Taslima Nasreen denies writing for Kannada Newspaper

New Delhi: While Shimoga and Hassan towns in Karnataka remained tense for the second consecutive day over Taslima Nasreen’s article in a Kannada newspaper, the controversial writer has denied writing any article for the news daily.

“I have never written an article and Monday’s protest in Shimoga has really shocked me. The article was published to malign me”, said Taslima Nasreen.

At least three people were killed and several others injured during the clashes between police and protesters in Shimoga. Both Shimoga and Hasan witnessed large-scale violence, arson and protests. A dawn-to-dusk curfew was imposed in Shimoga.

The trouble began when an article against the burqa tradition was published in a Kannada newspaper named ‘Kannada Prabha’. The article was attributed to Taslima Nasreen, triggering protests in Shimoga and Hasan.

No political consensus on women’s quota bill

New Delhi: Opposition from three political parties may still derail the bill seeking to reserve 33 percent seats in parliament and state legislatures for women.

Though the union cabinet decided last Thursday it would introduce the bill, it does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, to get it passed. “The original idea of reservation for women came from former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) is emotionally attached to the issue. We want it to come as soon as possible but it is for the government to decide the timing,” added party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed.

The three parties — the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) — are demanding a quota for weaker sections within this one-third quota.

The SP and the RJD have threatened to withdraw support to the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) if the government forces the legislation in its present form through parliament. The JD-U has said the government should strive to build consensus on the issue.

The bill provides for reservation of seats for women for 15 years from the date of commencement of the act on rotational basis. The proposal for providing reservation to women in legislatures has been pending for over 13 years — since 1996 when it was first brought to parliament by the H.D. Deve Gowda government.

In its present form, the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, has the backing of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left.

For the bill to be passed, it has to be supported by two-thirds of those present and voting. This figure should also be at least 50 percent of the total number of MPs in the house.

The Congress, BJP and Left together have 348 MPs in the 545 member Lok Sabha — close to the two-thirds mark. In the Rajya Sabha, their number adds up to 138 against the two-thirds majority figure of 162.

The government is hoping for support from smaller parties while mustering the required numbers.

The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2008 and was referred to the standing committee on law and justice that gave its report in December 2009.

President Pratibha Patil in her address to parliament Feb 22 had said the government was committed to the early passage of the bill.

According to the SP, the legislation in its present form will only facilitate entry of women from affluent and urban backgrounds in assemblies and parliament.

RJD MP Rajniti Prasad said the party wanted reservation for weaker sections within the 33 percent quota for women. “We will not agree to the bill in its present form. The party can also withdraw its support to the government on the issue.” he said.

JD-U spokesperson Javed Raza said the government should convene an all-party meeting on the bill and build consensus. “We will also raise the issue at meeting of National Democratic Alliance,” he said.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said his party had already declared its support for the bill and it was for the government to declare its intention.

He added the BJP was also open to alternative suggestions such as double-member constituencies.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia said his party had no problems. “They should bring the bill now.”

Thirteen killed, 33 injured in mishap in Rajasthan

Jaipur: Thirteen passengers, including six women and a child, were killed and 33 others injured today when a Rajasthan Roadways bus in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck in Tonk district.

The injured have been hospitalised in Tonk and Kota hospitals where condition of 20 of them is stated to be critical, police said.

The mishap occurred near Deoli in the district, 162 km from Jaipur, in the afternoon when the bus was on its way from Kota to Jaipur.

Victims were rushed to a nearby hospital where eight persons were declared brought dead while five others succumbed to injuries.

King Saud University confers honrary doctorate on Manmohan

Riyadh : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was conferred an
honorary doctorate by King Saud University on Monday.
He was given the honorary degree at a function organised by
the University.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Singh called for better cooperation
between the two countries in the field of education.
He said the linkage between the two countries in terms of
cultural and educational exchanges was that to millennium but the
linkage had weakened and needed to be revived.

FIH reduces ban on Shivendra Singh to 2 Matches

New Delhi: According to latest reports, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has reduced the three-match ban imposed on Indian striker Shivendra Singh to two matches. The decision was taken by a three member panel of the FIH.

So, Shivendra will miss the crucial matches against Australia and Spain in the ongoing Hockey World Cup 2010, but will be available for the matches against England and South Africa. Shivendra was banned for three matches by tournament director, Ken Read for allegedly hitting a Pakistani player above the eye during Sunday’s match.

According to PTI reports, the Hockey India has expressed disappointment over the verdict. “We are not at all happy with the decision because the foul was not intentional. We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict but we don’t have any option now and he will have to sit out”, said Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra.
Shivendra Singh had scored the first goal for India against the high-voltage match against Pakistan at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium inNew Delhi. India went on to win the match 4-1.

JeM Militant involved in Kandahar Hijack, arrested in Dhaka

Dhaka (Agencies): Breaking News! Nannu Mian alias Belal Mandol alias Billal, one of the five terrorists involved in the hijacking of IC-814 flight to Kandahar in 1999, wasarrested in Dhaka. Four other militants were also arrested along with him.

Bilal is a Bangladeshi national and was jailed in Guwahati for 10 years. The elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) of Bangladesh arrested Bilal and four other militants near the Dhaka College.

All arrested militants belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and they were involved in fueling militancy in India using the soil of Bangladesh. Some of them are said to be Pakistani nationals.

The militants were captured during a raid on a flat in the Sukanya Tower near the Dhaka College. Three passports issued in Pakistan, a knife, a CPU, four national Id cards, five mobile phone and Indian currency worth Rs 2,000 were seized from thearrested militants.

I am very disappointed with ban decision, says Shivendra

New Delhi: The ban on him has been reduced by a match but Indian forward Shivendra Singh today said even the lighter penalty amounts to “injustice” on him as he has been punished for no fault.

During India’s World Cup opener against Pakistan on Sunday, Shivendra’s stick hit rival player Fareed Ahmed who suffered a cut on his eye as a result.

Tournament Director Ken Read, while handing out the initial three-match suspension to Shivendra, said the act was “deliberate”.

The Indian player, who after the reduced ban will sit out of the matches against Australia and Spain, however, insisted that he had no intention to hurt the Pakistani player and it was just an accident.

“I am very disappointed with the decision. The penalty is injustice to me because I never committed the fault intentionally.