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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Mumbai molestation victims recount horror

MUMBAI (PTI): Recounting the tale of horror, one of the victims of the New Year Day molestation case here described how the hooligans pinched and groped her, while the woman's husband narrated how he felt when around 50 people were trying to get at his wife and cousin.

In an interview to a city tabloid, she said, "I just want to get over the horror. I want to stop seeing my face on TV. When we came out of the hotel (early) on January 1, I did not sense any trouble. But when we were walking, the crowd just kept getting closer."

"They touched my butt and pinched me. They also began grabbing my cousin sister-in-law. People just watched as my husband tried to protect me," she said.

"I believe Mumbaikars are not willing to stop and help people in trouble."

Her husband told the newspaper, "We are the victims. We were at J W Mariott from 9 PM on December 31 and at around 2 AM we (he, his wife and two cousins) decided to leave (the hotel) and take a rickshaw back to hotel Royal Gardens."

"Just as we stepped out, we saw a group heading towards us. They reached us and immediately began grabbing my wife. Since we were walking against the crowd it was difficult to move ahead. But then it got worse. It seemed like the whole crowd was on my wife and my cousin," he recalled.

"Then somebody pushed all of us on the ground. It seemed like they were 50 people around...all trying to get at my wife and cousin."

The victim's husband said "my brother and I tried to fight the crowd, but they were too many. That's when some photographers started clicking us."

"All of a sudden from the crowd, there emerged a man wearing a red T-shirt who tried to help us and started shouting for the police. The cops arrived in a few minutes and the crowd thinned out," he said.

"I told the police that my wife and cousin were molested. They put us in their vehicle and took us to the Juhu police station from where we were put in an auto and we went to our hotel."

Explaining the reason for not filing a police complaint, the victim's husband said, "We could not identify any of the molesters as it happened too fast. For the record neither the police nor the J W Mariott hotel should be blamed."

"We are all based in California and I got married just a day before this horrible incident. I have been coming to Mumbai for the last five years, but this experience on New Year has changed my perception about Mumbai," he added.

"We don't want to be bothered by the media and want to enjoy whatever is left of our vacations. And yes, I want to thank the man in the red T-shirt (who helped us)," he added.

Mayawati sends feelers to actor Chiranjeevi

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NEW DELHI: Both Sonia Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu have reason to worry. Mayawati has grand plans for Andhra Pradesh.

The BSP chief is exploring a Dalit-OBC-minority-Brahmin alliance in the state before the next Lok Sabha polls. She has sent feelers to Telugu actor Chiranjeevi and Telengana Rashtra Samiti chief Chandrashekhar Rao for an electoral alliance. TRS is currently aligned with the UPA.

If the BSP-TRS-Chiranjeevi alliance fructify it would become a formidable force in the state upsetting traditional players — the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Mayawati is holding a rally in Hyderabad on January 6, while Chiranjeevi’s supporters are organising a “backward caste garjana” rally in Warangal on January 19 to lure backward castes from TDP and Congress.

Chiranjeevi, who has mass appeal across the state — akin to late NTR, is planning to launch a political outfit and an announcement to this effect may be made in February or March.

The actor belongs to the Kappu community, which is considered backward in some districts, forward in some and “other caste” in others. The Kappus constitute over 10% of the state population. The Dalits also has an equal representation. Overall, the BCs constitute over 50 per cent of the population. The proposed alliance would trigger realignment of social forces weakening the forward castes.

Six killed, 15 injured in Vijayawada temple stampede

At least six people were reportedly killed and 15 others were injured in a temple stampede at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning.

The incident occurred when a large number of devotees thronged the Durga ghat near Kanakadurga Temple to perform prayers on the occasion of 'Bhavani Deeksha'.

According to police, devotees pushed each other to move ahead, which resulted in a stampede, in which five women and a child was killed.

The injured have been admitted to the local government hospital. The condition of one injured woman is stated to be serious.

Vijayawada MP L Rajgopal and MLA Devineni Rajasekhar met the injured in the hospital.

Blaming the temple authorities for the incident, State Endowment Minister J Ratnakar Rao has ordered a departmental inquiry.

The government has announced one lakh rupees ex-gratia payment for the kin of those killed and 10,000 for each of the injured. (ANI)

City Buzz: Crude bomb found near NTR Garden

Hyderabad: A crude bomb, with about 50 grams of explosive material stuffed into it, was found near a popular tourist spot near the state secretariat in the heart of the city on Wednesday.

The bomb, kept in a tiffin box, was found in a dustbin near NTR Garden which is at a stone's throw distance from Lumbini Park which was rocked by a terror bombing four months ago.

The recovery of the bomb a day after re-opening of the popular laser show at Lumbini park sent the police into a tizzy.

City Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh said that such type of bombs were generally used in Rayalaseema region often plagued by violent clashes between rival political groups.

''We have taken up the investigation and security has been tightened further at the Secretriat and public places,'' Singh said.

A security guard at the popular tourist spot found the bomb in a dustbin on a pavement and informed the police who later defused it, police said.

Meanwhile, the bomb disposal squad said the bomb contained 50 grams explosives and cycle ball bearings.

The famous laser show in the Lumbini Park here, the scene of the deadly terror bombings on August 25 last year, reopened yesterday amid tight security measures.

Over 40 people had lost their lives in the bomb blasts at the Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat Bhandar, a popular eatery, on August 25.

Five killed in stampede at Andhra temple

Hyderabad (IANS) At least five devotees were killed and 15 others were injured in a stampede Thursday at a temple on Indirakiladri hill in Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada town, police officials said.

Those killed include four women and a child. The injured have been admitted to the government hospital in Vijayawada, about 280 km east of here.

Police said the mishap occurred around 5 a.m. during the annual Bhavani Diksha rituals at Durga Malleswari temple. More than 100,000 devotees had congregated on the hill for the last day of the rituals.

Vijayawada police commissioner C.V. Anand said the stampede occurred when thousands of devotees tried to surge towards the temple for a look at the deity.

He said police had warned the temple authorities on several occasions in the past that lack of proper arrangements could lead to a tragedy but they failed to take necessary precautions. He pointed out that the movement of devotees was limited to one road on the hill, leading to chaos during the rituals.

Vijayawada MP L. Rajagopal and legislator D. Nehru met the injured in the hospital. Nehru has announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 each to the kin of those killed and Rs.10,000 to each of the injured.

The temple near the river Krishna attracts thousands of devotees from all over Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states.

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