Friday, January 25, 2013

Insulted' by Mamata, artist to quit panels

Kolkata, Jan 24: Taking Mamata Banerjee's remarks against him as an affront, a leading painter who stood by her side during her campaign to oust the erstwhile Left Front government in West Bengal said he would quit two key panels including the state Fine Arts Board of which he is the chairman.
Days after Banerjee questioned his role in bringing a political change in the state, Samir Aich said he would also put in his papers as the member of a Kolkata Municipal Corporation expert committee. The chief minister attacked the painter, who recently criticised her government on several issues, at a public rally in Canning in South 24 Parganas district earlier this week.
"Samir Aich had walked in a procession for us. I respect him for that. But just because he walked in a procession, he does not become a Trinamool Congress man. He was never in the Trinamool Congress. So why does he claim himself to be a Trinamool man? Please don't do it.
"I know why he is criticising us now. He is now talking at the behest of the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) which spearheads the opposition Left Front)," Banerjee said. 
Aich said Banerjee's comments "insulted" him.
"I don't want to respond to her comments and tell her how many rallies I participated in to bring the political change. I don't need a certificate from her, as I don't have any intention to seek a job. Yes, I feel insulted. So I have decided to quit the two committees," Aich said.
Aich had been one of the prominent faces among intellectuals to support Banerjee's cause since she led the movements in Singur and Nandigram opposing the then Left Front government's move to acquire farmland for setting up industrial projects in 2006-2007.
He participated in her rallies and protests, and became one of the most vocal critics of the Left Front regime in television debates.
However, he fell out with the Banerjee dispensation after he participated in a candlelight vigil over the suicide of a muslim social activist Aminul Islam, whom police allegedly framed in a false case after he helped a raped minor girl lodge a complaint against a local strongman.
Aich also slammed the government over an attack on CPI-M leader and former minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah by Trinamool activists led by former legislator Arabul Islam.
Aich is the latest among a number of intellectuals distancing themselves from the Trinamool regime since it came to power in the state in 2011.
Educationist Sunanda Sanyal, writers Tilottama Majumdar and Suchitra Bhattacharya -- who had also backed Banerjee during the final years of her fight in unseating the Left Front -- have also been sharply critical of her administration.

Supreme Court gives Salman Khan relief

New Delhi, Jan 24: Bollywood star Salman Khan will not face trial in the 1998 blackbuck hunting case in Rajasthan on charges of rioting but under the Wildlife Protection Act, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
salman khan
An apex court bench headed by Justice P. Sathasivam declined to accept the Rajasthan government's plea that film star Salman Khan and four others should also be tried for rioting under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
The blackbuck shooting case dates back to 1998 during the shooting of the film "Hum Saath Saath Hain".
The state government had come to the apex court challenging the Rajasthan High Court order by which it has authorised a lower court to withdraw charges of rioting against Salman Khan and four others.
A complaint was filed against Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam, Tabu and Sonali Bendre on charges of being involved in hunting of protected blackbucks. 
The actors were accused of poaching two blackbucks in Kankani village near Jodhpur in October 1998.

President greets nation on Milad-un-Nabi


New Delhi, Jan 24: President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday greeted the nation on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi, being celebrated Friday, and said people should be inspired by Prophet Mohammad's message of universal brotherhood and compassion.

"May the message of universal brotherhood, compassion, tolerance and service to humanity preached by the Holy Prophet guide and inspire us all to live a righteous and productive life," the president said in his message, according to a statement.

ATTF chief remanded to 7 days police custody

Agartala: Chief of the outlawed All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) Ranjit Debbarma, was today remanded to seven days police custody. 
Debbarma, who was arrested from Mohanpur area, about 20 km from here yesterday, was shifted to the Special Branch custody of the police. 
The ATTF supremo had been remanded to a day's judicial custody by a second class judge yesterday as it was a holiday because of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birth anniversary. 
When he was produced before chief judicial magistrate Biswajit Palit here today, he was remanded to police custody. 
On the way to the court Debbarma told reporters that his struggle for 'liberation of Tripura' would continue. 
He claimed he had been arrested by security forces from Dhaka's Mohammadpur locality on December 30, pushed back through Dawki border in Meghalaya on January 16 and was handed over to Tripura State Rifles (TSR) two days later. 
He said he launched a hunger strike in the custody of TSR on January 22 demanding his production in court following which they produced him before the court yesterday. 
Official sources said Debbarma lived in Dhaka and set up bases in Sylhet and Chittagong Hill Tract. He conducted many subversive activities in Tripura from there and was responsible for many killings, kidnaps, and extortions. 
According to intelligence sources, the insurgent leader had been in transport and garment business in Bangladesh and accumulated capital by collecting ransom from kidnapped persons and lived a lavish life. However, the insurgency was on the wane in the state following pressure by anti-insurgency operation by the Seikh Hasina Government in Bangladesh and due to counter insurgency measures and erection of barbed wire fencing. 
ATTF second in command Chitta Debbarma and many other leaders had surrendered. 
Set up in early '90s, ATTF was fighting a war against the state demanding, among others, deportation of people who entered Tripura after October 15, 1949 (the day Tripura joined Indian Union). 

Pawan Hans resumes helicopter services in Arunacha

Itanagar: Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) on Thursday resumed its passenger services between Guwahati and Naharlagun in land-locked Arunachal Pradesh, operations of which were suspended in May 2011 in the wake of the death of then Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu in a chopper crash. 
A brand new M-172 helicopter with seating capacity of 26 passengers was flagged off by Chief Minister Nabam Tuki at Naharlagun helipad here at a simple ceremony in presence of civil aviation department and PHHL officials besides, host of Ministers and MLAs. 
PHHL commercial helicopter services in the North-East have been suspended since May 2011 after the death of Khandu and four others in a chopper crash at Tawang on April 30, the same year. 
However, the service was resumed in Meghalaya in August 2012, after a gap of fifteen months. 
During June 2011, the Arunachal Pradesh government had introduced a 13-seater (VT-ALPHA Bell 412) chopper of Global Vectra to ferry passengers between Naharlagun and Guwahati for four days in a week. 
However, the service failed to cater to the need of the increasing passenger demand as most of the time the chopper was requisitioned for VIP duties. 
"During 2012 the chopper was requisitioned for passenger service to Roing, Dambuk, Anini and Pasighat for five months when road communication to these places were snapped," SK Parida, Base Manager (Operation) of civil aviation department informed. 
After the state government signed a MoU with PHHL on January 15, the company on wet lease positioned the helicopter here on January 18. 
The chief minister accompanied by Rajya Sabha member Mukut Mithi and Parliamentary Secretary (Tourism) PD Sona had along with officials inspected the chopper yesterday and gave the go-ahead signal to resume the service. 

Manipur insurgent organisations call for R-Day boycott

Imphal: Major insurgent organisations, including the United National Liberation Front, have called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations in Manipur. 
In separate statements today, the organisations said people should not take part in the celebrations and remain indoors to protest the 'forcible merger' of Manipur with the Indian union in 1949. 
Security measures have been tightened particularly in the four valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishenpur and Thoubal, official sources said.
Meanwhile, a powerful bomb was defused yesterday after it was found at Narainsena in Bishenpur district. 

Northeast separatists call for Republic Day boycott

Imphal: A massive security alert was sounded across the northeast on Tuesday after separatist rebels announced a boycott of the January 26 Republic Day celebrations, an official said. 


"We have placed security forces on high alert to thwart rebels from disrupting the Republic Day celebrations," Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast) in the Home Ministry, told a news agency on Tuesday. 


Five frontline separatist groups in the region have called a boycott of the Republic Day and also a general strike from 1 am to 5.30 pm that day as a mark of resistance against what it termed as "Indian occupation of the region". 

The call has been given by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the National Liberation Front of TWIPRA (NLFT), the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF) and Coordination Committee (CorCom) - an umbrella of seven major separatist outfits - fighting for an independent state for the majority Metei community in Manipur. 


These groups are active in Assam, Manipur and Tripura. 


The five rebel groups announced their boycott on Monday through a joint statement e-mailed to several media houses. 


"There is a clear image of Indian colonial racism manifested in the suppression of human rights under martial and Draconian law such as the Armed Forces Special Power's Act (AFSPA), 1958 and other forms of suspension of fundamental rights," the statement said. 


"Extra judicial killings, inhuman torture, fake encounter and sexual harassment in the region are routinely carried out to suppress the freedom struggle of our indigenous people.” 


"Freedom and independence is the only solution for the conflict as the region can never be a part of the Indian mainstream.” 


"India's Republic Day is nothing but bowing to country's perpetual slavery system when people are standing on the line of survival or extinction and it is becoming an urgency of paramount importance to free the region from this colonial rule," the statement stated. 


Separatists rebel groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi's rule over the region, and have staged violent attacks in the run up to the celebrations to make their presence felt. 


"We are on full alert and shall see to it that we are able to foil any attempts by rebels to attack," an Assam Rifles official said. 


Thousands of Army, police and paramilitary troopers are standing guard in other northeastern states to ensure that militants are not able to create violence ahead of the Republic Day celebrations, particularly in Manipur. 


"We are not taking chances. The police across Manipur have been put on high alert and we are bent on thwarting any subversive activity by the militants," Imphal district police chief Konsam Jayanta Singh told a news agency. 


Rebel groups often target vital installations like road and rail bridges, oil installations, and security forces as part of their design. 



SC raps CBI for unwillingness to share info on coalgate probe

New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) The CBI today came under sharp criticism of the Supreme Court for not wanting to share details of its probe in the multi-crore coal block allocation scam with the apex judicial body.


Fame came to me much later: John Abraham

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) John Abraham's hunky looks have made more news than the roles he has played onscreen and the former model feels that's the reason he did not get the fame he deserved as an actor.

We've always wanted to come to India: Anthrax bandmember

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) American rock band Anthrax is the last of the "big four" of thrash metal to be coming to India.

Its bass guitarist Frank Bello says though they have been willing to perform in India for years, they got an opportunity only now.

Irregularities in coal blocks allocation: CBI tells SC

New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Investigations in the coal block allocations have established irregularities by government authorities in allocation of the natural resources and around 300 companies are under its scanner, the CBI today told Supreme Court.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the agency said that it is taking up the probe against each and every company which has been allocated coal block since 1993 and "in particular during the period 2006 to 2008.

India to continue to push for Headley extradition

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) India today said it will continue to press for extradition of David Headley from the US after the Pakistani-American LeT terrorist escaped death penalty for helping plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and sentenced to 35 years in jail by an American Court.


External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the Government was "slightly disappointed" over the quantum of sentence, saying the 52-year-old convict should have got a "severest sentence".