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Friday, July 24, 2009

Tripura "Left Front" sweeps local government polls
Agartala, 24 July : Despite the drubbing in the nationwide Lok Sabha polls, the ruling Left Front in Tripura has won handsomely in the three-tier local self-government elections, which the Left Front attributed to its "good organisational work" and development programmes in the northeastern state.
The main opposition Congress has done marginally better this time in the Gram Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis and Zilla Parishads. Of the 511 Gram Panchayats (village councils), for which polls were held Monday, the Left Front got a majority in 416 GPs, while the Congress triumphed in 82 GPs - 49 more than in the last election in 2004. The Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could not open their accounts even in the village panchayats. The electoral performance of the Congress in north and western Tripura was better this time. Out of 47 village committees (equivalent to Gram Panchayats) of tribal autonomous district council areas, 38 VCs were won by Left Front while Congress and its ally Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) got only nine. Left nominees were re-elected in by-polls of urban civic bodies in Agartala, Kailashahar and Belonia.
The victorious CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar told Bengal Newz : "The result of the three-tier panchayats, considered to be the most important political organ in rural areas, has proved the people's will for development, secularism and a strong democratic mindset.
All credit goes to the peace loving people of Tripura." Photo : Parthajit Dutta and Desher Katha
Maoists abduct policeman in troubled Lalgarh region
Kolkata, 24 July : A police official was abducted by a group of suspected Maoists Friday evening in the troubled Lalgarh region of West Bengal, following which a gun battle ensued between the rebels and security personnel, police said.
'We came to know that a policeman was abducted by a group of Maoists in Lalgarh-Ramgarh region. We have sent our forces to rescue him,' said state Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh. 'A gun battle is now on between the security forces and the Maoists,' he added. According to police sources, a group of Maoists abducted an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) rank official and a constable while they were passing through that area in a car. Later, the Maoists released the constable but took the officer into the forest.
The abduction took place at Pirakhali near Binpur block, a Maoist-dominated territory in West Midnapore district.
Strategic A & N military command
Floundering with low force-levels
New Delhi, 24 July : India's first and only regional 'theatre command' in the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Islands, created as part of the national security reforms after the 1999 Kargil conflict, is floundering and that too badly.
There is growing disquiet among the top military brass about the unified Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), where Navy, IAF and Army assets are under the operational control of a single commander, especially with all the three Services pulling in different directions. "ANC is in a bad shape. It requires many more aircraft, warships and troops but IAF, Navy and Army all remain extremely reluctant to part with any of their 'assets','' admitted a senior officer.
This when a strong military presence in the 572-island archipelago is necessary to not only counter China's strategic moves in the Indian Ocean region, but also ensure security of the sea lanes converging towards Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes with around 70,000 ships sailing through it annually.
2002 "USIS attack" : Accused plea hearing begins
Kolkata, 24 July : The hearing of the appeal preferred by Aftab Ansari and six others in the American Center attack case began on Friday in Calcutta High Court. The seven had been awarded the death sentence by a city sessions court on 26 April, 2005.
The incident dates back to 22 January, 2002. Around 6.30 am, two men riding a bike fired from an AK-47 rifle on policemen while they were exchanging shifts. The firing left five policemen dead and many injured. While the convicts Jamiluddin Nasir, Abil Hassan, Rehan Alam, Musarat Hossain, Hasrat Alam, Aftab Ahmed Ansari and Sakir Akhtar preferred an appeal in the HC against the death sentence, the state filed an application for confirmation of the same.
NSCN-IM helped form Muslim terror group in Manipur
Agartala, 24 July : The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) was instrumental in forming a Muslim-based terror group in Manipur, a senior police official said Friday.
Tripura Director General of Police (DGP) Pranay Sahaya said here that the Manipur based People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), having established links with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and trained in Bangladesh, was formed at the behest of the NSCN-IM.
The NSCN-IM has been operating a ceasefire with New Delhi since 1997. The Tripura police last week arrested seven PULF militants, including their self-styled army chief Mohammad Abdur Rahaman, in Agartala. The PULF militants, including a woman cadre, were arrested on 15 July after they entered Agartala from Bangladesh. According to the Tripura police chief, the PULF has also forged links with Pakistan-based militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. File Photo : Parthajit Dutta
Transport strike hits West Bengal
Kolkata, 24 July : The metropolis wore a deserted look on Friday as private buses, minibuses and autorickshaw operators went on an indefinite strike after their meeting with the West Bengal government on a high court order banning 15-year-old vehicles in the city failed.
People were seen waiting for state-run buses to reach their destinations especially to the airport, Howrah and Sealdah railway stations. Packed trains and underground metro have been running normally, officials said. The government-run ferry service from Howrah station to the ghats on the bank of the Hooghly river was also operating normally. Some auto-rickshaws were also seen plying on shorter routes. Cycle-rickshaw pullers were demanding extra money to ferry passengers.
While the taxis are likely to return on the roads tomorrow, bus and minibus operators have threatened to continue the strike "indefinitely" unless they were financially helped by the state government to phase out the old vehicles.
The Calcutta High Court order banning all 15-year-old commercial vehicles from the Kolkata metropolitan area would come into force from 1 August. Photos : AFP

Haldia cracker, polyolefin runs at 70-80% : No exports in August, '09
Kolkata, 24 July : Haldia Petrochemicals was running its steam cracker and downstream polyolefin plants at 70-80% capacity this week and will have no polyolefin exports for August, a company source said Friday.
Haldia's naphtha-fed steam cracker, 550,000 mt/year polyethylene plant and 270,000 mt/year polypropylene plant, were restarted over 10-12 July after a fire broke out at its steam cracker 2 July.
Gorkha Jm Morcha stall 'NHPC' project in Darjeeling
ANI, Kalijhora (West Bengal), 24 July : Demanding separate state for gurkhas, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), called a halt to project work of the National Hydroelectric power Corporation (NHPC) at Kalijhora in Darjeeling District.
We have called for this strike because this project is a central government project in Bengal. Through this strike, we want to pressurize not just the WB Government but the Central Government as well. We want our message to reach the Central Government, said Dilip Chhetri, block president, GJM. The GJM says that the closure of the project is part of their movement and a way to put pressure on the Central Government, which they allege, does not pay heed to their demands.
The low dam project of the NHPC on the Teesta River, slated for completion in 2010, was set to generate electricity for the states of West Bengal, parts of Jharkhand, Bihar and also to Bhutan and Nepal.
Syed Ashraful Islam elected Sk Hasina's new deputy
Dhaka, 24 July : Bangladesh's ruling Awami League's national council on Friday unanimously reelected prime minister Sheikh Hasina president for a sixth term and endorsed the selection of Syed Ashraful Islam as general secretary, councillors say.
The council was working on a new central working committee. Hasina's presidency was proposed by presidium member Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury and backed by Syed Ashraf, said deputy publicity secretary of the now-dissolved CWC Ashim Kumar Ukil said. He added that another presidium member, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, proposed the name of Ashraf and it was seconded by colleague Motia Chowdhury. The council has tasked the president with forming a fully fledged committee believed to be 73-strong.
Ashraf, local government minister and party spokesperson, was unanimously selected acting general secretary at the party's central working committee meeting on 22 July, a day after Abdul Jalil resigned his general secretary post for his 'grievances' for being ignored. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

China supports Bangladesh-India talks on Tipaimukh
Dhaka, 24 July : China has expressed support for talks between Dhaka and New Delhi over the proposed construction of Tipaimukh dam in India’s Manipur state. The Barak river, on which the dam is to be built, flows from China into India and then goes to Bangladesh.
Visiting Chinese special envoy Zhou Gang, who met the Bangladeshi leadership Thursday, supported the dialogue process, New Age newspaper said Friday. His response came even as Dhaka prepared to send a team of parliamentarians, officials and a water resource expert to visit the site of the proposed dam.

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