SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

PM visits flood-hit Bihar dists
Non-commital on special package
Patna, July 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured all assistance to Bihar devastated by the floods, which has claimed around 450 lives, but remained non-committal on the state government’s demand for a Rs 7000 crore-package to undertake the task of rebuilding the infrastructure and providing relief to victims.
In video (28k, 56k)
In video: Varanasi suffering severe drought. (28k, 56k)
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav in Patna before visiting flood-affected areas on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav in Patna before visiting flood-affected areas on Tuesday. 
— Reuters photo

Nanavati panel rejects Gujarat Govt’s plea
Ahmedabad, July 27
Rejecting the Gujarat Government’s plea seeking “postponement” of its proceedings, the Nanavati-Shah Commission today resumed the cross-examination of police officers, government officials and politicians which was scheduled to begin yesterday.

Indian riot police stand guard as firemen douse a smouldering building during a curfew in Veraval area of Ahmedabad Indian riot police stand guard as firemen douse a smouldering building during a curfew in Veraval area of Ahmedabad on Tuesday. 
— Reuters photo

No impropriety in NHRC appointment, govt tells SC
New Delhi, July 27
The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that the previous NDA government had followed the conventional consultation process scrupulously while appointing former CBI Director P.C. Sharma as member of the NHRC.



Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra
Former Miss World Priyanka Chopra at a press and video conference to promote her film Mujhse Shaadi Karogi in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 

Pranab to visit Punjab soon, says Amarinder
New Delhi, July 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has urged the Centre to release Rs 33.80 crore as “crop and wage loss” to the residents of border areas in Punjab. The Chief Minister, who met Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today, said that he had mainly talked about problems of residents of the border area during his “brief” meeting.

Rebel BJP legislators seek Lalji Tandon’s explanation
Alliance with BSP
Lucknow, July 27
Five rebel BJP MLAs who had been asked to explain their conduct by sitting on the Treasury Benches have demanded action against BJP legislative party leader Lalji Tandon for the alliance with the BSP, causing the downfall of the party in the state.

AP minister in the dock
Son’s alleged relations with woman
Hyderabad, July 27
A senior minister in the Congress government has found himself in the dock over his son’s alleged relations with a woman. The woman, Ms Sivanaga Malleswari, who made a sudden appearance in the Assembly yesterday when the session was on, alleged that Mr Gopal, the second son of Finance Minister and the TDP’s most vocal critic K. Rosaiah, who had married her in 1985 and fathered her two daughters, was trying to abandon her.

Educational institutions can receive donations
Arjun reverses another NDA order
New Delhi, July 27
Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today overturned yet another decision of the previous government. The HRD Ministry withdrew a 2003 order which mandated that all donations for educational institutions be routed through the government’s “Bharat Siksha Kosh”, it was officially announced today. 

Law Commission Vice-Chairman resigns
New Delhi, July 27
The resignation of the Vice-Chairman of the Law Commission, Mr N.M. Ghatate, from the post has sparked off a controversy as to whether this is an attempt by the government to cleanse the system of those who had links with the previous BJP-led NDA government.

Naidu’s tours cost Andhra Rs 17.24 cr
Hyderabad, July 27
Reaching out to people is indeed a costly affair if former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu’s tour bills are any indication. The TDP chief, who ruled the state for the second term from 1999 to 2004, spent Rs 17.24 crore to enable him to attend various official programmes in different districts across the state during his tenure.

India, Myanmar ink rail pact
New Delhi, July 27
India and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding here today for the development of the Myanmar Railways. The MoU was signed by the Joint Secretary, South-East Asia-I, Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ambassador of the Union of Myanmar to India, U.H.E Kyi Thein, at Rail Bhavan.

Prem Bhatia award for Sainath
New Delhi, July 27
Freelance writer and commentator, P. Sainath has been chosen for the 2003-04 Prem Bhatia award for excellence in political reporting and analysis. He has been chosen for his outstanding work on the problems of the poorest of the poor, especially in Andhra Pradesh, a press note said here today.

Gangster shot
New Delhi, July 27
Dreaded inter-state gangster Anil, alias Bhagte, with a prize money of Rs 1.2 lakh on his head, was today shot dead by the Delhi police in an encounter at Nangal Kalan village in Sonepat. Soon after Bhagte (30), one of the most sought after criminals, was shot at about 5 am, his associates Naresh and Sanjay surrendered before the raiding team, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) told mediapersons today. — UNI

NDA exam result declared
New Delhi, July 27
The Union Public Service Commission has declared the results of the written part of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Naval Academy (NA) examination held in April this year. The results are available on the UPSC website www.upsc.gov.in, it said. — PTI


Video
BabyDoll, raising the room temperature.
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PM visits flood-hit Bihar dists
Non-commital on special package

Patna, July 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured all assistance to Bihar devastated by the floods, which has claimed around 450 lives, but remained non-committal on the state government’s demand for a Rs 7000 crore-package to undertake the task of rebuilding the infrastructure and providing relief to victims.

“I share the concerns of the Bihar government and the pain of the victims. The Centre will extend all help to the state in rehabilitating those rendered homeless and revive agriculture destroyed by the flood,” he told reporters after making an aerial survey of worst-hit Darbhanga, Begusarai, Khagaria and Samastipur districts.

The Prime Minister, who held talks with senior government functionaries, including Chief Minister Rabri Devi, however, remained non-committal on the issue of providing a special package to Bihar for relief and rehabilitation, saying that a Central team would visit the state on August 3 to assess the extent of damage.

Meanwhile, the state’s Water Resource Minister Jagdanand Singh who heads the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, said Chief Minister Rabri Devi had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking the financial package.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the Centre had provided Rs 115 crore to Bihar from the National Calamity Fund and National Calamity Contingency Fund for the relief of flood victims.

He said another Rs 400 crore was available with the state for drainage schemes and for strengthening embankments.

Earlier, representatives of various political parties met him at Raj Bhavan and submitted memoranda, seeking the declaration of flood as a national calamity and launching of massive relief and rehabilitation efforts in 19 flood-hit districts.
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Nanavati panel rejects Gujarat Govt’s plea

Ahmedabad, July 27
Rejecting the Gujarat Government’s plea seeking “postponement” of its proceedings, the Nanavati-Shah Commission today resumed the cross-examination of police officers, government officials and politicians which was scheduled to begin yesterday.

The cross-examination did not begin yesterday, as scheduled, as the state government had moved an application before the commission in lieu of a government notification (filed on July 20) which had extended the commission’s scope of reference.

The government in its application had sought to postpone the hearing of government officials and first invite the riot-affected to depose before the panel about riot incidents that occurred between April 30 and May 31, 2002.

Passing the order this morning, Justice Nanavati said, “The commission had gone through the notification. We see no justification in not continuing with the proceedings. The new notification does not require us to stop the proceedings. We do not think continuing the examination process will create any hindrance to the conduct of inquiry.” — UNI
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No impropriety in NHRC appointment, govt tells SC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Centre today informed the Supreme Court that the previous NDA government had followed the conventional consultation process scrupulously while appointing former CBI Director P.C. Sharma as member of the NHRC.

Appearing for the Union Government, Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvatti and a senior advocate informed a Bench comprising Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari that all concerned, including the then leaders of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, were consulted.

“There was unanimity on the appointment of Mr Sharma as member of the NHRC,” they said during a hearing of a PIL petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, PUCL challenging his appointment.

However, the court noted that this aspect of the matter relating to the consultation process was not mentioned in the earlier affidavit filed by the Centre and directed the Union Home Secretary to file a fresh affidavit within two days containing “details leading to the appointment of Sharma as member of the NHRC.”

The government had on February 25 appointed Mr Sharma, an IPS officer of the 1966 batch, as member.

The PUCL had assailed it on the ground that the appointment of a police officer on the human rights’ body would affect the faith of the people.
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Pranab to visit Punjab soon, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has urged the Centre to release Rs 33.80 crore as “crop and wage loss” to the residents of border areas in Punjab. The Chief Minister, who met Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today, said that he had mainly talked about problems of residents of the border area during his “brief” meeting.

He said crop and wage loss to border area residents was caused during military build-up with Pakistan in the wake of terrorist attack on Parliament.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the SYL Canal issue was not touched during the meeting. He said Mr Mukherjee, who was made in charge of Punjab by the AICC, would visit the state during the next fortnight.

The Chief Minister demanded that minimum pass marks for boys from border areas in Army recruitment should be reduced to 33 per cent as education of children from these areas had been disturbed due to frequent Army movement.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that 2005 should be declared as ex-servicemen year in recognition of services of the soldiers and to focus on activities for welfare of ex-servicemen. He urged Mr Mukherjee to evolve a uniform policy to provide social security to the parents of the martyrs. The Chief Minister sought Rs 4.50 crore grant for the War Museum in Ludhiana.

According to an official spokesman, Capt Amarinder Singh also demanded setting up of ad-hoc/advance Punjab/Sikh Regimental Centres in Punjab.
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Rebel BJP legislators seek
Lalji Tandon’s explanation

Alliance with BSP
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 27
Five rebel BJP MLAs who had been asked to explain their conduct by sitting on the Treasury Benches have demanded action against BJP legislative party leader Lalji Tandon for the alliance with the BSP, causing the downfall of the party in the state.

“Instead of holding us responsible for anti-party activities, Mr Tandon should do some explaining as the disastrous alliance with the BSP has completely undermined the party in the state”, charged Mr Mayankeshwar Sharan. He also charged former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for collaborating with Mr Tandon, by turning a blind eye to Tandon’s callous handling of the party.

Mr Sharan, along with Mr Anil Paswan, Mr Daya Shankar Varma, Gobind Kumar Singh and Mr Narendra Singh, have been issued show-cause notices for sitting on the Treasury Benches during the current monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha. Mr Tandon has given them three days till July 28 to explain the reasons for violating the party whip and crossing sides.

These MLAs — reportedly close to Independent MLA and Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Raja Bhaiya — had earlier been suspended by the BJP on the eve of the organisational poll. Their suspension was withdrawn before the recently concluded Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad poll.

Mr Tandon losing grip over his MLAs was earlier evident in the House when he looked on helplessly as a majority of the BJP members continued raising slogans and sitting in dharna in the well of the House.

The Speaker asked Mr Tandon why the BJP was once again disrupting the House when it had been unanimously agreed by all, including him in a meeting in his chamber the previous day to introduce an adjournment motion under rule 56 for discussing the law and order situation for two hours.

The BJP disrupted the House for the third consecutive day today, drawing attention to the daylight murder of block pramukh and BJP leader Ram Naresh in Unnao district.
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BJP’s Goa meeting to focus on defeat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Top leaders of the BJP will hold a three-day brainstorming session in Goa from July 30 to analyse the causes of party’s defeat and plan a strategy ahead of the Assembly elections.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Leader of Opposition L K Advani, former Union Minister Jaswant Singh, Yaswant Sinha and Murli Manohar Joshi besides president M. Venkaiah Naidu are among the 20-odd leaders attending the in-camera session to be held in Goa.

The meeting would consider the ways of expanding the social and geographical base of the BJP, besides giving a detailed look at the tasks ahead, Mr Naidu told newspersons here. 
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AP minister in the dock
Son’s alleged relations with woman
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 27
A senior minister in the Congress government has found himself in the dock over his son’s alleged relations with a woman. The woman, Ms Sivanaga Malleswari, who made a sudden appearance in the Assembly yesterday when the session was on, alleged that Mr Gopal, the second son of Finance Minister and the TDP’s most vocal critic K. Rosaiah, who had married her in 1985 and fathered her two daughters, was trying to abandon her.

The Finance Minister, known for his impeccable credentials in his personal and political life, immediately called a press conference and rubbished the claim as “blackmail,” charging the opposition TDP with enacting the drama to defame him.

Ms Malleswari said Gopal had come forward to take care of the family during a Lok Adalat hearing recently, but again backtracked after his father became a minister. “I have come here to demand justice for me and my daughters through a DNA test,” she told reporters.

However, Ms Malleswari, who entered the Assembly premises on an MLA pass, refused to divulge details as to how she was able to secure entry into the Assembly lobbies and hold a press conference. The letter that she brought to submit to the Chief Minister contained allegations about the political career of the Finance Minister.

Mr Rosaiah, regarded as the most acceptable face in the state Congress known for its group rivalries, is also the most articulate defender of the government and vocal critic of the opposition.

The septuagenarian minister said he was aware that the TDP, unable to digest his leading role in the Assembly in fending off the Opposition offensive, was trying to implicate him in a fabricated scandal.

Accusing the woman of trying to blackmail him during the last many elections, he explained that he had given away his second son in adoption when the latter was seven. Having come to know of his son’s indiscretions, he had severed all ties with him long ago. If she was really Mr Gopal’s wife, she can claim a share in his son’s properties.
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Educational institutions can receive donations
Arjun reverses another NDA order
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today overturned yet another decision of the previous government. The HRD Ministry withdrew a 2003 order which mandated that all donations for educational institutions be routed through the government’s “Bharat Siksha Kosh”, it was officially announced today. With today’s order, educational institutions will now be free to receive donations directly from their alumni and others. The Ministry is yet to take a final view on the continuation of Bharat Siksha Kosh.

The “Bharat Siksha Kosh” was set up by the NDA government during the celebration of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, for generating additional resources for education. However, a subsequent order issued by the then HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi caused much consternation as it disallowed any direct donations to educational institutions and instead wanted all the funds to be routed through this Kosh.

This order was received with strong protests as it was seen as an attempt by the government to control private donations to educational institutions. It blew into a major controversy, especially as it was intended to target the IIT and IIM alumni who had donated huge amounts to their alma mater. One case which drew Dr Joshi’s ire was the hostel funded by Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani at IIT, Powai. The state-of-the art building was dubbed as being too elitist by the previous regime.

The stand-off resulted in the virtual drying up of charitable funds for education in the country. Consequently, neither the Kosh nor the educational institutions got any resources. According to the HRD Ministry, the Kosh has so far received a princely amount of Rs 1,651 from four donors. Not a single NRI has contributed to it, it was stated.Top

 

Law Commission Vice-Chairman resigns
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The resignation of the Vice-Chairman of the Law Commission, Mr N.M. Ghatate, from the post has sparked off a controversy as to whether this is an attempt by the government to cleanse the system of those who had links with the previous BJP-led NDA government.

Mr Ghatate today resigned from the post, saying that he did not feel he was “desired” anymore in the commission.

Mr Ghatate told The Tribune that Commission Chairman Justice M Jagannadha Rao had conveyed the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to reconstitute the commission.

Reports indicated that Union Law Minister H R Bharadwaj had indicated to Mr Rao that the government was not in favour of persons appointed by the previous NDA government.

Mr Ghatate, a well-known Supreme Court lawyer, had defended detainees during the Emergency, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.

His resignation comes close on the heels of the controversial resignation of Governors with RSS links appointed by the NDA government.
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Naidu’s tours cost Andhra Rs 17.24 cr
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 27
Reaching out to people is indeed a costly affair if former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu’s tour bills are any indication. The TDP chief, who ruled the state for the second term from 1999 to 2004, spent Rs 17.24 crore to enable him to attend various official programmes in different districts across the state during his tenure.

Replying to a supplementary raised by Congress member G. Chinna Reddy during question hour today, Revenue Minister D Prasada Rao told the House that the former Chief Minister had incurred the huge amount over the government’s Bell 430 helicopter.

Be it a natural calamity or a Naxalite attack, Mr Naidu used to rush even to the remotest corners of the state to personally supervise the relief operations.

In just one year during 2001-02, the former Chief Minister’s heli-hopping tours cost the exchequer a whopping Rs 4.95 crore.

The minister told the House that the money allocated for renovation and maintenance of AP Bhavan in Delhi and Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad was diverted to meet the expenses for helicopter sorties.
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India, Myanmar ink rail pact
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
India and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding here today for the development of the Myanmar Railways. The MoU was signed by the Joint Secretary, South-East Asia-I, Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ambassador of the Union of Myanmar to India, U.H.E Kyi Thein, at Rail Bhavan.

The prime objective of the MoU is to improve passenger services on the Yangon-Mandalay trunk line and upgradation of tracks, signalling and communication systems, and maintenance facilities on the Myanmar Railways.

Under the MoU, The Indian Government will make available a Letter of Credit of US $ 56.358 million to the Union of Myanmar for augmenting the Myanmar Railways. It will be operationalised through a separate agreement between the Exim Bank of India and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank.
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Prem Bhatia award for Sainath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Freelance writer and commentator, P. Sainath has been chosen for the 2003-04 Prem Bhatia award for excellence in political reporting and analysis. He has been chosen for his outstanding work on the problems of the poorest of the poor, especially in Andhra Pradesh, a press note said here today.

His painstaking, comprehensive and thorough work was distinguished by deep sensitivity and fresh insights. It explained, among other things, why people of Andhra Pradesh voted the way as they did in the Lok Sabha elections, it said.

Two scholarships for research in media-related subjects would be given to Richard Mahapatra, Chief Reporter of the Down to Earth magazine, and Zafar Iqbal Choudhary, Chief of Bureau of Kashmir Times.

Mahapatra would work on the topic “Environmental meaning of conflict in India” and Choudhary would work on “Women’s space in Kashmir politics.”

Both the award and the scholarships would be presented on August 11, at the 9th Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Prof Zoya Hasa, Chairman of the Centre of Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. 
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BRIEFLY

40 children taken ill after meal
SALEM (TN):
As many as 40 children of a primary school in Ayodhyapattinam district have been hospitalised after consuming mid-day meals, the police said on Tuesday. A lizard had fallen in the food while it was being prepared. The District Collector, Mr A Sukumaran, rushed to the hospital to enquire about the children’s condition. — UNI

Intoxicated food served to students
RAIPUR:
Students of a primary school in Chhattishgarh’s Mahasamund District were served mid-day meals mixed with bhang and liquor apparently to make the food tasty. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the incident after the villagers on July 24 complained during a village camp at Bichhia. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Saraipalli, Mr Ashok Shrivastava probing the matter. — PTI

Job-seekers lathicharged
KOLKATA:
Over 20 job-seekers became the victims of a police lathi-charge and stampede at the Army Recruitment Centre, Behrampore, Murshidabad, about 130 kms from here on Monday. Nine of them have been admitted to the Sadar hospital, where the condition of three was stated to be critical. They were all candidates for 60 posts of jawan and grade four employee of the Army under the Eastern Command at Fort Williams. Over 40,000 job-seekers had turned up at the recruitment centre. — OC
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