Bollywood under cocaine scan after Fardeen bust
Atal seeks change, spares Mamata
Stars� names stolen for cash wash
Governor slots for Sangh
Pamela sheds clothes for cows
Calcutta weather

Mumbai, May 5: 
The man who could say no to Urmila on screen could not say so to cocaine on the street.

Fardeen Khan, who plays the lead in the steamy Pyar Tune Kya Kiya, was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau tonight for possessing 9 gm of cocaine.

Sources said the narcotics cell was also keeping a close watch on peddlers and six other Bollywood personalities who regularly purchased drugs.

Fardeen was about to purchase the drug from a peddler near Juhu around 3 am today when he was picked up, the sources said.

Fardeen had visited an ATM kiosk to operate his account before purchasing the drug from the peddler, who has also been arrested.

However, the deal could not be wrapped up as his card got stuck in the machine, the bureau�s zonal director Ajay Ubale said. He added that Fardeen had admitted to taking the drug regularly.

Each gram of cocaine, dubbed a �rich man�s drug�, costs Rs 2,500. An official said possession of the drug was punishable under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act. Those found guilty could be sentenced up to 10 years in jail.

The actor, producer-director Feroze Khan�s son, was interrogated till late in the night on Bollywood�s nexus with the drug cartel.

While Fardeen was being questioned at the narcotics bureau headquarters at Ballard Pier, father Feroze visited him twice. On his second visit, Feroze was accompanied by Fardeen�s friend and actor Kishen Kumar, brother of slain music baron Gulshan Kumar. Ironically, Feroze had produced Jaanbaaz, a film focusing on drug abuse.

Fardeen broke down when his father arrived. Feroze left because interrogation was still going on. �There is nothing to it,� he told reporters. Later in the evening, Feroze and Kishen spent an hour with narcotics officials.

Fardeen�s detention comes close on the heels of a spate of incidents � including financier Bharat Shah�s arrest by the police � pointing at links between Bollywood and the underworld.

Fardeen plays a photographer who withstands the charms of Urmila in Pyar Tune Kya Kiya. He was just beginning to make his presence felt on the silver screen though he had been in the industry for quite some time.

He had debuted with Feroze�s Prem Aggan some years ago. His second movie was Jungle, in which, too, he was paired with Urmila. The movie was directed by Ram Gopal Verma. Verma is the producer of Pyar Tune Kya Kiya.    

Bulbulchandi (Malda), May 5: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called upon Bengal to vote for change, but questioned the ability of the Congress-Trinamul Congress alliance to serve the state.

Vajpayee dubbed former ally Trinamul the CPM�s �C-team� but avoided directly targeting Mamata Banerjee at his first election rally in the state today.

The BJP was not a big power in Bengal and would not be in a position to form the government, the Prime Minister admitted, adding that the party�s role would be that of a �brake�.

Change was the �crying need of the times�, Vajpayee told the crowd at the Bulbulchandi High School grounds, a kilometre from the home of Tapan Sikdar, BJP�s first minister from the state. �You have got an opportunity to change things,� he repeated.

Vajpayee accepted that the Congress-Trinamul alliance was the most formidable opposition to the Left Front at the moment and said he was �sorry� to lose Trinamul. But that did not stop him from describing his former ally as the CPM�s �C team�. Trinamul had joined hands with the Congress, which it had dubbed the CPM�s �B team�, he explained.

Vajpayee had his priorities right: he devoted most of his time to the Left, the Congress came a distant second and Trinamul, an even more distant third.

The Prime Minister struck at the Congress for teaming up with the Left in Parliament and fighting it outside. He said the Opposition was attacking him without reason. �They even demanded my resignation though I told them that I was ready to institute a probe into the Tehelka episode,� he said. �But the BJP is in a majority in Parliament. Why should I resign?�

The Congress would not do well in the other states going to polls, Vajpayee insisted, adding that it was a declining party �moving fast towards its sunset�.

�I still don�t know why Trinamul parted ways with us,� he said. It had made a mistake and would not be able to do any good for the state with the Congress as a partner, he added.

The Prime Minister echoed L.K. Advani in questioning the new alliance�s ability to dislodge the Left but he was not as blunt as the home minister who had campaigned in the state on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mamata, too, had left it to Sonia Gandhi to attack the BJP during a joint campaign amid loud signals from Trinamul that it has not foreclosed the option of returning to the BJP-led alliance after the elections.

Though Vajpayee largely spared Trinamul, local hero Sikdar made it clear that for him the party was a bigger enemy than the Left. Mamata had betrayed a �god-like� Vajpayee, she was communal and most of her partymen had turned against her for ditching the BJP, he said.


Calcutta, May 5: 
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said it has unearthed a money-laundering racket involving fictitious bank deposits using names such as �Sourav Ganguly�, �Debashree Roy� and �David Dhawan�.

The CBI said investigators stumbled on the scam at branches of the Indian Overseas Bank spread across Calcutta, Chennai and Port Blair.

CBI additional director (eastern region) Upen Biswas said a �bank mafia�, consisting of some employees and their associates, were helping several people, including a section of corrupt public servants, to create and operate savings and fixed deposit accounts under fictitious names.

�After raiding the main branches of IOB at Calcutta, Port Blair and Chennai, it was revealed that Rs 7.01 crore has already been laundered this way,� Biswas said.

He told a press meet that fixed deposit accounts had been created in the names of cricketer Sourav Ganguly and actress Debashree Roy at the Strand Road branch of the bank in the city.

�Accounts also exist in the names of film director David Dhawan and Mumbai-based models Rhea Pillai, Marc Robinson and Rahul Dev at the Port Blair and Chennai branches of the bank,� Biswas said.

He added that the addresses mentioned in the banks� registers were not of the personalities in whose names the accounts had been opened.

The CBI said even though the famous personalities were not involved in the racket �in any way�, officials would talk to them in this connection as �it is legally required�.

The CBI has started cases against the managers of the branches concerned but no arrests have been made so far. A team has also been despatched to Port Blair for further investigations.

Biswas said the scam came to light late last month when two persons from Port Blair gave information that 28 high-value fixed deposit accounts had been opened at the bank�s branches there as well as in Calcutta and Chennai in a single day on January 2, 1997.

Thereafter, the CBI scrutinised the accounts, some of which were in the names of the well-known personalities. The investigation proved that the accounts were fraudulent and were aimed only at laundering money.

CBI officials said some bank officials used to charge a hefty commission from the businessmen who opened the false accounts to turn black money into white.

�The entire matter is being investigated and appropriate action will be taken after all the accounts books seized from the banks are studied,� said CBI deputy inspector-general Vijay Kumar.


New Delhi, May 5: 
Three Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries have been shortlisted for the post of Governor in two states and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

While Sangh veteran and influential BJP leader from Delhi Kedarnath Sahani has been considered for Sikkim, convener of the BJP�s foreign cell N.N. Jha�s name has been cleared for the post of Lieutenant-Governor of Andaman and Nicobar.

S.S. Kohli�s name is on the list for Mizoram, which had been put in additional charge of Manipur Governor Ved Marwah.

The home ministry is understood to have taken a final decision on these three appointments. The file is likely to be sent to President K.R. Narayanan within the next few days.

While Sahani would replace Ranbir Choudhary in Gangtok, I.P. Gupta will make room for Jha in the Andamans.

Government observers believe the decision to appoint the three key RSS members is part of the exercise to please the Sangh parivar.

Sources say Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who met L.K. Advani at the home minister�s Pandara Park residence here on Tuesday, was keen to pacify the Sangh. The RSS had openly attacked the Prime Minister�s Office and criticised the functioning of some senior officials.

Sahani, who had earlier been considered for governorship of Madhya Pradesh, was one of the earliest BJP councillors in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. He was the city BJP president in the early eighties, before Madan Lal Khurana came to the fore.

Along with O.P. Kohli and Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Sahani formed the trio that controlled the party�s politics in the capital in the eighties. Once his influence waned, Sahani shifted his interest to Jammu and Kashmir.

At present, Jha heads the BJP�s foreign cell, a position once occupied by Brajesh Mishra. A former Indian Foreign Service officer, his last assignment was as high commissioner to Singapore. Always an RSS sympathiser, Jha joined the BJP after his retirement.


Washington, May 5: 
Pamela Anderson, five times cover girl of Playboy magazine and the heartthrob of millions of youths in 140 countries as the �speedo girl� in the Baywatch TV serial, has literally taken her clothes off � this time for India�s cows.

Moved by the plight of India�s bovines, a cause popularised by none other than Indian environmental activist and minister Maneka Gandhi, Anderson has auctioned her sweater on a celebrity website,

One thousand dollars, which the auction fetched yesterday, will go to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), a worldwide animal welfare group that has been particularly active in campaigning for better treatment of Indian cows.

Peta is the organisation whose gruesome exhibit of an Indian cow was banned by New York City authorities from a parade of cow figures during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee�s presence in the UN last year. The exhibit had sought to show the maltreatment of cows, especially those meant for slaughter.

The auction was the finale of sorts to her gripping video narration of the cruel conditions under which Indian cows are transported to slaughter houses.

The video, Skin Trade � Indian Leather Investigation, was made for Peta as part of its drive for better treatment of Indian cows. It is certain to affect the prospects of India�s leather industry, given Anderson�s huge popularity and publicity value.

Anderson has appeared on Playboy�s cover more than any other women in the magazine�s history. Her role as C.J. Parker, the �speedo girl�, in Baywatch made her popular worldwide.

Anderson did not charge Peta for the appearance as she is an animal rights activist and has been speaking out about Indian cows.

The Baywatch star is not unused to taking off her clothes for the camera, and this time, the sweater she has taken off was worn during the narration of the video.

For the purchaser of the sweater in the web auction, it goes with a bitter-sweet fringe benefit � a signed photograph of the star and a copy of the moving video.

Anderson is a recipient of the Linda McCartney Humanitarian Award for her animal rights campaigns. The award is given away every year by former Beatle Paul McCartney.

Anderson is not the only celebrity here to lend her support to the growing campaign for better treatment of cows in India.

In a similar web auction, her co-star in Baywatch, Gena Lee Nolin, has sold for $1,000 a lunch date with the successful bidder. Nolin will also accompany the bidder on a tour of the sets of Sheena, a new serial she is starring in.

Guitarist Eddie Vedder has raised $305 on the website for a signed thermal pullover and John Popper of the music group, Blues Traveler, has raised $313 for a harmonica.

All these proceeds will benefit Peta. So will the money sought to be raised at a similar auction on May 8 of a sketch by artist Peter Max of two kimono-clad women, titled The Dialogue.




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53.3 mm

Relative humidity

Maximum: 89%,
Minimum: 43%


Partly cloudy sky with possibility of light to moderate rain accompanied by thunder in some parts towards afternoon or evening
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Sunset: 6.02 pm

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