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N A T I O N

570 more victims identified
Mass cremations in Punjab 

New Delhi, April 3
As a major ray of hope for bringing justice to victims of “secret cremations” carried out by the Punjab Police at the height of militancy, the number of deceased identified whose next of kin will now have a chance to claim compensation from the state government has gone up from 703 to 1,273.

Left cautions EC against deploying paramilitary forces
New Delhi, April 3
The Left parties have impressed upon the Election Commission today not to deploy Central paramilitary forces inside polling stations in West Bengal and took exception to the conduct of some of the poll observers and guidelines issued by the commission.

17 RS members take oath
New Delhi, April 3
Seventeen new members of the Rajya Sabha, including Deputy Chairman K. Rehman Khan, Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj and former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, took oath today.




EARLIER STORIES
 

SC not to intervene in ‘missing’ Golden Temple artefacts’ case
New Delhi, April 3
The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a petition of former Khalistan movement leader Jagjit Singh Chouhan for return of the “missing” Golden Temple artefacts by the CBI, which allegedly had taken control of them after the Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Infighting in W. Bengal Cong
Kolkata, April 3
Groupism, inner rivalry, vested interests and power bickering have once again come to the fore in the state Congress on the eve of the Assembly elections. This has taken its toll on the party’s electioneering.

Govt proposes to cancel AIIMS exam
New Delhi, April 3
The Centre today proposed before the Supreme Court to cancel the entrance examination for admission to postgraduate medical courses held by (AIIMS) to fill over 3,000 seats all over the country due to the use of high-tech copying methods by a large number of candidates to smuggle out a question paper at Chennai.

PG medical entrance exam to be cancelled
New Delhi, April 3
The Union Health Ministry today decided to cancel the All-India Entrance Examination for post graduate medical courses, conducted last year, in view of the leak of question papers into which the CBI is investigating.

No to plea on DGP Virk’s appointment
New Delhi, April 3
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann challenging the appointment of Punjab DGP S.S. Virk on the ground that he was not an IPS officer of the state cadre.

Sanjay Joshi reinstated
New Delhi, April 3
Senior BJP leader Sanjay Joshi, who had resigned as party General Secretary (Organisation) in the wake of the circulation of sleaze CDs, was today reinstated to the post by party president Rajnath Singh.

Uma meets CEC
New Delhi, April 3
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti today met the Election Commission to discuss her plans to launch a political party for which she needs recognition.

Gill for liberal visa regime between India, Pakistan
New Delhi, April 3
Former Chief Election Commissioner and Congress Rajya Sabha MP M S Gill has demanded a liberal visa regime between India and Pakistan and immediate removal of Punjab from the “disturbed area” category.

CS, DGP of UP replaced
Lucknow, April 3
In a major reshuffle both the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police were shunted to insignificant posts sending a strong message across the civil services that they need to deliver in the election year. While Naveen Chand Vajpayee is the new Chief Secretary, Bua Singh has been named as the new DGP.

Bihar DSP killed in encounter
Patna, April 3
A DSP Akhileshwar Prasad from Rohtas district, near the Nepal border, was killed in an encounter with Maoists at Jamalpur village near Sasaram today.

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570 more victims identified
Mass cremations in Punjab 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
As a major ray of hope for bringing justice to victims of “secret cremations” carried out by the Punjab Police at the height of militancy, the number of deceased identified whose next of kin will now have a chance to claim compensation from the state government has gone up from 703 to 1,273.

At a hearing on the Punjab Mass Cremations case, NHRC Chairman A. S. Anand today said that the state government had filed a petition with the NHRC, submitting that it had identified 570 more persons who had allegedly been cremated secretly.

Justice Anand said the NHRC was expecting that the state government would continue making efforts to identify as many as more possible of the remaining partly identified and unidentified bodies.

While 824 bodies remain in the unidentified category, the Punjab Government reported 10 duplications in the overall list of the 2,097 victims, which will be studied by the NHRC.

The NHRC Bench, comprising Justice Anand, members Shivaraj V. Patil, Y. Bhaskar Rao and R. S Kalha, also granted three more weeks to the state government to trace the next of kin of 38 deceased and pay a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh each.

At its March 8 hearing, the NHRC had directed the state government to pay compensation to the relatives of the 38 victims, but so far Rs 44.3 lakh, of the total amount of Rs 95 lakh, has been disbursed.

The commission also directed that Rs 2.5 lakh compensation be paid to the next of kin of Ram Singh. The state government has conceded that he was in deemed custody of the state police in Tarn-Taran district prior to his disappearance.

The victims’ counsel has been given two weeks’ time to submit comments on the affidavits filed by the state government about the bodies that have now been identified. The NHRC has fixed May 15 as the next date of hearing.

More than 2000 bodies had been allegedly cremated as “unclaimed or unidentified” in Punjab from 1984 to 1994 without observing lawful procedure.

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Left cautions EC against deploying paramilitary forces
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
The Left parties have impressed upon the Election Commission today not to deploy Central paramilitary forces inside polling stations in West Bengal and took exception to the conduct of some of the poll observers and guidelines issued by the commission.

The Left leaders objected to the EC ban on graffiti, banners and posters used in campaigning and complained of irregularities in the revision of the electoral rolls in the Left bastion, which has a five phased poll, beginning April 17.

A delegation comprising CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Central committee member Nilotpal Basu, CPI secretary D. Raja and RSP leader Abani Roy met Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon here and submitted a detailed memorandum.

Maintaining that maintenance of law and order was an exclusive state subject, they cautioned that deployment of paramilitary forces from outside the state could adversely affect the smooth conduct of the elections.

“Deployment of personnel from outside the state not familiar with the local language can create problems and lead to lack of coordination. We have asked the commission to ensure specific guidelines where the state administration can play a coordinating role,” Mr Karat told mediapersons here.

On certain poll observers, the Left leaders drew the EC’s attention to their representative in Burdwan district being spotted moving around with a Trinamool Congress MLA. The poll official overseeing Medinipur East district has ordered stoppage of development work by the local bodies which began much before the model code of conduct came into effect.

The Left leaders also provided the EC with a CD to back their charges.

They accused the Trinamool Congress and other Opposition parties of attempting to delete thousands of genuine voters from the electoral list by furnishing what they described as frivolous and motivated information.

“Anybody can accuse anybody of being a Bangladeshi and get that person eliminated from the list,” Mr Karat observed. In this context he spoke of the delition of the names of certain senior leaders of the CPI (M) from the electoral rolls.

Meanwhile, the EC has ordered filing of cases against Asom Gana Parishad and Telegu Desam party leaders for holding press meets after campaigning had ended in poll-bound Assam. The commission directed Assam’s chief electoral officer to file cases against Brindaban Goswami and A. Bhatacharjee of the AGP and Rama Mohan Rao of the TDP for addressing a press conference in Guwahati yesterday. 

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17 RS members take oath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
Seventeen new members of the Rajya Sabha, including Deputy Chairman K. Rehman Khan, Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj and former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, took oath today.

The oath was administered by Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in his Chamber in Parliament House, an official press note said here.

The other members who were sworn in are: Mr S.S. Ahluwalia (BJP —Jharkhand), Mr Vinay Katiyar (BJP — UP), Ms Mabel Rebello (INC — Jharkhand), Mr G. Sanjeeva Reddy (INC — Andhra Pradesh), Dr Mahendra Prasad (JDU — Bihar), Mr Shree Gopal Vyas (BJP — Chhatisgarh), Mr Pravinchandra Somabhai Rashtrapal (INC — Gujarat), Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar (IND — Karnataka), Mr Balihari (BSP—Uttar Pradesh), Mahmood Madani (RLD — Uttar Pradesh), Mr Munkad (BSP — Uttar Pradesh), Moinul Hassan Ahamed (CPIM — West Bengal), Mr Saman Pathak (CPI(M) — West Bengal) and Mr Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI(M) — West Bengal).

While, Mr Rehman Khan (INC — Karnataka), Mr Bhardwaj, Mr Ahluwalia, Mr Mahendra Prasad and Ms Rebello were re-elected to the House, Mr Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena — Maharashtra), Mr Vinay Katiyar and others joined the House for the first time. 

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SC not to intervene in ‘missing’
Golden Temple artefacts’ case

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 3
The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a petition of former Khalistan movement leader Jagjit Singh Chouhan for return of the “missing” Golden Temple artefacts by the CBI, which allegedly had taken control of them after the Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Chouhan had moved the apex court after his public interest litigation (PIL) was rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 12, 2005.

He claimed that 16,000 artefacts of great historical importance were removed from Golden Temple’s Sikh Library after Operation Bluestar and many of them had not been returned.

He had cited a statement of the then Defence Minister George Fernandes on May 24, 2000 stating that the said artefacts and documents were lying with the CBI.

A Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari, however, was not convinced with the contention of Chohan’s counsel Vipin Gogia and rejected the petition, saying “We cannot go into the disputed question of facts.”

According to a special leave petition (SLP) by Chohan against the High Court order, a large number of items, including gold and silver ornaments, precious stones, currency notes worth crores of rupees and fixed deposit documents were handed over to Amritsar Treasury Officer on June 13, 1984 after a team of CBI had raided the Golden Temple and its library.

“It was admitted that 94 paintings and four manuscripts were handed over to the Department of Cultureal Affairs, Chandigarh on July 5, 1985 but a large number of items are still lying with the government authorities,” Chohan claimed.

But the court was not convinced and dismissed the petition telling his counsel that “you are mentioning about 16,000 items without giving any details about them. This is a disputed statement of facts.”

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Infighting in W. Bengal Cong

Kolkata, April 3
Groupism, inner rivalry, vested interests and power bickering have once again come to the fore in the state Congress on the eve of the Assembly elections. This has taken its toll on the party’s electioneering.

The CPM has already launched its campaign on March 17.

Hardly a fortnight is left for the first phase of polling on April 17, the Congress is yet to finalise its list of candidates in all 243 of the 294 seats it would contest. The remaining seats have been left for partners like the PDS, the JSD and the JMM.

The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukhejee, who is also WBPCC president, declined to respond positively to Ms Mamata Banerjee’s call for joining her “mahajot” against the CPM since she was reluctant to sever ties with the NDA.

On the contrary, Mr Mukherjee announced the decision to field candidates in all 294 seats along with allies, which was to be finalised by March 24.

However, disagreement on seat- sharing with the partners and also failure to select Congress candidates for delayed the finalisation.

So far, there have been three meetings at the AICC in the presence of Ms Sonia Gandhi in which Mr Mukherjee and Ms Margaret Alva, besides state Congress leaders like Mr Somen Mitra, Mr Pradip Bhattacharyya, Dr Manash Bhuia, Mr Atis Sinha and Mr Adhir Chowdhury were present, but no amicable solution has been found.

Though the party tentatively decided to nominate Mr Subrata Mukherjee, a former Kolkata Mayor, from the Chowringhee seat and Ms Dipa Dasmunshi, wife of the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, from the Goalpukur seat of Dinahpur, a section in the Congress is against it.

In Malda district, the Congress decided to reach an electoral understanding with the BJP as it did in the municipal and panchayat elections.

In Kolkata and 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Midnapore districts, disagreement still prevails among Congress workers on the selection of candidates, which was revealed before the Defence Minister during a meeting of the state leadership two days ago. — TNS

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Govt proposes to cancel AIIMS exam
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 3
The Centre today proposed before the Supreme Court to cancel the entrance examination for admission to postgraduate medical courses held by (AIIMS) to fill over 3,000 seats all over the country due to the use of high-tech copying methods by a large number of candidates to smuggle out a question paper at Chennai.

But a Bench of Mr Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice P P Naolekar was not “fully satisfied” with the CBI probe so far and gave the agency time till April 13 to submit further report on its investigation based on extending its scope to the other examination centre than Chennai and Delhi.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam told the court that the government had decided to cancel the entire examination after consulting the AIIMS Director Venugopal and other experts, considering the CBI preliminary report, which gave an indication that the copying could be of huge magnitude as the candidates in Chennai had used a high-tech method to send the entire paper out within minutes of the start of the exam.

He even placed before the court a new schedule for examination drawn after consultation with the AIIMS Director and officials of the Director-General of Health Services.

But the court refused to issue any direction on it at this stage, saying that “we are not fully satisfied” on the government stand and the suspense remained whether the exams would be cancelled.

As senior advocate Arun Jaitley, appearing for some of the successful candidates, opposed the cancellation of the entire exam on the ground that due to the malpractice of certain unscrupulous candidates, those who had done their paper honestly could not be penalised, the court gave 10 days time to the CBI to further probe the matter.

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PG medical entrance exam to be cancelled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
The Union Health Ministry today decided to cancel the All-India Entrance Examination for post graduate medical courses, conducted last year, in view of the leak of question papers into which the CBI is investigating.

The ministry has decided to cancel the examination as the CBI investigations prima facie established a high-tech fraud, official sources said.

The examination will now be conducted afresh.

Sources pointed out that an order to the effect was likely to be signed by Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss here tomorrow.

Results of the entrance examination, which was conducted by the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, had been withheld in view of allegations of a fraud.

The investigations carried out by the CBI revealed that high-tech fraud was committed during the examination.

During the course of investigations, FIRs were also lodged against seven doctors who had been arrested.

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No to plea on DGP Virk’s appointment
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 3
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann challenging the appointment of Punjab DGP S.S. Virk on the ground that he was not an IPS officer of the state cadre.

A Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari rejected the special leave petition (SLP) of Mr Mann, saying that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had looked into the matter twice and came to the conclusion that no case was made out.

The high court had rejected Mr Mann’s petitions in February and September, 2005, the Bench told his counsel Vipin Gogia.

According to the SLP, Mr Virk, a Maharashtra-cadre officer, was appointed DGP on the retirement of Mr S.S. Siddiqui on January 31, 2005, even when the Union Home Ministry had not extended his 1996 deputation to Punjab after April 1, 1998.

Mr Mann alleged that after the “termination” of the deputation of Mr Virk on April 1, 1998, his stay in Punjab was contrary to the rules and he had even “not responded” to a memorandum issued by the Home Ministry in this regard.

On the contrary, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote a letter to the Home Ministry on January 13, 2005, stating that he had a “right to have the DGP of choice” to head the state police force, ignoring the fact that it was prerogative of the Centre to control the IPS cadre.

To clear the “decks” for the appointment of Mr Virk as DGP, the state government, before the retirement of Mr Siddiqui, had started proceedings for the promotion of six ADGP-rank officers of 1970 batch to the rank of DGP and he was one of them, the SLP said.

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Sanjay Joshi reinstated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
Senior BJP leader Sanjay Joshi, who had resigned as party General Secretary (Organisation) in the wake of the circulation of sleaze CDs, was today reinstated to the post by party president Rajnath Singh.

Mr Joshi’s reinstatement comes in the wake of Madhya Pradesh police giving a “clean chit” to him in the CD controversy.

BJP President’s decision comes a day after RSS General Secretary Mohan Bhagwat reinstated Mr Joshi as a ‘Pracharak’ (Organiser).

Mr Joshi, who was the RSS pointsman in BJP, had resigned during the party’s silver jubilee session in Mumbai in December last year.

Mr Joshi is understood to have played a key role in the resignation of L.K. Advani as party chief following the row with the RSS on the Jinnah issue.

With his hardliner image, Mr Joshi, a stickler for discipline and ideology, had also earned hostility of several second-rung leaders, including former party leader Uma Bharti.

He was earlier the organistation’s General Secretary in Gujarat and was succeeded by Mr Narendra Modi.

Mr Rajnath Singh had kept the General Secretary (Organisation) position vacant under the pretext that the RSS had refused to give any substitution to Mr Joshi. 

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Uma meets CEC

New Delhi, April 3
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti today met the Election Commission to discuss her plans to launch a political party for which she needs recognition.

“I have had discussion with the Election Commission for registration and symbol for my party. I will meet them once again,” she told mediapersons after meeting Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon at the commission office here.

Ms Bharti, who plans to launch her party on April 30, said it would be a nationalist front open to all like-minded people, including from the BJP, where leaders are caught in an ideological feud,” she remarked.

On March 21, she told a rally in Delhi that the party she intended to set up would be founded on the core Hindutva principles of the Sangh. Ms Bharti, who accuses the BJP of deviation from its ideology, however, has dropped plans to stake claim on the BJP’s lotus symbol and flag,. — TNS

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Gill for liberal visa regime between India, Pakistan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 3
Former Chief Election Commissioner and Congress Rajya Sabha MP M S Gill has demanded a liberal visa regime between India and Pakistan and immediate removal of Punjab from the “disturbed area” category.

“If New Delhi and Islamabad are sincere about the effectiveness of the recent confidence building measures (CBMs) initiated by way of bus services, there is need for liberal visa regime and also abolition of ancient laws,” Mr Gill told The Tribune here while referring to the recent “goof up” at Wagah border, where the kin of Chief Justice of Pakistan Bhagwan Das were denied entry to Amritsar on technical grounds.

“If this kind of unsavoury thing could happen to such a high-profile person, then you can very well imagine the fate of commoner in both the countries who are keen on visiting each other’s country,” Mr Gill said accusing the Home Ministry and Intelligence agencies of remaining “locked in ancient rules.”

“I had been one of the votaries for launching of various bus services between the two countries, but now I apprehend that if the attitude and ancient rules do not change then these buses will only be used by officers and ministers and not the common man,” he argued.

The Rajya Sabha MP also insisted that Punjab, which still on paper continues to be in the ‘disturbed area’ list, should be removed from that forthwith so that the “attitude of Home Ministry and Intelligence agencies change vis-ŕ-vis visa seekers.”

Stating that he had written to the Centre umpteen number of times raising these issues; Mr Gill demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should personally intervene in these issues and help remove the procedural wranglings and thus ensuring the success of CBMs.

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CS, DGP of UP replaced
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 3
In a major reshuffle both the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police were shunted to insignificant posts sending a strong message across the civil services that they need to deliver in the election year. While Naveen Chand Vajpayee is the new Chief Secretary, Bua Singh has been named as the new DGP.

The sudden decision has sent signals across board that the state government was working towards improving its image on the development and law and order front on the eve of the Assembly elections scheduled in a few months.

Outgoing Chief Secretary R Ramani has become the Director General Training, a post which carries no weightage. Similarly, DGP Yashpal Singh has been shunted to another insignificant post of Chairman-cum-Managing Director of U.P.Police Housing Corporation.

In recent weeks the state police had faced severe criticism over the laxity in arresting the main accused in the high profile Mehar Bhargava case.

Bua Singh, till now the DG PAC, replaced him. It may be recalled that the newly named DG had earned the wrath of the wife of the outgoing DG and SP MLA Gita Singh for preventing her from encroaching upon the official resident of the PAC Commandment at Gonda.

No replacement for the top post in the PAC was announced. Mr A Panivel, a 1974 IPS, and till now Additional Director General Law and Order has moved to the PAC in the same position. Mr Padam Singh is the new ADG Law and Order.

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Bihar DSP killed in encounter

Patna, April 3
A DSP Akhileshwar Prasad from Rohtas district, near the Nepal border, was killed in an encounter with Maoists at Jamalpur village near Sasaram today.

The DSP was chasing some Maoists who had abducted a two-and-half-year-old boy from a village near Sasaram this morning. As the DSP reached the spot, an encounter started between the Maoists and the police team during which the DSP received a bullet injury. He died on the spot. — TNS

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