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N A T I O N

Lucknow varsity VC gets Manjunath Award
Bangalore, March 24
A scientist-turned vice-chancellor, Dr R.P. Singh who even took on the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Yadav to cleanse the Lucknow University of criminals masquerading as student leaders, won the first Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity award here today.

Stamp paper: Telgi gets jail
Bangalore, March 24
A special CBI court today awarded a 10 year jail term to Abdul Karim Telgi, prime accused in the fake stamp paper case, as well as four of his associates.

A dream home for the middle class
Hyderabad, March 24
The Andhra Pradesh Government has embarked upon an ambitious programme to fulfil the dream of the middle class families to own a house.

CAG report vindicates Nitish
Patna, March 24
During the past 15 months of the NDA rule, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar often pointed out to the enormous challenge before him to bring back the state on the track because of the absence of a proper mechanism of governance during the previous regime.




EARLIER STORIES




AICC president and chairperson Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Sonia Gandhi shakes hands with a physically challenged person after handing over the key to Bingo, a modified version of a self-start, gearless Kinetic Nova 135cc, at 10 Janpath in New Delhi. A total 70 vehicles were distributed on Saturday.
AICC president and chairperson Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Sonia Gandhi shakes hands with a physically challenged person after handing over the key to Bingo, a modified version of a self-start, gearless Kinetic Nova 135cc, at 10 Janpath in New Delhi. A total 70 vehicles were distributed on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Andhra LC poll: Setback for TRS
Hyderabad, March 24
The Telangana Rasthra Samithi (TRS) has faced a setback in the poll for Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council (LC) under MLAs’ quota.

Gilani may be denied US visa
New Delhi, March 24
Prominent Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani applied for US visa for his medical treatment a fortnight ago, but he is unlikely to get it.

Cong, PDP bury hatchet
New Delhi, March 24
Ending uncertainty over his party's relations with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, People's Democratic Party leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today talked about the "importance of the coalition government" in the state and the "shared vision of peace" during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

EC notice to UP minister
New Delhi, March 24
The Election Commission today issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh minister Banwari Singh Yadav for allegedly misusing government machinery for electioneering in violation of the model code of conduct.

Vote for change is Cong mantra in UP
New Delhi, March 24
The Congress will kickstart its campaign for next month’s Assembly poll in Uttar Pradesh by pointing to the dismal performance of successive state governments over the past 18 years and appeal to the people to opt for a change of regime.

Nod to prosecute ex-Patna DM
Patna, March 24
Centre has given the nod to prosecute former Patna DM Gautan Goswami in the multi-crore flood-relief scam of 2004 under the regime of former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.

EC notice to UP minister
New Delhi, March 24
The Election Commission today issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh minister Banwari Singh Yadav for allegedly misusing government machinery for electioneering in violation of the model code of conduct.

Zahira’s property sealed
Vadodara, March 24
The Income Tax (IT) officials of Vadodara division have sealed the properties of Best Bakery massacre case prime eyewitness Zahira Sheikh.

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Lucknow varsity VC gets Manjunath Award
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 24
A scientist-turned vice-chancellor, Dr R.P. Singh who even took on the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Yadav to cleanse the Lucknow University of criminals masquerading as student leaders, won the first Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity award here today.

Manjunath, a sales officer in Indian Oil Corporation and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, was murdered in November 2005 by a petrol pump dealer and his seven associates in Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh. Manjunath had been fighting against oil adulteration in petrol pumps in the region. The award was instituted by the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust (MST) set up by IIM alumini to honour and encourage persons or institutions working to uphold the values of truth and honesty in public life.

The award was conferred on Dr Singh by Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy and members of the MST. It was not attended by any IOC official from the Union Ministry of Petroleum.

Speaking on the occasion, Murthy said it was unfortunate that Manjunath and Satyendra Dubey had died fighting for their ideals. He said that a set of people like the IIM Lucknow alumni, the Public Prosecutor and the people of Lucknow had worked together and ensured justice was done in the case in a record time. "This gives us confidence in our legal system and raises our confidence in the judiciary", he said adding the country needed more such symbols of youngsters coming together to honour honesty and integrity.

Murthy also said he was sad that no representative from the IOCL or the centre had come to give away the award. "Manjunath fought on behalf of the IOCL", he said adding that there could have been at least one symbolic representative from the Union government on the occasion.

Trust Managing Trustee M Jaishankar when questioned on the issue, said the Trust had not invited the IOCL though its representatives could have come on their own accord as it was an open function. "We did not invite IOCL as the organisation abrogated its responsibility of fighting Manjunath's case. It was IOCL's fight as an IOCL dealer and an IOCL employee were involved but the organisation did not think so", he added.

While speaking about the award, Jaishankar said it was instituted for deserving candidates who had reported and worked to rectify corrupt practices in government, public or corporate life. The evaluation of the award, for which the MST received 18 nominations and shortlisted five finally, was done on the basis of gravity of the situation faced by the people concerned and its impact on society, corrective action undertaken and the extent of difficulty faced by nominees in correcting the situation.

Dr Singh spoke at length on the steps taken by him to implement the Lyndoh Committee recommendations on student elections in Lucknow University after receiving the award. He acknowledged the support of people of Lucknow, the intelligentsia, the judiciary and even the local media for his cause.

The jury panel for the award, which carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, comprised S Goplakrishnan, president and COO, Infosys, Rama Bijapurkar, strategy consultant and independent director on boards of Infosys, Crisil, UTI Bank and Godrej Consumer products, among other companies and The Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta.

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Stamp paper: Telgi gets jail
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 24
A special CBI court today awarded a 10 year jail term to Abdul Karim Telgi, prime accused in the fake stamp paper case, as well as four of his associates.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on all the accused. Apart from Telgi, those convicted include Irfan, Badriddin, Vazir Ahmed and Pradeep Kumar. Telgi was produced before the court via video conference from the Yerawad Jail in Pune.

Telgi has been sentenced in Karnataka for the first time in the scam which spread over 11 states and is said to have caused a loss of Rs 30,000 crore to the exchequer.

Today's sentence relates to a case registered against Telgi and his associates in the Peenya police station in the city. He and his associates were charged with selling fake stamp papers worth about Rs 42 lakh to a private firm, Samilabs. The five were partners in Cauvery Enterprises, which forged documents including the challan receipt of RBI and used fake embossing seal of the Central bank on a sale deed related to a company.

The accused on his part has maintained that he was neither the kingpin nor the main conspirator and that bureaucrats and politicians were involved in the scam. The prosecution claimed that Telgi printed fake stamp papers using printing machines purchased illegally with the help of officials of the Central Government's security printing press in Nashik. Before his arrest, Telgi's monthly profits from the scam were estimated to be Rs 100 crore.

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A dream home for the middle class
AP Govt to make houses for all at 25% discount
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 24
The Andhra Pradesh Government has embarked upon an ambitious programme to fulfil the dream of the middle class families to own a house.

All eligible middle class families can apply for a house across all towns and cities in the state. The government will take up the construction in all municipalities and corporations and hand them over in two years at over 25 per cent less than market value.

Unveiling the scheme "Rajiv Swagruha" on the Assembly premises here today, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said, "It is my long-cherished desire to construct houses for the middle class on a cost-to-cost basis. This is a most ambitious scheme, but I am confident we will make it possible."

There will be four categories of houses to suit the income and paying capacity of the individuals. For corporations with more than 5 lakh population, it will be apartments, while for others it will be individual houses.

The best infrastructure facilities will be made available in these townships, including water, power, roads, sanitation, schools, shopping complexes, parks and buses.

"Our attempt is to give quality accommodation with quality infrastructure at around 25 per cent discount of the market rate," the Chief Minister said.

The demand survey for the scheme will commence on March 25, and the applications will be available at all e-seva centres from that day onwards up to April 10.

The applications will be scrutinised and demand-survey estimated for each municipality and corporation and immediately thereafter the process of land acquisition will start.

Cautioning against misuse of the scheme, the Chief Minister said all applications would be verified with reference to "iris" data base and all false and multiple applications would be rejected along with the forfeiture of deposit.

"Rejection will not only lead to forfeiture of the deposited amount, but it will also entail blacklisting of the applicant for any government housing scheme," he warned.

Andrha Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation, urban development authorities and AP Housing Board will take up and complete the construction as per the schedule.

A toll free number 1100 has been provided for all inquiries on the Rajiv Swagruha scheme.

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CAG report vindicates Nitish
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 24
During the past 15 months of the NDA rule, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar often pointed out to the enormous challenge before him to bring back the state on the track because of the absence of a proper mechanism of governance during the previous regime.

The comptroller and auditor-general (CAG) report for 2005-06 placed in the assembly on Friday not only vindicated the observation of Nitish, but also focused on the deep-rooted malaise in the system which apparently forced the present regime to inherit huge fiscal liabilities.

The lack of governance and related financial indiscipline was perhaps best reflected from the fact that Bihar experienced its first-ever full-fledged budget since 1990 under the Nitish government only in 2006.

Before that, it was vote on accounts and not a full budget.

Besides, for the first time in the memorable past, it was the Nitish government which came out with an economic survey this year conducted by Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) which could finally throw light on various socio-economic parameters to specify the agenda of development.

Against this backdrop in its report, which covers the first few months of the Nitish government since November 2005, besides the Governor’s rule, CAG cautioned against the alarmingly high fiscal liabilities of Bihar and related unsatisfactory achievements in various social sector schemes.

The fiscal liabilities of Bihar as on March 31, 2006, when Nitish completed six months in office, stood at Rs 46,495 crore amounting to a whopping 76.72 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).

This was a time when different nationalised banks in their interaction with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, who holds the finance portfolio too, cited poor law and order in the past as one of the major reasons for the poor credit-deposit ratio in the state, detrimental to economic growth.

CAG noted with concern that the state's own resources during the said period as a percentage of revenue receipts declined from 27 per cent in 2001-02 to 23 per cent in 2005-06.

The steady decline of revenue receipts from 27 per cent to 23 per cent in a span of five years between 2001 to 2006 mostly covered the previous RJD regime.

Encouraging for Nitish in the CAG report was the fact that despite holding office for just six months between November-March during the CAG report for 2005-06, it could increase the revenue receipts by 14 per cent compared to the previous year.

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Andhra LC poll: Setback for TRS
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 24
The Telangana Rasthra Samithi (TRS) has faced a setback in the poll for Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council (LC) under MLAs’ quota.

While the ruling Congress yesterday managed to scrape through by winning 20 seats for which it fielded candidates, the TRS was left red-faced with one of its two candidates even failing to muster the required percentage of votes.

The TDP ended up a gainer with its fifth candidate also making it despite being short of enough MLAs to secure a victory, thanks mainly due to cross voting in all other parties.

The 90-member Legislative Council is being revived in the state after a gap of over two decades. It was abolished in 1985 by the then TDP government headed by late N T Rama Rao.

Going by its strength in the House, the ruling Congress has fielded 20 candidates while allotting three seats to its allies-CPI (2) and MIM (1). The TDP had fielded five candidates though it had votes enough only for four seats, while the CPM fielded one candidate with the support of the TDP.

The TRS fielded only two candidates as nine out of its 26 MLAs turned rebels and pledged support to an independent candidate.

While the Congress, TDP, CPI, CPM and the MIM won all seats they contested, the TRS managed to elect only one candidate.

Under the first phase, polling was held on March 17 to elect 39 members to the council from Local Authority Constituencies (LACs), graduates and teachers constituencies.

The TRS had entered into an understanding with the BJP, which had two MLAs, but one of them appears to have cross-voted in favour of the independent K Gnaneshwar, supported by TRS rebels.

A special polling booth was set up in the Assembly premises to enable the legislators to cast their votes for the election yesterday.

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Gilani may be denied US visa
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 24
Prominent Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani applied for US visa for his medical treatment a fortnight ago, but he is unlikely to get it.

India had given him a general passport for one year earlier this month following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s direction that all assistance be given to the ailing leader for his treatment abroad.

Gilani was handed over the Indian passport after certification from specialist doctors in Apollo Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment for renal cancer, that Gilani needed to be treated in a superspeciality hospital in Cleveland (USA) “as soon as possible”.

Immediately after getting the passport, Gilani applied for US visa. He was called for an interview in the US embassy here a fortnight ago and was made to fill in several forms. The entire proceedings lasted several hours.

Gilani was given an elaborate questionnaire where the US embassy asked him to write his views on such international issues as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the war on terror. His views were also sought on the Indo-Pak peace process and the Kashmir problem.

It is understood that Gilani gave his candid views on each and every question, without holding his punches back. He wrote that he was against the Indo-Pak peace process. He said the Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination and if this were to happen, he and his party Tehreek-e-Hurriyat would opt for Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan and would actively campaign for that.

He said he was opposed to the bilateral format of peace talks as the core issue of Kashmir could not be resolved without the participation of the Kashmiris. Therefore, his argument was, a tripartite dialogue involving India, Pakistan and Kashmiris was a pre-requisite for resolving the Kashmir tangle.

The US embassy has been sitting quietly on Gilani’s visa application. Gilani has been privately told by US embassy officials that only the State Department, not the US embassy here, was competent to take a view on it.

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Cong, PDP bury hatchet
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 24
Ending uncertainty over his party's relations with the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, People's Democratic Party leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today talked about the "importance of the coalition government" in the state and the "shared vision of peace" during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mufti, who met Dr Singh for second time in the last three days, discussed all aspects of the current situation in the state. "There was near unanimity of views on what needed to be done," Prime Minister's media advisor Sanjaya Baru said after the meeting. The PDP leader did not comment on today's talks, saying there will be a statement from the government.

Baru said the talks were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. "Both leaders referred to the importance of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and the vital need to implement the shared vision of peace and tranquillity in the state which is enshrined in the National Common Minimum Programme. Further discussions will be held to advance this objective," he said.

The PDP's climbdown from its hard stand on demands came even as the government made no announcement of the ways in which concerns of its alliance partner will be addressed.

The PDP leaders had all along maintained that they wanted concrete assurances on their demands which include troop reduction from the civilian areas of the state, withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and vacation of agricultural land held by security forces.

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EC notice to UP minister

New Delhi, March 24
The Election Commission today issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh minister Banwari Singh Yadav for allegedly misusing government machinery for electioneering in violation of the model code of conduct.

In a notice to Yadav, the EC said he had used his official vehicle for a meeting at the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow. — TNS

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Vote for change is Cong mantra in UP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 24
The Congress will kickstart its campaign for next month’s Assembly poll in Uttar Pradesh by pointing to the dismal performance of successive state governments over the past 18 years and appeal to the people to opt for a change of regime.

“Badlao aapke haath mein, Haath ka saath dijeye, Congress ko vote dijeye,” runs the catchline on the Congress election posters which will flood the state within the next few days. Each poster will highlight a different area of concern like rampant corruption, atrocities against Dalits, rising crime rate and poor infrastructure to explain why UP should go in for a change.

“Our campaign is direct and talks of our commitment to change,” explains UPPCC president Salman Khursheed, adding that the emphasis is both on the hand of the voter and the Congress symbol.

Although a fringe player in UP, the Congress is making a valiant attempt to project itself not merely as an “also-ran” but as a serious contender in the upcoming multi-party electoral race. Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, who is the party’s chief strategist and key campaigner for these elections, has already been on a three-day roadshow in western UP and is expected to follow it up with another by this month-end. Party president Sonia Gandhi is likely to address public rallies in Kanpur and Agra for the first phase of elections on April 7.

While the Congress posters will have an overarching theme exhorting people to go in for a change, its advertising campaign will target all the other three players in the electoral race - the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - and give explain how these non-Congress governments over the past 18 years have been responsible for the prevailing sorry conditions in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress also plans to pin down these parties for forging opportunistic alliances while ignoring governance “Since all these parties have been in power, we will ask them to explain what they have done for the state in the areas of communal harmony, infrastructure development, agriculture, education and health,” says science and technology minister Kapil Sibal, who is also heading the party’s media committee for the UP elections. In contrast, the party will highlight the growth and development witnessed during the Congress regimes.

“UP mein tha dum, lekin kahan pahunch gaye hum,” exclaims Sibal, who is going to Lucknow and Kanpur tomorrow to flag the party’s key election issues.

Admitting that the Congress cannot come to power on its own in UP, Sibal maintained none of the other parties are also in a position to form a government on their own.

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Nod to prosecute ex-Patna DM
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 24
Centre has given the nod to prosecute former Patna DM Gautan Goswami in the multi-crore flood-relief scam of 2004 under the regime of former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.

The trial in the scam of Rs 18 crore was delayed due to non-grant of prosecution of prime accused Gautam Goswami by the Centre.

The brother-in-law of Lalu, Sadhu Yadav, is also among those accused.

The development came close on the heels of the notice served on Lalu and his wife Rabri by the Patna High Court on Thursday in the Rs 46-lakh disproportionate assets case, an offshoot of the multi-crore fodder scam following the appeal by the Nitish government challenging their acquittal in the case in December last by a special CBI court.

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EC notice to UP minister

New Delhi, March 24
The Election Commission today issued a notice to Uttar Pradesh minister Banwari Singh Yadav for allegedly misusing government machinery for electioneering in violation of the model code of conduct.

In a notice to Yadav, the EC said it had been brought to its notice that he had used his official vehicle for a meeting at the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow.

Charging the minister, who holds the estates department and civil aviation, with using his escort vehicle also for carrying election campaign material, it asked why action should not be taken against him for misusing his official position for poll purpose. The EC has asked Yadav to furnish his reply by March 26. — TNS

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Zahira’s property sealed

Vadodara, March 24
The Income Tax (IT) officials of Vadodara division have sealed the properties of Best Bakery massacre case prime eyewitness Zahira Sheikh.

Last evening, the IT officials sealed three lockers of Zahira in the Syndicate Bank here. They also sealed her two plots, a house and a flat in Mumbai. — UNI

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