SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Soren issue rocks Parliament
New Delhi, July 22
The treasury benches in the Parliament today looked helpless as the determined opposition parties stalled the proceedings in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the third day over Shibu Soren issue.

Soren case shameful, says Jaya
CPI fumes at BJP for raking up Soren issue

PM speaks to Advani on LS, RS functioning
New Delhi, July 22
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today spoke to BJP leaders L. K. Advani and Jaswant Singh to secure their cooperation in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

Rahman elected RS Deputy Chairman
New Delhi, July 22

Chartered Accountant turned educationist K. Rahman Khan was today unanimously elected as the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who pledged to “enforce discipline with a human face”.



Mr K. Rehman Khan is garlanded by his supporters after he was elected the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI photo
Mr K. Rehman Khan is garlanded by his supporters after he was elected the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha



EARLIER STORIES

 

Contractor ‘dupes’ BSF
Jaipur, July 22
An Amritsar-based contractor of Punjab has duped the BSF in Barmer, Jaisalmer and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan by manipulating hefty payments in a “scam” involving nearly Rs 1.40 crore, says a special internal audit report.

5,000 Indians working in Iraq
New Delhi, July 22
The government today informed the Rajya Sabha that at least 5,000 Indian workers are in Iraq even as the fate of the three Indian kidnapped by militants in Iraq hangs in balance.

HP move on water pacts sans cause of action: Punjab
New Delhi, July 22
The decision of the Himachal Pradesh Government to move the Supreme Court against the termination of all water accords by Punjab with the neighbouring states since 1981 is being seen by the Punjab Government as an attempt to seek legal remedy without any cause of action.

Rs 500 cr needed to predict rain accurately: Sibal
New Delhi, July 22
Union Minister of Science and Technology and Ocean Development Kapil Sibal today claimed that India needed just “Rs 500 crore” one time investment to install world-class infrastructure to predict monsoon “accurately.” Speaking at a press conference, he said: “The Prime Minister has agreed with the proposal and has asked the ministry to submit the proposal to the Planning Commission.

Women members of farmer families of Ghantikeri area offer a special prayer for rain due to the drought threat, in Hubli on Thursday. — PTI

Rainfall 12 pc less this season

Women members of farmer families of Ghantikeri area offer a special prayer for rain due to the drought threat, in Hubli

Tamil Nadu Education Director suspended
Madurai, July 22
In a major action against a senior education officer over the Kumbakonam fire tragedy, the Tamil Nadu Government has placed under suspension the Director of Elementary Education R Kannan for “failure to supervise his subordinates” in the department.The Italian ambassador to India, Antonio Armellini,

Italy opens visa call centres in India
New Delhi, July 22
The Italian Embassy today announced the opening of visa call centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi and Jalandhar from August 16.


The Italian ambassador to India, Antonio Armellini, at a press meet to announce the expansion of visa services in India by the Italian embassy, in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI photo

BJP against religion-based reservation
Lucknow, July 22
Redefining communalism, newly-appointed UP BJP chief Keshari Nath Tripathi termed the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Left parties as the most communal for indulging in vote-bank politics.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh (left), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S R Reddy (centre) and TDP leader and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at Parliament House
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh (left), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S R Reddy (centre) and TDP leader and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday, where an all-party delegation from Andhra Pradesh met the PM . — PTI photo
In video:
Reddy urges Prime Minister to sort out water crisis between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. (28k, 56k)

Andhra HC stays quota for Muslims
Hyderabad, July 22
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today suspended the operation of the controversial state government order providing for 5 per cent reservation to Muslims.

Editorial: Andhra goes ahead

UP monsoon session begins
Lucknow, July 22
The opening day of the monsoon session of the UP Vidhan Sabha passed peacefully today as it was adjourned till Friday after mourning the deaths of sitting BJP MLA Ghanshyam Shukla, child victims of the Kumbakonam school fire and other ex-members of the House.

‘Chandni Bar’ director charged with rape bid
Mumbai, July 22
The Mumbai police is investigating a complaint filed by a model that film director Madhur Bhandarkar had tried to rape her.

31 pc of coolies in debt: survey
New Delhi, July 22
Even though the railway coolies in the five metropolitan cities work, on average, for 84 hours a week, their monthly income is not uniform and varies from Rs 1200 to Rs 18,500.

Dawood gangster brought to Mumbai
Mumbai, July 22
Cornered in Dubai and with no place to flee to, Tariq Parveen, a lightweight member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, surrendered to the police in the UAE and was deported to Mumbai.

Vote-on-Account gets Parliament’s approval
New Delhi, July 22
Parliament today approved Vote on Account of Rs 4.79 lakh crore for the next few months, marking completion of the first stage of the budgetary exercise for 2004-05 with the Rajya Sabha returning the relevant appropriation Bills by a voice vote amid pandemonium.

CBFC irked over explicit videos
New Delhi, July 22
Concerned over the explicit scenes in numerous music videos aired on various television channels, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has decided to put its foot down and act tough against them.

Rajiv award for Agnivesh, Moideen
New Delhi, July 22
Social activist Swami Agnivesh and Madari Moideen have been honoured with the 12th Rajiv Gandhi National Award for their “outstanding humanitarian services to people”.

CPI to oppose govt’s ‘anti-people’ moves
New Delhi, July 22
The CPI said today that it would not oblige anybody by pulling down the government but protest inside and outside Parliament to oppose its proposed “anti-people” moves, including the hike in FDI cap in three strategic sectors.

CPI, students protest Manipuri woman’s death

New Delhi, July 22
Demonstrating against the alleged custodial death of a Manipuri woman, the activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Manipuri students took to the streets in the Capital today.


Activists of the CPI demonstrate against the Assam Rifles on the issue of killing of innocent persons in Manipur, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi

Activists of the CPI demonstrate against the Assam Rifles on the issue of killing of innocent persons in Manipur, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday.

All-party MPs’ forum launched
New Delhi, July 22
Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today launched an all-party parliamentarians and professionals forum today on some crucial issues facing people.

Videos

Petrol prices shoot up in Tripura due to highway blockage.
(28k, 56k)

Have you got tuned to Sanjay Bhatia's 99.9FM radio station?
(28k, 56k)


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Soren issue rocks Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The treasury benches in the Parliament today looked helpless as the determined opposition parties stalled the proceedings in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the third day over Shibu Soren issue.

Angry opposition members disrupted the proceedings and sought to know the whereabouts of the Coal Minister, wanted by Jharkhand police in a 30 year-old murder case, and demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister. An arrest warrant has been issued against him by a Jharkhand court in connection with the Chirrudih massacre.

In the Lok Sabha, as soon as Speaker Somnath Chatterjee took his seat and read out the obituary reference of Ajay Mushran, a former member of Lok Sabha from Madhya Pradesh. The BJP members trooped into the well and began raising anti- government slogans.

The Speaker asked Leader of the Opposition L K Advani to make his point. Mr Advani said it was unprecedented in the annals of Parliamentary history the a warrant was pasted on the House of the Minister, whose whereabouts were not known.

Amid the din, Mr Chatterjee asked the members to go ahead with the Question Hour. For nearly 45 minutes, the Opposition protest and the regular business of the House went on simultaneously. Treasury benches were seen thumping the tables, when Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar continued to answer the questions even as a relentless Opposition sought to pin down the government on issue.

At 11.45 a.m., the Speaker adjourned the House till 1200 noon. No sooner had the Speaker taken his seat after the House reassembled, the adamant BJP members trooped into the well and began shouting slogans, continuing with the tempo that forced the earlier adjournment.

At this time, Anand Gete, (Shiv Sena) and some other opposition MPs raised fingers at Speaker’s authority asking him why he had continued with the question hour. That was sufficient to provoke Ramkripal Yadav and other RJD MPs, who rushed to the Opposition benches leading to pandemonium, which saw members of the Treasury and the Opposition nearly coming to blows. The situation was saved from worsening with the intervention of some leaders from both sides.

Sensing that the Opposition was hell-bent on disrupting proceedings, the Speaker adjourned the House till 1400 hours without making any attempt to persuade the angry members. When the Lok Sabha reassembled, the Speaker announced to adjourn the House till 11 am tomorrow.

The sources later told that Speaker was quite peeved at the behaviour of some of the Opposition members for questioning his authority. They said he also offered to submit his resignation if the members could not behave in a “dignified “manner.

In the Rajya Sabha, members demanded a statement by the Prime Minister on the whereabouts of the ‘’absconding’’ minister. As the Prime Minister was not in present, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP whose question was listed for reply, went a step further and asked if the Prime Minister was with the ‘’absconding’’ Minister. He said the question belonged to the Prime Minister and he should be present in the House to reply.

As the uproar continued for about five minutes, Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat adjourned the House till noon. At noon, the House reassembled for the election of the Deputy Chairman. Though the election was a smooth affair, the ruckus began immediately after the election of Mr K Rehman Khan when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh quietly slipped out of the House, evoking strong protests by the Opposition.

Amid the slogan shouting by the members, Rajya Sabha Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat allowed the members to move their Special Mentions in the House before adjourning the House till 2 pm. Later, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day.

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Soren case shameful, says Jaya
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 22
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa today attacked the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh.

While she described the issue of arrest warrants against Union Coal Minister Shibu Soren as “national shame”, she did not spare Congress President Sonia Gandhi, accusing her of including “tainted” ministers in the Union Ministry.

She said: “I do not blame Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Ask Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who picked up the ministers. The country had seen many governments at the Centre but it is for the first time in independent India that such a situation has arisen that a union minister is hiding,” she said.

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CPI fumes at BJP for raking up Soren issue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The Communist Party of India (CPI) today criticised the Opposition for stalling Parliamentary proceedings by raking up a 30 year-old case against the Union Minister for Coal and Mines, Mr Shibu Soren.

Addressing the mediapersons here on Thursday, CPI Deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gurudas Dasgupta alleged that the BJP was playing the “politics of rank opportunism” by raking up the case to put the United Progressive Alliance government in trouble.

“If it were a question of morality, then L.K. Advani would not have led the protest in the Lok Sabha today as he is also chargesheeted in the Babri Masjid demolition case which led to riots and killings. Was the obstruction of a place of worship a national movement,” asked Dasgupta.

CPI leader in the Lok Sabha and former Chief Minister of Kerala, P.K. Vasudevan Nair and senior CPI leader, Ajay Chakraborty said the case against Soren was registered three decades ago when he was leading a tribal movement against the land mafia and moneylenders. They said that the case did not come up earlier because the JMM was part of the BJP-led combination in Jharkhand.

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PM speaks to Advani on LS, RS functioning
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today spoke to BJP leaders L. K. Advani and Jaswant Singh to secure their cooperation in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

However, his entreaties appeared to have fallen on deaf ears as the BJP remained adamant on disrupting Parliament with Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani taking the lead in the battle against the Treasury Benches.

This is not the first time that Dr Singh has appealed to the BJP leaders not to disrupt Parliamentary proceedings. He had even spoken to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in this context before the commencement of the Budget session. Aggressive BJP members have, however, been holding up proceedings on some pretext or the other even as the two Houses have witnessed some ugly scenes. In fact, the BJP has adopted a confrontationist stance ever since the Congress-led UPA government came to power, not even allowing the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address.

Lashing out at the BJP, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the Opposition behaviour in Parliament clearly shows that they have lost faith in all parliamentary norms. They have, he said, not just rushed into the well of the two Houses but also misbehaved with the presiding officers and the staff. “This is most objectionable,” Mr Sharma said, adding that their behaviour shows the BJP is yet to reconcile to the election results. “They are behaving like poor loosers,”, he added.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad also assailed the BJP for its persistent disruption of proceedings. According to him, the BJP walkout on the Finance Minister P.Chidambaram’s Budget speech yesterday was uncalled for, aimed at misleading the House.

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Rahman elected RS Deputy Chairman
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Chartered Accountant turned educationist K. Rahman Khan was today unanimously elected as the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who pledged to “enforce discipline with a human face”.

He was unanimously elected after Shiv Sena’s candidate Eknath Thakur withdrew his symbolic candidature.

Soon after his election, Mr Khan (65), who today resigned as the Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizer said, “I will enforce discipline with a human face.”

His name was proposed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad along with 12 other sets of proposals, including one from Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, after Leader of Opposition Jaswant Singh and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Nirupam announced withdrawal of Mr Thakur’s candidature.

The Sena leader said the party had pitted Mr Thakur to register protest for not being consulted by the government.

Mr Nirupam said the party decided to withdraw the candidature after Mr Azad and Mr Jaswant Singh met him to persuade and pave the way for unanimous election of Mr Khan keeping in line with the tradition of the Upper House.

Mr Khan, who was Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers in the Dr Manmohan Singh government, replaced Najma Heptulla, who was the Deputy Chairperson for two terms. Ms Heptulla had quit the Congress to join the BJP recently and was critical of Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the Lok Sabha elections.

Soon after the election, Mr Khan was escorted by Dr Manmohan Singh, who is also the Leader of the House, and the Leader of Opposition to his Chair.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Leader of the Opposition in the House Mr Jaswant Singh felicitating Mr Khan hoped that he would adopt a balanced approach and help in carrying all sections of the House along .

A Congress loyalist emerged as a dark horse for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman’s post.

In his three-and-half-decade political career, Mr Khan, spent his formative years in politics in Karnataka where he gained considerable experience as a member of the Legislative Council.

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Contractor ‘dupes’ BSF
Manohar Prabhakar
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 22
An Amritsar-based contractor of Punjab has duped the BSF in Barmer, Jaisalmer and Bikaner districts of Rajasthan by manipulating hefty payments in a “scam” involving nearly Rs 1.40 crore, says a special internal audit report.

The contractor, Mr Gurnam Singh, considered close to former BSF Inspector-General Bakh-shish Singh, had managed a contract for the construction and shifting of 80 observation posts and towers more than four years ago.

According to the audit report, Mr Gurnam Singh did not qualify to apply for the tenders published in a local newspaper on February 18, 1999, for shifting 16 towers. The rules required the contractor should have been registered with the CPWD with adequate experience whereas Gurnam had no such registration except that a few months before bagging the BSF work on contract, he had registered himself as a contractor with the Punjab PWD on November 15, 1998. Apart from this, the certificate of being an income tax payee which he submitted to the BSF authorities was in the name of Punjab Paint House, which indicated that he was not eligible to take up the kind of work the BSF had advertised for.

The audit report pointed out that since minimum three tenderers were required under the rules, the two others who submitted their quotations were Mr Tejinder Singh and Mr Raminder Singh. Strangely enough, the addresses mentioned in the tender forms by Mr Gurnam Singh and Mr Tejinder Singh were identical. Mr Gurnam Singh mentioned his address as 1797-V13, Chowk Mana Singh. Amritsar, which was repeated in the Tejinder Singh’s tender form also.

The report has identified four major irregularities leading to heavy financial losses. Firstly, the contractor was allotted tenders at 35.63 per cent higher rates as compared to the rates prevailing at that time. Secondly, the transportation and dismantling rates granted under the contract were also higher than the market rates.

Thirdly, out of the 61 work orders given to Gurnam, large payments were sanctioned to him in advance against 56 works, flouting all financial rules. Lastly, although works were not completed within the stipulated period, Gurnam continued to receive further work orders.

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5,000 Indians working in Iraq
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The government today informed the Rajya Sabha that at least 5,000 Indian workers are in Iraq even as the fate of the three Indian kidnapped by militants in Iraq hangs in balance.

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that seven Indians had died and three were injured in various bomb explosions in Iraq.

He said the government had tightened the emigration control to prevent Indian workers from being misled into employment in Iraq. Heads of Indian Missions in Iraq and its neighbouring countries had been instructed to give top priority to all matters concerning Indian nationals there and to pursue actively with local authorities and employers of Indians for ensuring their safety and to give assistance to those who wanted to return to India.

Delays in repatriation in some cases were due to the prevailing security situation and time involved in obtaining transit visas for Indian workers from the neighbouring countries, he informed.

He said the government had taken up with Jordan and Kuwait the issue of facilitating the transit of Indians leaving Iraq. In Iraq, Indian Mission officials had been instructed to visit various camps to ascertain the well-being and safety of Indians, he added.

The minister said the government had suspended emigration clearance for Iraq with effect from April 15 and with Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE from May 7 in respect of ex-servicemen to prevent recruiting agents from using these countries for taking them to Iraq.

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HP move on water pacts sans cause
of action: Punjab

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 22
The decision of the Himachal Pradesh Government to move the Supreme Court against the termination of all water accords by Punjab with the neighbouring states since 1981 is being seen by the Punjab Government as an attempt to seek legal remedy without any cause of action.

“Himachal Pradesh has no cause of action to move the court in real legal terms as its interests are not affected,” Punjab’s counsel in the Supreme Court say.

The observation of Punjab’s counsel is on the lines of the legal advice rendered to Himachal Government by its lawyers that it has no immediate cause of action to file a petition in the apex court on the issue because it was not clear what would be the state’s loss in real legal terms.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh’s Law Secretary has arrived here to further discuss the issue with its lawyers.

The Virbhadra Singh government is understood to have been persuaded by the Congress high command to move the apex court after opposition-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan had not shown any inclination to file petitions on the issue at this stage.

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Rs 500 cr needed to predict rain accurately: Sibal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Union Minister of Science and Technology and Ocean Development Kapil Sibal today claimed that India needed just “Rs 500 crore” one time investment to install world-class infrastructure to predict monsoon “accurately.”

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “The Prime Minister has agreed with the proposal and has asked the ministry to submit the proposal to the Planning Commission. We are hopeful that funds would be released soon by the government.”

The modernisation of the department of Meteorology will enable the country to predict rains at the district-level in advance by one to three weeks. It will help millions of farmers and other sectors to utilise the information for economic benefits.

When asked whether lack of infrastructure with the Department of Ocean was also hindering the forecast of weather, he answered in negative adding that there was no shortage of manpower or infrastructure with the department. “It is rather the Meteorology Department that needs additional funds to improve its forecast capability,” he averred.

Mr Sibal said as per the forecast of the department, the country would receive 85 to 90 per cent of average rainfall as against normal rainfall during the month.

He disclosed that India would soon submit its claims with the UN urging to extend country’s continental shelf by about 1 to 1.5 million square km to the economic zone of 2 million square km around Indian costal belt.

Mr Sibal said India’s claims would be based on the findings of the Indian scientists that there were sediments of up to 1 km depth around Indian coastal belt.

It will prove that that sediments were made of silts from the Indian soil, so as per the UN guidelines, economic zone could be extended by that limit, he added.

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Rainfall 12 pc less this season
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The country recorded 12 per cent less rainfall during this monsoon season, the Met Department said here today.

According to data available till July 21, the rainfall is deficient by 12 per cent. Out of 36 subdivisions, 17 are deficient and 19 have excess or normal rainfall, it said.

North-West India is deficient by 20 per cent, Vidarbh by 37 per cent and Telangana by 39 per cent, he said, adding that Rayalseema has gained to be in the normal rainfall category.

In the next three-four days, the northern region was likely to get scattered rainfall.

However, a cyclonic circulation over the east Bay of Bengal and the shifting of monsoon trough towards south might enhance rainfall in eastern part of the country, it added.

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Tamil Nadu Education Director suspended

Madurai, July 22
In a major action against a senior education officer over the Kumbakonam fire tragedy, the Tamil Nadu Government has placed under suspension the Director of Elementary Education R Kannan for “failure to supervise his subordinates” in the department.

Though the Director was not directly responsible for the fire tragedy which claimed the lives of 93 students, he owned the moral responsibility as his subordinates had indiscriminately sanctioned permission for opening the schools without proper verification of infrastructure and other facilities, a top education department official said.

“Had he kept a proper and tight supervision, the lapses would not have occurred. That is the feeling on the part of the government which ordered the suspension of the Director,” the official said.

Director of Teachers Training Research Institute Mariappan, will hold additional charge as the Director of Elementary Education.

The police has so far arrested 16 persons, including the school correspondent, a retired district elementary education officer and an assistant district elementary education officer, in connection with the July 16 tragedy.

Meanwhile, the toll in the July 16 fire tragedy in this temple town rose to 93, with one more girl succumbing to burns early this morning.

Mariammal (8) died at the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital around 5.30 am.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the family of Mariammal. — PTI

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Italy opens visa call centres in India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The Italian Embassy today announced the opening of visa call centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi and Jalandhar from August 16.

Italian Ambassador Antonio Armellini told reporters here that India was the first country where the system was being introduced.

Antonio said “Our initiative is aimed at providing efficient, convenient and fast visa services in order to meet the growing demand for business, tourism and other types of visas from the travellers. India is becoming a major player in the international economic and political arena and we are happy to respond to the needs of growing numbers of Indians who want to travel to Italy.”

I am also glad to confirm that the Italian National Carrier Alitalia has inaugurated on the 10th of this month direct flights six days a week between New Delhi and Milan, in addition to the already operating six weekly flights between Mumbai and Milan,” Mr Armellini added,

The Italian envoy said the Italian Embassy issued about 33,000 visas last year and hoped that more visas will be issued this year.

The call centres will be set up in collaboration with VFS India Pvt Ltd, a division of Kuoni India.

While the Italian Embassy would be the deciding authority on the grant of visas, VFS would be responsible for disseminating information, providing advice and guidance, and accepting and scrutinising applications, VFS Operations Head Jervis D’Souza said.

He added that the visa applications from Delhi will be processed within 48 hours.

However, student applications, diplomatic and adoption cases would be dealt with directly by the embassy.

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BJP against religion-based reservation
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 22
Redefining communalism, newly-appointed UP BJP chief Keshari Nath Tripathi termed the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Left parties as the most communal for indulging in vote-bank politics.

Addressing the press soon after formally taking charge as the Uttar Pradesh BJP Chief, he did not mince words in criticising these parties for fanning communalism by their decision to support the 5 per cent job quota in Andhra. Mr Tripathi said his party would oppose religion-based reservation and not tolerate the division on Indian society.

Blaming the trio for projecting the BJP as a communal party when it was effectively fighting against terrorism, Mr Tripathi pointed out that because of the “communal politics” of the Samajwadi Party in UP, the administration had turned lax, helping the ISI gain ground in several districts. Denying any infighting in the BJP, the new party chief had as proof outgoing party chief Vinay Katiyar sharing the dais with him. Mr Katiyar reciprocated the gesture by thanking all for supporting him during his two-year tenure. Senior leaders like Lalji Tandon and Kalraj Mishra were conspicuous by their absence.

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Andhra HC stays quota for Muslims
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 22
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today suspended the operation of the controversial state government order providing for 5 per cent reservation to Muslims.

A Division Bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice Devender Gupta and Mr Justice C.V. Ramulu, dealing with a batch of four writ petitions, pointed out that prima facie, the government order was contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The Andhra Pradesh Government had on July 12 provided for 5 per cent reservations for Muslims in educational institutions and employment through inclusion of the community in the list of backward classes.

The court asked the Advocate-General to place before it the report of the Commissioner of the Minority Welfare based on which the state government had issued the quota order for Muslims.

Referring the case to a larger Bench for which the hearing was posted to July 27, the court ordered that the Muslim quota be kept pending in the ongoing admissions to the medical and engineering courses till the court pronounces its final decision.

The Sangh Parivar and the BJP have stoutly opposed the Congress Government’s announcement, alleging that quotas based on religion would lead to another partition of the country.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said the government would soon bring in legislation in the place of the government order, thus ensuring that there were no legal hurdles in its implementation.

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UP monsoon session begins
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 22
The opening day of the monsoon session of the UP Vidhan Sabha passed peacefully today as it was adjourned till Friday after mourning the deaths of sitting BJP MLA Ghanshyam Shukla, child victims of the Kumbakonam school fire and other ex-members of the House.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav announced a CBI inquiry into the circumstances in which the freak accident claiming the life of Mr Shukla took place. Mr Shukla represented the Mujehna Vidhan Sabha constituency in Gonda district.

Mr Yadav announced a grant of Rs 21 lakh for the families of the victims.

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‘Chandni Bar’ director charged with rape bid
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 22
The Mumbai police is investigating a complaint filed by a model that film director Madhur Bhandarkar had tried to rape her.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Bipin Kumar told reporters that the model filed a complaint at the Versova police station in suburban Mumbai yesterday. He, however, did not reveal details of the case.

Bhandarkar’s office refused to divulge details of his whereabouts.

Bhandarkar, who shot to fame as an assistant to Ram Gopal Verma, is the director of Chandni Bar. He is now making a film on celebrities and the party set, called Page 3, starring Konkana Sen Sharma, Sandhya Mridul, Atul Kulkarni and others.

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31 pc of coolies in debt: survey
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Even though the railway coolies in the five metropolitan cities work, on average, for 84 hours a week, their monthly income is not uniform and varies from Rs 1200 to Rs 18,500.

A survey, conducted by the Labour Bureau in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata, found that the majority of the railway porters remained available for the porterage for more than 12 hours a day at the railway station.

The survey found that over 31 per cent of the total sample porter families were found to be indebted and the incidence of indebtedness increased with the increase in the size of family.

Moneylender was the major source of loans despite the fact that it involved very high interest rate almost up to 120 per cent per annum, the survey said.

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Dawood gangster brought to Mumbai
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 22
Cornered in Dubai and with no place to flee to, Tariq Parveen, a lightweight member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, surrendered to the police in the UAE and was deported to Mumbai.

Shortly after he was brought to Mumbai by an Air-India flight from Dubai early on Tuesday, the police and central intelligence agencies took him into custody. He was interrogated at the airport before being shifted to the police headquarters.

Parveen is wanted for putting up illegal constructions in different parts of Mumbai. His biggest efforts were the Sara and Sahara shopping centres that came up on government land opposite the Mumbai police headquarters in downtown Mumbai.

According to police sources here, Parveen allegedly gave himself up to the authorities in Dubai and revealed his true identity in order to enable his deportation to India. He had been living in the UAE and other countries under an assumed name after he escaped from India some years ago.

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Vote-on-Account gets Parliament’s approval

New Delhi, July 22
Parliament today approved Vote on Account of Rs 4.79 lakh crore for the next few months, marking completion of the first stage of the budgetary exercise for 2004-05 with the Rajya Sabha returning the relevant appropriation Bills by a voice vote amid pandemonium.

The House also passed the Appropriation Bill for withdrawal of Rs 878.83 crore of the Consolidated Fund of India to meet certain excess expenditure for 2001-02 financial year.

The Bills were passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram replied to the Budget discussion in which he announced changes in rates of secruties transaction tax introduced for the first time this year.

The money Bills were returned amid din with Opposition members trooping into the Well of the House, demanding action against Coal Minister Shibu Soren. — PTI

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CBFC irked over explicit videos

New Delhi, July 22
Concerned over the explicit scenes in numerous music videos aired on various television channels, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has decided to put its foot down and act tough against them.

“The CBFC takes a serious view with many of these music videos, primarily of the private albums, showing scenes not conforming to the stipulated standards. We have prepared a report enlisting steps to stop such videos from being aired and take action,” said CBFC chief Anupem Kher.

He said the music videos should be certified by the CBFC before going on air. But the rule is often flouted as most of the channels showing the videos are aired from outside India. — PTI

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Rajiv award for Agnivesh, Moideen

New Delhi, July 22
Social activist Swami Agnivesh and Madari Moideen have been honoured with the 12th Rajiv Gandhi National Award for their “outstanding humanitarian services to people”.

The award, carrying a citation and Rs 1.25 lakh each, will be presented at a function on 20 August, 2004, the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Member Secretary of the Award Committee Rameshwar Thakur said in a statement here today.

The Advisory Committee of the Award on July 19 had selected Swami Agnivesh and Mr Moideen for the honour at a meeting. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi. It was chaired by former Chief Justice A.M. Ahmadi, Mr Thakur said. — PTI

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CPI to oppose govt’s ‘anti-people’ moves
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
The CPI said today that it would not oblige anybody by pulling down the government but protest inside and outside Parliament to oppose its proposed “anti-people” moves, including the hike in FDI cap in three strategic sectors.

CPI leader in the Lok Sabha Gurudas Dasgupta told mediapersons here on Thursday that the UPA was a multi-party government and ought to adopt a participatory approach. “They should listen to us and we should be able to speak to them,” he said.

Speaking about the Union Budget for 2004-05, the CPI leader said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had only addressed the grievances of the stock market but had had no time to consult the Left and trade unions. “This is not a comfortable situation. Mr Chidambaram should realise that it is the compulsion of the situation that a consensus be struck on matters like FDI, the EPF interest rate or a comprehensive law for the unorganised sector. He must strive for a consensus on contentious issues like FDI cap and EPF interest rate. If he does not, it will be bad situation for everybody ,” Mr Dasgupta said.

The CPI leader said they were not against FDI as such but they wanted the government to mobilise domestic resources, unearth black money, broaden the tax net and implement tax laws. He reiterated the Left opposition to increase in share of foreign capital in sensitive sectors like insurance and telecom. “The Left will raise a public outcry to oppose and protest such moves,” he said.

CPI Leader in the Lok Sabha P.K. Vasudeavan Nair told mediapersons that the Left had extended support to the UPA government on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in the interest of the common people. He said the government should remember that it was voted to power for not just opposing the BJP’s communal politics but also people wanted an alternative economic policy.

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CPI, students protest Manipuri woman’s death
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Demonstrating against the alleged custodial death of a Manipuri woman, the activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Manipuri students took to the streets in the Capital today.

Raising slogans condemning the alleged custodial death of a 32-year-old woman by Assam Rifles, the protestors demanded punishment to the guilty.

The placards that sought the removal of the Headquarters of Assam Rifles from Manipur, were carried by the demonstrators.

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All-party MPs’ forum launched
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal today launched an all-party parliamentarians and professionals forum today on some crucial issues facing people.

Mr Atwal said Parliament had limited time at its disposal and many crucial issues were not adequately touched. He said poor educational facilities and plight of the landless were issues that might never get the status of being “urgent” but were important for country’s development.

He said the forum was being established to enable the parliamentarians, in active consultation and cooperation with people involved in various fields, to study the issues in depth and provide practical and viable inputs to the government.

The MPs, who are part of the forum, said special emphasis would be laid on speedy decision-making in areas like tourism, agriculture, information-technology, roads, power, infrastructure, aviation and industry.

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BRIEFLY

Farmer, family commit suicide
GUNTUR (AP): A debt-ridden farmer, his wife, and two children committed suicide at Allurivaripalem in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, the police said here on Thursday. While the bodies of the couple were found hanging from the ceiling in the house, those of the children were on the floor, the police said. It is suspected that the couple hanged the children first and then hung themselves. The farmer Srinivas Rao (40), who had seven acres of land, had taken a loan for cultivation expenses. — PTI

World’s largest rangoli
NAGPUR: Nagpur girl Vandana Joshi has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records with flying colours with the prestigious book recognising a Rangoli made by her as the largest one of its kind in the globe. The publishers of the records book have issued a certificate recognising a 466- sq-metres Rangoli made by her on February 7, this year as the ‘’world’s largest rangoli pattern’’. — UNI

Kids watch porn sites most?
MUMBAI: Children in the age group of 12 to 17 years are the largest consumers of Internet pornography, a recent study suggests. According to a study conducted in the country by the Hathway Cable Internet, the average age of first Internet exposure to pornography is 11 years. One out of four kids view sexually explicit pictures on the web while one out of five receive sexual solicitation via chat or e-mail. — UNI

Man kills 8 children
ITANAGAR: In a shocking incident, a man killed eight children and injured four others, including an infant, at Natam village, about 35 km from Daporijo in Arunachal Pradesh. The accused Tosing Natam killed his neighbour’s children, who were in the age group of one to five years, on Tuesday, the police said. Natam committed the heinous crime in a fit of rage over a personal dispute. The police has launched a manhunt to apprehend the suspect. — UNI

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