Undertrial found hanging
Truck chase kills 9
Abducted businessman released
Stepdown-shaken Atal calls UP meet
Jaya picks up lunacy gauntlet in apex court
Channel to turn Sushma dream true
FCI chief flays Orissa on starvation deaths
Neighbours battle heirs for Nizam’s riches
Delhi rallies behind Bush with terror alarm
Murder rocks Midnapore

Calcutta, Sept. 11: 
An undertrial was found hanging in an abandoned lavatory in Dum Dum central jail this morning.

An investigation is on to find out how the 30-year-old undertrial got access to the lavatory and the public works department’s reluctance to demolish the run-down structure despite repeated reminders by the jail authorities.

“We had repeatedly asked the PWD to demolish or repair the dilapidated structure. But the PWD wouldn’t listen to us,” a fuming jail superintendent, Manoj Mohan Choudhury, said. He was, however, at a loss to explain how the undertrial, Nasiruddin Mondol, managed to lock himself inside the building.

Mondol was arrested for murdering his two-year-old daughter, Ashiara Khatoon, on May 7 in his native village of Amdanga. He maintained that his wife and her paramour killed his daughter and framed him. “How can I murder my own flesh and blood? These are all lies,” he had reportedly implored in front of the magistrate, jail authorities said today.

One of the jail inmates found Mondol hanging in the old toilet around 7.30 am. “When he left his cell with a lota in hand, we did not suspect anything. An hour later, we found that he had used his gamchha to hang himself,” said Choudhury.

The news of Mondol’s death spread like wildfire and within minutes, inmates started shouting slogans, demanding an explanation. Dum Dum police station officer-in-charge Sudip Roy rushed to the jail and conducted an inquest.

He has registered the case at the police station under the “unnatural death” section. “We have ruled out foul play for now, but our investigation in the next few days will reveal the exact circumstances under which he died,” Roy said. Inquiries were on to find out whether Mondol was given permission to visit the abandoned toilet by the jail staff. A high-level inquiry under director-general (prisons) Dipak Choudhury has also begun.


Murshidabad, Sept. 11: 
At least 14 persons were killed and six others injured in two road accidents in Murshidabad and Burdwan districts today.

Sources said nine persons were killed when their lorry turned over on national highway 34 near Mathurapur village in Murshidabad after being chased by a police patrol early this morning.

Fourteen leather traders had hired the truck to return from Mianpur. As they reached Omarpur, a mobile police unit stopped them. A survivor said the police had demanded money. An altercation ensued and the driver sped away. The police was chasing the vehicle when the mishap occurred.

Golam Seikh, a victim’s brother, alleged that the police had whisked away the cleaner of the lorry from hospital and feared that he might be forced to give a statement exonerating the police.

Sub-divisional police officer of Jangipur Kamal Krishna Roy said an inquiry had begun. He also claimed that it was the same police party which brought the victims to the hospital.

Five persons travelling in a Fiat car died after their car crashed into a lorry laden with stone chips on Grand Trunk Road near Paraj in Burdwan district this afternoon.


Siliguri, Sept. 11: 
North Bengal police today confirmed that abducted Siliguri businessman Mukesh Agarwal has been released and was “safe” in Nepal. The police, which had been tight-lipped so far, also said they were on the verge of cracking the case.

Confirming that the abducted businessman was released after ransom changed hands, inspector-general (north Bengal) N.R. Das said he had specific information that Mukesh is alive and might have been released. “Though the victim has not returned home, we believe he is safe in Nepal. He was released after his family paid a hefty ransom. Mukesh is presently believed to be at a relative’s house in Biratnagar,” Das said.

The Telegraph had reported on September 4 that Mukesh “was in a safehouse” in Biratnagar after his reported release. The Agarwal family is believed to have paid a ransom of Rs 50 lakh.

Das said the special investigation team was ready to “wrap it up” within a week. “We have identified the abductors and are confident we can close the case within a week. We have identified all the six members of the trans-border kidnap cartel behind the abduction — two of the masterminds are from Siliguri while the other four are resident of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab,” the IG said.


New Delhi, Sept. 11: 
In what seemed like a bid to force an early Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, legislators of the Samajwadi Party resigned en masse today. But chief minister Rajnath Singh said there was no threat to his government and ruled out early dissolution of the Assembly.

In the capital, BJP general secretary Narendra Modi urged the Election Commission to immediately notify elections in the constituencies vacated by the Samajwadi legislators and ensure that polls were held within three months.

“This is also a challenge for Mulayam Singh Yadav (the Samajwadi chief). If he has the guts, he should accept it so that we can separate the wheat from the chaff and call his bluff,” Modi said.

But the resignations of legislators of the main Opposition party have rattled the Centre enough for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to summon both Rajnath and state BJP president Kalraj Mishra for a meeting, scheduled for tomorrow noon.

The other Opposition parties in state, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), said they would allow the legislature to complete its five-year term on October 17, after which their MLAs could consider putting in their papers.

The Samajwadi’s move has once again shifted the focus on the Assembly’s tenure. A cloud of doubt hangs over it because the Opposition contends that the term ends in October while the ruling BJP says it should be allowed to continue till March next year.

The last Assembly polls, held in 1996, threw up a hung Assembly, which was kept in suspended animation for nearly six months till the BJP and BSP decided to join hands and form a coalition government.

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has reserved its ruling on a public interest litigation contesting the government’s view. The Supreme Court is expected to take up a similar PIL for hearing on September 14.

Eighty of the 92 Samajwadi legislators submitted their resignations to the Assembly secretariat this morning as Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi was away in Australia.

The Samajwadi’s original strength of 103 came down to 92 after 11 legislators were expelled for “anti-party” activities during the panchayat polls. The remaining 12 — who were grounded in their constituencies either because of floods or family preoccupations and illness — are expected to put in their papers either tonight or tomorrow.

Officially, the Samajwadi said its decision was meant to protest the Rajnath government’s “complete failure” on the law and order front, the alleged atrocities on party workers and “inefficiency” in coping with drought and floods in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Mulayam has directed party workers and people of Uttar Pradesh to gherao BJP legislators and demand their resignations.

Congress sources said the Opposition was broadly agreed on pressing ahead with the resignations in October. There are various versions of why the Samajwadi pre-empted the decision.

BJP sources said Yadav had got wind of its “strategy” to allow its government to complete its term beyond October while asking its ministers and legislators to stop drawing their salaries and perks.

Such a tactic, the BJP hoped, would counter the Samajwadi’s charge that the ruling coalition would go to any lengths to “cling to the loaves and fishes of power”.

Yadav also feared that if Rajnath was allowed to continue, he could manipulate postings for his “hand-picked” officials in crucial Assembly segments.

In Delhi, Modi said Mulayam’s decision had “punctured his cycle” (the Samajwadi symbol). “He has already conceded defeat in the polls but in the process, he has stabbed democracy in the back. It will be a sad day if such political manoeuvres are allowed to be debated in constitutional terms.”

Stating that the resignation would not affect his government, the chief minister said he would convene the winter session of the Assembly very soon.


New Delhi, Sept. 11: 
“Do you mean the Governor can appoint somebody under 25 years of age, a lunatic, an undischarged insolvent and a non-citizen as the chief minister?”

“The House elects its leader. If he or she were insane, insolvent or underaged and not even a citizen of this country, then the same House removes that person. It is not for the courts of law to go into that question, for, it would tantamount to a political function of the judiciary.”

The question was Justice S.P. Bharucha’s, the answer came from Jayalalithaa’s counsel K.K. Venugopal.

A five-member Constitution bench headed by Bharucha on Tuesday resumed hearings on petitions challenging the appointment of Jayalalithaa as Tamil Nadu chief minister on grounds that she had suffered disqualification and could not contest elections.

At the hearing, Jayalalithaa’s counsel likened the judiciary’s fixing “qualification or disqualification” of a political appointment to that of a Governor or the President holding court.

“My Lords, if a Governor or the President conducts inquiry into the corruption case of a person elected by majority of legislators as chief minister or Prime Minister before swearing in that person, won’t it tantamount to their discharging a judicial function?” Venugopal asked.

“Likewise, if the courts of law decided who should be made the chief minister or the Prime Minister, then it would amount to the judiciary discharging a political function,” he added.

If a person suffered any disqualification, and could not become a member of the House within the stipulated six months, then that person “gets out” Venugopal contended.

He said this was the only legal proposition of Article 164(4) of the Constitution and courts could not go into the question of qualifications for a chief minister at all. “It is out of the purview of the courts of law,” Venugopal said.

Counsel P.P. Rao has begun arguments for Tamil Nadu. After Rao, replies from the contending parties would begin.

Bharucha said the arguments should finish by Thursday and “spill overs, if any, could go in the morning session of Friday”.

Venugopal said a Governor had the discretion of appointing “any person” enjoying a majority in the Assembly as chief minister and was “duty bound” to appoint the elected leader of the majority.

Venugopal hammered on the point that the Constitution has neither prescribed any qualification nor disqualification for a non-member to be sworn in as chief minister or the Prime Minister.

Rao, however, questioned the very maintainability of the petitions as the public interest litigations were not protests against “fundamental right violations”.

“Once no infringement of fundamental right is made out, in other words, as none of these petitioners’ fundamental rights have been violated, a writ of mandamus cannot be issued by this court under Article 32,” he said.


New Delhi, Sept. 11: 
Sushma Swaraj’s wish that Fashion TV (FTV) should increase Indian programming may finally be coming true with the channel tying-up with Modi Entertainment Network (MEN) and consequently deciding to showcase Indian designers.

MEN’s tie-up with FTV covers distribution, advertising and merchandising for the channel. FTV will also be allowing Indian advertising on the channel starting this month.

“Our tie-up with FTV marks an active presence for FTV in India. We realise that the potential offered by FTV to the Indian fashion business is immense — it will be a window not only for showcasing Indian fashion, tradition and talent to the world but also a constant update of the latest international trends, styles, colours for India,” said Lalit Modi, vice chairman and president, MEN.


Calcutta, Sept. 11: 
Blaming the Orissa public distribution system for the recent starvation deaths, Food Corporation of India (FCI) chairman Bhure Lal indicated the possibility of disbursements made to the state being routed back to FCI through its procurement programme.

“The procurement made this year was higher than last year, while the disbursement made to the KBK districts of Orissa was no less than four lakh tonne. Where have the food grains gone?” Lal said, addressing a seminar at the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce here today.

“There is no scarcity of food grains in the country – the inefficiency of the public distribution system is responsible for the starvation deaths in Orissa. The problem is not Orissa’s alone — it affects the whole country. FCI cannot remedy the problem because the public distribution system is regulated by the state governments and any interference by FCI will lead to a stand off between the centre and the states,” Lal added.

He went on to say that the minimum support price used by the government to set a floor price for food grains, is being increasingly used as a ‘political tool’ by politicians.

“Though no change in the minimum support price for paddy was recommended, it was increased by 100 per cent,” Lal cited.

Commenting on the quality of grains under FCI storage, Lal said: “An order has been issued to examine the quality of the stock so that only those which are fit for human consumption are disbursed.” He also said FCI was engaging private parties to store grains for it because its own granaries are overflowing.

About a third of the six crore tonne now under FCI storage is 24 years old. Admitting that some of it may be unsuitable for human consumption, Lal said, “We will sell our inferior stock to alcohol and ethanol manufacturers. A shade better quality of our stock will be released as cattlefeed.”

Speaking on export of food grains, Lal said: “About four lakh tonne of food grains have been exported in this calendar year. The target for this financial year is five lakh tonne, which we are sure to achieve. The monsoon is just over, and we are expecting wheat export to pick up from October.”

“Though the quality of India’s food grains have sometimes been found wanting in quality, we have managed to export to countries like Oman, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Indonesia, he added.


New Delhi, Sept 11: 
For a change, the dispute is not over the Line of Control (LoC) or Jammu and Kashmir. If all goes well, this time India and Pakistan will sit at the negotiating table and share a whopping £ 24 million — the Nizam’s wealth — between them and the heirs of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Osman Ali.

At the National Museum in Delhi, the Nizam’s resplendent jewellery, currently on display has bewitched one and all.

Now the government is turning its attention to his equally “bewitching” wealth locked up for the last 53 years in London’s National Westminster Bank.

The Cabinet today decided to opt for an out-of-the-court settlement with Pakistan to lay its claims on a chunk of the money. The negotiations, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said, could stretch up to three years.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have an occasion to raise the matter with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf when he meets him two weeks from now in New York for a UN summit on children.

“It will take much negotiations by minister of external affairs, Pakistan and Nizam’s heir to settle the cash ratio to each of the three owners. The negotiations for this will continue in the periodical bilateral meetings between two Prime Ministers of the country,” the minister said.

The history of the £ 24 million rolls back to 1948 and the story weaves itself around the Nizam’s men, high commissioners and financial institutions in UK.

The amount initially maintained in the Nizam of Hyderabad government’s name was roughly £ 10,07,940.90.

On September 20 of that year the money was transferred into an account in the name of Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola, then Pakistan’s high commissioner in London.

But the Nizam’s government had not given its approval — the transfer of money was carried out on the instructions of the Nizam’s finance minister.

The irregularity in the transfer order stripped the Nizam’s government of the power to withdraw the money without the consent of the Nizam or the state government.

On September 28 of the same year, the Nizam sent instructions to his finance minister to “re-transfer” the funds to the account of either the Nizam himself or his government.

The finance minister refused to obey the fiat and the bank replied the account has already been transferred in the name of Rahimtoola and could be transferred to the Nizam or his government only at the order of a British Court.

Then Pakistan’s high commissioner to UK changed and the bank refused to transfer the money to his name on the plea that they would only admit a claim by the Nizam or Pakistan at the intervention of a British court.


New Delhi, Sept. 11: 
Rattled by the terrorist attacks in the United States, India today sounded a high alert throughout the country asking security agencies to be on their toes to deal with any possible attacks on important installations, particularly those belonging to the Americans.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who convened a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security tonight, assessed the implications of the attacks in the US for India’s internal security.

Aided by senior Cabinet colleagues L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, the three chiefs of the armed forces and the heads of security agencies, Vajpayee sat for more than one-and-a-half hours to discuss the attacks in New York and Washington.

“We express our great horror at this crime,” foreign and defence minister Jaswant Singh told reporters after the meeting outside the Prime Minister’s residence at 7 Race Course Road. He said India’s deepest condolences and sympathies are with the American people, the family members of the victims and the President.

Singh said: “Terrorism is a crime against which India is committed to fight and it will continue to do so.”

He said he had been in constant touch with the US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, and made it clear that “all actions necessary for the security and safeguarding of US installations on Indian soil” were being taken.

He said the Prime Minister also directed the security agencies to be alert to threats of terrorist strikes in India. The Cabinet Committee on Security “reviewed and assessed the situation following the attacks in the US and also reviewed the additional requisite steps to deal with India’s internal security following the attacks.” He, however, refused to give details of what these steps — “highly sensitive in nature” — were.

The foreign minister said he had also been in touch with India’s ambassador to the US, Lalit Mansingh, and was assured that all its staffers and officials at the embassy in Washington, the New York consulate and the UN permanent member’s office were safe and there has been no damage to Indian properties in the US. But he could not say for sure whether non-resident Indians and people of Indian origin living there were also safe. He said details about their whereabouts were difficult to get at this juncture.

The government directed the Lt-Governor of Delhi, Vijay Kapoor, to meet the US ambassador and assure him of all support to ensure the safety of American installations and citizens here. The authorities also threw a security ring around the Prime Minister’s Office, South Block, North Block, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the diplomatic enclave and other important installations in the capital.

India and the US have been working closely to combat terrorism at different fora and have formed a joint working group. There are apprehensions that if Saudi billionaire-turned-terrorist Osama bin Laden is behind the attacks, Delhi could be one of the targets.

An India-initiated resolution to have a comprehensive convention on terrorism is likely to come up for discussion when the UN General Assembly begins its session later this month in New York. The Prime Minister, along with other world leaders, are scheduled to arrive in New York in less than a fortnight for the session.


Kharagpur, Sept. 11: 
A former CPI parliamentarian’s son was shot dead a few hours after he was named the president of the Trinamul Congress’ youth wing in Midnapore.

The 42-year-old Goutam Choubey, elder son of former CPI MP Narayan Choubey, was gunned down in front of Lal Banglo at Malanchya in the Kharagpur Town police station area around 8.30 pm. Three persons have been arrested in this connection.

Choubey had been appointed president of the Trinamul Youth Congress’ unit by Mamata Banerjee during the day. The party has called a dawn-to-dusk bandh in the region tomorrow. Clashes had rocked Midnapore, Bengal political powder-keg, in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

The murder triggered a wave of violence in the area tonight. Shops were ransacked and vehicles damaged. Tension gripped the railway township of Kharagpur after news of the incident spread.

A strong police contingent, led by additional superintendent of police Vinit Goyal, rushed to Malanchya. His vehicle, too, was damaged by the mob and a constable was injured.

Narayan Choubey’s younger son Manas, who was a Congress worker, was also murdered at the same place on June 27, 1999.

Tarun Das, inspector-in-charge of Kharagpur Town police station, said: “The incident happened when Goutam and his seven friends, two of whom are councillors, were going towards the home of an acquaintance, Satyen Singh, near Parijat hotel.”

Police said the six assailants came on motorcycles and fired at Goutam and friends from close range. Goutam was taken to the police hospital where he was declared dead.

The police said some more persons could have been injured in the attack. The arrested are the brothers of Satyen, who has absconded after the incident.

Mamata is likely to visit Kharagpur tomorrow. Late at night, Trinamul leader Ajit Panja condemned the murder. Hema Choubey, widow of Goutam, said: “We have been receiving anonymous calls threatening Goutam for some days.”


Maintained by Web Development Company