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21 killed in accident on bridge in Howrah

Howrah, Apr 12 (ANI): At least 21 pilgrims, including 17 women, were killed and 17 injured when the van carrying them collided with a truck on a bridge in Howrah district on Friday.

The pilgrims, hailing from Ashuri Schoolmath area of South 24 Parganas district, were reportedly going to attend the "Charak" fair at Narna Shiva temple when the accident took place.

Giving details, Discrict Magistrate Vivek Kumar said the accident occurred at about 7:30 a.m, when the van rammed into a truck on Garfa bridge.

The injured have been admitted to Howrah General Hospital, where the condition of all of them was stated to be critical, Kumar added.

Senior police officials rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation. (ANI)

Modi offers to resign from CM's post Go to top

Panaji, Apr. 12 (ANI): After being battered by the Opposition and within the NDA for his "inability" to contain the communal violence in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has offered to resign.

Modi is here to take part in the two-day BJP National Executive meeting, which began on Friday. But his fate would be decided at a special meeting of the BJP senior leadership convened at 9 p.m.

The ongoing communal clashes in Gujarat and the issue of removing Modi as Gujarat chief minister have more or less overshadowed the national executive, which was originally organised to analyse and find reasons for the party's dismal performance at recently held Assembly elections.

The demand for Modi's removal gained momentum in the past few days after some of the key NDA allies also voiced worry over the way he handled the communal riots in his state.

Trinamool Congress, Janshakti Party and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), all NDA allies, had been seeking his ouster as "he failed to control the violence" which has continued for more than a month now.

On the other hand, main oposition party, the Congress has announced to launch "Modi Hatao (Remove Modi)" programme, especially after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee issued him clean chit last week. (ANI)

Godhra the original sin, PM points out Go to top

Panaji, Apr 12 (ANI): Spelling out a cause-and-effect relationship, Atal Behari Vajpayee said here on Friday that violence in Gujarat was a direct outcome of the Godhra carnage.

Addressing a public rally, he lashed out at the forces behind the train attack, issued a warning to those challenging India's secularism and asserted that his government had equal respect for all religions.

The killings in Gujarat following the train attack was equally reprehensible and all efforts were being made by intelligence agencies to trace the culprits, the Prime Minister added.

"Who are responsible for the Gujarat violence?.. Who sparked the fire? ... How did it spread?" Vajpayee asked and said the Gujarat tragedy could have been averted had the Godhra incident not occurred.

"India is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. All religions are equal and we will not allow any challenge to the country's secular fabric," he stated.

Taking a dig at the Congress for its statement that it would not try to topple the NDA government, he wondered whether he should thank the party or should tell it that "grapes are sour".

Recalling that the Congress had brought down his government in 1998 by a single vote, Vajpayee said it failed to form an alternative government and in the subsequent elections, people again voted for the NDA.(ANI)

Gujarat burns and Modi allowed to rule: SoniaGo to top

Guwahati, Apr 12 (ANI): Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday accused the Central government of allowing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to continue in office even when he had failed to contain the communal violence in the state.

The Central government sees nothing wrong in a chief minister whose law and order administration is so infected by the politics of communalism that it victimises officials who took a courageous stand against communal violence", she said in her inaugural speech at the third conference of Congress Chief Ministers here.

The fact that Gujarat continues to burn is a "most damaging assault on our secular polity. The Congress Working Committee is unequivocal in demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister who has singularly failed in discharging his constitutional obligations and responsibilities", she said.(ANI)

No mediation in Lanka, reaffirms IndiaGo to top

New Delhi, Apr 12 (ANI): The government reiterated on Friday that it would not play the role of mediator in peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The reclusive Vellupillai Prabhakaran, chief of the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Elam, had told a news conference on Wednesday that India was crucial to the success of the peace process aimed at resolving the 19-year-old ethnic conflict that has killed 64,000 people.

"The Prime Minister has expressed our position fully. We are not a part of the talks between Sri Lankan government and LTTE (Liberation of Tamil Tigers Elam) and we do not want to interfere in the process," Nirupama Rao, spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry, told reporters.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had also rejected a plea by Prabhakaran to lift a ban on the group. India outlawed the LTTE after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was blown up in 1991 at an election rally in Tamil Nadu by a woman suicide bomber and accused Prabhakaran of ordering his death.

"The request for extradition has been made. I think it has been made seven years ago in 1995 and it remains. That request is still valid," added Ms Rao.

Rajiv Gandhi, when he was the premier, had brokered an abortive peace pact between Tamil rebels and Colombo in 1987. (ANI)

Israeli admits killing "hundreds" in refugee camp Go to top

Jerusalem, Apr 12 (ANI): Changing its earlier estimate on the number of Palestinians killed in Jenin refugee camp, the Israeli army on Friday admitted that it had "apparently killed hundreds" of Palestinians in fierce fighting in the refugee camp earlier this week.

Speaking to Army Radio, Brigadier-General Ron Kitrey, the chief spokesman of army said "there were apparently hundreds of dead."

The camp witnessed the bloodiest gun-battle between Israeli soldiers and the Palestinian militants leaving hundreds of Palestinans killed.

Earlier, the Palestinians had asked the United Nations to intervene and investigate the killings of Palestinians in the camp and accused Israel of carrying out massacres.

However, Kitrey had denied that the Israeli army had carried out any massacre during its last week's offensive to root out militants in West Bank. But his estimate of hundreds of dead, revised the death toll and put it higher than the army's earlier figure of 100 Palestinian fighters' death in Jenin. (ANI)

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