SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Conspiracy to kill MLA alleged
1 dead in blast at slain BJP leader’s house
Lucknow, June 26
A blast occurred at the Ghazipur house of slain BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai this morning when some explosives stored there exploded instantly killing a constable, injuring five others and extensively damaging the palatial mansion. The explosives had been stored there to reportedly kill some unnamed MLA.

Jaya opposes USS Nimitz’s docking
Chennai, June 26
All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa today sided with the CPM in opposing the docking of “USS Nimitz”, the largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday.

No N-weapons on board: MoD
New Delhi, June 26
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today clarified that the American nuclear-powered USS Nimitz aircraft carrier was not known to be carrying weapons with nuclear warheads.


EARLIER STORIES




CRPF jawans stand guard near the bogies of a goods train that was blown up by Maoists near Chetar railway station in Lathehar district, Jharkhand, on Tuesday.
CRPF jawans stand guard near the bogies of a goods train that was blown up by Maoists near Chetar railway station in Lathehar district, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Maoist Bandh
Security beefed up

Hyderabad, June 26
Security has been beefed up across Andhra Pradesh in view of Maoists' call for a two-day economic blockade from today targeting industrial zones and vital installations.

Singur Activist’s Murder
CPM worker remanded in custody
Kolkata, June 26
TMC and the Singur Bachaoo Committee workers today held protests and demonstration outside the Chandandangar SDJM’s court in Hooghly, where Debu Mallick, a CPM activist, was to be produced.

Godhra panel: Forensic lab official rules out tampering with samples
Ahmedabad, June 26
Gujarat FSL assistant director Deepak Talati today ruled out any possibility of tampering with the samples collected from S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express train, in which 59 “kar sevaks” of the VHP were burnt alive at Godhra on February 27, 2002.

Kolkata-Dhaka train soon
New Delhi, June 26
The caretaker government of Bangladesh today took into account India’s primary security concerns and assured New Delhi that it would not allow its territory to be used for anti-India activities.

HCs can’t order CBI probe routinely: SC
New Delhi, June 26
The Supreme Court has cautioned the high courts against ordering CBI inquiry in criminal cases in a routine manner as the premier national agency was meant for only to take up the investigation in cases where state governments have shown “laxity” in handling them.

Pratibha claims divine premonition
Mount Abu, June 26
After her controversial remarks on the women’s veil, the UPA-Left Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil has now claimed to have spoken to a late spiritual leader from whom she got a “divine premonition” of greater responsibility coming her way. “I had a pleasant experience,” Patil recounted to news television channel about her recent meeting here with head of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Hridaymohini, popularly known as ‘dadiji’.

UPA calls Pratibha ‘tainted’
New Delhi, June 26
Calling the UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil “tainted”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today stated that it would launch a mass awareness campaign to educate the electors on the significance of the July 19 poll.

Congress hits out at Shekhawat’s politicking
New Delhi, June 26
After the BJP fired the first salvo against UPA’s presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the Congress yesterday launched a frontal attack on the NDA-supported candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, saying he had indulged in politicking while occupying the second highest constitutional post.

CPM flays Shekhawat for role in Babri demolition
New Delhi, June 26
As the UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil’s financial irregularities came under sharp attack from the BJP-led NDA, the Left parties today launched a counter-offensive by highlighting the communal stance of the ‘Independent’ candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Office-goers lathi-charged for protesting police ‘brutality’
Kolkata, June 26
The police today lathi-charged several office employees, including women, in the posh Camac Street area, who were protesting against police constable Harendra Nath Pachar for not paying money to a poor vendor.

TN bypoll held amidst tight security
Chennai, June 26
More than 60 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise amidst tight security and presence of central forces for the Madurai West Assembly by-elections.

Antony rules out troop cut in J-K
New Delhi, June 26
Expressing concern about continuing infiltration across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir, union defence minister A. K. Antony asserted yesterday that because of this there was no question of reducing troop levels in the state.

French IT companies to recruit 40,000 Indians, says envoy
New Delhi, June 26
The new foreign minister of France, Bernard Kouchner, is expected to visit India in October. French ambassador Dominique Girard told The Tribune that the agenda for the visit has not been fixed.

Moily panel against SC’s direction on NSC
New Delhi, June 26
The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has rejected Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre to set up a national security commission (NSC) at the union-level for selection and placement of chiefs of the central police organisations (CPOs).

Uttarakhand Annual Plan
Opposition flays BJP for less allocation to core sectors
Dehra Dun, June 26
A day ahead of the Budget Session, Opposition parties have slammed the Uttarakhand’s annual fiscal plan 2007-08 approved by the Planning Commission on the recommendation of the state government as betrayal of people’s faith reposed in the BJP. The party has come under criticism because the allocation of funds for some critical sectors has faced drastic cuts.

Steel project is benami venture of Andhra CM: TDP
Hyderabad, June 26
Barely two weeks after laying of the foundation stone, an ambitious private steel project in Andhra Pradesh has hit a roadblock with the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) alleging that it was a ‘benami’ venture of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy’s family.

Toll-free drug helpline launched
New Delhi, June 26
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Meira Kumar, today launched a toll free national drug helpline on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Top









 

Conspiracy to kill MLA alleged
1 dead in blast at slain BJP leader’s house
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 26
A blast occurred at the Ghazipur house of slain BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai this morning when some explosives stored there exploded instantly killing a constable, injuring five others and extensively damaging the palatial mansion. The explosives had been stored there to reportedly kill some unnamed MLA.

Briefing the press, principal secretary home J.N. Chamber said constable Nand Kumar Thakur, gunner of Rai’s wife Alka Rai, died in the blast that occurred at 9.45 am at Krishnand Rai’s bungalow near Sinchai Tiraha. The explosives were stored in one box. Their nature is yet to be ascertained.

Five persons present on the scene received injuries and are being treated in a local hospital. The slain MLA’s nephew Manoj Rai was also present at the time of the blast.

According to the principal secretary two or three persons ran away from the scene as soon as the police arrived.

The police is questioning Babudhan, resident of Rohtas district in Bihar, who was also present at the site of the blast.

Babudhan reportedly spilled the beans about the conspiracy to kill an MLA. Chamber said that the following persistent questioning he revealed that the explosives were meant to slay an MLA, a task for which he had been brought from Buxar four days ago by the constable who was killed in this morning’s accidental blast.

According to Chamber, Babudhan had admitted that the slain MLA’s nephew Manoj Rai and the dead constable were jointly planning to blow up an MLA, whose name he claimed not to know.

While IG Varanasi range Kashmir Singh rushed to Ghazipur, DGP Vikram Singh also air-dashed to personally take stock of the situation.

Strangely, till late in the evening neither Manoj Rai had been interrogated by the police nor had any FIR been registered.

Responding to a question, the principal secretary refused to hazard a guess regarding the identity of the MLA, who was to be the target of the explosives.

It may be recalled that strongman-turned-politician and Mau Independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari and his brother SP MP from Ghazipur, Afzal Ansari, are at present lodged in Ghazipur jail in connection with the murder of Krishnanand Rai.

Last month their eldest brother Sibagtulla Ansari won the Ghazipur Assembly seat defeating Krishnanad Rai’s widow Alka Rai.

Top

 

Jaya opposes USS Nimitz’s docking
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 26
All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa today sided with the CPM in opposing the docking of “USS Nimitz”, the largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday.

She urged the Central Government not to allow the warship to dock in India’s territorial waters, as it would be hazardous to the people of this region. The nuclear-powered war ship will be docked near the Chennai Port for five days.

Jayalalithaa described defence minister A. K. Antony’s claim that the visit of warships had been happening for so many years and it was an aspect of defence cooperation with various countries as ‘specious’.

She pointed out, “This is a serious issue and the possible radiation hazards to the people of Chennai cannot be taken lightly.”

Water Transport Workers Federation of India T. Narendra Rao in a letter to the Centre has stated, “If any disaster happens to the nuclear ship, the radiation will damage the whole city of Chennai and the neighbouring states.”

Though the ship with 6,000 U.S. Navy sailors and 160 aircraft will be anchored far away from the port and men will be ferried in Indian Navy vessels, workers at the Chennai Port are scared because of the two nuclear reactors aboard the ship.

However, experts dismiss such apprehensions and describe them as “imaginary”.

They pointed out that more than 6000 personnel were working on the ship, which had been sailing around the world for three decades and till date no radiation leak had been reported within the ship.

Top

 

No N-weapons on board: MoD

New Delhi, June 26
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today clarified that the American nuclear-powered USS Nimitz aircraft carrier was not known to be carrying weapons with nuclear warheads.

The clarification from the MoD came as the outcry against the US aircraft carrier docking at Chennai gained further pitch with the ruling UPA allies, the Left parties and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa opposing the docking of the carrier in Indian waters.

The outcry against the visit has been raised as there are apprehensions that it could prove to be hazardous to people in nearby cities.

The Left parties said it went against the stated position of not providing facilities to nuclear-powered warships.

However, the ministry's spokesman clarified that the USS Nimitz is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and is not known to be carrying weapons with nuclear warheads. — TNS

Top

 

Maoist Bandh
Security beefed up

Hyderabad, June 26
Security has been beefed up across Andhra Pradesh in view of Maoists' call for a two-day economic blockade from today targeting industrial zones and vital installations.

The districts bordering Orissa and Chhattisgarh have been particularly put on alert following intelligence inputs suggesting that naxalites could attack power stations and mines to bring the mining activity to a standstill.

Maoists had recently blasted high tension power lines in Bastar region, plunging six districts into darkness for 11 days and affecting mining operations and movement of ore from Bailadilla mines.

It is feared that extremists may carry out a sensational attack, targeting politicians or police officials, to avenge the killing of their top leader S Rajamouli, a member of the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee and a key military strategist, in a police encounter at the Dharmavaram Railway Station recently.

The call for economic blockade, coupled with signs of frustration within the Maoist outfit over losing important leaders, has put the state police on a state of high alert. Security has been tightened at the residences of ministers, ruling party legislators and key political functionaries.

The economic blockade is believed to have been inspired by their counterparts in Nepal who had wrecked the economy of the Himalayan Kingdom with frequent calls for bandh.

The latest strategy of Maoists is to target the country's economic infrastructure. — TNS

Top

 

Singur Activist’s Murder
CPM worker remanded in custody
Tribune News Service and agencies

Kolkata, June 26
TMC and the Singur Bachaoo Committee workers today held protests and demonstration outside the Chandandangar SDJM’s court in Hooghly, where Debu Mallick, a CPM activist, was to be produced.

Mallick was arrested recently by the CBI for the murder of a teenager Tapashi (17) at the site of the Tata Motors plant in December last year. But due to the protest he could not be produced till 4 p.m. However, he was produced later after the court hours before the SDO’s court and was remanded in police custody for one week.

Tapashi was an active participant of the Krishi Bachaoo Committee’s movement at Singur against the forcible acquiring of the farmlands and their transfer to Tata Motors.

On December 18 last year, Tapashi’s burnt body was found on the land fenced off for the Tata Motors small car project. She was allegedly raped before her killing. Debu was in charge of the guards protecting the boundary wall in Singur that night.

Debu was picked up recently by the CBI from Singur in Tapashi’s death case last week and sent for narco analysis and polygraph (lie-detector) tests to Delhi during which he reportedly confessed to the crime.

The Chief Minister and CPM secretary Biman Bose had earlier denied the CPM’s involvement in the killing of Tapashi. However, they said today that there would be no interference into the inquiry and the law would take its own course. With Mallick’s arrest Mamata Banerjee today again demanded the resignation of Buddhadeb government.

Top

 

Godhra panel: Forensic lab official rules out tampering with samples

Ahmedabad, June 26
Gujarat FSL assistant director Deepak Talati today ruled out any possibility of tampering with the samples collected from S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express train, in which 59 “kar sevaks” of the VHP were burnt alive at Godhra on February 27, 2002.

There were negative replies to the queries seeking to know of tampering with the evidences of samples collected by the FSL from the coach. He was being cross-examined by the Nanavati and Shah Panel set to probe the post-Godhra communal riots.

The FSL official was crossed examined by advocate Mukul Sinha of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, an NGO. Sinha told the panel that there was a possibility that petrol could have been poured over the samples before they were handed over to the FSL.

“Can you say that small quantities of petrol were applied on each of the samples before they were sealed and handed over to FSL?” the advocate asked which was denied by the FSL official.

Sinha then claimed that 46 of the 47 gas chromatographs, which were submitted by Talati last week to the panel, clearly indicate the presence of fluid petrol in the samples.

“Talati’s graphs show that the proportion of highly volatile components of petrol was more than it’s lesser volatile components in samples taken from the charred remains of the coach,” Sinha said.

The FSL official defended this by saying that he had not done a quantitative analysis of the samples and so did not agree with Sinha. He said the laboratory could not conduct a quantitative analysis of samples now.

“The samples inside the S-6 coach of the train could have been tampered with as they were collected hours after the incident and by then a large number of persons, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had physically stepped inside the bogie,” Sinha later told reporters.

Talati had examined the samples taken from the train and concluded in his forensic report that they contained petroleum hydrocarbons, which indicated that large quantities of petrol were used to burn the coach.

Earlier, Sinha had said the cause of the blaze in the train could have been a flashover fire, or a small fire that suddenly erupts in a closed space like the coach of a train. — UNI

Top

 

Kolkata-Dhaka train soon
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
The caretaker government of Bangladesh today took into account India’s primary security concerns and assured New Delhi that it would not allow its territory to be used for anti-India activities.

India and Bangladesh also agreed to start the Kolkata-Dhaka passenger train soon and give a fillip to road-and-rail connectivity to promote people-to-people contacts.

At the conclusion of two-day Foreign Office consultations in Dhaka today, India and Bangladesh reiterated their commitment not to allow their territories to be used in any manner for activities inimical to the other. The two sides decided to hold the next meeting of the Home Secretaries at a mutually convenient date to have further discussions in this regard.

The two sides emphasised the need for enhanced security cooperation, particularly information sharing. Anti-India terror elements operating from Bangladesh territory have been a major concern for New Delhi. 

Top

 

HCs can’t order CBI probe routinely: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 26
The Supreme Court has cautioned the high courts against ordering CBI inquiry in criminal cases in a routine manner as the premier national agency was meant for only to take up the investigation in cases where state governments have shown “laxity” in handling them.

In each state a mechanism has been created under the Constitution for effective investigation of the criminal cases and they could not be handed over to the CBI in a routine manner unless there was a compelling reason to do so, a Bench of Mr Justices Arijit Pasayat and B P Singh said.

Once again reiterating its ruling that the CBI inquiry could not be ordered by a judicial officer of the subordinate courts, the apex court said even the high courts could not order it on the asking of the petitioners as there should be some cogent reasons for the investigation by the premier agency.

“Of course, where it is shown that the investigating agency (in a state) is not doing proper 
investigation and/or that there is reason to believe that there is laxity in the investigation, a direction be given to the CBI to investigate the matter in appropriate cases,” the Bench ruled.

So far as the jurisdiction of the subordinate court judges was concerned, the apex court said, “magisterial power cannot be stretched under Section 156(3) CrPC beyond directing the officer in-charge of a police station to conduct the investigation and no such direction can be given to the CBI.”

The ruling came in a judgement on an appeal of the CBI against the order of the Gujarat High Court, which had citicised the agency for approaching it directly in a case where an inquiry by it was ordered by a chief judicial magistrate (CJM). The High Court had said the CBI should have first gone to Sessions Court against the CJM's order.

Though the high court had quashed the CJM’s order for CBI inquiry, it had imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on the agency for approaching it directly bypassing the Sessions Court.

Quashing the order for imposing the fine on the CBI and its criticism by the high court, the apex court said there was no reason for lambasting the agency officers as it was not even a party to the case before the CJM.

Top

 

Pratibha claims divine premonition

Mount Abu, June 26
After her controversial remarks on the women’s veil, the UPA-Left Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil has now claimed to have spoken to a late spiritual leader from whom she got a “divine premonition” of greater responsibility coming her way.

“I had a pleasant experience,” Patil recounted to news television channel about her recent meeting here with head of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Hridaymohini, popularly known as ‘dadiji’.

The university is affiliated as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the UNICEF. Patil was in Mount Abu when Congress President Sonia Gandhi called her to seek her consent for her being nominated as a UPA-Left candidate.

“Dadiji ke shareer mein baba aye (her reference was to Dada Lekhraj who founded Brahma Kumari sect. Lekhraj died in 1969).

Patil claimed that the late Baba spoke to her indicating that she should be prepared to shoulder greater responsibility. “He also made me very lucky”, she said.

Immediately after she was named the UPA-Left candidate, Patil had triggered a controversy with her remarks that women in Rajasthan had to wear veil to protect themselves from the invading Mughals. — PTI

Top

 

UPA calls Pratibha ‘tainted’
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Calling the UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil “tainted”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today stated that it would launch a mass awareness campaign to educate the electors on the significance of the July 19 poll.

Addressing the two-day meeting of the party National Executive here, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani appealed to the UPA’s constituents to reconsider their decision of fielding Patil as their presidential candidate and urged the non-NDA MPs and MLAs to take a conscience call.

He said the BJP and others from the NDA had on several occasions visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan to seek action against tainted ministers in the ruling coalition. “But what if Rashtrapati Bhavan itself gets a tainted occupant,” he asked.

Justifying his call for a “conscience vote”, the former BJP president recalled that late Indira Gandhi had issued a similar call during the presidential election in 1969 “to strengthen the hands of one individual within the then ruling party.” However, this led to the emergency in 1975, he added.

He said their conscience call was aimed at safeguarding certain “basic ideals of our national life, to save Rashtrapati Bhavan from being devalued in the manner in which the Prime Minister’s Office had been devalued three years ago.”

Talking about the charge of UPA spearheading a smear campaign against Patil, he said none of the forums from where the allegations were being made had any vested interest in maligning her image.

He also said Patil had been chosen not only due to her loyalty to “the ruling family”, but also because of her “vulnerability.”

Advani said that never in the past six decades had any presidential candidate faced such allegations. “One of them pertains to protection of criminalisation of politics. This allegation has been implicitly endorsed by the High Court,” he asserted.

Talking about the party’s performance in the recent UP Assembly elections, he demanded an “honest introspection and self-critical analysis”. He also said the outcome of Goa elections could not be compared to that of UP.

Yesterday, a top BJP leader had pointed out to Advani that former CM Kalyan Singh’s silence on the issue was a matter of concern.

Many in the BJP are privately accusing the party chief of botching-up the saffron campaign and of a flawed candidate selection.

Earlier, the party adopted a resolution on the state of agriculture, stating that the country needs to take the warning given by the eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan seriously.

The party executive has decided to set up a committee to formulate a comprehensive agriculture policy. The committee will study the Farmers Commission recommendations apart from other land-related issues and make recommendations to the party.

Top

 

Congress hits out at Shekhawat’s politicking
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
After the BJP fired the first salvo against UPA’s presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the Congress yesterday launched a frontal attack on the NDA-supported candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, saying he had indulged in politicking while occupying the second highest constitutional post.

The hard-hitting Congress attack sought to highlight the point that UPA-Left enjoyed an overwhelming majority and the NDA-backed candidate was fighting presidential election on the premise of “engineering defections”.

“Such a piquant situation has no precedent in our parliamentary history. Those who are committed to constitutional values should ponder over the blatant constitutional immorality and gross impropriety of a situation in which the basic plank of the NDA’s independent candidate is victory through defections,” Congress spokesman Devendra Dwivedi said.

The Congress has also appointed a five-member media campaign committee for presidential elections, which includes union ministers Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and Renuka Chowdhury, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, spokesman Abhishek Singhvi besides Devendra Dwivedi.

Apart from building a strong campaign in favour of Patil through daily statements, the committee will counter the opposition’s criticism. Dasmunsi, who coordinated the nomination process of Patil, yesterday said that Shekhawat’s contesting, as an independent was an attempt to mislead the people. “It is a desperate move to deny links with the RSS,” he said.

Devendra Dwivedi said, “He as Vice-President (VP) attended a BJP-cum-NDA meeting and has been participating in designing his campaign strategy through means which are a common knowledge.”

Repeatedly pointing to implications for constitutional values, Dwivedi said Rajya Sabha Chairman has been designated as the competent authority to decide any question that may arise regarding disqualification on the ground of defection.

“The same presiding officer has decided to contest presidential election on the solitary ground that he would be able to engineer defections on a mass scale from the UPA, Left, BSP combine,” he said.

Responding to queries on the allegations against Patil of loan-default by a cooperative sugar factory of which she was founder chairperson, Dwivedi said the issue concerned several such mills and no case was pending against her. He said allegations against her of flouting rules of a cooperative bank pertaining to loans; concern a period when she was no more associated with it.

Dismissing allegations of her influencing probe in a murder case because of alleged suspicion on her brother, he said the CBI was probing the case and nobody should interfere in the matter.

Patil, who will hit the campiagn trail from July 1, is flying to Chennai first to address UPA-Left legislators. She will be in Delhi for the next three days before going to Trivandrum on July 5. In the first phase of her tour programme, Patil is also expected to seek support of legislators in Puducherry, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Shimla 

Top

 

CPM flays Shekhawat for role in Babri demolition
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
As the UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil’s financial irregularities came under sharp attack from the BJP-led NDA, the Left parties today launched a counter-offensive by highlighting the communal stance of the ‘Independent’ candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

The Shekhawat-led Rajasthan government was dismissed for its partisan role leading up to the Babri Masjid demolition and even the Supreme Court upheld it, said the CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.

The broadside launched by the Left leader is aimed at exposing the biased manner in which the NDA-supported candidate had performed when he was the Chief Minister and to take the offensive to the opposite camp.

Countering the argument of Shekhawat that he was an Independent candidate and the poll was not a political contest, Karat said the incumbent Vice-President had lifelong association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its organisations. And he could not disassociate himself with it by merely stating that he had resigned from BJP, when he became the Vice-President.

Karat said the presidential poll was a political exercise as the Electoral College comprised of MPs and MLAs belonging to different political parties. The members of the college voted based on the stand taken by the political parties, he added.

On the Left candidate for the Vice-President, the CPM general secretary did not rule out such a candidature. “Suitable candidate would be chosen,” he said.

On the issue of suspension of Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, he said the party’s central committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, endorsed their suspension from the politburo for indulging in a public spat.

The two-day meeting of the central committee approved the suspension and decided to take stock of the situation in its next meeting, which has not been scheduled yet.

He said the party would launch a nation-wide campaign in August to raise what it called people’s issues like price rise, farmers’ problems and unemployment.

Top

 

Office-goers lathi-charged for protesting police ‘brutality’
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, June 26
The police today lathi-charged several office employees, including women, in the posh Camac Street area, who were protesting against police constable Harendra Nath Pachar for not paying money to a poor vendor.

Pachar, who was reportedly drunk, allegedly did not pay the paltry amount of Rs 2 to the vendor after forcibly taking a banana from him. He instead, started beating the vendor, who was small boy.

Several office goers, who witnessed this act, protested against the cop.

A man, who tried to save the boy, too, was beaten up.

Later, senior police officers from Lalbazar arrived on the spot and controlled the situation. In another incident in the Beliaghata area, some mediapersons, including the cameraman of a private TV channel, were beaten up by a group of CPM workers.

Top

 

TN bypoll held amidst tight security
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 26
More than 60 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise amidst tight security and presence of central forces for the Madurai West Assembly by-elections.

Barring a few stray incidents polling passed off peacefully as Central paramilitary forces were deployed to guard the booths but state policemen were posted 100 metres away from the polling booths.

Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer and election observers toured the constituency since polling began at 7 am. Gupta had already ordered "outsiders" to leave the constituency as soon as campaigning came to an end.

The by-election was necessitated due to the death of S. V. Shanmugam of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led alliance gave the seat to the Congress which nominated K.S.K. Rajendran.

The by-election assumed significance as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's son. M.K. Azhagiri is in charge of the southern districts of the state and himself resides in Madurai.

The temple town had witnessed large-scale violence allegedly at the behest of Azhagiri following an opinion poll about the successor of Karunanidhi. The office of Tamil daily "Dinakaran" owned by the Sun TV network was attacked and three men were killed.

The incident led to the ouster of former Union Minister for IT and Telecom Dayanidhi Maran, whose family owns the newspaper. The Marans though are grand nephew of Karunanidhi fell out of his favour.

The by poll was preceded by allegations of bribery and "goondaism" and the Election Commission had not only taken strong steps but had even contemplated of postponing the election.

However, following a visit by Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswamy to Madurai, the law and order situation improved and the commission decided to allow the by poll.

Police said in a minor incident an AIADMK leader suffered head injuries when some miscreants threw stones at him while he was entering a polling booth.

Top

 

Antony rules out troop cut in J-K
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Expressing concern about continuing infiltration across the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir, union defence minister A. K. Antony asserted yesterday that because of this there was no question of reducing troop levels in the state.

Infiltration had witnessed a sharp rise in April when 82 attempts were made to cross over

"The army is alert and always prepared to meet any eventuality," Antony observed on the sidelines of a Defence Accounts function here.

The minister's observation assume importance as it comes a day after army personnel in two separate incidents killed eight armed intruders trying to sneak acorss the LoC.

The defence minister maintained that ruling out of troop reduction is expected to raise the hackles of the PDP in J-K which has been demanding phased demilitarisation in the state. "Any decision on demilitarisation will be taken on the recommendations of the army," Antony said.

Infiltration had witnessed a sharp rise in April when 82 attempts were made to cross over which was three times the attempts made in the same month last year. About 64 attempts were made in May with nine intruders being killed. Overall, 41 militants were killed in J and K during this month with 38 being accounted for by the army. Till June 24, a total of 40 militants were been killed in J and K.

Top

 

French IT companies to recruit 40,000 Indians, says envoy
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
The new foreign minister of France, Bernard Kouchner, is expected to visit India in October. French ambassador Dominique Girard told The Tribune that the agenda for the visit has not been fixed.

It would be Kouchner’s maiden visit to India as foreign minister. His visit assumes significance in the context of improved economic relations between India and France.

The French ambassador says, “India’s export to France has been growing. The trends are very healthy. It is a very good relationship. Even investments are going on in full-speed. Everyday, there are more French investments here.

“BNP (Banque Nationlae de Paris) will be setting up a lease construction company -- an investment of $150 million. The big flagship of the new investment is the Renault-Mahindra plant in Chennai. Our IT industry has plans to recruit 40,000 people from India. They have already recruited 12,000 people from Kolkata and Mumbai.

“When I came here five years ago, we had a few exceptional situations where French companies were investing. Now, we have over 400 French companies. With increase in economic relations between France and India, more and more French speaking people are needed in India.”

Girard was introduced to Kochner’s deep sense of commitment to humanitarian causes in the seventies. He has vivid memories of the incident when Kouchner rented a boat to rescue Vietnamese people fleeing Vietnam after the Communist takeover. He brought back the refugees and sent them to France.

Thirty years is a long time to form an opinion about somebody and the ambassador is of the conviction that Kochner is really a man of substance. He is a co-founder of the Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders). He is a man with a great deal of political experience. He is someone whose popularity goes beyond politics.

Asked whether President Nocolas Sarkozy and Kochner would be able to function together given their different positions on Iraq and other issues, the ambassador said: “They are not robots. We are not living in a Stalinist country. When you accept to be a member of the government, you accept responsibility and discipline.” 

Top

 

Moily panel against SC’s direction on NSC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has rejected Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre to set up a national security commission (NSC) at the union-level for selection and placement of chiefs of the central police organisations (CPOs).

“There is no need for a NSC with a limited function of recommending panels for appointment of chiefs of the armed forces of the union,” the ARC, headed by Veerappa Moily, has said in its fifth report released here.

“The existing institutional mechanism of the oversight of the central police forces may continue to be discharged by the union home ministry,” Moily commission has said.

However, it said that there should be a separate mechanism for recommending the names for appointment as chief of each one of these forces, with the final authority vesting in the union government.

The Supreme Court had last year directed the Centre to set up NSC at the union-level to prepare a panel for being placed before the appropriate appointing authority, for selection and placement of chiefs of the CPOs, who should also be given a minimum tenure of two years.

The NSC would also review from time to time measures to upgrade the effectiveness of these forces, improve the service conditions of its personnel, ensure that there was proper coordination between them and that the forces were generally utilised for the purposes they were raised and make recommendations in that behalf, the Apex Court had said.

The court had also said that the union home minister could head the NSC, which should comprise heads of the CPOs and a couple of security experts as members with the union home secretary as its secretary.

The tasks assigned to the said commission were to recommend a panel of names for appointment of the chiefs of the CPOs and to ensure coordination between these forces and also to review measure to upgrade the effectiveness of these forces, the Apex Court had said.

Taking note of the Supreme Court direction, the Moily commission has said in its report that “the answer to the question of appointment of the chief of armed forces of the union does not lie in the creation of a NSC.

More so because, for dealing with all aspects of national security, there already exists the high powered National Security Council, headed by the Prime Minister, the commission said.

“The commission is of the view that the existing institutional mechanism of the oversight of the central police forces may continue to be discharged by the union home ministry,” it said.

On the selection of chiefs of CPOs, the Moily commission said, “The selection is done finally at the highest level of the Government of India through the established procedure of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments.”

Top

 

Uttarakhand Annual Plan
Opposition flays BJP for less allocation to core sectors
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, June 26
A day ahead of the Budget Session, Opposition parties have slammed the Uttarakhand’s annual fiscal plan 2007-08 approved by the Planning Commission on the recommendation of the state government as betrayal of people’s faith reposed in the BJP. The party has come under criticism because the allocation of funds for some critical sectors has faced drastic cuts.

The Planning Commission has approved an Rs 4,378-crore plan, the first-ever presented by the Khanduri government since coming to power. State Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Suryakant Dhasmana and Congress MP from Tehri and former vice-chairman of the state planning commission Vijay Bahuguna alleged dependence of Chief Minister BC Khanduri on the bureaucrats, who had prepared the plan while sitting in air-conditioned offices overlooking the ground reality.

As a result the funds sanctioned for several important sectors were comparatively less than in the past, they alleged. The glaring instance, Dhasmana pointed out, was the allocation for the irrigation sector, which faced a cut of Rs 183 crore.

This despite the fact that a large part of agricultural land lacked irrigation facilities. Similarly, Rs 147 crore allocated to the social welfare department was Rs 40 crore less than the last year. Moreover, increased allocation of just Rs 18 crore to the ailing health department of the state was another pointer to the ill-conceived plan. No government hospital in the state has MRI, CT scan or neuro-surgery facilities and around 70 per cent primary health centres in the state are without doctors, he added.

Bahuguna blamed the BJP-led state government for showing lack of vision in preparing the plan and its poor presentation before the commission.

In the larger interest of the state, the government could have utilised the experience of veteran Congress leader ND Tiwari, who had been union finance minister as well as chairman of the state planning board, in the plan preparation as it was during his tenure as the CM that the state’ annual plan increased from Rs 900 crore to Rs 4,000 crore, he added.

Ideally, the state government should have increased the size of Rs 4500-crore plan presented before the commission by at least by 10 per cent. Naturally, this plan size was not expected to secure more funds in the final approval. Compared to Rs 4000-crore plan approved last year, the increase of Rs 378 crore this time was insufficient in view of the state’s growing need for funds for various developmental projects, he added.

Top

 

Steel project is benami venture of Andhra CM: TDP
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 26
Barely two weeks after laying of the foundation stone, an ambitious private steel project in Andhra Pradesh has hit a roadblock with the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) alleging that it was a ‘benami’ venture of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy’s family. Brahmani Steels Limited, promoter of the integrated steel factory in Chief Minister’s native district of Kadapa, does not have the required financial strength to execute the project and is only serving as a “front for funneling the black money”, senior TDP leader M V Mysoora Reddy alleged at a press conference here today.

Quoting from official records and tax returns of the Brahmani Group, Reddy, a former Congress Minister and a bęte noire of Rajasekhar Reddy, said the company’s aggregate net worth value was only Rs 30 crore and wondered how it could mobilise Rs 20,000 crore required for the project, billed as the biggest in the country. Incidentally, the chairman and managing director of Brahmani Steels G Janardhan Reddy is a BJP MLC from Bellary in neighbouring Karnataka and is considered a close friend of the Chief Minister.

The businessman-turned-politician had recently created ripples in political circles when he leveled corruption charges against Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.

Pointing out how permissions were given for the project at an ‘unusual speed’, Reddy, who also hails from the faction-ridden Kadapa district, said the promoters had visited the project site on May 7, applied for registration of the steel firm on May 16, obtained the approval and incorporated the company the next day and signed the memorandum of understanding with the state government on May 21.

The Cabinet had, on June 6, given its nod for allotment of 10,670 acres of land at Jammalamadugu at the rate of Rs 18,500 per acre. Four days later, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for the plant.

The integrated steel factory is billed as the biggest in the country, with an installed capacity of 10 million tonnes per annum by 2017 and a potential to generate direct employment to 25,000 persons and indirect employment to two lakh persons in the area.

The first blast furnace is expected to be commissioned within the next 18 months. In the first phase, it will produce 2 million tones of steel per annum, which will be increased to 4 million tones at the end of the second phase.

Contending that no steel factory in the world was ever allotted 10,000 acres of land, the TDP leader demanded a thorough inquiry into the deal. “We will also raise the issue in the Parliament,” party MP R Chandrasekhar Reddy said.

The project had recently raised the hackles of the opposition parties and pro-Telangana leaders, who had alleged that the Chief Minister was showing undue favour to the promoters and planning to “divert Krishna waters for the project at the cost of the interests of Telangana region.”

Top

 

Toll-free drug helpline launched

New Delhi, June 26
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Meira Kumar, today launched a toll free national drug helpline on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Speaking on the occasion, Kumar said the Ministry of Social Justice is undertaking a national survey through National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) to gather authentic data on the nature and extent of the problem of drugs in India. Initially NSSO conduct pilot study in select districts across the country. This will be followed by National Household Survey.

The minister said the linkage of drug abuse with HIV and AIDS is a matter of serious concern. — TNS

Top

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |