Khadim�s kidnap key suspect gunned down in Gujarat
Japan hosts Naga talks
Political iftars leave bad taste
Plantation link to chit scam
Calcutta Weather

Dec. 8: 
The investigation into Khadim�s owner Parthapratim Roy Burman�s abduction suffered a stunning setback when a key accused, Arshi Rezak Khan, died under mysterious circumstances in Rajkot last night.

The Gujarat home department said police gunned down Khan, alias Rajan (30), after he snatched a service revolver from a policeman and tried to escape. Rajan had been taken on remand to Rajkot nearly a week ago from Calcutta.

The Criminal Investigation Department in Calcutta refused comment but officers associated with the probe felt that a �deep-rooted conspiracy� could be behind Rajan�s death.

�Rajan held the key to the case. He was definitely silenced by his superiors for spilling the beans during interrogation in Calcutta,� said a senior CID officer on condition of anonymity. IG (CID) Partha Bhattacharya, who was in Mumbai in connection with the probe, is expected to return to Calcutta tonight.

Gujarat home secretary K. Nityanandam said Rajan, who was also linked to the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, was killed in an encounter 28 km off Rajkot city last evening.

Rajan was being brought back from Sardhar post, where he had been taken for interrogation. The vehicle was stopped and his handcuffs were taken off when he complained of nausea and asked for water. He then snatched an AK-47 rife and opened fire, according to the Gujarat government.

The inspector escorting him held on to a rope tied to the accused and returned fire. Rajan was later taken dead to Rajkot civil hospital, a government source said.

The accused, who was present in Tiljala when the shoe baron was abducted on July 25, was considered to be the right hand of the mastermind, Aftab Ansari, who is also alleged to have links with the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Rajan also helped the CID track down the Haroa house where Roy Burman was held captive.

After the abduction, Rajan left for Kathmandu, where he stayed for some time with another Khadim�s kidnap case accused, Happy Singh, before reaching New Delhi.

Rajan and another accused, Arshad Khan (26), were arrested in New Delhi on November 12 and brought to Calcutta on November 14.

The CID learnt of Arshad Khan�s possible involvement in the abduction after sleuths picked up radio conversations between Rajan and militant groups from Pakistan.

A raid on Rajan�s Mafidul Islam Lane house in Calcutta confirmed the CID�s hunch about his involvement.

Rajan is said to have got in touch with Jaish chief Masood Azhar, one of the militants released in the Kandahar hijacking case, and Ansari in Tihar jail where he had been lodged after being caught with RDX from Adarsh Nagar in Delhi in 1994.

Investigators claimed that Rajan and Arshad Khan had crossed over early last year to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, where they got training for three months.


New Delhi, Dec. 8: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took time off his busy schedule in Osaka to meet NSCN leaders Muivah and Isak Swu, indicating that despite the recent hiccups the Naga peace process is on track.

The Vajpayee government hopes to come to an agreement with the NSCN and solve the Naga question once and for all. Nagaland was the first northeastern state to demand separation from India and had played big brother to all later insurgent groups in the region.

By meeting the NSCN leaders in Osaka, Prime Minister Vajpayee has indicated New Delhi�s desire to go the extra mile to work out a lasting solution to the Naga question.

The Vajpayee government has time and again said that it was willing to negotiate with all separatist and insurgent groups, so long as these outfits were willing to give up violence and negotiate within the framework of the Indian Constitution. The venue for the talks could be anywhere in the world, so long as these basic ground rules are met.

�The meeting is a goodwill gesture for the NSCN from Prime Minister Vajpayee. I hope the NSCN leaders realise its importance and reciprocate,� former Manipur chief minister Reishang Keishing , himself an influential Naga leader from Manipur, told The Telegraph.

The spadework for the meeting was done several months earlier when the chief negotiator for the government of India, K. Padmanabhaiah, met the Naga leaders in Amsterdam. This is Vajpayee�s second meeting with Muivah and Isak Swu. He had met them in Paris in 1988.

The peace negotiations nearly came unstuck in June when the Centre decided to extend the ceasefire to the other northeastern states. Manipur went up in flames.

Meities believed the NSCN and the Centre had come to an agreement to allow the outfit free movement in the hill areas of Manipur. Conspiracy theories did the rounds. The average Meities felt that the Centre in league with the NSCN was planning to carve the Naga-dominated Ukhrul district out of Manipur to form a part of Greater Nagaland


New Delhi, Dec. 8: 
An iftar sealed the newfound political camaraderie between Sonia Gandhi and Mulayam Singh Yadav. But it has not won them friends everywhere.

Frowning on Delhi Durbar�s penchant to transform iftars into political spectacles to display rapprochement and future alliances, Muslim clerics have directed the faithful not to attend such events hosted by politicians.

Members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and imams in Delhi have urged rozedars (those who keep fast) to stay away from these �political iftars�.

According to Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam, who heads the board, the month of Ramazan is for prayers, piety and penance, not for socialising and making political statements. The Qazi has not been spotted in any iftar hosted by Delhi�s political class.

Another member of the board, Kamal Farooqui, said politicians would have rendered better service if they had hosted iftars for poor Muslims.

Mufti Mohammad Mukkaram, Mufti Razzak and Mufti Ata-ur Rahman � three prominent imams of Delhi mosques �described iftar �parties� as un-Islamic and have urged their community members to avoid breaking fast at such political gatherings.

Also opposed to these �political tamashas� in the guise of iftar is the Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmad Bukhari. But more strident was his father. Imam Abdullah Bukhari had declared a fatwa in 1997 against �political iftars�.

The BJP was, perhaps, the first to realise the futility of hosting these lavish parties to reap political dividends. This time around, party chief Jana Krishnamurthy has abandoned plans to show goodwill towards the minority community despite the fact that the crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls are round the corner.

Last year, his predecessor Bangaru Laxman�s iftar at the party�s Ashoka Road headquarters had become the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons. First, there were no arrangements for the Magrib prayers that follow the breaking of the day-long fast.

Then, after the arrangements were made, namaz was offered in a different direction instead of the west, raising many eyebrows.

Delhi imams object to these parties on grounds of �vulgar display of material wealth and power�. They feel the spirit behind the holy month of Ramazan gets compromised.

�Roza and iftar are sacred occasions which should not be used to display one�s political or social clout,� says Syed Mufti Mukkaram, imam of Delhi�s Fatehpuri masjid.

Nonetheless, iftars are on in full swing in the capital with politicians vying with one another. So far, Vice-President Krishan Kant, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, civil aviation minister Shanawaz Hussain and the Pakistan High Commission have hosted iftars.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, President K.R. Narayanan, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha deputy speaker P.M. Sayeed and some Union ministers have also lined up theirs.


Calcutta, Dec. 8: 
The scope of investigations into the still-unfolding investment scam in the state widened on Saturday with officials saying that some chit funds had parked deposits in plantation companies.

Plantation companies that offer huge returns are considered a high-risk invest-ment avenue after several of them collapsed in the south a few years ago.

�It has now gone beyond the chit-chain: at least four plantation companies have been found to have links with the chit fund racket. But we will have to establish the links,� an officer said.




Maximum: 29.8�C (+3)
Minimum:17.6�C (+3)



Relative humidity

Maximum: 98% ,
Minimum: 43%


Mainly clear sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 17�C

Sunrise: 6.10 am

Sunset: 4.48 pm

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