30 burnt alive in India bus accident


BANGALORE: At least 30 people, including 10 children, were burnt alive on Sunday when a bus bound for the southern Indian city of Bangalore ploughed into a roadblock and caught fire, police said.

The state-owned vehicle overturned in a ditch and its fuel tank burst into flames, engulfing the bus, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, adding about 30 other people were injured.

The bus was on its way from southern Karnataka's Gulbarga district to Bangalore when the accident happened before dawn, senior police officer Labhu Ram told reporters.

At least three of the injured were in a serious condition, he added. The driver was among those killed.

India has the highest annual road death toll in the world, bigger than the more populous China, according to the World Health Organisation, with accidents caused by speeding, bad roads, overcrowding and poor vehicle maintenance.

Police figures show that more than 110,000 people die annually nationwide on the roads.

4 Malayalees under RAW scanner


Money from ISI safely handed over to Nazir
New Delhi: Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has initiated inquiry against four Malayalee youth settled in Dubai, who have worked behind providing funds to Thadiyantevide Nazir, alleged South Indian commander of LeT. According to RAW sources these four are settled in Dubai and has been operating from there for quite some time now. It is understood that RAW has obtained vital information regarding the location and operation style of those under scrutiny.

The four youth from Kerala are highly educated and had some part of their higher education from foreign countries. They have worked as the middle men in making Nazir available the money handed over by ISI. A large part of the money is believed to have spent in Kerala to recruit youth for terror operations. Nazir had ensured the families of the youth that they would take care of the protection of those families, if anything happens to the youth.

RAW sources hinted that arrest of the four may not take place soon as co-operation from Dubai government has not been encouraging. Officials of NIA and IB got hints of the operation of this gang from Nazir, while he was grilled. The service of RAW was sought since the accused are operating from foreign land. Intelligence agencies have also initiated inquiry regarding the dispersal of money that reached Kerala through hawala market. 

Sri Sri Ravishankar escapes unhurt as gunman fires at convoy


Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar today escaped bid on his life when an unidentified gunman shot at his car when he was returning after delivering a discourse, an ashram official said.
"I am absolutely safe," the 54-year-old founder of the Art of Living said shortly after the incident.
One of his devotees sustained a minor injury on the thigh with the bullet brushing past, ashram spokesperson Charu said.
The incident took place around 6.15 PM when Ravishankar was returning to his 'Kutir' by car after addressing a gathering at the 'Satsang', she told PTI.
"We usually have a satsang from four PM every Sunday till around six where even people from neighbouring villages join us. Sri Sri had addressed those gathered at the Satsang and completed his discourse and was returning to his `kutir' by car when the incident occurred," she said.
Sri Sri Ravishankar, who has a wide following all over the country and abroad, where he has set up centres of his organisation, said he had gone ahead with his discourse even after the incident.
Karnataka Home Minister V S Acharya said central range IG Kamal Panth has been sent to the ashram to inquire about the incident. "There is no problem... everything is peaceful there," he said.
The spiritual guru told a TV channel that he had not received any threat earlier.
Sri Sri Ravishankar has popularised 'Sudarshan Kriya', a powerful breathing technique in India and overseas.

Rohit hits second successive ton, India crush Lanka by 7 wickets


BULAWAYO: Rohit Sharma hammered his second successive ODI century as India crushed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in their second match to put their campaign back on track in the tri-series on Sunday.


Chasing 243, India made a rather slow start and lost both their openers inside 10 overs before one-down Virat Kohli (82) and Rohit (101 not out) resurrected the innings to help India romp home with 6.3 overs to spare at the Queens Sports Club.

Earlier, the tidy Indian bowlers produced a disciplined effort to bundle out Sri Lanka for 242 after captain Suresh Raina had opted to field.

Sunday's win also marked Raina's first victory as captain. Coming together in the 10th over, Kohli and Rohit added 154 runs from 168 balls for the third wicket to take the game away from Sri Lanka.

Rohit, who hit 114 against Zimbabwe in India's first match though for a lost cause, hit six fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 100-ball inning, his second ODI century in his 44th match.

He got a superb support from Kohli whose 82 came from 92 balls with the help of four boundaries.

After opening bowler Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis achieved early success by removing Murali Vijay (14) and Dinesh Karthik (18) respectively, the Sri Lankan bowlers were left high and dry with Kohli and Rohit stamping authority.

The duo initially dealt mostly in singles with occasional boundaries before opening up later on. They also did not allow the asking rate to jump over five.

Rohit took 60 balls to reach his fifty which came of a single off Ajantha Mendis in the 28th over and Kohli reached his seventh half-century an over later with a single off Dilhara Fernando.

Kohli, however, perished in the 38th over while trying to finish the game early. He came down the track to play a lofted shot off a Suraj Randiv delivery only to hole out to long-on fielder Dilhara Fernando.

When Kohli fell, India needed just 42 runs from more than 12 overs and Rohit ensured that they wrapped up the match without any hiccup.

Rohit took a four off Mendis in the 43rd over to reach his second successive ODI century while Raina hit the winning runs in the next over.

India, who lost their opening match against Zimbabwe on Friday, play the hosts again in their next match on Thursday at Harare Sports Club.

Earlier, save for Angelo Mathews (75) and captain Tillakaratne Dilshan (61), the Lankan batsmen struggled for runs under tight Indian bowling after they were put into bat.

The Lankan innings eventually folded for 242 in 49.5 overs with three of their batsmen running themselves out.

Except for rookie Umesh Yadav (1/61), all the Indian bowlers bowled tight spells with Ashok Dinda (2/44), Pragyan Ojha (2/44) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/49) taking two wickets apiece.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was also economical, conceding 40 runs from his 10 overs though without taking a wicket.

The Lankans were dealt an early blow when Upul Tharanga (1) became the first to get run out.

After hitting an Ashok Dinda delivery to the covers, Tharanga was left stranded when Virat Kohli, who initially fumbled in collecting the ball, threw it accurately at the Lankan's end while he was attempting a third run.

Thilan Samaraweera (19) didn't last long either and was stumped by Dinesh Karthik while trying to charge at a Pragyan Ojha delivery.

Dilshan and Mathews then steadied the ship and put on 58 runs for the third wicket before the Sri Lankan skipper became the second Lankan batsmen to be run out.

Dilshan, whose 81-ball knock comprised four boundaries and a six, took off for a single after hitting Mishra to the square leg but rushed back after a couple of strides only to find himself short of ground as the bowler had dislodged the bails by then.

But Mathews held one end together with a gritty knock that included a couple of sixes and an equal number of fours. His prized wicket ultimately went to Umesh Yadav, who bowled him.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja bagged two late wickets in Chamara Kapugedera (20) and Chamara Silva (5) to make sure that the Lankan innings never took off.

Thissara Perera's late 32-run cameo down the order did, however, help the Lankan to go past the 200 mark.

Train tragedy toll 138, all bodies extricated


The death toll in Friday's train accident in this West Bengal town shot up to 138 late Saturday as the extrication of dead bodies from the wreckage of the Gyaneshwari Express was completed after 44 gruelling hours of rescue operations.
"The toll is 138. The job of extricating dead bodies from the derailed coaches is complete," a South Eastern Railway spokesman said.
The last body was brought out from the devastated second class sleeper coach S 5 at 9.45 pm, ending almost two days of search operations, a large part of which was conducted amidst the putrefying stench of decaying corpses.
In Kolkata, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the train disaster, terming it her political rivals' conspiracy ahead of Sunday's civic polls in West Bengal.
The number of the injured stood at 146, of whom 38 were said to be in a serious condition.
The wounded were under treatment in hospitals in the nearest towns of Kharagpur and Midnapore - the headquarters of the West Midnapore district. Twenty-three of them are admitted in various hospitals in Kolkata.

With many of the bodies mutilated beyond recognition, the authorities have decided to conduct DNA tests for identification before handing them over to their relatives. 
West Bengal Civil Defence Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said blood samples of the bodies will be collected Saturday at the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital and sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Kolkata by Sunday. 
The minister appealed to those looking for their missing relatives to give their blood samples at the CFSL - one of the premier forensic labs in the country - by Sunday. 
A relief train carrying the survivors of the train reached Mumbai at 9 p.m. Special barricaded sections were made on the platform number 5 of Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla where the train arrived. 
Family members surrounded their kin as they got down from the train. The atmosphere became emotional as many broke down in tears while some thanked god for saving their kin.
Meanwhile, the driver of the train filed a police complaint saying he heard a "blasting sound" and felt a jerk before the derailment.
BK Das, who lodged the complaint against "unidentified miscreants" at the Jhargram Government Railway Police (GRP) station, claimed that he saw smoke billowing out before applying the emergency brakes. 
The complaint was filed under sections 150 (maliciously wrecking or attempting to wreck a train) and 151 (damage to or destruction of certain railway properties) of the Railways Act. 
The train went off the track between Sardiha and Khemasuli railway stations, after suspected Maoists removed 1.5 feet of rail track, at 1.30 am Friday, rudely shaking the hundreds of sleeping passengers. Five coaches fell on a parallel track. 
Even before the trapped passengers could realise what had happened, a speeding goods train coming from the opposite direction rammed into the five coaches, crushing some of them. 
Police found two posters put out by the Maoist-backed People's Committee Against Police Atrocities at the accident site, claiming responsibility for the sabotage. 
It was the third worst train accident this year blamed on Maoist guerrillas and the worst bout of killings by the rebels since they massacred 76 security personnel in Chhattisgarh April 6. 

Obama to attend Krishna reception to make a point


It's a question that is posed at every preview and review of current US-India relations in Washington DC: Is President Obama – and his administration – sidelining/downgrading/undermining ties with New Delhi?

No, not at all, not true, say US officials and their Indian counterparts. The perception is wrong, the premise is faulty, the analyses are flawed, they insist. But doubts and inquiries continue to float around the commentariat.

This week, in background conversations and on-record briefings on the eve of the first so-called "Strategic Dialogue" between the two sides from June 1-4, officials, particularly Americans, made strenuous efforts to counter the perception of the slideback, and set the stage for an autumn visit to India by President Obama that is all but penciled into the diplomatic calendar.

"The Obama administration attaches great importance to our relations with India, and as President Obama himself has said, this will be one of our signature partnerships in the 21st century," the US pointman for region Robert Blake said on Friday.

Not convinced? Well, in that case, Obama himself will make the point again.

Dispensing with the previous rite of very senior Indian cabinet ministers getting a Presidential drop-in during White House meetings or a walk-through the Oval office for brief chats with the President, Obama, in a rare gesture, will drive down to State Department in Foggy Bottom on Thursday to attend a reception Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be hosting for External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. He will also speak on the occasion.

"On Thursday, the President will attend and deliver remarks at the Secretary of State's reception in honour of the Indian delegation to the United States-India Strategic Dialogue, which will meet at the state department earlier that day," the White House said in its scheduling note for the media next week.

"The President's strong support of the Strategic Dialogue and of this inaugural meeting reflects his commitment to furthering a strategic partnership with India as we seek to address global challenges," it added in an unusual addendum.

Obama also telephoned Singh on Friday to discuss the upcoming dialogue, the White House said separately.

"The two leaders agreed that the Dialogue is an important milestone in the development of the US-India strategic partnership and looked forward to its results. President Obama and Prime Minister Singh also expressed their hope that the Dialogue will initiate a regular exchange of ideas and discussion between their governments and both pledged their support toward that end," a White House readout on the call said.

US officials are almost peeved at the nagging doubts many commentators seem to harbor about Obama's India outreach, and appalled that they don't recognize the importance he gives to New Delhi, including by way of hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the first state guest of his term in the White House.

Some Indian analysts see this as merely a sop that lacks policy substance, but White House officials say the President is deeply committed to the India relationship, and pundits should not read too much into his cool style compared to the bonhomie exhibited by his predecessor when it came to New Delhi.

One senior official spoke of the enormous admiration and respect Obama had for Prime Minister Singh, "not that our foreign policy is personality-based." There are a lot of countries President Obama has said he has to work on, but India is a country he wants to work on, he said.

Ahead of the strategic dialogue, US officials made a series of statements to reflect the President's view of India's growing regional and global relevance.

Among them was a suggestion that Pakistan and India can put the Kashmir issue on the backburner and first address confidence-building measures, including advancing trade and commerce, an approach favored by India.

Asked about the Kashmir issue at a briefing in the Foreign Press Center, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said: "I think that's not going to be an issue that's going to be addressed right away. What's most important is first to get these talks going again and to focus on – once they've gotten beyond the immediate counterterrorism issues, to focus on some of the important opportunities like trade that exist between these two countries."

"And once they have developed a degree of confidence, they might then be able to take up some of these more sensitive territorial issues," he added.

Other US officials said there was no US pressure on India to talk to Pakistan; Prime Minister Singh was ahead of the curve when it came to dialogue with Pakistan. If anything, there was pressure on Pakistan to eliminate its home-grown terror groups in response to India's initiative, they said.

Many Indian analysts had second-guessed that Obama will change Washington's policy on Kashmir on the basis of his remarks before he assumed office and had projected "pressure" on India to make concessions. There were also apprehensions that Washington will ask New Delhi to downsize its initiatives in Afghanistan in deference to Pakistani sensitivities, which US officials now suggest are overblown.

Officials also once again endorsed New Delhi's role in Afghanistan and privately rubbished Pakistani allegations of a subversive Indian role in Afghanistan and its overheated rhetoric on water issues.

On Friday, William Burns, the third-ranking official in the State Department noted in a diplomatic blog that the "rise of India is important and positive for American interests," and said his wide-ranging conversation with Indian interlocutors "reminded me a lot of conversations with some of our closest allies."

"The planeload of "Blue Beret" Indian peacekeepers I saw waiting to embark at the airport when we arrived (in New Delhi recently) reminded me of India's growing military reach and its role as a provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond," he noted.

Unified command in Naxal-hit states


Discussions in the home ministry in the wake of the Maoist attack on the Howrah-Mumbai train in Jhargram in West Bengal may see the setting up of a unified command in every Naxal-affected state to improve coordination between central and state police forces.

The command being envisaged may also see an Army officer being attached as an adviser to ensure that maximum expertise is brought to bear against Maoists in operations that the Centre now hopes to step up. In the changes being considered, the role of a single officer like special DG Vijay Raman will be shared by officers deputed to the unified commands.

The home ministry does not envisage the role of Army in anti-Naxal operations though government may use its expertise in training counter-insurgency units. To this end, possibility of a national counter-insurgency training centre being set up with Army help could be on the table. The Army may also consider raising dedicated battalions for counter-insurgency, but that would be at a later date.

The Army has been reluctant to involve itself in anti-Naxal ops as this would put an additional strain on it besides it being brought into the centre of some very dirty fighting.

The possibility of collateral damage in an Army operation is high given their training which is intended to deliver a blunt and heavy blow.

The possibility of a long-drawn battle may end up sapping morale and denting Army's record. 

VIP flights force 3 jets to land with no fuel to spare


Three days after the Mangalore aircrash, three planes that had been diverted from Delhi airport on account of VIP movement, had a narrow shave when they all but ran out of fuel above Jaipur airport. The three flights had more than 450 passengers on board at the time.

Wednesday's Jetlite flight JLL 108 from Mumbai landed with just enough fuel to remain airborne for three minutes. The Mumbai-Delhi Kingfisher flight IT 300 landed just 10 minutes before its fuel tank ran dry. Jet Airways 9W 2357 from Chennai made it onto the runway with fuel for just 13 minutes of flying time. Both Jet planes were Boeing 737s and carried 192 and 174 people each.

The Kingfisher plane was an Airbus 330 and had 158 people on board. Wednesday saw 11 flights diverted to Jaipur, Chandigarh and Lucknow, even as 20 others were forced to circle Delhi airport for an hour starting 9am. The airport was closed because of President Pratibha Patil's flight to China and Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdimunha-medov's flight to Agra.

The tension built up for planes queuing to land at Jaipur as challenging weather - gusts of wind and a duststorm - worsened conditions already difficult because of the absence of approach radar to monitor flight movement.

Planes are supposed to carry enough fuel to fly to a nearby airport in case of an emergency but the uncertainty over the VIP planes' take-off had them circling in the air till they got to Jaipur with little fuel left. The pilots have filed 'flight safety reports' detailing the emergency situation to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

VIP movement nearly caused an aviation disaster when three planes, with more than 450 passengers, nearly ran out of fuel when they were diverted from Delhi to Jaipur airport. The pilots of Jetlite flight JLL 108, Kingfisher flight IT 300 and Jet Airways 9W 2357 were caught unawares as there was no Notam (notice to airmen) about the closure of airspace until they reached Delhi.

Airports Authority of India authorities said the practice of issuing Notam during VIP movements has been stopped due to security reasons and Wednesday's flap was unforeseen. "Usually there is only a three-minute shutdown of airspace during VIP movement. But on Wednesday, the Turkmenistan president's flight got delayed because of bad weather in Agra, resulting in diversions and go-arounds," PK Mishra, AAI general manager, air traffic maintenance, told TOI.

The three flights were using up the final reserve fuel when they declared emergency. "The Kingfisher flight which first declared fuel emergency was allowed to land. The Jet Airlines flight, which had only 10 minutes of fuel left, declared emergency next, but it gave way to a Jetlite flight which radioed an emergency declaration," said a source. 

Decision on Smart City soon


Thiruvananthapuram: S Sharma, fisheries minister informed that the government would soon take a decision on Smart City project. Speaking to the media, the minister alleged that TECOM has failed miserably to implement the contract. Mr Sharma opined that the stand adopted by TECOM in this regard is dubious.

“ It is the duty of TECOM to implement the contract. As per the contract construction works should have been underway by now. But the response from TECOM is not encouraging.” - said the minister.

The minister's words are seen as a clear warning for TECOM that the government is not willing to wait anymore. Mr Sharma disclosed that the government is yet to start negotiations regarding finding another promoter for Smart City project.

The minister warned that the government would be forced to seek legal action, if TECOM backs off from the dream project. He pointed out that TECOM is making demands, which are not in the MoU signed and such demands are not acceptable to the government. 

Gold rebounds on wedding season demand, global cues


Gold prices rebounded by Rs 115 to Rs 18,790 per 10 gram in the bullion market in New Delhi on Saturday on aggressive buying by stockists and jewellers for the ongoing marriage season amid a firming global trend.
The precious metal gained 2.30 dollar to 1,214.30 dollar an ounce in overseas markets.
Standard gold and ornaments recovered sharply by Rs 115 each to Rs 18,790 and Rs 18,640 per ten gram respectively. They had lost Rs 135 in the previous trading session. Sovereign gained Rs 50 to Rs 14,600 per piece of eight gram.
Spurred by an all-round boom in buying for the wedding season and a firming global trend, gold prices climbed to a record level of Rs 18,810 on Wednesday.
However, silver ready held steady at Rs 29,600 per kg and weekly-based delivery gained Rs 20 to Rs 29,275 per kg.
Silver coins continue to be asked around the previous level of Rs 34,400 for buying and Rs 34,500 for selling of 100 pieces.

Diana's black dress goes on the block


It was black and strapless, with a sassy sequined flounce at the bodice and a gloriously full, swishy skirt. The dress was, Lady Diana Spencer thought, so grown-up, just right for her first official engagement after the announcement she was to marry Prince Charles.
But when photographs emerged of the then 19-year-old Diana emerging from a limousine at a March, 1981 charity event - all creamy shoulders and ample decolletage - there was a minor scandal over the revealing cut. According to Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed the ball gown with her husband David, they didn't realize the furor the dress would cause.
"She just looked fantastic. At that time, she was curvy. Not fat in any way, but she had cleavage, we love cleavage. And she looked great in this dress," Emanuel said in an interview Friday.
"We in no way expected there to be such a reaction. And I think from that moment on, Diana became a fashion icon."
The dress had been missing for years until David Emanuel recently discovered it in a plastic bag at his home. Along with other garments worn by Diana and designed by the Emanuels, it is to be auctioned off June 8 in a sale that includes the silk chiffon blouse chosen for the Princess of Wales' official engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon, and the calico prototype used to fit her famous ivory wedding gown.
Prince Charles reportedly didn't like the ballgown she wore to the charity event, because he thought black was for people in mourning. Diana thought it was tres chic, and anyway, she had nothing else to wear.
"She was unsophisticated at that point, and when I look at the wedding dress and the black ballgown I can see a young girl's dream of the ultimate party dress or romantic dress," said auctioneer Kerry Taylor, whose eponymous firm is handling the sale.
"So there's an innocence about these early pieces.
"Later on she became very svelte, very sophisticated, very elegant," Taylor said.
"But here we see just a very beautiful, innocent young girl, and the clothes reflect that." For the editors of Britain's voracious press, the dress - and the snaps of Diana in it - would kick off a long love affair with the princess.
"Up until that point, they'd seen her as a floppy-haired puppy," said Christopher Wilson, a seasoned observer who has written extensively on the royals. "And that's the moment Fleet Street fell in love with her.
"It all stretches back to that one picture." Taylor and Elizabeth Emanuel are hopeful the collection will go to a museum _ the black dress is expected to fetch between 30,000 and 50,000 pounds ($44,000 to $73,000) and the prototype of the wedding dress between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds ($12,000 to $17,000) - but understand that Diana's legacy means there's a strong chance a private collector may snap up the garments.
Despite the reaction to her ballgown, Diana liked it enough to ask the Emanuels to take it in when it became too large for her, as she was constantly losing weight. In the months leading up to her wedding, Diana's waist dropped from 26 to 24 inches, and the Emanuels decided it would be easier to just make her a new, smaller version of the dress. Elizabeth Emanuel said she doesn't know what happened to the second version.
The collection up for sale includes sketches, notes, invoices - one shows Diana's mother paid 1,000 guineas for the wedding party's dresses, which was the equivalent of 1,050 pounds - and even the handbag that Elizabeth Emanuel carried to the wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. It still has the smelling salts the designer brought along in case her famous client felt faint. (She didn't, Emanuel said, describing Diana as the epitome of calm.)
"Diana was just fantastic. From the moment we first met her, she was just like a regular client. She was lovely, down-to-earth, very sweet, very calm, very friendly. She made a point of meeting everybody in the work room and she was just so easy to get on with," Emanuel said. "We had so much fun."

Clinton evolves into Obama's `Mr Fix It'


Former US president Bill Clinton has in the last 18 months become indispensable to the incumbent Barack Obama in ways many in his administration did not anticipate. 
According to The Washington Post, Clinton has become a roving, always on-call fixer who lends his political skills to help Obama and the Democrats in tough situations.
Clinton is campaigning and raising money in places where Obama is less (or less than) welcome.
And, as was revealed Friday, he has been an intermediary on sensitive, off-the-grid conversations with candidates such as Republican Joe Sestak, whom he tried -- on behalf of the White House -- to talk out of running for the Senate.
One of Clinton's lowest political moments as president was when his party lost both houses of Congress in 1994. Now, with Obama's Democratic majority similarly imperiled, 44 is turning to 42 for help.
The Republicans have taken notice, suggesting that Clinton might play a bigger role this cycle than Obama.
Clinton's relationship with Obama was strained through much of the 2008 campaign, but things between them improved when Obama appointed Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State.
Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton aide and confidante, helped ease the tension.
Clinton and Obama have appeared together at least 11 times since Obama's inauguration, including on Thursday, when the two lunched at the White House.

Terrorist who masterminded bomb attack nabbed


A terrorist, who allegedly masterminded a bomb attack on the convoy of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief in Karnal two years ago, has been caught by the Punjab police.
Bakshish Singh Baba was nabbed from Amritsar recently by the Special Operation Cell and was being interrogated, top police sources said on Saturday.
The police was trying to apprehend his other accomplices hiding in Punjab and neighbouring states, they added.
According to the sources, the Khalisthan Liberation Force terrorist was wanted for "masterminding" the bomb attack on Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh in Karnal in February 2008 in which nine persons were injured.
Baba, carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head, was allegedly involved in more than 25 cases of terror related activities and destruction of public property in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. He had fled to Pakistan soon after the attack on the Dera chief's convoy, they said.
During the interrogation, police was attempting to extract the information that as to how he had gone to Pakistan and how he returned to India, besides his stay in Pakistan.
Baba is a resident of Osmana village of Ludhiana district of Punjab.

80 dead as Islamic militants attack mosques in Pakistan


Some 80 people died and dozens were wounded in the worst-ever attack against the Ahmadi sect.

Officials said the assaults in Lahore were carried out by at least seven men, including three suicide bombers. Two attackers were captured.

At one point, a gunman fired bullets from atop a minaret.

It was one of the first times militants have deployed gun and suicide squads and taken hostages in a co-ordinated attack on a religious minority in Pakistan.

Yesterday's attacks took place in the Model Town and Garhi Shahu districts of Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city and one of its most important, both politically and militarily.

The assault at Model Town was relatively brief and involved four attackers spraying worshippers with bullets before exploding hand grenades, said Sajjad Bhutta, Lahore's deputy commissioner.

Several kilometres away at Garhi Shahu, the stand-off lasted about four hours.

TV footage showed an attacker on the top of a minaret of the mosque at one point in the siege, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades.

Outside, police traded bullets with the gunmen.

Mr Bhutta said at least three attackers held several people hostage inside the Garhi Shahu mosque. The three wore jackets filled with ammunition.

"They fought the police for some time, but on seeing they were being defeated they exploded themselves," he said.

Two attackers were caught, and one was being treated for wounds, Punjab province police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar said. It was reported that the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taleban had claimed responsibility. However, such attacks often spur unverifiable claims of responsibility from various groups.

The province's top executive, chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, appealed for calm.

"We, our security forces, will fight this menace till the end," Mr Sharif said. "Attacks on places of worship is barbarianism. It is a shame to cause bloodshed in mosques."

Muslim leaders have accused Ahmadis of defying the basic tenet of Islam that says Mohammed was the final prophet – Ahmadis argue that their leader was the saviour rather than a prophet.

The long-standing threat to minorities in nation allied to the United States has been exacerbated as the Sunni extremist Taleban and al-Qaeda movements have spread.

Luqman Ahmad, 36, was sitting waiting for prayers to start when he heard gunshots and then an explosion. He quickly lay down and closed his eyes.

"It was like a war going on around me. The cries I heard sent chills down my spine," he said. "I kept on praying, 'May God save me from this hell'.

"I cannot understand what logic these terrorists have by attacking worshippers and harmless people like us," he said, describing how he had seen bodies and blood all around.

Also yesterday, a suspected US missile strike killed 11 alleged militants and wounded three others in the Nazai Narai area of the South Waziristan tribal region, intelligence officials said.

The exact identities of the dead were not immediately clear, said the officials.

Elsewhere, in Pakistan's south-west Baluchistan province yesterday, gunmen on a motorcycle killed four police officers in Quetta city.

One of the officers had helped to arrest militants from the banned Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, senior police official Naveed Ahmed said.

Train derailment in Bengal More bodies still trapped


At least 120 passengers are feared killed and 160 injured after suspected Maoists derailed 13 coaches of Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express leading to a collision with a goods train in West Midnapore district early on Friday.

Investigating officials have ruled out blast as the cause for the accident in West Midnapore on Friday. It is confirmed that the derailment was not due to a blast, they said.

Five of the coaches were hit by a speeding goods train that came from the opposite direction on an adjoining track.

According to preliminary investigations, fishplates had been unbolted in a section of the track that may have led to the derailment. On reaching the site around 9.30 am, rediff.com's correpondent saw fishplates lying unscrewed in a section of the track. The correspondent also found the railway track was dug as deep as two-feet at one part.

A fishplate is a metal or wooden plate bolted to the sides of two abutting rails.

At least 160 others are feared to be trapped inside the crashed bogies, sources said.

Though officials said they had removed 65 bodies from the site, doctors and those involved with the rescue operation told rediff.com that the figure could be much higher.

Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee [ Images ], who rushed to the site around 6 am, said she had been told that an explosion on the tracks had caused the derailment.

"We fear this is a Maoist attack," Banerjee said.

"The railways are a soft target… The Maoists have attacked the railway in the past and, it seems, even now," she said.

However, railway officials said a section of the rail had been removed.

West Bengal [ Images ] Relief Minister Mortaja Hussain said hundreds of people are feared trapped in the train, which was heading to Mumbai [ Images ] from Kolkata [ Images ].

Though the railway ministry had earlier assured that pilot cars would guide passenger trains travelling through Maoist-infested areas, reports said there was none on Thursday night.

The incident occurred around 1.30 am on Friday in West Midnapore -- a Maoist stronghold about 135 km west of Kolkata.

The Maoists had declared four-day bandh in and around the area where the accident occurred.

However, they are yet to claim responsibility for the alleged attack. Maoist posters have been found at the site.

Indian Air Force helicopters have been pressed into service at the accident spot and have airlifted some of the injured to hospitals. The Border Security Force disaster management team is also on its way to the site.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is at the accident spot, said that the blast which caused the express train to derail took place on the first day today of a four-day 'Black week' called by the Maoists.

Banerjee said that a patrol engine had passed through the area half an hour earlier, but the timing of the blast proved disastrous with a portion of the line being blown away.

She announced Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of each of the dead and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.

This is the second Maoist attack on civilians this month. Naxals had blown up a civilian bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on May 17, killing at least 36 people, including 12 Special Police Officers.

South Eastern Railway Public Relations Officer Soumitra Majumdar said the train had 24 coaches. After the explosion, 13 including 10 sleeper coaches, derailed of which five were hit by the goods train coming on the opposite track.

An unreserved coach, the pantry car and luggage van also derailed, he said.

Relief officials used gas cutters to extricate trapped passengers and bodies from the mangled remains of the affected coaches. Passengers' belongings lay strewn scattered on the tracks.

Angry passengers said the first signs of relief came only around 5 am, three-and-a-half hours after the incident.

Nine of the coaches which were not damaged in the blast took the injured and the other passengers to Kharagpur where they were admitted to hospital.

Anti-Maoist forces were at the spot and assisting the police and rescue personnel in extricating the bodies from four badly damaged sleeper coaches S-5, S-6, S-7 and S-8.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee has asked state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta to immediately rush to Sardiha, the site of the accident.

"I have been asked by the chief minister to rush to the accident site with six special rescue teams and three mobile ambulances," Dasgupta said before leaving for the accident spot on Friday morning.

The state government would bear the treatment cost of the injured passengers, chief minister's secretariat sources said.

Senior railway officials including Railway Board Chairman S S Khurana and DG RPF rushed to the spot.

A relief train left Kharagpur with a team of 12 doctors and 20 paramedics as also two doctors from the Kalaikunda airbase, the officials said.

Helplines have been set up at Kharagpur -- (0322) 255751 and 255735, Howrah - (033) 26382217, besides a toll free number 10722.

Helplines have also been set up at Tatanagar (0657) 2290324, 2290074, 2290382, at Rourkela (0661) 2511155, Chakradharpur (06587) 238072 and Jharsuguda (06445) 270977.

Plane crash at Hyderabad air show, both pilots dead


It was a horrific sight for Hyderabad. A Navy plane taking part in an air show freefell in seconds, nosediving from the sky straight into a three-storey building in Bowenpally, a residential area near Hyderabad's Begumpet airport. (Watch: The mangled remains of the plane)

Both pilots Commander S K Maurya and Rahul Nair were killed. Four people were injured.

"The co-pilot tried to eject but I don't know if he had enough reaction time. Or the parachute did not open because it did not have sufficient height and he died right near the crash site. The pilot's body was found on top of the building where the aircraft crashed," said A K Khan, Hyderabad police commissioner.

The aircraft that crashed was a Kiran MK-II aircraft belonging to the 'Sagar Pawan' aerobatic team of the Navy. (Read: What is Navy's Sagar Pawan?) It was performing the final loop of the 'Downward Bomb Burst' manoeuvre when it started freefalling. The air show was part of the inaugural ceremony for the India Aviation Summit.

The building that was hit went up in flames but did not collapse. Eyewitnesses say that because the aircraft crashed into a water tank on top of the building, the fire was controlled. "There was a big sound and we came. There was a mother and son. They jumped from the window and her leg was fractured. We moved her to safety," says an onlooker. (Watch: Eyewitnesses describe the crash)

Seconds after the plane hit the building in the heart of the city, a loud explosion was heard, and a cloud of smoke surrounded the area. Two fire engines and thirty fire-fighters were rushed to the location. But the narrow streets and the crowd of onlookers made rescue operations tough.

Mangalore AI plane crash: Black box found


After an agonising wait, the ‘black box’ (cockpit Data Recorder) of the Air India Express plane that crashed on Saturday has finally been recovered. This came as a sigh of relief for teams from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and local police, who spent the last three days trying to recover the equipment.

The recovery of the black box is expected to act as a vital link in re-constructing the events leading to the crash. Earlier, the teams had recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the debris. Results of the DNA tests conducted on 22 victims whose bodies were charred beyond recognition is awaited.

The ill-fated Air India Express flight killed 158 people, including 19 children and four infants. It had taken off from Dubai and was due to land in Mangalore on Saturday morning. The Boeing 737-800, which was inducted on January 15, 2008 and piloted by British national of Serbian origin Zlatko Glusica, had 160 passengers and six crew members on board the budget carrier, flight IX-812.

So far, experts have felt the accident must have been caused by a pilot error. With the recovery of the black box, the exact cause of the accident is expected to be known. It is believed that while landing the plane, the pilot overshot the touchdown point by over 2,000 feet. Despite his efforts, the plane could not come to a standstill and went down into a valley that is forested and burst into flames.

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