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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mumbai University to train students to tackle terror

Mumbai: Universities in Maharashtra now plan to teach students how to deal with terrorism. The scheme is a brainchild of the state governor and university vice-chancellors are coming up with a plan of action.

At the behest of the Maharashtra governor, the vice chancellors of various universities in the state have formed a consortium to help formulate specific guidelines for such courses.

Maharashtra Governor SC Jamir said that he had asked state universities to come up with a proper plan to sensitise students against terrorism.

University vice chancellors have already held a brainstorming session about possible measures.

"Universities feel that such efforts on the campus would be helpful and would provide policy solutions to such situations," said Dr. Vijay Khole, the Vice Chancellor of Mumbai University.

The youth against terrorism programme will include:
  • Anti terrorism courses in universities
  • Students will also be taught self defence techniques
  • And the NSS & NCC will be adapted to become a parallel police force on campus
  • University curricula will also be modified to include subjects like criminal psychology
  • Also on the anvil is a homeland security institute in the state, which will draw on the expertise of retired police officials, fire officials & disaster management experts
Similar recommendations were made in Mumbai even after the train blasts in 2006, and the committee appointed to study them is yet to submit a report to the government, but students hope that this time there will be quicker action.

Some interesting reactions:
"People have reacted strongly this time, and they have not returned to their normal lives like other times, so I think there will be action."

"Be it Leopold, be it CST, these are places where a lot of students sit around, so if they are given some training, maybe all this can be avoided."

As a first step, universities are planning to organise a student solidarity meet in Mumbai over the weekend in Mumbai.

We're being forced to attend rally: Students

Several colleges across Mumbai say they are under pressure to send their students for a rally against terrorism at Shivaji Park on Saturday evening.

Many principals say they have been ordered by their respective universities to send students to the rally. "This is not voluntary. If your boss asks you to do something, it's an order, not a request,'' said a principal.

The organisers want a gathering of over one lakh and principals as well as parents are worried about the safety of students.

S C Jamir, governor of Maharashtra and chancellor of state universities will address the students. The event has been organised by Mumbai University, SNDT University, Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University and the deputy director's office. The cops and commandos who were killed in the 26/11 terror strike will be honoured.

"The rally makes no sense to me. The students say they're not keen on it as they feel it serves no purpose,'' said a college teacher.

"At a time when Karkare's wife has asked for privacy to mourn her loss, why have a function like this? We've had enough peace marches. This makes no sense,'' said a principal.

Another principal said the rally was being held a little late in the day. "If the rally had been held earlier, students would have reacted to it with spontaneity. Now, after college students have participated in both rallies and peace marches, they don't feel the need for another one,'' said a principal.

However, officials in the education department insist that there has been no pressure on students to attend the function. The education department says around 40,000 students from junior colleges will attend the rally.

Some institutions, though, say their students have volunteered to join the rally. For instance, Al-Nasser Zakaria, a member of the administration for the Awami High School and Junior College, Bandra, says that 50 students from the school volunteered to attend the rally.

Several principals say they have received a flood of calls and letters from parents saying they do not want to send their children for the rally. "Parents are worried about the safety of their girls at a rally as large as this one. The rally will start at 5 pm. By the time it's over, it'll be dark. Many of the students are 15- and 16-year-olds,'' said a principal.

However, Mumbai University pro vice chancellor A D Sawant says all the necessary security arrangements have been made. "The police department as well as NCC cadets will be present in order to manage the crowds,'' said Sawant.

Trident to re-open on Sunday 21st December '08

The Trident Hotel in Mumbai which was one of the targets of the 26/11 attacks is all set to reopen for its guests on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference, president of the Trident Hotel Ratan Keswani said that the hotel will hold a private prayer meet on Sunday in memory of those who lost their lives.

He also said that the Oberoi Hotel will take some time to reopen as there was a lot of restoration work to be done.

Keswani urged everyone to put behind them, the horrific attacks and said that whether the hotels were informed or not does not matter now.

He said that the hotel is working with a security agency to improve security standards.

PTI adds:The hotel expects at least 100 rooms to be occupied the same day.

The group's other hotel -- the Oberoi -- would, however, take six to seven months to reopen.

The group said that while the damage to the Oberoi is to the tune of Rs 40 to 50 crore, the Trident suffered damage of around Rs 40 to 50 lakh.

He said all the damages suffered by both the Oberoi and the Trident are covered by insurance. The group has also received Rs 25 crore as advance from one of the insurance company's for rebuilding and recovery work.

He added: "I would like to thank New India Assurance.

They have already released Rs 25 crore advances to help in our restoration effort."

"We are working with the insurance agencies to calculate the loss of profit (due to the damage and the subsequent closure)," he said.

He added that the hotel has faced "reasonably heavy" cancellation in bookings.

"Although bookings have been slow for now, we expect at least 100 rooms to be occupied tomorrow. The pace of bookings would hopefully increase with the passage of time," Trident Hotel President Rattan Keswani said.

The rate of cancellations in bookings is around 30 to 35 per cent.

Keswani added that the hotel would not be having any special New Year's or Christmas party this year although guests would be offered special menu for lunch and dinner.

Beware of emails asking for donations for 26/11 victims

Days after the Mumbai attacks, people are being flooded by emails urging them to help terror victims. While many have fallen prey and donated money, Vijay Mukhi, an e-security expert, exposed how most of these mails are fake.

On Monday, Mukhi, President of Foundation for Information and Security and Technology (FIST) received an email from none other than Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan asking him to donate money.

“I thought I would donate for the cause. But then I decided to verify the mail as it seemed fishy,” said Mukhi. He immediately checked the link and found there was no proper owner of the link on which the donation was to be made. Mukhi soon figured out that the link was fake as was the email sender.

“The number of people surfing the Net has increased tremendously so cyber criminals create these fake links to cheat people. People also donate money without checking the authenticity of the email. There are high risks of getting cheated,” he said.

Mukhi is not the only one to receive such emails. Sulabh Pandey, a business development manager with a consultancy firm, also received one saying he should support the families of terror victims. Sulabh was moved by the mail and was about to donate, when he decided to check first. “I asked my friend Sandeep, an IT professional, who found that the link was fake,” he said.

A recent report by Mcafee, a US-based security technology company, states that cyber criminals are using the global recession, terror attacks and Christmas to strike. “In India, hackers are sending donation mails on behalf of Red Cross or Salvation Army and 26/11 has given them an opportunity to cheat people,” said Kartik Shahani, regional director (India ) Mcafee Inc.

Sulabh Pandey, who received an emotional plea for money via email, discovered , through a friend, that the mail was fake.

Father spots son in 26/11 pics, in Mumbai to take him home

In the gloom of Mumbai's terror attack, Alwar resident Bhuvneshwar Sharma finds a ray of hope. Sharma, 58, a temple priest in Alwar, is in Mumbai these days desperately looking for his son, Tarun Kumar, 31 who had run away from home five years ago.

He just disappeared one fine day and for five years the family, despite extensive search, had not a clue about his whereabouts. Then last fortnight, while pouring over the coverage of 26/11 in his local newspaper, Sharma found a picture of a youth assisting an injured man at CST. The young man was his son.

It was the first indication that Tarun was alive, in good shape and that he was in Mumbai. Sharma immediately landed in Mumbai, he got in touch with the photographer and since then has been trying to trace his son. Newspaper copy in hand, he walks around CST, Fort, Churchgate asking people if they may have seen Tarun Kumar.

Narrating his story Sharma says that of his six children Tarun Kumar was the weakest at academics, he had also failed his SSC, for which he had to bear the brunt of his father' wrath. He often spoke of pursuing acting but then in October 2003, Tarun Kumar left home. He vanished without a trace.

A police complaint was lodged, ads were put in local newspapers and the family even put handbills at several places, and announced a cash prize for anyone giving information. To no avail.

Gradually, Tarun's mother fell sick, the family stopped celebrating all festivals and life in the Sharma household got grimmer. “These have been very painful years. We didn’t know where he was or how he was doing as he never contacted us. It was only by God's grace that we found his photograph. We have no one in this city, so we are wondering how he landed here,” says Sharma.

He has since been to JJ hospital where he was told that the injured man in the picture is a certain Sanjay Yadav who stays at Bhayander and who was injured in the firing at CST. “Possibly Tarun may be with him,” says Sharma. “That is our only hope.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Part Of the Game launched...

Recently Carlsberg Brewery launched a football web-TV-channel

They launched 5 channels showing all aspects about football from the classic football matches to life as a fan.

Be sure not to miss the video clips about football funnies and rituals from the Football Magic channel or the bizarre story about fans in the stand and how fan culture sometimes go beyond reason.
As an extra feature you can upload your own favourite football and fan moments.

Its an amazing site with loads of features present in it. So log on to and experience the diference.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

India airport in high alert after hijack threats

India has put its major airports on high alert after warnings that militants may have slipped into the country to try and hijack passsenger planes. The emergency measures come one week after 171 people were killed in a coordinated terror attack against India's economic capital Mumbai. India blames those attacks on members of the banned Pakistani Islamist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has promised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that his government will take "strong action" against any Pakistanis who may have been involved. Rice was in Islamabad briefly on Thursday. She met with Indian leaders in New Delhi the day before, as the US steps up diplomatic efforts to prevent tensions between the two nuclear-powered neighbours from escalating.

Prayer meeting held for Sabina Saikia

Hundreds of people congregated at a prayer meeting for senior Times of India journalist Sabina Sehgal Saikia, held at the Chinmaya Mission on Lodhi Road on Wednesday. She was killed in the Mumbai Terror attacks while staying at the Taj Mahal Hotel.

Indian classical music, which family members said Sabina loved, played in the background during the prayer ceremony.

Apart from being the food critic for the Times of India, she was also closely involved with SPICMACAY.

“She indeed created Page 3, and what she later termed as the monstrosities of Page 3,” Sunil Sethi, journalist and friend, said while remembering Sabina, who launched the city supplement Delhi Times.

“But there were many other facets to her. It took her many years to reach where she was,” he said.

He recalled one of the last conversations he had with her: “She was compiling the Times of India food guide before she left for Mumbai. She told me she was stuck on the letter ‘S’, as so many restaurants started with that letter. I told her her name also started with the same letter.

Bombs found in Mumbai train station a week later

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Police searching a mound of baggage abandoned amid the carnage of the attack on Mumbai's main train station found two bombs Wednesday — nearly a week after they were left there by gunmen — in a stunning new example of the botched security that has become a major issue in India since the three-day siege.

The discovery came as Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India is "determined to act decisively" following the attacks, saying the evidence was clear the gunmen came from Pakistan and their handlers are still there.

His words, the strongest yet from the government, came as thousands of Indians — many calling for war with Pakistan — held a vigil in Mumbai to mark one week since the start of the rampage that killed 171 people.

While searching through about 150 bags, which police believed were left by the dozens of victims in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, an officer found a suspicious-looking bag and called the bomb squad, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Bapu Domre. Inside were two 8.8-pound bombs, which were taken away and safely detonated, he said.

After the attacks, police found unexploded bombs at several of the sites, including two luxury hotels and a Jewish center.

It was not immediately clear why the bags at the station were not examined earlier. The station, which serves hundreds of thousands of commuters, was declared safe and reopened hours after the attack.

The discovery has added to increasing accusations that India's security forces missed warnings and bungled its response to the Nov. 26-29 attacks.

Indian navy chief Sureesh Mehta has called the response to the attacks "a systemic failure." The country's top law enforcement official has resigned and two top state officials have offered to quit amid criticism that the 10 gunmen appeared better trained, better coordinated and better armed than police in Mumbai.

Mukherjee on Wednesday adopted a more strident tone against longtime rival Pakistan.

"There is no doubt the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan," Mukherjee said after a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting as part of a U.S. effort to ease tensions in the region.

"The government of India is determined to act decisively to protect Indian territorial integrity and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life, with all the means at our disposal," he said, a turnaround from earlier statements that ruled out military action.

Rice urged Pakistan to act "transparently, urgently and fully," saying Islamabad has a "special responsibility" to cooperate with the investigation. She noted that with six Americans killed in the attacks, the U.S. was cooperating closely with India.

Many Indians wanted more than just harsh words.

At the candlelight gathering in Mumbai, the mood was largely belligerent, with many calling for war.

"India should attack Pakistan right away," said Sandeep Ambili, 27, who works for a shipping company.

"Something has to be done. Pakistan has been attacking my country for a long time," said another protester, Rajat Sehgal. "If it means me going to war, I don't mind."

Others chanted anti-Pakistan slogans and held banners reading: "Enough is enough, go for war."

Similar rallies were held in cities across India.

Amid the cries for war, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony summoned the army, navy and air force chiefs to warn them to be prepared for terrorist attacks from the air and the sea in the wake of growing criticism about slack security.

Antony told the military chiefs they needed to improve intelligence coordination so that security forces can act on all credible threats, according to a statement.

It said Antony discussed increasing maritime security and "reviewed in detail the preparedness against any possible terror threats from air."

Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said the moves were a precaution and not based on concrete intelligence.

"We saw how they came through the sea routes," Kar said. "We are not ruling out any threats. It's a preventive measure."

Senior Bush administration officials and a foreign government official said Washington had advised India that a waterborne attack on Mumbai appeared to be in the works, and that Westerners and Israelis might be targeted. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of intelligence information. The officials would not elaborate on details of the U.S. warning. However, they said the warning information was too general for India to take immediate action.

Early Thursday, media reports said airports were put on high alert following intelligence warnings that terrorists were planning attacks on an airport in the next few days.

The Press Trust of India news agency, quoting unidentified sources, said "specific" information regarding planned attacks had been received. Phones at police headquarters and the New Delhi airport rang unanswered late Wednesday.

Analysts said the army had told the government that a large deployment of troops, like that which followed a 2001 attack on India's parliament, was not possible at present.

"The three services chiefs told the government four days ago that a full military deployment will not be a feasible option," said Rahul Bedi, a South Asia expert with the London-based Jane's Defense Weekly.

After the 2001 attack, India and Pakistan posted nearly 1 million soldiers along their border in a yearlong standoff.

Bedi said the army was reluctant to repeat that without a clear political objective spelled out by the government.

The two nations have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, and neither government wants a fourth. Both now have nuclear weapons.

India fears the consequences of war on the huge economic gains it has made recently, while Pakistan has its own conflict with Islamic militants on the Afghan border.

Nevertheless, Mukherjee said India was now waiting for Pakistan.

"What action will be taken by (the Indian) government will depend on the response that we have from the Pakistan authorities," he said.

India has called on Pakistan to turn over 20 people who are "fugitives of Indian law" and wanted for questioning, but Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said the suspects would be tried in Pakistan if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

"At the moment, these are just names of individuals — no proof and no investigation," he told CNN. "If we had the proof, we would try them in our courts and we would try them in our land and we would sentence them."

Much of the evidence that Pakistanis were behind the attack comes from the interrogation of the surviving gunman, who told police that he and the other nine attackers had trained for months in camps in Pakistan operated by the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Ajmal Amir Kasab, 21, told investigators his recruiters promised to pay his family from an impoverished village Pakistan's Punjab region $1,250 when he became a martyr.

Kasab said he and the other gunmen were "hand-picked" for the mission and trained for more than a year by Lashkar-e-Taiba, based in Kashmir, according to two senior officials involved in the investigation.

Kasab gave a detailed account of how he and another gunman roamed the train station and shot passengers, killed several police officers, and planted a bomb in a taxi, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media about the investigation.

Mumbai sprung back faster than NY

It was difficult not to eavesdrop on their conversation. Sitting at a corner table at Leopold CafĂ©, the young couple from Birmingham was very soft, almost whispering in each other’s ears while sipping from their beer mugs.

Jason Cairns-Lawrence, 42, and his partner, 22-year-old Jenny were in New York during 9/11, London during 7/7 and the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. They call it ‘coincidence’. They were more than ready to talk about this strange coincidence.

“I will say that Mumbai sprung back on its feet faster than New York or London. New York took almost a week to come back to normal. But I see that Mumbai was back to its usual business from day three. This is amazing,” says Jason, who works as a sales manager with a UK-based company.

Jenny, the more soft-spoken of the two, had another interesting observation. “I can’t imagine somebody opening his shop the next day his brother was felled by terrorists. He looks sad but he is ready to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. As I look around, it’s impossible to tell that such a ghastly thing had happened. In New York, people carried the look of terror in their eyes for weeks after the carnage. In London, the police appeared more scared than the common people,” she says, and there’s surprise in her eyes.

Talking about the attacks in New York, Jason recalls how people were afraid to come to the business district for weeks after the attacks. “There’s something that’s missing in Mumbai which wasn’t missing in New York or London. That is terror,” Jason adds.
Are they following the terror trail? “I shouldn’t be laughing about it but it is some strange coincidence for sure. The terror attacks just happened when we were in the cities. May be we will think about putting it down on paper some day, but neither of us is a good writer,” Jenny manages to smile.

As the couple turn their attention to their beer again, we request them to pose for our lensman. They agree. “We have come here as tourists and we are not scuttling our plans. We are staying in Colaba and we are going to stay put for a couple of days. While in New York, we were actually thinking of moving out the second day itself. And we did,” Jason says matter of factly.

A little later, the couple gets up after finishing their drink, walks lazily across Colaba Causeway holding hands and disappears. There’s nothing to fear.

Courtesy : DNA - After hours