SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Nandigram: CBI submits report to HC
Agitation by Opposition in assembly

Kolkata, March 22

The CBI submitted its report to the Calcutta high court today on the Nandigram incident when Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was virtually kept “confined” to his chair inside the assembly due to violent demonstrations and agitation by opposition members. They were demanding his resignation and the imposition of the President’s rule in Bengal.

Send report on Nandigram, NCW to WB
New Delhi, March 22
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has asked the West Bengal Government to send a detailed report on the recent violence in Nandigram. In a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the NCW has expressed shock over media reports on the death of a woman in the violence in Nandigram in East Midnapur on March 14.

NDA leaders urge Kalam to visit Nandigram
New Delhi, March 22
A delegation of leaders belonging to the NDA called on President Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam on Thursday with an appeal to visit Nandigram in West Bengal to provide solace to the voiceless kith and kin of those killed and injured in the recent violence.

Bob Woolmer’s Death
Snake poison or Taliban or ...

New Delhi, March 22
It is not just blogosphere but serious international print media too that has been tossing up weird theories on Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer’s death ever since Jamaican police dubbed it “suspicious”.

Cong report rues Buddhadeb’s arrogance
New Delhi, March 22
Lack of communication between the West Bengal Government and people of Nandigram coupled with the arrogance of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was primarily responsible for last week’s police firing in which 14 persons were killed.



A labourer spreads red chillies for drying in a farm in Kalol village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Thursday
A labourer spreads red chillies for drying in a farm in Kalol village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Thursday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES




Cops drag out an activist, who was participating in a demonstration led by Medha Patkar held on the premises of Yojana Bhavan, New Delhi, on Thursday. They were demanding a ban on colas in the country on World Water Day
Cops drag out an activist, who was participating in a demonstration led by Medha Patkar held on the premises of Yojana Bhavan, New Delhi, on Thursday. They were demanding a ban on colas in the country on World Water Day. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

SAARC set to go the EU way
New Delhi, March 22
A patient in Kathmandu getting treated on advice from a super-specialty hospital in India, flood-ravaged Chittagong (Bangladesh) drawing food from a food bank in Pakistan and a common fund for the South Asian region for alleviating poverty.

Gujarat violence victims’ aid on a par with ’84 riots
New Delhi, March 22 Bringing compensation for victims of the sectarian violence in Gujarat on a par with that awarded to those affected by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the government today approved ex-gratia grant of Rs 3.5 lakh to the next of kin of each of the 1,169 people killed in that state.

UP poll: NCP seeks Cong help
New Delhi, March 22
Not taking kindly to the barbs from the Congress over its pact with the Shiv Sena for the mayor's post in the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Nationalist Congress Party today said the largest constituent of the UPA must take along its allies in the spirit of reciprocity and accommodation.

India-US talk tough over ties with Iran
Mumbai, March 22
India and the US are talking tough over reprocessing spent-nuclear fuel and energy ties with Iran, American energy secretary Sam Bodman said here today. Bodman, who visited Mumbai on the last leg of his India visit, admitted that both countries were locked in tough negotiations on both issues. Top officials in the country’s nuclear establishment, including Anil Kakodkar, secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, told Bodman that India would not compromise on its sovereign right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

CBI to probe into pulses export
New Delhi, March 22
The government today rebutted the allegations made by the BJP on violations of ban on export of pulses and said commerce minister Kamal Nath had ordered an investigation by the CBI into the pulses export matter over a week ago.

Maathai symbol of empowered woman: Kalam
New Delhi, March 22
Nobel Laureate Waangari M. Maathai, the now-legendary mother of the green belt movement in Africa, has a new target in life--to mobilise the plantation of one billion trees across the world.

Nehru award for Maathai
New Delhi, March 22
Nobel prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai was today presented the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by President A P J Abdul Kalam, who called the Kenyan a symbol of empowered women of the world.


President APJ Abdul Kalam reads the citation script during the presentation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding to Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI photo
President APJ Abdul Kalam reads the citation script during the presentation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding to Wangari Muta Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004

Babri case
SC dismisses review plea

New Delhi, March 22
The Supreme Court today put its final seal on the validity of Uttar Padesh Government order setting up a special court at Rae Barelly for trial of former Deputy Prime Minister L. K Advani and seven other Sangh Parivar leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case, saying its earlier verdict approving the trial there “does not require any reconsideration”.

Widow breaks down at Mahajan murder trial
Mumbai, March 22
The murder trial of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan is seeing some dramatic moments with Rekha Mahajan, wife of the slain politician breaking down in open court while recounting the incident.

Bar girls to add spice to UP poll
Patna, March 22
With a tough Election Commission is in command of the coming seven-phase UP poll, it is out-of-work Mumbai bar girls from Bihar, and not criminals like in the past, who are in huge demand for election campaign this time.

Go ahead with gas pipeline, says CPM
New Delhi, March 22
The CPM has urged the UPA government to resist pressure from the US and proceed with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. In a statement issued here today, the CPM Politburo said the gas pipeline project from Iran was of vital interest to India and its energy security.

Petro traders threaten strike
New Delhi, March 22
The Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders today threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 28, if their demands of increasing dealers margin by up to 5 per cent and implementation of the new Marketing Discipline Guidelinesare not met by the government.


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Nandigram: CBI submits report to HC
Agitation by Opposition in assembly
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, March 22
The CBI submitted its report to the Calcutta high court today on the Nandigram incident when Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was virtually kept “confined” to his chair inside the assembly due to violent demonstrations and agitation by opposition members. They were demanding his resignation and the imposition of the President’s rule in Bengal.

But the CPI (M) MLAs soon came down to the well and clashed with the agitating TMC MLAs when speaker Hashim Abdul Halim suddenly adjourned the house for avoiding a possible bloodbath inside the house.

Bhattacharjee also left the assembly without participating in the budget discussion.

At the high court, Chief Justice S.S. Nirjhar’s division bench sat around 11 am and the court appointed a member to the CBI investigating team. Advocate Ranjan Roy submitted preliminary report on the March 14 police firing and the killing at Nandigram in a sealed cover to the Chief Justice.

The division bench, however, did not take up the matter for examination before going through the report. Advocate-general Balai Roy, who so far could not file any affidavit in the case on the behalf of the state government, also prayed for allowing him two more days for submitting the affidavit, which had been granted. The next hearing in the case would be held on Monday.

Though nothing could be gathered officially on the inquiry report, the CBI officials investigating the case, admitted that they had gathered over 150 rounds of used bullets and cartridges from three different places in Nandigram, which had been used during the clash when the police actually firing about 50 rounds, which killed 14 persons and injured over 200 persons, including women and children.

The finding of such a large number of bullets and cartridges testified to the allegations that some outsiders, naming the CPI (M), must have fired from the firearms they were carrying with them while accompanying the police personnel, entering inside Nandigarm in an attempt for “freeing the area” and establishing the rule of law there.

The report also said some of these outsiders were in police uniform for suppressing their real identities.

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Send report on Nandigram, NCW to WB
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has asked the West Bengal Government to send a detailed report on the recent violence in Nandigram.
In a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the NCW has expressed shock over media reports on the death of a woman in the violence in Nandigram in East Midnapur on March 14.

“We are shocked to learn that in the violence, among others, one woman was killed, several women were injured and there are also allegations of rape and molestation,'' NCW chairperson Girija Vyas has said in the letter.

Vyas has sought a report with reference to six points. She wants to know if the state government is holding a probe into police action in Nandigram and if any separate probe is being held to look into charges of rape.

Other questions raised by the commission pertain to the number of women killed and injured in the Nandigram violence and the kind of compensation being given to the families of the women killed and injured.

The NCW has also asked the state government to enumerate steps being taken to restore normalcy in Nandigram to enable the homeless return to their villages.

The commission has asked whether the police firing was the sole cause of the killing/injuring of women on March 14 and whether any other woman was killed by anti-social elements in Nandigram in the last two-three months.

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NDA leaders urge Kalam to visit Nandigram
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
A delegation of leaders belonging to the NDA called on President Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam on Thursday with an appeal to visit Nandigram in West Bengal to provide solace to the voiceless kith and kin of those killed and injured in the recent violence.

The delegation led by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, NDA convenor George Fernandes and BJP Deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj shared with the President their findings on the Nandigram violence. Terming the incident as one of the worst incidents of state terror since Jalianwalla Bagh, the delegation has appealed to the President to impress upon his government to invoke the relevant clauses of Article 355 of the Constitution and direct the West Bengal government to remove marauding bands of ruling party cadre from the disturbed villages.

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Bob Woolmer’s Death
Snake poison or Taliban or ...
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
It is not just blogosphere but serious international print media too that has been tossing up weird theories on Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer’s death ever since Jamaican police dubbed it “suspicious”.

The theories are not just confined to snake poison, strangulation, suicide, match fixing or transnational betting syndicate. Even the Taliban are being blamed for the “murder”. Here is a brief account of how crazy can the crazy be.

Pakistan’s Daily Jang, with two of its correspondents reporting from Kingston, first came up with the suicide theory.

Guardian Unlimited, the online edition of the UK’s prestigious Guardian newspaper, has made a note of two interesting theories posted on blogs. (i) “En mana oonjal”, a US-based blog posted its readers’ views on Woolmer’s death. Rajesh Raghupati, a Texas-based software engineer, gave four options - one of them saying that it was a Pakistani Presidential order. He also opined that Woolmer’s death would be the biggest international cover-up, next only to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

(ii) Website “teenwag.com” has started a poll on its question: “Pakistan Coach Bob Woolmer killed by Taliban?”. One reader called Mark replied thus: “The Pakistanis are known fanatics who send their militant troops to India all the time. So I don’t doubt the fact that the Laptop Coach was killed by Talibans (sic) and the crazy Moslems.”

On the more serious side, the BBC quoted Woolmer’s family as believing that the coach fell victim to a heart attack induced by high levels of stress.

Australia’s leading national daily The Australian has speculated on Woolmer’s intention to disclose details of match-fixing in his upcoming book. The newspaper claimed that the autopsy - though the final autopsy report is yet to come out - had “revealed suspicious marks on (Woolmer’s) throat”. It said, “That there was vomit in unusually high places on the walls indicated to the police the former English Test batsman may have been involved in a struggle and, if so, may have known his assailant, given there was no evidence the door to his room had been tampered with.”

Factually, however, all that is known so far is that Woolmer was discovered unconscious on the bathroom floor in his hotel room.

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Cong report rues Buddhadeb’s arrogance
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
Lack of communication between the West Bengal Government and people of Nandigram coupled with the arrogance of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was primarily responsible for last week’s police firing in which 14 persons were killed.

This is one of the conclusions of the report submitted by the three-member Congress team, which was deputed by party president Sonia Gandhi to visit Nandigram for an on-the-spot assessment. The team was headed by AICC general secretary Digivijay Singh and comprised of Madhusudan Mistry and Susheela Tiriaya.

The Congress report, according to party sources, has come down heavily on the state government for its “insensitive” handling of the situation but it has not endorsed its state unit’s demand for the imposition of the central rule in West Bengal.

“This situation could have been avoided if it had been handled with a little more sensitivity,” the report said, pointing out that the state government failed to take the people into confidence even though it had decided not to establish a SEZ at Nandigram five days before the firing incident took place. The presence of CPM cadres with the police has also raised hackles of protesters.

“This clearly indicates a lack of communication between the government and the people. It also points to the arrogance of the Chief Minister,” remarked a member of the fact-finding team, who also disagreed with the CPM explanation that state intervention became necessary as the whole area was taken over by outsiders.

According to the Congress team, this was a purely localised affair and ruled out the involvement of Maoist elements. On the other hand, the report has raised serious questions about the involvement of the local CPM MP Lakshman Seth who, it is stated, is an important figure in the neighbouring Haldia petrochemical plant and is seeking to extend his domain of influence to Nandigram.

The report has disagreed with the state government’s decision to order a magisterial probe which, it felt, would not serve the purpose as the official will be influenced by the party’s cadres.

It has instead favoured a judicial probe which could have gone into the events leading to the incident and has, therefore, suggested that the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women should take up issues relating to missing persons, compensation to the injured, withdrawal of the police forces and registration of cases against those involved in the violence at Nandigram.

In order to avoid similar confrontations, the Congress team has recommended that the archaic land acquisition Act be amended to provide for a tripartite agreement between the state, the project developer and the land owner to ensure adequate compensation for those who are to be displaced. In addition ,it has suggested that the local villagers be made stakeholders in the development project for which their land is being acquired and one member of each family is provided a job in the project.

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SAARC set to go the EU way
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
A patient in Kathmandu getting treated on advice from a super-specialty hospital in India, flood-ravaged Chittagong (Bangladesh) drawing food from a food bank in Pakistan and a common fund for the South Asian region for alleviating poverty.

This scenario may not remain a pipe dream for long as a rejuvenated South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is all set to have yet another go in its endeavour to emulate the European Union concept.

Winds of development are going to sweep the SAARC region, as the 14th SAARC summit (April 3-4), will witness two first-time developments: expansion of the regional body and five major powers attending the event as observers.

Afghanistan is going to attend the summit for the first time as a full-fledged member of SAARC, making it the eight-nation body. This is the first time ever when the SAARC has been expanded. Also for the first time, US, China, Japan, European Union and South Korea are going to attend the proceedings as observers. Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso, is going to attend the meet as the Japanese observer. The other four are yet to decide on their level of participation.

Concrete development-oriented projects like SAARC Development Fund (for which New Delhi has already pledged $ 100 million), SAARC Food Bank and SAARC Telemedicine Project, linking patients in ordinary hospitals in the region with super-specialty hospitals, will be high on the agenda at the summit.

The 14th SAARC summit’s main theme will be ‘connecting people, strengthening ties’ and a concerted effort will be made to dwell on the oneness and diversity of the region like never before and also attempt to tap the vast potential of intra-SAARC trade, investment and tourism opportunities.

The immense untapped potential of intra-SAARC trade is reflected by the fact that in 2004 the total value of merchandise exports reported by the South Asian countries (excluding Bhutan) was $ 102.9 billion, of which only $ 6.4 billion was destined for the SAARC member states.

Thus intra-SAARC exports constituted just about 6 per cent of the total exports of SAARC countries. This makes a strong case to use SAARC as an effective platform to harness geographical proximity of member states for faster growth in the region and taking care of the economic imbalances.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has summed up the trade potential of SAARC as follows: “If we wish the next 20 years of SAARC to be different, we should take the first decision to reconnect the countries of the subcontinent on the one hand and then reconnect the subcontinent to the larger Asian neighbourhood on the other.

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Gujarat violence victims’ aid on a par with ’84 riots

New Delhi, March 22
Bringing compensation for victims of the sectarian violence in Gujarat on a par with that awarded to those affected by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the government today approved ex-gratia grant of Rs 3.5 lakh to the next of kin of each of the 1,169 people killed in that state.

“As reported by the state government, there were 1,169 deaths in the 2002 riots and the number of injured was 2,548,” Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi told reporters after a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight.

“Government is open to respond to cases which have not been reported by the state government, both in cases of death as well as the injured,” he said, adding the Union Home Ministry would “consider, monitor and review” such cases.

At the meeting, the Cabinet approved a proposal that next of kin of the 1,169 who died would be paid Rs 3.5 lakh in addition to the amount already paid by the state government. The total liability would amount to Rs 53.19 crore, Dasmunsi said. — PTI

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UP poll: NCP seeks Cong help

New Delhi, March 22
Not taking kindly to the barbs from the Congress over its pact with the Shiv Sena for the mayor's post in the Pune Municipal Corporation, the Nationalist Congress Party today said the largest constituent of the UPA must take along its allies in the spirit of reciprocity and accommodation.

NCP spokesman D.P. Tripathi told mediapersons here that it was "a blunder of the local Congress leadership" in Pune that necessitated its pact with the Shiv Sena for the post of mayor.

Pointing to the forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, he made an appeal to the Congress not to put up a candidate against its nominee in an Allahabad seat to ensure the defeat of "communal forces."

He said the seat, from where the Congress had lost repeatedly, included areas of Anand Bhawan. Terming his appeal as a "litmus test" for the Congress, Tripathi said the NCP would support its UPA ally on all other seats in Allahbad.

He said the party had not put up candidates in Amethi and Rai Bareli against the Congress. — TNS

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India-US talk tough over ties with Iran
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 22
India and the US are talking tough over reprocessing spent-nuclear fuel and energy ties with Iran, American energy secretary Sam Bodman said here today.
Bodman, who visited Mumbai on the last leg of his India visit, admitted that both countries were locked in tough negotiations on both issues. Top officials in the country’s nuclear establishment, including Anil Kakodkar, secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, told Bodman that India would not compromise on its sovereign right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

The Indo-US nuclear deal, also known as the 123 Agreement, is locked in a stalemate as the US, among other things, keen on restricting India from reprocessing spent fuel. “The Indo-US nuclear deal does not impinge on India’s sovereignity,” Bodman told reporters in Mumbai today.

Bodman also admitted that the US was unhappy with India developing oil and natural and gas assets in Iran. “If (the agreement with Iran) it is allowed to go forward, in our judgement, this will contribute to development of nuclear weapons,” Bodman said. He admitted that there have been conversations between India and the USA on the issue. Bodman added that officials from India and the US would restart talks on the nuclear deal next week.

Bodman, like other senior US officials, is actively pushing for the deal with captains of the industry. Bodman was locked in a closed-door meeting on “Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation: opportunities & challenges organised by FICCI.

Top officials from the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India along with top corporate leaders are present. American companies in the nuclear sector have already sounded out top Indian corporates for tie-ups once the Indo-US nuclear deal comes through.

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CBI to probe into pulses export
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The government today rebutted the allegations made by the BJP on violations of ban on export of pulses and said commerce minister Kamal Nath had ordered an investigation by the CBI into the pulses export matter over a week ago.

“The Department of Commerce had already instituted a CBI inquiry (on March 15) into any wrongdoing that might have been committed by some exporters,” an official press note said here.

On February 24, 2007, the Association of Pulses Manufacturers-Exporters of India, Indore represented before the commerce minister that some exporters have been exporting pulses even after the ban and only the small exporters have suffered from this ban.

Commerce minister ordered immediate inquiry and the complaints were sent to the director-general foreign trade and member (customs) for the inquiry, it said.

The DGFT gave his detailed report on March 12, including finding of a preliminary investigation by the Department of Revenue intelligence (DRI). The DRI has suspected foul play by three exporters-Jetking International, Kohinoor Foods and KRBL Ltd, who are three main exporters to export after the ban, it said.

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Maathai symbol of empowered woman: Kalam
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
Nobel Laureate Waangari M. Maathai, the now-legendary mother of the green belt movement in Africa, has a new target in life--to mobilise the plantation of one billion trees across the world.

In the past 30 years, she has been responsible for mobilising thousands of women to plant a staggering 30 million trees in Kenya alone. In pursuit of her grassroot environmental efforts, she had to face persecution, intimidation and even physical violence.

Delivering the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Memorial Lecture 2007 on “ The role of leadership in environmental protection” today, she effectively presented the all-important link between environment conservation and management of natural resources to peace and a world sans conflicts.

“ We need to manage resources on this planet responsibly. It will be impossible to have peace in the world without managing resources equitably,” she said.

Giving an all together new meaning to the simple important act of planting trees, in her one-hour extempore lecture replete with humorous and witty remarks, the conservationist-turned politician, called upon every human being on this earth to plant 10 trees for the carbon dioxide he or she produces.

“Plant your own trees otherwise you would be using someone else’s trees to take care of your carbon dioxide. This blue ball is the only home we have,” she said, telling everyone to expand their concept of environment.

In what can be a profound message in the wake of the raging SEZ controversy in India, she said governments might feel that they were doing the right thing, “but somewhere down the line they could be precipitating a crisis."

The pan-African environmentalist was also presented the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning.

She is the first woman from Africa to have received the award for international understanding. At a ceremony attended by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Dr Kalam praised the committed environmentalist as a symbol of empowered women of the world.

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Nehru award for Maathai

New Delhi, March 22
Nobel prize winner Wangari Muta Maathai was today presented the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by President A P J Abdul Kalam, who called the Kenyan a symbol of empowered women of the world.

At a Rashtrapati Bhavan ceremony attended by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Kalam praised Maathai for her accomplishments in environmental conservation and human rights activities.

“We are, therefore, indeed privileged to honour you today as a true friend of India, an outstanding leader of Kenya, a symbol of empowered women of the world and a great environmentalist,” he remarked.

Maathai became the first woman from Africa to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. The other recipients of the award include South African leader Nelson Mandela, Germany’s Helmut Kohl and India’s Indira Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

Kalam, who noted that India’s power-generation capacity has to increase to 400,000 MW from the existing 130,000 MW, cited hydel, nuclear and non-conventional sources as key to achieving energy interdependence.

In his address, Shekhawat praised Maathai for what he called her strong commitment and immense contribution towards promoting ecologically viable, social economic and cultural development in Africa.

In her speech, Maathai remembered both Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi as great people of history as she described respect for human rights as key to peace.

Maathai, who noted that marginalised people seek justice, said both minority and majority groups should be given voice in society.

“Peace cannot be realised in the midst of injustice and inequality,” she remarked as she expressed her gratitude to the country for being honoured with the Nehru Award for 2005.

In his address, Indian Council of Cultural Relations chief Karan Singh, whose organisation administers the award, called Maathai an “iconic figure” in environmental movement.

The Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding was instituted in 1965, a year after the death of the first Prime Minister. — PTI

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Babri case
SC dismisses review plea
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 22
The Supreme Court today put its final seal on the validity of Uttar Padesh Government order setting up a special court at Rae Barelly for trial of former Deputy Prime Minister L. K Advani and seven other Sangh Parivar leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case, saying its earlier verdict approving the trial there “does not require any reconsideration”.

Dismissing a petition for a review of the apex court’s November 29, 2002, verdict in a protracted legal battle on the validity of the Rae Barelly court, a Bench of Chief Justice K. G Balakrishnan and Justices G. P Mathur and R .V Raveendran ruled that “there is no error apparent on the face of the record, nor do the facts and circumstances warrant any interference with our earlier order.”

The apex court in its November 29, 2002, judgement had said that there was no legal infirmity in the Uttar Pradesh Government’s March 1, 1993 notification for setting up of the court of Special Judicial Magistrate at Rae Bareli.

The SC also questioned the “locus standi” of Delhi-based citizen Mohd Aslam Bhure to seek the review, ruling that he had no right to intervene in the matter as he was neither a complainant in the case, nor an accused.He also had no connection with any of the offences registered by the police in the case.He had sought the review on the ground that the trial originally should have been held by the special court at Lucknow, which was seized of another case related to the Babri case.

The trial of the eight Sangh Parivar leaders could not be held in the Lucknow Special Court as the Allahabad High Court by an order of September 9, 1997 had invalidated it. 

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Widow breaks down at Mahajan murder trial
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 22
The murder trial of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan is seeing some dramatic moments with Rekha Mahajan, wife of the slain politician breaking down in open court while recounting the incident.

Rekha along with the family’s domestic servant Mahesh Wankhede are the only eyewitnesses who saw Pramod’s brother Pravin Mahajan arrive at their residence and gun down the leader last year.

Recounting the incident, Rekha broke down and wept bitterly before losing consciousness. She told the court that she had gone to prepare tea for her brother-in-law when she heard the shots fired at Pramod Mahajan. Remembering the incident, she broke down and was inconsolable. The hearing has been adjourned after she was carried out of the witness box.

The trial began on Wednesday and 58 witnesses will be examined. Prominent political personalities will be among those who will be examined in court.

Among the exhibits displayed in court included the blood-stained night dress worn by Rekha on the fateful day. She cradled a fatally wounded Pramod in her arms while he was rushed to hospital.

Pravin who is charged with shooting Pramod at his residence at Worli in South Central Mumbai on April 22, 2006 has denied all charges. After fighting for his life in hospital, Pramod Mahajan died on May 3.

Today was the first time after Pramod’s death that his wife Rekha came face to face with Pravin.

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Bar girls to add spice to UP poll
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 22
With a tough Election Commission is in command of the coming seven-phase UP poll, it is out-of-work Mumbai bar girls from Bihar, and not criminals like in the past, who are in huge demand for election campaign this time.

Khalid Ansari, a manager of a group of bar girls, said these bar girls were being hired by political parties to dance at election rallies in the crucial UP poll to entertain the audience on behalf of candidates.

It was learnt that cutting across party lines, several candidates were making a beeline here to "book" the girls to add spice to the campaign.

Ansari said:"Maharashtra may have shut down the dance bars. But the new-found stage for bar girls from Bihar is equally lucrative and is paying too".

He was,however, not willing to reveal the names of the politicians who were hiring the girls for campaign.

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Go ahead with gas pipeline, says CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The CPM has urged the UPA government to resist pressure from the US and proceed with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.
In a statement issued here today, the CPM Politburo said the gas pipeline project from Iran was of vital interest to India and its energy security.

The party said it was disturbing to read that the US energy secretary had conveyed to the Indian government the US opposition to the gas pipeline.

Urging the UPA government to finalise negotiations with Pakistan on the trasit fee and other charges, the Politburo stated: “The well-known opposition of the US is motivated by its partisan interests and its targeting of Iran.”

The CPM is of the opinion that India should resist US pressure to purchase F-16 fighter planes.

“The purchase of fighter planes should not be swayed by the strategic and commercial interests of the US in selling weaponry to India,” the statement said.

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Petro traders threaten strike

New Delhi, March 22
The Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders today threatened to go on an indefinite strike from April 28, if their demands of increasing dealers margin by up to 5 per cent and implementation of the new Marketing Discipline Guidelinesare not met by the government.

The traders have sent a notice indicating their demands to the oil ministry.

‘’If the demands are not met latest by April 10, petroleum dealers all over the country will go for a protest closure on April 13,’’ FAIPT president Ashok Dadhwar told reporters here. — UNI

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