Punishment-split cricket jury dithers on day of judgement
Hurriyat for Pak ticket
Girl�s arrest triggers fatal siege
Mamata in battle of barbs
Calcutta Weather

Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
There appears to be a division within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on slapping �exemplary punishment� on those involved in match-fixing and bookies but, eventually, the hawks should prevail.

Tomorrow, however, is unlikely to be judgement-day.

Thus far, it was understood that the BCCI�s special general body meeting here tomorrow would end Indian cricket�s most sorry episode. That, in all probability, won�t be so.

The gathering, instead, is expected to tear into the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for hauling the BCCI over the coals in its report on match-fixing.

According to top sources of The Telegraph, the meeting (technically) can only discuss what has been listed on the agenda � responding to the CBI�s indictment of its functioning.

�Should the meeting, officially, take up any other issue, that may be held illegal if challenged in court. The tainted players� fate won�t, perhaps, be decided.�

Yet, there is also a move to dispense with technicalities and �not disappoint� the nation.

But there is some confusion within the BCCI over who will have the final say � the disciplinary committee, general body or the working committee? That became evident when two officials gave different versions.

Both, however, agreed tomorrow probably won�t be the day of judgement. Not officially, at least.

Today, of course, the three-member disciplinary committee met in New Delhi, giving the likes of Mohammed Azharuddin one last chance to state their position.

According to BCCI president A.C. Muthiah, who heads the committee, Azhar �denied� involvement in match-fixing. That contradicts the CBI�s report as also BCCI commissioner K. Madhavan�s findings.

Significantly, the others summoned also toed the Azhar-line and, so, the BCCI could request the CBI for the indicted players� taped confessions before pronouncing its own judgement.

Among the three current India players under the scanner (others being Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia), Madhavan has nailed Azhar alone for match-fixing.

Mongia has been exonerated, while Jadeja booked solely for conduct unbecoming of an India player and links with bookies.

It is learnt that, informally, the BCCI�s most influential members (including those in the Core Group) will interact with the disciplinary committee before one of Indian cricket�s most eagerly-awaited steps is taken.

Nikhil Chopra fiasco

While the focus, obviously, is on the tainted players, quite a few BCCI members are very upset over Nikhil Chopra�s recall.

Chopra, overlooked from the start of the season, has made the squad for the first three one-dayers against Zimbabwe.

Though the CBI didn�t indict the off-spinner, he was subjected to raids and, during his deposition before the CBI, was evasive on the issue of making and receiving calls from bookies.

To avoid complications, Chopra may not be fielded. In effect, then, Sourav Ganguly will have to choose from 13 and not 14.    

Srinagar, Nov. 28: 
The Hurriyat Conference has raised fresh demands and described the government�s ceasefire, effected early this morning, as �no good� unless it is backed up by a �genuine desire� to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Three soldiers were killed and 12 injured in a landmine blast hours after the unilateral ceasefire came into effect. An army bullet-proof vehicle hit the landmine in Southern Anantnag district late this afternoon. The Hizb-ul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility.

�Unless there is evidence that New Delhi is serious about talking to us and to Pakistan and making some concessions, what purpose does it serve to have a one-sided ceasefire,� Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat, said today.

�The ceasefire became necessary because there is a war and there is a war because there is a problem. Unless the government is ready to redress that problem, the ceasefire is no good.�

In the Hurriyat�s understanding Delhi�s unilateral ceasefire has been prompted by mounting international pressure to resolve the Kashmir dispute, and so the separatists think this might be a good time to extract more concessions from the government. A new demand being voiced in unison from various sections of the Hurriyat is that they be allowed to go across to Pakistan and to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in order to discuss ways of resolving the Kashmir problem.

�Pakistan and Kashmiris in the Pakistani part are part of the dispute and we have to consult them before we can have any meaningful dialogue,� Bhat said, adding: �If the government does not intend to grant us even that freedom, we will know just how committed it is to a resolution of the problem.�

Ironically, just as Bhat was making a case for free travel across the western borders, the Hurriyat chairman received news that the passport of Maulana Abbas Ansari, a senior colleague, had been revoked by the Indian government.

�This is just what I am talking about. We do not want to make an issue out of one man�s passport, it is too small an issue, but you cannot build trust with the people of Kashmir if you behave with them like this.�

Demands for free travel permits to Pakistan and ready access to PoK � approachable by road from here via Chakothi � have been raised by another Hurriyat protagonist, Mirwaiz Omer Farooq. �The Line of Control is a line drawn across the hearts of Kashmiri people, it has to be obliterated,� the young religious leader of Kashmir said.

�Both India and Pakistan stand to benefit if Kashmiris from this side can talk to Kashmiris on the other side because there can be no resolution without that.�

He also said Delhi�s refusal to talk to Pakistan was a stumbling block. �It is impossible to achieve anything without involving Pakistan, India has to give up its rigidity and reluctance to Pakistan,� Omer Farooq said.    

Tarbandha (Phasidewa), Nov. 28: 
Amid heightening tension in the hills of North Bengal, two suspected Kamtapur People�s Party (KPP) activists were killed after police opened fire to break a siege by the people resisting a security raid and the arrest of a teenage girl.

Police had swooped down on this village in Siliguri sub-division in search of KPP activists. Four people were arrested and sent to the police station in Phasidewa. One of them was 16-year-old Sujala Singha, who was picked up for resisting her brother�s arrest.

The villagers of neighbouring Antujote came to know of the raid and, after blocking the path of the police, they demanded that the girl be set free. The police refused.

It was then that trouble erupted. Superintendent of police, Darjeeling, Sanjoy Chander said: �As the police contingent, led by the officer-in-charge of Phasidewa, was returning through a small alley, they were stopped by a mob of villagers demanding the release of all four people.�

The villagers had earlier beaten up a border home guard, who was on duty about half a kilometre away, and held him in a house for over four hours.

Finding their path blocked by over 1,000 people, the police appealed for more forces. But the men, drawn from the Eastern Frontier Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and commandos of the special district task force, could not approach the village as all entry routes were sealed with tree trunks and boulders.

Chander said the mob began hurling bricks and shooting arrows at the police, injuring 18 men. Once the additional troops reached the spot after taking a long and winding road, they began firing teargas shells to force the villagers to retreat.

With the villagers undeterred, the police were forced to fire 32 rounds in self-defence, Chander said. One Manu Roy (26) was killed on the spot while another person, S. Singha, later died of wounds in North Bengal hospital.

Explaining the reasons for the raids, Chander said: �We had specific information that several KPP activists were hiding in the area. The man killed on the spot was one of them.�

The enraged villagers said they had just asked the police to free Sujala. �The police opened fire without any provocation. All those killed or wounded were shot in the back,� an eyewitness said.

Accusing the police of brutality, the villagers said: �After the firing, the police started ransacking houses in Antujote. Anyone found in their house was assaulted before being arrested.�

The police scoffed at the charge and described the area as a KPP �hotbed�. �Evidence suggests that the dividing line between the KPP, the All-Kamtapur Students� Union and the KPP�s militant arm, the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, has become very thin. They are one and the same organisation,� Chander said.    

New Delhi & Calcutta, Nov. 28: 
The political airwaves in Calcutta crackled with stinging static after a month-long lull as Mamata Banerjee plunged into a campaign against chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee as well as his predecessor Jyoti Basu.

In her first rally in the city since the change of guard at Writers�, the Trinamul Congress leader today dubbed Basu a �super chief minister� and Bhattacharjee a �puppet chief minister� and vowed to take on the CPM on �terror firma�.

Fresh from Darjeeling, Mamata came straight to the rally in central Calcutta where she accused Basu of starting a civil war �to finish off Opposition parties before the Assembly elections�. �After retirement, Basu is encouraging a civil war to ensure the CPM�s return to power,� she alleged.

The city descended into traffic chaos today as hundreds of Trinamul workers arrived in processions to attend the rally .

The rally was organised to protest against Sunday�s killing of three Trinamul workers at Chherua village in Midnapore and the removal of the bodies by the police from a morgue in Calcutta .

The relations of the deceased, who had moved the high court, filed a supplementary affidavit which prayed for an order directing the police to hand over the bodies by exhuming them. The widows of the two victims were present in court.

Mamata made it clear that she would keep the pot boiling on the issue. The railway minister, who left for the capital tonight, will visit the houses of her slain supporters in Midnapore on Saturday.

Mamata has also instructed party leaders to tour Usthi village in Diamond Harbour where dacoits let loose a wave of terror. Bhattacharjee had visited the village yesterday. The Trinamul chief said she would also keep the pressure on Delhi to end the �state-sponsored violence� in West Bengal.

Police said at least 18 Trinamul workers were arrested this morning for trying to stage a black flag protest in front of Bhattacharjee�s Palm Avenue residence. With the chief minister away in Nadia, his mother had to bear the brunt of the Trinamul slogans.

Later, nearly 60 Trinamul activists barged into the office of South 24-Parganas police superintendent A.K. Maliwal in Alipore and ransacked it in protest against the recent spurt of murders and dacoities in the district.

Witnesses said a scuffle ensued when policemen tried to stop the activists. Several police personnel, including two deputy superintendents of police, were hurt.

A day after the burial of the bodies, the situation was still tense in Midnapore with reports of attacks and counter-attacks pouring into the district headquarters.

The onset of Ramzan has triggered resentment against the violence in Muslim-dominated villages. Both Trinamul and CPM leaders have incurred the wrath of villagers who feel that peace should be maintained at any cost during Ramzan.

The police said party activists confronted the CPM local committee secretary of Chherua village and another member this morning. Trinamul workers at the same village gheraoed their party leaders.    



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Minimum: 17.8�C (+2)



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Cloudy sky, with light rain in some parts. Minimum temperature likely to be 17�C.
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