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All-Party meet fails to break 2G logjam

TIA correspondent
NEW DELHI: The All Party meeting convened by senior congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on Monday evening failed to break the logjam over 2G spectrums as opposition stuck to their demand for JPC probe into the whole issue.

According to reports, the government had proposed to expand the scope of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by attaching a multi disciplinary agency to look go into the 2G spectrum issue.

However, the opposition stuck to its demand for a JPC probe. The Leader of the Lok Sabha,  Pranab Mukherjee told the meeting that he will convey the views of the Opposition to the Prime Minister and get back to them. An All Party meeting held last week had also failed to arrive at an amicable solution to the stalemate.

Earlier, the issue rocked both houses of Parliament for the seventh working day in a row on Monday leading to their adjournment for the day. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were first adjourned till noon and then for the day after laying of papers following pandemonium. While the Opposition persisted with its demand for a probe by the JPC, the ruling party members were seen carrying placards demanding the dismissal of the Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa over the land scam issue.

Except for the opening day, the two houses of Parliament have not been able to transact much business in the Winter Session of Parliament which is now in its third week.

Meanwhile the Congress spokesperson Mrs Jayanthi Natrajan alleged, while the BJP is silent on the issue of Yeddyurappa, it continues to paralyse the functioning of Parliament, thereby causing tremendous loss to the exchequer and also losing the confidence of people.

Prez inaugurates Islamic Centre

TIA correspondent
ABU DHABI (UAE): The President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Tuesday inaugurated the Indian Islamic Centre here. Speaking on the occasion, the President said, the Centre would prove to be a valuable cultural bridge between UAE and India. She said that while inculcating pride among the community members about their Indian heritage, the Centre would also serve to highlight among the local  communities the close and friendly ties between the two countries.
Established in 1971, the Centre did not own an office building. The foundation stone of the building was laid by then Indian prime minister late Indira Gandhi in 1982 during an official visit to the UAE.
Built at a cost of 12 million dirhams ($3 million), the new building is a milestone for the centre, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2011, said IIC president P. Bava Haji. The centre would works for communal harmony by involving all Indian religious communities in its activities.
Earlier in the day, the President Patil also visited Abu Dhabi Indian school. A host of cultural programmes were organised on the occasion. The President also interacted with the students.

SC admits Petition on ‘excess voters’ in Assam


TIA Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Fresh trouble is brewing for Muslims living in the border areas of Assam as their citizenship is all set to be verified once again.

The Supreme Court has admitted the Civil Writ Petition filed by Assam Public Works (APWs) that called for deletion of ‘excess voters’ from the electoral rolls ahead of the Assembly elections.

The writ petition has urged the Supreme Court to direct the Governments of India, Assam and Election Commission to identify and delete names of all illegal migrants from the latest rolls and to undertake and complete the exercise with outmost urgency, so as to ensure that the next Assembly polls are held on the basis of ‘corrected’ electoral rolls.
A three-member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Justice S H Kapadia and comprising  Justice Aftab Alam and Justice K S P Radhakrishnan over ruled the plea for more time submitted by the Central Government’s counsel.

APWs alleged that of 40 lakh excess voters are listed in the State voter list. It has sought intensive revision of rolls and deletion of names of suspected illegal migrants from the rolls. The Governments of India, Assam and the Election Commission of India are respondents in the petition that was filed in 2009.
The Government of India has requested for dismissal of the petition, contending that it was not strong enough and valid, while Assam Government too opposed the petition and countered the APW’s claim of unusually high increase of voters in the State.
APWs claimed that between 1972-1991, the percentage of increase of voters in Assam was more than 88 per cent, with an annual growth rate of 4.67 per cent.
According to Abhijit Sarma of APW,  the Supreme Court has termed it as an important issue. The petitioner was represented by Praveen Swarup and Tejinder Singh Doabia.
APW has also sought an one-time operation by adopting the modality, as designed by the petitioner, so as to regularise all pre-March 5, 1971 Bangladeshi along with lineage, as Indian citizens and to identify the post-March 24, 1971 illegal migrants, as foreigners and delete their names from the electoral rolls, as ‘D’ Category voters, in substitution of the modality being proposed by the Government purportedly to update the National Register of Citizens 1951.
In its counter-affidavit, the State Government has stated that identification of people, who came before March 1971 is still in progress.

Assam is the second largest Muslim populated state of India (in terms of percentage) only after Jammu and Kashmir. Muslims constitute about thirty percent of the state population. They are historically concentrated in the south and west Assam in large numbers

Congress not to support RJD

PATNA: Ruling out any post poll alliance with any party in Bihar, the Congress party on Monday said that the party would either form the government on its own or sit in the opposition. Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said: “ Congress will adhere to its stand that  either it will form the government on its own or sit in the opposition”. On extending support to the RJD-LJP alliance in the eventuality of the opposition combine needing a few seats, Shakeel Ahmad said  that there was no question of supporting Lalu Yadav led RJD. Meanwhile, re-polling is being held at two booths one each in Dinara and Sonepur assembly constituencies. Counting of votes will be held on Wednesday.

Ajmer probe gives clue to Samjhouta blasts

NEW DELHI: (AMN) Sangh Parivar is likely to face more trouble in coming days as the Rajasthan Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) probing the Ajmer Dargah blasts has found link and similar modus operandi in Samjhouta express blasts.

Twin blasts shook two coaches of the Samjhauta Express running between India and Pakistan on February 18  2007, shortly after the train had passed through the railway station in the village of Diwana, near Panipat,  80 kilometres north of New Delhi. 68 people were killed in the ensuing fire and dozens more were injured. Most of those killed were Pakistani civilians. Victims included some Indian civilians and Indian military personnel guarding the train.

According to Indian Express the chargesheet in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blasts clearly establishes a link between the group responsible for the Ajmer conspiracy and the Samjhauta Express blast on February 19, 2007, which left 68 dead.

It mentions that the materials and equipment used in both cases were similar and sourced from areas around Indore in Madhya Pradesh.  The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the Samjhauta Express blast has already questioned those in ATS custody several times in the past few months.

The ATS chargesheet reads, “It is worth mentioning that the evidence gathered in the aftermath of the Samjhauta Express blast on February 19, 2007, is similar to the materials and equipment used in the Ajmer Dargah blast as well as the modus operandi. One can infer from this that the Samjhauta Express blast could be the handiwork of the same terrorist outfit responsible for the Ajmer Dargah blast.”

Interestingly the Ajmer blast chargesheet also mentions that those arrested in connection with the case were from Indore and surrounding areas, to where the materials used in the Samjhauta blast have been traced.

A senior ATS official  told the paper that the similarities were too strong to ignore. “From our investigations into the Ajmer blast and the probe into the Samjhauta incident, we found that the bombs used in the two incidents were similar in all manner and make except for the timer device used. This we believe was done on purpose to serve as a red herring,” he said.

NIA officials have also confirmed that they had visited Rajasthan several times since the first arrest (Devendra Gupta) in the Ajmer case on April 29, 2010. A senior official, though tight-lipped about the probe, said: “There seem to be some similarities in the two cases and we have questioned those accused in the Ajmer blast case in this regard.” According to the ATS, of the six accused in the Ajmer case, five hail from Indore and surrounding areas, except Gupta, who is from Ajmer. While Lokesh Sharma, the alleged main supplier of materials; Sandeep Dange, the suspected bomb maker; and Ramji Kalsangra, another “bomb maker”, are all from Indore; Sunil Joshi, believed to be the brains behind the plot and Chandrashekhar Leve, a courier, hail from Dewas and Shajapur in MP, which are 45 km and 120 km from Indore respectively.

Qaumi Ekta Week to highlight national integrity

TIA correspondent

NEW DELHI : Qaumi Ekta Week (National Integration Week) will be observed all over the country from Friday (November 19). Several programmes, with a specific theme would be organised during the week.

Though the Qaumi Ekta Week is observed from November 19-25 every year silently, this year Home Minister P. Chidambaram wants this week to be gala and meaningful.. Chidambaram has written to different Ministries for organising programmes/events befitting the occasion. “The week should foster and re-inforce the spirit of communal harmony, national integration and pride in our vibrant composite culture and nationhood”, he said.

The National Foundation for Communal Harmony (HFCH),  an  autonomous  organisation  with  Ministry  of  Home  Affairs  also  organises Communal Harmony Campaign during the week.

Symposia, seminars, special literary, cultural functions and programmes to would be highlight of the week. The week would begin with National Integration Pledge.  National Integration, Welfare of Minorities, Linguistic Harmony, Weaker Sections and Cultural Unity would be the hallmark of the week.

The occasion provides an opportunity to reaffirm age old traditions and faith in the values of tolerance, co-existence and brotherhood in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.

The “Qaumi Ekta Week” will also help to highlight the inherent strength and resilience to withstand actual and potential threats to the eclectic and secular fabric of country, and nurture a spirit of communal harmony in its widest sense.

BJP goes tough on Yeddyurappa, asks him to quit

NEW DELHI / BANGALURU: the BJP seems to be going tough on Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who struck a defiant note and cancelled his visit to Delhi last night, has been summoned this morning once again. BJP leadership has authorised Gadkari to decide on the fate of Yeddyurappa after opposition parties stepped up pressure for his resignation.

The Chief Minister, who is facing allegations of corruption and nepotism, dropped his plans to fly to Delhi in the evening for a meeting with BJP president Nitin Gadkari.  A BJP leader said there was a feeling in the meeting that it was becoming increasingly untenable for Yeddyurappa to continue in office at a time when the party is carrying on a campaign at the national level on the telecom scam. They added what seemed to have tilted the leaders’ thinking were fresh media reports that talked of cheque transactions to the tune of 20 crore rupees being allegedly transferred to CM’s sons and son-in-law from a Bellary mining company.

Meanwhile JD-S on Sunday released some more documents allegedly indicating involvement of Yeddyurappa in some other financial irregularities.
In another development, Minister for Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Jagadish Shettar, who has emerged as a candidate for chief ministerial post in the event of BJP deciding to ease out Yeddyurappa, said he was not in the race for the top job.

Jamiat approach SC against Babri verdict

TIA correspondent
NEW DELHI: Prominent Muslim body, the Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind on Monday filed an appeal in supreme court against the Allahabad high court verdict on Babri Masjid-Ram Janam Bhoomi case. The petition was formally filed by joint secretary of the Jamiat  Hafiz Muhammad Siddiq in the apex court. Siddiq has been associated with case since 1955. Jamiat has also prepared a team of lawyer under the leadership of  senior advocate Anis Suherwardi,  which will raise its objections against the high court in the supreme court.

Later addressing a press conference the president of the Jamiat, Maulana Arshad Madni said that his organization had already  announced after the high court verdict that the judgment that it was against the expectations of the Muslims  and since the Jamiat has decided to approach SC  against the HC verdict. He however said that appeal did not mean the closure of the door for negotiation. “Door for negotiation is open but when other party is adamant on their  view, how we could reach any settlement”   he asked adding that if other party reached an amicable solution and it is accepted by the Muslims, the Jamiat would withdraw its case from apex court.

Senior advocate Anis Suherwerdi said that Allahabad High Court judgment had come on the basis of ‘Astha ‘ which is against the role of law. He said that there were 126 ground on which the verdict would be challenged.  

Mina reverberates with ‘Labbaik’

By Siraj Wahab, Syed Faisal Ali & Amjad Parkar

MINA: The valley of Mina, which otherwise remains deserted throughout the year, came alive Sunday as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims poured into the city chanting “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik” (O God, here I am answering Your call). Official estimates have put the number of pilgrims at 2.5 million.

Mina is the first stop for pilgrims on the way to the Plains of Arafat for the Haj climax on Monday.

Once in the city and in their fireproof tents, the pilgrims busied themselves reciting the Holy Qur’an and performing prayers or with efforts to locate relatives. Many tried to catch some sleep after a tiring journey from Jeddah and Makkah. Till late afternoon, pilgrims were still making their way into the holy city.

“Stage one has gone very well for us," said Muhammad Taj and his wife Fatima from Khartoum, Sudan. “We started after Fajr from Makkah and were here in our camp by 8 a.m.," said Taj. He said some of the streets were clogged "but our driver knew the best way out."

According to Taj, finding their location in Mina was not difficult. "Since we speak Arabic and since we had come here three days before to familiarize ourselves, it was quite easy. We knew where we were located beforehand."

“I’ve heard some scary stories associated with Haj, but I have not encountered them yet. It’s early days however, so you never know. Inshallah, we will find the Haj a very fulfilling experience,” said 55-year-old British pilgrim Nazir Parkar, who was accompanied by close friend Mushtaq Parkar, 49.

“Whenever I need to speak Arabic, I let him (Mushtaq) deal with it.”

“Yes, I can speak my best broken Arabic despite six years working in Kuwait!” added Mushtaq.

Some pilgrims said they were delayed because they had a tough time performing Tawaf Al-Qadum in Makkah’s Grand Mosque before heading to Mina. Ozair Zulfiquar, a Jeddah-based Pakistani expatriate, admitted that the delays were expected. "Such things do happen in this mass movement of people,” he said. "We had a difficult time circumambulating the Holy Kaaba … There were too many people. We had to do it on the Grand Mosque’s first floor."

Though Zulfiquar looked tired after a long journey, his spirits were high. “I told my wife who came from Pakistan that Haj entails immense hardships. So she was mentally prepared for the onerous task. Now we are under the protection of Allah,” he remarked.

A member of the Indian Haj delegation, Meraj Ahmed, congratulated Saudi Arabia for making exceptional arrangements. "They have done a remarkable job," he said. Ahmed is a former minister in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. He said Mina has undergone a complete change. "This is not the Mina I visited 10 years ago. It is now the most modern city with most modern facilities. He, however, complained about haphazard arrangement in the Indian pilgrim camps. "Many Indian Hajis came complaining to us about lack of facilities."

The pilgrims arrive in Mina with mixed feelings of trepidation, joy and reflection. They think of the rituals they must perform so there is trepidation. They count themselves lucky to be in the tent city on the 8th Dul Hijjah. Their joy is unequalled. And the whole exercise reminds them of life gone by, the wrongs they committed and the time they wasted. So it is natural to reflect on the past and pray for inspiration in the future.

On the Plains of Arafat on Monday they will bare their hearts before Almighty Allah and beseech Him to forgive them and bless them. What tops the list of their prayers is often secret, perhaps something that they would admit to no one but God. However, there are some pilgrims who will confide their wishes. It is not surprising that a huge range of requests will be made to God on the Plains of Arafat. Some prayers are for the general good of humanity.

Shahbaz Alam Chaudhry from Lahore, Pakistan, said he would be praying for all those who have lost their lives in natural and man-made tragedies in Pakistan. "We as a country are going through a bad phase. But when we come here we become optimistic. Pakistan was created under exceptional circumstances and we will be praying for its protection. We are confident Allah will answer our prayers," he said, wiping away his tears.

The great number of pilgrims from Pakistan and India is something that is immediately apparent. “There was a time in the 1970s and 1980s when only a handful of people came to Saudi Arabia for Haj,” said Atif Ansari, a Saudi of Pakistani origin. “The growing number indicates the social and economic progress of South Asian Muslims."

Scores of policemen directed vehicles as they inched forward bumper to bumper. “Everything is proceeding very well,” a police officer remarked. Courtesy  ARAB NEWS

After Decades Apart, Sisters Reunite in Haj


ARAFAT: This is a tale of three sisters from India who now live with their families in three different countries, two of which are archrivals. All the women are here at the Haj and making the most of what they call a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

They are not just performing Haj but also catching up with each other and going down memory lane after such a long, long time. They come from the north Indian city of Allahabad. The eldest of them is Shahana Mirza. She was 22 in 1977 when she was married off to a distant cousin of hers in Karachi, Pakistan. Since then she only has made it home three times because it is extremely difficult for Pakistanis to get a visit visa to India. The rivalry is so intense that ordinary folks on both sides like Shahana have an extremely difficult time.

Farzana Mirza, the second daughter, was married in 1979 to Yawar Siddiqui who then worked as a research assistant at a public college in Chicago. Farzana was 21 at the time. Farzana remembers how her father had refused to marry her to Siddiqui. “I will not marry my daughter to someone settled in America. It is too far, and once married I would not be able to see her,” was the reasoning of Mirza Salahuddin, Farzana’s father.

“My mother also was against the marriage proposal. All the family members thought the US was too far from India, and once married I would never be able to see them again. That was a genuine fear at that time before today’s instant communication. Letters would take days to reach relatives. And there were all kinds of scary stories about America — of how young men would marry simpleton girls from India never to bring them back. Then there was the fear of America being a very liberal society where a traditional Muslim girl would find difficult to adjust.”

Yawar’s family members in Delhi persisted in trying to convince the Mirza family to give Farzana’s hand to him, but the father would not listen. Three years later Yawar came again to India and again tried to approach the Mirza family. This time their opposition was not as intense. Through common friends Yawar met Farzana’s mother and tried to convince her. She explained the reason behind their reluctance.

Yawar told her that it would be far easier for Farzana to visit her parents than their elder daughter Shahana. That clinched the deal for Yawar. Farzana was married and now has three children in college. She is here in Arafat and has visited India almost every year since marrying in 1979. “The tragedy was that my mother could not see Shahana often. She was just across the border, but she could never make the trip. We would come often during summers to India,” she told Arab News.

Yawar, now retired with a finely trimmed salt and pepper beard, smiled as his wife narrated her story to Arab News.

The youngest of Mirza daughters, Durdana, was married to a computer engineer who is based in the Indian city of Bangalore. Her husband is accompanying her to Haj. For both of them it is a great reunion.

“It seldom happens this way, and it was never planned. We applied for Haj in India through the government-supervised Haj Committee. Too many people apply, and pilgrims are decided through a computerized draw of lots. We were lucky to have been chosen this year,” said Shakir Bazmi, Durdana’s husband.

“We wrote to Durdana’s sister in Pakistan, and she told us they too were coming for Haj. We were delighted beyond words. Then the word came that their sister in the United States also was coming down to Saudi Arabia for Haj. Our happiness knew no bounds. For the sisters it was like a fairy tale,” said Bazmi.

The three sisters met last week in the vicinity of the Holy Kaaba in Makkah. They hugged each other and remembered their childhood and recalled all the stories associated with their past. “At times, we teared up and held each other’s hands. We did meet on different occasions, sometimes in India, sometimes in Pakistan, but we were never at one place together,” said Durdana. “Shahana Aapi was always missing because all our social events take place in India, and she can never make it. We always felt her absence. All of us are together here at Haj. What more could we ask of Almighty Allah?” she asked.

So what did they pray for here in the plains of Arafat? “That may Allah not separate the blood relatives from their near-and-dear ones. The pain of separation is unbearable. It makes one helpless. May Allah dissolve all political difference between India and Pakistan, so that humanity will not suffer.” Aameen. | ARAB NEWS