 20,700 crore, the single largest aid portfolio in recent years.

State finance minister C. Ponnaiyan, who returned from New Delhi after discussions with top World Bank officials, told reporters last night that over a dozen projects submitted for consideration evoked a “very appreciative response”. He added that the bank “in principle agreed to take up all these projects”.

In the pipeline is the Tamil Nadu road sector project with a capital outlay of Rs 4,000 crore. In the first phase, the state is to receive “very soon” Rs 1,900 crore for laying 750 km of highways and 12 by-pass roads, the minister said.

Ponnaiyan said the World Bank team was enthused by several of the projects mooted by ADMK leader Jayalalithaa. Some other proposed projects include the Tamil Nadu health system development project (Rs 650 crore) — to strengthen primary hospitals in villages and referral hospitals in suburban and rural areas — the Tamil Nadu women’s development project (Rs 3,194 crore) and the Tamil Nadu poverty reduction initiation project (Rs 1,154 crore).

All the schemes come under the category of “externally aided projects” where the assistance is routed through the Centre.

The minister ducked a query on whether Tamil Nadu proposed to borrow directly from the World Bank under a fiscal reforms package as the state’s finances were in “very bad shape”.


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