Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Delhi rained out

New Delhi, Feb 5: Commuters in the national capital and its suburbs had a harrowing time Tuesday with several key roads waterlogged following heavy rains that saw the minimum temperature settling five notches above average at 13.5 degrees Celsius.

The weather department has forecast more rain and hailstorms later in the day.

"The sky would remain cloudy. There would be no change in the weather pattern till Wednesday. There will be rain, thunder squalls and hailstorms due to the western disturbance," an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told IANS.

The maximum temperature is expected to hover around the 19 degrees Celsius mark, the official added.

The overnight rains flooded roads leading to jams in several areas.

"We are continuously receiving calls regarding traffic jams from various parts of the city. There was water stagnation in Laxmi Nagar and Najafgarh. There were complaints from Mehrauli-Badarpur road as well," a traffic helpline official said.

Traffic snarls were reported from several areas, Dhaula Kuan, Nehru Place, Shakti Nagar, Rohini, ISBT Kashmere Gate and Vikas Marg near ITO.

Visibility at 8.30 a.m. was 800 metres and humidity 100 percent.

Monday's maximum and minimum temperatures were three notches below average at 24.2 and 11.7 degrees Celsius respectively.

Mizoram signs accord with militant outfit

Aizawl: The Mizoram government has signed a suspension of operations (SoO) agreement with the separatist outfit Hmar People's Convention-Democrats (HPC-D) for six months, an official said here Tuesday.

"The government officials and the leaders of the HPC-D signed the SoO last week in Aizawl and decided that the agreement would be effective for six months. The SoO could be extended if both sides agree," a Mizoram home department official told reporters.
"According to the pact, the HPC-D cadres would be allowed free movement anywhere in the state, without firearms and explosives.

"It was also decided that Mizoram police and paramilitary troopers would not launch any operation against the members of the outfit unless they defy SoO terms and conditions," the official said.

As per the deal, the HPC-D militants would not be allowed to indulge in illegal and violent activities in the state, including extortion and intimidation.

They would also not be permitted to do anything to prevent people from exercising their franchise.

"A seven-member joint committee comprising members from both sides led by superintendent of police (special branch) to monitor the execution of the SoO has also been formed," the official added.

Earlier, a similar SoO was signed between the Mizoram government and the outlawed outfit on Nov 11, 2010 in Aizawl, but the peace efforts fizzled out.

Based in Manipur, the HPC-D is a militant outfit operating mainly in Mizoram and neighbouring Manipur. It is an offshoot of the Hmar People's Convention, following discontent with the 1992 peace agreement.

The HPC-D has been demanding a separate Hmar Autonomous District Council comprising Hmar tribal-inhabited areas in the north and north-eastern parts of Mizoram.

The Hmar tribals live mostly in the mountains of south Manipur, parts of Mizoram, southern Assam and parts of Meghalaya and Tripura, besides the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of southeast Bangladesh.

In 1987, the Hmars launched an insurgent movement, and signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 1992. Around 375 cadres of the outfit surrendered that year in Aizawl.

A combined team of Delhi and Mizoram Police had arrested HPC-D self-styled Chairman H. Sangbera from Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in July last year.

Several of the outfit leaders were also arrested from Assam and different places of the northeastern region.


India must impose sanctions on Sri Lanka: TN Governor

Chennai, Feb 1: Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah Friday urged the Indian government to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka and take steps to ensure that those displayed by the ethnic conflict there returned to their original homes.

Delivering his address on the first day of the first assembly session of 2013, Rosaiah said: "I reiterate the resolve expressed by the Tamil Nadu assembly June 8, 2011 to urge the Indian government to initiate action by working with other nations for imposition of an economic embargo on the Sri Lankan Government till the Tamils living in camps are resettled in their own places and are allowed to live with dignity, self-respect and equal constitutional rights on par with the Sinhalese."

According to him, the rehabilitation measures taken by the Sri Lankan government were not at par with the expectations.

Referring to the attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan security forces, Rosaiah said: "The fishermen of Tamil Nadu, who earn their livelihood in their traditional fishing areas of the Palk Bay region, are victims of repeated harassment and murderous attacks by the Lankan Navy."

He said the Tamil Nadu government was anguished at the harassment of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy while the Indian government showed "utter disregard" to their woes.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has emerged as a trenchant critics of the Sri Lankan regime for among other things the mass killing of Tamil civilians in the ethnic conflict that ended in May 2009.

The Sri Lankan military, which vanquished the Tamil Tigers, has repeatedly denied the charge.

The Governor also voiced concern that Tamil Nadu's food production would be hit due to Karnataka's refusal to release Cauvery river waters.

Rosaiah said the farmers in Tamil Nadu had been affected. The farmers will be compensated as per the recommendations of the committee set up for this purpose.

He said the government would approach the Supreme Court seeking compensation for the crop loss from the Karnataka government.

Stressing that it would be difficult for the central government to implement the direct cash transfer scheme, Rosaiah said the scheme should be implemented through the state government.

With Kamal Haasan's mega "Vishwaroopam" courting controversies and the government imposing a 15-day ban on its release, Rosaiah urged film makers to show respect for sensibilities of people.

Rosaiah said the government would take "severe action" against those who try to whip up communal passion.

Earlier, legislators belonging to the DMK walked out citing power cuts and the Cauvery water issue.

Srinagar-Jammu highway closed following landslides

Srinagar, Feb 5: Following fresh snowfall and landslides at some places, the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.

An official of the border roads organization (BRO), which maintains the over 300-km long highway, said fresh snowfall occurred during Monday night in the Bannihal sector, while landslides hit the road at Panthal, Seri and Kela Morh areas.

"One of our boys was injured during the road clearance operations in Panthal area yesterday (Monday)," the official said.

"The operation has started again. If the weather permits, stranded vehicles would be allowed to move from Jammu to Srinagar."

The highway is the only surface link of the landlocked Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country. All essentials of life are routed through this highway.

Temporary closures of the highway especially during the winter months often shoot up prices of essential commodities as unscrupulous traders resort to hoarding and profiteering.

Manipur: Govt remains mute spectator to anti-AFSPA protests MANIPUR, Updated Feb 04, 2013 at 06:57pm IST

Imphal: In July 2004, a group of 12 women disrobed in front of the Kangla Fort in Imphal, holding up a banner that said, 'Indian Army Rape Us'. They were protesting against the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama allegedly by security forces. Manorama was picked up from her house on July 11 by Assam Rifles soldiers. Her dead body was later found with several bullet wounds, including on her genitalia.
Forensic tests detected semen and blood stains confirming rape. But no one has yet been convicted, even though Justice Upendra who conducted the government inquiry blamed the security forces. "I submitted all my findings... the security forces are responsible for the killings. There are only suspensions. Why shouldn't they be arrested and tried?" he asks.
Even today the Upendra Report on Manorama's killing remains sealed. Colin Gonsalves, the counsel for Manorama's family, says, "Neither the Prime Minister, nor the Home Minister, nor the Defence Minister has made the report public and told the women of Manipur what the findings of the commission, that was appointed by the government itself, are."
The 12 brave women whose shocking protest shook the country say such brazen rapes and assault on citizens in Manipur is due to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), section 4 of which allows the Army to shoot to kill while maintaining public order.
In the last 10 years, 20 instances of rape and sexual assault by security forces have been reported, but not a single conviction. "The AFSPA is directly responsible. Security forces feel they are gods in Manipur. They have absolute immunity," says Gonsalves.
Unfortunately people in Manipur have almost learnt to live with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. So be it the rape of Manorama Devi in 2004 or that of Miss Rose in 1974 or Mrs Ahanjobi in 1996, all protests in this heavily militarised state fade out in the end, and things continue to remain just the same, unchanged.