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India Threat Warning

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Terrorism

Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

We continue to receive reporting that terrorists plan to attack public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Terrorists may be planning attacks against Indian political and security interests. Terrorist attacks in India sometimes involve multiple, consecutive explosions. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate rather than directed against a particular target.

Following recent media reports of terrorist threats to the Cricket World Cup, Indian authorities have issued a general alert, advising security forces to remain vigilant and maintain a high state of security. The Indian authorities have put in place special security arrangements at all World Cup venues.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include tourist sites (such as the Red Fort), commercial areas, public spaces and diplomatic premises, events and places known to be frequented by foreigners, restaurants and cafes, entertainment and recreation venues, prominent government buildings (such as the Parliament), offices of political parties, places of worship, markets and shopping malls, international hotels, hotels, guest houses, public transport networks including airports, trains and railway stations, schools, religious sites, including temples (such as the Lotus and Kalkaji Temples), pilgrimages and festivals. Attacks have included explosions at market places, sporting events, local courts, a cinema and local transport networks. These risks apply in all of India’s cities and tourist centres.

The Indian Government has in the past issued public alert warnings about possible terrorist attacks. You should take such alert warnings seriously and avoid any areas identified as a possible target of attack. Most recently, on 28 December 2010, the Indian Government issued a nationwide security alert warning of possible terrorist activity in major Indian cities over the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

Major secular and religious holidays and periods of religious significance, such as Ramadan, Eid Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack. You should also be vigilant in the lead up to and on days of national significance, such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August), and other notable anniversaries as militants have in the past marked such occasions with attacks.

Terrorists are active in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly during the summer months. In the past, tourist buses and groups have been targeted. The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath Shrine, conducted from June to August, has been the target of terrorist attack in the past. See also Civil Unrest/Political Tension (below).

Maoist insurgents (or ‘Naxalites’) are primarily active in Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Orissa, primarily targeting the Indian Government and security forces, infrastructure and government buildings. Civilians have been killed and injured in suspected Naxalite attacks. Naxals may also call strikes in local areas affecting rail and road transport networks. On 6 April 2010 Maoist insurgents reportedly killed 76 members of the security forces in an ambush in Chhattisgarh state. On 29 June 2010 a further 26 members of the security forces were reportedly killed by insurgents in the same area. Naxals were thought to be responsible for derailing a train in West Bengal on 28 May 2010 that killed 150 people and injured a number of others. Visitors to these areas should monitor the local media and remain vigilant.

Terrorist attacks have also occurred in the state of Rajasthan; in Ahmedabad in Gujarat; outside a market in Alipurdar, West Bengal; and in Chhattisgarh.

Recent incidents of terrorism include:

On 19 September 2010, two foreign nationals were injured in a shooting incident at the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi.

On 17 April 2010 two explosions outside a cricket stadium immediately prior to the commencement of an Indian Premier League match in Bangalore injured eight members of the security forces.

On 13 February 2010, a bomb exploded at the German Bakery in the Koregaon Park area of Pune, 100km south-east of Mumbai. Sixteen people, including three foreigners, were killed and 70 were injured. The bakery is well-known and popular with Westerners.

In November 2008 more than 170 people, including two Australians, were killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting places frequented by foreigners in Mumbai. The targets included two luxury hotels, the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace; a Jewish centre; the Victoria Terminus railway station; a hospital and a cafe.

In October 2008, a series of explosions occurred in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, including Guwahati. Over 70 people were killed and hundreds injured.
In September 2008 five explosions occurred in New Delhi, killing 24 people and injuring almost 100.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension

Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Communal violence has in the past claimed a significant number of lives, Australians could be caught up in attacks directed at others. You should avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are being held while in India as they may become violent. You should be aware that international events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India.

Australians are urged to monitor international and local media for information concerning your safety and security and to follow the instructions of local authorities. You should obey any curfews imposed by the authorities in response to civil unrest.

There have been violent protests in the State of Andhra Pradesh in relation to the proposed formation of a separate state of ‘Telangana’. Further protests are possible. Australians are urged to avoid any protests, to monitor developments in the state through international and local media, and to follow any instructions given by authorities.

Outbreaks of anti-Christian violence have taken place in India. Religious missionary activity may attract some resentment. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Orissa.

Jammu and Kashmir: We advise you not to travel to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (north India), other than to the Ladakh region via Manali, or by air to the region’s main city of Leh, due to frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations. Attacks have targeted tourists and tourist buses. Foreigners have been kidnapped in Kashmir. See under Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate for information on recent flash floods in the Ladakh region.

There is an ongoing dispute between India and neighbouring Pakistan regarding Jammu and Kashmir. Serious security problems remain in the capital Srinagar and other parts of the state.

Continuing civil unrest, attacks and violent demonstrations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a large number of deaths, with more than 100 people reported to have been killed since June 2010. The arrest, detention or death of those involved in protests could become catalysts for further violence. Curfews can be imposed in the Kashmir Valley at short notice, resulting in restrictions on movement, disruption to road transport and suspension of flights in and out of the area.

Borders with Pakistan: We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (northern and western India), other than at the international border crossing at Atari, India and Wagah, Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence at the border. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border.

North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution. Armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism occur frequently in these states. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings. There is also a risk from insurgent groups in rural areas of these states.

Public transport, including buses, trains and railways, police stations and markets have been targeted in terrorist attacks in the north-east, including in Karbi Angalong and Guwahati, the largest city in Assam. On 8 and 9 November 2010, a series of attacks across Assam killed 23 people, including at markets and on an inter-district bus. In April 2009, a series of bomb attacks in Guwahati killed six people and injured over 20. In late October 2008, a series of explosions in Assam, including in Guwahati, killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.

Crime

Women travellers, especially when alone, often receive unwanted attention and have been sexually harassed and assaulted. There have been a number of sexual offences reported against foreign women, including in Delhi and Goa. Women should avoid walking alone at night in less populous and unlit areas, including city streets, village lanes and beaches.

Travellers staying on houseboats in Kashmir have been intimidated and harassed by houseboat employees. There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious cults and their leaders in India.

Petty theft is common in crowded areas such as markets, airports and bus and railway stations. There have been cases where property has been stolen from travellers on overnight or long-distance trains. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery.

Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after consuming ‘spiked’ drinks or food. Incidents of tourists being robbed and assaulted while riding in taxis and rickshaws have been reported. Prepaid taxi services are generally considered the safest alternative. Taxis already carrying passengers should be avoided.

Some travellers have been intimidated or tricked into buying overpriced items after accepting unsolicited offers of assistance, particularly help with shopping for jewellery, gems and carpets.

Hikers have been attacked and have disappeared in the Kulu/Manali district in Himachal Pradesh, particularly on more remote trekking routes. Hikers are strongly urged not to hike alone and to obtain detailed information in advance about proposed hiking routes. Australians should register their presence with the local police and online with us.

In parts of India, religious missionary activity may attract some resentment. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Orissa.

Local Travel

Touts are often found at airports, railway stations and bus stations and may use aggressive tactics to persuade travellers to buy tickets on tours. They may not have any connection to the relevant commercial service providers.

Travelling by road in India can be dangerous due to poorly maintained and congested roads. Accidents are commonplace. Roads are often shared with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock and are particularly dangerous at night due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting. Local driving practices are often undisciplined and aggressive with poorly maintained vehicles. If a vehicle hits a pedestrian or cow, the occupants are at risk of being attacked or becoming victims of extortion. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.

To drive in India, you must have either a valid Indian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit together with an Australian driving licence. An Australian licence alone is not sufficient.

Motorcycle riders must wear helmets. If you intend to ride a motorcycle, you should check that your travel insurance policy covers motorcycle riding.

Bus services are often overcrowded and drivers may lack adequate training.

Delays in travel can be expected throughout India due to additional security measures, especially in the lead up to and on days of national significance such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August).

Standards maintained by transport services and tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be comparable to those in Australia. Check operators’ credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.

You may need to obtain permission from the Indian authorities to visit certain parts of the country, particularly in the northeast. Permits are generally required for Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu District and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal), parts of Rajasthan adjacent to the international border, the Tibetan settlements between Hunsar and Madikeri in Karnataka, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are severe penalties for entering a protected or restricted area without prior permission. Indian authorities generally require four weeks to process permit applications. You should seek advice from the nearest Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate; or the Ministry of Home Affairs, (Foreigners Division) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi.

Travellers should exercise caution while visiting Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, South India, as the restricted area surrounding the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam, is nearby and may not be clearly marked.

Fog often affects northern India, particularly during December and January, and may delay air and rail travel, and may make road travel more dangerous.

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of India. See our travel advice on travelling by sea for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues weekly piracy reports on its website. Tourist boats and other small commercial craft may not carry life preserving/saving equipment.

Airline Safety

There are concerns about the safety and maintenance standards of commercial helicopters operating in the north-eastern states of India.

For further information, please refer to our Aviation Safety and Security travel bulletin.

Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate

Flash floods in August 2010 in the Leh area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir caused large scale destruction. Reconstruction is ongoing and some roads remain closed. Shops, banks and other commercial establishments are operational. The main hospital in Leh is operating with limited capacity. Travellers who develop serious medical conditions in the area would be likely to require evacuation by air to Chandigarh or New Delhi. You should seek advice from local authorities on travelling conditions before entering affected areas around Leh.

Annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north and east, and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south. In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after the water recedes. Transport and communication infrastructure can also be affected. If you are travelling during the monsoon season, you should contact your tour operators to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

Parts of India are in active seismic zones and are subject to earthquakes. Information on volcanic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. Landslides and flooding occur in the monsoon season (from June to October) and may disrupt essential services, such as power, water and transport.

Coastal and some inland areas of India are vulnerable to cyclones which can cause coastal storm surges. You can obtain up to date advice on cyclone activity from the Indian Meteorological Department.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.

Money and Valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers’ cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers’ cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers’ cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don’t carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passport.

For Parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling Parents brochure.

If you are planning on placing your children in schools or child care facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or child care facilities in Australia.

Ideas on how to select childcare providers are available from the smartraveller Children’s Issues page, Child Wise and the National Childcare Accreditation Council.

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Written by rohitkumarsviews

March 14, 2011 at 8:24 am

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Tainted IV fluid ‘kills 13 pregnant women’ in India

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Health authorities in India’s Rajasthan state are investigating allegations that 13 pregnant women died after they were given infected intravenous (IV) fluids at a government hospital.


Tens of thousands of women die in India annually during pregnancy

All the deaths were reported in Jodhpur city over the past 10 days.

Laboratory tests had confirmed that IV fluids supplied by a local company were “tainted”, officials said.

A police case has been registered and an investigation has begun, they said.

“The women died after severe haemorrhaging and we believe the most likely cause might be an infection after they were administered tainted IV fluids,” Umaid Hospital administrator Narendra told the BBC.

“During lab tests, we found three batches of glucose which were tainted. We have lodged a complaint with the police and strict action will be taken against the manufacturers,” he said.

India accounts for the highest number of maternal deaths in the world with tens of thousands of women dying every year due to pregnancy-related problems.

Campaigners say most of the deaths are needless and could easily be prevented if more care and attention was paid to their treatment.

Where did it all go wrong? India wonders…

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By Amit Baruah

Not very long ago, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could do no wrong – or so it seemed.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday, hoping it would restore confidence in his beleaguered government

Long considered a man of unimpeachable integrity, Mr Singh coasted to a second term as the prime minister of the world’s second most populous nation in May last year.

From 145 seats in the lower house of parliament, Lok Sabha, in 2004, his Congress party increased its share of seats to 206 in the May 2009 polls.

By current Indian electoral standards, it was an impressive performance.

With the opposition in disarray, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government appeared to be on a roll.

An unshakeable understanding between Mr Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi ensured political stability in the country. Frequent meetings between the two suggested a neat division of responsibility between party and government.

‘Mind-boggling’

In the past few months, the personal equation may have continued, but things have begun going horribly wrong for the Congress-led coalition.


Regular protests by Telangana activists are just one of the government’s worries at the moment

Inflation, corruption scandals, a massive and ongoing agitation for a separate state of Telangana in southern India, apparent favours in the allocation of land, the abuse of discretionary powers by state leaders: everything seemed to go wrong at the same time for Mr Singh and his government.

A spate of court cases has given the government a headache.

The Supreme Court made some sharp observations of official decisions in what has come to be known as the 2G scandal – where the government is said to have incurred losses of billions of dollars in the sale of mobile phone spectrum.

And on Wednesday, hearing a case of unaccounted money being held by Indians in foreign banks, the court criticised the coalition for its reluctance to provide more information.

“It is a pure and simple theft of national money,” said Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar. “We are talking about mind-boggling crime. We are not on the niceties of treaties.”

Such comments have become a near-daily affair for the government in one case or the other.

And so far it has not been able to come up with convincing answers.

Government ‘rudderless’

In what the Indian media has dismissed as a lame effort to energise his government, Mr Singh changed the portfolios of as many as 36 ministers on Wednesday, terming it a “minor reshuffle” and promising a more “expansive exercise” in the next few months.

But analysts believe that this may not help the image of the government as a performing entity.

Neena Vyas, associate editor of The Hindu newspaper, told the BBC: “More important is whether the government is able to break the logjam with the opposition, which prevented parliament from conducting any business in the recent session of parliament.”

Ms Vyas was referring to the impasse in parliament, in which all sections of an often-divided opposition came together to demand a parliamentary inquiry into the 2G scandal.

Several officials who chose to remain anonymous told this writer that a sense of paralysis had gripped the government.

“No-one wants to take decisions in such an environment where everything is suddenly under question. The government appears rudderless,” one of them said.

“It’s sad, but this is true,” confirmed a junior minister in Mr Singh’s government, who told me he believed the prime minister had been extremely hurt by the personal allegations levelled against him by some opposition leaders.

Challenges ahead

It is an open question whether the reshuffle carried out by Mr Singh will mean anything in real terms.

There also appear to be divergences on key issues like a new Food Security Bill between the government and the National Advisory Council, a powerful lobby group within the establishment headed by Mrs Gandhi.

Mrs Gandhi has said publicly there should be “no tolerance” for corruption or misconduct.

At a Congress party conference in December, she suggested fast-tracking corruption cases against public servants, providing full transparency in public procurements and contracts, and reviewing the discretionary powers of state chief ministers.

She also called for an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources.

Analysts are comparing Mr Singh’s second tenure to the political crisis, linked to a corruption scandal, that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi faced back in the mid-1980s, despite having a huge majority in parliament.

Eventually, Mr Gandhi lost the 1989 elections and a motley coalition of parties took power.

While there are similarities between then and now, Mr Singh and Mrs Gandhi still have the opportunity to retrieve lost ground.

A lot will depend on whether or not the government can check spiralling food inflation. Also, whether the Congress and its allies are able to blunt the opposition attack during next month’s budget session of parliament will be critical.

Mr Singh and his government still have a little over three years to go before the May 2014 elections.

But the prime minister, Mrs Gandhi and the government have a tough job ahead if they fancy a return to power in Delhi.

Advani: bring back black money stashed away abroad

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MUMBAI: Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Sunday welcomed the Supreme Court’s move to make public the details of black money stashed away abroad by Indians.


Senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani at the ‘Mahasangram’ rally in Mumbai on Sunday. Others in the photograph are, from left, JD (U) president Sharad Yadav, BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray.

Speaking at the Mahasangram rally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) against corruption and price rise here, he said, the Supreme Court pulled up Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam and asked him why the government could not divulge the details of those who had kept black money abroad.

Mr. Advani said that he would appeal to the court to take the steps on this front to a logical conclusion. The Indian government must ensure that all the money abroad was brought back and it must punish the people involved and make special laws, if necessary on this issue. He called on the Congress which had belittled him when he raised key questions on black money and said it must reply to NDA’s letter on this issue and called the party to account.

This had happened in other countries, the U.S. and Germany got back money and there was a law on this subject, he said. Linking the issue of black money in foreign banks to corruption and scams, Mr. Advani said this was the key issue related to corruption.

“In 2009 I said black money by those who have earned it through nefarious means, is kept in countries like Switzerland, where banking norms allow having secret accounts and no one will even ask you. Banking secrecy laws are there in many countries. Now there is a chance, the U.S., Germany felt that their money should return to their countries during the time of the economic slowdown. The United Nations passed a Convention on corruption and now laws are being drafted for the repatriation of money,” he pointed out. “When NDA raised the issue, the Congress reacted by saying no country will change laws for us, how will they give us back the money and they made fun of me,” he added.

Before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had created a task force, and Vaidyanathan who was a member, gave examples of how much money was stashed in foreign banks. Global Financial Integrity, an international group published a small booklet and estimated that Indian money abroad at Rs. 20.85 lakh crore, Mr. Advani said.

The NDA rally on corruption and scams came down heavily on the Congress and the Maharashtra government. BJP president Nitin Gadkari, said this was a government which looted its people by making laws to suit them. For instance, for the Commonwealth Games, there was a rule that contractors had to have previous experience with such games and thus all the Indian contractors were ruled out.

Suicide by farmers

He said lakhs of farmers have committed suicide, and there were reports which said that in India 70 per cent of the people spend less than Rs. 20 a day. On the one hand, while Mr. Pawar was Agriculture Minister, foodgrains were rotting, there was no storage facility, gas prices were spiraling, he said.

Calling on the Congress to reply to all allegations of corruption, Mr. Gadkari said that he had all the evidence of Win Chaddha’s son’s accounts, and also proof that Quattrochi had deep relations with the Gandhis. He also had information on Mr. Quattrochi’s bank accounts but refused to divulge more details.

He also reiterated the NDA’s demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into 2G scam and asked the Congress “what is wrong thing we have done by asking for a JPC?” The Congress was afraid because their faces were already blackened and they were afraid that more scams would spill out. Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav said this was a fight for justice. He said a majority of the parties wanted a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum and the Commonwealth Games scam, even the Congress allies were game, but the Congress with 206 seats was not relenting. “Even during the meeting with Pranab Mukherjee all of us had agreed to the JPC probe from 1998. It is the Congress which by its refusal has put a lock on Parliament,” he said.

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said, the Congress and its allies had no shame. He said “an economist heads the country and a farmer’s son is the Agriculture Minister. Yet farmers are committing suicide and prices are going out of control.”

Referring to the Adarsh Society, he said, while the Environment Minister suggested that the building be demolished, the question of the Lavasa remained to be seen. Mr. Sharad Pawar’s ‘connections’ with the Lavasa implied that little was said about it, he alleged. He dared the Environment Ministry not to clear the Lavasa. If the Adarsh was not demolished by the government then common people would take the law into their hands, he warned.

The Congress wanted to target Hindutvawadis as terrorists, said Mr. Thackeray. “Action must be taken against whoever is against the State. But why give a colour to terrorism,” he asked. How did Aseemanand’s confession came to the press and Digvijay Singh first, he wondered.