Sunday, February 24, 2013

#Upset by ‘blame shifting’ on 2G, Raja wants JPC to hear him#

Points finger at ‘false and incomplete evidence’ by AG
Anxious to give his account of the “role of various individuals and institutions” in the 2G case, the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, who is facing trial for the spectrum scam, has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar asking that he be allowed to tender evidence as a witness before the Joint Parliamentary Committee investigating the matter.
As the prime accused, Mr. Raja is the man who knows every little detail about the scam; yet the JPC, which is now well on its way to delivering its final report, is yet to call him as a witness.
In his three-page letter of February 22, 2013, Mr. Raja makes it plain that he is “willing and indeed anxious” to tell the JPC and through it, the nation, “the truth of the matter” which, he believes, is being “suppressed on [the] basis of pre-conceived notions, deliberate bias, faulty investigation and erroneous conclusions aided by a media intent on sensationalism.”
Not stopping at the media, he blames the Supreme Court for including “prejudicial observations” against him without giving him an opportunity to be heard, and the Comptroller and Auditor General for a report that he believes was “replete with errors and adopted a position contrary to the policy of the Cabinet, Parliament and [the] Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.”
Mr. Raja describes the recent testimony of DoT officials and Attorney General (the then Solicitor General) Ghoolam Vahanvati to the JPC as “contrary to the facts of the case and intended to be an exercise in blame shifting.” He argues, “It is vital that the JPC not be misguided by false and incomplete evidence.” Refusing to draw any distinction between himself and the government, he states, “It is obvious that I would be best placed to explain the policy and rationale of the ‘government’ behind the issuance of UAS Licences and grant of spectrum as well as the sequence of events and the role of various individuals and institutions.”
Contrary to the CBI charge sheet, Mr. Raja refuses to accept that he alone — along with just two DoT officials — were responsible for perpetrating the 2G scam.
The Supreme Court, through its two judgments dated March 12, 2010, and February 2, 2012, had declared all of Mr. Raja’s key decisions “arbitrary and capricious” and struck them down as illegal — thus cancelling the 122 licences/spectrum that he had granted. Mr. Raja was accused of favouring companies by placing a cap on the number of licences, contrary to TRAI recommendations by advancing the cut-off date; allocating licences through a first-come-first-served (FCFS) process over transparent auctions and further manipulating the FCFS process to help handpicked companies jump the spectrum queue.


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#'Protect minorities from harassment post-Hyderabad bombings'#

New Delhi, Feb 23, 2013 (IANS):

Amnesty International Saturday said Indian authorities must conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the Hyderabad twin bombings but "protect minority communities from the discrimination, violence and harassment they often suffer in the aftermath of an attack".

In a statement, Amnesty said the "deliberate targeting of civilians" in the bombings that killed at least 16 and injured over 100 Thursday, "shows an utter disregard for human life".

G. Ananthapadmanabhan, Chief Executive of Amnesty International India, said: "The victims of these attacks have a right to justice and reparations. Authorities must conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the attacks.

"In doing so, they must protect minority communities from the discrimination, violence and harassment they often suffer in the aftermath of an attack."

The bomb attacks took place near Konark Theatre in Dilsukhnagar and near Venkatadri theatre, a few metres away. No individual or group has claimed responsibility yet.

In January 2012, the Andhra Pradesh government awarded compensation to 61 Muslim men who were wrongly implicated in a bomb attack on the Mecca mosque in Hyderabad in 2007.

Many of them had been detained without charge and subjected to torture. No action was taken against those responsible for the torture.

"Shoddy investigations and unlawful police practices can violate the fair trial rights of suspects, and also the victims' right to justice," said Ananthapadmanabhan.

"The authorities must bring those responsible for the attacks to justice in fair trial proceedings in line with international human rights standards, without recourse to the death penalty."

Photo: Former Telecom Minister A. Raja. File photo: K. Murali Kumar

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#Nasheed leaves Indian mission in Male after 10 days#

BySachin Parashar, TNN | Feb 24, 2013, 02.04 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The standoff in the Maldives has ended for now — exactly 10 days after former President Mohammed Nasheed had sneaked into the Indian High Commission in Male to evade arrest — as he walked out of the Indian mission in the archipelago "on his own''. Nasheed's decision to leave the High Commission at around 4.15 pm followed a mix of pressure and persuasion on the Waheed government and Nasheed himself during a series of meetings between an Indian delegation, led by MEA joint secretary Harsh Shringla, and the Male dispensation in the past few days.

That India is keen to see Nasheed contest elections, slated for in September, was evident when Indian government expressed hope that the ex-president would be allowed to resume his political life. Sources here confirmed to TOI that an Indian election commission team will soon visit Maldives to provide technical assistance to that country in the run up to polls.

``It will be recalled that the former President had entered the Indian Mission in Male on 13 February 2013 on his own volition and had similarly decided to leave on his own. It is hoped that with this development the former President will again resume his social and political life,'' said ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin as he thanked all Maldivian stakeholders who had participated in the dialogue with Indian officials.

It is learnt that as part of the negotiations to facilitate Nasheed's freedom, the two sides also decided to strengthen the ``multi-faceted relations'' and, as a part of the enhanced engagement, Maldives' chief justice is also likely to visit India soon. Foreign minister Salman Khurshid conveyed to his Maldivian counterpart Abdul Samad Abdulla that India has age-old ties of friendship and cooperation with Male. ``India would be happy to support all efforts to create favourable conditions for free, fair, credible and inclusive Presidential elections in September, 2013, that can contribute to durable peace, stability and prosperity in Maldives and the region,'' added Akbaruddin.

Emerging from his refuge at the Indian mission, Nasheed said, "I am hopeful I will be able to continue political activities and social life"

"I believe that even on issues that we disagree on, we can reach a compromise with the Maldivian government," he told a press conference. He said, following the understanding, he was hopeful that all candidates would be free to contest the presidential elections. Thanking the Indian government, Nasheed said, "I also thank the staff of the Indian High Commission in Male', including His Excellency D M Mulay, for the kindness and hospitality afforded to me during my stay''.

Nasheed was facing arrest for not appearing before a court looking into his alleged role in the detention of Maldives' chief criminal judge when he was president. The trial against him was postponed on Thursday raising hopes of a settlement that would allow him to walk out of the high commission without fearing arrest. While there have been some issues arising out of India's alleged intention to interfere in internal affairs of Maldives, Indian government maintains that it is only working closely with the dispensation in Male and other relevant stakeholders in the Maldives to strengthen the democratic framework of the country.

"India has maintained broad based contacts with all political parties and democratic institutions in Maldives without interfering in its internal affairs. The Government of India urges all parties to maintain peace and calm and hopes to continue its positive engagement in the spirit of the close and friendly relations between the two countries,'' said the MEA in a statement.

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#Chennai is Sachin’s zone#

Sandeep Dwivedi : Chennai, Sun Feb 24 2013, 03:00 hrs

Chennai was expected to sleep early on Saturday. That's because Sunday would see alarm clocks around the city come to life at sunrise. For a cricket fan, this isn't a weekend to oversleep. Serpentine queues are likely to tie MA Chidambaram Stadium in knots for the second successive match day. After R Ashwin's 7/103 on Saturday, Sunday's promise is better and brighter.

Anywhere in the cricketing world, when Sachin Tendulkar walks off the field with a 50-plus score at stumps, the next day registers a sharp peak in foot-fall. There is absolutely no doubt that this extraordinary phenomena will be repeated on Day Three of this India-Australia opening Test.
This game has an exciting buzz about it. It's the kind a home supporter loves. India, replying to Australia's 380, finished at 182/3 from 52 overs. Considering Australia were 166/5 after the same number of overs, it was clear that MS Dhoni's team had nosed forward but the home captain wasn't quite a stride ahead of Michael Clarke.

So that happens to be the big picture of the Test, but the bigger picture that Chennai is expected to dream about tonight will be of Tendulkar, unbeaten on 71 at close, reaching the three-figure mark at his favourite ground where he is possibly playing his last Test. Surprisingly, the anticipation of that Tendulkar special had spread really early on Saturday — in the very first over he faced, bowled by James Pattinson.
Three fours from six balls bowled by a pacer who had clocked 150 kph in his previous over, broken through the defence of the openers and who had got the better of him in their last encounter; was as ideal a start as Tendulkar could have hoped. That much-discussed tentativeness of the England series seemed to have evaporated by either the sight of the Aussie fire power or the rising Chennai temperature.
Blazing start

It was a firm push to the point region that got him his first boundary; the second was in the same region but the stroke was firmer and more eye-pleasing. However, it must have been the third four, past fine leg, that seemed to have elevated Tendulkar into the zone that had eluded him lately.

In the absence of conventional swing, Pattinson, bowling with a cross seam grip was exacting a hint of reverse. Bowling in short bursts, he was steaming in at high speeds with the cross wire aimed at the stumps. That confidence boasting four came from a ball that moved in from off to middle. With an angled bat, Tendulkar directed it to the left of the keeper and across the fence.

All through his slump, with the 39-year-old getting repeatedly bowled, experts had suggested that he should stick to playing with a straight bat. Besides, in the debacle of a series in Australia, Pattinson had shattered his stumps at Sydney.

This was a different day in Chennai. Tendulkar didn't heed conventional wisdom nor did the past weigh him down.

Once he got the ball in the slot, he went for the shot that suited the situation the most.
Rahul Dravid, as a broadcaster during the England series, had said that it wasn't quite the straight drive that signalled that this was to be Tendulkar's day, as the world believed, but it was in fact the flick to the square leg area . That third four didn't exactly motor past the leg-umpire but it was thereabouts.

After the match, Pattinson was to say how he lost the plot against Tendulkar because of a last minute change of plan. After getting the wickets of Murali Vijay and Virender Sehwag with balls aimed at the stumps, he shelved the pre-conceived strategy of testing Tendulkar with the short ball. Wiser after the experience, the pacer can be expected to aim at the helmet and not the stumps first thing on Sunday morning.

Also hunting for the prized scalp was Mitchell Starc. The left-arm pacer bowled from around the wicket, banked on the varying bounce of the slow track to trap Tendulkar in front of the stumps. Early in his spell, a delivery did keep low when Tendulkar did his trademark exaggerated half-slump — the one which he usually does when he the ball sneaks below his bat — and a few hearts sank in the stands.

Master's day out.

But this time around the bat reached down in time to keep the stumps safe.
It was Tendulkar's day and even Pattinson seemed overwhelmed by the man who stood between his team and a possible first innings lead.

"It's just the presence he has when he walks out there as well. He picks the ball up quite early, he has so much time to play," said the man whose disdain for batsmen in general is so evident when he celebrates a scalp.

How things have changed. Two months back during the Christmas week there was talk about the most decorated batsman's fading aura, slowing reflexes and total breakdown of skills. However, such turnarounds aren't new to Tendulkar. In 2003-04, against the same opposition, he came out of a similar slump when he cut down on the shots in the cover region and laboured back to form.

But, again, this was Chennai. Today his wagon wheel had hardly any spoke missing as Tendulkar swaggered out of a dark tunnel. On emerging from the shadows, he was clear: Tendulkar knows his batting best. Not just how to bat but till when to bat.

Day 3: live on star cricket, 9:30am

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