SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI
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N A T I O N

Curfew relaxed in Imphal
Imphal, August 10
Indefinite curfew was today relaxed for 15 hours from 4 am in many parts of four valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishenpur in Manipur although the situation continued to be tense, official sources said.

Opinions: Turmoil in Manipur

Pranab rules out removal of Armed Forces Act, Assam Rifles
New Delhi, August 10
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today ruled out removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and withdrawal of the Assam Rifles from Manipur due to the situation prevailing in the state.


A model displays an outfit during a fashion show
A model displays an outfit during a fashion show held in New Delhi on Monday night.
— PTI

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Assam Rifles Commandant fails to appear before panel
Imphal, August 10
The Commandant of the 17th Assam Rifles, Col Jagmohan Singh, failed to appear before the C Upendra Inquiry Commission although the Manipur Government provided full security in and around the state guest house where proceedings of the panel were held, commission sources said here today.

Manipur University Vice-Chancellor along with employees sitting on a dharna
Manipur University Vice-Chancellor along with employees sitting on a dharna to express solidarity in the ongoing agitation demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 from Manipur, in Imphal on Tuesday. — PTI photo

EARLIER STORIES

 

Ultras of North-East to boycott I-day
Guwahati, August 10
Militant groups of the North-East have jointly called for the boycott of the Independence day celebrations and urged the people to observe a general strike on August 15.

Furore over Baba Uttarakhandi’s death
Dehradun, August 10
The death of Baba Uttarakhandi on the 39the day of his fast has caused the issue of shifting the capital from Dehradun to Gairsain to resurface in the state. The opposition joined hands to make the statewide bandh over the issue effective today.

WTO accord takes care of our interests: Kamal Nath
New Delhi, August 10
The Centre today said India’s interests in agriculture have been fully accommodated in the WTO Framework Agreement accepted during the Geneva meeting recently. The framework agreement lays the basis for further negotiations in the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations.

Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath

TN to withdraw POTA case against Vaiko
Chennai, August 10
About four months after the POTA Review Committee gave its ruling, the Tamil Nadu Government has decided to withdraw the POTA case registered against MDMK General Secretary Vaiko and eight other party functionaries.

A file picture of Vaiko, head of the Tamil nationalist Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party, during his arrest at Madras airport on July 11, 2002.  — Reuters photo
A file picture of Vaiko, head of the Tamil nationalist Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) party, during his arrest at Madras airport on July 11, 2002.

Arjun challenges RSS “to do its worst”
New Delhi, August 10
Unfazed by the RSS threat to sue him over his remarks, HRD Minister Arjun Singh today repeated his charge that RSS philosophy of “hatred and violence” killed Mahatma Gandhi.

Sentence shortened in rage killing case
New Delhi, August 10
The life sentence of a convict from Himachal Pradesh for shooting dead his younger brother in a rage for his dog spoiling his kitchen four years ago, has been reduced to 10 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court, holding that the act did not fall in the category of murder.

Green Peace Foundation activists carrying placards protest against the International Conference
Green Peace Foundation activists carrying placards protest against the International Conference on "Agricultural Biotechnology Ushering in the Second Green Revolution" outside the venue of the meeting, in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

USA exempts ministers, MPs from visa rules
New Delhi, August 10
As a fallout of the George Fernandes episode, the USA today stated that Indian ministers and Parliamentarians are exempted from biometric registration if they are on official visits to that country.

Arbitrator appointed for AAI-ITDC disputes
New Delhi, August 10
Mr V. Subramanian has been appointed arbitrator by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to look into all disputes between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), especially those relating to rentals on space occupied by the latter at airports.

Shun old methods of growth: Kalam
Bhopal, August 10
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today called upon the planners to increase connectivity to the villages making clusters out of them even while retaining their individuality. The old methods, he said, would not do.

Tribal children to get Jaipur foot
Jaipur, August 10
Rajasthan Governor M. L. Khurana yesterday launched a campaign, christened as “Sambal,” in Udaipur on with the distribution of “Jaipur foot and calipers” to disabled children of the tribal belt of the state. The campaign contemplates to cover the entire state.

Govt backs Sharma’s appointment to NHRC
New Delhi, August 10
The UPA government today supported the appointment of former CBI Director P.C. Sharma as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the Supreme Court. The appointment was made during the tenure of previous NDA government and was opposed by various human rights organisations, including the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL).

NBW issued against R.K. Gupta
Dehradun, August 10
The special court for the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act has issued a non-bailable warrant against the absconding quack, Dr R.K. Gupta, known to dupe patients with ‘miraclous cure’ for epilepsy.

Mumbai civic staff threaten mass CL
Mumbai, August 10
Employees of Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, have threatened to go on mass casual leave from Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

Appointment of JBT teachers by Haryana upheld
New Delhi, August 10
The Supreme Court has rejected a batch of petitions challenging the appointment of over 3,600 JBT teachers by the Haryana Government.

Laloo overtakes late-comers at Rail Bhavan
New Delhi, August 10
Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav overtook latecomers at Rail Bhavan here on Tuesday morning to test punctuality of his officers.

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Curfew relaxed in Imphal

Imphal, August 10
Indefinite curfew was today relaxed for 15 hours from 4 am in many parts of four valley districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishenpur in Manipur although the situation continued to be tense, official sources said.

The security and police forces have also been deployed at various places in view of the agitation launched yesterday by the 32 organisations spearheading the month-long stir to press for lifting of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Sources within the organisations which began the campaign to close all offices in the state since yesterday, told PTI that they would start picketing at the premises of both Central and state government offices in a day or two to press for their demand.

Majority of the more than 80,000 employees of Manipur government had absented themselves from duty yesterday despite a strict warning to attend offices, reports said.

Reports, however, said no untoward incident was reported so far. Official sources said a detailed report was still awaited from the districts on whether employees attended offices or not on the second day of the agitation.

Altogether 734 protestors, mostly women, have so far been injured during the month-long agitation in Manipur in protest against the alleged custodial death of Manorama Devi on July 11.

Thousands of people across the state have been staging a series of protests after 32-year-old Manorama was found shot dead on July 11 after 17 Assam Rifles personnel picked her up from her house in Bamol Kampu under Irilbung police station of Imphal East district the previous night.

Family members have denied the Assam Rifles claim that Manorama was an IED expert of the Peoples’ Liberation Army.

Meanwhile, Manipur Industries and Commerce Minister Debendra Singh left for New Delhi to apprise Central leaders of the current situation in the state.

He would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, official sources said.

Sources, however, refused to comment on whether the minister would in his meetings with the Central leaders talk of the need for withdrawal of the Act.

Both Mukherjee and Patil had earlier expressed their unwillingness to withdraw the Act saying it would complicate the situation in the state.

Work in government offices was affected second day as well due to the civil disobedience movement, launched yesterday. — PTI, UNI

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Pranab rules out removal of Armed Forces Act, Assam Rifles
Tribune News Service

Pranab Mukherjee
Pranab Mukherjee 

New Delhi, August 10
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee today ruled out removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and withdrawal of the Assam Rifles from Manipur due to the situation prevailing in the state.

In his first interaction with women journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps here today, Mr Mukherjee said that the situation in Manipur was indeed unfortunate and it was not the intent of the government to protect guilty persons (allegedly involved in the custodial killing of Manorama Devi). “Two sets of inquiries have been ordered. The guilty persons will be punished as per the law. Only last May, the state government recommended the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. If we were convinced that the state police was adequate, there would been no need to deploy the Assam Rifles and other para military forces.”

Asked to comment on Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s statement that the Assam Rifles may be pulled out of Manipur, Mr Mukherjee said, “I think there has been a lot of misunderstanding. It is normal practice that if there is any allegation against a particular unit, we don’t put them in the unit. We put them in the barracks. Incidentally, the Assam Rifles Act is a Home Ministry Act though it is under the administrative control of the Defence Ministry.”

Citing an instance to emphasise the magnitude of the problem of insurgency in Manipur, the Defence Minister said that he had received receipts of money given by a former Chief Minister and a former MLA to banned insurgent groups in Manipur.

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Assam Rifles Commandant fails to appear before panel

Imphal, August 10
The Commandant of the 17th Assam Rifles, Col Jagmohan Singh, failed to appear before the C Upendra Inquiry Commission although the Manipur Government provided full security in and around the state guest house where proceedings of the panel were held, commission sources said here today.

Sources said that Colonel Singh was supposed to appear in person before the commission, probing at 12 noon yesterday, along with the Assam Rifles advocate, but failed to turn up before the panel.

Reacting strongly against the Commandant’s failure to appear before the panel yesterday, lawyers of the victim’s family and others submitted before the panel to issue a summon to the Commandant through the state Director-General of police asking him to appear before the commission.

The counsel of the family members of Manorama Devi, whose alleged custodial death on July 11 sparked off the agitation for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, termed the absence of the Colonel as ‘neglecting’ the commission in view of the government’s order to complete the whole proceedings of the probe within one month.

Commission sources said the Assam Rifles authority, quoting intelligence sources had in its affidavit submitted before the panel on Saturday, stated that its witnesses had received threats from an underground outfit. — PTI

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Ultras of North-East to boycott I-day

Guwahati, August 10
Militant groups of the North-East have jointly called for the boycott of the Independence day celebrations and urged the people to observe a general strike on August 15.

The Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, Manipur People’s Liberation Front (Prepak-RPF-UNLF), National Democratic Front of Bodoland, National Liberation Front of Tripura, Tripura Peoples Democratic Front and the United Liberation Front of Asom in an e-mail said a 24-hour general strike from August 14 midnight should be observed in the region.

Meanwhile, the Assam Government today urged the Centre to initiate talks with the Banned ULFA On the lines of dialogues with Phizo in Nagaland and Laldenga in Mizoram which culminated in accords.

Responding to a Zero-Hour notice, Minister of State for Home Rockybul Hussain told the Assembly that the new UPA government at the Centre as well as the state government have always remained open for talks.

Stating that no feelers had been received by the state government from the banned outfit, the minister reiterated his appeal to both ULFA and NDFB to come to the negotiating table.

Mr Hussain said the government had taken all steps to contain the activities of ULFA and NDFB and the Unified Command System for counter-insurgency operations was being carried out successfully. — UNI, PTI

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Furore over Baba Uttarakhandi’s death
Swati Vashishtha
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, August 10
The death of Baba Uttarakhandi on the 39the day of his fast has caused the issue of shifting the capital from Dehradun to Gairsain to resurface in the state. The opposition joined hands to make the statewide bandh over the issue effective today. With public outcry over the death of the fasting leader across the state and political protests hotting up, the government finds itself in a tight spot.

The Opposition, together with the organisations supporting the Uttarakhand movement, burnt effigies of Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari, blocked traffic and staged demonstrations at various places in Dehradun. Banks, government and non-governmental offices apart from business establishments and shops remained closed.

Social activist Brinda Karat said on behalf of the CPM that Baba’s death was a shocking example of arrogance of power shown by the government. The BJP is equally to blame for the public outcry because it was in its regime that Dehradun was made the capital and the state was named Uttaranchal.

The government, however, maintains that it had made efforts to convince the Baba to end his fast but he refused. Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari said the demand of Baba for declaring Benital as a tourist destination had been conceded but the issue of shifting the capital lay with the Virendra Dixit Commission. The commission was yet to submit its report on the appropriate permanent capital for the hill state, he said. Besides, the setting up the temporary capital at Dehradun was the Centre’s decision and it was not possible to change the capital overnight, Mr Tiwari said.

Expressing grief at on the death of the fasting sadhu, Mr Tiwari said an inquiry has been ordered. Meanwhile, the funeral of Baba Uttarakhandi, also called Mohan Baba, took place at Satpuli in Pauri district peacefully.

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WTO accord takes care of our interests: Kamal Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
The Centre today said India’s interests in agriculture have been fully accommodated in the WTO Framework Agreement accepted during the Geneva meeting recently.

The framework agreement lays the basis for further negotiations in the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations.

“A huge gain for us at Geneva was a clear and unequivocal support on part of the developed countries to completely eliminate — not just reduce — all export subsidies by a specific end date”, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath told industrialists at a meeting organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here.

He said India was successful in securing a commitment of the developed world on an across-the-board 20 per cent reduction on trade distorting domestic support in the first year itself.

“On the other hand, the principle of special and differential treatment with regard to developing countries has been given primacy. We have ensured that not only developing countries will have access to sensitive products but over and above this we have other windows such as special products and also a special safeguard mechanism. We thus believe that we can adequately accommodate all our defensive interests in agriculture”, Mr Nath said.

In India there is subsistence farming, not commercial agriculture. In developing countries, huge subsidies amounting to more than $ 300 billion a year are given to farmers. This creates artificial prices.

“I have repeatedly said that the Indian farmer can compete with the US farmer, but not with the US Government”, the minister said.

On non-agricultural market access , Mr Nath said the July framework created additional market access for Indian industries through provision for tariff reduction in non-agricultural merchandise goods.

“Tariff peaks and tariff escalation, which at present reduce our ability to export value added items, will now be specifically addressed”, he said.

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TN to withdraw POTA case against Vaiko

Chennai, August 10
About four months after the POTA Review Committee gave its ruling, the Tamil Nadu Government has decided to withdraw the POTA case registered against Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK) General Secretary Vaiko and eight other party functionaries.

Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) S Jayakumar, who had been contending that the review committee’s order was not binding on him, filed a petition to this effect before Judge L Rajendran at the POTA court in suburban Poonamallee yesterday.

The fate of the petition would be known on August 26 when the POTA case against Mr Vaiko and others comes up for hearing.

The government’s decision to withdraw the case comes nearly four months after the POTA Review Committee had absolved Mr Vaiko and others of all charges and directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to take steps, including issuing instructions to the SPP, to seek appropriate orders from the court.

Mr Jayakumar told UNI that he had acted upon a letter issued by the Tamil Nadu Government. He said since the Supreme Court had stayed all proceedings of the trial court with regard to the case, the fate of his petition (seeking withdrawal of the case against Mr Vaiko) would be known only after the SLP filed by Mr Vaiko in the Supreme Court was disposed of.

The government’s decision to withdraw the case comes barely three days before a hearing in the Supreme Court, which had stayed the trial proceedings at the POTA court on a special leave petition (SLP) filed by Mr Vaiko.

It was on May 5 that the Tamil Nadu Government had written to the SPP to consider withdrawing POTA cases against Mr Vaiko and eight other party functionaries.

In its letter, the government had asked the SPP to consider withdrawing the case in view of the order of the POTA Review Committee that there was no prima facie case against Mr Vaiko and others and the Madras High Court stating that the review committee’s order was binding on the state government up to the extent of issuing a letter to the SPP to withdraw the case.

The SLP was filed by Mr Vaiko and eight others challenging the Madras High Court order, which had reiterated that its earlier directive to the POTA court to complete the trial proceedings and pronounce the judgment by June 30 would stand.

Based on the April 8 order of the review committee and following the Madras High Court observations that the committee’s findings were binding on the state government, Mr Vaiko twice moved the POTA court, seeking adjournment of the trial proceedings. But the POTA judge dismissed the petitions.

However, Mr Vaiko finally got relief from the apex court, which stayed all further proceedings in the POTA court.

On both the occasions when the SLP came up for hearing, the state government had told the Supreme Court that it had already asked the SPP to consider withdrawing the case.

Mr Vaiko was arrested on July 11, 2002, on his return from the USA, two days after eight of his party functionaries — ‘Madurai’ Ganesan, Azhagu Sundaram, ‘Erode’ Ganesamurthy, Veera Elavarasan, Bhoominathan, P.S. Maniam, Pulavar Sevanthiappan and Nagarajan — were arrested and detained under POTA.

They were arrested for addressing a public meeting in support of the banned LTTE (branded as a terrorist organisation under Section 4 of POTA) at Thirumangalam near Madurai on June 29, 2002.

MDMK General Secretary Vaiko described the Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to withdraw POTA cases against him and eight others as a “face-saving device”.

Mr Vaiko, who is on a “renaissance” padayatra told PTI over the phone from Kallakudi in Virdhunagar district that the government had taken the decision as the Centre was preparing to repeal POTA. — UNI, PTI

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Arjun challenges RSS “to do its worst”
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Unfazed by the RSS threat to sue him over his remarks, HRD Minister Arjun Singh today repeated his charge that RSS philosophy of “hatred and violence” killed Mahatma Gandhi.

“Since the tragic and fateful evening of January 30, 1948, when the shots fired by Nathuram Godse killed the father of the nation at a prayer meeting, I am convinced that philosophy of hate and violence, which the RSS swears by, killed Mahatmaji,” he said in a statement.

Mr Singh said his conviction had been strengthened more and more since Mahatma Gandhi’s killing “because of the various acts of members of this organisation which they inflicted on the society in the country.”

“The latest manifestation of this was witnessed during the riots in Gujarat. The world has witnessed some of the most violent and diabolical acts in a state where the RSS writ runs,” he said.

Maintaining that he was not at all surprised at the RSS reaction to his statement, he said “I would like to inform the bosses of the RSS that I am not anybody’s puppet and I have no reason to change my conviction.

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Sentence shortened in rage killing case
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 10
The life sentence of a convict from Himachal Pradesh for shooting dead his younger brother in a rage for his dog spoiling his kitchen four years ago, has been reduced to 10 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court, holding that the act did not fall in the category of murder.

“The proper conviction will be under Section 304 part-I (causing death by rash or negligent act) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) not Section 302 (murder) as done by the trial court and upheld by the High Court. The conviction is accordingly altered and custodial sentence of 10 years would meet the ends of justice,” a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice C K Thakkar ruled.

Convict Prakash Chand, in a fit of rage had fired at his younger brother Sukh Dev, alias Guddu on February 6, 2000 following an altercation over the entry of Sukh Dev’s dog in his kitchen. Prakash Chand had scolded his brother for not keeping the dog in chain. The dog had been spoiling his kitchen often and this had led to a quarrel between the two.

When tempers ran high after the verbal altercation between the brothers, Prakash Chand had gone into his room, took out his 12 bore gun and fired shots at Sukh Dev. The pellets had pierced into Sukh Dev’s chest, resulting into his death, the trial court, which had sentenced him to life for murdering his brother, in its judgement said.

The Himachal Pradesh High Court had rejected his appeal against conviction and confirmed his sentence.

Reversing the lower court’s orders to the extent that the act did not fall in the category of murder, the apex court said the convict was liable to be punished for an act of causing death by rash or negligent act under Section 304A, and not for the offence of murder.

The apex court said when a fight suddenly took place between two persons, for which both the parties were more or less to be blamed and there was mutual provocation and aggravation, it was difficult to apportion the share of blame which was attached to each fighter.

In such cases the four exceptions defined under the IPC — that the death was caused without premeditation, the fight was sudden, the offencer had not taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner and the fight must have been with person killed — had to be taken note of, the court ruled.

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USA exempts ministers, MPs from visa rules
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
As a fallout of the George Fernandes episode, the USA today stated that Indian ministers and Parliamentarians are exempted from biometric registration if they are on official visits to that country.

According to the US Embassy here, this facility is only extended to ministers and MPs on official visit and they would have to undergo biometric registration if they are visiting the US as “private citizens”.

Presently, only children below 14 years of age and adults above 79 years and official\diplomatic passport holders visiting the USA for official purposes are exempted from the new visa regulations.

The USA move has come in the wake of a bitter controversy about Mr Fernandes’s strip search twice when he visited the USA in the capacity of India’s Defence Minister.

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Arbitrator appointed for AAI-ITDC disputes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Mr V. Subramanian has been appointed arbitrator by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to look into all disputes between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), especially those relating to rentals on space occupied by the latter at airports.

This was announced after a high-level meeting between Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Tourism Minister Renuka Chaudhary here today.

Mr Subramanian, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor to both ministries, will look into all disputes between the two departments.

A major dispute between the Tourism ministry and the Civil Aviation ministry is over the former’s refusal to pay commercial rents for the space being used by it at international airports.

Besides duty-free shops, ITDC has been operating several counters and kiosks, which provide services like taxi bookings and hotel reservations, apart from tourist information booths.

After the meeting Tourism minister Renuka Chowdhury said the Indian airports were hopelessly inadequate to meet the growing traffic.

“We must facilitate travellers with faster immigration clearances and better connectivity to all cities across the country,” she said.

The Civil Aviation ministry has firmed up a Rs 5,000-crore modernisation plan for 20 non-metro airports.

Among the four metro airports, the process to modernise Delhi and Mumbai has been set in motion while Chennai and Kolkata are the next targets. The government is also in the process of developing new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad in partnership with private sector.

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Shun old methods of growth: Kalam
Our Correspondent

Bhopal, August 10
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today called upon the planners to increase connectivity to the villages making clusters out of them even while retaining their individuality. The old methods, he said, would not do.

The President was inaugurating a three-day seminar on alternative strategies of development organised by the Noronha Academy of Administration and Management. Earlier, he visited Intkhedi village, near Bhopal, and interacted with schoolchildren there. In the afternoon, he left for Gwalior on the way to Delhi.

The President said nearly 700 million people of India lived in the rural areas in 600,000 villages. Connectivity of village complexes providing economic opportunities to all segments of people was urgently needed to bridge the rural-urban divide, generate employment and enhance rural prosperity.

The integrated methods that will bring prosperity to rural India, according to him, are: the physical connectivity of the village clusters through quality roads and transport; electronic connectivity through telecommunication with high bandwidth fibre-optic cables reaching the rural areas and broadband wireless; knowledge connectivity through education, skill training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes.

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Tribal children to get Jaipur foot
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, August 10
Rajasthan Governor M. L. Khurana yesterday launched a campaign, christened as “Sambal,” in Udaipur on with the distribution of “Jaipur foot and calipers” to disabled children of the tribal belt of the state. The campaign contemplates to cover the entire state. There are about 15,000 disabled students requiring this kind of aid. The programme, likely to cost about Rs 1 Crore, would be implemented with the help of the central and state governments.

Mr Khurana is also making efforts to mobilise donors for this cause. A residential education institute for handicapped is also planned, to be named after legendary hero Maharana Sangha of Mewar.

Mr M. L. Khurana is the fourth Governor hailing form Punjab, the other three being Mr Gurmukh Nihal Singh, Mr Hukum Singh and Mr Joginder Singh.

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Govt backs Sharma’s appointment to NHRC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 10
The UPA government today supported the appointment of former CBI Director P.C. Sharma as a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the Supreme Court. The appointment was made during the tenure of previous NDA government and was opposed by various human rights organisations, including the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL).

In its affidavit, filed in reply to PUCL’s petition, seeking the quashing of Sharma’s appointment on the ground that an officer of police force, should not be appointed as a member of the NHRC, the Union Government said, “Sharma is qualified to be appointed as a member of the Commission.”

The affidavit, filed by Solicitor — General G.E. Vahanvati before a Bench of Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari, said Sharma’s knowledge and practical experience in matters relating to human rights, including investigation in cases like Gujarat riots, qualified him for becoming a member of the human rights panel.

“It is denied that the appointment is against the provisions of the Act or against the very purpose and object of appointment of the Commission. These are vague the allegations and are completely bereft of particulars,” the Union Government said.

The Court, which fixed further hearing on the PUCL’s petiton on August 31, allowed its counsel Rajinder Sachar to examine the government documents relating to the appointment of of Sharma in the chamber of Solicitor General, saying “this much transparancy in the such matter can be allowed.”

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NBW issued against R.K. Gupta
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, August 10
The special court for the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act has issued a non-bailable warrant against the absconding quack, Dr R.K. Gupta, known to dupe patients with ‘miraclous cure’ for epilepsy. The Rishikesh-based fugitive doctor, who used narcotic substances in his medicines, was not even a registered medical practitioner. Dr Gupta has absconded after a raid on his clinic by the state Health Department a week ago.

The police has sent six special teams to Delhi and other places to nab the doctor. “We have got a non-bailable warrant against R.K. Gupta and we are intensifying our search for him,” said SSP D.V.S. Prasad. Police teams had been deputed to conduct checking at various airports, railway stations and bus stands. The police had received over 12 complaints against R.K. Gupta from all over the country. Alert had been sounded at various places to ensure that he did not flee the country.

Meanwhile, the Health Department has sent the samples of medicine seized from Dr Gupta’s Neeraj Clinic at Rishikesh to the Forensic laboratory, Agra. The police, along with Health Department officials, had seized over 60 packets of medicine with high amounts of narcotic and steroid content.

The police has registered a case against R.K. Gupta under the NDPS Act, apart from Section 420, IPC. Dr Gupta has been in the news all for wrong reasons a number of times in the past. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) in 2000 declared him a quack. Subsequently, the state government ended his appointment as an honorary Ayurveda adviser to the Government of Delhi.

Dr Gupta’s ‘magic cure’ was advertised in newspapers and on television and was available against Rs 200 cut on showing the ads cuttings. The ads in major national dailies read ‘steroid-free cure for epilepsy’ and trapped a number of patients from all over the country. Dr Gupta continued to operate even after being declared a quack.

After raiding Neeraj Clinic, the Health Department plans to tighten the noose on quacks practising elsewhere in the state, duping the people with false claims, said Health Minister Tilak Raj Behar.

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Mumbai civic staff threaten mass CL
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 10
Employees of Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, have threatened to go on mass casual leave from Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

Mumbai’s arterial BEST bus service, garbage collection and water supply arelikely to be hit as employees walk away from their jobs after midnight today. Most of the public hospitals in Mumbai owned by the BMC will also be affected as health workers are participating in the agitation.

Efforts are on to call of the strike with civic officials holding talks with the Mumbai Mahanagarpalika Mazdoor Union (MMU) till this afternoon.

The MMU has, however, decided not to call the industrial action a strike keeping in view an order of the Bombay High Court in the year 2000. Acting on public interest litigation by prominent citizens, the court had then ruled the strikes by Mumbai’s civic employees illegal.

MMU leader Sharad Rao told reporters that the three-day mass CL was called after the BMC decided to give a 100 per increase in DA as against the 129 per cent demanded by the union.

Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph, however, warned that the salaries of employees going on mass CL would be cut.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has decided to come out against the strike. The party mouthpiece, Saamna, asked its loyalists employed in the Municipal Corporation not to go on strike.

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Appointment of JBT teachers by Haryana upheld
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 10
The Supreme Court has rejected a batch of petitions challenging the appointment of over 3,600 JBT teachers by the Haryana Government.

A Bench of Mr Justice P. V. Reddi and Mr Justice B. P. Singh yesterday dismissed nine special leave petitions (SLPs), filed by project teachers, challenging the appointments made by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) on June 29.

The SLPs of the project teachers were rejected after Haryana’s counsel Praveen Kumar Rai submitted that their cases were also considered for appointment and they were even given additional marks during the selection process for their experience.

The HSSC had issued advertisements for appointment of 3,606 JBT teachers last year.

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Laloo overtakes late-comers at Rail Bhavan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 10
Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav overtook latecomers at Rail Bhavan here on Tuesday morning to test punctuality of his officers.

Laloo ordered closure of entry gates of Rail Bahwan at 9.30 am, half an hour after the scheduled reporting time.

Sources in Rail Bhawan said a large number of officers had not turned up till 10 am. Of the total strength of 1619 non gazetted staff, 453 had not reported for duty till 10 am. Of the 700 gazetted officers, 66 were absent.

Taking a serious view of lack of punctuality, the Minister ordered that the officers be punished with deduction of a day’s pay.

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Mumbai civic staff to strike work

Mumbai, August 10
Employees of Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, have decided to go on mass casual leave from Wednesday to demand higher salaries.

Mumbai’s arterial BEST bus service, garbage collection and water supply arelikely to be hit as employees walk away from their jobs after midnight today. — TNS

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Boom time for Indian nurses abroad

Kochi, August 10
It is going to be boom time for Indian nurses abroad, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, if the statistics with local recruiting agencies are any indication.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are at least 1,26,000 nursing jobs vacant in the US alone. Figures compiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services indicate a demand of over 4,50,000 nurses by 2008. — UNI

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BRIEFLY

JD-U leader shot dead
Gaya:
Janata Dal (United) leader Dipak Kumar Sinha was shot dead by some gunmen at Shivpur Mohalla of Bihar’s Gaya district on Monday night, the police said. Sinha was on executive committee member of the JD-U’s Gaya district unit. Old enmity was believed to be the reason behind the killing. Raids were being carried out at different places to apprehend the killers, the sources said. — PTI

Another Godhra accused held
Ahmedabad:
An absconding accused in the Godhra train carnage case was arrested on Tuesday from Godhra town, the police said. Rauf Abdul Majiid Dhensli alias Kamli was nabbed from Satpur Odha locality in the town by a team of the anti-dacoity squad, a police official, Mr R.G. Patel said. Rauf, a resident of the Signal Falia area, owned a tea-stall on platform number two of Godhra railway station, Mr Patel added. — PTI

Man killed by wife, daughters
Guwahati:
A man was killed and then buried in the backyard of his house allegedly by his wife and two daughters for coming in the way of a thriving sex racket run by them from the residence. The incident came to light when the police on Monday recovered the decomposed body of Rezzak Bora near Bokakhat in central Assam from the backyard of his own house. The police arrested the deceased’s wife Nigar Sultana, daughter Rabina Sultana and Farhan Sultana in this connection. — UNI
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