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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

Relaxed visa norms on anvil
Indo-Pakistan foreign secretary talks

New Delhi, March 9
As foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon departs for Islamabad three days later for kicking off the fourth round of composite dialogue process, the Indo-Pak ties are on the verge of crossing the camel’s hump and breaking new grounds.

Ailing Geelani asks Pakistan to leave Kashmiris alone
New Delhi, March 9
Faced with life threatening cancer, Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani says Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf "should leave us alone if he cannot support us".

Victims’ kin burn Pandher’s effigy, say CBI saving him
Noida, March 9
The infamous Nithari village near here was today on the boil again with relatives of victims attacking the house of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two accused in the serial killings case.
A woman throws a stone at the house of Moninder Singh Pandher, accused in the Nithari serial killings case, at Nithari in Noida on Friday. — PTI photo
A woman throws a stone at the house of Moninder Singh Pandher, accused in the Nithari serial killings case, at Nithari in Noida on Friday





 

EARLIER STORIES




NHRC to rescue of school kids
Flays admn for forcing children to stand in wait of VIPs
New Delhi, March 9
At last, schoolchildren who are made to stand in the scorching sun at functions for the chief guest or the VIPs can look forward to some relief. The National Human Rights Commission today sent a show-cause notice to the Utter Pradesh chief secretary, criticising the callous attitude of the Kanpur administration that resulted in 49 children falling sick while waiting for the chief guest during Gandhi  jayanti celebrations on October 11, 2005.

Justice Bali is CAT chairman
NEew Delhi, March 9
Former Kerala Chief Justice V K Bali has been appointed the chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Justice Bali, who retired as High Court Chief Justice on January 24, took the charge of his new assignment here on Thursday.

MLA’s briefcase stolen from Assembly
Dehra Dun, March 9
Uttarakhand MLA Kishore Upadhyay's briefcase went missing from the state Assembly premises here today. The briefcase containing important papers and money went missing when Upadhyay went to the bathroom keeping it in the lobby where several other legislators from both ruling BJP and the Congress were sitting.

Book on Karan Singh released
New Delhi, March 9
In the proximity of spring fresh roses and verdant lawns at the India International Center, Pranab Mukherjee, the union minister for external affairs launched, Karan Singh: A Tryst With History, a pictorial biography on Dr Karan Singh.

Biggest-ever tax evasion scam nets bigwigs
Mumbai, March 9
The biggest-ever income tax evasion scam has netted the names of prominent personalities. A combined probe launched has thrown up names of more than 28 prominent politicians from Maharashtra and Delhi, who allegedly routed black money via alleged Pune-based hawala operator Hasan Ali.



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Relaxed visa norms on anvil
Indo-Pakistan foreign secretary talks
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
As foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon departs for Islamabad three days later for kicking off the fourth round of composite dialogue process, the Indo-Pak ties are on the verge of crossing the camel’s hump and breaking new grounds.

The two neighbours have finally agreed to grant greater access to each other’s diplomats who were of late restricted to moving about in each other’s capital cities only. As a result, the Indian diplomats in Pakistan can now travel to Taxila and Hassan Abdal (new name of Panja Sahib) and the Pakistani diplomats in India are now free to visit Noida and Gurgaon. More relaxation of the visa regime is on the cards.

More positive moves are in the pipeline.The much-awaited inter-LoC truck service is now going to be operational by this summer as the necessary custom-related formalities and paper work are at the final stages of completion.

The two governments are aware that bus services between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Amritsar and Nankana Sahib are not getting as many passengers as they should and are going to put their heads together on making these bus services more attractive and affordable. Especially the bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib is under the two governments’ scrutiny as there are few takers. That is because the fare is on the higher side and people prefer to walk across after obtaining necessary permissions, instead of using

the bus service. Talks are already on between India and Pakistan to simplify procedures and rationalise the fares, the latter an euphemism for reducing the fare.

At the March 13-14 foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, New Delhi’s strategy will be three-fold: (i) further liberalise the visa regime for tourism, pilgrimage and business; (ii) adopt a humane approach towards inadvertent LoC-crossers; and (iii) increase Indo-Pak cooperation at SAARC level too.

On the first point, Pakistan has recently submitted the second draft on visa relaxation regime after India rejected the first Pakistani draft. India found the first Pakistani draft too regressive which, if implmented, would have put the clock back and actually curtailed the existing visa facilities. The second draft is more amenable to New Delhi.

Secondly, the two neighbours are more agreeable than ever before on the need to ensure speedy return of inadvertent LoC-crossers. Both countries realise the futility of keeping small children or young adults in each other’s jails just because they happened to cross the LoC inadvertently.

The third point demonstrates the increasing comfort-level in Indo-Pak relations as the two countries now find themselves ready for widening their ambit of cooperation from bilateral to multi-lateral fora like SAARC. Having increasing cooperation with Pakistan to SAARC-related issues, therefore, would be high on Menon’s agenda during his formal taks with his Pakistani counterpart. A meeting of vice-chancellors of South Asian universities is already taking place here for increasing cooperation in education and setting up a South Asian university. India, which will be hosting the 14th SAARC summit next month, will be keen on Pakistan’s cooperation.

However, there is a dark lining in this otherwise silver scenario: that the infrastructure of terrorism is intact in Pakistan. Infiltration is just a small manifestation of this problem and New Delhi will hold Islamabad’s words to its deeds.

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Ailing Geelani asks Pakistan to leave Kashmiris alone
Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi, March 9
Faced with life threatening cancer, Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani says Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf "should leave us alone if he cannot support us".

In an interview before leaving for the US for medical treatment, Geelani, 77, also made it clear that even the slightest shift from UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite to decide Jammu and Kashmir's future would amount to "surrender".

"Agreeing to all other formulae other than the plebiscite under UN supervision is a surrender and that is what Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and his other supporters have done," said hardline Hurriyat leader Geelani, referring to leaders of the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

Geelani, diagnosed with severe renal cancer, had equally harsh words for Musharraf, who is engaged in a peace process with India much to the shock of the more militant elements in both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan.

"So what if the Pakistan Government too shifted its stance (of supporting UN resolutions)? Kashmiris would never forget that the solution to Kashmir issue lies only with the UN," Geelani told IANS, seated on a bed at a modest south Delhi residence of a sympathiser.

"I have already asked Pakistan President Musharraf to leave us alone if he cannot support us," he added.Geelani said nothing less than self-determination was acceptable to Kashmiri people. All other "short cuts" like self-governance, autonomy, joint management and soft border would lead to "surrender" before India.

Large sections in Pakistan continue to view Geelani as their staunchest ally in Jammu and Kashmir. Geelani is a passionate advocate of the state's accession to Pakistan.

Asked if he would like to see the divided separatist camp reunite, Geelani answered: "I have never been averse to unity. If all people unite for the right to self-determination, I will welcome them in the amalgam."
Geelani said the "so-called peace process" had yielded nothing so far. Geelani's health deteriorated last week and doctors in New Delhi advised him to shift to the US for surgery.

Geelani's passport, impounded in 1981, was issued on Thursday after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened. Geelani will soon be leaving to the US.

"My health is in a poor shape and I will be missed (by my supporters)," he said, sounding worried. He has nominated two trusted lieutenants to head his party, the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir and his faction of the Hurriyat.

In his absence, Geelani's deputy Ghulam Nabi Sumjhi will head the Hurriyat factionwhile Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, a former Jamat-e-Islami leader, has been nominated its acting chairman.

Suggesting that Jammu and Kashmir could see new Assembly elections soon, Geelani said he had urged his supporters to stay away from the electoral process.

"I ask Kashmiri people and freedom fighters in particular to maintain unity, not to forget the sacrifices of Kashmiris and take the struggle to its logical end, no matter how difficult it is," he said. "This is my last wish."
He added: "I am prepared for anything as I am well aware of the disease

Iam suffering from. I hope the movement (for plebiscite) will be taken forward with or without Geelani." — IANS

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Victims’ kin burn Pandher’s effigy, say CBI saving him
Nalini Ranjan

Noida, March 9
The infamous Nithari village near here was today on the boil again with relatives of victims attacking the house of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two accused in the serial killings case.

Scores of persons descended outside the D-5 residence of Pandher this morning to protest what they called as attempts by the CBI to "save him" by framing his domestic help Surinder Koli, the second accused in the case.

The protesters broke the security barricades, pelted stones at the house and set on fire the effigies of Pandher and Surinder as a handful of Uttar Pradesh policemen looked on.

The police personnel found it difficult to control the angry crowd, most of them women, as there was only one woman constable with them and the drama continued for over an hour before senior police officials intervened.

The protestors, who were demanding an audience with the CBI Director, dispersed after Senior Superintendent of Police (Noida) reached the spot and promised to look into their grievances.

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NHRC to rescue of school kids
Flays admn for forcing children to stand in wait of VIPs
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
At last, schoolchildren who are made to stand in the scorching sun at functions for the chief guest or the VIPs can look forward to some relief.
The National Human Rights Commission today sent a show-cause notice to the Utter Pradesh chief secretary, criticising the callous attitude of the Kanpur administration that resulted in 49 children falling sick while waiting for the chief guest during Gandhi jayanti celebrations on October 11, 2005.

After going through the report sent by the Kanpur administration following its earlier notice, the commission said the document clearly indicated that some children became unwell after being under the sun for close to four hours.

The NHRC questioned that “ why interim relief should not be recommended to these 49 children who became unwell due to the irresponsible attitude of the local administration,” giving the Kanpur administration four weeks’ time for response.

The NHRC missive comes following a complaint filed by advocate Nivedita Sharma, who highlighted the “inhuman and irresponsible attitude” of the Kanpur administration at a function on October 11, 2005. According to the complaint, the children of a school were asked to gather at 6 am for the Gandhi jayanti function that was scheduled to start at 10 am.

The chief guest, however, reached the venue at 1 pm and the children were forced to sit in scorching heat without food or shelter As a result, many children fainted. There was also no arrangement for first-aid or transport at the venue and most parents had to shift their children to private nursing homes and hospitals, the complaint added.

Taking cognisance of the complaint, the commission issued notice to the district magistrate, Kanpur, asking for a report. The report received from ADM, Kanpur contained the joint inquiry prepared by the SSP and the DM, Kanpur.

The joint report said that five doctors, two ambulances and four water tankers had been arranged to take care of the children. It also stated that 10,000 children had gathered in the open and some of them became unwell at 10.45 am and 49 children were sent to hospital. As per the NHRC, the local administration had admitted that some children became unwell after more than four hours of being under the heat of the sun " yet no steps were taken to protect other children from the scorching sun."

"After the condition of 49 children deteriorated, the administration should have taken immediate measures to provide some relief to others who continued to sit in the sun for another three hours.

This indicates a total lack of care on the part of the administration for the health of the children and it is a case of blatant violation of human rights of children," observed the NHRC.

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Justice Bali is CAT chairman
Tribune News Service

NEew Delhi, March 9
Former Kerala Chief Justice V K Bali has been appointed the chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Justice Bali, who retired as High Court Chief Justice on January 24, took the charge of his new assignment here on Thursday.

Before becoming the Kerala High Court Chief Justice in January 2006, he served as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for over 15 years.

The appointment of Justice Bali, having rich experience in both criminal and civil laws was earlier cleared by the President on the advice of the Union government.

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MLA’s briefcase stolen from Assembly

Dehra Dun, March 9
Uttarakhand MLA Kishore Upadhyay's briefcase went missing from the state Assembly premises here today.
The briefcase containing important papers and money went missing when Upadhyay went to the bathroom keeping it in the lobby where several other legislators from both ruling BJP and the Congress were sitting.

"I have lodged a report in this regard with the secretary, Vidhan Sabha," Upadhayay, the Congress MLA from Tehri said. "This is very strange that the briefcase went missing from the assembly," he said. Today ,the newly elected MLAs took oath as legislators.— PTI

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Book on Karan Singh released
Charu Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
In the proximity of spring fresh roses and verdant lawns at the India International Center, Pranab Mukherjee, the union minister for external affairs launched, Karan Singh: A Tryst With History, a pictorial biography on Dr Karan Singh.

The book focuses on the personal and political life of Dr Karan Singh and the day also happened to be his birthday adding to the occasion.

Foreword to the book has been written by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and it was read out by Pavan K. Varma, the director, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The Prime Minister described Dr Karan Singh as one of the most respected cultural ambassadors of the nation having profound understanding of India. He further expressed that, it was Dr Karan Singh’s personal association with the former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, that had a profound effect on him and his growth as a statesman, a scholar and a visionary.

Pranab Mukherjee said,“till today we are benefiting from his immense knowledge, his wisdom and his multi-faceted personality.”

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Biggest-ever tax evasion scam nets bigwigs
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 9
The biggest-ever income tax evasion scam has netted the names of prominent personalities.
A combined probe launched has thrown up names of more than 28 prominent politicians from Maharashtra and Delhi, who allegedly routed black money via alleged Pune-based hawala operator Hasan Ali.

Today, investigators revealed the name of one Kashinath Tapadia, a relative of the late Priyamvada Birla, who allegedly was conduit between Ali and prominent corporate houses in the country. 

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