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    By Shaik Zakeer Hussain,,

    Tiruvannamalai: When this correspondent received a mail from the Society for Welfare of Leprosy Patients and Rural Development (SWLPRD), the last thing he expected was to find himself at its office in Tiruvannamalai in next few days. First I had never heard of SWLPRD or its activities, neither I had any clue where Tiruvannamalai was. And being born and raised in Bangalore, leprosy was the word, which had almost been obliterated from our mind. I had never met a leprosy patient in my life and had no clue what to expect.

    "Welcome to Tiruvannamalai," said Mr Alagesan. "I was expecting you to be a 40 year old man, but you are too young, very good."

    Mr Alagesan is the founder and president of SWLPRD. He runs the society with the help of his wife A. Valarmathi and a quinquagenarian woman volunteer. After greeting both the ladies at his home door steps, I was directed to his office on the first floor. The office is made up of one desk, couple of chairs and posters symbolizing various religions and religious figures. There is one, half a decade year old HCL computer, which when turned on, the monitor screen 'shakes' ceaselessly.

    Brothers Charles and Sudhakar.

    He told me that he is a B.Com graduate, though he seemed to have spoken fairly good on the phone, I soon realized he had difficulty understanding my questions and I on the other hand, equipped with only an ability to understand a layman's Tamil, was set on a difficult conversation.

    Both Mr Alagesan's and his wife's parents had been leprosy patients. Carelessness and lack of medication had left them deformed and crippled from an early age. His father had spent the last 20 years of his life in a government run leprosy centre under horrible conditions; his mother too had passed away under similar circumstances. Seeing the difficulty faced by their parents and the suffering of many more families in his town, the couple with a help of few leprosy afflicted patients and with Rs. 500 started the Society for Welfare of Leprosy Patients and Rural Development in the year 1992.

    "At first we started with helping out 5-10 patients and then we came in contact with a large number of afflicted people," he said. According to his survey, there are 250 cases of leprosy in Tiruvannamalai alone. 250, he says are only those he has met, there are a large number of the population whose cases he is still not aware of.

    Mr Alagesan then drew a ledger book to my attention, which had the names, addresses, age and the severity of the disease written down in Tamil. He said that most of these patients get basic treatment through the funds he receives for his organisation. "Dr. Ramalingam, who is in-charge of leprosy eradication in the state, visits these patients once every month to treat them. If their case is major, then I recommend them to the government run hospital in Karigiri, where they get free treatment," he said.

    Daily wage labourers in the field.

    Some five kilometers away from Kilnatchipattu village is Malappan pody. We were here to see, what Mr Alagesan told me were the youngest known leprosy patients in the district.

    Charles is a 15 year old son of a daily wage earner mother and a by-cycle repairer father. All the fingers on his feet are completely amputated and the skin has started to rot emanating a repulsive smell. His open wounds are surrounded by flies and most of the time he just sits on a concrete slab outside his house. His 11 year old brother Sudhakar's condition is no better. Unable to walk, he came dragging himself to meet us, leaving a trail of blood along the muddy compound.

    Ayuthi (left) with Mr Alagesan (right).

    We met their mother, who works as a manual labourer close by, under the central government run Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme. Mr Alagesan says that under this scheme many villagers, including Charles and Sudhakar's gets at least 100 days of paid employment a year at the minimum wage of 100 Rs. per day.

    Both her sons, she says contracted the disease when they were only two or three years old, "At first the wounds were small and we didn't realize what it was, until it had started to spread all around the body".
    Negligence and lack of awareness about the disease is the two main reasons, why it gets worse, Mr Alagesan says. Social stigma is another reason, why most people with leprosy try to confine themselves to their houses.

    Leprosy is caused by the organism Mycobacterium leprae. Though easily curable, without proper medication it can leave those affected with disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage and progressive debilitation. Though many believe that it is transmitted by droplets from infected persons when they sneeze or spit, new studies have revealed that most affected people are naturally immune to the leprosy bacteria.

    Ayuthi with the cow provided by Mr Alagesan.

    Tamil Nadu has one of the highest reported cases of Leprosy in the country. The National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) March 2013 report shows that there are 3550 new cases reported for the year 2012-2013. While the incidence of new cases is dropping significantly in the country, in Tiruvannamalai and in many parts of the state it continues to be virulent.

    73 year old Ayuthi contracted the disease, when he was 26 years old. When he was thirty two, he says, he visited a native healer in Trichy, who crushed some wild leaves against the wounds and lit fire to it. Every day of his life for the past forty seven years, he has lived a "disfigured" life. "He is still unmarried," says Mr Alagesan .

    "I don't run a destitue home for these people, what I do is provide them access to treatment and help them live a dignified life," he says. Mr Alagesan has undertaken many supportive projects in the past, which were funded by such institutes as the St. Francis Leprosy Guild, London and others. He recently started providing the disease afflicted families and individuals with a goat or a cow to enable them to live a financially independent life and not being dependent on others and worse still get down to begging. Though the funds have slowed down in recent years due to global financial crunch, he says he is expecting generous fundings during this month of Ramadan.

    Contact details:

    Society for Welfare of Leprosy Patients and Rural Development

    No. 2, Sambuvarayar Nagar, So-Kilnatchipattu Village & Post,
    Tiruvannamalai – 606 611, Tamil Nadu, S.India.


    Phone: Mr Alagesan 9597161518

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  • 08/02/13--03:08: Give Justice Another Chance
  • By Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam,

    The court verdict on July 25 and sentencing of Shahzad Ahmad on July 30 in the infamous Batla House encounter case has too many gaping holes in it. As some of the crucial issues involved were overlooked by the judge, justice must be given another chance at it.

    We have been dismayed by the judgment. We, as the minority suffering most from police prejudice and excesses, do not feel reassured to see the police version being endorsed by the court without giving a proper consideration to the written argument by the defence lawyers.

    It is encouraging to know that already the defence has prepared to go in appeal to the High Court. Rightly so, as all the six witnesses in the case were police personnel. Curiously, even they had not seen anybody getting into or out of the Batla House flat during the siege or firing, or soon after it.

    The point is, how did Shahzad escape unscathed from the flat surrounded by heavily armed policemen during the encounter and go to a media house. He was arrested a couple of hours later several kilometers away from the encounter site. At the time of the encounter he was not in Batla House, while the prosecution lawyer has been gloating over his achievement in “proving” that he was in the besieged flat during the encounter.

    Enigmas like no bullets recovered from the body of Inspector M C Sharma, who died from injuries sustained in the counter, nor any matching of it with the weapons supposedly used by those under siege. Shahzad’s impossible escape from the spot has been taken for granted by the judgment, a “fact” not supported even by the six witnesses, who had not seen anybody getting in or out of the flat.

    The six bullet holes in the centre of the top of the crown of the slain youth, Atif, leave everyone amazed as it is impossible to shoot somebody in the centre of the crown in an encounter. The only way of doing it is to force him to sit and shoot him from above.

    A number of such questions central to justice in the case, have been left unaddressed. The judge had also rejected the defence plea to visit the area to ascertain the impossibility of a cornered person escaping out of the flat.

    As the defence argument and facts have not been given a proper consideration, and the judgment has been merely an endorsement of the police version, the aggrieved must go in appeal to a higher court to complete the due process left incomplete in the judgment.

    At the end one must take note of Finance Minister P. Chidambram’s hasty endorsement of the judgment as justification for the police encounter. As lawyer he should know that it was a lopsided judgment of a sessions court most likely to be overturned by a higher court that would take into account all crucial issues overlooked by the lower court. We expect patience and dignity from important government leaders like Mr Chidambram, who happened to be the Home Minister at the time of the encounter.

    (Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam Chairman Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi.)

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    By Sheikh Qayoom, IANS,

    Srinagar : Would the creation of India's 29th state open the Pandora's box for the country's only Muslim majority state? Jammu and Kashsmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah believes it would.

    Reacting to the Congress' decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, Abdullah said doing so without a States Reorganization Commission would mean creation of a new state in the country by succumbing to agitational pressure.

    "This is definitely going to encourage those seeking statehood for the Jammu region. The decision has proved that an agitation for eight or nine years is all you need to make the centre bend", Abdullah had told mediapersons in summer capital Srinagar immediately after the Congress decision on Telangana was announced.

    The chief minister had also clarified that his government's administrative concessions to the far-flung and cold Ladakh desert region did not mean steps were being taken to grant it union territory status.

    The demand for such a status has been gaining ground in the Buddhist-majority region for over four decades.

    It was, in fact, to address the regional aspirations of the people of Ladakh, which comprises the Leh and Kargil districts, that autonomous hill councils were formed there to deal with the growing demand for union territory status. The demand for a separate Jammu state is as old as Kashmir's accession to India in 1947.

    The last autocratic Dogra maharajas belonged to Jammu. Ever since political power shifted to the Muslim-majority Valley after 1947, voices for a separate Vishal Dogra state started becoming stronger in Jammu.

    A day after the Telangana decision, Bhim Singh of the Jammu-based National Panthers Party issued a statement seeking statehood for the Jammu region.

    While many argue that Abdullah's statement was a genuine expression of his concern, some maintain that inadvertently he has echoed aspirations of those demanding statehood for Jammu.

    There are many constitutional and legal implications that cannot be brushed aside while agitating either for statehood for the Jammu region or union territory status for Ladakh. A debate is also doing the rounds in the state whether the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir would stand the constitutional test because the state's accession is determined by article 370 of the statute and one entity can't simply be removed.

    Its legality apart, the demands for statehood for Jammu or union territory status for the Ladakh region would make the task of the separatist Hurriyat leaders easier.

    Although the separatists seek the secession of the entire state from India, what they are actually aiming at is the Muslim-majority Valley where they wield political influence.

    "Giving in to the demand of a separate state or union territory status for any region of the state would focus and concentrate the separatist campaign for secession in the Valley," said a senior ruling National Conference leader.

    If Abdullah made his anti-Telangana statement with political hindsight, few should grudge him this.

    (Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at

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    By Mofiduzzaman Ebne Ghani,,

    Al Jubail City , Sauid Arabia: Syed Rasique Ahmad , Covenor of Bihar Anjuman(BA) said that 10 passenger air tickets have been provided to the needy Indian expatriates who have been suffering due new labour policy of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

    So far more than one lakh fifty thousand Indians have been given final exit from Saudi Arabia due to lack of work permit documents by the Saudi authority. More than 300 persons who do not have any legal work permit paper have been living in an open park in the eastern province Dammam city.

    Food and air ticket is being arranged by NRIs till the Saudi government authority clears the documents for final exit. The King has extended the date of grace period till November, 2013 after that any people found in kingdom of Saudi Arabia without legal documents will be put behind the bar.

    Syed Rasique ahmad was speaking on the eve of Iftar party organized by a prominent social worker and Operational Manger of NBC company Nasiruddin who happens to be also a member of Managing committee of International Indian School Jubail where 6000 Indian students have been studying.

    After iftar the program was started by recitation of Surah by Master Saiem. Mr. Abudl Haleem read Haditis and he translated the meaning in Urdu as well. This program was organized in Sadaf Company Beach Camp.

    Then Mr. Syed Rasique was called upon to address the audience. He shared the good news about those Indians who were in impasse for almost three months in official technical snag. He said, “we must congratulate the entire Indian Embassy volunteers for organized co-ordination among themselves and active participation of civil society who were anxiously pinning their hope on our endeavour”.

    Those people who have already boarded on 21st July & 23rd July 2013, the details are 2 x Lucknow (UP), 2 x Jaipur (Rajasthan), 2 x Gorakhpur (UP), 1 x Dharamshala (HP), 2 x Siwan (Bihar), 1 x Kolkata (WB).

    At Tarheel, the finger prints for 250 persons were completed in presence of Convenor of Bihar Anjuman Mr. Rasique Ahmad, Advisory Committee Member of Bihar Anjuman Mr. Shakil Hashmi with Mr. Ravi Goyel and Mr. Imdad, officers from Embassy of India, Riyadh.

    Till 24 July 2013 at Tarheel, exit process executed for more than 100 people. Exits has been awarded mainly to sick and old age group persons who were stranded at down town near Seiko Park. In the initial stage 110 food parcels were distributed, but now arrangement has been made for 100 food parcels to be delivered on daily basis till the exodus of Seiko Park will take place as final exit.

    He further said that the continious phone calls, emails from NRIs has boosted our morale and moreover, the well wishes and prayer has brought them sigh of relief. May Allah bless all in this holy month of Ramadan. He continued, It would be grave unjust if we will not reckon the names of our Indian Embassy Official, Riyadh who has provided all possible assistance.

    Mr. Rasique extended gratitude to His Excellency Mr. Hamid Ali Rao, Ambassador of India to KSA and entire staff of the Embassy and counselates, for being attentive and listening to the concern and hereafter mobilizing his good office to expedite and facilitate.

    The prominent Seikh Mazfooz Ur Rahman also gave leacture on “Believing and Executing the true senses of Responsibilities.”

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    By Ram Puniyani,

    A friend with dogged determination to show that the BJP is a lesser culprit of communal violence and that Congress is the major party to be blamed, listed the major communal riots in India and showed that most of the time when violence took place, it was Congress which has been the ruling party. He asks, so why get stuck with one episode of Gujarat violence and put it as a major point against Narendra Modi or BJP for that matter? Others also regularly point out that the role of Congress was no different in anti Sikh pogrom of 1984 in Delhi, when so many Congressmen were involved at various levels in anti Sikh pogrom. If Modi justified Gujarat by saying ‘every action has an opposite reaction’ Rajiv Gandhi also told us ‘when a big tree falls, the earth shakes’. So why single out Modi-BJP being worse than Congress on the scale of ‘who is more responsible for communal violence’.

    The story so far has been that in India the communal violence began with the British implementing the policy of ‘divide and rule’ and for achieving that they did introduce communal historiography, looking at Kings through the prism of ‘Kings’ religion’, this vision of history being taken up by the declining classes of landlords and Raja-Nawabs. These declining sections of society laid the foundation of communalism, Muslim and Hindu both. Hindu communalists blamed Muslim kings for temple destruction and forcible conversions, while Muslim communalists claimed that they were the rulers of the country. This distorted version of the past created an atmosphere of mutual hate amongst Hindus and Muslims. The communal violence gradually went up as communal parties, Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha along with other communal formations created an atmosphere of mutual hate. Still they did not get success in the electoral arena.

    During the British period while the blame can be put to the communal history introduced by British and their subtle moves to play one community against the other, the communal forces cannot be exonerated for their role in perpetuating violence. The police authorities that time played the role of a neutral observer. What is important here to see that there are multiple agencies that played different types of role in the tragedy of Hindu Muslim violence? The blame at this stage has to be apportioned to British policies (especially there introduction of communal historiography and the policy of ‘divide and rule’), to the communal forces in equal measures. At this stage the police-administration cannot be blamed for the role in violence.

    Things gradually started changing. After independence the role of Administration-Police gradually started becoming partisan. The research of Dr. V.N.Rai, police officer of repute, showed that no violence can go on unless the administration, political forces included, wants it that way. The major blame has to go to the communal forces, who not only kept on spreading canards against minority community but some of their elements used communal violence to polarize the community along religious lines. The polarization along religious lines did help the communal forces to consolidate themselves in the social-political and electoral arena. Many a politicians from other parties also sometimes used the violence to either retain the power or to come to power. The inquiry commission reports during this time uniformly tell the role of communal forces. Jagmohan Reddy Commission on Ahmadabad riots of 1969 talks of the active participation of RSS-Jansangh leaders, Jan Sangh is the previous avatar of BJP. Major blame has to go to these forces, though they were not in power.

    In Bhivandi Jalgaon riots of 1970 Justice D.P. Madon states that ‘section of Hindu elements particularly RSS and some PSP men were bent upon crating mischief, and they could succeed because of the passive police’. Justice Joseph Vithayathil on Tellicherry riots of 1971 points out that the anti Muslim propaganda was begun by RSS-Jan Sangh which changed the situation leading to communal polarization. In 1979 Jamshedpur riots, the report of commission of inquiry says that Samyukta Bajarangbalis Akhada Samiti, related to RSS was the one which deliberately created the dispute on the issue of route of procession and the members of Samiti raised anti Muslim slogans leading to violence. Justice Venugopal on Kanykumari 1982 riots makes the observation about the role of RSS in spreading rumors etc., the rumors acted as instigation to violence. Justice Srikrishna Commission also makes it clear that the BJP ally Shiv Sena’s role in Mumbai violence was very stark.

    So the question is if there is some ruling party, should it be totally blamed? The violence is an outcome of divisive propaganda, communal instigation, role of police and the attitude of the ruling party. They all have separate blames to take. While the ruling party, which has been Congress most of the places has to be blamed for its soft handing of violence, sometimes overlooking the violence, and sometimes being the active instigator as in the example of Delhi in particular. The role of police is very central. The police which was neutral at the time of British rule today has gone to become the most partisan player in this tragic phenomenon as seen in the Dhule riots of 2012 in Maharashtra. Here the role of the Hindu mob was not needed as police did the firing on its own and killed the hapless minority victims.

    So how do we compare BJP and Congress as far as communal violence is concerned? BJP is the political child of RSS. Communal propaganda, rumors, polarization, instigation and violence has been led by RSS combine from the front by this organization and its affiliates, the different progeny of RSS. Gujarat is the ‘total’ example, while in other episodes also it has played the crucial central role. Not being in power does not mean it has not played the central instigator role. This argument that Congress has been mostly in rule so it is to be blamed for violence has been cleverly constructed for propaganda purposes. While Congress cannot be exonerated for its role in the violence, its role cannot be compared with that of BJP in any sense. Barring one example of the tragedy of Anti Sikh violence, where the role of Congress was central, in other cases mostly its acts were that of omission, while BJP and company have central role in most acts of violence.

    Role of Congress in 1984 anti Sikh pogrom will be a permanent blot on its own inheritance of pluralism and secularism. It has tried to rectify it by apologizing for the same and its plural character is also reflected by its prime minister who is a Sikh, having the longest uninterrupted reign as PM after Nehru. As such BJP cannot be compared with any other political party as it is a political child of RSS, which is working for Hindu nation. Some social scientists have very well given the contrasting nature of the politics of Congress and BJP. Aijaz Ahmed points out that BJP is programmatically communal while Congress is pragmatically-opportunistically communal. Mukul Kesvan in one of his recent article says that Congress is inherently plural and is opportunistically communal, while BJP is ideologically communal and opportunistically secular.

    Notwithstanding the fact that communal violence is a multi-factorial phenomenon, two wrongs don’t make a right, Congress needs to tighten the total link from bottom to top, and rectify the factors which have been leading to communal violence. The communal propaganda, the laxity of laws, the impunity with which the guilty officers get away. It needs to bring in anti communal violence bill to see that this sub human phenomenon is put to rest. The propaganda emerging from RSS combine stable is totally misleading to say the least.

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    By TCN News

    Jaipur: Rajasthan Muslim Forum has demanded compensation of Rs. 25 lakhs for the family of Nasir, who died on police firing when Rajasthan Police stormed Tonk’s Chhawni Jama Masjid and fired teargas shells on police praying in there. The incident on July 12 this year injured more than 80 people.

    Today a protest was organized in Jaipur in front of Masjid Quraishian attended by Rajasthan Muslim Forum, Sadhbhav Manch Rajasthan, PUCL Rajasthan and Dalit Adhikar Manch. Er. Saleem of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said their struggle will continue till we get justice for the victims of Tonk police firing.

    Qari Moinuddin of Rajasthan Muslim Forum; Shaukar Qureshi, secretary of Muslim Musafirkhan; Ghulam Nabi, opposition leader of Muncipal Corporation, Advocate Farooq of APCR, Prof. Muhammad Hasan of Irada Society, Sawai Singh of Sadhbhav Mach, Rajendra Kumbhaj of PUCL addressed the gathering. From Tonk, Major Anwar, Advocate Khalifulah, Mohammad Ahmad of Tonk Waqf Committee and PUCL’s Mohammad Zakir also participated in the protest.

    The resolution passed at the gathering demanded immediate suspended of District Collector and SP and filing a criminal case against them. They also demanded a judicial investigation and monetary compensation to the family of Nasir who died in the incident.

    The speakers also blamed the government that their inaction at Sarada, Manohar Thana, Soorwal, and Gopalgarh.

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    By Alok Singh, IANS,

    New Delhi : Years before he became India's most wanted fugitive in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar was deeply involved in the cricket betting business and used to control the Mumbai betting market. After he fled to Pakistan, his lieutenants have been running his syndicate, says the Delhi Police charge- sheet in the IPL-6 spot-fixing scandal.

    "A close lieutenant of Dawood - Chota Shakeel's aide Mir Zahid alias Chote Miyan - used to run a club, namely Bharat Social Group from Nagpara, Mumbai from where the rates were fixed before Dawood and Shakeel fled from India in 1993," said the Delhi Police charge- sheet submitted before a court here.

    The disclosure about Dawood's betting links was made by arrested accused Feroze Farid Ansari, 37, from Mumbai, June 11, 2013. Ansari was one of the people nabbed during the probe into the IPL spot-fixing.

    Ansari used to control Dawood's betting market from Mumbai and was directly in contact with Javed Chutani, a Pakistan-based bookie who has been named in the charge-sheet. Ansari's arrest followed the interrogation of two prominent bookies, Tinku Mandi and Ramesh Vyas in June.

    Tinku Mandi controlled the betting syndicates of north India while Vyas handled the south Indian syndicates for Dawood, the 900-page charge-sheet said.

    A copy of the charge-sheet, obtained by IANS, says that Ansari was the successor to Chote Miyan, who was gunned down in 2009 in an inter-syndicate turf war between the Dawood and Chota Rajan syndicates for control over Mumbai's multi-billion betting territory.

    Earlier, Chote Miyan used to control the Mumbai betting market on behalf of the Dawood syndicate and used to begin business only after consulting Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel, who had by this time settled in Pakistan, the charge-sheet says.

    After Chote Miyan's death, Chota Shakeel had called Ansari and told him to look after the entire business being handled by him. Ansari was also told that Dawood and Shakeel would remain in the shadows and would not directly be operating in the market. Ansari was introduced to Javed Chutani, Rehmat, Ehteysham and other Pakistan-based members of the Dawood syndicate.

    Chutani, Rehmat and Ehteysham are among the 10 identified people named in the charge-sheet as absconding.

    A total of 29 people, including three Rajasthan Royal players - S. Sreesanth, Ajeet Chandila and Ankit Chavan - were arrested in connection with the IPL spot-fixing scandal.

    On July 30, the Delhi Police had filed its charge-sheet in a MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act) court in Delhi.

    (Alok Singh can be contacted at

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    By IANS and Israeli Embassy press release,

    New Delhi : Israeli Ambassador to India Alon Ushpiz hosted an Iftar dinner for over 60 prominent members of the Muslim community in India at the embassy here.

    Civil society figures, politicians, religious leaders, artists, scholars, business leaders and journalists attended the Iftar dinner on Thursday evening, said an embassy statement Friday.

    Ambassador Ushpiz quoted the words of the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, stating that "Ramzan is not only a holiday for you, but a celebration to all of us. After all, we are coming from the same family - the family of Abraham (Hazrat Ibrahim)". He added that "It is important to remember that by hosting Iftar celebration, we are not just reaching out to the Muslims of India, but also representing the Muslim community in Israel itself who constitute 18% of the population".

    After the crowd broke the fast with dates from Israel, Ambassador Ushpiz spoke of the ancient relationship and brotherhood between the Jewish and Muslim communities.

    He wished that this Ramadan brings peace and prosperity in West Asia, noting that that the peace talks between senior Israeli and Palestinians leaders had finally resumed after three years of deadlock and that the two delegations had celebrated Iftar together in Washington, the statement said.

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    The Union Minister made several announcements for development projects in all the Northeastern States, including Assam.

    By Abdul Gani,,

    Guwahati: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes on Friday reviewed the progress of National Highway works and other centrally sponsored road projects of all the Northeastern States at a meeting held at the Assam Administrative Staff College in Khanapara, Guwahati.

    Speaking at a press meet, Fernandes said that a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was held on July 18 last to review the status of development projects in the region and discussed steps to accelerate the same. The Prime Minister also took note of the various demands of the NE states, Fernandes said.

    Union Minister Oscar Fernandes (L) with DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar (R) during the review meeting at Administrative Staff College in Guwahati on Friday 2nd August 2013.PHOTO BY DHRUBA JYOTI BORO.

    DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar who was also present at the meeting said that an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) has been constituted to expedite infrastructure projects in the Northeast.
    The review meeting on Friday was held to discuss the issues and problems faced by the road projects implementing agencies, ie., the State Public Work Departments, Border Road Organization (BRO) and the National Highways Authority of India following complaints over delay in completion of the projects.

    Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Sathyanarayana Sarvey, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Nabam Tuki, Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh, Assam Minister for Social Welfare Akon Bora, Assam Minister for PWD Ajanta Neog, Secretary to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Vijay Chibber and Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam PP Varma were also present at the review meeting.

    The Union Minister made several announcements for development projects in all the Northeastern States, including Assam. He announced that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) has decided to carry out a feasibility study for the newly declared National Highway NH-127 B connecting Srirampur (on NH-31 C) to Phulbari via Dhubri including construction of a bridge over river Brahmaputra. Besides improving the connectivity for Assam, this would also provide an alternative shorter connectivity between Nongstoin in Meghalaya with West Bengal and will provide greater access to Assam and Meghalaya, the Minister said in his announcement.

    The MORTH has technically vetted the proposal of the Ministry of DONER for construction of a new bridge across river Barak to connect Silchar town as an alternative to the existing Sadarghat Bridge.

    He also announced that the MORTH has decided to widen the NH-37 between Numaligarh — Jorhat — Demow — Dibrugarh to 4-lane standards on BOT (Annuity) basis, and RFQ for the same has been invited.

    Secretary to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Vijay Chibber also announced that henceforth all works by PWD and BRO will be implemented under EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) mode instead of the conventional item rate contract system for effective implementation of projects.

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    By Hasan Zia Rizvi,,

    Lucknow: All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board has expressed concern over sectarian tension in old Lucknow and made a strong appeal to all concerned to maintain peace demanded the state government to enhance security in the area before Eid ul fitr.

    National Secretary of the Board Syed Babar Asrhaf in an appeal has said that the holy month of Ramadan makes every Muslim more tolerant and peace loving and in this month any kind of tension between two groups of the same Muslim community is condemned.

    It calls for scrutiny to assess what went wrong in old Lucknow that even the second day of the violence witnessed stone pelting even after flag march of local police and central forces. Syed Babar Ashraf said that it was the duty of the state government to ensure that no anti social element is allowed to disturb the peace of the city.

    He said Akhilesh Yadav government has been total failure in saving the lives and properties of Muslim community under its rule. After coming to power last year in March, this Samajwadi Party Government failed to control the communal elements and surrendered before the extreme forces in both the communities.

    The result of this policy can be seen in the number of riots which have taken place during these seventeen months.

    Communal violence and social strife has become the identity of this regime which was brought to power by the concentration of Muslim votes in favor of Mulayam Singh and Samajwadi party.
    This Lucknow incident involving Shia Muslims and followers of an infamous extreme extraterrestrial ideology was unwanted. Every stride to stop this from happening was most desired but the government failed miserably in controlling the anti social elements out to disturb the tranquility of the state capital.

    While Alvida namaz was offered in very tight security but after that few small clashes were reported in several areas. Police is still struggling to counter the rioters but they are unable to arrest the perpetrators of crime even after the evidences.

    On Thursday also there were reports of clashes, although no untoward incident has been reported.

    Meanwhile, Rihai Manch (Forum for the Release of Innocent Muslims imprisoned in the name of Terrorism)has demanded CBI probe into the sectarian clashes.

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    By Kaleem Kawaja,

    The judgement of a Delhi court convicting Mohammad Shahzad as a terrorist and branding him and his two friends who were killed in the police-staged false encounter, is one more travesty of injustice. The court judgement totally disregarded the evidence and the facts and instead pasted the pre-conceived police allegation that the few Muslim young men living in the alaprtment were planning a terrorist attack.

    How could Shahzad have escaped from an apartment on the fourth floor of a building which had no exit other than the front door that was guarded by several heavily armed policemen? Was Shazad a bird who flew out of the apartment at such a height in the building that had no escape route? The false allegations of the police, prosecutor and their acceptance by the the judge boggles common sense.

    By its bizarre judgement the said New Delhi court seem to confirm the slandering and stereotyping of the North Indian Muslim youth, especially the youth of Azamgarh. The U.P. Police unable to solve a string of terrorist attacks in the last few years have found it convenient to paste the terrorist label on the Muslim youth from Azamgarh.

    The harassing of Muslim youth from UP, Maharashtra and Hyderabad under the label of being sympathetic to terrorists is a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of these patriotic citizens of the nation. Police brutality against Muslim youth has taken a much more viscous turn in the last five years. In fact today it is the number one issue in the democratic and secular Indian nation that many Indian human rights organizations are focusing on.

    The Muslim citizens of the nation should launch a campaign against this awful and unjust harassment of the youth by the brutal police. Citizens' lobbies should appeal against the New Delhi court judgement and fight all the way to the Supreme Court to get this judgement overturned and Shahzad freed from jail and the good name of Muslim youth reinstated.

    (The writer is a Muslim community activist. He can be reached at:


    Batla house judgement: Questions remain as court accepts police version and their explanations too

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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: Mr. A. Sayeed, National President of Social Democratic Party of India(SDPI) expressed his concern over the current “untoward happenings with regard to the human rights of the nation’s citizens in general and Muslims in particular.”

    In times exceedingly many unfortunate reports have been hitting headlines. The NHRC Report on alleged fake encounter killings, the statement by S.R. Darapuri, Retd. IG, Uttar Pradesh, about the mystery of Muslim youths’ disappearance and their framing in bomb blast cases, and very recently the startling revelation by former under-secretary of MHA R V S Mani about the Parliament attack & 26/11 Mumbai attacks being sponsored by Government.

    “These upshots have shaken the largest democracy in the world and it’s very strange that till date there hasn’t been any official clarification from the governments,”he added.

    THE NHRC REPORT ON FAKE ENCOUNTERS: The last four years have witnessed heinous crimes of extra judicial killings allegedly committed by police, defense and paramilitary forces amounting to a count of 555, as per the National Human Rights Commission, in which about 138 killers are reported from Uttar Pradesh alone.

    S. R. DARAPURI’S STATEMENT - MANY MUSLIM YOUTH ARE IN THE CUSTODY OF INVESTIGATIVE AGENCIES: Through investigative agencies innocent Muslim youths are being kept at a secret place and are subjected to inhuman torture. Recently the retired IG of UP, while talking about the custodial death of Khalid Mujahid said that the investigative agencies unlawfully abduct, keep several Muslim youth into its secret custody and implicate them in bomb blast some time in future as well as the arrests made on the basis of mere suspicion as per convenience. The same indication was made by Ex-Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Mr. S.M Mushrif. The has made an intensive and wider search regarding illegal and long detentions, fake encounters, and false cases implicating a large number of Muslim youth in various parts of the country in connivance of Central and State security agencies. And the Justice Nimesh Commission report too has revealed the truth of the accused being innocent with concrete evidence. Such attempts of discrimination towards a particular community are not only catastrophic for the citizenry in general and Muslim community in particular.

    R. V. S. MANI’S STATEMENT ABOUT PARLIAMENT ATTACK & 26/11 MUMBAI CARNAGE WERE STATE-SPONSORED: Its extremely horrible to hear about the shocking disclosures made by the former under-secretary in the Union Home Ministry R V S Mani that the Parliament attack in 2001 and 26/11 carnage in Mumbai in 2008 were state-sponsored committed by the incumbent governments. Mani has said that Verma "...narrated that the 13.12.2001 (attack on Parliament) was followed by POTA and 26/11.2008 (terrorists' siege of Mumbai) was followed by amendment to the UAPA." It is even more miserable to see no any sort of clarification from the government, in wake of these statements. Shouldn’t the government decide about constituting a high level commission of inquiry to investigate all terror cases in which Muslims are being framed and maligned?

    ISHRAT JAHAN & BATLA HOUSE ENCOUNTER : The Party president expressed deep shock and dismay over the Batla House encounter case verdict by a Delhi court. The SDPI reiterated its stand that the Batla House encounter was fake and demands for a high level judicial enquiry into the incident.

    He said that the cognizances of the questions raised about the genuineness of the encounter were not taken and the police version alone has been relied by the court. He pointed out that the "input" for Batla House came from the same infamous IB special director who provided the fake inputs that were used for 17 fake encounters in Gujarat which are being probed now. Ishrat Jahan’s fake encounter in which a number of youths killed in cold blood staged by Gujrat Police and several IB officials and subsequently charge sheeted by CBI has brought a big dishonor to our nation’s secular system.

    The Party leaders said that several newspapers, blogs and articles had attributed the Parliament attack to be the inside job of RSS/BJP rule of NDA in order to impose black laws and play the politics of hatred. It was told that the so-called terrorists entered the 3 ring security of Parliament in an official ambassador car belonged to one BJP MP then!!! And it is even disgraceful about government not showing its sincerity towards its people in terms of answering the questions raised in connection with the incident. The Party leaders lamented that these unlawful happenings have really weakened our country’s secular system and its importance.

    It’s even hypothetical to know about the mysterious hands influencing the administration leading towards the regretful affairs. The unseen hands are diminishing the respects of our secularism and empowering the government agencies to more which are orchestrating the fake encounter killings. The peoples’ representatives have stopped raising voice against any injustice. Whom are they representing after all? The leaders questioned. Hafiz Manzoor Ali Khan-National VP, Majeed Faizy National GS, Afsar Pasha National GS, Adv Sharfuddin National GS, Dr. Mehboob Sharif Avad National Secretary and other Party leaders were present during the press conference.

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    By TCN News,

    Ahmedabad: Despite strong strictures by four or five statutory bodies commenting harshly on the complete breakdown of the rule of law in 2002, a breakdown that could be attributed not just to dereliction of duty but criminal negligence, the Special Investigation Team completely ignored contemporaneous investigations conducted by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) headed by former chief justice of India JS Verma in 2002. Worse, it did not take their detailed assessment after field visits to the state into consideration.

    The Zakia Jafri criminal complaint dated 8.6.2006 seeks to assign criminal culpability to this dereliction of duty that has been heavily and vastly commented upon argued advocate Mihir Desai in the eleventh day of arguments before the 11thMetropolitan Magistrate in Ahmedabad today.

    The SIT simply did not bother to record statements of Justices Verma or Justice Anand or the rest of the NHRC or even try and collect evidence from them. The NHRC had first issued notice, suo moto to the state of Gujarat on March 1, 2002, then after a formal hearing on March 6, 2002 actually conducted a field visit to the state of Gujarat between March 19-22, 2002.

    Thereafter it had sought a detailed response from the state government which was given in mid-April 2002 by then chief secretary Subha Rao (A-37 in the complaint). This response of the state government was strongly and adversely commented upon by the NHRC in its hearings in May 2002, said Desai. He also read out a letter addressed by retired high court judge Justice Divecha to the NHRC (attached) which exposed the complete targeted violence against members of the Muslim minority in Ahmedabad right from the evening of February 27, 2002. Finally Divecha’s home was torched and destroyed the next day as a complaint machinery watched. Justice Kadri a sitting judge of the High Court also had to flee and change homes for safety. (NHRC report link given below and Attached is the letter of Justice Divecha).

    The NHRC had first recommended transfer of investigation of major cases to the CBI following which citizens of Gujarat and Mumbai including Professor DN Pathak and Teesta Setalvad had approached the Supreme Court (May 2002) for transfer of investigation. The NHRC itself had sought the transfer of trials out of Gujarat. It was on this writ petition filed by citizens that the Supreme Court, in May 2008 finally appointed a SIT, it was pointed out.

    The NHRC, The CEC, the Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curiae all feel that there is ample evidence to put before a court for trial only the SIT wishes to close the case with no prosecution, Desai alleged.

    Arguments will now continue on August 12.

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    By IANS,

    New Delhi: Two groups from different communities clashed with each other after an argument over raising the volume of loudspeakers installed at their religious places here Friday, police said. Police has been deployed in the area to keep control.

    The incident happened at Nandnagri area in east Delhi around 2 p.m, when people from two communities gathered at their religious places located in the same area to offer prayers.

    An eye-witness told police that the volume of the loudspeaker installed at one religious place by a group was raised, which was objected to by the other group, sparking off an heated argument. A few minutes later, the situation turned ugly.

    "The people pelted stones on each other in which two people sustained minor injuries. The mob also damage a police vehicle," said a police officer.

    A case has been registered. No one was detained.

    "Policemen were deployed in the area and the situation brought under control," the officer added.

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    By IANS,

    Srinagar : The short message service (SMS) ban on prepaid mobile phones in Jammu and Kashmir seems ill-conceived since Twitter, facebook and other Smartphone facilities are freely available. A telecom firm executive said the ban was "irrelevant as a security exercise".

    Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) authorities say the ban has been imposed by the state government and not the union government.

    SMS facility on post paid mobile phones is available across the state, but with a rider -- you cannot send more than 100 sms messages from your mobile phone in a day.

    The SMS facility on prepaid phones was withdrawn in 2008 during the Amarnath land row agitation after the authorities said such a facility on prepaid phones, most of which had been provided to consumers by the service providers without any proper verification, was being used by anti-social elements.

    "SMS facilities were being used by anti-social elements for spreading rumours during the Amarnath land row agitation of 2008. It had become difficult to trace the miscreants because investigations revealed that most of the misused mobile phones had been sold to customers without any proper verifications," said a senior intelligence officer here.

    A petition filed before the state human rights commission had challenged the ban earlier this year, holding that since the situation had changed in Jammu and Kashmir since 2008 and as the Smartphone facilities allowed free dissemination of information through Twitter, facebook, WhatsApp and other such facilities the ban on SMS facility on prepaid phones had lost its relevance.

    The petition before the state human rights commission had said: "A Smartphone service like WhatsApp allows exchange of messages using only the internet data plan. It does not matter whether you have a prepaid or postpaid phone connection."

    "It also allows the creation of groups, unlimited messages, audio and video messages. In the wake of such a strong and powerful service being available freely to Jammu and Kashmir residents, it is beyond any sensible reason to ban the affordable SMS service on prepaid phones," the petition added.

    "Last year, Union Minister Sachin Pilot during a visit to Jammu and Kashmir had also said that people needed and deserved this service."

    After the various service providers came under strong criticism for issuing prepaid mobile phones without a foolproof verification process in the state, the service providers like BNSL, Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Vodafone and Reliance have put in place a strict verification process for issuance of SIM cards.

    "After we have started strictly adhering to a foolproof verification process the misuse of any SIM card can be traced within minutes. The rationale behind continuing the ban on the SMS facility in the state is not only technically irrelevant as a security exercise, it also puts our subscribers to unnecessary hardship besides affecting our revenues," said a BSNL executive here.

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    By Amulya Ganguli, IANS,

    Recent opinion polls confirm what the non-political layman has been suspecting - that neither of the two main parties will be able to secure a majority on its own in parliament. Another bit of conventional wisdom which has been borne out by the surveys is that this time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will pull ahead of the Congress in the race to be the first party in the Lok Sabha.

    What these generally anticipated outcomes indicate is that except for the fact of the BJP grabbing the top slot, nothing much has changed in the recent past. As a result, since 1989, coalitions remain the only means of forming a government at the centre.

    The corollary to this outcome is that while the Congress has declined from a high of 415 Lok Sabha seats (out of 543) in 1984 to its present sorry position where it is expected to get between 119 or 131/139 seats (down from 206 in 2009), the BJP hasn't been able to raise its tally by much from the 116 it won in 2009. The opinion polls have put its total at between 131 and 156/164.

    Two conclusions can be drawn from these figures. One is that the Congress has squandered the opportunity it received in the last two general elections, considering that it may fail to reach even its 2004 tally of 145 seats. It goes without saying, therefore, that it wasted the last 10 years by failing to consolidate its position.

    Before coming to the reasons why it slipped, a look at the BJP's performance can be instructive. The BJP's slippage occurred in 2004 when it dropped from 182 to 138. Then, it fell further to 116 in 2009, persuading one of its supporters, Arun Shourie, to describe the party as a kati patang (severed kite) and a prominent member, Jaswant Singh, to call for taking a relook at the idea of Hindutva. But, now, it is not only back on the field but is prepared to surge ahead of its main rival.

    Except for the fact that the BJP has run some of the state governments under it, viz. in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, fairly successfully, it hasn't done anything out of the ordinary to pip the Congress at the post. Instead, it faltered in Karnataka, thereby losing the state to the Congress, and failed to hold on to Bihar because of its rupture with the Janata Dal-United over Narendra Modi's elevation in the BJP hierarchy. Besides, its penchant for stalling parliament and opposing bills which it favoured when in power has exposed its cussed attitude.

    With its plus and minus points, the BJP might have been expected to remain more or less where it was in 2009 instead of pushing well ahead of the Congress. But, if it is expected to do so, the reason is that the Congress has stumbled. And the explanation as to why the Congress lost its footing is that the party has failed to make the transition from Indira Gandhi's "socialism" of the 1970s to the desperate recourse to pro-market policies by Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh in 1991 because of a balance of payments crisis.

    Between 2004 and 2008, the Manmohan Singh government has blamed the Left for its own failure to pursue the reforms. But, after the departure of the communists, it became clear that the real hindrance was from the unreconstructed "socialists" in the party, who have never been reconciled to the supposedly pro-rich reforms initiatives.

    The BJP has evidently taken advantage of the Congress's dithering on reforms by projecting its business-friendly poster boy, Narendra Modi. But, as the predictions show, the ploy hasn't taken the party far presumably because the spectre of the 2002 Gujarat riots still haunts him.

    Since the total number of seats of both the Congress and the BJP hardly add up to 300, it is the regional parties which are expected to have a field day. But, unlike in 2008-09, the Left isn't playing a major role in setting up a Third Front because of the presence of the Trinamool Congress in the group. As a result, there is talk of even a Fourth Front making an appearance.

    Each of these two combines will comprise parties which are at loggerheads with one another. For instance, if Trinamool is in one formation, the communist parties will be in another. It will be the same with the DMK and AIADMK or the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

    There are some parties, of course, which do not have mortal enemies, like the Biju Janata Dal, the Telugu Desam and the Janata Dal (United). But, in view of the virtual division of the regional parties into two distinct entities, the chances of any leader from among them striving to be prime minister - as the BSP's Mayawati did in 2009 - are dim.

    This will be advantageous, therefore, for the Congress and the BJP, which will have to focus on wooing some of these parties to their respective parlours. In this game of playing the suitor, the BJP is likely to be hampered by Modi's image.

    (03-08-2013-Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at

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    By Parthasarathy Chaganty, IANS,

    "At 66, Mother India gets ready for the 29th baby" - so ran the headline in a national daily, highlighting the Congress party's decision to carve Telengana out of Andhra Pradesh which will be the 29th state of the Indian Union in the 66th year of Independence. The modalities need to be worked out, which could take about four months, before the new state comes into being, but no difficulty is envisaged as the move has wide support across the political spectrum.

    The demand for a separate Telengana state is about half a century old with periodic agitations of varying intensity in its support. And it is more than three years since the government announced in December 2009 its firm resolve to address the issue. The Justice Srikrishna Commission, constituted in its wake, was not categorical with its recommendations but its report viewed bifurcation with disfavour, its preference being greater autonomy and increased resource allocation for the region within the ambit of the existing unified state. However, the government had not acted on the report and continued to dither, bedevilled as it was with multiple corruption scandals, apart from other preoccupations.

    With the general elections looming (due in May 2014), and fearing a rapid erosion of its electoral base, the Congress was probably desperate to get a move on and hence the sudden urge to grant statehood to Telengana. The party seems to have struck a deal with TRS (Telengana Rashtra Samithi), the force behind the latest agitation for a separate state. Even if the two parties do not merge immediately, they are sure to fight on a common platform and are expected to sweep the polls, capturing most of the 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 assembly seats that the region offers. It is a foregone conclusion that there will be a backlash against the party in the rest of the state, comprising coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, which account for no fewer than 25 Lok Sabha seats, besides 175 assembly seats. That the Congress has virtually given up on this larger area, being content with its prospective hold on Telengana, appears to be indicative of the party's low morale rather than any well thought-out strategy.

    In such a scenario, the clear winner appears to be Jagan (moniker for Jaganmohan Reddy), chief of the YSR Congress, the party named after his late father and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy. Jagan has the advantge of being consistent in his opposition to the formation of Telengana, unlike the major regional party, TDP (Telugu Desam Party), and the major national party, BJP. Jagan has been embroiled in corruption cases and may not even be able to contest elections as per a recent Supreme Court order, but that is not likely to come in his way. Notwithstanding the grandstanding of duly "hurt" Congress MPs and MLAs from this area, some of whom could in fact be resigning their seats, the Congress will have no alternative but to come to terms with him. He will acquire the kind of clout now enjoyed by Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati by virtue of their outside support to the government. If the Congress had been more accommodative of Jagan in the wake of his father's death and not driven him away from its fold, the party may not have had to concede Telengana, but history is not about counterfactuals.

    Arguments like smaller states being more amenable to effective administration are just academic. Issues like division of states will almost invariably be based on political considerations in a democracy. Thus, it is futile to deride the Congress' decision on Telengana as political opportunism. But a major concern here is that the main protagonist, K. Chandrasekhara Rao, chief of TRS, who is sure to wield enormous influence in running the fledgling state, at least in the initial years, is not known for his integrity or administrative experience. And his party seems to have thrived on extortion during the past few years, hence the nuanced agitation, which permitted the Congress to sit on the issue for years.

    People from Telengana have often complained about "loss of jobs". It is not that people from the region are at present discriminated against: what they want is a distinct preference for sons of the soil - and this is where the rub lies. A major national party like the Congress owes it to itself to check the parochial tendencies of its ally and ensure peace and harmony.

    Considering that Hyderabad, which will serve as a joint capital for the two states for the first 10 years and that the city is not even going to be a union territory in the interim period, people from Andhra could suddenly find themselves reduced to the status of second class citizens in the megalopolis, which has been home to millions of them. Every care should, therefore, be taken to ensure that Andhras do not feel alienated and there is no flight of capital or business from the city.

    The first few years are bound to be marked by turmoil, but it is to be hoped that Telengana, which is well-endowed in terms of natural resources, will eventually come to occupy a proud place among states and prove that the sacrifices made by thousands to realize the dream have not been in vain.

    (03-08-2013-Parthasarathy Chaganty is a Mumbai-based commentator who has worked as a management consultant. He can be contacted at

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    By TCN News,

    New Delhi: More than 300 signatories, mostly students from various institutions of Delhi have signed a memorandum sent to Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister and the Human Rights Commission over the recent Ramban massacre.

    A shameful memory has been added to the history of Kashmir, they add, when on the night of 17th July, BSF personnel had mishandled a local imam and desecrated the Holy Quran in a village in Ramban district. The following morning, a group of protesters had reached a BSF post but they were responded with an indiscriminate killing. The act of BSF was so careless and rude that as per 20th July 2013 Indian Express Front Page news, Superintendent of Police himself told that BSF fired suddenly and even he could have saved himself anyhow.

    “The incident known as the Ramban massacre is shameful and unacceptable. This shameful incident is also not a sudden reaction to the protest. There is every reason to believe that the security personals had sufficient capability to face the protestors but they decided to open fire on them as if they were mentally-prepared to take such action,” the letter reads.

    The Ramban incident prima facie appears to be a case of coercive method adopted by the security personals. This highlights the highhanded attitude of the security forces that they have acquired over a period time due to their absolute powers and the impunity granted to them.

    Not just this shameful incident, Kashmir and North-east is full of such shameful incidents by security personals of almost all wings, be it the army, CRPF, BSF etc. who regularly violate basic human rights.

    The memorandum was jointly written by the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign , Mission Bhartiyam, All India Students Association (AISA), Campus Front of India, Jamia Students Solidarity (JSS), Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA), People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and others.

    Signatories included more than 300 persons, mostly students from various colleges and universities of Delhi, including all those who took part in protest at Jantar Mantar on 21 July for the same demand. Still signature sheets are running in colleges.

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    Abdul Gani,,

    Guwahati: Even as the entire Assam is witnessing a series of protests for separate states, here is an umbrella organization which has launched agitation against separate Bodoland. Ana-Bodo Suraksha Samiti (ABSS), a body comprising non-Bodo people living in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) said that declaring Bodoland as separate state will not solve problems.

    ABSS has called a 36-hour Assam bandh from Saturday opposing the separate Bodoland agitation which hit the normal life in some parts of lower Assam after a series of bandhs by other groups.

    “We can never accept the proposal of a separate Bodoland at any cost. We do not want any more bifurcation in Assam. There are people belonging to other communities as well in the area, so how can it be a Bodoland. Besides, there is a case in Gauhati High Court regarding to leave out the 642 villages which have majority population of non-Bodo people. So, we want to sort out these issues,” said Jogeshwar Kalita, general secretary of ABSS.

    They are also planning a series of agitation to project their demand. On August 12 they will submit memorandum to the President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh citing their cause. They will also boycott the Independence Day celebration wearing black badges on August 15 in the entire state before organizing two massive rallies in Khanapara in Guwahati and in Bijni.

    On Saturday, the first day of the 36-hour bandh, police said that a private vehicle was set ablaze by bandh supporters at Salbari in Baksa district among other incidents. ABSS is a non-Bodo platform of 27 organisations in lower Assam fighting against the creation of a separate Bodoland carved out of Assam along the lines of Telangana.

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    Abdul Gani,,

    Guwahati: In a bid to realize the dreams of hundreds of meritorious students of northeast region who belong to economically backward families, ERD Foundation, which has already made a mark in the educational scenario of the region, has come forward to provide free of cost education.

    The foundation under which there are several higher education institutes are running in Assam and Meghalaya has decided to provide free education to 40 meritorious students who are from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

    ERDF Chairman Mahbubul Hoque (c) addressing the press on Saturday.

    “We will be glad if we will be able to help and realise the dreams of those students who, in spite of having the potentiality, could not continue their further studies only because of their financial hindrance. This has been our motive since we started the journey,” ERD Foundation chairman Mahbubul Hoque told reporters at Guwahati Press Club on Saturday.

    Accordingly, any poor student from any background who has acquired 60 per cent of marks in the qualifying exams will get admission in any of the institutes of the foundation. The entire course fee will be bear by the institute.

    “We invite the meritorious students to come to join us. We have seen there are plenty of talents in the rural areas of the state but due to the lack of financial assistance or exposure they cannot continue their studies. I hope if such students come to us, our dreams will be fulfilled,” Hoque added. The admission for the session will continue till August 28.

    So far, there are 400 students studying in different colleges of ERDF without paying a penny under this scheme. He also said hat out of 900 engineering students, 80 students are being provided free education.
    “Besides, we can provide various scholarships to those students if they are meritorious enough to meet these criteria. Our target is to give free education to at least 10 per cent of the students,” Hoque said.

    Meanwhile, University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya of ERDF has signed a MoU with HiTec Education Centre, Ireland for various research related works. It will open up scope for exchange of faculty, students, joint research programme and others.

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