Two suspected JMB operatives arrested from Bengal’s Malda district


The Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police on Tuesday morning arrested two suspected operatives of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) Bangladesh from an area near Shamsi police station of Bengal’s Malda district. The two nabbed were identified as Abdul Bari (28) and Nijamuddin Khan (28).

According to the police, Bari and Khan were looking after the recruitment and training of the newly recruited JMB members under the instructions of Salahuddin Salahein and Ejaz Ahmed, two top leaders of the outfit.

Officers described Bari and Khan as “two main organisers of the newly detected JMB’s Uttar Dinajpur module”. Both are residents of Bengal’s North Dinajpur district.

Just one day ago, STF authorities said they arrested a suspected JMB member Abul Kashem alias Kashem, who hailed from Durmut village under Mangalkot police station in Burdwan district. He was arrested from the Canal East Road in Kolkata.

STF officers said information about Abdul Bari and Nijamuddin Khan were given out by Kashem.

Bari and Khan were booked under IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the govt of India), 122 (collecting arms etc with intention of waging war against the govt of India), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war), 124A( sedition), 125 (waging war against the govt of any Asiatic power in alliance with the govt of India).

A week ago the STF arrested Ejaz Ahmed, a top JMB operative, from Gaya in Bihar in connection with the Bodh Gaya explosion during the visit of the Dalai Lama. Salahein, a Bangladeshi national, who is presently leading JMB’s pro-Al Qaeda faction, is believed to be based in India since 2014.

Bari and Khan went into hiding after the arrest of Ejaz Ahmed, said STF.

After questioning the arrested JMB operatives, the STF officers have come to know that senior operatives of the JMB were planning to meet in Kolkata shortly to finalise their strategy before escaping to somewhere in South India.

“We have seized some incriminating articles and mobile phones from the possession of Bari and Khan,” said a statement.

Only last week, 19 of the 31 people arrested in connection with the Khagragarh blast were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from six years to 10 years after they pleaded guilty in a special National Investigation Agency court in Kolkata. They were all linked with the JMB.

Nilgai shot, buried alive in Vaishali dist of Bihar


Many nilgai (antelope) were shot by hired shooters of forest department in Vaishali district of Bihar. Most nilgais died on the spot. The forest department of Vaishali district has claimed to have killed over 300 nilgai in the last four days. However, an injured nilgai met a tragic end, when it was buried alive after being pushed into the pit by a JCB machine. The video of the incident went viral and drew widespread condemnation.

On the initiative of Vaishali MLA Rajkishore Singh, with the cooperation of the state government and local administration, a shooter was called to carry out the gruesome killings, just to solve the problem of farmers who complain of their crops being destroyed by the nilgais. When the video went viral, Singh questioned the veracity of the video circulating on WhatsApp groups and termed it a “fabricated video”. However, the MLA wasn’t asked to respond to or questioned over the video, which suggests he had anticipated possible backlash and to avoid slander, tried to clear his hands.

As soon as the information of this whole matter came in, Vaishali SP Manavjit Singh Dhillon instructed the local Bhagwanpur police station to investigate the veracity of the viral video and when its authenticity came to light, sought clarification from forest department officials to take action on the people responsible for the live burial.

Meanwhile, Singh said, “This incident didn’t happen under my watch. I would not have allowed it to happen if I knew it. I had requested the DM to call the shooter and kill the Nilgais to reduce their numbers, after which forest department shooter came and shot Nilgais in many villages. The live burial is inhumane and I condemn it. Authorities will take the necessary actions.”

Jharkhand: Tata Steel deploys women engineers at Noamundi mine


Jamshedpur: Tata Steel has deployed women mining engineers at its Noamundi mine in Jharkhand in all shifts, according to a company release. The company has recruited 10 women officers from across disciplines including mining, electrical, mechanical and mineral processing, it said.

“Tata Steel is the first company in India to deploy women in all shifts in mines; and OMQ (Ore, Mines & Quarries) division becomes the first division in Tata Steel to deploy women in all shifts with effect from September 1, 2019,” the release issued here said. Earlier, Tata Steel had started two shifts at its Jamshedpur plant’s shop floor for women employees on April 1, it added.

Fifty-two women employees were deployed at its coke plant and electrical repair shopfloor in shifts ‘A’ and ‘B’ between 6 am and 10 pm through the week.

“In line with the company’s target of having 20 per cent women officers in the workforce by 2025 and the recent modifications in the law, the human resource management division and the raw material division have undertaken an initiative called ‘Women @ Mines’. 

“This initiative will focus on four aspects namely communication, amenities, recruitment of women: officers and non-officers, and Tejaswini 2.0. This follows the Central government’s decision (vide Gazette notification dated January 29, 2019) to exempt the women employment in any mine above ground and in any mine below ground from the provisions of Section 46 of the Mines Act, 1952,” the release said.

Vice President, Raw Materials, Tata Steel, Arun Misra, said, “We are extremely happy to deploy women in mines. We respect uniqueness of individuals to create a diverse and inclusive workforce by having access to a wider talent pool. We are enhancing our facilities to recruit more women in all sections of our mines.

“There is a clear business case for employing women in mines as it leads to generation of new innovative ideas and perspectives, added Misra.

The release said that all the norms stipulated by the Directorate General Of Mines Safety (DGMS) are being adhered to ensure effective deployment of women at the mines. It added that a written consent from each women employee has been obtained prior to the deployment.

Adequate facilities and safeguards regarding occupational safety, security and health of the female employees have been considered and arranged for. A slew of measures including sanitary vending machines, canteens for women, rest rooms, deployment of women in groups of not less than three in a shift, female security guards, transportation facilities, and more are being put in place to aid the process. A set of robust security measures, including GPS & CCTV monitoring, have been implemented, it said. 

Decomposed bodies of woman, daughter recovered from tank in Ranchi


The police on Monday recovered decomposed bodies of a 26-year-old woman and her five- year-old daughter from the soak pit tank of the house in which she was living as tenant in Ranchi’s Argora area, police said.

The police have registered a named FIR under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against prime suspect Samim, the deceased woman’s live-in partner.

“On information passed on by house owner Bhairow Tigga, we reached the spot and recovered the bodies of Rekha Tigga, a widow, and her daughter Priyanshi Tigga from the soak pit. It appears that the accused, in order to destroy the evidence, had thrown the bodies in pit, put bricks over them and cover the pit’s opening with the cemented slab. The bodies, which were found in almost decomposed condition, have been sent for postmortem,” said Hatia deputy superintendent of police Prabhat Ranjan Barwar.

He added that police suspect that the murders were committed between August 21 and August 22 as the deceased were seen last on August 21. A manhunt has been launched to arrest Samim who is now absconding, the DySP said.

“The woman, who originally hails from Hurhuri in Ranchi’s Ratu block, was a daily wage earner and living with her daughter in the rented premises at Uppar Kocha, Pipartoli in Argora. As per the information gathered from different sources, Samim, a mason, lived with them in the same house,” Barwar said.

According to the house owner Bhairow Tigga, who lives in a nearby separate quarter, Samim, Rekha and her daughter had been residing in his house on a monthly rent of Rs 1500 since April 28.

“On August 21, I saw her working as labourer in an under construction house in our locality. But, thereafter, I never saw her. Next day, Samim informed me that Rekha and her daughter had permanently left for their village. Two days later, Samim vacated the house. When I came here on Monday to clean the premises, I encountered a foul smell emanating from the house. We then informed the police,” Bhairow said.

Rekha’s elder sister Panchmi informed that Rekha, after the death of her husband, shifted to Ranchi’s Argora area for better upkeep of her daughter.

“Meanwhile, she befriended a mason Samim. After taking the present house on rent, both were living together like husband and wife. I had talked to her last on August 21 over phone. She disclosed about her poor health condition and her dispute with Samim. Next day, she didn’t pick up my phone despite repeated calls,” Panchmi said.

‘Poster War’ Over Nitish Kumar Being “Just Fine”, And Bihar “Sick”


PATNA: A “poster war” erupted in Bihar on Tuesday as the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal countered a recent slogan by the ruling Janata Dal-United that claimed Nitish Kumar was doing “just fine” as the chief minister, and there was no need for a leadership change ahead of the assembly polls next year.

Kyon na karen vichaar, Bihar hai bimaar (why not think for a change when Bihar is sick) screamed a poster put up by the RJD at its state headquarters on the Birchand Patel Marg in Patna. The party also came out with several verses on social media, alleging that the state was in a bad shape under Nitish Kumar and there was an urgent need for leadership change.

The RJD’s poster came up a day after people noticed that the JDU had, at its own headquarters right across the road, put up two gigantic banners proclaiming “Kyon karen vichaar, theeke to hain Nitish Kumar”. 

Roughly translated, it means “Where’s the need to think (about political alternatives) when Nitish Kumar is doing just fine”.

The slogan was the latest in a series of catchy one-liners the JDU has come up with to capture public imagination and eyeballs.

Two such older posters with slogans — Bihar mein bahar hai Nitish Kumar hai (Bihar blooms, the state wants only Nitish Kumar) and Sachcha hai, achha hai, chalo Nitish ke saath chalo (he is good, he is honest, let us go with Nitish) — can be still found inside the JDU office premises.

The move is being seen as an attempt by the JDU, a party without much organizational depth which banks heavily on the charisma of Nitish Kumar, also its national president, to suggest that despite the growing clout of ally BJP, the party still saw Mr Kumar as the NDA’s best bet in the state.

However, senior BJP leader C P Thakur, a former state party chief and a colleague of Mr Kumar in the erstwhile Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had a different take on the slogan.

“I do not know why the JDU has used the expression ‘theeke hai‘ for Nitish Kumar. It gives an impression that he has been just okay when his performance as chief minister has been truly commendable. The party has a right to coin its own slogans, but it could have come up with something better,” CP Thakur told reporters in Patna.

JDU sources said on condition of anonymity that the slogan was coined by a senior office-bearer of the party who does not have “much aptitude for political strategy”.

It was unlike the 2015 assembly polls when Prashant Kishor, now the party’s national vice-president, had got his team to come up with “Bihar mein bahar hai, Nitish Kumar hai” which, rendered to acclaimed composer Sneha Khanwalkars tune, had worked wonders for the party when it had hit a rough patch, he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, a senior BJP leader known to be close to Nitish Kumar, reminded on Twitter assembly elections in the state are more than a year away. 

“This is not the time when the NDA would like to be in the poll mode…… there is neither any doubt nor any infighting over the issue of leadership in our camp.”

Sushil Modi had, in a rare gesture, said in the state assembly during the Monsoon session last month that the ruling coalition would contest the assembly polls under Nitish Kumar’s leadership.

Several hardliners in the BJP have shown the inclination for asserting the party’s supremacy in Bihar after its phenomenal growth under the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine. 


Archaeologists may find history on the ocean floor, inside caves and buried underground. But it is also interesting to see how a living tree has shaped human history.

In the subcontinent, particularly in India, the Peepal (ficus Religiosa or Banyan) tree is known as the Bodhi or wisdom tree. Men of legend and faith, Lord Buddha and King Ashoka, have sat under it in meditation. Mahatma Gautama attained Buddhahood (enlightenment) sitting under the shade of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in India and hence it is known as the Mahabodhi tree or the tree of great awakening.

A direct linear descendant of the Mahabodhi tree was presented to President Ayub Khan when he visited Sri Lanka in December 1963. Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, then the foreign minister of Pakistan planted the sapling in a simple ceremony on January 18, 1964, in the Taxila Museum.

“We have failed to receive the boon we should have from the Mahabodhi tree here in Pakistan,” laments Dr Saifur Rehman Dar, celebrated author, archaeologist and former Director General Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) Punjab. At the time of the plantation of this living relic of Gautama Buddha in Taxila, Dar was the museum curator.

Buddhists have great reverence for all religious relics such as the bodily remains of the Buddha, left over after his cremation. They erected stupas over the remains. The Dharmarajika Stupa in Taxila is one of the eight erected by Ashoka to contain the remains of the Sakya Muni.

It is in the same tradition that the Bodhi tree is revered. Since it is a living plant, it is said to be a living connection to Mahatama Budha and the event of his finding enlightenment sitting under it. It is believed that the Buddha sat meditating under the tree for seven weeks without food or water. And after attaining enlightenment, Buddha spent seven days standing in front of the tree gazing at it with gratitude. Buddhists consider the tree as an individual in its own right and it is venerated and approached with piety.

In fact, the original Mahabodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India was killed thrice in recorded history. The first time was around 230 BC, when Tissarakkha, the jealous second wife of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great, destroyed it with poisonous Mandu Thorns.

According to the seventh-century Chinese traveller Xuanzang, who wrote of the tree in detail, the tree was again cut down in the second century BC by King Pushyamitra Sunga, a violent ruler and persecutor of Buddhist beliefs. The last time was in 600 CE by King Shashanka, when Budhism went into decline and survived only outside India in Tibet, China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Far East and Japan.

There is considerable doubt whether the present tree in the Sri Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, is really a scion of the original tree. Indeed, the present Mahabodhi tree, planted at the original location in 1881 by British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham — after the earlier one was destroyed in a storm in 1876 — likely represents the successor of a long line of substitutions.

Fortunately, Mauryan Emperor Ashoka’s son Mahindra, and a Buddhist nun Sanghamitta Maha Theri — said to be Ashoka’s daughter and accordingly called a princess — had brought the southern branch of the original Mahabodhi tree from Bodh Gaya to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka in 236 BC. According to Buddhist sources, the Buddha had resolved five things on his death bed; one being that the branch that detaches itself from the tree should be taken to Sri Lanka for propagation. This tree lives on and is called the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The Mahabodhi tree in the Taxila Museum is a plant cloned from the Sri Mahabodhi tree and is the closest authentic link to the living Buddha.

It is, however, unfortunate that the Mahabodhi tree in Taxila has been neglected and starved of sunshine. Surrounded by tall trees in the backyard of the Taxila Museum, it has grown tall and lanky like a reed. Dar suggests the DOAM should consult experts to ensure the Mahabodhi tree is nourished to good health. “It is a national treasure and will go a long way in attracting more Buddhist tourists to Taxila and Gandhara,” he says.

The current curator Taxila Museum, Mohammad Nasir Khan, says the impression that the Bodhi tree has been forgotten is incorrect. “Recently, we had the cement removed from around the Bodhi tree so that it has only soil around its roots and the trunk. A safety enclosure has also been constructed round it to keep it safe from being vandalised or accidently damaged by visitors to the museum.”

The executive director of the Centre for Culture and Development Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar believes that the DOAM should form a committee of experts to ensure care for the Mahabodhi tree in Taxila. “They should try to root cuttings from it, rather than have a significant cultural marker of Buddhism grow in isolation in the backyard of the museum,” he says. Tarar has been working to promote a revival of Gandhara art, culture and scholarship in Pakistan to attract religious tourism from abroad. He is also rallying support to use the Taxila Mahabodhi tree for scion wood (a technique used for grafting) to establish Mahabodhi trees at all the important Buddhist sites across the greater Gandhara region, starting from the Buddhist temple in Islamabad.

Terror threat looms over Gaya ahead of Pitripaksh Mela
Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Mahavihar have been in the hit list of the JMB and the terror group is said to have made at least three attempts to pull off attacks.

The Bihar and West bengal police departments have been robbed of their sleep, ahead of the fortnight-long Pitripaksh Mela beginning on September 12, as they recovered huge quantities of ammonium nitrate, timers, gelatins and wires from the rooms taken on rent in the city by terror suspects owing allegiance to Bangladesh’s Jamat-Ul-Mujahideen (JMB). Deputy superintendent of police Ghuran Mandal said electronic devices and explosives seized during raids on Friday indicated a major terror plot.

Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Mahavihar have been in the hit list of the JMB and the terror group is said to have made at least three attempts to pull off attacks. Ajaz Ahmad, the suspected India head of the Bangladesh-based terror outfit who was arrested from Gaya five days ago in a joint operation by West Bengal and Bihar police, has reportedly told interrogators about plans to stage terror attacks during religious congregations in Gaya and Bodh Gaya.

Ajaj is a suspect in Bodh Gaya serial blasts. Following Ahmad’s arrest, sleuths have been raiding suspected hideouts of terror suspects to bust sleeper cells in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Pitripaksh Mela is scheduled to be inaugurated by the chief minister on September 12. The Gaya police and the district administration have resolved to install CCTVs at key points to keep a watch. Door frame metal detectors are being installed at entry gates of the Vishnupad shrine, where every pilgrim will be scanned before entering the shrine.

Over 10 lakh pilgrims arrive here during the fortnight mela to perform rituals for the salvation of their ancestors’ souls.

Teen girl gang raped before having her head shaved and being paraded through her village


Police in India have arrested seven men in connection to the brutal gang rape and public shaming of a 15-year-old girl.

The child was allegedly attacked by a group in the Gaya district in the country’s northeastern Birah state on August 15, a police official told CNN.

She was in a relationship with one of the men arrested, telling investigators she had agreed to join him and friends for a walk.

The victim was gang raped by the men, police allege.

The next morning, her mother went to village seniors to inform them of the attack but they accused the teen of lying.

It was then that villagers shaved her head and paraded her around the community as a punishment for making “false accusations”, the girl told police.

“Out of the six accused of gang rape, three have been arrested. All four people allegedly involved in shaving her head have also been arrested,” police official Raviranjana Kumari told CNN.

The investigation was ongoing and further arrests could be made, he said.

India has been plagued by a spate of horrific and violent attacks on young girls and women over recent years, which have made international headlines.

Official figures show there were 18,862 reported cases of child sex attacks in 2016, equating to more than 50 every day.

Last week, a little girl was playing outside when she was allegedly lured away by two brothers who raped her and strangled her to death in Uttar Pradesh in India’s north.

The six-year-old’s body was allegedly hidden by the perpetrators’ mother. The brothers, aged 12 and 15, admitted to the horrific attack, local police said.

Earlier in August, a three-year-old girl was raped and beheaded after being kidnapped from a train station in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

In January, a 16-year-old girl was gang raped and murdered in the Gaya district, before being murdered. Her mutilated body was found near her home.

That incident occurred just days after the body of another girl, also 16, was found in the same area, having been raped and murdered.

Those incidents sparked public outcry and widespread demonstrations.

India’s government has introduced tougher rape laws, including the introduction of the death penalty for cases where the victim was a child.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar bats for the girl child


Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has a clear message to those who get happy only when a son is born in the family. “Beti Paida hone par bhi khush hoyiye (Be happy also when a daughter is born in the family). The government is here to take care,” he said.

Indeed, Nitish Kumar is willing to walk the talk. “The government will provide a grant of Rs 2,000 at the birth a girl child in the family. Another Rs 1,000 would be provided once the girl’s Aadhaar registration is done. It will be followed by another incentive of Rs 2,000 after completion of all immunisation procedures of the girl. This is in accordance with Mukhya Mantri Kanya Utthan Yojana (Chief minister’s scheme for development of girls),” said the Chief Minister.

The scheme, a brainchild of Nitish Kumar, is applicable to all irrespective of caste, family income or religion. In addition to this, the girls clearing intermediate examination (+2) and who are not married would get a one-time incentive of Rs 10,000 from the government.

Another Rs 10,000 will be provided as incentive to a girl if she acquires a graduation degree. Nitish Kumar’s total package announced for a girl child in Bihar is Rs 25,000. This is in addition to the raise in the government’s allotments for uniforms, cycles and sanitary napkins.

Though Nitish Kumar’s government has already approved the proposals in an earlier Cabinet decision, the Chief Minister once again drove the message across recently on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations.

Although the Chief Minister did not mention the falling sex ratio of Bihar, it is surely a cause of concern for the state. The jarring irony is that while Bihar has highest birth rate (26.4 for state against India’s average of 16.8 in urban regions to 21.8 in rural regions), the state has a declining sex ratio. Bihar’s sex ratio has gone down from 910 per 1000 males in 2011, to 900 now.

It is even worse in urban Bihar where only 865 girls are per 1,000 males. Proportionately speaking, Bihar has fewer girls than what it had a decade ago. It leads to another shocking observation: more girls are allowed to born in villages, and not in cities of Bihar, where ironically, the educated and elites stay.

Birsa airport ready for more planes


Ranchi airport will throw open six additional parking bays from next month enabling passengers to board or alight from 11 aircraft at a time, the expansion mirroring a surge in air travel that the state capital has seen in the last four years.

“We received an approval from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) this month for operating six additional parking bays at Birsa Munda Airport. We will start using these within a week in September,” Ranchi airport director Vinod Kumar Sharma told The Telegraph on Thursday.

Currently, the airport also uses two aerobridges that allow passengers to board aircraft directly from the terminal waiting area. These were introduced in 2013 when the new international terminal building was opened.

Sharma said two more aerobridges were being planned, but these would take another six months to come up.

“The work to install two more aerobridges was delayed due to technical reasons. We are in the final phase of awarding tenders for construction of aerobridges. Construction would be completed in the next six months. We hope to make these operational in 2020,” he said.

Sharma said marking and installation of lights for the additional parking bays, or apron area, had been completed in February-March. Subsequently, DGCA officials conducted an inspection. Its approval reached Ranchi earlier this month.

As of now, the apron area of Ranchi airport can accommodate three Airbus (A-320) and two 19-seater ATR planes. The new apron facility can accommodate five Airbus and one ATR plane at one time.

This means, as many as eight Airbus and three ATR planes can be parked at one time at the airport.

As per data shared by the transport department, while there were only 11 flights carrying 6 lakh passengers annually in 2014, 2018 saw 30 flights operating out of Ranchi.

The number of passengers is estimated to touch 22 lakh during 2018-19.

“With the airport witnessing increasing passenger footfall it was necessary to provide facilities for accommodating more planes. Once the new apron area functions, we expect more planes to serve Ranchi which, in turn, would lead to greater passenger flow. The new apron would make it possible for nearly 80 flights to operate from the airport in a day,” said a senior official in the Ranchi Airport.

Ranchi airport, spread over 1,568 acre, handled 6 lakh passengers in 2014-15. But the number increased to 10 lakh in 2015-16, 13 lakh in 2016-17 and 16 lakh in 2017-18.