SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Tappalpur Raids
Andhra reopens 31-yr-old Naxalite case

Hyderabad, November 4
The Andhra Pradesh police has re-opened a 31-year-old case that symbolised a defining moment in the blood-soaked Naxalite history. A senior Maoist leader was arrested and produced before a local court yesterday.

SC clears decks for Talkatora demolition
New Delhi, November 4
The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for the demolition of Talkatora Stadium to make way for the 2010 Commonwealth Games here. A bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia permitted the NDMC on Friday.

Security in Delhi beefed up
New Delhi, November 4
With memories of pre-Diwali blasts in the Capital two years ago still fresh in the minds of Delhiites, security has been beefed up in various parts of the capital, especially crowded places like shopping malls, markets and railway stations.

Manipur CM Ibobi faces revolt
New Delhi, November 4
Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh today faced a revolt from dissidents with 18 of the 31 Congress MLAs demanded his removal alleging sharp rise in insurgency and large scale corruption in the government.




EARLIER STORIES


CLAY CRAFT

A potter readies earthen lamps ahead of the Diwali in Allahabad
A potter readies earthen lamps ahead of the Diwali in Allahabad on Sunday. — PTI

Violation of Other Laws
Insurance cos can’t deny claims
New Delhi, November 4
The National Consumer Commission has held that insurance companies, if the terms of the policy were not breached, cannot refuse to entertain claims on the pretext that the insured violated some other laws or conditions.

Female Foeticide
SC dismisses plea against Ramadoss
New Delhi, November 4
The Supreme Court has dismissed a contempt of court petition filed against union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss for not launching an awareness programme to curb female foeticide as directed by the apex court.

Cong to finalise pre-poll alliances in Gujarat soon
New Delhi, November 4
The Congress is expected to finalise seat-sharing with like-minded parties, including the NCP, by Tuesday when the process of finalisation of party nominees for Gujarat will start. A meeting of the central election committee of the party is scheduled on November 6 to finalise party candidates and by that time certain matters.

Brinda justifies decision to seek CRPF for Nandigram
Kolkata, November 4
Alleging that the people of Nandigram have become victims of politics and conspiracy by a political party, CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat today justified the state government’s decision to seek the help of central forces to restore normalcy in the trouble-torn area in east Midnapore district.

More courts required to clear pending cases: CJI
Chennai, November 4
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan said here today that additional courts were required to clear the 2.56 crore cases pending in various courts in the country. Participating in the valedictory function of the three-day regional workshop on “Techniques and tools for enhancing timely justice”, organised by the National Judicial Academy and Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy, he said there were about 14,600 courts in the country.

HC summons Tejpal, sister
New Delhi, November 4
The Delhi High Court has summoned the editor-in-chief of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal and his sister, Neena Tejpal, in a case filed by a well-known painter, Raghu Vyas, seeking damages of Rs 1 crore, for allegedly infringing the copyright of one of his paintings.

India to host global meet on disaster risk
New Delhi, November 4
Delegates from nearly 50 countries will meet here this week to review initiatives taken to minimise disaster risk in various sub-regions of Asia, which has been hit by major natural calamities claiming thousands of lives.

Priyanka ‘likes’ Dravid not Dhoni    
Bareilly, November 4
Bollywood sensuous beauty and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra is an ardent lover of Team India's former captain Rahul Dravid, revealed her parents here today. ''Priyanka is a great lover of cricket. Notwithstanding having a busy schedule, she does not forget to watch ODIs on television. She is an ardent fan of Dravid,'' said Dr Madhu Chopra and Dr Ashok Chopra.

Priyanka Chopra

Acid Attacks
Woman succumbs to injuries, husband held
Chennai, November 4
A man poured acid on his wife today at their house here, inflicting severe burn injuries to which she later succumbed at a hospital. The police said Navin, a car driver residing in a slum tenement, married a teacher Sheeba five years ago. Navin used to frequently quarrel with her under the influence of alcohol and suspecting her fidelity.

BPO girl murdered on last day of her job
Pune, November 4
‘She was busy on the mobile phone talking to her friend in Bangalore and could hardly notice the cab diverting towards a small village across the Mumbai-Pune expressway in the midnight dark about 50 km from here, where death waited for her.

5.54 lakh die every year of heart diseases
Hyderabad, November 4
Union minister of state for health and family welfare Panabaka Lakshmi today said 5.54 lakh persons die of heart diseases every year in the country and emphasised the need to disseminate knowledge to prevent lifestyle diseases.

Pak Emergency
Forces along border on alert
New Delhi, November 4
The Centre has directed security forces to step up vigil along the Indo-Pak border and Line of Control to thwart infiltration bids by terrorists in view of political turmoil in Pakistan.

Risky travel: Youngsters perched precariously on a jeep near Godhra in Gujarat
Risky travel: Youngsters perched precariously on a jeep near Godhra in Gujarat on Sunday. — PTI

Release of fishermen ordered
Chennai, November 4
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has ordered the release of 97 Indian fishermen who were detained by the Lankan Navy for allegedly straying into the waters of the island nation.

Sethusamudram Project
Expert committee seeks extension
New Delhi, November 4
Expert committee on Sethusamudram channel project today sought extension of time from the government for completion of the project, citing huge workload as the reason. The committee was required to submit its report within a month from the day it started functioning.

Left to contest 12 seats in Gujarat
Vadodara, November 4
The CPI and the CPM together will contest 12 seats in next month's Gujarat Assembly elections, CPI national secretary Shamim Faizi said here today. Talking to mediapersons after a state-level meeting here, Faizi said non-communal and democratic forces should come together to overthrow the Modi government.

Swiss President arrives today
New Delhi, November 4
The President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, will arrive in India tomorrow on a four-day state visit. The Swiss President will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Star One launches ‘Funjabi Chak De’
Mumbai, November 4
‘Funjabi Chak De’ launched by Star One, will be aired from November 16 every Friday. The fun tour guides are Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mandira Bedi. A celebrity singer would grace the viewers every week, who would be introduced by Karishma Tanna and Gurpal Singh.

Videos
Techies day out.
(56k)
Svelte Shilpa keen to tie the knot.
(56k)
Priyanka the superhero.
(56k)
Transvestite television anchor.
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Tappalpur Raids
Andhra reopens 31-yr-old Naxalite case
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, November 4
The Andhra Pradesh police has re-opened a 31-year-old case that symbolised a defining moment in the blood-soaked Naxalite history. A senior Maoist leader was arrested and produced before a local court yesterday.

The case pertains to the brutal killing of five persons, including family members and associates of local landlord G. Pithambar Rao at Tappalpur in Adilabad district in two separate raids by Naxalites in 1976.

Referred in police and Maoist circles as "Tappalpur Raids", the twin incidents had proved to be a turning point in the extremist movement that later took deep roots in the state before spreading to other parts of the country.

After over three decades, the police have re-opened the sensational case and arrested a senior Maoist leader from West Bengal Tusharkanth Bhattacharya and produced him before a local court in Adilabad yesterday.

Bhattacharya, who is in charge of the Maoist movement in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Uttar Bihar (referred to as 'Triple U' in Naxalite parlance), was arrested near Patna in the last week of September and brought to the state.

The Adilabad additional district sessions judge Venkataramanaiah remanded the Maoist leader to judicial custody till November 15. Later, he was taken to the local jail. Bhattacharya was closely associated with Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, the founder of the People's War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh, and Muppala Laxman Rao, the present secretary of CPI (Maoist).

They had personally led the "Tippalpur raids". In the first assault on September 25, 1976, they led a group of 16 persons, armed with knives and axes, and raided the house of Pithambar Rao in Tappalpur.

While the landlord managed to escape, his clerk Gopal Rao was killed in the attack. Within a few days, Pithambar Rao died of a heart attack.

Again on November 7 the same year, Naxalites raided his house, killed two of his sons Dr Sampath Kumar and G.V. Subhash Rao, besides a police constable P. Kondal Rao and the village sarpanch's son K. Ashok.

The case could not be taken to its logical end as the Naxalite leaders jumped bail and went underground. It was listed as a "long pending case".

The Naxalite leaders involved in "Tappalpur raids" first formed the "Coordination Committee" which was later rechristened as Peoples War Group.

The PWG merged with Bihar's Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) to become CPI (Maoists) in October 2004.

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SC clears decks for Talkatora demolition

New Delhi, November 4
The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for the demolition of Talkatora Stadium to make way for the 2010 Commonwealth Games here.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia permitted the NDMC on Friday to go ahead with its plan of replacing Talkatora Stadium with a new multi-storey complex for holding the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The permission was granted following the submission made by the NDMC that the centrally empowered committee (CEC) has already granted permission for demolition of the stadium and its swimming pool.

Amicus Curiae, senior counsel Harish Salve, also submitted before the court that the permission for removal of Talkatora Stadium may be granted.

The government is going to construct a multi-storey complex in a time-bound manner with a cost of over Rs 34 crore.

According to the NDMC, the stadium, spread over 24.77 hectares, is in the ridge area and no construction can be carried out without the permission of the apex court.

The stadium shall be replaced by a four-storeyed boxing ring.

The NDMC has also been permitted to cut over 100 mulberry, gulmohar and eucalyptus trees for the upcoming project.

The CEC has, however, imposed certain conditions such as the project should be technically feasible and the NDMC shall have to transplant new trees in place of the felled ones.

The NDMC shall also have to deposit five percent of the project cost, that is, Rs 1.74 crores with the Ridge Management Board for undertaking fresh conservation programme.

The NDMC shall have to obtain all necessaery clearances from the authorities concerned before starting the project. — UNI

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Security in Delhi beefed up

New Delhi, November 4
With memories of pre-Diwali blasts in the Capital two years ago still fresh in the minds of Delhiites, security has been beefed up in various parts of the capital, especially crowded places like shopping malls, markets and railway stations.

For Diwali and Chhat festivals, the Delhi police have put in place heightened security measures to avoid any mis-happening like the bomb blasts that rocked the national capital in October 2005 on the eve of Diwali, claiming 59 lives.

Metal detectors have been erected at the entry points of major markets like Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and Karol Bagh.

“With festivals like the Chhat and Diwali approaching, we are maintaining a state of alert through measures like intensified patrolling, deployment of dog and bomb-disposal squads and constant vigil of crowded places,” Delhi police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

What has perhaps also contributed to the police mounting heightened security is the receipt of a handwritten letter, purportedly from a terrorist outfit, threatening to blow up the New Delhi railway station and other railway stations across several parts of North India.

“A handwritten letter, purportedly from a terrorist outfit, was sent to the Old Delhi Railway Station on November 1. The letter threatened that the terrorist outfit would trigger explosions at the Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations,” a spokesperson of the Northern Railway said.

The spokesperson said that in wake of the letter, security had been beefed up at the Old Delhi and New Delhi railway station. Additional units of RPF and paramilitary forces have been deployed at the stations.

Meanwhile, the handwritten letter has been forwarded to the Delhi police, the spokesperson said. The letter could also be a prank played by someone considering that it was sent in the form of an inland letter, he added. — UNI

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Manipur CM Ibobi faces revolt

New Delhi, November 4
Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh today faced a revolt from dissidents with 18 of the 31 Congress MLAs demanded his removal alleging sharp rise in insurgency and large scale corruption in the government.

A majority of Congress ministers and MLAs, including Chief Minister Ibobi Singh and his rival and Manipur Pradesh Congress chief Gaikhangam, arrived in the national capital and are waiting for appointment with Congress President Sonia Gandhi to press their respective demands.

“Eighteen MLAs are demanding removal of O Ibobi Singh. Fifteen of us are in Delhi while three more are expected to arrive in a day or two,” a dissident MLA Bijoy Koijam told PTI. Manipur has a 60-member assembly.

Koijam said their leader Gaikhangam will meet the Congress leadership soon to press for the demand. However, the Chief Minister’s camp described the activities of the MLAs as “internal affairs” of the Congress.

“Under the provision of the Constitution every MLA cannot become minister. Whatever grievances they have, it will be sorted out through the intervention of the high command,” irrigation minister N. Biren Singh, who is a loyalist of the Chief Minister, said.

He said out of the 31 Congress MLAs, 20 are with the Chief Minister and have nothing to do with any attempt to change the leadership.

Biren Singh said the Chief Minister, who is here, is expected to meet the Congress chief soon. A spokesman of the dissident group alleged a sharp rise in insurgency-related violence in the state, large-scale corruption in government departments and extortion of money from government departments by different militant outfits.

The present Secular Progressive Front Ministry under the leadership of Ibobi Singh had “utterly failed” to maintain law and order and tackle various other problems, the spokesman alleged.

Some of the dissident MLAs have been camping in the national capital for the last few days while Ibobi Singh had sent his trusted colleagues Biren Singh, public works department minister K. Ranjit and chairman of planning and development authority Kh Loken to clear any misunderstanding with the dissident MLAs. — PTI

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Violation of Other Laws
Insurance cos can’t deny claims

New Delhi, November 4
The National Consumer Commission has held that insurance companies, if the terms of the policy were not breached, cannot refuse to entertain claims on the pretext that the insured violated some other laws or conditions.

"The insurance company cannot repudiate the claim when there is no breach of terms of the policy, as the insurance is a matter of contract between parties," the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said.

Allegations that the insured violated some other laws would not entitle insurers to deny just claims of "hapless" consumers, a Commission bench comprising Justice M.B. Shah and members Rajya Lakhsmi Rao and K.S. Gupta said.

It was deciding a petition filed against the Chennai State Consumer Commission verdict, justifying the repudiation of an accident claim by the United India Insurance Company Ltd (UIICL) on the ground the car, at the time of accident, was being plied without the 'fitness certificate' as required under the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act.

Setting aside the State Commission judgement, the apex Commission made it clear the insurance policies were "not statutory contract".

In fact, the policies were private ones which can only be guided by their own terms and not by something else, the Commission said, and asked UIICL to pay Rs 61,508 to one G. Kothainachiar, a resident of Srivilliputtur in Tamil Nadu, within six weeks as compensation including the claim amount.

Kothainachiar's insured car, whose fitness certificate expired on May 30, 1995, subsequently met with an accident. The insured, after being denied the claim by the insurance company, approached the District Consumer Forum which allowed his complaint and awarded compensation to him. — PTI

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Female Foeticide
SC dismisses plea against Ramadoss

New Delhi, November 4
The Supreme Court has dismissed a contempt of court petition filed against union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss for not launching an awareness programme to curb female foeticide as directed by the apex court.

A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhan also dismissed a similar petition filed by Dr B S Dahiya against union health secretary Naresh Dayal for the same reason.

According to petitioner, the union health minister had not implemented its directions issued on September 10, 2003 to create awareness on female foeticide and also to implement PNDT Act with zeal and rigour.

According to petitioner Prabhakar Deshpande a proper National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) has not been set up by the health minister despite the directions of the court to check ultrasound clinics which were indulging in illegal abortion after determining the sex of the baby in womb.

Alarmed by the falling ratio between males and females in the country, the petitioner had alleged that union health ministry had spent only Rs 5 crore for implementation of PNDT annually whereas ideally Rs 500 crore should have been spent.

According to the petitioner, the ministry was giving Rs 5 lakh each to 126 MPs for awareness programme on female foeticide without any accountability and there was possibility of misappropriation and misuse of these funds.

The petitioner also alleged that NIMC has one full-time member and inspected merely 150 out of 30,000 clinics and of which 75 clinics were found carrying out illegal abortions after determining sex through ultrasound and therefore a large number of clinics were being allowed to “virtually murder female babies in womb” without any fear of law and on an average, one million such deaths took place every year in the country. — UNI

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Cong to finalise pre-poll alliances in Gujarat soon

New Delhi, November 4
The Congress is expected to finalise seat-sharing with like-minded parties, including the NCP, by Tuesday when the process of finalisation of party nominees for Gujarat will start.

A meeting of the central election committee of the party is scheduled on November 6 to finalise party candidates and by that time certain matters, including pre-poll alliances, will be firmed up, AICC general secretary B K Hariprasad said.

In its attempts to give CM Narendra Modi a run for his money, the party has already announced its readiness for a grand alliance of secular parties, including the Left. The first round of seat-sharing talks are already over with the Sharad Pawar-led party and the issue would be clinched soon.

Hariprasad, who is in-charge of party affairs in Gujarat, said the LJP and RJD are other parties which could be accommodated in such an alliance. Hariprasad’s assertion that the Congress was keen on Left parties to be on the board in Gujarat is significant as it has come in a time when the CPI(M) and its allies are warming up with the UNPA headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav at the Centre. — PTI

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Brinda justifies decision to seek CRPF for Nandigram

Kolkata, November 4
Alleging that the people of Nandigram have become victims of politics and conspiracy by a political party, CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat today justified the state government’s decision to seek the help of central forces to restore normalcy in the trouble-torn area in east Midnapore district.

Without naming the Trinamool Congress, Karat said, “a party is doing politics with the poor. They are hatching a conspiracy and the poor people become its victims. CPI-M supporters were driven out of Nandigram. If necessary, those who are doing this, should be given a bashing.”

While addressing the open session of the Eighth All India Democratic Women’s Association at Dum Dum in the northern fringe of the city in the presence of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, she slammed union minister P R Dasmunshi for his “opposition” to the sending of CRPF to the state.

“If this kind of situation takes place in any other state and the concerned state government sought central forces, any central minister hailing from that state would welcome such decision, but Dasmunshi is opposing it,” she said.

She also criticised the opposition’s demand for a CBI probe into Nandigram violence and said that CBI inquiry was not ordered into the violence in Gujarat even after some years. “Why two sets of rules will apply in the same country,” she asked. — PTI

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More courts required to clear pending cases: CJI

Chennai, November 4
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan said here today that additional courts were required to clear the 2.56 crore cases pending in various courts in the country.

Participating in the valedictory function of the three-day regional workshop on “Techniques and tools for enhancing timely justice”, organised by the National Judicial Academy and Tamil Nadu Judicial Academy, he said there were about 14,600 courts in the country.

“There is a need for at least 5,000 more courts to clear the huge backlog of cases in various courts,” he added.

Stating that states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh had provided funds to set up more courts, he wanted the other states to allot more funds for setting up new courts.

Exhorting the judges to understand the problem of the litigants and give proper solution, Balakrishnan said the judges had to pay attention to their problems.

“Such a behaviour will reflect the condition of the judicial system in the country,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Tamil Nadu PWD and law minister Duraimurugan said steps were being taken to make judicial process online to ensure transparency and accountability. — UNI

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HC summons Tejpal, sister

New Delhi, November 4
The Delhi High Court has summoned the editor-in-chief of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal and his sister, Neena Tejpal, in a case filed by a well-known painter, Raghu Vyas, seeking damages of Rs 1 crore, for allegedly infringing the copyright of one of his paintings.

Justice S.N Agrawal restrained the Tejpals from selling and reproducing the painting titled ‘The Realm of Bliss’.

The court summoned Tehelka, a media house, Bonhams, an auction house, and Aman Nath, an expert in the field of paintings.

"The defendants and their agents are restrained from infringing the copyright of the plaintiff (Raghu Vyas) in the painting entitled 'The Realm of Bliss'," the court said while passing the interim order after hearing the contention of Vyas.

The painter, in his suit, contended that he had signed an agreement with Tehelka for participating in an auction 'Art of Freedom' at London organised by Bonhams, an auction house of the UK, in association with Tehelka and Aman Nath on July 11. "After the agreement, Vyas in collaboration with Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala painted the 'Realm of Bliss' for the said auction which was handed over to Tehelka in April 2007," the suit said. — PTI

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India to host global meet on disaster risk

New Delhi, November 4
Delegates from nearly 50 countries will meet here this week to review initiatives taken to minimise disaster risk in various sub-regions of Asia, which has been hit by major natural calamities claiming thousands of lives.

The two-day second Asian Ministerial Conference, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday, will discuss mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in national policies and programmes, enhancing public-private partnership and integrating disaster reduction into rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.

The conference will also review the action taken by the government on Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) adopted in 2005 for building resilience of nations and communities to natural disasters, according to U N Panjiar, secretary (border management) in the union home ministry.

New international initiatives will also come up for discussion at the meet which will be attended by over 400 delegates from nearly 50 countries and a ‘Delhi Declaration’ will be adopted at the end of the deliberations.

Asia has witnessed various types of natural disasters causing enormous loss of life and property and unaccounted sufferings of people, particularly the poor and the vulnerable sections of the society. Studies indicate countries of the region lose between two to 20 per cent of their GDP and 10 to 30 per cent of their revenue every year on account of natural disasters. — PTI

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Priyanka ‘likes’ Dravid not Dhoni

Bareilly, November 4
Bollywood sensuous beauty and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra is an ardent lover of Team India's former captain Rahul Dravid, revealed her parents here today.

''Priyanka is a great lover of cricket. Notwithstanding having a busy schedule, she does not forget to watch ODIs on television. She is an ardent fan of Dravid,'' said Dr Madhu Chopra and Dr Ashok Chopra.

So far, speculations were rife in the tinsel town that Priyanka, who has taken the Indian film industry by storm, has been seeing the captain of the Indian team Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"Mimy (Priyanka) loves 'D' but its Dravid not Dhoni. She has always been crazy about Dravid. She is being linked to Dhoni as some people want to capitalise their mushrooming popularity,'' the medico couple said in unison.

Terming Priyanka-Dhoni link-up as a 'part of the Page3 gossip', Priyanka's father added, ''Priyanka recently attended a programme organised by Pepsi. All the Team India players were present at the event, but she met only Dravid”.

“My daughter has never met Dhoni. Speculations about the Priyanka-Dhoni relation might have originated from the fact that Dhoni hails from Jharkhand, where Mimy's maternal grandparents live”,he said. — UNI

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Acid Attacks
Woman succumbs to injuries, husband held

Chennai, November 4
A man poured acid on his wife today at their house here, inflicting severe burn injuries to which she later succumbed at a hospital.

The police said Navin, a car driver residing in a slum tenement, married a teacher Sheeba five years ago. Navin used to frequently quarrel with her under the influence of alcohol and suspecting her fidelity.

Unable to bear this harassment, she went to her parents’ house and later returned to Navin’s house following a compromise two days ago.

This morning, a wordy duel ensued between the couple and in a fit of rage, Navin poured acid on her, inflicting burn injuries. She was rushed to a hospital, where she succumbed to the injuries.

Navin surrendered before the police and was later remanded in custody.

Lecturer arrested

Hyderabad: The police today arrested the lecturer who threw acid on his former student on Friday after she refused to marry him.

Damadar, a lecturer in a private college Srikakulam district, was arrested last night in Visakhapatnam and was brought to Palasa town here, superintendent of police Manish Kumar Sinha said.

Kalpana, a final year BSc student, was on way to her college at Palasa in an autorickshaw when Damodar caught hold of her at Srinivasa junction and threw acid from a bottle at her in full public view.

The victim, who suffered 50 per cent burns in the attack, was admitted to a private hospital at Visakhapatnam where her condition is still unstable, he said.

The assailant, who claimed that the two had been in love for the past four years, was harassing the victim since her school days despite her repeatedly refusal to her marriage proposals, the police said.

Accused Damodar said he threw acid at Kalpana to ensure that no one could marry her.

He claimed that the girl too loved him but her parents did not agree to them getting married. Damodar said he still wanted to marry Kalpana. — Agencies

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BPO girl murdered on last day of her job

Pune, November 4
‘She was busy on the mobile phone talking to her friend in Bangalore and could hardly notice the cab diverting towards a small village across the Mumbai-Pune expressway in the midnight dark about 50 km from here, where death waited for her.

It was a quirk of destiny that Jyotikumari Choudhary, the 22-year-old employee of Wipro BPO here met with a gruesome end.

Choudhary was raped and strangled by the cab driver and his accomplice when she was headed for office to report for night shift on the last day of the contract job, November 1. Hailing from Gorakhpur and a science graduate from Pune varsity, Choudhary was staying with her sister and brother-in-law and had joined the call centre as an associate in December 2006.

Investigating officials, who have arrested the cab driver Purushottam Borate and his friend Pradip Kokde, said the unsuspecting girl could not make out which way the cab was going as she was not well-versed with topography of the area, besides being indulged in the conversation on her cellphone.

After being sexually assaulted in the nearby field, Choudhary was strangled to death by the accused with her ‘dupatta’. They hit her face with a stone to disfigure it so as to conceal her identity.

The cab driver picked up other employees on the way as he went back to the call centre, located at Hinjewadi IT park on the city outskirts, the police said.

The rape and the subsequent cold-blooded murder of the young girl has sent shock waves across this IT hub housing hundreds of call centres of leading MNCs, putting a question mark on the safety measures provided to the staff.

The cab drivers resorting to rash driving, crossing speed limits and causing accidents in the city, have lately been a topic of resentment among the people.

Terming the incident as “unfortunate”, Wipro BPO president T K Kurien said there had been “criminal manipulation” of the company’s stipulated safety procedures that necessitated corrective measures.

A glaring lacuna, IT sources said, was that most of the BPOs were unaware of the personal records of the cab drivers who are employed by the contracted private transport firms.

This assumes importance as the cabbie with a dubious or criminal background could not be termed as a safe bet when it comes to ferrying female staffers at odd hours in the night, they added.

The call centre officials are primarily concerned with regular availability of the vehicles at fixed timings to ensure smooth working of each shift.

A top Wipro BPO official said the company had standing instructions to transport operators. “No first pick up and no last dropping of female employees. Jyotikumari, who took the cab from her residence, should not have done so after seeing that the vehicle was empty,” he pointed out.

Many women organisations, sharply reacting to the incident, have demanded a security escort on regular basis for the hundreds of female employees reporting for shift duties at call centres located on Pune’s outskirts. — PTI

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5.54 lakh die every year of heart diseases

Hyderabad, November 4
Union minister of state for health and family welfare Panabaka Lakshmi today said 5.54 lakh persons die of heart diseases every year in the country and emphasised the need to disseminate knowledge to prevent lifestyle diseases.

Participating in the Heart Failure Society of India’s (HFSI) first annual conference organised by the Global Hospitals here, Lakshmi said heart failures were occurring in the country because the availability of knowledge had not percolated to the primary care doctors, patients and specialists.

Urging the HFSI to take the lead in various aspects of heart failures like epidemiology, treatment and prevention, the minister said time had come for the government and the medical fraternity to work together in promoting awareness among the people so that ailments like heart diseases, diabetes and cerebral stroke could be prevented through lifestyle changes and medication.

Appealing to the medical community to devote part of their time, money and effort to address the health concerns of the poor, Lakshmi said the government was striving to reach health care to all with the National Rural Health Mission programme.

WHO says that India had approximately 32 million people with diabetes with the number projected to touch 57.2 million in 2025. Knowledge and awareness on lifestyle diseases were of immense value in their prevention. — UNI

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Pak Emergency
Forces along border on alert
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 4
The Centre has directed security forces to step up vigil along the Indo-Pak border and Line of Control to thwart infiltration bids by terrorists in view of political turmoil in Pakistan.

The government’s step has come as a precaution, as there is apprehension in the security establishment here that terrorist outfits may exploit the state of emergency in Pakistan to infiltrate saboteurs and bomb squads to India to divert attention from the extremely fluid domestic situation in Pakistan.

The ministry of home affairs has directed the Border Security Force, in particular, to be on alert to thwart any attempts by Jihadi elements to take advantage of the political turbulence in Pakistan.

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Release of fishermen ordered

Chennai, November 4
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has ordered the release of 97 Indian fishermen who were detained by the Lankan Navy for allegedly straying into the waters of the island nation.

"It is learnt from the deputy high commissioner of Sri Lanka in Chennai that the President has ordered the release of detained fishermen from Nagapattinam district. This has been made possible due to the timely intervention of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi," an official release said here today.

The fishermen were expected to be released immediately, it added.

Ninety-seven fishermen, belonging to Akkaraipettai village, were reported missing after they ventured into sea on October 31. — PTI

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Sethusamudram Project
Expert committee seeks extension

New Delhi, November 4
Expert committee on Sethusamudram channel project today sought extension of time from the government for completion of the project, citing huge workload as the reason.

The committee was required to submit its report within a month from the day it started functioning.

It has decided to meet again on November 14 and 15 at Chennai after completion of personal hearings, said an official release.

Over 130 persons appeared had before the committee till yesterday and expressed their views on wide range of issues varying from economic viability to environmental, navigational, security, historical, religious, social and developmental factors, the release added. — UNI

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Left to contest 12 seats in Gujarat

Vadodara, November 4
The CPI and the CPM together will contest 12 seats in next month's Gujarat Assembly elections, CPI national secretary Shamim Faizi said here today.

Talking to mediapersons after a state-level meeting here, Faizi said non-communal and democratic forces should come together to overthrow the Modi government.

He said Chief Minister Narendra Modi's complicity as revealed recently by the Tehelka sting operation deserves legal action against him. At least, Modi owes a public apology to the people of Gujarat. — UNI

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Swiss President arrives today

New Delhi, November 4
The President of the Swiss Confederation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, will arrive in India tomorrow on a four-day state visit.

The Swiss President will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She will also have meetings with President Pratibha Patil and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

She will also participate at the opening of the International Conference on Federalism in Delhi. Her programme includes a visit to Hyderabad, where she will visit a micro-finance project. — TNS

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Star One launches ‘Funjabi Chak De’

Mumbai, November 4
‘Funjabi Chak De’ launched by Star One, will be aired from November 16 every Friday.

The fun tour guides are Navjot Singh Sidhu and Mandira Bedi. A celebrity singer would grace the viewers every week, who would be introduced by Karishma Tanna and Gurpal Singh.

Speaking to the newspersons yesterday, vice-president (content and communications) Prem Kamath said, “Star One has created the ‘laughter genre’ on Indian television and with this show we will be taking fun to another level. The viewers will be pleasantly surprised to see Mandira and Navjot in a completely different avatar. No eliminations, no saas-bahu saga, and no wild card entry — just unadulterated hum our.” — UNI

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Freedom fighter’s statue desecrated

Madurai, November 4
A statue of freedom fighter Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar was desecrated by unidentified persons at Velayuthapuram village, 95 kms from here today, following which over 500 persons blocked the Rajapalayam-Tirunelveli road and pelted stones at the police, injuring two personnel. — PTI

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Swami Gahanananda dead

Kolkata, November 4
The 14th president of Belur Math, and the Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Gahanananda Maharaj passed away at a city hopital this evening.

He was 91.

Born in 1916 in Sillete, now in Bangladesh, he joined the mission in 1939.

He became the secretary of the Belur math and the Ramakrishna Mission in 1989. In 1993 he became the vice-president of the Belur Math and the Mission, before taking over as the president in 2005. — UNI

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BJP leader shot dead

Simdega (Jharkhand), November 4
A local BJP leader was shot dead in Simdega district, the police said today. A gang of six armed men kidnapped Ganga Prasad Jaiswal from Sirsairusu last evening and hours later his body was found at Kinkel square under Kudak police station, SP M.P. Lakra told newsmen here. — PTI

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