Govt reinstates corrupt officer within 3 months

Hyderabad: One of the big fishes trapped by the sleuths of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) last year is back in business. K Harshavardhan, arrested by the ACB and suspended by the State Government, has been reinstated within just three months.

Harshavardhan, who was then working as Urban Land Ceiling Special Officer, was trapped by the ACB just a day before conferment of IAS on him on November 12 last year.

The government issued orders on March 3 posting him as the assistant state commissioner in the office of the Director of Small Savings in Hyderabad in the existing vacancy.

Interestingly, Harsharvardhan joined the services in his previous cadre of Special Grade Deputy Collector on Feb 17 itself.

The ACB conducted simultaneous raids on his office and residences in Hyderabad, Guntur and Eluru, and unearthed assets worth more than Rs 8 crore that were disproportionate to the known sources of his income. He was arrested and produced before the Special Judge for ACB cases in Hyderabad.

Among the assets found by the ACB were one bungalow and five residential flats in Hyderabad, 32 acres of agricultural land at T Narsapuram in East Godavari district, three acres of land in Salem district of Tamil Nadu and one acre at Bommalaramaram in Ranga Reddy district. He also owns four house-sites in Hyderabad, gold ornaments weighing 80 tolas, household goods valued at Rs 9 lakh, a Hyundai car and a scooter apart from other properties stashed in bank lockers.

When contacted, ACB Additional Director Shika Goel who supervised the raids, told Express that the ACB was not aware of Harshavardhan’s reinstatement. However, she assured that the case against Harshavardhan was still under investigation.

“There is no hard and fast rule that the State Government should not reinstate an officer against whom an ACB case is pending.

However, we will take up the matter with the higher authorities for consideration as the accused has been produced in the court and the case is under investigation,’’ she said.

Cops acquire gadget to trace missing vehicles

Hyderabad: With cases of missing vehicles on the rise in the twin cities, the Hyderabad city traffic police have decided to take the help of technology to tackle the situation. They have acquired PDA, the latest gadget that will come handy in recovering missing vehicles.

Traffic police told Expresso that they are right now in the process of gathering data of missing vehicles throughout the State.

Once pooled, the data will be stored in the communication wing at the office of the Director General of Police and made available on the Programmable Device Application (PDA), to help traffic cops trace the stolen vehicles.

Traffic police can randomly enter the vehicle numbers on the PDA and the system automatically crosschecks the numbers with the database of missing vehicles.

If the number is that of a stolen vehicle, instantly an alert will pop up on the instrument.

“We will be able to immediately seize the vehicle. If it is a passing vehicle, we can inform the police posted in the next junction.

The department is planning to use the device extensively at the check-posts set up in various parts of the city,” a senior traffic police officer said.

It is learnt that currently over 10,000 cases of missing vehicles are pending in various police stations in Hyderabad.

The vehicle recovery rate has so far been low as the investigating authorities were solely dependent on suspects and habitual offenders for clues to trace the stolen vehicles.

“Once the database is ready, recovery of vehicles will be easier and faster. “Gathering details of stolen vehicles from all the 23 districts has been a slow and laborious task.

However, for the new system to work effectively the data from districts is essential since stolen vehicles are generally moved from one district to another,” the officer added.

As of now, the traffic police are using the PDA to recover pending e-challan arrears from motorists.

Meanwhile, traffic police have expressed their displeasure over buyers of used vehicles not registering the vehicles in their names. There are still many persons in the city who have not completed the registration formalities after selling their vehicles, they said. “If a vehicle is not registered in the buyer’s name after sale, the seller will be liable if the said vehicle gets involved in any offence,’’ Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) A Ravi Chandra said

Mideast sex searches BLOCKED

San Francisco:  The Open Net Initiative (ONI) on Friday said Microsoft’s search engine Bing is more prudish than government censors when it comes to sex-related online queries.

A January test of a Bing version tailored for users in Arab countries showed that it filtered Arabic and English words for sexually explicit content along with queries related to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender material.

” A more targeted approach, either country-based or preferably, defined by the user, is more generally consistent with minimizing the impact on freedom of speech ”

ONI study authors

Attempts to use filtered keywords prompted a message reading “Your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content,” according to ONI.

The message seemed at odds with the fact that while political censorship is widespread in the Middle East, not all countries there mandate filtering of sex, nudity, homosexuality and other such “social content,” reported ONI.

“A more targeted approach, either country-based or preferably, defined by the user, is more generally consistent with minimizing the impact on freedom of speech,” ONI study authors concluded.

“Microsoft has signaled its willingness to be at the forefront in protecting freedom of expression around the world. It is difficult to reconcile this position with Bing’s current filtering standards.”

The report noted that Bing didn’t impose search settings based on IP addresses indicating where computers are located, so users can get around filters by choosing versions of the engine crafted for other countries.

Pro-Telangana lawyers clash with TDP activists

Hyderabad: Tension prevailed here Saturday as lawyers supporting the demand for statehood to Telangana clashed with activists of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Some members of Telangana Lawyers Forum were injured in the clash which took place in the Indira Park area when lawyers tried to disrupt TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s speech demanding that he spell out his party’s stand on the Telangana issue.

The leader of opposition was addressing TDP, CPI and CPI-M workers at a joint demonstration against the hike in fuel prices.

Raising slogans of “Jai Telangana”, the lawyers disrupted Naidu’s speech, evoking a strong reaction from his supporters. Some lawyers sustained bleeding injuries when TDP workers assaulted them.

Police arrested the protesting lawyers. Naidu and other leaders were also taken into custody for staging the sit-in.

The alleged attack by TDP workers on lawyers triggered protests in other parts of Telangana. In Nizamabad district, lawyers and pro-Telangana activists attacked the TDP office. A similar incident was also reported from Mahabubnagar district.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao and Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) convenor M. Kodanda Ram condemned the attack on lawyers.

“TDP leaders in Telangana should now decide whether they want to be with the people of Telangana or Chandrababu Naidu,” said Kodanda Ram blaming Naidu for the attack on lawyers.

TDP leader from Telangana and former minister Kadiam Srihari apologised to lawyers for the attack but Naidu said there was no need for it as TDP workers did not resort to violence.

Without naming the TRS, the former chief minister regretted that a party was instigating lawyers and preventing other parties from voicing their opinion in a democratic manner.

Naidu, who hails from the Ralayalaseema region of the state, continued his silence on Telangana issue while his party leaders stand divided on regional lines.

Meanwhile, the issue of price rise rocked the Andhra Pradesh state assembly, which could not transact any business Saturday. Speaker Kirankumar Reddy had to adjourn the house for the day as opposition parties stalled the proceedings demanding an immediate debate on rising prices.

NOW Baba Ramdev in trouble: Drugs Seized from pharmacy

YOGA guru Baba Ramdev has landed in trouble for allegedly using derivatives of a protected plant in his Ayurvedic medicines.

A consignment of Baba Ramdev’s pharmacy was among those recently confiscated by the authorities for flouting rules.

“ Twenty- three consignments, worth crores of rupees, have been seized at different airports and seaports in the country during an international operation against illegal wildlife products, coordinated by Interpol,” wildlife department officials said.

The consignment of Divya Pharmacy was seized by the customs department last month at the Inland Container Depot, Tuglaqabad in Delhi. All the confiscated drugs contained derivatives of Kuth, a protected plant under the Wildlife Protection Act, they said.

The customs department has imposed a fine of Rs 8,000 on the pharmacy, official sources said. The department will now hand over all the 23 cases to the environment ministry for further legal action.

When contacted, Acharya Balkrishna of Divya Pharmacy said the trading of cultivated Kuth was permissible in India and the action initiated by the authorities was illegal.

The operation was carried out in 18 countries, including India, between February 1 and 28, and the authorities seized the contrabands which were outbound from India.

The operation was the first ever globally coordinated action against illegal wildlife trade.

Its primary goal was to combat the illegal trade in endangered wildlife, which is a threat to the plants’ biodiversity.

Justice Srikrishna ‘clarifies’ PC word on T

Hyderabad: Justice BN Srikrishna on Friday clarified that carving out a new State out of Andhra Pradesh will not be possible without addressing the broader issues involved and felt the Dec 9 statement of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had been misunderstood. ‘‘A few words here and a few words there in the statement were picked which resulted in trouble,’’ he said.

Speaking to mediapersons here, Justice Srikrishna reiterated that the committee of which he is the chairman was constituted to find a solution to the long-pending demand of separate Telangana and related issues. His colleague and committee member-secretary VK Duggal, who intervened, said the panel would come up with all possible options for resolving the current situation in the State apart from citing reasons for and against formation of a separate State.

On apprehensions of some stakeholders that the committee was being misled by presentation of erroneous data, Duggal replied that arrangements were being made to post all possible technical information on a website for public scrutiny.

Justice Srirkrishna also sought to dispel fears that his committee’s report would also meet with the same fate as that of other panels on Telangana. ‘‘There is no need to doubt the committee as each panel has a specific purpose. What made Lord Vishnu to come down to earth in 10 avatars, not nine? Every avatar has its own purpose,’’ he quipped.

The committee will start interacting with the various stakeholders in the State from early April.

While the Lake View Guest House will be used for discussions with smaller groups, the Jubilee Hall will serve the purpose in case of larger crowds. The Marri Channa Reddy Human Resources Development (MCRHRD) Institute will work as a back-up venue. The committee members decided against having a permanent office in Hyderabad as they felt such a base would put them under pressure and make it difficult to deliver the goods.

Earlier, Chief Minister K Rosaiah and Chief Secretary SV Prasad called on the committee members at the Lake View Guest House and briefed them on the arrangements for their visits to the State including staff, accommodation and data supply. The committee members visited Jubilee Hall and MCRHRD Institute before leaving for Delhi.

Pentagon shooter blamed US govt for 9/11 attacks

Washington, March 06: A man who shot two police officers at the Pentagon was motivated by the idea that the US government was behind the September 11 attacks.

US police officials say that John Patrick Bedell had acted alone and without links to terrorist networks.

New investigation shows that Bedell believed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York were demolished in a US government conspiracy.

In a Nov. 25, 2006, podcast called “Directions to Freedom, Part Two,” Bedell said the “seizure of the United States government by an international criminal conspiracy” was a “long-established reality.”

He criticized the military and intelligence services, which he said had become tools of an illegitimate regime.

“This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control,” he said.

Bedell, 36 years old, died late Thursday night from the wounds he suffered after opening fire at police officers guarding the Pentagon earlier that evening.

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Washington, March 06: A man who shot two police officers at the Pentagon was motivated by the idea that the US government was behind the September 11 attacks.

US police officials say that John Patrick Bedell had acted alone and without links to terrorist networks.

New investigation shows that Bedell believed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York were demolished in a US government conspiracy.

In a Nov. 25, 2006, podcast called “Directions to Freedom, Part Two,” Bedell said the “seizure of the United States government by an international criminal conspiracy” was a “long-established reality.”

He criticized the military and intelligence services, which he said had become tools of an illegitimate regime.

“This organization, like so many murderous governments throughout history, would see the sacrifice of thousands of its citizens, in an event such as the September 11 attacks, as a small cost in order to perpetuate its barbaric control,” he said.

Bedell, 36 years old, died late Thursday night from the wounds he suffered after opening fire at police officers guarding the Pentagon earlier that evening.