SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Upgrade design, Antony asks shipyards
New Delhi, July 16
Defence minister A.K. Antony today came down heavily on Indian defence shipyards and said they should take immediate measures to upgrade or tie up with global majors. Addressing a meeting of parliament’s consultative committee attached to his ministry, the defence minister said, “I must also state that the design capabilities of Indian defence shipyards leave much to be desired.

Ulterior motive behind govt’s HIV figures, 
New Delhi, July 16
The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) has questioned lack of transparency in government’s inference about the dramatic reduction of 50 per cent in the number of HIV infected persons in the country. It has alleged that the motive behind this statistical jugglery is to escape declaring HIV/AIDS a national epidemic and enable pharmaceutical companies apply for patents for manufacturing expensive anti-retroviral drugs. 


EARLIER STORIES




Devotees pull the Rath of Lord Jagannath during the 130th annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad
Devotees pull the Rath of Lord Jagannath during the 130th annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad on Monday. — Reuters

AP to have high-speed rail corridors
Hyderabad, July 16
Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to introduce high-speed rail corridors connecting the state capital with major metros and important cities to reduce travel time and boost economic growth.

93 BC bodies form party in Andhra
Hyderabad, July 16
A conglomeration of persons from 93 Backward Castes (BCs) has announced the launch of "Mana Party" (Our Party) to fight for political power.

Indian, Lankan navies to cooperate 
Vaiko protests to PM

Chennai, July 16
India has fallen into a “trap laid by the racist Sri Lankan government by deciding to coordinate between the navies of the two countries,” said Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko. He was so alarmed by such a report that today he shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded the Centre did not “repeat the wrongdoings of 1987 by sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka”.

Child Rape
Let women handle cases: NHRC

New Delhi, July 16
The National Human Rights Commission has recommended prompt and accurate recording of cases of child rape.

UP House rocked by mass rape incident
Lucknow, July 16
The alleged mass rape of women in Dhanni Deeh village of Shrawasti on the Indo-Nepal border rocked the Vidhan Sabha for the second day today. The BSP ruled out mass rape and maintained that prompt action had already been taken.

Municipal Elections
Congress to hold rallies: Bhattal

New Delhi, July 16
Seeking to regain momentum in Punjab and put the party in a fighting mode ahead of the forthcoming municipal polls, the Punjab Congress has decided to go to the people with complaints of victimisation of its workers and pressure being exerted on the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda following their support to the party in the last Assembly elections.

Presidential Poll
UNPA’s decision to abstain unethical: NDA

New Delhi, July 16
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today petitioned the Election Commission (EC) to declare the the recently constituted United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) decision to abstain from presidential election unconstitutional.

OBC Reservations
Centre moves SC for vacation of stay

New Delhi, July 16
The Centre today moved a fresh application before the Supreme Court for vacating the stay on implementation of 27 per cent reservation for the OBC students in the central educational institutions even as the Delhi University and Symbiosis International Varsity, Pune, were restrained from implementing it.

Pratibha unlikely to declare assets
New Delhi, July 16
UPA-Left Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil is unlikely to emulate the example of NDA-backed candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and declare her assets.

BJP slams PM for statement on LoC
New Delhi, July 16
The BJP today came down on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for suggesting that Line of Control (LoC) be made the ‘line of peace’, saying he had no right to make such an offer which went against the spirit of a 1994 Parliamentary resolution.

Lalu’s rly catering policy challenged
New Delhi, July 16
The catering tender allotment policy drawn by railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav providing for 49.5 per cent reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and other categories was today challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds that there was no provision in the law for quota in awarding government contracts.

Goenka award for Sardesai
New Delhi, July 16
CNN-IBN’s editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai and senior journalist from The Indian Express Ritu Sarin today bagged media awards in broadcast and print categories, respectively.

Sankararaman murder case adjourned
Puducherry, July 16
A local court today adjourned the hearing in the Sankararaman murder case, in which Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi is the prime accused, to August 17.

JD (U) worker shot dead
Nawada, July 16
State working committee member of Janata Dal(U) and former mukhiya of Jamuara village Akhilesh Singh was shot dead by unidentified persons in Bihar’s Nawada district today, the police said.

TV channel’s office ransacked
Kolkata, July 16
In a planned attempt of vandalism, a group of CPM workers and supporters today raided a private television channel’s office, located at Salt Lake here, and attacked reporters and cameramen on duty.

Sohrabuddin fake encounter
‘Centre using case for electoral gains’

New Delhi, July 16 
The Gujarat government today charged the UPA government in the Supreme Court of using the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case for “electoral gains” while briefing a division Bench about filing of the chargesheet in trial court at Ahmedabad today.

Aussie govt harassing Haneef: wife
Bangalore, July 16
The wife of Dr Mohammed Haneef, who has been charged in Australia of having links to the United Kingdom terror attack, today accused the Australian authorities of “harassing” him and urged the External Affairs Ministry to intervene in the matter to secure his release.

India concerned over Haneef case
New Delhi, July 16
India today conveyed its displeasure and concern to Australia over Canberra acting tough in the Dr Mohammed Haneef case.

Masood is UNPA man for VP
New Delhi, July 16
The race for the vice-presidential election is hotting up with the newly formed UNPA today naming former union minister Rasheed Masood as its candidate amid indications that it will be a triangular fight for the August 10 poll.

Sex education must: Renuka
New Delhi, January 16
Women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury said today all those opposing sex education in the country were hypocrites.

India downplays Hasina’s arrest
New Delhi, July 16
India today downplayed the arrest of former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by the Bangladeshi authorities and stressed the need for implementation of the Bangladesh Election Commission’s roadmap for the next parliamentary elections to be held next year-end.

 

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Upgrade design, Antony asks shipyards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Defence minister A.K. Antony today came down heavily on Indian defence shipyards and said they should take immediate measures to upgrade or tie up with global majors.

Addressing a meeting of parliament’s consultative committee attached to his ministry, the defence minister said, “I must also state that the design capabilities of Indian defence shipyards leave much to be desired. One of the major challenges facing the shipyards is lack of design capabilities.”

“The shipyards and the Navy should take immediate measures to upgrade their design house or tie up with well-known global majors,” he said.

The defence minister also directed his ministry officials to explore the possibility of setting up an institution to cater to the design needs of the armed forces related to ships, submarines, aircraft and other equipment.

He informed the members that three shipyards, Mazagon Dock Limited, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd and Goa Shipyard Ltd, were Miniratna category I and had shown consistent profits during the past three years.

However, sighting delay in supplies from foreign vendors in defence equipment, he called for an aggressive approach towards indigenous defence production.

Advocating more cooperation between the public and private sector defence industry, Antony cautioned that this would not be done at the cost of defence PSUs.

Earlier, additional secretary, defence production, P.K. Rastogi gave a detailed power-point presentation about the three shipyards. 

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Ulterior motive behind govt’s HIV figures, 
allege NGOs
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) has questioned lack of transparency in government’s inference about the dramatic reduction of 50 per cent in the number of HIV infected persons in the country. It has alleged that the motive behind this statistical jugglery is to escape declaring HIV/AIDS a national epidemic and enable pharmaceutical companies apply for patents for manufacturing expensive anti-retroviral drugs. HLRN Founder Director Colin Gonsalves drew attention to the figure of 52 lakh people Living with HIV/AIDS in an affidavit filed by the government in the Supreme Court in a response to a petition filed by the Voluntary Health Association of Punjab.

Addressing mediapersons at the Indian Women's Press Corps here, he wondered how the government could go back on its own figure of 52 lakh persons living with HIV/AIDS as mentioned in an affidavit in the Apex Court only 90 days back.

Questioning the government’s reliance on National Family Health Survey data, Gonsalves pointed out that the NFHS survey is funded by the USAIDS and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who have a vested interest in the outcome of the survey and believe in a ‘pro-prevention, anti care and treatment' approach.

Gonsalves said contrary to the Health Minister's claim that experts from India and abroad were consulted in drawing inferences on the latest HIV/AIDS data, civil society groups and the Indian Network of Positive People (INP+) were not consulted. “Why this secrecy?” he asked.

Meena Seshu from ‘Sangram’, an organisation in Mahrashtra that crusades for the rights of sex workers, alleged, “I suspect pay offs in this numbers game to benefit drug companies. What is the agenda to bring down the number of People Living with HIV/AIDS?”

Rejecting the HIV prevalence rate handed down by the National AIDS Control Organisation recently, Dr Anjali Gopalan, Executive Directior, Naz Foundation (India) Trust said, “The government is halving the numbers of people Living with HIV/AIDS without any concrete evidence. They are quoting the National Family Health Survey.”

They said that 100,000 persons gave their consent for participating in the survey. “If you have had any kind of high risk behaviour, you are unlikely to give your consent for HIV testing. So the sample group is already self-selective,” Gopalan said. Gopalan further argued that anybody at the ground level knows that number of people living with HIV/AIDS accessing services, is on the rise.

Dr Bhagban Prakash, former member of the national planning team of the third phase of the National AIDS Control Programme said, “If you look at the HIV graph of our country from 1986, you find a rise in numbers every year.” At the time of the NACP II launch, the number was 22 lakh. Suddenly, in 2007, the number has come down drastically to half. That poses a big question about the methods that have been used.”

Dr Chinkolal Thangsing, Asia Pacific Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation suggested invoking the provisions of the Right to Information Act to find out how the government arrived at these numbers.

Mr Elango Ramachandran, President of INP+ said bringing down the number of People Living with HIV/AIDS by 50 per cent would have an impact on prevention programmes.

The discussion was followed by a release of a two volume publication of HRLN titled `HIV AIDS and the Law'.

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AP to have high-speed rail corridors
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 16
Andhra Pradesh Government is planning to introduce high-speed rail corridors connecting the state capital with major metros and important cities to reduce travel time and boost economic growth.

The elevated tracks, covering a length of over 3,000 Km, are proposed to be built to link Hyderabad with Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, apart from Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Machilipatnam in the state.

“We will approach the central government for early

clearance and also for financial assistance,” officials said adding that a detailed presentation would be made before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

during his proposed visit to the city on July 31.

To begin with, the 365 km long Hyderabad-Machilipatnam corridor would be taken up on the lines of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai high-speed line.

With this, the travel time between the state capital

and the port town would be reduced to just two hours from the current 6-7 hours. “This will give a major boost for export and import operators once the new international airport here becomes operational next year,” the officials said.

Besides, the high-speed line will trigger economic growth in Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Nalgonda, Mahboobnagar, Medak, Warangal, Guntur and Krishna districts.

Since the Railways have already taken up a high-speed rail corridor project between Delhi and Mumbai with financial support from Japan, the state government has proposed that a similar financial arrangement could be made for this project as well.

The high-speed trains, which run at a speed of 200 to 300 kmph, are widely in operation in countries like Japan, France, USA, Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Spain.

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93 BC bodies form party in Andhra
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 16
A conglomeration of persons from 93 Backward Castes (BCs) has announced the launch of "Mana Party" (Our Party) to fight for political power.

"Even after 60 years of independence, the backward classes have been denied political power. Our aim is to realise the dream of millions of BCs to control the levers of power," the president of the new party K. Gnaneswar said.

Gnaneswar, a former Telugu Desam Party leader, was instrumental in floating the United Forum of BCs comprising representatives of 93 caste groups.

He recently created a flutter in political circles when he got elected to the Legislative Council as an independent with the help of rebels from Telangana Rashtra Samithi, a feat that exposed him to the charge of using "money power".

The decision to launch a new party was taken at a meeting of delegates of the United Forum at the temple town of Tirupati yesterday. The representatives from all the 23 districts attended the meeting that unanimously elected Gnaneswar as the president.

"We have already obtained necessary permissions for floating the new party from the Central Election Commission," said Gnaneswar who has been authorised to constitute the state committee in consultation with the district units and prominent BC leaders.

The development comes in the backdrop of tentative efforts being made in some quarters to bring together backward classes on a single platform.

"None of the existing parties wants to hand over political power to BCs who constitute about 70 per

cent of the state's population. We are determined to change this equation," Gnaneswar said.

The meeting adopted a string of resolutions demanding 50 per cent reservation to BCs in jobs and educational institutions and removal of creamy layer system in reservations.

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Indian, Lankan navies to cooperate 
Vaiko protests to PM
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 16
India has fallen into a “trap laid by the racist Sri Lankan government by deciding to coordinate between the navies of the two countries,” said Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko. He was so alarmed by such a report that today he shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded the Centre did not “repeat the wrongdoings of 1987 by sending the IPKF to Sri Lanka”.

In a stingy letter, Vaiko wrote, “I am pained to point out that the Indian government has knowingly fallen into the conspiracy trap of the Sri Lankan government. I draw your kind attention to this matter of grave concern to the people of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils all over the world. It is terribly shocking that the navies of India and Sri Lanka have decided to coordinate their communication network, a decision taken at a high level meeting of naval officers of India and Sri Lanka on July 13, 2007, that also on board of Sri Lankan navy vessel”.

However, Naval Officer-in-Charge Tamil Nadu Commodore P.E. Vanhaltren told The Tribune, “There was no discussion about coordination with the Sri Lankan navy during the meeting. The issues of coordination and joint patrolling is pending with the ministry of defence and they will take the final decision.

“It was a routine meeting, which we have every six months and I raised the issue of shooting on Indian fishermen in the high seas,” he informed.

The high level meeting between the naval officers of India and Sri Lanka

took place on July 13 between Rameswaram and Point Calimere on board the SLN Sayura, a patrol ship of the Sri Lankan Navy. While India was represented by Commodore Vanhaltren, the Sri Lankan Northern Naval Command was led by Samaratunga.

Vaiko, known to be a champion of Sri Lankan Tamils and to “ideologically"” support the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) took exception to the meeting that reportedly discussed “to coordinate communication network” as he believes any such move will harm the interests of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.

He stated that any coordination with the Sri Lankan navy was “committing a bitter betrayal of Tamils and the racist Sri Lankan government was using the military weapons supplied to it by the Central government against the Tamils on its ongoing war against the LTTE”.

He wrote that such a decision was in fact a “treacherous camouflage to joint patrolling and joint operations to engage and assist the naval offensive of the Sri Lankan Navy,” and pointed out, “Tamils in Sri Lanka were being subjected to brutal genocide by the Sri Lankan government’s systematic diabolic plan to strangulate and decimate the Tamil race”.

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Child Rape
Let women handle cases: NHRC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The National Human Rights Commission has recommended prompt and accurate recording of cases of child rape.

Framing a set of guidelines for the speedy disposal of cases of child rape, the NHRC has said a complaint about child rape should be taken up preferably by a woman police officer not below the rank of a SI. The complaint should be recorded verbatim and could be either at the police station or the residence of the victim. The person recording the statement should be in civil dress.

The commission has further suggested that if the child victim is complaining the matter, the reporting officer should make him/her comfortable before recording the complaint and take assistance of a psychiatrist.

The investigating officer should ensure that the medical examination of a victim of sexual assault and the accused is done preferably within 24 hours in accordance with the Section 164 A of the CrPC. Soon after registering the case, the investigating team should visit the spot to secure whatever incriminating evidence is available. “Any tell-tale signs of resistance by the victim or the use of force by the accused should be photographed. The investigating officer shall secure the clothes of the victim as well as the clothes of the accused, if arrested, and send them within 10 days for forensic analysis to find out traces of semen and also obtain report about the matching of blood group and if possible DNA profiling,” the guidelines read.

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UP House rocked by mass rape incident
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 16
The alleged mass rape of women in Dhanni Deeh village of Shrawasti on the Indo-Nepal border rocked the Vidhan Sabha for the second day today. The BSP ruled out mass rape and maintained that prompt action had already been taken.

On the other hand Samajwadi party leaders demanded the resignation of a minister of state from the area holding him “morally responsible” for the incident while the BJP and Congress demanded the ordering of an immediate CBI or judicial probe.

Calling for the immediate resignation of the BSP MLA from Bhinga and state minister Daddu Mishra, SP leaders held that no impartial enquiry was possible while he remained in the government.

Former Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey who led a SP delegation to the village to probe the incident described it as abhorrent where women from the age of 10 years to 70 years were publicly humiliated by disrobing them, parading them naked in and around the village and raping some of them.

According to him such blatant violation of the law and its subsequent cover up was not possible if the culprits did not have the support of the local administration who depend on the protection of the political bosses.

Pandey said the police had not registered the complaint of the victims for two days and this was not a minor lapse but was crucial to the case as it had helped in destroying vital medical evidence which could have implicated the perpetrators of the crime.

Pandey wondered how the news of the ghastly incident that lasted four hours on the morning of July 10 did not reach the police station which was just 3 km away.

Earlier, raising slogans and describing the BSP government as ‘Muslim virodhi’, the Samajwadi party MLAs entered the well of the House as soon as the House assembled for the day’s business.

Amidst noisy scenes, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings several times while the parliamentary affairs minister said the state government had already dismissed the SO, suspended the CO and SP.

Despite the probe team’s report, confirming the mass rape, was shared in the House, parliamentary affairs minister Lalji Verma stuck to the version presented by the government that the medical report of the women did not confirm rape.

Speaker Sukhdev Rajbhar had requested the members to return to their seats and assured the agitated SP MLAs to take up the issue for debate as an adjournment motion after question hour.

Not satisfied, the leader of the Opposition Mulayam Singh Yadav demanded “positive action” from the government pointing out that the House was not a ‘debating society’ where members merely spoke while the government decided not to respond with any empathy.

Reminding the House of how he as Chief Minister had dismissed his minister Mehboob Ali when the media implicated him in a sting operation, Yadav wondered why the present minister was not resigning to restore the faith of the house.

Demanding a CBI or judicial probe into the incident BJP leader of the House Om Prakash Singh said it was “difficult to have faith in an administration” which was so lax that it did not register timely FIRs in both the cases of reported abduction of a minor girl and mass rape.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Devipatan division Ashok Kumar, conducting the enquiry into the incident, told TNS that six more women from Dhanni Deeh had confessed in front of him of being raped. They have been referred for medical examination.

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Municipal Elections
Congress to hold rallies: Bhattal
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Seeking to regain momentum in Punjab and put the party in a fighting mode ahead of the forthcoming municipal polls, the Punjab Congress has decided to go to the people with complaints of victimisation of its workers and pressure being exerted on the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda following their support to the party in the last Assembly elections.

The state Congress has decided to hold rallies in all constituencies of the state to “highlight grievances of people” and form a 21-member committee in each village to “help prevent atrocities”.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, apprised them of the political situation in the state.

Though Bhattal’s ostensible purpose of meeting the two leaders was to express gratitude for the decision on the Bathinda refinery and seek Centre’s support for pending projects concerning the state, she told them about the “vendatta” against party workers by the SAD-BJP government.

Talking to mediapersons, Bhattal, who is CLP leader, took exception to the reported remarks of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal about the need for the Centre to take an initiative in diffusing the row between the Sikhs and the dera since it related to more than one state. Bhattal said law and order was a state subject. “If Badal government is unable to ensure peace, it should pass a Cabinet resolution urging the Centre to intervene”.

Bhattal said 111 party workers had been “targeted in false cases” so far. “We have decided to hold rallies in all constituencies of the state to press upon the government to discharge its responsibilities. We will form a 21-member committee in every village to take up with the local administration any cases of ill-treatment,” she said.

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Presidential Poll
UNPA’s decision to abstain unethical: NDA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today petitioned the Election Commission (EC) to declare the the recently constituted United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) decision to abstain from presidential election unconstitutional.

Senior BJP leader L. K. Advani, who led an NDA delegation to the EC, told newspersons after meeting Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, that we believe that compulsive abstention has no place in presidential elections.

If it is allowed, it will deny representation to a large section of the electorate, which will directly be contrary to Parliamentary democracy and the principle of representation of citizens through elected members, he stated.

Advani said he had been told that the EC would discuss the NDA’s petition and come out with its response by tomorrow.

In its six-page memorandum, the NDA contested that the EC was required to clarify that MPs or MLAs were entitled to ignore decisions or directions from their parties to abstain in presidential elections.

The Election Commission of India may, therefore, consider passing appropriate order(s), under Article 324 of the Constitution restraining political parties from issuing any direction to their MPs/MLAs to abstain from voting in the forthcoming presidential elections, it said.

Any such direction, the NDA said, deserved to be ordered as unconstitutional.

NDA leaders also said no political party should be allowed to act against its MPs or MLAs for voting in violation of its abstention call.

The NDA delegation included BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, S. S. Ahluwalia and Sushma Swaraj, Digvijay Singh of the JD (U) and alliance convenor George Fernandes.

Advani, who spoke at length about the constitution of the presidential Electoral College, insisted that no party has the right to stop its lawmakers from voting in the election for the highest constitutional office of the country.

There cannot be a greater betrayal of the electorate than a wilful and deliberate refusal by an elected legislator to represent his constituents/voters in their right to elect the President of India through him. It is a failure by an elected representative to discharge his constitutional function in electing head of state, the NDA observed in its memorandum.

The opposition alliance, which has failed in its attempts to seek support for its candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat from the UNPA, did not name it formally in its memorandum.

The EC has earlier rejected Advani’s petition that presidential candidates should be asked to disclose their assets.

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OBC Reservations
Centre moves SC for vacation of stay
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16
The Centre today moved a fresh application before the Supreme Court for vacating the stay on implementation of 27 per cent reservation for the OBC students in the central educational institutions even as the Delhi University and Symbiosis International Varsity, Pune, were restrained from implementing it.

The Centre, armed with the May 7 apex court order in the Tamil Nadu reservation case, passed in consonance with its August 1994 directives to overcome the problem of 69 pc reservation in the sate, stated that such a relaxation was necessary to ensure that from this academic session, the OBC seats in IIMs, IITs and other institutions are filled up to achieve the goal of “social justice”.

A Bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan - before whom the Centre’s counsel made a special mention of the application - listed it for hearing tomorrow.

However, another Bench of Justices B N Agrawal and P P Naolekar stayed any move by the Delhi University and Symbiosis to implement 10 pc and 7 pc OBC quota, respectively, as advertised by them in their prospectus this year. The proposal was challenged by ‘Youth For Equality’, stating that it violated the SC stay order.

On May 17, the Court had referred a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions) Act, 2006 to a constitution Bench. The Centre’s fresh application is expected to be heard tomorrow by a three-judge Bench, headed by the Chief Justice, as that was only an interim application.

Earlier, a Division Bench had on March 29 stayed the implementation of the Act, and on April 23, rejected the Centre’s plea for vacation of the stay order.

The Centre made a fresh attempt to secure a favourable order for vacating the stay on the basis of the May 7 order in the case of ‘Voice’, a consumers’ body, pertaining to the 69 pc reservations in Tamil Nadu. In that order, the SC had directed the state to create more seats for general category students even when a batch of petitions against the state’s law permitting reservation beyond 50 pc limit were pending before it.

The Centre stated that the May 7 order for increasing the general category seats in Tamil Nadu was passed in consonance with the August 1994 directive for making more seats available for them in medical institutions because they were deprived of admissions despite high merit achieved in entrance exams.

The Centre’s argument was that if Tamil Nadu could be permitted to persist with 69 pc cent reservation till the validity of its law was decided, the same logic should apply to the OBC Reservation Act, permitting its implementation as interim measure till the constitution Bench decided its validity.

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Pratibha unlikely to declare assets
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
UPA-Left Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil is unlikely to emulate the example of NDA-backed candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and declare her assets.

Parliamentary affairs minister and Pratibha’s official representative Priyaranjan Dasmunsi hinted at this, saying Election Commission (EC) had clarified to him that the law did not require a Presidential candidate to declare his or her assets. The minister, who met Election Commission Navin Chawla in this regard today, said he was told that even if a Presidential nominee wanted to submit such an affidavit, it would not be accepted as it was not required.

The minister said the EC told the UPA that it had not received any such document from the NDA-backed nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat when he sought a copy of this document. He maintained that the document detailing Shekhawat’s assets released last week by his representatives could not be taken seriously as it was not signed or authenticated.

Dasmunsi said the EC also told him that rules did not provide for any penal action against MPs and MLAs who do not participate in the Presidential elections.

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BJP slams PM for statement on LoC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The BJP today came down on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for suggesting that Line of Control (LoC) be made the ‘line of peace’, saying he had no right to make such an offer which went against the spirit of a 1994 Parliamentary resolution.

Referring to the Prime Minister's statement about converting LoC into ‘line of peace’, BJP President Rajnath Singh said that it was against the spirit of Parliament resolution of 1994 which clearly says that whole of Kashmir, including parts under Pakistan’s occupation, belongs to India.

Addressing a party demonstration here, Rajnath said that he (the Prime Minister) has no right to make such a statement.

Rajnath alleged that by making such a statement, Manmohan was putting at stake the security of the nation for the sake of votes.

The BJP chief was speaking at a rally organised by the party’s minority cell to protest the UPA government’s policies towards the minorities.

On the issue of quota for Muslims, he said his party was not against reservation for the minority community but was only against reservation on the basis of religion which would trigger a dangerous trend in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, the party’s minority cell president Syed Shahnawaz Hussain alleged that by opposing re-election of President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the Congress has demonstrated its double standards towards the cause of minority welfare.

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Lalu’s rly catering policy challenged
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16
The catering tender allotment policy drawn by railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav providing for 49.5 per cent reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs and other categories was today challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds that there was no provision in the law for quota in awarding government contracts.

The railway catering policy, 2005 was challenged in a special leave petition by the Railways Catering Contractors Association and the Indian Railways after their petitions were rejected by the Bombay High Court.

A Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and P.P. Naolekar issued notices to the Centre and the Railways seeking their replies.

The court, however, permitted the existing contractors, who were members of the two associations, to continue with their catering ventures as per the high court order.

Though the high court had rejected the contractors’ petitions, but as an interim measure, it had allowed them to continue with the existing contracts.

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Goenka award for Sardesai

New Delhi, July 16
CNN-IBN’s editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai and senior journalist from The Indian Express Ritu Sarin today bagged media awards in broadcast and print categories, respectively.

They received the honour at a function during which President APJ Abdul Kalam gave away the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards 2006-07.

Three journalists each from CNN-IBN and NDTV won awards while four Indian Express scribes were awarded in different categories. Dionne Bunsha from Frontline collected two awards and D S Vasant from Loksatta and Sadhna Mohan from Resource Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS received awards for reporting on HIV/AIDS in Marathi and English, respectively. Amelia Gentleman from International Herald Tribune got the Foreign Correspondent covering India award. — UNI

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Sankararaman murder case adjourned

Puducherry, July 16
A local court today adjourned the hearing in the Sankararaman murder case, in which Kanchi Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi is the prime accused, to August 17.

Principal District Sessions Judge D Krishnaraja passed the order adjourning the case when it camp up for hearing today in view of the pendency of a petition in Supreme Court challenging the continuation of Tamil Nadu Public Prosecutor even after the case was transferred here. — PTI 

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JD (U) worker shot dead

Nawada, July 16
State working committee member of Janata Dal(U) and former mukhiya of Jamuara village Akhilesh Singh was shot dead by unidentified persons in Bihar’s Nawada district today, the police said.

Singh was shot dead on Nawada-Gaya Road near Police Line while he was on way back home from Nawada town, police said. — PTI

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TV channel’s office ransacked
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 16
In a planned attempt of vandalism, a group of CPM workers and supporters today raided a private television channel’s office, located at Salt Lake here, and attacked reporters and cameramen on duty.

The office was ransacked and the cameras and other equipment were also damaged. Three mediapersons, Sayandeb Banerjee, Subhayan

Bandopadhyya and cameraman Anirudha Sadhu, were severely beaten up and they have been admitted to a nursing home.

According to sources, several persons, carrying CPM and CITU flags and festoons, today reached the TV channel’s office and shouted slogans against the

channel for airing content which belittled Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s and the CPM’s stand on the Singur and Nandigram issues.

The protesters also alleged that the TV channel was acting as “an agent and mouthpiece” of Mamata Banerjee.

Mamata Banerjee and Congress (l) leader Somen Mitra strongly criticised the CPM for the attack.

The Chief Minister also condemned the attack on the TV channel, adding that the police had already started an investigation into the incident.

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Sohrabuddin fake encounter
‘Centre using case for electoral gains’
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16 
The Gujarat government today charged the UPA government in the Supreme Court of using the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case for “electoral gains” while briefing a division Bench about filing of the chargesheet in trial court at Ahmedabad today.

While strongly resisting an order of the apex court for providing the copy of the chargesheet to additional solicitor general (ASG) Gopal Subramaniam, appointed as amicus curiae in the case, Gujarat’s counsel K.T.S. Tulsi said, “I can assure that the chargesheet is not weak. Unfortunately, the Union government wants to make it an issue for electoral gains in the election due in the state later this year”.

However, a Bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and P.K. Balasubramanyan directed Tulsi to provide the copy of the chargesheet to Subramaniam by July 20 while listing the matter for further hearing on July 23.

Subramaniam though appeared in the case as amicus curiea, attorney general Milon Banerjee was present in the court to observe the proceeding on behalf of the Centre even though it was not a party to a petition moved by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin. He had sought proper investigation into the killing of Sohrabuddin, an alleged extortionist and his wife Kausarbi in a “fake encounter” in November 2005.

The court had earlier rejected a Centre’s plea for a CBI probe and entrusted the investigation to Gujarat Police’s special CID cell, headed by senior IPS officer Geeta Johri, who had since filed five action taken reports.

Subramaniam alleged that the way investigations were conducted by the state police, it virtually had given a “gateway” of escape to three top cops accused in the case, including controversial DIG D.G. Vanzara.

This, he alleged, was evident from the fact that another IPS officer N.K. Ameen, who was named by a constable for his “involvement” in the conspiracy to eliminate Kasaurbi had been “let off” by the police and not arrested.

This he claimed to have been done at the behest of an additional DGP, who had “superimposed” himself in the investigation despite Johri given full freedom by the apex court to complete the inquiry.

But Tulsi strongly refuted the charge stating that without knowing the contents of the chargesheet such allegations gave an impression that the sole purpose of it was to use the case for “electoral gains” by the ruling UPA alliance at the Centre.

He said the police wanted to “keep secret” names of certain crucial witnesses out a list of 179 submitted to the trial court for fear of threat to their lives. “If their identity is revealed, the case might suffer adversely in the trial court as any case against the police officers is difficult to prove”. 

He said if the chargesheet in a case was “torn to pieces” like this, then nothing would be left for the trial court, which had the sole jurisdiction to evaluate it.

In the end, Tulsi, however, agreed to supply the chargesheet copy on the condition that the witnesses’ name should not be made public and the Centre was not allowed to make it an election issue.

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Aussie govt harassing Haneef: wife
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 16
The wife of Dr Mohammed Haneef, who has been charged in Australia of having links to the United Kingdom terror attack, today accused the Australian authorities of “harassing” him and urged the External Affairs Ministry to intervene in the matter to secure his release.

Haneef’s wife Firdous was reacting to today’s developments in Australia. Even though a Brisbane court ordered her husband’s release on bail, the country’s immigration minister used a section of the Migration Act to cancel his visa and send him to an immigration detention centre.

Firdous said the Australian government’s action was “unfair” and added that this amounted to “harassing her husband”. She went on to say that she did not know why the Australian authorities were doing this when they did not have any proof of any wrongdoing against her husband.

Haneef’s wife said if at all the Australian government wanted to cancel his visa they should have done that when they charged him on Friday in connection with the terror attacks in the United Kingdom.

“Why did they wait till today to take this action when a court also ruled in favour of my husband,” she said, adding that she suspected the authorities wanted to keep him in Australia.

Firdous again reiterated that her husband was innocent and that his only ‘mistake’ was that he handed over his SIM card to his cousin Dr Sabeel Ahmed when leaving the UK for Australia.

She appealed to the External Affairs Ministry to intervene and secure Haneef’s release as all charges against him were “baseless” even while alleging that there could be a “political” motive in detaining Haneef in Australia.

Haneef’s family is, meanwhile, in the process of sending a relative to Australia to give legal, financial as well as emotional support to him. The family apparently now understands that Haneef may have to remain in detention for some time and it faces a long legal battle to secure his release.

The family has not been able to contact Haneef after the recent setback and is in the process of talking to his lawyer to chart out the next course of action.

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India concerned over Haneef case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
India today conveyed its displeasure and concern to Australia over Canberra acting tough in the Dr Mohammed Haneef case.

The Australian High Commissioner here was summoned to the Foreign Office and bluntly told that New Delhi was not happy at the Australian government’s revocation of Haneef’s visa to continue his detention after an Australian court had ordered his release on bail earlier in the day.

The Australian envoy was also apprised of New Delhi’s “concern” in the Haneef episode. India demanded that Dr Mohammed Haneef should be treated fairly and justly under Australian law.

It appears that New Delhi has taken a tough stand on the Haneef issue, unlike the Kafeel and Sabeel brothers arrested in the UK on charges of failed terror plot there. Initially, India had extended all possible cooperation to Australia in the Haneef case. The Australian police authorities have requested for more assistance in this case and the Ministry of External Affairs’ take on this is that the request will be considered “in accordance with relevant provisions of the Indian Government.”

It will have to be seen whether the matter snowballs or Canberra takes the hint and release Haneef.

The Indian reaction comes in the wake of an Australian Magistrate granting bail to Haneef bail earlier today and the Australian Minister for Immigration Affairs announcing the revocation of Haneef’s visa quickly thereafter. Though the Australian Government has revoked Haneef’s visa, it has granted him a visa to stay.

The Australian minister acted on the grounds of failure in character test on account of association with someone else or with a group or organisation whom the Immigration Minister reasonably suspects has been or is involved in criminal conduct.

Dr Mohammed Haneef, an Indian citizen, was working as a doctor in the Gold Coast Hospital, Queensland. He was detained on the night of July 2 on suspicion of “assisting a terrorist organisation”. Thirteen days later Haneef was charged with “intentionally providing SIM card to a terrorist organisation under the relevant section of the Australian Criminal Code”.

Indian High Commission in Canberra gained consular access to Haneef and found him in good health, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said today. The High Commission is also assisting the family in arranging legal assistance. 

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Masood is UNPA man for VP

New Delhi, July 16
The race for the vice-presidential election is hotting up with the newly formed UNPA today naming former union minister Rasheed Masood as its candidate amid indications that it will be a triangular fight for the August 10 poll.

The 59-year-old Masood, a five-time MP from Saharanpur in western Uttar Pradesh and senior leader of the Samajwadi Party, was made the nominee of the alliance, known as the Third Front, two days after it decided to throw its hat in the ring.

The announcement, made by SP leader Amar Singh, is a sort of setback to the Left parties which were toying with the idea of fielding a candidate with the widest acceptable choice, including in the UPA and in the UNPA.

Masood's was a unanimous choice in the UNPA, Singh said, adding the Left parties had been informed of the decision.

The eight-party regional grouping would neither seek the support of the UPA nor the NDA, he said.

Two leading lights of the UNPA - AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu - have already made it clear that the front is in the vice-presidential poll to register its identity and is well aware that their candidate cannot win.

CPM leader Prakash Karat has already started consultations with UPA constituents and Left parties for evolving a consensus on a combined UPA-Left candidate for the second highest constitutional post.

With Karat suggesting that the next vice-president should be a non-political person, names of Jamia Millia vice-chancellor Mushirul Hasan and noted historian Irfan Habib are doing the rounds. — PTI 

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Sex education must: Renuka
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
Women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury said today all those opposing sex education in the country were hypocrites.

Joining the ongoing sex education debate at the launch of the National Women Forum of the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) here today, Renuka said, “We have a population of one billion and we don’t want to talk about sex. We have to be vocal on such issues. If we don’t, it will affect the generations to come.”

K. Sujatha Rao, director general of the National AIDS Control Organisation, said NACO was ready to review its module without compromising on the message. “There is no harm about taking a second opinion about our module but we want the message to be loud and clear for the senior secondary students to understand. There should be no shadow boxing about HIV/AIDS.

We plan to set up a task force to review the module designed by NACO and the ministry of human resource development. It will comprise academics, officers of the HRD ministry, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences and women activists. They will report the findings in three months.”

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India downplays Hasina’s arrest

New Delhi, July 16
India today downplayed the arrest of former Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by the Bangladeshi authorities and stressed the need for implementation of the Bangladesh Election Commission’s roadmap for the next parliamentary elections to be held next year-end.

Ministry of external affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna, when asked for a reaction on Hasina’s arrest, said: “As a close and friendly neighbour, India will like to see a peaceful, stable and liberal democratic Bangladesh. India notes the roadmap announced by the Bangladesh Election Commission with regard to the next parliamentary elections to be held between October and December 2008. We hope that this roadmap includes reconstitution of the Election Commission, electoral reforms, preparation of electoral rolls and delimitation of constituencies and leads to early restoration of democracy in Bangladesh. It is our expectation that the people of Bangladesh will be able to participate in a process leading up to a free, fair, credible and democratic election.”

The spokesman added, “We are closely monitoring the internal developments in Bangladesh.”

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