Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pressure will be on India: Imran Khan

Kolkata, March 26 (IANS)

Pakistan's World Cup winning captain Imran Khan feels that India will be under pressure when they clash March 30 with their arch-rivals in the high-voltage cricket World Cup semi-final in Mohali. 

Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup triumph in 1992, feels that the side which handles the pressure better will win but added that India will be under more pressure on their home ground.

'It will be an even match. Actually the game will be about handling the pressure. Whichever team handles the pressure in a better way has the best chance of winning the match,' said Imran, on the sidelines of a promotional event here Saturday.

'I am not playing any mind games. But as India are playing on home ground, the pressure will be definitely more on them,' he said.

Both countries have not played each other since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and the 58-year-old feels that the consistent Indian team is the favourite to win the World Cup.

'The Indian team has the best opportunity of winning the World Cup this time given its track record and consistent performance,' Khan said. 

Darjeeling gearing up for assembly polls

Siliguri, March 26 :

 Darjeeling which has witnessed violent agitations for the past two years for separate Gorkhaland state, is gearing up for the first phase of Bengal assembly polls, scheduled April 18.

With most political parties announcing their nominees, candidates began submitting their nominations Thursday for the six assembly seats at stake from the area. The last date for nominations is March 31.

Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) Deepa Chettri became the first candidate to file her nomination Thursday. She will contest from Kurseong.

The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the separate Gorkhaland state agitation, Thursday released its candidates list.

Former Andhra Pradesh chief secretary and GJM's Study Forum member Trilok Dewan will contest from Darjeeling, Professor Rohit Sharma will contest from Kurseong, and the GJM's press and publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chetry will contest from Kalimpong.

The GJM's rival, the Subhas Ghising-led Gorkha National Libaration Front (GNLF) had earlier announced the names of three candidates, including a woman, for Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong seats.

Bhim Subba, Prakash Dahal and Pemu Chettri will contest as GNLF candidates from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong respectively.

The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) March 24 declared the names of the candidates for six assembly seats in Dooars, the Himalayan flood-plains and foothills, and Terai.

Sukra Munda will fight from Nagrakata, Sandip Ekka from Kalchini, Dipak Kujur from Kumargram, Tez K. Toppo from Malbaazar, Hiralal Minjwill from Madarihat and Thomas Ekka from Phansidewa, ABAVP leader Binod Tigga said.


Naqvi slams Congress for 'neglecting' development of Indian Muslims


Guwahati, Mar 25 :

The BJP slammed the ruling Congress for its brand of 'hypocritical secularism' and accused the party of neglecting the development of Indian Muslims in Assam to serve the interests of immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh.

Hitting out at the Congress for its purported neglect of the issues of the indigenous Muslim population, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pleaded his party’s commitment for the development of the community.

"BJP is committed to facilitating rapid socio-economic development of Indian Muslims in Assam whose interests have been severely affected by ruling Congress' policy of appeasement towards immigrant Muslims from Bangladesh," he said as the BJP tried to woo Muslims before next month’s polls.

He informed that about 500 indigenous Muslims joined the BJP at Sivsagar in eastern Assam yesterday and termed it a positive development for the party.

"Muslims all over the country have realized the hypocritical secularism of Congress that has been a major hurdle in the path of socio-economic development of the minority community. Congress has exploited them only for votes," Naqvi alleged.

He added that Muslims in Bihar are now turning towards the BJP as was evident in the last elections and this would have a positive bearing across the country.

Naqvi stressed that the BJP wanted all the illegal Muslim migrants from Bangladesh detected and deported from Assam in the greater interests of indigenous Muslims of the state.

He also reiterated BJP’s stand for providing protection and security to ‘Hindu refugees’ who had to flee Bangladesh to escape persecution there.

"The case of Bengali speaking Hindus who had fled to Bangladesh from India for their life must be considered on humanitarian ground," he said.

The BJP leader alleged that the last ten years of Congress rule put Assam in the ICU "infiltration/insurgency, corruption and unemployment. I now appeal to the people of Assam to bring the state out of the ICU."


Muammar Gaddafi looks to 'friends' in West for solution: Report

Cairo/Tripoli, March 26 : 

Muammar Gaddafi is in talks with Western "friends" to find a "dignified solution" to the conflict that is gripping Libya, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Saturday.

The regional daily quoted official sources as saying the Libyan leader is relying on these unnamed figures to convince the international community to halt air strikes and find a negotiated solution.

The paper said Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, has left the country to work out an "urgent plan" to prevent a further deterioration of the political and military situation.

A high-level Libyan delegation headed by parliament speaker Muhammad Abul-Qasim Al-Zawi arrived in Tunisia earlier and is now heading to a secret destination for further talks, the paper added.

Meanwhile, the US and other Western nations are considering supplying the Libyan rebels with weapons, according to the Washington Post.

Defying Gaddafi's forces, the rebels have been receiving military training at a camp set up by the opposition National Council in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

A fierce battle continued overnight between the rebels and Gaddafi's forces for control of the town of Ajdabiya, to the east of Benghazi. The fight for Ajdabiya and Libya's third largest city of Misurata has been going on for days.

The continuing ground battles prompted the African Union Friday call for a transitional period that would lead to democratic elections in Libya. The AU and African states such as South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have called for an end to coalition airstrikes.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance had "taken on the responsibility for the no-fly zone, while the coalition still continues its activities". NATO was expected to take command of the entire operation, including protecting civilians on the ground, in the coming days.

Since March 19, a US-led coalition that includes Britain and France has taken out Libyan air defences and ground forces in order to prevent attacks on civilians.


Indian team arrives in Chandigarh

Chandigarh, Mar 26 :

The Indian cricket team, led by skipper M S Dhoni, arrived here today amid tight security ahead of the World Cup semi-final against Pakistan to be played in Mohali on March 30.

Indian players, including Sachin tendulkar, VirenderSehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir were taken from the airport to hotel Taj amid tight security.

Security personnel were deployed on both sides of the road from Chandigarh airport to the Taj hotel.

Pakistan team, which reached here yesterday, was also staying in the same hotel. 

The hotel had virtually turned into a fortress with heavy security in and outside the building. Over 1000 police personnel had been deployed to provide security to the two teams.

David Cameron challenges Nicolas Sarkozy to a game of tennis

London, Mar.26: British Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly challenged his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy to a game of tennis.

'Fitness fanatic' Cameron said he would team up with British No.1 Andy Murray and urged Sarkozy to find a French partner.

The impromptu conversation between the two leaders took place as they jogged around the Royal Park in Brussels during a European Union summit, which opened in London on Thursday.

Cameron said: “Nicolas and I had a good run around the park. I practiced some of my French, which is very bad, but we managed to have a good conversation, mainly about Libya and what we are doing on making sure we work very closely on the next steps forward."

Sarkozy had gifted Cameron a set of tennis racquets last summer, reports.

It is not clear whether Sarkozy has accepted the challenge or not.


US Jesuits agree to 166 million dollar sex abuse pay-out

Washington, Mar.26 :

The Pacific Northwest chapter of the Roman Catholic Church's Jesuit order has agreed to pay 166 million dollars to settle more than 500 Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools sexual abuse claims against priests.

Former students of Jesuit schools in five states of the north- west United States said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.

Under the settlement the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, which runs schools in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, will also apologise to the victims.

"It's a day of reckoning and justice, my spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better," said Clarita Vargas, who claims that a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in Washington had abused her and two of her sisters.

Most of the alleged victims were Native Americans and many of the alleged offences occurred on native reservations and remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.

Blaine Tamaki, a lawyer who represented about 90 victims in the case, said: " No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith."

"This settlement recognizes that the Jesuits betrayed the trust of hundreds of young children in their care," Tamaki said. "These religious figures should have been responsible for protecting children, but instead raped and molested them," he added.

The payout amount to be given is one of the largest till date, in a series of sexual abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church, BBC reports.

Earlier, the Jesuits had filed a bankruptcy protection in February 2009 as litigation over sexual abuse claims was mounting. Keeping this in mind, the agreed settlement amount will now be filed with the US Bankruptcy Court in Portland, Oregon, on March 29.


Tamil Nadu polls: Karunanidhi, Traffic Ramaswamy and the 2G shadow

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: March 26, 2011 12:48 IST


It's not just the opposition onslaught on the 2G spectrum scam that DMK chief Karunanidhi will have to tackle this election season. A popular social activist, Traffic Ramaswamy, is contesting against the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister as an independent candidate in his rural constituency Tiruvarur. His agenda - to explain the 2G spectrum scam to rural voters.

Traffic Ramaswamy may not make any significant impact on the voting, but he wants to make a point.

"They are responsible for the 2G spectrum scam. I am going to expose it," he says.

The DMK says this is just a publicity stunt and that the activist may not even retain his deposit.

"There is no truth in the 2G spectrum scam. We have not been found guilty,"   says Karunanidhi's son MK Alagiri. The scam saw DMK leader A Raja resign as Telecom Minister in November; he was arrested in February.

Karunanidhi has won nine times from the DMK's bastion, Chennai. This is the first time since 1962 that he is not contesting the elections from there. Analysts say his homecoming to Tiruvarur was perhaps due to the worry that spectrum scam could dent its urban vote bank.

But with Traffic Ramaswamy preparing to highlight the issue of corruption, the 2G shadow clearly refuses to disappear

BJP state unit President hits out at Karunanidhi's criticism of Election Commission


Chennai, Mar 26 :

The Tamil Nadu state unit BJP president Pon Radhakrishnan today took objection to DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's remarks flaying the Election Commission (EC) for conducting searches and seizing money meant to be distributed to voters.

Replying to newspersons questions after releasing the party's manifesto for the April 13 Assembly polls here, he said the EC should take action against MrKarunanidhi for his remarks critical of the Commission.

"Not only the district collectors, the EC should change the Chief Minister also," Mr Radhakrishnan charged, welcoming the strict guidelines imposed by the EC to prevent money and muscle power in the polls.

"Why should Mr Karunanidhi fear EC's action if he has nothing to hide," the BJP leader asked and wanted it to bring in more stringent norms to curb the use of money power in the polls.

BJP National Secretary Muralidhar Rao, who was also present, said Mr Karunanidhi had chosen to contest from Tiruvarur as he would have felt that Chennai city was no more a secure place for him to face the electorate.

Accusing the Congress and DMK of being steeped in neck-deep corruption, he said corruption would be a major campaign plank of the BJP in the coming polls.


BJP promises free laptops, fixed deposits in Tamil Nadu

CHENNAI: Free laptops, stationery for students, sanitary napkins for women and Rs 1, 00, 000 deposit for female child born in a below poverty line ( BPL )) family... the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has offered all this and more in its manifesto for the Tamil Nadu assembly elections . 

Releasing the manifesto here Saturday, the BJP's Tamil Nadu chief Pon Radhakrishnan told reporters that the party will give pens and pencils to students at the beginning of the academic year and at the time of final exams.

The party has even promised laptops for all plus-one, plus-two and college students.

Refuting to describe them as freebies, Radhakrishnan said: "Students are not voters and so they are not freebies."

The party has also promised free medical check up for below poverty line families in the state. Sanitary napkins will be distributed free for women through ration shops to improve their personal hygiene.

The BJP has also promised extension of benefits enjoyed by minority educational institutions to all institutions irrespective of religion.

It has assured to strive to get 205 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of Cauvery water from Karnataka, where it is currently the ruling party, and also promised protection of Tamil Nadu's interests in the Mullaperiyar dam dispute with Kerala.

A separate budget for agriculture and also other promises for the farmer's welfare have been made.

The BJP has promised to protect the interests of Indian fishermen and prevent attacks by Sri Lankan navy on them.

The BJP is contesting 194 seats in the 234-member state assembly. The DMK and the AIADMK have also made such promises in their manifestoes.