SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

CBI nails AICTE top brass for graft
New Delhi, July 16
Kicking off operation clean-up in India’s technical education sector, the CBI today arrested K. Narayana Rao, member secretary of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), for accepting bribe and booked its chairman RA Yadav, adviser HC Rai, deputy director Robinder Randhawa and regional officer Om Dalal on similar charges.

No shift in our stand on climate change: Ramesh
New Delhi, July 16
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that there was no “major change” in India’s stand on climate change negotiations. “I don’t think there has been any deviation. There is nothing to fear,” Ramesh said on indications that India may have softened its earlier, absolutely non-negotiable, stand of no caps on emission targets at the recently concluded G8 summit.

Swine Flu 
Panic grips Hyderabad’s IT industry
Hyderabad, July 16
A sense of panic has gripped the software industry in Hyderabad following growing number of swine flu cases. With 35 positive cases being reported so far, the city accounts for the highest incidence of H1N1 influenza in the country.



EARLIER STORIES

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi is taken into custody in Muradabad on Wednesday. 14-day judicial custody for Bahuguna
Lucknow, July 16
UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi was today remanded in 14-day judicial custody by Moradabad Chief Judicial Magistrate Prashant Kumar in the case registered against her for her alleged derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati. Bahuguna had been booked under Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of grounds of religions caste etc), 504 (intentional insult to provoke rioting), 505 (2) (causing public alarm) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi is taken into custody in Muradabad on Wednesday. — AFP

Cong regrets Joshi’s utterances
Dwivedi accuses Maya of engineering attack on her house
New Delhi, July 16
The Congress has regretted the indiscreet utterances of the UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, even as it tried to make political capital out of ensuing incidents. The party on Thursday expressed explicit regret over “the personal element in references to Utter Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in” Joshi’s remarks.

Rising Prices
Centre sends advisory to states
New Delhi, July 16
The Congress on Tuesday admitted that soaring prices of essential commodities was a matter of deep concern and an advisory had been sent to the states to act fast and get them under control.

Rain expected in rice, cotton belt by July 20
New Delhi, July 16
Widespread rains within a couple of days have been predicted for the country’s key rice and cotton regions. In its forecast issued yesterday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated that active monsoon condition was likely to continue with the formation of a low pressure area over northwest Bay of Bengal and widespread rainfall activity was likely over the west coast, central India, east and northwest India, starting somewhere between July 18 and 20.

Every tenth foreign visitor overstaying illegally
New Delhi, July 16
Each year several people from several countries are staying back illegally in India. The Home Ministry has given details in Parliament about the increasing numbers of nationals of other countries who are illegally overstaying in the country. It said about 10 per cent of those coming to India stay back without valid visas.

Hillary’s visit to India
Question mark over defence pact
New Delhi, July 16
Just a day before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in New Delhi on a five-day visit, an end-user verification agreement, which will pave way for sensitive and high-end military equipment from the USA, is under question. The Ministry of Defence wants that India’s concerns are addressed in totality.

Cong calls for Bengal bandh today
A bus which was set on fire by a mob during a protest in Kolkata on Thursday.Kolkata, July 16
Congressmen retaliated against yesterday’s attack on party MLAs by CPI(M) workers in Mongolkot in Burdwan by burning buses, taxis, police jeeps and other vehicles. Workers of both the Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) staged violent demonstrations in the city and elsewhere in the state.



A bus which was set on fire by a mob during a protest in Kolkata on Thursday. — AFP

Ragging: Andhra to de-recognise colleges 
Hyderabad, July 16
In a bid to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court guidelines on prevention of ragging, the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to de-recognise colleges and even arrest college authorities if they fail to take action against incidents of ragging.

Chennai under heavy security cover
Chennai, July 16
Information technology (IT) parks, railway stations and temples here have come under tight security following intelligence alerts that Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was planning to carry out attacks in the city.

Brain haemorrhage treated without surgery
Chennai, July 16
A private hospital in Madurai has successfully performed a non-surgical intervention procedure on a 79-year-old person who was admitted with brain haemorrhage.

BJP sides with BSP
New Delhi, July 16
The BJP responded quickly to what it considers objectionable comments against UP Chief Minister Mayawati made by UPCC president Rita Bahugna Joshi, joining ranks with the BSP in Parliament today. The party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said later: “The UP Congress chief’s comments against Mayawati are not only unfortunate but shameful. In her attempt to instigate political rivalry she even forgot to respect womanhood,” she said.

Rajasthan Assembly stalemate ends
Jaipur, July 16
The three-day deadlock prevailing in the Rajasthan Assembly over the ruling party members and former CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia making some ‘derogatory’ remarks against each other finally ended today.






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CBI nails AICTE top brass for graft
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Kicking off operation clean-up in India’s technical education sector, the CBI today arrested K. Narayana Rao, member secretary of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), for accepting bribe and booked its chairman RA Yadav, adviser HC Rai, deputy director Robinder Randhawa and regional officer Om Dalal on similar charges.

The swoops vindicate Yashpal Committee’s recommendation to wind up AICTE and UGC as regulating bodies to stem corruption and create an overarching authority for monitoring the higher education sector. The arrest of Rao, caught accepting Rs 5 lakh as bribe, came after HRD Minister Kapil Sibal granted clearance for his prosecution under government rules.

Notably, Minister of State for Higher Education D Purandeshwari had earlier brought the matter of corruption in higher education to the knowledge of former HRD Minister Arjun Singh. No action, however, followed. She again raised the issue with Sibal, who granted the official permission required to prosecute any officer of or above the rank of joint secretary in GOI.

Permission in hand, the CBI today laid a trap on Rao and arrested him and a middleman with a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from the complainant, owner of an engineering college in Andhra Pradesh, who said Rao sought Rs 20 lakh as bribe for approving his courses, and agreed to accept Rs 5 lakhs as the first installment of the bribe money.

Meanwhile, the CBI registered a corruption case against AICTE top officials, including chairman and regional officer, following the complaint from owner of an engineering college from Faridabad. It alleged that the regional officer concerned had demanded money for processing the case of increase in intake of seats of the said college.

The complainant reported the matter to Chairman, AICTE, Adviser and Deputy Director, but to no avail. The accused allegedly harassed the complainant and forced him to pay off. The CBI said they willfully delayed the process of issuance of letter of approval for starting this college in the year 2007-08, approval for extension of the institute for the year 2008-09, increase in intake of seats for 2008-09, approval of the extension of institute for the year 2008-09 and approval of intake in seats for the year 2009-10 with intention to harass and for ulterior considerations.

A case under sections 120-B of the IPC read with 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 has been registered and searches are on at the residential and official premises of all accused.

Plagued with corruption

H. Rai, AICTE adviser was earlier under scrutiny of his previous employer Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University for allegedly manipulating his son’s marks in an entrance exam. Also, current AICTE chief RA Yadav, formerly acting chairman, was reportedly facing vigilance enquiry for taking salary from AICTE and pension from his old employer Delhi University.

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No shift in our stand on climate change: Ramesh
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that there was no “major change” in India’s stand on climate change negotiations. “I don’t think there has been any deviation. There is nothing to fear,” Ramesh said on indications that India may have softened its earlier, absolutely non-negotiable, stand of no caps on emission targets at the recently concluded G8 summit.

In the summit declaration, India accepted that all countries would work towards reducing emissions to prevent global temperatures from rising more than two degree centigrade above the pre-industrial levels, which was interpreted as a change in India’s stand that it would be willing to accept carbon emission caps.

Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also said India and China were under tremendous pressure to concede to caps on emission targets.

On India’s stand regarding reduction of emissions, the Prime Minister said: “We are not able to undertake quantified emission reduction targets but we are also quite clear that as citizens of the global economy we have an obligation to do our bit to control emissions and therefore all countries have an obligation to be prepared to depart from business as usual. 

In my own statement I said we are quite alive to the dangers of climate change; in fact we recognise climate change is already taking place…. We recognise our responsibility to do more by way of mitigation as well as by way of adaptation.”

When asked about the perceived change in India’s stand, Ramesh said: “There is no major deviation… G8, G20 are part of the negotiating process but actual negotiations take place elsewhere,” he said. The Environment Minister stressed that India had a clear position that it would take no legally binding emission reduction targets. Our Prime Minister has already announced that India’s per capita emission would never cross that of developed countries, he added.

India has reiterated time and again that it would not sign any treaty that legally binds it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country’s stand is that development must remain at the centre of the global discourse and action on climate change must enhance and not diminish prospects for development.

It (action on climate change) must not sharpen the division of the world between an affluent north and an impoverished south and justify this with a green label.

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Swine Flu 
Panic grips Hyderabad’s IT industry
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 16
A sense of panic has gripped the software industry in Hyderabad following growing number of swine flu cases. With 35 positive cases being reported so far, the city accounts for the highest incidence of H1N1 influenza in the country.

A majority of them are either software professionals returning to the city from abroad after overseas assignments or those who have been infected by the techies.

Such is the scare among the booming IT sector that a large number of employees from software companies are thronging Government Chest Hospital, the nodal centre for swine flu, every day to undergo screening tests.

The panic button was first pressed by Google, the global internet search company, which shut down its office here for two days to enable its staff to undergo screening. This triggered a chain reaction with several IT companies, big and small, granting leaves to their employees and advising them to rush for medical check-up.

Fear is palpable among the employees at Hi-Tec City area, the hub of the technology companies. After one of Google employees was tested positive, another leading company ‘MindTree Consulting’ reported that one of its staffer tested positive for the deadly virus.

"During the last 3 days, doctors have conducted awareness workshops for MindTree Minds in the Hyderabad office. So far, no new cases have been detected. MindTree continues to monitor the situation closely," the company said in a statement.

Wipro, which has a development center here, has asked its employees returning from overseas assignments to directly go for medical screening and report to work only after two days.

All the software companies have circulated emails to their staffers giving details of Swine Flu and travel guidelines. They have also prepared contingency plans to ensure safety of their employees.

The city is one of the most favoured IT destinations in the country and is home for over 350 software companies, employing about two lakh people.

“At any given point of time, hundreds of software professionals will be travelling abroad on assignments. Information alerts have been sent about swine flu virus and the precautionary measures,” an official of the Hyderabad Software Exporters Association said.

Following the scare, the Hyderabad District Medical and Health Officer Ch Jaya Kumari conducted a counseling session for the techies.

“There is no need for panic. The best immediate response will be to maintain good hygiene and ask the sick employees to stay at home,” the Coordinator of the Swine Flu Nodal Center here Dr K Subhakar said.

He said the people were in such a state of panic that they were rushing to the screening centre even if they have common cold or fever. Several employees of the software firms have started wearing masks at the workplaces.

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14-day judicial custody for Bahuguna
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 16
UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi was today remanded in 14-day judicial custody by Moradabad Chief Judicial Magistrate Prashant Kumar in the case registered against her for her alleged derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.

Bahuguna had been booked under Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 153-A (promoting enmity between groups on grounds of grounds of religions caste etc), 504 (intentional insult to provoke rioting), 505 (2) (causing public alarm) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the IPC.

She also faced charges under 3 (1) X of SC ST Act (intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of SC ST in any place within public view) and the Seven Law Criminal Amendment Act. The case was registered at the Majhaula police station in Moradabad.

Notably, a little after midnight a mob of masked hooligans shouting pro-Mayawati slogans set ablaze Joshi’s house in the state capital’s high security VIP zone. And moments before the bungalow was torched, she had been arrested just around midnight at Vijay Nagar in Ghaziabad while she was on her way to Delhi. She was taken to the Moradabad Police Lines.

In the spacious drawing room of this bungalow set amidst lush green lawns all that remains is an undamaged copper idol of Goddess Saraswati playing the Veena and a bust of Hanuman on the mantelpiece. Even the floor tiles have cracked and got loosened by the heat. The ceiling fans are twisted pieces of steel. The house was completely burnt and jewellery and cash worth lakhs of rupees are reportedly missing.

The UPCC president’s reportedly derogatory remarks against chief minister Mayawati in the context of the paltry sum of money (Rs, 25,000) being offered by the state government as compensation to Dalit rape victims by the DGP who travels to the spot by chopper spending lakhs on fuel seems to have landed her in trouble.

Sensing trouble ahead, Joshi had immediately issued a clarification saying that she had been quoted out of context and that she was ready to apologise if she had hurt the Chief Minister’s feelings. The damage, however, was done.

Soon after the arrest in Ghaziabad, a police team visited her house at Sarojini Naidu Marg and rounded up all the servants. One maidservant, Munni managed to hide inside the house and escaped police action. After that, a mob of around 70-80 men covering half their faces with ‘gamachas’ broke into the compound armed with petrol cans, iron rods and sticks.

They went berserk, breaking down everything before sprinkling petrol and throwing a matchstick to set every room ablaze," said a stunned Munni who witnessed it hidden at a vantage point. Four vehicles parked in the compound were the first to be set ablaze.

The Hussainganj police have registered an unnamed FIR and five persons have been detained for interrogation. The police refused to disclose the identity of the persons detained in the matter. They are reportedly all persons belonging to the Hussainganj area. In the afternoon, the detained servants were released. Incidentally, the local media, which received information about the incident through anonymous phone calls, reached the spot before the police. The police came in only after all the masked men had safely left. 

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Cong regrets Joshi’s utterances
Dwivedi accuses Maya of engineering attack on her house
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The Congress has regretted the indiscreet utterances of the UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, even as it tried to make political capital out of ensuing incidents. The party on Thursday expressed explicit regret over “the personal element in references to Utter Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in” Joshi’s remarks.

AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi also said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed political incidents in Uttar Pradesh as “very unfortunate” and expressed “deep pain and anguish” over turn of events in Utter Pradesh.

Flanked by senior party leaders Digvijay Singh and Shakeel Ahmed, Dwivedi said the Congress held all women in highest esteem and did not believe in crossing limits of sobriety even in most provocative circumstances.

But apparently the grand old party is also not too much uncomfortable with dramatic developments in Utter Pradesh that have led to polarization in the state political arena between the Congress and the BSP, reducing other parties like the BJP and the SP to margin.

Reading out a party statement vetted obviously by the Congress President, Dwivedi said the party regretted the personal element in reference to Maywati in Joshi’s statement. But as he termed Joshi’s statements unacceptable, he also accused the Utter Pradesh government of acting highhandedly against political opponents.

“Atrocities against women, especially those belonging to weaker sections, need to be addressed effectively by the UP government without delay,” Dwivedi said while accusing Mayawati of engineering the attack on Joshi’s house.

He alleged that the Mayawati government had sponsored attack on Joshi`s house and denied allegations that Congress cadres were involved in the act. “It is wrong to say Congress cadres were involved. The media had been informed?the police was also there. Moreover, a BSP worker has been named in the FIR,” he said.

He also denied that Joshi would be sacked, adding that the party would first seek an explanation from her about her comments. Dwivedi said: “She is in jail ?after listening to her we will take a decision.”

In all, while the Congress dissociated itself with Bahuguna’s offensive remarks saying that the UPCC chief could have expressed herself without saying “those words”, it accused the UP chief minister Mayawati of being vindictive.

Political observers have described it all as an act of “fine balancing” carried out by the grand old party. They say with one stroke the party achieved the aim of emerging as Mayawati’s first challenger in Uttar Pradesh.

“Joshi could not have made such a statement on her own. Moreover, because of incidents in the past 24 hours, it now appears that there are only two parties on the UP political scene. By disassociating with Joshi’s remarks the Congress has also managed to marginalize the BJP,” they add.

What purpose the entire exercise achieved only time will tell but for now the Congress has successfully managed to position itself as Mayawati’s sole challenger in Utter Pradesh, marginalising the BJP and the SP to fringes, they say.

Publicly, however the party refused to acknowledge any political fallout, negative or positive, from the situation. “The Congress has been fighting for Dalit” causes since 1920s. We will continue our fight whether we get support or not. We are committed toward socio-economic development of dalits and that is non-negotaible,” Digvijay Singh said.

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Rising Prices
Centre sends advisory to states
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The Congress on Tuesday admitted that soaring prices of essential commodities was a matter of deep concern and an advisory had been sent to the states to act fast and get them under control.

“Rising prices of essential commodities is a cause of concern for every government. The mechanism to bring the prices under control lies under the domain of state governments. However, the Centre has sent an advisory to the states on the matter, ” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.

Speculation by wholesale traders was responsible for the price-hike, he said, adding that these traders were hoarding stocks in order to gain profits.

The retail prices of pulses have moved up by 10-50 per cent over the past fortnight. In some markets, the cost of “tur” has surged by 45 per cent to more than Rs 90 per kg, “urad whole” by 36 per cent to Rs 90 per kg, and ‘moong dal” by 10 per cent to Rs 74 per kg. In some Delhi markets, pulses were reportedly being sold at over Rs 100 per kg.

Traders suspect that “Chana” prices would rise to Rs 100-150 within the next 15 days, following higher international prices, lower supply and delayed monsoon.

As per the crop weather watch report released by the Agriculture Ministry on Friday, there has been improvement in pulses’ acreage as on July 10 in comparison with the previous week. However, this is almost 60 per cent less at 12.5 lakh hectare than the 30.9 lakh hectare acreage in the corresponding period last year.

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Rain expected in rice, cotton belt by July 20
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Widespread rains within a couple of days have been predicted for the country’s key rice and cotton regions. In its forecast issued yesterday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated that active monsoon condition was likely to continue with the formation of a low pressure area over northwest Bay of Bengal and widespread rainfall activity was likely over the west coast, central India, east and northwest India, starting somewhere between July 18 and 20.

However, for the next 48 hours and till July 18, the forecast is not positive for Punjab and Haryana where the IMD expects feeble, patchy rains.

Punjab and Haryana, where a deficient monsoon has forced paddy farmers to switch over to premium grades that require less irrigation, are among the worst-hit areas in the country with more than 50 per cent rainfall deficiency.

As per the IMD, of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions in the country, rainfall is either excess or normal in 11 and deficient or scanty in 25 sub-divisions.

IMD officials say rain or thundershowers are expected at many places over Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and east Rajasthan in the northwest till tomorrow.

“Rain or thundershowers are likely at a few places over the rest of the region but not much rains are expected in Punjab and Haryana till around July 20, after which situation may improve,” says IMD Director SC Bhan.

The northwest include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Punjab, Haryana, east and west Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Widespread rains have been predicted in the next 48 hours in central India, which will help soybean cultivation.

This has been the worst monsoon period in the country in past many decades and the success of the UPA government’s crucial Food Security Bill is hinged upon the performance of monsoon rains this year.

So, while the government continues to give an optimistic picture, thanks to the fact that it has accumulated food stocks of nearly 48 million tonne, there is a contingency plan ready to be rolled out.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday said India had a contingency plan ready if annual monsoon rains remained below normal. He assured that the government was monitoring the situation and there was no need to panic.

The IMD expects rains to pick up in the near future, and is sticking to its forecast of a cumulative shortfall of only 8 per cent from its Long Period Average (LPA) for this year. Between June 1 and July 9, cumulative seasonal rainfall for the country as a whole is now 34 per cent below the LPA as compared to last week when it was deficient by 43 per cent. 

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Every tenth foreign visitor overstaying illegally
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Each year several people from several countries are staying back illegally in India. The Home Ministry has given details in Parliament about the increasing numbers of nationals of other countries who are illegally overstaying in the country. It said about 10 per cent of those coming to India stay back without valid visas.

The Ministry said although a few of these foreigners were arrested and later deported, a large proportion of them continued to illegally reside in the country. It added the figures were only for those who came on valid visas and did not relate to those who walk through the porous borders with Bangladesh and Mayanmar.

The figures revealed that of the 50,96,990 foreign visitors to India, who came on valid visas in 2007, 53,945 had stayed beyond the limit of the visa. During the same year about 12,535 foreigners were arrested for overstaying and another 13,348 were deported. The numbers of arrested and deported might not be of the people who came in 2007 and could be of previous years.

Under the Foreigners Act, 1946 a foreign national who has overstayed in first arrested and then serves a sentence in prison before he/she is deported.

According to the ministry, in 2006 a total of 49, 945 foreigners over-stayed while another 25,610 had overstayed in 2005. The figures for both years are in the range of 8-10 per cent of the total arrivals in these two years.

The Ministry said the highest number of foreign visitors who had overstayed were from Bangladesh. Even nationals from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, UK, Indonesia, Kenya and China tend to stay on illegally, it added.

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Hillary’s visit to India
Question mark over defence pact
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Just a day before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in New Delhi on a five-day visit, an end-user verification agreement, which will pave way for sensitive and high-end military equipment from the USA, is under question. The Ministry of Defence wants that India’s concerns are addressed in totality.

Sources in the ministry said today: “It is likely that the process to formally sign the agreement will be delayed. However, a significant progress has been made in the framing of the draft.”

Another source pointed out: “The agreement is on the agenda but there is no surety over it getting inked during Hillary’s visit”.

For all you know, the agreement could be amended further to accommodate Indian concerns. The ministry had protested against certain clauses in the draft.

Last month, the ministry had shot down a proposal of the US government, which said it was mandatory under the US laws to have inspections of sensitive military equipment to prevent misuse. Armed forces said “intrusive inspections” at forward areas or bases would be impossible.

The US was also conveyed about political sensitivities of allowing any such inspection at a forward base where the equipmnet is likely to be based. It is likely that the US will agree for inspections at mutually convenient location and that, too, on specific issues.

India buys equipment from other countries but only offers an undertaking to prevent “misuse”.

Separately, India wants a standard text of the agreement that is appended to all future deals. The text should be “frozen” and not be changed as per the future amendments to the US laws. The standard format of the text is almost complete and it has been fine-tuned to suit both countries, informed sources said.

The US is aiming to sell several critical items to India like fighter airplanes, transport planes and armoured choppers. All future defence supplies from the US hinge on the agreement.

The basic concern of the US with regard to the critical defence equipment it sells to India is that it should be used only for the purpose of armed forces operations, internal security, legitimate self-defence and civic action.

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Cong calls for Bengal bandh today
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 16
Congressmen retaliated against yesterday’s attack on party MLAs by CPI(M) workers in Mongolkot in Burdwan by burning buses, taxis, police jeeps and other vehicles. Workers of both the Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) staged violent demonstrations in the city and elsewhere in the state.

In many instances they clashed with the police who burst tear gas shells in at least five places and resorted to ‘lathi charges’ for controlling the mobs.

The Congress and TMC have jointly called a 12-hour dawn to dusk ‘Bangla bandh’ (Bengal shutdown) tomorrow as a mark of protest against the attack on the Congress MLAs. The latter, led by Manash Bhuiya, had gone to Mongolkot yesterday for distributing relief materials among those affected by cyclone Aila in Dhanyarukhi village.

Bhuiya alleged in the state assembly today there had been an attempt by CPI(M) cadres to kill the MLAs when they visited Mongolkot. “The police didn’t protect us and we had to flee to save ourselves,” he claimed. He stated he had phoned the chief minister from the trouble spot for help “but it proved to be of no use’.

He demanded the CM’s resignation and also sought the intervention by the central government in the state administration. Both the Congress and TMC MLAs soon staged a walkout in protest against the incident.

Criticising the police’s role in the matter, assembly Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim said the district administration had failed miserably in protecting the visiting MLAs’ delegation.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee regretted the incident and said those guilty would be firmly dealt with. “However, we should also ascertain if there was any provocation from Congress party workers”, he added.

He told the Assembly he had already spoken to Home Minister P Chidambaram as well as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the incident and had assured them the state government would take necessary steps for protection of MLAs. He added according to preliminary reports no CPI(M) worker was involved in 
the incident.

State CPI(M) secretary Biman Bose denied his party’s cadres were involved. He said an inquiry had been ordered into the incident, adding if any CPI(M) men were involved the party’s district committee would take appropriate action against them.

There were demonstrations against the incident in many places in the state, with protesters blocking roads and rail tracks. High court lawyers took out a protest march near the legislative assembly building and demanded Bhattacharjee’s resignation.

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Ragging: Andhra to de-recognise colleges 
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 16
In a bid to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court guidelines on prevention of ragging, the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to de-recognise colleges and even arrest college authorities if they fail to take action against incidents of ragging.

The college managements will be held responsible for any incident of ragging involving students, state Chief Secretary P Ramakanth Reddy said.

“No incident of ragging, whether mild or serious, should be allowed in colleges and hostels. If necessary, the government will not hesitate to arrest the authorities and de-recognise colleges in which ragging takes place,” he said.

The government has also asked the professional colleges to appoint psychologists to counsel students and parent-teacher committees to prevent ragging.

The state Minister for Higher Education D Sridhar Babu also suggested introduction of a chapter on ragging as part of curriculum at the 10+2 level to spread awareness about the social menace.

“We will take any instance of ragging very seriously,” the state Director General of Police SSP Yadav said.

The government also issued instructions to circulate the Supreme Court guidelines on ragging to all colleges in the state.

Some colleges in Hyderabad have already formed anti- ragging cells to carry out awareness campaigns and protest marches against ragging. “We will ensure that all colleges follow the Supreme Court guidelines in letter and spirit,” chairman of AP Council for Higher Education KC Reddy said.

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Chennai under heavy security cover
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 16
Information technology (IT) parks, railway stations and temples here have come under tight security following intelligence alerts that Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was planning to carry out attacks in the city.

The reports said there was a possibility of an attack on major railway stations and IT firms in Chennai similar to the Mumbai terror attack on November 26 last. The alert was sounded based on a disclosure by a militant arrested in Jammu recently.

The police has asked securitymen in IT venues to intensify checks and get detailed information of the visitors. Following the alert, multi-pronged security arrangements have been made at vital installations across the state, and security has been beefed up in coastal areas.

All checkposts along the border have been alerted and the district police headquarters have been sounded a high alert to ensure tight security.

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Brain haemorrhage treated without surgery
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 16
A private hospital in Madurai has successfully performed a non-surgical intervention procedure on a 79-year-old person who was admitted with brain haemorrhage.

The patient, Balasubramaniyam, was brought in a semi-consciousness state to Vadamalayan Hospital about 20 days ago when he complained of giddiness, headache and vomiting. 

After diagnosis the patient was found to have Sub-Arachnoid Haemorrhage. The team of doctors inlcuding neurologists decided to go for a procedure called “coiling”.

Dr C Justin, neurologist, working in the hospital said, “Medicated platinum oils were guided to the blood vessel in brain where there was a bleeding. After taking a CT scan, it was found that there was a rupture on a blood vessel that was supplying blood to important areas of brain and hence the new procedure was tried”.

This was a non-surgical procedure done through a small needle prick in the groin and passing endovascular catheter into the blood vessel, he said and added that it took eight hours and further leakage was prevented.

Dr Justin said the Madurai-based patient was now normal and able to walk as he had recovered through neuro intensive care and support services like physiotherapy.

Dr D Senthil Kumar, neuro anaesthetist, said the new procedure was safe and did not have the associated risks of doing a conventional surgical treatment. The neuro radiologist, AL Periyakaruppan, said each platinum coil cost about Rs.30,000.

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BJP sides with BSP
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The BJP responded quickly to what it considers objectionable comments against UP Chief Minister Mayawati made by UPCC president Rita Bahugna Joshi, joining ranks with the BSP in Parliament today. The party’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said later: “The UP Congress chief’s comments against Mayawati are not only unfortunate but shameful. In her attempt to instigate political rivalry she even forgot to respect womanhood,” she said.

However, Swaraj did not appear to have the backing of all BJP members on the matter. That party leaders were in a quandary was clearly evident in the reaction of its vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who stated: "The BJP neither approves the Joshi’s speech nor the vehement reaction by the BSP. What it is concerned about is that the real issues are not being addressed. This incident is not for the welfare or security of the ‘dalits’ but a mock fight between the Congress and the BSP in their clamour for their votes”.

Similalry, BJP MP from Aonla Maneka Gandhi reacted to the news of Joshi’s arrest by demanding the Mayawati government’s dismissal. "The time has come for dismissal of the UP government. In my constituency about 50 political workers are detained every week. I’ve never witnessed a situation like this in the country before," she said.

BJP members fully supported the BSP’s protest to the Congress on Joshi’s comments.

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Rajasthan Assembly stalemate ends
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 16
The three-day deadlock prevailing in the Rajasthan Assembly over the ruling party members and former CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia making some ‘derogatory’ remarks against each other finally ended today.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Leader of Opposition Raje made the statements on the floor of the House with the former expressing regret on the incident that stalled the proceedings of the Assembly for three crucial days of debate on the state budget.

Gehlot said none of the MLAs intended to bring the state legislature’s business to halt and whatever happened was not intentional. He hoped that the legislators will take a lesson from the episode and will not allow it to recur in future.

Raje, in her statement, said she was all for smooth business of the House. “I’m ready to tolerate humiliation for the sake of the people of Rajasthan,” she said, adding that the BJP will continue to raise the issues of public interest in the Assembly.

The stalemate started on Monday when during the debate on state budget Minister of State for Information and Public Relations Ashok Bairwa said, “People used to search for the Chief Minister (Raje) after 8 pm during the BJP rule.” Congress MLA Raghu Sharma also joined him and added, “There was no CM after 8 pm during their tenure.”

Meanwhile, late in the evening, the Assembly again witnessed uproarious scenes, as the BJP MLAs accused Congress MLA Pratap Singh Khachriawas of using unparliamentary language on the floor of the House.

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BRIEFLY

Hyderabad to host newspaper congress
Hyderabad:
The 62nd conference of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), the largest annual international gathering of newspaper executives and editors, will be held here from November 30 to December 3. This is the first time that the prestigious event, 2009 World Newspaper Congress, is being held in India. Coinciding with the conference, the 16th World Editors Forum will also be organised at the Hitex grounds here. The main theme of the 2009 World Newspaper Congress will be ‘Newspapers: A Multi-Media, Growth Business’. The participants will examine success strategies employed by leading global news enterprises. — TNS

Army chief to visit USA
New Delhi:
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor will be on a five-day official visit to the USA from July 20. The purchase of new military equipment and the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy will be a part of discussion during the visit. The visit of the Army chief comes at a time when there is a consensus from both sides to take the strategic partnership to a higher level. This is seen as an effort to combat the scourge of global terrorism and to bring peace and stability in the region. The discussions will delve upon the Indo-US defence cooperation and to include joint training and exercises, exchanges and military equipment cooperation. — TNS

Shiney’s custody extended
MUMBAI:
The judicial custody of Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja, arrested for allegedly raping his domestic maid, was extended till July 30 by a local court here on Thursday. Shiney, who is presently lodged at the Arthur Road jail in central Mumbai, was produced before the Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate through video conferencing. The sessions court had earlier rejected his bail application after which his lawyer said they were likely to approach the Bombay High Court. — PTI

Bomb threat
NAVI MUMBAI:
Searches were conducted on Thursday at Vashi’s Raghuleela mall here after receiving a bomb threat call, the police said. The mall officials received a call at around 11.30 am stating that an explosive device has been placed there, it said. The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad had reached the spot but nothing had been found so far, the police added. — PTI

French navy helps free Indian boat
New Delhi:
The Indian and French navies have helped free a small boat with 14 Indians on board that was hijacked by Somalian pirates last week, an official said here on Thursday. The small boat was hijacked by the pirates off the Somalian coast on Friday and was freed on Wednesday after a joint operation by the two navies, the official said. The Somalian pirates carrying rocket propelled grenades and AK-47s hijacked the Indian boat about 10 nautical miles off Boosaaso in the waters of the Gulf of Aden. The vessel had discharged its cargo at the Somali harbour and was proceeding to Dubai. — IANS

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