Elephants spread havoc in West Bengal’s Bankura District

By Ajitha Menon

Bankura (West Bengal), Sep. 9 (ANI): A herd of 90 elephants entered West Bengal’s Bankura District on Thursday, causing loss of life and property.

The elephants divided themselves into two groups and entered Beliatore and Sonamukhi blocks of the district. According to reports, one person died, four were injured and 50 huts were damaged.

Forest department officials said they knew the location of the elephants, but wanted to bring them to one place before driving them out.

“Elephants are staying at three places and we are trying to bring it in single place so that it will be easy for doing the driving operation. We already may plan to drive the elephants at the earliest so that we can get rid of this problem,” said S. Kulandidal the Divisional Forsest Officer (DFO) of Bankura North Division.

To control the elephant menace, a proposal for the rehabilitation of these elephants has been send to central government.

“We already sent a proposal to the Government of India through Government of West Bengal to capture these elephants and put them in rehabilitation center so that damage to life and property will be minimized,” said Kulandidal.

Experts claim that massive deforestation, poaching and people encroaching upon forest corridors have forced elephants to move out of their natural habitats in search of food and water elsewhere. (ANI)

Police arrest four Maoists in Bihar’s Lakhisarai District

By Ajay Jha

Lakhisarai (Bihar), Sep. 9 (ANI): Police have arrested four Maoists during a search operation in the Kajra forest of Bihar’s Lakhisarai District.

According to police, the arrested Maoists were involved in the August 29 Lakhisarai encounter with the police, in which seven policemen were killed and four others kidnapped.

Vinod Marande, Rajendra Hambram, Kapil Kora and Shatradhan Kora were arrested on Wednesday.

The Maoists are now in police custody. (ANI)

BJP”s Arjun Munda to take oath as Jharkhand CM on Sept. 11

Ranchi/New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP leader Arjun Munda will take oath as Jharkhand Chief Minister on September 11 along with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren”s son Hemant Soren and All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) leader Sudesh Mahato, who will be sworn in as Deputy Chief Ministers.

It has been reported that Jharkhand Governor MOH Farooq has invited Munda at around 11 a.m. on September 11, and has asked him to prove his majority in the assembly within seven days.

As per the fresh arrangement, the state will have two Chief Ministers and the BJP has also decided to keep the Speaker”s post for itself.

Earlier today, the Union Cabinet approved revocation of President”s Rule in Jharkhand.

The decision comes after the BJP staked a claim to form a government in Jharkhand with the support of the JMM.

Governor Farooq sent his report to the Centre on Tuesday, recommending revocation of Central rule in the state, hours after BJP legislative party leader Arjun Munda submitted a list of 45 legislators, four more than the number required to form government in the 81-member assembly.

The JMM-BJP coalition government plunged into a political crisis after the BJP withdrew support to government in the wake of Shibu Soren voting in favour of the UPA during the cut motion in parliament on April 27.

The BJP first announced it would immediately withdraw support from the JMM-led Government, which would have brought it down and effectively led to the imposition of President”s Rule or attempts by the Congress to form an alternative government.

However, by April 29 when the party received a letter from Hemant Soren, offering to support the BJP in leading the coalition, the withdrawal of support was “put on hold” and a dialogue was opened.

The JMM backtracked and demanded rotational power sharing with each party leading the government for 28 months.

This was agreed to by BJP on the understanding that Soren will quit as Chief Minister by May 25 after which Munda will head the new coalition government.

The JMM and the BJP have 18 MLAs each and the Soren Government has the support of two Janata Dal (United) legislators and five from the AJSU, besides two others in the 82-member Assembly.

The Congress has 14 MLAs, Jharkhand Vikas Manch (JVM) has 11 MLAs and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has five MLAs. (ANI)

Enough space for India, China to develop simultaneously: President Patil

By Praful Kumar Singh

On Board Air India One, Sep 9 (ANI): Giving a boost to India’s Look East Policy and ruling out any concerns over China’s strong relationship with East Asian countries, President Pratibha Devisngh Patil today said there is enough space in the world for India and China to develop simultaneously.

“We belive there is enough scope in the world for India and China to develop and both countries can fulfill theiur aspirations simultaneously,Patil told a media team accompanying her on an official visit to Laos and Cambodia.

When asked whether she foresaw any problems for India from China in developing ties with Laos and Cambodia, Patil said: “There is no problem for India to develop relations with them (Laos and Cambodia).”

The Chinese influence on these two South East Asian countries is said to be quite deep, but Patil said: “There exists enormous goodwill and affection for India in both these countries. This environment of trust and confidence that we enjoy with these countries, and the shared political commitment to take forward the relationship, provides a good basis to reinvigorate ties. Laos and Cambodia are growing economies, seeking socio-economic development. I will assure them that they can count on India as a willing development partner.”

President Patil is visiting Laos on the invitation of the President of Laos, Choummaly Sayasone, who paid a state visit to India in August 2008.

“Laos and Cambodia have relationship with China and they also have relationship with India. Since 1990s, when India adopted Look East Policy, our relationship has strengthened and we became one of the largest partners for ASEAN,” the President said.

To further strengthen India’s Look East policy, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will undertake a three-nation tour of Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia next month.

Apart from visiting Laotian capital Vientiane, President Patil and the delegation will also travel to Luang Prabang.

The visit of President Patil to Laos is meant to reaffirm India”s commitment to further strengthen and consolidate bilateral relations, and enhance economic engagement and assistance in socio- economic development.

The President will also have discussions with President Choummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh in Vientiane, apart from official talks between the two sides

On Friday; Patil will be accorded a ceremonial welcome and guard of honour at the Ho Kham Palace. She will then have a ten-minute one-to-one meeting with President Sayasone before both take part in delegation-level talks, expected to last over an hour.

The delegations of both countries will then sign a number of bilateral agreements aimed at taking the relationship forward. Patil will, thereafter, visit the Memorial Monument to lay a wreath. On Friday evening, the Prime Minister of Laos, Bouasone Bouphavanh, will call on the Indian President at the Hotel Lao Plaza. The two are expected to have a 30-minute meeting.

The day will end with a state banquet hosted in honour of the visiting dignitary.

During her stay in Laos, President Patil will also visit the National Museum at Luang Prabang and meet with the Governor of Luang Prabang in Phouvao. She will also witness the traditional Baci Ceremony and attend a dinner hosted by Governor Bouheuang Douangphachanh.

She will also visit the Xiengthong Temple and enjoy a cruise on the Mekong River on Sunday.

On Monday, she will meet with Thongsing Thammavong, the president of the National Assembly of Laos at her hotel in Vientiene. She will also address a Joint India-Lao business meeting before departing for Cambodian capital Phnom Penh after a ceremonial farewell. (ANI)

Omar Abdullah meets Pranab, Antony seeks support for amendment to AFSPA

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): Ahead of Friday”s crucial Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meet in New Delhi to discuss the ongoing violence in the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday to seek their supports for his demand for amendments in the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Abdullah, who met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday, had then highlighted the need for making AFSPA more humane, and requested Dr. Singh to kick start a political dialogue with the separatists at the earliest.

“Yes, I have requested the Prime Minister to take a decision on amending the AFSPA or at best withdrawing it from some areas where it was not required. To begin with we may choose four districts in the state on experimental basis. Some calculated risks have to be taken. Let us see,” said Omar Abdullah after his meeting with Dr Singh, which lasted for around 45-minutes.

“If I am not hopeful, I won”t be here,” he added, when asked whether the ongoing turmoil in the Valley would come to an end.

Earlier talking to a group of editors at his residence on September 6, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security is being called shortly to discuss the situation in the Kashmir Valley. I cannot promise you that I will produce a rabbit out of my hat, the country must learn to be patient.”

“Also the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir Government are looking out for options to address the concerns of the Kashmiris,” he added pointing out that the Kashmir problem has existed for 63 years and Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had all attempted to tackle it.

Earlier on Monday talking to reporters after holding a public rally at Bhalwal village near Jammu, Abdullah said Jammu and Kashmir problem requires a unique solution, as the accession of the State with India was in different and unique circumstances than that of other States of the country.

“We are trying that all issues be resolved through dialogue. Centre has also brought this on record–both in the Parliament and outside it that dialogue should be initiated in Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir requires a unique solution as the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with rest of the country was in extremely unique circumstances,” said Abdullah.

“India was in different and unique circumstances then that of other states of the country. Geelani has put forth some issues, Give the Centre a chance as they are examining these issues and they will respond accordingly. I am hoping that the response should be of the kind which can improve the situation,” he added.

When asked about his recent statement on revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Abdullah said: “I have not said any such thing. I have said we are thinking on it and we are discussing the issue with Centre. We have got two options with us.”

“First is that the harsh side of AFSPA be subdued. Second option with us is that where there is hardly any impact of militancy and where the role of Army is not required from those areas AFSPA can be removed in a phased manner. For which we are working for identifying some districts of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Police has also imposed restrictions on the movement of people in nine districts of the Valley as a precautionary measure. The curfew was lifted in Kashmir Valley on Thursday morning.

Over sixty-nine people have been killed in the ongoing unrest in the Valley till date. (ANI)

Flood crisis in Haryana takes turn for the worse

By Rakesh

Yamunanagar/ Ambala (Haryana), Sep. 9 (ANI): The flood situation in Haryana”s Yamunanagar and Ambala Districts has worsened further following heavy rains.

With the River Yamuna flowing above the danger mark, the floodwaters have affected low-lying areas, crippling normal life in parts of Haryana.

“Water has risen up to eight feet and the elderly and young children are facing lot of problems. Fields and houses are submerged under water. The situation is very bad here and we don”t have anything to eat,” claimed Sonu Singh, a resident.

“Yechurparji and Urjani, Sherpur, Yakupur, in all these villages, everywhere, the floodwaters have entered,” he added.

In Ambala city, the flood situation continues to remain grim.

“The flow of water since morning is very high and many fields have been damaged, and many of them will soon get damaged,” claimed Brijesh Kumar, a resident. (ANI)

Sohrabuddin case: Hearing on Amit Shah”s bail plea adjourned till Sept. 16

Ahmedabad, Sep 9 (ANI): The hearing of the bail application of former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, who has been arrested in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, was on Thursday extended till September 16 as special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge P P Bhatt was unwell and not available for hearing arguments.

The next date for hearing was mutually agreed upon by Shah”s lawyer Mitesh Amin and the government counsel.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CBI court had adjourned the hearing on the bail application of Shah till September 9.

On September 3, Shah had asked the Supreme Court to recall its verdict for a Central CBI probe on grounds of ”prejudice”, and levelled allegations of corruption against its judge and the Central Government.

In the 87-page application moved by Shah, he alleged that Justice Tarun Chatterjee, who was part of the Bench that had handed over the investigation to the CBI on July 12, was himself under the scanner of the investigating agency for his involvement in the Uttar Pradesh provident fund scam.

Shah”s application in the apex court also questioned the propriety of Justice Aftab Alam considering the fact that he was aware that Justice Chatterjee”s name figured in the provident fund scam.

The application prepared under the guidance of noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani has also put forward the points, which are almost similar to those raised by senior Gujarat Police officer Geeta Johri.

Johri had accused the CBI of pressurising her to implicate some political leaders, including Shah, in connection with the case.

In a curative petition filed with the apex court, she sought the removal of Balwinder Singh, CBI”s Special Director, who is supervising the investigation into the case.
She alleged she had been asked by the CBI to depose in a particular manner in the case and that her personal assistant was threatened by the CBI.

The CBI has charged Shah with murder, abduction, extortion and conspiracy. On July 23, it produced a 30,000-page charge-sheet implicating Shah in the case.

Shah was interrogated over three days in jail in mid August, but the CBI said he did not cooperate and has denied any involvement in the case.

The Supreme Court on January 12 has handed over the investigation of the case to the CBI asking it to place before it the report on the progress of the probe within six months by July 31.

Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005. (ANI)

Disinvestment in Manganese ORE establishment approved

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the disinvestment of ten per cent of total paid up equity of Manganese ORE (India) Ltd. (MOIL) out of its holding through Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh government have also decided to divest five per cent each of total paid up equity in MOIL out of their shareholding along with the Government of India.

This will lead to MOIL listing its shares in the Stock Exchanges.

The Cabinet has also approved to allow five per cent price discount to the employees of the company under employees reservation quota to encourage their becoming stakeholders in the company.

It has further decided to allow this five per cent discount to retail investors as well as to encourage the development of people-ownership.

At present, the Central Government holds 81.57 per cent of the equity of Manganese Ore India Ltd. a Miniratna Central Public Sector Enterprise.

The balance is held by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh Governments to the extent of 9.62 per cent and 8.81 per cent respectively.

MOIL is engaged in production of manganese ore, which is the raw material for manufacturing of alloys, an essential input for steel making and dioxide ore for manufacturing dry batteries. (ANI)

Caste will be included in Indian census

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): Union Cabinet on Thursday gave its approval to the inclusion of caste in census.

Briefing reporters after meeting, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that house to house enumeration of castes will be done from June to September next year.

He said that there would be a biometric capture, head count and house to house enumeration of castes.

“Every point of view has been accommodated and a time table has been drawn up after the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held consultations with all political parties,” he added.

The caste enumeration would be conducted as a separate exercise from June 2011 and completed in a phased manner by September 2011 after the Population Enumeration phase (to be conducted in February-March 2011) of the Census 2011 is over.

A suitable legal regime for collection of data on Castes would be formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner India would conduct the field operations of the caste enumeration.

The Government of India would constitute an expert group to classify the caste/tribe returns after the enumeration is completed.

The office of the registrar general and Census Commissioner India would hand over the details of the castes/tribes returned in the enumeration to the proposed expert group.

Caste-wise enumeration had been given up as a matter of policy after independence. The last Census when caste-wise data was collected, tabulated and published in detail was the 1931 Census.

In response to the demands for enumerating castes other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Census 2011 raised inside Parliament as well as by various groups outside, the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a note to the Union Cabinet in May 2010 pertaining to this issue.

The Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a fresh note on this subject. The Cabinet discussed the matter in its meeting held in May 2010 and decided that, “the matter may, in the first instance, be considered by a Group of Ministers (GoM)”. (ANI)

Cabinet approves revocation of President”s rule in Jharkhand

New Delhi, Sep 9 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved revocation of President”s Rule in Jharkhand.

The decision comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staked a claim to form a government in Jharkhand with the support of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Jharkhand Governor MOH Farooq sent his report to the Centre on Tuesday, recommending revocation of Central rule in the state, hours after BJP MP and party national general secretary Arjun Munda submitted a list of 45 legislators, four more than the number required to form government in the 81-member assembly.

The JMM-BJP coalition government plunged into a political crisis after the BJP withdrew support to government in the wake of Shibu Soren voting in favour of the UPA during the cut motion in parliament on April 27.

The BJP first announced it would immediately withdraw support from the JMM-led government, which would have brought it down and effectively led to the imposition of President”s Rule or attempts by the Congress to form an alternative government.

However, by April 29 when the party received a letter from Hemant Soren, offering to support the BJP in leading the coalition, the withdrawal of support was “put on hold” and a dialogue was opened.

The JMM backtracked and demanded rotational power sharing with each party leading the government for 28 months.

This was agreed to by BJP on the understanding that Soren will quit as Chief Minister by May 25 after which Munda will head the new coalition government.

The JMM and the BJP have 18 MLAs each and the Soren Government has the support of two Janata Dal (United) legislators and five from the AJSU, besides two others in the 82-member Assembly.

The Congress has 14 MLAs, Jharkhand Vikas Manch (JVM) has 11 MLAs and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has five MLAs. (ANI)

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