Friday, June 3, 2011

Yemen's Special Forces capture tribal rebels, confiscate arms: agency

SANAA, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni Special Forces captured several groups of armed tribal rebels and confiscated a large quantity of weapons on Thursday, hours after they re-controlled four government buildings in downtown Sanaa, official Saba news agency reported.
"The special forces stormed the headquarters of the opposition key satellite television Suhail in Hassaba area, arresting many armed tribesmen loyal to the opposition tribal leader Sadiq al- Ahmar and confiscating a lot of weapons," Saba quoted an unnamed security official as saying.
Earlier the day, the Defense Ministry's news website reported that the Special Forces regained control of four government buildings which were seized over the past few days by armed tribal rebels in Sanaa.
"Following fierce battles overnight with armed forces led by opposition tribal leader, Yemeni Special Security Forces on Thursday managed to regain control over the official Saba news agency, the state-run Survey Authority, Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Tourism," the ministry said.
It said the Special Forces are continuing to cleanse the whole area of Hassaba district in downtown the capital from what it dubbed "the armed gang" of opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar.
Al-Ahmar, who is the chieftain of northern powerful Hashid tribes confederations, has been waging pitched street battles against the government forces since May 23 after President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered deal to ease him out of the power.
On Wednesday, the Yemeni government announced that the Special Security Forces also regained control over Ministry of Local Administrative, a branch office of Agriculture Ministry, Hassaba Police Station and the headquarters of the ruling party.
It said that after those government buildings were freed, the security forces found many dead bodies of northern Houthi-led Shiite rebels inside the buildings.
The 11-day-long battles in Hassaba district in downtown Sanaa have left hundreds of people dead and many others injured.

Editor: Yang Lina

Maya woos farmers with new land policy


LUCKNOW: Facing flak for her government's handling of a series of farmer agitations in UP, chief minister Mayawati on Thursday announced a newland acquisition policy under which the government will play the role of a facilitator. Private companies needing land for projects will have to acquire it directly from farmers through mutual agreement, she said. 

No land acquisition will be done in a village where 70% inhabitants are not ready for it, the chief minister said, while announcing the new policy after a kisan panchayat here, which comes into immediate effect. 

Mayawati, however, clarified that the policy won't be implemented in areas where land has already been acquired and compensation distributed to farmers. So, Bhatta-Parsaul and Tappal will be out of its ambit. She added that the government would compensate farmers for damages to their property in the recent clashes in Bhatta and Parsaul villages in Greater Noida. 

The CM said the new policy was formulated with safety nets to ensure the farmers' interests and added that this would be further amended to incorporate any other suitable suggestions made by farmers. 

Maya said while all land acquisition would be done though a mutual agreement between farmers, a kisan bhawan and a model school would have to be set up by developers in all such villages where land was being acquired by them in future. 

The agreement for land acquisition would be finalized only after the consent of 70% of farmers of the village or area in question. This would be applied to all, including development authority, the UP State Industrial Development Corporation and similar other organisations in need of land. 

As for compensation, farmers will have the option either to take it one go from the developer or take 16% of the total land from them in developed form along with Rs 23,000 annual annuity per acre for 33 years. The annuity increased at the rate of Rs 800 annually per acre would be over and above the compensation amount and paid in July every year. Those unwilling to take annuity would be paid lump sum of Rs 2,76,000 per acre. 

"Farmers," Maya said, "will be free to sell some portion of their 16% of developed land to developer at prevailing market rates. The above developed land would be given to farmers free of cost and also be free from stamp duty." 

If farmers purchase land anywhere in the state from the land compensation amount within one year, they will get stamp duty exemption on its registration. All farmers whose land is acquired for construction of national highways, canals and similar other projects will be covered by the state's rehabilitation and resettlement policy. 

Likewise, farmers would also be entitled to buy shares up to 25% in the company, which takes their land. Besides, one member of each farmer family will be given job by the private company acquiring land. Farmers, who fall in the marginal category after their land acquisition, will be compensated with agricultural labourer wage equal to 375 days. For agricultural labourer, this compensation will be equal to 625 days' wages and 250 days for those displaced in the wake of their land acquisition. 

Describing the new policy as historic, Maya said efforts will be made to pressure the Centre to adopt this model for the entire country. She also announced that in case the Centre refused to bring a land acquisition bill during the monsoon session, BSP will protest against this in parliament. 

"The state's new policy is better than the ones being implemented in Congress-ruled states like Haryana," she said. Referring to the Bhatta Parsaul incident, she said it was opposition-engineered for political mileage. "The incident there had nothing to do either with the compensation or the land acquisition, as these issues had already been settled there," she said. 

Warning the opposition parties against politicizing the issue, she said nobody will be allowed to disturb law and order and stern action would be taken against those found guilty on this count. She said they should rather pressure the Centre to amend the land acquisition act than make UP an arena of politics for cheap popularity ahead of the assembly poll.

What Baba Ramdev wants


Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who has threatened to field candidates in every Lok Sabha constituency in 2014, has stopped the Union government in its tracks with a set of demands, ranging from the serious to the bizarre.
The demands of the jetsetting Baba — whose acolytes recently bought him a little Scottish island to open an ashram — include:
— Tough Lokpal Bill, with a provision for death sentence for the corrupt, especially corrupt officials
— Immediate return of all black money stashed away in tax havens abroad to the country
— Declaring all wealth in foreign countries being held illegally by Indians as national property and charging those with such accounts under the sedition laws
— Abolishing Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 currency notes
— Disabling the operations of any bank which belongs to a country that is a tax haven
— Replacing the British-inherited system of governance, administration, taxation, education, law and order with a swadeshi alternative
— Reforming the electoral system to ensure that the Prime Minister is directly elected by people
— Ensuring that all citizens declare annually their incomes
— Bringing income-tax details under the Right to Information Act
— Increasing substantially the Minimum Support Price of grains
— Making wages of different categories of labourers uniform across the country
— Revoking the Land Acquisition Act, as farmers should not be deprived of their land for industry
— Promoting Hindi at the expense of English.

Government working on formula for Baba Ramdev

Smita Gupta

— Photo: V.V. Krishnan

If the efforts fails,tough action may be an opion

STAGE SET FOR STIR:Preparations are in full swing at the Ramlila Grounds in Delhi, where Yoga guru Baba Ramdev will begin a hunger strike against black money and corruption on Saturday. More than 10 million people and civil rights activists are likely to join him.

New Delhi: As the deadline for Baba Ramdev's promised hunger strike on the issue of black money drew near, the Union government continued to work on a formula that would make the yoga guru abandon his threat: “Baba Ramdev must be made to feel he has achieved something through his campaign,” ministerial sources told The Hindu. They added that “on Friday, at the next round of talks, he will be told about the government's intentions to deal with the key issues [on corruption] that he has raised, possibly with a time frame.” But, at the same time, there was a determination in the government that if it failed to persuade Baba Ramdev through dialogue, it would have to consider tough action to make him abandon his hunger strike plans. With memories of the Anna Hazare fast still raw, the government does not want to take any chances.

Indeed, on Thursday, the Baba Ramdev issue continued to engage the attention of both the government and the Congress: in the evening, the Congress core group, the party's apex decision-making body, of which both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are members, met to discuss ways of defusing the situation.


Immediately after that, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee convened a discussion on the issue with Cabinet colleagues A.K. Antony, Kapil Sibal, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Subodh Kant Sahay for what was described as a “review” of the situation. While Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Antony are also members of the Core Group, the other three — along with the finance minister — are members of the government's negotiating team on the Baba Ramdev issue.

Internally, the government is exasperated with the turn of events — especially as many of Baba Ramdev's demands are impossible to fulfil, nor are any of them possible to deliver on immediately.

One point that is rankling is the fact that Baba Ramdev had sought permission from the government to hold a yoga camp for 20 days at Delhi's Ramlila Grounds from June 4 — now, as government sources said, he is “using” that venue “against the government” by making it the site of his threatened hunger strike.

Ramdev firm on fast; PM, Sonia favour more talks


New Delhi, June 2 : Yoga guru Baba Ramdev was firm Thursday on going on a fast against corruption and illegal money in tax havens abroad, but the government tried another shot at conciliation, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh andCongress chief Sonia Gandhi meeting to find ways to dissuade the saffron-clad sanyasi, who has thousands of middle class followers, from his protest.

Ramdev, who enjoys a huge following for offering cures for many lifestyle-related diseases, including cancer, through yoga, plans his fast from Saturday in New Delhi's sprawling Ramlila Ground to demand measures to curb corruption and bring back black money stashed abroad.

Meanwhile, support for Ramdev, 46, grew and spread across his lakhs of followers from the middle-class, political parties, and from the spiritual fraternity with 'Art of Living' exponent Sri Sri Ravishankar backing his peaceful hunger stir.

Gandhian Anna Hazare, who had gone on a fast in April to press for a strong anti-graft Lokpal Bill, extended his support to Ramdev and also denied any rift with the yoga guru, but he cautioned him against "government tactics".

Although Ramdev's close associates said the yoga guru was determined to sit on a fast, there was no news of the Baba himself after his morning appearance in Gurgaon, bordering Delhi. Through the day, government tried to persuade him through back-channels.

"Many government people have approached Baba Ramdev, but how can any one stop the cause the Baba has initiated," his spokesperson S.K. Tijarawala asked while speaking to IANS.

He also said various sections of the society, irrespective of caste and creed, will join the Ramdev's cause. "People from almost every district are coming forward to join the cause the Baba has taken up. The government has so far made false promises, but this time they can't escape. Baba Ramdev is fighting for the cause of the nation and to make the system corruption free."

"The prime minister has taken a serious note of Baba Ramdev's call," Tijarawala added.

On the government's part, it was said late Thursday night that more talks would be held with Ramdev Friday.

"The next talks will be held Friday", Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal told reporters after he, along with Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay, held special meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on how to negotiate with the yoga guru.

"Talking to someone is not sign of weakness," Bansal said, apparently in reference to criticism within the Congress that the four senior ministers had held talks with Ramdev at Delhi airport Wednesday, but could not convince him to give up his fast.

As the government feared a repeat of the Anna Hazare-like mass movement in the country or one even bigger than that in view of his huge following, the Congress core committee under chief Sonia Gandhi met at prime minister's Race Course Road residence to find urgent ways to address the issue.

The committee decided to dispel all impressions that there were differences between the government and the party over the strategy to deal with Ramdev's agitation, even as party leader Digvijay Singh again attacked Ramdev.

"Even to teach yoga, he charges Rs.50,000 from those who sit in the front seats, Rs.30,000 for the backseat and Rs.1,000 for the last seat. What else is this," Digvijay Singh asked while addressing a meeting in Moradabad in Uttar  Pradesh.

The Congress general secretary said the party was not scared of Ramdev and was holding discussions with him. "If the Congress was scared, Ramdev would have been put behind bars. There is no fear that is why he is out in the open and there are discussions with him," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to the defence of Ramdev, with party president Nitin Gadkari saying, they "support Ramdev's demands and will include it in our political resolution" at the two-day national executive meeting beginning in Lucknow Friday.
Courtesy -IANS

Maran demands Rs.10 crore damages from paper


Chennai, June 2 : Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran Thursday sent a legal notice to The New Indian Express demanding Rs.10 crore damages for publishing a defamatory article alleging he "looted" the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) while communication minister between 2004 and 2007, his lawyer said.

Maran strongly denied the allegation in the article that he set up a BSNL telephone exchange with 323 home lines at his Boat Club residence and connected it to his brother's Sun TVNetwork.

Contending the allegation is motivated, scandalours, defamatory, baseless and derogatory and the article is published with an aim to defame him, Maran demanded the newspaper to tender an unconditional apology and publish it prominently. He also demanded Rs.10 crore as damages failing which legal action will be initiated.

According to Maran when a similar report was published in Dinamani Tamil daily during in 2009, the BSNL had clarified that only one telephone connection was provided at his residence.

The telephone company had also clarified that from the date of installation till March 2009, Maran had used only 173,698 metered call units as against an eligible 450,000 metered call units.

After the legal notice was issued to Dinamani, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa, then the state's leader of opposition made a similar allegation at a public rally. Maran had initiated criminaldemation case against her. Jayalalithaa challenged the same in the Madras High Court and the case is pending.

Courtesy --IANS