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Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Indian' contract killer targets 'Dawood's man' in Nepal jail

KATHMANDU. One year after Nepal's controversial cable TV tycoon Jamim Shah was killed in a public road in the capital's diplomatic area, a second controversial public figure survived a gun attack inside Nepal's most tightly guarded prison by a 42-year-old Indian hit man with at least five operations on his record.
Yunus Ansari, son of former forest minister Salim Ansari, was shot from close range by Jagjit Singh, a resident of Kanpur Road in Lucknow, who police said had also killed Ram Prasad Yadav and Brijesh Singh in India in the past and targeted three more, who however survived.
A manhunt has been launched for Singh's accomplices, Ramu Duvedi, 35, and Suresh Duvedi, 30, with a NRS 50,000 reward offered for their capture or further information. Additional Inspector General of Police Arjun Jung Shahi said the border exit points have been alerted. Police are also investigating if Charles Sobhraj, now doing time in the same Central Jail, for the murder of an Amertican backpacker in 1975.
Shahi said Singh had been visiting Sobhraj regularly for a month to keep a tab on Ansari, especially during the time he used to receive visitors. On Thursday, Singh went inside the prison wearing a jacket that had a secret pocket. A revolver, made in England, was hidden there and the constables on guard duty failed to detect it while searching him before waving him in.
A long narrow room partitioned into two by a wire mesh serves as the visitors' room where rows of prisoners stand on one side talking to visitors on the other, under the watchful eyes of guards. Ansari was in conversation with his brother and sister-in-law when Singh shot him. Though the bullet was intended for the hear from close range, a watchful guard jostled Singh's hand and the bullet instead hit Ansari in the shoulder. He was taken to the Norvic Interational Hospital while guards overpowered Singh.
This is a new twist to the saga that started in January 2010 when Ansari was arrested from his own residence in Kathmandu valley after a surveillance team caught his bodyguard Kashiram Adhikari receiving fake Indian notes worth Rs 2.5 million and almost 4 kg of heroin in a hotel from a Pakistani courier, Mohammad Sajjid.
Both Ansari and Jamim Shah are alleged to have been kingpins of a fake Indian currency racket running from Pakistan through Nepal, Bangladesh and the Middle East with the reins controlled by one of the most wanted men in the world, Dawood Ibrahim. A month after Ansari's arrest and imprisonment, Shah was shot dead in his own car while going home from the gym. The motorcyclist who edged close to the car brought to a halt during rush hour traffic and the pillion rider who got down and pumped the bullets into the unsuspecting Shah, were never found or identified though a subsequent police investigation unearthed the involvement of policemen in the meticulously planned killing.
Admitting lapses, police authorities said a three-member high-level team had been formed under Additional Inspector General of Police Rabindra Pratap Shah to probe the incident. Meanwhile, Ansari's enraged parents stormed the hospital, accusing the "Indian Embassy" in Kathmandu of being behind the attempt. Salim Miyan Ansari, who is also whispered to have had mafia links, said he and his family had been receiving threats but when they asked police to ensure better security for Yunus, he was prevented from visiting the prison.
There is speculation that Shah's killing was planned by India's Research and Analysis Wing. Indian don Babloo Srivastava, now behind bars in a UP jail, is believed to have been the involved in the planning. But though Nepal sent a police team to Bareilly Jail to speak with Babloo, they were not given permission by the Indian authorities.

22 killed in China quake

BEIJING: At least 22 people were killed and hundreds injured today when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck southwest China's Yunnan province near the border with Myanmar.
The earthquake toppled 583 houses at Yingjiang county in the province around noon and left 201 people injured, 33 seriously, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, adding that at least 22 people were killed.
The tremor triggered a power outage but telecommunication service remained normal in Yingjiang, said Wei Gang, head of the county government.
According to the witnesses, people were buried under debris and part of a supermarket and a hotel caved in. Li Shaobo, chief of Yingjiang Education Bureau, said two students died in the earthquake while another one suffered serious injuries.
The earthquake, the largest of more than 1,200 minor tremors over the last two months in the region, is believed to have caused serious damage and loss, Liu Jie, a director with the earthquake forecast department, said, adding that the epicentre of the quake was stated to at the depth of 10 km.
Three aftershocks, measuring up to 4.7 degrees on the Richter Scale jolted the county within 10 minutes of the first tremor.
Eight earthquakes registering higher than 5 magnitude on the Richter Scale hit the county between 1991 and 2008 which was located about 700 km west of provincial capital Yunnan, Chen Jianmin, director of China Earthquake Administration said.
Nearly 1,000 soldiers have been sent to join the rescue operation.
Provincial governor Qin Guangrong called upon relevant authorities to save injured people, evacuate disaster-hit residents and calculate casualties and economic losses. The provincial disaster-relief and civil affairs authorities have launched an emergency response plan.
The National Committee of Disaster Reduction and Ministry of Civil Affairs have dispatched 5,000 tents, 10,000 quilts, 10,000 clothes and other materials to the quake-hit region.
China has been experiencing heavy quakes during the past few years. Hundreds of people were killed in earthquakes in Sichuan province in 2009 and Qinghai last year.

BBC team blinfolded and beaten by Gaddafi forces

A BBC news team was detained and beaten up by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces after being accused of spying, the British broadcaster reported Thursday.
The three men, who were trying to reach the violence-torn western city of Az Zawiya, were beaten with fists, knees and rifles, and subjected to mock executions by members of Libya's army and secret police.
The men were detained Monday and held for 21 hours, but have now left Libya, the report said.
Libya has been witnessing massive anti-government protests since Feb 14. The protesters are demanding the ouster of Gaddafi who has ruled the north African country for almost 42 years.
The three of them were taken to a huge military barracks in Tripoli, where they were blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten.
One of the three, Chris Cobb-Smith, said: "We were lined up against the wall. I was the last in line -- facing the wall.
"I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun. He put it to everyone's neck. I saw him and he screamed at me.
"Then he walked up to me, put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger twice. The bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed."
A second member of the team -- Feras Killani, a correspondent of Palestinian descent -- is said to have been singled out for repeated beatings.
The captors told him they did not like his reporting of the Libyan popular uprising and accused him of being a spy, the BBC said.
The third member of the team, cameraman Goktay Koraltan, said they were all convinced they were going to die.
During their detention, the BBC team saw evidence of torture against Libyan detainees, many of whom were from Zawiya.
"I cannot describe how bad it was. Most of them (other detainees) were hooded and handcuffed really tightly, all with swollen hands and broken ribs. They were screaming," Koraltan said.
A senior Libyan government official later apologised for the treatment to the BBC team.
The BBC said it "strongly condemns this abusive treatment".
"The safety of our staff is our primary concern especially when they are working in such difficult circumstances and it is essential that journalists working for the BBC, or any media organisation, are allowed to report on the situation in Libya without fear of attack," said a statement from Liliane Landor, languages controller of BBC Global News.

Tamil Tiger rebels training in India: Sri Lanka PM

Remnants of Sri Lanka's defeated Tamil rebels are undergoing military training in India in a bid to revive their separatist campaign at home, the island's prime minister said Thursday.
D.M. Jayaratne said an unknown number of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighters were based at secret camps in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
"We have intelligence reports of three clandestine training centres operated by the LTTE in Tamil Nadu," the prime minister said in a statement on Thursday.
He said the rebels, who were defeated by Sri Lankan government troops in May 2009, were hoping to relaunch their decades-long fight for an independent homeland in the island.
"Their next target is to create small-scale attacks," Jayaratne said. "The entire nation must be ready to face this threat."
No rebel attacks have been launched since the Tigers were wiped out, but the premier told parliament on Wednesday that the country needed to maintain tough emergency laws to deal with their possible resurgence. Sri Lanka has resisted international calls to end emergency laws, which are routinely approved by parliament. The United Nations estimates that up to 100,000 people died in the ethnic conflict which lasted from 1972 until 2009.  The opposition accuses the government of using emergency laws to stifle political dissent and the media, charges denied by the authorities.

CWG scam: CBI conducts searches, registers 3 fresh cases

Taking the probe into corruption during the Commonwealth Games further, the CBI on Thursday carried out nationwide searches at 18 locations on the premises of functionaries of various agencies involved in renovation of Talkatora and Shivaji stadiums and registered three fresh cases.
CBI registered two cases against agencies involved in the restoration and renovation work of these stadiums and a separate case regarding the appointment of consultants during the games, official sources said.
The agency sleuths carried out searches in the National Capital Region, Kolkata and other cities early this morning, they said, adding, the searches are still on.
The restoration work on Shivaji Stadium could not be completed during the Commonwealth Games despite huge costs incurred and question marks were raised about the escalation of the cost in renovation of Talkatora stadium, sources said.
Regarding the appointment of consultants, the CBI is trying to ascertain whether the professional profiles of the consultants, mentioned in the CWG Organising Committee records were true.
Sources in the agency said it was important to know if the consultants, mentioned in the record books were actually hired and brought here for the conduct of the games or they were just mentioned in accounts and money siphoned off in their names.

Bal Thackeray grandson booked after bar raid

Nihar Thackeray, a grandson of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, has been booked under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act ( PITA). He is believed to be the owner of a ladies' bar in Santa Cruz (West) from where nine women were rescued after a raid by the police in the early hours on Wednesday. The women are believed to have been pressed into prostitution, and are being treated as victims.
Nihar is the son of the Sena supremo's eldest son Binda, a film producer who died in a road accident in 1996. A police officer said Nihar--who the cops are searching for--had interests in several bars in the city. He maintains his own household in Bandra (East).
The officer said that most ladies' bars in the city are a cover for dancing (which is banned) and "other immoral activities". They are owned by powerful politicians, who come from all parties, which is why they are seldom raided.
Wednesday's raid was conducted at 12.30 am at Sangeet Bar. The police had quite a task at hand. "We were confident about finding the women, since we had specific input," said DCP (zone IX) KMM Prasanna, who led the team. "We had to demolish a wall made of concrete to reach the room where the women were kept."
The police have booked the management. They arrested Ramesh Shetty, Harish Shetty and Arjun, and are looking for Anu Shetty, who manages several such bars.

'Without Dalai Lama, Tibetans won't recognise government'

DHARAMSHALA: As the Dalai Lama announced his intention to retire from active politics, the Tibetan government-in-exile today said the spiritual leader's decision could undermine its legitimacy and indicated that the transition process cannot take place immediately.
Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile Samdhong Rinpoche said the Dalai Lama wants to completely retire from politics as he feels that "political leadership should not be confined to one person and individual".
Addressing a press conference minutes after the Dalai Lama delivered his annual address on the occasion of 52nd Tibetan U(prising Day, Rinpoche said, "Legitimacy would be the biggest issue before us if His Holiness's desires are fulfilled. He is the face and the Tibetan government and after that we may have any legitimacy in the eyes of the people."
According to him, the political transition which the Dalai Lama wants is unlikely to happen immediately.
"Despite His Holiness's request, the Tibetans and the government-in-exile do not feel competent to lead ourselves independently without him. It is a very long and difficult process. We have to think in an innovative manner to solve the issue... We don't have ready made solutions to this issue," he told the press conference, which had a considerable presence from the international media.
He said the spiritual leader is the political and executive head of the Tibetan government-in-exile and every decision taken by it has to be approved by him. If the Dalai Lama's steps down, the political head of the government would be the Kashag, the prime minister or the head of the cabinet.
To a specific question, Rinpoche said the Tibetan parliament-in-exile would have to find an innovative way to "accommodate" the aspirations of the Tibetan people and the desire of the Dalai Lama.
"It appears that the resolution of the His Holiness will not be passed. In that case there will be a deadlock. We are urging the Legislative to find a wise way so that people's aspirations are also met... But the issue cannot be solved in a day or two," he said.
He also said the government-in-exile has to find a way to keep the dialogue process with China on and admitted that the Dalai Lama's decision would affect the talk process to resolve the vexed Tibet issue. ( Read: China says Dalai's retirement a political trick )
Rinpoche said the Dalai Lama will continue to be the spiritual leader as it does not come by appointment or by election. "It is all self-evident and it would not change."
To a specific query, he said a few "aggressive" youths who protest against the Chinese government does not represent the youth of Tibet. "Tibetan youth believe in non-violence. A few youths may be aggressive but they are not violent," he said.