Monday, June 28, 2010

India adds to Singapore tourism boom

Monday, June 28, 2010

Singapore, June 28 (PTI) India has become the second largest tourist market for Singapore, with the arrival of a record 116,000 Indian visitors in the city state in May. The Singapore Tourism Board data released today showed that 28 per cent more Indians travelled to Singapore in May than a year ago. Comparatively, Indonesia was the top tourist generating market with 186,000 visitors (up 43 per cent), Malaysia was third with 82,000(up 49 per cent), followed by China 72,000 visitors (up 38 per cent), and Australia with 64,000 visitors (up 7 per cent). Total May tourist arrivals in Singapore increased by 30.3 per cent to 946,000, said the board. Average hotel occupancy rate was 85 per cent, an increase of 17. 1 per cent from a year ago.

UDF approves merger of Kerala Congress factions

June 29, 2010

Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala today approved in principle the merger of the two Kerala Congress factions led by K M Mani and former minister in the LDF Government P J Joseph.

"The merger is a reality now. Though the Congress wanted KC-M to have the issue discussed in the Front, they went ahead and merged with KC-J which was till recently with LDF. Joseph is now part of KC-M which is in the UDF," Front convenor P P Thankachan said after a UDF state-committee meeting here.

Congress and other UDF partners, who had been demanding that the merger be discussed in the Front, have apparently decided to play down the issue as the local body elections are round the corner. Thankachan also welcomed the support extended to the UDF by Indian National League for the local body polls, but said the Front had not made any poll arrangements with the party.

He described as "politically motivated" the LDF Government’s decision to hold a crime branch inquiry into the charge that Socialist Janata (Democratic) leader M P Veerendrakumar had encroached land in Wayanad District. "This is nothing but political vendetta.

They (LDF) are trying to tarnish the image of a leader who had been with them for the last 32 years. The allegations have suddenly come up when he left the Front and joined the UDF," Thankachan alleged.

The UDF meeting discussed the preparations for the local body polls slated for September and authorised leaders of its constituents for overseeing the campaign in various parts. The liaison committees of the Front in all districts would meet on July 1 and Assembly-level meetings would be held on July 2, he said.

Smart City Dubai not to withdraw from the project

June 28, 2010

Kochi: A board of directors meeting of the proposed Rs.1,500 crore Smart City Kochi concluded here Monday without taking any decision on the fate of the IT project.

At the same time, the developer Smart City Dubai said it has no plans to pull out from the project.

Speaking to reporters here after the meeting, Smart City Dubai chief executive Fareed Abdul Rehman said: "Some more discussions have to take place because certain issues have to be resolved. We are not asking for anything new but just want those things that have been already written in the agreement and we have not asked anything new."

He also invited the Chief Secretary of the state to visit their office in Dubai and to see what they are doing there.

Smart City Dubai is sticking to the agreement where it has been mentioned that they would get 12 per cent freehold rights (around 30 acres from the 246 acres). The Kerala government is adamant that it will not allow any real estate dealing and it is on this that the project is hanging fire.

Interestingly, State Fisheries Minister and Smart City Kochi Chairman S. Sarma did not attend the meeting.

And for the first time there were protests at the venue of the meeting. Members of the youth organisation of the ruling Left Democratic Front and the Revolutionary Socialist Party shouted slogans asking the state government to impelement the project.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jayarajan flays HC verdict banning road side meetings

Kannur: CPM leader M V Jayarajan came out in open against the Kerala High Court verdict banning public meetings in road side. Jayarajan termed that the judges who banned public meetings and protests in public roads as idiots.He said those who do not have an understanding of the greatness of judiciary are making such verdicts sitting in the glass palaces. They are imposing such verdicts which would never be approved by the people. Jayarajan opined that such sort of judges should relinquish their post rather than making anti-people judgments.

Take action against Tomin: Union home ministry

Thiruvananthapuram : The union home ministry has written to the Kerala chief secretary to initiate action against Tomin J. Thachenkery, inspector general of police, currently under suspension for going on a foreign trip without official clearance and reportedly meeting people there who have cases registered against them.

Thachenkery was suspended in April after Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan was told that the police officer did not take permission for his trip to the Middle East including his visit to Doha.

The fresh round of controversy surfaced Wednesday when a section of the media reported that the senior Kerala cop had met a few people in Qatar who have cases registered against them here.

When this issue was put to Achuthanandan, he said the chief secretary would take necessary action on the reported letter from the union home ministry.

'I do not intend to share details of this with you,' Achuthanandan said.

But, Thursday a TV channel aired the letter written by the home ministry to the chief secretary highlighting the lapses and the serious violations committed by Thachenkery.

The letter has asked the chief secretary to initiate action against Thachenkery.

The letter says that Thachenkery had asked officials of the Indian embassy in Qatar about details of four people who have links with now arrested south Indian commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) T. Nasir.

Incidentally, Thachenkery as IG Kannur range prior to his suspension had questioned Nasir at Bangalore.

The letter also says that Thachenkery while in Qatar met people who have cases registered against them in the state.

'He is just a tool of Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. You wait and see more skeletons will tumble out,' Vice chairman of Kerala Congress (M) P.C. George said.

This is the second suspension that Thachenkery has got under the Achuthanandan government. The first came in July 2007 when he was suspended in the wake of a first information report (FIR) filed in a vigilance court, accusing him of amassing assets worth Rs.95 lakh between Jan 1, 2003, and March 31, 2005, when he was managing director of the state-owned Books and Publication Society.

Thachenkery, considered close to Vijayan, was in the Middle East the same time Vijayan and other senior party members were on tour there as part of a fund collection drive.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hearing on Madani's bail petition to continue on June 29

Bangalore: The Bangalore sessions court will continue the hearing on the anticipatory bail application submitted by PDP chairman Abdul Naser Madani in Bangalore serial blast cases, on June 29. Meanwhile the prosecution today submitted the return statement against bail application in the court . The prosecution informed the court their objection on granting anticipatory bail to Madani . The prosecution argued that anticipatory bail for Madani shouldn't be granted on grounds of the charges against him. A copy of the statement by prosecution has been given to Madani's lawyer too.

The application was considered by the Bangalore fast track court which is a part of Bangalore district sessions court. The application for anticipatory bail was submitted as the Bangalore Chief Metropolitan court issued a non-bailable warrant against him . As per the court order Madani should present before the court within June 23. Madani is listed as the 31st accused in the case. In the charge sheet submitted by Karnataka police, Madani has been charged with treason, terrorism and attempt to murder in the Bangalore serial blast case. They alleged that Madani was part of the planning of the blast and he also helped terrorists for Jihad. It is alleged that Madani has instigated others to take extremist path .He is charged under IPC 219, 102, and 302. Madani was charge sheeted along with 31 others for being involved in the 2008 serial blasts in Bangalore that left a woman dead and 20 others injured. Police had earlier charge sheeted 26 people.

Among the 32 charge sheeted, 12 are absconding. Of the six named as accused, five belonged to Kerala and one from Karnataka, he said. Nine low-intensity crude bombs exploded in east and south Bangalore on July 25, 2008 within 45 minutes. One woman, waiting at a bus stop, was killed on the spot in east Bangalore.

Court rejects Soofiya's plea seeking relaxation of bail terms

Kochi: The special court on Tuesday rejected the petition filed by Soofiya Madani seeking to allot relaxations in her bail conditions in Kalamassery bus burning case. The court declined her demand to move out of Ernakulum district. Court observed that the petitioner has not cited sufficient reason for relaxation and earlier when she sought relaxations , she filed needed reasons for the same. The order was issued by special court considering the cases related to National Investigation Agency (NIA) .

Earlier the NIA has asked the special court for not to relax the bail condition of Soofiya Madani The investigation is in the last phase and relaxation of bail condition will pave ways for destroying evidence and to influence witnesses. Agency said that it will furnish the charge sheet within one month. Soofiya's lawyer stated that she sought for relaxation as her husband and relatives are in another district.

Police framed conspiracy charges against Soofiya after finding that the accused in the case masterminded

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I am a victim of conspiracy: Madani

Kollam : PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani today claimed he was a victim of 'deep-rooted conspiracy' by his adversaries, including intelligences agencies, to implicate him in the 2008 Bangalore blasts case. 'What was unfolding now was a well-plotted drama to re-enact what had happened in the 1998 Coimbatore blast case,' Madani, who moved an anticipatory bail plea in a Bangalore court yesterday, told reporters. In the Coimbatore blast case, the PDP leader had to spent nearly 10 years in jail before he was acquitted.

'In the Coimbatore blast case, I was arrested in Kerala and detained in Kannur jail first. I was told by central intelligence
officers that I would be a witness in the case. Later on, I became the 86th accused but subsequently made the 14th accused,' Madani said. He claimed on the same pattern a move was now on to implicate him on the basis of 'false charges and statements' purportedly made against him by other accused and witnesses in the case. There was a reference in the chargesheet that it was he (Madani) who instigated T Nazir, the prime accused in the case, to take to extremist path by asking him to read books of Jihadist proponents like Maududi, Madani said, adding this was totally baseless as he had never been an ideological follower of Maududi. The PDP leader appealed to his followers to maintain peace. Meanwhile, a PDP delegation led by party working chairman Poonthura Siraj met Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to apprise him of the poor health condition of Madani.

A Bangalore court on Tuesday had issued a non-bailable warrant against Madani, chargesheeted by Karnataka police in the July 25, 2008 blasts, which left one dead .

Students engaged in violence are anti-socials: CM

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief minister V S Achuthanandan said that students who engage in violence in the name of strikes would be seen as anti-socials. Violence is not part of strikes and protest and it will never replace strikes. He said that the government is noticing violent strikes held by students degenerating into violent attacks, destroying public properties and institutions. He said that such persons who resort to such activities must be called criminals and not protestors.

Huge cache of goods seized from Kannur jail raid

Kannur: In a over five-hour raid conducted by 160 police officers at the Kannur central prison, from where two convicts escaped the other day, police seized around four lorry full of things. Mobile phone chargers, knives, equipment which can be used as weapons, were among the articles seized.

The raid which began at 2 pm on Wednesday lasted till 7 pm. The officers searched every nook and corner of the 60 acre premises. Six mobile phones, 27 chargers, 9 batteries, two SIM cards, iron rods, axe blade, ganja, coconut scrapers, grinding stones, vegetable knives, equipment used for concrete work, wood articles, etc.

Police also seized Rs 3,519 from the culprits. Though private cooking is not allowed in jail, the seized articles also included kerosene, stove, vessels, knives and small scrapers. The majoirty of such things were seized from the 3rd. 5th. 6th and 7th blocks where more than 400 culprits were jailed.

The ADGP, during a press conference, said that the things were being used for the last 15 years and once the culprits were set free they were handed over to their counterparts. There were secret shelters to make calls and on knowing about the raid, majority of the articles were thrown out. So the police were not able to book those who possessed it. The raid was conducted as per the special direction of home minister.

Monday, June 7, 2010

B'lore police questions Madani and Soofiya

Bangalore: It is reported that Bangalore police had questioned PDP Chairman Abdul Nazar Madhani and his wife Soofiya Madhani on Sunday in connection with the Bangalore bomb blast case. The police team was led by DySP of Bangalore city police Honkayya. It is learnt that both of them have denied their role in the case. The questioning took place at Madhani's house in Kochi.

The Bangalore police had strong evidence that the prime accused in Bangalore blasts case Thadiyantevida Naseer had contacted Soofiya over mobile after the blast. Naseer had given a statement that he was a member of ISS started by Madhani. Another accused Sarfras Navas also has close ties with Madhani. The Bangalore police had earlier given notice to Madhani and Soofiya to be present for interrogation. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Central Intelligence Agency has given direction to the Bangalore police to add Madhani in the accused list for his alleged relation with Naseer.

No role in Bangalore blast :Madhani

Thiruvananthapuram: PDP chairman Abdul Naser Madhani in an interview given to a private news channel denied any role in the Bangalore blasts and said that someone is trying to malign him. The other day three police officials from Karnataka police questioned him and they were accompanied by police officers from Kochi too.

They talked for only 15-20 minutes and he denied media reports that he was questioned the whole day. They never asked much, he said. They asked about some of the district leaders of PDP. His wife was asked about some phone numbers and showing an album they asked her whether she could identify anyone. She identified two.

Many people call me and I do not know exactly who they were. He said that the team never asked about the accused in blast case and he does not know whether they would be included in the accused list. They did not go to Karnataka due to his bad health and since there was a court ban for Soofiya to travel outside the state, the team had come here to question them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mamata Banerjee jubilant; calls for early polls

Kolkata, Jun 2: Mamata Banerjee who is jubilant over her success in the Bengal semifinals said that this is a 'landmark victory'. She added that she is happy as it is people's victory as she won Kolkata and leads Bengal.

Buzz up!Mamata has called for immediate assembly polls in Bengal. She told CNN IBN that she is ready for the alliance with Congress for the polls if they want. She added that she never thought of breaking up the rapports with Congress. She revealed that Congress should appreciate their success, too.

Mamata who arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday, Jun 2, said that it is the moral responsibility of the state government to step down. State government should have resigned after the Lok Sabha Polls, she added.

TMC won Kolkata corporation with 95 out of 141 wards. Trinamool won Salt Lake municipality too.

TMC leads 95 out of 141 municipal bodies in Kolkata civic poll, where as Left could win 33, Congress 10 and others, 3. In overall Bengal results, Left won 17 seats, TMC 30 and Congress 8. CPM and TMC fought neck and neck in the Bengal battle, when Trinamool won Kolkata. The scores in Salt Lake is 9 for Left , 16 for TMC and zero for congress and others.

Trinamool Congress storms to power in Kolkotta Muncipal elections

June 2, 2010

Kolkata: Riding the winds of political change, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress today won the 141-ward city municipal corporation polls, inflicting a crushing blow to the ruling Left Front in the civic elections, dubbed as a semi-final before next year’s Assembly polls.

In Sunday’s election to a total of 81 civic bodies across 16 districts in West Bengal, TC also tasted success in the districts where it alone bagged 20 of 43 municipalities, the results for which were available till noon.

The party bagged another eight civic bodies where it had local-level seat adjustment with the Congress. The Left Front registered wins in 12 municipalities while Congress lagged behind winning only in three.

The Trinamool Congress, which had already won two-thirds majority in the 141-member KMC, will not need the support of the Congress to rule Kolkata where her party has already captured 94 of the 135 wards the results of which were available. Help your mid-market business grow with reliable and secure technology.

The Left Front which was in power in KMC with 75 wards has managed to win in only 29 wards.

The Congress has so far got nine and the BJP three seats. In the 2005 KMC polls, Left parties had won 75 seats, TC 42, Congress 21 and BJP three.

Congratulating Banerjee on her party’s performance, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the West Bengal Congress chief, said he accepted the people’s verdict.

Mukherjee, speaking to reporters in New Delhi, said till the final results were out, it would be difficult for him to assess the "net loss or net gain" of the Congress, but said his party had lost some and gained some municipalities out of the 14 it held earlier.

"First of all, I would like to congratulate Mamata Banerjee for her excellent performance both in Kolkata and also in the districts. I accept the failure of the Congress to perform up to the expectations which we had. I accept the verdict of the people with all humility," Mukherjee said.

Elated over Trinamool’s success, Banerjee demanded immediate Assembly elections, saying Left Front major CPI(M) has lost all rights to continue in power. Terming her party’s success as "historic", she told reporters after arriving from Delhi, "It is a victory of the ma-mati-manush (mother, land and the people). They have given a verdict in favour of political change in the state. I salute the people."

In an obvious reference to her party’s failed alliance with Congress for the KMC polls, Banerjee said, "In this election, we had to fight against the ruling party and three to four other forces."

The Trinamool Congress has not only dislodged the CPI(M) from power in the KMC, in the adjoining Salt Lake (Bidhannagar) municipality the erosion of the Left’s support base was more pronounced with Banerjee’s party bagging 16 of the total 25 wards.

Left Front got a poor nine. In the 2005 election when the municipality had 23 wards, the Left Front had won in 18 and Trinamool in five.

The CPI(M) was almost decimated in the red belts of the North 24-Paraganas district, where there are 21 municipalities, and in Hooghly district where there are 12.

In North 24-Paraganas district, results of 16 municipalities have been declared of which Trinamool captured 12.

Left Front secured only three and Congress one. In Hooghly district, Trinamool routed the Left Front in 11 of the 12 municipalities including the Chandannagore Municipal Corporation.

For the ruling left front, which was in power in 55 out of the 81 municipalities, it was an opportunity to recover lost ground after the string of electoral defeats it suffered since the 2008 panchayat polls and last year’s Lok Sabha election.

The polls were very much a prestige fight between Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and state Congress president Pranab Mukherjee who failed to clinch a seat-sharing deal. The 141-ward KMC election had generated much bitterness between the two allies with barbs flying thick and fast between the two leaders.

The major losers in Kolkata included the deputy mayor of the KMC Left Front’s Kalyan Mukherjee, mayor-in-council members Abu Sufian and Faiz Ahmed Khan.

Trinamool Congress leader and leader of Opposition Javed Khan and Congress leader Pradip Ghosh lost in the KMC elections. Ghosh was among some partymen who had launched a hunger strike for seat adjustment with Trinamool on ’honourable terms’.

Trinamool’s new face Rukbanur Rahman, brother of the computer graphic teacher Rizwanur Rahman, who had died under mysterious circumstances, lost in the KMC election.

Trinamool humbles Left in Bengal, snatches Kolkata

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress Wednesday wrested control of the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) in an electoral sweep of the civic polls that saw it humble West Bengal's ruling Left Front across the state.
The state's urban voters gave the thumbs down to the Left, which suffered a humiliating defeat although the major opposition parties, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, failed to come to an electoral understanding.

The results have come as a big boost to the Trinamool, which defied exit poll predictions of a close contest and improved its bargaining power vis-a-vis the Congress which performed dismally.

Trinamool candidates won 95, the Left Front bagged 33, Congress got 10 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched three of the total 141 wards in the KMC.

The Left has controlled the KMC since 2005. However, the Trinamool had run the board between 2000 and 2005, after 20 years of Left rule in the civic body since 1985 when the new municipal act came in place.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool also gained control of the Bidhan Nagar municipality, which includes the city's posh satellite township of Salt Lake, for the first time. Its candidates won 16 of the 25 seats in Bidhan Nagar, with the Left Front getting only nine.

In the districts, the Trinamool bagged 26 municipalities while the Left Front got success in 17. The Congress was poised to win in seven bodies.

Among the municipalities the Trinamool won were Memari in Burdwan district and Bolpur in Birbhum district as well as Khardah, Baranagar and Naihati in North 24 Parganas district.

The Left Front retained Bally in Hooghly district and Toofanganj and Dinhata in Cooch Behar district in northern West Bengal.

The Congress retained the Katwa Municipality in Burdwan.

An upbeat Banerjee, who flew into the city from Delhi, said the Left had lost the right to rule the state.

'We congratulate the people of Bengal. The state government has lost all right to be in power and assembly elections should be held immediately in West Bengal,' Banerjee told journalists at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here.

As the results poured in, Trinamool candidates celebrated wildly all over Kolkata. The outcome is considered a huge blow to the Left, which had been in control of 54 of the 81 civic bodies, including KMC, which saw polling.

Sunday's civic polls were considered a semi-final ahead of next year's make-or-break assembly elections at a time the Left Front, which has ruled West Bengal since 1977, is facing its most serious challenge to power.

More than 70 percent of the voters exercised their franchise Sunday, two days after the Gyaneshwari Express rail disaster blamed on Maoists claimed 148 lives in West Midnapore.

Sunday's elections were the first popularity test after the Lok Sabha polls of 2009 that saw the Trinamool-Congress combine decimate the ruling Left Front.