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Tragic picnic takes 39 lives

Thekkady: The death toll in the Thekkady boat tragedy touched 39 today, with the recovery of eight more bodies today.. A clear picture of those who have escaped is yet to emerge and rescue operations are in full swing. 37 dead bodies has been identified so far. The recovered bodies have been shifted to Kumali primary health centre for postmortem. The bodies would be then taken to Eranakulam general hospital of embalming.

Jalakanyaka, a boat owned by KTDC toppled in Thekkady reservoir on Wednesday. 76 passengers including foreign tourists were on board when the mishap occurred. Five foreigners who were in the boat are reported safe. 17 persons have been admitted in various hospitals with injuries, many of them reported to be in serious condition. It has been assumed that 30 people has survived the attack. Diving experts from Navy has been pressed into service for rescue operations. Intermittent showers have badly effected the rescue operations.

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Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor is meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday to explain his cattle class remark.

Shashi Tharoor

His meeting with the Congress President assumes significance as it would become clear whether Tharoor will stay in the Union Ministry or not.

Tharoor has been criticised over his cattle class remarks on social networking site Twitter after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government decided to launch an austerity drive and advised Union Ministers to fly economy class.

Tharoor had posted a message on Twitter that he would travel “cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows” after he took the economy class.

Some Congress leaders have been demanding Tharoor’s the resignation for the remarks.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as well as Union Rural Development Minister CP Joshi have called for Tharoor’s resignation.

Tharoor later apologised for his remark but the Congress on September 18 indicated that the party may take action against him.

“The Congress will take appropriate action at appropriate time,” said party spokesperson Manish Tewari.

However, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Tharoor’s remark a joke.

Tharoor was earlier asked to leave a five-star hotel by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. He had then also used Twitter to say that he was spending his “own savings” to stay in the hotel.

But after widespread coverage by the media and also after the government enforced austerity measures, both External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Tharoor moved out of the luxury hotels where they have been staying for the past over three months after winning their Lok Sabha elections.

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Hafiz Mohammad Saeed

India expects Pakistan to act swiftly against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the chief of the banned JuD and alleged Mumbai attack mastermind,
external affairs minister S M Krishna has said, as he prepared for a key meeting with his Pakistani counterpart here.

“India would be interested to see how Pakistan proceeds with reference to the Mumbai terror attacks. He (Saeed) was the brain behind that attack on India. So I think we expect Pakistan to act swiftly,” Krishna said, ahead of his meeting with Shah Mehmood Qureshi on September 27.

Asked about Pakistan having reportedly put Saeed under house arrest, Krishna who arrived here yesterday said, “I think there are conflicting reports. I am waiting for a fuller report of the actual position.”

He said India’s position has always been consistent that those responsible for the Mumbai attack be brought to justice.

“They will have to be dealt with and then brought to justice. I think simply that is the position India has taken and I reiterate that position.”

Krishna and Qureshi are expected to meet on the sidelines of the New York General Assembly on September 27 in the latest high-level contact between the two countries.

Foreign Secretaries of the two countries will meet on September 26 to prepare the ground for the key engagement.

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A woman convicted of assassinating former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi has begun an “indefinite” fast to demand her early release from jail.

Nalini Sriharan, who is in a prison in Tamil Nadu state, says she has been eligible for early release since 2005.

Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomb at an election rally in May 1991. India has always blamed the attack on Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sriharan was convicted for being part of the assassination squad.

She was initially given a death sentence, along with three others.

But her sentence was commuted to a life term, following a plea for clemency by Rajiv Gandhi’s widow and Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi.

She has served more than 18 years in Vellore prison. She claims she is only required to serve 14 years in prison before being entitled to premature release under Indian laws.

Sriharan began her “indefinite” fast on Monday morning, demanding that an advisory board to decide on her release be set up as soon as possible.

In 2006, the Tamil Tiger rebels expressed “regret” for the murder of Rajiv Gandhi in a move which correspondents say was a realisation by the rebels that the assassination was a huge mistake.

Last year, Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of the slain prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, met Sriharan in prison.

“I don’t believe in anger or violence and I refuse to let it overpower me. Meeting Nalini (Sriharan) was my way of coming to terms with my father’s death,” Ms Gandhi said after the meeting.

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