Eight dead as bus falls into Kerala river, toll likely to go up

At least eight persons, including two women, drowned and more are feared trapped as a private bus with around 40 passengers fell into a river near Kottayam on Tuesday.

Rescuers from the Meenachil River at Thazhathangadi have fished out eight bodies while efforts were on to lift the bus from the water, police said.

Naval divers from Kochi have joined the rescue operations.

At least 19 persons, who either swam to safety or were rescued, are under treatment in various hospitals. Their condition was stated to be out of danger, police said.

The exact toll would be known only when the bus, portion of which got stuck in the muddy riverbed, is lifted out.

The bus coming to Kottayam from Cherthala first hit an electric post and plunged head on into the deep river.

Four of the deceased had been identified; hospital sources said adding the conductor of the bus was among the dead.

Rajan, a survivor, said the vehicle was travelling at normal speed along the narrow road. It hit the electric post, went out of control and fell into the river.

“I cannot say how I escaped, except that it was due to grace of God,” said Rajan, who managed to come out through the backdoor as he was sitting in the rear seat.

He put the number of passengers in the bus at the time of the mishap at 35 to 40.

Kerala Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said entire official machinery had been geared up for rescue work. Ministers of Transport, Health and Public Works rushed to the spot on hearing the news.


Founder of India’s Maoist rebellion commits suicide: police

A founder member of the radical Maoist insurgency that has plagued large parts of India for 40 years committed suicide on Tuesday in the village where the movement was formed, police said.

Kanu Sanyal, 78, was found hanging in his hut in Naxalbari, 600 kilometres (370 miles) from Kolkata, in the eastern state of West Bengal.

“He committed suicide by hanging himself and we are investigating the case,” senior police officer Surojit Kar Purokaysatha told AFP.

Sanyal and Charu Majumdar established the extreme left-wing peasant uprising in 1967 in Naxalbari — giving Indian Maoist rebels their name “Naxalites”.

The insurgency is now active in 20 out of 28 states with strongholds in a so-called “Red Corridor” stretching across north and eastern India.

India’s government, which sees the Maoist rebels as its biggest internal security threat, has launched offensives against them in recent months but has failed to curb their operations.

At least 900 people died in Maoist attacks in 2009, the highest figure since 1971.

The Maoists have used administrative power vacuums and under-development to establish control over large tracts of land across state boundaries.

In February, the government gave a cautious response to a rebel offer of peace talks, saying the insurgents must first stop their attacks and make a formal proposal.

Produce Nithyananda case documents: HC to police

Bangalore: In a response to the plea filed by scandal-tainted Swami Nithyananda, seeking quashing of the police cases against him, the Karnataka High Court ordered the state police to produce all documents related to the cases

The judge, Arali Nagaraj, also posted the matter for further hearing to Mar 25.

Ramanagaram district police has slapped several charges on the godman after a sex tape showing Nithyananda in compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha hit the media on Mar 2, leading to widespread protests and outrage among the followers.

Seeking squashing of all the charges he faces, Swami Nithyananda submitted a writ petition in the High Court contending that he was innocent and that the whole controversy was a conspiracy tailored by his driver Kurup Lenin done to defame him and his ashram.

OneIndia News

Poacher killed in gunfight in Assam park

A poacher was killed in a gunfight with forest guards in Orang National Park, famed for tigers and elephants, in Assam’s Darrang district.

Three poachers had entered the park and exchanged fire with a patrolling team of forest guards at Jaroni camp area Sunday night, police said on Monday.

Two of the poachers escaped, while the body of the third was recovered on Monday, along with three rounds of live ammunition and as many empty cartridges, an axe and three carry bags, they said.

The poachers had entered the southern end of the park with the intention of killing animals but were prevented from doing so by the forest guards, officials said.

Kolkata: Negligent nurse cuts off infant’s finger

Kolkata: Similar to the ban on using mobiles while driving, the government may have to formulate a ban on the usage of cellphones by medical staff while treating patients as it has been reported that a nurse allegedly severed an infant’s finger while she was busy on the phone

The infant, who is barely one month old, lost her finger to medical negligence at Institute of Child Health on Friday, Mar 19.

The nurse “unwittingly applied the scissors on the little finger of the baby’s right hand while removing the plaster on the channel areas meant for saline administration,” the institute told a news agency.

While the institute told the news agency that she did it ‘unwittingly’, the parents allege that the nurse ended up cutting the child’s finger as she was on her mobile phone.

The infant has lost majority of the finger in the incident.

The institute has suspended the nurse.

OneIndia News

18,622 police posts in Ahmedabad unmanned

Gandhinagar: Leader of opposition in the Gujarat assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil, on Thursday alleged that there is a deliberate move by the state government to keep the police force weak.

Reacting to the demands of the state home department, Gohil said that Gujarat should have a strong and efficient police system as it is a border state.

“It is unfortunate that millions are spent to make CM’s security impregnable while 5.5 crore people of Gujarat are left to fend for themselves. As of March 2009, 18,622 posts in police department were vacant,” he said.

He said no arrangements are made in the chowkies on the border. The Central government had allocated huge funds, but the state government delayed its annual plan and the money could not be utilised, he said.

“There is not even a single bullet available for INSAS rifle and there is shortage of 17 to 100 per cent in ammunition for different arms.” Gohil said, “The CM wishes that terrorists should come to Gujarat so that his vote bank becomes strong and he can promote his politics of terrorism. Akshardham was not provided security cover and so terrorists had struck. The murder of Haren Pandya did not move the government.

“Soon after the chief minister in his public speeches challenged terrorists to come, there were serial blasts in Ahmedabad. And this gave fresh lease of life to the chief minister’s politics of terrorism.” He reminded the government that terrorists had taken boat from Porbandar in Gujarat for striking in Mumbai.

However, rejecting Gohil’s claims, minister of state for home, Amit Shah, said: “Compared to the time of the Congress rule, the population has increased by 37% but the crime rate has gone down in the state.

The percentage of attempt to murder has gone down by 40%, incidence of loot has decreased by 26% and incidence of housebreak has gone down by 18%. According the data of National Crime Records Bureau, the crime rate is lowest in Gujarat in the whole country.”

Shah told the House that the process of recruiting 13,149 jawans in police was over and the recruitment of 14,000 jawans more was in process.


Fresh FIR filed against Swami Nithyananda

Bangalore: The Ramanagaram district police have formed a team of officers and personnel to trace tainted godman Swami Nithyananda Paramahamsa, who runs a dhyanapeetham at Bidadi

District superintendent of police SB Bisanahalli said that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against the swami at the Bidadi police station, based on the ones filed by the Chennai and Coimbatore police.

“The fresh FIR was filed after the FIRs registered by Tamil Nadu police were translated into Kannada. It was filed under sections 295 (a), 420, 376, 377, 506 (b) and 120 (b), based on a complaint filed by K Lenin of Athur in Salem district. In his complaint, Lenin had accused Nithyananda of misbehaving with women and forcing them into performing ‘indecent’ acts with him,” the officer said. The police team will be headed by deputy superintendent of police (Ramanagaram sub-division) Devaraj.

The district police officers said that they would be tracking the movements of the godman, who was yet to be traced. “We will despatch the team to various places where the swami is believed to be hiding,” an officer said.

Police said that they would question some of the ashram inmates in Bidadi to get more information, which could be used as evidence against the godman. “However, we still have not decided if we should arrest Nithyananda. We will let the law take its course once the swami is traced,” another officer said.

The police will have to record Lenin’s statements before proceeding ahead with the case. Besides filing a complaint that resulted in a case being booked against Nithyananda by the Chennai police, Lenin had also handed over a CD containing “raunchy” bedroom scenes of Nithyananda and a Tamil actress to the police commissioner of that city.

On Wednesday, there were speculations that the case may be handed over to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) because, as an officer put it, “the case had inter-state ramifications.”

Meanwhile, the swami kept mum as he had reportedly gone on a maun vrath.