CBI picks up AP excise minister

Photo courtesy: AP Live

In  major operation the CBI on Thursday arrested Andhra Pradesh Excise minister M Venkata Ramana in connection with the Jagan Mohan Reddy case. The arrest comes exactly a day before Jagan could be questioned by the CBI.
The allegation was that Venkata Ramana had played a role in the Vanpic deal. Vanpic a company owned by N Prasad had got land allocated during the YSR regime. Prasad is alleged to have invested money in Jagan’s holdings and the CBI believes this was a way of returning the favour for the land that was allocated to his company. It is alleged that Venkata Ramana had played a key role during the cabinet meeting when the land was alloted.
Venkata Ramana the excise minister was seen as a close aide of Jagan. Although he never openly spoke in favour of Jagan, sources say he was very close to Jagan Reddy and was also a YSR loyalist.
The arrest gains importance as it comes a day before Jagan’s questioning. The minister had been called in for questioning by the CBI yesterday. He was questioned today as well following which the arrest was made.

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Natl. exec- Yeddy continues to sulk

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

While the issue regarding Narendra Modi’s presence at the BJP’s national executive meet appears to be solved, B S Yeddyurappa has stuck to his stand of not attending the same.
Yeddyurappa who has not missed a single executive meeting of his party in the past two decades will be missing at the meet to be held tomorrow and on Saturday. Yeddyurappa, his followers including five cabinet colleagues will not attend the meet.
The central leadership has also decided to play down this incident and sources say no attempt was made to coax Yeddyurappa to change his mind. They are letting the issue die a natural death as they would want to focus their attention of national issues now.
However Yeddyurappa who has been trying to arm twist his party leadership has not had much success. However there does not appear to be an end to his demands and today he has demanded a fair share of tickets for his followers in the forthcoming legislative council elections. His supporters say that Yeddyurappa cannot be ignored. Yeddyurappa would continue to step up the heat and does not even mind if he is suspended from the party for now.
However the rest of the Karnataka BJP leaders including Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda will be present at the meet tomorrow.

Jagan Reddy- What is in store for him?

Illustration courtesy: India Today

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been clamped in the city of Hyderabad ahead of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Jagan will be questioned by the CBI in connection with the disproportionate assets case tomorrow at 10 AM.

Anticipating trouble the state administration has clamped Section 144 Cr PC in Hyderabad and the orders will remain in place till the 29th of May.

The Jagan camp appears to be tense ahead of this questioning as they feel that this procedure is a step closer to his arrest. Jagan who is currently campaigning at Guntur will have to be present before the CBI officials at 10 AM tomorrow and his questioning is likely to last the entire day, sources informed. Jagan however has said that he will cooperate with the CBI as he has nothing to hide and would go through the drill tomorrow.

This is the first time that the CBI is questioning Jagan Reddy of the YSR Congress party ever since they took over the investigations into the case. Although they have already filed a preliminary chargesheet against him and the other co accused in the case, they had not questioned him. This infact had become a major defence for Jagan Reddy and he claimed innocence on the ground that had the CBI had anything against him, they would have questioned him by now.

However the CBI realising the high profile nature of this case has not acted on its own in this entire case and instead relied always on the verdict of the court. Even before questioning Reddy, they had approached the special CBI court which granted permission to question him. This was however challenged before the Andhra Pradesh High Court which on Wednesday refused to interfere with the order of the Special CBI court.

Ever since the CBI began investigation there was always this talk of his arrest. However Jagan took cover under Section 41 A of the Cr.PC which clearly states that no arrest can be carried out unless and until a notice of appearance is served and the accused questioned. However today the scenario is different and the provisions under Section 41 A have been fulfilled by the CBI and after the questioning they are empowered to arrest him.

However sources also indicate that although an arrest in this case is imminent, it still may not take place immediately. The CBI as has always done in this case will continue to go by the book and would prefer the court to issue directives on how they should proceed. This particular case has a lot of political ramifications and any move suo motu by the CBI will be viewed as a directive by the Congress at the centre. It is a well known fact that Jagan is the biggest worry for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

The CBI would take this case step by step as from tomorrow on wards the major focus of the case would be Jagan alone as the investigation of the rest of his associates has already been completed. They would first question him and during the procedure verify the evidence they have on their hand. Following this the same would be corroborated and then a final chargesheet in the case will be filed following which it would be placed before the court. If the court finds it necessary then it could order the arrest of Jagan. However prior to this exercise if the CBI feels that Jagan is likely to abscond or tamper with evidence, the agency could arrest him even without an order from the court. However this is an unlikely scenario.

Some political observers in Andhra Pradesh however feel that there is likely to be a compromise formula at the end of all this. It would largely depend on Jagan and how much he is willing to fight or break the Congress in the state. The likelihood of Jagan allying with the Congress just before the elections is also not ruled out as he would be left with no choice thanks to the pressure of these cases against him.

The other option on hand for Jagan is to continue this battle and in the event of him going to jail ask his mother to take over the mantle of the party until he is cleared. The Congress would however not want that either as they are aware that Jagan’s mother who is the wife of the late Dr Y S Rajasekara Reddy is quite capable of causing more damage with a sympathy factor under her belt. The Congress does realise that their real problem is Jagan and not Telangana. All the leaders from Telangana and also other parts of the state have managed to convince the high command that it is Jagan who would be the big worry for them in the state and unless this issue is dealt with the future of the party looks bleak in the state.

Jagan has to appear before CBI-APHC

It was a major set back for Jagan Mohan Reddy as the High Court of Andhra Pradesh refused to entertain his plea to stay his appearence before the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the illegal assets case. Justice Chandrakumar upheld the order of the CBI court which directed Jagan to appear before the CBI officials on May 25th.
Jagan had moved the court seeking a postponment on the date of appearence. He had said that he be allowed to appear before the CBI after June 15th as he was busy with his campaign until then. The court however refused to intefere with the order of the CbBI court.
The High Court however made it clear that the provisions under Section 41 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure will be followed while dealing with this case. Section 41 A of the CrPC states that a person shall not be arrested unless he is issued with an appearence notice and questioned. The provision also states that an arrest shall be carried out without questioning only if that person fails to appear on the date of the summons before the investigating authority.

HuJi eyes women now

Photo courtesy: facenfacts.com

There have been many reports in the past as to how terrorist outfits preferred recruiting women into their fold in order carry out subversive activities. It was the Al-Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which had started using women for their activities and most of the times it was seen that these women acted as carriers. However today the Indian Intelligence Bureau points out that even the Harkat-ul-Jihadi Islami or the HuJI has been adopting to similar tactics.

The Bangladesh based HuJI which operates largely in Bihar, West Bengal and the North Eastern states has been conducting meetings to recruit women according to a report of the Intelligence Bureau. The recent reports which state the ease with which cadres are being transported across the border has stepped the heat up to a large extent on the outfit as a result of which they are finding operations to be difficult. Moreover the recent busting of the various modules of the Indian Mujahideen in these areas has also added to the problem for the HuJI as there appears to be a lot of scrutiny of the activities on the border.

It is in this context that the HuJI has decided to change its game plan and has decided to recruit women and also train them in order to carry out terror activities in India. The HuJI already has a lot of camps in India. In addition to this it has a dedicated set of touts who help ferry across their cadres between Bangladesh and India.

The first clue of the HuJi recruiting women for its operations came to light during the interrogation of Mufti Ibrahim who was held for attempting to assassinate Shaikh Hasina. It was he who made it known to the police that there was a large scale recruitment of women into the HuJI. He had said that the women would be used to plant bombs and also in suicide missions both in Bangladesh and India.

Based on this information the Intelligence Bureau launched an operation of its own in which it found that there were large scale meetings that took place in order to recruit women into the HuJI. It was found that the HuJI was conducting meetings in both Bihar and West Bengal in areas where the number of illegal settlements are high. They have been targeting younger women with monetary gains and luring them to get into their outfit. According to IB sources the girls that are being recruited are in the age group of 20 to 25.

The HuJI feels that recruiting women would be a safe bet for them as they tend to go unnoticed during an operation. Moreover these women whom they plan on recruiting would carry out various tasks such as transport of material from across the border and over a period of time even help the HuJI carry out blasts as well as suicide missions.

The recruitment of women has often been spoken about in terror circles. Each terror group has favoured having women in their organisation, but their use in operations has not been tested to the fullest as yet. The IB says that even in local terror modules the use of women has been explored, but they have really not been able to push them on to the field as of now. Only the LTTE has been able to use women in their operations to the fullest and they have had a success rate. However it may be a while before these terror groups actually send out women in their full strength as they still consider it to be their trump card and would like to keep the surprise element alive when they use them in a big way.

However an official in the intelligence says that it is worrying factor. There have been many indications of women being recruited and it is not something that can be taken lightly as there are no direct instances to show that they have been used for what they have been trained. Women have been found to be used to circulate fake currency. In Hyderabad there was an instance to show the growth of a Shaheen force run by the Students’ Islamic Movement of India. The main job of this force was not to take part directly in operations, but to ensure that they recruit youth into the force.

However groups such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the HuJI would use them for bigger operations and that is something that needs to be monitored. Moreover they are also aware that there is plenty of heat on the male cadres when they move across borders and the checking when it comes to a woman is much less. This is advantageous for them and they are likely to use this to the fullest. The IB warns that there are several dedicated routes through which a lot of human trafficking takes place and these terror groups are most likely to use that route for their activities.

Train crash update

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The death toll in the Hampi train crash has gone up to 25. This was confirmed by Ananthpur district collector Durga Das.
Mukul Roy who is in Bangalore said that he has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the family of the deceased. He also told reporters that they would accomodate members of the family of the deceased in case they wanted to join the railways.
It is sad that so many precious lives have been lost and I have ordered a probe into the incident. He also confirmed the death toll at 19 and the number of injured as 35.
He said he will be visiting the spot right now and added that he would discuss this matter. When asked if there was some issue with the signal he said that the railways was looking to introduce the train protection signal system. It would be introduced as early as possible but added he would not be in a position to tell exactly as to how soon it would be done.
He also said that it was too early to comment whether the crash occured due to a technical or human fault.
Meanwhile the Karnataka government has announced compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the families of the deceased.
Update:
Preliminary investigations into the Hampi train crash shows that it was a human error which led to the tragedy. Sources informed that the dtat logger which is attached to the signal confirms that it was an error on part of the driver which led to the incident.
As rescue operations continued at the spot it has been confirmed that both drivers, Balraj and Yeshu are safe. Infact they are being questioned by the railway authorities who are ascertaining the cause of the accident.

Train collision at AP

At least 13 people died and 30 were injured when a train collided into a goods train at Penneconda, Andhra Pradesh early this morning. The Hampi express which was travelling between Hubli and Bangalore rammed into a goods train at 3.15 AM today near the Penneconda station in Ananthpur district. It is said that the driver of the passenger train over shot the signal which led to the collision. As a result of the collision the train derailed and two coaches caught fire. While the fire has been brought under control, rescue operations are still on.
The injured are receiving medical treatment at a near by hospital.

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26/11- will justice be done?

Photo courtesy: indianexpress.com

For Vinita Kamte, wife of the late Ashok Kamte the battle has been a long one. Exactly a year after Vinita in her book “To the Last Bullet” pieced together information about the sequence of events that preceded her husband’s death at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists.

Vinita conducted various inquiries and managed to uncover glaring lapses in the coordination on that fateful night of 26/11 which turned out to be the biggest ever attack on Indian soil. The irony however is that despite establishing through call log records which were procured under the Right to Information Act that there were acts of negligence there appears to be no action what so ever which has been taken against those erring officials.

Life has been hard for Vinita Kamte who says today that she will have to fight on for the honour of her husband. Speaking to rediff.com Vinita says that she feels that the records are being tampered with but also adds that she will need to fight this for her husband’s honour.

For Vinita to know exactly what had happened that night she decided to procure the call records from the police under the RTI act. On January 28 2009 she wrote to the commissioner of police seeking the call records of her husband’s mobiles. She waited for a month and when no information was forthcoming she decided to use the RTI. However her application was rejected on the ground that it would hamper the investigation. A note in the letter of rejection was pinned in which there was a note by Rakesh Maria which stated, “Please reject the information sought by Mrs Vinita Kamte under the RTI Act.

The information cannot be given to her under Sec 8 (h) of the said Act.”’ Vinita then moved the deputy commissioner of police. While allowing her application in party, the officer permitted only inspection of the records and there was no permission to procure the copies. However there was a long wait as she wanted to inspect the original documents but was told that it had been given to the Ram Pradhan committee. A letter was then written to the committee. However a member of the committee wrote back stating that they had in their possession only certified copies as they were not provided with the originals. She immediately wrote to the commissioner of police who sought legal advise only to tell her later that she would be permitted only to inspect the documents. She sent her representative for inspection of the call log records which were not the originals. Another RTI application was filed seeking call records written and also audio call records of the calls made to the control room 100 that night. This application was rejected following which she made an appeal. This was allowed and the police directed to give her certified copies of the original call log records—written and audio—within 30 days.

What followed was a set of shocking revelations:

The jist of the information procured is below:

Ashok Kamte was called from his Eastern region where he was on nakabandi duty. He was called to South Bombay by the commissioner which is an indication that the portrayal that he went in a hurry was wrong.

The ATS chief at that time Hemant Karkare had at 11.24 PM sought police reinforcement of 150 policemen to seal the front side of Cama Hospital. The call log also shows that he had ordered calling in the army immediately.

Ater the three officers lay injured, two police vans—one after three minutes of the firing in the Rang Bhavan Lane adjacent to Cama Hospital—passed by but did not stop for help or report to the Control Room. Then after about 30 minutes, another police vehicle passed by, but despite the officers lying on the road, profusely bleeding, the vehicle did not stop for help.

The police had claimed that it had sent 150 police men but they were not around, may be because they were not asked to specifically report to Karkare or Kamte. Another aspect noticed was that despite residents near the Cama hospital urging constables to send police immediately, these details had not been reported to the three officers by the control room.

Vinita says that she got two set of records and these documents were different. I was given wrong information too and somebody needs to be punished for that. I get this feeling that the records are being tampered with. It is sad that there was a cover up of all these incidents. Even the Ram Pradhan Committee was one sided. Despite making a request that I wanted to appear before the committee and share my version, I was not called.

It is sad that we have to fight for the honour of husbands due to these glaring loop holes in the system. If they do this to their own colleagues then how safe is the public?

You ask me if the system has reacted in such a manner would this deter people from joining the Indian Police Service. From the response that I have got I get to see that there are many who still want to join the force. It is good to see such a response although there are many who are disappointed with the manner in which the system has reacted.

Action against those who are responsible for this? Well, there has been none at all so far. In fact I do not think that there would be action either. But it is my duty to speak up and expose what has happened so that it at least acts as a deterrent not to be careless in future.

It has not been easy this battle of mine. There have been delays and plenty of hurdles. At times some have even stooped to such levels that I cannot even speak about it. I do not want to get into those details as it is more important for me to fight this battle. The battle has been frustrating thanks to the kind of responses that I have got. There is a lot of time I have dedicated to this battle. My kids are my first priority and thanks to this battle I had neglected them a lot.

Although I am aware that it is difficult to fight this system I still feel that it would be wrong on my part to stop. I can at least expose the system. What they do with their own colleagues is unpardonable.

Not available for any other party-BSY

Yedyurapa rejects congress offer
B S Yeddyurappa, former Chief Minister of Karnataka has rejected an open offer to join the Congress. Addressing the media at Bangalore today, Yeddyurappa said that there is no question of him joining the Congress or any other party. 
The outburst came following an invitation by Karnataka Congress chief K Parameshwar who had invited Yeddyurappa to join the Congress. He had said that Yeddyurappa is welcome to join the Congress and hw would have to register as a member first for this.
Yeddyurappa who has been bitten by CBI raids however did not appear to go soft on his own party. He made it clear that there are some issues and hence he would not attend the national executive meeting of the BJP.
He also took a dig at party colleague Ananth Kumar once again and said he is not allowing anyone to grow in the BJP. Yeddyurappa also clarified that he is neither a contender for the post of Chief Minister or party president.
Yeddyurappa and the BJP have a long day ahead as the national leaders are in town to iron out the differences in the state BJP.

CBI raid at Yeddy’s- a comedy of errors!

It was a comedy of errors when a special team of the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the residence of former chief minister of Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa.
While CBI continued to seize documents galore Yeddyruappa realized later that the 40 resignation letters of his loyalists to has become part of the seizure.
These resignation letters have been handed over to Yeddyurappa by his loyalists a couple days prior to the CBI raid. His loyalists who were upset with the functioning of Sadanand Gowda chief Minister of Karnataka had authorized Yeddyrupappa to take a final call on the resignation. However, with the emissary of the BJP coming down to Blore today to patch things up in the state BJP Yeddyriuappa finds himself in an awkward position as the most powerful bargaining tool- the 40 resignation letters are in the custody of the CBI.
These letters are not relevant to the investigation against Yeddyurpappa and CBI sources inform that it is routine procedure to seize every document in sight while the raid is on. It is only later that the irrelevant documents are returned. CBI also says that in case Yeddyurappa needs these documents urgently then he could always make an application and on the merits of which it would be considered.