SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Advani calls sack of governors grave issue
Gandhinagar, July 4
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani during a felicitation ceremony organised at Gandhinagar
Mounting blistering attack on the UPA government for sacking four governors having BJP background, former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today warned the Centre that such steps would lead to serious repercussions.
In video (28k, 56k)
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani during a felicitation ceremony organised at Gandhinagar on Sunday. — PTI photo

Poor showing not due to Gujarat riots,
says Vajpayee

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addresses a press conference at the BJP party office in Lucknow on Sunday. Lucknow, July 4
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has taken a U-turn by disagreeing that the Gujarat riots were in any way responsible for the poor showing of his party during the recent parliamentary elections. “The riots and elections are unrelated issues,” he insisted.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addresses a Press conference at the BJP party office in Lucknow on Sunday.
— PTI photo









EARLIER STORIES

 

Vajpayee moves to new residence
New Delhi, July 4
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today moved out of 7, Race Course Road, to a smaller bungalow, about two kilometers away.

Rabri Devi drops 17 ministers
New Delhi, July 4
Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi today dropped 17 ministerial colleagues in order to downsize her ministry as frantic political activities were reported from Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Assam and Chhattisgarh ahead of a July 7 deadline for the coming into force of a new law restricting ministries to 15 per cent of the strength of the respective state assemblies.

Noted actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was recently awarded Padma Bhushan, receives a bouquet from actress Shatabdi Roy
Noted actor Soumitra Chatterjee, who was recently awarded Padma Bhushan, receives a bouquet from actress Shatabdi Roy (2nd right) and students of an acting school in Kolkata on Sunday. — PTI

UPA govt to recast development schemes
New Delhi, July 4
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government wants to recast the country’s development schemes and put its own distinct stamp on them. And to do so, it plans a review of all ongoing schemes, particularly those introduced by the NDA government.

Natwar holds talks with Singapore leaders
New Delhi, July 4
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh had a whistle-stop tour of Singapore yesterday during which he interacted with the top Singaporian leadership on a host of political and economical issues, the focus being on how India can maximise its presence as an ASEAN dialogue partner.

India to raise issue of China-held Kashmir
New Delhi, July 4
India would definitely bring up the issue of China-held Kashmir during its talks with Pakistan, as and when a formal discussion takes place on Jammu and Kashmir from territory point of view, sources said today.

Mulayam gameplan to woo Ajit Singh
Mulayam Singh Yadav
Lucknow, July 4
What was to be a routine downsizing of the UP Government in consonance with the provisions of the 97th constitutional amendment has sent a strong political message — merging one’s political identity with the larger party deprives the bargaining power available to even smaller parties.

Be ready for sacrifices, DMK chief to workers
Chennai, July 4
Tamil Nadu, infamous for self-immolations, is likely to be back in the news for wrong reasons again as the DMK chief, Mr M. Karunanidhi has asked party workers to be ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the party headquarters currently under attack by the state government.

‘No smoking’ in Central Hall from today
New Delhi, July 4
The Central Hall and lobbies in Parliament House would be no-smoking zones from tomorrow. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, after holding an all-party meeting to discuss issues to be taken up during the Budget session, said Central Hall and lobbies would be smoke-free from tomorrow.

Talks between Hurriyat, Centre uncertain
New Delhi, July 4
Uncertainty appeared to hang over the process of talks between Hurriyat Conference and the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre as the separatist amalgam leadership was unlikely to agree with the Centre’s view that the dialogue would be carried forward by officials and held within the framework of Indian Constitution.

BSP spreads wings in Maharashtra
Mumbai, July 4
Having played a spoiler in 11 of the 48 seats in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the BSP has set its sights higher in the coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra.

Arjun Singh Arjun for forum for minority institutions
New Delhi, July 4
Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today emphasised the need for a dedicated forum in the ministry to deal with issues concerning minority educational institutions.

CBI team to quiz Visva Bharati ex-VC
Theft of Tagore’s Nobel
Kolkata, July 4
A CBI team has flown in here to interrogate former Vice-Chancellor of Visva Bharati, Dilip Sinha, who has been in connection with the theft of Tagore’s Nobel Prize from the Uttarayan museum.

Remand for Phoolan murder case accused
New Delhi, July 4
A Delhi court today remanded Phoolan Devi murder accused, Shravan Kumar, who was arrested in Bihar yesterday in six day’s police custody.
In video (28k, 56k)

Shravan Kumar, accused in the Phoolan Devi Murder Case, is produced at Tis Hazari Court by the Delhi Police Special Cell, in New Delhi on Sunday. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi

New list of Mumbai blast case fugitives ready
New Delhi, July 4
The government has prepared a fresh list of more than 12 Mumbai blast case fugitives associated with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, including those reportedly staying in Pakistan, and was likely to hold talks with Islamabad as well as the governments of the Gulf countries and West Asia to seek assistance to nab them, official sources said today.

Upgraded Agni-I test-fired
Balasore, July 4 
India today test-fired an upgraded version of the nuclear capable surface-to-surface short-range missile Agni-I by improving its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability.

Big B to act opposite Raj Kapoor, courtesy CTM
Amitabh BachchanNew Delhi, July 4
In times when everything is just ‘passe’, how about Salman Khan romancing Madhubala or Guru Dutt wooing Aishwarya Rai around the trees? Incredible but true. Celluloid Time Machine (CTM) makes it a possibility now. And soon Shah Rukh Khan will be cavorting around the ‘70s diva Meena Kumari in ‘Pakeezah’ replacing Raaj Kumar with this new technique.

Poor rains raise drought fears
Mumbai, July 4
A prolonged dry spell in most of Maharashtra’s 33 districts during June has given rise to fears of a major drought this year, according to state government sources here.

Campaign against ‘indecent portrayal’ of women
New Delhi, July 4
From Fashion TV to advertisements to pictures of celebrities in glossies and even dating columns, all top the hit list of women’s groups across the country for “indecent portrayal” of women.

Kanwar mela takes off
Hardwar, July 4
The annual kanwar mela began here yesterday with pilgrims pouring in from all over the country.

Videos
Thousands of children administered polio drops in the country.
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Quit smoking with Herbal Cigarettes!
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Aishwarya Rai will very soon be seen in an onscreen lip lock with close co-star Vivek Oberoi Kyun Ho Gaya Na.
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Yash Raj Films back with a different kind of Dhoom.
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Advani calls sack of governors grave issue

Gandhinagar, July 4
Mounting blistering attack on the UPA government for sacking four governors having BJP background, former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today warned the Centre that such steps would lead to serious repercussions.

“I want to warn the Manmohan Singh government that such selective sacking (of governors) could have serious repercussions. This step smacks of politics of groupism,” Mr Advani said while addressing BJP workers at his parliamentary constituency here.

The UPA government has added another chapter to its “criminalisation of government” by removing the governors unconstitutionally, Mr Advani said during his maiden visit after the NDA was voted out of power in the recent Lok Sabha elections.

He furthered wondered “how proper balance could be struck between Article 156 of the Constitution which says that the Governor shall hold the office at the pleasure of the President — and Article 156(3) which says that the term of the Governor shall be five years.”

Mr Advani said: “One intellectual had advised the then President that as per Article 74 (2), central ministers, including the Prime Minister, shall hold the office at the pleasure of the President.”

“This was a very serious situation and we had strongly objected to it. Such wrong interpretation could pose a threat to democracy,” the former Deputy Prime Minister said.

Those present at the meeting included Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, some of his Cabinet colleagues, state unit BJP President Rajendersinh Rana, former Chief Minister Suresh Mehta, MLAs and other functionaries of the party.

However, senior leader and former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, was not present at the meeting even as party sources said he (Keshubhai) was invited by the organisers.

AHMEDABAD: Mr L.K. Advani also met former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel today. The meeting, which took place at Mr Patel’s residence here, was scheduled to discuss matters related to the Somnath Trust that is chaired by Mr Advani. Mr Patel is one of the trustees.

The meeting, which lasted for two-and-a-half hours, assumes importance in the light of Mr Patel’s “oust Modi” campaign.

Mr Patel has been demanding the removal of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying a “mini-emergency” and an atmosphere of “fear” was prevailing in the state under his leadership.

Mr Patel, along with other dissident leaders like Kanshiram Rana and A.K. Patel, had also stayed away from this morning’s official function to felicitate Mr Advani. — PTI, UNI
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Poor showing not due to Gujarat riots, says Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 4
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has taken a U-turn by disagreeing that the Gujarat riots were in any way responsible for the poor showing of his party during the recent parliamentary elections. “The riots and elections are unrelated issues,” he insisted.

Denying being isolated in the party on the question of the future of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he said today that the issue had been given more prominence than it deserved. According to Mr Vajpayee, his party did not make Gujarat an election issue while his political opponents benefited the most by their “perverse propaganda about the riots both within and outside the country”.

Elaborating on this stance he said that if ‘kar sevaks’ had not been killed inside the railway compartment in heavy numbers, his opponents would not have got a cause to propagate. Giving a clean chit to Mr Modi, he disclosed that at a recent meeting the Gujarat Chief Minister provided details emphasising the impartiality of the Gujarat police in the riots.

Reacting to a question about speculations of an imminent dismissal of the Mulayam Singh Government with a change of guard at Raj Bhavan, Mr Vajpayee said it was no longer so easy for a central government to dismiss a state government. According to him, alliances place responsibilities and the legal option was also available. So he saw no reason for the dismissal of the state government that enjoyed a majority in the Vidhan Sabha.

Responding to the question of his party’s dilemma over its relationship with the Mulayam Singh Government, the former Prime Minister stated that his party was clearly in the Opposition and was being a responsible opposition by pointing out the failings of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, especially on the law and order front.

Declaring that his party would oppose the dismissal of Governors in a “democratic manner”, he said a strategy was being worked out in this connection. Praising the outgoing UP Governor, Mr Vishnukant Shastri, for his distinguished service, Mr Vajpayee wondered what damage could his political beliefs have possibly done when he had barely five months to go.

Reacting on the “tainted ministers” under his prime ministership, he said it was an unfair comparison as no criminal case was pending against any of his ministers. “My opponents point out Ayodhya where cases are pending. But then these are different kinds of offence,” he clarified.

Defending the then Defence Minister George Fernandes he said only after the interim report probing Tehelka gave him a clean chit and by personally speaking to the chairman of the probe committee did he decide to reinduct Mr Fernandes.
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Vajpayee moves to new residence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today moved out of 7, Race Course Road, to a smaller bungalow, about two kilometers away.

The refurbished 6-A Krishna Menon Marg, the new address of the chairman of BJP Parliamentary Party, has been converted into a virtual fortress.

Mr Vajpayee’s foster daughter Namita distributed sweets to waiting mediapersons as former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra drove in after the former Prime Minister returned from Lucknow.

Mr Vajpayee, who left his Race Course Road residence for Lucknow yesterday, drove straight to the new residence on his return this evening. The house number has been altered from 8, Krishna Menon Marg, on special request to the CPWD. The bungalow has seven bedrooms.

Earlier, talking to reporters Mr Vajpayee called upon the UPA government to change its attitude if it wanted to ensure the smooth running of the Budget session of Parliament beginning tomorrow.

Asked whether there will be disruption of Parliament proceedings, he told reporters that “the situation had come to a pass and we are forced to voice our oppositon”.

“The government is attacking democracy by removing governors on the ground of their ideology,” Mr Vajpayee said. 
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Rabri Devi drops 17 ministers

New Delhi, July 4
Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi today dropped 17 ministerial colleagues in order to downsize her ministry as frantic political activities were reported from Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Assam and Chhattisgarh ahead of a July 7 deadline for the coming into force of a new law restricting ministries to 15 per cent of the strength of the respective state assemblies.

A report from Mumbai said Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde would complete discussions on ministry downsizing with the Congress high command here later today. The AICC in-charge for Assam and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Digvijay Singh, announced here last night that the formation of the new Tarun Gogoi team in Assam had almost been completed.

Emerging from an hour-long meeting with Mr Gogoi, held at Assam Bhawan here last night, Mr Digvijay Singh said: “The list was more or less complete. There will be no further meetings on the issue.”

A Raipur report said 17 ministers in Chhattisgarh had resigned en masse ahead of a crucial meeting of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s core group, which will decide about reconstitution of the seven-month-old Dr Raman Singh Ministry. — UNI
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UPA govt to recast development schemes
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government wants to recast the country’s development schemes and put its own distinct stamp on them. And to do so, it plans a review of all ongoing schemes, particularly those introduced by the NDA government. The exercise, however, will take some time to take off. From all indications, the UPA government’s first Budget will not tinker with the ongoing development schemes.

This is particularly so since there is an interim budget in place with the earlier regime going in for a vote-on-account. In fact, in his meeting with UPA partners, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had pointed out that their first Budget might not be able to accommodate all their demands as half the year would be over by the time it is actually implemented.

Government sources said the budgetary allocations for the ongoing development schemes are, therefore, likely to remain untouched. The UPA government is expected to announce a slew of fresh programmes, especially in the areas of education, health, irrigation and agriculture, but will refrain from making any resource allocation for these, at least for the present.

These schemes will, however, be implemented only after the government reviews the old ones to assess their utility. Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the new Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, is expected to be entrusted with this task.

The Government sources said Dr Ahluwalia and Dr Manmohan Singh enjoy a good rapport, the new Planning Commission chief will be given a lot of leeway to restructure the ongoing development schemes. The exercise will, of course, be carried out within the parameters of the UPA government’s priorities as spelt out in its common minimum programme (CMP). In this case, the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the midday meal scheme, the primary healthcare programmes are but a few which could come under the scanner.

“The new government wants to de-saffronise the ongoing development programmes and reorient them in accordance with its own priorities. It essentially wants to give a fresh identity to these schemes so that they have the UPA and not the NDA stamp on them,” explained a senior government official. The review of the Centrally-sponsored schemes , however, has the potential of sparking off a controversy as it could result in the axing of some programmes which the Planning Commission feels are not useful.

A similar exercise was attempted about five years ago when the a sub-committee of the National Development Council (NDC) was entrusted with this task. The report never materialised as the committee members were unable to arrive at a consensus. The areas which will engage the Planning Commission’s attention in its task are employment generation and the agriculture sector, which have been singled out by the UPA government as its thrust areas. The CMP has promised to enact a National Employment Guarantee Scheme to provide at least 100 days of employment for at least one person in every rural, urban poor and lower middle-class household. Similarly, the Manmohan Singh government has repeatedly emphasised that there will be greater investments in the agriculture sector with irrigation and rural credit being accorded high priority. The UPA government has also promised to increase the allocation for education to at least 6 per cent of the GDP while the spending on health is to be raised to 3 per cent.
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Natwar holds talks with Singapore leaders
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh had a whistle-stop tour of Singapore yesterday during which he interacted with the top Singaporian leadership on a host of political and economical issues, the focus being on how India can maximise its presence as an ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) dialogue partner.

Mr Natwar Singh arrived at Singapore yesterday afternoon on a scheduled visit while en-route to Delhi after attending a ARF ( ASIAN Regional Forum) Foreign Ministers conference in Indonesia. He had a packed five hour schedule in Singapore. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is scheduled to visit India from July 8 to 10 during which he will receive the Jawahar Lal Nehru Award for International Understanding for the year 2003.

During his meetings with Singaporian leadership Mr Natwar Singh also conducted a review of ARF, the economic situation in South-East Asia and other important issues like Iraq, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna said this evening. Singapore is the largest trading partner of India from among the ASEAN countries with bilateral trade figures presently touching $ 2.9 billion. Singapore is also the largest ASEAN investor in India.
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India to raise issue of China-held Kashmir
Rajiv Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
India would definitely bring up the issue of China-held Kashmir during its talks with Pakistan, as and when a formal discussion takes place on Jammu and Kashmir from territory point of view, sources said today.

The issue of China-held Kashmir was not discussed during the June 27-28 Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan here because the territory issue did not come up at all.

Pakistan and China concluded a boundary “agreement” in 1963. The “agreement” was meant to “formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between China’s Sinkiang and the other contiguous areas, the defence of which is under the actual control of Pakistan”.

As per Article 6 of the “agreement”, the two parties “agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned would reopen negotiations with the government of the People’s Republic of China on the boundary...”

In a note given by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the embassy of India in China on March 25, 1963, the Chinese Government clarified that “it is crystal clear that the agreement is of a provisional character and it has nothing to do with the ownership of Kashmir”.

It also stated “the dispute over Kashmir is solely the business of India and Pakistan, which should be settled by both countries through negotiations and in which China will never interfere”.

In March 1963, under the agreement, Pakistan unilaterally ceded a part of the state, comprising more than 5180 square kilometre of territory under its illegal occupation to China, ignoring India’s objections at the stage of negotiations.

The entire area belonging to Hunza, south of the Mintaka Pass, was handed over to the Chinese. India challenged the locus standi of both parties to negotiate and conclude an agreement in respect of the territory of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, over which India had sovereign rights and which was under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. India had protested to both China and Pakistan indicating that it would not recognise the illegal transfer of territory forming part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Mulayam gameplan to woo Ajit Singh
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 4
What was to be a routine downsizing of the UP Government in consonance with the provisions of the 97th constitutional amendment has sent a strong political message — merging one’s political identity with the larger party deprives the bargaining power available to even smaller parties.

Thirteen ministers belonging to the erstwhile Loktantrik Bahujan Dal who switched loyalties en bloc to the Samajwadi Party to remain ministers were shown the door. At the same time seven ministers belonging to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal were kept in good humour by Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

This is being seen as a move to counter the reportedly larger gameplan to keep Ajit Singh away from the ruling UPA at the Centre. He has 15 MLAs in UP. However, the success of the move cannot be ascertained as party chief Ajit Singh has summoned all his ministers to New Delhi.

The very last decision taken by the outgoing governor was the acceptance of the resignation of 31 Uttar Pradesh ministers, including two of Cabinet rank. They are Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh (Transport) and Mr Bhagwati Singh (External Aided Projects). While the former has been elected to the Lok Sabha, the latter has been elected to the Rajya Sabha. Among the 29 ministers of state is one woman Mrs Uma Kiran (Social Welfare, SC and ST).

Of the outgoing ministers the largest chunk of 11 belong to the SC and four are Muslims. The remaining are backward caste, Thakurs and Brahmin.

The strength of the rainbow coalition has now come down to 58 though it could be raised to 61.Keeping a few vacancies has further fueled strong rumours of Raja of Kunda Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya joining the ministry. Former Chief Minister Mayawati had jailed this Rajput chieftan in 2002 under POTA for reportedly challenging her leadership. The first decision by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, minutes after his swearing in last year, was to revoke POTA against Raja Bhaiya, a decision later reversed by the SC.
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Be ready for sacrifices, DMK chief to workers
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 4
Tamil Nadu, infamous for self-immolations, is likely to be back in the news for wrong reasons again as the DMK chief, Mr M. Karunanidhi has asked party workers to be ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the party headquarters currently under attack by the state government.

The party is poised for a bitter fight over attempts by the Tamil Nadu Government to take over a piece of land within the DMK headquarters in Chennai for alleged technical violations of development rules.

Mr M. Karunanidhi initially said he would meet the issue by legal means, but suddenly asked party workers to be ready to sacrifice their lives in defending the honour of party founder, late C.N. Annadurai, after whom the imposing headquarters, ‘Anna Arivaalayam’ (Anna’s temple of knowledge), is named.

The state Housing Secretary had slapped a notice on Mr. Karunanidhi, as Chairman of the DMK Trust, asking him why action should not be taken against the trust for failing to set aside the mandatory “open space reservation” (OSR) area at the headquarters standing in the heart of the metropolis.

The notice cited rules to the effect that constructions on land larger than 10,000 sq.metres (the DMK office occupies 18,000 sq.metres) can be taken up only after setting apart 10 per cent of the site as an open space.

In a piece in the party organ “Murasoli”, Mr Karunanidhi said, “ ‘There is but one life. And it can be taken away only once. Let it go for a worthy cause, said Anna.’ What could be nobler than having that life serve the worthy cause of protecting the name and statue of Anna?” he said in response to a question.

The open space has a statue of Annadurai in the middle of a garden.

Mr Karunanidhi said, in response to another question that “My brother is one who will not flinch even from giving up his precious life, if Anna (meaning elder brother in Tamil) so orders. He will rise to vindicate our honour, declaring that death is but a bouquet of flowers for a gallant soldier.”

This sort of rhetoric has in the past caused gullible party workers to burn themselves in protest against alleged injustices to their leaders.
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‘No smoking’ in Central Hall from today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
The Central Hall and lobbies in Parliament House would be no-smoking zones from tomorrow.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, after holding an all-party meeting to discuss issues to be taken up during the Budget session, said Central Hall and lobbies would be smoke-free from tomorrow. “We have decided that from tomorrow, the Central Hall and lobbies will be smoke free. No smoking will be allowed,” Mr Chatterjee told reporters.

The Supreme Court about two years ago had asked the Centre and state governments to ban smoking at public places.

Asked if there would be a ban on chewing paan in Parliament, the Speaker said smilingly that paan was not gaseous but it could be considered.

Besides enforcing a ban on smoking, it was also decided to telecast Zero Hour proceedings and also increase the number of Parliament standing committees from the existing 16 to 24.

The Lok Sabha Speaker said Business Advisory Committee (BAC) would meet on July 6 to finalise the issues to be taken up during the session, the Speaker said.
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Talks between Hurriyat, Centre uncertain

New Delhi, July 4
Uncertainty appeared to hang over the process of talks between Hurriyat Conference and the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre as the separatist amalgam leadership was unlikely to agree with the Centre’s view that the dialogue would be carried forward by officials and held within the framework of Indian Constitution.

Hurriyat sources said while a meeting of the amalgam’s executive was scheduled to be held within next three days, it was unlikely that talks would be held with the Centre until the government spelt out its policies guiding the talks.

The sources said the Hurriyat had come forward for talks only after the previous BJP-led NDA government had made it clear that talks would be held at an appropriate level and would be “Kashmir centric” in nature.

They said that the Centre was now trying to push its Special Representative for Jammu and Kashmir N.N. Vohra for talks with the Hurriyat, which was not acceptable as the amalgam had already rejected negotiations with him.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had said yesterday that talks with Hurriyat would not be held outside the Constitution and that before meeting the “highest” person (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), a ground work exercise would be completed at the “official” level.

The Hurriyat leaders had held path-breaking talks with the NDA government in January 22 and March 27 this year after which both the sides had announced that third round would be held in June this year during which “substantative issues” would be discussed.

However, the change in government at the Centre forced a brief halt to the process of talks. Mr Patil made it clear that the government would be willing to hold talks with the Hurriyat in the first or second week of this month, if it was convenient to the Hurriyat.

Hurriyat sources said the UPA government also wanted to speak to the other groups and they were “waiting to see as to how many come forward.”

They said talks could move forward after the Centre made its policies clear and spell out the guidelines that would govern the talks.

“We are interested in resolving the Kashmir issue through peaceful means and not drag the process of talks for decades together,” a senior Hurriyat leader, said. — PTI
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BSP spreads wings in Maharashtra
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 4
Having played a spoiler in 11 of the 48 seats in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the BSP has set its sights higher in the coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra.

The BSP is aggressively expanding in every district of the state with Dalit leaders from all major parties jostling for space under Ms Mayawati’s blue umbrella. Among those who have joined the party include local-level leaders from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress, Party and even the Sangh parivar.

At a low-key event in Mumbai, on Thursday the BSP paraded leaders from the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and other outfits. “More than 100 leaders from other parties joined the BSP on Thursday,” said Mr Vilas Garud, President of the BSP in Maharashtra.

The state BSP chief created a flutter at the event by announcing that a former BJP MP and two ministers from Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s Cabinet would shortly join the party in the presence of Ms Mayawati.

Observers say the BSP is moving into the space vacated by the Republican Party of India founded by Babasaheb Ambedkar in Maharashtra. The RPI has split into several factions.
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Arjun for forum for minority institutions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today emphasised the need for a dedicated forum in the ministry to deal with issues concerning minority educational institutions.

Addressing delegates on the concluding day of the ‘Dialogue on Minority Welfare and Education’ here, Mr Arjun Singh said the government attached a lot of importance to minority educational institutions but there was no focussed forum in the ministry which can take responsibility.

He said that all the required strategies would be worked out and institutional arrangement within the ministry would be made.

Apparently referring to some of the decisions taken by his predecessor Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr Arjun Singh said that many of these came out of individual vision and had become controversial. He said correctives would be initiated in a focused manner but without vindictiveness.

The minister said later that Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) would be revived.
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CBI team to quiz Visva Bharati ex-VC
Theft of Tagore’s Nobel
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 4
A CBI team has flown in here to interrogate former Vice-Chancellor of Visva Bharati, Dilip Sinha, who has been in connection with the theft of Tagore’s Nobel Prize from the Uttarayan museum.

Arrested by the state CID last week from his south Kolkata residence for his alleged involvement in the fake certificates and mark-sheets racket, Dr Sinha had disclosed that the stolen Nobel Prize and other memorabilia could be located somewhere inside Visva Bharati. He could not be further interrogated as he suddenly fell ill and was admitted to SSKM Hospital in Kolkata in a critical condition.

Mr R.K. Mahanti, Additional DGP (CID) Police (CID), who heads the CID team probing the Nobel Prize theft case, suspected Dr Sinha’s involvement in the incident. He is confident that the mystery of the Tagore Nobel Prize theft could be soon resolved after further interrogating Dr Sinha.

Dr Sinha was arrested on the charge of appointing Ms Mukti Deb, an undergraduate woman, as a lecturer of mathematics at Visva Bharati on the basis of fake BA and MA certificates and marksheets. She was also arrested.

The former Vice-Chancellor was also involved in various other nefarious activities at Visva Bharati, including the illegal grant of recognition to some 40 so-called educational institutions in the country, besides patronising criminal activities on the university campus.

The CBI has so far interrogated some 60 persons in and around Santiniketan, Kolkata and Delhi and found certain specific clues.
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Remand for Phoolan murder case accused
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
A Delhi court today remanded Phoolan Devi murder accused, Shravan Kumar, who was arrested in Bihar yesterday in six day’s police custody.

The accused Shravan was today produced at the Tis Hazari courts and remanded till July 10. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Ashok Chand said the police had obtained remand of the accused as he needed to be interrogated over the escape of Sher Singh Rana, the prime accused in the bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi murder case.

Mr Chand claimed that Shravan’s custody was essential as there was suspicion that Rana could have stayed with him after his escape from Tihar jail in February this year. “We may even get some clues of the whereabouts of Rana from Shravan”, he said.
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New list of Mumbai blast case fugitives ready

New Delhi, July 4
The government has prepared a fresh list of more than 12 Mumbai blast case fugitives associated with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, including those reportedly staying in Pakistan, and was likely to hold talks with Islamabad as well as the governments of the Gulf countries and West Asia to seek assistance to nab them, official sources said today.

The list was prepared after a series of meetings Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had with top officials of the CBI, Intelligence Bureau and paramilitary intelligence agencies, they said, he had also reviewed the progress of investigations in the blast cases to bring the culprits to book.

The UPA Government was likely to raise the issue with the governments of Pakistan as well as those in West Asia and the Gulf, they said.

New Delhi has for long been pressing Pakistan to hand over 20 criminals and terrorists, including Dawood, Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others released from Indian prisons in return for the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane, Flight IC-814.

Dawood, who has been declared an international terrorist by the USA, has reportedly undergone plastic surgery in Pakistan to escape arrest.

The fresh list is believed to include the names of two women members of Dawood’s family, Shabana Ibrahim Memon and Reshma Ayub Memon, against whom preliminary enquiry has been carried out by the Special Task Force in Mumbai.

The enquiry alleged that these two women knew about the conspiracy and acted as carriers of lethal weapons and other explosive materials to facilitate the blast at the Bombay Stock Exchange in March 1993.

The other “key aides” of Dawood whose names were included in the new list are Taher Mohammad Merchant, Sheikh Karimullah, Khatri Riyaz, Feroz Abdul Rashid, Salim Abdul Ghani Ghazi, Yaqub Wali Mohammad Khan, Anwer Ahmed Haji, Abdul Rashid Mohd Khan, Shabir Sayed Ismail Qadri, Sayeed Arif and Esmail Haji Ahmed Ebrahim, a report in ‘South Asia Tribune’ said.

While Merchant is believed to be in Pakistan Karimullah’s hideout is also not known. Both of them are allegedly involved in the blast conspiracy and landing of explosives on the western Indian coastline of Gujarat.

Khatri, who was seen in Dubai, is learnt to have shifted base to Pakistan along with Dawood, while Rashid, against whom Indian police had declared a Rs two lakh award, was also allegedly involved in the smuggling of explosives meant for the serial blasts.

Salim, who India believed was in Pakistan, was known to be close to Chhota Shakeel, while Yaqub went to Pakistan to get arms training and took part in storing the explosives in a Mumbai godown. He was believed to have escaped to a Gulf country.

Another Mumbai blast accused, Anwer, had visited Pakistan and Dubai and was alleged to have planted a suitcase containing RDX in Room No 157 of Centaur Hotel in Mumbai.

Abdul Rashid, according to the charges against him, was said to have procured rifles from Pakistan via Nepal and Bangladesh, while Shabir was involved in the landing of explosives for the serial blasts.

Arif, a Pakistani national, had a ‘Red Corner’ Interpol notice against him and was alleged to have imparted arms training to several persons and was wanted for espionage and helping the blast conspirators.

Esmail was also alleged to be involved in the criminal conspiracy, besides several other crimes, including planning to plant bombs in several trains plying from Delhi and Mumbai.

The Indian authorities were also reported to have given to Pakistan information about an alleged “nexus” between Dawood and a Lahore bookie “fronting for” a top Musharraf government’s National Security official, South Asia Tribune, a USA-based news portal, said.

“Unimpeachable sources in Islamabad said the Indians were brought to (former Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan) Jamali’s notice the links between Pappu (the bookie) and fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and their joint stakes in the gambling mafia in Pakistan in which both were partners.

“This gambling money, besides millions being raised by other sources, was being used for terrorism against Indians and others, it is alleged”, the South Asia Tribune said in the report. — PTI
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Upgraded Agni-I test-fired

Balasore, July 4 
India today test-fired an upgraded version of the nuclear capable surface-to-surface short-range missile Agni-I by improving its re-entry technology and manoeuvrability.

The 700-900 km range missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher of the Integrated Test Range located at the Wheeler’s Island in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.

“Today’s flight was a text book launch,” Mission Director R.N. Aggarwal said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee have congratulated the defence scientists for the successful test-firing of the missile. — PTI 
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Big B to act opposite Raj Kapoor, courtesy CTM

New Delhi, July 4
In times when everything is just ‘passe’, how about Salman Khan romancing Madhubala or Guru Dutt wooing Aishwarya Rai around the trees? Incredible but true.

Celluloid Time Machine (CTM) makes it a possibility now. And soon Shah Rukh Khan will be cavorting around the ‘70s diva Meena Kumari in ‘Pakeezah’ replacing Raaj Kumar with this new technique.

And yes, this is no trick photography, superimposing technique or special effect creation. Instead, the Celluloid Time Machine makes one travel in time and bridges the gap between past and present films to make alive any director’s wildest of dreams, says its ‘creator’ Mohammad Farhan Iqbal.

“A computer-based technique, generally called ‘compositing’, the CTM can fuse any frame into the other and mix several characters at will with ease and finesse, making it now virtually possible to see teen-star Shaahid Kapoor doing a duet with Waheeda Rehman in ‘Guide’ or Dilip Kumar cajoling Kajol in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’.’’

Imagining K L Saigal and Aamir Khan together, or Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan facing the audience jointly on the screen will itself be an altogether novel experience, not just by ‘casting’ an actor from this era to a film of the past, but also making an entirely new film through the use of CTM, he opines. — UNI
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Poor rains raise drought fears
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 4
A prolonged dry spell in most of Maharashtra’s 33 districts during June has given rise to fears of a major drought this year, according to state government sources here.

Though the monsoon hit the state on time, the rains came by the middle of last month. Farmers across the state who had begun sowing stand to lose their seeds if the rains do not return in the next few days, according to state agriculture officials here.

So far the state has received less than half the normal rainfall it receives every year in June, officials say.

Weather bureau officials blame it on the “anti-cyclonic effect along the Arabian Sea”. Usually when the monsoon moves towards northern India, there is a lull in the cyclonic activity along the country’s coast. Subsequently, new cyclonic systems form along the coast bringing back the wet weather.
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Campaign against ‘indecent portrayal’ of women

New Delhi, July 4
From Fashion TV to advertisements to pictures of celebrities in glossies and even dating columns, all top the hit list of women’s groups across the country for “indecent portrayal” of women.

In a countrywide campaign to collect views on the issue of indecent representation of women in the media, the National Commission for Women had written to over 3,000 NGOs and is now inundated with voluminous feedback replete with newspaper and magazine clippings.

Writing in from different parts of the country, the women’s organisations have zeroed in on television programmes as no longer being fit to be viewed by the whole family, especially critical of channels such as Fashion TV and MTV. “Earlier, there were TV serials that the whole family could watch together, but now the programmes are vulgar,” complains Nishkam Seva Ashram, an NGO in Ludhiana, Punjab. — PTI
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Kanwar mela takes off
Swati Vashishtha
Tribune News Service

Hardwar, July 4
The annual kanwar mela began here yesterday with pilgrims pouring in from all over the country.

As a part of the traffic plan, the Delhi-Hardwar national highway will be reserved for the pilgrims during the peak of the fair from July 7 to 15, said DIG Ashok Kumar. Regular traffic would be diverted.

To deal with any untoward incident, closed circuit cameras have been installed in the sensitive zones, apart from the deployment of the mounted force, said Mr Abhinav Kumar SP. As many as 3,000 cops have been deployed at the fair, which is expected to draw up to 70 lakh pilgrims this year.

The fair draws “kanwarias” in millions from western UP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
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BRIEFLY

Godhra carnage: two held
VADODARA:
The Gujarat police has arrested two persons for allegedly providing shelter to Raisi Mitha alias Bhainam, an accused in the Godhra train carnage in 2002 from Panchmahals district. The two were arrested from Methikhan Moholla in Godhra town by the crime branch team of Gandhinagar on Saturday evening, the police said here on Sunday. — PTI

Two tea estates closed
JALPAIGURI:
Crisis in the tea industry in north Bengal continued as two tea estates, one each at Dooars and Terai, were declared locked out for an indefinite period following management-labour disputes, rendering about 1,500 workers jobless. While Shimulbari tea estate in Terai near Siliguri declared suspension of work on Saturday after the workers resorted to “go slow” for the past few days over payment and other demands, New Glance tea estate in Malsub division in Dooars has put up a closure notice on July 2 for the same reason. — UNI

Tapan to get first Kolkata Ratna
KOLKATA:
Noted film-maker Tapan Sinha will be presented the first Kolkata Ratna award on July 10.The award, instituted by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, will be given to the film director at a function here. He has directed award-winning films, including ‘Kabuliwallah’, ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’, ‘Safed Hati’, ‘Swabuj Dwiper Raja’, ‘Jhinder Bandi’, ‘Hate Bajare’, ‘Sagina Mahato’ and ‘Harmonium’. — UNI

Namrata moves court
MUMBAI:
Bollywood actress Namrata Shirodkar has moved a court here seeking criminal action against film producer Mohammed Fasi of Showman International for issuing a cheque which was dishonoured. The complaint was lodged before the 9th Metropolitan Magistrate. Namrata has urged the court to take action against the producer under Section 138 (a) read with 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The actress was promised a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh before the release of the movie and, accordingly, she was issued a cheque. But the cheque bounced subsequently. — UNI
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