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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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N A T I O N

SC rejects Babloo’s relief plea
New Delhi, June 13
The efforts of Babloo Srivastava, one time point man of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, to come out of the jail and claim compensation from government for cases falling flat against him, failed today as the Supreme Court dismissed his plea.

Editors decry ULFA intimidation
New Delhi, June 13
Editors of leading media organisations in the country have condemned the threat by the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to senior editors and journalists in Assam, opposing efforts at muzzling the Press. They have called on ULFA to honour the freedom of expression, which gives it extensive space in the media.

Emir of Kuwait’s visit from today
New Delhi, June 13
In the first visit by the Emir of Kuwait in nearly two decades, Shekh Sabha Al-Ahmad Al-Jabar Al-Sabha arrives here tomorrow on a six-day visit during which the two countries will sign an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and explore ways to enhance cooperation in the oil and petroleum sector and evolve a mechanism to jointly tackle the menace of terrorism.




EARLIER STORIES




Anti-quota agitation gains momentum
Kanpur, June 13
The anti-reservation agitation by students of the Indian Institute of Technology here gathered momentum with industrial associations and traders deciding to go on a day’s token hunger strike on June 18 in support of students and teachers.

BJP to oppose Office of Profit Bill in same form
New Delhi, June 13
The BJP today said it would oppose the Office of Profit legislation if it was reintroduced in Parliament in the same form which President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had refused his assent to.

TDP warms up to CPM
Hyderabad, June 13
The Telugu Desam Party’s persistent efforts to get into the good books of the Left have finally, though partially, have paid off, thanks in part to the UPA government’s decision to hike fuel prices.

Court reserves order on Rahul’s bail plea
New Delhi, June 13
A Delhi court today reserved its order on the bail application of Rahul Mahajan, an accused under Narcotics Act, till tomorrow. Special Judge Swarna Kanta, hearing the case, also said the bail plea of co-accused Sahil Zaroo would also be considered tomorrow.
In video (28k, 56k)

India, China to work on combating terrorism: Pranab
New Delhi, June 13
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India and China were embarking on a strategic cooperation, including working out modalities on jointly combating threat posed by terrorism.

Rain, government fail these villagers
Mumbai, June 13
With the rains showing no signs of setting in, the prolonged dry spell is wreaking havoc in the villages around Mumbai from where water to the city comes. Mumbai gets nearly 3,000 million litres of water per day from the Tansa, Vaitarna and Bhatsa reservoirs located in the Shahpur and Bhiwandi talukas outside Mumbai. However, residents of nearly 150 villages receive very little of this water since the supply is earmarked for the country’s financial capital.

India condemns Gaza killings
New Delhi, June 13
India has condemned the killing of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces in an unprovoked attack on Friday, and appealed to all sides to desist from starting a new spiral of violence and counter-violence.

IAF for aeronautics commission
New Delhi, June 13
The Indian Air Force (IAF) yesterday suggested the setting up of a national aeronautics commission as a coordinating body between civil and military aviation for better management of the Indian airspace.

‘Fanaa’protest: youth battles for life
Jamnagar, June 13
The condition of the youth, who attemped to immolate himself on Sunday to protest the screening of Aamir Khan starrer 'Fanaa', is said to be serious. A team of doctors from a Ahmedabad hospital has been rushed to Jamnagar for his treatment, the Medical Superintendent of the local Civil Hospital, Dr Arun Vyas, said, where he had been admitted.

Govt working on NSDI policy
New Delhi, June 13
Following the union Cabinet’s approval earlier this month to the creation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), the Science and Technology Ministry has started working on a policy framework for the NSDI which will create a reliable and supporting environment to access geographically-related information using a minimum set of standard practices, protocols and specification.

Greenpeace opposes GM crops
New Delhi, June 13

Three “cows” and as many “sheep” today sought an audience with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar this morning to present a memorandum and draw his attention to the “mysterious deaths of cattle” in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh.


Greenpeace activists stage a protest against genetically modified foods in front of Krishi Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi
Greenpeace activists stage a protest against genetically modified foods in front of Krishi Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday

Truckers threaten strike over sales tax
Mumbai, June 13
Owners of transport vehicles in Maharashtra under the banner of the Maharashtra Rajya Truck Tempo Tanker Bus Vahatuk Mahasangh have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the state government did not bring down sales tax on petro products.

Minor cut in petrol, diesel prices in Delhi
New Delhi, June 13
The Delhi Government has made a marginal reduction in petrol and diesel prices by removing VAT from the increased amount. The petrol will be 67 paise and diesel 22 paise cheaper in the national Capital.

MP to promote handloom in Japan
New Delhi, June 13
In a move to attract foreign investment in the state, Madhya Pradesh Minister for Industries Babu Lal Gaur today left for Japan where he would also explore the possibility of exporting traditional handloom products and handicrafts, made in its two districts of Chhindwara and Seoni, to Japanese markets.

AIPMT schedule

Video
A superstitious practice leaves children branded for life.
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SC rejects Babloo’s relief plea
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 13
The efforts of Babloo Srivastava, one time point man of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, to come out of the jail and claim compensation from government for cases falling flat against him, failed today as the Supreme Court dismissed his plea.

Babloo, against whom majority of 12 cases had failed in the trial court, had sought a whooping compensation of Rs 100 crore in his special leave petition (SLP) and moved a separate application for seven-day parole to get married to a Lucknow girl.

Rejecting his plea, a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Altamas Kabir directed him to move the Delhi High Court for any relief.

On his interim application for parole, the Bench observed that the court could not be expected to act as "marriage bureau" to raise such plea.

Babloo, whom the police had described a hardened criminal from Uttar Pradesh, had been incarcerated since his extradition from Singapore 11 years ago. He had been facing 12 cases, mostly registered in UP and a few in Delhi.

Embroiled in various controversies like releasing his book in jail, in his SLP had contended that the Delhi High Court had wrongly directed him to move the Allahabad High Court in connection with his petition on extradition issue.

He alleged that the government had violated his extradition conditions as he was extradited from Singapore to face trial in four cases, while the CBI, Delhi Police and UP Police had slapped eight other cases against him.

The probe agencies had alleged that Babloo, who once used to work as a

point man for underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was involved in cases of murder, extortion, kidnapping, intimidation and under the Arms Act.

The prosecuting agencies' had opposed his SLP raising the issue of compensation for his continued incarceration, contending that the cases against him had not failed because he was not involved in the crimes but due to witness' not deposing against him for fear of their life.

He continued to be in judicial custody as trial in some of the cases pending in Delhi and UP had not been completed.

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Editors decry ULFA intimidation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
Editors of leading media organisations in the country have condemned the threat by the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to senior editors and journalists in Assam, opposing efforts at muzzling the Press. They have called on ULFA to honour the freedom of expression, which gives it extensive space in the media.

The following is the text of the statement: “We, the undersigned, have noted with deep concern the reported statement by ULFA, attacking senior editors and journalists of Assam and the North-East and making wild allegations about their professional integrity. Those named by this group include D.N. Bezboruah, founder-editor of The Sentinel, Guwahati, and a former president of the Editors Guild of India.

“We express our strongest opposition to efforts to intimidate and muzzle the media in Assam, Manipur and other parts of the North-East by armed groups. Pressures from state and non-state actors alike have increased in recent months.”

There cannot be any compromise on the freedom of expression, a universal right, and we call upon all groups, including ULFA, as well as government and non-government organisations, to respect this basic right unconditionally. It is this right that gives ULFA and similar groups extensive space in the media and it is unacceptable that these organisations should abuse such rights.

“What appears especially relevant to us is that the Peoples Consultative Group, a forum launched by ULFA to begin discussions with the Government of India, includes two senior editors from Assam. We expect them to affirm the rights of the media.”

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Emir of Kuwait’s visit from today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
In the first visit by the Emir of Kuwait in nearly two decades, Shekh Sabha Al-Ahmad Al-Jabar Al-Sabha arrives here tomorrow on a six-day visit during which the two countries will sign an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and explore ways to enhance cooperation in the oil and petroleum sector and evolve a mechanism to jointly tackle the menace of terrorism.

The Emir will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and meet President A P J Abdul Kalam, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and other Indian leaders.

India and Kuwait will also ink pacts pertaining to Drugs and Narcotics and Culture. Enhancing economic ties and trade will be focus of the discussions with oil rich Kuwait which recently decided to open the oil and petroleum sector to private participation.

Sources said that opportunities for investment in Kuwait are encouraging.

There are many sectors having scope for investment. As part of its reform programme, Kuwait is looking for increased cooperation with foreign companies in the energy sector.

The Emir will also travel to Mumbai for an interface with captains of industry.

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Anti-quota agitation gains momentum

Kanpur, June 13
The anti-reservation agitation by students of the Indian Institute of Technology here gathered momentum with industrial associations and traders deciding to go on a day’s token hunger strike on June 18 in support of students and teachers.

President of the Indian Industries Association (IIA) Tarun Chetrapat said today that the IIA members along with various trading and social organisations would sit on a day-long hunger strike at Phoolbagh ground on June 18 in support of IIT-K students.

The spokesman of the Forum Against Indian Reservation claimed that the relay fast at the IIT campus continued while the students of GSVM Medical College held demonstration and dharna on the second day at Lala Lajpatrai Hospital premises.

The agitating students held meetings with biscuit manufacturers and various trade and industries’ associations last night seeking their support.

Meanwhile, students and junior doctors of the local Ganesh Shanker Vidyarathy Medical College who had withdrawn their agitation earlier also joined in the strike yesterday. — PTI

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BJP to oppose Office of Profit Bill in same form

New Delhi, June 13
The BJP today said it would oppose the Office of Profit legislation if it was reintroduced in Parliament in the same form which President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had refused his assent to.

“We are proposing to oppose this Bill again if it comes in its present form without it taking into consideration issues raised by the country’s highest constitutional authority,” senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.

His comments came in the wake of official indications that the government was likely to reintroduce the legislation, returned by the President last month, in the monsoon session without any changes. — PTI

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TDP warms up to CPM
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 13
The Telugu Desam Party’s persistent efforts to get into the good books of the Left have finally, though partially, have paid off, thanks in part to the UPA government’s decision to hike fuel prices.

The first signs of the new bond were seen during today’s joint protests by the TDP and CPM leaders and activists against the fuel price rise. Further cementing the new relationship is the CPM’s decision to come out of the Congress alliance for the forthcoming panchayat poll.

There is a sense of relief in the yellow camp with the CPM deciding to snap ties with the Congress in the state, though the party did not openly embrace the TDP.

“Congress has been intentionally dilly-dallying over the issue of adjustments for the panchayat elections. We are going ahead on our own, and if the TDP wants to support us, we will have no problem with it,” CPM politburo member and party state secretary B.V. Raghavulu declared.

The TDP has offered two zila parishads to the Marxists but for the record, it says that it does not have any electoral tie-up with the TDP.

Mr Naidu hinted many a time his party’s desire to work with the Left parties but the Communists, while welcoming the party’s new-found secular credentials, refused to shake hands, saying that the party’s policies were pro-reform and pro-rich.

The political realities at the Centre are the major reasons for the Communists not cosying up to the TDP. It is for this reason that the CPI continues to sail with the Congress in the state even for the ensuing local poll.

However, the CPM’s latest game plan, reportedly discussed in the recent central committee meeting held at Hyderabad, is to play the role of the opposition more effectively.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, in a hurriedly called press conference this evening, has expressed his displeasure at being let down by the Marxists.

“We had gone out of the way to concede the demands of the CPM, but they still chose to align with an opportunity party like the TDP,” he remarked.

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Court reserves order on Rahul’s bail plea
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
A Delhi court today reserved its order on the bail application of Rahul Mahajan, an accused under Narcotics Act, till tomorrow. Special Judge Swarna Kanta, hearing the case, also said the bail plea of co-accused Sahil Zaroo would also be considered tomorrow.

The prosecution, meanwhile, moved an application to conduct narco-analysis and brain-mapping tests of Rahul, which will also be taken up for hearing by the court tomorrow.

The court permitted the prosecution to record before the magistrate the statement of witness Karan Ahuja, one of the persons present during a late night party at the official residence of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan on June 1.

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India, China to work on combating terrorism: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India and China were embarking on a strategic cooperation, including working out modalities on jointly combating threat posed by terrorism.

“We are no threat to them nor are they to us,” Mr Mukherjee, just back from a high-level visit to China and Japan, told reporters here.

He said there was “enough strategic space for both of us to grow in our own areas” and New Delhi did not visualise any danger of armed conflict breaking out on its Eastern Himalayan frontiers with China.

“We have agreed to live in peace and resolve all our outstanding issues through dialogue, which is progressing well,” Mr Mukherjee said.

After discussions with top Chinese military and political leaderships, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, the Defence Minister had announced that the two countries agreed to set up a Joint Defence Cooperation Group, which would institutionalise an annual Defence Dialogue between the two nations at the level of the Defence Minister.

Such a joint group would work out modalities of working against threat posed by terrorism, border peace and maritime security. he said.

“Both countries shared that terrorism had become a threat and decided to work out modalities together to combat the danger,” the Defence Minister said.

The MoU, signed during Mr Mukherjee’s recent visit to China, envisages a much larger participation in joint military exercises, more exchange visits by armed forces personnel and an expanded mutual training programme than hitherto.

On the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff for three services, Army, Navy and Air Force, he said the government had invited political parties for consultations on the long-pending proposal.

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Rain, government fail these villagers
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 13
With the rains showing no signs of setting in, the prolonged dry spell is wreaking havoc in the villages around Mumbai from where water to the city comes. Mumbai gets nearly 3,000 million litres of water per day from the Tansa, Vaitarna and Bhatsa reservoirs located in the Shahpur and Bhiwandi talukas outside Mumbai. However, residents of nearly 150 villages receive very little of this water since the supply is earmarked for the country’s financial capital.

Moreover, the state government is acquiring more land in villages to lay pipelines, worsening the plight of the agrarian communities living here. “So far residents of 20 villages have lost their land to the water project and land from another 80-90 villages have been acquired to lay pipelines,” says Vishwas Patil, an activist of the Kunbi Sena, which is fighting for the villagers’ cause.

Villagers here say farmers suffer huge losses since they have to now dig borewells for watering crops. Apart from rice, the villages supply fruits and vegetables to Mumbai. However, a dry spell like the present one lowers the water table substantially, drying up borewells.

On the other hand the Kunbi Sena, a caste-based political outfit which is building bases in the area, is mobilising affected farmers to demand water from the reservoirs in their neighbourhood. The protests by the villagers are getting worse with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials being gheraoed last month. The sena even threatened to damage pipelines if their demands went unheeded.

However, with Mumbai facing severe water shortage, the authorities are unlikely to heed to the demands of the villagers. The authorities have already begun acquisition proceedings in nearly 80 villages to acquire land for the Middle Vaitarna scheme. 

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India condemns Gaza killings
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
India has condemned the killing of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces in an unprovoked attack on Friday, and appealed to all sides to desist from starting a new spiral of violence and counter-violence.

''The end of the ceasefire and the escalation of tensions that this tragic incident has triggered can have negative implications for the already volatile and fragile situation in the region. We urge all sides to desist from starting a new spiral of violence and counter-violence,'' a spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said.

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IAF for aeronautics commission
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
The Indian Air Force (IAF) yesterday suggested the setting up of a national aeronautics commission as a coordinating body between civil and military aviation for better management of the Indian airspace.

“A national aeronautics commission should be set up with representatives from the government, civil aviation agencies and the military aviation wings for airspace management,” Vice-Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani said at an international conference on helicopter safety issues here.

Besides airspace management, this body should also set up guidelines and maintenance procedures for the entire aviation sector in order to optimise resources in face of tremendous growth in the Indian aviation sector, he said.

Observing that the IAF has been operating helicopters in extreme weather conditions and differing terrain, he elaborated on several steps taken by the force in regard to flight safety and procedures.

On helicopter training, Air Marshal Bhavnani said flight simulators “will be part of the IAF’s procurement plan,” observing that investments in simulators would pay rich dividends, irrespective of costs.

However, as maintenance of these simulators was a costly affair, he said manufacturers could build, own and operate them in India and offer them to the IAF on an hourly basis.

The conference of the International Helicopter Safety Team, a body comprising helicopter operators and international aviation regulatory bodies, is aimed at planning a way forward to reduce chopper accidents by 80 per cent by 2016.

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‘Fanaa’protest: youth battles for life

Jamnagar, June 13
The condition of the youth, who attemped to immolate himself on Sunday to protest the screening of Aamir Khan starrer 'Fanaa', is said to be serious.
A team of doctors from a Ahmedabad hospital has been rushed to Jamnagar for his treatment, the Medical Superintendent of the local Civil Hospital, Dr Arun Vyas, said, where he had been admitted.

The victim, Pravin Joshi (30), a resident of Rajkot, went to see the film at Amber Cinema, which was the only theatre in Gujarat to have defied the boycott of the Aamir film, called by the Cinema Owners' Associations against the actor's remarks in support of the rehabilitation of Narmada dam oustees. He, however, attempted self-immolation during the intermission. He was rushed to the local Civil Hospital, where his condition is said to be critical.

Local BJP leaders held demonstration against Aamir and the cinema owners. The cinema house later withdrew the screening of the film, on ''humanitarian grounds.'' State labour Minister Morubhai Bera and Chandresh Patel, former MP, visited the victim at the hospital. Earlier, city legislator Vasuben Trivedi had promised to give him Rs 51,000 for his treatment. A 'Ram dhun' programme was organised by the BJP in Ahmedabad for his speedy recovery. — UNI

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Govt working on NSDI policy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
Following the union Cabinet’s approval earlier this month to the creation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), the Science and Technology Ministry has started working on a policy framework for the NSDI which will create a reliable and supporting environment to access geographically-related information using a minimum set of standard practices, protocols and specification.

While the policy framework is expected to be ready in the next two months, the NSDI will take about a year to standardise the data from various agencies and make it available in public domain after user charges are fixed.

Science and Technolgy Minister Kapil Sibal said here that the NSDI should synergise the work of various data producing agencies by eliminating duplication in their efforts and minimise transaction costs. Most developed countries had this type of infrastructure and efforts were being made to establish Global Spatial Data Infrastructure, he added.

Mr Sibal said advancement of information technology had revolutionised the utilisation of geospatial data and it now forms base information for planning and implementation of strategies for a wide range of activities, including defence, settlement and rehabilitation, health and education, environment protection, disaster management, residential zoning and urban and rural community development programmes. 

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Greenpeace opposes GM crops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
Three “cows” and as many “sheep” today sought an audience with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar this morning to present a memorandum and draw his attention to the “mysterious deaths of cattle” in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh.

Activists dressed as cows and sheep held a banner that said — “Did GM (genetically modified) crops kill us? Don’t legalise GM food!” — to demand an investigation into the death of 1600 cattle, who as per the NGO Greenpeace, had grazed in Bt cotton fields.

A fact-finding report by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Secunderabad, has indicated that the widespread death of sheep in April 2006 was closely linked to prolonged consumption of Bt cotton stalks and leaves that were left in fields after cotton had been harvested this season.

As per Greenpeace genetic engineering campaigner Rajesh Krishnan, the impact of GM technology on human health and biodiversity remain unpredictable, untested and irreversible. “Despite this, the government is on the verge of approving large-scale field trials of GM brinjal (eggplant) — the first GM food crop in India,” he said.

“Indians will be the first people in the world to eat GM brinjal. It is vital that the Agriculture Ministry first addresses the question raised by the ‘cows and sheep’ today — Can GM Foods kill?,” the activist said.

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Truckers threaten strike over sales tax
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 13
Owners of transport vehicles in Maharashtra under the banner of the Maharashtra Rajya Truck Tempo Tanker Bus Vahatuk Mahasangh have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the state government did not bring down sales tax on petro products.

The truckers' threat comes at a time when a section of the Maharashtra Government, including state Finance Minister Jayant Patil, is opposing a proposal to reduce sales tax on petro products.

The Maharashtra Cabinet is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the reduction in petroleum products by one rupee. Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had earlier told Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora that the state government was willing to forego sales tax on the increased price of petro products. 

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Minor cut in petrol, diesel prices in Delhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
The Delhi Government has made a marginal reduction in petrol and diesel prices by removing VAT from the increased amount.
The petrol will be 67 paise and diesel 22 paise cheaper in the national Capital.

The Minister of Finance, Delhi  Government, Dr A. K. Walia, said now petrol would cost Rs 46.84 per litre and diesel Rs 32.35 per litre once the new rates came into existence. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting held today.

The new prices will come into force within a week following notification of the government’s decision, Dr Walia said. The government will not be charging any VAT on the increased amount. The VAT cut on fuel prices will result in the Delhi Government losing a revenue of Rs 102 crore annually, he said.

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MP to promote handloom in Japan

New Delhi, June 13
In a move to attract foreign investment in the state, Madhya Pradesh Minister for Industries Babu Lal Gaur today left for Japan where he would also explore the possibility of exporting traditional handloom products and handicrafts, made in its two districts of Chhindwara and Seoni, to Japanese markets.

Mr Gaur told reporters here today that officers of the Madhya Pradesh Laghu Udyog Nigam (MPLUN), together with officers of the Japan External Trade Organisation and Japanese Embassy, have conducted joint tours of the two districts to assess their capacities. — TNS

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AIPMT schedule
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 13
The Central Board of Secondary Education has announced that the All India Pre Medical/Dental Entrance Examination as per the directive of the Supreme Court would be held as per schedule, the preliminary examination will be held on April 1, 2007 and the final on May 13, 2007.

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