By PTI | 13 Apr, 2013
Photo caption:Arun Jaitley also charged the govt with "interference in the administration of justice" by not allowing CBI to acquaint the apex court with the full truth.
NEW DELHI: The coal scam resurfaced today following reports of alleged government interference in CBI investigations with the BJP demanding an SIT probe into it but the Congress firmly rejected the charge and also ruled out the resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley targeted the UPA by accusing it of being a "rogue government" that will not allow CBI to function independently and demanded constitution of a Special Investigation Team.
He also charged the government with "interference in the administration of justice" by not allowing CBI to acquaint the apex court with the full truth in the case.
"CBI cannot find out the truth and even if some honest officer in the CBI tries to find out the truth, the UPA is a rogue government which will not allow it to operate independently," Jaitley said.
His Lok Sabha counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, criticised the government for "vetting" of the CBI report and said it is part of "an attempt to save Prime Minister Manmohan Singh".
JD(U) spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari also termed the reports as "very serious", saying this is contempt of court. "Supreme Court is asking CBI to submit its report and government is toning it down. This is for the first time to my knowledge that such a thing is happening."
The Opposition's attack on the issue came in the wake of reports that Law Minister Ashwani Kumar summoned CBI Chief and the report was changed and toned down after the meeting.
Unfazed by the attack, Congress rejected the charge of interference in the preparation of CBI report in the coal scam for the Supreme Court and ruled out resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar in this regard.
"There is no question of resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar. Supreme Court has already asked CBI to file an affidaviat in this regard. CBI will file its affidavit and truth will come out," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
The CAG, in its report last year, had estimated a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in allocation of coal blocks since 2004.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Civil Services (Main) examination will be held in November or December this year and applications for it will be called in August or September, according to a notification issued by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The UPSC, which conducts the prestigious examinations to select IAS, IPS and IFS officers among others, has in a recently issued public notice dropped the mandatory English language paper from the main test.
It has also restored the earlier practice of two qualifying papers, the marks obtained of which will not be counted for ranking.
"The papers on Indian languages and English will be of matriculation or equivalent standard and will be of qualifying nature only. The marks obtained in these papers will not be counted for ranking," it said.
The UPSC had on March 05 issued a circular giving more weightage to English language. The move had led to an uproar inside and outside Parliament forcing the government to keep it in abeyance on March 15.
"It may also be noted that there is no change in the pattern of Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, which will be held on May 26, 2013," it said.
The last date for filling online application for Civil Services preliminary examination is April 04.
PTI | Apr 13, 2013
New Delhi: Classical Urdu and Persian poet Mirza Ghalib should be honoured with the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna, PCI Chairman Markandey Katju has said.
"There has been injustice with Urdu in the country. People associate a particular religion with this language. This is a 'divide and rule' policy. A few people know that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh writes his speech in Urdu.
"I believe Mirza Ghalib should be given Bharat Ratna posthumously. If Sardar Vallabhai Patel and B R Ambedkar can be given awards after their deaths, why can’t Ghalib be given?" Katju said at the 15th edition of 'Jashn-e-Bahar', an Urdu poetry symposium attended by poets from India, Pakistan, the US and other countries, here last night.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal, known for his penchant for poetry, read out two of his poems at the event.
"Urdu, if propagated, will spread love and peace. India will be incomplete if it doesn't take Urdu in its stride. Urdu is not a language of the intellectuals; it is of the common man. I believe English, Hindi and Urdu should be taught in every school.
There should be Google (version) in Urdu, also mobile handsets should have Urdu letters," Sibal said.
The open-air seating against a candle-lit stage with modern calligraphy by late painter M F Husain, was in sync with the mood of the evening. Among the foreign participants who drew wide applause were Max Bruce (the US) and Hiroji Kataoka (Japan).
Veteran Urdu poets believe such mushairas (poetic symposiums) help in flourishing the language. "In fact, non-Muslim families are helping a great deal in the process. It is time that Muslim families make their own children learn Urdu," poet and Vice-Chairman of National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, Waseem Barelvi said.
JBT founder Kamna Prasad echoed similar views.
"It is time to come together and petition the government that Urdu teaching be made compulsory at least till Class V. We can only suggest. But it's our responsibility to make sure that our coming generations are familiar with our composite culture," she said.
The event witnessed a youth, affiliated to Hindu Yuva Vahini, shouting slogans against the participation of Pakistani poets. He was taken out of the venue by police.
Islamabad, April 13, 2013
Photo caption:The Hindu Fire at Taj Hotel in Mumbai in this November 27, 2008 picture. Photo: Vivek Bendre
A witness on Saturday identified one of seven Pakistani men charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks as the person who had bought inflatable boats used by the terrorists involved in the assault on India’s financial hub.
Prosecutors said the witness, whom they did not name for security reasons, had identified accused Shahid Jamil Riaz during proceedings conducted behind closed doors at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi by anti-terrorism court Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman.
The witness told the judge that Riaz and 10 other people had bought 11 inflatable boats, saying they were to be used for fishing. The witness further told the judge he had never seen these persons returning from sea with any fish.
A total of four private witnesses testified during the hearing.
Another witness told the judge that he had sold the accused a Yamaha boat engine for Rs 1.6 lakh and yet another witness said he had sold the accused six pumps, prosecutors told PTI.
The witnesses also identified 10 men, including Amjad Khan and Atiqur Rehman, who were allegedly involved in planning and executing the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
These 10 men were earlier declared “proclaimed offenders” or fugitives by the anti-terrorism court.
“The 10 proclaimed offenders were either trainers or facilitators of the accused who launched the attacks in Mumbai,” chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali told PTI.
One witness told the court that Amjad Khan had obtained from him a “port clearance certificate” for Al-Hussaini, a fishing boat used by the terrorists.
Amjad Khan was also involved in purchasing the inflatable boats, another witness said.
Though Chief prosecutor Ali identified the four private witnesses as Hamza Bin Tariq, Muhammad Ali, Mohammad Saifullah Khan and Umer Draz Khan, he refused to go into details of their individual testimony for security reasons. All the witnesses belong to the port city of Karachi.
Additional Director Altaf Hussain of the Federal Investigation Agency, who played a key role in probing the Mumbai attacks, was present during the hearing but the judge did not allow him to testify as a defence lawyer argued that Hussain should record his statement after the private witnesses.
Prosecutors said the cross—examination of the four private witnesses could not be conducted as the main defence lawyers did not attend the hearing.
In the past too, the defence lawyers have held up proceedings by exploiting legal loopholes and posing hurdles for the proceedings, officials said.
The judge adjourned the case till April 27, when the four witnesses are expected to be cross—examined.
“The witnesses protested against being summoned for the next hearing as it will result in a lot of expenses for them.
They demanded an allowance for travelling back to Rawalpindi from Karachi,” chief prosecutor Ali said.
Amjad Khan, the fugitive identified by the witnesses, is a shadowy LeT organiser and financier from Karachi who figured in a majority of dossiers provided to Pakistan by India.
Khan, who hails from Multan, played a key role in arranging and providing funds to the ten terrorists who attacked Mumbai.
Khan is one of 20 suspects in the Mumbai attacks who are yet to be traced by Pakistani investigators.
These 20 suspects were named in a chargesheet filed in the anti-terrorism court in 2009. They were all accused of playing a key role in facilitating the Mumbai attacks.
Pakistani authorities have so far arrested seven suspects, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. They have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks.
Their trial has progressed at a snail’s pace due to repeated adjournments and various technical delays.
Nine of the terrorists involved in the attack were killed by Indian security forces.
The only surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, was hanged in Pune jail on November 21 last year.
Keywords: Mumbai terror attacks, 26/11 attacks, Mumbai attacks case, Pakistani court, Pakistan witness, inflatable boats, 2008 Mumbai attacks
By Arshad Mohammed and Jack Kim
SEOUL | Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:07am EDT
(Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed as "unacceptable by any standard" weeks of bellicose warnings of impending nuclear war by North Korea and said Washington would never accept the reclusive state becoming a nuclear power.
Kerry, addressing reporters after talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye and leaders of the 28,000-strong U.S. military contingent in the country, also said the United States would defend its allies in the region if necessary.
"The rhetoric we are hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable by any standard," Kerry said. "We are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power."
North Korea has issued weeks of shrill warnings to the United States and South Korea, including of waging thermonuclear war, after the imposition of new U.N. sanctions in response to its third nuclear arms test in February.
Kerry's visit coincides with preparations for the anniversary on Monday of North Korean state founder Kim Il-sung's birth date, a possible pretext for a military show of strength.
Speculation has mounted that Pyongyang may launch a medium-range missile after reports in South Korea and the United States that missiles had been moved into suitable locations.
Kerry said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would be making a "huge mistake" if he proceeded with a launch.
He also said that China, the North's sole diplomatic and financial ally, has the ability to make a difference on influencing North Korea's policies.
Hours before his arrival, a U.S. government agency said North Korea had a nuclear weapon it can mount on a missile, adding an ominous dimension to discussions in Seoul.
However, the assessment by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was swiftly dismissed by several U.S. officials and South Korea.
Asked if war was imminent, a U.S. official in South Korea said: "Not at all".
Washington's greatest concern, the official said, was the possibility of unexpected developments linked to 30-year-old Kim Jong-un.
"Kim Jong-un's youth and inexperience make him very vulnerable to miscalculation. Our greatest concern is a miscalculation and where that may lead," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"We have seen no indications of massive troop movements, or troops massing on the border, or massive exercises or anything like that that would back up any of the rhetoric that is going on."
Park, meeting officials from her ruling Saenuri Party before her talks with Kerry, struck a conciliatory note by suggesting Seoul should at least listen to what North Korea had to say.
"We have a lot of issues, including the Kaesong industrial zone," local media quoted her as saying. So should we not meet with them and ask: "Just what are you trying to do?'"
The president was referring to North Korea's closure this week of the jointly run Kaesong industrial park, with the loss of 53,000 jobs.
In Washington, Republican Representative Doug Lamborn quoted the DIA as saying it had concluded with "moderate confidence" that North Korea had developed a nuclear bomb that could be fitted on a ballistic missile, but added such a weapon would probably be unreliable.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, but it was not believed to be near weapons capability.
In Pyongyang, Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, said North Korea would never abandon its nuclear weapons program, made necessary by the "invariable ambition of the U.S. to militarily invade" North Korea.
South Korea's Defence Ministry maintained it did not believe North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.
Despite the DIA report, the Pentagon's spokesman and the U.S. national intelligence director both said it was "inaccurate" to infer Pyongyang had the proven ability to launch a nuclear missile.
The DIA was criticized after the start of the Iraq war in 2003 for being too bullish in predicting Baghdad might have weapons of mass destruction.
Its conclusion about North Korea follows more than a month of rising tension on the Korean peninsula.
Asked about the U.S. reports that Pyongyang may have developed a nuclear weapon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: "China upholds the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and pushing for its denuclearization via talks and consultations. No matter what changes there are in the situation, we will uphold this direction."
U.N. sanctions sparked a furious response from Pyongyang. The North has also called annual military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces a "hostile" act.
North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defense assessments by Washington and Seoul. South Korean and U.S. officials believe it is preparing to launch a Musudan missile, whose range of 3,500 km (2,100 miles) or more would put Japan within striking distance and may threaten Guam, home to U.S. military bases.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Daum Kim in SEOUL, Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING, John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI, and Patricia Zengerle, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Ronald Popeski; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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