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N A T I O N

Transfer of CBI official stayed
Bihar fodder scam 

Patna, November 5
In what appeared to be a severe indictment of the Union Home Ministry, the Jharkhand High Court yesterday stayed the transfer of CBI SP in Ranchi R.C. Chowdhury, who is heading the probe into multi-crore fodder scam.

Lalu still focus of Bihar politics
Patna, November 5
His bete noire, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, may have succeeded in grounding him in the poll last year after he had ruled Bihar for 15 years uninterruptedly. However, with or without power, RJD supremo and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav still hogs the limelight in Bihar politics.

Gurpurb, Kartik Purnima celebrated 
New Delhi, November 5
Sikhs across the country today celebrated the 538th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, offering prayers at gurdwaras and distributing food to the poor while Hindus took the ritual holy dip on occasion of Kartik Purnima.
President APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a programme of Gurbani recital by Bhai Saheb Gurkirat Singh, Hazoori Ragi, Sri Harmandir Sahib at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday President APJ Abdul Kalam (centre) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a programme of Gurbani recital by Bhai Saheb Gurkirat Singh, Hazoori Ragi, Sri Harmandir Sahib at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. — AFP








EARLIER STORIES




Congress president Sonia Gandhi attends the sixth Buddha Mahotsava in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, on Sunday
Congress president Sonia Gandhi attends the sixth Buddha Mahotsava in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, on Sunday. — PTI

2 more laws in line to arm women
New Delhi, November 5
After the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Centre is in the process of finalising two more important Bills to give more teeth to the law and further strengthen the status of women in society. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into effect from October 26, giving wide-ranging protection to wife, female live-in partner and other women members in a family.

Indo-Pak back-channel talks gain momentum
Kasuri arrives on Nov 26 for wedding of Aiyar’s daughter
New Delhi, November 5
Informal, back-channel parleys between India and Pakistan are gaining momentum days before the two countries’ Foreign Secretaries hold crucial talks here on November 14-15. Indian and Pakistani interlocutors, Mr Satish Lambah and Mr Tariq Aziz, respectively, are going to meet again in a few days at a neutral venue. The two held secret talks at a third country about a week ago.

Food streets to promote Indian cuisine
New Delhi, November 5
Western food chains offering fast food are posing severe threat to traditional Indian cuisine in the country. To counter this the Centre has proposed to introduce two separate schemes during the 11th Five-Year Plan (FYP) aimed at introduction of modern food carts and setting up and upgradation of food streets.

BJP to stall Parliament proceedings
New Delhi, November 5
The BJP has decided to disrupt Parliament on day one of the Winter Session, beginning November 22, in protest against what it called the delaying tactics adopted by Congress-led UPA government on the execution of Mohammad Afzal, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case.

33-year wait for justice
Patna, November 5
Surajnath Yadav of Bihar’s Bhojpur district is still paying the price for something he may or may not have committed when he was 13 years old. For 33 years, a local court has been trying to find out whether Surajnath really stole a pair of oxen from his neighbour in Nawadaben village in the same district.

Twins born to woman who lost 2 kids in tsunami
Kochi, November 5
Lissie and Sreejith, hit by the loss of their two children during the December 2004 tsunami, have been blessed with twins after Lissie underwent recanalisation surgery at the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) here.

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Transfer of CBI official stayed
Bihar fodder scam 
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 5
In what appeared to be a severe indictment of the Union Home Ministry, the Jharkhand High Court yesterday stayed the transfer of CBI SP in Ranchi R.C. Chowdhury, who is heading the probe into multi-crore fodder scam.

Taking serious exception to the move by the CBI, the court asked the officer to continue in his present assignment till further orders.

Earlier, the NDA in Bihar had accused the UPA of politically using the CBI to exonerate Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the multi-crore fodder scam case.

The reaction followed the decision by Mr Chowdhury to apply for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) on Thursday. The move was construed to be taken under “pressure” to allegedly safeguard some high-profile accused.

Both Mr Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra are among the accused in the case. They were sent to jails three times earlier in this case.

A Division Bench of chief justice Mr M. Karpagavinayagam and Mr Justice Permod Kholi also asked Mr Choudhary to appear before it and provide facts and circumstances leading to his transfer and his submission of voluntary retirement papers to his higher-ups. Mr Choudhary has been working in animal husbandry scam cell from 2001.He was transferred to Delhi late last month. He had sought voluntary retirement on “family grounds”.

The court further observed that the officer was transferred without its permission, as the court had restrained the CBI from transferring or changing any officer or staff probing the fodder scam cases without its nod.

Wondering whether the action by the CBI tantamount to contempt of court, the judges asked CBI counsel Rajesh Kumar to explain the reasons for transferring Mr Choudhary during the next hearing on November 17.

The Deputy Chief minister of the ruling NDA in Bihar and senior BJP leader Sushil Modi apprehended that Mr Chaudhary’s desire for early retirement might have a negative impact on the case trial.

Mr Modi alleged the UPA had been trying to replace upright officials engaged in the probe.

The Rs 950-crore fodder scam had surfaced in 1996 when Jharkhand was part of Bihar and the investigation was handed over to the CBI at the order of the Patna High Court. The scam saw fraudulent withdrawals from the state exchequer by officials in the Animal Husbandry Department.

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Lalu still focus of Bihar politics
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 5
His bete noire, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, may have succeeded in grounding him in the poll last year after he had ruled Bihar for 15 years uninterruptedly. However, with or without power, RJD supremo and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav still hogs the limelight in Bihar politics.

The fortnight-long electioneering to the prestigious Bhagalpur and Nalanda Lok Sabha byelections again bore testimony to this. The byelections are to be held tomorrow. While the ruling NDA was only expected to highlight the positive credentials of the Nitish raj during the past 11 months, UPA partners could not ignore him.

Despite the fact that the non-RJD UPA partners in Bihar, led by the Congress and the Left, were trying to emerge as a third alternative to the NDA and the RJD, they were wary of Mr Lalu Prasad.

From LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan to CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury, all of them targeted Mr Lalu Prasad more than Mr Nitish Kumar, justifying the need for realignment of UPA partners in Bihar, sans the RJD.

While Mr Ramvilas Paswan charged Mr Lalu Prasad with betraying the "coalition ethics" by fielding a candidate in Bhagalpur and supporting a dissident JD(U) candidate in Nalanda, both CPM’s Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D. Raja were vocal against the RJD supremo for weakening the UPA in Bihar.

Mr Lalu Prasad fielded Shakuni Chaudhury, a former minister, against UPA-backed CPM candidate Subodh Roy in Bhagalpur. In Nalanda,he is supporting renegade JD(U) leader Arun Kumar against CPI’s Gaya Singh.

Interestingly, while his UPA partners accused him of weakening the coalition in Bihar, Mr Lalu Prasad did not attach much importance to it.

Instead, he focused his attack on Mr Nitish Kumar and his ally, the BJP, claiming that he was still the pivot of anti-NDA politics in the state.

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Gurpurb, Kartik Purnima celebrated 

New Delhi, November 5
Sikhs across the country today celebrated the 538th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, offering prayers at gurdwaras and distributing food to the poor while Hindus took the ritual holy dip on occasion of Kartik Purnima.

Devotees queued up at Golden Temple in Amritsar since early morning to pay obeisance to the founder of Sikhism at its sanctum sanctorum and Akal Takht.

Before offering prayers, they bathed in the ‘sarovar’ (pool) of the temple complex and a special ‘langar’ (community kitchen) was organised to cater to nearly two lakh devotees.

President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended a ‘Gurbani’ recital at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Meanwhile, crowds flocked the 52 ghats of the Pushkar Sarovar in Pushkar, Rajasthan, today to take a dip on the occasion of Kartik Purnima in the hope of attaining salvation. “About 15 lakh devotees took a dip in the sarovar,” said Magistrate L D Yadav. A total of 23,815 animals, including 14,850 camels, were sold during the fair, which is held annually in Rajasthan.

In Hardwar, too, thousands of pilgrims today took holy dip in the Ganges at Har Ki Pauri.

In Allahabad too, thousands took a holy dip at the Sangam and other ghats today. The ritual of bathing started early in the morning and continued till noon.

The devotees also visited various temples and offered prayers and performed other rituals and gave alms to beggars. A huge rush was seen at Balua Ghat, on the bank of river Yamuna. Since the festival of Dev Divali also falls today, various programmes, including of ‘Deep Dan’ and ‘Ganga Aartis’, have been arranged in the night by various organisations.— Agencies

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2 more laws in line to arm women
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
After the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Centre is in the process of finalising two more important Bills to give more teeth to the law and further strengthen the status of women in society. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into effect from October 26, giving wide-ranging protection to wife, female live-in partner and other women members in a family.

While the Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women Bill, 2005, is now in its final shape and likely to be presented during the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament, inter-ministerial opinions are being sought on the draft Compulsory Registration of Marriages Bill, 2006. Both the Bills have been drafted by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development.

"Through compulsory registration, there will be definite accountability in place on marriages, more so in the case of NRI marriages where deserting is a common problem.

Sexual harassment at work place is also a harsh reality and women need to have proper safeguards in place before they venture out of their homes for work." Kamal Pandey, advocate for NGO Shakti Vahini says.

Regarding the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Bill, 2006, the Law Ministry has given some suggestions to the nodal ministry to work on. But the Act to protect women against sexual harassment at workplace, the Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women Bill, 2005, is ready and likely to figure during the winter session.

The law to safeguard the interests of married women seeks to provide compulsory registration of all marriages solemnised in the country in order to prevent child marriages, check bigamy or polygamy, help women exercise their rights of maintenance from husband and custody of children and to enable widows to claim inheritance. It will also serve as a deterrent to husbands deserting their wives and for matters connected.

The Protection Against Sexual Harassment of Women Bill, 2005, seeks to confer upon the women the right to protection against sexual harassment and towards that end for prevention and redressal of sexual harassment of women. However, the Director of the Centre for Social Research, Ms Ranjana Kumari, is not too happy with the final shape of the Bill. “We are excited. however, the Bill is not acceptable in its current form. There is no provision for time-bound action and the punishment is too less. There is also this very important issue of presumption clause". 

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Indo-Pak back-channel talks gain momentum
Kasuri arrives on Nov 26 for wedding of Aiyar’s daughter 
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Informal, back-channel parleys between India and Pakistan are gaining momentum days before the two countries’ Foreign Secretaries hold crucial talks here on November 14-15.

Indian and Pakistani interlocutors, Mr Satish Lambah and Mr Tariq Aziz, respectively, are going to meet again in a few days at a neutral venue. The two held secret talks at a third country about a week ago. This correspondent understands that the Lambah-Aziz back-channel talks were on when Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri gave his controversial statement on Siachen dispute.

The latest round of Indo-Pak back channel talks is likely to focus on two things: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s pending visit to Pakistan, and issues that are to be on the agenda of the two Foreign Secretaries.

Mr Kasuri is likely to come here on November 26 on a private visit to attend the wedding reception of Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s daughter the same evening. Mr Kasuri and Mr Aiyar have studied together in the UK and have been friends for decades.

The wedding reception may well become a platform for Mr Kasuri and his Indian counterpart, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, to meet informally. The take of “insiders” from both the sides is that if the Foreign Secretary-level talks go off well, an announcement regarding Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan may be made on November 26.

Mr Kasuri has stirred a major controversy in the strategic circles here by his suo motu announcement that the two neighbours were close to clinch a mutually acceptable deal on Siachen dispute and it all depended on whether the Indian leadership was prepared to muster political will for the purpose. The political leadership as well as the Ministry of External Affairs here have expressed surprise on Mr Kasuri’s Siachen statement.

New Delhi’s official position on Siachen remains unchanged: that any resolution can not be possible until Pakistan agrees to authentication of the troops’ positions on the glacier from either side. Pakistan has so far refused to accept this and that is where the Siachen impasse remains since the two countries’ Defence Secretaries talks here May this year reached a dead-end.

The second issue before the Indian and Pakistani back channel interlocutors would be agenda items for the Foreign Secretary-level talks. High on the formal talks’ agenda would the Indo-Pak Joint Mechanism to counter terror. The two Foreign Secretaries are expected to decide when and where the meeting of this institutionalised meeting would be held.

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Food streets to promote Indian cuisine
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Western food chains offering fast food are posing severe threat to traditional Indian cuisine in the country. To counter this the Centre has proposed to introduce two separate schemes during the 11th Five-Year Plan (FYP) aimed at introduction of modern food carts and setting up and upgradation of food streets.

These two schemes have been proposed by the Ministry of Food Processing and Industry (MFPI) as it has found that while thousands of Indian restaurants are coming up across the globe as preference for Indian cuisine is on the increase, traditional food streets in the country have failed to attract tourists as they are invariably crowded and sanitation levels are too low to attract them..

Under the‘Safe Food Town’ scheme, aimed at laying down standards, quality upgradation and capacity building of street food vendors in 50 cities in the country, the MFPI has proposed to introduce 2000 to 5000 modern food carts in identified cities leading to upgradation of at least 50,000 food-vending carts in the country during the 11th FYP.

The scheme envisages the capacity-building activities among the street food vendors and formation of viable micro-finance linkages. Micro-finance tools like credit and insurance would therefore be an integral part of capacity building exercises.

According to a ‘vision document’ prepared by MFPI, the scheme would provide for funding of integrated projects which include bringing together of food vendors, development of training tools, sensitisation and training programmes for vendors and introduction of modern food carts among food vendors.

The scheme would be operated through Implementing Agencies (IAs), which would be eligible to get 10 per cent of the entire project cost as implementation charges.

A cart is estimated to cost Rs 30,000. A financial assistance at the rate of 25 per cent per cart is proposed to be made available to vendors. The scheme outlay for the 11th FYP has been proposed at Rs 52.5 crore.

As far the second scheme, aimed at upgradation and setting up of food streets, the MFPI has proposed setting up of one food street each in 25 select cities of the country.

It has been proposed to implement the scheme in six cities during the current financial year (2006-07) and a token provision of Rs 5 crore has been proposed for the current year.

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BJP to stall Parliament proceedings
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The BJP has decided to disrupt Parliament on day one of the Winter Session, beginning November 22, in protest against what it called the delaying tactics adopted by Congress-led UPA government on the execution of Mohammad Afzal, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case.

The party has also decided to hold a "massive" rally on the issue at the Ram Lila Grounds and gherao Parliament to lodge its protest over the delay and press for Afzal's early execution.

"A man, who is accused of perpetrating terror attack and who has been awarded capital punishment after due process of law, should not be pardoned....It will send a very wrong signal," BJP vice-president M A Naqvi told newspersons.

He said the delaying tactics adopted by the UPA government amply reflect its weakness in dealing with terrorism and internal security situation.

Meanwhile, BJP Parliamentary Party leader V K Malhotra said his party would use all democratic means to expose the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government on the issue of terrorism, with a focus on the Afzal issue.

Top leaders of the party will also pay homage to the security personnel who laid down their lives while fighting the terrorists, who intruded the Parliament complex on December 13, 2001, Mr Malhotra said.

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33-year wait for justice
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 5
Surajnath Yadav of Bihar’s Bhojpur district is still paying the price for something he may or may not have committed when he was 13 years old.
For 33 years, a local court has been trying to find out whether Surajnath really stole a pair of oxen from his neighbour in Nawadaben village in the same district.

Forty-six-year-old Surajnath is the only survivor of five villagers accused of stealing a pair of oxen in 1973. Today Surajnath is the father of four children.

But for the poor farmer, the trial is far from over. Every three months he has to walk 20 km from his village to the court spending Rs 100 for travel and paying fees to the lawyer.

Official sources in the district administration said even if Surajnath was found guilty, the maximum punishment would not have been more than three years in prison

It was also learnt that even though the "missing" oxen were actually found seven months after the theft, the complainant's family had pursued the case even after the death of Ramvrisksha Yadav.This was reportedly because of animosity only.

The advocate of Surajnath, Rajesh Jain, said, "This case has been pending for the past 33 years. In 1997 a judge hearing the case had ordered it to be closed. But the deceased complainant's son had filed a revised petition".

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Twins born to woman who lost 2 kids in tsunami

Kochi, November 5
Lissie and Sreejith, hit by the loss of their two children during the December 2004 tsunami, have been blessed with twins after Lissie underwent recanalisation surgery at the Amritha Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) here.

Lissie was among eight women who had undergone the recanalisation procedure at AIMS last year after losing children in the disaster.

Four of them had conceived after the surgery. One had already given birth to a girl a month ago. Lissie gave birth to a boy and a girl through Ceaserian section in the hospital on October 30. The mother and children were progressing well, a spokesperson for AIMS said here yesterday.

The spokesperson said the women had been told that there was only a 30 to 40 per cent chance of conceiving. Lissie and Sreejith from Alappad in Alappuzha district of Kerala had lost their eight-year-old daughter Alisha and four-year-old son Kalidasan. — UNI

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