More than 200 people have been arrested in the town of Vadodara in Gujarat after days of communal tension and violence between Hindus and Muslims.

The clashes began on Thursday after an image that was offensive was posted on Facebook and WhatsApp; members of the two communities threw stones at each other and set vehicles on fire.

Over a dozen people have been injured since then, one of them in a case of stabbing yesterday but officials say all injuries reported are minor.

Vadodara is 120 kilometres from Ahmedabad. This morning, shops in the affected areas of Fatehpura and Yakutpura re-opened for business as the town tries to return to normal.

Gujarat's government deployed riot police to control the clashes over the weekend and appealed to religious leaders to intervene to curb them. Mobile telephone Internet and bulk text messaging has been suspended till tomorrow as a precautionary step.

"We have now arrested over 200 people from both the communities in the last three days," said DJ Patel, additional commissioner of Vadodara police. "The man, a teacher, who posted the controversial message on WhatsApp has also been arrested," he added, disclosing that said some of the 200 people were detained for taking part in, while others were arrested to prevent further unrest.

The Vadodara riots coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United States where he will meet President Barack Obama today and tomorrow during a trip to emphasize India's economic potential.

The PM, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat till he was elected to the country's top job, contested and won Vadodara in the national election in May, but gave up the seat later, choosing to represent Varanasi in Parliament.

His party, the BJP, won the Vadodara by-election recently.

NDTV

 

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying hard to keep up with his image of 'CEO of Andhra Pradesh Inc.' that he had crafted for himself in his earlier tenure.

To mark 100 days of his government, Mr Naidu today held an e-cabinet, a paperless cabinet meeting, that's being claimed to be a first for the country.

At the meeting, the many faces in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet reflected the many moods: Tech-savvy or overawed, dazed or absorbed, learning slowly or lending a helping hand.

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B Gopalakrishna, Environment and Forests Minister of Andhra Pradesh said it is only appropriate that the tech-savvy Chandrababu Naidu should have taken the first step in this direction. He said having information available at hand makes decision making easy and fast.

"Whoever has information, looks intelligent and powerful. The iPad will enable that. Everybody should know. As long as you don't know swimming or driving, it is very difficult. Once you know, it is very simple. Like that only computers also. Man who is really known as computer-centric person, Chandrababu Naidu, he is only next to Modi in bringing this kind of change," Mr Gopalakrishna said.

A specially designed app, eCabinet enables ministers to log in with a password and access the agenda of the Cabinet meeting in electronic form but prevents the user from sharing it with anyone.

With not all ministers tech-savvy, a special training camp was organised recently when the iPads were distributed along with the passwords.

"What would have taken several hours got done in just over an hour because information was easily available at our fingertips," said a cabinet minister.

Mr Naidu's admirers point out that he is after all the first to start path-breaking changes in e-governance, with initiatives like e-seva, HARD and so on. "He is a trendsetter and soon everyone else will be doing this," said a software firm techie based in Hyderabad.

Critics however say Chandrababu Naidu seems to be a man in a hurry. At a time when he should be focusing on basics like building a new capital and an office for his colleagues to sit in, Mr Naidu wants his cabinet to leapfrog into the digital future. Citizens would hope the e-cabinet proves to be more than just a charming photo-opportunity.

NDTV

Within hours of being elected as leader of AIADMK Legislature Party, O Panneerselvam was on Sunday invited by Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah to form the government. According to a Raj Bhavan communique, Panneerselvam, who was Finance Minister in J Jayalalithaa's ministry and represents Bodinayakanur constituency in the state Assembly, met Rosaiah and submitted a letter and the resolution passed by the AIADMK legislators who chose him unanimously, a day after the party supremo was jailed in a graft case.

"Consequently, His Excellency the Governor has invited him to form the Ministry," it said without divulging details.

A day after AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was convicted in the disproportionate wealth case by a special court in Bengaluru, AIADMK legislative party members and rebel DMDK MLAs met at the party headquarters on Sunday and elected O Panneerselvam as the next Chief Minister.

The meeting lasted for an hour, after which Panneerselvam alongwith senior party members rushed to meet Governor K. Rosaiah at the Raj Bhavan to put forth a letter of support from the party MLAs as well as rebel DMDK MLAs to stake a claim to form the next government.


Party sources said that party seniors might request the Governor to hold the swearing in ceremony on Monday.

O Paneerselvam also served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in September 2001, after Jayalalithaa’s appointment was quashed by the Supreme Court.

In March 2002, he resigned as the Chief Minister and Jayalalithaa was sworn-in after the SC overturned her conviction.

Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa’s lawyers will now move the Karnataka High Court on Monday for bail for her while they were also finalising a strategy for seeking a stay on her conviction and sentence in the disproportionate assets case.

But it may be taken up only on Tuesday when there is a scheduled hearing by a vacation bench because the high court will observe holidays from September 29 to August 6 for Dasara.


Jayalalithaa was charged in 1997, when police seized assets including 28 kilos of gold, 750 pairs of shoes and more than 10,000 saris in a raid on her home in Chennai.

Prosecutors said her assets, which reportedly included two 1,000-acre estates in Tamil Nadu, were vastly disproportionate to her earnings during her first term as chief minister from 1991 to 1996.

Protests broke out Saturday in Chennai and Bangalore, with supporters burning several buses and attacking media crews.

Deccan Chronicle

 

The Udaipur Airport was put on high alert after an anonymous call was received by the facility, which threatened to disrupt Air India flights and create chaos across the country, if self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, presently in jail for an alleged sexual assault on a minor, is not released within 15 days, police said Sunday.


Udaipur additional superintendent of police (Rural) Rewant Dan said the call was made in the morning to the airport.

“The call was received by assistant manager Saroj Meena of the air traffic control at around 8 am,” said Dan.

“The caller said if Asaram was not released, Air India flights will be targeted and threatened to create mayhem across the country.”

Police have traced the SIM card of the phone from which the call was made and are trying to verify the caller’s identity, the ASP said.

“The SIM is issued in the name of one Dharmendra Kumar of Rani Kheda, in the Lal Ganj area of Rai Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. We are trying to ascertain if the identity of the caller and the SIM card owner is the same.”

Dan said the Udaipur police are coordinating with its Uttar Pradesh counterparts to trace the caller.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards the facility, has tightened security and increased its vigil, police said.

An FIR has been lodged against the anonymous caller at Dabok police and police has started investigations.

The controversial self-styled godman is lodged in the Jodhpur central jail since September 2 last year after he was booked in a sexual assault case.

A 16-year-old girl had lodged a police complaint on August 20, 2013, accusing him of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur.

Asaram’s supporters have on several occasions staged sit-in protests outside the jail and attacked police and media persons protesting against allegations, which they claim are false.

Hindustan Times

 

ndian scientists on Monday successfully tested the main engine of the country’s Mars mission spacecraft and completed a course correction that put the probe on track to enter the red planet’s orbit on September 24.

If successful, India will become the first country to make it to Mars in its maiden attempt, propelling it to an elite club of space race leaders. Only the US, Europe and Russia have so far sent probes that have successfully orbited or landed on the planet.

“We had a perfect burn for four seconds as programmed. The trajectory has been corrected. MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) will now go for the nominal plan for Mars Orbit Insertion,” the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Facebook page said.

The liquid engine, which was dormant for 300 days, will be used with eight small thrusters during orbit entry by the spacecraft in India’s first interplanetary mission.

“The spacecraft is in good health. Mission controllers are going through the final round of the sequence of operations,” ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan told HT, adding that there was a lot more to do.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at ISRO’s command centre in Bengaluru at 7.30 am on September 24 to witness the mission’s last phase after the probe broke into Mars’ sphere of influence on Monday.

The Mangalyaan, as the spacecraft is popularly known, aims to study Mars' surface and mineral composition, and search its atmosphere for methane, a chemical strongly tied to life on earth.

India’s Rs. 450-crore expedition cost about a tenth of NASA’s Mars mission Maven that entered the red planet’s orbit on Wednesday. Modi hailed the project’s low price tag in June, saying it was less than the budget of the Hollywood space movie Gravity.

“I hope India will consider international participation in any future missions to Mars as this mission will clearly demonstrate its capability to successfully deliver a payload to Mars and many countries would be pleased to collaborate with India,” said Mark Sims, professor of astrobiology and space instrumentation at the UK’s University of Leicester.

The 680-million-kilometre journey to Mars that began on November 5 last year has had its share of adventures and feats —five orbit-raising manoeuvres including a small glitch in the fourth such operation that was fixed.

Probes to Mars have a high failure rate and a success will boost India’s space exploration programme, especially after a similar mission by China failed to leave earth’s orbit in 2011.

Hindustan Times

 

After holding week-long educational workshops on the proper use of bike helmets, the Delhi Traffic Police on Wednesday started a drive to fine women found riding, even pillion, without a helmet.

Around 3,236 women were fined for not wearing helmets.

The fines were issued as per the Motor Vehicle Act (1988), which penalises the offender Rs. 100 for driving or pillion riding without a helmet. Special focus was laid on high-traffic zones like Nehru Place, Connaught Place, Lajpat Nagar and Vasant Vihar.

“We formed over 100 teams of traffic officials. They were specifically instructed not to entertain excuses from offenders,” said Anil Shukla, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

However, the order issued in August by the transport department to fine women pillion riders exempts Sikh women.

The drive also concentrated on the minimum quality standard of helmets as prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards. People were challaned for wearing helmets that did not comply with the prescribed ISI-4151 category.

“It will be difficult to stop and check for the quality mark stated on each helmet but we are trying to at least spot the visible violations,” added Shukla.

Of the 3,236 women fined, 785 traffic tickets were issued from the central range, 426 from the eastern range, 528 from the northern range, 569 from western and 928 fines were issued from the southern range

Hindustan Times

 

A court in West Bengal sentenced 13 people to 20 years of imprisonment on Saturday for the gang-rape of a tribal girl on the orders of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district eight months ago.

Reportedly, additional district and sessions judge Siddhartha Roy Choudhury said that the district magistrate of tribal-dominated Birbhum must make sure that family members of the guilty do not suffer from starvation.

All the convicted are from the backward sections of the society.

On January 21, a tribal girl from Subolpur village in Birbhum was gang-raped by a group of men for having affair with a boy from another community.

The incident sent a shock wave across India. Supreme Court also took stock and directed the district magistrate of Birbhum to submit a report.

The woman's family, in their complaint, said that she was gang raped by 13 persons after a 'salishi sabha' or kangaroo court decided to punish her on January 21. The victim said that among those who brutalised her were people old enough to be her father.

The victim and her paramour were caught, tied to a tree and assaulted after which they were asked to pay a fine of Rs 50,000. The gang rape took place after the girl said that she was unable to pay.

Deccan Chronicle

 

Two Indian men, accused of abducting and raping a woman in Australia, were found guilty of the crime on Monday, media reported.

Ajitpal Singh, 31, and Randhir Singh, 21, were on Monday found guilty by an Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court jury on charges of sexual assault, committing acts of indecency, unlawful confinement, and abduction, the Canberra Times reported.

The court heard that Randhir Singh and the victim had met via social media application, Tango, Sep 25, 2013.

They swapped sexual messages and agreed to meet at Kippax Fair Shopping Centre the next day.

When the victim tried to back out of the meeting after seeing another man with Randhir, Ajitpal Singh threatened her child and said he would show her husband the messages.

Randhir then drove the victim to Ajitpal Singh's flat. He forced her to give him oral sex and unsuccessfully tried to have sex with her on the way.

The woman said she pleaded with Randhir to let her go, but he ignored her and raped her in a bedroom of the 14th floor flat.

During the assault, a third man, Jaskaran Sandu, 33, took two pictures of her.

Ajitpal Singh then used the pictures to blackmail and rape her, the report said.

Crown prosecutor Margaret Jones said the men had hatched a "calculated and devious" plot to force the victim to have sex with them.

Defence barristers, however, said the sex had been consensual and their clients denied threatening the victim.

The jurors found Randhir Singh not guilty on one count of committing an act of indecency on the victim.

Prosecutors also withdrew one charge of committing an act of indecency against Ajitpal Singh during the five-day trial.

Both men face lengthy jail sentences and are expected to be deported to India upon release.

NDTV

 

Former Assam Director General of Police Shankar Barua, whose premises were searched by the CBI in connection with Saradha scam last month, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself at his residence on Wednesday.

Guwahati Senior Superintendent of Police A P Tiwari told PTI that Barua was rushed to a local nursing home at around noon and was was declared dead.

"Barua is no more. We are investigating. We cannot say anything now. Only after the investigation we can talk about details," Tiwari said.

The body of Barua, who is said to have shot himself in the head, has been sent for post-mortem.Family sources said that Barua had slipped into depression after his name was allegedly linked to the Saradha scam.

Barua was undergoing treatment in a local hospital after he had complained of chest pain last week. He was discharged this morning.

"He came home and within half an hour he went to the terrace and shot himself with a pistol. He was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital by family members," they said.

Non-stop coverage by television channels relating to him had upset the former Director General, the family said. CBI spokesperson in Delhi said that former Director General of Assam Police was neither examined by the CBI nor was he summoned.
Barua's name got linked with the scam after an employee of Saradha's media house here alleged last year that he had provided 'protection' to them in Assam which was arranged by popular Assamese singer and filmmaker Sadananda Gogoi on behalf of the group.
Gogoi was taken to Kolkata by CBI for further questioning and was subsequently arrested on September 12.

CBI had conducted searches in 12 premises on August 28 in connection with the multi-crore rupees ponzi scheme scam which included residences of two former Assam ministers.

 

Gulf News

 

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday accused a senior Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader of trying to bribe an AAP legislator to switch sides and help the BJP form a government in the capital, but the BJP’s local unit washed its hands off the controversy.


AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal released a sting video purportedly showing Delhi BJP vice president Sher Singh Dagar offering Rs. 4 crore to AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya amid reports that the BJP was preparing to form the government in Delhi, which has been under president’s rule since February.

Mohania was allegedly told he could contest the election on a BJP ticket and even if he lost, he would be given chairmanship of any government-run board.

Neither the BJP nor the AAP have a majority to form a government in Delhi: the BJP is the single largest party in Delhi with 28 MLAs in the 67-member house, while the AAP has 27 members and the Congress only eight. There are four other members in the house.

Reports said the BJP looked set to receive an invitation from lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung any time and the party was likely to prove its majority on the floor of the house in a secret ballot.

Monday’s allegations are likely to weigh on any decision by the lieutenant governor on whether to call the BJP to form the next government in Delhi.

“Under any circumstances, we are not going to allow the BJP to form the government by using illegal means," Kejriwal said at a press conference. He added that said raw footage of the sting operation will be submitted to the Supreme Court which is set to hear a Delhi Assembly case on Tuesday.

Sources said the AAP wanted to discredit the BJP and stall any effort to form a government. The AAP has been pressing for fresh elections because its internal assessment shows it can improve its 2013 tally of 28 seats.

“Only the L-G can say what will be done. Only he can take any decision," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said when asked about the political situation in Delhi.

The BJP’s Delhi unit distanced itself from the controversy, but sought an explanation from Dagar. “The party has nothing to do with the entire episode,” said a senior BJP leader.

“We have sought an explanation from Dagar. He had not gone to meet the AAP MLA, rather he had approached BJP. Dagar is anyway not authorised to take a decision on anyone wishing to join the party,” said Satish Upadhyay, Delhi BJP president.

Dagar said Mohania had approached him to join the BJP: “If someone visits me, how can I not attend to the person?” He also said he will quit politics if the charges were proved.

Hindustan Times

 

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