Monday, May 31, 2010

Jackson leaves over USD 33 million each for his kids

London, May 31 (PTI) Pop icon Michael Jackson has reportedly left his three children USD 33 million each, according to his will.The 'Thriller' hitmaker has set up trust funds, which could make his children billionaires in the future. But Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, 8, will be at least 30 before they can get their own hands on the money, reported News of the World.Under the terms of the Michael Jackson Family Trust fund, first drafted before he had children, and signed off in 2002, the three kids are today each worth USD 33 million.Jackson's mother Katherine is entitled to USD 99 million from the legacy, but he has left nothing to his other family members including his father, brothers, sisters and former wives.

India, Pak hold talks on river water sharing

New Delhi, May 31 (PTI) India and Pakistan today discussed issues of river water sharing and exchange of data including that related to flood warning here.The three-day talks between the Indus Commissioners would also focus on finalising the annual report and work out the programme for the next year as per the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.Source said before the talks began, Pakistani team expressed its desire to visit the 240 MW Uri II project and the 44 MW Chutak hydel project on Suru, a tributary of the Indus in Kargil district.Pakistan claims that the construction of the Chutak project would block 35,000-feet per acre water.On Uri II, Pakistan claims that under the Indus Treaty, it was given a certain time period to respond to the designs of the projects, but India had started construction work before the deadline for Islamabad's response.

"There is threat to my life," claims Sri Sri Ravishankar

Bangalore, May 31 (ANI): Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said on Monday that there is a threat to his life.His statement came just a day after he escaped being shot at in Bangalore.An unidentified gunman shot at his car as he was returning after delivering a discourse.He said there are certain elements who wanted to attack him.However, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said he did not want security that would be an obstacle between him and his devotees.Addressing media at his Bangalore ashram, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said he has forgiven the attacker and invited him to the ashram."If I spend some time with him, he will be a changed man,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said. "I have no enemies and I have never used any kind of abuse in my entire life," he added.He also said his message was that of peace and only non-violence can overcome such an incident."We must ensure the safety of the devotees and we must not be afraid of such attackers," he added.On Monday, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar conducted morning prayers as usual.Meanwhile, Karnataka Police has resumed their investigations and are scanning the spot for clues.The Karnataka Government has beefed up security in and around the Art of Living ashram. According to Art of Living sources, one devotee sustained a minor injury on his thigh. (ANI)

President Patil calls for greater market access for Indian goods in Chinese market

Shanghai, May 31 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is on a visit to China, said on Sunday that unless market access for Indian pharmaceutical, engineering and information technology companies improves, trade relations between India and China, which is under strain at present, would continue to worsen.During her meeting here with the ruling Communist Party''s Shanghai chief Yu Zhengsheng, Patil said it was important for Beijing to focus on trade imbalances and market access issues.Briefing media persons about the meeting, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao underlined that India wanted more market access in China in fields like engineering goods, IT (Information and Technology), IT enabled services, agricultural products and commodities, and added that this issue has been well conveyed to the Chinese leadership during Patil’s visit.The trade relationship between the two countries has been seen as a crucial driver of overall bilateral relations amid persisting political strains over the long-pending border dispute.India’s recent restrictions on the import of Chinese telecom equipment in light of security concerns, has added to the list of strains.Responding to a question on the dumping of Chinese goods in Indian markets, Rao said there are many corrective measures in place to check such practices.“There are a number of anti-dumping investigations also on Chinese products coming into India. And , there are also safeguard duties that are placed on Chinese goods. Whenever we see a surge which is likely to affect our industry adversely, corrective measures are taken,” she said.Earlier, during the last leg of her China visit, Patil visited the Indian pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, which is being described as the biggest and most expensive in exhibition history.She also unveiled a statue of Rabindranath Tagore in the heart of old-town Shanghai, China’s financial capital.Tagore had visited Shanghai in the 1920s and left a strong influence on a whole generation of Chinese intellectuals and writers. (ANI)

Punjab and Haryana High Court to hear Rathore''s bail plea today

Chandigarh, May 31 (ANI): The Punjab and Haryana High Court will take up the bail plea of former Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) SPS Rathore on Monday.Rathore, who is now lodged in Chandigarh’s Burail jail, moved the high court with a review petition, seeking bail on medical grounds.Earlier, the Chandigarh District and Sessions Court had rejected Rathore’s appeal against his conviction in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case.The court had enhanced Rathore’s jail term to 18 months from six months.His lawyer-wife Abha Rathore pleaded with the judge to hear the case, arguing that her husband was facing severe health problems.She also initiated a process for a revised petition against the verdict in the court of Justice S.S. Saron, contending that the appellate court had passed the order under media pressure. (ANI)

Fresh round of talks with NSCN-IM on Tuesday in Nagaland

Government negotiators begin fresh talks on Tuesday in Nagaland with the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), the state's dominant separatist group, aimed at ending nearly six decades of insurgency.New Delhi's main peace interlocutor R.S. Pandey will meet NSCN-IM leaders in Kohima. This is the first time talks are being held in Nagaland since a ceasefire in August 1997 between the two sides."The talks are expected to discuss wide-ranging issues although we cannot divulge the agenda," Pandey told IANS.The NSCN-IM would be led by general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah, while officials from the central home ministry and intelligence agencies are expected to participate in the negotiations.New Delhi and NSCN-IM have held more than 55 rounds of peace talks in the past 13 years to end one of South Asia's longest running insurgencies that has killed 25,000 people since 1947.The NSCN-IM is, however, cynical of the fresh round of talks as they believe the focus of the government emissaries would be to convince Muivah to help end the deadlock in Manipur rather then taking the peace process forward."Any issue involving Nagas of Nagaland, Eastern Nagaland (Myanmar) and other Naga areas (in Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh) should be left alone. The meeting (Tuesday) should in no way be considered as political talks between the government of India and the Nagas as it is clearly a localized issue revolving around an individual's visit to his native village in Manipur," a statement by the NSCN-IM said.Manipur is in turmoil since April. First, Naga groups residing in Manipur enforced an indefinite economic blockade protesting the state government's decision to hold autonomous council elections.The decision by Muivah to visit his ancestral village in Manipur's Ukhrul district led to bloody clashes. Three people were killed in police firing May 6.The Manipur government has banned Muivah's visit saying it would incite tension.The deadlock over the issue has led to several Naga groups enforcing an indefinite economic blockade of Manipur. Hundreds of trucks carrying food and essential goods have been stranded in Nagaland as protesters have laid seige to National Highway 39 - the main lifeline to Manipur.This has triggered a food crisis in Manipur, with the state forced to airlift supplies of even medicines. Hospitals have been compelled to stop routine surgeries due to dearth of oxygen cylinders."No matter the amount of animosity, hatred and bad blood between Manipur government and Nagas of Manipur, emotion should not betray sanity and reason," the NSCN-IM statement said, adding that the Meiteis (the majority community in Manipur) and Nagas of Manipur would "co-exist for as long as man walks on earth".During earlier talks, the NSCN-IM had proposed "a special federal arrangement" to enable the Nagas self-governance but the negotiations ended inconclusively."It was agreed in earlier meetings to explore and discuss our demand for a special federal relationship between India and Nagalim (Greater Nagaland) that allows us self-governance," a senior NSCN-IM leader told IANS.The NSCN-IM has been struggling for nearly six decades to create a 'Greater Nagaland' by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas. The demand is opposed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.The rebel leadership blamed New Delhi for failing to meet their demands -- even 13 years after the ceasefire."The progress of the talks is very slow. We cannot be patient always as there is a limit to everything though we believe in a political solution to our problem rather than a military one," the NSCN-IM leader said.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Taliban attack two mosques in Lahore, over 1000 taken hostage

Lahore, May 28 (ANI): After a brief lull in terror activities in Pakistan, the Taliban struck with deadly force, with armed militants and suicide attackers storming into two mosques killing at least five persons on Friday here.The mosques are located in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas.According to media reports, at least five people were killed, including two security personnel and over 15 injured as one of the many suicide bombers blew himself up at the Garhi Shahu mosque.The attack took place when a large number of people had gathered to offer special Friday prayers at both mosques, and reports said that the attackers have taken over 1000 people hostage in the brazen terror strike.There were reports of several blasts followed by gunshots near the two mosques, which belong to the Ahmedia sect.Television footage showed heavy exchange of gunfire between the militants and security forces.The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has already claimed the responsibility for the attack (TTP).The gunfight between security forces and militants was still continuing the last reports filtered in. (ANI)

Mizoram highest among states in tobacco consumption

More than 20 per cent Mizoram smokers have kicked out the habit in the past one decade, raising hopes that Mizo will shake off the ignominy of being the topper among states in tobacco consumption.A survey conducted by the Mizoram State Tobacco Control Society has revealed that more and more smokers are of late kicking the butt.Jane Ralte, programme officer of MSTC, told PTI that the survey, conducted among 2,500 people above 18 years of age in the eight districts of Mizoram, found that as much as 73.1 per cent of the smokers wanted to quit smoking.The survey reveals that while 55 per cent still smoked, 45 per cent are non-smokers or who had quit the habit.As many as 50.8 per cent of the smokers said they did not find any enjoyment in smoking, while 37.5 per cent still do and 84.2 per cent admitted that their expenditure on cigarettes was a financial burden.At least 10.6 per cent said no to it and 5.2 per cent could not give an answer.The survey also revealed that a whopping 89.60 per cent agreed that smoking was harmful for health, but 6.80 per cent did not think so and 3.60 per cent did not offer opinion.In all 85.3 per cent are also aware that passive smoking is equally harmful to others, while as many as 10.3 per cent of them did not believe in it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chidambaram asks Assam rebels to surrender or face offensive

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday toughened New Delhi's stand on countering insurgency in Assam, saying security offensives would continue in full steam until rebel groups lay down arms and sit for peace talks."Security forces have been asked to take all measures against the insurgents. Insurgency has no place and, therefore, they must lay down arms and surrender. Or else security forces have been instructed to deal with them firmly," he told reporters on a visit here to review the security situation."I must say there has been a dramatic improvement in the security situation in Assam with many top leaders of major insurgent groups apprehended," the home minister said.Chidambaram held separate meetings with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi besides chairing a meeting of the Unified Command Headquarters with top army and paramilitary commanders, besides police and civil officials."The political process with the militant groups would be taken up by the chief minister and he would decide whom to talk to and what are the conditions to be accepted or not in consultation with his council of ministers," the home minister said."The centre will give all possible support in taking any peace process forward," he added.Earlier in the day, the home minister visited Mizoram's capital Aizawl and reviewed the situation, mainly the issue relating to repatriation of 37,000 tribal Reang refugees sheltered in six Tripura refugee camps for the past 13 years."Already 209 Bru (Reangs are also known as Bru) families have moved to Mizoram and I was made to understand by Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla that over a period of time all the refugees will be taken back," Chidambaram said.

Suspected Kuki militants threaten to kill government official, if not paid Rs 1 crore

Suspected Kuki militants kidnapped a Manipur government official for a huge ransom of Rupees one crore, official reports said in Imphal today.The armed militants abducted farm overseer (FO) Nameirakpam Nabakumar (56), while he was going from his house, situated in Luwangsangbam, about eight km north of Imphal, to his office at a sericulture project centre at Sangaipat in Imphal on May 20, the reports said.The abduction came to light when some callers who identified themselves as militants of the United Kuki LiberationArmy-Military Council (UKLA-MC) informed the family members on Thursday night that Nabakumar was in their custody and demanded an immediate payment of Rs 50 lakh by his department for his safe release, reports stated. Within a couple of days, the ultras called up again, raising the ransom demand to Rupees one crore "since the initial amount of Rs 50 lakh was not paid promptly as asked", and threatened to kill the official if the entire amount was not handed over.At the sericulture department, several employees launched a sit-in protest yesterday against the abduction and appealed to the ultras to release the official unharmed without any pre-condition.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garmi Ka Dushman Sharbat, Talwaar Soap - some of the hit consumer products in Pakistan!

ISLAMABAD - Kalashnikov Surf, Pistol Soap and Talwaar Soap - these are just some of the quirky names of consumer goods being sold to the rich and poor alike in Pakistan these days.These off-beat brand names appeal not only to the highly educated and rich - who select their shirts, shoes, wrist watches or fast food and beverages of certain brands - but also to the poor such as the war victims from the northern areas of Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan living in the temporary camps set in different areas of the city.And so, started an interesting trend of brand naming of a different kind, by local manufacturers of soaps and detergents of the northern areas of the country, especially Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who name their products with strange brand names, such as Kalashnikov Soap, Pistol Soap, Barood (explosive material) Soap, Kalashnikov Washing Powder, Aakhri Goli (the last bullet) Soap and Talwaar (sword) Soap.According to the Daily Times, an elderly Shahzaman, to people living in war-afflicted areas, these brand names are a matter of honour.“Kalashnikov is an automatic rifle that has been the most popular in Pakistan since the 1980s and when you posses this rifle, you can literally wipe out your enemies, so the detergent manufacturers named their washing powder as Kalashnikov Surf. People can understand that it would washout all the stains from the cloth just like the rifle wipes out the enemies,” he explained.However, products with weird brand names have also trickled into the local markets of Karachi, specifically in the areas where immigrants from the tribal areas or Afghan refugees are living.Psychologists have called this a smart marketing move.“Humans are emotionally and deeply attached with their cultural values and taking advantage of that, most manufacturers name their products after these cultural values just to attract more customers,” The Daily Times quoted Dr Qasim Birhoi, renowned psychiatrist, as saying.Some other bizarrely named products, including Suhaag Rat Paan (wedding night betel leaves), Garmi Ka Dushman Sharbat (anti-heat beverage), Gai Marka (cow mark) Soap and Murgh Marka (chicken mark) Tobacco. (ANI)


Even as people in Manipur are bearing the brunt of National Highway blockade in Nagaland and in Manipur by Naga based groups, some traders are trying to capitalize on the crisis situation. For instance one shop is offering 10 litres of petrol for free with a TV. In the crisis situation a litre of the fuel has shot up to Rs. 200. This electronic shop, one of the biggest in Imphal town grabbed people’s attention and took everyone by surprise one fine day when it posted a full page ad in a local daily. ‘Buy certain items from the shop for certain rate and get 10 liters of petrol or a Tata sky absolutely free’. The one liner of course reflects the scarcity of petroleum products, Manipur faces late in the wake of indefinite National Highway blockade and the counter blockade. A liter of petrol now costs around Rs 150 to 200 in the black market and that is not so readily available. For the last more than a month, Naga groups have imposed blockade on National Highway 39 against the government’s decision to hold ADC polls against the people’s wishes. Making matters worse, the life line of the state got completely paralysed after Ibobi slapped a ban on NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah’s visit to his native village in the early part of this month. Since then NSCN supporters and other Naga groups in Nagaland have held the National Highway siege, thereby choking supply of essential commodities to Manipur. Traders are exploiting the situation to sell their products. And they have got customers rushing to shops that are offering petrol for free. Amid this acute fuel scarcity, Imphal-based electronic outlets have toed in the lines of one offering free petrol for buying television sets, washing machines and refrigerators.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Manipur crisis: RSS for Centre's intervention

RSS on Sunday demanded immediate steps from the Centre to end the economic blockade faced by people of Manipur and for their safety."It was highly deplorable to shut both the national highways to Manipur for last 17 days while opposing the entry of NSCN-IM leader T Muivah in Manipur", RSS General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi said in a statement today.About 25 lakh people in Manipur are hit by the closure of national highways. Prices of essential commodities including rice, pulses, floor, diesel, petrol and kerosenes are skyrocketing. Dimapur-Imphal NH 39 and Jiribam-Imphal NH 53 are closed since April 11, he said."I, therefore, urge the Centre and state to initiate immediate steps to reopen the closed national highways. Some years ago, the Centre intervened to reopen the Jammu-Srinagar national highways within 48 hours, Joshi recalled. It was surprising that though the people of Manipur were suffering, Central Government was keeping mum, he said.Manipur is facing another crisis as some militant organisations have told non-Manipuri people to leave the state before May 31. Their threat and demand is unconstitutional and against national interest. RSS has demanded security to all the citizens of Manipur, Joshi said.Manipur has been in turmoil since April. First, Naga groups residing in Manipur enforced an indefinite economic blockade on April 11 protesting the state government’s decision to hold autonomous council elections. Since May 6 the protests have been over the state government refusing permission to Naga separatist leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his ancestral village.

Manipur under siege

The heart of Manipur is ‘dry land’. That possibly isn’t the reason why this Land of Gems is prone to being left high and dry. On the map, Manipur is like a set of concentric circles. The 238-acre, 400-year-old Kangla — it means ‘dry land’ in Meitei language — Fort forms the innermost ‘circle’. Around it stands state capital Imphal, encircled by the 1,843 sq km Imphal Valley dominated by the Meitei community. And this valley is surrounded by 20,504 sq km of hills inhabited by several Naga tribes, Kukis and their ethnic cousins.The moat-rimmed Kangla Fort is but a shadow of its royal past. After the Assam Rifles moved out in 2004, it ceased to be the symbol of ‘Indian colonialism’. But power remained in the vicinity. What separates the fort from the Raj Bhavan, Assembly and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s official residence is National Highway 39.The 436 km NH39 is more than just a highway. It is Manipur’s lifeline from either end — Numaligarh in Assam where it branches off NH37 in the northwest and passes through Nagaland to touch the Indo-Myanmar border southeast at Moreh. The highway is also an Achilles’ heel for this northeastern state — it gets choked whenever Manipur has ethnic, militant and inter-state problems.Manipur’s highways are often likened to boa constrictors. No one feels it more than petty trader H. Brajamani (48) of Thoubal, 25 km south of Imphal along NH39. Ever since Naga organisations imposed a highway blockade from mid-April — first to protest tribal council polls and then against the ban on Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah’s proposed visit to ancestral village Somdal in Manipur’s Ukhrul district —Brajamani is buying his vegetables dirt cheap. Because blockade-induced fuel scarcity has either made buses and trucks idle or too expensive compelling Thoubal vegetable growers to offload locally. But the vegetables can’t be cooked because LPG is too hard to get even at Rs 2,000 a cylinder and kerosene unavailable. “We are yet to get used to firewood,” he says.Imphal’s masked rickshaw-pullers - they hide the ignominy of a ‘lowly’ profession — have a similar predicament. The fuel crisis has helped treble their income, but their expenses on essentials have quadrupled. No wonder, buying a colour TV in Imphal entails up to 10 litres of free petrol.“Medicines are being airlifted, but work without fuel is difficult,” says Bar Association secretary N. Jotendro. Commuting constraints have forced schools to declare early summer vacation while local newspapers downsized pages owing to newsprint crisis.It is not the valley — it grows enough rice to sustain 60 per cent of Manipur in a year — that is suffering. The worst affected are areas that want to see Muivah’s homecoming become a reality. For the moment, they do not mind paying Rs 500 a kilo for sugar or Rs 110-150 for a litre of diesel so long as the standoff bleeds Manipur.But Manipur — CM Ibobi Singh to be precise — is in no mood to let Muivah in. For, in the visit it sniffs a design to reclaim Manipur’s hills for Greater Nagalim, the ultimate goal of the militant National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah). The hills that Manipuri kings had ruled out of Kangla Fort.An old Meitei saying runs thus: Ching na mayambani, tam na manao ni; animak thadoknaba yaroi (Hill is elder brother, Valley is younger brother; the two cannot be separated). Is Manipur paying the price of a role reversal bid?

Manipur minister escorts convoy on blockaded highway

Manipur minister Yumkham Erabot on Saturdayday defied the indefinite economic blockade by Naga students on the National Highway 53 by escorting 290 trucks and tankers loaded with essential supplies to Imphal.Erabot, the consumer affairs and food and public distribution minister, told newsmen at Koteln, about 25 km from Imphal, that members of All Naga Students' Association Manipur (ANSAM) had tried to block the highway with stones at Noney, 45 km from Imphal.The passage of the convoy carrying cooking gas, petrol and other essential supplies was facilitated by central security forces, including BSF and CRPF, and police, official sources said.Erabot was given a rousing reception and garlanded at Khumbong, Yurembam, Patsoi, Sagolband and Morang Hanuba right up to capital complex. The people shouted slogans 'Erabot, hero of Manipur,' and 'You are great'.Official sources said the government would use both NH 53 and NH 150 from Silchar in Assam via Aizawl, Mizoram's capital, for bringing in essential items.ANSAM had launched the blockade along Dimapur-Imphal-National Highway 39 and Jiribam-Imphal NH 53 since April 11.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Next round of peace talks in Nagaland: NSCN

The next round of peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN-IM will be held in Nagaland amid the ongoing stalemate over Naga leader T Muivah's resolve to visit his birthplace in Manipur.Senior NSCN-IM functionary V S Atem said the Centre agreed to its proposal to have the next round of parleys in Nagaland but the exact venue and date are yet to be finalised.The ensuing peace talks, likely to be held next week, will be the first of its kind in Nagaland during the discourse of 13 years of Naga peace process since all official dialogue between the two sides were held either in Delhi or abroad towards finding a honourable settlement to the protracted Naga political conflict.This will be the third round of talks after the Centre appointed former Nagaland chief secretary R S Pandey as the new interlocutor to carry forward the peace process to its logical conclusion.After the May 12 meeting among NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai and Pandey here, Atem had said that the Centre was in touch with its leaders and urged to have "some patience".Atem, also the convenor of NSCN-IM steering committee, reaffirmed that Muivah, now camping in Viswema near Nagaland-Manipur border since May 5 en route to Somdal in Ukhrul district, would go ahead with his planned visit any way, asserting "there is no question of going back to Hebron, the group's headquarters near Dimapur, from here."If the Centre cannot prevail upon the Manipur government on such a small matter, they should put off their hands and leave it to us to handle the situation there leading to the current impasse (over the visit)," Atem, emissary to NSCN collective leadership, asserted.On prevailing Manipur situation, he asserted that it was the creation of Ibobi Singh government and the Nagas were not responsible for that."The Nagas want to live peacefully as good neighbours with the Meities (of Manipur) but not at the expense of our rights and lands," Atem said.He described the ongoing economic blockade in Manipur as the result of direct provocation and insult to the Nagas by the Ibobi government.

Mangalore air tragedy: Crash a pilot error?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

X-rays reveal 10 rocks in pooch’s stomach

NEW YORK - A 2-year-old dog swallowed 10 rocks, the biggest the size of a chicken egg.Mia, a German shepherd-greyhound mix was taken in to the Willakenzie Animal Clinic in Eurgene, Ore. after her owner, Vivian Cooper, tossed a ball for the pooch to fetch and heard a noisy rattle.“The sound was really quite loud, like she had marbles in her pocket,” the New York Daily News quoted Cooper as telling“I leaned down and put my head near her ribcage and shook her. Inside it went, clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk-clunk.”X-rays showed 10 rocks in Mia’s stomach. She had swallowed these from the backyard water fountain.However, Mia is doing fine - since the rocks were big and smooth they didn’t hurt her stomach’s lining or make her sick. (ANI)

BSF deployed on highway to bring life-saving drugs to Manipur

BSF has been deployed on a vital road link between Manipur and Silchar in Assam to bring life-saving drugs and foodgrains here as the two national highways remained blocked for over a month by Naga students.BSF personnel have been deployed on the National Highway to bring in oil tankers, trucks laden with goods and other vehicles stranded at Jiribam, about 200 km from Imphal, on Manipur-Assam border, officials said.The Naga students are opposing holding of election to the autonomous district councils in the hill districts of Manipur and protesting Manipur government's decision to prevent NSCN (I-M) leader T Muivah from visiting his native Somdal village in Ukhrul district.Meanwhile, IAF cargo planes continued to airlift rice and life-saving drugs since Monday from Guwahati for Manipur.In view of the acute shortage of essential items, Manipur government has requested neighbouring Mizoram to allow it to bring essential supplies from Silchar via Aizawl, they said.So far, 50 vehicles loaded with essential items, cement, building materials and other goods have reached Churachandpur district in Manipur, the officials said.

46 students held for demonstrating before VC's residence

Forty-six students were arrested for demonstrating in front of the official residence of Vice Chancellor of the Mizoram University in Aizawl.The students were angry over allegations that the university authorities have deliberately sidelined local candidates in the recruitment of 117 assistant and associate professors by insisting on good academic records and had in the past recruited 28 alumni of Benaras Hindu University, his alma mater.Forty six students, including Vice President of the Mizo Students' Union (MSU) R B Lalmalsawma, demonstrating before the residence of Prof A N Rai at Tanhril in the campus, were in jail custody, Aizawl District SP Lalbiakthanga Khiangte said.The MSU insisted that Mizo candidates should not be barred from appearing in the interviews solely because they did not get first divisions in all the four examinations -HSLC, HSSLC, degree course and post graduate levels.The allegations were denied by the University sources, which said the recruitments were based on academic record of the candidate.Many students continued to have sit-in demonstration in front of the Vana Pa Hall here in protest against the arrest of their fellow students.

Pakistan bans Facebook over Prophet cartoons

Pakistani authorities on Wednesday cut off access to Facebook following a court's order to block the popular social networking website over a page featuring blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.Justice Ijaz Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court issued the order to temporarily block Facebook till May 31 while acting on a petition filed by the Islamic Lawyers Forum, which had sought a complete ban on the website.The court directed the foreign ministry to raise the issue of the blasphemous caricatures at international forums.It also asked the Foreign Secretary to register a protest with the concerned countries.Acting on the court's order, the Information Technology Ministry directed the Pakistan TelecommunicationAuthority to block Facebook and all "other internet links displaying sacrilegious caricatures" of the Prophet Mohammed.The ministry also directed PTA to "remain alert and watchful and block all such links displaying the profane caricatures immediately", an official statement said. The ministry asked people to inform it about "objectionable caricatures" at any website.PTA also said it had established a "Crisis Cell" to monitor objectionable contents on websites.Thousands of members of Facebook launched a campaign demanding a boycott of the website over the offending page called "Draw Mohammed Day" that invited people to send in caricatures of the Prophet till May 20.The depiction of the Prophet in any form is strictly prohibited in Islam and Pakistan witnessed violent protests after blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed were carried in European newspapers in 2005.Facebook users across Pakistan were unable to access the website on their computers by late afternoon. However, some users were able to log in to Facebook using their smartphones.Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi strongly condemned the competition for blasphemous caricatures on Facebook. In a statement, he said the blocking of such websites would only provide a temporary solution as "anti-Islam elements have been hurting the sentiments of the Muslims in the past too".An effective plan of action should be devised against the perpetrators of such acts, he said.Kazmi urged Islamic countries to join hands for devising an effective policy so that nobody could dare publish such caricatures in future.Religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Jamiat Tulba and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam organised protests against the caricatures on Facebook in Lahore, Kasur, Narowal, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CPI-M seeks central intervention in Manipur over Naga blockade

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Tuesday demanded central intervention to end the ongoing crisis in Manipur arising out of the state government's decision not to allow the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) leader Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his birthplace in the state."Immediate central intervention is required and the state and centre should jointly deal with the situation in Manipur," CPI-M central committee member Bijon Dhar told reporters here.He said: "Peace talks between the centre and both factions of NSCN must continue. Any hasty step should not be taken to jeopardise the crucial peace process.""The Congress and its ally Trinamool Congress have been demanding President's Rule in West Bengal. Why are they silent with regard to Manipur," the Left leader asked.The CPI-M urged that all concerned should sit together to end the crisis which, according to the Left party, is severely affecting the common man.The land-locked northeastern state of Manipur is reeling under unprecedented crisis of all essentials, baby food, life saving drugs and transport fuel following an indefinite economic blockade enforced by various Naga tribal groups since May 6 to protest the Manipur government's decision not to allow Thuingaleng Muivah to visit his birth place in Somdal village in Ukhrul district.Mountainous Manipur depends on supplies from outside and trucks carrying essentials and other goods from the rest of India use the national highways passing through Nagaland. The Naga tribal groups put up blockades on both the highways, the lifelines of Manipur.The Manipur government has banned the entry of Muivah to his birthplace, saying it could lead to ethnic unrest in the state.The 75-year-old Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur, was born in Somdal village, 100 km north of capital Imphal in Ukhrul district, and had last visited his birthplace in 1960.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meghalaya targets NH to protest border killings

A series of shutdowns in Meghalaya to protest a violent border row with Assam is set to affect two more highways – NH40 and NH44 – in the Northeast.NH39 and NH53, both leading to Manipur capital Imphal, have been under siege for a month now.United Democratic Party (UDP), the Congress’ ruling ally in Meghalaya has called a bandh on Tuesday to protest the killing of Khasi and Garo tribal people at Langpih, a border village 100 km west of Assam capital Guwahati, on Friday. The Khasi Students Union (KSU) and the militant Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council have also called bandhs in synchronicity or thereafter.Four people died in police firing following a clash between a tribal group and Nepalese settlers in that village at the centre of a border row between Assam and Meghalaya since July 2008.The prime target of the bandhs are NH40 and NH44, the lifelines of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and southern Assam’s Barak Valley.NH40 branches off NH37 at Jorabat (15 km east of Guwahati) and ends at Jowai (headquarters of Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district) 216 km southwest. NH44 links Meghalaya capital Shillong and Sabroom 630 km away in Tripura (near India-Bangladesh border).NH44, in turn, is crucial for movement of essentials to Mizoram (NH54) and Manipur (NH53). The highway to Mizoram capital Aizawl starts at Silchar and the highway to Imphal begins at Badarpur, both in southern Assam.Naga organizations protesting the holding of elections in Manipur’s tribal councils had ‘imposed’ a blockade on NH53 since April. The imbroglio over Naga rebel leader Thuingaleng Muivah’s visit to ancestral village Somdal in Manipur’s Ukhrul district added to the blockade on this highway as well as NH39, Manipur’s lifeline via Nagaland.“We will go ahead with our 24-hour bandh from Tuesday. We cannot help if the bandh leads to cutting off a large chunk of the region,” said KSU president Samuel B Jyrwa.Adding to the ethnic tension in Meghalaya are ‘quit notices’ served on Nepalese residents. Though the KSU ‘withdrew’ its notice served on Nepalese living in Shillong, the Jaintia Youth Federation has stuck to its determination to expel Nepali-speaking people from the Jaintia Hills.Meghalaya Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh, meanwhile, has warned youth organizations against any ethnic cleansing drive. He has also appealed to agitating NGOs and political parties to take back their shutdown calls.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cyclonic storm kills three, damages 1,000 houses in Tripura

At least three people were killed and over 10 injured as a cyclonic storm lashed several parts of Tripura, leaving behind a trail of destruction, officials said on Monday.The pre-monsoon rains accompanied by strong winds and hailstorm Sunday night damaged more than 1,000 houses and killed many cattle in western and southern Tripura."Three people, including a woman, were killed in separate incidents of wall collapse and lightning at Teliamura in western Tripura," a relief department official told reporters.Ten people who were hurt in these incidents have been shifted to government hospitals, the official said.Hundreds of trees, telephone and electric poles were uprooted in the squall, badly affecting the movement of vehicles on Monday."Civil defence workers and district officials are busy providing relief. Telecommunication and power corporation personnel are working to restore communication lines and power supply," the official said.Similar cyclonic rainstorms accompanied by heavy lightning since March have also killed 15 more people in Tripura, damaged 15,000 houses and caused large scale destruction.Meteorological department director Dilip Saha said: "The seasonal Nor’wester (cyclonic rainstorm) would continue till the onset of monsoon next month. The recurring Nor’wester is now active in entire eastern and northeast India and few other places in the country.""The northeastern region, due to its topography, is a lightning-prone area. Lightning claims on an average 100 lives every year specially during March to May," said Swapan Bhowmik, a physicist of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Agartala.

Manipur facing its worst-ever fuel crisis due to economic blockade

Most petrol-driven vehicles will come to a screeching halt in Manipur in 72 hours if fuel supplies continue to be blocked. Diesel run vehicles have some more time before existing stocks run out.Manipur consumer affairs, food and public distribution Minister Y Erabot said the existing stock of petrol will last for three days while diesel for another 9 days against the state’s daily requirement of 75 kilolitres of petrol and 220 kilolitres of diesel.Manipur is facing its worst fuel crisis due to prolonged economic blockade on Imphal-Mao sector (110 km) of National Highway 39 by All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) since April 11. ANSAM is demanding amendment of Manipur Autonomous District Council Act.The situation has worsened due to subsequent 'road blockade' on the same route by the various Naga bodies besides Nagaland-based Naga Students Federation’s ‘ban’ on entry of Manipur trucks since early part of May. The Students’ ban came in the wake of an ongoing stand-off between Manipur government and Naga bodies over NSCN-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah’s proposed trip to his native Somdal village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district.Erabot also sought centre’s intervention to contain the situation as the state authorities failed to provide mobile security cover to the incoming and outgoing Manipur trucks. “No mobile security escort has been provided despite repeated request which restricts the movement of the trucks till date”, Minister lamented. “It’s a betrayal to general public”. Hundreds of goods laden trucks and oil tankers were reportedly stranded along Assam-Nagaland and Manipur-Assam borders as no security escorts came to rescued them.Earlier he had promised to ensure supplies of essential commodities within a week.The state is also planning to lift the essential items from FCI godowns at Silchar instead of Dimapur in Nagaland.

Two killed in lightning, 10,000 displaced in Assam floods

A newly-married couple was killed in a lightning strike while flash floods triggered by heavy rains displaced more than 10,000 people in 25 villages in Assam on Sunday, officials said.A police spokesperson said the couple died Sunday when lightning struck their home in village Bokulguri in Nagaon district, about 160 km east of Guwahati."The two died instantly as their thatched hut was severely damaged in lightning," the official said.Meanwhile, flash floods inundated 25 villages in Lakhimpur district with the Brahmaputra river breaching two embankment."So far about 10,000 people have been displaced with many taking shelter on raised platforms," an official said.Floodwaters of the mighty Brahmaputra also entered the 430 sq km Kaziranga National Park in Assam forcing scores of endangered animals to flee the park to safer areas, officials said."More than half of the park is under water. Animals are migrating from the sanctuary to an adjoining hill for safety," a park warden said.Kaziranga is home to the world's largest concentration of one-horned rhinoceros. As per the 2009 census report, some 2,000 of the world's estimated 3,000 one-horned rhinos live in the park.Meanwhile, the park authorities have enforced prohibitory orders directing truckers to drive slowly on the national highway that winds through the park."Special barricades have been put along the highway. Forest guards are asking drivers to drive at speeds under 40 km an hour as the animals use the highway to cross over to the hills to escape the floods," the park warden said.A large number of animals, including deer, get mowed down by speeding trucks while crossing the highway to escape the annual floods. At least 70 animals, including rhinos and wild buffaloes, were drowned in 2004.

Army to buy additional 124 Arjun tanks

New Delhi, May 17 (ANI): To boost the strike capability of the armed forces, the Indian Army will buy 124 additional indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT), after the armoured platform proved its worthiness against the Russian-built T-90 MBT in a gruelling trial of strength in the Thar desert.The army had already placed orders for 124 Arjun tanks, of which about 50 tanks were handed over to it in 2009.The Army''s decision to get additional Arjun tanks comes after the Defence Ministry asked it to objectively study reports of the trials of the Arjun tanks during the recent exercises.Ministry of Defence spokesperson, Sitanshu Kar, said: "This is over and above the existing order of 124 tanks. The development follows the success of the indigenous MBT Arjun."During six months of trials, the DRDO, along with tank crews from the Army''s 43 Armoured Regiment, proved not just the Arjun''s endurance, but also the ability of its computer-controlled gun to consistently blow away small-sized targets placed a kilometre away during the trials conducted at the Mahajan Ranges near Bikaner in Rajasthan."After many years of trial and tribulation, it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances, such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets and accurately hitting targets - both stationary and moving -with pin-point accuracy," Kar said."Its superior fire power is based on accurate and quick target acquisition capability during day and night in all types of weather and shortest possible reaction time during combat engagements," he added.The MBT Arjun today remains a contemporary battle tank and by far superior to T-54, T-55, and T-72 tanks that the Army has been using over the years.The T-90S and the MBT Arjun have their own special features. The MBT Arjun has more power to weight ratio, hydro-pneumatic suspension for better ride comfort and a stable platform to fire on the move, better quality class of Gun Control System and Fire Control System etc.The Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi near Chennai is producing the 60-tonne tank. (ANI)

Sunday, May 16, 2010



Census 2011 begins in Mizoram today

Census 2011, the seventh census after independence, begins in Mizoram today covering all the eight districts, S K Chakraborty, Deputy Director of Census Operations, New Delhi announced in Aizawl yesterday.Chakraborty told a press conference that 2,354 enumerators and 392 supervisors would conduct the census and the National Population Register would also be prepared in the state along with the rest of the country.All the district magistrates of the eight districts have been designated as Principal Census Officers.The first phase of the census during which houselisting, housing census and collection of data on National Population Register would be completed by September this year and the population enumeration would be taken up during February next year, he added.

Congress opposes move to rename Dimapur

Taking a clear stand on the issue of renaming of Dimapur, the Congress party in Nagaland has opposed the change in the nomenclature of Dimapur as proposed by chief Minister Neiphiu Rio led-DAN government. Making their stand loud and clear on the issue of renaming of Dimapur by chief minister Neiphiu Rio-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government; the opposition Congress party has unanimously resolved to oppose the renaming of Dimapur stating that the place is of historical importance, and hence it is not the question that the name has been given by the minority or majority. Talking to NETV, Nagaland Congress Legislative Party Leader Tokheho Yepthomi said that they will try their best to protect the name of Dimapur. Referring to Nagaland Legislative Assembly Speaker’s statement over the proposed renaming, Tokheho said the DAN government had not consulted the opposition members on the issue. He alleged that Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie gave a wrong statement. The Congress also denied that the matter was discussed in the Assembly or that a consensus could not be arrived at. The decision to oppose the issue was taken during a recently held CLP meeting. Congress MLA Hewoto Awomi asserted that it was not a question of “minority” or “majority” but about historical fact and added that it was the duty of the government to protect the minorities. Further, he clarified that besides addressing the Naga political problem; there was no discussion among the legislators for renaming of Dimapur as stated earlier by chief minister, Neiphiu Rio. He also said that the party, together with the citizens of Dimapur, will take action if the government decides to rename Dimapur. According to a section of historians, the name Dimapur comes from the Kachari dialect. However, etymologically, di means "river", ma means "big" and pur means "city". Dimapur, once the capital city of the Dimasa kingdom up to the 13th century, has reminiscences of the Dimasa kingdom scattered around it. Therefore, the state government’s decision to rename Dimapur is also likely to evoke strong protests from the Dimasa community. The government argues that the name “Dimapur” did not originate from any Naga language and hence it needed a Naga name. The Kachari Tribal Council has warned the state government that it would oppose such a move tooth and nail, stating that the Kacharis have been kept in dark about the proposed renaming of Dimapur,. They said that renaming of Dimapur would tantamount to erasing the history of the Kacharis. Among the Naga tribes, the Angamis claim Dimapur as theirs, though mostly the Sumi Nagas inhabit in and around Dimapur. The Nagaland government has already started renaming colonies, wards and villages in and around Dimapur which have non-Naga names. The government however got the backing of the Naga Hoho. In such circumstances, whether the government succeeds in its move to rename Dimapur or not will remain to be seen in the near future.


With all supply lines of essential goods and lifesaving drugs cut off for over 38 days, Manipur literally becomes a state under siege. Most vehicles have stay off the road due to unavailability of petrol and diesel, hospitals, both govt. as well as private are shutting down due to lack of oxygen and other lifesaving drugs. Clearly the impact of the 38-days old economic blockade on the two national highways into Manipur is huge with people getting desperate. Despite the hardships of the 38-days old economic blockade, people of Manipur, both in the hills as well as in the valley are in protest and counter protest mode. One group is protesting against the state government decision to ban NSNC-IM General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah’s visit into Manipur while a larger chunk of population is hailing the government’s decision and are protesting against the center’s arrogance of giving permission to Muivah to visit the State without consulting the state government. While the protest both in the hills and plains go on, huge hardship is being faced by the people of Manipur with chronic shortage of essential good, lifesaving drugs and so on. Appealing to Manipur government to make available petrol and diesel to school buses and school vans, the All Manipur Students’ Guardian Organization said the students are not going to their schools due to the unavailability of fuel. The Parent’s organization also expressed its sorrow over the May 6 Mao incident where two students were killed and observed one-minute silence to mourn the deaths. The parents also appealed to the ANSAM and other civil societies to call off the economic blockade that still lay the state under siege.

Tension runs high in Langpi, Assam, Meghalaya ministers hold meet

Tension is running high in disputed Langpi area of Assam-Meghalaya border since Friday after four Khasi people from Meghalaya were killed by bullets of Assam Police in an unfortunate incident. Meanwhile, ministers of Assam and Meghalaya visited the area on Saturday and appealed to the people of both sides of the border to maintain calm. They also held a meeting at Langpi and discussed the situation. Tension is simmering in Langpi area of Assam-Meghalaya border since Friday after four Khasi people from Meghalaya were killed in clash with Assam Police there. In the unfortunate incident, at least nine civilians and seven Assam Police personnel were injured. Amidst the tension, Assam minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman and Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma visited the area and met the villagers. Meghalaya home minister HDR Lyngdoh also visited the area. In order to resolve the issue, the two sides announced that a joint meeting at the chief ministers’ level will be held shortly. On the other hand, the Meghalaya home minister assured to announce a probe into the incident. It is to be mentioned that Meghalaya chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma had hinted the involvement of a third force behind the incident.


At least 17 people were killed in clashes between police and Red Shirt protesters in Thailand on Saturday. Tensions still running high Saturday, with protesters yelling and screaming as they stood behind barricades of tires, spikes and bamboo poles. The Thai capital has become an urban fortress under siege and beset by gunfire, tear gas and stone-throwing that boiled over after Thai authorities set a new deadline to seal off the Bangkok intersection where protesters have gathered by the thousands for the past month. Thai troops are clashing with anti-government protesters in the capital Bangkok; on a third day of violence that has killed at least 17 people. Plumes of smoke are rising from sections of the city Centre, where the protesters, who want the prime minister to resign, are barricaded in a camp. Some 150 people have been injured since violence broke out in the Thai capital on Thursday evening. Troops have set up roadblocks to prevent further protesters from entering the camp. On Friday, troops fired live rounds, tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with the protesters, who threw petrol bombs and stones at the soldiers. Violence escalated on Thursday after a renegade general who supports the protests was shot in the head by an unknown gunman. Explosions and sporadic gunfire can be heard around the protest site in central Bangkok despite the fact that the government says the situation is under control. Barricades of types are still burning. In some places police and telephone boxes have been attacked. But in other areas the protestors are camped outside smart hotels and shopping centers where no damage has been done. Some parts of the city center look like a day old-war zone with small groups of protestors still harassing troops. Authorities have ruled out negotiations with the red-shirt protesters. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged both protesters and the authorities to avoid further violence. His office said he "strongly encourages them to urgently return to dialogue in order to de-escalate the situation and resolve matters peacefully". The US has also urged restraint and encouraged the two sides "to find a way to work peacefully through these differences". The Thai government says the situation is under control and insists its soldiers have only fired in self-defense. The Bangkok authorities have cut off water and electricity to the camp in a renewed effort by the government to reclaim the city Centre after a two-month stand-off. Around a third of the city is now under emergency rule, but while there are pockets of fighting in that area, life beyond the barricades seems to be going on as normal, correspondents say. The protesters want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Most Delhi petrol pumps shut, dealers on strike

Nearly all petrol pumps in Delhi shut shop today to protest the increase in VAT on diesel that has made the fuel costlier in the national capital compared to neighbouring Haryana, the pump dealers union claimed."Out of 410 petrol pumps in Delhi, only 18 outlets owned and operated by oil companies are functioning. The rest shut operations for 24 hours at 0600 hours today," Delhi and NCR Petrol Dealers Association President Ajay Bansal said.An Indian Oil official said eight company owned and company operated outlets of BPCL and five each of IOC and HPCL were operating.After the day long token protest today, the pump dealers said they will shut shop every Monday till their demand for lowering VAT on diesel is met and even threatened to go on an indefinite strike."Sale is drying up as differential in diesel price in Delhi and Haryana is almost Rs 4 per litre. We (union) are under pressure from dealers to go on an indefinite strike and we will have to consider this option if our demands are not met," he said. In June 2008, Haryana reduced VAT on diesel to 8.8 per cent from 12 per cent, thereby making it cheaper than Delhi where VAT on fuel was 12.5 per cent."From 13.5 crore litres a month, the sales of diesel in Delhi came down to 8.5 crore litres a month (loss of 37 per cent)," he said.Already "bleeding" dealers were further dealt a body blow when the Delhi Government from April 1 raised VAT on diesel to 20 per cent."This has resulted in a difference of almost Rs 4 per litre in the price of diesel between Delhi and Haryana," Bansal said.Delhi is bordered on all sides, but East, by Haryana.The increase in VAT has made diesel in Delhi more expensive than even Uttar Pradesh, which is east of Delhi. Large number of vehicles coming into the national capital from Haryana or UP daily prefer refueling outside."Due to this price differential, we expect a further drop in sale from the present 8.5 crore litre per month to three crore litre per month (total loss of 80 per cent)," he said."As a result the state is going to suffer heavy revenue losses to the tune of Rs 325 crore per annum."The Association claimed that the differential price would also encourage smuggling and black marketing of cheaper low grade diesel into Delhi which from April 1 has moved to Euro-IV compliant fuel."The unviable petrol dealers will have to resort to cost cutting for survival," the union said, listing steps like reducing manpower and reduced working hours.

Suspicious Indian sews up wife’s genitals with iron wires

A villager in eastern India sewed up his wife’s private parts with iron wire after getting suspicious that her wife has illicit relationship with someone, police said today.Police said Sannimar Munda of coalfield areas in Dhanbad from Jharkhand state, 288 km south of Bihar capital of Patna, suddenly lost his temper when his wife asked to visit her parents’ house on Tuesday.“In a fit of anger, the man branded his wife with a hot iron rod and stitched up her private parts with iron wires”, the Dhanbad district superintendent of police Suman Gupta said today.Police said the victim has been been admitted to a local Pataliputra Medical College and Hospital where her condition is stated to be very critical.“The next 24 hours is very critical since there are chances of her getting infected with tetanus”, a doctor who did the operation said today.

Centre fails to resolve Muivah-Manipur row

The Centre’s attempt to resolve the conflict between the Manipur government led by Okram Ibobi Singh and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) has come a cropper with both sides sticking to their guns.The crisis arose from NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah’s desire to visit his ancestral village Somdal (in Manipur) after 40 years.The Union Ministry of Home Affairs sanctioned the visit but Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh of the Congress stonewalled it, saying Muivah was a fugitive as the ceasefire with the NSCN-IM (since July 1997) was not applicable in Manipur.In a bid to sort out the problem, the Centre on Tuesday rushed Home Secretary G.K. Pillai to Manipur and Nagaland. Pillai met Singh and the NSCN-IM leadership separately but failed to break the ice.“We communicated to Pillai that we can’t allow Muivah to enter the state unless the NSCN-IM drops the Greater Nagalim demand,” spokesperson for Manipur N. Biren said.Greater Nagalim is the NSCN-IM’s concept of a unified Naga homeland comprising Naga-inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Myanmar, besides Nagaland.On Wednesday, Pillai met Muivah and other NSCN-IM leaders in Nagaland but the insurgents asserted that Muivah would go ahead with his visit to his native village.“The Government of India seems to be unable to take a stand. They will say something here and something else there. We’re very disappointed,” V.S. Atem of NSCN-IM said.In Imphal, the blockade imposed by Naga students’ associations saw hundreds of vehicles jamming traffic for hours as they queued up at petrol pumps. The price of petrol in the black market rose to Rs 150 per litre and diesel to Rs 110 while a filled LPG cylinder was being sold for Rs 2,000.Worried over the developments, PM Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and others in the core group took stock of the situation.

Tourism Master Plan for NE being prepared

A Tourism Master Plan for North-East is being prepared by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) which will study in depth the vast tourism potential of the region which needs to be developed."As envisaged in Vision 2020 North Eastern Region document, the region needs to brand itself and the tag-line 'paradise unexplored' will be promoted as NE tourism brand under North East Tourism Master Plan," an official statement in Shillong said.The target of the plan will be to contribute tourism to the economy of the region with the development of hotels and restaurants, transport and handicrafts.In view of India's "Look East" policy, the region has the potential to break out of its landlocked borders and engage in cultural, economic and tourism cooperation with its international neighbours, the statement said.A request for proposal for Master Plan was floated inviting bids for Engagement of Consultants for its preparation. It was evaluated by Technical Evaluation Committee and Financial Evaluation Committee of DoNER and finally the contract was awarded to Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Mumbai.The report is expected to be ready by December 2010.

Manipur seeks Mizoram's help to carry goods

The Manipur government on Thursday sought the help of Mizoram to transport essential commodities through its territory following a blockade of a key highway by Naga students."The Manipur government will made arrangements to import goods and essential commodities from other parts of India using the Silchar-Aizawl-Sinzawl-Churachandpur-Imphal surface route until the current situation is contained," a Mizoram government official told reporters.The official said that senior officials of two states earlier talked over phone to finalise the arrangement.Landlocked Manipur continues to reel under an acute shortage of food and other essentials following the indefinite economic blockade enforced by Naga tribal groups since May 6.The Nagas are protesting against the Manipur government's decision not to allow National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) leader T. Muivah to visit his birthplace in Manipur.The Manipur government has banned the entry of Muivah, saying the visit could lead to ethnic unrest in the state.The 75-year-old Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur, was born in Somdal village in Ukhrul district, 100 km north of Imphal, and last visited his birthplace in 1960.Hundreds of trucks carrying essentials and medicines have been stranded in Nagaland with protestors laying siege on National Highway 39, the lifeline of Manipur.

Five militants killed in Manipur encouner

At least five militants were killed in a fierce encounter with Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur's Chandel district, according to first official reports in Imphal today.Reports said heavy exchange of fire between unknown militants and Assam Rifles personnel of 21st battalion took place at Khambithel area last night in interior hill district of Chandel which borders Myanmar.Five militants were killed, reports said adding that the incident occurred when the para-military forces were patrolling the area.The identities of the militants were unknown, reports said.Extra police from the district headquarters of Chandel town have rushed to the spot. The police sources said it would take time to get details because the area was located in an interior hill area.

Cameron takes over as Britain's new PM

David Cameron, the youthful leader who modernized the party of right-wing icon Margaret Thatcher, became prime minister Tuesday after the resignation of Gordon Brown — capping a gripping election saga that returns the Tories to government after 13 years of Labour Party rule. New British Prime Minister David Cameron is beginning to shape his government, after the Conservatives agreed to form a historic coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Cameron, 43, was installed as Prime Minister on a dramatic day on Tuesday. Following tradition, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Cameron at Buckingham Palace — a stately denouement to a behind-the-scenes dogfight between Cameron and Brown for the cooperation of Britain's third-place party, after an election that left no party with a majority. Within minutes, Cameron was installed at No. 10 Downing Street, becoming the youngest prime minister in almost 200 years, since Lord Liverpool took office at age 42. An announcement followed that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg would become deputy prime minister — a rarely awarded and prestigious post — after days of hard bargaining with his former political rivals. Four other Liberal Democrats also received Cabinet posts. Cameron and Clegg agreed to form a coalition after Cameron's Conservative Party won the most seats in Britain's May 6 national election, but fell short of winning a majority of seats in Parliament. Less than 90 minutes earlier, an emotional Brown made a brief farewell address outside 10 Downing St., speaking in strained tones as he wished Cameron well. The 59-year-old Brown then walked hand-in-hand with his wife, Sarah, and young sons John and Fraser down Downing Street, where a car waited to take him to the palace for a 15-minute meeting. Clegg announced early Wednesday his party's agreement into entering such a partnership. Clegg also sought to allay party members' concerns going into the arrangement. US President Barack Obama telephoned to congratulate Cameron and invited him to visit Washington this summer. Britain's new government could spell changing relationships with its foreign allies. Both Cameron and Clegg have signalled they favour looser ties to Washington than those held by Brown and his predecessor, Tony Blair. Cameron and Clegg back the Afghanistan mission but Cameron hopes to withdraw British troops within five years. Relations with European neighbors could also become problematic. Cameron's party is deeply skeptical over cooperation in Europe, and has withdrawn from an alliance with the parties of Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy. The coalition has already agreed on a five-year, fixed-term Parliament — the first time Britain has had the date of its next election decided in advance. Conservative and Liberal Democrat teams met for several hours Tuesday. Rank-and-file members of the two parties held separate talks in London late into the night and both approved the coalition deal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Plan panel approves Rs 2,500cr outlay for Arunachal in 2010-11

The Planning Commission today approved a Rs 2,500 crore plan outlay for Arunachal Pradesh in 2010-11, which includes special plan assistance of Rs 1,100 crore for projects of special interest to the state.The annual plan of the state was finalised here after a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, an official statement said.During the meeting, commenting on the plan performance of the state, Ahluwalia said, "The geographical position of the state warrants focused attention on development of infrastructure, including road connectivity."He said the state should make full use of the initiative, aimed at improving infrastructure in general and road connectivity in particular.Ahluwalia said that plan realisation of the state was satisfactory and appreciated achievements in the social sector despite constraints.The state was advised to closely monitor progress on ongoing power projects, as their completion could help the state generate additional revenue and improve economic activities.Attention was also drawn to the widening literacy gap between the rural and urban population and human resource constraints in healthcare.The state government was asked to accelerate implementation of citizen-centric services across the state in a time-bound manner so as to take full advantage of core infrastructure established under the national e-governance programme.Briefing the commission on the performance of the state, the Chief Minister said, "The efforts are on to tap hydro power potential and plans are afoot to fully realise potential of 58,000 MW by the year 2021-22."Khandu said, "The number of domestic tourists have grown by over four times, while foreign tourists by about 12 times, over the last five years."He said the absence of an airport was coming in the way of full utilisation of the state's tourism potential.


The Mao Gate unprovoked shooting has given rise to another era of crisis in Manipur, a state which is plagued round the year by blockades, strikes and violence. Even as the Ibobi government has failed to bring law and order under control, the issue arising out of Muivah visit has given another reason for people to suffer the impacts that come with agitation.The recent Mao gate incident in which Naga supporters were killed and many injured has led to an adverse outcome in Manipur, as various Naga bodies and residents along the NH-39 has resorted to blocking of the route at many places making it virtually inaccessible. The highway from which most of the essential items are being brought into the state has been completely blocked leading to scarcity of essential items and intense price hike while various items like lifesaving drugs and petroleum products are running out of stock. On the other hand people who are to cross Nagaland to reach Assam and other states through NH-39 are stranded in the state and are facing hardships. The blockade at National Highway which was earlier called by various Naga bodies protesting the state government decision to hold ADC election in hill districts has got fresh impetus with the Mao gate incident. Apart from normal life being hit by the blockade, the artificial price rise has hit not only the common people but has kept many shopkeepers worried. The Manipur government is well aware of the impact of its ban on Muivah’s entry. The state government is contemplating to use the National Highway-53 to bring goods to the state via Jiribam route from Assam as an alternative means. Talking exclusively to NETV, the spokesperson of SPF government, N. Biren revealed that the state government had already approach the central forces for aid and other necessary steps in this regard. Two highways of the state, NH-39 and NH-53 are the lifelines of the people of Manipur. On the other hand the NH-39 which crosses Nagaland is the most preferred route and the recent total blockade of the NH-39 has made it insecure for people of Manipur to communicate through this route.


Even as the Naga integration issue has been rake up, Manipur has erupted in protest against the visit of Thuingaleng Muivah. Strongly contending that there should be no compromise on the issue of the territorial integrity of the state and the visit of the general secretary of the NSCN (IM), Th. Muivah in the state might pose a serious threat to the existing territorial integrity of the state, various civil society groups led by women organizations held protest demonstrations in various parts of the valley district of the state. Protestors like the Ibobi government have been apprehensive of law and order problem once Muivah steps onto the soil of Manipur. Banners and placards denounced the proposed visit of Th. Muivah. They further demanded that the seven Naga MLAs who resigned in connection with the issue should be detained under NSA for favoring militants.Meanwhile simultaneously there were protests against the continued violence in Manipur by armed miscreants. A dharna was held against the firing incident in Imphal West.


Hundreds of trucks carrying essential commodities to Manipur have been stranded at Khatkhati area in Karbi Anglong district of Assam near Dimapur in Nagaland following an indefinite road blockade imposed by the Naga Students federation in protest against the unprovoked firing on Naga supporters Last Thursday by Manipur police commandoes. For three days the highways linking Nagaland and Manipur have remained inaccessible due to blockade by Naga organizations to protest the Mao Gate firing incident. The strike has resulted in untold miseries to the people of Manipur as the state is running short of essential commodities. The indefinite road blockade programme has been launched by the Naga Stsudents Federation(NSF) following the killing of three Naga students at Mao Gate, the entry point to Manipur. Manipur security forces while had fired upon Naga demonstrators in a bid to prevent the entry of NSCN(IM) Genereal Secretary Th. Muivah into the state. It may be mentioned that the top Naga rebel leader has been camping at Vishema village bordering Manipur to visit his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district after a gap of forty years. Although the centre has given clearance to Muivah to visit his native village, the Manipur government has defied the centre's permission to the Naga rebel and is determined to prevent his entry at any cost as Ibobi feels that Muivah's visit may create serious law and order problem resulting in enmity between the Nagas and the Meities.

BCCI to construct stadium in Shillong

Cricket is still in its infancy in Meghalaya as the lack of a proper cricket stadium in the state has upset the State cricket association for long. Despite the fact that the Board of Cricket Control in India is ready to invest crores of rupees to build up stadium in Meghalaya, the State cricket association is still helpless, thanks to the casual attitude of the state government. Over the past decade, many of India's star players have emerged from the cricketing hinterland but ironically, nobody from the North east region has donned India colours in any version of the game till date. After granting its affiliation to the various Cricket associations in region, BCCI has categorically stated that if the govt can come forward or the MCA can get a relatively flat ground of 18 to 20 acres immediately the BCCI is ready to invest Rs 40 to 50 crore and build Stadium with modern state of the art facilities. However, the state authorities have made unheard the repeated appeal of the Association to give them land. While the state Government often crumbles upon on their stability issue the scope for development has become limited these days. In such case such a big offer from BCCI is bound to go unheard. However, Meghalaya cricket association has repeatedly urged upon the state authorities to give them the unused lands which are lying vacant in the town but to add to the woes of MCA no helping hand has till date come forward. This has become an important issue for MCA as the BCCI is all set to Organise a weeklong camp in Shillong from the 17th of this month to scout for and nurture talent from the Northeast. Barring Assam and Tripura, who are full members of the BCCI, five players each from Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland will be attending the Shillong camp to be conducted by National Cricket Academy. The idea of the apex cricket body is to initiate activities at regular intervals, primarily to encourage more boys and girls, umpires and scorers to get involved with a platform to harness their talent in different aspects of the game.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Naga moms rally at Manipur border - On Mothers’ Day eve, women condole deaths and condemn firing at Mao; rights group lends voic

Khuzama (Nagaland), May 8: On the eve of Mothers’ Day, thousands of mothers from Nagaland gathered near Mao checkgate today to mourn the death of two Naga students and express solidarity with the women and children who were injured during the May 6 firing by Manipur police in Mao town in Senapati district. The solidarity rally, which was organised by Naga Mothers’ Association and supported by many Naga organisations, condemned the atrocities of Manipur police and denounced the violent activities of communities in Manipur Valley. It called for a halt to bloodshed and building peace among all communities. Members of Amnesty International who attended the rally condemned the atrocities of Manipur security forces on children and women and the use of brute force to contain people’s rights. Rosemary Dzivichu, an advisor to Naga Mothers’ Association, reiterated the association’s slogan “shed no more blood” while addressing the gathering. She said in any conflict women and children were the victims and called for a complete halt to violence against them. Khesheli Chishi, a former president of and now advisor to the association, said Nagas did not want violence. She blamed the neighbouring communities of harbouring and fomenting violence in the region. “We don’t want killing,” she said, adding that Naga mothers understood that life was precious. She said as the world prepared to celebrate Mothers’ Day tomorrow, Naga mothers were mourning the deaths of and injury to their children. The bodies of the two students are still lying in police custody as people in and around Mao town have fled and curfew is enforced in the area. Many of the injured are in hospi- tal. She condemned the action of Manipur police, which had rendered hundreds homeless as they had to flee to Nagaland to escape the security forces. “We treat Meiteis as our brothers and sisters and as one family. We want Nagas and Meiteis to live together,” she said, adding that Meiteis considered Nagas as their enemies. “Why are you so much against us when we want to live in peace?” she asked. However, at the same time, she stressed that Nagas would not compromise on their rights. They would remain one wherever they were and no force could disintegrate them. Venuh, the convenor of Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, said women had contributed a lot as the Nagas journeyed through a political upheaval but the men had failed to protect them from the atrocities committed by Indian security forces. He apologised to Naga women for the troubles they had faced. Referring to the Manipur government’s decision not to allow NSCN (I-M) general secretary Th. Muivah to enter Manipur, he said, “Who are they to stop one from going to his village?” Muivah had planned to visit his native village, Somdal, in Ukhrul district on May 3 and then on May 6. He, however, deferred it once on the Centre’s request and then on the Naga organisations’ plea that he postpone his trip till a more congenial atmosphere prevailed. Venuh said Nagas had been suppressed for too long and whatever violence had taken place in Naga society was mostly unleashed by the state. “We want to live in peace. Whether Meitei people want to live in peace as good neighbours is their choice.” He called upon the Nagas to work for peace and unity. The president of Naga Students’ Federation, Mutsikoye Chakhesang, termed the Okram Ibobi Singh government as a “terrorist government” and called upon the Nagas to remain united to face any challenge from people who did not want peace..

Mao Gate incident, anti-ADC poll protests plunges Manipur into crisis

The state is beginning to face various forms of hardships following the tense situation prevailing in the state due to the prolonged economic blockade called by the All Naga Students Union of Manipur, ANSAM and All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur on both the National Highways of the state including the NH-39 and NH-53 in connection with the state government decision to hold the ADC election in spite of strong oppositions from tribal bodies. The recent incident occurred at Mao has also led to complete road blockade along the route of NH-39 by agitators further making the most important highway of the state virtually inaccessible. Amidst the scarcity of various essential items in the state, fast depleting of Oxygen stock has led hospital to suspend providing crucial services to patients while exhaustion of petroleum products has forced transports organizations to suspend bus services in the state. With the fast depletion of stock of Oxygen in various hospital of the state due to the blockade at both the National Highways of the state, the hospitals has decided to suspend to provide various crucial service to the patients, Addressing media persons, the CMD of Shija Hospital which is the biggest private hospital and the only hospital where highly critical cases are being referred from other hospital, observed that the hospital is not in a position to take in new emergency patients requiring Intensive Care Unit and general anesthesia due to limited reserved Oxygen. The current Oxygen reserve of the hospital will be used exclusively for the currently admitted ICU patients and may reportedly last for only two weeks. Citing that the present grave political and social situation might not be settled in another 10 days, the CMD Dr. Palin further requested patient parties of ICU patients to find alternative treatment elsewhere. Unfortunately, other hospitals in the state including the RIMS, JN hospitals and other private hospitals are reportedly facing similar problems. The CMD also disclosed that the hospital might be closed down entirely as fuel in the hospital is running low hampering smooth functioning of hospital while the hospital has also stopped its ambulance service. The blockade at both the national highways which is considered the lifeline of the state is also severely impacting the transport service as the fuel stock in the service is about to run out of stock. Apart from closing of petrol pumps, fuel are also fast running out at black markets while few black marketers are doing brisk business with selling of petrol at a price of Rs 140 to Rs 160 per liter and HSD or Diesel for Rs 85 to Rs 100. In the present situation, the All Manipur Bus Owners Association has observed that the Association is compelled to suspend all bus services from May 10 in the state if the state government does not take up some immediate positive necessary arrangement in the interest of public passengers within May 9. Addressing a press meet, representatives of the Association also appeal to both the agitators on National Highway and state government to reach to an amicable solution considering the inconvenience of the people. The representatives of the Association has also reportedly sent memorandum to the chief minister and concerned minister in this regard. It may be mention that the Shija hospital is the largest consumer of medical gases and the hospital has been treating highly critical patients like head injuries, strokes, poly trauma, GI bleeding while 70% of the mass causalities like ISCKON bomb blast and Ragailong bomb blast were treated at the hospital. The closure of the hospital might prove to be a serious setback to the state. On the other hand, the suspension of bus service as resolved by the All Manipur Bus Owners Association will severely affect the transportation of passenger in the state.

Nagas take to protest in Delhi, Northeast against unprovoked firing at Mao Gate; Ibobi role condemned

Two days after he deferred Manipur visit, NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah has managed to rake up what the Manipur government has been fearing, the Naga integration issue. There are widespread protests in various parts of the northeast, and also in Delhi from various Naga organizations against the unprovoked firing on innocent and democratic procession at Mao Gate. The Nagas have demanded justice into the Mao Gate incident. Manipur government has given a walk over to NSCN-IM leadership by killing three Nagas in Mao Gate on Thursday. The killing has given teeth to the NSCN to raise their demand for unification of Naga dominated areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Myanmar. Notably, Manipur’s Ukhrul and Senapati districts have been a matter of dispute between NSCN-IM and Manipur government over a decade after the militant outfit included the two districts in the map of Greater Nagalim. The unification of Naga dominated areas was one of the core issues of the NSCN-IM in the peace talks with Delhi. NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah’s decision to visit his ancestral Somdal village in Ukhrul district was also an attempt to claim over the land of the two districts. However, he had to defer his visit at the intervention of Delhi at the eleventh hour. But the Mao Gate incident will be a flush point for the outfit as many Naga individuals and organizations joined in protest against Manipur government for the killing. There are protests in Nagalnd, Meghalaya and Assam against police action on innocent Nagas in Mao Gate. In the capital city Guwahati also, the Naga Students Union Guwahati took out a silent procession to register their protest. Although Muivah had to defer his visit, Manipur government will be in trouble for the Mao Gate incident as many organizations are mobilizing opinion against it. The NSUG which led Saturday’s silent procession demanded justice into the killing. Leaders of the student body felt every citizen has the right to go to any part of the country. They also criticized Manipur government for disallowing Muivah’s visit which had been approved by Delhi. The protesters had to confine their procession at Dispur after the police and the district administration obstructed them from proceeding to Manipur Bhavan. The student body has also susbmitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh through Kamrup Metro DC Pratik Hajela seeking justice into the killing. The NSUG also submitted another memorandum to Manipur chief minister O. Ibobi singh through resident commissioner in Guwahati demanding a probe into it. Saturday’s protest shows that the NSCN-IM leadership was able to create a mass opinion against Okram Ibobi Singh government in Manipur for the Mao Gate incident.

Naga students protest firing, demand PR in Manipur

Protesting the unprovoked firing on supporters of NSCN-IM general secretary T Muivah at Mao, hundreds of Naga students in Shillong today demanded a judicial probe into the incident and imposition of President’s Rule in Manipur where the “security machinery has failed utterly.” People from the Naga community under the banner of Naga Students Union Shillong held a sit-in protest at Nagaland House here shouting slogans against Manipur government’s “highhandedness”. The unprovoked firing that leads to the killing of Naga people at Mao is unconstitutional and an act of highhandedness and the culprits should be brought to book and a judicial probe instituted into the incident demanded the Naga community people in Shillong. They also demanded a neutral force should be brought in the Senapati district of ManipurAlleging atrocities on Naga residents by security forces in Senapati district, Xavier claimed that seven Naga people were killed in the firing two days back and over hundred were injured. Present on the occasion Prof. Prasenjit Biswas of North easter hill university said Muivah cannot be barred from returning to his homeland, the peace talk with the centre is going on well. The protesters displayed placards decrying the unprovoked firing by the Manipur Commandos and termed them Killing Machines. The supporters strongly denounced the role of the Ibobi government. In a memorandum to the President of India Pratibha Patil, the Naga students stated that political gimmick played by the Ibobi government over Muivah’s visit is the root cause of the prevailing turmoil. Nagas in Manipur are no longer secure as the government has failed to discharge its constitutional obligation. The union has demanded President’s Rule in Manipur.

Manipur Bhawans placed under strict security, after attack in Delhi

Fearing backlash in Assam, the Manipur Bhavan in Guwahati was placed under strict security a day after the Nagas attacked the Delhi based Manipur Bhavan as a fall–out of Mao gate killing. Manipur Bhawan located at Rajgarh Road in Guwahati is wearing a deserted look. Authorities and employees have fled the building and closed down the shutters fearing attack by Naga agitators, similar to the Manipur Bhawan in New Delhi. In fact, situation would have been similar had not police stopped the Naga rally at Dispur. The Naga Students Union Guwahati unit had planned its rally upto the Manipur Bhawan to protest the unprovoked firing at the Mao Gate which killed at least three people. The NSUG had planned to submit a memorandum to Manipur Chief minister O Ibobi Singh through the resident commissioner. Even as the procession was obstructed at Dispur, a delegation of the student body was allowed to submit its memorandum to the resident commissioner. Meanwhile the city police have tightened security arrangements in the Manipur Bhavan fearing attacks by Nagas as a backlash of Mao Gate incident. Additional security personnel have been deployed at the Bhavan. Armed security personnel have also been placed at Rajgarh Road to thwart any attempt to storm into the Bhawan. Although police have ruled out Delhi like situation in Guwahati, they are not willing to take chances. Notably, the office of the resident commissioner was closed on the second Saturday of the month. However, other functioning at the Bhavan was also affected due to panic.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Trauma of Manipur violence victims

IMPHAL - Manipur has been affected by militant violence for a long time and the worst sufferers are the common people.Here is a family that was a victim of militant violence and see how they are coping with the loss of their loved one.The simple and happy life of the family of late Singam Premananda Singh, came to an end after his death.Premananda, the sole bread earner of the family was killed in an explosion engineered by a militant outfit at Pourabi Road in Manipur on 16th December 2007 along with six other people.Almost four years later, the dreadful incident still haunts his family.Premananda has left behind an aged mother, his wife and three children who live in the shadow of poverty.Ibemma, his wife,now weaves clothes and does other menial labour to keep the family afloat.“We are facing untold hardships after his death. I’m old and unable to work. Now, all the responsibility of the family has fallen on my daughter-in-law’s shoulder. No one is there to look after us,” said Thamchet Devi, mother of a victim.The Sstate Government gave Rs one lakh to assist the Singam family and promised to provide assistance in future as well.Still, Ibemma finds it difficult to make both ends meet and provide a future to her children.Sometimes, she finds it difficult juggling different roles, but she sees hope in her children’s eyes and is inspired to soldier on.“It is very difficult to manage and run the family all alone. I have to raise my children, take part in locality’s social services and earn money as well. Even leading a simple life is hard for us,” said Ibemma Devi, wife of a victim.Manipur has more than 30 militant groups and extortion, abductions and bomb attacks happen quite regularly in the state.“They (militants) must think about the consequences of their actions, which normally affect innocent people. People are suffering unnecessarily due to their mindless acts. We are against them,” Devi added.The story doesn’t end with the Singam family; there are several other families that have suffered a similar fate.Here are many families like that of Premananda who have been victims of militants’ activities in the state.People in the state live in fear that the same fate could befall hem at any time. (ANI)

We won't claim anything which belongs to Meiteis: Muivah

NSCN(I-M) leader Thuingaleng Muivah said his visit to Manipur, which has been banned by the state government fearing unrest, is not aimed at disturbing anyone and his outfit would not stake claim to anything that belongs to non-tribal Manipuris."The opposition to my visit by the Meiteis came as a surprise...The visit is for peace, to meet family and friends and not to disturb anyone...We will not claim anything which belongs to the Meiteis, let them have theirs, we will only have what is rightfully ours," the 75-year-old Naga leader told reporters at NSCN(I-M) headquarters in Dimapur late Tuesday night.NSCN-IM, one of the oldest and powerful rebel groups in northeast, is demanding greater Nagaland which it proposed to be formed by merging Naga populated areas of adjoining states with Nagaland, which has been rejected by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh governments.The rebel outfit, which is now holding fresh talks with the central government since March, had entered into a ceasefire agreement in August 1997.The Naga leader will depart for Ukhrul in Manipur on Wednesday from NSCN-IM headquarters Camp Hebron and stay at his native village Somdal till May 7. He will visit Ukhrul town on May 8 and return to Somdal to celebrate Mother's Day. On May 10, he is scheduled to visit the nearby Senapati district before returning to Dimapur.Muivah will be escorted by members of various Naga civil society organizations en route to his native village Somdal in Ukhrul district where large contingents of police personnel have been deployed and prohibitory orders clamped at Mao gate, the entry point to Manipur from Nagaland.The rebel leader, who is visiting Somdal after 47 years, hailed the Naga civil societies for their support."I must go there and no force can stop me. My parents had died waiting to meet their son," said an emotional Muivah, who recently arrived in Nagaland after holding second round of peace talks with the Centre.

Manipur tense over Muivah trip

The government on Tuesday stepped up security measures to prevent entry of NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah into the state, even as miscreants torched six Manipur-bound trucks.The Naga leader has decided to go ahead with his proposed visit to his village Somdal in Ukhrul district on Wednesday, defying a government ban.Late on Monday, around 15 people set goods-laden trucks on fire at the Manipur-Nagaland border.“It’s a miracle that we managed to escape from there,” said truck driver Heramot.His truck was among 300 that were safely brought back to Imphal on Tuesday morning.The incident took place in between Khuzama and Vishwema villages in Nagaland’s Kohima district, which borders Manipur’s Mao gate.Nagaland police said the trucks were stranded for the past two days since Manipur police were not allowing vehicles to cross over following strict prohibitory orders in bordering Senapati district to prevent Muivah from entering.An indefinite economic blockade imposed last month by the All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) has seen many Manipur-bound carriers stranded in Nagaland, along the National Highway (NH) 39.The ANSAM is demanding amendment of the until the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Third amendment) Act 2008.Muivah is likely to begin his journey from Dimapur with members of Naga civil society organisations as escorts for a safe transit. The organisations, on Monday, sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention into the ongoing impasse over their Muivah’s visit. The groups also issued an ultimatum asking the government to lift the ban on the Naga leader’s entry to the state.Muivah’s proposed visit to Manipur would be the first in four decades.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tiger Woods' 'black guy condom' pick up joke

New York, May 4 (ANI): Professional golfer Tiger Woods is said to have a joke that he has been using successfully as a pick-up line for at least a decade.Woods, 34, told the joke in 1997 in front of a GQ reporter, and even though he took flak for it then, he was still using it in 2006 when he hit on exotic dancer Cori Rist."What's this?" the New York Post quoted him as having asked while rubbing the tips of his shoes together."A black guy taking off his condom," he would reply.Rist, who became one of Woods' many mistresses, said he then invited her to come up to the apartment of a "superstar ball player", where he had a room. (ANI)

Indian prosecutors say hang convicted Mumbai gunman

The sole surviving gunman who attacked the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) in 2008 should be hanged, prosecutors say."It would be a mockery of justice if the death penalty is not imposed," chief prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, a Pakistani aged 22, was found guilty on Monday of charges including murder, waging war on India and possessing explosives.The attacks left 174 people - including nine other gunmen - dead and soured relations between India and Pakistan.India blames Pakistan-based militants Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attacks.After initial denials, Pakistan acknowledged that the attacks had been partially planned on its territory and that Qasab was one of its citizens.'Indian justice'On Tuesday Mr Nikkam, the public prosecutor, spent more than two hours arguing that Qasab should be given the death penalty, the BBC's Prachi Pinglay in court in Mumbai says. "He is an agent of the devil himself, a disgrace to society and the entire human race," Mr Nikkam said, the AFP news agency reports.He described Qasab as a "killing machine who has no human feeling" and said a life sentence would leave India "a soft target" for extremists.He said Qasab's crimes involved "focused, meticulous and detailed" planning to kill police officers and civilians.India's media hailed Monday's verdict as "honourable", and said the acquittal of two Indians accused of helping the gunmen proved police had made a "poor case" of it.The Hindu newspaper said that the judgement would "not grant closure" to survivors and families of victims of the attacks."This is because key conspirators, helped by a half-hearted investigation in Pakistan, are yet to face a court of law," the newspaper said.The paper said the verdict was a "tribute to the independence of the Indian judicial system and its ability to deliver justice dispassionately".According to the Times of India said that the verdict was "unlikely to be the end of the matter".The newspaper said prosecutors planned to challenge the acquittals and that Qasab's lawyer could also contest his client's conviction.Proceedings in the Mumbai trial have gone on for 14 months.Late last year, Pakistan charged seven people in connection with the attacks, including the suspected mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who is alleged to head Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Ceasefire with Nagaland militant outfit extended

The ceasefire agreement between the government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K) has been extended by another year, it was announced on Tuesday.The decision to extend the agreement with effect from April 28, 2010 was taken Monday evening at a meeting with home ministry officials and NSCN-K representatives, an official statement in New Delhi said. Active in the eastern parts of Nagaland, besides the Tirap and Changlang districts of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, the Khaplang outfit aims at establishing a 'Greater Nagaland' comprising the Naga dominated areas of neighbouring states within India and contiguous areas in Myanmar. The outfit has largely observed a truce with security personnel since 1998.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Renault & Bajaj to roll out car cheaper than Nano

New Delhi, May 3: In a bid to destroy Tata Nano's stronghold in the Indian markets as the cheapest car, French auto major Renault and Bajaj Auto are set to roll out a car with a price tag of around Rs 1.10 lakh (USD 2,500).“In India, Renaultand Nissan are developing an ultra low cost vehicle with the Bajaj group, benefiting from its expertise in the light vehicles and the knowledge of the Indian market. We are aiming for a price of USD 2,500,” Renault President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said at the Annual General Meeting of the company on Friday, Apr 30.Bajaj Auto Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj affirmed that this was the price agreed on by both the companies.With this, the speculations on the pricing of the Ultra Low Cost (ULC) car comes to an end.It was reported earlier that the pricing factor is the what was leading to the delay in the project.The project was announced in 2008 and the car was, initially, scheduled to enter the markets in 2010. The launch of the car has been postponed to 2012.

Manipur not to allow Naga leader Muivah's visit

The Manipur government has decided not to allow Naga leader Thuingaleng Muivah's visit to the state fearing ethnic trouble in the northeastern state, police said in Imphal on Sunday."In view of the state government's decision, we would not allow him (Muivah) to visit the state," Manipur Director General of Police Y. Joykumar Singh said. Muivah, the general secretary of the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), proposed to visit his home place at Somdal village in northern Manipur's Ukhrul district May 3-10. He was scheduled to attend a public reception May 8 at Ukhrul district headquarters. The 75-year-old Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur, was born in interior Somdal village, 100 km north of capital Imphal in Ukhrul district and had last visited his birth place in 1960. "His (Muivah) visit might escalate further ethnic troubles in the mixed populated areas adjacent to Nagaland," the state police chief said. The DGP admitted that the union home ministry earlier asked him to arrange security for the NSCN (IM) general secretary's Manipur visit. The Manipur cabinet chaired by Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh, however, decided not to allow the NSCN (IM) leader to visit the state's northern areas. "We have also communicated the government's decision to the prime minister and the union home Minister," Manipur Sports and Youth Affairs Minister and government spokesman N. Biren told reporters Saturday night. Manipur's seven Naga legislators have in a statement welcomed Muivah's visit to the state. It was not known so far if in view of the Manipur government's decision Muivah would call off the visit. The NSCN-IM, one of the oldest and most powerful of the about 30 rebel groups in India's northeast, earlier fought for an independent homeland for the Nagas. The demand was scaled down to a Greater Nagaland, which the NSCN(-M) proposed to be formed by merging Naga populated areas of adjoining states with Nagaland. The governments of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh have rejected the demand for unification of Naga areas. The central government too has rejected the demand. The NSCN (IM), which is now holding fresh talks with the central government since March, entered into a ceasefire in August 1997.