SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

NDA seeks debate, JPC; government says no
New Delhi, September 6
The NDA, after stalling parliament on its demand for a joint parliamentary committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal for the past two days, today decided to press for a debate on the issue in the two houses under voting provisions.

N-panel findings binding: CPI
New Delhi, September 6
Taking strong exception to the reported statement of science and technology minister Kapil Sibal, the CPI today contended that the findings of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal are binding on the government.

Blast suspect’s house raided
Chennai, September 6
The police raided the house of a Bangladeshi woman, arrested in connection with the twin blasts in Hyderabad, at Vellore, 120 kms from here, and interrogated students of a college where she was studying.

Sting operation: Girl posing as student held
New Delhi, September 6
In a twist in the case of a teacher allegedly forcing teenaged girls into prostitution, the police on Thursday arrested the girl who appeared in the TV sting operation as a student.






EARLIER STORIES




Left MPs raise slogans against the UPA government at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday to protest against the joint naval exercises with the US Navy in the Bay of Bengal.
Left MPs raise slogans against the UPA government at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday to protest against the joint naval exercises with the US Navy in the Bay of Bengal. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

India, UK commandos’ exercises in Ladakh
New Delhi, September 6
Special forces from India and the United Kingdom will carry out high-altitude battle manoeuvres involving hits on terrorist mountain hideouts in joint exercises spread over 12 days in the frontier region of Ladakh, bordering China, from the month-end.

Serial killer gunned down
Bangalore, September 6
Praveen Shintre, an alleged serial killer, was shot dead by the police at his residence in Belgaum hours after his arrest last night.

MEA to have energy security division
New Delhi, September 6
The government has decided to set up an energy security division in the ministry of external affairs.

Development a priority for JK parties
New Delhi, September 6
Even as groups and political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have differences over issues of autonomy and Article 370, there is consensus among them on the need for measures to boost regional development.

15 die in landslides
Dehra Dun, September 6
Landslides caused by cloudburst claimed 15 lives in Pithoragarh district as heavy rains lashed higher reaches of Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

Woman, child perish
Kolkata, September 6
One of a series of landslides in the famous Lebong race course area of Darjeeling claimed the lives two persons - a woman and her baby - and damaged a large number of cottages in the vicinity early today.

Now Delhi is just 4 hrs away
Lucknow, September 6
It may soon be a possibility to drive down to Delhi, attend a meeting and be back in the state capital by evening.

Mamata quits NDA
Kolkata, September 6
Trinamool supremo, Mamata Banerjee today said that she was no longer with the NDA and the TMC was not a partner of the NDA anymore.

Contempt case against Justice Sodhi
Lucknow, September 6
A criminal contempt petition filed against former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice S.S. Sodhi would come up for hearing on Monday before a bench presided over by Justice K.S. Rakhra.

Goodbye to MiG fleet at Tezpur
Guwahati, September 6
The MiG 21 aircraft will no longer tear through the skies of North Assam as the IAF base at Tezpur today bade adieu to the fleet of the fighter aircraft in a warm ceremony attended by the commander-in-chief of the Eastern Air Command, Air Marshall P.K. Borbora, besides other senior officials.

Congress in spot over wheat import
New Delhi, September 6
The Congress was today put in a spot over the government's decision to import wheat at a price higher than the MSP, with the party laying the responsibility of a reply mainly at the door of agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

JD(U) threatens to burn imported wheat
New Delhi, September 6
Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today threatened to burn imported wheat on arrival at the Mundra port located in Kutch, Gujarat, to prevent its entry into the Indian market.

Keep girls on campus, prevent eve-teasing
Patna, September 6
The propagators of "good governance" in Bihar have a unique solution to the menace of eve-teasing.

14 ULFA ultras give up arms
Guwahati, September 6
What construed to be a blow for the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), 14 of its hardcore cadres today surrendered before the police along with arms and ammunition.

Now pay extra tax for every additional car
Hyderabad, September 6
In a bid to check vehicular pollution and traffic congestion, the Andhra Pradesh government is mulling over imposition of additional tax for those who own more than one personal car.

IAA award for Kasturirangan
Bangalore, September 6
Former ISRO chairman and National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Director Dr K. Kasturirangan has been awarded the Theodore Von Karman Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), Paris, for 2007.

Rs 5,000-cr scholarships for SCs
New Delhi, September 6
The government tonight approved a Rs 5,000 crore scholarship programme to promote education among Scheduled Caste students and also announced an ambitious health insurance cover for unorganised sector workers.

Monica acquitted in passport case
Bhopal, September 6
A sessions court here today upheld the lower court's decision, acquitting Monica Bedi in a fake passport case.

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NDA seeks debate, JPC; government says no
Tribune News Service/PTI

New Delhi, September 6
The NDA, after stalling parliament on its demand for a joint parliamentary committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal for the past two days, today decided to press for a debate on the issue in the two houses under voting provisions.

While the NDA and the BJP insisted on a debate under voting provisions, the government and the Left rejected the demand for a JPC on the issue and a debate under rule 184 in the Lok Sabha and under 168 in the Rajya Sabha. In the backdrop of repeated adjournments in the two houses, parliament is likely to be adjourned sine die on Monday, a senior Minister said.

The government today hit back at the BJP and other parties demanding a JPC into the deal, telling them bluntly that the UPA was in power not because of their support but because of the Left backing.

“Government’s continuance is dependent on their (Left) support and not on the support of NDA. My job is to carry conviction with my supporters and not opponents,” external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters, dismissing opposition demands for a JPC.

A day after BJP leader L.K. Advani alleged that the arrangement of the UPA-Left committee was aimed at saving the government, Mukherjee said: “Of course. It is my job to save the government. It is my additional responsibility to carry my supporters so that the government continues.” “We have entered into a coalition. Till the last moment, I shall try to see that the government survives,” he said, adding that whatever has to be told to the opposition on the issue the government would do so in parliament.

Earlier, in separate briefings after the meetings of the BJP and the NDA, their spokespersons V.K. Malhotra and Sushma Swaraj said the NDA regretted the government’s stand of avoiding a structured debate in parliament on the issue.

The government wanted the opposition to engage in talks on a matter that concerned national interest and security, they pointed out and added “if there is no discussion under rule 184 in the Lok Sabha and under 168 in the Rajya Sabha, there will be no proceedings in the houses”.

On the other hand, Swaraj expressed hope that the NDA would force the government to constitute a JPC.

“We will get it done,” she said recalling that JPCs were finally set up on the Bofors deal and the security scam after initial refusal by the then governments.

The NDA leaders would meet tomorrow again to chalk out their strategy, she said.

Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani met NDA MPs earlier in the day after the BJP had decided to press for demands for a JPC and voting in parliament on the nuclear deal.

“Nothing is categorical in parliament. It’s a war of nerves,” Swaraj remarked when asked about the government’s rejection of the NDA’s call. “We do not consider (the government’s response) to be categorical.”

“What they have set up is a family welfare committee while we want a national welfare committee on the deal,” Swaraj said, referring to the constitution of a UPA-Left panel to examine the Communists’ objections to the 123 Agreement.

Accusing the government of insulting the opposition by creating a panel involving the Congress and its Left supporters alone, Swaraj said it was a contempt of parliament and insult to the opposition.

She insisted that the NDA had been neglected altogether in the move to constitute the panel over the objections of the Left supporters of the government.

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N-panel findings binding: CPI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
Taking strong exception to the reported statement of science and technology minister Kapil Sibal, the CPI today contended that the findings of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal are binding on the government.

“If it (the UPA-Left committee) is not binding then what is the meeting for. To have a cup of tea?” CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said when asked about Sibal’s comments in an interview yesterday that the committee will take into account the concerns of the Left parties but is not bound to accept the same.

Even as Sibal, who is also a member of the joint committee, sought to clarify that the matter would be determined once the Left concerns are addressed, the CPI leader said: “It is an over smart statement from a first-time parliamentarian (read Sibal) does not know the chemistry of coalition politics.”

“The findings will definitely have a binding on the UPA, because it is a committee of the UPA-Left. How the UPA is going to respond, we don’t know,” senior CPI leader D. Raja, who was also present at the press conference, said.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the first meeting of the UPA-Left committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal is likely to take place before September 14 when top atomic scientist Anil Kakodkar travels to Vienna to attend an IAEA meet.

Sources said the Left-UPA leaders are keen on holding two meetings before Kakodkar, chairman, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), goes to Vienna. The Left and UPA leaders are thus trying to schedule the meeting between September 10 and September 14. 

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Blast suspect’s house raided
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 6
The police raided the house of a Bangladeshi woman, arrested in connection with the twin blasts in Hyderabad, at Vellore, 120 kms from here, and interrogated students of a college where she was studying.

Shahi Rafsanjani, the Bangaldeshi woman was a student of Auxillium College at Katpadi, on the outskirts of Vellore. She was staying at a rented house near Gandhi Road mosque in Vellore with some of her relatives.

Her brother Rizwan Gazhi was first arrested in Bangalore in connection with the explosions in Hyderabad. Gazhi is said to be the man who allegedly planted the bombs at Lumbini Park and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.

Nine people were killed in the May 18 blasts in Mecca Masjid and 44 in the August 25 blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat in Hyderabad.

Gazhi had rented a house in Kishan Bagh area in the old city of Hyderabad. His sister Shahi, reached Hyderabad the day after the blast and during a raid, was taken into custody for illegally staying in violation of the Foreigners and Passport Acts.

Investigation revealed that she was referred to Auxillium College by a professor of a different local college whom she knew.

Fresh narco tests

Bangalore: The two suspects in the twin blasts in Hyderabad on August 25 will be subjected to narco-analysis tests again next week by the Forensic Science Laboratory here, FSL sources said today.

“Imran Khan and Kaleem alias Rafiq, who underwent narco tests here on Monday and Wednesday, will be put to narco-analysis again as the procedure is incomplete and there is still a lot of information which needs to be elicited from the duo,” the sources said on condition of anonymity. — PTI

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Sting operation: Girl posing as student held

New Delhi, September 6
In a twist in the case of a teacher allegedly forcing teenaged girls into prostitution, the police on Thursday arrested the girl who appeared in the TV sting operation as a student.

“She is not a student,” Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.

The girl had figured in the sting operation as a student who claimed that she had been forced into prostitution by Uma Khurana, a teacher in New Delhi. — PTI

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India, UK commandos’ exercises in Ladakh

New Delhi, September 6
Special forces from India and the United Kingdom will carry out high-altitude battle manoeuvres involving hits on terrorist mountain hideouts in joint exercises spread over 12 days in the frontier region of Ladakh, bordering China, from the month-end.

One hundred and fifty British Marine Commandos and an equal number of men from India's elite special forces will be in action in "long endurance and survivability" manoeuvres in snow-covered Himalayan heights, Army officials said here today.

The exercises would involve classic commando's actions like surprise hit-and-run raid by self-contained small bands of troops operating at extreme heights of more than 3,500 metres.

In a reflection of their growing cooperation in the war against terror, the thrust of the exercises would be to fine tune tactics against terrorists, officials said.

It is on British request that Ladakh region has been picked up for joint manoeuvres as coincidently the terrain has an uncanny resemblance to rugged Afghan highlands.

The exercise will be only the second such joint manoeuvre held in the frontier region. Indian and US special forces held mountain-warfare exercises in the same region last year, raising eyebrows in Beijing.

Most of the 150 strong Royal Marines, who include 10 officers taking part in the exercise, have been drawn from contingents that have had an operational stint in Afghanistan. — PTI

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Serial killer gunned down

Bangalore, September 6
Praveen Shintre, an alleged serial killer, was shot dead by the police at his residence in Belgaum hours after his arrest last night.

Shintre, wanted in 38 criminal cases, including several murders and two rapes, was arrested by a special police team in Udupi and was brought to Belgaum, the police said today.

When the accused was taken to his rented accommodation last night, he took out a gun and opened fire at the accompanying police personnel. — PTI

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MEA to have energy security division
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
The government has decided to set up an energy security division in the ministry of external affairs.

India is also exploring opportunities for cooperation with other countries in new areas of energy such as the international thermonuclear experimental reactor project, FutureGen Clean Coal Initiative and Integrated Ocean Development Programme for gas hydrates, minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma said in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

The main objectives of the division are: to serve as a nodal point in the MEA for energy security. The unit would sensitise and assist Indian missions abroad in identifying possible opportunities for Indian companies; maintain coordination with the ministries concerned and support their international engagement through appropriate diplomatic interventions; support efforts of Indian corporate entities in acquiring energy assets overseas; promote the transfer of emerging energy technologies to India; and to interface with leading energy security think tanks and experts in India and abroad on energy-related issues.

The issue of energy cooperation has been taken up with countries like China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Central Asian countries, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and Mauritius.

The MEA has facilitated the entry of Indian energy companies in the markets of Latin America for acquisition of oil fields and sourcing of crude oil from Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador. An agreement has been signed with Brazil for cooperation in fuel ethanol and bio-fuel and with Thailand for cooperation in the field of renewable energy.

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Development a priority for JK parties
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
Even as groups and political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have differences over issues of autonomy and Article 370, there is consensus among them on the need for measures to boost regional development.

Several suggestions have been made to the working group on Centre-state relations on the ways to boost development, including formation of regional councils and hill councils and giving statutory status to the district development boards. The working group, which is among the five such groups appointed by the Prime Minister, held its fourth meeting in the capital earlier this week.

Sources said that the argument being given in favour of regional councils was that it would help end complaints of discrimination and enable elected representatives to have greater say in development programmes at the local level. While there is some commonality among the political parties on the concept of regional councils, there are differences on the definition of the regions with a few leaders preferring the state to have six regional councils instead of one each for Jammu and Kashmir.

No details have yet been formulated about the powers of such councils and its relationship with the legislature. Demand for forming hill development councils has also been raised.

The National Conference is in favour of giving statutory recognition to the district development boards. The party says that the main issue is imbalance within the regions. With the number of districts in the state having gone up, the NC says that empowering district development boards would be a sure step towards greater devolution of power. It says giving statutory recognition to the development boards would make it difficult to overrule their decisions.

Though the political parties spoke about the need of strengthening democracy, panchayati raj institutions and communal harmony, sources said it would be difficult to have a complete consensus in the final report due to differing position on issues such as Article 370 and state autonomy. They said that the group is likely to discuss a draft report before the final recommendations were made.

The group, headed by Justice (retd) Sagheer Ahmed, is looking at some widely-debated constitutional issues related to the state. Sources said apart from getting views of political parties and leaders representing various ethnic groups in Jammu and Kashmir, the chairman has also consulted some eminent jurists.

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15 die in landslides
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, September 6
Landslides caused by cloudburst claimed 15 lives in Pithoragarh district as heavy rains lashed higher reaches of Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand.

According to officials of the Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre of the state, heavy flow of rainwater following cloudburst in early hours today took in its spate Baram, Maitli and Syaldhar villages in Dharchula tehsil of the district.

Three houses were washed away by the gushing water, which killed 15 persons and injured five others. The injured were rescued from under the debris. It is feared that death toll may increase. Beside loss of life, more than 30 cattle heads have also perished.

Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri directed the district officials to supervise rescue operations.

A medical team was also sent to the area. The Chief Minister also asked the officials to give him a detailed account of the damage done to the life and property due to natural calamity and announced relief for the affected families.

Four kids electrocuted in Bazpur

Four children were electrocuted in two separate incidents in Bazpur town of Udham Singh Nagar district.

According to officials, three children were killed and three others were injured when they touched high tension wire while playing hide and seek on the roof of an under construction building near Government Girls Inter College in Bazpur town. The victims have been identified as Mithun, Bhanu and Mukul.

Their playmates Shobhit Verma, Chintu and Vinit sustained burn injuries. The injured were admitted to a local hospital.

In another incident, Gopal Singh, a student of class IV, was electrocuted when he came in contact with a live electric wire that was lying broken at his home.

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Woman, child perish

Kolkata, September 6
One of a series of landslides in the famous Lebong race course area of Darjeeling claimed the lives two persons - a woman and her baby - and damaged a large number of cottages in the vicinity early today.

According to reports reaching the state government at Writers Buildings, major landslides took place at four places in the Lebong race course area between 2 am and 4 am last night. While two persons were buried as they slept, others had a narrow escape.

Incessant rain in the hills for the past few days has paralysed normal life, traffic and transport movement in area.

Toy train services have been affected by the landslides at certain places near the track. The snapping of link with the main water reservoir at Sinchon Lake has affected drinking water supply to the hill town.

The road traffic between Siliguri and the Mall at Darjeeling is partially in operation. Several tourists, many of them foreigners, are stranded in the town due to the landslides.

Supply of food as well well other consumers goods to the town has also been affected. — TNS

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Now Delhi is just 4 hrs away
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 6
It may soon be a possibility to drive down to Delhi, attend a meeting and be back in the state capital by evening.

Chief Minister Mayawati yesterday announced the plan for the construction of a 8-lane 1000 km-long ultra modern expressway from Ballia in eastern UP to Noida costing approximately Rs 40,000 crore. It would reduce travel time between Lucknow and Delhi to just four hours.

Having the potential of wiping out regional imbalances and promoting rapid development of the most neglected regions of Purvanchal and Bundelkhand, the expressway is basically an irrigation project and would be built by reinforcing and widening the existing eastern embankment of the Ganga to about a 100 metres.

Spelling out the benefits of the project, Mayawati said this multi-purpose and ambitious project is aimed to benefit the hinterland entrepreneurs, traders, farmers, students and even common citizens of the rural areas who till now have been deprived of the fruits of development available in bigger cities.

The expressway would originate from Ballia and pass through Varanasi, Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Unnao, Shahjahanpur, Badaun, Bulandshahr and link Noida. It will join the eastern region of the state with the western parts.

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Mamata quits NDA
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, September 6
Trinamool supremo, Mamata Banerjee today said that she was no longer with the NDA and the TMC was not a partner of the NDA anymore.

She said the TMC was now an independent organisation and it would prefer to go it alone.

Mamata was addressing a gathering organised by various Muslim organisations and the Madrassa Association.

She asked all Muslim organisations to fight against the CPI(M), the BJP and the Congress since these were against the interests of the minorities.

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Contempt case against Justice Sodhi

Lucknow, September 6
A criminal contempt petition filed against former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Justice S.S. Sodhi would come up for hearing on Monday before a bench presided over by Justice K.S. Rakhra.

The petition, filed by senior lawyer Ravi Kiran Jain, charges the former Chief Justice of attributing motives to judges beyond permissible limit of fair criticism. The allegation refers to certain remarks allegedly made by Justice Sodhi in his book ‘Other Side of Justice’ published by Hay House India that, according to the petitioner, ridiculed the sanctity of high court judges.

The petitioner has also annexed a letter written by former Justice Ram Bhushan Mehrotra to Justice Sodhi after the publication of the book refuting “the false and malicious allegations he has made against me”. Justice Mehrotra has circulated this ‘open letter’ to the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, all the other judges and senior advocates. — TNS

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Goodbye to MiG fleet at Tezpur
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 6
The MiG 21 aircraft will no longer tear through the skies of North Assam as the IAF base at Tezpur today bade adieu to the fleet of the fighter aircraft in a warm ceremony attended by the commander-in-chief of the Eastern Air Command, Air Marshall P.K. Borbora, besides other senior officials.

Tezpur is the last of the IAF bases in the country to phase out the MiG 21 sky warriors, an aircraft whose utility has come under cloud. Defence spokesman, Lt Col Narendra Singh, informed The Tribune that inclement weather, however, took the sheen off the proposed colourful send-off for the fleet as the IAF had to cancel the last ceremonial sortie of the aircraft from Tezpur to the Chabua IAF base in Dibrugarh in eastern Assam.

The spokesman said the fleet would be relocated to the Chabua IAF base for the time being for strategic reasons until a different generation of fighter aircraft was not stationed at Tezpur.

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Congress in spot over wheat import
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
The Congress was today put in a spot over the government's decision to import wheat at a price higher than the MSP, with the party laying the responsibility of a reply mainly at the door of agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Replying to queries from mediapersons, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi initially sought to justify the decision to import wheat by saying that the contracts that were fructifying now had been given earlier. However, as mediapersons persisted that the orders for the import had been given by the government in the recent past, Singhvi said they should ask Sharad Pawar for the facts.

Though parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said later that the reply to questions on the import of wheat would come from Pawar, he mentioned that the decision had been taken keeping in view the requirements near the festive season.

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JD(U) threatens to burn imported wheat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 6
Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today threatened to burn imported wheat on arrival at the Mundra port located in Kutch, Gujarat, to prevent its entry into the Indian market.

Addressing mediapersons here today, the Rajya Sabha MP who has been minister for food and public distribution questioned the government's rationale in importing wheat from the international market at Rs 16 per kg when wheat was available in the domestic market at Rs 11 to Rs 12 per kg.

He alleged that the government was “anti-farmer and anti- people” and was working against national interest by endangering food security.

He said the government's decision to buy wheat may push up the wheat price in the domestic market. “By importing the wheat, the government will be paying foreign farmers higher prices. The farm subsidies will be up and these will not go to Indian farmers but to foreign farmers and traders. The irony is that foreign MNCs which have procured Indian wheat at Rs 8.50 per kg, will supply us wheat at Rs 16 per kg,” he said.

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Keep girls on campus, prevent eve-teasing
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 6
The propagators of "good governance" in Bihar have a unique solution to the menace of eve-teasing.

In a move that may draw the ire of women,the district administration of Dhanbad has directed girls not to leave the campus during college hours to avoid eve-teasing.

Sources said the administration issued this unprecedented directive to two leading women colleges in Dhanbad.

The college authorities were advised to prevent students from venturing out of the campus before 4 pm, the closing time for regular classes.

The principals of SSNT Girls' College and BSS Mahila College have been asked to abide by the order.

The directive was issued by the administration with the hope that such a step would prevent problems related to law and order.

The circular issued by the additional district magistrate (law and order),Rajmohan Tewari, can be viewed as an "indirect admission" by the administration of its failure to prevent eve-teasing.

The students view the move as a direct attack on their right to freedom. They had reportedly complained to the police about eve-teasing but the police did not do much. Instead of tackling the menace,the administration issued the directive to play safe.

According to sources, the college administration argues that its authority to deal with the students' problems is limited to the campus and it is up to the administration to take care of the security of the girls outside the college. The college authorities, however, are in favour of posting a few constables outside the college, instead of "detaining" the girls.

Rajmohan Tewari told the media that the girl students were the "cause of traffic jam" and "drew mischief-makers".

"Girls come out from the college in large numbers creating traffic bottlenecks. They form groups and gossip on the roadside. Besides, their presence means boys teasing them. If girls will be in the college campus,there will be no problem," he said.

He, however, claimed that his directive was neither an injunction nor any notice under but an advice.

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14 ULFA ultras give up arms
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 6
What construed to be a blow for the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), 14 of its hardcore cadres today surrendered before the police along with arms and ammunition.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Special Branch, Khagen Sharma, said 14 ULFA militants belonging to ULFA’s 28th and 709 battalions, the two most active battalions of the insurgent group, today surrendered at the headquarter of the special branch of the Assam police at Kahilipara here.

The ultras deposited one AK 47 assault rifle, three 9 mm pistols, two handmade revolvers, two pistols, five grenades, two improvised explosive devices, four kgs of TNT explosive and assorted ammunition.

The militants who surrendered, were identified as Dilip Kumar Sharma, Robin Bezboruah, Lakhyadhar Kalita, Manik Gogoi, Simanta Gogoi, Dulal Baruah, Rupam Gogoi, Chintu Gogoi, Anil Gogoi, Subhas Bora, Tapan Barua, Mitul Handique, Jayanta Roy, Rajani Kalita.

The surrendered ultras would be provided a rehabilitation grant of Rs 1.5 lakh each by the Assam government to start their life afresh in the mainstream.

Meanwhile, militants today released one Bhagawan Das, abducted junior engineer of the Assam government’s rural development department.

He was kidnapped by ULFA militants on August 25 last.

The abductors set him free near the national highway 31 at Patshala in Barpeta district.

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Now pay extra tax for every additional car
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 6
In a bid to check vehicular pollution and traffic congestion, the Andhra Pradesh government is mulling over imposition of additional tax for those who own more than one personal car.

The car-owners wanting to add more vehicles to their fleet will now have to pay 33 per cent more life tax for every new vehicle they purchase.

“Unless we impose additional tax, we cannot tackle the growing twin problems of traffic and pollution,” Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy said.

At present, there is nine per cent life tax on vehicles. The Chief Minister has approved the proposal for disincentives and indicated that the government was compelled to levy the extra tax on families owning more than one car.

However, the tax rate remains unchanged for the first vehicle.

“The number of persons owing more than one vehicle is increasing in Hyderabad and other towns in the state.

This is becoming a menace in terms of traffic control,” joint transport commissioner C.L.N. Gandhi said.

Andhra Pradesh, which has emerged as one of the fastest growing states in the country, now has 68 lakh registered vehicles, of which only 12 lakh are transport vehicles and the rest are personal.

Of the 56 lakh personal vehicles, there are six lakh cars and 43 lakh two-wheelers while the rest are auto-rikshaws and non-gear vehicles.

“A sizeable number of middle-class families own both a bike and a car. Among the upper middle-class and rich sections, owning more than two cars is very common,” an official said.

With the rising income levels, the population of motor vehicles is bound to increase exponentially putting great pressure on public space, environment, oil import bills and safety.

The traffic congestion is particularly acute in the state capital.

The city has only 6 per cent space for roads, which is among the least in the country, while the vehicle density was the highest at 2,337 vehicles per km of road length, additional director, traffic and transportation, municipal corporation of Hyderabad, V.S. Reddy said.

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IAA award for Kasturirangan
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, September 6
Former ISRO chairman and National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) Director Dr K. Kasturirangan has been awarded the Theodore Von Karman Award of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), Paris, for 2007.

The award will be presented to Dr Kasturirangan at the Academy Day Dinner on September 23, 2007, at Hyderabad during the 58th International Astronautical Congress organised jointly by the International Astronautical Federation, the International Academy of Astronautics (IIA) and the International Institute of Space Law.

Von Karman Award is the highest distinction of the International Academy of Astronautics given annually to recognise outstanding lifetime achievements in any branch of science. The award was instituted in 1987 in memory of Dr Theodore Von Karman, universally respected and legendary aerospace scientist and founder and the first president of the IAA.

Dr Kasturirangan has made immense contribution to the Indian space programme and education that have greatly benefited society.

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Rs 5,000-cr scholarships for SCs

New Delhi, September 6
The government tonight approved a Rs 5,000 crore scholarship programme to promote education among Scheduled Caste students and also announced an ambitious health insurance cover for unorganised sector workers.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved continuation of the centrally-sponsored scheme of post-matric scholarship to SC students during the 11th Five year Plan with changes.

Under the scheme, SC students would get admission not only in government colleges, but also in private colleges where there was facility for free seats, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting.

He said the scheme was open-ended and all SC students, whose parents annual income did not exceed Rs one lakh, will be benefitted.

Chidambaram said that in case of private institutions, where admission was only the basis of 12th standard examination marks, there would be a benchmark of 60 per cent for availing the scholarship. — PTI

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Monica acquitted in passport case

Bhopal, September 6
A sessions court here today upheld the lower court's decision, acquitting Monica Bedi in a fake passport case.

The additional sessions judge, who had earlier reserved the order on September 3, rejected arguments put forth by the prosecution, saying it had failed to substantiate the charge against Monica of “fraudulently preparing” the passport in 2001.

The judge pointed out that the prosecution had committed several mistakes in preparing the case against the accused. — UNI

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