Madani chargesheet marred with loopholes

The Bangalore police have an uphill task when it commences the interrogation of high profile Bangalore blasts accused, Abdul Nasar Madani. A crucial document in our possession regarding the visits made by this Madani in the past run contrary to the chargesheet filed by the Bangalore police.

The chargesheet against Madani states that just a couple of days prior to the Bangalore blasts he had visited Madapur in Coorg district in Karnataka to discuss with T Nasir about the blasts. Madani has been given B grade security by the Kerala state government and it is mandatory that every movement of his has to be monitored including what he eats. The same information has to be reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a regular basis. However this particular report handed over to the Home Ministry does not make any mention of his visit to Madapur. The Bangalore police will have a lot of explaining to do on this aspect since the accused’s legal team is all set to cling on to this point while arguing his case.

Another point is with regard to the mobile phone which the police have claimed belonged to him. Although this is a minor diversion in the chargesheet, it would still come up for argument. The police says that he made calls from his phone to stay in touch with prime accused T Nasir whereas the phone company during the verification process have said that the phone belongs to Soofya Madani.

The third point that comes up for discussion is that point in the chargesheet where the police have alleged that he had circulated his book which allegedly contains jihadi literature. However this cannot be used a very strong ground since the book in question has not been banned and is in the market for the past ten years.

The Bangalore police begins its interrogation of Madani today. A special team is in place for this purpose. A source in the investigating team says that this could probably be one of the toughest interrogations that they have conducted. Madani is known for his oratory skills and moreover all he has been coached thoroughly by his legal team and hence it may be very difficult to find anything new from him. They will need to corroborate whatever little he is saying along with the version given by T Nasir in order to build up a case, an ATC official also said.


Was early landing cause of Mangalore flight crash?

Did an early arrival cause the Air India Express to crash at Mangalore? Day one of the proceedings into the Mangalore Air Crash has revealed two shocking truths- one it did not land on schedule and secondly the radar at the airport was non functional at the time of the crash.

A special court of inquiry set up on the directive of the DGCA to probe the horrific Mangalore air crash which claimed over a 100 lives on May 22 back commenced its hearing at the Bajpe airport on Tuesday. During the course of the hearing on Tuesday it was reported for every 100 times, the plane has landed beyond schedule 49 times. Even the ill fated plane landed ahead of schedule and this point prompted the commission of inquiry to raise questions

When the commission questioned whether this landing before or after schedule did not cause any problems, Girish Kamath, Watch Supervisory officver at the ATC said that this is creating a problem. He further said that the radar was not functioning at the time of the crash. He said due to this the procedures were being undertaken manually two days before the crash.

He further pointed out that the ATC reopens at this airport at 6 AM after the earlier staff complete their shift at 5.30 AM. He however added that there were 9 staff at the time of the crash and this was not a problem and they could have managed it well. However there was a problem since the plane landed slightly before schedule. When the commission asked him whether he had complained to Air India regarding this problem, he said no.

Mahesh Pai, duty officer at the ATC during his deposition said that he had seen a fire ball near the localiser before the crash and he even triggered the sire and contacted other officials. He however added that at such crucial times, it is the pilot who is the best judge.

On the visibility at the airport at the time of the crash Ronald John of the Meteriological department said that the visibility was good. The wind was calm, there was no drizzle and the runway was dry.

The commission of inquiry which is headed by B N Gokhale and six others recorded the statements of 20 witnesses on day one

India Pak now fight a cyber war

The alleged hacking of liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s by the Pakistan Cyber Army only goes on to show that cyber war between the two counties is on the rise. Cyber security experts are of the opinion that such a war is only going to escalate and India will soon find itself on the backfoot since we don’t have a dedicated team to counter such an attack.

Indian agencies say that they have always been warning that the next fight on terrorism would be on cyber space since the security system in India is not in place where this aspect is concerned.

A cyber war with India first commenced in the year 1998 when the nuclear tests were conducted. Minutes after India announced that it had conducted the tests, a group called Milworm hacked into the Bhabha Atomic Research centre website and posted some anti India messages. The cyber war then continued during the Kargil war when a group of hackers from Pakistan hacked into the website, and posted pictures of atrocities allegedly by Indian troupes.

Pakistan today has three very crucial groups which are dedicated to hack into Indian sites. The Pakistan Hackers Club, G Force and now the Pakistan Cyber Army. The most prominent among them is the Pakistan Hackers Club which works specifically for the cause of Kashmir and Palestine. During the Kargil war and the time when India tested its nuclear weapons both these groups concentrated a lot on India. However today both these groups have been focusing more on the US and Isreali establishments and reports would suggest that they have managed to deface over 215 sites till date.

India started to hit back only in the year 2000 through a group called the Patriotic Indians. They are alleged to have defaced the websites of the Pakistani government. However statistics available would go on to show that the ratio of hacking between the two is wide. Statistics show that the Pakistan based hackers have defaced Indian sites nearly 180 times in comparison to the 23 times by the Indian hackers.

The Pakistan Cyber Army was established after some Indian hackers allegedly defaced the OGRA website of Pakistan. The claim of the PCA was that some Indian hackers were using abusive language against their country on Pakistani blogs by hacking into them. They hit back with the defacing of the Indian based ONGC site and in their message they had said that this was done in response to OGRA. Today the same group has hacked into the site belonging to Vijay Mallya.

Cyber security experts say that in this game Pakistan has beaten India since the hackers over there enjoy the patronage of the security establishment and are a more dedicated group. The hackers over there have formed a group and dedicate themselves only for this work, while in India it is most of the time a solo operation and there is no patronage by the security establishment.

Indian security agencies say these Pakistan based hackers are awarded and encouraged by the ISI, something that the Indian counterparts don’t do. Out here there are a pack of hackers who are more in counter attack, but they are most of the time solo. Moreover another key difference is that the cyber war from Pakistan is an official one whereas in India is still very much unofficial.

Expert on Cyber Laws, Pava Duggal tells that there have been undercurrents on this front for quite sometime now. There have been peak and low points of such a cyber war and it usually escalates at the time of war of political developemtns. The idea of the people from across the border is to create instability by defacing Indian websites. Moreover if you notice that they have been attacking important sites only to show the netizens that if websites owned by powerful persons can be hacked then the entire establishment is weak.

It is high time that India puts in place a dedicated cyber army to protect the sovereign rights of India in cyber space. We do not have a dedicated cyber army which could work constructively to wade off external threats on our cyber space. There is a political will, but flow of such a thought process is missing. We need to take a step further to ensure pro-active preservation of our cyber security and it needs to be government sponsored since today our cyber space is extremely vulnerable.

Rahul asks youth to learn to question

Rahul Gandhi, commenced his two day Karnataka tour at Mysore in which he sought to connect to the youth as part of his Future of India and Youth Programme. The city of Mysore which is 120 kilometres away from Bangalore was buzzing with activity in the wake of his visit.

During his interaction with at the St Philomenas College in Mysore, he told the students and the other youth numbering around 600 present over there that the only way to move forward is to develop a questioning attitude. During the hour long interaction he said that one can grow only through questioning — question yourself, question others and question the people in authority.

Rahul Gandhi arrived at Bangalore early this morning and left for Mysore in a chartered flight at around 9.30 AM. On his arrival at Mysore he was immediately escorted to the college where he delivered the address and also interacted with the students.

He called upon the youth to join him in order to develop the country and said that the youth could play a vital role in the political arena as well. He also spoke about the need to join hands and fight the menace of terrorism and said that there is a need to eradicate it completely if the country needed to progress.

The students at Mysore were an excited lot but were in for a huge disappointment when they realised only 600 would be allowed to interact with Rahul Gandhi. Prior to the interaction they were given a list of dos and donts during the interaction.

Principal of the college Leslie Moras told students to refrain from asking personal questions and focus only on queries pertaining to the future of the youth and also education. The Police had a tough time trying to control students who tried to get close to the leader

After this interaction he left for Shimoga, the home constituency of Karnataka Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa. Rahul is on a mission to mobilize the youth to join politics and will hold similar programmes in other states as well. He will also hold discussions with the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Student Congress, regarding the strategy to mobilize more youth into the movement.

After his meeting at Shimoga, Rahul will travel to Hubli where he will spend the night. On Saturday he will visit Gulbarga before coming back to Bangalore and then leave for New Delhi the same day.

In M’lore its Islamic dons vs Hindu dons

The Karnataka and the Andhra Pradesh police with the help of the intelligence bureau made a very important arrest two days back in Bangalore. Altaf, alleged to be an accomplice of Chota Shakeel of the D Gang was picked up at Cottonpet in Bangalore two days back. Although he has been accused of trying to strike a deal with the naxals in India, the police see a bigger modus operandi and says that his ultimate goal was stamp the presence of the D Gang in Mangalore.

The last one and half years where Mangalore has been concerned is very interesting. Termed as a Mini Bombay of India, this costal region in Karnataka has always been a battle ground between the D gang and the local dons.

Police sources in Mangalore say that the fight has become Islamic Dons vs the Hindu dons. At least that is the way in which the underworld is being portrayed at the moment in this area today. Ravi Poojary who has fast set up base has openly proclaimed that he is a don for the Hindus and is a patriot. He has managed to make a lot of ground in the Mangalore area after he adopted such a slogan, the police point out.

However for the members of the D Gang it is a fight to finish off the Poojary dominance in this belt and regain lost ground. Around 16 years back this gang enjoyed the support of some of the local underworld operatives.

However off late the Mangalore belt has witnessed a lot of communal polarization and this has changed the manner in which the underworld too works.

Let us take a look at the efforts that are being made by the D Gang to set up base in Mangalore.

After a lull for a very long time, the D Gang sent in Rasheed Malabari. Apart from being given the brief to eliminate Varun Gandhi, he was told to get back the lost ground in Mangalore. However as he was in the midst of such a process, he was arrested by the police and continues to remain in custody.

Immediately after this set back for the D Gang, they faced yet another hurdle when one of the lawyers who argues cases for Malabari was shot dead. The lawyer was Naushad Kashimji who was representing Malabari and this operation, the police believe was the handiwork of rival gangs.

The D Gang was however quick to react and appointed a person by the name Yusuf Madoor (32) who originally is a resident of the neighbouring Kasargod area. The police say that Madoor was making inroads and was carrying out operations for a period of at least 6 months. He operated most of the time out of Kasargod where he enjoyed a lot of clout. The police claim that the rival dons are unable to operate with ease in Kasargod since they don’t have the local support and hence several attempts to eliminate him failed.

However the police was building a case against Madoor and kept a watch on him. Madoor who realised that the police had upped the ante against him managed to slip out of India and set up shop in Riyadh. Madoor during his stay in India prior to fleeing had set up a hawala network and was also involved in various extortion activities according to the plan of the D Gang. He had begun to establish supremacy, but the heat from the police got too much for him to bear thus forcing him to flee. The police who had built an excellent case against him managed to nab him in Riyadh with the help of the Interpol and brought him down for interrogation.

Following the arrest of Madoor, the D Gang sent in Altaf to start off from where Madoor had left. However this time around there was an ISI rider to this operation and he was specifically instructed to make contact with the naxals. His interrogation has revealed that he was to hand over money to a naxal sympathizer and then proceed to Mangalore where he would set up shop.

The Mangalore police however are heaving a sigh of relief with the arrest of Altaf and when contacted they said that this is yet another attempt of the D Gang to set up base which has been foiled.

The police however say that this war between the underworld which commenced after the 1993 riots is expected to continue. These dons are termed as traitor dons and patriotic dons by one another and the battle for supremacy will continue and we have a huge job on hand.

While for the so called patriotic dons, Mangalore is a good base due to the local support they enjoy, the D Gang is more into the logistics and the link this coastal town has to Dubai. They find the town shaping up on the lines of Mumbai with real estate prices shooting up thus giving them extorition opportunities. In the past one year at least 23 cases of extortion have been booked against various persons thus giving the indication that the threat of the underworld is growing each day. In addition to this there is the sea which makes their operations even more easier and hence both parties are not ready to let go of Mangalore, the police say.

Deadly nexus: ISI-underworld-naxals

The arrest of four persons from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh a couple of days back has thrown light on the alleged links between the ISI and the naxal movement in India.

Both security agencies as well as the intelligence bureau have repeatedly warned to keep a watch on the activities of both the naxals and also terrorist groups from Pakistan. M L Kumawat, former Chief of the Border Security Force had told in an earlier interaction that the naxals have a single point agenda and that was to derail democracy in India. To attain this they can go to any lengths and even team up with terror groups for this purpose.

Information that has been gathered by the Intelligence Bureau so far would go on to suggest exactly this. IB sources told that the move to team up with the naxal movement started around a year back. The ISI jumped to seize such an opportunity and decided the entire operation would be logistics vs arms.

The first of the attempts was made by the ISI when it sent in Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative Ummer Madani into India to start the process of teaming up with the naxals. Madani who is half a century old was one of the financers working for the Lashkar. He was sent in from Pakistan via Nepal in the month of May 2009 to strike a deal with the naxals.

He was however arrested by the Delhi police and during his very long interrogation this is what he had to say. I was told to meet with the Lashkar handlers in India and hand over money to them. This money was specifically supposed to be passed on some of the naxal leaders. I was to hold a series of meetings with my handlers in India and through them make contact with some naxal leaders. I had been specifically instructed by my higher ups to lure the naxals with money and weapons and seek logistic support in exchange. There were some attempts made before I could come into the picture but they failed and hence I was asked to do the needful.

However before Madani could complete his task, he was arrested that same year in the month of June by the Delhi police, which prompted the Lashakar to send Yusuf Salim two months later into India.

Yusuf Salim who was picked up in Kashmir by security forces was interrogated both the police and the intelligence bureau. During his interrogation, he confesses to being an operative of the Lashkar. Salim who was in possession of a Pakistani passport told his interrogators that he was on his way to Delhi where he was meet with a couple of persons who in turn would take him up to some naxal leaders. He however makes it clear to the police that the Lashkar has been sending feelers, but the deal with the naxals was not struck as yet. He too narrated the exact story that Madani did and said that his specific brief was to offer arms and finances in return for logistic support.

The recent arrest of Altaf too goes on to prove the same point. Altaf who was a member of the D gang reporting to Chota Shakeel during his interrogation too has said that they were targeting the naxal movement. However unlike the others, he did manage to get in touch with a sympathizer of the movement and was all set to hand over Rs 25 lakh in cash before he was picked up two days back by the Cottonpet police in Bangalore.

The IB says that the Lashkar and the ISI are desperate for logistic support. They believe that the naxals enjoy a great deal of local support which in turn makes their operations a success. The naxals in turn are looking for more sophisticated arms and finances which is drying out thanks to increased movement of security forces in their bastions.

In addition to this the Lashkar is also seeking help of the naxals to set up more sleeper cells. They have already identified areas such as Nanded, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to set up more such cells.

The IB says that in the days to come, each and every terrorist who infiltrates into India will come in with the sole purpose of striking deals with the naxals. Security forces have to be on the look out or else this problem could go from bad to worse.

Terror financing in India linked to Pak

India has decided to take the issue of money laundering in terror operations on a world stage and the latest inputs that it has managed to piece together is an indication of how big this menace has become.

Investigations that have been conducted by the Financial Wing of the Indian Intelligence go on to show that nearly 24 billion US dollars have come into the Indian market and this amount is being specifically used for terrorism purposes. Worse the number of illegal transactions to fund terror has gone up to nearly 6000 in the years 2009-10 in comparison to 367 between the years 2005 and 2007.

A report that has been prepared to this effect has been handed over to the Financial Action Task Force as per the recommendation of the United States of America which had some time back told India to work along with this wing in order to curb terror financing. India also saw the need to work alongside the FATF since financing was an international issue.

However the IB which has worked as per the directive of the Finance Ministry has found that there are several high profile personalities who are involved in this racket. Intelligence Bureau officials working on this project told that there are many high profile personalities who are involved in this aspect. These are just mules who are being used to give the impression that the money which is pumped in gets a legal look and feel to it. They have also claimed to have seized Rs 150 crore in cash from a couple of people after they got wind of the fact that this money was being used to finance terror activities in the country.

The IB says that Dawood continues to be the biggest financer of terror and in the report submitted to the FATF, they have made a mention of the same. His network has being growing very rapidly and since the past couple of months, the financing activities have gone up multi fold they pointed out.

Counterfieting used to be his major operation to raise money for terror financing, but off late that has come down thanks to a great deal of security which has been put in place. We have information that they are improvising in Pakistan to work around the security pattern but as of now this menace has come down.

However there has been a steady rise in the narcotics trade which itself amounts to billions of dollars. The D-Gang has upped this trade a great deal and have struck a 60:40 deal with the ISI sponsored groups in Pakistan. This would mean that the D-gang would have to part with 40 per cent of the income that it generates from this trade to the ISI which in turn uses the same for terror financing.

There is a lot of work to be done regarding this aspect and there is also a need to cut the finances at the source. We are sure that a lot of this money is being pumped into the Indian market through film producers and also businessmen. These persons hold the money for these terror groups and later it is picked up by the point men appointed by them.

The report to the FATF makes plenty of mention about Pakistan. The IB feels that there ought to be pressure from the international community. We can clean up our house, but to get something done in Pakistan, there has to be international intervention.

The money is being laundered into the Indian market and the most common routes that are being used at the ones through the UAE, Bangladesh Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand and very recently Sri Lanka also.

The money which is generated out of Pakistan is pumped into the above mentioned countries and each of these countries the ISI has set up point men who collect and then deliver it into India. In India it usually lands up with respectable individuals who hold the money for a certain period of time, until they are instructed to hand it over.

Conviction rate: While it was earlier mentioned that the number of cases which are pending in files in relation to illegal transfer of funds is 7000. However the shocking aspect is that there has been just one conviction till date from the year 2005. Legal experts say that the conviction in such cases is extremely tough. This is not an issue which pertains to just India and it has its routes outside the country. The evidence from the other countries is never forthcoming and hence it at the end of it becomes a case of presumption which is never good enough to seek a conviction. Hence it is essential to work around with the FATF and agencies of other countries in order to ensure a better conviction rate.

Madani arrested for role in Blore blasts case

Abdul Nasar Madani who is on the radar of the Karnataka police for his alleged role in the Bangalore blasts case is most likely to surrender than being arrested. A member of the Karnataka police team informed that when they approached Madani at Kerala and sought to pick him up, he himself suggested to them that he should be allowed to surrender.

Madani reportedly told the police, “why do you want to arrest me. If you do, it will only lead to a law and order problem. Let me surrender instead and I am ready to cooperate fully with the investigation. However don’t expect me to surrender immediately, I need some time before I can do that.”

Earlier during the day, there was talk that the Bangalore police are waiting for a formal nod from the Karnataka Home Minister before they can carry out the arrest. The Home Minister, Dr V S Acharya however told that he has no information of what exactly is going on there. I am aware that there is a team, but whether they carry out the arrest or not does not come under my purview. Don’t be under the impression that the Home Minister has to approve the arrest. The police work under the provisions of the Cr PC and the IPC and they are empowered to take action. There is a commissioner of police and a Director General of Police who are the competent authorities to take such a decision.

For the Bangalore police, the major concern is the law and order problem. At present they are pushing hard for a surrender so that they can bring him down to Bangalore with no problem whatsoever. Their counterparts in Kerala too have allayed fears of a law and order problem and have told the Karnataka team they should push for a surrender.

All about HuJI and its terror trail

The United States of America and the United Nations declaring the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami as a terrorist organisation recently has come as a welcome relief for India, especially since this dreaded outfit has been spreading its tentacles across the country. Vicky Nanjappa takes a look at the inception of HuJI and also the major attacks that it has been involved in.

The beginning:

HuJI is commonly known as the ‘younger sister’ of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and is a Bangladesh-based outfit. Their primary focus is West Bengal and also southern India. Intelligence Bureau sources say that their strongest base is in Kerala, and most of their cadres come from there.

Although this outfit has come to the forefront only recently, the IB says that it has been existent since the Soviet invasion of in Afghanistan (1979-1989). Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and the Lashkar found the need to branch out and have a strong base in Bangladesh, and hence created the HuJI.

At that point of time, the main idea was to train men and send them for the war against the Soviets.. After the war, it merged with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and also the Harkat-ul-Ansar, and continued the fight in Kashmir for a while.

It was then that the ISI felt that it was necessary to have a Lashkar-like outfit in Bangladesh. All the fighters battling in Kashmir were pulled out and there was a lull until 1992. The year, the outfit was re-launched as the Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami Bangladesh, and since then it has been operating from there.

Since then the HuJI has been fighting against the Bangladesh government and has always fought to ensure that Islamic rule is imposed completely there.

While the HuJI has been active in Bangladesh for a long time now, there was a shift in its operations from 2000 onwards. There was a directive from the Pakistan based groups and the ISI to start concentrating on India and also begin the infiltration process through the West Bengal borders.

The India operations were launched under the leadership of Bashir Ahmed Mir who proved to be very effective. Prior to being shot dead in Jammu and Kashmir in 2008, Mir had undertaken various operations apart from setting up the command base in India.

He did a long stint in Manshera in Pakistan where he recruited people for the outfit. He shuttled often between Bangladesh and Pakistan before he was killed, the IB points out.

The IB says that Mir managed to set up bases in India with ease with the help of Shahid Bilal, the Hyderabad-based operative who was blamed for the twin blasts in the city. Bilal had a major following in Hyderabad and managed to recruit boys with ease.

However, Bilal was killed in an encounter in Pakistan. His death saw a slow down of operations in Hyderabad, and the HuJI decided to gradually migrate to Kerala where they saw a huge potential in the communally-sensitive state.

The IB says that the HuJI has never found it a problem to appoint successors. Bilal was specifically told to focus on operations in Gujarat as well. He took the help of Rasool Khan Party to build operations in Gujarat. It is alleged that the duo had even masterminded the assassination of Haren Pandya, the then home minister of Gujarat.

The death of Bilal was quite a setback for the outfit. But they managed to find Amjad Mohammad, a Bangladesh-based operative, to take over from Bilal. Amjad has primarily been focusing on West Bengal and Kerala. In these two states the outfit today has a cadre strength of 750 persons, IB reports suggest.


The HuJI today is a large force, says the IB. While India is their primary concern, they are believed to operate along with other Pakistan-based groups in 20 other countries such as Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Iran among others.

Intelligence reports suggest that they operate more in the southern parts of India and Kerala will continue to remain the target.

In West Bengal,where they started off their India operations, they have been advised to go slow since there is already unrest being caused by the Naxals.

It is believed that the HuJI plays a great role in helping the Naxal movement and there have been evidence of them having supplied arms and providing financial assistance to the Naxals in Bengal. HuJI, however, has only one major operation to its credit in the state — the attack on the American Centre in Kolkata in 2002.

Today in India a large number of cadres belonging to the HuJI are ex-Students Islamic Movement of India operatives who had in the past provided logistical support to the group.

Kashmiri link:

Today the entire operation of the HuJI is being controlled by Ilyas Kashmiri who is based in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

Although Indian intelligence officials have been issued warnings regarding this man, he started to be taken seriously by the United States of America only after LeT operative David Headley confession.

Headley had repeatedly spoken about Kashmiri and his role in the HuJI. Kashmiri along with Amjad had stated on several occasions that they relied heavily on the cadres from Kerala to build their India force.

Moreover they were planning another 26/11 type attack in India, intelligence alerts point out.

Trail of terror:

The first of the terror strikes undertaken by the HuJI was in 2002 when it carried out an attack on the American Centre in Kolkata. The attack left five police personnel dead. Investigations led to the HuJI trail and even the outfit claimed responsibility for the attack.

They announced their arrival in south India when they sent a suicide bomber into the Special Task Force office in Hyderabad in 2005. One policeman died in the incident. Two months later in the same year, an attack was carried out at the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore in which one professor was killed.

In 2006, HuJI executed a successful attack in association with SIMI at the Sankatmochan Temple and the railway station at Varanasi.

A year later, the HuJI carried out its biggest attack on Indian soil when two blasts took place simultaneously in Hyderabad. The twin blasts at the Gokul Chats and the Lumbini Park killed 40 persons. This attack was masterminded by Bilal in retaliation to the Mecca Masjid blasts.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Congress power show in Bellary

The Congress had to wait at least ten years to put up a show like the way they did in Bellary today. Having lost nine years in a row to the BJP in this high profile Bellary which is the mining district, the Congress leaders concluded their padayatra which lasted 16 days and 300 kilomtres on Monday.

We have accepted and won the challenge, the Congress leaders who were dared by the Reddy brothers to step into home turf said on reaching Bellary. Bellary was quite a sight on Monday. Almost every resident of Bellary barring the Reddy brothers were present on home turf to witness this event. The Congress wore a picture of unity with Union Ministers, S M Krishna, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Veerappa Moily, Ghulam Nabi Azad and K H Muniyappa joining the state leaders who reached in the afternoon.

All the leaders of the Congress were unanimous in their demand. They said that there is no other option but to hand over the investigation into the illegal mining scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation. They said that their entire idea of going on a padayatra was to highlight the misdoings of the BJP government in Karnataka.

Ghulam Nabi Azad reminded the people that the union government was not weak and added that it would act on this issue. He said that it was high time that the state government in Karnataka too acted and took action against those guilty.

Siddaramaiah, the opposition leader was the crowd favourite. While demanding a CBI probe into illegal mining, he challenged the Reddys to come clean in public. How have you people earned so much money in the past six years? Let us compare what you used to earn in 2004 and what you earn now. Make your income tax filings public and let us see what you have to say to the public? If you call yourself as a representative of the public then tell the public what you own and what you earn.

The Congress leaders said that this was not the end of their fight. We have slept in the assembly and then we have taken this yatra out. Our fight does not stop here and will end only once a CBI probe is instituted into this multi crore scam. They also felt that the only way to save the state is to change the government which has failed the people miserably.

According to the police there were over 15000 people who had come to witness the event. The turf of the Reddys was dominated by the Congress supporters today. The Reddys were however away on their own yatra to prove their innocence. They had said earlier that this is a democracy and they would not obstruct anyone who enters their turf. They however challenged the Congress to win one single seat from Bellary.

The Congress leaders who marched into Bellary were seen sporting Gandhi caps and were holding the tri-colour. Lookking tired and tanned after walking for 16 days, they reached the iron ore rich district forming a seven kilometer long human chain.

The police who were around 5000 in number were all assembled around the district stadium in Bellary. Security was tight and the entire event was monitored through close circuit televisions.

Images: Jagadish Kurugodu