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Rogue Bus Driver Wreaks Mayhem On Pune Roads

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Pune: Eight people were crushed to death and 29 injured when a rogue bus driver sped through busy streets here Wednesday, knocking down motorists, pedestrians and vehicles like in a horror movie.
The half-hour mayhem began at 8.15 a.m. when Santosh Mane, 41, used a master key to hijack a bus that had just reached Swargate Depot from Satara and drove on the wrong side of crowded roads at breakneck speed.
The driver of the hijacked bus, Santosh Hendre, and the depot’s traffic controller Ajit Limaye sprinted behind the bus. 
But the maniac Mane smashed through the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corp depot’s steel gates and took a swift wrong turn to the right into the oncoming traffic, mowing down a rickshaw and a fruit handcart. It was the start of a nightmare that shocked Maharashtra.
Dazed witnesses recalled that Mane spared no one and nothing as he drove through Golibar Maidan, near the military cantonment, East Street, Solapur Bazar, back to Golibar Maidan, Swargate and Sarasbaug.
By the time the bloodbath ended, thanks mainly to a group of people who barged into the bus and overpowered the driver, some 30 to 40 vehicles had been crushed and overturned over 25-30 km of road length.
There was blood on roads as the dead and wounded were rushed to hospitals, some screaming away in agony.
The dead included five men and three women, aged between 19 and 46 years. Police had earlier placed the number of dead at nine and the injured at two dozen.
Five of those with multiple injuries were in serious condition, an official said. “He just went berserk,” Pune Police Commissioner Meeran Borwankar said. “He went on ramming whatever vehicles were plying on the roads. People on the roads literally threw children away to avoid being crushed. The damage has been tremendous.”
Another police officer called Mane “a nutcase”, and added that most of the damaged vehicles were taxis, private cars, two-wheelers and cycles.
Borwankar added that roads at that time of the morning were crowded with school-going children and people going to work.
College student Sharif Ibrahim Kutty who witnessed the murderous run told reporters that he had never seen “anything so horrible in my life”.
”I saw him knocking down a woman, then a man. I ran after the bus. Police were also pursuing him.” 
Kutty said he saw two policemen fired at the bus tyres but missed the mark. “The bus then ran over the policemen and broke through the police barricade. On this road alone he killed eight people.”
As panic spread, police hurriedly put up barricades to block the killer bus. 
Assistant police inspector Pundalik Dhaigude, who followed Mane for nearly 30 minutes, said the driver “looked very dangerous”. 
”His face showed stress and aggression. We tried to stop him but he drove at a maddening speed on the wrong side, making it difficult for us to keep pace with him,” he said.
But Kutty disagreed. He said the driver’s face was devoid of any emotion. Mane was finally arrested near the Nilayam Talkies, thanks to some spirited citizens as well as policemen. “We have no idea why he took charge of the Satara bus,” Borwankar said.
Mane, who lived in the bus depot, had reported for duty in the morning but was told there were no spare buses. That is when he got into the bus that had come from Satara and zoomed off.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and several politicians called on the injured in hospitals and wished them speedy recovery.
-IANS

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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