Jayalalithaa warns of ban on PMK

As there is no let up to the violence in the northern districts even after the release of PMK leader S. Ramadoss, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa told the Assembly on Monday that her government would not hesitate to ban the political party that indulged in violence, created law and order problem, damaged public property and disturbed peace.

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Bus Damages

She also said that steps would be taken to recover from the PMK, the cost of the damage caused to the public properties under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.

“The government would calculate the damage and take steps to recover the amount from the PMK,” she said while replying to a special calling attention motion moved by the Opposition on the violence incidents in northern districts.

Ms Jayalalithaa said her government would not tolerate the illegal activities of the PMK and would invoke Goondas Act and National Security Act (NSA) against perpetrators of violence and their instigators.

Recalling the developments that led to the arrest of PMK leaders including Dr Ramadoss, his son and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and detention of PMK MLA Katuvetti J. Guru under NSA and the violence that followed, Ms Jayalalithaa said public properties worth crores of rupees had been destroyed in the violence unleashed by the PMK men.

Sixteen vehicles including 14 buses were burnt and a driver died of burn injuries. A driver and a passenger were killed in stone-throwing incident and 11 others were injured. A total of 853 vehicles were damaged. Moreover 120 trees were felled and another 45 trees were burnt.

“On the one hand they are claiming to plant trees under the auspicious of Pasumai Thayagam and on the other hand they are destroying them. It is a classic case of devil quoting the scriptures,” she said.

The Chief Minister said bus services were severely hit on the national and state highways during the night.

Taliban Bomb Kills at Least 20 at a Pakistan Political Rally

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Taliban bomb ripped through a crowded political rally in Pakistan’s tribal belt on Monday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 45 in the deadliest attack so far of the campaign for next Saturday’s national election.

The attack occurred in Kurram tribal region, along the border with Afghanistan, where several thousand tribesmen had gathered at a madrasa to hear Munir Khan Orakzai, a former member of Parliament. The bomb exploded just as Mr. Orakzai finished his speech and was stepping off the stage. The candidate was not injured but the bomb caused widespread devastation; one witness told The Associated Press of a “hell-like” situation with dozens of wounded people crying for help.

Unusually for such an attack, Mr. Orakzai was a candidate for the religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, which has close links to the Taliban.

In claiming responsibility for the bombing, a Taliban spokesman said that Mr. Orakzai was targeted because he had betrayed Arab jihadists who had been detained by the Pakistani Army and later ended up in American custody.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, offered an alternative explanation: that the Taliban are attacking candidates who refuse to pay protection money to prevent attacks.

Whatever the cause, the attack brought the death toll from Taliban attacks since campaigning began on April 11 to over 80 people, and underscored the militants’ determination to shape the result of the May 11 poll.

Until now, militant violence has largely focused on candidates from two secular parties: the Awami National Party, which is based in the northwest, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which dominates politics in the port city of Karachi.

The violence has overshadowed campaigning in what promises to be a historic election: the first time that a civilian government has served a full term, and handed power to another elected administration.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is the front-runner to form the next government, although he faces a stiff challenge in his home province of Punjab from the former cricketer Imran Khan.

Both Mr. Sharif and Mr. Khan have been measured in their criticism of the Taliban, and neither have suffered attack, although the caretaker government says they are also at risk.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Mr. Sharif said he believed that a military campaign was not the best way to defeat the Taliban insurgency. “I think guns and bullets are always not the answer to such problems,” he said.

Declan Walsh reported from Islamabad, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan. Read More

Three women, missing for a decade, found alive

Three women who went missing separately about a decade ago, when they were in their teens or early 20s, had been tied up but were found alive Monday in a residential area just south of downtown, and three brothers were arrested, police said.

One of those arrested is a 52-year-old man, police say. The women were being treated at the hospital. A 6-year-old also was found in the home.

One of the women, Amanda Berry, was last heard from in 2003, when she called her sister to say she was getting a ride home from the Burger King restaurant where she worked, reported the Cleveland TV station WEWS. She was to turn 17 the day after she disappeared.

Another of the women, Gina DeJesus, was 14 when she went missing on April 2, 2004. She was walking home from school.

The third woman, Michelle Knight, 32, had been missing since 2002.

Ariel Castro, the owner of the home where the women were found, has been arrested, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Live TV reports showed hundreds of people and media gathered outside the Cleveland home, where the women were found.

A recording of the 911 call reveals a frantic Berry calling for police.

“Help, I’m Amanda Berry … I need police. I’ve been kidnapped,” she says. “I’ve been missing for 10 years. I’m here and I’m free now.” She asked that police respond quickly, before Castro returned to the home.

The women were being evaluating by doctors at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. At a press conference outside the hospital, Dr. Gerald Maloney declined to go into detail about the women’s condition.

“They are safe. We are evaluating their medical needs,” Maloney said. As he spoke, a man in the crowd of onlookers shouted, “We love you, Amanda,” and the crowd cheered.

Police have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday.

In January, The Associated Press noted, a prison inmate was sentenced to 4 1/2 years after admitting he provided a false burial tip in the disappearance of Berry, who had last been seen the day before her 17th birthday. A judge in Cleveland sentenced Robert Wolford on his guilty plea to obstruction of justice, making a false report and making a false alarm.

Last summer, Wolford tipped authorities to look for Berry’s remains in a Cleveland lot. He was taken to the location, which was dug up with backhoes, the AP reported.

Two men arrested for questioning in the disappearance of DeJesus in 2004 were released from the city jail in 2006 after officers did not find her body during a search of the men’s house.

One of the men was transferred to the Cuyahoga County Jail on unrelated charges, while the other was allowed to go free, police said.

In September 2006, police acting on a tip tore up the concrete floor of the garage and used a cadaver dog to search unsuccessfully for DeJesus’ body. Investigators confiscated 19 pieces of evidence during their search but declined to comment on the significance of the items then.

No Amber Alert was issued the day DeJesus failed to return home from school in April 2004 because no one witnessed her abduction. The lack of an Amber Alert angered her father, Felix DeJesus, who said in 2006 he believed the public will listen even if the alerts become routine.

“The Amber Alert should work for any missing child,” Felix DeJesus said then. “It doesn’t have to be an abduction. Whether it’s an abduction or a runaway, a child needs to be found. We need to change this law.”

Cleveland police said then that the alerts must be reserved for cases in which danger is imminent and the public can be of help in locating the suspect and child.

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