SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Governors’ sack: BJP MP moves court
New Delhi, July 5
The sacking of four governors by the UPA government because of their RSS background was today challenged in the Supreme Court by BJP MP B. P. Singhal on the ground that President’s order withdrawing his pleasure regarding their appointment prior to the completion of their five-year term was “unconstitutional”.

Give RS Deputy Chairman post to Oppn: BJP
New Delhi, July 5
A confrontation between the UPA government and the main Opposition, the BJP is likely on the issue of election of Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha with the latter today insisting that the post should go to the Opposition.

New Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan comes out of Parliament House after taking oath with MP Jaya Prada on the first day of the Budget session in New Delhi Ambani, Jaya take oath
 New Delhi, July 5
Vice-Chairman of Reliance Industries, Anil Ambani, and veteran actress Jaya Bachchan today took oath as Rajya Sabha members. 




New Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan comes out of Parliament House after taking oath with MP Jaya Prada on the first day of the Budget session in New Delhi on Monday. 
— Tribune photo Mukesh Aggarwal

Amitabh’s presence triggers melee in Parliament House
New Delhi, July 5
The watch and ward staff of the Parliament House had tough time today as the presence of Super Star Amitabh Bachchan resulted in a melee with autograph seekers pouncing over him and mediapersons jostling with each other to have his reaction on his wife Jaya Bachchan taking oath as Rajya Sabha Member.

UPA short of simple majority in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi, July 5
The ruling United Progressive Alliance though falling short of 10 seats for a simple majority in the Rajya Sabha is hopeful that it can still push any necessary legislation with the help of some neutral parties like the BSP and Independents.




Graphic: Mansoon arrives in Delhi

A lady tries to cover herself with her bag in front of Parliament House during heavy downpour in New Delhi
A lady tries to cover herself with her bag in front of Parliament House during heavy downpour in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

 
Union Minister for Finance P. Chidambaram and Ambika Soni arrive at Parliament House to attend the first day of Budget session
Union Minister for Finance P. Chidambaram and Ambika Soni arrive at Parliament House to attend the first day of Budget session in New Delhi capital on Monday. —  Tribune Photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

A tribal woman being brought by her relatives from a distant village to Koraput district hospital in Orissa
A tribal woman being brought by her relatives from a distant village to Koraput district hospital in Orissa on Monday. — PTI

Speaker pulls up government
New Delhi, July 5
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today pulled up the UPA government as Minister of State for Agriculture Kanti Lal Bhuria, whose name was called out to lay papers listed against him, was absent in the House.

Sonia gave no word on separate Telangana: CM
Hyderabad, July 5
Even as the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, clarified that party chief Sonia Gandhi had never given any assurance on the formation of a separate Telangana state, the demand for a separate Rayalaseema state has gathered momentum.

Kalam presents gallantry awards
New Delhi, July 5
The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today presented awards for gallantry and distinguished service to 81 defence and security personnel at an emotion-filled investiture ceremony in the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan here. An overwhelming majority of the awards for gallantry have been earned for action in trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir. And as many as four of the five Kirti Chakras, the one Bar to the Shaurya Chakra and almost half (16) of the total 33 Shaurya Chakras were won posthumously.

Vohra meets Patil on J&K talks
New Delhi, July 5
The Centre’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir, Mr N.N. Vohra, today met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and discussed the roadmap for the next round of talks with the Hurriyat Conference.

Five held in Godhra train carnage case
Ahmedabad, July 5
Five persons have been arrested in connection with the Godhra train carnage case, the police said here today.

Left parties to meet PM on privatisation issue
New Delhi, July 5
The Left parties and Central Trade Unions have sought an appointment with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to voice their opposition to the government’s decision to privatise Delhi and Mumbai airports.

SC reinforces interim order on political ads
New Delhi, July 5
The Supreme Court today reienforced its interim order issued prior to the last Lok Sabha elections on regulated political advertisements in the electronic media during election campaign till next Assembly elections and banning the surrogate political advertisements to curb “slanderous” campaign by political parties against each other.

Senior ordered fake encounters, alleges accused officer
Jodhpur, July 5
An Army officer accused of staging fake encounters and killing enemy troops in Siachen, today confronted his superior officer saying, “I did it on your directions.”

Private bus operators observe strike
Kolkata (West Bengal) July 5
Private bus operators in the city and districts observed a strike today, demanding enhanced fares in the wake of a hike in the petrol and diesel prices. In north Bengal, however, the bus operators did not participate in the strike.

Wait ends as Monsoon knocks at the door
New Delhi, July 5
After a prolonged wait, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh today received the first monsoon showers of the season, providing welcome respite from sweltering conditions prevalent in the region for the past two weeks.

Armitage to visit India on July 12
New Delhi, July 5
United States’s Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will arrive here on July 12-13 for talks with the Indian leadership.

“Adopt-a-monument” plan in Rajasthan
Jaipur, July 5
Forced by a formidable financial crisis, the Vasundhara Raje Government is not only planning to dispose of its valuable immovable properties located in Rajasthan and other parts of the country but has also contemplated to offer for adoption its historic forts, palaces and monuments to the private sector.

“Trains At A Glance” behind schedule
New Delhi, July 5
The annual All India Railway timetable, to be effective from this month, has been deferred by two months following a delay in the presentation of the Railways Budget.

Bus accident claims 29 lives near Almora
Dehra Dun, July 5
Twentynine persons were killed and 15 injured seriously in a bus accident near Almora in Uttaranchal. The mishap occurred when the Kumaon Motor Operators Union bus fell into a 300-metre-deep gorge near the Chittai temple.

Deny ticket to losers, says Cong panel
Jaipur, July 5
The Janardan Singh Gehlot Committee — constituted to go into the reasons responsible for the disastrous defeat of the party in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan — has in its report advocated revival of the Rajiv formula for refusing the ticket to those who had lost in earlier elections. The report was submitted to Mr Narain Singh, PCC chief, last evening.

Report on fake certificates sought
New Delhi, July 5
The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Uttar Pradesh Government and the Director of Agra Mental Asylum to furnish within two weeks a report on the fake certificate racket.

GE Finance to invest Rs 1,000 cr
New Delhi, July 5
GE Commercial Finance, the business to business financial services unit of General Electric, has announced to invest up to Rs 1,000 crore in the India’s mid-market segment.

Agriculture may get financial boost
New Delhi, July 5
The rural economy is expected to receive a big thrust with the government likely to increase the plan allocation to agriculture and allied activities significantly. The Central plan outlay to agriculture and allied activities can be in excess of Rs 5,000 crore — much higher than the outlay of Rs 3,671 (revised estimates) of 2003-04.

Idea to pump Rs 50 crore in Haryana
New Delhi, July 5
Idea Cellular today announced investing over Rs 50 crore for extending its coverage in 30 new towns of Haryana circle while kicking off the brand migration process of Escotel to Idea.

Employees given incentive to visit Kashmir
New Delhi, July 5 
All Group A and B government servants would be entitled to travel on LTC by Air (Economy class) in the national carrier between New Delhi and Srinagar and the airfare would be reimbursed, the government today said. Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhury, informed this in the Lok Sabha, in a written answer. — UNI

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Governors’ sack: BJP MP moves court
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 5
The sacking of four governors by the UPA government because of their RSS background was today challenged in the Supreme Court by BJP MP B. P. Singhal on the ground that President’s order withdrawing his pleasure regarding their appointment prior to the completion of their five-year term was “unconstitutional”.

In a public interest litigation (PIL), filed in the court registry through his counsel Harshvardhan Pratap Singh by B. P. Singhal, sought the reinstatement of Vishnu Kant Shastri, Babu Parmanand, Kailashpati Mishra and Kidar Nath Sahni as governors of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Goa respectively, who were sacked on July 2.

He said the withdrawal of the pleasure by the President at the advice of Congress-led UPA Government was “illegal and arbitrary” as it was contrary to the laid down provision in the Constitution.

Seeking their immediate reinstatment and restraining the Union Government from appointing new governors in their place, Mr Singhal contended that the President was not bound to accept the advice of the Government with regard to the removal of of a Governor under Article 156(1).

Seeking the quashing of the impugned notification for the removal of the four Governors, the petitioner has sought a direction to the Union Government to place before the court entire material which formed the basis of issuance of the order for their sacking.

Terming the action of the UPA government as based on “flimsy” ground ,Mr Singhal said there was nothing in Article 156(1) of the Constitution which speaks about the withdrawal of the pleasure by the President but it has been clearly laid down under Article 156(3) that “a Governor shall hold the office for a term of five years from the date on which he assumes charge .”

He said Article 165(1) only says that “the Governor shall hold the office during the pleasure of the President.”

It has certainly not been contemplated in the Constitution that a Governor would be removed by the President on the advice of the Government, the petitioner claimed.

Neither was there any allegations against the four Governors that they had violated the Constitution while performing their duties, nor there was there any material against them to support such allegations, the PIL said.

Referring to Home Minster Shivraj Patil’s statement a day after their sacking that they had been removed due to “ideological” reasons, Mr Singhal alleged that the entire exercise was “a first step in the direction of dismissal of the governments of the four states” by the Congress-led UPA coalition.
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Give RS Deputy Chairman post to Oppn: BJP
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
A confrontation between the UPA government and the main Opposition, the BJP is likely on the issue of election of Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha with the latter today insisting that the post should go to the Opposition.

“This post should go to the opposition. The Congress cannot decide on the issue on its own,” BJP Parliamentary Party spokesperson V.K. Malhotra said here.

He was reacting to a statement by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that the Congress member should be appointed to the post.

Pointing out that only 68 of the 244 members in the Rajya Sabha were from the Congress, Mr Malhotra said the person for the post can be chosen “either through majority or consensus”.

Although Mr Malhotra said the BJP was willing to discuss on the issue and the matter was being deliberated by the NDA partners, his statement today indicated that the Opposition party would not shy away from contesting in the event of the Congress trying to push its own candidate for the post.

Significantly, the BJP is keen on pushing the name of Ms Najma Heptullah, who served three terms continuously as the Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House and recently joined the saffron party quitting the Congress, sources said.

The Congress would not favour Ms Heptullah’s renomination to the post as she had direct confrontation with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the run up to the recent Lok Sabha Elections and quit the party to join the BJP.

Mr Azad had ruled out the renomination of Ms Heptullah and asserted that the post should go to his party.

Interestingly, Ms Heptullah began her fifth consecutive term as a Rajya Sabha member today.

She was seated in the first row of the second file and her seat was five places removed from that traditionally reserved for the Deputy Chairperson.

Ms Heptullah was recently elected as Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan as a BJP nominee.

Meanwhile, the election of the new Deputy Chairperson was likely to take place only after the Budget presentation on July 8, sources said.
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Ambani, Jaya take oath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
Vice-Chairman of Reliance Industries, Anil Ambani, and veteran actress Jaya Bachchan today took oath as Rajya Sabha members. Among the esteemed guests who had turned up for the swearing-in ceremony, slated as the first item for the day immediately after the Rajya Sabha met for the first time at the start of the crucial budget session, was, superstar and husband of Jaya Bachchan, Mr Amitabh Bachchan. 

He is also known to be close to Mr Anil Ambani, who won the election from Uttar Pradesh as an independent candidate.

Ms Bachchan has been nominated to the Upper House by the Samajwadi Party from Uttar Pradesh.

Incidentally, just hours before being sworn-in, Mr Ambani also undertook a symbolic run from the Amar Jawan Jyoti to the Parliament and back. He is known to be a fitness freak and part of his daily schedule is an early morning jogging.

Answering questions after his run, he said a term of six years would give him sufficient time to implement his plans.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu, BSP supremo Mayawati, leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh and former Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptulla were also among the 51 who took oath today.

Senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi, Pramod Mahajan and Arun Shourie as well as Congress leaders Ambika Soni, Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh were also sworn in. 
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Amitabh’s presence triggers melee in Parliament House
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The watch and ward staff of the Parliament House had tough time today as the presence of Super Star Amitabh Bachchan resulted in a melee with autograph seekers pouncing over him and mediapersons jostling with each other to have his reaction on his wife Jaya Bachchan taking oath as Rajya Sabha Member.

The melee occurred at the main entrance of the Parliament House, when Amitabh accompanied by his wife Jaya Bachchan, son Abhishek, daughter Shweta and his son-in-law Nikhil Nanda, were trying to get out of the House after witnessing the oath taking ceremony.

As Amitabh and his family members got out of the visitors gallery in the Rajya Sabha and approached towards the main exit gate, a large number of mediapersons, Parliament Staff and other visitors surrounded them to have a close glimpse at the celebrities.

The situation worsened when some of the Parliament House staff jostled with each other to seek Amitabh’s autograph and televison camerapersons stood firm at the main gate, virtually blocking it, to have a “bite” from Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan. With both the Houses getting adjourned almost at the same time, there was a heavy rush at the main gate.

As MPs were trying to find their way out of the crowd, one of them fell down much to the embarrassment of the staff.

It took about 20 minutes for Amitabh Bachchan and his family members to get out of the Parliament House despite a large number of watch and ward staff and securitymen forming a human chain around them and clearing the way for them.

Earlier, Amitabh Bachchan along with his family members reached the visitors gallery few minutes before the oath taking ceremony begun at 11 a.m.

The oath-taking ceremony, in which 56 of 61 MPs took pledge, saw the presence of a couple of other film personalities as well in the visitor’s gallery.

They were former actress Tina Munim nee Ambani and Jaya Prada. 
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UPA short of simple majority in Rajya Sabha
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) though falling short of 10 seats for a simple majority in the Rajya Sabha is hopeful that it can still push any necessary legislation with the help of some neutral parties like the BSP and Independents.

Besides 70 MPs in its kitty, the Congress enjoys the support of 14 members from the CPM, nine from the RJD, four from the NCP, three from the RSP and two each from the DMK, the CPI and the Muslim League. Besides there is a member each from the Forward Bloc, RPI, the Akhil Bhartiya Loktantrik Congress, the SDF, the PDP, the PMK and the JD-S.

It may not be difficult for the Congress-led alliance to ensure a smooth sail at the time of voting on crucial bills or during the elections to the post of Deputy Commissioner, as the UPA can bank on the 11 Independents and nine nominated members besides 12 MPs from the Samajwadi Party. Six from the BSP and four from the INLD.

There is also an MP each from the Swatantra Bharat Paksh, Samata, the National Conference, The Haryana Vikas Party and the Mizo National Front, all considered neutral.

The NDA tally of 83 is headed by the 49-member of the BJP, followed by the AIADMK-12, the TDP - nine, the BJD - five, the Shiv Sena four, the Akali Dal - two and the Trinamool Congress and the Nagaland People’s Front - one each.

The change in the complexion of the House came about after the recent biennial and by-elections to Rajya Sabha. Two seats, one each in Delhi and Bihar are vacant.
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Speaker pulls up government
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today pulled up the UPA government as Minister of State for Agriculture Kanti Lal Bhuria, whose name was called out to lay papers listed against him, was absent in the House.

An agitated BJP chief-whip Vijay Kumar Malhotra pointed out towards the treasury benches remarking that the minister, whose name is listed for laying the papers should be present in the House.

“Mr Malhotra is right. I agree, the honourable minister should have been present on time”, the Speaker said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Surya Kanta Patil placed the papers on Mr Bhuria’s behalf.
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Sonia gave no word on separate Telangana: CM
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 5
Even as the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, clarified that party chief Sonia Gandhi had never given any assurance on the formation of a separate Telangana state, the demand for a separate Rayalaseema state has gathered momentum.

Speaking to reporters today at Vijayawada, the heart of coastal Andhra, Dr Reddy reiterated that Congress stood by its stand that a second states reorganisation committee would have to go into the issue of formation of new states.

“How can Ms Gandhi be made responsible for what other people claim,” the Chief Minister retorted, referring to Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief and Union Minister without portfolio K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s repeated assertions that a separate Telangana was on its way.

While Dr Reddy’s position is likely to kick off a political spat with the party’s coalition partner, TRS, the hype surrounding a separate Telangana has emboldened people in the drought-prone Rayalaseema region to assert their separate identity.

A meeting convened by local intellectuals at Tirupati, the temple town of Rayalaseema, demanded that if the formation of a Telangana state was inevitable, AP should be split into three parts — Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema. The meeting said they would consider continuing with coastal Andhra only if Tirupati was made the capital of the new state.

At Kurnool, industrialist and former TDP MLA now sailing with the Congress T.G. Venkatesh floated the Forum for Rayalaseema Rights and announced that a movement would be launched on August 15 for carving out a separate state of Rayalaseema.

Though it is still early for an agitation for a separate Rayalaseema region to turn into a major political headache for Dr Reddy, the demand for allocation of Krishna and Godavari waters by farmers of all three regions threatens to snowball into a major controversy. Rayalaseema farmers have already cried foul over Krishna delta farmers in coastal Andhra, demanding the release of waters for their kharif crop.
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Kalam presents gallantry awards

New Delhi, July 5
The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today presented awards for gallantry and distinguished service to 81 defence and security personnel at an emotion-filled investiture ceremony in the Ashoka Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

An overwhelming majority of the awards for gallantry have been earned for action in trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir. And as many as four of the five Kirti Chakras, the one Bar to the Shaurya Chakra and almost half (16) of the total 33 Shaurya Chakras were won posthumously.

The Kirti Chakra winners include BSF constable C. Stanly (posthumous), who despite being wounded during the siege of a house in July, 2002, maintained his position and succeeded in gunning down an escaping terrorist even after being mortally wounded. BSF’s 171 Bn Commandant, Virender Prasad Purohit, likewise, won the coveted honour, by holding to his post during an assault on a house, where terrorists were hiding, despite his wounds. He succeeded in gunning down two terrorists but at the cost of his life.

A similar act earned Grenadier Anil Kumar his posthumous award, when despite injuries, he engaged in hand-to-hand fight with a terrorist, killing him before succumbing to his own wounds.

The fourth posthumous Kirti Chakra recepient, Maj Inderjeet Singh Babbar, was awarded the medal for leading an operation against some hardcore ULFA militants sheltering in a village in Darrang district of Assam.

Subedar Dil Bahadur Thapa of 9 Assam, won the medal for a conspicuous award of bravery in which he charged up a cave in which four infiltrators were hiding, lobbing grenades and firing from the hip, till he succeeded in killing all four.

A Bar to the Shaurya Chakra was posthumously awarded to Lt Col Kanwar Jaideep Singh, 6 Dogra, for an encounter with a group of infiltrators in which he dispalyed exemplary bravery, saving the life of his men, and organising a reinforced patrol to follow and round up the terrorists, during which he was shot and killed by a hidden terrorist from a second group. — UNITop

 

Vohra meets Patil on J&K talks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The Centre’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir, Mr N.N. Vohra, today met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and discussed the roadmap for the next round of talks with the Hurriyat Conference.

Sources said besides Mr Patil and Mr Vohra, the meeting was attended by National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit, Adviser to Prime Minister M.K. Narayanan, Secretary (RAW) C.D. Sahay and Intelligence Bureau chief K.P. Singh.

The meeting discussed security situation in the valley, especially the recent spurt in the activities of militants.

The sources said a final decision on the dates of Centre-Hurriyat meeting was likely to be taken after the meeting of the executive committee of the amalgam later this week. Leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, led by Maulvi Abbas Ansari, were likely to meet in Srinagar on Wednesday to decide their stance on parleys with the government.

The Hurriyat Conference, which has held two rounds of talks with the previous NDA government, is understood to be unhappy with the recent statements of Mr Patil about the ground work for talks to be done by officials. Mr Patil had added that Hurriyat leaders could meet the “highest” in the government if the talks showed positive development. The recent reiteration about the parleys not going beyond the framework of the Constitution may have caused some apprehension in the mind of Hurriyat leaders, sources said. They said the Hurriyat may ask the Centre to spell out its stand on the talks.Top

 

Five held in Godhra train carnage case

Ahmedabad, July 5
Five persons have been arrested in connection with the Godhra train carnage case, the police said here today.

Two persons were arrested for their alleged involvement in the train carnage, taking the total number of arrests in the case to 90, while three others were held for ‘sheltering’ another accused, the police added.

Acting on a tip-off, a team of CID (Crime) kept a watch in the Bhamalia locality here and arrested Ashraf Ahmed Patel alias Bhuplo from near a garage early today.

Another accused Ibrahim Sattar Gaddi was arrested yesterday by the sleuths of anti-dacoity squad after the police was informed that he would visit his house in the Vasla Odha area here.

Gaddi was a small time vendor working at Godhra railway station, the police said adding, his mother Aminabibi was allegedly the “leader” of a group of pickpocketeers.

Both Gaddi and Sattar were allegedly part of the core group that torched the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra Railway station on February 27, 2002 when 59 Ram sevaks returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive.

Special IG (Vadodara range) Rakesh Asthana, who headed the Special Investigating Team probing the train carnage said that 42 people were still absconding in the case. — PTI
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Left parties to meet PM on privatisation issue
Tribune News Sevice

New Delhi, July 5
The Left parties and Central Trade Unions have sought an appointment with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to voice their opposition to the government’s decision to privatise Delhi and Mumbai airports.

The CPI(M) leader in the Lok Sabha, Mr Basudeb Acharia, told TNS here today that they had made a formal request for an appointment with Dr Manmohan Singh. “We have in mind an alternative proposal for modernisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports. We have not yet been informed about the time with the Prime Minister but the meeting is likely to take place on July 7,” he said.

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Secretary, D.L. Sachdev told TNS that they wanted the Delhi and Mumbai airports to remain under the control of the government. “We feel that handing over the management of the ground services to any private party will jeopardise the security of the country, its people and passengers,” he said.

Mr Sachdev said the AITUC, CITU and Hind Mazdoor Sabha wanted to meet the Prime Minister to request for a review of the decision taken on the issue by the group of ministers last week.

He said the Congress-led UPA government has reduced foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in the proposed joint ventures for Delhi and Mumbai airports from 74 per cent to 49 per cent. “We are even opposed to giving 49 per cent to foreign investors. We are opposed to the idea of giving 25 per cent equity to an Indian promoter or financial institution because it will deprive the government of the majority share,” he said.Top

 

SC reinforces interim order on political ads
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 5
The Supreme Court today reienforced its interim order issued prior to the last Lok Sabha elections on regulated political advertisements in the electronic media during election campaign till next Assembly elections and banning the surrogate political advertisements to curb “slanderous” campaign by political parties against each other.

“The interim order of April 13 shall remain in operation,” a Bench of Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, Justice G.P. Mathur and Mr Justice A.K. Mathur said.

The court in its interim order had issued detailed guidelines for telecast of political adds and gave the authority to the Election Commission (EC) to monitor the entire exercise.

The interim directions issued by the apex court were to end on May 10.

The order was continued by the court after EC counsel S. Murlidhar expressed the apprehension that political atmosphere would be “vitiated” due to unhealthy campaign by political parties through the electronic media during the coming Assembly elections. He sought reinforcement of the directions issued before the Lok Sabha elections in view of elections to Arunachal and Maharashtra assemblies due in October and that of Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana in February 2005. In the interim direction, the court had said that political ads would not be telecast by any electronic media without the prior clearance from the EC.

The EC was authorised by the court to appoint a committee under the Chief Electoral Officer in each state to examine the contents of the ads and accept it or reject it.

The cassettes of an advertisement had to be submitted with transcripts to the election authorities seven days in advance of its telecast during the election campaign.

To curb “offensive” campaign through surrogate ads, the court had made it clear that any advertisement issued in favour of a political party and a leader, should include the name of the person or organisation on whose behalf it had been issued.

Among the series of guidelines, it was contemplated that the advertisers would give details through an affidavit to the EC about the source of finance for the advertisements.

Meanwhile, the Bench directed the Centre to file application regarding transfer of all related matters from the Andhra Pradesh High Court to the apex court. Top

 

Senior ordered fake encounters, alleges accused officer

Jodhpur, July 5
An Army officer accused of staging fake encounters and killing enemy troops in Siachen, today confronted his superior officer saying, “I did it on your directions.”

Major Surinder Singh against whom a Court of Inquiry recommended disciplinary action for making exaggerated claims, told his senior officer Col. K.D.Singh during cross-examination in a military court here, that he staged fake encounters at the Colonel’s direction. However, vehemently denying the charge, Colonel Singh retorted, “You are making this accusation with mala fide and malicious intention.”

When Major Singh alleged that the Colonel tampered with the video clips of fake encounters of August 24 and September 21 last year, Colonel Singh said he neither prepared the video nor he was in possession of it. Denying that he directed the Major to stage fake encounters, Colonel Singh said on the contrary he issued a warning letter to the erring officer in October last year after finding his follies. — PTI
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Private bus operators observe strike
Tribune News Service

Kolkata (West Bengal) July 5
Private bus operators in the city and districts observed a strike today, demanding enhanced fares in the wake of a hike in the petrol and diesel prices. In north Bengal, however, the bus operators did not participate in the strike.

People, particularly the office-goers in Kolkata and elsewhere, had to suffer a lot for want of adequate transport facilities as private buses are the main mode of public transport in the city. Though a large number of state buses, mini-buses, auto-rickshaw and taxis were on the road, these were inadequate to meet the requirements.

The state government allowed a 50 paise fare increase at every stage from the first stage of Rs 3 effective today, but the bus owners were not satisfied. They demanded a minimum increase of Re 1 Transport Minister, Subhas Chakraborty refused.
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Wait ends as Monsoon knocks at the door

New Delhi, July 5
After a prolonged wait, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh today received the first monsoon showers of the season, providing welcome respite from sweltering conditions prevalent in the region for the past two weeks.

“Monsoon today advanced into Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and parts of UP and Rajasthan,” Director at the Indian Meteorological Department S.C. Bhan said.

In Delhi, the monsoon onset, was six days behind schedule. However, it would be considered normal even if it was seven days ahead or behind the schedule date of June 29, Mr Bhan said.

The rain sent the mercury plummetting giving much-needed relief from sultry conditions.

The monsoon had entered most parts of the country, but parts of western Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab were yet to be covered, he said adding that the whole of Uttar Pradesh had been covered.

The monsoon trough was in normal position and its further advance into the remaining areas was expected in the next couple of days, Mr Bhan said.

Delhi and surrounding areas received moderate rainfall. The capital was likely to receive moderate rainfall in the coming two days while moderate to heavy rainfall was expected in UP, Bihar, North-East, West Bengal, Gujarat, eastern Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Konkan and Goa. Remaining areas were likely to receive scattered rainfall, he said. — PTI
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Armitage to visit India on July 12
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
United States’s Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will arrive here on July 12-13 for talks with the Indian leadership.

Mr Armitage will be Washington’s highest ranking official to visit India since the UPA government assumed office here.

A formal announcement of the visit is expected shortly. 
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“Adopt-a-monument” plan in Rajasthan
Manohar Prabhakar
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 5
Forced by a formidable financial crisis, the Vasundhara Raje Government is not only planning to dispose of its valuable immovable properties located in Rajasthan and other parts of the country but has also contemplated to offer for adoption its historic forts, palaces and monuments to the private sector.

Since the maintenance of these glorious landmarks of history warranted huge expenditure, the state government has drawn up a programme ‘Adopt-a- monument’ to attract the heritage- lover Rajasthanis living off the shores and other NRIs. The parties coming forward for adoption would be allowed to use these places of antiquity for promotional PR campaigns.

The scheme envisaged for the purpose would initially cover over 200 monuments, including the world famous Hawa Mahal, Isarlat(Sargasooli) and Amber Palace of Jaipur and a host of others scattered in other parts of the state.

Efforts are afoot to get income tax exemption on the expenditure to be incurred on the maintenance and preservation of the adopted sites and development and beautification of the environs around them.

A former Director of Archaeology and Museums described the plan as an undesirable proposition. It would ultimately undermine the significance of the state’s rich heritage and convert the monuments into commercial centers, he remarked.

It may be recalled that a massive project worth several crores for the development of the world famous Vaishnavite sacred shrine at Nathdwara, to be funded by Mrs Kokila Ben Ambani, had recently aroused a tremendous protest from local people, forcing its withdrawal.Top

 

“Trains At A Glance” behind schedule

New Delhi, July 5
The annual All India Railway timetable, to be effective from this month, has been deferred by two months following a delay in the presentation of the Railways Budget.

The All India Annual timetable “Trains At A Glance”, scheduled to be effective from July 1, 2004, would now be published and enforced from September 1 this year, an official release said here today. The delay was due to the late presentation of the Railway Budget 2004-05 on account of the Lok Sabha elections, it said.

The Railway Budget provides for introduction of new trains, extension of services of some trains and increase in the frequencies of other trains. The “Trains at a Glance” would incorporate new trains, increase in the frequency and also extension of services, it added. The timetable deals with timings and schedules of all long distance Mail, Express, Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Jan Shatabdi trains.— PTITop

 

Bus accident claims 29 lives near Almora
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 5
Twentynine persons were killed and 15 injured seriously in a bus accident near Almora in Uttaranchal. The mishap occurred when the Kumaon Motor Operators Union bus fell into a 300-metre-deep gorge near the Chittai temple.

The bus was going from Pithoragarh to Haldwani in Nainital district with 45 passengers on board, said SP (Almora) Jyoti Ghildyal. As the turn was sharp, the driver lost control over the bus, he said, adding that the matter was being sent for a magisterial inquiry.

While 18 persons died on the spot, 11 succumbed to their injuries on the way to hospital. The injured persons have been admitted to Almora Base Hospital. The rescue operations are on, said Mr Chanar Ram, DM, Almora.

Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari has expressed shock and grief over the accident.Top

 

Deny ticket to losers, says Cong panel
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 5
The Janardan Singh Gehlot Committee — constituted to go into the reasons responsible for the disastrous defeat of the party in the State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan — has in its report advocated revival of the Rajiv formula for refusing the ticket to those who had lost in earlier elections. The report was submitted to Mr Narain Singh, PCC chief, last evening.

Interestingly, Mr Janardan Gehlot, Chairman of the committee, has himself lost four elections. As regards Mr Narain Singh, who was installed as the PCC chief in place of Dr Girija Vyas, not only lost Lok Sabha elections from Sikar but also failed to influence Jat voters in favour of his party with six of the seven Jat nominees losing the battle.

Mr Narain Singh said the report would be forwarded to the AICC in a couple of days.

The report has hinted in a subtle way that outgoing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s style of functioning was largely responsible for the party debacle in the two elections. The report says that virtual segregation of party workers from decision-making, lack of coordination between the government and the organisation, rebels contesting against the party nominees, annoyance of state employees and poor polling campaigns were the main factors responsible for the embarrassing performance.

While the committee had solicited views from various quarters of the Congress three former Chief Ministers — Mr Shivcharan Mathur, Mr Jagannath Paharia and Mr Ashok Gehlot — refrained from doing so.Top

 

Report on fake certificates sought
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Uttar Pradesh Government and the Director of Agra Mental Asylum to furnish within two weeks a report on the fake certificate racket.

The commission has taken suo motu cognisance of news report about a government psychiatrist at the Agra Mental Asylum allegedly taking Rs 10,000 to certify women clinically insane to enable their husbands file for divorce.

According to the news report, Dr S.K. Gupta had facilitated 10 divorces by issuing false certificates.Top

 

 

GE Finance to invest Rs 1,000 cr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
GE Commercial Finance, the business to business financial services unit of General Electric, has announced to invest up to Rs 1,000 crore in the India’s mid-market segment.

In a press statement issued here today, Mr Pramod Bhasin, President GE Capital India, said, “globally GE is a leading player in the mid-market segment and what sets us apart is the capability to take asset and term risk. We provide financial products and experience so that mid-market companies can grow, keep costs down, manage cash flows and balance sheet issues.”

He said with over $220 billion in assets, GE Commercial Finance was one of the largest business to business financial services groups in the world. It had stakes in 35 nations in an array of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, construction, power, infrastructure and equipment finance.

In India, it is one of the leading non-banking finance companies with an AAA credit rating.Top

 

Agriculture may get financial boost
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The rural economy is expected to receive a big thrust with the government likely to increase the plan allocation to agriculture and allied activities significantly.

The Central plan outlay to agriculture and allied activities can be in excess of Rs 5,000 crore — much higher than the outlay of Rs 3,671 (revised estimates) of 2003-04.

Similarly, rural development, including provisions for rural housing, is expected to get a boost and the government may increase the Central plan outlay by a large degree.

Incidentally, the budget estimates of the plan outlay for rural development was brought down to Rs 9,239 crore — about Rs 4,000 crore less than the revised estimates of Rs 13,238 crore.

Sources said a substantial portion of government investment in agriculture is likely to be earmarked for irrigation projects.

A special programme for dry-land farming may also be introduced with focus on intensive agricultural development programme for the districts in the arid and semi-arid regions.

“Water management — both for irrigation and drinking purposes—will recieve attention”, the sources said.

The government is also expected to come out with a detailed road map on subsidies. The road map, may or may not be a part of the budget speech, will lay down the broad contours of the subsidy policy, especially food subsidy.

The government is particularly concerned about the rising food subsidy bill, which has reached over Rs 9,000 crore in recent times, as also the poor targeting of subsidies through the existing public distribution system (PDS).

The second major element in the food subsidy bill is the cost of carrying buffer stocks. The estimate of the buffer stock to be so held has, however, varied from time to time.Top

 

Idea to pump Rs 50 crore in Haryana

New Delhi, July 5
Idea Cellular today announced investing over Rs 50 crore for extending its coverage in 30 new towns of Haryana circle while kicking off the brand migration process of Escotel to Idea.

“We plan to invest over Rs 50 crore in Haryana circle and extend our network coverage to more than 30 new towns and provide extensive highway coverage from Ambala to Agra through Delhi,” Idea Cellular CEO Vikram Mehmi said in a statement.

The company also launched the brand migration process of Escotel to Idea in Haryana circle, after the recent completion of acquisition of Escotel by Idea.

The brand migration process would be extended across all the Escotel circles, converting over 10 lakh Escotel subscribers to Idea in UP (West), Haryana and Kerala.

“Escotel subscribers would now become a part of a national brand and experience the best mobility services that are offered to millions of subscribers,” Mehmi said. — PTITop

 




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BRIEFLY

Toxic prasad claims 9 lives
HAJIPUR:
Toxic ‘prasad’ has claimed lives of nine children and nearly 50 others were taken ill in four villages of Bihar’s Vaishali district, the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), R.K.Singh said here on Monday. —PTI

Two rare idols recovered
LUCKNOW:
The police has recovered two rare ‘ashtadhatu’ idols estimated at Rs 1.5 crore in the international market with the arrest of a priest in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh. The DGP office said here on Monday that acting on a tip-off cops arrested Baba Ramdas from the Khandari area of Agra district on Sunday. —UNI

11 Bangladeshis held
AURANGABAD:
The police has arrested 11 Bangladeshi citizens for not possessing legitimate immigration documents. These persons, including five women, were staying illegally in the Garkheda area of the city, the police said here on Monday adding that, the women were working in night bars. — PTI 
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