Ansari’s Man Friday in the net
Advani, wanted in Pakistan
Mobile roaming rate cut by a third
Mention for India, applause for Pak, eyeballs for Tyson
Mexico waits for Naidu IT magic
Calcutta Weather

Jan. 30: 

Chief organiser captured alive in Calcutta

The jigsaw pieces in the January 22 American Center attack in Calcutta have begun to fall into place with police today catching one of the suspects involved in the conspiracy — not dead, but alive.

For the first time since the strike in which four policemen were gunned down by motorcycle-borne assailants, Calcutta police also tasted success when they picked up Jamaluddin Nasir from a congested eastern neighbourhood.

Nasir, described by the police as the “chief organiser” of the attack, had rented the house in Hazaribagh that was raided early Monday morning. In the ensuing “encounter”, Mohammad Idris and Salim had died. Idris, according to the police, had confessed to firing outside the American Center. The person riding the motorcycle, Sadaqat, has still not been found.

With Nasir, 30, the police also arrested Dilip Singh, 35, said to be a real estate promoter.

Calcutta police chief Sujoy Chakraborty said Nasir is the “current Man Friday” of Dubai-based Aftab Ansari who had claimed responsibility for the January 22 attack.

“The two militants, Mohammed Idris, alias Zahid, and Sadaqat, who sprayed bullets on policemen in front of the American Center, were in close touch with Nasir during their stay in the city,’’ Chakraborty said.

The police recovered the motorcycle (WB01P 2144) which, they said, the assailants had used during the strike and a private car (BRK 4907), described as the getaway vehicle.

Singh is known to have sold three flats in Tiljala, where Nasir led the police, to Asif Reza Khan. While claiming responsibility, Ansari had said the attack had been carried out by AR Commandos, named after Asif Reza, to avenge his death in an encounter in Gujarat.

“Idris and Sadaqat had stayed in Asif’s well-furnished apartment before and after the attack,’’ the police commissioner said.

“Nasir and Asif studied in Beniapukur High Madarsa from the nursery level. They were close friends. We have enough evidence to suggest that Nasir took over Asif’s role after his death,’’ Chakraborty added.

In a simultaneous success in Gaya district of Bihar, a joint team of Delhi, Jharkhand and Bihar police arrested a person called Hasan Imam, who, they said, might lead them to other members of the gang that organised the January 22 attack.

Nasir told the police about his long association with Asif. He said he was introduced by Asif to Idris, Salim and Sadaqat in April last year as leather merchants from north India.

Relating how the police got to Nasir, Chakraborty said Soumen Mitra, the deputy commissioner of police, detective department, while probing in Hazaribagh had found a telephone number (2846918). “We traced the number to a madarsa at Beniapukur. Investigations revealed that Nasir’s father, Fatehuddin, is a senior teacher of the madarsa,’’ Chakraborty said.

Fatehuddin told detectives, who had gone in the guise of Nasir’s business associates, that Nasir was staying at his in-laws’ place at P-13 Darga Road.

Around midnight on Tuesday Nasir was pulled out of his sleep. He took detectives to a building at 1 Tiljala Lane. Dilip Singh, who had constructed the building, had sold a flat there to Asif. Detectives forced open the door and entered the flat. Inside, they found forged letterheads and papers of the CBI and Calcutta police.

Nasir said Idris and Sadaqat had informed him by e-mail that they would arrive at Howrah station by Jodhpur Express on January 16. “Nasir drove the car to pick up the two from the station. They drove to the Tiljala Lane apartment from the station. The finer details of the operation were planned by Idris, Sadaqat and Salim in the Tiljala apartment,’’ Chakraborty said.

After the January 22 operation, they returned to the flat — the strike bike and car were parked in the space there. “Idris and Sadaqat stayed in the apartment on January 22 and took a taxi to Howrah station on January 23,’’ Chakraborty added. They boarded the Gaya Passenger train to reach Hazaribagh.

“On not seeing them on January 23, I went over to Hazaribagh, thinking that they might have gone there. I had rented the Hazaribagh house on behalf of Asif for our business,’’ he told the police.

Nasir said he saw Idris, Sadaqat and Salim there. “When I quizzed them about the attack on the American Center, they told me that one has to do such things for the sake of motherland (Pakistan). I quickly left the area and returned to the city,’’ Nasir told detectives.


Karachi & New Delhi, Jan. 30: 
Guess who’s on the possible list of criminals Pakistan wants India to hand over? Lal Krishna Advani.

The home minister is wanted for conspiring to assassinate Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1947, according to a report an English daily, The News, carried today.

Officials in the foreign office in Islamabad refused to comment till they had verified the story. But in Karachi, some court officials said they have found a “dormant” file which names Advani and others as absconders.

The case is based on an FIR (number 4/47) registered on September 10, 1947, by the then station house officer at Jamshed Quarters, Inspector Tooti Ram. The 18 accused were charged with hatching a criminal conspiracy to assassinate then governor-general Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Khawaja Nazimuddin and other top-line leaders of the Pakistan movement.

Six of them were arrested while the remaining 12, including Advani and some leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), absconded.

The arrested — Khem Chand s/o Gopal Das, Nand Ram s/o Gobind Ram, Gobind s/o Lal Singh, Hargobind s/o Ghando Mal, Santo s/o Ghando Mal and Tayken Das s/o Jairam — were tried and convicted. They were awarded different penalties by the court.

The case against the 12 absconding accused was placed in the dormant file pending their arrest. Later, New Delhi and Islamabad reached an agreement under which the six convicts were extradited to India on September 19, 1948.

But the case against Advani and the absconding VHP leaders is still pending and the Pakistan government can demand their handover.

This is not the only case against the home minister, who is also an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case in India.

The BJP dismissed the News report as “concocted and mischievous” but did not dispute that Advani was in Pakistan when the case was filed.

Party spokesman Sunil Shastri said: “There is no truth in it. It is a concocted story which cannot be believed at all.”

But party colleague J.P. Mathur, who is a close associate of Advani over several decades, said false cases were foisted on RSS activists in Pakistan during the Partition, and this could be one of them.

Mathur added that the timing of the charge was “completely motivated”. “It is clear they (Pakistan) will not hand over Dawood Ibrahim,” he said.

Advani was living at Hyderabad in Sind at the time of Partition and was an active worker of the RSS, which he had joined in 1942 at 15. A book on the BJP-RSS, Hindu Nationalists in India, by Yogendra Malik and V.B. Singh, says Advani was born in 1927 into a Hyderabad-based business family and was educated at St Patrick’s School in Karachi.

The book says Advani and his family migrated to India a few months after Pakistan was formed in August 1947, a claim supported by a close associate of the home minister in the BJP.


New Delhi, Jan. 30: 
Cellphone users have got another beep bonanza: airtime rates for roaming access have been slashed to Rs 3 per minute from Rs 10. The new rates will come into effect from March 1.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today directed cellular operators to scrap the Rs 3,000 upfront deposit that had to be paid for the facility which enables cellphone users to receive calls outside their cellular circles. The rental for the roaming facility will be maintained at Rs 100 a month for both pre-paid and post-paid subscribers.

Under the new terms, a mobile subscriber of Calcutta who is on a visit to Delhi will be able to receive calls from family and friends at an airtime (talk time) of less than Rs 3 per minute.

The telecom regulator took the decision following complaints from consumers that the charges for roaming with cellular mobile were very high and needed to be reviewed.

The authority also noted that while airtime rates applicable in the subscriber’s home network have been declining over time, airtime charges for roaming have generally remained stable at Rs 10 per minute.

The authority has notified a reduction in the charges for national/regional roaming in its Telecommunication Tariff (Eighteenth Amendment) Order, 2002. This amendment, however, does not change the regime for international roaming.

Trai has also set a surcharge of up to a maximum of 15 per cent, but this surcharge can be applied only on the airtime component. The surcharge cannot be applied to the public switch telecom charge component, which is the STD charge currently fixed at Rs 9 per minute.

In general, roaming attracts two charges; a fixed charge for access to the facility and variable charges that depend on usage. The fixed charge can comprise an entry fee and a monthly rental.

In addition, the subscriber is required to pay an airtime charge and the applicable fixed network charge as well as a surcharge of up to 15 per cent on the total billed amount for the call (normally airtime plus the applicable fixed network charges).

While the prevailing monthly rental for roaming shows some variation, an airtime rate of Rs 10 per minute is most commonly charged.


Washington, Jan. 30: 
If Franklin D Roosevelt used his annual State of the Union address in the middle of World War II to present his “New Deal” and Abraham Lincoln to outline his “last best hope” as the Civil War raged in America, President George W Bush last night used the historic occasion to catapult India into the big league.

“America is working with Russia and China and India, in ways we have never before, to achieve peace and prosperity”, Bush told a packed joint session of the US Congress, which was also attended by the most powerful men and women in this country.

It was the first time since George Washington began the practice of sending a State of the Union message to the Congress in 1790 that India has been referred to in any such address by an American President.

Clubbing India along with two other global powers — Russia and China — Bush said in his address punctuated by standing applause: “In this moment of opportunity, a common danger is erasing old rivalries.

“In every region, free markets and free trade and free societies are proving their power to lift lives. Together with friends and allies from Europe to Asia, and Africa to Latin America, we will demonstrate that the forces of terror cannot stop the momentum of freedom”.

But if India has been referred to, can Pakistan be left behind for reasons of US political correctness? Gen. Pervez Musharraf was lavishly praised by the President right at the start of his address. “Pakistan is now cracking down on terror”, Bush assured Congress, “and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf”. The praise was received with tumultuous applause from the chosen audience.

But unlike the reference to India, which had no strings attached, the President’s handling of Musharraf — and Pakistan — was conspicuous by the use of kid gloves by the White House. To Islamabad’s chagrin, Bush bracketed Pakistan’s terror progeny, Jaish-e-Mohammad, along with other similar groups, the elimination of which Washington is committed to.

“A terrorist underworld — including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed — operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities”, Bush warned.

He then added ominously: “Our war against terror is only beginning... Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning”.

Although the President did not name Pakistan, for Musharraf and others close to him who have been training many of these walking the time bombs, the effects of the warning must have been chilling.

“Tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbour terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it”.

Bush told Congress that “while the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere...My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own.”

And then came the punchline. “But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: if they do not act, America will.”

The address was the finest moment yet in office for a President whose election was punctuated by doubts and whose competence was questioned even during the poll campaign.

Yet it could have been better. And the power of the media and 24-hour news channels was to blame. Unlike his illustrious predecessors such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy, who got the undivided attention of the American people, Bush had to compete for attention yesterday with heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson.

Millions of Americans were more interested in Tyson’s fight yesterday to regain his boxing licence in Nevada, lost on account of misbehaviour. It was perhaps a solace to Bush that his lot was better than that of his immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton. In 1998, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke only days before Clinton’s State of the Union address and hogged headlines.

A year earlier, the verdict in O J Simpson’s civil trial was announced bang in the middle of Clinton’s annual address. The TV screens split to show the President and Simpson, both live.


Mexico City, Jan. 30: 
Chandrababu Naidu may have mesmerised Bill Clinton into holding up the hi-tech Andhra Pradesh chief minister as a worthy example even for America, but here in Mexico, the wait is on for more than a year for the Naidu magic to work.

Hordes of information technology specialists and entrepreneurs led by Naidu’s Mexican counterparts have been to Hyderabad since the third quarter of 2000 to forge an IT partnership between Mexico and India, but their efforts are yet to produce results.

Mexicans who have gone half way round the world to unfamiliar shores after listening to tales about Naidu’s IT successes in Andhra Pradesh are, however, willing to give him benefit of the doubt.

According to information received here, Naidu has met his Waterloo in New Delhi. His initiative in getting the ministry of information technology to sign an IT agreement with Mexico has been stuck in red tape.

A partnership with Mexico could come as a lifeline for India’s IT sector at a time when the market in the US is shrinking with large-scale bankruptcies and huge job losses for computer specialists.

As much as 68 per cent of Mexico’s GDP of $ 560 billion is accounted for by services. This lucrative services sector is heavily dependent on IT for its survival and Mexico is acutely short of computer specialists, software, hardware — in fact, the whole IT infrastructure.

Everything Mexico wants is available just across the border in the US, but for a price. Hence Mexicans have been looking to Naidu for help, so far, alas, in vain.

The first IT delegation from Mexico went to Hyderabad in September 2000 and was led by the then governor of Jalisco province, Alberto Cardenas.

Another followed two months later, this time from Aguasa Calientes, led by the local minister for economic development, Ruben Camarilles Ortega. This team went not only to Hyderabad, but to Chennai and New Delhi as well.

A third group went in January last year to Hyderabad and then to New Delhi, where it participated in the Partnership Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The delegation was led by the deputy minister for economic development from Neovo Leon province.

Finally, in May last year, Baja California sent a team to Hyderabad, Bangalore and New Delhi.

Thereafter, the visits stopped as India’s much-vaunted IT sector, its high profile IT ministry and Naidu failed to deliver.

Sources here concede that there are difficulties in forging an IT partnership between India and Mexico: language, unfamiliarity among prospective partners and the availability for India of easier opportunities in the more familiar Anglo-Saxon world.

Which is why an IT agreement was all the more crucial.

They say it would have been a confidence-building measure, assured government support, however small, on both sides and created the basis for technical training and perhaps even H1-B visas for Indians wanting to work in Mexico on the lines of the US.

On the website of India’s IT ministry, a draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for such cooperation has been languishing since last year.

Sadly, the MoU is a handsome tribute to the potential of working with Mexico, but there is no answer yet, to the proverbial question of who will bell the cat?




Maximum: 23.5°C (-5)
Minimum: 16°C (+2)


5.4 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 98%,
Minimum: 61%

Sunrise: 6.22 am

Sunset: 5.18 pm


Partly cloudy sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 14°C

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