The Goa police on Thursday pressed charges of rape against the accused in the murder of 28-year-old Irish woman Danielle McLaughlin in Canacona in south Goa. A post-mortem conducted at the State-owned Goa Medical College Hospital near here confirmed that the victim was raped.A brutal murderUmesh Gaonkar, Superintendent of Police incharge of the Crime Branch, told The Hindu on Thursday evening that the post-mortem report had confirmed cranio cerebral damage and constriction of neck as the reasons for death. “Rape was also confirmed,” Mr. Gaonkar said.Vikat Bhagat, a local history-sheeter and prime suspect in the case, was arrested by Goa police on Tuesday night. Bhagat has been remanded in police custody for seven days till March 21.The naked body of McLaughlin was found in a field around 150 metres from the main road at Devbag in Canacona on Tuesday morning.
The National Commission for Women on Monday wrote to Uttar Pradesh Director-General of Police O.P. Singh seeking a ‘free, fair and speedy’ investigation into the alleged road accident involving Unnao rape survivor.“The commission is seriously concerned about the unfortunate incident. Considering the gravity of the matter, it is required to ensure absolutely free, fair and speedy investigation into the matter and take action deemed appropriate for the crime committed. The commission also demands that it be kept apprised at every stage of the investigation,” NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote in her letter.Delay in casesSenior Supreme Court lawyer and women’s rights activist Vrinda Grover says it is the delay in disposing cases that render victims extremely vulnerable.“Where a perpetrator is powerful and victim is from a vulnerable group, it is apparent that that the law is not going to take its own course and the police are not going to act in accordance with the law. So, extraordinary measures will have to be taken to ensure the girl gets justice. I have always maintained that the best form of victim protection is a speedy trial. The chargesheet in the case was filed last July, but the case has not been adjudicated yet, while the survivor’s uncle has been framed in several cases which are moving by leaps and bounds. This is a classic textbook case of what happens when a victim comes from a very vulnerable group and seeks justice.”She added that if there was any political will to ensure reversal in crimes against women and girls, that the party ruling at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh so often talks about, the accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar would have been suspended.White PaperMs. Grover says that the government must issue a White Paper providing details of what stage the case was at, why was there a delay in disposing it of, who got adjournments, what reports were sent by the court concerned to the district judge and what was the supervision being done by the High Court of such cases.According to the last NCRB report for 2016, 89.8% cases of crimes against women brought before courts remained pending.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic returned brilliantly and swatted winners from all angles to beat defending champion Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1 on Monday night and earn his first U.S. Open title and third Grand Slam trophy of 2011.Djokovic improved to 64 wins from 66 matches with 10 tournament titles in a simply spectacular year, one of the greatest in the history of men’s tennis – or any sport, for that matter.”I’ve had an amazing year,” Djokovic said, “and it keeps going.”Against No. 2 Nadal, Djokovic is 6-0, all in finals – three on hard courts, including Monday; two on clay; and one on grass at Wimbledon in July. Djokovic also won the Australian Open in January, and is only the sixth man in the 40-plus years of the Open era to collect three major titles in a single season.”Obviously I’m disappointed, but you know what, this guy is doing is unbelievable,” Nadal said.Addressing Djokovic, Nadal added: “What you did this year is impossible to repeat, so well done.”The best win-loss record in the modern era was John McEnroe’s 82-3 in 1984, although that included two Grand Slam titles, because he lost in the French Open final and didn’t enter the Australian Open. Roger Federer was 81-4 in 2005 with two majors, exiting twice in the semifinals. Rod Laver (twice) and Don Budge are the only men to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in a year.Djokovic attributes his rise this season to a number of factors, including a vastly improved serve, better fitness – owing, at least in part, to a gluten-free diet he doesn’t like to discuss in any detail – and a seemingly endless reservoir of confidence that dates to December, when he led Serbia to its first Davis Cup title.advertisementThat’s where Djokovic began a 43-match winning streak that ended with a semifinal loss to Federer in the French Open semifinals. The only other blemish on Djokovic’s 2011 record was a loss to Andy Murray in the Cincinnati Masters final last month; Djokovic stopped playing while trailing, citing a painful shoulder.That was the 24-year-old Serb’s last match before heading to Flushing Meadows. His shoulder was fine, clearly, and while he was treated by a trainer for a bad back three times in the late going Monday – perhaps the reason his serves slowed to the 90s mph (140s kph) in the fourth set – he overcame it.With both men playing fantastic, court-covering defense, there were more than two dozen points that lasted at least 15 strokes.Nadal won three major titles in 2010, including beating Djokovic in the U.S. Open final. But this rematch was more of a mismatch, with Djokovic quickly turning things around after falling behind 2-0 in each of the first two sets.Only in the third set did Djokovic really falter for a few moments, getting broken while serving for the match at 6-5, then being outplayed in the tiebreaker.But in the fourth set, Djokovic was in control from the start, breaking in the opening game with a forehand winner, then cruising from there.When Djokovic ended it with another forehand winner, he raised his arms, then tossed aside his racket and dropped to the court. He pulled off his shirt and threw it into the stands, then put on a dark hat with “FDNY” written on it – a nod to Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which both he and Nadal mentioned during the trophy ceremony.Of all of Djokovic’s skills, the one that separated him the most across the 4-hour, 10-minute final was his return. He repeatedly sent serves back over the net and at Nadal’s feet, forcing errors or taking control of the point, helping Djokovic accumulate an astounding 26 break points and convert 11.Consider this: When Nadal completed his career Grand Slam by winning last year’s U.S. Open, he was broken a total of five times in seven matches.Another telling statistic: Four times Monday, Nadal broke Djokovic – only to have Djokovic break right back in the next game.That’s exactly what happened in the third game of the second set, which lasted 17 minutes and featured a bit of everything: 22 points; eight deuces; six break points; a time violation warning against Nadal (Djokovic was admonished later in the set); complaints by both men that the glare from the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights was bothersome; seven exchanges that lasted at least 10 strokes.After a 28-shot point, Djokovic leaned over and put his hands on his knees, his chest heaving. Nadal was the one who faltered, though. He double-faulted to set up break point No. 6, then – on a great defensive lob by Djokovic – put an overhead into the net.advertisementThe final – delayed a day to Monday by rain for the fourth consecutive U.S. Open – was marked by spectators calling out during points or as the players were in their service motions, and while that’s perhaps to be expected in New York (as opposed to, say, the staid All England Club), Djokovic and Nadal were bothered by it, and the chair umpire repeatedly chastised the unruly crowd.Once he adjusted to the conditions, Djokovic disguised shots well, rearing back and ripping big shots off both wings – often right near lines, if not right on them. He wound up with 55 winners – 23 more than Nadal – and all in all, put on a masterful display of as diverse a game as one can have. He excelled at everything – serving, returning, volleying, groundstrokes and the sort of constant movement and retrieving with which Nadal usually frustrates opponents.At 25 years old, Nadal owns 10 Grand Slam titles.He has acknowledged, though, that Djokovic holds a psychological advantage. Late in Monday’s first set, Djokovic hit two drop shots that the normally relentless and indefatigable Nadal didn’t even bother to chase.
ezekiel elliott releases apologetic statementFollowing Ohio State’s last-second loss to Michigan State this past Saturday, running back Ezekiel Elliott spoke out against his coaching staff’s play-calling during the contest, suggesting that he didn’t get the ball enough. Since, he’s been dealing with a great deal of criticism. Monday afternoon, he released an apologetic statement on the matter.Just minutes after head coach Urban Meyer told reporters that Elliott will not be suspended for the transgression, Elliott tweeted a heartfelt statement about his actions. He told fans that he got “caught up in the emotions” of the loss. He also said the team will be ready for Michigan this Saturday.pic.twitter.com/n2UYS4dCHO— EzekielElliott#⃣1⃣5⃣ (@EzekielElliott) November 23, 2015Ohio State has a chance to silence doubters this week against Michigan. The Game kicks off at 12:00 PM.
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Head coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs looks on during the third quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)You don’t earn four letters as a defensive back in the SEC if you’re not a good athlete, and even though Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is now 40 years old, he apparently still has some of the athleticism that he used as a safety for the Bulldogs in the late 1990’s. During a recent visit to Camp Sunshine, Smart, along with UGA star Nick Chubb and a host of other players, participated in a game of dodgeball with campers. Things got pretty intense, and Kirby seemed to be having the time of his life.The full, awesome video is available below, courtesy of UGASports.com. Kirby Smart, Nick Chubb and the Georgia players visit Camp Sunshine from UGASports.com on Vimeo.
Advertisement Login/Register With: Director Brian De Palma, a regular at Toronto International Film Festival, photographed here in 2007 (CARLOS OSORIO / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO) Advertisement Advertisement Is Brian De Palma really going to make a Harvey Weinstein-inspired horror movie and set it at the Toronto International Film Festival? If so, it could help serve as a reminder of the need to fight sexual harassment and to empower women, says TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey.“It reminds us of just the real importance and the urgency of making a change in the film industry when it comes to gender parity,” Bailey told the Star.Online reports this week, drawing from interviews De Palma is doing while on a European book tour, say the writer/director plans to make a horror film called Predator in Toronto based on the alleged sex crimes of disgraced producer Weinstein. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Twitter
GOSHEN, Calif. – Unions have caught a whiff of a rare opportunity to organize a whole new set of workers as recreational marijuana becomes legal in California.The United Farm Workers, Teamsters and United Food and Commercial Workers are looking to unionize the tens of thousands of potential workers involved in the legal weed game, from planters to rollers to sellers. The move could provide a boost to organized labour’s lagging membership — if infighting doesn’t get in the way.The United Farm Workers, co-founded by iconic labour leader Cesar Chavez, says organizing an industry rooted in agriculture is a natural fit, and growers could label their products with the union’s logo as a marketing strategy.“If you’re a cannabis worker, the UFW wants to talk with you,” national vice-president Armando Elenes said.But United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents grocery store employees, meat packers and retail workers, registered its intent to organize cannabis workers across the country.“We would hope they respect our jurisdiction,” UFCW spokesman Jeff Ferro said.Teamsters organizer Kristin Heidelbach said there’s no need for unions to battle each other. There will be plenty of workers needing representation as small cannabis businesses run by “happy stoner” types give way to large pharmaceutical corporations, she said.The green rush that begins in 2018 is an opportunity for unions to regain influence that began declining in the late 1950s, said David Zonderman, a professor of labour history at North Carolina State University. But discord between unions could upend it. As could resistance from cannabis business leaders.“Are they going to be new-age and cool with it,” Zonderman said, “or like other businesspeople, say, ‘Heck, no. We’re going to fight them tooth and nail?’”Last year, California voters approved sales of recreational marijuana to those 21 and older at licensed shops beginning Jan. 1.Cannabis in California already is a $22 billion industry, including medical marijuana and a black market that accounts for most of that total, according to University of California, Davis, agriculture economist Philip Martin. Medical marijuana has been legal since 1996, when California was the first state to approve such a law.Labour leaders estimate recreational pot in California could employ at least 100,000 workers from the north coast to the Sierra Nevada foothills and the San Joaquin Valley, harvesting and trimming the plants, extracting ingredients to put in liquids and edibles, and driving it to stores and front doors.Other pot workers have organized in other states, but California should be especially friendly territory for unions, said Jamie Schau, a senior analyst with Brightfield Group, which does marketing analysis on the marijuana industry.The state has one of the nation’s highest minimum wages and the largest number of unionized workers across industries. Its laws also tend to favour employees.At least some workers say they’re open to unions.“I’m always down to listen to what could be a good deal for me and my family,” said Thomas Grier, 44, standing behind the counter at Canna Can Help Inc., a dispensary in the Central Valley community of Goshen.The dispensary — with $7 million in yearly sales — sells medical marijuana.Called a “bud tender,” Grier recently waited on a steady flow of regular customers walking through the door to pick out their favourite strain.He said so far, no unions have contacted him. Grier gets along with his boss and said he doesn’t want to pay union dues for help ironing out workplace disputes. But he hasn’t discounted the possibility of joining.After recently entering the marijuana industry, Los Angeles resident Richard Rodriguez said one sticky traffic stop three months ago converted him into a “hard core” Teamster. He’d never been in a union until this year.Rodriguez said an officer pulled him over delivering a legal shipment of pot and detained him for 12 hours as he was accused of following too closely behind a semi-truck.A union lawyer stepped in, and Rodriguez said he was released without being arrested or given a ticket.“Most companies can’t or are unwilling to do that,” he said, “because employees are easily replaced.”
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says he abandoned a proposed meeting with Donald Trump in Washington this week after the White House insisted that the prime minister first agree to a five-year “sunset clause” in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.Trudeau told the anecdote Thursday during a media briefing where he and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland were outlining the Canadian response to punishing U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.With the NAFTA talks seeming close to a possible breakthrough, Trudeau says he suggested to the U.S. president last Friday that they sit down with Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto and talk about reaching a deal.“I stated that I thought we were quite close to reaching an agreement, and perhaps the time had come for me to sit down with the president in Washington in order to finalize the NAFTA agreement,” Trudeau said in French.“We already had the bones of a very good agreement for all parties, and I thought it might be opportune for all of us to sit down for a few hours and discuss it.”Trump seemed to like the idea, Trudeau said.Then on Tuesday, Vice-President Mike Pence called to say the White House would host the meeting — but on one condition.“I had to agree to a sunset clause in NAFTA, which is to say every five years, NAFTA would come to an end unless the parties decided to renew it, which is completely unacceptable to us,” he said.“So I answered that, unfortunately, if that was a precondition to our visit, I was unable to accept — and so we did not go to Washington for that day of negotiations.”Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that the decision to slap Canada and Mexico with stiff steel and aluminum tariffs was based on a lack of progress in the NAFTA talks.“Those talks are taking longer than we had hoped. There is no longer a very precise date when they may be concluded” so they were added to the tariff list, he said.Neither the tariffs nor a series of retaliatory measures imposed by the federal Liberal government in response will affect the ability to keep renegotiating NAFTA as a separate track, Ross added. “They’re not mutually exclusive behaviours.”Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and a former Mulroney cabinet minister at the time of the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal, expressed surprise at the sunset-clause tactic.“That is not the basis on which mature adults negotiate,” Beatty said.“For someone who prides himself as a negotiator, anybody who does business on the basis of, ‘One side can only win if the other side loses’ usually isn’t in business for very long.”
VICTORIA – British Columbia’s auditor general found no evidence of bid-rigging in an audit of government asset sales, but Carol Bellringer says changes are needed after the province sold off prime land for millions under assessed value.Bellringer’s report, released Tuesday, looks at 14 of the 101 sales, representing 75 per cent of the proceeds. It says with the exception of the Burke Mountain lands in Coquitlam, the government obtained 97 per cent of the appraised value.The former Liberal government was heavily criticized in 2015 for selling off the valuable lands in Metro Vancouver to a party donor at a greatly reduced price. The then-Opposition NDP said the government had been “hosed” when it sold the land for $43-million less than the appraised price.Bellringer said her office was aware of the controversy as it undertook the report.“We did not find any evidence of bid rigging, collusion or bias during the audit. We did point out bias in relation to the some of the sales was perceived and it was raised in the legislature and reported in media.”There were 21 parcels of land put up for sale involving about 240 hectares on Burke Mountain. The appraised value was almost $146 million.Fourteen of the parcels were sold to Wesbild Holdings Ltd. for $85 million, 44 per cent below the appraised value. Four parcels were sold to the City of Coquitlam at 80 per cent of the appraised value and three weren’t sold.Bellringer said the problem was the government took in bids both for individual parcels and as a package.“They couldn’t compare one bid to the other,” she said in a conference call with reporters. “So you’re comparing apples and oranges. What we’re saying is it should have had the breakdown in the bidding received from those interested in purchasing the land.”The former Liberal government launched the plan to sell off the assets in 2012, saying it would generate revenue, economic activity and cost savings.However, Bellringer’s report says the Ministry of Citizens’ Service that was in charge of the sale only focused on the revenue target, with a goal of balancing its budgets from 2013 to 2015.The asset sales surpassed the revenue target with a profit of $435 million, the report says.Bellringer’s report makes seven recommendations, including that the government assess the costs and benefits of selling versus holding surplus assets and that it report to the public about how selling off an asset is in the best interest.Citizens’ Services Minister Jinny Sims said in an interview that many of the report’s recommendations have already been implemented by the NDP government.Sims said the government has ended the program and there are now systems in place to ensure taxpayers will get the best value for Crown properties.“It is an abject failure of the minister of the day and the government of the day,” she said.Sims said if she had a house on the market for $800,000 and someone offered her $600,000, she wouldn’t have accepted it.“It seems to be those kinds of decision were made, because the focus was on collecting money.”The government has built in a number of fail-safe methods to determine if the Crown property can be sold, including asking what the land could be used for in the future and analyzing if the cost of maintenance makes it prohibitive to continue to own, Sims said.Opposition Liberal finance co-critic Tracy Redies said in a statement that ultimately, the market value for those properties is determined by what someone is willing to pay for them.“Selling surplus real estate helps spur economic activity and create jobs for the province and its communities. The proceeds from those sales also helped to fund the important health and education services that British Columbians rely on,” she said.— By Terri Theodore in Vancouver.
WASHINGTON – Fighting to defend its $81 billion takeover of Time Warner from a government challenge, AT&T is arguing the Trump Justice Department has failed to show that the merger will raise prices for pay-TV programming and for the consumers who watch it.The AT&T-Time Warner marriage was completed this spring soon after a federal judge approved it. But government antitrust regulators filed to have the judge’s ruling overturned, setting the stage for a landmark competition case in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.In a filing Thursday, the phone and pay-TV giant asserted the merger will save it money on content from Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, enabling it to cut charges to its DirecTV customers by at least $78 million a year.U.S. District Judge Richard Leon was correct to dismiss the government’s argument that the merger would hurt competition, limit choices and jack up prices for consumers to stream TV and movies, Dallas-based AT&T, the biggest pay-TV provider in the U.S., said in its filing.The government “failed for multiple reasons to (show) that net retail prices will likely be higher than otherwise,” the company said.Leon’s ruling in June opened the way for one of the biggest media deals ever. AT&T has since absorbed Time Warner, the owner of CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. movie studio, “Game of Thrones,” coveted sports programming and other “must-see” shows.The Justice Department, however, has maintained that Leon was wrong in concluding the merger won’t harm consumers and that he misunderstood the complexities of the booming pay-TV market and the nature of AT&T’s competitors.If the government were to prevail in its appeal, the complex merger might have to be unwound.Many legal experts believe the government will have a hard time convincing the appeals court to overturn Leon’s ruling. Opposing the merger forced the federal antitrust regulators to argue against standing legal doctrine that favours mergers among companies that don’t compete directly with each other, what’s known as a vertical merger.The U.S. antitrust lawsuit against AT&T was the first time in decades that the government has challenged that doctrine by suing to block a vertical merger.The government contends that this deal is different. By combining the programming content of Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting with AT&T’s vast distribution network for its DirecTV, the combination will hurt competition and violate federal law, it says. AT&T claims about 25 million of the 90 million or so U.S. households that are pay-TV customers.Even with a small chance of the government winning, the stakes are high and the case could affect the future course of antitrust regulation.When the deal was first made public in October 2016, it drew fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Trump has publicly feuded with Time Warner’s CNN, calling it “failing” and a purveyor of “fake news.” The president’s statements didn’t come up during the trial, though his antipathy loomed in the background.Leon’s ruling opened the floodgates to deal making in the fast-changing worlds of entertainment production and distribution.Just a day after his decision, Comcast launched a $65 billion cash bid for the bulk of 21st Century Fox — topping Disney’s all-stock $52.5 billion offer in December. Comcast later dropped that bid in order to focus on its attempted buyout of European pay-TV operator Sky.After months of offers and counteroffers for Sky by Comcast and Fox, the two U.S. media empires will settle their battle for control of the European broadcaster through a rare auction. The auction will begin after the London stock market’s close on Friday and end sometime Saturday evening.Disney, meanwhile, is closing in on a $71 billion acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets.Other rumoured or potential deals include a Verizon bid for CBS and a tie-up of Sprint and T-Mobile.
The finance minister’s very public display, which comes the day before the company’s annual meeting in Calgary, is likely to put additional pressure on the company.Amid mounting opposition from the B.C. government, environmental groups and protesters, not to mention skittish investors, Kinder Morgan halted all non-essential spending on its $7.4-billion plan to double an existing pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., and gave Ottawa until the end of May to broker some calm.Earlier Tuesday, before Morneau’s news conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. ET, was announced, Trudeau was in Calgary, trying to convince skeptical Albertans to believe his latest mantra: that the pipeline will be built.“Let’s be honest about these things. I don’t think there is anything that I can say that would reassure some of my critics who have such little faith in my government getting anything done for Alberta,” he said.“I don’t think there’s any magic phrase I can say that will have critics and skeptics put down their criticism and say, ‘You know what? The prime minister reassured me today.”’As Trudeau spoke, a small group of protesters were heard shouting, “Build KM” and “Build that pipe.” OTTAWA, O.N. – Finance Minister Bill Morneau will provide an update Wednesday on the status of his talks with Kinder Morgan to expedite the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but he is not expected to announce a deal.Rather, Morneau is expected to articulate the broad strokes of how Ottawa sees a deal coming together, setting forth the federal Liberal government’s principles, values and goals that could form the basis of an eventual agreement.Morneau had been engaged in intensive talks with Kinder Morgan officials up until Tuesday, but the two sides have yet to declare any common ground on the amount of federal money involved. Horgan’s election last year changed that. His minority government exists at the pleasure of the Green party, and on condition of his continued opposition to the project.(THE CANADIAN PRESS) Morneau’s talks with Kinder Morgan had their genesis a month ago, when Trudeau promised to deploy both financial and legislative tools to ensure the disputed expansion is able to proceed.During a remarkable eight-hour stopover in the national capital, an unscheduled break from a busy overseas travel itinerary, Trudeau convened a summit in Ottawa with B.C.’s John Horgan, who has staked his government’s survival on opposing the pipeline, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, whose province’s economic health depends on it.Trudeau instructed Morneau to sit down with Kinder Morgan to find a financial solution that would soothe their investors. He also promised legislation that would reaffirm Ottawa’s authority to press ahead with a development deemed to be in Canada’s national interest.The Liberal government position is that it approved the project in 2016 after a rejigged environmental assessment and Indigenous consultation process, and in concert with its climate change and oceans protection plan. Approval came in consultation with the previous B.C. Liberal government, which gave its consent to the project after its own conditions were met.
If I remember correctly, it was Thursday, March 25, 1971. My M.A (History) final exam was round the corner. We in India then had the audible, omnipresent, omniscient and ubiquitous “All India Radio” but no electronic visuals. Hence hearing the evening radio “news” and reading morning newspaper was my childhood “addiction”, exam or no exam. My father – an extraordinary scholar of income tax law, English, Bengali & Sanskrit languages, with expertise in Mathematics, Astrology and Economics, and a senior civil servant of the government of India, was born in, and hailed from, 2 Toynbee Circular Road, Tikatuli, Dhaka (then India, in 1917) and was not the type to disturb his son for radio “news” in the exam season. That day, I too, seem to have something else in mind for emperor Ashoka and Buddhism as a possible question for my paper. Also Read – A special kind of bondNevertheless, there suddenly came a stentorian voice from our C-II 17 Wellesley Road, New Delhi-110003 “radio room”. “Come immediately” was the two-word command. Usually serene, serious yet ever-smiling, he suddenly lit upon hearing the All India Radio news that the charismatic Bengali leader, widely respected and revered as “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman” had given a clarion call to the people of (then) East Pakistan, firing the first salvo at the West Pakistani Punjabi-speaking military junta, from Dhaka’s Ramna Maidan: “Aamago share shaat koti zanagan re tomra dabayya raakhte parbaanaa” (You oppressive rulers, you will never be able to suppress us seven and half crore Bangali people). We instantly felt the electrifying effect and potential tremor, almost after 24 years of the Partition days, in the “radio room” of the Hindu Bengali refugee in Lutyen’s zone of New Delhi. Also Read – Insider threat managementThereafter, things moved at high speed. Owing to his professionalism, probity and spotless past, my father was one of the two Bengali speaking senior civil servants whose residence was identified by the Government of India as an “informal meeting point”, should the need arise in future. My M.A exam ended on Saturday, May 15, 1971, and results were out on Monday, July 05, 1971. I was happy with my result, but was happier owing to the fast unfolding scenario of possible emancipation of an enlightened and inherently simple Bengali-speaking people in a geography which is so dear to our heart, mind and thought owing to shared history, culture, language and tradition. Soon, however, came Wednesday, August 18, 1971, the ‘appointed date’ of an “informal meeting”, closely coordinated by Shri Ashok Ray, then Joint Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs, and other organisations of the state. Commencing at 5:30 pm. and ending around midnight, it was a gala party; a reunion of sorts, high on emotions, love, tears of joy, passion, fraternity, feasting. A gathering of 150 people of whom at least 80 were from the land of Bangabandhu, including the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh Tajuddin Ahmed. The best (and most surprising) part of the gathering emerged from the fact that despite Ahmad being eight years younger to my father, they knew each other very well. It was an incredibly sensational scene. Also, half of the guests had escaped, God only knew how from the army junta’s clutches; and at least two families had driven down in their “Made in Japan” Nissan and Toyota cars which were a rare commodity in India of 1971. Some of us were mighty impressed. As we were then used to Ambassador of Calcutta; Fiat of Bombay; Standard Herald of Madras; watch of HMT; steel of Tata; and shoes from Bata. All “Made in India”. Indigenous. Not imported. The outcome of the meeting was essentially a commitment to do everything necessary. The government and the people of India were one with the Bengalis under Bangabandhu. All present in the meeting had the same goal, in different ways, irrespective of their nationality and ethnicity. I vividly recall the spontaneous, repeated and vociferous slogan “Joy Bangla”, reverberating through the hot, humid night of that 1971 “August day”. Two more meetings subsequently took place in two different places in Delhi, which I could not attend owing to my preparation for competitive examinations. As things were heating up, I travelled to spend the winter with my maternal aunts in Asansol and Calcutta. My stay in Asansol lasted five days as war broke out on Friday, December 03, 1971. I took a train the next day, December 4, for Calcutta. The three-hour journey was an experience by itself as the train moved with all “lights off” in the “chair car”. Howrah station was pitch dark but packed with passengers, police, and personnel of railways. Home guards were extra vigilant, navigating all and sundry, and the half an hour road to Alipore residence of aunt turned out like a two-hour air journey from Delhi to Kolkata, as I reached at 11 pm. The following day dawned with my frantic attempt to catch up with Major General Bishwa Nath Sirkar (whom I had known before) in Fort William, Headquarters of the Eastern Army Command. Major General Sirkar, a Second World War veteran, saw action on several fronts, was an armoured corps officer par excellence (belonging to Central India Horse). Being strict disciplinarian, with frugal habits and exemplary probity, he never sought publicity and was never flashy. The Major General was handpicked overnight (rather plucked) by Army Chief Sam Manekshaw and transferred from the post of Military Secretary (in Army Headquarters, New Delhi) to a newly created post in the Eastern Command Calcutta, exclusively for cooperation with the Mukti Bahini. Consequently, whereas world today knows who did what in 1971, hardly anyone can either remember or recall his invaluable contribution in the liberation movement of Bengalis in the east and role played in actual combat of the 14-day war. After the 1971 war, Sirkar became Lieutenant General but resigned after a serious difference of opinion with then Defence Minister of India. He had several years of service left at the time of his premature departure. I remain eternally grateful to that great soldier and noble soul for helping me to “see the front” for two days after Sunday, December 12, 1971, when the writings were already on the wall. After a resounding firing to deter me from “seeing is believing”, the gentleman in the General relented and “put me on” to II Corps operating from Krishnanagar. The rest, as they say, is history. At the age of 23 years, I had a remarkable, unforgettable side view of the moving procession of history, resulting in the crumbling of old (dis)order and the birth of a new nation, not in the distant horizon but in our vicinity. Between 1947 and 1971 came alive two nations: the first under bondage, second as an uncaged bird with the unrestricted horizon of thought and action as its domain. (The writer is an alumnus of National Defence College and author of ‘China in India’. The views expressed are strictly personal)
Caracas: Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced 30 days of electricity rationing Sunday, after his government said it was shortening the working day and keeping schools closed due to blackouts. Angry Venezuelans meanwhile took to the streets of Caracas to protest the power cuts and water shortages. The measures are a stark admission by the government — which blamed repeated power outages in March on sabotage — that there is not enough electricity to go around, and that the power crisis is here to stay. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe blackouts have worsened already dire economic and living conditions in the country, which sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Power failures come alongside a political showdown between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognised as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries. Speaking on state television, Maduro said he had approved “a 30-day plan” to ration power. He did not detail how it would work but said there would be “an emphasis on guaranteeing water service”. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsMaduro also acknowledged that many Venezuelans could not watch his broadcast because they had no electricity. Crippled infrastructure, little investment in the power grid and poor maintenance have all contributed to electricity problems. A “brain drain” of qualified personnel has also hit the industry, with about 25,000 people in the electricity sector among the 2.7 million Venezuelans who have emigrated since 2015. Add to that the country’s deep economic crisis, which includes a soaring inflation rate. Earlier on Sunday, authorities announced other measures as a result of the electricity shortage. “To achieve consistency in the provision of electricity, the Bolivarian government decided to maintain the suspension of school activities and establish a workday until 2:00 pm in public and private institutions,” Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on state television. With no electricity, pumping stations can’t work, so water service is limited. Street lights and traffic lights go dark, pumps at fuel stations stand idle, and cell phone and internet service is non-existent. Children don’t have “a drop of water” to drink, complained Maria Rodriguez, a Caracas resident.
San Francisco: In a bid to take on Amazon Alexa or Google Home, Facebook is working on a voice-based assistant for its Portal video chat service and other future projects. According to a report in CNBC on Wednesday, the social network is “unclear how exactly Facebook envisions people using the assistant”. Facebook’s AI-enabled Portal video chat service currently uses Amazon’s Alexa. “We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year Facebook last year shut down a chat-based assistant called “M” in its messaging app. According to the report, Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs, is working on the voice-assistant project. Facebook Portal and Portal+ video chat speakers come with Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology. Portal offers hands-free voice control. You can start a video call simply by saying ‘Hey Portal’ and noting who you’d like to call.
Kolkata: A person was killed and several others injured in a number of accidents in the city on Friday night till Saturday morning. A fatal accident was reported from second Hooghly Bridge under Hastings police station at around 12.03 am when the driver of a heavy goods vehicles died after his vehicle collided head-on with a container-laden trailer. The deceased, identified as Tribeni Yadav, was a resident of New Alipore. The driver of the trailer, Kamaleshwar Roy, sustained minor injuries and has been admitted to SSKM. Both the vehicles have been seized. In another accident at Hudco Crossing near Ultadanga, four persons including a driver were injured when an auto-rickshaw overturned at around 6.15 am on Saturday morning. The passengers and the driver were provided medical assistance at Maniktala ESI Hospital and later released. In another accident at Sarat Bose Road, a motorcyclist, identified as Jainal Abedin, was injured on being dashed by a private bus. The police are examining if the biker was wearing a helmet.