Search This Blog

Friday, June 29, 2012

Union Carbide not liable for Bhopal gas tragedy - says US Court

MNCs are ruling the roost everywhere – there have been threats of them entering retail sector – right now you can see so many MNCs in every sphere – beautiful offices housed in big building; efficient staff, utilization of technology, local benefits from International operations – and what is more, you are trading with an International entity – it is fail proof – strongly backed by a giant Company headquartered elsewhere, folk, it is not simply an Indian Company which will vanish and not dependent on a single person in India – does it not make sense to buy only MNC product ???????

The famed city of  King Bhoja perhaps named Bhojpal after the king and the dam ("pal") constructed by him, slowly fell  to obscurity, and by the early 18th century Bhopal was a small village in the local Gond kingdom. The present capital of Madhya Pradesh is not as famous as many other cities are – in 1969, a factory to produce pesticide Sevin,  using methyl isocyanate (MIC) as an intermediate was started – and in hindsight this has caused untold woes and tribulations to thousands of poor Indian citizens.  .

More than 28 years ago, during the night of December 2–3, 1984, water entered Tank E610 containing 42 tons of MIC. The resulting exothermic reaction increased the temperature inside the tank to over200 °C (392 °F) and raised the pressure. About 30 metric tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) escaped from the tank into the atmosphere in 45 to 60 minutes. The gases were blown by southeasterly winds over Bhopal – and that is the  Bhopal disaster, a gas leak  considered one of the world's worst industrial catastrophes.  Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh  confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release.  A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

Union Carbide India Limited [UCIL] was the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), with Indian Government controlled banks and the Indian public holding a 49.1 percent stake. In 1994, the Supreme Court of India allowed UCC to sell its 50.9 percent share. Union Carbide sold UCIL, the Bhopal plant operator, to Eveready Industries India Limited in 1994. The Bhopal plant was later sold to McLeod Russel (India) Ltd. Dow Chemical Company purchased UCC in 2001.

On the night of tragedy, it was chaotic - Medical staff were unprepared for the thousands of casualties; Doctors and hospitals were not informed of proper treatment methods for MIC gas inhalation. They were told to simply give cough medicine and eye drops to their patients; there was mass evacuation on that night and subsequently when   the tanks 611 and 619 were emptied of the remaining MIC.  Sadly decades after the tragedy, victims have not been paid just compensation after knocking the doors of many Courts.  

Now comes another blow as an  American court has dismissed all claims by Indian plaintiffs against Union Carbide ruling that neither Union Carbide or the then chairman Warren Anderson was responsible for any environmental fallout which was a result of a gas leak in Bhopal in December 1984 that killed thousands of people.  The court ruled that Union Carbide is not liable for any claims made by plaintiffs Janki Bai Sahu and others. The court also dismissed all claims made against Anderson.

US District Judge John Keena said Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) was not responsible for causing soil and water pollution in Bhopal as it was Union Carbide India Ltd that owned the plant and not the parent company UCC. He also added that since Union Carbide sold its stake in the India unit, it's not liable for the clean-up.

In sum and substance, the Judgment perhaps underlines that there was no evidence that the parent body’s approval for the actions of the Indian arm could be established.  Crudely akin to telling that if somebody slaps, it is his hand and not he mind or the person who is responsible for that action.   The Judge is quoted as stating  that "it is beyond dispute that Union Carbide India" -- and not the U.S.-based parent -- "generated and disposed of the waste which allegedly polluted plaintiffs' drinking water." The court added that since Union Carbide sold its stake in the India unit, it's not liable for the clean-up.

The activists who had taken the tragedy to US Court have expressed disappointment at the dismissal of the case, but added that they are determined to appeal.  Way back in 1989 Indian Supreme Court asked Union Carbide to pay $470 million in damages to the victims. Many organizations have been fighting since for a higher just compensation.  There has also been the issue of site clean-up, as the State is unsure of how to get rid of the toxic waste. Those who have been fighting for feel that the present owner - Dow Chemical has failed to fulfill its moral obligations of paying adequate compensation and cleaning up the site of the disaster.  Dow Chemicals claims that it bought Union Carbide 16 years after the tragedy -- and so it can't be held liable.

In 2004, activists working on behalf of residents who lived near the factory filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. seeking damages from Union Carbide, now a part of Dow Chemicals Co., to finance the removal of pollutants from the site, pay compensation to residents whose water source was contaminated by toxic waste and set up a facility to monitor the health of local residents. The present utterance is clearly a setback to the victims who have undergone harrowing times, many have died since fighting the losing battle with a giant MNC backed by lawyers exploiting all possible loopholes.

The Bano v Union Carbide in district court of Manhattan, New York demanding compensation  has faced more reverses than any movement towards compensation.  In 2003 it was dismissed on the grounds of statute of limitation.  Subsequently more pitched in for action against Union Carbide and Warren Anderson and that they should be held accountable on the grounds that they were direct participants and joint tortfeasors in the activities that resulted in the pollution and that that they worked in concert with Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) to cause, exacerbate, or conceal the pollution.  Now the Court has ruled in favour of the defendants.  Now owned by Dow Chemical Company, Union Carbide denies allegations against it on its website dedicated to the tragedy. The corporation claims that the incident was the result of sabotage, stating that safety systems were in place and operative. It also stresses that it did all it could to alleviate human suffering following the disaster.

UCC Chairman, CEO Warren Anderson was arrested and released on bail by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Bhopal on December 7, 1984. The arrest, which took place at the airport, ensured Anderson would meet no harm by the Bhopal community. Anderson was taken to UCC's house after which he was released six hours later on $2,100 bail and flown out on a government plane. In 1987, the Indian government summoned Anderson, eight other executives and two company affiliates with homicide charges to appear in Indian court. Union Carbide balked, saying the company is not under Indian jurisdiction.  Thus a man   charged with manslaughter and declared  fugitive from justice by the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal did not even try to make an appearance. 

So Justice for victims keeps eluding and perhaps has almost vanished.   Interestingly, a WikiLeak relase in Feb 2012  revealed that Dow Chemicals had engaged an agency to spy on the public and personal lives of activists involved in the Bhopal disaster, including the Yes Men. Stratfor released a statement condemning the revelation by Wikileaks while neither confirming nor denying the accuracy of the reports, and would only state that it had acted within the bounds of the law; Dow Chemicals would not comment on the matter.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

UDRS falls - Ludicruos - Tony Greig imploring India on 'spirit of game'

Some brouhaha in the Cricket World as the call for Universal DRS fell flat at Board table.  The universal application of the Decision Review System (DRS), which was recommended by the ICC's cricket committee and by its Chief Executives Committee, met a natural death.   It is believed the issue was discussed at the meeting but was not put to a vote. The development came a day after India publicly and unambiguously repeated its opposition to DRS, when most other countries are believed to support it.

Those present at the meeting, which was chaired by ICC president Sharad Pawar, say the DRS question came and went without a murmur, with the BCCI being the sole objector to its universal acceptance. The issue was not put to an open vote despite support for the DRS from most Full Member nations as well as the majority of the playing community. The development effectively retained the DRS in its current form - a mutually agreed arrangement in bilateral series. As one would recall, the Board overturned the decision it took at the 2011 ICC annual conference in Hong Kong. The cost of the system will still be borne primarily by the host broadcasters and technology providers, rather than the ICC, even though the DRS forms part of the umpiring operations.  The present meeting chaired by the outgoing President Pawar was attended by the board presidents of the 10 Full Member nations and three representatives of Associate and Affiliate nations.

Though ICC Chief Executives Committee reiterated its commitment to Decision Review System becoming mandatory in international cricket,  the BCCI -  stated that its stand remained unchanged, putting the proposal into serious doubt.  The CEC has  endorsed recommendations regarding the Powerplays  and supported the promotion of day-night Test cricket.   

There were reports of Tony Greig imploring India.  Reports state that Tony Greig  appealed to the BCCI to abandon self interest and "embrace the spirit of cricket and govern in the best interests of world cricket, not just for India and its business partners."  Delivering the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture from Lord's, he called  upon India to "accept its responsibility as leader of the cricket world" and ensure that the long-term future of Test cricket and the less powerful Test nations were prioritised above short-term commercialism.  He said, that India's power was being used to undermine the credibility and worth of the ICC and self-interest was preventing beneficial advancements such as the universal adoption of the Decision Review System (DRS) and a coherent international playing schedule. Greig also criticised "India's apparent indifference towards Test cricket and… its indifference to the urgency to introduce anti-doping rules and the rumoured corruption hanging over the IPL.  "Unfortunately," Greig said, "India is pre-occupied with money and T20 cricket and sees its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar. To compound the problems, India has not only sold part of the game to private interests but some of her administrators are seen to have a conflict of interest, which makes it more difficult for it to act in the spirit of the game.

Greig is quoted as stating that much  of the game is controlled by the BCCI because it controls enough votes to block any proposal put forward at the ICC board meetings, adding that  some countries would not survive without the financial opportunities India provides.

It could have been a good piece of oratory, if only you are to read only the speech without seeing the person delivering.  Greig speaking of commercialism and usage of power…… well, until a decade ago, England used its muscle power to mull over any decision made by other Cricket boards.  It was England and Australia who ruled roost – there is always a feeling that just because the English batsmen were unable to cope up with [read feared] the West Indies pacing bowling quartet, they introduced ‘one bouncer per over’ which brought the batsmen from their backfoot to front and made the bowlers lose their cutting edge. Can you think of a rule, restricting the batsman to ‘one hook shot per over’ or only ‘one six per over’………. Remember to Greig it was not his country of birth, or his domicile on his sleeve but Kerry Packer – was that nationalism or commercialism – does not require an answer though !

In an era where Ian Bell continues to get century on referrals of DRS against Australia, India, and West Indies, does not Indian Board have the right to express what they view as ‘a system with many flaws’.   Even in the present meeting cricket's inclusion in the Olympic Games via the Twenty20 format, was opposed  by ECB – do you read more in to that ?  BCCI denial of UDRS is not just a way of showing the World as to who runs the show.  Everyone would correct their mistakes at least by experience but does not it sound ridiculous that without clear corrections, the same system is tried to be pushed through. 
Greig calling for ‘spirit of the game’ knows the umpteenth instances of misdemenaour by English players and other players as well.  Dear Greig, followers of the game remember that Anthony William Greig, standing 6.6 ft tall made 3599 runs in 58 tests (269 in 22 ODI); took 141 test wickets and 19 one day wickets.   And you need to read something more on Greig to understand that his recent outburst is just not subjective……….

Greig from his playing days has remained a controversial figure.  When it was considered bad to act against National Boards, he organized things for Kerry Packer  by signing English colleagues, WI and Pak cricketers – it was crass lure of money and nothing else. 

This particular incident will reveal the ‘spirit of the game’ which he is trying to champion now.  In 1974, on the second day of the First Test at the Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad, the West Indies had cruised to a first innings lead of 143, thanks mainly to 142 not out from Alvin Kallicharran. With four wickets still in hand, the home team was in a dominant position when the last ball of the day was bowled to Bernard Julien, who blocked it past Greig (fielding in close on the off side) and then headed off to the pavilion with Kallicharran. However, Greig fielded the ball, whirled around, threw down the stumps, and appealed for a run out decision against Kallicharran. Umpire Douglas Sang Hue gave the batsman "out", and a near-riot broke out in the crowd. The spectators stormed the ground and laid siege to the pavilion, calling for the decision to be revoked. Technically, the decision was correct as Sang Hue had not called time on the day's play, but Greig's actions  was totally unsportive and against the spirit of the game.   On  31 July 2011,  at Trent Bridge, Ian Bell was run out and later played to the media that he was under the impression that the ball had gone for four.    Indian magnanimous  M.S. Dhoni withdrew the appeal. Bell was 137 at the time and went on to score 159.

In May 2011, he proclaimed that ending India's 'domination' of ICC is his priority,  priority if he takes charge of cricket's world governing body.  That time he told BBC that India tells Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and one or two other countries what to do and they always get the vote,’ conveniently undermining the fact that England had always the coterie of Australia and Newzealand and South Africa.  He went on to sully everybody in his  first full-scale biography. Even Australian fans had accused him of bias.  His ‘grovel’ remark in 1976 home series against West Indies heightened his infamy.  "It smacked of racism and apartheid," charged Michael Holding.

Those of us who have been following cricket for sometime would sure recall the England tour to India in 1976-77 and the Vaseline incident.  John Lever had an incredible Test in Delhi, taking 7 for 46 and 3 for 24. Later, t was alleged that Lever was using Vaseline on the ball to help it swing – lever was  wearing  controversial gauze strips.  It was claimed by the English that out of their hairstyle, they complained of salt in eyes and hence they put up some Vaseline-impregnated gauze into the eyebrows of the bowlers.  It had never been used and never was the permission from Indian Umpires sought – they thought themselves to be above law.  John Lever mixed the Vaseline-impregnated gauze with some of the sweat on his brow, that was picked  up by the umpire, who recognised that it was a foreign substance.  To Greig’s team it was inadvertent mistake !!! the genial Bishan Bedi  under a tremendous amount of pressure  due to the losses, downplayed the incident.  Another instance where England proved that when it comes to them ‘they are above law and they can violate any rule with impunity, leave alone playing by the spirit of the game’.  
photo courtesy : / getty images.

There was another instance – the fourth day's play of the third Test at Headingley in July 1975 ended with the match balanced on a knife-edge. Australia, chasing a record 445 to beat England, and so retain the Ashes, had reached 220 for 3, with their opener Rick McCosker still there.  The last day - a Tuesday, in those days of rest days on a Sunday - dawned cloudy, but when George Cawthray, the groundsman, pushed back the covers, he was greeted with the sight of a pitch which had been vandalised. Several lumps of soil had been gouged out of the surface just short of a length at the Rugby Ground End. While Cawthray later admitted that he could have repaired those sufficiently to allow play to recommence, what sent a chill down his spine was that the holes had been filled with about a gallon of oil. Tony Greig and Ian Chappell, the two captains, inspected the pitch and agreed that it couldn't be used – Greg made no spirited attempts to play on an adjacent pitch or on an extra day.

It is the same Tony Greig, towering height but stooped down many a times, is now trying to take a dig at India in not attempting to play by the spirit of the game.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Unarmed major who disarmed Pak soldiers and saved a future PM : The Telegraph

I had recently posted on the decision of Bangladesh cabinet to confer `Friends of Bangladesh Award on Colonel (retd) Ashok Tara, a retired officer of the Indian Army, for his outstanding contribution to the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. 

Have received an e-mail communication from Mr Sujan Dutta who has written an article in ‘Telegraph India’ on Major Ashok Tara captioned ‘Unarmed Major who disarmed Pak soldiers and saved a future PM’

This article makes a very interesting reading and I was really impressed by the concluding para -  “In prising Col Tara out of obscurity, Sheikh Hasina is acknowledging the role of India in the liberation of Bangladesh, something that her detractors have been seeking to erase. With the passing of Tara’s generation, that would become all too easy, lest New Delhi uses the past as the springboard for a renewed friendship.”  

The article is pasted here in its entirety, fully acknowledging with thanks -  Mr Sujan Dutta and Telegraph India.

Unarmed major who disarmed Pak soldiers and saved a future PM :

New Delhi, June 27: The cold steel of a rifle barrel poked Major Ashok Tara in the chest.

The finger on the trigger was trembling, as was the scared Pakistani soldier who was pointing the gun. Barely out of his teens, the fresh-faced youth, Tara noted, was wide-eyed and his lips were quivering. One false move and the nervous boy could squeeze the trigger by mistake.   At such close range, the bullet would go through his body taking half the chest with it. It was a precious chest having braved two wars.

It endures. Even today, India is riding the goodwill that it commands.

On Monday this week, Dhaka announced that it was conferring the “Friend of Bangladesh” Award to Ashok Kumar Tara who retired as a colonel in 1994. Indira Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister in 1971, was conferred the award in her time. This morning, Tara told The Telegraph during a chat in his modest ground-floor flat in Noida, that of all the events that tumultuous December of 1971, he still remembered the feel of the barrel of a gun aimed at his chest like a phantom limb.

That morning of December 17, 1971, Tara had disarmed himself — unthinkable for an officer in the face of hostilities — in a gamble with his life. Is this how it was going to pay off? The choicest Punjabi expletives aimed at himself were racing through his mind. His wife and four-month-old baby were at home in Delhi.

For two weeks he had gone from battle to battle ever since his unit, the 14 Guards, was ordered out of Agartala to cut an axis to Dacca. He had killed the enemy himself and had seen his comrades getting killed in firefights. He was quite ready to be killed himself in a firefight. He was a seasoned soldier and a company commander.  This was already his second war. He was leading Alpha company and two weeks earlier was decorated with the Vir Chakra, the third highest gallantry award, in the Battle of Gangasagar. In that battle, Lance Naik Albert Ekka of his unit’s Bravo company was killed and posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award.

But this was no firefight. Yet here Major Tara was — that winter’s morning made colder still by the feel of the rifle barrel aimed at his heart. A crowd had gathered some distance away from the gates of the house in Dacca’s Dhanmondi locality where Tara stood alone.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family, future Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, then 24-years-old and the mother of a baby herself, among them, were under arrest in that house for nine months.  It was past 9 in the morning. A day earlier Lt Gen. A.A.K. Niazi, the commander of forces in East Pakistan, had surrendered to the Indian Army.

Since then, Tara’s unit was assigned by divisional commander Maj. Gen. Gonsalves to secure the battered Dacca airport. Its runway had been strafed by the Indian Air Force and only helicopters could land. Senior officers and VIPs were reaching Dacca after the surrender. Tara’s company was asked to secure the main terminal when a local political leader came up to his battalion commander, Col Vijay Kumar Chanana, and told him that Mujib’s family was in danger of getting wiped out by Pakistani soldiers.  Chanana called Tara and asked him to go to Dhanmondi, a 20-minute drive. Tara left with three soldiers.

At Dhanmondi, the local politico fled after pointing out the place. A Mukti Joddha, Bangladesh liberation warrior, came to Tara’s vehicle and told him that Pakistani soldiers who were in the house had threatened to kill the family. He pointed to the burnt car, half way between the crowd and the house, that a man, possibly a journalist, was taking to reach the gates. The bullet-riddled body of the man was inside the charred car.

Tara looked hard at the house. There was a sandbagged bunker on the roof with a light machine gun (LMG). He could make out the sentry who had a clear field of vision. There would be other guards.  One bunker was on the terrace, the others were on either side of the gate. A Pakistani flag flew atop the building.

“The Pakistani guards had fired on a crowd in front of the house last night, killing at least five persons including a woman,” reported the United News of India from Dacca in a despatch dated December 17, 1971.

There was no way Tara could charge with just three men. He called his JCO (junior commissioned officer) and handed him his sten gun. Stay on one side of the road, he instructed.  Unarmed, he began a slow walk to the gates. As he passed the car, the sentry on the rooftop warned him that he would open fire if he took another step. Tara, whose parents migrated to Delhi from Rawalpindi in 1945, understood his language.

“Dekho, main Hindustani fauj da afsar toadde saamne khada hoon, main bin hathyar ke hoon,” Tara shouted back in a mix of Punjabi and Hindi. (See, I am an Indian Army officer standing unarmed in front of you.)  “Jab main pahunch gaya hoon aapke saamne bina weapon ke iska matlab hain ki aapka fauj ne surrender kar diya. Aap apni afsar se pooch lo,” he continued. (If I have reached unarmed in front of you, it means your army has surrendered, you can ask your officer).

The sentry asked him to halt. After a while, he shouted back: “Sadda un nala koi link nahin”. (I have no contact with the officer). Tara, then 29 years old, learnt later that a Pakistani captain had abandoned his post. Even then, he knew that the news of the surrender had not yet reached the lower ranks because communications were disrupted.

At that time, Indian helicopters flew overhead. “I pointed to them and shouted ‘look our helicopters are flying in the sky and look behind me, our jawans are inside Dacca. You have a family with children as I do; if you lay down your arms and come out peacefully, I guarantee you a safe passage to your camp or wherever you want to go to’.”  He was walking closer to the house as he shouted these words and was at the entrance when the guard in the bunker at the gates pointed the rifle at him.

“I locked eyes with the shivering boy even as I was talking to the havildar on the rooftop,” recalls Tara now. From inside the house, the family of Sheikh Mujib (Mujibur Rahman was in a jail in Pakistan and was to be flown to Dacca a few days later) was also shouting. “If you do not save us, they will kill all of us, we know,” a woman’s voice wailed out to him.

They had overheard his shouted conversation with the havildar. “I kept up the conversation as I softly pushed the barrel of the gun away from my body,” says Tara. “Those were different times, there was a different kind of josh because I had been through the Battle of Gangasagar just two weeks earlier,” Tara says now of the experience of overcoming the fear of death.

The UNI reported laconically: “A major who led the (Indian) detachment ordered the guards to surrender. They (the Pakistani soldiers), however, refused to move out of the bunker unless ordered by their own officers. The major explained that the Pakistani troops had already surrendered and that they should do the same instead of provoking the troops to eject them. After much argument, they agreed to come out. They were given civilian clothes to wear lest they be shot on the road by vengeful youths.”

A more enthusiastic Northern India Patrika despatch reported: “The release of Begum Mujibur Rahman has been as thrilling as the fall of Dacca or for that matter the liberation of Bangladesh.”

Tara says Begum Mujib embraced him and said: “You are my son who has come as God to me”.  The Patrika quotes Begum Mujib in its December 1971 report. “Many a time I thought that neither I nor the Indian officer will survive this. It is a new lease of life for us.”  Inside the house, there was barely any furniture. The family had been sleeping on the floor. There were hardly enough rations either. “I saw only biscuits,” recalls TaraTara clicked a picture of the 24-year-old Sheikh Hasina with her baby in her arms. He intends to enlarge and frame the picture and gift it to the Bangladesh Prime Minister when he goes to Dhaka shortly to receive his award.

Her sister, Rehana, wrote to Tara for a long time afterwards. In her letters penned in childish but neat writing she asks repeatedly about “bhabhi (Tara’s wife) and baby”. Tara was asked to stay on in Dhaka to meet “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman even after his unit was ordered back to the Mizo Hills. When Mujib returned, he was treated like a family friend. Tara shows photographs with the family signed by Mujib.

Nearly 41 years later, Sheikh Hasina has invited Colonel (retired) Ashok Kumar Tara to return to Dhaka for thanksgiving. “She tried earlier too when she was the Prime Minister (1996-2001) but somehow that did not materialise,” says Tara. In his Noida flat, Tara, now 70 years old, still gets up to open the door when the bell rings, assuming that one of his soldiers from the unit has come. His wife, a former teacher, lives with him. His daughter and son live in Australia with their families.

In prising Col Tara out of obscurity, Sheikh Hasina is acknowledging the role of India in the liberation of Bangladesh, something that her detractors have been seeking to erase. With the passing of Tara’s generation, that would become all too easy, lest New Delhi uses the past as the springboard for a renewed friendship.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bus accident at Gemini Fly over – Anna Salai - Chennai

Today [27th June 2012] around 0200 pm,  a bus has reportedly fallen from the Anna Fly over [Gemini bridge] – there has been traffic jams and ambulances are seen trying to reach the place.

Anna Salai, formerly known as Mount Road,  is the major arterial road in Chennai, India. It starts at the Cooum Creek, south of Fort St George and ends at the Kathipara Junction in Guindy.  With the roadwork for Metro Rail and work for railway station, major part of the road has been made one-way recently.

Anna Flyover (Tamil: அண்ணா மேம்பாலம்), also known as Gemini Flyover, is a dual-armed flyover in the central business district of Chennai, India. Built by East Coast Construction and Industries in 1973, it is the first flyover in Chennai.  Decades ago, there was the  Gemini Studios, after which the bridge was known as Gemini Flyover before renamed after the former CM of the State.   

In the recent past, there have not been any major accidents.. from Dinamalar read that around 0200 pm today Metropolitan Transport Corporation bus in route 17B plying from Broadway to Mangadu met with an accident on the bridge – some reports state that the bus while trying to enter the service lane for getting down towards Nungambakkam High Road, fell down.  Dinamalar reports that 12 had grievous injuries and have been admitted into hospital.  The actual position is not yet clear.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar @ 14.40 hrs

As reported in Dinakaran website -

சென்னை: சென்னையில் உள்ள அண்ணா மேம்பாலத்திலிருந்து, பேருந்து கவிழ்ந்து விபத்துக்குள்ளாகியுள்ளது. வடபழனியிலிருந்து பாரிமுனை நோக்கி சென்றுக் கொண்டிருந்த, 17எம் பேருந்து கவிழ்ந்து விபத்துக்குள்ளாகியுள்ளது. இதில் பேருந்தில் பயணம் செய்த 30பேர், காயம் அடைந்துள்ளதாக தகவல்கள் தெரிவிக்கின்றன. காயமடைந்தவர்கள் ராயப்பேட்டை அரசு மருத்துவமனையில் அனுமதிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர். மேலும் சாலையில் அரசுப் பேருந்து கவிழ்ந்து கிடப்பதால், அப்பகுதியில் போக்குவரத்து முடங்கியுள்ளது. விபத்தில் கவிழ்ந்த பேருந்தை மீட்கும் பணியில், காவல்துறையினர் மற்றும் தீயணைப்பு படையினர் தீவிரமாக ஈடுபட்டுள்ளனர். 


Update at 16.30 hrs

The accident spot was quickly cardoned off by the Police with some help by volunteers.

Within an hour, the Fly over was open to traffic – the place where bus had fallen down was not allowed to public for some time.  Ambulances rushed and ferried injured to nearby hospitals.   Cranes and rescue vehicles lifted the bus from the scene and  by around 04.15 pm, the bus was seen pulled away from the scene by a rescue van.

From the looks, it appeared that the bus might not have fallen from any great height and pray that there are only injuries to travellers…..

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
 Traffic flowing at Anna flyover from thousandlights side @ 03.30 pm

 The place where the vehicle had fallen
This is the vehicle – being towed away

this photo sent by a friend portrays damage of bigger magnitude though

-         Added after watching local TV channels’ coverage on the accident’
At times, the media and people try to sensationalise even the suffering of others.  The exact cause of the accident is not known, and there are theories floating around from ‘driver speaking on mobile phone’; negligence, vehicle not fit, and more….
Some good things observed are :
§      The Police and Fire Service arrived reasonably immediately after the accident
§      Public volunteered help
§      Fortunately the bus was not fully crowded as it was mid day
§     Fortunately no other vehicle was involved – the bus did not fall on any other vehicle
§      Injured were rushed to accident
§   A TV news report showed Apollo Hospitals staff fully prepared to receive the injured passengers
§   It was stated that more than 10 ambulance of Apollo and some from the Govt hospitals were pressed in to service
§    Apollo Hospitals Chairman Dr Pratap Reddy  was shown as saying that "of the 28 passengers admitted, only one is critical with multiple rib injuries, others suffered just mild injuries".
§      A Doctor of the Royapettah Hospital stated that the no. of persons who came there were less than 10 and none were seriously injured.
§      There was a report that Apollo did not charge anything to the injured
§      Ministers, Mayor and many others visited the scene of accident and also visited those undergoing treatment at the hospitals.
Traffic was allowed in less than hours time on the Gemini flyover, which otherwise could have paralysed Chennai.  The access roads were sealed and rescue operations were undertaken in full swing.  Eventually, the bus could be seen towed away from the scene in less than 2 hours.
Accidents do occur and the cause should be investigated to ensure that they do not recur.  However, the swift response of the officials and Police need to be commended

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Zardari's fax paus - now says it is Surjeet and not Sarabjit

Till a couple of decades ago, there were some good typists who could type down pages without mistakes – remember, on a typewritten documents mistakes were irreversible – now it is an era of bungling by those holding the highest positions.. after Indian President granted clemency to a dead person, it was Pak President’s turn to order release of Sarabjit but later it turned out to be Surjeet

It was a day when newspaper headlines should have been on 2 resignations albeit differently made -  Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will resign late afternoon today [27th June 12] from his post to contest the Presidential elections, putting an end to a long political career.  On a different plane, Union minister for small and medium enterprises Virbhadra Singh resigned from his cabinet post to devote time to fighting the charges of criminal misconduct against him and his wife.  A Shimla court had framed charges against him in a case of criminal misconduct in 1989.  

Lot had been spoken about the imprisonment of Khalil Chishty, of his age and more of India Pak relations that could change dramatically.  Chisty  had been awarded life imprisonment after an 18-year-long trial in a murder during a brawl that took place in Ajmer in 1992.  it was then reported that court considered his age and academic qualification while allowing him bail !!! – will that by means attract retribution from the neighbour  ?

The news that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had signed the order of release of  Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row in Pakistan  naturally brought happiness.  In India, the news was received by Sarabjit Singh’s family, especially his sister  who has been moving heaven and earth to secure her brother’s release, with joy.  Indian officialdom also reacted; External Affairs Minister SM Krishna welcomed the order of release and thanked President Zardari.  The Presidential spokesman,  had confirmed that Zardari had commuted the death sentence on Sarabjit Singh to life in prison, the equivalent of time served. Sarabjit Singh would be released after completion of the paperwork, it was stated.  Justice Markandeya Katju, who had campaigned for Sarabjit Singh’s release, praised Zardari’s “kindness and generosity” and “act of statesmanship”. Some analysts even saw that as a master move, coming as it did at the time of arrest of Syed Zabiuddin Ansar alias Abu Jundal, the Lashkar-e-Taiba operative who handheld the Pakistani terrorists who struck Mumbai in November 2008.

But before the ink could dry, it appears that Pakistan army had vetoed the release.  By midnight, Pakistani officials were putting out a vastly different narrative. It wasn’t Sarabjit Singh who would be released, but Surjeet Singh, another Indian prisoner in Pakistan who too had faced the death sentence, but which had been commuted. The same Presidential spokesman who had proudly proclaimed the imminent release of Sarabjit Singh was covering his tracks.

Sarabjit Singh, is an Indian citizen jailed in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities consider him as Manjit Singh, convicted for his alleged involvement in 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14 people. Sarabjit claims that he is a farmer and victim of mistaken identity, who strayed into Pakistan from his village located on the border. He was given death sentence in 1991, but his hanging was repeatedly postponed. He is imprisoned in the Kot Lakhpat jail since 1990.

Surjeet Singh has been in jail in Pakistan since 1982 – and, as with Sarabjit Singh, there has been a campaign in Pakistan for his release. His release was thought of to be imminent and was in no way a surprise or act of amnesty. Surjeet Singh, currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near the border with India on charges of spying during the era of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
There are reports that after the announcement on Sarabjit, representatives of Islamist groups in Pakistan voiced their sense of displeasure that Sarabjit Singh, who they claimed had carried out acts of terror in Pakistan and had killed Pakistani citizens, was being released.  So, the confusion [as it is sought to be made out] appears clearly to bear the stamp of veto by the Pakistani Army-ISI of the civilian government’s effort to respond to appeals from India for Sarabjit Singh’s release.  In a country that has not come to grip with its civilian rule, the considerations of peace with neighbour appear secondary as they grapple in an existential struggle with its military powers.  

Sad that Sarabjit still lives under the constant fear of a death penalty and after 21 years and news of his release, he still continues to suffer in the prison, with family grieving back home.  The unfortunate atmosphere of mutual lack of trust and ill-will, often people of the other country are regarded as evils.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dinda bowls India A to victory at Port of Spain

It must have been a thriller – not many Super Overs have been bowled deciding the fate of a match – Eliminator at India A vs WI A.

At Port of Spain, Ashok Dinda became the hero as Indians and WI were tied at 154 in the 2nd unofficial T20.  With Ajinkya Rahana scoring fluently, India made 154 for 5, Bonner’s 82 livened the chase as West Indies also finished at the same score after 2o overs.

West Indies had won the first T20 and in the 2nd match at Port of Spain,  Indian openers  gave a good start making 61 off as many.  First to get out was Shikhar Dhawan  for 33. Ajinkya Rahane, made a solid  79,  taking the total to 131. The tall Sulieman Benn  bowled economically and picked up a couple of wickets.  India made 154/5. 

Nkrumah Bonner, smashed 82 off 65 balls with three fours and two sixes. In the final over they needed 2 off 5 balls.  Bonner was claimed by Dinda off the 2nd ball.  Dinda conceded just 1 run in the 4 balls bowling a heroic spell – making it a tie, taking the game to the Super over eliminator.  It was not to be a high scoring one as it is feared to be

West Indies made only 4 runs – Dinda bowled yet another splendid over – his figures reading 1,1,1(run out),1,(run out) – no 6th delivery as WI had lost 2 wickets.  For WI, Suleiman Benn ws the bowler.  Needing a paltry 5, Rohit Sharma was run out off the 1st ball, 2nd was a wide, a single, another wide and off the next Dhawan struck a boundary ending the chase.  Manoj Tiwary remained not out with a solitary run. 

Now the focus shifts to the three unofficial ODIs, starting June 27.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

'Friends of Bangladesh Award' for Col (Retd) Ashok Tara

Dhanmondi is one of the most crowded planned areas in Dhaka city. Its origins can be traced back to the late 1950s, beginning as an affluent residential area, and over the decades evolving into a miniature city, where one can find everything from hospitals to malls, schools, banks, offices and universities.  The history of Bangladesh as a nation state began in 1971, when it seceded from Pakistan. Prior to the creation of Pakistan in 1947, modern-day Bangladesh was part of ancient, classical, medieval and colonial India.

Akin to India, there has been  succession of empires, internal squabbling, religious tussles, regional conflicts and more.  The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan, part of the newly formed Islamic State of Pakistan. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, as well as economic neglect by the politically-dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman grew against West Pakistan, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which the Bengali people won with the support of India. After independence, the new state endured famine, natural disasters and widespread poverty, as well as political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress.

With all that, Bangladesh has not exactly been the ‘friendly neighbour’ despite having common ancestral routes and regional culture.  

Now there is news of the Bangladeshi  cabinet deciding to confer `Friends of Bangladesh Award on Colonel (retd) Ashok Tara, a retired officer of the Indian Army, for his outstanding contribution to the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.  The decision came from the regular cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.  After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Buiyan said Ashoke Tara, the then major of the Indian Army served as commander of the 14 Guard Regiment Company of Allied Force in 1971, fought at Dhaloi, Gangasagar, Brahamanbaria and Bhairab area.

With immense courage Major Ashoke freed Begum Fazilatunessa Mujib, Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Rehana, Sheik Russell from a house at Dhanmondi on December 17, 1971 where they were kept under house arrest by the Pakistani occupation force, he added.  Ashoke Tare had been honoured by the Indian Govt with gallantry award `Vir Chakra` for his contribution to the War of Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.  Fajilatunnesa Mujib was killed in a military coup along with other family members, including her husband Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,on  15 August 1975. Hasina and Rehana were visiting Germany, and therefore survived the massacre.

Last July (2011)  The highest Bangladesh award — the Bangladesh Swadhinata Sammanona (Bangladesh Freedom Honour ) — was  conferred on the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her outstanding contributions to Bangladesh's Liberation War.  The award included a 200 tola gold medal and a citation which read: “Ms. Indira Gandhi stood by the side of the people of Bangladesh from the beginning of the Liberation War despite various adversities. She provided shelter to about one crore Bangladeshi refugees. She provided courage in the Liberation War by facing different diplomatic hurdles. She played a great role in freeing Bangabandhu from Pakistani jail. Her contribution to Bangladesh's Liberation War will be remembered forever.”

These awards sure would promote bonhomie. The Partition of Bengal in 1947 left a poorly demarcated international border between India and Bangladesh (then-East Pakistan). Ownership of several villages on both sides of the de facto border  have remained disputed.  The dispute over the demarcation of the Indo-Bangladeshi border worsened due to the existence of over 190 enclaves.  One of the disputed areas was a small sliver of land near the village of Pyrdiwah which the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) had occupied since the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh.  In 2001 there was a armed conflict nearer the village of Padua (known as Pyrdiwah in India).  There were loss of lives of soldiers and thousands of civilians had to flee. There were also reports that BSF men had been tortured before being killed.   Later  Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina "expressed regrets" over the border skirmish.  Bangladesh ordered no courts martial, suspensions, or transfers of any local commanders.

Awards are welcome, but more than these, the Nation expects friendly neighbourhood and expects that terrorists are not harboured in their land.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar