SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Armed forces apolitical: Pranab
New Delhi, February 21
Stating that the UPA government was not apologetic about conducting a study to ascertain the economic and social backwardness of the Muslims, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today asserted that recruitment in the armed forces is based on merit and is open to every Indian citizen, including Muslims, without any discrimination.

BJP to raise Scorpene deal in Parliament
New Delhi, February 21
Main Opposition BJP today decided to vociferously raise the controversial Scorpene submarine deal and the Indo-US nuclear pact during the current session of Parliament.
In video: BJP decides to raise several issues in parliamentary session.(28k, 56k)

Iran vote won’t harm India’s interest: Sonia
New Delhi, February 21
In a brief reference to the issue of recent Iran vote and the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today emphasised that India’s strategic and national interests will not be jeopardised.

Hearing on head count on March 6
New Delhi, February 21
The Supreme Court today fixed March 6 to hear preliminary arguments on admissibility of a writ petition by a former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lt-Gen R.S. Kadyan, challenging the head count of Muslims in the defence forces as ordered by the Prime Minister-appointed Justice Sachar Committee to know the backward status of the minority community.

“Dead” terrorists embarrass Patil
New Delhi, February 21
When the issue of ‘dead’ terrorists coming alive issue rocked the Lower House today, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and the Treasury Benches found themselves in an odd situation.

Panel on bird flu source set up
New Delhi, February 21
The Centre today set up a committee of experts to identify the source of infection that led to the outbreak of bird flu. The Health Ministry has said that till today, no human case of avian influenza had been reported and no fresh cases quarantined.




The Anti-Corruption bureau of the Mumbai police produces encounter specialist Daya Nayak in the Mumbai Sessions Court on Tuesday
The Anti-Corruption bureau of the Mumbai police produces encounter specialist Daya Nayak in the Mumbai Sessions Court on Tuesday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES
 

I am JD(S) leader in House: Kumaraswamy
Bangalore, February 21
Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy today indicated that he was the boss of the party or at least the Vidhan Soudha by asserting that his band of followers’ suspension from the Janata Dal (S) would not have any bearing on his leadership the house.

JD(S) MLAs’ suspension ratified
New Delhi, February 21
The national executive of the JD(S) has ratified the decision to suspend 40 rebel Karnataka legislators, including Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and referred the action of the MLAs in forming a coalition government with the BJP to the party’s Disciplinary Action Committee.

FIR against UP minister for issuing fatwa
Lucknow, February 21
A Ghaziabad-based advocate has filed an FIR against Uttar Pradesh minister Haji Yqoob Qureshi for publicly declaring an award of Rs 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonist.

RS poll: hearing on Nayar’s plea begins
New Delhi, February 21
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today commenced hearing on journalist Kuldip Nayar’s petition challenging the amendment to the Representation of People Act (RPA) doing away with the mandatory condition of domiciles for a candidate for Rajya Sabha elections.

Videos

South Indian production house is all set to shoot a bilingual film 'Lemon' in Sikkim.
(28k, 56k)
Internationally acclaimed sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik trying to create awareness about bird flu through his art.
(28k, 56k)

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Armed forces apolitical: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
Stating that the UPA government was not apologetic about conducting a study to ascertain the economic and social backwardness of the Muslims, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today asserted that recruitment in the armed forces is based on merit and is open to every Indian citizen, including Muslims, without any discrimination.

“The armed forces are professional, apolitical, secular and the most disciplined force the country has today. Indian armed forces have an all-India orientation in which each state contributes its fair share of manpower to the armed forces,” Mr Mukherjee said in a suo moto statement in the Rajya Sabha.

Seeking to put the lid on the controversy, he said the Defence Ministry in a letter sent to the high-powered Justice Sachar Committee, constituted on March 9, 2005, has clearly brought out that the existing policy of the government on recruitment in armed forces was based on merit.

“No survey has been conducted or proposed to be conducted for the compilation of any other statistics than those maintained on the existing database of armed forces,” Mr Mukherjee clarified endorsing the views of Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh that this debate should be brought to an end and the armed forces should not be dragged into controversy.

The Rajindar Sachar Committee was set up for “preparation of a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India”, he said.

However, in reply to letters received from the Sachar Committee, Naval headquarters provided some indicative statistics regarding civilian personnel in the Navy, he said.

Some data was also provided by the Indian Air Force but no such information was provided by the Indian Army, he said.

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BJP to raise Scorpene deal in Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
Main Opposition BJP today decided to vociferously raise the controversial Scorpene submarine deal and the Indo-US nuclear pact during the current session of Parliament.

The party will also highlight the hardships caused to common people because of inflation, senior BJP leader V.K. Malhotra told mediapersons here while briefing about the meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Party chaired by Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani.

Another issue the BJP will seek to raise is the ongoing demolition drive in the national capital, Mr Malhotra said if the House was stalled, the onus would be on the government and not his party.

He said while the government had condemned the caricature of Prophet Mohammed as objectionable, it had not sought to assuage the feelings of Hindus who were hurt over paintings that allegedly denigrated Hindu Goddesses and described M.F. Hussain as a “perverted painter”.

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Iran vote won’t harm India’s interest: Sonia
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
In a brief reference to the issue of recent Iran vote and the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today emphasised that India’s strategic and national interests will not be jeopardised.

Ms Gandhi’s assurance at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) follows the concerted attack from the Left parties who have accused the UPA government of voting against Iran under American pressure.

Not just the Left, but a large section in the Congress is also disturbed over the UPA government’s growing proximity to the US and how this perception can alienate the minorities from the party.

She admitted that the issue of Iran’s nuclear status and the Indo-US nuclear pact were under intense public scrutiny but welcomed the opportunity for a debate on them.

Reassuring the CPP, she pointed out: “As Dr Manmohan Singh has repeatedly said our government will always give paramount consideration to the protection of India’s short-term and long-term strategic and national interests.”

Having come under attack for not taking a view on the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad published by some European newspapers, Ms Gandhi used the opportunity to reiterate that the Congress condemned the denigration of any faith.

While expressing her anguish over the manner in which the sentiments of Muslims had been hurt, she said the government had registered a strong protest with the Danish Government as soon as the matter was brought to its attention.

With several state governments claiming the newly-launched National Employment Guarantee Bill as their own initiative, the Congress president urged party leaders and workers to actively counter this misleading propaganda and explain that the programme was funded by the Centre.

Since the scheme is being implemented largely in opposition-ruled states, Ms Gandhi has been repeatedly reminding party workers to raise public awareness and keep a watch on the implementation of this and other Central programmes so that that their detractors do not take the credit for them.

In this connection, she said the party would hold a convention of the 200 district committees where the employment Act was in force to brief them about the programme and the role they could play in monitoring its implementation.

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Hearing on head count on March 6
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 21
The Supreme Court today fixed March 6 to hear preliminary arguments on admissibility of a writ petition by a former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lt-Gen R.S. Kadyan, challenging the head count of Muslims in the defence forces as ordered by the Prime Minister-appointed Justice Sachar Committee to know the backward status of the minority community.

After brief arguments by General Kadyan’s counsel Rajiv Dutta for urgent hearing of the matter, a Bench of Mr Justice B.N. Agrawal, Mr Justice A.K. Mathur and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari posted the hearing to March 6.

At the very outset, the court advised Dutta that his client should move the high court rather than approaching the Supreme Court directly, but when the counsel said that the matter involving such an important issue, which might cause “enormous damage to the secular character” of the Indian defence forces, needed to be decided by the apex court, the Bench agreed to hear it on the fixed date.

Sixty-four-year-old General Kadyan challenged Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee’s directive for head counts of Muslim soldiers on the ground that the directive “tends to divide” the highly secular defence forces on communal lines.

General Kadyan as an interim relief has sought immediate stay on the directive of the committee.

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“Dead” terrorists embarrass Patil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
When the issue of ‘dead’ terrorists coming alive issue rocked the Lower House today, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and the Treasury Benches found themselves in an odd situation.

Taking cue from the news report published in The Tribune, the issue was raised by Prof. Mahdeorao Shiwankar and other Opposition members in the Lok Sabha, which caught the government on the wrong foot.

Professor Shiwankar wanted the government to confirm whether it was true that about 300 terrorists, declared dead, have been rehabilitated by the Punjab Government.

Visibly embarrassed Home Minister Shivraj Patil evaded a direct reply when several members from the Opposition wanted to know whether it was true that terrorists against whom cases were registered during terrorism days in Punjab, were still alive and innocent persons had been killed against their names.

Punjab DGP S.S. Virk had stated yesterday that nearly 300 militants who helped the police during “war against terrorism” in the state had been rehabilitated with the full knowledge of various chief ministers and governors.

Finding it difficult to reply, the Home Minister said, “I cannot answer on the basis of a news report published in a newspaper.”

Earlier, he was at loss when the Opposition members, including BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra, wanted to know, “How many terrorists infiltrated into the country during 2005-06.”

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Panel on bird flu source set up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
The Centre today set up a committee of experts to identify the source of infection that led to the outbreak of bird flu. The Health Ministry has said that till today, no human case of avian influenza had been reported and no fresh cases quarantined.

The decision to set up the committee was taken during a review meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, B.K. Chaturvedi here, today.

Briefing mediapersons here, Animal Husbandry Secretary, P.M.A. Hakeemn said Animal Husbandry Commissioner S.K. Bandopadhyay and Indian Council of Medical Research Director General N.K. Ganguly would be the key members of the committee. 

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I am JD(S) leader in House: Kumaraswamy
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 21
Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy today indicated that he was the boss of the party or at least the Vidhan Soudha by asserting that his band of followers’ suspension from the Janata Dal (S) would not have any bearing on his leadership the house.

Reacting to his as well as the suspension of 39 legislators who supported him to pull off a political coup and end the rule of Congress-led Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, the Chief Minister asserted that he continued to be the leader of the JD(S) legislature party.

Talking today, Mr Kumaraswamy said his leadership of the JD (S) legislature party had been recognised by Vidhan Soudha Speaker Krishna. 

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JD(S) MLAs’ suspension ratified
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
The national executive of the JD(S) has ratified the decision to suspend 40 rebel Karnataka legislators, including Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, and referred the action of the MLAs in forming a coalition government with the BJP to the party’s Disciplinary Action Committee.

The MLAs were suspended by the JD (S) president and former Prime Minister, Mr H.D. Deve Gowda last week.

The JD(S) secretary-general, Mr Kunwar Danish Ali, was entrusted the task to submit the ratified decision to the Disciplinary Action Committee of the party “for pursuing further action”.

Mr Gowda said the JD(S) had formed a coalition with the Congress to “keep communal forces away”.

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FIR against UP minister for issuing fatwa
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 21
A Ghaziabad-based advocate has filed an FIR against Uttar Pradesh minister Haji Yqoob Qureshi for publicly declaring an award of Rs 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonist.

In the FIR, Mr Ajai Vir Singh has complained that such open proclamation by a person occupying a public office was a threat to law and order as well as a blemish to the constitution of the country.

While large crowds came out on the streets of Meerut in support of the minister, Mr Qureshi blatantly asserted that he was ready to resign if the Samajwadi Party asked him to do so. Once again reiterating his stand against the Danish cartoonist he said he was ready to face any consequence for his public posture.

Earlier, there was widespread protest inside the Vidhan Parishad as BJP members demanded his dismissal.

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RS poll: hearing on Nayar’s plea begins
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 21
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court today commenced hearing on journalist Kuldip Nayar’s petition challenging the amendment to the Representation of People Act (RPA) doing away with the mandatory condition of domiciles for a candidate for Rajya Sabha elections.

Nayar has also challenged the introduction of the open ballot system for the Rajya Sabha poll by way of the amendment effected in August 2003, on the ground that it hit at the basic structure of federalism provided in the Constitution as the Upper House was essentially a Council of States.

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