Girish Kasarvalli pays tribute to Vishnuvardhan

Today, Karnataka has lost one of its greatest actors. The death of the Sahasasimha Dr Vishnuvardhan has left a vaccum in the film industry and many say that this space can never be filled up.

Renowned director Girish Kasarvalli pays a fitting tribute to the superstar and takes us through his thoughts of Dr Vishnuvardhan, originally known as Sampath Kumar.

The Kannada industry has seen many stars. What made Dr Vishnuvardhan unique was his style of acting.

He was effortless when it came to acting. I would say that he is one of the most sensitive actors the industry has ever produced. The manner in which he approached every role was simply amazing. There was a sensitivity that was involved in the manner in which he handled roles given to him and this was one of the primary reasons why he stood above the rest.

Vishnuvardhan had the courage to attempt a lot of roles. He handled the roles with such ease. Look at the manner in which he played an angry young man in Naagarahavu.

Although he was largely accepted at that time as an angry young man, he did not stagnate. Instead, he attempted various other roles and played them with such ease that they were also successful.

I would like to mention two films here, Muthina Haara and Bandhana. The characters played by him in these movies gave his career a new dimension. His role as an army officer in Muthina Haara is worth a mention since it has several shades.

His performance in Bandhana was path-breaking too. He plays a romantic hero and has handled it with such ease. I feel that these are two very important movies in his career, which propelled him to superstardom.

Younger film actors can learn a lot from Dr Vishnuvardhan. Besides his acting skills, I would tell youngsters to follow the way he delivers his dialogues. I feel he had the best dialogue delivery in the industry. The power and ease with which he delivered his dialogues is something that every young and aspiring actor can learn from.

As a human being, Vishnuvardhan was an extremely decent man, who never turned down anyone who needed help. He had many friends in the industry and all of them swear by him till date. That is quite a rare trait for a big star.

The loss is unbearable and terrible. It is impossible for us to reconcile this loss. All I would like to say that he is one of the most popular actors and a noble human being who will be missed by all of us.

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‘Sahasasimha’ Vishnuvardhan passes away

Leading Kannada film actor Dr Vishnuvardhan passed away at Mysore in the wee hours of Wednesday following a cardiac arrest.

The 54-year-old actor, popularly known as Sahasasimha, had complained of chest pain on Tuesday night. However, he passed away at around 2.30 am while being taken to Vikram Hospital in Mysore, where he was being treated for a leg problem.

The actor’s body has been kept at National College grounds in Bengaluru for visitors to pay their last respects on Wednesday.

Thousands of fans and celebrities had gathered at Vishnuvardhan’s Bengaluru residence at 4th block, Jayanagar, where his body was first kept.

The actor is married to Bharathi, a Kannada actress, and has two adopted daughters Keerthi and Chandana.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who was one of the first to reach the residence, said the state had lost one of its greatest actors.

He said he would declare the mourning period in the state and that Vishnuvardhan’s last rites would be done with complete state honours.

Yeddyurappa also called on the Fans Association to maintain calm.

Vishnuvardhan’s wife Bharathi also appealed for calm among the fans, saying her husband was a peace loving person.

Movie theatres in Karnataka will remain shut on Wednesday in respect to the departed star.

Just a day ago, the Karnataka film industry had lost another great artiste, music composer C Aswath.

Vishnuvardhan, who has acted in 190 films, was not only known as one of the greatest actors of Kannada film industry following Dr Raj Kumar, but also as a simple and generous human being.

Two of his films Aaptha Rakshaka — his 200th film — and Aaptha Mithra were to be released shortly.

Born on September 18, 1950, in Mysore as Samapth Kumar, the actor adopted the screen name Vishnuvardhan at the insistence of Puttana Kanagal, who directed him in his film Nagarahavu.

He made his debut in the film Vamshavruksha directed by Girish Karnad. The movie won a National Award.

However, it was the film Nagarahavu that took the actor to meteoric heights of fame.

Prior to becoming an actor, Vishnuvardhan had started off as a singer and has sung for selected films and devotional albums.

Karnataka minister Suresh Kumar said the state was “devastated over the death of the greatest actor of the Kannada film industry”.

Some of his biggest hits were Vamsha Vruksha, Nagarahaavu, Suprabhatha, Leela, Bandhana, Kaidhi, Yajamana and Aaptha Mithra among others.

The actor has also won many prestigious awards, including seven state awards and five Filmfare awards.

Goa was on Headley’s radar

The case pertaining to Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Headley seems to be getting murkier with each passing day. The latest on Headley is his Goa connection where he stayed for a couple of weeks and was closely associated with an American couple.

Preliminary investigations by the National Investigating Agency have revealed that Headley and his Moroccon girlfriend had kept in touch with the couple in Goa regularly. They met up quite often and there is nothing to indicate that the couple were aware of his terror plans in India.

Headley visited Goa in 2008 during the last leg of the reccee that he had conducted in Mumbai. Sources in the Intelligence Bureau told rediff.com that Headley was definitely not on a holiday in Goa, but was exploring the possibility of carrying out a terror strike in the tourist destination.

For the Lashkar, Goa was a backup option to the Mumbai attack. The idea from the very beginning was to carry out a lethal strike in which they could claim the lives of foreigners in particular.

The NIA says it is possible that Headley was using the American couple in Goa as a cover. However, investigators are not ruling out the possibility that the couple could have been in the know of what Headley was up to.

Headley, during his first visit to Goa along with his girlfriend, had visited a shack and a massage parlour that were being run illegally by the American couple. Due to the common nationality it was easy for Headley to get close to the couple. Investigations would show that he had asked them about various places in Goa. This gives the impression that Headley was laying the groundwork for an attack on Goa.

The names of the American couple are being kept a secret for the time being. The information that the NIA has managed to collect is that the couple had been working in Goa since nine years on a tourist visa. They had kept their identity a secret since they were living illegally.

The statements of the couple suggest that they had no knowledge of Headley’s plans. They have not been very forthcoming on their meetings with Headley, but have admitted to having met his girlfriend once in Goa. However, investigations have revealed that Headley had met with the couple, both with his girlfriend and also separately.

The NIA says that they have not yet given a clean chit to the American couple and would continue to probe further to ascertain whether they were in the know of Headley’s terror mission.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that the Lashkar is desperate to target Goa since it believes that such an attack would give them the most attention. They have made several attempts in the past and the last time they got close to attacking Goa was before the arrest of Hyderabad-based Lashkar operative Riazzuddin Nasir.

The IB says that there is no other reason for Headley to visit Goa apart from conducting a reccee, since he would not have taken such a risk for no reason, especially when he was in India on such an important mission.

The NIA says that it would continue its probe against the American couple in Goa and has also requested that the couple be not deported. The Goa Police, however, claim that they do not have any information on this couple. The Goa superintendent of police’s office, when contacted, said they have not yet been given any information regarding this angle to the Headley case.

Al Qaeda and D-Gang operating in Africa


The arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national who tried to set off an explosive device on board a Detroit-bound flight, has confirmed the United States administration’s fears about the presence of an active Al Qaeda terror network in several African nations including Nigeria and Kenya.

Speaking on the terror network operating inside Africa, sources in the Intelligence Bureau said that some African nations were initially used as hide-out by criminals feeling the law, including members of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s gang. Initially, Dawood’s brother Anees Ibrahim supervised the drug trade of the D-Gang, and Nigeria and Kenya were used as hubs to carry out such operations.

However, after the Mumbai serial blasts in 1993, as the police intensified the search for members of the D-Gang, several of them sought refuge in these African nations. The fugitives were led by one Abdul Karim, who was later instructed to supervise the gang’s operations in Africa.

Soon, Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence stepped in and directed the D-Gang to help Al Qaeda set up its operations in Africa. The ISI agreed to help Dawood carry out his drug trade, and members of his gang assisted Al Qaeda in setting up terror bases in the continent.

The first such base was set up in Mombassa in Kenya, under the guidance of Karim. Al Qaeda began recruiting people for terror training, and IB sources suspect that over 2,000 cadres of the terror outfits may be operating in Africa by now. Each of them has been trained in specialised terror activities and suicide strikes, they say.

Al Qaeda, which wooed like-minded extremist outfits in Africa to join its terror mission, called its front organisation the International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders.

IB officials point out that Al Qaeda modules operating in African nations planned terror strikes in Europe, while their Asian counterparts like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihadi carried out terror attacks in Asia.

Back Home


They are not meant to dance or smoke cigarettes so that some heartless Kalandar can earn his bread and butter. Speaking of Kalandars and bear dances this is now history. Just five days back, Raju the last dancing bear in India was rescued from Belgaum, Karnataka and brought to the Bannerghatta Bear sanctuary.
Wildlife SOS, which has been undertaking this operation country wide has a centre in Bangalore. At the Bannerghatta national park they run a bear rehabilitation camp which at the moment houses around 90 bears of whom have been rescued from the Kalandars across the country.
Raju the last of the dancing bears currently is in the camp and one must say there is both sorrow and joy when one sees him. We feel happy that he is out of that horrible world that he was in and the sorrow is when sees that very obviouos trauma that he has gone through. His nose has been injured and he is extremely dull. The people at the camp say that he is yet to get used to his new environment and there is another 3 to 4 months before the acclimatizing process comes to an end.
Each bear in the camp has a story to tell. Dr Yaduraj of Wildlife SOS who took us around the camp says that there are various levels before a bear is completely fit to roam around with the other bears in the sanctuary. After the bear is rescued he is brought to the camp and first quarantined. Most of these bears suffer from various ailments and TB is most the common. Once he is treated, he goes through the acclimatization process. He is kept in isolation in the beginning and only after a couple of months is he allowed to meet with the other bears in the camp. Each bear has a different nature. The new bears are first allowed to mingle with the friendly bears. Once they get used to the company, they are permitted to mingle with the rest of the bears. This process goes on for a couple of months and only once they are fully ready, they are sent to the bear sanctuary along with the rest of the bears.
The transition is amazing. It breaks your heart to see a bear that has just been rescued. However once they are allowed to mingle, the bears are more active. They are friendlier towards the other bears and are responsive when you call out to them. However the real achievement is when these bears are sent to the sanctuary. One could say that they become bears once again and all the natural characteristics are visible. A jeep filled with watermelons makes its rounds through the sanctuary and this exercise is known as fruit feeding. As we drive through the sanctuary, these bears recognize the sound of the jeep and just out of no where the entire road is filled with the bears who come running to the jeep. We are asked to lower the windows since most of these bears stand right up to you in the anticipation that we would be feeding them today. However once they are given their watermelon, they don’t appear to be bothered about your presence. The characteristics too are very natural once in the sanctuary. They are pretty aggressive and there is this regular fight among each other for space, which is only an indication that they have become bears again after suffering all these years of trauma at the hands of the Kalandar.
Dr Yaduraj says that it is quite a process and they have to deal with them with extreme care. We ensure that the bears forgets everything about his past and we also give it new names other the one which was given by his Kalandar or handler. Some bears adopt very quickly but there are others who take a while longer. Even the feeding pattern we are particular about. Most of these bears come here with no teeth since they are pulled out. We give them a lot of porridge and once they become normal, they are given fruits, he says.
The Bannerghatta bear rescue centre is one of the four centres which has been set up by Wildlife SOS in association with Free the Bears Fund from Australia, Britain’s International Animal Rescue and One Voice Association from France.
Rescuing these bears has not been an easy task. Most of the Kalandars were promised that they would not be arrested if they came up voluntarily and handed over the bear. Raje Saab, the handler or the Kalandar of Raju was given Rs 50000 to give up the bear. This money was given so that he could start a new life. He says that he is happy that he could give up the bear to a place where he would be taken care of. I can now start my life afresh with the money I have been given, he says.

Bear Necessities

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Extradition of Headley only after chargesheet filed


The extradition of arrested American national and Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative David Coleman Headley is likely to take place only after the Mumbai police files a supplementary chargesheet against him in connection with the 26/11 terror attacks case.
The National Investigating Agency has submitted proof to the Mumbai police regarding the role played by Headley in the Mumbai attacks.

A senior official in the home ministry told rediff.com that a lot of information that has been handed over to the Mumbai police is specific to the attacks at Mumbai.

“We are very much on the extradition trail and the process would speed up once the supplementary chargesheet in the Mumbai case and a chargesheet in the rest of the cases is filed against him. We would also wait and see what course the courts in the United States would take in this case and also plan our next course of action,” the official said.

Counsel for Headley, John T Theis, told rediff.com that the evidence against Headley is still being reviewed and it would not be right for him to comment anything on the current status of the case against his client.

“Laws in the US mandate that it is the duty of the government to prove the guilt of the defendant. If they cannot do that with competent evidence, the defendant must be found not guilty,” Theis said.

“I must also add that I have seen some stories in the Indian and the US media which speculate on the evidence and other aspects of this case. I would prefer to have this matter unfold in the courtroom, not in response to news articles, some of which are based on guess and conjecture,” he added.

A source in the Mumbai police said that they will verify the information that has been passed on to them. “We will file a supplementary chargesheet for sure, but the contents of it would be decided only after we verify the facts of the case,” he said.

A lot of the information provided by the NIA to the Mumbai police is based on the findings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Sources in the Intelligence Bureau say that the FBI has depended a lot on the statements given by Headley in custody and drawn conclusions from them.

“Our agencies too have some amount of information specific to the Mumbai attack, but the Mumbai police will have to conduct detailed investigations before they file an additional chargesheet,” IB sources said.

The Mumbai police, which has already commenced its investigations into the David Headley link to the Mumbai attacks, have not been able to find any local link relating to him.

The initial findings indicate that during all his visits to Mumbai, Headley had carried out a reccee all by himself without developing any local contact.

Give us our state back

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which has spearheaded the movement for a separate state in Andhra Pradesh, is furious over the Centre’s apparent backtracking over the issue.

In an interview with rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, TRS general secretary Subhash Reddy states that the party is willing to give the government some time to resolve the issue, but will rest only after they “get their state back”.

What is the next course of action regarding the Telangana issue?

They (the Centre) want a consensus and we will do our best to give them one. We have convened a meeting of the Joint Action Committee. We will discuss this issue with various people and decide on the next course of action.

What will be the main focus of your discussion?

Fixing a time frame (to resolve the issue). It is important that the government tells us clearly by what time they will return Telangana to us.

How long are you ready to wait for a separate state?

The government will get a maximum of five to six weeks to start the process. The TRS will ask the government to commence the process in the next session of Parliament. We want them to discuss this matter seriously and not take us for a ride. The process has to start by then and there should be no flip-flop after that. By the time the next session of Parliament is convened, the government should have an action plan on the issue.

Both the state and the Union government have declared that there can be no Telangana without a consensus on the issue.

See, consensus is not the issue here at all. The state has been taken away from us and it should be returned. The voice of the people needs to be heard and everyone in the Telangana region wants their state back. Why isn’t anyone taking that into consideration?

Let the government appoint some educated people or form a committee under a Supreme Court judge and find out what the people want. In a democracy, the opinion of the people should be considered, not the opinion of the political parties.

Why do you think the political parties are creating a fuss over this issue?

The Telugu Desam Party chief (N Chandrababu Naidu) belongs to Andhra, (Praja Rajyam chief) Chiranjeevi belongs to coastal Andhra. Though the Congress chief (D Srinivas) belongs to Telangana, a majority of the party’s leaders seem to be opposed to it. It is sad that all these people are more concerned about their next political battle rather than the development of Telangana and the aspirations of the local people.

How do you think Chief Minister K Rosaiah handled the situation?

Very poorly. But that was expected since he belongs to coastal Andhra.

What is your take on the demand to make Hyderabad a Union territory?

This is not acceptable at all. How can an integral part of Telangana be shared or taken away? We will never accept this at any cost. Just give us our state back and end the matter.

Incidents of violence have repeatedly marred protests and agitations on this issue.

Our chief K Chandrasekhara Rao has said that there shall be no violence. What can we do if some politicians are stage-managing or sponsoring it? On Wednesday, when the home minister (P Chidambaram) made the statement (that the situation had altered and political parties are divided on Telangana), we had decided to protest peacefully. But then so many people came out on the roads and started protesting; all this was stage-managed to show the country that we are making a demand through violent means.

Our people did come out on the roads and protest in a peaceful manner, but then some anti-social elements joined in.

Why did the government turn a blind eye when we were seeking Telangana through peaceful means? We will continue to protest in a peaceful manner, but will not settle for anything less than a separate state.

Do you think that the government has betrayed you?

To a large extent, yes. The Government of India was serious about giving us a separate state. But then there was the influence of billionaire Congress members of Parliament, who have large-scale real estate interests in Hyderabad. They are the ones who made the government change its mind and hence it backed out at the last minute.

Saba met Kayani


The link between the Pakistan army, its Inter Services Intelligence directorate and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba was strengthened after Lashkar operative Sabahuddin Ahmed confessed to the police that he had met several high-ranking Pakistan army officers including someone named Colonel Kayani.

Sabahuddin, a native of Bihar who was arrested for his role in the January 1, 2008 attack on the Central Reserve Police Force camp in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, is currently being probed for the role he played in the Mumbai attacks.

He told his interrogators that he took to terrorism after the December 6, 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid and revealed that he had helped Fahim Ansari survey likely targets for the Mumbai attacks.

Sabahuddin repeatedly told his interrogators that he had met a senior Pakistani officer named Kayani. These statements find mention in his 40-page confession statement, which is in the possession of rediff.com

Investigators are unable to verify if the man Sabahuddin is referring to is General Parvez Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief.

IB sources say they cannot rule out the possibility that he may be referring to the Pakistani army chief, who served as the ISI director before being elevated to his present position.

In his confession Sabahuddin said he met with Kayani in 2002. At that time, General Kayani was Pakistan’s director general of military operations.

‘I met him along with other ISI officers. I was told by the Lashkar that I would be working for the ISI in Pakistan, but would be touch with the Lashkar too. Kayani, along with other ISI officers, supervised my training programme in Pakistan. Kayani even gave me Rs 25,000 before I left Pakistan. He sent his man along with me to the airport and ensured that I got out safe from Pakistan,’ Sabahuddin revealed in his statement.

He starts off his confession by disclosing that he had met with Zaki-ur-Rehman Laqvi, the Lashkar’s main terror-planner, at the home of another Lashkar terrorist named Muzzamil.

Sabahuddin met with Laqvi after he had completed the Daur-e-Khas (specialised training) in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. After this, Muzzamil took Sabahuddin to meet with a man named Abul al-Qama in Islamabad.

‘I was then introduced to a man by the name Abdulla Mujahid who is a coordinator between the Lashkar and the ISI. It was here that both Muzzamil and Laqvi asked me whether I would be interested in joining the ISI. I was then taken to the Markaz Tayiba, the Lashkar headquarters at Murdike, around 50 kilometres from Lahore.’

Sabahuddin says Markaz Tayiba is where the Lashkar’s terror leadership, including Mohammad Sayeed, Abdur Rehman Maki and Abdus Salam Ghuti are based.

‘From here I returned to Lahore where I was introduced to Colonel Kayani in the year 2002. Kayani was a top brass in the ISI at that time. Apart from this I was also introduced to other ISI officials, Abdul Majid and Subedar Babar. I was trained by these men in the gathering of intelligence, surveillance and also reconnaissance,’ he notes in his confession.

‘I took a flight out of Lahore to Doha and from there I flew to Kathmandu by Qatar Airways on March 17, 2003,’ he adds.

‘The ISI officials had told me that I needed to get back to India and they even arranged a passport in the name of Mohammad Shafiq. They mentioned a fake address mentioning my place of residence as Faisalbad, Punjab, Pakistan. I was taken to the Nepalese embassy in Islamabad personally by Subedar Javed, an ISI official. He ensured that I was able to get a visa under the guise of a carpet businessman from Pakistan,’ says Sahabuddin

‘Throughout my stint in Pakistan I was told that I would be working for the ISI but at the same time, I had to be in touch with the Lashkar,’ he said.

Further, he reveals that once he reached Kathmandu he tore up the passport and flushed it down the toilet.

‘I then took up a room at the Hotel Kamal and identified myself as a businessman from Delhi. On several occasions I tried to get into India, but failed. I then mailed a person in the Pakistan army by the name Captain Malik Zafar, expressing my inability to cross the border. Zafar responded to my mail and immediately sent across a youth by the name, Vinod. I was told that this person would help me cross the border,’ Sabahuddin said.

Vinod, a resident of Nepal, Sabahuddin later realised, was an ISI agent and an associate of Lashkar’s chief accountant, a man named Yakub. ‘Vinod paid a Nepali youth Rs 65,000 to help me cross over. Finally, I managed to enter India.’

Wife to spill beans on hubby’s ops

The Bengaluru police will seek the custody of Soofiya Madani, wife of Kerala-based Islamic leader Abdul Nasser Madani, in relation with the Bangalore blasts case.

Sources say Soofiya, who stands before a court seeking bail, is fast becoming a major link in several terror operations undertaken both in Karnataka and Kerala.

The investigators stumbled upon the links while interrogating T Nasir, an accused in the Bangalore blasts case.

Investigations conducted by the Bengaluru-Kerala-Tamil Nadu police reveal Soofiya was angered by the fact that her husband Madani was being treated poorly by the Coimbatore police.

The first part of the investigations suggests that the woman had directed Nasir and his accomplices to burn down a bus in Kalamassery so that a message could be sent out to the then Tamil Nadu government.

“Our investigations show that both Nasir and Abdul Sattar, the man who manufactured the bombs, were in contact with Soofiya,” Bengaluru police sources said.

Moreover, there is ample proof, they say, to indicate that both Nasir and Sattar were part of the Madani camp.

Both these persons were closely associated with Nasir after they joined his Islamic Sewak Sangh which was established in Kerala.

Nasir’s interrogation reveals that Soofiya had played an active part in the bus-burning incident. Besides, he told interrogators that she had also directed him to plant a bomb at the Press Club of Coimbatore in retaliation to her husband’s ill-treatment in jail.