SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Russia can’t help if N-deal fails: Envoy
New Delhi, April 1
Russian Ambassador to India, V Trubnikov, said he was confident that the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation deal would fructify.

NEWS ANALYSIS
Execution of 6 Bangla terrorists a blow to gun-and-religion culture
New Delhi, April 1
The execution of six Islamist terrorists on Friday by the interim government of Bangladesh was a blow to the gun-and-religion culture that was threatening to turn that country into a medieval-era Caliphate.

Himalayan glaciers melting fast: Study
New Delhi, April 1
A majority of Himalayan glaciers, which serve as the lifeline of north India, are melting at a faster rate, posing a serious threat to water security in the region, a study claims.

Architect Laurie Baker dead
Thiruvananthapuram, April 1
Veteran architect and pioneer of the low-cost housing technology Laurie Baker passed away here today.

 






EARLIER STORIES




A vendor cleans oranges at the Gaddiannaram wholesale fruit market in Hyderabad on Sunday. The market is the leading trading hub for local fruit and vegetable wholesalers and distributors.
A vendor cleans oranges at the Gaddiannaram wholesale fruit market in Hyderabad on Sunday. The market is the leading trading hub for local fruit and vegetable wholesalers and distributors.
— AFP

Rajnandgaon LS seat for Congress
Raipur, April 1
The Congress today wrested the Rajnandgaon Lok Sabha seat from the ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh in a byelection. Devwrat Singh of the Congress defeated his nearest rival Leelaram Bhojwani of the BJP by about 50,000 votes, election office sources said. Polling was held on Thursday and counting of votes was done today. — PTI

Air Marshal Gupta is IAF medical chief
Chandigarh, April 1
Air Marshal J.K. Gupta has been appointed Director-General Medical Services (Air).

Fake Army officer nabbed
Nagpur, April 1
The police has arrested a man posing as fake Army officer, who is alleged to have abducted and sexually exploited several girls.

Yechury: SC order contradictory
Left-UPA meeting next week
New Delhi, April 1
The UPA-Left coordination committee will meet next week after the SAARC meet on April 4 to discuss the Supreme Court’s stay on the OBC reservation in institutions of higher learning.

Muslim uplift on Nitish’s mind
Patna, April 1
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is leaving no stone unturned to provide basic socio-economic support to Muslims in the state.

Cops get Nitish pat
Patna, April 1
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has complemented the Special Auxiliary Force (SAP), comprising former Army men, and the police for repulsing the Maoist attack at Sitamari yesterday.

Power crisis to haunt Mumbai
Mumbai, April 1
For the first time since the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Mumbai will have to face compulsory power cuts as the city’s private sector utilities have expressed their inability to bridge a shortage of about 200 MW.

Mulayam’s populist manifesto
Lucknow, April 1
In a populist manifesto Samajwadi Party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav promised not only “muft padhai, muft dawai and muft sinchai” (free education, medicines and irrigation) but also assured to implement it within an hour of taking oath of office if returned to power.

UP POLL
BJP leaders see terrorist threat
New Delhi, April 1
After the Congress had raised the issue of threat to its leaders during poll campaign in Utter Pradesh and had cautioned its young leader Rahul Gandhi to follow the security norms during his road shows, the BJP today said its top leaders faced threat from ISI-baked terrorist organisations.

 



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Russia can’t help if N-deal fails: Envoy
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
Russian Ambassador to India, V Trubnikov, said he was confident that the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation deal would fructify.

But in case the deal fell through, he indicated that Russia would not be in a position to help India tide over the energy crisis. “We have international obligations to keep. We cannot ignore these obligations,” was his terse reply. The envoy, while talking to a group of journalists, said India would indeed be in a crisis situation on the energy front if the nuclear deal with the US fell through.

Trubnikov said India was heavily dependent on petroleum imports for its energy needs and in view of its rapid growth this requirement would increase. The failure of the Indo-US nuke deal would pose a problem for India. However, the envoy felt that such a situation would not arise.

He admitted that there were problems between India and the US which were yet to be sorted out for signing the bilateral 123 agreement. It was tough to find perfect synergy between the US Congress and the Indian strategic requirements. Another problem was Washington’s insistence that India sign an additional protocol and an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before the signing of the 123 agreement.

The problem was complicated because the US wanted India to go ahead with its part of the obligation with the IAEA even before knowing the fate of the 123 agreement. It was a question of timing and a kind of “chicken or egg” situation. After overcoming these two hurdles, the biggest problem was getting a nod from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. He cited the opposition of several NSG members like Austria and Denmark to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Trubnikov spoke candidly on Iran too and said the Iranian leadership needed to see ground realities. He described statements coming from Teheran as contradictory, confusing, inappropriate and even provocative. He said Russia was for settling the issue at the IAEA level and opined that diplomacy still needed to be given a chance to resolve the problem.

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NEWS ANALYSIS
Execution of 6 Bangla terrorists a blow to gun-and-religion culture
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
The execution of six Islamist terrorists on Friday by the interim government of Bangladesh was a blow to the gun-and-religion culture that was threatening to turn that country into a medieval-era Caliphate.

It is the first major step by Dhaka in years in the war against terror and should bring about a sigh of relief by India in particular and the international community in general. The development also connotes that the interim government, headed by Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, means business in cleansing his country of the jihadi brand of terrorism.

Bangladesh-watchers in the Government of India are keeping a close tab on the war against terror in Bangladesh which Fakhruddin Ahmed has initiated with a big bang. His process is no less important for India than the military action taken by Bhutan government, a couple of years ago to get rid of Bhutanese - soil of anti-India insurgent outfits.

The process started by Fakhruddin Ahmed has important implications for Bangladesh’s domestic politics as well as Indian national security. On the former point, it signals that Bangladesh polity is turning a new leaf. It is an open secret that since 1991 the Islamist militants in Bangladesh rode piggyback on the shoulders of two major political parties - Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and Begum Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Successive governments in Dhaka treated Islamist militants with kid gloves, primarily driven by vote bank politics. Both AL and BNP used religion to win elections and nurtured the Islamist groups to show their commitment to Islam which in the long run boomeranged on them.

The six executed terrorists were lynchpins of the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh: the outfit’s chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman, his second-in-command Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai, militant commander Ataur Rahman Sunny, regional commander Abdul Awal, suicide squad member Iftekhar Hasan Al-Mamun and majlish-e-shura member Khaled Saifullah. They were wanted in connection with the November 14, 2005 bomb attack in Jhalakati which killed two judges. A total of 341 cases were filed against the JMB operatives since the August 17, 2005 series of countrywide bombings. On August 17, 2005, the militant outfit launched a series of bomb attacks in 63 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh, especially on court premises, declaring that they did not believe in the man-made laws and the existing judicial system.

JMB chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman was a veteran of the Afghan war and had unleashed a reign of Islamic terror in Bangladesh since 1998. He studied at Madina Islami University in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s and later worked with the Saudi embassy in Dhaka for five years from 1985.

Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai rose to notoriety in April 2004 when his men started vigilante operations in Rajshahi-Naogaon region, holding ‘trials’ of left-wing extremists in his rural ‘Islamic courts’ and executing them publicly. This Taliban-trained militant had been involved in clandestine militant activities since 1998. He had been actively involved with Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, for long. The JMB chief sent Bangla Bhai to Afghanistan where he was trained in using different kinds of firearms and explosives.

Ataur Rahman Sunny, younger brother of JMB chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman and ‘military commander’ of the Islamist outfit, was an expert in manufacturing deadly explosives. He had made the bombs used in the August 17, 2005 countrywide blasts. He was a member of JMB Majlish-e-Sura and used to coordinate all militant and terrorist operations.

Abdul Awal, the son-in-law of JMB chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman, had been actively involved in the politics of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student front of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, before he joined the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh. Iftekhar Hasan Al Mamun alias Sheikh Mamun(21), was a baker turned terror bomber.

The execution of these militants will have positive impact on terrorism in India’s north-east in the long run. However, a backlash by the affected Bangladeshi terror outfits in the Indian north-east cannot be ruled out.

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Himalayan glaciers melting fast: Study

New Delhi, April 1
A majority of Himalayan glaciers, which serve as the lifeline of north India, are melting at a faster rate, posing a serious threat to water security in the region, a study claims.

The finding is part of the second of the four volume report “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” prepared by Working Group II of IPCC, which will be released on April six in Brussels.

“Not just Gangotri, many other glaciers in the Himalayas were melting faster due to global warming. This posed a great threat to water security in the region as it was fed by these Himalyan glaciers,” said Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) and one of the co-authors of the report.

Termed this as a “shock”, Bhadwal said, “It took us a green revolution to attain self sufficiency in food supplies, and today we are again facing a threat of losing it.”

“A country like India could not ignore climate change. The problem we were facing here was lack of infrastructure, machinery and good monitoring systems. But it would be wrong to say that the government is inconsiderate. The 11th Five Year Plan would come out with some strong policies on climate change,” Bhadwal said. — PTI

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Architect Laurie Baker dead

Thiruvananthapuram, April 1
Veteran architect and pioneer of the low-cost housing technology Laurie Baker passed away here today.

Baker was 90 years old, he was ailing from age old illness for the past many days. His died in the morning at his residence ‘the hamlet’.

He was born in Birmingham, England, on March 2, 1917.

Baker was educated in the King Edward’s Grammar School and the Birmingham School of Architecture. He came to India in 1945 as part of missionary work and since then lived and worked here and obtained the Indian Citizenship in 1989.

A pioneer of cost effective architecture movement in India, Baker had become well known for designing and building near-impossibly low cost, high quality homes, with a great portion of his work suited to or built for lower-middle to lower class clients. — UNI

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Air Marshal Gupta is IAF medical chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Air Marshal J.K. Gupta has been appointed Director-General Medical Services (Air).

He will be responsible for the administration and functioning of all medical establishments in the Air force.

He took over from Air Marshal H.K. Maini at Air Headquarters today, an official statement said.

Air Marshal Gupta, is an alumni of Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, and was commissioned on January 15, 1970.

He is a specialist in aviation medicine and has had several tenures at the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine at Bangalore, where he contributed not only in research and medical evolution but was also recognised by Bangalore University and later Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences as a Professor in Aerospace Medicine.

During his tenure with Directorate General Civil Aviation, he represented the country in a number of ICAO medical conferences.

Air Marshal Gupta has also commanded prestigious institutes like Air Force Central Medical Establishment, Delhi, and Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore. He was appointed as the President’s Honorary Surgeon in 2006.

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Fake Army officer nabbed

Nagpur, April 1
The police has arrested a man posing as fake Army officer, who is alleged to have abducted and sexually exploited several girls.

Speaking to mediapersons here yesterday, Nagpur District (Rural) Superintendent of Police (SP) Yashaswi Yadav said the suspect, identified as Rahul Singh Mehta, a resident of Patiala in Punjab, was nabbed after a girl from Kamptee, about 15 km from here, escaped from his clutches and complained to the police.

The modus operandi used by Mehta, who is physically challenged, was to travel by air-conditioned coaches in trains and chat with young women travellers, Yadav said. Mehta would tell the girls that he was undergoing training at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakvasla, near Pune in Maharashtra, and that he had lost his legs in a blast while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the SP said.

Thus, gaining the sympathy and confidence of the girls, he would and then take their addresses and mobile telephone numbers, Yadav said.

The suspect then visited the residence of the girls, abducted them and took them to other cities, where he would exploit them, Yadav added.

A police officer from Kamptee came to know of a similar complaint lodged by a girl in Nagpur when he came to the city last week in connection with another case, Yadav said. Mehta was traced on the basis of the mobile number he had given to the Nagpur girl, to a hotel in the city where he was staying under a fake name and arrested. — UNI

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Yechury: SC order contradictory
Left-UPA meeting next week
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
The UPA-Left coordination committee will meet next week after the SAARC meet on April 4 to discuss the Supreme Court’s stay on the OBC reservation in institutions of higher learning.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the party’s Politburo meeting that “we have been told that the UPA and Left parties will meet after the SAARC meet. After that, there will be wider consultation with all political parties on the quota issue.”

The quota issue figured in the CPM Politburo meet and the matter has been referred to the party’s central committee for detailed deliberations.

“It is a very serious issue that the court has stayed a unanimous legislation of Parliament. While it is the right of the legislature to make laws, it is the right of the judiciary to interpret them. We think this delicate balance has now come into question,” Yechury said.

While terming the apex court's order as “contradictory” and against its own logic in the backdrop of a nine-member bench deciding in favour of reservations following the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations, Yechury said it was a “grave matter” and had to be addressed by the political system as a whole.

He said the central committee would prepare a report on the political situation in the country, including the party's position on the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

On the Nandigram issue, he said the West Bengal state committee of the party would submit a report on it, which would be taken up for an open discussion by the central committee. The question of special economic zones and the party's stand on it would be debated in the context of the Nandigram experience, Yechury said.

Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was non-committal whether the Nandigram crisis had been resolved following the appeal of his predecessor and veteran communist Jyoti Basu to the Left constituents and his own admission about commiting a “mistake.”

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Muslim uplift on Nitish’s mind
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 1
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is leaving no stone unturned to provide basic socio-economic support to Muslims in the state.

The development came in the wake of a survey by the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), pointing out the alarming literacy rate among Muslims in Bihar which was as low as 38 per cent. Besides, 87 per cent of Muslims staying in villages were said to be deprived of basic socio-economic support.

Even though the alliance partner of the JD(U), the BJP, was said to be opposed to various recommendations of the Sachar Committee, Nitish took a big step forward to implement one of its recommedations in Bihar.

The state cabinet recently decided to offer coaching to students of the minority community for competitive examinations at government cost. These included the BPSC, medical, engineering, banking, railways and management tests.

What was more significant was that while implementing the decision, Nitish decided to select 50 per cent of such Muslim students from girls.

Going by the ADRI findings as on date, only 18 per cent of the Muslim students received any kind of financial assistance for educational purposes. The trend reportedly has been continuing for more than a decade.

Madrasas here also welcomed the decision by Nitish last year when he had instructed to clear the salaries of teachers there which had been pending for long.

Nitish was said to be happy to note this social transition in Bihar where Muslims were voting for the NDA despite JD(U)’s association with the BJP.

Earlier, Lalu Prasad was said to have monopolised the Muslim votes in Bihar based on his mythical "Yadav-Muslim" equation that had helped him to rule the state for 15 years till he was grounded by Nitish in 2005.

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Cops get Nitish pat
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 1
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has complemented the Special Auxiliary Force (SAP), comprising former Army men, and the police for repulsing the Maoist attack at Sitamari yesterday.

Bihar was the first state to have formed SAP, a model which was reportedly appreciated by the union home ministry. Sources say the state government, in coordination with the Shasastra Seema Bal, has already stepped up vigil along the porous Indo-Nepal border, covering districts of north Bihar, in the wake of the armed Maoist attack at Riga in Sitamari, which claimed the life of an SAP jawan and injured six others. Riga is just 4 km away from the Indo-Nepal border.

The authorities are reportedly working to create a special intelligence wing to deal with the Maoists.

Over 400 armed Maoist rebels blew up a road bridge, attacked a police station and a block office at Riga in a bid to loot a nationalised bank, but the police successfully repulsed the attack.

All entry and exit points of Sitamari district have been sealed and raids are being conducted to apprehend Maoists. The authorities have also sealed the Indo-Nepal border in Sitamarhi district and SSB jawans are conducting combing operations.

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Power crisis to haunt Mumbai
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 1
For the first time since the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Mumbai will have to face compulsory power cuts as the city’s private sector utilities have expressed their inability to bridge a shortage of about 200 MW.

Residents of city’s suburbs will suffer the most with Reliance Energy Ltd (REL), which is the sole supplier here, unable to squeeze more power out of its facilities. The company also failed to enter into a power supply agreement with Tatas adding to its subscribers’ misery.

According to an REL spokesperson, the suburbs would have to face a 30-minute power outage every two days on rotational basis. Power supply to the suburbs would be switched off in phases.

While electricity to suburban Mumbai is supplied by REL, Tata Power Company (TPC) and the municipal-owned BEST supply power to the consumers of downtown Mumbai. REL and TPC have power generation companies in different parts of the country.

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Mulayam’s populist manifesto
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 1
In a populist manifesto Samajwadi Party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav promised not only “muft padhai, muft dawai and muft sinchai” (free education, medicines and irrigation) but also assured to implement it within an hour of taking oath of office if returned to power.

The manifesto, released this evening at the party headquarters, guarantees a four-fold increase in the Rs 1000 stipend to emergency detainees, a three-time increase in the present Rs 500 unemployment dole and a two-fold increase in the number of free saris to poor women.

Education, free of cost, for all up to the graduation level, has also been promised. During the current regime the SP government had ensured free education for girls up to graduation.

Releasing the manifesto Yadav highlighted various facilities extended to the farmers - free irrigation by tubewells being one of them. Better rate of compensation during natural calamities and easier loans have also been promised.

According to Yadav, another unique feature of the manifesto was the Lohia Awas Yojana. He described this yojna as an improvement upon the present Indira Awas Yojana that provides housing only to the scheduled castes. The Lohia Awas Yojana would offer housing to every poor irrespective of caste and community.

The manifesto promises to upgrade district-level hospitals to speciality-level so that patients are not referred to the state capital or anywhere out of the state. A medical insurance for critical illness and a cancer research institute have also been pledged.
In case the private sector could not generate energy the state government would set up its own power stations to bridge the supply-demand gap in the state so that power is not bought from outside. Complete rural electrification within a year has been promised.

The minorities have also been promised government jobs in proportion to their population. Compensation to riot victims from the minority community has been promised.

A fund for weavers would also be created that would extend loans to poor weavers without any collateral guarantee.

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UP POLL
BJP leaders see terrorist threat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
After the Congress had raised the issue of threat to its leaders during poll campaign in Utter Pradesh and had cautioned its young leader Rahul Gandhi to follow the security norms during his road shows, the BJP today said its top leaders faced threat from ISI-baked terrorist organisations.

Raising the issue, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abas Naqvi expressed the apprehension that ISI-baked terrorist outfits might attack senior party leaders as party sources had reports that such elements had proliferated in Uttar Pradesh.

Attacking the Mulayam Singh government for its alleged soft-approach towards such elements, Naqvi told a press conference here that during the past three years of the SP rule, several terrorist outfits had spread their network in UP.

Naqvi claimed that there were intelligence reports suggesting that top BJP leaders, including L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, he himself and others might be attacked by terrorist outfit like the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

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