Saturday, October 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India



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N A T I O N

Nityanand Swamy retained as CM
New Delhi, October 19
Top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders today decided to retain Mr Nityanand Swamy as the Chief Minister of Uttaranchal. It was learnt that Mr Swamy earned the reprieve when consensus eluded a meeting convened at the residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Move to install Naidu as BJP secy-general
New Delhi, October 19
Uneasy lies the party crown over BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthi’s head as the battle over the control of the party continues unabated with one camp making a move to install Rural Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu as secretary-general.





Press conference of the much awaited film Asoka was held in New Delhi today.
(28k, 56k)


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

 

 

Will India get its information act together?
W
E are living in extraordinarily tense days. An inexplicable sense of insecurity hangs in the air. The most unexpected incidents such as passenger planes transforming themselves into ‘kamikaze’ bombers have occurred. Ordinary letters have the potential to be messengers of the deadly anthrax.

Gallantry awards for 57 defence personnel
New Delhi, October 19
President K.R. Narayanan today decorated 57 armed forces personnel for gallantry and distinguished service at a glittering military investiture ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

The widow of a posthumous awardee breaks into tears during a Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday.— PTI Photo

Child labour projects to be extended to 33 districts
New Delhi, October 19
In a bid to eradicate child labour from the country, the Labour Minister has decided to extend the National Child Labour Project to 33 more districts and has asked the Planning Commission to allocate the remaining Rs 66 crore of the 9th Plan.

EARLIER STORIES

 

A city court in Kolkata has convicted four persons — a Bangladeshi, a Pakhtoon and two Indians — for spying and passing on Indian defence secrets to Pakistan's ISI.
(28k, 56k)

HC issues notice in Tehelka case
New Delhi, October 19
The Delhi High Court today issued a notice to the Central Government on a petition challenging the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Col Anil Sehgal on the basis of the Tehelka.Com tapes on defence deals.

Cong demands judicial probe into VHP action
New Delhi, October 19
The Congress today demanded immediate resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on moral grounds and a judicial probe into the violation of law by VHP leaders, who forcefully entered the disputed site in Ayodhya on Wednesday.

SC rejects plea on UP House dissolution
New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court today dismissed an interim application seeking directions to restrain the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal from functioning and stop the salaries and allowances to ministers and legislators in both the states, as the term of their Assemblies had expired.


An artisan from Kolkata, giving final touches to an idol of goddess Durga at Bangali Akhara in Patna on Friday prior to the Durga Puja festival. — PTI photo

SC for panels on custodial deaths
New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court today directed the human Rights Commissions of all states and union territories to constitute committees to monitor the implementation of its 11 directions regarding the prevention of custodial deaths, wrongful detentions and the mode of arrests.

Indo-Russian JWG concludes talks
New Delhi, October 19
India and Russia today concluded their two-day-long talks of the joint working group on Afghanistan with both countries agreeing that there were no bad or good terrorists, implying that the war against terrorism could not differentiate among terrorists. 

SC: try to make dying statement admissible
New Delhi, October 19
In a major judgement widening the scope of evidentiary value of dying declarations, the Supreme Court has ruled that the effort of trial courts should be how to bring such statements made by a victim on his death-bed within the scope of substantive evidence.

Rengaswami new Pondy CLP leader
Pondicherry, October 19
Public Works Minister in the outgoing Shanmugham Cabinet N. Rengaswami was today unanimously elected as leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the union territory of Pondicherry.

Secy-level appointments
New Delhi, October 19
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet today appointed Mr C. Gopal Reddy as Secretary in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.






 

Nityanand Swamy retained as CM

New Delhi, October 19
Top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders today decided to retain Mr Nityanand Swamy as the Chief Minister of Uttaranchal.

It was learnt that Mr Swamy earned the reprieve when consensus eluded a meeting convened at the residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The leadership was forced to continue with Mr Swamy at the helm for the elections to the state Assembly expected to be held in March next year.

What probably clicked in favour of Mr Swamy appears to be his announcement that he would retire from politics after the Assembly elections.

Home Minister L.K. Advani, former BJP chief and Uttaranchal in charge Kushabhau Thakre were among the leaders who took part in the deliberations.

Emerging out of the meeting, Mr Swamy and Mr Thakre said the leadership issue did not figure in the discussions. Mr Swamy had been maintaining that his meeting with the Prime Minister was at his own request and nobody had broached the subject of leadership change.

Mr Swamy ruled out change of leadership in Uttaranchal and said today’s meeting was confined to discussions regarding the first anniversary of the Foundation Day of Uttaranchal on November 9. Since Mr Vajpayee would be out of the country on a visit to the USA, Home Minister L.K. Advani would be the chief guest.

Mr Thakre, however, will undertake a three- day tour of the state from October 22 to assess the party’s organisational strength.

This is the third meeting on the issue held at the Prime Minister’s residence. During the meeting on last Tuesday, Mr Swamy was asked to stay back in the Capital since the leaders were proceeding to Chennai to attend the wedding of BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthy’s son.

Among the front runners to succeed Mr Swamy were Union Minister of state for Road Transport and Highways Major-Gen B.C. Khanduri, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K.C. Pant and Rajya Sabha Member Manohar K. Dhyani. But there was no consensus on any single leader and Mr Swamy’s announcement of his retirement tilted the balance in his favour. UNI

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Move to install Naidu as BJP secy-general
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
Uneasy lies the party crown over BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthi’s head as the battle over the control of the party continues unabated with one camp making a move to install Rural Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu as secretary-general.

Even as the party holds its national council meeting with leaders from all over the country assembling here on Sunday to celebrate 50 years of the founding of BJP’s earlier incarnation Bharatiya Jan Sangh, there is a resentment among the cadres over the reports that Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s camp is pushing for the return of Mr Naidu to the party fold.

The need for having Mr Naidu in the party has essentially arisen because Mr Krishnamurthi has often taken an independent line on issues like corruption and other moral matters.

The relationship between Mr Krishnamurthi and Mr Vajpayee, ever since he took over the reins of the party in the wake of the Tehelka expose when Mr Vajpayee’s nominee Bangaru Laxman had to step down, has not been very comfortable as the two never had a good rapport with each other.

When the party decided to change Chief Ministers in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and in Uttaranchal, Mr Krishnamurthi was only symbolically consulted and not seriously involved in the decision making, a senior leader told TNS.

The BJP President has been conspicuous by his absence in many of the Prime Minister’s functions and was not seen anywhere around when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf visited India in July and Mr Vajpayee hosted a lunch for him.

While Mr Krishnamurthi was almost certain to take over from former BJP President Kushabhau Thakre last year, it was none other than Mr Vajpayee who had successfully installed Mr Laxman to head the party with an argument that a Dalit as the party’s president would help to make inroads among the Dalits.

Incidentally, Mr Krishnamurthi was Union Home Minister L.K. Advani’s choice whose control over the party has been phenomenal and unchallenged. Mr Krishnamurthi, having been an RSS pracharak and a lawyer by profession, is known for his frank and candid views and opinions which often enough are not appreciated by Mr Vajpayee’s favourites, sources said, adding that the move to bring back Mr Naidu to the party fold is sure to hurt the leader from Tamil Nadu.

Mr Krishnamurthi, who leads a spartan life in comparison to his immediate predecessor Laxman, was not very comfortable when he came to know that Mr Vajpayee chose to have Mr Laxman on the dias along with him during the Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha (BYJM) celebration function at Agra, last Sunday.

As if this was not enough, Uttar Pradesh BJP President Kalraj Mishra’s press conference was scheduled at the same time when Mr Krishnamurthi was addressing the delegates and later during his press conference both Mr Naidu and Mr Mishra hardly allowed the party President to reply to newspersons’ questions.

While the Prime Minister’s camp strategy is to have Mr Naidu in the party for an effective control, Mr Krishnamurthi would not willingly accept such an interference, sources said.

Mr Naidu has been chosen by the Prime Minister’s camp as he has impressed Mr Vajpayee with his work in the Ministry of Rural Development, sources said.

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Will India get its information act together?
S. Narendra


With the Anthrax scare gripping countries across the world, a laboratory technician at the school of tropical medicine in Kolkata on Friday testing a powder received from a librarian in Midnapore district for suspected strains of the bacteria. —PTI photo

WE are living in extraordinarily tense days. An inexplicable sense of insecurity hangs in the air. The most unexpected incidents such as passenger planes transforming themselves into ‘kamikaze’ bombers have occurred. Ordinary letters have the potential to be messengers of the deadly anthrax. A war is raging in India’s neighbourhood. Adding to the gathering unease all around, Indian newspapers of October 16 said that Indian troops had shelled Pakistani posts on an ever unstable LoC, making everyone more edgy. The American President immediately asked India and Pakistan to ‘stand down’, meaning that, hold your fire and US Secretary of State Colin Powell is on his way.

The newspaper headlines were triggered by an Indian Army Brigadier of the 16 Corps announcing that the Army fired back to teach a lesson to Pakistan. A Defence Ministry spokesman informed the media that the Army inflicted large-scale damage to bunkers fortification and ‘completely destroyed posts’ on the other side. In contrast, a spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry blamed Pakistan for ‘deliberate misinformation’ and added that ‘no artillery fire was used’ by the Indian Army. Which version do we believe?

The next day the government goes to great lengths to limit the damage on both the media and diplomatic fronts. There are also reports that the Army Brigadier concerned has been pulled up for speaking out of turn and causing embarrassment. But the new (old) Defence Minister not only defends the Army action but stresses:” Retaliatory action will always be taken”. All this happens when the American Secretary of State was about to arrive in Delhi from Islamabad.

Someone in Islamabad must have thanked Allah for bestowing this advantage. Has anyone in the Central Government cared to find out why it repeatedly comes to hold the wrong-end of the stick when it comes to information management?

There are too many coincidences and circumstantial evidence to take credibility away from the official versions. The Chief Minister of J and K openly threatens to quit because of the Centre’s inaction against Pakistan. The Prime Minister responds by stating that India’s patience is not limitless. The government has not done anything to remove the perception that it is divided between the hawks and doves.

The present situation in the subcontinent is very delicate and it is very important that the government speaks with circumspection and in one voice, especially when dealing with sensitive affairs. Since information becomes available almost instantaneously everywhere, the government needs to take steps for making available its authoritative version as promptly as possible. This aspect unhappily has not been adequately addressed. For example, there was an uncomfortable gap in giving correct information on the landing of an American C-130 aircraft in the Capital. This led to speculation, particularly because of projected India’s eagerness to cooperate with the USA. While the government was quick to point an accusing finger at the media, the real reason for media speculation was the absence of a central information clearing facility.

The country is not at war and therefore, the official war book procedures may not be operational. But something more than a war psychology has gripped India and the rest of the world. In our case, the geo-political and domestic religio-political circumstances imbue the situation with peculiar tensions. This is the season of festivals with its attendant heightened religious fervour. The Ram Temple issue is being stirred up again. Mischief-mongers could use this time to arouse religious passions and divide the people. In such times, information and misinformation can make the difference between normal life and curfew, a celebration and a funeral. The argument is not that the war book should be invoked for stifling the media but the information war must get the primacy it deserves. The mindless urge to score soundbites should give place to an well-orchestrated professional information management policy. An over-riding central authority for this purpose would go to bridge the turf wars and go to preserve the integrity of the official message. There was a time when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi designated the then Information Secretary Gopi Arora as the government spokesman.

It is wisely said that a war cannot be left only to the generals. The latter can competently look after the fighting. The entire political system should gear up to wage a successful war. This would mean that what the main ruling party and its front organisations say are in harmony with the pronouncements of the government. Rarely any information is neutral. Within the government there has to be a proper chain of command for information clearance and dissemination.

Persons responsible for such dissemination must have priority access to the highest political levels and be privy to sensitive information. This would enable them to cut through the official layers in times of need and respond to the growing media demands and their deadlines. Such institutional mechanisms have already been built into the system, but these are being permitted to be bypassed and disused.

The embarrassment of October 16 newspaper headlines is a direct result of successful attempts to damage the available information structure. The Information Minister and the structure under her ministry have been sidelined. There were similar efforts in the past as well, but these did not succeed.

For instance, the defence services in 1998 had succeeded in persuading the government to allow them to hold regular media briefings on the J and K situation and that too in the nation’s Capital. This permission was withdrawn after the information professionals pointed out that briefings at the national level from men in uniform is undertaken only where there is no popular government or in times of war.

A few years back when the Surat plague created worldwide alarm, an information-clearing cell was created for the media. At the peak of terrorism in Punjab and J and K, a similar facility was instituted. The present situation calls for a similar approach for dealing with unforeseen situations that may arise in the days and weeks to come. The laid-back style of information management practiced so far may suit the coalition politics. But it could inflict grievous damage in these uncertain times, when the battle is for gaining the mind-share and destabilising soft democratic states.

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Gallantry awards for 57 defence personnel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
President K.R. Narayanan today decorated 57 armed forces personnel for gallantry and distinguished service at a glittering military investiture ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

The roll of honour included presentation of two Vir Chakras to Major Gopal Singh Chundawat of the 19 Grenadiers and Jawan Manoj Singh of 12 Bihar (posthumously).

Manoj Singh was involved in repulsing Pakistani troops bid to occupy a forward post in Kel sector in North Kashmir and pursuing the enemy into PoK territory to destroy Pakistani bunkers.

Major Chundawat led a commando raid on a Pakistani post in Pallanwala in Chamb sector to destroy enemy artillery and machine gun posts.

While, the two Vir Chakras were given for action in the face of the enemy, President Narayanan awarded 55 other medals, including 14 Param Vishist Seva Medal, 2 Kirti Chakaras, 19 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals and 20 Shauraya Chakras.

Lt Mayekar Atmaram of the 11 Sikh and Lt Ravinder Chhikara of the Grenadiers were awarded the Kirti Chakara posthumously and the second highest peace time awards for gallantary actions against foreign mercenaries in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively.

Among those decorated with the PVSM for distinguished service of the highest order were Lt-Gen Johnny Mukherjee, leading the Srinagar-based 15 corps, Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh, Commander, Southern Naval Command, and Air Marshal S.S. Chauhan.

Two civilian officers Bansi Lal Tikoo and Lalit Kumar Ganju, holding the rank of Chief Engineers in the Border Road Organisation, were among 19 officers decorated with Ati Vishisht Seva Medals.

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Child labour projects to be extended to 33 districts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
In a bid to eradicate child labour from the country, the Labour Minister has decided to extend the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) to 33 more districts and has asked the Planning Commission to allocate the remaining Rs 66 crore of the 9th Plan.

A sum of Rs 249.60 crore were allocated for elimination of child labour in the 9th Plan, a statement of the Ministry of Labour said today and added that Rs 116.44 crore had been spent till the last year.

Labour Minister Sharad Yadav, who assumed the charge of the ministry recently, has urged the Planning Commission to release the unutilised sum so that the evil of child labour can be effectively removed.

During 1999-2000 Rs 37 crore were spent on child labour projects against the budget allocation of Rs 34 crore.

Presently, 100 NCLPs are running in the country and over 3,000 special schools and learning centres have been set up in 100 districts in 13 child labour endemic states under the NCLPs for rehabilitating about two lakh child labourers.

Over 70 projects by voluntary organisations are also under implementation under the grants-in-aid scheme for which the ministry meets 75 per cent cost of these projects by way of grants.

Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced early this year that the government would make efforts to eliminate child labour from hazardous occupations by 2005, the official press note pointed out, adding that the government had so far notified 13 occupations and 17 processes hazardous to working children.

According to the 1991 census there were 11.3 million working children in the country with Andhra Pradesh topping the list with 1.66 million followed by Uttar Pradesh with 1.4 million and Madhya Pradesh with 1.35 million.

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HC issues notice in Tehelka case

New Delhi, October 19
The Delhi High Court today issued a notice to the Central Government on a petition challenging the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against Col Anil Sehgal on the basis of the Tehelka.Com tapes on defence deals.

Col Sehgal was among defence officers caught on camera while taking money from Tehelka reporters posing as arms dealers.

The petitioner, through his counsel R.P. Sharma, had prayed for referring the relevant Tehelka tapes to a body of experts for verification of their genuineness and veracity.

Mr Sharma produced an affidavit given on October 8 on behalf of the Ministry of Defence which cast a doubt on the credibility of the tapes and said the doubts needed to be cleared.

In an order on October 12, the Venkataswamy Commission probing the Tehelka expose, refused to refer the tapes to a body of experts for examination, saying prime facie there were no doubt about their veracity. The commission had earlier examined three experts and heard arguments on the issue.

The affidavit said the Centre was of the view that it would be in the interest of justice that the veracity and credibility of Tehelka tapes be gone into. UNI

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Cong demands judicial probe into VHP action
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
The Congress today demanded immediate resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on moral grounds and a judicial probe into the violation of law by VHP leaders, who forcefully entered the disputed site in Ayodhya on Wednesday.

“Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh cannot get away with the responsibility over what had happened in Ayodhya. He has no legal or moral right to continue as Chief Minister,” party spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told mediapersons here.

Alleging that the incident could not have happened without the collusion with the official machinery, Mr Reddy asked how could an inquiry by an Additional DGP be adequate for such a serious incident which involved “blatant violation of Supreme Court order”.

“The inquiry ordered by the UP Government is merely an eyewash,” he said demanding thorough probe by a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court to fix responsibility and to punish the guilty.

Mr Reddy also attacked Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for describing the violation of law on the part of VHP leaders as “security lapse”.

“I must say such innocuous admissions by the Prime Minister can be described only as an eyewash,” he said adding that “there is glaring contradiction in the stand taken by various BJP leaders on the issue.”

Asked if the VHP leaders act was violation of Supreme Court’s order, why Congress party is not filing a contempt of court petition in the apex court, Mr Reddy said “We believe in agitation and not in litigation.”

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SC rejects plea on UP House dissolution

New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court today dismissed an interim application seeking directions to restrain the Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal from functioning and stop the salaries and allowances to ministers and legislators in both the states, as the term of their Assemblies had expired.

The application, an off-shoot of a pending public interest litigation (PIL) by Mr Girider Mohan Singh seeking dissolution of both Assemblies and fresh elections, was dismissed by a Bench of Mr Justice V.N. Khare and Mr Justice B.N. Agarwal as not maintainable.

The court has also issued notices to the Election Commission (EC) and others on a petition filed by the Uttar Pradesh Government seeking transfer of the petitions pending before the Allahabad High Court on the dissolution and fresh elections to the apex court. The court also stayed further proceedings in all petitions pending before the high court.

The transfer of the petition to the apex court was sought on the ground that since the issues raised in the petition filed by Girider Mohan Singh in the apex court were similar to those raised in the petition pending before the high court. UNI

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SC for panels on custodial deaths

New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court today directed the human Rights Commissions of all states and union territories to constitute committees to monitor the implementation of its 11 directions regarding the prevention of custodial deaths, wrongful detentions and the mode of arrests.

The Chief Justices of the states and union territories, which do not have Human Rights Commissions were requested to constitute similar committees for the purpose.

The committees would conduct surprise checks at police stations to ensure that the directions were being implemented.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice A.S. Anand, Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat issued the directions on the suggestion of senior counsel A.M. Singhvi, amicus curiaea in the case.

The committees were asked to file quarterly reports on the implementation of the directions. UNI

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Indo-Russian JWG concludes talks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
India and Russia today concluded their two-day-long talks of the joint working group on Afghanistan with both countries agreeing that there were no bad or good terrorists, implying that the war against terrorism could not differentiate among terrorists. Both sides also agreed, that in any such future government there can be no place for the Taliban movement.

“The obscurantist, malevolent, extremist and violent ideologies on which the Taliban movement is based, will pose a substantial danger to the stability of any broad-based multi-ethnic government,” a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

Foreign Secretary Chokila Iyer led the Indian delegation to the talks. H.E. Vyacheslav I. Trubnikov, First Deputy Foreign Minister, led the Russian side. The leader of the Russian delegation also called on Home Minister, External Affairs Minister and Principal Secretary to PM today.

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SC: try to make dying statement admissible

New Delhi, October 19
In a major judgement widening the scope of evidentiary value of dying declarations, the Supreme Court has ruled that the effort of trial courts should be how to bring such statements made by a victim on his death-bed within the scope of substantive evidence.

“As the possibility of getting the maker of the statement in flesh and blood has been closed for once and for all, the endeavour should be how to include the statement of a dead person within the sweep of substantive evidence and not how to exclude it therefrom,” a Bench comprising Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice R.P. Sethi held yesterday.

This ruling was given by the Bench after upholding a Gujarat High Court order which had reversed the trial court order acquitting a person accused of burning a woman at a public place for allegedly talking to others about his illicit relationship with her sister. PTI

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Rengaswami new Pondy CLP leader

Pondicherry, October 19
Public Works Minister in the outgoing Shanmugham Cabinet N. Rengaswami was today unanimously elected as leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the union territory of Pondicherry.

AICC General Secretary Gulam Nabi Azad announced the unanimous election of Mr Rengaswami as the CLP leader following the resignation of Mr Shanmugham as Chief Minister.

Mr Azad said after having an interaction with the Congress legislators, the party leadership was keen that former Chief Minister V. Vaithilingam should don the mantle. UNI

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Secy-level appointments
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 19
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet today appointed Mr C. Gopal Reddy as Secretary in the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. Mr Reddy succeeds Ms Asha Das, who is retiring on October 31.

Mr Mantreshwar Jha has been appointed Adviser of Planning Commission. He will succeed Mr R.P.Sinha, who too will retire on October 31.

Mr B.K. Misra has been appointed Secretary in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. He will succeed Mr K.V.Irniraya, who is also retiring in the end of this month.

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Security review ordered
Our Correspondent

Hanumangarh, October 19
The District Collector (DC), Mr J.P. Chandellia, has ordered officials to review security arrangements. Addressing a meeting on the internal security scheme here today, he ordered the officials concerned to remain alert and review security at important and sensitive areas of the district.

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