Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blast at Dashashwamedh ghat in Varanasi on Tuesday

VARANASI: A two-year-old girl was killed and around 25 people, including a couple of foreigners, were injured in a blast at the Dashashwamedh Ghat during Ganga arati around 6.30pm on Tuesday. Many others were injured in the ensuing stampede while some of the injured were reported to have been hurt by metal pellets. According to official sources, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) has been recovered from a metal dustbin at the Varanasi blast site.

Terror outfit Indian Mujahideen(IM) claimed responsibility for the blast in e-mails sent to media houses and said it "attributed" the attack to the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992.

The banned Indian Mujahideen (IM) today claimed responsibility for the blast in Varanasi, "attributing" it to 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid and warned of more such attacks.

In a five-page email dated yesterday and sent to media houses, the IM, which was responsible for a series of previous terror attacks in India, warned that it would carry out similar attacks "very soon".

The mail also referred to the recent Allahabad High Court judgement on the Ram-Janamabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit and the reported clean chit given by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team probing the post-Godhra riots to Gujarat Chief Minister Marendra Modi.

"We have now achieved skills to teach Newton's third law in their own terms. Our youth have all reasons to be proud and pompous to shoulder our responsibilities towards the UMMAH, while our elderly can be content...," the mail said.

The IM appealed to all Muslim countries to voice their concerns regarding "oppression and injustice" allegedly inflicted by India upon the Muslims.

The mail also referred to the alleged manhandling of Kashmiri leaders in some parts of the country.

Monday, December 6, 2010

N-Power Deal with France

NEW DELHI: India and France signed a multi-million dollar agreement on Monday to build two nuclear power plants in India as French President Nicolas Sarkozy worked to drum up business for his nation during his four-day visit here.

Areva SA, one of France's main nuclear power companies, will build two European pressurized reactors of 1,650 megawatts each at Jaitapur in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

The agreement, valued at about $9.3 billion, was signed in the presence of Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The deal marked the first two of 20 nuclear reactors India wants to build to meet its soaring energy demand.

Foreign governments have been courting India to try to get a piece of that lucrative market, but there have been concerns that India's recently passed liability law might prove too onerous for international companies to risk entering the market here.

Indian officials assured France that their liability laws were in keeping with international standards and the security of nuclear operators was ensured, a French official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Sarkozy and Singh later met to discuss regional security, trade and investment.

The talks were also expected to touch on plans for the structural reform of the international monetary system through the Group of 20 countries, currently headed by France.

Sarkozy, who arrived on Saturday, is accompanied by his defense, foreign and finance ministers and nearly 60 business leaders.

No defense agreements are expected during the visit, but Sarkozy is likely to push for French companies to win contracts to supply military hardware.

French companies are negotiating to upgrade 51 Mirage-2000 jet fighters in the Indian air force. India is also in the market to buy 126 fighter jets, a deal worth $11 billion, and about 200 helicopters worth another $4 billion.

According to defense experts, India is expected to spend $80 billion between 2012 and 2022 to upgrade its military.

Sarkozy's visit also coincides with at least two important meetings with Indian business leaders. The French president is keen to attract Indian companies to invest in France, even as French companies are seeking a slice of India's booming economy.

Bilateral trade declined in 2009 due to global economic woes, but was on the upswing this year, said Vishnu Prakash, India's external affairs ministry spokesman. The two countries have set a trade target of 12 billion euros ($15.8 billion) for 2012.

Sarkozy is to visit Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, before returning home on Tuesday.