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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Rs 1-cr package for fire victims’ kin
Kumbakonam, July 18
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today announced a package of Rs 1 crore from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the families of the victims of the Friday’s fire mishap in which 90 schoolchildren died and several others were injured. In video (28k, 56k)

Editorials: Children aren’t for burning
Teachers’ betrayal

Bihar, Assam flood toll 194
Itanagar, July 18
The flood situation in Bihar, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh continued to remain grim, claiming 194 lives so far and rendering millions homeless even as the situation returned to normal in north Bengal.
Residents of Muktapur village stand on a flood- submerged railway track Residents of Muktapur village stand on a flood- submerged railway track in Samastipur, some 110 km north of Patna, on Sunday.
— AFP photo

BJP rules out poll pact with INLD
New Delhi, July 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party today ruled out an electoral alliance with the ruling Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana.

In video: BJP condemns job reservation policy for Muslims. (28k, 56k)

BJP President Vankianaidu addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi


BJP President Vankianaidu addresses a press conference

India among least developed, reports UNDP
New Delhi, July 18
About one-third of the newly born children in India are underweight, one-fifth of the population is undernourished and over 70 per cent of the population in the country has no access to adequate sanitation - reveals Human Development Report 2004.


Editorial: Celebrating diversity





Bollywood actress and Samajwadi Party MP from Rampur Jaya Prada lights the lamps
Bollywood actress and Samajwadi Party MP from Rampur Jaya Prada lights the lamps at a function in Allahabad on Sunday. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES

 
Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia obliges her little fan with autograph
Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia obliges her little fan with autograph during the promotional campaign of her latest film "Julie" in Kolkata on Saturday night. — PTI

Earth’s magnetic field: India had raised alarm in 1995
Mumbai, July 18
While efforts are on by European scientists to monitor the rapidly decreasing magnetic field of the Earth through satellites, Indian researchers were the first to report the ground data from the Indian Antarctic stations at Maitri in 1995, Indian Institute of Geomagnetism sources said here today.

Kohli to be lodged in Tihar jail
Kolkata, July 18
CBI officials camping at Kalimpong are meeting the necessary formalities for taking Hannah Foster’s alleged killer, Maninderpal Singh Kohli, to New Delhi. Kohli will be kept in the Tihar jail before he is extradited to Hampshire, UK, to stand trial on the charges of rape and murder of 17-year-old high school girl Hannah Foster on March 14 last year at Southampton.

7 of Kolkata family commit suicide
Kolkata, July 18
Seven members of a family today committed suicide under a “suicide pact” in Tollygunj’s Charu Market area in south Kolkata. While six members — Mr Gaurangha Pal, his wife, two sisters and two sons —jointly committed suicide by taking poison at dinner last night, the seventh one Sankar Pal, hanged himself by a rope.

New twist to unwed mother scandal
Dehra Dun, July 18
In a significant turn in the unwed mother scandal, Jenny, alias Indira Deuri, the Assamese woman who rocked Uttaranchal after levelling charges of rape against former state Revenue Minister Harak Singh Rawat, said today he was not the father of her child.

BSF Cmdt involved in ‘fake killing’
New Delhi, July 18
Even before the issue of the Siachen fake killings could die down, a similar incident of alleged fake encounter by a BSF Commandant in Kashmir purportedly to claim a gallantry medal has come to light.

Visva Bharati ex-Registrar arrested
Kolkata, July 18
With the arrest of yet another former Registrar of Visva Bharati, Prof Dilip Mukherjee, and the Trinamool Congress’ decision to file a case in court tomorrow against former Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati, Pabitra Sarkar on his “fake D.Phil degree”, the controversy in these two major educational institutions has come up again.

Badrinath pilgrimage resumes today
Dehra Dun, July 18
The pilgrimage to Badrinath, which was suspended after mudslides, will resume on Monday. Pilgrims would be allowed to pass a tunnel in Joshimath on foot. The tunnel would remain open from 11 am to 2 pm, Disaster Management officials said.


Videos

International singing sensation Tata Young to sing for "Dhoom".
(28k, 56k)

Charlie Chaplin in India!
(28k, 56k)

Tripura polls for village bodies despite rebel threats.
(28k, 56k)

Arrest warrants issued against Union Coal Minister Shibu Soren.
(28k, 56k)

Talks between Sri Lanka Government and LTTE in India's interest, says Chidambaram.
(28k, 56k)

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Rs 1-cr package for fire victims’ kin
Arup Chanda

Kumbakonam, July 18
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today announced a package of Rs 1 crore from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the families of the victims of the Friday’s fire mishap in which 90 schoolchildren died and several others were injured.

After visiting the injured children at the burns ward in the local hospital this afternoon, Ms Gandhi said, “On behalf of the Prime Minister, the UPA Government will give Rs 1 crore to the families of the victims. A sum of Rs 50,000 each will be paid to the families who lost their children and Rs 10,000 each to those who were injured.

An additional fund of Rs 50 lakh would be released for a pilot area development scheme for Kumbakonam and the adjoining areas to replace all thatched roofs in schools, training for teachers and students to combat such eventualities and making fire-proof school buildings and kitchens there.

An additional Rs 25 lakh would be released by the HRD Ministry for a child development fund in this area.

Ms Gandhi, accompanied by three Union Ministers — Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer and Mr E.V.K.S. Elangovan, spent around an hour at the hospital. She also visited Lord Krishna Secondary School, the scene of Friday’s devastating fire.

Her visit forced the district administration to arrange extreme security measures, inconveniencing entire administration once again.

After spending around two hours here, Ms Gandhi flew in a helicopter to Trichy and then took a New Delhi-bound flight.

Meanwhile, the managements of three schools in this temple town have opened their doors to 740 students of Lord Krishna Secondary School for admission free of cost and provided them with free textbooks.

The Thanjavur District Collector, Mr J. Radhakrishnan, said counselling for the surviving children and the parents who lost their children was being conducted by psychiatrists. None of the teachers of the ill-fated school was available but the police was looking for them to investigate the entire incident.

A number of surviving children who came for admissions today said many of them were given different names to show them as students in the Tamil section of the school. Said Jennifer: “Though I studied in the English-medium section, I was named as Mahalaxmi and asked to sit in the Tamil section.” The reason was the school management’s nefarious design to obtain more funds from the state government by hiking up the number of students in the Tamil-medium section.

Saranya, a survivor, said: “The teachers had asked us to run upstairs to the first floor when the fire broke out in the kitchen on the ground floor. I managed to escape but ran back to save my brother who was in the first-floor classroom but by then he had died.”

Another survivor complained: “Though the teachers asked us to run upstairs when the fire broke out, we ran towards the toilet and jumped the wall.”
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Bihar, Assam flood toll 194

Itanagar, July 18
The flood situation in Bihar, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh continued to remain grim, claiming 194 lives so far and rendering millions homeless even as the situation returned to normal in north Bengal.

The situation in Bihar remained critical despite receding trend of water as the natural calamity claimed 128 lives so far. Latest deaths were reported form Darbhanga (19), Khagaria (5) and Begusarai (2).

Official sources today said three worst affected districts of Darbhanga, Sitamarhi and Sheohar remained cut off from rest of the country for eighth consecutive day today. The sources said swirling flood waters of Burhi Gandak had entered into the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp at Muzaffarpur last night.

In Assam, the overall flood situation, which had so far affected a total of nine million persons in 26 districts, remained unchanged despite a receding trend in many districts. The death toll in the state rose to 66.

Flood situation in Arunachal, which had improved during the past few days, turned critical today with the second wave of the flash flood hitting the state following continuous downpour since Friday night, affecting more than one lakh persons besides loss of properties and standing crops worth over crores of rupees.

The new wave of floods had badly affected Lohit, east Siang, lower Dibang valley, Dibang valley and a few areas in Changlang districts, while flood waters had already submerged more than half of Pasighat town under east Siang district and inundated many villages under Chowkham, Namsai, Mahadevpur, Sonpura and Piyong circle in Lohit district. — UNI
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BJP rules out poll pact with INLD
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party today ruled out an electoral alliance with the ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana.

The party will fight the poll in Bihar and Jharkhand mainly on the plank of “development versus anarchy, while the issue in Haryana will be an “alternative” government to change the trend of restricting governance to a few families, BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu told newspersons after a meeting with party leaders from the states where Assembly elections are due this year.

The BJP will contest the coming Assembly elections in Bihar and Jharkhand in alliance with the JD (U), but the party will go it alone in Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh, Mr Naidu said.

The decisions were taken after meetings with party leaders from the states in the past three days. Senior leaders Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Jaswant Singh and Ms Sushma Swaraj also attended the meeting today, Mr Naidu said.

In Haryana, there may be understanding with “local groups” for a few seats, but the BJP would contest the poll mainly on its own strength, Mr Naidu stressed.

The party had already prepared a broad time-table for the elections. There would be state-level camps for two-three days, depending upon the requirement of individual states.

In another development, the party decided to return to its old anti-minority agenda coming out in the open once again against what it calls the “appeasement of Muslims”.
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India among least developed, reports UNDP
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
About one-third of the newly born children in India are underweight, one-fifth of the population is undernourished and over 70 per cent of the population in the country has no access to adequate sanitation - reveals Human Development Report (HDR) 2004, in a way slamming the India Shining campaign and urging the government to make extra efforts.

India is ranked 127th in the Human Development Index, much lower than its competitors in the global market like China (94), Brazil (72) and even war-ravaged neighbour Sri Lanka (96). Norway has been ranked first among the 177 countries and Sierra Leone has been ranked at the bottom.

Widely acclaimed in the international circles, the report laments that despite high growth rate of the economy and economic reforms, India has failed to improve its social indicators. For instance, life expectancy in the country (63.7 years) is lower than its neighbours, Sri Lanka (72.5 years) and Maldives (67.2 years) in the SAARC region. It claims that among the developing countries, India does not fare well as far as health indicators are concerned.

By 2001, the country’s public health expenditure was just 0.9 per cent of the GDP as against 1.8 per cent in Sri Lanka, 3.6 per cent in Bhutan and 1.6 per cent in Bangladesh. Commenting on the burgeoning population, it adds that only 48 per cent of the country’s population is using contraceptives as a birth control measure. Even in an Islamic country like Bangladesh, 54 per cent of the couples are using contraceptives.

The HDR has been prepared under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Appreciating India’s unity in diversity, the report warns “ modern India is facing a grave challenge to its constitutional commitment to multiple and complementary identities with the rise of groups that seek to impose a singular Hindu identity on the country.”

Obliquely referring to the Gujarat riots, the report adds, “these threats undermine the sense of inclusion and violate the rights of minorities in India today. Recent communal violence raises serious concerns on the prospects for social harmony and threatens to undermine the country’s earlier achievements.”

This year the theme of the report is cultural liberty in today’s diverse world. It asserts that human development requires apart from health and education, a decent standard of living and political freedom. People’s cultural identities must be recognised and accommodated by the state.

Referring to the ongoing debate over a uniform civil code in India, the HDR claims that “ legislation imposing uniformity will only widen the majority-minority divide which is detrimental to both communal harmony and gender quality. What is needed is an internal reform of all customary laws, upholding gender equality rather than imposing identical gender-biased, prejudicial laws across the communities.”

However, recognising the strength of Indian polity and the Constitution, it states that despite country’s diverse and highly stratified society, the Indians are deeply committed to the country and democracy. It points out that over 80 per cent of Indians prefer democracy to any other form of government, and feel proud of their national identification. Further, 60 per cent of the citizens have a great trust in the country’s institutions, much higher than in the developed countries like Australia, Brazil, the USA and Germany.
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Earth’s magnetic field: India had raised alarm in 1995

Mumbai, July 18
While efforts are on by European scientists to monitor the rapidly decreasing magnetic field of the Earth through satellites, Indian researchers were the first to report the ground data from the Indian Antarctic stations at Maitri in 1995, Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) sources said here today.

Scientists from the IIG have been monitoring the Earth’s magnetic field at the Indian Antarctic stations at Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri since 1982 and “the first report of rapid decrease in the Earth’s magnetic (geomagnetic) field was reported by it in 1995,” its acting Director Archana Bhattacharya said.

The rapid decrease in the geomagnetic field has been attributed to the increasing areas of “reverse magnetic flux”, particularly in the southern hemisphere and the strength of the geomagnetic field in this region, derived from these and past observations made by others have shown a rapid decline from around 49,000 nano-Tesla (nT) in 1922 to nearly 40,000 nT in 1995, a decrease of nearly 120 nT per year, Dr Bhattacharya told PTI here today.

The study was very important as many people were not aware of the fact that this magnetic field was cardinally responsible for trapping harmful solar radiations and keeping them at great distances from the Earth. This action prevents them from harming and destroying life-forms on Earth, Dr Bhattacharya said, adding that its geomagnetic field was the first line of defence.

After examination of other nearby locations in Antarctica they had suggested that these observations reflected conditions of reverse magnetic flux postulated by British scientists from the University of Leeds, UK in 1989 and that this could be an indication of an impending reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field polarity, IIG ’s former scientist Girija Rajaram said.

It is worth mentioning that the recent thesis by Arun T. from the IIG, who was awarded a PhD by Mumbai University in November, 2002, was on “Geomagnetic signatures at Antarctica—-diagnostics of internal and external fields” and this work applied the sophisticated mathematical technique and the measurements based on data from over 60 stations located all over the world over the past 50 years.

This brought out the feature that the main dipole part of the geomagnetic field had not changed much over the past half a decade.

“However, higher order terms such as quadrupole and octupole were dropping very rapidly in the southern hemisphere even outside the Antarctica region and this was seen in parts of northern hemisphere too,” Dr Rajaram said.

Currently, the Earth’s magnetic North Pole is in the southern hemisphere while the magnetic South Pole is in the northern hemisphere. However, this has not always been the case. The geomagnetic field undergoes reversals periodically, with the magnetic North Pole becoming a South Pole and vice-versa.

The periodicity for these reversals can range from a few thousands of years to millions of years.

More than 90 per cent of the magnetic field measured on the surface of Earth has its origin deep inside it in liquid iron outer core.

The present day magnetic field observed at the Earth’s surface is dominantly dipolar, with the dipole axis nearly aligned with Earth’s rotational axis. The polarity of the dipole has reversed in the past and these reversals have taken place irregularly at intervals. — PTI
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Kohli to be lodged in Tihar jail
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, July 18
CBI officials camping at Kalimpong are meeting the necessary formalities for taking Hannah Foster’s alleged killer, Maninderpal Singh Kohli, to New Delhi.

Kohli will be kept in the Tihar jail before he is extradited to Hampshire, UK, to stand trial on the charges of rape and murder of 17-year-old high school girl Hannah Foster on March 14 last year at Southampton.

Mr Rajiv Mishra, SP, Darjeeling, said the Punjab police had also filed a petition in the Kalimpong court for taking Kohli to Chandigarh in connection with a separate case. But as the court had already granted permission to the CBI to take Kohli’s possession, the Punjab police would have to negotiate with the CBI in this conection.
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7 of Kolkata family commit suicide
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, July 18
Seven members of a family today committed suicide under a “suicide pact” in Tollygunj’s Charu Market area in south Kolkata.

While six members — Mr Gaurangha Pal, his wife, two sisters and two sons —jointly committed suicide by taking poison at dinner last night, the seventh one Sankar Pal, hanged himself by a rope. His body was found hanging from the ceiling fan of the room while six other bodies, including those of two children, were lying on the floor.

It was stated officially that a suicide note was found from the room, stating that they were committing suicide on their own and that none is responsible for their tragic end.

When the maid servant failed to get any response in the morning despite repeated knocks at the doors, she reported the matter to local residents. Soon the police was called which broke open the doors and found the bodies.

The CID, which is investigating the case, suspected that a huge financial bank liability was the cause of their deaths.
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New twist to unwed mother scandal
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 18
In a significant turn in the unwed mother scandal, Jenny, alias Indira Deuri, the Assamese woman who rocked Uttaranchal after levelling charges of rape against former state Revenue Minister Harak Singh Rawat, said today he was not the father of her child.

Going back on her earlier statements, the woman said Rawat was innocent and should be reinducted into the Cabinet. She had accused him of rape under pressure, she told newspersons here.

Jenny’s statement comes only days after former Revenue Minister Harak Singh Rawat sought to be reinducted into the Cabinet. Mr Rawat, who had stepped down from his post after these charges were levelled against him, said the CBI had given him a clean chit.
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BSF Cmdt involved in ‘fake killing’

New Delhi, July 18
Even before the issue of the Siachen fake killings could die down, a similar incident of alleged fake encounter by a BSF Commandant in Kashmir purportedly to claim a gallantry medal has come to light.

The allegation about the incident of September 8, 2003, has sent shock waves across the BSF establishment and its Director-General Ajai Raj Sharma has ordered a Court of Inquiry (COI) against Commandant Narendra Singh after shunting him out of Jammu and Kashmir to Mizoram, BSF sources said.

As per the allegation by Constable Subhash Rathore of 42 Battalion headed by Singh, a Kashmiri youth had been gunned down by the Commandant and labelled as a Pakistani terrorist.

Rathore alleged that after the “fake encounter”, Singh had tried to claim President’s Gallantry Medal for it and even got a senior officer to recommend his name.

When contacted, the BSF chief acknowledged receipt of Rathore’s complaint against Singh and said a Court of Inquiry (COI) was ordered on July 6 on that basis.

Pending the inquiry, Singh has been transferred to Mizoram, Sharma said, pointing out that one more allegation was pending against the Commandant.

Sharma also confirmed that the Commandant had tried to claim a medal but it was “rejected as the case could not stand scrutiny.” — PTI
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Visva Bharati ex-Registrar arrested
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, July 18
With the arrest of yet another former Registrar of Visva Bharati, Prof Dilip Mukherjee, and the Trinamool Congress’ decision to file a case in court tomorrow against former Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati, Pabitra Sarkar on his “fake D.Phil degree”, the controversy in these two major educational institutions has come up again.

Prof Mukherjee was arrested on Friday from his Ballygunge area residence in connection with his involvement in the fake mark-sheet and certificate racket.

Former Vice-Chancellor, Dilip Sinha and Ms Mukti Deb, a mathematics lecturer, were also arrested in this case on June 25.

Dr Sinha and Ms Deb, who have been in jail, will be produced in the Bolpur court on July 21,where the arrested former Registrar will also be presented.

Dr Sinha and another former Registrar, Prof Dwijadas Banerjee, were also implicated in the Tagore’s Nobel Prize theft case.
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Badrinath pilgrimage resumes today
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 18
The pilgrimage to Badrinath, which was suspended after mudslides, will resume on Monday. Pilgrims would be allowed to pass a tunnel in Joshimath on foot. The tunnel would remain open from 11 am to 2 pm, Disaster Management officials said.

Due to low oxygen content, only medically fit pilgrims would be permitted to cross the four-km-long tunnel, officials said.
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BRIEFLY

Parliamentarian Veerappa dead
Gulbarga:
Veteran freedom fighter and oldest parliamentarian in the present Lok Sabha M. Ramachandra Veerappa died after prolonged illness at a private hospital in Hyderabad on Sunday. Veerappa (96) was under dialysis for a long time following failure of both kidneys. The end came at 5.30 p.m. He is survived by three son and two daughters. His last rites will be held tomorrow in his home town Humnabad in Bidar district. — UNI

Arrest warrant against Soren
RANCHI:
The Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate, Jamtara, has issued an arrest warrant against Coal Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) supremo Sibu Soren in connection with the two-decade-old Chirdih massacre case. The court had passed an arrest warrant on Saturday against 10 accused, including the JMM chief. — PTI

Bihar jail inmates shifted
SAMASTIPUR (Bihar):
Alarmed by the recent escape of 34 prisoners from the Darbhanga Jail, taking advantage of the floods in Bihar, inmates from Khagaria and Rosera sub-divisional jails shifted out of the districts after flood water entered the prisons, official sources said on Sunday. — PTI

Alert on India, B’desh border
SHILLONG:
The Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya has been put on alert after the reported killing of 24 insurgents in Dhaka on Saturday night. At least 24 insurgents of different outfits of the North- East were killed and 26 injured in simultaneous attacks by unidentified gunmen in Dhaka. — PTI
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