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Cong ultimatum to Maya
Wants CBI probe into arson at Rita Bahuguna’s Lucknow house
Lucknow, July 25
A public function to felicitate the newly elected Congress MPs from the state became an occasion to hit out at the Mayawati government and reiterate the party’s demand for a CBI inquiry into the burning down of the UPCC president Rita Bahuguan Joshi’s house.

Soldiers who died on UN duty
CAG raps defence ministry for delay in payments to kin
New Delhi, July 25
Pointing to a “lackadaisical” attitude of the Ministry of Defence, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has sent out a shocker. Babus in the ministry have been sitting on compensation payments to families of soldiers who died doing the UN duty. The UN had paid up but delays have been for several years at the ministry level.


EARLIER STORIES


THE TRIBUNE
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50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


Security personnel get ready for their operation against Maoists in Purulia, West Bengal, on Saturday.
MISSION RED: Security personnel get ready for their operation against Maoists in Purulia, West Bengal, on Saturday. — PTI

10 years of Vijay Divas, just one govt function 
New Delhi, July 25
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay homage to soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil conflict in 1999 at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate tomorrow, the government seems to have cold shouldered the nations aspirations of celebrating 10 years of the hard-earned victory in Kargil.

Gates first business leader to get Indira prize
New Delhi, July 25
As he became the first business leader in the world today to receive the coveted Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, Microsoft founder Bill Gates assured India of full future cooperation in the fields of HIV/AIDS control, new vaccines and reduction of maternal and infant mortality. Partnership is also on the cards in sanitation and agriculture, he said.

Nutrition schemes to be reviewed annually 
New Delhi, July 25
With international pressure building on India to deliver on the Millennium Development Goal of fighting poverty and hunger, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he would personally review the progress of country’s nutrition programmes every year.

CJI for law on declaration of assets by HC judges
Chennai, July 25
Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan today favoured bringing in a law making it mandatory for judges of higher courts to declare their assets and liabilities.

Engineer’s murder: Cop put behind bars
Lucknow, July 25
Absconding Sub-Inspector Hoshiyar Singh, one of the accused in the sensational murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya last December, was finally arrested today.

Molestation Case
Top brass of Patna police shifted
Patna, July 25
Taking a serious exception to the molestation and stripping of a woman on a busy street of the state capital a couple of days ago, the state government today gave marching orders to all the senior officers of Patna police.

Left, SP, RJD drawing closer
New Delhi, July 25
The rift among the Left, RJD and SP, which developed towards the end of the last UPA government, appears to be narrowing down, though rather tentatively.

20 dists in UP drought-hit 
Lucknow, July 25
In view of less than 40 per cent rainfall and less than 50 per cent sowing of kharif crops, the Mayawati government today decided to declare 20 of the 71 districts in the state as drought affected.

Spurious liquor claims 4 lives
Guwahati, July 25
At least four persons died and nine others fell ill after they allegedly consumed country-made liquor in an illicit liquor shop at Chakihat area in the outskirt of Jorhat city in eastern Assam last night even as the district administration ordered an inquiry.

IAF gets 4 Cheetal copters
Bangalore, July 25
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today handed over the first batch of four Cheetal helicopters to the Indian Air Force.

PM launches N-sub today
Hyderabad, July 25
The north coastal Andhra Pradesh is set to emerge as one of the strategic defence hubs in the country with the first indigenously-built nuclear submarine being launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Visakhapatnam tomorrow.

Cop wanted in Xen murder case held
Lucknow, July 25
Absconding Sub-Inspector Hoshiyar Singh, one of the accused in the sensational murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya last December, was finally arrested today.

MNS activists held for minor’s rape
Mumbai, July 25
Four activists said to belong to Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) were arrested here Saturday on charges of gang-raping a minor girl working as a maid servant, police said. The four — Ganesh Gatkar, Ganesh Kale, Narendra Salunkhe and Umesh Borade -- were produced before a magistrate in Andheri court and remanded in police custody till July 28, the police said. — IANS

Muthalik arrested
Belgaum, July 25
Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, who stirred a controversy with an attack on pub goers in Mangalore by his activists, has been arrested again on charges of making inflamatory speeches during communal riots in Mysore and remanded in judicial custody till August 7. Muthalik (46) was arrested on Friday night. — IANS






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Cong ultimatum to Maya
Wants CBI probe into arson at Rita Bahuguna’s Lucknow house
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 25
A public function to felicitate the newly elected Congress MPs from the state became an occasion to hit out at the Mayawati government and reiterate the party’s demand for a CBI inquiry into the burning down of the UPCC president Rita Bahuguan Joshi’s house.

“We have issued an ultimatum to the Mayawati government that if it does not order a CBI probe by July 31, the party would take to the streets by launching a “jail bharo’ campaign from August 1”, declared AICC general secretary and UP in-charge Digvijay Singh here today.

Amidst cries of “shame shame”, Singh alleged that the arson and fire was a state-sponsored attack by the BSP workers under police protection at the behest of the chief minister.

Addressing upbeat workers and office-bearers, Singh told them that there was no scope to rest on one’s laurels. “The challenge on which we have to focus is the 14 assembly and one Lok Sabha bypoll and then the 2012 assembly elections through which the Congress has to return to power.”

He also urged the five central ministers from the state to not just focus on their ministries but take time out to extensively travel across the state listening to public grievances and monitor if the benefit of the central government schemes were reaching the end user.

Senior party leaders and MPs called for a decisive battle against the Mayawati government and asked party workers to pull up their socks and be prepared to face hardships and harassment from the ruling party.

UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said the unprecedented victory of the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections had proved that the days of caste and regional politics were over. “It is the success of the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Now people demand development and look for action and not just soothing words”.

Reiterating her charge of the Mayawati government diverting central funds, she said she was waiting for the while paper promised by the CM on the issue.

Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari demanded more powers for the elected Congress MLAs in the state to monitor the alleged misuse of central funds.

According to him, the recent Lok Sabha elections had shown that Mayawati had lost the mandate of the people and therefore should seek a fresh mandate.

Other newly elected MPs including central minister Salman Khurshid, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, Jiten Prasada and Pradeep Jain ‘Aditya’ spoke of their personal victories as the triumph of the common Congress worker whom they urged to be ready for the battle ahead.

The MPs pledged to free the people from the tyranny of the BSP government but insisted that they would use only democratic means to get the BSP out of power.

Earlier, Digvijay Singh, along with two central ministers visited the burnt house of the UPCC president where Bahuguna Joshi showed them the remnants of the attack.

Around 15 of the 21 newly elected Congress MPs attended the felicitation function where they were honoured with a citation and a shawl. Former UPCC presidents were also among those honored on the occasion.

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Soldiers who died on UN duty
CAG raps defence ministry for delay in payments to kin
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Pointing to a “lackadaisical” attitude of the Ministry of Defence, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has sent out a shocker. Babus in the ministry have been sitting on compensation payments to families of soldiers who died doing the UN duty. The UN had paid up but delays have been for several years at the ministry level.

Separately, the Indian Air Force was paid less for sending choppers for UN missions, said the CAG, pegging the total loss at Rs 245 crore.

The CAG in its report yesterday had also pointed to a delay in acquiring trainer jets for pilots. In its absence, the IAF lost 259 frontline fighters to crashes, as it did not have adequate numbers of training aircrafts. Of these, 101 accidents occurred due to human error. The delay in acquiring advanced jet trainers was for 22 years but the CAG studied crashed between 1992 and 2003. These cost the exchequer thousands of crores.

On the UN peacekeeping missions, the CAG says since 1950 India has lost over 100 troops in 43 UN peacekeeping missions. A sum of $50,000 as one-time lump sum compensation was received from the UN in time, however, the ministry held back the payments for no reason.

It also noted that there were 36 casualties and 17 disability cases of Indian soldiers in UN peacekeeping missions between 1990 and 2007. The payment to families of 20 soldiers, who died during 1990-95, was released by the government after the delay of 12 to 17 years, said the CAG, as it highlighted the plight of the families who have suffered.

The CAG further revealed that in six cases during 2000-01 where soldiers died, payments were released after five to seven years and when payments were made they were without interest.

The UN, the report noted, had reimbursed $1.8 million to India relating to 53 casualties among its troops between November 1995 and March 2008. Pointing to more faults, the CAG said India entered into five agreements with the UN between July 2003 and October 2005 for deploying 17 utility and eight attack helicopters for UN missions in Sudan and Congo, of which the costs of operating the respective choppers was agreed at $2,100 and $2,950, respectively, per flying hour.

The shocker was that the actual costs of operating the choppers were $2,496 and $6,132, respectively, per flying hour, the CAG report said. Thus, the reimbursement was lower by Rs 205 crore, the report said. Indian soldiers have been getting less allowance while the ministry did not factor in hidden costs relating to the training of troops for three to six months.

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10 years of Vijay Divas, just one govt function 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay homage to soldiers who laid down their lives during the Kargil conflict in 1999 at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate tomorrow, the government seems to have cold shouldered the nations aspirations of celebrating 10 years of the hard-earned victory in Kargil.

The PM will be laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti before he flies off to Vishakapatnam to launch the first indigenous nuclear submarine. He will be accompanied by Defence Minister AK Antony and also the chiefs of the two services --- Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, sources in the Defence Ministry confirmed said. This will be the only function of the government slated for the day.

July 26 is celebrated as Vijay Divas to mark the Kargil victory. The Army is conducting two-day celebrations at the war memorial at Drass where former and serving soldiers and officers have gathered.

The Army chief General Deepak Kapoor is slated to return from his US visit early tomorrow morning. He is expected to head straight to the war memorial. However, retired officers feel that someone from the government should be present at the Drass memorial, located at the base of the imposing Tiger Hill.

The ex-servicemen are also upset over the ‘shameless remarks’ made by Congress MP Rashid Alvi, who was quoted on a news channel saying: “Kargil isn’t a thing to be celebrated … It’s only the NDA, which may celebrate it.” A Tribune team visited the memorial late last month and found that people from far-off places like Darjeeling, Kolkatta, Ahemdabad and Hyderabad had come to pay homage to martyrs

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Gates first business leader to get Indira prize
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
As he became the first business leader in the world today to receive the coveted Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, Microsoft founder Bill Gates assured India of full future cooperation in the fields of HIV/AIDS control, new vaccines and reduction of maternal and infant mortality. Partnership is also on the cards in sanitation and agriculture, he said.

At a well-attended afternoon ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan’s resplendent Ashoka Hall, where President Pratibha Patil (she completed two years in office today) conferred him with the honour. Gates said he believed India could achieve all its major health goals over the next five years.

“This I say because you have two advantages to trigger advances in health- your ability to innovate and your realisation of the urgency of challenges which diseases pose,” said Gates, accepting the 2007 prize for Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As the 23rd recipient, he listed five priority areas for India: Eradicating polio, scaling up routine immunisation; developing new vaccines; protecting newborns and tackling malnutrition.

But Gates also had some words of caution, saying India must invest more in good data management and analysis systems to monitor the outcomes of public health programmes. He thought NRHM was a “good step forward”. That apart, the computer giant rubbished apprehensions of a pull out from India on account of delivery problems. “There is never going to be a perfect delivery, but we are glad that government investments, along with ours, have been increasing. We will help India create health management systems to measure monitorable outcomes,” he said.

Soon, the government will roll out pentavalent vaccines (in place of DPT) developed with help from the Gates Foundation, which is also helping India with vaccines for respiratory diseases. But Avahan, the Foundation’s HIV/AIDS prevention programme in India, remains the most significant of all, with Bill Gates increasing its funding by $80 million.

It’s an intervention Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also mentioned in his congratulatory speech for Gates today; he, like the President, also drew parallels between Indira Gandhi’s “banish poverty” dream, Gates Foundation’s objectives of equality and UPA’s priorities for the aam aadmi.

“Avahan has targeted 280,000 individuals from high-risk categories. Under our third National AIDS Control Programme, NACO has worked closely with the Gates Foundation while developing key interventions,” said the PM, happy that the prize has gone to a business leader who shared his wealth with others.

Sonia Gandhi, who addressed the gathering first as head of the Indira Gandhi Trust, admitted that Bill Gates had set India a challenge by being a successful businessman who could look beyond the bottomline to conduct philanthropy on the principles of modern management.

“Your work has given currency to the term venture philanthropy. Yours is an example we ought to emulate,” she said, admitting India was yet to produce a “truly visionary philanthropist”.

The PM strengthened her line, hoping India’s business leaders and the wealthy would learn to share their wealth with others by investing in education, health, care of the elderly and the disabled. He also summed up the day for everyone, especially Bill Gates, by saying: “Ancient Greeks said that all dreams pass through the gates of horn and ivory, but the gates of Bill and Melinda make the dreams of millions real.”

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Nutrition schemes to be reviewed annually 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
With international pressure building on India to deliver on the Millennium Development Goal of fighting poverty and hunger, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he would personally review the progress of country’s nutrition programmes every year.

“I will personally review the situation annually,” the PM today told The Tribune on the sidelines of the Indira Peace Prize distribution function. The recipient of the 2007 award Bill Gates, too, voiced his deep concern over India’s malnutrition challenge, and hoped proper policies would be put in shape to tackle the problem.

The PM, for his part, said improving nutrition standards in India remained a top priority of the UPA government. “The President’s address also lists this priority,” he said, adding that he had conducted a meeting of the ministers concerned to take nutrition policies forward.

Sources today told The Tribune that the National Nutrition Mission, chaired by the PM, could be recast soon. Set up in 2003 for policy direction and effective coordination of nutrition programmes being implemented by the government, the mission has not met so far this year.

“The pressure is now building up on the government to get serious about this subject,” said sources in the civil society, actively engaged with nutrition improvement efforts. 

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CJI for law on declaration of assets by HC judges

Chennai, July 25
Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan today favoured bringing in a law making it mandatory for judges of higher courts to declare their assets and liabilities.

Responding to queries on the proposed Judges Assets Bill, which is before the Cabinet, he said "we have been already doing it (declaring assets)... judges declare assets to the Chief Justice of India when they are appointed as judges. We want it to be made into a law".

Under the proposed bill, the high court judges will have to disclose their assets and liabilities before the Chief Justice of their respective high courts. The HC Chief Justices will send details of their assets to the CJI. — PTI 

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Engineer’s murder: Cop put behind bars
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 25
Absconding Sub-Inspector Hoshiyar Singh, one of the accused in the sensational murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya last December, was finally arrested today.

Singh, who had been running away for more than seven months, had been dismissed from service after his involvement in the murder of the PWD engineer became public.

Today he was reportedly arrested when he was planning to surrender before the Aurraiya court. BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari and his henchmen had beaten Gupta to death on December 24, 2008 when he reportedly refused to raise money for CM Mayawati’s birthday.

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Molestation Case
Top brass of Patna police shifted
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 25
Taking a serious exception to the molestation and stripping of a woman on a busy street of the state capital a couple of days ago, the state government today gave marching orders to all the senior officers of Patna police.

The entire lock stock and barrel in police administration of the capital town right from the Zonal IG to Range DIG, Senior SP, City SP, Traffic SP and Town Dy.SPs have been replaced with the instruction to hand over charge to the new incumbents this evening itself.

The state administration was under tremendous pressure from the opposition parties, various women organisations, including the National Women Commission, and of course the media to take stern action against the cops responsible for providing security to the people.

The incident had also given an opportunity to the opposition parties to attack the government by way of holding demonstrations on the streets, burning effigy of the chief minister and stall the proceedings in the state legislature. Finding itself on the back foot in the wake of media hype over this sensational incident, the state government had announced in the Assembly on Friday that stern action will be taken against all those responsible for providing security to the people.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had also described the incident as a ‘slur on civil society’.

Apparently, the government did not want to face the hostile opposition in the House on Monday over the same issue. Therefore, it decided to overhaul the entire police hierarchy of Patna even though it is a holiday in the state secretariat.

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Left, SP, RJD drawing closer
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
The rift among the Left, RJD and SP, which developed towards the end of the last UPA government, appears to be narrowing down, though rather tentatively.

The Left, which had cordial and fraternal relations with these two parties, had drifted away from them in the run up to its withdrawing support to the UPA government on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, following the RJD and SP’s endorsement of the deal and supporting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But all three suffered heavily during the last elections.

While the Left is sitting in the Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha, even the SP and RJD, which with their drastically reduced numbers are supporting the UPA-II government from outside, are not privy to any policy decisions of the government. Consequently, there is a visible attempt on their part to come together again.

Political observers feel that a formal realignment may take some time to happen, but they also feel that in days ahead, the RJD and SP will progressively become more critical of the government and again appear closer to the Left thinking.

Already, CPI leader D. Raja had stated that the Left planned to rope in the RJD, SP and TDP as well for its proposed agitation against the price rise. The RJD and SP have not stated whether they may join any agitation outside Parliament but inside the House they have already started speaking in the same voice as the Left.

Yesterday, when former Rural Development Minister and RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh spoke on the Finance Bill, veterans were reminded of his “fiery” speeches against the NDA government between 1999-2000 though he led just a four-member RJD then in the 13th Lok Sabha.

The camaraderie among the three was even more visible on July 21 when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna made a statement in the Lok Sabha on the end-user monitoring agreement . In spite of being in the UPA, SP MPs and the lone RJD MP in the House then Jagtanand Singh walked out of the House along with Left leaders. The NDA, too, walked out led by Leader of Opposition LK Advani, but separately.

There are issues coming up in the coming days, which may witness some floor coordination between all of them. For instance the EUMA issue, which is to be taken up on July 29.

But since the debate may include the Indo-Pak joint statement as well, the Left, SP and RJD may not oppose the government on this.

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20 dists in UP drought-hit 
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 25
In view of less than 40 per cent rainfall and less than 50 per cent sowing of kharif crops, the Mayawati government today decided to declare 20 of the 71 districts in the state as drought affected.

After a meeting, she directed massive relief operations to be launched in 20 districts. They are Mainpuri, Kanpur-Dehat, Bareilly, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Rae-Bareli, Fatehpur, Sultanpur, Hardoi, Basti, Kanshiram Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ballia, Unnao, Deoria, Mau, Ambedkar Nagar and Mahamaya Nagar (Hathras).

She also directed that the realisation of outstanding dues in these districts should be stayed till March 31, 2010, so that farmers are not harassed.

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Spurious liquor claims 4 lives
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 25
At least four persons died and nine others fell ill after they allegedly consumed country-made liquor in an illicit liquor shop at Chakihat area in the outskirt of Jorhat city in eastern Assam last night even as the district administration ordered an inquiry.

Sources informed that two of the persons died last night while two others died in hospital today. One of them died in a private hospital. Nine others fell ill, two of them seriously. The deceased were identified as Raju Deka, Bipin Bora, Sukan Tanti and Debeswar Tanti.

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IAF gets 4 Cheetal copters
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 25
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today handed over the first batch of four Cheetal helicopters to the Indian Air Force.

A press release issued by the HAL here today said N C Agarwal, director (Design and Development) handed over the helicopters to Air Vice Marshal M. Bahadur, Assistant Chief of Air Staff, IAF.

At a function at the Helicopter Division, Barrackpore, K. Tamil Mani, CE (CEMILAC), handed over the RSD to N. Seshadri, ED (RC), after which the helicopters were handed over to Air Vice Marshal M. Bahadur.

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PM launches N-sub today
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 25
The north coastal Andhra Pradesh is set to emerge as one of the strategic defence hubs in the country with the first indigenously-built nuclear submarine being launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Visakhapatnam tomorrow.

While the submarine, christened as INS Arihant, will provide strategic depth to Indian navy, the proposed unit of Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) near the coastal city will give fillip to nuclear research. The BARC facility at Achyutapuram will be the new regional centre of the country’s premier atomic research institute. It will also house the Homi Bhabha National Institute, a deemed university, offering undergraduate programmes in nuclear science.

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Cop wanted in Xen murder case held
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 25
Absconding Sub-Inspector Hoshiyar Singh, one of the accused in the sensational murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya last December, was finally arrested today.

Singh, who had been running away for more than seven months, had been dismissed from service after his involvement in the murder of the PWD engineer became public.

Today he was reportedly arrested when he was planning to surrender before the Aurraiya court. BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari and his henchmen had beaten Gupta to death on December 24, 2008 when he reportedly refused to raise money for CM Mayawati’s birthday.

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