GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha off to meet ‘mediator’ MP – Deadline & sudden Delhi trip point to loose ends

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha off to meet ‘mediator’ MP – Deadline & sudden Delhi trip point to loose ends – still working towards the psychological concept that all Bengal may accept the concept of a ‘State within a State’ for the ultimate separation from Bengal not to turn into the earlier 1947 communal disaster ?!!

Hon'ble Darjeeling MP & BJP Stalwart Jaswant Singh - frowning with worry about the obduracy of Bengal to understand the "State within a State" concept ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, Nov. 29: A four-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation led by Roshan Giri left for Delhi today to meet Jaswant Singh, a day after the party set a December 20 deadline for the Centre and the state to establish the interim authority.

Going by the composition of the delegation, the Darjeeling MP is probably acting as a mediator between the party and the Centre and is expected to help thrash out the contentious issues before the final agreement on the interim authority is drawn up.

Tight-lipped about the delegation’s objectives, Giri said: “We are going to meet Jaswant Singh. This is our only agenda right now.”

GJM President Bimal Gurung - who re-awakened the Indian Gorkhas to the reality of Gorkhaland within 3 short years and also understood that political progress could only happen in steps and so accepted the center's proposal and his stalwart's advice to first accept the 'State within a State' concept and get back the lost areas of Darjeeling Terai and Gorkha dominated areas in the Dooars and to prove that the GRA could be a viable entity for future statehood - astutely determined to continue with the entire majority Gorkha Consensus Indiawide ?!!

The three members of the team are former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh Trilok Dewan, former principal secretary of DGHC L.B. Pariyar and party spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri. The four members have been an integral part of the tripartite meetings between the Morcha and the Centre and the state in the past.

Observers believe that the team is probably trying to hold negotiations with the Centre through Singh to thrash out four contentious issues: mode of selection to the interim set-up, transfer of tauzi department, procedure for handing over of legislative powers and the territorial jurisdiction of the new body.

After meeting Union home minister P. Chidambaram on November 1 along with Singh who had then mediated between the two sides, Morcha president Bimal Gurung had announced that “only one more meeting was needed to ink the deal”. But the Morcha’s announcement of the deadline yesterday and the sudden departure for Delhi today are pointers that the state government, which is already in an election mode, is probably not in agreement with the party on the four issues.

The Morcha had claimed that a joint verification committee would be formed to review its demand for the inclusion of Gorkha-dominated areas in the interim set-up, the report of which would be placed before the appropriate authority by May 2011.

The hill party had also claimed that the members running the interim authority would be nominated instead of being elected and that the transfer of the tauzi department had been broadly agreed upon. “Given the Morcha’s recent decision to hold rallies for the inclusion of the tauzi department and to set a time frame to sign the deal failing which it has threatened to launch an agitation for a final solution, it is obvious that all the loose ends are yet to be tied. There must have been objections from the state government and the team has probably left for Delhi to sort out the issues,” said an observer.

In the hills, rival GNLF iterated that the Sixth Schedule was the only viable solution. “Given the present situation, the Sixth Schedule is the only viable option and an agreement had already been reached with our party in 2005. The Sixth Schedule has constitutional guarantee and the same cannot be said of the interim set-up,” said Shivraj Thapa, media and publicity secretary of the GNLF’s Darjeeling sub-divisional committee.

Subash Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, has already expressed his desire to return to the hills and this has also prompted a strong response from all political parties. “In a democracy, all parties are allowed to function. We, however, believe that the hill people have already rejected the Sixth Schedule status and Ghisingh should drop the idea of Sixth Schedule for a separate statehood,” said Narayan Chhetri, the spokesperson for the ABGL.

The CPRM added that if Ghisingh was to return to the hills, he should leave behind all his “bad habits”. “If he is to return he should leave behind his bad habits like confusing the general public and encouraging them to drink. The Sixth Schedule does have constitutional guarantee but the people have rejected it. Instead, he (Ghisingh) should concentrate on statehood,” said R.B. Rai, the general secretary of the CPRM.

Giri said Ghisingh must be day-dreaming about reviving the GNLF in the hills.

MEANWHILE

Hills bond SMC allies – but that still doesn’t make the Mahukuma Parishad legal or constitutional once the DGHC has been dissolved and replaced by the GRA ?!!

The board meeting of the SMC on Monday. (Kundan Yolmo) - acutely aware of their illegal and unconstitutional status once the DGHC has been dissolved and replaced by the GRA, so to be pushed into New Jalpaiguri ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, Nov. 29: The Trinamul Congress and the Congress today jointly adopted a resolution moved by the Opposition Left Front on the jurisdiction of all 47 wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.

The consensus — between the allies that helped adopt the resolution opposing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand for including six wards of Siliguri in the proposed interim set-up — comes after more than a year of strained relationship.

“All the six wards (2, 3, 41, 42, 45 and 46) have Gorkha majority and so we want their inclusion in the authority,” Shankar Adhikari, the chief convener of the Morcha’s Terai committee, had said.

Mukul Sengupta, the CPM councillor of Ward 2, proposed that a resolution be taken at the civic body, opposing the Morcha’s demand.

“As the SMC has been formed under constitutional provisions, the demand raised by the Morcha to separate six wards from the civic body is confusing and can create unpleasant situations. We, therefore, want the resolution to be passed opposing this demand,” Sengupta said.

Gautam Deb, the Trinamul leader of the party at the SMC, however, suggested modification to the proposal. He said since the civic body did not have any written document on the Morcha’s demand, except for media reports, the resolution should not contain the name of any organisation or party.

“We feel a similar proposal, in an amended form, saying that there should be no change in the jurisdiction and structure of the existing wards and none of the wards should be separated from the SMC should be passed,” Deb said. “It is important to keep in mind that no step or decision should be taken by the SMC which can affect the ongoing tripartite talks.”

Congress mayor Gangotri Datta endorsed Deb’s amended proposal. Soon, SMC chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal placed the modified proposal for adoption. Both the Congress and the Trinamul councillors supported the resolution, while the Left members refrained from supporting it.

The Opposition members insisted that the words “In context of the demand raised by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha…” be included in the resolution.

The civic meeting continued for around four hours, discussing issues like repairing roads, construction of drains and drinking water supply. It also decided to set up statues of six prominent personalities — Rabindranath Tagore, Thakur Panchanan Burma, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Sisir Bhaduri, Rajendra Prasad and Maharaj Agrasen — at different locations of the town.

‘Centre, state should honour Schedule pact’ – by the man who sold off Darjeeling’s Siliguri for an ego trip that betrayed the Indian Gorkhas worldwide ?!!

Subhash Ghising in his rented house in Jalpaiguri - still cannot mature or understand how Jyoti Basu (the Butcher of the Darjeeling Gorkhas) fooled him and made him the 'Greatest Betrayer of Greater Gorkha Cause' and ought to stay put and quiet instead of harping on the 6th schedule at such a sensitive political time ?!!

From The Statesman

SILIGURI, 28 NOV: The Gorkha National Liberation Front president, Mr Subash Ghisingh today demanded that both the Centre and the state governments should ‘honour’ the agreement of Sixth Schedule for Darjeeling Hills, inked on 6 December 2005.

Addressing the GNLF workers’ meet at a private guesthouse near Jalpaimore under Siliguri Municipal Corporation area in Jalpaiguri district, Mr Ghisingh today made it clear that both the Centre and the state governments have been delaying to pass the Sixth Schedule in Parliament and its execution in the Hills. Demanding ‘Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council under Sixth Schedule’, he also said: “If they holdup its implementation, the present situation in the Hills would change and it would be aggravated for the worse.”

The GNLF supremo today made it clear that the present situation was not favourable for demanding Gorkhaland. (sns)

Darjeeling tourist spots lying in a shambles – when was it ever pristine, except before Independence since before 1947 ?!!

Everything in Darjeeling is in a shambles including the Darjeeling Municipality Office - ever since Bengal took over power since independence of India in 1947 - colonialists without colonial skills ?!!

From The Times of India
By Deep Gazmer

DARJEELING, Nov 29, 2010, 12.54am IST (TNN): Once a must-visit for tourists to Darjeeling, the Rock Garden and Gangamaya Park near Dali, about 4 km from the Hill town, have been lying in a shambles for nearly two years now.

The two tourist spots, which used to draw up to 10,000 tourists daily in the peak season, were ravaged by Cyclone Aila in May 2009. The spate of political agitations and strikes in the Hills has ensured that neither DGHC nor the state government has undertaken a project since then to revamp and renovate them.

A brainchild of Subash Ghisingh, the garden was a major attraction in Darjeeling. “I had heard a lot about the two spots from friends who had visited them. But I had a harrowing time reaching there as the roads are terrible,” said Keshav Majhi, a tourist from Jharkhand.

The road through scenic tea gardens is now a cluster of potholes. In fact, on some stretches tourists prefer to walk it down as they fear the vehicle might overturn.

The Gangamaya Park is closed to tourists. The Park used to have boating facilities, eateries and natural flower gardens but much of it was damaged by Aila.

DGHC officials admitted that work has started off said that an estimate of `5.6 crores had been prepared for restoring the two destinations. The proposal is yet to be handed over to the state government. “The devastation is extensive and massive renovation work is required. We have completed a proposal with estimates that will be sent to the state government soon,” said P T Sherpa, the DGHC tourism secretary.

“Our only source of income was the two tourist spots. It is really sad to see that the DGHC and state government have done nothing for the parks,” said Dhanmaya Rai.

GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL WARNING: RTI activist points at scam – Akhil demands Gogoi’s ouster – which could also very well happen in Darjeeling in the not too distant future, which Bengal so fervently wants at all costs ?!!

Security personnel in front of Vishal Mega Mart after AASU activists destroyed the outlet in Guwahati. (Eastern Projections) - even after the GRA Bengal will try to create problems and send the CRPF to re-butcher the Darjeeling Gorkhas as they did in 1986, so all do beware ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Guwahati, Nov. 29: RTI activist Akhil Gogoi today said he had a strong suspicion that another scam, like the LoC scam that took place during the AGP regime led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, had taken place during the tenure of chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

“The people of Assam are well aware that an LoC scam took place during Prafulla Mahanta’s rule but we have a strong suspicion that another LoC-like scam took place during Tarun Gogoi’s tenure. Our suspicion is based on the special CAG audit report that exposes massive corruption in the NC Hills autonomous council from 2007-08 to 2008-09,” Akhil Gogoi, the general secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity, said.

The peasant leader told reporters here that the state government had informed the CAG that it had released Rs 151.40 crore to the NC Hills autonomous council. But the CAG found during its special audit conducted over 26 months that Rs 424.04 crore had been released. “The CAG clearly mentions that the state government did not provide them with sufficient information and tried to hide statistics during the special audit process,” he added.

“So we suspect that the LoC-like scam took place during Gogoi’s term and money was released with false documents,” he said.

He also alleged that the state government had concealed the original probe report of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which had the names of some cabinet ministers. “The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues are involved in the scam but the state government managed to hide the original report of NIA,” he alleged and demanded the resignation of Tarun Gogoi and his three cabinet colleagues, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Gautam Roy and Khorsingh Ingti, on moral grounds.

The Opposition AGP also demanded Tarun Gogoi’s resignation over the CAG report, which observed massive corruption in the NC Hills autonomous council.

AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary asked Tarun Gogoi to follow the example of Union telecom minister A. Raja who resigned after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report was tabled in Parliament. He produced the special audit report of the CAG before the media and said Tarun Gogoi should resign immediately on moral grounds.

“The chief minister had earlier said he would resign if someone could prove the allegations of Rs 1,000 crore scam in the NC Hills council. Now that the CAG report has proved the allegations of financial anomalies, Gogoi should resign immediately,” he said. Quoting the CAG report, he said, “Reasons for release of excess fund by the state government over the budget provisions were not available on record. Release of excess funds over the budget provision is fraught with the risk of misutilisation, misappropriation of fund.”

Patowary said the CAG audit covered financial transactions of only eight departments of the council — PHC, agriculture, forest, social welfare, PWD, education, medical and police from 2007-08 to June 12, 2009. He said during this period, the government gave Rs 272,64,23,000 as excess funds without any budget. The scam would be several times more than Rs 1,000 crore if the financial transactions of all the 30 departments under the council were audited, he added.

Gogoi pulls up cops for AASU vandalism – thus the bitter aftermath, better cautious than sorry ?!!

Curfew in KPG after 27july 1987 police firing (Himal News Archives)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Guwahati, Nov. 29: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today took police to task for failing to prevent vandalism at Vishal Mega Mart by activists of the All Assam Students Union.

Speaking to deputy commissioners and superintendents of police at a review meeting at the Administrative Staff College here, Gogoi asked the police to deal firmly with anybody who tried to take the law into his/her own hands. The state police top brass, including director-general of police Shankar Barua, was present.

“When the Vishal outlet in Guwahati was attacked, it was found that the police were not very active. If we fail to prevent such acts of vandalism, it will send a wrong message. We cannot allow anyone to take the law into their own hands,” Gogoi said. He asked the police to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future.

The police drew flak for inept handling of the situation when AASU activists ransacked Vishal Mega Mart at Paltan Bazar on Thursday. The police and CRPF personnel allegedly stood like mute spectators as AASU activists vandalised the shop.

Gogoi said organisations had the right to protest in a peaceful and democratic way but they could not resort to violence. He said with Assembly elections around the corner, agitation and demonstrations might go up and the police should handle these efficiently and intelligently to prevent any outbreak of violence.

He also stressed the need to expedite socio-economic development in backward zones, particularly in the border areas. “There is an urgent need to develop these areas as insurgency is an outcome of economic backwardness.”

Gogoi said his government was according top priority to employment generation, agriculture, improving connectivity by constructing roads and bridges and setting up small, medium and cottage industries, among others, for rapid development.

“The deputy commissioners must ensure that the benefits of welfare schemes do not remain confined to a particular section of the people and percolate down to the poorer sections,” he said.

Addressing the meeting, chief secretary Naba Kumar Das said though insurgency had been contained to a great extent, the police needed to remain alert and work closely with intelligence agencies, central paramilitary forces and the army to prevent untoward incidents. He asked the deputy commissioners to monitor the progress of railway and road projects every month and provide adequate security to the workers.

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ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Green glare on new rail link – Minister cites threat to wildlife to oppose train lines to Bhutan

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Green glare on new rail link – Minister cites threat to wildlife to oppose train lines to Bhutan – no preplanning or properly managed surveys, where one department in Bengal ignores the other – a Bengal management style culture ?!!

 

Jaigaon: The Gateway to Bhutan, now threatened by a deliberately unplanning Bengal ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BY AVIJIT SINHA

 

Siliguri, Nov. 29: The state forest department will oppose any move by the railways to extend the Dooars rail route to Bhutan as it will pose threats to the wildlife, minister Ananta Roy has said.

The opposition from the government came close on the heels of the deaths of seven elephants on the Dooars rail tracks on September 22.

The Northeast Frontier Railway had planned to extend the railway lines from Banarhat and Hashimara to Samtse and Phuentsholing in Bhutan following an agreement between the two countries.

 

Rail tracks that run through the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary on the outskirts of Siliguri - built without planning, coordination or concern for the environment by an obdurate and unjust Bengal ?!!

“We will oppose any move by the railways to extend the network to the bordering towns of Bhutan because the alignment is through the forests and the elephant corridors. If train services start on these routes (Banarhat-Samtse and Hashimara-Phuentsholing), more animals, particularly elephants, will be hit by trains,” Roy told The Telegraph. “Under the rules, the railways will have to obtain permission from the Supreme Court if it want to construct lines in forest areas.”

 

The minister, however, did not elaborate much on the rules.

In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Bhutan king had signed an agreement to extend the railway link to the Himalayan kingdom as a gesture of friendship to mark the golden jubilee of Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Bhutan. It was decided that the lines would be extended from five stations — the other three routes being Kokrajhar-Gelephu, Pathsala-Naglam and Rangia-Samdrupjongkhar via Darrang, all originating from Assam.

Railway officials said the survey on the three stretches of Assam was complete but a similar exercise in Bengal was held up because of land encroachment.

“We own land on the two stretches (of Bengal) but they are already encroached upon by a number of families. When we discussed the project with the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri and the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, we were assured that an alternative land would be provided,” said S. Singh, the divisional railway manager of Alipurduar which falls under the NFR. “We agreed to it but now we have no clue about the statements made by the forest department.”

Residents of the Dooars, who are unhappy with the consistent campaign by state ministers to regulate movement of trains and divert some from the Dooars route to stop elephant deaths on tracks, have described the opposition by the forest department as another conspiracy.

“The state government is trying to derail a railway project out of political vengeance using the wildlife as an excuse. The forest department has failed miserably to protect the wildlife and is now trying to hide its failure and create hindrance for the railways,” said Prabhat Dey, the secretary of the Dooars East West Corridor Movement Committee. “We will, however, not tolerate such political interferences that can stop the development process in the Dooars.”

Delay finger at forest – no collective ‘Haati mere saathi’ concept nor conscience in Bengal ?!!

 

An elephant and her calf: under attack from an unconcerned Bengal Babu - so no hoping or getting Ganesha's blessings ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

 

Siliguri, Nov. 29: The railways have blamed the forest department for non-implementation of decisions taken in a joint meeting after the deaths of seven elephants on the Dooars tracks in September.

“Three days after the incident on September 22, a joint meeting was held in Gorumara National Park,” said S. Singh, the divisional railway manager of Alipurduar, which falls under the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). “A number of decisions, aimed to curb the risk of elephants being hit by trains, were taken in the meeting. None of these have been implemented so far and since then, there has been no response from the forest department.”

The meeting had decided that a forester would be posted at the control room in Alipurduar so that he can pass on the information about elephant herds to his men. “No one has been deputed by the forest department so far,” Singh said. “On our part, we have been regulating the speed of the trains on the routes as decided in the meeting.”

The DRM said clearing vegetation from an area of 30 metres on both sides of the track would have increased the visibility of drivers but it was not done. “A joint survey to identify the corridors through which elephants cross the tracks but are not known to us was supposed to be taken up. But no move by the forest department has been witnessed so far,” Singh said.

Foresters said clearing of vegetation on both sides of the tracks had begun and was expected to be completed soon. S.B. Patel, the chief conservator of forests (wildlife) of north Bengal, said: “We have forwarded the proposal to depute a man at the railway control room to our seniors. However, information is being exchanged at the grass roots levels, that is, between range officers and station masters of all stations between Siliguri Junction and Alipurduar regularly.”

COFFEE NEWS: Coffee replaces paddy for more profit

COFFEE NEWS: Coffee replaces paddy for more profit – specially with water distribution being neglected by Bengal since 1947 ?!!

 

A coffee plant with beans (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha) - an alternative income source with the water problems that Kalimpong has ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY RAJEEV RAVIDAS

 

Kalimpong, Nov. 29: What tea is to Darjeeling, will coffee be to Kalimpong? A few more years and the answer will be there but for now the seeds of such a possibility have been planted.

Bongbusty, a picturesque village with terraced paddy fields, 3km from here, is where a project to introduce coffee farming in the hills has begun.

The experiment was started two years ago when Gopal Dixit and his brother Robin of Dixitgaon in Bongbusty replaced paddy plants with coffee seedlings in their fields.

 

Coffee saplings in a green house in Bongbusty (Chinlop Fudong Lepcha) - and Bengal says that a separate state is not viable ?!!

The idea of cultivating coffee came from their cousin Deo Dixit, a coffee consultant based in Bhutan.

 

“We had been planting paddy in our fields for years. However, diminishing yield and non-availability of farm hands had made it non-sustainable. This is why we decided to experiment with coffee on a small scale,” said Gopal.

The Dixits have planted coffee seeds on their 6-acre plot. The trees are now two years old and they will take another year or two to mature.

“An acre of land can accommodate around 700 to 2,000 trees depending on the space between the plants and the variety of coffee. An acre of land can yield between 500 and 1,000kg of green beans,” said Deo. He said 1kg of green coffee beans could fetch between $3 and $5 in the international market.

The Dixits have planted Arabica coffee in their field.

“Arabica is a better variety of coffee and is grown in higher altitudes. The climate of Kalimpong is nice and warm and is right for coffee plantation. Many people here grow coffee as an ornamental plant in their gardens. I have hand crushed some of the beans and tasted them. They are really good,” said Deo.

He added that if the coffee experiment is successful then it could be good news for the farmers here.

“Coffee plants do not require much looking after. The money from selling the beans also remains with the farmers. A large number of people from the rural areas will also be gainfully employed,” he added.

Residents of Bongbusty are waiting for the experiment to bear fruit before they too wake up to the prospect of maximising profits from the land by planting coffee.

“If the experiment is successful and coffee farming gets necessary support from all people concerned, then Kalimpong can be on the coffee map of the world,” said Deo.

TEA NEWS: Tea workers in govt dues cry – but Bengal turns deaf ?!!

 

Dheklapara tea garden - sick under Bengal's corrupt mismanagement, just too many like this ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

 

Jalpaiguri, Nov. 29: About hundred workers from the closed Dheklapara tea garden and the sick Mujnai tea estate gathered at the district collectorate here today demanding their dues under two central government schemes.

Workers of Dheklapara Tea Estate said they were yet to be paid money under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and the Financial Assistance to Workers of Locked Out Industries (FAWLOI).

Basanti Tanti, a worker of Dheklapara that has been closed since 2002, said the operating and management committee sold tealeaves weighing between 500 and 1,000 kilos during the season.

“We get around Rs 30-40 a day from the OMC by plucking and sorting leaves. But only three days are allotted for work in a week. We are also denied money under a central scheme to provide assistance to workers of closed gardens. Although we worked for 21 days between April and November under the NREGS, we haven’t been paid the wages yet,” she said.

Another Dheklapara labourer, Lakshman Munda, said the garden dwellers were dependant on the work under the employment guarantee programme. “We are not getting the full quota of 100-days work that the scheme guarantees for a year,” said Munda. He said payments for June, July and August under the FAWLOI had been last made just before the Pujas. A worker gets Rs 1,000 a month under the FAWLOI.

A worker of the Integrated Child Development Services in Mujnai tea garden, Krishna Chhetri, said: “The labourers have not got work under the NREGS in the past five months and many of them are breaking boulders on the riverbeds.”

Both Dheklapara and Mujnai estates are located in Madarihat block.

As district magistrate Vandana Yadav was away, the workers met additional district magistrate (general), Doma Sherpa, who listened to their demands.

“Last year, Jalpaiguri topped the list of districts implementing the NREGS in the state by providing 64 days of work. This year, the Centre has been releasing funds slowly,” said Sherpa.

He said the dues would be cleared by the first week of December and after that, new work would be allotted under the NREGS.

 

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: After leaks, paint lips – Diplomacy loses trust factor

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS: After leaks, paint lips – Diplomacy loses trust factor – a new set of “do’s and ‘don’ts” ?!!

 

Barak Obama comes a shopping in India - to try and preserve US jobs ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY K.P. NAYAR

 

Washington, Nov. 29: The next time an Indian minister or a senior civil servant accepts an invitation to dinner at the residence of an American diplomat in New Delhi, he is likely to wish that the dress code for the dinner included gloves in addition to the usual prescription of “lounge suit/national dress”.

It is equally likely that if the invitee is male, he will wear some lip balm; or an extra coat of lipstick if the guest is a woman.

The gloves will prevent his or her fingerprints from being taken and the hope will be that the lip balm or lipstick will make it difficult for American diplomats to extract DNA from a glass from which wine has been sipped once the dinner is over and the guests have all left.

This may be a vivid, but by no means, an extreme scenario. At some point in the coming months, when the latest WikiLeaks revelations of classified cables from US embassies around the world are analysed and the dust has settled down, some sort of “Top Secret” cable is bound to go out from South Block with instructions to Indian diplomats advising caution in dealings with their American counterparts. So it should be.

Simultaneously, Indian intelligence agencies will give briefings to those who hold sensitive jobs in ministries like defence and home, men and women who have to deal with foreigners in or out of their governments, on a set of new “dos” and “don’ts”.

This is nothing unusual. During the Cold War, western diplomats who were posted to Moscow and the capitals of Soviet satellite countries had very clear and precise instructions on dealing with their hosts.

In capitals like East Berlin or Sofia, it was presumed that every East German or Bulgarian who came into contact with a western diplomat was presumed to be a communist agent either on the lookout for recruits or waiting to trap westerners into some compromise.

Even western jouranlists who were posted to Moscow in those years had a code of conduct on how to deal with their Soviet contacts.

In sheer practical terms, the most serious fallout of the publication of the secret US diplomatic dispatches on American diplomacy will be that their career diplomats will have significantly forfeited the trust of their hosts.

Since the last quarter of the 15th century, when Spain and England exchanged the first recorded instance of resident ambassadors in each other’s capitals, trust has been the sheet anchor of modern diplomacy. All else was qualified by the level of that basic trust or by its absence, as in the case of India and Pakistan.

The Bush administration tried to undermine everything from freedom of information to the Geneva Conventions during its eight years in power: it would appear from the leaks yesterday that fitting into that pattern was then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s instructions to US diplomats to wade into the murky world of intelligence gathering as part of their conventional work at embassies abroad.

But clearly, her successor, Hillary Clinton, improved on those methods. Or so it would seem from the leaks.

In a cable she sent out on July 31 last year, for example, Clinton asked career foreign service officers, as part of a “National Humint Collection Directive”, to spy on diplomats of other countries at the UN to the extent of getting their personal credit card details, frequent flyer numbers, email addresses and passwords, telephone details, “biometric information”, and “personal encryption keys”.

“Humint” is short for human intelligence, the product of personal espionage, while “biometric information” commonly refers to fingerprints, digital photographs and iris scans. “Encryption keys” refer to codes which are needed to unlock secret telegrams sent by other governments in altered text that is readable only by those who have the codes to decipher them.

It will be argued that there have always been CIA stations at major US embassies like New Delhi. But more often than not, host countries knew who manned those stations. For those engaged in diplomacy, it is not a difficult task to find out.

But there have been firewalls between diplomats and spies, both within the embassies and in dealings between host governments and embassies.

Which is why when there have been expulsions from the US embassy in New Delhi — there have been some in the last two decades which were mutually managed by the two governments without incident — those who were asked to leave were invariably CIA personnel and not career diplomats.

The long term-damage done to US diplomacy may not really from the leaks of cables this week but from actions by Rice and Clinton in largely eliminating the line that separated professional spies from career diplomats.

Which maybe why state department spokesperson P.J. Crowley tweeted with alacrity as soon as WikiLeaks material began surfacing on the Internet on Sunday. “Our diplomats are diplomats. They are not intelligence assets,” he wrote in one Twitter message.

In another tweet, he wrote: “Diplomats collect information that shapes our policies and actions. Diplomats for all nations do the same.” Which was eerily reminiscent of Indira Gandhi’s declaration in Parliament with a straight face many years ago that there was not a single RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent in any Indian embassy.

EARLIER

Warning and apology before whistle blows – leaks and plugs in place yet ?!!

 

Barak Obama - elbowed by those set on letting the relationship with India gel ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY ARCHIS MOHAN

 

New Delhi, Nov. 27: US officials in Washington and New Delhi have spent the past 48 hours apologising in advance for any uncharitable words they fear some of their own may have used against Indians that are about to be leaked.

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks has threatened to release, in the next few days, classified US documents that may harm Washington’s interests, embarrass its friends, and create tension between them.

No one yet knows what exactly will be leaked but the Americans have reason to worry. Papers declassified a few years ago had shown US President Richard Nixon referring to Indira Gandhi as an “old witch” during the Bangladesh war, and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, observing: “The Indians are bastards, anyway.”

Indian officials, though, are worried less about insults and more about whether WikiLeaks might expose the intelligence practices and personnel that New Delhi employs to secure its interests in the region, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sources said the Americans were now privy to these practices because of closer counter-terrorism cooperation with India and that, via them, these details may have landed in the hands of WikiLeaks.

The website says the size of the next release will be “seven times” the 400,000 Iraq-Afghanistan war logs it published last month, deeply embarrassing Washington.

In Delhi, some recalled the April 2003 leak of a US study on military relations with India, but said the WikiLeaks documents may have more serious implications for India’s security.

The 2003 study, based on interviews with 40-odd US policy makers, described Indian bureaucrats and generals as people who could be “easily slighted or insulted”, were “difficult to work with”, and were “obsessed” with history rather than the future. One commentator said Indians “cannot think strategically”.

The interviewees criticised Indians’ obsession with protocol, and the country’s “rigid and centralised” bureaucracy that was inimical to individual decision-making.

In 2003, New Delhi had not reacted to the report probably keeping the balance of power in mind, but the situation may have changed a little since then. Agencies quoted US state department spokesperson P.J. Crowley as saying: “We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents.”

The Americans can only draw hope from another set of declassified records that showed Kissinger saying about Indira, five years after the 1971 war, that “I wish we had a man as strong as she in our cabinet”.

WHILE A COUPLE OF WEEKS EARLIER – ARCHIVED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Lady’s long march to freedom – I’ve so much to tell you: Suu Kyi – but still diplomatically quiet to appease India’s delicate relations with its natural democratic allys ?!!

 

Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest - Indian Diplomacy at its best ?!!

FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE AND REUTERS

 

Yangon, Nov. 13: Military-ruled Myanmar today freed Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from seven-and-a-half years of house arrest, giving the country a powerful pro-democracy voice days after a widely criticised election.

Suu Kyi stood waving and smiling in a pink, long-sleeved shirt at the gate of her compound as thousands of supporters cheered and sang the national anthem in a blur of camera flashes.

“We haven’t seen each other for so long, I have so much to tell you,” she said, holding a white handkerchief and clenching the red iron gates, hair pinned with flowers given by a supporter.

“She is our mother, she is our mother!” a woman said, near tears.

“If we are united, we can get what we want. When the time comes to talk, do not be quiet,” Suu Kyi, 65, said before walking back inside her home.

She said she would address supporters tomorrow at the headquarters of her now defunct party, the National League for Democracy.

Her latest house arrest term, during which she was denied even a phone, expired today but it was not clear if she would be freed until police removed the barricades and withdrew from her home.

Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest. When her British husband Michael Aris died in the UK in 1999, she had declined the junta’s offer to go there for his funeral, fearing she would not be allowed back if she left.

In neighbouring Thailand, the younger of her two sons, Kim Aris, is waiting to see his mother after 10 years. Kim lives in Britain and has been repeatedly denied visas.

“She is a hero of mine,” US President Barack Obama said. “The United States welcomes her long overdue release. It is time for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, not just one.”

Analysts said Myanmar’s ruling generals might now see less need to isolate her because this week’s elections, held after 20 years and widely seen as stage-managed, resulted in victory for the party they backed. Also, by freeing her, the junta may be trying to gain some legitimacy for the political process it has initiated.

However, Suu Kyi, known as “the Lady” to the public, is believed to retain her old mesmerising appeal and with a few words could rob the election of any shred of legitimacy it might have, possibly seeking to have the results annulled on grounds of fraud.

Western diplomats said they would assess the degree of liberty she would be given and watch the military’s behaviour towards her. The possibility of future confrontations remains: Suu Kyi’s lawyer says she intends to plunge into political activities, no matter what restrictions are placed on her.

Sunday’s elections were the first since 1990, when the National League for Democracy won in a landslide. The generals annulled that result and clung to power.

Suu Kyi’s party refused to take part in the latest election, saying it was undemocratic. As a result, it was forced to disband as a political party, and Suu Kyi now has no official standing as a political leader.

Experts say the junta would likely need to release more political prisoners before the West lifts sanctions. However, Suu Kyi’s release could rekindle the debate whether the embargoes are viable at a time Myanmar’s neighbours, such as China, are tapping its vast resources and propping up the regime.

Suu Kyi had previously backed sanctions but has reviewed her stance. Analysts say she could mediate between the generals and the West.

Suu Kyi’s most recent term of house arrest began in 2003 after an attack on her motorcade by government-sponsored thugs that many believe was an assassination bid. Her detention was extended in August 2009 when an American, John Yettaw, swam across a lake uninvited to her home, leading to a trial that convicted her of violating the terms of her detention.

In the past, as her terms neared completion, extensions would be imposed. But yesterday, it had appeared that she might be freed as promised.

US & India on the same page – but what about those Gorkhas held without charge in Bengal for over 9 ½ years – still in legal limbo ?!!

 

Chattray Subba - still held without charge for over 9 1/2 years by Bengal, what sort of Justice can the Gorkhas expect in Bengal ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY K.P. NAYAR

 

Washington, Nov. 13: Myanmar was one of the more contentious issues during the recent Indo-US engagement and contrary to public perception, South Block very firmly stood its ground on its dealings with Yangon despite the Obama administration’s allergy to the junta there, records of bilateral meetings available in Washington reveal.

Hours after the release of Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today, the Obama administration appears to have grasped the pragmatism of Indian policy towards Myanmar.

The crux of a statement issued this morning by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton reads like a xerox copy of an earlier statement on Suu Kyi’s release by external affairs minister S.M. Krishna.

For the usual suspects and doubting Thomases, it should be clear who copied whom: Krishna read out his statement before television cameras in New Delhi at least four hours before Clinton made her views known here.

Krishna said about freedom for Suu Kyi: “We hope that this will be the beginning of the process of reconciliation in Myanmar.”

Clinton nudged the junta in Yangon “towards national reconciliation and a more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future”.

Krishna asserted: “We are confident that the release of Madam Aung San Suu Kyi will contribute to efforts for a more inclusive approach to political change.”

Clinton said: “We urge Burma’s leaders to break from their repressive policies and begin an inclusive dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic leaders.”

At the heart of what appears to be a belated and grudging acceptance of India’s approach to Myanmar are four words in the statements by Krishna and Clinton.

They are “reconciliation” and “inclusive”, common to both the statements, as well as “process” and “towards”, which are key to an emerging common ground in the policies of both New Delhi and Washington towards Yangon.

India maintained throughout its recent, contentious discussions with the US that it viewed the elections in Myanmar as part of a process, merely as one in a series of incremental steps towards political normality.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, saw elections in Myanmar as an end in itself, following a familiar pattern in US policy that has contributed to instability and crisis in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, to mention recent examples.

Today, Clinton moved closer to the Indian view and implicitly acknowledged that the elections, followed by Suu Kyi’s release, meant Myanmar was heading “towards” a distant but bigger national objective as South Block has been telling Foggy Bottom, seat of the US state department and the White House.

India believes, as Krishna said today, that the rulers in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s new capital, are engaged in a “process” that will move towards an ultimate objective.

In the run-up to Obama’s visit to India, Kurt Campbell, an assistant secretary of state who is in charge of Myanmar, led a delegation to New Delhi for extensive discussions with the Indian government.

According to a diplomatic despatch sent by Campbell on his talks, he accused Myanmar of smuggling in nuclear material and warned Indians that Yangon would become a proliferator and a nuclear threat to the whole of South Asia.

To which the Indians testily retorted that when a nuclear threat to South Asia was emerging to India’s west —meaning Pakistan — the Americans stood by and did nothing. That argument put Campbell and his delegation clearly on the defensive.

This reporter has not seen Campbell’s “secret” despatch, but a source here, who has access to what he wrote, today read out its relevant contents for this story.

It was typical of US immaturity and cowboy-style diplomacy in dealing with such situations that Campbell complained to India that during his travel to Naypyidaw he asked questions and did not get answers.

The Indians retorted that they too ask questions but the answers always come during follow-up visits. The solution, South Block said, was to keep engaging Naypyidaw and not to make one visit to the country and expect to wrap up the problem with readymade answers, according to Campbell’s despatch.

In retrospect, it is now clear in the light of the fast-changing scenario in Yangon that India’s decision not to publicly respond to Obama’s criticism of Myanmar in the Central Hall of Parliament was wise and fruitful.

It is also clear from a briefing at the end of Obama’s visit by a very senior Indian official — who cannot be named because of the rules of the media interaction — that South Block did not buckle under Obama’s aggressiveness over Myanmar which has to do with the President’s domestic political compulsions.

The Indian official made it clear that during discussions with the Americans they were told that “we have to deal with Myanmar as an immediate neighbour”.

“When we look east, the first place we see is Myanmar,” was India’s response to Obama’s advice to New Delhi to engage its east.

At the briefing, the official was sarcastic about the US suggestions that India should shun Yangon. “It is not on the dark side of the moon” unlike for the Americans who were half way round the globe away.

The official added that “we can’t pretend to be brain dead” as China increases its engagement of Naypyidaw.

After Obama referred to Myanmar in Parliament, a core group in South Block considered a public response but advised the Prime Minister after a detailed review that, unlike Pakistan on which Manmohan Singh responded to Obama’s comments at their joint news conference, it was not an issue that called for a rejoinder.

Private diplomacy was thought to be the best response and its effectiveness was proved by events today — although, if the rulers in Myanmar mishandle Suu Kyi’s rally on Sunday, all of India’s good work may well be back to square one.

MEANWHILE

Class not ready, ‘silent arm’ stays in Russia – the bungling balance not yet quite in place ?!!

 

Akula-II class, 8,140-tonne submarine, Nerpa - Still waiting to be delivered, but upto scratch for the Indian Navy ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SUJAN DUTTA

 

New Delhi, Nov. 29: A secretive project for the transfer of a Russian nuclear submarine to the Indian Navy has got delayed after New Delhi complained that Moscow had not trained Indian officers and sailors adequately for the task of operating it.

The Akula-II class, 8,140-tonne submarine, Nerpa, was to be delivered to the Indian Navy by December.

The Indian Navy, whose “silent arm” of submarines is fast depleting, had posted nearly 100 officers and sailors to the Amur shipyard in Siberia, where the Nerpa was built and tested, for more than a year.

Nuclear submarines can stay under water for much longer periods than the conventional diesel-electric submarines in the Indian Navy’s fleet. India has coveted nuclear submarines for decades, largely because of China’s expanding fleet.

Now the Indian Navy has concluded that its crew in Russia have not been trained well enough to “operationalise” the submarine after the transfer. The submarine is now likely to be accepted only in the middle of next year.

While the Indian defence establishment is miffed with the Russians for inordinate delays in several projects, it is also acutely aware that it cannot source such strategic co-operation from any other country.

This is the second time that the navy will be leasing a nuclear submarine from Russia after the first, the INS Chakra, was returned in 1991 after being in service in India for 10 years. In 2004, India and Russia had signed an agreement (about which officials do not talk in public) that would allow the Nerpa, which is likely to be re-christened INS Chakra, to be with India for 10 years till 2020 under a $650-million programme.

The agreement envisaged that Russia would not only physically sail the submarine to India but would also train the Indian Navy to operate it. Since its last experience with the INS Chakra, the Indian Navy’s trained personnel have almost all retired.

Also, the technology of nuclear submarines has undergone a change over the years, necessitating a fresh set of skills to operate them. The Indian Navy was intending to train its officers and sailors on the Nerpa till its own nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant, built with help from the Russians, is operationally ready.

The Arihant was “launched” in 2009 in the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam but sea trials are yet to begin after its reactors were integrated. It is expected to be operationally ready only in 2013.

The Nerpa has had its share of misfortune. An accident killed 20 Russian sailors while the submarine was being tried in the Sea of Japan. The repairs cost more than $60 million. The accident and the repairs caused the first delay and now the delivery has been re-scheduled.

NATIONAL CORRUPTION ‘SEETHING AND BOILING’: Voda versus Tata (plus Anil)

NATIONAL CORRUPTION ‘SEETHING AND BOILING’: Voda versus Tata (plus Anil) – how long can it be hidden ?!! situation getting stickier for the Congress & UPA for skeletons in their cupboards now exposing themselves one after another ?!! vote of ‘No Confidence’ next ?!!

 

Commonwealth Games organising committee chief and Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi, who is facing allegations of corruption, reaches Parliament on Monday after returning from the Asian Games in China. (PTI) - not all washed out but rather defiant, yet ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

 

New Delhi, Nov. 29: Ratan Tata has set the radio waves crackling as a fresh war of words broke out today over his charge that some telecom titans have hogged extra spectrum without paying a dime for it.

Vodafone Essar rubbished Tata’s implicit charge that some GSM players had been hoarding spectrum in violation of rules.

Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a technology that came out of Europe and is the standard used by 80 per cent of the world’s mobile networks.

In an interview aired on NDTV on Saturday, Tata had said the government needed to deal with “people who have excess spectrum. They should pay for it or return it. They have deprived others of the spectrum.”

 

In Mumbai, one of the eight suspects arrested on the charge of taking bribes to give real estate loans covers his face while being taken to court. (AFP) - at least remorse and regret, not at 'guilt' but rather at being finally caught ?!!

“It is ridiculous to imply that the incumbent GSM players are hoarding spectrum,” Vodafone Essar said in a statement today.

 

“There has been no violation of licence conditions in the allotment of additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz. No spectrum in excess of what was permissible has been granted to any mobile operator,” Vodafone added.

Spectrum is a stack of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation necessary to offer any form of wireless services, including mobile telephony. The Tatas use code division multiple access (CDMA) technology as well as GSM.

However, Tata found an unlikely ally in Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications (R-Com) — another telecom player that largely uses CDMA technology — which also accused the old GSM operators of snagging spectrum for free between May 2008 and March 2009.

 

A Raja - still confident of using the DMK tail to wag the Congress and UPA dog, while the national ex-checker lost billions - maybe not any longer ?!!

“They (the old GSM operators) did not even pay for excess spectrum at the old rates. Reliance Communications and the Tatas have consistently raised this issue with the department of telecommunications,” the Anil Ambani group company said.

 

R-Com was also taking a sideswipe at the comptroller and auditor general’s recent report which said that some of the new telecom players had bagged spectrum out of turn by paying prices that had been fixed in 2001.

Swan Telecom — one of those new telecom entities —– initially had R-Com as one of its shareholders. On Monday, telecom minister Kapil Sibal referred its case to the ministry of corporate affairs to unveil its true antecedents.

Bharti Airtel — Asia’s largest mobile service provider which claims a subscriber base of over 200 million in 19 countries — chose to remain silent even as the furious debate polarised players along the fault lines of technology.

At present, GSM and CDMA operators get 4.4 MHz and 2.5 MHz of start-up radio frequencies, respectively, when they pay the licence fee. The allotment for GSM operators rises to 6.2 MHz on attaining a certain subscriber threshold.

However, in some circles, including Mumbai and Delhi, Vodafone and Airtel were granted as much as 10 MHz of spectrum in order to provide fault-free services to a very large subscriber base.

India has allotted 100 MHz of spectrum to GSM players — 25 MHz spectrum in the 900 MHz band and 75 MHz in the 1800 MHz band. In contrast, it has allotted only 20 MHz in the 800 MHz band to CDMA players.

Airtel has 168.8 MHz in the 22 circles in which it operates — giving it the largest share of radio waves in the country. Vodafone has 143.6 MHz in the same number of circles.

Reliance has 97.5 MHz in the 800 MHz CDMA band while the Tatas have only 80 MHz. Both also have some spectrum in the GSM frequencies after they decided to straddle both technologies.

Since the radio band allocation is restricted to a telecom circle, there is multiple counting of the same band when toting up a player’s total allocation of radio frequencies.

GSM players, who started operations in the early nineties, have often been accused of being inefficient users of spectrum. Most studies show that CDMA, which entered the country almost a decade later, is a far more efficient user of the radio waves.

Vodafone today tried to twist the efficiency argument on its head.

“The CDMA spectrum has the capacity to serve at least 4 to 5 times more subscribers than GSM. It is the CDMA operators who are under-utilising spectrum as they are using it at levels far below the efficiency of the GSM players,” said Vodafone.

The Tatas have always maintained that they were deprived of spectrum in the crucial Delhi circle even though they should have got priority over R-Com in the allocation of spectrum.

Tata moves to protect privacy – Petition in court against disclosures – desperate to save the business reputation of the country ?!!

 

Ratan Tata - smiles prematurely, trying to safeguard the National Business Integrity or just his own hide ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH LEGAL CORRESPONDENT

 

New Delhi, Nov. 29: Tata group chairman Ratan Tata today moved the Supreme Court seeking to restrain the broadcast and publication of purported conversations between him and lobbyist Niira Radia who is under investigation in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

The petition, filed through corporate lawyer Ryan Karanjawala, said that the tapes could be used for investigative purposes but should not be made public as it “infringed” on his “right to privacy”. Senior lawyer Harish N. Salve will argue the case at the next hearing scheduled for tomorrow.

This is possibly the first time a high-profile industrialist has moved the Supreme Court seeking to protect his privacy. Actress Monica Bedi had earlier moved the top court on this ground after her purported photographs in a prison shower were published. The court had then restrained all publications from publishing the photographs.

But in Tata’s case, the tapes are already in public domain. At best, the court can restrain any repeat publication of the transcripts of the tapes.

The tapes are part of the 5,851 calls intercepted allegedly by the income tax department and the enforcement directorate as part of investigations into the 2G scandal. Tata’s petition may also prompt the government to take action to prevent any more leaks. The government today ordered a probe to establish how the contents of the tapes were leaked.

Tata has also demanded that the court direct the government to take action against those who were responsible for the leaks.

The purported conversations give the impression that Tata was not too keen on having DMK leader A. Raja as telecom minister, expressing his preference for Dayanidhi Maran.

Tata Teleservices was one of the contenders for 2G licence and Radia handled the company’s public relations.

In his petition, Tata contended that intercepts of the conversations between Radia and him violated his right to privacy.

The Supreme Court had earlier held that the right to privacy was part of the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution. Tata said that the recorded conversations should have been used for investigation alone and should not have been published.

His petition said that he was not challenging the government’s right to investigate the 2G scam but only the unauthorised publication of the transcripts.

The Radia tapes feature purported conversations she had with several journalists, politicians and industrialists, apparently trying to lobby for cabinet berths for particular parties. The tapes have been circulating on the Web and have been published by two magazines.

Raja has had to step down in the aftermath of the scam. The CBI has already registered a case against unknown companies and individuals. However, the Supreme Court has panned the agency for dragging its feet on the probe.

Reacting to Tata’s petition, the counsel for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO that has called for court monitoring of the CBI probe, said he would contest the Tata plea.

“We are seriously considering filing an application in the Supreme Court to ensure that there is no injunction against these tapes and these recordings are put out in public domain,” lawyer Prashant Bhushan said. “These are not private conversations. These are conversations between a lobbyist and her clients… bureaucrats, journalists and ministers. These show glimpses of all kinds of fixing and deal-making and show how the whole ruling establishment functions. There is enormous public interest in putting these tapes out. It is absurd for Mr Tata to say that this is an invasion of his privacy,” he said.

The CBI today filed a status report in the court on the 2G scam. The agency said it would take some more time to probe the case and would question Raja as and when the need arose.

The CBI said it did not intend to investigate piecemeal and needed more time to complete the probe. The case will be heard tomorrow.

Govt probes tape leak – self regulatory body trustworthy enough, maybe not by a long shot ?!!

 

Illegal phone tapping - too unethical to even consider ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

 

New Delhi, Nov. 29: The Centre today ordered a probe into the leak of lobbyist Niira Radia’s purported phone conversations allegedly tapped by the income tax department.

The home ministry announced the probe on the same day Tata group chairman Ratan Tata moved the Supreme Court demanding action against people responsible for leaking the contents of tapes. The Radia tapes feature purported conversations she had with journalists, politicians and industrialists, including Tata.

A home ministry spokesperson said the order for the probe, which will be conducted by the intelligence bureau and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), was issued today.

However, a senior ministry official claimed that the directive had nothing to do with Tata moving the court. “This is just a coincidence that the order has been issued today. The decision to order a probe had been taken several days ago,” the official said.

Although the intelligence bureau was mentioned, the CBDT will be investigating the case on its own. The CBDT has been claiming that it had tapped Radia’s phone with the permission of the home ministry.

Of the 5,000-odd of Radia’s conversations that were tapped, 104 were leaked over the past couple of weeks.

Tata, in the petition today, said the leak infringed upon his fundamental right to life, which includes right to privacy. Tata has made the central government a party in his petition. The transcripts that have been leaked include Radia’s conversations with several journalists and a former bureaucrat who is now an MP.

Tata has named the home secretary, CBI, income tax department, department of telecommunication and the department of information technology as respondents in the petition.

The hearing will resume tomorrow.

Adviser suspended – and so the pruning begins ?!!

The government today suspended Santokh Singh, a law ministry legal adviser who was till recently posted with the telecom department and associated with the controversial affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.

In the affidavit, the department had denied allegations that it ignored the advice of the Prime Minister, finance secretary and the law ministry over allotment of spectrum and said all licences were given “as per law and in keeping with the extant policy and procedures”.

Singh, a joint secretary-level officer, was suspended after a probe was ordered into his role in advising the telecom department in spectrum allocation.

“Since the probe ordered against him is unlikely to be completed before his retirement, he would get provisional pension… he would not retire gracefully,” said a law ministry official. Singh has two more months of service left.

The Indian legal service officer was transferred back to the law ministry a few days ago.

EARLIER

Pages go missing from Adarsh file – desperate attempts at mysterious cover-ups ?!!

 

Ashok Chavan - former Maharashtra Chief Minister - not as innocent as he makes himself out to be ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SADAF MODAK

 

Mumbai, Nov. 27: The urban development department has filed a complaint of theft of several pages from a file on the Adarsh Housing Society amid allegations that the papers were stolen to shield officials involved with the high-rise scam.

Officials at Marine Drive police station registered a case of theft and attempt to destroy records against unknown persons after Gurudutt Vajpe, a secretary in the urban development department, complained that the papers were taken away from the office without permission.

The complaint, filed yesterday, said pages 15, 97, 99 and 297 were missing from the notings of the correspondence department in the urban development ministry.

The file, from which the pages are missing, relates to the period between August 30, 2009, and November 1, 2010, when former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was in charge of the urban development department.

Chavan had to step down on November 9 after allegations of involvement in the scam at the housing society, where flats meant for Kargil war widows were allotted to relatives of politicians, defence officials and bureaucrats.

A senior CBI official today claimed it was the agency that first found that certain notings related to the final phase of the scam had gone missing and had brought it to the notice of the state government.

The CBI, Mumbai, has started a preliminary inquiry into the scam, and collected documents from various state departments, including the Mumbai collectorate and the urban development department.

Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y.P. Singh, who has filed a public interest litigation in Bombay High Court on the scam, said the papers could have been stolen to hide manipulation of documents.

“The scam involves falsification of documents and papers. For certain officials, it would have been less perilous to have the files removed than them being investigated for forgery,” Singh said.

Singh had earlier filed a complaint with the state anti-corruption bureau and urged it to launch criminal proceedings against former chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and IAS officials, including Ramanand Tiwari.

Tiwari’s son Onkar is among the 103 persons who were allotted a flat in the Colaba high-rise.

The 31-storey building, originally meant to have six floors, has also been found to have violated coastal regulation zone laws and floor space index rules.

Prithviraj Chavan, who replaced Ashok Chavan as chief minister, retained urban development along with housing and general administration.

Tata seeks probe into real scam – ‘Stop banana republic attacks’ – lashing out at any and all criticisms while the ‘aam aadmi’ remains ignorant and kept that way on purpose ?!!

 

Ratan Tata - lashing out at critics for being not forceful enough ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU

 

Nov. 26: Ratan Tata has said the government should bring in an auditor to investigate the real 2G spectrum allocation scam so that the “banana republic kind of attack” can stop.

Breaking his silence on what he termed “character assassination”, Tata told NDTV: “I wish the government would take a stand, bring (in) an auditor… and have an investigation (after which it can) book people who are guilty of something. But stop this sort of banana republic kind of attack.”

The interview, conducted by mediaperson Shekhar Gupta in his Walk the Talkprogramme, airs on Saturday.

Tata was upset with “the character assassination” that had followed the report of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) on the out-of-turn 2G spectrum allocation in early 2008 and the circulation of the so-called Niira Radia tapes.

The tapes feature purported phone conversations lobbyist Radia had with politicians, journalists and industrialists, including Tata.

Tata said the whole objective appeared to be to throw a “smoke screen behind what is really the so-called scam which really is out-of-turn allocation of spectrum, hoarding of spectrum by important players for free and things of this nature”.

Tata was referring to the way in which then telecom minister A. Raja had issued 122 telecom licences in January 2008 to nine companies along with 2G spectrum at prices that had been fixed in 2001.

Tata made no mention of it but the CAG report had said nine existing operators were allotted spectrum beyond the upper limit as specified in the Unified Access Servicing Licence. All nine operators are established early birds in the telecom market.

The CAG report had said the department of telecommunications had no qualms about doling out spectrum to the existing players beyond the contracted limit without any upfront charges being imposed.

Tata referred to the Radia tapes featuring the purportedly tapped conversations as “unauthorised” but did not elaborate.

The alleged phone-tapping has always been attributed to the income-tax department but it has not been established with certainty if the interception had been done with authorisation by the government.

On Monday, the CBI filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying it had asked the income-tax department on November 26, 2009, to provide the complete recordings along with “the original permission letter of MHA (ministry of home affairs) for interception”.

The CBI affidavit details how the recordings were eventually handed over but does not refer again to the “original permission letter”.

Tata said he was troubled by the way the mood in the country had gone from exultation to despair in a matter of a few weeks since President Barack Obama’s visit. “It’s a murky time… I think it’s a bad time,” Tata said.

“Just a couple of weeks ago, we were sitting … on top of a summit with President Obama showering praise on what we had done… talking of us having emerged and not being an emerging force. (Since) then, we have slipped into a series of allegations, unauthorised tapes… the media going crazy… alleging, convicting, executing.”

Tata deplored attacks on the “basis (of) unsubstantiated” (information), without considering “every Indian’s right, namely to be considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law, not on the street… not in this way.”

Ten days ago, Tata had said his group had to abandon a plan to float an airline in 1996 because he wasn’t comfortable with the idea of offering a Rs 15-crore bribe to a minister.

The Tatas had secured an approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to rope in Singapore Airlines as its partner in the venture. However, the plan was scuttled after the minister allegedly persuaded the then cabinet to pass a notification.

Raja probe poser to CBI – CBI a ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’ suspicion now proving itself in desperate times till the Congress loses all power ?!!

 

CBI - Central or Congress Bureau of Investigation - impartial or party biased ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH LEGAL CORRESPONDENT

 

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The Supreme Court today wondered why A. Raja and two top telecom officials had not been questioned over the 2G spectrum allocations, saying the CBI was “beating around the bush” despite the CAG’s revelations of several irregularities.

“You have said 8,000 documents have been examined. Still, you are beating around the bush. Why has no one has been questioned. It (questioning the former telecom minister, his telecom secretary and another official) is the minimum expected from the CBI,” a bench of Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly and Justice G.S. Singhvi said, a day after declaring that they would ensure an “honest” probe.

Justice Singhvi, the senior judge on the panel, pointed out that the CBI had information that Swan Telecom had transferred its licence to others for Rs 5,000-6,000 crore within a few days of getting it. “It would have brought at least Rs 9,000 crore (to the exchequer). The CBI had this information.”

Justice Ganguly underscored the CAG’s importance and the irregularities it had brought to the fore. “The CAG has a very important position under the Constitution. It is an authority set up under the Constitution. If such an authority gives such a report, any reasonable person will question the minister and his secretary.”

The criticism of the CBI came during a hearing on a petition filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has sought monitoring of the probe either by the court or a team of officials of impeccable integrity.

Opening the arguments, CPIL’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the CAG report showed criminal misconduct by those involved in the 2G spectrum allocation. “The CBI should have arrested or interrogated some persons. But no critical persons have been arrested or interrogated so far.”

Bhushan cited the CAG report’s findings that the Trai Act had been flouted in the spectrum allocations, and that the advice of the finance minister and the Prime Minister to refer the matter to a group of ministers, ignored. This, he said, had caused losses to the exchequer in terms of lost spectrum fees.

Auction would have been the best way to fix spectrum prices but Raja and his officials gave it to telecom firms on a first-come first-served basis, Bhushan said. However, even that was changed later in a way that those who gave bank drafts first got the licences first.

At this point, Raja’s counsel T. Andhyarujina interjected, arguing that the minister only entered the scene after May 13, 2007.

Justice Singhvi brushed off his arguments and instead asked the CBI why no FIR had been registered against “the specific two companies (Swan and Unitech) identified in the CVC report”. “An FIR has been lodged against unknown companies and persons. But they are not unknown,” he said.

K.K. Venugopal, the CBI counsel, argued that the information so far was “too little”. But the judges asked him to file a probe status report by Tuesday.

Sleuths to question former minister – working for the interests of the Indian population at large or just for those currently in power ?!!

 

The Supreme Court of India - the last vestige of Impartiality in India ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI

 

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is planning to question former telecom minister A. Raja and some officials of his erstwhile department to verify information thrown up by the quiz of lobbyist Niira Radia.

“We have found some discrepancies relating to the transaction of Radia’s companies with some telecom companies. We will soon question A. Raja and some DoT officials who were close to him,” an ED official said on Thursday.

The directorate has launched an investigation to ascertain if there was any violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the sale of spectrum in 2008.

The ED will also issue summons to telecom companies involved in the case. “We are preparing the list of people to be summoned,” the official added.

Officials said they had recorded the statements of representatives of two telecom companies but wanted to examine all the seven companies alleged to be involved. “The two companies submitted over 3,000 pages of documents which are being examined,” the official added.

The directorate has sought from the CBI the files and other papers the bureau had found during raids last year.

ED officials today examined the bank transaction details provided by Radia, who was questioned yesterday. “We need more documents from her to find out the mode of payment between her firms and telecom companies,” an official said.

MEANWHILE

Sonia & 80 forgo pay – not at all a long term wise move, indicating subconsciously that the ruling party is proving that ‘corruption money’ is enough – no real martyrdom on display here ?!!

 

Sonia Gandhi - under tremendous stress - a difficult balancing act to follow where she can kill the corruption snake and yet preserve the Congress stick ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AND PTI

 

New Delhi, Nov. 26: Congress president Sonia Gandhi and around 80 other party MPs today offered to forgo their daily allowance for the period that Parliament remains paralysed.

The “no work, no pay” line is an attempt to mount moral pressure on the Opposition, which has not allowed the House to function since November 10.

Each MP gets Rs 2,000 as daily allowance for attending Parliament. One big reason the Opposition has not boycotted Parliament so far is that members would lose this allowance if they did not mark their attendance.

The Congress has 207 Lok Sabha members and 71 Rajya Sabha members.

More are expected to follow the example of the 80 who wrote to the Speaker today, saying they had no moral right to claim allowance when Parliament was not working.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal said the Congress president “supports and favours” their decision.

“This is, however, their individual decision. They have decided that that they will not take their daily allowance from November 10 till the end of this session on days Parliament remains disrupted. The loss to the exchequer due to disruptions in Parliament is very painful. We should follow the principle of no work, no pay,” the minister said.

Rahul Gandhi is among the MPs who wrote to Speaker Meira Kumar.

However, Congress ministers are not making the offer because they get a separate allowance that is not linked to Parliament’s functioning.

The BJP dismissed the Congress move as a “diversionary tactic”. “It is a sheer diversionary tactic by the Congress to say ‘no work, no pay’. We demand JPC and we will not relent until JPC is announced,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

Cong waits for Sonia shake-up – but endemic and rampant corruption culture, that’s far too delicate a matter for the nation to digest ?!!

 

The Indian Congress dilemma - Congress sycophancy at its worst looking for an alternative ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SANJAY K. JHA

 

New Delhi, Nov. 25: The Bihar debacle has brought into sharp focus Sonia Gandhi’s reluctance to act tough on the organisational front with many leaders pointing to the delay in constitution of the working committee as one stark example.

The AICC meeting after the completion of the organisation polls earlier this month was called with the specific purpose of electing the working committee members.

But no election took place and the party authorised Sonia to constitute the 24-member highest policy-making body. Senior leaders had said the exercise would be completed before the AICC plenary in December.

But the apprehensions among some entrenched players that they could be adversely affected in the shuffle prompted them to delay the constitution of the CWC.

Although going to the plenary with the old team will be an oddity, there are enough hints that the organisational shuffle had been put off for the new year.

This exercise, in which ministers with the dual charge of AICC general secretaries were to be replaced with full-time office-bearers, was originally supposed to be held soon after the 2009 parliamentary elections.

The delay shows how some leaders managed to preserve the status quo despite Sonia’s intentions to set the house in order. Many general secretaries who joined the government in May 2009 entreated her to be relieved of the party work but the shuffle did not happen.

General secretary Mukul Wasnik, who was given the difficult task of handling Bihar, is also a minister in the Manmohan Singh government. Prithviraj Chavan, who has been sent as Maharashtra chief minister, held several portfolios, including the demanding job of minister of state in the PMO in addition to being general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana.

Some leaders feel persisting with such arrangements for over a year either demonstrates lack of talent in the party or the high command’s apathy towards pressing issues.

The appointment of new state presidents, too, has been pending. Although some states got new chiefs recently, many have been waiting for the decision. For instance, Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradeep Balmuchu resigned soon after the Assembly elections last year but the ad hoc arrangement is still continuing.

In the AICC media department, no replacement was given for the most experienced spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi who was shunted after the Kerala lottery controversy. This impacted the party’s communication system so badly that cabinet minister Kapil Sibal had to be drafted in to defend the government in the 2G spectrum controversy and Sonia herself had to step in to confront the BJP on corruption.

Sources said Sonia was always hesitant in taking tough decisions. An analysis of the high command structure for the last 10 years shows most organisational shuffles have just been musical chairs, with the same faces getting different responsibilities again and again.

Her inability to create new and younger leadership has forced the party to muddle along with jaded or incapable leaders.

The fate of organisational apparatus in states has been no better.

Now the Bihar results have come as a shock and demoralised party workers throughout the country.

One leader said workers from Madhya Pradesh have been complaining to Sonia about the pathetic state of the organisation. They have warned her several times that the state was another Bihar or Uttar Pradesh in the making. But the state continues to be in the hands of Suresh Pachauri, who is eager to return to Delhi politics for a year now.

Govt puts no-PM chip on table – the warning bells or a shot over the bows ?!! a ‘no confidence’ vote next if only the opposition was more united ?!!

 

India's situation for the yet to be educated - simple 'True or False' questionnaire ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY SANJAY K. JHA

 

New Delhi, Nov. 26: The Opposition wants a joint parliamentary probe not to find out the truth about spectrum allocation but to insult the Prime Minister, the government said today, explaining with some clarity for the first time why it has been rejecting the demand so far.

“Sushma Swaraj and Gurudas Dasgupta clearly said at the all-party meeting that they wanted to summon the Prime Minister. What role has the Prime Minister in this scam? Why do they want to insult the institution of the PMO?” parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal asked.

The government is neither running away from a debate nor blocking investigation, he said, but the Opposition was interested only in drawing political mileage. The Congress today got its MPs to decline their daily allowance for the period that Parliament is paralysed. ( )

Bansal further said: “They (the Opposition) wanted to look into the Niira Radia’s tapes to find out who influenced the selection of A. Raja as telecom minister. Can any committee be set up to examine cabinet formation? Has it ever happened in the world?”

Asked if the government would allow a JPC probe if these two demands were abandoned, the minister said: “We cannot respond to hypothesis. Right now, they want the JPC for these purposes, which is impossible.”

The government is planning to call another formal meeting for negotiations.

Sources said there was a view in the government that Parliament’s ethics committee or parliamentary committee could examine the Radia tapes if the members so desired.

“If the members think it is a breach of privilege that the selection of a minister was allegedly influenced by journalists or corporate houses, these committees can look into the issue. All journalists mentioned in the tapes and the corporate people can be summoned for interrogation and a report can be submitted to Parliament. The government will accept that proposal,” a senior minister said.

This is one option the government is looking at to break the Parliament impasse.

Another concession it is willing to offer is an opportunity to seek answers from the Prime Minister during a debate on the 2G scam. Although it is not mandatory for him to do so, Manmohan Singh can respond to specific queries.

MEANWHILE

Allies by side, Cong aims RSS gun at rival – on the blame game ruse yet again ?!!

 

Speaker Meira Kumar receives a memento sent by US President Barack Obama for Parliament on Monday. (PTI) - at a timing when India is catching up to its corruption scandals lash-backs or kick-backs ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU AND AGENCIES

 

New Delhi, Nov. 29: The Congress today fortified its position by getting all UPA allies to reject a joint parliamentary committee on the 2Gscam and began digging up the BJP’s scandals to weaken its posturing on corruption.

In a move to isolate the BJP from secular Opposition parties, the Congress claimed it was proceeding under instructions from the RSS and that the Left and other parties had fallen prey to their designs.

“They have the direction of the RSS…. Their demand for JPC is politically motivated,” parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal said.

Another minister said other rival parties could be demanding a JPC, but they did not seem to be with the BJP in disrupting Parliament.

“The Left is also seeking a JPC but it is not joining BJP in disrupting the House. BSP members also do not join them when they go into the well…. It’s only BJP which is… not agreeing to any suggestion other than JPC,” he said.

As the Centre’s assessment that the Parliament deadlock would resolve after the Bihar polls proved wrong, the Congress decided to take the BJP head on to expose its double standards on corruption. Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari dragged in Chhattisgarh’s Raman Singh regime and the B.S. Yeddyurappa government into the row.

“Pushp Steel was set up on June 2, 2004 in Delhi and applied for prospective lease of iron-ore mines in Kanked in Chhattisgarh the same day. This company had no mining experience but was awarded licence,” Tiwari claimed.

“Delhi High Court declared that process illegal on July 20, 2010. The fake steel firm is backed by top BJP leaders. I dare chief minister Raman Singh to reveal the names behind it.”

Tiwari also alleged that a firm owned by Yeddyurappa’s son-in-law had got Rs 2.5 crore from a person allotted a 123-hectare iron-ore mine by the government, a clear case of quid pro quo. This was in addition to illegal land deals involving the chief minister’s family, he said.

The Congress also sought the BJP’s response to Arun Shourie’s claim that Venkaiah Naidu was fielded ahead of him in a Rajya Sabha debate under pressure from corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

“In Tehelka, we saw deal-fixing. Now the BJP’s contribution to national discourse is debate-fixing,” he said.

Congress leaders said they would expose the BJP on telecom if a debate took place in Parliament. They claimed the BJP wanted a JPC to avoid a debate before the nation.

Speaker Meira Kumar has convened an all-party meet tomorrow to discuss the deadlock, but the Congress leadership’s aggressive posturing indicates there is little chance of a breakthrough.

“The sole design of the BJP and its unholy alliance with the Left is to destabilise the government… and not to stem corruption in the polity. The Centre is committed to do so,” Bansal said.

After Parliament remained deadlocked for the 12th working day, the Congress held a lunch meeting with UPA allies. All the allies, including Trinamul, DMK and the Nationalist Congress Party, backed the government’s “no JPC” position.

Trinamul, which had earlier said it was not opposed to a JPC if it was required to break the deadlock, today said the BJP and CPM were “in an unholy nexus” to destabilise the government.

CRIME WATCH: Youth found dead in police lockup – Cops claim suicide, relatives allege torture

CRIME WATCH: Youth found dead in police lockup – Cops claim suicide, relatives allege torture – it all adds up, maybe Nicole Tamang was also murdered and the coverup story of escape ‘a big fat lie’, including the cold blooded murder of Madan Tamang by CPM moles just before the territory talks in Delhi ?!! All to Bengal’s CPM advantage ?!!

 

Congress supporters demonstrate at Pradhannagar Police Station (Kundan Yolmo) - so what is behind all this failure, apathy or criminal neglect or criminal conspiracy ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

 

Siliguri, Nov. 29: A 30-year-old youth was found dead in the lockup of Pradhannagar police station this morning, sparking protests from Congress supporters and local people who alleged that he had died because of police torture.

Police said Gautam Pal, a resident of Prakashnagar here, had hanged himself in lockup bathroom.

The protesters blocked Hill Cart road two times, first in the afternoon and then at night. During the second blockade, the relatives and neighbours of Gautam arrived near Gurunbusti with his body.

According to sources, Gautam was arrested, along with his friends Rajkumar Roy and Jaswant Singh, on Friday after a motorcycle went missing.

“Rajen Sonar, one of Gautam’s friends, had borrowed Rs 7,000 from him three months ago and had mortgaged his motorcycle. On Thursday, Rajkumar and Jaswant took the two-wheeler from Gautam for an errand,” said a resident of Prakashnagar. “The duo returned at night and told Gautam that somebody had lifted the bike. Gautam immediately went to Pradhannagar police station to file a complaint.”

But the police refused to accept the complaint, as he was not the owner of the motorcycle. The next day, Gautam went to Sonar and told him about the theft.

However, Sonar was not ready to buy the story and lodged a complaint with Pradhannagar police, accusing Gautam of lifting the bike.

The police picked up Rajkumar and Jaswant first and then Gautam, suspecting that they had sold the motorcycle to someone and cooked up the theft story. The trio were produced in a court on Saturday and remanded in three-day police custody.

Brother contests claim

“Around 6am today, I received a call from the police station and was told to reach Siliguri District Hospital where my brother had been admitted in a serious condition,” said Gautam’s brother, Jiten.

“When I reached the hospital, I found him dead and the police told me he had committed suicide. I believe my brother cannot kill himself and he died because of police torture. We want action against the inspector-in-charge and other policemen who were on duty last night.”

The police sources said Gautam, a bachelor who used to work as an LIC agent, had tightened a noose around the neck with his trouser and hanged himself from the ventilator of the bathroom.

Jiten, accompanied by a lawyer, lodged a complaint with the same police station to demand a probe into his brother’s death. The body was handed over to the family after post-mortem at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.

As the news spread, Congress workers reached the police station, along with relatives and neighbours of Gautam, Rajkumar and Jaswant. They shouted slogans demanding the arrest of the inspector-in-charge and other policemen. At 1pm, the agitators, numbering around 100, came out of the station and disrupted traffic on Hill Cart Road.

When the blockade was going on, former Darjeeling district Congress president Shankar Malakar and deputy magistrate Achinta Das reached the police station at 3pm and held a meeting with Kunal Agarwal, the additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, and other police officers. Half an hour later, Malakar came out and announced the authorities’ assurance of a fair probe.

“We have talked to senior police officials and demanded a judicial inquiry and action against those who were responsible for Gautam’s death in 24 hours. They have promised an investigation and considering people’s inconvenience, we are withdrawing the road blockade. We will meet the police officers after 24 hours and if there is no progress in the probe, we will lock the police station and intensify the agitation,” said Malakar.

The road was blocked once again for 30 minutes from 7.30pm with Gautam’s relatives and residents of Prakashnagar reaching Gurunbusti with his body. A police contingent, led by the circle inspector of Bagdogra, Gautam Ghosh, managed to convince the agitators that the police were looking into the case with “utmost seriousness” and dispersed the crowd.

SP orders probe

D.P. Singh, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling, said a probe would be conducted and reports had been sought from the senior police officers.

“We are not downplaying the custodial death. We have been told that he was found hanging in the bathroom of the lockup,” he said. “Nevertheless, we have sought separate reports from the ASP and the DSP and based on their findings, necessary action will be taken. There is a CCTV camera in the lockup and we will check the footage.”

Night call leaves driver dead – the real estate criminal ‘ Commie Congie’  nexus and thus the obdurate, parochial and colonial Bengal stand – quite corrupt to the core ?!!

 

The spot where the body was found. (Nantu Dey) - the current land mafia also responsible for the mms suicide scandal regarding her father's land grab attempt before ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

 

Raiganj, Nov. 29: The body of a 24-year-old driver who had been called out from his house here last night reportedly by his friends was found along the national highway this morning.

Two days ago, a group of men had called on a construction material supplier in a similar manner and when there was no response from him, they fired almost 10 times at the house before leaving, a witness said.

The injury marks on the body indicated that Sujit Das had been murdered, said police. The police also said they were aware of the firing at the businessman’s house, which had been targeted twice in two days. The first attack was on November 25.

Sudhir Das said his son had Rs 10,000 on him when he was called out of the house in Asokepally by two of his friends at 8pm yesterday. Sujit was supposed to pay the money to the owner of the truck that he drove.

“Before he could wash up, two of his friends came and called him out of the house. Sujit told us that he had to visit the ailing father of another friend and left home. He did not return at night and we did not look for him. I know the two friends but don’t know where they stay,” said the father.

Early this morning, Sudhir heard that the body of a youth was lying near FCI More on NH34. He went to the spot, about 500 metres from his house, and identified the body as his son’s.

Inspector-in-charge of Raiganj police station Sujit Ghosh said the youth was hacked and his head was bludgeoned with a stone. “We have sent the body for post-mortem and we are looking for the killers but we have not arrested anyone yet,” Ghosh said.

He added that no money was found on the body.

On November 25 and 27, a few youths fired at the house of the material supplier and fled the area.

“I was returning home on Saturday around 7pm when five youths on two motorcycles rode past me near Rajiv Gandhi More. They stopped in front of the house of a construction material supplier, called out his name and when there was no response, they started firing at the building. I heard around 10 rounds,” said Nibaran Majumdar, a resident of Milonpara.

“We have come to know that some youths had fired at the house of a businessman in Milonpara on two days. We have identified the gang,” said Ghosh.

BRIEFS FROM THE REGION

BRIEFS FROM THE REGION

Good Morning: Hello, It’s Tuesday , November 30 , 2010

Mizo students hold placards during a rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday against the Moti Bagh gangrape case (Prem Singh) - the case of a Nepali girl gang-raped and concern about the similar looks and disgusting and sinful lust of the desi Indian male ?!!

From The Telegraph

 

Hunger strike for jobs

Jalpaiguri, Nov. 29: Four tribal youths started an indefinite hunger strike on the premises of the district primary school council today, demanding their immediate appointment as contract teachers.

According to the agitators, all residents of Banarhat in Dhupguri block, they had appeared for an interview in a school at Chamurchi near Banarhat in April. They were also empanelled for the job. Later, they learnt that the selection had been cancelled. DPSC officials, however, said no fresh recruitment could be carried out immediately owing to some government orders. The district magistrate has been informed about the protest.

Gaur panic

Jaigaon: Two adult gaurs and a calf entered Dharanipur Tea Estate in the Dooars on Monday morning, spreading panic among people. The animals entered the garden from the nearby Diana forests. In the evening, foresters from the Jalpaiguri wildlife division steered the gaurs back to the forest by bursting crackers.

Protest

Balurghat: Members of the Janawadi Forward Bloc waved black flags at the state minister for jails Biswanath Chowdhury on Monday to protest alleged irregularities by the members of the committee of the regulated market here. The minister had come to inaugurate 70 stalls at the regulated market.

Awards

Siliguri: State backward classes welfare department will give Dr B.R. Ambedkar talent awards to SC and ST students of all districts in north Bengal who have passed the Madhyamik examinations with good marks this year. The programme will be held at the Siliguri Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday. Ministers Asok Bhattacharya, Paresh Adhikary, Ananta Roy and Jogesh Burman will distribute cash prizes and certificates to the students.

Ganja seized

Siliguri: Khoribari police arrested a person from Gondogoljote on the Indo-Nepal border on Monday and seized 60kg of cannabis from him.

Northeast Briefs

Servant arrested

Guwahati, Nov. 29: Bharalumukh police arrested domestic help Ram Babu Mandal alias Vijay, 25, on Monday for allegedly attempting to rob his employers after drugging them at their Athgaon residence last evening. olice said the accused had drugged his employers but could not take away any cash or valuables because the neighbours caught him.

Minor dies

Dhubri: Mofida Khatoon, 11, of Bhalukmari village in Goalpara district died on the spot when a speeding truck knocked her down while she was crossing the road near Alomganj market on Monday.

Man injured

Dhubri: Ewan Ali Sheikh, 60, was seriously injured when a speeding Savari car hit him at Kumarganj under Tamarhat police station on Sunday night. Sheikh was returning home on a bicycle from Kumarganj market, a police source said.

Shop locked

Dibrugarh: Brihattar Asomiya Yuva Mancha locked M/s Saakshi Motors, a Hero Honda showroom in Tinsukia, on Monday on allegations of over-billing.

Vendors stage Darna

Guwahati: Vendors at the Kacharighat bazar today staged a dharna rotesting the lesse system of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) nd decided to boycott paying daily fees until the corporation handed over the responsibilty to the market committee.——(EOM)

National Seminar

National seminar on Policy Perspective in Education, to be held on December 8 and 9 at department of education, Dibrugarh University. For details, contact Daisy Bora Talukdar, co-ordinator of the seminar, and reader, department of education, at 9435130847 (M), 0373-2370248 (O). Scientific seminar at Dr J.K. Saikia Homoeopathic Medical College, Club Road, Jorhat, from 9am. Assam Rifles to host a daylong seminar on Stopping Extortion at Ukhrul town hall from 10am.

Theatre

Join Purple Theatre, a three-month course on personality development, through theatre technique. Be a part of a play to be staged at the end of the course. For details, contact 94350-48444 or log on to http://www.purpletheatre.com

Handloom

Annual National Handloom Expo at Naga Shopping Arcade, Dimapur, from 10am.

Meet

A citizens’ meet organised by the People’s Learning Centre at Raitong Building in Shillong at 1pm. First traditional medicine health camp organised by the Martin Luther Christian University and the Society for Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge and Practices at U Soso Tham Auditorium, Shillong, 10am.

NATIONAL BRIEFS

FIR on Arundhati

New Delhi, Nov. 29 (PTI): Delhi police today filed a sedition case against writer Arundhati Roy and Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani for their “anti-India” comments at a seminar last month.

A Delhi court had on Saturday asked the police to file an FIR against the two. The order came on a petition which alleged that they made anti-India speeches at the October 21 seminar, Azaadi — the Only Way.

CIC rap

New Delhi (PTI): A central information commissioner has rapped Delhi police for not providing for over two years the viscera report of a patient whose kin had moved the Delhi Medical Council alleging death by negligence at a private hospital. K.K. Sharma had filed the complaint after his wife died.

Ayodhya suit

Lucknow : Allahabad High Court today issued a notification for finalising a decree on Ayodhya title suits based on the verdict of a three-judge bench which had ordered trifurcation of the disputed site. The petitioners are to file objections or suggestions within six working days.

LoC gesture

Jammu (PTI): Army officials on Monday repatriated a Pakistani youth who had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control in Poonch district and entered India. The army also gave gifts to Faisal Mehboob, an official said.

Miracle birth

Dehra Dun (PTI): A woman gave birth to a child while dying in a bus accident. Police said Savitri, 25, and her nephew Sonu, 22, both died after their bus overturned in Uttarakhand’s Udhamsingh Nagar district. At least 20 others were receiving treatment in hospital while the child remained in good health.

Indian attack

Melbourne (PTI): Two men stabbed a 31-year-old Indian cookery student after he finished work in a South Yarra bar early in November. The student who did not want to be named underwent an emergency surgery and had 26 stitches in his punctured bowel after the attack on November 5, AAP reported on Monday.