Mystery strike in security sanctum
Truce trial for Pervez meet
Signal for Kamtapur talks
Hidden report rips Jadeja apart
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, Dec. 1: 
Gunshots jolted the security guards at the Prime Minister�s house in the middle of the night. Across the road, less than 200 metres away from the rear gate of 7 Race Course Road, naval commandos had apparently fired in the dark at an alleged intruder inside the residence of navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar.

The commandos fired at least 36 rounds, yet the intruder escaped. He left behind a commando gasping with a gunshot wound and a trail of unanswered questions.

Delhi police clammed up and refused to discuss the incident. The Indian Navy lost its voice and put out a five-line statement that said virtually nothing. All that the security establishments were willing to say was �mum�s the word�.

It was the most blatant breach of security in the capital�s highest-risk zone. While 12 Rajaji Marg is home to the navy chief, his army counterpart stays two houses down the road, at Number 8. The resident of 1 Rajaji Marg is former Prime Minister V.P. Singh.

The silence was deafening. No one could say when the intruder had sneaked in or how he disappeared. In an effort to give him the identity of a potentially dangerous person, the police and the navy, in cryptic comments, disclosed that he had left behind some wires.

Some police sources said an explosive substance, like cordex, had been found. Officially, the police denied having recovered any such material.

The gunshots reverberated through the VIP zone around 12.50 am on Friday. The possible sequence of events, according to the police and the navy, is that a man was seen inside the premises around that time. When challenged by marine commando Satbir Singh, the intruder shot at him and escaped, leaving behind the wires which he may have brought for planting a bomb.

On being wounded, Satbir emptied the magazine of his weapon, firing almost 36 rounds. None of them hit the intruder who scaled the walls close to the rear gate and escaped.

This version raises several questions. First, why should the navy chief come under terrorist threat now? The response from the establishment is that Navy Day will be observed day after tomorrow and the function at 12 Rajaji Marg will be attended by the Prime Minister and the home and defence ministers.

If so, security should have been beefed up inside Navy House. There was no response from the navy on this.

The second question is why did only one commando challenge the intruder? Both the police and the navy maintain that Satbir was alone at the time and he received support from some of his mates only a few minutes later. By that time, the intruder had scaled either the 10-foot-high wall or the eight-foot-high gate. Why, then, were the other guards not present at the rear gate?

What is even more baffling is that all the 36 empty shells recovered from the premises were fired from Satbir�s machine gun. The empty shell of what is being described as the lone bullet fired by the intruder has not been found.

Satbir is being treated at the army hospital and his condition is stable. The case has been transferred to the crime branch which unearthed the cricket scandal.

Personnel from the Prime Minister�s Special Protection Group inspected the premises. Delhi has been put on high alert.

The wounded commando has given a sketchy statement and the police plan to question him in detail once he recovers. The navy has ordered a court of inquiry.    

New Delhi, Dec. 1: 
The ceasefire picked its way through twin car blasts and police posturings amid signals that the government is willing to sit at the table with Pakistan, provided Islamabad stopped terror export and allowed the peace initiative to work.

An agency report quoting an interview given by Manzoor Ijaz, member of a New York-based American thinktank, to Gulf News said a meeting between Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Pakistan�s chief executive Pervez Musharraf could be held immediately after the holy month of Ramzan if the ceasefire stuck.

�The proposal is on Gen. Musharraf�s desk and we are asking him to respond in the coming weeks,� Ijaz was quoted as saying.

�If he responds positively and joins the peace efforts, then Indo-Pakistan negotiations could begin immediately under a summit meeting between Vajpayee and Musharraf in Delhi and run simultaneously with Indo-Kashmiri talks,� Ijaz added.

That the Kashmir Valley has been relatively free of bloodshed since the ceasefire began on Tuesday has made a section of leaders hopeful that the peace gamble could work.

The militants, however, sounded a loud reminder of their presence in central Srinagar with two car-bomb blasts this afternoon. Nobody was injured.

Police in the Kashmiri capital also flexed muscles and made it clear that they haven�t suspended operations against the militants. �Militants are criminals and there is no ceasefire against them,� said the new police chief, Ashok Suri.

The tough posturings notwithstanding, Delhi sent the signal that it is not averse to talking to Pakistan if it creates the �right� atmosphere. Though this is a known Indian position, the fact that it is being revived now indicates that perhaps the ground is being prepared for the nuclear neighbours to make another attempt at improving relations.

Senior Indian leaders have been making statements about the possibility of resuming dialogue with Pakistan if it allows the Ramzan ceasefire to work. Foreign minister Jaswant Singh said a few days ago he hoped Islamabad will not be foolish enough to negate Delhi�s efforts to restore normality in Jammu and Kashmir.

Home minister L.K. Advani went a step ahead at a BSF function today and stressed that the two sides could soon talk if Pakistan did not obstruct the ceasefire.

�Pakistan has been isolated internationally due to its engagement in cross-border terrorism,� Advani said. �The announcement of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramzan was another chance for Pakistan to get out of this isolation.�

The BJP-led regime has been getting global support for its efforts to improve relations. But some world powers, though acknowledging Delhi�s condition that Islamabad has to cut off support to the militants, are losing patience because of �India�s obstinacy� of not returning to the talks table.    

Siliguri, Dec. 1: 
Hinting at a healing touch on the heels of a sweeping crackdown, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said his government could consider talks if the Kamtapur People�s Party made a formal offer.

On his maiden visit to the restive north Bengal, Bhattacharjee took up KPP chief Atul Roy�s statement that his party was ready to hold talks with the government if invited in a �dignified manner�.

�The KPP leader knows very well the proper procedure for holding talks with the government. (But) they must first learn that dialogue should be by word of mouth and not from the barrel of a gun.

�If the KPP leaders want to talk to us, they should first approach the government in a proper manner. Let them send me a letter, only then will I decide. Mere statements to the press will not do,� Bhattacharjee said.

Two persons have been killed and 200 KPP supporters arrested since Monday when the crackdown � codenamed Operation Kamtapur � was launched in several north Bengal districts.

The chief minister blamed a �small, miserable minority� of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation boys for �fomenting trouble�. �These misguided youth have no support from the huge majority of the Rajbanshi community in the region,� he added.

Bhattacharjee said that till recently the government was under the impression that the KPP and the KLO were separate organisations. �But recent evidence and activities have thrown light on their links. Now the KPP is collecting funds forcibly and handing them over to the KLO.�

Asked why the outfit was not being banned, he said his government had enough expertise and force to deal with the militants.

�A handful of these misguided youth, with the active collaboration of the Ulfa, is carrying on selective killings and going about extorting money. But we are confident if the majority of the Rajbanshi community shuns these youths, the problems in the region can be resolved,� he added.

He dispelled fears that the crackdown could alienate the entire community. �We are targeting only a small band of terrorists,� he said. �We have not declared war on the whole community.�

Bhattacharjee said there should be better coordination between Central and state intelligence wings. �I requested L.K. Advani yesterday to increase the BSF battalions from 22 to 32 to strengthen security along the border.�    

Calcutta, Dec. 1: 
Politicians, royalty... Ajay Jadeja has always had powerful backers and, today, they are working overtime to ensure that his career, which began in early 1990, doesn�t stop at 15 Tests and 196 ODIs.

The course Jadeja�s future takes will be known on Monday, when the Board of Control for Cricket in India�s (BCCI) decision on the tainted players is announced by president A.C. Muthiah.

Mohammed Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Sharma are already staring at a life ban.

Unless an exception is made, under pressure as was reported by The Telegraph on Thursday, Jadeja faces a minimum punishment of five years and the maximum of a life ban.

A case is being made that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report into match-fixing, which continues to cause ripples across the world of cricket, hasn�t been fair to Jadeja.

Suffice to say that Jadeja�s name figures in around 30 of the 140-odd pages the CBI has devoted exclusively to match-fixing.

In the chapter titled Conclusions, the CBI had this to say: �Ajay Jadeja is very close to some bookies and big-time punters, namely Uttam Chand @ Topi, Rattan Mehta, Rajesh Kalra, Krishan Kumar (implicated in the Hansie Cronje case).

�He gave �assessment� of cricket matches to Rattan Mehta, a big-time punter. He also passed on �information� to bookie Uttam Chand @ Topi, for monetary considerations.

�He also met M.K. Gupta and offered his services for fixing matches and also received money from MK at this meeting. He is also named by Md Azharuddin as one of the players who was with him in fixing matches.�

Why the CBI should be biased against Jadeja is a mystery, but it�s significant that BCCI commissioner K. Madhavan has also left little unsaid, though Azhar went back on what he himself disclosed to the CBI.

Madhavan was entrusted by the BCCI to �assess� the CBI�s findings.

A perusal of Madhavan�s report �- a copy of which is with this paper �- reveals that while the former CBI joint-director didn�t comment on Jadeja�s role in match-fixing, in his Final Recommendation, he confirmed the CBI�s worst fears.

In fact, Madhavan noted, more than once, that Jadeja was not telling the truth during his deposition.

For the record, Madhavan�s Jadeja-specific Final Recommendation reads: �(1) He had very close undesirable contacts and objectionable nexus with various bookies/punters; (2) He is guilty of unbecoming conduct and misconduct as a national-level player on account of his maintaining such frequent contacts as set out above with bookies/punters.�

Jadeja, summoned by Madhavan on November 12, in Chennai, presented the commissioner with his own 109-page �report� of which the first 20 pages were in narrative form.

During his deposition, the ex-India (one-day) captain agreed to only parts of the CBI report, and turned distinctly dodgy when Madhavan brought up his links with Chennai-based bookie Uttam Chand.

In Madhavan�s own words: �When I started questioning Ajay Jadeja regarding Uttam Chand, his statements were to me not clear and were often confusing...�

At one stage, while confirming he told the CBI that �superstition� had influenced his returning Chand�s calls, Jadeja informed Madhavan. �On some occasions, when I was not well, Gupta (as Jadeja claimed to know Chand) of Chennai might have called to enquire about my health. I might have returned the call later.�

Absolutely hilarious that and this is Madhavan�s response: �It is inconceivable that a healthy, strong and athletic young man like Ajay Jadeja would have ailments, which required frequent enquiries from Uttam Chand or any other person.

�Obviously, he has taken this additional plea under legal advice, as taking the plea of superstition before me also might not be good enough and, therefore, some more trumped up ground should also be added.�

On certain match days, Jadeja received a many as 62, 55 and 50 calls from Chand. If this can be defended then...

Those lobbying for Jadeja, both within the BCCI and outside, would do well to remember Madhavan has accorded near-conspiracy status to his links with bookies.

Nothing can be more damning.

As Madhavan put it, the �theory of preponderance of possibilities� and not the �theory of benefit of doubt� was applied in his own inquiry.

It�s a pity Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is no longer the Union sports minister or else, by now, the BCCI would have had to make the Madhavan report public.

That would, surely, open more eyes.    



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