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Indian fisherman killed at sea, Colombo denies role



Indian fisherman

Chennai, March 7 

A 21-year-old fisherman from Tamil Nadu was shot dead in Sri Lankan waters igniting tensions in the state but Colombo insisted its Navy was not involved.

Six fishermen from Thangachimadam in Ramanathapuram district were fishing near the Katchatheevu islet in the narrow sea dividing the two countries when they were fired at on Monday night, Indian officials said.

One fisherman, K. Britjo, was killed. Another who was injured was warded in a hospital in Tamil Nadu. The others escaped without injuries.

As India voiced “deep concern” after the incident, Colombo promised a thorough probe and later said that its naval personnel did not fire at the fishermen.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, however, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to act to curb what he said was Colombo’s “aggression” against innocent Indian fishermen.

Katchatheevu is located in the Palk Straits which divides India and Sri Lanka. The sea near the island is rich in marine life, leading to frequent clashes between Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen as well as Navy.

In a letter to Modi, Palaniswami urged him “to intervene personally in this sensitive livelihood issue of our fishermen and use all means at the command of the government of India to curb the unacceptable aggressive actions of the Sri Lankan Navy and to protect the life, limb and liberty of our innocent fishermen”.

Palaniswami said the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India should be summoned and told about the strong feelings of the Indian and Tamil Nadu governments about the unprovoked firing on Indian fishermen.

Hundreds of fishermen launched a protest at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, blaming the Sri Lankan Navy for the killing. The dead man had set sail in a vessel with others from Rameshwaram on Monday.

Sri Lankan Navy spokesperson Lt Commander Chaminda Walakuluge said in Colombo that the Navy personnel had been ordered not to fire at Indian fishermen but to only arrest them if they entered Sri Lankan waters.

Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu took up the matter with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Britjo and Rs 1 lakh for the injured fisherman Saron.

The attack comes a day after Palaniswami wrote to Modi seeking the release of 85 fishermen and their 128 boats now in Sri Lankan custody.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said it was deeply concerned over the shooting.

“Initial investigations indicate that the Sri Lanka Navy is not involved in this alleged incident,” the Ministry said.

PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss on Tuesday condemned the killing and said New Delhi should stop terming Sri Lanka as a friendly nation.

“They were first attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy with grenades and then were shot at,” he said in Chennai.



Karti Chidambaram protected from arrest till April 16 in Aircel-Maxis case



Karti Chidambaram

New Delhi, March 24: A special court here on Saturday granted interim protection from arrest, till April 16, to Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

Special Judge O. P. Saini directed that Chidambaram, the son of former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, will not be arrested in the case till April 16, the next date fixed for hearing on his anticipatory bail plea.

The court meanwhile directed him to join investigation whenever required and not to leave the country without permission.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate has sought three more weeks to file reply on his anticipatory bail plea.

Karti Chidambaram’s advocate and senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that his client was arrested arbitrarily by the CBI in the INX media case and now he apprehends that he may be arrested in the instant case without any reason and sought interim protection from arrest till the probe agencies filed the reply in the matter.

The CBI is investigating how Karti Chidambaram allegedly managed to get a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Aircel-Maxis deal when his father was the Finance Minister in 2006.

The special court, trying 2G cases, had discharged the Maran brothers – Dayanidhi and Kalanithi – in the case, holding that that there was no prima facie case warranting the framing of charges.

The CBI had chargesheeted Maran, his brother and businessman Kalanithi Maran and others alleging that Dayanidhi Maran used his influence to help Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.

Sivasankaran alleged that Dayanidhi Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. In return, he alleged, the company made investments through Astro Network in a company stated to be owned by the Maran family.


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Rajnath hails CRPF’s contribution in meeting security challenges



79th Raising Day - Rajnath Singh

Gurugram, March 24: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday hailed the CRPF for its contribution in facing various security challenges posed by terrorism, leftwing extremist violence and insurgents in the Northeast, saying the force played a prominent role in ensuring security for the country’s development.

Addressing the force personnel here on the occasion of CRPF’s 79th anniversary, he also recalled several incidents where the valiant CRPF troopers successfully thwarted miscreants’ evil designs and said the country is proud of it.

“The force played a prominent role in ensuring safety and security which is a prerequisite for the economic development of the country,” he said.

Urging the CRPF personnel to inform people about the government’s development programmes while highlighting anti-development activities of the Maoists, he said the central force was successful in inflicting heavy losses on Maoists who were using tactics of desperation as the battle is in the final stages.

Highlighting the multidimensional role of the force, he said whether it is Jammu and Kashmir, leftwing extremism, the northeast, elections or Internal security, the country looks up to the CRPF.

Terming Maoism a serious challenge, he said due to the gallant and determined action of the CRPF and other security forces, it has entered in its last phase.

Rajnath Singh said that incidents of leftwing extremism have drastically come down in the recent past and the casualty rate of the rebels has gone up, noting that during 2017-18, the force gunned down 172 extremists while losing 63 of its personnel.

Maoists are now resorting to coward ambushes against security forces as they are unable to undertake a direct fight, he said, and also paid tributes to the 9 troopers who were killed in a blast in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma early this month.

The minister praised the courage of CRPF Commandant Chetan Cheetah who took nine bullets during an operation in Kashmir valley last year and displayed rare grit during recuperation. Cheeta joined duty few days back at the force headquarters in Delhi.

Assuring the troopers better facilities, including accommodation, he also also presented various police awards to 21 troopers for their gallantry and meritorious services.

The Home Minister added that CRPF was not only organising civic action programmes, but also taking active part in Swachhata Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan and encouraging digital transactions.

Earlier he inspected the CRPF Contigents and took the salute.


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Government’s draft useless, will continue fast: Anna Hazare



Anna Hazare

New Delhi, March 24: The indefinite hunger strike by social activist Anna Hazare is set to continue further after he reportedly found the draft sent by the government to address to his demands “useless”.

“We have received the draft from the government. But Annaji said it was useless as it has nothing new but old assurances. It is a routine document. At least, any minister should meet him,” said Sushil Bhatt, a core committee member of Team Anna.

Hazare had on Friday said he would hold discussions with the government during the agitation but his “Satyagraha” of an indefinite hunger strike would continue “till the government comes out with a concrete action plan”.

The second day of the agitation witnessed steady flow of people coming to iconic the Ramlila Maidan but majority of them were farmers while the middle class who displayed their anger during 2011 protest was found somewhat missing.

The protesters on Satuday were largely from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab with some from Maharashtra, and Rajasthan.

The number will go up substantially on Sunday, said Bhatt.

Narendra Patil, son of Maharashtra farmer Dharma Patil, who had committed suicide by consuming poison in the state secretariat in January this year, also participated in the agitation saying the government had not given the long-pending compensation even after the death of his father.

“Even after giving assurance in writing, Maharashtra government has not fulfilled the promises it made to us after the death of my father. It is cheating. I have decided to join the agitation to bolster farmers’ voice as the current dispensation is anti-farmer,” Patil said.

Hazare has been pressing for setting up a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to probe corruption cases, bring in new electoral reforms and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee report to address the agrarian crisis in the country.

Some farmers have decided to leave the venue only after their demands are accepted by the government.

Shivprasad Rajput, from Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli, said: “We have neither ration at our homes nor money as we are under huge financial distress due to fall in prices. We see hope in Annaji. We will support him till our last breath. We will go back home only when our demands are accepted.”


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