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Thursday, February 25, 1999
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Gamang ministry
BHUBANESWAR, Feb 24 (PTI) — The eight-day-old Giridhar Gamang ministry in Orissa was expanded today with the induction of Mr Ganeswar Behera as a minister of state. Mr Behera, who represents the Pattamundai (SC) constituency in the state Assembly, was sworn in at a simple function at Raj Bhavan by acting Governor C. Rangarajan. With today's induction, the strength of the Congress ministry in Orissa has gone up to 27.

Lords reject reform
LONDON, Feb 24 (AFP) — The Tony Blair government today suffered a technical defeat over its plans to reform the House of Lords. At the end of the two-day debate on the issue, ministers moved to avoid being humiliated in a vote they were certain to lose by withdrawing Labour members of the Lords from the chamber in protest. By 193 to two the Lords voted for the independence and powers of Parliament to be increased and any significant cut in the powers of the Lords to be rejected.

Fishermen freed
KARACHI, Feb 24 (AFP) — Pakistan today released 13 Indian fishermen and their boats three days after a landmark summit aimed at improving relations, officials said. The fishermen, arrested last November after their boats strayed into Pakistani waters, had been languishing in a Karachi jail.

5 MCC men held
DALTONGUNJ (Bihar), Feb 24 (PTI) — Five activists of the outlawed Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) have been arrested after a fierce encounter with the police in Barnatola forest in extremist-hit Palamu district, the police said today. Police superintendent R.K. Singh said the encounter took place last night after the CISF and district armed police personnel, acting on a tip off, reached the spot where the MCC activists were planning to hold a "jan adalat".

Low intensity quake
NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (PTI) — An earthquake of slight intensity was felt in Haryana in the wee hours today. The earthquake, measuring 2.2 on the Richter scale, was recorded at 3.17 a.m., a Meteorological Department press note said here.

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Nadeem case
LONDON, Feb 24 (PTI) — The Bow Street Magistrate’s court will pronounce judgement on the extradition case of Bollywood music director Saifi Nadeem Akhtar tomorrow as it lifted daily police reporting restrictions on the musician, the prime accused in the murder of Gulshan Kumar. Magistrate Christopher Pratt, who had allowed Nadeem to withdraw his 100,000 bail security yesterday, reserved his ruling today on the strong plea made by defence lawyer Clive Nicholls that the main evidence submitted by crown prosecution service based on translated statements of main approver Mohd Ali Shaikh and others was not admissible under British law.

Bangla violence
DHAKA, Feb 24 (PTI) — At least three persons were killed and more than 100 injured in Bangladesh on the second day of municipal elections taking the death toll to six in two days of sporadic clashes triggered by the Opposition-sponsored three-day nationwide strike. The second day of strike was marked by bomb blasts, stone throwing and violent clashes between activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the ruling Awami League supporters as the police lobbed tear-gas shells to disperse violent mobs at various places, witnesses said.

AIIMS stir ends
NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (PTI) — Striking doctors of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will resume work from tomorrow, ending their 17-day indefinite strike following an undertaking given to this effect in the Delhi High Court this afternoon. The general secretary of the Faculty Association of the Institute, however, said the struggle was "far from over" and that the general body would again meet tomorrow, after the court pronounces its interim order, to decide on the future course of action.

2-day bank strike
NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (PTI) — Bank services all over the country will be crippled for two days from tomorrow following the decision of over 12.5 lakh workers to observe strike as the talks between the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) the Indian Banks Association IBA today failed. "The talks lasting over two hours between the UFBU and the IBA at Mumbai failed due to the rigid attitude of the IBA Chairman", Joint Secretary of the National Confederation of Bank Employees said.
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