SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

HUDA directed to pay relief to plot allottees
New Delhi, August 7
In a major relief to those who had booked plots with the Haryana Urban Development Authority but not been given possession for past several years, the Supreme Court has fixed a compensation interest of 12 per cent on the deposited amount for mental agony caused to them.

Multi-crore rice scam rocks flood-hit Assam
Guwahati, August 7
Assam, which is yet to recover from the impact of the devastating floods, has been rocked by a multi-crore scam in the procurement of rice for distribution among the flood-hit people of Nagaon district.

No understanding with SP, says BJP
New Delhi, August 7
Denying reports of tacit understanding between the BJP and Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today said it would welcome any “tough” step against the state government for its failure to control law and order situation.

Oscar Fernandes Cong poll body chief
New Delhi, August 7
Although power equations in the Congress are constantly changing, Minister for Programme Implementation Oscar Fernandes along with AICC general secretary Ambika Soni and Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, have retained their pre-eminent position in the party.





EARLIER STORIES

 
Villagers remove debris from their flood-damaged huts at Bhayal Dhakrol village in Gujarat
Villagers remove debris from their flood-damaged huts at Bhayal Dhakrol village in Gujarat on Saturday. More than 1,700 persons have died in South Asia, mostly in Bangladesh and eastern India, in weeks of flooding. — Reuters

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha activists protest against JMM chief and former Union Coal Minister Sibu Soren's arrest
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) activists protest against JMM chief and former Union Coal Minister Sibu Soren's arrest, in Ranchi on Saturday. — PTI

Maharashtra Governor Mohamed Fazal and Bollywood actress Gracy Singh
Maharashtra Governor Mohamed Fazal and Bollywood actress Gracy Singh during the launch of the film "White Land—the Mitti" at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on Friday. — PTI

Sonia’s name mooted as Visva Bharati Acharya
Kolkata, August 7
Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s name has been proposed as Visva Bharati’s new Chancellor (Acharya), a post which has been lying vacant following the resignation of the incumbent, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on the eve of the formation of the UPA Government.

Sibal blames tools for failing to forecast monsoon
New Delhi, August 7
With the monsoon forecast going haywire, Union Science Technology Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday sought Rs 500 crore to augment the weather forecasting systems in the country.

Rain hits rescue operations
Dehra Dun, August 7
Incessant rain at Rudraprayag and Joshimath yesterday affected the rescue operations for the pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib, stranded for six days in the area, on Friday.

They have only God to fall back on
Deolali, Maharashtra, August 7
This kidnapping story never made media headlines but is as real to the parents of the abducted accountant Harish Hitange, as it is to the relatives of the captive Indian truck drivers in Iraq.

Withdrawal of Armed Forces Act: protests go on
Imphal, August 7
Several persons were injured when the police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in various parts of Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, here today.

CVC to examine Haryana officer’s cases
New Delhi, August 7
The Supreme Court yesterday directed the Central Vigilance Commission to examine the three departmental inquiries against former Director (Primary Education), Haryana, Sanjiv Kumar, who had accused Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala of “trying to interfere” in the appointment of primary school teachers in 2000.

JMM legislator surrenders; remanded
Ranchi, August 7
Leader of the Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly and JMM MLA Hafiz Hussain Ansari surrendered in the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate in Madhupur here today. Later, he was remanded in judicial custody.

CBI raids SEBI official’s residence, office
Mumbai, August 7
The CBI today raided the office and residential premises of SEBI Chief General Manager (Derivatives) Nagendra Parakh for allegedly amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

30 hurt as police opens fire in Manipur
Imphal, August 7
The situation in Manipur worsened today when over 30 persons were injured, including three in police firing in Imphal East and West districts as hundreds of people attempted to court mass arrest to press for the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state.

Tibet-bound experts to be in Chandigarh today
New Delhi, August 7
The Centre has finalised the team which will go to Tibet to try and “puncture” the artifical lake on a tributary of the Satluj even as latest satellite pictures show the lake to have lesser dimensions than the estimates made on the basis of data provided by the Chinese authorities.

New treatment for limb ulcer at AIIMS
New Delhi, August 7
A team of doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences have performed the country’s first surgery-less treatment for limb ulcer and vericose vein.

Passage of Bill for Urdu varsity in UP deferred
Lucknow, August 7
The passage of the Bill for establishment of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University was postponed yesterday. While no official reason for the postponed was announced in the House, it is hinted that the objection to the proposed Urdu university reportedly came from the Governor who had reservations about Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan becoming the life-long pro-Chancellor.

Flesh trade racket busted
Thane, August 7
The police on Saturday claimed to have unearthed a district-based racket involving kidnapping and sale of girls from Bangladesh for flesh trade and arrested five persons, including three Bangladeshi nationals in this connection.

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HUDA directed to pay relief to plot allottees
S.S. Negi
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 7
In a major relief to those who had booked plots with the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) but not been given possession for past several years, the Supreme Court has fixed a compensation interest of 12 per cent on the deposited amount for mental agony caused to them.

“Considering the very long period during which no possession was given, on an ad hoc basis, we direct that for mental agony/harassment and for increase in cost of construction, the compensation at the rate of 12 per cent from the date of deposit till date of possession be awarded”, a Bench of Mr Justice S.N. Variava and Mr Justice Arijit Passayat ruled.

The court further directed that in those cases where there was no stay on payment of interest by the National Consumers Forum beyond 12 per cent interest, HUDA would pay an interest at the rate of 15 per cent from March 17, 2004 till the date of payment.

HUDA was also imposed litigation cost at the rate of Rs 500 for each allotment, which would go to the Legal Aid Society of the Supreme Court.

Holding the officers concerned of HUDA responsible for the lapse, the Bench said the cost amount must be recovered from them for not paying the money to those who had booked the plots even after a clarification in this regard was issued by the court earlier in a judgement relating to the Ghaziabad Development Authority.

The judgement came on an appeal by HUDA, which had challenged in the apex court the order of the National Consumer Forum, imposing compensation interest rate between 15 and 18 per cent per annum from the date of deposit till the date of possession.

Though HUDA had passed orders for allotment of plots long back, the possession was not granted for years despite the money being deposited by the prospective allottees. In some cases, they were offered alternative plots at a much higher price, the court was informed.

The aggrieved persons had first approached the District Consumer Forum and consequently the matter went to the National Consumer Forum. Not satisfied with its order, HUDA had filed appeal in the apex court.

The court said fixation of 18 per cent interest by the National Consumer Forum could not be sustained as it had laid down guidelines for fixation of interest in the Ghaziabad Development Authority’s case.

In that case, the court held that 18 per cent flat interest could not be granted, though the consumer forums could impose damages for mental agony and harassment where it found “misfeasance” of public office by the officials concerned.
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Multi-crore rice scam rocks flood-hit Assam

Guwahati, August 7
Assam, which is yet to recover from the impact of the devastating floods, has been rocked by a multi-crore scam in the procurement of rice for distribution among the flood-hit people of Nagaon district.

The state government has already ordered a departmental inquiry into the scam with the Joint Secretary of the Food and Civil Supplies Department to inquire into it, official sources said here today.

Meanwhile, the state legislative Assembly which is currently in session has constituted a House Committee to investigate into the allegations that thousands of quintals of rice meant for Arunachal Pradesh was being sold among the flood-affected people of the district.

Former Agriculture Minister Dr Ardhendu Dey, who was dropped in the recent downsizing of the state Cabinet, has alleged that rice allotted for Arunachal Pradesh was stored in Nagaon and Hojai and these were mixed with broken rice and sold at a much higher rate to the flood victims.

“The floods have come as a boon for a section of officers, politicians and businessmen who are out to make money out of the sufferings of the people,” he alleged.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president Brindabon Goswami alleged that some officials of the Nagaon district were involved in the scam and said they should be immediately brought to book.

Mr Goswami further said that farmers are not getting their due price as rice for allotment to the neighbouring states was flooding the markets.

Minister of State for Home Rockybul Hussain said the scam came to light only due to the prompt action taken by the police and alleged that some persons dropped from the ministry were making unneccessary accusations against the government.

He said the government has already ordered a departmental inquiry into the matter and the Nagaon Deputy Commissioner has been asked to submit a report at the earliest

Nagaon Deputy Commissioner Prateek Hajela said the inquiry into the matter has already begun by the concerned department.

Mr Hajela said he has also requested the Commissioner and Secretary of Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the Arunachal Pradesh Government to take action against the transport organisation, which allegedly violated the rules and regulations, while transporting the rice from Nagaon to the neighbouring state.

Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), has demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter and has called a 12-hour ‘Nagaon Bandh’ today to protest against the scam. — PTI
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No understanding with SP, says BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
Denying reports of tacit
understanding between the BJP and Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today said it would welcome any “tough” step against the state government for its failure to control law and order situation.

“The law and order situation in UP is at its lowest ebb. Anarchy prevails there,” BJP general secretary and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh told mediapersons after a meeting with party president M. Venkaiah Naidu at his residence here.

Asked if the BJP favoured the dismissal of the UP government, the BJP general secretary said, “We will favour any tough decision of the Centre against the SP-led government in the state.”

He said the meeting, also attended by newly-elected UP BJP president Kesrinath Tripathi, discussed at length the political situation of the state. It was of the view that the Mulayam Singh Yadav government was there for “namesake” as the law and order situation in the state was deteriorating day by day.

Mr Singh, while responding to another query, denied that the BJP’s UP unit was marred by factionalism and groupism, saying it was a wrong perception.

Endorsing the views of Mr Singh, the BJP’s UP unit president said the law and order in the state was “bad” and the people were suffering due to lack of civic amenities.

He said the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was working in tandem with the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh, which enjoyed full support of the former.

Rubbishing the reports that there was a hidden pact between the BJP and the SP in the state during the recent Lok Sabha elections, he said, “It is a misconception. In fact, the BJP, as a potent opposition, is opposing every misdeed of the SP in the state.”
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Oscar Fernandes Cong poll body chief
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
Although power equations in the Congress are constantly changing, Minister for Programme Implementation Oscar Fernandes along with AICC general secretary Ambika Soni and Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, have retained their pre-eminent position in the party.

After Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Fernandes became the second minister to be drafted by the Congress leadership for party affairs.

While Mr Mukherjee was entrusted with the task of handling Punjab affairs when the AICC team was reshuffled recently, Mr Fernandes was yesterday appointed chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA). Mr Fernandes takes over from senior leader Mr Ram Niwas Mirdha, who has resigned his post.

Mr Mirdha was the first chairman of the CEA after it was constituted in 1999 to conduct organisational elections. His abrupt resignation, especially when party elections are to be held later this year, fuelled speculation in AICC circles. Party insiders maintained that Mr. Mirdha could either be accommodated as a governor or as head of a high-level commission.

Mr Fernandes’ appointment has once again underscored his importance in the party, A well-known Gandhi family loyalist, Mr Fernandes was looking after organisational affairs as AICC general secretary but had to give up his party responsibilities following his induction into the Cabinet.

He is now back in the AICC fold and will be supervising the long overdue organisational elections. Although slated for last March, the elections had to be postponed because of the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress has already asked the Election Commission for an extension for its membership drive.

He may be low-key and self-effacing, but Mr Ahmed Patel remains Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s trusted lieutenant, handling a variety of sensitive assignments which presently includes close coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He was also named as a member of the newly constituted coordination panel between the Congress, UPA government and the Left parties.

Mrs Soni’s proximity to Congress president is well-known and though she had chosen to keep a low-profile after the party’s poor performance in last year’s assembly elections, she bounced back in the recent AICC revamp when she was entrusted with a host of important party responsibilities.

However, another AICC general secretary Janardhan Diwedi is also gaining prominence in the party. A Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist, who is also Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s speechwriter, Mr. Diwedi’s stars are on the ascendent. Not only was he recently promoted as general secretary but he was given a seat in the Rajya Sabha for one of the two vacancies from Delhi.
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Sonia’s name mooted as Visva Bharati Acharya
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, August 7
Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s name has been proposed as Visva Bharati’s new Chancellor (Acharya), a post which has been lying vacant following the resignation of the incumbent, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on the eve of the formation of the UPA Government.

According to official sources, the Visva Bharati sansad has tentatively decided to send a panel of three dignitaries — Mrs Gandhi, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and nobel laureate Amartya Sen — to President A.P.J Abdul Kalam for to choose from as the next Chancellor.

The sansad will meet soon to formally approve the panel and send it to the President, who happens to be the Visitor (paridarshaka) of Tagore’s Visva Bharati.

Though traditionally, the Prime Minister holds the Acharya’s chair at Visva Bharati, there is no legal bar if any other person is appointed to the post.
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Sibal blames tools for failing to forecast monsoon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
With the monsoon forecast going haywire, Union Science Technology Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday sought Rs 500 crore to augment the weather forecasting systems in the country.

Admitting the failure to forecast monsoon, he said the country's weather collection instruments needed to be augmented and new computing models needed to be formulated for forecasting weather with less margin of error.

"If Rs 500 crore is cleared for the weather forecasting, then the experts could come up with district wise forecast for seven days in advance," Mr Sibal told mediapersons here.

Reasoning the need to augment the scientific data collection facilities, he said, "We are not dealing with just the monsoon or rains but human lives dependent on that."

Mr Sibal announced that hence onward the prediction would be done through an integrated approach by assimilating all three kinds of data - from ground, space and oceans.

"Since independence this integrated approach has never been applied," he said.

"If anybody is to be blamed, it is me...we have not provided them what is needed (to predict the monsoon)," Sibal said, adding,"I have spoken with the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) of the need to provide Rs 500 crore for improving the system." The Ministry would approach the Planning Commission for the money, he said.

In July, the country got 81 per cent rainfall while prediction was 98 per cent of normal. Till August 4, the country has got 90 per cent of the normal rain.

He also announced that by August 15, all the data, available with the weather department, would be disseminated at the district level. This was not being done so far, he said.

Prediction at the district level would help planning on agriculture and food distribution fronts during droughts or flood conditions, he said.

Mr Sibal said monsoon prediction needed observations related to the ground, space and ocean data. There were only 182 observatories for 600 districts, while 1,850 were required.

Monsoon prediction also necessitates a dense network of satellite-based automatic rain gauge stations for on-line monitoring, 50 upper air observation points against the currently available 37, 50 wind profilers, 20 s-band doppler radars, and 35 c-band storm detection radars, he said.

The country needed new computing models designed indigenously to deal with this data, he said, adding, there was a need for super computing skills.
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Rain hits rescue operations
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 7
Incessant rain at Rudraprayag and Joshimath yesterday affected the rescue operations for the pilgrims to Hemkund Sahib, stranded for six days in the area, on Friday.

Over 2500 pilgrims are stranded at Joshimath in Chamoli district following mudslides in the past few days, Disaster Management Department officials said.

Pilgrims stranded at Patalganga left through the 4-km trek but those with their own vehicles are trapped. The roads blocked at several places with boulders and debris could not be cleared due to rain. The 200-meter patch of the road between Joshimath and Patalganga, which was washed away, was yet to be repaired, officials said.

There were adequate arrangements for free food and lodging for the stranded pilgrims at Joshimath, officials said.

After mudslides at more than two places on July 31, over 4000 pilgrims were stranded between Joshimath and Hemkund Sahib. The mudslides took place at Tangri, Patalganga and Langsi. In the wake of blocked roads and bad weather, the yatra remains suspended, officials said.
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Lifeguard swept away in Godavari

Nashik, August 7
A young lifeguard was today swept away by the flooded Godavari here and is presumed to have drowned.

The police said 20-year-old Vinayak Gopal Dive, employed as a lifeguard by the local municipal corporation, went missing after he dived into the waters for a holy dip on the occasion of ‘adhik mas’.

Other lifeguards and fire brigade personnel are searching for his body.

The Godavari has been in turbulence following torrential rains in recent days. — UNI
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They have only God to fall back on

Deolali, Maharashtra, August 7
This kidnapping story never made media headlines but is as real to the parents of the abducted accountant Harish Hitange, as it is to the relatives of the captive Indian truck drivers in Iraq.

Sitting in their one-room house in this cantonment town in Nashik district, the parents of Harish Hitange who was kidnapped in Warsaw, Poland, on April 20, have only their faith to fall back on as all other efforts so far have failed.

Deoram Hitange and Pushpabai tearfully relate their trauma ever since they came to know about the kidnapping of their 36-year-old son, an employee of Janki Textile Company in Warsaw.

His abduction was first reported by an English daily which said his captors had chopped off three of his fingers and left them in bottles in parts of the Polish capital on three different days, demanding a ransom of 300,000 Euros for his release.

The Warsaw Police had found Harish’s abandoned car and informed his employers, who, in turn, told a friend of Harish in Nashik.

The incident never came to light until yesterday when the Ministry of External Affairs acknowledged it and a spokesman said the kidnapping was being “sincerely” investigated by Polish authorities.

Deoram and his wife, meanwhile, keep their eyes on various Indian news channels hoping that some day they would bring good tidings.

“I do not expect any help from the Indian or Polish governments in securing the release of my son. My only hope now is God,” Deoram, unable to control his tears, told UNI.

After waiting for months, he finally informed the Nashik Police about the kidnapping on July 31.

Harish’s parents said they will be leaving for Panvel near Mumbai to meet Rekha, his wife who returned from Warsaw late last night to be with her father K.P. Nepali.

Rekha (30) has returned after two months of futile efforts to secure the release of her husband.

Harish, who used to work in Dubai, had moved to Poland with his wife eight years ago. — UNI
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Withdrawal of Armed Forces Act: protests go on

Imphal, August 7
Several persons were injured when the police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters in various parts of Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, here today.

As the 14-hour curfew relaxation began at 4 am, people attempted mass court arrest prompting the police to burst teargas shells, use smoke gun and fire rubber bullets to disperse them at Sekmai, Wangoi, Mayan, Imphal, Lamsang, Moirang and some other areas.

Official sources said several persons were injured in the police action. Twelve persons were admitted to the hospital in the capital.

Organisations spearheading the agitation for lifting of the Act have threatened to close all central and state government offices indefinitely from Monday.

Chennai: Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said there would be “no rethinking” on part of the government on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act whose withdrawal has been demanded by several social and civil organisations in Manipur.

“There is no question of any re-thinking on this,” he told reporters at a function at the Heavy Vehicles Factory.

Mukherjee said a “court of inquiry” had already been ordered into the rape and murder of Manorama Devi. — PTI
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CVC to examine Haryana officer’s cases
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 7
The Supreme Court yesterday directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine the three departmental inquiries (DIs) against former Director (Primary Education), Haryana, Sanjiv Kumar, who had accused Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala of “trying to interfere” in the appointment of primary school teachers in 2000.

A Bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Mr Justice G.P. Mathur said the CVC would examine the DIs within four weeks and if it came to the conclusion that these required to be reopened, it may do so.

The state government was further directed to furnish details by August 23 as how many DIs had been initiated against the officer by the state and what was their status.

The CVC was directed to look into the matter after Sanjiv Kumar, currently under suspension, had moved a petition in this regard alleging that he did not expect fair probe by the state authorities in his cases because he had blown the whistle regarding “corruption” in appointment of teachers in Haryana.

Solicitor General G.E. Vahanavati, appearing for the CBI, submitted that instruction should be taken from the CVC before handling the investigation against the officer.

The apex court had ordered CBI investigation into the scam, in which Sanjiv Kumar had alleged that Chautala had tried to put pressure on him to replace the original list of selected candidates with a “duplicate second list” for appointment of over 3,200 primary school teachers in 2000.

The court was yesterday informed that the probe by the agency in the case was nearing completion.

The departmental inquiries related to alleged misappropriation by Sanjiv Kumar in textbook purchase during 1999 and willful absence from duty in 2001.
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JMM legislator surrenders; remanded

Ranchi, August 7
Leader of the Opposition in the Jharkhand Assembly and JMM MLA Hafiz Hussain Ansari surrendered in the court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate (SDJM) in Madhupur here today. Later, he was remanded in judicial custody.

The court, however, granted him bail in another case.

Ansari’s son Hafiz, who was to surrender along with him, however, did not turn up in the court. Mr Ansari has been sent to jail.

The case in which the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA has been sent to jail dates back to 1990 when a group of angry party activists gheraoed the Madhupur police station and demonstrated in front of it. The case in which he has been sent to custody related to manhandling a circle officer and obstructing him from performing official duty in 1999, according to Ikram, Ansari’s youngest son. “We will move a bail petition in the court on Monday,” he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of JMM activists courted arrest throughout the state in the course of their ‘jail bharo’ agitation in protest against the arrest of party supremo and former Union Minister Shibu Soren.

About 2,000 activists, led by party district president Premchand Mahato, were arrested while they were marching towards the Deputy Commissioner’s court.

In Dhanbad, about 1,000 JMM activists courted arrest. A report from Jamshedpur said hundreds of JMM activists, including its frontline leaders like Sunil Mahato, MP, and party vice-president Champai Soren, courted arrest in East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts. — UNI
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CBI raids SEBI official’s residence, office

Mumbai, August 7
The CBI today raided the office and residential premises of SEBI Chief General Manager (Derivatives) Nagendra Parakh for allegedly amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

According to CBI sources, a five-member team began raids at Parakh’s ofifce on the 29th floor of the World Trade Centre at 10 am, which continued till 3 pm.

Meanwhile, a CBI official in New Delhi said raids were also conducted at Parakh’s ancesteral house in Jodhpur.

CBI sleuths have found assets worth Rs 1.5 crore, including four flats at upmarket Andheri and Juhu. Many incriminating documents apart from cash and jewellery were seized. His bank accounts have also been frozen, the official said.

The World Trade Centre here houses SEBI’s Futures and Options Division.

SEBI, meanwhile, confirmed the raids in a press statement. “This has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the functioning of SEBI,” it said.

Around the same time, SEBI Chairman G.N. Bajpai held a meeting with senior officials of the market regulator on the 14th floor of the World Trade Centre.

A case of corruption and possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against Parakh at a Mumbai court 10 days back, the official said. — UNI
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30 hurt as police opens fire in Manipur

Imphal, August 7
The situation in Manipur worsened today when over 30 persons were injured, including three in police firing in Imphal East and West districts as hundreds of people attempted to court mass arrest to press for the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the state.

The agitators have threatened to close all state and central government offices from Monday till their demand was met, official sources said.

The police, which had been using rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke bombs since the beginning of the agitation three weeks ago, opened fire for the first time when hundreds of people attempted to court arrest at Lamlai and Wangoi areas in Imphal East and Imphal West districts during the curfew relaxation hours, official sources said.

Chennai: Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said there would be “no rethinking” on part of the government on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act whose withdrawal has been demanded by several social and civil organisations in Manipur. — PTI
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Tibet-bound experts to be in Chandigarh today
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
The Centre has finalised the team which will go to Tibet to try and “puncture” the artifical lake on a tributary of the Satluj even as latest satellite pictures show the lake to have lesser dimensions than the estimates made on the basis of data provided by the Chinese authorities.

The team comprises three persons from the Central Water Commission, an official of the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, and a tunnelling engineer of Naptha Jhakri project. The team will reach Chandigarh tomorrow and await clearence from the Chinese government before flying to the site of the artifical lake in Tibet.

Official sources said the latest satellite pictures show the artificial lake to be nearly 1.9 km long and 900 meters wide. The information provided by the Chinese authorities had described the lake to be nearly 6 km long and 1500 metres wide. “Among the first tasks of our team will be to find out the basis of information given by the Chinese government,” a senior offical said.

The Centre’s core group, comprising officials from the Central Water Commission, HP government, Ministries of External Affairs, Home and Defence besides Army and Air Force reviewed the situation today about the threat of flash flood in view of latest satellite images.

Officials said the situation was “alarming but not panicky.” They said a sudden burst in the lake could still lead to a flash flood in Satluj which will be higher in magnitude to the last floods in the river which had led to over 100 deaths and had washed away several bridges. “The main idea is to puncture the artificial lake upstream of Parechu tributay of the Satluj,” a senior offical said. They said previous satellite pictures were not clear as weather was cloudy. “Any estimate about the quantum of water in the lake will be hypothetical unless we know the depth,” he added.

With a reduced threat perception, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided not to remove the Bailey bridges over the Satluj in higher reaches of the state. Sources said the Army had been asked to be ready with “stand-by bridges” in case a flash flood comes. However, the state government has to continue precautionary measures along the Satluj banks. A mock exercise will be done tomorrow to check the speed of information flow once an alert is sounded by the Army about a burst in the lake.

Sources said suggestions have also been made to the NJPC to resume production in power houses closed due to threat of flash floods. “They would have time to take precautionary measures if a flash flood comes,” an official said.
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New treatment for limb ulcer at AIIMS

New Delhi, August 7
A team of doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have performed the country’s first surgery-less treatment for limb ulcer and vericose vein.

The AIIMS cardiac radiology department chief, Dr Sanjeev Sharma, led a group of five doctors to successfully cure three persons from chronic ulcer in a new treatment that replaced the defunct valves in veins carrying blood from the foot to the heart.

India is the fourth country after Canada, Greece and Australia to successfully carry out the new treatment developed last year.

“The new treatment does not involve any surgery. The patient can go to work the next day,” said Dr Sharma. In the new technique, a micro-puncture is made in the neck vein to insert a synthetic valve to replace the diseased valve.

“There are no known side-effects. The synthetic valve is bio-compatible,” he said. The patient is admitted only for a day and there is no general anaesthesia.

Earlier treatment for ulcer and vericose veins involved painful surgery and hospitalisation. — UNI
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Passage of Bill for Urdu varsity in UP deferred
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 7
The passage of the Bill for establishment of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University was postponed yesterday. While no official reason for the postponed was announced in the House, it is hinted that the objection to the proposed Urdu university reportedly came from the Governor who had reservations about Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan becoming the life-long pro-Chancellor.

The Bill for the university was to be debated and passed yesterday. According to sources, the Governor after giving initial consent had expressed some reservations about Mr Khan becoming its pro-Chancellor for life.

Defending the Bill, Mr Azam Khan told TNS that there was nothing novel about the Bill. It was identical to Sampoornanand Sanskrit University already in existence in the state.
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Flesh trade racket busted

Thane, August 7
The police on Saturday claimed to have unearthed a district-based racket involving kidnapping and sale of girls from Bangladesh for flesh trade and arrested five persons, including three Bangladeshi nationals in this connection. Thane Police Commissioner S. Chakraborty said five girls were also rescued from Mumbra here in a raid shortly after midnight. The girls, aged between 19 and 21 are from the Jaisud district of Bangladesh. — UNI
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BRIEFLY

Life term for priest
Muzaffarnagar:
A fast-track court in Baghpat has sentenced the priest of a temple to life imprisonment for the rape of a minor. Judge B.L. Kaiservami, found Rishiraj, priest of a Vishwakarma temple, guilty of raping a seven-year-old girl who had gone to the temple for getting prasad, prosecution said. — PTI

Bhopal Mayor removed
BHOPAL:
The state government has not only removed Bhopal Mayor Vibha Patel from the post for the remaining term of three months or so, but also declared her ineligible to contest for Mayor’s post even for the next term. The government has appointed Ms Chandramukhi Yadav, a BJP member of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation, as Mayor. — OC

Officer caught taking bribe
NEW DELHI:
The CBI has caught a senior officer of Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation (HSCC), Shillong, for accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000. According to the CBI, the officer, S.K. Gupta, had demanded Rs 1.25 lakh from a private contractor, and was caught red-handed while accepting the first instalment of Rs 25,000. — UNI

Siachen inquiry
JODHPUR:
A senior Army officer, appearing as defence witness in Siachen fake killings case, told the Military Court here that the then company commander of the Gorkha Rifles kept him in the dark about fake videos of enemy kills by concealing facts. “I cannot comment about his intentions but I can say that Col K.D. Singh concealed important facts and kept me in dark,” Brig. H.P.S. Bedi, Commander of 102 infantry brigade, told the court. — PTI

Fake company busted
PATNA:
A fake placement services company was busted during a raid conducted here on Saturday. Sources said the owner of the company, Anant, alias Piyush, was arrested during the raid conducted by the economic offence wing of the state headquarters. — UNI
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