No link between Bhopal gas leak and Planning Commission loan request: Froman

New Delhi, Aug.20 (ANI): US Deputy National Security Advisor Mike Froman has said he has never established a link between the Bhopal gas leak issue and India”s request for loan help from the World Bank through an e-mail communication with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

“With regard to recent reports about my private correspondence with Ahluwalia, I want to make clear that I was not making any link between what are two separate and distinct issues nor issuing a ”threat” of any sort – any assertion to the contrary is absolutely wrong, both in intent and in fact,” he said in a statement released by the US Embassy here last night.

According to a US Embassy releas, Froman”s statement comes in the backdrop of a controversy kicked off by his email to Ahluwalia in which he had written that “voices” regarding American company Dow Chemicals could have a “chilling” impact on the investment relations.

“I am dismayed to think that anything I wrote could be interpreted as minimising the toll of the Bhopal disaster. The human suffering as a result of Bhopal is a terrible tragedy. Resolving the Bhopal issue is for the Indian people to decide. The US does not seek to interfere in this process,” Froman said.

“I value the opportunity I have to work with Ahluwalia and others in India to strengthen and deepen the ties between our two countries, both bilaterally and through the G20. Such efforts are key to building our strategic partnership and facing our common challenges together for the benefit of both our peoples,” the embassy statement quoted Froman, as saying. (ANI)

Amarnath pilgrims worship Holy Mace in Srinagar

Melbourne, Aug 19 (ANI): A woman in Australia stripped naked in front of dozens of people having breakfast at a popular Darwin restaurant after she and another woman had a full-on fist fight over a man.

Eyewitness Fernando Dentes, 34, said he saw two women arguing near the Cool Spot entrance before one of them was pushed to the ground.

“The two ladies were arguing about the fella they were there with,” News.com.au quoted him as saying.

“It was pretty verbal. One had the other on the ground. She was pretty much just defending herself and then she was lifting up her shirt and showing her breasts.

“She took off her clothes and then she walked to the median strip lid a cigarette and laid down.

“The customers weren’t terribly impressed. They were more concerned for the kids. They rushed them inside.

“That was just a shocker. People were trying to eat,” he added.

Dentes, who was the shift manager at the restaurant at the time, said that staff had alerted police after customers complained about the striptease.

Police said a 39-year-old woman had to be picked up from the median strip on Dick Ward Drive after she bared all in front of the Cool Spot Cafe in Fannie Bay. (ANI)

Amarnath pilgrims worship Holy Mace in Srinagar

Srinagar, Aug 19 (ANI): Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir prayed before ”Charri Mubarak” (the Holy Mace of Lord Shiva) at the Shanakaracharya Temple here on Thursday.

Mahant Deependra Giri, the head priest of the Shankaracharya Temple, performed the rituals amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.

�Today is 19th the day of ”Dashmi” and on 21st the second day will rest in Chandanwadi and after that on the third day, early morning we will move from Chandanwadi and then will rest in Sheshnag and the fourth day we will stay at Panchtarni and ”Chadi Mumbark” will be taken to the cave on ”Sharavan Purinam” which is on August 24 and will pray there,� said Mahant Dependra Giri.

Giri said prayers would be performed for peace and brotherhood in Kashmir during the Muslim holy month.

�This is very good thing that this month is of Ramzan and we are starting the yatra and though the situation in the region is not good, we will pray to god, looking the current situation of the region, we will perform special prayers,� said Giri.

The annual pilgrimage that started in June will come to an end on the full moon day in the third week of August, when the main rituals will be held inside the cave shrine.

After this, the rituals at Amarnath, the ”Chhari Mubarak” will be brought back to the Shanakracharya Temple where it will remain till the pilgrimage next year. (ANI)

Amarnath pilgrims worship Holy Mace in Srinagar

By Bilal Bhat

Srinagar, Aug 19 (ANI): Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir prayed before ”Charri Mubarak” (the Holy Mace of Lord Shiva) at the Shanakaracharya Temple here on Thursday.

Mahant Deependra Giri, the head priest of the Shankaracharya Temple, performed the rituals amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.

�Today is 19th the day of ”Dashmi” and on 21st the second day will rest in Chandanwadi and after that on the third day, early morning we will move from Chandanwadi and then will rest in Sheshnag and the fourth day we will stay at Panchtarni and ”Chadi Mumbark” will be taken to the cave on ”Sharavan Purinam” which is on August 24 and will pray there,� said Mahant Dependra Giri.

Giri said prayers would be performed for peace and brotherhood in Kashmir during the Muslim holy month.

�This is very good thing that this month is of Ramzan and we are starting the yatra and though the situation in the region is not good, we will pray to god, looking the current situation of the region, we will perform special prayers,� said Giri.

The annual pilgrimage that started in June will come to an end on the full moon day in the third week of August, when the main rituals will be held inside the cave shrine.

After this, the rituals at Amarnath, the ”Chhari Mubarak” will be brought back to the Shanakracharya Temple where it will remain till the pilgrimage next year. (ANI)

Curfew continues in parts of Srinagar

By Parvez Butt

Srinagar, Aug 19 (ANI): The authorities imposed a curfew on Wednesday in many parts of the Valley to foil a march call given by the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Protesters raised anti-government and slogans for Azadi and demanded action against the security forces responsible for the death of civilians.

Meanwhile, shops and business establishments remained closed and the streets were deserted as curfew continued to affect normal life in several parts of valley region.

Security forces were seen patrolling the streets in and around Srinagar. (ANI)

Govt. taking all measures to ensure essential commodities in Manipur

New Delhi, Aug.19 (ANI): Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram on Thursday said that all measures were being taken to ensure that essential commodities were available in adequate quantities in all parts of Manipur.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha on the situation arising out of the economic blockade imposed by the Naga organisations on the National Highways Nos.39 and 53 in Manipur, the Home Minister said, “The Ministries concerned are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will take necessary steps to maintain adequate stocks of food grains, POL and other essential commodities in Manipur.”

Mr. Chidambarm informed the House that the Cabinet Secretary is regularly taking stock of the situation in the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries.

Stating that an inter-Ministerial team led by the Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs visited Assam and Manipur on July 30 and August 1, 2010 to ensure that adequate arrangements for smooth flow of food grains and petroleum products are put in place, Mr. Chidambaram said: “It was decided that trucks would be requisitioned by the State Governments and payments would be made by FCI at the rates fixed by the State Government concerned.”

He also informed that the arrangements for transportation of food grains through NH-39 and NH-53 under escort have become operational.

Stating that the transportation of food grains to Jiribam by Railways has also commenced, Mr. Chidambaram informed that considering that the condition of NH-53 which links Imphal to Silchar via Jiribam is poor, the stretches being single-laned and extremely prone to landslides, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been directed to take all measures to keep both NH-39 and NH-53 open for traffic so that transportation of essential commodities do not get disrupted.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made an additional provision of Rs.10 crore for the repairs of NH-53, he added.

The Minister also said that 71 tankers of POL, 207 tankers of Diesel, 10 tankers of Kerosene, 7 tankers of ATF, 78 bullets of LPG, 120 trucks of food grains, 14 trucks of medicine and 6 trucks of cement have reached Imphal through NH 39 under CRPF escort between August 4 to August 17, 2010.

Besides, 32 oil tankers, 20 trucks of food grains and 8 trucks of medicine are standing by near Kohima along NH 39 waiting for stretches affected by landslides and sinking of roads to be cleared, he added.

The Home Minister said: “In view of the improving stock position of POL products, State Government has revoked its earlier order of rationing of POL products and has permitted open sale of petrol and diesel through retail outlets/petrol pumps with effect from August 11, 2010.”

Mr. Chidambaram in an elaborate statement in Lok Sabha informed that the first phase of the economic blockade of National Highways No. 39 started from April 6, 2010 and of NH 53 from April 11, 2010 on the call of United Naga Council (UNC) and other Naga bodies of Manipur protesting against the holding of elections to the six Autonomous District Councils in the State of Manipur. Subsequently, other Naga groups joined the blockade.

“As movement along NH-39 was hampered, limited quantities of essential commodities, including petroleum products and food grains were transported through other routes. Indian Air Force airlifted 493 quintals of rice from Guwahati by 11 sorties in May 2010,” said Mr. Chidambaram and added: “ 42.8 MT of life saving drugs was airlifted by Logistic Post Cargo and IAF aircraft. 80 KL of POL products were also airlifted between May 21-22, 2010.”

He informed that since the Naga bodies had also declared blockade of NH-53, the State Government had initially arranged transportation of essential commodities, with assistance from Government of Mizoram, through the very long and circuitous NH-150, Silchar-Aizawl-Churachandpur-Imphal.

“The State Government started movement of essential commodities including rice and sugar through NH-53 since May 22, 2010,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

The leaders of the Nagaland Students Federation (NSF), after their meeting with the Union Home Minister and the Prime Minister, withdrew their agitation and lifted the blockade on June 15, 2010.

The Home Minister informed that the Central Government made available additional Coys of Central Para Military Forces to the State Governments of Manipur and Nagaland.

“The blockade was finally lifted on June 18, 2010,” he said.

Stating further, Mr. Chidambaram told the House that the shortage of essential commodities continued in Manipur due to the decision of the Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council, Manipur that they would not ply trucks/public carriers/oil tankers/buses and any public vehicles on NH-39 passing through the State of Nagaland, unless their pre-conditions were met.

The United Naga Council of Manipur (UNC) sent a memorandum dated July 27, 2010 seeking action on their demands failing which they would resume the blockade with effect from the first week of August 2010.

“Chief Minister, Manipur, organized a round table of talks with representatives of Naga bodies/academicians, etc for discussing the amendments to the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. The first round table was held on August 3, 2010 at Imphal and the second on August 7, 2010 at Senapati, in which representatives of the Central Government also participated,” he informed and added that the round table talks were, however, not attended by the representatives of the Nagas.

In view of the call for resumption of economic blockade, additional 12 coys of Central Para Military Forces were made available to the State Government of Manipur. In addition, 2 Coys of CRPF have been made available for escorting to and fro movement of trucks/tankers along NH-39 from Dimapur to Imphal. (ANI)

Five stone pelters injured as police fire rubber pallets in Kashmir

Srinagar, Aug.19 (ANI): Five persons were injured when police tried to disperse a stone-pelting mob here with tear gas shells and fired rubber pallets on Thursday afternoon in Seloo Sopore town of Kashmir.

The incident occurred when a big mob of miscreants pelted stones on security forces who were on patrolling duty at Seloo Sopore. The security forces exercised maximum restraint but the miscreants did not relent.

The security forces lobbed tear smoke shells but the intensity of the pelting did not recede. The security personnel then fired some non lethal rubber pallets.

The five injured named–Farooq Ahmed , Tausif Ahmed, Naveed ahmed,Tausif Ahemed Bhat and Tanveer Ahmed.

“Except for Farooq Ahmed all others have been discharged from the Sopore hospital after receiving first aid. However, Farooq

has been referred to Bone and Joints Hospital, Srinagar, an official release stated.

In another incident, some miscreants pelted stones on Karwan -e-Aman buses which were on way to Srinagar from Uri at

Sangrama.

Both the buses suffered damage. Meanwhile, pelting was on in Jinab Sahib Soura area in the late afternoon.

Three persons suffered injuries in the incident. (ANI)

Administration gears up for upcoming elections in Bihar

Patna, Aug 19 (ANI): Administration has geared up to conduct the ensuing polls to the state legislature as evident from the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) being checked at several polling stations amid tight security.

Following a directive issued by the Election Commission, concerned authorities have been operating several EVMs to test their accuracy.

In Patna, the Girls Higher Secondary School at Bankipur has been declared as the centre where the machines are being tested.

Speaking to media persons on Thursday Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Patna Anirudh Prasad, briefed the media persons about the proposed preparations.

�We have begun first level of checking for the 14 constituencies that we have been asked to prepare EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) for 4186 booths. 10 percent of the total� that means for example if we set up 30 EVMs in this hall, in that case 1000 votes will be cast on 3 EVMs. The print of that report will be sent to all the political parties, and when they are satisfied we will display a certificate signed by them. That”s what we have been ordered by the Election Commission,� said Prasad.

The EVM”s will be sealed once the political parties have signed the statement.

The preparations are in full flow amid very tight security.

Among the security measures are the installation of Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTV) at the polling booths. (ANI)

Municipal Corporation of Delhi launches sanitation drive

New Delhi, Aug 19 (ANI): The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched an extensive sanitation drive here on Thursday to control the outbreak of water-borne diseases.

Commissioner K.S. Mehra formally launched this programme from the New Delhi Railway Station.

The MCD workers sprayed insecticides on the railway tracks and cleaned the passages and drains between the railway tracks.

�We all are aware that the stagnant water bodies next to the railway tracks are inaccessible. So with this sanitation drive we will cover all the stagnant water bodies, so that the breeding of mosquitoes does not happen at such places. I would like to thank railways for this and it is a good initiative for our city,� said Mehra.

The dengue menace continues as the city reported 548 cases of dengue in 2007, 1,312 in 2008 and 1,153 in 2009. (ANI)

Three stone pelters injured, as mob attacks security bunker in Kashmir

Srinagar, Aug.19 (ANI): Three persons were injured in Jenab Sahib Soura area of Kashmir on Thursday when police resorted to use tear gas and baton charging to disperse a stone pelting group that attacked a bunker of security forces.

“The incident occurred at around 12.00 p.m. when a huge mob started pelting stones on a bunker of security forces. It

attacked the bunker from all sides to dismatle it forcibly,” said an official release.

Police and other security personnel used tear smoke and cane charge to disburse the mob. But it kept regrouping repeatedly

and continued heavy pelting.

Police later said that it fired in self defense. Some police and CRPF personnel also sustained injured.

Meanwhile, the three stone pelters have been shifted to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of medical sciences (SKIMS). (ANI)

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