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LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Patil gives clean chit to Soren
New Delhi, July 16
The campaign launched by the BJP-led Opposition against Coal and Mines Minister Shibu Soren wound up prematurely today with Home Minister Shivraj Patil giving a clean chit to him in the Rajya Sabha, quoting information provided by none other than the BJP government in Jharkhand.

Bihar flood toll 60
Patna, July 16
The overall flood situation in 16 north Bihar districts continued to be grim as swollen rivers engulfed fresh areas today and the death toll mounted to 60 with six more deaths reported from Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts during the past 24 hours.

Army personnel rescue flood victims by helicopter at Darbhanga, 130 km from Patna, on Friday. Flood situation intensifies in Assam.
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Army personnel rescue flood victims by helicopter at Darbhanga, 130 km from Patna, on Friday. 
— Reuters photo



EARLIER STORIES

 

SC seeks more proof on Kargil, coffin scams
New Delhi, July 16
Not finding sufficient supportive documents to admit a petition highlighting the alleged Kargil and coffin scams, the Supreme Court today sought more proof to substantiate the allegations of negligence and inaction in supplying military hardware to the Army during Operation Vijay by the previous NDA government.

Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan and actress Sharmila Tagore pose for photographers
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan (L) and actress Sharmila Tagore pose for photographers after the inaugural shot of their new movie, "Viruddh," in Mumbai on Thursday. — Reuters

Advani, Joshi differ on Katiyar’s successor in UP
New Delhi, July 16
In a move to uplift the sagging morale of the organisation as well that of the party cadres, former Assembly Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi is emerging as the high command choice to replace Vinay Katiyar to lead the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

Govt playing votebank politics with Godhra, says BJP
New Delhi, July 16
The Godhra issue, which had stalled the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, resurfaced today with the BJP accusing the government of destabilising the Modi government in Gujarat, which could threaten peace and tranquility in the country.

Govt soft on terrorism: BJP
New Delhi, July 16
Continuing with its attack on the government for ordering a departmental probe into the Godhra carnage, the BJP today said the “eyewash inquiry” was aimed at saving the accused, and charged the government with being “soft” towards terrorism.

No deadline on FDI issue: CPM
New Delhi, July 16
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today said that no deadline had been set for rolling back the hike in the FDI cap, but would “bite harder” if the UPA deviated from the Common Minimum Programme.

Remove Sekhon, says Panthic Morcha
New Delhi, July 16
Leaders of the Panthic Morcha today urged Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to hold the SGPC polls afresh and to remove the Gurdwara Election Commissioner Justice J.S. Sekhon (retd.) for allegedly acting in a partisan manner in the just concluded SGPC elections.

Gangrape of 3 Dalit women: 11 arrested
New Delhi, July 16
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today informed the Lok Sabha that police had arrested 11 persons in connection with the gangrape of three Dalit women in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month besides suspending two police officials for the negligence of duty.

Truant monsoon may hit economic growth, says minister
New Delhi, July 16
Foodgrain production in the country experienced a steep decline of over 18 per cent in 2002-03, when the country experienced one of the worst drought in the recent past.

Mumbai police rescues 27 minor girls
Mumbai, July 16
The Mumbai police last night rescued 27 minor girls who were employed as dancers in brothels and ladies’ bars here. In all 19 persons employed as managers of these joints and pimps were arrested and over 140 customers detained, the police said.

Stamp paper accused escapes
Ahmedabad, July 16
An accused in the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam who was an alleged close aide of mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi, escaped from CBI custody early this morning.

Further stay on Vaiko trial 
New Delhi, July 16
The Supreme Court today extended its stay on the trial of MDMK leader Vaiko in a special court in Chennai under POTA for his alleged support to the cause of the LTTE.


PM to visit Assam
New Delhi, July 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will pay a one-day visit to Assam on July 20. This will be his first visit to Assam from where he is a member of the Rajya Sabha. After becoming the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh has so far visited only one state Andhra Pradesh. — UNI

Monica’s extradition
New Delhi, July 16
The Portugal High Court has ordered the extradition of Monica Bedi, a little known Bollywood actress and girlfriend of underworld don Abu Salem. The order was communicated to the CBI officially today by the Lisbon authorities, highly placed agency sources said here. — PTI

Plan panel meeting today
New Delhi, July 16
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair the first meeting of the reconstituted full Planning Commission tomorrow. The meeting will be also be attended by six ministers, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, HRD Minister Arjun Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. — TNS


Videos
"Gayab" releases all across the country today.
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No disease, no medicine, it's only prayer!
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Patil gives clean chit to Soren
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The campaign launched by the BJP-led Opposition against Coal and Mines Minister Shibu Soren wound up prematurely today with Home Minister Shivraj Patil giving a clean chit to him in the Rajya Sabha, quoting information provided by none other than the BJP government in Jharkhand.

In his statement, Mr Patil said information provided by the state government clearly showed that Mr Soren was not a proclaimed offender in a case of mob lynching of 11 persons in the state in 1975 in which 59 persons have been committed to trial.

Replying to clarifications on his statement on the issue, he counselled the Opposition not to try to smear political reputations without substantiating the charges.

“Please don’t raise such issues in such a manner as allegations once levelled are later hard to dispel”, Mr Patil said, adding that in “political life, reputations are very important... You protect our reputation and we will protect yours”.

Mr Patil, in his one-paged statement, said 69 persons, including Mr Soren, were accused in the case registered in Narayanpur police station.

He said while 59 of them were facing trial in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Soren was not facing trial as his case was not committed to the Sessions Court.

Quoting from reports received from Jharkand government, he said the court had issued an arrest warrant against the Coal Minister on February 22, 2003, which was later recalled by the Judge on September 5 after Mr Soren’s lawyers had filed a petition.

Seeking clarifications, BJP member and former minister Arun Jaitley said the Home Minister’s statement was incomplete as it did not clarify the status of the case pending against Mr Soren when the latter himself had admitted in his affidavit before the Election Commission while contesting the Lok Sabha elections that the case was pending against him.
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Bihar flood toll 60

Unidentified handbarrow-pullers sit on their handbarrows while a boat passing through the submerged road
Unidentified handbarrow-pullers sit on their handbarrows while a boat passing through the submerged road after the town areas inundated by floodwater in Dhubri, Assam, on Friday. — PTI photo

Patna, July 16
The overall flood situation in 16 north Bihar districts continued to be grim as swollen rivers engulfed fresh areas today and the death toll mounted to 60 with six more deaths reported from Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur districts during the past 24 hours.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav left for an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged districts on his arrival from New Delhi in the morning. He was accompanied by Union Minister of State M A Fatmi, RJD MP Devendra Prasad Yadav and Bihar Irrigation Minister Jagdanand Singh, official sources said.

A report from Darbhanga, one of the three districts cut-off from the rest of the country for the sixth day today, said an IAF helicopter evacuated 15 stranded students of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) during the day.

Fifteen marooned girl students of the DMCH were brought to Patna by a defence helicopter yesterday, while another helicopter with as many postgraduate girl students of the institute had met with an accident after its rotor got entangled with a date palm tree. None was, however, injured in the incident.

Sitamarhi district accounts for the highest number of 22 deaths. — PTI 
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SC seeks more proof on Kargil, coffin scams
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16
Not finding sufficient supportive documents to admit a petition highlighting the alleged Kargil and coffin scams, the Supreme Court today sought more proof to substantiate the allegations of negligence and inaction in supplying military hardware to the Army during Operation Vijay by the previous NDA government.

“Submit proof that Parliament has not taken any action in the matter,” a Bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti, Mr Justice G. P. Mathur and Mr Justice C. K.Thakkar said while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking a probe into the alleged negligence by the Defence Ministry in procuring the military equipment during the Kargil operation, costing the government Rs 2,175 crore extra due to the delay.

Since the allegations against the previous government were made in the PIL by Mr K. G. Dhananjay Kumar on the basis of the CAG report, placed in Parliament in December 2001,the court said it was for Parliament to take action in the matter.

“When the report is tabled before Parliament and it is being considered and some action will be taken then why should we start parallel proceedings in the matter,” the Bench asked the petitioner’s counsel,Mr D. K. Garg.

When Mr Garg said he could prove that neither the government nor Parliament was likely to take any action in the matter, the Bench adjourned the matter giving an opportunity to him to place on record further proof to substantiate the allegations.

The petitioner has sought punishing to guilty persons in accordance with the law to prevent the repetition of such incidents.
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Advani, Joshi differ on Katiyar’s successor in UP
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
In a move to uplift the sagging morale of the organisation as well that of the party cadres, former Assembly Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi is emerging as the high command choice to replace Vinay Katiyar to lead the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP top leadership and the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) are said to be of the view that the BJP should be led by a Brahmin in the state, as the community is deserting the party for the Congress.

According to sources, Mr Tripathi, who remained the Assembly Speaker for two terms, is being preferred by former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani over Mr Kalraj Mishra. Mr Advani is told by leaders like former state Chief Minister Kalayan Singh that there is a need for a “new” face who can command respect from cadres as well as leaders.

The party needs a leader of stature in the biggest state who can be “non-partisan” in the faction driven organisation, a prominent BJP leader told the Tribune on the phone from Lucknow.

But a section of the party is said to be vehemently opposed to installation of Mr Tripathi as the chief as the move would only contribute to the sharpening of existing factionalism in the party.

Former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, whose popularity graph among the traditional voters and hardcore Hindu fundamentalist groups of the BJP is rising is said to be opposed to Mr Tripathi.

According to the sources, Mr Advani is of the view that by bringing the former Speaker to lead the party, he can ensure that Dr Joshi’s stature does not rise.

Moreover, the hands of Mr Kalyan Singh would be strengthened as Advani-Singh-Tripathi trio would be calling the shots in affairs of the party, they added.
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Govt playing votebank politics with Godhra, says BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The Godhra issue, which had stalled the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, resurfaced today with the BJP accusing the government of destabilising the Modi government in Gujarat, which could threaten peace and tranquility in the country.

“Politicisation of a crime is not in the interest of justice, democracy and national security,” said BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

Accusing the Congress-led UPA government of trying to play votebank politics, Mr Joshi said the projection by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad that the Godhra carnage was premeditated was wrong.

The forensic report quoted by Mr Prasad for setting up a departmental inquiry into the train fire incident was already made available to the Nanavati Commission three years ago, he said.

Mr Joshi wondered whether the UPA government wanted to spoil the atmosphere and tranquility in Gujarat by making it a “cheap political issue”, triggering noisy protests from the ruling party benches. He wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to explain the reasons for setting up another inquiry which, he said, would set a bad precedent.

Countering Mr Joshi’s observation during zero hour, Mr Ramdeo Bhandary (RJD), amidst vociferous protests from the BJP and Shiv Sena members, said the Railway Minister had decided to set up a departmental inquiry as people have the right to know the truth behind this major incident.

On the directions of Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri said he would convey feelings of the members to the Prime Minister.
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Govt soft on terrorism: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Continuing with its attack on the government for ordering a departmental probe into the Godhra carnage, the BJP today said the “eyewash inquiry” was aimed at saving the accused, and charged the government with being “soft” towards terrorism.

“The eyewash inquiry ordered by the Railway Minister is aimed at saving the accused in the case,” BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman V. K. Malhotra told reporters here.

Alleging that the UPA government was being “soft” towards terrorism, he said while it had been announced that POTA would be repealed, “nothing is being said about how terrorist activities would be countered and whether any new law would replace it.”

He said the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir was “deteriorating” by the day and there was a rise in terrorist strikes.

Mr Malhotra said by the government and the Army’s own admission, terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Bangladesh had been “re-activated” and preparations were on for large-scale infiltration into the country by militants.

The BJP also condemned the move in Andhra Pradesh to introduce 5 per cent reservation for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions and threatened to launch a nationwide agitation if the decision was not reversed.

“This is a retrograde move which, if not immediately reversed, will sow the poisonous seed for the growth of a new communal movement inspired by the two-nation theory that led to Partition,” party President M. Venkaiah Naidu told newspersons.
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No deadline on FDI issue: CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today said that no deadline had been set for rolling back the hike in the FDI cap, but would “bite harder” if the UPA deviated from the Common Minimum Programme.

Talking to newspersons, CPM leaders Nilotpal Basu and Basudev Acharya said the Left parties would not do anything which would help the BJP to come back to power.

At the same time, it would not be a mute spectator and watch the UPA government led by the Congress to deviate from the CMP.

Mr Basu said the support of the Left to the UPA government was the mandate of the people and the CMP formed the basis on which it agreed to support the government.

“If there is any deviation from the CMP, as has been in the FDI cap issue, we would speak out,” Mr Basu said.

However, on the Godhra issue, the leaders came out in defence of the UPA government’s move to order a fresh inquiry into the Godhra massacre, saying the forensic laboratory report on the incident had necessitated the move.

“The government has taken the right and legal action as the Forensic Laboratory report finding that the fire did not break out inside the S6 coach of the ill-fated Sabarmati Express has changed the entire perspective on the gory incident,” Mr Acharya said.
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Remove Sekhon, says Panthic Morcha
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Leaders of the Panthic Morcha today urged Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to hold the SGPC polls afresh and to remove the Gurdwara Election Commissioner Justice J.S. Sekhon (retd.) for allegedly acting in a partisan manner in the just concluded SGPC elections.

In a letter to the Home Minister, member of the Panthic Morcha and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) Prem Singh Chandumajra demanded the removal of Justice Sekhon and that the results of the SGPC elections should not be notified and a new Gurdwara Election Commissioner be appointed to hold SGPC elections afresh.

He alleged that Justice Sekhon acted in a partisan manner and his acts helped the SAD.

“The GEC interfered in an unauthorised manner to postpone some stages of elections by three days after the declaration of election schedule and played in a partisan manner to order re-polling in Dera Baba Nanak constituency,” the letter said.
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Gangrape of 3 Dalit women: 11 arrested
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today informed the Lok Sabha that police had arrested 11 persons in connection with the gangrape of three Dalit women in Madhya Pradesh earlier this month besides suspending two police officials for the negligence of duty.

In a statement, Mr Patil told members that the victims had been provided a financial relief of Rs 50,000 each. The state government was also taking action to impose a collective fine on the persons who encouraged the crime rather than preventing it, he said.

He said as per the report received from the Madhya Pradesh Government, three women belonging to the Dalit community were allegedly gangraped on July 8 between 11 pm and 12.30 am in Bhomatola village in Seoni district.

A number of men from another community barged into the house of Dhan Singh, allegedly dragged the three women out of the house, then took them out of the village and gang raped them.

This was apparently in retaliation to an allegation that son of Dhan Singh had run away with a girl belonging to their community, about which a missing person report was registered at Kanhipara police station on July 6.

The report said after the incident, the accused persons brought the victims in a procession into the village. When this dastardly act was being committed, all accomplices were witnessing this and were encouraging the accused.
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Truant monsoon may hit economic growth, says minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 16
Foodgrain production in the country experienced a steep decline of over 18 per cent in 2002-03, when the country experienced one of the worst drought in the recent past.

With the monsoon again playing truant and decline in the sowing area of kharif crops in different parts of the country, the prospect of decline in production looms large, which could affect the overall growth of the economy.

Minister of State for Agriculture Kanti Lal Bhuria in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha said from 212.85 tonnes production in 2001-02 it declined to 174.19 million tonnes, plunging by 18.16 per cent.

The minister said to encourage higher investment in agriculture and boost agricultural production, the government each season announce a minimum support prices (MSPs) for major agricultural commodities.

To protect farmers from the effects of fall in the market prices below MSP level, the government organises purchase operations through public and cooperative agencies such as the Food Corporation of India and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
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Mumbai police rescues 27 minor girls
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 16
The Mumbai police last night rescued 27 minor girls who were employed as dancers in brothels and ladies’ bars here. In all 19 persons employed as managers of these joints and pimps were arrested and over 140 customers detained, the police said.

Another 71 women employed as dancers at these bars have been detained for verification of age, the police said. Some of the bar dancers have been arrested for performing nude, the police said.

These raids were part of a major initiative to curb minors from across the country being introduced into Mumbai’s flesh trade, the police said.

Mumbai’s Police Commissioner A.N. Roy told reporters earlier this week that “we are considering the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against pimps, touts and the brothel owners.” At present those held for prostitution are quickly released on bail.
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Stamp paper accused escapes

Ahmedabad, July 16
An accused in the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam who was an alleged close aide of mastermind Abdul Karim Telgi, escaped from CBI custody early this morning.

Kishore Patel, who had actually turned an approver for the CBI last year, and was brought to his house in the Gujarat Housing Board quarters from Surat at midnight, told the officials accompanying him that he wanted to answer nature’s call.

When two constables took him to the toilet, Patel’s wife Falguni pushed the accused towards the back door to help him escape through the common passage of the society, the police said. — PTI
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Further stay on Vaiko trial 
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 16
The Supreme Court today extended its stay on the trial of MDMK leader Vaiko in a special court in Chennai under POTA for his alleged support to the cause of the LTTE.

A Bench of Mr Justice S N Variava and Mr Justice Arijit Passayat extended the stay of the trial of Mr Vaiko and eight other persons in view of the Central POTA Review Committee, giving him the clean chit recently.

Mr Vaiko in his petition contended that despite the committee clearing him of the POTA charges, the Tamil Nadu Government did not withdraw the case.Top

 
BRIEFLY

Pipeline blast cripples OIL
GUWAHATI:
The pipeline blast by the ULFA near Duliajan in upper Assam on Thursday has crippled Oil India Limited, as it has been forced to shut down its LPG plant, 12 wells and the captive power plant in upper Assam. OIL sources from Dulaijan confirmed that they had closed down at least 12 gas-producing wells because the massive blast near Tingrai Charilai had blown apart a substantial portion of the pipeline carrying associated gas produced along with the crude. — UNI

27 injured in police firing
Imphal:
At least 27 mostly women, were injured when the security forces fired at rally supporters, who came out in large numbers defying the indefinite curfew in various parts of the state on Friday. Security forces stationed in different parts of greater Imphal fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse rally supporters who had gathered in huge numbers. The protestors pelted stones and brickbats at the police. — UNI

HC rejects Sharma’s bail plea
MUMBAI:
The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of former city Police Commissioner R.S Sharma, charged with aiding and abetting the crime syndicate of Abdul Karim Telgi in the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam. Hearing Sharma’s plea, Mr Justice Dilip Bhosale upheld the order of a Special Court in Pune rejecting his bail but ordered expeditious trial. — PTI

India fascinates SA actress
MUMBAI:
Ilene Hamman, South African model-turned Bollywood actress, who is here to shoot for Pooja Bhatt’s Hindi film, has said she liked India and considered herself to be part and parcel of the film industry. Ilene said she enjoyed her shooting experience and stay in India for her latest film “Rog”. — PTI
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