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CHANDIGARH

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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Terror twist to black money case
New Delhi, May 4
Former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab police chief KPS Gill and four others, who have filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to bring back the black money stashed in secret bank accounts abroad, today introduced the terror angle to their case.

BJP may dump Sena, sup with Raj
Mumbai, May 4
Poor turnout during the Lok Sabha polls and no clear indicators of voters’ preferences emerging, political relationships are undergoing a churn in Maharashtra. Now, it is the turn of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to go downhill like the Congress-NCP tie-up.

Gujarat Riots
Kodnani booked for destruction of evidence
Ahmedabad, May 4
Facing a murder charge in some post-Godhra riots cases, the jailed former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani was also booked for destruction of evidence along with other accused for allegedly trying to burn the bodies and houses at the scene of the communal clashes.





EARLIER STORIES

A woman offers prayers after taking a holy dip in the waters of the Ganga in Allahabad.
A woman offers prayers after taking a holy dip in the waters of the Ganga in Allahabad. — Reuters

CPM pulls out all stops to defeat Mamata
Kolkata, May 4
In an apparent bid to upset the poll campaign schedule of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, top CPM leaders have decided to camp in her constituency-South Kolkata-for three days starting May 9.

Yechury does not rule out support to UPA
Kolkata, May 4
Despite CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat having categorically ruled out support to a Congress-led government at the Centre again, senior party politburo member Sitaram Yechury today said the party’s next step would be decided only after the elections.

Chidambaram on a sticky wicket
Sivaganga, May 4
Amid allegations of “abetting the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka”, Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram is fighting the battle of his life in this arid, rural constituency in South Tamil Nadu.

Vaiko strikes a chord in Nilgiris
Nilgiris (TN), May 4
When Union Minister for Communications and ITA Raja, filed his nomination papers for the Nilgiris constituency in western Tamil Nadu, it was expected to be a cakewalk for him against a relatively less known candidate C Krishnan of the MDMK.

Now, land routes put under scanner
New Delhi, May 4
India has put land routes from neighbouring countries, especially Nepal, under surveillance to watch out for any individual entering the country who may be carrying the deadly swine flu virus.

Newspaper, agency staff to protest from today
New Delhi, May 4
The Confederation of Newspaper and News Agency Employees Organisations has threatened to go on agitation tomorrow in protest against the wage board meeting with journalists and non-journalists separately.

Rahman launches ‘Jai Ho’ world tour
Kozhikode (Kerala), May 4
It was perhaps an experience of a lifetime for over 40,000-music lovers as Oscar-winning music maestro AR Rahman launched his worldwide ‘Jai Ho’ tour here, holding them enthralled with a range of popular hits from Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam movies.

Anil Ambani Chopper Case
Business rivalry ruled out; 2 held

Mumbai, May 4
The Mumbai police has arrested two employees of an aircraft maintenance firm in connection with the attempt to damage a helicopter belonging to industrialist Anil Ambani and ruled out corporate rivalry as the cause of sabotage.

SC notice to Big B in tax matter
New Delhi, May 4
The Supreme Court today issued notice to film star Amitabh Bachchan on a petition filed by the Income Tax Department over his income in 2000-01, when he was the host of the popular quiz show "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (KBC).

Chhattisgarh gets notice over Binayak’s bail plea
New Delhi, May 4
The Supreme Court today directed the Chhattisgarh government to provide “best medical” treatment to Dr Binayak Sen, a civil liberty leader, jailed on the charge of aiding and abetting Naxalite activities.





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Terror twist to black money case
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 4
Former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab police chief KPS Gill and four others, who have filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to bring back the black money stashed in secret bank accounts abroad, today introduced the terror angle to their case.

“Illicit funds from India parked in foreign banks and foreign tax havens could be used for funding terrorists and subversive activities,” their counsel Anil Divan told a three-member Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

They quoted National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Narayanan's reported remarks at a security conference at Munich, Germany, on February 11, 2008, in order to explain their apprehension.

The NSA had stated: “Isolated instances of terrorist outfits manipulating the stock markets to raise funds for their operations have been reported. Stock exchanges in Mumbai and Chennai have, on occasions, reported that fictious or notional companies were in stock market operations.”

Divan handed over to the Bench a four-page written submission, which he also read out, in response to the Centre's reply to the points raised in the PIL.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gopal Subramanium contended that the petitioners were relying on news reports, both in print and various forms of electronic media, to raise their allegations. It was not possible for the government to keep track of all these reports and take action thereupon.

Divan took exception to the ASG not keeping his promise to respond to the PIL within 48 hours from the time of its mentioning on April 21. The government took about 10 days and filed its affidavit, just a day ahead of today's hearing, he said and sought time for coming out with a detailed response.

Posting the next hearing for July 20, the Bench, which included Justices P Sathasivam and MK Sharma, asked the petitioners and the ASG to file their respective replies and rejoinders on the issue.

During the arguments, Justice Sharma asked the ASG why no action was taken under the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act, 2002, against one Hassan Ali Khan and his associates against whom the Income Tax Department had raised a demand for Rs 71,848.59 crore.

In the PIL, the petitioners had focussed on bringing back the black money, estimated at Rs 70 lakh crore, to fund developmental work and remove poverty. But the submissions made today have shifted the focus to terrorism and national security.

The petitioners pointed out that as far back in 1993, the NN Vohra Committee had "sounded an alarm" over the link between hawala transactions and subversive activities and recommended the setting up of a nodal agency to break this nexus. The committee had been set up in the wake of the 1993 Bombay blasts, reportedly masterminded by the Dawood Ibrahim gang.

Subsequently, in the Vineet Narain-Union of India case, the apex court had directed the Centre to set up the nodal agency involving the Home Ministry, the CBI and various Departments of the Finance Ministry.

Rejecting the government's stand that the PIL was politically motivated, the petitioners said none of them had anything to do with politics now and wanted to pursue their case even after the elections, irrespective of the fact who was at the helm of affairs.

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BJP may dump Sena, sup with Raj
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 4
Poor turnout during the Lok Sabha polls and no clear indicators of voters’ preferences emerging, political relationships are undergoing a churn in Maharashtra. Now, it is the turn of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance to go downhill like the Congress-NCP tie-up.

Again, like in the Congress-NCP marriage, it is the national BJP, which wants to split with the regional party. Only unlike the Congress, which is confident of going it alone for the forthcoming assembly elections, the BJP wants to ally with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

BJP leaders, who were unhappy with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray even before the Lok Sabha polls, are taking a good look at his cousin Raj Thackeray. “There are indications from the local level that the MNS would upstage the Shiv Sena in many seats,” says a senior BJP leader. According to observers, Shiv Sena cadres in Mumbai and Thane worked in large numbers for the MNS candidate where the saffron alliance fronted the seat on a BJP ticket.

The huge turnouts at Raj Thackeray’s street corner rallies threaten to upset the fortunes of prominent BJP candidates like Ram Naik who contested from the Mumbai North constituency.

BJP leaders feel that Raj is more charismatic than Uddhav and would be a better bet during the assembly elections due in September this year.

Senior BJP leaders like party president Nitin Gadkari and Mumbai unit chief Vinod Tawde are backing Raj Thackeray while Gopinath Munde wants the alliance with the Shiv Sena to continue.

On his part Raj Thackeray, who has positioned himself as the successor to his uncle Bal Thackeray, would be only too happy to tie up with the BJP to bolster his own credibility.

With such a move in mind, Raj Thackeray at a function in Pune last weekend backed the candidature of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister.

“I can’t find a better candidate than Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister. In Gujarat his name is synonymous with development,” Raj Thackeray is reported to have said. According to sources who attended the seminar, Thackeray is said to have praised the leadership of Nitin Gadkari as well and made no mention of Munde.

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Gujarat Riots
Kodnani booked for destruction of evidence

Ahmedabad, May 4
Facing a murder charge in some post-Godhra riots cases, the jailed former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani was also booked for destruction of evidence along with other accused for allegedly trying to burn the bodies and houses at the scene of the communal clashes.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has filed additional chargesheets in both the Naroda Patia and Naroda gam riots cases in which Kodnani is one of the prime accused, charged the BJP MLA and others under section 201 of the IPC which relates to the offence of destruction of evidence.

“We have charged her and others for murder, attempt to murder, rioting, loot and destruction of evidence,” an official of SIT said.

“We have statements of the witnesses and a CD of mobile call details, which establish her (Kodnani’s) presence at the scene of offence and that she was constantly in touch with other accused,” he said. — PTI

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CPM pulls out all stops to defeat Mamata
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 4
In an apparent bid to upset the poll campaign schedule of Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, top CPM leaders have decided to camp in her constituency-South Kolkata-for three days starting May 9.

CPM Politburo members, including Prakash Karat, (West Bengal Chief Minister) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Biman Bose and Nirupam Sen, would be part of the intensive campaigning plan for defeating the TMC supremo in the election on May 13.

On May 9, the Chief Minister would lead a procession in Ballygunge area and the same evening he would be addressing a public meeting in support of CPM candidate Rabin Deb.

The next day, Left Front chairman Biman Bose would participate in a road show in support of Deb. Nirupam Sen, another Politburo member, would lead a procession in Taratala-Kidderpore area on May 10 while Karat would address an election meeting at Deshapriya Park the following day.

The CPM leaders admitted that their aim was to confine Mamata to her own constituency, which would “ensure the Left a large-scale victory elsewhere in the state”.

Mamata, however, said she was not at all worried about the CPM’s strategy as she was confident about people “electing her this time with a thumping majority”. Accordingly, said she, she would be sticking to her scheduled campaigning programme in 41 other constituencies in the rest of the period in support of TMC and Congress candidates.

Notably, post the delimitation of constituencies in the state Mamata Banerjee’s South Kolkata seat has been extended to new areas in the central part of the city, which, in 2004 polls, were included in the North-West seat-won by CPM leader Sudhangshu Sil.

Mamata has been representing the South Kolkata seat since 1991. In 2004 polls, she defeated Deb by a margin of about 100,000 lakh votes.

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Yechury does not rule out support to UPA

Kolkata, May 4
Despite CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat having categorically ruled out support to a Congress-led government at the Centre again, senior party politburo member Sitaram Yechury today said the party’s next step would be decided only after the elections.

“We will decide what will happen post-election, but right now our objective till the elections are over is the third alternative. However, we do not think the need to support a Congress-led government will arise,” Yechury told a press conference here.

Asked about Karat’s statement in Kolkata recently that the Left would not extend support to a Congress-led coalition again, Yechury said, “I do not know in what context he had said this. We will meet and decide what will happen post-election.”

Yechury said the Congress leaders were openly saying after the third phase of the elections that they would take support of the Left if the opportunity to form a government arose.

“But this is an admission of their realisation that they are not coming back to power. Our objective is to form a Third Front government and we are confident about that,” he said. Asked if the Left was approached to support a Congress-led coalition minus Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, he said they were not concerned about individuals, but issues. — PTI

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Chidambaram on a sticky wicket
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Sivaganga, May 4
Amid allegations of “abetting the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka”, Union Home Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram is fighting the battle of his life in this arid, rural constituency in South Tamil Nadu.

Tamil nationalist groups, students and lawyers have arrived from other parts of the state “ to teach a lesson to Chidambaram, who did not raise his voice against the Centre’s military aid to the island government”.

The Congress leader’s latest statements that “ The Sri Lankan government is more at fault” and “we do not wish anything ill for LTTE chief Prabhakaran” has cooled the tempers to a certain extent, but they have not pacified the strong LTTE supporters, who see those remarks as “poll-time gimmicks”.

The arrest of 13 students, who are campaigning against him in the constituency, has only angered other students, instead of inciting fears. But, the Union Minister, sensing the pulse of the people, had begun the campaign three months ago, ahead of other candidates and concentrating in his constituency, avoiding campaigns in other parts of the state.

Nearly all major banks in the country have a branch in Sivaganga, suggesting what he has done as a Union Finance Minister.

Crop loans worth Rs 66 crore had been waived in Sivaganga district and educational loans had been provided to about 30,000 students. More than 78,000 farmers have benefited through the Crop Insurance Scheme in the constituency, where a medical college, ITI and Kendriya Vidyalaya had been set up.

Paper factories, milk processing unit at Karaikudi, sterlite aluminium powder factory, a BHEL unit at Thirumayam, hospitals, garment designing training centres, quality hospitals, schools and generous housing loans are among the list of Chidambaram’s achievements in his constituency.

However, travelling through the constituency, with the hot air scattering the dust around, most of the villages are dry with no cultivation, due to lack of water for irrigation. Some of his supporters said the area could be irrigated only if the water level in the Mullaiperiyar dam was raised.

But, Chidambaram has not raised his voice or done anything on the issue, despite being a Union Minister with considerable influence, his detractors pointed out. One of the major promises that Chidambaram had failed to fulfil was the setting up of a graphite factory, a long time demand in the area.

Chidambaram is facing a heavy weight local candidate Rajakannappan, fielded by AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who is seeking votes and is promising to send the Indian military to Sri Lanka to carve out a separate homeland for Tamils in the island nation.

The Congress leader, who had won the seat six times from 1984 and won by a huge margin of 1.63 lakh votes last time, finds himself on a sticky wicket now and the result can go either way.

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Vaiko strikes a chord in Nilgiris
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Nilgiris (TN), May 4
When Union Minister for Communications and ITA Raja, filed his nomination papers for the Nilgiris constituency in western Tamil Nadu, it was expected to be a cakewalk for him against a relatively less known candidate C Krishnan of the MDMK.

But, the mood has changed considerably after MDMK leader Vaiko’s two-day campaign in the hill district. Seeing the growing support for the MDMK, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was forced to change his campaign programme.

Originally, the Chief Minister had planned to campaign in only four cities, Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Madurai. But, the Nilgiris had been added as the fifth venue and this shows how much importance the DMK leader is attaching to the constituency.

As Vaiko explained how Tamil children were suffering without milk and how the Sri Lankan military was treating Tamil women, most of them were seen weeping aloud at Gudalur. The MDMK leader also described Karunanidhi’s fast as a drama to deceive the people of Tamil Nadu and said the island military had only announced that it would stop using heavy military weapons. “There is no ceasefire in Sri Lanka and the suffering of Tamil people continues,” he said, which was acknowledged by the crowd.

Vaiko, had extensively covered the constituency and had campaigned in Bandalur, Kolapalli, Ayyankolli, Pithurkaadu, Masingudi, Ooty, Manjur, Kothagiri, Coonoor, Mettupalayam, Sirumugai, Karamadai and Thudiyalur. The reaction was the same wherever he went and DMK’s perception of a cakewalk in the Nilgiris had already vanished.

A large number of Sri Lankan repatriates, who are working in the tea estates of Gudalur, Bandalur, Kothagiri and Manjoor, will play a major role in the elections. The Nilgiris, has a large population of Badugas, an agricultural community, involved in tea growing. The fixing of tea price is a major issue and the Badugas community is fighting for their inclusion in the MBC list for a long time.

The revival of Hindustan Photo Films, a major industry in the area, is also being utilised by the opposition here.

Congress nominee R Prabhu won by a huge margin of 2.37 lakh votes last time. However, despite his popularity, the DMK’s Union Minister is finding himself locked in a hot contest and expecting his leader’s one-day campaign to tilt the balance in his favour.

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Now, land routes put under scanner
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 4
India has put land routes from neighbouring countries, especially Nepal, under surveillance to watch out for any individual entering the country who may be carrying the deadly swine flu virus.

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Vineet Chaudhary on Monday said the government would screen people arriving at various check posts across the country, especially through Nepal, since many foreigners landed in Nepal and came to India via the land route. The suggestion came up at a meeting held by Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrashekhar with Chief Secretaries of 17 states through video-conferencing. As per Chaudhary, 84 persons who had entered the country through check posts in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the past five days have been identified for check-ups and would be tracked down and screened. Besides this, India is also monitoring its sea ports, though officials said chances of any suspected HINI virus carrier arriving through the sea route would be remote.

Meanwhile, five NRIs, two in Cochin and three in Delhi, are being kept under observation. A total of 45,000 passengers have been screened across all airports. Till now, 12 samples have been screened and all of them have been found to be negative. As of now, no swine flu case has been reported in India.

Of the five persons kept under observation, three have been kept in isolation in Delhi, while two are admitted to hospitals in Cochin. The samples of three NRIs from Germany and the US are being tested both at National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi, and National Institute of Virology, Pune, while the Cochin samples are yet to arrive. Officials said if required, the bio-safety laboratory testing facilities in Dibrugarh and Kolkota could also be activated. Cabinet Secretary Chandrashekhar held a two-hour video conference with Chief Secretaries of 17 states and reviewed their preparedness.

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Newspaper, agency staff to protest from today

New Delhi, May 4
The Confederation of Newspaper and News Agency Employees Organisations has threatened to go on agitation tomorrow in protest against the wage board meeting with journalists and non-journalists separately.

“In the past such meetings were held jointly. It is a waste of time and money and an effort to delay things," said the leaders of the top body of employees of newspapers and news agencies in an executive meeting held here today.

Confederation general-secretary MS Yadav said all the leaders of the body have rejected the move and are going to meet labour secretary Sudha Pillai on this.

If the meeting with Pillai proves fruitless, “We would hold demonstration at the wage board office tomorrow,” he said.

The executive meeting was attended by Suresh Akhouri of the Indian Journalists Union, Madan Talwar of the All-India Newspaper Employees Federation, NK Trikha and MD Gangwar from the National Union of Journalists (I), ML Joshi from the UNI Workers’ Union and Ajay Kumar Tyagi and Amrit Mohan from the Federation of PTI Employees’ Unions, among others. — PTI

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Rahman launches ‘Jai Ho’ world tour

Kozhikode (Kerala), May 4
It was perhaps an experience of a lifetime for over 40,000-music lovers as Oscar-winning music maestro AR Rahman launched his worldwide ‘Jai Ho’ tour here, holding them enthralled with a range of popular hits from Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam movies.

It was a musical extravaganza this Kerala town has never seen before as music lovers from across the world thronged the corporation stadium last night to see their idol perform for the first time after winning a double Oscar for his score in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Such was the response of the crowd that Rahman himself acknowledged at the end of the show that he would be delighted to return to Kozhikode once more.

The show is the first of the 39 such live shows to be conducted by the maestro all over the world during the next five years. — PTI

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Anil Ambani Chopper Case
Business rivalry ruled out; 2 held
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 4
The Mumbai police has arrested two employees of an aircraft maintenance firm in connection with the attempt to damage a helicopter belonging to industrialist Anil Ambani and ruled out corporate rivalry as the cause of sabotage.

The police told reporters that it was a dispute between the management of Air Works maintenance that led to the incident in which pebbles and chemicals were put into the fuel tank of the Bell 412 helicopter used by Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Chairman Anil Ambani last month.

The two accused, Uday Manohar Warikar (32) and Palraj Thevar (38), both helpers working with Air Works, were arrested last night and produced today before a court which remanded them to police custody till May 15.

The police is also questioning a third employee, Vijay Patankar, in connection with the incident. Patankar has not been arrested so far, the police said.

According to the police, rivalry between groups of employees and the management has been given as a cause for the mischief caused to Ambani’s helicopter.

The incident resulted in the death of a technician Bharat Borge who discovered the attempt to tamper with the aircraft. Borge was found dead on the railway tracks near the Vile Parle railway station close to the airport.

Meanwhile, a police team has been sent to question the family of Borge at Satara where they live.

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SC notice to Big B in tax matter
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 4
The Supreme Court today issued notice to film star Amitabh Bachchan on a petition filed by the Income Tax Department over his income in 2000-01, when he was the host of the popular quiz show "Kaun Banega Crorepati" (KBC).

A Bench, comprising justices SH Kapadia and Aftab Alam, posted the case for final hearing on October 28. The court granted eight weeks’ time to the department to file its response (rejoinder) to the Big B's reply to the notice.

Appearing for Amitabh, senior counsel Harish Salve said his client had filed a revised return on the “wrong advice of the consultants,” claiming 30 per cent deduction for the expenses incurred on the personal security. Once he realised that the expenses, shown as the cash payments, did not find mention in the cash flow statement, he withdrew the return, Salve contended.

During the last hearing on April 20, the bench had pulled up the department for allowing him to withdraw the revised return, as it had never been done in other cases. Upon this, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Gopal Subramaniam had sought time to find out whether it was allowed unconditionally.

The ASG told the court today that the department had questioned Amitabh over the withdrawal. In his original return, the Big B had declared an income of about Rs 4.62 crore. Subsequently, he filed two revised returns, once placing the income at Rs 6.09 crore and then at Rs 3.24 crore. But, finally stuck to Rs 4.62 crore.

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Chhattisgarh gets notice over Binayak’s bail plea
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 4
The Supreme Court today directed the Chhattisgarh government to provide “best medical” treatment to Dr Binayak Sen, a civil liberty leader, jailed on the charge of aiding and abetting Naxalite activities.

A bench, comprising justices DK Jain and B Sudershan Reddy, also issued notice to the state, seeking its response to the Sen's bail plea on the various grounds, including the fact that he had a heart problem and wanted to undergo surgery at the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, Tamil Nadu. Sen is an alumnus of the CMC.

An office-bearer of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and a former professor in the Public Health Department, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sen is in jail since May 14, 2007. He has sought bail, as the chargesheet had been filed, besides claiming that he was not involved in any Naxalite activity.

According to him, he was only meeting the under trial prisoners in the Raigarh and Bilaspur jails to get justice for them. The PUCL believed in the rule of law and was opposed to the violence, he said. The bench posted further hearing for next week.

Appearing for Sen, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani said all the witnesses had been examined and his client would not tamper with the evidence in the event of getting bail.

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