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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Accusation levelled against Muslim women body chief
Lucknow, February 2
The first anniversary function to mark the establishment of the All- India Muslim Women Personal Law Board took a dramatic turn today when the brother of a survivor took hold of the mike and accused the board chairperson Shaista Ambar of forcing a compromise on his sister, reportedly after accepting money from her in-laws family.

India, Israel to develop long-range Barak defence system
New Delhi, February 2
India and Israel have worked out an agreement to develop and produce the long-range Barak air defence system for both the Indian and the Israeli militaries.

Trade unions to protest against Clemenceau
New Delhi, February 2
Leading trade unions of the country today announced their decision to launch a joint agitation to stop the entry of decommissioned French aircraft carrier Clemenceau into the Indian waters.
Mr P.K. Ganguly of CITU (centre) addresses a press conference to announce the launch of an agitation to stop the entry of French decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau, as H. Mahadevan of the AITUC (left) and D. Thankappan of the NTUI look on in New Delhi on Thursday. Mr P.K. Ganguly of CITU (centre) addresses a press conference to announce the launch of an agitation to stop the entry of French decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau, as H. Mahadevan of the AITUC (left) and D. Thankappan of the NTUI look on in New Delhi on Thursday. — AFP photo






EARLIER STORIES

 

HC seeks verdicts on Sonia’s citizenship
New Delhi, February 2
The Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to place on record the precise rulings of the Supreme Court as well as its own which upheld the grant of citizenship to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Advani, Jaswant to stay as Oppn leaders: Rajnath
New Delhi, February 2
BJP President Rajnath Singh today categorically ruled out removing either Mr L K Advani or Mr Jaswant Singh as Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, even as he said the general elections were too far to project anyone as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Govt to allow direct offsets in defence acquisitions
New Delhi, February 2
In a major announcement, the government said today that only direct offsets related to the defence industry would be allowed and would encompass activities like co-development, co-production, joint ventures and transfer of technology for maintenance and upgrades as also export of defence-related products developed indigenously.

Lalu to vacate CM's residence today
Patna, February 2
The most famous former Chief Minister couple of the country, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ms Rabri Devi, will finally move out of 1 Aney Marg tomorrow along with other family members to their new residence at 10 Circular Road after performing puja on the auspicious occasion of Basant Panchami.

HC stays arrest of Daya Nayak
Mumbai, February 2
The Bombay High Court came to the aid of Mumbai police Sub-Inspector Daya Nayak and his associates shortly after a special court today rejected his plea for anticipatory bail. On a plea by Nayak, the court stayed the arrests till tomorrow.

Opinions page: The Dirty Harry of Mumbai

Cong turns attention to Uttaranchal imbroglio
New Delhi, February 2
Having got the long-pending Cabinet reshuffle out of the way, the Congress leadership has now turned its attention to the troubled state of Uttaranchal where its Chief Minister N D Tiwari wants to pass the baton on to a new person.

Britain keen on joint ventures with Indian firms
New Delhi, February 2
Britain yesterday said it was opening up its defence sector market for the Indian companies and that it was also in negotiations with the Navy for the sale of up to eight second-hand Sea Harrier jets for the Indian Armed Forces to maintain its force levels.

N-pact should not fizzle out: US trade body
New Delhi, February 2
Any failure on the part of the US Administration to implement its civil nuclear agreement with India would represent an “unfortunate missed opportunity”, Mr Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council, said here today.

Expressway to Patna Sahib planned
Patna, February 2
Soon after its plans to include Sri Harmandar Sahib (Patna Sahib) in the proposed religious tourist circuit in Bihar, the NDA government is reportedly contemplating a four-lane, high-speed road link to Patna Sahib which is the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh. Sources in the Patna Regional Development Authority said the project envisaged a cost of Rs 12.30 crore.

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Accusation levelled against Muslim women body chief
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 2
The first anniversary function to mark the establishment of the All- India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) took a dramatic turn today when the brother of a survivor took hold of the mike and accused the board chairperson Shaista Ambar of forcing a compromise on his sister, reportedly after accepting money from her in-laws family.

As soon as Shaista Ambar, mentioned the case of Shazia (name changed), who she hoped would soon return to her in-laws family, a visibly agitated brother and sister duo, who had come all the way from Usia village in Ghazipur district, decided to walk out.

Shamshad, an AMU graduate and brother of Shazia, told The Tribune that he had not come all the way taking a loan of Rs 2,000 to settle for a compromise. “I want justice for my sister so that no man ever dares to do what has been done to my sister”, he said before leaving the venue.

Shazia (27) was married into a seemingly respectable family of Bahuvra village in Ghazipur district to a subedar in the Army, who remained a visiting husband. She lived in a joint family with her mother-in-law, three brothers-in-law, their wives, and children.

She was aghast to learn that her eldest brother-in-law, an advocate and father of three sons, had divorced his wife without a cause and then had forced Shazia’s husband do a "halala" with his wife, before remarrying her again. That was Shazia’s husband’s first marriage. Later, he married and divorced another girl from the village before he married Shazia.

"Halala" is a custom prescribed in the Quran ostensibly to make divorce difficult. Under this, the divorced wife has to marry another man, consummate the marriage, take a divorce, spend a period of iddat (three months and 10 days) and only then can she technically remarry her former husband.

After two years, the second brother-in-law followed suit and his wife had to undergo "halala" with the husband of their sister before she was remarried to the former husband. Both women suffered in silence and had no choice in the matter. Neither did the old mother- in-law could do anything to help, a sobbing Shazia told this reporter.

According to Shazia, as she remained the only wife in the family of three brothers who had not suffered a "halala", she was under tremendous pressure. Her brothers-in-law forced her husband to divorce her on October 28 last, with the promise to take her back if she agreed to undergo "halala" with one of them.

When I refused to be part of their perverted plan, they badly beaten me up and threw me out of the house in the middle of the night, she said.

Somehow with the help of a neighbour, she managed to reach the safety of her natal home. A Class X pass girl, Shazia told her family that she was ready to do anything as long as they did not force her to return to that depraved family.

Her brother said when they, along with a several village elders visited her in-laws' family to discuss the matter, the entire family disappeared and refused to speak.

The brother is prepared to take on a long legal battle. On February 4, Shazia is to record her statement before the Ghazipur Magistrate under Section 164 of the Cr PC.

While Shaista Ambar later told the press that the woman’s family had wanted a compromise, both Shazia and her brother vehemently denied this.

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India, Israel to develop long-range Barak
defence system

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
India and Israel have worked out an agreement to develop and produce the long-range Barak air defence system for both the Indian and the Israeli militaries.

An agreement to this effect was signed between Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad and the Israeli Aircraft Industries. The pact is based on joint investment by both the companies to develop and manufacture unspecified numbers of Barak systems.

According to defensenews.com, the initial co-development funding is about $ 350 million, of which IAI will finance 50 per cent, for the next five years, a senior scientist of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said. Additional funding will be infused by both parties as needed.

Israel also has projected some requirements for long-range Barak air defense systems, and it can source missiles and other systems from India, he said.

The agreement paves the way to meet the immediate requirements of the Indian Navy, the scientist said. Under this agreement, the DRDL and IAI will develop six long-range Barak systems for India’s stealth warships. The Navy is procuring three such warships from Russia, and the remaining will be built by the state-owned Mazagon Docks.

DRDO chief M. Natrajan said yesterday that he would gladly announce any major joint development program allowed by the government, but would neither confirm nor deny the Barak agreement with the Israeli company. Joseph Fishman, IAI’s acting corporate vice-president for marketing and business development, said IAI was not authorised to make statements on defense programs under a confidential agreement with its Indian customers, but said that IAI was not averse to joint development programs with India.

A senior Indian Defence Ministry official said there would be a transformation in the requirements of air defense systems for the three Indian military services. Based on these projections and the high cost of air defense systems, the ministry has approved the initiatives under which Indian state-owned agencies can forge joint co-development and co-production ventures with foreign companies because the technology will remain in India.

The Army and Air Force also have projected requirements for long-range air defense systems for a credible nationwide command-and-control structure. The Navy, as a policy, has decided that in the future it will only mount long-range air defense systems and surface-to-air missile systems on warships that are under construction or yet to be built.

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Trade unions to protest against Clemenceau
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
Leading trade unions of the country today announced their decision to launch a joint agitation to stop the entry of decommissioned French aircraft carrier Clemenceau into the Indian waters.

Though the exact date of holding a demonstration has not yet been decided by the unions, Deputy General Secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) H. Mahadevan said it would most probably be held at the French Embassy, some time during the French President's visit to India on February 19.

"The way the French Government has been misleading the Indian authorities about the amount of asbestos and other toxic substances present in the structure of Clemenceau is abdominal," P.K. Ganguly of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) told mediapersons here today.

He was joined by D. Thankappan of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) and columnist Praful Bidwai , who not only criticised the French Government's stand but also raised doubts on whether the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) would give recommendations, barring the entry of the toxic ship in India, to the Supreme Court on February 6.

The specific agenda of the SCMC's meeting in Chennai is to draft its final recommendations on the fate of the controversial ship and present them to the Supreme Court.

On why they did not trust the SCMC to take a pro-environmentalists view, Mr Bidwai said "Given the inconsistent position of the SCMC vis-ŕ-vis ship breaking and its tendency to succumb to pressures from the MoEF, it is necessary that the Prime Minister acts with immediacy and not allow India to become a dumping ground of the west".

The trade unions had also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 14, urging him to intervene in the matter. They also met the Prime Minister, along with CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat, on January 18 and requested him to take up the matter with the Environment Ministry.

Mr Ganguly says that the past record of the ministry also does not inspire confidence " In a similar matter earlier, the MoEF had argued and got a permission from the SCMC to allow an illegal ship from Denmark "Riky' for dismantling at Alang despite the Danish Environment Minister requesting India's cooperation to return the ship back to Denmark for decontamination prior to dismantling at Alang," he said.

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HC seeks verdicts on Sonia’s citizenship
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 2
The Delhi High Court today directed the Centre to place on record the precise rulings of the Supreme Court as well as its own which upheld the grant of citizenship to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The grant of Indian citizenship to Sonia Gandhi has been challenged on the ground that she still holds the Italian citizenship which is a disqualification to acquire the citizenship of India.

A Bench of Mr Justice Vijender Jain and Mr Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued the direction to the government while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL).

The PIL has questioned the procedure followed by the Home Ministry in granting the citizenship to her on April 30, 1983.

The direction was issued after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Centre, contended that the apex court and the Delhi High Court had upheld the grant of citizenship to Sonia Gandhi.

The PIL, filed by Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM), has questioned the grant of citizenship to Sonia Gandhi on the ground that according to the Italian laws, a person born in that country never forfeits its citizenship and the Indian Constituion and Citizenship Act does not provide for the grant of citizenship to a person of foreign origin unless he/she has renounced the citizenship of the country of his/her birth.

The government counsel said the petition was “politically motivated” as the Supreme Court, in its judgment rejecting an election petition against Sonia Gandhi and the Delhi High Court in its verdict in April last year, had upheld her citizenship.

Mr Subramaniam said RMM’s petition on the issue had earlier been rejected by the court but it had again filed a PIL with “vested interest and sole intention to embarrass the Government”, hence it deserved to be dismissed.

In view of the submissions made by the ASG, the Bench directed him to place on record the judgments of the apex court as well as of the Delhi High Court by March 8 when the PIL would be taken up for further hearing.

During earlier hearings, senior advocate P. N. Lekhi, appearing for RMM, had questioned the stand of the government that the apex court had decided the issue of Sonia’s citizenship.

He claimed that while deciding an election petition against her, the procedure for the grant of citizenship to her had not been decided by the Supreme Court.

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Advani, Jaswant to stay as Oppn leaders: Rajnath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
BJP President Rajnath Singh today categorically ruled out removing either Mr L K Advani or Mr Jaswant Singh as Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, even as he said the general elections were too far to project anyone as the party’s prime ministerial candidate. “Mr Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh are Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, and they will continue to be so,” the BJP chief said after chairing a meeting of the newly constituted office-bearers here.

While some party leaders had raised a question mark on Mr Advani’s continuation with many of his decisions in Parliament, including the stand taken on the cash-for-query scam coming in for public criticism, Mr Jaswant Singh’s job was said to be under threat with another Thakur leader taking over as party President.

Mr Jaswant Singh’s pilgrimage to Pakistan, particularly his proposed visit to Jinnah’s mausoleum in Karachi, too, has come in for criticism among hardcore Hindutva elements in the party.

Asked whether Mr Advani would be the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha polls, Mr Singh said, “2009 is far off and we will decide when the elections are round the corner”.

Taking strong exception to Prime Minister’s remarks on Mr Advani yesterday, the BJP chief said it was an unsuccessful attempt by Dr Manmohan Singh to hide his own weaknesses. He said the Prime Minister had publicly admitted that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had an influence on his government that vindicated the BJP’s stand that there were two centres of power in the government.

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Govt to allow direct offsets in defence acquisitions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
In a major announcement, the government said today that only direct offsets related to the defence industry would be allowed and would encompass activities like co-development, co-production, joint ventures and transfer of technology for maintenance and upgrades as also export of defence-related products developed indigenously.

This was stated by Mr S. Banerjee, Director-General (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence, in his keynote address at the Defence Industry Summit at the Defexpo here.

Allaying the apprehension of the Indian industry and international players, Mr Banerjee said the offset policy, which was part of the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) clearly mentioned that vendors would be at liberty to select their Indian partners from a list that would include both public and selected private sector companies.

It would be appropriate to state here that the Indian private sector companies would have a major role in fulfilling the offset obligations of defence contracts, he said.

The government was also contemplating making 30 per cent offsets on all purchases mandatory after “some experience is gained in implementing offsets,” he said. Under the present system, 30 per cent offsets are mandatory on contracts valued in excess of Rs 300 crore.

The Director-General of Acquisitions said as regards their concern on a monitoring mechanism, the government was contemplating setting up a separate organisation for facilitating and coordinating issues related to offsets.

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Lalu to vacate CM's residence today
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 2
The most famous former Chief Minister couple of the country, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ms Rabri Devi, will finally move out of 1 Aney Marg tomorrow along with other family members to their new residence at 10 Circular Road after performing puja on the auspicious occasion of Basant Panchami.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Yadav admitted that Mr Nitish Kumar, who could not yet enter the official residence of the Chief Minister even after the NDA completed two months in office, did not pressurise him to vacate the same.

But the decision by Lalu and Rabri to finally move out of the 1 Aney Marg tomorrow could perhaps be viewed as a final retreat by them after the RJD-led alliance was defeated in the October-November polls by the NDA.

Even though the NDA had formed the government on November 23 and the "Kharmas" (inauspicious month) going by the Hindu calendar actually began on December 15, Mr Yadav did not vacate the Aney Marg house on the pretext of "Kharmas" during the said period too.

The major concern for Mr and Ms Yadav was to accommodate over 200 cows and buffaloes, which were now being shifted to a newly constructed cowshed at Danapur.

Ironically, the same cowshed which was inside the Aney Marg for the past 15 years, now has landed Mr Yadav in trouble after the Patna High Court recently, following a PIL, had asked the state Advocate-General to inform whether Chief Minister's official residence was used for commercial purposes by selling milk and other related products during the RJD rule.

For him and Ms Rabri Devi it is finally a bag full of both "sweet" and "bitter" memories when they finally move out from the Aney Marg tomorrow.

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HC stays arrest of Daya Nayak
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 2
The Bombay High Court came to the aid of Mumbai police Sub-Inspector Daya Nayak and his associates shortly after a special court today rejected his plea for anticipatory bail. On a plea by Nayak, the court stayed the arrests till tomorrow.

Earlier today, a special court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Daya Nayak, his wife, Komal, and associate, Rajendra Padte. While the police officer is accused of holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, his associates are accused of entering into a conspiracy with Nayak to facilitate the illegalities.

Rejecting Nayak's bail plea, Judge S Mahajan of the special court observed that there was a prima facie case against the accused. The prosecution also contended that the accused needed to be interrogated in custody.

The defence submitted that the allegations against Nayak were incorrect and that he was a victim of a conspiracy hatched by rivals to finish his career.

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Cong turns attention to Uttaranchal imbroglio
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
Having got the long-pending Cabinet reshuffle out of the way, the Congress leadership has now turned its attention to the troubled state of Uttaranchal where its Chief Minister N D Tiwari wants to pass the baton on to a new person.

AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Uttaranchal, and Mr Ahmed Patel, Congress President’s political secretary, have begun consultations with the state leaders in an effort to resolve the leadership issue. Mr Vora has already met PCC chief Harish Rawat and spoken with Mr Tiwari even as a host of state legislators are camping in Delhi to lobby for their respective candidates. Congress President Sonia Gandhi is also likely to meet them in the next few days.

Mr Tiwari has wanted to call it quits for quite some time but this issue has been lingering, as the party has been unable to find a suitable successor to replace him or a proper slot to accommodate the senior leader. The matter has also been delayed as state unit chief Harish Rawat, who has positioned himself as the chief minister-in-waiting, is not particularly favoured by the party leadership for the top slot.

This matter has acquired urgency, as Assembly elections are due in Uttaranchal in a year’s time and the Tiwari government is facing strong anti-incumbency.

Moreover, intense factional battles in the state unit have weakened the party organisation. Mr Tiwari has also been sulking and he made this evident when he failed to turn up for the AICC plenary session in Hyderabad.

It is learnt that in an effort to accommodate the different factions, Congress insiders had decided to give a ministerial berth to Mr Rawat at the Centre in the recent revamp and move Mr Tiwari to one of the many Raj Bhavans, presently lying vacant. However, these plans went awry as Mr Rawat could not be sworn in since he was travelling in the interiors of his home state and could not be contacted. On the other hand, there is a lurking suspicion that Mr Rawat deliberately made himself “unavailable” as he has his eyes set on the chief minister’s chair.

Renewed efforts are now being made to resolve the Uttaranchal imbroglio. Mr Rawat, it is learnt, has been told that he will have to shift to the Centre while Mr Tiwari is being persuaded to accept a Governor’s post although the veteran party leader would prefer a Rajya Sabha seat. Fresh appointments of Governors have to be made for the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Meghalaya. Mr Tiwari is being considered as a replacement for Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde in Hyderabad.

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Britain keen on joint ventures with Indian firms
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
Britain yesterday said it was opening up its defence sector market for the Indian companies and that it was also in negotiations with the Navy for the sale of up to eight second-hand Sea Harrier jets for the Indian Armed Forces to maintain its force levels.

Lord Drayson, Britain’s Minister for Defence Procurement, said his country was keen on forging collaborations and joint ventures with Indian firms working in cutting edge IT and software to fulfil the long-term needs of the British armed forces.

“There is a market potential running into millions of pounds (under Britain’s Defence Industrial Strategy),” Lord Drayson told a news conference on the sidelines of the Defexpo 2006 here, which is being attended by the world’s largest armaments firms.

“Indian industries are currently taking a small proportion of the market,” he said, adding there was scope for Indian firms to leverage their “strategic strengths” in IT and software to develop affordable hi-tech weapons for the British military.

Malcolm Haworth, Director of the Defence Export Services Organisation and part of Drayson’s delegation, said the Indian Navy had expressed a “strong interest” in acquiring six to eight used Sea Harriers that would be retired from service by the Royal Navy in France.

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N-pact should not fizzle out: US trade body
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
Any failure on the part of the US Administration to implement its civil nuclear agreement with India would represent an “unfortunate missed opportunity”, Mr Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), said here today.

Pointing out that India was committed to developing its civilian nuclear programme to meet its burgeoning energy needs “with or without the US”, he said that to not collaborate would be an unfortunate missed opportunity".

Mr Somers told mediapersons at the Defexpo 06 that his team aimed at deepening defence cooperation and commercial ties ahead of US President George Bush's visit to India next month.

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Expressway to Patna Sahib planned
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 2
Soon after its plans to include Sri Harmandar Sahib (Patna Sahib) in the proposed religious tourist circuit in Bihar, the NDA government is reportedly contemplating a four-lane, high-speed road link to Patna Sahib which is the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh. Sources in the Patna Regional Development Authority said the project envisaged a cost of Rs 12.30 crore.

This included Rs 1.37 crore for land acquisition and Rs 28 lakh for the survey of the road.

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CPM postpones Politburo meeting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
The CPM has postponed its Politburo meeting, scheduled for February 3 and 4, due to the ongoing agitation of the Indian Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees against the privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports.

However, the next date for the Politburo meeting of the party is yet to be decided.

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