SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Cong gaining lost ground in MP
New Delhi, March 12
Two Lok Sabha and one Assembly byelections in Madhya Pradesh, whose results were announced yesterday evening, indicate that the Congress is in a position to recover its lost political ground provided the old party can manage its squabble and internal rivalries.

BJP walkout in UP over probe order
Lucknow, March 12
Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey today directed the state government to order a high-level probe into the taped conversation allegedly between the PIL petitioner demanding a probe against the Chief Minister and his family and a journalist.

BJP, JD(U), Apna Dal forge pact
New Delhi, March 12
High on morale following its electoral gains in Uttarakhand and Punjab, the BJP has formed an alliance with the JD(U) and the Apna Dal for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Sex with consent by teacher not rape: SC
New Delhi, March 12
In a judgement that looks unconventional in the context of Indian culture, the Supreme Court has said that if a girl student of major age and her teacher fall in love, the teacher cannot be hauled up for rape or forced sexual relations provided the student is a consenting partner and the physical contacts between them do not take place within the precincts of the educational institute.

Jailed MLA seeks security in House
Lucknow, March 12
Responding to the startling disclosure of incarcerated independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari of a conspiracy to kill him inside the Vidhan Sabha premises, the state government today directed the STF to probe the matter.

Seven-year-old Sushma Verma appears for the Class X UP Board exam in Lucknow on Monday
Seven-year-old Sushma Verma appears for the Class X UP Board exam in Lucknow on Monday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES




INSAT-4B launched
Bangalore, March 12
India's satellite INSAT-4B was successfully launched from Kourou in French Guiana today giving a fresh momentum to direct-to-home television services. The 3,025 kg spacecraft rode into space with co-passenger British military satellite Skynet-5A on board commercial launch service provider Arianespace's Ariane-5 rocket from the South American spaceport after a precise launch. Rs 210 crore satellite built by Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore, is equipped with 24 communication transponders. — PTI

Western disturbance causing rain
New Delhi, March 12
Western disturbance during this time of the year is not uncommon, the difference, however, lies in its intensity. In what environmentalists would perhaps refer to as another indication of climate change, the current western disturbance is “unusually strong” in nature.

Communal tension over obscene video 
Dehra Dun, March 12
Communal tension has gripped Srinagar Garhwal, the home constituency of Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C Khanduri following public outrage over the circulation of an obscene video clip involving a young local boy and a girl belonging to different religions.

Raj men smash Nirupam’s car
Mumbai, March 12
The war of words between Raj Thackeray and Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam took a violent turn on Sunday night when the former's men smashed the latter's car in Mumbai.

Strong western disturbance causing rain
New Delhi, March 12
Western disturbance during this time of the year is not uncommon, the difference, however, lies in its intensity. In what environmentalists would perhaps refer to as another indication of climate change, the current western disturbance is “unusually strong” in nature.

Pranab’s 4-day Japan visit from March 21
New Delhi, March 12
Japan’s role in SAARC and its intensified all-round engagement with India will come under sharp focus when external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee pays a four-day bilateral visit to Japan from March 21.

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Cong gaining lost ground in MP
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
Two Lok Sabha and one Assembly byelections in Madhya Pradesh, whose results were announced yesterday evening, indicate that the Congress is in a position to recover its lost political ground provided the old party can manage its squabble and internal rivalries.

While the ruling BJP won the Gwalior Lok Sabha and Udaipura Assembly seats, the Congress wrested the Sidhi Lok Sabha seat from the ruling party. A closer analysis of the results show that the Congress could have even won the Gwalior seat if a more determined battle would have been fought.

The Congress campaign was marked by dissension and absence of planning and strategy. The BJP, on the other hand, had put in a better show.

In Gwalior, a member of the erstwhile ruling family Yashodhara Raje Scindia won by a margin of 35,000 votes which in terms a parliamentary election cannot be called a comfortable performance, particularly seen in context of number of rallies and meetings that the BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state party president Narendra Singh Tomar had addressed in the constituency. Not only that Tomar hails from Gwalior but Chouhan had made the byelection a prestige issue.

Even former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's nephews Anoop Mishra and Narottam Mishra, who are ministers in the Chouhan's cabinet, were asked by the Chief Minister to put in extra work for the BJP candidate.

On the other side, the Congress campaign was directed by young MP from the neighbouring constituency of Guna Jyotiradiditya Scindia and none other Congress leader came and campaigned for the Congress candidate Ashok Singh.

The BJP's margin in the Karera Assembly segment of the Gwalior Lok Sabha was the highest at 19,000 votes. A former minister K.P. Singh, an ardent follower of former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, wields considerable influence over this particular region. Rivalry between the Scindias and "Diggy Raja" is well known and his follower ensured the defeat of the Congress candidate, observers said.

In Sidhi, Congress candidate Manik Singh defeated his nearest BJP rival Kunwar Singh by a razor thin margin of 1,596 votes. The Congress campaign was handled by HRD minister Arjun Singh's son Ajay Singh who is popularly known as "Rahul".

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BJP walkout in UP over probe order
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 12
Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey today directed the state government to order a high-level probe into the taped conversation allegedly between the PIL petitioner demanding a probe against the Chief Minister and his family and a journalist.

Refusing to be the party to the proceedings, the BJP staged a walkout over what they described as “Samajwadi Party misusing the Vidhan Sabha for political purposes”.

Raising the matter as a point of order in the Vidhan Sabha today, Samajwadi Party MLA Chhote Lal Yadav wanted the House to take a decision on the CD that reportedly had Vishwanath Chaturvedi, the PIL petitioner, in conversation with a journalist, commenting on at least two members of the House - the CM and a senior Congress leader.

Describing the matter as “serious” as the tape had objectionable comments against constitutional offices, the speaker directed the state government to order a high-level probe.

Responding on behalf of the government, parliamentary affairs minister Mohammad Azam Khan called the matter a conspiracy of the Congress ahead of the Vidhan Sabha poll.

According to him, the matter deserved a thorough probe on three counts. First, it contained objectionable comments against a member of the judiciary, which is a constitutional office.

Explaining why the House should take cognizance of the tape, Khan said it not only mentioned two members of the Vidhan Sabha but also used extremely offensive language against one of them who happened to be a senior Congress leader.

Thirdly, Khan pointed out that during the conversation, Chaturvedi had allegedly claimed that the Supreme Court decision would go in his favour that was virtually undermining the independence of the judiciary.

Walking out of the House, leader of the opposition Lalji Tandon expressed anguish at the Samajwadi Party misusing the Vidhan Sabha for political purposes on the eve of the Vidhan Sabha elections by lashing out against the judiciary and not even sparing the Raj Bhawan.

Refusing to be the party to their machinations, the BJP leader wondered how the House could take up and decide on a matter that was completely beyond its jurisdiction.

Defending the decision of the House, the speaker said the House could definitely take up the matter when chairman of the Rajya Sabha Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had taken it up and asked for an inquiry.

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BJP, JD(U), Apna Dal forge pact

New Delhi, March 12
High on morale following its electoral gains in Uttarakhand and Punjab, the BJP has formed an alliance with the JD(U) and the Apna Dal for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said today that they would contest the poll as an effective alliance against the SP and the BSP.

Yadav, along with BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Apna Dal chief Sonelal Patel, did not give break-up of the seats but said an understanding had been reached for almost all seats. — TNS

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Sex with consent by teacher not rape: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 12
In a judgement that looks unconventional in the context of Indian culture, the Supreme Court has said that if a girl student of major age and her teacher fall in love, the teacher cannot be hauled up for rape or forced sexual relations provided the student is a consenting partner and the physical contacts between them do not take place within the precincts of the educational institute.

Holding that in such cases the rule of strict interpretation of penal provisions has to be adhered to, a Bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju said “if a (girl) student and a teacher fall in love with each other, the same would not mean that the teacher has taken undue advantage of his official position. Even then, there must be an inducement or seduction by a public servant so far as the woman in his custody is concerned.”

The judgement came on an appeal by Onkar Prasad Verma, a teacher in MP, who was chargesheeted for rape of a class VII student and using his position as public servant for being a government schoolteacher to force her to have physical relations with him.

The trial court found that the girl student though studying in class VII was a major (18 years) as she had failed many times. The trial judge in its judgement had “categorically” held that the accused teacher was not found guilty of the rape charges as the report against the teacher was filed only after she became pregnant.

But still he was convicted and sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment.

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Jailed MLA seeks security in House
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 12
Responding to the startling disclosure of incarcerated independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari of a conspiracy to kill him inside the Vidhan Sabha premises, the state government today directed the STF to probe the matter.

Calling it a breach of security, the MLA said as he was lodged in jail and as such his security was completely the responsibility of the state government.

Demanding increased security inside the house Ansari said his life was under threat and if he was attacked inside the house many innocent persons could also be killed in the cross fire.

He demanded that the police personnel posted on security duty should be issued special identity cards so that no armed criminal could enter the premises disguised in police uniform

As soon as the House assembled this morning the independent MLA from Mau, lodged in Ghazipur jail in connection with the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanad Rai, stood up to draw the attention of the house to reportedly failed attempt to kill him inside the Vidhan Sabha.

Accusing BJP president Rajnath Singh, former BJP minister Surya Pratap Shahi, mafia don Brijesh Singh and his men of hatching a plot to get rid of him, Ansari said even some present day ministers and senior police officials were aiding and abetting them in carrying out this scheme. Explaining why he was taking up the matter now Ansari said that he learnt two days ago that the Varanasi police had arrested a small time criminal Raju Tewari on December 18 for possession of illegal arms including AK 47.

During interrogation Tewari reportedly confessed to entering the Vidhan Sabha with arms to kill Ansari and having missed him narrowly at least twice-once when Ansari entered the elevator and once again when he left the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohammad Azam Khan’s room through a side gate.

Describing the matter as “grave” Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered a probe by the Special Task Force that would verify the charges.

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Western disturbance causing rain
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
Western disturbance during this time of the year is not uncommon, the difference, however, lies in its intensity. In what environmentalists would perhaps refer to as another indication of climate change, the current western disturbance is “unusually strong” in nature.

“Western disturbances are quite common during March. But unusually strong western disturbance, causing such intense weather as is being witnessed now, does not occur every year,” says IMD director S.C Bhan about the current weather phenomenon. The western disturbance, which arrived on March 11, has been the cause of widespread bad weather conditions and enhanced precipitation activity over the entire Himalayan region, northern plains and Rajasthan.

Accompanied by moisture that it has been receiving from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the distribution of the area that it is affecting is also quite widespread. “The current western disturbance has affected areas right up to eastern UP,” says Bhan. In fact, for Tuesday in particular, isolated to heavy rains have been predicted for most of India, including east, northeast, south, west and central parts.

Under the influence of this disturbance heavy rain and snow has been experienced in many places in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand. In what is being referred to as the first major snowfall of 2007 in the city, Srinagar witnessed some fresh snowfall early this morning after heavy rains during the night, throwing life completely out of gear. Though record snowfall in Kashmir during February 2005 still holds good.

The met office says that in the next 24 hours, rain or snow is likely at most places over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand. It is likely to decrease thereafter.

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Communal tension over obscene video 
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, March 12
Communal tension has gripped Srinagar Garhwal, the home constituency of Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C Khanduri following public outrage over the circulation of an obscene video clip involving a young local boy and a girl belonging to different religions.

Though the video clip showing the boy and the girl in a compromising position has been in circulation for the past several days but trouble started on Sunday evening after both were identified as local residents.

The boy, identified as Faisal Khan, runs a shop while the girl belonging to the majority community is a student of HNB Garhwal University.

Amid heavy deployment of the police, a complete bandh was observed in the city today. Some youths tried to take out a protest march but the attempt was foiled. SP A.P Anshuman told TNS that situation was under control and no untoward incident took place.

However, yesterday a mob, including workers of the ruling BJP and Bajrang Dal turned violent and attacked shops and rehris owned by members of minority community.

The protesters also blocked the national highway to protest against police action.

The police has arrested the youth under Sections 6 and 67 of the IT Act as well as 294 and 376 of the IPC on the statement of the girl that the accused had made the video clip by drugging her. The accused has been sent to jail at Pauri. Uttarakhand DGP has instructed the district police to investigate the case and take action.

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Raj men smash Nirupam’s car
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 12
The war of words between Raj Thackeray and Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam took a violent turn on Sunday night when the former's men smashed the latter's car in Mumbai.

In his complaint to the police, Nirupam said he suspected the attack to be the handiwork of MNS activists following his demand that Raj Thackeray be arrested for fomenting enmity between different groups.

The journalist-turned-politician's car was attacked with stones and pipes, and severely damaged. Following the incident, Nirupam and several of his men who are part of the Congress’ North Indian Front burned effigies of MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

After Raj Thackeray asked his followers to beat up North Indians last week, Nirupam said he would join battle with him. Several protests by Nirupam have been undertaken in the past week.

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Strong western disturbance causing rain
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
Western disturbance during this time of the year is not uncommon, the difference, however, lies in its intensity. In what environmentalists would perhaps refer to as another indication of climate change, the current western disturbance is “unusually strong” in nature.

“Western disturbances are quite common during March. But unusually strong western disturbance, causing such intense weather as is being witnessed now, does not occur every year,” says IMD director S.C Bhan about the current weather phenomenon. The western disturbance, which arrived on March 11, has been the cause of widespread bad weather conditions and enhanced precipitation activity over the entire Himalayan region, northern plains and Rajasthan.

Accompanied by moisture that it has been receiving from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, the distribution of the area that it is affecting is also quite widespread. “The current western disturbance has affected areas right up to eastern UP,” says Bhan. In fact, for Tuesday in particular, isolated to heavy rains have been predicted for most of India, including east, northeast, south, west and central parts.

Under the influence of this disturbance heavy rain and snow has been experienced in many places in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand. In what is being referred to as the first major snowfall of 2007 in the city, Srinagar witnessed some fresh snowfall early this morning after heavy rains during the night, throwing life completely out of gear. Though record snowfall in Kashmir during February 2005 still holds good.

The met office says that in the next 24 hours, rain or snow is likely at most places over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand. It is likely to decrease thereafter.

Besides this, thundershowers are also likely at many places in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and west Uttar Pradesh during the next 24 hours. After the rainfall ceases, fog is likely at some places over plains of the northwest from Wednesday night till Thursday morning.

The met office has also issued a warning of heavy rainfall accompanied with hail or squall over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand. Though quite welcome at least in plains, temperatures have also taken a dip and maximum temperatures all over the north are currently registering nine to 10 degrees below the normal. 

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Pranab’s 4-day Japan visit from March 21
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
Japan’s role in SAARC and its intensified all-round engagement with India will come under sharp focus when external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee pays a four-day bilateral visit to Japan from March 21.

Mukherjee’s visit is taking place on Japan’s insistence as Tokyo wanted the EAM to be there before the 14th SAARC summit begins in New Delhi on April 3. Japan has been given an observer status for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India is going to take over the rotating chairmanship of SAARC from Bangladesh at next month’s summit.

Of late, Japan has started paying greater attention to India in view of the fast-changing geo-politic environment, particularly the China factor. China’s relations with India have been steadily improving in the past few years, while Beijing-Tokyo ties have been marked by diplomatic unease.

India and Japan entered into a global and strategic partnership and unveiled a comprehensive roadmap for all-round intense cooperation after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s summit meeting with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on December 15 last. Japan is extremely selective about its “strategic partners”. India is only the third country - after the US and Australia -- with which Japan has a strategic partnership.

Mukherjee will discuss the whole gamut of bilateral, regional and international relations during his formal talks with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso, on March 22. 

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