SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Indian job-seekers languish in Iraqi jails
Baghdad, July 27
Forty-three-year-old Baljendra Singh from Punjab, is a broken man. Baljendra Singh, along with dozens of other Indians, is sheltering in his embassy in Baghdad after spending more than two months in Iraqi jails for entering the country illegally.


In video: Iraqi captors extend the deadline to behead the seven hostages. (28k, 56k)

Pak appeals for release of hostages
Islamabad, July 27
Expressing concern over the kidnapping of two Pakistani nationals in Iraq, the country’s National Assembly today passed a resolution demanding their release even as the government said any decision to send troops to the war-ravaged nation will be taken after taking the House into confidence.

400 perish in Bangladesh floods
Dhaka, July 27
At least 100 more persons were reported killed in Bangladesh’s floods today, taking the death toll from three weeks of devastation to almost 400, officials said. About two-thirds of the low-lying and impoverished nation is under water in the worst floods in 15 years.

Graphic: Bangladesh Floods Continue

Children look through steel nets in a flood shelter in Dhaka on Tuesday Children look through steel nets in a flood shelter in Dhaka on Tuesday. At least 100 more persons were reported killed in floods in Bangladesh on Tuesday, taking the death toll to almost 400. — Reuters photo

Stomach flu kills 177 in Nepal
Kathmandu, July 27
A stomach flu in Nepal has killed up to 177 persons and sickened more than 12,000 since April, mostly residents in remote villages with no access to modern medicine, health officials said today. Gastroenteritis has affected 22 districts across the Himalayan kingdom, the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Control said.


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton greets her husband and former US President Bill Clinton after introducing him to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on Monday
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton greets her husband and former US President Bill Clinton after introducing him to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on Monday. — AP/PTI


EARLIER STORIES

 
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat smiles next to Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (left) smiles next to Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday. Qurei withdrew his resignation on Tuesday after Arafat granted him some powers to carry out reforms, easing a paralysing leadership crisis.

Legendary British guitarist John McLaughlin plays with Indian singer Shankar Mahadevan at the 39th San Sebastian Jazz festival in Spain
Legendary British guitarist John McLaughlin (right) plays with Indian singer Shankar Mahadevan at the 39th San Sebastian Jazz festival in Spain on Tuesday. — Reuter photos

UK opens doors to
India-born twins
London, July 27
After a six-month immigration battle, test-tube twins born to their maternal grandmother in Gujarat have been allowed to enter Britain to be re-united with their genetic parents. The twins, a boy and a girl, made history when they were born in a fertility clinic in Gujarat after their 46-year-old maternal grandmother, who has four children of her own, agreed to carry the embryo from her daughter, who was unable to give birth because of a rare gynaecological disorder Rokitansky Syndrome.

7 French Taliban released from Guantanamo
Paris, July 27
France Info radio reported today that the USA had handed over seven French nationals, detained at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to French authorities. “We have nothing to say at this stage except that we are continuing our contacts’’ with the USA over the men’s release, said the French Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous. France Info said the released detainees would arrive aboard a specially chartered flight.

Fake marriages rock South Africa
Johannesburg, July 27
South Africa is urging women to check their marital status after many discovered that corrupt officials had “married” them to foreign husbands without their knowledge. The scam has allowed foreign men to obtain South African citizenship by fraudulently marrying women whose identity cards had been stolen and divorcing them before they found out.

Hate wave in USA
Washington, July 27
The recent incidents of beheading of foreigners by Islamic militants in Iraq and Saudi Arabia have prompted hate crimes against Muslims in the USA, a media report said.

Open-billed storks take flight from harvested rice fields in Thailand's Suphan Buri province on Tuesday Open-billed storks take flight from harvested rice fields in Thailand's Suphan Buri province on Tuesday. Migrating birds, including storks, are widely blamed for spreading the H5N1 bird flu strain, which so far has killed millions of chickens and 24 humans, eight Thais and 16 Vietnamese, earlier this year. — Reuters

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Indian job-seekers languish in Iraqi jails

Baghdad, July 27
Forty-three-year-old Baljendra Singh from Punjab, is a broken man. Baljendra Singh, along with dozens of other Indians, is sheltering in his embassy in Baghdad after spending more than two months in Iraqi jails for entering the country illegally.

“I am shattered after what has happened to me and all of us here,” said Baljendra, sitting on a wooden bench in one of the corner rooms of the embassy.

Wearing a black turban and a striped long kurta, the farmer appeared lost and helpless like many others huddled together in the room.

“We have been waiting for the past 20 days in this room, waiting to go back home after spending months in Iraqi border jails,” he said.

Duped by their Indian agents, these unemployed men were arrested by the Syrian authorities in May while trying to enter the country illegally on their way to Lebanon and Greece.

The Syrians jailed them for a day before dumping them over the border in Iraq, where they were locked up for more than two months, before the Indian embassy learned of them.

The group arrived in Amman in May on a tourist visa and were driven into Iraq by another agent, who later smuggled them into Syria.

“But on the Syrian border our vehicle broke down and the agent’s man left us stranded,” Baljendra said.

“The Syrian police caught us and put us in jail. They looted us and took all the good clothes and other items we had and after a day pushed us into Iraq, where the Iraqi police arrested us.”

Like thousands of illegal migrants, the group was bound for Greece and other European destinations in the hope of earning a livelihood to support their families back home.

“But now we pray only to go back home somehow,” said 24-year-old Shyam Lal, who closed his tea stall in India to go to Europe.

“Our families are worried as we were not able to contact them for two months when we were in jail,” Lal said. “It was this dream I had. I thought even I could have those big cars and a good house if I work abroad, and so I came.”

He paid around Rs 70,000 to agents in India for a single-entry visa to Jordan. “The agent promised once we were there (Jordan) we will be taken safely to Lebanon or Greece where there were good jobs,” Lal said.

Officials at the Indian embassy said nearly 100 Indians had been arrested in the past two months by Iraqi and Syrian authorities for illegal entry.

“It is such an embarrassment. On the one hand we send rockets and on the other we have such cases of illegal human trafficking. People back home who indulge in such crimes should be punished,” one official said.

The terrified group does not dare step outside the embassy compound for fear of being kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents. — AFP
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Pak appeals for release of hostages
K J M Varma

Islamabad, July 27
Expressing concern over the kidnapping of two Pakistani nationals in Iraq, the country’s National Assembly today passed a resolution demanding their release even as the government said any decision to send troops to the war-ravaged nation will be taken after taking the House into confidence.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri in a statement to the Assembly said “Any decision to send troops to Iraq will be taken after taking the National Assembly into confidence.”

The House later unanimously adopted a resolution demanding release of the two Pakistanis kidnapped in Iraq.

Appealing for the hostages’ release, Kasuri said Pakistan had not sent the troops as UN protection force to Iraq so far despite US request and no decision in this regard had been taken.

A few weeks ago a similar resolution moved by the

Muthahida Majlis Amal helped the release of a Pakistani abducted by the Iraqi militants. — PTI
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400 perish in Bangladesh floods

Dhaka, July 27
At least 100 more persons were reported killed in Bangladesh’s floods today, taking the death toll from three weeks of devastation to almost 400, officials said.

About two-thirds of the low-lying and impoverished nation is under water in the worst floods in 15 years.

Disaster relief officials said the new deaths were reported from all over the country and victims had died of drowning, disease, snakebites or in house collapses.

The current floods have killed nearly 1,000 persons across South Asia, including about 400 in India’s eastern state of Bihar.

The death toll in the eastern Indian state of Assam rose to 170.

In Dhaka, thousands of families were crammed in overflowing temporary shelters where authorities were distributing limited supplies of food and drinking water.

Officials said more than 100,000 people had moved into schools and high-rise buildings in the city, and thousands more were expected to join them.

‘’There is hardly any room left for them,’’ said an official in the Old Dhaka area. The situation turned worse as rising floodwater entered some of the shelters, witnesses said.

The floods have inundated large parts of the capital city of 1 crore people, forcing thousands of residents to take boats to work.

Many streets were under waist-deep water, where boats replaced rickshaws as primary mode of transport.

The city’s sewage system has broken down and water-borne diseases are rampant.

‘’Conditions are getting worse every day. The water is rising and bringing in more filth,’’ said Abu Kalam, a government official in Dhaka’s Madartek area. ‘’We are living in an open sewer.’’ Authorities have warned the public against eating fish caught in floodwaters. Fish and rice are staples in the reverie nation.

Authorities and volunteers distributed cooked food and drinking water in jerry cans in the shelters but supplies were inadequate, witnesses said.

“It is difficult to cope with huge demand for life-saving materials but we are trying not to deprive anyone,’’ said a disaster management official.

The government’s flood monitoring cell has so far confirmed 329 deaths while health officials said at least 60 people died of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases.

Nearly 500 patients were being treated in Dhaka’s International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research hospital today.

Doctors said the flow of patients, mostly children, would rise once the floodwaters started receding.

It is the worst flooding in Bangladesh since 1988 when about 3,500 people died.

The floods have left more than 1 crore people homeless.

Agriculture officials said paddy and other crops worth $ 380 million had been lost.
— Reuters

Bangladesh Floods Continue
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Stomach flu kills 177 in Nepal

Kathmandu, July 27
A stomach flu in Nepal has killed up to 177 persons and sickened more than 12,000 since April, mostly residents in remote villages with no access to modern medicine, health officials said today.

Gastroenteritis has affected 22 districts across the Himalayan kingdom, the Department of Epidemiology and Disease Control said.

Symptoms of the waterborne disease include fever, nausea, cramps, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

The villagers can spend days or even weeks walking to the nearest town with a doctor or health clinic.

Heavy rainfall in recent weeks has also made it difficult for people to travel. Roads and trails in many areas have been either washed away or blocked by landslides.

The Health Ministry said doctors and medicines had been sent to most districts affected by the disease. — AP
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UK opens doors to India-born twins

London, July 27
After a six-month immigration battle, test-tube twins born to their maternal grandmother in Gujarat have been allowed to enter Britain to be re-united with their genetic parents.

The twins, a boy and a girl, made history when they were born in a fertility clinic in Gujarat after their 46-year-old maternal grandmother, who has four children of her own, agreed to carry the embryo from her daughter, who was unable to give birth because of a rare gynaecological disorder Rokitansky Syndrome.

The twins were not given British passports because they were born in India and their host mother was not a British citizen. However, their father’s family has been British for four generations.

The twins had to wait for six months before they were granted a temporary visa yesterday to visit their parents in Ilford, east London.

Their visa will last a year, but when it expires they could be forced to leave the country, The Guardian reported today.

Yesterday, the twins’ paternal grandfather spoke of the family’s anger and confusion at the treatment of the children. “We cannot be sure about the babies’ future in this country,” he told the London Evening Standard.

“I am British, their father is British and my own grandfather was British. I don’t understand why we had to go through all this trouble to get them here.

His 26-year-old daughter-in-law said: “The babies are a miracle and have brought me so much happiness.”

According to current surrogacy legislation, children born in circumstances similar to this case are judged to have the same nationality as their birth mother rather than their genetic mother. — PTI
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7 French Taliban released from Guantanamo

Paris, July 27
France Info radio reported today that the USA had handed over seven French nationals, detained at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to French authorities.

“We have nothing to say at this stage except that we are continuing our contacts’’ with the USA over the men’s release, said the French Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous.

France Info said the released detainees would arrive aboard a specially chartered flight. It was not clear under what conditions the men had been handed over to France.

The men are expected to be interviewed by anti-terrorism judges following their return to France.

In May, French Justice Minister Dominique Perben said during a visit to Washington that some or all of the Frenchmen held in Guantanamo could be released within weeks. — Reuters
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Fake marriages rock South Africa

Johannesburg, July 27
South Africa is urging women to check their marital status after many discovered that corrupt officials had “married” them to foreign husbands without their knowledge.

The scam has allowed foreign men to obtain South African citizenship by fraudulently marrying women whose identity cards had been stolen and divorcing them before they found out.

Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe yesterday said a nationwide “marriage verification campaign” was under way after 3,387 fake marriages were discovered, some dating back to 2001.

He said the police had arrested two persons from Bangladesh and was investigating the involvement of South African Government officials who helped issue fake marriage certificates once given the women’s stolen identity numbers.

”Some women get mugged, others are robbed. Some persons just lose their ID and it ends up in the wrong hands,” Mashokwe said. “They work hand-in-hand with corrupt officials.” Illegal immigration is a problem in South Africa, which since the end of apartheid has become a magnet for newcomers attracted by its strong economy, developed infrastructure and multi-cultural society.

The Star newspaper yesterday reported that 23-year-old South African Nicolene Saunders was told by the priest who performed her wedding that her marriage certificate had been refused because she already had a husband.

“I don’t know this man from a bar of soap,” a distraught Saunders said. While thousands of fake marriages have been reported, more are though to be undiscovered and the government is asking all women to keep check on their status, even if already married.

“We’re telling them to go and check their status. If they got married in church, are they sure their marriage has been registered?” Mashokwe said.

Once a woman finds out she has been fraudulently married, he said, she can report it to the government and the marriage will be invalidated without her having to go through a divorce. — Reuters
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Hate wave in USA

Washington, July 27
The recent incidents of beheading of foreigners by Islamic militants in Iraq and Saudi Arabia have prompted hate crimes against Muslims in the USA, a media report said.

The killings and hostage crisis in Iraq and Saudi Arabia evoked a new wave of hate crimes against Muslims in America despite efforts to educate the public that those actions did not represent the values of the Muslim religion, Islamic leaders were quoted as saying by The Tallahassee Democrat.

The first such wave was witnessed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the USA.

“It is getting worse and worse”, Altaf Ali, executive director of Council of American-Islamic Relations. — PTI
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BRIEFLY


Hollywood director Manoj Night Shyamalan arrives for the world premiere of his new film The Village in New York
Hollywood director Manoj Night Shyamalan arrives for the world premiere of his new film The Village in New York Monday. The movie opens on July 30. — AP/PTI

Blast damages Pak radio station
Islamabad:
An antenna of the Radio Pakistan was damaged in a bomb blast on night in the tribal region close to Afghan border, where Pakistan army is engaged in operation against suspected foreign militants, officials said here on Tuesday. The blast in Wana, the major town in South Waziristan tribal agency, resulted in the suspension of transmission in parts of the area, they said. — PTI

3 perish in hospital collapse
Kabul:
The collapse of a hospital building under construction in the Afghan capital has killed at least three workers and injured 22 others, officials said on Tuesday. A Chinese construction company was working on the hospital building in central Kabul when it collapsed on Monday. “Two bodies were recovered from under the debris and one died later in hospital,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.
— AFP

Chernobyl veteran dies on strike
Moscow:
Pyotr Budenny, a veteran of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl, died in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region while on hunger strike, the Interfax news agency reported. Budenny went on hunger strike after a six-year wait for the local authorities to provide him with proper housing which Chernobyl veterans were entitled to within three months of registration. — AFP

2 Palestinians killed in Gaza
Gaza City:
As many as two Palestinians were killed and five others wounded during a firefight with Israeli troops in Gaza City early Tuesday, hospital officials said. Security sources said one of those killed was a member of the Islamist movement Hamas. A second man was killed after Israeli special forces surrounded his home in the east of the city, although it was not immediately known if he belonged to any armed faction. — AFP

14 foreign troops wounded
Baghdad:
Insurgents fired several mortar rounds in central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding 14 foreign soldiers, the US military and police said. A military spokesman said he had no information on the nationalities of the wounded troops, or where they were when the attack happened. The mortars were fired on early Tuesday near the ‘’Green Zone’’ compound which houses the interim Iraqi government and the US embassy, a target of repeated attacks. — Reuters

Gay marriage annuled
BORDEAUX, (France):
A French court annulled France’s first gay marriage on Tuesday, setting a legal precedent outlawing same-sex marriages. ‘’The tribunal declared null and void the marriage between Mr. Stephane Chapin and Mr Bertrand Charpentier,’’ the court in the south-western city of Bordeaux said in its ruling. French law allows civil unions between homosexuals but gays say this puts them at a disadvantage in terms of tax, inheritance and adoption rights. — Reuters
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