Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Suryakant Dhasmana acquitted, 4 cops sentenced in Karanpur firing case

Suryakant Dhasmana, vice-president of the state unit of the Congress, who has been acquitted in the 1994 Karanpur firing incident, comes out of the CBI court in Dehradun on Thursday.
Suryakant Dhasmana, vice-president of the state unit of the
Congress, who has been acquitted in the 1994 Karanpur
firing incident, comes out of the CBI court in Dehradun 

Members of Rajesh Rawat’s family, who was killed in the firing, after the pronouncement of the judgment.
Members of Rajesh Rawat’s family, who was killed in the firing, after the pronouncement of the judgment.
Dehradun, June 7
A CBI court in a 60-page judgment today acquitted Suryakant Dhasmana, vice-president of the Uttarakhand Congress, of the charges of killing Rajesh Rawat and injuring Ravinder Rawat and Rajiv Mohan in the Karanpur firing case. The trio was part of a mob that had attacked Dhasmana’s house on October 3 in 1994 in the aftermath of the infamous Rampur Tiraha episode case during the agitation for a separate state of Uttarakhand.
However, Pardeep Pant, Judge of the CBI court, sentenced four police personnel on Dhasmana’s security duty to various sentences. The policemen, namely Jaipal, Jasbir, Madan Singh and Jitender Kumar, were held guilty and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment each under Section 304 for culpable homicide and a penalty of Rs 10,000 each was imposed on them. In case the penalty was not paid, they would undergo imprisonment for six more months.
Besides, the accused were also convicted under Section 308 of causing grievous injuries to Ravinder Rawat and Rajiv Mohan and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The Judge also imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 each on them and in case of its non-payment ordered them to undergo another six months in jail. They were also held guilty under Section 201 for tampering with evidence and sentenced to two years in jail. The three sentences would run concurrently. Of the total penalty amount, Rs 20,000 would be given to the family of the deceased and Rs 10,000 each to the families of the two injured. The case dragged on for 18 years.

Convicted policemen in civvies.
Convicted policemen in civvies.
Elated over the judgment, Dhasmana said he was glad that he had been acquitted of a crime that he never committed. He added he fought the court battle for the last 18 years and had to approach the High Court thrice in 2008, 2010 and 2012 to implore it to expedite the case. However, on May 15 the High Court directed the CBI to wrap up the case within 30 days, owing to which the Judge delivered the judgment today.
Dhasmana said opposition parties and leaders of the statehood agitation had attacked him unreasonably. Even the Press had written against him with regard to the case but he never harboured any hard feeling against them and forgave them. The Congress leader added the truth had prevailed ultimately.
Razia Begh, Dhasmana’s counsel, said it was a clear case in their favour as a mob had first burnt Dhasmana’s office at Karanpur in Dehradun and then laid siege to his house and began pelting it with stones. Baljeet Singh, senior counsel for the leader, said nowhere in the case it could be proved that Dhasmana fired a shot from his pistol or any other pistol.
It was on October 3 in 1994 that infuriated at the Rampur Tiraha incident during the government of Samajwadi Party (SP) in the undivided Uttar Pradesh those struggling for a separate state of Uttarakhand first burnt down Dhasmana’s office in the Karanpur locality of Dehradun city and later pelted stones at his house. Dhasmana was a prominent SP leader at that time.
Begh said security personnel had fired into the air eight times to disperse the angry mob. However, on the ninth time a bullet fired by them hit a pillar, ricocheted and hit Rajesh Rawat, killing him. Ravinder Rawat and Rajiv Mohan were injured in the firing.
Dhasmana had filed an FIR against the mob while Harinder Rawat, an uncle of deceased Rajesh Rawat, too filed an FIR against the leader. Two final reports went in Dhasmana’s favour and then following a petition filed by the Uttarakhand Sangharsh Samiti, an NGO, in the Allahabad High Court in 1995 that the case was handed over to the CBI. The CBI then converted the charges filed under Section 302 by the local police into Sections 304, 308, 307, 334 and 201. The trial in the case went on till 2006 when the state government under a general order withdrew all cases pending against the leaders and participants of the statehood agitation, including Dhasmana’s case. But the case against Dhasmana still continued thereafter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

SAD-BJP win in Punjab civic polls comes with a rider

Chandigarh, June 11
There is euphoria in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) - Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance about the results of the municipal corporation elections that were declared yesterday. The alliance has swept the poll in the four largest cities of the state - Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

But a close look at the number of seats that the alliance has won should be a sign of worry rather than jubilation. Barring Amritsar, the number of seats retained by the alliance has actually dipped.
Losing seats in three municipal corporations, barely four months after the alliance won the Assembly seats here, can at best be seen as early warning signs for the alliance.
Compared to the 2007 results, the share of the SAD-BJP seats has gone down. Coming at a time when the main Opposition Congress is fragmented and in disarray, the result shows that the people are beginning to get disillusioned with the delay in implementation of promises made before the Assembly elections.
The slight gain for the alliance in the Amritsar MC is perhaps because the Congress is the weakest in the Majha region. In Amritsar, the SAD seats have gone up marginally from 15 in 2007 to 24 now.
Similarly, the BJP has won 24 seats in this elections. It had 17 in the 2007 edition.
The alliance went in for the civic poll soon after the Assembly elections to take advantage of its preparedness. Though it has managed to retain its hold in all four cities, it needs to be cautious.
The reason for the decrease in the number of seats for the alliance could be its diversion from the citizen-centric announcements in the form of reforms it has announced prior to the Assembly poll.
In the four months since the alliance formed the government in Punjab for the historic second successive term, the work on reforms has slowed down. The police reforms remain on paper, the ‘suvidha kendras’ are non-functional at many places and the ‘fard kendras’ have also not delivered according to expectations. This perhaps has got reflected in the results.
The dip in the number of seats for the alliance could also be due to the shaking of the people’s confidence in the government due to events like honouring of Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, with the title of living martyr. This coupled with the Blue Star Memorial in the Golden Temple complex also does not appear to have gone down well with the urban voters as these might be reminding them of the days of terrorism in the state.
Even a tussle for supremacy has begun between the SAD and BJP. In Amritsar, the BJP and the SAD have won 24 seats each, but now the state Election Commission has ordered a re-poll in ward 3.
Here Raj Kumar Jolly of the SAD is pitted against Surinder Chaudhary of the Congress. If after the re-poll the SAD candidate wins, the party will have one more seat than the BJP. It then could stake a claim for the Mayor’s position which was earlier with the BJP.
Party sources in the BJP said that the EC has ordered the re-poll on a very flimsy ground that someone, sitting outside the polling booth, was trying to hack the EVMs with a laptop — something which is not only improbable, but highly questionable as the ground for a re-poll. The BJP claimed that it has performed better than the SAD as it has managed to hold its ground in Jalandhar and Patiala, improved in Amritsar and suffered a marginal setback in Ludhiana.
Meanwhile, other smaller parties like the PPP, BSP and CPI have managed to mark a token presence by winning one seat each. In Ludhiana, SAD had won 33 seats in 2007 which is down to 29 this time. The SAD’s candidate for the Mayor’s position has lost. Even the seats for the BJP have come down from 17 to 13. In Patiala, the SAD has lost three seats. Now, it has 32 victories as compared to 35 last time. The BJP has just managed to retain its seven seats.
In Jalandhar too, both the SAD and BJP have seen a drop in seats. SAD is down from 12 to 11 and the BJP from 21 to 19. The Congress too has lost in terms of the number of seats, but the Congress was not expected to dominate these polls.

Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) chief suspended over Tatra

CBI to question him in truck ‘deal’; Natarajan says he will come out clean

New Delhi/Bangalore, June 11
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) suspended Chairman-cum-Managing-Director of the government-run defence equipment manufacturer Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) VRS Natarajan this morning. The move came following a request from the CBI seeking permission to probe him besides removing him from the post.
Natarajan faces a probe in the purchase of Tatra trucks which the BEML supplies to the Army. The CBI is of the view that Natarajan, who has been the CMD of the BEML for more than 10 years, is in position to influence the probe.
Sources in the MoD said the CBI would now have easier access to Natarajan and other BEML officials suspected to be involved in the Tatra truck deal.
Natarajan is the second senior official of a defence manufacturing unit to be under the CBI scanner. In 2009, the CBI had booked Sudipto Ghosh, Director-General of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), for illegal gratification.
Natarajan today said he respected the government’s decision and maintained he would come out clean. He arrived at his office in Bangalore and left soon after the MoD announced his suspension. Senior-most functional BEML Director P Dwarkanath has been handed over the charge.
The CBI registered a case after Defence Minister AK Antony asked it to look into the Tatra case. NRI Ravi Rishi has been booked. He is the person supplying the trucks to the BEML for further supply to the Army.
The CBI is probing if the BEML based in Bangalore violated guidelines in buying and supplying Tatra trucks to the Army. The alleged violations include allowing a middleman to broker the deal - defence equipment has to be bought directly from the manufacturer. The trucks were also allegedly overpriced and cost the Army around 60 per cent more than what the Tatra, the manufacturer, sells it to the middleman.
Before he retired in May, then Army Chief General VK Singh said he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear the purchase of 600 substandard Tatra trucks for the Army.
Natarajan said the General’s assessment of the trucks was incorrect and he sought an apology from the General otherwise he would sue him for defamation.

Cow slaughter: SSP suspended for dereliction of duty in Punjab

JOGA/MANSA: After Punjab village situated on Barnala-Mansa road went on rampage over the killing of large number of cows at a factory, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal suspended Mansa senior superintendent of police(SSP) Sukhdev Singh Chahal under suspension for dereliction of duty. THe chief minister has ordered inquiry into the incident. 

"SSP has been placed under suspension for failing to control the situation and dereliction in duty", confirmed Bathinda Inspector general of police(IG) Nirmal Singh Dhillon. 

IG talking to Times of India over phone said chief minister, who was personally monitoring the developments in the aftermath of killing of cows at a factory, has ordered the suspension of SSP Chahal for dereliction of duty. 

Police had failed to contain the unruly mob even after clamping of curfew and angry residents keep on damaging factory and putting articles of one of the factory owner' house on fire. 

Curfew has been clamped to contain the enraging crowd but people kept on defying the prohibitory orders. The police had to resort to cane-charge to control the unruly mob. Four persons got injured in the cane charging and stone pelting. 

Joga resident Sukhwinder Dass, who was working in the fields around Saturday midnight, saw a canter getting large number of cows to the factory and then heard shrieking of cows. "I apprised the villagers about the cows being transported to the factory with suspected intention of killing. When we reached the factory in the wee hours, we found many cows having been killed already and few waiting to be killed", said Sukhwinder. 

Seeing the heads of cows, the villagers got agitated. As the news spread, the activists of Hindu organizations started converging at the village and in no time, the activists started damaging the factory, said a villager. 

The irate activists of Hindu organizations along with Gowshala sangh members pulled down a part of factory owned by Joga residents Ajaib Singh, Narinder Singh and Bhushan Singh. VHP leader Lalit Kumar demanding stern action against guilty said, "We are shocked to see the killing of cows and the guilty need to be given exemplary punishment." 

Going by the agitated activists, district administration clamped curfew but when people kept on rampaging and indulged in stone pelting, police resorted to cane-charge wherein four persons got injured. 

Bathinda Inspector general of police(IG) Nirmal Singh, DC Mansa Amit Dhaka, Mansa MLA Prem Mittal visited the place and assured stern action. DC Amit Dhaka said district administration is keeping strict vigil over the situation and trying to put situation under control. 

Police have booked three partners of the factory under hurting the religious sentiments, cruelty to animals under cow protection act. 

The owners, however, succeeded in fleeing with family members to escape arrests. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Major (retired) Avtar Singh
Ex-Indian Army officer kills family, self in US 
Los Angeles, June 10
A former Indian Army officer, Major Avtar Singh, who was wanted in India for the murder of a prominent Kashmiri lawyer, has killed himself along with his wife and two children in his California home.
Singh (47) had fled to the United States after he was accused of killing Jaleel Andrabi, a Kashmiri lawyer and activist associated with the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), whose body was found floating in the Jhelum River in March 1996.
Andrabi, 42, was allegedly detained by a unit of Rashtriya Rifles led by Major Singh and his body was found a day later.
Authorities in Selma, California, believe Singh shot his family and then took his own life. Singh was found dead in the living room with an apparent gunshot wound to his head, officials said.
Singh called Selma police around 6:15 am yesterday and told them that he had killed members of his family and was going to kill himself, quoted the Fresno County Sheriff's Office as saying.
A woman, believed to be Singh's wife, and a three-year-old boy were found in the home's master bedroom dead of gunshot wounds to the head, officials said.
The body of a 15-year-old boy was discovered in another bedroom, also with a gunshot wound to the head.
Selma police called the Fresno County Sheriff's Office to assist because they were aware that Singh had military experience in India, the report said.
Outside Singh's home, officers and deputies tried to contact him verbally and by telephone, but he did not respond.
File photo of Jaleel Andrabi
File photo of Jaleel Andrabi 
Srinagar, June 10
As the news about the suicide by former Major Avtar Singh, the main accused in the 1996 killing of Kashmiri lawyer Jaleel Andrabi, broke this morning, the Andrabi family in uptown Srinagar rued that had New Delhi got the former Army officer extradited to India, three lives could have been saved.

“Avtar Singh’s family would have been alive if the government had conducted the trial and got him extradited from the US,” Jaleel’s elder brother Arshad Andrabi said.
Arshad said the J&K police, New Delhi, the US Government and the Interpol failed to bring justice to them. “It is also the failure of justice at all levels,” Arshad said.
Avtar Singh reportedly killed his wife and two of their children in their California home before committing suicide today. Avtar Singh, as per reports, had called the Selma police in California about the death of three family members before ending his life.
“Had Avtar Singh, against whom there was an Interpol red-corner notice, faced trial, other details about the murder of my brother would have also come to the fore.
He could not have killed my brother all alone. There must have been other persons who must have been instrumental in the killing of the noted lawyer,” Arshad said, adding that five FIRs were registered against Avtar Singh.
The 36-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, Jaleel Andrabi, was arrested by an Army team, led by a Major, on March 8, 1996, when he was driving home along with his wife. Some 20 days later, Andrabi’s decomposed, trussed-up body was recovered from the Jhelum.
The report of a special investigation team set up by the J&K High Court in June 1996 identified “an Army Major of 103 Territorial Army posted at Rawalpora as prima facie responsible for the death”.
On the orders of the High Court, a murder case was registered against Major Avtar Singh and others. Singh later fled to the US after he was accused of murder.
Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Srinagar, Mohammed Ibrahim Wani on February 6, 2010, issued an Interpol red-corner notice against Major Avtar Singh.
The court had also directed the J&K Government and the Ministry of External Affairs to vigorously pursue the extradition of Major Avtar Singh. The case is now pending for trial before the court of the CJM, Srinagar, for over a decade.
Singh was arrested by the California police in February this year following a complaint by his wife in connection with a domestic dispute.
A noted human rights activist, Khuram Parvaiz, said the “impunity granted by the Indian state facilitated the murder of three more persons by Avtar Singh”.
“His suicide and the murder of his family members is no justice for Kashmiris. Justice is still awaited...,” he said.

A peep into the case
l Jaleel Andrabi was arrested by an Army Major on March 8, 1996
l Jaleel’s decomposed body was recovered from the Jhelum on May 27
l SIT was set up by the J&K High Court in June 1996, which identified Major Avtar Singh for Andrabi’s death
l Singh later fled to the US after he was accused of murder
l The CJM, Srinagar, on Febuaray 6, 2010, issued an Interpol red-corner notice against Major Avtar Singh. The court also directed the government to extradite him from the US
l The case is lying pending for trial before the court of the CJM, Srinagar, for over a decade.

Akali Dal-BJP sweep Punjab civic polls

Alliance retains hold on 4 MCs n 75% turnout n Reports of widespread rigging n One dead, 2 MLAs among 13 hurt 
CHANDIGARH: The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) alliance made a clean sweep in the municipal election in Punjab Sunday winning four municipal corporations, three municipal councils and 26 nagar panchayats, an official said. 

Stray incidents of violence, including a firing incident in Ludhiana city, and clashes between Akali Dal and Congress workers were reported at some places. Tension prevailed in Patiala city, 80 km from here, as Congress and Akali Dal workers clashed. 

One person was critically injured in a firing incident on the outskirts of Ludhiana city. 

Results of the election, polling for which was held Sunday 8 am-4 pm, were declared late in the evening. 

Akali Dal secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said that the Akali DAl-BJP combine had swept the municipal elections in the state. 

He said that the alliance was the winner in the four municipal corporations, three municipal councils and 26 nagar panchayats' elections. He said that the alliance had a comfortable majority in all civic bodies. 

The results again showed the domination of the alliance, which had won the January assembly polls, and the decimation of the Congress in Punjab's electoral politics. 

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh said that the elections were "a murder of democracy". 

He said that the Akalis wanted to win at any cost and resorted to foul means like booth capturing, intimidation and brutal abuse of state power during the elections. 

Amarinder Singh and some other Congress leaders were manhandled Sunday in Patiala. 

The Congress faced embarrassment in Amarinder's home town Patiala as the ruling alliance won 39 out of the 49 seats for which results were declared. The Congress won only eight seats. 

In Jalandhar, the alliance bagged the majority winning 30 seats out of the 59 results declared, Cheema said. 

In Amritsar, the combine won 48 out of the 65 seats. 

In Ludhiana, they won 42 seats out of the 70 results declared in the 75-member house. 

Cheema said that the results had shown that the voters had accepted the development agenda of the Akali Dal-BJP alliance and rejected the negative agenda of the Congress. 

Amarinder Singh criticised the role of police and the local administration in the municipal elections. 

"It is the saddest day in the history of Punjab when the Akali-BJP alliance let loose a reign of terror in a city like Patiala and did not allow people to cast their votes," Amarinder Singh said.

Dr. Cheema said that in elections to three municipal councils SAD-BJP alliance had already won Dharmkot elections unopposed and in Nagar Panchat elections Makhu and Mallanwala had also been won unopposed. (Detailed Chart of elections has been enclosed) 

The SAD Spokesman further said that the results in today's civic elections has once again proved that people have voted for the pro-development agenda of the SAD-BJP alliance. The second consecutive victory in the elections in the state has confirmed the faith of the people in programmes and policies of the SAD-BJP alliance. He said that the SAD-BJP goverment has done unprecedented development in the urban areas of the state and people of the state want development to continue and this mandate is for all round development of urban areas.
"The people of the state have totally rejected the negative agenda of the Congress party" added Dr. Cheema.

The SAD has emerged the No.1 party in Punjab’s urban areas. The civic elections have dispelled the myth that we have a rural base alone. Social engineering that provides equal representation to all communities in urban and rural areas helped us win all seats in several nagar panchayats
— Sukhbir Badal, SAD president & Deputy Chief Minister Punjab