Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mumbai: CID probe ordered in Faiz Usmani's death

Mumbai: Faiz Usmani, the brother of Ahmedabad blast suspect Afzal Usmani, died after being questioned by the Mumbai Crime Branch late Saturday night. The provisional post mortem report says that he died of a heart attack. A CID probe has been ordered into the death, after Usmani's family members alleged he died of police torture.
"I want justice. Strict action should be taken and the guilty should be punished," said Faiz' wife, Zubeida Usmani.
Angry family members crowded outside Sion Hospital, protesting the death of Faiz. It is reported that he fell ill during the questioning and was admitted to the hospital. He allegedly died of brain haemorrhage later in the night.
Faiz Usmani's son said, "We found out that he was vomiting, so the police admitted him to the hospital and left. They didn't tell us anything about what happened."
Faiz' family say that he was healthy when he left the house and are questioning the way the police treated him.
"I don't know what kind of questioning the police conducted that my husband fell so ill. When he left the house he was completely healthy and had no health problems," said Zubeida.
While Usmani's family claims he was in perfect health when the police picked him up for questioning, initial medical reports show he was suffering from hypertension and high blood pressure. The Mumbai police insists he was not tortured.
Nisar Tamboli, Mumbai Police Spokesperson, said, "There was no case of torture. Let me make it clear - Faiz was not detained by us. He came to the police station on his own, started feeling giddy and suffocated, reported it to the policemen around who took him to the hospital."
A state CID probe has been ordered into the death. Faiz was questioned as part of a citywide combing operation by Mumbai police after Wednesday's serial blasts.
Sources in the investigating team indicate that their probe will not be affected by Faiz Usmani's death. But, as a plethora of investigative agencies come under severe pressure to come up with answers in the Mumbai serial blasts case, this death has only complicated matters by throwing up more questions.

Climate change a major challenge to India''s agriculture, says PM

New Delhi, July 16 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Saturday said that climate change has emerged as a major challenge to India''s agriculture.

Addressing the 83rd foundation day of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) here, Dr. Singh said: "The immediate problems that our farmers face relate to intra-seasonal variability of rainfall, extreme events and unseasonal rains. These aberrations cause heavy losses to our crops every year. There is therefore an urgent necessity for us to speed up our efforts to evolve climate-resilient crop varieties, cropping patterns and management practices."

He further said he is happy that the ICAR is implementing a major scheme, the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture and has set up the state-of-the-art National Institute on Abiotic Stress Management.

"The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, which is one of the eight Missions under our National Action Plan on Climate Change also seeks to devise appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for ensuring food security, enhancing livelihood opportunities and contributing to economic stability at the national level," a PIB release quoted Dr. Singh, as saying.

Emphasizing that our government, in the last seven years has taken several new initiatives in the agricultural sector, Dr. Singh said: " Many of these initiatives have shown encouraging results. But we need to build upon this achievement in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan."

"The Twelfth Plan must ensure further progress in areas of achievement and also remove the deficiencies in areas where our achievements have fallen short of expectations or objective potential of our economy," he added.

Urging scientists, technologists, and extension experts to share their experiences and personal assessments of these new initiatives, Dr. Singh said: " I urged them to share their experiences with the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture so that the Twelfth Five-Year Plan can tackle the many new challenges that have emerged in the last few years." (ANI)

PM calls for second green revolution to achieve self-sufficiency in food

New Delhi, July 16 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Saturday emphasised that the country needs a second green revolution to further accelerate agricultural growth and achieve self-sufficiency in food.

Addressing the 83rd foundation day of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) here, Dr. Singh said: "We clearly need a second green revolution that is more broad-based, more inclusive and more sustainable; we need to produce more without depleting our natural resources any further, and we look towards our agricultural scientists for ushering this green revolution."

"We all look back proudly to our green revolution, which helped us overcome food shortages and banish the specter of starvation, or living from ship to mouth. But, today we find that the regions of the country which witnessed the green revolution are suffering from problems of environmental degradation," a PIB release quoted Dr. Singh, as saying.

"In many other regions of the country, particularly in eastern India, yields continue to be much lower than what is attainable. More generally, it should concern us that productivity in Indian agriculture has plateaued over the years," he added.

Emphasising that India currently spends about 0.6 per cent of its agricultural GDP on agricultural research and development, Dr. Singh said: "This needs to be enhanced at least 2 to 3 times by 2020, since a substantial portion of our agricultural growth would come through the application of new technologies and new knowledge to production processes."

"But spending more on research is not enough unless this improves the quality of human resources in all areas of agriculture," he added.

The Prime Minister further said the total demand for foodgrains of the country is projected to touch 281 MT by 2020-21.

"The inclusive strategies of development that we are pursuing should further increase the incomes of the poorer sections of our society. This will further increase demand for foodgrains but also fruits, vegetables and animal products. The total demand for foodgrains is projected to touch 280 million tonnes by the year 2020-21," he said

"Meeting this demand will necessitate a growth rate of nearly 2 per cent per annum in foodgrain production," he added. (ANI)

Friday, July 15, 2011


In a move to energise the liberation movement for Manipur, United Front of the armed organisations operating in Manipur, seven militant organisations have joined hands under one roof. In a move to give a boost to the liberation movement in Manipur, seven prominent underground organisations have decided to join hands 'to regain the lost sovereignty of Manipur. A joint email statement of these underground groups said, leaders of KCP, KYKL, UNLF, RPF, PREPAK, PREPAK (PRO) and UPPK had a very high level conclave where it had formed a 'co-ordinating committee' of the seven organizations and elected RPF president Irengbam Chaoren as the committees convenor.According to the statement, India has been ceaselessly exerting its maximum effort in imposing its grip in the region and hence the need to fight together against the former has become a matter of necessity. It said the co-ordination committee will work out modalities for the seven underground organisations of Manipur to work together. The statement further said that the coming together of these militant groups was the result of the general public pressure who have been asking the outfits to fight under the same roof. Finally, the statement said that unity is courage. Unity is strength and appealed to the people for supporting the liberation movement. The signatories of the joint statement include N.Oken, general secretary of KYKL, Irengbam Chaoren (president of RPF), L. Paliba (chairman of PREPAK-PRO), Lanngamba Luwang (chairman of UPPK), N Nongdrenkhomba (chairman of PREPAK), Kh Pambei (Acting chairman of UNLF), Ksh Laba Meitei (president of KCP). The statement covers four slogan-“Unity is Strength”, “Unity is courage”, “Let the Freedom Movement Comes to Light” and “People of the Land stand victorious”


With the objective of amplifying the voices of people living with HIV/AIDS in Manipur, a round table conference organized by the World Vision along with victims of HIV/AIDS was held on Wednesday at Imphal. The HIV/AIDS victims charged the government of of neglecting the welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS in Manipur. Manipur, which has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in India has more than 40,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. They face the constant problems of frequent stock out of ART, non-availability of proper testing and treatment facilities, lack of support for women and children affected with HIV/AIDS, lack of means to tackle co-infection of Hepatitis C with HIV/AIDS and so on. With the objective of highlighting the apathy from the government, a round table conference organized by the World Vision along with PLHIV of Manipur was held on Wednesday in which grievances of the PLHIVs in Manipur were highlighted. One of the urgent issue that was highlighted was the lack of interest shown by the Central and Manipur government shown towards children and women living with HIV/AIDS in Manipur. At the conference, the long pending of the HIV and AIDS Bill was also criticized while urging for its immediate passing in the Indian Parliament. At the conference held to amplify the voices of PLHIV, various problems faced by PLHIV were highlighted. While highlighting the immense hardships faced by PLHIV in Manipur, the conference called for appropriate steps from the government on the frequent stock out of ART medicine in various ART administering centre in Manipur while urging for the immediate removal of 2nd Line ART treatment eligibility procedure from Control of State AIDS Clinical Expert Panel. It may be mentioned that Manipur is experiencing a rapid rise in PLHIVs from poorer section of society dying from Hepatitis C which is mainly due to the absence of testing facilities and non providence of cheaper treatment facilities. Another major concerned is the administration of lethal drugs like Stavudine and Tenofovir by the state run ART centres in Manipur despite the WHO banning the concerned drugs a long time back.


In the wake of recent allegations of the Manipur government of inducing shortage and price rise of fertilizers by farmers, the Agriculture Minister has clarified its stand. The minister attributed this scarcity to the unavailability of Manipur’s quota of fertilizer due to failure of the Namrup fertilizer plant. Due to the non-availability of subsidized fertilizers and sky high prices of fertilizers in the market, farmers in Manipur are going through immense difficulties in sowing paddy despite favorable rainfall and timing. It has been alleged that the current difficulties by farmers are a creation of the Manipur government along with their dealers who are selling off subsidized fertilizers to unauthorized agents who are selling fertilizers at very high price to the farmers. On Wednesday, the Agriculture Minister of Manipur has clarified that the prevailing fertilizer crisis was not created by the state government or its dealers but it is an outcome of the breakdown of Namrup fertilizer plant in Assam where Manipur government gets the major chunk of its allotted fertilizer. Speaking to NeTV, Agriculture Minister, Ph Parijat also informed that the government has already taken steps to check the prevailing price rise within the next 4 days while assuring that dealer and agents will be dealt according to law if found selling fertilizer at high price. According to the agriculture Minister, every necessary step are being taken by the state government to check the scarcity of fertilizers and its price while assuring fertilizers will be made available to farmers at the earliest. Ph Parijat further informed that the Union Government has sent extra fertilizers in the wake of shortage of fertilizer which will be reaching Manipur within the next 2 days.At the moment, farmers in Manipur are buying a bag of urea at a rate of Rs 1400 onwards which is normally sold within Rs 520 per bag. The distribution of subsidized fertilizers to the farmers has long been stopped for which the dealers have claimed supply shortage while the market is flooded with fertilizer, however, at a very high price.


After days of uncertainty and fear of a major law and order breakdown in the three districts of Garo Hills following opposition to the proposed civic polls, the Meghalaya Government has halted the entire election process calling for a “reschedule” of the polls while a visibly elated Joint Action Committee of Garo NGOs has withdrawn their weeklong stir that was suppose to begin from Friday morning onwards.
Under pressure from student and social organizations who had announced a week-long shutdown, Meghalaya government today deferred the municipal elections, slated for next month. This is the third time in a year that the government has been forced to defer the municipal elections which were to be the first civic polls since Meghalaya attained statehood. The protesting organizations contend that the election to municipalities will lead to erosion of powers of the traditional bodies like the tribal village chiefs. Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh on Wednesday held a series of meetings at Tura with elected representatives, political parties, the protesting organizations before reviewing the law and order scenario in the three districts of Garo hills with senior officials of the administration. After the meetings, the government decided to defer the election apprehending law and order problems due to the protests. The Urban Minister was accompanied by her colleague, Home Minister H D R Lyngdoh, and C&RD Minister Saleng A Sangma. Prior to the decision to halt the scheduled elections, the ministerial delegation held a series of meetings with the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police from the three districts of Garo Hills to ascertain the ground situation. It was only after the delegation was briefed on the impending problems in the run up to the polls that the government felt it necessary to ‘reschedule’ the elections to the four municipalities. The organisations included the Garo Students Union, All India Garo Union, Federation of Khasi and Jaintia, Garo People and other like-minded NGOs. The Joint Action Committee, a conglomerate of social and student organizations, had called for a seven-day shutdown in the three districts of Garo hills from July 15. The government had earlier notified the polls to the Baghmara Municipal Board and Williamnagar Municipal Board in Garo hills for August 6 and 15 respectively. The Gauhati High Court had directed the state government to hold the municipal elections in the state before September. The state government had earlier made two attempts to hold the first ever civic polls in the state in the four municipalities of Garo hills but had to abandon its plans after the election authorities were compelled to postpone the polls twice in two months since September last year in the wake of large scale violent protests. Ever since statehood in 1972, Meghalaya has never conducted civic polls and nominated administrator of the State Government governs the Municipality Boards.

Monday, July 11, 2011


In an attempt to reach out to young voters in Manipur prior to the upcoming Manipur Assembly election scheduled in February next, the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur has opened a facebook account to entertain enquiries and complains from voters in Manipur. The opening of the facebook account was a part of the mass campaign of the election office to reach out to voters and educate them about the electoral process. As part of the mass campaign adopted by the Election department of Manipur to encourage more electorates’ participation, the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur has opened a facebook account. The facebook account under the user ID Ceo was opened by the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur at a simple function on Monday held at the CEO office in Imphal. Opening the facebook account at, the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur, PC Lawmkunga informed that the facebook account will be used as an interactive forum with young voters and educate them of the electoral process by putting up easy to learn materials on enrolment in photo electoral rolls, electors photo identity card, use of EVMs. Monday’s facebook account opening is said to a part of an endeavor from the election department of Manipur called Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) which is aimed at inducing more voters’ participation and to educate voters about electoral process. Apart from social networking, the Election department will also be launching a call centre for addressing and redressing voter’s queries and grievances. On the otherhand, SVEEP which consist of a series of programs including, public rally, seminars and panel discussions will soon be implemented in various parts of Manipur in view of boosting voters’ cast in the upcoming February 2012 Assembly poll.


With a view to highlight the horrors of the AFSPA, the 7th Death Anniversary of Thangjam Manorama Devi was held on Monday which also demanded the complete repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power act from Manipur and other parts of India. Thangjam Manorama Devi, who was raped and killed by a troop of 17th Assam Rifles on 11 July 2004, was remembered at her 7th Death Anniversary function organized by Thangjam Manorama Memorial Trust alongwith the Apunba Lup, held on Monday. At the function held at Bamongampu under Imphal West district of Manipur, the atrocities and crimes committed by the security forces under the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 were highlighted and condemned. While strongly condemning the GOI for imposing the draconian AFSPA in Manipur despite recommendation from the Jeevan Reddy Commission for the repeal of AFSPA, the Manorama Memorial Trusts has demanded the complete repeal of AFSPA from Manipur and elsewhere in India. As part of the function, a floral tribute was paid to Thangjam Manorama Devi by those who attended including Manorama’s family members. Speaking to NETV, Manorama’s mother said only the complete removal of AFSPA from Manipur will do justice for the brutal murder of her daughter. It may be mentioned that Thangjam Manorama Devi who was an alleged PLA cadre was picked up from her resident at Bamongampu under Imphal east district on the night of 10 July, 2004 by troop of 17 Assam Rifles, the next morning her death body which was badly mutilated was recovered. The incident caused a mass public outcry and intense agitations demanding justice for the raping and killing Manorama Devi by security personnel. Later, a judicial inquiry commission to the killing of Manorama headed by retd Supreme Court Judge, Jeevan Reddy recommended that AFSPA be removed from Manipur but no response came from both the GOI and Government of Manipur.


Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who also holds the finance portfolio, today presented a populist Budget with several new schemes and tax proposals. As he announced earlier, the chief minister waived off a tax of Rs 14 on LPG cylinders to give the much needed respite to the common men. His Rs 1542.71 cr deficit Budget also proposed to hike taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. Keeping the Congress manifesto promises, Gogoi made several new announcements for welfare of the people. In keeping with his pre-election promises, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday presented a populist budget with no new tax proposals on essential items. Gogoi presented the Budget soon after the Question Hour on the first day of the 10-day Budget session. Presenting the Rs 1542.71 crore deficit budget for the next 8 months, Gogoi spoke about the improvement of the state’s financial position. He announced a slew of new schemes for the welfare of various communities. In his Budget, the chief minister, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced to set up Assam Employment Generation Corporation to facilitate self-employment of educated unemployed and a Skill Development Initiative Society to assist vocational training providers and new it is in all uncovered blocks. His budget also has a proposal to set up an Assam State Civil Supplies Corporation. Gogoi said that the government will replace APL/BPL cards by bio-metric ration cards. The govt also has a proposal for Reticulated LPG gas bank in all multistoried apartments in Guwahati. On the internal security, he said that 12 new police stations and 10 Out Posts will be opened in the next year besides opening a Counter-insurgency Jungle Warfare school, 15 Fire stations and one regional forensic laboratory. The Budget also proposes to install CCTVs in jails. It also proposes to formulate a State Litigation Policy. For the welfare of the Scheduled Caste people, an SC Devp Council will be set up while a separate directorate for OBC will also be created. The CM also announced a special package for the Barak Valley. Bringing good news for those seeking to open a career in teaching, the Budge announced to recruit 40,000 teachers on both regular and contractual basis. However, the govt said that no further provincialisation of schools would be done. It also made it clear that Plus 2 will be delinked from colleges from next academic year. There are also proposals for opening of 12 new Govt colleges, 21 new polytechnics and upgrading the Cotton College to a non-affiliated University. For the Sportspersons, there are good news. The scholarship for young players has been enhanced while a State Youth Development Council will be set up. The Govt also announced to give preference to NCC and Scout&Guide cadets in govt jobs. Under the 13th Planning Commission, Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for Majuli Sattra preservation. The CM announced to set up a State central library in Guwahati. The artist and literary pension have also been increased. Ion the health sector, the Budget proposed to create an Assam Arogya Nidhi with 6 cr Corpus fund for poor patients. Beside, it proposed Rs 22 cr for upgrading Kamrup Civil to super speciality hospital and opening of a special care home for HIV children and a new Medical College at Nagaon in PPP mode. The Budget also announced a new AYUSH directorate, an Assam Medical Development Corporation to streamline construction, maintenance, procurement and distribution activities and upgrading MMC hospital to Associate Hospital of Srimanta Sankardeva University, Gogoi, who hasd given women and child welfare top priority in his last term, continued to do so in the Budget too. He announced to open a Women Entrepreneur Development Council for empowering women, opening Women’s Club in each block, Women Development authority to monitor and guide women empowerment programmes, Child Development Council and state commission for children, and a new programme Sabala for empowering adolescent girls. He also announced to hike the salary of anganwadi workers. A Senior Citizens Council was also announced. To boost the agriculture sector, he announced a Farmers Council and an Agricultural Commission to advise govt on appropriate technology and other technical issues. He announced Land Reclamation Project to be launched at Dibrugarh, Sibsagar and Guwahati. As he announced two days ago, the CM also proposed a Water Commission to advise govt on management of water resources. He announced Bypasses in Silchar, Tinsukia, Chabua, Makum and N Lakhimpur and an alternate route to Silchar from Guwahati. Mentioning about the power crisis, he said that presently, the state has only 800 MW against a peak hour demand of 1100 MW. He hoped that with the commissioning of some new projects, the scenario will improve soon. Gogoi said that the state would get 208 MW from Lower Subansiri Hydel Project once it is commissioned. To meet the power shortage, he announced to start construction of Lowr Kopilii Hydel Project. In the industry sector, he announced to open Tea Park, Jute Park, Banan park, Textile Park, Food Processing farm, Pharmaceutical Hub, Agri Hub, Agri processing zone and chemical zone. To expedite the Gas Cracker Project, the govt also proposes to release Rs 20 crore to it. The chief minister also has proposals for science and technology sector too. He announced to open a Science and Technology University in the state and a Science City in Guwahati. On the transport sector, he announced that CNG taxis will start operation in Guwahati soon. He also announced to construct Assam Bhawans at Bangalore, Kolkata, Vellore and Chennai while renovate and expand the existing Assam Bhawans at Shillong, Delhi and Mumbai. Meanwhile, to counter the negative publicity by the private TV channels, the government proposed to launch a state-run Cable/Satelite TV channel and Community Radio besides opening a Mass Communication and Printing Institute. In order to face and emergency situation during natural disasters, an Earthquake Risk Mitigation Centre under NIDM will also be opened in the state. Under fire for its land policy, the government announced to set up a Rehabilitation authority for rehabilitation of erosion-hit families also setting up a Land bank for preservation of future use of govt land. The government made several tax proposals in the budget. The most important was the proposal to waive off Rs 14 cess on LPG cylinders. The step was taken to provide relief to the common people aftr the recent hike of LPG cylinder price by Rs 50. The Budget also announced to increase the rate of VAT on tobacco and tobacco products and alcohol products. The number of new proposals decreased compared to the previous budgets as a means to reduce the deficit amount.